Here's a rare sample of that morning's broadcast. I think it's too late to call in your requests however.
Coming tomorrow: the second annual "YOU fill in the punch line" exercise. Funny up!
Here's a rare sample of that morning's broadcast. I think it's too late to call in your requests however.
Coming tomorrow: the second annual "YOU fill in the punch line" exercise. Funny up!
I really liked BACK TO YOU. Yes, I know most of the people involved, and yes it isn’t groundbreaking, but so what? It made me laugh. It was a pleasure watching Kelsey Grammer and Patty Heaton together. They’re a master class in comic acting and timing.
Trust me, you have no idea. There are so many painfully mediocre actors out there (many forced upon showrunners by the networks). Not reacting to anyone else in the scene, stepping on laughs, crunching jokes, zero physical skills, and even in a few cases sneaking quick peeks to see if they’re on their mark. I watch shows, I spot these people and cringe. And some of them are household names. Many writing staffs spend 3/4 of their time just trying to hide these enemies of comedy. So to have the privilege of seeing two of the very best perform at their prime, that’s sure worth 22 minutes of my week.
And here’s where BACK TO YOU really won me over: There’s a point where Chuck (Kelsey) and Kelly (Patty) are about to go on-air live and Chuck learns he has a daughter by Kelly from one wild night. Two seconds later he launches into a pre-written commentary on coming back to Pittsburgh. And now, everything he says has a double meaning, “I left a part of me here”…”I was like a lone Allegany warrior, separated from his tribe, riding bareback and unprotected”, etc. I thought, that’s damn clever writing. Worthy of tuxedo shows (my expression for Emmy recognized shows).
And the fact that it has a very retro feel to it ironically makes it stand out. Why can’t audiences enjoy THE OFFICE and BACK TO YOU?
I haven’t seen any future episodes and like I said yesterday, the real key to a show’s success is how it evolves. But I’m rooting for it.
And they won’t have to hold down the Alamo very much longer. Reinforcements are on the way. Networks are developing a lot more multi-camera shows for next season.
Maybe they figured out, after the twentieth bad expensive “edgy” KNIGHTS OF PROSPERITY that when you look through the history of television, with very few exceptions (MASH being one), the classic sitcoms we still enjoy today were all multi-camera. I LOVE LUCY, THE HONEYMOONERS, PHIL SILVERS SHOW, DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, ALL IN THE FAMILY, MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, TAXI, ODD COUPLE, COSBY, CHEERS, FRASIER, FRIENDS, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, even SEINFELD -- all multi-camera. Count the laughs.
And by the way, not everyone died in the Battle of the Alamo. A few went on to write features.
On-camera/off-camera, with glasses/without glasses.
I always knew she was a terrific comedy writer and sexy (two compliments that are rarely used in the same sentence) but I never knew she was such a great showrunner. 30 ROCK, under her guidance, has grown tremendously since its debut.
Instead of giving Bonnie Hunt series after series, they should have given one to Tina Fey long ago.
Creating a show is almost the easy part. Sifting through the volumes of notes and suggestions from networks, studios, critics, “helpful” friends, research, talk shows, panhandlers, and worst of all – bloggers, Tina had to maintain her vision, identify the real problems, and find inventive fresh solutions. All the while starring in the damn thing. (What’s really tough is when the problem is YOUR character but happily, that’s not been the case.)
I don’t agree with those who felt 30 ROCK winning the Best Comedy Emmy was an upset. It’s smart, funny, and one of the few comedies that strives to be an actual comedy. It’s not “sitcomish”, it’s not a “dramady”, it’s not an improv “slice-of-life” that stumbles onto amusing things now and then. It aggressively wants to make you laugh. It employs funny people doing funny things. It eschews the tired rhythms of multi-camera sitcoms, and takes chances – Some lunacy, some social and political satire, and unpredictability.
But good jokes mean nada if there’s not good storytelling and 30 ROCK does a terrific job of juggling up to three subplots an episode and having them all come together at the end. It’s similar to what we did on MASH except without the weekly sucking chest wound.
