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Tibby’s Bowl Online Entertainment Magazine » Party Favors
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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 5/2006

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (May 1, 2006 at 12:44 am)

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CARAMABA, MEXICO - Last month I decided to grasp the dream. I snuck over the border into Mexico and am now earning the big bucks shoving worms into tequila bottles.

The best part of the job is that any worms that won’t fit in the bottle go into my lunchbox. And I get to huff all the fumes I want all day. Don’t call my house on Sunday morning.

Why do you insist on staying in America when you can live down here in Mexico and enjoy the cheap life? And the water is so tasty. The only draw back is they can’t make a good Chalupa.

I AM COLBERT NATION

God bless Steven Colbert for not pussing out when he addressed President Bush and the National Press. He tore into the state of the nation and defended the Truth to their faces. The major media outlets downplayed Colbert’s biting moment in favor of W. and his double doing a Leno sketch. Did we expect their balls to fall after they got a spanking from Mr. Truthiness? Did we expect W. to realize that we’re not buying his marketeers and truly act for the benefit of America?

What a Fantasyland concept. They’re there to serve their corporate owners and the people that paid to put those rubber chickens on the plate.

At least for a few minutes on a Saturday night, W and the elite press learned that we’re onto their asses and Colbert is our pitbull. They’re all on notice!

Colbert really needs to run for Senator from New York.

DIAMOND DAVE DRIZZLE

I feel bad that David Lee Roth has now become a radio legend as the man who crashed and burned in the wake of Howard Stern’s elevation to satellite radio. He deserves better. This man was once a hero to a nation of kids who wanted to live the debauchery that he professed.

Sure most of us would have looked stupid is assless pants, but who wouldn’t look better with a couple blond groupies wrapped around our bodies? How many boys decided that it’s OK to nail your instructor after hearing “Hot for Teacher?” Every week, I pick up the paper and find out about another 14 year old boy nailing his former-Hooters waitress English teacher. That’s the power of Van Halen.

Being a morning DJ should be beneath David Lee Roth. You know that during his Van Halen days, he had contempt for Morning Zoo flunkees. And there he was as the voice that tried to wake up New York City to get them ready for the shower.

What is wrong with our world? What drove him to take this job - besides a couple million dollars? If anything David is a TV kinda guy with is weird world bouncing across the screen. Why did he do it?

Would Diamond Dave become a greeter at Wal-Mart? Cause that’s what he was. Actually he was worse. Before he went on the air, I compared his new job to a hooker working the men’s rooms at the Vince Lombardi reststop on the Jersey Turnpike. Both of them were servicing commuters for four hours a day. Granted David was earning more than $20 a pop for oral action across the tri-state area. But both him and the hooker had sore jaws at the end of the day.

I don’t want my childhood demonic hero to punch the clock. If he’s awake at 4 a.m., it’s because he’s getting his second wind - and the next round of hotties are coming up the elevator to his Penthouse pleasure palace. I don’t want David Lee Roth waking up before me. I want a hero in my life. I don’t want to know that the Man could turn DLR into a monkey.

I didn’t mind finding out that he was working with the EMTs in NYC. He came from a medical family. But for him to hold down a real job that has a desk and chair, was sad. Here was a man who once roamed football stadiums while belting out “Unchained.” But David proved he could be shackled down by beancounters in suits.

I’m happy he got fired. Because it has freed him to become David Lee Roth or at least the fantasy we’ve nurtured in our mind the first time we saw him belt out “Runnin’ With the Devil.” I’ve always lived with the dream that someday a limo will pull into my driveway and Diamond Dave tells me to get inside. There’s an adventure around the corner. If he was still a morning DJ, he’d have to tell us that I’d be back by 10 p.m. cause he’s got an early bedtime. Now we’re staying out until our passports expire or our dates graduate high school.

Cheer up, Diamond David. You didn’t lose a job. You retained your luster.

TASTE OF BLISS

I’m a fan of E!’s “The Soup.” It makes up for the fact that “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” isn’t on Friday nights. Joel McHale and company do the job that David Spade thinks he’s doing. Is there a reason why David Spade’s name hasn’t been attached to the words “forcefully removed from his rectum?”

QUICK REVIEW

Wes Anderson’s American Express ad is funnier than “Life Aquatic.” Actually his jacket is funnier than “Life Aquatic.”

AL FRANKEN

During the Full Frame Documentary film festival, I ended up perched in the second balcony watching “Al Franken: God Spoke” directed by Chris Hegedus and Nick Doob. I’m not sure how close to “release” the film, but since no one warned me not to review it, I’m gonna do it.

First off, this project was shot on video and they used a video projector. So is it really a film or just big TV? Let’s just call it a video. I’m getting sick of these videos being called films when they’re basically TV specials. In the harsh reality, this was a TV special about Al Franken.

The show starts with Al’s book career gaining heat and his notorious moment with Bill O’Reilly on CSpan. In the midst of a book panel, the two get extra nasty on air. This sets up the big villain of the piece as O’Reilly. The Fox News personality makes an easy target with his self righteous “I’m looking out for the little man” attitude. It should be noted that O’Reilly was looking out for a female co-worker when he wanted to rub a falafel between her legs. Real family values guy, that O’Reilly.

Al’s journey seems rather ambling as he goes on a book tour and faces off with Ann Coulter. The nice part about seeing Ann projected 30 feet high is to see that massive Adam’s apple on her neck. She wouldn’t cut it as a drag queen. I wonder if she was one of those hermaphrodite kids and her parents had her male parts sliced off since they thought it would give ‘em a girl. And she’s too damn skinny. I’ve seen crack whores that have better figures. How can she talk about living the good life in America when she’s pretty much skin, bones and cigarettes?

Franken gets hired to be one of the personalities of Air America, a liberal radio network. As a viewer, you’d be better watching HBO’s “Left of the Dial” which gives a gritty and ugly picture of the early days including a lot of strange money problems. In “God Spoke,” these problems are skated over. But we do follow Franken as he covers the 2004 conventions and promises the defeat of President George W. Bush. It’s hard to feel “up” for this part of the show since we all know the inevitable outcome. The big thrust of this part is Al reaffirming his faith in the outlook of the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Days before the election of 2002, Wellstone had died in a plane crash while running for reelection in Minnesota. The GOP pundits attacked a memorial for Wellstone and lied about Sen. Trent Lott being booed off the stage - an event that never happened. But as we now know in America, the truth doesn’t matter. The first person to lie gets to shape the truth. And thus Republican Norm Coleman snagged Wellstone’s seat. Coleman becomes the third enemy of Franken in the film. The two don’t even get close to each other. Franken sneers when they are within eyesight of each other.

This last part of the show deals with Franken deciding that he might go back to Minnesota and run against Coleman. And then the movie ends. It just ends without much of an ending since nothing is completely declared. The movie is incomplete. Sure it’s easy to see this as cinema verite that needs no real plot. We’re getting a portrait of Franken. But they follow him for almost three years through a variety of pursuits. It needs to end on a harder statement than “I’m thinking of running for the senate.” Maybe this TV show won’t be done until 2008 when Franken gets into the arena.

If anything this documentary on Franken will serve as a primer for Minnesota democrats wondering who the hell this guy is. Is he Minnesota Nice? They will see that he’s a man who has had some really bad haircuts over the past few decades. But the incomplete nature of the “Spoke” will find it hard to find a real audience outside of his readers and listeners. I can imagine showing this to my mom and having her ask, “It’s over?” when the DVD turns off. This is all dough and no cookie.

The show has fun moments like when Al finally meets Henry Kissenger. Of course he must do Henry to Henry. And there’s a great exchange with Sean Hannity. All of Franken’s interactions with right wing pundits prove my basic point - the truth doesn’t matter if you can lie good enough before the other guy tells the truth.

There’s a blown moment in the film when Al has dinner with former Vice President Mondale. The old politico tells Al that running for public office will get nasty and they’ll tear into his past. I really wanted Al to just say, “I was on SNL in the 70s. What can’t they link to me?” His opponents can say is that he did loads of cocaine off Buck Henry’s glasses while doing perverted things to Drew Barrymore. And America would say, “We figured that out for ourselves.” As long as Al isn’t caught with Winona Ryder and a falafel, he has little to worry about. He should be more embarrassed by his old haircuts than his activities.

SELL ME A USED ONE

I’ve become hooked on “King of Cars.” This is another reality show on A&E about Towbin Dodge in Las Vegas. I like the fact that the show mainly focuses on a Saturday at the lot instead of giving us way too much personal looks into the sales staff. It’s good to see how car dealers work since sooner or later we all have to deal with these slick haired weasels.

I wish A&E would actually run Chopper’s weekly infommerical. We need to get the complete experience.

WHERE’S YOUR OAR, MARTY?

I just saw the package for the HD-DVD of “Goodfellas” and the movie is listed as being 1.78:1. Oddly enough there’s no warning that this film is not being presented in it’s original theatrical aspect ratio. When we ran the movie back at the theater. there was no 1.78 plate in the projector. We had a 1.85:1 plate and lens - because that’s what this movie was supposed to be run at.

And yet wasn’t it Martin Scorsese bitching about how movies should be letterboxed to their proper ratios? That we should see these movies exactly as the filmmakers had framed them? That we shouldn’t watch films that have been modified to fit a TV screen?

Seems that was merely a bunch of BS from the man who was supposed to be a priest. I had faith that Marty would defend the black bars to the bitter end. But was I wrong. Some of us are willing to put our ass on the line while the generals (or the directors in this case) drink their fancy wines and chuckle at the daily numbers.

No matter what Marty wants to say at this point is worthless. He has allowed his film to be formated to fit a TV. Granted it’s the Widescreen TV, but that isn’t the same as a Widescreen Theatrical screen (unless you have a crummy movie theater - which isn’t that rare). Let’s face the simple fact - Marty has allowed himself to become an industry bitch.

You wanna know why “Goodfellas” didn’t win the Oscar? Cause we knew Marty would sell us out to the man. Sometimes you dish out the payback before the check is cut. Hope you enjoy your Lifetime Bride’s Maid Oscar, Marty.

I LOVE MERTZ

The sixth and final season of “I Love Lucy” has come out on DVD. This was the diamond of sit-coms. And luckily Paramount has made sure the DVDs sparkle. Each season has plenty of odd extras including the original animated openings, outtakes and Lucy’s radio show “My Favorite Husband.” For members of the cult of Lucy, the treatment of their favorite redhead on DVD was stellar.

However Paramount really screwed up when they first introduced the show to the shiny discs. Back in the summer of 2002, they decided that instead of offering season sets, they’d put them out as single DVDs.

They were only offering 4 episodes per individual DVD for $15 SRP. So in order to get all of the first season, you had to buy 9 DVDs and pay $135. Ouch. Of course this was from the company that was charging $20 for 2 original Star Trek episodes on DVD. Luckily fans of Lucy weren’t going to take it and Paramount changed their approach and went with seasons set at a lower price. This sixth season is being sold by Amazon for under $27.

Now you might be wonder what I’m doing watching “I Love Lucy.” Well the answer is simple the power of Fred Mertz compels me. William Frawley makes that show go down so fine. The man was just a genius of comic timing and gruff exterior. So what if the show was about Lucy and Desi. In truth, it was all about Fred having to put up with two high profile and high maintenance tenants.

And if you’re a fan of Fred, you’ll probably want to know that Sgt. Bilko boxset comes out this month. This is the Phil Silvers’ TV series and not that crappy Steve Martin movie. Part of Phil’s military unit is Sam the Butcher from “the Brady Bunch” and Eric Von Zipper from the “Beach Party” movies. We’ll talk more about this collection next week. Now it’s time to watch more Fred.

WILL BE REAL FOR FOOD

Did you know that there are now more washed up reality “stars” than unemployed prime time actors?

I’m not talking actors who had bit parts or appear as background extras. I’m talking about actors who had their names in the opening credits on prime time shows. In less than a decade, the Reality boom has made 1,000s of “normal” people stars for a few weeks. Just think how many kids appeared on “Real World” and “Road Rules” on MTV. That’s several hundred kids who are now doing what?

A few of these reality “stars” have been able to sustain their career by hitting the circuit - doing Surreal Life and other lame “superstars of reality” shows. I guess if you can look real playing Poker, there’s money there. There’s always cash in porn. That might be the next stop for many of these people - a hardcore Big Brother House. When you have no greater talent than being “real,” it shouldn’t be too hard to have sex to sustain a barely there career. It hasn’t hurt Paris Hilton.

SNAKES UNDER THE STARS

Did Brett Meisner really do a rewrite of “Snakes on a Plane?” I’ve yet to get confirmation that he’s scribbled anything about Samuel L Jackson cussing about reptiles. But I have to wonder.

This is the only film I’m going to see in the theater this summer. Actually that’s a lie. My plans are to see “Snakes on a Plane” at the Starlite Drive in Durham, NC. This is a movie that must be experienced beneath the stars and through a scratchy little speaker hanging off my El Camino’s rearview mirror.

There’s no guarentee that the film will play at the Starlite. But I’m already writing my Congressman demanding he insure it happens. We’re talking culture here. Joe Bob Briggs would probably agree that Snakes in a Drive In is the way to go.

And speaking of Joe Bob Briggs, if you only buy two books about movie this year, let them be “Profoundly Erotic: Sexy Movies that Changed History” and “Profoundly Disturbing: The Shocking Movies that Changed History.” These are perfect gifts for a friend who loves movies and long bathroom breaks. His behind the scenes details on “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS” are things you won’t read in film school. Plus there’s lots of pictures.

Joe Bob knows how to get you excited about seeing a film - especially compared to certain critics who use their intellectual discourse to suck the joy out of a movie. I hope Joe Bob gets to see “Snakes on a Plane” at a drive-in and not a google-plex.



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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 4/2006

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (April 1, 2006 at 11:39 pm)

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NEWARK - We’re running out of stars!

That was the hideous message left on my machine from Augie. He was having a panic attack after reading in a supermarket tabloid that Brody Jenner was a star.

Who? Did you just google his name? Cause if you did, you’d see that this guy’s “star” status is based on his appearing on the crappy Fox series “Princes of Malibu.” This was a show so bad that their mother filed for divorce after the first show hit the airwaves. This is a show so bad that Fox yanked it after two episodes and ran it on something called “Fox Reality.” Does this channel exist? My DVD player probably has higher viewership. And isn’t Fox and Reality an oxymoron when put together?

How exactly is someone called a star with that track record? A “Stigma is Born” should be the proper title. Brody and his twin brother Brandon are the sons of Bruce Jenner - the Gold medal decathlon plastic surgery disaster and Linda Thompson, best known as Elvis’ girlfriend. The brothers lived with their stepdad David Foster, a man who makes music only a proctologist can love. The point of the show was Foster wanted them to earn something besides coasting on their looks and genes. And America told the brothers to hit the cheese line.

And yet, in the media and on the wire, Brody Jenner was called a “star.” He was called a “Reality TV star” in reference to a girlfriend that supposedly hooked up with Nick Lachey. As much as I despise Paris Hilton, she was a reality TV star. Her Fox series pulled in good ratings. Brody Jenner’s show only pulled the plug.

When the media has to dip to Brody Jenner, it’s easy to see that we’re really in a blight of star power. Look at the magazines. It’s like the same dozen people rotated through the covers. Even the party scene is so star-light, but it wouldn’t admit it. Watch VH1 when they do the “hottest clubs” specials. Each person gushes that a club is so hot because the same dozen people party there. Is there anything special about Sean Combs, Justin Timberlake, Lindsay Lohan, Tyra Reid or Paris Hilton coming to your club? It’s the same comp crowd. I wanna know when I go to Vegas, where does Peter Boyle party into the night? Where am I going to find Robert Pine cracking a bottle of Jim Beam and sharing it with anyone who calls him Sgt. Getraer?

Enough Brody Jenner. Let me find a woman willing to dump Nick Lachey for Stephen Tobolowsky! Why isn’t Tobolowsky’s private life on the cover of Us Weekly? He’s probably as wicked as Richard Dawson.

By the way, the woman who was between Nick and Brody is Kristin Cavalleri. Once again, I ask who? And the answer is that she’s also a reality whore from “Laguna Beach.” Although since she’s on that show, she should be considered an actress.

GREEDY BASTARD ALERT

I was shocked when I clicked over to IFC to discover the channel was gone. Also missing was the Game Show Network. What the hell had happened to my once wonderful digital tier? It was bad enough when Trio collapsed, but this was too much.

Then I found out that Time Warner Cable has decided to stick it to me. For only an extra charge, I can get my channels back. Of course they were stuck in two different packages. The Digital Sports & Games collection includes Speed, Outdoor Channel, Fox College Sports (three time zones), Tennis Channel, Fuel, College Sports TV and the Game Show Network. Can we break out a Sesame Street. Which of channels doesn’t really belong? Why did Charles Nelson Riley get lumped in with extreme college sports? I don’t want the Tennis Channel. I want Match Game, TW Bitches. The other package features Flix (2 channels), Sundance (2 channels), Fox Movie Channel and IFC. At least those make sense.

While Time-Warner-UberAlles only wants $2.95 per package per month, I’m not in the mood to give it to them. How much of my money do they really want? Why don’t they quit nickel and diming me and just put a total on the table so I can spit in their face all at once.

And if you know the Time Warner Cable vice president that packaged this bull, spit in their face and tell ‘em, “Joe Corey says, ‘Taste the good life, bitches.’”

And do you know who gets hurt by this crap? The memory of Gene Rayburn. It’s a shame a guy like Time-Warner CEO Dick Parsons is a greedy bastard. I wonder how much he’d force his grandma to pay for cable.

LETTERS FROM HOLLYWOOD

After talking about Allan Havey’s latest role on Fox’s “Free Ride” in last month’s column, guess who emailed us?

“Thanks for the mention on your cool website.”
–Allan Havey

Please watch the show if you get a chance. It’s a shame that Fox has it going head to head with “The Sopranos,” “Cold Case,” “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and “Desperate Housewives.” You won’t forget the Dove!

BIG WUV

HBO’s “Big Love” is such a lie.

It’s not that I don’t think there a poligamous families across America - especially in the Utah/Arizona area. I’ve seen lots of news reports, documentaries and Springer episodes about how they live. But I’ve yet to see a group family that looks as good as Bill Paxton with his wives of Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny and Ginnfer Goodwin. Whenever they show Poly folks on TV, they always look like Springer people. Or they look like the elderly women from the “Andy Griffith Show.” And that’s not saying the husbands are prize winners themselves. They look more like Fred Mertz.

And what’s up with the bad fashions at these poly towns in the desert? They make Strawberry Shortcake look like a slut. If I’m going to have a couple of hot wives, they’re going dress like Ice T’s coming to town.

If there’s one thing that “Big Love” gets right, it’s the casting of Harry Dean Stanton as the creepy cult leader. Just give the frickin’ Best Supporting Emmy to Harry before he shows up and marries your daughter!

And how refreshing it is to see Harry getting to not only go head to head with Paxton, but Bruce Dern also tussles with the cult leader.

The only bad part of the show is there’s just way too much Bill Paxton ass. Is Bill having a competition with Kevin Bacon for rump romps? Bacon by the way must have spent every other scene flashing his rear in “Where the Truth Lies.” Why don’t these two come out with their own Buns of Steel workout?

Although I can handle Bill’s ass when it’s in the same shots as Chloe Sevigny. She’s perfect as Harry Dean’s semi-wayward daughter that’s now married to Bill. She nails the manipulative angles without twisting her mustache.

Has it really been over a decade since Chloe entered our cinematic lives? HBO’s been running “Trees Lounge,” one of her early flicks. She’s one of the most deceptive actresses of our times. She’s like Dean Martin with her effortless delivery and yet there’s nothing light about her results when the moment calls for impact.

L ISN’T FOR LIGHTEN UP

What happened to the promise from the producers that this season’s “L Word” was going to be more fun? The last 12 episodes were about as fun as watching open heart surgery on the Discover Channel. Where was the girl-girl love? Where was hot tubs and showers?

Instead we had to deal with divorces, steroids and death.

