Monday, December 08, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: Tom Jane

The Punisher: War Zone opened this weekend to a disappointing $4 million. It stars Ray Stevenson as the title character. This is the third Punisher movie, and from what I've read, none have been satisfactory to die hard fans of the comic book upon which the movies are based. I wouldn't know. I did see the second version with Tom Jane and John Travolta as the bad guy. It's not great, but the plot does center around some good old fashioned righteous vengeance.

Jane is probably best known for his roll in Deep Blue Sea, an awful film about really smart sharks that go about killing the workers of an underwater marine lab one by one. Rest assured it is not for that movie that Jane is being awarded John's Entertainment News Entertainer of the Month of December. Rather, it is for his appearance on Arrested Development where he played himself, seen below (2:45).

And don't forget to vote early and often for January's Entertainer of the Month. All the entertainers in the running were born in the month of January.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: Rich Eisen

November's Entertainer of the Month is former ESPN anchor and current NFL Network talking head Rich Eisen. Before I explain the selection, allow me to give some relevant background information. First, I am a sports fan, but a selective one. I follow a lot of different sports, but for many of them I only sit down and watch during the playoffs. Professional football falls into this category. I'm really big into college football and after wasting large portions of my Saturdays watching it, there isn't much time left over for the NFL on Sundays. So instead I watch the 90-minute NFL GameDay Final on NFL Network. It's hosted by Rich Eisen, Deion Sanders and Steve Mariucci. Eisen is capable; Sanders, surprisingly, is not as annoying as you might expect; and Mariucci is professional. So if Eisen is only "capable," why is he being honored here today? Simply put: he is not Chris Berman. Before I got access to the NFL Network, I was forced to get my NFL highlights from SportsCenter which unveils its weekly game recaps by way of countless bad puns from legendary buffoon Chris Berman. He's been at ESPN since the beginning and let me tell you, his shtick has worn tired. So congratulations Rich Eisen for being a palatable alternative to Chris Berman. You are John's Entertainment News Web Log's Entertainer of Month.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I Knew It!

I always suspected there was something fishy about certain Olympic events. Here's a clip (2:18) from last night's 30 Rock:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: Mike White

October's Entertainer of the Month is actor/writer/producer Mike White. Most of you probably recognize him as Jack Black's roommate Ned Schneebly in School of Rock, but did you know he also wrote the film's screenplay, despite not being a fan of rock music. He was also wrote the screenplay for Orange County, another Jack Black comedy that largely went unnoticed a few years back. Black is over the top, as usual, but my favorite scenes, including some bonus scenes from the DVD, feature White as a high school English teacher. See below (3:23).

Next up for White is the comedy Smother starring Diane Keaton and Liv Tyler.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Not to Mention the Hypotenuse

Telly and James Blunt together at last.

I especially like the slow motion dance sequences. Also, since I have nobody else in mind, I might as well declare James Blunt Entertainer of the Month while I'm at it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Olympic Recap

I know it's been a while since I posted, but I've been on vacation. My trip ended two weeks ago, but my vacation ended yesterday.

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad just came to a close, to borrow from yearbooks everywhere, what a wild ride it's been. Below are my thoughts and observations in no real organized order.

The Rivalry: In many ways the Olympics peaked in 1988 when we saw the last Olympiad before communism fell. That year the United States finished third in the medal count behind the Soviet Union and East Germany. Four years later the US was second behind the Unified Team, but with the cold war over it was clear the US would no longer be the underdog in the Olympics. Now it seems that the Americans are the favorite in every event, at least among the few events NBC shows. I miss the Soviets and East Germans, who played the part of the bad guy so well, better than Notre Dame, the Lakers, the Yankees, the Cowboys or the Patriots. Even the Australian swimmers seemed less formidable than in previous Olympics. In fact, I was sad to hear that Ian Thorpe had retired, because I loved to root against him. A huge part of being a sports fan is rooting for the underdog, and in today's Olympics the underdog is rarely wearing the stars and stripes. That's why I'm not ashamed to admit rooting for a few athletes from other countries, even when their events featured Americans. Consider Kirsty Coventry, the swimmer from Zimbabwe who has now won seven of her country's eight medals ever. When she brought home a gold medal in 2004, her war-torn country observed a few days of peace in her honor. While it would be wrong of me to claim that medals mean more to some athletes than others, it is clear that gold medals can mean more to some countries than others. (Trivia: The United States has won 2,514 medals in the history of the Olympics). A lot of times it's national heroes versus millionaires. I do not mean to sound unpatriotic, but I do long for a viable rival, and it would now appear that China is just the country to step in to that roll. When the dust settled, the US had claimed the overall medal crown (110-100), but China won more gold medals (51-36). I'm excited to see what both countries can do at a neutral site in 2012.

Volleyball: What a year to be fan of the American Volleyball with double gold in beach volleyball and a gold and silver on the court. I was especially in to Rogers & Dalhausser. May and Walsh were good too, but it's kind of hard to take the women's beach game seriously with those uniforms. The men's hard court team had an amazing run to the gold, although Sherstin didn't like watching them because while at BYU she had a roommate who was dating Rich Lambourne, the US libero. We won't go into more details than that.

