Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Favorite Chimp -- Oliver the Humanzee

The Science Channel tonight repeats Humanzee, a fascinating and guaranteed-to-freak-you-out documentary from a few years ago about Oliver, the sideshow chimpanzee whose uncanny human-like behavior led many to believe him a mutant, or better yet, a human/chimp hybrid. Humanzee is one of those shows you’ll not soon forget.

What made Oliver so unusual? Well, in addition to a human-like nose and walking upright most the time, he was a pariah among other chimpanzees and preferred to live with his human owners, even going so far as to enjoy a nightcap before bedtime and helping with chores around the house. Not to mention that once he got to sexual maturity he started to put the moves on his owner’s wife…but you’ll find out more about that on the show.

Anybody who thought Zira had a little crush on astronaut Taylor in Planet of the Apes will no doubt sympathize with Oliver’s plight. It doesn’t get much more creepy/titillating than the possibility of humans breeding with chimpanzees, and even though chromosonal evidence came in suggesting that Oliver was merely -- but genuinely -- an incredible mutant (as least behaviorally), yet an ape after all, it still doesn’t make the story of this unusual and haunting creature any less compelling.

Humanzee airs at 9pm eastern time, and repeats several more times tonight and later (check the schedule here.) Oliver is a genuine celebrity in primate circles; there are lots of webpages with great Oliver information, including this sort of sensationalistic but terrific one from Rotten.com, the whole Oliver saga and his current situation in this great article, and then there's also this detailed version of his life. Oliver also has his own adorable and hilarious page on MySpace, written by someone who obviously knows his stuff and has a terrific sense of humor--be sure to check out Oliver's favorite movies!

For those of you who find this subject matter intriguing, the BBC did a fascinating miniseries in 1988 entitled First Born, which touched on some of the same scientific principles in Oliver's story. Starring Charles Dance (you may remember him from his villainous role as Mr. Tulkinghorn in the great production of Bleak House which ran on PBS a couple of years ago), First Born was about a scientist monkeying about with a human/gorilla hybrid experiment. It's just been released on DVD in the UK, and I'd highly recommend it.

There's just something special about Oliver and I think you'll agree after you watch Humanzee. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Bad Song Choices Buried the Girls!




How is it possible that with all the great songs that came out of the 70's, there were so few being showcased tonight? Really, the most awful night of song choices I can recall for any American Idol episode. Each one was more dull than the next. Only Brooke White managed to find a decent tune to sing (Carly Simon's "You're So Vain"), but she didn't do anything special with it.

Not one of the girls deserved more than 2.5 stars tonight. I'm putting Alexandrea, Ramiele and Carly Smithson at the top, not for their songs or performances, but because they are all incredible vocalists and will most certainly stay in the competition.

No bottom picks for tonight, because they rest all fall into a sort of lackluster heap.
Jeez, who picks these songs anyway? You'd think the producers would try to squeeze a few good ones in there. I hate Heart, and Celine Dion and the Bee Gees. All were sung poorly tonight.

Sorry ladies, this week goes to the American Idol guys. Next time have your moms and dads help with the song picks if you're too young to remember what was good in the decades before you were born!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Imagine This




Round two of the guy's night for American Idol, and the results were very different from last week. The theme was 70's music and the contestants had to reveal "something we don't know" about them in their intro. That did not help last week's Aussie eye candy Michael Johns, who's tennis hobby was enjoyable to watch but song tanked when he was first out of the gate. Following is the format for the remainder of the American Idol season on the Nose. My top picks, followed by my bottom picks and then special mentions, where they are applicable.

