Monday, June 30, 2008

Will Michael Scott Be Pleased?

Variety reported that the wonderful Amy Ryan will be back on "The Office" for a number of episodes next season to reprise her role as Holly Flax, Toby's HR replacement. As fans will recall, we were introduced to Holly in the season finale ("Goodbye Toby") where she quickly hit it off with Michael (Steve Carell). There appeared to be some real chemistry between those two (Michael even offered to make her a mixtape...Awww) before it was derailed by Michael finding out about Jan's pregnancy. I think Holly really liked Michael, and while I know Michael's a boob, I still think he deserves better than the way he's been treated by Jan. Here's to hoping for happily ever afters for all "The Office" couples...Pam and Jim, Dwight and Angela, and Michael and Amy/Jan/?. I guess we'll have to tune in next season to see who cupid's arrow will strike.

Emmy's Release Top Ten Shortlist

For the first time ever, the Television Academy and Emmy organizers revealed the shortlist of the Top 10 shows in the drama and comedy categories which are vying for a shot to be nominated for the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. The shows are as follows:

Top 10 Comedy Series Finalists
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
The Office
Pushing Daisies
30 Rock
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty

Top 10 Drama Series Finalists
Boston Legal
Friday Night Lights
Grey’s Anatomy
Mad Men
The Tudors
The Wire

I'm thrilled to see that a couple of the shows from my Emmy Wish List have a shot at the big prize, and I'm pleasantly surprised to see that "Friday Night Lights" is getting some much deserved love and recognition. I'm crossing my fingers that my favorites make the top 5 and earn a spot on the final ballot. According to the Television Academy website, "Step two in the process will be the Blue Ribbon Panel screenings, which will be conducted throughout this weekend of June 28-29. The results of those panels, who will watch and judge the work of each finalist, represent 50 percent of the vote. Both results will be averaged together to come up with our five nominees in each category."

The complete list of nominees will be announced on Thursday, July 17.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Movie Night (The Spiderwick Chronicles and The Bucket List)

"The Spiderwick Chronicles" stars Freddie Highmore in a dual role as twins, Jared and Simon Grace. In the movie, the Grace family, including the mom (played by Mary-Louise Parker), Jared, his twin Simon and his sister Mallory move into a creepy and deserted old house that mom inherited from an old aunt who'd been institutionalized. The house used to belong to Arthur Spiderwick, their great great uncle, who mysteriously disappeared over 80 years ago. Spiderwick's daughter, old aunt Lucinda whom they inherited the house from, said that faeries carried her father away to protect him which explains why she was institutionalized. During the move, Jared is mean and resentful to his mother whom he blames for his parents divorce, so when personal items belonging to the others start to go missing, Jared of course is the one blamed. Upon investigation, Jared finds a hidden room where he ends up finding his uncle's book, 'Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You' along with a warning note not to read the book, which he of course ignores. In the guide, Arthur Spiderwick details a magical world full of fairies and hobglobins that lives all around us and how he was able to see them and communicate with them. Jared also learns that there's an ogre, Mulgarath, who is king of the goblins, that wants to use the field guide to destroy all the fairies and rule the world. Having read the field guide, Jared with the help of his sibling, must now protect the book and its secrets from falling into Mulgarath hands.

Supposedly the movie is based on a series of best-selling books. The movie was cute and entertaining. My only warning would be that while the movie is rated PG, there were a couple scenes which I think might prove a little too scary for really young kids.

* * *

"The Bucket List" stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman as two very different men facing the same grim and uncertain future. Edward Cole (Nicholson) is a billionaire, Carter Chamber (Freeman) is a mechanic. Edward is all alone, except for his assistant Thomas (Sean Hayes), Carter has a loving wife and children. They're each leading very different lives, when they find themselves sharing a hospital room during their battle with cancer. They are there for each other through surgery, chemotherapy, and finally the grim prognosis--they each have only months to live-- and through this they develop a wonderful friendship. Edward convinces Carter to use this opportunity to make good on his 'bucket list', a list of things to do before you kick the bucket, and tells him that money is no object. Edwards also decides to amend Carter's too dull list which included seeing something majestic and doing something good for a stranger, to include skydiving and getting a tattoo. Edward and Carter, despite protests from his wife, embark on a trek around the globe filled with a myriad of adventures, including skydiving, climbing the pyramids in Egypt, seeing the Taj Mahal and even riding a motorcycle along the Great Wall of China amongst other things. Through their time together each touches the other's life in different ways, and they both help each other face the scary and unknown future with faith and love.

Both Nicholson and Freeman give great performances in this movie. The movie has some tear-jerker moments which is expected given the subject manner, but it doesn't dwell in sadness or grief throughout the whole movie. In addition to being very entertaining it also gives you plenty food for thought on your own life and death through some insightful moments. In the movie, Freeman's character, Carter, tells the story that the ancient Egyptians had a belief about death that when their souls got to the entrance to heaven the gods asked them two questions, and their answers determined whether they were admitted or not. The two questions were, Have you found joy in your life? and Has your life brought joy to others? Interesting huh. Do you know what your answers would be? Deep thoughts from a thoroughly enjoyable and touching movie.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Let's Play Ball

I'm back from the Mets game. I had a wonderful time in spite of getting drenched in a downpour and the Mets losing. As promised, here are some photos from the game.

Jose Reyes, Mets shortstop, warming up before the start of the game

Johan Santana, Mets pitcher coming in before the start of the game

Johan Santana pitching with David Wright in the background

Derek Jeter at bat (Alex Rodriguez and Yankee Manager Joe Girardi watching from the dugout)

Andy Petite pitching for the Yankees

Johan doing his thing for the Mets

Mets pow-wow on the pitching mound

Carlos Delgado, Mets 1st baseman, looking slightly dejected - kinda how I felt with the final score

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Dynamic Duo - Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino

I forgot to mention that when I went to see "The Incredible Hulk" I saw a great trailer for what looks like a great movie, "Righteous Kill" which is scheduled for release in September 2008 and features these two giants of American cinema. DeNiro and Pacino play New York City detectives on the hunt for a serial killer that targets criminals. There's a great line cooly uttered by DeNiro at the end of the trailer, "most people respect the badge, everybody respects the gun" which gives you chills. I loved these two in "Heat", and I can't wait to see them together again. Here's the trailer:

"Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets

Step right up and greet the Mets!
Bring your kiddies,
bring your wife;
Guaranteed to have the time of your life
because the Mets are really sockin' the ball;
knocking those home runs over the wall!"

Yes kiddies, I'm headed to Shea Stadium tomorrow to see my Mets battle the dreaded Yankees for hometown bragging rights, and I'm hoping they'll be hittin' "those home runs over the wall" ala game 1 of yesterday's double-header. By the way, keep your fingers crossed for me that the weather holds out and the game isn't rained out. My cousin's hubby has great seats for the game, and I'm hopeful I can bring back decent photos to share.