Michael Phelps: Congratulations are in order for Mr. Phelps, his coach and his mother. Most of all, however, congratulations are in order for NBC, which is happier than anyone else the way the swimming competition turned out. In fact, the way they hyped up the story detracted somewhat from the moment. Anything less than 8 golds would have been a failure so when he succeeded, the accomplishment was a little diminished, at least from a spectator's point of view.

Gymnastics: I hate gymnastics. I suppose it was inevitable that, considering how much of it NBC had jammed down my throat, I would eventually gag on it. I can even trace it back to the specific moment I vomited: The 1996 Gymastic Gala when Alexei Nemov took off his shirt to do a pummel horse routine set to Snap's "I've Got the Power." Since then I have refused to watch any gymnastics. This year was no exception. So my only comment on the 2008 gymnastic competition is Nastia Liukin has a funny name.

Usain Bolt: Jamaica has emerged as a viable rival for the US in sprinting. In the six sprint events (Men's and Women's 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay), Jamaica came away with five gold medals, a silver and two bronze. The US managed zero gold, two silver, two bronze and two dropped batons. The Jamaican grabbing all the headlines was Usain Bolt who set the world record in both the 100m and 200m. That guy is just plain fun to watch.

Baseball & Softball: For the foreseeable future, both of these sports will no longer be a part of the Olympics and I can't say that I'm disappointed. Softball's out because of US domination, which is rather ironic considering Japan snuck away with the gold. And Olympic baseball is a joke. The United States—you know, the country that invented baseball—always sends a bunch minor leaguers who can't cut it against the Cubans or Koreans. I will say this, while they're at it, there are plenty of other sports that don't belong in the Olympics either, mainly equestrian, sailing, trampoline, synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics or any event where gobs of makeup are worn (cough-gymnastics-cough). I do not in any way discount the skill and dedication required to compete in these events, but you don't see billiards, darts, Nascar or cheer leading in the Olympics either.

The Coverage: If you couldn't tell by now, I'll go a head say that I think NBC's coverage was poor, despite what the ratings might suggest. Most of my complaints are centered on the live vs. tape delay. I get that NBC paid a billion dollars for the rights and they have to save the marquee events for prime time. While I would have liked to see more stuff live, my bigger problem is NBC showing highlights of certain events and then showing those events later. Similarly, NBC often showed matches out of order. If I'm watching the a beach volleyball semi-final where the announcers are saying that the winner will take on Team X, you can't follow that match up with Team X playing Team Y in the other semi-final and expect me to watch. Worst of all, however, were the ill-timed commercial breaks. I don't know how many times I was watching a tape-delayed soccer game that had a goal scored during a commercial break. Can someone explain the logic behind that? If it's tape delayed, you can pause the broadcast for a commercial break.

In the talking heads department, my award for worst announcer of the games is a tie between soccer's Marcelo Balboa, who talks in second person more than any announcer ever, and track & field's Ato Bolden who thinks we tune in to the Olympics just to hear him talk (check out his piece-of-crap web site where he, not surprisingly, talks about how great he is).

All that negative ranting aside, I love the Olympics and look forward to 2010 (Vancouver), 2012 (London), 2014 (Sochi, Russia) and 2016 (Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro or Tokyo).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On Vacation

All Entertainment News editors and writers are on vacation, but we will return in August with the Second Annual Entertainment News Soccer Week Presented by Sconefest.

Revisit last year's Soccer Week here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: John Hurt

I have designated these past few moths of 2008 "The Summer of Hurt" and specifically July as the month of Hurt—John Hurt—as he is the Entertainment News Entertainer of month. This honor, comes not only after a long distinguished film career, but also after a summer of appearances in blockbuster sequels. If you weren't paying attention, you might have missed him in both Indiana Jones IV as Professor Harold "Ox" Oxley and Hellboy II as Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm. Professor Ox Broom also appeared in V for Vendetta, Contact, King Ralph, and Lord of the Rings, sort of. He was the voice of Aragorn the 1978 animated version. Another movie you might recognize him from is Alien. He was the guy that had the alien burst out of his stomach, a scene he recreated a few years later in Space Balls. A movie you probably won't recognize him from is 1980's The Elephant Man in which he played the famous John Merrick. His versatility is best summed up by his gushing, obviously fan-written biography from
Britain's superbly eccentric import John Hurt is a perfect example of how huge, wondrous gifts can come in small, unadorned packages. His magnetic, often bedeviled portraits have touched the souls of filmgoers internationally for over four decades, and there seems to be no end to the depth of this man's talent. Stretching the boundaries every which way but loose, he continues to be a definitive textbook in in the art of acting metamorphosis.
Wow. Despite all that, to me John Hurt will always be the wand maker from Harry Potter. Allow me to explain. One talent (or curse, depending on how you look at it) I have is the ability to see an actor in a movie, TV show, or even a commercial and know almost immediately where I have seen him before. I'm sure my wife hates watching TV with me because I constantly recognize actors and point out where she has seen them, which is the other half of the game I play. It's not merely enough to know an actor's name. To win, I have to be able to provide a viable reference point for those around me. Which brings us to John Hurt. When we were first dating, Sherstin and I were watch A Man for All Seasons from 1966. It tells the courageous story of Sir Thomas More and how he opposed Henry VIII and his quest for a divorce. It also features a young John Hurt whom I recognized immediately. I said "That's the wand maker from Harry Potter." She was partially impressed and partially horrified that I would be able to connect the two. So to this day, anytime we're watching something with John Hurt I'm quick to point out that he's the wand maker from Harry Potter.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer TV

