Saturday, August 14, 2004

DEEP AND WEIGHTY QUESTIONS: The first and most obvious question about "Princess Diaries 2," I can answer--namely, why I saw it. I liked the first one, Anne Hathaway is a lovely young lady with a gift for physical comedy, and the Julie Andrews/Hector Elizondo relationship is wonderful. The sequel's not bad, although it's utterly predictable, and there's a wholly unncessary slumber party sequence that should have been cut entirely, especially a painful portion where Garry Marshall apparently thinks that we'd rather hear Disney tween starlet Raven (f/k/a Raven Symone of "The Cosby Show") sing than hear Julie Andrews sing.

There are questions I can't answer, though. Why is Stan Lee (yes, "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" creator Stan Lee) in this movie? Why is he playing "Three Stooges Wedding Guest?" Why is Kelly Clarkson recording a song co-written by Avril Lavigne? These questions and more remain to be answered.

Despite the incongruity of the Stan Lee cameo, nothing beats what happens to me when I saw the first one for surrealism. On my way out of the theatre where I saw "Princess Diaries," I was offered (and accepted) free preview screening passes for "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" the next day. I may be one of the five people in America who actually saw both of those movies.
WHEN CHILDREN RULE THE WORLD . . . TONIGHT! As Opening Ceremonies go, that was, yeah, Greek and stuff.

Opening ceremonies are one of those ridiculously self-important and over-the-top things that, well, I'm glad we do them every couple of years. Because if you had an unlimited budget to tell the story of your country, how would you tell it? Atlanta chose pick-up trucks. Athens chose freaky human statues, a lot of really impressive floating-in-the-air-on-wires work, noted Greek singer Bjork Gudmundsdottir, an Olympic cauldron that once was a prop at a Cypress Hill concert and, well, I don't think you saw this angle on American television. Or her.

("Hey, Jen," I called on the phone based on early reports. "You need to watch the early part of the ceremonies. Apparently, they've got a centaur. . . . no, not a guy dressed up like a centaur -- an actual, living centaur, who they found on some island and kept in lockdown until tonight." She didn't buy it.)

A.I. looked either overwhelmed or bored, and I'm already sick of the diving lady with the long hair. As for Rulon Gardner, I like athletes with an odd number of digits, so he's alright in my book. While Katie Couric always sounded like she was reading off cards (why not get an actual Classics major in the booth?), Costas was his normal, affable self, with my favorite moment was when he started talking about the great Greek mathematicians like Pythagoras, Euclid and Archimedes, and he started to bring the glib, if not the snark.

Your thoughts, on all this, are of course welcome, even after Bravo's badminton and table tennis coverage starts Saturday.

Friday, August 13, 2004

PROOF THAT GOOGLE IS NOT INFALLIBLE: Ah, the joys of the site meter. I took a look to see what brings people to our fine locale of late, and frighteningly, someone came here as a result of a Google search for "Pictures of David Gallagher 7th Heaven doing stuff like eating." No word on why they were searching for this subject or whether they were satisfied with what they found.
SO THIS FINALLY PROVES SHE'S NOT AN ACTRESS: As part of our continuing quest to notify our faithful readers when semi-famous people post on TWoP, it's worth noting that Amanda Naughton (aka "Jane Schmo" from "Joe Schmo 2") has shown up on the boards, and is as humble and funny as one might hope.
BON APPETIT: Julia Child has died. One of the most unexpectedly pleasant surprises at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is this exhibit, in which Child's kitchen (which she donated to the Smithsonian) is on display. I'm a little young to remember Child in her prime, but the kitchen is filled with stories and detail.

(On a snarkier note--that makes two big celebrity deaths of late. Who will fill the obligatory third slot?)
DRAFTING MEMO RE: PORN--7 HOURS: Sadly, The American Lawyer is not fully online, so I can't link to the short piece on page 25 of the July 2004 issue that provides actual billing entries from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison's representation of artist Jeff Koons in connection with his divorce from porn star Ilona Stadler. I can note that the headline is just one of many examples given in the article of billing entries that boggle the mind. Others include:

"Organized Exhibits, Reviewed Pornography, 8.5 hours."
"Reviewed Pornography, prepared 'best of' book, 12 hours."

And to think we got told when I started that "document review, 12 hours" wouldn't cut it for timesheet purposes.

