Saturday, October 2, 2004

AND I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE TO WEAR A SLIP: Fans of this blog, Amazing Race, and Entertainment Weekly, may want to check out the lower right hand corner of page 16 of the Oct. 8 issue (Sarah Michelle Gellar on the cover). There you will find "Look Who We Found: Chip McAllister," written by yours truly, which was an adaptation of this post, and, I guess, partially justifies the countless hours I have avoided doing real work by blogging. As a bonus to you good readers, I will post some exclusive excerpts at some point of my 20-minute interview with Chip and Kim, which took place a few days after the season finale aired.
NBC UPS STAKES IN FAKE-NEWS WAR: Jon Stewart, for several years The Most Trusted Name in Fake News, is going to see some rejuvenated competition. Saturday Night Live has mercifully bypassed the unfunny Fallon clone Seth Meyers (the "unfunny" there modifies both "Fallon" and "clone," if you're looking to parse this sentence) and tapped Amy Poehler to be Tina Fey's next "Weekend Update" partner. In addition to being one of a dwindling group of SNL's bright spots, Poehler is a credibility-hogging gal-about-town, with credits that include Bonin favorite Wet Hot American Summer and the two best sit-coms in recent memory, Judd Apatow's lamented Undeclared (out on DVD, by the way, in March), and ALOTTFMA-reader-certified Arrested Development.

For people who only speak Variety, a translation: GAL PALS TO SPAR WEEKLY WITH "DAILY": SNL tapped vet Poehler for news seg "Update," quashing dish that hunky featured thesp Meyers would spot ex-deskie Fallon. Poehler's creds include indie spoof "Wet Hot American Summer" and eps of crit-fave Fox laffers "Undeclared" and "Arrested Development."

Friday, October 1, 2004

"WE HAVE TO STOP HIM FROM BECOMING ANOTHER RALPH NADER:" That line (uttered by Nixon's adviser Chuck Colson) is one of the few laughs in Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry. The movie is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand who Senator Kerry is, but it's also more than that. It's a portrait not merely of Kerry, but also of his cohorts--how these people (Kerry included) went from fighting in a war to opposing that same war once they got home. It's a remarkable historical portrait of the 60s that would be worth seeing even if John Kerry were not running for President, and is an interesting bookend to The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From The Life of Robert McNamara, last year's Oscar-winning documentary.

Unlike some movies, Going Upriver is not shrill or satirical, nor does it wear its political ambitions on its sleeve. That's what makes it all the more powerful--it lays out the facts, shows you what happened, and leaves you to draw your own conclusions. Those who think they don't know enough about who Senator Kerry is and how he got there will leave the theatre knowing who the man is and (I think) respecting him as a man who has the courage of his convictions (the film is a clear and simple retort to the "flip-flopper" charge by explaining how and why Kerry changed his mind about the Vietnam War). I already knew that I was voting for him when I entered the theatre, but will do so with all the more pride now. I give the film my highest recommendation, and expect it to be an Oscar contender in the documentary category.
DAN AYKROYD ONCE WAS FUNNY: As impossible as it may seem to our younger readers, there was a time when Oscar-nominated actor Dan Aykroyd was an actual comedic talent. Of course, you wouldn't know it by the oft-blogged list of 101 Most Unforgettable SNL Moments, which did not deem Aykroyd classics such as the Bass-O-Matic, Two Wild and Crazy Guys, the Floor Wax-Desert Topping commercial, and, perhaps the list's most egregious omission, Julia Child, as "unforgettable." (Tip of the ALOTTFMA hat to commentor Mark Wade for inspiring this post.)
IT STILL DEPENDS ON WHAT THE MEANING OF "IS" IS: This California state court opinion is worth reading. Allen and Albert Hughes (directors of "Menace II Society," "Dead Presidents," and "From Hell") were quoted in newspaper and magazine articles saying "Our dad's a pimp," and that their father "dabbled in the pimptorial arts." Apparently, the father-son relationship there is not so good, as Daddy sued for defamation.

The parties agreed that if the statements were false, they would be defamatory. They also agreed that at the time the statements were made, Daddy was not a pimp. However, the court affirmed the jury's verdict that the statement "Our dad's a pimp" was truthful, because of substantial evidence that Daddy had engaged in pimping in the past. Apparently, once a pimp, always a pimp.

Leaving aside the grammatical fun, there's the great footnote 15, which directs readers to Rutherford v. Paddock, 62 N.E. 381 (Mass. 1902), with the parenthetical explanation "proof of prior unchastity of plaintiff does not establish truth that she is whore." Worth the read.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

SO DOES THAT MEAN JIM LEHRER IS HAVING THE BEST WEEK EVER? I know we normally stay away from politics here, but I can't resist linking to part of CNN's coverage--Jessi Klein of Best Week Ever blogged the debate for CNN. High points include:

Now they're complimenting one another on how great a father the other one
is. Um, guys? Get a room.

