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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 2/2006

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (February 1, 2006 at 3:22 am)

AUSTIN - I’ve lost my sense of reality.

“Laguna Beach” is already the most fake reality show going. I’ve worked on nearly a dozen reality shows and so I can smell it. When you have complete coverage, blocking and proper lighting, you do not have reality. You have what I like to term “Unwritten drama.” You can smell a producer/director lurking behind the cameramen throwing topics to the “real people” as they try to capture them acting naturally.

Ringo Starr and Buck Owens weren’t too wrong when they said they could have been stars - except it’s not quite in the movies. It’s on “Laguna Beach.”

And when it comes to the female roller derby craze that’s sweeping the nation, there’s an unwritten rule - flat track is real - oval is theatrical. The Los Angeles Thunderbirds were an oval track operation.

So when the crew from Laguna Beach hang out at the oval track run by the Lonestar Rollergirls, it’s a match not seen on TV since Vince McMahon created the Rock and Wrestling Connection. And oddly enough, it airs against the WWE’s “Monday Night Raw.”

A&E spent a fortune making and hyping “Rollergirls.” It’s an attempt to cash in on the female roller derby leagues that have cropped up around the country. I’ve spent some time videotaping the Carolina Rollergirls. So we’ll I’m not an expert, I have seen and heard enough to get a sense of what’s behind this sport. And mostly what’s behind it is pain.

The game is very taxing on the body. An college friend of mine destroyed her shoulder joint playing a few years ago. Broken bones and deep bruises are the norm. I haven’t been around this many injured women since I left ballet school (those girls were always on crutches between Swan Lakes). This is not a game that you can play every night.

There’s a lot of big questions not addressed in the series. It seems like several of the gals didn’t start roller-skating until they wanted to join the league. How can a girl grow up without roller-skating? What drives a woman to want to play this sport especially one that’s never been on wheels? Did they get imprinted as girls when they saw Raquel Welch in “Kansas City Bomber?” What did they do with their free time before they had to dedicate themselves to three practices a week and a lot of time applying heating pads to their ass? Are any of these women regulars at fetish parties which have also taken off in the past few years? Are they bruise-oholics?

What’s up with the mystery men that lurk at the edge of the camera frame at the rink? For all the talk of women in charge, what is the male involvement in the league? Is this another Suicide Girls situation?

Most of the boyfriends they show are dorks. One gal’s man looks like he spends all day studying to look like Hunter S. Thompson. Another one thinks he’s going to move in with girlfriend and her teammate/roommate. She turns him down on camera. I personally thought the guy was nuts because a house with two women is one that does not have toilet paper. Do any of these girls date guys with personalities? Or is the director swaying the conversation with the guys to make the women look large and in charge of the relationship? “The lamest moment in the first five episodes was nearly five minutes of two boyfriends trying to work on a song while their ladies go bar hopping. Are they really this lame? How do they expect to keep these rock star girlfriends happy?

Maybe a couple of these questions will be answered over the 13 hour long episodes. But I doubt it. There seems to be an amazing unspoken rule between the documentary crew and the rollergirls - no one tells the secrets. The mythology will be preserved at all cost. The women assume their roller derby names and are never connected to their real names. We sometimes hear that Sister Mary Jane being called by her real name, but the filmmakers never connect the dots on screen.

The biggest question of the series is the fighting. Is it always real? During one episode, they showed two teams having a scrimmage days before the real match. And two of the gals start play fighting on the track. Are the fights choreographed? During one episode two gals fight and after the match they meet up for drinks. Now during my rec league basketball days, I would get tangled up under the boards. After a hard foul, I wasn’t in the mood to kid around with the other forward at the soft drink machine. The only people who grab a drink after beating each other silly are pro wrestlers. Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair didn’t mind hitting a nightclub after a World Title tussle.

Does the game work like the show? Do they juice the track drama to keep the eyeballs?