TREE. FOREST. [SILENCE]: Craig Kilborn is leaving the Late, Late Show.

I confess to never having watched him much, and not being up at that hour much anyway, but I'll throw it out there: who would you like to see in the after-Dave slot now?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

YOU TAKE THE GOOD, YOU TAKE THE BAD, YOU TAKE A CLOTHESPIN AND PUT IT ON A FIVE-YEAR-OLD'S TONGUE AND THERE YOU HAVE. . . . Now in bookstores: Lisa Whelchel, "Blair" from The Facts of Life, teaches today's Christian parents how to discipline their children. Among her favored methods: pouring hot sauce on the tongue to punish bad words, walking through a backyard barefoot to clean up dog poo, yanking girls by the hair in public, and the method described in the title to this post to quell a yelling child.

As one Amazon reviewer wrote:
Lisa Whelchel is absolutely by far the most insane person on the face of the planet. What kind of person would think that having your children run through a yard full of dog crap would teach them to be responsible, and "do the job right the first time". Or my favorite, use Bible verses to tell your children that if they look at bad things ravens will peck out their eyes . . . I mean really! I forgot this is how Jesus commanded us to show others . . . especially our children, his Love. If i were one of Lisa's children i would not only hate her but also God.

Mrs. Garrett could not be reached for comment.
WELL, THERE'S ONE OPTION FOR FORMER GOV. MCGREEVEY: Yes, E! has become so desparate that they're actually seeking applications from people who believe they'd make a good "True Hollywood Story." Apply here. Any suggestions for people who need to apply?

Hat tip to Defamer for the application.
I HAVE SEEN THE FUTURE OF ROCK AND ROLL, AND IT'S...: Huckapoo! (Warning: automatic music at the link, but man, when it's the Huckapoo theme, well, who cares?)

Daniel Radosh has a list of 12 reasons why the girls from Huckapoo--PJ Bardot (the gangsta), Twiggy Stardom (the preppie), Groovy Tuesday (the hippie), Joey Thunders (the punk), and Angel Sparks (the biker/metal head)--are now his and will soon be your favorite band.
WHO WANTS A $20 MILLION PAYCHECK? Salon today contains this interesting article (yeah, you'll have to watch a brief commercial. Deal.) questioning who's the real "princess" of Hollywood for a new generation. Although Salon only deals with three names, they do represent three very different perceptions of high-school/college-age feminity. Hilary Duff is the non-threatening but cute girl who's a little behind in Algebra II. Anne Hathaway is the prim and proper sorority girl who excels in all her classes and who's never seen without her designer skirt. Julia Stiles is the angry-ish leader of the feminist reading group who'll argue with you about Catherine McKinnon's view of pornography.

In light of this article, EW's cover story from last week about the failure of Hollywood to generate new big stars, and Fametracker features like this, this, and this, I have two questions for the panel:

1. Who will be the next Julia Roberts?
2. Who should be the next Julia Roberts?

I'm a Stiles fan myself (though she needs to pick better scripts rather than the atrocious crap like "Prince & Me" she's done of late), but a case can be made for several names. Make it below.
"OFTEN PEOPLE JUST WANT SOMETHING TO MUNCH ON:" Sure USA Today gets its fair share of abuse, but when it comes to a subject like the growing ubiquity of baby carrots, I dare say Joseph Pulitzer himself would be proud of the job the nation's newspaper does in covering every angle of the story.
AT LEAST EUGENE ROBINSON APPROVES: If you've ever taken the side of management in an NBA salary or labor dispute because you think the players are a bunch of immature, amoral, oversexed, stripper-loving sybarites, here's a heart-warming story to even the scales a little bit. Donald Sterling, septuagenarian owner of the profitable laughingstock Los Angeles Clippers, seems positively proud to say that Patrick Ewing's Gold Club exploits were small-time. Warning: while consisting solely of deposition testimony, the Smoking Gun stuff is not work-appropriate.
HOLLYWOOD'S ANGEL OF DEATH: First he took out Chris Farley, Phil Hartman and that guy from Suddenly Susan. Now, is Andy Dick also responsible for the death of Rick James? Dick himself seems to thinks so.

