When it comes to the Super Bowl, you better go big or go home. That rule applies to the television shows that air episodes after the big game ends, and none of them took that adage more seriously this year than New Girl, who recruited legendary musician Prince for a guest starring role. But while some loved his television debut, and all of the funk that he brought with him, others felt that there was something missing from his small screen moment.
Of course, Prince is not the first celebrity to play himself on a sitcom, and he likely won't be the last. We've rundown the best celebrity sitcom appearances, and graded them, based on their ability to be a good sport, their place in the sitcom's universe, and most importantly, whether or not they were actually funny. So, who were the best, and who were better off sticking a sock in it?
Prince, New Girl Role in Story: After Jess and Cece almost get run over by a car, the driver invites them to a fancy party at her boss' mansion. Her boss: Prince. While there, Jess undertakes Prince's montage of spiritual training to figure out why she's so afraid to tell Nick she loves him. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: No. It's f**king nonsense. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 5/5. The whole episode is everyone fawning over Prince (including Prince). They even retconned high school-era Nick as a Prince fan, which doesn't really add up to his curmudgeonly, feelings-hating ways. Self-Mockery of the Role: 3.5/5. To be fair, he did come off as quite an oddball. Celeb's Comic Ability: 3.5/5. Prince actually can handle a joke better than you'd think. Overall Grade: A purple stain on the record of the music artist and this once clever show.
Adam Sandler, Brooklyn Nine-Nine Role in Story: Sandler was a guest at an auction of Greek antiquities that Peralta and Santiago infiltrated to locate a jewel thief. They found the thief, but not before Peralta and Samberg exchanged some witty banter, and Samberg got the rest of the guests to bid on stuffing his dirty sock into Peralta's mouth. Charming. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: Sort of. It makes sense that Peralta and Santiago would run into some powerful people at an art auction, but the fact that it was Sandler made it feel random. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 2/5. He was definitely shown to be cooler than Peralta and smarter than people would assume, but mostly he was there to pick on Peralta and be picked on himself. Self-Mockery of the Role: 4.5/5. One of the best jokes came when Peralta asked what role Kevin James was playing in Samberg's upcoming film about the Russian Revolution, to which Sandler replied: "Oh, ha ha. It's a serious film ... Trotsky." Celeb's Comic Ability: 4/5. He's famous for being funny, and he was, but it was all pretty one-note. Overall Grade: Better than That's My Boy, but not quite as good as Happy Gilmore.
James Franco, 30 Rock Role in Story: Franco was pretending to date Jenna Maroney in order to keep paparazzi from finding out about his true love, a body pillow named Kimiko. Later in the episode, Liz shares a wild night with James and his "lady," one that she very much regrets in the morning. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: Perfect sense, as weird as that sounds. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 3/5. He wasn't fawned over, but he wasn't completely dismissed, either. Self-Mockery of the Role: 4/5. What better way to poke fun at how weird Franco is than by revealing that he's dating a body pillow? Celeb's Comic Ability: 4/5. He's best known for his comedy, whether its scripted or not. Overall Grade: Almost as funny as him releasing a new edition of As I Lay Dying with a photo of himself on the cover.
Jean Claude Van Damme, Friends Role in Story: Van Damme was starring in a film, and the gang sneaks onto the set to help Ross track down his former pet monkey, marcel. Rachel and Monica compete for the action star's attention, until he proposes they have a threesome with Drew Barrymore, at which point, they promptly dump him. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: A little bit. Do we believe that Ross would go on a city-wide search for a monkey? Yes. Do we believe Rachel and Monica would compete over a guy? Sure. But do we believe anyone would ever let these people anywhere close to a movie star? No way. Not even Joey. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 4.5/5. It was a plot all about how good looking he was. Self-Mockery of the Role: 2/5. He was a little cocky, but it was mostly about how good looking he was. Celeb's Comic Ability: 2/5. Granted, he only had about two lines, but it wasn't particularly comedic. Overall Grade: Nowhere near as epic as the viral wiveo where he's doing the split.
