Saturday, October 29, 2005

CHUCK! RUUUFUS! CATHY! While you can get summaries of "Trapped In The Closet" that go up through Chapter 8, you can also preorder the DVD containing all 12 chapters released thus far. Notably, and sadly, the version performed on the MTV VMA was not, in fact, the "official" Chapter 6, but maybe that will be a bonus feature.
WELL, GOSH DARN IT, PEOPLE DO LIKE HIM: Lance Armstrong's gig hosting SNL tonight leads me to wonder -- has an athlete ever been better than unintentionally funny as a host of Saturday Night Live?
THIS IS MORE THAN NIXON EVER SWEATED: Albert Brooks has earned, at minimum, a long-term pass if just off his work in Broadcast News. I'm just not sure what to think about the trailer for his upcoming movie, in which "Albert Brooks," played by Albert Brooks, goes "Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World" at the request of a character played by erstwhile government employee Fred Dalton Thompson.

Friday, October 28, 2005

WHAT THEY'VE DONE IS GOING TO BE PUZZLED OVER AND STUDIED AND FOLLOWED . . . FOREVER: In honor of the season, retroCRUSH ranks the 100 greatest performances in horror movie history.
"A DOWNWARDLY SPIRALING IMPOSTER THAT HAS LITTLE CHANCE TO WIN A POSTSEASON SERIES": The Trib's Eric Zorn zings the Sun-Times' Jay Mariotti by compiling a year's worth of Mariotti's false prophecy on the ChiSox.
NO BUCKLER LEFT UNSWASHED: I have a sacred duty to see all widely released Zorro-related cinema. Sometimes this duty is a trial, as many duties are. It is a duty nonetheless, stemming from my Mother's unexplained refusal of my repeated pleas to audit Zorro, the Gay Blade, circa 1981. (Related duties involving Superfuzz, Megaforce and Modern Problems, while similar in origin, are not sufficiently on point to bear discussion here.) With this duty comes the duty to report.

Ideally, if you were to see The Legend of Zorro, you would see it when it was your day to take charge of your 10-year-old son's Cub Scout den so the other moms/dads could go to the ball game/day spa. Don't just take your own son and expect a bonding experience, as this movie will be best appreciated by and among like minded members of the pre-testosterone set. I'm not saying there's nothing there for adults, I'm just saying it would have been better screened as a serial, filling a summer's worth of Saturday afternoons, thirty or sixty minutes at a time, with its ever-twisting plot and sequence after swashbuckling sequence of precariously choreographed and extremely implausible action.

To keep yourself amused while the pre-teens gape in adrenalized awe at the A-Team level violence and related physical comedy, focus on the following diverting exercises:

1) Estimate the number of completely gratuitous front-flips performed by Antonio Banderas' stunt doubles while jumping over or across things;
2) Estimate the number of physically improbable crashings through or fallings down accomplished without expected physical consequences and/or bodily injury;
3) Estimate the probability of Catherine Zeta Jones' eyebrows remaining motionless without chemical assistance while self-same CZJ smashes baddies with shovels, ladels, chairs, and swords;
4) Estimate the relative badness of The Legend of Zorro villain construct vs. relevant alternative constructs in similarly formatted entertainment requiring similarly intense suspension of disbelief (Wild Wild West, The Shadow and Batman Begins spring to mind);
5) Estimate the degree of parental/supervisory intervention necessary to prevent over-indulgence in simulated post-screening fisticuffs and swordplay by all attending cub scout dens dens nationwide, as well as the correllate cost to the Union in worker productivity, and
6) Finally, using your result from (5) above in combination with your current estimate of the Gross National Product of the United States for 2005 and the projected box office and tie-in revenue to U.S. companies from the production of The Legend of Zorro, reach a reasonably hedged conclusion as to the overall economic efficiency of this particular entertainment.

