Saturday, September 2, 2006

DANCE 10, LOOKS 3: Unsurprisingly, the fine folks at the Parents Television Council have taken umbrage at the "vulgar and obscene" language used by Helen Mirren and Calista Flockhart at the Emmys on Sunday night. Apparently, they're so deeply and abidingly offended that they managed to transpose the phrase from what was actually said. I'll certainly agree that there are some things that network television ought not to show in prime time, but Helen Mirren saying "ass over tit" would not even come close to making that list.
HE'S GOTTA BE SURE, AND IT'S GOTTA BE SOON, AND HE'S GOTTA BE LARGER THAN LIFE: The WaPo's Stephen Hunter wants to know what happened to old-school movie action heroes. On John Wayne's role in The Searchers, he notes:
He had something else as well, and it's the missing ingredient from today's movies: He knew it was all right to be hated. Hollywood historian David Thomson once called Wayne "the crown prince of difficult men." The stars of his generation knew that the price of heroism, of domination, of certitude, of command, was loneliness -- or possibly, since they were so disconnected from their emotions they'd never acknowledge such a thing -- aloneness.

Look at Gregory Peck in, say, "Twelve O'Clock High" or Clark Gable in "Command Decision," two movies of leadership agonistes set against the strategic bombing missions of World War II. In both cases -- you could add dozens more -- they were men who made decisions that cost other men their lives; they were hated, even loathed; they lived and drank alone. Their courage wasn't physical, it was almost metaphysical. They had the strength within themselves to ignore (though not really; underneath it cut bad) the will of the consensus and pleadings for such shady attributes as "compassion" and "humanity." They knew the job came first.

That certitude had vanished from many places, but nowhere more vividly than the top of the guy star pile in Hollywood. . . .

Today's stars need love. They don't want to be feared, they want to be hugged. They want to be told, "It's okay, big fella." They don't want to shoot anyone, if possible; they certainly won't beat a confession out of a suspect or verbally rip the head off a kid who's new to the unit and trying hard. Their anger is well managed. They never get even, they don't punish, they see the folly of vengeance, they inflict pain only on special occasions.
Or as Tony Soprano once said, "Nowadays, everybody's got to go to shrinks and counselors and go on Sally Jesse Raphael and talk about their problems. Whatever happened to Gary Cooper, the strong silent type? That was an American. He wasn't in touch with his feelings. He just did what he had to do. See what they didn't know was once they got Gary Cooper in touch with his feelings was that they wouldn't be able to shut him up and then it's dysfunction this and dysfunction that and dysfunction va fa culo!"

Friday, September 1, 2006

SWING YOUR RAZOR HIGH, SWEENEY: I'm very late to the party on this one, but those of you in the NYC area who are musical theatre fans owe it to yourselves to see one of the final four performances of John Doyle's revival of Sweeney Todd before it closes on Sunday. A great musical (by all accounts) to begin with, with a daring and successful revival concept attached (not just the "actors are the orchestra" concept, but I believe the larger concept of the show--namely, that it's a hallucination of an inmate in an asylum--is new). How LuPone (who manages to make totiing a tuba around alluring and sexual), Cerveris, and Manoel Felciano didn't win Tonys escapes me (though I haven't seen Jersey Boys or Color Purple yet). I will admit that as someone who'd never seen a full production of Sweeney before, I probably didn't get as much out of it as I could have, but it's still an astounding night at the theatre. See it, and if you miss it, make an effort to see the director's next production--Company using the "actors as musicians" concept.
A KISS STILL WON'T HELP YOU HERE: For those of you who've always wondered whatever happened to Horn & Hardart, or have just wondered "why can't I get a cheeseburger from a hot pink vending machine?," we have an answer. BAMN! is now open in Manhattan, and you can get everything from hot dogs to Spam Musubi out of a vending machine.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

