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September 07, 2005 - Image 48

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6D - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2005

ARTS

Goodman, Reiner can't save NBC's tail *

DOUG
WERNERT

By Doug Wermert
SEPTEMBER 5,2004
Daily Staff Writer
When performer Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy fame was
attacked by a tiger during his Las Vegas show last October,
two major events happened: Fans prayed for his recovery, and

MARCH 8. 2005
Stop the reunion
When a popular television program decides to call it quits, a couple things
are bound to happen: One of the show's main characters will go on to star
in a series which will inevitably fail, someone else will have a few special
appearances on another show, and the remainder of the cast will drift away
into obscurity and be forgotten by the viewing public. But then, something
will happen that will thrust these people into the spotlight for one more
night. I'm talking about the reunion, a TV event that's supposed to be spe-
cial and able to rekindle the magic of the program it is celebrating. Unfor-
tunately, it fails.
The reunion is a good idea in theory. By bringing back the old favorites
one more time to reminisce about the good old days, viewers will hopefully
look back on the show more fondly. It's quick, easy and usually gets a good
rating. However, nothing really new comes from these specials, and when
viewers see their beloved characters again, it's a disappointment. The actors
are well past their prime, obviously just trying to ride out their past success
for as long as possible. Why tarnish the legacy?
Last spring, two wildly popular series from the last two decades held
reunion specials: "Dallas" - the most popular show of the '80s - and "Sein-
feld" - the most successful show of the '90s. I watched them both; mainly
because I was a huge fan of both shows, but I also wanted to see for myself if
Michael Richards and Larry Hagman were still, in fact, actually alive.
The "Dallas" theme was played, and its two-hour special began. Since I
think I'm the only college student in America to see every episode of this
prime-time soap opera, I was looking forward to seeing the old cast again.
The downside came in the actual program. The event was nothing more than
a hokey, corny abomination of a show, with more obvious facelifts and plastic
surgeries than actual-humorous moments. The cast looked way over-the-hill,
and despite their tremendous acting ability from 20 years ago, the segments
with banter between the former stars were grade-school-play bad.
"Seinfeld," on the other hand, failed to live up to expectations by not being
a reunion at all. Sure, Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer were all there, but
the special was more of a look back at how the show began, including inter-
views with the cast mixed in with old footage. Michael Richards looked old
and Jason Alexander hardly seemed like the same guy who played George
Costanza so brilliantly. Sure, the documentary was interesting, but it seemed
like it was an extra on a DVD set. Their actual reunion on "Oprah" was
much better and was what everyone wanted to see anyway.
So then how do you make a great TV reunion? The answer is simple: you
don't. Let the show live on in syndication and let the actors be known for
their work on the show instead of what they became afterwards. Consider
"Saved by the Bell." Don't have one of the best shows of our generation be
ruined because "Showgirls" star Elizabeth Berkley, fledgling comic Dustin
Diamond and Dennis Haskins (Mr. Belding) need to get on TV one more
time. Let the episode where Jessie overdoses on caffeine pills stand proud
on its own. It's earned it.
People watch reunion specials, so it looks like there will be plenty more
in the future. But when the cast members of "Full House" come together
one last time - which, with Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier and
the Olsen twins, should be done just for comedy's sake - and make fools
of themselves, you'll never see the show in the same acceptable light again.
Don't do that to "Full House" or the actors.
Except maybe Stamos.
- Although Doug hates TV reunions, he is anxiously awating Jaleel
White's return. E-mail his support at dwernert@umich.edu.

activists campaigned against animal
training. One thing did not happen,
however: Nobody called for an ani-
mated television comedy series revolv-
ing around the life of the animals in the
show. Of course, by this point, NBC
had already invested millions in this

Father of
the Pride
Tuesdays at 9 p.m.
NBC

very idea, and the result is the unfunny, uncomfortable-to-
watch "Father of the Pride."
Larry the lion is the focal feline of the show. Voiced by
John Goodman, this down-to-earth favorite of all the animals
has just earned the starring role in Siegfried-and Roy's latest
trick. His wife Kate (voiced by Cheryl Hines, "Curb Your
Enthusiasm") is there right by his side, but has no redeeming
qualities other than the fact that she's there. Husband-and-
wife banter would have helped, but instead "Father of the
Pride" banks its comedy hopes on Larry's counterparts.
Snack (Orlando Jones) is a cute creature, reminiscent of
"The Lion King's" Timon, but viewers will find him too
lewd for their tastes. Larry's rival lion, Sarmoti (Carl Reiner),
goes a step beyond lewd by being plain mean with his overly-
macho, anti-gay behavior.
It's probably for the best that Sarmoti isn't around when
Siegfried and Roy make their required appearances on the
show. The two men are naturally flamboyant, but this pro-
gram takes this characteristic to the extreme. The duo bicker

Is it still too early to make jokes?
like an old married couple while dressed in hideous-looking
outfits and add nothing to already bland episodes. Plus, the
fact remains that Roy actually was attacked by a tiger, and it's
hard to shake that feeling while watching.
DreanWorks Animation, the same company that pro-
duced the wildly successful "Shrek" films, provides the
design for the show and as expected, the settings are spec-
tacular and the animals are detailed and crisp. Using anima-

tion does not guarantee humor, however, especially since the
show isn't even meant for kids. Moreover, an adult-oriented
cartoon doesn't fit well in NBC's prime-time schedule, sand-
wiched between a reality show ("Last Comic Standing") and
an actually funny comedy ("Scrubs").
"Father of the Pride" was a break from the norm, and NBC
earns points for trying. Unfortunately, it didn't find it's new
king of the jungle here.

