Why I’m Both Anticipating & Dredding the New Television Season That’s Full of Diversity

This week was the annual week that every year the inner TV geek is always eagerly anticipating with both hope and anxiety. That’s right it’s the annual Up-Front presentations where the four big broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) and smaller networks on both cable and broadcast (The CW, TNT, TBS, USA et. al.) all make their upcoming fall schedule announcements and their big pitches on their new shows for advertisers and in essence the viewing public.

What fascinated me about this year’s crop of new shows was not the umpteenth spinoff of either CSI or NCIS on CBS (or in this case this year we get both, uh yeah?!?) But it was the surprising amount of diversity being offered in this year’s new crop of shows that has me both hopeful and nervous with anticipation.

ABC's new midseason series "Fresh Off the Boat" is the first series to focus on an Asian American family since "All-American Girl" starred comedian Margaret Cho.

ABC’s new midseason series “Fresh Off the Boat” is the first series to focus on an Asian American family since “All-American Girl” starred comedian Margaret Cho.

Looking Back, It Wasn’t Too Long Ago…

Forget the cheese-tastic titles such as Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat. It’s the substance of the show of what’s behind those titles that both excites me and worries me. They have a lot to look up to. Could it have been already thirty years ago this year that The Cosby Show lit up our screens and introduced us to the way a whole new family managed to live their lives with humor and dignity? But Cosby and the Huxtables weren’t the first. In the seventies we got a wide variety of families of a multicultural and economic backgrounds. There was Sanford and SonGood Times and The Jeffersons, just to name a few. All of these shows including the Cosby Show are still being shown in repeats on cable which means to me they still have a long and successful following to this day.

So the question remains what happened since the Cosby Show went off the air in 1992? Why hasn’t there been a truly breakthrough successful sitcom to star a person of color? Sure there’s been multiple attempts and decent runs of shows featuring comedians Margaret Cho, Damon Wayons, Bernie Mac and George Lopez. Not to mention a variety of smaller shows that managed to survive on niche networks like UPN and the WB back in the day. One would probably need a sociologist to give detailed research into why sitcoms and dramas for that matter with people of color as leads have failed to truly catch fire these past two decades and counting.

Comedian Cristela Alonzo will star in her own eponymous sitcom on ABC this fall.

Comedian Cristela Alonzo will star in her own eponymous sitcom on ABC this fall.

What happened? We’re all of the shows attempted just not interesting or funny or popular with a broad spectrum of the American viewing audience? Or did real life just get in the way which forced us all to reexamine our lives and just not watch shows that were not about topics or people that were similar to us? In the early part of this century, I remember the television critics taking over various minority groups that collectively previously bemoaned why there wasn’t a more diversity in the broadcast network’s fall shows. Now the networks are taking the initiative to diversify their own programming without any prompting. It has helped that shows like Scandal and The Mindy Project are taking off both commercially and creatively with female leads of color.

Viola Davis stars in the upcoming drama "How to Get Away with Murder" on ABC.

Viola Davis stars in the upcoming drama “How to Get Away with Murder” on ABC.

Dramas Are a Step Ahead of the Curve

And it’s not just comedies that are taking shape of a more multicultural world. Sure for the past few decades we’ve seen a ton of diverse workplace dramas from L.A. Law to ER showcase a more accurate portrayal of a diverse workforce in America, but very few of the most successful dramas were actually driven by a person of color. That was until Scandal really broke out in its second season for ABC. Now the trend for network television is to feature a number of high profile women in lead roles that are driving storylines like the new drama How to Get Away with Murder featuring two time Oscar® nominee Viola Davis which will air right after Scandal on Thursday nights. Coincidentally Fox has new drama featuring Davis’s Oscar® winning costar in The Help, Octavia Spencer in Red Band Society. CW gets on board with Jane the Virgin starring newcomer Christina Rodriguez about a Latina women who gets accidentally artificially inseminated. I guess there really is a story for everyone. Don’t forget there’s also Fox’s midseason Empire starring Oscar® nominees Terrance Howard and Taraji P. Henson and CBS has Stalker in its bullpen starring Maggie Q.

