Saturday, March 14, 2009


TYRA FAIL! Today's NYC auditions for ANTM Cycle 13 did not quite go as planned, as an unruly crowd of thousands of shorties in the street waiting outside a Midtown hotel led to chaos, arrests, bomb threats, hospitalizations, fainting in the streets and some pretty scary video.

While we're on the topic, any thoughts on the current season? Will it be the one with the crazy eyes? The one with the Paula Poundstone vibe? The one who doesn't believe enough in her own beauty until Tyra breaks her down and makes her realize her inner ferocity?
"I'M ACTUALLY WONDERING WHO'S NEXT? WHO'S NEXT TO DIE?" So asked wrestler Andrew "Test" Martin in 2005 after learning of the death of Eddie Guerrero, and today, the ring bell tolls ten times for Martin, found dead in his Tampa apartment at the age of 33. Martin had been fired from both the WWE and TNA wrestling organizations in recent years for violations of their "Wellness" policies and concerns over his health and his ability to pass a drug test. I suppose today's sad passing means that the concerns were well-founded, and that the policies protected the organizations but did not convince Martin to protect himself.

In related news -- though this is normally Alex's turf -- the 2009 inductee class for the WWE Hall of Fame has been announced, headlined by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and also including Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Terry and Dory Funk Jr., promoter Bill Watts and ... no, this can't be right, jobber-to-the-stars Koko B. Ware? Was it just for his recording of the song "Piledriver"? Fashion-wise, it must be noted, the early 1990s were not kind to him.
SPRING IS IN THE AIR: Spring training, the opening of the summer blockbuster season, and somewhere in between there is just enough room for Frank Miller's Charlie Brown.

(Via Andrew T on Facebook)
I THINK SOMEONE WANTS A REUNION TOUR: For some reason, it seems like at least once a week, one of the "Hot AC" radio stations in NYC plays one-hit wonder The Heights' "How Do You Talk To An Angel?" Today, it was sandwiched between "Disturbia" and "No Such Thing." I wonder who's the fan there?

Friday, March 13, 2009

THAT STUPID ENGLISH VOICE -- WAS THAT ... ME? Occasioned by the nonstop repetition of Forgetting Sarah Marshall on cable this week, EW's A-minus review of his memoir and recent news that he's set to star in a remake of Arthur (the Dudley Moore vehicle, not the cartoon about the an eight-year-old aardvark), I ask the ALOTT5MAverse: Russell Brand -- amused, intrigued, apathetic, ignorant or opposed?
IT'S NOT THE FAKE NEWS IF YOU'RE TRYING TO MAKE YOURSELF THE REAL NEWS: I was a little puzzled by the headlines on the Interwebs this morning about how Jon Stewart's interview with Jim Cramer was THE SMACKDOWN OF THE CENTURY!!!!!!, so I was happy to see Fienberg's nice piece sensibly pointing out that it was neither a fair nor a particularly useful fight.

I like Stewart a lot, but I'm not a fan of the Jon Stewart who decides that the best way to get his point across is to conduct these smug interviews where the question, and not the answer, is the important part, and where he plays his "you're-serious-I'm-just-a-comedian" card. The clip segments this week leading up to the interview (at least the ones I saw) were good examples of how Stewart can both make his point and make his point entertaining. When he resorts to his interview/debates, though, he tends to stop trying to be funny, which unsurprisingly renders him not funny. At that point, the show starts to recall those Jay Leno monologues where the goal is applause, not laughter, and one good rule of comedy is that if Jay Leno does it, you should try something else.
YOUR PEERS AT WORK: How stupid do you have to be to tweet your jury deliberations? Too stupid to be on a jury, or just stupid enough?

