Friday, March 31, 2006

JoJo no longer on the radio?

Heard the Magic Morning show saying goodbye today to KKMG (98.9 FM)'s controversial but very popular nighttime deejay JoJo. In his four years at the station, JoJo has consistently been a ratings winner and managed to kick over a few anthills, too, most recently when a sex offender was arrested outside the studio after appearing on the show (JoJo said he had no idea that the guy was a sex offender).

UPDATE: You know, it occurs to me what day tomorrow is.
Magic usually has pretty elaborate April Fool's Day jokes, so maybe we should chalk this to me being a little slow on the uptake. Doh! On the other hand, "I'm moving back to New Jersey" isn't exactly a knee-slapper, so who knows?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


No big surprise here, but KXTU/Channel 57 (Adelphia 7) signed up withe the new CW network on Tuesday.

UPN and the WB are merging to form the CW, which threw the old affiliation agreements to the wind. Haven't gotten an answer on what will happen to the WB2, which Adelphia carries for local Smallville fans.

Another interesting question is whether new KXTU owners Barrington Broadcasting will consider upgrading the station to high definition now that they're signed on with a network that's likely to have more ratings pop.

UPDATE: KXTU GM Steve Dant says the station will be applying for an HD license next month, although getting the frequency and the equipment installed will probably take another two years.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Michael Brown on Colbert Report

That would have been friggin' hilarious if an entire city wasn't leveled along the way.

Honestly, like a lot of people I've developed a smidgen of admiration for the way Brown has refused to take the abuse heaped on him lying down. But smirking and joking about it when crews in New Orleans are still pulling bodies out of the rubble? That's never going to play well.

He didn't hurt himself by going on the Report. How could he? But I saw a guy more suited to planning the company picnic than a national disaster response.

Monday, March 27, 2006

KXRM sold

Local Fox affiliate KXRM/Channel 21 and UPN affiliate KXTU/Channel 57 were sold on Monday to Barrington Broadcasting Corporation as part of a $262 million deal with former owner Raycom Media.

I've got a story in the business section tomorrow, but for local TV viewers, there are two more important questions:

What's going to happen to KXTU when UPN merges with the WB to form the new CW network in the fall?
Barrington president Jim Yager said he expects an announcement on KXTU within a week. Sounds like it will be a CW affiliate, although Fox's new My Television Network is also a possibility.

What about KXRM's 9 p.m. news?
KXRM's evening news is produced over at KKTV/Channel 11 under an agreement that runs through the end of summer. Before Raycom put the station up for sale, there was speculation that KXRM would start its own newscast. Yager said he knew the situation here, but wouldn't say what his plans were.
I'd expect they would go ahead with doing their own news -- he specifically mentioned how important local news was to smaller markets like Colorado Springs.

FEMA rapor

Former FEMA director and Colorado horse guy Michael Brown plans to sit down with Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert Tuesday night.

My take? This is actually a smart move.

For all the bravado of Colbert's eponymous character, his interviews tend to be a lot more softball than his compadre Jon Stewart's over on "The Daily Show."

Stewart doesn't have a part to play, so he often asks real questions. Colbert's interviews may include some zingers, but they're coming from an essentially fictional character, which makes the consequences lower. By going on the Rapor, Brownie gets to humanize himself and show he's big enough to take the heat, but actually avoid some of the moral condemnation or pointed questions Stewart would lob at him.

Wheel-y fun

So I made the drive up to Denver on Saturday to catch the "Wheel of Fortune" tapings. It ended up being a longer day than I had thought, but more fun, too.

First off, there were thousands of people waiting outside to see the show. They had 4,000 seats inside and they had two seatings for the five tapings they were doing that day. I've got nothing against "Wheel," I think it's a fine show, but man, the level of fan enthusiasm was pretty surprising.

They took me and the rest of the press (including both Shannon Brinias and Nora Seibert from KKTV), to some back conference room, gave us pop and cookies and then brought Vanna in for a group interview. She was pretty laid back, wearing jeans and flip-flops, shorter in person than she appears on TV. Apparently she has a place up in Aspen and she was joking about how she never skis.

"I'm not a big skier, because I'm always so afraid I'll break a leg or something," she said. "I have to walk to work."

At least I think she was joking...

There was a very strange group of reporters there -- kids from local colleges, because they were taping college week, somebody from a parenting magazine, somebody from an aviation magazine (apparently Vanna used to own a couple of jets) and a few people like me. So the questions she was being asked were all over the map: "Do you ever get muscle fatigue?" "Have you ever Googled yourself?"

Then they brought Pat Sajak back and let me tell you, that dude is one smooth operator. He was totally relaxed, funny, self-deprecating. It reminded me that I was one of the three Americans who actually liked his late night talk show back in the eighties.

He held forth on what the Rockies need to do to be competitive (build a Mile High version of the Green Monster), his favorite contestants (a woman who was so elated at winning, she turned to him and said "I don't know where I am") and the pressures of being a game show host ("I know the logistics enough I could do this show in deep REM sleep, but that's not fair to the people who pay me").

Then we went into the main convention hall for the actual taping. They had the CU band there, the cheerleaders, they had done the stage up as a faux hunting lodge, with plastic rocks and logs and snowshoes and fishing poles hanging from the walls. It was pretty silly. On screens behind the contestants, they played clips of skiing (which looked like Eldora -- go figure that one), whitewater rafting and a few other nature scenes.

