Top Chef: D.C. Recap: 'Chicken Run'
S7:E2: This episode we know more going in. We know who to hate and who to like. The morning-after interviews and pre-challenge passive-aggressive small talk around the house gets old fast. TWO interesting things to mention here. Firstly, they showed the contestants smoking cigarettes for the first time I can remember! Secondly, the scene wherein Andrea makes breakfast using absolutely massive amounts of butter and elicits disgusted, open-mouth stares from the others was hi-larious. She was all “Dude I like butter.” It was weird and great to see the more human side of these guys (I guess butter and cigarettes are relatable?).
Losing absolutely no time, Bravo drags out White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass before the contestants, parading their trophy bought with fame and mass circulation. This man’s hands feed your Obama. When the big man hankers for chicken nuggets, this is the guy who plops them in the fryer! We were all very impressed. Padma (inexplicably dressed in South Beach pink satin) indignantly explained that elegant, complex puns are an integral part of the reality show mythos and if one cannot keep oneself from pulling faces at every witty turn of phrase we are going to have a problem thank you very much. And with reserved indignation and narrowed eyes she announced the Quick fire Challenge: The Bipartisandwich. Silence.
The challenge was to make a delicious sandwich whilst inserted into an apron connected to another chef. Only one hand was to be used from each body to cook, meaning slicing and cutting was to involve one man holding and the other wielding the knife. This setup caused some measure of anxiety from Alex the Tan Russian as he was expected to hold sandwich meats in place while Timmy Dean stabbed wildly at the space containing the meat slab screaming “I WON’T CUT YOU. HOLD STILL. DO NOT PANIC. I HAVE THIS UNDER CONTROL”.
Jacqueline interviews that she is making chicken. A dark cloud passes overhead and somewhere a dog barks.
Kenny the Kool Kid is making a seared tuna sandwich with fruit bits. It’s clear at this point that he considers himself a black, bald, and more beautiful Jason Bourne.
Angelo is paired with Plump Tracey who confesses an ardent admiration for his graceful bone structure and lean sinewy body – in a sexual way, that is. She gurgles through the challenge, relying on Angelo’s experience as owner of a sandwich shop in New York. Angelo ends up winning the challenge for them with an Asian fish sandwich doused in what he called “liquid sex”. Tracey faints. Kenny flexes. Jacqueline whips up some chicken. Top Chef DC is just getting warmed up.
The Elimination Challenge was the school lunch challenge from most other seasons, though we were reminded of the D.C. location once again by a tangential connection to Michelle Obama’s Move It! Program for tiny fat kids. The contestants were admonished to make their meals healthy and were given a budget of 160 dollars per meal (about $2.60 per child). Arnold Mynt very insensitively comments that he spends more than 160 dollars on his own meals. Goddamn hipsters (just kidding he’s from Tennessee).
Angelo and Tracey were given immunity as reward for their fish sandwich, meaning they were a liability to the couple they paired up with. Angelo ended up picking Kenny to be in his group. This made Kenny furious.
Other groups were Arnold, Kelly (who?), and others, who decided to make carnitas tacos. This worked well in principle, however Kelly kept reminding the others that the pork carnitas was her dish and that she was responsible for it and that Arnold could keep his sneaky fingers off her pork. Arnold considered this extremely unfair, probably because he had only made a salsa (he was confused by poor people food). At the last minute he changed the name of his dish to a salad and called it a day.
Jacqueline’s team made chicken. I shit you not. Chicken is her life-water, her raison d'être. Chicken completes her. I suspect she is a plant from the League of Associated Chicken Distributors. But actually Amanda made the physical chicken, broiling it with sherry wine and then removing the skin to reveal a shiny, slimy, piece of gray meat. Jacqueline beams! Meanwhile she hurriedly dumps two pounds of sugar into her banana pudding and runs back to stare lovingly at the chicken.
Angelo and Kenny’s team decide to make chicken burgers, bread puddings and yam puree. In a transparent play to throw the challenge a bit and get Kenny kicked off, Angelo concocts a severe, imposing sculpture using celery and peanut butter mousse which kids will be confused by and is actually unhealthy as pointed out by Amanda in a fit of fiery anger.
K-Sbrags and Timmy Dean plus Tan Russian Alex make BBQ chicken with melon on a stick. Best of all, K-Sbrags gets kids to eat yogurt by pumping air into it and making it fluffy like whipped cream. FOOLS.
