Cinema Deja Vu

It’s not a good thing when you watch five trailers and you realize you’ve seen them all. It’s not like I’ve actually watched the films, but it certainly felt that way. They were: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Take the Lead, X-Men 3, Superman Returns and Poseidon. Remakes or sequels all.

Pirates is the second of three Johnny Depp vehicles. I liked the first, but there didn’t seem any need for a sequel. But it made it lot of coin, so I suppose it was inevitable.

Take the Lead is the only “original” of the bunch, Starring Antonio Banderas as a ballroom dancer who teaches inner city kids how to dance, it’s more familiar than Pirates. To Sir, With Love, Stand and Deliver, Lean On Me, Dangerous Minds anyone?

X-Men 3 is much like Pirates, a successful franchise that was bound to continue. No problem, I’m going to see it – there’s nothing like a good popcorn film and all superheroes need a trilogy.

But do they need a fifth movie? That’s what Superman Returns is, but it’s not a rethink of the franchise like Batman Begins, but a sequel that ignores two of the previous sequels. I’m not convinced.

Then there was Poseidon (for god’s sake, start the movie!), a remake of 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure and appears to be inspired by King Kong – remade because they can and ‘cause they figure nobody will remember the original. I think I’ll go rent it.

I know it’s not original to complain about the, um, lack of originality, but seriously, are there so few new ideas out there? Sigh, I guess I’ll just have to wait until Mission: Impossible 3 and Miami Vice. Oh, wait a sec…

The Art of Celebrity

Improbably, Britney Spears has become a symbol of the pro-life movement, at least in the eyes of one artist. Next week Daniel Edwards’ life-size sculpture of the pop princess in labour – Monument To Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston – will go on display in New York.

“When I saw an image of her, I thought she was quite a beautiful pregnant woman," said Edwards, who is fascinated that she interrupted her career to have a child. The fact that he portrays her in a fashion more suitable for conceiving than bearing children appears to belie his sincerity, but he says the all-fours position is reminiscent of her sex-kitten stage shows.

"Pro-lifers normally promote bloody images of abortion. This is the image of birth. Everyone is coming at me with anger and venom, but I depicted her as she has depicted herself – seductively. Suddenly, she's a mom." Not surprisingly, the pro-life movement isn’t exactly thrilled to have the pop tart as a spokestatue.

"It's a farce to suggest that this is pro-life,” John-Henry Westen, editor of, a conservative family values group told the National Post. “You get unwanted babies through the type of promiscuous sex celebrities like Britney Spears portray through their acts."

It’s what fascinates me about celebrity – how people lay their own concepts and ideals on them. Let’s be serious folks, Britney is just a nouveau-riche piece of white trash who has been in the spotlight so long that she has no sense of reality.

Not that I’m projecting on her…

Tom Hanks: Corporate Shill

For years actors A-list actors resisted appearing in commercials. Anyone who wanted to make some extra money would jet off to Japan where they could pitch jeans, booze, pachinko and whatnot without looking like a sell-out. ‘Cause Hollywood film-making is otherwise a hotbed of integrity.

This has been changing over the past couple of years. Named actors are still avoiding the camera, but they are flocking to ad agencies to do voice over work. I know this because Kiefer Sutherland seems very insistent that I own both a Ford and an Intel chip Mac.

Which brings us to Tom Hanks. He doesn’t do commercials, he’s all about branding opportunities – which is where the real money is. I just caught a bit of You’ve Got Mail on TV over the weekend (I was channel surfing) and even 10 minutes worth reminded me how much it was an ad for AOL. And course there was Cast Away, which I mostly remember as being about an obsessive FedEx employee.

Now he’s turning his thespian skills to a little coffee startup in Starbucks Saved My Life. Hanks will play a former ad exec who lost his job and wife and ended up working at Starbucks. Life lessons are, um, learnt. Wow, when Tom shills, he shills.

Makes me think he’s being doing this all along and I’ve just never noticed. Let’s see… Forest Gump was about pushing chocolates; The Da Vinci Code = more copies of the book; Toy Story – duh, toys; The Man With One Red Shoe, um, pairs of shoes. Ok, I’m stretching now. Feel free to leave your own Tom Hanks Shill-o-Matic suggestions.

