Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Best Pseudo-Geek Squad Commercial EVER...

I normally abhor music videos (or songs, for that matter) that stop to include a spot of dialogue-- my reason being that we're paying (or in some cases, pirating) to hear you sing, not see you attempt to act. Music videos are supposed to be little mini movies, but the song is supposed to be the storytelling device; we don’t need spoken intros, breaks, or extended endings in which the camp around the artist tries to explain the meaning of the song. Music is interpretive, and to a degree, the message the artist wants to get across (especially if its subtle) is only secondary.

Recently, though, I admit I did cut Fergie a little slack 'cause damn it, "Clumsy" is just darn catchy, but Alicia Keys could (and should) have started fading in her vocals over Common’s bleeding and fading body on the operating room table, rather than allowing us to hear all of the beeping machines and the nurses and doctors with their half-assed medical jargon (“Like It’s The First Time”). But needless to say, if I am willing to do that for Fergie, of all people, of course Mariah will get the same treatment!

Though her new video for "Touch My Body" also has Brett Ratner’s involvement working against it (it could have been soooo much better!), she and current "It" boy Jack McBrayer (who I love so much it hurts!) make such a dynamic team, they more than make up for any directorial shortcomings. And you gotta love the little Guitar Hero air-guitar spot :)

It's nice to see that someone as serious and larger-than-life as Mariah can have a sense of humor about herself; at almost forty years old, she seems to have finally come into her own. But I admit I’m a bit biased ;) so judge for yourself…

Only thing missing? Cameo by JJ.

Monday, February 25, 2008

An Open Letter To Jimmy Kimmel...

Dear James:

It hasn't been a secret that among late night hosts, I have always thought of you as the Renee Zellwegger (sweaty, puffy, and quite possibly a cokewhore), so when you and Sarah Silverman hooked up, I thought you deserved each other because I didn't find either of you funny, but you both seemed to get a great kick out of yourself. Then her video with Matt Damon happened, and I softened a bit to her in a way I thought I would have when she did School of Rock, and I began to think she was too good for you.

When it was announced you would be doing a retaliation video, I was convinced it was going to be just some lame copycat. The fact that there was all of this hype around it in the media, and we knew who the "mistress" would be only confirmed my suspicions. Then we had to wait. And wait and wait and wait. Surely debuting it on Oscar night was a publicity stunt-- one last quest for those Sweeps ratings-- but would anyone care by then?

I admit I didn't tune in. I never watch your show. But I did log onto BWE this morning (as I always do) to watch it. And I can't believe I'm saying this, but it was worth the wait. From the set changes to the costume changes to the two awesome book-ended cameos, to the weird Dickie Roberts-like choir... it was just awesome.

So Jimmy, I apologize for prematurely judging you (though I have a tendency to do that); you really are better than the "I just don't give a sh*t" attitude you exude. And if I see you at this year's San Gennaro, I won't snub you the way I have in years past. I may even ask you to stop and take a picture with my book. Consider yourself flattered.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Think They're Stoned Again...

Remember two years ago when I ditched my favorite show of the last six years, CSI? Well, it seems I got out just in time. As if the recent personal-problem driven plot lines from a show that was once revolutionary in its jaw-dropping technology and meticulous detail aren't enough of a slap in the face from some suddenly very comfortable higher-ups as they recline in leather massage chairs in their redundantly cushy offices, CBS has just announced Carol Mendolsohn will be switching places for an episode with Two and a Half Men creator and Executive Producer Chuck Lorre.

I don't know if the people who agreed that this was a good decision did so while smoking a bowl together, but that would be the only logical, justifiable explanation. Forget the fact that they are in two different formats and have two different run times (I'm putting my money on at least one of them starting on the other show's script without remembering to switch Final Draft templates, ala Ricky and Ron on Studio 60...). Forget the fact that one is a snarky comedy about a perpetually bitter bachelor and his goofy, geek-without-being-chic brother while the other is a perpetually sad look at the dark side to human nature. Hell, forget the fact that whatever Mendolsohn does to Two and a Half Men in a mere twenty-two minutes-- and vice versa, though in forty-seven minutes-- cannot be fixed by a simple gasp and sit up in bed at the open of the next episode, declaring it all just a sick dream. This switcheroo can't work on the most basic of levels: each show will be inevitably and irrevocably changed in those short time frames, and these days, one bad episode is enough to take down a show. Neither CSI nor Two and a Half Men are immune, even if they are the highest rated shows on the network.

Now, I can’t speak for Two and a Half Men because the amount of episodes I’ve actually seen I can count on both hands, but for the most part, fans have seemed to embrace the new bastardization of classic CSI. If I am alone in thinking the show isn’t what it used to be, then so be it: I’m old-fashioned; I don’t like change; I think if nothing’s broken, they shouldn’t have tried to fix it (or revitalize it or reinvent it or whatever snappy, trendy name they’re giving it nowadays). CBS' okay on this decision might prove to push them over the edge, though, as many are already riled up about the abbreviated seasons. It will only be worse when they realize “Angry Lorre” has managed (in one mere episode) to set their beloved Catherine-- and the rest of the feminist movement, for that matter-- back a few years.