The first show, featuring Air Force Cadet Doug Presley, went off without a hitch. I had to promise I wouldn't tell what happened (the show will air May 15), but I can say some pretty exciting stuff happened. During the second taping, however, they kept having problems with the letters -- one of them went dark, the whole screen wouldn't come up, this happened like four times. Pat was, again, very smooth -- "I don't want to get technical for all you folks, but we just had a boo-boo."

Anyway, I'll have more on this in tomorrow's TV Talk.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Spin it!

Just heard two of our own -- Air Force Academy Cadet 2nd Class Casey Probst and Cadet 1st Class Doug Presley -- will be participating in "Wheel of Fortune's" College Week taping tomorrow in Denver. The shows will air beginning May 15.

"Wheel" is on locally at 6 p.m. on KKTV/Channel 11.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Oh Kevin, we hardly knew ye -- plus some "Lost" thoughts

While Kevin Covais was undoubtably the worst "Idol" remaining not named Ace, I really expected him to go farther... at least as far as Scott Savol anyway. "Idol" fans love stringing along one semi-talented loveable loser. And, unlike Savol, Kevin seemed to know what his role in all of this was: Play the clown, mug for the cameras, enjoy the ride as long as it lasts. I was surprised to see Bucky in the lowest three, although he was pretty terrible this week.

Meanwhile, over on ABC, "Lost" returned from another self-imposed hiatus with an episode that was mostly filler (but promised some interesting stuff for next week). Gazette video game reporter Terry Terrones weighs in:

Is it just me, or has "Lost" lost its mojo? I'm serious! Durings its
first season, I was just like Chris Rock in "New Jack City." I was an addict.

Now, I can't even remember the story line anymore because I have to wait a
month between new episodes.My wife, who is significantly smarter
than me so I believe pretty much everything she tells me, thinks the producers,
or ABC, are doing this on purpose. She thinks the protracted breaks create more
drama. Its a strategic move. She may have a point.

While it sure ticks me off that I have to wait between shows, just like everyone else, I'm
still tuning in. But I'm not completely sold on this idea. While I
am about as big a "Lost" fan as you'll ever find (I bought the Season 1 DVD
the day it came out), I'm losing my enthusiasm. Like most Americans,
I have short term memory issues and a need for instant gratification.

During the time the last new episode of "Lost" aired, the following events happened:
A new season of "The Sopranos" started, Bode Miller won 12 Olympic gold medals
in bobsledding and the last episode of "Friends" aired.

Okay, so maybe only one of those are true. Like I said...short term memory issues. So
here's my message to the head honchos over at ABC: "Get your
heads out of your collective butt and quit screwing with my favorite show. I
don't have the patience to wait 3 weeks for new episodes. One week, fine. Two
weeks, you're pushing it. Three weeks? Over the span of three weeks, if I don't
see something consistently, I forget just about everything including (but not
limited to) my debit c! ard pin number, my dogs name and what kind of car I
drive. Quit teasing us ABC! America just doesn't have the attention span. And
neither do I." Now if you'll excuse me, I forgot where I parked my

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tuesday recap

Best. Detour. Ever.

Breaking stunt wine bottles over their partner's heads (to the beat of a cuckoo clock) or dancing a little lederhosen jig. High comedy on "The Amazing Race."

And on "Idol," have you ever thought that the singers have to sound completely different in the studio than over the air? Ace again this week, plus I thought Elliott was subpar. To the judges, it obviously sounded differently. We'll see what the truth is on Wednesday.

Indecency on TV Talk

Not a lot of response to today's TV Talk on last week's FCC fining CBS for a "Without a Trace" episode, but I have gotten a couple of e-mails from "Trace" fans outraged that their show would be fined. I think it would be pretty funny if that grew into a real movement -- maybe the FCC would shy away from fining popular shows.

And does the lack of interest from readers mean that the whole indecency/Janet Jackson thing is simply yesterday's news? And if so, has anybody told FCC chair Kevin Martin?

UPDATE: Well, a few more comments have been rolling in. Got a couple of very thoughtful replies from parents who are undoubtably stricter than most, but both said that controlling what their kids watch is their responsibility, not the networks or the government. One mom said all she'd like is a little more control over commercials, so when her kids are watching parentally approved shows they don't get exposed to salacious ads. Doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Reality TV kills

Deeply weird and tragic story of the day, from MercoPress:

An 80-year-old woman died Sunday, bringing to eight the number of people
killed in a bizarre train accident during the shooting of a reality TV
program in western Uruguay, medical personnel said.

Seven people who were run over by the steam locomotive died at the scene,
and another person who saw the tragedy unfold suffered a fatal heart attack. A
dozen other victims were hospitalized with serious injuries, some with the loss
of limbs, according to police reports, and doctors said that the prognoses of at
least two of the victims were guarded.

Friday's accident happened during the shooting of an episode of the reality
TV show "Desafio al Corazon" (A Challenge to the Heart), in which communities
can perform certain tasks to raise money for a local charity.
In this episode, broadcast by Channel 10 in Montevideo, residents from Young, 320
kilometers (200 miles) northwest of the capital, had to push an old steam engine
and two attached cars to try and win $30,000.

