Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Dancing With The Stars, Week Three

The hosts are pushing a dramatic theme for this week's show, stating that many of the stars have been "pushed to the edge" this week. I think that The Edge from U2 should start copyrighting phrases that contain his name. He could be even richer than he is now! Anyway, Shanna Moakler is, thankfully, gone. The show has also been trimmed down to a more reasonable 90 minutes. Here's the recap for this week.

Emmitt Smith: This performance produced the first of many judicial bitch-slaps of the night. The practice clip shows a travel-weary Emmitt flying to Virginia to perform in the Miss Virginia pageant, which his wife is hosting. All I could find out about his wife is that she used to be married to Martin Lawrence. Thank God she traded up. Emmitt and Cheryl attempt to dance the Tango, and the results are less than astounding. The couple is good, but not great, and their mediocrity is met with harsh words from the judges. Apparently they broke some stringent no-lifts rule that is normally punishable by death in the ballroom dancing world. The judges give Emmitt the lowest score of the episode, a brutal 19. I agree with the criticism, but there's no way he deserved a lower score than Jerry Springer. Boo.

Monique Coleman: Monique courts the audience by playing the mother card. Incidentally, her mom looks exactly like Aretha Franklin before her second breakfast. Louis and Monique try the Jive out for size, and they take some names: a big catch, fast footwork, and the always popular chest-shaking. For some reason Monique chose an outfit from Big Bird's fall collection, which I found a bit distracting. The judges ignore this and focus on the actual dancing instead. The pair receives a 27, one of the highest scores of the night. Then Monique ruins it all by saying that the show is one of the best things that ever happened to her. Lame.

Harry Hamlin: To prepare for their Tango, Harry and Ashly go to an Argentinian restaurant run by the sweatiest people north of the equator. Harry goes all method actor on Ashly, telling her he's imagining that he's in "a dirty streetcorner in Buenos Aires," and his passion must reflect that setting. The intensity pays off, because the finished product is far less forced than Harry's earlier dances. He also does a funny fake-out with a rose, first pretending to give it to Carrie Ann, then giving it to Bruno. And they say he's too serious. This pisses them both off; only Len gives the couple a decent score. Final score: 22.

Willa Ford: The producers should have titled her practice sequence "Waiting Out The Inevitable," because that's all that Willa is doing. Mario Lopez could flip off the audience during his dance, and Willa would still be sent packing. Willa got a 2-for-1 deal at the store that sold her last week's costume, because tonight she's got some kind of Malt Shoppe Skank thing going on. Am I the only one who still believes that less is more? She and Maksim do a great Jive, and continue to be one of the best performers out there. It won't save them from the judges, though, because they have also violated the No Lifts Commandment of Jive. All this talk about Jive reminds me of the part in Airplane when Barbara Billingsley claims to be fluent in Jive. Memories. Score: 22

Jerry Springer: The train of buffoonery makes its weekly stop. This time, Jerry is imitating James Bond, right down to the dapper tuxedo. Kym does all of the real dancing, as usual, but Jerry throws in some decent footwork to earn his keep. Bruno scores off Jerry by saying that his Tango was more Pink Panther than James Bond. Ha. Backstage, Jerry is feeling guilty about being the Jerry Rice of this season, and begs the audience to "come to its senses." Whatever. The man is smart enough to know that self-deprecation kills. He'll be around for a while. Score: 21.

Sara Evans: Sara incorporates some of her country roots in order to be more at ease with her Jive. The result is half country line dance, half Jive, but I don't hate it. She's definitely a lot less tense, and appears to genuinely have fun on the dance floor. It wasn't all perfect, though. Her skirt either needed to be a few inches longer or on someone a few years younger. I know that dancing allows for more revealing attire, but I don't think a little extra fabric would have gotten in the way. I'm just saying. The judges are far kinder to Sara than in the past, which I'm glad about. Sara's progress combined with her fan votes will keep her in cowboy boots for quite a while. Score: 25.

