Tuesday, December 09, 2008

It's a Great Day at Jeff Lewis' Office!

(Photo courtesy: bravo.com)

That's because our favorite OCD houseflipper and friends--shout out to Zoila--have been picked up for another season of "Flipping Out". Rachel Zoe's "reality" show "The Rachel Zoe Project" has been picked up too. OMG, that's bananas.

Leno Lives, Conan Grows Cold in the Shadow of The Mighty Chin

(Photo courtesy: claytonboen.com)

People with an actual sense of humor--and Conan O'Brien--have just been majorly bitchslapped by NBC. These clowns are going to give Leno a talk show to air 10pm weeknights starting in June when Conan takes over "The Tonight Show". How lazy. Instead of facing the challenge of finding a new hour of television that doesn't suck to replace the long-sucking "ER", NBC's taken the easiest way out and bumped up their sucky late night host to primetime.

All this does is oh so cleverly make 9pm the last hour of primetime on NBC. Jay's show will have a different name like,"The Earlier Tonight Show", but it'll still be the same shiz. Naturally, entertainment "reporter" Courtney Hazelcheeks toes the company line on MSNBC predicting the demise of the scripted drama because of her bosses' evil genius. Is TellyPhile the only one grossed out by all this? And poor Conan. He signed up to be the new host of "The Tonight Show" and instead he's a prime candidate for "The Biggest Loser".

Read more here.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Jimmy Fallon to Premiere Online Monday

(Photo courtesy: variety.com)

Jimmy "at least I'm not Dane Cook" Fallon doesn't do it for TellyPhile. He's always seemed like an Adam Sandler for the tween set. And that emo hair? Pass.

Still, being TellyPhile, our interest was piqued by this tidbit via Huffington Post. Word is Fallon will be working out the kinks as the soon to be new host of "Late Night" (NYC will miss you, Conan) with live "video blogs" starting Monday. Hmm, a live comedic production overseen by Lorne Michaels with the potential to be chock full of suck. Jeez, Jimmy. It'll be like you never left.

In all seriousness, after viewing this clip of Jimmy with Dr. Evil in tow, TellyPhile was heartened by the fact that Jimmy's actually capable of spontaneous bursts of funny. It's a pleasant surprise. Let's hope his "Late Night" consists of more of this kind of smart humor and less of the "goodness me" stammering, awkward, humble dude routine. Michael Cera's got you beat on that front, James. See you on the lines! (TellyPhile Term: on the lines - a confused, mom jeans wearing person's way of saying "online").

Friday, December 05, 2008

See What Happens When I Forget About the Existence of Oxygen Network

The Bad Girls Club Season 3 Premiere - Funny bloopers are a click away

First, there's this montage, courtesy of the foxy ladies at Jezebel, of the worst (see best) things said on this week's premiere of "The Bad Girls Club". Then, there's my recent discovery (thks, D!) that Oxygen is prone to weekday afternoon "Living Single" mini-marathons--I'm all about a '90s kinda world. I've been sleeping on the goldmine that is Oxygen. To correct this wayward tellyphile behavior, I've made sure my DVR got a new scheduled recording. If like me, you're mesmerized by reality television's most enduring life lesson--skanks don't quit--then I trust yours will too. Adjourned.

Did You See...

Martha Stewart go all human on us and actually eff up on her daily talk show? In the above clip watch Martha making a holiday cosmo with some interesting results. Her unlikely assistant is a hoboish, but no less gallant Adrien Brody. Here's to Connecticut and well-mannered neurosis. Mar, you're the shiz. Watch the full segment (and lots more Martha mayhem) here.

Look! It's Suri

Everyone's talking about the NY Times' "T Magazine" with Tom and Katie. They get the double cover treatment and the results are pretty breathtaking where Katie's concerned. Tom's are aight too I suppose.

But the best part is we get a little insight into the world of the magnetic wee one they call Suri. From E! online:
Katie confirms previous reports that Suri has an entire apartment in their East Village building devoted to a gym. After being overwhelmed by the amount of attention Suri received at a Chelsea Piers gymnastics class, Tom decided to bring the gym to his little girl.
To further your unhealthy preoccupation with a two year old there's a nice slideshow of Katie and Suri in the City pics. Give in to it. K & S are the dopest Mommy n Me fashion duo out. They're dangerous.

Mariah Carey...sings?

This was Mariah earlier this week as the opener for CBS' odd Grammy Nom concert. When you've been in the business as long as MC has and you have a voice as fierce as hers, your stage presence shouldn't be reminiscent of an American Idol contestant. I'm just saying.

And just because I'm a thoughtful little tellyphile, here's a list of this year's Grammy nominees. You're welcome.

"Grey's" is starting to suck again

(Photo courtesy: ew.com)

It's time we had this talk. Grey's Anatomy. What's happening? There's something in the water over in Shondaland and it's very, very bad. Like three-eyed fish, cancer hotspot bad.

There are so many issues to address, so let's begin with the most flagrant foul. The storyline I've come to think of as Ghost II: Izzie Does Denny. We all remember Denny (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The hot, half dead guy that Izzie fell in love with and risked her career for only to have him go way dead on her whilst wearing a prom dress. How embarassing. This season, he's baaaaaack and still a looker (doesn't JDM remind you of the "Everybody Loves Raymond" brother except put together in a way that's physically appealing?). Izzie's the only one that can see Denny and we've had to suffer through two episodes worth of hot, girl-on-ghost relations. All signs point to this being a build up for that much whispered about brain tumor that insiders said the writers were going to afflict Izzie with as payback for Katherine "I can't helpt it, I'm a Mormon" Heigl's very public smack talking about her less than stellar storyline. Listen, Grey's writers, I'm all for revenge, but not on our time, okay. Not cool.

The other innocent victim in all this? Poor Alex Korev. Every time he opens his heart to love, a little crazy seems to sneak its way in too. How excruciating to watch him profess his love for Izzie--finally, at long last--when we know she's not into it all. Yet again, audience robbed. Izzie and Alex finally getting together and going all in could have made for a great dramatic alternative to the Der and Mer saga. Ball dropped again.

Finally, the main characters' refusal to teach their interns, which of course led to the Little Grey and the gang almost kill Meredith's annoying new friend episode, is just lame. Even lamer is that even after something major like a near death going down, Meredith, Christina and the rest still haven't had any epiphany about how they need to be better teachers. Isn't that what the whole season started out being about with the chief going apeshit over Seattle Grace losing its ranking? Everything's all over the place, lacks focus. We lost a solid character like Hahn for the cool-as-a-cutter English broad whose name I've refused to even commit to memory. Make the bad writing stop and give us the Grey's we signed up for.

UPDATE: Turns out I was right. Sort of. (SPOILER ALERT)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The TV Set: Making A List, Checking It Twice

(Photo credit: Steve Fenn - ABC)

It's happened again. Barbara Walters has jumped into her trusty So Five Minutes Ago Machine to bring us her "10 Most Fascinating People" special. It airs this Thursday on ABC. The full list hasn't been made available but the seven names they have released to lure us in are remarkable only for being so not--Michael Phelps, Will Smith, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey, Miley Cyrus and Frank Langella. I had to google the last guy. Instead of a result Google had a question for me for a change--are you really this bored? Diss.

Choosing Will and TC is especially suspect. No one's ever been fascinated by Will Smith. He looks good running and is breathtakingly self satisfied in an inoffensive way. Tom hasn't been remotely interesting since the trouncing he gave to O's couch. But what do you know, they both just happen to have movies coming out this month. These lists are supposed to be about pure celebrity obsessed fun, not marketing ploys. Babs, you disappoint me. I know Phelps is all superhuman if you add water, but outside of the pool not so much. If you doubt me, try watching anyone interview him. Between yawns I always start fantasizing that it'll be something like the best mermaid movie ever "Splash" except, instead of a tail being exposed when Eugene Levy sprays him with water, Mikey's cleverly disguised charisma will be flopping around in a Speedo.

