Mel & Lindsay: Teflon or Toast?

When Popped Culture first asked me to be one of his guest editors this week, I was thrilled. (Actually, I was jealous. How come he gets to spend another week lounging around at the cottage while I'm stuck here in Smog City? Lazy bastard!) But then – after I stopped fantasizing about hiding an mp3 player that looped Jessica Simpson's "A Public Affair" under his hammock – I began to appreciate the opportunity. Finally, a chance to step away from my own celebrity-obsessed blog (which, don't get me wrong, I adore – but there's only so much a gal can say about Paris Hilton nipple slips) and write about groundbreaking, important entertainment trends. Is YouTube killing the traditional broadcast network model? Is the hype around Miami Vice and Snakes on a Plane proof that movie critics no longer matter? Which of the TV pilots that I've been lucky enough to screen are worth watching this fall?

Alas, it's not to be. Despite my initial protests, I'm going to have to follow my gut and lay a big ol' slab of celebrity gossip on ya. (It's my gift - it's my curse.) I mean, what kind of guest editor would I be if I failed to address the two biggest stories of the day – Mel Gibson's DUI arrest and Lindsay Lohan's public scolding?

We all know the details by now. Gibson got pulled over by the cops last week and reportedly proceeded to resist arrest, complain that his life is "f*cked up," refer to a female police officer as "sugar t*ts," make unbelievably anti-Semitic comments, threaten the arresting officer, warn that he was going to urinate on the floor of his jail cell, refuse to sign the necessary paperwork, and attempt to break a telephone. (Whew! Finger cramp!)

As for La-Lohan, a movie executive finally called her out for being "discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional" on the set of her new flick, where she was too sick to work but well enough to party every night.

The big question that's on everybody's lips today: have these two megastars just committed career suicide? The answer: hells no!

When it comes to Lindsay, producers already know what they're getting themselves into when they offer her roles. They're not signing her because she has immense Oscar-calibre talent, a stellar work ethic, or a misstep-free resume. They're signing her because she's Lindsay freakin' Lohan! A vapid stick insect of a girl who is guaranteed to be in the press every single day which, good or bad, keeps their movie in the press every single day. I mean, had anyone even heard of Georgia Rules before this? Even the nasty letter-writing producer seems to have softened his stance towards our beloved Firecrotch today.

As for dear old Melly Mel, that's a little more complex. He'll inevitably come out of this smelling like Vatican-grown roses, but Hollywood has to keep up this horrified, outraged pretense for a while longer. So the Anti-Defamation League will continue to issue "Gibson Made Jesus Cry" statements, ABC will pretend to back away from his Holocaust project, and execs behind his upcoming Apocalypto flick will hold off on the publicity push until the backlash dies down. And it will die down. Because, let's face it, Gibson's arrest didn't tell us anything we didn't already know. Oh my god, Mel's crazy! Holy crap, he treats women like shit! Dear lord, he's anti-Semitic! Pul-eeze. Anyone who caught a little flick called The Passion of the Christ could have told you that.

So Mel and Linds, like countless other celebrities before them, will continue to act like complete and total assholes, and we the consumers will continue to forgive and support them. They're Teflon, baby. The scandal stink just don't stick.


The One Equals Zero

After only two episodes The One: The Making of a Music Star is no more and CBC It Boy George Stroumboulopoulos can pull his motorbike out of storage and get back to his vacation.

ABC pulled the plug after ratings started in the shitter and went down from there. I really don’t know why they expected differently To quote The Simpsons: “These are the people who saw an overcrowded marketplace and said, ‘Me too!’" Here in Canada, on the night CBC aired The One, you could also watch Canadian Idol on CTV and Rockstar: Supernova on Global and they are all essentially the same show.

There was a lot of fuss when the CBC picked up the simulcast and bumped The National, with a lot of wailing and hair pulling over whether or not the mother corp should even be running reality shows. Stroumboulopoulos argued during an interview on Sounds Like Canada that if Canadians are watching reality shows, shouldn’t the national broadcaster be involved. Maybe so, but if so maybe they should aim for something more original than some wannabe rock stars grasping for the stars.