While I like to compare roller derby to rec league basketball, it isn’t. Roller derby has to attract a paying crowd. And to do that, it has to have razzle dazzle and dramatics. And in the case of oval tracks, you have to sell tickets to pay for the wood and bolts. And you have to make sure the fans get their money’s worth. Games can’t be blow outs. And fights do excite a hockey crowd. You want that crowd drunk, cheering and ready to come back. They don’t want homecoming blowouts.

Just like how the makers of “Kansas City Bomber” didn’t expose the realities of the sport, “Rollergirls” makes sure that that we think it’s all for real. But it is “Sports Entertainment.” There’s almost too much “plot” in the real days of these women. And that’s just the nature of what reality TV is about now.

What burns me up most is how insignificant the game is to the show. They give us the score, but we don’t know how much time is left in the game. Half the time, we’re given way too many close ups that are from different jams (that’s what they call a session around the track). The game footage is cut for people who don’t want to watch the sport. They don’t give us a real countdown clock - even when we get the score. It would have been nice if A&E had the show set up so they’d run the complete matches on the weekends after midnight or maybe Saturday mornings. The game only exists to boost the drama.

While we get to know everything about the Holy Rollers, the Hellcats, The Rhinestone Cowgirls and the Putas Del Fuego, we learn nothing about the Cherry Bombs. It’s a five league team and after five episodes, we have no clue about them or their names. They played one game against the Hellcats and they had no storyline action. How do these women feel that the producers have decided that they’re the Washington Generals to the other 4 teams Harlem Globetrotters?

Will “Rollergirls” lead to bigger and better things for the sport? A while ago I sensed that this could become the next Robot Battles or Poker. But when I was pitching a female roller derby show to certain industry folks, there was a wait and see what the numbers hold for “Rollergirls.” It’ll be interesting to see what sort of coverage comes from the Dust Devil, a nationwide invitations for flat track Roller Derby. Can this sport get a cult viewership? Can it go beyond being a weekend warrior sport? Will someone try to create a national league? Or will it become like in-line hockey of the mid-90s?

I don’t think the sport will fizzle out because it’s not just a college fad. The teams around here feature women from just out of high school to mothers claiming 39. But they all seem to be equally sore after a hard game on the flat track. It’s kinda like Fightclub except they don’t mind talking about it.

I’ve sort of enjoyed watching “Rollergirls.” There’s an allure to several of the women including Sister Mary Jane - although we never learn if she does take break at 4:20 p.m. between teaching kids and giving lessons on the track. But I know that I’m not being a fly on the wall in their lives. I’m sitting in a reserved seat and they are performing. I just hope none of them elbow my beer.


Here’s my prediction for 2008: A reality TV president. I’m not talking about the president being the winner of a TV show. But instead of blitzing us with 30 second ads, a candidate will invest in creating a reality show that’ll air as paid programming on a few cable channels and UHF stations in Iowa and New Hampshire. The show will give us a “real” insight on how he views America, deals with people and dreams of how he’ll make this place better. We’ll see this man outside the filter of the press corp.

Remember that each year we hear idiot pundits going on about “Who are these candidates?” Well now one shall have several 30 minute episodes of “unscripted drama” that will give a viewer insight. This will allow the viewer to vote not for a politician, but a TV friend.

The candidate will have to hire a crack crew that will be able to present him as a cross between Robert Young and the Fonz. They don’t want him to come off as a dork. People will come out to the pancake breakfasts to say hello to the star. Although you need to make sure that your wife and kids are camera ready. You might want to send junior off to take a few improv classes so he’ll look natural as your son. And unlike Big Brother, you won’t have to keep the cameras around 24-7. You shall pick your moments to illustrate your beliefs and policies. The cameras are not their to record reality, but as tools to project your reality to the masses.

Sure candidates come out with books that relay their message, but who wants to read? How many people would rather take home a free DVD and watch a few episodes of “D.C. for You and Me?” This idea works on so many levels. And your opponent will be caught off guard. If they try to get into the game, you get to call them a copycat. You become the original.

By the way, if anyone uses this idea in their presidential run, I’m sending you a bill for $250,00 - which is a bargain for a million dollar idea.


