Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New York Times Cracks the Abdul Gaffe Code!

NYT is the first news outlet I've seen on line to break the news of what happened, with more of an explanation from Paula herself.
Click here to link to the article: NY Times Get's The Paula Story

New Paula Theories


And to think I commented to my co-workers this week how Paula has sailed through three fourths of this season with some sense of normalcy.

Ok, to save you some time, a recap of what happened. Seacrest threw an impromptu "thoughts on the first round" to the judges. Paula was freaked out and judged Jason Castro's second performance, which he had yet to perform! So what happened, Paula?

If you scroll down to the two preceding posts, you will see Jane and my theories. Jane suspected the broadcast wasn't really live. I proposed that Paula had to scribble all her notes quickly and then thought Cook's notes were about Jason's second song.

Here are two new theories. First, many fans now suspect the shows are scripted, and that Paula jumped the gun. Randy said "just the first one Paula" which was more of a script correction than a "what are you talking about" exclamation. Could be true. The other was proposed by Dorothy Lucie this morning on "Good Day LA." She thought that Paula and the other judges already saw the full rehearsals, and that she had already formed an opinion.

I am now combining the rushed notes/rehearsal theories... her notes confused her, she saw the rehearsals, and she flaked out. It would explain why she had specific comments about the second performance. She really did see it - in rehearsals! One wrinkle in the notes theory: her comments about Cook were glowing, but her comments about Castro's "2nd song" were not. Perhaps that was just the only excuse she could come up with on the spot. I'm still 50-50 about it being scripted and/or not live. Perhaps it's partially scripted with room for ad libs.

The next time fans demonize Simon, they should realize that he displayed a professional - even a nice side last night. At the height of the awkward and befuddling moment when Paula was trying to explain herself, Simon took the ball and simply asked her something like "who were your favorites" He totally got her out of it, and the show back on track, quite graciously.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

DWTS + AI = SUPER TUESDAY

Ok, two posts for the price of one tonight. “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Idol” combined. Why clutter up a blog when I can cover “Super Tuesday” in one fell swoop? After all, AI managed to squish two hours into one, leaving us all out of breath. It was truly a great night of television. Comparing and contrasting, I’ve decided that the contestants, on the whole, did okay, but I was totally distracted by the judges on both shows tonight.



First, the Paula thing. If you watched, you know what I’m referring to. If you didn’t, you’ll be clued in at the water cooler. Or just read Jane's post below. At first I was absolutely confused. I thought my DVR jumped ahead and I missed a bunch of second round performances. Thank goodness Randy Jackson finally jumped in to clear things up. I will come to Miss Abdul’s defense here. The judges were clearly rushed out of their scoring comfort zone, and if you go back and listen to what Paula said, she made sense. Kind of. She claimed she was looking at her comments about David Cook’s first performance (he followed Jason Castro), but mistook them for notes about Castro’s second performance. Paula wasn’t actually recalling the performances in her head - she was simply going off her disorganized notes. And if you’ve ever seen her reality show, “Hey Paula,” you would understand! One thing’s for sure, she’s a trip.


Over on DWTS, I noticed a little something that Carrie-Ann Anaba does when Len & Bruno go at it. She sits there twirling her hair. It must be an awkward moment-nervous habit sort of thing. I never noticed it before, but tonight when they played back some highlights from last night, I took my eye off the Bruno-Len frackus (which is starting to get old) and scanned left, only to find Carrie-Ann twirling and twirling. Wow, her fingers get a 10!

As for the performers, I’m kind of glad Christian De La Fuente is safe on DWTS. I’m so curious to see how he’ll dance with just one functioning arm. He made a solid point about Marlee Matlin’s dancing achievement, despite her disability. Back at AI, “Archie” was solid but I’m really off that bandwagon. You know how I feel about “Cookie.” You don’t? I think David Cook has already won this. Even if he’s number two when it's over, he’s got a solid career waiting for him. That said, I must say I loved him tonight, but I do agree with the judges and some critics that his second song was stronger than his first (which was still excellent). Despite some other good performances tonight, it’s clear that the other competitors don’t have what it takes to go all the way. It will be David vs. David, and it’s time for Jason Castro to go home.

Today's bonus: A look at Cookie, age 18, with his former band members:

Axium members David Cook, Bobby Kerr and Jeff Shrout in 2001
Photo: Bobby Kerr/AXIUM

Crazy and Wonderful Blooper Night on American Idol



A night that could have been quite predictable with guest artist Neil Diamond actually turned into quite weird and wonderful TV when one of the judges (Paula) got discombobulated and started talking about things that the viewers had not seen yet. Yes Virgina, there really is a Santa Claus. But no, America, this program really is not live as we could see tonight if we were paying attention. The five finalists each had to do two songs; the judges were to review them after all songs were done towards the end. Paula jumped the gun and reviewed both songs for one of the contestants, before they had even sung their second round. I thought it was charming, and loved seeing the 4th wall broken on event television. Obviously FOX loved it too, because it was not edited out.

So what happened? Here is my ranking after tonight:

#5--Jason. Pretty and nice but not enough to compete as a finalist
#4--Brooke. Renditions of Neil Simon songs were surreal in their inappropriateness for a major TV competition. Brooke would be perfect at a children's birthday party singing "I'm a Believer". But Barney the Dinosaur would be better. And the Monkees would be best of all.
#3--Syesha-I don't care what Simon says (and I am usually lock-step in agreement) but he is all wrong about this lady. She has major Broadway star quality. Send her straight to Times Square and the Tony's about 2 years from now.
#2--David A.--The kid really pulled it out of the fire tonight with "Going to America". Beautiful, patriotic, and the audience loved it. He's got something. I'm still not quite sure what, and it's getting down to the wire. Keeps me coming back for more.
#1--David Cook, of course--What a surprise. Just when you think he can't possibly take it up a notch again, he does it. His rendition of little known Neil Diamond song, "All I Really Need is You", was stunning and I've posted it above. Ready to become a hit right this moment. Neil, get ready to get some residuals from a song you thought was dead. Note to Jane, head over to iTunes and get this song on your iPod immediately so help soften the commute into L.A. tomorrow morning.

That's all, folks! Well done, for a wild and unexpected night, American Idol!

"We Work Hard, We Play Harder"-Carrier Episode Two


Full disclosure and correction on my previous Carrier blog about how the episodes are being aired for Carrier. In fact (1000 mea culpas for this folks) PBS is airing all 10 one hour episodes this week in two hour increments every night, now through Thursday. And (of course...sigh) they are offering the whole series at once on DVD for $39. See their website for details.

Please do not let my incorrect air time information prevent you from trying to tune in to any or all of this magnificent program. The second episode focuses on the Marine and Naval aviators, as well as their escapades and back stories. It is all riveting and beautifully filmed. Go to their website for more info, and try to catch it while you can, in any way you can. Go Navy!

