Saturday, December 9, 2006

BIG WILLIE STYLE: It is easy to be cynical, and lord knows, the trailers for the new Will Smith film The Pursuit of Happyness have led me to wonder, do I really want to see a film that seems so completely inspirational and sappy?

Well, now that I've read this 2005 SF Chron piece on Chris Gardner, whose life is the basis of the film, the answer may well be yes. It's a hell of a story, and it really does make you feel good about the opportunities available in America. Here, Carrie Rickey has more with Will Smith.
COUNTLESS SCREAMING ARGONAUTS CHILDREN: It is an open question as to whether They Might Be Giants have always been fundamentally a band playing music for kids or whether they've only embraced it recently with No! and Here Come The ABCs.

(Craig, if you're reading this, yes, I still regret not heading down for that TLA show back in, what, 1989?)

Regardless, I took Lucy (and Adam C. came with his family) to see The Johns at World Cafe Live today, and it was just a total blast -- a mix of the great kids' stuff and classics like "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)", "Particle Man" and, hallelujah, "Birdhouse in Your Soul", which is one of the most perfect, ecstatic, wonderful pop songs there is. Lucy and I pogoed to it. We had a blast. I think everyone did.
A TASK EVEN PARTICLE MAN CAN'T ACCOMPLISH: I can't recall the last time iTunes' database failed to immediately produce results when I stuck a CD into my drive, no matter how obscure and old or recently released the CD might be. But of all the things that would not be found in the database, it shocks me that Flood from They Might Be Giants (which I picked up for like $6 at Tower Records' close-out today to replace the old copy I lost) would be absent from the database.
137-YEAR OLD BEER: Okay, not a catchy title. But a damned cool story about a cache of 137-year old beer discovered . . .and discovered to be more than drinkable.
I GET UP, YEAH BABE, AND NOTHING GETS ME DOWN: This eight-and-a-half minute video of a guy running around and jumping over, on, through, into, out of, up, and down stuff is unbelievable. In a lot of ways, it's a great self-contained short film. The background -- presumably some part of Russia, given the cyrillic title shots -- is bleak and hardscrabble; the action is thrilling and bouyant, and, frankly, probably the most amazing amateur thing I've ever seen. So two thoughts: first, how is that guy not just broken right now; and second, isn't this the movie that Patrick Dempsey's Run should have been?
IT'S JUST A GUESS, BUT I AM PRETTY SURE IKE TURNER IS NOT GOING TO TOP THIS LIST: According to The Eyeball Kid, a blog about Tom Waits news, Waits' wife and collaborator, Kathleen Brennan, appears on a list of the top 20 rock spouses in the new issue of the UK's Word Magazine. I couldn't find the list anywhere, but the comments are open to any suggestions of who should (Yoko, Pam Anderson) and should not (Yoko, Pam Anderson, again) be on the list.

Friday, December 8, 2006

WE TALKIN' BOUT LEAVING? It may only be a matter of days before the Allen Iverson era in Philadelphia comes to an end.

He gave us his best, and the Sixers cannot give him the supporting cast he deserves. Wherever he goes -- except if it's Boston -- I'm hoping he gets the championship he has earned. It's a sad day.
YOU'RE GONNA LOVE ME: Today's pointless bit of trivia hooked to a current pop-cultural event--Jennifer Holliday is the primary backup vocalist on the timeless Foreigner classic "I Want To Know What Love Is (I Want You To Show Me)."
CALIFORNIA CROONING: Blender lists the Top 25 Songs About L.A. and fans of Randy Newman, The Doors, and Dave Logan will be disappointed to not see those artists' contributions to the City of Angels oeuvre not among the entries. Also, you'd think the Beach Boys would at least have one song on the list.

