Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Like Sophie's Choice...

...except that it's really not: Vote For Jensen!

When Perfect Isn't So...

The NY Post announced today that the real life Countess and Little Miss Etiquette from Bravo's The Real Housewives of New York City is splitting from her husband of more than a decade and a half and the man who gave her the title of which she is inordinantly proud. While the season that is currently airing wrapped production months ago, surely this will be fodder for the reunion show. Countless deLesseps (ironically she always points out that she needs to be addressed by her title, but soon I'm sure she'll be relegated to just plain ole' Lu!) has spoken out to the press about being "blindsided" and "devastated," especially for her two children's sakes. Rumors are circulating that the Count has met someone else-- presumably someone younger and bronzer (if that's possible!), but the Countess, ever Miss Manners, has assured everyone they will remain friends.

As far as I was concerned, the Countess had the best personal situation out of all of the women on that show. Her husband pretty much lives in Europe and only "pops by" to New York occasionally, and seemingly only when business requires it. Sure, I could see how it would be hard on the children-- though they are teenagers and probably don't want to bother with their parents anyway-- but for me it would be the perfect living arrangement. I have always said that I am just no good in relationships unless the guy lives at least two cities over (in Los Angeles, two cities is still sometimes just a ten minute drive). I don't like having the obligation of having to spend every weekend night with my guy, and I really don't like his stuff encroaching on my space! My apartment is small (and cluttered!) enough as it is with just me and a fourteen pound dog living there!

I am already well aware that very few people share my view on relationships, let alone marriage, though. Obviously, long distance hasn't been working for these two-- nor does it work for many when it is so long term. The Countess was still reaping all of the financial perks of being married (and being married to someone so well off, too!), but being surrounded by her shiny, smiley couple friends-- especially the ones on the show with her, who seem to enjoy rubbing other people's noses in their "bliss" (ahem, SiLex, I'm wrinkling my nose disgustedly at you!)-- probably just kept reminding her of what she had only on paper. Considering the Countess never likes to let anyone see her sweat, I guess she won't be back for season three!

Monday, March 30, 2009

WMFATA: Alexis Grace...

Alexis Grace was a complete unknown when she stepped foot in front of three-- err, make that four-- very strict judges, and about thirty million even harsher critics in the comfort of their own living rooms. She was a rare American Idol hopeful, though, who actually took the judges' advice in stride when they told her to "dirty it up," even if her way to "dirty" was to just hack off her hair and stripe it with bubblegum pink. The young mother was a pixie in frame but a true force when she opened her mouth...until her "Last Chance" performance, that is, when she was so overcome with sadness her voice cracked. Needless to say, the judges didn't choose to save her (I really don't understand why during said "Last Chance" performance, the contestant has to sing the song that landed them the lowest number of votes anyway; he or she should be allowed to pick from any of the past performances to remind the judges-- and America-- why they have been around so long in the first place!) and even though hers was a whole elimination ago, it still stings.
Why My Friends Are Talking About Her: Rumors circulated the 'net two weeks ago that the final four of this eighth season of the nation's number one "singing contest" was fixed, and Grace made the cut. Shockingly, the following day, Grace was cut from the competition, and the rumors swirled again that she was only let go (and so early, too!) out of desperation to convince America that their votes really do still count. A true victim to the forced "reality" of reality TV, Grace won't even get to go on the tour, while freakshow Adam Lambert still screams on. It's a true travesty!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pay Off Or GET Off (My TV, That Is)...

There is something to be said for "the journey"-- of life, of love, of television. No one believes more than me that something is not worth doing-- or watching, as it were-- if you are not invested in the characters. Without caring about them, you cannot care about what they go through along the way to get to their predetermined "end." That being said, though, there has to be a pretty strong pay-off to do the journeys justice, too, and unfortunately, lately it appears that once-great programs are just falling short. Maybe it's just me-- because I have studied television the way a med student would pour over anatomy models, texts, and graphs-- but Lost is quite possibly the best example of all of this. A once thought-provoking, downright confusing show, Lost had fans tearing up message boards and blogs after each week's airing to find out just what was inscribed on Hurley's ring or what the poster behind Jack in his flashbacks said and how it all connected in the greater mystery of the show. This season, however (and perhaps last season, too, but I only caught the last two episodes last year, so I don't know for sure that this isn't a new occurrence), the writers and producers have promised to answer all of the great questions...only the way they have been doing so has the audience a step ahead of the show by the end of every episode. For some reason, week after week, the writers thought it would be "clever" to reveal a past character in their younger form, probably to remind everyone just how cool time travel is. But audiences-- especially Lost's audience!-- are much more savvy than they appear to be giving them credit for. We had already met Young Ben when the 1977 baby's name was revealed to be Ethan, so anyone paying attention would have already demised that there was no one else this baby could have been! The minute Young Ben delivered a sandwich to a locked-up Sayid, it was equally apparent that Sayid believe he was brought back there to kill Ben.

But you know what they say: if something is destined, you can't go into the past and change it, so though Sayid thinks he completed his task, Young Ben will probably be found "left for dead." And Sayid's actions against the boy who just trusted he would be helped will be the catalyst to turn Ben into the evil S.O.B. we knew and loathed from seasons past. But since that won't play out for a long time because they like to make everything overtly "suspenseful" and drag things out for episodes and episodes, I'm sure it will be pretty ho-hum once it is finally revealed. After all, after spending weeks and weeks imagining what it will be in your mind, very few are able to meet, let alone pass, such expectations. Just consider all of the crappy movie adaptations of fantastic books.

Maybe we should blame the internet for some of this, though-- because rumors, gossip, and spoilers spread like wildfire here!-- but Edie Britt's seemingly inevitable demise on Desperate Housewives was just plain lackluster, despite Marc Cherry's best efforts to shock (and quite literally) the residents of Wisteria Lane and the audience alike. When ABC "teased" the episode during the week leading up to the airing, they flashed through each housewife at a time when she was looking particularly vulnerable and posed the question of "Who. Will. Die?" But we already knew; in fact, we had known for weeks when everyone from Michael Ausiello to Kristin Dos Santos had been weighing in on the whys and hows. So if we tuned in, we did so to finally watch what had been promised (not through seeded plots but through tabloid reports) and see if it could live up to our wildest expectations. And it was only okay. If anything, it appeared Cherry and his merry band of writers knew what we were predicting, and instead of blowing us out of the water, they simply gave us all of the moments we speculated one on top of each other in the most OTT way. Dave did it! No, irony did it! Oh wait, you're all wrong; it was just bad luck/third time's the charm! Maybe Cherry was attempting to take the show back to its roots in camp, but it just came off feeling preposterous.


Even newb United States of Tara disappointed slightly with its first season finale. After an amazing and gut-wrenching performance by Toni Collette, who morphed from one "alter" to another effortlessly and overlappingly, we learned something that had been quite obvious since the pilot: what happened to Tara at boarding school did not cause the emergence of the alters; rather, something traumatic led up to her shipment off to boarding school-- something that had already caused the alters to start slipping out. After all, Charmaine has been whining incessantly ever since we met her that "Tara got to go to boarding school," while she had to stay at home with mom and dad and her crappy public school. The clues were all leading up to the big "click" moment, and unfortunately the show opted to make that the finale's "cliffhanger"...but these days, that is not much in the way of such a thing, and all we are left with is a feeling of not "What's next?" but instead "That's it???"
(Clip not available as episode has not screened linearly yet)

There is a very thin line these days with shows not giving enough information/investment to their audiences-- creating way more questions than they have the time or ability or interest in answering-- and giving too much too soon, to the point where audiences feel like they are being treated like slow five year olds. Personally I find the latter more infuriating: without feeling invested in the characters, I have no problems simply walking away from the show, but feeling like I'm beat over the head with things that I already know about characters I actually care about...well, that just makes me want to beat them over the head. And not in the figurative sense.

