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Howard Stern back on Letterman

Howard Stern was back on David Letterman’s show and it’s a good one. As usual, Howard has to bring up the feud with Jay Leno.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Election heats up on entertainment programs

There are only thirteen days left, and most people are sick of the process at this point, especially if you live in the swing states. You can see the election everywhere, including shows like Bill Maher as you might expect. But you’re also seeing Obama and Romney on many of the entertainment programs as well. That’s more true of Obama. Romney seems reluctant at times to have anyone interview him, so he canceled his appearance on “The View.” Obama of course was thrilled to go on that program as most of the women there love him. Obama will also be hitting MTV and Jay Leno this week.

Of course politicians have always been doing stuff like this. Most of us remember Bill Clinton playing the sax on Arsenio. JFK hung around with the Rat Pack, but that was a much different time. Of course with politics, some things have changed dramatically while others stays the same. In today’s world, Twitter rules and bloggers can have a ton of influence. Still, TV rules, as it’s done since JFK outclassed Richard Nixon in the first televised debate. And then you have mailers, brochures and yard signs. Those have been around forever and are still important. Of course the difference now is use can use online printing services to get a better deal, like online brochure printing at UPrinting. While the Internet can make a huge difference, person to person campaigning and printed campaign materials will always have influence.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

When Conan O’Brien was unexpectedly removed as host of “The Tonight Show” after less than a year on the job, the comedian’s much-publicized departure led to a number of protests across the country organized by his army of supporters. Legally prohibited to appear on television, radio or the internet for six months following his final show on NBC, O’Brien hit the road on a 32-city music-and-comedy tour to keep himself busy in the interim. But after watching this revealing documentary by director Rodman Flender about O’Brien’s time on the road, any sympathy you might have had for him is quickly erased upon learning that he’s actually kind of a dick.

Though O’Brien deserves a lot of credit for allowing this version of himself to even be shown, the documentary is a pretty eye-opening experience that showcases the attention-hungry performer at his absolute worst. He may not have been in the right head space at the time, but that’s no excuse for mistreating your personal assistant, your writing staff, and perhaps most importantly, your fans. Throughout the film’s 89-minute runtime, O’Brien complains incessantly about having to schmooze at after parties and attend meet and greets with VIP fans that paid extra for the opportunity, and yet despite all the whining, he continues to do more than he’s asked because he’s so addicted to performing. In that respect, Flender’s doc is a success, but while most people will be expecting the funny man-child they see on TV, the Conan O’Brien represented here is little more than a broken man desperate to be the center of attention. And no matter how refreshing that honesty may be, it’s not very entertaining.

Click to buy “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”

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¿Es un pájaro? ¿Es un avión?

No, es Javier Bardem.

According to MTV’s Josh Wigler, this clip turned up on Jay Leno last week when the actor was there promoting his latest, “Biutiful.” So, I guess Leno’s researchers, at least, can be funny.

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Back from Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison

Originally broadcast on Comedy Central in February of this year, this one-hour show features over a dozen comics paying heartfelt tribute to one of the true comedy greats, with footage of Kinison routines both well-known and previously unreleased serving as the anchors to the topics that the comics discuss. There isn’t much here about Kinison’s life that hasn’t been covered before, but it’s still fun to watch guys like Denis Leary, Chris Rock and Ron White talk about Kinison’s influence while opening up about the differences between his on-stage persona and the off-stage teddy bear. The discuss his love of rock music (and even include the promo video and a live performance of “Wild Thing”), and how he brought the rock and comedy communities together, and even include a snippet of a religious sermon Kinison gave when he was still a preacher. The one thing they glossed over – and to be honest, we’re not at all surprised that they did this – was how much the quality of Kinison’s material dropped when the ’80s were over, when he stopped writing jokes and started screaming “Fuck You!” at the top of his lungs. It’s all right to acknowledge an artist’s decline and still love them; John Lennon was a shell of his former songwriting self when he died, but people still love him, and rightly so. It would have been nice to see these comics, and this special, do the same.

