We all have daddy issues, right? That's what makes us love The Real Transitional Objects of Tantrum City. Watching this show (obsessing about this show) is all of us just acting out and trying to get attention by hanging around with a bunch of other women who are just trying to get their father's attention, or just trying to get over the time their father beat them by abusing others, or, I don't know, trying to ignore the fact that their father is a disgusting perv who wants to have sex with them or at least a version of them that is both younger and black. That is not the case with my father, because he likes old Asian ladies.
Yes, last night on The Electra Complex only two things happened and they both really had to do with daddies. (Well, three things happened if you count Heather Thompson planning a liver transplant fundraiser, and that is only notable because in the background was third season second string Housewife Jennifer Gilbert and her asymmetrical bob lurking around like a burnt out Christmas light. How weird was that?) Of these two things that happened, only one of them really interested me, and we will get to that second. First off we have to talk about ¡Que Viva! and her new mortal enemy Ramona Singer.
¡Que Viva! invited Ramona to a very bright and airy restaurant that I swear is the same place that Carrie Bradshaw drunkenly fell down the stairs drunk on cosmos after she found out Mr. Big was dating someone that wasn't her. QV called this little meeting because ¡Que Viva! heard from her ex Harry Dubin (a ghost that has haunted these proceedings like the title character does in Rebecca) that Ramona called him up and was asking him all sorts of inappropriate questions about her. We never got to find out exactly what those are, because Ramona slank into her chair like the seat was on fire and refused to take of her sunglasses. Maybe it was to keep the Carrie Bradshaw visions out of her head. But Ramona was on the attack and before they could even start a dignified conversation, she started attacking ¡Que Viva!, and man what a fight this was.
Let me just clear this up – no side is right in this fight. This is like an argument between those awful shoes where each toe has its own little home and a Croc. There is no choosing sides. It's like a child porn advocate having a debate with Hitler. You can't pick a winner without Satan rising up through the floorboards on a bit of steam and yanking your soul out of your body with a severe tug.
Here are their points: Ramona thinks that ¡Que Viva! is no fun, has a stick up her ass, and is crazy. All legit. She also thinks that she has panic disorder not because of small planes or heights, but because she can't leave her husband. Ramona makes that last point as if it is some sort of severe indictment. Who cares what makes this scaredy cat listen to Chaka Khan? She's still quaking in her boot for whatever reason. Is ¡Que Viva! less of a person for having to be around her husband? I don't think so. Ramona also is trying to rewrite history and say that she was joking about Taco leaving St. Barts. We all know that is factually incorrect.
¡Que Viva! thinks that Ramona parties too much and that it is undignified for a 56-year-old Christian jewelry designer to dance on tables in nightclubs. She has a point, but so what? Old people can't have fun? She also thinks that Ramona is a drunk who enables Sonja. Fair Point. ¡Que Viva! thinks Ramona lacks class (true), is a coward who walks away from an argument (true), and that she should probably shut up now and again and listen to others (true true triggity true). Then ¡Que Viva! goes on to accuse Ramona of cheating on her husband, which is a seriously low blow. That's just totally uncalled for, even if Ramona is accusing ¡Que Viva! of being too dedicated to her husband.
However none of that was the best part of their exchange. Ramona says that the reason Sonja drinks so much is because she's "lost everything," and ¡Que Viva! counters, "Like what...a leg?" OK, ¡Que Viva!, you can't be all, "Just ignore my leg, I'm just a normal person" and then try to trot that out every time you need some sympathy. But then Ramona says, "You have a very comfortable life. There are plenty of people who would trade a part of their body to live your life." Wait, what? That has to be the singularly most ridiculous thing that a Real Housewife has ever said on television, and we have suffered through 2400 seasons of Vicki Gunvalson as the matriarch of the Real Sundried Tomatoes of the California Pizza Kitchen. That is just bonkers. Ramona just said that there are people who would actually cut off a limb so that they could be rich like ¡Que Viva!. That is what she said. She said that and she meant it, that is what is crazy about it. Ramona apparently believes that when you say you paid an "arm and a leg" for something, that is an actual price. There is an actual dollar amount attached to flesh and bone, ligament and gristle. We know Housewives routinely pay for their body parts, but this was just nuts. Here is a Viking ship full of head shakes and eye rolls for Ramona.