And 30 ROCK has a breakout character – Alec Baldwin as Jack. He’s a revelation. I’m still shocked he didn’t win the Emmy. Watch. It’s going to come out that the Blue Ribbon Committee consisted of Kim Bassinger, William Baldwin, and Stephen Baldwin.
I understand that Tina is going to give the jokes “more room to breathe” this season. I think that’s a good call. Some very good jokes don't land because they go by too fast or are not really heard. That's one of the traps of single-camera comedy. Things can get lost.
My one big concern for the show is Tracy Morgan. I like him. But I know a lot of people don't. It's hard to really have a home run series when a sizable portion of your audience dislikes a character. However, if he were to be used more sparingly in situations where he could really score I think his fans would be fine and many of his detractors would be won over. Of course, try selling that to the actor. Another marvelous perk of being a showrunner.
And my last note – a quibble really – is that I think Tina shortchanges her own character. It's lovely that she's so generous, allowing other cast members to shine but she herself is not only very funny but also grounds the series. It’s evolving from a cartoon into a character-driven comedy set in a heightened world and Liz Lemon is the fulcrum. Let’s see more from that young lass!
Hopefully the Emmy win will bring more viewers to this very deserving show. And the network that revels in superheroes realizes that their greatest one is Tina Fey – with or without glasses.
Jodie gasses on and on trying to justify this standard cry vengeance movie. It’s a statement about society, a cautionary tale, a condemnation of violence. Bullshit. It’s DEATH WISH. It’s Charles Bronson. It’s the same story. What new social message are we getting from THE BRAVE ONE that we didn’t get from DEATH WISH or even DEATH WISH II thirty years ago? Come on, Jodie. They’re not going to make you give back your Oscar because you get to shoot people. Cop to it. You had fun. You thought of all those drivers who cut you off. Having to do nude scenes for Dennis Hopper. This film was worth five years of therapy.
From fellow blogger Douglas McEwan (webmaster of Tallulah Morehead’s fabulous site) comes this item from “the Age”, an Australian newspaper:
Dame Edna auctions late husband's prostate
A glass urn purporting to contain the "used" prostate of Dame Edna Everage's late husband has been put up for sale on eBay, with a starting price of $100.
Comedian Barry Humphries' alter ego Dame Edna surprised guests at a Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) fund-raising dinner last week when she donated Norm Stoddard Everage's prostate as an auction prize.
It sold for $7,000.
Spain apparently is considering adding lyrics to its National Anthem. Get out those pads, kids!
Reason #298,739,092 why I hate Dr. Phil. According to people were there and witnessed it – Dr. Phil screamed off-air obscenities at some poor young Wichita TV interviewer for asking her own questions instead of the ones the publicist had prepared. The direct quote from Dr. Phi was: “Katie Couric asked those questions but YOU couldn’t?!”
Remember when the networks’ premiere week was a big deal? All summer you couldn’t wait to see the new shows. Does anybody give a shit anymore? Now what we’re excited about is the release of DVDs of last year’s shows.
You know it’s the new TV season when Chi McBride, Tim Daly, Jimmy Smits, and Kim Raver have new series. But where’s Peter MacNichol? Has the earth gone off its axis?
With the new season upon us, it’s time for the TV critics to weigh in with their reviews. May I recommend three of the best? Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, Alan Sepinwall of the Newark Star-Ledger (who writes more than any nine people), and the always hilarious TV GAL, Melanie McFarland of the Seattle P.I.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON is an extraordinary documentary about the U.S. astronauts who went to the moon. Come celebrate the last major thing this country did right.
Good luck tonight to Kelsey, Patty, Chris, Steve, Jimmy and all the other talented people involved with BACK TO YOU.
Funniest animated series I’ve seen in years is CLONE HIGH. It ran on MTV briefly in 2002 and the DVD is available in Canada. The premise centers on a secret government cloning experiment. All the clones are now teenagers together in a high school. Main characters are nerd Abe Lincoln, girl crazed Mahatma Gandhi, Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, and JFK. Supporting cast includes Vincent Van Gogh, Julius Caesar, Walt Disney, and Jesus Christ. So tasteless that MTV pulled it after only a few episodes. Could there be a greater endorsement?
