Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Random rants

Otherwise known as "Short attention-span blogging"…

There’s something terribly wrong when the animated episode of COMMUNITY is eligible for an Emmy but not episodes of existing animated series.  I say THE SIMPSONS should kill Bart and submit it for Best Drama. 

Arsenio Hall is back. He’ll have a late-night talk show next fall. Can Joan Rivers, Magic Johnson, Tempest Bledsoe, Craig Kilbourne, Tony Danza, and Caroline Rhea be far behind?

SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN is one of the few success stories this summer boxoffice season. Someone compared it to DIE HARD. Really? Will studio pitches by writers now be Snow White on a train, Snow White on a cruise ship?

The Critics Choice Awards were given out last night. What? You hadn’t heard? HOMELAND won Best Drama. What’s significant is that MAD MEN lost. COMMUNITY won as Best Comedy but only finished second as best Cartoon Series.  Julianne Moore was named the Best Actress in a Movie/Mini-series for GAME CHANGE. So Sarah Palin finally won something.

The three things in life you can always count on -- death, taxes, and Adam Sandler's new movie bombing. How many more until Hollywood finally gets wise and realizes he’s the next Mike Myers?

From my daughter, Annie on air travel: Why would anyone pay for headphones to see THE ARTIST?

A writer friend of mine wondered -- Rodney king had swimming pool?

Glad SUITS is back. But I don’t know why everyone makes a big deal about the young attorney. He’s Doogie Lawyer. The real star is the other guy -- Gabriel Macht. He’s this year’s Julian McMahon.

Can’t wait for the new Aaron Sorkin show.  It debuts Sunday night on HBO. 

I'm especially looking forward to Jane Fonda playing her former husband, Ted Turner.   Not only did she get a nice settlement in the divorce, now she can write off the entire marriage as research.  

It’s the graduation time of the year, complete with commencement speeches. So far, the most inspiring this June comes from Universal President and COO, Ron Meyer, who told the graduating seniors of UCLA “You don’t have to be an asshole to succeed.”

Warning to Mariners fans: I’ll be calling the games this weekend in San Diego.

Creepiest idea ever: The Landmark Theaters in West L.A. (and I assume elsewhere) have a theater with no chairs. Just couches. That’s fine for couples. But there are also longer couches, which you are asked to share with complete strangers. Yeah, I want to see MAGIC MIKE sitting next to two guys I don’t know. Or the TWILIGHT SAGA with two teenagers going at it.

A number of you have asked what I thought of the new book for former NBC President, Warren Littlefield? I’ve very much looking forward to it, but haven’t read it yet.  From what I hear, he claims Don Ohlmeyer did not live by Ron Meyer's rule. 

Who do Red Soxs fans hate more -- Alex Rodriguez or Bobby Valentine?

Roger Clemens was acquitted yesterday of all perjury charges. I don’t think there’s one baseball fan who still doesn’t believe he took steroids.

There’s a new Jiffy Lube opening in Reseda. Scheduled to appear: the Stanley Cup.

Thanks to everyone who has bought my new book. Please feel free to write an overly complimentary review on the Amazon page. Or buy it if you haven’t already.

I noticed this at two airports last weekend: A sign as you entered TSA security checks said if you were born on this day in 1937 or before you no longer had to remove your belt and shoes. I guess it’s official. The retirement age for terrorists is now 75.

And finally, congratulations to June Foray who just won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Performance in an Animated Program. How old is June? Let’s just say she hasn’t had to take her belt and shoes off for almost twenty years. You may not know the name but you sure know the pipes. June is the voice of Rocky the flying Squirrel, Natasha, a bunch of Smurfs, and only a million others. Iconic Looney Tunes director, Chuck Jones once said, "June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray." Congratulations, June. Many more.


David Schwartz said...

I second the congratulations for June Foray! A few additional credits: Cindy Lou Who on the classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" cartoon. Granny on the Tweety bird cartoons and Witch Hazel on the Bugs Bunny cartoons (that's the witch whose bobby pins fly off when she flies away on her broomstick). She also worked with Stan Freberg on his classic radio series and comedy records. Such an amazing talent!

The Curmudgeon said...

Join in the kudos for June Foray!

But, now, in re: Rocket.

