Thursday, February 15, 2007

Shonda Rhimes: Genius

I've probably written about her before, but just to underscore it, Shonda Rhimes, creator of "Grey's Anatomy," is brilliant. When she writes episodes, you know it. Part two of a three part storyline just aired, and it was killer on many levels. The ending of part two, with Meredith in heaven, meeting the bomb squad guy who was blown to bits in front of her and Denny, Izzy's love, was sublime. And yet...

I was originally not going to mention Rhimes' genius and just write this: she took my breath away during the scenes when medical personnel were trying to match victims with family members. When one particular person identified his (now) late wife by viewing a Polaroid photo, it sucked the air out of me. I could relate. I know how he felt.

I know.

I know.

I know.

Friday, February 09, 2007

A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

The news of Anna Nicole Smith's death at the age of 39 saddened me. Not because I was a fan, but because it was another case of a person surrounded by leeches who overlooked self-destructive behavior as long as the money kept rolling in.

Elvis Presley comes immediately to mind. He was constantly among the guys/hangers-on known as "The Memphis Mafia," yet no one noticed his extreme appetities when it came to food and pills? Come on! (If there's any solace to be found in the tragedy that Elvis became, it's that "The Memphis Mafia" was left with very little -- which was certainly more than they deserved.)

Where were Whitney Houston's loved ones during the horror that was her marriage to Bobby Brown? Perhaps Clive Davis, her original mentor, can help her come back from that disaster. I hope so.

There are many more examples, but please find them for yourself; I'm too disgusted to continue. Smith has been dead less than 24 days, and they've already sold footage of her inert (and, reportedly, not visible) body being wheeled out on a gurney. The same people who were less than decent to her in life soldier on. How pathetic.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Eating Crow Regarding Earlier Post, "James Blonde?"

Every now and then I like to do something out of the box. Last Thursday, I went with friends Sharon and Gary to a 10:20pm showing of "Casino Royale," as it was literally our last chance to see it unless we wanted to schlep into Manhattan. Neither Sharon nor Gary had to work on Friday, and I scheduled a client appointment for lunchtime, giving me a couple of extra hours of sleep. We three were slightly dubious about the movie's potential and more so about the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond.

Well, we three were blown away. Non-stop excitement (well, except for the card games, which never do anything for me) and action. Craig was masterful as Bond. He looked great in and out of a tuxedo (especially out), and was probably the most feral Bond ever. As for the movie, I rank it in the top three of all Bond films, and quite possibly number one. Now I can't wait for the DVD, but am glad I made the extra effort to see it in the theater. It was worth the late evening.

Mr. Craig, I apologize for my initial apprehension, and hope that you make many, many more Bond films. (After all, you're only 38, the youngest actor ever to play Bond!) At the risk of offending Sean Connery fans, you ARE Bond.

Now, would someone please get me a bowl of crow?

Deep Thoughts and Other Stuff

Didn't you love those "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" vignettes on SNL back in the '90s? They always made me smile.

Other things that are making smile these days: "Ugly Betty," Jennifer Hudson and her upcoming Oscar win, the soundtrack of "Dreamgirls," the Democratic majority and how it is responding to Shrub's "surge" proposal.

"Ugly Betty," which has won Golden Globes and SAG Awards in recent weeks, just laid a tremendous story twist on us, and it's brilliant. So was much of the dialogue in last night's show (which, thankfully, I taped so I can watch it again tonight, hanging on every word). The show is nearly perfect in its writing and the performance of its wonderful cast, led by young America Ferrara. Having seen Ferrara in "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," I knew this was a show I'd check out when it debuted (and having Vanessa Williams on board didn't hurt one bit), and I'm so glad I did. I even convinced my friend Susan to watch it, despite her dislike of the show's title. Well, she started watching it and called me up screaming about how great it was. I smiled and couldn't resist a "told you so!"

ABC has me rather pleased these days with the quality of my favorite prime time shows. I never miss "Ugly Betty," "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives" and "Brothers and Sisters" (I even watch "Supernanny on occasion, even though I'm not big on kids. It's probably the pleasure I get from seeing Jo Frost discipline those brats, plus confirmation that my firm decision not to have kids was the right one for me!). I deviate to another network only for one show, "Las Vegas," but as that program's stars include some ABC alums, no guilt trip there.

Jennifer Hudson is a real-life Cinderella story, isn't she? Talented enough to get near the end of the finals of "American Idols," yet a target of some of Simon Cowell's more odious comments, she beat out more than 800 other contenders for the role of Effie White in "Dreamgirls" (including, in a sweet bit of irony, "AI" winner Fantasia). I saw the original Broadway production, and could not imagine anyone other than Jennifer Holliday as Effie. Before I saw the movie, I listened to its soundtrack, and while I liked Hudson's rendition of "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going," I thought it a lesser performance. Then I saw the movie, merging Hudson's singing with her out-of-this-world performance, and I realized how wrong I was. Sometimes hearing is not enough; you need the performance visual to fully appreciate a song. (Did I just regurgitate the original business plan for MTV?) Hudson deserves all the accolades and awards she's been getting. The audience applauded her performance, applauded at the end of the movie, then waited for the cast credits to roll, giving Hudson yet another round of applause. I have never seen this happen at a movie, yet I understand it happened at many screenings of "Dreamgirls." I'm just pissed that it wasn't nominated for a "Best Picture" Oscar, but am sure it will grab several statues on February 25. Jennifer Hudson will be holding one, and so will Eddie Murphy. Dream movie, dream cast.