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Kerry Washington is going to be hosting Saturday Night Live on Nov. 2 and cast member Kenan Thompson thought it was the perfect time to lament the lack of black women playing regular roles on the show. The thing was, he didn't cast the blame on the people bringing in the talent, people like executive producer Lorne Michaels. During an interview, he said that it was the fact that weren't any good black female comedians.
The reaction was swift amid the Internet and Twitterverse. Aisha Tyler immediately branded him 'dumb' and even a fellow male cast member, Jay Pharoah was like, "Uh, dude, here's one. Her name's Damirra Brunson. Check it out."
It's true, there has been quite a dearth of black women on the show over the decades: the only ones I can think of are Ellen Cleghorne and Maya Rudolph. For all we know, Washington may have been brought in as a host to try to quiet the impending firestorm. Us, cynical? Never.
Another reason Thompson brought it up is because he wants to stop having to dress up for ladies' roles in skits as well. He's lucky that he didn't grow up in Ancient Greece...ALL female parts were played by men. Looks like Pharoah is going to be donning those outfits for the most part, from now on.
The thing is, there's a lot of competition for the parts on the show, but there's only so much of an ensemble that can be gathered. It would be great if there could be another black woman on the show, but I don't think Thompson is right for blaming the talent. It's a big world and there's only so many parts.
But I will be glad to see him out of drag. Maybe Washington might also want a side gig during Scandal hiatuses?
It's almost Halloween and that means we are in for at least one channel replaying a Halloween movie. If we're lucky, it'll be the John Carpenter version, not the Rob Zombie one. That sad thing is that the the fans destroyed what could have been a good horror franchise: They wanted Michael Myers back despite his becoming a trite bogeyman like Jason Vorhees of Friday the 13th and Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street in numerous sequels.
See, originally Carpenter planned to only feature Myers in Halloween 1 and 2 and then being a whole series of Halloweens that would feature a different story, starting with Halloween III: Season of the Witch, but the movie's poor performance and reviews made them decide to bring back Myers, which I thought was a poor idea.
When Halloween first came out, it was one of the first of its kind, with the silent, unstoppable Myers with that eerie white William Shatner mask (seriously, wouldn't you at least think "KHANNNNNN!" right before Myers killed you?) and the eerie soundtrack. When it originally ended (H20) and then was rebooted again by Zombie, it had become a laughingstock. People tended to laugh and hoot at scenes that were supposed to be scary and the fact that nothing short of a nuclear bomb could kill Myers made it farcical. It's a good thing that the Halloween/Friday the 13th crossover never happened, since it would still be going on after 332,402 hours of them taking whacks at each other.
Halloween could have been great if allowed to expand on its original idea after the third movie, but surrendering to the tired slasher trope, no matter what window dressing was applied to the outside, was just lazy. The producers could have pushed past the cookie-cutter mold, but that didn't happen here. Anytime a franchise, no matter how cliche, is sensed as possibly being created, they will run that idea into the ground before the public finally throws up their hands and say, "Enough!" Horror movies are especially guilty of that. I'm looking at you, Saw.
So, when I see the original Carpenter classic, I'll kick back, have a beer and wonder what could have been.
Time flies. It seems like it was just 1983. We were in our first term with Ronald Reagan as President. More often than not, I was standing in line at Tower Records to get a new cassette that had been released so I could play it on my tape player. It was a time when I was really getting into music and MTV was playing often at my home television. Now it's 30 years later and I have a home, a wife, a child and a mortgage. I still listen to a lot of this music though. Here's five of the best from that year:
To use some computer terms, this was Madonna Version 1.0. Now she's on Version 20.0, she's changed her image that often. People forget just what an influential force she was then. If you walked the streets of New York in 1983, you would have thought she had cloned herself about a million times over - nearly EVERY girl was imitating her style, particularly from her "Borderline" video. Forget the Rachel-hair style in the '90s, everyone was wearing the Madonna. Thank goodness people in the '90s didn't wear cone-shaped bras.
