Archive for August, 2006

Double your pleasure

I really wasn't expecting to watch Celebrity Duets.  Really.

But, all of a sudden, when I realized it was on I suddenly felt a need to watch it as if it were the Jake Gyllenhaal Standing There With No Shirt On Show.  And, I have to admit, despite my initial reservations and low expectations, Celebrity Duets delivered.

Here's the setup: we have the usual crop of has-beens (Lea Thompson, Cheech Marin) and never-really-weres (wrestling star Chris Jericho), plus a crop of musical legends with a lot of time on their hands (Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson).  Last night, each star performed twice with different professionals in front of three judges. 

The judges?  Smiling mormon Marie Osmond, music producer David Foster and (wait for it… wait for it…) the extraterrestrial Little Richard.

Now, let me just say this: Little Richard is going to be a fucking PHENOMENON.  He's the show's Paula Abdul, only even less coherent.  He's a mullet-wearing, bedazzled version of Paula with an even more dizzying array of pills.  He managed to keep it together for about half of the show's 2-hour season premiere, but after the one hour mark he just couldn't keep up and started scatting his criticism ("I was thinking…  child… woooooooo!…  you were just… mmmhmmm…. wooooooo!").

The singing on the show ranged from passable to somewhat ghastly, with the athletes Jericho and gymnast Carly Patterson bringing up the rear.  Jericho's initial country ballad was bad news from note one with his soft and off-key muttering, but then tried to make up for it by running around and jumping ADD-style while Peter Frampton jammed along on the guitar.  It wasn't enough to save him and he was the first star eliminated.

Smokey Robinson and Hal Sparks had a weirdly homoerotic moment on their duet, both of them clad in white tuxes.  I realize the FOX network is a bit more open with their programming, but I was still surprised to see what looked to be a burgeoning May-December interracial gay love affair on primetime.  (And speaking of Smokey, he was freaking me the hell out last night.  He has this look in his eyes like he's either petrified or just about to die.)

The early frontrunners appear to be Queer Eye's Jai Rodriguez (who has a bit of an unfair advantage, seeing as how before he was QE's scenery chewer he also starred in Rent) and Xena's Lucy Lawless.

Finally, watch this clip of Jai performing "Say My Name" with Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams.  For one, it show's how far we've come in forty years from not showing Elvis from the hips down on TV to having a Puerto Rican gay man dry humping an African American Woman and shouting "Say My Name" over and over.   But also, this performance was after Little Richard lost it, so you get a taste of his incoherence.

August 30th, 2006

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Yeah, I watched it

Despite my earlier mocking of the concept, I netflixed the pilot of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. I just couldn't wait. And I have to say, it was totally worth it. I loved it, and I think you will, too.

Obviously I love television, and it's a show for people who really care about TV. Smart people. Which, you know, we all are, of course.

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Practically the only available photo. Hi, Matthew Perry. Hi, Back of Bradley Whitford's Head.

Bradley Whitford plays a variation on Josh again, only this time he has a drug problem (because it would've been too obvious to give the Matthew Perry character a drug problem) and his name is Danny. The actor who played Danny Concannon (Tim Busfield, who I will always and forevermore refer to as "Danny") now plays a character named Cal. Matthew Perry's character's name is Matt. It's not as confusing as I just made it sound, but does suggest that Aaron Sorkin might need to invest in this.

They all work on an idealistic version of Saturday Night Live in LA, along with the tutor from Deadwood, frickin' adorable Nate Corddry, and DL Hughley, and they're bossed around by much-prettier-in-person- (yeah-I've-totally-seen-her-in-person) Amanda Peet and way-too-good-at-playing-the-asshole Steven Weber. There are quips and one-ups-manship and anxious chatter galore. People boss each other around and go for smoke breaks and confess their secrets to their best friends. Then they talk about art and commerce and censorship and patriotism. Then they insult each other some more. It's awesome.

My one concern is about the show-within-a-show. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford are supposed to be some kind of geniuses at writing comedy. I completely believe that the behind-the-scenes stuff will be hilarious, in that snappy Aaron Sorkin way. But if the sketches on the fake SNL aren't funny, doesn't that kind of ruin the whole premise? Sketch comedy is really hard. We've all seen it not working (I'm looking at you, Horatio). So hopefully we either won't see too much of the actual sketches, or they'll manage to pull it together. I'll be rooting for them.