Anyway, I’m sure none of this will stick to Strombo and we’ll soon see him back on The Hour where he can do more than cut to commercial. And hopefully the CBC will drop any plans to run a Canadian version of The One – leave that to Idol.

Once More, With Feeling

Countless numbers of new sitcoms and dramas are produced every year and then never see the light of day. For the most part, that is probably a good thing, based on the garbage that gets aired.

Of course who’s to say the network execs have made the right choices on what to give the green light to and what to leave on the heap? (See the above comment.) But TV pilots now have a new place to live in the world.

Last week NBC announced that it was reviving a failed WB sitcom called Nobody’s Watching after it made a splash online. The pilot, which never aired, was uploaded to YouTube and started garnering attention and the network came calling, first on the web and maybe even on TV eventually.

But it’s not just old sitcoms showing up online. The unaired pilot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has shown up on YouTube and it’s cool to see the very beginnings of the show and what it evolved from. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendon and Charisma Carpenter are all their but Willow is not played by Alyson Hannigan. Anyway check it out in all it’s grainy goodness, but be warned it’s 25 minutes long.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The problem I have (ok one of them) with Canadian and American Idol is the songs. More often than not the contestants appear to be singing to their parents, maybe even their grandparents – anything but their own generation. It just never seems to fit. Of course who am I dispute the numbers – the No. 1 show in Canada, millions of views in the U.S., etc., etc. The producers clearly know what they are up to.

That being said, when I got the opportunity to attend Monday’s taping of the top nine performances, I was intrigued by the theme – the music of The Rolling Stones. The Stones? I guess it’s a long time since they were considered dangerous, something driven home to me when I saw their music linked to the Multigrain Honey Nut Cheerios recap. But hey, good music is good music.

Beats me how CTV managed to snag the rights to plunder the Stones back catalogue, but the band announced their plans for a North American tour today, less than 24 hours after their hour-long tribute by some of the most visible singers in Canada. Probably just a coincidence.

While most of these kids probably only knew who the Stones are and not their music, they are actually around the same age Mick Jagger and Keith Richards started the band. With a band playing some of the best rock music ever written, all the singers had to do was not screw up their song and they were golden.

I don’t really have the desire to recap the show, so if you’d like a song-by-song analysis, check out Reality News Online and Foxes on Idol, who both do a good job summing it up. What I did find interesting is the difference between watching the show on TV and seeing the songs performed live. There really is energy in the theatre, with over 1,000 people screaming and cheering each song. Sure, the staff does everything to hype up the crowd before the show and during the commercials, but there is genuine excitement in the air. I’ve always thought the judges are too soft on the singers, but I can see how they can get caught up in the moment. We were up in the balcony, but it was still bigger than the small screen. I even resisted tossing my gum at Ben Mulroney’s well-coifed hair.

So how’d they do? So-so. Eva Avila’s version of "Wild Horses" was powerful and Steffi D’s "Miss You" was quirky fun. The others were okay and, because I’m foolhardy, I’ll take a stab at the bottom three: Sarah Loverock’s "I Got the Blues", Chad Doucette’s "You Can’t Always Get What You Want" and Brandon Jones will be going home courtesy of his painful version of "Jumping Jack Flash." We’ll see tonight if I know what I'm talking about.

Well, what the hell do I know? The bottom three were Ashley Coulter, Steffi D. and Sarah Loverock. Sarah was sent home and I'm 1/3 for my picks. I admit that I haven't followed the season very closely, so I don't know who the crowd faves are, but based on the performances the voters don't know what they are doing. But I would think that, wouldn't I?


Tom Cruise just can’t win. I find it odd to be feeling sympathetic towards world famous bazillionaire, but circus surrounding the whereabouts (or indeed, even existence) of little Suri Cruise has become absurd.

