Saturday, October 28, 2006

It was old when Buffy did it, Bill

TMZ has a short interview with "Scrubs" creator/writer/producer Bill Lawrence. In the interview, he talks about an upcoming "big musical episode" of "Scrubs."
It's definitely something people haven't seen on TV unless they, well, I was going to say "on TV ever" but then I'd say unless they watched "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

In fact, by the time Buffy got around to doing their good-but-overrated "big musical episode," they were following in the footsteps of everything on TV from "The Drew Carey Show" to "The Simpsons" to "South Park" to even "Xena."

Full disclosure: I hate Bill Lawrence. Why? Because (in no particular order):

He's the succesful creator/writer/producer of multiple television shows.
He's worth about $12 million dollars.
He's married to the most beautiful woman on television (1995-2005), Christa Miller.
He's writing a new "Fletch" movie.

What's not to hate?

Friday, October 27, 2006

A lesser man would complain about this score

...but given what the thing is about...
You Scored 85% Correct

You are an 80s expert
You never confuse New Order with the Pet Shop Boys
You know which classical musician Falco rocked
When it comes to 80s music, you Just Can't Get Enough!

...I take scoring right in the middle of the 80s as satisfyingly apt.

This is preposterous

There's a new theatrical documentary coming out about the Dixie Chicks. Specifically about the vicious attacks that were made on them:...and how they responded, after Natalie criticized our right-wing Commander In Chief.

As you can imagine if you know how I feel about the Chicks (they're damn-near perfect, and long may they wave), I'm rather looking forward to this. And it has a great title-Shut Up And Sing.

But it seems I'm going to have to keep my eyes peeled for its release, since the networks are refusing to accept to accept ads for it.

From Unclaimed Territory:
According to Matt Drudge (a phrase that does not roll out of one's mouth easily), both NBC and the CW Television Network (the joint venture of CBS and Warner Brothers that combines the WB and UPN Networks) are refusing to air ads promoting Shut Up & Sing on the ground that the ads are "disparaging" to our President

...which is preposterous. NBC doesn't want to disparage the President? I'll remember that tonight when I'm watching The Tonight Show or Conan O'Brien. Where, call it a hunch, I predict there will be at least one joke built on the notion that Mr. Bush is, in fact, kind of stupid.

It's preposterous, but it's important because, as Glenn writes, it fits into
a very disturbing trend whereby television networks are refusing to broadcast political advocacy material that will offend the Republican power structure in Washington.

Remember when the networks-even the nominally gay & lesbian LOGO-wouldn't run an ad by the UCC promoting their message of acceptance? Remember when CBS censored-and I do not use the word lightly-the Reagans miniseries?

Same thing. Glenn continues:
The very idea that it is in the "public interest" to prohibit ads that criticize the Leader is ludicrous on its face. The President is constantly given free airtime to argue his views and propagandize on virtually every issue, and the networks endlessly offer forums for his followers and surrogates to defend him. And the networks' argument is particularly absurd now, given that networks are awash with cash from offensive, obnoxious, and repugnant political ads of every kind.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Maybe it helps that I'm not watching Lost

In which Ben tries again to figure out why The Nine is sinking while Another Fucking CSI and Dancing With The flippin Stars are leading their timeslots.

For what it's worth, and for howeversolong as it lasts, here are a couple of clips from The Nine that I found on YouTube. Maybe they'll give you an idea of why I think a truly great show is slipping through our fingers.

The first is an extended (over six minutes) sequence from the pilot episode, showing the important scenes just before and just after the hostage crisis at the bank.

Second is a much shorter-less than two minues-scene from last week's episode in which Lizzie tells Jeremy something. The pair, played by Jessica Collins and Scott Wolf respectively, were boyfriend and girlfriend...before they went into the bank. But "a moment," which has not yet been fully made clear, seems to have changed that.

This is the scene that had me specifically praising Wolf's work last week, watch his eyes even before she tells him what she tells him. And notice Collins, who is lovely too in the scene (and hard to keep your eyes off of).

In a recent intervew, Wolf answered the question,
UGO: Do you think that following a show like Lost puts a lot of pressure on you guys?

SCOTT: I think it's sort of a mixed bag. Obviously, to have a lead in that's a really powerful show like Lost is a great thing and we were thrilled to be put there. I guess in the end, though, it really comes down to what the audience thinks. I think that both shows have an intensity about them that makes it a lot for people to have a two hour block of that level of intensity, but I'm hoping in the long run our show really speaks for itself and the audience continues to respond well to the story we're telling.