Later in the episode, it was ¡Que Viva! who looked like an evil mastermind. Ramona was throwing a penthouse fashion party, because, apparently, that is what these women do to stop other women from being abused. If you wanted to stop female abuse, how about convincing reality TV to stop existing? Anyway, this is a thing. Everyone was there and ¡Que Viva! decided that she couldn't go, not because Ramona just left her slack jawed in Carrie Stumbled Here RestoLounge, but because she couldn't handle going into an elevator to go up 90 floors. Steam just came out of my head and my eyes bulged out of my skull like one of those Tex Avery wolves and OOOOAOOOOAOAOAHGAGAGGGAAAHHHHH went every noise in the universe.
Anyway, ¡Que Viva! sent her father Jorge to the party with a check. First of all, Jorge looks like an orange rind that has been fashioned into a scrotum and given a pair of glasses. He is completely ridiculous in word, deed, and appearance, and he had no business whatsoever being at this party. That ¡Que Viva! would send him there to do her dirty work is just despicable. This is the kind of thing that would happen on Melrose Place and you'd be like "Come on, that is so fake." I mean, a bitch could rip off her wig and reveal a scar and stash a bomb in the laundry room and you'd buy it, but sending your 80-year-old father to get Ramona Viperness Singer to apologize, now that is just crazy.
Jorge confronts Ramona and has a good point that she shouldn't make fun of ¡Que Viva! panic disorder, but Ramona will not apologize, she is waiting for ¡Que Viva! to apologize.This is how Housewives feuds are made. They are not built on rational behavior or real incidents of being wronged, they are built on silly points of order by two sides that are both about as wrong as wearing your jeans in the ocean. No one is ever going to apologize or see that the other side is right. This was the death of Jill Zarin and a million other Housewives. It was almost the death of that one blonde bitch and that other blonde bitch from OC, but they figured out they should make up before they got fired too. While we love a fight, we hate when people just fight for no reason over ridiculous crap.
Jorge keeps pressing Ramona to apologize and she gets flustered and made that he only sees ¡Que Viva!'s side of the story. Of course he does! She's his daughter? Whose side is he supposed to be on? Anyway, Jorge refuses to leave even after Carole and Holla!, I mean Heather, tell him that he should go. Ever the level heads these two. I still can't believe their Housewives. Jorge is escorted out by security and the whole thing ends with embarrassment. At least Jorge only asked one of the ladies out an an inappropriate moment. Thank god for all our daddy issues.
Next: Guys, I'm really worried about Sonja Tremont Morgan, of the Scotts Bluff Morgans. She's having a really rough time right now. She was getting all prepared for her settlement meeting with her ex-husband John (J. Pierpont) Morgan. She put on the green thong that he always liked so much (it still fit, but just barely) and a conservative skirt suit with a blouse that showed just enough cleavage (or decolletage, as Sonja calls it) to get her some attention. Oh, and a hat. Sonja really loves a good hat. Remember when people used to wear hats? Sonja does, and she thought things were so much better back then.
Sonja was ready for her meeting, the first time that she would see her ex in years. In the cab on the way over, she thought about what was going to happen. They would meet in one of those conference rooms high up in a Midtown office tower with a huge wooden table in the center glistening in the Manhattan sun and interrupted in the center only by one of those multi-legged phone systems that looks sort of like a crab (the lice kind, not the open with a mallet kind). They would sit at opposite sides facing each other with their lawyers at each others side and he would say, "Sonja, you're looking well. How was your weekend?" And she would tell him and bring up some shared joke of theirs and talk about their friends and their daughters and she would make him laugh, she could always make him laugh. And then his lawyer would give her a settlement to sign and she would get money and houses and millions and everything she could ask for, everything he promised her. Then he would take his check book out of the inside of his blazer (navy blue with bone buttons) with a golden fountain pen and snap off the cap and just write her a check, signing it with a flourish. He would pull out her chair for her, open the door for her, and then walk her to the elevator with his arm in the crook of her elbow talking about when he would see her next and making some plans. His assistant will call her intern and put it in the iCal for real. Their daughter could join them. It would be like old times.
That is what Sonja imagined. But when the elevator door dinged on the 82nd floor the receptionist saw her and her hat framed perfectly by the opening door, holding her purse like a leather discus she was about to hurl for a world record but still tucked under her arm. "Hello, I'm Sonja Morgan. I'm here to see my husband John?" The receptionist typed something into her computer (it's so sophisticated how they do things electronically these days) and asked Sonja to have a seat. She leafed through a copy of Architectural Digest not even looking at the pictures, but being comforted by the smooth of the pages, the rip, rip, rip as she turned them quickly. Then, finally, a man wearing a striped tie without a jacket approached her. "Hello, Sonja. I'm Steven Miller, your husband's attorney, if you would follow me."