They just announced the Oscar nominations yet and I’m already bored of this year’s award season.

While I’m a fan of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, they’re schlubs. It’s sweet that they’re considered front runners, but it’s a strange feeling when the popular kids elevate them. These are two guys who eat at the dork table in the cafeteria (and I’m at the end of that bench). It’s like they’re being set up for a “Carrie” moment. Do they have buckets of blood in the Kodak Theater?

I fear that Felicity Hoffman is going to get jobbed by Reese Witherspoon. Why? Because there are certain people that the Academy members embrace and want to be winners. Remember when Renee Z. won an Oscar for impersonating Granny Clampett? How about last year when Virginia Madsen was robbed by Cate Blanchett? Did Cate have a moment in “The Aviator” that came within hollerin’ distance of Virginia’s wine speech in “Sideways?” Virginia nailed that moment as she spoke of the grape. And in the end she got rejected. Why? Because she’s a straight to video sequel queen and Cate is the princess of the Academy.

I just can’t get hyped up over “Brokeback Mountain.” Gay cowboys. Big whoop. How come Andy Warhol didn’t win any awards for “Lonesome Cowboys?”

Ang Lee is the most boring and overhyped director working today. “Ice Storm” made sexual liberation look dull. Even with the promise of Jewel’s naked breasts, I fell asleep while watching “Ride with the Devil.” I didn’t even feel the desire to rewind the film to see her nipples for fear I’d conk out again. “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” had it’s moments, but the opening segment was just two people talking about a sword. I remember falling asleep and not realizing that the whole desert scene was a flashback till the end. “The Hulk” is not the worst superhero movie thanks to stinking turds like “Daredevil” and “Fantastic Four.” But the way the critics praise the film as “thinking man’s action,” was pathetic. I wanted to fall asleep during this film, but it was just too loud and dumb.

Ang Lee must mean “Cinematic Nap” in Chinese. Which is the reason why I’m not paying $10 to see this film - even with the promise of seeing that “Princess Diaries’ gal show off her breasts. And having the most boring director team up with Jake Gyllenhaal, the most boring new actor of 2003 makes me know this is Somonex territory.

And don’t play the “this guy doesn’t want to see guys making out” card. Cause I’ve seen every episode of “Queer As Folk” - English and American. Plus I consider Bruce LaBruce’s “Super 8 1/2″ one of the greatest films of the 90s. Of course those shows don’t bore me to sleep.

Between me and you, they just need to cancel this year’s Oscars and announce that this year’s films will get lumped in with next year’s offerings.


And who is in charge of Eric Bana’s career?

I loved this guy in “Chopper.” But since then he’s become the superstar that hasn’t happened. “Black Hawk Down” he was just another face on the screen. If I hadn’t seen him in “Chopper,” I wouldn’t have noticed him. He was equally bland in “The Hulk.” Man didn’t make me forget that his Bruce Banner was no David Banner. “Troy” almost had him go over, but he had to play second fiddle to both Brad Pitt and that sissy Orlando Bloom. He didn’t even try to stake out his place in the frame. And finally there’s Spielberg’s “Munich.” Who wants a nationalistic killer with a heart? Spielberg turns him into Alan Alda with a gun. Someone needs to slap Bana around and remind him it’s time for him to play a hardcore asskicker or he’ll end up fighting for crappy “chick flick” roles with Matthew McConaughey. And being a Poker player hooked up with Drew Barrymore ain’t cuttin’ it. What’s the point of you draggin’ your ass across the Pacific to play roles that Benny Hill could pull off?


One of the warnings the MPAA gives us on Tim Burton’s retake of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is for “Quirky Situations.” Are they kidding me? These are the same people who wouldn’t flag “I, Robot” for Will Smith cussing, but somehow they want parents to be forewarned about “Quirky Situations?” Maybe there should be a warning for “Plot” or “Human Interaction.” What is a movie without a “Quirky Situation?” Did they slap this warning on every Bugs Bunny cartoon?

