TV Land Awards: Where you know everyone’s name

Honestly, the TV Land Awards barely qualify as part of awards season — like, say, the People’s Choice Awards, they’re kind of decided on who says they’ll show up to accept the trophy (which look like they’re made of Styrofoam spray-painted silver) — but that doesn’t mean that they don’t lure a galaxy of stars. The casts of “Cheers,” “Good Times,” “Batman” and “Dallas” — including the big names, like Ted Danson, John Amos, Adam West and Larry Hagman, not just supporting players poignantly intent on keeping their faces in front of the public — turned up in a Santa Monica Airport hangar Sunday night to receive awards for shows that have long since left the air (except, of course, for syndication). It’s a cheeky ceremony that, reasonably enough, refuses to take itself seriously.

(Here’s the point where you’re grateful that I didn’t elaborate on my nightmare, 2 1/2 drive from Echo Park to Santa Monica on the day of the LA Marathon. But my head almost exploded and I’m still bitter.)

Here’s a question: What accounts for TV Land’s success? (Last year, the network says, 24 million people watched the TV Land Awards, though not at once — it was repeated several times; nonetheless, that’s how many people see an original episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which was named Future Classic on Sunday.)

Which is another way of saying, I suppose, what accounts for nostalgia in general? Are TV Land’s shows really that good and enduring, or are viewers more intent on escaping today’s grim realities by retreating to days that seem relatively safer via the TV shows of their childhood? (Interestingly, many of TV Land’s shows come from the ’70s, when the U.S. was also embroiled in a seemingly unwinnable war, so how innocent were those days/shows?)

Not a powerfully original thought, I concede. But still, here’s a question for TV Land viewers: Why do you watch? The shows or the memories?

In the “House”

“Were doing Gods work, proclaimed David Shore, creator of the Fox medical drama “House. He was responding to a woman who runs a foundation for or rather, against — vasculitis (and for those who suffer from it), who thanked him for bringing awareness to the disease by mentioning it on the show. He was also kidding.

It was “Houses turn for the Museum of TV and Radio’s Paley TV Festival treatment tonight at the DGA. An audience that was a little more fawning toward the stars and creators than the “My Name is Earl crowd was the night before were treated to an upcoming episode in which House the crank played by Hugh Laurie whose medical brilliance is rivaled only by his anti-social misanthropy got to solve a crime as well as a medical mystery.

The panel discussion afterwards was a little foursquare, nuts-and-bolts affair for a while, detailing the shows creation in a fashion that if you were enough of a fan of the show to attend the event, you had probably already read in one or more articles on the series. Creator David Shore joked, “I tend to take all my characters and attach the word `hostile in their descriptions. Or maybe that one wasnt a joke.

But things got more interesting when the actors started talking out of school. Robert Sean Leonard decried the kind of scripts actors receive: “Just watch the Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday morning shows thats what most scripts you get are.
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Another round of Stern v. Moonves

Howard Stern hasn’t exactly been shy about slagging CBS CEO Les Moonves since the latter slapped the former with a lawsuit seeking hundreds of millions of dollars for plugging his move to satellite radio on CBS Radio’s airwaves. And now, according to the most tersely worded press release I’ve ever received from CBS, he’ll get to pound away at Moonves on CBS itself, with David Letterman as his corner man.

Stern will appear on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on Monday, March 13. The press release makes no mention of the lawsuit, but you’d be a fool if you think Stern will be so polite as to do the same while chatting with Letterman.

The main question is, how far will Stern have to go before Moonves — or someone — decides there’s no point to running anti-CBS propaganda on CBS.

Here’re a few quotes from Stern’s recent appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show to give you an idea of what he’ll likely be telling Dave: “I’m a CBS stockholder. I’d like to know why (Moonves is) spending money on frivolous lawsuits.”

“I was a loyal player, and this is no way to repay a guy after all of this hard work. When you know the lawsuit has no merit, this is vindictive. This is vicious. This is jealousy. This is being green with envy. It’s a shame on CBS. The once great CBS, the home of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite. What a — what a knock. This is not the CBS any more.”

Stern seemed distraught in the video when he first discussed the lawsuit, so his Les-bashing isn’t just an act. And Letterman should prove an enabler — he’s done plenty of Moonves mauling on his show in the past. As I said, it’ll be interesting to see just how much of this’ll actually get on the air.

Oscars: Backlash to the backlash

Honestly, this wasnt unforeseen: A bunch of people are really hacked off that Crash? beat Brokeback Mountain? for the Best Picture Oscar. Guess thats why they call it an upset.?

A reader clued me into this, which offers a good overview of the controversy, wondering if Hollywood is as progressive as George Clooney proclaimed it to be and (inevitably) raising questions regarding lingering strains of homophobia in the industry:

another step toward irrelevance?