Top For the Night:
  • David A., (The Kid), was the final act of the night and he gets 4 stars from this blogger. One of the few song choices that really showcased a top artist from the 70's (John Lennon, for God's sake), his rendition of Imagine was stunning and pitch perfect. It is hard to believe he is only 17. Note to FOX- If you keep saving the best for last week after week, viewers will learn not to tune in at the beginning of the show.
  • David Cook (The Rocker), came out of the gate with the 70's classic "All Right Now" and I thought he hit it out of the park. I love his voice, he is the only true rocker in the bunch and (NOTE TO Simon) he is the smartest and wittiest of all the contestants so far. Much as I hate to depart from my lockstep agreement with Simon, tonight he was dead wrong. Cross word playing, word loving guys are sexy as hell. I'm going to have to assume that Simon's comments tonight were scripted, I can't believe he would come up with that blatant faux pas on his own. Go look that up online Simon (not that you're reading the Nose). I love this performer and think he is bound for glory. He could use a little help with his hair though.
  • Chikezie (The South Bay Wonder): OK, full disclosure...I am rooting for this guy as a fellow South Bay Los Angeles resident. Chikezie is a local singer from Inglewood CA, and I loved him from the start. He was unfairly dissed by Simon last week for his suit, which in retrospect was the perfect outfit for 60's retro-soul. This week he came back and really won the crowd over with a fantastic performance. He is immensely warm and likable, and his voice is tremendous. We love you and your Nigerian name, C! Let's hope that Simon figures out how to pronounce it before the season ends. PS-Your mom is cool too!
Bottom for the Night:
  • Luke: Please don't ever let someone do a Queen song again or the ghost of Eddie Mercury will come back and haunt this show forever
  • Robbie: Sang the song "Hot Blooded" with all the warmth of a gecko. A real gecko, not the Geico gecko, who is funny and adorable.
On The Fence:
  • I think Michael Johns had an off night and want to see him in his tennis shorts again
  • Ditto with Jason Castro, the dreadlocks dude. He has real talent and the bad song choice spiraled him tonight. He will do better with 80's and 90's alternative songs. Rock on guitar guy.
  • Special mention for Danny Norriega. I still think he might be this year's Sanjaya, and he tore many holes in a classic Carpenter's song tonight..but he is still so different and entertaining. I hope he sticks around. Also, he wins best outfit of the night...love the checkered Van's sweater and emo pants, dude.
OK American Idol ladies, it's show time! Let's see if you can hit a few notes out of the park and into the Kodak balcony tomorrow night.

Oscar After Thought

In retrospect, would also like to say that even though this year's Academy Award ceremony was excitement-challenged, I absolutely loved all 32 consecutive years of the previous telecasts. Yes, that's how long I've been watching it (sigh). So thanks for the memories ABC and we will start the countdown for next year hoping that the great groove for the Big O will return.

PS-Loved the Coen brothers win
PPS-Please bring back Ellen DeGeneres as host for next year!

The Most Boring O-Cast Ever! :(


This won't take long, as I don't really care to go on and on if I don't have anything nice to say. But it's time to state the shameful truth; this year's 80th Academy Award ceremony was the worst ever. It was slow. It was dull. It was boring. Jon Stewart was not a funny host, in spite of occasional chuckles from the crowd. Nobody wore a swan dress or a peacock hat, no streakers strutted their stuff in the buff , and no off the wall comments from anybody. It was polite, sedate and the TV equivalent of taking a Tylenol PM.
To ABC's credit, they really had a tough road to travel to this year's Oscars. The writer's strike made everything last minute. They only had 11 days to put the show together. The nominated films were almost uniformly dark, dreary and not box office winners. But put all that together, and it was still unforgivable to have not one...but three, count 'em, three magical Disney musical numbers for the movie Enchanted. All of them were outstanding opportunities for bathroom or telephone breaks. I mean really, didn't anybody learn anything since Snow White danced with Rob Lowe? They even spoofed it in this year's O's and then went and did the weird ball room dance number thing all over again.
You know the show was dull when the top topics for the evening for fellow bloggers, friends and sisters consisted of a) Is Javier Bardem short? and b) Does Josh Brolin have an inordinantly big head? and c) If Martin Scorcese's eyebrows were removed from his head would they be able to exist on their own?
For me, the Academy Award ceremony is the most important television show of the year. But this year it just became a colorful HD background while I flipped through the Sunday Times. It will be weeks before I recover from the disappointment!
Lisa had it right in her blog. The best thing about this year's Oscar ceremony was the thrilling animated open. After that, it went downhill fast. It is not any wonder that the ratings were the lowest ever recordered.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Opening Animation from the Oscars!

For cinema lovers, the opening CGI animation sequence from the Academy Awards last night was pretty thrilling, encompassing a myriad of iconic movie images in a headlong rushing montage down Hollywood streets. I was particularly amused by the plethora of monster footage -- I love a monster! -- but the whole thing was quite impressive and may have set a high point in excitement that the ceremonies didn't quite match, in my opinion. And miraculously, it's up on YouTube now and still hasn't been taken down by AMPAS, who were notoriously stingy about clip sharing last year and had everything posted taken down, post-haste. We'll see how long things stay up this year. (Update: AMPAS has a YouTube Oscar channel but there is nothing from last night's Awards up yet.)

Anyhow, here's that cool opening to enjoy again:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Oscar Day from the Flaming Nose!


