All in all, things seem to be looking up. Right now America's cleaning up in Olympic medals, looking forward to a riot-free week of platitudes at the Democratic National Convention, and even putting serious effort into maybe thinking about possibly withdrawing troops from Iraq at a non-specific point four years from now. Hell, even Britney Spears seems to be getting her act together. And especially with the promise of a holiday right around the corner, it's as though you can actually feel the tension dissipating from the nation's collective knotted muscles as they relax to their natural state of flabby torpor and we pause to linger in the summer air so warm and fair. But ah, she's a fickle friend, that summer wind, and although today you're singing a song and strolling along the golden sand, even now those bloated, rotting jellyfish known as Friday Buzzkills are beached all around, stingers at the ready. Pretty soon you'll be pissing yourself just to stop the pain.
- As the world anxiously awaits Barack Obama's choice for vice-president, former Saturday Night Live weakest link turned children's singer and Christian crusader Victoria Jackson has already picked out the nominees for his cabinet, namely The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Jackson (unfortunately, not-at-all-satirically) stated on her website recently that she believes Obama "bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ [sic]," and says she is "scared to death that un-educated [again, sic] people will ignorantly vote him into office." But hey, why quit there when you're just getting a good, spittle-flecked rant going? Jackson goes on to tell her devoted fanbase precisely why she'll be voting McCain and spending the next few months anonymously posting "Nobama!" on various comment boards:
"You see, what bothers me most, besides that he is a Communist, and a whitey- hater, (although he is half white), is that he is a LIAR. He pretends to be a Christian and he incriminates himself everytime he speaks about Christianity. To lie about being a believer in Christ is very dangerous. Lightning could strike him at any minute! But seriously, he doesn't have a clue what the Bible says and yet he pretends to be a church- going Christian to win votes. That is sooooo evil."
Compared to the other various "stars" who have been weighing in on Obama's merits, Jackson's opinions actually rank somewhere between Jon Voight's recent "Obama wants to give Iran the atomic bomb!" op-ed and Roseanne Barr's "Jon Voight is a used tampon!" response in terms of sheer C-list craziness, but still, is it too much to ask for a devoutly Christian celebrity who isn't completely batshit about it? Does it always have to be antichrists and purity rings and Gary Busey threatening to pull out your heart and show you how full of God's love it is? Of course, even Jackson knows her opinion–no matter how assiduously supported by Bible quotes it is–isn't exactly a popular one, and that it's unlikely to win her any favor among Obama-loving Hollywood, saying, "I know my stance might keep me from LA jobs since (almost) the whole town is liberal." Well, yes, and the fact that you're Victoria Jackson, and this is 2008….Oh no! Lightning!
- Perhaps Jackson should compare her theory on the Hollywood conspiracy to blacklist conservatives with an expert on such matters–namely Joe Francis, the Girls Gone Wild mogul who this week filed a lawsuit alleging a "conspiracy between a U.S. District Judge, the parents of underage women, the judge's former law partners representing the parents, and Bay County government officials." According to Francis, this shady cabal took time out from controlling the weather to concoct a scheme of entrapment wherein the 17-year-old girls he filmed in Panama City, like, totally tricked him by pretending to be 18, which most unfairly landed him in a courtroom where the judge was a former law partner of the prosecutor–you know, because certainly any other, non-biased judge would have seen Francis for who he really is: the greatest champion of free speech the world has ever known. While we're all well aware of Francis' penchant for grandiloquence and his utter dearth of self-awareness, that still doesn't quite explain the unusually aggrandized intro to his complaint, which avers that what happened to him is "the same kind of tale that Nina Simone sang about; William Faulkner wrote about it; historians teach about it."
We'll go ahead and guess what Nina Simone song could best sum up the brutal injustice handed down to a regular, hardworking citizen who makes his living videotaping girls shoving beer cans where they don't belong (it's the one where she sings about how "the sun's gonna shine in my back door some day," right?), and yes, someday it will be helpful for people of the future to study the case of Girls Gone Wild, if only to explain why such a large section of the female population keeps randomly bursting into tears, but William Faulkner? Um, okay… Granted, Francis was prosecuted in the south, but that's a fairly flimsy connection. Unless he was referring to The Sound And The Fury (and indeed, this whole thing is a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing), in which case we can only hope that Francis sees himself in Benjy, and that all of this is just elaborate foreshadowing of his eventual castration.
- It wasn't a conspiracy (at least, not one that's ever been proven), but a pall of creepy coincidences certainly surrounded Tobe Hooper's 1982 horror classic Poltergeist. The film is still the yardstick by which all so-called "cursed" projects must be measured–sorry "Dark Knight curse," but you're going to have to kill a lot more people if you want your own Wikipedia entry–and as such it seems best to just let it alone, rather than invoke further ire of the spirits, right? Ah, but that would be assuming that original ideas not involving killer reflections (a concept that was itself cribbed from Poltergeist) still exist, and as we all know that's simply not true. Thus screenwriters Stiles White and Juliet Snowden, the team also responsible for the upcoming remake of The Birds, have signed up to pen a remake of Poltergeist and probably send another innocent little girl to an early grave–though, if it's any consolation, there probably won't be any room for "oopsies" involving the violation of real human skeletons when everything's been replaced by CGI.
