Saturday, June 4, 2005

PLAY BALL: ESPN gives us this list of the 100 Greatest Sports Movie Quotes of All Time. Note that the quotes must be about sports, but need not be from a "sports movie," hence explaining the substantial presence of "There's Something About Mary" on the list. I'm still not sure why "Wax on, wax off" winds up far lower than "Sweep the leg!," or why Susan Sarandon's opening monologue from "Bull Durham" about the "Church of Baseball" doesn't make the list, but it's worthy of discussion.

Friday, June 3, 2005

I'LL JUST NOTE THAT HE NEITHER MENTIONED 'CHILL FACTOR' NOR THAT DAMN 'QUILT' MOVIE: Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells has seen the Pitt/Jolie vehicle Mr. and Mrs. Smith and, um, yeah:
It's Charlie's Angels 2 bad, Xanadu bad, Hook bad, Howard the Duck bad. It's soulless, unfunny (except for some of costar Vince Vaughn's lines), bombastic, totally sterile and inhuman. Did I leave out hateful?

I don't want to go over the top here so let me take a breath and step back for a minute or two and collect myself. (Beat.) Okay, I've done that...fine. I'm calm. I'm breathing easy. This movie has cancer of the soul. It made my skin crawl.

Let's talk about Brad Pitt, shall we? As correctly explained in the new Esquire, he does not belong in leading roles at all:
One of this summer's big event movies, an action comedy called Mr. and Mrs. Smith, stars Pitt as one of "the world's most deadly assassins." That's already a mistake. Under no circumstances should Brad Pitt be cast as a superlative. The essence of Brad Pitt is detached insouciance; he's most interesting to watch when he doesn't seem to give a shit. About 14 years after he first achieved stardom, Hollywood still doesn't understand that Pitt is a brilliant goofball prankster trapped in the body of a Greek god. As Achilles, he's a magnificently sculpted statue, beautiful and boring. But turn him into a Waspy analogue to the young Elliott Gould—the shambling, apathetic buffoon—and he'd be funnier than Sandler and Ferrell.

Seriously: 12 Monkeys and True Romance? He's fantastic. Eating his way through Vegas in Ocean's 11? Plenty of fun. But Meet Joe Black and A River Runs Through It? Yawn.

Brad Pitt is much more successful as a celebrity than as an actor; does anyone see a movie just because he's starring in it? I guess we'll find out.
MINERALS, ICE DEPOSITS DAILY, DROP OFF AN UNDERPERFORMING MIDDLE RELIEVER: Who knew that Pavement's Stephen Malkmus was a fantasy sports enthusiast?

(Alternate titles for this post included "Darlin' Don't You Go And Cut Al Leiter, Do You Think It's Gonna Make Him Change?" and "With A Goal Line Stand On 4th and 2 I Hope It's Not A Vulture-Back".)
WHERE'S THE LOVE FOR "ACCORDING TO JIM?" For some reason, the Television Critics Association uses a not-particularly attractive Blogger blog as its press portal to announce the nominations for this season's TCA awards. The TCA loves the slightly quirky, and nominates this year both "Rescue Me," and my newfound addiction, "House" for "Outstanding Achivement in Drama," and surprises by nominating Matthew Fox, Kristen Bell and Hugh Laurie for "Individual Achievement in Drama." Most amusingly, "The Daily Show" is up for 3 awards you'd expect (Program of the Year, Outstanding Achivement in Comedy, and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Comedy for Jon Stewart) and one you wouldn't. Yes, "TDS" is competing against "60 Minutes Sunday," "Frontline," "Nightline," "Meet The Press," and "Newshour with Jim Lehrer" for "Outstanding Achievement in News & Information." Yes, fake news and real news have joined hands and are dancing around.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

A GAME OF HORSESHOES? I really shouldn't be watching Hit Me Baby One More Time -- shows that exist in order to be snarked on aren't nearly as much fun as those which produce such reactions unintentionally.

But I've gotta ask: is that the original Old Guy for Arrested Development, or did they just hire someone else to perform the hip-hop equivalent of That Guy In A Ska Band Who Doesn't Sing, Doesn't Play An Instrument, But Just Dances Around And Provides The "Vibe"?

