Any week that starts off with God getting into a serious car wreck–in a hardly worthy-of-a-deity 1997 Nissan, no less–is bound to be fraught with disaster. And indeed this was a particularly bad week to be a celebrity: Stars were plagued by illness, injury, and embarrassments on a public stage, while a rash of deaths culled the drowsy herd–and yet all America seemed to be able to talk about was weed. Way to focus, dudes. Pick it, pack it, and fire it up: This is a particularly potent strain of Friday Buzzkills.
- While Freeman already seems to be on the road to recovery–after dispensing folksy wisdom to the nurses about the true meaning of life, and entertaining his fellow patients by narrating the rich, detailed history of everything on his breakfast tray, he finally left the hospital yesterday–the accident responsible for breaking his arm and elbow apparently also broke something else: The veil of secrecy surrounding his marriage, which "a friend" confirmed to the tabloids is in far more critical condition, and that Freeman is indeed in the midst of divorcing his wife of 24 years. Naturally, this has only intensified those whispers about the nature of Freeman's relationship with the other passenger involved in the wreck, described only as a "female friend"–and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how one of the last scandal-free actors left in Hollywood found his way into the Access Hollywood abattoir. When Morgan Freeman becomes a tabloid target, all bets are off, folks. Tune in next week, when Tom Hanks is caught pouring boiling coffee on a 10-year-old child just for kicks.
- As if to drive home the point that God (the mythical one that even atheists invoke when they're looking to blame someone, not the guy from The Dark Knight) kinda sorta hates celebrities right now, several other high-profile names turned up on the sick list this week. Comedian Bernie Mac–fresh off of knocking them dead with a lesson in ho-related semantics at a Barack Obama fundraiser–has been hospitalized since August 1 with pneumonia, further complicated by an inflammatory lung disease he's had for years. Lucky for pundits eager to use him as evidence of the Obama campaign's lack of decorum, Mac is expected to make a full recovery–as is Christina Applegate, who this week announced that she was diagnosed with cancer in her exquisite breasts. Unfortunately, things seem much more dire for professional asshole Mr. Blackwell, the reliably bitchy fashion critic who publishes the annual "worst-dressed list" and whose pithy, poetic dismissals of celebrities in 10 words or less–not to omit his epic efforts in the forgotten field of abnormally abundant alliteration–are an in-house inspiration here at Friday Buzzkills. Currently, Blackwell is battling a deathly serious infection and, while he recently regained consciousness, he's yet to muster the strength necessary to snipe, a pain we know all too well. (And which probably explains why Katie Holmes feels safe trying to bring back pegged jeans.)
- If there's one silver lining to enduring a medical crisis, it's that you can use it to turn a tidy profit by selling it to creepily obsessive fans with far too much disposable income: Take, for example, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine, who recovered from a career-threatening compressed radial nerve to reform his band, and is currently seeking a little extra scratch by auctioning off his old wrist splints. You may be asking, "Who in their right mind would want to own Dave Mustaine's musty old Ace bandages just because he scrawled his name on them? I mean, Jesus, aren't we in a recession? Couldn't he at least bottle some of the tears he cries every time he thinks about getting kicked out of Metallica? At least that would be a conversation piece." Wait–did we mention it comes with a "certificate of authenticity"? And that you should hurry if you want to top the current $300 high bid, placed by a guy who apparently looked at the state of the economy and said, "Fuck the warnings of the Federal Reserve–I'm-a get me some cast-off medical supplies"? Perhaps you need further convincing; allow Mustaine himself to peddle his garbage with a straight face in one of the saddest "celebrity memorabilia" sales since Corey Haim tried paying the rent with his wisdom tooth.
ebay - wrist brace
- Of course, if you really wanted to own a piece of medical waste tainted with the aura of desperate celebrity, may we present to you what will someday become the Holy Grail among smart-assed collectors: Verne Troyer's "reaching sticks," which the diminutive actor reportedly used to hit both ex-girlfriend Ranae Shrider and her dog during one of his many drunken rages. That's the word from Shrider, anyway, who fired back at last week's lawsuit alleging that she had thrown Troyer around like a rag doll without the common courtesy to provide a longwinded set-up full of dwarf puns with her own litany of embarrassing accusations. OK, so now that we've had a sex tape, the story of Troyer nearly drowning in a bubble bath, allegations of dog abuse, and now the introduction of the phrase "reaching sticks," this particular scandal has finally reached maximum humiliation, and we can all go back to not caring, right? It's over, right? Please say it's over.
