Saturday, November 12, 2005

AND IT WASN'T EVEN SPRING BREAK: Apparently America has a new major public health--teenage girls going wild. As one observer said--"It just seemed like a girl frenzy."

Friday, November 11, 2005

SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE, DO NOT TRY TO FIGHT THE SEETHER: The 90s must really be over, because Veruca Salt is ready for its comeback.
OUR HISTORY WILL BE WHAT WE MAKE IT: For those readers who enjoyed Good Night, And Good Luck and were interested in reading Edward R. Murrow's actual keynote address to the 1958 Radio-Television News Directors Assocation annual convention, which framed the movie, we can do that:
I am frightened by the imbalance, the constant striving to reach the largest possible audience for everything; by the absence of a sustained study of the state of the nation. Heywood Broun once said, "No body politic is healthy until it begins to itch." I would like television to produce some itching pills rather than this endless outpouring of tranquilizers. It can be done. Maybe it won't be, but it could. Let us not shoot the wrong piano player. Do not be deluded into believing that the titular heads of the networks control what appears on their networks. They all have better taste. All are responsible to stockholders, and in my experience all are honorable men. But they must schedule what they can sell in the public market. . . .

We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.

I do not advocate that we turn television into a 27-inch wailing wall, where longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture and our defense. But I would just like to see it reflect occasionally the hard, unyielding realities of the world in which we live. . . . This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box.
WHAT, IZZY? We do dig Olympic mascots in this forum, and therefore I'm happy to announce that Beijing 2008 has unveiled not one, not two, but five "Friendlies" to serve as mascots for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad:
Designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends, the Five Friendlies also embody the natural characteristics of four of China's most popular animals -- the Fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow -- and the Olympic Flame.

In China's traditional culture and art, the fish and water designs are symbols of prosperity and harvest. And so Beibei carries the blessing of prosperity. A fish is also a symbol of surplus in Chinese culture, another measure of a good year and a good life. The ornamental lines of the water-wave designs are taken from well-known Chinese paintings of the past. Among the Five Friendlies, Beibei is known to be gentle and pure. Strong in water sports, she reflects the blue Olympic ring.

Each of the Friendlies has a rhyming two-syllable name--a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini is the Swallow.

You can see the super-cuddly-and-not-at-all-indicative-of-any-looming-threat-towards-Taiwan Five Friendlies engaging in all the Olympic disciplines, including a Panthers cheerleader-quality judo match, via this link.

(Also, what are the odds I can get right now on Yao Ming being the final torchbearer?)
WHICH PEOPLE'S CHOICE? Allegedly, "pop culture fans" helped determine the nominations for the upcoming People's Choice Awards. Some nominations are delightful and well-deserved (Cameron Diaz as "Leading Lady"), but mostly, I offer a befuddled, Jon Stewart-esque (and he's not even NOMINATED), "Whaaaa?" Among the inexplicable nominees:
  • Sandra Bullock, whose film output this year consisted of a tiny role in Crash and the exerable Miss Congeniality 2 as "Female movie star"
  • The Rock as "Male action star"
  • That 70s Show as "TV Comedy"
  • Fear Factor over TAR in "Reality Show Competition"
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt as "Female TV Star."
  • Nary a nomination for Lost

I suspect there might be some "pop culture fans" around here that'd have something to say about this.

TELL ME THERE WON'T BE A SPINOFF: This is going to be a sad year for TV viewers, as we are likely to bid "adieu" to a number of great and/or once-great shows--The West Wing, Alias, and Arrested Development are all looking mighty unhealthy at this point. The good news, though? We will not have to endure another season of 7th Heaven, which the WB is mercifully putting to rest at season's end.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

SOMEONE FORGOT TO DUST OFF THEIR COPY OF DISORDERLIES: With 50 Cent's new movie now playing in a theater near you, Entertainment Weekly lists the top 10 performances by hip-hop artists in films, completely ignoring the comedic stylings of Markie, Buffy, and Kool, not to mention the acting chops of one Robbie Van Winkle in Cool As Ice.
THE LIGHTS OF BROWNSVILLE, ACROSS THE RIVER SHINE: Loyal reader Adam C. just caught two straight nights of BRUUUUUUCE! at the Philadelphia Spectrum, and was good enough to file this report:
"This one's for the moms and dads." In a simple line by way of introduction of "Long Time Comin,'" from his latest album, Devils & Dust, Bruce Springsteen summed up a long-brewing turn in his nearly 35 years of popular storytelling. His early songs often return to the theme of fathers and sons….but back then, Bruce was the son chafing under the stern father, singing about their divergent paths and wants, about the indignities his working-class pa had to endure, about getting out. Since he became a father himself, though, he has frequently examined the parent's desire to protect the child, to hope, to do better by the next generation -- how, to paraphrase "Long Time Comin'," not to eff it up this time.

