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October 21, 1993 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-10-21

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, October 21, 1993 -

Late night more than a b:

My grandfather served on a ship in the Second
World War, and my father patched up marines
during the Vietnam conflict. Me? I am a veteran of
the late-night talk show wars.
All right, it is an old clich6, but it is a battle out
there - a battle for advertising dollars, for our
dollars. And the war has already had its first
casualty. On Sunday, Fox cried "Medic!" and
replaced Chevy Chase with "In Living Color"
reruns. And then there were four.
Call me old-fashioned, call me sentimental,
call me just plain old, but I remember a time when
there were only two late night talk shows (and
only one daytime one), and NBC held the mo-
nopoly. It was a perfect arrangement - the old
folks (my grandparents) would catch Carson, with
his golf swing and Ed's Santa impersonation.
Then it was time for them to go to bed, and youth
controlled the night. Letterman was a young
person's rebel of a talk show host. Like a little kid
with something he can'tbelieve is real, Letterman's
main way to entertain us was by pushing the
boundaries of the talk show format, just'cause he
Now, Carson is gone and Letterman is older
and at a new time. Letterman, though, made the
smart move on the first "Late Show" by proving
his was as wacked out as ever. And it now seems
that the rebel is the example, as every schmuck
with a talk show tries to imitate dangerous Dave's
nature (all, that is, except Conan O'Brian, who not
only seems naturally weird, but has the "Late
Night with Dave Letterman" shadow to break out
of). It's like Kylie Minogue in a leather jacket.
Leno, who is trying to break out of The Great
One's mold, spent last Friday calling up the Psy-
chic Friends Network to find out who would win
the Series (Jays take the first game, Phillies sweep
the rest). Maybe soon, he'll strap a camera to a
primate. And the late Chevy regularly did a video

Q & A with people from around the country called
"Talk to Chevy." A high-tech viewer mail, with-
out the laughs or breaking glass.
You've heard it before, and you'll hear it
again, but Conan O'Brian was the unknown fac-
tor. Though with little TV experience (he showed
Letterman a tape from "Saturday Night Live,"
with skits he was in, as in playing the drum in the
I remember a time when there
were only two late night talk
shows , and NBC held the
monopoly...the old folks (my
grandparents) would catch
Carson... Then It was time for
them to go to bed, and youth
controlled the night. Letterman
was a young person's rebel of
a talk show host. Like a little
kid with something he can't
believe is real, Letterman's
main way to entertain us was
by pushing the boundaries of
the talk show format, just
'cause he could.
background during a Gretzky / Hawaii sketch), he
was let in with the big boys.
O'Brian's wackiness is noticeably different
from Dave's, which can probably be attributed to
the fact thatLetterman had subbed for Carson, and
finally got his break, while O'Brian was thrown
into a completely new situation. Though hismono-
logue is still a bit labored, Conan is improving,

attle ground
something Chevy failed to do. With bits such as
"In the Year 2000," which offers glimpses of the
future such as "Corn holders will be outlawed, but
there will be more of them than ever," Conan
seems a bit strange, but he's adapting.
The man who may be doing the real losing in
the late night talk show shake-up is Arsenio Hall,
whose show has been pushed back by CBS and
Fox affiliates carrying network shows (In Detroit,
he's back to 1 a.m., behind Letterman and
"Cheers"). As his show dwindles, Arsenio must
be getting nervous, having gone through cancella-
tion years ago when he took over Fox's original,
and ill-fated, late show after Joan Rivers.
And the big winner? Garry Shandling /1"Larry
Sanders." With truth being stranger than fiction
after prime-time, "The Larry Sanders Show"'s
behind-the-scenes look at a late night talk show
hits it right on the mark, well enough to draw
Letterman and Leno to make appearances.
Some will ask, where is Rush? ("I knew it, it's
a liberal conspiracy not to name him.") I will say
that all the talk shows mentioned share a basic
formula -- a band, guests, monologue, etc....,
things seemingly set in stone when Steve Allen
did the "Tonight Show." Rush's monologues do
not fit in that category, and neither does his show.
(Rush fans can say that he's in a class by himself.)
Where is late night going? Don't ask me. Fox
is looking for something to replace Chevy in time
for Sweeps Week, though it may not be a talk
show. Believe it or not, there are more corpses in
the late-night wake than there are actual talk
shows. Chevy, Joan, Sajak, Dennis (something
about those "Weekend Update" people - beware
of "Up Late with Charles Rocket"). The market is
currently overflowing, and some will perish. Prob-
ably Arsenio. Leno may survive. With little com-
petition at that time, so may Conan. And of course,
Letterman will remain. After all, someone has to
set the proper example.