(Also, v. upset that the Flock of Seagulls lead singer has gone from new wave up-dos to hiding under a baseball cap.)
THE ORIGIN IS ARAMAIC, AND IT MEANS "PRINCE OF THE DEVILS AND RULER OF THE INFERNAL REGIONS": I swear I'm going to get around to reviewing every single one of the new fall shows. For now, though, I'll just pitch a show that I want to watch. Today's topical proposal:

Helling Bee: A crafty demon named Dr. Jacques Ba'ally has hatched a plan to open the gates of hell by having a virgin (known as "the Phoeneticist") spell a magical incantation at the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Four demographically diverse prepubescent outcasts from various important Nielsen regions, plus one from Jamaica (an unimportant Nielsen region, but one known for its broad comic appeal), have been mysteriously chosen to save the world by defeating the Phoeneticist at the Bee -- but first they must overcome obstacles (poverty, parental pressure, learning disabilities, crippling social maladjustment, local and regional tournaments) to spell like the wind! And there's a catch: while the five heroes and the Phoeneticist are each mystically aware of each other and of Dr. Ba'ally's evil plan, neither they nor we know which of them is Dr. Ba'ally's pawn. Also, each of the spellers has an impossibly hot parent or sibling (possible casting suggestion: Aishwarya Rai as a single mom?). Pitch for a Friday - Sunday 8 p.m. time slot.
ONE MORE TIME, VIA SHONDA RHIMES: Unfortunately, we didn't notice this email earlier today (it ended up in the Bulk file by accident). But if you can return yourself to the halcyon days of 12:15p eastern, earlier today, before Our Hero Samir finished second, appreciate this, because I can't keep it to myself:

It's official. I'm in love. I'm in love, I'm in love, I'm in love...

...I'm in love with a wonderful boy.

If you want to get all show tune-y about it.

I'm in love with Samir Patel. Yes, Samir is only 11 years old. So I'm not in love in a creepy Mary Jo LaTourneau-go to jail-plan a wedding-kind of way. No. I'm in love with the Speller within Samir.

Like the other most brilliant spectacle on TV, America's Next Top Model, the Bee gives you many pretenders and one clear contender. On ANTM, it's all a lot of ordinary tall leggy girls who need to eat something and one extraordinarily tall leggy girl who needs to eat something -- so it's not that kind of edge of your seat ride that the Bee is. The Bee shows you many, many decent kids -- all nice spellers, all hard workers, all dressed in the same uber-geek style (not a pair of low-riding pants in the bunch). But then it always gives you a rock star.

Samir is a Spelling Bee rock star. All style, plenty of substance, just enough showmanship to make you sit forward on the edge of your seat when he steps up to the microphone. Samir is the stuff of Spelling Bee dreams. Someone over at ESPN will be crying tears of joy when (and I guess I should also say "if" -- but come on, he's not gonna lose this thing) Samir makes his way to the final championship round.

There are others who had potential. Laura Ann Brown from Alabama who is awkward in that "I'm a thirteen year old girl who is almost 5'9' and tortured daily so I spell to keep from crying" kind of way. But she's also tall and leggy and on her way to being the kind of girl Tom Cruise would pretend to date. I adored her for her bad glasses and oddly Amish A-line skirt -- she reminded me of me. But she froze and went out on "tropholytic" -- a word I can neither spell nor pronounce.

There was Horton Hears A Who Boy: an adorable over-pronouncing, over-enunciating wonder who stopped between syllables of his word to turn his head and whisper into his clenched fist as if he had a tiny person in there to talk back to him. He's a future corporate titan. You can just tell. If only he could get that tiny person out of his hand....

We should also keep an eye on Evan O'Dorney age 11. At least he says he's 11 but he looks like a cuddly toddler. He's tiny and precious and he's spelling his ASS off.

And then there are the heartbreakers. Like the sweet Indian kid Nidharshan who went out in Round 5 because he'd never heard of "muesli". You could practically hear him shouting at his parents: See? I TOLD you I should be allowed to watch television!!

Favorite exchange of the day thus far? #7 Levi Foster, age 14. He was given the word "nuchal".

Levi: Can I have the definition?

Bossy But Cute Dr. Jacques Bailly: Of or relating to back part of the neck.

Levi: Can I have any alternate definitions?

BBC Dr. Jacques Bailey: It also means situated on the back of the prothorax of an insect immediately behind the neck.

A beat of silence. Then:

Levi: (deadpan) That's...helpful.

The audience roared.

I can not wait for the next round to begin.

Shonda, is there a chance that one of the Grey's Anatomy doctors will reveal herself to be a former Spelling Bee whiz? A patient, perhaps?
WHAT ABOUT JOANIE AND CHACHI'S NUPTIALS? DAMNIT, IF THAT WASN'T LOVE I DON'T KNOW WHAT IS: Inside TV, a magazine that mixes the substance of TV Guide with the sophistication and intellectual heft of Highlights, has chosen the wedding of Charles and Diana (that worked out pretty well, eh?) as the Top TV Wedding of All-Time. Others on the list are Luke and Laura, Mike and Carol, and Monica and Chandler, but no Ross and Rachel or Apu and Manjula or Dylan and Toni.
CAN YOU WIN THE NATIONAL SPELLING BEE? Here's your chance: uh-po-juh-TOOR-uh, from the Italian, meaning "an embellishing note, usually one step above or below the note it precedes and indicated by a small note or special sign."

