Saturday, April 15, 2006

SO, I GOTTA ASK YOU, NEIL, DID YOU EVER GET IT ON WITH WANDA OFF THE SET? If I hadn't read this weekend's NYT Arts section and its profile of the man who portrays Barney Stinson, I'd have no way of knowing that if Neil Patrick Harris had turned down the 'Harold and Kumar' role, Ralph Macchio was their second choice.
BARTON FINK! BARTON FINK! Please help Matt Zoller Seitz compile a list of the best parting shots in film history.
YOU, WITH THE SAD EYES. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED: So, I had been planning this as a weekend question for a while, but now I've lost my own answer.

Here's the scenario: it's winter of 2001-02, and you're an executive with Fox Television. Your network has just picked up this hit UK talent show called "Pop Idol" that will run in the States during the summer of 2002, and you need three judges. One of the slots will be filled by this Simon Cowell character from the UK show, and he's going to be The Judge America Loves To Hate.

But you need to find two more judges -- probably one male and one female, and each of them has to have credibility in the music business, be likeable, and generally supportive of the performers but honest when it's needed. And they have to be available -- it can't be people who are peaking right now, but more on the down-slope of his or her career.

Now, up until this morning, I was sure about one of the answers, but Cyndi Lauper (who'd be perfect! perfect!) has taken herself out of the running with this NYT interview:
What do you think of "American Idol"?

I think that's garbage. I think there are no shortcuts to get to where you are going.

Okay, so it's not going to be Cyndi. Who would you have put in Paula and Randy's chairs?

Friday, April 14, 2006

HIT IT, MR. SEGUE MAN: While it was never a source of quality blind items or juicy "gossip," I'm sad to see the New York Times' quasi-gossip column, "Boldface," end its run today. Sure, unlike Page Six, it didn't contain the latest details of who Paris Hilton and/or Lindsay Lohan might be "canoodling" with and where, but Boldface frequently managed to effectively send up celebrities, our obssesion with them, and featured some of the funniest writing in the Times. It'll be missed.
I'M WILLING TO BET THAT SOMEBODY WILL PUT BABY IN A CORNER: I suppose this news means that we can look forward to Dirty Dancing on Broadway next season. Pardon me while I go vomit. More shockingly, the early word I'm seeing is that The Wedding Singer: The Musical! may wind up being a gigantic hit, while Hot Feet somehow manages to take the great music of Earth, Wind, and Fire and turn it into a three hour clunker variation on the The Red Shoes.
ALL I'D HAVE CHANGED IS THAT I'VE BEEN CALLING HIM CAPTAIN HERO: Because Alan Sepinwall already said most of what I wanted to, anyone interested in Survivor talk should follow me there instead.
THIS ONE, HOWEVER, DID NOT GROW UP TO BECOME A HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR: Scott (formerly of L-Cubed) reminds me that we ought to have a thread about the shocking -- yes, shocking news that in real life, Aaron Sorkin had a long-term relationship with a high-priced call girl.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

JUSTICE MIX-A-LOT, CONCURRING: Much like Justice Potter Stewart, Sir Mix-A-Lot knows "the most desirable derriere" when he sees it.
HEY, MY NAME IS KIM COSMOPOLITAN, BUT MY FRIENDS CALL ME KCOSMO: Here's a piece on email's role in the growth of self-nicknaming. I have to confess that this is a phenomenon about which I have heard absolutely nothing, leading me to believe that this is just another example of the New York Times' efforts to become painfully hip via the Thursday Styles section.
YOU COWARDLY BASTARD: The San Francisco Chronicle's TV Critic Tim Goodman has finally broken down and fired up a blog, the Bastard Machine.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

