Saturday, January 28, 2006

MENUDEVO: It burns! It buuurrns! Turn it off. Take it off our stereo!! It freeeezes!! Nasty, nasty elveses recorded it!! Pleeeeaaasssse. It huurrts us!!

Hat tip: costik
MAMAS, DON'T LET YOUR BABIES GROW UP TO BE SPACEBALLS: It's hardly a scoop at this point, but ALOTT5MA would not be ALOTT5MA if somebody didn't pause to note that Rick Moranis' Country Album, The Agoraphobic Cowboy, has been nominated for a Grammy. Sadly the nom was in the "Best Comedy Album" category, not the "Best Country Album" category, or even the "Best Country-Influenced Canadian Former Comedy Actor Album" category. Seemed like a lock for that one.

Friday, January 27, 2006

OKAY, AT LEAST SHE HIT MOST OF HER TRIPLES: Michelle Kwan has been cleared to compete -- but, let's not kid ourselves, she's not winning gold -- in her third Olympics.
THAT THIS HASN'T BEEN A TASK ON THE AMAZING RACE YET, QUITE FRANKLY, STUNS ME: Because, really, who wouldn't want to Ski Dubai?

Your assignment over the weekend, should you choose to accept it, is to identify an attraction somewhere in the world that would make for a good Race task. Paired potential Detour tasks are welcome as well. Amuse us.
THREE GUYS WALK INTO A CLINIC. THEIR LEGS HURT. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THEM? As Matt pretty much predicted a few days ago, the good folks at The Futon Critic have named the House episode "Three Stories" as the finest episode of scripted television for 2005.

See the whole list, from #50 to #1, via this link. And then tell us what you think.
AIN'T NO STOPPING HIM NOW? I just heard on the radio that Gene McFadden, a key figure in the "sound of Philadelphia" passed away today. Best known for the song "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" as part of the duo McFadden and Whitehead, he was also a first rate songwriter (including "Back Stabbers" by the O'Jays, "Wake Up Everybody" by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and "Forget Me Nots" by Patrice Rushen) and producer (Freddy Jackson, Melba Moore, and Archie Bell and the Drells).

IF YOU WANT ME TO PLAY, I'LL BE AROUND TODAY: The Washington Post is reporting that reclusive soul star Sly Stone may perform at the Grammy Awards on February 8th. He has not performed publicly since 1987.

Stone is a major figure in the history of pop music. If you don't own it already, you should buy The Essential Sly & the Family Stone. As the WaPo article observes:

In its heyday, from roughly 1968 through 1971, Sly and the Family Stone created revolutionary music, an intoxicating mix of psychedelic pop, pulsating funk and social commentary. Among the first fully integrated groups on the American music scene, with blacks and whites and men and women together onstage, the seven-piece San Francisco band played the world's biggest venues while cranking out hit after cutting-edge hit.

Stone was an innovator whose work inspired Motown to find its social conscience, helped persuade Miles Davis to go electric, and ultimately laid out a blueprint for generations of black pop stars, from Prince and Michael Jackson to OutKast, D'Angelo and Lenny Kravitz.
COULD I BE ANY HAPPIER TO GIVE YOU THIS NEWS? The Hollywood Reporter gives us major casting news today on "Studio 7" (which it suggests may be undergoing a name change, possibly because of this):
  • Matthew Perry (after much vacillation) has signed to play the part of Matt Albie, which THR claims was written with Perry in mind. (Notably, this is not the "recovering drug addict" part, but the other one.) I think Perry will be great, though, interestingly, he doesn't appear until 30 pages into the script, which may throw some people for a loop.
  • Steven Weber, whose casting had been previously confirmed in a number of media, will play UBS head Jack Rudolph.
  • D.L. Hughley will play Simon Stiles, the first of the "show within a show" cast members to be cast, described in the script as "a good looking black man, and no occasional dosage of hip-hop attitude is gonna disguise the fact that he went to the Yale School of Drama."