Congratulations to Anurag Kashyap for winning this year's Bee, spelling that and all these other words too. (Lots of Italian roots, it seems.)

live via Shonda:

Aliya went down. Samir just went down on "roscian."

Anurag Kashyap won the whole thing on [see above] and then burst into tears.

And that's it. It's over. We have ourselves a new champion.

I worry, though, about Samir. I hope he lives to spell another day...


Marshall Winchester is a mouth breathing hyper competitive dark horse. He shrieked YES when he realized his word was "rathskeller"and could barely contain his growing glee while spelling. And there are still 18 spellers to go! He may hyperventilate if he makes it to the top 5.


2:38pm: John Minnich age 14 and #257 gets the word "ulpan". His immediate response is a long beat of silence followed by a very tortured "WHAT?"I can't say that I blame him.


3:02 pm: The Jamaican is down. I repeat: the Jamaican is down.

This year the girls (so dominant in past years) are dropping like flies.


3:11 pm: Hannah Rae Smith went down on "cancrizans". Her first response upon hearing the word was to burst out laughing and say, "Whatever."

Another girl bites the dust.


3:24 pm: Beginning to think the whole thing will come down to #21 Aliya Deri, a remarkably relaxed girl, our beloved mouth breather Winchester and Spelling BabyGod Samir Patel.

It's like the Rumble in the Jungle only with spelling and actually completely different in every way...


3:29 pm: Down to the final six in round 11.

I love his style and his drive but Winchester has facial hair. Can you have facial hair and be in the Bee?


3:33 pm: Winchester has been broken by the word "serang"!

Last year's #4, he finishes this year at #5.

WHO CONTROLS THE BRITISH POUND? WHO KEEPS THE METRIC SYSTEM DOWN? Round 8 started off tough for my local boy, Evan O'Dourney, but I sure like this Jamaican gal, Stacey-Ann Pearson, who correctly spelled KAL-ee-KO-sis, a disease often obtained by stonecutters.

And now, the word is Samizdat!
EDGE OF 17 (+40): Stevie Nicks is just one of the 50 personalities on AARP The Magazine's Hot Fifty List, a roster of folks who have "real, make 'em crazy sex appeal (that) comes from deeper, more visceral qualities, many of which become sexier with seasoning."

In other words, it's a list of PILFs (Pentagenarian I'd Like to...).
MONEY SHOTS: The gang of over is back with another list, an ingenious look at the Top 40 "Short Take" Movie Moments. (A short take is defined here as "scenes that were no more than five seconds long (and usually much less).") Classics include Veruca going down the shoot, Rosebud heading into the fire, Mrs. Robisnon seducing Benjamin, and Luke losing his hand. Perhaps the most interesting observation about the list of short takes: "Three of them involve exposed penises," (Boogie Nights, The Crying Game, and The Fight Club).

25 spellers remain. They fall into 2 categories - shocked or arrogant. The shocked kids are my favorites. They have a deer in headlights look, they shift from foot to foot, buy time with inane requests for language of origin one more time. They spell from a place of sheer terror. It's amazing and the look of relief that washes over them when they are correct is some of the best drama on tv, baby.

I hate an arrogant speller. Who has the nerve to be overconfident when you can get stuck with a word like coelostat?

THE SWEET SPELL OF SUCCESS: We are back from lunch, and into round seven. Dominic Errazo did, indeed, fail on the first word greater than seven letters he faced, Mr. Earthling's hometown hero is advancing an EHN-thuh-meem that may lead to his victory, and the lone Canadian left has survived by going VUR-tuh-sihl with a circular arrangement of flowers.

Twenty-seven spellers entered this round; how many will survive?
IT WAS AN OLD HOUSE THAT STOOD ALONE IN A YARD IN HAVANA AND IT HAD GONE 8,400 DAYS NOW WITHOUT TAKING A PAINT OF COAT: The house in Cuba where Ernest Hemingway penned The Old Man and the Sea and several of his other classics heads this year's list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, which begs the obvious question: How can a Cuban home be on the list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places? Explains Richard Moe, president of the National Trust: “Even though it stands on foreign soil, this house is part of the shared cultural heritage that defines us as Americans. Yet its very survival is threatened with critical infrastructure problems, which can not be fully addressed unless significant restoration funds can be raised – and allowed to be used – to preserve this remarkable property.”
WHAT TO DO, I'VE GOT A RESTLESS SPELL: It's championship day, and Round 5 is underway on ESPN.