"Grey's Anatomy" & "Scandal" creator Shonda Rhimes will have a third drama on ABC's Thursday night lineup. This one stars another African American actress, Viola Davis takes the lead in "How to Get Away with Murder."

“Grey’s Anatomy” & “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes will have a third drama on ABC’s Thursday night lineup. This one stars another African American actress, Viola Davis takes the lead in “How to Get Away with Murder.”

What I’m Hopeful For This Year

Maybe dramas just are able to easier reflect a broader spectrum of this country’s cultures than comedies can. Perhaps executives became so afraid of becoming too politically incorrect by exploiting our cultural biases and stereotypes when it comes to creating laughs for comedies. Nevertheless I am thankful that networks are putting out shows like Cristela starring Latina comedian Cristela Alzono and Selfie starring actor John Cho. I hope all of these shows succeed, but I fully realize that this is probably not going to happen. Now that the broadcast networks are taking a chance on more people of color in starring roles, I fully believe that there’s nowhere to go but up. I’m filled with anxiety because I fear that all of these shows either tank or actually be successful by following too many stereotypes. I sincerely hope that these shows are filled with plenty of laughs or a lot of high drama in which the actor’s cultural identities aren’t completely put aside but hopefully they can actually enhance the shows and storylines they happen to be in. Hey, when watching television one can live in a fantasy world, why can’t we dream while were there?

Kim & Kanye’s Wedding Is Imminent: Why I Personally Don’t Care

Image

Kim Kardashian & Kanye West’s “whirlwind” romance is about to come to its pinnacle with their upcoming nuptials to be apparently held as an intimate affair to occur either in France or Southern California or perhaps both. All I have to say is please “Kimye” say your “I do’s” as fast as you can. without incident or documentation. In fact, there’s no need to let the public know that you have in reality done the deed because quite frankly…nobody cares.

Let’s face it just because cameras are not present shooting the event for the Kardashian’s E! reality show, nothing of this wedding can be considered private. Once the nuptials are said and the party winds down, no matter where the event is held, we’ll all know about it and the details will be shared. The problem is hardly anyone will care who wore what who said what and who did what.

Kim and Kayne feel free to keep this one private even though we all know you both have the urge to overshare. Case in point I love Keeping Up With the Kardashians it’s a mindless time waster for sure but the episode in which the proposal was showcased in San Francisco that just so happened to be filmed for the cameras was one of the most disingenuous moments in reality history I have ever witnessed. You cannot claim to want privacy and then show something like that one the air. I personally think that that particular moment backfired as it felt so forced and hallow that the reality of the moment was lost on the audience and quite frankly it’s hung a pall over them as a couple ever since.

Then there is Kanye’s fashion makeover of Kim. As displayed by her new haute couture look on the red carpets or whenever she steps out in front of the paparazzi all of a sudden Kim’s now wearing high end designer duds. She’s hanging out at the Met Gala with Anna Wintour who once said she’d never be caught dead with a pseudo-celebrity like Kim Kardashian. And of they were on the cover to much consternation from the fashion elite. It’s all coming across as manufactured and unnatural of a relationship that supposedly started as a friendship and has escalated into something more.

The entire notion of Kimye is comes across as a business arrangement because that what Kanye West does and that’s what the Kardashians do. This just has no genuineness to this moment or sincerity to this coupling. Plus, we don’t have it shoved down our throats when we really don’t care.

So on behalf of your so called fans, nothing but the best to you Kimye and your small but intimate wedding and your continuing relationship. I just hope you’re expecting any gifts like caring from us fans in return.