It's a Conspiracy!

I am not very prone to conspiratorial thoughts. I believe that artists and entertainment companies are looking out for the best interests of their fans and their creations and would never do anything untoward just for the publicity. No, wait, that is the opposite of what I believe.

I had speculated that the Da Vinci Code plagiarism trial was really just a sham to get free, world-wide coverage for the upcoming film of the same name. How short-sighted of me. If anything, it was to get the book back in everybody’s head for tomorrow’s North American release of 5 million paperback editions of the blockbuster novel by Random House. That’s the company that also publishes Holy Blood, Holy Grail, whose authors are suing Dan Brown. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

In other conspiracy news, Isaac Hayes’ spokesperson Amy Harnell has denied that the voice of Chef was ever hospitalized for a stroke and was not coerced into quitting South Park. Of course Hayes hasn’t said any of this directly and his flak is herself a Scientologist. Mighty suspicious.

And remember the live-action Simpsons opener that was floating about You Tube and your friend’s emails? The one that appeared to be filmed by some fans and then was revealed to have been created by a British cable company? It aired last night in front of the Ricky Gervais-penned episode, an official rendering all along. I’ve got no real complaint here, it is still funny, but it’s not the fan-created film it appeared to be.

One last one, seeing as I’m adding to all of my recent rants. It looks like one member of the mega-rich (I assume) former Friends clan has put the brakes on a reunion show by turning down a truckload of cash. Lisa Kudrow says it is one of the male cast members who said no, and my bet would be David Schwimmer. Matt LeBlanc is still playing Joey and Matthew Perry has a pilot for next year, so clearly he’s not object to heading back to the tube. If true, I say good for him. You had a great run, now leave it alone. Any reunion would just be a pointless nostalgia fest akin to attending an Eagles concert, and nobody wants that.

Pop Culture Lobbyists

It probably would have gone straight to video or at least died a quick death during the August cinema doldrums, but because of the rabid interest of fans on the web, Snakes on a Plane is well on its way to becoming a cult classic.

The film has been floating around Hollywood since 2000 and has since been the subject of fan art, trailer mashups, shirts and blogs, a phenomenon of its own. Interest in the movie has encouraged the studio to shoot more scenes, adding more deaths, nudity and, of course, snakes to the film. It’s called Snakes on a Plane, what else could you expect? Also on tap will be Samuel L. Jackson yelling: "I want these motherf**king snakes off the motherf**king plane!"

Jackson stars as an FBI agent who has to fight a planeload of snakes unleashed by an assassin bent on killing a witness in protective custody. "That's the only reason I took the job: I read the title. You either want to see that, or you don't," Jackson has said of the film. agrees, stating that maybe fans just want what they want, ironic or not.

Not all fans are quite so lucky. Depite much whiney resistance to new 007 Daniel Craig by fan groups such as the Craignotbond site, the blonde Bond has been signed on to a second round, once Casino Royale wraps.

Some have vowed not to see any Bond film starring Craig, despite there having been little footage to base their opinion of his work on. So here we have two films with intense online interest and it will be intriguing to see which group will impact the box office more.

R.I.P. Chef

Oh my God, they killed Chef! As expected, (see More Trouble in Toontown) Trey Parker and Matt Stone did away with the Isaac Hayes character in true South Park style, by dropping him off a cliff, impaling and shooting him and having him mauled by both a bear and a mountain lion. You bastards!

Before his Kenny-esque death, Chef joined the Super Adventure Club (not Scientolgy, of course) who brainwashed him, turning him into a child molester. Subtle. During his eulogy the show made it clear their anger was not directed at Chef/Hayes:
"A lot of us don't agree with the choices the Chef has made in the last few days. Some of us feel hurt and confused that he seemed to turn his back on us. But we can't let the events of the past few weeks take away the memories of how Chef made us smile.We shouldn't be mad at Chef for leaving us. We should be mad at that fruity little club for scrambling his brains."

More Trouble in Toontown

What’s really going on in the bucolic mountain of South Park? The story so far…

Last week Issac Hayes, the voice of Chef, quit South Park over the ‘toons "inappropriate ridicule of religious communities.” Seems Hayes, himself a Scientologist, wasn’t too fond of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s take on his cult religion.