- And while we're on the subject of evil apparitions communicating through your television, Tyra-biting, Omarosa-baiting, rational-segue-eschewing host Wendy Williams has apparently been made fun of by The Soup enough times to warrant a full national pick-up for her eponymous talk show, which will allow her to make audiences all across the country uncomfortable with her rambling, factually specious free-associations on the lives of celebrities she'll never get to interview. But while that's good news for stay-at-home moms, elderly shut-ins, and Joel McHale's writing staff, the biggest pick-ups this week were once again dredged from the seemingly inexhaustible well of awful reality show skeins: Supermanny is a "male-based Supernanny spin-off" that replaces stiff-upper-lipped English nanny Jo Frost with "gruff Chicago child therapist" Mike Ruggles; it's also responsible for legitimizing one of the most irritating words in the modern lexicon since "cougar."
Still, that's nothing compared to the reinforcement of negative behavior offered by MTV's new Model Maker, which put out a casting call seeking girls who were willing to "shed between 30 and 80 pounds" over the course of three months–clearly the only thing standing between all you chubsy-ubsies out there and the catwalk. And okay, obesity experts say losing anything more than 25 pounds in 12 months is "really overstepping the boundaries" in terms of what's considered healthy, and yes, this is yet another detrimental message to a generation so obsessed with being thin that they're putting "bulimia" in their MySpace interests. But the rise of Model Maker marks a turning point for MTV, a transition from merely celebrating reprehensible behavior among teen girls to actively engendering it, and now we have to assume that all of this has just been the gradual unfolding of some wicked exercise in eugenics. I mean, this is all leading up to MTV's My Super-Sweet Russian Roulette, right?
- This summer has been an unusually bad one for celebrities and automobiles, and although the brutal season is finally coming to a close, judging by this week we'd advise anyone with any sort of Q-rating at all to take up traveling by hovercraft or something, just to be safe. Apparently, not even walking is a guarantee against disaster, as evidenced by legendary manager-to-the-stars Joan Hyler, who started the week in critical condition after being hit by a car along the Pacific Coast Highway and losing a significant amount of blood. Hyler, a legendary rep whose long and varied client list has included Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Madonna, Peter O'Toole, Meryl Streep, and many others, was finally upgraded to stable condition yesterday after a massive Hollywood blood drive yielded more than 80 donors, though she still has a long recovery ahead of her. The same goes for Nashville roots-rocker Will Hoge, who was struck by a van Wednesday while on his scooter. Hoge suffered multiple broken bones and contusions and will have to put off recording the follow-up to last year's Draw The Curtains while he mends. Seriously…Where did you people learn to drive?
- For the last two years, NPR commentator Leroy Sievers opened up about his battle with colon, brain, and lung cancer in a popular radio and online series, sharing his personal travails in a candid, witty way that made it a listener favorite. Of course, such a story is bound to have a sad ending, and this week Sievers died at the age of 53 after deciding to stop treatment. Before working with NPR, Sievers was a hardworking journalist who served 10 years at CBS News and another 14 with ABC's Nightline, including four as executive producer. Over his 25 years in the business, he covered more than a dozen wars and was even embedded with Ted Koppel in Iraq to produce the documentary The Fallen. On NPR's website, Koppel paid tribute to his colleague, saying, "Cancer was not in Leroy's plans. But he turned his battle with cancer into the most dramatic, the most moving and the most important story of his life."
- Ska has certainly had its ups and downs over the years, but in its purest form, the Jamaica-born genre had the power to move like few others, carrying a celebratory message of independence over a powerful, toe-tapping upbeat. One of the originators of that movement was trumpet player Johnny Moore who–in addition to playing on records with reggae legends Bob Marley and Lee Perry–helped found The Skatalites in the early 1960s, one of the most popular and long-running bands in the music's history. While the band was perhaps best known for its ska interpretations of popular American and British tunes such as songs from The Beatles, Motown, and even movie themes, The Skatalites also produced some of the genre's hands-down classics, among them songs like "Freedom Sound" and "The Guns Of Navarone." Moore, one of the last surviving members of the group, died this week at the age of 70.
- As a popular character actor, Julius Carry had more than 50 TV and film roles to his credit, including significant supporting parts in Doctor Doctor and The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr. Lovers of cult cinema, however, will most likely recognize him from his turns in 1970s favorites like The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh and The Avenging Disco Godfather, where he played "Bucky," the PCP-crazed nephew of Rudy Ray Moore's, um, avenging disco godfather. But there's no question that Carry's best-known role (among a certain audience, anyway) has to be the towering, gloriously over-the-top villain Sho'Nuff ("The Shogun Of Harlem") from 1985's martial arts actioner The Last Dragon. As Sho'Nuff, Carry lent his considerable skill to some of the most deliriously tongue-in-cheek dialogue of the decade—including his classic "Am I the meanest?" speech, later parodied by Busta Rhymes in his video for "Dangerous." Carry died Wednesday of cancer at the age of 56.
Have a super weekend!
[Friday Buzzkills will return September 5.]