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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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Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour: Top 10 Quotes from Day 1

The death march with cocktails begins anew!

The Winter 2011 TCA Press Tour kicked off on January 5th with the MTV family of networks offering up panels from TV Land (“Retired at 35″ and “Hot in Cleveland”), CMT (“Working Class”), Spike (“Coal”), and Comedy Central (“Onion SportsDome” and “Tosh.0″). From there, it was on to a working lunch, where we learned of the TV Guide Channel’s new reality series, “The Nail Files,” while indulging in a grilled chicken salad and, to ruin any possible health benefits, followed it with a cupcake. With our bellies full, we moved on to the National Geographic sessions: “Beast Hunter,” “Explorer,” “Alien Invasion” and “Area 51 Declassified,” and “WILD on Snakes.” Next, we got a look at two new TV One shows, “Love That Girl!” and “Way Black When,” took a gander of Peter Lik’s new series for The Weather Channel, and the whole thing wrapped up with ESPN’s presentations for “Year of the Quarterback” and the BCS title game.

No, wait, I forgot: after all of the panels had concluded, the Comcast networks threw us a cocktail party which was attended by folks from E!, G4, and Style series. By then, though, I was running on fumes, so all I really did was enjoy the food (petite filets, buttermilk mashed potatoes, turkey sliders, and deep-fried mac & cheese balls…mmmmmmm), throw back a few bourbons, listen to Chris Gore rant about how awful “Tron: Legacy” was, and talk to Bruce Jenner for 15 minutes about his acting work, including “Can’t Stop the Music.” Indeed, the only time “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” came up was when one of his daughters called to tell him that they’d won Favorite TV Guilty Pleasure at the People’s Choice Awards. (He applauded me for “going retro” with my questions.)

Also, somewhere in between all of those panels, I had a chance to ask Betty White a couple of questions, share an interview with Jane Leeves, and do one-on-ones with Wendie Malick, Henry Rollins, Phil Morris, and the anchors and executive producer of “Onion SportsDome.” Arguably my most impressive accomplishment, however, was talking to Jerry Rice, asking a question provided to me by David Medsker (and tightened up slightly by Anthony Stalter), and having him seemingly believe that I know something about sports when I absolutely do not.

I’ll be revisiting some of the individual panels on a case-by-case basis as time allows, but in the meantime, here are the top 10 quotes from Day 1 of the tour. Hope you enjoy them, and see you after Day 2!

1. “What is this Betty White business? This is silly. Really, it is very silly. You’ve had such an overdose of me lately. Trust me. I think I’m going to go away for a while. It’s hard for me to say no to a job because you spend your career thinking if you say no, they’ll never ask you again, and if you don’t take the job, you know, that may be the end of it, but my mother taught me to say no when I was a girl, but that wasn’t about show business. So the result is I’m trying to cut down. I really am.” – Betty White, “Hot in Cleveland” (TV Land)

2. “Betty White is in the building. Did you hear that? I hope I get to touch her. I just had cataracts, and I’m still adjusting, but what I see is looking pretty good.” – Ed Asner, “Working Class” (CMT)

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It’s time for midweek movie news

I used to be disgusted, now I try to stay bemused…

* Yes, they weren’t kidding. Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise are teaming up to make a Les Grossman movie, declares Nikki Finke. I try never to prejudge films, and I really did think Cruise was hilarious in “Tropic Thunder.” However, I think writer Michael Bacall, Ben Stiller, and whoever winds up directing really have their work cut out for them in terms of this not turning into some kind of inverted ego-fest (“look at me — I’m willing to act all crazy!”) like what we saw on MTV a few nights back.

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* A new James L. Brooks romantic comedy by any name will probably be worth a look, and maybe better than that.

* It’s always seemed to me that the best part of the guilty pleasure appeal of “Entourage” — aside from Ari, Lloyd, and Johnny Drama, anyway — is the lightning fast pacing that nearly always leaves fans wanting more. Now, producer Mark Wahlberg is determined to give us more in the form of a movie to follow up from the conclusion of the television show. I’m concerned about whether he gets the concept of why you want to always leave an audience wanting more. If not, “Entourage”  could become the male equivalent of “Sex and the City” in theaters as well as the small screen.

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It’s your post MTV Movie Awards debacle movie news

Yes, isn’t it?

* Okay, so as I wrote in the post below, I felt slightly ill-used by the MTV Movie Awards PR apparatus. However, the question they asked Mrs. Lincoln remains: what did I think of the show? Well, when I finally watched it at home after a long drive home and an only-at-Universal-City-Walk possibility of following up a Pink’s chili dog w/sauerkruat with a Tommy’s Chili burger, I found it…okay. It was loud, vulgar — and not always in a good way — and it had excellent production values that the Oscars could learn from. I think I was as moved as everyone else by Dr. Ken Jeong’s speech about his wife’s former illness.