'Nex Top Model: Cycle One' struts on DVD

By Alexandra Jones
APRIL 5,2005
Daily StaffWriter
It's official: The first season of "America's
Next Top Model," one of television's most
unintentionally hilarious reality gems, has
been released on DVD.
Now in its fourth sea- America's
son, "ANTM" takes a Next Top
dozen or so "beautiful" Model:
girls, puts them in a loft Cycle I:
apartment with cameras
rolling 24/7, attempts to Paramount
shape them into models
and shows the process on UPN.
Cycle 1, the nine episodes that started
it all, remains the most preciously ridicu-
lous season. Through casting calls and
mailed-in videos, producers selected 10
girls to compete to become America's Next
Top Model. One contestant is eliminated
each week until the final three face off in
a high-fashion runway show. The judges
include hostess/supermodel/Creator of

the Universe Tyra Banks and one of the
world's first supermodels and ex-cokehead
Janice Dickinson, whose catty comments
alone ("This looks like she escaped from a
mental institution," or the classic "It looks
like you have a penis.") make this show a
must-see. There's also Marie Claire fashion
editor Beau Quillian and Kimora Lee Sim-
mons, head of Baby Phat. Each week, the
girls learn modeling techniques (like strut-
ting on the runway), compete in a challenge
(creating the perfect "smoky eye") and have
a photo shoot (posing with a snake, acting
in a contact lenses commercial).
The first season of "ANTM" brought
some of the program's most loved and most
reviled personalities. There's Ebony, the
obnoxious, outspoken black lesbian whose
attempts to improve her skin's rough texture
result in a confrontation over the grease she's
been leaving on all the doorknobs; laid-back
Chicagoan rocker Adrienne, whose thick
Midwestern accent and a bout with food poi-
soning don't stop her from winning the sea-
son; and hypocritical ultra-Christian Robin,
a former Miss Soybean pageant winner
whose bitchy zealousness creates a faction

of Bible-thumpers in the house.
And then there's Elyse - a bastion of
real real-world sanity in a house full of ditzy
bitches with pretty, empty heads. This rail-
thin, pre-med indie chick stumbled upon a
casting call and made a tape as a joke - but
her couture-perfect body and a real knack.
for modeling got her to third-to-top on the
show. One of the few contestants who's actu-
ally gotten work after being on the show,
Elyse has done better than any of Season 1, 2
or 3's winners and recently completed a stint
working in Hong Kong.
After they've spent a few weeks stuck
in the house, Robin criticizes Elyse's athe-
ist beliefs - and she snaps. In a confes-
sional booth rant, Elyse verbally rips apart
the other girls in what has to be the abso-
lute apex of reality television: " ... The
most vapid conversations are going on all
around me ... Adrienne ... Stop quoting
"Jay and Silent Bob" next to my ear. Robin,
how fucking dare you show me that 'fool-
ish is the atheist' Bible verse ... Foolish
is the woman who believes that goddamn
tripe. Giselle, you fucking worthless cunt.
You are so wasteful, bitchy, stupid. You're

worthless ... Dammit. Let me fucking die.
You bitches." Elyse is totally awesome.
Unfortunately, Paramount skimped a
little on the show's features. There's a peek
into contestant selection that shows boring
rejected contestants, a talk with Tyra and
producers Ken Mok and Michelle Mock
about the show's inception and a short fea-
turette on two of the show's fabulous main-
stays, makeup artist and utterly useless Jay
Manuel and he of unqualified diva status,
world-famous runway trainer J. Alexander.
More of the judges' deliberations - or a
few of Janice's stories from her rehab days
- would have made this DVD perfect.
So what if none of them (with a few
exceptions) are talented, skinny or young
enough to actually break into the model-
ing world? How can you resist watching
the unsuspecting hamsters pose with live
snakes, condemn each other as heathens and
affectionately call each other "slut-hos"?
You can't. Go buy this DVD. Now.