I just hope that Dean's revelation last week on Supernatural doesn't end up being that in order to save humanity, he must slay his brother...though the mano e mano fight scene would be pretty hot!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Five Cents: Was Earth Hour Worth It?...

Tonight at 8:30 pm, we were asked to "go dark" for an hour-- to turn off all non-essential lights, unplug unused appliances, and generally stay off anything running on electricity, or even really a battery, in order to spread awareness of (and hopefully put a stop to) the effects of global warming. Celebrities like Kevin Bacon, Hart Bochner, and Melissa Gilbert lent their images to PSAs leading up to the evening about the effect our general consumption has on the environment at large and how we all need to do a little bit to conserve. I eagerly signed up, figuring that if my unemployed friends during this economic recession could go without TV for 525,600 minutes in order to scrimp on bills, surely I could go without 60 to save the environment! I am here to tell you, my friends, that 60 minutes is a long time!

It is a bit sad that in this day and age our culture has become so expectant of instant gratification and constant entertainment that the simple task of "going back to basics" for a mere hour could be daunting. But it was. Oh it was! I didn't expect it to be. In fact, I went into Earth Hour excitedly, shouting it at my friends as we dispersed from a table read early in the afternoon. I looked forward to partaking in something that was guaranteed to be much bigger than me (Times Square even dimmed their lights; God forbid they would shut down the fifty foot Coca Cola completely, though, lest some tourists might buy a Pepsi instead!). At 8:25, I willingly shut down my laptop and turned off my rerun of Friends (yes, this is how this twenty-something chooses to spend a Saturday night; you read my post about having no life, right??) and got ready for whatever adventure might come my way.

But what adventure can come from sitting in the dark on your couch in your own apartment by yourself? In all honesty, I probably would have just fallen asleep, tucked comfortably under my chenille throw, except my dog decided it would be the perfect opportunity for him to come lay on my chest and lick my face. The hour ticked on, but for me it dragged by. I could hear the sounds of the outside world just across the courtyard from my own apartment-- the sounds of my neighbor watching a war movie for the fifty bajillionth time; the squint-worthy glow of the halogen lamps that dot said courtyard for added security (apparently neither my neighbor nor my apartment manager got the celeb-studded memo). And I admit, the itch to just flip open my computer and check to see if anyone commented on my Facebook song survey crept up not once, but thrice in the course of the hour.

When 9:30 finally rolled around, and I was once again "allowed" to indulge, I found that the previous hour had not made me remember all of the simpler things I once loved to do (hell, who can read in the dark? I guess I could have lit a candle, but in all honesty, after the gas leak scare I had a few weeks ago, I wasn't too keen on that whole notion). Instead, the previous hour made me realize just how reliant on technology I had come not only for information and entertainment but for just a way to pass the time. And I can't imagine I am alone in that. How many people do we see texting during a meal they are sharing with another (different) friend? How many can't watch their favorite television show without updating their Facebook status or Twitter profile to tell people that is what they are doing?

I wish Earth Hour had been a bit more widely publicized (the YouTube videos I referenced earlier averaged only about four hundred views in about a week; the clip of my dog opening presents on Christmas garnered 30,000+ in only two days!). Maybe using so many electronic resources to spread the cause would have been oxymoronic and counterintuitive, but I think the impact would have been much greater, and therefore, the event much more successful, if people realized just what they were at risk to lose if something isn't done about our energy issues. Everyone is so flippant and assumes either the damage is already irreversible so why bother or that things can't possibly get too much worse in their own lifetime, so it just isn't a priority. But the minute something they care about becomes at stake, that is when they become invested. A bunch of people I know couldn't even be bothered to do Earth Hour tonight because it would have cut into their Rock Band playing time or blending their margaritas. But I bet if they didn't have a choice-- if DWP just cut them off for an hour-- they would have been up in arms. Is that what it will take for this society to understand the importance of the issue???

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary, MC!...

I mentioned earlier this month that today is Mariah Carey's "anniversary" (well, it's her birthday, but she prefers not to look at it that way). Her fan club asked Lambs to write in with their favorite Mariah jams and why, and today the winners (along with some comments) were posted on her website. I posted my picks here, and one of my comments even made it onto her site. I'm thrilled to be a part of her special day in even that smallest capacity!



Happy "Anniversary," Mariah!




And in case you're wondering, the comment of mine they chose to publish was:

Danielle T:
Right To Dream - I am a freelance writer/producer, who ended up taking a "day job" this past year to have a steady income, health benefits, and a 401k for once. All year I fought with myself because I knew I was "settling" and I wasn't doing what I really wanted to do. Then "Right To Dream" dropped, and once again I was reminded that it is okay to be an artist and a dreamer.

We May Have Left Our Past Behind Us, But We Will Never Forget...

It's a trip down memory lane in 30 Rock's newest episode, "Apollo Apollo." First Dennis Duffy returns to "atone" to Liz for his past behavior, citing the fact that he has recently self-diagnosed as a sex addict and probably just didn't know what he was doing, and then Jack's mother sends him a box of his childhood memories-- including home movies!-- for his birthday. Well, not entirely for his birthday; she also just needed the space in the garage. Nonetheless, it sends both spiraling down the rabbithole that was their craptastic pasts in order to make way for what will hopefully be only fun and free futures. Liz was even planning on going for a run today! Which, if nothing else, caused plenty of chuckles from characters and viewers alike.

Since Jenna is otherwise engaged-- getting a wire lesson from a hot stuntman-- Liz answers her cell phone when it rings, only to find Dennis on the other end, making the same atonement he made to her only two scenes before! Liz dons an oddly British accent to impersonate Jenna, and Dennis just keeps talking, not noticing anything is different. He says he would have come down there in person, too, but considering he was the "love of Liz' life," he doesn't think she could have handled that.

Dennis says he doesn't want this to hurt Liz and Jenna's friendship, and Liz is determined not to let it. After all, how many times have we seen a guy come between two NBC sitcom stars??? They decide to team up to show Dennis that he can't get away with being so pompous as to think he actually means something to them, let alone more than their fifteen-year relationship with each other...though they do differ on the method, as Liz wants to give him a piece of her mind, and Jenna wants to stab him. I gotta say, after the faulty bookshelves, the To Catch A Predator experience, and the attempt at pushing Liz in front of an oncoming train just so he could "save" her, I'm with Jenna on this one!

Confronting Dennis proves to be a bad idea, though, as Liz learns that Dennis and Jenna slept together while she was supposedly still with him, even though she was physically in Arizona on an adult outward bound trip. Liz holds her ground, saying there is nothing he could do to hurt her or the friendship, but then he pulls the Wild Card! "It was in your bed," about which she is repulsed because she "eat[s] in there!" And the next time Jenna is up on the wire, when Liz notices her harness is not secured, she doesn't say anything and instead just lets her fall into the doghouse. Wordplay!

Tracy, meanwhile, has given a press conference, with the consent of no one, stating that he would like to go into space. When he was a little boy, growing up in the projects, he would look up at the stars and dream of going up there and "...killing an Ewok." Jack understands, having just been forced to reflect on his own childhood dreams (which he read aloud from an old sheet of notebook paper, and which included gems like "live in a house with stairs," "ride in an airplane," and "kiss Peggy Fleming"). He decides not to crush Tracy's dreams, so he tells Liz to use her "TV magic" and fake a space launch...which is pretty much what my dad thinks the moon landing was all about anyway. Of course, she gets Pete and the rest of her staff right on it.

At just under halfway through the episode, though, things take a mighty surprising turn as all of a sudden Muppet Jack breaks out into a few bars of a song about how Kenneth, who is still reeling from his own "birthday loot" of a bobble-head keychain, "is pretty special" to see the world through such rose-colored glasses (metaphorically, of course). "Muppet Jack," however, is not a metaphor, but an actual puppet we see standing in front of Kenneth, because suddenly we are seeing through his eyes. It's the best four-point-five seconds of this show ever, and I wish I had screencap software for it!! It is also when Jack realizes he has already surpassed his wildest dreams and now just has a big house full of material goods from business associates to show for it. He gets Adam West to appear at his party, but Adam gets his name wrong, and suddenly, Kenneth's world looks even better, even to him!