Anyway dear tellyphile, Dame WaWa may be faking the funk, but The TV Set keeps it real. A list of the year's most fascinating people should consist of celebrities that have truly left us flabbergasted, baffled, agog. They are the famous names that we'd watch until bleary eyed, not willing to risk a blink.

6. John Mayer. Don't balk. There's something about Mayer. Ask Jennifer Aniston. Despite his blabbing to the stalkerazzi about the demise of their relationship, the uberprivate former Friend came back for more. But more of what? Whatever "it" is, Jessica Simpson dug it too. So much so she downgraded to brunette for a while. A mistake. John soon dumped her. A frog prince coming into his own. Before long he was lounging poolside with America's favorite Jen and we had no choice but to begin studying him with rapt attention. He's all young dude with a guitar, weird blogging, devil maycaring it and she's just so darn...Jennifer Anistoney. Is there any there there? And which do we find more inexplicably alluring. John with a shorn head or sporting a self-described feathered 80's era homage?

5. Samantha Ronson. This is one impressive barnacle. Remember when she was just that creepy ghost in the periphery of all those Lindsey Lohan losing it pap shots? She always wore a fedora and was pale and hollow-eyed, looking every bit the fame sucking vampire. This year, still pale and sickly looking as ever, Ronson and Lohan confirmed the long-standing rumors that they were romantically involved by coming out as a couple--the Red Bull set's Ellen and Portia if you will. Despite her appearance, it turns out Ronson is part of the British elite. Leaping lizards, Sam's the one that's been slumming it all this time.

4. Brad Pitt. Age has come for Mr. Pitt's face and it's a wonder to behold. He's still gorgeous, but six kids takes its toll. When we're done being intrigued by the sight of Achilles getting on in years there's the fun game of recalling all the different versions of Brad we've been treated to. His persona at any given time directly correlates to who he was sleeping with. Looking for edgy Brad? Take a gander at the Juliette Lewis years. Brad at his most blonde? Duh. All Gwyneth. It's as if he's nothing more than a pod assuming all the characteristics of the one closest to him. In the real world, that's creepy. But in Hollywood, it's Oscar bound. Can't wait to see you get yours, Brad.

3. Sarah Palin. A gift to people watchers everywhere. There's the "Fargo" accent, the wacked out kids names, "also too" her crazy syntax and the train wreck good interviews in which she inadvertently let the cat out of the bag that she wasn't quite ready for primetime. Why should that stop the good governor? Sister Sarah plowed on driven by a brazen desire to get as much out of this crazy VP nominee thing as she could, including a five star wardrobe for herself and her brood. Are we hoping to see more of Palin in 2012? You betcha!

2. Britney Spears. Pop princess. Party girl. Redneck. Single mom. Caged bird. She's been there so long you would think the fascination would have worn off by now but our appetite for all things Britney is insatiable. You never know what visceral reaction Brit Brit's going to inspire--revulsion, envy, sympathy, guilt, admiration. They've all been evoked as we watched the once virginal pop covergirl enter two bad marriages, lose her innocence, her underwear, her kids and her mind. Now she's struggling to get it all back again.

1. Suri Cruise. Don't front. I've seen you stealing glances at the covers of US Weekly and Star whenever the First Baby of Scientology is on them. Who could blame you? TomKat's kitten is far superior to her celebuspawn peers. Sorry, Shiloh. Little Suri already has the commanding presence of a star. Look, there's Suri playing in the park. Now there she is escorting her mother down Fifth Avenue. In no time at all, you'll come to the conclusion that this toddler has a better life than you do and way more bank. She's even better off than her mother, the ghost of Katie Holmes. Unlike Katie, you get the sense that Suri's not taking any stuff from Mighty Dad TC. Tom revealed as much when he recently confessed that Suri won't let them put her in anything but dresses. There's a new pint sized sheriff in town, Tom. Katie, go get your heels.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The TV Set: Not Without My "Runway"

Photo Credit: chicagotribune.com

My heart broke a little when it was revealed that "Project Runway" gave style-friendly Bravo a Klum-style, two-cheek kiss auf. When next we see the fashionable reality show franchise it will be in its new digs on house frau net Lifetime. Girls, housecoats at the ready! It makes you wonder what exactly Harvey Weinstein—Hollywood movie mogul turned reality television hitmaker—was smoking. Pimping out the beloved, chic, upwardly mobile "Project Runway" and putting it out on the stroll alongside the likes of Meredith Baxter Birney is wrong on a level not seen since Whitney took up with Bobby. Not that I don't have an appreciation for what Mer does. It takes serious versatility to convincingly morph Elyse Keaton into your quintessential crazy white lady. Really, Mer. You're second to none. Since you've come around it's like Tiffani Amber Thiesen who?

But seriously—Lifetime? Everyone knows it's one of those channels you turn to when life feels unsunny. It's the television equivalent of drinking alone, in the afternoon…in a very dark linen closet. This is the channel you can count on when you need to assure yourself that going through your boyfriend's phone wasn't really that big of a deal because look at what that homicidal Marcia Gay Harden is up to. The only fierce thing you're sure to be wowed by in the Lifetime neck of the woods is the psychotic determination of jilted men and women unfazed by restraining orders or the advent of the untapered jean.

I know my fellow reality show connoisseurs are nodding in somber agreement. To us, Bravo is the Johnny to our Baby. Just because we liked a genre of television that had been ghettoized—"Real World" producer Bunim Murray, how do you live with yourselves?--didn't mean Bravo was going to let anyone put us in a corner. We didn't have to feel dirty to keep it real. Most Bravo reality show cast members—see PR, "Top Chef" and "Flipping Out"—stand in stark contrast to the MTV, VH-1, E! template of prefab dunces outfitted in whiskered denim, fake tans and who enjoy what can only be described as a "distant" relationship with the English language. Don't forget the clincher, the biggest prereq of them all—they have to be completely devoid of any discernible talent. Sorry Kardashians, being more vapid than all the rest doesn't count.

Yes, Bravo is quite literally our bright light. Their signature white backdrops used for show promos signal to the audience that style and taste live here. The look is an eye pleasing, clean, modern, art gallery aesthetic. Bravo appeals to the Banana Republic/J. Crew meets quirky NYC flea market find demographic, or at the very least people who like the idea of quirky NYC flea market finds. The network's slogan implores you to "Watch What Happens" and why wouldn't you? Their shows reliably and deliciously press all your drama buttons—Jeff Lewis, how goes it?—but it is within the context of the chaos of creative endeavor. You're impressed by the participants not because of how many people they're capable of hooking up with in a single season, but because of the to die-for party dress they were able to design McGyver style out of coffee filters and vacuum cleaner bags.

This isn't to say that Bravo is incapable of an abomination or two. The highly unpalatable "Date My Ex: Jo and Slade" comes to mind. Jo is totally Bravo's version of the ghetto fabulous VH-1 personality "New York". But for the most part Bravo excels at making us feel like it's okay to like reality shows because it's a genre that is evolving as we do. It appeals to that slightly more cultured side of you that started to emerge in earnest after you graduated from college and discovered cooking beyond the confines of your microwave and it will keep appealing to you long after you've got your feet firmly planted in the middle of adulthood.

Now there's word that the situation is even worse than originally feared. Magical Elves, the production team responsible for "Project Runway", has bolted leaving Harvey to make a deal with the devil themselves—Bunim Murray—and it gets grosser. The show is moving to LA. I can see poor Tim Gunn now trying desperately to lure the "designers" out of the hottub with a bottle of Jagermeister, urging them to make it work. After all, guest judge Heidi Montag is expecting a frock guaranteed to land her the cover of US Weekly.