Can I just say that the hottest actress on TV is Sarah Shahi? But even as Carmen, the hot DJ gal, she wasn’t getting it on enough. I want the producers of the L Word to swear that the fourth season will focus on Sarah getting laid every episode. Show us the love.

FANGS OUT

I’m creeped out watching the trailer for “Benchwarmers.” Not merely because it looks like a stupid movie, but there’s Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) being mauled by the bad comic skills of David Spade, Rob Schneider and Jon Lovitz. They’re like a pack of vampires sucking the heat out of Heder and sustaining their own pathetic careers (something Madonna practices on a yearly basis - look what has happened to Britney Spears since the MTV kiss). It’s like the scene where Dracula’s brides sink their fangs into Keanu Reeves. Except these pathetic SNLers aren’t nearly hot or watchable.

I haven’t seen this much fresh meat lust on the screen since Tom Arnold tried to buttrape Ed Furlong in “Animal Factory.” The trio of SNL washups had best not drain Heder of anything that made him special.

I won’t be seeing this since it’ll probably be rerun to death on Comedy Central. I also refuse to give any money to a film featuring the NFL’s answer to Barry Bonds - Bill Romanowski. Why exactly is this roid freak being given a second career? Why didn’t they just cast O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake?

KILL INSECTS

Phil Morrison’s “Junebug” has to be the worst film about the South since “Dukes of Hazzard.”

I was hoping to like this film. I’ve met Phil, a former Tarheel who now makes his cash directing commericals in New York City. Phil did my old roomie’s video (the band was Motocaster). And Phil returned to make his movie about the South in Winston-Salem (after I fled the city of Camel cigarettes and Krispy Kreme donuts) instead of going to Canada (like someone I won’t name here).

It should have been an easy job to make me relate to the film since I’ve lived on the location. The movie was about a woman in Chicago who hurriedly marries a Southern guy that she met at her art gallery during an auction. After six months of marriage, they come down South to meet his family. She’s trying to represent a Winston-Salem area artist that’s based on the late Rev. Howard Finster (he did the covers for R.E.M.’s “Reckoning” and The Talking Heads’ “Little Creatures”). Before we talk about the movie, let’s address the Finster situation.

In the movie Morrison made the “outsider” artist insane and a bigot. Thank goodness we were able to have a sweet white man dropping the N-word and deciding to not go with an art dealer because they’ve got Jews in the gallery. Wouldn’t be a Southern film without the insane cracker. In interviews, Morrison talked about having slept on Finster’s sofas. Is he saying that Finster hated Jews and didn’t mind dropping N-bombs around the house? Why didn’t Morrison have his artist character molest his daughter? Thanks for uplifting your kinda folks, Phil.

But the artist character isn’t the only waste of space on the screen. That troubled blond boy from the O.C. (Ben McKenzie) is supposed to be Southern by slapping a mustache on his puss and a trucker cap for the Panthers on his dome. Squidbillies are more authentic Southerners than him. And for those of you who are going to point out that Ben McKenzie is from Austin, Texas, let me let you in on a secret - Texas is not the South - it’s Texas.

Key emotional points are skipped all over the place. At first you can write it off as “the artist at work.” But in my real film experiences, it normally means that the scenes died on the screen so badly that it was easier to confuse the audience than insult them with crap.

All I kept hearing about this film was how “realistic it is.” There’s a scene where the father can’t find his phillips head screwdriver. I’ve lived the reality of that world when dad can’t find his screwdriver. And it isn’t this fantasyland “Junebug” creates. Dad doesn’t quietly look. In reality, dad doesn’t ask, “If I was a screwdriver, where would I be.” In reality, dad yells, “Why did you touch my tools? What did you do with my screwdriver!”

There’s a scene where the family goes to the church for a dinner. The minister talks to the couple and forces the husband to sing. But at no point does the minister ask how they got married and remind them that they need to get married in their church in order to be right with the Lord.

Early in the film, the pregnant Ashley (Amy Adams) announces to her mother-in-law that she had lost two pounds and the day before had only eaten a hotdog. And the mother-in-law just doesn’t care. I don’t know any real mother-in-law that wouldn’t have flipped out upon hearing such a declaration. Here is this movie about family being important yet the family doesn’t seem to care about the health of this woman and the baby inside her. And when the predicted ending hits (my wife guessed it right after the hotdog announcement), we’re supposed to believe this matters to the family? Morrison should be embarrassed for halfbacking cornbread moment. Adams is great as the talkative girl, but she’s got so little to play off. I had a sense that if this concept was retooled, it could be a follow up to Carson McCullers’ “Member of the Wedding.”

I didn’t like how he had the O.C. boy working at Replacements, Ltd. This is a place that buys and sells used China for out of production collections. There’s a story to all those plates, cups and saucers that O.C. boy packs up. How did they end up in that warehouse? A death? A divorce? A change of life? And why does someone need to replace their China? A divorce? Clumsy kids? Never got around to getting the gravy boat? There’s stories in those shelves. But the movie doesn’t care. He could have had the guy working the line at Krispy Kreme.

Sure the film name checks Cheerwine and Zingers. But there’s very little authentic reality in this alleged Southern film. This is a film that passes itself off as a small bit of beauty, but it’s mostly pretty vacant.

SQUAWK OF LOVE

If you’re an adult and you enjoyed “March of the Penguins” and “Winged Migration,” then you should rent “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.” Its a great documentary about a guy who was “caretaker” to parrots that flock around the San Francisco landmark. Think of it as a happy version of “Grizzly Man” except the unemployed animal expert in “Wild Parrots” doesn’t meet the same fate as Timothy Treadwell. It’s an “up” nature documentary although it deals with the harsh mortality of these birds that go from wild, to capture to wild again. Put it in your Netflix queue.



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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 3/2006

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (March 1, 2006 at 12:55 am)

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TURIN - Is it safe to stop calling this town “Torino?” Sure it’s sexier to add two “O”s. But it seemed to be the only thing sexy about this Winter Olympics - outside of the hole in the medals.

I’m just going say that if anything was lacking from these games, it was sexy moments. The ice skating turned into “last woman standing.” The same with the skiing. When are they going to dump the spiderman outfits for the alpine squad? And the ski boarding team with those white with barely there black pinstripes baggy uniforms made them disappear in the half pipe. Sure we had the “Flying Tomato,” but he was wrapped up in the giant burrito. The US hockey uniforms looked dull. Can we not design a jersey the intimidates? I want a logo on Erik Cole’s chest that a kid from Sweden fears having bruised into his ribcage. Enough with the friendly logo action. Why not just put a smiley face on the uniforms?

You want to know why the US didn’t “win?” Because we didn’t dress like winners. We didn’t even dress like tourists. We dressed like we were hungover.

My favorite moment was the Texan speedskater who went from national hero to pain in the ass loser in one event. A fellow speed skater didn’t want to race in a phony “team” skate event. And the golden boy whines since he won’t be able to collect five gold medals. So frickin’ what, Tex? The guy won three medals of all the colors. But he’s gotta be a little bitch. Ice skating should never be a team sport. He does need to send one of his medals to Bode Miller for taking the “most annoying athlete not named Terrell Owens” title. Did anyone really want to go visit “Bode.com?” Wonder how many people in New England are going to name their kids Bode this year or will they settle for Goat?

I’m happy this Winter Olympics was cancelled after two weeks. The only sad thing is that now they want us to watch “The World Baseball Classic.” Who cares about international pick up baseball that had teams picked by random weirdness. How exactly did Nomar and A-Rod get considered for countries they aren’t citizens of? Here’s my little rule for international play - whatever country collects the most income taxes from you is the country you should play for.

Will I watch this made for…I don’t know who this freakish tourney was made for. And why is it already a “Classic?” This is the first time it’s played. There’s no history. You should not be able to call something a classic until something else comes along to threaten your standing. There wasn’t Coca-Cola classic until that New Coke. And now that there’s no New Coke, we don’t call Classic Coke “classic” anymore. If Coca-Cola is willing to drop the “classic” title, why must every frickin’ sporting event latch onto it?

And after the failure to attract eyeballs for international pick-up hockey at the Olympics, does the world really want to watch teams of pros playing a tourney before they’ve even had a spring training warmup? Why not an International Kickball Classic Tourney featuring NFL kickers?

if you catch me watching any WBC games, it’s because I’ve been bribed by Bud Selig.

DON’T BOO THE HOME TEAM

Lately I’ve read too many reports of home crowds booing their superstars. And I say, don’t do that. Booing must be reserved for those pesky visitors.

I’m not giving you some namby-pamby advice to hug your homers. Nope. If your favorite player is stinking it up, you need to let him know that you don’t approve. I prefer to shout out, “Come on!” or “Please get it right!” These are encouraging words that also let the player know that you expect more from them by shouting, “I paid $60 to put my butt in this seat. Don’t half ass it, millionaire!”

There’s only one time when you should boo a home player, when you know he’s going to skip town and play for the Yankees. Boo him or throw batteries…make that throw car batteries. They deserve scorn so they’ll get used to it when they have to button up the pinstripes and insert the pole up their rectums.

DOVE SOARS

I hate to curse a series, but I hope that “Free Ride” lasts longer than a single DVD. The new Fox show is a great depiction of college graduate with no desire to get a career. Nate Stahlings (Josh Dean) returns to his folks house in order to recover from his education overdose. Friend of the Favors Allan Havey plays the boy’s dad and he’s nailed his character. He’s the dad who wants to remain hip and figure out why his wife is going nuts on him. I’m rooting for Havey. Cause if this show doesn’t stick around, he’ll end up in my biopic of Foster Brooks: “Drunk Before Dishonor.”

But the real star of the show is Dove. He’s that guy who thought you could get advanced placement credits from smoking cigarettes in the woods between 4th and 5th period. He’s got a kickass job at a faux-Costco so he can party in bulk. He has a monster truck so nothing blocks his view. And he’s got all the Journey records - well the ones that didn’t suck. Dave Sheridan plays Dove to the hilt. The best is the second episode when he dates Nate’s aunt.

You might remember Sheridan as the nutjob guy who practiced his mad kung fu skills at the mini-mart in “Ghost World.” The man has the potential of being one of the great comic actors of our time. Worship the Dove now!

Now watch Fox cancel this show by the time this column gets posted.

BLUE SUEDE BIO

Now that Johnny Cash, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis have all had their lives turned into Hollywood movies (or mini-series in the case of Elvis), when is the final member of the Million Dollar Quartet going to claim a slate? Where’s “The Carl Perkins Story?”

ROLLERGIRLS UPDATE

Things are looking really bad for “Rollergirls” as the series winds up. A&E has given them up for dead like a coyote on the side of the road. There’s no more Friday night rerun. It’s the Monday night original and a replay at 2 a.m. No weekend marathons. No major promo push for the finale.

Why no love for Punky Bruiser?

According the ratings: the premiere of the series had a new episode of Dog The Bounty Hunter. Everyone’s favorite “Escape From New York” character pulled in 2.7 million viewers. Only 1.6 million stuck around for the heavily promoted Rollergirls. And the second episode (without the benefit of a new Dog) only brought in 600,000 folks. That over 2 million people who turned off the wheeled gals from Austin. And I’m guessing the numbers haven’t gone back up since there’s no hype for the show.

Maybe a few of the girls will get invited to be on the Surreal Life. Although I do wish none of them end up on “Flavor of Love 2.” That show still creeps me out. I can almost understand being Jerry Hall’s boy toy - she’s got a nice laugh and sultry stare. But Flava? I’d rather guest star on “Taking A Second Whack at Love with Ike Turner.”

GIVE IT AWAY FOR FREE!

For all of you people who complain about how recent movie trailers give away the entire plot, I ask that you take a look at the “Story of Dogs” bonus feature on “Lady and the Tramp” DVD. Watch how Walt Disney’s guys give away the entire film in storyboard form on his network show. And Walt didn’t give us a “spoiler warning!” He just gave away the tale and yet people still came to see the film.

Perhaps Walt understood that if you have a really good movie, people can know the story and it won’t ruin it. It also doesn’t hurt that most of Walt’s feature animations were based on fairy tales so everyone already knew what they were about. But I think it comes down to one big fact - if a movie is really good, even if you know everything that’s going to happen - you still want to see it happen.

It’s not like a crummy M. Night Shyamalan movie. Did you really want to see “The Village” after you were told the “gotcha” moment? I didn’t want to sit through 2 hours to be “gotcha”ed. By the way, I really take offense when M. Night had the nerve to call DVDs a “souvenir” of a movie. If anything, a DVD is more than the movie. When done right, it allows us a chance to see a film in context of both it’s time and content. A great “making of” documentary gives us a sense of what made this film important. It also reminds us that certain elements were the basis for the hacks that ripped it off over the years. And unlike seeing a movie in a theater, I don’t have to tolerate a 100 urchins roaming the aisles. I don’t have to pay $6 for my popcorn. What about image size, you declare? When I get my video projector, i’ll be able to watch a 25 foot image on the side of my neighbor’s house.

A movie barely lasts a month or two in the theater. It’s shortest part of a movie’s “life” is on video. M. Night needs to understand that the theatrical release of a movie is the “advertisement” for the DVD.

And if I can advise you, pick up “Lady and the Tramp” just for the footage of Peggy Lee working out the songs. It’s funny to see what she had to do for a home multi-tracking.

MORGAN FREEMAN: THE EARLY YEARS

I bought “The Electric Company” DVD set for one reason - to hear Morgan Freeman sing the Easy Reader theme song. When I was a kid, Easy Reader was like Shaft - except we only saw the newspaper ads for RIchard Roundtree. And as I slowly watch the 20 episodes included in the collection, the show still holds up. It’s a great educational tool and nostalgic fun. Shout! Factory has done another great job.

My wife and her girlfriends loved watching the series to check out the groovy early 70s fashions.

And here’s a piece of freakish trivia: the first head writer of the show was legendary character actor Paul Dooley. Save that piece of “betcha don’t know” for a big moment.

DRIVING

The local cable guys had a free preview weekend of their in-car camera action for the Daytona 500. It was kinda fun to swap channels and glimpse Tony Stewart or Dale Jr’s view of the road. But it became annoying in that every few seconds the feed would break up. Half of the time nearly half of the cams weren’t working. It became too much of an effort to find a channel with a moving view.

What I enjoy about NASCAR is that it’s something nice to nap while watching on a Sunday afternoon. I find the roar of the engines as they lap the asphalt (much more soothing than viewing it in person) soothing. Having the in car cameras on my remote control didn’t make me fall asleep. My brain couldn’t drift. I kept flipping to try and find the car that would crash next.

If only the feeds didn’t keep breaking up, I’d recommend this for any hardcore race fan. But at $100 for the year, it’s not worth the aggravation.

THE BLAH WORLD

Why exactly does director Terrence Malick get treated like a cinematic wonder?

You think the guy’s name means gold with the way film critics faun over him. Yet there seems to be so little currency associated with his name. Norman Taurog holds as much value to the marketplace than Malick,

Malick created a wonderful mythology of himself with his early films of “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven.” He plays himself off as the intellectual hermit who shuns the spotlight and normal Hollywood channels. He doesn’t make movies - he creates cinematic poetry. If Stanley Kubrick didn’t care about scripts, he’d be Malick.

But ultimately Malick creates films for people who don’t pay to see them. He creates films that don’t attract the subject’s audience. He goes out of his way to use his quirks to drive producers nuts. He creates films that he doesn’t have to answer for. And he is forgiven for his transgressions more easily than his peers. He shot “Days of Heaven” for nearly as long as “Heaven’s Gate.” But Michael Cimino gets nailed to the wall for making a box office dud in “Gate.” Even though “Days” didn’t cost nearly as much to shoot the entire film at magic hour, it was still a box office stiff barely pulling in $3.5 million. Which is about what “Gate” made.

Malick helped create his mystique by disappearing for two decades before he decided to comeback by remaking “Thin Red Line.” The original film directed by Andrew Marton was a neglected masterpiece with Keir Dullea and Jack Warden battling each other and the Japanese in Guadalcanal. Malick loaded up his version with tons of Hollywood talent including Sean Penn, George Clooney, Woody Harelson, Nick Nolte and John Travolta. He went down to Australia to shoot the film with what read like a great script. But once he conned his producers into funding his “vision,” he threw out the script and had his actors improvising. While the film had it’s moments, it’s a war movie without gusto or true reflections. It’s a war movie about a bunch of guys trying to write poetry and merely confuse the Japanese into giving up with metaphysics.

I rarely saw any critics compare Malick’s version with Marton’s treatment of the James Jones novel. And it helped that the original film never came out on VHS or DVD in the U.S. I had a copy from a dead man’s collection of stuff he taped off AMC (before the channel sucked). I remember trying to discuss the original with three major film critics who gave Top 10 honors to the remake. None of them had seen it. None of them had experienced the amazing feat of a dream sequence that mingles a flashback of America to revisiting the Private’s first kill and wraps it up in a harsh awakening.

While the critics praised Malick, the movie scored a box office anemic $36 million - especially compared to the $216 million racked up by Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan.” There was an audience for World War II movies that year and Mallick didn’t connect with them. And when a few producers wanted to expose what it’s really like to work with the celluloid poet, Malick took their names off the film.

Malick then used his name to executive produce new filmmakers’ works. But he didn’t quite score Spielberg returns. “The Beautiful Country” didn’t make half a million dollars. For his first two films, David Gordon Green made films that followed Malick’s poetry over plot productions. When they teamed up to make “Undertow,” Green scored a box office of $124,171. It’s got to suck when you work with your idol and produce a film that doesn’t even score half of what your first indie film did. Sure there are folks that blame the situation at United Artists for the tanking, but if people really cared, they’d buy tickets. We’re living in the days of the internet so they can know where a film is playing without needing a full page ad in the New York Times.

What got me to write this piece is how annoyed I’ve become at Malick’s behavior with the release of “The New World.” This telling of the John Smith and Pochontas story was supposed to be one of the big films of Christmas. But then New Line got smacked around trying to please Malick to the point that they got scalped. After a limited opening in New York that scored high per screen numbers, Malick decided he wanted to cut 15 minutes out of the film so the wide release would be only two hours. Malick supposedly thought his ass fell asleep while watching Colin Farrell. And then before he puts it out, he also lets his minions squeak out the fact that the DVD will have a three hour cut of the film. Right there and then I boycotted the film. What version of this movie am I supposed to see? Am I supposed to waste 7 hours and 15 minutes of my life watching all three versions? Maybe he’ll come up with a forth version? Who dares tell the poet that he’s needs to shut up and realize that silence around him isn’t awe - it’s boredom.

It must be amazing to wake up as one of the ball-less wonders at New Line having allowed Malick to make his special cut only to witness their New York wonder turn into a film that couldn’t outgross Big Mama’s House II. “The New World” has made $12 million. It didn’t win any major hardware. And now it’s time to make the money in the next stage: home video.

The DVD of either the 2 or 2:15 hour version is due out soon, but then we’re told there’s going to be a second DVD coming out in a few more months with an extra hour and tons of bonus features. The devoted Malick fans won’t care because New Line will be sending them free copies to review. Nothing makes consumers happier than knowing that if they buy early, they’re paying for less.

What’s the point of Malick’s name going above the title? You can rationalize that he makes art films that aren’t meant for the masses, but the nearly $50 million that was spent to make and pimp “The New World” could go a long way in the art world. Tyler Perry’s name goes before the title on “Madea’s Family Reunion” and it matters since it made $30 million its opening weekend. Tyler equals box office gold. Malick’s name means another batch of producers were taken for a bath under the promise that somehow he’s going to make ‘em either rich or Oscar worthy.

In the end, Malick gets to make another one of his freaky voice over flicks that irritate my mom when they appear on TV yet allows movie critics who don’t want to be entertained to feel like they’ve experienced cinema. Of course these critics are also people who don’t have to pay $10 to see these films. I recommend Malick take a job as a Wal-Mart greeter for a month so he can learn how to engage an audience.

THE LAST BULLET

I feel sad that Don Knotts has died. One of the big regrets of my work on Split Screen was that I wasn’t able to make my dream project. It was going to be Don Knotts, Steve Buscemi and John Waters sitting on the front porch of a large house. They’d be cranking ice cream and talking showbiz. The budget was too much. It would have been fun.