She walked down a hallway with her head up, shoulders back, past dozens of people in cubicles, their heads bent down in work. He opened a door to a small office and asked her to sit down. It was empty, though there was a window looking out to the street. She took a seat, but there was only one chair. "Where's John?" she asked. "He's not coming. Someone will be in to see you shortly, I'll have your lawyer join you when he arrives," he answered. And her lawyer did arrive and joined her in the small office, leaning against the wall while they waited, his briefcase wrapped in the papoose of his arms.
Steven Miller returned, still without a jacket and sat behind the desk, which was so uncluttered it looked like it was usually empty, and he pushed across some terms of a settlement, none of which Sonja was ready to agree to. "Come on," her attorney said to her, grabbing at her elbow as she flinched slightly. "We're leaving."
"But where's John?" Sonja asked. "I'm sure if I just talked to him, I could explain. I could remind him that. We can fix this. We don't have to walk away." "No," her attorney said. "He's not coming. It's over. Let's go. I can't believe they called us in here for this."
When she got home, the interns were waiting, one holding a bottle of champagne behind his back and the other one with party hats to pass out. But when Sonja got to the top of the stairs and was still wiping the undersides of their eyes, they quickly stashed them in the closet. The celebration will have to wait.
"It's over," Sonja said. "I don't even know why I left the house. I thought he was going to be there. I thought he would be there and we would laugh and talk, but he wasn't. He wasn't there and it's over. And all my friends, all my friends they just worry about where they're going on vacation and what dress they're going to wear to the gala, and I'm worried about keeping my house. I'm worried about my debt. I'm up at night, rolling around in the bed wondering how I'm going to pay this. I never should have gone to St. Barts, it just reminded me how I used to live, how good things used to be. And I'm going to have to sell my house. I at least have to sell the house in France, but if my husband won't give me what we need, what I need and what his daughter needs, if he wants to kick her out of her childhood home, then good. Then that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to solve this on my own. I've always been Sonja. I've always owned my house. Before I married him, I had my own apartment and I had a house in Beverly Hills...well, in Hollywood at least, and I'm going to have it again. I don't need him. I don't need him. It's over." That was it.
Sonja washed that man right out of her hair. It was funny to see this Sonja. Usually we get the boob-headed party girl who lurches around with her tits forward with a cocktail, a joke, and a flirty remark all in hand and just banging whoever she runs into. That is the Sonja she wants you to see. The fun Sonja. But this was the other side of the coin, the inside of the Popple once it has come out of its shell, and it is hard and fierce and doesn't mess with anyone. This is Sonja showing her real emotion, her streaked mascara, her hurt feelings, her blotchy chest that is rashy with rage. This is a whole new Sonja.
She got on the phone and called the Countess of Crackerjacks for support. She was going to do the only thing she could think of to get that man out of her house: she was going to put his portrait in storage. They had them done when they were first married, John, hunching over in his chair, posing with his arm over the side, looking slack and stiff at the same time. Sonja, of course, was askew in her seat, about to pop off it with energy and trying not to sit on a white dog. These portraits, done in dark oils but the British Royal Portrait Artist, flanked the fireplace in her dining room, standing like sentinels, separate but together.
Robin Pocker, who had been through this sort of thing before with many divorced couples, came over and told her it would be OK. That the process is easy, "We just have to, you know, take it off the wall, cover it with a cloth, and then throw it in the back of the van. It will be in a storage space, so call us if you ever want it. Or call us if you never want it. Otherwise, it will just sit there as long as you keep paying the bill."
The two Latinos came in and took it down, disconnected the light, and shuffled it down the stairs, as Sonja held onto Crackerjack's hand and slouched her head on CJ's shoulder as the rest of her body went tense, like she was about to get her eyebrows waxed. When they were all gone, she just melted into the table, she poured herself into the seat and oozed her head down onto the hard surface, smelling the lemony flecks of Pledge that the long-fired maid used to polish the surface once a month. CJ patted her head for awhile, stroking her hair, and feeding her encouragement, but it got late, and Sonja got quiet and finally Crackerjacks said, "Son, I'm gonna leave. Call if you need anything. I really mean that."