The telecast for the 80th annual Academy Award ceremony is just hours away. I am making my final absolutions, for if there is anything that approaches a high holy day for movie lovers, this is it. It combines the best of motion pictures with the best night of live television, where literally anything can happen in front of a one billion plus global audience.

Every year I hope for another streaker or at least a Sacheen Littlefeather. Alas, in our post 9-11 world, security has lessened the chances for a grand blooper on live TV.

Here's to the fellow TV-Movie lovers among our 12 readers on the day of the Big O. May the force be with you, may you need a bigger boat and may you frankly give a damn. May you enjoy the Oscars with just us, the cameras, and all those wonderful people out there in the dark. And if you have to remember one word. Just one word. Let it be...."plastics".

Enjoy, everyone!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

In Honor of Tomorrow's Academy Awards Telecast --

The Flaming Nose presents the trailers for the five nominees for Best Picture:

Atonement



Juno



Michael Clayton



No Country For Old Men



There Will Be Blood

If You Love Movies....

Allow me to introduce a new blog written by one of the most qualified, enthusiastic, and entertaining film critics out there, my longtime friend and one-time colleague Dean Treadway. His new blog filmicability is just getting started, but the minute you read his stuff you'll be hooked. I've never read anything of Dean's without immediately wanting to go out and watch the movie; he's able to capture both the intellect and the passion behind loving movies.

Be sure to check out his choices for tomorrow night's Academy Awards; you won't find a more informed analysis.

Highly recommended! And a hearty welcome to the blogosphere, Dean!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Girls Night Out: American Idol Final 12







The ladies took the stage for the 2008 season of American Idol tonight, and they are absolutely incredible. Once again FOX saved some of the best acts for last. My only 4 star rating for the evening went to Syesha Mercado who did a huge, amazing rendition of Tobacco Road. Goose bump city. The camera loves her and she's very much at home on the stage. Asia'h Epperson was a close second with a powerful version of Joplin's "Piece of My Heart".

My number three pick at this early stage of the competition is Ramiele Malubay. She has an enormous voice for a tiny lady, and she absolutely owned her performance tonight. I knew Simon was going to love her. It's high time a Filipina-American made it all the way, they are some of the finest vocalists in the world.

I am in complete agreement with Simon on the last singer of the night. I don't get it. Not impressed at all with Carly Smithson. And if it is true that she already has a professional contract in Ireland, she should be disqualified.

Long shot and most interesting voice of the evening--definitely Amanda Overmeyer the dark haired rocker. Most original, funniest and she also gets the "Juno" award for best teen personality.

Finally, I'm still rooting for Kristy from Oregon. She got the jitters tonight and it ruined her heavenly voice, but I think she can still pull it out of the fire if she makes it through this week. And by the way, she sold her horse to get to the competition, can't we start a fund so she can buy it back!

Stay tuned Flaming Nose-ites, this is just the beginning. So far this season (guys and girls) has the best vocalists and most orginal performers yet.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

And They're Off..American Idol Finalists 2008-The Guys





Tonight heralded the official start of the American Idol season, with the 12 male finalists performing songs from the "60's" in a two hour episode on FOX. As someone who has followed this immensely successful television program from the beginning, it is no longer surprising to see that the most amazing acts are generally saved for the end of the two hour marathon. The last two acts definitely had the most potential for going all the way. Jason Castro, the dreadlocked blond with the guitar, had authenticity and an original sound. But the last act, Michael Johns, who (and who are we fooling here) hails from Georgia but sounds like he's more UK or AU down under, was the only true 4 star performance of the night. A baritone in the Jim Morrison vein this guy actually managed to sing a Doors song and not mess it up. Of course no one will believe me now, but I've been saying since the beginning that the first AI contestant to try pulling off a Lizard King Jim Morrison Mojo would be an absolute winner from day one. Looks like we have a contender here, and I rest my case.
Other interesting acts included long shot David Cook who sang "Happy Together". He's genuine, a true mid-west rocker and has a powerful voice. I hope he makes it. Likewise to Chekeizie the Inglewood California R&B dude who sang one of my all time fav songs "More Today Than Yesterday". Not sure about his red suit, but I love his voice.

Finally, let's all hold hands and agree that Danny Noriega is this year's Sanjaya. Better get used to him folks, the tweens will vote heavy for this one! What is it about 12 year old girls and their grandmothers that love light and fluffy singers so much? They sure can dial fast though, so watch for Danny to score high even though the judges were not wowed.

