Super Bowl Ads/YouTube
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Apple's landmark Super Bowl ad that helped not only signal a revolution in the personal computer marketplace, but set an advertising standard that is still on display. With Ridley Scott's Orwellian "1984" spot, Apple ushered in the age of the bigger-than-life Super Bowl commercial. The clamoring for ad space to run on the big game's broadcast has allowed broadcasters to charge $4 million for 30 seconds of time (in 1984 the figure was $450,000).
In the intervening years, Super Bowl ads have become a genre unto themselves. As the game approaches, companies have begun teasing their ads to build excitement for their campaigns.
Bud Light: What do Arnold Schwarzenegger dressed as a 1970s tennis player and practicing ping-pong have to do with Don Cheadle leading around a llama and Reggie Watts DJ'ing a bachelorette party? The beer company is hoping that enough people are intrigued by the idea to tune in and find out.
Apple: The computer giant did an update of their iconic ad on its 20th anniversary and it is expected that there will be another version this Sunday. Whatever their plan is, the company is keeping it under wraps.
Dannon: Honda had success with Matthew Broderick reprising his Ferris Bueller capers. Dannon apparently feels that just as many people hold similar affection for Full House. The yogurt maker is running a series of ads featuring John Stamos, Bob Saget and Dave Coulier.
Toyota: The car manufacturer's planned ad for its Highlander brand involves the Muppets and Terry Crews. Crews, the former football player and Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor, picks up Kermit and crew after their bus breaks down.
Jaguar: The luxury car maker is doing a Super Bowl ad for the first time and tapped Sir Ben Kingsley, along with Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes), in a homage to British villians.
Go Daddy: After years of ads that objectified women and promised even more skin if viewers would go the web hosting company's website, this year spokeswoman Danica Patrick is turning the tables by running around with a bunch of male bodybuilders.
Butterfinger: To help launch its new Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cups, Nestle's ad features Peanut Butter and Chocolate in couples therapy.
When Saturday Night Live announced that Colin Jost would replace the departing Seth Meyers as Cecily Strong's co-anchor of Weekend Update, the news was met with a giant, "Huh?" It isn't that there's anything wrong with Jost — along with Meyer he was one of SNL's head writers and he's a funny follow on Twitter — but the show already has 16 other cast members. Did anyone not already performing on the show really need to be brought in?
In short, no. While some cast members like Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan and Vanessa Bayer already have Weekend Update roles with recurring characters, there are plenty of others that deserved a shot at joining Strong behind the desk. These five would've made more sense than moving Jost over from the writer's room.
There's never been a minority cast member that has anchored Update. Pharaoah's Shaquille O'Neal impression has been put to good use during Update appearances, but it is also entirely expendable. Having Pharoah do his take of African-American broadcasters like Bryant Gumbel or Lester Holt set against Strong's Midwesterner would've provided a completely new dynamic for a segment that's been around for nearly 40 years.
Wheelan comes from a background in stand-up comedy and so far the SNL writers haven't shown that they know what to do with him. Dennis Miller, Norm MacDonald and Colin Quinn were all stand-up comedians that didn't look right anywhere on the show but behind the Update desk, so there would've been precedent. The one time that Wheelan has looked comfortable this year was on Update doing a routine instead of a character.
Bennett has already shown that he can milk comedy out of a serious persona — it's the basis of his well known AT&T "It's Not Complicated" Ads. Putting Bennett with Strong might have allowed for the kind of disdainful byplay that Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin used in the 1970s to keep the Update segment popular (and from disappearing) after Chevy Chase left. A little tension on Update isn't a bad thing.
Other than hiring Zamata, the show hasn't done anything with its lone African-American female. Pairing Strong and Zamata together would've been even more groundbreaking for the show than if Pharoah had been given a shot. We haven't seen Zamata interact with the other cast members enough yet to know about chemistry, but the dual female anchors could've become Tina & Amy 2.0.
Mooney's main contribution to the show since joining the cast has been doing digital shorts with his fellow Good Neighbor alum Bennett. The shorts have typically been more odd than the standard SNL fare which seems to come directly from Mooney. Strong has shown that she's adept at doing the straight Update news jokes, but having Mooney's looniness around to counter that might have been fun.
When Lindsey Vonn had to pull out of the Sochi Winter Olympics with a knee injury, it not only robbed NBC of the chance to show Tiger Woods during its broadcast, but it deprived the network of one of the faces of the Games that it so desperately craves. In addition to being a world class athlete, Vonn is well known and beautiful — a network promotional executive's dream.
While a missing Vonn doesn't help NBC, there are plenty of other athletes representing the United States that the Peacock will try to get the audience to care about. These eight athletes are likely to get the star treatment and get hearts racing for their athletic talent… and more.
Ashley Wanger, Figure Skating — Wagner is sure to get all sorts of attention after she finished fourth at the Olympics Trials and was put on the team anyway. The fact that she has a lot of sponsors hoping to cash in on her looks should she win a medal probably had nothing to do with it.