Liz arrives at Jack's after he has kicked everyone out and is just staring at a freezeframe of himself at six years old on one of the home movies. He wonders what happened to that happy little tyke and how he can get it back. He tries to figure out what was in the box that six year old Jack received for his birthday that made him so happy; he goes so far as to call in the kid who gave him the gift (who thinks it is a job interview) and then a deaf woman (who also thinks it is a job interview) to read six year old Jack's lips on the no audio DVD. He also mentions Benjamin Button-ing himself, to which Liz exclaims: "We're not meeting in the middle!" But personally, I think it would be more productive to just have her use her "TV magic" to take him on a fake journey back in time to relive his youth.

When Jack reveals that the toy that made him so happy was a model of the Apollo command and lunar module, which he pays seven thousand dollars to get back from a vintage toystore, everything comes full circle. He and Kenneth Skype chat with Tracy, who is "in space," and though Jack says it might be nice to see the world how Tracy does (where everyone looks exactly like Tracy and agrees with everything he says), he just can't help how he has grown to see things (with dollar amounts chyroned over them). Jack leaves the rocket in Kenneth's hands, but surprisingly enough, he doesn't do anything to it to make it go off and alert Tracy to the fact that he is merely on the TGS soundstage. So those two get to spend another day in blissful ignorance.

In order to allow Jenna to "get even" with her for letting her fall twenty feet to a sprained ankle-- her way of getting even with Jenna for sleeping with Dennis-- Liz allows her to tell the TGS staff about the "urban single chat line" commercial she did when she was still trying to make it as an actor in Chicago. In four-point-five seconds, Frank locates it on YouTube, and everyone erupts in laughter at twenty-something Liz with her Billie Jean King hair and lipstick on her snaggletooth trying to be "sexy." Jack in particular turns red and begins to retch, finding what he thought was lost: the place where he is so happy he pukes.

Best lines of the night:

Jack: "Tracy, listen, you cannot go into space. Your contract expressly prohibits dangerous activities, like extreme sports or riding the subway on St. Patrick's Day!"

Jenna: "First of all, the reason I have some English inflection in my speech is because I lost my virginity to the My Fair Lady soundtrack."

Jack: "The closest I came to vomiting tonight was when I saw Ann Coulter's shoulderblades."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pop Culture Priorities...

I somehow got tricked into helping my friend Kiki move recently (I was lured there with the promise of endless Coldstone cupcakes), and as her son was on his second leg of his Guitar Hero World Tour in the living room, I climbed into the seemingly backless abyss that was her master closet, pulling out shoebox after shoebox for her to load by the half dozen into slightly larger cartons. As I slid the tenth or so across the floor to her, it suddenly dawned on me that I had never seen her wear so many pairs of shoes.

When I said as much aloud, though, Kiki just looked up at me as she tossed the next box in with the rest and told me that what I was handling without so much care were not actually Jimmy Choos or Donald Pliners or from Nine West. Instead, the contents of the boxes were worth a lot more—on a sentimental level. The boxes were her boyfriend boxes. Why I didn’t notice the guys’ names in Sharpie scrawl across the sides of the boxes in the first place, I don’t know.

Suddenly I flashed back: I had been here and done all of this before. It was a few years earlier, in a different part of town, and with a friend from college instead of the one who stood before me now. Only when we unearthed her boyfriend box that afternoon, she took one look at it, plucked a stuffed dog from its bowels, and told me to take the rest of it out to the trash.

“You know,” I laughed at her, “you don’t have to do everything Rory Gilmore does.”

Considering my friend from college’s boyfriend had dumped her for someone he had started seeing while she was away on business, she was not amused by my comparison, though. She handed the stuffed dog to my own new puppy, who happily abandoned sniffing the ball of old jeans crumpled on the floor of her closet in favor of gnawing on it’s head. Looking more pleased by this than she probably should have, my friend from college once again just told me to get rid of the box. I shrugged, and since I was not her mother or a person with spare storage space, I obliged.

“Be careful with that one,” Kiki’s voice snapped me back to present day, and I glanced down at the brown Ugg boot box in my hands. “It holds breakables.”

Instead of soft suede and sheepskin boots, the box that had “Will” written on the side held about half a dozen small Kim Anderson figurines wrapped in paper towels. There was a little boy popping out of a trashcan holding a bouquet of roses, a little boy and a little girl sharing a milkshake, a little girl in a sunhat holding a giant heart, and a few more that were damn near identical. I raised my eyebrow and caught her eye. “Will” was the guy who broke up with her because he realized he was gay.

Looking at the mountain of boxes that littered Kiki’s bedroom floor, I couldn’t help but think that my friend from college had the right idea after all. After a break-up, isn’t it best to purge one’s self of all of the things that remind you of the person who no longer takes up half your comforter or uses his socks to wipe up spills in the kitchen (true story)? But here Kiki was, not only holding onto old mementos of relationships she had no hope of (or interest in) rekindling but also asking me to help schlep them over the hill to her new house. A house, I might add, that held no emotional tie to anything in her past and would only serve as the setting of many future (and hopefully happy) memories; why would she want to taint it with the remnants of once-deep connections that are now reduced to nothing more than a seven by nine capsule of time?

And just how far back would these boxes go? Did Kiki have the “Do you like me? Check yes or no” notes from elementary school or the piece of gum that got stuck to her retainer when she had her first kiss during a game of Spin The Bottle in sixth grade (“never happened”)? Did she tuck the engagement ring from the last guy neatly alongside the restraining order she had to take out on him in end??

When I went home that night, still shaking my head at the ridiculousness that people hold onto (if you spend your time looking at old photos and trinkets and reminiscing, you’re missing out on new experiences and memories you could be making by living in the moment!), I yanked open my own closet only to have a box slide off the top shelf and practically crash into my face like an unruly bobsled. The lid sailed off in mid-air, and the contents of this dusty photo box bounced swiftly onto the carpet, including a Playbill from the first time I ever saw RENT on Broadway, a copy of the very first soap opera magazine I ever bought, a shot glass from my first trip to Vegas, when I filmed a behind-the-scenes at Cirque Du Soleil, the postcard on which Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen misspelled my name when they were signing autographs at FAO Schwartz (to be fair, they were only six, and technically my name is French), etc etc etc. It was my very own memory box of sorts-- only the items inside were not tied to memories of past boyfriends but instead important moments of pop culture in my life. Figures, right??

I sat down, cross-legged on the floor, and for the next hour or so began to do exactly what I had been mercilessly teasing my friend about only hours prior. I poured over each and every piece of my history with an ever-growing smile on my face as each one brought me back to a different time and place. There was the back to the director’s chair that my mother bought me when I directed my first play in high school; it had my name and “Director” in white embroidered script on the faded black fabric. There was the Polly Pocket I used to carry in my purse when I went to my mother’s office on school holidays—the one that she had bought me for my birthday in second grade but that I received a duplicate of the following month when one of my friends passed out the toy as a party favor for her own birthday party. There was the ID badge that marked me as a member of the Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show staff, granted me access to the NBC commissary, and still got me free parking at Citywalk.

All of a sudden, I had to wonder what the hell it said about me, then, that I was more interested in keeping a Pocket Mr. T (a keychain with six pre-programmed catchphrases from Mr. T—something my friend stole from the audience giveaway closet at On-Air With Ryan Seacrest when we worked there) and some random clippings from Entertainment Weekly than photos of the kids with whom I spent my formative years. After all, I had just spent the day slapped in the face with my friend’s past conquests, which were all actually her own, and I was slowly realizing just awesomely askew my own priorities may have been. Hell, I was in the middle of this blog when I looked up to see my cable box read “8:02” p.m., and I shrieked “Idol!” and promptly closed the lid of my laptop, losing my rhythm in the piece and not caring one iota. Yup, I know what’s important in life!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blowing The Doors Right Off Reality TV!...