YOU KNOW IT WON'T TAKE THAT LONG: That was a nice, quiet, fulfilling episode of Lost. We here in the Cosmopolitan household were prepared to be annoyed at the writers for writing Rose out of character, but they worked it out, yo. The flashback was well blended with events on the island, and I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Rose and that other character with whom she has something in common. Anything else must await the comments.
DON'T LET THEM PUT YOU DOWN, DON'T LET 'EM PUSH YOU 'ROUND, DON'T EVER LET 'EM CHANGE YOUR POINT OF VIEW: Man, those one-hour results shows are bloated. Not much of interest to discuss, except that the group sing revealed the inalienable truth that Daughtry should have sung something -- anything -- other than what he actually chose. And I've figured out what annoys me the most about Kellie: she is functionally incapable of keeping her mouth shut. E.g., "Albemarle" and "You can have this back, I don't need it anymore." Just shut up already and leave a tender moment alone. Just don't pick that song during Billy Joel week, okay? (Although Ryan Seacrest's ad libbing skills continue to improve, as evidenced by the "America, we have a problem" bit.)

As for next week: who sings Young Turks? How about Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? Maggie May? Um, why can't I think of any other Rod Stewart songs?

(Edited to add: According to Ann Althouse, who perhaps does not watch results shows in heavy DVR fast-forward mode, next week is an "old standards" week as coached by Rod Stewart rather than a "songs of Rod Stewart" week. Can someone confirm?)
THAT'S WHAT TV IS FOR, RIGHT? TO EDUCATE, ENTERTAIN, AND MAKE YOU CRINGE: The A.V. Club gang reviews all the midseason tv shows, and are quite fond of Top Chef and American Inventor.
BE THANKFUL THERE WAS NO "GRAB THE CLUE AT THE MONA LISA" STOP: It's a shame that tonight's TAR will likely be the last I watch this season (Alias returns to that timeslot next week!), because tonight's episode was (IMHO) the best in a long time, with actual brain challenges, navigation issues, team reshuffling, an actual RACE for a FastForward, penalties, a down-to-the-wire finish where it looked like a contender team could be at the end of their rope, and a solid Detour pairing. The only downside? Overly blatant product placement. Discuss.
BECAUSE EVERY NIGHT CAN'T BE CELEBRITY ______ SHOWDOWN: The Hollywood Reporter has the complete list of all the pilots that networks are looking at for next season. Ones we've heard of are there (Studio 60 (with picture!), Untitled Aquaman, In the Shadow of the Law), but what's more interesting are the new ones, despite the bizarre apparent inclination for "mismatched family members are forced to work together" sitcom premises and some unwieldy titles (The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend?). My picks?
  • Day Break (ABC)--Prison Break X The Fugitive + Taye Diggs.
  • Girls On The Bus (ABC)--Comedy about political correspondents on the campaign trail.
  • Untitled Peter Ocko (CBS)--Stanley Tucci does House, with Mark Feuerstein as his minion.
  • Ultra (CBS)--Joan of Arcadia creator Barbara Hall does superheroes, with Lena Headey.
  • Drive (FOX)--Tim Minear (Firefly, Buffy, Wonderfalls) does to TAR what Lost did to Survivor.

So, anything really catch your attention on the list?

WHEN I MAKE JOKES, THEY ARE INHERENT TO A STORY! Leaving aside the political and meta-interpretations available in last week's episode of South Park, doesn't Eric Cartman (for perhaps the first and last time in his life) have a completely valid point about the problems and weaknesses of Family Guy?
MY FAVORITE PREDICTION SO FAR IS THAT ROSE HAD NEITHER ARMS NOR LEGS BEFORE THE CRASH AND MYSTERIOUSLY SPROUTED THEM ON THE ISLAND: Tonight's Lost brings us something new -- our first-ever Bernard and Rose flashback. For the curious or otherwise self-restraint-challenged (hi), there are plenty of teasers all over the place offering up hints as to what may be coming. (I won't even link to them so as not to be a spoiler-enabler.) For anyone who wants to offer a guess on their prior existences, feel free to do so in the comments.
OH BOY, MORE JULIE CHEN: Seriously, does anyone actually care, much less get excited about, the concept of Big Brother All-Stars? Of course, bringing former competitors back can yield dividends (Survivor: All-Stars, Romber on TAR), but it can backfire, too (anyone remember the ill-fated Allison/Donny team from TAR6? Didn't think so.).
JOEY, DO YOU LIKE MOVIES ABOUT GLADIATORS? A WaPo profile today on David Zucker and the rest of the gang behind the Airplane!-Naked Gun-Hot Shots-Scary Movie films. Their secret? Don't cast comedians; cast actors who'll play the lines straight.

