Monday, February 28, 2011

THIS YEAR'S OSCAR SHOW WAS NOT A HIT

Well, the critical consensus seems to be that the 2011 Academy Awards show was a flop. It was a mess, it was boring, and people panned the hosts -- or rather, one of the hosts, James Franco, who apparently skipped his own after-party in embarrassment over the critical drubbing the show took. (Anne Hathaway, though, is a hot babe. If I were Kirk Douglas I'd drool over her, too. Enough said.)

Personally, I think people are simply looking for a scapegoat for this dull, overwrought production that we saw Sunday. Apart from Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo swearing on worldwide television, it was a really boring night with utterly predictable winners and losers. It put me to sleep.

A lot of people think the show utterly failed in its attempt to bring in young people to the show, especially considering the period piece that was the night's big winner: The King's Speech. The TV ratings were down considerably. People are saying the Oscars are not relevant to young people compared to the Grammys, which at least appeals to the younger audience.

There is something to be said for that -- music has always been more relevant for young people. Even back in the Sixties, young people were more interested in music than the movies, with Hollywood seen as out of touch with the Vietnam generation and desperate to appeal to young people. Then again, a lot of the movies that actually are popular with young people these days are just plain bad to begin with.

This piece in the HuffPost suggests actively courting young viewers was a bad move and that the Oscars are supposed to be a grown-up show to begin with. I think there is something to be said for that as well. I don't think it makes sense for Oscar to try to be something it isn't, and it probably is too square a show to be hip. But if it cannot be hip, couldn't this show at least be less stuffy and full of itself? That's my main complaint -- that and the drooling over fashions during the red carpet shows. (I outlined the usual complaints I have about Oscar night in my cinema column that ran over the weekend. Basically, beyond the "Arnold Schwarzenegger" visual effects categories, there is not much else worthy of my interest on Oscar night.)

Honestly, there are no easy answers to the Academy except this: bring back a comedian to host the show, and not just any comedian. Bring in one that's funny.

Also, Oscar night was memorable for the memorable Melissa Leo F-bomb gaffe. Well, that one has to rank right up there with the time that the streaker ran onto the Oscar stage, or that time when Jack Palance did push-ups on stage. There's nothing like live television.

Oh, if you want my comments on Charlie Sheen's latest antics, those are coming -- soon. Needless to say, the guy has proven to be an endless source of material around here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

OSCAR NIGHT IS TONIGHT -- RED CARPET IS UNDER WAY

Watching these Oscar red carpet shows is interesting, only to see how the other half lives. I mean, I have no interest in any of these freaking fashions, but it's interesting seeing people obsessed by it all.

I think I want to move to LA and be in the movies. For one thing, I prefer the LA weather. For another, I find Oscar night fascinating and am secretly jealous of the entertainment reporters. But all this fashion obsession is definitely not for me -- I have no sense of style or any of that. Who cares about Armani.

Actually, the red carpet -- seeing the stars mingle with the fans and the press -- is the best part of Oscar night. Once the show begins the night usually goes to heck. (I think the Oscar night losers will agree with me on that statement.)

Anyway, you can watch the live stream from On the Red Carpet and also from KTLA. Other Oscar night coverage can be found from the prognosticators at The Envelope and Awards Daily, among others.

Oh, and the Farelly Brothers'  Hall Pass didn't win at the box office after all.  What a shocker. This was definitely the weekend of flops at theaters.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

AMBER HEARD WEARS SHORTS IN 3D IN DRIVE ANGRY

I'm a really big fan of sexy movie actress Amber Heard. Among other things, she knows exactly what her male fans want to see. For one thing, guys love her because of the multitude of scenes she's been in where she's done away with her clothes ( ie: The Informers). In her latest movie, though, it's the clothes she is wearing that will get the guys excited.

This weekend Amber is in 3D in the movie Drive Angry with Nicolas Cage. It sounds like a really outrageous action movie, loaded with sex and violence. In the movie Amber dons the sexy Daisy Duke shorts and has some good action scenes in the movie, including one where she gets into a fistfight with a woman who, ahem, isn't wearing anything.

Amber's also been cast in the upcoming NBC TV show Playboy, set in the Playboy clubs of the Sixties, which means she's soon be wearing a bunny suit. That's fun, but I like the denim shorts. All in all, I gotta check out Drive Angry. it sounds like a hoot.

Unfortunately, it already looks as if it will bomb bigtime at the box office and lose out to the Farelly Brothers' effort Hall Pass. Well, at least I should be able to get a good seat at the theater.