Wikipedia has a list of songs about L.A., too, and Blender missed some good ones like The Kinks' "Celluloid Heroes," Weezer's "Beverly Hills," and Michelle Shocked's "Come A Long Way."
THE NAKED AND THE LEFT FOR DEAD: Two lists to get your Friday off to a good start. First, Mr. Skin has picked his 10 Best Nude Scenes of 2006 (SFW, alas). As for the dead part of the equation, the Onion AV Club has a revealing look at the ghosts of its critics' past Best-of-(Insert Year Between 1989-2000 here) Lists, featuring names such as Travis, Urge Overkill, Fine Young Cannibals, and Hole. And yes, I am also still waiting for that Avalanches follow up.
I'M STILL WAITING FOR "MICHAEL RICHARDS' BIRTH OF A NATION:" An informal survey around here: do the generally positive reviews (61% fresh vs. 58% fresh for Blood Diamond and 47% fresh for The Holiday) outweigh the apparently exceedingly extreme violence and, the, y'know, batshit insanity, and get you to want to see Mel Gibson's Apocalypto?
I GUES SHE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANTED TO ZIG-AH-ZIG-AAAAAH: It looks like Eddie Murphy has sired a Spice Baby with Mel B., except he's not quite all hee, hee, hee about it, and may indeed be stepping to the bad side, ooh ooh ooh. Your inappropriate headlines and other comments to follow.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

STILL CAN'T TAKE THE SKY FROM ME: I don't know how it'll work or if it'll work, but the idea of a Firefly MMORPG is certainly interesting. But will there be space whores? I demand space whores!
MAYBE I'M CRAZY TO THINK YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL (IT'S TRUE), BUT I'M NOT READY TO MAKE NICE OR BE WITHOUT YOU, BABY. TELL ME YOUR FAVORITE SONG: Nominees for the 49th annual Grammy awards have been announced. Multiple nominees include Mary J. Blige, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Dixie Chicks, James Blunt, John Mayer and Prince.

Matt's October predictions are here. Time to analyze.
JUST BUY A BOTTLE OF WINE AND BE DONE WITH IT: While browsing through holiday gift guides seeking inspiration, I came across this entry in Time Out New York's gift guide. Now, the entry itself is not troubling--it's certainly a "stylish but unique" gift. What I take issue with is the tags--I would certainly not buy this item for my sister or for a "friend." ("Girlfriend" and "wife?" Sure.) At least they didn't add the "mom" tag to it.
CULINARY SECRETS OF THE DVR: We have not been able to watch this week's Top Chef as of yet, and time will be short these next two nights. If you're itching to "get raw" -- as the kids say -- about last night's elimination, please consider this an open thread.
I KNOW IT'S LATE, I KNOW YOU'RE WEARY: Jim DeRogatis defends (and extols) Bob Seger in concert, arguably the worst inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
But for my money, I'll take a strong Seger show -- which Thursday undeniably was -- over a run-of-the-mill Bruce Springsteen set any day. Unlike the Boss, Bob isn't aspiring to craft Important Art or make a Grand Statement. He's just playing the sort of music he loves, and he's arguably as good at it today as he ever was.
I've been to run-of-the-mill Springsteen concerts. There is simply no way Great Seger > Mediocre Springsteen. Ever.
JIM HENSON, YOU HAVE SOME COMPETITION: Legendary NYT reporter R.W. "Johnny" Apple planned his own memorial service before he passed away in October, and it was quite a celebration:
Yesterday the event he wished for unfolded with appropriate grandeur at the Kennedy Center, whose Eisenhower Theater barely held the crowd of celebrating mourners, and whose North Terrace accommodated a post-service buffet to remember. Apple would have savored the spread laid on by 21 of the Washington area's best restaurants, and lubricated by the wines of 20 American vineyards. Apple apparently knew the proprietors of all 41 -- and of course had sampled their production, in all likelihood prodigiously. Had he been able to partake, Apple would have particularly liked the huge fresh oysters flavored with generous dollops of real Russian caviar provided by Patrick O'Connell of the Inn at Little Washington.