If it sounds like I'm harping on this subject now, don't be fooled: I most certainly am. I fell for CSI in the fall of 2000, and I fell hard. I was reluctant to give it up, but it betrayed me one too many times to keep giving it renewed chances. I keep thinking about what could have been, and unfortunately dwelling only makes me angrier (though not as angry as "Angry Lorre," I'll give that much). CBS has begun to rival Kanye West in their cockiness, and after all they've done, I am not ashamed to admit I can't wait to watch their empire implode around them. So I guess I will be tuning into those "Freaky Friday" episodes after all-- tuning in to watch them learn that, though it may often feel like the opposite when they're on top, no one is completely untouchable. And if the public embraces this weirdness—something they’re only trying because they can and sometimes people just have too much power—well, then they’re even dumber than most studios assume… and that’s saying something!

An Open Letter To "SNL"...

Dear Writers of Saturday Night Live:

I know you must excited to be back to work after a long hundred days, and I'm glad you're back, too. In fact, I'm really glad that you brought back Tina Fey, even if only for one short episode; her presence made me tune into a show I haven't seen since... well, I don't even remember the exact season, but I know the Spartan cheerleaders were in attendance, so it was clearly awhile ago.I know making a sketch nine minutes long (as you did with the opening CNN spoof) means you can write fewer sketches, but it doesn't make the material any funnier. At nine freakin' minutes, just about anything will drag! And after the past few months, I would think you'd want to write more than in a usual episode. After all, it's supposed to be your craft, your passion, your art, and you should have missed it immensely. I would think you'd have so much material stored up that each bit would be like those thirty second fake commercials that have become so popular just so you can fit dozens in. But then again, your show hasn't been funny in a long time-- relying not on clever original characters anymore but instead on so many parodies of reality shows that are much funnier in their original versions because the cast doesn't realize the extent of their insanity-- so clearly that passion and art has drifted out. If the hiatus has taught you anything, it should be that when they say "you never really know what you've got 'til it's gone," it doesn't apply to a show that's been on it's last legs for quite some time. You had a golden opportunity, especially with Ms. Fey back at the helm, but you blew it.

Now I'm going to go watch my 30 Rock DVDs and long for what could have been.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Coffee Talk With DanielleTBD...

Lynn Cohen (Magda, Sex and the City) and Shelly Morrison (Rosario, Will & Grace).

Keeping those respective roles that made them household names, should they get their own Kate & Allie-type sitcom? It would be like The Help only actually funny.


OMG Big Dies...

Okay, don't freak out: that was not a spoiler but just my interpretation of the full length trailer of the Sex and the City movie due out May 30 (and yes, I will actually be seeing it in the city!).

Though the turn Miranda and Steve's relationship has taken (he was supposed to always be the good one!) admittedly brought a lump to my throat, for the most part the incorporation of new footage has me excitedly anticipating... oh who am I kidding, I squealed like a giddy school girl! After all the hype surrounding the leaked production candids, I began to fear SATC as a movie was going to revolve too much on Carrie: I thought the other three would have to take a backseat as bridesmaids (hideous dresses and all, even if they are couture) while she planned her dream wedding, ultimately turning a very smart, revolutionary story about strong women into an old-fashioned chick flick cliche. Instead, the trailer focuses on the girls renewing their friendship in a way that leads me to believe the wedding is just in the opening moments, and then something goes horribly wrong, and Carrie turns back into that single girl in the city we all fell in love with ten years ago when the show first debut on HBO.

Or at least that's the hope. And since my theory about Lost's Kate's mystery flash-forward man proved to be only half true, I could be wrong about what the falling cell phone and sad wedding-dress-wearing-cab-ride imagery in the trailer means... but I honestly hope that I'm not wrong because if Big simply leaves Carrie at the alter, we will be forced to suffer through two hours of second-fiddle women convincing Carrie she is beautiful and intelligent and quite a catch and that Big was just a big, dumb, jerk. But he'll always be in the picture the same way he was for six-point-two seasons: her eye and mind will always wander back to him, basically awaiting the time and place they can hook up again. Instead, if he is out of the picture in the only permanent way possible, she can once again focus her attention on her friendships: the only forever and true relationships in her life. That is the Sex and the City we all know and love.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

November May Be A Ways Away But It's Never To Early To Vote For Change...

It's An(other) End Of An Era...

After nine years (really, is that all?), Jesse L. Martin has announced he will be leaving Law & Order this season, filming only one more post-strike episode before his character is written out. There is no word yet from Dick Wolf or NBC about just how (or why!!!) Martin will leave us, but I know one thing: in the past couple of seasons since Jerry Orbach passed away, I have not watched one episode of the original L&O-- though I am a religious viewer of the SVU part of the franchise and just recently have started getting into Criminal Intent, as well (or at least the Vincent D'Onofrio eps, anyway). Though my love for Martin knows no bounds, there is a very specific formula to L&O, and unfortunately it is one in which Martin has been a smaller part than I would have hoped.

Perhaps that is why he is stepping down now. When he went to film RENT, for example, the writers graciously had him get shot on the job so that his character could take a leave of absence to recouperate while the actor took a leave of absence to film his passion project. But perhaps taking some time off is not enough for Martin, who deserves to be a bigger star than he has been allowed to be on a procedural that focuses its attention (and rightfully so, according to those parameters) on dead bodies and their doers rather than the personal lives of their weekly players. Martin has breathed as much life into his Detective Ed Green as he can, but the twinkle in his eye which has become his staple has faded recently, and his gaze has shifted around like a kid nervous he'll be caught shop-lifting. In other words, Martin has his eye on other things, and though he'll be surely missed on Wednesdays at 10 (personally I don't think the show will be able to recover without him; it was bad enough when Dennis Farina stepped in for Orbach), there is no doubt we'll be seeing a lot of him in the near future.

