Everyone on the nightly news, the Internet, and, most importantly, your Twitter and Facebook accounts is talking about the Republican National Convention in Tampa. And after that, the Democrats do their dog and donkey show in Charlotte and the media takeover will start anew. It's all that's happening right now — but, still, it is boring. There, I said it. It's boring. It's worse than a lecture on oral hygiene that you had to sit through in fifth grade. Dull dull dull dull dull. And, even worse, we're going to have to relive some of these moments ad nauseum... and they won't get any more exciting.
Let's consider political conventions for a minute. They last for several days, create huge news, are full of thousands of rabid fans, and are relentlessly covered by the media, despite the fact that only a select portion of the population caring about them deeply. Looking at that description, it seems political conventions have their own entertainment-fueled cousin: Comic-Con! Both of these conventions share notable similarities with the one difference being that I care about one and not the other. So, what can the political conventions learn from Comic-Con to jazz things up a little? We're here to help, politics.
More Costumes: During the first few days of Comic-Con, entertainment websites across the Internet launch galleries of the crazy cos play people in their extremely elaborate Slave Princess Leia and Batman get-ups. Those fans definitely garner attention, so why not dress up a little bit, delegates? (And I'm not talking dress shirts and pantsuits.) May we suggest that each delegate wear a costume based on where they're from? A farmer costume from Kansas, cowboy duds from Texas, a prep school uniform from Connecticut. (Just like Drop Dead Gorgeous!) Or maybe they should dress up like their favorite characters: George Washington, Betsy Ross, or every GOPers favorite, Ronald Reagan. C'mon, the tea party has embraced this — why can't every other party follow (bat)suit?
Celebrities: Yes, famous commentators from Rush Limbaugh to Rachel Maddow will be attending the conventions, as will the politically outspoken Clooneys and the Kelsey Grammers. Arnold Schwarzenegger used to get invited too and then blew it all with a scandal. ("I'll be back," apparently also applies to his attending future Republican conventions.) But let's get some other ones there just to glitz up the show. Just random ones. Oh look, there is Megan Fox talking policy with Dick Cheney. Can you believe that Tom Cruise and Jennifer Lopez are posing for pictures with Michelle Obama? Who knew that Ashton Kutcher is as tall as Mitt Romney? See how much fun that was, and it was fake!
Question and Answer Period: The one thing that separates Comic-Con panels from the conventions is that, when it comes to the former, the fans get the opportunity to converse with the big names. Fans get to grill writers, directors, producers, and actors about just how they're going to handle their favorite fictional properties. Why shouldn't the delegates be allowed the chance to ask Mitt Romney and Barack Obama some questions? Won't that add some spontaneity? These are going to be very hospitable audiences. If there was a time for the "town hall" format to flourish, this is it.
More Exciting Footage: At Comic-Con this year, fans were rewarded with footage of the new Hobbit movie. That's awesome. What are we going to get at the convention this year? A skit of Donald Trump telling Barack Obama, "You're fired." Snoozeville. If you're going to make some clips, at least make them as inventive and exciting as the shows at the Con.
Booth Babes: You know how on the floor of the convention there are all those little signs announcing each state? Why can't those be held up by girls or guys in skimpy outfits? Seriously, let's finally give back, candidates.
Endless Swag: The best part about Comic-Con? Free stuff! Attendees can pick up figurines, posters, autographs, and, of course, comic books for no charge. What do you get at the political conventions? A "Barack Obama Hope" pin? A foam Mitt Romney #1 Mitten with a finger pointing in the air? An American flag lapel pins? Sorry, conventions: We would prefer more creative swag like "Cabinet Trading Cards" or "Speaker of the House Masks."
Make Your Promises Come True: When producers announce they're prepping a remake at Comic-Con, fans will see said remake in theaters. When a director announces the star of a picture, said actor actually stars in the movie. When we see early footage from a TV show, said footage eventually ends up in the pilot. When we get promises of change, new programs, or promised bipartisanship at a political convention, it never really happens. Sure, release dates can change, but the movie eventually comes out. Maybe if we thought that the things we heard at this big shindig would actually come true, we'd be a little bit more invested in the outcome.
