You know folks, there are some who might say that Friday Buzzkills has become redundant, when the mess on Main Street has trickled down to Wall Street and so many working class families are feeling the sting sitting around their kitchen tables and, talking to each other at soccer practice, thinking about healthcare and how governmental tax cuts have reared their head on the 85 percent of moms with special needs kids, God bless 'em, and the need to defend against those who would threaten our freedom, don'tcha know. But you betcha I'm glad to get this chance to, as a maverick has since being an outsider and saying, "No thank ya" to the same old lobbyist tricks and the record shows, to talk to you without the filter of the mainstream media and say doggone it, we're gonna do a heck of a time cleaning up the very important job creations so this country can be the greatest in the world which it currently is and we small-town people in the heartland know it can be, gosh darn. That's why we're sworn on this mission to reach across the aisle in history with the Friday Buzzkills Express, so we can see up close the values and strength of those values against the failed policies of past policies. You'll get your reward in heaven, right? God bless 'em don'tcha know! [Adorable wink.]
- You'd think in these dizzying, never-a-dull-moment times for our economy (Hey, it's like a roller coaster! And when you get off you don't have a job anymore! Wheeee! Maybe you shouldn't have been out riding roller coasters on a workday!), people would be more conservative with their money: Cutting back on extravagant foods in favor of more budget-conscious substitutions. Avoiding risky investments. Recycling. But then there are those devil-may-care pyromaniacs who get so caught up in letting the motherfucker burn that they set their own house ablaze–like Screen Gems, who this week announced a veritable bonfire of the banalities by signing a three-picture deal with Hayden Christensen, (outside of the fluke that was Shattered Glass) easily one of the least charismatic and most critically drubbed actors of his generation. Staying on message in his pleased-as-spiked-punch press release, Screen Gems president Doug Culpepper said, "Hayden is a very talented and versatile actor with a proven worldwide box-office history." And doubters, heed: Christensen does technically have a box-office history–after all, he's starred in some actual films! That played in movie theaters that sold tickets via an actual box office! But at a time when everybody's joking about the Awesomest Depression, how is it that the guy whose most recent résumé is littered with future Films That Time Forgot such as Jumper and Awake looks like a sound investment? Seriously, we're baffled. Could somebody get Jim Cramer to yell at us until this makes sense?
- To his credit, at least Christensen still has a considerable Q-rating among young girls and undiscriminating gay men who don't care what wooden dialogue he spouts so long as he does it with those smug, pouting lips. But we're also confused by the faith being put into reviving the far-beyond-tired variety show format, which is being pitched as a way to distract people from their various problems by giving them something even more cringeworthy to focus on. We've already filled you in on the forthcoming Osbournes Grimace-Time Milking-It-For-All-It's-Worth Revival Hour, but this week it was announced that Bard of The Sweatpants Set Rosie O'Donnell is ramping up her own play on the white-bread-and-shitty-circuses skein to debut this Thanksgiving, just when you'll need to purge most. Featuring celebrity guests, musical acts, comedy sketches, and plenty of our host braying very, very loudly, Rosie's Variety Show is being pitched by its star as "old-time variety, live from New York, with a nod to Ed Sullivan, Carol Burnett, and memories of Sonny and Cher." Your mom is stoked. Here's hoping she gets the chance to put her amazing skills of impersonation to good use.
- Still, in times like these it's good to diversify–even here at Friday Buzzkills we've taken on a second job: For a small fee, we'll make an appearance at your corporate party, avail ourselves of the open bar, make snarky comments about the choice of music, and eventually sink into a tear-streaked state of distress in which we lash out at everyone for not liking us. That's just smart business. So we can certainly understand why perennial Buzzkills favorite Jesse "Bunch of slack-jawed faggots around here" Ventura would be branching out yet again from being a jackass-of-all-trades to accept hosting duties on a new reality show exploring conspiracy theories for truTV. Ventura (himself a fervent 9/11 "Truther") will travel to far-flung locales to bark menacingly at "skeptics and adherents to a particular conspiracy theory, after which he'll render a verdict on the alleged phenomenon's veracity." Because who better to expose the truth than a professional wrestler?