It wasn't a state funeral, exactly: no pomp, no men in uniform. Perhaps you could call it an estate funeral -- fourth estate. This isn't a known category, it couldn't be -- to the best of your correspondent's knowledge, there has never been an analogous event, and there will never be another. Like Raymond Walter Apple Jr., the memorial service was sui generis. How many great political writers were also great food writers? How many reporters became famous, really famous, for the immensity of their expense accounts?
The service, featuring 13 eulogists, will air later on C-SPAN.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

THE BATTLE OF THE BLONDES (AND EUGENIA): America has a new Top Model; our long national nightmare is over. Clunky editing and clunky runway walking aside, a satisfying end to a darn good season.

edited to add: EW's Whitney Pastorek has more, including an interview with the winner
I LACK DURAN DURAN'S VERSION: While on the train home tonight, browsing through my iPod, I noticed I have three very different songs titled "Rain" on there (Dana Glover, Jackopierce, and Madonna). This led to me to wonder, what song title do I have the most different songs for--with different versions by the same artist (live and studio) and cover versions of the same song not counting. "Breathe" clocks with three (if you ignore subtitles) (Faith Hill, Michelle Branch, Anna Nalick), as does "One" (Aimee Mann, U2, and "A Chorus Line" OCR), "Save Me" (Jem, Bird York, and Aimee Mann), and "Superman" (Lazlo Bane, Sister Hazel, and Five For Fighting). But the winner, if you count both phonetic spellings and ignore subtitles, is "Thank You," with Alanis Morissette's "Thank U" sharing space with Dido's "Thank You," Christina Aguilera's "Thank You (Dedication To Fans)," and Sly & The Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)." What's yours?
SOMEBODY PLEASE SEND THE STAFF AT CRACKED A DVD OF THE BABE: Cracked has an amusing look at The Five Most Un-athletic Sports Movie Performances today, but inexplicably they fail to mention the first two examples that pop into any sports movie fan's head--John Goodman as an uber-corpulent Babe Ruth in The Babe and Anthony Perkins going psycho as Jimmy Piersall in Fear Strikes Out. Gary Cooper deserves mention for Pride of the Yankees, but I'm usually so teary eyed by the end of the film I have forgotten Cooper's weak swing. (And a note to the copy-editing crew over at Cracked: If you are going to mock Rudy, otherwise known as the greatest sports film ever made even it is about Notre Dame, at least spell Astin right--it's with an "i" not an "o.")
THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: The National Board of Review award winners (which are the first year-end film awards) are a big pile of confusion. Letters From Iwo Jima takes the "Best Picture" crown, but more interesting is the absence of Dreamgirls from the Top 10 list (a list that surprisingly includes Blood Diamond and Devil Wears Prada), though Jennifer Hudson ties for Breakthrough Female. A pleasant surprise to see Catherine O'Hara win Best Supporting Actress. Though For Your Consideration is a disappointment, her performance is marvelous. Most indefensible award, though, is the screenplay award to Stranger Than Fiction. It's a cut-rate Adaptation knockoff without any of the complexity. How about Little Miss Sunshine instead. It's worth noting that while the NBR winner has been nominated for Best Picture consistently since 2001, none of those nominees has won. The last NBR winner to win for Best Picture was American Beauty in 1999.
A VERY METAL CHRISTMAS: Can any of you help me find a gift for my brother-in-law. He is really into heavy metal. His favorite band is Megadeth and he has a lot of their albums, and also Slayer, Metallica, Slipknot, etc. What he would really like is some kind of compilation of various heavy metal artists or even better, some kind of "history of heavy metal" CD (I have no idea if this kind of thing exists). Any suggestions?
I HOPE YOU ALL GET BITTEN BY A FREAKIN' ANNIVERSARY: While I missed the exact date, and while I've missed the current (apparently great) season because I don't have a dual TiVo (or a butler), RealityBlurred's handy calendar reminds me that we just passed the one-year anniversary of a classic episode from Survivor 11, in which Danni inverts the entire game and Judd the Doorman . . . well, he gets angry, man. The TWoP recap begins here.
THAT'S IT. I'M GOING! : Here is a slightly shortened version of Pulp Fiction, that contains all the salient plot points and none of the annoying dialogue. Save one word.