Exposed!: Kris Allen from American Idol and Ryan Conklin from The Real World: Brooklyn are the same person!




An Open Letter To TBTB Of The "Arrested Development" Movie...

Please hire me.

See my credits here.

I am willing to copy scripts, get your coffees, sweep up the soundstage, pick the green M&Ms out of your bags, whatever really. You're all fabulous, and I can't think of an upcoming film I'd like to be involved in at all, let alone as much as this one.

So excited!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

We Are Such Nerds...

I admit it. I Tweet. Mostly as a way to drive traffic up at this website, but every now and then I'll post a random thought from my day or celebrity sighting or what I'm currently working on... But I still loathe it. And this pretty much explains why:

MMFATA: Joel Gretsch...

Okay, so I missed a week with this column last Monday in an attempt to stay away from the internet and focus my attention instead on my next novel. It didn't go so well. Apparently when I procrastinate my fictional writing, I find ample inspiration for my editorials. In that time, I also cut myself off from networking events and dinners or comedy club appearances with friends in order to finish a draft of said novel by...well, today, actually. That worked a little better. Unfortunately in doing so, I couldn't pose the very question of just "who are you talking about" to my friends, so today I will be a bit self-indulgent and just pick someone I am talking about: Joel Gretsch.
Gretsch became known to be through his somewhat tortured (after all his son had just come out of a coma on the show), somewhat serious (then his new wife went missing-- just disappeared into thin air), but always gripping performance on USA's The 4400, a series which I feel sadly never got proper closure. It was the Lost of basic cable, playing with jumps through time before J.J.Abrams ever revealed that was the "truth" of his island. Gretsch has also starred in, what I thought was an exceptionally clever film, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, and Women's Murder Club, which was significantly lower in quality, but between him and Rob Estes, I still had enough eye-candy to tune in! Gretsch has always reminded me of the ridiculously blue-eyed Mark Valley (Fringe), which boded well for him even if I hated all of his work, simply because Valley was the first Jack Deveraux (Days of our Lives) I ever knew.

Why My Friends-- err, okay, I Am Talking About Him: Gretsch just popped up in Showtime's enjoyable new multi-personality series The United States of Tara, playing a serious but sometimes seemingly flirty doctor that Tara visits to try to get to the bottom of the reason for her alters. It was a surprise to see him on there, as he does not yet appear to have the clout behind his name to warrant casting blips on entertaiment news magazines when he gets roles such as this (though considering I write for quite a few of those right now, that might begin to change!), and I literally exclaimed his name aloud with glee when I first saw him in his white lab coat. Dr. Handsome!! Also, I just find it ironic and a bit funny that he is married to William Shatner's daughter Melanie while Mark Valley starred with William Shatner in Boston Legal. I wonder if Shatner, in his seemingly limited capacities, ever mixed the two men up and called them by the wrong name...

(Oh and in case you're wondering where the female counterpart is this week, I've decided to alternate and will post only one article per week, on a rotating basis. So check back next Monday to see another installment in the Women My Friends Are Talking About series.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why I'm Agro Today: Stop Ruining My Show(s)...

I apologize in advance to all of the Supernatural fans I am about to offend. I have been one of you for quite some time now, and what I loved most about the show (after Jensen, of course) was how each week the guys would travel to some other little run of the mill town in Anywhere U.S.A. and research and then fight (with good ole fashioned hand to hand combat and some fancy knife work) a different demon. I enjoyed watching seemingly regular people learn there was something greater than them out there. This season, however, the story has gone the way of Angels Vs Demons, and last night's episode ("On The Head Of A Pin") just crossed the "ridiculous" threshold, if you ask me! Apparently, an angel can "convert" another angel to work for the dark side!?!? WTF??

Okay, look, I'm not a religious person by any means. I spent about a year of my life reading every religious text on which I could get my hands to figure out which one I believed in, and I found that none of them made much sense to me. I do consider myself spiritual, though, and I'm willing to suspend my disbelief to consider the fact that there could be angels walking among us, if not just watching over us. But angels are not human-- that is something every religion, and I as well, can agree on. And because angels are not human, they do not have those "shades of gray," as you were: things are either good or bad to them, moral or immoral. Angels are inherently good-- that is something every religion I researched taught me-- and therefore they cannot be converted. Supernatural has always stayed very true to the lore it explores week after week, so where did they drop the ball this time?

I can only assume they took such "creative license" because they are gearing up to set Misha Collins (Castiel, the Arch Angel) up for a spin-off when the show comes to an end, if the producers get their way, at the end of the fifth season. After all, it's the only way I can explain all of the screen time he has been getting-- screen time without his supposed mentee, so to speak, Dean Winchester-- screen time which no other guest star, recurring or otherwise, has been granted. Not even Papa Winchester. I like Collins, don't get me wrong, but this isn't the show I signed up for.

They have also severely strayed from the classic rock soundtrack they worked so hard to establish through the past three years.

I just can't help but think that if Kim Manners was still alive, none of this would be happening :(

We All Live In Our Own World...

If you've been tuning into 30 Rock for the eye-candy, sadly last night was your last chance, as the inevitable demise of Liz and Dr. Drew (Jon Hamm) that we were all waiting for from the seemingly shocking start to their relationship finally (and funnily!) occurred. Liz begins to take note of-- and not be captivated by-- just how easily Dr. Drew skates by because he is good looking. Random women on the street come up to him and tell him he looks nice, meter maids rip up tickets right in front of him, he gets seated at Plunder even during the lunch rush, and Calvin Klein offers him a job as an underwear model. He lives in his own little good-looking bubble.
Jack advises Liz to stay in there with Dr. Drew while he is still in the bubble and enjoy-- stop harping on-- the perks while she can. Because the bubble doesn't last forever. He shows her a photo of himself in his twenties to prove his point. Sadly we don't get to see a young, dark-haired Alec Baldwin's head superimposed on Gabriel Aubry's body, but Liz makes the point for us: even Jack's eyes aren't as blue now as they used to be.

But as much as Liz might like free food sent to her table when dining with Dr. Drew, she very quickly realizes that there is much more bad to livig in "The Bubble" than good. He cooks with orange gatorade, is "as bad at sex as [she] is," and doesn't even know the Heimlich manuever. Liz begins to suspect everything he has was given, rather than earned, and the worst part is that he has no idea he actually sucks at life. She believes he is just a victim of society's "obscene cult of superficiality" and is determined to tell him the truth.

Tracy's contract is up after three cuh-razy years at TGS, and Jack knows that people who are above money (apparently Tracy invested all of his videogame money into a company that dismantles bank signs, and with the current state of the economy, that is perhaps the one company that is thriving) care more about the relationships in their lives. He is not worried Tracy will leave because they share a special bond. Funny, I don't remember seeing Jack eat dinner over at Tracy's mom's house! Jack offers Tracy the terms of his existing contract plus a three percent increase and because Tracy thinks TGS is better than a family (because no one around there asks him to donate marrow), he agrees with only a slight hesitation...and only then because he "was thinking about how weird it is that we eat birds." The second Jack points out that this isn't about money because Tracy doesn't really need to work, though, he quits. Living in a bubble of his own, he had never thought about it that way before.

Jack tries to get him back through wooing him with phone calls from his teen idols (Bill Cosby, really just some dude who works for GE and is good at impressions, and Billy Dee Williams, whose voice Jack does himself). It backfires because apparently Bill Cosby wronged Tracy's "aunt with the droopy eye." Then he tries enlisting Tracy's kids to help him "fix this. Liz can't believe he is trying to hide his screw-up from her for a change.