Wake his mother and ring the bell.

update: just wait. there's more.
WHAT, NO ANDIE MACDOWELL? A British publication has listed the worst movie casting decisions of recent years. On Helena Bonham-Carter in Planet of the Apes, they write:
There are ways of ditching your Merchant-Ivory past but, Helena, this isn't the route you want to go. Covering yourself in latex and fur and still expecting to make-out with Mark Wahlberg, when he's got the scantily-clad Estella Warren hot for him, is just embarrassing. 'It's flattering to be asked to be a chimp, because you know they haven't cast you for what you look like,' was Helena's take on the subject. Only in Hollywood could having a Casting Director tell you they visualised you as a monkey be considered good news.

Somehow, George Lucas' latest Star Wars movies were unscathed by the article. Scathe them, and others, here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

IS THIS YOUR HOMEWORK, LARRY? Lebowski Fest NYC is this weekend. The Times has details.

The Dude himself will be there.
[ ] R'US? Now this is something: American's least grammatical company, Toys R' Us, may get out of the toy business.

Of course, not everyone's a fan of Geoffrey the Giraffe's empire.
HEY! IT'S THAT GUY! I'm watching last night's "Gilmore Girls" repeat on my TiVo (the infamous one from earlier this season with the much-promoted girl-girl kiss) and was shocked to see Kevin Kirkpatrick as the hotel clerk greeting Rory and Paris. He had a much better part on last night's Joe Schmo 2 finale, in which he gets to deliver the "I'm an actor! We're all actors!" speech and nearly get punched by Joe Schmo.
I LOVE THEIR COVER OF "THE REAL SLIM SHADY:" Yes, Kidz Bop 6, featuring the "Kidz Bop Kids" is now in record stores everywhere (and on iTunes). It's the album for everyone who's always felt that solid singles like Maroon 5's "This Love" and Evanesence's "My Immortal" could only be improved by having a worse vocalist sing lead, and a moderately manical children's choir singing backup. Ever wanted to hear children chant the lyrics to "The First Cut Is The Deepest?" Then this is for you! Most bizarre moments on this album? Children chanting "Too high, can't come down, losing my head, spinning round and round" on the chorus to "Toxic," and children shouting portions of the chorus of Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." Most painful? Yes, a bad children's choir chanting the inane lyrics to Hilary Duff's "Come Clean," which manages to make even worse an already bad song. What's next? Kidz Bop Country featuring chanting of the lyrics to "Redneck Woman?"

Note that I do not in fact own the album, nor do I endorse anyone actually buying it, but it's just such an oddity that it's worthy of blogging.
THE HEART AILMENTS OF ROCK AND ROLL: Buried deep down in this article about The Kinks' Dave Davies having suffered a stroke, comes the news that Davies is just one of a number of musicians on the wrong side of 50 to have heart troubles of late:
On the same day Davies had his stroke, David Bowie (news), 57, canceled his European tour due to heart-related problems. Isley Brother Ron Isley, 63, also had a minor stroke last month while overseas. And in the past week, former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner, 58, and the Oak Ridge Boys' William Lee Golden, 65, have also suffered heart-related ailments in the last week.

In other music news, Esquire has named Outkast's Andre 3000 as the world's best dressed man, beating out such fashion plates as “Today” co-anchor Matt Lauer, Prince Felipe of Spain, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

And Something Awful has a great list of the 10 Worst Rock Stars Ever, including Lenny Kravitz ("Lenny represents the pinnacle of VH1-approved lameness"), Steven Tyler ("The Rolling Stones may be old, but at least none of them look like Joan Rivers and openly lust after their own daughters"), Morrissey ("Take some Zoloft, Morrissey. Go to some dinner parties and talk about books or James Dean or whatever it is you care about...Buy a boat and a Hawaiian shirt. Go to the video store and rent “Die Hard.”), and, at No.1, the one-time American answer to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Jobriath.