And by the way, an interesting question in the abstract (though not one presented in this instance, I think) is whether the recipient of an unrestricted tweet containing material information can be subject to tippee liability under the securities laws. Is a tweet "nonpublic"?
A FREE-FLOWING CONVERSATION THAT OCCASIONALLY TOUCHES ON MATURE SUBJECTS: For those who have any idea what I'm talking about with this listing, let me know if I've got the order more-or-less correct: Klosterman > Meyers > Connelly > O'Connell > Lombardi > Schatz > House > Bucher/Stein > Berry > Iacono > Carolla > Dameshek.
CREATED BY WARREN ROBINETT: Slate remembers how the Atari 2600 changed the world. Kaboom!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

DEARLY BELOVED, WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY TO GET THROUGH THIS THING CALLED ... MY TALK SHOW: My long-held theory that "any event can be improved upon by the addition of Prince" will surely be tested when suck and anti-suck collide on March 25, 26 and 27 in Burbank, California, as TAFKA TAFKA Prince does a three-night gig on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He'll also appear on Leno's next-to-last Tonight night, May 28.

Alternate titles for this post suggested by the ALOTT5MA Staff include:
I'M WAITING FOR THE SOARING "I LOVE MY DEAD GAY SON" NUMBER: Is Broadway ready for Heathers: The Musical? Early readings have featured Kristen Bell in the Winona Ryder role.
IN A BROWN SLURRY:The NYT began "a series of articles exploring American cuisine and its ongoing evolution" yesterday with a discussion of how Cashew Chicken was created in Springfield MO.

Sears Tower: Sears Tower to become Willis Tower --

WATCHA TALKLIN' BOUT? The Sears Tower will now be known as the Willis Tower.
DANIEL OKRENT, WE THANK YOU: Despite Our Friend Daniel Fienberg's having run away with the fantasy crown in the 2008 iteration of A League With Thrown Baseballs, we've decided to do it again. Given the return of 10/12 of the league's members, there are at present only two slots remaining for you to compete with many of this blog's regulars. [If there's interest in setting up a second league, go ahead.]

We've agreed on a live draft for Monday, March 30 at 9pm EDT; league format will be weekly head-to-head 4x4, with OBP tentatively replacing BA among the categories on offense. If you're interested, shoot me an email (either at the blog's address, or on Facebook).

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

NO MORE GUATEMALAN PEASANT SOUP? I won't discuss the results in the body of the post, but we can discuss the new rule, and it is, indeed, what they experimented with during France's Nouvelle Star 6 -- once this season, prior to the final five, the judges can unanimously vote to save an otherwise-ousted competitor for an additional week, forcing a double-elimination the following week. Compared to what could have been, I can live with this immunity idol Idol Immunity.

What's interesting is how rarely this actually would have been employed in the past -- for Johns or Smithson last year, for Constantine perhaps in season 4, J-Hud we'd hope and maybe Christina Christian, but contrary to what Seacrest suggested it could not have saved Daughtry or Doolittle from premature ouster given the "before final five" limitation. Indeed, it's hard finding folks in most seasons who were so clearly prematurely gone to merit this remedy. So, maybe, they don't use the Idol Immunity at all, and that's fine too. Should it have been used tonight?
[OTHER SUGGESTIONS] ARE ONLY FOR NOW: So the Avenue Q producers tried and tried, but they just couldn't get rid of George Bush. (Except in California, where the line will be "Prop 8 is only for now".)
I HAVEN'T SEEN THIS MANY PEOPLE IMPRESSED SINCE THE RUN-UP TO THE WAR OF 1812: Via ATL, a truly impressive law firm cover letter.
BIZARRO BAILOUT: Jon Hamm (as Lex Luthor) has a request for the President.
SERIOUSLY, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CLASS? As part of its ongoing efforts to do short-run stunt casting, Broadway's Chicago will welcome Dr. Miranda Bailey herself to the company to play Matron Mama Morton for 4 weeks in June and July. As a challenge--suggest other long-running shows that TV folks could join during their summer break. (There are a lot of interesting Billy Flynn options I can think of in particular--NPH, Nathan Fillion, Hugh Laurie.)
MARBURY V. MADISON V. COWELL: A quick thought, as I want to segment out the "what's the twist?" discussion here from the review of last night's performances: As ghastly as we all seem to agree some form of judge's veto would be, would you be willing to live with it if it meant eliminating Scott Macintyre sooner and preserving Allison Iraheta for a while -- i.e., "the only woman in the finals who didn't get a lengthy promo during the auditions"? Because if you look at the DialIdol numbers, she's in real trouble tonight, and that should not be.