Those responsible for shooting the scene had chosen more than 50 adults to push the train. But then the crowd of spectators who were watching the filming climbed over the security
barriers and ran onto the train tracks to try and get in on the act. At that
moment the train began moving and a number of people who had climbed over
the barriers - including women and children - were run over by the locomotive.

Friday, March 17, 2006

1080P - The P is for perfect!

After all the gobbledygook about my new TV in that last post, there may not be much of an audience for more HD-tech talk. But I'll dive in anyway.

All of those fancy plasma TV's, the super-duper SXRD DLP LCD LCoS projection screens? Yesterday's news.

Real videophiles these days are buying TV's that feature 1080p resolution. Television resolutions are expressed in terms of either "i' or "p." I stands for interlaced, which means the TV paints half of the lines on the screen in a split second, then turns around and colors in the other half. P is for progressive. That means the TV does the whole screen at once.

Your progressive scan DVD player, for instance, displays 480p. High definition TV on CBS, on the other hand, is in 1080i. High def over on Fox, on the other hand, comes through in 720p. All of those are better than regular TV, but none of them is as good as 1080p. Fans call it "full HD." At least theoretically, 1080p gives you one million more pixels than a regular HD TV.

So, say you go out and buy one of the latest TV sets: What can you watch in 1080p?

Ummm, nothing. Some aficionados say that computer displays look better on a 1080p TV, and others say they can tell the difference even on lesser content, but I can't.

However, the new Blu-ray DVD players -- coming out in a few more months from Samsung and Sony -- will display 1080p. So you've got that to look forward to (the competing HD DVD technology, called simply HD DVD, can also display 1080p, but I don't know what format the first releases will be in). One word of caution, though. Some TV's capable of displaying 1080p are not capable of accepting a 1080p input, like the Blu-Ray. Why? I have no idea.

And, BTW, my new TV? Not 1080p. It won't keep me awake at night, though.

Flat panel goodness

Last week I posted about my HDTV going on the fritz. It was one of the big, square CRT TV's, which is to say, it was just a souped-up version of the TV's that have been around for 50 years. The manufacturer said I had to return it rather than getting it fixed (which I would have been fine with). So, I ended up with $750 to put toward a new TV and a decision to make.

These days, you can get a pretty nice widescreen 32-inch LCD HDTV for just a little more than that $750. I would have been OK with that, but my wife (bless her heart) didn't want a smaller TV than the 32-inch CRT we took back -- if that's confusing, remember that a 32-inch widescreen becomes roughly a 25-inch TV once you box off the sides for regular 4:3 TV.

If we were going to get roughly the same size TV and get a widescreen and not totally blow the budget, we were left with two choices: A 42-inch plasma EDTV (ED means "not as good as HD"), or a 37-inch LCD flat screen. We could also have gotten a big CRT rear projection set, but I vetoed that because rear CRT projections are huge, ugly, unreliable and have poor picture quality.

I found an LCD that I liked and was in our price range, a Syntax Olevio. Not a name brand, but it's earned good reviews over on AVS Forum. But every store in the Front Range was out of stock, including all the ones who claimed they had it in stock.

Then I stumbled across the Emprex 3701P, which is even less of a brand name than Syntax. Plus the model was brand new, so there's no reliability history. However, it had better features than the Syntax and it was in our price range, so I took the plunge and ordered one (they seem to have raised the price by $600 since I did - score!).

Which brings us to last night, when I drove through some horrendous traffic to the DHL terminal in Englewood and picked up one extremely large box. I had about half an hour of panic after I got it set up because I could not for the life of me get the TV to power on. The set has a manual control panel on the top, in addition to the remote control, but neither one did squat. Only after reading the manual for the 10th time did I notice a reference to a "master power switch" down on one corner of the panel. I felt stupid, but at least I got it working in time to catch some of the NCAA Tournament in high-def.

So far, I'm very happy with it. The non-HD satellite channels look a little better than they did on the old TV (although still not as good as they do on a regular, low-def TV), and the high def comes through bright and clear.

Not to mention, it's 4 inches thick and looks like it came off the bridge of the Death Star.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Idol recap

Had to smile last night seeing Ace Young sweating it out in the final three. I mean, the guy ain't that great a singer and he's definitely not going to win, but he's so good-looking that just making it this far has probably done wonders for his career. His modeling career, most likely.

One of the coolest things about Idol is how the audience gets attached to these unlikely heroes (Scott Savol last time, Kevin Corvais this season), and ignores the bigger talents, or, in Ace's case, the more conventionally appealing contestants. Being a dark horse audience favorite never gets these guys to the finish line (except maybe Ruben Studdard), but hey, it's still probably one of the top moments of their entire life.

I was a little sorry to see Melissa go. She started out as one of the worst in the top 16, but she was also one of the few who seemed to be getting better instead of struggling as the show threw new material at them.

ABC goes all-in for on demand

Broadcasting and Cable is reporting that ABC will be doing a test in April in which the network will offer all of its primetime programming for free over the Internet eight hours after the shows air on the East Coast.

I think this is a great idea, although I have some qualms about the image quality on the Internet. But it underscores just how quickly the world is changing. It was just about a week ago that downloading TV shows to your iPod was the cool new thing. Now, ABC is cutting out the middleman.