Click to buy “A Tribute to Sam Kinison”
Click to read Bullz-Eye’s induction of Kinison into their Comedy Hall of Fame
Click to read Bullz-Eye’s 2009 interview with Sam Kinison’s brother Bill Kinison

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Met Them at the Greek — a press day chat with Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Rose Byrne and Nicholas Stoller of “Get Him to the Greek”

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If you saw “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” — and I hope you have as its one of the stronger comedies to be made over the last several years — you’ll likely have noticed the strong comic chemistry between British comedy sensation Russell Brand as three-quarters insane, recovering addict rock star Aldous Snow and Jonah Hill (“Superbad“) as a resort waiter and somewhat overly devoted fan of Snow’s. Well, you’re not the only one, and so we have the somewhat slapdash, sometimes brilliant, and ultimately winning new comedy, “Get Him to the Greek,” which once again brings us Brand as Aldous Snow, who, since the events of “Sarah Marshall” has suffered a failed marriage to rocker Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), had a seven-year old son, and removed the “recovering” from his addiction — kind of impressive since “Sarah Marshall” was only two years ago.

Nevertheless, having fallen headlong off the wagon, Snow needs help arriving on-time and semi-cognizant for an important TV appearance, a sound check, and a special comeback performance at L.A.’s Greek Theater. The task falls to ambitious young record company assistant Aaron Green (Hill, playing a different character than in “Sarah Marshall”), a huge fan of Snow’s in a sweet but rocky relationship with his improbably adorable doctor girlfriend (Elizabeth Moss of “Mad Men“). Frequently vomit-stained hijinks ensue as Green and Snow barely survive a number of unfortunate events, including a nearly apocalyptic visit to the set of “The Today Show,” one of the most truly mad Las Vegas sequences in film history, and the kind of freaky three-ways that would make most porn producers blanch. It’s all wrapped up with the sort of good-hearted traditional morality which reminds us that the producer is the Walt Disney of male-centric, R-rated comedies, Judd Apatow.

Since the film was set to premiere with a special screening and live concert at the Greek Theater a few days hence, it made sense to have a bunch of us entertainment-type writers show up for a series of roundtables with Brand and Hill, not to mention writer/director Nicholas Stoller and actress Rose Byrne, whose character has a special gift for singing the most obscene lyrics imaginable with the straightest possible face.

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Bullz-Eye’s TCA 2010 Winter Press Tour Wrap-Up: Simon Signs, Conan Conquers, and Patrick Stewart Just Plain Rules

The 2010 winter press tour of the Television Critics Association took place at the Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa from January 8th – 18th, which you probably already know from the various postings which were done during and have continued since my attendance at the event. It’s a regular tradition, however, that I do a wrap-up piece which summarizes my experiences during the tour, and since I invariably seem to get a positive response from those pieces, I always try to make it as entertaining a read as possible. Here’s hoping I’ve succeeded as well this time as I have in the past…but if I haven’t, I feel certain you’ll let me know.

Most enjoyable panel by a broadcast network: “Great Performances: Macbeth,” PBS.

I’ll freely admit that I was predisposed to enjoy the panel due to the fact that it featured the newly-knighted Sir Patrick Stewart, but I spoke to others afterwards who declared it to have been the best panel of the tour up to that point. Partial credit for the success goes to the critics in the audience, who consistently offered up intelligent questions about the subject matter at hand…and let me assure you that this is not always the case. Even on an occasion when an attempt at going in a unique direction fell flat, such as when one writer asked Stewart if he was familiar with FX’s “Sons of Anarchy” (it’s been called a Shakespearean saga on motorcycles), it led to the revelation that Ron Perlman has played an interesting place in Stewart’s life. “I was having dinner with Ron Perlman the day that I was offered Jean-Luc Picard in ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation,’” he said, ‘so I have always looked on Ron as being a lucky omen. So you mentioning his name today, I hope, means that the rest of the day is going to be brighter than it begin.” At the very least, Sir Patrick’s remarks during the panel brightened mine.

Most interactive panel by a cable network: “The Choir,” BBC America.