YOU TUBE KILLED THE VMA STAR: You Tube has proved to be an even better time-saver than Tivo when it comes to awards shows, as you know all the best bits will be uploaded within hours. Until this year's MTV Video Awards highlights are posted, enjoy this look back at the Five Most Absurd VMA Moments Ever.
SAY GOODBYE TO THESE! In the category of "Momentarily Restoring My Faith In Humanity," I've been to two very different stores this week (Target in Brooklyn and Best Buy in Chelsea), and at both places Arrested Development: Season 3 was completely sold out. I hope this is a good sign for the rumored movie. (Also, Target has House: Season 1 for $29.99 this week, which is a worthy addition at that price to anyone's library.)
THE PERFECT STORM OF CAFFEINE AND GENETICS: Can we all agree that Lauren Graham (playing "Lauren Graham") + Sorkinese = Crazy Delicious? She'll be guest starring as herself in a two episode arc of Studio 60, starting with episode 4.
IF YOU ARE GIVEN A PRESS KIT AND IF YOU ARE GIVEN PICTURES, WHAT ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM? NYT reports today on a kerfuffle in the Chicago stage scene, occasioned by the fact that Sun-Times' theater critic Hedy Weiss dared to review a set of musicals in development, and not kindly:
[T]he eight deeply flawed new musicals showcased in this year's Stages 2006 marathon at the Theatre Building seemed to suggest the artform has fallen on very hard times. None of the shows presented last weekend, whether in semi-staged or concert reading style, was ready for prime time.

The theater folks are all with the "how dare you!" and the "irresponsible!" for the critic's taking a dump on a bed that's not yet made, but isn't this a simple call? If you're going to advertise a production and encourage the public to buy tickets, doesn't your potential audience have the right to know whether it's worth their time and money? Am I missing something?

To be sure, restaurant critics tend to give a kitchen a few weeks/months before reviewing a new establishment, and theater critics do draw the line between previews and opening night. But it seems like this was opening night, so, where's the beef?
THE FRIENDLY SKIES: As the folks at RedState said in linking to this video, I'm glad I wasn't on this flight.
GOD KNOWS IT BEATS DOING BILLABLE WORK: It's worth noting that David Lat, formerly of Underneath Their Robes and Wonkette, has returned to the blogosphere with Above The Law, which appears to aim to do for the New York Law Journal what Gawker does for the New York Observer. Automatic points for his coining of the word "Skaddenfreude," and for his thus far futile search for "The Hottest ERISA Lawyer In America."
A NOT-SO-NEW MEMBER OF THE ALPHABET CITY AVANT-GARDE: Matt having beaten me to the punch on Justice, I watched a little bit of the Celebrity Duets premiere this morning. We are not impressed.

Concept: Demi-celebrities who are not professional singers (Cheech Marin, Lea Thompson, Lucy Lawless, and so forth) are paired up with music stars, a different one every week. They sing duets. America votes.

The show tries to preserve a little suspense by not revealing the songster celebrities ahead of time -- each non-songster celebrity contestant sang the first verse solo, and then introduced his or her singing star partner. So Carly Patterson sang the beginning of "Somewhere Out There," then announced "James Ingram!" Ingram trotted out for the rest of the song, said some obligatorily nice things about Carly to host Wayne Brady (who hopefully will use some of his fabulous wit and musicality to make the show not suck), and trotted offstage. The judges follow the standard-issue AI model -- chirpy Marie Osmond, a largely incoherent Little Richard, and music producer/songwriter David Foster, who AI-watchers may recall from this past season of AI. On the whole, it was pretty yawny.

But here's the weird thing. One of the contestants is Queer Eye's Jai Rodriguez. The contestants are supposedly not singers. But Jai played Angel in the Broadway production of Rent, as well as Carmen Ghia in The Producers -- both obviously singing roles. This tidbit escaped mention in Jai's Celebrity Duets background video, which strikes me as a little suspect. The judges were positively orgasmic over Jai's excellent duet with Gladys Knight -- as they should have been, as Jai is definitively a professional singer. I disapprove.
WHAT WOULD WE DO BABY, WITHOUT US? Haaave you met Ted's dad? Well, now you have. The article also reveals that Marshall will, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, believe that Lily is having an affair with George Clinton. For reasons unbeknownst to anyone (including myself), I find this highly amusing. (DVD arrives for holiday giving, folks.)
WAS THE "COBRA HAND" USED DURING THEIR MEETING? I haven't watched The Apprentice in a couple of cycles, but I don't think firing Carolyn Kepcher from the Trump Organization, and replacing her with Ivanka Trump is going to solve the problems the show's been having.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

WHETHER YOU'RE GUILTY OR INNOCENT IS DETERMINED BY A 30 SECOND SOUND BITE ON CNN: While Rock Star and Runway have their threads, given the demographics of this blog (a lot of people in law-related professions who love them some SpyDaddy), I figure a thread to discuss Justice is in order. I'm not sold on a show that's a strange cocktail of CSI, House, and Boston Legal, especially since Garber, unlike Laurie and Spader, isn't being given a lot to work with in terms of his subordinate characters (Kerr Smith? Seriously?), and the "we'll show you what really happened" twist was used on Fox's short-lived The Jury.