A Reality Show with Heart

I watched the first episode of the six-part ABC documentary “Hopkins” last night and it was riveting television from start to finish with real-life life and death situations. The show centers on the doctors and patients at John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Among other stories, the first episode included coverage of one the country’s most respected neurosurgeons, Dr. Alfredo QuiƱones-Hinojosa, performing surgery to remove a brain tumor from a 50+ year old man. As part of the show, the patients covered in the story are interviewed and it was heart-breaking to watch this tough looking guy struggling to make it through the interview without breaking down in tears, ending the interview with the simple words that he doesn’t want to die. There were a couple slightly gruesome shots of a human brain during surgery that made me a little squeamish, but I just looked away because the show was just too good not to watch. It also covered the more personal stories of the doctors on staff, including the heartbreak and desolation of a resident facing divorce due in part to the lack of time he can dedicate to his wife and children.

I found the show compelling and I’m definitely going to tune in for the coming episodes in spite of the fact I had knots in my stomach watching last night. It wasn’t so much the blood or brains in this case, it was knowing that whatever the outcome—good or bad—especially if bad, it’s all real and these aren’t actors playing make believe. It’s someone’s life we’re watching play out on TV. Compelling television to say the least.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

For All Cat Owners

(Originally published in MS Magazine, Vol III, #1, July/August 1992)

Introducing Clippy

I wish I could say Clippy was my brainchild, but alas I'm not that creative. Some months ago, while visiting NBC's "The Office" webpage, I spotted 'Cliptron' a brilliant fan's photo submission under the 'Your Office' section. I printed out the photo and brought it into work with plans to create a Cliptron of my own to display in my cube. Long story short, I didn't put him together but my friend and cube neighbor who saw the picture did, and I've been enviously eyeing Cliptron ever since. Well, I decided to do something about my predicament and after month's of longing, today I created a Cliptron of my own. I've decided to nickname him Clippy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lucky Duckies

A friend sent me a link to this article and I just had to share because it was such a sweet story. An article in the Vancouver Sun told of how a mama duck tugged on a police officer’s pant leg in order to get his attention and save her babies. According to the story, Ray Petersen, a police officer, was walking his beat when a duck came up to him, started pulling on his pant leg and waddling around him and quacking. When Petersen shooed the duck away, he noticed that the duck went and sat on a nearby sewer grate. When he began to walk away the duck came back and repeated the process all over again. Curious, Petersen walked over to the grate and saw that there were eight ducklings in the water below that had obviously fallen through the grate. Of course, Petersen called in the cavalry and when Police Sergeant Kellens showed up to help the mama duck sat on the curb the whole time watching and supervising the rescue proceedings. Once all the ducklings had been fished out and were safe, the mama duck marched the entire family down to a nearby creek, where they jumped into the water.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wipeout Takes Round One

I was all gung-ho for "Celebrity Family Feud" but as usual I did some channel surfing during the commercical break and caught a piece of "Wipeout" a new reality competition on ABC that also airs at 8:00 pm. Of course, I was hooked, and ended up switching back forth between the two shows with "Wipeout" getting the lion's share of my time. After watching both, I must say that "Wipeout" easily edged out the Feud in the first head to head. For those of you that missed it, "Wipeout" is a Japanese-derived type of reality competition in which 24 contestants have to run an obstacle course filled with knock outs, face plants, swan dives into mud, and of course complete wipeouts. The show counts on our natural human instinct to enjoy a chuckle when someone trips, falls, or just downright makes a fool of themselves and I must guiltily admit it thoroughly delivered on laughs because I was laughing out loud. Catch it next Monday, you won't be disappointed.

Celebrity Family Feud

I was an old fan of the original “Family Feud” hosted by Richard Dawson back in the 70’s and 80’s so I’ll be tuning in to tonight’s NBC premiere of “Celebrity Family Feud.” Like the original, two families--in this case a celebrity and their real-life family--will compete by guessing the most popular responses to survey questions posed to 100 people. Unlike the original in this celebrity edition the prize money goes to charity.

Tonight’s first two competitors will be Team Rivers (Joan and Melissa Rivers and friends) vs. Team Ice-T (Ice-T and his family). Other match-ups include Bill Engvall's family vs. Larry the Cable Guy's family and Kim Kardashian's family vs. Deion Sanders' family. The show will also have TV casts go head to head, including stars from “The Office”, “My Name is Earl” and “American Gladiators.” My one request to NBC...please, please, please let Dwight/Rainn Wilson be there when “The Office” competes.

"Are you ready for the summer?

Are you ready for the sunshine?
Are you ready for the birds and bees,
the apple trees,
and a whole lot of fooling around

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the hot nights?
Are you ready for the fireflies,
the moonlit skies,
and a whole lot of fooling around

No more pencils, no more books
No more teachers dirty looks
No more math and history,
Summer time has set us free

Are you ready for the summer?
Are you ready for the good times?..."

The song lyrics are of course from the Bill Murray classic "Meatballs”, a summertime must-see in my house. If you haven’t seen it yet...well what are you waiting for? In addition to revisiting Camp North Star (all the gruel you can eat) and the Meatballs gang--Tripper, Rudy, Spaz, and poor Morty--among the many unforgettable cast of characters for this oldie but goodie, I also have a couple fun summer activities (a Mets/Yankee game, a Broadway show, a Jets/Giants pre-season game, and a mini-road trip) in the horizon. While they're not a trek around the globe, a Caribbean island getaway or a trip to Europe (I wish) I’m excited nonetheless. I hope each of you is blessed with a happy, healthy, safe and fun summer. Make the most of it and enjoy!

On this Day (in 1987)

On June 24, 1987 "The Honeymooners" star Jackie Gleason died. Born February 26, 1916 in Brooklyn and later christened "The Great One" by Orson Wells, Gleason was a talented actor and comedian who most memorably played bus driver Ralph Kramden, the lovable loudmouth always looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. The schemes included competing on 'The $99,000 Answer'; winning the Racoon lodge's best costume prize for his man from space costume; becoming songwriters with Norton; and my absolute favorite Ralph's big plans for Ralph Kramden Inc. when he finds he's beneficiary of a millionaire's will only to find at the will's reading that 'Fortune' was the old lady's pet bird.

In addition to his TV credits, Gleason also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Minnesota Fats in the 1961 movie "The Hustler" and who could forget his hilarious portrayal of Sheriff Bufford T. Justice in the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies. No matter how many roles, he'll always be Ralph Kramden to me.

