There's a reason they call it "the august years"—it's because August is when you can't wait to hurry up and die. But buck up, soldier! Look towards the end of this long, dark tunnel of summer stagnation. See that hint of light at the end there, way off in the distance? Notice how it's getting brighter day by day? That's because it's a train, and it's loaded with Friday Buzzkills. Go ahead and tie yourself to the tracks.
- Adding eerie credence to the idea that Demolition Man was one of the most prescient science-fiction films ever made (though we're probably still a few years off from every restaurant becoming Taco Bell), Wrigley revealed this week that Chris Brown's top-ten single "Forever" is actually a none-too-subtle commercial for chewing gum, the first part of a brilliant plan to update, extreme-ify, and totally hippity-hop up the image of its brands for a new, dumb generation. "Forever"–which actually features the slogan "Double your pleasure / Double your fun" in its chorus–is just the first step in a campaign that will find Ne-Yo singing "kiss a little longer" in a revamped version of the Big Red jingle and country artist Julianne Hough putting her signature twang into Juicy Fruit's "The taste is gonna move ya." The strategy, masterminded by the dead-eyed souls at Translation Advertising, is reportedly to "connect a hit song and a jingle in the listener's minds…that way, by the time the new jingle comes out, it's already seeded in popular culture." Hey, why wait? There's clearly no distinction between art and commerce anymore, so why not skip the foreplay and make every song a jingle from the get-go? Sure, some hippies and pinkos might complain that you'd be robbing music of its soul–but fuck, it's not like anyone was using it anyway. Have you looked at the charts lately?
- In fact, let's stop pretending we live in a black-and-white world when it's clearly dishwater gray. The kind of society where "musicians" are all too willing to trade any semblance of integrity to make slow jams about chewing gum is clearly devoid of moral absolutes–and thus it's exactly the kind of place where a federal court would actually entertain a lawsuit filed by a still pissed-off Verne Troyer against former girlfriend and sex-tape co-star Ranae Shrider accusing her of physical abuse. Alleging that Shrider intentionally inflicted "emotional distress and battery," Troyer says that the wannabe model once picked the lock to his bedroom door and threw him to the floor–and thus she owes him $20 million. While discussing the suit (in which everyone involved will be straining themselves thinking, "Don't say 'dwarf toss'! Don't say 'dwarf toss'!") Troyer's lawyer Ed McPherson reminded TMZ, "When you pick up a 2'8" human being and throw him to the floor, it hurts." Unless you're Mike Myers, and then it's hilarious.
- Speaking of "Mike Myers" and "hilarious"–a phrase combination we're throwing out there just to give Myers' Google Alerts a little pick-me-up–the comic has a real knee-slapper of an idea for reviving his flagging career: Keep up the same old tired shtick, but come right out and admit that he's creatively bankrupt by making Austin Powers 4. Bet you didn't see that one coming! Whilst once again prattling on about how The Love Guru was just his way of "honoring" his late father [insert meaningful fart], Myers said that he conceived of the plot for the fourth installment of his once-beloved spy spoof series while "on a spiritual quest," during which he had the epiphany that one half-assed collection of funny wigs, double entendres, and jokeless renditions of Steve Miller songs was not enough to properly pay respects to his dad. Thus, Austin Powers 4 will reportedly be a "very personal" film focusing on the relationship between Dr. Evil and his son, told from their point of view. Laffs ahoy! There's no deal currently in place, but fellow-shell-of-its-former-self New Line–apparently the only studio in Hollywood that doesn't follow box-office receipts–is said to be "panting" after the concept, in much the same way you'll be after Mike Myers smothers you in his hairy chest and forces you to love him again.
