Skewering the politics of the left--and Michael Moore in particular--is not a terrible idea for comedy but American Carol doesn’t do it very successfully. Using the hackneyed uninspired approach of spoofing Dickens’ A Christmas Carol director David Zucker’s version has the Ghosts of John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer) and George Washington (Jon Voight) visiting a liberal documentary filmmaker named Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) in order to set him straight and teach him not to hate America but to embrace it in all its glory. Their goal is to stop him from helping a group of Islamic suicide bombers make a new recruitment film. In a series of gags American Carol presents Malone as a man who uses the medium to bash his country. He is portrayed as sympathetic to Nazis and Hitler responsible for 9/11 in bed with Middle Eastern terrorists--wrong on every possible issue and overweight to boot. After pointing out all his perceived evil the ghosts try to get Moore er Malone to see the light and change his ways. Apparently David Zucker--aware most of Hollywood leans to the left--got a list of actors known to be supporters of the GOP and hired them all. Voight Grammer James Woods Kevin Sorbo Dennis Hopper Robert Davi ET’s Mary Hart country singer Trace Adkins and even Zucker veteran Leslie Nielsen signed up to bash Moore using a sledgehammer approach as a substitute for the lack of a clever script. Occasionally thanks to an inspired casting choice here and there Carol is kind of amusing such as in a scene in which Malone and Rosie O’Connell (get it?) guest on the O’Reilly Factor. With Bill O’Reilly playing himself (and doing it well) actress Vicki Browne really nails Rosie who is presented as so far left she makes Moore look like Ronald Reagan. As Malone Farley (younger brother of the late Chris Farley) looks reasonably like Moore but doesn’t really get the mannerisms right. It’s not enough to try and get by just by putting on a baseball cap and glasses and hoping for the best. Of the rest Grammer comes off well as Patton delivering his lines with a lot more panache than they deserve. You know what kind of movie you’re watching when even Gary Coleman and Paris Hilton turn up for a bit. Zucker--whose films Airplane! and the The Naked Gun series specialize in inspired sight gags--seems to have forgotten how to make this style of throw-it-to-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks style of comedy work. Surprisingly the jokes are mostly verbal in this outing and the whole comic soufflé falls flat. Also the events of 9/11 are still too close to serve as a gateway for a few of the gags employed here. The premise is promising but the Michael Malone/Moore character is so far out he doesn’t resemble reality much less the famous Moore. Blaming him for all the ills of the world may be cathartic for the ultra-conservative base Zucker is apparently aiming An American Carol at but there needs to be more than just a kernel of truth to make these jokes zing. Instead what could have been an amusing riff looks more like a propaganda film out to destroy Moore rather than spoof him.
Analysts were continuing to express amazement over the fact that the
highest-rated entertainment programs during the November sweeps were CBS
specials featuring Carol Burnett, Michael Jackson and Lucille Ball.
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales commented in his column
today: "Let us now hug Carol Burnett. ... [Her ratings victory]
sends a message to the networks that Americans are craving family
programming once again. Sept. 11 casts a long shadow, and its effects
will be felt for years to come. One of those effects is to make people
hungry for TV programming that is familiar, reassuring, cozy, pleasant
Nevertheless, CBS president Les Moonves told Reuters
Thursday: "Those who want to claim this was just a specials win are
totally inaccurate. ... The bedrock of our success is the incredible
depth of our core series."
Ewan McGregor may enjoy working in Hollywood, but he would never live there. McGregor said he loathes the Los Angeles studio system because it dehumanizes actors by putting them on A, B and C lists according to how much money they can make for a studio, he told Britain's The Mail on Sunday's You Magazine. Apparently unaware that studios see actors as being bankable commodities, the actor told the magazine: "We're not a bunch of letters to make you money--we're people." McGregor also denied rumors that he was romantically involved with his Moulin Rouge costar Nicole Kidman.
Comic Judy Gold gave birth Thursday to a 7-pound, 8-ounce boy, The Associated Press reports. Gold, who hosts HBO's At the Multiplex With Judy Gold, and baby Benjamin Dov Callahan-Gold are doing fine.