Julia Mancuso, Alpine Skiing — She's going to slot into the role that Vonn would've played. Not only does she have the looks to pull that off, but she has her own line of underwear called "Kiss My Tiara." At the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Mancuso passed out thongs to fellow competitors.
Zach Parise, Men's Hockey — Studies have shown that women make up a large chunk of Olympic viewers, so it's only right that there's plenty of eye candy on that side of the ledger as well. Parise, normally a winger for the Minnesota Wild, has the sort of rugged good looks that one would expect from a hockey player…and all of his teeth.
Ellery Hollingsworth, Snowboarding — Since it doesn't appear that swimsuit model Clair Bidez nor Instagram hottie Hannah Teter are going to make the team, Hollingsworth should be next in line to carry on the tradition of snowboarders that can make temperatures rise.
Gretchen Bleiler/Elena Hight, Snowboarding — OK, so women's snowboarding is to the Winter Games what beach volleyball is to summer…just with more clothing. Bleiler, who's been around long enough to have some name recognition outside of the X-Games set, and Hight, who's Hawaiian, are the next most likely candidates besides Hollingsworth to gain new followers. Really, there should just be a reality show devoted to the whole group of them.
Bode Miller, Alpine Skiing — Along with snowboarder Shaun White, Miller is probably the best known of the returning athletes. This will be his fifth Olympics and probably his swan song. Since he's aged in much the same way as David Beckham — seemingly getting better looking — NBC will be sure to give him plenty of attention.
Lolo Jones, Bobsledding — There's no guarantee that Jones will actually make the squad, but if she does, there will be an NBC camera assigned to follow the Summer Olympics hurdler and proponent of abstinence at all times.
There's more to Amy Adams than plunging necklines. The American Hustle actress, fresh off of a Golden Globe win for Best Actress in a Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical and an Oscar nomination, has established herself as one of the best actors of her generation regardless of gender. What the younger actresses coming up through the ranks will hopefully pay attention to, however, is the manner in which she's crafted a career full of interesting choices.
Adams isn't a fearless actor just because she's willing to plunge the depths of her emotions to portray a character. What truly makes her fearless is that she's just as engaged while singing with animated squirrels as she is when playing a conflicted young nun.
Considering the number of young actors who are painfully aware of being under the microscope at all times, be that from their own social media presence or everyone else's, Adams' approach should serve as a reminder about how to make each performance count. Every actor is instructed to fully commit to a part, but far too often it's obvious when performers feel that they're doing something beneath them. Film is such an intimate medium it really is hard to mail-in a performance without the camera picking up on it.
Adams' career has seemingly been a balancing act between heavy and light. After toiling in smaller roles in both film and television, her breakout performance in the indie film Junebug was followed by more mainstream notice in, of all things, a Will Ferrell movie (Talladega Nights). The year that she fully leapt into movie stardom in Disney's Enchanted, she also appeared in the awards-friendly Charlie Wilson's War.
During a stretch in 2010-11, Adams hit the big screen with Leap Year, a frothy romantic comedy, followed by her Oscar-nominated role as a Boston tough girl in The Fighter, and then moved on to dancing and singing with Kermit and Miss Piggy in The Muppets. At no point in any of those films did Adams feel out of place or seem self-conscious about what she was doing. She gave each role exactly what it called for and was seemingly unworried about how it would be received.
Like Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock just before her, Meryl Streep before them, and a litany of other actors and actresses, Adams has embraced a varied slate of roles with equal abandon. Movie audiences can only hope that the group coming on Adams' heels -- including her American Hustle costar Jennifer Lawrence -- is paying attention and will strive to follow a similar path.
When news broke that Russell Johnson — known to generations of television viewers simply as The Professor from Gilligan's Island — had died, Baby Boomers and post-Boomers alike immediately began expressing their sorrow at his passing, whether through social media or by reaching out to old friends.
When later that same day, it was revealed that Dave Madden, more familiar to most as Reuben Kincaid on The Partridge Family, had also passed away, the cycle repeated.
Both men lived long lives — Johnson was 89 and Madden 82 at the time of their deaths — and had been largely out of the public eye for decades. More than that, it seems safe to say that many of the people expressing sadness at the passing of the sitcom icons hadn't watched an episode of either of their shows in years. Yet, even with that distance, it still felt as though a relative they had always liked as a child was gone.
For a great number of people over the age of 40, watching sitcoms in syndication was a daily afterschool activity, as much a part of childhood as homework or dodge ball. The cast of The Brady Bunch or The Munsters or The Monkees were as familiar to kids as their teachers, and usually more easily remembered. When an actor that was so intimately a part of childhood memories dies, it brings about an almost visceral reaction, as though some part of the person's youth was just extinguished.
The beauty and comfort of television in the age of online streaming, YouTube and DVDs is that it's easy enough to find reassurance that those shows are still out there somewhere, easy enough to get to with only a couple of clicks. To the millions that quietly — or not so quietly — sang the theme songs to Gilligan's Island and The Partridge Family upon hearing of Johnson's and Madden's deaths, it's nice to know that their work will continue on.
