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April 15, 1998 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-04-15

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 15, 1998

'Ben Stein' wins over fans

'Giant' sprouts little laughs

I

By Michael Galloway
Daily TV/New Media Editor
Ever watch "Jeopardy" and hate
when Alex Trebek so smugly supplies
the correct question to an answer?
Anyone can seem smart when the
answer is written right in front of them.
But what if Alex put his money where
his mouth was and became a common
contestant? What if he put up, say,
$5,000 of his own money that said he
was smarter than the other contestants?
Well, he'd be just like Ben Stein from
the game show "Win Ben Stein's
Money."
The Emmy-nominated hit series on
Comedy Central series returns for its
second season tonight with a special tax
day episode. Also returning the Robin
to Stein's Batman, co-host and comedi-
an Jimmy Kimmel.
When asked in a phone interview
whether the show will have any
changes, Kimmel replied, "Yes, Ben
will be (replaced hy) a busty blonde.
No, nothing that will really affect you
viewers. We have video screens instead
of the boards."
For people who have to know
whether the light really goes on when
you close the refrigerator door, Kimmel
said that there really were guys behind
the gameboard changing the cards
when categories were chosen. "Yeah,
those were the guys I used to hang out
with and talk
about Red
Wings' games.
Win Ben Now, its sad. I
Stein's Money find myself talk-
ing about Red
Wings' games
Comedy Central with the video
Weeknights at 7:30 screens."
Besides creat-
ing one-sided
conversations,
the video screens
also allow for
video questions
to be asked. Other than the occupation-
al relation between tonight's contes-
tants, all of whom have "jobs related to
taxes," the rest of the show will be the
same.
At first, three contestants try to
answer the questions posed by Stein.
Then Kimmel talpes over in the second
round as Stein himself enters the com-
petition.
Finally, the contestant who has taken
the most of Stein's money (which the
player gets to keep) gets a chance at all
$5,000 by going "mano-a-mano" with
Stein in the "best of 10 test of knowl-
edge." The finalist and Stein are placed

Cyresy of ye yC eyral,
Contestants who need money can, anyone, anyone, tlake home Ben's pay check on

"Win Ben Stein's Money."
in sound-proof booths and are each
given a minute to answer the same 10
questions. If Ben ties or answers fewer
questions correctly, then he loses all
$5,000 of his money.
Does Jimmy get any extra money if
Ben wins? "No. I get paid the same no
matter what," Kimmel said. "It's kind-
of nice. It doesn't matter if I'm funny or
not funny."
Actually, Kimmel's humorous quips
and side comments made the show pos-
sible. He says the producers at first tried
having only Stein host the show, with-
out much success. "I was auditioning to
cohost on another game show which
didn't run ..." Kimmel said, "but (the
producers) liked me a lot and thought I
was funny. So they brought me over."
Anyone who has seen the show
knows that Kimmel provides the spon-
taneity and energy that the more
reserved but amiable Stein cannot.
After all, Stein is best known for his
hysterically unemotional role call in
"Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Kimmel
said that Stein hears the word "Bueller"
mentioned to him "about 35 times a
day," an exaggeration probably not far
from the truth, since he added that
around the set, "We're no longer
allowed to say 'Bueller' around Ben
anymore."
While Stein can portray languid
apathy very well, this former Nixon
speechwriter and law professor is too
inhibited, modest and good-natured to
be in-your-face arrogant and likable at
the same time. This egocentric act

goes as far as the show's scripted lines
carry it. Another of the show's weak-
nesses is that the contestants often
make feeble, nervous attempts at
jokes.
But overall, the show is entertaining.
Part of the its appeal is its fill-in-the-
blank set-up and its humor. One won-
ders what famous line Stein will deliver
in a completely monotone voice at the
beginning of the show. Kimmel always
some simile to encourage the third-
round finalist when Ben i, in his sound
proof booth, such as "whack him like a
gopher." Then there are the funny but
slightly hokey puns such as "Don't put
Decartes before the horse" or "Chewed
in Italy but Liechtenstein"
The uncertainty of wlhether someone
might win Ben Stein's money also
draws viewers in, and it does happen.
While not quite a hit, "Win Ben Stein's
Money" is enjoying moderate success
squaring off against "Jeopardy" in the
7:30 pm. weekday time slot - Stein
always acts upset when a contestant
mistakenly gives an answer in the form
of a question.
When Jimmy Kimmel was asked
whether he and Ben would go on
"Jeopardy," or if Alex Trebek might be
invited onto their show, Kimmel
replied, "Well, I wouldn't be going on
'Jeopardy,' but Ben would kick Alex
Trebek's ass"
Until the day of that mental show-
down, however, viewers will have to
be content with flipping between the
two.