Really, really NSFW.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

I'M GOING WHEREVER THEY VALUE LOYALTY THE MOST: The New Yorker's Tad Friend has a think-piece on The Office, both U.K. and U.S. versions:
The challenge that faced the American “Office” was to honor the spirit of the original while tweaking the workplace dynamics so that audiences would want to watch more than twelve episodes. The British scabrousness and barely suppressed violence is gone, and the Scranton office -- brighter and noisier, with more posters, parties, and pep -- is Slough on Zoloft. Scranton has its thwarted lovebirds, too, Jim and Pam (the boyishly appealing John Krasinski and a depressed but radiant Jenna Fischer), who are better-looking and more assertive than Tim and Dawn. But two more office romances have been woven into the mix, and where Ricky Gervais’s David was nearly asexual, Steve Carell’s Michael Scott is weirdly and delightfully pansexual. Ryan, the go-getter junior salesman (B. J. Novak, one of several writers on the show who also play characters), tries never to be alone with his boss. It’s not just that Michael slaps him on the rear and calls him on his cell phone to coo but that Michael once proclaimed, when everyone was playing Who Would You Do?, “Well, I would definitely have sex with Ryan!,” adding, a moment late, “ ’cause he’s going to own his own business.” Which makes it perfectly understandable.

Referring to such differences, Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment, has remarked that “Americans need a little bit more hope than the British.” In fact, conditions in Scranton are fairly hopeless: when it appeared, earlier this season, as if the branch might close, many of the employees were delighted. Toby, the doleful human-resources nebbish (Paul Lieberstein), told the camera, “For a minute there, I saw myself selling my house, moving to Costa Rica, learning how to surf. But, Costa Rica will still be there . . . when I’m sixty-five.”

What distinguishes Dunder-Mifflin from Wernham Hogg is not hope but consolation. In the British “Office,” we never learned most people’s names; the American version lovingly anatomizes everyone and takes advantage of the long-take documentary format to reveal the full complexity of everyone’s feelings (we glean, for instance, that Toby has an unspoken crush on Pam, and therefore resents Jim). Lost is the condemnatory power of the anonymous British chorus; gained are both a standard American melting pot and a commedia-dell’arte stock company, featuring Kelly the Yakker, Meredith the Lush, Kevin the Letch, and Creed the Cantankerous Freak, who is just a possession or two away from being a hobo.

Dinkin' flicka, indeed.
WE HAVE A DIFFERENT HERO EVERY DAY: Former Phils swingman Don Carman gets around to answering his fan mail . . . 15 years later. Nice story.
A NIGHT OF PROSPERITY? When it returns in February, Lost will air Wednesdays at 10pm on ABC, a move designed to keep it out of the way of the Idol results show and Criminal Minds, making room for a two-hour block of comedy preceding it.
YES, BUT WILL THERE BE A HUG? I suspect this will mean nothing to the great majority of our readers, but can we all agree that as a general rule, former law school deans who are now university presidents should not be going on The Colbert Report? This looks like a recipe for disaster (and for a sketch in this year's Law Revue).
ODESSA, TX, WORLD CAPITAL OF PRAGMATIC GENETIC MUTATION: You'd think the folks in the diner would notice all of the strangers wandering around practicing telekinesis, tesseraction, and what-not. Then again, maybe they were distracted by all of the exposition. A couple of non-spoilery thoughts, then a couple of spoilery ones in the comments: First, it's nice that the producers seem to be reacting to the strong negative feedback about Mohinder's voice-overs, because either they've toned them down or I've developed the power to fast-forward through them without noticing. Second, great translated Ando-Hiro semantic debate about whether "save the cheerleader, save the world" is first-second or if-then. James Kyson Lee isn't much of an actor, but he sure always looks like he's having fun.
RAUCOUS: I have been to more important Eagles games before, more tense games, more exciting games, and certainly better-played games.

But when was the last one that was this purely joyous? When was the last time they won one they weren't supposed to?

The first quarter was ass, and by the end of halftime, at least a third of the original crowd had said, enough with this cold and enough with this team. The rest of us, fools who stayed, basically decided, what the hell? why not, tonight? And we bought in for the night, moved our chips to the table and let our emotions do the talking for our frozen brains. And because we came into the game without all the tension of believing that the game could be won or that its outcome mattered, it was a purer, freer rooting experience than anything I can remember in a long time.