PS-Please note one new great interactive feature this year. After watching the episodes on FOX, you can download the video of your favorite contender on iTunes. Very cool option. Some of these people won't make it, but they will give unforgettable performances all the same. Now there is a chance to capture those moments on iTunes, if you're interested.


Monday, February 18, 2008

"Dexter" on CBS No Killer in the Ratings, but...

Did you watch the expurgated Dexter on CBS Sunday night? If you didn't know the original, I'm not sure you would have missed the earthier dialogue or shots. It cleaned up well, but the one thing I found that set it apart (and obviously so) was Dexter's structure. It wasn't meant to be chopped into multi-segments and doesn't have that familiar TV rhythm that sets you up for the commercial breaks, but that's not a fatal flaw. It just feels different...good, actually.

Most importantly, to Dexter's credit, it lacks all the fake melodrama that permeates most of network TV drama. It's a breath of fresh air -- well, as fresh as the breath of a serial killer, anyway.

In terms of ratings, NBC's new version of Knight Rider (god help us) won the 10pm hour, with Dexter coming in close behind ABC's Brothers and Sisters. Not a smash for Dexter, but not bad. Not bad at all. I'm sure one of our ratings experts here will be able to tell what the numbers meant in sheer audience figures, which will be fascinating to compare in light of Showtime's limited cable reach vs. CBS's broadcast ubiquity.

How Right Wing Radio Is Trying to Make Sure the Next US President is a Democrat





Since past Flaming Nose posts have included comments about books, movies and the Internet, I will now allow another form of media to enter into the hallowed records of this television blog. The pictures above are the big tip-off, I'm talking about talk radio. To live in 21st century America these days is to be trapped endlessly in a chapter of "Alice in Wonderland". Things just get "curiouser and curiouser". While most moderate Republicans have chosen John McCain as their presumptive Presidential candidate; a small cabal of bitter and self serving radio talk show hosts have decided to vehemently disagree. One (Ann Coulter) has squealed that she will go work for Hillary if McCain is the Republican candidate. Another (Rush Limbaugh) has trumpeted that he won't vote at all if McCain gets in. I could care less if this dirigible OxyContin addict decides to throw his own constitutional privilege in the trash, but the fact that he will lead millions of lemming like followers to do the same is criminal. Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter are both lock-step against McCain in their stiletto heeled jack boots. May I be the first to point out that it's a good thing these two are radio stars, because it is nearly impossible to tell them apart visually. They are both long faced bottle blonds with enormous teeth. In the auditory world of radio, Ann is the one with the fake northeastern Brahmin affectation, and Laura has the whiny California girl nasal twang.

Why do they hate McCain so much? Why? It has been said that even the revered Reagan himself could not stand the cult-like scrutiny of the extreme far right these days.

But the American people know better. They are moderate to the core and generally shun both the far left and the far right. Thus, these talk radio hosts, who have for years wailed about the "elitist liberal press", have now become similarly out of touch with the majority of America. A small, sad elite group of their own, determined to destroy the party of Lincoln. Guess what's going to happen next, guys? You can kiss your ratings goodbye. And that's all you've ever cared about anyway...not ideals, not people and certainly not this country. I don't care if I'm caught in the Mother of all California traffic jams, I'll blow up my radio before I ever listen to another word from this traitorous gang of four.



Sunday, February 17, 2008

CBS Editing of "Dexter"

Fans of Showtime's Dexter, the first season of which premieres on CBS tonight at 10pm, might be interested in this article from the Los Angeles Times about the process of cutting our favorite series down to size for broadcast TV.

I will miss the freewheeling and skillful profanity, but if new viewers are intrigued enough by the series at least they can check out the DVDs of Dexter Season One for the unexpurgated original version.

Though there's some chatter about the sheer inappropriateness of network TV featuring a series where the protagonist is a serial killer, I'm not sure it's that much worse than CBS' (and other nets) current roster of procedural crime shows which are essentially morgue porn for Middle America. All that, and lame dialogue, too.

Anyway, good luck to Dexter tonight! Even neutered, Dexter rocks!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Authentic Experience -- "Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey"


You know how you just happen onto something and you wonder "How the hell did I miss this?" Well, it's happened to me again, with a documentary that I caught on Showtime Extreme movie channel.

Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey is the story of Jeff Key, a man from religious Alabama, who became a Marine, served in Iraq and was proud to do so, became disillusioned and saddened there, and ultimately came out as gay man and left the service. He's also a playwright and monologuist.