DATE MY MTV

I can’t watch MTV anymore. Every time I have turned on the channel it’s been a freakish dating show. Can this new generation date without a TV camera? They want people to date mothers, to date a busload of suitors, to date who their parents pick or to date people who look like lame musical stars. What does the M stand for at MTV? Cause it has no reason to be hanging around that station.

SEX PISTOLS BLANK HALL

Gotta love the Sex Pistols telling the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame to screw off. It’s sad that the Hall spokesperson tried to act like it was an act. Get a clue, Johnny Rotten thinks your Hall of Fame is a lame joke. And what a joke since they refuse to give a nomination to Van Halen or Kiss. I’m not even a major fan of either band, but they are Rock music in America. Where’s Rush? Where’s Yes? Where is Kansas? Yoko Ono will get in the hall before Patti Smith.

The Rock Hall of Fame is a joke. And thanks to the Sex Pistols for pointing at those snobs and laughing. The whole point of being a punk is to not give a crap about pleasing the popular kids.

PENGUIN POWER

Forget “March of the Penguins,” this month brings the DVD release of Tennessee Tuxedo. The late Don Adams voiced the animated penguin who seemed to know just a little bit more. Get it for your kids.

TROPICAL CINEMA

“Reel Paradise,” a fantastic documentary about John Pierson dragging his family to Fiji to run a movie theater is out on DVD. Please buy it so John can drag his family to run a Drive-In theater in Antarctica.

FOX DOUBLE TAKE

Neil Cavuto read two of my letters on the air in one episode including one about Gene Simmons’ tongue. I’m a pundit!



Comments: 1 Comment

Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 2/2006

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

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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.

REALITY PRESIDENT

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.

OSCAR BLIGHT

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.

SECOND BANA

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?

QUIRKY IS BAD

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.

LOOK WHO’S WORKING!

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?

THINK PINK

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.

PAY MORE FOR LESS!

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.”

TWO QUICK NOTES

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.

OSCAR SCANDAL?

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.

http://www.hd.net/pressrelease.html?2006-01-31-01.html

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.



Comments: 3 Comments

Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 1/2006

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (January 1, 2006 at 1:28 am)

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MANHATTAN - The World’s Oldest Teenager is now the World’s Freshest Corpse.

What was the purpose of dragging Dick Clark out to countdown 2006? Did he really wish America a “Happy nude dear!” Not that there’s anything wrong with wanting people to strip down for the coming year. That’s how we always like to celebrate major holidays at the Corey Estate. Sure there’s the powerful business of a man coming back from a stroke. But Teddy Bruschi already has filled that role. All Dick did was cling onto his former glory while sharing the screen with Ryan Seacrest. If there ever was a moment that begged for an on-camera murder -suicide this was it.

While I didn’t watch Dick Clark the entire night because I was partying hard, I caught enough glimpses of him sitting on the sofa in front of a window to ask that horrifying question - Is he replacing the Crypt Keeper like he did Ed McMahon?

And what’s so “rock’n” about a show that features Mariah Carey and the Pussycat Dolls. The Rock police need to yank that title off the show. But I guess “Dick Clark’s Pop’n New Year” sounds like a sex offense.

Well at least we know that this will be the year that we’ll be comfortable naked. Hopefully Jessica Alba listen to Dick.

ART OF 2005

I won’t give you a Top Ten list of great entertainment moments because there was only one true piece of entertainment that will mark the year for decades to come: R Kelly’s “Trapped in the Closet.”

Has there ever been a stranger more pathetic performance piece that has sold millions? It only build in its freakiness while transforming from a song cycle, video series and finally a live performance on MTV’s Music Awards. And at each step, it just got weirder. Not since Styx’s “Kilroy Was Here” has a musical “genius” gone completely nuts. But unlike the painful nature of seeing Tommy Shaw act between songs, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the trainwreck that is R. Kelly.

And it wasn’t just one song, but 12 different chapters of this story. And the videos reminded me of a dinner theater troupe. Of course I can’t fault the casting since it gave work to Michael K. Williams who played the scary Omar Little on HBO’s “The Wire.” He plays the cop who is banging R. Kelly’s wife and then goes home to get a cheating surprise from his trailer park bride. If you haven’t seen “The Wire,” rent it so you can see that he’s not merely a comic cop. And probably after watching him wandering Baltimore ripping off drug dens, you’ll wonder why he didn’t shotgun R. Kelly and have him trapped in a casket.

When he stood on the stage at the MTV Awards and attempted to lipsynch the project as if he was one man performance for a head trauma center, it was gold.

Musically it has the most listless backing track. Then R. Kelly reads a short story that would have been given a C- in a freshmen creative writing class. It wouldn’t pass as a Penthouse Forum letter. Everybody seems to be secretly screwing each other and hiding in the closets and waving guns. You figure a guy with felony charges potentially pending against him would lay off the gunplay. But no. Of course you’d also expect him to avoid all scat references. But then he tops off the entire project by having a dwarf crap in his pants. Where does such creativity come from? The only thing missing from this film is a guy in a gorilla suit speeding around in an MG Midget.

Forty years from now when people want to remember 2005, they’ll repeat the lines from “Trapped in the Closet.” Not because it is a work of art, but there’s not much else worth remembering.

FORGOT SOMETHING

My favorite DVD of the year is “Grizzly Man.” Werner Herzog has returned with this tale of a eco-nutjob who thought grizzly bears liked him only to get eaten by a grizzly. The bear also ate the guy’s girlfriend. If you have small children who think that bears are nice critters like the ones in the Coke ads, get this this film. Let them learn the truth about bears.

MR FOOTBALL

Don Cheadle is the greatest spokesperson the NFL could have hired. The man has the intensity of a fan without looking like a freak. I wanna watch a game with Don. I’ll even bring a bag of Cheetos.

WEDDING MADNESS

There are few reality shows more nerve wracking to work on than The Style Network’s “Whose Wedding Is It Anyway.” The only one that tops it for me is “Chainsaw Juggling Made Easy.”

What makes “Wedding” a tough gig is that you are filming an actual wedding. We’re spies and not the producers of the wedding like those Fox shows. There are no second takes during the ceremony. The camera zipped around the room chasing after the wedding planner and other folks. But we’re supposed to be invisible. This means I had to constantly find new places to hide so the shots weren’t ruined by having the Creepy PA too close to the action. And when I did hide, I couldn’t bump into a guest during the reception and ruin their experience. If I ruined the wedding I’d end up on Judge Judy being forced to pay for the cake I tipped over. The pressure during the wedding day to get the shot and at the same time keep out of the couple’s wedding pictures is crippling.

Thank goodness the couple we worked with had an open bar that lasted past our wrap time.

On a show like this there’s conflicting desires between the production crew and the wedding party. We want to see major disasters explode in the Wedding Planner’s face. Our planner had everything under control. There’s no TV in a smooth production. We need conflict and comedy. Midway through our production I joked with the director that I should attempt to plan a wedding so they could have a 2 hour Disasterpiece. “The Bride Wore Tears” would be the name of my wedding planning business. And my catch phrase: “Can’t this work for you, too?” If you want me to plan you wedding, email me at corey3rd@hotmail.com. I can only promise you that I’ll have a minister and paperwork. Everything after that is up for grabs.

For those of you wondering what episode I lurked around, it’s Ivy Robinson’s Chapel Hill wedding with the Marine honor guard. And if you’re a fan of the show, Ivy’s hair does look impressive in person.

DESTROYER OF DREAMS

Thank goodness I wasn’t nine years old last month. I don’t know if I could have handled Johnny Damon signing to the Yankees after all he meant to the Boston RedSox. It’s hard to not see him as a traitor to the cause. How can a man who hated the Yankees put on the NY black cap? As Cindy Lauper sang, “Money changes everything.”

While it will be painful to hear Damon’s name called, at least the man who walks into center field in the Bronx will be clean shaven with short hair. I won’t have to root against Captain Caveman. They might as well just announce “now batting, John Damon.” He’s just another millionaire in Manhattan going to work in pinstripes to me.

I don’t think he’ll have a fun time in the House that Ruth Built. His weak throwing arm will come back to haunt him in that cavern outfield. And I recall seeing a stat that Damon’s worst offensive numbers came from visits to Yankee Stadium. I predict George will be grousing about Damon in August. And John will wish he was beloved Johnny instead of just another prick like A-Rod, Sheff and the Big Unit.

At least we now know what Johnny Damon would do: he’d go for the money.

HO HO WHORES

Who asked for follow up films to “Big Mama’s House” and “Cheaper By the Dozen?” I have a sock full of dog poop that needs to be bashed over your head.

Does anyone in Hollywood know what’s funny anymore? All the comedies that were out around Christmas were devoid of humor. I fear how stinky the comedy slate in February will be. And the sad part is that you have people who used to be funny starring in these films. What exactly was supposed to the “Fun with Dick and Jane?” It had all the focus of a Horatio Sanz performance. What’s funny about a couple robbing coffeeshops - especially after they stole $10 out of your wallet and held you hostage for 2 hours. You are victims of Dick and Jane’s crime spree if you paid for a ticket.

All the movies that Judd Apatow touches are about as funny as a Tom DeLay benefit. “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Anchorman” could have had the same number of laughs as 10 minute short films. It’s just a shame he wasn’t involved in “Dukes of Hazzard” so I can blame him for that stinker - although Broken Lizard might be Judd’s farm team. I enjoyed “Super Troopers” (on cable), but “Dukes” and “Club Dread” show they can be as unfunny as any washed up Saturday Night Live regulars.

Remember when Steve Martin was funny? And to have Steve going against Eugene Levy should be like Bird vs. Magic. Instead it’s got all the comic chops of Steven Seagal vs. a ham sandwich. I take that back. Seagal and. a ham sandwich are the same things.

Well at least someone took pity on us and decided to put “American Pie: Band Camp” straight to video. And what’s the point of seeing any comedy in the theater since you know that the DVD will be unrated and have bare breasts? You’re basically buying a ticket to see the “safe” version of the film. If you wait 4 months, you can at least see

Maybe in 2006 there will be something in the cineplex worth a laugh besides when the kid in the vest calls the golden goo “butter.”

CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURE

If you grew up in Boston during the late 70s, your mind was probably scarred by WLVI’s “Creature Double Feature.” On Saturday afternoon, they’d run back-to-back monster flicks. I was only able to absorb this during our trips up to the Bay State, but I remember the excitement of watching it at my cousin’s house. I still remember coming back from an early morning of sledding and getting to watch “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” as our toes defrosted.

Over half of the 202 films have come out as either public domain releases, Sony’s Godzilla collections, Universal’s Classic Monsters sets or MGM’s Midnite Movie Double Features. And now Lion’s Gates has jumped into the fun offering us American International Pictures titles that are controlled by Sam Arkoff’s estate.

The first two double feature DVDs are “Earth Vs. the Spider’ with “War of the Colossal Beast” and “How to Make a Monster” with “Blood of Dracula.” All four are low budget scary gems and priced to move since you can get them for $9.28 from deepdiscountdvd.com.

The first DVD features special effects magician Bert I. Gordon. He’s the low budget Ray Harryhausen. It’s a shame that Bert doesn’t get the same coolness as Ray. I discovered the magic of Bert when they made fun of him on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (along with Sandy Frank). But unlike Ray who overshadowed his directors, Bert directed his films. “Earth Vs. The Spider” (1958) is another case of Arkoff pumping up the title. The Earth doesn’t really fight the huge spider. He only has to face a small town police force that worships Don Knotts. Bert does some cool effects having a real tarantula torturing a small town. It’s fun to watch his films frame by frame to figure out how he made the effect work with such a low budget. There’s a funny moment in the film when one of the heros is seen working at a movie theater showing “The Amazing Colossal Man.” This was Bert’s movie about a man who exposes himself to an atomic bomb and ends up growing out of control. The sad part is that this title is controlled by the Jim Nicholson estate. He was the other head of AIP. Right now the head of the estate is Susan Hart. You might remember her as the original fembot from “Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine.” She hasn’t made a deal with Lionsgate so this Bert classic is locked in the vault. Luckily Arkoff has the sequel “War of the Colossal Beast” (1958). Even though we thought Col. Glenn Manning had died when he fell into the Hoover Dam after demolishing Las Vegas, he’s popped back up on the radar. But the radiation has taken its toll and half his face is skull. He’s not quite the man or Colossal Man, he used to be. There’s a recap of the first movie, but it crops up halfway through the film. A big bonus is that the finale is in color - it adds to the jolt. It does feel odd to only see the second half of the landmark CDF double feature. Susan Hart needs to strike a deal for the other half of the greatest indie studio’s vault. A weird piece of trivia is that Arkoff went with “Colossal Beast” so people wouldn’t think it was a sequel.

There is a bittersweet edge to the second disc. Both “How to Make a Monster” (1958) and “Blood of Dracula” (1957) were directed by Herbert L. Strock. He was born in Boston in 1918 (remember when that year haunted Bostonians?), but unfortunately he passed away last November. Hopefully he knew that two of his titles would be coming out on DVD so folks could enjoy his AIP entertainment. I wonder if he ever saw these films on the CDF? “How to Make a Monster” is about a make-up man ticked off that American International is getting out of the monster biz and he’s getting fired after years of work. So he gets his revenge by making real killer monsters out of the actors doing “Teenage Frankenstein vs. Teenage Wolfman.” They go off to take revenge on the studio suits behind the no horror policy. And it’s another black and white film that ends in color. It’s fun to see the monster heads to a lot of the early AIP scary flicks. “Blood of Dracula” has a vampire loose at a private girl’s school. Strock’s films look like a twisted Ozzie and Harriet world. Clean living with devious folks smiling from the breakfast nook.

The films look crisp and clean. They look better from my childhood memories since that inolved my cousin Bill adjusting the superloop to keep us scared on those Saturday afternoons. There’s no bonus features. Not even a trailer. But it’s four more CDF titles that you can now have at home. Seeing how Sony hasn’t announced what they’re doing with the Midnite Movie Double Features line, it’s good to see Lionsgate keeping us happy. In fact they are supposed to have more titles out in April with “The Day the World Ended” & “The She-Creature” and “The Saga of the Viking Women” & “Teenage Caveman” slated.

While watching these films, I can still hear Bill’s mom yelling for us to go outside and do something productive.

DEAD AIR

I miss Trio TV. I know it’s supposed to be kept alive as a broadband site. But it’s just not the same. Damn those idiots at NBC-Universal that killed this channel. It was sad seeing them burn off their programming in the past year. It was like watching cosmonauts die in orbit.

I miss their reruns of classic Letterman, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and the Parking Lot series. And they gave us “Good Clean Porn.” Why did Trio die and Spike survive?

Everyone talks about the 500 channel universe, but realistically it will never get that out of control. Sure you have the brand spins like 19 different channels name Discovery _____. Although from what I’ve been seeing with this Slingbox technology, the Channel U concept is getting closer. Forget about 500 channels from a sat dish. Soon there will be millions of channels with people running their own TV channels that their family and close friends will be able to “tune” into via the internet. I know there’s a bunch of people aching for my James Bond marathon that’s commercial free. I do hope the networks are ready for the consumer being the distributor.

I’ve decided that Ovation is my new fall back channel since the death of Trio. And will Boomerang please quit running Baby Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry Kids. Those cartoons have no reason to exist.

PRESLEY PRICE DROP

So after I whined about why Paramount won’t come up with a decent boxset package for their Elvis titles, they did the next best thing. You can now get 5 of their 9 Elvis films for $5.99 at deepdiscountdvd.com. This includes “Blue Hawaii” and “Girls! Girls! Girls!” So now I can torture guests with letterboxed Elvis with those majestic sunsets behind him.

OPIE AND ANTHONY

I’m not a fan of Opie and Anthony on XM radio. But I heard their gag when they fooled a woman in line for the “Tony Danza Show” into thinking she was on the cellphone with Tony Danza. “I know who’s a big Tony Danza fan” is now a catch phrase around the house. You can hear the funny at http://www.foundrymusic.com/opieanthony/displaymedia.cfm/id/9075/

FEAR THIS

They’re making a new Broadway bound musical of Dr. Dolittle with Tommy Tune in the lead. I can hear this dog talking.



Comments: None

Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 12/2005

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (December 1, 2005 at 10:28 pm)

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MEMPHIS - If you don’t like Elvis and ribs, don’t ever come here.

For my birthday I finally made the pilgrimage to Graceland. And it truly was a religious experience. Mojo Nixon was right when he talked about the healing power of Elvis. This is the American Holy Land. My feet felt the glow of walking on sacred ground or blessed asphalt as I passed through the gates and arrived at a place that has been a mythical residence since I was a child. Graceland was a Mt. Olympus with shag carpeting on the walls.

Instead of my normal vacation standards of staying at a dumpy motel near the railroad tracks, we went first class and booked a room at Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel which is really at the end of Lonely Street. My married life has changed my overnight accommodation standards. I wasn’t quite sure where the action was in Memphis so it was a safe pick to stay at the Estate’s official hotel. Plus they threw in discount tour tickets. Plus they had a free airport shuttle. Anything that saves me car rental fees is a plus.

We flew Airtran from Raleigh to Memphis. Airtran’s kinda like Southwest Air without the sassy fun. They assign seats so we didn’t have to spend our hours in various airports waiting in the cattle chutes. Airtran can pretty much get you anywhere in the country as long as you don’t mind going through Atlanta. Which for once worked out for me since it was on the way to that city on the Mississippi.

The flight attendants kept pushing a $35 business class upgrade on the flight. But the promise of a few extra inches and free booze wasn’t alluring enough. It’s sad that plane travel has gotten more no frills over the last few years. Whatever happened to getting the full soda can from the refreshment cart? But even the formerly posh airlines have come to resemble the no frills. And with my portable DVD player with a 7 inch flat monitor, I don’t even miss the in-flight movie. Plus I can continue watching the movie while stuck in the airport waiting for my connection. No more Jackie Collins novels for this traveler.

SCAN THIS

Did I forget to bitch about airport security? They only had one X-ray machine working as the crowd packed up. And they had the whole “take off your shoes” business. Every time I have to take off my shoes, I should be permitted to slap them against that idiot shoe bomber guy. Who said public stoning is a bad thing? It also drove me nuts that I had to unpack all my stuff to get the electronic equipment out for inspection.

Also contrary to the rules, I discovered twice that you can slip a $20 bill to these federal officials and be escorted to the front of the line. Are these TSA guys security or skycaps? You can’t give FBI agents $20 to get a better look at a body. You can’t slide $20 to Park Ranger to get Old Faithful to puke an extra time. And you’d be laughed at giving $20 to a Congressmen. And now these bums no longer have to stop people from bringing scissors and tools onto planes so they can focus on bombs. We’re these guys brought into power because certain foreign nationals brought small blades onto airplanes? I don’t recall any bombs going off in airplanes on Sept. 11. Do I feel safer knowing these goofballs are bribable and don’t have to look as carefully for scissors?

Seeing how it’s been over four years since these new security sections have been made, why do they still use card tables and have the permanent feel of a Christmas tree lot? Well at least the Airtran people were nice to us. Even though they didn’t give me the soda can.

Memphis’ airport is a rather cold place that looks like it hasn’t seen an upgrade since Elvis left for the Army. The baggage claim reminded me of the old Fisher Price Airport. There probably was a crew on the roof turning the handle. It took almost 30 minutes for our luggage to bounce down the conveyor belt. We figured the TSA cops weren’t through rummaging in our suitcases looking for bombs in the shape of cameras and jewelry. During this joke, we saw a TSA Cop sneaking through an Employees Only door holding a bolt cutter. Guess he must have found the suitcase with the laptops.

The true Elvis experience kicked in when we boarded the hotel shuttle. They had Elvis playing on the radio - but not any radio. Turns out that Sirius satellite radio has a 24 hour Elvis station. Every tune that Elvis hummed is being beamed down to us from Outer Space. Strange to think that Elvis and Howard Stern will be sharing space on the same satellite - especially after the wonderful kinky answers Lisa Marie Presley gave Howard on her sex life. Normally I’d be excited about a channel that plays 24 hour Elvis except for one small kink - I already own over 100 Elvis CDs which covers every song that Elvis ever released - I’m still missing a lot of studio outtakes. But as we sat on the shuttle heading into town, it was nice to be greeted by Elvis singing “Welcome to My World” because we were in his world.