Here's a lengthy piece in New York magazine where they interview Amber on Drive Angry, Playboy, Daisy Dukes and other things. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

BIG DAY IN SPORTS

So, we are into week 2 without any more NFL, and we sports junkies are surviving. I give props to all the major sports leagues currently in season for stepping it up a notch this weekend. 

In particular, props to the NHL for holding their successful Heritage Classic outdoor game in Calgary while also holding Hockey Day in America in the USA, which included a doubleheader of exciting games televised on NBC.


And in Los Angeles the NBA All-Star Game was tonight.

There were also other sports going on -- college hoops on CBS, golf, you name it -- but really, who cares about most of them. But good on these three other leagues for coming through this weekend to help sports fans get over the end of the NFL season.

Speaking of the NFL -- in what is surely a positive sign to fans that both sides are finally getting serious about things, their labor negotiations are now being assisted by federal mediation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

TSN RADIO IS COMING

So the big breaking news in Canadian radio this week is that the format switch has been announced for 1050 CHUM from its current rebroadcast of the CP24 cable channel on TV. It changes on April 13 to TSN Radio 1050, an all-sports format. (Photo courtesy TSN.)

The station returns to the all-sports format that used to be on the station for a brief time during the last decade, when they dumped the legendary CHUM music format to make room for sports. The station housed the TEAM national sports network. But the network collapsed and the station went right back to playing oldies before it turned into CP24 Radio 1050 a little while back. 

Now, the sports format is back with the backing of the TSN brand behind it. In preparation for the switch, 1050 has swiped Mike Richards from Sportsnet Radio the FAN 960 Calgary to do the Toronto morning show, and will also be taking on the Dan Patrick Show and Jim Rome Show as part of their programming lineup. It will also take over the ESPN radio programming in overnights that FAN 590 had recently gone back to running. As well, Dan Shulman has been signed to do work for the station.

You can also expect to see TSN branding and programming coming to the other stations owned by CTV, including to the TEAM stations in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa and Sports Radio 1290 in Winnipeg, which recently switched from oldies music to the exact same format that is coming to 1050 AM in Toronto.

All in all, this news is a win-win-win all around. It's a win for sports fans in Toronto who want to have an alternative to the usual stuff they hear on the other stations, it's a win for the once-proud 1050 AM frequency because the new station promises to be much better than the junk TV feed that occupies it now, and it will be a win for CFL fans because the station will have the rights to air all the Toronto Argonauts games. Up until now nobody in Toronto really wanted to carry the Argos, who have changed flagship stations so often over the past several years that it isn't even funny. The team ended up making a deal with the FAN 590 that basically saw the Argos bumped from the air every time the Blue Jays had a game.

Unfortunately, that was the best deal the Argos could do, because nobody else in town wanted their games, period. At least now they are on a station run by people with a vested interest in making sure the CFL is popular, given than TSN has all the TV rights to the league. So they'll carry every Argos game, you can bet on that.

Some local folks there think this could be just the start and that TSN 1050 could eventually swipe the Toronto Maple Leafs rights away from AM 640. Everyone says there's going to be a big bidding war for the Leafs rights between 1050, 640 and the FAN 590 in about a year, and a lot of people are noticing that 640's been cutting back on its Leafs coverage lately and cancelling shows. All in all, the big loser in this whole scenario appears to be AM 640. People think they are getting right out of the sports business, which is kind of a shame because they have a really good, booming signal that can reach a lot of fans.

You know, however, that the FAN 590 isn't going away anytime soon in spite of their problems at the moment. Their daytime lineup has gone downhill, with morning man Andrew Krystal's show getting pulled off the air quickly.  In general, the revolving door of staff and programming changes there have not been well-received by the sports fans. But in spite of it all the station is still worth listening to in the evening hours. They have rebranded to include "Sportsnet Radio" as part of the station's title, and they do have the Blue Jays and Raptors rights as well as Bob McCown with Prime Time Sports. 

They had better make sure they pull out all the stops to keep McCown, though. If TSN ends up making a big offer to steal McCown and he leaves, the FAN 590 is going to be in trouble because that's one of their better shows.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

NORM MACDONALD ON HIGH STAKES POKER

Well, speaking of poker on TV I thought I would help pass on the word about the changes coming to the new season of High Stakes Poker on the Game Show Network.

For one thing a lot of big-name pros -- the whole Full Tilt Poker crowd of sponsored pros including Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Tom Dwan et al -- are being pulled from the show because the rival PokerStars is the title sponsor of the show. In fact, these two companies are boycotting each other's other TV shows too, not just this one.

