Live From 5 Minutes Ago

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Unless these pants actually contain Jennifer Garner (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) aren't they rather overpriced right now?

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Another fascinating part of the Internet zeitgeist (my, how I love that word) is the daily Top 25 over at PetitionOnline. In theory at least, this should reflect what the nation and world think are the most important issues of the day. Taking a peek at today's Top 25, what do we see?

3 Anti-war with Iraq petitions (one is "let the NYC March go forward")
2 petitions devoted to "Frenchie-gate."
2 petitions dealing with the crisis in Venezuela.
2 petitions calling for prominent public figures to apologize for arguably rascist remarks
1 petition devoted to calling for Canada to adopt a "Flag Day"
1 petition demanding a third season for "Ed."
1 petition demanding that Anthrax (the band, not the deadly disease) be put on the bill of this summer's Ozzfest.
1 petition demanding that the original Star Wars trilogy be released on DVD in its original form.
1 petition in support of Augusta National's stance on admitting women. (In relation to that, I commend to folks the excellent piece on that controversy in this week's New Yorker, which basically argues that admirably named club czar "Hootie" Johnson's handling of the situation is what has turned it into a controversy--not the lobbying effort.)

Draw your own conclusions about what matters to America--or at least the portion of America that signs these sorts of petitions.

Well, Frenchie-gate has thickened. Now, reports are indicating that Frenchie was completely up front with Fox about what she had done, and they let her go on anyway. Now, assuming that's true (and by that, I mean Frenchie was COMPLETELY up front--disclosing the nature of the pictures and that they were advertised as being of an underage individual), I'm going to agree that we have a problem here. If Fox knew what she'd done, they should have made a decision when she disclosed it (auditions were MONTHS ago), and stuck by it. They can't reasonably say that "we couldn't have found it out until now." If Rupert Murdoch's New York Post can tell me about Hunter Thompson's book-shopping his TV network should be able to a background check on something like this. This doesn't smack (to me at least) of conspiracy against a "sure winner" (didn't everyone think that it was a sure thing that Tamyra and Justin would be the top two last year?). Instead, it smacks of a really sad publicity stunt for a show that, if anything, is already dangerously overexposed. I mean, look at what happened to The Osbournes this season--their ratings went into the toilet, and overexposure is the single most popular (and IMHO best) explanation. Does Fox have a legal obligation to bring her back? No. But--and here's the big but--I'd almost bet they're going to, in some fashion bring her back (they may not let her "compete," but she'll get to sing again) --it takes the publicity stunt to the next level, and guarantees huge ratings. And let's be honest here--does Fox really care about anything but ratings? (Even if 24 is often damn good quality television.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Well, time for me to weigh in on the most important topic in America today. Do I mean the possibility of a warning of more terror attacks? Or could it be North Korea? Or maybe even the missiles sitting around DC? No--of course, the world's most important issue is Frenchie Davis.

I'm a big fan of the author Jennifer Weiner, who's posted a strong defense of Frenchie on her blog (which, incidentially, is very funny and well worth checking out on a regular basis). I think she's completely on-target with respect to Fox's hypocrisy and double-standards as illustrated by its other reality "sensation" of recent vintage. However, two things make this different:

1. Unlike "Joe Millionaire," "American Idol" is not "in the can" yet--and legal problems can be fixed as they come to the attention. Remember that something similar happened last year, when a semi-finalist was disqualified for lying about their age. I'm sure Fox has the "Idol" wannabes/contestants sign a morals clause of some sort and requires them to disclose all prior employments, with the penalty for violation being kicked off of the show. If she hid the ball in any way, she screwed up, and under the terms of the agreement, she's out. (The more interesting question, though: if she had been up front about this, would she have been kicked off anyway? But that's neither here nor there.) Also remember that "Idol," unlike "Joe," is all about presenting a wholesome image to America. Let's be honest here--is there a person in America more white-bread than Kelly Clarkson (besides yours truly of course)?
2. It "feels different." I hate arguments like that when they're made, but it's the best I can say in this case. To me, there's a difference that I just FEEL between posing for nude Internet photos that were going to be made publicly available (as Frenchie did), and topless dancing (as Ms. McKibbin did). Although both of their intentions were pure (getting back into college and supporting a child, respectively), Frenchie's act was (at the time) illegal (the statute making it illegal was subsequently overturned), while Nikki's was not.