If you've never seen Kentucky Fried Movie, where it all began for them, you're missing out. Consider this an open thread for random references to lines and scenes in all their films, such as the brilliant reversed "Swedish" scene in Val Kilmer's screen debut, Top Secret!.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

EXILE ISLAND: Richard Hatch has asked to be placed in protective custody during his prison stay on tax evasion charges, which makes sense. Since he couldn't avoid inappropriate touching of TruckerSue, he's better off isolating himself in a place where picking the right alliance is everything, and the consequences of unwanted groping are a bit more severe.
I FOUND IT ALL A LITTLE WEIRD: An interesting night on AI. I ended up enjoying it more than I was expecting to. For the most part, the contestants performed up to their ability level, which was a refreshing change. Nobody, in my view, truly sucked. I didn't particularly care for Paris: Queen of the Night, and I really didn't enjoy the song that Daughtry sang, although he did a perfectly serviceable job with it. I think I've resolved what prevents me from liking Elliott, incidentally: too much vibrato and too many runs all over the place, and not enough singing a pure note and letting the note speak for itself. But Kellie wasn't nearly the train wreck that I'd been anticipating, Bucky's enunciation was oddly comprehensible, Taylor's Crazy Little Thing Called Love was much more interesting than I would have expected, I liked Ace more than the judges did, and I just love Katharine.

I'm assuming that Ace goes home because, well, it's his time, but I don't feel strongly about it.
BUT WILL THEY DO THE FANDANGO? I'm fairly confident some (though not I) will care to know which of the works of Queen the AI contenders will be singing tonight. The big surprise? "I Want To Break Free" does not make an appearance, nor do "We Are The Champions" or "Under Pressure." And based on my limited knowledge, Pickler's song choice could get her into trouble.
HE'S GOING DOWN IN A BLAZE OF GLORY: McSweeney's would like you to know that an APB has been issued for Mr. Jon Bon Jovi who is, of course, wanted, dead or alive. Similarly, "The Power" has a few choice words for Messrs. D and Flav, and the booking agent for the Sultans of Swing has some concerns.
REST ASSURED THAT "WE WANT PRENUP" WILL BE HOLLA'D: Following in the illustrious footsteps of, eHarmony, and JDate, there's apparently Lawyers in Love, the dating service devoted to helping legal professionals find love with other legal professionals.
EAT THEM! EAT THEM! THEY FLUORESCE!: I can die happy now, and fulfilled, because I ripped off an obvious green eggs and ham joke from the BBC three months before The Daily Show. Take me now Lord! Take me now!
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY: From Tuesday's New York Times story on former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling's performance on the witness stand Monday:
"Standing like a weatherman next to charts and graphs showing Enron's explosive growth in the energy markets, he was trying to persuade the jury that pursuing a conspiracy to falsify Enron's financial performance would be nonsensical."
Maybe Jeffrey got a little pre-stand coaching from his younger brother Tom.

Monday, April 10, 2006

AND YES, I'M TAKING INTO ACCOUNT BOTH 'PATCH ADAMS' AND 'JAKOB THE LIAR': I know what you're thinking -- there's no way Robin Williams' career could sink any lower. Well, go ahead and watch the trailer for his new family film, "RV", and get back to us.