Martin will be replaced by Anthony Anderson, who got his feet wet with Fox' short-lived mess of a cop drama K-Ville earlier this season. And while Martin does have a couple of upcoming projects already lined up (he'll play Marvin Gaye in a biopic, for perhaps the most notable one), I'd personally love to see him reprise his role as Tom Collins on Broadway for the last few shows of RENT before it closes. Law & Order has always been a staple for New York: just about everyday when you're walking down the street, you're bound to run into a crew from the franchise, and natives always yell "Hey, Jesse!" with love when they spot Martin prepping a scene (and on a few occasions, while the cameras were actually rolling, too, I'm sure). When Martin steps down in the next few months-- just like when the lights go out on that infamous Broadway play that brought him onto my radar all those years ago-- New York will be losing another one of its icons.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Stupid Human Tricks...

Is anyone else amused by this or is it just me?

Some dude in butt-f*ck nowhere got this tattoo on his leg... and he also had implants put in to make the chick's own implants... uh, pop out.

Now, I'm all for self-expression through body art; I am no stranger to tattoos myself, in fact, but somehow... somehow... I think this guy is going to come to regret this decision when he's sixty or so. And it's not like he can just go get the laser surgery; his calf will have to be sliced open for that bulbous sac to be removed. Looking at this picture, I can't help but wonder what dumbass doctor agreed to cut him open the first time to insert that bulbous sac. And is it silicone or saline or what?...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Epitome of the "Awww" Factor...

It's kind of hard to see in this clip because it was shot by a fan quite a few rows back, but three year-old Cruz Beckham is a total cutie and quite talented (though in a different way than his dad)...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Edward Herrmann, How Could You?...

With no new Netflix arriving in my mailbox this weekend, and the breeze in Malibu being strong enough to whip sand into my face as I sat and tried to read "Duma Key," I retreated (defeatedly) back to curling up on my couch with VOD (hey, it's paying my bills now, so I might as well indulge and give back a bit, no?). After scrolling through at least a dozen titles I had already seen or currently had on my Queue, I settled on Wedding Daze (formally The Pleasure of Your Company), the directorial debut from Michael Ian Black. I expected a romantic comedy in the vein of Wedding Crashers... though that is probably only because both star Isla Fisher... what I got, though, was a gag-full American Pie-esque romp centering on two individuals with just the right amount of crazy that makes it hard to root for them either separately, let alone together.

When the opening credits rolled, I clapped with glee over the potential: Joanna Gleason (Kim from Friends) played Katie (Fisher)'s mother, a skeletal Joe Pantoliano as her father, Heather Goldenhersh (Lizzy Caplan's sister on The Class) as her best friend, and Matt Malloy as her adoptive father... not to mention the aforementioned Edward Herrmann as Anderson (Jason Biggs)'s father. Herrmann is a man I've loved since he played Macaulay Culkin's father in Richie Rich, and I will pretty much give anything he's in a try, allowing it the benefit of the doubt because he's such a classy, intelligent, distinguished actor that he must choose his projects with care. His first scene in Wedding Daze made me shake my head and exclaim: "Oh, Richard Gilmore, no. Just no!" as his on-screen wife licked whipped cream from his face. Unfortunately the ones that followed (presenting his son with his c*ck ring; watching two naked women less than half his age make out on a rug in front of a fire in his living room) just proved that not even the cast could save this crude romantic comedy.

Wedding Daze is one-part "getting to know each other" comedy and one part "race to the alter" gag-fest (and gag-fest is two-fold because the ridiculous use of prop humor, which is known as gags, is actually gag-inducing for the audience). The movie starts off simply enough: a young romantic's whole world crashes down around him when the girlfriend to whom he is in the middle of proposing collapses on the floor in front of him. He spirals, needless to say, and decides on an impetuous whim to propose to Katie, who is his current waitress in some roadhouse diner. Luckily, she is just as spontaneous (read: nuts) as he is, and though she had been pondering a proposal from her Charades-loving boyfriend (that's not a metaphor), she needs nothing but a split second to take him seriously and scream in joy and accept the hand (though no ring) of Anderson. Fisher is one of a handful of this generation’s true comedic gems, whose talent would be best suited in a female-centric piece in which she can really shine. Needless to say, Wedding Daze is not one such piece, and in it, she is forced to take a backseat to prop humor (a diaphragm ending up in a sandwich... is that the best you could do? Really?) and the much more one-note Biggs. He relies on his bright white smile to endear his audiences, but years after first winning them over as a big-eyed, geek-chic teenager, the act (like himself) has just grown old; he has not matured.

Katie and Anderson go through the usual dance of trying to fit into one another's worlds and overcoming the obstacles of different families and friends but still come out on the other side wanting to get married. I think they have known each other for about four days at that point. The movie picks up quickly from there, as the duo steal a car to elope, all the while Katie's mother and biological father hold up a hardware store to get their daughter the money for a proper wedding. Arresting chaos ensues, including a cameo standoff with Rob Corddry, and Katie delivers her "Despite all of our insane obstacles and the red flags advising us otherwise, I want to be with you" speech while both families are behind bars. Her words-from-the-heart (or perhaps the gun she shoots at the ceiling) is somehow enough to convince everyone (perhaps because it's the eighty-minute mark, and for a comedy this thin, that's nearing the end) because thirty seconds later, they are marching down the aisle at the little Atlantic City wedding chapel at which her own parents eloped twenty-odd years ago. The Reverend tells the happy couple that he can personally guarantee anyone who marries at his establishment will be happy forever, but it's way too late for the love affair with this thin-scripted movie.

