October 5, 2005
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I don't want my MTV *
COMEDY ACT TO
By Punit Mattoo
TV/New Media Editor
For one of the supposed saviors of the R-rated
comedy, Vince Vaughn seems pretty humble about
his success. "I find it flattering," he kept repeating in
reference to his cult-icon status
and his recent box office suc-
cess, while heaping praise upon
his fellow comedians in his new-
est venture, "Vince Vaughn's
Wild West Comedy Show."
Hosting a show that he says
emphasizes improv comedy
and interaction with the audi-
ence, Vaughn hopes to make
audiences laugh and introduce
them to a crop of young come-
dians. Originally thought up
State Theatre, Detroit
after a performance at an army relief fundraiser in
Chicago, Vaughn turned the onetime M.C. posi-
tion into a tour passing through 30 cities in 30 days.
And with a number of stops off the usual comedy
map, he hopes to expel the notion that fans can only
see good comedy shows in major cities. "I figured
people have to go to New York, L.A. or Vegas to
see these kind of shows, and I wanted to bring great
comedy shows to these towns, to these people who
are in middle America."
Shying away from the new territory of stand-up
comedy, Vaughn instead hosts the show, perform-
ing various skits and interacting with the audience.
The stand-up comes courtesy of four comedians he
handpicked from The Comedy Store in Los Ange-
les. Bret Ernst, John Caparulo, Ahmed Ahmed and
Sebastian Maniscalco all come with impressive
resumes with appearances on "The Tonight Show
with Jay Leno," "Punk'd" and "Premium Blend."
Along the way, different guest-stars from music and
movies are set to appear at each stop. Vaughn avoid-
ed revealing the guest for the Detroit date, explain-
ing, "I'd like to keep it a surprise, I think it's more
fun for people to kinda see who's gonna show up."
With R-rated hits in "Wedding Crashers" and the
dorm room requirement "Old School," Vaughn has
become one of Hollywood's most bankable stars.
And even in the midst of a box office decline, the
surprise success of the films revitalized a genre left
for dead after the slew of failed teen comedies fol-
lowing "American Pie." "I think it's kinda funny. I
grew up on 'Blues Brothers' and 'Animal House'
and when we made 'Wedding Crashers,' we all and
the director wanted to make it an R-comedy because
the subject matter was adult in theme ... It wasn't so
Idon't like taking cheap shots at
Carson Daly, Limp Bizkit or any of
the gutter slush on MTV's program-
ming during the '90s. Those years were
all-time low moments for the network;
everyone has been saying that since.
It went downhill, it became the dead
horse that even our parents
knew had fallen behind the
times. But, and I know this
is painful, consider just howa
it happened. Internet maga-
zines, blogs and deluxe estab-
lished nine-dollar British'
music rags started feasting on§
the network's demographics.
Kids who were introduced
to the Wu-Tang Clan, "Bea-
vis & Butthead" and the E
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" McC
video turned around and
were watching a Carmen Electra-helmed
But remember the good times: They
played rap when the Grammys barely
blinked an eye at Public Enemy, the Geto
Boys and Ice Cube. Recall that the best
music videos could tell a story like an
opera - the collaboration between then-
human Michael Jackson and film legend
Vincent Price, the honest-to-goodness
video epic "Thriller," scared the bejesus
out of me as a young child ( ... and I still
have trouble watching the clip alone).
And while we can't blame MTV for
the frequent slow periods in rap and pop,
we can make an honest appraisal of the
network as it stands today. It's come back
from the dead with surprisingly astute
shows (anyone who doesn't think "Lagu-
na Beach" is some of the most grotesque
social commentary since Brett Easton
Ellis isn't watching hard enough) and
- gasp - a new focus on music.
So while I'm happy to see music back
in the meat of its programming, on a
closer look, it's off-putting to see the
position of the actual music within the
context of the network.
What's the bread and butter of MTV?