- If you thought that celebrity feuds couldn't possibly get more any blown out of proportion or play any more fast and loose with the definition of "celebrity," you obviously missed out on the brouhaha surrounding a fight that recently erupted between Hairspray ingenue Nikki Blonsky and America's Next Top Model contestant Bianca Golden in a Caribbean airport. Apparently sparked by an argument over the saving of seats in an airport lounge–and not, as one would assume, over whose grasp on fame was more tenuous and fleeting–Blonsky and Golden got into an all-out, hair-pulling, face-punching brawl that resulted in both women being arrested, and Golden's mother being admitted to a hospital for neurological damage. Now that Blonsky's father is facing charges of grievous bodily harm, he's been denied bail until his trial begins on Aug. 19–denied because, as a foreigner, he is considered a flight risk. Seeking sympathy from the judge, Blonsky's attorney tried the classic "embarrass the fuck out of my client" appeal by pointing out that Blonsky is "not a wealthy man. He works in a sewage plant." And because no scandal is complete without a cringe-inducing video, TMZ was lucky enough to score this eyewitness account with bonus narration, so everyone can see the aftermath of the day that "Tracy Turnblad done decked the girl out." What an incredible age we live in!
- Ah, crappy cellphone video cameras. How did we ever get by without you? Before you came along, we had to rely solely on the achingly dull, analog words of Old Media reporters to, say, find about the ongoing trainwreck that is the Stone Temple Pilots' reunion tour–like the Arizona Republic's Jim Louvau, who was there to go on in boring, black-and-white detail that requires reading and stuff about Scott Weiland ("now officially the Amy Winehouse of rock 'n' roll") and how he mangled his group's show at the Dodge with forgotten lyrics, incoherent between-song patter, and otherwise erratic behavior. But fortunately for you, someone was there to capture the whole thing on video so you can see for yourself without shelling out for a ticket. Bear witness to Weiland's bizarre, mumbled non-sequiturs as he's drowned out by an impatient and clearly embarrassed Dean DeLeo! Wonder aloud to yourself, "Did he really just change the lyrics to 'Big Empty' from 'Conversations Kill' to 'Masturbation Kill'?" (He did!) And then thrill to the spectacle of Weiland stumbling drunkenly (smacked-ly?) into Eric Kretz's drum kit! Only twentysomething more dates left! What could possibly go wrong?
- Speaking of disasters, no doubt your calendar has been marked for months with the never-more-accurately-titled latest entry in what will someday be known as the "Friedberg/Seltzer oeuvre," Disaster Movie. While normally getting asses into seats is as easy as putting a girl in a blonde wig and having her say, "Hey, I'm Hannah Montana!" before crushing her with an asteroid, this time out the producers saw an opportunity for a genius bit of promotion: Premiering the film, which parodies natural disasters, on the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina–which was itself a natural disaster! What an excellent way to reward the state of Louisiana for allowing you to film there, Messrs. Friedberg and Seltzer! And on that note, one can only hope you took advantage of your location by recreating a giant flood in the Lower Ninth–say, by having your Juno stand-in's water break, and then drown the cast of High School Musical, the Joker, and Amy Winehouse. Her beehive would look totes funny all wet! It's not too late for reshoots! (And here I thought that the most misguided, tackiest bit of promotion I'd read all week was this press release trumpeting Yoko Ono's Give Peace A Chance: The Remixes as hitting "Number 1 with a bullet!") I bow to you, twin Dig-Dugs in the never-ending race to the fucking bottom.