- Perhaps while Ventura is cutting his truthy swath across this great land of ours, he can tackle the latest scheme a-brewin'–namely the nefarious plot by the director and producers of the new film Blindness to portray blind people as "incompetent, filthy, vicious, and depraved." The film is based on Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's novel of the same name, which has been touted by smarty-pants critics and literary theorists as a resonant, thought-provoking allegory on the fragility of human social order. But forget that: According to National Federation Of The Blind president Marc Maurer, it's a smear job that paints blind people as "unable to do the simplest things like dressing, bathing, and finding the bathroom" and it will "reinforce false public notions that blind children are ineducable, that blind adults are unemployable, and that all blind people are socially undesirable." Of course, in his rush to protest (and there are at least 75 cities with planned demonstrations today, reportedly), Maurer perhaps overlooked that the film is about a town that goes blind overnight and then finds itself forced into quarantine in an abandoned hospital where there's no bathroom to find even if they wanted to. But hey, that's obviously beside the point. The fact is that once again those sensationalistic Hollywood jerks–not to mention that pulp-pusher Saramago–were obviously far too prejudiced to make a movie about what would really happen if society were suddenly stricken blind. I mean, how come everyone in the movie couldn't immediately triumph over adversity, seamlessly integrate themselves into society, and then develop a huge fucking chip on their shoulder?
- Between the brouhaha over Blindness and this summer's scandal over use of the word "retard" in Tropic Thunder, it's clear that being a humorless prig about things is the new stalking when it comes to normal people getting their names in the trade sheets. But we have to ask: Why did so many panties remain bunchless when I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry came out? Where were all the public tantrums about the way that film casts same-sex coupling as a cheap and easy way to pull a fast scam on the federal government? You'd think that more of a fuss would have been raised–after all, homosexuals can be so dramatic, don't you know–but instead the film came and went with nary a whimper, save from critics forced to cringe through its ham-fisted attempt to be progressive while doling out every homophobic stereotype it could muster. And because the film was never properly denounced, it survived long enough to garner enough credibility that it was recently referenced in a Senate hearing on same-sex benefits as some sort of evidence that men will totes start pretending to be gay if it means getting better insurance. Clearly coming off a lonely night with HBO, Office Of Personnel Management deputy director Howard C. Weizmann cited Chuck And Larry to bolster his position that allowing employees in same-sex relationships to receive family benefits would lead to "insurance fraud," saying the film's premise was "not farfetched." Naturally, Weizmann has reason to be skeptical: Witness the number of straight men who pretended to be gay so they could shack up with two female roommates after the landmark case of Furley v. Tripper.
- But when it comes to truly being disrespected, there's no question: You've got to be dead. Look at the ignoble saga of Kurt Cobain's ashes, which have spent most of the nearly 15 years (!) since his death entrusted in the care of Courtney Love–who proceeded to stuff them in a rave-era teddy bear backpack, force them into awkward photo-ops with Evan Dando, and set them loose in the ventilation ducts of a New York airport before they were reportedly stolen earlier this year from Love's closet, a claim which Love now refutes. At this point "resting in peace" is clearly out of the question, so maybe it doesn't really matter that Australian artist Natascha Stellmach is advertising that she plans to roll up the ashes of the late Nirvana singer and smoke them in a joint. As the closing act of her new exhibit "Set Me Free," Stellmach says she will sprinkle Cobain's remains on some hash and spark her morbid doobie somewhere in Berlin, thereby releasing Cobain "into the ether from the media circus." Stellmach is obviously crazy, completely full of shit (which is rare for a conceptual artist, we know), or just being very crafty about drumming up interest in her lame installation with a little manufactured controversy. But for fuck's sake, could we all please chip in for a fucking slot at a mausoleum somewhere and finally put this whole thing to rest? We'd seriously love to go one whole calendar year without reading the phrase "Kurt Cobain's ashes." If this were a J-horror movie, Cobain's ghost would be wandering Seattle, leaving wet Chuck Taylor footprints everywhere, and interrupting people's cell phone conversations with sinister dropped-D guitar noises. Seriously, put the poor guy in a box already.
- And while we're on the subject of giving the dead their eternal rest, can we please put a moratorium on digging deceased stars out of the grave and forcing them to shill for things? We're pretty sure Frank Sinatra would have no interest in singing with Alicia Keys, alive or dead, and ever since they took Gene Kelly and forced him to pop-and-lock for Volkswagen, it seems like nobody's safe from having their soul eternally shackled to the Flying Dutchman of commerce. Not even poor little Heather O'Rourke, the child star of Poltergeist who died at the age of 12 way back in 1988–which is apparently long enough ago that neither DirecTV nor her former costar Craig T. Nelson feels even the slightest twinge of shame about resurrecting her and forcing her to take part in this ad for its HD service. (But on the upside, she looks great! What's her secret?)