If this sort of thing is really going to become the norm, someone needs to develop a dirt-simple Bluetooth or WiFi connection to send programs from your computer to your TV. You can do it now, but it's a hassle. Some people (mostly Microsoft, I think) believe that eventually we'll all have a separate computer just for entertainment hooked up to our TV's, but I think it's still going to be simpler to do your Internet browsing and downloading on a dedicated computer, then transmit it to the boob tube in the living room.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ghost Hunters

In yesterday's TV Talk, I was writing about some of my favorite non-HBO cable shows ("Battlestar Galactica," "Flip This House" and "Survivorman" were the examples I came up with). One that should have been on the list is Sci-Fi's "Ghost Hunters," which I became a fan of last season.

This year, though, my wife got the first season on DVD from Netflix and now she's watching like two episodes a day, including one in the morning while she's on the treadmill. Which, if you ask me, is a little weird.

Any other "Ghost Hunters" fanatics out there?

Search on for sexy architect

The New York Daily News on the search for ABC's next "Bachelor":

Casting agents for the show have been approaching architectural firms
across the country "searching for a 27- to 33-year-old single, handsome,
successful, charismatic guy who would like to be whisked away to an exotic,
tropical location dating 25 beautiful girls."

But with a pool of architects — notoriously cheap, arrogant and
generally terrible dates, if not altogether gay — as bait, will gals actually
bite? It's a move that gives even some architects a good laugh.

(hat tip: TV Tattle)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


What's with all the people who can't swim on "The Amazing Race"? I've never seen such a bawling bunch of buoyant babies.

And what's going on with the dentist getting all pissy when he found out they were going to Moscow: "Hi there! I'm Dr. Dumbass and I didn't know there would be travel involved with 'The Amazing Race.'"

Some nights you just have to thank goodness for Netflix.

Guest post from Go editor Warren Epstein

Sheila Monahan, a Gazette ad services worker and "Sopranos" fanatic thought she was prepared for the big opening episode. She'd recently signed up for the Dish Network, and got a PVR, so recording would be easy. Her fiance set it to record so they could watch when the kids went to bed. Then, they snuggled up in the couch, ready to rejoin the Soprano family -- but they knew something was wrong when Tony started talking Spanish.

They accidentally recorded HBO Spanish.


Good thing one of her HBOs repeated it later that night. ... in English.

And a few thoughts on "24"...

We're in danger of losing Joanna Bean, a deputy features editor, from our morning "24" clatch. Last night's episode was just too bleak for her. Too many twitching bodies spewing white fluid. The rest of us are urging her to stick with it -- we're like junkies afraid of losing one of our fellow users.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Yet more Idol

The TV Guide Channel is rushing to fill the void left in each of our lives by being limited to only three "American Idol" episodes a week. It's starting -- and I am in no way making this up -- an hourlong pre-Idol show (which should air at 5 p.m. local time, although I'm unclear whether it's starting tonight). Yay! Interviews with castaways, coaches and, um janitors, I'm guessing, will prime audiences to flip over to Fox and, um, watch the actual show. Don't miss a minute!

Speaking of cable goodness

The TV was set to HGTV tonight, as it usually is when my wife beats me home, and we stumbled across "House Hunters International." Which is kind of a cool concept. The original "House Hunters" shows families evaluating a trio of new homes and lets viewers guess which one they'll end up buying. It sounds dumb, but it's actually mild fun. The International version takes us, in Monday's episode, to San Paulo, Brazil, to do the same thing. It's a different look inside a different culture using a familiar formula. Cool.

Cable goodness

With "The Sopranos" kicking off its penultimate season Sunday night, I was thinking that people will be paying more attention to cable for the near future. With that in mind, I'm writing my TV Talk for tomorrow about a few other must-see programs scattered around the cable dial. The Science Channel's "Survivorman" (right), A&E's "Flip This House" and Sci-Fi's "Battlestar Galactica" were the first ones to come to mind -- although I'm excluding all the other great HBO shows ("Entourage," "Deadwood," and "The Wire").

Anybody have a favorite I'm missing?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Blown away

KKTV/Channel 11's David Nancarrow is having a struggle getting into Iraq. The latest problem is a Lawrence of Arabia-worthy sandstorm. Read the details over on his reporter's notebook:

Ding dong the witch is dead

The worst sitcom in recent memory to last more than a season (I'm excluding "According to Jim," which is utterly devoid of the "com" part of the deal) was just consigned to the ash heap of history. Farewell "Joey." And good riddance.

Thursday night thoughts

Interesting "Survivor" last night -- I don't think I've ever seen anyone go that quietly.

Actually caught part of "The OC" for the first time in ages, too. Ryan and Marissa breaking up... again. I'll check back in another couple of years to see if anything's changed.

I was a little sad to see Gedeon go on "American Idol." That man has a smile that can be seen from space. I've got to root for Amish rocker Elliott now. And I've got to root against falsetto king Ace. He's obviously evil (whereas Taylor is just deeply misguided about his own sense of rhythm).

Thursday, March 09, 2006

One more

For Tuesday's TV Talk, I did a roundup of the latest crop of midseason shows. However, I missed one. NBC's "Teachers" will premiere at 8:30 p.m. March 28. I knew NBC had ordered the show, but I hadn't gotten a screener or been able to find an airtime.

Well, those are both now in hand so here's a mini-review: "Teachers" is a by-the-numbers sitcom about a rebellious high school teacher and a motley crew of instructors. Destined to be short-lived, but likably dumb.