2 comments August 29th, 2006

The Mediocrity Awards

So the Emmys happened last night. Emmy voters seemed intent on awarding the 2nd-bests in every category — not the obvious incompetants, but not the truly deserving innovators, either. Best Actor in a Comedy: not the amazing Steve Carrell, and not the horrible Charlie Sheen, but the decent Tony Shalhoub. Outstanding Variety/Comedy show: not the inspired Colbert Report, and not the irritating Bill Maher, but the solidly excellent Daily Show. Reality Show: not the clearly superior Project Runway, and not the schlock-fest Dancing with the Stars, but the decently entertaining Amazing Race.

And then there were the tragedies, like Barry Manilow. Barry Manilow, people! Winning an Emmy! Over Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, Craig Ferguson, and Hugh Jackman! What kind of world are we living in? 

The good news is that two TiFaux favorites — The Office and 24 — won the big awards. Yippee, or whatever.

Here is the point where I would put Conan's cute opening sketch, where he traveled through Lost, The Office, House, South Park, and Dateline's To Catch a Predator, but the nerds have abandoned me, and it's not on youtube yet as far as I can tell.

And, oh god, did everyone else catch the sappy and insipid trailer that NBC is running for The Office? It's all softly tinkling pianos, slow-mo shots of Jim and Pam, and fading in title cards that say things like "Last spring… we held our breath… for the greatest love television has ever seen… will they or won't they?" or something to that effect. I kept waiting for the joke. For the record-skipping noise, and then Dwight leans into the frame and says something about fire regulations or whose turn it is to change the urinal cakes. But that moment never came.

Bad move, NBC promo-maker. Bad move.

And finally, I was pleased to see that Ellen Pompeo appears to have finally eaten something, and is no longer on the verge of collapsing in on herself like a black hole. Still skinny, but not grossly so.

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2 comments August 28th, 2006

Fantasy Island

One of my favorite writer/bloggers (writer cause he writes for actual printed publications, blogger because he devotes miles of internet space to the discussion of The Devil Wears Prada as a great movie for dudes to see), ESPN's The Sports Guy, recently posted a fantastic reader comment about fantasy camp. For those of you who don't live and die on the field, baseball or otherwise, fantasy camp is basically for unathletic people with lots of money. You pay for a week of training camp with your favorite professional athletes as a way to finally overcome all of those issues you've been harboring since you weren't able to break 80 feet in the javelin throw as a high school sophomore and in no way do I mean that as a problem specific to me, but rather one that could apply to everyone.

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Q: The other night I woke up in mid-laugh. I was dreaming of something so great that it needed to be shared with you. In my dream I was attending a "Saved By the Bell" fantasy camp where we (the campers) would act out our favorite episodes. We used the actual sets from the show. In my dream we were sitting at the far-right booth at The Max when I awoke in laughter. My friends and I came up with some other ideas for fantasy camps that we would attend, like MacGyver and AirWolf. What camp would you want to go to and why?
–Scott L., Tacoma, Wash

SG: The best feature of a "Saved By The Bell" fantasy camp would be Dustin Diamond hardballing them for an appearance fee. Anyway, I'd want to go to the "Grey's Anatomy" camp so I could grab my fake girlfriend, look into her eyes, take a dramatic pause, then belt out a line like, "I don't love you for who you are. … I love you for who you're not." I'd want to go to "CSI: Miami" camp to play Caruso's character in various scenes. ("We need … to find … the body … before … sunset. … "). I'd want to go to "90210" camp so I could get filmed doing the turnarounds in the opening credits. But most of all, I'd want to go to "The Bachelor" fantasy camp and just reenact rose ceremonies and bad dates. I think I'd pay $4,000 for this.

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The possibilities of this are endless. I'd also like to point out that my little brother already kind of invented this– in high school, he wanted to do a fundraiser where the drama kids would act out famous episodes of Seinfeld, Friends, etc, and I can't believe that never took off. Then again, I also claim to have invented the debit card and the privatization of social security, because when credit cards and social security were explained to me, I automatically assumed that the credit card was deducting from your bank account, and that all the money I was paying out of my taxes was going to buy me a totally sweet-ass ride when I was 65. Moving on.

I'm into this idea, obviously. Now I just need to narrow my choices down.

24 Fantasy Camp

Pros- Don't need to take any vacation time from work because camp only lasts a day; Get to save the world; Have the best cell phone service; Free aviator shades.

Cons- Everyone you love is killed; Voice gets hoarse from whisper-yelling; Have to wear the same clothes all the time; No one cares when plot lines are dropped without explanation; Existential life crisis (I'm assuming).

Entourage Fantasy Camp

Pros- Get to be famous without having any actual talent; Cool cars; Live in a world where it's okay to over emphasize every one of your lines without anyone looking at you oddly; Get to quote PCU lines to Jeremy Piven until he threatens to strangle you.