More than 500 friends and coworkers attended a memorial Monday to Jack Lemmon at the Paramount Studios theater, AP reports. In attendance were actors Kevin Spacey, Hank Azaria, Tom Hanks and comedy writer Larry Gelbart. Lemmon died June 27 of cancer at the age of 76.
The 15th annual Hispanic Heritage Awards will honor director-writer Gregory Nava, artist and educator Judith Baca, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Liz Balmaseda, tennis player Joe Fernandez and journalist talk-show host Cristina Saralegui, AP reports. The awards, to be held Aug. 25, will be broadcast Sept. 22 on NBC, with Gloria Estefan among the featured performers.
A federal judge in Los Angeles ruled that Barbie, the sexy plastic siren, could be used in some controversial artistic photographs, Reuters reports. Judge Ronald Lew ruled Monday that artist Tom Forsythe could use Barbie dolls in a series of limited edition photographs that depicts them in various sexually explicit poses. Forsythe said that his photos attempt to skewer the stereotyping of women and commodification of female bodies.
An anonymous collector bought a pizza-stained piece of paper signed by John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison for $24,000 at a Melbourne auction on Monday, AP reports. The paper was signed in during the Beatles 1964 Australian tour. Drummer Ringo Starr was not on the tour because of a bout with laryngitis.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have canceled a concert in Tel Aviv because of sudden outbursts of suicide bombings in Israel. According to Reuters, some 20,000 tickets had already been sold for the concert, to be held at the end of August. Fans will be reimbursed for the tickets. Israeli tourism has dropped 50 percent since the bloodshed began, forcing the shut down of hotels and airlines to cut back on flights.
CNN is in talks with Rush Limbaugh about hosting a show, Variey reports. The network declined to comment on the talks but said it is always looking for a diversity of on-air voices. In the past, Limbaugh dubbed the network the "Clinton News Network". CNN is apparently attempting to woo big-name personalities in a bid to increase ratings and come across as less liberal to attract more conservative viewers. Limbaugh's TV show Rush Limbaugh, The Television Show failed to take off in 1992.
The new two-hour TV movie The Brady Bunch in Washington has papa Brady as president of the United States with wife Carol as vice president, Army Archerd reported in Variety. The movie apparently pokes fun at the White House, past and present. The film is executive produced by Sherwood Schwartz, with his son Lloyd producing and writing with Sherwood's daughter Hope Juber. Filming will take place in Toronto using a Canadian crew and actors.
Even though Rush Hour 2 has grossed an estimated $131.9 million at the domestic box office so far, industry insiders are wondering whether the movie could have made more had Regal Cinemas not passed on the movie. According to The Hollywood Reporter, New Line Cinemas and Regal Cinema were involved in a dispute over film rental negotiations. Regal initially refused to screen the film as long as New Line sought firm-term rental negotiations. Regal claims that New Line broke off negotiations at the 11th hour and insists that missing Rush Hour 2 would not harm the company financially. The Regal Cinema chain has 4,067 screens.
A new series of Absolutely Fabulous will debut on the BBC's fall TV schedule, the BBC News reports. The British comedy, which stars Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley and Julia Sawalha, centers on a neurotic fashion publicist and her best friend, an outrageous fashion editor. The series also airs on the Comedy Central network.
"American Beauty," the dark existential comedy set in Anywhere, Suburbia, led the pack as nominations were announced today for the 6th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring performances in both film and TV acting.
The film picked up four nominations, including a best actor nod for Kevin Spacey, a best actress one for Annette Bening and a best supporting actor one for Chris Cooper. The "Beauty" cast also was singled out for an ensemble acting nomination.
Trailing "American Beauty" in the movie division with a total of three nods is Spike Jonze's head-scratching absurdist offering "Being John Malkovich". That flick also earned a best ensemble acting nomination, as well as best supporting actress nods for Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener.
Along with "American Beauty" and "Being John Malkovich," Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling melodrama "Magnolia," "The Cider House Rules" and the Tom Hanks-driven death row flick "The Green Mile" are also in contention for best ensemble film.
Other nominees in the best actor category are: odds-on-Oscar favorite Russell Crowe, for his turn as a tobacco industry whistle-blower in "The Insider"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, for donning drag in "Flawless"; Denzel Washington, for his Golden Globe-winning turn as a wrongly imprisoned boxer in "The Hurricane"; and Jim Carrey, for his equally Golden Globe-winning turn as comic eccentric Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon."