A perfect seven-for-seven to start the day, and they're definitely getting a little trickier. Get out your sfig-MOM-muh-no-mee-tehr, because the pressure is rising . . .

If you're watching, or just following online like me, the comments are open to you.

Adds Pathetic Earthling: "CALIFORNIA UBER ALLES! Well, at least Northern California Uber Alles.

"My local boy - Evan O'Dorney - grabbed insessorial solidly, as if he had insessorial claws.

"We also have our first victim -- Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan from Boulder -- lost on lihg-NIH-pehr-uss as if her brain had been infected by termites . . . "

edited to add some more: We're now into Round 6, and will keep the pre-lunch round discussion in this thread. Will Anurag Kashyap be enjoying some pruh-SHOO-toe? Was there really just a four-letter word? Whether you've got your bak-uh-LOR-ee-uht degree or not, the excitement is building.
THEY'RE ALREADY PREPPED FOR THE LIBEL SUIT: Today in the Times, Sharon Waxman asks a question that is worthy of discussion, even in the midst of Bee mania--"Has Tom Cruise completely and totally lost it?" Between Katie Holmes, the apparent increasing obsession with Scientology, and that episode of Oprah, Waxman lays out the case pretty convincingly that America's favorite pocket-sized movie star has lost his mojo.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

TOMMOROW NEVER DIES: This fellow, at least, won't be following our round-by-round coverage of the Spelling Bee.
APPARENTLY THE TERMINAL HAS YET TO BE RELEASED IN THE U.K.: How else can you explain Steven Spielberg ranking first on Empire Magazine's list of the Greatest Directors of All Time. The Director of Lost World, Always and Hook beat out lightweights like Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick, and Ridley Scott, who for now is known as the director of films like Alien, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator, but come this fall will be better known as the producer of this film.

For those just joining us, the motto round these parts is "Come for the wall-to-wall Spelling Bee coverage, stay for the pop culture nonsense."
TALE AS OLD AS TIME, SONG AS OLD AS RHYME: OK, so I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of Beauty and the Geek, but it's shockingly well-natured and emminently quotable. Both the "beauties" (gorgeous, but dumb as rocks) and the "geeks" (who range from the traditional nerd to the guy who's the VP of the Dukes of Hazard fan club) are perfectly cast and interesting people. The one thing I might change? The elimination structure, which is more than a little unwieldy, could be simplified. (Or better still, eliminated altogether--at the start, they claim it's a "social experiment," and the eliminations and prizes undermine that--why not give a prize to everyone at the end?) It repeats on Saturday, and if you didn't check it out tonight, it's worth a viewing. (And despite Ashton Kutcher's involvement as an executive producer, neither his visage nor that of Demi Moore is visible.) It's a winner for the WB--far more Gilmore Girls than Punk'd.
HAIL MALTHUS! In looking through the first day's results, a few things struck me:
  • I like Harvest Zhang's words because they work well in a sentence together: "One way to avoid dire Malthusian consequences is to disobey proper algesimeter protocol and just start poking the crap out of people with them."
  • Stacey Ann Person, this year's Jamaican entrant, is still in the running. So, too, is one of the eleven Canadian entrants, Alberta's Finola Hackett.
  • The only newspaper with two entrants still in the running is the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • Other than "Matthew" (twice), there's almost no overlap between the most popular birth names of 1993 and the finalists.

Tomorrow's coverage starts at 10am eastern. Join Shonda Rhimes and the rest of us for all the fun.

THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING: Although the Spelling Bee relies upon the fine Merriam-Webster dictionary alone, you might want to keep these online references handy for tomorrow's contest:

Merriam-Webster Online.

Cambridge Dictionaries Online. (How sad. The Cambridge Dictionary?)

And, of course, the venerable Oxford English Dictionary, which offers us the word of the day: ZAH-pah-TIST-a

(OED is subscription only, alas)
ALL BETS ARE ON: You are now invited to select a speller to win the National Spelling Bee tomorrow. They're all listed here (the ones without the E's, obvo).

First come, first served. Choose one, and only one. Explain your reasoning, and show all work.

For me, since it's my blog, I get to take four-timer Katharine Close of Spring Lake, NJ. A woman has yet to win this century, and she's battle-tested and ready.

(I look forward to someone taking Alexis Ducotte, given the meager words he's had to spell so far, or Dominic Errazo, he of the three words in sixteen letters.)