Why Docu-Reality Series Like “Lindsay” & “True Tori” Hurt Their Own Cause

With the recent premiere of True Tori on Lifetime and the recent wrap of Lindsay on OWN we have entered a new era of reality television where the celebrity docuseries serves as a catharsis or insta image rehab for the subject matter being documented. In these series, what matters not is whether or not the drama that happens on screen is being amped up for the cameras either helping or hurting theses actresses’ psyches not to mention their careers. But it is the fact they are doing these so called “serious series” in which they claim to be giving a window into their true lives showcasing their true problems which documents reality in a whole new light.

Not even Oprah Winfrey could save Lindsay Lohan from herself. Even when she told her to cut the bull while taping her docuseries Lindsay on OWN, Miss Lohan did her own things, of course we all watched.

Not even Oprah Winfrey could save Lindsay Lohan from herself. Even when she told her to cut the bull while taping her docuseries Lindsay on OWN, Miss Lohan did her own things, of course we all watched.

Lindsay Lohan agreed to do an eight episode docuseries for the Oprah Winfrey led OWN network. With its run of Tyler Perry sitcoms with recorded laugh tracks and dramas with questionable writing, not to mention inspirational shows grouped together as “Super Soul Sunday” the OWN clearly remains looking for a singular voice where it is known as a television destination for something other than unmemorable self help reality shows and creatively lackluster productions. No doubt Ms. Winfrey was hoping for “Lindsay” so be that new force where her network is positioned to be a destination for quality documentaries that appeal to the masses by focusing on a well-known entity like a Hollywood celebrity in the midst of an attempted comeback. And who better to be the face of said comeback than that of Hollywood troubled poster child Lindsay Lohan? Lindsay was fronted by documentarian Amy Rice who gets Lindsay to agree to film her a mere days from being released from her sixth stay in rehab.

So what have we learned so far? Lindsay is a hoarder, in the most serious sense possible. The series is supposed to showcase making her big move from Los Angeles back to New York, and she has to move all of her possessions. So for the first three episodes or so we see Lindsay getting her life together by unpacking her accessories and trying to sell her used clothes. Lindsay also has time management issues as she is late for everything whether it be for work or something inconsequential. Clearly whether inebriated or sober some things never change for Lindsay. Lindsay also has issues with what the truth especially when it comes to her sobriety and what that exactly means to her. Cameras haven’t been allowed to shoot all of Lindsay questionable behavior, which makes me wonder how much all-access documentarian Rice and OWN executives we expecting to get versus what they were supposed to get. We only get a little of Lindsay interacting with her equally troubled family from her father to her mother, both of whom have issues, to her more supportive siblings and friends we actually get very little into what makes Lindsay personally tick and she’s supposed to be kept sane amongst all of the madness in her life right now.

We also see Lindsay deal with the aspects of getting her life back on track. If it doesn’t completely throw her off. Everyone around her seems to be questioning her sobriety from the director, to her sober coach, to her assistant, to her life coach, everyone is keeping tabs on her. And this notion is explained by the producers (for reality television at least) with the usage of Full Screen computer graphics to explain some of the action that isn’t happening on screen that the producers feel that need to be explained. Such as “Lindsay has been upstairs for the past two hours and refuses to let cameras into her apartment.” Followed by a moment of silence meant for viewers left to ponder.

Tori Spelling let's it all hang out on her new docuseries True Tori on Lifetime.

Tori Spelling let’s it all hang out on her new docuseries True Tori on Lifetime.

That’s a similar take the producers of Tori Spelling’s new reality series True Tori is employing on the Lifetime Network. Here the issues are focuses around actress Tori Spelling dealing with the cheating allegations with her husband Dean McDermott and how she’s handling her brood of four young children on her own. Here the drama lies in the fact that McDermott is still in live-in therapy for his sexual addiction and he and Tori record their therapy sessions on camera for the world to see. (But we aren’t allowed to see their therapist on camera, oookay…) We also get Tori giving her own very long emotional confessional in multiple one on one interviews to the camera where she gets to tell her side of the story with regards to her husband, as well as her getting the chance to explain how haggard her life has now become now that she’s on her own. In terms of action, we see Tori running around her house with her young children acting up, driving them in the car as her young children act up again, and then talking with friends on how Dean betrayed her and how she’s handling all of the drama. And that’s the gist of the story behind True Tori she rants she cries we suffer as we watch.

