Entries in TV (7)

Wednesday
Feb012012

R.I.P. Don Cornelius, and Remember the 'Soul Train'

 

REVIEWING THE NEWS: A complicated legend, Soul Train creator and black-music pioneer Don Cornelius, passes away.

By Kenny Herzog

Don Cornelius: 1936-2012

 

Much like the recently deceased King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and late Godfather of Soul, James Brown, Soul Train conductor Don Cornelius' final years were marred by legal entanglements and poor health. But just as when word spread of M.J. and J.B.'s passing, news that Cornelius, 75, was found dead this morning of an apparent suicide still took your breath away.

We have a tendency to define people by their lowest point, particularly when we initially put them on a pedestal. But we mostly admire and ultimately mourn figures like Cornelius because of how something they created at a different time in their lives put us in a special place inside our imagination. And in the case of Soul Train, it was the hippest, coolest place to be on a Saturday morning, but also (and by design), a demonstration of peaceful activism, enormous catalyst for cultural integration, an heir to Motown as a platform for black artists and blueprint for future groundbreaking musical television like Yo! MTV Raps. In short, Soul Train was the shit.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: Despite Don Cornelius' troubled end, he was still there at the beginning.

THE SOUL TRAIN MAKING NO STOPS RATING: It's Gonna Be a Stone-Gas, Honey/10

 

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Thursday
Jan262012

Pat Sajak and Vanna White's Wasted 'Wheel of Fortune' (Video)

REVIEWING THE SAUCY NEWS OF TWO THOROUGHLY SAUCED GAME-SHOW CO-HOSTS: Pat Sajak says he and Vanna White were the ones doing spins in the early days of Wheel of Fortune. Cause they were wasted!

By Crispin Reynolds

"I'm with stupor." 

And here we all thought you had to be a charming man working at an adverising agency in 1963 in order to knock back some cocktails during the day shift. As it turns out, the early 1980s were swingin' like a single malt of devil-may-care. Or at least if you were on the lot of Wheel of Fortune when Pat Sajak and Vanna White first commanded their decades-long stint as host and letter-turner. 

The seemingly toupeed Sajak sat down with troublesomely goateed ESPN chat host Dan Le Batard yesterday afternoon for, mostly, no apparent reason. Although the WOF icon did get around to addressing whether he ever took to the airwaves much less than sober. Well, wouldn't ya know it: That dastardly Pat and volutpuous Vanna would, according to Sajak, head across the way to a Mexican restaurant mid-taping, mull life's deeper meanings over three or four margaritas, and then finish an episode despite having "trouble recognizing the alphabet." 


 

 

Naturally, Jairem and I were appalled when we viewed the above clip. Not because the intoxicating game-show duo was inebriated all those years, but because they slummed it with margaritas when everyone knows that at lunchtime, it's Cosmos one craves. Even if they do tend to leave one bankrupt.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: I'll solve the puzzle please: How Many Drinks Did It Take for Pat to Make Inappropriate Sexual Insinuations Toward Vanna?

 

PAT AND VANNA'S LIQUID LUNCHES RATING: Lol/10

PAT SAJAK BEING IN THE NEWS RATING: Lose a Turn/10

 

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Thursday
Jan192012

Whitney Cummings is Right

REVIEWING THE NEWS: We may not love her sitcom, but we do applaud Whitney's provocative and insightful blog post in defense of SNL casualty Lana Del Rey.

 

By Kenny Herzog

We assume this was Whitney's reaction to reading Del Rey criticism. (Credit: Chris Haston/NBC)

 

When we posted our op-ed regarding Gawker founder Dick Denton and Editor-in-Chief A.J. Daulerio's mishandling (read: reprehensible fumbling) of the Brian Williams/Lana Del Rey private e-mail fiasco, we failed to acknowledge one important repercussion: Their actions not only alienated Williams' confidence and belied any basic journalistic ethos, but also further defamed Del Rey, who'd been plenty humiliated already by bloggers whose explicit goal was to publicly shame her.

It's a mean, mean world we live in, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Whitney Cummings, an often-scorned female entertainer in her own right, can relate to being smothered with ill will. Early this morning, the comedian/actress published an open letter in Del Rey's defense. It's a surprisingly candid, sensitive and absolutely spot-on plea for consumers and critics of pop culture to—in paraphrased Real World-ian parlance—stop being hurtful and start getting real.

Cummings admits she's neither objective nor qualified enough to comment on the veracity of peoples' horror at Del Rey's actual SNL performance. By the same token, we're far from pre-inclined toward solidarity with Whitney, and have been among the voices expressing dismay at her eponymous sitcom and 2 Broke Girls. But what her letter tries to emphasize—and it's a point of view we fully support—is that Del Rey's supposed "Video Games" debacle (which wasn't actually that bad) seems to have opened up a permissive space for simmering discrimination against and regressive attitudes about women in pop culture. 