More statistics and analysis to come later tonight. Did you know all 4 four-timers have survived to tomorrow's championship?
O-R-I-G-I-N-A-L-I-S-M: A very warm welcome to our visitors from Instapundit and National Review Online. We're big fans of Justice Scalia's great spelling and impeccable grammar, too, and share his love for dictionaries of all shapes, sizes, and vintages.
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU THAT I CAN'T SHAKE; BABY, I'M UNDER YOUR SPELL: Looks like we've got some company on the blogosphere. Visit . . . link deleted -- we've overwhelmed what was supposed to be a private site. -ab

Here's what we'll do: after round four is over today, I'll set up a Pick A Winner Thread starting at 7pm eastern tonight. Every user of this site gets one selection of the remaining competitors, first-come, first-served. Winner gets fame and glory forever.

And, boom, Round 4 is underway, and bodies are hitting the floor. Sure, you may wear LAY-duhr-ho-zen or play the GLOK-uhn-speel, but how about ih-DUHL-kuh-rait, meaning, "to sweeten".
YOU'RE A TEARJERKER, BABY, BUT I'M UNDER YOUR SPELL: Round three is happening as we speak, with about an 80% success rate so far.

Thus far, a fairly easy round:
  • uh-STIG-muh-tiz-uhm: that eye thing.
  • hah-buh-NYAIR-oh: the hot stuff.
  • PURR-juh-ree: claiming to not know the meaning of "is".
  • nuh-FAIR-ee-uhss: a word never seen without the word "scheme" following it.
  • PISS-ta-shee-oh: you're nuts if you can't spell it.

Still, someone was knocked out on KWAH-fyoor, and she'll want to wash that word out of her hair for a long, long time.

Comments open for your ongoing commentary on good words, bad words and everything in-between.

MY SO-CALLED FRIENDS HAVE FALLEN UNDER A SPELL: Round three has begun, but first, let's look at the qualifiers.

Of the ALOTT5MA S-P-E-L-L-E-R-S of the Day, three-peaters Samir Patel and Nektarios Vasilottos are in, but, sadly, among the eliminated were Calvin Lau (dad stationed in Germany), Philadelphia's Tricia Powles, New Zealand's Charlotte Roose and Larisa Pachuta, who's got plenty of time for her freeze-dried ice cream now.

Regrettably, Morgan Gilliam, the youngest entrant at age 9, whose "main goal is just not to miss the first word they give", missed her first word: PO-dill-uh-juss, meaning "having pollen baskets on the legs". She'll be back.
THANKFULLY, RICH'S HATCH WILL REMAIN PIXELATED: TAR and Survivor reruns are headed for cable (on GSN and the Outdoor Life Network, respectively). For those of us who came late to TAR, including myself, this'll be a chance to catch up on prior seasons without shelling out the money for DVD or clogging up the Netflix queue. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Bee-related programming.
I'LL TAKE THAT BET: Dark blogospheric overlord Nick Denton has launched yet another blog. This one, Oddjack, foxues on betting of all shapes and sizes, from the World Series of Poker to "event betting" on everything from the winner of "Hell's Kitchen" to the yes/no margin in today's EU Constitution vote in the Netherlands. Among the early features are Oddjack's odds on selected Bee participants, which may be of interest to you. (And did you know that the various Gawker trademarks are held by a Hungarian entity?)
SPEAKING OF WHICH: The words for round one are now online.

For me, it starts getting tricky around #16, but I have a feeling Western PA's Joe Levri had no problem with it.

Round two has begun, with all kids competiting in order of home state, and you can follow it live online. Victoria Shih is, apparently, not Jewish, and it's not going well for the children from the Land of Lincoln.

edited to add: Round two is complete. From the very-in-the-news-last-year "catafalque" to a kid born four years after the fall of the Iron Curtain missing "perestroika" to an abundance of food words ("cappelletti", "vichyssoise", "sorrel", "andouille", "jicama" and a zillion others), we have much to discuss.

Round two words that I think most of us could have spelled in our sleep, and will haunt the kids who had to face "trichotillomania" instead?
  • ahn-WEE -- how I feel when there's nothing good stored on my TiVo.
  • AHRM-uh-stiss -- the end of a war; day on which Paul Simon says the Philharmonic will play
  • sur-OH-suss -- when your liver's messed up
  • SILL-uh and kuh-RIB-diss -- those two places in that myth you don't want to be.
  • ses-kwee-sen-TENN-ee-uhl -- stuff that happened 150 years ago
  • ZITE-guyst -- thing that Nick Denton is searching for
  • TEHMP-ay -- hippie food
  • ruh-SID-uh-viz-um: because otherwise, you'll do it again
  • pa-AY-yuh: George Costanza's mom's favorite dish

Take over in the comments.