And that is the biggest problems between these new docuseries that claim to be true documentaries and not true reality series.  There’s too much emotion on display and all of the emotion focuses on crying and whining and the “woe is me” approach. Lindsay cries because people don’t believe she is sober. Tori is crying because her husband cheated on her and has now left her on her own. These women need to get their emotion in check and not display all of their feelings on camera. It’s self serving and makes me personally not root for them, as if I had any reason to root for Lindsay and Tori. But then again I wouldn’t be watching their respective shows if I didn’t have some rooting interest for these poor pathetic women. I’m just not sure if these women need to lay everything on the table for viewers to digest. Sure this supposed to be a real “documentary” where the viewer gets an inside view of what makes these women tick during troubled times, but I just don’t want it to feel forced. And sadly as is the case with Lindsay and Tori, I’m feeling too forced fed right now. Give me a vapid self involved reality show focused on rich people and their petty problems anything and I’d hang around to watch anytime!

Why Stephen Colbert Taking Over “Late Show” Doesn’t Necessarily Wow Me…Right Now That Is

Stephen Colbert welcomes Jimmy Fallon to his new time slot and Tonight Show. Come 2015 they will be time slot rivals for the full hour when Colbert takes over for David Letterman.

Stephen Colbert welcomes Jimmy Fallon to his new time slot and Tonight Show. Come 2015 they will be time slot rivals for the full hour when Colbert takes over for David Letterman.

It was just announced today that Stephen Colbert will be taking over for David Letterman as host of CBS’s Late Show. While Colbert was the early odds on favorite for the hosting gig once Letterman announced his retirement last week. I couldn’t help but meet that announcement with a huge reaction of “Meh.” Karen Valby of Entertainment Weekly summed it up for me as a rather unsurprising pick. But then again Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter says the pick couldn’t be more inspired or better transitioned. Okay Tim, all I have to say to that is be careful what you wish for.

Don’t get me wrong I love Stephen Colbert as a performer, he’s actually a very good actor, with a sensational delivery who can add punch to any zinger especially those one liners that focus on his specialty: current events with a political twist. But the problem for me accepting this is hire is that right now all we know of Colbert is that is he a performer and not a traditional comedian, he’s an actual actor with chops, believe it or not I’ve seen him on an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent a few years back and he was hamming it up before he really blew up on Comedy Central. We don’t really know how he will fair once he’s out of his “conservative character.” He may become the normal traditional talk show host. Who’s looking forward to that? I have a distinctive feeling he’s not going to be as critical and inquisitive to his guests as he is currently on his show on Comedy Central show. He may be forced to suck up to his guests just like everyone else currently does in late night just to please the suits at CBS.

Perhaps I’m just overanalyzing this, since he is an actor, Colbert will no doubt do skits and will feel free to ham it up galore without any self-awareness. This could go either one of two ways, he’ll hit it out of the ballpark with skit after skit showing his range or he’ll mellow out and become as bland as Jay Leno when he took over the Tonight Show back in 1992. Either way we’re in for something unexpected. And the timeline of Colbert’s contract at Comedy Central clearly implied he was waiting for Letterman to retire after his own one year extension at CBS. The hiring of Colbert also raises the question of how he’ll appeal to younger viewers. His show on Comedy Central appeals to younger males which no doubt makes CBS anticipating big numbers. But right now it’s a fight between the two Jimmy’s: Fallon and Kimmel over who has the most viral buzz and best moments that have people, especially younger people, talking over the water cooler the next morning. Whether or not Colbert can join the social media conversation outside of his “character” remains a question that David Bloom at Deadline Hollywood posted and has serious repercussions in this online media world.