Larry Brown is Coaching Charlotte





Larry Brown is coaching again, at his ninth NBA stop and in his fourth decade. History tells us he is bound to butt heads with Michael Jordan, the manager of basketball operations for Charlotte. The Bobcats are a very young team , Charlotte has been building up their franchise since 2005 when the franchise was created. This team will not exactly be able to contend for a playoff spot in the next year or two. Brown at age 66 will not be under the spotlight as much as he was before coaching New York in the 2006 season which turned out to be a complete failure. Even so, Brown now will truly be tested on how fast and how well he can turn this young inexperienced team into an athletic playoff team. We will see how well Brown can incorporate his blue collar tough defense work ethic into a young group of players who are mostly concentrated on scoring. Contract Negotiations have not yet been announced. All NBA games are airing on TNT and ESPN.

Dancing Drama!



Such drama in tonight's "Dancing With the Stars." Before you read any further, a spoiler alert!

Christain "be still my heart" De La Fuente had a bizarre injury. I hate to see a grown hunk cry. He's not out yet-he could get the sympathy vote.

Meanwhile, Jason Miller made the comeback of the year. Smart man-he danced to a familiar tune.

I think Bruno and Len will get into a fist fight before the end of this season. They're behaving worse than Ryan & Simon on that other show (thank goodness for my DVR on Tuesday nights!).

Finally, check out the clip (below). I came across it during the last season of DWTS, when I just HAD to find out more about Derek Hough & Mark Ballas. Turns out they've been BFFs since age five, and recently formed a band called "Almost Amy." They made this music video a year or so ago. They sing nearly as good as they dance. They also write their own music, mostly soft rock.



BTW, Derek is a super talent. He's currently starring on London's West End in "Footloose," in the Kevin Bacon role. Still, he's not David Cook (I'm such a one note tune these days).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Carrier is Magnificent--All Aboard for the Full Deployment




Carrier, the amazing new documentary series about life aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier premiered last night on PBS at 9pm. If you missed it, you will have many more chances to catch subsequent episodes, so please set your DVR or TiVo now.

The first hour of the series started with the Nimitz leaving port in Coronado (San Diego) California. We are introduced to some of the real people who will be followed through the series. I can't wait to see more of the no nonsense Command Master Chief Christopher L. Penton who is from Louisiana. We are also fascinated by the young Chris Altis, a 21 year old recruit who works on deck loading bombs (ordnance) and removing them from the jets. The women sailors are given full focus in this series too, including Seaman Recruit Cindy Costa who is a culinary specialist. Don't let her size fool you, she helps prepare meals for 5,000 people a day. And one of my favorites so far, is Airman Shaneeka McCree. She looks young enough to be still hanging out in high school, but she's already on her second deployment, working in Primary Flight Control at a job that she says is, "kind of like an air traffic controller".

What is fantastic about CARRIER?: everything, really. The cinematography, the music, the people, the enormous scope of the project itself. What is not so great about CARRIER? That they will be feeding it to us every Sunday in one hour portions. I want to see the whole thing NOW. The last scene of the first episode was beautiful and emotional and left me wanting more. The Nimitz makes its first port at Honolulu, Hawaii, and the sailors are ordered on deck to man the rails in their gleaming white uniforms. The 21st century behemoth Nimitz glides by the memorial for the USS Arizona, in a silent salute to the Navy comrades who were lost, but never forgotten on December 7th, 1941.

Please also visit the PBS website, as it contains many great factoids to help you understand Navy ranks, terms, etc. as well as upcoming episode descriptions. I have learned plenty already!

Much more to come on this one, it's just the beginning. 4+ stars on the Jane-o-meter. This is a documentary that you will not want to miss.

"John Adams" Replays This Week on HBO


We entreat you, if you have missed any part of it, to play catch-up with HBO's magnificent seven-part miniseries John Adams, replaying this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on HBO2, East and West feeds. Beginning at 8pm, tonight Parts 1 & 2 are up, tomorrow Tuesday Parts 3, 4 & 5, and the final Parts 6 & 7 on Wednesday night. Those of you with HBO on Demand won't have any trouble watching the series as it's available there now, but not everybody get HBOoD so this concentrated replay is a great opportunity. Looks as though it's not scheduled anytime after this in the forseeable future, though it will be out on DVD I believe in June.

We'll be sharing our Top John Adams moments on The Flaming Nose very soon!

May Sweeps Brings New Episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" & Many More!

Sweeps are upon us -- and they matter even in a crazy TV season like this one -- and I would be remiss if I didn't once again prevail upon all nerds out there to watch and support CBS' adorable comedy The Big Bang Theory which has a new episode tonight, entitled either "The Nerdmabilia Scattering" (according to CBS) or "The Nerdvana Annihilation" (according to MSN-TV), and on TV.com they also have an aka of "The Hello Kitty Instability" -- all of which I like. According to CBS, "Leonard decides to denerdify his life when he realizes that girls like Penny don't date guys like him." I wonder if that's even true these days, actually...but no matter, I'm sure it will be plenty amusing. As always, you can catch up with past episodes and behind-the-scenes info at The Big Bang Theory's CBS.com website!

In terms of other new episodes for the Sweeps, all of the CBS comedy line-up is new, all of ABC's Dancing With The Stars, Samantha Who? (which has gotten great buzz but I haven't watched a full episode yet; that's on my must-watch tonight), and The Bachelor: London Calling is new, Bones and House on Fox are new, NBC's Deal or No Deal and Medium are first-run, and CW's Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill are also new episodes. Which means everything on broadcast is new tonight! Choose wisely, and record indiscriminantly! And more importantly, enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

David Cook, 'Singin' in the Rain'

This is a must see for all you David Cook Fans out there. He's performing in a High School musical production of "Singing in the Rain," in the Donald O'Connor role... singing "Make 'Em Laugh." He's dancing and doing acrobatic flips and cracking up the audience. The Examiner article accompanying it verifies it's DC... but I wonder if the singing is live or if he had recorded it because he should be more out of breath and the song should have some rough spots due to the dancing, and it sounds so smooth. I'll have to investigate further. I just which there was as tighter spot to see just how adorable he is.

Sports

NBA PLAYOFFS:
With first round of the NBA Playoffs coming to a close, I would like to review each series.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

#1 LA LAKERS VS. #8 Denver Nuggets
With Los Angeles taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the series due to Kobe Bryant's excellent performance including a 49 point point game 2. No team has ever come back from 3-0 deficit and the Nuggets wont either considering the Lakers trounce of the nuggets in game 3 at Denver.

#4 Utah Jazz VS #5 Houston Rockets
This series has proven to be an interesting one. In the first 3 games of the series the road team has won. But in a decisive game 4 at the energy solutions arena in Salt Lake City where the Jazz have an NBA best 37-4 record, they edged out the Rockets 86-82. They should win this series.

#3 San Antonio Spurs VS #6 Phoenix Suns.
This renewed rivalry between the Spurs and the Suns was supposed to be a thrilling first round match up. The San Antonio Spurs beg to differ as they hold a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Suns had all too many chances in the first two games at San Antonio. But in both games they came up short. When the series shifted to Phoenix for game 3 they had no answer for Tony Parker who scored a career best 41 points. The Spurs will finish off the Suns in game 5 at home and will be going for their 5th championship in the last 10 years.