Along with Bening, the best film actress nominees are: Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair"), Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart"), Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds") and Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry).
In the domain of television, HBO's reigning mob hit "The Sopranos" continued its domination of the awards scene, pulling down a field-best five SAG nominations, including one for best ensemble.
Winners will be announced March 12.
Here's the complete nominee list for the 6th Annual SAG Awards:
Best Actor Jim Carrey ("Man on the Moon") Russell Crowe ("The Insider") Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Flawless") Kevin Spacey ("American Beauty") Denzel Washington ("The Hurricane")
Best Actress Annette Bening ("American Beauty") Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds") Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair") Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart") Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry")
Best Supporting Actor Michael Caine ("The Cider House Rules") Chris Cooper ("American Beauty") Tom Cruise ("Magnolia") Michael Clarke Duncan ("The Green Mile") Haley Joel Osment ("The Sixth Sense")
Best Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz ("Being John Malkovich") Angelina Jolie ("Girl, Interrupted) Catherine Keener ("Being John Malkovich") Julianne Moore ("Magnolia") Chloe Sevigny ("Boys Don't Cry")
Best Ensemble Film "American Beauty" "Being John Malkovich" "The Cider House Rules" "The Green Mile" "Magnolia"
Best Actor for Telefilms and Miniseries Hank Azaria ("Tuesdays With Morrie," ABC) Peter Fonda ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," Showtime) Jack Lemmon ("Tuesdays With Morrie," ABC) George C. Scott ("Inherit the Wind," Showtime) Patrick Stewart ("A Christmas Carol," TNT)
Best Actress for Telefilms and Miniseries Kathy Bates ("Annie," ABC) Halle Berry ("Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," HBO) Judy Davis ("A Cooler Climate," Showtime) Sally Field ("A Cooler Climate," Showtime) Helen Mirren ("The Passion of Ayn Rand," Showtime)
Best Actor for TV Drama Series David Duchovny ("The X-Files," Fox) Dennis Franz ("NYPD Blue," ABC) James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos," HBO) Rick Schroder ("NYPD Blue," ABC) Martin Sheen ("The West Wing," NBC)
Best Actress for TV Drama Series Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files," Fox) Lorraine Bracco ("The Sopranos," HBO) Edie Falco ("The Sopranos," HBO) Nancy Marchand ("The Sopranos," HBO) Annie Potts ("One Fine Day," Lifetime)
Best Actor for TV Comedy Series Michael J. Fox ("Spin City," ABC) Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier," NBC) Peter MacNicol ("Ally McBeal," Fox) David Hyde Pierce ("Frasier," NBC) Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS)
Best Actress for TV Comedy Series Calista Flockhart ("Ally McBeal," Fox) Lisa Kudrow ("Friends," NBC) Lucy Liu ("Ally McBeal," Fox) Sarah Jessica Parker ("Sex in the City," HBO) Tracey Ullman ("Tracey Takes On," HBO)
Best Ensemble TV Drama "ER," NBC "Law & Order," NBC "NYPD Blue," ABC "The Practice," ABC "The Sopranos," HBO
Best Ensemble TV Comedy "Ally McBeal," Fox "Everybody Loves Raymond," CBS "Frasier," NBC "Friends," NBC "Sports Night," ABC
Just one day after ABC announced its surprising fall 2001 lineup, CBS followed suit Wednesday with some curveballs of its own.
The Eye Network will bring back 16 primetime programs, CBS President Les Moonves announced Wednesday - including Survivor, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Everybody Loves Raymond and Judging Amy - and also will introduce eight new series starring some of Hollywood's heavyweights.
Survivor and CSI will remain Thursday's double-threat, and the Monday lineup of strong sitcoms, including King of Queens, Yes, Dear, Raymond and Becker, also will stay untouched.
New blood, however, will shake up CBS' remaining primetime schedule. The network's offering of rookie shows is as follows:
Thursdays, 10 p.m. EST
Set in Washington, D.C., this drama follows a brave group of CIA agents who risk life and limb in the name of national security. The series stars Gil Bellows (Ally McBeal), as a no-holds-barred agent who's haunted by the mysterious death of his brother, and Will Patton (Remember the Titans), as the veteran agent who knows the truth about Bellows' sibling. Also stars David Clennon (thirtysomething) as a fraud expert and Paige Turco (Party of Five) as the determined rookie. Produced by Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm).
