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Trailer hitch: “Severance”

Could this be the next “Shaun of the Dead”? It certainly looks that way.

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American Idol: Southern Hospitality

Somehow, some way, Fox spared us by making “American Idol” one hour long last night. Having that extra hour unexpectedly was like finding a $50 bill on the street. I won’t question why, I’ll say “Thank You” to Fox for letting me get back to Rick Reilly’s “Who’s Your Caddy?” a bit earlier. Great book, by the way, that all of you golfers or Reilly fans should read.

Let me start by saying that Paula Abdul is messed up. It took us two weeks to see that drunk, disorderly Paula we’ve come to know and love, but she made an appearance. On the second day of the Birmingham audtions, Paula reportedly had to return home for a family obligation. Just a hunch, but I think that obligation was with her big brother, Tequila Abdul.

With only an hour to show the auditions in Birmingham (the city that brought us Idol faves like Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard and Bo Bice), only five of the really talented contestants’ entries were aired. Katie Bernard was the first of those, and while she sounded like a 3-year old when she spoke, she was all woman when she sang. This kind of disturbed Simon Cowell, but Paula and Randy voted her through to Hollywood.

Then there was young Tatiana from Atlanta. Have you ever woken up with the feeling you’re going to eat fried chicken, and then hours later found yourself in the KFC drive thru? I had that feeling about Tatiana when she was being interviewed, before she even sang. Like, this girl is going to be an awesome singer. And folks, I do have the gift of ESP. She was, as Randy declared, “a natural.” Maybe like Paris Bennett last season, and definitely top 12 material.

Bernard, who sang Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” was awesome, but Paula somehow thought he was off-key. Uh, Paula, the only thing off-key is the ringing in your ears from that bender.

Jamie Lee, a cute 16 year old blonde chick, matter of factly stated that her “daddy” is paralyzed, because he shot himself after catching his ex-wife cheating on him. How heartwarming. Somehow, this girl is unfazed by her home situation, and sang well enough to advance.

This chubby dude Chris, who described his look as a cross between Jack Black and Jack Osborne, was hilarious. When asked why he was there, he replied,” Because I want to make David Hasselhoff cry.” That was reference to when Hasselhoff was spotted in the audience teary-eyed during last season’s show. Props to this kid. But he could sing too, and mark my words, Chris is a dark horse to go really far.

As always, there were a few duds. I mean, that’s what drives ratings, so here is a glimpse into last night’s train wrecks….

Erica, a cute blonde from Auburn, was so off key it was painful. But to make things worse, she kept singing until security had to usher her out the door. Diana Warner, who was so round that she may have had a medicine ball in her dress, was also all over the place vocally.

Then there was Margaret, who was literally dressed like Big Bird. Simon called it an “Easter Bunny Nightmare Experiment.” Need I say more?

18 year old Victoria had six foot long hair, but just an average voice. Lakia Hill, who led the league in off-key notes last night, was accurately depicted by Simon as one of the worst contestants in Birmingham.

Then they showed a bunch of bad auditions that ended with contestants being gracious and saying “Thank you for the opportunity.” Talk about Southern charm. This wasn’t New York or any of those northern cities, where everyone thought it was their birthright to earn a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Finally, Brandy sang “Like a Virgin,” and danced with stripper moves, removing her sweater to the horror of Randy and Simon. When told by Simon that it was a “rotten audition,” Brandy claimed that it may have been the way her voice echoed off the fake floor, so they let her step back onto the carpet. Still no dice. So then she was outside being interviewed by Ryan Seacrest and was bad-mouthing both judges, even calling Randy a “fat ass.” Wow. But hey, that’s good television.

All in all, 20 contestants from B-ham made it on to Hollywood, and tonight’s auditions take place in Los Angeles, where a trip to Hollywood will mean a bus pass. See you tomorrow for the recap….

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Heroes, Week 13: Manatees, ahoy!

