Saturday, September 29, 2012

BUT I CAN'T SEE YOU EVERY NIGHT:  The ALOTT5MA Unnecessary Remakes Desk reports that FNL/Parenthood executive producer Jason Katims will be attempting to adapt About A Boy into a single-camera comedy for NBC, but at least as far as Deadline relates the mom is now described as "kooky" and not "depressed and suicidal."

About a decade ago, Fox also started developing an adaptation, with Patrick Dempsey as the lead. Go ahead and cast your leads, but recognize that a commenter on the AV Club already said "David Schwimmer."

Friday, September 28, 2012

MENS SANA IN CORPORE SANO: The University of Chicago is dropping its swim test for undergraduates, leaving Bryn Mawr, Columbia, Cornell, MIT, and Washington and Lee among the few schools so requiring. (Chicago's test required 100 yards of swimming, no time limit.)
I WILL BE HERE WHEN YOU ARE READY TO ROLL WITH THE CHANGES: For those readers having trouble viewing comments while using Internet Explorer, click here for some help.

added question: I now can add a "Recent Comments" widget somewhere in our sidebar column. Would you like to see one, and if so, where?
IN A JUST WORLD, HE LIGHTS UP THAT SCULPTURE:  Two years ago tomorrow, Marsha noted the "scary and horrifyingly depressing" story of the Cubs' Adam Greenberg, beaned in the head in his only MLB plate appearance on a 92 mph fastball from the Marlins' Valerio de los Santos, causing a severe concussion which forced the end of his baseball dreams without logging a single official at-bat.

Until now. The Marlins have signed him to a one-day contract effective the penultimate day of this season, allowing Greenberg one more chance to get that at-bat (don't walk!), and his salary will be donated to Chris Nowinski's Sports Legacy Institute to further its research into the effects of chronic brain trauma in sports.
"WHEN ARE THE OLD COMMENTS COMING BACK?" IS NOT ELIGIBLE:  Today, the last weekday in September, is National Ask A Stupid Question Day, designed to encourage more children to participate in class.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

MY JOB AS SAM MALONE WAS TO LET THE AUDIENCE IN, TO LOVE MY BAR FULL OF PEOPLE:  Awesome GQ oral history of Cheers, on the thirtieth anniversary of its debut.  Find out which three actresses Kirstie Alley beat out for her role, a different kind of Wade Boggs story, and all kinds of smart stuff on what made the show work.
FOURTH WALL ISSUES: TV is back (though, of course it never really went away), and from what little we've seen yet, it's the same as ever (New Girl: funny P&R: funny and also loveable; HIMYM: not funny and not loveable; something new and shiny (here, Mindy Project): could go either way).  The most interesting thing to happen so far, though, was on last night's Modern Family

Allow me a digression.  In one of Henri Toulouse-Lautrec's most famous paintings, a barmaid looks directly at the viewer.  There is a mirror behind her, and in the mirror you can see a customer speaking to her, but the viewer (or painter) doesn't appear.  The effect is jarring, as if you were invisible in your own bathroom mirror while brushing your teeth. 

Modern Family is a mockumentary.  Its characters sit on couches or chairs and speak directly to the camera about things that just happened or are about to happen on-screen.  The show uses furtive glances at the camera to convey embarassment or judgment.  The camera is usually hand-held except in talking-head scenes; sometimes it struggles to keep up with the characters in scenes with a lot of action. 

Yet in last night's MF, the camera did something that (to my knowledge) it had not done before.  In the middle of a Jay-Gloria embrace, the camera zoomed in, then pulled back to an entirely different scene a few months later.  Though it's nothing we haven't seen in other shows, it was odd here because it traded the ersatz verite mockumentary style for a more traditional narrative style.  It felt like that Toulouse-Lautrec painting to me -- an acknowledgement that the realism of the medium is itself an illusion.  I could be wrong, but I also think the lighting style changed and the film itself got warmer (or maybe the focus got softer).  I don't know enough to speak to the technical changes.  In any event, the feeling was similar to the part in The Secret Garden when the characters go from black and white to full, saturated color.  I don't know whether they'll stick with this or not, and whether it will feel cheap later, but it was a very effective way to convey the emotion of a big family moment. 