The TV Set: Chef Cool

For those hardy, remote jockeying souls still out there searching for a hero to save them from televised atrocities that can only happen during summer, Bruno from "Celebrity Circus" comes to mind, I give you Bourdain, Anthony Bourdain. His Travel Channel show, "No Reservations" (Mondays, 10pm), about food in (mostly) far away places is back, baby. That's right. No more baby borrowing for you. Am I the only one that finds "The Baby Borrowers" creepy? This undoubtedly qualifies me as a card carrying fuddy duddy, but I find it impossible to get over the fact that NBC has managed to get away with sticking teenage couples in a house with one another, cavalierly showing them getting in the same bed at night. We're a long way from the demure twin bedliness of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. Where's the Christian right when you need them?

But I digress. Back to Bourdain who has dropped in on this badness, an unlikely Hancock-like champion with a fistful of new episodes for the perpetually re-runned, those who have had their dignity rassled away from them by a Gladiator, and those of us that have come to the conclusion that perhaps it'd be better if we didn't survive this Japanese game show. Better death than to be confronted with your glowering reflection in the morning, who, once so trusting now eyes you with wary suspicion and disappointment. Brushing one's teeth has become so…awkward.

Yes, "No Reservations" is exactly what is needed. Bourdain, rebel celebrity chef without a cause, is kind of like the Judd Nelson character in "The Breakfast Club" when compared to his fellow culinary boldfaced names. This of course makes Bobby Flay the All American Emilio Estevez character and Rachael Ray Molly Ringwald's popular girl Claire. He's simply not like the others. And he makes it clear he thinks the others, with their "Bam!" and "Yum-o", are pretty dopey. He's not there to make you feel more comfortable, or to offer a cooking lesson so that one day you can grow up to cook just like Tony! Most of all, he's not constantly trying to convince you of what good pals you and he are. He's got enough faith in you to trust that you've got friends; you're just looking for some good television.

Even if you're unfamiliar with Bourdain, from the onset it becomes clear that "No Reservations" is not your mother's cooking show, mostly because it isn't a "cooking" show at all. It eschews the cleanly confines of the customary pimped out television chef kitchen that boasts every modern convenience known to man in favor of the road less traveled. It is instead an hour-long travelogue celebrating cuisine narrated in the first person by Bourdain. It's a snarky (mmm…snark) narrative brimming with colorful brushstrokes of language to explain the backstories of the food, people and the land at hand. Happily, Bourdain is not so cool as to be above falling in love with a country he's profiling as he clearly did last season in Indonesia when he considered "going bamboo" as he put it, tempted to hang it up, go permanently off the grid and heed the siren call to which many expats have surrendered.

Thank goodness he didn't so that we may go on living vicariously through him as this long-legged blade of a man lopes across the continents. There he is, by the campfire with Argentine cowboys, engaging in what has become an expected practice of pickling himself with quite a few shots of the local, often homegrown, spirit. And now, looking less than thrilled in Romania—a word to beginners, the episodes when Bourdain is less than thrilled by a place are just as good a time, if not better than episodes when he's enchanted. It is important to note however that Bourdain is never an "ugly American". He's quite the opposite, grateful and humbled by the generosity and culinary skill of his hosts making him an unlikely good-will ambassador. He's a lover of streetfood and fearless in the face of dishes worthy of "Fear Factor". Still-beating cobra heart, anyone?

Needless to say, if you're thinking of tagging along with Anthony Bourdain, worrywart handwashers need not apply. That stuff's for squares.

The TV Set: Weekdays with Wendy

There once was a genre called morning talk, where the voices all sounded the same. The must-have accessory was an oversized coffee mug and its seventh circle was presided over by a relic. She is like a Medusa, sporting a cacophonous crown of co-hosts writhing to express their View. But then, from the far away land of urban drivetime radio, a voice, asks quite simply "How you doin'?"

The voice belongs to Wendy Williams, whose eponymous talk show debuted last week to impressive ratings. Williams' "how you doin'" is less Joey Tribiani and more fabulous drag queen. Regular listeners of her popular nationally syndicated radio show, "The Wendy Williams Experience", know it well as it is regularly employed there not only as greeting, but to playfully indicate when she finds something or someone to be a little—or a lot—homosexual. In watching "The Wendy Williams Show" (Weekdays, 10am, Fox) "how you doin'" gets lots of play throughout the hour by members of her enthusiastic studio audience, who after sharing their name and city, clearly get a thrill out of taking a shot at this signature Wendyism.

It's a slightly cheesy, party atmosphere, as indicated by the disco ball in her title graphics and the girls-in-the-club "oooo oooo" shouted by the audience going in and out of break. The show's look is not expensive. The dishes of colorful, fruity candy like Skittles that are on the table for her celebrity guests completes the low budget vibe lest you forget you're watching Fox. But I'm willing to forgive the show its cheesiness because it's such a good time. This is not the morning talk show we've gotten used to and it's delicious diving in, like drinking champagne for breakfast. Immerse yourself in the over-the-topness that is Wendy Williams, from her well over six foot frame (thanks to her size 12, 4 inch heels), to her wigalicious blonde tresses and surgically enhanced attributes.

At forty-four years old Wendy is the hip hop generation's Cindy Adams and Dear Abbey rolled into one. Most of the hour allows her to showcase these strengths. The first segment is dedicated to "Hot Topics" a blatant and acknowledged rip off of the aforementioned relic's "The View" in which Williams discusses the latest celebrity "oh no, they didn't's". Unlike "The View's" Hot Topics which can get loud and political, Williams says plenty without saying much—a well-timed mischievous look here, a pursed lip there. Wendy knows how to get her point across.

Her weakest segments have been the "celebrity" interviews with C and D list names like Brooke Hogan and Kim Kardashian. Wendy's all warm and fuzzy here, missing the edge that made her celebrity interviews such ear candy on the radio. Some of that naughtier Wendy did come through during her much buzzed about interview with "Apprentice" villain, Omarosa. Things went from bad to worse as the two traded thinly-veiled insults through clenched, teeth-flashing smiles and loud audience reaction. This is not the kind of thing you see on "Rachael Ray". What a nice change of pace.

All that aside, the real fun is to be had during the advice segments that are sprinkled throughout the hour. This is Williams at her most comfortable, letting loose with the Wendy wisdom. She is refreshingly pragmatic without crossing the line into Dr. Phil territory (see preachy and self-righteous buffoonery). Despite her silly, ostensibly superfluous demeanor it becomes abundantly clear that Wendy believes just as strongly in personal responsibility as she does in the cult of celebrity.

This brings me to a final Wendyism—the "Friend In My Head"—someone, usually a celebrity, you know you'd be best friends with if not for the minor complication that they don't know you exist. It's so nice when someone puts a label on your psychosis. Guess who's got a new FIMH BFF?

Monday, June 23, 2008

The TV Set: "Living Lohan" Proves Lackluster

Photo credit: accesshollywood.com

This week's "The TV Set" as seen in The Examiner:

There are times when a television writer makes sacrifices for her craft. The afternoon of my life that was lost forever, watching back to back episodes of E!'s latest slice of voyeur pie, "Living Lohan", is one of them.

It's wrong to compare this show to pie. Pie is something palatable ensconced in golden-crusted goodness. "Living Lohan" is something very, very wrong ensconced in Merrick, Long Island. Shudder. It's a reality show aimed at making the rest of us without famous last names privy to what it's like when you've tapped out your already famous daughter and now must return to the well to see what you can eke out of daughter number deuce. Mrs. L is finally getting the spotlight she came for. This is the E! True Hollywood Story of Dina Lohan: Momager on a Mission.

