Tuesday, May 12, 2009

First (Monthly?) Pop Culture Focus Group...

On a seemingly normal sunny Sunday morning, a few lucky “My Life, Made Possible By Pop Culture” readers gathered at a local Los Angeles theater for something they had only previously seen advertised as a “poor man’s Chelsea Lately roundtable.” The pop culture fans weighed in on everything from the leak of Eminem’s new album to the new VH1 shows. They laughed; they ate cupcakes; and they found they agreed…at least on most topics.

Late last week, NBC announced their new fall line-up, which was ripe with an almost surprisingly equal amount of comedy, reality, and drama and included quite a few copycat shows. Both Mercy and Trauma were picked up even though they dealt with similar themes: Mercy focuses on a group of nurses struggling to balance their personal and professional lives while Trauma is about a group of paramedic first-responders whose lives pretty much revolve on their jobs. Focus group member Caileigh Scott offered her opinions on why she thinks NBC picked up both and what she foresees for their future.

NBC also announced the pick-up of Community, the Joel McHale-helmed half-hour comedy. McHale later announced on his E! clip show, The Soup, that he would not be leaving as host. Instead, McHale will pull double-duty-- not unlike fellow E! employee Ryan Seacrest—which begged the question of whether or not he would be able to handle the workload. Elizabeth Rodriguez isn’t worried about him, though.

But at least NBC is taking the higher ground than, oh, I don’t know, say VH1 who has just premiered Daisy of Love and their newest season of Charm School (with new host Ricki Lake). Both shows exploit the sensational acts of binge drinking, b*tchslaps, and slurred interviews even more so (if that’s possible) than any of their other dating incarnations ever have. Reality TV gone too far (even for Viacom)? As focus group member Jamie Christensen pointed out, “At least on Girls Gone Wild, they give you a hat!”

Eminem’s new release, Relapse, due out on May 19 was leaked last week after fans and critics alike were already wondering if there was any room left for him in the hip-hop game. The reviews are in, and they are not good.

With the missteps of this album, even his diehard fans from the past may not stick around for the second part, which is currently set for a late fall release.

Also back in the spotlight after a few-year absence is Nia Vardalos, best known for the independent romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Though her directorial debut, I Hate Valentine’s Day, brings her back to that genre, this particular film has her portraying a woman trying to avoid marriage at all cost rather than seeking it out. The film also re-teams her with John Corbett, and perhaps surprisingly—or perhaps simply due to her over-saturation in the media of late—she is still found to be relevant.

Rumors have been flying that both original American Idol finalists Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini have songs that are being pitched for the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. Guarini’s “I Can’t Live” garnered 240,000 hits on YouTube and a campaign from his “fans?” to the producers of the movie, whereas Clarkson’s “Did You” just has lyrics that seem to fit the darker tone of the film (and "My December"). And considering that song was not featured on her last albums, her fans, including Rodriguez, are speculating. Needless to say, though, there are mixed feelings about this.

The focus group also weighed in on which of the upcoming summer movies they were most excited to see.

The morning concluded after almost two hours of chatting and laughing over shared interests and opinions on some of the hottest topics in pop culture and entertainment news. If you enjoyed this mixed media article and would like to see more of this in future columns, please leave your commentary below.


mereed3929 said...

Mixed feelings? That was a flat out trashing of a really nice guy, and super talented entertainer. I think I'll go read blogs by someone else less meanspirited. Sorry to interrupt the bash fest.

danielletbd said...

Mixed feelings in that what I found interesting was that the girls didn't seem to have a problem with Kelly on the soundtrack but Justin was a dealbreaker. You have to admit, as nice as he may be (and I can't vouch, as I've never met him), his pop sound doesn't quite fit the darker rock tones of the first "Twilight" soundtrack.