Jon Stewart did his best, but it wasn't good enough. There are limitations in being a clever, self-deprecating master of irony, when what the job of Oscar host truly demands is being a showman. Which Stewart would probably be the first to admit he's not.
His humor, politically barbed but never obnoxious, was possibly a bit too sophisticated for that cavernous room. But what really defeated him, as it has almost every modern-day Oscar host except for Billy Crystal, is the deadly monotony of the Oscar show itself. What a fossiled relic. The Oscar broadcast is a classy but inert dinosaur, and this year's was more forgettable than most.
Stewart gamely tried to deflate the evening's pomposity whenever he could — after a montage on message movies, he quipped, "and none of these issues were ever a problem again" — but still, we had to sit through it all anyway.
Even with a last-minute shocker, as Crash
Alias' Jennifer Garner and Michael Vartan
The countdown to Alias' hotly anticipated series finale officially got under way last week when new mum Jennifer Garner returned to the set to begin work on the show's last 10 or so episodes. And although ABC has yet to announce when (or where) the spy drama will complete its run (what's up with that?), there's every reason to believe that the 5-year-old series will go out the same way it came in: with a huge bang and a ton of hype. Not one to diminish expectations, executive producer Jeff Pinkner declares, "We want every episode from here to the end to top the one before it." OK, if ever there's a statement that demands a few follow-up Qs, it's that one. So, let's get to it.
Ausiello: What are some of the big returns you have planned?Pinkner: Lena Olin's coming back for the 99th episode, which is our second one back.
Ausiello: Really? Just for the 99th?Pinkner: Well, no, she's actually going to be back for a co
Question: Do you happen to know when Alias will return with new episodes?
Answer: All ABC will say is "spring." BTW, today is Jennifer Garner's first day back at work following her maternity leave. All together now: "Welcome back, Jen!"
Question: What'd you think of the latest episode of Alias (the last one before the break for Jennifer Garner's maternity leave)? I've been rather critical of the show (even if I'm still horribly addicted and would never give it up), but this episode, featuring flashbacks to "classic" Alias moments, blew me away. For the first time this season, I'm excited to see the next episode —which is, naturally, months away. Kudos to the producers for keeping the secret of who is behind Prophet 5 so well kept (at least Lena Olin wasn't credited). Can we expect the same quality for the last 13 episodes of the series? Wouldn't it be great for Alias to go out on top, after these years of hailing its past brilliance?
Answer: That really was a terrific episode — creatively structured, suspenseful, harking back to the show's emotional core. And the Lena Olin reveal was remarkable, on its own merits and also because I didn't have a clue it was coming. In this age of spoilers, that really is a refreshing
Jennifer Garner, Alias
Shortly before Thanksgiving, ABC executives called Alias creator J.J. Abrams in China — where he was directing Mission: Impossible 3 — to
Question: The Golden Globes are my favorite awards show, mainly because they put TV and movie stars all together under one roof — and give them lots of booze. They can always be counted upon for great moments! But if one thing always irks me, it's the supporting actor TV category, which doesn't differentiate between drama, comedy or miniseries. And we end up with a field like this for Best Supporting Actor: Naveen Andrews, Lost; Paul Newman, Empire Falls; Jeremy Piven, Entourage; Randy Quaid, Elvis; Donald Sutherland, Commander in Chief. Seriously? We're putting Jeremy Piven's delightfully shallow superagent up against Andrews' painstaking dramatic portrayal of a tortured (no pun intended) former Iraqi soldier? In the same category? I am sure they must do this to get the time down on the program, but if they must lump TV-movies and miniseries together, can't they at least separate between comedy and drama (two drastically different media)? That would only add two awards to the program, ...
Question: Has Invasion been canceled? Is ABC moving Alias to its time slot?
Answer: Without a doubt, the most-asked question of the last week. It's beyond aggravating that ABC would trumpet the two-week-only move of Alias to Wednesdays as its "new time" instead of as a "special time." Alias will be on hiatus until spring after these two Wednesday airings, and Invasion will be back in its regular time slot (I presume) with new episodes (eventually) in the new year. I would like to think ABC regrets the confusion (while I applaud giving Alias the more visible time period for these last episodes before Jennifer Garner's maternity leave kicked in). But I'm not sure the networks ever truly regret anything they do ...
Concluding what seemed to be the world's longest gestation period, Jennifer Garner welcomed her and husband Ben Affleck's first child, a baby girl named Violet (according to E! News), on Thursday. Already this morning, in an emotional moment, the Alias star's firstborn delighted mom with her first wig change.
Question: Wait a second... Alias to Wednesday nights at 10? What does this mean for not only Alias, but Invasion as well? I thought ABC had picked up Invasion for the entire season.
Answer: The way I understand it, ABC will air a couple of Alias episodes in December to complete the show's initial run until it returns (at a specific time and time period yet to be determined) from Jennifer Garner's maternity-dictated hiatus in March. Moving Alias temporarily to the post-Lost slot may be confusing, but I imagine it's designed to give these last episodes a bit of a boost, while resting (and protecting) Invasion, which almost certainly isn't going to do very well in repeats. As you noted, and I'm happy to repeat, Invasion was picked up for the entire season. It gets creepier by the week. While it loses (understandably) a significant chunk of the Lost lead-in, Invasion still performs far better than I would have ever expected a slow, subtle supernatural series like this to do against
Question: Of the viewers who both hate and love Alias this year, nobody is mentioning the 400-pound gorilla in the room. Don't you think that the show would have been much better had they picked up after Jennifer Garner's pregnancy?
Answer: 400 pounds? How mean of you! Logistically, it probably wasn't realistic for the show to suspend production until after the star's maternity leave. Creatively, if we're to believe the producers, this situation gave them the opportunity to tell a different, unique story. It's possible the cast departures and additions would have occurred regardless of the, er, gorilla ...