Check out this clip featuring a classic scene between Jackie and Art Carney from "The Honeymooners" 'The Golfer' episode.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My Recent YouTube Find...Conchita Diaries

If you love animals, you have to check out the Zoological Society of London's (ZSL) video diary of Conchita, the white naped mangabey, currently residing at the London Zoo. The ZSL video states that "in the wild they (white naped mangabey) are regarded as critically endangered, and in the last 30 years there's been a decline in their numbers with the main reason being habitat loss and hunting of the species." ZSL's video diary documents Conchita's progress. Here's a clip introducing this adorable little one. The shot of her sucking her thumb and the last shot of her sleeping snuggled up with her teddy are surefire "Awww" moments. Check out Conchita Diaries: Episodes 1 and 2, and also one entitled "Conchita - a cute clip" (absolutely adorable!) at YouTube.

Temporary Host Named for Meet the Press

The New York Daily News reported that NBC has named Tom Brokaw as the temporary host/moderator of "Meet the Press" until the November elections when a new and permanent moderator is selected. All I can say is, thank you NBC, for not selecting loudmouth Chris Matthews from MSNBC's "Hardball" to fill the role, because you would've lost a regular viewer if you had. If I could add my two cents, Brian Williams did a decent job sitting in this past week. He came across as fair and unbiased and I think he would be a good candidate for the permanent position. Though I must say, that the show just wasn't the same without Russert.

SYTYCD - Right Girl / Wrong Guy Go Home

Last week's "So You Think You Can Dance" had some great dance numbers, and plenty of obnoxious behavior from Nigel. My favorites, Joshua and Katee, stepped it up yet again with a high-energy and fun Broadway number, and New Yorker Courtney and her partner Gev danced a beautiful and romantic contemporary routine which gave them a much needed boost and a good dose of newfound chemistry. Watching all the performances on Wednesday night, it was pretty obvious who the bottom three couples would be (Chelsea and Thayne, Comfort and Chris, and Susie and Marquis), which is exactly what came to pass on Thursday night. As I correctly predicted in my last post, Susie aka the teacher from Miami, made it into the bottom three with her unfortunate partner Marquis, and after a lackluster solo was sent home. Unlike the obvious girl castoff, in my opinion the judges totally blew it when it came to the guys by sending Marquis--Susie's partner--home. Marquis performed an incredible solo which totally earned him the right to stay for another week, but instead the judges deemed the performance full of "tricks" and decided to keep Chris, who is a much weaker performer. If the judges aren't going to even consider the dancers "dance for their life solos" when deciding who to send home, then why bother. It's all a charade, and in the end they get rid of whoever they want to get rid of whether deserving or not. In spite of my disappointment, I'll definitely be tuning in this Wednesday for the next new episode.

America's Got Talent

Not sure if you guys caught last week's premiere of "America's Got Talent," but I really enjoyed it. As in seasons past, the audition round brought a fair share of the totally clueless and talentless (like the guy with the longest tongue or the Tom Jones impersonator), but it also unearthed plenty of stars-to-be that showcased their talent and wowed the judges while winning over America's heart (ala Neal E. Boyd, an insurance salesman and aspiring opera singer, singing for his mother--a single mom who struggled to raise him and his brother). My favorite performance of the night though was by 4-year old Kaitlyn Maher, singing ''Somewhere Out There." It was syrupy sweet, but how could you not cheer for this gorgeous little doll. The best part was when judge Sharon Osbourne asked Kaitlyn if she was from New York, Kaitlyn answered "I'm from America." Awww. Here's a clip of Kaitlyn:

Another wow moment for a totally different reason was Derrick Barry's impersonation of Britney Spears. This guy deserved to make it through to Vegas if for no other reason than the fact that it's incredible this a guy.

Dead Air

Sorry for the long posting absence. Mom had a bit of a health scare so I've been really busy playing nurse. Thank God she's much better, things are slowly getting back to normal, and I'm falling back into my regular TV viewing and net surfing schedule.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Message for all Dads...

The Incredible Hulk

I loved it!!It had all the pre-requisites for a great superhero action movie--exciting chase scenes, action-packed fight sequences, great special effects, and of course the obligatory love interest. It also had something you don't always get in these types of movies...great acting. Even the CGI Hulk wasn't too bad. He kind of grew on me. I really enjoyed everything about this movie, including the cameos by Stan Lee, Lou Ferrigno (the Hulk from the old TV series), and non-other than Iron Man himself, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.). Oooh, and the teaser ending leaves you salivating for what might come next.

SYTYCD Top 20 Performances

This past Wednesday the top 20 performed on "So You Think You Can Dance." After finally getting a chance to see all the dancers perform, I have new favorites, I have doubts about old favorites, and I'm left scratching my head on how some dancers (one in particular) made it through to the top 20. First to my new favorite...Joshua Allen. Joshua was paired with Katee, she's the dancer that almost talked herself out of a spot in the top 20. Katee wasn't a very sympathetic figure, a fact I thought would hurt Joshua by mere association, but thankfully their routine was so strong that they completely wiped the slate clean. They danced a moving hip-hop number choreographed by Napoleon and Tabitha which was supposed to be about a soldier going off to war. While Joshua and Katee wowed me, previous favorites Kourtni (paired with Matt) and Courtney (paired with Gev) were a bit of a letdown. In both cases there appeared to be no chemistry or spark between the girls and their respective partners--especially Kourtni and Matt--and it shows. Now to the dancer that in my estimation doesn't belong, and that is Susie, the high school teacher from Miami. Despite a blah waltz, that included a flubbed lift, Susie and her partner Marquis, infuriatingly got mostly complimentary reviews from the judges. It's beyond me what they see in her, other than a pretty face and a great body, but I have no doubt that when she makes the bottom three her solo will make her lack of technique and skill glaringly obvious and they won't have a choice but to send her home.

On Thursday's first elimination night the bottom three couples were Kourtni and Matt, William (Debbie Allen's protege) and Jessica, and not surprisingly Rayven and Jamie. After each dancer performed their dance for their life solo, with a standout performance by William, the judges chose Rayven and Jamie as the girl and boy going home. This poor couple had everything stacked against them from the get go--each had barely been on TV in previous rounds, they had the first slot of the night, and then to boot part of their dance number included Rayven pulling down Jamie's pants, a fact which on elimination night Nigel said might have offended some viewers. He tells them this as if they had a choice in the matter, they were merely dancing what was choreographed for them.

Anyway, I'm hoping Joshua and Katee can keep up the great work, and that Courtney can ignite some heat and a little magic between her and Gev.

AFI's 10 Top 10 (You Gotta Be In It to Win It)

The American Film Institute (AFI) will be counting down the 10 best films in 10 classic movie genres during a special show airing on CBS on Tuesday, June 17th at 8:00 pm ET. The 10 movie genres are Animation, Courtroom Drama, Epic, Fantasy, Gangster, Mystery, Romantic Comedy, Sci-Fi, Sports and Western.

