Monday, September 14, 2009


Thanks again to everyone for your nice comments about yesterday’s Larry post. I didn’t want his words to live forever. I wanted HIM to live forever.

Anyway, onwards and sidewards…

Replacing Paula Abdul with Ellen DeGeneres was a great move. So what if she knows nothing about music? She’s funny and won’t sleep with male contestants. And Portia will kill her if she flirts with female hopefuls.

I miss John Madden already.

James Schamus, the producer and screenwriter of TAKING WOODSTOCK said this to reporters at the Cannes Film Festival: “The biggest challenge was to get extras who were skinny but who were not working out all the time. And who still had pubic hair.” I hope no one told director Ang Lee he couldn’t use a crane because they went over budget on merkins.

The JAY LENO SHOW marks the end of NBC as a competitive primetime network. They should retire the peacock and just use Jeff Zucker making a deposit at a cash machine as their corporate symbol.

This isn’t too confusing. There are two movies coming out this fall. NINE and 9. 9 is animated and supposedly great. NINE is based on the musical and I don’t even know if the musical is great. And then there’s CLOUD 9 about an overweight 67-year-old woman having an affair with a 76-year old man and the movie is filled with nudity, explicit sex, and close ups. So it's a horror movie.

Meanwhile, 67 year-old Harrison Ford wants to do another Indiana Jones chapter. Let’s see how CLOUD 9 does at the boxoffice first.

Registration is still open for THE SITCOM ROOM. It’s either a great learning tool to put you ahead of the pack or a comedy writing fantasy camp for those who always wanted to experience just what it’s like in a writing room. They tend not to let the general public come into the BIG BANG THEORY room and just pitch jokes and eat their food.

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle last Friday suggested that ANIMAL HOUSE as a comedy will not stand the test of time. I disagree.

Maura Tierney: Get well soon.

Hey, Circus Vargas is still around! This is an old-time traveling big top circus complete with hilarious clowns (who are undoubtedly sad in real life), animals (that failed the Ringling Brothers audition I suppose), and of course the Willy Family’s “Sphere of Death”. It was very cool to have an actual circus come to my neighborhood when I was a kid. I never ran away with them although my parents were pushing me to.

Why did SNL fire Michaela Watkins? She was the funniest cast member on that show?

The quality of late night fare on premium movie channels has really gone downhill. Where are those fabulous “women in prison” movies? I once heard a producer of one take offense that his film was considered “exploitive” and “gratuitous” and then I watched the movie. There’s a scene where all the inmates with naked, together in the shower, reading their mail.

La Toya Jackson thought Michael looked “fabulous” at the funeral. She especially liked that he wore pearls.

Sorry to hear about Patrick Swayze. Watching the movie GHOST will be particularly eerie now.

Members of THE TRANSFORMERS crew, in an open letter, have branded Megan Fox as “Dumb-as-a-rock” and “Classless Trailer Trash”. But they do admit she has nice eyes.

And yet the asshole of the year trophy MUST go to Kayne West. Talk about classless. Interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech on the MTV Video Music Awards to say Beyonce deserved the award instead was nothing short of reprehensible. Or, as Pink so succinctly put it on her Twitter page: "Kanye West is the biggest piece of shit on earth. Quote me." I did. On the other hand, Beyonce, forfeiting her acceptance speech later on to let Taylor have her moment was the height of class.

Favorite recent HuffPost headline: Hugh Hefner: I Waited A Decade To Divorce For The Kids.

Not that we’re too litigious or anything but a personal chef is suing Simon Cowell, accusing him of stealing or throwing away her shoes. I hope this one goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

Happy birthday to Cliff Levine this week. I love you, dad.


Angie said...

He ruined it for two people, Taylor Swift and Beyonce, who had to "fix" what he'd done. So then she didn't get to make her acceptance speech. He seems like a ridiculous little brat...glad I have no idea what his music sounds like.

Tom K. Mason said...

"Hugh Hefner: I Waited A Decade To Divorce For The Kids."

And by "The Kids" he means his two new girlfriends.

WV: Cluse. What the French inspector looks for.

UncleWalty said...

I'm afraid I must agree with the SF Chronicle about Animal House. I saw that movie when I was 17 and I thought I was too old for it then.

Rob said...

Ken, if you miss John Madden, I can come to your house and loudly yell obvious commentary about a game while telling you about various hardware products.