I'm not saying Fox is in the right morally here. I'm simply saying that I can understand their decision, even though I can also understand those who criticize its hypocrisy. I don't think there's any sort of conspiracy afoot--I think it's just someone made a bad decision and is now paying the (unexpectedly harsh) price for making that bad decision. All that said, based on everything I've heard (I don't watch the show), Frenchie is wonderfully talented, and deserves a shot in the music industry. And I suspect she's gonna get that shot in spite of this "bad publicity"--I mean, look at how many people watched Michael Jackson last week.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Now, for just some observation on a totally unrelated topic. As you probably know, keeps a Hot 100 of the current bestselling books. Let's look at the top 25, Harper's Index style. (Note: if you didn't get that reference, most of my efforts at humor in this blog are likely to fly over your head.)

Number of Books Containing the word "big-ass" in the title: 1
Number of Books About Weight Loss or Low Carb Eating: 4
Number of Books Involving "Sweet Potato Queens": 2
Number of Books About Investing or Other Business-Related Material: 5 (including "The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook and Financial Planner")
Number of Books Involving "finding a more meaningful life": 2
Number of Books Originally Published Before 1950: 1
Number of Books Not Yet Published: 1
Number of Books I've Actually Read: 1

Also always amusing--my Gold Box, which today offered me such diverse items as "Elvis' #1 Hits" on CD, a "frypan with helper handle," a $180 (DISCOUNTED!) iron, and the "Sweet Dreams Cradle Companion." Lord knows why I'd need any of these things.

Some more on the Oscars for the three of you out there reading this.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Adrien Brody in "The Pianist" (Focus Features)
Nicolas Cage in "Adaptation" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Michael Caine in "The Quiet American" (Miramax and Intermedia)
Daniel Day-Lewis in "Gangs of New York" (Miramax)
Jack Nicholson in "About Schmidt" (New Line)

Will win: Day-Lewis or Nicholson
Should win: Nicholson, who takes his career and somehow turns this character into the "anti-Jack" (though I haven't seen Day-Lewis', Caine's, or Brody's performances)
Snubbed: Richard Gere, "Chicago," the bitter cynical heart of the film, Hugh Grant, "About A Boy," redefining his own character, Eminem, "8 Mile," who brings raw charisma where you'd expect it least, and Derek Luke, "Antwone Fisher," who takes what could have been a sappy part and turns into something far more.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Chris Cooper in "Adaptation" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Ed Harris in "The Hours" (Paramount and Miramax)
Paul Newman in "Road to Perdition" (DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox)
John C. Reilly in "Chicago" (Miramax)
Christopher Walken in "Catch Me If You Can" (DreamWorks)

Will win: Cooper
Should win: Cooper
Snubbed: Nicolas Cage as DONALD Kaufman in "Adaptation," even if he got a leading actor nomination, he was good enough for two, Tom Hanks in "Catch Me If You Can," Denzel Washington in "Antwone Fisher," and arguably Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who was really the only redeeming thing about "Punch-Drunk Love."
Deservedly Omitted: Andy Serkis, "The Two Towers." I don't think I've EVER seen a more annoying performance than his.

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Salma Hayek in "Frida" (Miramax)
Nicole Kidman in "The Hours" (Paramount and Miramax)
Diane Lane in "Unfaithful" (20th Century Fox)
Julianne Moore in "Far from Heaven" (Focus Features)
Renée Zellweger in "Chicago" (Miramax)

Will win: Kidman (guilt over not giving it to her last year)
Should win: Zellweger (Kidman's part is really a supporting one, and Zellweger redefines herself from girl next door to singing, dancing sexpot)
Snubbed: Meryl Streep, "The Hours" (who I felt was the most moving of the bunch), Allison Lohman, "White Oleander" (girl more than holds her own in one of the more underappreciated movies of last year)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Kathy Bates in "About Schmidt" (New Line)
Julianne Moore in "The Hours" (Paramount and Miramax)
Queen Latifah in "Chicago" (Miramax)
Meryl Streep in "Adaptation" (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Catherine Zeta-Jones in "Chicago" (Miramax)

Will win: Moore (Gotta give her something)
Should win: Streep (Finally, she gets a chance to flex her comic muscles, and does so BRILLIANTLY)
Omitted: Michelle Pfeffer and Renee Zellweger, "White Oleander," Susan Sarandon, "Moonlight Mile" and/or "Igby Goes Down."