Along with the TV special, AFI is holding a "Guess the 10 Top 10 Sweepstakes" where you can enter to win $1000 in Best Buy gift cards by correctly selecting the #1 movie in each of the 10 movie genres. Make your selections and then tune in on Tuesday to see if you guessed all 10 #1 movies. Entry deadline is June 16, 2008.

Coming to a Video Store Near You (Summer Update)

Here's a list of upcoming DVD releases for the months of June and July. Dates for August releases weren't confirmed, so I'll update this post when they become available. Each listing includes a useful link to the movie's Yahoo page, where you can read the movie synopsis, read user and critic reviews and watch trailers & clips. Happy viewing!

Under the Same Moon, PG-13 (Kate Del Castillo)
Be Kind Rewind, PG-13 (Jack Black)
Fool's Gold, PG-13 (Matthew McConaughey)
Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, PG-13 (Martin Lawrence)

10,000 BC, PG-13 (Steven Strait)
Persepolis, PG-13 (Animation)
The Spiderwick Chronicles, PG (Freddy Highmore)

Vantage Point, PG-13 (Dennis Quaid)
Drillbit Taylor, PG-13 (Owen Wilson)
War, Inc., R (John Cusack)
City of Men, R (Douglas Silva)

Sleepwalking, R (Charlize Theron)

Penelope, PG (Christina Ricci)
Shutter, PG-13 (Joshua Jackson)

21, PG-13 (Kevin Spacey)

Never Back Down, PG-13 (Sean Faris)

A Shocking and Sad Loss for Journalism

I was at work yesterday, when I received a CNN alert email announcing that Tim Russert, the host of Meet the Press passed away at the age of 58. I was shocked and saddened by the too early demise of this great journalist. I watched Meet the Press almost every Sunday. It was appointment television for me, and Tim Russert made it so, no easy feat for a political news show. Though I was sometimes annoyed by his interviewing tactics, his gotcha moments when he'd pull out a long-lost quote which contradicted the guest's current statements, I was always impressed by how prepared and knowledgeable he was. Tim is due our thanks for having informed us about the things that matter--our government, our economy, our educational system, issues of war and peace and so much more. While his loss will definitely be felt by the show's fans, I can't imagine the immesurable sense of loss felt today by his family and friends. My prayers go out to his family and friends, that God may bring them peace and comfort. May Tim rest in peace.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oh no! Say It Ain't So...Movie Snack No-nos

Yahoo! Health has provided yet another list of food no-nos, this time focused on the 6 worst things to eat at the movies. The numbers are eye-opening and worth keeping in mind before you take the theater up on the offer to bump up to a large for a quarter more. You'll be paying for it in more ways than one. Here are the scary numbers:

Large Popcorn
1,283 calories
78 g fat (49 g saturated)
1,850 mg sodium

Large Nachos with Cheese (40 chips, 4 oz.)
1,101 calories
59 g fat (18.5 g saturated)
1,580 mg sodium

Scary Tidbit #1: "This movie-time snack has more calories than two large orders of McDonald’s French fries. In fact, you’d still be saving fat and calories if you smuggled in two Quarter Pounders with Cheese instead!"

Snickers Popables (5 oz., 46 pieces)
692 calories
33 g fat (14.6 g saturated)
73 g sugars

Scary Tidbit #2: "The combined fat-load of these little popables is equal to two-and-a-half full-sized Snickers bars."

Whoppers (5 oz. box)
676 calories
24 g fat (20.3 g saturated)
88 g sugars

44 oz. Cherry Coke
572 calories
0 g fat
154 g sugars

Large Soft Pretzel with 3 oz. Nacho Cheese
643 calories
14.5 g fat (3 g saturated, 4 g trans)
3,068 mg sodium

All things in moderation seems to be the main message here. So this weekend when I'm watching "The Incredible Hulk" I'll be enjoying a small popcorn without butter, a diet soda--if I'm really good, maybe it'll be a bottled water instead--and something with chocolate--dark chocolate preferably. My standard practice is to bring the candy with me, this way I can buy the regular size bar as opposed to the King size candy bars or boxes they sell at the movies. I know myself well enough to know that if I buy the large bar, I'll eat the large bar.

Happy eating!

Heigl's Comment: Insult or Much Ado About Nothing?

TV Guide reported that last year's Emmy winner Katherine Heigl from ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" told the L.A. Times' Gold Derby site that she's removed her name from this year's Emmy contention. Why? Heigl said "I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination, and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention. I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials."

The way I read it, the statement was slightly presumptuous and more than a little insulting to the show's writers. I guess they felt the same way because reports that a Grey's insider stated that "It's an ungrateful slap in the face to the very writers responsible for her Emmy win in the first place."

Misspeak or insult? Big deal or media-created hoopla? I guess it will depend on what happens next. Will Heigl clarify her comments? How will Grey's producers react to those comments? We'll have to wait and see.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sundays at Tiffany's

I read this charming story in a couple of days and enjoyed it for what it is. It's a fluffy and sweet romantic fantasy which is a fun summer read, with one caveat which will determine your enjoyment, your willingness to suspend your disbelief. Let me explain.

The book centers around Jane Margaux, the daughter of successful Broadway producer, Vivienne Margaux. At the story's onset, Jane is a sad and lonely 8 year old about to turn 9 whose only source of love and companionship come from her imaginary best friend, Michael, a gorgeous, funny and caring man that only she can see. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, on Jane's 9th birthday Michael informs her that the rules for imaginary friends dictate that he must leave her and go to another case, to help another child who needs him. Jane is heartbroken and though Michael tells her that she'll forget him since that is the natural course for all imaginary friends, Jane assures him that she'll never forget him. And she never does. Years later, Jane is a successful playwright on the cusp of bringing her hit play "Thank Heaven" to the movies, she's dating an actor from her play, and working for her mother, but she's still lonely and full of doubts and uncertainties. Then one day after a huge fight with her boyfriend, she's back sitting alone at the St. Regis, a favorite spot of Michael and hers, eating her favorite dessert when she looks across the room and has to blink twice to clear her eyes, because sitting there is none other than...Michael.

The book's jacket states "What if your imaginary friend from childhood was your one true love?", and the story is an answer to that question. This is not one of Patterson's typical suspense novels, it's more in the vein of "Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas" though "Sundays at Tiffany's" doesn't quite measure up to that standard. I'll reiterate that your enjoyment of this book will totally depend on your willingness to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the story as a sweet romantic fable. If you can do that, than you might enjoy this light and quick read.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Eagerly Anticipating the New & Improved Bruce Banner

Like the majority of the movie-going public, this weekend I'll be buying my movie ticket to see "The Incredible Hulk," mainly for the opportunity to see Ed Norton. Ed Norton is one of the best actors of his generation, so I'm interested to see what he does with the role of tormented scientist Bruce Banner. Part of what made the TV series great was the wonderful performance by Bill Bixby as the solitary figure of Dr. David Banner, traveling from town to town searching for a cure, and helping the people he met along the way. Bixby always managed to convey an aura of sadness and solitude to the character, which made you buy into the story and care for both Banner and his alter ego, the Hulk. Given his incredible talent and layered performances in such diverse films as "American History X," "Fight Club", and "The Painted Veil" to name a few, I'm sure Ed Norton has the acting chops to bring some depth and substance to the role and make the movie more than your typical blow'em up, shoot'em up superhero action movie.