(Though I will admit the "Jewnicorn" and "Jewlahoop" did elicit a chuckle.)

Wedding Daze should have ended there, but Black (who was a hybrid on this project) just couldn't end on a genuinely sweet (albeit completely unrealistic) moment. Instead, he gave us another six or seven minutes of drawn-out residual drama in the form of a mock-police standoff, at which point I had had more than enough and just ended the $3.95 rental prematurely. And in the words of my beloved Damian (Daniel Franzese): "I want my [four bucks] back!" Michael, I still love you for your witty Stella performances and snappy VH1 Countdown Lists commentary, but please, please, please stick to in front of the camera work until your sense of humor hits puberty.

Friday, February 15, 2008

They Like Me; They Really Like Me...

Author Christina Hamlett ("Movie Girl") has written a beautifully eloquent review of "Stars of their Eyes" on her blog, managing to hit on quite a few details I hoped would not just be glossed over due to the "chick lit" label.

Christina says: "In her debut novel – “Stars In Their Eyes” – author Danielle Turchiano paints an accurate picture of the film industry’s superficiality and the adage that a star is only as good as his or her most recent production. Her protagonist, Courtney Primm, is a soap opera actress who is desperate in her quest to be taken seriously by making the leap from a small screen to a big silver one. Her assistant and best friend, Leah Conroy, is just as committed to scarfing up La-La land perks, achieving fame-by-attachment, and bedding any available male within a 20’ radius. Leah has charmingly mastered the art of the con and, at times, is the more watchable of the pair.

Throughout this read, I was reminded of the plethora of sitcom stars who continue to attempt exactly what Courtney is doing – making a leap to a bigger platform. The rationale that being adored by audiences in prime time is an automatic guarantee of success at the box office fails to address that – for the majority of them – their talent is only sustainable in the context of an ensemble that meets weekly and exchanges witty banter with one another. Place them against a bigger backdrop and they still seem to play the same characters; the only thing missing is for their sitcom families and five best friends to walk through the door and join them. While Courtney has more of a moral center and a vulnerability than Leah, it’s hard to imagine her finding any more success than she has already achieved at the fictional “Chateau Pacific”. The reason we root for her is because she finally has the chance to find contentment – a rarity, it seems, in the glamorous world that Turchiano bring to life for us through her wonderful imagery and familiarity with the SoCal entertainment scene.

The formatting of “Stars In Their Eyes” is written in the vein of a treatment as opposed to a traditional novel. On the one hand, this is a very clever marketing strategy for pitching the book to prospective producers. On the other hand, I would like to have seen this written from a more traditional approach and with more evenly paced “chapters”. There are unexplored layers of these characters that were hinted at but not fully developed and I think a longer version could address these. Turchiano has a great gift for snappy one-liners and references to pop culture that are priceless."

You can find the whole review here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ain't No Love (In The Heart of the City)...

Some of you may remember the story of when I got asked out by a picketer at Ralph's during the grocery store-worker strike a few years back: I had just crossed the line, and some guy was yelling after me (okay, normally I would have yelled at me, too, but I was out of cheese, and cheese is very important to me). I was throwing my bags in my trunk to get out of there as fast as I could, and this guy jogged up to the back of my car and told me I had very pretty eyes. I laughed because I was wearing sunglasses, and he said I had a pretty smile, too. I still turned him down.

I bring this up now because a friend of mine has a tote bag from a blog that says "L.A.: Where Dating Goes To Die" (it's from a fellow blogger) and with such lame pick-up lines as the ones I seem to get thrown, I can certainly see why! Try this on for size:

"Can I get your number?"
"Oh, I don't think that's such a good idea."
"Why not? Do you have a boyfriend?"
"No, but..."
"Are you a lesbian?"
"Then I don't see what the problem is."

Now, I know it can be hard for some people to muster up the courage needed to go up to a complete stranger and attempt to infiltrate his or her personal bubble, so when this guy didn't just accept my first, sugar-coated rejection, I actually had a little more respect for him. He didn't just retreat and cower, but he stood up to my gruff demeanor and standoffish edge and wanted to know why. That takes balls, and I like my men with balls (it's what separates them from the little boys... you know who you are). I could blame myself, really, for not just lying and telling him that yes, I did in fact have a boyfriend, and then proceeding to make up a slightly elaborate anecdote to make him seem real. I could have even whipped out my iPhone and showed him a picture of one of my guy friends (or, you know, Eric) and told him that "Yes, that's him; that's my man." But I didn't.

When he still didn't given up then, I really should have just lied and said that yes, I was a lesbian. Can't argue with that, right? You don't have the right parts, so sorry, guy! But again, I didn't. And then when he stood there, defiantly-- pouting almost-- I just got angry and defensive. "You don't see what the problem is? Clearly, it's you, dude!" You're not my type; I don't give my number to strange guys I meet in line at Starbucks; I'm not looking for a relationship. Really, pick one; they're all valid. But then I stopped and thought about it for a minute: while yes, I wanted him to respect my wishes and just give up (and the advice here this time is to be able to read a person well enough to know when you've crossed the line and should just accept what she says because maybe she's the kind of person who Just. Doesn't. Change. [Her.] Mind.), I had to admit the problem wasn't entirely with him. I just don't want a relationship. Period.