Enjoy, and come what may, don't say we didn't warn you.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE? George Takei, who played Sulu on "Star Trek", is out of the closet. Bad puns referring to his show are welcome.
"I THINK, ONCE AGAIN, WE'VE ESTABLISHED TO OUR READERS THAT WE ARE A BASTION OF MATURITY, INTEGRITY, AND SOPHISTICATION." I've previously complained about Esquire's selection of Jessica Biel as this year's "sexiest woman alive." Fametracker attempts to explain, taking you inside the conference room.
THE MONEYED AND THE DEAD: Forbes' list of the 13 top-earning dead celebs is back out and Elvis is back at No. 1 again, having earned $45 million last year, followed by Charles Schultz and John Lennon. Some of the new faces (for better or worse) on the list include Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Marlon Brando.
"A STUNNING ACHIEVEMENT IN BAD:" In his Hot Button today, Dave Poland devotes the entire column to what is little more than a lengthy blind item about an upcoming movie he's seen, about which he says "Sweet googly moogly, that was bad!" Of course, this requires, as should all blind items, a guessing game. What film do you think Poland's referring to? My guesses? Get Rich or Die Tryin' (the improbable combination of Fiddy Cent and Jim Sheridan), Derailed (I'm now reading the book, and given that there's an exceedingly unpleasant scene 50 pages in, it could easily get off track), or Rumor Has It (which Poland mentioned in an earlier column was screening this week, and which seems like it has HUGE potential for being either very funny or a complete trainwreck). Take your guess--show all work, and justify your answer.
MAYBE THIS MEANS THAT THE FOUNTAIN WILL BE RELEASED SOMETIME THIS DECADE: Darren Aronofsky will be directing an episode of Lost during May sweeps. I have never been able to bring myself to watch Requiem for a Dream (for fear that I will never escape from the ensuing depression) but I suspect that this may be a match made in funky surreal heaven. (Or is it really purgatory?)
I'LL BE RUNNING ON THE "GROCERIES ARE TOO DARN EXPENSIVE" TICKET: Live in New York? Not really happy with either of the two mayoral candidates? Then it's time to vote for the newest party on the block--The Rent Is Too Damn High Party (warning, sound file). Their platform and issue? "Rent is too damn high!" Perhaps this point could be more clearly expressed by someone who's not insane (he claims that there are 25,000 apartments in the city "only being Rented to the Jewish People," and has sued various media organizations for $36 million because of their purported discrimination against him).

Thursday, October 27, 2005

SOUNDS LIKE MY KIND OF LADY: Weirdest thing about tonight's Alias? It's the first time in 4+ seasons that we have ever understood Sloane's motivation for doing anything. Least weird thing about tonight's Alias? Hey, look! Yet another character with daddy issues!

Over the years, JJ has repeatedly stated that Alias is a show about family relationships. Personally, I think that we haven't yet been told about all of them. There's a whole lot of new characters, folks.
$84.66 FOR DREW BARRYMORE, AND EVEN ETHEL BARRYMORE'S GOT RESIDUALS: According to CNN, the California controller's office has instituted a website so that residents may check to see whether anything belonging to them is in the state's unclaimed property vault. Which creates a fun parlor game: find the celebrity's (or your own, if you're a California resident) stuff!

The results thus far:
  • $254.44 in wages for Nicole Kidman from Disney
  • $323.38 in wages for Felicity Huffman from NewsCorp. Which pales in comparison to the $570 in wages from Disney that her husband, William H. Macy, is entitled to!
  • $270 in refunds for Ryan Philippe from Medione of Los Angeles (his wife has $100 coming to her from Tiffany)
  • $281.03 in wages for Teri Hatcher from Warner Brothers
  • $590 for Dean Cain from Disney and another $123.63 from the Scudder Growth and Income Fund (you too can invest like Superman!)
  • It looks like SpyDaddy's been raiding the vault. Victor Garber has an entry for securitiies from the Franklin Money Fund. The balance? $0.00.

I'm thinking that this site may not be active for too terribly long, especially if any of the addresses are current. Have fun!

SAY IT IS SO: You know what was nice about Chicago's World Series celebration last night? No Jimmy Fallon to ruin it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

MAYBE THIS TIME, THEY'LL EXPLAIN WHY THEY BUILT A KONG-SIZED DOOR IN THAT HUGE WALL RATHER THAN A SMALLER ONE ONLY HUMANS COULD USE: The 1933 original King Kong was a tight 1h 40m long. Peter Jackson's remake, by contrast, is going to run three full hours.