As for the special effects, I have no doubt that given today's technology they'll be phenomenal, my only complaint (which might change once I've seen the movie) is that I would've preferred if the Hulk wasn't a digitally created creature but if instead it was portrayed by an actor, a very large actor - maybe one of those American Gladiator guys, like they did in the TV series with Lou Ferrigno playing the Hulk. I don't know, maybe that's too hokey for 2008. Anyway, I'll definitely be there for this one, and after I'll let you know what I thought.

Monday, June 9, 2008

96°F Today But It Felt Like...

This is Why I'm Hot
(from CollegeHumor)

Random TV Tidbits

Below are some random TV tidbits which I've recently spotted online and thought I'd share.

-- According to "American Idol" winner David Cook will be performing the National Anthem at Game 3 of the NBA Finals scheduled for tomorrow Tuesday, June 10th.

-- My current Sunday favorite, "Million Dollar Password", will have a special Thursday episode (June 12th) featuring celebrity contestant Betty White. Betty was a regular celebrity contestant on the original "Password", as well as being the widow of host Allen Ludden.

-- TV Guide reported that "Heroes" will have a three-hour season premiere on September 22nd, which includes a one-hour refresher episode followed by the two-hour Season 3: Villains premiere.

-- In "24" news, TV Guide reported that the show will precede its season premiere in January with a two-hour movie prequel which will air on November 23rd.

-- "Fringe" is one of my must-see new Fall shows. Variety reports that two of the new FOX dramas "Fringe" and "Dollhouse" will air with limited commercial breaks. According to Variety "That means just five minutes of national commercial time during the hour."

-- For all "My Name is Earl" fans, Watch with Kristin at E!Online reports that Jenna Elfman will have a guest appearance in the first episode of the new season. The season premieres on Thursday, September 25th.

-- In regards to the yet untitled Office-spinoff, "The Office" fans can breathe a sigh of relief according to Watch with Kristin at E!Online who reports that Steve Carell stated "As far as I know, nobody is leaving ship. At least at this point, from what I’ve heard, I don’t think it’s based on any of the characters from the existing show. It’s an entirely new setup with new characters."

-- Fans of TV's cutest nerd "Chuck" can look forward to a great Season 2 according to its star, Zachary Levi, who informed TV Guide that "It's twice the action, twice the drama and twice the romance," Levi teases. "It's Chuck squared." Look for the "Chuck" Season 2 premiere on Monday, September 29th.

On this Day (in 1934)

On June 9, 1934 Donald Duck debuts on film in the Disney short "The Wise Little Hen."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Eye

"The Eye" tells the story of Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba), a concert violinist who's been blind since the age of 5 due to a firecracker-related accident involving her still guilt-ridden sister Helen (Parker Posey), and who is about to undergo corneal transplant surgery. After the surgery, Sydney is referred to Dr. Paul Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola), a specialist who's job it is to help her transition to the world of the seeing. As Sydney begins to recuperate, she starts seeing shadowy figures, frightening images of fires, and other unexplainable and scary visions which cause her to fear for her sanity and wonder if she's imagining these things, if they are somehow caused by her brain's adjustment to sight, or worse, if they are real. Of course, she shares what's happening with the skeptical Dr. Faulkner, who isn't sure what to believe. After a startling discovery, Sydney becomes convinced that the visions are caused by "cellular memory," a theory that all living tissues can remember and hence transfer energy and information from the donor to the recipient, and she decides to search for the truth about her donor in hopes of finding an answer to what's happening to her.

If you're not a big fan of horror movies (which I'm not--I'm a bit of a chicken) then this is the movie for you, because the scares were minimal. It had a couple scenes were I jumped in my seat, but I think I was more startled than frightened. Jessica Alba was beautiful as always and she did a fair job at the "oh woe is me" damsel in distress bit. Not a ton of chemistry between her and Nivola, but then again it was a horror movie not a romance. I wouldn't rush out to rent this movie, but keep it on your list or to borrow a Netflix term "queue" for when what you really want to see isn't in.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Fair Lady Remake..."Wouldn't it be loverly?" reports that Keira Knightley is in talks to reprise the role of Eliza Doolittle in a remake of "My Fair Lady." also reported that "The project is being described as an update, though it will use the musical's original score and retain its 1912 setting." I like Keira Knightley and feel she does well in period pieces such as her role in "Pride and Prejudice", but 1) I'm uncertain as to how she'd do in this particular movie/musical, 2) I'm not sure they should mess with this classic, and 3) I'm disappointed with Hollywood's apparent inability to come up with a new idea. Most of the movies you see in the theater now are either remakes or sequels...War of the Worlds, Spiderman, Indiana Jones, Rambo, Rocky, heck even Beverly Hills Cop is coming back for a fourth movie.

As for this remake, I think the success will depend in large part on the casting of both leads, Eliza Doolittle and Professor Henry Higgins, given that one of the best parts of the classic with Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison was the witty dialogue and banter between the two main characters.

In all honesty though, I can't help but think that the remake and in turn Keira Knightley will pale in comparison to the 1964 classic and the brilliant and beautiful Audrey Hepburn. She truly was "loverly". Enjoy this clip!

Triple Crown Denied

I watched the Belmont Stakes this afternoon, and along with the rest of America watched Big Brown fail to win the race and actually come in last after being denied the Triple Crown win by 38-1 long-shot Da'Tara. As ABC reported during the race, the last Triple Crown winner was Affirmed in 1978. It's been 30 long years since a horse has been able to achieve this ultimate test of greatness, so I was curious about the last big winner. In an article on I found that Affirmed had battled Alydar during most of the Belmont Stakes to win the race by a head at the very end. Affirmed and Alydar had built up quite a rivalry, as Alydar had come in second to Affirmed in each of the two preceding races--Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes--with Affirmed beating out Alydar, each time by a smaller margin. A couple other tidbits: Affirmed's jockey, Steve Cauthen, was only 18 when he rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown win, and Affirmed's win in 1978 right on the heels of Seattle Slew's win of the Triple Crown in 1977, marked the first and only time that there were back-to-back Triple Crown winners.