The problem is the show is supposed to be focused on fifteen-year old Ali, who wants to be famous "so baaad", as she keeps reminding us in her thick Lawng Island accent, that she's willing to sell her soul to the Dina. As Ali sings along to the track written for her by "producer" (see wannabe) Jeremy Green, it becomes abundantly clear that a deal with a dark force is indeed in order. The raspy, vaguely musical disturbances that trickle out of her mouth make her second-sister reality predecessor Ashlee Simpson seem like the second coming of Joan Jett.

And speaking of Ashlee, Dina would be wise to take notes. Icky Joe Simpson at least had the decency—now there's a word the world never thought it'd see next to his name. I'm controversial like that—to allow his daughter to have her own show to herself. We got to bond with the plucky, endowed in all the wrong places (remember the old nose?) younger sister of Jessica. You wanted to see this genetic underdog make it, even though "it" was pretty much being handed to her. Despite the fact that Ashlee appears to have married and bred with a glamrechaun, I think she just may have. Chin up, Jess. Tony totally didn't deserve you.

Dina's handling of her younger daughter's career vehicle stands in sharp contrast. Dina Lohan is everywhere. Did she cut class that day in Svengali school when they covered the intricacies of puppet mastery? In the name of Rove, get a hold of yourself, woman! We're only supposed to have a vague sense of your presence, like a dark cloud that blocks out the sun, but never provides life-sustaining rain.

Instead, you're crowbarring your way into every scene. No one wants to watch an aging never-was with excessively blond extensions cruise around her unimpressive suburb in a Range Rover, anxiously hoping to be spotted by anyone interested in gawking at her. I don't want to watch you watch the Internet with a disturbing mix of hunger and satisfaction glinting in your eyes as you mine the tabloid underworld for rumor gold about Lindsay. If I want to be creeped out, I'll watch "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and marvel at whatever it is Bruce Jenner has done to his face.

Ah, E! Network, you've done it again. I owe you an apology. I underestimated you. I was sure you couldn't possibly produce a celebrity reality show more inane than the ones that came before it, but you prove time and time again there's always more where that came from. Oh, how I wish you'd put it back.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The TV Set: The Relevance of Russert

Photo credit: Alex Wong, Getty Images for Meet the Press

Here's my less than two cents considering the brinks truck worth of coverage we've gotten from NBC:

This isn't an obituary. I wouldn't know how to write that column. By now you've surely had your fill of the eulogies that overran the usual chatter produced by the cable nets and the political blogosphere last weekend when news of Tim Russert's shocking death was brought to us by Tom Brokaw on Friday the 13th. This is my feeble, bumbling, uncertain attempt at sorting out what Tim Russert meant to television and to the people that love television because I know, that at the very least, I've logged enough hours in front of the box to get away with that.

"Meet the Press" is the longest running show on television, but it is Russert that built it into an institution. I'm not using that word, "institution", as filler. And I don't mean it in an abstract, textbookish way—though to be sure just as I learned about Edward R. Murrow when I was studying television, kids will learn about Tim Russert. I mean it in a very personal sense. That genius, self-adulating sign-off of his that he said at the end of every broadcast, "If it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press," was a universal truth in my house while I was growing up. Just as my dad religiously read the Daily News and the Post, he always watched "Meet the Press" on Sunday. Long before I cared to know what all the old guys in suits were blathering on about, it was the sound of Tim Russert's voice insistently needling a politician about something that they now clearly wished they hadn't said that is indelibly tied to my memories of Sundays with my father and the creepy way television has of making people who wouldn't know you from Adam one of the touchstones of your life.

You're probably coming to the wrong conclusion. I apologize. I warned you there would be ineptitude. My goal isn't a girly homage to the greatness of Russert as journalist. Frankly, that's debatable. SNL's caricature of him as an overzealous, pop-eyed interviewer bent on interrogating for interrogating's sake was hilariously right on. But there is no denying that he presided over an hour of television that as an adult, I've come to appreciate for what it was. The first half hour was a nice way to see how your candidate responded under pressure. The second half hour of panelists that consisted of Republican and Democratic strategists and Beltway politicos I found even more special because it was a space in time when regular people were afforded a rare glimpse into the fraternal order of Washington and how that comfortably compromised city really works.

As much as we've been reminded—and re-reminded and re-re-reminded—that Russert was a son of Buffalo who never forgot where he came from, he was also a retired D.C. player. As is the trend in sports broadcasting, he went from playing the game to covering and analyzing it. In Russert's style, we can see the development of a strain of political journalism that has run wild on cable news. The objective isn't so much the unearthing of useful information or keeping our government honest, but to gather a chorus of talking heads eager to demonstrate how good they are at detecting and analyzing "spin". You can see the seeds of this in the debate around Russert's table which usually wasn't centered on the honesty of a politician's policies, but on how that politician's positions might poll.

So I wasn't a fan of his style of journalism, but I was a fan of his style of broadcasting. He wasn't too cool, or too pretty or mean. Russert was sincere, and happy to be there, and he wanted you to know what he knew. I'll miss that, and mourn the loss of it. You should too.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The End of an Era

Tim Russert May 8, 1950 - June 13, 2008

UPDATE: There will be a special edition of "Meet the Press" tomorrow remembering Russert hosted by Tom Brokaw.


What will we political junkies do come Sunday morning? Coverage here, here and here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"The TV Set" - My Heart Belongs to Daddy

This week's The TV Set column:

Fathers and television go together like MTV and binge-drinking Real Worlders, Brett Michaels and wigs, the Bravo network and homosexual reality show contestants. With the gift-giving burden of Father’s Day tightening around the necks of people with fathers everywhere like yet another cheaply made “World’s Greatest Dad” necktie—I give you, an homage with one caveat; not everyone mentioned, necessarily played a dad on television, they may just have that father figure feel or be capable of growing a really intimidating mustache and/or beard.

If you find yourself stroking your inadequately bald chin, wondering aloud who could possibly fall into that latter category, I submit for your consideration, David Letterman. The mass of hair on Dave’s face after the writers’ strike was of Papa Hemingway, Old Man and The Sea proportions. It was formidable. It said, “If you doubted that I’m this generation’s late night pater familias, check out what hair does on my face when left unchecked. In your eye, Leno!”

And yes, I know, that dastardly Nielsens-friendly Leno consistently rules the ratings roost—why, America, why?--but it is Dave that rules our hearts. How else to explain the outpouring of fan and celeb emotion alike when he unexpectedly had to undergo heart bypass surgery? It was event television when he returned. The realization hit that Letterman was our Carson. More than anyone I’ve grown up watching, Dave is the embodiment of Norman Rockwell’s “Dad”--Midwestern, slightly gruff, a little aloof, and goofily gap-toothed. Then too there is the classy Brooks Brothers masculinity mixed with a contrarian irreverence when faced with prim propriety and the comfortingly old school “for heaven’s sake” essence of the man when posited opposite a modern celebrity train wreck named Hilton.

Dave leads like good dads do, offering a blueprint to the younger late night dudes, paving a path where there is none. That was what he did when he took those first awkward steps back to the air a week after September 11th struck, leaving all of us wondering if it would ever be okay to laugh again. He was clearly shaken but sure of what he had to say, letting us know he too was engulfed in the grief, and the anger, and the shock of those nightmarish first “post-9/11” days. He was at his fatherly best, reminding us at a time when everything about America felt sacred, that there were still some things we could make fun of to distract us from our collective national pain—like Regis.