"The Amazing Race"
Wednesdays, 9 p.m. EST
Think of it as Survivor unrestrained. Eleven teams, each comprised of two members, traverse the globe in a month-long competition to be the first to reach the final destination. The winning team nabs $1 million. But, alas, here's the catch: all team members must have a pre-existing personal relationship - be it family, friend or foe - adding some tension to the overall scheme. Executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Armageddon) and Bertram van Munster (Cops).
Fridays, 8:30 p.m. EST
In one of only two new sitcoms debuting on CBS in the fall, Daniel Stern (City Slickers) stars as a single father who operates a run-down community center populated with a diverse group of people. As the neighborhood ruffians learn lessons in life at the center - receiving guidance, playing sports and seeing tutors - Stern's character also learns what is important in life. Produced by Stern, Howard J. Morris (Home Improvement) and Michael Hanel (Titus).
Saturdays, 9 p.m. EST
James Cromwell (Babe) stars as a man who has spent his entire life as a success in the political arena - having served three terms in the Senate - until, in a shocking defeat, he loses his seat on Capitol Hill and is forced to return to civilian life. His three daughters timidly attempt to make the transition a smooth one, yet their own personal conflicts with other family members render the former senator's homecoming a nerve-racking affair. Produced by John Wells (ER), Lydia Woodward (China Beach) and Christopher Chulack (The West Wing).
"The Education of Max Bickford"
Sundays, 8 p.m. EST
Possibly the most creative of CBS' new dramas, Bickford delves into the bizarre life of college professor Max Bickford (Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss). Max is denied a promotion at work, is regularly stabbed in the back by the college president (Regina Taylor) and is forced to deal with the fact that his former best friend, Steve, is now a woman (Helen Shaver) named Erica. Executive produced by Nicole Yorkin (Judging Amy).
"The Ellen Show"
Fridays, 8 p.m. EST
Ellen DeGeneres returns to primetime TV as an overworked Internet executive who realizes that life in the slow lane is the way to go. Her solution? She moves back to her small hometown to live with her peculiar mother (Cloris Leachman) and sister (Emily Rutherfurd) - but will the pressures of living back at home outweigh the stresses of her previous life on the fast track? And is her former high school sweetheart moving back in on her? Produced by DeGeneres, Carol Leifer (Seinfeld) and Mitchell Hurwitz (The Golden Girls).
Tuesdays, 9 p.m. EST
Half legal drama, half a journey of self-discovery, Simon Baker (L.A. Confidential) plays Nick, a high-powered lawyer who, following a drug bust, is forced by the courts to work in a child advocacy office to set him straight. Though Nick is still determined to please his former legal clients, he slowly warms up to the children he's ordered to assist, shedding his cold exterior. Dabney Coleman (9 to 5) stars as Nick's stern father. Executive produced by Mark Johnson (Donnie Brasco) and Michael Pressman (Chicago Hope).
Wednesdays, 10 p.m. EST
This bizarre drama follows the investigation of a Bureau of Wildlife Management agent (Lou Diamond Phillips) obsessed with unlocking the mystery behind a rash of human disappearances in a Seattle suburb. His investigation centers upon a pack of wild wolves that can morph into human beings at will. Only one man-a Native American biology professor (Graham Greene)--knows the truth behind the supernatural creatures. Executive produced by John Leekley (Kindred: The Embraced) and Bernard Lechowick (Hyperion Bay).
As for returning shows with new time slots, four programs are being shuffled around. 60 Minutes II stays on Wednesdays, but will shown at 8 p.m. EST, not 9 p.m. EST, its current time slot. Another news magazine show, 48 Hours, will be shown on Fridays at 10 p.m. EST, a day later than its current home at 10 p.m. EST Thursdays. That's Life will jump back from Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST to Fridays at 9 p.m. EST. Finally, the family hit Touched by an Angel moves from Sundays at 8 p.m. EST to Saturdays at 8 p.m. EST.
Fox is expected to release its fall schedule sometime Thursday.