And when the front door closed, Sonja closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep. She woke up hours later, how late, she didn't know, but the sun had gone down and she was sitting in the gloomy dining room, her head still on the table and drool pooling under her cheek. She sat up, ran her sleeve across her mouth and touched her eyes a little, blinking at the dryness that comes after crying. She looked up and the room looked foreign with that big vastness on the wall. She could still tell that the wallpaper was a different color where the painting used to be, even in the darkness. But it was the empty that really got her. She couldn't stop looking at it, like a tongue probing where a tooth was pulled, feeling around in the gum, opening up the socket, trying to realize that one day that will feel normal and it won't even be gone anymore.
She got up from the chair and though she would head to bed, until she passed her portrait. Oh, what a different Sonja she was then. Who was this girl, so full of hope, so mighty in her connection to a rich man, her pooch propped up and probing his head out from the wood of the chair's arm. That was so long ago, where there were yachts and royals and business and everything ahead of her. When she gave her love to a man and he gave her everything else in return. When she gave him the promise of a daughter if he gave her the promise of safety, stability. That is all Sonja ever wanted, something that wouldn't change, a bedrock she could dance on. He gave it to her, but how stupid was that Sonja to think it would last forever. How stupid.
"Stupid!" she yelled out loud, reaching out and swatting at the painting. "Stupid!" she yelled again. "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" she said, this time with fists hitting it, knocking it off kilter on the wall. "So Stupid! Sonja," she said hoisting it off the wall. "How could you be so stupid," as she put her knee through the back of the canvas, ripping it. Then she started flailing about with the frame, hitting it against the table and chairs, pounding it on the carpet, and then finally fracturing it on the mantle. But she kept flailing, breaking it little by little, and now when she threw her arms up, little pieces tore off and flew around the room, the whole thing a winging mass, like a bird caught on a tether, trying to escape. "Stupid!" she yelled one last time as she threw the thing into a heap on the ground and collapsed on top of it as her huddled body convulsed with a sob.
Yes, she still had some tears left, but not many, and the splinters of the frame were jutting into her. She got up and wiped the heels of her hands into her eyes, for the last time today, she swore to herself, and she left the pile right there on the floor. Someone would clean it up later. Her or the interns or maybe the maid, if she could eventually hire her back. Someone. Someone would get rid of it. She walked up to her room, but instead of getting in the bed, she went digging through the duvet for her phone. She picked it up and dialed a number.
"Hey, Ramona, it's Son" she said. "No, no, no. I'm alright. No, really I am. Hey, Ramona. You wanna go out somewhere?"
DreamWorks' "Gladiator" should be victorious again on the box office battlefield this weekend.
With "Gladiator" still commanding a 30% first-choice tracking score among opening and released movies, there's little doubt the R-rated action adventure will keep a tight grip on the top spot.
If "Gladiator" slips 36% from its $34.8 million opening, its second weekend tribute will still be a handsome sum of about $22 million.
DreamWorks is distributing "Gladiator" domestically, while Universal is releasing it internationally. The two studios co-financed the film, which reportedly cost $103 million to make, and are 50-50 partners, sharing equally in its success.
Directed by Ridley Scott, it stars Russell Crowe.
Warner Bros. and Franchise Pictures' PG-13 rated sci-fi action adventure "Battlefield Earth," opening at 3,307 theaters, should win the battle for second place. With its 19% overall first-choice tracking score, it's likely to gross about $10 million.
"It's a 22% first choice for males under 25 and a 29% first choice for males over 25," explains one studio executive. "Its awareness is 80% and the definite interest is 42% for males."
Directed by Roger Christian, it stars John Travolta, Barry Pepper and Forest Whitaker.
Universal's PG-13-rated comedy "Screwed," opening at 1,760 theaters, is a 12% first choice in the tracking. It is likely to be third with $7-8 million.
"It certainly did pop on the tracking," says an insider. "It's a 20% first choice for males. The awareness for males is 81% and the definite interest is 48% for males."
Written and directed by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, it stars Norm MacDonald, David Chappelle and Danny DeVito.
Universal's "U-571" should float downstream two slots to fourth place in its fourth week. If the PG-13-rated World War II submarine drama falls 40%, it will gross about $5 million.
Directed by Jonathan Mostow, "U-571" stars Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi.
New Line's PG-13-rated time thriller "Frequency" should tumble one peg to fifth place in its third week. If it slides 35%, it will do about $4 million.
Directed by Gregory Hoblit, it stars Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel.
