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 IMDb.com:
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.