Here's a clip I found of the final Affirmed vs. Alydar battle at the 1978 Belmont Stakes which won Affirmed the Triple Crown.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Boob Tube Update

On Monday "The Mole" premiered, and I don't know what the ratings were like, but I know at least one person was watching--me. First impressions, I'd say the show has plenty of big personalities (and egos) which should make for some good TV, interesting challenges, and an early abundance of suspicious activity. In the first challenge, using a harness for their safety, contestants had to jump from a raft which was going over a waterfall and grab a bag of money hanging overhead which might hold real or fake money. Nobody stood out as particularly suspicious during this challenge, which could mean that the Mole decided to keep a low profile during the first challenge, or he/she did a really great job as saboteur. In the second challenge, the players headed to the beach where Jon Kelley--the host--told them the story of Robinson Crusoe and explained that scattered throughout the beach were items which Robinson Crusoe could've had with him when he was left stranded on an island. The contestants were broken up into three teams: timekeepers which had to constantly add sand to the top of a huge hourglass to give their teammates more time to search, appraisers which had to review the items picked by the others and determine whether they would have been around in Robinson Crusoe's time, and scavengers which had to search the beach for items from that time period, and not waste time on current day items such as a vacuum or hairdryer, which some brought back anyway. During this challenge, Bobby's extreme exhaustion as he trudged through the beach was either very pathetic or very suspect. To my way of thinking, either this guy at 25 is in worst shape than Andy Rooney, he's the Mole, or he's trying to make people think he's the Mole. The other two with questionable performances were Paul and Mark. Paul's slowness in shoveling sand for the hourglass could've been his attempt at sabotaging the mission, and Mark's poor job as appraiser seemed a little sketchy given the fact that he's a history teacher. At the end of the night, Marcie was sent home.

"So You Think You Can Dance" (SYTYCD) finished their audition rounds and the judges, including guest judge Debbie Allen, picked their top 20 dancers (10 boys, 10 girls). I'm sad to say that neither of my favorite boys from the audition round made it in. I loved Robert Muraine, a popper from L.A. and Evan Kasprzak, a Fosse-esque dancer which auditioned in Milwaukee. As of right now, New Yorker Courtney Galiano is my early favorite, but that might change. Next week the real competition begins, as the top 20 dance for America's votes.

As a follow-up to a couple of my previous posts, "Britain's Got Talent 2008" ended without any of my favorites winning, though Andrew Johnson was close, making it into the final three. The winner this year was George Sampson, a 14-year old dancer with a compelling personal story. Congratulations to George.

Mark your calendars for the coming week: Saturday is the Belmont Stakes, so tune in to see if Big Brown makes history and wins the third race for the Triple Crown. Monday there's a new episode of "The Mole," and from the preview it seems like personalities are clashing already. Wednesday the top 20 dancers perform on SYTYCD. Thursday look for a special episode of "Million Dollar Password" featuring Betty White.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Words of Wisdom (Commencement Speeches)

It's that time of year...graduation season. When students all across the country get ready to put that six-figure four-year college education to good use and step out into the real world, and what better way to start off on the right foot then by absorbing some of the wisdom shared by a commencement speaker and letting it enlighten your path in life. With that thought in mind, I decided to search for some of the insightful words which have been shared on our college campuses in the recent past, and while the speeches are too long to share in their entirety, I've quoted my favorite parts. I've also provided a link to each speech, so that if you'd like you can read them in their entirety.

From Steve Jobs' 2005 commencement address at Stanford University:
"You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

This is from the best commencement speech never given. Writer Anna Quindlen declined the invitation to speak at Villanova after a small group of students planned to protest her appearance. The speech became a hit on the internet after she emailed the speech to a Villanova graduate who had expressed her disappointment not to have heard it.

"Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first. Don't ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for reelection because he'd been diagnosed with cancer: 'No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office.'

Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: 'If you win the rat race, you're still a rat.' Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in the driveway of the Dakota: 'Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.' "

Bono shared these words at his 2004 address at the University of Pennsylvania:

"You know, I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out. But it's not. The future is not fixed; it's fluid. You can build your own building, or hut or condo, whatever; this is the metaphor part of the speech by the way. But my point is that the world is more malleable than you think and it's waiting for you to hammer it into shape. Now if I were a folksinger I'd immediately launch into "If I Had a Hammer" right now, get you all singing and swaying. But as I say I come from punk rock, so I'd rather have the bloody hammer right here in my fist. That's what this degree of yours is, a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it. Remember what John Adams said about Ben Franklin, "He does not hesitate at our boldest Measures but rather seems to think us too irresolute." Well this is the time for bold measures and this is the country and you are the generation."

This is the one I love best. It's Fred Rogers' 2002 commencement address at Dartmouth College. It is both beautiful in its simplicity and moving in its message.

"Our world hangs like a magnificent jewel in the vastness of space. Every one of us is a part of that jewel. A facet of that jewel. And in the perspective of infinity, our differences are infinitesimal. We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not. Have you heard my favorite story that came from the Seattle Special Olympics? Well, for the 100-yard dash there were nine contestants, all of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and at the sound of the gun, they took off. But not long afterward one little boy stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard him crying; they slowed down, turned around and ran back to him. Every one of them ran back to him. One little girl with Down Syndrome bent down and kissed the boy and said, "This'll make it better." And the little boy got up and he the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line. They all finished the race at the same time. And when they did, everyone in that stadium stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long, time. People who were there are still telling the story with great delight. And you know why. Because deep down, we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win too. Even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then."

I'll end with this very insightful gem from the brilliant Stephen Colbert's 2006 commencement speech at Knox College.

"There are so many challenges facing this next generation, and as they said earlier, you are up for these challenges. And I agree, except that I don't think you are. I don't know if you're tough enough to handle this. You are the most cuddled generation in history. I belong to the last generation that did not have to be in a car seat. You had to be in car seats. I did not have to wear a helmet when I rode my bike. You do. You have to wear helmets when you go swimming, right? In case you bump your head against the side of the pool...But you have one thing that may save you, and that is your youth. This is your great strength. It is also why I hate and fear you. Hear me out. It has been said that children are our future. But does that not also mean that we are their past? You are here to replace us. I don't understand why we're here helping and honoring them. You do not see union workers holding benefits for robots."

Survivor: Gabon--Earth's Last Eden

After completing a successful sixteenth season, the show that started it all, the granddaddy of all reality shows, "Survivor" will be back this September for Season 17. The upcoming season "Survivor: Gabon--Earth's Last Eden" sends the show back to the continent of Africa. According to, filming for this season will begin in late June, which means 18 lucky people have probably already been cast to participate in the show's next big adventure. Also, CNN reported that Jeff Probst told the Associated Press that the show has faced some unexpected preproduction difficulties, including delays in shipping of needed supplies and issues figuring out how to best deal with the dangers from encroaching wildlife.