So Niki’s still chillin’ in the rubber room when she opens her eyes and has a psychological counselor inform her that she’s suffering from multiple personality disorder. (Most likely reactions to this diagnosis from viewers: “Wow, it’s like she’s known Niki all her life!” or “Good work, Sherlock!”) A little later, her ex swing by, having finally gotten around to using his intangibility skills to visit. This occurs at approximately the same time that D.L.’s inability to realize that he actually has to go out and get a proper job infuriates Micah to the point where he uses his powers to knock over an ATM.

Surprisingly, Matt and his wife seem closer than ever now that he’s revealed his abilities to her, so much so that she takes in stride his announcement that he’s been laid off by the police force for six months. She also drops the bombshell that she’s pregnant. I don’t want to be a doomsayer, but I don’t see that pregnancy going to term…

Claie continues to tempt fate by hanging out with Zach. Come on, don’t tell me her dad doesn’t suspect something’s up! Manatee report, my ass. And then she goes the extra mile to get busted by calling for a meeting with Brother Voodoo. Mind you, he does manage to provide her with enough details, hints, and clues to send her on the path that successfully leads her to finding her birth mother…but he also assures her that this will be his last time meeting with her. Yeah, we’ll see about that…

Hiro remains powerless, which makes for a few funny scenes as they try to dodge some strangers who are trying to catch up with them. (The shot of them lying on the asphalt after the vehicle they were hiding under drove away was classic.) Of course, as virtually every viewer already figured (or, at least, those who pay any attention to the media), the “boss” who was after them was Hiro’s dad, played by a decidedly angry-looking George Takei. Oh, my!

Nathan and Mohinder have a nice little bonding session, which leads them to hunt up Peter, who’s been busy trying to sway the invisible man to join forces with him. Peter refuses to come along with Nathan and Moninder, however, and seemingly vanishes, making the last scene of that segment, with Mr. Invisible holding his hand over Peter’s mouth, particularly effective.

And, lastly, wow, shocking, Sylar didn’t actually die like Claire’s dad’s underling said he did. Everyone who saw it coming, please raise your hand…

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“American Idol” to replace dazed, incomprehensible judge with…Courtney Love?

According to an “exclusive” report from Us Weekly, “American Idol” producer Nigel Lythgoe recently contacted Courtney Love to see whether she’d be interested in “sitting in as a judge” on the popular Fox phenomenon. It’s likely Lythgoe was only inquiring about a guest-judge stint for Love…but rumors are now swirling that he is considering replacing frequently woozy, slurry-of-speech perma-judge Paula Abdul with the brazen rocker.

These rumors can’t possibly be true — watch this clip for at least a dozen reasons why Courtney Love should never be placed in a position of prominence on a program that draws flocks of preteen girls — but they’re fun to think about, just the same.

Imagine what might happen the first time Simon and Courtney disagree on something: I smell a new product placement segment for Neosporin, Ace Bandages, or Hollywood’s crack (pun intended) EMT squad.

And just imagine Ryan Seacrest trying to say anything to Courtney. Anything at all. You can’t, can you? Because he’d never have the c-c-c-courage. One raised eyebrow from the former Mrs. Cobain, and Ryan dives behind that red Coca-Cola couch, quivering like a Chihuahua.

So, no: Chances are, Paula’s drunken slurring will probably not be replaced with Courtney’s drug-addled babbling any time soon…but it would certainly make for arresting television. Literally.

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“24,” Hour 6: That’s Dr. Evil, thank you, not Dr. Romano

Well, that didn’t take long. Mr. “I swear on my family’s life” sold out both his Dudley Do-Right brother and morally ambiguous father at the drop of the hat, and by playing the family card, no less. Here’s the thing, though: if the plot didn’t require it, Jack Bauer would never, ever have thrown the handcuff keys to some hired goon that, only moments before, was about to unload an entire clip into his skull. Dr. Evil’s pleas to Jack about protecting family seemed desperate and hollow from the very beginning, and we now know just how meaningless those pleas actually were. But come on, of course they were meaningless to him. He’s been raising Jack’s son as his own. But that conspiracy theory will have to be put on hold for now.