#2 New Orleans Hornets VS #7 Dallas Mavericks
This series is an easy one to pick for one reason, home court advantage. Both teams are great at home but struggle on the road. Since New Orleans has home court advantage look for them to win this series.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Boston Celtics VS #8 Atlanta Hawks
This series is also not exactly tough to predict with Boston posting 66-16 regular season record. The City of Atlanta has not seen a home playoff game in 9 seasons and we were all happy to see the hawks win game 3 in front of their fans. The Celtics will probably win the next two games and and come away with an easy series victory.

#4 Cleveland Cavaliers VS #5 Washington Wizards.
All of us NBA fans are getting tired of this match up as these teams have met for the past three years in the first round. With Deshawn Stevenson call Lebron James overrated, this comment sparked a game 1 tussle. With Cleveland ahead 3-1 in the series look for them to win the series easily.

#3 Orlando Magic VS #6 Toronto Raptors
Simple, if Toronto can not stop the Magic from sinking threes they have no chance.

#2 Detroit #7 Philidelphia
With the Sixers getting a shocking game 1 victory and their trounce in game 3 they should have good chance in this series.
















Mod Squad scene

This is the scene from the pilot with the car phone! Notice the lack of homes-or anything-in Malibu back then.

Nose-Talgia and "Laugh-In"; You Bet Your Sweet Bippy!




I was all set to do a Top 5 Most Memorable Moments from John Adams post, when I saw Scott's wonderful piece on the Mod Squad. I got pulled into a big bubbling vat of Nose-Talgia and the result is this short ode to another unforgettable 60's show, Laugh-In. Most television comedies are lucky to spawn one or two catch-phrases during their run. Laugh-In had over a dozen. It connected instantly with the American viewing public, and everybody from little kids in Keds to their Grandparents were running around squealing, "Say Good night Dick" and "Sock it to Me" and "You Bet Your Sweet Bippy". It was a more innocent time, so most folks probably didn't even get the racy double entendres. Thank heavens, otherwise I would not have been allowed to watch it week after week at the age of 12!

I've posted a clip above for a little psychedelic trip down memory lane. This one also features a couple of the Monkees, 60's TV icons in their own right. Just watch a few seconds of it and you'll be magically transported to the loopy world of Dan Rowen (the straight man) and Dick Martin (the zany guy with the zingers). Remember when they used to smoke on stage? This show was chock full of stars. Goldie Hawn probably went on to the biggest film career. But we also loved Lily Tomlin, Arte Johnson, Alan Sues, Ruth Buzzi and JoAnn Worely. And let us not forget Gary Owens the announcer and Henry Gibson with his poems and big flower.

Most folks remember the absolutely stunning and unprecedented blip of an appearance from Richard Nixon when he said, "Sock it to Me?". How many of you remember that John Wayne himself actually appeared in 14 episodes. Who says the old cowboy didn't have a sense of humor?


Saturday, April 26, 2008

"Mod Squad" Moments

I was all set to jump in on some Star Trek action for my next post. Followed by some “Lost In Space” chatter. But then my friend Randy had me and another friend over to watch “Once” and have some pizza and beer. Wonderful movie by the way. When it ended we weren’t ready to end evening, so Randy put on the pilot episode of “The Mod Squad.” She’s been hocking me about it ever since she got the box set last year. Well let me tell you, it exceeded my expectations.

Randy, along with my sister and her friends, were really into this breakthrough series, which debuted in 1968. I was a tween when it ran in prime time, and among my peers it seemed the girls were way more into it. They all wanted to be Peggy Lipton-or at least have her groovy wardrobe.

Where to begin. First, the basic concept: three “lost” young adults (college age?) start working for the LAPD as an undercover unit that can “connect” with the young people of the day. Definitely a forerunner to “21 Jump Street.”

So what made this early Aaron Spelling production stand out in 1968? It’s one of the very first TV shows shot on location. And I mean all over town. If you want to see what metropolitan LA looked like 40 years ago, you must check out this DVD. The series has been fully restored and digitally re-mastered. From Malibu, to the corner near my current home, La Cienega & Santa Monica Boulevards, they cruised around town, film crew in tow. In the pilot we counted about a dozen locations, shot in natural light (I’m sure they through up a few fills here and there). Beverly Hills, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Malibu, areas near Fairfax. They only used the Paramount lot sound stages to shoot interior scenes.

The plots were the usual TV fare of the day, but the scripts had trailblazing dialogue. I don’t think the show was ahead of its time. I do think it was a product of its time, and it dared to talk about things all other shows danced around, such as LCD, the generation gap, racial tensions, and police brutality. In once scene Clarence William’s III’s character, who is African American, calls a guy whitey! This was three years before “All in the Family” debuted!

Much of the music was authentic, with lots of late sixties rock. No real recognizable songs, but not that fake rock stuff used in other series. Bands actually cut sound tracks for this series, mostly used in nightclub scenes. Yet the scoring during dramatic and action scenes was typical Spelling/Quinn Martin jazzy stuff.

A rich guy had a phone in his car. Remember when that was really something. And it was a rotary phone with a dial, hooked up to some ship-to-shore style transmission.

Now I can’t wait to watch the rest of the series, to see what issues they tackle, and how the show evolved as it headed into the early 70s.

And yes, Peggy Lipton’s mod, psychedelic wardrobe was amazing.

NBC Thursday Night Comedies Hotter than Ever!



The writing is sharper than a drawer full of Ginsu knives, the characters are wonderful and weird. The Office and 30 Rock are both spectacularly good and have not lost their groove one tiny bit from the writer's strike hiatus.

This week's episode of The Office ("Night Out") found Michael, the world's most clueless boss, continuing his search for love in all the wrong places. I adore that although Michael is always one taco short of a combo plate, no one ever seems to acknowledge it. His awkward antics are always the elephant in the room...really big, maybe even smelly, but no one wants to mention that it's there. "Night Out" begins with the new manager Ryan returning to the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflen. At an all hands meeting in the conference room Ryan defends his disastrous website which has crashed because its new Social Networking application has become infested with sexual predators. Dunder Mifflin 2.0 was doomed from the get go. Ryan heads back to NY and Michael and Dwight decide to meet him there for a debauched night of clubbing that includes (hang on to your hats) a dwarf, a team of Amazonian college basketball players (Dwight makes out with one of them), a bar fight and a substance abusing Ryan. Back at Dunder Mifflen, Jim's had a great idea to work late on Friday so they all wouldn't have to come in Saturday. Their joy soon turns sour when they discover they are all trapped at the office behind a giant padlocked security gate. While the crew complains and they wait to be rescued, Toby the nerdy HR guy, makes a rare witty comment and Pam laughs. Toby reaches over and strokes Pam's leg while a horrified Jim looks on, in a scene so creepy I had to watch it 3 times. Mortified, Toby announces that he is moving to Costa Rica, bolts from the room, hops over the chain link fence and is gone. Breathtaking, brilliant and so very, very strange.

30 Rock was also back in Heavy Weight Champion performance mode. I think there may have been about 5 layers of stories stuffed into the "Succession" episode. The pace is so quick you have to keep your hand on the DVR button to rewind for missed lines and moments. The A story finds our hero Jack in a meeting with the marvelous Rip Torn, who plays Don Guise, the NBC Chairman and CEO. He tells Jack that he is going to be the successor when he retires and Jack bursts into tears of joy.