As for Michaela Watkins, I have to 100% agree. My thought is that Lorne looked at her and figured that, at 37, she was too old and didn't have any loud or obnoxious characters that he could build a shitty movie out of. She was a female Phil Hartman in a cast of Melanie Hutsells.

And Happy Birthday Dad and thanks for sharing your pride and joy with the rest of the world.

wv: Hagress -- What you call the ugly woman you're cheating with.

Question Mark said...

Michaela Watkins the funniest person in the cast? A good actress and I'm surprised she was let go, but let's not go overboard here.

dangermandownunder said...

I love your blog and usually agree with you (Kanye is a shithead for example), but I have to disagree about Ellen on Idol.
She marks the beginning of the end. The credibility of each judge from a musical perspective is essential to the show, and turning to comedy is wrong wrong wrong.
Paula was laughable, but she DID have a few hits and some success. Without some kind of musical credibility from the judges, the show is doomed.
Animal House is one of the greatest movies of all time, right behind the Blues Brothers.

Just a Guy said...

I read your blog every day, but rarely check out the comments. Was wondering your thoughts on this

A. Buck Short said...

Not quite as good as that old punchline, “We wanted to wait until the kids had died.”

I’m with you on Maura Tierney. She grew up literally across the street from us in Hyde Park. (Her dad was our city councilman, and her mom Pat - a really attractive and delightful woman -- both sold us our house and sold the same house for us when we moved to Texas.)

Not that anybody asked, but I feel awful about Patrick Swayze; another guy who was nice to me when he didn’t have to be while all this was going on. I keep reading that his “fans” heard about the cancer in March of ’08. But I don’t think it was public until several months later – or else I would have remembered. He was here for the USA Film Festival the last week in April ’08 with a small docudrama called “Jump” about the murder trial of the famous Life Magazine photographer Phillipe Halsman in then-nazifying Austria. My job was to drive around and hang with one of the other actors in the picture, Sybil Danning (hey somebody had to do it:), which also gave me some time with Patrick. He was subdued for those several days (the sensitive character from “Ghost,”) and it later became clear that he had known about the cancer for the previous 2 or 3 months.

We were at one of the parties and Sybil showed unusual concern, asking if Patrick had gone off alone somewhere. I just assumed it was another of those situations where the actor had a drug habit, but later realized she’d obviously been aware of and concerned about the situation.

Despite the circumstance he liked something I’d told him and repeated it back with a laugh. He played Halsman’s Jewish lawyer with just the right understatement. The fortress-like structure they used as the jail during the trial had some sort of a moat, so you see him standing in a boat being rowed to the entrance. I offered that if I were ever sent to prison, I’d also want one with a nice water feature.

Speaking of exploitive, does anybody know if Kanye West had been pre-booked to be on the premiere of the Leno Show tonight – or is this just a case of over-the-top stunting? I mean can you see the meeting, “OK, Kanye, we’ve got you opening night. As you know we’ve been hyping the crap out of this, so if you can think of some way to make your appearance special you can be a regular. PS, is it just me or are there too many people in the business with names that sound like the relatively unusual name “Zucker?” They’re like the Turtletaubs of this generation.

WV: patio
What's Irish and stays out in the rain? Paddy O'Furniture.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't let The Blues Bros. comment go without response. I really really wanted that to be good...I saw it the day it came out in the summer of 1980 and was amazed at how crappy it was. For old time's sake, I watched it on cable a few weeks ago. Many of the musical numbers are fun to watch, but the comedy is non-existent. We didn't know it in 1980, but it was the first of the funny-at-skit-length SNL premises that turned out to suck at feature length.
Maybe people feel nostalgic about it because Belushi died. Animal House was much better, and holds up better, too.

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

During the showcase of "Upfronts and Personal," I sat in front of someone who suspiciously resembled the author. I introduced myself to Cliff Levine: "I want to shake the hand of the man who made the man who wrote this fine play."

Cliff was, uh, taken aback. He had no idea who this fool was.

I love it!!!

Different topic:

God bless Patrick Swayze.
He was such a stud...and decent man.

Carpe Diem. Which I think loosly translates to, "Grab your fish," or something like that...

gottacook said...

I've had several opportunities in the last few months to buy the "Double Secret Probation" special-edition DVD of Animal House (for $5) and each time decided not to. This is probably because I don't actually need to own a copy; that is, I already know the movie too well.

I think Animal House towers above The Blues Brothers, in part because of the self-indulgent, over-the-top, sheer wastefulness of the later film (a good source of detail about this is the 1988 book about John Landis's career, Outrageous Conduct: Art, Ego and the Twilight Zone Case). It should have been funnier, but given the self-evident desire to make the "biggest" comedy since It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, I don't know whether it could have been funnier.