Suggest what the extra eighty minutes of Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Naomi Watts and a big ape may include.
THE KID IS NOT MY SON (OR DAUGHTER): Fairness dictates that we inform you that Janet Jackson is denying the secret daughter story.
AS ARBITRARY AS ANYTHING ELSE WE DO: So, who is the greatest current television producing mogul/genius? Participate in our second Instant Runoff Voting poll.

(The results of our first poll have shifted constantly, from Songs in the Key of Life to Born to Run to a late surge for Nevermind. Such are the vagaries of IRV.)
MAYBE IT'LL MAKE MORE SENSE THAN THE END OF FELICITY DID: TV Guide reports some sad news. Not only will J.J. Abrams not be writing or directing any Alias or Lost this season due to his commitments to CrazyTomCruise, he's acknowledged that this season will almost certainly be Alias' last. The column also contains interesting scoop on Gilmore Girls (Luke's staying around, contrary to rumors) and Everwood (two fan-fave couples are apparently headed for coupledom).
HEY, IT'S THAT BOOK: Even though it's not slated to arrive bookstores till next week, you can now buy the first book from the fine folks over at Fametracker from Amazon. I shudder to think what Amazon will think, given that my order today included that, Justice Breyer's Active Liberty, and Cass Sunstein's Radicals in Robes.
WELL, HIS FIRST BOOK DID HAVE "NAKED PICTURES" IN THE TITLE: Now here's an interesting tidbit buried in a story--Infinity Broadcasting's first choice for a nationwide Howard Stern replacement? Jon Stewart. He turned them down. Given how generally (albeit charmingly) ineffectual Stewart frequently is an interviewer, I can't see him being effective on radio, especially in a talk format, and I don't think Stern's audience, much of which thrives on raunch, would go for Stewart's more soft-spoken approach. (I think it's safe to say Stewart would not be holding "Butt Bongo Fiesta" as part of his show.)
ONCE AGAIN, A TOSSUP, THIS TIME BETWEEN "I BOUGHT HER THE SEX BOXSPRING" AND "IT'S LIKE DRINKING A MY LITTLE PONY": Last night's Gilmore Girls was quite excellent -- why, WHY the Emmy folks can't appreciate Lauren Graham is beyond me. (The diner phone call? The awkward hello at the party? The Plan? Brilliant.) But I do have one question. We all know that Rory's Virtue Ship has sailed, but isn't it Logan who should be getting a sweater?

Oh, and the cameo guest appearance was fun, too. New item for Alexis Bledel's resume: "Laid in bed holding hands with Madeline Albright."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

THE CURE FOR YOUR FEVER: Is the amusing new iTunes Essentials collection--"More Cowbell!" The folks at iTunes have managed to compile 75 songs you probably know that feature the cowbell, beginning (naturally) with "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," but giving you a veritable tour of pop music that I didn't realize featured cowbell (and could, as always, have been improved with more cowbell), including "(You Drive Me) Crazy," "Baby Got Back," "More, More, More," and "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough."
IN PANAMA, IT IS ILLEGAL TO WEAR PANTS ON TOP OF PANTS ON TOP OF PANTS: Now that's the Race I'm talking about -- yes, the frustrating Fast Forward that only one team can attempt at a time, but so much stuff reminiscent of the race of yore: foreign languages, taxi trauma, bribery, fastidious birdwatchers, hiring local guides, and true Killer Race Fatigue.

In foreign countries, random stuff happens. And I like it. Just two questions:
  1. Am I wrong in believing there was a faster flight going through Miami or Mexico City (or were the teams limited by the airlines they could choose)?
  2. Have I missed it, or have no other Teams That Thought They Were Last planned appropriately for a non-elimination leg?
BILL SIMMONS IS ALREADY PREPARING THE UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY SCALE FOR THE LATTER: Reality tv that may be coming to your sets in the near future -- Who Wants To Be The Next Muppet? (only if Waldorf judges!) and Magic Johnson's Celebrity H-O-R-S-E.