TWOP is also atwitter with multi-sourced rumors that Timothy Busfield is prepared to sign on as Cal, the director of Studio 7. Several major regular roles have yet to be cast (Tom Jeter, Harriet Hayes, Jamie McDeere, and Danny Moore), plus a couple of major recurring roles. Further updates as events warrant.

MY BABY DON'T MESS AROUND: And neither should you--instead, you should view the newly released trailer for Idlewild (a/k/a "The OutKast Movie"), which looks like it could be something special, and which answers the "so that's what they've been up to!" question for Ben Vereen and Macy Gray, both of whom appear.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

SONGS FROM CADET KELLY TANKED: Unlike my sister, I am not a particularly big fan of Disney Channel original movies, so perhaps I'm missing something--but can someone, anyone, explain why 4 of iTunes' top 10 songs for today are from the soundtrack to Disney Channel original movie High School Musical, which is the #1 album as well? I listened to the 30-second clip of "Breaking Free," the #1 single on iTunes, and seriously, this is ahead of Unwritten and Dirty Little Secret in downloading (and has been consistently for much of the week)?
YOU GET TO BE LES MOONVES: Well, with the announcement of the CW, we're going to play a game around here that I'll call "You Be The Network Programmer." So, you're running the CW, and you have scheduling power. What do you do, not just from a "I want these shows on the air" standpoint, but from a "ratings up" standpoint? Here's my proposed schedule:

3-5 PM: WWE Sunday Afternoon Smackdown--Especially once football season is over, young men will be looking for something to watch.
7 PM: "Pepper Dennis"--This Rebecca Romijn comedy-drama is apparently a greenlight, and would seem to fit well here before people switch over to ABC.
8 PM: "Aquaman"--"Smallville" has done well in a similarly nasty slot. Let's give this a try.
9 PM: Open slot for development programming/repeats.

8 PM: "Everwood"--Replacing the improbably and inexplicably successful "7th Heaven" with another "family friendly" drama would seem to be the smart move, even if "Everwood" can get edgy. It might switch with the 9 PM show depending on content/plans.
9 PM: "Untitled Amy Sherman-Palladino Project"--This has been given an 8-episode order for the fall without script or casting, and this seems like as good a place to put it as any.

8 PM: "Gilmore Girls"
9 PM: "Veronica Mars"--Les Moonves basically said this would be the schedule during press calls. Makes sense to me.

8 PM: "CW Reality"--Alternating "cycles" of "Top Model" and "Beauty and The Geek." At least until "AI" premieres in the Spring, this is a reality-free zone, and would seem to work here
9 PM: "Everybody Hates Chris"
9:30 PM: "Girlfriends."--All other networks have heavy dramas this hour. Let's try for sitcoms.

8 PM: "Smallville"
9 PM: Open slot for developmental programming/sitcoms.

8 PM: "One Tree Hill"
9 PM: "Supernatural"--Let's try giving teenage girls a reason to stay in on Friday nights.

Your scheduling thoughts and proposals?
JIMMY CARTER, YOU'RE NO SIMON COWELL: Apparently life is imitating upcoming movie American Dreamz, in which POTUS Dennis Quaid agrees to judge an American Idol-esque reality show, at least in Canada. CTV will air The Next Great Prime Minister, in which 5 young contestants compete, before a judging panel of 4 prior Canadian Prime Ministers, for an internship in Canadian Public Policy. What's truly sad? I would so watch this.
THE PRESIDENT IS STILL ON: And not to say he isn't entertaining, but, if you, like me, are avoiding doing your real work, you might want to read this provocative opinion piece by Joel Stein (six words I couldn't of imagined writing ever).

Link via the spiffily redesigned Radosh.
OPRAH APOLOGIZES: Wow, she says she regrets making the phone call to James Frey on Larry King. An actual admission that she was wrong.

Now Frey is on, and man, is this some uncomfortable TV. He just admitted that Lily didn't commit suicide by hanging herself.

