There are some weeks where I don't even know why I bother doing these at all. Seriously, what with the deaths of Sydney Pollack and Harvey Korman, Sharon Stone pulling a Jerry Falwell, Brett Ratner's decision to stop dicking around with Chris Tucker knock-offs and go straight to the source, the threat of a Phish reunion, the reality of rock's demise–and lest we forget, the arrival of the Four Horse(faced Wo-)men Of The Apocalypse–the past seven days have already seen more than their fair share of depressing news, and damn it, I didn't get to make easy potshots about any of it! But imagine my surprise upon checking over my pockmarked RSS feed and discovering that, while my colleagues have already consumed most of the flank steak on this decaying sacred cow we call showbiz, lo and behold there's still plenty of gristle and fat for me to chew on. So fire up the grill; Friday Buzzkills is what's for dinner.
- There are plenty of skin-crawling facets of the ongoing R. Kelly trial–the fact that Kelly's 14-year-old alleged victim was apparently a frequent visitor to his recording studio, for example, regularly doing her homework there and sleeping over with the consent of her parents; icky, quibbling testimony about braces in the middle of a pornography trial–but this week featured the saddest revelation of all, and for once it had nothing whatsoever to do with R. Kelly's penis: According to state's investigator Alexandra Guerrero, Kelly's indoor basketball court features a mural based on the movie Space Jam, which shows Kelly "playing basketball against the cartoon Tasmanian Devil while Michael Jordan referees. In the stands sit other Looney Tunes characters, including Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, and Foghorn Leghorn–who holds a sign reading 'Go R. Kelly!'" While the idea of Kelly commissioning some starving art school graduate to paint a Neverland-esque testament to his permanently stunted inner child is depressing on several levels, we suppose it could have been worse: Foghorn could have been cheering him on from the ceiling of his bedroom.
- There's a certain amount of snickering delight one gets from seeing an outré ego–and let's face it, an admitted kiddy-diddler–like Kelly getting his day in court, but we take absolutely no pleasure in seeing beloved, previously untarnished stars like Bill Murray being accused of things like spousal abuse. And sadly, that's just one of the many charges being levied against the comedian by his estranged wife Jennifer in her scathing divorce petition, in which she claims that Murray's "adultery, addiction to marijuana and alcohol, abusive behavior, physical abuse"–including a 2007 incident during which he allegedly hit her in the face and said she was "lucky he didn't kill her"–"sexual addictions, and frequent abandonment" has led her to seek both a dissolution of their marriage and a restraining order against him. Maybe it's a given that most clowns are, to borrow a quote from Quick Change, "the crying on the inside kind" (or even the "asshole on the outside kind") but come on…"Sexual addictions?" Guess some girls just don't appreciate the Aunt Jemima treatment.
- Normally in the face of ugly separations, the news of a blessed union should be cause for celebration–but not when it involves Clay Aiken and his sperm. According to TMZ, Aiken recently artificially inseminated his producer Jaymes Foster–for the sake of clarification on several levels, a woman–with his whitebread soul seed, apparently hoping to become a father without having to deal with all those yucky lady parts. We're not sure which is the saddest part of this story: That we're looking down the barrel of several weeks of inevitable People and Us pictorials featuring a frolicking Aikenspawn; that the child will no doubt grow up having to explain to his classmates that Daddy doesn't live with Mommy because he's too busy doing his one-man show in Branson; or that Clay Aiken's "best friend" is the 50-year-old woman who helped him spit-shine A Thousand Different Ways. (And yes, while it's probable that this story is patently untrue, given the track record of its "blog first, get sued later" source, the fact that we've been forced into having a national conversation on Aiken's sperm is buzzkill enough.)
- Speaking of things being inserted where they don't belong, the rankling abomination that is S. Darko–the cheapie, Richard Kelly-less sequel to cult favorite Donnie Darko we first gazed in horror upon here–just got even abominationier with the addition of Saved By The Bell and Showgirls "star" Elizabeth Berkeley to the cast. While the mere existence of this project has had us wishing for a stray jet engine big enough to wipe out all of Hollywood for a while now, we have to admit that Berkley's dead eyes and rock-bottom standards (though sadly, not her violent, primate-based approximations of sexual congress) will be put to good use on a project so ineffably soulless. And besides, her character is reportedly a former "speed freak," a role she's spent her lifetime preparing for.
- What with his slow, painful fall from cinematic grace ever since 1998's Buena Vista Social Club, we're half-surprised that formerly revered German auteur Wim Wenders hasn't tried picking over the bones of his own triumphs for a little much-needed reboot (Back To Paris, Texas, maybe?). Sadly, if the dire reviews from Cannes are to be believed, Wenders may be on the verge of never working in this proverbial town again: In his relentless slam of Wenders' Palermo Shooting, The Hollywood Reporter's Peter Brunette calls Wenders' latest effort "a film of startling and embarrassing banality, and yes, even silliness," full of ponderous images like the protagonist repeatedly hanging on to a floating distorted clock and being forced into a photo-shoot with the Devil (played by Dennis Hopper). "One is hard-pressed to imagine any commercial future whatsoever for this film, and a pickup by a U.S. distribution company seems virtually impossible," Brunette says before wondering aloud, "Where does Wenders find people to continue to invest in his films?" Um, granted that Wenders has been quickly dropped from most snooty cineastes' "really, the only films I can stand are by…" cocktail party shortlists by now, but come on, dude…This is Germany we're talking about. Uwe Boll is practically one-third of the gross domestic product.