Radio news

Just learned a couple of interesting changes coming up in Colorado Springs radio.

Henry Tippie (right), the GM at country station KKCS (104.5) is headed to Salem Communications, which runs Christian contemporary station KBIQ (102.7 FM), Christian talker KGFT (100.7 FM) and news talk KZNT (1460 AM). Former Salem GM Phil Lewis left in December. Tippie used to work at the Gazette (before my time) as VP of sales and was GM at KKLI (106.3 FM) before that.

Meanwhile, longtime local radio honcho Bob Gourley, the GM for Clear Channel's four local stations -- country KCCY (96.9 FM), hip hop KIBT (96.1 FM), adult contemporary KKLI (106.3 FM) and KVUU (99.9 FM) -- is retiring at the end of the month. He'll be replaced by the cluster's operations manager Bob Richards, who used to be the program director at Denver rock station KBPI (106.7 FM). It's kinda interesting because GM's usually come from the sales and business side, not the programming side. Gourley was the GM at KKCS for 12 years before switching to Capstar, which later became Clear Channel.

If you can follow the interlocking maze of call letters and companies there, you'll understand that the local radio world is often a small place.

Decisions, decisions

So my TV, my HDTV, is going on the fritz. Every once in a while, the reds will vanish from part of the screen and everything will go green. Turning the set off and on or banging the back usually seems to fix it. The good news is that it's under warranty. The bad news is that the warranty runs out in six more days.

This was supposed to be an introductory HD set -- you know, the one you move to the bedroom when you get something better. And it's a godawful heavy tube set, which means two things: One, it's huge and I don't want to have to lug it back to the store, and two, it has a really great picture. When it's not green.

I did a little Internet research, apparently it's a common problem with these models (which, of course, aren't made anymore).

So, I could live with it, but I'd probably end up with a green TV set in the near future. Most likely, I'll take it back and exchange it for a different TV.

I could run around and find another TV set for about the same money that I could live with -- that would likely be a slightly smaller LCD HDTV monitor, which would make a worse primary set, but a better bedroom set once I upgrade the living room TV. Or, I could go ahead and get the big LCD or plasma screen now. Assuming I could convince the wife to spend the extra money.

What would you do?

Speaking of overseas assignments

A buddy of mine just got sent to Afghanistan. They assigned him to Forward Operating Base Tombstone.

Seriously, Tombstone.

I guess the Army just wants everyone to have a warm feelings when they come home at night.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Nancarrow in Kuwait

KKTV/Channel 11's David Nancarrow is in Kuwait, working his way to Baghdad, where he'll spend a month reporting on the war in Iraq. You can follow his progress on his blog at the KKTV Web page,

Unwelcome news

So I was watching "Scrubs" last night and my wife leans over and says, "You know, I haven't laughed once at this." At Scrubs! And I married this woman. Sure, tuning in every week might be an acquired taste, but I think anyone who catches even two minutes would laugh at least once. I guess it's not as bad as not laughing at say, "The Office," but still...

I was sorry to see the Glamazons go on "The Amazing Race" last night. The nerds are my favorites now, but I think the smart money might be on the hippies.

And has anyone else had this thought about "Idol": Every time I think somebody sang really poorly, the judges are just full of praise. And sometimes the other way round. Do you think the sound is totally different in the studio than it is over the TV? That's the only thing I can think of.

Kellie "I've never eaten calamari or Top Ramen" Pickler is who I'm thinking of from last night, but it's happened a bunch of times this season.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Second guessing the Oscars

It's always interesting to read how different people's perceptions of the Oscars are. I remember a few critics thinking Steve Martin was good, for instance. Bizarre.

Anyway, today is filled with columns by people who hated Jon Stewart. Of course one of them, the Washington Post's Tom Shales no less, had this to say about the Robert Altman tribute:

"... Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin did a masterly, breathless impression of a film by special honoree Robert Altman, replete with overlapping dialogue, half-finished thoughts and constant interruptions. This was a piece of presentation that must have taken weeks to master in rehearsal; it was a double virtuoso performance."

He was clearly three sheets to the wind when he wrote that. Even Streep and Tomlin knew they were bombing and even joked about it. I have to think these guys had their minds made up before they actually watched the show.

Or maybe I'm way off here?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oscars liveblog

Welcome to the official, 1/78th annual Gazette liveblog of the Academy Awards. Remember, it's a honor just to be blogged about.

In the intro, it’s all movie scenes except for Clint Eastwood chilling in a polo shirt. Wassup witdat?

Good gag with the host intros. Got the first Brokeback joke out of the way right off the bat.

So to start the running total, Brokeback jokes 1.

And George Clooney is so cool, he's even cool in bed with Jon Stewart.

Some people said Stewart wouldn’t get the whole vibe of the Oscars. That it’s supposed to be a homecoming, a family reunion. Right off the bat, I’d say he gets that better than anyone in years.

Capote is the film that broke stereotypes. Not all gay people are virile cowboys. Some are effete New York intellectuals.

Brokeback jokes - 2

"The elephant in the room, the movie that everybody was talking about this year, "Brokeback Mountain."
There were a lot of gay themes this year, the boxing movie was called "Cinderella Man."

Brokeback jokes -3, 4 with the Western montage. By the way, Google "Brokeback to the Future," if you haven't seen it yet. "The Empire Strikes Brokeback" is good, too.