Maybe he did take 'roids. Jose Coconut says just about everyone did. And SI had a very sobering piece a few weeks back about guys who didn't take steroids and whose careers stalled out and one who did take the juice, made it to the bigs, won a ring, and then almost killed himself.

But if MLB didn't actually encourage steroid use, it sure as heck turned a blind eye to rampant steroid use. Even the sportswriters, the guardians of Baseball's Valhalla, all so simon-pure now -- they all cackled and giggled and kept their mouths shut when Sammy So-so said he used nothing stronger than Flinstones Vitamins.

Ty Cobb is in the Hall of Fame. A bigot as well as a scoundrel, Cobb, as much as any player, bears responsibility for keeping the "color line" intact in the majors. The only individual more responsible? Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis -- who vetoed Bill Veeck's purchase of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1944 because Veeck acknowledged he would stock the team with Negro League stars. And yet, when Landis died, shortly after, he was immediately elevated to the HOF.

Gaylord Perry was elected to the Hall -- and he was one of the most creative cheaters of all time.

Why should steroid users be turned away now? Especially when MLB did everything but provide the needles?

Clemens belongs in the Hall of Fame. Even if he is a lying jerk.

Paul Duca said...

As well as innumerable TV commercials...here is a classic one from 1965:


Paul Duca said...

Not a rant, but random...Me TV honors the late Sky Saxon by using the Seeds' "Pushing Too Hard" in the promo for its "Groovy Tuesday" summer primetime lineup of THE BRADY BUNCH, THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW, THAT GIRL, and LOVE AMERICAN STYLE

Brian Phillips said...

I cannot share in the congratulations for June Foray. It is typical of the Emmys to do something just like this. Foray is a newcomer, flash-in-the-pan that will be forgotten by next year. I say if she does a bit more work, in something other than cartoons, she will be worthy of such recognition.

And if you don't know I'm kidding by this point, I'll have Ms. Foray cast a spell on you in one of her witch voices. Well, first, I will have to meet June Foray, then befriend her...THEN I will, etc.

To Paul Duca: a friend of mine and I agree that Me TV sounds like it is staffed with people that have actually watched and are aware of the programs they schedule. On the other end of the scale, in Atlanta you have our local TV station WANN, MOXiE, and the slogan is "Whose Got MOXiE", no question mark. They even managed to bypass what I believe to be the l"!ogical choice, "You've Got MOXiE

Michael said...

The Curmudgeon beat me to it. How many people who violated the rules of baseball or the law have gotten into the Hall of Fame? Well, ok, Clemens was undoubtedly a cheater. Buthe would have been out of baseball for cheating if Bud Selig had been alive.

And I yield to no one in my wonderment at the talents of June Foray.

DwWashburn said...

R/E Sandler -- I'm only a consumer of entertainment products. I don't work in the business. But I am constantly amazed as to how performers who seem to be in one bomb after another continue to get work, and at premium prices. Case in point -- Jennifer Aniston. She is becoming the Paris Hilton of 1990s actors. Right now she's only famous for being famous. Sure not because of her box office potential.

R/E Clemens -- I did not keep up with the trial but I pretty much knew from day one that he would go free. There are different rules in this country for celebrities being brought before either juries or review boards. Clemens and Braun are prime examples in baseball.

R/E Ms Foray -- High time this happened. Congrats. A great line from Will and Grace. Karen looked at Grace's hairdo and said "What do you have in there Mousse AND Squirrel?"

jbryant said...

Adam Sandler's last two films have performed below expectations, as did FUNNY PEOPLE in 2009. But 2010's GROWN UPS was his biggest worldwide hit (and the upcoming sequel will likely do well, too), and 2011's JUST GO WITH IT also did quite well. So if there's a trend here, it's in its infancy.

The only inevitability re a new Sandler film is that the vast majority of critics will hate it.

MBunge said...

"Case in point -- Jennifer Aniston. She is becoming the Paris Hilton of 1990s actors."

That's unfair. Aniston's problem is that she keeps taking the girlfriend role that other actresses largely leave behind when they reach her level of fame. I mean, it's one thing to be Adam Sandler's love interest but what the heck was Aniston doing playing the girlfriend part opposite Steve frickin' Zahn?


Rich D said...

Out of all the former late night hosts I would love to see return I would pick Allan Havey to come back for a new version of NIGHT AFTER NIGHT on Comedy Central.

John said...