Unfortunately instead of a gleaming Disney production, Memphis is a rather gloomy town. Sure it didn’t help that we arrived on a chilly November night. But it didn’t sparkle as we looked through the windows. Instead of taking in the sights, I was looking to make sure the door was locked. Even though this city his the home to FedEx, Holiday Inn and AutoZone, it didn’t seem to be a city on the move.

I did get excited when we arrived on Elvis Presley Boulevard. I remember seeing the footage of Elvis’ funeral procession as he made the trip down this roadway in his white hearse. Instead of being a happening address, this street was covered in ratty strip malls. There was nothing that reflected the glory of the King of Rock n Roll - except that all the businesses tried to work in Graceland or Elvis Presley Blvd into their names in order to claim the king without fear of trademark infringement. Sure there was a Krispy Kreme and a Piggly Wiggly, but they were surrounded by used car lots and dollar stores. When we cut down Lonely Street to the Heartbreak Hotel, it just didn’t seem like I was near the kind of neighborhood that would have Graceland at its core. This might as well been a trip to Leisure Suit Larry’s Sansabelt Hall of Fame. But in the daylight, I knew we’d see the rockin’ gates of Graceland.

HEARTBREAK HOTEL

If you are going to immerse yourself in Elvis, this is the best place to lay your head. The folks from the Presley estate have gone the extra mile to make sure the place isn’t full of crying guests. The color schemes look like shirts Elvis would have bought at Lasky brothers. The furniture in the lobby had that retro styling, but were still comfortable to sit in. And like the shuttle, the lobby was filled with Elvis music from Sirius. Oddly enough the one place that didn’t have Elvis playing was the elevator. It was a silent ride that allowed passengers to focus on the numerous posters advertising the V.I.P. tours of Graceland.

They have an AAA discount. Also they provide a breakfast in the morning Unfortunately it wasn’t quite the feast that Elvis used to devour with 2 pounds of bacon and 18 eggs. It was cereal, bagels, donuts, yogurt and pineapple juice. I found myself downing lots of pineapple juice thinking about Elvis in Hawaii.

Even though it was the off-season, the hotel was filled with an international assortment of guests. We met folks from all over Europe and Australia. I was taken back that there weren’t any Japanese tourists. I was told by the desk clerk that the Japanese fans come during the major weeks (Elvis’s birth and death).

We had a room with two double beds. All the rooms have mini-kitchens with small fridges and microwaves. So you don’t have to worry about what to do with leftovers. The rooms were large enough for us to spread suitcases all over the floor without tripping. And the bathroom wasn’t creepy. So it was beyond my usual standards.

But with two giant portraits of Elvis over the beds, I felt like I had finally found the hotel that understood me.

ALL ELVIS TV

Perhaps the most amazing thing about staying at the Heartbreak Hotel is channel 17 on the room’s TV. It was all Elvis movies. All 31 of his features, both of his concert films (including both versions of “That’s the Way It Is”), “Aloha From Hawaii,” the “Comeback Special” and a few other specials. It was the most amazing cable channel ever. I was in bliss.

Critics have always dismissed a majority of his films as mindless fluff. While they’ll admit his pre-Army films have merit - especially “King Creole,” they’ll never concede the greatness of “Girls! Girls! Girls!” That’s a shame. Because I really get a kick out of Elvis breaking into song without much effort. A simple tap on a washing machine turns into a musical number. And while constantly checking back on this channel, I noticed that Elvis was always believable in his character’s shoes. You could buy him as a G.I. since he wasn’t supposed to be Rambo. He was a fisherman or a helicopter pilot or even a raceway demon. Even as a doctor in “Change of Habit,” Elvis didn’t seem out of his league. He didn’t give off cheap laughs with miscastings like when we’re supposed to believe that Steven Segal is a human being.

And getting glimpses of Elvis’ movies over the 5 days spent at the Heartbreak Hotel, I found joy in his light weight cinematic efforts. The one film that got me hooked was “Live A Little, Love A Little” from 1968. This was a strange film since it was a chaste sex farce. Elvis plays a photographer who gets laid off by his paper after sleeping for a couple days at Michele Carey’s beach house. But were not supposed to believe Elvis was having a drug and sex orgy with the flakey gal. The movie does have one of his best fight scenes when he’s fired in the printing room of the newspaper.

An employee of Graceland told me that Quentin Tarantino has been getting tight with Lisa Marie Presley in hopes of making the 32nd Elvis feature. Tarantino want to use Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” toys to create a CGI Elvis movie. Tarantino said that he wanted Bill in “Kill Bill” to be played by Elvis. It’ll be interesting to see if this project ever touches a projector.

People are quick to dismiss Elvis’ Hollywood career as a joke that ruined his music. But I think these movies helped make him the mega-star he is. When I was a kid, Elvis was part of the cinematic Trinity with Godzilla and Jerry Lewis. It was a treat when he appeared as the nightly movie on the indie station out of Charlotte. His Paramount output was perhaps his finest genre. It’s a damned shame those guys on Melrose won’t put out a proper boxset.

Even now, weeks after staying in the hotel, I turn to channel 17 in hopes of catching “Viva Las Vegas.” Why can’t cable give us the channels we really need?

LEAVE THE DRIVING TO THEM

If you have a fear of driving in Memphis where that second to last wrong instruction on Mapquest will lead you to a location used in “Hustle and Flow,” we recommend the Heartbreak Hotel. It’s shuttle central.

The hotel will pick you up at the airport. They also run a nightly shuttle service down to Beale Street. It lets you off right next to the empty building that once housed Elvis Presley’s Memphis restaurant. It’s kinda sad that after 2 years, the place is still empty although the windows had various souvenirs that you can still nab at Graceland. The only bad part is that the shuttle’s last pick up is at 10:30 p.m. This is probably done to prevent guests who’ve enjoyed the “Call the Cab” frozen booze at Wet Willies from Technicolor puking all over the mini-bus.

And a little bit of warning. If it’s 38 degrees on the street don’t get the frozen drink. Frostbite, brain freeze and the hard liquor air suck at once. And I write that from experience. They had to drip wax on my forehead to bring me back from a Ted Williams fate.

While you might complain that you’d have to rent a car if you want to party like a madman on Beale Street till last call, you’d still be better off hailing a cab. No need to get busted for drunk driving in a strange city. Do you really need to explain to the kids why pop is now staying in the Johnny Cash suite at a Tennessee prison?

During the day you can catch a shuttle sponsored by Sun Studio. The shuttle drops you off at the legendary studio that first laid down the King of rock ‘n roll on vinyl. Plus you can visit the Rock and Soul Museum. This museum is part of the Smithsonian. It’s also right next to Beale Street which is great if you want to get an afternoon cocktail at B.B. King’s club after seeing the Al Green exhibit. Who said the thrill is gone?

Until a few months ago, the van also made a swing by the legendary Stax Studio. I was very interested in seeing the studio that gave us that amazing soul sound. Even Elvis recorded a few tunes there. Sam our Sun shuttle driver told us that Stax was under new management and they didn’t want to chip in on the shuttle. He also said that his last customer who went over there didn’t get a real tour. There was a person there to take money and the tourists were left to read the exhibit cases. I’m not paying nearly $10 for a ticket and $40 on a cab ride for that. It did hurt that one night Peter Guralnick was having a signing party at Stax for his latest book, “Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke.” Guralnick wrote the two volume biography on Elvis (”Last Train to Memphis” and “Careless Love”) that helped get people to view Elvis not as a bloated “he’s alive” joke on the cover of the Weekly World News.

I feel bad about skipping Stax, but that’s what they get to refusing to drop me off at their doorstep.

On our way to Sun Studios, our driver pointed out the original graveyard that Elvis was buried in before he was moved to Graceland. We also saw the destruction that once was Baptist hospital where Elvis was declared dead. I wondered if amongst the twisted metal and concrete was any of the foil that the Memphis Mafia taped to the windows when Elvis checked into the building to be examined.

SUN RISES AGAIN

While Sun Studio is a small place to visit, it’s got a big heart.

This is the studio that launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Rufus Thomas. There are major labels today that don’t have rosters with as much talent as Sam Phillips recorded.

The staff at Sun are a fun loving bunch. Imagine the cast of “High Fidelity” when it goes to Broadway. Those are the kind of folks you’ll find giving tours, making milkshakes and selling records. The studio is more of a complex. Back when Sam leased the space for a decade, he only had the studio space. But the new owners now have control over the building on the corner. The downstairs of this space is a soda fountain in the front. I did enjoy their milkshake since I saw them put plenty of scoops of strawberry ice cream into the metal cup. No cheap pre-blended non-dairy stuff here. They have a wide variety of Sun t-shirts on the walls. I eventually bought a t-shirt that sported the Million Dollar Quartet photo. They also had replica work shirts for the companies Elvis and Johnny Cash worked for when they showed up on Sam’s door hoping to make a song that would impress Sun.

In the back of the shop is a record store that sales original Sun singles. The records are gift shop priced. But one title that is a must have is “The Legendary Sun Records Story.” It’s two three CD boxsets with 120 of the finest releases Sam laid down in his tiny studio. Well it should be subtitled “All the Great Singles that Elvis Didn’t Record Here.” But I already have three releases of Elvis’ Sun sessions. His only appearances on the second volume is part of the Million Dollar Quartet - a legendary riff session between Elvis, Carl and Jerry Lee. What about Johnny Cash - who appears in the photo? Johnny once told me that he only showed up for the photo and didn’t stick around for the hour long jam session. That’s why you don’t hear his voice on the CD that documents the moment. But they did have photos when in the mid-80s, Johnny stuck around to record with Carl, Jerry Lee and Roy filling in for Elvis.

The tour was $9 and worth every penny if you care about rock n’ roll. They take you upstairs to a museum exhibit which gives a sense of Sam Phillips life and the Sun Records legacy. You actually get to see the acetate recording machine that is written about in all the good early rock books. Plus they explain how “Bear Cat” by Rufus Thomas was the reason why Sam had to sell Elvis’ contract to RCA. You can only take non-flash photos in the upstairs exhibit area.

The next stop on the tour is the legendary space itself. It’s just like it was 50 years ago when Elvis wandered in eager to make a song for his momma. Sam would record anyone at anytime. And it’s since a welcoming office. Over the top of the front office’s desk, you stare through a window into the studio. There’s no secrets in this space. The space is still covered in the original sound tiles. And you can see what made the Sun Studio so special - the ceilings. Instead of being flat, Sam had it angled to help bounce the sound just right around the space.

What’s even cooler is that Sam’s policy of recording is still in effect for Sun. For $70 an hour you can record in Sun Studio and that includes the fee for the sound engineer. If only I had enough time, I could have recorded my version of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” Although I did run into one hotel guest who was a children’s entertainer from England. She had brought a CD of her backing tracks with her and was going to head over to Sun to put on her vocals. You can only book the studio after the tour times. Guess this means Axl Rose won’t be doing his latest tracks for “Chinese Democracy” there.

Also they do permit flash photography and video in the studio space. Although because it is a working studio you can’t get into the control room. It’s not much of a loss since it’s been upgraded to record digitally so it’s no longer a mad scientists lab full of knobs and glowing tubes. But all those devices lurk around the tour.

One thing they don’t tell you on the tour, but will talk to you about if you ask them is how Sam Phillips became rich. It was not from Elvis or Sun. It was not from his second venture when he opened up Phillips Recording a few blocks down after his 10 year lease on Sun ran out. He hit paydirt as an original investor in Holiday Inn. How did this happen? Kemmons Wilson, the founder of the hotel chain, was Sam’s college roommate. If Sam had skipped college and gone straight into showbiz, he wouldn’t have made the fat dollars.

WALKIN’ IN MEMPHIS

We headed down Union Avenue in search of the Mississippi. Contrary to the song, this is not a good town to walk in. We seemed to pass a lot of abandoned buildings including quite a few with busted out windows and police tape. There were a lot of posters for “Hustle and Flow” and “Walk the Line” pasted up on these dumps.

Crossed the Danny Thomas Expressway. His legacy lives on through the St. Jude’s Children’s hospital. He was a cultural hero to my family so I made sure to get a photo taken beneath his street sign. Thank goodness nobody hit me because I’m too old for his hospital.

The ducks at the Peabody Hotel were passed out in the indoor water fountain. They slept with their bills beneath their wings. Shouldn’t that be a Bette Midler song? We tried to visit Mud Island, but discovered it was closed. Who knew it was seasonal. Thank goodness Tom Cruise didn’t have to avoid mobsters that afternoon. “The Firm” would have ended with him shot down by the locked gates to the cable cars.

When we finally saw the mighty Mississippi, I was taken back to see that there were no buildings on the Arkansas side. This is because that side is a major flood plain. Memphis is build up on a bluff and during the Civil War, Grant kept his troops busy during the time before the Battle for Vicksburg, by having the Union men build up the hills facing the river. Does this make Grant the anti-Sherman?

We did get to sample Lenny’s Sub Shop. Shame they don’t have Lenny’s around here. They knew how to pack a sub with all the good stuff - and freshly cut meat. Yummy.

BEALE STREET BLUES

A relative who will remain nameless since my Christmas gift still hasn’t arrived, kept going on about this Rum Boogie Cafe on Beale Street. So we decided to go there for dinner to get it out of the way. Well we showed up too early for the music. Although according to the guitars all over the ceilings, the place is a popular jam session for major bands. We ordered their BBQ dinner for two. They first brought us gumbo. And we should have just ordered the gumbo. It was a powerful cup of creole lovin’. The BBQ is a different story.

There’s a war in Memphis. But it’s no longer divided among races. It’s BBQ. There’s the dry and the wet factions. And you will eventually take a side if you have a hankering for pork. Rum Boogie was a deep wet location. Their sauce was extra sloppy on everything. And somehow I lost my appetite. We picked at the racks and the pile of pork. But nearly everything went into the doggy bag for lunch.

After all the hype about Beale Street, I was taken back to discover it’s barely two blocks long. It’s like strip mall that lets you wander with booze from store to store. With all the small tastes of Memphis, it was strange to find a massive Hard Rock Cafe in the middle of it. I would later find out that the head of the Hard Rock Cafe’s mother lives right off Beale Street. She’s a big mover and shaker in the art scene. She helped lure the Gibson guitar plant to the area. Plus she was instrumental in getting the Grizzles to relocated to the Pyramid arena from their Canadian home. Trouble is they swiftly built the new FedEx arena that’s next to Beale Street so now the Pyramid is empty. And supposedly the town isn’t exactly packing the FedEx to support their pro team. Oh well.

FTD OUCH

Along with Guralnick, Ernst Jorgensen and Roger Sermon’s work on the star’s catalog, restored a luster and glory to Elvis that had been turned into a joke. Their boxset of his 50s output immediately gave the King back his crown. And they’ve been properly mining the catalog ever since.

Their big project for the last few years has been the FTD label. This is there way of keeping the faithful happy with rarities, live recordings and studio outtakes without overwhelming the bins at Best Buy. The only real places you can buy these collections in America is at Graceland and the elvis.com store.

Walking into the music shop at the Graceland mall was like being in a candy shop as they had all the FTD titles in the racks. I probably would have gone completely nuts except for one thing: each CD was nearly $30. While I have over 100 Elvis CDs back home, most of them were gained through 12 for 1 record club deals. I probably paid $30 for all of them.

Since I didn’t want to tap into my hooker stash, I had to use restraint while touching the pretty collections. BMG has pruned the Elvis CD collection down to 40 titles. One of the biggest things you can’t get regularly are the soundtracks. To remedy that, FTD has been repackaging the film music along with tons of outtakes. I found it hard to get too excited at paying the price for “Tickle Me.”

But I did nab two of the best titles. “Elvis As Recorded Live On Stage In Memphis” was from his 1974 tour. When the record was originally released 30 years ago, RCA snipped the concert short - mainly because it was the third year in a row a live album was released and there was no need to completely duplicate the set list. This is the only “real” Elvis record that was missing from my collection because I had heard rumors of FTD giving it a complete release years ago. It was worth the wait.

The latest thing FTD is doing is focusing on giving the original albums expanded editions with the outtakes and singles recorded during the sessions. With that in mind, I nabbed “Elvis Is Back.” This contains all the sessions he recorded after getting discharged from the Army. It’s a two disc set that was also priced at $30. This was more like the bang for the buck FTD should be aiming for.

While I like the concept of the collector’s label, I fear that as it takes over the regular catalog titles, it’ll reduce the number of new Elvis fanatics. It’s just not good for the wallet to charge top dollar for “Harum Scarum” songs. It’s just not good to reduce his space at the regular record store to greatest hits collections.

RIB STORY 2

On our return trip to Beale Street we decided to eat at the first joint after the shuttle stop: Blues City Cafe.

They claim chef Bonnie Mack is world renowned. And his fame has now spread to my belly. Now they do the ribs the way they should be done. They cook them dry and then apply the sauce so it gives it flavor without making the meat taste like a sponge. Our biggest regret on this tour is that we didn’t come here instead of heading down to Rum Boogie (although we still liked their gumbo).

THE SECOND GREATEST DAY OF MY LIFE

On my birthday, I was making out with my wife in the Jungle Room. It was such a beautiful moment that I should have asked the guard if I could get a copy of the security cam footage. It’s just a damn shame those velvet ropes kept us from humping on the deep green shag carpet giving a view to all the Hawaiian gods caught in the furniture. But we were good kids in Elvis’ house and just kissed and groped.

It’s what Elvis would have allowed.

The house has been opened for tours since the early 80s. And even as a hardcore Elvis worshipper, I had never had a chance to make the pilgrimage. I picked up various books that showed off all the rooms in the house. I knew every room - every nit-nack. Every door handle. I’m happy it took this long to make the trip for many reasons. The best is that there is now a VIP tour of the house. This entitles the user to visit the estate as many times as you want during the day. On top of that, you get a special shuttle bus so you don’t have to waste your time in line with the one-trippers. Plus you get to hang out in Elvis’ carport. They also guide you to the back of the 13.5 estate to get a good view of the horses and Elvis’ barn. Plus you see the mobile home park where some of Elvis’ entourage used to live. Now it’s the offices for the folks who run the tours.

This is truly a boon for the hardcore sideburn freak. Since we were staying at the Heartbreak Hotel, we could wander back to our room and take a rest before the last tour time. There was no rush. We were going to spend a day immersed in Elvis - whether my wife wanted to or not.

Standing at the front door of Graceland was like a childhood dream come true. As I opened the door to the house, I felt like I was entering the promised land. I’ve been to a lot of famous houses. But I never felt this buzzed at the door - without the promise of sex on the other side. The rooms were amazing. I almost cried at the beauty of the basement TV room. They had three sets built into the wall. The most amazing thing was “Dr. Strangelove” was showing on one set. Kubrick in the land of Elvis. I like Dr. Strangelove, too.

What truly sets a visit to Graceland apart from a visit to Mt. Vernon or Monticello is the ability to relate to the furniture. On a display of Elvis’ desk, I saw book I read as a kid. Lisa Marie’s toybox was just like mine. Sure dad didn’t own a giant shag bed or a crushed velvet tuxedo. But there were mutual elements between myself and Elvis. I grew up in a home with shag carpet - it’s still on the family room floor. It’s not like a tour through Donald Trump’s houses where he wants to outdo us all with his expensive lifestyle. If Elvis was alive today, he’d be shopping for stuff at Target like the rest of us.

A house like Graceland should be part of a mansion row. But instead as you can see into the numerous small houses with their backyards up against the estate’s wall. Normal little homes which looked better than nearby apartment complexes that come with high fences wrapped in razor wire. It’s just not a safe neighborhood. A local explained to me that back when Elvis lived there, the neighborhood of Whitehaven was one of the most affluent suburbs of Memphis. It had the best shopping centers. It was not the dumpy kinda section that it has become. The area’s name proved to be its downfall. It was a haven for whites. And when the first black families moved into the area, white plight went into overdrive. The local remembered how after the first black family moved two blocks away, about half of the neighborhood had for sale signs on their lawns. They moved in droves and the property values dropped. And the classy stores shut down and moved off to malls. And in came the used car lots and dollar stores.