BEE READY: How could we possibly make our third straight year of live National Spelling Bee coverage even better, beginning today with the first four rounds (not televised)?

We do what any show does: bring in the Very Special Guest.

This year, the ALOTT5MA team is thrilled that we will be joined for live commentary tomorrow on the televised rounds by the ultracool Shonda Rhimes, longtime fan of this site and creator of the hit ABC medical show Grey's Anatomy, an hour of television so smart and fun that we long ago dropped any and all complaints about her depriving us of Dennycrane until fall.

Oh: and she is, in her own words, "a crazed Spelling Bee fan and proud of it."

Here's how today's rounds work: first round, occurring as we speak, is a 25 word written round, one point each. Then every competitor has one chance, in round two, to rock the mic in front of his or her parents, all 273 of them. Spell that word right, and it's three points. The 90+ kids with the highest combined scores (including ties at the lowest score needed to produce at least 90) move on to the remaining rounds (two today), while the other 180 will start looking at the IMAX schedules.

Bottom line: if you've got a severe case of logorrhea, we're the cure. Please welcome Shonda kindly, and let the coverage begin.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

ALOTT5MA FOLLOWS THE WAMPUM TO BREAKING SUMMER CAMP NEWS: As I mentioned below, eight years ago Carl Bernstein's son Jacob tried to climb the summer-camp social ladder by telling the much, much cooler Chase Culeman-Beckman who "Deep Throat" was. Salon's Amy Reiter has the whole story. Basically, as everybody knows, there's no better way for a maladjusted son of a career journalist forever known as "not the cute one" to rocket to summer-camp superstardom than, say, dishing the Pentagon Papers or revealing Bob Novak's secret source. So I dug a bit deeper, and with my own confidential informant -- we'll call him "The Hedgehog," to borrow a theme -- I unearthed a tape of the fateful reveal, transcribed below:
JB: Hey, can I hang out with you guys?
CC-B: No.
JB: Please?
CC-B: Get lost, I'm trying to get to second base with [redacted].
JB: I'll tell you a big secret.
CC-B: Pipsqueak, I'm working here. Besides, what secret could you possibly have?
JB: My father is a Pulitzer-Prize-winning investigative journalist.
CC-B: Oh, all right. Spill it and we'll see if it's worth it.
JB: I know who Deep Throat is.
CC-B: Who?
JB: W. Mark Felt.
CC-B: No, I mean who's Deep Throat?
JB: You know, the guy who told my dad to follow the money?
CC-B: Follow who?
JB: The money. Because it led to CREEP.
CC-B: To what?
JB: That's how they got to Stans.
CC-B: You know, I have boobs to fondle, and I don't even know what you're talking about.
JB: About Watergate. You know, bringing down Nixon.
CC-B: Oh, you mean those guys from the Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young songs.
JB: Leonard who?
CC-B: Don't you know anything? Ignorant.
JB: Uh, so anyway, I know who Deep Throat is.
CC-B: And?
JB: It's W. Mark Felt.
CC-B: Who's he?
JB: A former high-ranking FBI official.
CC-B: Is he in any songs?
JB: I never heard of him before my mother, Nora Ephron, who is thinking about doing a movie with Meg Ryan, told me he was Deep Throat.
CC-B: Your mom knows Meg Ryan?
[extended silence, possibly erasure]
FROM THIS TINY MALAYSIAN FISHING VILLAGE, THESE SIXTEEN AMERICANS ARE BEGINNING THE VOYAGE OF A LIFETIME: With those words, five years ago tonight, Jeff Probst opened the first episode of the first season of Survivor. Newsday's Verne Gay tries to explain What It All Means.

Relive the day with Tim Goodman's 6/1/00 prescient, gushing review of that debut or the six-page (that's it?) TWoP recap ("The narrator, who looks like The Professor, appears again and shows us the teams' treemail. I feel inferior in light of such crafty wordplay. His name, we are told, is Jeff Probst, as if we care.")

Seriously, folks, hasn't Mark Burnett made your life better?