If you want your childhood memories to be absolutely, totally creeped out, find a copy of this, which June did the voice-over for but wasn't told exactly what images were going to be paired with it. Ugh (I'd prefer to keep my association with June's voices and sex to the coquettish one used for the end gag of "Broom-Stick Bunny", where the beautified Witch Hazel gets chased by the Bob Hope-ish mirror genie).

Also, you'll know the Sawx fans really hate Bobby V when they start clamoring for Boston to rehire Don Zimmer.

JT Anthony said...

Does critical acclaim matter for Adam Sandler if he still brings in the dough for the studios?

A massive failing in the courts to let Clemens off the hook. Andy Pettitte is a disgrace to integrity and baseball.

Clemens' latest case wasn't about steroids per se, but about whether he lied to Congress. Despite this outcome, will he make the hall of fame? Does he or Barry Bonds deserve the honor?

Steve from Vermont said...

"Who do Red Soxs fans hate more -- Alex Rodriguez or Bobby Valentine?"

Josh Beckett

DJ said...

The thing with Bonds is that you can pretty much deduce when he started juicing (around 2000), and can therefore readily split his career into pre- and post-juice periods. And when you look at his pre-juice period...he was a phenomenal baseball player, a true five-tool player. I think he will make the Hall of Fame, but it will take quite a while before the animosity fades away and people look at his record objectively.

Breadbaker said...

What, Chevy Chase's talk show isn't being revived?

Dickey R A said...

Good piece by Larry Stone RE Clemens, steroids and the HOF.


Johnny Walker said...

Who's angry over 75? I don't think anyone can live that long without life mellowing them out.

I can just imagine a 75 year old's response: "'Death to the West'? Ah, what's the point? I'm more concerned that they'll have food I can chew on the plane."

Larry said...

I'm not with you on the new Aaron Sorkin show. If anything, I'm dreading it. If it's anything like how it's being described, I don't care how witty the banter is, I'm not going to tune in each week to be lectured on the truth by a rich Hollywood writer.

tb said...

The Stanley Cup at Jiffy Lube?
Are you serious?

Steve said...

Friday question:

Do you know if there were any discussion about having Sam's ex-wife appear at some point on Cheers? I always expected that she'd pop up at some point; seemed like a built-in way to create some drama somewhere down the line. I assume it's rare (for a long-running show) to have something like that mentioned in the exposition that then never got used at all.

Mariana said...


Sam's ex-wife Debra is in the second episode of Season 1, "Sam's Women."

Michael said...

I read that two of the groups to watch are children and much older people at airports because it's easier for someone to come up and ask them to do a favor, and thereby bring something on the plane that shouldn't go on. But our whole airport security system is screwed up anyway; it would make a good cartoon for June Foray to do the voices!

The Curmudgeon said...

@ Dickey R A (that's how it's done among the Young People, right?)

Mr. Stone's piece arrives at the only possible conclusion, albeit too tentatively to suit me, but it illustrates my point: The HOF should be about numbers on the field, not the controversies outside the lines.

Baseball could have cracked down on steroids long before it did. It didn't want to. It wanted the fans to recommit after the '94 work stoppage -- and the owners heard that chicks dig the long ball and they believed.

I'm not defending users generally or Clemens in particular. But they were products of their time, just as all ballplayers in all eras are. Would Ruth have been as dominant if the majors had been integrated when he played? (I'd guess not -- but we can't prove it.) But we can only judge Ruth by his performance in the games (and not by his drinking and carousing after).

Stone makes a good point about Bonds, too. He was on an HOF arc before juicing to keep up with the McGwires and Sosas of the world. (Oh, gosh. I mean, allegedly juicing....) He could see what the other players and fans and owners and sportswriters saw. And he could see they didn't consider it wrong because they didn't say or do anything to stop it or even complain about it.

What are you supposed to do? Vote twice for Frank Thomas -- who was always huge and never suspected of doing anything illegal -- and leave Bonds and Sosa (who started their careers as skinny runceputs) out despite their better numbers?

Ken... your perspective would be interesting on this.

Michael said...

Hi Ken,

Could you comment on Adam Carolla's comments today about most women not being funny? I'm guessing as someone who worked historically in a world with few female writers and as the father of a female writer you will have something to add. You can find his comments on Slate by the way.

Mike I.

