Category Archives: Media Whore

Coco vs. The Chin: A Look Back at a Late Night Fustercluck

Remember early 2010? That was when the Internet brandished its pitchforks against Jay Leno and rallied in support of the embattled Conan O’Brien, who was being demoted only seven months after taking over The Tonight Show. At the time, it seemed so clear-cut to me: Conan was good and Leno was bad.

Thanks to a really in-depth look at the whole fiasco, I can see a few more nuances. That in-depth look comes courtesy of Bill Carter of the New York Times in his book, The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy.

While all this unfolded, I was pretty angry at NBC for trying to have it both ways, and the book just adds to my feeling that this was their fatal error. If they weren’t prepared to let Jay Leno go to another network, why tell him he was retiring in five years? If they weren’t prepared to let Conan do the same, then why promise him the Tonight Show in five years? By scrambling and trying to put Leno on at 10 (9 Central, which is my time zone of residence), they just hurt them both and never really gave Conan a chance to get out from underneath his predecessor.

It actually wasn't time.

Full disclosure: My brother and I grew up watching Conan. My brother liked it first, and in a typical big sister way, I wanted to like what he did, because my brother seemed like The Coolest Person Ever. As I’ve gotten older, my sense of humor has definitely developed to be a lot more like Conan than Jay. As far as the two men are portrayed, Conan comes off as manic but funny, while Jay Leno comes off like a workaholic joke machine, always pumping out jokes, be they funny or not. Leno also hates to be seen as the bad guy, and his team insists he’s not nearly as manipulative as the angry college kids made him out to be. He’s not my cup of tea at all, but I can’t find anything in the book that suggests he’s flat-out evil, either. Sure, he should have either spoken up earlier about how he wasn’t riding off into the sunset or just plain move on, but he’s far from the only one who screwed up in this situation.

One constant point the Leno side brings up is that Conan wasn’t doing well at all in the ratings. That’s true, and it’s hard to know how much was the bad lead-ins vs. not being a good fit. It’s hard not to think that NBC would have given him a little more time to settle in had Leno not still been on the payroll, though.

Another thing Leno did right was play the network game better. He had a pay-and-play clause in his contract, which meant he both had to get paid and had to be on the network a set amount of time. That’s pretty much unheard of in the business. Meanwhile, Team Coco failed to get a time slot guarantee in Conan’s contract, which meant NBC was perfectly within its rights to try to bump The Tonight Show to 12:05 and put Leno at 11:35. This doesn’t come across as a very well-thought out plan, more a last ditch effort to once again not pick a side. Few people in the NBC hierarchy come off well at all here, notably Jeff Zucker, who comes off like a bumbling prick.

The book came out in late 2010, and with the benefit of hindsight, it seems like The Tonight Show may have just been too mainstream for Conan. At his best, Conan is a little edgier and darker and out there, and that’s not going to play well to a lot of audiences. I like humor that makes people feel a little uncomfortable, because life seems a little uncomfortable, but obviously that’s not going to work for everybody.

Also mentioned in the book are other late-night hosts, including Fallon, Letterman and Kimmel. It’s interesting how similar Conan and Letterman seem, with the notable exception that Conan has managed to eliminate the self-loathing enough to have what seems like a functional personal life. Letterman comes off as brusque and kind of a jerk, but also incredibly hard on himself. Conan has those moments, too, but Conan wasn’t the one who matter-of-factly told a studio audience that someone tried to blackmail him with the threat of going public about affairs he’d had with members of the Late Show staff.

So, a funny thing happened today...

This is way too long already, and I haven’t even touched on some of the stuff, like how Team Coco was reluctant to bring Sarah Palin on the show after she publicly called out Letterman. That further upset already anxious executives. Just read the darn book. It’s on Amazon for less than $11, and might be at your local library as well. If you’re a pop culture and entertainment industry nerd like me, I think you’ll love it.

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Filed under Books and Things You Read, Media Whore

Making Fun of Cosmo, December 2011

So a few months ago, I got an e-mail offering me a one-year subscription to Cosmo for $5. At most, I buy one issue a year, laugh at how ridiculous it is, and that’s it. But then uh, my finger slipped, and I subscribed.

I’ve gotten a few issues now, and wow. Some of it’s mindless and relatively harmless fluff. A few things, though? Are either borderline harmful or just completely and utterly stupid, more so than other lady mags, which at least seem to occasionally try to NOT insult your intelligence.