While the success of Season 17 is still to be seen, the beauty of this season's locale is undeniable. Take a peek:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thuffering Thuccotash That's One Fat Squirrel

This isn't my typical type of post, but I had to share. No, this hasn't been photoshopped, sadly this photo is very real. This poor little guy appeared in my recent newsletter from Best Friend's Animal Society. Best Friends runs an animal sanctuary at Angel Canyon in Kanab, Utah which takes in all types of abandoned and abused animals--including cats, dogs, horses, bunnies, pigs, and yes, squirrels--and they also perform animal rescue missions related to natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. Best Friends is a wonderful organization which I'm very proud to support in whatever small way I can. Now back to my story of Mr. Squirrel.

Best Friends reported that this little guy was minding his own nuts, merrily enjoying the outdoors when he was taken from a park and brought to someone's home to be caged as a pet. As if that wasn't bad enough, his owners were feeding him people food including grilled cheese sandwiches, hence his new beach ball physique. Fortunately, Mr. Squirrel can thank his lucky stars that somehow the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service found out about his predicament, rescued him and brought him to Best Friends where he's on a "strict-but-delicious diet of veggies and protein meal." After he loses weight, Mr. Squirrel will be released into the wild where he belongs so he can frolic with all his furry friends.

Young@Heart Chorus at Beacon Theater

I'm so excited! Today I got tickets to see the Young@Heart Chorus perform at the Beacon Theater on June 22nd. As you guys might recall, back in April I offered up a review of "Young@Heart," a documentary movie centered around the Young@Heart Chorus from Northampton, MA. For those of you who haven't heard of the movie or the chorus, what makes this group special is that chorus members ages range from 72 to 88 and what makes them unique are their contemporary song choices which range from Talking Heads to Coldplay, but it's their spirit and joy for life which transcends the music. The day I saw the movie, I was so moved by what I had seen that I rushed home to check the chorus' website for potential tour dates in hopes that they'd be performing near me. Unfortunately, at that time they had no dates scheduled, but word of mouth on this compelling group must have spread because since then they've booked various events including this performance at the Beacon Theater. For those of you interested, here's a movie clip featuring a moving performance by chorus member Fred Knittle.

By the way, the syncopated beat heard in the music's background is the sound of Fred's oxygen machine.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Password" Has Yet Another Rebirth

Thanks to the snoozefest also known as the MTV Movie Awards, Sunday I missed the premiere episode of "Million Dollar Password", but I was able to watch the episode online and loved it. The show is a revamp of the original "Password" hosted by Allen Ludden. This time around the host is the ever affable 'Reeg' (Regis Philbin) who's become a staple of any good game show. As in the original show, contestants are paired up with a celebrity to try to win money, with the object of the game being to help your partner guess secret passwords from one-word clues that you've given. The players alternate betweeen giving and receiving one-word clues to guess passwords through four elimination rounds, ending with the contestant with the most passwords at the end of the fourth round moving on to the money round.

In the first episode, the two celebrities were Neil Patrick Harris (He was great--funny and smart! I wish he could be there every week) and Rachael Ray. Unlike the original, once in the money round contestants are playing against the clock (1 min 30 sec) for a shot at the grand prize of $1 Million. Once in the money round, the prize money builds like a ladder--sort of like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire"--the dollar levels are $10,000, $25,000 (this is a safety level that if you reach you can't go home with less than that), $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 and finally $1,000,000. If you don't get the five password in any level, you lose what you had accumulated and you're out of the game. As you climb the money ladder, the game gets harder--words get harder, the number of words you can get wrong decreases, any words you pass are gone for good and you are limited to three clues for each password. For $10,000 you have to get 5 out of 10 passwords, $25,000 it's 5 out of 9, and so on until you reach the $1,000,000 level when you have to get 5 out of 5.

If the first episode is any indication of what's to come, then I'm in. The show airs again next Sunday, June 8 at 8:00 pm ET, and the next two celebrities will be Rosie O'Donnell and Tony Hawk. For all the fans of the original "Password", the New York Post reported that Betty White, one of the regular players on the original and Ludden's widow, will be one of the celebrity players in the third episode of the show. Now that's must see TV!

"El Juego del Angel"

This weekend I finally finished "El Juego del Angel" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and I must say that I'm slightly disappointed. "El Juego del Angel" is the second book in the series based around the Cementerio de los Libro Olvidados (Cementery of Forgotten Books) that offers up an adventure which includes tragedy, romance, intrigue, betrayal and murder. At the story's onset we meet the tragic David Martin, an orphaned 17-year old working for the newspaper "La Voz de La Industria" who dreams of being a writer and following in the steps of his mentor and friend Pedro Vidal, a moderately successful writer and suave man about town. David is hopelessly in love with Cristina Sagnier, the daughter of Vidal's chauffeur. After leaving the paper, David begins writing a series of stories entitled "La Cuidad de los Malditos" (City of the Damned) published under the pseudonym of Ignatius B. Samson. It's around this time when he meets the mysterious Andreas Corelli, a publisher from France who makes him an intriguing offer which could change his life forever.

As I've previously mentioned, I became a Zafon fan after reading "La Sombra del Viento" (Shadow of the Wind), which I felt was a true masterpiece. From the moment I opened "El Juego del Angel" I wanted to fall in love with this book like I did "La Sombra del Viento", but unfortunately I only fell in like. The descriptions are a little too long in parts, the characters--with a few exceptions--are all glaringly dark and doomed, and the book is missing the humor and light which were so pivotal in "La Sombra del Viento." What redeems the book and makes it worth the read is the suspense and intrigue which fans have come to expect from Zafon's books and which he readily delivers. Even with it's flaws, "El Juego del Angel" is still a page-turner, full of mysteries you can't wait to see solved.

Monday, June 2, 2008

2008 MTV Movie Awards

The MTV Movie Awards were held last night and folks, if you didn't watch them, you didn't miss much, the show was a total snoozefest. The show kicked off with a lame dance-off between Mike Myers (the host) and Chris Brown. There were none of the wild antics you'd expect to see on MTV (like last year's Best Kiss winners Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen rolling around on the floor), or even some witty banter for the presenters. To let you know how bad things were...the funniest line of the night came as a shout out from an audience member. Not good when professional writers are one upped by audience members. Here's how it went down...the main stars of "Get Smart" Steve Carell ("The Office"), Anne Hathaway, and Dwayne Johnson ('The Rock') came out to present an award, and as an ongoing gag Steve began speaking too close to the microphone, to which Dwayne says "Steve, you are practically eating it," without a beat someone yelled from the audience "that's what she said." (Michael Scott's favorite punchline) As for edgy, that came thanks to Seth Rogen and James Franco who came out with a "fake" bag of pot, and proceeded to light up a "fake" joint. Before you could tell if they were actually smoking a joint, the camera pulled out to a wide shot which encompassed the whole stage and stayed that way until they finished their presentation and announced the winner. Maybe even MTV has to grow up sometime.