Hayes hadn’t voiced any concerns over the series treatment of Christians, Jew and Mormons, but no matter. Let him go said Parker and Stone. Then Trapped in the Closet, the episode that started it all, was pulled from Comedy Central. Blogs soon suggested that Scientology’s No. 1 public face Tom Cruise had flexed his Hollywood muscles and threatened not to promote Mission: Impossible 3 (both Parmamount and Comedy Central are owned by Viacom.)

This, of course, was denied by Cruise’s flaks, causing Parker and Stone to reply: "So, Scientology, you may have won this battle, but the million-year war for Earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will not stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"

But did Hayes actually quit? A Fox columnist reports that Hayes suffered a stroke in January and had been recovering ever since, with friends stating that he did not issue any statement. “That certainly begs the question of who issued the statement that Hayes was quitting "South Park" now because it mocked Scientology four months ago. If it wasn’t Hayes, then who would have done such a thing?”

In the last round Parker and Stone opened the new season of South Park with the return of Chef, using previously recorded dialogue. I won’t be able to see it as it won’t air in Canada for a bit, but I’m sure it will appear on You Tube in a few hours. Of course, it could all just be a publicity stunt to get people to watch the show by stirring up some controversy. But a show like South Park wouldn’t stoop to that, would they?

I’m Not Bad, I’m Just Drawn That Way

In what would seem to be a perfect piece of casting, Paris and Nicky Hilton are being turned into cartoon characters for an animated series about their lives.

Wha? I thought that was what we were already watching as there is no possible way those two women are for real. But assuming they actually exist, why not a cartoon?

This is something that is actually being considered – that is a preliminary character design on the left. If they have to, why not give them superpowers too? Paris could utter “That’s Hot!” and then whatever she touched would ignite. Or when she does her over-the-shoulder red carpet look (you know the one) Greek shipping heirs would fall into her arms like Tinkerbell. I don’t know what Nicky would do. Spend freely and look slightly less slutty than her sister, I suppose.

Of course this wouldn’t be the first time Paris has gone 2D. She appeared in the appropriately titled South Park episode Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset. She is also, for reasons I am unable to comprehend, set to voice a character on The Simpsons. I guess I’ll have to accept that as one the “off years” as described one entry below.


“Yes, the Simpsons have come a long way since an old drunk made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off his gambling debts. Who knows what adventures they'll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?”
- Troy McClure
Who knows indeed? Fox has announced that the Springfield clan has been renewed for an 18th and 19th season that will keep the show going until 2008. That is an incredible run for a show that is already the longest-running comedy on broadcast television, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and has put the word "D'oh!" into the dictionary.

With the additional seasons, The Simpsons will be just one short of Gunsmoke’s 20-year run, even though it still has a long way to go to catch the western’s 633 episodes. Not that reaching episode 400 next May is anything to, umm, laugh at. Reaching its quadricentennial milestone will put The Simpsons at No. 6 on the list of the longest running TV shows (by episodes), at least according to these guys. The Top 5?
1. Gunsmoke 633 (1955-1975)
2. Lassie 588 (1954-1973)
3. Death Valley Days 452 (1952-1972)
4. Ozzie and Harriett 435 (1952-1966)
5. Bonanza 430 (1959-1972)
Could The Simpsons take the No. 1 slot? It’s possible. Last year creator Matt Groening said there are no plans to stop making the program. "I don't see any end in sight. I want to get to 366 [shows] so we have one for every day of the year, including leap year.”

But should it try to keep going? That’s a question fans continue to battle over. Having watched since the poorly animated shorts appeared on the Tracey Ullman Show way, way back in the 1980s, I now view the show like Saturday Night Live. Once a groundbreaker, now an institution, the seasons ebb and flow as new writers come and go. Some years will suck when compared to what has come before them, but then there will be flashes of the brilliance that make watching worthwhile.

It is no longer must-see TV anymore, but with my trusty PVR I will still watch as a bad episode of The Simpsons is still better than most things on TV.

CBC is Cookin'

Mmmm, tasty music!CBC Radio 3 just keeps getting cooler. They have redesigned their media player so, along with listening to whatever they are playing, you can make your own playlist as well.