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: AP Photo]
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The world of 30 Rock is an unquestionably weird one (last night's episode featured a couch mascot in a threesome) but it's one that's always been acutely aware of its weirdness. In fact, the brilliant, off-kilter series has always worn its freak flag with pride (how else would you explain Prince Gerhardt?) but in its current disjointed sixth season, it looks as though the show might be starting to wave the white flag, both on and off-screen.
Aside from Alec Baldwin making his most recent threat to leave NBC and Tina Fey all but sealing the cult favorite's fate when she told the ladies of The View that "The end of the show is on the horizon," the show's writers may have not-so-subtly addressed the show's downward slope. In the opening scene of last night's episode "Meet the Woggles!" Liz complains that her sweatshirt is touting the wrong TGS catch phrase for its sixth season. The slogan for said sixth season? "Yuck!" And – you guessed it – 30 Rock in the midst of its sixth season. Coincidence? Twist!
Still, this is not to imply that the smart, funny, and talented cast and crew behind 30 Rock has surrendered. Even in the most mediocre of episodes, which "Meet the Woggles!" arguably was, they can still turn out some of the most quality comedy on television. Plus, you can't really ever go wrong with having Elaine Stritch return to play Jack's delightfully terrible mother, daughter of Unclaimed Irish Stowaway, Colleen Donaghy.
Jack and Colleen went toe-to-toe again as its discovered that the world's best worst mother has been in New York City to have heart surgery. Rather than tell Jack she's in town and ill (the hospital alerts him of her whereabouts after they found his name "on a list of disappointments she keeps folded up in her shoe") Colleen does what she does best: Repress. Well, repress and make some wildly racist and homophobic comments. But Liz, the over sharer extraordinaire that she is, eventually wears them down to get them to have a sweet and sincere talk with one another, a moment she took great pleasure in taking credit for. (Good God Lemon, Stritch deserves another Emmy for her work on this show.)
On the other end of the 30 Rock arena things were relatively status quo. Well, status quo in the sense that Jenna was doing something self-absorbed, this time pulling a Yoko Ono on her sexual walkabout to a White Supremacist Wiggles knock-off band called The Woggles (yes, you read that correctly) and Tracy was behaving as a barely functioning man child by trying to "reverse Urkel" his son George Foreman from attending Stanford. Tracy eventually came to his senses (well, as much as Tracy is capable of that) and Jenna came to terms with the fact that she is still in love with Paul, who she discovered has moved on with a new woman he dresses like and a couch mascot. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
Here are some of the best moments and lines from last night's 30 Rock "Meet the Woggles!":
- "Factories provide three things this country desperately needs: Jobs, pride, and material for Bruce Springsteen songs."- Jack
- "Proud? My son's a nerd!" - Tracy
- "What are you gonna do, put on your galoshes go eat some fruit like a Frenchman?" - Colleen
- "That song, like everything, is about me!" - Jenna
- "There’s no need for us to start jabbering about our feelings and sobbing like Bill Belichick listening to Adele!"- Colleen
- "If you're ordering me an edible arrangement to say thanks, I prefer meat ones!"- Liz
- Liz's pronunciation of "guarantee" is "gar-awn-tee." (I wish I had a cam-ah-rah to capture Colleen's face during this.)
- Liz's make-it-rain dance.
- Liz's "Talk to your mother!" emoticon. (The 8 is the glasses!)
- Paul's last name is L’Astnamé.
- Colleen's usual hospital of choice is Boston Catholic Guilt Hospital.
- Both Dick Cheney and Dean Cain had an equal number of jabs at their expense.
So maybe things aren't so bad as they seem on 30 Rock. There's clearly still some life left in the show and with awesome announcements like this, it's going to be sadder to let go than listening to Mike and Mechanics' "The Living Years." But what did you think of last night's episode? Par for the course with the so-so episodes as of late or redeemed by the incomparable Elaine Stritch? Sound off in the comments section. Last word.
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
[Photo credit: NBC]
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Dick Cheney is the subject of another HBO mini-series, this time based off the book Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Barton Gellman. The story will follow his ascension to power through the Republican party, from working under Donald Rumsfeld in the Nixon administration to his full transformation into the nation's most powerful schadenfreude.