edited to add: Lisa de Moraes' original review, where, for once, she erred, calling it a "voyeur show" ("think "Gilligan's Island" produced by George Orwell") and underestimating it as "merely means to an end -- hawking new fall shows to younger crowds."
THIS IS BANANAS, B-A-N-A-N-A-S: A question--If Gwen Stefani is so desperate to proclaim that she "ain't no Hollaback Girl," why does she spend much of the video driving around in a car with her face on it and the words "Hollaback Girl" above it?
IT'S LIKE A THOUSAND TINY FINGERS MASSAGING YOUR GUMS, ASSUMING THAT WERE SOMETHING YOU THINK WOULD BE APPEALING: In this month's Fametracker Celebrity vs. Thing (spoiler alert!) not-socks defeats Chris Rock. This reminds me of something that Spacewoman wishes I would quit saying: my Gap athletic not-socks (no link because you can't buy them online; make sure you get the ones with the grey heel patch) are the greatest things I've ever put on my feet. The first time I put them on, I literally exclaimed, "oh, my God." I then spoke for about ten minutes about how much sock technology has improved in the last few years. These things are warm, snug, efficiently wicking, and damned plush. It's like wrapping your feet in labrador puppies. I don't care if Spacewoman says that they should have little pom-poms on them. If, when tooling around in shorts, you wear Pumas (parental advisory for this fake ad, by the way), Adidas Rod Lavers, turf shoes, or anything else that hits below your ankle and is supposed to look like you're not wearing socks, you can do no better than these.
WILL JOAN BAEZ TELL THE CROWD THAT THIS IS OUR GENERATION'S "WOODSTOCK '94"? Artists and venues now announced for Live 8:
In London's Hyde Park, those performing include Mariah Carey, Coldplay, Dido, Keane, Sir Elton John, Annie Lennox, Madonna, Muse, the Scissor Sisters, Sir Paul McCartney, Joss Stone, Stereophonics, Sting, Snoop, Robbie Williams, U2 and REM.

In Philadelphia, acts performing will include Will Smith (hosting), Bon Jovi, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, Sarah McLachlan, Rob Thomas, Keith Urban, Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, 50 Cent, Kaiser Chiefs and P Diddy.

Among artists scheduled for Berlin are A-Ha, Bap, Crosby Stills and Nash, Lauryn Hill, Die Toten Hosen, Peter Maffay and Brian Wilson.

The concert in Rome will feature musicians including Irene Grandi, Faith Hill, Jovanotti, Tim McGraw, Nek, Laura Pausini, Duran Duran, Vasco Rossi and Zucchero.

In Paris, Andrea Bocelli, Craig David, Calogero, Jamiroquai, Kyo, Yannick Noah, Youssou N'Dour, Placebo, Axelle Red, Johnny Halliday, Manu Chao and Renaud will be among those taking part.

Yes -- yet again, the UK gets a much better show than Philadelphia.

And, yes, it's that Yannick Noah.
STILL UNANSWERED: WHO DID DALLAS? In an upcoming article in Vanity Fair, former FBI agent W. Mark Felt -- who Carl Bernstein's 11-year old son already dimed, so nice job keeping the secret, dude -- says that he was "Deep Throat." This confirms Nixon's own suspicions.
REVEALED: ANGELINA JOLIE IS DEEP THROAT: What's that? Oh, W. Mark Felt is Deep Throat and Jolie is the most beautiful woman in the world, according to a new list of the Top 100 Beauties from England's Harpers & Queen magazine. Brunettes dominated the list (in your face, blondie!), with the top 5 all sporting dark locks (Christy Turlington, Queen Rania of Jordan, film director Sofia Coppola, and domestic goddess Nigella Lawson). Other brunettes of note in the top 25 include an elf and the girlfriends of the Hulk and Darth Vader: Liv Tyler, Jennifer Connelly, and Natalie Portman.

Monday, May 30, 2005

DEWBERRY, GIVE IT TO ME: I'm withholding judgment, for now, on Hell's Kitchen. Gordon Ramsay certainly brings the hell, but unrelenting criticism doesn't make for great television -- it has to be balanced by the occasional praise (see: Trump, Cowell, Dickinson) to be meaningful.

What I wonder about most with the show is whether there's going to be any training going on; otherwise, it's just throwing unqualified people into an oubliette of constant abuse, with no realistic chance to impress Ramsay -- or us.

