Thursday, May 26, 2005

Lies, Lies and PR

So let's get this straight: Tom and Katie ARE sleeping together and are madly in love and Brad and Angelina are NOT sleeping together and are not madly in love. Apparently the publicists to the stars either think the American public is comprised of a bunch of star-struck blithering idiots who will believe anything that is put before them OR they are so self-deluded that they believe their own spin and assume the rest of us are just following along like little lemmings.

What I find redeeming about this whole situation is not that Tom is going on Oprah and rolling around on the floor or that both Brad and Angelina continue to deny what has been clear as day to the Hollywood gossip community for months (motto of said gossips: where there's smoke, there's definitely fire. And in the case of Brad and Angelina, that fire is hot hot hot). No, what's redeeming is that no one believes any of it. Hallelujah! We've finally reached the point where the American public is savvy enough not to believe the spin.

If I was smart enough and employed as such, I would have written the same column that former Vanity Fair editor Tina Brown penned in the Washington Post today. After pointing out what we all know - hello, Tom, no one believes you so quit all the embarrassing antics - Brown writes that the Bush White House has taken a page from Hollywood in terms of how it runs its publicity. And the moral of the story is: don't believe anything that comes from Hollywood studios or the White House press office.

What's sort of interesting/obvious about Tom and Katie and Brad and Angelina is that all four of them have big movies to promote.

For 42-year-old Tom, his sex appeal has waned a bit. His last few movies have done okay, but they haven't been the guaranteed box office they once were. And while he's taken on a lot of risky roles, they haven't paid off the way he might have hoped. Jamie Foxx got all the rave reviews for Collateral, and ex-wife Nicole Kidman became an Oscar darling, while Tom has yet to reel in the big O. What's more, Tom continues to battle rumors that he is gay. What better way to combat that than by starting up yet another contrived romance with an up-and-coming starlet with her own movie to promote and career to further, even though she's young and baby-faced enough that some of us are more grossed out than titillated.

Meanwhile, 26-year-old Katie Holmes is promoting Batman Begins, her first big studio picture. And while she's certainly not carrying the film - those honors go to Christian Bale - it's also in her best interest to suddenly be seen as white hot and super visible. Voila! A couple is born and paraded about on Oprah.

Brad and Angelina have the opposite problem. They both still remain at the peak of their sex symbol status - in fact, most people forgive them for being together because they figure if the world's two hottest people want to get it on, who are we to stop them? But with Brad divorcing America's Sweetheart, Jennifer Aniston, it's in his best interest to remain on the down-lo with Angelina, particularly because he and Angelina have Mr. and Mrs. Smith coming out shortly and it doesn't look good if it seems like the two stars were canoodling on set before Jen was actually out of the picture. So those two are trying (but failing miserably) to keep a lock on what is now an open secret.

What I wonder is what would happen if everyone was just honest. If Tom came out and said, "yes, I am gay," not that I know that he is, but if he was and he did -would that really mean his career was over? And if Brad and Angelina said "yes, we did fall madly in love during the shooting of this movie and can you blame us?" would that mean that no one would go see this or any of their future movies as a result? Maybe no one will go see it anyway - you never know with movies. Plus, just because she's the hottest woman alive, there's plenty of Angelina Jolie movies no one has ever seen - Beyond Borders, for example. And I could go on.

If I ever wanted to be a movie star - and I never did because a) I love to eat way too much and b) I can't act - realizing that stars' whole lives necessarily become one big act definitely dissuades me. And what's worse, if the public finally gets wise and decides that act has become really tired, celebrities these days are going to new heights to stay in the public eye re: Britney and Kevin: Chaotic (or Catastrophic if you consider the ratings) or Paris Hilton's recent pornographic Burger King ad, which is not such a far cry from her widely-distributed Internet homemade sex video.

I'm not rich, powerful or famous, but at least I have the privilege of screwing up my own relationships, or lack thereof, in private.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hey look, I'm famous!