It has been over three months Suri was born (bought/came out of the test tube/ fell to earth) and still the clamouring public has yet to see Katie Holmes and Tom’s spawn. Does she exist? Was Katie just wearing an ever-expanding pillow around? Is it because Suri looks as much like Tom as Blanket does to Michael Jackson? These are some of the increasingly outlandish claims surrounding Scientology’s chosen couple.

Now I enjoy conspiracy theories and making fun of celebs as much as the next person, but I think the circus surrounding the non-existent pics is a little much. When Tom turned into a couch-jumping, propose-at-the-Eiffel-Tower lunatic, everyone wondered why the previously press savvy star all of a sudden couldn’t find a camera he didn’t love. His public respect began dipping in direct relation to how much face time he received.

Cut to a year later and the couple is now being camera shy with their baby and everyone wants to know why. Jolie and Pitt trot out their little one for $4.1 million and everyone swans over Baby’s First Invasion of privacy. Meanwhile when Tom and Katie’s kid doesn’t grace the tabloids, people speculate their price wasn’t met. Maybe, just maybe, they’ve decided their baby doesn’t need to be exposed to the public curiosity fuelled paparazzi cameras. Nah, that can’t be it. Kid must look like an alien.

(Wonderful X-Files mashup poster from The Art Pitt.)

More Filler

Seeing as I released The Hoff (below) I figure there may be a few people feeling down and confused. So why not channel those feelings into a blues song? Don't know how? That's what desktopblues is for. In just a few minutes you'll be ramblin' and rollin' those blues away. trust me, it's addictive. This has been around for a bit, but as the TV tells me, "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you."


People keep landing here looking for "Jump In My Car," the latest horrifying video from David "The Hoff" Hasselhoff. So who am I to judge? Umm, enjoy?

It's Like Being Low

I came face to face with nostalgia last night and I’m not sure what to make of it. I went to see Cracker and they put on a fantastic show, but even though they were promoting a new album it was, to some extent, a greatest hits performance.

That’s to be expected seeing as they began recording back in 1992 and their biggest album, Kerosene Hat, was released in 1993. It was those songs that got the crowd going, and when they started in on Eurotrash Girl everyone picked it up a notch, singing along, hands in the air. I was right there with them, as it’s a song that places me right back in the time that I first heard them.

Of course that seemed to be the case for the whole crowd. A lot of the looked like they hadn’t been to a concert in years and were reliving “the good years,” pumping their beers in the air, while trying not to spill any on their loafers and khakis. Even lead sing David Lowery had to put on his reading glasses to read his playlist off his Mac laptop.

It was an odd experience – I wasn’t drinking, nor, umm, smoking. In fact it was so smoke-free they had to keep pumping out the dry ice to make the lights work. I’ve never been a smoker and shed no tears over smoking bans, but it does seem odd at concerts.

As I watched, I was thinking about university, about earlier times I saw them play and whether I was only ever going to see any current bands in concert. I know I could, I just don’t. Again, it was a fantastic show, but the waves of nostalgia were just too much.

The One's Not The One

I said that I would watch The One: Making a Music Star and now that the unpleasantness is over, I can hopefully erase it from my brain and never speak of it again.

Too harsh? I think not. First off, what was the show? It had all the reality competition elements in line:
Desperately needy singers needing the validation of fame? Check
Standard three-person judging panel, consisting of two men and a woman of varying insider knowledge? Check.
Live audience cheering on performances of songs 10 to 20 years older than themselves. Check.
Slick host with extremely long name? Double check. More on him later.

There was also some Survivor with everyone living together (but not much backstabbing); some Big Brother (but not much heat); and generous helpings of Idol.

The reason I tuned in, as I alluded to, was due to the hosting of George Stroumboulopoulos, the host of CBC’s The Hour. It is unusual to see a Canadian to talk the helm of a big U.S. show, but it may be too bad that this was the one he landed. Strombo was his usual slick self, decked out in head-to-toe black, moving the show along with his trademark motor mouth ways. Sadly, he had very little opportunity to shape the show in his own image, just introducing the singers and segueing between commercials, duties that can be handled by any Seacrest or Mulroney. Maybe this will change, but I don’t plan to find out.

