Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Rants, raves, and an RIP

Thursday I will be filling in again for Marilu Henner on her nationally syndicated radio show.  Check your local listings.  This is the kind of crap I'll be talking about: 

A recent poll listed Donald Sterling as the current most hated man in America, although if last weekend’s boxoffice tally is any indication, Seth MacFarlane may have that distinction.

His movie is the absolute bomb of the year. Flatline and disaster are the two most charitable descriptions of his opening weekend total. Where does this guy think he’s an actual movie star? Or such a big name entertainer he can host the Academy Awards? I swear, it’s like the old SNL “Judy Miller Show” except we can all see him.

Typical review: “There are A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. I didn’t know boredom was one of them.” That was actually a kind review.

MacFarlane also wrote it.  Example of the hilarity (and I kid you not): Neil Patrick Harris defecates into hats for two minutes.  Wow.  Set a place at the Algonquin Round Table for this first-class wit. 

RIP Ann B. Davis. Most know her as Alice from THE BRADY BUNCH but she was truly great as Schultzy on LOVE THAT BOB. I used to watch that show as a kid. How young? I couldn’t wait for all the smoking hot bombshell blondes to get off the screen so Schultzy could come back and make me laugh. She won two Emmys for that role.

This is election day in LA, which means for the last 72 hours our phone has been ringing off the hook with robo-calls plugging candidates. At least for big elections we get Clint Eastwood and Sally Field calling. For this we get local city officials. Why would an endorsement from someone I don’t know sway me to vote for a candidate I also don’t know?

The end result is I haven’t answered my phone in three days. I hope no relatives called from jail expecting me to bail them out.

Wow, these bandwagon seats are comfortable. Go L.A. Kings. Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals got a 4.8 share in Los Angeles and a 22.7 in Chicago. That’s staggering to me – that the LA share could be that high.

The best part of the Stanley Cup Finals is the spectacular Doc Emrick calling them. Oh… and the Kings. Go Kings.

For Best Actress in a Drama Emmy this year it should be a five-way tie between Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, Tatiana Maslany, and Tatiana Maslany for ORPHAN BLACK.

By the way, Seattle Mariner fans -- one of the characters Tatiana plays is named Cosima NIEHAUS.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's a tribute to Dave.   (I knew there's a reason she's my favorite clone.) 

Tonight is Hello Kitty Mini Bobblehead Night at Dodger Stadium. What does it say about how popular their big stars are when fans would rather get a Hello Kitty bobblehead than a current player? And not even a full-size one.

Huffington Post Headline: Lena Dunham’s Dog Bit Her ‘On The Ass.’ Which means we’ll all get to see the teeth marks on future GIRLS episodes.

This mystery man who calls himself @HiddenCash stuffed 36 Angry Bird toys with money and hid them in Hermosa Beach, thus causing a frenzy of scavengers racing around trying to find them. This is reminiscent of old radio contests in the ‘50s and ‘60s (since banned by the FCC). The station would say they buried a gold key worth thousands of dollars and would then give clues as to its whereabouts. The trouble is people were then digging everywhere and the entire city would look like Berlin after World War II. 

KHJ radio in 1970 had a contest where a disc jockey (the Real Don Steele) was in a mobile unit announcing where he would be to give away free money. A listener en route got into an accident and died. His family sued Steele and KHJ. (They won.) But this is a famous case that is taught in most law schools. Yes, the Real Don Steele is discussed at Harvard Law.

If you get a chance, the Don Rickles tribute on Spike (of all places) was loaded with laughs. Funniest speakers of the night (besides Mr. Warmth himself): Tina Fey & Amy Poehler and Robert DeNiro & Martin Scorsese. Least funny: David Letterman. It’s time, Dave. When Regis Philbin in funnier than you – it’s really time.

I would assume they’ll replay it. What else does Spike have?

The Tony Awards are Sunday, but of course you knew that.

Huffington Post Headline: Lea Michele Started Drinking As A Toddler.  I smell a Pulitzer for journalism...