With the fractured television viewing that cable, satellite and online sources have brought about; it's easy to think that these reactions will become more muted in the future; the shared experiences of childhood replaced by target marketing and splintered demographics. Here's a guess, though, that sometime in the distant future, a group of middle-aged people will share a moment lamenting the loss of someone from a current Disney Channel or Nickelodeon show from their youth. After all, while things will always change, those impressions from childhood never truly go away… just as the Professor and Reuben will stay tucked away in people's memories for years to come.
After Tina Fey and Amy Poehler got the masses excited for the Golden Globes and made Leonardo DiCaprio blush -- not an unsubstantial feat on either count -- it's easy to feel like there's a run of strong hosts taking over the awards season. Ellen DeGeneres is back to bring sweetness to the Oscars and Neil Patrick Harris has made the Tonys relevant to viewers that have never seen a Broadway show. It wasn't that long ago, however, that the wrong host for the wrong awards show has made for an uncomfortable audience both at home and in the auditorium. In fact, it was just last year. Here's a look at the five worst hosts to grace an awards show stage.
Seth MacFarlane, Academy Awards, 2013
The Family Guy creator made many actresses squirm in their seats as he sang a ditty about seeing their breasts on screen. McFarlane was perfectly willing to poke fun at himself. In one bit, a time-traveling William Shatner warns MacFarlane he'll be dubbed the worst host ever. It's hard to argue with Captain Kirk.
David Letterman, Academy Awards, 1995
The very things that have made Letterman a fixture of late night television -- his acerbic wit and panache for slightly off-kilter humor -- led to his downfall in front of the Hollywood elite. His repeating of Uma and Oprah, ostensibly to introduce Thurman to Winfrey, was painful. It was hard to tell who was more uncomfortable, Letterman or his audience.
Reality Show Hosts, Emmys, 2008
There was already a legitimizing of reality shows by the Emmys adding a category to honor the best host of one of the shows. Having the five nominees in the category actual serve as hosts for the broadcast, as it turns out, was one step too far. Tom Bergeron, Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Jeff Probst and Ryan Seacrest were so out of place and lost they could have been Amazing Race contestants.
James Franco and Anne Hathaway, Academy Awards, 2011
A studio could probably make a cute rom-com with Franco and Hathaway, even if they reportedly left their Oscar hosting night not on the best of terms. Unfortunately, there aren't multiple takes allowed to get things right on a live broadcast. Franco came across as stoned and Hathaway as over excited, and neither did young Hollywood any favors.
Chelsea Handler, MTV Video Music Awards, 2010
Handler seems like she would be the perfect fit to host what amounts to a big party, and claimed to stay sober for a week to get ready for it. The comedian, as expected, didn't straddle the line of good taste, but instead plowed through it with jokes that weren't merely off-color but downright offensive, even for the network of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom.
When Andy Samberg was announced as the winner of the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, there was a collective "Huh?" from the audience, both at home and in the auditorium. That reaction was doubled when Samberg's show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine took home the award for Best Television Show -- Comedy or Musical. Those surprised viewers apparently have not seen the show.
The freshman sitcom's ratings have been, at best, middling, but the comedy has risen well above average. While Samberg essentially does ... well, Andy Samberg, as a detective who has seen one too many movies about cops that don't play by the rules, it's the strength of the ensemble that has pushed the show beyond just being a place holder lead-in for New Girl.
Andre Braugher does a magnificent job playing off of the ultra-intense cop persona that he initially developed on Homicide: Life on the Street as Samberg's boss, an ultra-intense police captain who also happens to be gay. The gravitas that Braugher brings to the role keeps that from being a one-note joke, and instead sets him up as a near-perfect straight man. There could easily be a drinking game developed that puts to good use the number of times that Braugher just stares, unmoved, at Samberg's antics.
Equally welcome is the return of Joe Lo Truglio, late of The State, as a hopelessly optimistic and love-struck detective. The fact that his crush is on Stephanie Beatriz's mysterious Detective Diaz, who's both tougher and taller, gets used for standard comedic effect, but also allows the show a sweeter side that it might not otherwise have.
The rest of the cast is uniformly strong, whether that's Terry Crews' muscle-bound desk jockey, who's afraid to draw his gun yet has daughters named Cagney and Lacey, or Chelsea Peretti's bored and trouble-making secretary. Only Melissa Fumero as the go-getter foil to Samberg's slacker has hit some false notes, but the show's writers have left themselves plenty of wiggle room to find a more stable comedy rhythm with the character.
With a plum spot after Fox's broadcast of the Super Bowl -- an episode that will reunite Samberg with at least one of his old SNL cohorts, Fred Armisen -- Brooklyn Nine-Nine has a chance to parlay the Golden Globes statues into a breakout success. Informed television viewers, however, should get a head start prior to the big game and check it out now.