The first will survive on the strength of its writing; the second, on its cast. I liked the short-lived Muppets Tonight, and will definitely be watching this.
SETTING THINGS RIGHT WHERE THEY ONCE WERE WRONG: This morning's Times has an interesting profile of the man who can claim to be TV's most successful currently active producer--Donald P. Bellisario. While others have him beat in terms of quantity of shows produced (Aaron Spelling), quality of shows produced, and media buzz (J.J. Abrams), you can't deny the fact that for 25 straight years, Bellisario has had a successful program on the air (with a few missed balls in there, too). Among Bellisario's productions:
  • Magnum, P.I.
  • Airwolf
  • Quantum Leap
  • JAG
  • First Monday (aka, "Joe Mantegna plays a kinder, gentler Scalia")
  • NCIS

Leaving aside its final episode (which I'm STILL not sure if I understand) and some flights of ridiculousness in the late seasons (the "evil leaper" arc), Quantum Leap remains a solid sci-fi show, with moments of brilliance (the Lee Harvey Oswald leap is a classic, especially the "reveal" in the final few seconds of the episode of how Sam actually did "change history."), though I was never a fan of his more recent products.

EXPECT "RIGHT NOW" TO BE THE THEME SONG: So what's the next step for radio after the now highly-successful "JACK" format? Yes, it's "FREE FM," being launched for the post-Howard Stern era--heavy on the quasi-vulgar talk and light on the music. Hosts include:
  • David Lee Roth (East Coast mornings)
  • Adam Carolla (West Coast mornings)
  • Penn Jillette ("unique one-hour live program," apparently afternoons)

So--will it work? Who'd you like to see hosting? Can radio survive the deparature of the "King of All Media?" My view--Stern used to be kind of funny, but about the time he left his wife for a lingerie model, he stopped being funny and crossed the bridge to crude. Penn's program could be interesting--I see it as a younger, hipper, more aggressive variant on "Fresh Air"--but despite his great voice, I'm not sure how well he'll work on radio.

DOES THIS MEAN THAT JOSH CHARLES AND PETER KRAUSE ARE GONNA BE DOING WEEKEND UPDATE? Rumor has it that the first celebrity guest host on the SNL lookalike show "Studio 7" -- which, if you're not paying attention to these things, is the setting for Aaron Sorkin's beyond-eagerly-awaited new series Studio 7 on the Sunset Strip -- will be none other than Felicity Huffman.

Monday, October 24, 2005

AT LEAST WE NOW HAVE LOCKE AND ROUSSEAU: Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson really wants to be left alone.

This officially completes Intensely Private Individuals Day on ALOTT5MA.
TOMORROW, THE TIMES NOTICES THAT 'ER' HAS GONE DOWNHILL: Mastering the obvious, Alessandra Stanley realizes that SNL has been made irrelevant by The Daily Show and Colbert Report.

Let me suggest, again, the one area in which Lorne's show can distinguish itself from Stewart and his spinoff: Girl Power!
MANY A DAY HAS PASSED, THE NIGHT HAS GONE BY: And so, sadly, has the life of Rosa Parks. Her death comes less than six months after she settled her long-standing dispute with OutKast over their song "Rosa Parks." Under the settlement, OutKast (and other artists) will perform on what will be a sadly timely tribute CD.