Tomorrow: my thoughts on 30 ROCK.
From Aaron Barnhart’s TV Barn site comes this sick but made-me-laugh headline on the death of one of the original MATCH GAME panelists:
BRETT SOMERS ISN’T DEAD, SHE’S JUST BLANKING
I’m surprised many pundits claimed that 30 ROCK was an upset. Not to me. It was funny. It was fresh. And when given the same assignment – Tina Fey proved to be a better writer than Aaron Sorkin.
Actors who star in procedural dramas should be eligible for “Best Exposition” acting awards. Half of what they do is explain technical lab gogglydigook to each other even though they're the only ones on the planet who know it. And the truth is, with a show like CSI you don’t really give a crap whether Gil Grissom finds love, you wanna know who did it and whether the French’s low calorie mustard stain or distinctive Ethiopian Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco gave away the murderer.
I’ve only been to Emmy telecasts so I can’t compare them with other self congrat love fests. But they are thunderously boring to attend. After one hour, a horrible production number led by Donald Trump, the Academy’s salute to Kathy Lee Gifford, and three interminable acceptance speeches half the audience is in the lobby.
Yes, they are hard to produce but the key is a great host. If you have someone who brings it all together you’re more than halfway home. Sunday night’s show seemed very disjointed.
The Golden Globes have better audiences because they can drink, Oscars have better audiences because the awards mean more, the Tonys have real entertainment, and the MTV awards has Britney Spears morphing into the later-years Elvis.
But if you think Sunday’s Emmycast was bad, in 1980 there was an actor’s strike so the host was local Channel 4 news anchor, Kelly Lange. The only actors who appeared were Powers Booth, who broke the picket line to collect his statuette, and some actress flown in from China who was going to be featured in SHOGUN. I sat in the audience that night and the highlight of the evening was losing so I could leave.
The booth announcer Sunday night was Rebecca Riedy. That truly is a thankless job and you’re only recognized if you screw up, which is bound to happen on a live broadcast sometime. When Rebecca mispronounced Katherine Heigl’s name, it wasn’t necessarily her fault. Someone might have given her that wrong pronunciation. In any event, it’s worth taking a moment to salute two of the best booth announcers – Randy Thomas and Neilson Ross. And other than that one mistake Rebecca did a damn fine job.
If you’re familiar with FAMILY GUY, the opening number was a hoot. If you’re not, it was just some smug cartoon characters taking cheap shots at television. To me the fun of that number was the cutaways to Jeremy Piven and other audience members clearly not laughing.
This is Greg Daniels of THE OFFICE. There are probably two million blogs and websites with Emmy coverage. I bet mine is the ONLY one on the entire internet to feature a picture of a writer.
I know I was harsh on the Academy for giving James Gandolfini’s Emmy to James Spader. So let’s say Gandolfini was not even in the mix. Then I would say it was a travesty James Spader beat Hugh Laurie for the Best Actor award.
Ricky Gervais is a BRILLIANT comic actor. But I’ll never be convinced his win wasn’t just a make-up for not recognizing his work on the original OFFICE.
Word is leaking out that this years American League Cy Young Award winner will be Helen Mirren.
Lots of people are blasting Fox for using the show to pimp their schedule, lowlighted by that horrid Wayne Brady SO YOU THINK YOU CAN REMEMBER LYRICS BETTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER (or whatever the hell his show is called) parody. But the truth is EVERY network does that when it’s their turn. If Sunday’s show were on CBS the children from KID NATION would be voicing the ROOTS tribute.
If you’re going to use THE JERSEY BOYS for a tribute at least use the original cast. These guys were impersonating the JERSEY BOYS impersonating the Four Seasons. Or use film clips of other actors impersonating THE SOPRANOS during the songs.
When you watched the IN MEMORIAM piece, how many times did you say, “I didn’t know he/she was dead”?
Don’t you wish Anne Heche had won an award and Ellen DeGeneres had to present it to her?