Jack finally goes to Kenneth, who is really the only one with insight into anyone over at the TGS set because he does everything for everyone. In fact, even though Tracy quit, Kenneth is still doing things for him, like riding his bike to his house "to hold his hand during Lost." He is the ace in the hole, and Jack prepares to dangle Kenneth in front of Tracy just as he dangled Kenneth in front of Devon...just in a non-sexual way this time. Assumedly.

Liz takes Dr. Drew to a restaurant with a forty-five minute wait for a table. What he wants is not on the menu, so she tries to order it anyway, and the waitress tells her she will slap the glasses off her face if she tries to make up dishes again. She literally says that. It is New York, after all. There is no complimentary appetizer sampler on the table, either, so Dr. Drew begins to get uncomfortable, like he has entered bizarro world. She has to sit him down--well, technically he is already seated-- and explain that "this is how most people live." Okay, grant it, not everyone can have footage of them used to create one of the Disney Princes, but not everyone is as walking disaster as Liz. Most people are somewhere in between. She doesn't think to mention that, though.

Liz bursts Dr. Drew's bubble, and he tells her he doesn't want to live that way, and she should be honest with him because he can take it. But naturally, he can't. They play one game of tennis where she doesn't let him win, and he becomes the spoiled child who suddenly had his pony stolen from him and stomps his feet and calls her a B word.

Jenna, jealous again (she is becoming a bit one-note...unlike her singing, ba-dum-bum) over the attention Tracy is getting from the media decides to go on The Today Show and cut off all of her hair for charity. Those are not two mutually exclusive things: she plans to have her hair chopped off on national, live television. Cue the obligatory guest star (Meredith Viera)! Cue the cuh-razy on-air meltdown when Mere V. tells Jenna that Tracy quit and she is the only star left. Suddenly she "doesn't need this anymore" and springs up, surprisingly not losing an embarrassing or unfixable amount of hair. Her charity will get screwed, but that will probably only bring her more publicity. If only it wasn't obvious that Tracy was going to come back within the next five minutes, things might actually be turning around for Jenna!

Kenneth's main job is taking care of Tracy, so if Tracy is around, there will be no need for Kenneth anymore. Tracy can't allow his main man to get fired, so he agrees to come back. Dr. Drew goes back to Liz and tells her he wants to stay in the bubble, but he wants her there with him. She can't do it because he uses the word "ironically" wrong (probably in that Alanis Morissette sort of way), wants to go upstate on a motorcycle he certainly doesn't know how to ride, and speaks made-up French. So she breaks up with him. Huh. Didn't see that one coming. Maybe our little Liz is not only growing up but beginning to think outside her own little bubble.

Best lines of the night:

Jack: "Tracy and I have become quite close. Look, we got BFF bracelets."
Liz: "You guys are best friends forever?"
Jack: "That's not what that stands for."

Kenneth: "But why would you want to cut your hair? You look exactly as I imagine Mary Magadalene to be."
Jenna: "Thank you, but I am a self-less person who can't get arrested in this town!"
Pete: "I already explained that: that was a police sketch of a flasher who happened to look like Tracy...we hope."

Tracy Jr: "Thanks to you, I now have an unemployed father. Are you trying to make a stereotype out of me? Did you even vote for Obama!??"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

If These Charts Were In My History Texts, I Would Have Actually Read Them!...

In my never-ending quest to find new forms of entertainment at my desk at "the corporation," I have stumbled upon producer, writer, and director Dan Meth's website, which is filled to the brim with awesome pop culture musings. He must have even more time on his hands at his day job than I do (or perhaps he is of the lucky few who doesn't need a day job, even in this economy) because he has begun posting pop culture charts. He has one for movie trilogies, sitcom houses, and my personal favorite: the geography of the sitcom.
I plan to shoot him an email soon with a few suggestions of charts/drawings to post next! I'd love to see some sort of job chart because I have noticed that a lot of sitcom characters end up doing the same crappy menial gigs (Do you think Rachel from Friends was the first waitress? You'd be wrong! Women in the workplace comedies may have started with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but look how they evolved through Murphy Brown, Veronica's Closet, Just Shoot Me... even Robin on How I Met Your Mother could fall into that category!). What are your suggestions?

An Open Letter To Publishing Houses Everywhere...

To Whom It May Concern:

At the age of twenty-five, DanielleTBD is a romantic, a dreamer, a skeptic, a cynic, and still holding out the hope that she will find a real life Zack Morris.

Despite growing up in a household that only featured the seven-channel options of rabbit ears’ television, DanielleTBD still managed to spend the better part of the 1990s learning her life lessons by watching fictional characters experience them. Using Zack & Kelly, Jesse & Rebecca, and Monica & Chandler as her guides for what strong, successful couples were supposed to look like, she set out, perhaps a bit misguided, to find a suitor of her own that would fit nicely into the mold countless sitcoms carved out for her. But something went horribly awry, and she was forced to come to terms with the fact that all she looked to when she was a child to tell her what her real life could be was, in fact, only relevant in for a reel life. Hundreds of actors auditioned for the role of Zack Morris, after all, but only one got it; that should have told her something about the kinds of guys who would cross her path.

Spanning the course of my formative years to present day, My Life, Made Possible By Pop Culture” is a 58,085 word autobiographical essay compilation with a target audience of women 18-45 that is currently searching for a home. Will it be with your publishing house?? A sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic (depending on where you are coming from in life) emotional journey, My Life, Made Possible By Pop Culture is written in the vein of Cindy Guidry or Sloane Crosby. It is my attempt to explain how the great influence of pop culture affected my relationships and beg the question of whether we’re doing young girls any favors by setting such unrealistic expectations through fictional characters and couples.

My Life, Made Possibleis a true tale, though it is a cautionary one.

A freelance Writer and Producer living in Los Angeles, I self-published my first novel, Stars in their Eyes,” in November 2007 and currently contribute to various online entertainment magazines, including Starpulse.com and “I Am That Girl,” in addition to keeping this pop culture blog, on which this book is based. I attended the University of Southern California, obtaining a B.A. in their rigorous Cinema-Television program in only three years, all while simultaneously interning in the television industry with programs like Good Day LA and Ellen: The Ellen Degeneres Show.

I would be honored to send you my manuscript, or even just the first few chapters, for your consideration. Thank you very much in advance for the consideration, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ponderings...

- How much do you think tonight's elimination on American Idol had to do with the producers desperately trying to prove the Final Four Scandal was nothing but a vicious rumor?

- If you could go back in time ala the Oceanic Six, how would you "play Nostradamus," as it were? I would patent the shit out of stuff, but mostly I would just be sure to send my manuscripts and screenplays into agencies when I first wrote them. I'm sick of getting "where were you five years ago?" and seeing ideas similar to mine get made first.

- What are the odds NBC decided to put The Philanthropist on this summer because they figured all of their viewers would assume it's just another reality show? With a title that begs the memory of The Benefactor (only now with charity!), how can they not?

- What movie of Natasha Richardson's will you watch to remember and honor her expansive career? The only one I own is The Parent Trap, so I guess I'll go with that, but it really doesn't do her justice...

...And on a side note: Natasha Richardson passed away from complications with a head injury she obtained while skiing. She was on life support (according to the reports I heard anyway), but she was brain dead, and I guess her family decided not to prolong the suffering. I don't know if it's some kind of irony, God's cruel joke, or just a really weird coincidence, but today my British/actor neighbor attempted suicide, too distraught over the death of his own wife eight months ago to go on. His own wife was and actress/writer/model who was pronounced brain dead and on life support after a bad motorcycle accident. My heart and thoughts go out to the families-- Natasha's and his-- and hope that they seek the grief counseling and support they need to get through this seemingly unbearable time.

WWATN: The Little Rascals Grew Up...