Cons- The harsh realization that the show should be 3,000% better than it actually is; Being executive-produced by Mark Whalberg.

Dawson's Creek Fantasy Camp

Pros- The discount dual package for you and your platonic best friend; ladder climbing experience will later serve you well in your firefighting career; Learn lots of big words.

Cons- May come out a scientologist.

Sex & The City Fantasy Camp

Pros- Get to stare off whimsically while your voiceover asks "I couldn't help but wonder…"

Cons- STDs; Perpetrating the myth already rampant among NY women that as long as you wear sassy outfits, it's okay to be fiscally irresponsible and totally self centered.

3 comments August 25th, 2006

Project Runway: Turn this mother out.

Jefferey still hates Angela.  And her children.  And her children's children.  (And, as we later learn, her mother.)  He's still smarting from the loss of Alison, who he called one of his greatest friends in the competition.  He says that Angela should have been defending her crap garment.  It's all very odd because Angela really didn't have much of a role in the way last week's episode ended.  But it seems to make Jefferey feel better just to channel all of his aggression in her direction.  It's tiring.

There are eight designers left and I'm a little surprised when I see the designers lined up in two tiny rows of four.  This is the halfway point — can you believe Vincent and Angela are still in it?

Heidi comes up, says the same shit she always says, and then they reveal what Angela was flipping out over in the teaser.  And, yes, the surprise actually warrants that big of a reaction.  Instead of the usual procession of black-clad waifs, out comes a collection of older, decidedly non-waify women: moms and sisters of the designers. 

Heidi picks names out of a bag to determine who gets who and this is the way it breaks down:

Michael — Robert’s sister.
Laura — Jeffrey’s mother.
Vincent — Uli’s mother.
Angela — Laura’s mother.
Kayne — Michael’s mother.
Uli — Kayne’s mother.
Robert — Vincent’s sister.
Jeffrey — Angela’s mother.  Awesome.

Back at the work stations, Tim announces that everyone needs to pack up their stuff and get their permission slip filled out because they're going on a field trip.  Their destination: Tavern on the Green where Michael Kors and his mother are waiting with bottles of champagne and munchies.  Michael and his mom are dressed the same and have the same crazy sunglasses look going on.  In their first two seconds on screen, they confirm everything anyone's ever said about gay men and their mothers.

During the fete, Michael Kors (I can't seem to call him just Michael or Mr. Kors — only Michael Kors) and Laura are sitting next to each other with their mothers in tow.  "Laura," Michael Kors says to Mother Kors, "has five children."

"Working on my sixth," Laura says with uncharacteristic timidity.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" her mother says (with her eyes).  Mama Bennett picks her jaw up off the floor, puts it back in, and explains that that this is news to her.  Laura interviews that she found out she was pregnant soon after she the competition started and, in a genuinely hilarious moment, looks off-camera and reveals that she hasn't even told her husband and this whole situation is ridiculous. 

"I'll just put it on the pile with all the rest," she says, dryly.

She redeems herself for acting like a drunken debutante all of last episode.

They go back to the workshop and do their consultations.  Right away, Jefferey is not getting along with another generation of Keslar women.  He doesn't like her ideas, she doesn't like his.  Everyone knows where this is going.

They go shopping and start work.  When Jefferey returns with his colors, Angela's mom keeps mum about her opinions until Tim Gunn comes over to ask her opinion (while Jefferey is off, presumably, doing gross things to his eyebrows).  When Jefferey comes back and joins them, Tim informs him of the bad news: she hates them.  Jefferey's patience is paper-thin at this point and seems say everything with an "But I Don't Care What You Think" tone.

Things get more and more awkward, Angela tries to help but just ends up stirring the pot.  Jefferey's mom, who had previously interviewed about how proud she was of him turning his life of addiction around, tries to calm things down and manages a tentative truce.

Angela seems to be a chip off the old block when it comes to becoming a victim.  However, whereas Angela will lash out, her mom crumbles.  For Jefferey, this results in a massive PR debacle of Tom Cruise/Mel Gibson proportions.  It's rule one of not being an asshole: when someone's mom is around you act nice even if you're normally not.  (Hi Maggie's mom, reading me swearing up and down.  Nervous laughter.) 

Flash forward to the runway: 

The judges seem to hate all but three of the designs: Vincent's, Uli's and Michael's. 

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Uli's Mom: By Vincent.

And the winner is: Vincent?  For the love of God.  The man with the perma-wince and crappy frocks actually manages to trick everyone into thinking he's made the best dress.  I think it was obvious, and apparently Tim Gunn agrees, that Uli's garment was superior.  The beads are a bit incense-booth-at-Lilith-Fair, but she made a really flattering garment on a much more challenging figure.