I wrote more at length about this one, but I still think it merits a place on here. Earlier Genesis fans may decry the more poppy sound (sorry, guys, that happened more around Duke). The first song, "Mama," was SUCH a dark one, with Phil Collins singing, screaming and maniacally laughing about a prostitute. Everybody remembers "That's All" and both parts of the "Home By The Sea" suite. This is where Genesis became HUGE, because they also embraced MTV. Collins , never afraid to do anything silly in front of the camera, used both his voice and charisma in videos of those first two songs as well as a not-so-p.c. video for "Illegal Alien."
The Police: Synchronicity
When I first played this album and heard "Sychronicity I"'s frantic keyboard opening and then Stewart Copeland's frenzied drumming, I knew I was going to love this album. It's one that I can listen to in its entirety today. Yes, I still like "Mother" and "Miss Grandenko," the singing and songwriting efforts of guitarist Andy Summers and Copeland. While "Every Breath You Take" is the song that everyone remembers, I'd have to say "Synchronicity II", with its video set in an apocalyptic wasteland, is my own favorite. It's a pity that Sting, Copeland and Summers really almost actively hated each other after touring with this album and subsequently split: I remember thinking around 1984 or '85: Whaddya mean there's not going to be another Police album?
Def Leppard: Pyromania
Yes, you just heard that opening twang of "Photograph" when you read this, didn't you? Another band that rode the wave on MTV's widespread reach with their cool if not somewhat cheesy video (in one song, Joe Elliot is carrying a sword even bigger than he is) Elliot's raspy voice is what sold it for many fans. While not as much of a total masterpiece like their follow-up, Hysteria, Pyromania had memorable songs like "Foolin"' and "Rock of Ages" And remember...Gunter Glieben Glauchen Globen.
Talking Heads: Speaking In Tongues
This was David Byrne in the big white suit, shimmying and swaying to songs like "Burning Down The House" and continuing the band's penchant for making REALLY weird videos. The first time I saw the end of "Burning Down The House," where the projection of Byrne's face rolls down the street, it weirded me out. Then I got past that and realized what a great album it was. Songs like "Making Flippy Floppy" and "Slippery People" kept me hooked. When coupled with the Stop Making Sense concert movie that was made the following year and it's just fantastic. It's a pity that they broke up eight short years later.
It was hard to constrain myself to five here - I could probably choose 50 of them if I had the time or space. There were plenty of bands that I left out, like Metallica and Eurythmics, just to name a couple. It was that good of a year. Your list may be different, so let us know below!
The list of nominees for the upcoming class of inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced and I was quite thrilled to see Daryl Hall and John Oates on that list of people.
I remember getting my first Hall and Oates tape in the mid- '80s. It was their greatest hits and their videos were on constant rotation on MTV: "Man Eater," "Adult Education," "Private Eyes," "One on One" (my own personal favorite - I always loved Hall's voice at the end of the song) and with each video, it seems like Hall's hair just got bigger and bigger. Then came my ultimate Hall and Oates experience: I got Big Bam Boom and I wore that tape out. From the opening part of "Dance On Your Knees" that sequed into "Out of Touch" to the end with "Possession Obsession," I could probably play that album in my head if need be. I even saw them in Madison Square Garden. Floor seats, baby.
The thing about the Rock Hall of Fame is that it is ridiculously subjective and political as to who gets in. You thought that sports shrines were argumentative enough, especially now with the whole performance-enhancing-drug era in baseball cloudiing matters even more. That's nothing compared to music. People can love what I listen to or shut it off in 30 seconds and declare it garbage. They can use criteria like Platinum Albums, awards, etc, but it's still subject to people's whims. At least with baseball, there's solid statistics. Not so with music. But still, hear my argument about Hall and Oates.