HOW HIGH'S THE BIDDING, MAMA? Sotheby's has the catalogue up online for the upcoming auction of the estate of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and while you won't be able to bid on, say, a burning ring of fire or the gun used in that Reno shooting, there are plenty of items among the 760+ lots to fit almost any budget, ranging from Johnny's Louis Armstrong automatron, which serenaded the Man in Black from his wardrobe closet and is expected to fetch in the low hundreds, to the couple's 1987 Rolls Royce (low mileage!), which will set you back some $60,000.
THAT'S THE BAD ONE: As eagle-eyed Kim pointed out at 8:52 p.m. on August 10 (an hour and eight minutes before the episode started), the difference between C&C and Hi-Lo was seven hours and fourteen minutes. The winner of the Inaugural Amazing Race Betting Pool is therefore Finch (7:07), edging out Matt (7:22) by exactly one minute. Finch: to claim your worthless prize, please email your address to and in four to thirty or so weeks you may receive something in the mail that may or may not be distinguishable from junk mail. Isaac, with a bid of 10:30, was the last to arrive. I'm sorry to say that I've been eliminated from the Inaugural Amazing Race Betting Pool.
"YOU LOOKED FOR THE THREE MOST GULLIBLE PEOPLE YOU COULD FIND AND THEY WERE ALL IN D.C.?" In addition to ALOTTFMA semi-official (and wholly legal) addiction "The Amazing Race," last night marked the two hour finale of "Joe Schmo 2." While reality finales are normally tons of fun, "Schmo" gives you the joy of not just closure of the "reality" story (Piper and Austin must choose between their final suitors and "rekindling the embers of love" with each other) but of the "big reveal" in which the Schmos discover that everyone around them is an actor. Yes, we get the reveal almost being blown by an over-observant Schmo, a teary-eyed actress guilty over playing her part too well, removal of false teeth by the host, brilliant "Average Joe" parody, and perfect use of the word "Jackpot!"

Tim Walsh (aka "Joe Schmo") has been boring for much of the season, but finally gets a chance to shine, both in his response to the big reveal and in his performance in the hysterical "Average Joe" segment where he dresses up as his ugly cousin. He's authentically the kind of guy you'd WANT to sit down and have a beer with. Amanda (aka "Jane Schmo 2") still doesn't have much of a personality, unfortunately, and aside from a great moment at the final "Promise Ceremony," continues that trend. The one downer? Not enough time with former Schmo turned actress Ingrid Wiese, who may well be the most appealing and decent reality show contestant of the year. Well worth checking out on one of SpikeTV's endless repeats between episodes of "Highlander" and "Star Trek: Deep Space 9."
I'M A REPORTER, NOT A CRIMINAL! Not to be outdone by Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper's defiance of the Valerie Plame inquiry, "60 Minutes" correspondent Mike Wallace got himself arrested on disorderly conduct charges last night for talking smack to some NYC taxi cops.

Up next: Ed Bradley jaywalks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

WORSE REVIEWS THAN THE LATEST SPIKE LEE JOINT? Apparently, the good people of Athens are hating on Olympic mascots Phevos and Athena, about whom we've commented before in this arena.

Via a loyal reader.
BUT IF YOU TRY SOMETIMES, YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED: Well, since we've already had discussion in the comments, it is my duty to open this week's Amazing Race-related thread. Another damn fine episode, with eviscerated leads, a roadblock that, like "Caviar Emptor" two weeks ago, manages to shuffle the order of teams rather than being first in first out, multiple instances of a bathing God, and an ending where a team, for once, gets exactly what they ask and what we want. Since most of America is only 16 minutes in to the show, I won't spoil further, but the comments are, as always, fair game.
YES, BECAUSE THERE AREN'T ENOUGH LAWYERS ON TV ALREADY: Eagle-eyed viewers have already identified at least one contestant for "The Apprentice 2" based on promos. Jennifer Massey is an associate with the firm of Clifford Chance Rogers and Wells, and is presently not listed on Martindale or the Clifford Chance website. She used to be an associate with Brobeck, Phleger, & Harrison, the law firm that imploded into bankruptcy about a year ago. This may well prove to be a plus to the Donald in light of recent events.

Brobeck's spawned one other reality show contestant of note, and that one ended badly for all concerned. Further updates as events warrant.
HERE'S THE STORY OF THE HURRICANES: In honor of my name being used last week for the season's first hurricane, which thankfully was rather benign as these things go, here's a handy link to the 10 Deadliest Hurricanes in U.S. history, as well as the 10 Costliest and 10 Most Powerful.

Monday, August 9, 2004

ADAM, BOARD UP THE HOUSE! South Philadelphia has seen its share of culinary predators before, such as El Wingador, Derrick Coleman and John Kruk.