My blog got profiled by another blog -- Boulder's Dirt, which is a youth-oriented spin-off of the local paper, The Daily Camera. Here's the link to the little interview I did: All About ME. It's only a matter of time before I go worldwide. I'm talking global, people. Universal.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

CNN goes from boring to ... possibly more boring

My news intuition must have been going off (as well as my acute sense of snore TV) when I wrote yesterday. Changes are afoot at CNN, although three hours hosted by Wolf Blitzer is quite possibly worse than an afternoon block that includes Inside Politics, Crossfire and Inside the Blogs. Would it be so crazy to air original stories that were actually reported by people in the field and included footage, writing and producing? I know, I know ... too expensive. We wouldn't want to do anything to affect bottom line.

From Variety:

CNN's lone-Wolf strategy

Cabler axes shows, expands Blitzer


CNN is reorganizing its daytime programming, creating a three-hour program anchored by Wolf Blitzer that will replace both "Crossfire" and "Inside Politics."

"Crossfire" had been put on notice by newly installed CNN U.S. prexy Jonathan Klein as an example of the kind of shoutfest he thought turned off viewers.

"Inside Politics" is anchored by Judy Woodruff, who announced that she will retire at the end of the May.

The moves -- the most significant since Klein took the helm of CNN late last year -- came of a challenge he issued to CNN staff to come up with new ideas on how the network could report on politics.

The winning proposal came out of the Washington bureau, where producers David Bohrman and Sam Feist proposed building a show around Blitzer that will address the day's top stories in politics, business, national security and world affairs.

Klein declined to say when the new show would debut, but part of the reorganization will begin Monday, June 6, when CNN replaces Blitzer's midday show, "News From CNN," with a simulcast of CNN International's "Your World Today."

The shift will free up Blitzer for an extended three-hour newscast in the afternoon and showcase some of CNN's international reporting, an asset Klein believes differentiates the net from the competition.

"We cover international news better than anyone, and we want to show it across the news group," Klein said.

A spokeswoman said it's unclear if jobs will be eliminated or shifted as a result of the changes.

In an internal memo, CNN EVP of operations Cindy Patrick said the changes could "eventually affect Atlanta staffing levels." The changes will cut a half-hour from "Life From ...," which is produced in Atlanta. The other shows affected are produced in D.C.

Memo also says the net is considering moving the control room and some staff positions for "Larry King Live" to D.C. from Atlanta. King now has a staff and copies of his signature sets in New York and D.C., but typically tapes his show in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Amazing Race, Phil and Pat, and lots of other rambling

Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan congratulates Uchenna and Joyce Posted by Hello

And the winners are:
Uchenna and Joyce, who take home the million on The Amazing Race, in the show's most-watched finale ever. Rob and Amber came in second, foiled by two small things: a friendly pilot and an inability to find anyone in Miami's Little Havana who could translate English into Spanish.

Truth be told, Uchenna and Joyce completely deserved to win. They could have ditched their taxi driver at the end, whom they did not have enough money to pay in full, run in and won the million dollars. Instead, they stayed outside, begging for money until they had enough to pay the driver, and then they ran in and won. That's class.

What's more, viewers got to watch the couple's relationship get stronger and stronger. Joyce became determined to do whatever she needs to to have a child after the racers found themselves at an African orphanage full of smiling children. Joyce allowed her head to be shaved in order to win a leg of the race, even though she cried through the whole thing. And Uchenna proved himself to be a man of honor, hugging Joyce in the nook of his arm while she cried and he kept on swallowing his pride and asking strangers for money. Toward the end of the show, the couple confessed that they had been talking about splitting up, but running the 40,000 mile race around the world brought them back together and made them stronger than ever.

I have to admit that I found myself disappointed by Rob and Amber's loss, even though they drove by the overturned Jeep, because I just can't let go of my fandom. On the other hand, CBS paid for their wedding in the Bahamas and they won a bunch of trips on Race and they seem to be legitimately in love, so I'm not really crying for Rob and Amber.

I will say that Rob and Amber have proven that they are that very rare thing - true reality show stars - for two reasons. 1) They've either won the money or come super damn close twice. That's not a coincidence. And 2) Ratings for Survivor: All-Stars and The Amazing Race 7 were both huge, bigger than other outings of both long-running series, and Rob and Amber have to be credited with bringing viewers to the set. Or at least me.

So we all know what that means: On May 24, I'll be glued to the set, pathetically watching the creatively named Rob and Amber Get Married. And probably crying.

