Fans of Mr. Swayze will want to be sure and check out our earlier post from Will Harris, Remembering Patrick Swayze.
I’ve been just a bit distracted and sleepy today and didn’t even hear about Kanye West’s little display at the VMA’s last night until just now. Of course, I’m strictly a movie blogger, more or less, so I don’t have to weigh in on — or even watch — last night’s no doubt mega-embarrassing spectacle. A small mercy. Also, as I started to write this, we got the very sad news of the passing of film and television star Patrick Swayze from pancreatic cancer. Just below this post, Will Harris remembers him in high style.
Fortunately, not everything going on today is as really bad or really sad. Still, because I’m an irresponsible member of the media, I’m going to lead with the bad.
* In political blogging, it’s common to refer to something called Godwin’s Law. The original version simply held that the longer an online discussion went on, the greater the possibility, or near certainty, that someone would invoke Hitler or Nazis. Over time, however, it’s use has extended and inapt Nazi/Hitler comparisons are held up for ridicule on Godwin grounds. Quoth the Wikipidians:
Godwin’s Law applies especially to inappropriate, inordinate, or hyperbolic comparisons…Whether it applies to humorous use or references to oneself is open to interpretation, since this would not be a fallacious attack against a debate opponent.
Well, I don’t think she was being particularly humorous (I guess you could call that the “Soup Nazi exception”), so I have to say that Megan Fox was definitely somewhere in Godwin’s Law territory when she compared controversial blockbuster director Michael Bay to, yes, Hitler last week. Now, I’m anything but a Michael Bay admirer, but on his long list of unfortunate qualities as a public figure, “genocidal mad man” simply isn’t there. He belongs in movie jail, not the Hague.
Anyhow, that would have been the end of it, but unnamed members of Michael Bay’s crew have, for whatever reason, gotten into the act and have written an unnecessary but nevertheless rather hilarious attack on Ms. Fox, which you can read all of over at Nikki Finke’s place. Apparently wanting to keep the peace with Fox, Michael Bay has gotten into the act to distance himself from the crew comments. He refers to Megan Fox’s “crazy quips.” I don’t think he understands what the word “quip” actually means. I guess he belongs in word usage jail, also.
* Casting stories can get tedious, but awhile back I made a big deal about the casting of Taiwanese singer-kick-butt martial artist Jay Chou in Seth Rogen’s upcoming “The Green Hornet.” Now, the movie is starting to look even more fun with the placement of Christoph Waltz in the role of the bad guy. Waltz, of course, is the multilingual German TV actor turned international flavor of the month with his universally lauded, thoroughly enjoyable performance as the “Jew Hunter,” Col. Hans Landa, in “Inglourious Basterds.”
Not since Alan Rickman damn near stole “Die Hard” from Bruce Willis has a previously unknown actor playing a villain — particularly a more or less completely unredeemable villain — gotten anything resembling this kind of attention. Even Rickman didn’t get anywhere near this much praise, as important as he was to the massive success of that borderline-classic action flick.
It’s safe to say we’ll be hearing from Waltz a lot. I just hope he can find some really good leading man roles, too. If anyone deserves to suddenly become a full-on international superstar at age 52, he might be the guy.
* I’ve been guilty of ignoring the Toronto International Film Festival (aka TIFF). The favorite major festival of geeky cinephiles (a rep that was perhaps harmed slightly by a kerfluffle this year over blogger press credentials) is now well underway. The high profile films this year include Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” which wowed ’em at the Telluride Film Festival just a few days back, and the Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man.” Anne Thompson and Karina Longworth are covering their ends of the festival very nicely.
Those who read Premium Hollywood know that I have a tendency to discuss the deaths of celebrities by remembering what they meant to me, and when I heard that Patrick Swayze died, my mind immediately went back to January 2009. Obviously, Swayze’s cancer diagnosis had led everyone to fear the worst about him, but I think I’m safe in saying that most of were rooting for him to beat the disease, and when it was announced that he was going to be starring in A&E’s new crime drama, “The Beast,” I don’t know about you, but that was a moment where I was, like, “Yeah! That’s so Swayze of him to say, ‘Screw the cancer, it’s time to get to work.”
