Saturday, February 28, 2004

FOR YOUR OSCAR POOL: Screw the awards; here's the real questions:
1. When Billy Crystal comes out, he will be costumed as (a) Capt. Jack Sparrow; (b) Aileen Wuornos; (c) Jesus on the cross; (d) Other.

2. Number of times that a black person is mentioned by a presenter that are immediately followed by a camera shot of a black person in the crowd: (a) all of them; (b) black people? that was two years ago.

3. Biggest applause during the necrology will be reserved for (a) Bob Hope; (b) Katherine Hepburn; (c) Gregory Hines; (d) Leni Riefenstahl.

4. Which inexplicable former Oscar winner of evanescent appeal will be presenting an award? (a) Cuba Gooding Jr.; (b) Mira Sorvino; (c) Mercedes Ruehl; (d) Mary Steenburgen; (e) Bring back The F!; (f) Seriously, this could be a long list; (g) Geoffrey Rush won for Shine? Yeah, that's a movie I've wanted to see again, ever; (h) Ben Affleck will always be known as A Former Academy Award Winner because he co-wrote a glorified afterschool special. Isn't that ridiculous?

More later, maybe. Enjoy the show.
STOP BEING POLITE: Yes, at last, MTV's The Real World is coming to Philadelphia this spring.

As we've known here for months, they will be moving into the former home of the Seamen's Church Institute of Philadelphia, located at the corner of 3d and Arch, or about a 10 minute walk from yours truly. They will most likely be working at the new 18th & Chestnut location for Stephen Starr's Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar, which is scheduled to open in May.

To date, the closest a reality tv program has come to this house was the Philadelphia episode of Insomniac, when a drunk Dave Attell came frighteningly close to our house.

Oh yeah, and some movie is going to be filming in town in April as well.

edited to add: this article in today's Inq.
A REVIEW OF A MOVIE I VAGUELY REMEMBER: There are places all over the web, like here and here, where you can read reviews of movies the reviewers haven’t seen. Adam, however, frowns on such shoddy journalism. Accordingly, since – with the Eszterhas book and the Elvis Mitchell reference below – Showgirls is in the news again, I give you this Review of a Movie I Vaguely Remember: Showgirls.

Showgirls, which I believe I saw in 1993 or maybe 1995, was directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Joe Eszterhas, the message of this sentence being “beware of joint Dutch-Hungarian art.” Their thesis was that in Las Vegas, there is a three-tiered hierarchy for women: (3) Stripper; (2) Topless Chorus Girl; and (1) Nearly-Topless Featured Revue Dancer. Actually, their thesis is that there is a fourth tier (hooker), and that each of the other three tiers is just a variant of the fourth, with the difference being the quality of the clientele and the subtlety of the commercial transaction. Clearly Eszterhoeven has forgotten about Tier 5: Korean Blackjack Dealer.

Anyway, our heroine, Jessie (Elizabeth Berkeley), is a doe-eyed dancer with big hair and acid-wash who gets dumped in Vegas by some cad, but that’s okay, because she’s on her way to the top. Some (ahem) big-hearted stripper takes her in. Jessie herself becomes a stripper, which is how her path first crosses with Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan), a mogul with an infinity pool, and his doll Gina (Gina Gershon), Las Vegas’s most celebrated dancer. Really, is there such thing? It’s not like they’re Danny Gans or anything. Gina buys Agent Cooper a lapdance from Jessie, and let’s say it goes very well, according to MacLachlan’s law-school-musical facial expressions.

At this point in the movie, I killed myself.

Jessie, of course, dances her way to the top while possibly compromising her principles on the way. She catches a lot of flack for dancing like a stripper, and I believe she makes out with Gina. Gina may be wearing a top hat at the time. I’m a little foggy on this, because, remember, already I killed myself. At some point in the movie, Eszterhas – or is it Renny Harlin? Or Gregg Allman? – shows up at a party and beats up Jessie’s stripper friend. In the end Jessie zzz snore wha? Is it over?