Random TV musings: Um, didn't CNN cancel Crossfire after Jon Stewart told the show's hosts they were ruining democracy? (Extremely excellent MTV Headline: Jon Stewart Bitchslaps Crossfire ) Because if so, I'm still waiting. This horrendous program remains on the air, because it shows up every day during my CNN watching. Oh wait, Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post reported in January that CNN was going to be including Crossfire as part of Inside Politics. Altogether it makes for one big snoozefest - Crossfire teamed with Inside the Blogs tied together by uninteresting newsreading.

In the same Washington Post article, CNN President Jonathan Klein said about Carlson: "There was zero fit between what he wanted to do and what we wanted to do. He's best suited to host a head-butting talkfest, and that's not the kind of program we wanted to do in prime time. . . . Our network is about roll-up-your-sleeves journalism, powerful storytelling."

Dude, have you watched your network lately? If you think reading from a teleprompter and interviewing talking heads all day long is powerful storytelling, then OK, it's super-powerful. Otherwise, not so much.

It happened and the world somehow did not end: The show I was most sad to miss in the past week was Dr. Phil's surreal interview of Pat O'Brien . We've met Mr. O'Brien before, and visited him at my new favorite blog: (which sadly is over now because selfish Pat left rehab and returned to television. But you can visit the hilarious writer of this blog, who happily outed himself on May 2, at Utter

It's unclear in this scenario who is exploiting whom because the exploitation sort of overlaps in confusing, swirling patterns until I feel like I need to take some drugs and check into rehab myself. (And then maybe I can get on Dr. Phil and become superfamous. Hey, I think I'm on to something here.)

Phil opens up the interview by asking Pat: "The studio did not coerce you into coming here?" Pat does not say what we're all thinking: "Hell no. They didn't have to ask twice. I know who signs my paychecks. Plus this is TV, man. TV!"

A little review for the 99.5% of you that don't follow the ins and outs of the media world: Megacorporation Viacom owns a bunch of companies, among them CBS and Paramount Domestic Television. Paramount produces both Dr. Phil and The Insider, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that a special featuring Pat's confession would be hosted by Dr. Phil and air on CBS during May sweeps. When TV executives suddenly realize that they have a star that’s going through a horrible time in his personal life, what do they do? Put him on in prime time! Have him tell Dr. Phil his most embarrasing personal secrets. It’s sweeps for God’s sake. Something's gonna explode soon, right?

Another TV kid tragically grows up: I'm not a big fan of Fox’s Malcolm in the Middle, but I ended up watching it on Mother's Day because my brother-in-law had control of the remote and he wouldn't let me watch Deadwood, which he referred to as that F@$& show, which isn't so incorrect, but it is the best show on television in my humble opinion.

Anyhoo, I could not fail to note that Frankie Muniz has finally reached the stage to which we all knew he was headed. Instead of being a cute little kid, he's now a really weird-looking, short teenager whose head is too big for his body. This seems to be the unfortunate fate of all cute child TV stars (see Gary Coleman and Danny Bonaducci). And don't try to tell me that Raven Symone is the exception. Just because you were an adorable child on The Cosby Show 15 years ago, does not, and I repeat, does not, mean you should get your own show on The Disney Channel.

Finally, here’s a list of things that are not actually news: the Runaway Bride; Paula Abdul’s alleged affair with American Idol contestant and developing television executive Corey Clarke; Priscilla Presley’s Elvis musings. A feature on the extend of Presley’s plastic surgery, however, might make sense for Primetime Live to do right after Extreme Makeover.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Very Original Headline: Hitchhiker's Guide Kicks Ass

Update: Hey, we have better taste than I thought! HHG opened up number one at the box office this weekend, pulling in more than $21 million. That crushed the competition, with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman's dreary looking The Interpreter taking second at almost $14 million. XXX The Sequel (whatever it's called) came in a diastrous third, earning not quite $13 million. Scarily, it looks like Vin Diesel made the right choice -- The Pacifier (Vin's spin on Kindergarten Cop) has somehow, someway crossed the $100 million mark. (Box office totals gathered from

There's a lot of talk right now about the pre-summer movie market being in the doldrums. It's not that complicated: if the movies suck, people won't come.

Except for Hitchhiker's Guide, of course.