Let’s take December’s issue, with the lovely and talented (and Photoshopped) Adele on the cover. I got in this mail and immediately my eyes went to “When He Shouldn’t See You Naked.” I thought the following:

— When you’re touring the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City (Pentecostal churches are totally cool with it, though).

— When you’re in the middle of a supersensitive airborne plague, and anyone who is ever naked dies a slow and painful death within minutes.

— When you’re playing Strip Twister on Opposite Day

The real answer, though, lay in an article titled “Seduction Secrets French Women Know.” I assume it means covering your naked man in a Mediterranean diet of olive oil, fish and poultry, as is the Cosmo way.

This next part isn’t really Cosmo’s fault. Well, probably not. It’s a perfume ad for Jean Paul Gaultier “Le Male.”

I think something went wrong if this is supposed to be sexy. This guy is styled and posed like the long-lost brother of Mango from Saturday Night Live more than anything else. I can’t really judge the scent either. I leaned it to sniff the perfume strip once, and this appeared out of a glittery pink mist.

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Filed under Fish in a Barrel, Lady Mags, Media Whore

She doesn’t need my sympathy. She needs a man, clearly.

newsday.com

newsday.com

If you believe People magazine and their sources, Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson have broken up. I figured they were about to either break up or get married. As a Cowboys fan, I preferred the former.

And yet, despite my best efforts, I’ve developed a bit of sympathy for J-Simp lately. I think her family is insane, and she probably is a few french fries short of a Happy Meal, but she’s also very much a product of her environment. When she first came on the scene, her dad Joe loved to promote her as Virgin Blonde Singer With Boobs. She liked to talk about how she and that guy from that boy band were waiting till marriage, whatever that means nowadays. Then she and the guy from the boy band divorced. So she went to John Mayer, then they broke up. Media portrays her as desperate and lonely, and why can’t she keep a man? I’m sure the same thing will happen in this case, especially since it’s reported that Romo broke up with her. And look at Jennifer Aniston: when the tabloids find a narrative, they latch onto it forever. Jennifer Aniston’s obit will start “The Emmy-winning star of Friends who was a desperate and needy woman who only wanted babies babies babies! died today…”

If I had to guess, I’d say Jessica Simpson does identify herself strongly based on who she is dating. Her upbringing seems like it was designed to make her dependent on a man. And her dad, who calls himself a preacher, has always been very much involved in her life, often to inappropriate levels. While she has a pretty successful shoe line and other endeavors, she’s mostly famous for being famous. And because she’s not burning up the movie screen or the radio, she’s also famous for who she dates. A professional girlfriend, almost. She pissed off a lot of people by showing up to games in a pink No. 9 jersey (including me). But looking back, that anger seems misplaced. If you put a camera in front of someone who loves attention, what do you expect?

And hell, I’m probably spending too much time on this topic. Romo strikes me as a bit of a fame-whoring QB, so he and J-Simp worked well together. But now he can devote all his attention to football, theoretically. Although really, if the media hooha over who he was dating was that distracting, maybe he should go quarterback in the UFL. Who knows, maybe he’ll now turn to dating someone from The Hills. But it’s interesting that, regardless of who dumped who, the guy is often seen as “moving on” and “ready to get on with his life,” while the girl is desperate and needy and sad and pathetic and oh god who will impregnate her lonely womb now? Double standards suck, regardless of who they involve.

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Did Clarissa really need to explain it all in this case?

melissa_joan_hart240-1

People magazine must think the public can’t get enough of C-listers losing weight. See their latest cover and Melissa Joan Hart, who went from being an obviously fat and unlovable and “horrifying” walrus to 113 pounds. Now she’s showing off her bikini body, and I’d guess getting paid pretty nicely for it, too.

Does People want to let everyone know they can look like this? Because they totally can, as long as they hire a trainer and nutritionist like she did. And presumably she doesn’t have a steady day job, so just quit your job, ladies, and you’ll be golden. She has two young kids, but realized “I didn’t have to be heavy just because I have kids.”

No, you don’t. You also don’t have to appear on the cover of People and make those who don’t have the time or money to get in shape like you did feel like crap. Although I really can’t blame you, because while you seem like a nice enough person, your career isn’t exactly on fire nowadays. You may have even known of that insatiable appetite that tabloids seem to have for weight-loss stories when you started this. Maybe this could be a career-break: Hey everyone! Hire me because of how I look in this bikini! And whaddya know, her bikini-wearing capabilities are the most-read story on People.com this week.