Meanwhile in the B story, Liz Lemmon is imagining what life would be like if she hadn't gone into show biz. She daydreams herself as Dian Fossey with gorillas in the mist. Her jungle fantasy is disrupted when Jack suggests that she should become his successor. A whole new C story thread ensues with Liz trying to become a corporate suit at an alcohol fueled business dinner. In the D story, Tracey Morgan is horrified to find his son didn't invite him to parent's day at school. He decides he needs to become an inventor so his kid will be proud of his accomplishments. What does he invent? A porn videogame, of course! This sub story also has it's own sub-sub-thread which compares Tracey and Frank to Mozart and Salieri in "Amadeus". Must be seen to be believed. There is also a fine E story thread involving Devon, the low talking, ladder climbing corporate snake and Jack's arch nemesis. Devon, even though gay and enamored of Kenneth the Page, has become the fiance of Don Guise's impossibly unattractive daughter Cathy.

Everybody is trying to become something they are not in this episode except for Jack who has always known he wants only one thing. To be the top dog at NBC. In the cliff hanger ending, his dream is still just out of his reach.

Back to back, The Office and 30 Rock continue to be the tightest, funniest, smartest shows on TV.


Friday, April 25, 2008

The Series Hasn't "Lost" its Luster (but are you lost?)

It’s odd how one of the best shows on television (past and present) can also be one of the most frustrating. The Oceanic survivors aren’t the only ones “lost” right now. The producers have tossed in so many new twists and turns the show is becoming sort of a brain-teaser. It will either sharpen my mind–or destroy it! The interruption from the writers strike didn’t help. Yet I’m hanging in there, because minute for minute, this show still delivers the best bang for the buck.

The writers have added so many new layers to this bean dip. They spent three seasons establishing the characters through imaginative flash backs. Now we’re being tempted with morsels of their demise with clever “flash-forwards.” There are even hints of time displacement (or “temporal anomalies” for you Trekkers out there!) And this week the Smoke Monster is back! Plus something new: I didn’t hate Ben. Even when he let the latest band of bad guys kill his daughter. This is the only show where a psychopath can grow on you!

As some of the pieces fall into place each week, new ones are thrown in. I only hope this leads to a spectacular climax. It just better not sputter out like “Twin Peaks.”

One nagging question has lingered since season one. They’ve been on the island less than 4 months. Several characters received nasty injuries that would take weeks, if not months to heal. Every injury should be piling up cumulatively. Dramatic license I suppose. If only I could ask Jacob.

Meanwhile, enjoy the sneak peek at next week's episode!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Carrier is Coming to PBS!



Here's a little shout-out to all who love phenomenal documentaries to mark your calendars for this Sunday, April 27th. "Carrier" is coming to PBS (preview on the video above). Experience life aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier as 17 film makers follow 5,000 sailors and marines on a 6 month high sea deployment. It's a nuclear powered floating city and airport and through 10 fantastic episodes, viewers will have the chance to feel what it would be like to live and work there. Check your local listings and PBS channel for the times, and don't miss it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tudors Tune-out?

Ok, it didn't take long for me to vent about "The Tudors." The Showtime series started with great expectations. I've always loved English history and who doesn't mind looking at Jonathan Rhys Myers for an hour? Problem is the series is starting to seem like a movie (and maybe a sequel - starring Cate Blanchett?) stretched into hours and hours, in multiple seasons. My God, we're midway through the 2nd season and KH VIII just married Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth is but a few hours old! I'm starting to get a little bored. Perhaps if they just pick up the pace a little. The cast is terrific, and the quality of the production is top notch. But it's so, so serious. A little humor would go a long way. After all, it is cable TV - we've come to expect a few good laughs (or at least some irony).

Idol Talk


It's appropriate that American Idol is the topic for my first post on The Flaming Nose. After six seasons, the show finally won me over (and soared to the top of my favorite TV picks this year). Speaking of soaring to the top of my list, David Cook did that early on. He had me with "Hello." I think he's only gotten better each week - including last night's amazing performance. I agree with critics who say "Music of the Night" is meant for a strong tenor, a la Michael Crawford, but Cook managed to reinvent the song, and himself, yet again. I love that he had to go out on a limb. If any of the contestants is up to the challange, he is. That's why I look forward to seeing and hearing what he will do each week. And guess what, he's a pretty strong tenor! In the world of pop, it sure was fun to see him belt out that broadway tune!

Alas, my dear Brooke. I think in just a few hours you will be packing. I would still buy any song of yours (well, as long as you stick to the Carol King-Carly Simon genre). You are a ray of sunshine. Your throaty voice is so soothing, and you sing from the heart. But after last night, and a rather lackluster couple of weeks, I do believe your time is up.

Kudos to Syesha for getting back in the game. Keep it up and you could make it to the final three!

I must now go and watch "Tudors" on my DVR. Sadly it's becoming more of an obligation to clear out the recordings. More on that in my next post!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Andrew Lloyd Webber Night Was a Stretch for Most AI Contestants



The AI contestants had to sing songs from Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals tonight. What's worse, the maestro himself coached their efforts and he was not kind. Actually, he seemed mostly appalled by their puny pop voices. The biggest exception of the night was Syesha, who came out swinging and owned the stage with "One Rock and Roll Too Many". We will take a little break from David Cook tonight and post Syesha's well deserved performance instead. David sang the very difficult "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. He did the best possible under the circumstances, but you really have to own vocal chops like an Irish Tenor to pull that one off. David is dripping with rock star talent, but he does not have a "pretty" voice.

So what will American Idol have them all singing next week? Puccini? Can't wait for Archuleta to take on Nessun Dorma. ;)

Happy Earth Day, Everybody!

"The Big Bang Theory" All Over "Star Trek" Last Night!

Monday evening's episode of The Big Bang Theory The Bat Jar Conjecture was chock-full of Star Trek references, even enough for me, and I always feel you simply can't have too many of those! Once again I highly recommend, if you enjoy geek humor, checking out this fairly adorable show, the last few episodes of which are available on CBS.com here.

For a little taste, here's a clip from the end of last night's episode. The only bad thing about this clip is that CBS has tacked a commercial spot to the front. It's not the commercial that's the problem, it's the fact that it might be a 30 second one, or only a :15. 30 seconds is simply TOO long and clearly the fifteen is much more effective and bearable. Heck, :30 spots are too long even for TV anymore! Shorten that pre-roll, CBS! :15s are the way to go!



Monday, April 21, 2008

Farewell John Adams



A brief note to bid a fond farewell to the JOHN ADAMS miniseries, which aired its last episode on HBO Sunday night. For those who may have missed this 5 star production, please turn to HBO on Demand, or catch the repeats or wait for the DVD and run, don't walk, to get it. Over the past several weeks since this series began, I've spoken to so many people; senior citizens, kids still in grade school, high school seniors and of course my TV Blogging peers. I have not found one who has not been transfixed by this unforgettable production. All agree, America's history has never before seemed so utterly alive. Any one of the installments was as least as good as a Miramax historical theatrical release, and a thousand times less boring.