By Prashant Tamaskar
Daily Arts Witer
When Billy Crystal worked with professional
wrestler Andre the Giant on the set of "The Princess
Bride," the comedian-actor came up with what he
thought was a hilarious idea for a film: a struggling
Hollywood agent tries to make a movie star out of an
enormous man he meets in a foreign country.
Eleven years later, without Andre the Giant (who
passed away in 1993), Crystal has finally seen his
project make it to the large screen. The end result is
"My Giant," a movie that starts off amusing us, but by
becoming too serious, eventually breaks down into a
second-rate tear-jerker.
Crystal plays Sam, a down-and-out agent, whose
wife and son leave him as he travels to Romania,
where his only talented performer is working on a
film.
While on the set, Sam is fired by his client, who feels
that he is too small-time. Driving away in a rainstorm,
Sam crashes his car into a lake, only to be saved by a pair
of huge hands, which belong to Max (Gheorghe
Muresan), a giant liv-
ing all by himself in a_
castle.
Max, who is iso-
lated because of his
size, befriends Sam.
He tells the agent
about his one true a
love, who now is in
America. "r< 'a
Sensing a great
opportunity, Sam
convinces his savior
to come back with f
him to the U.S.,
where he cana
become a big moviex
star.
Max only agrees
to go if Sam will
help him try to find
his true love. The
rest of the filma
focuses on the duo's
attempt to accom-
plish their goals.
The discrepancy
in size between the
7-7 Muresan and the
v e rt ica ll1y - ch a- w:
lenged Crystal
serves as an amus-
ing contrast
throughout most of
the film, but this one
joke is not enough to
drive the entire
story. Crystal uses
the height differen-
tial as the means to
incorporate his
shtick.
Unfortunately, his
lines are generally
uninspired and pre-
dictable, making
more evident the Billy Crystal gets shorty with ba
fact that his movie Muresan.

n, ersona has grown stale.
Moreover, the film does not
provide its giant with enough
My Giant opportunities to create laughter.
Muresan, who, by trade, is. a
** center for the Washington
At Brarwood Wizards of the National
and Showcase Basketball Association, has a
very engaging screen personali-
ty that ends up being wasted.
His character does not have
many funny lines and is not put
in unusual situations that gener-
ate laughs.
Instead, Muresan is forced to
play Crystal's straight man, leaving a valuable humor
resource untapped.
Still, "My Giant" is moderately entertaining for most
of the film because of the amiability of Muresan's char- S
acter and the few instances where Crystal's jokes do hit
the mark.
But this changes once the movie decides to take itself
seriously. Sam finds
out that his large
friend has a weak
heart, and begins
questioning his own
intentions as an agent.
He also misses his
wife and child. Max
makes him realize
that their love, which
once was not enough
for him, is all hel
needs.
This portion of the
movie is dull and
underdeveloped.
Director Michael
Lehmann, who is
never quite sure of 4
where he wants to go
with the film, is does
not handle this tone
shift very well.
The result is a
sappy, falsely emo-
tional final stanza that
is reminiscent of
"Jack" another film
which starred Robin
Williams that failed to
capitalize on an inter-
esting premise.
"My Giant" will
most likely be
Muresan'sk only real
chance for fame out-
side a basketball
arena.
His limitations
make it unlikely that
he will ever have1
another starring role.
The athlete's game
performance in this
film is just about the
Courtesy of Columbia Pictures only thing preventing
ketball beanpole Gheorghe it from being a giant
waste of time.

3s

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SEMELE
Continued from Page 9
from all years in school. From first-ye.
vocal performance to doctoral compos
tion students, the opera is well-repr
sented by many talented individuals.
"From a musical standpoint, this prc
duction offers the opportunity' fc
singers and instrementalists to work
an entire piece, rather than excerpts
Gordon said. "It also gives some. of i
younger singers their first exposure to
full opera from the inside out. For th
more experienced singers, it is a chant
to perform an entire role that might ni
otherwise be available.'
Students were not without their duff
culties in the presentation of th
Baroque opera.
"Baroque opera is difficult to pe
form. We even had (Music Pr.
Edward Parmentier give a lecture to
cast about the music of the opera and 1
era" Vera explained.
"'Semele' is different than oth.
Baroque operas because Handel inten<
ed it to be performed as an oratorio.
wasn't meant to be staged:'
Vera also mentioned how the theater
atmosphere adds to the character of tI
performance.
"We're pleased to be able to perfor
the opera in the McIntosh The
because of its intimate setting. At
time when Baroque opera was first, pe
formed, large-scale opera houses didn
exist," Vera said.
With musical direction by Music do
toral student Tania Miller, the accomp
nying orchestra is entirely composed
students as well. The group of 13 mes
cians is highly regarded as being the be
of their field. "The small Baroqi
orchestra that has been assemble
amazing. They're really good," Ye
said.
The students now are seeing the
efforts come to fruition.
"Everyone got heavily involved
helping out and making this a reality 11
great to see this dream become a rea
ty," Vera said.
Semele plays tonight and Fridav-a
p.m., Saturday at 8:30 p.m.at
Sunday at 8 p.m. Tickets are free,- b
reservations are required byca

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