Gareth Malone is a man on a mission to bring music to those who may not think that they have an interest in it, creating choirs in various schools in England and helping the youth of today raise their voices in song. We soon discovered that this extended to television critics as well. “In England, everyone knows that when I enter a room, everyone’s going to sing,” Malone began ominously, “so I would like to invite you to leave your Apples and come up onto stage, and we’re going to have a little singsong.” The immediate reaction was less than enthusiastic, with at least one person piping up, “It’s against the bylaws!” Malone would not be denied, however. “It will be very brief,” he assured us. “I’ll be very, very, kind. I promise not to do opera. Honestly, it’s going to be very, very gentle. I promise. Risk it. There won’t be very much. Typists, abandon your typing!” In the end, he managed to get a couple of dozen of us up there…yes, I was among the huddled masses…to perform a not-as-bad-as-it-could’ve-been chorus of “Barbara Ann.” As there is neither an audio recording nor a YouTube clip to prove otherwise, you may feel free to believe that I personally sounded fantastic.

Best intro to a panel from a cable network: “Dance Your Ass Off,” Oxygen.

All I know about this show is what I’ve learned from watching clips on “The Soup,” but when a panel starts off by having its panelists literally dancing their way down the aisles and onto the stage, at the very least, it gets your attention.

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Leno’s return to ‘Tonight Show’ yields underwhelming ad prices

Jay Leno

According to Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times, a commercial for Jay Leno’s reclamation as host of “The Tonight Show” on March 1 will only cost $35,000. A few years ago, $50,000 was the going rate. Flint cites the competition from the other late-night talk shows, digital video recorders, and the availability of clips on the Internet.

Audience erosion

Indeed, as late-night shows like those hosted by Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert sprouted on cable, viewers have gradually tuned out the networks’ counterparts. The combined audience for NBC’s, ABC’s and CBS’ late-night programs has fallen 20% from five years ago, according to Nielsen Co.

More troubling: The group of viewers 18 to 49 years old — the spend-happy cohort that sponsors most want to reach — has plunged 36%.

Spending money

One of NBC’s arguments in moving Leno into prime time was that, although his show would garner fewer viewers than a drama, its lower production costs would lead to higher profits.

But that doesn’t mean a late-night retinue of producers, writers, stagehands and assistants — O’Brien’s “Tonight Show” employed 190 people — plus the host come cheap.

Letterman and Leno each pull down more than $30 million annually, said people familiar with the productions, and O’Brien earned $12 million. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel makes $8 million to $10 million, these people said.

The price drop is completely understandable. There are more late-night talk shows now than ever before and they need to do this to stay afloat. If one show is charging less, another will have to do the same unless its ratings are dominant. Of course, the advertisers aren’t complaining.

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Just a couple of things… (updated)

I’m going to be spending this extremely rainy So-Cal MLK day doing some catching up with various movie-watching obligations, including some awards-type flicks I’ve been criminally behind on, but first a couple of random left over things.

* I expected a bit more fall-out, perhaps, from Ricky Gervais’s more-mean-than-funny gag at the expense of Paul McCartney and his recent divorce, but I guess I wasn’t alone in my mixed reaction to last night’s festivities as a show. Of course, my mixed reaction has nothing on the sheer, predictable venom of Nikki Finke’s nevertheless readable “live snark” of the event. She does have a point, exaggerated though it likely is, in underlining that — even among big show business awards — the Globes aren’t exactly known for their uncompromising integrity. Certainly, last night’s win by Robert Downey Jr., as talented and committed a performer as he is and has been for decades, does seem to follow her statement that “Stars win in direct correlation to their glamor quotient.”

One great line that a lot of us missed from the pre-show activities came courtesy of who else but the wondrous Tina Fey, remarking upon the unstereotypical Southern California weather last night: “No, it’s not rain. It’s God crying for NBC.” The rain, by the way, is expected to continue all week. I guess we know Who Else might be on Team Coco.

Also, one thing I forgot to say last night. “Sofia Loren.” I’m just impressed to see her, anywhere. Time may wear on, but that face is eternal.

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UPDATE: I forgot to add that the ratings for last night’s telecast were up from prior years, and I suspect Gervais’s presence did not hurt.