Reclaiming her slim figure took Hart 14 months of hard work. “It didn’t happen by magic – it was as hard for me as it would be for anyone else,” she says. The fact that it took a little longer doesn’t bother her. “I didn’t want to take any time away from spending it with my sons,” she explains.

See, that actually seems like a down-to-earth and quite reasonable thing to say. Which is surprising, since nothing about most of these cover stories is reasonable. But I suppose the magazines knows what sells. And it’s not like the magazines going to start regularly noting that the person in question was PAID to lose weight, and that being thin is a prerequisite for their job as an entertainer. It’s a burden to be expected to always be “bikini-ready,” but it also allows you to hire trainers, nutritionists and such. Sometimes I wish I could do that. But I can’t. Most people can’t. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We do what we can, and try not to beat ourselves up about it. But because of the way culture celebrates the skinny and implies that pudgy people are lazy bums, it’s not always easy.

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Disney kills your childhood.

I am pretty sure this is The Week Everything Went Crazy. So I am very very very tired, and may not be posting much, but even this was enough to offend my tired sensibilities.

ohnono

Annie Leibowitz, who is apparently available for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs and church banquets now, took this picture to promote Walt Disney World theme parks. OK, first of all, these two are very pretty people. But no. No. They are not Sleeping Beauty and Prince Phillip, and People.com, this is not them showing off their “fairy tale romance,” unless I wasn’t paying attention in my fairy tales class. Or maybe I missed the part where Sleeping Beauty was in a horrible movie with a rumored-to-be-gay prince. I know they’re Disney kids, but god, people. Tina Fey as Tinkerbell really needs to take these two wannabes down a notch.

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I believe this episode of Project Runway requires a Viagra ad.

I have some fake news in my brain, but then I saw a Viagra commercial an instead must ask: Why the frack are these commercials on everything I watch? Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, just about everything except reruns of Golden Girls, and even then I just might not be paying attention.

I don’t get it and I am sick of it. Why can’t some of these damn drug companies go bankrupt? The ED ads are the worst, but there are ads for everything and honestly, I like my meds, but I prefer to find out about them on my own or from my doctor.

I think they should start tailoring them to the programming. For instance, if Cialis wants to run ads during the 700 Club, the ads should say, “And on the seventh day, God said, ‘Man must bone his woman. Viva Viagra!’

In short, I want everyone associated with those ads who possesses a penis to never be able to get an erection again. Or failing that, I wish to become a lesbian.

I need to go to bed now. With any luck, I’ll have a nice dream about Tina Fey, who did the best parody ever in a spot for Conan O’Brien’s show: “If your Conan lasts more than three hours, call a doctor.” Maybe she can turn me over to the other side. I should be so lucky.

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Zach Braff: Schlub, Scrub or Some Other Word Beginning with S?

Guy Love. Image via people.com

Guy Love. Image via people.com

Here I sit, watching David Letterman and eating Ben and Jerry’s Cinnamon Buns. And I have a confession to make, one that isn’t too bad, but leaves me feeling a bit guilty: I have a bit of a crush on Zach Braff. Yes. Even now.

I know he’s gotten a lot of flack and has a bit of a reputation as a casanova with a propensity for annoyingly quirky and self-aware movie(s). I suspect he probably has done a few woman wrong.

But he’s really funny on Scrubs, darn it all. And he was just on Letterman and was cute and talking about flying planes. Apparently he has a pilot’s license-which is cool and a bit sexy, but I hate to fly. But he told some funny stories, and he’s so good on Scrubs, which I have become obsessed with lately after watching it on and off for a while but never realizing how great it could be.

So there it is. He’s even my friend on MySpace, and has been for a while. The crush waned for a while, but now it’s back. Anyone else with me?

This is a more fun topic than the jerk who took my parking spot-wait, did I hear a car start? But I’m not sure if I want to move it so late. Hmm. Decisions.

Two minutes later: OK, I moved my car back into my designated spot. I basically ran out to my car before someone could attack me or mug me or something (since obviously I run so fast that would dissuade them). But the car is back in her spot, so I won and he/she didn’t and they can suck it. And the guy from Oklahoma who took my spot obviously can’t read the sign saying “resident parking only” under the carport. You know, the one with apartment numbers on it.

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