Wojciehowicz said...

I didn’t want his words to live forever. I wanted HIM to live forever.

I think he would have been the first one to exclaim, "what are you, a sadist?!"

And then there’s CLOUD 9 about an overweight 67-year-old woman having an affair with a 76-year old man and the movie is filled with nudity, explicit sex, and close ups. So it's a horror movie.

It sounds like 25% of German porn. Oh wait, it is German. How did I know?

The quality of late night fare on premium movie channels has really gone downhill. Where are those fabulous “women in prison” movies?

Sybil Danning is 62 now. I refer you back to Cloud 9.

Forget Kanye West. I gave up watching in the first few minutes of Russel Brand's monologue. He makes me want to put my foot through the television AND him every time he is on. Kanye West was just a bonus bit of of WTF, and not as good as previous years. So it seems even buffoonery has gone downhill.

A. Buck Short said...

"Sybil Danning is 62 now. I refer you back to Cloud 9."

I know that and stilI can't explain it. In person she was nothing like what she looks like or acts on the screen or in publicity stills. In fact, I have never seen a photo of her that looked like the person I met. At least two years ago, slim, lithe, straight blonde early 70’s hair. I realize there are procedures and stuff, but the woman did not look over 35. Incredibly polite,smart, energetic, undemanding and serious. -- I have no idea how she gets nothing but these Amazon, tough broad roles -- unless, hey if you've got a niche, stick with it?

And to anser your question, no, I've been smitten and this wasn't a case of that. Just my luck, I was hoping for the dominatrix.

LouOCNY said...

I haven't(or plan)to read the Animal House comments in the SF Chronicle, but....don't they sort of disprove their own theory by saying it 31 yearsafter the movie comes out??? Just wondering....

Blaze Morgan said...

Well, I heartily disagree that "Animal House" doesn't have legs. As the LouOCNY said, if they're still using it as a benchmark after a generation, it still has weight in comedy film history.

It's also an example of how "art" and "skill" transcend the formula-recipe in movie making. There have been a thousand stupid frat boys doing gross prank movies since "Animal House" (up to the current schlock now showing in a cinema near you), but mostly they're not funny at all. But, if you sit and itemize the rude gags and bits in "Animal House", they read the same as any Apatow crap.

Some combination of acting talent, comedic timing, careful staging and I don't-know-what-all makes "Animal House" hilarious and its descendants mostly a wate of time.

Tom Quigley said...

I think a large part of the appeal of ANIMAL HOUSE as opposed to other movies of a like genre, is that no matter how zany, crude or depraved those guys seemed to be, there was something about them that made you want to care for them and care about what happened to them. Basically, these guys were honest in letting us know that their main goal was just to enjoy themselves and have a good time (and not let a little thing like college get in the way), and were going up against a group of people with an agenda who were out to get them. I see too many more recent movies where the main characters are ill-defined, have no redeeming social value whatsoever (or sense of values -- take any Pauly Shore movie for example -- and yes, even negative values can be values) and I feel little or no sympathy for them.

Rock Golf said...

Ken, I read your comment on whether Animal House will stand the test of time literally minutes after posting on another site that I think Gelbart's "A Funny Thing Happened..." will still be funny in a hundred years.

What 20th century comedies, (film, stage or TV) do you think will still have them rolling in the aisles in 2100?

WV: hingl - Pat got cut off??

Vermonter17032 said...


I agree that NBC appears to have raised the white flag with a prime time Leno. However, on one level this programming is pure genius. If they had four or five new shows in the 10 p.m. slot instead of just one, a month from now they'd be announcing the cancellation of five shows. Now they will just have to announce the cancellation of one show... thus improving their performance 500%.

Anonymous said...

I say Animal House is sure to outlast the SF Chronicle, and for that to happen it only needs to "stand the test of time" for another 2-3 years...

AlaskaRay said...

"I have to disagree about Ellen on Idol. She marks the beginning of the end."

Actually, I think Ellen marks the end of the end (I hope)for Idol.


Wojciehowicz said...

While it is often said that reality television, and we all know that is stretching the definition of reality, is slowly destroying the television writer's markets. I would think then that the next salvo is for a series that spoofs reality television by having the entire thing only slightly real, with actual contestants, but with fake crew and staff who are only characters and the contestants don't really know it.