Fellow 24 watchers – can you understand anything Kiefer Sutherland whispers? Half the show I’m going “What?”

We had a small earthquake in LA Sunday night. At one time the first thing you did was take cover. Now you post on Facebook, and then (only if there’s still time), you flee for cover.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Toronto Blue Jays – who knew???

Jeff Zucker is doing another bang-up job. The man who irreparably destroyed NBC is now working his magic on CNN. Last Friday night’s 10 pm ratings were the worst in 14 years. In adults 25-54 they scored a paltry 35,000. There are days this blog does better than that. Here’s an idea: Let Jeff Zucker run Russia.

I guess I should vote. It’s hard to tell the local candidates from the Tony nominees.


PMC said...

Hello. I know this is off-topic, but I think you'll enjoy this great profile of Vin Scully: http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2014/6/2/5764256/vin-scully-career-retrospective-dodgers-broadcaster-profile

Pat Reeder said...

When I first read about the millionaire hiding cash around town, I immediately thought of those infamous radio contests and imagined San Francisco homeless people ripping the parks apart and tearing the heads off of live squirrels to see if there was any money inside. What next? Is some Internet billionaire going to stuff frozen turkeys with cash and throw them out of helicopters?

Glad you mentioned Ann B. Davis' role as Schultzy. I never cared for "The Brady Bunch" (and having to listen to all their albums to write "Hollywood HiFi" didn't make me any more kindly disposed toward them), but I loved her on that show. It was before my time, but a local independent station in Dallas used to air reruns of it in the mornings when I was a kid, and I would watch it during summer vacation. I was too young then to realize that Bob Cummings had to be the gayest womanizer ever to appear on screen.

Igor said...

Ken wrote: "The trouble is people were then digging everywhere and the entire city would look like Berlin after World War II."

Too soon.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Ann Davis used the name Schultzie as her CB handle in "The Brady Bunch Movie". There was more wit in that reference than in the entire Brady Bunch series. With her death we're going to see tabloid headlines like "Alice's Secret Diary Tells of Marcia's Coke Orgies!"

Anonymous said...

We in Toronto knew about the Jays. This was supposed to happen last year but better late than never. I just hope they keep it up!

VP81955 said...

Apparently, "A Million Ways To Die In The West" makes "Blazing Saddles" (a western parody I love) look like Lubitsch.

Corey said...

Hey, it's Shavout tonight. Maybe the Dodgers should have a Moses holding the 10 Commandments bobble head doll...

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear we're not the only ones who think that Seth McFarlane is the luckiest guy in the business. Being a wise-ass is not a talent or a marketable skill, and he proves it every time he shows up on any screen. Lotsa guys think that anyone can do what Rickles/Pryor/Williams et al have done. They're all wrong, and McFarlane is the wrongest of this generation.
Please make him stop.

Jim said...

ABC didn't want Ann B. Davis on THE BRADY BUNCH because she was about as expensive as character actors get. Sherwood Schwartz, BRADY creator and producer, was determined to cast her, though, and finally persuaded the network that she was worth the money.

I'm sure the "I hate Seth McFarlane" and the "Seth McFarlane is a god" crowds are in full battle right now over his movie's poor opening. $16 million really isn't good. One thing people tend to forget or not be aware of, however much money a movie makes at the box office, that amount is split roughly even between producers and exhibitors. So if a movie makes $16 million dollars, the studio gets only about $8 million of that. Theater owners get the rest.

LFP said...

Kiefer Sutherland's lines on 24 usually consist of "Copy that," or "What's your 20?" so you're probably really not missing that much.

VincentS said...

Yes, the Don Rickles tribute was terrific. And didn't Jeff Zucker fire Aaron Sorkin off THE WEST WING? Genius!

Eric Buchman said...

I love these posts, and I was curious to read more about the KHJ case (I write for a legal show, and we're always looking for real & interesting cases to cite). According to the one link I found on the case, the family of the teens killed in the car accident actually WON their lawsuit against the station.