So my left-field theory about Walid being a spy turned out to be dead wrong. But my observation in the first week about the FBI, and how they must be either incompetent or corrupt to allow such chaos to take place on American soil, could be dead on the money. After all, their plan to implicate the alleged terrorist detainees required Walid to do two simple things:

1) Steal the guy’s cell phone without him knowing
2) Return his cell phone without him knowing

You’re kidding, right? Pickpocketing someone is one thing, but giving back something without them realizing it is another thing entirely. There isn’t a single intelligence bureau working under our jurisdiction that would ever dream of doing something so boneheaded.

Which brings us to Karen Hayes’ sudden resignation from President Palmer’s staff, and subsequent request to join CTU in Los Angeles. I found Karen’s willingness to roll over so quickly a bit out of character, especially when it’s the Biscuit that’s asking her to roll over. She had a good game face when he challenged her with the supposed checkered past of her and hubby Bill Buchanan, so what made her change her mind so quickly? The plot, that’s what. Jack acted out of character, the FBI acted out of character, and Karen acted out of character, all because it was required of them. They would be wise not to make a habit of this in the coming weeks. Tony Kornheiser said earlier tonight on “Pardon the Interruption” that he thinks “24” is jumping the shark this very moment. I’m not ready to hop on that bandwagon yet, but episodes like this are only going to fan those flames.

And now, your conspiracy theory of the week.

If your mind is remotely as warped and suspicious as mine, then you watched Milo hand his login info over to Natalie and thought, “Big mistake.” They are setting up one of two things here: either they are paving the way for Milo’s exit – Eric Balfour, deservedly or not, has developed a rep as a show-killer of Ted McGinley-esque proportions – or they are about to expose that CTU has yet another mole bringing them down from the inside (my gosh, who screens the candidates there?). Given that Marisol Nichols is ten times the actor that Balfour is, the former theory would be better for the show, but that is no guarantee that they will do what’s best for the show.

Since the bomb dropped, the show has kinda fizzled. Time to turn things up a notch, guys. “Heroes” is beating you in the Neilsens. There’s a bull’s-eye on your back. Quit playing it safe and start killing people, stat.

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Prison Break: “The Message”

Did anyone else get the feeling that between the last episode and this one, the writers decided against having Agent Eisen and the brothers escape out the back door? A couple of quick lines at the beginning of this episode (“next time, pick a hotel room with a back exit”) buttoned up that plot hole and the trio proceeded to head out the front door to take a hostage and commandeer a car.

The show is struggling with keeping the subplots interesting. Last week, the storylines of C-Note and T-Bag were pretty tedious and this week Sucre and Haywire had their chance to bore us. It’s smart that the show is staggering them so that each week, a majority of the show is about the brothers and their quest for justice, not about Sucre stealing a car from an old Mexican dude or Haywire making friends with a troubled teen.

Agent Mahone is back at work, which is surprising since he killed Agent Blonde. Mr. Kim must be overlooking that little detail now that Mahone has agreed to return to duty. I thought Mahone would go rogue, but he seems to be back in the saddle. That scene where he and the other FBI agents were breaking down the video was probably the best scene in the episode. The game of cat and mouse between Michael, AE and Mahone is pretty interesting to watch. The fake Morse code line – “the water is warm” – was especially cool, even though Mahone was too smart to fall for it.

Lincoln brought up a good point when he asked Michael about AE’s motives in finding Sarah. I think AE was serious about helping the brothers until the President called. Now that option is back on the table.

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I blame myself

A funny thing happened when the 2006 – 2007 fall season premiered: I declared “The Knights of Prosperity” – formerly known as “Let’s Rob Mick Jagger” – to be the funniest new comedy of the season…and it was promptly removed from the schedule, with its premiere pushed back to January.

And, then, a not-very-funny-at-all thing happened right before the January premiere of “The Knights of Prosperity”: my father-in-law died unexpectedly, resulting in my life going topsy-turvy and my totally losing track of the fact that the show had premiered until after both the first and second episodes had been aired.