WHAT THE??? Our live broadcast of the show here in Chicago on ABC-7 was just interrupted by Bush's news conference! They better pre-empt the mf'n View and replay Oprah in here entirety. The delicate balance of power in the Middle East or a big, fat lying author? Have they no sense of priority?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

LOOKING FOR PICTURES OF NAKED MIDDLE-AGED JEWISH COMEDIANS IN ALOTT5MA WORLD: Visitor No. 450,424, we're so, sorry you couldn't find what you were searching for here.
STEP OUT OF THE METAPHORICAL BOX: There's a consistency to this season of Project Runway -- the designers are more interesting and fun to watch (Andrae's reactions, as Jen noted, are baiscally the second coming of Wickedly Perfect's Darlene), but the level of design created is less so. No one's bringing it every week the way that Austin and Jay and Kara seemed to last season, and thankfully Saint Tim Gunn tried to push everyone a bit harder this time.

Did it work? Well, this household would've kicked out the other of the final two this week, but hey, it was justified too. We were thrilled to see Jay again, and even more so to see repeated use of the Magical Runway Wayback Machine . Cool. Also, did Zulema use "shystie" as an adjective?

My tentative final three? Chloe, Daniel V, and Nick. You? (Time for me to listen to Tim's Take!)
ARE YOU HITTING THAT? Last week, I offered up some thoughts on the type of episode that JJ and the Island Band needed to write in order to keep things moving while not running out of things to say. Tonight's episode, "Fire + Water," was exactly what I hoped they'd come up with. Much as I dislike the Charlie character -- and I don't mean that I dislike Charlie as a person, I mean that I often wish his character weren't a part of the show -- I thought that this episode was a nice variety of interactions on the island (Libby/Hurley; Hurley/Sawyer; Sawyer/Kate; Kate/Charlie; Charlie/Locke; Locke/Claire; Claire/Eko; Eko/Charlie; Charlie/Jack; Jack/Ana Lucia . . .) mixed with useful flashback developments. And by useful I mean relevant. Do I care that Charlie once puked on a photocopy machine he was demonstrating? Not in the slightest. Do I care why Charlie feels a need to be a father figure to Aaron? Why yes, yes I do.

The key point here is that we saw both plot and character advancement without having to spill any of the island mythology beans. There's a limited number of beans out there, and they should be spilled with care, while keeping us interested in between each bean. Was this a brilliant episode? No, but it was an episode worthy of a show that will run for five seasons.

Plot rumination, as always, is saved for the comments.
I KNOW THAT THERE IS PAIN: Guess who's coming back to Oprah tomorrow?

And shouldn't we all have known something was up when he claimed to have rejected the 12 Steps of AA in favor of a personal philosophy that borrows a bit too much from Wilson Phillips?
MAVERICK, I WISH I COULD QUIT YOU! It was bound to happen.
BRINGING STRAIGHT MEN BACK TO BROADWAY: Apparently, Broadway diva and current West Wing co-star Kristin Chenoweth will appear in various states of dress and undress in the upcoming issue of FHM. Some pictures have already leaked.
SIMIAN SUPERLATIVES: Admittedly I'm a little bit behind the curve when it comes to the music the kids are listening to nowadays, so until this afternoon, I hadn't heard of the Arctic Monkeys, who, if you know anything, are the next big thing, duh. (You can watch a couple of the band's videos here and decide for yourself.)

Still, I'm not quite sure I am ready to pronounce their debut album, which is all of two-days-old, the 5th Greatest British Rock Album of All-Time, as NME did in its latest issue. The Monkey's Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not, finished ahead of such oft-lauded albums as London Calling (No. 8), Revolver (9), and The Bends (11). Placing above the Monkey's album were: The Stone Roses self-titled debut, The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, Oasis' Definitely Maybe, and The Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Buzzcocks.
"I HAVE THE IMMUNITY IDOL" IS NOT A DEFENSE: Survivor: Palau Tiga winner Richard Hatch was found guilty of tax evasion today, though the jury acquitted him on 7 fraud counts. Apparently, they didn't buy his argument that CBS secretly agreed to pay his taxes while he covered up other players' cheating.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