Maybe it was late at night, and Cummings had just polished off a bottle of wine and was feeling sentimental enough to convey how she's "protective of girls, especially young performers, because they live a hard, emotionally challenging, often physically challenging life" and avow that, "Other peoples success doesn’t fuck up our lives and other people [sic] failures should not brighten them." Perhaps all the Del Rey venom hit close to home, but with enough distance for her to comment on it comfortably. Whatever the impetus, and without dismissing Whitney's opinion on the basis of disregard for her television alter-ego, her ballsy testimony is the kind of outspokenness that deserves encouragement and support. 

 

IN OTHER WORDS: You go, girls.

WHITNEY RATING: 2/10

WHITNEY RATING: 10/10

INEVITABLE, INSECURE BACKLASH TO WHITNEY'S REMARKS: Mean People Suck/10

 

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Wednesday
Jan042012

Who Cares About Mitt and Iowa? Justin and Jessica are (Reportedly) Engaged!

REVIEWING THE "DAAAAAMN, THAT'S GONNA BE ONE GOOD-LOOING BABY!" ENGAGEMENT NEWS: Justin Timberlake reportedly popped the question to long-time lover Jessica Biel, and this is one impending celeb nuptial that has us in seventh heaven.

By Crispin Reynolds

Somebody call hot police, cause these two are four-alarm hotties!

 

While all of America spent yesterday evening worrying about some Hanukkah grinch named Mitt and his silly caucus, US Weekly was preparing a bombshell story that put everything into focus. The tabloid alleges that Justin Timberlake popped the question of questions to his stunning piece of brunette babe-candy, Jessica Biel, way back in December whilst the pair was on holiday. 

Oh, deary me, oh my. Sad as myself and Jairem are that J-Timb is off the meat market, we're kvelling and are downright over the cherry moon for this sexy twosome of Manna from heaven. The only thing that could possibly sour our elation is if the news turns out to be false, and Us' "insider" sources get revealed as impostors. But until that moment arrives, we shall merely blush humbly in the wake of such marvelous undertakings.

 

IN OTHER WORDS: I haven't the faintest idea why I've suddenly channeled the spirit of a genteel southern dame.

JUSTIN AND JESSICA ENGAGEMENT RATING: Three Cheers!/10

THE POSSIBILITY OF IT BEING JUST A DASTARDLY RUMOR RATING: Heavens, No!/10

CAN JAIREM AND I ATTEND IF WE SAY WE'RE FROM THE MILITARY AND RECORD A YOUTUBE VIDEO ASKING TO BE INVITED? RATING: Oh, You're Too Kind/10

 

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Wednesday
Dec142011

Chris Meloni on 'True Blood' = Best News Ever

  

REVIEWING THE TV-CASTING NEWS: Law & Order: SVU and Oz alum Chris Meloni has officially joined True Blood for Season 5, and all is well with the underworld.

 

By Kenny Herzog
Chris Meloni: From doing life to busting people for life to coming back to life. (Credit: HBO)

 

Hard as it is to believe, we here at REVIEWniverse occasionally contribute our editorial wiles to other media. Just last week, I'd helped report on breaking gossip for MSN TV concerning recent Law & Order: SVU defector Chris Meloni, and the possibility of him landing a featured role on the upcoming fifth season of HBO's True Blood.

 

Today, that rumor has become fact, and consequently, the most exciting news to hit Bon Temps since recreational V first rolled into town. Show creator Alan Ball has confirmed to TV Line (and True Blood's Twitter feed has dually validated the story) that Meloni will come on board as a powerful vampire capable of lording over both Bill and Eric.

 

Much as we all loved Denis O'Hare as aggro-pervert Russell, and Evan Rachel Wood as the now-deposed vamp queen, it doesn't get much better far as seductive, sinister badasses than Meloni. Anyone who watched HBO's brutal prison psychodrama Oz during its late-'90s-early 2000s run and remembers the actor's depitction of homicidal loon/perpetually nude sexual predator Chris Keller would agree:

 

 

IN OTHER WORDS: If Meloni's TB character is ostensibly a cross between Keller and his inspired Freakshow from Harold & Kumar, it could be the greatest casting ever.

CHRIS MELONI RATING: 9/10

CHRIS MELONI ON TRUE BLOOD RATING: 9.5/10

TRUE BLOOD'S RETURN MEANING IT WILL BE SUMMER AGAIN RATING: 10/10

 

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