I did, however, catch the third episode…but I wanted to go back and watch the first two episodes online, then write them up before writing up Episode #3…except that, before I knew it, time had gotten away from me, and, suddenly, the fourth episode had aired…and I freaking missed it!

So you can imagine that I felt guilty when I read this.

It’s clearly my fault.

I feel awful.

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“Sidney who? Hmmm…could you spell that for me?”

In her ongoing quest to familiarize daytime television viewers with those heavy paper things with all the words in them, Oprah Winfrey has announced her latest book club selection.

The latest author to be plucked from obscurity and thrust into the instant-millionaire club is…Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier.

Good to know that whole James Frey scandal hasn’t made Oprah shy away from looking out for the little guy.

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Once you’ve seen it, you can’t un-see it

UK rag The Sun assembles shots of all five Academy Award nominees for Best Actress, topless. Yes, even Meryl Streep.

Wow, Helen Mirren was quite the dish, wasn’t she? I’m kidding, of course. She’s still a dish.

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Box Office Roundup: World flocks to see stupid movie that parodies stupid movies, universe collapses on itself

Based on Sunday’s estimates, courtesy of boxofficemojo.com:

1) Epic Movie: $19.2 million (Will Harris, What’s All This, Then?)
Kal Pann walks into a White Castle, and says, “I feel like I’ve been here before!” Jesus.
2) Smokin’ Aces: $14.2 million (Will Harris, What’s All This, Then?)
At least they had the balls to keep Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” in the movie, even if they pulled it out of the trailer. The movie blows either way, though we did like the dead-guy-as-hand-puppet bit.
3) Night at the Museum: $9.4 million, $216.7 million to date (Will Harris, What’s All This, Then?)\
In its sixth week of release, we officially call a moratorium on bothering to come up with anything snappy to say about a movie that doesn’t deserve the effort wasted on it the first five times.
4) Catch and Release: $8 million
Reel Times’ Mark Pfeiffer said this movie was so bad that it could kill Jennifer Garner’s career entirely. Yikes.
5) Stomp the Yard: $7.8 million, $50.6 million to date (owner: Bill Clark, A Don’t Call Me Shirley Joint)
Such an innocuous little pick-up for Bill…and he won the league because of it.
6) Dreamgirls: $6.6 million, $86.6 million to date (Bill Clark: A Don’t Call Me Shirley Joint)
Totally and inexplicably hosed out of a nom for Best Picture. That’s all we have to say on the matter.
7) The Pursuit of Happyness: $5 million, $152.9 million to date (Bill Clark: A Don’t Call Me Shirley Joint)
This movie’s a week older than “Night at the Museum.” Next.
8) Pan’s Labyrinth: $4.5 million, $16.2 million to date (Mark Pfeiffer, Reel Times)
Ah, red wine. Drink it, then beat someone’s face to a bloody pulp with the base of the bottle.
9) The Queen: $4 million, $41.2 million to date: $5.9 million (Jason Zingale, Seven Strangers Productions)
Does anyone else think this year’s Academy Awards show is going to be the most predictable, dullest show ever? Is there even any debate over who’s going to win?
10) The Hitcher: $3.5 million, $13.3 million to date (Bill Clark, Don’t Call Me Shirley)
Might we be witnessing the end of the torture-chic, ‘all horror, all the time’ movement? One can only hope.

15) Blood and Chocolate: $2.1 million
Very good, moviegoing public, you got one right. However, you still get 20 rosaries for the success of “Epic Movie.”

Final standings, fall season
1) A Don’t Call Me Shirley Joint: $370.3 million
2) What’s All This, Then?: $324.2 million
3) Reel Times Pictures $316.8 million
4) TSSU Productions: $288.2 million
5) Punch and Pie Pictures: $278.0 million
6) Seven Strangers Productions: $216.9 million
7) Scary Clown Studios: $196.7 million
8) Nights and Weekends: $181.5 million

The Fantasy Moguls League begins anew starting this week, with new studio head Kevin “Chrysler K-Carr” Carr stepping in for TSSU Productions. COFCA Death Squad, rise!

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