Incidentally, The Office tried a similar breaking of format last week, when Jim and Pam spoke directly to the film crew.  It was the second such break (after Michael's farewell scene), and it was jarring (and meant to be jarring).  Since the payoff is supposed to come at the end of the season, rather than the beginning, it's hard to say whether it worked.  But I'm all for shows trying different things. 
RUF TREATMENT: For Phillies fans, this September's not quite like the last five, but the team's treatment of rookie Darin Ruf upon hitting his first MLB home run was pretty damn special. [Related: Jayson Werth vs. Phillie Phanatic et al.]

To the fans of the Tigers, White Sox, and others, enjoy this last week: those of us on the outside looking in are jealous.
RITA'S RAINBOW RIBBON:  We would not be linking to but for its coverage of a dispute between Latino groups and the Kennedy Center President which has now turned ugly, with the latter having requested of the former that he perform an anatomically impossible act after having sent a letter to the President and others calling for changes in the Honors selection process, given that only two Hispanics have been chosen among the 170+ honorees since 1978. (Among those weighing in is former fictional President/Justice/Congressman/Imperial Senator Jimmy Smits.)

For potential inductees, they've suggested Rita Moreno, Joan Baez, Carlos Santana, Ruben Blades, Julio Iglesias, Gloria Estefan and Edward James Olmos for future recognition.
YOU THINK I HAVE TIME TO ASK A MAN WHY HE GIVING ME MONEY?  The parallelism's a bit explicit in The Wire's season four episode "Soft Eyes," (Guardian contains spoilers, so Goodman) as Sepinwall notes: Herc and Carcetti both turning to Valchek for help on how to deal with Mayor Royce's weaknesses; Bubs and Cutty's boss both seeking to expand to more territory; Namond and Clay Davis both happy to accept someone else's ill-gotten money; and both Marlo and Cutty taking an interest in Michael, whose stare and fists suggest a toughness which both might exploit. And, of course, it ends with an entire city's worth of characters watching, and then not watching, a mayoral debate in a campaign largely deemed over.  (Odd.)

Meanwhile, Cutty learns that there's nothing sexier than a man with a job, with Avon Barksdale's legacy surrounding him, and Cool Lester Smooth's pulling such a McNulty move that Rawls has to confirm to Burrell that it wasn't McNulty pulling it.

Returning this week: Cool Lester Smooth's brash tweedy impertinence, Bubs' drug addiction, and Wee-Bey's love of his fish.

Gone for the first time: Jimmy McNulty, are you off being happy and domestic?

Debuts: Sen. Clay Davis' marathon-length expression of exasperation. Golly!  Also, car thief Donut, to whom Isaac has suggested we pay attention.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AFTER CHANGES WE ARE MORE OR LESS THE SAME:  I'm in the process of installing Disqus as our new comments system.  Why Disqus, and not Blogger?  Because I like "likes," and I think it's a better platform.  If I'm wrong, I will be the Anti-Tom Petty of backing down.

All existing comments are being imported into the system, but it make take 24 hours.

Please let me know how this is working out for you, in the Comments, or if necessary shoot me an email.

update!  To edit the name which is displayed with your comments, go to your Disqus account settings to Profile, and change your Full Name to the one under which you'd like to post.

second update: To see older comments during the transition, check our mobile site.
WHERE'S "MY OPINIONATION?" I haven't watched Guys With Kids, nor am I likely to after the scathing reviews, but the cast, along with Executive Producer Jimmy Fallon gave a history of comedy theme songs in medley form on Late Night last night that is worth a few moments.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