This may not seem like a big deal to those of you who don't know what Radio 3 is. They are an online and satellite radio station, broadcasting all Canadian tunes -- in my opinion, some of the coolest tunes you will find on the web. Can't vouch for the satellite service as I haven't gotten on board that bandwagon yet, but this channel could push me over the edge.

So back to the playlist -- you can now make your own out of their excellent podcasts and add tracks or whole shows from They are also planning to add their 40,000 songs from in the near future, which will rock.

Until then, you can still pull together a cool list of tracks. I messed around with it a bit today and built my own playlist. Check it out. Oh yeah, the other cool think is you can open the player separately and play it while surfing. Nifty.

Ok, enough of me being a good little marketer.

Fame, Fame, Fame, Fame

What the hell are we doing here?I can’t comprehend the allure of fame. I can understand the appeal – in the rare instances when a person knew who I was before I had met them, there was a thrill to it, but I never had an overwhelming desire to pursue it.

For others that pull must be irresistible. That is the only thing I can think of to explain The Surreal Life. Why else would Florence Henderson and Sherman Hemsley agree to appear on a reality show built around laughing at has-beens?

Hasn’t Henderson been able to sock enough away as Mrs. Brady so she doesn’t have to play den mother to some washed up rockers? Hasn’t Hemsley moved on up enough that he doesn’t have to slum with former Playboy cover girls? (Wait, maybe he doesn’t mind that part.)

My point is shouldn’t these two sitcom icons have enough money to keep away from this sort of low-rent humiliation? Unless they are hard up, it must be the desire to be seen, talked about, watched.

Couldn’t they have followed the example of Morrissey and The Smiths, who turned down $5 million to play one festival last year? "The money doesn't come into it," said Morrissey. "It never has. I do what I do because it's all that I am."

This thought has never crossed the mind of Tommy Lee. He, along with Metallica bassist Jason Newsted and ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke are forming a band called Supernova and letting Survivor producer Mark Burnett find them a lead singer on the next series of Rockstar.

Seems some people will do anything to extend their 15 minutes.

Viral Marketing

Brandi CarlileI've been marked as a tastemaker, a blog that matters. This is likely untrue and just the hope of an enthusiastic public relations agent, but interesting nonetheless.

What it has done is shown me a window into a modern viral marketing campaign and roped me into it at the same time. I got an email on Wednesday from a representative of singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile, telling me that she would be playing at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto on March 21.

Looking at my page stats, I was found by a Technorati search for Toronto blogs. Soon after the email arrived, with MP3s and a link to an electronic press kit on You Tube (ah, my current favourite site!) I don't know if I'm the spot they were hoping for, but I'm happy to share:

Brandi Carlile
Fall Apart Again - MP3
What More Can I Say - MP3
Brandi Carlile EPK - You Tube

Not bad, a sort of folky, alt-country Liz Phair. Umm, old style Liz Phair. Or not. There is a reason I stopped reviewing music. Carlile's bio says: "Think of a female Roy Orbison or Radiohead's Thom Yorke fronting a roots-rock band and you're not far off."

Anyway, it's been interesting to see how label is using, even embracing the web to get the word out on a new artist. If I can send at least one person your way I'm happy to do it.

Lost: The Musical

I'm going to be away for a day or two, so instead of my insights I leave you with Lost: The Musical. Thanks to Jen for sending it my way.

Ah, gotta love it. Here's hoping that this will stop the inevitable musical dead in its tracks. Still, a dancing polar bear...

Suck on These Salty Balls

Say everybody have you seen my balls / they're big and salty and brown. / If you ever need a quick pick me up / just stick my balls in your mouth.Isaac Hayes has shafted South Park. The deep voice of the smooth-talking, libidinous Chef wants to leave the mountain town full of foul-mouthed kids.

It’s not the swearing, it’s the show’s "inappropriate ridicule of religious communities." In a statement asking to be released from his contract, Hayes explained what he thought was going wrong with the show.

“There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. Religious beliefs are sacred to people and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices.”

The show has not had any qualms about mocking religion, with Catholics, priests, Jesus, Jews, Mormons and the Devil all landing in the sites of the satiric ‘toon. But it appears that it may have been the episode on Scientology “starring” Tom Cruise and John Travolta that set off Hayes, a practicing Scientologist himself.