Take a look at this waterfall. Now don't you see Vermont in a new light?
VacatioRni in Vermont
Vermont is a state that is often forgotten. Tucked in between New York,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Quebec, it is isolated geographically,
feeling like a tiny country all its own with under 600,000 residents.
Central and southern Vermont consist of a dense area of mountains,
scattered with rustic villages in valleys, complete with church steeples rising
above the trees. Waterbury, a beautiful small town in the central area 26 miles
southeast of Burlington, is the fabled home of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream,
perched on a mountainside on Route 100. Between mid-June and late-October,
up to 4,000 visitors a day crowd into Waterbury to eat ice cream and take the
factory tour, making it Vermont's largest tourist attraction. Central Vermont
is also home to much of the states dairy industry, the common joke being that
there are more cows in Vermont than there are people.
* Northern Vermont, known somewhat sarcastically (but with definite
affection) as the Northeast Kingdom, consists of a less-crowded landscape
with broader mountains and lush valleys - it is the most rural region of a rural
state. Bustling general stores serve as a post offices and centers of local gossip
in towns like Danville or Eden, fitting the stereotype of intimate rural life.
Burlington is Vermont's largest city with a population of about 40,000
residents (about 100,000 in the metropolitan area). Often called "The Queen
City" because it is larger than the state capital of Montpelier, Burlington is
home to the University of Vermont and several small colleges, bringing not
only some 15,000 students to the city, but also creating a cosmopolitan
* community that is the state's cultural center. Situated at Lake Champlain's
widest point, Burlington is also a popular tourist area. Chic and expensive
restaurants, shops and galleries fill both sides of Church Street, testifying to the
importance of tourism's role in local commerce.
Aside from its tourism, Burlington is regarded as a hippie-town that
beckons artists, intellectuals and tired city-dwellers who want a life away from
it all, though not too far away from it all. Street performers and musicians are
a common sight on Church St. in summer and fall, and a summer jazz festival,
among many festivals, recently featured Tito Puente. The local and regional
band scene is a big industry in Burlington, its most famous product being the
tie-dye phenomenon of Phish, whose local followers delight in the fact that the
band is listed in the Burlington phone directory.
Nectar's, the club where Phish started, is one of many clubs and bars on
Main Street. Burlington, in accordance with its alternative image, also houses
the nation's only library created specifically for unpublished manuscripts, the
Brautigan Library. The fact that Burlington had a socialist mayor for most of
the 1980s, as well as its comprehensive recycling system, attest to a progres-
sive attitude in the earthiest and most environmentally conscious of states.
Despite the increasing marketability of Ben and Jerry's, maple syrup and
the endless cow merchandising, it is the mountains, lakes, camping and hiking
that draw visitors by the thousands to Vermont. Hikers and climbers scramble
0 to the peak of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak at over 4,000 feet,
overlooking a state park on one side and the Stowe valley on the other. Boaters
from all over New England fish and sail on Lake Champlain and inland lakes.
Campsites are numerous and secluded. And of course, with winter comes
Vermont skiing.
Vermont, incidentally, has some of the finest swimming spots in the
country. Swimming holes and slow-moving rivers are popular hangouts,
where on hot summer days numerous locals and occasional travelers spend an
afternoon swimming beneath waterfalls and jumping off cliffs into quarries.
Ben and Jerry's employees who work at the Waterbury factory are known to
frequent the Waterbury Reservoir or the Bolton "Pot Holes" after a hot day of
0making or scooping ice cream. Tales abound of the Barre quarries (near
Montpelier), where bathers jump from 70-foot-high cliffs into the deepest of
water-filled quarries.
It might be too much to say that Vermont has it all, but like many of the
quieter states, it has many secrets and much to offer to visitors and residents