Over the last two nights at the theater-configured Spectrum in Philadelphia -- always a venue where Bruce brings the magic -- he took the crowd down both paths, exploring the theme of family bonds - fathers, mothers, children, brothers (biological and in-arms), husbands and wives. And then he blew the doors off the place by dipping into his vast catalog for deep album cuts (like The River's sublime "Drive All Night," not played live in 24 years, and "Fade Away") and fan-favorite obscurities ("Thundercrack" and -- shaking off 32 years of dust -- "Santa Ana") that earned him long and loud standing ovations.

Moving mostly skillfully from guitar to piano to electric organ, and then entertainingly to ukelele ("I Wanna Marry You," "Growin' Up"), pump organ (the hypnotic cover of Suicide's "Dream Baby Dream" with which he now closes each show), and even autoharp ("The New Timer"), Bruce kept the crowd alternately at rapt, respectful attention and in foot-stompin', hand-clappin', rollicking good spirits. New arrangements of "The Ties That Bind" and "Adam Raised a Cain" stood out, and faithful renditions of other favorites from The River and Nebraska helped flesh out both shows. Pins could have been heard to drop during a fantastic version of "Highway Patrolman."

Both nights found Bruce in strong voice, with a range that has stretched over the years to include a falsetto that he uses to nice accompanying effect in some of the more contemplative songs. He was loose and ready to make with the funny too -- a factor noticeably absent for much of his first solo tour nearly a decade ago and even the first leg of this tour, when he was still heard to crankily admonish fans to shut up during the slow songs. Introducing a gorgeous piano version of "Incident on 57th Street," he spoke about the hidden subtext of all great pop songs -- they all ask the musical question "Will you pull down your pants?" as in "Tramps like us, baby we were born to run…and would you please pull down your pants." Both nights, he led into "Jesus Was an Only Son," off the latest album, by recalling his Catholic upbringing in Freehold, New Jersey, where virtually every member of his wacky extended family lived along an L-shaped street dominated by the local church, convent and rectory. But where on night 1 he used an extended thumb and forefinger to represent the street as he described the lay of the neighborhood from the piano bench, on night 2 he gleefully offered a demonstrative exhibit to the crowd -- a hand-drawn visual aid on posterboard, done in colorful magic marker by an eager fan, which tracked almost exactly his description from the night before. He moved confidently from the lighthearted introduction into the song and then, between verses, gave us the VH1 Storytellers treatment, talking about what he was thinking about while writing the lyrics.

(A side note: while I share Max Weinberg's faith and not Bruce's, "Jesus Was an Only Son" is a terrific, moving song about a mother's devotion to her son and coming to terms with loss. Just happens to involve Mary and Jesus as the main characters.)

Lest you think the hero worship here is getting a bit too thick (I swear I was not the fan who supplied that visual aid), I'll say that there are two very surmountable problems with the show as constructed. Each night, Springsteen converts one or two of his songs from the River-Nebraska-Born in the USA canon into a Delta blues wail, Robert Johnson style (lyric, bluesy wa-waaaa-wa-wa harmonica riff, lyric, etc.). I like the concept, and the songs adapt well in theory -- but in execution, it's just unintelligible. He sings these revamped versions into something called a "bullet mic," which gives an echoey, crackly distortion effect to the vocals and harmonica (as if you are hearing a long lost Edison cylinder recording), while he accompanies himself with foot stomps on a mic'ed up platform. Whether it's the sound mix, the Spectrum acoustics, the technology or a combination of those factors, you just can't hear the lyrics. At all. The first night, he opened with "Born in the USA" in this style, and it took me two verses to figure out what the hell the song was -- others were still scratching their heads at the end of the show wondering what he'd opened with. (Though his energetic foot stomping did provide an early opportunity to lighten things up -- his water glass fell from a nearby side table and shattered mid-song, and the Tiffany-style lamp on the table also broke, prompting Bruce to note, "That lamp was on loan….[my wife]'s gonna kiiiiiiiillllll me."). The bullet mic mix the second night, this time on "Reason to Believe," was a little better, but this is a kink that should have been worked out well before the middle of the third leg of the tour.