"Real World," "Laguna Beach,"
"Pimp My Ride," etc.
So with no real "music-driven" show
as the network's flagship, MTV's formula
for keeping music as part of the mix has
been to advertise, promote and condense
emerging artists and albums into man-
ageable sound bites suitable for transi-
tioning to and from commercial breaks.
Now, while I'm sure young outfits
like Boyz N Da Hood and Relient K are
thirsty for the coverage, we have to look
at what MTV is doing to the music.
They're trying to make everything pal-
atable. They're creating the uneasy asso-
ciation between art and product. Their
"reality" shows are never without a Fall
Out Boy/Ludacris/Coldplay soundtrack
(depending on each show's target demo-
graphic), the new bands deemed "hot"
get sandwiched into bite-sized commer-
cial-break morsels on the "10 Spot" (the
block of programming between 10-11 on
weekday nights - MTV's equivalent of
prime time). Even the experienced mem-
bers of the network (John Norris, Kurt
Loder) stay strictly on the "catalogue
the week's new releases, disclose latest
Courtney Love/Paris Hilton escapade,
repeat" whenever they get
In a sinister way, it's
worse than their "ignore
the music, place "Real
World" cast member in
front of camera" attitude at
the turn of the millennium.
Then they just ignored
music and shuffled it off
to early afternoons when
'AN high school kids weren't
ARVEY home. Now they're making
it just another commodity,
another good not unlike a candy bar or
soap. Don't listen, just buy.
They are, and maybe this is what's
necessary today, giving tons of people
15 minutes of fame when, really, some
people deserve a whole hour of the spot-
light and others need only a few seconds.
MTV keeps the top 10 percent of bands
equal to the bottom thirds. It's time for
MTV to start editorializing, to start
breaking bands that deserve to be broken.
It's time to start playing music videos on
"TRL" or "Direct Effect" for more than
30 seconds before climbing up the count-
So of course I've made the situation
out to be far more problematic than it is.
If you're still under the thumb of your
RA and most of your meals are chicken
broccoli bake, then there's a nice little
surprise in store.
MTV2 and mtvU (the latter of
which is only available on American
college campuses) have begun a fresh
ascent toward independence. MTV2
has angled itself as a two-headed force
providing surprisingly deep music
video coverage from both the worlds of
indie-rock and hip-hop. What's more,
they've actually done some reporting
and history instruction in their excellent
"My Block" series about overlooked
American hip-hop cities (Memphis,
Miami, etc....). MtvU, for all its ama-
teurish camera work and poor editing, is
just what it says it is - a music channel
for college kids. Regina Spektor? Got it.
Interpol? Got it. Videos from 50 Cent's
mix tapes? Uh huh. Throwback skate-
punk video countdowns featuring Ran-
cid and Dookie-era Green Day? Check!
Ah, I miss the dorms. I feel old. MTV
will do that to you.
- Evan fantasizes about being cast
on one of MTV's fascinating reality
shows, and especially wants the number
of every girl on "Laguna Beach." Share
your MTV fetish with him
Cgs urtesyVofVinVceaug'daun ' sWi ldWest Comed yfSow
Vince Vaughn hosts "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show."
much language as the situation - whether it was
the dinner table scene or the bedroom scene where
I'm tied up - you don't want to shy away from
that while making an adult-themed comedy. A lot
of times Hollywood will say 'let's just go make R-
rated comedies' and they'll just try to up the shock-
ing or language or (make it) as gross as they can."
Much of that success came alongside the so-called
"Frat Pack," which includes among others, Will Fer-
rell, Owen and Luke Wilson, Steve Carrell and of
course Vaughn. He's quick, however, to point out
the oft-forgotten original member, Jon Favreau, who
wrote and co-starred in the classic tale of L.A. 20-
somethings, "Swingers." Fans who thought that the
actors often planned their projects together might be
disappointed; Vaughn explained, "It's not as if I'm
in constant collaboration with those guys. But I've
done movies with them and I would do other movies
with them if it made sense to both of us."