Theirs were some of the most soulful music even before that whole run in the '80s where they were probably the most famous duo of all time. But even if you cut out that decade, you still have an impressive array of songs from the '70s, including "Sara Smile," "She's Gone," "Rich Girl" and "Wait For Me." Hall should be inducted just on the sole basis of his own voice and Oates was a great showman too (his mustache rocked in the '70s and '80s). They belong. There's a crowded group of nominees, though, with Peter Gabriel, Nirvana, Kiss and Linda Rondstat also in the "How The Hell Haven't They Gotten In Yet?" crew.
If they don't make it and are passed over...well, I can't go for that.
For a couple of shows, Saturday Night Live has presented a strange conundrum - bringing in hosts who don't have any projects that they are not-so-subtly pushing. First it was Bruce Willis, who just apparently picked up the phone and said, "I wanna host SNL. Yeah, I know, it's been a dog's age since I did it, but hey, why not?" Then again, he's Bruce Freaking Willis, who still oozes tons of cool. He does have a ton of upcoming movies in 2014, including yes, yet ANOTHER Die Hard movie - Die Hardest. which could prove awkward for German translation when it plays overseas: "No, no, Mr. Willis is not entering the porn world. It's an action movie! No! Not THAT kind of action." But the audience was not aware of anything current.
Next is Edward Norton, who is probably smarting just a bit about being replaced by Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk. He's got nothing until 2014, but maybe he felt like stretching his comedy boundaries (two voiceover cameos on The Simpsons in 13 years DOESN'T count.) It just seems like an odd choice, especially since there are probably people who have upcoming work that could have hosted. Then again, he's a fantastic actor and he could blow the roof off with his comedic timing.
Here's a school of thought though - the show is relying on a LOT of young, new talent who are still feeling their way through the whole process and having two steady, professional hosts who are very familiar with acting, could help ease them through this transition. They had Tina Fey for the premiere, so it does make some sense in terms of guiding hands. Then again, they also ran the risk of having the new actors just be like, "OH MY GOD! IT'S BRUCE WILLIS! CAN I HAVE YOUR AUTOGRAPH!" all day long. Still, it looks like it's a good idea overall.
Let's have a look at who is coming up: Kerry Washington will be in full swing on Scandal, which started back in September. She'll be a nice addition for that night, a black woman on the show (more on that in another piece). Nothing after that has been announced, but it'll be interesting to see if this trend continues all season long.
White Collar returned with Neal Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) straddling the line between legitimacy and crime while his FBI handler, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), wavered between trust and cynicism of his charge.
The episode opened with Burke in prison after being framed at the end of the summer season. His wife (Tiffani Thiessen) was having a conversation with Caffrey and told him to do what he had to do to free him. Before he could, he was contacted by a mysterious person who turned out to be Curtis Hagen, whom Caffrey had put away in the first episode. After a bit of a chat, Hagen said that he could make the incarcerated FBI agent a free man. He acknowledged that he was the reason that the federal prosecutor was leaning so heavily on Burke, and then indicated that he could get him to let him go. In return, he asked Caffrey to do a quick 'smash and grab.' He added one more catch - get his father's confession on tape as the one who actually committed the shooting...even forge it if necessary.
Mozzie immediately jumped into the fray (well, as much as a geek who abhors physical activity can). He had also managed to crack Neil's tracking anklet. He got Caffrey to record a confession, using technology to make it sound like his fathers' voice. The plan worked and Burke was sprung. Burke believed that it was really Caffrey's father who called and he thanked him. Yet another layer of deceit between Caffrey and Burke, since Caffrey did nothing to dissuade the FBI agent. Hagen then called in his favor.
More intrigue: Burke got an offer from Boris McGiver (playing an unnamed higher-up) to become the head of White Collar. Always good to see McGiver when his character, Hersh, isn't getting his ass kicked on Person of Interest.
