Harry Connick Jr.
JB: You haven’t heard any of his records in years, in decades. Neither have I, nor would I want to. Let me tell you this, he dropped a big bomb on American idol. I mean that as a positive. He said this one amazing, revealing thing when a hopeful started getting ambitious with the melisma. J.Lo was ready to gush and Connick remarked — and I’m paraphrasing — that some people get caught up in the smoke and mirrors of pentatonics. I, of course, thought he was talking about the group from The Sing Off. But he went on to lecture J.Lo ( whose people are going to have to hide from her the fact that she comes off dumb as jam when she attempts to discuss music in terms beyond “I liked it”) that there are 12 notes and pentatonics are the 5 go-to notes favored by every pop and r&b singer who auditions for Idol. His point, missed by J.Lo and ladyfaced Keith Urban, is that singing shows have indoctrinated the nation’s hopefuls into over-singing like crazy without making them aware that the record-buying public, such as it is, doesn’t particularly respond to vocal hysteria. Look at iTunes. Does Lorde hit huge screeching notes? Does Rihanna or Ellie Goulding? Adele doesn’t. Gaga doesn’t. Miley doesn’t. Pink doesn’t. Kelly Clarkson doesn’t. Taylor Swift can’t. Beyonce, obviously, does but she makes her own rules. Or the cult that secretly controls her every move does. My point being, these singers have at least a hint of originality about them. They have recognizable voices. Which means they don’t have to indulge in vocal calisthenics to beg for attention.
Just the fact that Harry Connick was able to make that statement — and fire shots at the still warm corpse of Randy Jackson by deriding `pitchy’ as a meaningless word — makes me want to stick around until the live shows.
JB: I remember reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and there was this whole bit where she was rhapsodizing over the powerhouse lineup of women during her SNL stint and how liberating it was to see the end of sketches where Chris Kattan was shoved into a dress and wig. “Yeah,” I thought, “but they still make Kenan Thompson drag up.” That situation remained a blot on the SNL landscape until Jay Pharoah publicly shamed his employers — and Kenan accidentally embarrassed them by declaring there were no black female comics ready for the show. Lorne Michaels having his hand forced into hiring his first black female cast member in seven years was an embarrassing situation and puts his potential hires under the kind of pressure the rest of the cast never suffer. Is she playing stereotypes? Is she forced into demeaning roles? How many sketches is she featured in? How often is she the target of the joke? Questions that were never aimed at Rob Schneider.
I heard Sasheer Zamata on Julie Klausner’s podcast a week before it was announced she was SNL’s new cast member. She was delight on the show and the snippets of her web show and stand-up I watched already had me in her corner. Even though she was more of a steady presence than a breakout star on her first show, Drake — giving it his all even when the writing left him high and dry — paid her due respect.
Season 3, Episode 3 of Girls
LM: Miles better than eps 1 and 2. There was Adam’s nutjob biter of a sister as played by Gaby Hoffmann complete with super-furry eyebrows and merkin (at least I hope that thing was fake). And Marnie’s mortifying Auto-tuned-to-death music video for Edie Brickell’s “What I Am,” followed by her cringe-worthy serenading of “birthday bitch” Hannah with a song from Rent. Plus, Hannah and Adam dancing to my favorite New Order song and Ray getting drunk to a Smashing Pumpkins one (before the DJ switched to that “piece of shit song”). Please let there be way more where this came from.
JB: The Mindy Project is massively improved this season but they keep writing party episodes that never work. They’re horribly edited and choreographed and usually climax in bad slapstick. This was a masterclass in how to do a party episode. Also a masterclass in music supervision. Props to (checks IMDB) Manish Raval and Tom Wolfe.
JB: I watched True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club this week. Has one actor ever turned it around the way he has? Probably yes. But for the purposes of this paragraph, no. Has anyone who starred in stuff How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days and Failure To Launch ever ventured so deep into the dark side. Even if you never managed to make it through Killer Joe, even if you’ve never had the worked up the courage to watch The Paperboy — aptly described as “Tennessee Williams takes a shit” — the sight of McConnaughey’s cold dead eyes in the HBO show and his likely Best Actor shot will make you wonder what the transformative incident was that changed him from a vapid romantic comedy lead to a tortured soul who stares death in the face and never blinks.
LM: The only other person I can think of who had a similar career trajectory is Heath Ledger, who went fromTen Things I Hate About You to a post-humous Oscar nod for his disturbing turn as the Joker. As for McConnaughey, he even shone in The Wolf of Wall Street among the embarrassment of riches that is Scorcese, Leo and Jonah Hill. He was the signpost that showed where the movie was actually going.
Jonah Hill’s nomination
LM: Say it out loud: Two-time Academy Award Nominee Jonah Hill. While I still harbor a 1990s crush on Jared Catalano, I would love to see Hill snag that Oscar.
JB: Knocked Up boosted everyone’s career: Hill, Rogen, Jason Segel, Martin Starr. Ken Jeong works all the time, so does Martin Starr. Kristen Wiig got Bridesmaids out of her tiny supporting role. You know the only person whose career didn’t blast off like a rocket? Katherine Heigl. The female lead. Who hated the film. Hated the way women were portrayed as shrews. Burned her bridges. Went on to make 27 Dresses.
Bill Murray’s Reddit
JB: Jerry Seinfeld did one two weeks ago and his joy at being asked smart questions by interested individuals was palpable. Same with Murray. No two words answers or can’t-be-bothered quips (Vince Vaughn). Bill Murray gave long rambling, sometimes funny, sometimes earnest answers and went into greater detail about a previously-told story of taking on the role of Garfield. because he thought the Joel Cohen who wrote the screenplay was actually Joel Coen.
NJ Governor Christie Getting Blasted For Bridgegate
LM: Welcome to our world. I have lived all but one of my years in Weehawken, New Jersey. We had a mayor who was sent to jail for scheming to get kickbacks from turning our Manhattan-facing waterfront into a chicken farm. Punishing a disobedient mayor from an opposing political party isn’t anything strange or new to us. The rest of the country initially took notice of Christie because he looks and talks like Tony Soprano— is it any surprise that Christie breaks laws (and probably legs) like him too?
The Professor from Gilligan’s Island
LM: RIP. Still can’t believe he was 89. Meanwhile, Judi Dench is 88, and Betty White is 92. WTH?!
JB: I forgot all about this until there was some actual moaning about Oprah’s omission from the Best Actress nominations. She was on this Hollywood Reporter web series, which must be a nightmare to organize, where the leading luminaries of award season, luxuriate in each other presences, dole out extravagant compliments to people they secretly despise and pretend to be uncomfortable with any nuggets of praise aimed their way. This one had Julia Roberts, Amy Adams, Emma Thompson, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong’o and Oprah. If Oprah wasn’t this iconic figure, not one of these woman would even have pretended to put up with her for a minute. Every time anyone said anything, she repeated it loudly. Any time anyone said anything even vaguely approaching the vicinity of funny, she let out this monstrous bellowing HO HO HO! Every time she was asked a question, she turned her answer into a rambling acceptance speech. You know what she’s like? She’s like Kramer’s loud girlfriend who goes to Seinfeld’s show to support him and ends up heckling him.
LM: I can’t stop thinking about the plight of the dolphins in Taiji, Japan. We need to be better than this, human race. http://livestream.seashepherd.
JB: On the same tip: Seaworld’s shares rose after Blackfish didn’t get a Best Doc nomination. I hope a pissed-off killer whale bites all your dicks off.