Considering the dismal ratings and reviews, my guess is Ryan Seacrest will not be asked back. My vote is for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog to host but knowing the Academy it will be Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
What was the Television Academy thinking?? Were they just trying to stir up controversy in a desperate attempt to out rate last week’s Chabad Telethon? Were the results tabulated in Florida? Were the voters simply on peyote as most Americans suspect?
Trust me, if O.J. knew how easy it was to steal an Emmy he and his gunmen would be on stage thanking their parole officers.
Ryan Seacrest hosted the show. Also the red carpet show, the post-Emmys party show, the Channel 11 news, and the Chargers-Patriots halftime show on NBC.
How painful was his opening monologue? First of all, why the hell was he even DOING an opening monologue? Ryan, you introduce people. That’s your gift. You don’t try to be funny. You don’t wear silly costumes. You give out phone numbers. You tell people when to vote.
For examples of really funny see Lewis Black. His rant on the idiocy of television executives and screen clutter was brilliant, hilarious, and I’m sure the message that every television executive took from it is “let’s never hire him.”
I want to know what the censors cut out. They did it so artfully, by the way, just cutting the sound and showing an ugly black disco ball. I’m guessing they bleeped Ray Romano for suggesting that his screen wife Patty Heaton was now banging Kelsey Grammer and since they disco-balled Katherine Heigl when she stood to get her award I imagine she mouthed an objectionable word. Fox has to be very careful not to offend lip readers.
Red carpet hosts, Joan & Melissa Rivers have gone from E! to the TV GUIDE Channel to this year where they’re blogging. Next step down is “two cranks in a bar.” Expect that by 2009.
I do still wish they were on the red carpet however. Wouldn’t you love to see it? In addition to their stupid questions, now they’d be asking the celebrities to type in their answers.
The event was held at the cavernous Shrine auditorium. Capacity: Everyone who ever watched HAPPY HOUR.
Gee, the montage of late night host one-liners took an odd turn. They went from a flurry of President Bush is an idiot jokes right into a somber tribute to Tom Snyder.
I felt sorry for the booth announcer. Not only did Katherine Heigl correct the pronunciation of her name on the air, the announcer couldn’t talk back. She couldn’t say, “This is Ms. Hy-GEL’S’s first win, an upset because there are many people who feel she ruined GREY’S ANATOMY this season.”
Okay, I’m extra bitchy this year. But James Spader????
How come Jon Cryer is considered a supporting actor when his character is represented in the title of the show?
One of my favorite moments was the big dance number with Glenn Close and the black-robed judges from DAMAGES. Oh wait … that was Jon Voight and the rabbis on the Chabad telethon. I’m so confused.
Al Gore is the only man who’s won an Oscar and now an Emmy and they’re both considered consolation prizes.
You could tell Robert Duvall won for a cowboy movie. Even while standing he looked like he was riding a horse.
The best acceptance speech wasn’t even aired. It was Elaine Stritch’s from a week ago. “I’m a recovering alcoholic, a brittle diabetic and I’ve got laryngitis – but I just won an Emmy!”
AMERICAN IDOL “Gives Back” resulted in AMERICAN IDOL “Gets Back”. They finally won an Emmy. Next year look for the very special TWO AND A HALF MEN “Gives Back” episode.
The ROOTS tribute on its 30th anniversary was lovely.
When was the last time you actually WATCHED a mini-series? For me, I’d have to say ROOTS.
On the other hand, the JERSEY BOYS tribute to THE SOPRANOS really didn’t need footage of Adriana being shot and other violent scenes during the touching love song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”.
This may be the last year of HBO’s dominance at the Emmys but more recognition is in their future. They should be scoring quite a few AVN porn awards next January with TELL ME YOU LOVE ME. Michelle Borth should beat out Connie Lingis for “Best Actress in an Oral Sex Scene” and the pilot script should triumph over “Lawrence of Her Labia”.
But let’s get back to the Emmys where class and dignity reigns. The song of the year was “Dick in the Box” beating out “Everything Comes Down to Poo.”
