Thursday, May 2, 2013

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?  How do we feel about a Fred Rogers biopic?  (And who on earth do you get to play Mr. Rogers?)
MY BUNS HAVE NO SEEDS: They may be tearing down the Wendy's in Queens which served as McDowell's in Coming to America.
NOT TO BE USED FOR GAMBLING PURPOSES:  The Scripps National Spelling Bee folks have released the data on this year's 281 entrants. Only two five-timers: Georgia's Rachel Cundey, who fell just shy of primetime last year, and Emily Keaton, whom Shonda once described as "gorgeous long flowing red hair and looks very self-possessed. I think she might run the country someday." 

The four-timers might be better-known in these parts, including Sriram Hathwar, once the youngest speller in Bee history (and who has done a TEDx talk about it); Grace Remmer ("long hair and glasses, a weary confidence and she asks about Greek roots just because she can"); and NYC's Arvind Mahankali, who placed third place in each of the past two years. Also with some reputation? Two siblings of past national champions -- third-timer Vanya Shivashankar (the only perfect score in last year's written round), and Ashwin Veeramani. And because we always pay attention to such things, your Jamaican entrant this year is Christian J.D. Allen, whose story you can read here. Four weeks to go.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

YOUR AWARD IS BEHIND DOOR NUMBER 1, 2, OR 3? With the networks down to 4 Soap Operas and the show relegated to HLN this year, the Daytime Emmys are of questionable relevance, but a few notes from the nominations list:
  • Ann Curry is nominated as part of the anchor team for Today for Best Morning Program, which also gives us Emmy nominees Mo Rocca and Serena Altschul as part of the CBS Sunday Morning team.
  • While not nominated for Best Game Show, Funny or Die Presents Billy On The Street is nominated for Best Game Show Host (over Viera and Carey).
  • David Tennant gets a first Emmy nomination for his voice work on Clone Wars (I believe he was ineligible for Doctor Who, since it's a BBC production without US involvement, while coproductions like Downton Abbey and Sherlock are eligible).
  • Ziggy Marley (multiple Grammy winner) is up for an original song Emmy, as is Sheryl Crow.
  • Game show legends Monty Hall and Bob Stewart get lifetime achievement awards.

THE LEGEND OF HELMS' TOOTH:  An oral history of the making of the Hangover movies, which also helps add some names to our who-said-no database: Paul Rudd and Jack Black in the Bradley Cooper slot, and Jonah Hill, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Thomas Haden Church all at least under consideration for the Zach Galifianakis part.
YOU HAD A POCKET FULL OF HORSES -- TROJAN, AND SOME OF THEM USED:  If you were thinking about reading Touré's new book, I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became An Icon, you totally should. Basically, it's three linked essays on the Purple One exploring him through the prisms of sexuality (duh), religion (duh), and the Generation X divorce culture (well, that's different), and while some of it didn't click for me, or a bit too let-me-show-you-all-the-research-I-did show-offy (or too Sociology 101, on the other hand), in the end Touré makes a convincing argument that Prince is a fundamentally conservative artist who used sex as the way to get your attention, when what he really wanted to do was preach the gospel.

Among the fascinating stuff Touré chronicles: just how many Prince songs portray him as sexually inexperienced compared to the woman he's with (and how he rises to the occasion every time); how many feature the number seven (or seventeen); and his thing about bathing with women ("Computer Blue," "The Ballad of Dorothy Parker," "If I Was Your Girlfriend" ...).  Plus the story of how badly it went when the Rolling Stones asked Prince to open for them at the LA Memorial Coliseum in 1981.  Excerpt here.
CAN HER MOTHER BEAR ALL THE EXCITEMENT? Next weekend, Walt Disney World will hold royal coronation ceremonies to induct Merida as The Eleventh Official Disney Princess. She is the first Princess (a) from Pixar, (b) not inspired by literature or history, (c) without a love interest, as well as (d) who doesn't sing.

ALOTT5MA Style Guide Question: do we accept "coronate" as a verb, or is Dennis Green right and we should only use "crown"?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I WAS A TYPICAL THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD AMERICAN GIRL:  Five years ago, I suggested that there was no newspaper obit more stale than that of Deanna Durbin's, the contemporary of Judy Garland who once the highest-paid female star in the world and then, in her mid-twenties, decided she had had enough of Hollywood, enough of fame, and moved to a farmhouse in France for the rest of her life. (How famous? Anne Frank had a Durbin picture on her wall.)  That was 1949, and she never changed her mind.