In 1994 I convinced my mother to take me to the movies to see the big screen adaptation of a classic television series about a He-Man Womun Hater's Club and the rosy-cheeked members who founded it. I admit that I mostly wanted to see it because I heard the Olsen twins were going to have a cameo (and they did), but I was enraptured nonetheless. The Little Rascals was funny, heartwarming, and it was all done with kids younger than me. Sure some of them delivered choppy lines, and others couldn't help but look at the camera, but all of those things made the film even more endearing, in my opinion. Now, a decade and a half later, I can't help but wonder whatever happened to the stars of that film.

The Little Rascals featured an ensemble cast of ne'er-before-seen toothless faces, as if the casting director had just pulled up to a random San Fernando Valley elementary school and knocked on the door of a second grade classroom with a "surprise" project on which for them to embark. Since the kids hadn't grown up in Gerber or Pampers commercials, there was a very "real" quality to the film, but few thought any of them would work again.

One of the stars who caught the acting bug, so to speak, after filming his lead role as the knobby-kneed, cowlick-afflicted Alfalfa Switzer was Bug Hall, though. Hall acted in about one or two projects a year since his '94 debut, becoming known for being one of The Stupids' kids in the feature film of the same name in 1996, but puberty hit him hard and transformed him into a young man quickly. He began making the rounds on CBS crime scene dramas starting a decade later to prove he had the chops to make it as a serious, adult actor and was barely recognizable when he was featured in an episode of Cold Case back in 2005. Now he is promoting the upcoming boot camp flick Camouflage.

Travis Tedford, Alfalfa's BFF Spanky, on the other hand, went the way of voice-overs after his first acting role shot him to literal overnight child star status. He is credited on A Bug's Life, as well as the hit Saturday morning cartoon Recess. Though he appeared on a few episodes of Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show, Tedford's credits seemed to come to a grinding halt in 2002, presumably so he could attend high school in peace. 2009 must be the year for these kids to come back, though, because he also has a project coming out by the end of the year, The Final, about a group of outcasts getting revenge on the students that tormented them. It is not clear, though, if Tedford plays one of the outcasts or if he goes the way of Butch and/or Woim and portrays one of the bullies.

Brittany Ashton Holmes, the girl who came between two best friends in The Little Rascals, appeared in a couple of television shows (you can literally count how many on one hand) after her breakout role as Darla. She appears to be one of those kids who can look back on her childhood job as "that thing I did that one time," though, rather than a career. These days it appears she is just your typical California teenager, dividing her time between the beach, the mall, MySpace, Flixster, Facebook, and probably even Twitter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bravo's The Real Housewives: Party Of Five?...

Admittedly, I tuned into Bravo's The Real Housewives series a bit late, happening to catch a marathon of ...New York City just before ...Atlanta premiered. I also admit that I went in with certain preconceived notions of the women and of the formula, but I found I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps it is because I am from New York originally, so I just innately understand and gravitate towards women who would rather have it out with each other face to face than whisper cattily behind backs, but The Real Housewives of New York City just seemed to be...well, the real-est of all.

Put it this way: this past weekend, when I interviewed Bethenny Frankel for the release of her new book, I asked her if she had any tips for women during this economic downturn. After all, the Real Housewives series focuses on the rather lavish lifestyles that these women are privileged enough to lead, but even they are not immune during a recession (Alex McCord, another New York City housewife was recently let go from her high-powered position at Victoria's Secret). Frankel proved she got to her powerful position, though, but eagerly offering me tips to share with my readers-- something which I suspect at least one (and see below to know to whom I am referring) ...O.C. housewife never would have been caught dead doing.

Frankel admitted she does "a lot of shopping on eBay, and I rarely pay full price...A great tailor is also key. You can pull something out of the back of your closet, and for a hundred bucks have a whole new outfit created." Frankel had tons of helpful tips, whereas I can only imagine that said certain ...O.C. housewife would have just scoffed and snubbed her nose-- or began to "woe is me" whine that she could only buy one new Cartier bracelet instead of both of the ones she wanted (hint: this Housewife just received a $25,000 tennis bracelet from her husband on her birthday. No, that was not a typo with the number of zeroes. He paid more for something on her arm than I did for my brand new car. But then again, he pays much more to keep her on his arm than most of us pay out necessities for the whole year. Priorities; priorities. But I digress).

I began watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta right from the get-go, enthralled with the lives but also the characters of the ones who had come before them and hoping for more (but slightly "bigger") of the same. And Scott Dunlop did not dissapoint! The claws on ...Atlanta came out quick and long, even if they were perfectly manicured claws with big glittering diamonds on the other ends of the fingers. The ladies-- and I use that term perhaps a bit loosely-- of The Real Housewives of Atlanta were not nearly as classy as those of the New York season, but the drama they brought was perhaps the most fun to watch because of that. It was a train wreck, but a loveable one at that.

I quickly found that the original ...O.C. fell somewhere in between the two spin-offs, featuring some women who were just out to tear the others down (Tamra, I'm looking through my own Chanel shades at you!) and others who were actually self-made and seemed to raise down-to-Earth children with good values (Vicki, you get the gold star yet again!). But now Bravo has officially announced the start date (May 12) for their fourth installment of the series, ...New Jersey, which will undoubtedly follow in the footsteps of ...Atlanta and not its bridge buddy, ...New York City. Why? Well, for ratings, I'm sure! It is no secret that The Real Housewives of New York City is the lowest rated of the series, despite it being on its second season; ...Atlanta trumped it just about mid-way through its ridiculously short seven episode season! Calling women out on bad weaves, adulterous affairs, and falsified connections seems to be the kind of juice viewers are looking for. Besides, have any of you actually ever been to Jersey? Big hair, curly-Q nails, nasal accents...they might as well have set it in Long Island, so how else can they set it apart from ...New York City (where any self-respecting Jersey woman spends most of her time anyway!) if they're not going to rely on tackiness and catfights? As Ashley from Tool Academy (VH1) said: "Come on down here, and I'll show you how we do it in Jersey, b*tch!"

So with spin-offs and copycats galore, I would like to take this opportunity to pitch a new city-- well, area, really-- to Mr. Dunlop and Bravo TV: The Real Housewives of the San Fernando Valley. Yes, SFV is the porn capital of the country, but being just over the hill from L.A. there are plenty of wealthy wives of producers, directors, and actors who have ample time on their hands to just sit around at Coffee Beans, hit Westfield Topanga Canyon, or try to get on the list for every A (and even some B and C) List industry events and premieres. Some of them probably even do charity work-- at least of the celebrity variety. Sure, it would probably come off as seeming more like a spoof than just another installment, but really, in so many ways, so did ...Atlanta...and I'm sure so will ...Jersey. I'll let you know for sure, though, because I, of course, plan to tune in come May!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Stars In MY Eyes...

I don’t particularly consider myself a modern woman-- not by the post-millenial, Sex and the City standards anyway. I think it’s quite obvious by all of the stories I have shared thus far that I have been somewhat stunted emotionally by some not-so realistic examples and therefore left wishing for a different, perhaps earlier, time in which to be living and working. So being somewhat of a self-proclaimed “old soul,” I never thought I would find myself connecting with, let alone quoting, Candace Bushnell. But yet after one particular late morning-turned late evening trip to the beach, where I almost ashamedly picked up “One Fifth” to tide me over while faced with the throes of the happy-Frisbee-throwing families that surrounded me, I found myself nodding in unison with a lot of her points, and I began to consider the book, or at least a specific part of the book, my sixth sign in almost as many days that I had to get off my ass and really make something happen for myself—to change the life I lead and make it the one which I want to lead.

