12 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, September 22, 1998
Lane's new NBC comedy bound for no
By Ed Sholinsky
Daily Arts Writer
The cruel irony of the new TV season is that the crap
no one watched last season is replaced by crap no one is
going to watch this season.
So, let's welcome "Encore! Encore!" to the crapfest!
Not only will audiences not be calling out this Nathan
Lane vehicle for an encore, but many will pray that the
show just dies a quick - yet, hopefully painful -- death.
"Encore! Encore!" is just proof that star vehicles - i.e.
"The Tony Danza Show" - don't work.
The show focuses on Joe Pinoni (Lane), a famous
opera tenor in Italy whose vocal cords were scratched
while having his stomach pumped.
His doctors fear he'll never be able to sing again, a fact
that the cruel, arrogant tenor can't deal with.
In order to rest his voice, Pinoni returns home to his
family's vineyard in the States. Of course, he doesn't fit
in with the family who has no interest in his bragging,
excessive drinking and womanizing.
And neither does the audience. Both the show's writers
and Lane make Pinoni unsympathetic - he's a jerk and
nobody (not even his family) can really say that they care
if he'll ever sing again.
After a brief return to Italy for a
disastrous comeback. Pinoni comes
to terms with the fact that he'll never
Encore, perform again. Not that this makes
Encore him more tolerable or more human
for recognizing his weakness:
NBC Rather, it's just the opposite.
Tonight at 8.30 p.m "Encore! Encore!'s pilot follows
this trajectory with weak humor. The
amme enormously talenied Lane has noth-
ing to work with, and even his nor-
mally dead-on physical comedy is
The pilot's script problem is no
surprise, however, since the story
credit is a laundry list of writers. This can generally sig-
nify script problems that no one knew how to fix. So,
additional writers in an attempt to repair the script just
made the problems even worse.
In addition to this, the show had casting problems and
took forever to complete.
"Encore! Encore!" almost gets some help from Joan
Plowright who plays Marie, Joe's mother. Plowright gives
Marie a mix of dignity and humor that works for a char-
acter that is slowly slipping into senility.
Marie spends her social time at the funerals of com-
plete strangers and drinks too much.
While Plowright gets a few good one-liners, for the
most part it is painful to see such a great actress squan-
der her talent on this horrible show.
The show is made worse by the presence of Glenne
Headly as Joe's sister, Francesca. Not only is Headly
humorless, but she can't act. In the two episodes screened
(the pilot and "I am Joe's Ego") Headly makes one good
joke. When discussing proper attire in the workplace, she
turns to a bimbo employee and quips, "Haley, thank you
for wearing a bra today."
One additional piece of non sequitur distracts from tl
show. The Pinoni family is supposed to be Italian, bt
Plowright is so painfullv English that trying to pass hi
ot as Italian is ridiculous.
The pilot of some show+s is sometimes poor while ,ut
sequent episodes shol that the sho really is high l l
ty, "Encore! Encore!" is not ne of those cases. Itst
ond episode, '1 am Joe's Ego" is even vorse tIai th
This episode also revolves around Joe trying to fit i
with his long-estranged family. In an attempt to get t
know his sister better, Joe takes her out to dinner. Wel
things go awry, and the dinner doesn't quite work nu
One of these things is the comedy.
The good news is "Encore! Encore!" might gL
replaced at mid-season - by the end of the year at wors
The bad news is, whether at mid-season or next yea
"Encore! Encore!" may be replaced by something j
bad if not worse. Must see TV indeed. V
New video premieres
are short of titanic
By Matthew Barrett
and Aaron Rich
Ice Cube, not satisfied with
turning beats and acting, steps
into the director's chair for
"The Players Club." This is
the story of a struggling strip-
e n d s
meet in a
C u b e
Wan Kenobi stars as a sanitary
engineer who witnesses a vio-
lent crime in "Nightwatch"-
the film that was in post pro-
duction for the lifetime of a
small animal. A warning -
don't watch this thriller with
the lights off.
which is not the Monica
Lewinsky story, stars one of
the most beautiful women on
Earth, Catherine McCormack,
and is the story of a Venetian
courtesan who turns
Renaissance culture on its
head. Oliver Platt plays a silver
throated, fat poet who wishes
to get under the beauty's corset
and that's where the danger
comes in. Rufus Sewell suc-
ceeds in the titanic task and
beds down with the lady. There
are great naked scenes for both
males and females alike.
"My Giant," which is not
the Bill Clinton testimony,
stars the Washington Wizards
post player Gheorghe Muresan
as a very tall fella who
befriends Billy Crystal. The
late great Andre The Giant was
originally intended for the
part, but the producers were
convinced enough with
Muresan's acting as a basket-
ball player that they cast him.