Well, I probably don't have to tell you the sour look that got as a response. I didn't think it was presumptuous of me to say, though, because whether he wanted my number to date or for a late night hook-up, I didn't want any part of it, and I didn't want any mixed signals, so I was brutally up front about it. That's who I am. But why is it that guys have such a hard time understanding (and accepting) that a woman can be happy being single? Are they threatened or jealous or both?

Personally, I love being single (it's really the only way I know how to be). I admit that part of it is out of laziness: I’ve never been one for clubs or bars, and it’s really hard to meet people other than out in public once you’re out of school and you realize that none of your co-workers are even slight possibilities. Granted, there’s always being set up by friends, but don’t get me started on that can of worms! Anyway, I love that I can sleep diagonally across my queen size bed and that the only rogue hairs I find at the bottom of the bathtub are dog. I love that I can come home at night and not find dirty dishes in the sink or pants on the floor. I love that I never have to watch sports or have eyes rolled at me for my compulsive reality show channel flipping. I love that I don't answer to anyone and that I'm not obligated to do anything specific on Friday and/or Saturday nights. I could go on and on really, and I know, I know: when you love someone, it's not an obligation... fine, whatever, but then doesn't that mentality just go to show that I should stay single for a good, long while?

Needless to say, I've always disliked Valentine's Day; I think if you're only getting special attention from that special someone in your life one day out of the year, you have problems that chocolates and roses can't solve. So, if you're like me and just curling up with your dog, a pizza, and some reality television, tonight, you might enjoy these very clever (but not at all romantic) Valentine's poems and/or some tales of dating woes from my new favorite Time Killers At Work. But for those of you that do enjoy the holiday, I have posted Mariah's newest single below; it dropped just in time to be a perfect way for such young couples in love-- or lust-- out there to celebrate.

(Clearly this isn't the official music video, but I couldn't figure out how to just post the mp3...)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's No Wonder I Love Him...

Ah, the wonders of of You Tube...

First of all, I am shocked and appalled I missed the larger-than-life Brett Novek (America's Most Smartest Model)'s run in the Beverly Center... now that I actually have a puppy and don't feel the need to go stare at the adorable ones in Pet Love every weekend anymore, I also missed my shot at getting Brett to be my first Celebrity Who Loves My Book (and who would also be in the TV show, should it ever get made. He is the epitome of Kevin Barnes ;) )

And this one... well it's just for giggles; he is adorable!!!

Just felt I had to share. Enjoy the Yum!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Indie Film #3844...

Charlie Loventhal’s Meet Market jumps right into the action in his no-frills comedy about a group of L.A. singles who troll the supermarket on Saturday nights to hook up. Breaking the fourth wall, his characters introduce themselves as they stand in their pre-chosen aisles, surrounded by the items that make them feel the most comfortable, allowing their eyes to stray in brief moments from the camera lens to patrol those passing by, setting the tone that as much as they may talk about wanting to find love, they have wandering attention spans. Meet Market is a story about awakenings for its many, many characters, who all want basic things out of life but go about searching for them in the wrong places.

To an outsider, it seems nearly impossible that in a metropolis as large as Los Angeles, every other person could work in the entertainment industry, but spend a day here, and you’ll see that this town truly does run on the blood, sweat, and tears of filmmakers. Meet Market uses that city-specific quirk to its advantage, creating laugh out-loud jabs at the ridiculousness that often comes out of such people’s mouths, most notably that of Hutch (Julian McMahon, who also Executive Produced). He is the stereotypical self-absorbed actor—a soap opera star, no less-- who loves to hear himself talk, a trait which McMahon pulls of with such ease it is like he has had years of experience to pull from and dozens of cast members to mimic. He thinks everything that pours out of his mouth is purely philosophical, even when his pearls of wisdom include: “An actor is only as good as his teeth.” Somehow, McMahon's half-swarmy, half-charming Hutch (perhaps because he never wears a shirt) still manages to rope in two intelligent women of substance, creating the very soap opera staple of a love triangle.

Aisha Tyler is one of those women as Jane, the self-proclaimed “kooky” character who dresses like a librarian (complete with the pointy glasses), uses words like “poopy,” and sprays air freshener in sporadic bursts while she still sits on the toilet. Her knack for comedy is at its best here, playing something of a “stars in their eyes” simpleton to her best friend Lucinda (Krista Allen)’s more sardonic, jaded realism (even when thrown into absurd situations). In another actress’ less capable hands, Lucinda’s blunt nature (“I tell it like it is,” as she puts it with an unapologetic shrug) could come off as overly aggressive and offensive, but Allen’s innate down-to-Earth demeanor lends itself well to a character who is as free in spirit as she is with the F word. There is some question as to how these two opposites became friends in the first place, but as the film goes on, they learn about themselves, each other, and their friendship as much as we learn about them, and they rub off on each other in obvious ways.