I want to know if the people who rate the movies are recruited from head trauma clinics around Los Angeles? Are these morons the same goofs who design shopping mall parking lots?

And speaking of Burton’s “Charlie,” the film will not make me forget “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” I’m not going to use that “old” DVD for skeet shooting. When I have kids, they’re going to think of Gene Wilder is Willie Wonka. There’s no reason for them to see Johnny Depp’s take on the candy genius. There’s no real panache to Burton’s vision. And it doesn’t make sense.

How exactly can the Buckets be poor when they have that much property around their shack? How can they afford the property taxes? And Charlie let the candy shop owner keep his nearly Nine pounds worth of change when he wins the ticket. He got ripped off by the guy and didn’t care. For a poor kid, he sure doesn’t mind letting the cash flow out of his hands. And why did the tour have to be a contest with everyone knowing that one kid gets the big prize? This is a kid’s story - no Survivor Jr. Edition.

And while I won’t give away the ending, it’s dishwater dull. It just painfully boring and over-extended. Almost wish Depp would choke on his gobstopper.

The only thing that Burton’s version has going for it: Geoffery Holder as the narrator. I thought Geoffery was dead. He’s the best damn thing in “Live and Let Die.” You should rent that Bond movie instead of this film.


March brings employment for Allan Havey. The greatest late night host of the 90s plays a semi-hip dad in Fox’s “Free Ride.” Havey has been interviewed in the Party Favors so we always rejoice when he appears on TV - like last year when he was on the Wendy’s Ad and Larry David’s show.

Allan’s new show seems goofy enough to survive longer than “Heather Graham Can’t Get Laid.” Was that the dumbest concept for a TV episode? What’s next, a sitcom where Ron Jeremy fears he’s losing his back hair?


I’m slowly working my way through “The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection.” All 124 of the theatrical Pink Panther shorts are on 5 DVDs. That’s 11 hours worth of pink lovin. And they threw in a coupon that’s good for a free ticket to see the crummy new “Pink Panther” movie where Steve Martin proves that hack performance in “Cheaper By the Dozen” wasn’t a fluke. I really hope Steve is back to doing drugs so he has an excuse for this period in his life.


In the “You’ll pay more for less” file, Universal is coming out with single titles from their recent Alfred Hitchcock collection. They want $20 (SRP) for Topaz. I was able to pick up all 14 titles in the boxset for $84. So who is going to buy 4 of these DVDs because they’d rather not get the other 10 “free.”


As of Jan. 21, 2006, any public quoting of “Napoleon Dynamite” is now restricted to middle management.

“Flavor of Love” should really be called “Be My Bitches.” It’s shows like this that make bigamy sound like a bad thing.


I’ve got a question about whether “Enron: Smartest Guys In The Room” is really Oscar eligible. According to HDnet’s own press release:

“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” was produced by HDNet Films, the high-definition production division that is co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, who also own HDNet and HDNet Movies. It was the first film to be distributed in the ground-breaking day-and-date release strategy, making a joint debut in both theatres and on HDNet Movies on the same day, April 22nd, 2005 and is currently available on DVD.

According to the Oscars, the rules about films are:

3. Films which, in any version, receive their first public exhibition or distribution in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release will not be eligible for Academy Awards in any category. (This includes broadcast and cable television, as well as home video marketing and internet transmission.) However, ten minutes or ten percent of the running time of a film, whichever is shorter, is allowed to be shown in a nontheatrical medium prior to the film?s theatrical release.

Now when I raised this issue with the Academy Awards folks, this was the response: “Enron” had completed is qualifying run between April 15 and April 21. On April 22 it went into wide release as well as running on HD Net.

Did the public have the chance to buy a ticket and see the film a week before it aired on HDNet? If yes, than it wasn’t a groundbreaking event since it wasn’t a joint debut. If no, then the film shouldn’t be up for an Oscar.

This means one of two things, either distributors of Enron lied about when the film really opened to the Academy or they fudged the truth on their press release to hype a vapor event. Which makes it kind of ironic that a film about Enron would play fast and loose with the truth.