I will not recount any of the moments in the final episode that moved me (there were many) so as not to spoil it for the folks who may still be catching up. I will say that I was unaware of John Adam's renewed friendship with Thomas Jefferson in their elderly years. They both passed away on my favorite holiday, and it made me cry (my teenager son who has not missed a single episode was appalled).

Well done HBO, for a public service, AND a critical/creative television triumph. This is an enormously crucial time for the USA, with a war in Iraq, our economy challenged and a Presidential election on the horizon. Thanks to HBO, we are reminded of another world 200 years ago, when people endured terrible times while a nation was born. They persevered. And so, will we all.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Jane's Top Ten Most Memorable TV Moments



Everybody loves a top ten list, so we're going to try to include a few here on the Nose from time to time. They tend to be very subjective, and sometimes even contentious, so I'm hoping that this one and subsequent lists will get people fired up enough so that they will actually leave comments. Nose fans out there in cyber-land, you may not know this but Lisa and I absolutely live for your posted comments, so keep 'em coming!

Jane's Most Memorable TV Moments:

10. The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show:
I am going to start with an episode that I did not see in real time, but have seen it repeated so many times that I feel like I must have been there. The mass hysteria, the hyperventilating and heaving teenage bosoms. The mirthless Mr. Sullivan who seemed relieved that these boys were actually "nice lads" and not the menacing Rolling Stones. There was so much going on, one forgets the actual performance that birthed the greatest rock band in world history.

9. MTV is Launched: With the Buggles singing, "Video Killed the Radio Star" in 1981, this cable TV network was officially born and a collective shriek of terrified broadcast TV, radio and recording industry executives was heard round the world. OK, that last part it not true, but it should have been. Cable TV and MTV started a revolution that fragmented television viewing, and changed the model for delivering music to the masses. Many businesses have never recovered.

8. Final Episode of M*A*S*H: After more than a decade on the air, America said goodbye to a program that was so deeply engaging, the characters felt like friends and family. The fact that this series maintained its suburb quality and innovation through all those many years, made it even harder to to face the end. The two hour finale which aired in 1983 attracted over 105 million viewers and is still (per Nielsen) considered one of the highest rated TV programs of all time.

7. "Roots", the ABC Miniseries: Most people can't even remember what this kind of mass, pre-cable, television was like. I'll tell you what it was like. "Roots" was the amazing ABC miniseries from Alex Haley's best selling novel about the saga of an African American family, starting with their original ancestor Kunta Kinte, who was brought to America in chains. During the week long prime time event, if you walked into any neighborhood and peaked into American living rooms, you would see folks watching Roots. It received over 37 Emmy nominations in 1977.

6. I Love Lucy: LA At Last: Of course we must include our muse and Blogger namesake! In this greatest of all Lucy episodes, the famous four-some has made it to Hollywood where Lucy and Ethyl promptly head to the Brown Derby to see movie stars. Of course, Lucy ends up dumping a whole bowl of spaghetti onto William Holden. Back at their apartment, Lucy is horrified to find that Ricky has invited Mr. Holden over for a visit. Lucy dons a fake nose made out of putty so he won't recognize her as the nut case from the Brown Derby (scripted). She lights a cigarette and the nose catches on fire (scripted). She calmly reaches for her coffee cup, and dunks the nose into it to extinguish the flame (not scripted...pure Lucille Ball improve). Ricky's shocked reaction was genuine and it added to the hilarity of the moment.

5. Final Episode of Six Feet Under: I think this HBO series is one of the finest ever made, and it is my hands down favorite. It is also the only television series to accurately capture the complexity and utter weirdness of living in contemporary Los Angeles. I loved it beyond reason and the last episode with all of the characters aging and meeting their demise with Sia singing "Breathe Me" in the background was profound and heart breaking. I could watch it a thousand times.

4. President' Reagan's Eulogy for the Challenger Astronauts: The President helped a nation mourn the loss of the crew of the Challenger space shuttle, in a beautiful eulogy partially written by Reagan's most talented speech writer (Peggy Noonan). I watched it with my co-workers at work at KTTV in Los Angeles and we cried like babies. Especially when he read the poem "High Flight"
"And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God."


3
. David Bowie Sings on The Bing Crosby Christmas Special: An entirely unexpected television event from the 1970's and I was lucky enough to see it as it happened. I knew immediately it would become an instant classic, and that is exactly what happened. Posting the video here on the Nose. It is still awesome to see the aging crooner and the young glam rocker sing a Christmas medley that never ever gets old.


2. 9-11: I was up so early that morning in Los Angeles, I actually saw the second plane hit the tower in real time. It has been over 6 years since that September morning in 2001 and I still can't think about it without feeling the horror. This tragedy was (and is) considered the most recorded catastrophic event in history, as thousands of home video cameras in addition to broadcast and cable news captured the nightmare as it happened.


1. Apollo 11 Lands on the Moon: My number two was the saddest television moment, and my #1 is still the most triumphant. As close to a billion people watched on TV sets around the world, Neil Armstrong walked onto another world and delivered his unforgettable "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" line. I've met many Apollo astronauts over the years, but never Mr. Armstrong who is a recluse. I had the privilege of watching Apollo 11 launch in person when I was a little kid, standing on the beach near Cape Canaveral, Florida with my family. We watched Neil step onto the moon on a tiny black and white TV in our motel room.

Nose-Talgia: "The Young Rebels"

While reflecting upon the conclusion of John Adams, I fondly recalled another of my early TV favorites, completely apropos to the American Revolution setting of HBO's wonderful miniseries, called The Young Rebels. In the fall of 1970, The Young Rebels was ABC's historical answer to the cry (which the three networks thought they heard, anyway) from the teenagers of the U.S. demanding shows relevant to their age group. And so came a slew of young lawyers, young cops, young doctors, and amazing so, young American revolutionaries in 1776 Philadelphia. The characters were members of the fictitious underground "Yankee Doodle Society" dedicated to the defeat of the British and to the success of George Washington and his troops fighting for independence.

Produced by Aaron Spelling with his characteristic aplomb and eye for excitement, The Young Rebels assembled an attractive young cast, including Lou Gossett, Rick Ely, Alex Henteloff (as a Ben Franklin lookalike), Hilary Thompson (yes, a spunky girl!), the dashing Philippe Forquet as General Lafayette -- save for Gossett none of them are still acting -- for the show which would only last for fifteen episodes. Despite its short life, The Young Rebels still has a following, no doubt aging Boomers like myself who were enthralled with its colorful depiction of an adventurous time in U.S. history.

There are some clips of the show on this wonderful website TV Obscurities, a great and astonishingly complete tribute website here with amazing background info, some neat behind-the-scenes photos from the set of the show (from a guy who did extra work on many series of the time), a Yahoo group of Rebels fans, a site for fan fiction for The Young Rebels with lots of great series information, a complete episode listing with guest stars on TV.com, and you can listen to the peppy and memorable theme song here at TelevisionTunes.com.