Addendum: I realized I forgot out the best tribute to Parks I can think of--Sarah Vowell's glorious essay "Rosa Parks, C'est Moi" from The Partly Cloudy Patriot. You can listen to her read it at the end of this episode of "This American Life."
IT WILL BE LEGEN . . . WAIT FOR THE NEXT PART, AND I HOPE YOU AREN'T LACTOSE INTOLERANT . . . DARY: It's amazing how skipping town for one week in the middle of the fall TV season screws up one's viewing habits. I've been watching most shows (except Lost, of course) a week or more behind schedule. But I'm now (more or less) caught up, and ready to offer up a few selected thoughts on a few selected shows.
  • Alias. I'm not as depressed as so many others seem to be. The last couple seasons have been marked by a whole lot of set-up for a supposed payoff that comes 2/3-ish of the way through the season. Season 5 isn't so very much different than seasons 3 and 4 in that regard. Am I a bit disgruntled to see that JJ and the Gang, while having learned their lesson about following through on plot threads on that other little TV show they do, never really figured out how to do it on Alias? Yes indeed. That's really the core problem with Alias -- the writers seem to have ADD, which leads them to blow off perfectly perfect premises in favor of the new new thing. But that doesn't make the show unenjoyable -- the casino maneuver-with-two-narratives last week was nicely done, and Rachel Nichols is doing an admirable job as Sydney-if-Sydney-were-Marshall. (The other newbies haven't been given a whole lot to do yet, so I can't really comment on them except to say that the way Balthazar Getty's Tom Grace talks reminds me of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn.) Alias is certainly not the show it was during its seasons 1 and 2 glory days, but it doesn't suck.
  • America's Next Top Model. Without forcing anyone to listen to me wax rhapsodic about So You Think You Can Dance again, let me just say that I like SYTYCD and ANTM for the same basic reason. I really don't give a whit about the aspiring models' bitchy behind-the-scenes arguments, eating disorders, or drunken shenanigans. What is interesting to me is observing how some of the girls are able to blossom in front of the camera while other, often prettier, girls just don't have it. Lisa? Not pretty. At all. But she has an ability to transform herself into a stunning creature on film that is astonishing to watch. Her deodorant commercial last week reduced Tyra to tears and warmed my own heart in an unexpected fashion, given that I find her to be a fairly reprehensible human being. It's an inside look into why modeling isn't just something that any pretty girl can do.
  • How I Met Your Mother. Mr. Cosmopolitan is ready to throttle me if I tell him this one more time, so I'll say it to all of you instead: How I Met Your Mother could be the new Friends. It's quotable, each and every character is likeable, and it's quirky without being nothing but quirks. (Prime example of the nothing-but-quirks genre: Arrested Development. Love it though I do, there's no underlying narrative.) My own favorite character tic, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, belongs to Marshall rather than Barney: it's his tendency to set every subconscious thought he's having into song. If the writing stays as punchy as it was during last week's clubbing episode, this show could be around for a long time.
PEOPLE MORE OBSESSIVE THAN EVEN THE ALOTT5MA CROWD: Boston Globe TV writer extraordinaire (and fellow Lostophile) Joanna Weiss talks about how Lost is affecting its viewers and how its viewers are affecting Lost.
ORSON, GO HOME AND GET YOUR F---ING SHINE BOX: Martin Scorsese's 1990 mob opus Goodfellas, a film that I too this day still have trouble beleiving lost the Oscar to Dances With Wolves, has been named the greatest movie of all time, in a new poll of the 100 best movies produced by the UK's Total Film magazine.

Here are the top 10:
  1. Goodfellas
  2. Vertigo
  3. Jaws
  4. Fight Club
  5. The Godfather, Part II
  6. Citizen Kane
  7. Tokyo Story
  8. The Empire Strikes Back
  9. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
  10. His Girl Friday
I couldn't find the entire list online, but some other notable movies on the list include: Casablanca (No. 98); Lawrence of Arabia (No. 77); Chinatown, (No. 12); Manhattan (No. 13); Taxi Driver (No. 14); It's a Wonderful Life (No. 15); Apocalypse Now (No. 20); Rear Window (No. 24);"Sunset Boulevard" (No. 25), Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid (No. 31); The Searchers (No. 34); The Apartment (No. 16) and The Godfather (No. 23)
DIDN'T ZACH RUN FOR STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT? I've yet to watch an episode of Commander In Chief, though the pilot is sitting on my TiVo for later viewing, and the news that Mark-Paul Gosselaar will be joining the cast does not exactly make my viewing more likely. What's next? Lark Voorhies joining Desperate Housewives as Alfre Woodard's cousin? Dustin Diamond joining House as a wacky but brilliant new doctor who crosses horns with House while bedding Dr. Cuddy?
IT'S NOT JUST YOU, IT'S ME: Comment posting is screwed up for everyone right now back in business as of 2pm, I think.
SURE, BUT WHO'S HOLDING DONNA NOW? One of my favorite entertainment-world rumors is finally getting a public airing, as "Young" DeBarge has apparently confirmed that Janet Jackson has an 18-year old daughter named Renee, born of (or after) her brief 1980s marriage to James DeBarge and raised by Janet's sister Rebbie.