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Kayne's Mom: By Uli.

So, in the end, it's Jefferey and Robert. Turns out that Angela's mom's concerns were valid, as Jefferey's dress outfit is some sort of slapped-together blob of shmatas that makes her look like a newly divorced substitute art teacher who sneaks into the supply closet to cry amongst the acrylic paints every hour on the hour.  It's true.

Robert, who did Vincent's sister, didn't fare much better.  He basically wrapped her in some black fabric and gave her some sort of red cardigan/shawl/kimono/something to wear over it.  It was more than unflattering, it was boring.

As a result, Robert is given a (somewhat overdue) boot.   Weirdly enough, Jefferey is getting all emotional backstage saying that not all of the designers are good people, but Robert is one of the keepers.  Kayne is obviously devastaed and says something southern about his sunshine being taken away (and breaking my heart).  If I'm not mistaken, even Tim Gunn looked a little ferklemped.

So, before I wrap up, one more thing: do you think Kayne and Robert would make a cute couple?  I don't know.  Robert's a little older (he's 36, Kayne's 27), but nothing too severe.  They just seem to get along so well, it kind of seems natural.  Since I'm so big on surveys this week, let me know what you think.

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1 comment August 24th, 2006

Countdown to the Emmys: Best comedy

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Tsk, tsk.  A modest showing of voters said that Frances Conroy should win for Six Feet Under for Best Actress in a Drama.  I agree, so I'm not going to question it.

In any case, now for the biggies.  Best comedy.

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August 24th, 2006

Proof that God does exist — and that The Almighty has a really warped sense of humor.

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I don't know what I love more, his billowy shirt or the second picture where it looks like he's set to snap her like a wishbone.

1 comment August 23rd, 2006

SNL: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, Horatio

Rumor has it that SNL will be losing six, count 'em, six cast members in the new season. 

We already know that Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch are moving over to "30 Rock."  What's news is that Horatio Sanz, Chris Parnell and Kenan Thompson are likely to be shown the door as well. And talks with Darrell Hammond (who has been on the show since I was in the 10th grade) are still up in the air.

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And no one was sadder than Maggie.

Personally, I hate to see Tina and Rachel go, but I'm not really heartbroken about any of the fellas.  Although I'd rather see them lose Finesse Mitchell over any of those three.

The OTHER big news is that Tina is going to be replaced by newbie Jason Sudeikis.  I don't think this bodes well.

4 comments August 23rd, 2006

I agree. I just… agree. What, you want commentary now?

This list is very fun. TiFaux readers picked season 6 of Buffy, but I understand where they're coming from with 3.

August 23rd, 2006

Guilty, guilty, guilty pleasures

So I've been trying to think of a way to rationalize my sudden and totally undeserved love of Smallville. There's been a lot of soul-searching, some tough questions asked, and deep thinking about the place of television in my life. And plenty of staring at Tom Welling.

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Lately I've been meeting a lot of people who say that they don't watch TV, which, fine, that's cool, but does kind of (okay, always, and immediately) make me go into defensive mode, where I try to explain that Deadwood is the equal (if not superior) to any movie you could name and many books as well and that I do not enjoy Veronica Mars ironically and I'm not just sitting letting the pretty images wash over me and lull me into a consumerist stupor etc, etc, etc.

Unfortunately, my self-righteous "TV is art" argument loses all its steam when it comes to Smallville. Because, and I don't know if you know this, but Smallville… is not that great. The writing is bland and often awkward, the episodes are paint-by-numbers structured, Kristin Kreuk is acting disabled, and massive gaps in logic and sense occur in almost every single episode.

I can't defend it. I wouldn't recommend it. Here's all I've got.

Sometimes, and I'm sure I'm not alone here, I want to watch something that doesn't require my full and rapt concentration. While I'm having a snack, for example. Or painting my toenails. Or just really tired. This is the time that most people would turn on HGTV or Made or whatever Adam Sandler movie is playing on TBS, but I'm spoiled now: I can't take the commercials. So I'll save a couple Smallvilles just in case.

Also, it is occasionally nice to feel smarter than the show that I'm watching. Watching Smallville can make anyone believe they're a freaking genius.

And finally, I don't think we should underestimate the fun of looking at Tom Welling. Looking at Tom Welling makes me happy, releasing endorphins, which reinforce my good mood. I then am able to smile politely at people who try to tell me that all TV is trash, eliminating violence and generally making the world a better place

So what do you keep watching even though you know it's bad and quite possibly making you stupider? And why? 

2 comments August 23rd, 2006

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