Columbia's PG-13-rated youth appeal dance film "Center Stage," opening at 1,506 theaters, isn't likely to kick off in the Top Five given its modest 7% first-choice tracking.
"It's not showing on the tracking much at all," notes one studio executive.
Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Amanda Schull, Zoe Saldana, Susan May Pratt, Peter Gallagher, Donna Murphy and Ethan Stiefel.
20th Century Fox's PG-13-rated drama "Where the Heart Is," a $9 million domestic pick up for Fox, was fifth with $5.1 million last week. Its third week should see it depart the Top Five.
Directed and produced by Matt Williams, it stars Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Stockard Channing and Joan Cusack.
Columbia's "I Dreamed Of Africa," which opened in ninth place last week to just $2.4 million, will be struggling to stay in the Top Ten in its second week.
"Africa," made on a mid-range budget of about $34 million, is directed by Hugh Hudson and stars Kim Basinger.
Filling out lower rungs: "Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas" and "Love & Basketball."
On the limited release front: Miramax Films opens its R-rated contemporary version of "Hamlet" in New York and Los Angeles.
Directed by Michael Almereyda, it stars Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Sam Shepard, Diane Venora, Bill Murray, Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles.
Although this weekend won't set any records, insiders are happy because they anticipate a strong summer season spread around among most of the major studios. That's exactly the sort of summer theater owners enjoy most since it keeps their multiplexes filled with moviegoers, who are certain to buy their share of popcorn, candy and soda.
This summer should see business spread around among many mid-sized hits rather than concentrated, as it was last summer, in two mega-hits -- Fox and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: Episode One - The Phantom Menace" and New Line's "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me." Together, the two sequels did about $626 million in ticket sales through Labor Day weekend.
This summer there already are very high hopes for Paramount's "Mission: Impossible 2," which will own Memorial Day weekend. Although "M: I-2" doesn't arrive until May 24, it's already an enviable 23% first choice in the tracking. The original "Mission: Impossible" opened May 22, 1996, and grossed $180.9 million domestically, $284 million internationally -- for a worldwide total of $464.9 million.
Memorial Day weekend hits don't always wind up as the summer's biggest grossing films. The original "Mission," for example, was out-grossed by "Twister," which opened nearly two weeks earlier on May 10, 1996, and went on to gross $241.7 million domestically, $254 million internationally -- for a worldwide cume of $495.7 million.
Hollywood has found over the years that movies opening in mid-June or for July Fourth weekend often are the ones that rewrite the record books.
For instance, "Jurassic Park" opened June 11, 1993, and did $357 million domestically. "Independence Day" opened July 3, 1996, and did $306.2 million domestically. "The Lion King" arrived June 15, 1994, and did $312.8 million domestically. "Forrest Gump" opened July 6, 1994, and did $329.7 million domestically. "Men In Black" opened July 2, 1997, and did $250.1 million domestically. "Ghost" appeared July 13, 1990, and did $217.6 million domestically.
Looking beyond "M: I-2," at least eight other summer releases are already shaping up as potentially big box office contenders. Those generating the best buzz at this early point - listed in order of their release dates - include:
* Buena Vista/Disney's computer-animated family film "Dinosaur," which reportedly cost $150 million-plus to make (May 19).
* 20th Century Fox's R-rated comedy "Me, Myself & Irene," directed by Bobby and Peter Farrelly ("There's Something About Mary") and starring Jim Carrey and Renee Zellweger (June 23).
* Columbia's action-adventure "The Patriot," set during the Revolutionary War, directed by Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day") and starring Mel Gibson (June 28), which reportedly cost about $100 million to make.
* Warner Bros.' Action-adventure "The Perfect Storm," directed by Wolfgang Petersen ("Air Force One") and starring George Clooney, which reportedly cost about $120 million to make (June 30).
* 20th Century Fox's live-action fantasy-adventure "X-Men," based on the best-selling comic book series, directed by Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects") and starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, Bruce Davison, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Ray Park and Anna Paquin (July 14).
* DreamWorks' fantasy thriller "What Lies Beneath," directed by Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump") and starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer (July 21).
* Universal and Imagine Entertainment's comedy sequel "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," directed by Peter Seagal ("Tommy Boy") and starring Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Larry Miller and John Ales (July 28).
* 20th Century Fox's comedy remake "Bedazzled," directed by Harold Ramis ("Groundhog Day") and starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, a potential summer sleeper (Aug. 11).