That said, Garber does get to sink his teeth into a character, and points for an all-too-realistic scene in which nameless and faceless associates must review tens of thousands of pages of discovery in a short period, but Bruckheimer's style can grate as much as it intrigues (swooping-elevator-cam!, high-tech re-enactment in slo-mo!). Since Lost doesn't premiere till the first week of October, I'll give it another episode or two, especially since previews indicate that Amanda Seyfried plays next week's client.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT I'M GOING TO DO AFTER THIS IF I CAN'T HAVE TIM POP UP IN MY LIFE EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE: I have never seen an outfit on Project Runway, in three seasons, as blah as what Vincent did tonight.

Other than that, I have very little to say about this episode, which was much more about intra-competitor bitchery than it was about the creation of exciting fashion, which I thought was the purpose of the show. I don't want to see Survivor-with-scissors; I want to see designers designing.

The only high point? Our new judge may make Michael Kors look like a kiss-ass: "Kayne, I'm sorry. You look ridiculous"? Otherwise, the most skippable episode this year.
PSYCHO KILLER, CE QUI SONT LE LYRIQUE? Weird results show tonight, with Supernova's performance revealing them to be even less of a band that I'm interested in after the season's over, Ryan pulling out the remaining items in his bag o'shtick (climb the speakers! pour some off!), Dilana completely bungling a song like you wouldn't believe, and a lot of ass cleavage on display, male and female.

Sepinwall and I agree -- this is now Toby's competition to lose, with Magni in second. The rest really have to raise it up to have a chance.

edited to add: Bill at So Quoted finds a way to wash the stank out your ears after Dilana's travesty.
YOU CAN VOTE FOR A TUNA, BUT YOU CAN'T TUNE A FISH: Perhaps one of my favorite moments of what turned out to be an insanely busy summer was an impromptu version of "Time for Me to Fly" on the shores of Lake Nebagamon, so that may explain the REO reference in the title (this year's incoming freshmen will never know the thrill of rushing home from Sears to play their newly purchased vinyl versions of Hi Infidelity and Paradise Theater on their combination AM/FM, 8-Track, Turntable, Cassette stereo they got for their bar mitzvah), but all this is going a long way toward informing you that the nominees for the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame have been named and you can vote now for who should join the likes of the Gecko, Juan Valdez and others on the Walk. My vote? Charlie Tuna, of course. Who can't love a fish whose sole ambition in life is to be canned for consumption?
SOME CALL THEM TEENIE WEENIES; OTHERS, PIGS IN BLANKETS: The NYT learns what has never been in doubt to me: America loves cocktail franks.
YES, SHE'S STILL IN THE GENE POOL. Think about the dumbest thing you have ever done. I doubt that it's as dumb as what Li of Mongolia did recently.

Edited for clarity.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I JUST FEEL THIS PLACE IS STUCK ON STUPID: Kids these days never saw Harry Anderson on "Night Court", and now that he's leaving out of frustration and depression, they won't be seeing his one-man show in his adopted home of New Orleans either.
THEY'VE SEEN TWO DECADES END, AND SEEN THE WORLD COULD CHANGE AT THE BLINK OF AN EYE: Yet again, the good folks at Beloit College have released their annual "mindset list" for its incoming freshman class, telling us what it means to be a member of the class of 2010 ("Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale", "Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time", etc.)

But what's interesting about the list to me now is that it's almost all about technological and cultural advances -- "Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines", "Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series" -- but very little about what's been lost for a child born in 1988.

These kids have never had the thrill of looking forward to a new Prince album as a big cultural event. They never had to camp out for tickets to a concert, because they've always been able to get them online. They never got to see Sammy Davis Jr, and Johnny Carson went off the air while they were still wearing diapers to sleep. Because of cable and now TiVo, fresh programming targetted to them has always been available, and they have had no reason to watch the reruns of the shows which preceded them as we did. We watched The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island and Happy Days because there was nothing else on, and it created a shared dialogue with our elders. No more. And while gangsta rap has always been around, they only know about Public Enemy because Flavor Flav is a reality tv star.