Not yet available on DVD (but let's hope someday it turns up someplace, perhaps on the net), The Young Rebels was an unusual and welcome television foray into our exciting past.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

HBO's "John Adams" Concludes This Sunday

I'm going to miss spending Sunday evenings with the early American patriots; HBO's impressive miniseries John Adams concludes this Sunday with the 7th and final episode "Peacefield" which finds ex-President Adams retired and back home with his family. Even better, HBO offers a day-long catch-up marathon if you've missed a few episodes or even if you just want to watch them again; I find that repeat viewings definitely enhance this mini's impact. The characters grow on you and indeed you will enjoy it better the second time.

Starting at 1pm Sunday, HBO will be re-playing the first six episodes of John Adams, followed by the premiere of the final episode at 9pm. I intend on plunking myself in front of the set and watching them all again. I particularly loved the early episodes with the passionate debates about pursuing separation from Britain, and I've previously written of my big crush on actor Stephen Dillane's really mesmerizing portrayal of Thomas Jefferson. Nothing against Paul Giamatti and his pesky and effective work as Adams, but Dillane as Jefferson was the character I couldn't wait to have enter a scene. That may be just my waning hormones talking, but I honestly don't think so. His work as Jefferson simply drew you in and left you wanting more. (So here's to a Jefferson mini sometime, eh? Could fill that one with some nice naughty bits, in any case!)

David Morse as George Washington, Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin, the smooth Rufus Sewell as slick Alexander Hamilton -- everybody was terrific, as was Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, obviously a woman of great insight and a wise counsel to her husband.

If you haven't yet, be sure to check out HBO's John Adams website for more information!

Friday, April 18, 2008

"The Big Bang Theory" & "Extras" Get a Nod from the Banff TV Festival

We're always pleased as punch here when one or two of our favorite shows get noticed in a big way, and my fave new comedy The Big Bang Theory and longtime TFN darling Extras (the episode with Daniel Radcliffe)
have just been announced as two of the nominees in the Comedy Programs category for the 29th annual Banff World Television Awards, the prestigious competition which winnows down nearly a thousand entries into a hundred nominees into finally the winners which will be announced on June 9th, 2008. It's worth a glance at the full list of all the nominees in every category, if for no other reason than to truly understand and appreciate that there is terrific television being produced all over the planet, and we're seeing only a tiny bit of it.

The Big Bang Theory and Extras share their category with other nominees Desperate Housewives, British sketch show Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul, Australian mockumentary series Summer Heights High (Episode 1), and the satirical revue The Chaser's War on Everything, also from Australia. It's a widely divergent group of shows and again, in the interest of getting up to speed with the gold standard in comedy, I highly recommend you check these out.

Thanks to the internet, it's easier than ever to do that. You can watch the nominated episode of Summer Heights High here in two parts on Daily Motion, and several whole eps of The Chaser's War on Everything are available on Google video and bits on YouTube, the very funny Extras with Daniel Radcliffe clips are all over, and (I think) this is Part One and this is Part Two of the episode. Many clips from Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul are on YouTube, and I'm going to post this little bit right here so you can get a taste of it.




Anyway, a big shout to all nominees from the Flaming Nose -- we love television from everywhere!


P.S.: Can I just put in a great word for Wikipedia here? I do a lot of web research for various projects, and there's just no place to get the lowdown quicker on ANY topic than on Wikipedia. If I want to get up to speed right away that's always my first stop, and I go on from there (and of course I go on from there!). The key to their success is the passionate involvement of those participating in creating Wikipedia, and though traditional media loves to pounce on any story when partisan content gets posted on the Wiki (and just as quickly taken down) and therefore declares Wikipedia flawed and biased, trad media is just plain behind the curve here. Wikipedia rocks!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Nose-talgia: Roddy Piper and "Piper's Pit"

Back in the day, back when professional wrestling was in the glory days -- the mid-1980s -- of its resurgence as viable entertainment to a valuable demographic, there was no more entertaining wrestler than Rowdy Roddy Piper, the (mostly) bad guy with the gift of gab. He had his own segment on WWE (then the WWF) broadcasts called "Piper's Pit" where he interviewed other wrestlers and created his own unique brand of havoc. You might have heard about the time he attacked Jimmy "Superfly" Snukka with a coconut, but I've chosen a clip where Roddy talks to the late great Andre the Giant.

If you weren't into wrestling you'll at least remember Andre from his wonderful role in the movie The Princess Bride from 1987, and Roddy Piper also made a slew of movies including 1988's more-relevant-than-ever John Carpenter-directed science fiction classic They Live. My Nose-talgia choice has special relevance because it's Piper's 54th birthday today; if you're so inclined you can go on over to his website and wish him a Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Discovery Channel Reality Programs Rule!



CASH CAB! on the Discovery channel is without a doubt the cutest quiz show ever invented.Not as challenging as Jeopardy, not as vapid as Deal or No Deal, cash cab is sort of a mutant spawn of Candid Camera and Millionaire. On wheels.

It starts on the streets of NYC where unsuspecting folks enter a regular yellow cab. They give the driver their destination and then all of a sudden....music and flashing colored lights on the ceiling and "you're on Cash Cab! The host is an adorable and affable bald guy named Ben Bailey. He is also the driver. If the riders agree to play, the contest begins. They get cash for correct answers and if they are stumped they can call a friend on a cell phone or Ben will pull over to the sidewalk so they can flag down a passing pedestrian for help with the trivia question. Quick....what's the wittiest quiz show on television today? Answer: CASH CAB! On the Discovery Channel. They play it about a billion times a week, making me all the more pitiful for just having recently discovered this gem.



Deadliest Catch: Do you have a tough job? Maybe it's boring or stressful or your boss is a Nazi. Maybe it's dirty or the hours are long or you have to wear a funny colored pointed hat. But chances are, no matter how awful the job, it probably won't kill you. Not so for the workers on The Deadliest Catch, which just started its new season on The Discovery Channel (Tuesday nights at 10pm). Meet the snow and king crab fishermen of Alaska. The roughest, toughest, meanest, rowdiest bunch on TV. If you mess up on the job, you might get fired. If they mess up...they die. Check out the video for a glimpse into their cold, cold world. It's escapism at its best...but it's real!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

David Cook Cuts Through the Melismatic Miasma



American Idol. Seven finalists left. Mariah Carey night. Absolutely no reason to review any of their attempts to repeat her blockbusting, five octave, range. Only David Cook came through the fire to perform an amazing 4 star rendition (that sounded nothing whatsoever like Mariah). Thank you DC for allowing me to actually love an MC song for the first time ever. DCXMCsong=JCrating times 10 to the 23rd power. If only (I know...I'm sick of saying it as much as you're sick of hearing it) I had put money on the David ten weeks ago in Vegas when the odds were so good. But that would have required that a) I knew how to contact a Vegas bookie to place a bet and b) that I had any money to place.

Any guy, who can take a Mariah Carey song, and make me not fall asleep on the couch while listening to it, is an amazing talent. He will go as far as he wants to, without limitations, no matter how the AI fans vote. Check out the video and see for yourself.



Alec Baldwin & Gene Wilder Together Tonight on TCM!