With the Olympics now less than a month away, I thought now would would be a good time to examine a little closer the TV of summer. What in recent years has become a dumping ground of bad reality TV and reruns, has actually produced quite a few new quality programming. Don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of reruns and bad reality TV if that's your thing. Below is a sample of shows currently airing that I recommend.

Burn Notice - Thursdays on USA: I just barely found this show. Its second season debuted last night, but I'm still catching up on Season 1. So far, it's pretty good. It's sort of a Magnum PI meets MacGuyver with some character elements borrowed from Undercover Blues and Gross Pointe Blank. The action is good. The story lines are compelling. The characters are a little over the top, but it's a fun show.

Ice Road Truckers - Sundays on History: I don't know why I like this show. Maybe it's the science that would allow several tons worth of trucks and cargo to drive across a frozen lake. Maybe it's the frequently bleeped truckers who are not phony like other reality TV characters, or maybe it's the way I use it to pretend to escape the Arizona heat. Just to put some perspective on things, at one point I was watching an episode and it was -47° where (and when) the truckers were and 113° here in Phoenix. That's a difference of 160 degrees, on the same planet.

In Plain Sight - Sundays on USA: This show is OK. It's about US Marshals working with people in the witness protection program in Albuquerque. The best part is Fred Weller as Marshall, the philosophical sidekick (yes his name is Marshall and he's a marshal).

Law & Order: Criminal Intent - Sundays on USA: If you haven't checked out Law & Order or any of its siblings, I can't really recommend jumping in now, but I still like Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren.

Psych - Fridays on USA: I love this show. It is really funny. It's about a super observant guy who pretends to be psychic and solves crimes. Watch it and count the obscure 80's references you see. Below is a commercial (1:00) for the Season 3 premiere which is next week.

I laughed out loud when I saw that, but my wife pointed out that those unfamiliar with the show might think it looks a little gay. The show's not though, I promise.

Wipeout - Tuesdays on ABC: Speaking of bad reality TV, this show is really stupid, but it makes me laugh. It's essentially an American version of Takeshi's Castle (Most Extreme Elimination Challenge from SpikeTV). I think the reason I like it is because the hosts (ESPN's John Anderson and some other dude) make fun of the contestants, who all seem to be incredibly annoying, shameless loud mouths. It's too bad one of them actually wins $50,000 at the end of each episode. At least I get to see most of them made fools of.

And if none of those shows interest you, as I mentioned, we have the Olympics starting in less than a month on 8/8/08, which as we all know is a lucky number in China.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

¡Viva España!

Since my occupation is essentially stay-at-home dad, I was able to watch the entire UEFA Euro 2008 tournament. Though I tend to root against European teams in international competition, it was still a fun little tournament and I got into it. To me, the big story had to be Turkey. Their three come from behind victories and narrow defeat at the hands of Germany provided for some very entertaining soccer. I also found a great deal of enjoyment watching the Netherlands destroy France and Italy in back-to-back games. The other major story was Spain's ability to finally win a major international tournament for the time in several decades. Truth be told, I found myself rooting for Germany in the final even though I dislike Jans Lehman, who essentially pulled a Rex Grossman as his team got to the finals despite his best efforts. I'm not disappointed that Spain won, it's just that I can't bring myself to root for teams with hair like this and Spain was third only to Italy and Czech Republic in that department (for those of you keeping score at home, Argentina is world champs of bad soccer hair).

The TV coverage was decent. Adrian Healy, Derek Rae, Tommy Smyth and Andy Gray are all solid broadcasters. I thought it was a little cheap on the part of ESPN, however, that none of them was actually in Europe. Rather, they just gave their commentary from the studio in Connecticut.