Does Nicole Kidman age? I mean good God, look at her. That's amazing.

Supporting actor: George Clooney- "Alright, so I'm not winning director." Great line. Great, feel good Hollywood speech. "I'm proud to be out of touch." -- Conservative pundits should have fun with that tomorrow.

Ooh, it's visual effects. The Oscar for movies people have actually seen. Funny Ben Stiller intro with him in a green suit emphatically not doing a green screen shot. It occurrs to me, watching the clips, that special effects are overwhelmingly used to create violence. Talk amongst yourselves. Oh, King Kong wins. Nice of the special effects guys to give props to Andy Serkis, the guy behind the monkey.

Animated feature. "Howl's Moving Castle" better win. Mizyaki is a freekin' genius. "Wallace and Gromit" wins though. If you haven't seen the original "Wallace" shorts, go rent them. They're actually better than the feature film. The guys also brought leeeetle tiny ties for their Oscars. Got to love people who bring their own props.

First song. And what the hey is Naomi Watts wearing? Dolly Parton is starting to look a little like Cher. Hmmm.
I just noticed Jen is posting in comments. Maybe I'll slow down so she can get a word in edgewise.

Jen -- "I was a little surprised by the george clooney win. thought paul giamatti would win to kiss and make up for last year's "sideways" loss.ben stiller making me laugh with the "this is blowing spielberg's mind."

"Okay, what's with all the women in their pale, white dresses? they're pretty and all, but not standing out much to me. we need some color, girls! and dolly parton! rock on sister."

Live action short - Six Shooter.

Jen - "Love the Wilson brothers."

Animated short - "The Moon and the Sun."

Jen - "Cartoon characters giving awards don't amuse me. Bathroom break time for the stars!!! Let's see a shot of the audience right about now."

Costume design - Could Jennifer Aniston sound less excited to be here? "Memoirs of a Geisha" wins. After Reese Witherspoon winning best actress, least surprising win of the night.

Jen- "Oooh, I'm kind of enjoying Jennifer Aniston's necklace. Though the hair? Not so much. Where's the Pitt/Jolie shot?"

Will Ferrell and Steve Carrell, probably funny in their sleep.

Make-up - "Chronicles of Narnia's" first win. It'll be interesting to see how many of the technical awards that one racks up.

Jen: Did I miss why Will Ferrel's face is orange? Spray tan debacle perhaps?

Keep up with us here Jen. No bathroom breaks for you.

Technical awards - OK, now you can take that bathroom break, Jen.
Presented by Rachel McAdams. Or, as Stewart said, "The very clothed Rachel McAdams."

Is Morgan Freeman so cool he doesn't have to wear a tie? I say no. Samuel L. Jackson, yes, Morgan Freeman, Jamie Foxx, no.

Jen: Ah, the cheap shot at Russell Crowe. Had to happen at some point, right?

Jen: I don't mean to be Negative Nelly, but what's with Rachel McAdams' dress? The color totally is clashing with her hair.

Supporting actress - Love Francis McDormand, don't love her picking her nose. Rachel Weisz wins. How'd she get ignored for "The Mummy"? That movie was pure gold. First word out of her mouth, I could've sworn she was going to ramble. But no.

Jen: Rachel Weisz wins. Totally expected. She looks fabulous! Me likey her dress and her hair and her accent.

Jen: Okay, what is Lauren Bacall talking about? Did the prompter go on the fritz or what?

Stephen Colbert guest voice overs. Awesome! "Acting while beautiful!" Good stuff. Rest of the bit, not so much.
Documentary short subject - Hey, I've actually seen "God Sleeps in Rwanda." Go figure that. "A Note of Triumph" wins, though. Got to be the best thank you of the night, though: "I'd like to thank the Academy for seating me next to George Clooney at the nominees luncheon." I have no idea who she is, unfortunately.

Jen: wish I had heard of any of these movies, terrence howard. wine break!!!!

Jen: wish I had heard of any of these movies, terrence howard. wine break!!!!

Jen: Charlize!!! WHAT is on your left shoulder?? bjork called. she wants her swan back.

Best documentary - I've seen "March of the Penguins," too. I must be like a cinemaphile or something. "Penguins" winning is right up there with Witherspoon.
"Eet means dank you in penguin." For those who don't know, the original French version of "Penguins" featured talking penguins and a techno score. Take a moment right now to thank Morgan Freeman for narrating the American version.

Jen: AWWWW!!! stuffed penguin dolls! how cute is that? and penguin speak? I love men who aren't afraid to speak softly and carry a stuffed animal. yay luc and yves!

Jen: Why oh why is jennifer lopez a presenter? and where's her scary skeletor hubby? Who's her hubby? I cannot keep up with this stuff. I'm still stuck on Bennifer and Bradgelina.

Jen: Andy, you need to keep up with your celebrity hook-ups and mangled relationships. come on, man.

Hate the song, love the burning car on the stage. Usually, you have to drive all the way to Compton to see that.

Jen: is this like performance art or something? I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Jen: oh my god! the stage is on fire! run for the exits celebrities!

How long have we gone without a Brokeback joke now? I'm feeling deprived.

Art direction - Is this a real category? Is this like cinematography or something? Gee, wonder why Keanu isn't doing any of the talking. Oh yeah, he has the personality of a post. "Geisha" wins. Don't care.