On the other hand, I could have done with less of the Tom Cruise dancing with Jennifer Lopez thing. The Les Grossman character was very funny, and definitely reminiscent of some real Hollywood characters, in the context of “Tropic Thunder,” but now it seems to have taken on an unneeded life of its own that is starting to creep me out and not in a funny way. But, once again, no one is listening to me and Cruise is talking about, Lord helps us, a Grossman movie. I’m starting to think he should talk more about Scientology.

Tom Cruise,Jennifer Lopez

As far as I what I felt about the actual awards and the movies and performances that were recognized…is there even the slightest point in complaining? I don’t think there’s any pretense that these awards are intended to honor good movies. Of course the “Twilight” movie was going to win. And I guess it’s somehow appropriate to know there’s at least one award Christoph Waltz just can’t get for playing Col. Hans Landa.

One thing that irked me slightly and then later amused me greatly, but not for the reason the MTV producers would have liked, was the much remarked upon proliferation of swear words. I use relatively few curse words for a modern-day American, but I’m not particularly opposed to them, especially when used in a clever or entertaining fashion. In the context of a show where the curses are to go out bleeped, however, more than one or two in a sentence can be a real problem for the audience at home that doesn’t hear it, and it really did bury many of the jokes in a volley of random silence.

Still, one comic highlight was Peter Facinelli’s acceptance speech on behalf of the rest of the “Twilight: New Moon” cast in which he apparently simply overwhelmed the person on the kill-switch with his deliberate carpet F-bombing, and several fuck-words made it through. It was a really funny moment that did not go on unnoticed by society’s killjoys who, just this once, weren’t completely in the wrong, I suppose.  I nevertheless believe that the religious fundamentalist-driven PTC should get a fucking life.

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A really #@#$# afternoon outside the MTV Movie Awards

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I know, you all secretly envy the glamorous life of we entertainment writers. The high pay, the fast cars, the loose women, the expensive perks, the free bottled water — okay, it’s only really the last of those that I’ve come to expect as a matter of course. That’s especially the case when I’m in a red carpet line and expected to stand in direct sunlight on a very warm day for three hours waiting to talk to people of note who never stop by.

Yes, we entertainment writers do occasionally get  free food and beverages in return for showing up to cover red carpets and press days and the like.  It’s all part of the PR machine and I suppose you could argue that sometimes it goes too far. However, most of it is is far from gourmet quality, very few of us are well paid, and if all takes to influence you to cover something positively rather than negatively is a free hoagie, some pasta salad, and a cupcake, integrity wasn’t exactly your middle name to start with.

Still, if people are going to be forced to stand around outside on quite a hot day for close to three hours, quite literally risking a case of mild sunstroke (my mistake for not bringing a hat, I suppose — and thanks to the nice guy next to who allowed me to use his freebie sunblock), then providing access to water might be a good idea. No one I saw fainted or became ill, but no one around me seemed very happy either. Of course, what we all really wanted was a chance for some fun and shallow conversation with celebrities. Since I mainly cover movies, and this was, after all, the MTV Movie Awards, people somehow related to them would be nice. Television is good, too, though my knowledge is not as broad there. Reality television is something else again.

And this is  part where I have to confess that I went to the MTV Movies Awards Red Carpet and I only got a few odd celebrity photos and two brief interviews with young and, I’m sure, quite skilled young actors who are anything but household names. Considering the huge crush of better known media outlets, I wasn’t likely to get a moment with any genuine superstars — just, you know, someone. Okay, so Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, or Michael Cera or even Betty White or Zach Galifianakis or Ed Helms and Ken Jeong might be off the table, but, well, give me somebody or don’t bother to put me there at all. I’ve got better things to do than to make celebrities feel important by trying to get pictures of them as they rush into the air-conditioned confines of Universal’s Gibson Amphitheater.

Given the high ratio of big stars and the small number of mid-level personalities, interesting newcomers, or behind-the-camera talent, I had my suspicions early on. When I saw the costumed and photogenic young lady below, who turns out to ace celebrity stalker La Coacha, the “first protege” of Perez Hilton, I figured I’d better request a picture. It was just possible the attractive junior gossip hound would be the most famous person I’d meet. She was, as it turns out, definitely the prettiest.

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American Idol: Orlando crushes Chicago

You surely would expect that Chicago would produce more contenders on “American Idol” than Orlando, right? Wrong. Orlando produced 31 Hollywood-bound singers than Chicago, which delivered 13 in two days. Whatever, once the Hollywood rounds begin we won’t remember where these folks auditioned unless Ryan Seacrest decides to remind us. So the guest judge was Kristin Chenoweth, at least for Day 1, and she had more spunk in her pinky than Shania Twain. Anyway, the producers showed us most of the good performances last night and not as many crappy ones, to which we say, BO-RING. Here they are…

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EXCLUSIVE: Warren the Ape speaks with Premium Hollywood!

Although my interview with “Greg the Bunny” creators Sean S. Baker, Spencer Chinoy and Dan Milano will be appearing on Bullz-Eye at a future juncture, I was able to get a few minutes with the star of their new MTV “reality” series, “Warren the Ape.”