One final thought: it was interesting how good Brazil looked in this tournament. That is to say, the many Brazilian players who found loopholes to become eligible to play for these European countries looked good. It gets me all the more excited for the World Cup in Serth Efrica in 2010.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin: 1937-2008

Entertainment News bids farewell to actor/comedian George Carlin. Probably best known for his comedic routine "Seven Dirty Words," Carlin seemed to make a living out of pushing the envelope. There were, however, two notable exceptions: his role as Rufus on Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure in 1989 and his replacing Ringo Starr as Mr. Conductor on Shining Time Station in 1991.
On a smaller scale, Carlin also made a voice appearance on The Simpsons in 1998 as Munchie, Homer's mother's hippie friend. More recently, Carlin had been returning to his roots and doing stand up routines. Most of the clips available online contain language that is probably a bit too strong for the likes of a web log like this one, but below is a clip (5:36) of George on Letterman in 1997.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

More from the AFI

The last time the American Film Institute visited our home via the airwaves, it was sharing its list of the 100 Greatest American Films. Yesterday, the Institute returned, this time to rank the Top 10 movies from "10 Classic Genres." See the results here. There was nothing too surprising. Essentially they just took the top 100 films and separated them into genres. I find it hard to disagree too much with the Top 10 lists for Animation, Romantic Comedy, Western, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Gangster, Courtroom Drama, and Epic movies. My problems lie with the Sports and Fantasy categories. I admit I was a little confused by the qualifications for the Fantasy genre. It just seemed odd to me that Big and Lord of the Rings would be considered part of the same genre. And the sports list was populated with films that are barely even sports related. Since when is billiards a sport? Just because ESPN broadcasts it doesn't make it one, or poker and spelling bees would be considered sports. My only other comment on the 10 Top 10, would be that one of the "Classic Genres" should have been World Ward II movies. I would be interested in seeing a list of 20-25 definitive WWII films covering such topics as the European Theater, the Pacific Theater, prison camps and so forth.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: Jason Statham

Entertainment News' Entertainer of the Month of June is former Olympic diver and male model turned action movie star Jason Statham. You probably best know him as Handsome Rob from The Italian Job or as the title character in the Transporter movies, or perhaps as Bacon in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. No matter, Jason Statham is synonymous with movies that can be summed up in three words: Big Dumb Fun. As he himself once said, "You ain't ever gonna get an Academy Award for doing Crank and you certainly won't for doing all the other movies I've done." It's refreshing to see an actor who doesn't mind being type cast. Speaking of which, here is a little game I put together. Below are two columns. The first column contains 10 Jason Statham movies in order of their release. The second column has the taglines from the posters of those movies in random order. See if you can match them up correctly. Then check your answers here.
The Transporter
The Italian Job
Transporter 2
In the Name of the King
The Bank Job
Transporter 3
The true story of a heist gone wrong... in all the right ways.
Poison in his veins. Vengeance in his heart.
Rules are made to be broken
The best in the business is back in the game.
If the signal dies so does she.
One wants justice, the other wants revenge.
Stealin' Stones and Breakin' Bones
This time, the rules are the same. Except one.
Rise and fight
Steal the day
While playing that game, you might have said to yourself, "Hey, I don't remember seeing Transporter 3." Well, it doesn't come out until November (see the trailer below, 0:54), but it's one of many sequels Statham has in the pipeline including Crank 2: High Voltage and The Brazilian Job. Also watch for him later this year in Death Race, a remake of the 1975 Sylvester Stallone movie Death Race 2000 (Tagline: "In the year 2000 hit and run driving is no longer a felony. It's the national sport!"). So that should be fun.

So as long as there is a need for over-choreographed fight sequences to bridge the gap in movies between explosions and high-speed gun fights, there will always be a place in Hollywood for the likes of Jason Statham.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Let the Fiery Madness Begin

Euro 2008, the world's fourth most watched sporting event in any given four-year period (behind the World Cup, the Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, but ahead of the Super Bowl) is underway in Austria and Switzerland. Since I have no horse in the race, I will jump on Croatia's bandwagon because their team's anthem is "Fiery Madness" (seen below, 3:56) and it was written by their coach. I will have more comments on Euro 2008 at the tournament's conclusion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Revisiting the Archives

Entertainment News has unofficially been online for two years now, so I thought it would be prudent to go back and revisit some of the web log entries from the past and provide necessary updates and add further sarcastic commentary.

I summed up the 2006 FIFA World Cup Presented by Adidas and now it deserves some commentary since we are a little more than a week from Euro 2008. Think of it as a mini-world cup, or better, half of a world cup. Instead of 32 teams from around the world including half from Europe, we get 16 teams, all from Europe. In a related note, watch for the Second Annual Entertainment News Soccer Week in August right after Shark Week.

I wrote The Overlooked Sub-Genre after the release of 2006's straight-to-video Air Buddies, a distant sequel to 1997's Air Bud about a dog that plays basketball, which, believe it or not, was based on a true story. Things sort got away from actual events over the years and after Air Bud Spikes Back ("A dog that plays volleyball helps investigators solve a rash of mysterious crimes"), the producers branched out and went on to talking puppies and their crazy adventures. Recently released was Snow Buddies: "Disney's adorable talking puppies are back and this time they venture to the frosty arctic and team up with new friends in a thrilling dog sled race across Alaska. When the going gets tough the daring dogs have to band together with their new friends Talon and Shasta and muster up the courage to face the fur-raising challenges ahead. But will they have what it takes to win the race and find their way back home? Join the Buddies for more fun and more action in this all-new heartwarming film about the power of teamwork and following your dreams featuring the all-star voice talents of Dylan Sprouse (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody)." If that's not enough, later this year, we can expect to see Space Buddies. I don't know what it's about exactly, but based on the title it shouldn't be too hard to guess.