NICE GUY EDDIE: Actor Chris Penn, whose memorable supporting roles include the lovable rube in Footloose and a baby-faced criminal in Reservoir Dogs, sibling to actor Sean and singer Michael, has passed away at the age of 43.
ERNIE MCCRACKEN IS YOUR LOOGY: Among the things I don't have time in my life to do is construct a baseball lineup using only fictional characters played by Bill Murray, but I will, however, link to it.
HE'S THE WIZARD OF OOH'S AND AH'S AND FA LA LA'S: We've had documentaries about spelling bees, professional bowling, elementary school ballroom dancing, and penguins, so it's time for Wordplay, the documentary about crossword puzzles.
OVER UNDER ON "HOUSE: THREE STORIES" IS NO. 4: The Futon Critic is doing their annual "50 Best Episodes" list (won by "Lost: Walkabout" last year). Thus far, 50-41 and 40-31 are up, including episodes from Battlestar Galactica (the Season 1 finale), Boston Legal (what turned out to be the Season 1 finale, with the inmate in Texas), and Everwood's season finale. There are some oddballs--an episode of King of Queens? One of the early episodes of the rather messy second season of Desperate Housewives? The apparently nonsensical Nip/Tuck season finale? But there is much to discuss, and discuss we shall.
HEY LADIES: As ALOTT5MA's resident personal health correspondent, it falls to me to report to you that Danish science babe Dr. Myra Vanderhood has discovered a link between cell phone ring tones and insatiable sexual attraction that you can exploit at the low low price of whatever Pherotones* will eventually charge. Like Sex Panther, "60% of the time, it works every time."

*As advertised on Defamer. What is this really virally marketing?
BONO COULD FORGIVE SOME OF THOSE DEBTS ALL ON HIS OWN NOW: Time magazine's Man of the Year, along with his bandmates, earned $255,022,633.35 in 2005, according to Billboard's list of the top musical money-makers, a figure which exceeds the GDP of Tonga, Kiribati, Sao Tome and Principe, the Solomon Islands, Palau, and a few other countries.

At least U2 had to get off their butts to earn all that dough; Celine Dion made over $76 million without leaving Las Vegas.
BUT WILL MICHIGAN J. FROG BE INVOLVED? Apparently, next fall, we'll be down to 5 major networks, with UPN and the WB merging to form "CW." No formal announcements on scheduling or what's staying and what's going, though the article suggests that Smallville, Gilmore Girls, Beauty and the Geek, America's Next Top Model, Veronica Mars, and Everybody Hates Chris are all planned to return. My one expectation would be that the new network goes to seven nights, and some shows are likely to face the axe as a result of the merger.

More details in this press release, including that Smackdown "is expected to play a role" and that the CW will program weeknights from 8-10, Sundays from 7-10, Sundays from 5-7, Weekdays from 3-5 (currently "WB Daytime," occupied by ER and 8 Simple Rules repeats), and Kids!WB! will continue on Saturdays.
FRED, SHE'S GOTTEN HER BOOBIES: For those of you who thought that the luminous, elderly-but-not-old Sophie on Sunday night's Grey's Anatomy looked familiar, you may lay your weary heads to rest. Sophie was played by Carole Cook, who most notably (to our generation, anyway) played Molly Ringwald's Grandma Helen in 16 Candles. You know, the one who felt Samantha up.