I don't know if Jeff Garcia has any more in him like that, but he had it tonight, and that'll be enough to keep me warm for quite some time. Right now, the Eagles would be a playoff team, and that's a mighty nice feeling.

Monday, December 4, 2006

WE DO LIVE HERE NOW: I had a big long Studio 60 post queued up, but it got lost in tech shennanigans. Given that of 6 seasons of TV he's been responsible for (4 seasons of TWW and 2 of SportsNight), Sorkin's produced 5 great Christmas episodes ("In Excelsis Deo," "Noel," "Bartlet For America," "Holy Night," and "Six Southern Gentlemen of Tennessee Tech") and 1 pretty good one ("The Reunion" and the quest for the perfect cheese grater), we shouldn't have worried about one finally hitting on pretty much every note. Hell, the cold open sketch was funnier than anything on SNL last week in concept, even if the little bit of News 60 we saw could have been improved with a "bear said ROAR!" joke. Maybe NBC saw this before picking up the entire season--this one makes that decision make almost complete sense.
WHERE'S THE BEEF? Memo to the editors of Giant: The word greatest usually means something along the lines of "highest in degree or quality." Thus when labeling an online feature "The 50 Greatest Commercials of the '80s" naturally the reader would expect to find a selection of '80s TV spots which the editors, after at least some consideration, deemed to be, well, "the greatest." Instead, what you seem to have assembled is "The First 50 Commercial of the '80s Our Interns Could Find on YouTube."

Sure there are some amusing spots in here (bravo for unearthing the Freedom Rock spot, which we actually owned on cassette back in that dark decade) and some, such as the Brooke Shields Calvin Klien ad, might actually make a true "greatest" list, but besides the aforementioned Wendy's spot, where are Apple's 1984 commercial, Reagan's Morning in America or Willie Horton? What about "It's got to be the shoes" and "Bo Knows"? Where is "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"? Hell, even Herb the Nerd deserves a mention.
AT LEAST IT WASN'T BARBARO: While I might have gone with the always-remarkable Roger Federer, Tiger Woods or Albert Pujols, or even fellow emerging star Vince Young, I see little wrong with Sports Illustrated's selection of Dwyane Wade as its 2006 Sportsman of the Year.
DO I LOOK LIKE I GIVE A DAMN? Some thoughts that have been percolating for a few days but on which I haven't had time to post individually:

  • Gilmore Girls: While this non-AS-P season has brought the clunk more often than one would like (Number of times we heard "I love you" under the Sherman-Palladino regime: zero. Number of times we've heard "I love you" under the Klum-stalker regime: decidedly more than zero.), I'd like to offer up a little shout-out to the new Louise-and-whatsername: Lucy-and-whatsername. I'm enjoying the addition of a couple of quirky Yalies to the quirky Stars Hollowites we've known all these years. Lucy, in particular, never fails to amuse me -- I laugh every time she calls out to "Boyfriend!" I fear that the return of Marty may doom the Lucy/Rory friendship, particularly given the all-too-realistic way in which Marty returned to Rory's life. (To wit: Boy likes girl. Girl isn't interested. Boy vanishes off face of planet. Boy and girl reencounter each other some time later. Boy deliberately ignores girl. Girl makes friendly overture to relieve tension. Boy lets bottled-up feelings loose in one overwhelming flood. Things end badly.)
  • Casino Royale: It is a testament to the fantasticness of this 007 franchise reboot that I am now the third ALOTT5MA contributor to post on the subject. I am a dedicated lifelong Bond fan, and as such was highly skeptical of Daniel Craig's prospects. Color me a convert -- loved him, loved the film. I was particularly impressed by the number of winks to earlier Bond flicks without a single note of camp: the various martini bits, Bond's reaction to his new dinner jacket, the film's last line, the swift fiery exit of the requisite agency vehicle after starting out the film with a Ford, and the repeated shout-out to Ursula Andress's egress from the water in Dr. No (which plainly showed why Craig -- or at least his torso -- was cast). It did take me a little while to get used to Craig's face in the role -- he has a tendency toward a perpetual determined lip curl that reminded me a bit of Tom Cruise's "I am now intensely running toward/away from something" look -- and then there were those couple clunky speeches on (a) the importance of stamping out terrorism for the bargain price of an additional $5 million buy-in and -- especially -- (b) the whole "you've stripped me bare" thing, the exact wording of which I have blocked out. But on the whole, I'm sold -- bring on Bond 22, and make sure that Daniel Craig is signed on for a good long while.
  • Hmph: Why oh why is CBS giving the post-Super Bowl slot to Criminal Minds? I mean, I get it and all -- this is a real chance for CBS to unseat Lost -- but how great would a one-hour HIMYM in all its unfettered goofy legen-Swarley-suit-upped-high-fived-pause-unpause-Sparkles-dary glory have been? And I bet they won't even let Mandy sing, the beasts.
THE KEY QUESTION: WILL THE FRIENDSHIPS LAST LONG AS THE MOUNTAINS STAND? Despite having seen Dirty Dancing at least six or seven times during the summer of 1987 alone, I am more than a little skeptical of the WE Network's reality show of the same name, which debuts Wednesday night. Setting aside the whole Cris "Dude, where's my h?" Judd thing, the concept has one likely insurmountable flaw. Eighteen female dancers will be taught by six male instructors, thereby all but ensuring that the whole enterprise will feel much more Temptation Island than Kellerman's.