Berman suggests something similar. And maybe they're both right. I have an advantage in that I'm one of the few (apparently) who was never hooked on Lost. So when I come to turn on The Nine, I'm ready for my intense hour of television and I can give it all my attention for that hour.

Who knows how I'd feel if it were after, say, 24-which would really be weird since Kim Raver is on both shows, but I think you know what I mean. I'd like to think the buzz the show has generated would get ABC thinking new timeslot instead of cancellation, but who the hell knows.

I'd also like to think posts like this contribute at least a little bit to the buzz. The good news is, Scott, the audience that's there thinks the story you're telling is great, but...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More bad and good news from the world of TV

NBC is about to move 30 Rock to Thursdays at 9:30. I guess somebody at NBC likes it. There are two ways you get a spot on NBC Thursdays. One is, you earn it, as Scrubs, My Name Is Earl, and The Office have.

I don't actually watch any of those series regularly (though I look in on Scrubs from time to time), but it can fairly be said they've proven themselves shows people want to watch. 30 Rock, on the other hand, started with almost nobody watching and had less than that the second week.

Which brings me to the second way you get a show on Thursday nights at NBC: Somebody up there likes you, wants to appease your producer, or both. See Good Morning Miami, produced by Mutchnik & Kohan, the team who sold their soul to the devil for Will & Grace and haven't done anything funny since.

See also Veronica's Closet, produced by the team that brought you Friends. See also Joey.

This is the sort of scheduling-by-favoritism that once led NewsRadio creator Paul Simms, god bless him, to refer to NBC's Thursday-night lineup-in print, for attribution-as "A big double-decker shit sandwich."

In ratings news, according to the usually-trustworthy Marc Berman, things still look dim for Friday Night Lights and I have to say I'm minding less with each passing week. There is much that is still remarkable about the series, especially the performances and direction. And as I've said, any show that can make me care about a high school football team has to be doing something right.

But of my three favorites of "the freshman class"-The Nine, Studio 60, and Friday Night Lights-this is the one I could most stand to lose. If it doesn't make it, I'll feel like it's "just one of those things." Everyone involved will walk away with some good footage for their reel, if nothing else.

If the first two don't make it, I feel like it'll say something about how, in fact, there isn't a place for smart shows on network television these days. Which would be a real shame, especially since a big part of the soul of Studio 60 is about arguing just that point-that there is such a place. I'd really hate for that to be proved wrong.

Especially if 30 Rock succeeds not because anyone actually wants to watch it but because it has friends in the right places. (Lorne Michaels, a man whose name carries much weight in the halls of NBC, is the executive producer of 30 Rock.)

The good news is, also according to Marc Berman,

...the slowly building Veronica Mars was up by 6 percent in both total viewers and women 18-49 (1.9/ 5) from one week earlier, with retention out of Gilmore Girls of 81 percent among target adults 18-34.

Quality-wise, IMO, the show's still wavering badly, but it's still good enough for me to root for a full season renwewal. I'd love to see what the writers could do with safe ground under their feet, and not feel that they were casting about wildly for viewers.

Then again, if the first season could survive a guest shot by Paris Hilton and go on to be as good as it was, nothing's impossible.

One final note: The Nine is on tonight at 10 on ABC, y'all, right after Lost. Join me, won't you?

The Return Of The Weasel

Tucker Carlson is an awful human being.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Oh yeah...

TV ratings, via Marc Berman...

Yesterday’s Losers:
...Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC)

First at 10 p.m., of course, was CBS’ rock-solid CSI: Miami at a 12.6/19 in the overnights, 17.49 million viewers and a 6.0/15 among adults 18-49. A distant second was NBC’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (Overnights: 6.3/10; Viewers: 7.70 million; A18-49: 3.1/ 8), followed by ABC drama What About Brian (Overnights: 4.1/ 6; Viewers: 6.02 million; A18-49: 2.6/ 7). Both Studio 60 and What About Brian declined by double-digit percentages from their lead-ins, hence the loser’s listings.

Later in a "Freshman series update" he describe Studio 60 as "on the fence."

What's weird is critics still seem to want Sorkin to tie up Matt & Harriet quickly. Wheras I, as I said last week, think they make a more interesting couple than most on TV and want him to take his time, always assuming he has any.

And I really wish he'd resist the tempation to tie up some of his other plots so quickly and neatly. Last night's episode was a great example.

Matt and Simon, a black member of the cast of the show within the show, go to a comedy club to see a black comedian who has been touted to them. Simon has been chiding Matt about the lack of black writers, and thus a black eye and voice in humor, on his writing staff.

Unfortunately, the comic they are there to see turns out to be using the worst kinds of stereotpes for his jokes about the-differences between white people and black people. And getting big laughs.