Stan Lee, The Big Bang Theory Role in Story: Thanks to their friend Stuart, the gang gets to meet Stan Lee and have him sign their comic books - everyone except for Sheldon, who has to appear in court on a traffic summons. To make it up to them, Penny takes Sheldon to Stan's house, uninvited, and when he sarcastically invites Sheldon into his house, Sheldon enthusiastically accepts, resulting in a new restraining order that he can hang next to the ones from Leonard Nimoy and Carl Sagan. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: Yes. Sheldon would completely overreact about missing the chance to hang out with his hero, and Stan Lee would definitley have a restraining order taken out against him. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 4/5. He's treated like the god he is to comic book fans. Self-Mockery of the Role: 3/5. It's mostly Sheldon who gets mocked, but having him get frustrated by the "fanboys" who won't leave him alone was a nice touch. Celeb's Comic Ability: 3.5/5. He doesn't have a lot to do, but he's good at what he does. Overall Grade: Better than a gift basket, not as awesome as an autographed napkin from Leonard Nimoy. Jon Voight, Seinfeld Role in Story: George purchases a car under the pretenses that its previous owner was none other than Jon Voight (knowing not that the real previous owner was John Voight, a dentist). Later on, Kramer accosts Voight in order to find out the truth behind the automobile's ownership, only to have his arm bitten by the angry film legend. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: It's Seinfeld, so... sure. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 2/5. George was thrilled that he was in possession of Voight's car, comparing him favorably to the likes of (pfft!) Liam Neeson. But Self-Mockery of the Role: 5/5. Voight's small onscreen appearance made him out to be a lunatic. Celeb's Comic Ability: 5/5. Nobody bites Michael Richards like Joe Buck.Overall Grade: One of my personal favorite Seinfeld episodes, which is saying a lot.
Luis Guzman, Community Role in Story: Dean Pelton wants to make a new commercial to help boost enrollment at Greendale, so he recruits the school's most famous alum, Luis Guzman, to star in it. Unfortunately, by the time he shows up on campus, the commercial has gone from Apolocalypse Now to Hearts of Darkness. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: With a show this weird, anything's possible. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 2/5. One the one hand, he's Greendale's most famous alumnus. On the other, he's Greendale's most famous alumnus. Self-Mockery of the Role: 5/5. Although the joke was on Dean Pelton and Greendale, Guzman's allowance of his likeness as a Greendale Community College alum is something that only someone with a great sense of humor would do (case in point: Mark Hamill said 'no' to Dan Harmon and co). Celeb's Comic Ability: 4/5. Even before he shows up onscreen, we're already laughing. Overall Grade: As awesome as a Kickpuncher marathon.
Andy Richter, Arrested Development Role in Story: Unfortunately, he can't stop running into the Bluth family wherever he goes. Eventually, he gives in, and helps Michael attempt to get the Bluth family bopic off the ground. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: Yes, but weirdly, his four brothers are a better fit for the Bluth family's antics. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 1.5/5. He's famous enough to get into the Ealing Club, but not so famous that people can't tell him apart from his brothers. Self-Mockery of the Role: 5/5. One point for each Richter quintuplet. Celeb's Comic Ability: 4/5. He's Conan's sidekick, and don't you forget it. Overall Grade: Like the Bluth's chicken dance: weird, nonsensical, and delightful.
Sinbad, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Role in Story: After Dennis checks into rehab to help the sales of his erotic memoirs, he is forced to share a room with Sinbad and Rob Thomas. And Sinbad doesn't like him. Not one bit. Of course, like most things on this show, it all turns out to be a drug-induced hallucination. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: Without the drugs? Not really. But as a terrible hallucination? Totally. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 4/5. He runs that rehab center, and he will make everyone his b**ch. Self-Mockery of the Role: 4/5. Nobody was expecting Sinbad to be the foul-mouthed bad boy of the rehab center. Celeb's Comic Ability: 4/5. And if you don't think he's funny, he'll have Rob Thomas beat you with a slipper. Overall Grade: Solidly on par with the rest of the gang's get-rich-quick schemes.
