20/20 Christopher Reeve Special
Christopher Reeve is one of the few on-screen superheroes who was just as heroic off screen. As a kid, the Superman movies were never really my favorite comic-book films (I was always more of a Batman fan), but there was never any doubt in my mind that Reeve was Superman. Whenever I donned my ratty Superman cape and pretended to defend my backyard against Lex Luthor, it was Reeve I was trying to imitate. That's why I've never really seen the point to restarting the movie franchise. Who could possibly fill those red boots? Not Dean Cain, not Tom Welling (though both of those actors make fine small-screen Superguys) and definitely not Nicolas (shudder) Cage. Christopher Reeve was a one-of-a-kind talent and a genuine inspiration. He will be greatly missed.
Diary of a Political Tourist
Back in 2002, news producer-turned-aspiring filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi joined Paris Hilton and Subway's Jared in the ranks of the unnecessarily famous with the release of her debut documentary, Journeys with George. Filmed during the 2000 presidential campaign, the movie provided a behind-the-scenes look at then-Governor George W. Bush's traveling armada of advisors, journalists and assorted hangers-on. Lest you confuse Journeys for a documentary with actual substance, Pelosi used her unprecedented access primarily to show our future commander-in-chief bowling oranges, making goofy faces (a talent he clearly possessed before the recent debates) and indicating his preference for bologna sandwiches (and you know why that is, of course because he's full of... oh never mind, it's just too easy). Pelosi got a lot of mileage out of the flick, appearing on numerous talk shows and inking a contract with HBO to make a similar movie about the large crop of Democratic candidates for the 2004 ticket (Carol Moseley Braun and Bob Graham we hardly knew or remember ye). Two years later, we finally see the fruits of her labors and surprise! Diary is just as shallow as her first film. Not that Pelosi pretends otherwise; in fact, this is less a documentary than her audition tape for The Daily Show or Late Night with Conan O'Brien. As such, it has a few funny moments, like John Edwards finally revealing what keeps him looking so young and peppy (Diet Coke and lots of it) and Joe Lieberman trying to swallow a deep-fried Twinkie without gagging. In the film's best scene, John Kerry finally turns the camera on his interrogator, who responds by running off and grabbing another camera. Kerry also delivers Diary's most memorable line. Not long after announcing his candidacy, he asks a badgering Pelosi, "Am I going to have to put up with you for [the next] 18 months?" We feel your pain, John.
We're only four episodes into the season and the Las Vegas producers have already run through an impressive roster of D-list celebrity guest stars. The DeLuise brothers? Check. Beverly Hills 90210's James Eckhouse? Check. Jon Lovitz? Check (bonus points because he's a returning character). So who's left? Why, George Hamilton, of course! The Tan One blew into Vegas last night as a divorcé looking to get rid of all his money before his ex gets her hands on it. Meanwhile, Nessa, Mary and Delinda get lost in the desert and run into the show's other Very Special Guest Star, Clint Black, who serenades them with some terrible lip-syncing. And Danny? Well, he's stuck playing Kevin Hill when the wife of a dead army buddy leaves him with her infant while she goes off to make it big as an escort/prostitute (where's the Elizabeth Shue cameo?). Phew, it takes more brainpower to summarize this show than it does to watch it!
Is this really one of A&E's most popular series? Really? People, you do know that you can get the same experience by just going down to your local airport and standing by the ticket counter, right? Or if you're really missing the company of obnoxious, stressed-out individuals, try riding the New York subway at 5:00 on a weekday afternoon. And trust me, the MTA employees don't willingly take as much crap as the Southwest Airlines customer-service reps do.
The fictional version of Airline is also populated by annoying characters, but at least they're all glamorous annoying characters. The strangest part of tonight's episode? That stripped-down version of the old Oasis chestnut "Wonderwall" that played over the final five minutes. My first thought was that it was way too soon for "Wonderwall" to be covered, but then I realized it's been almost 10 years since (What's the Story) Morning Glory came out. Now I just feel old.
Have any other former Buffy watchers noticed the Advil ads featuring Kristine Sutherland aka Joyce Summers, Vampire Slayer mom extraordinaire? If so, don't you think it's a little creepy to see Joyce pitching headache medication when she died of a freakin' brain tumor on the show? Given that, I just don't know if I can trust her judgment on cranial pain.
Shadowing The Third Man
Orson Welles made a number of great entrances during his movie career, but for sheer oh-my-god factor, you can't beat his first appearance in the Carol Reed classic, The Third Man. After spending the first half of the movie thinking his character, the elusive Harry Lime, has shuffled off this mortal coil, Welles shocks the audience by suddenly appearing out of thin air in a Vienna doorway. It's great to see that memorable spot of movie history some 50 years later in this TCM documentary about the making of the film. Along the way, you learn other fun Third Man tidbits, like the fact that Reed was popping Benzedrine (i.e., speed) throughout the production to keep up with a killer shooting schedule. Another story involves the notoriously temperamental Welles, who initially refused to come out of his hotel room as a tactic to boost his salary. The crew finally lured the amateur magician out by recruiting a local magic guru to teach him a few new tricks. Hey CBS, maybe you should try that tactic the next time George Eads starts "oversleeping"....
Today's column was written by Ethan Alter