Issue the second: Both nights, the main sets closed with devastating first-person narratives ("The Hitter" on night 1, "The New Timer" on night 2, each followed by "Matamoras Banks"). The songs are lyrically rich and challenging and fit thematically with the relationship motif running through the show, but the tone is just too relentlessly downbeat, and the pace is deadeningly slow. Bruce loses folks here -- certainly some of the more casual fans -- by saving these songs until the end of the main set. That said, (a) he leaves 'em wanting more, and (b) he gets the crowd right back before playing the first note of the encore when he strides back out on stage with a ukelele and quips "I woke up one morning in the penthouse of the Disneyland Resort hotel with two Mouseketeers, Britney Spears, and this ukelele…."

These solo shows are not for everyone, or even for every Bruce fan. If you want to dance around and sing along in full voice to Born to Run, Rosalita, Badlands, or the like, you'll not find those opportunities here. But you had your chance to see that show for the past two tours, in big arena and stadium settings. This is a more intimate deal, generally a more quiet and introspective take on his music mixing the old, the new, and the new versions of the old -- a return to Bruce as singer-songwriter-troubadour. My bottom line: I have seen Springsteen play live 16 times since 1988, with the E-Street Band, as a solo act, and with his 1992-era non-E-Street backing group, and these outstanding Spectrum gigs over the past two nights have zoomed right into my top 5 Bruce shows.
I'M STEVE MCQUEEN (NO. 31), I'M JIMMY DEAN (NO. 30): But I'm not Cary Grant, who is No. 1 on Premiere Magazine's list of the top 50 movie stars of all-time.

Hat tip to Popwatch.
WILL TIPPIN RETURNS TO THE WITNESS PROTECTION POOL, WHERE HE WILL BE JOINED BY GEORGE-OR-IS-IT-OSCAR BLUTH: FOX is feeling grinchy a month or two early. I'm sorry to report that Arrested Development's house order has once again been cut back. I am somewhat less sorry to report that FOX will not be picking up Kitchen Confidential for a full season, but only because I never got around to watching it in light of my unexpected affection for How I Met Your Mother. Neither show will be appearing during the rest of November sweeps.

Very very very small silver lining alert: You can use this opportunity to brush up on your Prison Break reruns, which will be running in the AD/KC slot.
NO, "OLD JOE'S PLACE" HAS NOT BEEN ADDED TO THE SCORE: Michael McKean has joined the cast of this spring's Harry Connick, Jr. fronted revival of The Pajama Game. Let's hope it goes better than Connick's last Broadway effort, which managed to squander a decent score from Connick, some phenomonally talented actors (Craig Bierko, Norbert Leo Butz), and not a bad idea. I might even pay full price.
YEAH, I'D BE CUTER WITHOUT GUM IN MY BRACES: TV Squad's got a view as to the five nerdiest TV characters. The list feels a little after my time (except for Cliff Clavin, of course) -- I think we here at ALOTT5MA can do better. I like the Patty Greene on Square Pegs idea, to pick a nostalgic candidate. Or Gopher. Or Richard from Beauty and the Geek, to throw in a reality TV pick. And then, of course, there's always Marshall Flinkman.
WHERE YOU LEAD, I WILL FOLLOW: TV Guide's Michael Ausiello had a nice long chat this week with Amy Sherman-Palladino, the wunderkind behind Gilmore Girls. It was sufficiently interesting that I thought I'd offer up a few of her observations. (I'm leaving out the parts with the spoilers, but you can find them in Ausiello's column if you're interested.)

On the the Rory/Logan relationship: "Logan and Rory are going to hit a rough patch. Logan and Rory's relationship has never been based on deep talkin'. Their relationship has been based on 'Let's have fun! Let's avoid reality! Let's just go play and party!' And Rory doesn't want to avoid reality anymore. And that's going to alter her relationship with Logan. [That being said,] we have [Matt Czuchry] for the entire year, so kids need to remember that. He's getting paid for the whole year. You don't want to waste that when you're paying for it. But there are going to be a lot of ups and downs for Rory and Logan."