While roaming the grounds of Graceland, it was easy to see how Elvis created his own little refuge from the world that shrieked whenever he stepped on stage. He even built a racquetball court building so he didn’t have to deal with the hassles of a club. We sat on a bench and took in the beauty of the world Elvis lived in for nearly two decades. This was his home. He didn’t build it. But he altered it. He opened it up to family and friends. He made it his world. And even though he’s been gone for nearly 30 years, I could share in his view. He choose wisely when he picked a homestead. And Elvis isn’t leaving anytime soon.

To the side of the kidney shaped swimming pool is the meditation garden. And there lays Elvis, his mother and father. Plus there’s a plaque for his stillborn twin brother. It was nice to finally be able to pay my respect to a man who did his best to keep me entertain. It’s easy to think of all the “crap” Elvis did in movies and songs. People always talk about he should have done this or that. But in the end, he’s still Elvis. Could we exist in a universe with a perfect Elvis? One who made “To Kill A Mockingbird” or “Last Tango in Paris?” An Elvis who could have sung music written by Elvis Costello?

But we have an Elvis who sang Dylan and the Beatles. We have an Elvis who proved a farmer’s boy from Mississippi could rock the world. I felt guilty when my shadow touched his grave.

Before the tours start, Graceland is open for people to walk up to the mediation garden. After my VIP day, I took advantage of this freebie visit. In the early morning, I walked up the long driveway towards the giant pillars that are guarded by the white lions flanking the staircase. Occasionally on the walk, I’d stop and stare around. It was easy how this land could mean so much to a man. How a visit could recharge the creative batteries.

On the morning before we left for St. Louis, I stood before Elvis’ grave once more contemplating my life that involved memories of him. I remembered my flight to LA where they had an channel on the inflight radio that played the 50s boxset. I remembered the record department at J.C. Penneys shortly after Elvis died. They had this giant box full of Elvis tapes. I was in awe of it. and decades later I’d have those titles in my record closet. I remembered John Swain at the Record Hole selling me the Sun Sessions album. And I remembered running for student body president at NC State with posters declaring “The Ghost of Elvis told me to run.” My memories were filled with Elvis moments. I didn’t want to leave.

But the time for the visit was ending. I didn’t want to say goodbye. But I didn’t want to be escorted off the property by the Memphis police. So I whispered the word he taught us, “Aloha” and slowly headed down the driveway soaking in his world. As I approached the guard booth next to the musical front gates, I came face to face with a Japanese tourist.

PORK HEAVEN

Memphis is so much about ribs, the kids learn to count in racks.

A guy running the gift shop told us we hadn’t eaten in Memphis till we hit Marlowes. And the place would come and get us for dinner. That’s more than my relatives do for us.

They sent a pink limo with tiger stripped seats to pick us up at the hotel. Talk about a class act. This is one of the few businesses that I can recommend on Elvis Presley Blvd. When we arrived at the place, we were amazed they had room for tables with all the trophies displayed. The place is mega-Elvis friendly. They even had the Sirius radio playing the 24 hour Elvis channel. Did I forget to mention that during the day at the Graceland plaza, the channel has DJs broadcasting from a booth attached to the record store. So they aren’t joking when they say they are broadcasting from Graceland.

And the gift shop guy wasn’t kidding us about Marlowes. The ribs were amazing. They also smoke them dry and apply this succulent apple sauce on them before the plate hits your table. Pure bliss. Supposedly towards the end of his life, Elvis would get ribs from Marlowes. I could easily see why Elvis would tear into a rack of ribs here. Although he might be a little uncomfortable having to see his picture all over the place.

I feel bad that we never had a chance to hit the Interstate BBQ - featured in John Landis’ amazing documentary, “The Slasher.” But Marlowes was so good, there were no leftovers. I didn’t want to risk reheating the beauty of the pork. The miracle of the pork - Jean Genet would write. As I sat in the back seat of the pink limo heading back towards Graceland, I knew the satisfaction Elvis must have had in his belly.

ELVIS OVERDOSE

By our fourth day in Elvis World, my wife was overdosing. I think it was the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich that finally made her realize that she couldn’t hang with my obsessions. Luckily for our trip up to St. Louis, we listened to the Sun Records collection that didn’t have any Elvis. I promised her that next year we’d spend a week at Page Davis’ house - whether it’s open to the public or not.

COLBERT - STEWART ‘08

While at the hotel, I became glued to the double dose of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” These guys are doing the work Doonesbury did before Trudeau took his vacation in the 80s. Seeing how dull and boring the next presidential election is shaping up to be, I demand we draft Steven Colbert and Jon Stewart to run for the White House. Let’s make things interesting, America.

STRIPCLUB CONCEPT

We were hoping to find an adult entertainment complex called Mamphis. No luck.

THROW ME A ROLL!

As we headed up to St. Louis, we were told to stop off for lunch at Lamberts in Sikeston, Missouri. The guy kept talking about how they threw rolls at you. I didn’t quite get what he was talking about, but I wanted to eat somewhere besides McDonalds. We weren’t sure what to expect, but when we walked into the joint, we were overwhelmed.

Imagine a Crackerbarrel with a soul. They had the walls covered in weird stuff - mostly Dale Sr. and other heartland icons. This place was packed and it was easy to see why. Fine family style food served all you can eat. They brought me a Coke in one of those mega-trucker cups. They know my ability to suck down fluids. And while waiting for our meatloaf, they brought us fried okra. Plus they had black-eyed peas. We had to order meatloaf because we had pretty much overporked on ribs.

And then we got to experience the rolls. This guy pushes around a cart with these huge hot rolls that cooked in giant muffin trays. And people would wave their hands and he’d throw the rolls across the room. It was amazing. I actually caught one without letting it bounce on the chair. We were completely blown away by Lamberts and wish they had one near us instead of a crummy Crackerbarrel.

You can find out more by visiting www.throwedrolls.com.

NO RUSH FOR YOU

Funny that Cape Girardeau has these giant billboards up for all the famous people connected to the town except they overlooked one person: Rush Limbaugh. I guess they didn’t want to attract the wrong element as people would assume you can get hillbilly heroin out of the bubble gum machines.

KOSHER

If you ever want to detox from overporking, attend a wedding with a kosher menu.

DANGER VACATIONS

While staying in St. Louis, they released the list of the Most Dangerous Cities in America. Guess what came in #3? With that bit of news, we locked the hotel room door. Number #2 was Detroit or DetRiot as we called it during our stay there last year. This means that next year, I’ll be dragging the wife to Camden, New Jersey. Let’s see what it’s like to stay at the city that always shrieks.



Comments: 1 Comment

Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 11/2005

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LEASBURG, NC – No. Ty isn’t here.

If you can say that 8,436 times, then you could have done most of my job when I went back to work for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

We arrived in the early hours to surprise Bobby, a 101st paratrooper who lost both of his legs when the troop transport rolled over a roadside bomb. I’m not sure how many details I need to hide from you since all shall be revealed on Dec. 11 during the show’s “Pay It Forward” special. But I can say that once again, this is the only job I work where at the end of the shoot, I felt like I’ve brought some good into another’s life. We’re not merely making television or foolish entertainment. We’re helping a person get one major problem out of their life so they can focus on bigger issues. When we arrived his house looked like it was was the Douglas’ home on “Green Acres.”

I better wait until December to give you the real skinny. I worked with Paige Hemmis. And if you’re curious, she does wear a lot of pink in person. It’s like she should be sponsored by the pink fiberglass folks.

So I better not tell too many tales about what went on during the shoot - not yet. Is that enough teaser? You should be able to spot me in crowd scenes since that was the best place to hide from the camera. But I do have two other tales from the world of being the Creepy P.A.

THE MAILMAN DELIVERED

Ever work with a man who cursed your life without him knowing it?

When I was in college, people used to compare me with professional know-it-all Cliff Clavin on “Cheers.” We both were notorious for being able to spout trivia at the drop of a beer coaster. Indeed I feared becoming Cliff so much that I retracted my job application at the Post Office when they were looking for Christmas help. I just couldn’t get that close to becoming that character. I didn’t want to live with my mom for the rest of my life.

I was hired to work on a video presentation about Smart Houses - wiring your house with copper so you can control every aspect of your life through remote control. Cliff…I mean, John Ratzenberger is the spokesman for them. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I feared we’d get into “the Incas actually were the first to…” matches. But John isn’t quite like Cliff.

First off, he’s grown a goatee. He looks like Cliff doing Shakespeare in the Park. He also didn’t wear a postal uniform. While he can’t carry mail, he showed me his Deputy badge for Allegheny County in Pennsylvania. I asked him why he didn’t arrest Tommy Maddox for impersonating a Steelers quarterback. He laughed. Although I was pretty serious about cuffing Maddox so his hands won’t be tempted to pick up a football.

At one point I was involved in cue cards for Ratz - we called him that whenever he was in his trailer. It was strange to think that there was Cliff reading my crummy handwriting. Yet, like a true master thespian, he was able to decipher my chicken scratch. No wonder he was nominated twice for an Emmy. And once when the wrong card went up, I learned that at least one person at Cheers knew my name.

What was interesting was that adults recognized Ratz from his 11 seasons on Cheers. The kids knew him as the voice of the pig from “Toy Story.” Geeks wanted to know what it was like to be in “Empire Strikes Back.” And freaks mentioned he was in “House II: The Second Story.”
Ratz appeals to everyone. I think he should run for senate. But he’s still a busy man.

Ratz’s big focus at the moment is “Made In America,” his show about American factories. He spoke of how he felt that Hollywood was demeaning to factories. We spoke about trying to do an episode about the company that makes the sabers for West Point cadets. Hopefully
something will come of it.

While some sitcom stars are prima donnas, Ratz did whatever was necessary to make the shoot work. When he realized his black shirt had a red pocket tag with a logo, he asked for my Sharpie and blacked it out. He knew how to make the people he was interviewing about their
houses feel relaxed. I doubt any of that footage will make it onto the final project.

While we didn’t have time to share a beer and chat, he did ask if I’d ever visited the Bull and Finch, the Boston bar that inspired Cheers. I recounted the night we stepped into the bar and two strides later hit the far wall. It’s a broom closet with a tap. “You’ve been there,” he replied.

It was hard to not think of him as Cliff. Indeed I started getting that George Wendt feeling. And when I finally recognized him as Ratz, during the middle of a take he unleashed, “Do it prah-pah. Make it Cah-pah!” He was Cliff. And I was eager to have a beer.

NASCAR LIVIN’

I’m hanging around one of NASCAR WInston Cup champion Terry LaBonte’s garage and it strikes me that this is the first grease monkey heaven I’ve visited that had a gift shop. Under the hot lights were Terry (champ in 1984 & 1996 in a Kelloggs car), his brother Bobby (champion
in 2000) and his son Justin. We were doing a PSA for the Coast Guard, Justin’s Busch car sponsor.

I showed up early and got a nice tour from the guy in charge of the Labonte’s three garages. He told me that the late great Dick Trickle had a working cigarette lighter in his car. The man was never seen without a smoke - which in a world that deals with gas being spilled around, shows what a thrillseeker Dick was. Remember when NASCAR was all about cigarettes? I hate how today’s NASCAR announcers declare former champs as “Nextel Cup Winners.” I saw Terry’s trophy case and the biggest cups read “Winston.” Will someone ever write a book entitled “When NASCAR was smoking?”

While you might be complaining about the price of gas, a gallon of the high test that goes into a NASCAR racer went for $6 pre-Katrina kick. While the juice is free on race day, you do get charged for the test laps.

Among the odd things found in the garage was Kenny Schrader’s old 36 M&Ms car (before Elliot Sadler took over the ride). Turns out Terry sends out old cars for exhibits at malls and such. In order to minimize expenses, the engine had been removed. That cuts down on idiot kids reaching in and cranking the engine.

The three LaBontes spent most of their downtime during the shoot trying to figure out their travel arrangements for the coming months. These guys don’t stay still for long. Terry has lightened his load running only selected races, but he was still crisscrossing the country. This
isn’t a sport for weekend cruisers anymore. The garage guy remembered back in the days when he’d help out as part of the pit crew. He didn’t seem to envy the guys hauling the tires over the wall today. They now practice everyday as they shave milli-seconds off the pit times.

I did ask Bobby about the tire blowouts at Charlotte Motorspeedway. He pointed out that most of the racers that had problems were notorious for tire difficulties cause they push the Goodyears in the wrong direction. The two brothers weren’t too gabby about NASCAR since they don’t want to get fined. Recently NASCAR hinted they might restrict the number of cars a race team can field. I joked with Terry that NASCAR might limit the number of racers with the same last name. He just smiled. Can the France family fine for smiles?

It was strange to be in a garage that was completely useless to my own car. There was nothing I could palm. Tires were already bald. And the extra hoods weren’t my color.

I’m not sure what the tour schedule of the garage is, but if you plan on visiting the High Point area to buy furniture, you might call over. Just don’t bring any smokes.

ALL THE KONG’S APES

While theater goers get antsy in anticipation of Peter Jackson’s remake of “King Kong,” I’m getting a bigger buzz from the Kong-mania that’s flooding the DVD section of your local Big Box Store. Never in the history of DVDs has every major studio drafted on a blockbuster title.
Everyone is looking to make hairy big cash off the giant ape. And they can count on collecting a few dollars out of my wallet.

When I was a teen, Thanksgiving meant three things: Turkey, Godzilla and King Kong. Back when WOR was a real superstation on cable, this New York channel would bring a two day celebration known that would show the giant reptile and ape duking it out. It was a battle that took over the afternoons on both Thanksgiving and Big Sale Friday. They showed all the RKO movies and a few of the best Toho classics including Godzilla “Vs. The Smog Monster” and “Vs. Megalon.” But of course the highlight of the day was “King Kong Vs. Godzilla.” After a turkey leg and pumpkin pie, I was ready to pull the lever on the La-Z-Boy and watch a battle in the pits that was better than Lions Vs. Bears. This was as much a Corey family turkey day tradition as watching Jack Lord introduce the parade in Honolulu. Or taking bets that the Underdog balloon would get stuck on a lightpole during the Macy’s parade. But in 1985 WOR stopped running the love and it became a nostalgic memory. We were stuck watching the Lions suck. You can read about this beautiful moment in television history at dvddrive-in.com. Plus they have the newspaper ads.

Thankfully this year the folks at Warners have gotten smart and instead of waiting till Jackson’s Kong is released in December, a boxset featuring the original Kong and its spinoffs will be released on Nov. 22, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I suspect somebody in Burbank had
cable. The boxset will contain “King Kong,” “Son of Kong” and “Mighty Joe Young.” All three films feature the miniature work of Willis H. O’Brien. There’s no CGI here. It was all about Willis moving the model around frame by frame. Besides the films, there’s also a feature length documentary about the making of the original Kong. Plus there’s an hour long documentary about Merian C. Cooper (who co-directed the film with Ernest B. Schoedsack). There’s also a special tin collection that just has “King Kong” DVDs and a bunch of reproduction items from
its original release - including an offer to get the movie poster.

Universal has also joined in WOR Turkey days memory by not only putting out “King Kong Vs. Godzilla,” but also including “King Kong Escapes.” Unfortunately it doesn’t hit the shelves until Nov. 29 so it won’t be in the DVD player on Pilgrim’s day. Even though Universal is on a
DVD-18 flipper disc binge, these films will each get their own DVD. I’ve been told these are the American cuts of the film. While some folks demand the uncut Toho versions, I want to see the versions I remember. Recently I rented “Godzilla Vs the Smog Monster” or Hedorah as he’s now called on this Sony release. It wasn’t nearly as freaky as the butcher AIP version. The Toho King Kong isn’t nearly as cool Willis’ work. But both DVDs can be nabbed for $14 total. Why nitpick?

Paramount brings us Dino DeLaurentiis’ 1976 remake of “King Kong” on Nov. 22. This is appears to be a repackaging of the DVD that’s been out for several years. But there’s a 3 hour cut of this movie that was used for TV runs so that it could be split in half allowing a TV station two nights at 2 hours. It would be nice if Paramount puts this out, but I can’t tell from the scant info the studio has released. It’s not hyped on the cover. Contrary to what people think, this remake was not a box office turkey. It made a tidy profit for Dino. When his Kong died, he cried all the way to the bank. Plus it was Oscar nominated. The film is noted for giving Jessica Lange her big break. She did an amazing job as Kong’s first girlfriend. The film brought Rick Baker to the public. The man would go on to win an armful of Oscars for his make up work. This wasn’t even his first Ape action - I liked how he transformed John Landis into “Schlock.”

Fox presents the follow up “King Kong Lives.” This is already on the shelf. I had a chance to talk to screenwriter Ronald Shusett (also co-wrote “Alien”) about how this project came about. Ronald said Dino had just passed on a script idea when he threw up a last gasp idea in order to get a gig. “How about a sequel to King Kong?” Ron suggested. Dino asked how could that be since King Kong died at the end of the film. “He gets an artificial heart!” Ron declared. Dino’s eyes lit up and he green lit the project. Ron left the office elated that he had made a deal and dreading that he had to figure out how to pull this off. The film has a soft spot in my heart because it was filmed in Wilmington and a couple pals showed up in crowd scenes. It also has
Linda Hamilton in the lead. I don’t think she puts this on her resume.

MGM-Sony goes across the Atlantic to present “Konga.” This formerly Midnite Movie VHS will be put out as a regular MGM DVD on Dec. 6. In this film a mad botanist returns to England with an African baby ape and strange plants. Guess what happens when he combines them? Well it’s a big monkey terrorizing London on the DVD cover. Sony is also putting out the complete animated King Kong series on Nov. 15. I don’t remember this cartoon as a kid. But judging from a few still captures - it looks really painful. Warners might out do the pain with “Kong: King of Atlantis” surfacing on Nov. 22. It’s animated feature about a Kloned Kong. How did we miss this at Oscar season?

What about Disney? You don’t remember them having a King Kong clone (although they did do that hideous “Mighty Joe Young” remake)? Well they don’t have one proper. But through Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder label, they’ll be pimping “Mighty Peking Man” in Kongmania. This Shaw Brothers flick shows that Hong Kong needed to get some King Kong lovin. Although it’s not quite Kong, it still features a blond and a giant ape and rampaging through a model community. You can get this for under $7.

The indie DVD players are also getting into the Kong action. Image Entertainment has “A*P*E.” If Ed Wood Jr. had found South Korean backers for a rip off of “King Kong,” this would be that movie. It so cheesy, it should have been shot in Wisconsin. There’s a great scene
where the guy in the really bad ape suit wrestles a rubber great white shark. It reminds me of the octopus scene in “Ed Wood.” I can almost see Johnny Depp near the camera asking that the monkey shakes the shark more to make it look alive. “Perfect!” It was also shot in 3-D although
the print on the DVD isn’t. So be impressed by stuff coming straight at your face. Joanna Kerns plays the blond that has ape troubles. You might remember her from Growing Pains as the mom. She went by Joanna DeVarona for this production - probably something to do with Witness protection. This is a film that needs to be relished for its badness. Damn shame Mystery Science Theater 3000 didn’t get to give this the “Manos” treatment. Image also gives us the double feature DVD featuring “Mighty Gorga” and “One Million AC/DC.” The second film is a caveman sex comedy done by Ed Wood Jr. “Mighty Gorga” is a guy in a really bad ape suit. Plus they also have the double bill of “Queen Kong” and “Kong Island” on a second collection.

Now you might be wondering, doesn’t it stink to be Peter Jackson and miss out on all this DVD action that’s tagging onto your marketing machine? Well don’t shed a tear for the Kiwi. He’s putting out “King Kong - Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries.” For under $30, you can buy
all the bonus features on Dec 13, right before the movie comes out.

When Peter Jackson’s Kong dies, everybody profits!