Adapted screenplay
"About a Boy" (Universal) Screenplay by Peter Hedges and Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
"Adaptation" (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman
"Chicago" (Miramax) Screenplay by Bill Condon
"The Hours" (Paramount and Miramax) Screenplay by David Hare
"The Pianist" (Focus Features) Screenplay by Ronald Harwood

Will win: "Chicago" or "The Hours"
Should win: "Chicago" (the "mind's eye" conceit is brilliant stuff)
Omitted: "About Schmidt," "Insomnia," "Catch Me If You Can," "25th Hour," "White Oleander"

Original Screenplay
"Far from Heaven" (Focus Features) Written by Todd Haynes
"Gangs of New York" (Miramax) Screenplay by Jay Cocks and Steve Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan Story by Jay Cocks
"My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (IFC/Gold Circle Films) Written by Nia Vardalos
"Talk to Her" (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Pedro Almodóvar
"Y Tu Mamá También" (IFC Films) Written by Carlos Cuarón and Alfonso Cuarón

Will win: "Greek Wedding" (the people's choice award has to be given to something)
Should Win: I've only seen "Greek Wedding," so I can't judge.
Omitted: "Antwone Fisher," "8 Mile"


"Chicago" (Miramax) Rob Marshall
"Gangs of New York" (Miramax) Martin Scorsese
"The Hours" (Paramount and Miramax) Stephen Daldry
"The Pianist" (Focus Features) Roman Polanski
"Talk to Her" (Sony Pictures Classics) Pedro Almodóvar

Will Win: Scorsese
Should Win: Marshall
Omitted: Denzel Washington, "Antwone Fisher," Spike Lee, "25th Hour," Alexander Payne, "About Schmidt," Steven Spielberg, "Catch Me If You Can" and "Minority Report" (strongest 1-2 punch of the year).

Best Picture:

"Chicago" (Miramax) A Producer Circle Co., Zadan/Meron Production Martin Richards, Producer
"Gangs of New York" (Miramax) An Alberto Grimaldi Production Alberto Grimaldi and Harvey Weinstein, Producers
"The Hours" (Paramount and Miramax) A Scott Rudin/Robert Fox Production Scott Rudin and Robert Fox, Producers
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (New Line) A New Line Cinema and Wingnut Films Production Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson, Producers
"The Pianist" (Focus Features) An R.P. Productions, Heritage Films, Studio Babelsberg, Runtime LTD. Production Roman Polanski, Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde, Producers

Will Win: "Chicago"
Should Win: "Chicago"
Omitted: "Catch Me If You Can," "8 Mile," "Adaptation," "Antwone Fisher"

Should be very interesting to watch the next couple of weeks and see if "Chicago" can make the mainstream crossover that "Moulin Rouge" never really could.

Well, the Oscar nominations arrived this morning. Few surprises for me. Nicole Kidman was uncommonly gracious in her quick interview on Good Morning America after finding out she'd been nominated, inviting up the writer and director of The Hours to talk as well. Sadly, I've only seen 3 of the 5 nominated best pictures. I passed on The Pianist and Gangs of New York, although I'll pick up the latter with its assured "return engagements." That said, I was extremely happy to see John C. Reilly nominated this year, even if he should have won for Magnolia a few years back. My favorite category this year, though? Best original song, in which we have "I Move On" from Chicago, the worst song in the film (but the only original one), "Lose Yourself," from 8 Mile, which, despite my problems with rap music generally and Eminem in particular, is undoubtedly quite an achievement in songwriting and performance, "Burn it Blue," from Frida, which I didn't see, but I'm sure is a perfectly nice song, the U2 song from Gangs of New York, which I've actually never heard, and Paul Simon's gorgeous chorus from "Father and Daughter." Could be a hell of a night for musical performances, especially if they manage to persuade Zellwegger and Zeta-Jones to sing "I Move On," rather than getting a couple of unknowns to sing it.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Here's a headline I NEVER want to see my name in.

Also, is it just me, or did Boston Public start sucking just kind of out of the blue last year and just never having recovered? Although, I must admit that Anthony Heald remains quite entertaining. And this week's episode has a special bonus--HOT LESBIANS--which as a straight male, I should, in theory, be watching with avid enthusiasm.

Today's news? "Dude, you're going to court." Anyone surprised by this? Anyone?

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Welcome to my newfound blog, which, we can only hope, will serve as a tool for preserving my sanity. It will contain commentary on everything from my life (moderately pathetic), my job (often hellish), entertainment (television, movies, theatre, books), and, if you're lucky, political and cultural screeds as well. Aren't you happy? And while you're here, if you don't check it out already, you MUST begin to visit Television Without Pity.

Weblog Commenting by