On why we haven't heard Lorelai and Luke whisper those three little words to each other: "To me, they say 'I love you' to each other every single day. Everything that they do, the way they care for each other, the way they take care of each other.… 'I love you,' for me, is a tricky phrase on television because I think it's way overused, as it is in life. I think they constantly button scenes with, 'I love you.' 'I love you, too.' 'I love you, Mom.' 'I love you, Butchy.' 'I love you, Johnny.' 'I love you, Fluffy.' There's just nothing but I love yous and so little goes behind it. And part of what I love about Luke and Lorelai is they don't do that. They just love each other. They just take care of each other. They just support each other. They do everything that you're supposed to do and they don't have to say 'I love you' 100,000 times. And when the words finally come out and when we feel like we actually need to write them down, it's probably going to come at a very odd time."

I think this is a woman who ought to be writing for TV, you know?
KILLER APP OF THE MONTH: Screw the Video iPod; how about a cellphone that constantly feeds scores and news from ESPN?

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

HE KNOWS HOW TO KILL BOARS AND SWADDLE A BABY? Lost's major plot development will have to wait for the comments, but that was quite an episode. Seems to me that Vincent is some sort of walkie-talkie. When did Charlie become Super-self-righteous-dad? How medieval is Sayid going to get on someone's tushy? Why does WetWalt talk backwards? Where did that Tailaway go? And why did my daughter just wake up and demand attention? You're on your own, kids.
WAIT FOR IT. WAIT FOR IT. Y'know, the brilliance of Arrested Development really shines through in that it, unlike pretty much any other sitcom on air, can actually be worthy of a second viewing. In light of the revelation about Rita's status as MR. F, it's just brilliant to rewatch and recognize just how obvious the seeds laid in the character were. Things we saw as creepy spy stuff take on a whole different tone. And, honestly, who didn't love the brilliance that was the final "next on Arrested Development" bit this week? Is there a show (drama included) that pays more attention to continuity?
DONKEY KONG IS A DIFFERENT STORY: Now, I'm not one who's necessarily opposed to movie merchandising. But isn't licensing "King Kong" for use as a lottery game a bit much?
WHO'S NEXT: I'm still obsessed with the new Neil Diamond album, 12 Songs, which is receiving glowing reviews all over the place. (If you haven't listened to it yet, it is still streaming here.) As you probably know, Diamond paired with producer Rick Rubin, the man responsible for Johnny Cash's last career renaissance, for 12 Songs, and the result is magical. Some of the elements that made the Cash-Rubin collaborations work so well are here, too, but the main triumph of 12 Songs is the conflict between Rubin's approach and Diamond's inherent showmanship and bombast. While Cash sounded like a man with a foot in the grave reflecting on his entire life, Diamond, while acknowledging his mortality seems to be insisting he still has something left to offer.

(For those interested in reading more about the Rubin-Cash sessions, Vanity Fair had a great article on the subject in its October 2004 issue. If you're motivated, the article on the farce of the presidential election in Florida in 2000, is worth reading too.)

All of this is a roundabout way of trying to ask you who you think would benefit from a Rubin Extreme Makeover. The ideal candidate will have been someone with a great deal of talent who at some point went astray. Paul McCartney seems an obvious choice, but he's too big a name. It also needs to be someone who you've almost forgotten was once a real talent. No one is ever going to forget what McCartney or the Stones or Stevie Wonder once were, no matter how many decades they are removed from their artistic salad days.

A music critic friend of mine suggested Rod Stewart, who I think is a great choice for Rubinizing. Who do you think?
NOW WE PLEDGE OURSELVES TO HOLD THIS BARRICADE: So apparently we're all really happy about the French riots. Go figure.
HE'S OFTEN TOO SEXY FOR HIS SHIRT: Following up on a post from Adam a couple of weeks ago, Page Six reports that People will be naming Matthew McConaughey as the Sexiest Man Alive. Given that he's already suffered from the Vanity Fair cover curse (other victims--Gretchen Mol, arguably Reese Witherspoon, given the underperformance of Just Like Heaven), can he overcome this one?
I DIDN'T KNOW THAT YOU WERE TURNING INTO MY MOTHER'S MOTHER: For all you Lorelai/Rory 'shippers, looks like the band is finally going to get back together next week. Who knew -- except for anyone who saw the promos for the highly touted Milo Ventimiglia guest spot -- that it would be Jess Mariano who would finally knock some sense into Rory's DAR-addled skull? I don't love the heavy-handedness shown by the writers in transforming Logan into the Grand Drunken Asshole of the Life and Death Brigade, but at least Matt Czuchry got something to do besides find Rory a good A/V guy for her latest DAR event.