The other great TV dad of my life won’t shock you. I was a middle class black kid from New York. The existence of The Huxtables was proof that someone knew we were out there. Me and mine weren’t such an anomaly after all. “The Cosby Show” is like the home movies my family never had, my parents never being technologically forward enough to bother acquiring a gadget more advanced to capture our precious moments than a Polaroid camera. So, when I watch “The Cosby Show” today, it’s a chance to revisit the childhood my father made possible for me. This is the sort of patriarch I have first hand knowledge of—physically affectionate, emotionally available, silly, and professorial.

Watching Cliff love not only his kids, but his wife so easily, so unabashedly and with such deference is a model that I wish all little girls could have been exposed to. Actually, as I write, an epiphany. Cliff Huxtable and my actual father are in large part to blame for what—sadly—would be described these days as my high or unattainable standards when it comes to men. And all the time, I thought the cause of my romantic dysfunction rested solely with my mother and Oprah. Imagine that. It’s probably best we keep this little revelation to ourselves.

AM Radio

Coldplay - Violet Hill (Dancing Politicians). When a band bothers to make a video that is attempting to make you think, props are in order.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Tyra Time

Photo Credit: Ryan Afanador for the NY Times

I'm back from my hiatus. When Cannes comes calling what's a tellyphile to do? It's a glamorous life, and if it's my burden to live it, so I shall!

In other news...

If you're like me and you continue to be fascinated by the Tyra-as-Oprah's-mini-me-phenomenon, you'll want to check out this article on the growing Bankable empire. Whoever's in charge of such things should seriously consider making Tyra The Patron Saint of Mind-Numbing Earnestnessness. God bless her!

Monday, May 19, 2008

TellyPhile's Purely Gratuitous Men Pics: John Mayer

Hooray for gratuitous pictures of guys for a change! Woohoooo! Isn't it about time, ladies?

And yes, I am aware our first installment features John Mayer--that John Mayer--but, I've decided to embrace my secret and shameful perfectly justifiable crush and go public in a big way.

What better way to do so than with the blog read by...a couple relatives. Cricket, cricket.

Hat tip to my favorite blog for celeb pics, The Superficial.

Summer's Almost Here! Excited? Me Neither

Fancy a swing? The cast of "Swingtown". Photo Credit: cbs.

In response to overwhelming demand, I'm going to start posting my "The TV Set" weekly column as published in "The Examiner" a weekly paper published in Mt. Kisco, NY. Here's this week's:

Summer's almost here! Excited? Me neither.

Why should I be? It's bad enough that most people still have to go to work everyday, even as the weather tells them that that's exactly what they shouldn't be doing. The place to be is clearly a beach where men that look like McSteamy, Tyson Beckford and John Mayer are free to frolic like wild mustangs. I felt you recoil a little at the Mayer nod. Clearly, you haven't seen those poolside shots of him with Chinnifer Aniston. That's one cut sensitive guy with a guitar. Don'tjudge my crush. Especially since I'm pretty sure I saw you singing along with the New Kids at "Today". True, I can't prove it, but I have no qualms furthering malicious rumors.

"Down with summer" issue number two is of course the children—more specifically (insert nose wrinkle here) teenagers. I was in a diner recently, enjoying pancakes on a rainy weekday afternoon, when the comforting murmur of geriatric conversation was rudely punctured by a gang of teenage girls. There were only five of them, but it may as well have been an entire Hot Topic full because they were so mind numbingly loud. And mind you this was at like 11am—a time during the school year when public places can safely be deemed teenager-free zones. But not so come summer. They're free to roam about at all hours, chattering on endlessly about Facebook adds and Dannity Kane. Ick.

But matters like this pale in comparison to what you know is coming, my fellow telephiles. You know, as well as I that with every season finale we edge ever closer to the abyss of sleazy game shows and reality contests that is summer television. It's as if all of TV becomes "The Hills"—everybody gets really young, really blonde and really dumb. In short, we're Foxified, folks. Although, I shouldn't put it all on Fox when you consider NBC is proudly touting their "All American Summer". Cool, right? That must mean they're going to follow HBO's lead and bring us a really high-end miniseries about one of the founding fathers. It was really popular on HBO, props to NBC for picking up on that trend and running with it. Not so fast, Monk. All American summer means "American Gladiators" (Monday, 8pm) not heroes.You know, guys and gals in shiny leotards with names like "Rocket" and"Militia" and "Roid Rage". Why would we focus on actual American heroes during the summer? It's not like that's when we celebrate the birth of the nation or anything. Sucker.

It gets even scarier when you take a peek at what CBS is cooking upfor us come June. It's called "Swingtown" and no it's not about that dance craze you thought was dead along with Brian Setzer's career. It's actually about a town of swingers in the 1970s and it involves lots of censor-approved sexytime. And if you think the show couldn't get any cheesier than its unfortunate moniker, wait until you see the faux seventies staches and wigs on some of the dudes. Wow. When I was watching the trailer I kept waiting for Ben Stiller to show up so that it's clear that at the very least, the producers were aware they were making a comedy. I already saw the "Ice Storm", guys. I'm good on the swinger front. If by some snowball's chance I get a hankering, I'llwatch "Real Sex" not CBS.

Enter the game show realm and it goes from bad to gross. The titles alone speak volumes as to what we're up against—"I Survived a Japanese Game Show" (ABC) comes to mind along with the return of Fox's uplifting "Moment of Truth" and "Are You Smarter Than a FifthGrader?". If somehow you're actually a fan of the latter, you've already answered the question. Game over. Thank you for playing. The little bus will be here directly to see you safely home.

But you know, as much as I love negativity—in fact I cling to it like a life raft in a storm of sunshine and good cheer—there is a way to avoid having your brain completely Hiltonized by September. I speak of course of PBS, people! Old faithful. That bastion of publicly-funded brain power is the thinking person's ace in the hole. Documentary series like "Frontline" (good one tonight at 9pm by the way,
"GrowingUp Internet") and "American Masters" are an oasis in a dumbed-down Desert of Duh. Don't take it for granted. Bravo seems to have taken pity on us—and made a smart ratings move—by premiering the fifth season of "Project Runway" in July. Even ABC is countering some of their dumb with smart by premiering a new season of their globe-trotting sabotage reality contest "The Mole" (Mon., June 2,10pm) ensuring that fun TV doesn't have to make you feel as if you should shower afterwards. That's what the Internet's for.

There Can Only Be One

SNL's version of those "There Can Only Be One" ads or the prototype for the two-faced monster Howard Dean is thinking of cooking up in his basement.

AM Radio: The Return of Mraz

Gooooood morning, tellyphiles. This little ditty is called "I'm Yours" and the little white guy is Jason Mraz. You've probably heard his songs in bad movies and car commercials full of lots of background noise. But before he cashed in and sold out, Mraz was actually pretty decent by just sticking to the basics. Clearly, his mojo lies in Toca.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When Chris Matthews Attacks...

For any of you fools who missed "Hardball" tonight boy are you going to rue the day you made fun of my cable news addiction. It's for moments like this that I hang in there. Conservative radio show host which is like fancy people talk for "blowhard", Kevin James, got his ass handed to him by the HHIC (Head Hardballer In Charge) Chris Matthews. That'll teach you to try and pull a Sean Hannity on Matthews' watch, son. There's only room for one uninformed ass on these airwaves and Sheriff Matthews is going to see to it they're all confined to FoxNews.

Imagine if Chris used his considerable hardball powers for good all the time. Jimminy. I just got goosebumps.

UPDATE: Fighting starts at 4 minutes in. Pay close attention at 6:40secs when James gets in touch with his inner soul sista and starts jerking his head around Shanaynay style. Yes!

UPDATE2: If you're at work and can't play video, my favorite HuffPost blogger Jason Linkins gets it done with a transcript here.

The "Anatomy" of Good TV

If you're not watching "Grey's Anatomy" right now, you should be. This season continues to be the comeback story of the year.