This sounds like a movie with a mission, big-time, but despite the high expectations of being beaten around the head by ideology with which some may not agree, I found Semper Fi to be thoughtful, intelligent, and a must-see. Even the most rah-rah citizens must agree that the mission in Iraq hasn't been all that it was cracked up to be, and seeing it throught the eyes of an eloquent participant is indeed enlightening and sobering.

The doc premiered on Showtime back in the middle of last year -- where was I? -- but it's showing again this month on Showtime Extreme and I recommend you catch it.

Visit the official movie site of Semper Fi: One Marine's Journey for background information. You might also like to read this review from The Hollywood Reporter.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Don't Forget -- "Dexter" on CBS this Sunday!


Indiana Jones is Back!

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, here's the first actual trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie coming out this May. Yes, The Flaming Nose has been enamored of Indy and his adventures since the very beginning and we can't wait for this one! Enjoy!




Be sure to visit the Official Indiana Jones Site for all sorts of goodies!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Even Vulcans Need Love!


Happy Valentine's Day from The Flaming Nose

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"New Adventures of Old Christine" -- Episodes not on CBS.com?

I wrote yesterday about this clever sitcom, and am shocked today to discover that CBS doesn't offer full episodes of the show on its website. What's up with that? My goodness, get with the program, as it were, guys!

This is a terrific series that needs more exposure. Short clips just aren't going to do it anymore to hook new viewers. Give us full episodes! As Jane commented to my posting, she has only managed to run into the show while she's on a plane, but I'm sure if it were online, she'd take a look. So would others. It's the way of the world nowadays.

Particularly with a show like this, which has been scheduled on and off, you've just got to assume most viewers haven't been able to figure out when it's on to sample. CBS, do you want people to watch The New Adventures of Old Christine, or don't you?

CBS is doing a real disservice to the series by not having full episodes to view. Big disappointment. It's not enough to just recommend that someone watch a show; what makes the different is being able to point to a website where they can immediately watch it.

ABC has the right idea, with generous servings of its series online.

That's just my little rant for today.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Roy Scheider-The Curtain Closes



We would like to spend a moment to mark the demise of the great actor Roy Scheider, who died Sunday at the age of 75. For those who care about little details, Mr. Scheider was born in New Jersey on November 10, 1932. Probably best known (and loved by this Nose blogger) as Chief Brody in the now legendary movie "Jaws", Scheider had a rich, colorful and enormously accomplished list of memorable parts, many of which led to lines which have entered the American fabric of speech. His role as the manic stage producer in Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz" rendered an Academy Award nomination, and spawned the line, "It's Showtime!". His absolutely unforgettable line in "Jaws", is still used in every day speech when people need a way to describe a terrible underestimation of size. I'm going to have to use that line now to say goodbye to a great American actor, and I hope he'll forgive me. We're "going to need a bigger boat" to fit the sorrow that we feel at your passing, Roy Scheider. Farewell to one of the giants.


Liking -- Mostly -- "The New Adventures of Old Christine"

Does anybody else like Julia Louis-Dreyfus in her recently-returned-for-a-third-season comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine? For one thing, it's good to have a Seinfeld alumnus with a hit, so props to Ms. Dreyfus for pulling that off, and for getting the Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy at the 2006 ceremony.

There have been a lot of things to like about the show since it began, especially Andy Richter's appearances a while back as a sad sack boyfriend, the acerbic and intensely likeable Wanda Sykes as JL-D's colleague, and the loopy and lovable Hamish Linklater (pictured with JL-D) as her brother Matthew (my favorite character). Back this season as Christine's handsome boyfriend is the charming and talented Blair Underwood, and her qualms about dating a man so impossibly gorgeous are at the heart of a lot of great material on TNAoOC. The entire cast is crisp and competent and frequently funny, from Richard Gregg as Christine's ex-husband, to the trio of ladies -- Emily Rutherfurd, Alex Kapp Horner, and Tricia O'Kelly -- who play, respectively, Christine's husband's new girlfriend also named Christine, and the two "mean mommies" who bedevil old Christine whenever she visits her son's school.

Though The New Adventures of Old Christine is consistently funny, I occasionally feel a little bit of an "ick" factor with some of the humor, always related to a sexual joke. I am, as friends will attest, one of the least prudish people in terms of what I think is funny, but I wonder if it's the presence of a kid on the show that bugs me in terms of the sexual content? (I feel the same way about Two and a Half Men, which I think goes beyond ick into smarmy.) This is definitely adult comedy. Even with the occasional fleeting off moment (for me, anyway), the show always delivers smart and often delightfully absurd comedy, thanks particularly to Julia and her great gift for dialogue along with her considerable ease with physical comedy. As a woman of a certain age (she just turned 47 about a month ago), Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Christine has a whole menu of insecurities to explore, and while the occasional pointed barb is accurately flung, more often than not it's pure comedy that makes this one click.

