American Idol: another surprise and a big finale

Last night’s season finale of “American Idol” had a bit of everything. It even had another somewhat surprising ending, at least from where I sit. Ryan Seacrest promised that there would be a few tributes to outbound Simon Cowell during the night, and there were. But here is how the rest of the show went down, and we’ll sum it up as quickly as we can:

The Season 9 Top 12 sang Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and once we saw the school kids dressed like Alice Cooper we knew the man himself would make an appearance and he did. But he didn’t sound very good.

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My Best Friend’s Girl

It’s hard to blame Dane Cook for making the most of his 15 minutes of fame – and boy did he, since it lasted more like five years – but one look at his IMDb profile will confirm that it’s finally over. This will likely please movie critics who hold the comic responsible for starring in some of the worst films of the last few years, because his latest rom-com, “My Best Friend’s Girl,” isn’t much better. The fledgling comic stars as Tank, a sort of anti-boyfriend who gets paid to take women on dates so terrible that they immediately run back to their former boyfriends. When Tank’s best friend Dustin (Jason Biggs) hires him to do the same thing with his new lady (Kate Hudson), however, Tank discovers that he actually has feelings for her. What follows is a series of events straight out of the Romantic Comedy Bible, and while the movie isn’t very funny, it’s never so bad that it’s unwatchable. I’m still not entirely sure what Alec Baldwin is doing in a movie like this (Dane Cook and Jason Biggs’ involvement makes sense, and even Kate Hudson has had some questionable taste in scripts lately), but at least he limits his time on screen to a handful of scenes. Bonus points to writer Jordan Cahan for coming up with the idea of a Bible-themed pizza joint named Cheesus Chrust. Now, if only someone actually had the balls to open one up.

Click to buy “My Best Friend’s Girl”

  

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “George Carlin: The Mark Twain Prize”

There were an obscene number of celebrity deaths in 2008, but very few of them hit quite as hard as the loss of George Carlin. He’s one of those guys who I just kind of figured would be around forever, secretly suspecting that he couldn’t die until he had nothing left to grouse about. So much for that theory. It’s particularly bittersweet that, only four days before his death, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced that Carlin would be the 2008 honoree of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The good news, however, is that the decision was made to give him the prize posthumously, the first time such a thing had been done.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take much effort to accumulate a star-studded list of names to pay tribute to Carlin, and the PBS panel to promote “George Carlin: The Mark Twain Prize” included two of them: Richard Belzer and Lewis Black.

The first question posed was one that should’ve been expected by anyone familiar with Carlin’s work: how can PBS properly pay tribute to a man whose most famous routine involved the seven words you can’t say on television?

“I learned a long time ago that if you’re in a church, you don’t do certain things, and if you’re in someone’s home, you don’t do certain things,” said Belzer. “If the philosophy of the network is not to offend people who they think might be offended, I don’t think this hurts this show. George Carlin is so brilliant, his use of language is vast and compelling, that a few bleeps might even be enticing. I don’t think it diminishes how great George is, how important the show is, and the function that PBS serves over time. I mean, civility in manners are defined in different ways. If it were up to me, we’d have all the words you’d want, but I am not a network.”

Executive producer Peter Kaminsky followed up on Belzer’s comments, clarifying, “It goes beyond the
network. It’s the law. The Supreme Court will come down on you heavy. This case is…I mean, I think one of the legacies of George is he started something in the Supreme Court and 40 years later, or whatever, 30 years later, we’re still arguing about it. It’s very much front burner, and we hope to see that change in a new administration.”

Black, unsurprisingly, chimed in on the matter as well. “What will happen if the words were actually said?” he asked. “Children would panic? They don’t hear the words at home? I think what Richard
said is absolutely true, and I think it’s bullshit.”

For her part, Kelly Carlin McCall – George’s daughter – finds the whole matter hilarious. “My dad’s view on this was that if you actually bleep the words, they become dirtier, so it’s a beautiful irony for me,” she said. “I just find it very strange.”

She also acknowledged that her father was extremely happy when he got the news about the Twain prize, which is impressive, given that he didn’t tend to take awards very seriously. “He saw the game of it all,” she said. “It was a bunch of bullshit. But there was something about this prize that meant something to him. He did call me when he found out about it; he was very excited. I think in the last five years he really started to take in that he was the elder statesman of this genre, of these people. He took that seriously. I think he was really getting that, wow, these people really want to honor him in that way. I don’t know how he would have sat there and taken it all in. I would love to have known.”

The best series of comments from the panel…?

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An interview with Dane Cook

Bullz-Eye.com interviewed stand-up comic Dane Cook a while back. Here’s a clip:

In five minutes, Dane Cook is going to call me. This is wildly surreal, in that I’ve been putting snippets of his material on mix CDs for years. He’s one of the few comedians that has made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t make a sound. His new album, Retaliation, is filled with paralyzed-by-laughter moments. His bit about being in a heist, and owning a monkey so he can battle it when he gets home from work, is sublime. After a good long stretch when comedy was dead dead deadsky, Cook is a sight for sore eyes and ears.

The phone rings. My Privacy Manager shows “Cook, Dane” on it. Sweet. Wasn’t expecting that.

BE: So when did you start hitting clubs?

DC: I started touring extensively, outside of New England, like ’94. I stayed around the Boston area the first year, and then started doing clubs in New Hampshire, Maine, and then started getting gigs at some colleges. So yeah, I moved to New York in ’95, and then started hitting the country.

BE: I used to follow comedy religiously, and to me, the boom was the mid ‘80s to the early ‘90s. What was it like getting into comedy when it was kind of at its lowest point?

DC: It was kind of funny, because the week I first started hanging out in the clubs, some of the old time guys, who had been there during the boom, they’d say, “Aw, you missed it! Yeah, it ended like a week ago. You’re just starting now! Oh, good timing, really good timing.” It was dead. There were a lot of clubs still, but it was no catapult to fame the way it was in the late ‘80s. It was good for me, though, in retrospect. It’s not like I had the chance to ride the big wave, only to get caught in the undertow. I could take my time, and nobody was pressuring me to be a headliner. I could go up there, find my voice, and figure out what it is that I wanted to do.

Click here for the full interview….


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