In The Best of Reality TV I spotlighted two contrasting TV shows. One was Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days which returns to FX June 3. Also look for Morgan's new movie Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden? coming soon to theaters or video or TV, I'm not really sure. Also in "The Best of Reality TV" I introduced people to Dog the Bounty Hunter, that crazy biker-looking dude who hunts down fugitives in the name of justice. I followed that up with the web log entry Dog Bites Own Foot where I talked about Dog's woes and the suspension of his show. However, I also predicted that he would be back and I was right. A&E has decided that Dog has been punished enough (Translation: we think we can get enough sponsors to buy ad space during his show) and Dog will be back on the air soon. However, if you just can't wait that long, you should check out Bounty Girls: Miami. Remember how I described Dog the Bounty Hunter as Cops but with the white trash doing the chasing? Well, Bounty Girls: Miami is essentially four female Dog the Bounty Hunters chasing fugitives. So I guess the show should be called Bitches the Bounty Huntresses.

I'm still looking for help in deciding what group or artist musically defines this decade.

The entry most in need of updating is Fletch Lives Again. It now appears that Gregory McDonald is out as director and Zach Braff will no longer play Fletch. Instead we're looking at perhaps Mighty Ducks and Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson as the title character, which of course is just plain retarded. Also in that I web log entry, I spotlighted the abundant female beauty of JD's many escapades on Scrubs. Since then, Season 7 went by and sadly no one can be added to that list. Sure the season was shortened by the strike, but JD could have dated at least one hottie out of his league. Speaking of which, one of the girls on that list is Juliana Margulies who appeared on The Sopranos as one of Tony's would-be flings. Can an actress hook up with two more opposite characters than Dr. Dorian and Tony Soprano?

Last year I did a recap of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, but opted not to this year because my comments would be exactly the same. Instead let me be briefly say that I was really into this year's NBA season, but once the Jazz were eliminated, I abandoned the NBA cold turkey. Could it get any worse than Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, Celtics? Seriously. Maybe if the Knicks or Pat Riley were somehow involved, then it would be worse. I will say this about Kobe Bryant. I don't get why the media people love him. Yes, he's very talented, but he's also the worst teammate in recent NBA history with his public trade demands and open criticism of his teammates, not to mention is on-court tantrums where he refused to shoot just to show how bad his teammates are. Now, after the suspiciously lopsided Pau Gasol trade the Lakers are winning and suddenly Kobe Bryant is a media darling and Michael Jordan reincarnated. I don't get it.

Also last year I did a big Summer Movie Preview, but really didn't see very many of the summer movies until months later so this year I'll keep it brief by saying I'm interested in seeing Indiana Jones and Batman, and maybe Hancock and Iron Man, but I'm in no real hurry to see any of them.

Back in June of last year I commented on The New Mystery Science Theater 3000. To be more specific I spotlighted the work of Mike Nelson and his venture He also uses former MST3K pals Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) and Bill Corbett (Crow). Since that post I have merged their wisecracking MP3's with six more DVD's to augment my total Rifftrax library to eight. So essentially I have the Mystery Science 3000 version of X-Men, Fellowship of the Ring, Casino Royale, Fantastic Four, The Bourne Identity, Transformers, Independence Day and Jurassic Park. Next, I'm considering Harry Potter or Raiders of the Lost Ark. Any suggestions? As a further update, the guy Mike replaced on MST3K was Joel Hodgson, who apparently is also trying to cash in on the Mystery Science fan base. He has launched a project called Cinematic Titanic, in which he and a bunch of fellow comedians including Trace Beaulieu (Dr. Clayton Forrester, Crow) and Frank Conniff (TV's Frank) make fun of old movies. I'd be curious to hear how the each feels about the other's venture.

Finally, back in November, I posted a video I spliced together entitled The Best of Kevin from The Office. As a follow up, below is a video (2:30) from the recent season finale of The Office with Toby's replacement Holly and how she thinks Kevin is slow, you know, in his brain.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: Art Garfunkel

Entertainment News' Entertainer of the Month of May is none other than the "Old Pop Warrior" Arthur Ira Garfunkel. Though he'll always be remembered as Paul Simon's sidekick, to me he represents a time when music was simple and singers could actually sing. One of the best concerts I've ever been to was a few years ago when I had the opportunity to go see Art Garfunkel live with the Utah Symphony as part of his Across America Tour. You see, back in the mid 1980's, Art developed an interest in long-distance walking. Over the next decade or so he spent chunks of each summer walking across America until he finished in 1996. Along the way he would perform concerts. The great thing about going to an Art Garfunkel concert as opposed to a Paul Simon concert is Paul Simon is going to sing his new stuff, whereas Art Garfunkel mainly sings songs you would find on the Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits album. Don't get me wrong, I like Paul Simon's solo work, especially Graceland, but it's not as beloved as the stuff he wrote when he was with Garfunkel. So at the concert in Salt Lake, Art sang most of the hits from the old days like "Scarborough Fair," "Mrs. Robinson," and of course "Bridge Over Troubled Water." In fact most of his albums are a mix of the old S & G hits with some original stuff.