D. McEwan said...

Calling Adam Sandler "the next Mike Meyers" is an insult to Meyers. Meyers is an obnoxious auteur, he conceives and writes his own bombs, and has an ego the size of Wisncosin. Sandler is just a no-talent "comic" actor.

As delighted as I am that wonderful June Foray, whom I've had the pleasure of knowing slightly for many decades, finally won a long-overdue Emmy, it is mixed with dissappointment, as one of the other nominees she beat was another old friend and former performing partner of mine, Rodger Bumpass. Couldn't it have been a tie? (I sent Rodger a message before the ceremony: "Beat the crap out of that bitch Foray and take your prize. She'll have plenty of other opportunities, She's only 94." He failed to take my advice.)

I've read the Warren Littlefield book, and I found it fascinating, in large part, because it allows everyone who would participate the chance to tell their sides of the stories in their own words. Mr. Zucker won't care for it much, nor Mr. Ohlmeyer.

Sue said...

Right on The Curmudgeon. MLB and the owners and managers all turned their heads because multiple homeruns puts fans in the seats. The sad fact of the matter is that if you do not have the God given talent of a Barry Bonds, a shot or a pill is not going to give you that kind of talent. It was not illegal at the time. Was it cheating? Yes, but that was an ethical decision at that time. Point well taken from the SI article referred to. Those that were mediocre and clean did not make the bigs but even if they had taken steroids I doubt that they could ever have had the kind of career of a Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. I am not defending the off field personalities just the on field magic that really talented players have with or without the juice.

JT Anthony said...

It doesn't seem right to separate pre and post-steroid performance as it must be considered as one, especially given the "character clause" as criterion to consider in the election.

Does it matter whether Ruth or Cobb were creepy scumbags when considering the steroid-era players for the HOF?

If we use your argument about performance alone, then Pete Rose should be the first one elected--ignoring his betting on games and the documents he signed banning him for life. Statistically, Rose was a stud (baseball deity), and should be included.

In fact, there's a fair argument to elect all these guys regardless of steroid use. They achieved HOF numbers, but many of them were only suspected of steroid use. Despite our collective suspicions, "baseball" never confirmed use with tangible evidence. Some, but not all.

I don't want them in the HOF personally, but I find it hard to argue otherwise. Would be great to get your opinion, Ken.

Pat Reeder said...

Add my congratulations to the great June Foray, whom I'm thrilled to hear is still healthy and active. I met her a few years back at a film festival in Dallas, and she was as nice as she is talented. That's where I got one of my prized possessions: an autographed copy of the LP of the Best of the Stan Freberg Radio Shows.

As for Roger Clemens, I don't think the jury didn't believe he used steroids or HGH so much as they didn't think federal prosecutors should blow $10 million of the taxpayers' money trying to send someone to prison for 30 years because his comments contradicted those of the collection of Runyonesque sleazebags they called as witnesses. If lying in the halls of Congress is a felony, let's lock up the entire current Congress and start over.

Nat Gertler (Sitcom Room alum) said...

I look forward to seeing the wonderful Ms. Foray win her second Emmy in another 94 years!

I'm a bit befuddled by one commenter's depiction of Aniston as a box office bomber. 4 of her last five movies grossed more than twice their production budget, which takes them out of "bomb" territory. Two of the last three crossed the $200 million mark.

Steve said...

If I may submit a Friday question Ken: any comments on Adam Carolla?

I frankly think he's full of it and you may not want to step into this minefield but I was curious for your take.

chris mcdermott said...

Ken, if you were a chick you'd have known last season the hot guy in suits is Harvy.
Enjoying "Where the Hell Am I? very much. And I'm sure I'm not the first to ask when is your book on the '70's coming out? You got a lot of us hooked on your life, now we all want to hear the next chapter!

Adam said...

"D. McEwan said...
Calling Adam Sandler "the next Mike Meyers" is an insult to Meyers. Meyers is an obnoxious auteur, he conceives and writes his own bombs, and has an ego the size of Wisncosin. Sandler is just a no-talent "comic" actor."

While I am not a fan of most of Adam Sandler's work or of his style of comedy I have to respectfully disagree with this. Since 1995 (Billy Madison) Adam Sandler has been the star in 22 pictures. Of those he has been a producer on 15 of them (EP on 8) and written 9 of them. Not to mention the other films he producers that he does not star in. He is very involved in the making of his films and to call him just a "comic actor" is not factually sound.