- Sequel fever–catch it! Then let it settle into your bones, ravage your body, and slowly develop into dementia: Now you're ready to make movies the George Lucas way, and drag everybody down to your level, just like how he apparently bullied Steven Spielberg into making Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of That's It? Seriously? We Waited Nearly 20 Years For That?. According to an interview he recently gave to the London Times, adding his preferred amount of ridiculous computer-generated shit to the film turned out to be a real struggle for Lucas: "I'm in the future; Steven's in the past. He's trying to drag it back to the way they were [i.e., enjoyable], I'm trying to push it to a whole different place." Ever the artiste, Lucas points to the box-office figures from their last outing as reason enough to do yet another Indiana Jones film, saying Spielberg–while previously "not that enthusiastic"–is now "amenable" to the idea. Man, can you feel the excitement, properly adjusted for inflation and taking into account foreign receipts and domestic home video? That's the magic of the movies!
- Seriously, what is it with formerly respected artists doing everything they can to force their fans to question what it is they ever saw in them in the first place? Does this "be a total embarrassment" strategy have some sort of "trending upward," Q-rating bullshit pay-off that we're too concerned with actual public perception to be aware of? How else to explain both Lucas' flippant disregard for his, let's face it, abnormally easily offended fanbase and the recent self-destruct mission undertaken by John Lydon, who has done everything from getting into meaningless, racially charged scuffles to threatening to sully the only lasting legacy he has left by making another Sex Pistols album to stay in the news? (Though to his credit, at least he hasn't considered reviving PiL.) John, for the last time: Sit down and shut the fuck up. Going to the British tabloids and giving a statement about "Aimless Winehouse" and how much you dislike her "imitating black music in her idiotic way" is not so much a "punk" move as it is a desperate bid for attention on par with Joan Rivers repeatedly calling women "whores" at a Girl Scouts fundraiser. And are you really so up your own ass that you don't see the irony in giving a statement like, "I don't like pale imitations and shades of things." Really?
- Unfortunately, Lydon shows no signs of delivering on the "no future" he promised so many moons ago, with the only hint of a wheeze coming from his own relevancy. Unless he manages to shrivel up and die from lack of exposure, it will be a while before Lydon joins the sad ranks of those placed into the media's "celebrity deathwatch" list—which frankly already had its hands full this week keeping vigilant, buzzard-y watch over Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Kelsey Grammer. Representatives for Taylor refused to disclose the reasons for her "precautionary" hospitalization yesterday, but they did take the opportunity to assuage any lingering fears with the statement, "At present, she is surrounded by family, friends, and fabulous jewels." Heartwarming, no? Sadly, the same can't be said for ailing star Paul Newman, who is rumored to be battling cancer and thus condemned to living out the rest of his life appearing in news stories that describe him as "thin and frail" while unfairly comparing photos from his 1950s heyday to his current, wheelchair-bound condition.
But while Taylor and Newman may have him beat in terms of fabulous jewels, star wattage, and quote-unquote watchable movies, don't try and one-up Kelsey Grammer when it comes to suffering. The actor, currently appearing in the sure-to-be-a-hit (in 1988) Swing Vote, checked himself into a hospital again this week, only a few days after appearing on The Tonight Show, where he regaled the audience with a hilarious run-down of all the wacky things that have befallen him in the last couple of months–including a near-fatal heart attack, the cancellation of Back To You, being told while in his hospital bed to clear out his office at Fox, the death of his dog, and the death of his mother. Hey Kelsey, bringing everybody down is our job!
- As you've no doubt noticed (because you are a fucking ghoul), it's been a pretty slow week for celebrity deaths, but there was one notable passing: As the first female Imagineer–and the first woman ever hired in a creative, rather than office capacity–Harriet Burns broke new ground for women within the Disney company, graduating from designing props and sets for The Mickey Mouse Club to working on the Disneyland theme park, and helping to create the models for such iconic attractions as the Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Matterhorn, and much of New Orleans Square. As a figure finisher, she personally applied the feathers to the birds in the Enchanted Tiki Room and helped put the final touches on characters in the Pirates Of The Caribbean and Haunted Mansion rides. Fortunately, the fruits of her many labors can still be seen today—provided they haven't already been replaced by a 3-D movie while you were reading this. Burns died this week at the age of 79.
Have a super weekend!