Joe Biden, Parks and Recreation Role in Story: Through his campaign work in Washington, Ben is able to introduce Leslie to her biggest crush: Vice President Joe Biden. For once in her life, Leslie is speechless. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: It's a little hard to believe Ben would be connected enough to meet the VP, but there's no ay that Leslie would not have met Joe Biden eventually. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 4/5. There is nothing on this planet that Leslie loves more than Joe Biden. Nothing. Not even waffles. Self-Mockery of the Role: 1/5. Leslie shows him a little too much respect, if anything. Celeb's Comic Ability: 3/5. He doesn't have any funny lines, but Biden's a naturally funny guy. Just Google him. Overall Grade: Better than a waffle tower.
Stevie Wonder, The Cosby Show Role in Story: Denise and Theo get into a car accident with Stevie Wonder's chauffered limo. As an apology, he invites the Huxtables to the studio for a jam session. Does That Make Any Sense in the Show's Universe: That doesn't make sense in any universe, let alone this one. Self-Aggrandizement of the Role: 3/5. The Huxtables are understandably starstruck, but he's pretty humble and down-to-earth. Self-Mockery of the Role: 1.5/5. He cracks a few jokes, but neither he nor the show actually mock him. Celeb's Comic Ability: 2/5. Those few jokes a pretty good, but he's not there for the comedy. Overall Grade: Not nearly as iconic as Dr. Huxtable's collection of sweaters. Follow @hollywood_com
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
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Top Story: Jessica Simpson Gets ABC Sitcom
Pop singer-turned-reality TV star Jessica Simpson has signed a development deal with ABC to star in a comedy series project targeted for fall 2004. According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers Ted Harbert and Joe Simpson, the singer's father and manager respectively, are considering a concept for the half-hour sitcom in which Simpson will play a character loosely based on herself, a pop star whose squeaky-clean image has made her an American sweetheart. "She was delightful in a room, she was charming and poised and funny, and the networks responded, but ABC's been wonderful through this," Harbert told The Reporter. "We think Jessica exudes that all-American charm that I think ABC identifies themselves with, and, in our mind, it is a perfect fit that can go on any of their comedy nights." Simpson's last two albums haven't matched the success of her 1999 debut album Sweet Kisses, but the singer recently struck gold with Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, her MTV reality series with husband Nick Lachey, which was recently picked up by the music cabler for a second season.
Douglas, Zeta-Jones Awarded $24,250 in Damages
Hollywood couple Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas won just $24,250 in damages from the UK's Hello! magazine Friday--a far cry from the $831,000 they wanted from the tabloid for having published unauthorized photos of their wedding. Judge John Lindsay ruled that Hello! could be blamed for publishing the photos but not for the distress caused by the intrusion of the uninvited photographer, Reuters reports. He did, however, rule that rival OK! magazine was entitled to damages of about $1.7 million because Hello! had spoiled their exclusive deal with the couple.
Revlon Renews Berry Contract
Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, who stars in the upcoming thriller Gothika, has renewed her contract to appear as a spokeswoman for Revlon Inc., the company announced Friday. The Associated Press reports Berry recently finished an advertising campaign for the New York-based Revlon's summer 2004 collection. Other Revlon spokeswomen include Julianne Moore, Jaime King, Karen Duffy and Eva Mendes.
Couple Sues Justin Guarini
A Bethlehem, Penn., couple filed a $100,000 lawsuit Friday against Justin Guarini, alleging the American Idol runner-up drove his truck into the rear of their car. The lawsuit, filed in Northampton County Court, contends that Guarini was looking at papers and took his eyes off the road when the vehicles collided on March 12, 2002. According to the AP, Bethlehem police cited Guarini for following too closely to the couple's car. He filed papers to appeal the ticket but decided it wasn't worth leaving Los Angeles to appear in court and paid the $25 fine and $75 in court costs instead.