Fans of Alec Baldwin, Gene Wilder and comedy in general will want to tune into Turner Classic Movies this evening at 8pm for the special Role Model: Gene Wilder, a new interview between 30 Rock's brilliant Baldwin and long-time comedic actor Gene Wilder. Three Wilder movies play through prime and overnight -- The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Start the Revolution Without Me -- and it's sure to be an insightful conversation between two smart and talented actors when Baldwin and Wilder sit down together. Check out the TCM website for scheduling particulars.

I first became fascinated by Gene Wilder back in 1967 when I fell in love with the movie Bonnie and Clyde as a young teenager. I saw the movie over and over again at our local theater, and Wilder had a small but memorable role as Eugene Grizzard, the awkward mortician who along with his girlfriend (played by Evans Evans, the wife of the late director John Frankenheimer) is kidnapped by the Barrow gang for a short and abruptly ended joyride. And aren't we in luck -- the segment is available on YouTube! Here it goes --





Don't miss Role Model: Gene Wilder tonight on TCM!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A New Feature: "Something Seems Familiar"

Introducing a new feature on the Nose, called "Something Seems Familiar", where we will contrast and correlate movies and TV programs that, while very different, may have similar core messages. I was going to call it "Something Smells Familiar", but I think I need to take a little break from flippant nose puns. For our inaugural post, I will take a look at two excellent films that would not normally be discussed on the same page.

The first is "Autism the Musical" (above) another first class project from HBO Documentaries. It follows the efforts of five autistic children to put on a musical for their friends and family. It is immensely moving, particularly when some of the kids try to describe the isolation and frustration caused by their affliction.

I felt a similar sense of isolation while watching Into the Wild, an award winning movie directed by Sean Penn (now out on DVD). It explores the great length one sad soul went to seek independence and a complete departure from his fellow human beings. It is magnificently filmed and includes a brief but memorable (and Academy Award nominated) moment from veteran actor Hal Holbrook, who befriends the young man who is running away from everything. The sweeping scenes of Alaskan wilderness are also accompanied by a gorgeous and powerful score composed by Pearl Jam rocker Eddie Vedder.

A central theme of anhedonia resonates through both films. In one,
the resulting loneliness is cruelly imposed by a little understood disease. In the other, it is actively sought after by a young man escaping from modern society and a troubled past. In both, the redemptive power of music and unconditional love of a few dedicated humans, offers some solace to their locked-in lives. These shows are definitely worth watching. Try them and see if you think they have something in common too. "Autism" is still playing on HBO and "Into the Wild" can be found on PPV or DVD.

The Return of NBC's Thursday Night Comedies



The long cold winter of endless reruns is finally over. We welcome back the classic tradition of Thursday night comedies on NBC, with brand new episodes of 30 Rock and The Office this past Thursday. They are both riveting and in top form, but has anybody besides me noticed something rather peculiar about television comedies these days? 30 Rock and The Office are cleverly acted, smart, quirky and fascinating. Their plots are woven tighter than a Navajo rug. But do you ever actually laugh when you're watching? Is it possible for a sit-com to be successful and beloved without actually being funny? My answer? Who cares, as long as it isn't boring.

30 Rock:
The love-hate relationship between Liz Lemon the producer and Jack Donoughy the TV "Suit" is back and weirder than ever. In this episode, someone has leaked a tidbit to the "Page Six" gossip columnist that Jack is a "Class A Moron". The B story concerns Jack's new hit network reality show, "MILF Island". How on God's Green Earth did the acronym MILF escape the NBC censor's radar screen? Check out the announcer-host on this show within a show who does a spot-on impression of Ryan Seacrest. The C-Story is a harrowing and claustrophobic "man vs machine" moment when Hornberger gets his hand stuck in a vending machine.

The Office:
An exquisite slam-dunk return for the most fascinating half-hour on television (until Flight of the Conchords comes back to HBO at any rate). Michael and Jan host a dinner party that quickly deteriorates into a torturous food-free, Merlot soaked train wreck. From the first creepy moments when a tour of their apartment reveals that Jan forces Michael to sleep on a tiny narrow bench to the domestic disturbance ending where Jan breaks Michael's precious new 12 inch plasma screen TV, this episode is a grab bag of surreal scenes. Melora Hardin as "Jan" is well on her way to becoming this season's breakout character. In fact, contrary to my opening comments above, Jan is astonishingly funny, as a bored professional woman perpetually on the verge of a giant meltdown.
America's office sweethearts Jim and Pam as well as new couple Andy and Angela witness the dark side of Michael and Jan's twisted relationship in a dinner party that is mysteriously lacking in food. The amazing Rainn Wilson, bereft at being excluding from Michael's party, shows up uninvited at the end with a homeless lady that he has plucked off the street to be his "date".

Both 30 Rock and The Office are so quick and inside and multi-layered, you have to watch them a couple times in order to really "get" it all. Fortunately, NBC has made this very easy, by posting all episodes, including the most current ones on NBC.com for all the world to view as many times as they would like. This is very clever of NBC and the Flaming Nose gives them a hearty honk for being so friendly to the Internet.

Nose-talgia: "The Judy Garland Show"

Singers may come and singers may go, but you won't find two better than in this adorable clip from The Judy Garland Show, circa late 1963, with star Judy Garland and Ethel Merman in a rambunctious medley duet. The show was a CBS coup -- the legendary Judy starring in her first network variety series -- but it was fraught with production problems and ended after only 26 episodes, no thanks also to its tough timeslot Sunday nights at 9pm opposite the colorful and top-rated Bonanza on NBC. Thank goodness The Judy Garland Show episodes are now available on DVD (and clips on YouTube!) for fans to enjoy forever.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Great "30 Rock" is Back With New Episodes


Okay, so we're a day late, but we wanted to be sure you knew that the terrific NBC series 30 Rock is back with new episodes on Thursday nights! Luckily you can watch the full-length shows online here; if you didn't catch last night's very amusing MILF Island, be sure to catch it on the web.

What a wonderful show this is, and is there any better chemistry on TV than between Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin? Absolutely hilarious, and the whole cast is simply tops. Watch and enjoy!

Charlton Heston Today on TCM

If you've been missing Charlton Heston already since his death last weekend, you will enjoy Turner Classic Movies this afternoon and tonight, when their schedule includes several Heston films plus the Private Screenings sit-down interview with Heston conducted by TCM host Robert Osborne, from 1998. Starting at 2:30p Eastern, the movie line-up is The Buccaneer, The Hawaiians, Ben Hur, Khartoum, and Major Dundee, with the interview scheduled at the front end and also at 8pm preceding Ben Hur.