"This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology," series co-creator Matt Stone told the Associated Press. "He has no problem – and he's cashed plenty of checks – with our show making fun of Christians."

Hayes must have a thin skin when the subject is close to him as he wasn’t bothered by the South Park boys only a couple of months ago, telling the New York Daily News: “I love the humor in it, the audacity of Matt (Stone) and Trey (Parker). They have the b-s to do what they do. Nobody is exempt from their humor. They're equal-opportunity offenders. Don't be offended by it. If you take it too seriously, you have problems.”

Not much I can add to that.

Sadly, the show is set to run until 2008 and may last well beyond that, which could mean years without Chef’s musical, if off-colour, advice. And that is a loss for all of us.

The Spy Who We Love

There has been a storm raging over the new James Bond and the remake of Casino Royale (see the trailer above.) There are sites calling for Daniel Craig’s removal, complaints about the Blonde Bond abound and tabloids and gossip sites snicker at his abilities.

On the other side there are fans behind the rethink of the franchise who are looking forward to a younger, harder Bond and are solidly behind Craig (or are at least willing to give him a chance.)

But why do we care so much? I’ve found myself caught up in the debate and have written over a half dozen entries about it. And I’m hardly an obsessive. Craig himself has felt compelled to respond to the criticism. It has to do with the longevity of the franchise.

There were six Bond films before I was born. Moonraker was the first film I ever saw at a drive-in when my teenaged aunt took me their when she was supposed to take me to Return from Witch Mountain. Watching A View to a Kill was my treat on the last day of school one year and a lot of the earlier films I watched on TV with my dad.

What other series has that kind of history? Lord of the Rings happened over a few short years. Star Wars has wrapped up after only six films and Harry Potter will be finished after seven. Casino Royale is the 21st in the 007 franchise and has become part of the pop culture firmament.

People feel like they have a vested interest in the character and the films. I realize that the debate, good or bad, is really just publicity for the film, but I don’t care, because Bond matters to me.

Previous Bond Posts:
Licence to Whine, Royale Flush, My Gossip Runneth Over, Shaken and Stirred, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Bond is Dead, Long Live the Bond

Links to Live By

Give me a chance, or I'll kill you.I’ve spent the day surfing, wondering what to write about. My time wasting is you gain. Here are some of the great things I found on some of my favorite blogs:

I Watch Stuff site joins the ranks of sites moaning that Daniel Craig doesn’t look like James Bond should, whatever that means. The upside is that I was pointed to new publicity pics of Casino Royale, so my many, many thanks.

• I’ve never been able to write these, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good haiku about Munich, found on Film Experience.

• Is Scrubs not long for this TV life? It’s on Child of TV’s list of 21 shows likely to be cancelled this year, on top of what has already been announced as no longer for this world.

TVGasm gives a great overview of the story and cast of the long-in-hibernation Prison Break. It will be back March 20th and I can't wait. Stupid Fox network. Surprise fact? John Abruzzi was the guy who fed Steve Buscemi into the wood chipper in Fargo.

• Hee, hee – betcha George Clooney used to offer free mustache rides. Thanks to Pop Culture Junkies for digging this up.

• Much love to Population Statistic for pointing out the original Fred & Barney cigarette ad on the Flintstones, courtesy of You Tube (them again!) I love seeing how tobacco used to be imbedded directly into pop culture.

Off the Wall

It’s ‘Pile On Michael Jackson Week’ and nobody told me.

Today the state of California shut down Nevererland the scene of the crime because the insurance policy for the 69 employees of the ranch had lapsed. Nicely done Jacko – I’m sure no new lawsuits will surface now that you have dozens of bitter, out-of-work former employees out for revenge.

On Tuesday Jermaine Jackson told Larry King that his brother was working on his six pack by doing 300 push-ups a day. "He's gained weight, is running on the beach and getting those muscles back." If that isn't Jermaine making fun of Michael, I don’t know what is.

Of course that was nothing when compared to what Jermaine said about his younger sibling for a book proposal back in 2003, which surfaced this week. I suspect the two won’t be talking anytime soon:
“My brother is a superstar, yes. My brother is wealthy. He owns shares in Sony music. He drinks, he does drugs, he lies, he cheats, he changed his skin color and mostly, he’s human. He attracts gay men and wards off women like the plague.”