I did, however, just notice one small redeeming factor: one of the six instructors de la danse obscène is none other than SYTYCD's Artem Chigvintsev. Still not Patrick Swayze, but getting closer. (Speaking of Artem: for those of you who are still watching this season's vastly improved The O.C., wasn't that Artem dancing with Julie Cooper-Nicol-Cooper-Roberts-Cooper at that club back a couple weeks ago?)
THERE IS SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH ME US: Early this morning I encountered a Tootsie Roll on the floor of the hallway in my office. My first thought was: "Should I eat that?"
YA-TA! Nice article in today's Times about Masi Oka from Heroes, though fact-checking failed in that they claim in the article that Milo Ventimgilia's character can fly. Apparently, Oka and Ventimiglia hang out quite a bit off-set, and Ventimiglia's on and off relationship with one of his former co-stars is now very much off.
YOU TASTE OF AMERICA: Is it just me, or do the television ads for the Talladega Nights DVD seem to be pitching it as the story of Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen), the heroic French racer who conquers NASCAR, with a small supporting role from Will Ferrell? My, the difference that a few months makes . . .

Sunday, December 3, 2006

CLUBBER ISCARIOT: Yo, Adrian! They're marketing the film Rocky Balboa to faith-based groups:
Who can forget Charlton Heston as Moses? That powerful screen image often clouds the real Moses—hesitant, often discouraged, and hardly a charismatic spokesperson for the Almighty! Ditto: Rocky Balboa. We can all relate — and so we need to hear from God about finishing well. Here’s an outline:

