December 28, 2006

Who We Lost In 2006

Dirty Harry at Libertas runs down the list of actors and actresses who passed in this year. They will be missed.

I have a feeling that about thirty years from now we'll be looking at a similar list. And the proportion of those on that list who will truly be missed will be very, very small.

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December 04, 2006

"Toot, Toot, Chugga, Chugga...WTF?"

Greg Page is officially leaving The Wiggles. Permanently. The original word was that he would be taking an extended leave of absence from touring, due to illness. But now it looks like the torch (and the Yellow Jersey) is being passed on to a replacement.

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Here you go. Now you can sing those songs, over and over...

OK, full disclosure here. I have a six-year old who is an absolute Wiggles freak. So a major change like this is going to have a profound ripple effect in my home life.

I hope that Greg's health issues are not serious. Clearly the grueling schedule has taken its toll. And I wish Sam Moran the best of luck. He's got big shoes (and a big shirt) to fill.

The biggest winners in this situation: eBay sellers. Take my word on that one.

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September 03, 2006

Watch out for the killer flying headbutt!

Ok....I couldn't help but indulge myself with one more guilty pleasure post. But to make it all the more worthwhile, here's a political cartoon:

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Which gives me the excuse I need to post this video, to give the cartoon a frame of reference to those unfamiliar with Monty Python and the Holy Grail (egad! if you've never seen it):


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Battlestar Python

Ok, I know I have a double post down below. I just can't fix it at the moment, as the post no longer even appears in my edit menu. *sigh* Gary's going to fire me....

Well, before he does, and before he returns to full-time blogging status soon, I thought I'd indulge myself in another non-political post. (Sorry skye, darlin'....no Lee Adama topless scene in this one).

Now imagine if.....Monty Python and the Holy Grail were filmed ala Battlestar Galactica....hmmm......

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August 26, 2006

Asians on a Plane

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They are the Kung-Funniest creatures on earth.....

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They can karate chop yo' bad ass without warning...


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..................and they've just been unleashed...

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..............................................30,000 feet in the air

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Asians on a Plane....coming to a blog near you. (Click on it...you know you want to. Especially since this motherfrakkin' post makes no sense, otherwise)

Hat tip: The Conservative UAW Guy (another way to get you to click to the source of my inspiration; check out his own creative photos).

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June 27, 2006

King Of Television "Guilty Pleasures" Dies At 83

I missed this yesterday but Aaron Spelling has passed on.

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Aaron Spelling
1923 - 2006

Spelling was a pioneer in "bad" TV shows that so many of us grew up with and loved so much. Who can forget Saturday nights watching "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" (with the same guest stars rotating through each show)?

Spelling's shows created pop culture icons and launched careers from "Starsky and Hutch" to "Charlie's Angels" to "Dynasty". What we most remember about the '70's and '80's we owe to him. Even made for TV movies like "The Boy In The Plastic Bubble" with John Travolta were his babies. If you recognize the names Dan Tanna, T.J. Hooker or Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, it was Aaron Spelling who's responsible.

And of course, who can forget "Beverly Hills, 90120" and "Melrose Place"? C'mon, admit it. You watched them and you couldn't get enough of them!

RIP, big guy.

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May 23, 2006

Will You Still Screw Me, Will You Run Through Me, When I'm 64?

Sir Paul McCartney (my favorite Beatle, BTW) will be facing a bitter 64th birthday next month due to a divorce settlement with his current wife, Heather Mills McCartney (aka "stumpy, the gold-digger"). The settlement, expected to be the largest in UK history, could net the former model upwards of hundreds of millions. McCartney's net worth is believed to be in the ballpark of 800 million British pounds sterling - that's $1.5 billion dollars to you and me. Whew.

Not bad for sucking in a grieving pop culture icon and only putting in 4 years. It actually makes you see Linda McCartney in a new light. At least she was in for the long haul.

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May 22, 2006

Sour Grapes For The Dixie Chicks

Having completely lost their country music following for disparaging President Bush while on foreign soil, the Dixie Chicks are resigned to fact that their record sales and tours will never return to their previous heights.

"I'd rather have a small following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith," [Band Member Martie] Maguire said. "We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."
Hmm. I don't recall them complaining that they were "limited" in what they could do when they were on the top of the charts. Lead singer Natalie Maines retracted an earlier apology that she had offered for her comment, saying "I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever".