Mario Lopez: Of all the judicial bitch-slaps, this was the most gratifying. Mario's rule-breaking Tango was met with a brutal scolding by the judges. The man panders to the audience way too much, and the judges want some traditional technique to assess. I'd like to think that Mario was also being scored based on the ridiculous headband that he wore during practices. Score: 22

Vivica A. Fox: At the suggestion of Carrie Ann, Vivica takes ballet lessons, but insists on wearing a tutu "in the right color." I can see the logic behind this. Vivica is very athletic (see Kill Bill, Vol.1 if you don't agree), but not graceful. The jailhouse tats, which are visible no matter what she wears, are also a little scary. Her Tango is very good, and I think the ballet helped. The judges are very generous to Vivica and Nick, and Vivica starts crying. I'm amazed at how seriously some of the contestants take this show. It's almost sweet. Score: 27

Joey Lawrence: Yet another controversial dance! Joey's open-shirt look proves that he can't grow hair on his chest either (or he has a very rich waxer). The Elvis-inspired Jive was a crowd-pleaser, but included a lift and a handstand. Both are apparently not allowed, and Joey faces the wrath of the judges for the first time. I thought the judges were a little harsh this time around. Come on, it's Joey Lawrence--cut him some slack. The guy seems genuinely sorry, and looks like my dog after I've caught him trying to get into the garbage can (again). Score: an unfair 22.

Willa Ford must go home tonight for my faith in humanity to be restored. If Emmitt leaves, I will wash my hands of this show. For real.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dancing With The Stars--Week Two

It's Week Two, and the Dancing With The Stars cast is one Tucker Carlson lighter. It feels right, and I'm not going to mourn Tucker's loss now that I have Emmitt Smith to swoon over. Here's the rundown of last night's performances:

Willa Ford: The footage of Willa getting frustrated and storming out isn't going to help her in the audience votes department, an area in dire need of help. She and Maksim do the mambo, and I can't decide which one of them looks the most like a stripper. Willa looks like Miami Whore Barbie (I'm talking bubble-gum pink lipstick, here) and Maksim's pants look like they are of the tearaway variety. They do a good job, as always, but I find it difficult to root for them. Score: 23

Harry Hamlin: Harry had, by far, one of the funniest "practice" sequences of this episode. His partner, Ashly (apparently professional dancers loathe traditional name spellings), brings in a laughter yogi (translation: overpaid yoga instructor) to loosen him up. The scene is ridiculous, but funny, as Harry acknowledges that, initially, his laughter was forced. His actual dancing seems to have improved, undoubtedly due to the rigorous laughter session. Harry and Ashly do some decent footwork during their Quickstep routine, but the glacier has not entirley melted. I can't figure out why a man with Harry Hamlin's lean body type cannot dance. He looks like he would fit right in with the cast of an old-timey musical. Maybe it's just me. Score: 21

Monique Coleman: She and Louis were told to work on their chemistry, and they certainly delivered the goods. They perform an incredibly hot, flirtatious mambo, including some professional-level moves. I wish I knew more dancing terminology, because my crude descriptions would not do the moves justice. Afterwards, the camera pans to some Billy Corgan-looking guy in the audience, but it turns out he's just one of her fellow High School Musical castmembers. Wait, there's a young bald guy on High School Musical? He'd better be the principal. Or battling cancer. Monique and Louis' torso-jiggling performance is rewarded with a 26, the highest score thus far.

Mario Lopez: The only thing I enjoyed about Mario's training montage was the part where his partner fake-slapped him. That's for Ali Landry, jerk! His Quickstep is fun, but not as impressive as last week's performance. He rightly gets called out for pandering to the crowd, and is punished with a 21. Throughout the dance, they kept showing his "family," and I kept thinking that his dad looked like comedian George Lopez. Apparently it was George Lopez, who is not his dad. It's a shame; that would have been an awesome trivia tidbit.