But the big highlight of this episode was without a doubt the Emily / Rory smackdown in front of the balalaikas. Although it wasn't the most nuanced depiction of Emily we've ever witnessed, it's about time that someone realized that Lorelai is the fulcrum on which all of these relationships are balanced.
THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND: The first I'd heard about the NextGen obsession with The Golden Girls was when The O.C.'s Summer bonded with Seth-Cohen's-other-girlfriend Anna over their mutual affection for the show. But apparently young Gen Y (or did we hit Gen Z sometime when I wasn't paying attention?) ladies are more caught up with the misadventures of Blanche, Rose, and the gang than I'd thought.
NOT EVEN THE ONE ABOUT THE DOCTOR? Okay, that's enough -- please, Features Editors of America, no more Sarah Silverman stories! (Although, somehow, the NYT managed to write one today without retelling a single joke of hers.)

I will say this one last time: transgression is not inherently funny. There needs to be a point. She's just not worth this attention.
"I AM THE MOST CONSERVATIVE, REACTIONARY SPORTS FAN I HAVE EVER MET": As part of its fifth anniversary celebration, ESPN's Page 2 has added author Chuck Klosterman as a regular columnist.

Whether you should read it is pretty much determined by whether you appreciate this paragraph on the Minnesota Vikings sex cruise:

Sure, but what kind of latte does Chuck drink?
THE AMAZING RECURRING THREAD: I've only seen half of this week's Race episode so far, and I was amused. Mostly by the Airport Intrigue of learning that the fastest way from Costa Rica to Phoenix is through . . . Newark? All your thoughts are belong to the Comments.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

"LAST DANCE" HAS AN OSCAR? A question for discussion--what's the best song to ever win the Best Original Song Oscar? Obviously, there are some enduring classics there ("When You Wish Upon A Star," "Swinging On A Star," "Over the Rainbow"), some holiday classics ("White Christmas," "Baby, It's Cold Outside"), and big hits we're somewhat ashamed of ("You Light Up My Life," "The Morning After," "The Way We Were"). But for my money? The solidest pick is 1972's winner--"Theme From Shaft." Damn right.
AND TO TOP IT OFF SHE TOTALLY WAS NOT WEARING CLEAN UNDERWEAR: Are you having a bad day? At least you didn't crash your car into an electrical substation, barely avoiding injuries from the collision and escaping electrocution only to be hunted and killed by a million-strong swarm of pissed-off bees.
TOE PICK! Now, I understand the logic of direct to video sequels for some films--they're an easy way to make money off a known franchise without spending the money for a theatrical release. But did we really need a sequel to the 1992 iceskating romantic comedy The Cutting Edge (which, bizarrely, was written by the guy who wrote The Bourne Identity)? Did it need to star Disney Channel tween star Christy Carlson Romano? The mind boggles.
LINGUINE AND SARDINES: I've put off posting about The Odd Couple because I had trouble formulating any cohesive narrative thought about it. So instead, I offer some bullet points and then a transition into a completely different topic.

First, the bullet points.

  • I just don't like Matthew Broderick. I know I've rehashed this topic repeatedly, but enough with the adenoids already. That being said, he has some cute moments as Felix, most of which don't involve the use of his voice. He does an obsessive-compulsive pas-de-deux with a vacuum cleaner that is quite entertaining, and a bit where he takes on the embittered-wife role with Oscar is a riot.
  • Nathan Lane really shouldn't be playing Oscar Madison. He's just not so believable as a sloppy hard-drinking wanna-be womanizer. Lane really came into his own in the fourth act, when Oscar has had it up to here with Felix and pretty much loses his mind and transforms back into Nathan Lane. Lane plays seething hysterical frustration like no one else -- when his voice goes up several octaves and several decibels to shout that the pasta isn't spaghetti, it's linGUEEEEEEE-NEEEEEEEE, I couldn't breathe for the next two minutes for all the laughing and the crying that goes with all the laughing. But that was one act out of four.
  • Brad Garrett would have no career whatsoever if he were a foot shorter and his voice were an octave higher. He's a lucky lucky member of the gene pool.
  • But did I have a major HITG! moment of the highest order. I spent the first fifteen minutes of the show staring at Roy, Oscar's accountant and one of Oscar and Felix's poker buddies, thinking "I know who that is, I know who that is." But the actor's name, Peter Frechette, didn't ring any bells. When I got home, I checked to see if I was correct, and oh, what a happy day: Peter Frechette had the honor of portraying Louis DiMucci in the vastly underrated cinematic masterpiece that is Grease 2. (A/k/a the Let's Do It For Our Country guy.)
  • All of this being said, The Odd Couple is a perfectly serviceable and entertaining night at the theatre. One thing that would make it better: Broderick and Lane doing a John C. Reilly / Philip Seymour Hoffman in True West role switcheroo.