Then again, the Dixie Chicks aren't owed any record sales whatsoever, either. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

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March 24, 2006

Bored Of The Rings?

Seriously, who's bright idea was it to make "The Lord of the Rings" into a stage play with all three volumes crammed into one 3.5 hour, $23 million production?

It apparently premiered in Toronto yesterday and this critic was bored to tears:

The problems with this version of The Lord of the Rings are so basic that you wonder how those involved with it could watch it coming together and still not see what was wrong.

To begin with, it looks like no one ever decided what kind of show it was meant to be. “It’s not a musical,” the creators kept insisting, but Warchus gives us enough trappings of the form to make us think that it is.

There’s a saccharine ballad between Arwen and Aragorn that’s repeated endlessly, a lengthy dance number at the Prancing Pony Inn which stops the action dead in every sense of the word and a meandering new-age anthem for Galadriel to warble while dressed in disco finery.

But when push comes to shove and the big emotional moments arrive, no one ever actually gets to sing. The music swells behind the cast and they often have to shout to be heard over it, but it doesn’t help them soar.

Sigh.

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March 09, 2006

Why Today's Hollywood Doesn't "Get It"

Peggy Noonan is one of those writers you look forward to reading every week. But every once in a while she puts one out that's so good you want to bookmark it and go back later to read it again. And again.

Although the subject of the Academy Awards has been written about to death, she is able to express so clearly what so many of us feel about today's film industry. There are so many pull quotes I can only urge you to read the entire column.

But here's the closing section that addresses George Clooney's self-aggrandizing acceptance speech as it applies to Hollywood in general:

"But Mr. Clooney's remarks were also part of the tinniness of the age, and of modern Hollywood. I don't think he was being disingenuous in suggesting he was himself somewhat heroic. He doesn't even know he's not heroic. He thinks making a movie in 2005 that said McCarthyism was bad is heroic.

How could he think this? Maybe part of the answer is in this: The Clooney generation in Hollywood is not writing and directing movies about life as if they've experienced it, with all its mysteries and complexity and variety. In an odd way they haven't experienced life; they've experienced media. Their films seem more an elaboration and meditation on media than an elaboration and meditation on life. This is how he could take such an unnuanced, unsophisticated, unknowing gloss on the 1950s and the McCarthy era. He just absorbed media about it. And that media itself came from certain assumptions and understandings, and myths.

Most Americans aren't leading media, they're leading lives. It would be nice to see a new respect in Hollywood for the lives they live. It would be nice to see them start to understand that rediscovering the work of, say, C.S. Lewis, and making a Narnia film, is not "giving in" to the audience but serving it. It isn't bad to look for and present good material that is known to have a following. It's a smart thing to do. It's why David O. Selznick bought "Gone With the Wind": People were reading it. It was his decision to make it into a movie from which he would profit that gave Hattie McDaniel her great role. Taboos are broken by markets, not poses."

To quote Nirvana: "Here we are now. Entertain us."

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March 06, 2006

Final Thoughts On The Oscars

I actually hestitate to put this post in the category of "entertainment".

The Conservative film blog, Libertas, always offers interesting perspective from outside the Hollywood bubble. Editor Jason Apuzzo goes right to the heart of current problems of the movie biz:

Nobody is seeing these films. Some LIBERTAS readers criticize me and others on this site for writing about films we haven’t seen. Perhaps after last night’s fiasco you’re beginning to understand what an utterly vacuous criticism this is. Simply stated: nobody is obligated to go see these films. Hollywood seems to have forgotten this. The powers-that-be in this town seem to be under the impression they’re entitled to an audience. They’re not.

Everyone who writes for LIBERTAS, for example, is an avid movie-watcher. We’ve all seen thousands and thousands of films; I personally am almost cybernetically attached to my DVD player. So why don’t we go to the movies? Do you really think it’s because films these days are ‘liberal’? Hardly. ‘Liberalism’ never stopped me from watching Easy Rider or All the President’s Men or Apocalypse Now or Battle of Algiers or anything else. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that the films stink - and that the liberalism in Hollywood has reached its reductio ad absurdum. Politics now rules everything in Hollywood. Is there any other way to explain Clooney winning an Oscar last night? No, there isn’t. Clooney gave a half-assed performance in a half-assed film this year that just happened to bash Bush & Big Oil - so Clooney got the bling. It’s really that simple. It’s a reward for political services rendered, and everybody knows it.