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TCA Tour: Live from (the same state as) the Golden Globes!

Since I’m currently sitting in southern California with a bunch of TV critics and watching the Golden Globes, it seems a little ridiculous for me to do anything other than live blog the thing…well, the TV portion, anyway. I wouldn’t dare take away anything from Mr. Westal’s coverage of the film portion. With that said, however, I can’t exactly ignore the show’s host, Ricky Gervais, so I’m definitely planning to give him a shout-out whenever he offers up a great line.

I’ve never done this before, so be gentle with me…

8:01 PM: Gervais suggests that most people probably know him as the guy from the original British “Office,” then shakes his head and says, “No, you don’t, do you?” The highlight comes when Gervais suggests that “quality, not quantity” makes his version of “The Office” the better one, which results in Steve Carell’s mouthing of “I will break you” to Gervais.

8:02 PM: “I’m not used to these sort of viewing figures. Then again, neither is NBC.”

8:03 PM: “Actors: they’re just better than ordinary people, aren’t they?” Hugh Laurie seems amused by Gervais’s remarks about he plays a doctor on television better than a real physician would, while Kiefer Sutherland is perhaps less so by the suggestion that some of the fights on “24″ aren’t scripted.

8:04 PM: “Let’s get on with it before NBC replaces me with Jay Leno.”

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Toni Collette, “United States of Tara.” Although I’m a little surprised that Tina Fey didn’t take home the award, I acknowledged in my nominations piece that I figured a lot of people might favor Collette. I guess it was an easy pick. It just wasn’t mine. I still think it’s John Corbett and the kids who are the real stars of that show.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: John Lithgow, “Dexter.” I still haven’t seen his performance yet, and yet I still picked it. That’s how strong the buzz was. Glad to see it paid off.

8:29 PM: “We’ve seen some worthy winners…aaaaaaand we’ve seen some not so worthy winners.”

8:30 PM: After observing that one can’t officially buy a Golden Globe Award, Gervais concedes that he’s probably never going to be allowed to do the show again.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama: Michael C. Hall, “Dexter.” I think that, at three (TV) awards in a row, you can officially begin to suggest that Showtime is dominating the proceedings. Given the acclaim that this season has received, I’m not surprised that Hall beat out my pick (Hugh Laurie), and once you’ve factored in the fact that he’s battling back from lymphoma, who could complain, really?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama: Julianna Marguiles, “The Good Wife.” Holy crap! My dark horse pick took home the win! What an awesome line from Julianna about CBS keeping the faith by continuing to air quality drama at 10 PM. I announced to my fellow critics that I’d gotten this pick right, and I was accused of being Nostradamus. Somebody cue up “We Are The Champions,” please. I’d like to enjoy this victory as long as possible.

8:43 PM: Gervais bashes Paul McCartney by claiming that he shared a flight with the former Beatle, with Gervais in first class and Macca in coach because he’s “saving money.” After receiving several boos for his trouble, Gervais assures the crowd, “Uh, I think he’s still doing all right!”

Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: “Grey Gardens.” No complaints. I picked “Taking Chance” for this category, but I picked Drew Barrymore for her performance in the film, so I can hardly argue with this selection.

8:59 PM: Gervais decries the boozing, brawling Irish stereotype, then introduces Colin Farrell. (Farrell admits, “When I heard Ricky Gervais was gonna be introducing me, I said, ‘Oh, balls…’”)

9:09 PM: When Helen Mirren said, “Life,” then paused, I was really hoping she was going to follow it by saying, “Don’t talk to me about life.” But she didn’t.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Kevin Bacon, “Taking Chance.” Same situation as above. I wanted to see Chiwetel Ejiofor take it home for “Endgame,” but given how much I loved “Taking Chance,” I’ve no complaints.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Drew Barrymore, “Grey Gardens.” Exxxxxxxcellent. Someone here just referred to the performance as “her first acting award,” and there’s a certain amount of truth to that, as she offered up more in “Grey Gardens” than most people would’ve expected that she had in her. You know, I’ve watched “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” a lot of times, but that reference to “Jeff Spicoli’s girlfriend” flew right over my head. Anyone…?