Even with much talked about (critically and
commercially) trips into drama ("Domestic Dis-
turbance" anyone?), Vaughn is open to the idea of
branching out from his recent comedic films. "I'll
do drama again. I don't have some sort of game
plan saying 'Oh well, I gotta go do this or this.' I
just like to mix it up. I like to do different types
of stuff to keep motivated. You know, whether it's
the character in 'Be cool' or an independent film,
'Thumbsucker,' where I play a high school teacher.
I just like to do different stuff. I'm an actor so I like
the challenge of playing different roles."
For now, Vaughn is busy enough with his show.
More than halfway through the grueling tour, and
with the last show in his hometown Chicago on Oct.
11 in sight, Vaughn was still enthusiastic, citing
the lack of downtime as the only negative, and is
even looking forward to another tour. "I'll definitely
always do something like this every now and then.
I don't know if I'll go 30 days and 30 nights again
but I really wanted to get out there right now .:.
I'm bringing these shows to people's towns to get a
chance to have a really fun night."
By Amos Barshad
Daily Arts Writer
Disney's 'Greatest Game' a family hit.
By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
After capitalizing on two of the greatest underdog stories
of the past 30 years with "Miracle" and "The Rookie," Walt
Disney Pictures goes back nearly 100 years to tell the tale
of perhaps the greatest dark horse of all
time. The resulting film, "The Great- The Greatest
est Game Ever Played," might conform Game Ever
closely to oft-recycled underdog formu- Played
las, but it does so in both entertaining
and uplifting fashion. At Showcase
"Game" tells the true story of Francis and Quality 16
Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf, "Constantine"), Disney
a "commoner" from Massachusetts who
tore down golf's class barrier with his sensational performance
in the 1913 U.S. Open. His final-round playoff against the two
best golfers of the age - Brits Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane,
"King Arthur") and Ted Ray (Stephen Marcus, "Quills") - was
regarded at the time as the greatest game of golf ever played and
popularized the sport in America for the first time.
Ouimet faces barriers at every level. His father bars him from
his house unless he gives up the "fool's game," club elites frown
upon his ambitions, and other golfers sneer at him as unworthy.
Yet through it all, with his 10-year-old caddy at his side (rela-
tive newcomer John Flitter), Ouimet perseveres to become one
of America's first true sports legend.
Director Bill Paxton's ("Frailty") recreation of early
20th century America and its common people is surpris-
ingly realistic - aside from the occasional Disney-movie
dialogue that the studio just can't seem to avoid. Ouimet's
family hardships, his father's desire to protect him from
upper-class prejudice and his mother's remarkable under-
standing of his dreams are all genuine family entertainment
(you even half-expect someone to chime in with a "God
bless us, every one!").
Anchoring the story is LaBeouf's excellent portrayal
of Ouimet; he shows a sterling dramatic resilience that
recalls Tobey Maguire's overlooked work in 2003's "Sea-
biscuit." He has the composure required to play someone
of the era and a knack for portraying the outsider. His rela-
tionship with his boyhood idol, Vardon, is also compelling
but at times unclear; the constant flashbacks into Vardon's
own childhood as a social outcast often cut in awkwardly.
How Vardon rose to become a golfing legend may well be
a theme worth exploring; but when juxtaposed with Oui-
met's struggle, it interferes with a true understanding of
Though a bit lengthy and overly steeped in genre conventions,
"Game" ultimately soars because of how remarkable Ouimet's
achievement really was. Only when one realizes how much of the
storyline is actually based on fact is it possible to really appreci-
ate the film and its characters. His struggle shows how elitism in
golf has been around as long as the game has been played in the
United States and should be an inspiration to those trying to tear
down the game's outdated gender barrier today.
