August 23, 2006 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | August 23, 2006 |


Item #1: In light of “Saturday Night Live“‘s ever-decreasing entertainment value, it comes as no surprise that executive producer Lorne Michaels has indicated that four cast members will be getting axed, which is in addition to the already-announced departures of Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch for the network’s new “30 Rock.” Rumor has it that three of the four fired cast members are Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz, and Kenan Thompson. While this minor house-cleaning, especially the dumping of Sanz’s immense dead weight, is definitely a step in the right direction, they should’ve gone much deeper with the axe (I’ve previously argued that the best course of action would have been to white-out virtually the whole cast). Unless they’re bringing in some great new actors and fresh/funny writers capable of contributing something that’s actually good, we can expect the same feces to be flung at us next year, just now with fewer chunks. — Seth Freilich

Item #2: In the latest sign that Tim Burton has run out of every last drop of originality in his scruffy head, the director is teaming for the 37th time with long-time lead actor Johnny Depp for a film version of Sweeney Todd. Depp will play the title character, a singing, murderous barber whose wife makes pies out of his victims (and that plot summary is cobbled together from scanning Wikipedia, since I’ve never seen the play, not being into musical theater in any way). Burton hasn’t written a film since 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, having contented himself with bastardizing classic B-films and adapting schmaltzy father-son stories for his own use. I’m gonna go watch Edward Scissorhands now and pretend none of this is happening. — Daniel Carlson

Item #3: I’ll concede that it took me eight years to arrive at this conclusion, but about three minutes into MTV’s “Yo Momma,” it dawned on me that Wilmer Valderrama may actually be the least talented actor in Hollywood. His semi-charming goofiness on “That ’70s Show” was tolerable for a few years (and from what I understand, the show just ended its run) but “Yo Momma” left me seething. It is not only a lazy excuse for television, but there is something infinitely disconcerting about the corporate-manufactured verbal gang-warfare depicted in the show, as though Boys n the Hood has been sterilized, stripped of its profanity, and directed by Brian Levant. What’s next? Mafia slayings featuring corporate logos and a perfectly stubbled Channing Tatum putting bullets in brains with a gleaming smile and a clever catchphrase? Worse still, Valderrama seems to me the poster-boy for do-nothingness, having at various times attached himself to Mandy Moore, Lindsay Lohan, and Jessica Alba, despite an unequivocal lack of appeal, talent, intelligence, or good looks.

Whatever. Anyway, Valderrama — who is already set to destroy any nostalgic fondness anyone might feel for “CHiPs” by taking the role of Ponch — is setting up a film called PartyBuddys, based on the lives of James King and Jason Roefaro. The duo set up a company that allows out-of-town businessmen to pay a hefty price to be treated like celebrity VIPs for a night. You know, it’s sort of like the price Valderrama paid to warrant his existing lifestyle, only presumably the PartyBuddys clientele will not suffer the torment of eternal hellfire in exchange. — Dustin Rowles

Item #4: Full disclosure: I like the Dixie Chicks. If that’s a problem for you, well, I couldn’t care less. Blame it on the fact that I grew up in Texas. But (a) they’re women who (b) are attractive and (c) can play the damn fiddle. That’s the trifecta. Plus they spoke out against the stammering, clumsy, clinically retarded foreign policy of George W. Bush, which just makes them better people. At a concert in March 2003, lead singer Natalie Maines said, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,” which is when the crazy hit the fan all across the South. That statement is the focus of Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, a new documentary by Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck that’s been picked up for worldwide distribution by the Weinstein Co. and should hit theaters by November. So all you picketers/patriots get your signs ready. Those women hate America, and must be stopped. — DC

Item #5: In titles-so-clever-I-want-to-gag news, the least talented Wayans brother, Marlon, is set to star in movie entitled, Pretty Ugly, about a man who is cursed with a deformity and forced to find his inner beauty before winning back the woman he loves. Well, now there’s a novel idea: The exploration of inner beauty, a topic heretofore untackled in Hollywood, if you don’t count Shrek, Beauty and the Beast, Shallow Hal and nearly every other goddamn movie produced in the last 20 years. At least we have the star of White Chicks and Little Man bringing his vast knowledge to the topic, though he will undoubtedly neglect to find any of the “inner humor” built into the premise, unless (of course) you find testicle punching or dogs peeing in babies’ faces the apex of hilarity. — DR

Item #6: Miss the original version of “The Office” and wish you could get some more of the good ol’ David Brent? If so, you need to immediately go watch this very funny 20 minute training video where Brent provides some internal training for Microsoft UK employees. Good stuff. And when you’re done watching that, you should head over to Salon.com, which is celebrating “Salon TV Week.” Several good pieces have been posted over the week, but I particularly recommend Heather Havrilesky’s excellent argument that we’re in “TV’s Golden Age.— SF

Item #7: The weekend box-office numbers are in, and I have to say that — depending on the way you look at it — they are either kind of encouraging or incredibility dispiriting. On the one hand, Snakes on a Plane’s relatively poor showing of $15 million might suggest that blog readers are incredibly savvy and refuse to be hoodwinked by the sort of hype generated by Snakes (though, ironically, such readers have missed a great moviegoing experience). The less optimistic view, however, is that the blogosphere doesn’t wield nearly the influence or readership that we egotistically assume, and that the insular world of Nick Denton is insignificant compared to the huge swath of middle America that had never even heard of Snakes on a Plane. It’s like Howard Dean redux, man — a huge groundswell of Internet support that never materialized in the real world. Frankly, I think the problem might be that we folks on the Internet haven’t found the right “product” yet and, if we keep trying to foist Howard Dean and Snakes on a Plane onto the general public, no one will ever take our asses seriously. I’m not advocating any sort of mainstream movement here, but maybe it’s time that we stop letting the AICN/Comic-Con faction of the blogosphere control us like the Christian Coalition wags the Republican party. Then again, the centrist blogosphere failed with “Arrested Development,” too. So, I guess that means were all pretty much powerless and may as well go back to interminably submitting opens letters to McSweeney’s (Dear People Behind the “Now That’s What I Call Music!” Series: We’re just going to have to agree to disagree.).

Oh yeah: Talladega Nights made $13 million to come in at number two, and World Trade Center grossed $10 million, good for third place at the box office.

Finally, this weekend brings us a mixed-bag of releases. The Outkast crew will try to dazzle us with Idlewild, the Super Troopers will attempt to make up for the Dukes of Hazzard travesty with Beerfest, and Marky Mark will star in Invincible, the most inspirational true story to ever happen to a major NFL team and go completely unnoticed by Hollywood for a whopping 30 years. — DR

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Trade News | August 23, 2006 | Comments ()



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