I'm trying to think of a twist giving judges more power that I'd be happy with -- some form of individual immunity handed out before the vote results are known to the judges? a "sing for your life" finals-night battle between the bottom 2-3 every week on which the judges then votes?

Democracy may be messy, and it may lead to unjust results on this show (no, Richard Rushfield, not that one -- this one and this one), but as far as this show is concerned, it's the best option out there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

IT'S FINE BEING ARTISTIC. JUST NOT ON THIS SHOW: Paula, is mindboggled a word? And did Simon basically imply at the end that the judges would have some say on eliminations? Oh, let's just go top to bottom, in groups:
Danny Gokey, a/k/a RDJJ, a/k/a DWG: Wow. I didn't know he was planning to cut into Anoop's market share this early. Entertaining as all heck, and just needs to keep the dancing appropriately dorky. It's Taylor Hicks, without all the sucking we had come to expect.
Adam Lambert, Who Happens To Be "Theatrical": Okay, so he has this gift in that upper register. No question. But we don't hand out gifts every day; we know when to hand them out. A bit indulgent, but I want to see more. Totally at ease on that stage.

Alexis Grace: Great song choice. Solid job.
Megan Joy: One of many pleasant, safe, competent performances tonight. "Rockin' Robin," really?
Matt Giraud: Just a lovely take on "Human Nature". Nice falsetto. Looks a lot like Timberlake + 30 pounds or so.
Rigger: Solid vocals on a song, "You Are Not Alone," that I despise.
Allison Iraheta: Being Li'l Gina Glocksen is not going to win this competition, but that's still a hell of a voice for a 16 year old. We're not grading on a curve, however. [Was she bleeped, or did our TiVo spazz out for a second?]

They Don't Care About Us
Lil Rounds: Lil Unmemorable, but nothing wrong with it.
Kris Allen: I have no idea what the purpose of his guitar was. But perfectly pleasant.

Jasmine Murray: You can't scale Mt. Mariah with insufficient gear
Scott Macintyre, a/k/a Fedorov 2.0:
Anooooooop: Sigh. All I kept hearing was the gap between his version and the original. If you can't dance like Michael Jackson, if you can't do all the vocal ruffles and flourishes, what's the point? At some point, we have to stop giving bonus points just because it's someone named "Anoop" who's drawn towards new jack swing, and evaluate it on its own merits. I'd like to see him with another chance, but out of three songs so far, he's made two bad choices.

Jorge Nuñez, a/k/a Agador Spartacus: Oh, there were some bad notes in there. "Never" can say goodbye? Try tomorrow.
If it ends up being Adam v. Danny as the dominant narrative, that could get interesting -- humble and aw-shucksy v. theatrical and occasionally show-offy; "I can't dance" v "I own the stage." One week at a time; there's some chaff to remove first.

D-Fi: "Is anybody else ready for Adam's take on Guns 'n' Roses night? I am? I'll bet he does a spectacular Axl Rose. Is Adam theatrical? Yes. Is he frantic? Yes. Is his showmanship off the charts? Yes. His phrasing is better than anything we've seen on 'Idol' since Melinda Doolittle. He plays ever word."

Sepinwall: "Dammit. I like Anoop so much, and want to see him stick around because I think he adds an element of fun to the show that few of the other finalists are capable of bringing. But if I'm not grading him on a curve (and I really can't after what I wrote about Scott), then that was every bit the karaoke bar take on Michael the judges said it was. No edge, not challenging himself vocally, and if he wasn't so comfortable working the audience, it would have been a complete disaster."

Rushfield: "Looking up at the stage, it is impossible not to look backward, to dwell on thoughts of the titans whose careers began under these lights –- Clarkson, Aiken, Hudson, Underwood, Daughtry, Sparks, Cook and Smithson."

Powers: "Desai is a strong but basically tactless singer, the kind who could benefit from the trial and error of a few weeks on the show. But he may not survive this overstep.... [His and Jorge's] harried turns revealed the trickiness of Jackson’s repertoire. His hits are so familiar that we forget how intricate they can be. In some, a singer must be able to go from feather-light melodicism to heavy aggression in the span of a single breath; in others, the build is everything, and so easily overdone."