That clipping says the CA Supreme Court upheld the $250,000 verdict against KHJ, saying that "...neither the entertainment afforded by the contest nor its commercial rewards can justify the creation of such a grave risk."

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the verdict, this is probably where the case ended.

thomas tucker said...

As an aside, interesting to read about Robert Cummings' personal life on Wikipedia with multiple wives, 7 children, and addiction to methamphetamines which ultimately resulted in his destitution. Sad. At one time, he was the King of Mulholland Drive and on top of the world!

Paul Duca said...

The actual story is that it was another person who was killed in the accident caused by two people following Steele.

Ann B. Davis wasn't the first choice for the role of Alice. Sherwood Schultz cast veteran character actress Kathleen Freeman in the part (if you don't remember her off-hand, she was the nun who ran the Blues Brothers' orphanage, among other roles)

However, this was when Carol was to be played by Joyce Bullifant (Murray's wife Marie on THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW). When Florence Henderson got the role, it was felt there wasn't enough of a contrast between her and Freeman, so Davis got the call
(although Eve Plumb avoided that fate--she was cast as Jan because of her resemblance to Bullifant)

emily said...

Ken. Fargo?

Chet said...

Wasn't Nancy Kulp on LOVE THAT BOB, too? It's been years since I've seen it, but I seem to recall her. Whoever ran that show apparently found plain-looking, sex-starved females hilariously funny.

Matt Tauber said...

I don't understand your 'Who does he think he is?' take on Seth Macfarlane. He's not forcing himself on anybody. Studios and producers are backing these ventures. It should be 'Who do they think he is?'

blinky said...

I am totally in love with all 5 characters Tatiana plays on Orphan Black. SOOOOOO good. But seriously, which Dick Van Dyke did youwrite?

By Ken Levine said...


Do not believe everything you see on the internet.

Rick said...

Seth MacFarlane is involved with Cosmos and it doesn't suck. Go figure. On the other hand, it isn't funny so he's keeping his streak alive.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Regarding Seth MacFarlane -- I've never been a fan of his animated shows, and I was not a fan of his Oscar hosting, but he gave up some money and Sunday night time for the new Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson and for that I'll forgive him just about anything.

I can't recall who said it, but one of my favorite quotes is "Nobody is overpaid." If someone's willing to hand you more money than you should get, what are you supposed to do - say no?

Graham Powell said...

Re: the Hello Kitty nonsense. Last weekend I was at Book Expo America, where there were a number of high profile signings, as well as appearences by the likes of Jason Segal, Neil Patrick Harris, and writer John Green (for this crowd, a bigger star than Neil and Jason put together).

The longest line, though - a line longer than the one for Stan Lee - was for Grumpy Cat.

Unknown said...

Ken since it will now be a TV history legend to guess which episode you wrote of The Dick Van Dyke Show (when you were 12), you may as well pound out a script for the show and pass it off as the "never aired" epsiode.

The plot could be something racy for the time like Millie and Laura do Burlesque to buy Jerry and Rob golf clubs for Christmas.

Jonathan said...

"Where does this guy think he’s an actual movie star? Or such a big name entertainer he can host the Academy Awards?"

Saw the movie and it wasn't very good. But to answer your questions, in a world where Tina Fey can star in a series for seven years and be a leading lady in at least three movies, Seth MacFarlane has every right to think of himself as Gary Cooper, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, and James Garner all rolled into one.

KOB said...

TV's greatest catchphrases: a video compilation: http://happyplace.someecards.com/tv/someone-edited-together-all-the-greatest-catchphrases-in-tv-history/

D. McEwan said...

I'm sorry to read of the passing of Ann B. Davis. Back in the 1960s (When she was "Shultzy to me, then and forever), she came twice to see plays I was in, once in Long Beach, in 1966, and once in Hollywood, in 1969. She was a hoot, and made everyone feel very happy.

