Saturday, July 31, 2010

"THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ONE OF THE THINGS YOU DO THIS SUMMER IF YOU'RE A LESBIAN IN PHILLY": Yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer and today's NYT visit Wednesday's Lilith Fair stop across the river in Camden, which drew all of 4,203 paying ticketgoers to a venue which accommodates 25,000.

But for all the talk of The State Of The Concert Industry which the articles do, my brother asks a more pertinent question: just how many people were supposed to attend a bill featuring Sarah McLachlan, The Other Two Dixie Chicks, Sara Bareillies and former ADA Claire Kincaid?
GEO-WAIT FOR IT-GRAPHY: One thing we didn't note out of press tour is a bunch of spoilery stuff about the HIMYM crew's plans for next year (basically, they admit last year was "too sitcom-y" and are pledging to find their way back this season) but what I want to talk about is their plans to shoot (for the first time) on location in New York. HIMYM, even though it's always been shot in L.A., manages to (mostly) feel New York-ish. Many other New York-set shows that film in L.A. miss that mark completely (I'm looking at you, Friends), while some do hit the mark (both Seinfeld and Sports Night were New York-ish, even though they shot entirely in LA). What other shows/movies hit the mark or miss it completely? Does Good Wife feel Chicago-y even though it films in NYC? How badly does Toronto double for DC on Covert Affairs?

Friday, July 30, 2010

REVERSE COWGIRL CURTIS: You know that whole Chris Rock routine about how a father's primary obligation in life is to keep his daughter "off the pole"? Laurence Fishburne has, apparently, more than failed in that regard, as his 19-year-old daughter Montana plans to make her film debut via an explicit pornography production with "Brian Pumper". Really, Montana, I don't know that I'd piss off a father who has portrayed Ike Turner.

True, there's a bit of continuity to this -- because I don't know what kind of rational parent would have let a fourteen-year-old Laurence Fishburne head off to the Philippines with Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper for the year-plus Apocalypse Now shoot. I'm willing to accept, however, that this is a bit worse.
THIS TONER IS DIAMONDS: Lovers of Chuck and The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, rejoice: I'm On a Morgan. Via Zach Levi.
EXPLAIN IT TO ME LIKE I'M A FOUR-YEAR OLD: The ABA Journal wants your vote on its list of The 25 Greatest Fictional Lawyers Who Are Not Atticus Finch. [Among those not even on the Also Receiving Consideration list: Lionel Hutz, Elle Woods, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer and Dan Fielding.]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

IS HE GOING TO THE SPECIAL HELL? A news anchor is....distracted...after Christina Hendricks notes that she was in the bath when she learned of her Emmy nomination.
ROY STORY 2: Halladay, Oswalt ... go ahead, name your favorite Roys in history and culture. I'll start it with "Orbison".
YEP, I'M GONE: Ellen DeGeneres has quit American Idol; new judges (2? 3? 4?) to be announced on Monday. This was a failed experiment, and I'm glad it's over. Sepinwall agrees.

ETA from Matt: Nikki Finke reports that Jennifer Lopez will replace Ellen (and Kara?) and that while they wanted Elton John to replace Simon Cowell, they couldn't work it out, and an offer may be out to Steven Tyler to fill that seat.
IN A WORLD WHERE THE SUN SETS AND RISES EVERY TWO SECONDS AND THERE IS NO ELECTRICITY, ONE MAN IS IRRITATED: Dear trailer editors: Do you have abnormally atrophied eyelid muscles that make you blink in slow motion? The extended Comic Con Thor trailer (warning: takes forever to load and almost as long to play) is ridiculous. There are ways to cut film other than fade-to-black/hold-black/fade-up.