Fox completely ignored Kathy Griffin’s acceptance speech from a week ago when she said Jesus had nothing to do with her win. She was wrong. Jesus has EVERYTHING to do with who gets recognized. Proof is that Debra Messing was nominated. Again! For acting!
It’s not fair that producers who have to turn out 22 or 24 hour episodes of drama a year must compete with producers who complete 13 episodes in a year and a half.
Has Helen Mirren ever NOT won? If there’s a nuclear attack I want to be under Helen Mirren.
Nominating Minnie Driver and not Eddie Izzard for THE RICHES is like nominating Pam Dawber and not Robin Williams for MORK & MINDY.
The people in the first ten rows you don’t recognize are called “seat fillers”. When the seat fillers have to go to the bathroom they’re replaced by the “nominated writers”.
It would be easier for Jack Bauer to disarm a dirty bomb, find Osama bin Laden, end world hunger, and build an Ikea baby crib than to repeat as an Emmy winner after this dismal season of 24.
Can ANYONE remember last year's Movie of Week winner? And that includes the winners themselves?
Choreographer Louis van Amstel must feel great. Out of the four nominees for Outstanding Choreography he is the only one who DIDN’T win.
Brad Garrett always tells two jokes too many.
Michael C. Hall from DEXTER deserved to win. And if he’d been nominated I’m sure he would have. Jesus apparently doesn’t shell out the $14.95 a month for SHOWTIME.
Bill Maher is now Emmy’s biggest single loser with 19 defeats. I’m sure Republicans and Angela Lansbury are thrilled. New Rule: Only Arianna Huffington can be on the Blue Ribbon Committees.
Every time Sally Field wins an award I wind up saying the same thing, “Shut up! Shut up! SHUT UP!!!” Play the “get off” music the second her name is announced.
Steve Carell’s acceptance speech was so great I only wish he had won.
I was happy for America Ferrara, Greg Daniels, Tony Bennett, Tony Bennett, Terry O’Quinn (although I’d be happier for Michael Emerson), Robert Duvall, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, and Tony Bennett.
I was THRILLED for Tina Fey and 30 ROCK. Not that the Emmys mean anything, especially now that James Spader has beaten out James Gandolfini, but hopefully this win will bring more viewers to this very deserving and funny comedy.
And it’s hard to argue with THE SOPRANOS taking Best Drama. Although, considering the way the Academy voted this year, I’m shocked it wasn’t beaten out by KIDNAPPED.
I could spend three paragraphs telling you about his career – for years he was the sales manager of KABC radio in Los Angeles and then the General Manager of WLS radio in Chicago. He broke sales records, mentored many of today’s broadcasting titans, yada yada. But more important, his colleagues and co-workers loved him. He was (and is) collaborative, respectful, creative, positive, and fair. All the admirable qualities politicians say they have but of course not a single one does.
If you're looking for a role model, he's your guy. In the market for an idol? Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood combined can't touch him.
Tonight there’s a big party in his honor. I tried to get my agency to pay for it and just write it off as an Emmy party but they said no. Like NOW suddenly they develop integrity.
This has been an especially tough year and I hope, being surrounded by family and dear friends, will make for a truly joyous night. We celebrate you, dad. Happy birthday!!!!!
My Emmy review will be posted tomorrow. Probably a few hours later than usual. There will be liquor at this party.
Just a couple of slots remain open for Sitcom Room II. Details here. Thanks.
And now back to your regularly scheduled blog.
After writing all those Bar Wars practical jokes episodes of CHEERS, no one loves a good practical joke war more than me. I found a real one recently that is truly great. Two guys from collegehumor.com have been going at it for about a year now.
In this installment, one of them goes to Yankee Stadium with his girlfriend and is in for quite a shock.
There’s the Ken Levine who is a big video game designer. He’s a giant in the industry. I probably get twenty people a day logging on here thinking I’m him. Sorry. I’m not. I don’t even own a video game.
Then, according to imdb, I was the location manager on JURASSIC PARK and FLIPPER. I don’t know who that Ken Levine was but I still get Christmas cards from dolphins.
I mention all of this to set the record straight because there is a Ken Levine impostor. I know what you’re thinking – why would anyone in their right mind want to impersonate me?