BASKETBLAH

Did the NBA season really just start? Honestly I can’t remember who won last year’s title. Wasn’t the team that had the gal from Desperate Housewives sitting next to them? Speaking of that woman - why are we fascinated with such a lame celeb? Whenever I catch her on the
entertainment shows, she’s so dull. Bea Arthur’s farts give more personality on the red carpet. Well at least we know who will be turning the letters when Vanna White’s elbows give out.

THE HAIR

Has anyone seen John Norris’s new rug? It’s Shatneriffic.

CATBOX VIEWING

I’m watching “Catwoman” on HBO. This film was amazingly lame and stupid. Will the executives who greenlit this film please have their testicles removed. This isn’t entertainment - it’s inhuman. Where is a Senate subcommittee investigating how the American public was expected
to like this.

IT IS COMPLETE

So I bought a box containing 11 packs of the second series of Wacky Packages - the next generation. And amazingly enough of the 67 stickers, I had a complete set of 55. Pretty frightening when that works out. The best card of this batch is “Count Funkula.” This time he
has only one gold tooth. I’m still not sure why the Count Chocula went monotooth. Nobody at General Mills will go on record to the bad oral hygiene from their bloodsucking superstar. I also nailed a magnet containing the classic “Hawaiian Punks.” The weird thing is that the bonus card if you buy the big box at WalMart is “Poop on Pop.” This has to be the grossest Wacky Package ever. Look it up on google images.

NEW SEASON?

I’m not catching on to any of the new shows. Who thought “Freddie” would be entertaining? I’m also disgusted at “Run’s House” cause it’s so staged that he should move to Laguna Beach. Something sad in seeing a once badass rapper turned into a lame version of Bill Cosby. Do I
really need to see this much of his life? And I’m not buying the woman president show. How about a show about a drunk jerk who finds himself as the president? Imagine him showing up in the New Orleans destruction and demand “No boobies - no FEMA!” Why doesn’t HBO put on “The Horny President?” What if a Billy Carter won the election? How about they mom got their names confused and it turns out America didn’t elect the sensible brother?

FROM THE FRANKLIN MINT

Has anyone bought the Kabballah vs. Scientology chess set?

WAR OF THE WORLDS: THE WIRED EDITION

Somebody at Paramount needs to get a nice fat gutshot for the “War of the Worlds” Special Edition DVD of the George Pal version. They did an amazing job of cleaning up the image and giving us a great vibrate image. But someone didn’t notice that they also made every wire holding up the space ships visible. It’s so tacky that Ed Wood would call it amateur hour. While I’m normally not one for CGI on classic films, it ould have been nice if they’d hid the wires.

DROPPING GAS PRICES

Did you notice that after the big oil companies confessed to their record profits that prices at the pumped dropped. This must be part of their distract us with little drops. You can’t blame big oil for sticking it to us - they have to pay for the 2006 elections. Graft don’t come cheap in the 21st century.

WHERE’S THE INTRO?

Why exactly is the Underdog show on Boomerang missing all the opening themes to the various cartoons? It’s insane, I say. Are they just trying to save a dollar by not paying the songwriters? I want my real theme to Commander McBragg.

THE VIDEO I-POD

You have been given the baby version. It’s the one that appeals to the MPAA and the networks. But don’t worry cause Steve-O is coming.

BIGGER TEASE FOR NOV!

The next column will be coming from Graceland. Seriously. We’re going to Graceland! Graceland! Graceland, Tennessee!



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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 10/2005

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (October 1, 2005 at 10:35 pm)

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ROCKY MOUNT— It is always an adventure when you step through the TV screen.

Sunday evening I watched news reports about the latest Amber Alert. A 28 year-old sex offender had abducted a 12 year-old girl (all names have been withheld because of the nature of this case). The incident took place an hour from where I live so I took note, but there was no indication that they would be coming my way. Neither was there an indication that I’d be going their way. I saw the girl’s grandmother pleading for a safe return. I felt for her, but what could I do?

Monday night, I was doing a lot. I received a call from “America’s Most Wanted.” They needed me as a producer to cover the latest press conference featuring the local police, the FBI and the grandmother. Within an hour, I was reviewing all the information on the case that had been released to the media. I was no longer a casual observer keeping an eye out for people that match the faces on the police flyer. I was a producer for the most popular law and order show in TV history.

When we arrived at the police station, we were treated like royalty – as opposed to the normal news stiffs. As my cameraman set up for the press conference shot, I introduced myself to an officer working on the case. He was impressed. When you say, “I’m from America’s Most Wanted,” there’s a certain sense of power. The FBI agents didn’t mind standing to the side and going over the facts of the case that can be shared with me. Nobody refused to talk with me about the missing girl. What was also strange was that nobody asked to see any sort of ID.

But I didn’t let this rush of respect completely go to my head. Because I knew that I wasn’t merely doing a job. I was an extension of John Walsh, the host of AMW. John’s son Adam had been abducted and killed by a convicted sex offender. So working on this case made me twice as professional. When the abducted girl’s grandmother arrived for the press conference, I went over to not merely ask her questions about the case, but to comfort her. She was on the point of emotional exhaustion. She couldn’t figure out how her granddaughter would leave her house at 1 a.m. on a Saturday and take off with a 28 year-old guy that had just gotten out of jail for not registering as a sex offender. Through the various talks with authorities, I concluded that they suspected that the girl had met him when she was 10. He was working at a convenience store near her mother’s place. Somehow they had stayed in touch. He was convicted once of statutory rape of a 15 year-old girl. He had a second case dropped against him. He was living in a trailer park with his mother and had stolen a friend’s car the night he decided to abduct the girl. It was hard to figure the appeal this guy could have.

The day we were at the press conference was during Katrina’s rampage against the gulf states. An FBI agent told me that the sex offender only known cash supply was $400 he had stolen by using his mom’s bankcard. I asked if the FBI was keeping an ear out for drive offs at gas stations. Gas prices were already soaring and $400 doesn’t go too far on the road anymore. The FBI agent said sure, but I’m not sure if he took me seriously. We interviewed the police chief and the FBI agent in order to get a sense of what was going on and what viewers should keep an eye out for.

We were supposed to interview the grandmother, but she was in no emotional shape to talk to us. Her press conference was a tearful plea for her granddaughter to return. She spoke of how her husband was already in bad shape from a disability and the pressure from not knowing what was happening was killing him. As we packed up our gear, I told her that we’d visit in a few hours. We needed to shoot a couple other things for b-roll.

Our big trip was to locate the abductor’s mom’s mobile home. If you’ve never been to Rocky Mount, well just imagine getting lost in Hooterville. It’s a town of train tracks and roads that keep changing names. We kept getting lost trying to locate the trailer park. When we finally found the place, it was truly in the boonies. The windows had been covered over in black trashbags – probably the last few days of their missing son being a face on Fox News had made them shy of sunlight. AMW wanted us to talk to his parents. But there were no cars and no one inside the trailer came after us with a baseball bat. So we got our front shot. But then we noticed something in the backyard – the real home of the abductor was a camper. We captured a nice shot of where this creep crawled from to lure this girl into his life.

We headed to the grandmother’s house. She was busy talking to a former FBI-agent who was now part of a group that helps parents find kids that were abducted. The house was really small – about the size of a beach cottage with a main room that worked as the living room and kitchen and two bedrooms. The place was done in knotty pine paneling. This was a family living on a tight budget. The grandmother’s job was a substitute teacher that pays $60 a day. She led me to the granddaughter’s room to figure out shots for the cameraman. I entered the space like Clarice Starling in “The Silence of the Lambs” when she visits the first victim’s bedroom. Even though the authorities had picked apart the place and taken objects for clues, my eyes kept trying to size up why this happened from the elements of her life. As if there was a single clue that would let me grasp why this kid would do something this foolish. The day before had been the first day of school and there was a list of things she needed to have for classes. I checked out the pile of VHS tapes next to her TV. The top title was “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” She was watching stuff a little more mature for her age.
I learned that this was a girl that grew up fast. Her parents had split. Her father moved to Florida with her brother. Her mom had problems that forced the grandmother to raise the child. This was a girl that thought she was older than she was as survival instinct. But she wasn’t wise enough to avoid the sex offender.

We spent a long time interviewing the grandmother. She had recovered from the morning press conference. She had never heard of the man who had taken her grandchild. She had no idea how they had carried on the relationship or why she left in the middle of the night. Her only clue was the granddaughter badly wanted to see Snoop Dogg in concert. Maybe the abductor had promised to take her to the big show.

The most valuable question I asked her was how would someone know they are near her granddaughter if they ran into her at a convenience store. Did she have favorite junkfood or phrases? Did she hate eating certain things? But the grandmother didn’t have a solid answer and it tore into me. You want to be able to spot this child instead of seeing someone who kinda looked like her and have the cops go nuts. We finally found out that the girl hated junkfood and liked fresh fruit. That could help a suspicious Fast Fare employee.

What ate at me was that AMW doesn’t air until Saturday night. I couldn’t believe that these people would have to go through this emotional nightmare for another five days if this aired. As we were packing up, I gave the grandmother a hug and told her that she’d hear from her granddaughter before this footage aired. I didn’t feel like I was lying. The main thing that gave me hope about the case was that the sex offender hadn’t attacked his under-aged victims. He seemed to seduce them. There was a chance this poor girl wasn’t dead in a dumpster behind a Piggly Wiggly. I didn’t feel like I was lying to this drained woman. There was a chance. The family thought she was going towards Alabama and were scared that Katrina would cause havoc.

The big thing that the folks up at the AMW headquarters wanted was a shot of the highway information sign flashing the Amber Alert. Even though we were on I-95, the “local” sign was nearly an hour away in Fayetteville. It was easier to get the shot back in Raleigh on the trip home. When we got to Raleigh, all the highway info signs were black. How could the Amber Alert get canceled now? We did what we could do. So we went to FedEx and shipped out three tapes at 6 p.m. and went home.

When the 11 o’clock news came on, the lead story was that the granddaughter had turned up at a bus station in Iowa at 8 p.m. My tapes hadn’t even made it up to D.C. and the girl had been located. I called AMW to let them in on the news. They shipped all my footage over to the fugitive department. The next day the evening news reported that the abductor had been arrested in Colorado. How did they catch him? He drove off without paying for a tank of gas. Just as I suspected. I called up AMW to give them the news. With that information, my story taken off the schedule. My big nationwide producing gig was finished. But I didn’t feel bad for getting bumped. This wasn’t merely entertainment. There was a life at stake and now it was safe and secure. And there was one less sexual predator lurking on the streets.

So I didn’t get to see John Walsh talking over my footage. And we had nothing to do with the finding of the girl. But for those hours I spent with the grandmother, I kept her from totally losing it. I was able to give her the hope and compassion that we’d all need in such situations. Something that I suspect John Walsh would see as important in such trouble times.

WHERE IS THIS STATION?

How come I can’t get the U.S. Postal Channel on my cable box? I spend a couple hours watching it at the post office. It’s just amazing to see stuff I can buy at the post office while in the post office. It’s such immediate programming. I’ve got Boomerang, why can’t I get this?

NO RING KISSING

Neil Cavuto has read over two dozen of my letters on the air and when it comes time for his latest book tour, he visits Charlotte instead of spending a day signing in beautiful Raleigh. How he turns on his providers.

HA HA HOOO HUMMMM

Is there a deeper silence than Adam Corolla’s monologue? This is where black holes are born.

WORST NEWS EVER

Paris Hilton just called off her impending marriage. So does this mean she won’t be retiring from showbiz? Does this mean she’s going to force herself on us for another decade? Will we have to see her act and sing? Perhaps she’ll return to her true passion – amateur porn.

GIRL STUFF

My wife knows that I love her because for our wedding anniversary I bought her the first two seasons of “The Gilmore Girls.” I did only pay $18.88 for each DVD set and they’re part of a rebate deal – so I didn’t pay the $60 SRP. I’m not insane. But I did have to get a Target male employee to go in the back and get season one. I might as well have asked him for a crate of Depends. I’m not a man in that kid’s eyes. I should have just asked him if he had any Clay Aiken DVDs while he was looking.

I only watch the show with her cause someday Lauren Graham will forget what project she’s making and ask Santa for backdoor loving. “Badder Santa” is the most precious gift this Christmas. Plus the younger Gilmore Girl was a hooker in “Sin City.” I’m hoping the director’s cut DVD will include that Gilmore Girl proving that her mom isn’t the only one who can satisfy Santa-style lovin’. Ho Ho Ho! If I can only score with one mother-daughter combination during a torrid weekend in the Nutmeg state, it’ll be with the Gilmore Girls. Am I watching this show with a different eye than my wife?

But my wife thought it was touching that I bought a DVD set that she knows I won’t be watching alone. And when I touch her heart, it means I’ll have to touch myself less.

NO BIG SCARES

Where exactly have all the good horror marathons gone this October? What channel is running all the AIP, Universal and Hammer Scary flicks? AMC is showing their usual crap. Turner Classic Movies has a few titles on Halloween weekend, but is mostly fixated on showing Hitchcock classics. Looks like I’ll be digging in to the DVD collection for a couple shockers.

Supposedly there are three competing Horror channels trying to get into the cable business. Is there really enough quality material for all three to exist? Sure one has Joe Bob Briggs as part of their team. But what about the movies? Even Joe Bob understands how there are so many stinkers in the genre that you get stuck running. We’re talking films that were beneath the worst offerings on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Has it really been six years since it went off the air? Well at least they’re putting out DVDs to keep the love of schlock in the eyes of the faithful.

WEIRD TIMING

Did you notice that MTV started running the promos declaring “MTV doesn’t play music is a myth” at the same time they cut back on daylight running of music videos. This is an ad campaign brought to you by the guy who invented New Coke.

FOOD NETWORK PITCH

So the show will be called “Junk Food Kingdom” where stars and witty unknowns talk about their favorite bad foods. Plus a strange history of cereals, candy bars and fake meats. Plus there will be showing of vintage commercials. It’ll be cooler than VH1’s programming cause you’ll be hungry when it’s over.

LIST WHORES STRIKE AGAIN

Leave it to AFI to come up with another bogus greatest list. Now it’s the top 100 film scores! Who could have guessed this one? Me? How about the 100 greatest supporting characters? 100 best films featuring pro wrestlers as actors? 100 greatest nepotisms? 100 greatest heterosexual actors….scratch that list, not enough entries. I swear the greatest 100 films to watch while getting wasted is coming.
And how come the music to “Deep Throat” was overlooked?

FIRST AXE

Fox canceled “Head Cases.” Adam Goldberg had the greatest bad hair of the season. His hair even tops the bad haircuts in the upcoming “Miami Vice.” Oh well. Guess I’ll have to wait until the “Complete Series” comes out on a single DVD next month.

I’m just too engrossed with “Criss Angel: Mindfreak.” The man is amazing – especially since he can escape a straight jacket in a giant tank of sharks, but he can’t let go of looking like a roadie for Extreme. Does Criss really tour or just hangs out in Vegas parking lots?

BACK HOME

Now that Raw is back on USA, I don’t have a reason to watch Spike. If I want a CSI fix, I’ll just turn on CBS and see a fresh one. I’m already missing Howard Stern on E! Sure they are repeating the old ones, but the strippers seem a little stale. Where’s my piping hot pixilated boobies?

And what happened to Triple H’s boobies during his time off? It’s like he’s taking bodyshaping tips from Ric Flair.

When will Rufus R Jones return to wrestling?

CHEWY FLICKS

Forget DVD, here’s a movie needs to be experienced at a drive-in. This coast-to-coast race flick is amazing in its full cinemascope glory. Enough with the dirty, dingy pan and scan version that aired on TV over the last three decades. This is a clean and confident print that looks as sleek as its high performance cars. The film deals with a rumored illegal race that was also the source for “Cannonball,” a Roger Corman production that came out at the same time and “Cannonball Run” and its sequel. After the long gas lines from the oil embargo and the instituting of the national 55 mph limit, America went to the theater to race vicariously through the cinematic speed demons.

The characters in “Gumball Rally” aren’t as cartoony as Burt, Dom and the all-star gang in “Cannonball Run” films. But the Gumballers do have their hammy sides – especially the late great Raul Julia as Franco, an Italian racing champ. I have fond memories of the trailer with Raul Julia yanking off his rearview mirror and declaring, “Whatsa behind me is not important!” Why wasn’t this part of AFI’s Greatest Movie Lines?

The star of the movie is Michael Sarrazin as Michael Bannon, the host of the “Gumball Rally” and the defending record holder for making it across America in a day and a half. Sarrazin looked like Peter Fonda’s stunt double back in the day. And he was a mid-70s Drive-In Superstar with this film and “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud.” Tarantino better cast him in “Grindhouse.”

The race starts out with fantastic footage of the sports cars zipping around Manhattan. And it’s amazing to see so many dashboards with only AM radios. Of all the films in this genre, “Gumball” is the one you can enjoy with the least amount of guilt in your pleasure.

The only extra on the DVD is a trailer. This is a shame since Sarrazin and others must have freakish tales of driving those expensive cars like a pack of maniacs.

A SECOND DRIVE-IN LAP

There’s also another amazing car flick that just came out on DVD: “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry.” The film stars Peter Fonda as former NASCAR driver who has left the track for a life of crime. He’s driving a getaway Dodge Charger while lawman Vic Morrow burns after him in a helicopter. Susan George plays Dirty Mary and she’s not really that dirty. She doesn’t do anything that would cut it in the world of German videos. She looks clean enough to work in a McDonalds. But the British actress does cut it as a backwoods slut who wants to keep hooking up with Fonda. She wears a denim bikini top that deserves a visit to Jerry Springer. Anchorbay did an amazing job with the DVD. The print glistens. They have a 30-minute background documentary that explains how the second unit director from the Avengers TV series came to America and made a drive-in classic. The key living figures all chat away. There’s also a filmmaker commentary track. But the strangest piece is an ad for the ’69 Dodge Charger where they adapted “Midnight Special” into a sales jingle.

You want an old-fashioned speed demon night, get your hands on “Gumball Rally” and “Dirty Mary Crazy Larry.”

MIDNIGHT BLUE: THE DEEP THROAT SPECIAL EDITION

Blue Underground – June 28, 2005

This is the legendary show that was whispered about across America, but only available on Manhattan cable. Al Goldstein (publisher of Screw) is a great host since he wants to elevate these films to legit status, but he’s a dirty old man hitting on his female guests. Imagine Charlie Rose with a raging libido. Even 30 years later, there’s nothing quaint about this show. It would still widen eyeballs on any cable channel – even in this era of Howard Stern and HBO’s “Real Sex.”

This 2-hour compendium of episodes on this DVD features Al’s interviews with “Deep Throat” related figures – director Gerard Damiano, star Harry Reems, supporting actress Carol Connors and Chuck Traynor, the ex-husband of Linda Lovelace. I haven’t had a chance to see “Inside Deep Throat,” but from all accounts, this is more entertaining.

While Al doesn’t have a commentary track, he gives us a modern perspective with informative subtitles. There are a few shockers among Al’s tidbits. What would be one? That Carol Connors, who played the nurse in “Deep Throat,” is Thora Birch’s mom. I didn’t know that. (Thora’s dad was erotic actor John Birch.) That fact alone was worth the rental. The producer wanted Carol to be the star of “Deep Throat,” but she couldn’t perform the star stunt so she took the supporting role. Although in her interview, she mentions having added that technique to her repertoire.

Reems’ interview is amazing for his future vision of what will happen to the porn film industry with the introduction of home video. He is a naked Nostradamus. He speaks of his court case when he was on trial for his involvement with “Deep Throat.” Traynor’s a weird character since as Lovelace’s husband he’s been accused of being beating her. Traynor’s defense is that they had a BDSM relationship. Either way, the man is creepy. Damiano comes off as a filmmaker instead of merely a slimy mobster tool. Although for a former
hairdresser, he has a hideous wig.

People complain about commercials, but on this DVD set, you will be glued to the screen during the breaks. They didn’t advertise hamburgers on “Midnight Blue.” It’s hilarious how they have to hint what goes on at “leisure spas.” Are we really supposed to believe the naked women are merely giving therapeutic massages and baths? There’s a porn theater letting you know what you can get for $2.49 – “Your best hardcore film bargain!” There’s even an ad for “Synth Coke” that can be had by sending your money to a PO Box in Kittery, Maine. Plus you get to see the pool at Plato’s Retreat. This is a well-rounded view of Manhattan’s carnal underbelly.