Speaking of the hits, below is clip (4:41) from the Concert in Central Park in 1981 in which Simon & Garfunkel performed before 500,000 people. The song is "The Boxer" and early on you can see Garfunkel screw up by singing "I have squandered..." a bit early. I love the look Paul Simon gives him.

Up next for Art is a European tour. In October of this year he will stage concerts in the UK, Holland, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The List

Americans love lists. They can't resist reading rankings of things whether it be lists of greatest, worst, wealthiest, funniest, most influential, or sexiest. So in the spirit of America's love for the list, I have come up with my own list of the 100 most list-worthy people. In other words, I have ranked from 1 to 100 the people that most deserve to be on a list. Eligibility rules were simple: (1) The person must be either real or fictitious. (2) If real, the person must still be alive. (3) The person need not be a person at all. All other criteria is strictly confidential. So without further ado, below is a countdown the 100 Most List-worthy Individuals of 2008.

100. Ernest Borgnine
 99. Detective Harry Callahan
 98. Sandra Boynton
 97. Dr. Strangelove
 96. Brian Doyle-Murray
 95. Razor Shines
 94. Alan Greenspan
 93. Fredo Corleone
 92. Michael J. Fox
 91. Sonic the Hedgehog
 90. Tyra Banks
 89. Dbrickashaw Ferguson
 88. Kim Jong Il
 87. Fred Weasley
 86. Casey Kasem
 85. Laura Bush
 84. Billy Joel
 83. Robert McCall
 82. Dan Jansen
 81. Cheech Marin
 80. Lando Calrissian
 79. Dido
 78. Dida
 77. Stephenie Meyer
 76. Billy Zane
 75. Amelie Poulain
 74. Weird Al Yankovic
 73. Dan Quayle
 72. Delta Burke
 71. Dr. Egon Spengler
 70. Tim Kurkjian
 69. Willie Nelson
 68. Rocky Balboa
 67. Uwe Boll
 66. Uwe Blab
 65. Gloria Gaynor
 64. Patrick
 63. Derek Jacobi
 62. Ringo Star
 61. Warwick Davis
 60. Franka Potente
 60. Count Chocula
 58. Meatloaf
 57. John Astin
 56. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
 55. Dirk Benedict
 54. Rachel Ray
 53. David Bowie
 52. Jessica Rabbit
 51. Vidal Sassoon
 50. Edward Scissorhands
 49. Alex Tribeck
 48. Engelbert Humperdinck
 47. Ozzie Canseco
 46. Q
 45. Steve Buscemi
 44. Mischa Barton
 43. David St. Hubbins
 42. Barry Sanders
 41. Garth Algar
 40. Queen Elizabeth II
 39. Queen Latifah
 38. Colonel Mustard
 37. Jason Priestly
 36. Plácido Domingo
 35. Ichiro
 34. Phyllis Lapin
 33. Jim Nantz
 32. Brigitte Bardot
 31. Detective Lennie Briscoe
 30. Fat Lever
 29. Lara Croft
 28. Vin Diesel
 27. Winnie the Pooh
 26. Ahmad Rashad
 25. Patrick Swayze
 24. Randy "Macho Man" Savage
 23. Lex Luthor
 22. Stephen Hawking
 21. Don LaFontaine
 20. Danielle Steel
 19. Dr. Emmett L. Brown
 18. Ivan Lendl
 17. Arthur Fonzarelli
 16. Melanie Chisholm
 15. Bat Boy
 14. Pauly Shore
 13. Chief Clancy Wiggum
 12. Antonin Scalia
 11. Sinbad
 10. Hobbes
  9. Edson Arantes do Nascimento
  8. Xena, Warrior Princess
  7. Dog the Bounty Hunter
  6. Buster Bluth
  5. Chuck Norris
  4. Rowlf
  3. Fabio
  2. The Most Interesting Man in the World
  1. Xuxa

Who am I missing? Who is ranked too high or too low? Let the debate begin.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gladiators vs. Ninjas

NBC has been putting a lot of marketing effort behind the new American Gladiators. I, for one, will pass. After only two episodes I decided that the American Gladiators were best left in the past. I've commented before that I couldn't stand the ultra annoying contestants. Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock said it best: "If reality TV has taught us anything, it's that you can't keep people with no shame down." How can you root for the blue contestant over the red one when all you want is for both of them to fall flat on their face? I suppose you can root for the gladiators, but... eh.