0i

Show: ****
Picture/Sound: ***I
Features: ***

'Dynamite' DVD
features an indie hit

PUNIT
MATOO

By Punit Mattoo
JANUARY 72005
Daily Staff Writer
Every year, one particular film is labeled
by the media as a "surprise hit." This past

year was no exception
indie about a dorky
Idahoan that earned
$46 million. Backed by
a massive ad campaign
and MTV's support,
"Napoleon Dynamite"
found a teenage audi-

with a low-budget
Napolean
Dynamite
20th Century Fox

absurd environment and memorable characters
that audiences can't help but laugh. With his
trademark quips "sweet" and "what the flip?"
Napoleon is the perfect anti-hero, and Heder's
deadpan delivery is classic.
The DVD's features, although not extensive,
are enjoyable. The short film "Peluca," which
"Napoleon Dynamite" is based on, was made
while Hess was in college. The film depicts Seth
(still played by Heder, but not yet Napoleon) in
a condensed version of the feature with a cast
comprised almost entirely of local students
- including two characters later combined to
create Pedro, Napoleon's best friend.
The commentary provided by Hess, Heder
and producer Jeremy Coon provides insight into
how the film's eccentric aspects came to life.
Viewers also learn that Napoleon's moonboots
come courtesy of an uncle, while the pet llama,
Tina, is one of five owned by Hess's family.
The film's picture and sound prevent "Napo-
leon Dynamite" from being a truly great DVD.
Conversations are often too quiet and sometimes
indecipherable. The slightly grainy picture,
although still impressive for such a low-budget
film, is bothersome at points. Regardless of
these shortcomings, "Napoleon Dynamite" has
a cult-classic aura that makes each viewing just
as fun as the last.

ence drawn to the film's eccentric lead and
favorable word-of-mouth.
Set in director/co-writer Jared Hess's home-
town, the film focuses on the daily life of the
geeky Napoleon (Jon Heder). With his giant
afro, unicorn shirts and moon boots, Napoleon
embodies the awkwardness that is high school
- of course, he's oblivious. Instead, he sets his
disdain upon his equally tacky older brother,
Kip (who spends his time "talking to hot babes
online"), and visiting Uncle Rico (who's stuck in
his high school glory days).
Although essentially plotless, free of any
drugs, profanity or sex (a reflection of Hess's
Mormon upbringing), the film manages to be
hilarious. Relying upon one-liners, Hess and
his wife and co-writer, Jerusha, craft such an

American' Idiots

It's a cult. It must be. How else could
you explain a karaoke competition con-
sistently drawing in more than 25 mil-
lion viewers each week, rescuing the
Fox network from the ratings basement.
"American Idol" first aired during the
reality TV explosion a few years ago.
While other shows have completely
disappeared or have seen their ratings
dwindle to the point of cancellation,
"Idol" just won't go away. Now in its
fourth season, the show is stronger than
ever, leading Fox to an important sweeps
victory. I just can't understand why.
How did this begin? The idea is sim-
ple enough: a singing competition based
on the "Star Search" model. But "Star
Search" never had numbers like these.
The personalities on "Idol" aren't spe-
cial, either. Ryan Seacrest manages to
be more annoying than he is manicured.
With his California tan, teeth whitened
beyond belief and purposefully messy
hair, Seacrest is the face of the manufac-
tured, soulless entertainment industry.
Paula Abdul won a Grammy in a Milli
Vanilli-like coup but is best remembered
for a video duet with an animated cat -
she can't be considered a serious judge
of talent. Randy Jackson has an affable
personality but is boring nonetheless.
And then there's Simon. Dubbed the
asshole of "American Idol," Cowell imi-
tates Anne Robinson, the caustic British
host of the thankfully cancelled "The
Weakest Link." He seems to get off
from the audience's hatred toward him
and stretches to make "harsh" comments
such as "That was extraordinary! Unfor-
tunately, it was extraordinarily bad."
For some reason these elicit boos from
the insipid studio audience, feeding his
already inflated ego. He's not so much
witty as deluded: just another desperate
character trying to become a star.
The contestants have nothing to offer
either. "Idol" winners might have great
voice hut their music is devoid of any

the vote making a difference. 25 mil-
lion votes were cast, all in an attempt to
determine which mediocre singer would
get a better record deal. Ruben won by
a slight margin, but his career was sur-
passed by runner-up Clay Aiken's mas-
terpiece, "Invisible." With such lyrics
as "If I was invisible / Then I could just
watch you in your room," Aiken should
be eager to point out that he doesn't write
any of his songs. He just sings what his
label gives him, whether it be grammati-
cally incorrect, creepy or both.
And who can forget the true star
of season three, William Hung? His
annoying persona and rendition of "She
Bangs" refused to disappear, threaten-
ing the "credibility" of the show. Once
again, however, a. clever marketing
trick managed to make this guy rich
while other, more deserving artists
were stuck with buyers' excuse of too
expensive CDs.
Even scandals have failed to slow
"Idol" down. After less deserving acts in
season three were able to continue to the
show's later rounds, allegations of voting
problems surfaced. Sides were taken,
votes were checked and "Idol" refused
to admit to any error. Broadcast & Cable
magazine looked into the incidents and
found that, while each text message vote
from sponsor AT&T's phones was count-
ed, many people calling in were unable
to get through because of overburdened
phone lines. As a result of the crowded
phone lines across continental America,
Hawaiians were able to get through with
a disproportionately high success rate,
allowing a sub-par native to stay on the
show. Even with these allegations that
seem to undermine the entire concept
of the competition, people tuned in and
accepted the producers' statements that
nothing was wrong.
So what can be done to stop "Ameri-
can Idol?" Another scandal? Unlikely.
Someone leaving? No. too much money

Film: ****
Picture/Sound: ***
Features: ***

"Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills."

I

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