Jen: I'm lobbying right now for a new Keanu Reeves movie. I forgot that Keanu and Sandra were in Speed way back in the day. they have zero chemistry on stage. did keanu also get attacked in a spray tan booth or what?

He jumped in with Will Ferrell.

See? Samuel L. Jackson is so cool, he knows how cool it is to wear a tie. He can even wear a button-down collar and make it look dressy.

Ugh, they've got the president of the Academy on. My attention is so flagging. If I didn't have to crank out a 20-inch story about the show, I'd be making a two-fisted beer run right about now. He's talking about how great it is to see a movie in the theater. I guess he wasn't at the same "March of the Penguins" screening as me, with the 200 screaming children.

Jen: who here knows who this sid the president guy is? who here cares? okay, self-congratulatory hollywood, let's do a real award okay? getting a little bored here.

Jen: hey, sid sounds worried about the noted decrease in people actually going to movies. there goes his 50 billion paycheck. poor guy.

Salma Hayek. Once again, proof positive of a beneficent diety. They should give her an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement in hotness.

Jen: Okay! now we're talking. salma hayek's dress is beautiful! love the color, love the hair! go frida!

Original score - Brokeback.

Jen: ha ha, andy. Lifetime achievement in hotness. you funny!

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week.

So it's "Jake Jillenhall, not "Jake Gillenhall"? Glad we cleared that up. Might want to practice that speech a little next time, buddy.

Jen: I love jake and his cute crooked bowtie.

Jen: I have no idea what this 43,879th montage of films is supposed to represent. could they fill any more time?

Jen: perhaps another lifetime achievement award for hotness for jessica alba, andy? she deserves it, too.

No way. Salma would never forgive me if I were untrue. Going totally stalker now...

Sound - King Kong.

Jen: LOVE that jon stewart is on the same page as me re: film montages.

Jen: Meryl's dress is beautiful. can I please look like her in my 50s? thanks. but this little comedic bit is getting oooooold wrap it up, ladies

Ooh more clips! Yay. I thought Robert Altman got the lifetime achievement award like 20 years ago.

Jen: is altman making any new movies right now? from those clips, I might want to rent nashville. looks intriguing. awww... I think I like this guy. heart transplant? who knew?!

Jen: That M. Night Shamalamadingdong commercial was da bomb! loved it.

"Ladies and gentlemen, our next presenter is a very, very famous performer. You don't know him." Love that.

"It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" starts off right, with a bleeped word.

And then it goes out and wins! Great moment. Maybe the first really surprising moment of the night.

Jen: The use of the word "pimp" in this year's Oscars has to be some sort of record.

Jen: Pimps are the new black, don't you know. get with the times, andy, you big pimpdaddy.

Sound editing - Didn't we already give out this award? Could have sworn...

Jen: oh jennifer garner! she's gonna be living that down all night long. she recovered graciously, though.

It's always sad when there's just this tepid, perfunctory applause in the "In Memoriam" section. Even Anne Bancroft and Richard Pryor couldn't get the crowd to generate a little enthusiasm for the dearly departed.

Jen: Totally. It's always disturbing to me when some dead people get more applause than others. even in the afterlife, it's a popularity contest.

Foreign language film - Tsotsi. That South Africa director is pushy man! Take a deep breadth dude.

Ziyi Zhang is giving Salma a run for her money tonight. She's sort of, what's the word? Luminous. I just missed the category she was presenting. Oh, editing. Crash's first award of the night, if I'm not mistaken.

Jen: this geisha girl's dress is sparkly and pretty. nicely played, girl whose name I don't know.

Jen: I must say, I am enjoying the jon stewart hosting this year.

Jen: Hi Hilary. The women in Hollywood are thankful you didn't make a movie this year.

Best actor. We're finally down to the good stuff. Hoffman wins. No shocker, he was the one who was due this year. I feel a little bit bad for Terrence Howard, but the sleeper wasn't going to happen this year. Really disjointed speech -- complete with Van Morrison reference and rambling tribute to mom.

Jen: no shock. forgot he was in one of my favs - "boogie nights." he's come quite a way, eh? I love him, he's always amazing in every role, no matter how big or small. totally deserves this.

Cinematography - Geisha again. It's really the surprise winner of the night. I think that's its fourth?

Best actress - Witherspoon. In other news, the sun rose this morning and you've got taxes due in another month.

Jen: And best actress is........ Reese! as predicted. she doesn't look shocked either. give us a memorable speech, girl. you've had plenty of time to perfect it. enough with the "I'm just a down home girl from tennessee." is joaquin bitter, do you think? yay, she thanked june carter cash and her leading man. good for her. uh oh, don't pull a hilary swank and forget the hubby. okay, good, she got him in. oh, this is a good speech. good job, reese!

p.s. felicity huffman looked bee-yooo-tee-full just sitting in her seat next to awesome hubby william h. macy.

Why are the winners of the two biggest acting awards giving the worst speeches of the night? Couldn't find a writer for the night?

Jen: Hey, I liked her speech, wineke! and I'm also liking hoffman here.

Best adapted screenplay - Hoffman rambles about "Great work, people who didn't win." Focus man! "Brokeback" wins. Yawn.

Jen: Okay, so Larry McMurtry thanked his typewriter at the golden globes. this time he thanked his lawyers. whatevs.