Weiss, who's doing a weekly 10am postgame chat: "I'm a little confused about Alexis. She's got a great, strong voice, I like her bluesiness, but her kewpie-doll looks don't match the hard edge she was trying to project, and I wonder how many voters will have liked that song."
JEWELER POSTHUMOUSLY INDICTED FOR DEFACING VALUABLE PROPERTY: Here's a nice story about a generations-old rumor that doesn't end with Geraldo Rivera standing in a dusty basement full of empty gin bottles. Apparently Abe Lincoln found the time to take his everyday pocketwatch to a Pennsylvania Avenue jeweler for repairs in April 1861 (cue ominous music). Legend in the family of the jeweler, Jonathan Dillon -- the only pro-Union employee in a Confederate-leaning atelier -- was that when he heard about the April 12 Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, he inscribed a message inside the watch. The Smithsonian didn't hear the rumor until recently. So, today, with great fanfare and a heavy mallet, the Smithsonian cracked open Lincoln's watch and found the following etched inside:
Jonathan Dillon April 13, 1861. Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. Thank God we have a government.
Verdict: Crazy great-great-grandpa was neither a liar nor a great speller.
GIVING NEW MEANING TO THE TERM 'PIMP SLOT': The law of unintended consequences has reared its ugly head on the American Idol stage. The unprecedented 13th finalist has created a need for an unprecedented 13th phone number. But some enterprising soul has already laid claim to the logical candidate -- while I wouldn't recommend dialing in from work, trust me when I tell you that 1-866-IDOLS-13 is not going to be the number to dial when you're voting for Danny Gokey or whoever else might have the anchor leg tonight. (1-866-IDOLS-00 is also taken.)
DEE SNIDER'S PLEA THAT HE WANTED TO ROCK WAS IGNORED: 92.3 K-ROCK, best known for its years as the New York flagship for Howard Stern, and current home to Opie and Anthony, will drop both Opie and Anthony and its rock format at 5 PM tomorrow, and become a straight Top 40 station. This is likely to be almost as controversial as long-time oldies station WCBS's short-lived switch to the JACK-FM format.
FUNNY, HE'S NOT THE FIRST ILLINOIS POLITICIAN I EXPECTED TO SEE IN A MOVIE CALLED THE FUGITIVE: I had a HITG moment while watching The Fugitive this weekend for the umpteenth time. Look who's marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade:

Yep, that's then-Illinois Attorney General and embattled junior senator from the Land of Lincoln, Roland Burris, providing cover for Dr. Richard Kimble.
CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS, DORKY GLASSES: Two tidbits from TV Tattle that will make readers squeal with joy:
NEXT UP, DAVID ARCHULETA'S RENDITION OF "TALK DIRTY TO ME," PROVIDING DENTAL CARE TO FAMILIES AFFLICTED WITH LEPROSY*: This season, departing AI finalists will receive their fond adieu from American Idol's own Carrie Underwood. She will be singing out the oustees with a new version of that renowned animal rescue anthem, Mötley Crüe’s "Home Sweet Home," with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the Humane Society of the United States. From Underwood's press release:

I’ve always loved this song, and besides being very fitting for Idol, to me, the title is also very fitting with animal rescue and finding animals their own homes. So we felt it was important to tie the release into an amazing animal charity like the HSUS.

SHARK SANDWICH: Now that Kate Winslet has been suitably (if belatedly and slightly wrongly) honored with an Academy Award, the Gold Derby asks which actor is now most overdue for recognition. While it may well be that the thrice-nominated (and for the wrong films, perhaps) Johnny Depp and twice-nominated Ralph Fiennes certainly have their charms and their close calls, there's no one for whom I'd be rooting harder, based on his body of work and general likeability, than Jeff Bridges, he of four nominations (only one since Starman?) and no wins. I do not abide this delay.
"WHILE THEY ARE WIDELY KNOWN AND ADMIRED, THEY ARE NOT, STRICTLY SPEAKING, POPULAR": The NYT, on how "it's wholly plausible that the Roots are funnier than their host."