So what happened?! Kelly won for her pork carnitas. Anthony Mynt pouted. Kelly has the extremely obnoxious air of a girl who is really a tough bitch but sees herself as a sweet Pollyanna-Audrey Hepburn.
But what happened to the losers?? There were clearly two losing dishes: Jacqueline’s propagandist chicken project which was soaked in alcohol and served to children, and Angelo’s team’s failure to include proper vegetables in their meal. Under the pressure of the bright lights, a random white guy on Jacqueline’s team cracked and started screaming hysterically about Kenny’s lack of initiative in putting vegetables on the plate, pointing fingers and waving madly about. As he fell, foaming at the mouth and rolling on the floor, Kenny calmly stepped over his body and coolly explained that he had put tomato on the burger. To which Sam Kass was all “Oh Bitch PLEASE, tomatoes are a fruit”. To which Kenny SHOULD have replied, “Actually Smug-Ass-Kass, the Supreme Court has declared tomatoes a vegetable for taxing and tariff purposes and if its good enough for the judicial branch of this great government it should be good enough for you. SOCIALIST.”
However, in the end, it was the chicken that lost out. Tom, ever the sophisticate, deemed it a turd. Jacqueline was sent home for her chicken. WAIT, actually it was for the 900-calorie banana pudding, but from the proud glint in her eye as she slowly marched down the hall and out the door, it was clear that she would have gone home for her chicken ten times over.
John Clark (Richard Gere) has a pretty good life--a successful career; an adoring wife and two wonderful kids. Yet something isn't quite right. He and his wife Beverly (Susan Sarandon) have a strong and loving marriage but John feels restless and unfulfilled as he wades through his mind-numbing daily routine. Then one day while on the train home he happens to spy a beautiful dance instructor Paulina (Jennifer Lopez) staring forlornly through the window of Miss Mitzi's dance studio. Haunted by her gaze John impulsively jumps off the train and signs up for ballroom dance lessons unbeknownst to his wife. Suddenly John is exposed to a world he never imagined--a place filled with grand passions bitter rivalries and exhilarating dance relishing the moments he spends waltzing rumbaing and tangoing with his newfound friends (don't we all). But John soon discovers that it isn't enough to have a secret passion--the best part is sharing it with the ones he loves. Pour chocolate syrup over this one and call it done!
Gere's sure got happy feet these days. First the guy dropped jaws when he actually tap danced his way through the Oscar-winning Chicago. Now there's Shall We Dance?. What's next? Gene Kelly's part in Singin' in the Rain? In all fairness Gere plays John as an ordinary but charming middle-aged man who also just happens to have an affinity for ballroom dancing. It isn't in any way a stretch for the charismatic actor but he does have an uncanny ability to draw you in once he glides across the floor and flashes that sexy smile. As John's patient wife Sarandon doesn't go out on a limb either exuding her usual warm intelligence. As a married couple Gere and Sarandon do an excellent job keeping things refreshingly grounded. It's a marriage you immediately recognize--they've been together for so many years they've developed a loving familiarity but are trying to find ways keep it exciting. The supporting cast also do a great job livening up the proceedings including Lisa Ann Walter (Bruce Almighty) as the been-around-the-block ballroom dancer Bobbie and Stanley Tucci whose turn as Link a lawyer by day/salsa dancer by night is hilarious. Of course the one you really want to watch dance is Jennifer Lopez who sure does know how to sashay her way around her partners. Unfortunately when not dancing the rest of Lopez's performance is fairly stiff. Her sad sack story about some tragic past and losing her desire to dance competitively is just plain dull.
Once again Hollywood has no time to think of anything original simply remaking other classics--in this case the smash Japanese hit Shall We Dance? (Dansu Wo Shimasho Ka) written and directed by Masayuki Suo. Instead of concentrating on the Japanese culture and their taboos against the public intimacy of dance writer Audrey Wells (Under the Tuscan Sun) and director Peter Chelsom (Serendipity) find a way to give the story a good all-American spin concentrating on marital malaise and finding a way out of a personal abyss. That's all fine and dandy and gives the film a unique perspective; the problem is the subject matter: ballroom dancing. There have only been a handful of movies about that art form that have worked--the Japanese original just mentioned and Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom are two good examples. Maybe it's nice to go back to that old-fashioned age when Lawrence Welk's orchestra and dance partners brought the family together. But in this electrifying hip-hop age of MTV--with the writhing and the shimmying of nearly naked bodies on the primetime small screen--ballroom dancing seems a little er outdated.