Shanna Moakler: Something is off about this couple. For starters, Shanna is wearing a dress covered with fringe, and looks like an antique lamp or something. Plus they danced to that ballroom classic, "Jump" by Kriss Kross. The word "huh?" comes to mind. Their mambo is good, but slow, and they receive decent feedback. Score: 22

Jerry Springer: Unfortunately, Jerry's partner, Kym, has a slight injury this week. It gives Jerry a chance to showcase his concerned, paternal side, which will probably carry him into next week. He actually seems genuinely worried for his partner (sweet!). They maintain Jerry's goofy schtick by wearing what look like costumes from Chicago and doing a faux groin kick. Always stylish. Jerry knows how to perform, which is good, since he'll never be the most techincally perfect dancer. I couldn't believe that host Tom Bergeron made a joke about judge Len's age with a Methuselah reference. Was he for real? Do people still get biblical references? Once I finished taking college-level lit courses I erased them from my memory forever. Score: 19

Vivica Fox: Vivica and Nick perform an athletic version of the mambo, including a cartwheel and a roundhouse kick. Someone was channeling Chuck Norris! Unfortunately, Vivica's insane green eye shadow takes her out of the judges' favor. Len uses a pizza metaphor in his critique, and calls her dance "doughy." Ouch. There's no way this guy can be married. He must know that women don't want to be compared to anything high in carbs. Score: 24

Joey Lawrence: In his intro, Joey professes that the Quickstep is so difficult, "it's like math." Whoa, that is pretty hard. For some reason he decided to dress as a leprechaun for his dance. I guess Halloween came early this year at Dancing With The Stars, if the clothes are any indication. Joey and Edyta's footwork is fast and graceful, and they infuse some Joey-brand tap into their performance. I thought it was adorable that Joey gave Edyta a bonus twirl after they got a standing ovation. Twirls are the key to any woman's heart. Score: a whopping 29!!

Sara Evans: Sara was determined to show the judges more of her personality this week, and I think she's succeeding in increments. She was less tense during her mambo, but find it hard to believe that a hugely popular singer can't have more fun than that. I hope she stays around, though, because I'm willing to bet that she has more to show the audience. A distraction made me miss Len's definition of welly, but I'm on the case. Score: 21

Emmitt Smith: He's wearing a tux! With tails! I gasp like I've never gasped before. His practice sequence teaches me that running backs are often required to lean forward, handicapping Emmitt for the stiff-as-a-board posture required in the Quickstep. Dundundun! The problem must have been easy to fix, because Emmitt Smith exhibits some slick moves once again. He earns 24 points and a new nickname from Carrie Ann: Twinkle Toes.

I predict that Shanna or Willa will go home tonight, and that Emmitt will continue to impress.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dancing With The Stars!

The new season of Dancing With The Stars premiered tonight, and it was, as Eric Cartman would say, hella sweet. I had only watched snippets of earlier seasons, so I am basically new to the whole phenomenon. Now I can't believe I missed out on all the fun. Let me give you the rundown, if for some strange reason you opted not to glue yourself to the TV for two straight hours.

Joey Lawrence: Whoa! I admire Joey, first, for re-embracing his friendlier first name, and also for staying in shape when so many faded child stars have become bloated and gross from years of partying and drug use. The Daddy Warbucks head was a little distracting, but his dance moves reclaimed my attention. The man can still dance, people.

Tucker Carlson: I hate to speak ill of my imaginary boyfriend (I like the bow ties, not the political worldview), but Tucker deserved the bottom spot for his phoned-in performance. He spent the first 20 seconds or so of his number sitting in a chair! I'm not buying it. Also, the open-buttoned shirt made him look too much like a guy getting married on the beach in the Caribbean somewhere. He looked careless, not dapper. And dapper is the name of the game.

Sara Evans: A great singer, but a blah dancer. Sara Evans looked gorgeous as usual, but was slow and dull on the floor with her partner, Tony. Another contestant likely to go home early.

Monique Coleman: I was going to call Monique a kid, but apparently she's only a few months younger than I am. So why was she in High School Musical? Were they going for that Luke Perry effect, or did she play a student-teacher or something? Anyway, she won't last long. Her dancing was OK, but I doubt that her younger fanbase wanted to sit through the entire episode tonight.

Willa Ford: Just call her Stacy Keibler, Jr., because Willa is the new resident hottie on the show. I hate to admit it, but she's flawless, and I loved her updo. Her love-hate relationship with partner Maksim will certainly make for a good backstory. Those two would make a dyanmite soap opera couple: they are both hot and into themselves, plus sparks fly between them on the dance floor.

