Friday, November 23, 2012

HELL OF A PRICE TO PAY, ISN'T IT? "I Dream of Jeannie" made him famous, "Dallas" made him an icon just slightly before my time to be aware of why "Why shot J.R.?" mattered so much to the grownups, but I think Larry Hagman may have saved his best for towards the end, because I'll be damned if I've seen five minutes of better screen work than his Gov. Freddie Picker in Primary Colors. Hagman's Picker so clearly carried the weight of his personal history, of bad decisions he thought he had escaped, and would have escaped, had the lure of politics not roped him in one more time. His lament, in that penultimate scene, just floors me every time:
Fucking cocaine. I was really so successful in everything did ... business, politics. I could handle anything ... except cocaine. But I didn't know that because of cocaine. That's what fucked up my marriage, not anything else. I did go to bed with Renzo once or twice. It was a coke thing. I could do anything, so I did that, too. I'm seeing a really nice woman now. I suppose I have to tell her. Hell of a price to pay, isn't it?
Hagman passed away today at the age of 81, in Dallas.  Two years ago, the Austin Film Society prepared this clip reel, and I think you'll enjoy it.
WHEN IN DOUBT, BLAME THE PHILADELPHIA POLICE:  Why is today called Black Friday? (Bonus! What about Black Monday, Black Tuesday, etc?)
SO IF YOU BELIEVE IN FATHER CHRISTMAS, CHILDREN, LIKE YOUR UNCLE BILLY DOES, THEN BUY THIS FESTERING TURD OF A RECORD: Ladbrokes has posted odds for this year's UK Christmas #1 single, this year topped not by the X-Factor winner but by a charity cover of "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by Sir Paul, Robbie Williams, Sporty Spice, Holly Johnson, and others being released of December 17 for the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death during an FA Cup semi-final match with Nottingham Forest. (An independent inquiry this year revealed official efforts to shift the blame to the victims.)

You can still get 6/1 odds on One Direction, as if Simon Cowell weren't rich enough already.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

AS GOD AS MY WITNESS:  An oral history of the WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Turkeys Away." Yes, you can find the video online.
THEY'RE NOT LEARNING FOR OUR WORLD; THEY'RE LEARNING FOR THEIRS:  Leave it to The Wire to go even bleaker as we turn the corner towards the end of season four with this week's installment, "Misgivings," in which one quiet reaction from Chris Partlow speaks volumes about shared pain.

So many things to talk about this week -- how the best work of Carver and Bunny can get horrifically undermined by Namond's mom; how Randy's effort to do the right thing (in the right way) and Michael's to do the right thing (the wrong way) may doom them both; how Marlo takes no chances; how Officer Walker may be the worst of them all, because Donut, while pathological, is largely harmless. But mostly it's about Chris Partlow, who understands exactly what Michael's complaint is, and whose brutal resolution of it makes clear how much he, too, must have suffered at one point. When you've appalled Snoop ... you know something else is going on.
THE THERMOPYLAE, THE MASADA, THE FORT MCHENRY OF QUIET:  Tim Kreider writes in the NYT about the battles it takes to keep Amtrak's Quiet Car quiet.

[He cites therein the work of philosopher Aaron James, whose new book Assholes: A Theory defines the term in this manner: "A person counts as an asshole when, and only when, he systematically allows himself to enjoy special advantages in interpersonal relations out of an entrenched sense of entitlement that immunizes him against the complaints of other people."]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NO WAY:  Mike Myers has completed writing a script for Wayne's World 3, which features "Wayne and Garth coping with the new era of music, transitioning from access cable to streaming internet (ala Youtube) and Wayne balancing his marriage to Cassandra." Myers is 49, Dana Carvey is 57, and the last time a Wayne's World film was released Justin Bieber was still in utero. Can we just say party off already?
KUDOS FOR THE 'F,' BUT THE APOSTROPHE'S ABSENCE IS DISTURBING:  The AA baseball affiliate in Reading, PA, has dropped its "R-Phils" moniker to become the Reading Fightin Phils (or just "Fightins"), with a pugnacious 1950-style ostrich as its new mascot. Why an ostrich? The Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, of course.
YOU THINK YOU'RE THE CLEVER LITTLE GIRL WHO KNOWS SOMETHING. THERE'S SO MUCH YOU DON'T KNOW, SO MUCH. WHAT DO YOU KNOW, REALLY? YOU'RE JUST AN ORDINARY LITTLE GIRL, LIVING IN AN ORDINARY LITTLE TOWN: Criticwire's weekly survey asked critics to name their favorite underrated Hitchcock film, with Frenzy, The Trouble With Harry and Shadow of a Doubt among those with multiple nods.

Monday, November 19, 2012

LIKE, EVER:  An Eagles season this depressing deserves a swiftian musical response: "We Are Never, Ever Gonna Win With Andy."

[I see nothing wrong with Reid finishing the season; he has earned the right to a dignified departure. But it's over.]
FOR PRACTICAL PURPOSES, EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT A LOBSTER IS:  Publishers Weekly selects the top ten essays of the post-war era.
LET THEM ENTERTAIN YOU:  As we near the end of the year, it's time to begin speculating about EW's Entertainer of the Year.  My thoughts for the frontrunners:
  • Joss Whedon and the cast of The Avengers--It's the #1 movie of the year by a big margin thus far, and the only thing I'm seeing the rest of the year that has a shot at topping it is The Hobbit, which I'm not convinced isn't going to disappoint commercially.
  • Jennifer Lawrence--Star and face of The Hunger Games (the #3 movie of the year thus far), and a likely Oscar nominee for Silver Linings Playbook.  She's easily going to be on the Top 10 list, but #1?  I doubt it.
  • Twilight/Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson--This is the easy choice to sell magazines, and Stewart has been the female lead in two $150M+ grossers this year, not an easy feat.
  • Channing Tatum--Lead in 3 $100M+ grossers this year, covering comedy and drama, and will sell magazines.
  • Seth MacFarlane--TV empire, what will almost certainly remain the highest-grossing comedy of the year, and hosting next year's Oscars?  Again, sounds like a Top 10 choice, but I'm not convinced #1.
  • E.L. James/50 Shades of Grey--Would be only second writer to be so recognized, but in terms of cultural force, there's a darn good case to be made.  But would the cover sell?
  • Taylor Swift--Would be the first ever repeat winner, but she's the logical choice for music this year if they want to go in that direction.
  • The cast of the NCIS Franchise--TV's top scripted show by a country mile, with a third spinoff coming later this year. (Also possible in a similar vein?  The cast of The Big Bang Theory.) 
Anything else I'm missing?