As Mr. Cosmopolitan and I were walking home commenting on the perfectly serviceable and entertaining night we'd had at the theatre, we took a minute to reflect on another evening at the theatre that rose far beyond perfectly serviceable and entertaining.

Three weeks after September 11, 2001, we stood in line to undergo several rounds of NYPD-sponsored security in order to see the Broadway revival of Noises Off. Noises Off -- in my view the funniest play ever written -- is laugh-your-ass-off hilarious even without great acting. But a spectacular cast, including Peter Gallagher, Patti LuPone, Faith Prince (just to mention the recognizable names), and especially the brilliant Katie Finneran, managed to transform a theatre full of shell-shocked New Yorkers aching for something to fill their collective emptiness into a community of joyously delirious lunatics, struggling to breathe in between shrieks of laughter. I remember looking over at my normally even-keeled husband and watching him quake in his seat, both hands over his mouth and tears pouring down his face, struggling to keep himself together as Katie Finneran ran up and down the stairs shouting "No bag! No bag! No bag!"

A more transcendent night of theatre I have never experienced. Take that, Matthew Broderick.

HE'S GOING TO SHAKE AND SHIMMY IT THE BEST HE CAN: It's Broadway-to-Hollywood week here, which leads to another news item I don't believe we've discussed: for the upcoming Hairspray adaptation (like The Producers, screen-to-stage-to-screen), are you intrigued or appalled by the notion of John Travolta taking Harvey Fierstein's signature role as Edna Turnblad with Billy Crystal as her husband, Wilbur?

Set to film next spring, producers are looking at unknowns for Tracy Turnblad, and are talking to Aretha Franklin as Motormouth Maybelle.

Monday, November 7, 2005

SPEAKING OF WHICH: Piggybacking off of Matt's point below, the beginning of sweeps month leads to the return of a regular question here: What's the best show we're not watching?

I can tell you that MTV's Miss Seventeen, based on an initial watching, merits attention: think America's Next Top Model but with budding journalists. Cute urban fun. Also, I have a feeling that if I were ten years younger, I'd be all over Laguna Beach -- but at this point, not only have I never watched it, I don't even know if it's scripted or reality.
TAX ATTORNEY/TAXIDERMY--INTERCHANGABLE: I tried Prison Break when it premiered, and just wasn't feeling it, so I'd like to suggest an alternative for viewing on Monday nights--the WB's Related, which moved from a death slot Wednesday against Lost to Mondays at nine. Basically, take one part Felicity (college student trying to find her way in the world), one part Gilmore Girls (fast talking women with pop cultural references), one part Sex And The City (the adventures and misadventures of NYC women in love and lust), and just a pinch of Mad About You (newly married couple trying to find their way together). Particular standouts are Lizzy Caplan (Janis from Mean Girls) as the second-youngest sister, a party planner, and Laura Breckinridge as the youngest sister. Add to that a solid recurring cast--Tom Irwin as the girls' father and Christine Ebersole as the girls' prospective stepmother--and you have a charmer of a show. It's worth checking out.
HAD HE WRITTEN THE FLOOD V. KUHN OPINION, RICHIE ASHBURN WOULD HAVE REPLACED MOE BERG: Our friends at The Good Phight explain that the true disqualifying factor for nominee Sam Alito is the irrationality of his being a Phillies fan:
As a judge and Justice, Sam Alito must put personal emotion aside and weigh matters impassionately and neutrally. He must come to the bench without preconceived notions and let the facts of the individual case before him drive his decision.

Yet, how can someone who is a professed Phillies fan claim to have this capacity? No rational thinker should be a Phillies fan. There's just no argument one can make to support such an existence. Most losses in professional sports? Check. Heartbreaking, devastating, crushing exits from post-season races? Check. Management and ownership groups who rarely care one iota about winning? Check. Players who don't relate to the fanbase, openly criticizing it much of the time? Check.