Another reason for trepidation comes from Valby at EW, who brings up the point that she was unpleasantly surprised by the pick because CBS wasn’t thinking outside the box enough by not picking a woman or minority for the hosting gig. She feels someone like Amy Sedaris or Amy Schumer would have been perfect for the job. I do find that reasoning a bit disingenuous because let’s face it CBS wasn’t even considering a woman or minority candidate for this important position. By previous evidence alone, CBS has never been the first place that you would find the most innovation programming decisions. Think back to 2004 when they had a chance to replace Craig Kilborn as the host of The Late Late Show, D.L. Hughley impressed everyone from his tryout that many a comedian and actor was after. But who did they hire after multiple tryouts? Longshot Irishman Craig Ferguson of “The Drew Carey Show” fame, who was not as well known at the time and not as well reviewed during his tryout. CBS took the safest route possible and now may have another problem on replacing Ferguson in the 12:35am slot since he didn’t get the job he’s thought was rightfully his at 11:35pm.

But that’s looking too far in advance. Right now there are a lot of unanswered questions. All we know is Colbert’s writing crew will be going with him and he will get to keep the “Late Show” title. Everything else is up in the air from the venue to production staff since Letterman’s production company Worldwide Pants owns both the name and concept of Late Show and The Late Late Show due to the deal that CBS made to lure Letterman to their network in the first place back in 1994. Colbert is not spring chicken himself, in fact he turns fifty this year, although his age and youthful looks not withstanding he could have a very productive Late Show career that could last as many as fifteen years. Will Colbert have another long and productive career in prime time with more corporate pressure behind him? More than likely he will. Will he make television history with his own slice of primetime broadcast immortality. The odds lean towards yes, but realistically only time will tell on that front. Colbert will have a highly anticipated launch with viewers that will no doubt initially push him to number one in the rankings. Whether or not he can keep them and our interest over the long run remains the biggest question of all.

Why I’m Going to Miss E!’s #RichKids of Beverly Hills…No, Really!

 

I love a good guilty pleasure and E!'s new series Rich Kids of Beverly Hills is one of the stupidest pleasures of them all!

I love a good guilty pleasure and E!’s new series Rich Kids of Beverly Hills is one of the stupidest pleasures of them all!

Okay I’m a masochist…maybe I’m just a gluten for punishment. But when it comes to my new reality obsession I am majorly depressed that it has quietly gone away with its season, and potentially series finale, which aired last Sunday on E! It’s called #RichKids of Beverly Hills. It focuses on three wealthy girls in their twenties who come from three wealthy families in Beverly Hills and the various men in their lives weather they be the loves of their lives or the gays in their lives. There’s rich Asian Dorothy Wang, who aspires to become an elite real estate agent, her best friend Morgan Stewart an aspiring style and fashion blogger, and Persian Roxy Sowalty an aspiring interior designer, who as the series begins is the first of the girls to be financially cut off from her parents. The girls come across as lazy, materialistic, egotistical, vapid, borderline ignorant, and maddeningly self-indulgent. It doesn’t help the fact that Morgan constantly berates her mother by treating her like her assistant, on top of calling her by first name Susan. And for those reasons alone I love watching the show! It’s as if we’ve been allowed into this exclusive world of the fabulously elite twenty-year olds who have yet to grow up but know how to spend their parents dough on the most ludicrous things no person would ever dream of having or wanting for that matter. What sets this show apart is the three girls and their friends constantly communicate through social media, namely their addiction to texting and Instagram. Their love of social media is constantly mentioned throughout the show’s storylines, hence the hashtag in the show’s title. To drive that point home the show’s producers also use that as a transition from one scene to the next. At first I hated the constant full screen graphics of the girls texts on their iPhones complete with full sound effects, but as the show wore on, for some reason, this concept grew on me. Perhaps I was getting used to the fact that these kids were always on their cell phones, like most of the youth of America, and I just accepted this fact as this is the way they communicate.