I like the idea of the show -- Apprentice In The Kitchen. But execution? Well, my bouche is amused, but not wowed. You?
THIS, COUPLED WITH THE EXIT POLLS, PROVES FRAUD: I don't know if this actually means anything, but interestingly, while Carrie may have won the voting on AI Tuesday night, Bo leads on iTunes. Bo's version of "I Don't Want To Be" is #49 on the iTunes top songs today, while Carrie's version of "Independence Day" is #70. Both are topped by original Idol Clarkson, who's in at #4 with "Behind these Hazel Eyes," #13 with "Since U Been Gone," and #40 with "Breakaway." Then again, downloading in the UK has caused problems, as "a ring tone based on the sound of a revving Swedish moped" has beaten Coldplay's great new single "Speed of Sound" to the top of the UK charts.
WE ARE THE WORLD: No lineups, details, or precise locations yet (other than that Sting will appear), but the AP is reporting Bob Geldof's follow up to Live Aid, "Live 8" will be again hitting Philly (along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway) and London (I assume at Wembley or the Millennium Dome) on July 2. My bet for the big surprise of the event? A Police reunion, which would probably be worth the ticket price alone--sadly, we will also have to suffer through a Spice Girls reunion. The BBC reports rumored performers include U2, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and Joss Stone. So, who else is up for the 4th in Philly?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING: Apparently, Cyndi Lauper didn't make enough money off of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Time After Time. She's suing her apartment building in NYC for complex problems with sublets and rent stabilization.
REMIND ME, AGAIN, WHY ON EARTH ANIMATED SHOWS AREN'T ELIGIBLE? Following up on our tour through the Best Actress in a Drama category for the Emmys, we turn to another category--Best Comedy Series--how do you fill this category without Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Friends, or Sex and the City. Of last year's five best comedy nominees, one ended its run last year (SATC), one produced no new episodes during the eligibility period (CYE), and one, well, the less said about it this season, the better (Will & Grace). Raymond and defending champ Arrested Development are safe bets to return, and those lovable Desperate Hosuewives seem likely to join them (and, yes, it's a comedy, more specifically a satire, as Marc Cherry memorably pointed out in the AD finale). But what fills the category?

Entourage, HBO
  • The upside: Allegedly exceedingly funny and utterly deadpan, featuring a great performance from Jeremy Piven in particular. The second season will be airing as voters vote, keeping the show in perople's mind.
  • The downside: May be seen as too "inside baseball" for its own good and too deadpan. Not nearly the "buzzy sensation" that many HBO shows have been. Eligible shows aired last summer, a long time to stay in the memory.
Scrubs, NBC
  • The upside: Dry enough to please the bitter and sarcastic, but broad enough to appeal to the general audience. Manages to mix the comic and the dramatic highly effectively. Not previously recognized by the Emmys (not even for John C. McGinley). A hyper-talented cast that's well-regarded throughout the industry.
  • The downside: A bad ratings year due to a nasty timeslot. Allegedly, saw something of a creative slide (I didn't see much of it this year because it was up against TAR) during the season. Is arguably experiencing Will & Grace syndrome with a constant parade of guest stars (Tara Reid, Matthew Perry, Heather Graham, Juliana Marguiles, Molly Shannon).
Gilmore Girls, The WB
  • The upside: A critical darling with top-notch writing and performances that's unanimously agreed to have had a creative and ratings renaissance this year after a lackluster 4th season, which has never before been recognized by the Emmys.
  • The downside: May not be viewed as "comic" enough, especially this season, where Rory's storyline in particular was very dark, on the WB, may be seen as too "girly."
The Office, NBC
  • The upside: Exceeded just about everybody's expectations by being not merely a shot-for-shot remake of the hugely successful Britcom (see, e.g., Coupling), very funny, tour de force performance by Steve Carrell.
  • The downside: Still not as good as the BBC version. Low-rated. Short run (only six episodes) may not be viewed as "enough" to support a nomination.
Two and A Half Men, CBS
  • The upside: It's the new "biggest sitcom in America." Funny in that utterly disposable way that many sitcoms are. Keeps Charlie Sheen away from hookers at least one night a week, and gives Jon Cryer gainful employment.
  • The downside: Utterly disposable, often painfully formulaic, critically loathed, may well be the beneficiary of its timeslot. Does anyone you actually know watch it, much less admit to watching it?
The King of Queens, CBS
  • The upside: Been around forever, has several critics (particularly EW) who adore it, decently rated, and the cast has had success in other media this year (Kevin James in particular).
  • The downside: Again, does anyone really care?
Joey, NBC
  • The upside: LeBlanc's coming off three straight nods for playing the same character, moments of pleasant surprise (LeBlanc and De Mateo's chemistry, Jennifer Coolidge), some clever "inside Hollywood" jokes.
  • The downside: Not nearly as good as Friends, LeBlanc's schtick/character wears thin quickly. Andrea Anders is horrible in her part (though attractive) and that relationship never got workable, leading to a "huh?" quasi-cliffhanger.
I don't think whatever the fourth and fifth nominees are will make a great deal of difference, with the fight between the three very different types of shows that the guaranteed slots present monopolizing the votes. Anything I'm missing? What fills the final slots?
OOPS: This is not the kind of correction you like to see in the NYT Styles section: "A photograph last Sunday with the report about the marriage of Alyssa Maclean Cobb and Dmitri Vladimirovich Konon was published in error. The picture showed Karen Robin Kantor and Glenn J. Preslier, who were married at the Boathouse in Central Park on March 26."