I don't see how this helps the game, quite frankly, keeping rival pros off each other's shows, with Full Tilt boycotting PokerStars' The Big Game on FOX and PokerStars boycotting Full Tilt-backed Poker After Dark on NBC. You'd think it would grow the game more and attract more interest if the sponsored pros for both companies were all duking it out together in the same place. Let the best play the best! But no, they want to boycott and keep their sponsored pros from doing other shows. Lots of people say High Stakes Poker is going downhill for that reason alone.

But there are further changes coming to the hosts. A while ago A.J. Benza left as the longtiime co-host, and now Gabe Kaplan (formerly of Welcome Back Kotter) is out as co-host, replaced by none other than funnyman Norm MacDonald. A lot of people have mixed feelings about Kaplan being replaced. They worry MacDonald will be to High Stakes Poker what Dennis Miller was to Monday Night Football.

My comment on MacDonald is to quote my brother who, on a visit here, said the following when he spotted an ad for MacDonald's live comedy show that was playing at the local casino. "This place is really scraping the bottom of the barrel! The critics are saying MacDonald's show is supposed to be awful. He's terrible!"

We'll see if we end up saying the same thing about his POKER hosting efforts. At least he has a job.

WELCOME TO A SOUL-LESS, BORING, EMPTY NON-NFL WEEKEND

This was a sad weekend for a lot of sports fans. That's because the NFL off-season has now begun, and for the first time in months there has been no football to watch.

Folks, get used to it. We are likely not going to see any NFL games for a long time if the labor negotiations keep on going at a snail's pace. That ought to free up a lot of time for people to, uh, watch poker on TV.

Don't laugh. One of the reasons cited for the poker boom was the fact that the NHL went on lockout during 2004-05. Thanks to the lockout, a LOT of TV time was freed up and something had to fill it, so poker shows ended up filling the free time. That's how NBC launched its National Heads-Up Poker Championship -- to fill weekend TV time left over by the NHL! And so much TV time on TSN and Sportsnet ended up being filled by poker shows on TV!

If the NFL goes out his fall, the networks will have to fill a lot of free time. Poker could stand to be a big winner in all of this.

Same for NASCAR, which is still looking for more eyeballs for its "Chase". Last night NASCAR more or less kicked off its season at Daytona with its Bud Shootout, won by Kurt Busch. But that race doesn't count for any points. Next week's Daytona 500 does, though. It couldn't come fast enough for both race fans and for NFL fans looking for something to watch on a Sunday afternoon.

Also, I gotta give props to the NHL for stepping up to the plate in the last few weeks to do its best to fill the NFL void. Two weeks ago they had the All-Star game and this weekend was Hockey Day in Canada, and next weekend is the big outdoor Heritage Classic in Calgary.

I think all this is better than the basketball offerings out there that now dominate TV. For some reason, hoops just doesn't cut it to the same extent as football does-- my reaction to it is "I can watch hoops the rest of the week!"

Anyway, all those sports are keeping me occupied. Heck, I miss football already, but there's plenty of other things to watch.

Friday, February 11, 2011

IT'S ALL OVER FOR HOSNI MUBARAK

Mubarak has resigned and there is dancing in the streets in Egypt. The military are now in charge of trying to figure out what to do next.

The story here. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NOT MUCH HAPPENED IN EGYPT TODAY

Now that all the euphoria has died down in Green Bay over their 31-25 victory in the Super Bowl, it is back to the news of the day on the situation in Egypt.

Well, President Hosni Mubarak gave his non-resignation resignation speech tonight, where he announced he would be transferring power to his VP but, ahem, otherwise staying on at the same time.

What the heck good was that speech? Meanwhile,people are back protesting in the streets after a few days when it appeared as if calm was finally being restored.

So much for that. It is still a gong show in Egypt. The story continues on.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY NEWS FROM NOWHERE

Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday and another edition of News from Nowhere! I am going to try and cram as much as I can into this half-time as I can.

So after a snow-filled week in Dallas-Fort Worth the Super Bowl is on, and the big news is that Christina Aguilera flubbed the national anthem.

Also, I notice people are still mourning over the lack of cheerleaders at the Super Bowl.

With Green Bay in the Super Bowl, found an interesting article on what might have been if the Portsmouth Spartans had stayed put and not moved to Detroit. (Maybe Detroit would have ended up with a better team, hee hee hee.)

Should Pittsburgh come back from a 21-10 deficit and force this Super Bowl to go to overtime, new league rules for OT go into effect.