In the very first episode we are introduced to three men that interplay in the ladies’ lives, relator Brendan Fitzpatrick, Morgan’s boyfriend, and their two gay best friends one is flamboyant music producer Jonny Drubel, the other is even more flamboyant New York based college student EJ Johnson, son of basketball legend Ervin “Magic” Johnson. All of these kids, well they’re adults but they hardly act like it, come from families of wealth so they don’t actually have to do anything to make a living. And so when the series first began, our three female leads don’t have any employment to speak of. And for the first few episodes we see them literally do nothing, they go shopping, they go out to lunch, they play with their dogs, they exercise, they go out on dates. We also see them sit by the pool and take pictures of themselves on their cell phones, i.e. selfies. They fight, they get drunk, they get make up, they get crazy, they dance, they spend ungodly amounts of money. That’s basically the gist of the first few episodes. They do everything but work. They playfully call it being #funemployed. That’s another interest that #RichKids hopes to exploit. Not only constantly text each other ad naseum but they also tend to speak in social media talk with hashtags being thrown in any conversion whenever appropriate, or not appropriate as the case may be.

Eventually, as many reality shows tend to do they head onto another location for a change of scenery. So the gang heads on a so-called group vacation to Cabo, and more adventures, arguments, and hilarity ensues.  Roxy gets a job and not an internship as Dorothy would have you believe. Dorothy gets a job. Morgan feels left out, she finally gets something going. The gang heads to New York, more hijinks ensue. They still act like spoiled knuckleheads. But they’re endearing knuckleheads and they are on occasion humbled by life’s challenges whether it’s Roxie getting cut off financially or Morgan being questioned on what she actually blogs about. (I visited her blog, there’s not too much going on, and no sweetie you can’t so called “touch” people with your writing when you hardly write about anything!) What I love best about the show is the one liners that our two besties, Dorothy and Morgan, have when it comes to life. When everyone else around her seems to have a job Morgan opines “I’m like Teen Mom. Home and I can’t go to Prom.” When discussing fashion while in Vegas, Dorothy says “We look perfectly in tune but not the same like Destiny’s Child. All cohesive but different. It definitely looks like Tina Knowles was somewhere behind us.” And when discussing the current trends in social media Morgan serves up “There’s like dust on my Facebook. I haven’t checked it in that long.” Ah these are some sage opinions on life for sure. I do question if the producers aren’t feeding some of these lines to them. I mean who can be that quippy all of the time? These people don’t come across as the most brilliant human beings if they were they wouldn’t be starring this alleged reality show for sure. So take that for what it’s worth.

Many critics are calling today’s primetime television world the new golden age of television. From pay cable to basic cable to online media to even network television, everyone is putting out some of their best work, especially in the field of continuing drama. The same cannot be said for the state of reality television. When was the last you heard a truly great reality show. And no esteemed television critics, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is not one of the so called new landmark series that’s changing the way we see families represented on television. There are new other reality shows out there like Chrisley Knows Best that come across as so unbelievably false and the drama, if that’s what you call it, is highly manufactured. Or Whalburgers where life is supposed to revolve around the family business but nothing interesting ever happens ever. For a reality show to break through it has to be as less manufactured and devoid of as many hijinks as possible. For me, I feel #RichKids accomplishes this. For some odd reason you find yourself caring what happens to these people. I can’t explain it but they’re vapid and selfish, which makes them no better or worse than any other reality stars. But they are living life as well they know how to live and you’ve got to give them that. And I quite frankly I enjoy seeing them live life to the fullest. Better on someone else’s dime than their own. It’s a sad and desperate time we’re living in and quite frankly I’m loving it!

Update: E! announced this morning that it has renewed #RichKids of Beverly Hills for a second season. On top of that they’ve picked up a quasi spinoff #RichKids of New York has been ordered along with two additional Kardashian spin-offs. Really E!? I’m not sure about the East Coast version of #RichKids. People in New York who are vain and self-involved take their vapidness with some sense of seriousness while on the Left Coast it tends to be tongue and cheek. I guess I’ll be Team Cali all the way. And I’ll be counting down the days until season 2 picks up in August.