Monday, March 9, 2009

SHOWIN' HOW FUNKY STRONG IS YOUR FIGHT; IT DOESN'T MATTER WHO'S WRONG OR RIGHT: We're live at 9pm EDT as we start the countdown from thirteen to one. For the first stretch, as we're running through the field, we're only going to post a handful of comments; afterwards, it'll be more open season with me, Kim, Isaac and Our Special Guests. Click on in:

e.t.a. 11pm: Thanks for everyone who participated; if you couldn't make it, it's there for your reading pleasure. Dan Fienberg's season preview is here, and Alan Sepinwall has one too, both of whom think I'm daft in having such high expectations for Allison Iraheta. Your predictions, comments and musings remain welcome.

See, related, Ann Powers, "American Idol Needs To Open The Closet Door", noting that Michael Jackson is "the ideal subject for what's turning out to be a rather strange season. At the heart of his troubled legacy are the anxieties 'Idol' also confronts, however mildly -- America's troubling history of racial divides and assimilation, and the sexual repression and need for release that is a basic subject of pop music itself."
IT'S STILL BETTER THAN CSI: MIAMI: Both Dan Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall agree that your enjoyment of ABC's much-hyped Castle depends pretty much entirely on how charming you find Nathan Fillion. Given that we tend to find Cap'n Tightpants/Hammer pretty charming around here, I'm guessing there'll be more than a few viewers in these parts. (More bizarrely--judging from a promo airing during last night's TAR, Aimee Teegarden will take on the Sunglasses of Justice on this week's CSI: Miami.)
MAMA SE, MAMA SA, MAMACU SA: Your American Idol theme for week one? The songs of Michael Jackson. For our suggestions for the performers and predictions for the weeks to come, do join us tonight at 9pm EDT for our official Idol Finals Pregame Show, powered by CoverItLive. See you then.
ERR ... BETTER NOT TELL DENNIS DUFFY: Via Jon Henke, twelve ads for "dead" technologies. Number 13, of course, is William Shatner: Commodore VIC-20 Salesman.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

WHAT WOULD SCOTT HAMILTON DO? JUST DOESN'T HAVE THE SAME RING:I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I find The Celebrity Apprentice oddly transfixing, if just for Annie Duke's exceeding competence and the nicely fuzzy feeling of big money being raised for what are generally very good charities. And while we're accustomed to exaggeration on the show, I was more than a little frightened by the revelation that Andrew Dice Clay is (allegedly) still the biggest standup comic of all time. Perhaps even more frightening is the thought that the only real contender in recent years to the title? Dane Cook.
HE DID SAY, OF COURSE, THAT IF YOU SHOWED A "BLIND U-TURN" IN ACT ONE, IT'S GOING TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN THE LAST TWENTY MINUTES OF THE SHOW: Our first meh leg of The Race. Why? In part because we're not told whether airport skill or karma played into the groupings on the way to Siberia, but also because of the combination of a hella (but not unfairly) difficult detour option with the long-forgotten U-Turn on top of it, which basically ensured that a team subject to the double-detour would finish in last.

Also, was the conclusion to the roadblock unfair to the less-educated teams, or something that could have been deduced via logic, brute force repetition of all options and/or Star Trek?
FINALLY ... THE ROCK DWAYNE JOHNSON ... HAS COME BACK! ... TO SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: See what happens when you take two weeks off? A pretty good show with elements we haven't seen in quite some time -- a new and funny spin on Obama, a guest host with a monologue and second skit showcasing hidden talents and some nice bitterness, a relevant (and funny) Kenan Thompson bit on Update, Kristin Wiig taking her Jamie Lee Curtis/Activia bit to the next level, and a suitably absurd and fun 12:50a capper.

Sadly, Hulu does not have all of Update -- including a joke that Phil emailed to us earlier in the week and a cameo from a friend of the show who's become as essential to this era as John Goodman was to the late 1990s -- but it does have both performances from Bill Simmons anti-fave Ray La-Mone-Tahn-Yuh.
ALWAYS BE VICTORIOUS: In keeping with my new practice of posting only Idol-related things, I just stumbled across this brilliant American Idol Farewell Song, adapted from the sour grapes-flavored extemporizing of two-time Idol audition rejectee/apparent meth addict Alexis Cohen.