Emmitt Smith: Tucker is officially dumped, and Emmitt Smith is my new crush. The man is very stylish and an incredible dancer. You could tell that he worked hard in practices, but wanted to have fun with his performance. He was very smooth, and he did some sort of hip-hop move (I thought it was The Worm, but apprently it's something else) that was hilarious. When host Tom Bergeron mentioned that a staff member said it was like watching her Teddy Bear dance, I laughed. That's exactly the kind of thing I would say. Smith had better stick around for a while.

Mario Lopez: Let me begin by stating how passionately I hate A.C. Slater. The man is a sleazy cheater. That said, he's a pretty amazing dancer, although I suspect he's a ringer. The tight pants and pelvic thrusts did not help his case, either. Even the slightest hint of pelvic movement in dance makes me really uncomfortable; I would easily trade places with an adolescent girl in Sex Ed class than have to witness another pelvic thrust. It was pretty funny when Judge Bruno called him Super Mario and asked if he had extra batteries in his pants. What a pickup line!!

Shanna Moakler: Her fascinating divorce drama and her Lifetime-esque desire to prove herself were overshadowed by her lame dancing and eye makeup. That's funny: eye shadow literally overshadows something. Ha!

Harry Hamlin: MMMM. Aaron Echolls, as hot as ever. It's too bad he can't talk while dancing, because that voice would make a wolverine purr. Unfortunately, the man is more sex appeal than technical proficiency, and he was ravaged by the judges. Please keep him around, for the sake of eye candy. Joey Lawrence's bald head is just too much.

Vivica A. Fox: I thought it was lame of Samantha Harris to make such of a point of Vivica being the oldest female contestant, but Vivica showed them all. Her performance was fun and sexy, and she seemed truly moved to win the judges' approval.

Jerry Springer: This guy has some kind of Bill Clinton spell over the masses. He hosts a terrible talk show, but is irresistibly charming and funny. I thought it was adorable that he did the show so he could dance at his daughter's wedding, and the banter between Jerry and his partner was disarming. Alas, Jerry is more of a crowd favorite than a Judges' pet. And was he wearing a sash?

Tomorrow--the results show. Not to mention the one and only Tom Jones! I'm so there.

Monday, September 11, 2006

How To Postpone a Marriage Indefinitely, By Brad Pitt

To all the commitment-phobic men in the world, those guys with perpetually cold feet: Brad Pitt just saved your asses. He has concocted an airtight, entirely noble reason to never get married. Too bad it's total BS.

In the recent issue of Esquire magazine, Pitt, otherwise known as the "Br" in Brangelina, declared that he and Angelina Jolie (and Angelina's lips) will never marry unless the U.S. government recognizes all couples equally. Wow. I'm not saying that the average woman would buy that excuse, but it would definitely make us pause and think for a while. At the very least, it's original. It has chutzpah, I'll give it that.

Most of the article is your standard "celebs are better than you even when they're being ordinary" type stuff. One guffaw-inducing example:

"His olive-green T-shirts—two of them, thin and expensive, worn in layers—are wrinkled and slightly askew, the neck holes off-center to expose one heroic clavicle."

I want it to be someone's job to provide flattering adjectives for completely random parts of my body. Seriously, a heroic clavicle? How about an altruistic pinky? A dedicated knee? The worst bit is a quote from Brad, concerning his submission to the magazine of a Top 15 List of Things Everyone Should Know. Feast your eyes:

He waves me off with a french fry, pops it into his mouth. "Are you kidding?" he asks, taking a pull of Coke from the straw. "It's like, enough about me already, you know? Let's talk about something important."

I hate when celebrities try to be humble, especially A-List super-celebrities. Maybe Brad thinks his humility and sense of humor are what got him here, but the rest of us know better. As a general rule, humility is intolerable from people who expect millions of dollars in exchange for anything.