 

Why This Year’s Oscar® Season Was Exciting, The Show Not So Much

Image

What can I say about the year in film for 2013? We had a lot of tight close races during award season which should have made for an exciting Oscarcast®. Unfortunately I was wrong. Everyone who was favorite to win went on to win. Not that that was a necessarily a bad thing. You know you’re in for a long slog of an evening when the animated short “Mr. Hublot” wins Best Animated Short Film qualifies as the biggest upset of the night. As someone who viewed all nine films nominated for best picture and all twenty actors nominated for their performances, I really did feel that 12 Years a Slave was really the Best Picture of the year and deserved to win. If I was an Academy member I would voted for 12 Years a Slave over Gravity, and Lupita Nyong’o over Jennifer Lawrence mainly because I felt both Gravity and American Hustle were more or less pretty overrated in their own unique ways. Don’t get me wrong, both films were good but not as riveting as the storyline and performances found in 12 Years a Slave. Now some will say Hollywood was pandering after years of ignoring stories of struggling minority groups finally serving as a make good. Perhaps 12 Years winning signifies the Academy inviting a younger a diverse membership has finally paid off. The optimist in me hopes they picked 12 Years a Slave because they felt it really was the Best Movie they saw this year and they just simply amazed by Gravity‘s technological capabilities they chose to throw them some bones, okay a lot of bones.  All four actors gave warm and thoughtful speeches, which when you think of it that’s actually hard to do after so many trips to the podium at so many different award ceremonies leading up to the big night. They each represented an actor in a different stage of their career. Nyong’o was the newcomer fresh to Hollywood movies and grateful to be there. Leto represented a comeback of an actor in which we knew was on the rise but then chose to give it all up to take his career in another direction.  McConaughey represented a comeback of a different kind, an actor who struggled for years to find himself all of a sudden throws himself into a number of roles and is congratulated for challenging himself. And finally Blanchett, an actress perhaps at her peak giving a career performance among a number of career performances who simply cementing her already legendary career.

Unfortunately it was the actual Oscar® when the best thing about the show is a commercial. Tina Fey’s fun American Express ad was the cleverest thing this night offered up. The show did get some positive reviews from the critics, meaning Ellen DeGeneres truly is critic proof. I was texting a friend and we were debating if she performing improv for much of her act.  I felt that if she wasn’t performing unrehearsed improv then then she wasn’t executing the skits or jokes properly. It seemed like she tried to hard to hip and current (and apparently break records) with all of the selfies (see the photo above that apparently broke Twitter, although I had no problem with it) and the tweeting. It felt unnecessary. The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman gave what I felt was a harsh but accurate review, he criticized the show for being too self-involved and as always overly long. I agree that the show is way too long but it always is, and always will be, and that will never change. I was unnerved by how much the show focused on things that were unrelated to the films they were supposed to be celebrating this year. The same producers came back for the second consecutive year but still managed to make a number of questionable moves. They once again went back to the well of themes last year it was “Musicals” this year it’s “Heroes,” how about just celebrating this years winners? Also, why have Bette Midler sing after the montage of deceased celebrities when the package was already shown? Maybe the Divine Miss M didn’t want to share the spotlight with dead people. Am I the only one out there who felt that Shirley Temple deserved more than placard in the middle of the “In Memoriam” package? The selection of presenters and the pairings made no sense. Anna Kendrick and Gabourey Sidibe? What do Zack Efron and John Travolta have in common? They both flubbed their lines (as way too many did) as they were introducing their film packages. If I was producing the show, I would have gotten people who weren’t nominated but were still players in the Awards season such as Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, maybe even Robert Redford (if their game that is). Why have Will Smith present Best Picture when he was in ironically one of the worst pictures of the year? Why not have Ben Affleck present Best Picture, his wife was there as part of a Best Picture nominee, why wasn’t he? I was perhaps most shocked by all the production snafus that occurred during the, host Ellen DeGeneres constantly had an open mic on as she introduced segments as did performers after they were received standing ovations. On that that note: up and down the audience went. I swear it was like watching a work out for geriatrics. Who decides who deserves a standing ovation? Sorry Alfonso Cuaron everyone else who won in a major category got one but you. Better luck at winning over the audience next time. I’m glad that the Academy chose to honor films and performances that were truly deserving this year. If only the ceremony that was produced to celebrate those films could match them. Then again what do I know? There’s always next year I guess.