Because there was a jingle.
In the early 80’s I was pulling a weekend shift as a disc jockey on KFI Los Angeles. (CHEERS had just started and who knew if it was going to last?) The station commissioned a new jingle package and one sang “Ken Levine KFI 6-40”. Next to an Emmy there is no greater honor than having your own jock jingle.
A few years after I left they hired a new guy and since they already had this nifty paid-for jingle they insisted he use the name Ken Levine.
So now I’m getting people saying they heard me on the radio. I listened to him and well, he was me with a lobotomy. I called the station manager to protest. He said, “Tough shit. Call the union” and hung up on me. Nice.
I then did call the union. That station would be sorry they ever messed with me! The AFTRA official told me there was nothing they could do. What?? As a radio performer the only thing you have to identify yourself is your name. He shrugged. I said you can’t register with SAG as Paul Newman. You can’t join the WGA as Neil Simon. Still, they were powerless. Talk about a toothless union.
For the next year I had to endure friends saying, “I heard you on KFI. What happened? You used to be funny.”
And then a few years later the station went to a talk format and I did a couple of fill-in shifts. They wondered if maybe I shouldn’t use another name because they recently had a guy named Ken Levine.
I managed to keep the name and if anyone else tries to use it I will cause a shock wave. Wait a minute, that’s one of the games created by the other me. Jesus, now even I’m confused.
Westerns are always fun. And they’re proof that you can make good action movies without cool cars. If you like the genre, you should enjoy 3:10 TO YUMA provided you can get past the one rather large conceit that everyone moves heaven and earth to bring this outlaw to justice and don’t seem to mind that about a hundred other people get killed senselessly along the way. It would be wrong to just shoot the son of a bitch, but killing other folks in service of this story is fine and dandy. But like I said, get past that and you’re golden.
And it’s the same question you ask in any James Bond movie. Instead of putting him in some elaborate water tank with sharks and piranha and pollution from the East River, why doesn’t Ernst Blowfeld or Dr. No just take out a gun and blow his brains out? And after the third time he escapes from the death ray device, the contracting chamber with walls of spikes, and the giant custom-built Cuisinart you’d think the Super Villains (who we’re told are the most brilliant minds in the world) would get the idea that perhaps a pistol and one bullet might just do the trick. But I digress…
Russell Crowe was the whole movie. You rarely see a vicious outlaw who is insouciant. Christian Bale was the young James Brolin, very serviceable in the thankless good guy role. Everyone else played stereotypes. The marshal and his deputies said, “shucks,” “if he’s out there we’re gonna git him”, and “don’t know where you come from mister but in this town we uphold the law”. And the gang members were all Bruce Dern (pictured right). Ben Foster, (Crowe’s second-in-command) wanted to add depth to his character so along with Dern he added a touch of Dennis Hopper.
For my money the Bruce Dern deranged cowboy is the easiest character any actor can play. You just scrunch up your face, look crazed, adopt a bad Western accent and say in your most craven breathless voice: “Can I touch her titties now, pa? Can I? Can I? Can I?”
The sets and scenery seemed realistic, although how would anyone who’s alive today know? (Wait. Keith Richards might know.) They only said “Fuck” five or six times, not 54,892,843 like a typical hour of DEADWOOD so I worry that the dialog wasn’t authentic.
But the conditions seemed realistic enough that I thought, if I lived back during those times I don’t think I’d care to make my home in the Old West. There seemed to be, at least for me, a discernible. lack of creature comforts. I understand that if you live in Arizona in 1870 it’s going to be hot and there’s no air conditioning but God forbid one of these cowboys wore shorts? Or built an overhang so that in one three-foot patch in the entire state there was shade?
So all the while I’m watching this movie I’m thinking, “these settlers couldn’t travel three more days and end up in LA?” There were beaches back then, nice weather, and the neighborhoods were much safer. If anyone acted up they had Zorro. But I digress again…
Bottom line, if you like horse operas you’ll like this movie. And the other good news is that 3:10 TO YUMA isn’t its running time.