I’d hoped to get a phoner with him in the midst of the press blitz for “The Beast,” but due to his treatment, he’d limited the majority of his media time to E-mail interviews and the one-off Barbara Walters conversation, so I immediately sat down and tried to come up with a list of 15 thoughtful, intelligent questions which covered his entire career rather than just shit like, “Could Dalton kick Bodhi’s ass?” I was damned proud of what I came up with, and I promptly sent them off to the publicist. Not long after that, I learned that Swayze was going to be attending the TCA press tour in order to help promote the show, and since I still hadn’t gotten my responses back, I found myself venturing into my usual naive optimism, thinking, “Hey, maybe I can get the answers to these questions in person!” Instead, we arrived at the panel to find ourselves with an unfortunate scoop: Swayze would not be in attendance, owing to the fact that he had checked himself into the hospital for observation after having contracted pneumonia. Rumors immediately circulated that Swayze was on death’s door, that the end was nigh. Me, I immediately felt like an asshole, because – for better or worse – the first thought that came to my mind was the incredibly selfish, “Oh, man, now I’ll never get those questions answered…”
And I didn’t. But it’s a testament to Swayze’s reputation as a tough guy that he managed to battle back from the pneumonia and fight the cancer for another nine months, and anyone who’s lost someone to cancer knows that, after a fight that long and hard, his departure was one well earned.
As I looked back over Swayze’s work to put together this piece, I realized that the reason I’d had that selfish thought upon learning that he wouldn’t be making it to the TCA panel was that I really, really liked Patrick Swayze. I didn’t necessarily love every movie he ever made, but there was just something about the guy that was cool and likable and yet still pretty damned bad-ass, but…well, I don’t believe that the term “big-brothery” actually appears in the dictionary, but that’s how I saw the guy. (It probably stems back to my having seen “The Outsiders” during my formative years.) And if truth be told, I don’t think Swayze ever actually saw my questions. He always seemed like the kind of guy who, if he had read them, would’ve written back and said, “Say, buddy, you actually put a lot of thought into these, didn’t you? You know, I really appreciate that!”
Damn, now I’m starting to get depressed…and if you’re a Swayze fan, too, then you’re probably already there with me, so let’s look back at ten classic quotes from ten of the man’s most memorable films and just think about the legacy he left us.
10. “Boy, you just discovered the oldest sexual position in the book: the foolish position. You just got to remember, your brains are between your ears and not your legs.” – Ernie “Slam” Webster, “Grandview U.S.A.”
9. “I don’t give a shit where I play as long as I go number one in the draft and I sign the biggest contract I can. I’ve been busting my ass in this league for four years, and I’m gonna get what’s coming to me.” – Derek Sutton, “Youngblood”
8. “Son, it breaks my heart to say this, but I believe you are a very troubled and confused young man. I believe you are searching for the answers in all the wrong places.” – Jim Cunningham, “Donnie Darko”
7. “Well, pumpkins, it comes down to that age-old decision: style…or substance?” – Veda Boheme, “To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar”
6. “I love you, Molly. I’ve always loved you.” – Sam Wheat, “Ghost”
5. “It’s kind of strange, isn’t it? How the mountains pay us no attention at all. You laugh or you cry, the wind just keeps on blowing.” – Jed Eckert, “Red Dawn”
4. “Listen, with your brains and grades, you could get a scholarship, and we could put you through college, ain’t that right, Soda? But you’re livin’ in a vaccuum, Pony, and you’re gonna have to cut it out. You just don’t stop living because you lose somebody. I thought you knew that. And anytime you don’t like the way I’m running things around here, you can just get out, all right?” – Darrel Curtis, “The Outsiders”
3. “I’m gonna do my kind of dancin’ with a great partner, who’s not only a terrific dancer; somebody who’s taught me that there are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them; somebody who’s taught me about the kind of person I wanna be.” – Johnny Castle, “Dirty Dancing”
2. “All you have to do is follow three simple rules. One, never underestimate your opponent. Expect the unexpected. Two, take it outside. Never start anything inside the bar unless it’s absolutely necessary. And three, be nice.” – Dalton, “Road House”
1. “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.” – Bodhi, “Point Break”
So long, Mr. Swayze…
Wait, didn’t I just go to one of these press tours…?
