Devastating earthquakes and cyclones, skyrocketing gas prices, West Virginia–there are already plenty of depressing things to think about as those promising spring flowers decay into the morass of summer. Here are a few more. It's Friday Buzzkills.
- Outside of the occasional Artie Lange meltdown, we've never given much thought to Howard Stern even when he wasn't banished to satellite radio, but we'll be damned if he hasn't stolen headlines again with his latest–and laziest?–witless stunt: A cheap splice-job on Dolly Parton's new audio book that, among other things, turns the country diva's innocent ramblings about the Smoky Mountains and her life among the has-beens into a titillating tell-all where Parton holds forth on the odd sexual proclivities of Kenny Rogers, double-team orgies involving Burt Reynolds and Johnny Carson, and her own giggly amazement at her unquenchable thirst for African-American penis–just the kind of comedy gold that makes Stern the highest-paid radio personality in the U.S. Sadly, we're pretty sure this whole thing would have escaped the attention of everyone except Stern's easily amused audience had Parton not turned it into the story of the week by threatening a lawsuit and accusing Stern of "some sort of trickery" like she's Unfrozen Caveman Country Star. Dolly, as you can tell by the clip below, even Stern's menagerie of mockery monkeys could barely muster the enthusiasm to listen to this shit. Must we?
- Besides, even if Parton had popped a few too many muscle relaxers and let fly, we're pretty sure she would have been forgiven–after all, even Dog The Bounty Hunter is getting a second chance, and he's never written anything close to "Coat Of Many Colors." Yes, months after it was pulled in the wake of Duane "Dog" Chapman's rambling, profanity-laced tirade–during which he planted N-blossoms like a modern-day Johnny Racistseed–Dog The Bounty Hunter is finally returning to A&E; for its fifth season. While a representative for the NAACP has complained that Chapman is getting off lightly, Roy Innis of the Congress Of Racial Equality–one of the first to demand that the show be taken off the air–told The New York Sun back in December that he believed Chapman to be "a changed man" with "a higher purpose" (after all, Chapman spoke at a Martin Luther King Jr. event and participated in a toy drive; how much more blood must he spill before all of us are saved?) before adding, "The Dog's potential to take his celebrity and turn it into something redeeming for our culture and society is immense." Yes, forget Obama: What America's fragile racial relations could really use right now is a "uniter" who sprays everyone–be they black, white, "Mexican, a whore, or whatever"–with the same loving coat of bear mace.
- Already blooming into her new role as scandal bait, Miley Cyrus found herself in trouble yet again after being accused of plagiarism by L.A. band Lustra, who believe Cyrus ripped off her terrible hit "Rock Star" from their even terrible-r song "Scotty Doesn't Know," otherwise known as "The One Relatively Clever Joke In Eurotrip"–a preposterous accusation, obviously, considering everyone knows Miley Cyrus doesn't write anything except the endorsements on her checks (and she's probably even got a stamp for that). But in a press release sent (twice!) to our in-box, Lustra presents the shocking (shocking!) evidence that their former producer "was connected to Hannah Montana," as well as the fact that one of Cyrus' earliest appearances on the Billboard Charts came the same week that "Scotty Doesn't Know" was for some ungodly reason at number 75. Before dropping some already-tired Annie Liebovitz jokes, Lustra guitarist Nick Cloutman concludes his statement by saying, "Although we are very flattered that Ms. Cyrus took this route, we would have preferred some credit." Somehow we're willing to bet they'll settle for the 3 million MySpace hits it's generated for their beyond-dated novelty song for a movie nobody liked–not to mention the numerous blogs digging up the video so everyone can compare for themselves. Speaking of which, here you go!
- It's one thing to be the unwitting pawn of a manufactured scandal, but it's wholly another when you willingly sleep with the enemy, as Britney Spears recently did with Adnan Ghalib, he of the Brazillian-waxed chin who somehow realized every paparazzo's dream by graduating from Britney Spears' stalker to schtupper–not to mention the physical embodiment of her cries for help, like a Tag-scented man-bag filled with muffled screams. A class act to the end, Ghalib is now reportedly shopping a film of one of their icky trysts that an "insider" speculates "will go down as the highest-selling porn tape of all time, outselling even Paris Hilton's." And just what sort of sexual shenanigans could command those kinds of figures? According to the same insider, "Word is that the video starts with Britney undressing. She was wearing some cheap clothes she bought down there in Rosarito. The sex wasn't particularly kinky, but Britney wears a pink wig throughout."
Gentlemen, start your whacking! Personally, there's nothing that gets us hotter than self-destructive sex between manic-depressives and the assholes who manipulate them. (Which reminds us: Our copy of Cutters Crave Enabling Cock #5 is way overdue.)