“My brother purchased children. It is like a sanctioned black market. He is very powerful; he picked the sperm donor by using information provided by a sperm bank. Now, who can do that? Michael Jackson, that’s who, my brother.”
Jermaine also expressed concerns that the King of Pop "had a thing for young children" and might be guilty of child molestation. Wow, that's some brotherly love.

Best stay in Bahrain, Michael.

Kissing Booth for Peace

Whinny!Sharon Stone has a unique plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I would kiss just about anybody for peace in the Middle East," Stone said, while improbably sitting next to Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres.

While her trip to the Holy Land was sponsored by the Peres Center for Peace, she failed to plant one on the former PM. For whatever reason the center believes the sliding into B-list territory actress will be able to use her fame to help encourage peace efforts.

How did Stone raise peace awareness? By calling attention to her pieces.
"People are just sitting there going, like, 'I don't care what she's saying. I don't care what she's saying. I just want to know is she getting naked? Is she getting naked in that movie? Is she naked? Nude? Nude? Naked? Do I see her boobies? So let's just get through to that. Yes!”
That ought to do it as everyone lays down their arms and runs screaming for the hills with the thought of the almost 50-year-old Stone once more spreading for the camera in Basic Instinct 2.

Madonna Kisses and Tells

Madonna, passing on her energy to Britney. Yeah, that's it.Madonna ought to count herself lucky that she’s only had to explain her tonguing of Britney Spears to her nine-year-old daughter Lourdes.

Lourdes is slowly learning that mom really isn’t a prim and proper English countrywoman and that she a walk-in closet full of skeletons. Here is the exchange between the precocious little scamp and Mommy Dearest, as related to Out magazine, via People:

“’Mom, you know they say that you are gay?’ And I'm, 'Oh, do they? Why?' And she says, 'Because you kissed Britney Spears.' I said, 'No, it just means I kissed Britney Spears. I am the mommy pop star and she is the baby pop star. And I am kissing her to pass my energy on to her.'"

Lourdes will be able to save money while explaining all this to her future therapist by just handing him the magazine.

While this flakey, earth mother excuse might work for now (or at least convince her daughter not to bother asking any more questions), I can’t wait to hear how Madonna explains Denis Rodman and her notorious Sex book.

Better keep your kids away from the computer.

Last Exit To Springfield

I've seen this a few places today and had to post a link. It is a complete, live-action version of the Simpsons opening sequence. They've nailed it. Not sure why really, but who cares -- that's what the 'net is for. And YouTube is such a cool toy.

Yet Another Oscar Montage

I spy with my little eye, something that is funny. No, wait. No I don't.I blame myself of course. Every year I mess up on my Oscar picks by choosing what I want to win (this year it was Paradise Now over Tsotsi) or not going with my gut (choosing Brokeback Mountain over Crash. I even blogged on Saturday that I was going to pick Crash. Oh why don’t I listen to me?)

That being said, I did quite well and won my Oscar pool — edging out my pop culture rival and my wife who is always a dark horse — getting 18 of 24 categories correct. Hey, 75% is not too shabby, it’s how I got through school.

But enough of my self-congratulation — that’s Hollywood’s job. It was actually a good show, as award shows go. My greatest worry was that Jon Stewart would tank but, bless him, he was the best part of the night. He skewered left and right, Russell Crowe and did what he could to puncture some of the evening’s pomposity. There really wasn’t a chance he was going to go Crossfire on the broadcast, so I’m happy with what we got. Now hope for a jump in ratings for the Daily Show and don’t take the gig again.

There really wasn’t much else to be shocked or surprised about. Touchy-feely E! host Issac Mizrahi kept his hands too himself, and nobody but Jack Nicholson appeared all that drunk. We had to wonder how pissed off Matt Dillon was being sat behind Charlize Theron’s humongous bow and there was a quick audience shot of Andy Rooney who now looks like Darth Vader when he isn’t wearing his helmet. Shudder.

And why does the Academy feel the need to rush people off the stage in 30 to 60 seconds on likely the biggest night of the lives, but has plenty of time for montages, clip tributes and full song performances/interpretive dances?

For a longer, snarkier, blow-by-blow recap of the night, check out What Would Tyler Durden Do and Defamer. It’s why they get the big numbers.