Actually, that was back in July, when the networks were busy pimping their new fall schedules; this time, they were presenting us with an idea of what we can expect to see on our favorite broadcast and cable channels from now until they premiere their next fall schedule.
Going out to L.A. in January was a new thing for me, though. It was my first winter tour since becoming a member of the Television Critics Association in 2007 – last year’s was canceled due to the writers’ strike – and, if the rumblings throughout the ballrooms at the Universal Hilton were any indication, it may well prove to be my last January tour. I’m hopeful that this presumption turns out to be inaccurate, but given the current economic climate and an increasing tendency for newspapers and publications to only send their TV critics out for one tour per year, there’s every reason to suspect that the networks will join suit and only be willing to pamper those critics once per year.
Sorry, did I say “pamper”? Of course, I meant, “Treat with the utmost respect.”
It feels a bit odd to be doing a wrap-up of my experiences at the tour before I’ve even had a chance to write up all of the panels I attended while I was out there, but, hey, when you get a good spot on the calendar, you make it work however you can. So still keep your eyes open for my ongoing pieces on the various shows you can expect to find on the broadcast networks during the next few months, but in the meantime, here’s a look at some of the best and worst bits from the January ’09 tour as a whole.
Most enjoyable panel by a cable network: “Rescue Me,” FX.
I’ve been a big Denis Leary fan every since No Cure for Cancer, so I knew the guy was inevitably going to go off on a profanity-filled rant before the end of the panel. What I didn’t expect, however, was that Peter Tolan – who co-created the show with Leary – would start the proceedings by telling Leary to watch his mouth, adding, “If you were going to say ‘cunt,’ don’t.”
From there, the two of them seemingly battled each other in an attempt to offer up the most memorable line. Leary complained about his salary. (“I had a crazy idea of getting paid, like, $250,000 an episode. They put limits on that, let me tell you. That’s Kiefer Sutherland money right there.”) Then Tolan claimed that he was at fault for the show’s fourth-season slump, blaming it on a drug problem and that “I was heavy into a kazillion hookers that year.” Then Leary bitched about how Michael J. Fox was going to guest on “Rescue Me” and get the Emmy that Leary himself has yet to earn. (“Five fucking episodes, he comes in. God damn, $700 million from ‘Spin City.’ He never asked me to do the show. He’s going to walk away with the fucking Emmy. That son of a bitch.”) Then Tolan started mocking Hugh Laurie’s American accent by talking about how he could do a British accent. (“Aye, pip, pip, mate, aye! ‘Allo, Mary Poppins!”) And…well, as you can see, there was really no contest: this may well have been the greatest panel ever.
You need to watch “The Beast” on Thursday night. Seriously, you really do. It’s awesome. If you’ve ever been a bit iffy about Patrick Swayze’s acting chops, you won’t be by the end of the first episode. Whether it’s because he felt an affinity for the part of an undercover FBI agent who may or may not be corrupt or because he knew he was sick and wanted to offer up the strongest possible final performance, I’ll say this for his work on the show: if it isn’t the best acting job he’s ever turned in, it’s damned close. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to score a proper one-on-one with him during his time at the TCA tour (though I did submit a series of questions to him via E-mail, which I’m still hoping to get answered), I was still very excited about the prospect of being able to see him at the panel for “The Beast” and maybe get the opportunity to ask him *a* question in person.
Of course, that opportunity didn’t present itself. As we sat in the ballroom, awaiting the beginning of the panel, Abbe Raven, President and CEO of A&E Television Networks, approached the podium and broke the disconcerting news that Swayze had checked himself into the hospital. From there, Bob DeBitetto, President of A&E Network, clarified the situation more specifically: Swayze had checked himself into the hospital this morning for observation after coming down with pneumonia. He did not make this decision, however, without making sure that certain announcements were made on his behalf.
“Patrick did want me to tell you that he is very sorry for being unable to attend this morning, but he plans to get back to promoting ‘The Beast’ as soon as he is back on his feet and feeling well again,” said DeBitetto. “Patrick also asked me to tell you that he is unbelievably proud of the work that he and the entire ‘Beast’ team have done, and he wanted you to have an opportunity to speak to the creative team behind this great show and his costar. He thanks everybody for all the outpouring of support that he has been receiving recently.”