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March 18, 2003 - Image 8

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Tuesday
March 1, 2003
michigandaily.com
mae@michigandaily. corn

RTS

8

TV Dish: News from the tube

By Christian Smith
Daily Arts Writer
For those of you clamoring for the
latest news on what's going on in TV
Land, welcome to the Daily's new tele-
vision dish, detailing anything and
everything in the world of television -
news, ratings, guest stars, you name it.

future James Gandolfini/"Sopranos"
legal battle might be solved before it
even starts. After Gandolfini filed suit
last week saying he wasn't properly
notified by HBO that there was going
to be a fifth season of "The Sopranos,"
HBO fired back this week with a
countersuit, delaying the scheduled
start date of production on the fifth
season. Flying in to possibly save the

TIMMAYI! -
"South Park" returns
with all new episodes im
starting tomorrow
night on Comedy Cen-
tral at 10 p.m. If only the world of pol-
itics could offer something to satire.
SWEEPS STARS - Finally, though
there is still a month or so to go before

MALKMUS RETURN

By Scott Serilla
Daily Arts Editor

"I care / I care / I really don't care," Pavement master-
mind Stephen Malkmus sang during fluke near-hit "Cut
Your Hair" on 1994's stunning alt-touchstone of slacker-
dom Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain. And so was born the

A. Courtesy of
tf ' Matador
Records
The Jicks
are
dressed for
success,
success it
never
comes.
4S WITH PIG LIB'
Mike Clark on keyboards) emerge a confident, fully-
formed unit developing something unique for themselves.
Their evolution is especially remarkable considering the
huge shambling legend cast by Pavement.
While SM sounded fairly self-assured on his 2001 self-
titled album, he still seemed to be holding back, touring
in a host of immediately pleasing, but seemingly half-
baked tunes. The same goes for the Jicks who sounded
loose but tentative on Malkmus' eponymous last album.
Many sought to immediately label the new group as noth-
ing more than hired hands, yet the musical personality
displayed here negates that.
Like most of Malkmus' best work there is an underlying
melancholy buried beneath Pig Lib's songs. Hints of sour
break-ups and nervous breakdowns play about the edges of
the record. Meanwhile the surprise prog-rock instrumental
breakdowns of the bitter "Sheets," the spacey "Animal
Midnight" and the downright scary "Dark Wave" set the
tone for the psychedelic epics like the shadowy "Witch
Mountain Bridge" and the nine-minute "1% of One."
The simple but gorgeous beauty of the ironic Cin-
derella story "Vanessa from Queens" and the soft,
understated "Ramp of Ramp" are satisfying achieve-
ments, but it is the album's closer that really lives up to
other classic Malkmus moments.
That song, "Us," seems a genuine moment of earnestness
from SM, a brightened update of his longing for CCR-
inspired utopianism that runs throughout "Box Elder" and
"Range Life," although here the song bleeds over with hard-
won hopefullness, sharply countering the sardonic and bit-
tersweet tones of this otherwise dark, but engaging album.

LEGAL BIZ - First day is show producer Brad Grey. Even the networks start amping things up
thing's first, two with a disappointing 4th season, we for May sweeps, there is already muc
prominent television must hope Grey can successfully bro- to look forward to, especially in terms
figures are heading to ker a peace. Otherwise, what are they of creative casting. Macaulay Culkin
court. Howard Stern going to do, make viewers wait 14 will make his sitcom debut witha
has beat hotornot.com months for it? Oh, wait ... guest appearance on "Will & Grace'
to the punch. While the later this spring as a divorce lawyer
creators of the website GOT ANY GUM? - Matthew Perry will try and showcas
were considering suing ABC over "Are Meanwhile, David his acting chops on "The West Wing'
You Hot? The Search for America's Letterman is apparent- in late April, taking a break from his
Sexiest People," Stern has filed a $100 ly not ready to return "Friends" role to play a Republican
million lawsuit against ABC and the to his late-night host- lawyer interviewing for a Whit
producers of the show for copying ing duties. Over the House associate position underneath
"unique aspects" of a radio segment in past few weeks, such stars our favorite TV president, Josiah Bart
which members of his crew and guests as Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn and let (Martin Sheen).
evaluate the bodies of in-studio contest- Will Ferrell have filled in for Dave In addition, Steven Bochco is
ants. Before ABC's program debuted, as he recuperates from a case of the apparently keeping his promise t
Stern was in talks to develop a TV shingles. Though Dave was expect- Kim Delaney. After leaving "NYPD
series based on his radio segment, but ed to be back this week, his doctor Blue" to star in her own legal drama
once "Are You Hot?" aired, talks for his ordered more recovery time. As a "Philly," last fall, Bochco agreed t
own TV show fell through, the lawsuit result, "Everybody Loves Ray- let her rejoin "Blue" if "Philly'
said. Just when we thought all the mond" star Brad Garrett, comedian tanked. It did, and because her stin
blame had been allocated to ABC, real- Tom Dreesen and Bonnie Hunt will on "CSI: Miami" didn't last
ity television and the American public, take over hosting duties Monday Delaney will be back on "NYPD
Howard Stern has to come along and through Wednesday, with reruns air- Blue" starting in May. It's unclear a
take a piece. ing Thursday and Friday due to the this point whether her return will be
Elsewhere in the justice system, the NCAA Tournament. permanent.
Cliche-*d Grisham tale of wealth and
legal power will comfort only fans