Imagine the confirmation hearing quandry he'll be put in: "Judge Alito, can you please explain to this Committee and the American people your futile, irrational, downright absurd endeavor in committing yourself to the Phillies? How can we trust a Phillies fan to avoid making such irresponsible judgments in cases brought before the Supreme Court?" Simply, there's no answer to that question.

What we have in Phillies phans are people who are utterly disconnected from rational, unbiased thought and from reality itself. They are committed instead to emotion, personal whim, and perpetual fantasy. Sam Alito is a devotee to the Phillies and thus a devotee to these un-judgelike qualities. He is decidedly not Supreme Court Justice material, and we phans know it better than anyone else.

Up next: do Oakland A's or San Francisco Giants fans make better judges?
STILL, HER LIFE HAS NEITHER LOST ITS DIGNITY, ITS BEAUTY NOR ITS PASSION: Broadway fave (and Tony winner) Sutton Foster broke her arm rehearsing a song titled "I'm An Accident Waiting To Happen"..
SPACEMAN AFFIRMED: According to the Style Section of the New York Times, I am not supposed to enjoy America's Next Top Model because the girls are too old, too fat, and too American to become successful models. I'm cool with that. What, like the winner of Survivor is actually supposed to be the person who is best equipped to survive alone in the wilderness?

From what I can tell, the secret to becoming a bona fide supermodel these days is to be a 14 year old alien from the planet Waifling. I'm perfectly happy with my sweetly dysfunctional fat old American girls.
BUT WILL THERE BE REFERENCES TO "BUTTERSTICK"? The WB, apparently not content with pretty boys and pretty girls doing pretty things, have greenlit a DC-set pilot, which (Variety's words, not mine) "will take a 'Wonkette'-style look at young people working in the nation's capital." Next up will be Oddjack does Vegas, followed by Gawker does NYC.
ENTER SANDMAN: Looks like Kirsten Dunst was right. Sony has posted the first picture of Thomas Haden Church playing Spidey's next nemesis, the Sandman.

Thanks to Popwatch for the link.
IF THAT'S YOUR BASS PLAYER (SHE WAS LAST NIGHT): Forgive me if I'm slightly depressed that nine-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello is now just some backing player in Gwen Stefani's concert band.
TAX CUTS FOR AFRICA? I actually only flipped in and out of the live West Wing debate (between Treehouse of Horror XVI and the Eagles Game Of Horror which followed), so I figured y'all could tell me if I missed something good.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

TELL THE FOLKS AT HOME WHAT THEY'RE VIEWING, ROGER: For East Coast natives of a certain age -- i.e., most of the people who read this site -- anticipation for the film release of Rent is a given.

But for the rest of America, and especially the 12-25 year olds who drive the box office these days, I wonder what it's going to take to see a movie with no bankable stars and no songs they know. The marketing seems to be They're Young! They're In Love! They're In New York! And They're Singing!

Which is true, I guess, but only to a point. Because there's also the fact that they're all (romanticized) poor and some are living with HIV and AIDS. Or the compelling personal story of Rent creator Jonathan Larson, and how huge of a Broadway phenomenon it has been. Or the La Boheme angle.

I just wonder if they might have been better off going with a star-driven cast, with Justin Timberlake as Roger, magical elf Clay Aiken as Mark Cohen, and then you can sneak in Idina Menzel and Wilson Heredia from the original cast (and of course, keep Taye Diggs -- because he's Taye Diggs).

So, how do you get America to see a movie where they don't know any of the stars and don't already know the story? Am curious about your thoughts -- or am I sensing a problem you don't think exists?
WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I HAD A DREAM THAT WENT LIKE THIS: A WNBA star is gay? America yawns. Two NFL cheerleaders arrested while engaged in relations in a bar bathroom stall? This story may have, um, legs.
FERRIS AND THE VIN NUMBERS: Today's NYT article on The Producers and the non-"star"ness of Matthew Broderick and some of the gaps in his acting career got me to thinking about what roles Matthew Broderick could have (or should have) been up for in the intervening years that might've been perfect for him.

He's not a romantic lead; he's more of the Timid Everyman Who'd Like To Think He's Smart (which makes him perfect for Leo Bloom), and he plays Aggrieved By The World pretty well. Which got me to thinking: how good of a job would Broderick have done playing Jerry Lundegaard in Fargo? He might have even been better than William H. Macy, if that's possible.

Your thoughts on other Broderick Acting Triumphs in an alternative universe are welcome.