Hagen wanted Caffrey to get Welsh gold coins from a heavily guarded vault. What happened next involved some comedy with Mozzie wearing an awful wig and goatee, pretending to be a jumper. Caffrey played a fireman who was supposed to be rescuing him and got the building next to the vault evacuated. There were two sequences going on - Caffrey getting the coins and Mozzie finding out out that the suicide negotiator that was supposed to talk him down had even more insane conspiracy theories than he did.
Of course the plan went awry when an overzealous fireman probie made Caffrey hand over the oxygen tanks before he could steal away. It was White Collar 101: Thy most thought-through plan shall falleth through due to the most silly things ever. To make matters worse, the missing coins case was assigned to who? Three guesses.. OK. No. One guess. BURKE, of course. He asked Caffrey to consult, as well. Then of course, he tumbled on to the air tanks that Caffrey used to store the coins ('Why are there air tanks if there isn't a fire?"). Caffrey and Mozzie had to figure out how to save themselves and thwart Burke at the same time. They went to the firehouse and Caffrey got the coins out, but managed to stir Burke's suspicions.
The episode ended with Burke stepping down as Caffrey's handler, realizing that while he thought of Caffrey as a friend, he was still a criminal. He then gave him a new ankle braclet, much to Caffrey's chagrin. Oh, and Hagen revealed that he was really targeting Caffrey and had blackmail material on him from the job. His intention... get him paroled. Ah, White Collar, you and your twists. The plot is afoot and it's interesting that they would bring Hagen back after all this time and to expect many to remember what part he played in the pilot episode. Not all of us have been with the show from the start. But then again, Mark Sheppard is riding a much larger wave of recognition after all those seasons of playing Crowley on Supernatural. He's playing another demon in this show, one who is always making deals. It's going to be an interesting ride.
Meg Ryan, who has been semi-retired for a while, is coming to a network sitcom and the first question that springs to mind is: Can she regain her mojo? The next one is: Should we still care?
She was "America's Sweetheart" in the 1980s and '90s. Of course, we all remember the scene in When Harry Met Sally where she faked the orgasm in the diner. Then she was in such romantic comedies like Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. There was City of Angels, with Nic Cage and then...fewer and fewer appearances. The roles she took were for movies that really didn't stand out or do well in the box office.
When she was one of the queens of Hollywood, ger biggest weapon in grabbing our hearts then was making a scrunched-face and her bubbly personality. She was so pixie-like and we couldn't stop going to see movies that she starred in. The thing is, she's been away for many years, aside from her recent appearances on Showtime's Web Therapy with Lisa Kudrow (another '90s darling - hi!). In the entertainment business, if you spend more than a year out of the public consciousness, people tend to forget really fast.
Maybe Ryan is hoping that she can ride the wave that Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams recently began surfing and that our love for nostalgia will help make her popular again. She's going to have a lot of power and control of this sitcom, since she'll be executive producer. There's no title for it yet, but there's probably a good chance there will be some kind of wordplay on it. Maybe she's put in some calls to the agent of Hanks and Billy Crystal to see if they can make an appearance or two on it to grab some eyeballs.
Then our question will be: What time is this show on?
John C. McGinley is returning to sitcoms after a brief layover in drama-land, and I for one can't be happier. Even better: He's teaming up with Bill Lawrence, aka the creator behind Scrubs, where McGinley made his mark as the curmudgeonly Dr. Perry Cox. They say lightning can't strike twice, but I'm betting on it happening with this combination.
When it came to Scrubs, McGinley's Cox was the one that I paid attention to the most. He was grumpy, sarcastic and also quite demeaning to Zach Braff's John Dorian. That said, he could also be surprisingly tender and helpless under that gruff exterior. This part of him came into the most focus when his brother-in-law Ben died (Note, if you're spoiled on this by now, it's been nearly 10 years. It's streaming on Netflix. Season 3: "My Screw-up". Watch it. Great TV), where he just climbed into his shell and didn't get out for a long time.