- Besides, investing in Wim Wenders' increasingly pretentious drivel–while it definitely won't score you the same returns–is at least a more respectable enterprise than funneling cash down the rapacious throat of Michael Bay so he can raid the toy chest for more things to "awesome" up. Take his forthcoming "adaptation" of the Ouija Board, part of that Universal/Hasbro strategic partnership we recently reported on that involves properties based on popular board games (because writing original stories is all hard and stuff). While only the smallest of plot details has been released–the fact that it will be a "supernatural adventure with the Oujia board playing an integral part of the story;" that it will NOT be taking a "Jumanji-like approach"–but given Bay's involvement, it seems pretty obvious what the trailer will be like: Giggly, half-dressed girls huddled around the board at a slumber party, with tense flash-cuts of vowels and consonants flying by at breakneck speed, spelling out, "D-A-N-G-E-R." Suddenly, the planchette flies across the room of its own accord as the board explodes in a massive fireball. Cue Linkin Park song. Budget: $120 million.
- Granted, that's just the first thing that came to our heads; we're sure that the finished product will have a lot more subtext once it's run through the wringer of a half-dozen MFA grads who long ago sacrificed their dreams to be the next Paddy Chayefsky in exchange for a guaranteed seat at the Ivy. You know: Paid professional screenwriters–like Sean Puffleupagus Doo Wah Diddy Combs, who is paying back every reviewer who gave charitable appraisals to his performance in A Raisin In The Sun by adding another 15psi to his already inflated ego and announcing plans to write his own film. Reportedly inspired by what he's seen at this year's Cannes (we're assuming that doesn't include Palermo Shooting), Combs says he is currently "writing a film–a comedy. For actresses, I'm thinking Angelina Jolie or Sienna Miller. For actors, Eddie Murphy." So you heard it here first, movie fans! At next year's Cannes, be sure to keep an eye out on the red carpet for Sean Combs, trying to pretend like he never said that.
- Speaking of hip-hop stars embarrassing themselves on camera, MTV has recently devised a whole new form of rehabilitation for disgraced rapper T.I., who will totally sidestep the point of suffering through his 1000 hours of community service for being charged with felony weapons possession by turning his legal woes into a reality TV series. Cameras will follow T.I. around the nation as he lectures youth groups on the importance of always making sure your lethal machine guns are fully registered (and that you're famous enough to work out a plea bargain that involves trading on your image)–a hard life lesson that MTV will turn into a six-episode documentary set to air while the rapper serves out his one-year prison sentence. After all, incarceration is one thing, but to deny him his God-given right to proper camera time would be cruel and unusual punishment.
- Of course, these days rehab just isn't as glamorous as it used to be, which would explain why so many stars–who once proudly wore their Promises bracelets like the latest in Prada accessories–have lately gone to great lengths to make up bullshit excuses to explain away their respective stints. Take guzzling gamine Kirsten Dunst, whose legendary, well-documented dalliances with the bottle were apparently just a smokescreen for the sad little girl inside, a pervasive depression she says led her to check into the infamous Cirque Lodge (the same place Lindsay Lohan and Eva Mendes also went to, uh, get some hugs) for some much-needed alone time with her feelings. In the same respect, Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, a "passionate advocate for sobriety" ever since his music started to suck ass, would also like you to know that his recent trip to an L.A. rehab clinic was not because he dipped back into the sauce that fueled the greatest moments of his life. Instead, in one of the most unintentionally hilarious headlines of the week, he "blames his feet," saying he just needed a "safe environment" to recuperate from his recent foot surgery. (His home, apparently, is carpeted with wall-to-wall Slip 'N' Slides.) But don't worry, because the 60-year-old "America's answer to Mick Jagger" assures us that he "has no plans to stop rocking." Actually, wait. Do worry.
- With a week filled with celebrity deaths, even us obit-happy ghouls here at Newswire were bound to miss a few. While we gave a fitting tribute to Earle Hagen, there was another notable passing in the world of soundtracks: Alexander Courage, Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated composer, died at the age of 88. Courage worked on dozens of films and TV projects over the years–including orchestrating popular musicals like Hello Dolly!, My Fair Lady, and Fiddler On The Roof–but his most lasting legacy is undoubtedly the theme to Star Trek, which he composed, arranged, and conducted. (He even mouthed the "whooshing" noise you hear as the Enterprise zooms across the screen.)
- And in fact, it's been a sad week for Star Trek fans in general: Director Joseph Pevney, who helmed more than 14 chapters of the original series, also died this week at the age of 96. Pevney was responsible for some of the most well-known episodes of the show, including "The Trouble With Tribbles" and "The City On The Edge Of Forever," during which Kirk, Spock, and McCoy traveled back to the Depression era to kill Joan Collins.
- Finally, while we're all still in mourning for the incomparable Harvey Korman, there was another titan of comedy who passed on this week: Dick Martin, creator and co-host of the iconic '60s sketch show Rowan And Martin's Laugh-In, died at the age of 86 after a long battle with respiratory illness. A likeable, laidback presence, Martin played the irreverent goof–fond of the catchphrase, "You bet your sweet bippy!"–to Dan Rowan's frequently exasperated straight man, presiding over a circus of out-of-sight gags and psychedelic non-sequiturs that, while hardly the most sophisticated of shows, had an effect on pop culture akin to dropping LSD in the punch bowl. Thanks for so frequently socking it to us, Dick.
Have a super weekend!