9:22 PM: Gervais notes how actors want to be ever-changing and constantly moving, then says, “Please welcome Rachel from ‘Friends’ and that bloke from ’300.’”

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock.” You can never go wrong with Alec Baldwin, I guess. But I still wanted Steve Carell to win it, if only to hear what Gervais had to say about it.

9:36 PM: God love Zachary Levi and Amy Poehler, but…really? Those were the best jokes you could provide for the stars of two of NBC’s best shows? The network needs all the help it can get!

Best Television Series – Drama: “Mad Men.” This is a category where there were no losers, but with that said, I really couldn’t imagine any other series than this one taking home the win. Look at the beard on Jon Hamm..and the breasts on Christina Hendricks! I couldn’t believe the music kicked in so quickly on Matthew Weiner, but as someone here said, it’s a basic-cable network. That doesn’t buy you much time, no matter how much acclaim your show gets.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television: Chloe Sevigny, “Big Love.” The only thing more upsetting than her win is her dress. I kid. Well, about the win, anyway. (I love Rose Byrne, but after seeing her today at the TCA panel for “Damages,” I was beginning to wonder if she was even capable of smiling anymore.) Seriously, though, that dress is horrid.

9:48 PM: Gervais sips from what is almost certainly a glass of real lager, then struggles to get a laugh from his “Catwoman” joke…which is probably almost as much of a struggle as it took to get Halle Berry into that dress she’s wearing.

9:57 PM: Am I the only one who was just creeped out by DeNiro’s bit about Scorcese having sex with film?

10:00 PM: Great clipfest for Scorcese. Methinks it might be time to go order a copy of “The King of Comedy” from Amazon.

10:12 PM: The lager’s back, as Gervais admits, “I’ve had a couple, I’m not gonna lie to you.” He then blames the alcohol for anyone he might’ve offended, after which he quickly offers up the most incredible introduction of the night: “I like a drink as much as the next man…unless the next man is Mel Gibson.” And just like that, Ricky Gervais is officially the best host of the Golden Globes EVER.

10:16 PM: James Cameron wins for “Avatar,” and Dileep Rao’s Golden Globes party suddenly gets kicked up a notch. I only mention this because he went to that party instead of having dinner with me. You got lucky, Rao!

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy: “Glee.” That’s going to be one happy set when I go visit it tomorrow. Nice shout-out from Ryan Murphy to Miss Barbra Streisand and the show’s “fake sexy teen cast,” as well as the dedication to everyone who ever got a wedgie in high school. Aw, that’s so sweet of you to include me, Ryan…

Well, that’s it for the TV awards, but I have to hang in there to see if Ricky Gervais has anything else left to say…or anyone else does, for that matter. Like, say, the governor of California…

10:34 PM: Damn, even Schwarzenegger can’t resist getting in a jab at NBC!

10:35 PM: Gervais really must be scared of Mickey Rourke if the best he can offer up is, “I haven’t gotten a bad word to say about him, mostly because he’s got arms as big as my legs.”

10:42 PM: I hope the kazillion ads they’ve shown for “Parenthood’ actually earn the show some viewers. I really liked the pilot. I can’t say the same for “The Marriage Ref,” partially because they haven’t produced a screener for us yet, but mostly because of my feud with Jerry Seinfeld. But that’s a story for another time.

10:52 PM: Do you get the impression that, were it not for Chrysler, we might’ve been stuck listening to the Golden Globes on the radio?

10:55 PM: What? Straight into Julia Roberts and Best Motion Picture – Drama without a last appearance from Gervias? Gyp! Oh, well, at least “Avatar” won. Congrats again, Mr. Rao. I just hope that party was worth it…

10:59 PM: Ah, there we go. “If I had one wish, it would be for peace on earth. No, wait, can I change that? It would be for everyone to watch ‘The Ricky Gervais Show,’ on HBO on Feb. 19th.” Way to end on a plug, sir.

So there you go: my first-ever live blog. I hope it made for at least a semi-entertaining read, and stay tuned for Bob Westal’s movie portion of the proceedings, coming soon!

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