P
h
s
n
a
~
"
r.
,e
is
n
e
h
t-
s
0
a
0
"
it
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tt
,e

61

ambiguous rallying cry of an apathetic
generation more than ready to
embrace Pavement's half-ass genius
for dense, stream-of-conscience word-
play, inventive deconstructionism and
off-kilter lo-fi guitars.
To give a crap or not to give a
crap - that's always assumed to be
SM's question. But hardcore SM

Stephen
Malkmus
and the Jicks
Pig Lib
Matador Records

junkies (are there any other kind?) take it as a matter of
devotion that their beloved ramshackle indie guitar-poet
added each and every little wrong note and lyrical non
sequitur on purpose.
Everybody always wanted to believe that the puzzles
would eventually make sense if you listened obsessively
enough, but still fans prayed for a sign - something to let
them know Malkmus was giving his songs and lyrics more
thought and effort than he often let on.
Enter Pig Lib, a new record from SM that feels nothing
if not deliberate and mature. On this latest album, Might
King Opaque and his Portland-based group the Jicks (Joan-
na Bolme on bass, John Moen, drums and fresh recruit

By Ricky Lax
Daily Arts Writer

S I

BOOK REVIEW
John Grisham's latest novel, "The
King of Torts," tells the story of the
young lawyer Clay Carter's rise and
fall through a legal field portrayed
as little more than cattle herding -
round up the clients, settle the case.
One day, Carter works at the Office
of the Public Defender making about
$40,000 a year; the next day, he owns
his own law firm, jet, yacht, tropical
getaway home
and has a super- The King of
model girlfriend.
Ridley, the model, Torts
wants money; By John Grisham
Carter wants sex, Doubleday
and neither of
them is fooling anybody. Carter
would dump his bombshell girl if
Rebecca, the woman he dated for
four years, would just come back to
him. Too bad her affluent parents
rejected him before his rise to legal
royalty.
Pace's client, a large drug compa-
ny, tested an anti-crack drug in the
Washington area that inexplicably
drove some of its users to murder.
Max Pace, a self-described fireman,
tells Carter that if he can get the
families of the deceased to each take
a couple million dollars with no
questions asked, Carter will receive

$15 million in legal fees and his own
law firm to fight a separate case
against Pace's client's competitors,
Ackerman Labs.
The plotline is cliche, but "The
King Of Torts" isn't concerned with
originality. The book is concerned
with giving Grisham readers what
they want - entertaining stories
about American law - and it does.
We've been on Grisham's roller
coaster many times, but return again
and again for the mile-long drop, the
mile-long mahogany desks and the
mile-long string of zeros following
dollar signs. The book delivers in all
the right places, and Grisham fans
will happily breeze through it.
There is one major flaw in the
book's plot. Carter knows that he
may get audited. He thinks, "No
sense trying to beat the government
out of some taxes. Pay them and
sleep well." Carter is a multi-mil-
lionaire. Still, though, not three
pages after the above thought, he
engages in insider trading, selling
short 100,00 shares of Ackerman
Labs, the very corporation he per-
sonally filed suit against. Big sur-
prise, he gets caught.
While power, wealth and shady
business practices come to trade-
mark Carter's character and legal
practice as his lawsuits come and go,
he remains rational such that this
insider trading move destroys "The
King of Torts" momentum of believ-

*I

ability. Even the dumbest criminal
(think Joe Pesci from "Home
Alone") wouldn't do something this
stupid. If Carter did anything to
cover his illegal buy, like shorting
the stock through a friend of a friend
or using a bank account with a fake
name, Grisham sure didn't let the
reader know.
Because of this flaw, "The King of
Torts" can't be crowned the king of
legal novels, but for being so enter-
taining, I will knight the book as
court jester - and sometimes we
need a court jester to distract us
from life, even if just for 400 pages.

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I

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