Meet Market is the type of cheeky, slightly crude romantic comedy that countless young filmmakers attempt to make in just as many variations, but what makes Meet Market unique and ultimately successful is it's amazing-- and large-- cast of “That Guy” actors: you will surely recognize their faces from tons of Television Guest Star roles, even if you don’t know their names. Without such talent in place, the majority of the subtler, drier humor would undoubtedly be lost and the shock value stuff would be over the top. The extremely underrated Alan Tudyk once again shines as Danny, the screenwriter who uses his art to try to get laid, going on a string of dates that start out with potential but quickly spiral downhill. Missi Pyle is one such example, as a chuckle-worthy hash-sniffing sexual predator who resorts to taunting him when he doesn’t want to sleep with her... as is Jennifer Sky, the weight-obsessed woman he picks up at said supermarket. He spends the majority of the film digging advice out of his trainer (Laurie Holden) but can’t quite grasp the deep intimacy that has been right there in front of him this whole time. Elizabeth Berkley redeems herself quite nicely from Showgirls purgatory as Linda, the doe-eyed small-town hopeful who believes every “You’ve got what it takes” she hears from men who just want to get her on the casting couch… until one such meeting takes a wrong turn, and she finds salvation in a new power. Susan Egan is Tess (and Christine Estabrook is her mom)—an existential drone who embarks on an impetuous relationship that for the first time makes her really feel alive, only to realize she still needs more.

Though Meet Market features some physical comedy and fun with adult-themed props, Loventhal is never hokey. His characters are in-your-face in the way strong individuals need to be, but his seasoned cast, as no strangers to independent film, manage to keep them grounded. Thankfully Loventhal trusts his actors enough to rely on them to carry the story, instead of using crazy camera movement or odd staging to draw interest. He lingers on his actors' images—ones that are so saturated, they may as well be oil paintings—and allows their expressive faces to say it all. Meet Market is one straight-to-DVD release that deserves to be plucked quickly from its shelves.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cloverfield Done Right...

How I've missed you, George A. Romero. Welcome back.

Joe Millionaire 2.0...

It's safe to assume that MTV's newest "reality" dating show, That's Amore!, must be following in the footsteps of Fox' Joe Millionaire, right?

A Shot At Love reject Domenico has been given his own spin-off on MTV, where this time he will be the one who gets to do the rejecting. But there's no way this guy is a real Italian-- from Italy and not Bensonhurst, anyway. This has to be a joke-- a hoax on the part of the producers who on the very last episode when he has chosen his "lady love" will reveal the twist. After all, his accent fades in and out, and he jumps around like a little monkey... not to mention he looks like Joe Francis' baby brother! Is anyone actually buying this???

Saturday, February 9, 2008

They Say An End Is Near, But Not For All...

The first time I started watching Days of our Lives was the summer after sixth grade. My grandmother was very sick and my mother had gone to stay with her for what felt like a few weeks but was probably only a few days. Every time my mother would make one of those trips, I could tell how bad it was by what she brought me back. One time it was a new Barbie, presented to me when my father and I went to the airport in the middle of the night to pick her up. This time it was something that, although later proved to be a similar childhood fad to that of a Barbie, would last a lot longer and shape me in a much more important way.

I didn’t really know it at the time, but this trip was the beginning of the end for my grandmother. She had always been in and out of hospitals when I was young, causing me to spend a good portion of my school vacations hanging out in the hallway, learning to fear doctors and nurses and bedpans. My mother would stay with her in the room all day, watching television and listening to her breathe more than talk. This time what my mother brought back was her own addiction to a television show, which would soon become mine, as well.

My mother never understood electronics. The first computer we bought was only a tool on which for me to type school papers. Until I went to college, I was the only one in the house using email. Needless to say, even the VCR was a challenge. My mother was still working at the time, but her desire to know what happened on each day’s episode overwrote that. I ended up taping the episodes for her, and then sitting with her at night while she watched them. At first I just waited for them to be over so I could rewind the tape—cuing it up for the next day’s recording. Slowly but surely I got into it, though: I wanted to know who the characters were, what their relationships were to each other, and why they seemed to be in everlasting doom. I was hooked, and I remained that way for almost six years.

It was during those years that I honed my own love writing-- and of television in general-- and though in the past few years I have become busy with productions of my own, I never forgot my love of DOOL (as we fans affectionately called it) and all of the things it gave me: a sense of family, of friendship, of love, and perhaps ironically (especially now), even of loyalty. I still watch on occasion, though my favorites have long since left, and I even did a thesis documentary in college about soap opera fan culture in which I looked specifically at this show. During my recent bout with unemployment, I would periodically check in with the show, and I must admit, it did not seem the same… but part of that might be because I am no longer a hopefully optimistic fatalist—an attitude needed to buy into the sappy writing.

Regardless of what I think of the show’s evolution, DOOL will always hold a very special place in my heart for the things it gave me during my adolescence, and I cannot even begin to tell you how sickened I was recently to hear that soaps in general, and especially my beloved DOOL, were going on-air through the WGA strike without using their regular union writers. I never thought an industry that relied so heavily on loyalty would betray their own in that way; it’s a low blow to deal to the art of storytelling in general. Soap opera fans come from all over the world, but many of them live in small towns that aren’t getting daily coverage of the strike: if you don’t live in L.A. or N.Y., you aren’t hit with the ramifications of just how important these issues are. Those fans in the Midwest or wherever are probably just happy to see their soaps remaining on-screen seemingly untouched when their primetime favorites have gone missing, but that is not the reality at all. By employing scab writers, soaps are basically telling the union they don’t need them, and in this industry of crooked, greedy power players, unions most certainly are needed. I come from the independent film world: a place where overtime is a dirty word, health benefits do not exist, and day rates are one-third what they should be for the ridiculously long hours put in. Unions are necessary to regulate all of this and ensure the hardworking Below The Line employees are not exploited.