We're now at almost a decade since Williams' last memorable work -- "Good Will Hunting" and "The Birdcage". So I have to ask -- can this career be saved? If so, how? And what went wrong, anyway? (Note: you automatically receive partial credit for "he stopped doing drugs", but I'm going to ask you to go beyond that.)
BIGGEST PROBLEM? NO WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS ON THURSDAYS: In case Gawker's regular bitchy takedowns of her aren't enough for you, The New Republic has declared war on NYT "Critical Shopper" Alex Kuczynski and the concept of "Thursday Styles" in general. Sunday Styles is among the first things I read in the Sunday Times, but generally, I can take or leave Thursday's section, but I don't believe it's the death of journalism.
PERHAPS THE ONLY AWARDS SHOW AT WHICH BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN WILL NOT BE A NOMINEE: Sure, this time of year is a slow time for awards show junkies--sure, we had the Peabodys last week (yay! South Park!)--but we're still several months from the Tonys, the MTV Movie Awards, and the train wreck that will be the MTV Video Music Awards. But next Monday, the Pulitzer Prizes will be announced. I fully expect the reporting categories to be dominated by Katrina coverage (if the efforts of the Times-Picayune aren't worthy of special attention, I'll eat my hat). But there's also the literary categories. Of course, one of the most interesting this year is the drama category, with only one "new American play" having made a splash on Broadway this year (David Lindsay-Abaire's excellent Rabbit Hole). I'm going to offer a left-field suggestion--no screenplay has ever before won, but what about giving the Pulitzer to the writers of Crash, which is unquestionably the original dramatic work that had the most to say about American life in the last year? So, who ya got?
206 VISIBLE BONES IN THE HUMAN BODY NEVER LIE: The legendary I-have-a-fast-metabolism-seriously-guys-I-eat-like-a-horse actress herself, Calista Flockhart, has finally admitted that she wasn't exactly the picture of psychogastrointestinal health during her Ally McBeal days. Well, sorta. What she actually said that she was "under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system. I guess I just didn't find the time to eat." As though it takes anywhere near as long to munch a hamburger as it does to spend two hours on the treadmill. Seriously.

Many thanks to TVTattle for all sorts of good fodder today.
WHAT IS MY MOTIVATION? As I suspected somewhere in the comments last week, the characters on 24 are often kept as much in the dark as we the viewers are. So all the praise for a certain actor at the center of a certain recent plot twist is a bit, shall we say, overstated.

Oh, and Jack Bauer himself seems to be a bit schizophrenic -- or maybe it's just very consistent -- on the topic of alcohol consumption. Damn it!

Edited on 4/11 to add: Having taken a break from TV viewing last night, anyone feeling a need to discuss either Prison Break or 24 should feel free to use this post for that purpose.
REALLY, WHO KNEW THAT APPLE WAS THE BEGINNING OF A BIBLICAL THEME? After a mercifully underpublicized pregnancy, Moses Martin was born over the weekend to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. Initial reports indicated that the baby boy was to be named Mortimer (in honor of Gwyneth's godfather, Mortimer Steven Spielberg) so I suppose this is an improvement of sorts.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

THEY ONLY SEE WHAT YOU LET THEM SEE: Wow. A Sopranos episode that spends most of its time on the joys and obligation of family ends with the sadness of when those obligations run into other concerns. (Vague enough for those who haven't seen it yet?)

One of the things which the show does which always trips up the moral compass has always been how much these bad, bad men value their families. As in "One", as it was referred to tonight, there's something awfully seductive about the level of loyalty that members of The Family show to their flesh and blood. It's in the later films that we see the awful price both they and their families can end up paying.

One last question, then it's to the Comments: even if you're using Leonard's La Dolce Vita in Great Neck, can you still really spend $425,000 on a 400-person wedding?

edited to add: Sepinwall's take. I do agree with this: "The leather bar scene was a little cheap and over-the-top, even for a show that once had a character die on the toilet. This season's first four hours had done an impressive job of turning Vito into a creepy, unique character, but once the writers put him in that outfit, they turned him into a joke again."
HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Drudge has an interesting spoiler as to not only who wins tonight's presidential election on West Wing, but why the writers made the decision. (Show's started on the East Coast, but I'll be watching on TiVo delay.) Discuss the ridiculousness of the electoral politics (e.g., Santos winning South Carolina?), the acting, and the writing here.

edited by Adam to add: That NYT article is now online, and it confirms the Drudge reporting. Interesting trivia note in there for Sherrod Brown.