Oscar Angst

Bunnies, is there anything they can't do?I figure the Oscars will be a letdown. Not because of the nominees and the potential winners – they are a generally worthy group – but because of the build up.

There have been countless awards shows preceding the ceremony and the media coverage leading up to it has been ceaseless. During the rest of the year I will try and avoid reading about films I’m looking forward to so as not to disappointed by high expectations, I have to wonder how the show can possibly live up to the hype.

Nonetheless I will be watching. The main categories are all sewn up and while I figure Brokeback Mountain will likely walk away with Best Picture, I think I’ll put down Crash and hope to win my pool in an upset.

What I’m excited and worried about is Jon Stewart. Will he be his sharp, skewering self or will the Academy have watered him down? I hope he goes for it – screw getting asked back next year. Will the man who tore bloody strips off the hosts of Crossfire be Hollywood’s monkey? I can only hope not.

But until then, and because I still find some of these funny, here is more from Jokeback Mountain:

1.) Brokeback Mountain in 30 Seconds (and Reenacted by Bunnies). Get the rest of the brilliant Bunnies oeuvre here.2.) Lego Brokeback Mountain -- if it’s good enough for the White Stripes, it’s good enough for Brokeback. Make sure to watch the slideshow.
3.) Low Culture traces the history of Brokeback Mountains, from their origins in Egyptian hieroglyphics to today. Love it.

Trailer Trash Orgy

Trust me, I would have far preferred pics of the women.I was resisting talking about the Scott Stapp/Kid Rock sex tape, mostly because it’s really not the kind of imagery I want in my noggin.

But they are making it waaaay to easy.

First off we’ve got Stapp, the former lead singer God’s own grunge band Creed, claiming that someone is out to destroy him. Somehow the tape that he made and himself and Kid Rock entertaining some female fans (otherwise know as strippers) made it into the hands of a nasty internet porn dealer.

"Obviously, someone wants to hurt me, and doesn't want me to be successful in my solo career," Stapp told AP Radio, who says the taped romp was stolen from him. "I should have burned that tape."

What kind of person do you need to be to let that get away from you? "[Stapp] is the idiot because it's out," said Kid Rock to AP, stating what everyone was thinking. "I'm holding him responsible." Rock has also had his lawyers block the release, in case you were hoping to see it.

Mostly it’s just celebs doing the stupid things they do – like the way starlets can’t keep their tops on while traversing red carpets. But then Rock added something that rang true: :What perfect timing. I got a record coming up ... Maybe I should thank him."

And there we have it. It’s the public relations strategy of choice: self-promotion through self-humiliation.

Curse of the Friends

We'll be successful forever. Right? Right?Forget the Seinfeld curse, that’s so early 2000s. The question now, is there a Friends curse?

We already know that Jennifer Aniston’s post-Friends, post-Brad film career is on a steady, downward spiral.

And of course there was the laugh-free Friends spin-off Joey, which has less chance of returning to air than Arrested Development. New episodes are about to air, but on Tuesday’s opposite American Idol. It’s as good as gone.

Aniston’s TV paramour, Ross (David Schwimmer), has all but disappeared. He did some voice work for Madagascar and, umm, that’s it really.

Lisa Kudrow, the only one with any acting chops, tried a comeback in the unfortunately named Comeback, which wasn’t. It’s already been cancelled.

That leaves Matthew Perry and Courtney Cox. The former TV couple both have new shows in the works. Perry will play a writer on Aaron Sorkin's new NBC drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. The show centers on the behind-the-scenes action on the set of a fictional SNL-style sketch comedy show. It’s got a shot with Sorkin, the creator of The West Wing and Sports Night, on board. I’ll reserve judgment.

Cox is going the if you can’t beat ‘em, taunt ‘em route. She will play a celebrity tabloid editor in Dirt. I expect a fair and evenhanded take on the subject. It’s on the FX cable channel and a drama, so maybe there will be lots of swearing and nudity. Who knows.

But if there is truly a Friends curse it’s that they are all out working so soon after the end of their 10-season sitcom. Isn’t it still on in daily reruns? Weren’t they making $1 million each per episode in the last season? Why the hell are they working at all? Are they already out of cash?