And then, there are the folks who just thought Crash? was somewhere between undeserving of Hollywoods highest honor and an unrelentingly overheated cheesefest. Heres just one of many items from defamer.com, which in its live-blogging of the ceremony, concluded, WORST. OSCARS. EVER.?:

Oscar hangover

If you agree and havent checked it out yet, defamer.com has plenty of amusing barbs blowtorching Crash.?

Gordon Parks (1912-2006): A renaissance man’s renaissance man

“As far as being a ‘renaissance man,’ I haven’t learned to spell the word yet,” Gordon Parks joked to me in 2000, when he had just released a new book of photography and poetry, an exhibit featuring his photography, music, films and novels was being presented in Exposition Park, and HBO was premiering a documentary exploring his pioneering and versatile achievements.

Parks died today in New York at the age of 93. His was an amazing life, and he was an extraordinarily modest man, as that Daily News interview in 2000, reprinted here, suggests:

When Gordon Parks was taking his prize-winning photos of the devastating effects of segregation in Alabama for Life magazine, or when he was conducting an orchestral concert of his own compositions in Venice in the 1950s, or when he was directing “The Learning Tree” from his own autobiographical novel for Warner Bros., he wasn’t considering the historical ramifications of his being the first African-American to break such ground.

“Everything I did was a means for survival, not necessarily genius,” Parks says matter-of-factly today. “I had to buy breakfast the next morning. It was a job; I wanted to try to excel. I wasn’t working for all black people – I was working for myself. What I was doing just so happened to help young black people.”

And we haven’t even gotten around to the three autobiographies and other novels and books of poetry; the Vogue fashion spreads; his influential film “Shaft,” which kick-started the blaxploitation movement; his ballet homage to Martin Luther King Jr. And there were numerous other highly politicized photo shoots that leapt out at readers from the pages of Life, including a profile of an impoverished Brazilian boy named Flavio that was transformed into a short film and inspired readers to send the child’s family money. Likewise, we haven’t mentioned the 45 honorary doctorates he has received – not bad for a guy who quit high school after a white teacher advised him to abandon his dreams of college.
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“Earl” receives good karma

Here are a few gems from the Paley Television Festival’s tribute to “My Name is Earl,” held tonight at the Directors Guild of America and sponsored by the Museum of TV and Radio:

“Worst Actor Ever:” That’s Jaime Pressly (who plays Earl’s ex-wife Joy) on one of her own colleagues, Jason Lee’s stand-in. “He’ll have to do some lines, and I think, ‘Oh, my God, where is Jason?’” (If the poor guy was there that night, he didn’t admit it.)

“I feel like an @$$#*!&:” Ethan Suplee (Earl’s dim-witted brother Randy) after one of his many responses delivered monosyllabically (except, of course, for that last word).

And, after screening a very funny flashback episode (which has yet to air) that sort of revealed the origins of the group’s dynamic — they believe the Y2K bug destroyed mankind, so they begin living in a superstore and fumble about creating a new civlization — series creator Greg Garcia explained, “We thought it would be funny if the one thing they planned for was Y2K and it didn’t happen. And that they would be better people only if everyone else on the planet died.”
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Oscars: Just a thought

On Oscar night, everyone assiduously mentions how PriceWaterhouseCooperMcMandateCohenAlexandriaLoonDeTard (and whoever the accounting company has merged with in the past 45 minutes) has heroically prevented results of the upcoming Academy Award winners from getting out more than The United Arab Emirates may protect our East-Coast ports, yet tonight, it seemed just about all the pundits at ABC were echoing the same theme: There’s always a surprise at the Oscars (which isn’t really true); “Crash” could realistically upset “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture, and so on. And, indeed, “Crash” swiped top honors from the frontrunner.

Hence, a question for conspiracy theorists: Are these results really that protected? Were these guys tipped off in advance? Or are they just really good pundits, who divined the intentions of a capricious Academy far more sagely than widely-established-for-months conventional wisdom? At any rate, they sort of undercut the drama: Viewers for all the red-carpet nonsense were already primed to accept “Crash’s” victory as something less than a surprise.

Oscars: Hate to say I told you so

No, that’s a lie. I love to say that there’s no reason on Earth why the Academy Awards should be taken seriously as a worthwhile measure of cinematic quality.

The Academy of Morons Who Thought Crash Was a Better Film Than Brokeback Mountain just proved it. Next year, really, these clowns need to be ignored.

Oscars: Plastic surgery or bobcat attacks?

During all the endless post-Oscar prattle, the TV folks are talking to anyone they can get, and I don’t want to name any names, but for God’s sake, I must’ve seen what surely represents millions of dollars in malpractice suits against plastic surgeons. Honestly, some of these people look like their faces are covered in Mondo, that spackle you trowel on over dents in your car.