"I'M A BEAUTIFUL PERSON AND YOU SHOULDN'T MESS WITH ME":  Whitney Kropp, 16, of West Branch, Michigan, is awesome.
AND NEXT, WE'RE GOING DIRECTLY TO REGIONAL SECTIONALS: In case you hadn't heard, in response to buzzy test screenings (and a comedy-light competition in theatres), Paramount is releasing a cappella comedy Pitch Perfect this weekend in a platform release, and unsurprisingly, there's been some discussion of doing ALOTT5MA group screenings, at least in NYC, with Sunday afternoon/early evening being the likely time--sadly, it's only showing three places--Times Square, Lincoln Square, and in the East Village.  Take to the comments to organize, folks.
INCONCIEVABLE!  Rob Reiner's film of The Princess Bride turns 25 today.  It was nominated for only one Oscar (Best Original Song for "Storybook Love," which it lost to "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life"), in a year where the awards were dominated by The Last Emperor and Moonstruck, with ALOTT5MA Fave Broadcast News racking up a bunch of nominations but nary a win.  Heck, Princess Bride couldn't even make it into the adapted screenplay race.  Share your favorite quotes, moments, and bits, but be nice to each other, or I'll have to send in the Brute Squad.
IMPLACABILITY:  Academic writing expert Helen Sword takes to the (digital) pages of the NYT to decry the popularity of what she deems "zombie nouns":
Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings:

Monday, September 24, 2012

MAY I HAVE THE ENTYMOLOGY, PLEASE?  So-called "zombie bees" have been spotted in Washington state:
"I joke with my kids that the zombie apocalypse is starting at my house," said novice beekeeper [Mark Hohn]. The dead and dying honeybees from Hohn's 1.25-acre spread in Kent are the first in Washington confirmed to be infected by a parasitic fly that causes the bees to lurch around erratically before dropping dead....

A PROGRAMMING NOTE:  Out of respect for Maurice Levy, Jay Landsman, Rhonda Pearlman, and all our readers who share their faith, Wire Wednesday will be on Thursday this week. We'll be at Season 4, episode 2: "Soft Eyes."
ALOTT5MA UPDATE DESK: Last year, I asked whether the American Idol Experience at Disney had updated its judges to take into account changes in the judging panel.  At least as of last Thursday, the panel I saw consisted of surprisingly substantive skinny black man, pretty but mostly incoherent blonde woman, and bearded guy who delivered one-liner insults ("You say you're a stay at home mom?  Stay at home, mom!"), so it seems they've stuck with original recipe panel.  I saw the first show on a slow day, so we only had two competitors, and the very pretty brunette who haltingly stumbled her way through "Bubbly" beat the less attractive woman who delivered a decent rendition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot."  I did not opt to audition.
LET US STRIVE ON TO FINISH THE WORK WE ARE IN: Sight mostly-unseen, both Vulture and Gold Derby are already predicting the Academy Awards field.  Meanwhile, the AV Club recalls the Ghosts of Oscar-bait Past, a topic we've discussed before.
PAGING SCOTT TENORMAN: You can now buy salt which has been (allegedly) extracted from human tears.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

WITHOUT RON SWANSON, YOUR AWARDS SHOW IS INVALID: We're not covering it live for the Emmys, but we need a thread where folks can express their joy or outrage over yet another Modern Family sweep in the making and other events of the night.
EEP, OPP, ORK, AH-AH:  Just seven months after John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth from space, The Jetsons debuted on ABC, fifty years ago today. It was the network's first program broadcast in color (The Flintstones was produced in color, but broadcast in b/w for the first two seasons), and its impact goes well beyond its mere twenty-four episodes. The Smithsonian's Matt Novak explains:
Thanks to my Google Alerts for words and phrases like Jetsons, Minority Report, utopia, dystopia, Blade Runner, Star Trek, apocalypse and a host of others, I’ve been monitoring the way that we talk about the future for years. And no point of reference has been more popular and varied as a symbol of tomorrowism than “The Jetsons.”

“The Jetsons” was the distillation of every Space Age promise Americans could muster. People point to “The Jetsons” as the golden age of American futurism because (technologically, at least) it had everything our hearts could desire: jetpacks, flying cars, robot maids, moving sidewalks. But the creators of “The Jetsons” weren’t the first to dream up these futuristic inventions. Virtually nothing presented in the show was a new idea in 1962, but what “The Jetsons” did do successfully was condense and package those inventions into entertaining 25-minute blocks for impressionable, media-hungry kids to consume.
But as Novak explains, because almost all those viewers in 1962-63 saw the show in black and white, the future didn't look as bright as it did to those of us who caught the show in the 1970s/80s in syndicated reruns, which is why it may have only lasted one season, yet made such an impact on the viewers who followed.