Truest dialogue of the night:

MEREDITH: Are you in the dark place?



Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

Cate Does Cannes

Cate Blanchett at the 61st annual Cannes' opening ceremony. She just had a baby four weeks ago. I on the other hand have never had a child but have been struggling since I was eleven to lose the baby weight. Where are my Spanx?

The Seacresting of America

Photo credit: variety.com

Really, America? Really??

America's Next Top "Juicy Booty"

Photo credit: cw.com

So last night was the "America's Next Top Model" finale and that lardass Whitney won making ANTM history as the first plus-size model to go all the way. Ratings were the best of the season. All you BBW's don't get your XXL bloomies in a bunch over the lardass remark. Homegirl is a size 10 which makes her a waif in a lot of those states in the middle where corn is its own food group.

Anyway, I wish I felt a little more "empowered" or "gave a shit" about this victory for juicy booties everywhere, but instead I don't feel anything at all. That could also be due to my not moving in the past two hours. But I digress. Last night's finale, was a total letdown. This year should have been hot. The final runway showdown was going to be a Versace affair. Versace? Holy fashion gods! But perhaps because it was under the art direction of my favorite Tacky Rican Jay Manuel it was too fabulous. Too much glitter, too much tacky. The gowns were okay but you couldn't really see anything. Think about it. Isn't "Project Runway" and even "Full Frontal Fashion's" comparitively basic white set design a far better way to see which model is the fiercest? And that was another problem. Neither of final two was very fierce at all when it came to knowing how to get their stomp on. Anya's walk was more of a scurry and Whitney's wiggle, though thankfully more authoritative, wasn't much better.

As is usually the case, Tyra and her panel were operating in a parallel universe of perception. They kept talking about Whitney's immense beauty and about what a bombshell she is. And I loved how they kept trying to assign this alter ego thing to her. What is she Cybil? The only thing they got right was when Tyra said to Whitney when she was selected to be one of the final two, " you're not a nice girl are you Whitney" or something fucked up and weird like that. All I saw was a watered down Anna Nicole with to' up extensions. But then this is the same show that takes the experiment in real-time airbrushing that is Mr. Jay seriously. Me thinks I doth expect too much.

And P.S. -- if ya'll wanted a juicy booty which seemed to be last night's buzz words, you would have been better served to pick Toccara -- the juicy bootiest of them all.

TV Theme Song Hall of Fame

In honor of our first inductee, we do the dance of joy!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

CBS Gives "Old Christine" New Life

CBS is combatting the ick factor felt by friends of funny across the TV universe when ABC made the mind-boggling decision to renew their half hour crusade against comedy more commonly known (and i do mean common) as "According to Jim". The Eye is picking up the "The New Adventures of Old Christine" starring Julia Louis "Curse Shmurse" Dreyfuss. Look for it Wednesday nights at 8pm as lead-in to new sitcom "Project Gary". So much for the widely held belief that the network "had soured" on "Christine". Lead-in positioning like this points to some confidence in "Christine" does it not?

Or maybe it's a case of CBS not wanting ABC to have a chance at getting their clammy, desperado hands all over it since ABC was reportedly laying in wait to snatch up "Christine" for 22 epis if CBS dissed and dropped the show or tried to sell them short with a low epi order.

TellyPhile for one couldn't be happier. The fact that you've got networks fighting over "Old Christine" is excellent news for women in comedy. Here's a show, much like the Elaine character in "Seinfeld" that offers a refreshingly different version of being female. It says women can be just as antisocial, weird and overall Larry Davidy as the rest of ya and we don't have to look like Roseanne. Here's to not-so-nice girls. What the fuck are you looking at, pops? You want some of this? Let's go!

AM Radio: For Frank

Both of them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fraggle Feature

Photo credit: belfastcity.gov.uk

So now that I've got you in a Fraggle state of mind, allow me to knock your socks off with a doozer of a story. Okay, no more Fraggle lingo puns. The dope from EW.com is The Weinstein Company (run by the dynamic brother duo that brought us Miramax before Disney stole it from them) has decided to use their considerable filmmaking might for good, planning a live-action Fraggle Rock feature film. The original Fraggle-maker, The Jim Henson Co., is on board so it looks, at least in these early stages, like the project is legit. What could possibly go wrong you ask? Ahmet Zappa is listed as the projects executive producer. The last time I heard anything about Ahmet Zappa--and the fact that I've even heard of him is because I'm a really good listener--he was hosting a bad MTV gameshow and divorcing Selma Blair. Apparently, Ahmet aka "Mighty McFearless" he wrote a book for kids that a couple big studios wanted a piece of so he has exhibited some form of talent other than being born with a famous rock surname.

At any rate, now today's kids will have tangible evidence of why our 80s childhood was so much cooler than theirs. Radish stick, anyone?

AM Radio: Fraggles Rock

As I watched this video, I realized that my former boss bears a striking resemblance to the Gorgs.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Bill O'Reilly Is a Pleasure to Work With

Ok, so I've been postless all day. Not good. However, I'm pretty sure I was with the only person that reads this blog on a regular basis, so that lessens the egregiousness of it just a little doesn't it? At any rate, please accept this amaaaazingly delicious piece of tape of vintage Bill O'Reilly as part of my humble apology for being such a negligent blogger.

Least surprising thing about vintage Bill O': He's not exactly what you'd call a "people person".

Most suprising thing about vintage Bill O': He used to have a neck.

Gobble gobble.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

John McCain Visits The Daily Show

Photo credit: abcnews.com

If you missed McCain on "The Daily Show" last night, here are some key clips from over at Tuned In. Props to the old coot for playing along pretty smoothly when asked by Stewart if he was prepared to "reject and renounce" ole Dubya. Aaaaawwwkaaard. Seriously though, it's ballbuster but legit questions like that that convince me Stewart should be the general election debate moderator...like for all of them. We're in pretty sorry shape when a comedian will without a doubt ask more relevant, beneficial questions that get to the heart of the matter--who's going to fix what Bush hath broken and beyond--than our supposed leading political "journalists".
If your little eyeballs could use a break from the unflinching glow of your computer screen, you can also watch McCain's entire replay coming up at 8pm on Comedy Central. Who's got your back? That's right, friendo, I do! Now...go fetch me a cold one and make me a sandwich. By "cold one" I mean a chilled diet carbonated beverage which I'd consider plugging for the right amount of greenbacks and "make me a sandwich" is of course a euphemism for oral. Don't look so affronted. We're all legal here.

Baby Steps

A new you is possible, even for lazy creatures of habit like us tellyphiles.

Not ExZachtly Scrubbed

Photo credit: Dean Hendler/NBC
All you rabid "Scrubs" fans out there, allow me to relieve your heartbreak. TV Decoder confirms that ABC will in all likelihood be picking up the seven-year old laugher -- I'm sorry what show were we talking about again? Ooohh riiiight..."Scrubs" that show that I always forget to watch anyway.

Um, so if you want to get really hardcore about it, check out Zach Braff introing a clip from tonight's NBC finale episode. It's an homage to "The Princess Bride" (now the ridiculous pic makes sense. I know. I too was hoping it was a razzi pic of Zach and the fake Becky at Medieval Times. After all, stars "they're just like us!") and was directed by Mr. Garden State himself. This could be really funny, but the clip isn't -- unless of course you're a white guy who's into like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and how many of those are there really? Like all of them, right?

Midday Munchie: Whistle While You Don't Work

Peter, Bjorn and John - Young Folks. Advance apologies for getting this song stuck in your head.