If the Academy wants anybody to care anymore, they will need to turn this situation around. But they won’t. Why? Primarily because there will be no pressure within Hollywood’s elite circles to do so. The conventional wisdom within these elite circles is that movies exist to enlighten and inform a benighted, ignorant public - and if that public doesn’t show up to the movies, who cares? Just stick the bill to the studio’s shareholders.

For example, there was a point last night when a producer - I believe it was for Crash - ascended to the stage and informed us, in the most unctuous, serious tones, that the “purpose of art is to shine light on dark places.” It occured to me that the same sort of thing could be said of proctology. But that’s where Hollywood’s head is right now. They’re the ‘light,’ we’re the ‘dark place.’

So here, basically, is my simple thought for the Academy, as they do their post-show biopsy in their offices over on Wilshire Boulevard: The purpose of the movies is to entertain the public - and just occasionally, the public is actually right. Think that one over. [all emphasis is Jason's]

Go read the whole post here.

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78th Oscars A Yawner

Okay, true to my word I didn't watch any of the Academy Awards show. It wasn't hard. I was off in the other room paying bills before collapsing in bed from a busy weekend with the family. We did tape it, and the Mrs. (who is interested) will have the luxury of being able to fast-forward past the tedious parts. She'll probably be able to zip through the whole thing in about half an hour.

I have read several reviews of the broadcast - some live-blogged reports and others written the morning after. It seems like poor Jon Stewart is going to be the scapegoat on this one. Most reports say he was awful. But then again, when a live audience is as lame as the one he had to work with anyone would seem awful.

Face it, Jon Stewart is at his best when he's cutting Hollywood hot shots like these to ribbons. For the members of the Academy and the entertainment elite, the Oscars are a very solemn and serious event. Unless you're making jokes about George Bush, how successful are you going to be making light of the whole affair?

Andy Dehnart on MSNBC.com this morning agrees:

Two CGI characters, Chicken Little and Abby Mallard, presented an award, and Ben Stiller dressed in an all-green unitard to introduce the special effects Oscar. Later, Will Farrell and Steve Carrell introduced the makeup award while wearing awful makeup, Carell looking like a drag queen without his wig or gown, and Farrell appearing as if his face had been dragged along the red carpet.

Those moments evoked smiles and giggles. But that humor is safe, easy, and non-confrontational. It does not require the stars to laugh at themselves or their hypocrisy.

Exposing hypocrisy while being self-depreciating is what Stewart does best; in fact, it's basically all he does. Those who believe "The Daily Show" is actually "fake news" don't understand either satire or the exceptionally smart, informative humor that the show invokes on a daily basis. Stewart and "The Daily Show's" team emphasize and demonstrate the importance and gravity of the day's news by making fun of it.

But that sort of contradictory, somewhat nuanced humor didn't work well for the Oscars' audience. The theater audience's lack of laughter was judgmental and was odds with viewers who were laughing because this was the funny Jon Stewart we know from cable.

As I've already stated, I didn't watch it. But I suspect that one of the biggest reasons Stewart's performance fell flat was because the audience in the Kodak Theater was full of people who take themselves way too seriously in proportion to what it is they do. Honestly, they're entertainers. The make movies. They do their thing and we laugh, we cry and kiss nine bucks goodbye. Then we move on. Sadly, since 9/11 the absurdity of Hollywood's self-absorption has only become more magnified. It's because those of us who make up the unwashed masses were reminded about what's really important in life. And in the grand scheme of things, missing out on seeing a "ground-breaking" or "risk-taking" film just isn't all that big a deal.

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March 03, 2006

Obligatory Oscar Post

OK, so the Academy Awards are coming up this Sunday. And, not surprisingly, I have no intention of wasting my time watching this awards show. I'm not "boycotting" it or anything like that. In order to boycott the Oscars, you have to accept the premise that I would be making a sacrifice by not tuning in just to make a point. The fact is, I couldn't care less. Although, I actually care less than I did last year.

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There are only two categories that I have a passing interest in: Lead Actor and Lead Actress. I would like to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman win for "Capote". I haven't seen the film, but I've appreciated Hoffman's talent for years. Most Oscar pundits expect that it will come down to him or Heath Ledger. My guess is that Reese Witherspoon is the favorite in her category and, not to take away from the other nominees, I think she should win.