I’d clearly won over Warren earlier in the day, when I asked him during the TCA panel for the series if his ex-wife Maggie would feature in the series (“You really know your stuff, I appreciate that”), and my question apparently had the same effect on Milano as well, who said that it was a perfect way of showing MTV that there really are people out there who remember their earlier series. While I hope to be able to speak with Warren further at a later date, I hope you’ll enjoy these two brief one-on-one moments that I shared with him for the time being.

First up, Warren picks his favorite addiction and discusses the status of his screenplay:

Then, Warren talks about a possible reissue of a classic album and reveals his hopes and expectations for his new series:

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A “Kick-Ass” marketing campaign?

What’s looking to be almost certainly the most controversial comic book movie of 2010 is starting to take its marketing campaign into high gear with the release of posters for “Kick-Ass.” For those of you not in the know, it’s Mathew Vaughn’s adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.’s comic book about a teen (Aaron Johnson, who’ll also be playing the young John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy”) who decides out of the blue to be a superhero — only he doesn’t get bitten by a radioactive animal, nor does he spend 10 years turning himself into the ultimate ninja. Following his lead, a few presumably less than stable “heroes,” to be played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (“Superbad“), Chloe Moretz (“(500) Days of Summer“), and Nicolas Cage, get into the act. Ultra-violent hijinks ensue.

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As you can see, we have four separate posters here that might be together on large billboards (those of us who live in L.A. may well see some huge version of this on the Sunset strip) and can also be displayed separately.

I don’t know the comic book, but as mentioned here before, there’s been definite buzz around this project based on some clips that showed this year at Comi-Con. Moreover, director Matthew Vaughn was once best known as Guy Ritchie’s producer, but he stepped confidently out of his shadow and emerged, in my opinion, the less showy and better director with the 2003 crime thriller, “Layer Cake.” As with 2007′s underrated/underseen romantic fantasy-comedy, “Stardust” the screenplay is credited to Vaughn and English TV presenter Jane Goldman. I also like the fact that so far Vaughan has made three very different movies in three different genres.

According to Peter Sciretta of /Film, comparisons are flying with this one, particularly to “The Matrix” and also, according to a unnamed friend who saw it, “Shaun of the Dead” — presumably in terms of the sense of humor. Still, considering the possibility for social satire and the touchy spectacle of young people and ultra-violence, my mind is going towards Kinji Fukasaku’s film of “Battle Royale.”

I understand a trailer is coming next week. Also, according to Rick Marshall of MTV, there is a web site (iamkick-ass.com), but what I’m seeing there right now is just pure whiteness. Not terribly kick-ass. Stay on the lookout, I guess.

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Jackass: The Lost Tapes

We’re going to assume that by “lost,” they mean “originally rejected by Standards and Practices, retrofitted as a DVD-only, warehouse-clearing cash grab.” And as these things go, it’s pretty entertaining. Some of these skits have appeared on other “Jackass” sets – Johnny Knoxville subjects himself to pepper spray, a taser and a stun gun, while Dave Englund makes the appropriately named vomelet – but there are some bits that were too good to hit the cutting room floor, namely “Cowboy Skatepark” and “Wakeboarding.” They weren’t stingy either, compiling 93 scenes, though several of those scenes are five seconds or less. How much you enjoy “Jackass: The Lost Tapes” depends greatly on how much bathroom humor you can handle; seemingly every third skit involves poo of some kind, and just listening to Englund regurgitating a gallon of milk is graphic enough to elicit the same response in the viewer. None of it is necessarily essential – though Steve-O is surely glad to see that the scene where he was branded on the heart made the cut, after complaining to us about its exclusion from the broadcast – but it would make a nice stocking stuffer for the jackass in your life.

Click to buy “Jackass: The Lost Tapes”

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TCA Tour, Jan. 2009: “How’s Your News?”

MTV’s “How’s Your News?” would seem to be a real tightrope-walk of a series. On one hand, it’s about a group of people with disabilities who have put together a news team…and if that sounds like the makings of a really good documentary, you’re right: the show sprang forth from the film of the same name. On the other hand, it’s produced by Matt Stone and Trey Parker of “South Park” fame, and once you’ve heard that, you immediately find yourself waiting for the other shoe to drop, figuring that, sooner or later, they’re gonna make fun of these people.

Except they don’t.

We were shown clips from the show, with the news team visiting various locations and interviews celebrities; their enthusiasm was downright contagious throughout the footage, and any concerns we might’ve had about these folks being treated inappropriately were quickly dismissed by their parents, who gushed about how much their kids are getting out of the experience. So, yes, it’s funny, but it’s also sweet and touching. I still think MTV is just about the worst possible place for the series, since I just can’t imagine the network’s typical demographic doing anything but mocking what they’re seeing on the screen, but, hey, it might actually get me to watch MTV for a change.

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