You have to give kudos to the cast and creative crew behind this one, and to CBS for bringing it back. Along with the popular How I Met Your Mother and my favorite The Big Bang Theory (which is on hiatus right now and boy do I hope it's gonna make the cut for a second season!), Monday nights on CBS are a haven for sophisticated comedy on a par with NBC's Thursday night. How bad can things be when you've got Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tina Fey representing TV comedy? Lucy and Ethel would be proud.

Check out the website for The New Adventures of Old Christine at CBS. The show airs Monday nights at 9:30pm. And here's a nice article about TNAoOC co-creator Kari Lizer! Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

No Reservations--It's Not About the Food


Who is the sexiest guy on TV? Is it Matthew Fox, the conflicted leader from LOST? Is it one of those McDreamy doctors on Grey's Anatomy? Some folks would even say American Idol's acid tongued Simon Cowell should be a front runner (me!).

Wrong to all of the above. The sexiest man on TV is Anthony Bourdain, who hosts "No Reservations" on The Travel Channel, Monday nights at 10pm.
He smokes, he drinks, he's got a thick New York brogue and he'll eat almost anything. Mr. Bourdain is part of a new genre of food reality programming, which I call "Adventure Eating". It's not so much about great restaurants and fine dining as it is about scary cuisine and off the beaten track cafes from around the world that you would only go to on a dare. On a good night you might find Anthony hoisting a pint in a Northern Ireland Pub. On another kind of night, he'll be in a Russian sauna, steaming himself like an onion before jumping into a black icy pond clad only in his underpants. That was actually a good night for moi.

Most of the characters on TV today look too fake and squeaky, no matter how carefully they grow their three day scruffy partial beards. They all look like they've just been removed from a zip lock bag with tweezers, and they probably carry tiny bottles of hand sanitizer in their pockets. Anthony Bourdain has an old school rugged look that is rare and therefore immensely appealing . He'll down shots of Vodka with the locals. He'll swallow a big nasty smoked meat pie. And, unlike Cal Worthington, he really will eat a bug. I read somewhere recently that he quit smoking, but you can still see him puffing away like an iconic classic movie star in the older episodes. He's not the only Food Hottie on TV (Bobby Flay and the Naked Chef come to mind), but for my money he is the best. Watch No Reservations, and feast your eyes!


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Six Degrees of National Geographic


Is it just me, or is it hot in here? Fans of real life doomsday scenarios -- and there are plenty of us out there -- will be enticed and enlightened by the new two-hour special premiering tomorrow night on National Geographic Channel called Six Degrees Could Change the World (properly written as in the above title art).

Based on the book of the same name by Marc Lynas, it's a sobering (as if any of us are still whoopee tipsy at the prospect of our global future) look at what's in store, theoretically, if the Earth's temperature rises by any number of degrees. Each degree rise brings its own set of horrors, as you'll find out when watch the special.

Six Degrees Could Change the World airs tomorrow night, Sunday, Feb. 10th, at 8pm, and encores at 10p and 12m, with other airdates also schedules. For a wonderful preview of the special plus extra features and background info, check out Nat Geo's wonderful website for the special and plan on spending some time exploring. This is the kind of TV that's not only good for you, but is good TV, exciting, riveting and absolutely essential viewing. Don't miss it!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Jericho: The Return





For all those Jericho fans out there, and I am one of those, the wait is over. On February 12th at 10pm et/pt the eagerly awaited Season 2 of Jericho begins. Although only 7 episodes have been made (thankfully before the writer's strike), there would not be any if not for the efforts of the fans. The key word was NUTS, uttered by Jake in the last episode of Season 1, and that is what CBS got from the fans, tons and tons of nuts, or precisely, peanuts. A save Jericho movement started by Nuts for Jericho got enough fan support to send over 20 tons of peanuts to persuade the PTB to give us 7 more episodes. You can read a little more background about the cancellation and revival in this L.A. Times article.

For those who know nothing about Jericho and are intrigued by the fan fervor it developed, here are a few places to get you caught up with the rest of us. A good place to start is CBS where you can find everything from recaps from Season 1, promos of Season 2, fan blogs, photo galleries and most importantly full episodes of Season 1. You might also want to check out CBS' Official Fan Community . Jericho Season 1 is available on DVD and those of you with the Universal HD channel can watch the entire 22 episodes of Season 1 in full HD splendor starting Saturday 7 pm pt/10 pm et.