With a premiere focusing on a
small Florida town in the wake of
a major hurricane, Invasion had
all promotions and
marketing halted " "
by ABC in the Invasioni
aftermath of Hur- Wednesdays
ricane Katrina. The ° at 10 p.m.
network had even ABC
Courtesy of ABC
Check out the new features on this Nokia.
but ultimately did not, which seems
entirely appropriate; as the title
makes abundantly clear, there are
extraterrestrials in them hills.. With
such an emphasis, its hard to believe
that "Invasion's" hurricane portrayal
Our hero is a divorced park ranger
and straight arrow Russell Varon.
Only a few months prior, Russell
was Eddie Towne on ESPN's tepid
and highly hyped drama "Tilt"-
that's right, Eddie Cibrain! Whose
idea was it to give the most nonde-
script white guy to grace the small
screen since the heyday of Jona-
than Silverman's "The Single Guy"
another lead role?
We're also introduced to a full
time: Russell's bitter ex-wife, Mariel
(Kari Matchett, "Blue Murder"),
her husband, sheriff Tom Underlay
(William Fichtner, "Empire Falls")
and Russell's boozy, slacker broth-
er-in-law Dave (Tyler Labine, "My
Everyone falls into place quickly
enough; in the pilot, Dave gathers
skeletal evidence supporting the
presence of aliens, and the viewers
realize that he will spend signifi-
cant chunks of his time attempting
to convince Russell of the imminent
invasion. Tom and Mariel, who are
clearly under the mysterious, unde-
tected influence of the aliens, will
appear on the other bank of the river,
in cahoots with the invaders. Grant-
ed, the network has only aired a few
episodes, but the primary players
thus far all serve a stated purpose:
Dave's the alien conspiracist, Rus-
sell the unassuming hero, and Tom
plays the nemesis. It's almost impos-
sible to care what happens to these
tner in a locked-jaw face-off while
Matchett plays Mariel with an edge-
less Stepford coolness. Potentially,
Labine could have been a saving
grace; he plays zany Uncle Dave with
enough off-the-cuff eccentricities so
that his advice is always suspect.
Unfortunately, Labine delivers the
most unconvincing substance abuser
since Jesse Spano with the caffeine
pills on "Saved By The Bell."
Add to the mix some cheap spe-
cial effects and attempts at "Lost"-
type mysteries that barely get off
the ground for their painful predict-
ability, and that's it. It says some-
thing about the state of non-HBO
television that Cibrain has managed
to finagle a lead role,on two medio-
cre shows promised enough hype to
last beyond their first season. Like
"Tilt," "Invasion" is guaranteed a
certain amount of viewers through
forces other than its own merit. This
is unfortunate. The more viewers
accept low rate material, the more
Gordon-Levitt saves plot in 'Skin'
By Hyatt Michaels
Daily Arts Writer
Hell hath no fury like a former child
star trying to gain indie cred. Teen heart-
throb Joseph Gordon-Levitt (TV's "Third
is Ellen, Neil's often-absent mother who
is, in part, a catalyst to her son's molesta-
tion and never discovers his part-time job.
Shue's role is limited to a near cameo, but
during her brief appearance, the fading
actress reminds us why she received her
Oscar nomination 10 years ago for her
role in "Leaving Las Vegas."
"Mysterious Skin" boasts moments of
true dramatic edge, but ultimately falls
prey to too many art-house wanderings.
Though the film is bold in its portrayal
The film's outlandish portrayal of the
early '90s doesn't help matters either.
Who knew imitating the grunge-rock
era only took Goth make up and random
complaints about small-town culture? In
contrast to Gordon-Levitt's riveting per-
formance, Michelle Trachtenberg (TV's
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is nasal and
annoying as Neil's best friend, Wendy,
and never has enough screen time to build
a true character. Also tagging along is
fresh-faced Jeff Licon who is endearing
Rock from the Sun")
makes a triumphant
leap in the well-inten-
tioned but uneven