Monday, January 23, 2006

MY GOD! THAT'S LITO SHEPPARD'S MUSIC! Maybe it's just me, but if I'm Momma McNabb, I'm ordering a hit on Jerome Bettis's mom before this goes too far.
OH THANK GOD: Enough with the Grey's Anatomy = NextGen Friends banter. How I Met Your Mother has still got it all over the doctors of Seattle Grace when it comes to being your Friends.
DENIED WITH PREJUDICE: Spacewoman and I are thoroughly confused by the Elfcentric campaign for Courting Alex. The 30-second spots, billboards, full-page Variety inserts, pop-unders, street-lamp banners, guerilla flash-mob placements, and nanoimplant subliminal messages all tell us that this is "a new Jennaration of comedy!" Really? Isn't it just a slightly older Jennaration than the one that had a bad show a few years back? And isn't the underlying assumption of the campaign -- that the American public has been clamoring for Jenna Elfman's return -- completely off-target? The whole campaign smacks of the kind of self-delusion that caused the third-cutest girl in your high school class to move to L.A. to become an actress, only to return seven weeks later with $6500 in credit card debt and a membership card in the grocer's union. In fact, it's the same strategy that has failed recently with Heather Graham, Rob Lowe, and 3/4 of the Seinfeld troupe.

To me, the only way a campaign like that works is if the subject is in an elite class of beloved personalities. Of unemployed (or soon-to-be unemployed) TV-associated actors, I can think of only four with the requisite good will to actually be the campaign: Aniston, Garner (maybe), Romano, and Seinfeld. Am I missing anybody?
ROCK AND ROLL AIN'T NO RIDDLE, MAN. TO ME IT MAKES SOME GOOD GOOD SENSE. GOOD SENSE NOW OH YEAH: Currently, there is no commercial that gets me as wound up as Nike's Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution (I wish I had a link, but I can't find one), the latest in several decades of brilliant Wieden-Kennedy work on the Nike account. They even included the Brian Johnson spoken-word nonsense quoted in the title to this post, a mantra for my friends and me in high school.

In the run-up to the figurative Super Bowl of television advertising, what gets your consumer juices flowing?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

THE LAW, POLITICS, THE SIXERS, GOOD FOOD AND . . . MAKE-YOUR-OWN-POTTERY? West Coast in full effect as my doppelgänger Mark Feuerstein (and friends) bring the California response to SNL's "Lazy Sunday" in "Lazy Monday", a/k/a "Color Me Mine". Watch it now.
WHAT'S NEXT? Adding to the list of shows revered (Alias), loathed (7th Heaven), and about which we have decidedly mixed feelings (Will & Grace) to which we will say goodbye after long runs this year, The West Wing will air a series finale on May 14. John Wells denies that Aaron Sorkin will be in any way involved. Speculation ahoy as to potential endings (a Charlie/Zoey wedding or proposal would seem inevitable) and as to what cast members will do next (including how quickly we see at least one officially signed for Studio 7).

In addition, NBC announced a bunch of post-Olympics schedule moves:
  • Deal or No Deal (as a weekly series) replacing Surface on Mondays at 8.
  • The Apprentice moves to Mondays at 9, with Las Vegas moving to Fridays at 9 (with the inevitable cancellation to follow).
  • Law and Order (original recipe) moves up an hour to Wednesdays at 9 (against Lost), with Heist, a new action/thriller/comedy from director Doug Liman starring Dougray Scott, Steve Harris, and Seymour Cassel as thieves planning a big score takes the 10 PM slot.
  • While The Office is getting 22 episodes next season, it had a short order this year, so its slot will be filled by Teachers, a new comedy about, well, teachers, starring Justin Bartha (the weird sidekick from National Treasure and title character in Gigli) and Sarah Alexander (Susan from BBC's Coupling).
  • Conviction (aka the L&O spinoff without L&O in the title) arrives on Friday nights.
LET MY PEOPLE GLOW: I remember when I was six, my Dad brought home a $4000 helium-neon laser from work and my brothers and I spent most of the night shooting it through clouds of baby powder and Comet. Now, of course they are as cheap as beer.

So cheap, of course, that they can be built into geeked out (and inexplicably Egyptian-themed) board games like Deflexion. The object being to move and rotate your mirroed pieces around the board so you can bank your (fixed) laser into your opponent's Pharoh. In 1982 or so, I would have wanted this game more than life itself. But now that I'm a fancy-pants lawyer, I think I'll just go buy it.