“Pay him a decent salary and work him hard. That way he won’t have enough time to write anything on the side. But don’t pay him so much that he can save up money and quit. Give him insurance and benefits. Turn him into a corporate drone, and you’ll never have to worry about him again,” Bushnell writes, as one character bemoans to another that she can’t seem to get a certain gossip blogger off her back. The woman wants a way to get him off her case and out of her personal business, and the other woman’s advice is to simply hire him and bribe him with all of the comforts that writers usually don’t come by. It is a subtle way to slowly suck the life out of someone who prides his or herself on being an artist.

But the thing is: that should only work with someone who is not a true artist but instead is just looking to get rich and famous and feel validated by complete and total strangers. And that someone is not me.

A friend and the wisest woman I know (who just happens to be an actor—go figure) once said something that, during a particularly arduous time right after I graduated from college and was having trouble finding a job, I hung, post-card sized, in the shadowbox next to my kitchen with the hope that seeing it every morning would make it easily translate into my mantra: “If you’re just doing it for the money, don’t do it; it’s not going to make you happy.” It’s something I have strove to breathe in and out everyday as my own personal affirmation. Life is just too short to deal with @$holes who don’t pay you, and even they have limits! Who needs to spend hundreds of dollars an hour on a shrink when you have classics like that at your beck and call?? I subscribe to the Samantha Spade (from Without A Trace) “friendship is like therapy for poor people” way of thinking in my own life anyway!

This same friend and I have had lengthy conversations on the differences between art and business in our shared industry, and she is always quick to point out that there is a very great gap between wanting to do what we do because we love it and wanting to just become famous. So many (ourselves admittedly included) move out to Los Angeles with Stars in their Eyes, seeking the validation fame will bring-- validation that we probably wouldn’t need if we had gotten it as a child. It is easy to get sucked up into the glitzy, glamorous world that is Los Angeles, then; after all, this town makes its name and its money on those smoke and mirror acts.

I admit that for awhile, I got sucked up in it, too, focusing on the celebrities I was meeting, interviewing, and working with, and it has been slow to get back on the right track and focused on what I really want-- and need-- to be doing. But I'm getting there, little by little, making some sacrifices along the way to make up for the time I have wasted in between. And one such sacrifice is coming into play now: in an effort to write the last hundred pages of my latest novel by the end of the week so I have a solid draft to give to said friend before she leaves on a business trip, during which she will have ample time on the plane to make notes and edits, I am forgoing this blog for the next five or so days. It may sound like a crazy plan, but if I want to start seeing some big checks from my writing by the end of the year, I feel like this is something I have to do.

Friday, March 13, 2009

AMERICAN IDOL IS FIXED!...

I have no clever, witty title for this one, and it’s hardly a breakthrough revelation, but I’m just so pissed off (though not entirely surprised) that I felt the need to share nonetheless. Is nothing sacred anymore???

When I first moved out to L.A. I wasn’t sure exactly in what capacity I would be involved with the television industry. Though I had hopes of being a bigwig, I was only eighteen, and I didn’t even have a car with which I could use to sneak myself onto backlots or location sets. So I did what every starf**king teenage girl did and signed up for On Camera Audience.

For those of you who don’t know, On Camera Audience is a company that finds and places seemingly “regular” people in the studio audience of countless talk (and the few variety) shows around Los Angeles. Sometimes they pay you a cool $7 an hour to show up at the lesser-known, let alone liked, programs, as well, though they are known to be somewhat discriminating when it comes to the “type” they are willing to book for audiences.

I ended up interning with a few shows in daytime—one that even employed the OCA (as we came to know them) guys—so I never ended up calling upon their services to kill an afternoon or make enough pocket change to have lunch out. But throughout the years I have remained on their mailing list, and I occasionally find notes about Chelsea Lately or America’s Got Talent in my spam folder. Tonight I came home to a note about next week’s taping of American Idol.

Considering this is supposedly the hottest ticket show in town, I opened the email, considering taking OCA up on their offer to give me up to four “preferred” seats for any one of the three performances next week—wait a minute…three? Tuesday was the performance show and Wednesday was the results, right? What the hell was the third? Were they bringing back yet another Wild Card? Were they making yet another change?
You may remember a slight blip in the news about American Idol taping their dress rehearsals last year. You may remember this if you live in Los Angeles and watch Good Day LA to get your morning news. You may even remember that some fan were questioning the legitimacy of the performances on which they were asked to vote every Tuesday at nine o’clock after this little tidbit “leaked out.” Well, I brushed it off then, but I’m hear to blow the lid right off the controversy now.

On Camera Audiences is giving me the chance to actually attend the live dress rehearsal, during which I am promised to watch all eleven remaining contestants perform in full wardrobe. Oh yeah, and Seacrest will be there, too. The only thing I won’t get is the judges’ comments. Why? Why, because they save those for the “live” show, don’tcha know! But only if you’re in the audience at the Kodak Theater during that live show will you know for sure if the performance that airs at eight p.m. is actually the “live” performance or the live rehearsal. So if producers’ favorites Lil Rounds or Adam Lambert slip up “live,” there’s always that “back up” performance to roll in through the VTR for broadcast! Add that to the fact that now the judges can veto America’s votes and bring back someone they think deserves a second shot, and I think we all know exactly how this season will turn out: any way Simon Cowell wants it to.

Check Out This Fun Cooker!...

Liz' new pal Kenneth catches her on the way into 30 Rock and offers to help carry her inordinant amount of bags from some sort of container store. As she babbles about the "round plastic thing" she got to hold her shoes "with a compartment to put a picture of what shoe goes in there" on it, she thinks she will finally become a well-adjusted, wonderful person. And then a guy flies off her bike and lands right on top of her. And suddenly she gets it: this is going to be the worst day ever-- but what is horrible for her usually ends up as great fun for us, so I say bring it on, "Funcooker!"

Inside her writer's room, things only go from bad to worse as she points out she chipped a tooth, Frank isn't wearing any pants, and Cerie informs her that she has jury duty-- despite the fact that Liz thought she was registered in another state. And since two out of three of these are plot points that have been done before, I'm beginning to think that Ms. Tina Fey no longer wants us to laugh at the sad state of Liz' affairs but rather emphasize with her, offering us our own reasons to grumble about a bad day.

Jenna and Tracy are in trouble for their unprofessional behavior at the St. Patrick's Day parade: she passed out and he cursed. Personally, I don't see the problem: if they had a beer in each hand, they would be the epitome of that holiday. But the FCC isn't so racially insensitive, and they are fining Tracy personally. He decides to sell half his watch in order to pay that fine. Liz, on the other hand, has to find a way to scale back Jenna's involvement in TGS until she has finished her Janis Joplin "inspired by" film in the evenings because right now she is too tired to realize she is using a gluestick instead of chapstick, so she is no good to anyone. And though just last week, she was pulling all kinds of stunts to get more attention, she suddenly has no problems taking on a smaller role in the show of which she was once the star. That should tell you just how tired she is!

Jack practically begs Liz for a "quiet week" because on Friday the company is going to announce a very big project-- the pocket microwave, which even has a "ham button." Liz suddenly lights up: he used her idea! Sorry if the last part of this recap is a bit rushed, but I need to zip out the door and line-up for my own personal pocket microwave (with a handle)! I want to be first in line!!

While Jenna visits Dr.Spacemen (who might be making one of his last appearances now that Chris Parnell was signed onto his own show), Liz packs up her Princess Leia costume and some "Playgirls from the eighties" and heads out to the municipal courthouse. Since Pete is out of the office, she makes it a point that no one is in charge while she is gone; she doesn't want to come back to an even bigger mess. Just as she is about to get in the elevator, though, Jenna bounds off, explaining she is in a clinical trial for a military grade sleeping pill. Tracy is about to make his appearance on Martha Stewart Live "real raunchy" because he has learned that as long as he pays for it, he can say whatever he wants. These are not the lessons Liz was hoping they'd learn, but then again, how can she expect more, when she is the one setting the example of how to skirt responsibilities by vehemently trying to get out of jury duty? Uh oh...