Some might say be weary of star Denis Leary

Denis Leary is one of the few stars
who deserves the attention he gets.
His fame, spawned from the primor-
dial ooze of a few MTV commercials,
has grown in the past year, moving
Leary from the pop oddity category to
full-fledged reserve-seat-at-Spago's
movie star status. Well, almost.
Leary is the man whose manic
ravings are more responsible for Cindy
Crawford's popularity than the be-
moled, tone-deaf girl herself. Leary's
first brief spots on MTV - him pac-
ing frantically, chewing on the butt of
a cigarette, running his hands through
his short blonde hair and snarling into
the camera, giving us his treatises on
everything from racism to hypocriti-
cal rock star politics - gave him
almost instantcult status among young
people. And unlike MTV's latest
media sensations, the infamous
Beavis and Butt-Head, Leary has a
brain. A sarcastic, insensitive, meat-
loving, chain-smoking brain, but
nonetheless, a brain.
Leary's first comedy album/1 book
/ one-man-show, "No Cure For Can-

cer" is a demented treatise on PC
oppressions delivered at 90 miles an
hour, braking only to relight a ciga-
Leary's first brief spots
on MTV - him pacing
frantically, chewing on
the butt of a cigarette
and snarling into the
camera, giving us his
treatises on everything
from racism to
hypocritical rock star
politics - gave him
almost instant cult
status among young
people. And unlike
MTV's latest media
sensations, Beavis and
Butt-Head, Leary has a
rette ("the butts are the best part...
that's where they put the heroin. Only
the really good smokers know that").
Leary defends the right to destroy his
own body if he so chooses, by what-
ever method he deems best. Through
smoking, which he does constantly,
or through the consumption of red
meat, drugs and / or alcohol. Not that
Leary doesn't consider these sub-
stances dangerous - he does - he
just looks at the picture logically.
"They say smoking takes years off of
your life. Well it's the years at the
end, right? The adult-diaper wearing
The success of Leary's comedy
album led to the inevitable "MTV
Unplugged" session (although no
"Unplugged" EP is available yet).
Leary does the singing, ably backed
by two of his buddies on guitar. "The

Asshole Song" from "No Cure For
Cancer" leads off the set with its joy-
ous chorus "I'm an asshole-e-o-e-o-
e-o-e-o." Another song from the al-
bum, "Traditional Irish Folksong" is
included, along with a wicket rendi-
tion of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant
Song" which teaches Leary the folly
of taking requests from the audience.
From MTV, Leary made an in-
spired leap into films, stopping briefly
along the way to host a few episodes
of Comedy Central's "London Un-
derground," appearing in the seriously
lame "National Lampoon's Loaded
Weapon 1" alongside Emilio Estevez
and William Shatner. Leary's part
was small (but not as small as his part
in "Strictly Business," which deserves
no mention here), but his trademark
sneer made him memorable enough
to whet the appetite for his next per-
Unfortunately, Leary was again
limited to a bit-part in the rap movie
"Who's The Man." In a film full of
cameos, it's difficult to stand out, but
Leary manages it. Playing the police
captain who's shackled with Ed Lover
and Dr. Dre as recruits, Leary rants
and raves and does his entire schtick,
breaking several podiums along the
Leary's opportunity to break out
of the comedic box in which he was
placed came with a part in Sylvester
Stallone's "Demolition Man." As
Edgar Friendly, a reluctant leader of
the future's underground population,
Leary abandons the angry, straight-
into-the-camera speaking style of his
comedy routines and early movie roles
and actually displays some acting tal-
ent (as well he should, since Leary
was once a member of the Boston

Shakespeare Company. Not that
Shakespeare necessarily prepares you
for a role in an action-adventure film,
but look how much it's helped Patrick
Stewart). Oh, sure he spends a few
seconds describing the need for the
freedom to run through the streets
naked covered in green jello and read-
ing Playboy magazine, but for the
most part he plays it straight, stalking
through the sewers covered in grime
with a scruffy beard, looking uncan-
nily like the Roman Catholic ideal of
Leary finally has the chance to7
play a major role in a motion picture
with theopening of "JudgmentNight."
Leary is reunited with Emilio Estevez
(and, oddly enough, with House of
Pain frontman Erik Schrody, also
known as Everlast, who makes his
feature film debut in "Judgment
Night.") for this action-packed test-
osterone-laden film. Leary plays
Fallon, aChicago "businessman" who
enforceshisrules with a9mm Beretta.
Leary plays the villain with sneering
contempt for his antagonists and their
suburban backgrounds. He stalks the
streets, long black leather trenchcoat
flaring out behind him, backed by -
three henchmen. Nothing adds to a
spectacular villain more than a few
good henchmen, and Fallon certainly
has them, from the sadistic Sykes
(Peter Greene) to Erik Schrody's
thick-as-a-post Rhodes.
Denis Leary makes a truly sinister
villain, and brings one of the only
glimmers of talent to most of the films
he's in. We can only hope that he
finds more opportunities to flex his
acting muscles, and that he doesn't
get cancer and die before he wins an


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