Let's get to that list. If you haven't opened the link and read it, you're in for a treat. Pitt comes off like those college-bound overachievers who are a little too well-rounded to be human; I'm sure you've met the type I mean. When you ask them what kind of music they like, they inhale thoughtfully and say, "A little bit of everything, really. Classical, rock, ska, jazz, world, and (insert hipster band-of-the week here) is seriously overlooked by mainstream listeners." The "Things" that Brad picks range from hair products to The Drug War to pop culture. Gee, he's just a regular Joe who likes Jack White, social justice, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses! I must see that man's next film. A note to family-oriented couples: Brad has given you the green light to adopt! I know how much that endorsement means to all of you.

The "Thing" most frequently noted in the news, however, has been his "stance" on marriage, which isn't so much an opinion as a copout. From a PR perspective, this is genius. I hate it and admire it at the same time. He pretty much never has to answer another question about wedding rumors again, and he gets respect to boot. You just know that unhappily married men all over the nation are kicking themselves for not inventing that excuse.
Look for conservative groups like the Christian Coalition to suddenly recieve a large number of anonymous donations. The man has to cover his bases, doesn't he?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Suri Cruise: The Zapruder Film of Baby Photos

Well, the moment has arrived; Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have successfully purchased a fake baby on the black market, and they have the photos to prove it!! Suri and TomKat are gracing the cover of Vanity Fair's October issue. Since I won't be able to hear Entertainment Tonight's analysis of the picture for a few hours, I'll have to begin scrutinizing it myself.

First of all, the cheesiness factor is seriously high. The longer I look at the cover, the more lactose-intolerant I become--it's that bad. The tagline "Yes, Suri, She's Our Baby!" only compounds the offense. I thought Vanity Fair had a little more class, or, at the very least, a sense of elitism. Dominick Dunne should quit in protest, or at least loan photographer Annie Leibovitz his Coke-bottle specs so she can better see the glorified Christmas card photo she has released into the world.

Let's start with the proud "parents." According to E!, Tom Cruise stole the baby-in-the-jacket pose from a Paul McCartney album. Lame! I hope Tom isn't becoming obsessed with the Beatles now. That's Stage One of Michael Jackson Creepy Syndrome. Next he'll become a vegetarian and start speaking with a British accent. And Katie--where to start. They must have had a team of oxen pulling her face and neck fat out of the frame, because there isn't a loose bit of skin to be found. Are we supposed to believe she just had a baby? Now I'm positive she was wearing a fatty suit all those months. In fact, her neck is so taut, you can almost catch a glimpse of her Adam's apple (wait, I've said too much).

Now we come to the baby herself. She could actually be Tom's biological child, but she'd have to sport the deranged Tom Cruise 50-teeth smile for me to be convinced. Does anyone else find it odd that she has a gigantic baby 'fro, but hardly any eyebrows? Then again, I know very little about babies, let alone celebrity imposter babies. I SO want her first word to be "glib." Or "Xenu."

Vanity Fair's website gives a brief excerpt from the article to tease all of us lamewads who don't live in L.A. or New York and can't buy the magazine yet. According to Katie, the controversial in-home sonogram that Tom bought was for the purpose of her doctor's house calls. They tried to avoid going to the doctor's office because they were worried about paparazzi interference. We all know how media-shy that couple can be!

Welcome to the world, Suri Cruise. See you on the next episode of VH1's Fabulous Life of Celebrity Children!

Monday, September 04, 2006

RIP, Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter)

I was completely shocked to wake up this morning and read that Steve Irwin, better known as The Crocodile Hunter, had died after a gruesome encounter with a stingray. What a horrible way to die. This was a man who worked tirelessly to educate people to appreciate and respect wildlife, and now he may be reduced to a cautionary example.

However controversial his past behavior may have been, Steve Irwin was, above all, an educator. Animals are often misunderstood, mistreated, and overlooked, and Steve Irwin did his best to enlighten people about wildlife. I was surprised to read that he was also a dedicated conservationist, and that it was this work, not his fame as a TV personality, in which he took the most pride.

Apparently the circumstances of Irwin's death were unusual, almost freakish. In the case of bizarre accidents such as this, the events surrounding the person's death overshadow that person's life and work. I sincerely hope this does not happen. It would be an insult to the man's memory and to his family. Anyone wishing to honor Steve Irwin's memory should donate to his charity, Wildlife Warriors Worldwide.