The problem is, nobody could sing. As with all other reality singing contests, they covered songs they wouldn’t ever listen to themselves while showing off vocal theatrics best left to the Mariah’s of this world. The judges of course gushed endlessly after each mini-song, claiming each of them to potentially be The One,” while giving them heavy life lessons during pre-taped segments. They will help decide who stays and goes, but my PVR didn’t tape last night’s episode so I don’t know who got the boot and I don’t find myself caring.

It appears not many others did either, with just 236,000 Canadian viewers. After all the consternation over The One bumping The National for an hour, the news program more than doubled that audience. In the States it picked up 3.2 million viewers, only good enough for fifth in its time slot.

I don’t know who will become The One, but I know this show isn’t it.

Snakes On My Brain

"I've had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!" That about sums it up for me. I seem to be one of few people who isn’t looking forward to seeing Snakes on a Plane, the internet-fuelled, so-bad-it’s-good film that isn’t coming out for another month. The hype has been building for over a year, but has increased to a deafening roar in the past few months.

The concept is, as the title bluntly states, about snakes. On a plane. Of course that doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, which appears more about indulging in a schlock fest of a film than caring about the plot. This is, of course, a fine endeavor – who doesn’t enjoy a painfully bad movie every once and awhile?

What has annoyed me is how excitement (and thereby attendance) about SOAP is turning into a pop culture must. Sites like Defamer and Cinematical, among others, have added to the hype, Entertainment Weekly runs continual updates, an indie-centric soundtrack is being released and you can even buy a $170 gold pendant modeled after the film’s snake-circled plane logo. It’s like a hipster pile on – I haven’t encountered so much peer pressure since high school. It may have started as a fan joke, but it is now in the realm of blockbuster marketing.

Which leads me to the real problem: how can you deliberately manufacture a bad film? Bad films happen by accident. Low budgets, wooden acting, paper-thin scripts can all doom a flick, but how many writers/directors/producers start out thinking “Man, this is gonna SUCK!” But that’s exactly why people are planning to see SOAP – they expect it to stink.

When I first saw Johnny Mnemonic in a theatre, people walked out. Keanu Reeves gave the most stilted delivery since Captain Kirk, making it laugh out loud funny. I always tell people it’s the best comedy I’ve seen. Of course it wasn’t supposed to be. It’s now a prime example of the so-bad-it’s-good genre, the kind of bad that is earned, not bestowed in advance. SOAP is being given cult film status before anyone has seen it screened, with people expected to show up with rubber snakes at the screenings like some sort of 21st century Rocky Horror Picture Show. Pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman calls it “reverse irony.”

You can tell the marketing has gotten out of hand now that the studio is going to keep the film under wraps from critics. This is the usual method for hiding a terrible film before word of mouth kills it. But word of mouth already is that the film is terrible, that being the whole point. Are they just trying to convince the target audience?

My hope is that this is all just a colossal joke on the movie studio – a huge prank to see what hoops web geeks can get focus group obsessed filmmakers and youth targeting marketing departments to jump through. With any luck, the theatres will all be empty on the opening weekend and all the “fans” will be at home laughing. Now that would be cool.

Harry Potter & the Idle Speculation

There are deaths afoot in the wizarding world. As author J.K. Rowling works on the final installment of the hugely popular Harry Potter series, there is much speculation on who won’t survive past the book’s final chapter.

"A price has to be paid, we are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras do they? They go for the main characters ... well, I do. This is a world where some pretty nasty things can happen," Rowling told Britain's Channel 4 late last month.

So who will Rowling decide to obliterate in her final tome? There’s nothing like a week at the cottage to indulge in some idle speculation:

Harry Potter is an obvious choice – he’s the centre of the series and the mortal enemy of Lord Voldemort, but would she really kill off the hero? We know there will be a final battle between Harry and Voldemort, as it has been prophesied: ..and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives...