The video quality is better than what you’d expect from a mid-70s to 80s cable access show. There are periodic glitches, but nothing that ruins the experience. If you’re interested in the subject of “Deep Throat,” this is essential viewing.



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Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 9/2005

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (September 1, 2005 at 9:56 pm)

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HOLMBY HILLS – Hugh Hefner is the saddest man on TV since Ozzy Osbourne retired from the reality world.

“The Girls Next Door” on E! should be a tribute to the life of the party. Here’s a guy who created his own Playboy Philosophy. This man should have one foot in the grave, but instead he’s climbing into bed with barely legal girlfriends. We should be all jealous that this man who is days away from having Willard Scott wishing him a happy 100 as he bangs his 100th Playmate. But instead, I feel pity for a man trapped in a life that he must maintain in order to pay the bills. Remember that the board of Playboy was in the process of evicting Hef before he turned his Harem of gals into a publicity machine. Long as he can show that his life promotes Playboy enterprises, he validates the millions the company spends to subsidize his lifestyle. If he doesn’t keep up his harem, he’s moving to the Sunshine Assisted Living Community in Arizona.

Maybe Hef is the life of the party, but he doesn’t really expose it on the show. Instead he seems like a feeble gangster that shuffles into court in bathrobe and slippers in an attempt to make things seem out of his control. Each episode, he seems like Ozzy except he gets to molest his troublesome youths. And like the Ozzy, he’s trapped himself in a house filled with shitting yappy dogs owned by his women. If I ever get rich, little yappy dogs will only be in my house so I can feed them to my Siberian Tiger.

We see Hef go out with a bevy of 9 women – girlfriends and Playmates inside the limo. They go out to a fancy restaurant. Instead of taking home a doggy bag, Hef brings his own food to the chef. They even have the instructions sealed in a baggie so the chef won’t smug it. He’s having lampchops in a Japanese joint. And then he gets upset cause his food doesn’t arrive with the gal’s menu items. The whole night seems to be Hef and his harem sealed away from the world. The girls talk of inane crap and Hef bobs his head as if modeling for his spring neck giveaway. There are no other males at the table. And Hef seems trapped in this world carved out by a plastic surgeon’s knife.

Of course we learn that Hef has rules for his women – including a curfew. They must be in the Mansion gates by 9 p.m. – even if it’s not their night to spend in Hef’s bedroom. Hef is a greedy man. Instead of grooming other men to continue his life, he has bodyguards to keep the next Hef in his place. He’d rather tease us with his women than share the love. I think that Dennis, the owner of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch is a better hedonistic role model because he doesn’t flaunt his life and women on “Cathouse.” Dennis lets us know that if we have the cash and manners, we can drop on by his place of business and hook up with his girlfriends – especially the twins. Hef just wants you to buy videos and magazines – don’t touch the flesh! Hef comes off as a sad, yet greedy man. He’s like a miserly antiques collector.

Even the Playboy Mansion seems sad. It’s like a frat house covered in so much crap. Hef’s bedroom is overflowing with piles of books, videotapes and paper on the floor and bed. It looks like my old bedroom. What good is it to have everything and not a decent shelving system? The girlfriends’ rooms look like dorm rooms. And let’s not forget the constant poop from all those yappy dogs. Where’s the fantasy in living in a hellhole?

When I was working at a film archive, I had a fantasy about running movie nights at the Playboy Mansion for Hef. That was a dream job – hanging around the screening room with the ladies hanging off of me. They’d be overwhelmed by my cinematic genius. I’d make them laugh, cry and think with my programming choices. And they’d have to drag me into the grotto to thank me for running “Ponette.” What a wonderful sweet dream of youth that was. Of course the nightmare was that I accidentally run “Star 80” and found myself buried beneath the grotto.

But now I see that the screening room has been taken over by his bleached puppets that want to see Jim Carrey movies that they can’t quite remember the title – not even “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind.” What’s the point of having a massive collection of videos if your harem can be kept happy with TBS cable programming? Lately when I have my harem watching “movie night,” it’s Warner’s Film Noir collection.
Of course my fantasy doesn’t compare to the three girlfriends with their dream of being the next Mrs. Hefner. Or are they mainly fighting to see who will get the seat next to the casket? He’s an old man. Shouldn’t these women really be making moves on Hef’s sons that live next door with the last Mrs. Hefner?

If “The Girls Next Door” teaches us one lesson, it’s this: Give us back our fantasies, Mr. Hefner. Don’t show us what really goes on in the Playboy Mansion because it’s a sad house. It’s one door down from the House of Usher.

HOME OF THE UGLIES

I’ve watched way too many cable show that talk about the fabulous places that hot and beautiful celebrities frequent. How many bars in NY & LA brag about having Scarlett and Ms Lohan and Ashton paying big bucks for their booze? Sure Butter is the hot spot – but what about those who prefer margarine? Where do the ugly celebrities party in the big cities?

Where can I see Abe Vigoda sipping Ripple out of Bea Arthur’s pumps? How about Steve Buscemi dancing on a table with Phyllis Diller and Cloris Leachman stuffing his Speedo with C-notes? Where can yesterday’s sitcom stars mingle with today’s nobodies? How about Aunt Ester shaking her groove thing to Prince’s “Erotic City?”
I plan on opening up a Casino-Hotel in Vegas called “Club Khaki” – home of the bland. We’re going to attract a crowd that just doesn’t want to waste their time looking beautiful. This is a casino where Gene Hackman is the height of fashion. There’s a two shrimp cocktail minimum at our main stage room featuring a Tiny Tim impersonator. And our big suite is named after Robert Davi. Cause he knows ugly stardom.

Ugly is gonna be hot next year. Just look at the pimply and bloated face of Britney Spears. She’s goin’ ugly before it gets too cool and Oprah does a week on it.

PARKED FOR TRAILERS

“Trailer Fabulous” is the second best show this summer – right behind HBO’s “Cathouse: The Series.”
When I first received word of this MTV production, I imagined the worst. And why not – since we are talking MTV – home of the fake reality show called Laguna Beach? But someone in charge of this show decided to make something that’s more entertaining that irritating.

Host Brooks Buford has an out of control Southern charm. Supposedly MTV wanted Kid Rock, but I doubt that the son of a car dealer would give the 110% that Brooks puts out every minute on camera. The man is a showboat powered by Jolt cola. He’s perky and pesky.

Of course Johnny Hardesty is the real star of the show. His long blond hair and Fu Manchu mustache makes him look hillbilly gay instead of Metrosexual. The kinda guy who’d get liquored up on schnapps while listening to Rush and pining for Burt Reynolds of old – not the guy from “Stroker Ace” mind you, but the Burt from “Fuzz.” Johnny’s designs do add speed to the mobile homes. It’s like “Monster House” creations on wheels. His company bio reads: Since moving to New York City from California the last 10 years have been quite an adventure for Johnny Hardesty. He has provided set and production design for several feature films including Super Troopers and Perfume; and his work has appeared in Vogue, Harpers in Queens, Jane, and the Neiman Marcus catalogue. Working for the fashion production company Bureau Betak, he has contributed to several “special events” such as the 50th Anniversary Playboy Party, the Victoria Secret Fashion Show After Party, and Christian Dior at the Frick. 2005 marks the launch of Johnny’s third commercial interior design project: Alexis Bittar’s new up town jewelry store.

The man worked on Super Troopers – that means he might have met Lynda Carter. The man must have melted. After watching a few of the transformations, I wish I lived in a trailer park. But then again, it’s tornado season and you know God loves seeing things on wheels go airborne.

BEAT YOUR CHILDREN

Is MTV’s “My Sweet Sixteen” a good reason why need to revoke all those laws that prevent parents from beating their kids? I can’t help it, but want to smack half of the stuck up teen bitches that get featured on the show. They are spoiled. They are disgusting. They are brats. And they know it and refuse to change. They truly need to receive a beatdown to learn that no matter how much stuff you have in the world, you need to have manners and courtesy. If you can’t treat people properly, you deserve to have your ass tenderized.

If any of these Sweet Sixteen girls were ever knocked over the head with a stray ladder, everyone at home would think, “That bitch had it coming!” It’s kinda like when the jerk owner of the Washington Redskins disclosed he had cancer and the sports world collectively said, “So what?” Do you know how big of a jerk you have to be to get cancer and receive so little sympathy?

I want to create a show where parents take their kids to K-Mart and beat the brats until one million people watching the show call in to the “she’s learned her lesson” hotline number. Or they can text message – there’s more cash in that action.

DVD COUNTDOWN

For the fifth year, the Association of Internet Critics rated the six major studios’ DVD divisions when it comes to their vault releases. Who knows if anyone in Hollywood takes these rankings seriously, but certain people better learn to please their customers or they’ll find themselves looking for work outside Wicked Pictures. So without further ado, let’s make like a VH1 special and countdown.

6. Sony – This has been the fifth straight year that Sony has been ranked at the bottom. This was a label notorious for overcharging on Three Stooges short collections and its love of pan and scan on Cinemascope films. After buying MGM, we expected them to rise up. But instead Sony’s release schedule has been a source of frustration for DVD fans. MGM’s “Midnite Movies Double Features” was the first victim of Sony’s screw ups. The DVDs were supposed to come out as Best Buy exclusives. But they didn’t come out anywhere in America. Fans had to import them from Canada. They finally trickled out in America, but the serious received less than enthusiastic promotion and many fans of these American International Pictures fear the series is at the end of the line. There was going to be a major push of Pink Panthers moves that were tied in with the new Steve Martin movie that MGM produced. Included in the batch was a boxset featuring all the Pink Panther cartoons. The summer was looking pink for collectors. But the folks at Sony took one look at the feature film and delayed its release until February. And they pushed back all the DVDs. Their “Soap” DVDs look like they were transferred off of EP speed VHS tapes from the 80s. Their latest folly is Dean Martin’s “Matt Helm Lounge” boxset. It contained all four of Dino’s spy spoof classics and was due out the first week in August. Then without an explanation, Sony pushed it back until December. This is a company that is clueless when it comes to treating the customer right and is so far behind the pack that fifth place isn’t on the horizon.

5. Paramount – This is a studio that still hasn’t found it’s bearings when it comes to how to work its vault outside of The Godfather and Indiana Jones. There’s a workmanlike attitude on their DVDs. “It’s just a job” seems to be attached to their recent vault releases. The release of Jerry Lewis DVDs could have been a big event if they’d offered some sort of boxset. But instead they sold them all individually so you never knew what to get. It was easier to just put them on the netflix queue than purchase them.

4. Universal – These guys used to rule the roast when it came to quality packaging of their titles. But since the studio was bought by NBC, they’re spending too much time repackaging their major titles. It is nice as a collector to get the complete Classic Monsters collection at a major discount. Their recent Marx Brothers collection was a disappointment since they refused to dig through their vaults to find shorts and newsreels involving the Marx Brothers (something Warners had no problem doing). Lately their focus is putting out TV shows.

3. Fox – While they still have a problem putting together a decent boxset outside of the Aliens collection, they top Paramount because of their willingness to dig up unique extras for titles. Their work on “Laura” was great since they put on the A&E Biographies for Vincent Price and Gene Tierney. It would be nice to see them

2. Disney – Between their Platinum Editions and the Disney Treasures collection, Disney has done an amazing job at giving collectors a reason to enjoy their releases. Plus in the last few years they’ve been aggressively releasing their prime live action titles.

1. Warners – There was once a discussion about Criterion DVDs and how great they were. But I announced that a studio could do without Criterion if they gave a crap about quality. And Warners has accepted the challenge. Since the release of Warners Legends Collection two years ago, the studio has thrilled collectors with themed boxsets that are chocked full of extras and priced low enough that you can’t pass them up. Every month they put out a boxset that is a must buy – Classic Comedies, Marx Brothers, James Dean, Alfred Hitchcock, Controversial Classics, Gangsters, Film Noir and The Thin Man. The folks at Warners understand Packaging, Presentation and Pricing –the essential elements when it comes to appealing to DVD consumers.

BOXSET MANIA

There are so many good boxsets coming up in the next few months that I might have to pawn my collection of Franklin Mint plates that celebrate great porn stars of the 70s. Do you know how much Seka’s First Silk Scarf is worth on ebay? Maybe just enough to cover these desired collections that are begging for shelf space at my Twilinger Estate.

Greta Garbo Signature Collection - Sept 6
This is pretty much all her best sound features (Anna Christie, Mata Hari, Grand Hotel, Queen Christina, Ana Karenina, Camille and Ninotchka), a collection of her silent films (Flesh and the Devil, The Temptress and The Mysterious Lady) and a documentary about her. This is to celebrate the quiet Swede’s 100th birthday, but you get the gift.

Hammer Horror Collection - Sept 6
Universal lumps together all 8 of their Hammer Horror films (Brides of Dracula / Curse of the Werewolf / Phantom of the Opera (1962) / Paranoiac / Kiss of the Vampire / Nightmare / Night Creatures / Evil of Frankenstein) on a 2 DVD set with an amazingly low price. Damn shame other studios won’t package their horror collections this way. I’ve been waiting to see “Werewolf” for a while. Warners is putting out “Dracula AD 1972″ for nearly the same price as this collection. That shall go on my Netflix queue.

Bela Lugosi Collection - Sept 6
This contains five of his non-Dracula roles where he shares the screen with Boris Karloff. The collection is sad in a way since it shows Bela going from a horror superstar to losing his stature to Boris as the films go on. Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray and Black Friday are the spine tingling titles. Hopefully the folks at Universal will start putting out their various horror and sci-fi titles in bulk sets.

Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends Season 3 - Sept 6
Even more episodes of the moose and squirrel. It is amazing to finally get to see the adventures in the proper order. They price these sets to move. Plus they’ve dropped the price on the first two seasons in case you haven’t caught on. The adventures should include Three Moosekateers, Lazy Jay Ranch, Missouri Mish Mash and Topsy Turvy World.

Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection - Oct. 4
This boxset contains all 14 of his films that are controlled by Universal plus a bonus DVD. Supposedly they’ve remastered the various titles so they look better than the original releases. Now the price has dropped so that the 15 discs will cost $85. When the DVDs first came out they were $35. Now I can grab “Torn Curtain” without worrying if it’s really worth the money. Also on the same date they’re putting out the first season of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

Val Lewton Horror Collection - Oct 4
This is what makes Warners the kings of vault DVD at this moment: a tribute given to a guy that the casual AMC viewer is probably clueless about. Who was Val Lewton? The man is a $2,000 answer on “Jeopardy.” For those of you who don’t know, Val was a producer at RKO who oversaw their frightening flicks. He also came up with the scene in Gone With the Wind where the camera rises and we see miles of wounded and dead soldiers. The spooky films included here are Cat People, The Curse of the Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, The Body Snatcher, Isle of the Dead, Bedlam, The Leopard Man, The Ghost Ship and The Seventh Victim. They also have created a documentary on Val called “Shadows in the Dark.” After this boxset, you’ll never forget Val.

Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 3 - Oct. 25
Sixty more shorts and a bunch of bonus features including the Chuck Jones documentary “Chuck Amuck.” This is essential purchasing for a Classic Cartoon fanatic.

Tom and Jerry Vol 2 - Oct 25
This collection will contain a lot of the 1940s adventures of the cat and mouse. There is an intro from Whoopie Goldberg in order for Warners to explain Mammy Two Shoes. Hopefully these won’t be slightly clipped like three of the cartoons on Vol. 1.

Hanna-Barbera Sets - Nov. 15
The First season of Huckleberry Hound, the complete Yogi Bear Series and the 4th season of The Flintstones. This means that you’ll be able to own the complete Snagglepuss. They really should shut down schools to celebrate this moment. You will have so many Yogi Bear episodes that you’ll be tempted to steal your neighbor’s picnic baskets. Plus the Flintstones episodes cover the arrival of Bambam.

King Kong Collection - Nov 22
If you grew up with New York City’s WOR on your cable box, you have fine memories about their Thanksgiving Day marathon of King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young. It was Big Apes that kept us on the sofa along with too much turkey in our bellies (cause the Lions stunk). I so missed not being able to share that experience with my own family. But now I can thanks to this wonderful DVD set - that comes out just before Thanksgiving.

I had a chance to see King Kong on the big screen a few times and it’s still an amazing film. I don’t care what they can do with CGI, Kong still comes alive on the screen.

If only Universal would put out King Kong Vs. Godzilla, the experience would be complete.

Now for the big specs that you are wondering about on this set:

The King Kong: Two-Disc Special Edition will include the 104-minute restored and remastered B&W film on video in its original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include audio commentary (by Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston, with Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Schoedsack, Ruth Rose, Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong), the 2005 I’m Kong: The Exploits of Merian C. Cooper documentary, a gallery of trailers for other films by director Merian C. Cooper, the new RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, Eighth Wonder of the World documentary by Peter Jackson (featuring the following featurettes: The Origins of King Kong, Willis O’Brien and Creation, Cameras Roll on Kong, The Eighth Wonder, A Milestone in Visual Effects, Passion, Sound and Fury, The Mystery of the Lost Spider Pit Sequence and King Kong’s Legacy) and Creation test footage (with commentary by Ray Harryhausen).

The Son of Kong will include the 70-minute restored B&W film on video in the original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include the theatrical trailer.

Mighty Joe Young will include the 94-minute restored B&W film on video in its original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio and English, French and Spanish subtitles. Extras will include audio commentary (by Ray Harryhausen, Ken Ralston and Terry Moore), 2 new featurettes (Ray Harryhausen and The Chioda Brothers and Ray Harryhausen and Mighty Joe Young) and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Did anyone else around here enjoy King Kong vs. Godzilla Thanksgiving on WOR? Can I have a witness?

Matt Helm Lounge – Dec. 6
This was supposed to be in my collection by now. But those goofs at Sony have pushed it back so now it’s a Christmas gift. These four films (The Silencers, Murderers Row, The Ambushers and The Wrecking Crew) feature Dean Martin as secret agent Matt Helm. His cover is as a cheesecake photographer and he seems to hate having to do his primary job. What he loves even more is his booze. There is so much drinking in these films that you’re banned from trying to match him bottle for bottle. Dino actually drinks and drives in his spy station wagon that has a built in wet bar. This boxset should come with a Surgeon General’s warning.

Walt Disney Treasures – Dec 6
This year’s wave features Disney Rarieties: Celebrated Shorts, 1920s – 1960s, The Chronological Donald Duck, Volume 2 (1942 – 1946), The Adventures of Spin and Marty and Legendary Heroes Elfego Baca and The Swamp Fox. The exciting one for me is Elfego Baca since it features movie tough guy Robert Loggia as a Disney hero. What? The old guy who beat the crap out of the lawn guy in the Sopranos once palled around with Walt? Now this makes the whole Orange Juice ad he starred in kinda strange because anyone who hadn’t followed his career would think he was still a nice guy. And the Swamp Fox is Leslie Nielsen in a serious hero role. I guess this means no fart jokes from our favorite Canuck.

TEASER FOR OCTOBER

Tune in next month to read about my work as a producer on America’s Most Wanted.



Comments: None

Joe Corey’s PARTY FAVORS - 8/2005

Posted by Ken in Party Favors (August 1, 2005 at 9:41 pm)

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SAN JOSE, CA – The future of home entertainment is being made here.

Apple has already hinted that the next generation of iPods will feature a video screen and the ability to play music videos. They’re short selling the revolution. Because there’s a big picture in that small white box that’s going to rock Hollywood hard.

The iPod under construction at the moment will be able to store and play 40 hours of video, according to our major mole. And instead of pulling content off Apple’s website to purchase programming, you’ll be able to download shows off Apple’s version of a Digital video recorder that you’ll have at home. It works just like a Tivo. Indeed as a tribute, the programmers informally call the recorder Steve-O.