So rather than American Gladiators, I have turned my attention to a purer form of physical competition. On the G4 Channel there is a Japanese import called Ninja Warrior where each tournament (held semi-annually from what I can gather) 100 contestants attempt to conquer four obstacle courses. Usually 10-15 pass the first round, of those, 7-10 make it to the third round, and as many as three, although usually none make it to the fourth stage which has only been defeated twice in 17 tournaments, most recently by fisherman Makoto Nagano. The guy is amazing. Below is a clip (5:05) of him defeating the third and fourth stages. It's a grueling task, despite how easy he makes it look. As the tournament has gone on, competitors from all over the world have come to participate, including several Olympians, and virtually all of them have failed.

Look at it this way: if American Gladiators is Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Ninja Warrior is Jeopardy. One is flashy and built on gimmicks and hype. The other is tried and true and has an established foundation of consistency.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: Clint Howard

Entertainment News wishes a happy 49th birthday to the legendary Clint Howard. And to honor him, he is being named April's Entertainer of the Month. Despite the fact that he has appeared in nearly 200 movies and TV shows, many of you might not know much about Clint Howard, but you no doubt have seen this MTV Movie Awards Lifetime Achievement Award Winner before. In fact he is credited with "legitimizing the award which had previously been won by the likes of Jason Voorhies, Shaft and Chewbacca. Perhaps you recognize him as the serial killer from the Seinfeld episodes that took place in Los Angeles. Or maybe you saw him terrorizing children in the campy horror classic Ice Cream Man. But most likely, you've seen him in a bit part in one of his older, more famous brother Ron's movies. Clint has appeared in 15 movies directed by Ron Howard (not counting the shorts the two made when they were kids), including:
  • Grand Theft Auto (1977)
  • Cotton Candy (1978)
  • Night Shift (1982)
  • Splash (1984)
  • Cocoon (1985)
  • Gung Ho (1986)
  • Parenthood (1989)
  • Backdraft (1991)
  • Far and Away (1992)
  • The Paper (1994)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)
  • Edtv (1999)
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • The Missing (2003)
  • Cinderella Man (2005)
Today Clint Howard remains one of the busiest actors in Hollywood, with seven films due to be released by the end of the year. So keep an eye out for him.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maintain the Integrity

I've always said, when making a movie based on existing source material, first and foremost, you must be loyal to that source material.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Charlton Heston: 1924-2008

Entertainment News bids a sad farewell to film legend Charlton Heston. He was best known for his roles in The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur and the Original Planet of the Apes. My favorite of his movies is Orson Welles' Touch of Evil in which he curiously plays a Mexican named Ramon Miguel Vargas. Heston also uttered two of the American Film Institutes's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes: "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" and "Soylent Green is people!" And of course, who can forget the work he did as President of National Rifle Association, telling President Clinton "America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure don't trust you with our guns." Later in his career, Mr. Heston did mostly cameos, none of them funnier than the clip below (1:24) from Wayne's World 2.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Struck Down by the Man

It has happened again. About six months ago my web log was crippled when my YouTube account was permanently disabled. A little daunted, but still resilient, I brought my videos back via a site called Now my Veoh account has been deleted following similar complaints of copyright infringement. I'm not going to rehash my reasoning behind why I think the copyright holders should rejoice in people like me. Instead I will slowly start to rebuild my online video collection. Eventually I hope to bring them all back to this web log again. Regulars to my site will be able to watch the "My Videos" label climb its way back up list on the right as I rework the web log entries with videos.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Entertainer of the Month: John Ratzenberger

A new feature being launched here at Entertainment News is Entertainer of the Month. Last week I left some clues about this month's honoree and today I can reveal that John Ratzenberger is March's Entertainer of the Month. As I mentioned before, he appeared in Superman and Superman II as "Controller #1," The Empire Strikes Back as Major Derlin and Ghandi as "American Lt., driver for Bourke-White." However, Ratzenberger is best known as know-it-all postal carrier Cliff Claven on Cheers, a character he has played on a total of 6 shows*. One of the Cliff's greatest and, at the same time, worst moments was when he appeared on Jeopardy! (seen belows, 4:51).

More recently, Ratzenberger competed on Dancing with the Stars. He also hosted the Travel Channel's John Ratzenberger's Made in America in which he spotlighted various domestic manufacturing firms. And of course what John Ratzenberger feature would be complete without mentioning his voice work with Pixar. His voice talents have appeared in all eight Pixar animated features from Toy Story to Ratatouille.

Here's to hoping John Ratzenberger continues to have a flourishing career.