- Of course, when it comes to depressing launches, nothing compares to the many fizzled attempts to fulfill the late James "Scotty" Doohan's wishes to be blasted into space. The highly publicized memorial service has been held with no small amount of fanfare numerous times over the last three years; most recently, SpaceX managed to beam Scotty up along with the cremains of 207 other people (including astronaut Gordon Cooper) precisely zero miles above the Earth's surface before it crashed, defeated into the watery embrace of the Pacific Ocean. Even sadder, last Saturday's failure was, according to his son Ehrich Blackhound, the final one he will be a part of: In a post to Boing Boing, Blackhound described his frustrations at the latest effort to put his father's remains into orbit, saying:
Every launch attempt is like reliving his funeral. There's a lot of pomp and ceremony, and a retelling of his deeds in life. But at the end of these funerals, something goes awry, the body doesn't get buried, and you know you're going to have to come back to do it over again… So when news of the next launch rolls around, please don't ask me about it; I won't be paying attention."
- Things haven't been so great all around for anyone who worked on the original Star Trek, with directors, writers, and producers finally reaching that city on the edge of forever at an alarming pace. This week another one joined their ranks: Director Jud Taylor, who helmed several episodes of the series along with many chapters of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Fugitive before going on to make more than 40 TV movies, including the critically acclaimed The Old Man And The Sea, Foxfire, and Tail Gunner Joe. During the early '80s, Taylor also served as the head of the Directors Guild Of America, helping to improve economic and creative rights for both women and minorities. Taylor died this week at the age of 76.
- Playwright Luther Davis–who died this week at the age of 91–specialized in musicals: He won a Tony for 1953's Kismet, which he later adapted into a film, and was also responsible for both 1945's Kiss Them For Me and an ambitious musical version of the classic Grand Hotel. But in addition to penning five successful Broadway shows, David also had a distinguished career in film, writing the all-star Clark Gable-led romp The Hucksters among a dozen others. And around here he will forever be remembered for the truly sadistic 1964 thriller Lady In A Cage with Olivia de Havilland and a young, awesomely menacing James Caan. Seriously, Netflix it now.
- As a comics artist, Jack Kamen was well known for his knack for drawing pretty women, a skill he put to good use in numerous pulp romance titles in the 1940s. When EC Comics switched its focus from romance to the horror, crime, and science-fiction titles that would inspire a generation–and piss off parents everywhere–Kamen stuck around, becoming an indispensable asset to publisher William Gaines and Al Feldstein, who recognized the value of Kamen's inherent talent for creating sex appeal and often created scripts with him in mind. After EC folded its comics line, Kamen graduated to advertising, though he revisited his heyday briefly in 1982, when Stephen King tapped him to do the key art for Creepshow. Kamen died this week at the age of 88.
- Performing with his Philadelphia band The Heroes, Robert Hazard caught a huge break when MTV's Kurt Loder happened upon a show while there to review a Rolling Stones concert and subsequently gave him a glowing write-up. With Loder's support, Hazard landed a record deal, soon scoring hits with the new-wave songs "Escalator Of Life" and "Change Reaction" and embarking on a long career that continued through last year's Troubador Undoubtedly, however, Hazard will be forever remembered for composing and recording the original version of the song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," which became a signature smash for Cyndi Lauper when she later covered it and changed the lyrics to a female's point of view. Hazard died unexpectedly this week at the age of 59 following complications from surgery.
- The term "power player" gets tossed around a lot in Hollywood, but few fit the bill as well as Bernie Brillstein, the manager-turned-producer who, over the course of several decades, helped shepherd the careers of some of the biggest names in town. Brillstein was the first to see something in Jim Henson, helping him build the Muppets empire from the ground up and repping the puppeteer until his death in 1990. Later, he became an crucial force behind Saturday Night Live, taking care of creator Lorne Michaels as well as early cast members John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Gilda Radner. (In a dark twist, he was sometimes called "The Man Who killed Belushi," seeing as he was the one who supplied the comedian with money during his last, binge-fueled week on earth.) After Brillstein stepped in as an executive producer on The Blues Brothers at Aykroyd's request, he branched out into production significantly, taking on many TV shows like ALF and It's Garry Shandling's Show before partnering with Brad Grey. Together, Brillstein-Grey turned out dozens of A.V. Club favorites, including NewsRadio, The Larry Sanders Show, Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher, and The Sopranos. Brillstein died today at the age of 77.
Have a super weekend!