Jesse said...

Seth MacFarlane has every right to think of himself as Gary Cooper, Bob Hope, Gene Kelly, and James Garner all rolled into one.

You forgot Sinatra. He made an album, too. Mostly standards, I believe.

Anonymous said...

I imagine MacFarlane gets so many opportunities because he has a sponsor in high places (Rupert Murdoch or one of his minions at FOX).

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it's right to blame Seth for trying his best and failing. The problem is the lack of our current talent pool that allows studios to consider Seth a viable option.

Where are our comedic talents to replace Pryor, Carlin, Steve Martin, and David Letterman in their primes? Where's the new John Hughes? Where's the upcoming Bill Murray?

All we have now are a bunch of brainless, aimless frat boys and pussy-whips. Comedy clubs have turned into group therapy sessions and "story-telling" that's too often a victim-themed anecdote that belongs on Dr. Phil.

No wonder nerds are taking over comedy. They can still read a book from start to finish, and they don't have a lot of friends on Facebook, so they have time to reflect.

They win by forfeit. Being a loser is a strength.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous before me:

Interesting points about comedy and how weak it often seems. Most of the legendary comedians came from vaudeville or performed a lot in front of often tough live audiences to hone their material and timing. Even the Marx Bros. (who came from vaudeville) sometimes took the show on the road before making a movie to get feedback from live audiences.

Re Ann Davis, I've always loved her performance as Doris Day's secretary in Lover Come Back, wish she'd had more character roles in movies.

James Van Hise said...

Seth McFarlane can be funny. In spite of some bad decisions on that Oscar broadcast, he was still funnier than Billy Crystal's last outing where he did Sammy Davis Jr in blackface, which was more cringeworthy than McFarlane's "I Saw Your Boobs," and that's saying a lot. I saw McFarlane on stage at Comicon a few years ago and he is very funny.

McFarlane got to do A Million Ways To Die In The West because his previous film, TED, basically printed money for everyone involved. But he won't get that chance to do something like that again without a studio looking over his shoulder. It was like after Sin City was a hit they let Frank Miller do The Spirit, which was such a bomb that to this day Miller won't discuss the film, anywhere.

Barry Traylor said...

I am glad to see that you also find Seth MacFarlane about as funny as having root canal done without painkillers. How in the world to dopes like this keep having movies greenlit? I do not think I am a prude but give me a break.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh, the Letterman cult will be after you now. Don't you know that you are stupid for not liking his show?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ken,
SOOO many ways to go with this. I'm a big Family Guy fan so I like Seth MacFarlane (even his Oscars gig wasn't terrible IMHO) but I know what you mean, how's he a Hollywood Movie star? Some people need to have their movie-making licenses taken away. Are you reading this Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner & Adam Sandler? Case in point: Ryan Reynolds. Hollywood pushes him to be a Movie Star (Green Lantern, RIPD)- he's just a regular actor. He can't carry a franchise.

As for comedy- all my favorites don't care anymore: Howard Stern, David Letterman, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Jim Carrey. They are all fat, content, happy & rich beyond their wildest dreams that they simply don't put in the work. I remember when they were all at the top of their game. Funny, funny, funny. I recently watched Delirious & Raw- there's nothing like that out there now.

And yes Ken, why is Lena Dunham famous?
I just don't get it, --LL

Anonymous said...

Seth needs to just lose the hairpiece. It's too dark, and he never gets it set on his head correctly. I like the old one he had that was dark brown. Most men can't carry off jet black hairpieces.

Ben Kubelsky said...

I finally watched the whole Rickles tribute and actually found Johnny Depp to be the least funny, by far (also the least necessary person there). Letterman did just fine (not mind-blowing, not terrible), and even got a standing O! FRIDAY QUESTION: You've mentioned Johnny Carson several times over the years, but what is/are your take on the other latenight hosts, past and present? I'm talking Steve Allen, Jack Paar and Dick Cavett right through to the Jimmys.