If using scabs wasn’t enough, now Days of our Lives has announced they are not honoring the contracts of some of their already existing writers—men and women who closed their laptops on November 1st and only returned to Bob Hope Drive the following day to walk in solidarity with their brothers and sisters. If the strike really does come to an end in the next week or so, as many news outlets are speculating, these daily players still will not be returning, and these are people who work harder than any writers in the industry. Soaps are a daily event: each script holds sixty some-odd pages of pure dialogue. Yes, some of it is repetitive (how could it not be at such an intense volume?), but there is a very talented team churning out five times what a primetime program does. They deserve raises, not pink slips.

Soaps are made or broken by the fans: if there are not people to tune in religiously-- every single day—the show loses its advertising and ultimately crumbles. The fans need to stand up and take note of the injustice being done on their favorite shows right now. They need to support the behind-the-scenes players as much as they do the characters; backlash and boycotting are the only way to get these hypocritical TPTB to pay attention. Loyalty has to be earned, and if they want it from their fans, they have to set the bar and at least give it to their own people!

Friday, February 8, 2008

14.5 Minutes And Counting...

Remember the Amber Lee Ettinger (or as you probably know her), the Obama girl?

How could you not, right? Well, she was back in the news this week because Super Tuesday came and went without her casting a ballot for her main man. She has turned out to be just as bad as Paris Hilton, who paraded around the late night circuit wearing a John Kerry tee-shirt in 2004 but didn't even know who he was. Paris just thought Kitson was starting a new “let’s wear old men’s faces across our breasts” trend, and the Obama girl... well, unlike Paris, this girl can actually sing, so I don't begrudge her the time in the limelight that bloggers like me have granted her... not as much anyway.

However, after the other night's "Best of the Rest" episode, I can officially say that it took seven seasons and one creepy love triangle, but I am finally sick of American Idol indulging similar but talent-less attention-whores and inflicting upon the public their creepy little personal stories. Not only did twin brothers Chris and Corey Lane forget the words to the rap they penned themselves specifically for this audition, but they also showed up with Amy Lawing, a blonde I Know What Boys Like extra left on the cutting room floor, complete with her little Paris Hilton-esque dog. Amy dated one brother for a while but now dates the other one (please don't ask me to distinguish, they were unremarkable), and of course Simon and gang allowed her camera time, as well. She sang "Red Hot Heels," I believe, and even the dog was squirming to get out of the room by the time she was done.

Producers of American Idol, please take note: the bad singers auditions are only funny when the performers don't know they are bad. I am taking the liberty to speak on behalf of the American public and say that we are sick of mactors (though I guess since this is a "singing competition," we should call them smactors?)!!! If I see one more Idol pseudo-reject turn up on a morning show because of the exposure you give them, I am going to come down to the CBS stage with my own brand of picketing, and you best believe this writer won't merely walk softly and carry a big stick.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

On Behalf Of My Kind, I Apologize (Britney)...

A few years ago, after I literally bumped into Britney Spears, I wrote a blog about how I felt sorry for her because here she was, this young, pretty, so-so-talented girl who did not have an ounce of control over the places she went and the things she did. I wrote that I was not surprised that she would rush right out to Vegas and marry some small town dude on a whim because you can take the girl out of the small town, but you can't take the small town out of the girl (it's the same reason I think she flits around the valley now).

For a little while, I hoped Britney was growing up and taking her life back. But she was a wife and a mom for a blink of the eye, not even as long as she was a "virgin." And lately, with all of Britney's erratic behavior (is it drugs? is it love? is it mental illness? story at seven or streaming live right now TMZ!), I just see that same sad, little girl spiraling to her demise. She is lost in a world that doesn't want to help her but exploit her, and she hasn't been given the tools to handle that. Personally, I don't think any of us are really equipped to deal with that. Not when it looks like this:
Mere minutes after she checked out of UCLA, this is the chaos that ensued as she tried to make her way home. The scene looked like any police chase you'd see Fox 11 LA cover, and though I was not near a television at the time these events unfold live, I wouldn't be surprised if they cut into their regularly scheduled daytime court show programming to feed the chopper footage.One cameraman, who was able to get up close and personal with Britney through her driver's side window, asked her how it felt to be out-- indicatively implying that she had been imprisoned for a wrongful sentence. I think the expression on her face said it all-- that, just like it did for Brooks Hatlen, life on the "outside" has become overwhelming for Britney.
"If this is what my life will be outside, I want to go back."

The American public has a sick sense of humor. We are a country of overall immeasurable material wealth, and we have the morality (or lack thereof) to match. We like to watch our idols fall much more than we enjoy the ride to the top. Our media is no better, but in the end, I believe they only give us what we innately want. Tabloids sold 33% better in 2007 when there was a(nother) Britney Train Wreck story on the cover. For a little while, she was the golden child-- the innocent girl-next-door-- but that act got old fast, and she reinvented herself to stay current and remain on the radar. Unfortunately, I don't think she knew what she was getting into-- I'm not sure any of us knew what our news media would become. And sure, everyone loves to laugh and shake their heads about her antics now: in a time when we can watch our television on-demand, celebrity antics have become the new water cooler discussions. But it turned badly for Princess Diana and Anna Nicole Smith (albeit for two very different reasons), and it's only a ticking time bomb for this once-Cinderella story to end in tragedy, too.

I, for one, don’t want to wake up one morning and see that coverage plastered across my screen because I know that even if Britney’s life were to end, the exploitation would most certainly not. In fact, I think it would only intensify. Britney has always been just a product to the public, and the only way for her to get better is to show them she is a person, too. Humanize the subject, and the theory is that they'll have a harder time killing it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Wanna Go To Hawaii With Kathy And Corbin!...