Of course Rowling would have to have quite the nerve to kill off such an iconic hero, but perhaps she has a higher plan. Maybe Harry will die in his final battle with capital E evil, sacrificing himself for the many, a Christ figure for the wizard world. But would she go that far? We figure Harry will win and go on to live happily ever after. After all, this is a fairytale, so why would Rowling shock her young audience?

Which bring us to Voldemort. He’s the most likely to die as he is Harry’s antagonist and the symbol of evil in the wizarding world. Harry’s the good guy fighting evil, doesn’t that always win? Right?

But with such a balance between good and evil going on in this world of the wizard, can one live without the other? Do both of them have to go? Could Harry take on all of Voldemort’s power if he kills him? Does that make it more likely Harry will become a wizard with a darker side because of this, or does he become some wizarding legend that people are in awe and fear of forever? In the end he could wind up being as isolated now as he’s always been, perhaps that’s his fate. But back to death and destruction…

Hermione Granger – Why would Rowling kill off one of the strongest female characters, particularly when she’s suggested Hermione is somewhat molded after her. However, Rowling could decide she dies in some heroic act to save one of her friends, but it still seems unlikely.

Ron Weasley – he’s Harry’s best buddy, so would Rowling kill off such a fundamental character? Knocking off Ron would almost be as shocking as killing Harry himself. Fare more likely would be one of the extended Weasley clan:
Ginny: she’s already survived one attack, could she survive another? But c’mon, don’t we know Harry and Ginny are destined to end up together, making him a permanent part of the Weasley family, if he isn’t already;
Ron’s parents – his mom or his dad are targets because they protect and nurture Harry, and they’re part of the Order of the Phoenix;
Fred & George – if you kill off a twin, there’s another one left.;
Percy – he’s made enemies on both sides – he’s a misguided bureaucrat who blindly follows the rules even when they no longer make any sense; or will Rowling redeem him?

Professor Severus Snape – The former Dark Arts teacher who appears like he just killed Dumbledore is likely marked for death by the Order of the Phoenix. But is Dumbledore really dead or does his spirit lives on, à la Obi Wan Kenobi

Draco Malfoy – Come on, who doesn’t want to see the little twerp dead? Rowling has also warned the little girls that are in awe of the blonde guy not to get too attached to him; he’s just an evil little shit.

Hagrid – It would be shocking to fans to kill off the big, bumbling, kind oaf, but many have it out for him and he’s so devoted to Harry and his friends. He would throw himself in the way of trouble to save them and it may just happen. It would pack enough of an emotional punch without taking out a major, major character.

Professor Minerva McGonagall – She is the most senior member of the Order of the Phoenix and potentially running the school with Dumbledore gone. She’s powerful and therefore marked. But if she goes, what kind of lesson is it to leave kids when almost all of the teachers are either evil or dead?

Of course Rowling is talking about two characters that she didn’t intend to die when she was writing. Who knows how many will be gone when the bloodbath is over.

P.S. - thanks to my guest bloggers for their fine work at helm of Popped Culture. Make sure to check out Nikki over at Nik at Nite. As for Bert, he has yet to enter the blogosphere, but I still have hope.

More fame please coach

Pseudo-editor’s note: With Jeremy out of town he has given his friends the keys to his blog. Silly Jeremy. Today’s entry comes from Bert Foley, the guy who didn’t walk right for a week after trying a Dukes of Hazzard exit from Jeremy’s car.

As someone who follows sports more than pop culture, I’m intrigued by the athletes who try to cross over. It seems the rule of direct disproportion applies - the more an athlete wants to be famous for a non-sporting talent, the bigger the failure. Shaquille O’Neal is a good example. From the time he entered the NBA in 1992, Shaq spent his off seasons recording rap albums and convincing studios to let him star in feature presentations such as Blue Chips, Shazaam, and Steel (where he’s also credited as an executive producer. What, exactly, does this say about studios?).

You could argue that professional sports are so widely known that athletes are already part of the pop culture universe. Fair enough. But even then, sometimes they do things that catapult them beyond their own sport.