Yup, Liz gets picked. Karma's a bitch, ain't it??

Jack uses the TGS writers to come up with a new name for his pocket microwave-- because the first one ("bitenuker") was apparently offensive to the French and the Dutch, though I'm surprised he really cares about them. Josh's only idea is to make tee shirts indicating they are all now part of the microwave division. Jack agrees but tells him that this isn't the same as TGS and shooting just for "the middle" won't fly here.

Kenneth calls Liz, scared and leaderless, but she has been put on an arson trial that could last a few weeks. She tells him she will come back as soon as she is dismissed for the day and that he has to "try not to let anything else bad happen." Naturally he takes this to mean he's in charge, which surprisingly doesn't scare him as much as we might think it would, and he promptly sets out to change all of the rules he doesn't like.

Jack tells Liz she is on her own to write the show this week unless she can come up with a "kickass" microwave name right now. I actually quite like her suggestions: "The Small Wonder" and the "Porta-Hottie," but needless to say, he is not amused. She should have no problem writing her usual sketches while in the jury box...except he also needs her to deal with Tracy because advertisers have already started pulling out of the show due to his antics. My question: why now and not the hundreds of other times before?? It can't possibly be Sweeps already!

Nancy O'Dell reads a pre-written apology from Tracy Jordan on air, and it seems like all should be smoothed over, but as soon as she says "We'll be right back," the network cuts to a PSA from Tracy himself, declaring he "did not even write that apology." How this nincompoop (that's right, I said it!) keeps one-upping Jack Donaghy, the VP of East Coast Television and Microwave Oven Programming, is only the stuff of Hollywood writing!

While listening to the "alleged arsonist," Liz begins to find herself relating. The woman talks about how her employees are incompetent, and she's always stressed, and she hates having to pretend to care about, let alone take care of, their problems. Ironically, their names happen to be Tracy and Jenna, too, so Liz' eyes light up...especially when she gets to the part about the "cleansing" fire and "rising like a Phoenix" from the ashes. And though Liz has to rush right off to work after the trial lets out, this woman "gets to" have a sandwich in her cell and has doors opened for her by the guards. She considers herself free-- especially freer than Liz, and you know what? She may just have a point. But if Liz thinks being chained to a television studio is rough, she should try being chained to a desk all day in a corporate office: now that is prison! Ah, the parallel lives we lead...

Liz arrives back at the studio to find nothing on fire and the show preparing for a seemingly normal sketch (well, for them) about a robot and bear talk show. Dr.Spacemen runs through, screaming that if Jenna doesn't fall asleep soon she will die (because his lab mouse keeled over earlier that day), and he bursts onto the stage and begins banging her head against the table. She is in a giant bear costume, and it would have been more symbolic if she had been in a giant mouse costume, but then Disney might have gotten all up in arms that NBC was trying to send them a message, and South Park already made sufficient fun of that mouse this week so...

Liz strikes a match in her office but thinks better of it and shakes it out before tossing it aside. But since this is 30 Rock, of course the match was still lit when she tosses it, and her back wall goes up in flames. Sufficiently afraid of her now, the entire staff attempts to curb their crazy behavior in their own way: Frank promises to show up on time and wearing pants on Monday, and Jenna suggests they go out and actually talk about Liz for once. All of that and Jack gives her a pocket microwave of her very own? Maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all!

Oh, and Kenneth comes up with a name Jack actually likes: "The Funcooker" (hence the title). Jack says he owes him one, and Kenneth wants that to be "one hug." Jack does not oblige. I hoped we would see this "one" come back to bite him in the @$$ sometime down the line, and I got my wish a lot sooner than expected, when Tracy pulls down his pants on the live TGS cameras and told the audience to "check out my funcooker!" Oh, that's where Kenneth heard that!

Best lines of the night:

Jack (discussing the years he spent developing the pocket microwave): "Most of that time has been spent trying to come up with a hip, edgy name that would appeal to the marketing holy trinity: college students, the morbidly obese, and homosexuals."

Dr.Spacemen (explaining why I don't trust doctors): "You know what I like to do for eight hours? The TV Guide crossword."

Jack (describing...my life!? WTF!?): "With no TGS I see you...self-publishing your novel and moving back in with your parents..."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WWATN: The Full House Series Continues With "Uncle Joey"...

After deciding to make my "Where Are They Now?" column a weekly one, I got many requests from my friends to follow up with their favorites from Full House, and while I was intrigued, since that show was always one of my favorites and of the select few I chose to have immortalized in a custom Fazzino, I thought it might be just a little too easy to pick the patriarch, the "cool" aunt and/or uncle, or the precocious little sister. After all, they are on new shows of their own now, if not also making headlines for their personal lives. So I opted to look for a supporting cast member who may not have spawned her own talking doll or catchphrase but was still an integral part to the show. I got so many great responses, I decided to make this "Follow Up With Full House" series continue a little longer. Today's profilee is none other than the wacky Uncle-who-wasn't-really-related-to-any-of-them-and-yet-it-was-still-perfectly-okay-for-a-thirty-year-old-man-to-live-with-and-help-raise-three-young-girls Joey, Comedian Dave Coulier.

Coulier started his career as a stand-up comedian but his knack for voices had him doing voice over work and cartoons in no time, contributing to everything from The Little Mermaid (the series) to The Real Ghostbusters, where he made a name for himself as Peter Venkman. Aside from a few guest appearances or three-episode arcs on small sitcoms, Full House was the only "live action" role that Coulier appeared in, and it just happened to be one that launched him to fame with the tween crowd.


His success with Full House came to an end in 1995 when the show went off the air, changing the face of ABC's TGIF forever, and suddenly Coulier went from being known as "Uncle Joey" to "that guy Alanis Morissette is singing about (in the July '95 release of Jagged Little Pill which featured a song called "You Oughta Know") among his fans. Needless to say, the young girls that once saw him as a loveable teddy bear but now thought he was responsible for (unjustifiably) hurting their kickass rocker idol probably turned on him-- and fast.

Coulier went on to do many more voices post-...House, like Felix The Cat Saves Christmas, Teen Titans, The Farce of the Penguins, and Robot Chicken. He also started his own production company in 2001 and began touring again, doing "clean, wholesome, family" stand-up. Coulier boasts he uses no "four letter words" in his act and has even started a website dedicated to such comedy: cleanguys.tv. In June 2008, Coulier was also elected Commissioner of the Promotion by the CHIKARA Board of Directors, a seemingly ridiculous and fake title that fellow ...House castmember Bob Saget also held. Well, when you're not getting nominated for acting awards, I guess you'll take what you can get...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cookies And Drag? You're The Best Talk Show Ever!...

Everyone has been talking about Jimmy Kimmel making his debut as a guest on The View dressed as Rosie O'Donnell, but personally, I think the bigger story is the giant dancing cookie and cupcake who walks out with him!



Product placement has hit an all time low, and yet they're speaking my language...

Why I'm Agro Today: Strippers Make Sooo Much More Than I Do!...

Last night on the Rock of Love Bus one of the trashier trashtastic contestants vying for Mr. Bret Michaels' "love," Ms. ASShley, who has made it known that she makes her living as a stripper, said something I found completely outlandish. She made a comment during the "Mommy Challenge" about how she "may dance on the weekends," which yes, refers to stripping and not just hanging out at the clubs "cutting loose," but from Monday through Friday, she is a full time stay at home mom. WTF???

It baffles me that a stripper can make enough in two days-- err, nights-- of work a week to live as comfortably as she seems to, with her Christian Audigier uniforms and platinum hair extensions (though those do look pretty cheap!). It baffles me at the sheer number of reality shows that reward such behavior, as well, picking these girls as contestants. It baffles me, especially in this economy, when banks are seizing houses by the buttload and grown adults have to move back home, that strippers can still be thriving. I'm not a complete prude or anything, but that is not what I had in mind for the good ole fashioned American dream!