See You in September

"Scrubs" may be gone for longer than September if ABC doesn't pick it up. At any rate, its last episode on NBC airs tonight, 8:30pm. If "Scrubs" goes then what show am I going to consistently forget about despite the fact that when I do stumble upon it it manages to mildly amuse...oh helloooo, "Big Bang Theory"! Didn't see you there.

You definitely haven't seen the last of "30 Rock". It's season finale airs tonight after "The Office" at 9:30pm. Now, Tina Fey will be free to be the opening act on Hillary's doomed "Bitch is the New Black, Nevermind Reality" tour.

Ugly Betty Gains Street Cred

Photo credit: smh.com
Hasa la vista, baby. "Ugly Betty" is saying goodbye to The Governator and the rest of Lala Land, making the move to New York City according to published reports.

This is good news for viewers. Sure, the world Betty lives in is supposed to be New York, but did you ever really believe it? The whole problem with Betty, and I get that it's supposed to be over-the-top and slightly cartoonish, is that it lacks street cred. The ficticious Mode offices look more like an Ikea store office model than the epicenter of the New York fashion world. Ditto for the characters' ensems. Again, I don't buy that because they're going for a color-saturated, over-the-top comedic feel with the set and costume design that it should feel any less metropolitan. Anyone remember the "Dick Tracey" movie or even "Roger Rabbit"? Betty's set designers would be well served if they did.

Maybe now we'll get some authentic "Sex and the City" like exterior scenes. Wouldn't it be cool if "Ugly Betty" transformed itself from African street vendor knockoff to the genuine article? I know, not very likely, but a tellyphile can dream.

Starzilla vs. BabWah

Photo credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images; Maury Phillips/WireImage
Star Jones roared back at Barbara Walters over comments Babs made on the "Oprah" show last week during her desperate media blitz for her yawn-all book "Audition". Star ain't havin none of it. You ain't sellin' books on my rapidly-shrinking back, Norma Desmond! I've only got room enough for G'Al!

Starlet Marie, as we like to call her, had no problem getting ugly(er) in response to Barbara's claims that Star was kicked off "The View" because no one likes a phony. Le Wawa also said Zilla was a heavy breather (as someone who is so well-connected she had to do a phone interview with Star a while back, I'm going to have to second that). In response, Star called Babs out as a classless old hoe desperate for attention now that time wasn't on her side . Diss! Read her full statement here, Barbara's (non)response here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Know Your TellyPhile History

For those of you in New York, learn yourself a little something about the people who helped make television the monster medium it is today. PBS net, WLIW (channel 21) is airing the second episode of their four part doc "Pioneers of Television" Saturday at 8pm. Segment will focus on the fathers of late night television. Jimmy Fallon, consider it required viewing for your newbie ass. At least they didn't pick Carson "Poser" Daly.

Britney Hitting Us One More Time

Photo credit: abcnews.com

Ahh, what May sweeps hath wrought. Britney continues to pull a Comeback Kid when she reprises her critically acclaimed role as that chick behind the receptionist desk on "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS) May 12th. Enough with the fake acting, Brit Brit. Fake singing was always your strong suit.

Mrs. Cannon

"Oprah" is all about gossip today as she employs a panel of cablenews-like talking heads that include George Steph's wife Alexandra something or other (as usual, she comes across more desperate to be funny than Kathy Griffin can), Gayle King and Mr. Kelly Ripa - Marc Consuelos.

Oprah made an otherwise ho-hum show interesting by teasing the audience with pics from a People magazine spread of Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's hush hush island nuptials. Ooh! And in a scoop to beat all scoops, Oprah tells us the songbird that makes us say "Hmm" got a "Mrs. Cannon" tattoo across her back. Going to suck when she has to get that changed to "Mr., Scan On!" My favorite is the shot of young Nick full-on carrying Mariah in his arms.
Who knew the little tyke had it in him?

Classic GMA

Photo credit: underwatertime.com

You've gotta love this. I'm doing my usual flip around to all the morning shows, well not CBS, who counts them? But let's see, the Today show is talking about the huge political storyline emerging from last night's all nighter democratic primary -- Hillary may actually have no choice but to hang it up -- and what's ABC's Good Morning America talking about at the top of the hour? A goldfish that plays fetch.

And there it was.

AM Radio

And your bird can sing...cubicle be damned!

Obama Said Knock You Out

We're in the umpteenth hour of coverage of the North Carolina and Indiana primaries and it looks like Obama shut Hillary down in NC 56/42 and lost by a slim margin 51/49 (Clinton) in IN. She'll probably stay in it because she's HRC. But I say from now on, everyone start calling her Hillabee.
I mainly ride the remote between MSNBC and CNN. Kudos to the powers that be by the way for keeping their station breaks in tandem for easy switching back and forth. The real fun though came when I took a peek at what was going on at Faux News. The place looked like a morgue, with a panel of old, grumpy GOP dinosaurs sitting around looking like someone just threw their candy in the sand. Na na na na na!

In other news, Hillary has cancelled all her morning show appearances and CNN's Map Master John King is beginning to look like an autistic at that big screen of his. Someone might want to slowly sit him down in between breaks. The poor guy looks like a touchscreen Rain Man out there.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Nobody likes Star Jones, Rosie Rages

Anyone not watching the "Oprah" show better hightail it to HarpoLand. Barbara Walters is singing like a canary. Best so far, her admission that Rosie is capable of great rage and that "The View" audience, after prolonged exposure steadily grew to loathe Star Jones. I know, I know, it's kind of like "come on Babs, tell us something we didn't know" but there's something delish about hearing it come from the "R"-impaired horse's mouth.

AM Radio

A little something to vote to if you're in Indiana and North Carolina. Interesting to watch all of these shows on cable news and all they can talk about is what makes for good politics instead of Truth and what will really help people. This could be because on cable news, there are fewer and fewer journalists doing the hosting and more more of these "analysts" who in a former life were republican and democratic strategists. It's all pretty gross, isn't it?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Rosie's Wright

Boys and girls, we just hit paydirt. Paydirt? Bygones. I just felt Sean Hannity and O'Reilly seize somewhere in paroxysms of white male rage and scandal whore joy. KL & Hoda asked, and they received just the sort of controversial statements they were seeking. How can you not love the sheer "I don't give a fuck"ness of the inimitable Rosie O.
Amidst the "Hello Lancaster" signs eagerly waved by "Today's" outside the studio, middle America audience, Rosie just defended the reverend white America loves to hate saying that she didn't feel the things preached by the Rev were wrong. Kathy Lee blanched a little from under her fake tan, the audience though, in keeping with their milling about cattle like tendencies did little more than mouth "Hi, Mom".

Kathy Lee = Awkward

And Rosie hasn't even come out yet. She and Hoda are still involved in their wannabe Regis & Kelly Lee banter. So KL is talking about her dog and asks Hoda if she can change her dog Lola's name to Hoda because she "accidentally" called her dog Hoda the other day and she responded better to that. Oh KL, you're as awful as we remembered.

This Just In: Rosie w/ Kathy Lee on "Today"

Sometimes you wake up on a Monday morning, and there are television gifts like this just waiting for you. Let's hope one or the other forgot their mood stabilizing meds. Stay tuned...

Friday, May 02, 2008

Midday Munchie: The British Are Coming!

Erm...tellyphiles can be anglophiles too.

AM Radio

Kate Nash - Foundations. This song is brought to you by my ex boyfriend and the letters F and U. Even if the song isn't your cup o' tea, immerse yourself in that Brit accent, mate. Now, where did I put me trainers? That's sneakers for you lot of American wankuhs.

Is it Just TellyPhile?

photo credit: bbc.co.uk /huffingtonpost.com

Or does Scarborough bear an uncanny resemblance to the penguin jewel thief from the claymation classic "The Wrong Trousers" starring Wallace and Gromit? Same beady little eyes.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Susie Sixpack

It's okay, Hil. We all know you're more a beer and whisky gal anyway.