After Braff, who was the show's main star, left after the eighth season, McGinley and Donald Faison both tried to save the show, but there was nothing left in the tank. Scrubs alumni have been popping around all over the place, with Sarah Chalke having her own show for a while and Faison finding new life on The Exes on TVLand. McGinley made a brief detour into drama land, playing the traitorous Tom Card on Burn Notice. Card wound up with a bullet hole in his head and after a stint on Broadway in Glengarry Glen Ross, comedy beckoned again for the veteran actor.
There's not a whole lot of information that I can see about Ground Floor, his new show, but he is playing the character of Mr. Mansfield, who is apparently an alpha male like Cox was, which is right up McGinley's wheelhouse.. If you think there's a chance that he won't rock on this show, I leave you with this immortal quote from Dr. Cox:
Recently, Charlie Hunnam backed out of the film adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey and it seems like there are two camps about it: those who think it was a smart move on his part and those that think he shot himself in the foot.
Hunnam is riding a wave of some popularity - he was one of the main stars in this summer's high-tech movie Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy is back on the air for its sixth season. He's in the limelight and is considered one of the up-and-coming young actors. While he claimed it was the workload of his TV schedule that caused it, some speculate that he was worried about the amount of sexuality in the movie - including some possible full frontal. That's kind of odd, because he skirts that line nearly every episode of Anarchy with some very naughty scenes.
The British-born actor, while happy to be famous to some degree, might have been very wary about being put under the magnifying glass like Robert Pattinson was for his work on Twilight. He would possibly be typecast... though how he could go from being solely known as badass biker Jackson Teller to this would be a bit of a leap. Especially since there is a very good chance Pacific Rim 2 will be made. He would still have a lot more options that Pattinson did - and having to appear a lot less sparkly.
The other line of thought is that this movie could damage someone who has already an established amount of credibility and would be better for actors who are hungry and ready for exposure (literally). It's one thing to doff your clothes on the small screen, it's entirely another to be in your birthday clothes on a giant screen in a movie theater. Hunnam might have worried about living that one down.
This could be a truly enduring movie, though, since it is based on such a huge bestseller and Hunnam could have been one of the world's biggest names out there had he gone through with the movie. Then again, just by putting his name out there and being initially cast, that's a lot of recognition right there. His name made the tabloids not once but twice, and he can now ignore the people who signed Internet petitions for him to be jettisoned.
However this all turns out, I have a feeling that Hunnam is going to come out on top. So to speak.
Every drama needs to have a villain. It's what creates friction for the protagonist. Some of the shows make the antagonist so horrible that they might as well be wearing a mustache that they twirl at every opportunity (see every single person Chuck Norris went up against in Walker, Texas Ranger). Justified's Boyd Crowder is no common villain. In fact, he might be the best one on TV or at least in the Top 5.
Walton Goggins is a force of nature when portraying Crowder. People take one look at him and dismiss as him as a country bumpkin, but there's a seething intellect burning behind those eyes. Crowder speaks eloquently and is prone to quoting from the most esoteric works. Not bad for a man who spent a good portion of his life working in a mine (that's how he knows Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens, the show's protagonist; they worked in the same mine). But for all Crowder's veneer of civility, there is a coldness to him, one where he will kill whoever stands in his way, with the same amount of thought given to squashing a bug. He can be laughing and smiling one minute and then be training his gun on you, his eyes dead.
The relationship between Crowder and Givens is partly what makes this show so fascinating. The two men are clearly on the opposite sides of the law, but hold each other in some regard, since both have come to each other's rescue more than once during the show's run. It's going to be fascinating to see what happens in the next season, with Crowder having a chance at a somewhat normal life ripped out from under his feet.
I'm no stranger to Goggins' work, having seen his turn next to Michael Chiklis on The Shield. In fact, one thing I lament is that there would never be a crossover on Breaking Bad. I'd be very curious to see what Crowder would think of Heisenberg.
Funny thing was, Crowder was supposed to die as he did in the short story, "Fire In The Hole," that inspired Justified. I'm glad that the showrunners decided against that.