Overall, the two best moments of the night in my opinion, were seeing Mike Myers and Dana Carvey back together to reprise their roles as Wayne and Garth from "Wayne's World" and Adam Sandler singing "Nobody Does It Better" including his change of lyrics to "baby I'm the best" after being presented with the Generation Award by Tom Cruise.

Soul Patrol Revisited

Yup, I'm a proud member of the Soul Patrol, the slightly irrational group of fans who helped make Taylor Hicks the Season 5 winner on "American Idol", and who have supported him ever since. I loved him from the moment I saw him perform Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" at his Las Vegas audition. He was unashamedly quirky and he had a unique sound that had never graced the American Idol pop-machine's stage before. While he was my early favorite, I never expected him to actually win it all, but like the little engine that could, he surpassed everyone's expectations maybe even his own. At the end of the season, for the first time since I'd been watching Idol, going back to Season 1, I anted up my hard-earned cash and bought a ticket to the American Idol concert tour. A little less than a year after his Idol win, I bought a ticket to see him perform at The Borgata in Atlantic City for his own tour. Now, a year later I've bought a ticket to see Taylor perform on Broadway in "Grease." Taylor will be appearing as Teen Angel, the role performed by Frankie Avalon in the 1978 hit movie. I wish Taylor luck on Broadway, and hope he can put together a great second album that truly showcases his talent and plays to his strengths. Soul Patrol!

2008 Emmy Awards Wish List

My TV addiction is easily rivaled by my obsession for award shows, so even though the 60th Annual Emmy Awards don't air until September 21, 2008, nominations will be announced on July 17th so I've already compiled my wish list of potential nominees and those I hope will go on to win on award night.

Comedy Series
"30 Rock", "The Office", and a dark horse which I'd love to see nominated is "Chuck"..."The Office" came back in full force after the writer's strike, and they put on the screen some of the funniest episodes on TV. In my opinion there's no funnier show on the air right now.
Hope wins: "The Office" (Last year's winner: "30 Rock")

Comedy Lead Actor
Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock" and Steve Carell, "The Office"...I have a soft spot in my heart for Steve Carell's Michael Scott. Carell manages to make the character of Michael Scott so much more than the buffoon and politically incorrect boss, he infuses warmth and heart into the character and ultimately transforms him into the underdog that we all hope wins the day and gets the girl. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is the year Carell gets to take home the prize.
Hope wins: Steve Carell, "The Office" (Last year's winner: Ricky Gervais, "Extras)"

Comedy Lead Actress
Tina Fey, "30 Rock", she's pretty funny as Liz Lemon, plus she gets extra kudos from me for also writing for the show.
Hope wins: Tina Fey, "30 Rock" (Last year's winner: America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty")

Comedy Supporting Actor and Actress
Actor: Joshua Gomez, "Chuck" and Rainn Wilson, "The Office"...I love Rainn Wilson and find him incredibly funny and believable in the role of Dwight.
Actress: Jane Krakowski, "30 Rock" and Melora Hardin, "The Office"...Melora's portrayal of the bitchy and slightly unstable Jan this season has been priceless.
Hope wins: Rainn Wilson, "The Office" and Melora Hardin, "The Office" (Last year's winners: Actor - Jeremy Piven, "Entourage" / Actress - Jaime Pressly, "My Name is Earl")

Drama Series
"Friday Night Lights", "Heroes", "Life", and "House"...The writing on "House" was top-notch this season, in particular, the episode with Mira Sorvino after the Super Bowl and the last three episodes of the season. The cast, especially Hugh Laurie and Robert Sean Leonard, gave standout performances during the two episode finale.
Hope wins: "House" (Last year's winner: "The Sopranos" ineligible for 2008)

Drama Lead Actor
Kyle Chandler, "Friday Night Lights", Damian Lewis, "Life" and Hugh Laurie, "House"...Laurie's multi-layered performance as the resident medical genius and Vicodin addict at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital is nothing short of brilliant.
Hope wins: Hugh Laurie, "House" (Last year's winner: James Spader, "Boston Legal")

Drama Lead Actress
Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" and Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters"
Hope wins: Connie Britton, "Friday Night Lights" (Last year's winner: Sally Field, "Brothers and Sisters)"

Drama Supporting Actor and Actress
Actor: Michael Emerson, "Lost" and Robert Sean Leonard, "House"...Michael Emerson is always at his creepy best as Ben. Robert Sean Leonard is always great serving as Dr. Watson to Hugh Laurie's Sherlock Holmes on "House", but he was beyond moving in his performance of Wilson's heartbreaking goodbye to Amber.
Actress: Anne Dudek, "House"...As I've mentioned before, Anne Dudek performed no easy feat in portraying 'cutthroat bitch', the cold-hearted conniving ice queen and then transforming her into Amber, a more caring and tender portrayal of a young woman in love. She managed to pull it off in time to make us weep along with Wilson during her last goodbye.
Hope wins: Robert Sean Leonard, "House" and Anne Dudek, "House" (Last year's winners: Actor - Terry O'Quinn, "Lost" / Actress - Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy")

Sunday, June 1, 2008

P.S. I Love You

"P.S. I Love You" features a great cast, including Hillary Swank, Gerard Butler, Kathy Bates, Lisa Kudrow, Gina Gershon, and Harry Connick Jr. It's listed as a romantic comedy, but be forewarned that it's also a tear-jerker. Directed by Richard LaGravenese and based on the novel by Cecelia Ahern, "P.S. I Love You" tells the story of Holly (Swank) and Gerry (Butler) a young married couple, facing the typical fights and fears of a young married couple....job, money, and the question of whether it's time to start a family. Shortly after we're introduced to Holly and Gerry and are given a glimpse into their loving relationship, Gerry passes away from a brain tumor. At first, Holly shuts out her family and deals with her grief alone. On her 30th birthday though she receives a cake along with a tape recorded message from Gerry asking her to get dressed up and go out and celebrate her birthday with her friends Sharon (Gershon) and Denise (Kudrow). In the tape, Gerry also tells her to expect letters from him at random times--when she least expects it--which will contain tasks that she'll have to complete. While at first her mom (Bates) feels that the letters are only keeping her in the past, in truth through each letter Gerry is helping Holly to find herself and to take the steps to build a new life without him. Thanks to the use of flashbacks we also get a glimpse of the life and memories they built together, including when they first met and fell in love.

This is definitely a chick-flick (I can't see many guys renting this of their own free will), but a thoroughly enjoyable one. The movie manages to strike a perfect balance between the comedic and tear-jerker moments. You'll laugh, cry, and laugh again. The entire cast did a great job, especially Hillary Swank, Gerald Butler, and Lisa Kudrow. Swank conveyed Holly's every emotion--shock, denial, despair and ultimately acceptance--movingly, Butler made you fall in love with Gerry so you empathized with Holly's loss, and Kudrow was hilarious as usual, stealing many of the scenes she was in.

P.S. If you rent this movie, remember to buy a box of Kleenex.