Why I’m Looking Forward to this Sunday’s Academy Awards®

Image

It’s finally here the end is in sight! This Sunday night represents the big night where months of campaigning and schmoozing by the film industry comes to a culmination with the 86th Annual Oscars® (notice how they’re not called the Academy Awards anymore?). What makes this year’s Annual Academy Awards so fascinating is the surprising amount of competitiveness that remains in many categories. Usually leading into the final weekend of the Oscars® we have a pretty clear picture of what film’s name was going to be read for Best Picture of the Year. But not this year. In fact there are so many close races I may actually have to watch the whole pain inducing four-hour long ceremony. Every year, I cringe at the lame jokes, painful banter, pans to Brangelina laughing with the jokes knowing full well they’re uncomfortable with all of the attention. (At least I think they are) This year’s Best Picture Race is the closest I have seen since Crash upset Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture of 2005. A year later, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed came on really strong and managed to win four awards when originally only being favorite to win only Best Director. This year we have a close battle between visual effects masterpiece Gravity fighting off prestige picture 12 Years a Slave. Gravity was good, great even, throughout most of the ninety minutes of a motion picture that flew by, Sandra Bullock worked her tanked topped body to carry off this entire movie. While Gravity can be considered a technical marvel, in my opinion, 12 Years a Slave was a true masterpiece. It’s brutal, it’s tough to watch but it sticks with you long after you leave the theater and that’s a good thing. When Best Picture is announced I think that Gravity will win because they are going to sweep a majority of tech prizes like Cinematography, Editing, Visual Effects and Sound Mixing and Sound Effects (Someone please tell me the difference between those two categories) that many Oscar® voters are just going to mark their ballot for Gravity all the way through. Which is fine, and wouldn’t be the worst pick but it in a year like this with such exceptional competition wouldn’t be the best movie pick of the year. For the acting awards, three out of four are slam dunks with Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto all cruising to victory any of those three lose and consider it upset and anything could happen throughout the night. EW.com has a great article on why this year’s Best Actor competition ranks as one of the best ever, and I agree. Supporting Actress is a tough one with the battle between newcomer Lupita Nyongo versus now “veteran” Jennifer Lawrence. Personally I’m hoping for a victory for Nyong’o whose role of Patsey is small but pivotal and completely heart-breaking in 12 Years a Slave over that of Lawrence who I feel is miscast as the sassy mother and estranged wife of Christian Bale in American Hustle. There’s also something about Lawrence winning back to back Oscars® rubs me the wrong way…I mean if Julie couldn’t win back to back Oscars® for Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, JLaw has no business doing it either. Watch out for some potential victors in what are considered the lower level categories, can Her beat American Hustle in Best Original Screenplay? (And if Jennifer Lawrence loses as well, does that mean American Hustle, once with so much momentum, actually go zero for 10?) I hope Her wins, although the film has plenty of holes in its storyline, Her still had more imagination and creativity than any screenplay this year. Also, can Frozen finally win Disney its first award for Best Animated feature? And will songwriter Robert Lopez, at age 39, become the youngest winner of the EGOT with a victory for writing “Let it Go”? Finally my biggest hope is that Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (can’t forget the colon) actually wins Best Makeup over the likes of Dallas Buyers Club. I’m afraid the Academy is too highbrow to honor a Johnny Knoxville film but one can always dream right? Anyway this Oscar® Sunday I will be watching, blogging, tweeting, and texting my reactions to the winners and losers. How will you commemorate one of the most unpredictable Academy Awards season in recent memory?