- While Ghalib's troublingly hypnotic hold over Spears during her darkest head-shaving, umbrella-wielding days qualifies him as a captain of opportunity at best, it still probably doesn't merit him inclusion on E!'s latest frothy infotainment excursion into the depths of the human soul, Dating Nightmares. After courting the apocalypse with last month's 15 Most Shocking Acts Of Violence–which treated events like the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings with the same gravitas normally reserved for 101 Biggest Celebrity Oops!–the network is making another foray into ill-advised investigative journalism with a two-hour episode of THS Investigates looking at everyone from "online predators to online stalkers to violent lovers." Most exciting of all, it concludes with the first ever (what a scoop!) television interview with NuShawn Williams, the New York man currently doing time for spreading the HIV virus to several women. Yes, that should make for an excellent pairing with Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
- Were we even slightly religious, we might posit the idea that the recent spate of natural disasters, wanton immorality, and media attention granted to sexual terrorists reflects God's growing impatience with our troubling lack of faith. After all, according to reports from the major studios, not even devout Christians are stirred to see spiritual movies (unless it's exception-that-proves-the-rule The Passion Of The Christ). According to United Artists marketing president Dennis Rice, "If a movie is largely rejected for various reasons, you can't expect a faith program to bail it out;" in other words, Christians may believe in the story of a bearded superman in the sky who tests the depths of their love by withholding happiness from them until the day that they die from a lifetime of back-breaking servitude–but that doesn't mean they're stupid enough to sit through Evan Almighty. Still, most distressing are those who do believe in "faith-based marketing," like Gener8Xion Entertainment's hellbound Matt Crouch, who says, "The No. 1 secret sauce I have is the relationships with senior pastors. When a senior pastor stands up and runs a two-minute trailer for one of my films on his church's big screen and says, 'Go see this movie,' that is the most powerful piece of marketing that there is."
- Speaking of which, we're thinking a "See this movie or burn for all eternity" tactic might be the only way to put asses in seats for some of these recently greenlit projects:
- Bravely volunteering to be the one to sound the death knell for the Judd Apatow Hopalong Gang's dwindling credibility, Jonah Hill has signed on to write and star in an update of 21 Jump Street, the semi-popular show about undercover cops posing as high school kids that launched Johnny Depp's career. A project that combines the irritating "winking post-modern take on an old TV show" genre with the even more irritating "Jonah Hill fatigue"? I'm not sure our comments system can handle this.
- Proving there's an inexhaustible market for the comedy stylings of Matthew McConaughey's abs, Anchor Bay recently snapped up the instantly annoying Surfer Dude for a late-summer theatrical release. The film–which centers on "a soul-searching surfer in an existential crisis"–pits McConaughey and off-screen pal Woody Harrelson against each other to see who can turn in the laziest performance that still qualifies as "acting." Loser buys the next one, brah.
- And believe it or not, that's not even the lamest surfing movie breaking on the horizon: Speed director Jan De Bont is said to be prepping Point Break Indo, a sequel to the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze epic taking place in Singapore and Indonesia 20 years after Swayze's character disappears. To quote Swayze's immortal Bodhi, "Life sure has a sick sense of humor, huh?"
- Critical drubbings and public outcry be damned: Alvin And The Chipmunks II was a lock the moment the first one hit $100 million, and 20th Century Fox has already reserved a March 9, 2010 release date; they'll figure out the story and all that other superfluous shit later. And if what the (shudder) Alvin franchise has done to your childhood isn't cause enough to report it to E! for some hard-hitting investigatin', get ready to blow the rape whistle on The Weinstein Company, who recently announced plans for a live-action, musical update of Fraggle Rock. (In related news, The Weinstein Company has already announced plans to make its foray into acting as The Trash Heap.)
- A strikingly handsome–though oddly blank-faced–sex symbol who lent his steel blue eyes and air of mystique to numerous Italian action movies in the 1960s, John Phillip Law was perhaps best known for his role as the blind angel Pygar whom Jane Fonda seduced in Barbarella. But to us, Law–who passed away this week at the age of 70–will always be the titular, enigmatic super-spy in Mario Bava's Danger: Diabolik. We don't care what Mystery Science Theater 3000 says: That movie was such an awesome mod fuck explosion that it didn't even need to make sense.
- Before he stepped over the line separating eccentric weirdo to gun-toting psychopath, Phil Spector was mostly known as the innovator behind the "Wall Of Sound"–a production technique that he created with the help of engineer Larry Levine, who died this Thursday on his 80th birthday. Levine was the "nuts-and-bolts" guy whose task was translating Spector's vision into workable recording techniques on songs like The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" and The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron"–something he accomplished by introducing the producer to the simple wonders of the echo chamber. Levine's résumé also included records from Eddie Cochran, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, and the Grammy-winning recording "A Taste Of Honey" for Herb Alpert.
- While Levine and Spector were busy with their "Wall Of Sound," Robert Rauschenberg was changing the face of contemporary art with wall-sized masterpieces like his famous Retroactive I, introducing elements of photography, sculpture, collage, and printmaking into painting, and in the process pushing American art out of the age of abstract expressionism and into era of pop and conceptualism. Sadly, one of the last living greats in the art world died this week at the age of 82. An irascible charmer who exhibited a plainspoken, self-deprecating attitude towards his work, Rauschenberg was also an unusually excellent interview. Here's one of his best.
Have a super weekend!
[Friday Buzzkills will return on May 30.]