So let's not talk about what the kids have gained -- tell us what they missed out on.
DILANA, THE GLASS TIGRESS: So rather than make everyone go twice, RockStar padded it this week. That said, a much better group of performances than the past few weeks. Much. My rankings:
  1. Toby, "Rebel Yell". Just a great performance. Tremendous energy, great job working the crowd the whole time.
  2. Magni, "I Alone". So in his wheelhouse.
  3. Storm, "Bring Me To Life". How do you perform a song that two (eliminated) others already have? By singing it better than them, but conveying the emotions right, and by bringing up Toby for the backing vocals. Great energy.
  4. Ryan, "Clocks". Pulled out everything in his bag of tricks, but they felt like tricks, not authentic emotions.
  5. Dilana, "Mother Mother". Saddled with a bad song, and all the intensity felt forced. The bloom is off the rose, and a Dilana who no longer scares me just isn't that interesting. (And yet, Navarro loved it.)
  6. Lukas, "Lithium". Just a weird arrangement that didn't connect emotionally to the lyrics. I no longer get Lukas, and certainly not as a match for this band.
This will be an interesting elimination week, to be sure. No one sucked.

edited to add: Sepinwall is worried about Storm being eliminated, and liked Dilana more than I did.
NO WORD ON IF THEY'LL BE ADDING "THE JACKYL JACKAL" TO THE SCORE: Allison Janney as Prudy Pingleton in Hairspray? I'll take that. For those of you who doubt Janney's ability to play beyond CJ, witness Drop Dead Gorgeous, in which she (hysterically) plays a trailer trash floozy. And for what it's worth, Marc Shaiman reports that they did a reading, and Christopher Walken was "a BULLS-EYE!" as Wilbur.

Monday, August 28, 2006

IMAGE IS NOTHING: I was absolutely mesmerized by the second-set tiebreaker in Andre Agassi's potentially last tennis match -- just thrilling, tense stuff. We're now tied up as the third set begins, and if you're anywhere near a tv set and you're reading around when I'm posting this, just turn on the USA Network right now.

It's hard to think of an athlete who's made such a transformation in the public eye from mocked to beloved over the course of his career. There are examples in the reverse -- Sammy Sosa comes to mind -- but I just can't think of anyone whose career started with such scorn ("a longhaired pretty boy asshead who kept telling us how badass he was in a fashion that was about as threatening as Richard Simmons", writes Deadspin) and ended up so embraced. You?
OH, I'M SORRY, I CAN'T COME TO THE DOOR RIGHT NOW. I'M AFRAID THAT IN MY WEAKENED CONDITION, I COULD TAKE A NASTY SPILL DOWN THE STAIRS AND SUBJECT MYSELF TO FURTHER SCHOOL ABSENCES: Like the crocodile coming back for Captain Hook or the helicopter seeking to reclaim the rest of Rocket Romano, the Emerald Isle has taken another piece of revenge upon Matthew Broderick, breaking his collarbone.
WELL, SOMEONE GOT HIM OUT OF THE CLOSET: In an collision of egomaniacs so dramatic that I'm surprised we haven't heard a sonic boom somewhere, Tom Cruise's new producing partner will be Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
FEATURING AN UNCREDITED CAMEO BY THE HEAD IN THE BOX: For the Deadwood faithful, here's a place to discuss last night's weird episode. Since Milch didn't know the series would be over, you can't blame him for not doing a better job tying it all together, but I still think it was the weakest of the three season finales. Too much to do, not enough time, and a strangely unsettling non-conclusion. Also, no Mose, no Doc, and very little Dan? What kind of a conclusion is that?

Also, where were Alma and Sophia going in that wagon? Away, or just down the street?
(UNDIGNIFIED ADULT FILM INDUSTRY PROFESSION): Alan Sepinwall recaps the Emmys, while over at the WaPo Tom Shales recaps and Lisa de Moraes liveblogged last night, and I'm left with two questions: (1) do the awards make you want to watch any show that you hadn't seen before?, and (2) should Conan O'Brien be allowed to host whatever he wants at this point? (With a side question: how ridiculously prescient was the much-derided-in-these-parts Lorne Michaels for choosing O'Brien back in 1993 over more experienced folks?)
WOULD THAT BE SOMETHING THAT INTERESTS YOU? Bill Carter explores how Entourage made "The Leap" this season. Is it Sex and the City, but with younger guys on the other coast, or is it something else?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

WE'D LIKE TO THANK THE ACADEMY: It's Emmy Night, and I plan to register my comments in this thread as it happens. It's a snarkalicious night of television, so please join in.
EVER SINCE I WAS LITTLE IT LOOKED LIKE FUN: Okay, so maybe it was too early the first time we tried to assess Song Of The Summer (for me, then, it was Rihanna's "S.O.S."), because Timberpants has effectively brought the SexyBack (heck, even DeRo agrees), the XTina is still growing on me, and if you haven't seen this Gnarls Barkley performance of "Crazy" at the MTV Movie Awards, well, there's a smile coming. Gratist. Drummer. Evir.

My vote's either going to "Crazy" or "Promiscuous", but I can be swayed.