Wednesday Ratings Redux

Does "Idol" suck more than usual this year, or are Americans actually getting...smarter? "Deal or No Deal" isn't doing as well either.

People, things may be looking up! If we manage to put the candidate who truly has testicular fortitude into the Oval Office this time around, and isn't just a pandering pol, it could mean a resurgence of the American intellect that'll make even those wily Japanese nervous. Reaching? You may have a point. I haven't come out on the right side of anything to do with numbers since Brett Michaels had hair. How do we feel about Canada? No country with their shit together mathematically would call their dollar the "loonie". Suckers.

Hardy Har Har

I was already plenty amused by the quietly funny intellect of Matthew Broderick when put up against the deliciously awkward, hypereverything interviewing style that is Reg's signature when Broderick stopped by "Regis & Kelly" this morning to promote his new movie, "Then She Found Me: Helen Hunt Lives" (example: Matthew complains about having a cold, Regis follows up by asking whether or not Broderick's wife SJP had "captured" his cold. "Captured my cold?" Matthew responds clearly as amused as I was. Yes!)

But little did we know, from there, things would only get better.

"Fierce" Creature

Hilarious "Project Runway" winner and divo extraordinaire Christian Siriano guests on "Ugly Betty" tonight, bitches. You better work!

Nina Garcia's on too (yawn).

When Icons Collide - SATC on Oprah

photo credit: marieclaireuk.com

Say what you will about Oprah, but when it comes to May sweeps Ms. Winfrey don't play. Yesterday there was the possibility of seeing David Blaine bite it live on television in a giant fishbowl, today it's Sarah J and her well dressed amigas on Oprah this afternoon for what is just the beginning of the Sex and the City: The Movie hoopla. And don't lose your shit yet, girls. Tom Cruise is coming at ya in all his wackadoodleness tomorrow. But back to Sarah Jessica. What do you think the real deal is with her and the rest of the girls? Word on the street is when Sarah Jessica and Kim interact it sounds like this:

SJP: rawwwrrr
KIM: hiss...scratch...hiss

In the end what really matters is that they keep up that glamorous Sex and the City facade that leaves me feeling high on the fabulousness of New York City and its fashion and pretty low about my position squarely outside of it. I blame this on being a girl. Women are masochists by nature. How else to explain our choices in men and shoes.

If Spring Was a Song...

It'd be Vampire Weekend's A-Punk.
Cubicle dancing for all!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Bad Brew

Since I've become obsessed with the presidential race, and there's no love lost in my world for the Big Three's morning shows (Diane Sawyer, Robin shaved her head. Isn't it time you got rid of the mullet?) MSNBC's "Morning Joe" has been my morning show of choice.

As I've become more familiar with the alarmingly small-eyed Scarborough, I've become less and less a fan. Something about the way he incessantly feeds at the teat of Momma Hillary every morning is really starting to gross me out. I guess we know Joe likes his cup with cream, eh? But this morning I was pleased to see that Joe was absent and the slightly more tolerable Mika Brzezinski was in his stead. Sure that wormy little Willie Geis was still around but that's okay. I trusted that Mika could keep him in check.

But alas, my pleasure was quickly usurped by dismay...then frustration...then anger by two words that set my teeth on edge: Pastor Problem.

Reverend Wright spoke and of course the mainstream media finds it necessary to pore over the what they've deemed the worst of it and try to incite Rev. Wright Controversy: Part Deux.

It's official. Journalists should officially be added to the endangered species list.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Real Housewives of Orange County" Reunion

Photo courtesy: tvguide.com

Tonight at 9pm EST on Bravo, the "Real Housewives" reunite for one last chance to burn each other at the stake--I mean, celebrate their friendship--and the season that was. Up for discussion will be Lauri's wedding, Jeana and Vicky's frenemies issues, and whether or not something of Quinn's is real. I really hope they're not wasting time talking about whether the boobs behind that bad mom cleavage are authentic. Of course they are. Who would pay for that? Oh and Jo is also supposed to make an appearance. Listen, girl. If you haven't served up your ridiculous existence for my entertainment all season, you can't show up at the reunion for what we all know is your attempt at promoting your new life as a "recording artist".

In honor of the ladies, every time one of our well-maintained divas makes a thinly-veiled catty remark, inject a shot of Botox "Pulp Fiction" style into the heart of the BFF sitting closest to you.

When TV Worlds Collide: What's Sergio Doing on "Tyra"?

Photo courtesy: usatoday.com

Home sick and in my delirium find my remote pointing towards "Tyra". UPN is always dangerous television terrain. I should have known better than to go anywhere near it in my weakened condition.

But what's this? File this under "When TV World's Collide". Tyra's doing some weird, half-baked social experiment (as usual) and me thinks the bespectacled 6'3" 300lber going on about how he wants a woman who he won't have to share clothes with is none other than the "unusual" homeowner from last Saturday's "Trading Spaces" premiere (pictured center, above). That's right. It's Sergio! We knew Sergio was a rare bird when he broke one of the basic rules of TS and tried to get a peak (see stalk his ex wife...allegedly) at the new design of his budoir. Now this Fat Joe standin has the nerve to say he wouldn't roll with a fellow plumper? Sergio, those in elastic waistbanded houses should not throw twinkies, my friend.

Say What?!!: Paige Returns to "Trading Spaces"

Photo courtesy: nydailynews.com

A few years ago, the coolest uncool show to be a fan of was TLC's "Trading Spaces". Sadly, that all changed a few years ago when they canned the woman who was the heart and soul of the show, host Paige Davis. Things quickly devolved from there and the show fell into permanent sucktitude. Live and learn, or get rid of the dumbass producers who would commit such an egregious error in the first place I suppose, because Paige is back, bitches!

That's right, tellyphiles, your eyes weren't deceiving you last Saturday night. Immediately following the Miss America Pageant or as I like to call it the "Are Women Still this Needy? Show", Paige's bubbly mug was beamed into our living room and it was like taking a time machine back to 2005. There she was, requisite short & spunky haircut in place, happily chirping the rules to the homeowners just like the good ole days. "Trading Spaces" purists will be happy to know that perky Paige isn't the only "old school" part of the show that was brought back. That cheesy theme song, dada da da da!, the 1,000 budget to do one room, and the designers you either love to hate or love to love were reintroduced to the "Trading Spaces" faithful.

One interesting new twist--homeowners no longer have to be next door neighbors. The season premiere featured ex-spouses redecorating each other's bedrooms. AWK-WARD. Next week, a brave woman redecorates a room that belongs to her mother-in-law. I'm all over it.

Producers played it smart and kicked things off with veteran "Trading Spaces" designer badasses Doug Wilson and Hildi Santo Tomas. Where the roster of designers employed by "Trading Spaces" as of late was as bland as beige, Doug and Hildi are a breath of personality-infused fresh air. Doug is a complex mix of dandified city slicker with just a dollop (or two) of ego and the devil. He's the perfect snotty, sarcastic ying to Paige's upbeat, effervescent yang.
And what can you say about Hildi? She's still fabulous. Still comes with that vaguely European air of reserve and disdain for the mundane entreaties from her suburban homeowners who naively persist in asking her to do something a little more approachable--a design that doesn't require the nailing of a couple thousand rubber rings to a couple's bedroom walls for instance.
I shit you not, people. Black rubber rings were everywhere. The end result was a room that looked like it'd been caught in the net of a fisherman who'd been trolling the Sea of "Hell to the Naw". It was deliciously ugly-beautiful, vintage Hildi. I'm not ashamed to admit, I teared up a little.

Next week "Trading Spaces" airs at its regular time - (TLC) Saturday, 9pm EST.