Top Story: Marvel Shares Fall Following Hulk Bow
Shares of Marvel Enterprises fell sharply Monday because of what analysts called a disappointing opening weekend for The Hulk--the feature based on one of Marvel's comic-book characters. According to The Associated Press, Marvel shares fell $2.45 to close at $18.75 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. Although The Hulk set a June record with its $62.6 million box-office take during its opening weekend, it fell short of expectations. The Marvel adaptation X2: X-Men United, for example, debuted last month with a hefty $85.6 million opening weekend take. But Marvel Chief Executive and President Allen Lipson told the AP that while X2 had a strong box office take on its opening weekend, sequels normally do better than the original when it comes to Marvel character movies. Lipson added that the company was "happy" with the The Hulk's box office numbers and said a sequel is already in the works.
TNN Files Spike Jones Affidavit
Lawyers for TNN filed court papers Monday by Spike Jones Jr., claiming filmmaker Spike Lee is trying to claim exclusive ownership of the name "Spike," the AP reports. On June 13, Lee won a court injunction stopping Viacom from changing TNN's name to Spike TV, alleging the rebranding was an attempt to hijack his name and reputation. According to court papers, Jones said he and his family own the rights to the name, likeness, recorded performances and television shows that belonged to his father, a 1940s and '50s bandleader. Jones sold an option for film and television rights for a biopic about his father, tentatively titled Spike, and is concerned the injunction against Viacom would hinder the pic's production.
Diana Ross in Court on DUI Charges
Diana Ross told a municipal court judge in Tucson, Ariz., Monday that she felt forced into taking a breath test during a traffic stop last year and is seeking to have the results thrown out, the AP reports. "I felt a threatening tone from him. You know, like a command, a demand," Ross said, referring to Tucson police Officer Scott Sullivan. Ross was arrested Dec. 30 on suspicion of drunk driving in southern Arizona. The former member of The Supremes had a blood alcohol level of 0.20--more than twice the legal limit. She pleaded innocent to three DUI-related charges. According to the police report, Ross, 58, was unable to walk a straight line and fell while trying to stand on one leg and count to 10.
Monk Debuts With Highest-Rated Episode Yet
The USA Network original series Monk returned for its second season Friday with its highest-rated episode yet. According to Reuters, the 10 p.m. premiere garnered a total of 5.4 million viewers and drew a 4.1 household rating--up 18 percent from the first-season premiere. Monk most likely benefited from exposure last season on ABC, which aired the show in primetime during the summer. Actor Tony Shalhoub won the 2002 Golden Globe Award for best actor in a TV series for his portrayal of the obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk.
Stones To Play Toronto Show
The Rolling Stones are set to play a low-price concert in Toronto on July 30 to give the city an economic boost in the wake of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak that plagued the city earlier this year. Artists such as Elton John, Billy Joel, Michelle Branch and Kelly Clarkson recently canceled or rescheduled appearances in Toronto because if SARS, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people in the greater Toronto area. For a mere $21.50, concertgoers can check out the Stones and an estimated 10 to 15 supporting acts still to be announced at the outdoor show, which will take place in the docklands area of the city.
Role Call: Damon Bourne Again, Foster in French Pic
Matt Damon will reprise his role as Jason Bourne in the sequel to The Bourne Identity, with British filmmaker Paul Greengrass (Bloody Sunday) in talks to helm. Universal's The Bourne Supremacy, which centers on a Chinese vice premier supposedly slain by Bourne, is expected to begin production at year's end ... Jodie Foster is in talks to take an uncredited role in director Jean-Pierre Jeunet's French-language A Very Long Engagement. Foster, who speaks French, has reportedly wanted to work with a French director for some time and is expected to work two weeks on the big-budget romantic drama that stars Amelie's Audrey Tautou ... Chris Kattan and Parker Posey will join the cast of the indie romantic comedy Adam & Steve for writer/director Craig Chester. The pic, about two New York couples, one straight and one gay, is slated to begin shooting this year.