However, this may be the worst challenge yet: yo, the dreaded Northern snakehead is across the street from the Linc. Adam, are youse ready?
ALSO, WE HAVE NO MEN'S FIELD HOCKEY TEAM: Five things I learned by reading the NYT's Olympics special section yesterday:
1. KHORKINA! is back. This makes me irrationally happy. The diva is in the house.

2. Among the things which are Olympic sports, even while rugby is not, are Team Rhythmic Gymnastics and Synchronized Diving. Shoot me now.

3. I have officially read enough about Michael Phelps. Okay, he's to butterfly swimming what Michael Johnson was to the 200 meter sprint. Let's see him do it already.

4. Is there a better nickname in all of sports than The Thorpedo? Yeah, I didn't think so. Did you know Ian Thorpe's feet were size 17?

5. This is a lot of television coverage.

I still refuse to believe that Misty May is the name of an actual Olympian.
SILLY RABBIT: In honor of Advertising Week NYC (me neither), Yahoo and the USA Today are running a poll to determine the favorite ad icon of all time and the favorite ad slogan. Since this isn't "the greatest" or "most influential," there's no real way to guess who and what will win, but this blogger put a vote in for Tony the Tiger and "Got Milk?"

One complaint: Where the hell is Spuds MacKenzie?
AS LONG AS WE DON'T HAVE TO SUFFER THROUGH "THE SIMPLE LIFE 3," I'M OK WITH IT: The AP reports that over the weekend, an unknown criminal broke into the L.A. home of Paris and Nicky Hilton, where, according to sometime TV star Paris, they stole "Everything ... Just all my valuables. All my jewelry. All my money." Sweetie? I suspect there's a little in the bank still. More hopefully, Paris reports that her beloved chihuahua, Tinkerbell, remained unharmed.

More frighteningly, the report cites an "unnamed source" as saying that among the things stolen were "video tapes and photographs of Paris Hilton with ex-boyfriend Nick Carter." For the good of humanity, I'm afraid of what might be on those videotapes, and where they might show up next.

Sunday, August 8, 2004

ABSOLUTELY UNREQUESTED PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT: I've become a big fan over the past few weeks of Betty Crocker Snackin' Cake Mixes. I don't cook that often--when you're lucky to get home before 7:30, it's hard to motivate yourself to cook when you get home, so I eat a lot of bad fast food and cheap restaurant dinners--at least when I'm not eating on the firm's dime. But one thing I can do is pop something desert-like in the oven and have it come out half an hour later, hot and fresh. These work great for that, given that they're "just add water" products--no need for milk, eggs, butter, or a separate bowl. Even better? They reheat amazingly well, allowing continuing noshing the next day or even two days later, while keeping that "fresh from the oven" taste. Worth the $2.99.
I KNOW MIKE NICHOLS. MIKE NICHOLS IS A FRIEND OF MINE. YOU'RE NO MIKE NICHOLS. Despite the warning previously posted here, I ventured forth to "Little Black Book" this afternoon. The biggest sin it commits is a simple one--it's not "Working Girl." The film desperately wants to be "Working Girl," and the references fly fast--the manipulative boss, the use of Carly Simon songs, the workplace competition. Heck, Holly Hunter's character has a "Working Girl" poster next to her desk, and the poster is discussed by the two main characters at one point. In fact, I'd bet that a relatively small part played by Sharon Lawrence was actually offered to Melanie Griffith.

That said, the film's not irredeemable. Although, as I feared, Brittany Murphy is largely a black hole of suck, and doesn't successfully pull off the character, which has to be likable despite doing some utterly despicable things. Her acting's weak enough that when she voiceovers "Why do I feel so bad?" you don't think she's feeling bad. The rest of the acting, though, isn't horrid. Though I spent 3/4 of the movie wondering why the hell Holly Hunter took the part, but in the final act, Hunter's character finally gets a couple of truly great speeches, which makes you see what Hunter might have seen in the script. The other good news? Ron Livingston demonstrates exactly why he should play Myron Bolitar, if those books ever get made into movies. He's easy and charming in his part, and I can picture him finally doing that.

It also features the most bizarre rock star cameo of the year--no, not one at the end (though there's one there, too), but Gavin Rossdale in a relatively small role.