Listen, I love a good bad movie. I think Cruel Intentions is just about the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. But I had two serious problems with Showgirls. First, I was never sure if it was over and was going to fade to credits. Damn you, Joe Eszterhas! Second, the casting was just wrong. Berkeley can play naked but she can’t play sexy, and I realize I’m in the minority on this but I think Gershon has a cleft palate. And MacLachlan was just distracting – I kept thinking “isn’t he gay?” I’m not saying the movie is not a pleasant enough diversion if you’re drunk and it’s on AMC, but just don’t spend any money on this one.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

JOIN HANDS AND HEARTS AND VOICES; VOICES, HEARTS AND HANDS: Nobody puts Elvis Mitchell in a corner: today's Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights review is one of his best.

Once again, Mitchell invokes the glory that is Showgirls.
BUT WHO PICKS THE EMMYS? NOBODY, THAT'S WHO: Fametracker has just posted its annual Inside the Star Chamber article, which reports the proceedings when five clones of Karl Malden choose the Oscar winners (you didn't think that the Academy would really let Hollywood-types vote, did you?). Easily, and perenially, the best Oscar reportage in town.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I'LL HAVE THE SPECIAL, PLEASE, EXTRA BITTER: At feel-good Skadden, when the fight is over who pays for a gluttonous (or inflated) lunch tab on Christmas day, does anybody win?
QUIET! As I mentioned, I am in L.A. this week with Jen and Lucy, and spent this afternoon in the library of the Museum of Television and Radio in beautiful downtown Beverly -- Hills, that is.

I watched a pair of What's My Line episodes with Woody Allen and Nichols & May as the mystery guests, plus a Nichols & May appearance on The Steve Allen Show -- witty, funny stuff from almost fifty years ago, before the three went onto mass fame on stage and screen.

But the highlight was being able to revisit Newhart Episode #184, a/k/a "The Last Newhart".

If you've seen it, you know how brilliant it all is, with the townspeople selling their homes to the Japanese, save Bob and his wife; the farewell "Anatevka" (from Fiddler on the Roof) by their goyische neighbors; then, "five years later", everyone comes back to visit Bob, and then there's a golf ball, and, yeah. If you've seen it, or even if you haven't, you know that the very ending is a piece of comic brilliance that may never have been topped by a sitcom finale (though the hall-of-bitterness Larry Sanders finale comes close.)

Two details worth noting, even for those who remember it well, both relating to brothers Larry, Darryl and (his other brother) Darryl. First is that (and I forgot this) the episode is the only time that Darryl & Darryl speak during the entire run of the series, yelling "QUIET!" at their five-years-in-the-future wives, three yapping yentas from Long Island, just a great little grace note/present for the audience. A great moment in a great episode.

But second is this note of trivia: who was that playing the middle wife, Sada, way back in 1990? Jeepers, was that Lisa Kudrow, in her second-ever tv role? Wow.
SHANTRAX: Our good friend Cosmo Macero Jr. of the Boston Herald blogged today about America's Next Top Model, and he has made his prediction:
I called the winner (Adrianne Curry) on the first installment of America's Next Top Model on the night of the FIRST EPISODE. And now it looks like I'm going to do it again. Shandi the ex-junkie Walgreens worker - with a B&E on her rap sheet - caught my eye almost immediately six weeks ago. . . . Sure enough, the skinny little vixen has made an incredible transformation and looks to be a juggernaut from here on in. It's Shandi's contest to lose.

First off, Cosmo, Isaac Spaceman is not a "guest blogger". Sure, he only posts about as often as it rains in Los Angeles (i.e., rarely, but pretty damn frequently this week), but he remains the Billy Baldwin to my Alec (Ozzie Canseco to my Jose?), and is a full member of this blog.

As to the prediction itself, it's not going to be Shandi -- I just think her lack of body control and grace, as exhibited since episode one's runway fiasco, is eventually going to bite her in her too-skinny ass.

I'm going with April, who just seems to have it all -- looks, moves, discipline, work effort and, increasingly, personality.

(In comparison: Camille's too much of a bitch; Mercedes is too street and not enough couture; Yoanna is too cold; and Shandi, ultimately, not adult enough.)