Ms. Durbin passed away a few days ago; her films live on. Here's her "Nessum Dorma," or if you want to see where it started, an excerpt from 1936's "Every Sunday," in which she co-starred with Garland. To learn more, start where I did: Jeanine Basinger's fantastic book, The Star Machine, which describes the ways in which Hollywood turned Edna Mae Durbin into "Deanna," and you may understand why there became more important things for Durbin than being famous.
CANNOT UNSEE:  Parks & Recreation: the XXX Parody trailer (not really SFW, but no nudity), from the same people who did the 30 Rock and Lebowski adult adaptations.
IS THIS BECAUSE I'M A LESBIAN? Following up on their epic list of Good Wife guest stars, BuzzFeed ranks all 36 prosecutors to ever appear on Law & Order and its spinoffs in hotness order.  (Both male and female included on the same list.)
EGOT WATCH:The big surprise of the Tony nominations is that despite stellar reviews, Bette Midler doesn't have a shot of advancing her chances of EGOT, but a few folks that do:
  • Tom Hanks, who's up for Best Actor in a Play, and if he wins, would be missing only a Grammy.
  • Holland Taylor, up for Best Actress, who already has an Emmy.
  • Cyndi Lauper, up for Best Score for Kinky Boots, would need only an Oscar to finish hers if she wins, having won an Emmy for Mad About You.  Sadly, "The Goonies R Good Enough" did not get her that.
  • Tony Shalhoub, up for Featured Actor in a Play, has several Emmys from Monk.
  • Andrea Martin, frontrunner for Featured Actress in a Musical, has two Emmys for writing SCTV.
As projected, looks like Kinky Boots and Matilda will square off, but the other surprise is that despite huge ticket sales, Motown didn't get into the top categories.
TWIGS AND BARK, REJECTED: The Roskilde-sickness-inflicting New Nordic restaurant Noma has been dethroned from its three year reign as Greatest Restaurant in the World According To Restaurant Magazine, bumped down to number two in favor of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, whose standout dish is described as "Charcoal-grilled king prawn, king-prawn sand, ink rocks, fried legs, head juice and king prawn essence."

The Red, White, and Blue is represented in the top 50 by Eleven Madison Park (NYC - 5), Per Se (NYC - 11), Alinea (Chicago - 15),  Le Bernardin (NYC - 19), Daniel (NYC - 29), and French Laundry (Yountville - 47).

Monday, April 29, 2013

IF THEY'RE THE REAL CHICAGO F#@*&N' FANS...: The Chicago Cubs are 9-15 heading into tonight's game, but 30 years ago today they were an even worse 5-14 following a loss to the Dodgers, prompting Lee Elia to launch into easily the best managerial tirade of all time. (To celebrate the anniversary , perhaps someone should get Michael Shannon to do a dramatic reading)

We covered the 25th anniversary here.

I'M IN:  What I can say about the season four finale of The Good Wife, without spoiling, is that the two key decisions the creators made are ones which are borne of confidence.  The tracking polls were not good for the first part of this season, but after this last-minute surge I am giddy about what's next.

[N.B. Please leave emergency election court proceedings to lawyers experienced in election law. Please?]

One quote, from a spoiler-filled interview with the Kings, after the fold:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

GONNA FLY NOW: With music and lyrics from Ragtime's Ahrens/Flaherty and book from three-time Tony winner (Hairspray, Annie, The Producers) Tom Meehan and Sylvester Stallone, Rocky: The Musical will arrive at the Winter Garden Theatre, currently home to Mamma Mia!, next February.  (But don't worry, ABBA-heads, Mamma Mia is just moving a few blocks down the street to the Broadhurst, where it will continue to run.)  Next season is already shaping up to be an interesting one for musicals, with Rocky, Big Fish, Disney's Aladdin, Diner: The Musical (with an original score by Sheryl Crow), Houdini, Ever After, and If/Then (the Idina Menzel show from the folks who did Next To Normal) all currently having plans.  (Contrast this year, where it's likely at least one of the four Best Musical nominees will be long-closed.)