Jen: and another bland whitish dress worn by uma. do love her hair and makeup, though. I'm thinking "brokeback" for best picture. anybody else?

Original screenplay - Crash.

Directing - Finally! Crash or Brokeback? This is one of the few that is really up in the air.

Jen: Tom Hanks looks old and angry to me. Brokeback Mountain is taking it home tonight. Go Ang! He's such a cutie patootie.

Ang Lee wins it. "I wish I knew how to quit you." Not as bad as James Cameron's "I'm the King of the World," but darn close. The speech is a little too practiced, Ang.

Best picture. Wow are they whipping though these things tonight. Crash pulls this one out.

Jen: Wow!!!!!! Total shock!!!!!! I really thought jack nicholson was going to say Just Kidding, Brokeback Mountain!

Jen: and amazingly it's only 9:30 and it's alll over but the crying.

There we are. Thanks for playing along and reading this behemoth post. Catch up with other thoughts tomorrow.

Jen: good job, andykins. good night and good luck....

Red carpet

It's 3:30 and Joan Rivers and daughter Melissa are already doing the red carpet on TV Guide channel. Which is to say, it's one of those rare times I'm looking for a little more Ryan Seacrest (who's doing the competing carpet show over on E!).

Joan was just holding up cards comparing the size of Terri 's ("Tsotsi," best foreign language film) breasts. It's going to be a loooong night.

For anyone on the computer instead of enjoying the sunshine, the Gazette's Jen Mulson and I will be doing some live commentary during the show tonight. Tune in, or, better yet, pour yourself a glass of wine and watch the show, then read the recap tomorrow.

UPDATE 4 P.M. - Isaac Mizrahi is doing the carpet for E!. Do you think E! has somebody standing by with a stun gun in case he goes for another boob grab tonight?

UPDATE 4:30 P.M. - By the way, the folks up in Denver are already getting the official ABC red carpet report. But, hey, at least we've got Jon Karroll in a tux.

Gary Busey is telling unintelligible jokes on TV Guide. Lord save us all.

I'm also getting a good kick out of TV Guide's "Wal-Mart Fashion Cam." Yeah, I'm pretty sure Keira Knightley hit up Wally World for a little last-minute bling on the way to the show.

Also, I'm wondering, Ryan Seacrest. He's got "Idol," the radio show, does he still have a talk show? Does he sleep?

Joan Rivers, word of advice: This is your job, maybe you should, oh I don't know, know what the heck you're talking about. And don't suck: "I think you're going to go home with a little golden man who is not Jackie Chan."

George Clooney, on the other hand, is mucho suave. "I've got like three or four tux jackets and a pair of pants. I just grabbed something."

UPDATE 5:30 P.M. - Ahhh, E! is ending its red carpet coverage. I can give my remote control thumb a break. Getting some tendonitis there.

And Reese Witherspoon is much more interesting on screen than in person. I guess they can't all be Gary Busey.

Felicity Huffman ("Transamerica") is by far the most excited just to be there. She tears up when they played a clip from her "Housewives" co-stars. It's so cute.

David Strathairn ("Good Night and Good Luck") on the other hand, is the epitome of a working actor. He looks like he punched a timeclock on the way down the red carpet. There's something a little moving about that, too.

Billy Bush to Academy president Sid Ganis: "What can we expect tonight?"
Ganis: "It's going to be a great show, a great show."
Bush: "Thank you very much."
Even by vapid Oscar standards, that's what you might call shallow.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Office

Is it wrong that I found Dwight's Mussolini speech so completely funny?

I hope not.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


It's days like this that make me glad I'm a TV writer instead of doing something useful with my life.

Because today HBO sent me the first four episodes of the penultimate "Sopranos" season. My fingers are twitching to get it in the DVD player.

No, you can't borrow them. Wait until March 12 and be thankful you didn't cancel your HBO subscription (you didn't cancel your HBO subscription, did you?).

Check back, I'll drop some hints and probably gloat some more.

UPDATE: The first episode ends on a very intense note. Very. Don't miss it. The second episode is much slower, but intriguing. It plays off the events at the end of the first episode. Third episode is all about family dynamics. There's a lot of interesting stuff set in motion. And Christopher returns to the film biz with a sure-fire premise that's just hilarious. Episode four has some weird moralistic stuff and societal commentary that feels totally tacked on: Creationism, evolution, rap, healthcare. But there's also a lot of family business. Plus Paulie and Bobby plotlines that each go totally haywire! I'm sure you can't wait -- but you will, until April 2. Sorry.

Lost recap

Can I just say how pissed I am at the way that ended? The baby is obviously infected with whatever the infection is. The writers have boxed themselves into a corner on that one and little Aaron will obviously need a miraculous cure at some point. So given that, the way to end the episode is with the baby's eyes turning black or evil little cells pulsing inside his cute little veins, or something. You don't just play happy music and go on your way. Not to mention: Evil baby = super creepy.

And Locke throwing a tizzy after the prisoner accuses him of being a flunky? That's so out of character.

So really, the whole plot blew this week.

The only good parts were the costumes and make-up the Others left behind (you have to wonder why they cleared out everything except a locker full of Scooby Doo-sized clues, but... don't think too much).

I get a real kick out of the idea that the Others are all living in beachfront condos on the other side of the island, sipping mai tais and watching March Madness on satellite. That's good stuff.