OJ Simpson is the example of course. Quick quiz for anyone born after 1980 – why was OJ famous before he (ok, allegedly) killed his wife? Football. Good on you – Fox News must still mention that he played. Now name the most prestigious record he set in the NFL. You see, this is what he used to be known for in the public consciousness. He set a single-season rushing record in 1973 with 2003 yards. Oh, and he used to have an acting career that included roles in a Hertz commercial, The Towering Inferno, Roots, and the Naked Gun movies. Take that Shaq. And OJ was considered for the lead role in The Terminator but was thought of as too nice. Go figure.

Which brings us to the latest instalment of Athletes Who Wished They Were Still Known Just As An Athlete.

Bienvenue Zinedine Zidane. Mr. Zidane, of course, is the captain of the French soccer team who head butted an opponent in the chest with minutes left in the final of the World Cup. He is a brilliant player who was having a tremendous tournament until the moment he snapped. In fact, despite his WWE manoeuvre, he was still named the best player of the World Cup. Apparently the Italian captain’s suplex was sub-par even though his futbol was otherworldly.

Given soccer’s lack of status in North America I was keen to see how Zidane’s actions would rank on our pop-culture-o-meter. Turns out it was really high. Not only was it front-page news across North America the day after the final, but the continuing soap opera about who said what and who’s sorry for what was said has continued to get massive ink. Within a day of the final I received this game, which lacks flair, but kills a minute quite nicely. And Zidane has been the water cooler fodder du jour with people actually having an opinion about a soccer match. Or at least the head butting part. Bravo soccer, you finally got the average North American to notice.

As a fan of the sport I feel sorry for the place Zidane has now secured in pop culture, but he brought it on himself. It’s well known that he’s very proud of his family and that the Italian head buttee called his mother and/or sister (ok, allegedly) a whore. Zidane played in the Italian league, so the Italian players are well aware of his pride. They decided to attack it and he should have been prepared and known better. Failing to do so has given Zidane the level of fame in North America that David Beckham only dreams of, but with it comes a shame even worse than being a former Spice Girl.

Oh my, like, GOD, I'm like, totally, like NOT a top model

Hello! This is not Jeremy, this is his pal Nikki Stafford. I'm guest writing for today while he's up at a cottage enjoying the sun and heat and swimming and... wait a minute, why am I doing this again? Oh yeah, I need to RANT about Canada's Next Top Model (I came up with a topic I figured Jeremy would never post about in a million years). This Canuck version of Tyra's skin-and-bones fest that I will admit I am completely addicted to is shorter (only 8 weeks), lower budget, but still features Number Six from Battlestar Galactica as the Tyra, which is cool. It also stars Jeanne Beker as The Joker, which is always, uh, interesting to watch.

So here's my beef: While I actually think this is a fairly entertaining version of its American cousin, it has had this one completely inappropriate person on there from the beginning -- Alanna. What the hell is this girl STILL doing on in the final three?? They narrowed the field of contestants down to 10 (the original submissions probably totaled 64, although I'm sure if Donald Trump were helming it he'd say 50 million Canadians entered), and then one of the finalists got sick or lost her cat or something, so in came Number 11, Alanna. This girl uses the word "like" in a way that should be deemed illegal, has no personality, and has the facial features of a thumb. And yet, so many girls (including my beloved Ylenia) are gone, and this dimwit remains. On this week's episode, she made fun of Andrea's clothes (and apparently hasn't looked in a mirror recently), found her stash of candy and called it disturbing, and looked for Andrea's diary, because that's what 20somethings do when their roommates leave the house. Cripes. She's hooked up with Brandi as her new BFF, even though Brandi's serious alcohol problem means she probably doesn't remember Alanna from one day to the next. She goes to the photo shoots and never knows what to say to anyone, "Like, okay, am I like supposed to, like, step up on this, like, treadmill thing?" Then she does, opens her mouth, and tilts her head back while her Square Peg hair takes over as the focus of the shot. "Um, like, why are they making us dress in, like, these '80s clothes? Wasn't that, like a hundred years ago or something? Who is Olivia Newman John?"

