Friday, March 1, 2013

SO THIS IS IT, THIS IS IT: Bonnie Franklin, star of One Day at Time, has died. Yes, I'm probably only noting this because of the headline, but I can't think of a sitcom that has had a more lasting impact on my view of a given city. Whenever I think of Indianapolis -- to this day -- I think of that grungy apartment. My sister watched a lot of that show (and therefore I was stuck watching it) and I don't remember a single scene that was shot anywhere but that living room.
IF YOU'RE DR. JACQUES BAILLY, NO NEED TO CLICK ON THE LINK:  11 foodie words you may be mispronouncing.
WILL BEN STEIN MAKE AN APPEARANCE? Seth MacFarlane has already said that he won't come back, and Tina Fey has said she's not interested, so who'll host next year's Oscars?  Apparently, ABC is strongly pushing for Jimmy Kimmel, after vetoing a proposal that Lorne Michaels produce a Fallon-hosted show.  Frankly, this just seems like a lower-risk version of MacFarlane, without MacFarlane's open love for "old time Hollywood" and a little less misogyny, but YMMV.
ABE SIMPSON IS THE NEW HEAD OF PROGRAMMING: How bad is it for NBC?  So bad that the NBC affiliate in Cleveland opted to push the repeats of The Office and SVU and the new 1600 Penn last night and next week into late night.  In its place?  Reruns of Matlock films.

ETA:  The reason?  Allegedly, a response to the failure to include Griffith in the Oscars necrology. The ratings?  Even with last week's new episodes, and beating the Scandal/Jimmy Kimmel Live! repeats on ABC-Cleveland.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

STAY CALM, AND DON'T FLY OFF THE HANDLE, WHEN YOU HEAR THIS NEWS:  Next To Normal was a darn fine musical, so I'm intrigued that not only has the creative team fairly quietly been working on a new project that's about a woman who uses turning 40 as a cusp to radically reinvent her life.  My excitement is even greater with today's announcement that Idina Menzel will star, and it'll arrive on Broadway for the Spring 2014 Season.  This means that the Hugh Jackman/Stephen Schwartz Houdini now clearly has a fight on its hands.  (Interesting trivia?  Next To Normal won the Pulitzer and Best Original Score Tonys that year, while Billy Elliot won Best Musical and Book.  The only show from that season still running?  Rock of Ages.)
YOU ACT LIKE BUTTER WOULDN'T MELT IN YOUR MOUTH: One way I've moved on from Wire Wednesday Withdrawals is that for the past two months I've been rewatching The Sopranos, which HBO-Signature has been re-running an episode per-night at 8pm. There's a lot, obviously, one can say about all of it, and the Wire v. Sopranos question is one you should feel free to weigh in on in the comments; I'd rather not, and just be thankful that we've had both shows to enjoy.

We're towards the end of season five, now (the Year of the Two Tonys, plus "Long Term Parking"), and last night was "Unidentified Black Males". It's the one most memorable for Vito's surprise early morning appearance, but the best part may have been that never-ending hot summer night conversation between Finn and Meadow which followed. Wikiquote has a good chunk of dialogue, showing just how overwrought college kids can talk around their anxieties, and the combination of Meadow's willingness to repeat whatever academic theory she was last taught (see also the Billy Budd debate), plus her denial to others as to her family's true nature (see also her comments after Jackie Jr's funeral, and her whole existence) culminates in one of the five funniest lines in the series, when Finn expresses his horror over seeing Eugene Pontecorvo pummel Little Paulie Germani at the construction site. To which Meadow responds with just masterful bullshit:
You know you talk about these guys like it's an anthropology class. The truth is, they bring certain modes of conflict resolution from all the way back in the old country, from the poverty of the Mezzogiorno, where all higher authority was corrupt.
One added bonus of watching all the episodes like this, after having already seen the series? You know what to anticipate whenever anyone mentions eggs.
HALEN V. DYKE V. WILDER:  With Van Cliburn's passing yesterday, who now assumes the title of America's greatest Van?  (And can anyone conjure what a contemporary equivalent would be of what Cliburn achieved in Moscow in 1958?)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DAD! TOM CRUISE WON'T COME OUT OF THE CLOSET!  Vulture catalogs every celebrity ever mocked on South Park.
MONEY AIN'T GOT NO OWNERS, ONLY SPENDERS:  As our Wire Wednesday Withdrawal continues (still haven't figured out a Breaking Bad catch-up plan), you should feel free to share with us those quotes and concepts from The Wire which have now entered into your normal discourse.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

PREMIERING AT THE PAVILLION? Apparently, I may be the last to know that Steve Carell is currently filming his first (presumably) straight-out dramatic role, starring as John E. du Pont Jr. in Foxcatcher, with Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as the wrestling Schultz brothers. Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) is directing.
SWEET KAESONG BROWN: Dennis Rodman and three members of the Harlem Globetrotters are going to North Korea to run a youth basketball clinic. This is the most sensical thing I've read in months.

Monday, February 25, 2013

WELL, IT'S NOT A WORSE IDEA THAN THE JAY LENO SHOW:  The last successful variety show on prime time network TV is arguably In Living Color, with a succession of recent flops (Rosie Live!) but is Maya Rudolph the one to revive the format?
I DON'T PEACOCK THIS NEWS: How much worse can it get for NBC? Bill Carter:
When the official numbers are completed Thursday, NBC will finish this sweeps month not only far behind its regular network competitors, but also well behind the Spanish-language Univision. No broadcast network has ever before finished a television season sweeps month in fifth place....

Over all, the network’s ratings have fallen so far that no episode of any show on NBC in February came within one million viewers of a show on PBS: “Downton Abbey.” And forget approaching the numbers of a cable hit like AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”

BUT THE MUSIC'S SO HAPPY!  For those readers in the Delaware Valley, may I highly commend that you see the Narberth Community Theater's production of Urinetown, which is filled with symbolism and things like that. It did occasion some difficult conversations with Lucy afterwards about Thomas Malthus and Brechtian technique, but just because she's nine doesn't mean she shouldn't learn her way of life is unsustainable.

If you've never seen Urinetown, its Tony Awards performance is a good introduction and, below the fold, one of my favorite parts of the book, which because it's not in the soundtrack is a fragment I had forgotten:
IF I'M GOING TO MAKE A FAKE MOVIE, IT'S GOING TO BE A FAKE HIT:  Six different films win in the six major categories, and tonight's awards ceremony was otherwise distinguished by the high quality of the live singing performances and horrid misogyny of its host's attempts at humor.

As I wrote in October, I thought Argo was some pretty damn fun filmmaking, but flawed as history. I'm glad we're in an era, though, that Best Picture is allowed to go to a movie that's fun, or funny, and we're leagues away from the 1980s-1990s era of Best Picture too often going to Most Important Picture. True, the wins for The Artist and Argo may just be a different way for Hollywood to hail itself ... but that may be unavoidable. Now I've just got this urge to see Life of Pi while it's still on the big screen in 3D...