It's so cute that Bush refers to Putin as "Vladimir." That's adorable. They must be totally BFF. I heard that they exchanged little woven friendship bracelets at a pizza party that Kerry didn't even know about. Kerry's such a loser.

And I can't argue with Klein's conclusion.
THEY NEVER SAID IT WAS IN ORDER: Using some clever sleuthing (OK, I just repalced a 3 in the URL with a 5), I can now reveal the E's complete list 101 Unforgettable SNL Moments. Wayne's World No. 1? Phil Hartman's last show? The Boston Teens? Ummmm, if you say so, but is that really the best they could do?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

YES, BUT IS THERE ROOM FOR MONTECORE? The Joe Schmo pranksters are at it again, and this time they've conned an entire town and its gullible local media. Can't wait to see the finished product.
MY FAVORITE CULTURAL TRAIN WRECK: Referencing Bill Hicks, a future President Obama and a certain onanistic Ursus americanus, the NY Observer's Joe Hagan has the best What It All Means on the Conan-to-Burbank story and The State Of Late Night TV:
For his part, Mr. Leno had reached for the Carson ring and found himself battling for something more blood-spattered, sheer victory. So Mr. Leno, who had once been a supremely successful, often savagely funny stand-up, who combined a hard-edge and warmth but managed to submerge both those things in his determined charge to trundle to victory, somehow transformed himself into a boxy, clunky winner without grace.

And yet it is clear he is a graceful, intelligent man of some sensitivity who regretted the battle with Letterman and may have even regretted his lowest-common-denominator Tonight Show.

Once you're done with the article, read (or re-read) a copy of Bill Carter's The Late Shift already.
NEXT THING YOU'LL TELL ME IS THAT LARRY'S ACTUALLY NOT A BAD GUY: Remember last season's brilliant finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," in which Larry David is about to open on Broadway in "The Producers" on his 10th anniversary? As you may recall, it also featured the culmination of a season-long plot in which Cheryl was going to allow Larry one night with another woman as a 10th anniversary gift. However, he couldn't seal the deal with his co-star, Cady Huffman, when he discovered she was a Republican with a large photo of George W. Bush hanging in the dressing room. Irony of ironies--Huffman is singing at Voices for Change, the Broadway John Kerry fundraiser. Guess that part of the show didn't imitate life.
NICE GUYS FINISH SECOND: Colin and Christie, not Chip and Kim, were the nice team on The Amazing Race, according to the this TV Guide Online interview with, ummmm, Colin and Christie.

Among the highlights, their driver got a flat while trying to make up time by riding the shoulder in Dallas, Christie never wanted her cabbie to run down innocent pedestrians, you can't sleep in Canadian airports, and don't expect to see Mirna and Colin breaking bread anytime soon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

SADLY, I DON'T GET THE "DUN DUN" WHENEVER SOMETHING INTERESTING HAPPENS: I was watching this evening's "Law & Order: SVU" (for my money, currently the best of the franchise), and while I (as a person who practices a lot of trademark law) always appreciate trademark law being used as a plot point, I'm not sure if having police storm a fake bag seller on Canal Street, saying "You're under arrest for trademark infringement!" is particularly accurate. If so, my practice would be a whole lot more fun.
IT'S A DESERT TOPPING...IT'S A FLOOR WAX...: It's E's list of the 101 Most Unforgettable SNL Moments. Only 61 to 100 are up on the Web site at this time, but already, such classics as James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub (No. 85), Land Shark (No. 74), and the Synchronized Swimmers (No. 67) have aired. So, folks, what will be No. 1?
AT LEAST THEY HAVEN'T FOUND US YET: According to the New York Press, being Gawker leads to "instant asshole status," Radosh is "a f**wit blogger who misunderstands blogs," and James Wolcott is "the death of blogging." Considering that I read two of those three regularly, I'm not flattered. Mind you, this is the same paper that publishes Russ Smith's MUGGER, a column premised on three crucial assumptions:

1. Bill Clinton and all associated with him are evil.
2. George W. Bush rocks!
3. I, Russ Smith, am the smartest and most interesting person alive.

At least one of those assumptions seems provably false. Lord knows what they'd call us if they found us.

Monday, September 27, 2004

WELL, THAT'S ONE WAY TO CELEBRATE: A Bill Carter Exclusive: Conan O'Brien to Replace Jay Leno in 2009, at the end of Leno's current five-year deal.

THE SHOW THAT GAVE THE WORLD TOM POSTON AND TIM CONWAY: Fifty years ago tonight, Steve Allen hosted the first 'Tonight Show' on NBC.

As Adam has written here before, there would be no David Letterman without Allen, and many of the mainstays of today's talkshow scene were invented by him, from the desk-and-couch arrangement for guests to 'Stump the Band' and unrehearsed man on the street interviews to Allen's wearing a suit comprised of tea bags and plunging into a vat of hot water. Those of us who enjoy late-night television remain in his debt, even if he did get involved in some real dumb stuff late in life.

In other news, apparently you can view today's reality tv programs through a prism of racial analysis. Oh, really?