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But I don't get to make that call. In fact, no ordinary consumer of Hollywood's output gets to weigh in either. This is a popularity contest among the elite who comprise the Academy. It's a chance for the Liberals in this industry to send a message to the rest of America: We don't care what you like, you should like this and if you don't then you're just a bunch of uncultured, narrow-minded rubes.

Never has an industry had so much contempt for its customer base. Imagine if a car company put out a commercial that said "We know that this car doesn't appeal to you, but we think its the one you should be driving. And if you don't like it? Well, then there's something wrong with you." That would go over really well, wouldn't it?

My point is not that Hollywood shouldn't make (or in the case of independent films, promote) films that push a Liberal/politically-correct agenda or criticize (fairly or not) America or its culture. It's a free country. But moviegoers are also free to see what they want. It's their nine bucks and there are plenty of entertainment alternatives for their money. My point is that the film industry has no right to complain that its box office receipts are slumping when they refuse to accept the reality of the big picture (no pun intended).

Look at the five films nominated for Best Picture and look at their box office gross:

"Brokeback Mountain": $76,078,000
"Crash": $53,404,817
"Munich": $46,227,050
"Good Night And Good Luck": $30,506,195
"Capote": $23,441,493
Total Combined Gross: $229,657,555

Combined, these five films earned 25% less than "The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe", which earned $288,193,914. That's a difference of $58,536,359 (room for an extra nominee or two).

You can argue that Narnia was heavily promoted but look how much publicity these five films got even before their nominations were announced on January 31st. Since then, they've gotten a solid month of hype and they still failed to attract a significant audience. It almost seems that as more information about these films came out, fewer people were interested.

Now consider some of the films that earned more than four of the five nominees (put "Brokeback" aside for one moment"):


  • "Fun With Dick and Jane", a remake of a 1970's comedy with Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni: $110,333,000

  • "Flightplan", a mystery aboard a commercial airliner staring Jodie Foster: $89,700,000

  • "Cheaper By The Dozen 2", a sequel to a remake starring Steve Martin: $81,528,000

  • "Big Momma's House 2", Martin Lawrence as an undercover cop disguised as a large black woman - also a sequel: $65,800,000

  • "Underword: Evolution", Kate Beckinsale as a hot vampire chick fighting werewolves - and, yes, it's a sequel: $61,426,000

  • "The Pink Panther", another remake with Steve Martin: $60,847,000

Right now you're saying "OK, dude. What's your point?"

Hear me out. I'm willing to bet that the above films weren't all that great. I'm also willing to bet that most of the people who payed to see these films probably knew going into the theater that they weren't going to be all that great.

But that means that more people were interested in paying to see these mediocre movies than four of the five nominees for Best Picture! This speaks volumes to the Academy. Yet they choose not to listen. I'm not saying that box office gross should be the only factor in determining Oscar nominations. And I'm certainly not saying that the five films that were nominated are without merit. What I am saying is that they have limited appeal. And all the hype in the world isn't going to change that.

What this also means is that a four hour awards ceremony with this list of nominees will also have limited appeal. They don't even have Billy Crystal to make it worth tuning in for a little comic relief. Jon Stewart may do an adequate job of hosting, but Crystal is probably second only to Bob Hope as the best host this awards show has ever had.

If the ratings come in on Monday morning showing that more people were interested watching a repeat of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" than the Academy Awards I wonder how the Hollywood elite will react? My guess is they'll shake their heads and say that America "just doesn't get it". But until they realize that its they who just don't get it, we'll probably get a similar batch of nominees year after year.

UPDATE 3/6/06 12 noon:
CRASH: Coming as no surprise, the ratings for the telecast were down.

"The Academy Awards were down 10 percent from last year's ceremony, based on preliminary Nielsen Media Research ratings from the nation's 55 biggest markets. If the full national ratings follow suit later Monday, this year's ceremony will likely be the second least-watched Oscars telecast behind 2003, when "Chicago" won best picture."
Also not surprisingly, the broadcast did very well in the New York City and Los Angeles markets.

Congratulations to Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Reese Witherspoon.

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February 14, 2006

Batman V. Bin Laden?

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Apparently, it has been announced that a new graphic novel is on its way depicting the Caped Crusader taking on Al Qaeda.

Batman writer FRANK MILLER tells the New York Post, "It is, not to put too fine a point on it, a piece of propaganda. Batman kicks al-Qaeda's a**."
Cool!