Here Am I: Send Aaron! Remind people that, initially, Moses was a reluctant leader with a feeble faith. Similarly, Rocky (now an AARP member!) is wondering if life is over. “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (Exodus 4:13)
More at
HELLO, PRETTY LADY: Poorly-structured legs! More disgusting food! Actual, emotionally resonant redemption arcs! Three teams get to finish the Race, including our first all-female duo, but there's a lot of tomatoes to be thrown first.
LET'S HEAR IT FOR MY BAND, SEXUAL CHOCOLATE: I am among those who will be pulling (sight yet-unseen) for Eddie Murphy to get Oscar recognition for his work as James "Thunder" Early in Dreamgirls, but man, can Murphy be harsh, as today's Times relates in a diss so cold it makes Ice Cube's "No Vaseline" (as NSFW as text comes) seem like child's play:
During a press conference in New York to promote “Coming to America,” Mr. Murphy was asked if he would ever work with [director John] Landis again. Without hesitation, he said: “Vic Morrow has a better chance of working with Landis than I do.”
Great Chris Rock quote in the article as well: “There would be no Chris Tucker, me, Martin Lawrence or any new young black comic today if Eddie hadn’t paved the way for us, especially in films. Without Eddie, then Chris, Martin and myself would have only have made as many movies in our career as Jude Law made the last three months. Peter Sellers got tons of credit for doing multiple characters, but that was just him doing him. Eddie is all those wacky family characters he portrays in ‘Coming to America’ and ‘The Nutty Professor’ pictures. Eddie should have got multiple Oscars for the multiple characters that he played in those movies alone.”
OH, TO BE A MOVIE STAR: The Apple Tree is a very strange musical. Really, it's more like three mini-musicals in a row, all involving a gorgeous woman, the man who loves her, and a narrator/tempter figure. The first act is based on Mark Twain's skewed version of the creation story, the second on The Lady Or The Tiger?, and the final on Passionella (a 60s Hollywood variation on Cinderella by Jules Feiffer). The original production was the stuff of legend, featuring a legendary performance from Barbara Harris, and Alan Alda as the "lover" character. Because of the demands of the leading female role (who's on-stage for 90% of the show and has to be a gorgeous soprano), it's never been revived until now, with Kristin Chenoweth trying to follow in Harris' footsteps after an acclaimed performance at Encores!, which previously gave us the Wonderful Town and Chicago revivals.

Mostly, it works. The first act is funny and surprisingly touching, the second act a decent diversion, and the third act (despite being seriously dated) has plenty of laughs and lets Kristin show off her voice. Brian D'Arcy James gets to redo much of the schtick he used during his brief run in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels as the "lover," particularly in the third act, where he plays the "cool guy," but Marc Kudisch is largely wasted (he has one big song as the snake in the First Act, sings briefly as a balladeer/narrator in Act II, and doesn't sing a note in the final act as the "Fairy Godmother"). This show is Kristin's, though, and be it attempting to play with a whip, explaining babies, or flaunting her assets in a slinky gold dress, she nails it all. Most touchingly of all, in her Playbill bio, she notes that her performance is "dedicated to the late John Spencer." Worth your time, especially if you get (as I did) a discount. Also, I suggest Goldstar Events as a source for discounts--had no problem picking up tickets at will call, and they have diverse offers, ranging from theatre to the Knicks.
SHE HAS GADGETS AND GIZMOS A'PLENTY; SHE HAS WHOSITS AND WHATSITS GALORE: So, as part of our pre-Hanukkah planning, we're trying to figure out what should be the second full-length Disney animated film we purchase for Lucy. She has already seen and loves The Little Mermaid, and she's familiar with all of the canonical Disney Princesses through the sing-a-long DVDs and, quite frankly, I think that it's imprinted in girls' DNA at this point.

What we'd prefer is something that's heavier on the female empowerment than it is on the need to be rescued or the "only finding a prince to love me will save me", and with a minimum of unnecessary peril. I'm thinking that Mulan or Beauty and the Beast might be the best way to go. Thoughts? Comments?
JAMES VAN DER BEEK, ON THE OTHER HAND, WAS SHUT OUT: The International Press Academy's (they're an offshoot of the HFPA, which gives out the Golden Globes) Satellite Award nominations are out, and there's a lot of huh in there:
  • 6 nominees for "Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama" including Joshua Jackson.
  • DiCaprio nominated for both Lead Actor (for Blood Diamond), and supporting actor (for Departed)
  • Heroes and Dexter nominated for "Best Drama," Lost omitted.
  • Perhaps the most bizarre group of "Best Lead Actress in a TV Drama" nominees ever (including Amanda Peet, Sarah Paulson, Emily Deschanel, and Kristen Bell). Studio 60 also gets nominations for Whitford and Perry as lead actor.
  • Amusingly, since the Satellites don't have a "variety" category, they've nominated Colbert and The Colbert Report as Best Actor in a Comedy and Best Comedy respectively, setting up an EvenStev(ph)en rematch.
  • One big yay is that though Lost was generally shut out, Michael Emerson got a much-deserved supporting actor nomination. Also, the picks of Grey's and Departed as best ensemble strike me as right on the money.