Perhaps it is because networks have spent two Sweeps periods now without one stand-out new program, and at press time, the strike is still going strong, but ABC has announced they are finally bringing back The Mole after a four-year absence that left an Anderson Cooper-sized hole in my living room (though he has not signed onto the new season). This new season there will be no celebrities in the cast, and the twist will be that viewers can play along at home, ultimately upsetting the outcome from the comfort of their own... well, homes. And while I would love to say (and normally would immediately say) those home viewers will include me, I cannot make such a promise just yet.

Though it is no secret I was enthralled by a show that encouraged it's players to spy on each other and keep detailed logs about what they learned, I feel that this time around, it is not enough to simply watch the action play out in front of me. All of my life, I have been content to watch games go on from the stands-- often picking a favorite player at random (read: whoever’s the cutest) and cheering him on—but today I say no more! There are only two reality shows that I consider mainly mental shows (ones that are primarily about backstabbing and mind games and all of the usual seventh grade girl mentality, with only slight physical challenges thrown in probably just for more interesting teases): Big Brother and The Mole. I consider myself adept at handling either scenario-- though I admit living sharing close quarters with complete strangers will take me a lot of energy-- because I refuse to run but love to size people up. Those are the only two reality shows I think I'd have a decent shot at winning, but Big Brother did not want me as a part of their household... so here's to hoping ABC thinks I'd make a great Mole. I can certainly use the half million dollars!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Matchmaker, Matchmaker...

If you're like me (but I'm assuming the majority of you aren't, and that's why society is able to function), you turned in your Primary Ballot weeks ago and have spent the last few nights grumbling to yourself (or-- again if you're like me-- your dog) about the exponential influx of political ads in between acts of Law & Order or American Gladiators. If you haven't gotten around to actually voting yet because you can't bring yourself to buy a stamp, or you prefer the old-fashioned way of saying hello to the blue hairs at some random elementary school or single-family garage, there's still time, and I'll forgive you for the procrastination. However, there is no excuse if you haven't gotten around to it because you think all of the candidates are the same, and you don't know how you'll choose. The good people at KTTV have put together a short opinion poll where you rank how strongly you support or oppose certain political statements, and it ranks by compatibility based on the candidates' own voting history. For all of you who probably spent the better part of an hour creating a or JDate or even a myspace profile, you have no excuse not to take a few seconds in order to ensure the next four years of your lives will be spent with your best possible match.

I took the poll for fun, well after my ballot had already been mailed away, and oddly enough, my best match was a tie between Obama and Clinton. It may not have told me something I didn't already know, but it made me rethink the accuracy of such systems. Maybe those eHarmony commercials aren't complete bull after all!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sneaky Snake...

So, y'all know my debut novel "Stars in their Eyes" was published through a Print On Demand service back in November 2007. It is only available online right now, so unfortunately random strangers can't wander into their local Borders and/or Barnes & Noble and happen upon the cover, think it looks intriguing, and browse through it. Word of mouth through has been spreading slower than I would have liked, and up until now, the book has pretty much only sold to friends and family. I am currently saving some cash to hire a publicist to send an official, professional press release to media outlets like Entertainment Weekly, Good Day LA, and other similar ones. In the meantime, though, I have seriously considered just taking a few copies of my book into my own local Borders and/or Barnes & Noble and leaving them on the New In Fiction shelf in the hopes that it peaks the interest of a few people, and they seek out info on it through the website on the back cover.

Apparently, this is a much more common thing for self-published authors (of which there is an increasing number, too, BTW) then I ever could have imagined, as even the NY Times is reporting on instances of it. The phenomenon has been deemed "Shopdropping" and is kind of a reverse form of shoplifting. Simpler forms of it include authors putting copies of their books in front of others or even moving the displays closer to the entrance (though I have a feeling store managers can get pretty P.O.'ed about the latter). Thinking back, I often used to find books or even the occasional CD placed on a random shelf, all by its lonesome. Usually I would assume they were stragglers: one of many that just got misplaced when a customer decided halfway up to the register that he or she no longer wanted it and just discarded it wherever was most convenient. Usually they were not things I would want to purchase, either, so I never bothered to take it up to the register and inquire about it. But now I can't help but think that if I had, maybe I would have learned they had no record of the item in their system at all.

Yesterday my book went from being ranked over one million on Amazon to 155,000. I wonder first how many copies I had to sell for that to happen and also if I can double or triple the number daily just by leaving a handful around in strategic places for people to find and talk about (ultimately for free). If you live in the L.A. area, there's a good chance I'll be able to hit a book chain near you, so be on the lookout for this cover!

Friday, February 1, 2008

An Open Letter To Matt Damon...

Dearest Matty:

While I must admit I was partial to Ben during the Good Will Hunting days for his dark, brooding comedian nature, you slowly started to win me over and had me completely with your performance of "Wishin' And Hopin'" on Will & Grace and then again in Eurotrip, a movie I never would have enjoyed if not for riding the giddy high of seeing you in full punk gear rocking out to "Scotty Doesn't Know."

What I'm trying to say, Matt, is that you are at your best when there is a song of some sort involved. Why, just today you have made me a fan of Sarah Silverman-- a woman who's crassness I usually feel is too much and unwarranted to even elicit a small chuckle-- simply by agreeing to do this with her.

Thank you, Matt, for all of your amazing cinematic achievements, but most of all, thank you for being unafraid to poke a little fun at yourself and partake in some silly renditions. You are my American Idol.