In other news, the chaos has continued in Egypt but talks are now on between the government and opposition, and there may be an attempt to restore some sanity to the place. We'll see if it works. Meanwhile the journos have been under siege and Anderson Cooper is now reporting from a safe, undisclosed location.

The second half is now on, so that will have to be all for now.

Friday, February 04, 2011

SUPER BOWL WEEKEND MEANS SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS

Super Bowl weekend is not only known for football, but for the half-time entertainment and the famous Super Bowl ads. Sometimes one or the other are known to even upstage the big game (ie. Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction, etc.)

CBS will once again have their annual TV show celebrating Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials tonight on TV. I gotta say, the ads are what makes the Super Bowl experience. Doritos, GoDaddy, Budweiser, E-Trade -- these are all part of what makes the big game special.

Too bad folks in Canada are going to be stuck watching promos on CTV featuring a stupid-looking robot or cyborg or whatever it is, running down the street with a football. Those promos are just a waste of time. CTV should just gas the promos and let us see the same ads the Americans see.

Here's a gallery of some of the greatest Super Bowl commercials of all time, starting with that all-time classic -- Mean Joe Greene drinking Coke.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

WHAT? NO CHEERLEADERS?!

I hope I didn't come across as too uptight in that Lingerie Football post. The league may be completely stupid, but I do like stupidity from time to time because it allows me to give my cranium a rest.

With that said, on to another stupid topic: NFL cheerleaders.

You won't be seeing the AFC and NFC champions bringing cheerleading squads to the sidelines at this year's Super Bowl. This year's matchup features both Pittsburgh and Green Bay, two old-line NFL teams. Neither team has a cheerleading squad. In Pittsburgh's case, they used to have a squad years ago, but disbanded it and they have never come back. Cheerleaders just don't fit their rough-and-tumble image. In Green Bay's case, they did a poll in the Eighties showing the fans there couldn't care less, so they got rid of their squad.

The media has picked up on the story of this Cheerleader-less Super Bowl. I notice even the folks at Ultimate Cheerleaders are in mourning.

You know, I think it's good that some teams don't have cheerleaders. I have a lot of respect for teams that don't mess with traditions and which concentrate on the action on the field. That's what I like about the Steelers and the Packers. These are solid, community-minded franchises who eschew the flash and dash, and both have great organizations that have spanned the decades. The Steelers are the epitome of blue-collar football, playing in a blue-collar environment. In the Packers' case they play in creaky old Lambeau Field, where they have been forever. AND those fans wear cheese on their heads -- I can respect that.

I can respect two teams that direct all their focus to the game, both with passionate, loyal fans. A lot of media types like this matchup for those reasons and others.

It is odd, though, when you think of it, that these two old-line franchises would play their Super Bowl at, of all places, Cowboys Stadium -- the super-expensive House that Jerry Jones built. After all, the Dallas Cowboys, with the league's sexiest cheerleaders and all their flash and dash, are the complete opposite of the Steelers and Packers in the way they run things.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

THINGS ARE BOILING OVER IN EGYPT

Welcome back to our live continuing coverage of Egypt. The other day, President Hosni Mubarak went on Egyptian state TV (they always call it "state TV") and he announced he would step down after the next election this fall. You would have thought that would have satisfied some people.

Unfortunately, that declaration has not quelled the situation, which got out of hand earlier today. People were throwing Molotov cocktails and getting violent, and now journalists are being attacked. CNN's "Master of Disaster" Anderson Cooper was roughed up by the Mubarak supporters.

There have been attempts at a media crackdown with the Internet being shut down by the government, but somehow the protesters have managed to get around it and word continues to get out about the situation. Meanwhile, the few remaining Westerners there are rushing to get the heck out.

Al Jazeera has been covering this chaos online at their site, and their coverage has continually referred to the anti-Mubarak forces as "pro-democracy demonstrators." Well, I sure hope these folks are pro-democracy and real democracy is something I want to see over there, but I wonder about whether that's really what a lot of these folks are after. I worry that an major element of the demonstrators don't really care about human rights at all, and would be willing to put in some Iran-type regime that would bring in all kinds of repressive measures and wipe Israel off the map. I saw one of these protesters on TV say they wanted Mubarak out because he supposedly supports Israel, and that "Israel is our enemy." That sort of sentiment worries me quite a bit.

Anyhow, this is getting to be a dangerous situation over there. Now there's gunfire between the protesters and the pro-Mubarak demonstrators. To be honest with you I don't see how Mubarak survives this chaos. I think he could be escorted out of Egypt within days.

I plan to continue to follow all the developments as they keep happening. It is now morning in Cairo.