It was an effective scene, well-played by Matthew Perry and D.L. Hughley.

Later over a drink, Simon talks about growing up in South Central LA and how he now wants to help people as he himself was helped to get out of there. Again, an effective scene with much promise for the future. Matt could, for example, have gone back to work and initiated a minority writer training program with the guild.

But instead, suddenly they hear another black comedian onstage who's eating it-but his material shows original thought. They go backstage and hire the man-who happens to be from South Central near where Simon grew up-immidiately.

What an unbelivable (and unnecessary)coincidence.

Or maybe, just maybe, it's that last night of all nights I wasn't in a frame of mind to see a Lana Turner story enacted right in front of me. Yes, if you're just in the right place at the right time a magic wand will touch you and give you a job in television where you can make more money in a week than your parents made in a year.

Yes, it's just that easy.

Don't fucking lie to me, Sorkin.

If you feel like a good book

...I can recommend one. Here's my latest Amazon review, of the second in a multi-volume biography of Orson Welles by actor/writer/director Simon Callow.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I discovered a few weeks ago that a couple of embedded videos I'd posted no longer work. So here they are again, just 'cos I like them. Plus something new, 'cause I know how short your attention span is.

I've never cared for Fleetwood Mac very much but I like Lindsey Buckingham a lot. I think he's the best singer-songwriter-guitarist ever to come out of my hometown of Palo Alto (and the first one who mentions Jerry Garcia gets belted right across the chops).

This song in particular I've loved ever since I saw the video on VH1 Classic. For a while I was holding out for a cool one-disc compilation of his work. Ideally to include, besides the above, the National Lampoon's Vacation soundtrack material and the incredibly powerful acoustic version of "Big Love" he did for the Fleetwood reunion tour:

But to date no such retrospectve exists. So a month ago or so I broke down and bought the Go Insane album. It's got 1984 written all over it, but as you can imagine I enjoy that.

The last clip, as I said at the time, is one of favorite thing[s] that I've discovered so far via YouTube. It's basically everything you want rock n roll to be. It's kind of stupid, frankly a bit sexist, and a little childish.

I love it.

This is some sort of karma for the titty joke, isn't it.

Dear Author:

Thank you for your recent query to [Publisher].

We have reviewed your material, and unfortunately your project doesn't fit the demands of our current list.

We appreciate your interest in [Publisher] and wish you the best of success with your writing career.


The [Publisher] Editorial staff.


I'm very close to letting go. Even closer than you know. So take what you can, take what you find. Take it all into your mind.


I've been lookin for some time
I knew that I had to be much more

So pick yourself up, and dust yourself down...Pick yourself up and dust yourself down...

Into your mind,
Read the signs...Reload

-Junkie XL

I don't know what it is about Scarlett Johansson that makes me lose all my gentility



Thank you.

Okay, damnit, a Suri Cruise post

I've mostly been ignoring this. For what it's worth, I subscribe to the theory that Katie Holmes was never really pregnant. They announced that she'd given birth in time for Cruise to have something to talk about in interviews for his last picture.

Other than So what's it's like when you realize you've made a total ass of yourself in public? But anyway, the reason it took them so long to expose the baby to said public is that they hadn't cast the part yet.

Still, as I say, mostly I feel that it is in a strange way beneath my dignity to even comment on the thing. Fortunately, it is not below the dignity of Trent and his much-loved stencil at Pink Is The New Blog.


Thank you, Trent.

One of the all-time greats

The Washington Post has a profile of "Doonesbury"-maker Garry Trudeau. Let the clicker beware: It's kind of lengthy, but if you share my opinion above, you'll definitely want to read it. If you're not as firm in that conviction, here are a few excerpts that may help you make up your mind.

..."Doonesbury" ...survived and metamorphosed over the years into what is essentially an episodic comic novel, with so many active characters that Trudeau himself has been known to confuse them. "Doonesbury" has always remained topical, often controversial. Unapologetically liberal and almost religiously anti-establishment, Trudeau has been denounced by presidents and potentates and condemned on the floor of the U.S. Senate. He's also been described as America's greatest living satirist, mentioned in the same breath as Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce.

As I've mentioned once or twice in the past, I think Stephen Colbert and especially Jon Stewart may be gaining on him; I think they're national treasures. But they've still only been doing it for a handful of years against his 30+.