What initially interested me in Jericho was of course the nuclear bomb. I am a sucker for disasters of any kind; earthquakes, volcanoes, meteors, floods, you name it, I love them. But what kept me coming back were the characters and the complex plot lines. And the fact that one of the characters had a nuclear bomb buried in his basement kept the disaster theme firmly in place. Jericho is not like the usual post apocalyptic themed movie. There are no people running around in rags, no spike haired motorcycle mad men and no bomb worshiping mutants. What you will find are down to earth people trying to cope with the loss of electricity, food, communication with the outside world and basically everything they have taken for granted. This is a situation that you could conceivably find yourself in someday (hopefully not!), and that makes it something that you can relate to on a very basic level.

"Lost" + Me = Clueless

Though I love Lost, I am completely confused and already hopelessly hornswoggled only two episodes into the season...which is probably exactly the intention. Congratulations!

I will only advise others in my same predicament to take a look at ABC's extensive Lost web presence, and I'll also recommend The Lost Blog which dissects each episodes and attempts to divine the truth within. Of course there are countless outher Lost fansites out there, so those of not in the know have plenty of resources to help us crawl towards the light. And don't forget that ABC has all the previous episodes available for viewing online, too!

Others at The Flaming Nose have better kept up with the intricacies of the show than I, but through the web, there is hope for all of us! (I just thought it was time that I declare my ignorance and get on with it.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Nose-talgia: A Roundabout Way of Celebrating Chinese New Year

In that convoluted way that surfing the internet often begets amazing serendipitous connections, I found a charming, wonderful clip on YouTube of little eight-year-old Angela Cartwright singing "I Enjoy Being a Girl" on the Oct. 30, 1960 episode of the Dinah Shore Chevy Show.

How does this relate to Chinese New Year, some of you might ask? Well, the song is from the Rodgers and Hammerstein San Francisco's Chinatown-set musical Flower Drum Song. You might remember it from the 1961 movie version or perhaps the more recent stage revival in NY or L.A..

At the time of the show, Angela was co-starring in Danny Thomas' sitcom Make Room for Daddy, and would go on to become TFN's favorite spacegirl on Lost in Space.

I'm not normally a fan of little kids doing tremendously cute things, but I have to admit, Angela is just adorable here. (Let's not even start on the whole way-dated feminine dynamic of the song, ok? It was a different time, and how!)

Enjoy! Oh, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Riding off into Sunset Blvd



Our Flaming Nose correspondent Lisa reported earlier today that the old Hollywood Warner Bros. lot, home of KTLA-TV for decades, has been sold. This has made me very sad, for I too am one of the Nose contributors who spent a few years in the hallowed halls of the first television station west of the Mississippi.

I landed an entry level job at KTLA, about 45 minutes after graduating from college. The first time the guards at the gate let me onto the lot, I felt like I was walking on air. Hollywood....television....ratings...news trucks! I was still young enough to believe that if you worked extra hard in show biz and had a sense of humor, anything could happen. Local broadcast television in the 80's was a carnival, the last days of Rome. There was no email, no competition from cable or the Internet, nobody worked more than 30 hours a week and every Friday the sales staff went to a liquid lunch at some posh Hollywood restaurant and never quite made it back to the office. Advertising money fell from the trees. All you needed was a big bucket to scoop it up.

As Lisa pointed out, we actually had time to take breaks in those days, and exploring the KTLA (Warner Bros) campus was our most adventurous lunch time excursion. I still want to know what's hidden in the big tunnel that runs all the way under the lot from KTLA to the KMPC radio station on Sunset. It was already bricked up when we worked there. I hope the new owners don't demolish it before finding out.

Farewell to our old stomping grounds and the memory of KTLA. It was a huge part of Hollywood history and a major part of this Flaming Nose blogger's early days in television. We will always remember Johnny Grant, Hal Fishman the news anchor and the best Rose Parade coverage in the nation. Maybe the ghost of Singing Cowboy Gene Autry (who used to own KTLA) will be crooning "The Last Round Up" as the wrecking ball falls.

The Old Stomping Grounds Are Sold!

Several Flaming Nose correspondents have roots at the KTLA studio lot, which had been up for sale by Tribune as a consequence of that company's recent sale to Sam Zell. The transaction was completed a few days ago, and you can read about it here. There's quite a bit of nostalgia in that square block, not only for Hollywood history in general but also for the folks here at TFN.