The role would have worked
better with Chris Webber, but
then again the writers did not
want the head character to
have a marijuana smoking
With the lackluster selec-
tion of videos available fans
may be inclined to turn to the
sinking ship or the sinking
in the best stripper movie since
Life has been less than ordi-
nary for Ewan MacGregor (the
next Leo) since
"Trainspotting." The next Obi-
Courtesy of Monarch Ent"
Catherine McCormack Is kissed.
hLL THE TIME*
a, gagga real music., A
"" =1phone: 663.5800
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Are you ready to write?
Tired of reading books for class? Tired of
just listening to new CDs and not being able
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reading enough stories about Ann Arbor
events? Well, this is your last chance to
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come on by, we'll be here.
New ABC sitcom
faces racial divid
New Speakers' Series
featuring renowned Michigan faculty.
at the University Club
Wednesday, September 23, 1998
12pm Noon till 1pm at the
U-Club in the Michigan Union
History Prof Tom Collier
and History Prof Emeritus
By Chris Cousino
"aly A"rts Writer
The year 1971 saw the incarnation
of one of television's greatest char-
acters, Carroll 0' Conner's Archie
Bunker, a loud-mouthed ignoramus
whose landmark "All In the Family"
tackled groundbreaking issues con-
cerning race and social culture. Four
years later, a spin-off show starring
Sherman Hemsley as the African
American and richer version of
Archie, George Jefferson, greatly
furthered the already racial and
social issues raised. Now, in 1998,
ABC brings a new sitcom comedy,
"The Hughleys," on board to deal
with the issue of racial divide. The
show fails miserably at it.
D.L. Hughley is Darryl Hughley, a
self-made, well-to-do black man
who moves his family to white sub-
urbia. "The Hughleys" is a horrible
tirade packed full of overused,
unfunny, insulting black and white
stereotypes. Not five minutes into
the premiere episode and there are
already jokes concerning Hughley
receiving Ebony and his elderly
neighbor asking him to, "Fetch my
This trash of a sitcom only gets
worse when Hughley's friend
Milsap, played by John Henton, vis-
its from the 'hood. First Milsap
sings "We're moving on up," a prob-
able tribute to "The Jeffersons,"
which paved the way for this show to
even be a possibility and covered
similar material in a far better man-
ner more than 20 years ago. Seeing
that Hughley has taken up golf,
Milsap criticizes him saying, "What
you trying to get your ghetto pass
revoked?" What are they saying
here, that blacks can't play golf?
To counter this golf argument,
Hughley explains that "Tiger Woods
won the Masters," but Milsap juts in
saying, "Tiger is only part black,
and you know that ain't the part that
won the Masters." Yes, the humor
descends lower and lower when
Milsap becomes staunchly amazed
that Hughley pays his bills on time.
These stereotypes are neither funny
nor interesting and are the accelerat-
ed downfall of the show.
The second half of the show intro-
iues thei~ halev's white neiehhors
Allan Kramer and Mariett
Deprima. This plastic couple botl
feel it is good to be "exposed to dif
ferent cultures," a reference to thi
Hughlcys moving into the neighbor
During conversation, Hughle
asks Dave if his kids have any
dolls. Dave replies, "We just
one son and well, if I'd ever caugh
him playing with any dolls, (fak
crying) I guess I'd have to love hip
anyway." Come on. Hasn't this old
boring homosexual joke landed a
the cutting floor yet where i
deserves to be?
At the pinnacle of this conversa
tion, a forced awkward momen
ensues when Dave explains, "I don'
think we're gonna make any
way on this 400-year-old race p b
lem." Though Hughley and Davi
end up reconciling in the sugar
end, Dave's statement leaves a last
ing impression on the overall show:
Shows such as "The Hughleys'
don't advance issues or realize al:
new epiphanies with concern t"
racial divisions and prejudices i
America. They simply capitaliz pl
it and reaffirm overwraught st.Va
types that rekindle the hurt already
The characters of Archie Bunke
and George Jefferson worked s
well in that they were unaware o
their own ignorance and wer<
repeatedly punished for it. They ma
Free admission and
Limited seating begins at 11:00 am.
First come, first serve. *UM students
with valid ID,
sponsored by Mortar Board and the Michigan Union Program Board
Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.
have been uned
yet they wer
also loving, sp
the other hand
is fully aware o
in a perfec
position to rise
above it. But h<
never does. &
worse, he's no
funny doing it.
Executive Producer Chris Rocli
might want to check in on what the
writers of "The Hughleys" are doing
so he knows where all his money is
aoiniz. The rest of us should ius