So I'm sitting here thinking, OK, FINALLY, this girl is going home. YES! And then Brandi goes and pours milk all over herself like some dairy porn star, and so the prayers begin. Please let Number Six and the guy with the facelift and the Joker and Stacey Deep Throat see Alanna for the NON-top model material she is... but alas, it was not meant to be. She should have gone home in week ONE. Then maybe my Ylenia, who is apparently FAR too fat in her size 4 jeans, would still have a chance.

I know who I'm NOT rooting for, that's for sure. While I think Andrea is adorable, and her makeover was possibly the most stunning of any makeover I've seen on Top Model (U.S. or Canuck), I worry about her apparent anorexia and what message it would send to people watching the show. That said, I hate the hypocrisy of the judges to tell her to beef up right after telling Ylenia to slim down... I think Sisi is interesting, and I really like her photos (she reminds me of Bjork), and frankly, I think she had a bit of a point when she was telling Miss Diva to stop drying her frickin' hair at 1:30 in the morning. But her fake coughing and way too skinny body (I mean, come on, did ANYONE find Sisi or Andrea sexy at all in those bikinis??) and ego might keep her out.

Which brings us to Alanna. She just cannot win. She's not interesting, I don't like her photos, she hasn't progressed at all, I have no idea why the judges smoke crack right before looking at her portfolio every week and declare it GROUNDBREAKING, but I seriously hope they stop before the finale. If she wins, I'm never watching either Next Top Model AGAIN...**

**Nikki makes no guarantees of anything she says in the midst of reality television rage. She has her own blog over at, though she only started it yesterday so there's really not much there...

CBC Beckons Cool

What’s gotten into the CBC these days? They are coming across all hipstery (at least some of the time). I’m up at the cottage again (hence my lackadaisical posting – dialup sucks) and listening to a lot of CBC Radio One. The flagship show Sounds Like Canada is being guest-hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, host of the National Playlist and former frontman of Moxy Fruvous and his Canada sounds a lot cooler than I’m used to hearing on the national broadcaster.

Yesterday, after our morning dip, he interviewed Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy, who has been short listed for the Polaris music prize for his album He Poos Clouds. Pallett is also responsible for arranging the string section for Montreal’s Arcade Fire, giving him a hipster trifecta. Mainstream Canada likely didn’t know what hit them.

Today Jian – who once serenaded me with Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” – was talking to two members of Montreal’s The Stills about their latest album. They are best know for their fantastic album Logic Will Break Your Heart, of which several songs ended up on Zach Braff’s Garden State soundtrack. Even they were arguing that they aren’t all that well known.

Tomorrow alt-country superstar and member of Vancouver’s New Pornographers, Neko Case, will be on the show talking about her latest album. Very cool. It’s good to see the CBC assuming that there are more than just parents listening to them, and while I’m no youngster I’m pleased to hear music that is often relegated to college stations getting a coast-to-coast airing.

On a related note, seems CBC TV is following through on the trend and have seconded designated hipster and The Hour host George Stroumboulopoulos to ABC to host their reality music show, The One: Making a Music Star. This is the Idol-esque show that they are simulcasting and pushing Peter Mansbridge and The National out of the way for. When its run is over, a Canadian version will air, doubtlessly to be hosted by Stroumbo, despite protestations that there are no plans in the works.

I don’t know how successful yet another music reality show will be, but letting the charismatic Stroumbo take the reins at least gives it a shot. It starts next Tuesday, so I’ll at least tune in for the opener.

(Speaking of guest hosts, I may have one or two over the next couple of days. Play nice with them.)

007: Licence to Publicize

Forget the Walthur PPK and the Aston Martin, the greatest gadget issued to James Bond appears to be an extremely efficient PR agent. Despite the fact Casino Royale will not hit theatres until November 17, I have read multiple articles about the filming, Daniel Craig and other 007 related subjects.