But I like the "episodic comic novel" conceit. Makes him sound a little like Dickens-a comparison he'd no doubt disavow, but which doesn't seem to me completely wrongheaded.
LIKE ANY SATIRIST WHOSE WORK ENDURES, Trudeau has been right about a lot of things. From the moment that hippie college deejay Mark Slackmeyer looked at the reader and gleefully declared that an as-yet-unindicted Attorney General John Mitchell was "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" Trudeau has shown a world-class instinct for piercing a babble of crosstalk and nailing the truth. He was right about Vietnam (When a conservative columnist said that he saw a "a light at the end of a tunnel," Michael asked him: "When you've dug yourself into a hole, why do you always insist on calling it a tunnel?"). Trudeau was right about the greed of '80s big business, about the cynicism of the marketing industry, about Bill Clinton's flippy-flop, polls-based approach to governance ("Doonesbury" regularly portrayed Clinton as a greasy waffle).

"Occasionally, people accuse me of courage," he says. "And that's wrong. I'm sitting on a perch of safety. Cartoonists have a tar-baby immunity. The more people react to us, and the more angrily they react, the better it is for us. So we're invulnerable. It just doesn't seem fair."

Incidentally, here's where I show what a "Doonesbury"-nerd I am. Near the end of the profile the writer looks at a strip in which
B.D. appears to be considering cheating on Boopsie, which hasn't happened to our knowledge in 20-plus years of an eccentric but strong marriage.

B.D. cheated on Boopsie during his service in the first Gulf War, with a girl named Meg. They broke it off when she learned she was his superior officer but, after he'd come home, she returned to make a play for him and almost broke up said "eccentric but strong marriage."

When I say nerd, I mean nerd.

Fooled into falling in love!

I almost didn't even know what to say about this one. But there's obviously more to the story...
Sailor kills Marine after lie about rape

Petty Officer 3rd Class Cooper Jackson, 23, pleaded guilty Monday to premeditated murder, kidnapping, impersonating a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent and obstruction of justice in connection with the death of Cpl. Justin L. Huff, 23.

Federal agents had testified at his Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury investigation, that Jackson had been fooled into falling in love with a woman who called herself Samantha and made up a story about being raped by servicemen.

"Samantha" turned out to be Ashley Elrod, a 22-year-old hotel clerk on North Carolina's Outer Banks, who testified that she lied about being raped. She said she "might have" told Jackson that one of the Marines was named Huff or Huffman, and she said Jackson called her after Huff was killed. Elrod has not been charged.

Murder committed in the name of what was thought to be love but turns out to be a lie told by an apparent femme fatale.

It's a freaking pulp novel. Even the words-

"Fooled into falling in love!"
-belong on the back of a paperback.

Or on a film noir poster, with a glamour shot of the female lead staring agonizingly out at us. I see Nora-Jane Noone or Leelee Sobieski in the part. I mean, they could certainly convince me to kill a man...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Random Flickr-Blogging: IMG_3355: Two how I feel, one what I need

How I feel:

Sources: One and two. And now, what I need:

It's not revenge, it's justice. Repeat. And again.

I thought the profile of Nancy Pelosi that Lesley Stahl did on 60 Minutes tonight came off as an attempted smear that backfired. It was packed with sly sexism and loaded, juicy words like "revenge" but in the process, it made her look a lot better (to me) than may have been intended..

Well, she’s certainly brought order to the Democrats. She has insisted on no more bickering in public and just saying "no" to nearly everything that comes out of the Bush White House. In other words, party discipline: kind of like the Republicans do it. As a result, Democrats now vote together more often than they have since Eisenhower was president. How has someone so clearly not one of the boys managed to keep them in line?

Maybe Democrats aren't all cynical hypocrites who are afraid of catching cooties from a girl (especially if she's competent).

It ended with an attempt to get the Democratic leader to pledge-again-that should her party find itself in a position of power in a couple of weeks, they will not hurt Bush too much. He's already been through a lot, poor guy.

She has pledged that as Speaker she would give the Republicans rights they’ve denied the Democrats, like allowing them to introduce amendments to bills. But she may have trouble reining in the Democrats’ appetite for revenge. There’s already talk of multiple investigations and impeachment of the president.

As I've expressed before, few things make me angrier-or better explain why I don't watch TV news much-than the idea that the motivation for coming down on Bush and Cheney can be attributed to "revenge". No, they have committed crimes. It's not revenge, it's justice.

That said, it gave Pelosi a chance to put her justification for taking impeachment off the table better than I have previously seen it expressed.
This election is about [George Bush & Dick Cheney]. This is a referendum on them. Making them lame ducks is good enough for me."

It's not good enough for me-my "good enough" involves jail time, but I'm not completely naieve-but at least it does make me feel I better understand the political position that Pelosi is taking.