Incidentally, what can we do about making vikings the new sparkly vampires? We have Thor and Eric's backstory on True Blood. All we need now is a good high school viking romance.
SOME DANCE TO REMEMBER; SOME DANCE TO FORGET: If the dancing on last night's SYTYCD was not bad, neither was it memorable, an effect compounded by the fact that fast-forwarding all of the solos and almost all of the judges' comments (I caught Shankman's bleeped-on-the-west-coast f-bomb and a handful of Nazi Barbie) allowed me to watch a two-hour show in about 30 minutes. So I don't think I can go dancer by dancer. I will say, though:
  • Two dances featuring homeless people -- the nice (best of the night, for me) Ade-Billy piece, and the cha-cha with Anya dressed up as a crazy meth hooker with stringy bleached hair, bluish skin, clownish red lipstick, and no pants.
  • A surfeit of Broadway or Broadwayish dances (with a lot of my least favorite Broadway move, people chasing each other with long steps and big swinging arms) plus a bunch of pieces with a prop and a hyperliteral storyline (what, are they letting Tabitha and Napoleon choreograph contemporary now?) plus a slow hip-hop to Otis Redding (who I love, but hip hop?) with no footwork means that the show really didn't want my attention this week.
  • Despite its Broadwayishness, I liked AdeChike in his jazz dance. His upper body is too tense, but his movement otherwise seemed very retro and very appropriate for the latin jazz music.
  • Jose still terrible, Lauren still coldly proficient, Robert still almost dropping Kathryn. Why does Robert hate Kathryn? Why does the show keep cruelly delivering her to him? We're two episodes away from the dance where he ties her to the train tracks and twirls his waxed mustache.
  • The more Mia Michaels talks, the more she spends the goodwill she built up on the first several seasons of this show.
JUST WHEN YOU THINK "JORTS" IS DONE: Somehow, until reading today's NYT review of the newly opened Forever 21 flagship in Times Square (seriously, we lost the Virgin Megastore for this?) I was somehow unaware of the concept of "jeggings," or, more disturbingly, the concept that they are available for men.
FLANNEL SHIRTS, SUSPENDERS ON TOP: TPE gets credit for locating this video tribute to Pennsylvania Guys.

Related: WaPo today on the latest in Jay-Z metropolitan parody -- the Welsh "Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind)."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

IT'S NOT JUST ELVIS AND NIXON: We don't normally link to Talking Points Memo around here, but when they do a slideshow of politicians' often-awkward encounters with musicians, we feel obligated to do so. Michael Jackson staring at Ronald Reagan! "Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and James Brown at the 90th birthday party for Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC)!" Paul Simon (in a very odd leather ensemble) chatting with Harry Reid! Salt-N-Pepa, Michael Bolton, and Jerry Nadler!
YET, NO MENTION OF ENDING BEER SALES AT THE 7th INNING: A surprisingly thoughtful list of the 50 worst ideas in sport (I especially like the rationale for No. 1: The Color Barrier, No. 17: Leaving Travis Henry Alone at the Team Hotel, and for including my favorite photograph in all of sports history). A slideshow, I'm afraid.
WAIT, WAIT, I NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO LOVE YA*: Spacewoman and I just finished the second season of Breaking Bad on DVD, and now we're going to have to wait, probably until a week or a few days before the fourth season premieres on AMC, to get the DVDs for Season 3. That got me thinking about the curious alchemy of TV season DVD release dates.

As a viewer, it seems that the best time to release a full-season DVD is long enough before the start of the next season premieres that a person can get completely caught up and catch the new season in real time. For a number of shows, however, that's not the model. Shows like Weeds, Chuck, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men, among surely others, seem to hit the market on DVD as part of the promotional crescendo for the following broadcast season, so if a person wanted to catch up, he or she would have to cram a whole season into just a week or less in front of the TV. Marathons are only fun if you want to run them. I am sure that in making this complaint, I am thinking too much like a viewer and not enough like a company with a financial interest in the show. But I'm not exactly sure what I'm missing.

Who has an incentive to do this? I understand the value of using the DVD release to create synergistic marketing. Promotions for the DVD tend to remind people of the broadcast season and vice-versa, and the effectiveness of this synergy is probably greater the higher the percentage of DVD buyers are obsessive rewatchers. But if a network wants to grow the audience for its product, one would think that the countervailing interest -- allowing people to get up to speed so that they can begin watching the broadcast version -- would trump the cross-promotional benefit.

Networks (or their broadcast executives), of course, may not make the DVD release-date decisions. I don't know for sure, but I imagine that the production and distribution companies would have some role in that decision. Those companies, superficially, might have an interest in withholding the DVDs long enough to prevent viewership of the broadcast season, thus ensuring the purchase of another season's worth of DVDs the following year. Except that I think that's wrong -- to the extent that the licensing fees for the broadcast rights fund the production itself, hindering broadcast viewership seems like shooting oneself in the foot. And DVD producer/distributors might even benefit from increased popularity of the broadcast version. Plus, if there really were competing incentives, one would expect that the broadcast partner would write some deadlines for DVD release dates into the broadcast licensing contract (just as networks write earliest-allowable DVD release dates into those contracts, so that the DVDs don't compete with the broadcast versions of the same shows). And that's not to mention the numerous instances in which the broadcaster is a partner in the production of the DVDs.