- As much as it makes you just another plaything in the great celestial toy-chest, we're pretty sure that there are some celebrities who might actually welcome the warm embrace of death at this point: Take Ed McMahon, who recently capped an unusually humiliating year–in which he suffered a broken neck, found himself sued by his bank, very publicly battled foreclosure, nearly took on Donald Trump as his landlord, and wheeled out his creaky old catchphrase for that embarrassing Josh Groban medley at the Emmys–by signing on to star in a series of commercials for FreeCreditReport.com in which he raps. While the videos won't be released until later this month, CNN landed a sneak peek at the shoot in which McMahon–"joined by two scantily clad women"–dons some bling and sets about singing for his paltry supper. Peep McMahon as he drops some science:
"Got a bump from the media chumps, but that was temporary
Wife with bad credit was scary, so I got wise
I may have fallen, but I got back up
Now I'm back on the attack, like a ninja swinging nunchucks
I told the haters, 'Go on, take a hike'
It's my show now, and I can do what I like."
Hmm… Maybe now is a good time to go check on your 401(k).
- As has become de rigueur around here, the week started off with a celebrity death that can't possibly be rivaled–and we certainly hope that the Grim Reaper doesn't read that as a dare. But there are a few other notables who are with us no more: Called the "Little Princess Of The Air" when she started on radio under her birthname Yvonne Marie Antoinette, the singer rechristened Connie Haines came to prominence while fronting the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, where she famously teamed up with Frank Sinatra. Though she specialized in peppy swing numbers, Haines was often forced to sing romantic duets with Sinatra despite a lack of chemistry: According to her obituary in The Independent, Sinatra was so aggravated by Haines directing her lines to handsome soldiers in the audience that he demanded Dorsey fire her; Dorsey fired Sinatra instead. Haines later branched out as a solo singer, becoming the featured vocalist on Abbott And Costello's radio show, releasing more than 200 recordings, starring in a handful of movies like 1950's Duchess Of Idaho and 1954's Birth Of A Band, and performing five times at the White House. Haines died this week at the age of 87.
- House Peters Jr. had an extensive career playing the "heavy" in sci-fi movies and Westerns like The Day The Earth Stood Still and Rio Conchos, as well as TV series like The Twilight Zone and Lassie, but he achieved his greatest fame in an unlikely place: When Procter And Gamble needed a large, muscular man to bring their Mr. Clean character to life, they came to Peters, who portrayed the grime-fighter in a series of live-action commercials throughout the 1950s and '60s. According to his son, Peters wasn't happy about always having to play the villain, but he can rest in peace knowing that his chief legacy will be as a hero to housewives everywhere. Peters died this week at the age of 92.
- Before Bob Dylan and Joan Baez became the biggest artists of their generation, a humble group known as The Kingston Trio helped pave the way for the revival folk scene by landing a hit with their rendition of the traditional 19th-century tune "Tom Dooley." Its commercial and critical success–including winning the very first Grammy for Best Country And Western Recording–turned it into a cultural sensation, with the name "Tom Dooley" itself becoming something of a catchphrase. The Kingston Trio went on to a career that peaked in the early '60s, when the group had four albums in the Top 10 at the same time; it's since gone through numerous lineup changes, with none of the original members remaining. Of the initial Trio, only Bob Shane survives: Co-founder Dave Guard passed away in 1991, and this Wednesday Nick Reynolds died at the age of 75.
- Though she's probably familiar only to the most devoted American fans of South Korean cinema, Choi Jin-sil was one the country's most popular stars–so beloved that she was nicknamed "The Nation's Actress." After debuting in the 1980s, Choi starred in a string of romantic box-office hits that included My Love, My Bride, Hot To Top My Wife, Jealousy, and last year's Bad Woman, Good Woman. Most recently she was prepping for another season of the TV drama The Last Scandal Of My Life (a montage from which is below), about a woman who finds love after a painful divorce; the subject was particularly personal, considering Choi herself had just endured a very public, messy separation from baseball star Cho Sung-min that made her and her two children endless fodder for the tabloids. Worried about raising her kids alone and concerned for her future in acting apparently put a fatal strain on Choi: She hanged herself in the bathroom of her Seoul home this week, reportedly distraught over negative comments on the Internet alleging that she had loaned money to late actor Ahn Jae-hwan–who himself committed suicide last month–and that it was her pressuring him to repay the debt that spurred him to end his own life. Jin-sil was 39.
Have a super weekend!