Anyway, this was all just an excuse to make little dick jokes at the expense of the former Vice President. It’s really too bad he couldn’t create a full feature and had to settle for the mini. But I hear there’s medication for that. Hopefully the aim of the show won’t be too off because the last time that happened a lawyer got shot in the face. But in all seriousness, can Danny Devito play Cheney and basically play him exactly like he did the Penguin? Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with deregulated banking and shady corporate bidding on government contracts?
Rushed into production last spring in order to make an October release date right in the heart of a presidential election director Oliver Stone’s W hits the bullseye with this fairly well-balanced portrait of George W. Bush (Josh Brolin) a man who grows up in the shadow of a larger-than-life father and goes on to serve in the White House four years longer than his “Poppy” did. Stone’s biographical study of the brash cowboy from Texas chronicles his early years as an oilman and baseball team owner through his run for Congress his work on his father’s presidential campaign his election as Governor of Texas and finally his ascent into the White House where he still sits today. We also see his courtship of Laura (Elizabeth Banks) and particularly his awkward dealings with his dad (James Cromwell) a complex relationship that ultimately forces W to rise up and compete with the legacy of his father and mentor. It’s that difficult dynamic between Bush Sr. and Jr. that forms the heart of the film and reveals the enigma that remains George W. Much of the story centers on the buildup to the decision to go into Iraq. Those sequences set in the White House situation room are at times hilarious in a Dr. Strangelove way and also a somewhat sobering if speculative window into how the Bush Administration does things. This film could not succeed if it was played as simply a Saturday Night Live sketch favoring impersonation over interpretation. Stone asked his actors to get the “spirit” of their respective characters and the results are impressive indeed. Brolin hits a career high and leaps into the Oscar race with his portrayal of George W. Bush. He’s close enough physically although more movie star in looks but he neatly captures the bravado and masked insecurities at the heart of the 43rd President particularly when dealing with his father brilliantly played by Cromwell. Ellen Burstyn as Barbara Bush doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time but certainly captures what we think we know about the former First Lady. Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush is charming and winning. As for the Bush Administration figures who play a pivotal part in the proceedings Richard Dreyfuss stands out playing VP Dick Cheney as a Machiavellian figure out to create an empire in the Middle East. He loses himself in the skin of Cheney with almost effortless ease. Equally impressive is Toby Young who not only resembles political mastermind and Bush operative Karl Rove but turns this polarizing figure into a three-dimensional human being. Stacy Keach as a religious influence and Scott Glenn as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also shine in their few scenes. Less successful are Jeffrey Wright lacking authority as the imposing Colin Powell and Thandie Newton trying too hard to become Condoleeza Rice. There is no question Oliver Stone knows his way around this kind of controversial subject matter but what may shock many is the measured and thoughtful way he approaches the material. Screenwriter Stanley Weiser’s take on Bush is to present a man haunted by the legacy of his father with a need to prove he is tougher and stronger. Stone approaches it as straight biography while also treating it as part comedy. Despite its dramatic structure W. is often subtly played for laughs. Clearly the cast of characters in this almost Shakespearean tragedy gives the filmmaker lots of fodder but they are presented in a surprisingly respectful manner. Even W comes off as an empathetic and sometimes likeable figure a cowboy in the White House. As always Stone’s command of the medium is impressive and this is one of his finest films in many years. There’s something about a president that sparks him creatively whether it’s J.F.K. Nixon and now W.. Ultimately he holds back his own views and presents the man warts and all; he lets the viewer decide what place in history there will be for George W. Bush and by extension the film Stone has made about him.
Jaws star Richard Dreyfuss is in negotiations to complete the all-star cast of Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic--and play Vice President Dick Cheney.
Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks have already signed on to play the President and First Lady Laura Bush, and Thandie Newton and Scott Glenn will play Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, respectively.
The film started shooting earlier this week in Shreveport, Louisiana, and is scheduled to hit the big screen in October.
The Hollywood Reporter claims Screen Actors Guild union bosses have granted Stone a special waiver to continue work on W in the event of a looming acting strike.
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