So who is it, exactly, who benefits from making me wait until -- what, May 2011? -- to watch what everybody says is an intense and brilliant season?

*Yes, that's a White Lion tag. So?
STAN FREBERG PRESENTS TRUE BLOOD: Bill! Sookeh! Bill! Sookeh! Bill! Sookeh! Bill! Sookeh! Bill! Sookeh! (Insert gratuitous nudity here.) Bill! Sookeh! Bill! Sookeh! (Repeat ad infinitum.)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A FLAVOR SAVER AND MORE: On a slow summer day, we are not above throwing up a blog post just so people can discuss the attractiveness and future of Jon Stewart's new beard.

Monday, July 26, 2010

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MR. ELTON JOHN? Nigel Lythgoe is apparently returning to helm American Idol, and if so may junk all the existing judges in favor of folks like Justin Timberlake, Chris Isaak, Harry Connick Jr. and, yes, the gentleman in the title of this post.

Well, it's at least a better idea than the new Bieber Rule, insofar as changing the judges may bring back more adult viewer-voters, and end the dominance of the tween power-dialers. Hmm.
SO WELL-BUILT WE CAN'T SHOW YOU THE SECOND LEVEL: Do we really not have a Mad Men thread yet? The first episodes of this show's seasons tend to be stage-setters, all prologue. This was unusual, in that it was an episode with a beginning, a middle, and a very satisfying end, with the title of this post as a through-line. And Pete's comment about hiring actresses was maybe the funniest one-liner of the entire series (especially with the delivery), making even Roger's off-color matchmaking pale in comparison.

Anyway, the thread is open.
AT LEAST THE SECOND ONE GAVE ZACH LEVI A SUMMER JOB: Based on a plethora of recent trademark applications, it appears that the next part of the Alvin and the Chipmunks saga will not merely be subtitled "3-D," but will be called "The 3dquel." I shudder for America. (I'm also still coping with the concept of Scre4m, though I will go see that one, since the first two Scream movies are excellent and some of the new cast additions--Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Mary McDonnell--are interesting.)
ADVANCE AUSTRALIA (NOT UN)FAIR: Five men have discovered the greatest loophole in Australian sport and declared themselves the representatives of Australia's previously non-existent dodgeball association. They play in the world's championship next month in Las Vegas.
GATHERING OF GRUNTS AND GREENS: Some Guy tries to list the 40 Best R.E.M. songs. No talk of circadian rhythm, wrecking all things virtuous and true, and I think Monty got a raw deal from this ranking.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

IT'S META-META-META-FICTION: I know this is probably attempting to provide excessive analysis of Entourage and the level of reality/fiction on which the show plays, but did anyone notice that last week, Vince encounters Randall Wallace and states that he can't see the upcoming film Secretariat, a film in which Entourage co-star Kevin Connolly apparently has a substantial role (5th billing on the poster). So, do Kevin Connolly as actor and Eric Murphy as character co-exist, or is the Secretariat existing within Entourage one where someone other than Kevin Connolly plays that role? It almost makes you find Entourage something more than utterly disposable.
A SALT AND BATTERY: I wanted to follow up on our discussion of Angelina Jolie's presence and how it affects whether you'll see a movie with a (spoiler-free) discussion of Salt. As you can tell from the trailers and ads, crucial to Salt working at all is at least some sense of doubt as to where Salt's loyalties lie--if the actress reads too pure or too villainous, we know the answer to the movie's central question early on. Jolie is unique among female stars in that she can carry this off--can you buy uncertain loyalties of someone like a Jennifer Garner, Cameron Diaz, or Drew Barrymore? (Scarlett Johansson might be able to sell it.)

Of course, much ink has been spilled over how Jolie took over the lead in Salt when Tom Cruise turned it down, but I haven't seen anyone really talk about how Salt and Knight and Day are really mirror images of one another. Both depend, to a large extent, on our uncertainty about how we feel about the leading performers off-screen to inform our judgment of their on-screen characters. Is Roy Miller a brilliant secret agent forced to go rogue by circumstances beyond his control, or a guy who's experienced a violent break with reality? Is Salt loyal or a Russian spy? We can't answer those questions up front because of our feelings about the leads. Neither film entirely works, and the two films take dramatically different directions from that premise (one goes for a more comic direction and the other takes things all-too-seriously), but to the extent they work, they do so because of our mistrust of the leading performer, and that's a rarity indeed.