Apropos of nothing, new Bond girl Caterina Murino, who play Solonge, has chimed in on the debate over the blonde Bond: "Daniel is giving to this James Bond something else we never saw before. When he's going to kill someone, he looks like a real killer. When he kisses me, when he makes love, he's so sexy."

Um, good to know. I have been solidly on the side of refreshing the Bond franchise and think Craig is a good choice, including the controversy that he has stirred among some of the more rabid fans. If the producers had chosen someone who pleased everyone and could slip into the tux without notice, than there would hardly be much material to drum up publicity for our moribund hero.

But how else to generate some more attention for the series? Why not give one of the world’s greatest self-promoters, Sir Richard Branson, a cameo? "James Bond is original, cool and sophisticated - just like an airline I know. Virgin Atlantic is delighted to be a global partner of the new James Bond movie, Casino Royale, and I'm just a little excited to be playing a cameo in the film." I’m sure that won’t be the last he has to say about it.

In a kinda related story, Sean Connery is writing a book about Scotland. While it has nothing to do with Bond, anything he touches will make mention of it. He could cure cancer and his eulogy would still make reference to him as one of, if not the greatest, James Bond.

Previous Bond Rants: Pop Culture Lobbyists, The Spy Who We Love, 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

Can’t See the Forest for the Cure

The Forest is the best song The Cure ever recorded. This revelation came to me when it played on my iPod while sitting up at the cottage, which is not a very Cure-ish place to be.

That would be typical of my relationship with The Cure. I never looked much like Robert Smith, I didn’t dye my hair black or wear eyeliner and lipstick (ok, maybe once). But I was a huge fan in high school despite not buying into the look. I wore a tour shirt (the Kissing Tour, I think) and had a couple of goth kids (well, that’s what you’d call them know) came up and challenged me, figuring I was a poser. When I ended my list of Cure albums by telling them about my vinyl import copy of the British-only release of Three Imaginary Boys, they walked away apologizing.

The Cure was one of my pop culture obsessions – there have been many: The Simpsons, They Might Be Giants, parody films, etc. – and I went full-on collector on them. Singles, posters, interview discs (remember them?) But back to The Forest, which captures them at their gloomy best. Of course don’t take my word for it, watch it above, recreated in Lego.

Pop culture mashups and YouTube – my new obsession.

Essentially Old

Hip, but not EssentialCanadian musicians haven’t recorded anything worth commemorating since 1970. That is if you accept the Toronto Star’s list of the 10 Essentially Canadian songs published over the long weekend.

I exaggerate of course – they included Leonard Cohen’s "Hallelujah" from 1985, but he was also listed for 1966’s "Suzanne" and I think can be fairly placed as a singer from the ‘60s. Of the 10, eight were recorded between 1962 and 1970, with 1643’s "Huron Carol" filling out the list.

So no Tragically Hip, Sloan, Rush, Barenaked Ladies, Shania Twain, Nickelback or Avril Lavigne. Nor is there anything from one of the hottest music scenes in the world, including Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, The New Pornographers, Metric, Stars or Wolf Parade, to name a few.

Now I know how and why these lists are created – they get people buzzing and doing exactly what I am doing – so I feel a little bit manipulated in responding, but I couldn’t resist. The reason? It appears they just gave up on the music list, and they more or less admit it:
"The further back we went in time, the easier it was to find consensus, which probably accounts for the omission of any song written after 1985. The panellists pushed for the inclusion of songs written after that time, but there didn't seem to be any agreement about which of the more recent songs were worthy."
They couldn’t agree on one Hip song? That band in more Canadian than Stompin’ Tom, the quintessential example of ‘big in Canada, mostly unknown elsewhere.’ Their songs appear on homegrown TV shows and films, but the Star’s panel ignores them. Same would apply to Sloan.

What about the artists who made it in the U.S., which often equates to Canadian success? I may not be a fan of Bryan Adams, Shania, Nickelback or Avril, but I can’t ignore their impact, but I appear alone in that conviction. I’m not suggesting that the list be filled with contemporary artists, but I can’t believe they could create one where eight of the songs came from an eight year period.