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January 20, 2006

Entertainment News - Bits and Pieces

ABC's "Commander-In-Chief" is sliding in the ratings. Despite starting off hot and notwithstanding the Golden Globe award won by its star Geena Davis, the series isn't holding onto the audience that the network had hoped for.

The series' downturn has industry insiders wondering whether its primary cause is the regime change that occurred behind the scenes after only six episodes were completed. Series creator and executive producer Rod Lurie was replaced as showrunner by veteran TV producer Steven Bochco, reportedly to quell ABC's concerns over production delays.
This was basically Hollywood's attempt to "prime" voters for a Hillary candidacy. It was also - like "The West Wing" - a chance for the Left-wing moonbat caucus to indulge in their fantasies of what it would be like if they controlled Washington.

I have never watched this show, but my guess is that a lot of people tuned in because of the novelty of the premise. While it will still probably have a following among the "anti-Bush" contingency, it looks like most viewers have had a look at the train wreck and have "moved on" to shows more worthy of their time.

Drudge proclaims "Brokeback Mountain" to be the number one movie in America. Of course, that was on Wednesday, when most people with actual lives are too busy to go to the movies. And its $735,000 take for the day was 40% less than Monday's earnings (which was $1,236,425). Forty-one days in the theaters and all it has mustered is $33 million. Contrast that with "The Chronicles Of Narnia" which had the same release date and has earned $265 million domestically ($586M if you throw in the overseas box office gross).

Now Variety is predicting that it could get to number two for this weekend. Big whoop. It garners a cache of Golden Globes this week and the best it will do is Number Two? Again, I haven't seen the movie, but then neither has most of America. Not surprisingly it seems like the media is going to great lengths to convince people that this is a film that an audience outside of an independant film festival would enjoy. I'll take a pass.

Turns out that digital music downloads have become a $1.1 billion dollar business. Do you think Napster is kicking themselves now that they've realized that people are actually willing to pay to download a song that they can't get out of their heads or cherry-pick their favorite tracks off an album? And they would have avoided all that litigation, too. Didn't mom tell them it's not nice to steal? Gotta give Steve Jobs a lot of credit for coming up with iTunes.

And lastly, we mourn the passing of R&B legend Wilson Pickett who died yesterday at the age of 64. Yes, that's right before there were "The Blues Brothers" and "The Commitments" there were pioneers like Pickett. Most famous for belting out such tunes as "In The Midnight Hour" and "Mustang Sally", he died of a heart attack.

R.I.P.

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November 11, 2005

It's Frivolous Friday!

Not that I generally watch awards shows or have enough familiarity with some of the nominees to even care all that much, the "People's Choice Awards" Nominees have been announced. And since nobody asked me, I'll go public with my votes (my choices in bold italics):

Female movie star: Sandra Bullock, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman.

Male movie star: Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Samuel L. Jackson. (Depp can be an America-bashing weenie, but he's an excellent actor)

Leading lady: Cameron Diaz, Reese Witherspoon, Renee Zellwegger.

Leading man: Jamie Foxx, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler.

Female action star: Jennifer Garner, Angelina Jolie, Catherine Zeta-Jones. (I don't know so much as "action" star, but she's great anyway)

Male action star: Matthew McConaughey, Brad Pitt, The Rock.

On-screen match-up: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Mr. and Mrs. Smith; Chris Rock and Adam Sandler in The Longest Yard; Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers.

Female performer: Kelly Clarkson, Faith Hill, Gwen Stefani.

Male performer: Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Usher.

Group: Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, Green Day. (abstain)

New TV comedy: Everybody Hates Chris, How I Met Your Mother, My Name is Earl.

New TV drama: Commander in Chief, Criminal Minds, Prison Break. (abstain)

TV comedy: Everybody Loves Raymond, That '70s Show, The Simpsons.

TV drama: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Desperate Housewives, Law & Order: SVU.

Reality show competition: American Idol, Fear Factor, Survivor. (abstain)

Reality show other: Extreme Makeover, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Supernanny. (abstain)

Late-night talk show host: Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien.

Daytime talk show host: Ellen DeGeneres, Regis Philbin & Kelly Ripa, Oprah Winfrey. (abstain)

Female TV star: Jennifer Garner, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Male TV star: Ray Romano, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland. (and I don't even watch 24)

Funny female star: Drew Barrymore, Ellen DeGeneres, Queen Latifah.

Funny male star: Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Will Smith.

Personally, I think some of the categores could have had much better choices.

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