While his newest film looks like it will be unsuccessful and his last film (Jack and Jill) was critically ravaged and a box office disappointment (not an all out flop, however) he still has an amazing track record at the box office. Out of the 22 films where he is the star, 12 have made over $100 million in the US. His earlier films may have made much less but compared to their budget were financially successful. Out of his star films he has really only had 4 Disappointments (Breaking even or coming close) and 4 Flops (Not even coming close to breaking even).

Out of his 8 less successful pictures he was a hyphenate on 4 of them. Meaning 4 of "his" pictures haven't done well while 4 pictures where is was the star have not done well (Funny People is considered a Judd Apatow failure, Spanglish is considered a James L. Brooks failure).

I guess what I am trying to say is I believe Adam Sandler is more than just a "comic actor" and is far from being box office poison or a failure. Jack and Jill was worse than his movies usually are and it still made money (if counting WW grosses, I know the studio does) and his newest picture is a hard R which makes it harder for his usual demographic (15 year old boys) to see.

Adam said...

I forgot about one of his starring roles, Bulletproof. I don't know what the budget on it was so I can't tell if it was a flop or a disappointment. It's possible it made a bit of money but with no way to check that I don't feel comfortable making that call. So feel free to adjust my above figures with this new information.

Ref said...

Sandler generally makes money.I also read somewhere recently that, outside of his roles, he's a fairly nice guy who is generous to others. The only film of his I liked, or could stand, was The Wedding Singer. Not coincidentally, it also seems to be the only one in which he doesn't use the "whiny little kid voice."

An (is my actual name) said...

D. McEwan - As a Shelley Long fan, I have to say that Littlefield's book made some of these guys sound like bitter exes that still hadn't gotten over being dropped by her. The whole "better off without her" position is specious, IMO. Littlefield made similar remarks on the Howard Stern Show that left me equally unimpressed. I hate to see this talented woman get marginalized and her massive contribution diminished after all this time by people who should be bigger than that. I somehow doubt she was asked for her take on the Cheers years.

MikeN said...

Adam Sandler is a very talented actor, and if I were running a studio, I would be happy to have him in my film. It would be nice to guarantee $50 million in sales and probably $100 million.

By Ken Levine said...

My post tomorrow will focus on Adam Carolla and my take on his latest comments. You can thank me by buying my book.

Breadbaker said...

Ken, didn't you say that Rangers announcer Dave Barnett was a friend? I was sorry to hear that he has been taken ill. I hope he's all right.

By Ken Levine said...

My friend is Eric Nadel although I know and like Dave a lot. My very best wishes to him.

edward said...

You're going to see Magic Mike?

Johnny Walker said...

I hadn't heard of Littlefield's book until these comments about it. Now I'm really wondering what you make of it, Ken!

Lawrence Fechtenberger said...

For those interested in seeing as well as hearing June Foray, she turns up in--of all things--the 1966 TV production of DEATH OF A SALESMAN, in which Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock reprised their roles from the original Broadway production. Foray has a small role, the secretary of Willy Loman's neighbor Charlie. She also, more typically, does some voice work--she is the operator heard when Biff tries to call Willy on the road; my guess would be that the producers hired her for that, and then decided to get the maximum use of her while she was on the set.

She also appears in a 1950s movie entitled SABAKA, a rather dreary imitation of Kipling. She plays the leader of an evil Indian cult. The DVD that I have crops the image very badly, with the result that Foray--a very short woman--is often left out of the picture. So, even when she got a prominent on-camera role, she ended up as just a voice. (This DVD also represents the film as a Boris Karloff vehicle, though he is in it for no more than ten minutes.)

cadavra said...

Quick June story: I asked her if she'd take a cameo role in a movie I'm going to do if/when we get the financing. She was flattered but demurred, saying it had been so long since she'd been in front of the camera that she didn't think she could memorize lines anymore. I told her we'd be happy to use cue cards (the gag was that June Foray plays a character who doesn't speak until the very end of the scene), but she still declined. A few days later, I saw her again, and she said, "Mike, you're such a dear friend--if you really want me in your movie, I'll do it." Now THAT is one classy dame!

Jan said...

So if you were born one day from today in 1937, you must still remove your shoes, etc.? Well, I guess you have to draw the line somewhere.