This isn't exactly a killer line-up as far as Heston films go, but it's good for short notice and you've got to appreciate Charlton Heston in his leather gear from Ben Hur. He was certainly an iconic movie figure and there was much to love and admire about his character too, even though many of us probably disagreed with his later political stands. He was always one of my favorites and you can bet I'll be watching today!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

American Idol Gives Back...and They Want You to Help


Television is, and has always been, a window looking out upon the world. Today, America's most watched TV program takes that view to help those who need it most. This week's usual American Idol post is pre-empted for a very worthy cause. Tonight (4.9.08. 7:30-10:00 Pacific) AI will give back with a telethon to raise money to support children's funds here in the US and in Africa. Last year's first "Idol Gives Back" raised over $70 million dollars for these very worthy causes. Corporate sponsors who have partnered with AI and will provide matching funds include News Corp, Coca Cola, Ford, iTunes, and Exxon-Mobile. Charities that will be the recipients include Save the Children, Malaria No More, and the Children's Health Fund. Want to learn more? Click right HERE.
Want to talk to one of the current Idol contestants? They are manning the phones now, so call: 1-877-IDOL AID ( 1-877-436-5243).

Here are just a few of the great programs that your donation can help support:
  • $100 can buy a year's worth of food for an orphan in Africa
  • $50 can buy enough malaria pills to keep 100 kids safe from Malaria in Kenya
  • $20 will buy a day's worth of hot food and snacks for 3 children in a US food program
Tonight's episode will be chock full of mega-media stars, so please tune in and enjoy. But even if you do not have time to watch, go to this link and GIVE BACK. We have all enjoyed many hours of entertainment from American Idol, now is the time to show your appreciation and donate to an extremely wonderful and important cause. And as I type this post, Billy Crystal was just on stage being hilarious! And now Bono himself is on. Annie Lennox just sang a version of "Many Rivers to Cross" that was absolutely priceless. Can't you spare just $20 or more? Please go...please give...and do something right on a Wednesday night. Oh...and by the way, if you don't see this post until after 4.9.08, it's OK. You can still go to this link and DONATE anytime.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Nose-Talgia Visits Twin Peaks!



Who killed Laura Palmer? With that simple question, one of the scariest, loopiest and most brilliant dramas ever to grace US broadcast prime, began its brief reign. From the first pitch black dreamy tones of Angelo Badalamenti's haunting score to the establishing shots of a strange little lumberjack town in the Northwest, all who flock to the unusual on TV were hooked like salmons on a line.

David Lynch became the master of exploring the dark secrets that lurk beneath a small town's innocent exterior by weaving his cast into a psychedelic dream of a plot. Who could ever forget Agent Cooper (magnificently underplayed by Kyle MacLachlin) and his coffee and donut obsession? Or the beautiful blue lipped and extremely dead Laura Palmer ("she was wrapped in plastic!"). What about the dancing dwarf who talked backwards? Any one of these items on a normal show would have had critics claiming that Lynch had "jumped the shark". But Twin Peaks came out swinging and proudly did a triple gainer flip over a tank full of great whites from episode one. Personally, I thought the Log Lady was one of the greatest nut ball characters ever created. The way she cradled her little log in a baby blanket was both touching and hilarious.

I had the pleasure of working at ABC network while Twin Peaks was on the air, and one time found myself trapped on the elevator in Century City with David Lynch and his loyal entourage. He was wearing a gray suit and black sunglasses and chewing on a toothpick. He never said a word as the world's slowest elevator descended three floors. It was like spotting something rare and extraordinary, like a Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker. Or an alien. He was the coolest celebrity I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty.

Alas, poor Twin Peaks was too special and glorious and, well, weird for regular TV. It was greatly ahead of its time. In today's cable world, it may have lasted many seasons but better that it burned brightly and briefly than not at all.

Dean Has Posted His Top Movies List on Filmicability!

Do yourself a real favor and check out the blog of The Flaming Nose friend Dean Treadway, my favorite film writer and host of the blog filmicability with Dean Treadway. He's posted his all-time top movies list, and I don't think you'll find a more fascinating or inclusive list of features. Believe me, once you are familiar with Dean's brilliant film writing, you'll be very happy that some of your favorites are his favorites too. Makes you feel good to be in such astute company!

Nose-talgia: "Diver Dan"

In the early 1960s an unusual and incredibly exciting -- well, at least if you were a little kid -- live-action children's show made its debut. Diver Dan was a cartoon-length continuing underwater adventure tale, a seaworthy soap opera about the world of title character Diver Dan (who wore one of those big old diving suits with a screw-on helmet), his fishy pals -- and a few enemies -- and the beautiful mermaid Miss Minerva who had a crush on "the diver" (as she referred to him) but would swim away whenever he came nearby. Diver Dan and Minerva were played by real people, but all the fish were marionettes, with names like Baron Barracuda and Trigger Fish (two villains, the Baron with a monocle and a Nazi accent and Trigger Fish his dumb henchman with a big cigarette hanging off his lip), Skipper Kipper, Finley Haddock and so on.

It was like the juvenile fantasy version of Sea Hunt, and like much kids' entertainment back then, drew on the adult world's melodrama to fashion fairly intricate plots, however fanciful. I was crazy about the show, and so were my sisters, and many baby boomers' early notions of romance might include the chaste but intriguing Diver Dan/Miss Minerva flirtation. Lest you think I'm the only one (besides that mermaid) who carries a torch for Diver Dan, the series has been released on DVD, so I'm not nuts.

Here's one of the early episodes for you to enjoy!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

John Adams' Good and Yummy Friend Mr. Jefferson




I'm very much enjoying HBO's John Adams miniseries, which is unfolding every Sunday evening with many repeats during the week. What's really gotten my attention, and I have a feeling my interest is as much historical as hysterical, is that I'm plum crazy about Thomas Jefferson, played by British actor Stephen Dillane.

Wow! He's incredible, and incredibly appealing. The character of Jefferson is suave, quietly indomitable, fond of women, kind of flirty, super-intelligent and having just a great time in naughty Paris, methinks. In episode four, which premiered last week, both he and Mr. and Mrs. Adams were stationed in France as representatives of the new United States, living opulently and indulging in the culture and frivolities made available to them in their positions. Mrs. Adams (Laura Linney) was obviously innocently charmed and slightly intrigued by the urbane Jefferson, giving Mr. Adams (Paul Giamatti) a bit of consternation, it appeared.

At the end of the episode the Adams family was back in the U.S., and in the segment premiering tonight, evidently there is growing political friction between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, beginning a serious rupture in their long-standing friendship. Can't wait to watch it!

If you haven't been watching John Adams, it's not too late to start. I'm sort of finding the peripheral characters a little more interesting than Mr. Adams, and like I said, especially the dandy Mr. Jefferson. I highly recommend catching the episode where they are hammering out the Declaration of Independence, last week's, and the one coming up if you are TJ-watching, as I am now.

Whatever reasons you find for watching this well-done miniseries are good, so long as you catch it! (If you want to check out Stephen Dillane's impressive acting career, check out this tribute website, and this one -- though they're both sort of out of date, and of course his listing on IMDB.)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Nose-talgia: "Two Fat Ladies"

Old-style fans of the Food Network a decade ago will fondly recall watching the delightful British cooking series Two Fat Ladies starring Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Paterson, two stout and succulent cooks who zoomed around Britain and elsewhere on Jennifer's scooter and stopped to prepare amazing meals. It's been many years since the Food Network ran the show, more's the pity, and Ms. Paterson died back in 1999, but their love of food, their wit, and zesty kitchen wisdom keep them close to our hearts. Here's the opening from the 1997 version of the show. Enjoy!