So let Ellen be on Idol. She might give us almost as much material as Paula gave the world. Meet the Spartans comes to mind.

Benny said...

LOVE the quick snapshots in your misc. columns, Ken. Would love to hear your comments on Kanye's fake, inarticulate "apology" on Leno. Seems to me, if you didn't hate him from the previous night's VMAs, this sealed the deal.

Kirk Jusko said...

I couldn't believe just how bland Jay Leno's new show is. I think he and his entire production staff was just going through the motions.

However, his joke about making a billion dollars in the cash for clunkers program did make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Ever hear of Kristen Wiig, Ken? That being said, dumping Michaela Watkins was all kinds of stupid and is proof negative that Lorne Michaels is more lucky than good at what he's doing...

tb said...

Harrison Ford wants to do another "Indiana Jones" movie? Did he not see the scathing episode of South Park where the kids tried to have Speilberg & Lucas arrested for the rape of Indiana Jones? I never laughed so hard

Anonymous said...

Ken, I was suprised that you brought up Swayze in "Ghost."

During his illness, I kept thinking about his M*A*S*H guest spot where he's a soldier who learns he has leukemia.

His character's brave, selfless reaction presaged the way Swayze acted decades later when faced with a similar situation in real life.

The other plot in the episode was Fr. Mulcahy's crabby behavior while trying to please a visiting cardinal.

It might be his most dramatic scene in the series when Mulcahy chides himself from the pulpit about his selfishness over a trivial matter compared to the Swayze character's selflessness.

benson said...

Three things. Happy Birthday to Mr. Levine. I lost my dad thirty years ago. He would've been 90 today. I envy you having yours still around.

I forgot about the MASH episode. Wow.

Still Leno's going through less motions than Letterman. There's a show that's really become stale.

jbryant said...

Wojciehowicz: That hypothetical faux reality show you describe sounds not unlike Spike TV's The Joe Schmo Show from a few years back. In that case, only one contestant was kept in the dark (the first season at least -- didn't see the next).

Anonymous said...

I agree that Kristin Wiig is great... always better than her material, however good or bad the material is.

As for Lorne Michaels' infallibility, let's not forget he's also responsible for that travesty, Jimmy Fallon.

Anonymous said...

Ironically Circus Vargas is set up at this very moment out side my place off Topanga Canyon. In a related story, Casey's Tavern on Sherman Way is reporting booming daytime business.


Tom Quigley said...

Anonymous said...

"I agree that Kristin Wiig is great... always better than her material, however good or bad the material is."...

Proud to say that Kristen is a native of the town I live in, just outside of Rochester. From what I understand she didn't even get the performing bug until college and then a stint in The Groundlings in L.A. I think she's turned out to be one of the most talented SNL cast members to come along in years.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I was momentarily confused by your first two paragraphs and thought John Madden had become an Idol judge. He may not know singing, but he can mark up the screen to analyze dance moves. And happy birthday to your dad.

VW: cherr. Former wife of sonnnny.

estiv said...

Why did SNL fire Michaela Watkins? She was the funniest cast member on that show?

Maybe that's why...

For some reason I lost more respect for Lorne Michaels when I saw Steve Martin and Paul Simon together on Jimmy Fallon's show, and realized they were there only as a favor to LM, not because they had any real interest in JF. It's not that they were bad, but it was such obvious whoring, to be blunt. With hindsight, those magical first seasons of SNL look more and more like luck on LM's part.

tb said...

John Madden on Idol! Now THAT'S thinking outside the box!

darms said...

Sad to watch Patrick Swayze's death but as for Ghost? My exe still (&will always) owe me for making me watch that bit of tripe

D. McEwan said...

"A. Buck Short said...
Speaking of exploitive, does anybody know if Kanye West had been pre-booked to be on the premiere of the Leno Show tonight – or is this just a case of over-the-top stunting?"

He was already booked. he's listed as appearing on Leno's show in the issue fo ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY that arrived in my mailbox last Friday, and must have gone to press Wednesday. When Kanye started weeping, I hit fast-forward. (Just because he's on at 10, doesn't mean I have to watch it then, or at all. I haven't been back since Monday.)

Paul Duca said...

They're dropping like flies again...Swayze's triumverate includes now includes Mary Travers and Henry Gibson.
Or for those of more esoteric tastes, "Basketball Diaries" author/musician Jim Carroll and tennis star Jack Kramer.

WV; botigh==dictionary phonetic

Anonymous said...

two chicks kissing? it must be sweeps season for blogs