Bruce Almighty Banned in Egypt
Egyptian authorities have banned the comedy Bruce Almighty, which stars Jim Carrey as a TV reporter who gets to be God for a week, because they say the comedy infringes on God's sacredness. "The name of the movie--Bruce Almighty--indicates that there is someone who can do anything and everything," Madkour Thabit, head of the state-run censorship body responsible for audio and visual productions, said in a statement faxed to the AP. "Such traits belong only to God." In June, Egyptian censors also banned The Matrix Reloaded because it challenged the topics of existence and creation.
Boxer Suing Stallone Over Rocky Films
Chuck Wepner, the 65 year-old boxer who was the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's Rocky films, plans to file a lawsuit in New Jersey State Court next week against the actor for illegally using his name to promote the films and other merchandise, the AP reports. Wepner fought Muhammad Ali in March 1975 and went 15 rounds before he was knocked out. Stallone was at the fight and went on to write the screenplay for the 1976 pic Rocky, which went on to win Academy Awards for best picture, film editing and directing. Wepner, who is seeking $15 million in damages from the right of publicity claim, said he waited almost 28 years before filing the suit because he always expected Stallone to compensate him.
Piracy Forces Early Release of 50 Cent Album
The debut album from the 50 Cent-led group G Unit was moved four days due to piracy, Billboard.com reports. Beg for Mercy will now be issued Nov. 14 by Interscope. "What can you expect when you're the hottest rapper around?," 50 Cent said in a statement. "The streets are used to gettin' my music the unconventional way. So if they want it why not give 'em the real deal as soon as you can?" To reward those who buy the album, Interscope will insert four "golden tickets" in the first million copies of Beg for Mercy, with winners receiving a chain necklace with a diamond-encrusted G Unit medallion valued at $12,500.
Duran Duran Kicks Off Comeback Tour
Duran Duran will kick off a tour with all its original members for the first time in 18 years on Nov. 8, Billboard.com reports. But organizers say Duran Duran is only playing 17 theater dates for its 2003 tour in order to create enough buzz and avoid being labeled "a nostalgia act." During the summer, the original five members, guitarist Andy Taylor, bassist John Taylor, drummer Roger Taylor, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and vocalist Simon LeBon, played some warm-up shows in Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas--all of them sell-outs. On Nov. 4, EMI rolled out the DVD anthology Greatest, which contains the group's classic videos, and a new album is targeted for release in early 2004.
Role Call: Guzman and Ferguson Join Lemony Cast, Murphy in Box
Luis Guzman and
When jailed petty thief Cosimo (Luis Guzman) is given the recipe for a heist so perfect it's practically a masterpiece--or in his specific street lingo a "Bellini"--his long-suffering girl Rosalind (Patricia Clarkson) sends the word out to all the seedy characters and petty huslers in Collinwood a working-class neighborhood on Cleveland's East Side: Cosimo needs a "Mullinski " or fall guy to take the prison rap for him so he can pull the safecracking job. However five potential Mullinskis--cocky prizefighter Pero (Sam Rockwell) broke single dad Riley (William H Macy) slick and streetwise Leon (Isaiah Washington) handsome gigolo Basil (Andrew Davoli) and over-the-hill thief Toto (Michael Jeter)--decide to pull off the Bellini themselves. If only they were as smart as they were desperate for cash.
The film is produced by director Steven Soderbergh and actor George Clooney both of whom know more than a little about on-screen performance and they've recruited a troupe of top-notch character actors most of whom audiences usually see shining in supporting roles. The film particularly provides a chance for Rockwell who's been turning in a dizzying amount of scene-stealing performances in recent years to step into the spotlight as a leading man and the actor proves worthy of the task. At first seeming the swaggering loudmouth who's too dumb to know he's dumb Rockwell's Pero morphs believably into the movie's main mover and shaker and ultimately a convincing romantic lead (his scenes with a sweetly restrained Jennifer Esposito have both warmth and a hint of sizzle). Among the veterans the always-engaging Macy plays a fresh variation of one his trademark hapless losers on the brink while the vastly underused Jeter brings spark and life to an otherwise woefully underwritten role. Meanwhile the newcomers Washington and Davoli hold their own against the heavyweights and show great promise for roles to come (Gabrielle Union is also potent in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her part). On the flip side Soderbergh stalwart Guzman is as watchable as ever but his role never develops enough--comedically or dramatically--to allow him to give a truly eye-opening performance while recent Emmy-winner Clarkson's considerable talents are wasted in a thankless "girlfriend" part. Ironically the most disappointing performance comes from the flick's biggest name: Clooney who cameos as a tattooed wheelchair-bound safecracker. George is game enough but the script lets him down by giving his seemingly outrageous character very little by way of outrageous dialogue or action.