I first heard of this story a few years ago back when Ms. Jackson was dating Justin Timberlake, and there was a blind gossip item (in I think the NY Post) which basically asked, Which May-December romance in the music world had a real freakout when the younger guy was told that the older woman had a child that was about his age? And it would help explain the change in Janet's appearance between Control and Rhythm Nation 1814.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where '1' represents "there's just no way this is true" to a '10' of "I can totally see Janet Jackson doing this," how do you evaluate this story?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

YOU'RE WATCHING DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, ON ABC, SO STICK AROUND: I have had my first happy dance of the 2005-06 television season. And to my surprise, it came from Desperate Housewives. Even last year, before the backlash began, I never totally understood what all the ruckus was about. It's a fun show with a great cast, but really -- all the hoo-hah about the level of self-aware wit and cynicism never really resonated with me. It's a primetime soap. An over-the-top, sometimes laugh-out-loud-funny soap, but so's the O.C., you know? And yet the O.C. wasn't out there pitching itself as the frontrunner for best comedy.

Oh, but now it's all changed. It's so all changed for me.

Last season, my hero and giver of perhaps the gratist best-actress Emmy speech evir, Felicity Huffman, portrayed Lynette Scavo, who had left her fiercely successful advertising career to become a put-upon stay-at-home mother of four while her husband (the "hey, I'm not gay, no matter how Darren Star cast me a million years ago!" Doug Savant) brought home the bacon and knocked her up at every available provocation. This season, Lynette's husband has decided to become a stay-at-home dad and let Lynette become chief bacon purveyor. So she's back in the workforce, with an uptight boss (Joely Fisher) who views Lynette's offspring as reasons #1, 2, 3, and 4 why mothers shouldn't work outside the home. That's the background.

Tonight, Lynette became Joely's wingman. Every night for a week, Joely cajoled Lynette into coming out drinking with her and pimping for her. Why? Because Lynette was married with kids, and therefore not a threat. After five nights of this, with no end in sight, Lynette came up with a plan. She went into the bathroom, got herself all smoky, did shots with a gaggle of admiring men, and danced on the bar while Joely quietly fumed in a corner on the banquette.

But I haven't told you the important part. The soundtrack for this entire scene? My Boogie Shoes.

Please, everyone, join me for a happy dance.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE? Anyone want to discuss whether Jed Bartlett's behavior and tone in his final scene on The West Wing tonight is consistent with his character over the past six-plus seasons?

And a second question, though this covers a broader span of time: what, exactly, has Josh done right as Santos' campaign manager? Seems like he only wants to tell the Congressman to go against his instincts, and he's generally wrong about it . . .
SO SEXY, IT HURTS? Radar Magazine reports that no one wants to be People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive anymore. Why? It's cursed:
Although a few former “winners” like Johnny Depp, Harrison Ford and Denzel Washington seem to have escaped the accolade unscathed, many—like Mark Harmon, Patrick Swayze, Nick Nolte, and Pierce Brosnan—have watched their fortunes sink after taking the title.

Other recipients, like Jude Law, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Ben Affleck, have seen their love lives take a turn for the weird. Affleck, you’ll recall, was engaged to J-Lo when he landed the slot, and the chaos wrought by Katie Holmes, Angelina Jolie, and Daisy Wright needs no elaboration. The most spine-chilling legacy, of course, is 1988 cover boy John Kennedy Jr., who isn’t even alive anymore.

Not to mention other past cursed winners as 1908 winner Fred Merkle, 1921 winner Roscoe Arbuckle ("Fatty Is All That-y", read the headline), 1937 winner Neville "You Sexy Devil!" Chamberlain and 1987's Harry Hamlin.

Two potential threads off this, and I'm not sure which one y'all will go for -- what other cover curses do you believe in?, or who does deserve to be the Sexiest Man Alive? Is it time for Dr. Hizzy?