Back when we worked there (and we're talking circa 1980), there were still fascinating traces of its origins as the original Warner Brothers studio lot: historic glass-sided stages to capture the sunlight for filming, other stages with dressing rooms supposedly used by John Barrymore and his co-stars back in the silent days, one end of the building where classic WB cartoons had been crafted. We were also aware that the powers that be were always renovating, and that any of these amazing spaces could disappear at any moment (and eventually they did).

Always intrepid and interested in history, several of us used to regularly poke around the lot, venturing into closed-off spaces, exploring abandoned offices and mysterious bricked-up tunnels (intriguingly labeled "The Organ Blower"*See Below! -- our favorite find!). We also undertook a bold expedition to the grand former KMPC building across the lot. Formerly home to a bowling alley, on the walls we found extant scribbles and autographs from "pin boys" who worked there long ago. We had wonderful fun, and I just wish we had taken cameras along. Many a lunch hour was spent doing our studio spelunking. Those indeed were the days!

Even a place that drenched in history ultimately becomes mere real estate, but at least it stands now and for that we celebrate it and our fortunate connection to it!
*New info about the "Organ Blower" as follows: "In October 1983, the "Kearns" theatre organ was purchased, one of only three of its kind, and one of the top-of-the-line instruments manufactured by the WurliTzer Company. The organ was originally built for Warner Brothers Vitaphone Company and installed in its Sunset Boulevard Studio in 1929. From here, it was moved to Radio Station KMX, a CBS unit, where it was used daily to play the "Amos ‘n' Andy Show" theme song. In 1955, the late Hollywood actor Joseph Kearns (best known as Mr. Wilson on TV's "Dennis the Menace") bought it and actually built his entire home around it."
So it really was an "organ blower" which is part of the mechanism for a pipe organ! The tunnel was partially bricked up, making it even more creepy! This info comes from the website for the Mansfield Ohio Theatre which now hosts the magnificent organ!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Puppy Bowl IV




For the 5% of America that will not be watching today's Super Bowl football game, here is the weirdest and most adorable programming alternative. It's PUPPY BOWL IV on Animal Planet! Many fat and colorful puppies stumble about on a little simulated (presumably washable plastic) football field. There are no rules. There isn't even a football, just some chew toys and a few deadpan human "referees". Check out the cool "water bowl cam" with paw and snout close ups from underneath the see through water dish. Don't miss the star studded Kitten All Star Half Time Show. Not quite as much action as Puppy Bowl unless someone throws a catnip mouse onto the field, but the purrformances are always pawsome.

Be sure to go to the Animal Planet website where you can vote for "MVP", (most valuable puppy). Thank you Animal Planet, for this annual fluffy treat!

LOST....In the Supermarket


I was pushing my cart through the aisles of Ralph's supermarket yesterday, searching frantically for paper plates. Somewhere between frozen food and hot dogs, I was distracted by a towering organic milk display. I reached out to grab a carton and tumbled through a space-time corridor. That roaring, airplane noise in my head made me realize before I even opened my eyes, that I was back. On the island. Nothing made any sense whatsoever and I didn't care a bit.

It doesn't matter that Hurley is now sometimes in a mental hospital. Whatever. We are not distressed that Charlie is a ghost. Lot's of excellent series have ghost characters these days. The dips, the dives, the about faces...the non-linear gorgeous mess that makes up the inexplicable plot line of Lost does not bother us in the slightest. The waves are lapping and new alliances are forming . Is John a bad guy or a good guy? Are all the bad guys good guys? Are some of the good guys, bad guys? And does it really matter after Hurley does a cannonball?

All hail the return of LOST.

It's the most maddening, engaging, stimulating yet soothing television show on earth. Many LOST fans spend hours spawning intricate theories on "what it all means". These are people who like math and Sudoku. The whole point of LOST is for it to never make sense. Blue water, white sand and a sweaty Sawyer strutting around without a shirt is what it's all about. Sun and Jin's baby, Charlie's heroism, Ben's pale evil eyes and the endless unrequited dance between Jack and Kate is the glue that holds it all together. This is a character series, plain and simple. Well maybe not simple. We LOVE the characters. Plot, action and advancing story lines are all secondary.

It sounds like a plane crashing in aisle #3. I look down and the paper plates are in my cart, nestled between some frozen pizzas and a bottle of ocean blue Windex. How did they get there? Doesn't matter. I'll be back on the island again in a nanosecond, and all will be right with the world.