The up-and-coming writing-directing team of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo prove adroit enough with their visuals and staging. They know enough to get out of their actors' ways and never allow the film's many slapstick moments to hit the audience sledgehammer-hard a la those other brothers the Farrellys. But where the film avoids getting dumb and dumber it also never goes far enough to wring more than polite chuckles out of the comedic set-ups--call them Genteel and Genteeler. Nor do they reach the heights of arty loopiness of that second set of cinematic siblings the Coens. Instead the Russos' film--which borrows liberally from the Italian comedy Big Deal on Madonna Street--is as featherweight as cotton candy: tasty enough while it's in front of you but also instantly forgettable save for the high-quality performances.
Once again we journey into the not-too-distant future when the Moon has been colonized and it's just one big party town. Pluto Nash (Eddie Murphy) is an ex-con who takes over a dilapidated club and turns it into one of the hottest spots on the otherwise frigid lunar rock. Of course his luck can't be all good. Soon a mysterious gangster named Rex Crater whom no one has ever seen sends in his crony (Joe Pantoliano) to try to buy Club Pluto--mostly because he wants to take over the Moon (what else?). When Pluto refuses he suddenly becomes target practice. Along with lovely waitress/singer Dina (Rosario Dawson) and his robotic bodyguard Bruno (Randy Quaid) Pluto tries to get to Crater before the bad guys can get to him. Pluto Nash has absolutely nothing to offer in the way of action if that's what it is going for but there are some comedic moments. The usual "what-would-the-future-be-like?" jokes are there including Hillary Clinton's face on a $1 000 bill the advancement of body enhancements and cloning. Still whether trying to be a comedy or an action adventure Pluto Nash unfortunately misses the mark on both counts.
When choosing Pluto Nash Murphy probably decided he was tired of wearing a fat suit being upstaged by talking animals or even playing a donkey. He probably wanted to be just Eddie Murphy again. Unfortunately those other film personas such as Sherman Klump and Dr. Dolittle are what put the comedian back on the map after a string of failures at trying to be "just Eddie Murphy." He should remember that. Pluto is charismatic and affable but even in Murphy standards is still pretty tame. Dawson is appealing as Dina and manages to eke out a worthy performance from a thankless part. Coming off another hapless female role in Men in Black II the actress should look at trying to sink her teeth into something more meaningful next time around. Then there is the long list of small roles played by strong actors including Pantoliano Illeana Douglas John Cleese Jay Mohr Pam Grier Luis Guzman and Peter Boyle. Why they are in the film is a mystery--maybe they were looking for a paycheck. It is still fun to see how many of them keep popping up. And poor Randy Quaid. He's never really found his potential as an actor but as the robot Bruno he at least gets a few laughs.
Luckily there are a few things that did work with Pluto Nash so the experience isn't a total bust. The film looks great from the set design to the special effects to the costumes. In a cross between the future crowded city of Blade Runner the construction feel of Mars in Total Recall and an over-the-top comic-book look director Ron Underwood (City Slickers) creates a pretty wacky world on the Moon. "Little America" is the main city on the Moon and is definitely like the Wild West where anything goes. Yet the hover cars and the casinos all have a distinctly '40s feel to them. The film's look combines different eras. We even get to go on the lunar surface outside of the domed city and watch the actors bounce around in zero gravity. Well it looks like fun anyway. It's just a shame the rest of the film couldn't fit in with same wild carefree attitude it conveys visually. There could be a good reason why the film sat on the shelf for awhile before being released. The bare-bones story only manages to elicit a few chuckles here or there--and it's hardly an "adventure."