3 Responses to “Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 2/2006”

  1. Anon Says:

    1. TXRD, the banked track league featured was the original group that revived the sport. It’s skater owned and operated so no WWE type male leader runs this league.
    2. The show is a documentary series and not scripted. The skating is 100% real.
    3. The Cherry Bombs are the newest team made up of nearly all rookies. They are the sacrifical lambs of the 2005 season.
    4. Most of the girls go by their skate names to other skaters, and real names to friends and family who knew them before derby.
    5. You’re right, Laguna beach is fake. It’s easy to manipulate teens who want to be famous but impossible to manipulate rollergirls who’d rather kick your ass that say what a TV producer wants.
    6. I’m surprised that you didn’t see the Minnesota girls drink with each other after their bouts. These girls are sisters. Some take it more personally than others.

  2. Joe Corey Says:

    1. The fact that the men involved into the show are kept in the shadows made me raise the question.

    2: I work on enough “Reality shows” to know that it’s hard to believe that the show isn’t staged in several aspects in order to juice up “story content.” Of course it is unscripted. All the shows I’ve worked on have been very alert to make sure that nothing is written down for people to read because that would turn the folks on screen into actors that are required to recieve SAG minimum. They also don’t want scripts to avoid SWG getting their fingers into the productions.

    I still hold my question about the fighting on the track as WWE moments. Sure these matches aren’t as bad as the old LA Thunderbird matches, but the whole fighting element seems part of the practices that aren’t taped.

    3. The fact that the Cherry Bombs are a pack of newbies going up against the established teams should give them at least a decent storyline - the sheep amongst the wolves.

    4. The name game gets confusing for a casual viewer. I understand the whole name game from my pals who play in Raleigh. But it does get confusing when talking to people because it is a bit cult-like. It’s like you’re crossing a line when you refer to a long time friend by their real name. It’s actually kind of uncomfortable because they immediately correct you, “You mean ZsaZsa Gooboom.” It’s like chatting with a moonie in that sense.

    5. I severally doubt that Punk Bruiser will ever kick one of the Laguna Beach producer’s asses. Because they are on the same level as the Laguna Beach kids. They want the nationwide spotlight. They want fame. They want this sport to get bigger so that they can quit their dayjobs and make a nice living playing across the country. Does Punky really want to work her day job until she hits retirement age? Everyone on the show seems to talk about making the league a viable pro sport. this show is a platform for restablishing it outside of Austin, Texas. These aren’t the Hells Angels. they won’t breaking beer bottles and going after a producer when they’re told to sit in a certain postion and discuss a certain subject. You’re pushing the myth if I’m supposed to believe that Sister Mary Jane is really willing to attack a cameraman and risk the entire series.

    6. The Minnesota Girls did drink with the Carolina Rollergirls, but there were no drag down fights. And it is the fighting that makes those of us who enjoy legit flat track events question what we see on “Rollergirls.”

  3. Joe Corey Says:

    But cabler’s latest effort in the docusoap genre, frosh skein “Rollergirls,” got off to a rocky start last week with 1.6 million viewers tuning in (compared to the 2.7 million who watched the “Dog” lead-in). Second episode stumbled further Monday, drawing just 631,000.

    I haven’t been able to find info on the last three episodes as far as ratings go, but they must not be too good. With the marketing push that A&E gave the show, it can’t bode too well for trying to take the sport to the next level - finding a cable channel that would want to run actual games. There’s almost too much weight on the Dust Devil as proof if the sport can be elevated or will it remain something that gets a “guess what those kooky kids are doing now” coverage in the newspaper.

    Remember that it doesn’t take too much to scare a TV executive and a show that loses a million viewers from it’s lead in and then drops another million the following week isn’t going to have too many folks saying, “We need that, too.” This isn’t shaping up to be the next TV Poker.

    I feel bad since I spend most of my day cutting up the Carolina Rollergirls footage we shot. At one point I was thinking about trying to do a documentary about it, but the A&E show made anything I could do look like “we’ve already seen this” territory.

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