The iPod players are designed so that you won’t have to watch on the tiny screen. You will be able to plug the unit into your computer, home TV set and car DVD player. People traveling will be able to use a transmitter so they can watch on a hotel TV. This is the same way that you can listen to your musical iPods with your car stereo.

Imagine the possibilities that are lurking in these small devices. A business traveler will be able to hit the road with a week’s worth of shows inside their iPod. They won’t have to buy adult programming in their hotel since they can stash it on the iPod. Parents can just load their kids favorite TV shows and not have to buy various DVDs to stash in the mini-van.

Expect a firestorm to come out of Los Angeles and New York when the potential of this new iPod system hits the trades. Apple guru Steve Jobs is doing his best to keep this info away from Disney as he tries to get Pixar a mega-deal with the Mouse. He’s doing his best to fan the flames of Bit-Torrent as a distraction for Apple’s megavision.

But as our mole is reporting, who gives a rat’s ass about music videos on a 2-inch screen? But how many secretaries would love to be able to secretly watch their soaps while allegedly working? With a little iPod and a compact video projector, you can set up outdoor screenings of Star Wars without much of an effort. Instant drive-in movies are on the way.

What’ll panic Hollywood are plug-ins that will disable the Macrovision so that people can upload their DVDs into the video iPod. The whole economic system will be flipped around again thanks to Steve Jobs.
The funniest thing is that the one rule in the workshop is that the Apple employees can’t use Pixar movies as demos, but Disney titles are fair game.

NO PLAYMATE DELIGHTS

I was hired to PA on a shoot for the new “Girls Next Door” series on E! It’s another reality show except it’s about a few of the ladies that “date” Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy. The episode I was working on involved one of the gals bringing a surprise gift box to her brother and his troops at Ft. Bragg.

I was kinda looking forward to sharing car time with one of Hef’s women. So much I want to know about the man. But the day before the shoot, the bombs went off in London and Ft. Bragg was shutdown to outsiders. Our shoot was canceled. So there are no stories about the Playboy Mansion thanks to terrorists. No accounts of the grotto. And I’m screwed out of a paycheck. When will we win this war against terrorism so I can get to work?

WHERE’S THE PINEAPPLE?

The Violent Femmes played a freebie outdoor show in downtown Raleigh. And it was great to see the original trio back together and belting out nearly all of the tracks from their masterpiece first album. The big disappointment was their refusal to perform the “Spongebob Squarepants” theme. They play it on the DVD! Play it for me! Tell me who live in the pineapple under the sea, Gordon Gano!

SWEATING TO THE OLDIES

You want to know why the outdoor sheds are losing their popularity? We went to see Carol King on her “Living Room” tour. And while she gave an amazing show that led us through her nearly 50 years in music, there was something wrong. The tickets for our back of the venue seats cost $55 each after all the extra charges. And we were sweating like pigs before Carol hit the stage. And the crummy plastic seats were sticking to our legs. Even with the sun setting, it was extra nasty. We tried to sneak onto the hill to catch a breeze, but found ourselves being eaten alive by bugs.

It’s hard to enjoy a show under such circumstances. For $55 I want to be able to focus on the performer and not have to worry about dehydrating. For a quiet evening of music, I want the sweet comfort of air conditioning. Let’s move these shows indoors.

At least we lost five pounds doing “The Locomotion” with Carol. How much would that cost at a Gold’s Gym?

TROPICAL CINEMA

I can’t write a review of “Reel Paradise” since the subject of the movie, John Pierson, is a friend of mine for way too many years to count. John and his wife Janet executive produced both of my short pieces that ran on his “Split Screen” that aired on IFC. So there’s no way I can give an objective opinion about this documentary about how John took his wife, son and daughter to Fiji to help him live his dream of running a movie house.
The film opens this month at the IFC Center in Manhattan. I had a chance to see it in Durham at the Full Frame Festival. If you like movies about cinema, culture clashes and tropical islands – go!

I found it fascinating to get a peek into the lives of friends. It was great to see how they interact with their kids during their final month of running a movie house. But Steve James hasn’t constructed a fancy home movie. There’s a real story to tell about how a remote cinema on an island in Fiji affects the locals. How John’s simple joke in the LA Times about the locals worshipping Curly from the Three Stooges as a god turns into a feud with the church. Director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) gets underneath so many of the issues. This is “The Swiss Family Robinson” meets “Last Picture Show.” And he gets an amazing narrative element out of the film since on James’ first night, the family returns home to discover that someone broke into their house and stole their computer. So we get this great criminal mystery with the threat that the thief will strike again. We aren’t allowed to view the island as safe.

There are a lot of laughs in the movie. My favorite moment is a bunch of kids from Temple University who show up to screen their student films. And we learn that even in the most remote part – people aren’t starving enough for entertainment to watch student films.

You’ll learn that people in Fiji can’t get enough of Queen Latifah and The Rock. If someone teamed them up, it’d be the biggest film ever in Fiji. And after the film, you might want to visit Fiji. But John won’t be going back with you – there’s another mystery that gets exposed in the film.

John invited me to visit him in Fiji before he left, but I couldn’t make it down. After watching the “Reel Paradise,” I felt like I had dropped in on them. This is my pick of the month!

GOOD BYE TV GUIDE

Starting in October, TV Guide will turn into any other magazine on the rack. They’re going to make it normal magazine size. They’re going to quit publishing the listings for your local TV stations. There will just be an Eastern and Western edition.

Normally I’d sit here and whine about an end to an era, but I never bought TV Guide. We would get a weekly TV schedule in the newspaper. And now I have digital cable so with the press of a button, I get instant info as to what’s on and what’s coming up. The magazine meant about as much to me as “Oprah the Magazine.”

And after Rupert Murdoch bought the magazine, it turned into way too many plugs for Fox programs – even Fox movies. The covers no longer gave a sense of what’s truly happening at the moment. Instead it became an excuse to run multiple covers for an X-men movie special.

The nice part about Murdoch owning the magazine is that he bought it when it was going for $90 a share and now it trades for $3. Billions of dollars were vaporized on Wall Street. Only way he would have lost more money was investing with Bill O’Reilly on a Falafel chain.

I did get a little bit of my writing published in TV Guide when I wrote the description blurbs for “Rob and Bill’s Talkshow.” But they never allowed me to publish my fan fiction about the Golden Girls.

So goodbye classic TV Guide. You’ll never be missed as long as people reach under the cushions of their sofas.

TRIO ON ICE

I’ve been enjoying the Late Night with David Letterman reruns on Trio. When did Dave turn into a retread superstar suck up? Also it’s been nearly 9 months since NBC-Universal stopped letting Trio buy new shows. Has there ever been a cable channel stuck in this position? It stinks since this is on my Top 10 of stations. I heard a rumor that NBC might want to turn the channel into a Classic Movie station with Universal’s vault – this also includes Paramount’s pre-1948 titles.

And has “The Secretary” turned into Oxygen’s version of Lifetime’s “Burning Bed?” Everytime I graze by the channel, Maggie is getting tied down. Which isn’t a bad thing.

WOULD HAVE BEEN GREAT

The great Jackie Earle Haley should have played a strip club owner in the remake of “The Bad News Bears.” What other job would we have expected Kelly Leak to take when he grew up? Shame they didn’t do this casting because the film would have been a hit. At least it would have sold one more ticket last week.

FOXY 25

For the 25th time, Neil Cavuto has read one of my letters on Fox News! He even let me call him an economic Chamberlain for thinking the Chinese pose no threat to our pocketbooks.

SUMMER BUMMER

Summer is almost over for today’s school kids and they won’t have a catchy summer tune to remember 2005 by. This is a disgrace. This is the second summer in a row that we’re not sick of a catchy pop tune that clobbers us at the beach. What is the problem with the music industry? You are allowing a generation of kids to live without something they’ll feel nostalgic about in five years.

I blame Andrew Lack at Sony/BMG. He’s killing music in his soundproof office.

REFUSE THE DUKES

Like last year’s “Starsky and Hutch,” I will see “Dukes of Hazzard” when it comes to HBO. This film’s trailer is painful. Jessica Simpson looks like she was auditioning for a “Schindler’s Lust.” She has lost way too much weight. And why is a Duke wearing a Led Zep t-shirt? This movie is pathetic on all counts. But at least it gave Burt Reynolds work.

WHY THE LONG FACE, DONKEY?

Recently Dreamworks and Pixar have learned that their sales projections on DVDs for their CGI animated blockbusters were flawed. They had high numbers forecasted for back-to-back quarters. But the second quarter was a bust. And they paid the price on their spreadsheets and stock prices with five million copies of “Shrek 2” and one million copies of “The Incredibles” being returned to the warehouse. And now these companies are publicly scratching their MBA beancounter heads wondering, “What happened?”

So I ask Pixar and Dreamworks: Do you really want to know why your “blockbuster” family DVDs aren’t selling months after their release? Why nearly 80 percent of your total sales take place in the first two weeks? How much is a studio willing to pay for such sensitive information? I’m going to give it away for free so brace yourself for a hard scientific fact that my crack team of researchers discovered after thousands of hours of focus groups and data crunching: Consumers have learned that new DVDs are cheaper on the first week they come out. And they take advantage of that benefit.

I bought “The Incredibles” the Tuesday it debuted at a Circuit City. They had it priced $14.99 – nearly half off the suggest retail price (SRP) of $29.99. And they threw in a mini-basketball covered with Incredibles characters. Right now I can buy the DVD from the same store for $22.99 without a ball. What’s the point of being a second quarter stooge for the studio?

Why does Hollywood expect a majority of the public to refrain from grabbing a blockbuster they want in the first week? Why do they think sales will be steady and long range on major titles?

Perhaps they are too busy treating DVDs like theatrical releases or music CDs when they consult their projection graphs that show millions of sales over the long haul. But this is a different commercial animal. The heavy promotional work for a title was done during its theatrical run four to six months back. People have been exposed to trailers, specials and various infotainment programs featuring Mary Hart and Billy Bush. By the time a DVD is released, the average viewer knows the score of a blockbuster (we’re not talking about small arthouse flicks that might not have made it into a medium sized town). Does Hollywood think the person interested in spending $20 on Will Smith’s “Hitch” has no clue about the film? That somehow from the day it debuts on DVD, a consumer will slowly get conscious of the title and end up with the craving to buy it a few months later? Why does a studio’s marketing wizard predict that two months after the DVD comes out, a hoard of consumers will get the hankering to buy “Hitch” for $7 more? A bump in sales months after the initial release has a name: Christmas.

A blockbuster DVD is not like an album that picks up steam as it becomes more popular with increased radio airplay. These films are still a year away from being aired nightly on TNT or USA. Their popularity relies on their theatrical audience. So the buzz does not build in a traditional sense.

DVDs are not like movies. The water cooler chatter about a film normally leads to workers making a trip to the movie theater. But office talk about a movie on DVD will lead to coworkers merely renting the title. And sometimes your co-worker will loan you the title after they blabber on about how great it is. This is what Hollywood fears the most – a circulation process that doesn’t involve them earning any coin.

The success of Netflix has cut into the causal DVD purchaser. In the early years of DVDs (back in the late 90s) some people purchased hot titles because if they forget to return the shiny disc, Blockbuster’s late fees were more than paying retail for it. Netflix said, “take as much time as you need – long as you pay your monthly membership fee. And this factors into kids titles. When I visit friends with youngsters, I notice they’ll use one of the three titles for a major family film. The kids watch the film nearly continuously for a week and get burned out on it. Then the parent swaps it out for another movie the kid is whining to see. They aren’t actively buying these titles because like their child’s pants, they outgrow them. Why let them pile up with the baby toys?

The studios and retailers are dealing with the limited shelf space. This is one of the culprits for the massive returns because your local Wal-Mart can’t have 10 giant displays of blockbuster films sitting around the store for three months. Everyone wants to maximize volume in a limited floor space. The discussion should include the limited shelf space of the consumers. Not everyone has the library space of a Gatsby. The consumers that would have picked up a blockbuster DVD without a second thought a few years ago; are a bit more cautious because their living rooms are overwhelmed. Their bookcases have become clogged. Their wives are sick of piles of black boxes piling up on the floor and under the bed. Nobody enjoys the moment when their spouse holds up a bunch of DVDs and asks, “Are you ever going to watch this, again?”

A major factor in the decline of blockbuster DVD purchases is a simple one: too many of these popcorn movies stink. If someone felt burned after paying $10 to see a film in the theater, why would they spend $25 to bring the experience home? Are the bonus features really going to make you realize “Surviving Christmas” was a misunderstood work of genius? Who really wants to own “Van Helsing?” Maybe people are curious about a film that was putrid like “Catwoman.” But they’re going to rent (or wait for HBO). Some people might dream of a career in politics and don’t need to explain why they have a copy of “Bewitched” in their house. To inspire someone to own a title, they have to have affection for the movie. And if a studio is expecting people to grab a DVD on an impulse, it has to be priced within the “what the heck” range. Wal-Mart doesn’t stock their diamonds in the checkout counter rack with the gum and batteries. So once the price goes up, the curiosity index wanes.

People have also learned that if they are semi-interested in getting a DVD for their collection, they can wait six months or so and pick them up on the used shelf at Blockbuster as part of a 3 for $25 deal. And the studios will lower the price on DVDs still wrapped in plastic. When Universal put out “Lost In Translation,” the SRP was $26.98. Now it can be picked up new for under $10. Those who wait, pay less.

How come the braintrust at Pixar and Dreamworks can’t understand that consumers have learned that if they really want a film in their collection – buy it the first week? Even if a viewer doesn’t have time that week to watch it, what’s the point of not buying it when it comes out? It’s not like the DVD is going to spoil sitting on the shelf unwrapped. It’s not going to get any cheaper (in the next six months).

The studios will probably spend millions to discover what I’ve told them for free. But if by chance an executive reads this and decides to accept my truths instead of wasting time on a think tank, please pay in cash and not promo DVDs.

WHO’S WAR IS IT?

I’m watching Hanna-Barbera’s “Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines: the Complete Series” and I can’t quite figure out who is the pigeon working for. In the middle of an episode, the members of Vulture Squadron are promised a vacation if they stop the pigeon. They want to go to Miami Beach and Hawaii. Now if we’re to believe that the pigeon is American, why are the enemies taking holidays in America?

I wonder if this cartoon was about corporate espionage? Perhaps pigeon worked for a military industrial complex? They never seemed to encounter any battles on the ground.

This cartoon took place in the middle of the Vietnam War when there was plenty of money to be made providing the latest weapons. So maybe that was the key to the conflict.

No matter what the reality, Muttley still rules.

BOXSET-MANIA

When Deepdiscountdvd had their 20% off sale, I found myself grabbing a bunch of boxsets. “The Tarzan Collection Starring Johnny Weissmuller” collects his MGM loincloth classics. I remember catching these flicks on Sunday afternoon TV. And they are freakish in their approach to Africa. The midget tribe that attacks them in the first film must be experienced. There’s great documentary giving insight to the creation of the characters, the films and the legend of Johnny.

“Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection” has most of her movies worth collecting (only major title missing is “Some Like It Hot” which is out by MGM). It has a great bonus of a documentary on the making of her uncompleted final film, “Something’s Gotta Give.” Plus they cut together all the footage to give us a 40-minute peek at what Ms. Monroe and Dean Martin were up to. Plus you get to see the cut scenes from “Seven Year Itch.” This is a great way to understand the icon that is Marilyn.

“Elvis Presley: The Signature Collection” puts together six of his 31 features. Seeing how Paramount hasn’t put out the truly legendary Elvis boxset (GI Blues, Blue Hawaii and Fun in Acapulco) this will make due for now. At least it has “Viva Las Vegas.” No bonus features though.

“Lidsville” had the Krofft brothers showing us a world inhabited by hats with legs. It’s as freaky as it sounds with a teenage Eddie Munster battling Charles Nelson Riley. Don’t watch this sober!

“The Fantastic Films of Ray Harryhausen” features his non-Sinbad titles. Ray is one of those amazing figures who put his stamp on a movie with his special effects without directing. Who directed “Mysterious Island?” Don’t know. But you know Ray did the effects. Each title has a bunch of bonus features.

“Don Knotts: The Reluctant Hero 4 Pack” gives us the premiere thespian at his peak. Can anything top Don as “The Love God?” They just don’t rerun these enough.

“On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Collection” puts their first four “Road to” movies on a single flip disc. Good international cheesy fun is in store. It’s nice to see two comics that knew how to give each other the business without being complete pricks.

“Wonder Woman: Season Three” completes the series. It’s sad that Lynda Carter didn’t fall on hard times and have to make Cinemax After Dark Eurocore. She was so hot making this series.

“WWE Greatest Wrestling Stars of the 80s” reminds us that Bob Backlund was the pastiest wrestler of all time. My favorite moment was getting to watch the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling matches at the WRAL studio. When I was a youngster, my dad took us a couple times to sit in the peanut gallery and watch the matches with legends like Paul Jones, Tony Atlas, Black Jack Mulligan and Ric Flair. And once I thought he didn’t love me.

THE REALITY OF FAKE TV

Are we supposed to believe that “Laguna Beach” is a documentary on these spoiled brats? This show is about as real as MTV’s classic “Undressed.” I still have fond memories of staying up all night watching marathons of “Undressed.” When is that show coming out on DVD? Although I’ve just shocked myself by seeing there are 222 episodes. Wow. That means if it was a regular series, it would have been on the air for a decade. That’s a lot of people getting slightly naked in hot tubs. That’s a lot of boxsets to complete the series. But I’m up for the gig if they are!

I barely watched four minutes of “Laguna Beach” before I had to just give up on it. The camera angles and the lighting were better than “CSI.” There’s no way the production crew is merely following these kids and capturing their lives. They’re actors. They’re recreating what they think their life is like. This show is as fake as “The O.C.” except MTV doesn’t have to pay for Peter Gallagher’s eyebrow wrangler.

“Hogan Knows Best” is also on my fake list. This show is about a believable as Hulk Hogan’s wrestling moves. It’s a low budget sitcom. I didn’t quite understand why Hulk would want to put a tracker on his daughter’s car when she went on a date with an older guy. Sure the average dad should be nervous when his 16 year-old pop tart goes to the zoo with a 22 year-old mechanic. But the couple had a camera crew in the car. Did Hogan really expect the grease monkey to take his daughter’s virginity in front of a camera? Granted it would have been good test footage for her career in porn.

At least Hulk isn’t as creepy about his singing daughter as Joe Simpson. Can I just mention that since Scott Sartiano has been linked to Ashlee Simpson, he’s not longer my idol. That’s a downgrade. The only way Scott is going to get back into the Party Favors Pantheon of Studs is to hook up with Milla Jovovich. I want to make a movie with Milla– so bad. Actually I want to make a film where she goes up against Asia Argento. They’ll playing two young witches looking to take over a coven in Europe. That’s all I’m going to say for now.

And later Hulk gets upset since his son was locked his bedroom door while studying with a gal. Did I mention that he also locked the camera crew in his bedroom? There’s a fraud going on in reality TV and it’s a damn shame that there’s nobody trying to expose these shows. Ultimately they are a cheap way to make sitcoms with topics that would normally get clipped by the censors. But because they are presented as “reality,” we can show an open condom on the air.

And speaking of cheap reality, why didn’t anyone in Austin, Texas just run a herd of cattle through the Real World House? This show has touched bottom. The kids aren’t hot anymore. Did they decide to cast the kids who think they look beautiful? They just want to get drunk, fight and screw. And even worse – this house is pathetic. There is not one element that you’d want to recreate at home. At least I’m out of the target demographic – and proudly.

I would like to retract all my statements about having a torrid affair with “The First Supermodel” Janice Dickinson. After seeing the first few episodes of “The Surreal Life” with her in the cast, I’ve realized this a fantasy is a nightmare. This woman has more mood swings than a bus full of Liza impersonators. There’s a self-centered meanness that would kill the effect of a Viagra bottle. Sure the Vegas hotel would be trashed, but for all the wrong reasons. I’d like to apologize to my wife for publicly suggesting that Janice would be a fun fling. I should wash my brain with Lava soap from having such thoughts. Janice makes Omarosa look sane. Although that Caprice might be worth a weeknight in Reno – has she ever heard Caesar sing?



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