* Cheers, St. Elsewhere, The Tortellis, Wings, Frasier and The Simpsons

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sneak Peak

Coming next week in a new item called Entertainer of the Month, Entertainment News will pay tribute to an American screen legend whose film and television career has spanned more than three decades. He has appeared in such Hollywood blockbusters as Superman, Superman II, The Empire Stikes Back and Ghandi. He starred in one television's most successful sitcoms. This writer/director/producer has also lent his voice talents to Pixar's Toy Story and Toy Story II. His celebrity was cemented when this multi-talented entertainer appeared on ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Who is it? You'll have to check back in a few days. That's what we in the business call a teaser.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Bowl XLII

I don't have much to say in the form of commentary on the game. The Super Bowl long ago stopped being about football. Besides, it was a New York team versus a Boston team. It's too bad they both couldn't lose. This will probably go down as one of the greatest Super Bowl games ever, which is a shame, because only the fourth quarter was any good. The rest of the game was really boring. As for the commercials, which we all know are the best part of the Super Bowl anyway, there were only seven commercials worth commenting on. The rest of the companies wasted their money in my opinion, which we all know, counts for nothing.
  • For the past few years T-Mobile has run a series of ads featuring Dwayne Wade trying to get into Charles Barkley's Fave 5. During the Super Bowl, he finally succeeded, but with unforeseen consequences. The series is funny, but has gone on too long. I'm sure this particular ad will get replayed to death on TNT and ESPN during NBA games.
  • FedEx once again delivered a solid ad. Their giant carrier pigeons were a nice touch. The best thing about FedEx commercials, is that afterward, you still remember that they are plugging FedEx, instead of other ads that are funny but the message gets lost.
  • The E-trade ad with the talking baby that rents a clown was dumb and certainly nothing new, but I laughed anyway.
  • Shaq as a jockey was kind of funny, but that's not even the best Vitamin Water ad. The older one featuring Brian Urlacher and Michael Strahan playing badminton was better.
  • A few years ago Pepsi Twist managed to bring the Osmonds and the Osbournes together for a commercial. With perhaps an even greater dichotomy, Bridgestone had an ad featuring both Alice Cooper and Richard Simmons. I never thought I'd see that. Plus, I caught myself laughing when the driver of the car accelerated toward Mr. Simmons.
  • It was another year of uninspired ads from Budweiser. The only exception was the cross-promotional ad for Semi-Pro featuring Will Ferrell. That one was funny.
  • My favorite commercial of the Super Bowl was the Audi ad that parodied the famous horse head scene from The Godfather. What's better, is the actor in the commercial was Alex Rocco, who was actually in The Godfather. Granted, he played Mo Greene and not the studio boss from the original scene, but it was still a nice touch.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anthony LaPaglia

Entertainment News would like to wish a happy 49th birthday to Anthony LaPaglia. The Australian born actor is probably best known for his Emmy-nominated dramatic work as Special Agent Jack Malone on Without a Trace. And while he's very good on that show (or used to be before the show's creators stopped getting creative with story and character development), he's also good in comedic roles as well. His guest appearances on Frasier won him an Emmy, but some loyal readers might know him better as Joe the easy-going store manager in the 90's teen comedy Empire Records. However, my favorite Anthony LaPaglia performance is as Mike Myers' friend Tony in 1993's So I Married an Axe Murderer. Below is a video (3:29) from said film featuring a series clips of Mr. LaPaglia opposite Alan Arkin, another actor who can do both comedy and drama well.

Friday, January 25, 2008

A Crap Country

This video goes out to my friend Boubacar, aka, The Other Black Guy. He is from Guinea, a country in West Africa that has recently been through a great deal of turmoil. Still, Ali G isn't willing to give it any love. Below is a clip (1:09) from Da Ali G Show starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Ali G. For those unfamiliar with the show, it's a British import that airs on HBO in the US. In it, Cohen travels the country participating in various activities and interviewing people disguised as one of his three alter-egos, the most famous being Borat (the other two being Ali G and Bruno the fashion reporter). In this particular episode, he visits the United Nations.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dirty Psychic

I apologize to the thousands, OK hundreds, OK maybe dozens, alright, four or five loyal readers* for my hiatus from posting Entertainment News items. With the birth of my son, blogging has taken a back seat. But despite the writers strike seriously hindering the current television season, I've still managed to watch too much TV. My favorites like The Office and its fellow Thursday night comedies have been drastically cut, so I have been forced to go elsewhere on the dial and in the process I have discovered two gems that had previously gone unnoticed by me. The first is Psych on USA. It's about a guy who so adept at observing details around him that he's convinced the Santa Barbabra Police Department that he is a psychic. He uses his abilities to solve crimes in a theatrical fashion. They had a marathon the other day and I was able to catch up on some episodes. I highly recommend it. The second show I watch every now and again is Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe on The Discovery Channel. Unlike most educational/vocational reality shows on The Discovery Channel, The History Channel, TLC and HGTV, this show actually has a funny host. In it, Mike Rowe, an average schmoe, travels around the country and spends a day doing all manner of messy blue collar work from earth worm farming to sewer cleaning. It makes for good TV.

One new show that really had me disappointed is the new American Gladiators. It's like the show's creators did all that they could to make the contestants as annoying as possible. It's hard to watch when I can't make myself root for one contestant over the other. Hopefully the strike will end soon and my usual shows can return.

* In actuality, my web log has been getting quite a bit of traffic lately as it has averaged between 100 and 120 visitors a day over the past month.