Your mileage, of course, may vary. Watch the damn show.
AND FOR DESSERT, YOU GET TO CARPOOL WITH NATE NEWTON: Adam has been plugging The Search for America's Next Top Model consistently, so hopefully you're already watching. If you're not, though, I put this question to you: has there ever been a reality TV reward challenge with a better prize than dinner with Big Baby Jesus and The RZA? By the way, Spaceman is rooting for Sara, the sleepy-eyed half-Persian Seattleite who lists "The Making of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue" as her favorite movie and "Hannity & Colmes" as her favorite TV show.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

YES, TYRA, WE KNOW THEY GET THE IMG CONTRACT AND THE SEPHORA DEAL: It's uncanny how much the Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall uses his TiVo exactly how I do:
Bitter "ER" pill Abby Lockhart? Let's just say that on my "ER," there is no Abby Lockhart.

The excruciating "American Idol" Wednesday results show? It's now 90 seconds long, just as it should be. And blink and you'll miss Ryan Seacrest in my version of the Tuesday performance edition.

The regular interview segment on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption"? History. The whole point of the show is to watch Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon yell at each other, not suck up to their "insiders."

There's even a more micro-level of PTI-tivoediting that I do: whenever there's a segment about hockey or college athletics, it's gone. I can run through an average PTI episode in twelve minutes.

(Side question: why is there not a pop culture version of PTI on VH-1 every day? Someone, make this happen.)

In other TV news, get ready for Mark Cuban is The Benefactor -- basically, The Apprentice without, um, effort? Or, it's the long-awaited The Will, only without the dead guy.
WERST IDEUH EVIR: What if spam could . . . you know . . . smell like Spam(tm)??

Monday, February 23, 2004

BETTER BE GOOD TO ME: You all know the story if you've seen What's Love Got To Do With It, and it has the benefit of being true.

Tina Turner, on tour with then-husband Ike in 1976, battered and bloodied, finally flees his hotel for the nearby Ramada. She says to the desk clerk, "My name is Tina Turner, and my husband and I have had an argument. I have 32 cents in my pocket. If you give me a room I promise you I will pay you back as soon as I can."

They give her the nicest suite in the hotel. To this day, Miss Turner will always stay in a Ramada, such is her loyalty to the company which helped her at a time of need.

I think we all have Ramadas in our life. A few years ago when in San Francisco for a friend's wedding, Jen and I got screwed by a rental car company. Having made our reservations online, we didn't realize that this lowest-price competitor was based in a motel about twenty minutes away from the airport (after waiting a half hour for them to pick us up), and to say that we were livid, forty-five minutes later, when they still couldn't find our reservation or an available car . . .well, that would be an understatement.

So we demanded that they take us back to the rental car central for the airport, where Avis was happy to help us -- quickly and, surprisingly, even more cheaply than our original reservation. Since then, Jen and I have been loyal Avis customers whenever possible.

The reasons for this loyalty were demonstrated again back in December when we travelled to Florida. Because we were travelling with Miss Lucy and some of Jen's family, we needed a minivan. Only Budget had one for the week, so we reserved it. Well, as it turns out, our "reservation" was meaningless -- they didn't actually have any minivans available when we got there, and didn't know when any would be coming in.

(After hours of waiting in line and waiting for frequently-disappearing supervisors, they did make it right to us, giving us two compact SUVs for the price of one, and cheaper than the minivan. But still. And the mofos never returned to us the CDs I left in the SUV, even though I called them within hours of our dropping it off to let them know we had left them there.)

So Avis is my Ramada -- even when its rates are more expensive, I will show it undue, perhaps even excessive loyalty, for its service on my behalf in a time of crisis.

What's your Ramada?

Sunday, February 22, 2004

YOU FUNNY. THAT'S WHY I KILL YOU LAST: No, I haven't blogged in about a hundred years. Yes, I realize that there's a ban on politics on this page. I feel it is important, however, to report, verbatim, the response of California AG Bill Lockyer's spokeswoman to the Gubernator's "direction" to the AG to put an end to San Francisco's gay marriage marathon:

The governor cannot direct the attorney general . . . . He can direct the Highway Patrol. He can direct "Terminator 4." But he can't tell the attorney general what to do.

For what it's worth, the AG, apparently reluctantly, agrees with the governor. Via the L.A. Times.