Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Mad Men of May

This just in... I heard from a source today that AMC's cult hit Mad Men -- a show from Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner which is poised to become the same kind of watercooler hit for today -- will begin production of its third season on May 1 in Los Angeles.

No news yet on the Season 3 premiere date, but it's earlier been said to be "Summer 2009."  (Which means that, despite the network's and studio Lions Gate's original reluctance to pay Weiner what he's worth for this influential hit, it looks like we're actually back on track without appreciable delay.  Thank you, God and Don Draper!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

What is Claudia Jordan thinking?

On last night's Celebrity Apprentice, former Deal or No Deal suitcase rack Claudia Jordan lost out on any further chances of sucking up to The Donald while ostensibly earning a check for charity.  But not before delivering some choice insults to her teammate (and my fellow Penn grad) Melissa Rivers.

Now for one thing, let's pretend, just for a moment, that this show really is anything like corporate America.  (After all, Dennis Rodman continues to show up at work drunk and surly, while other, more competent people, get fired.  Yep, that sounds about right.)  It's never smart to gossip about a co-worker, because you KNOW your words are going to get around.  And to do it on camera?  Even more not-smart.

But here's the dumbest move of all:  picking on Joan Rivers' offspring.  An attache-case model entering into a war of words with a quick-witted legend like Joan?  That's like walking into a gunfight with only a water pistol... made of spun sugar.  I kept saying to Frank, "ooh, wait 'til Joan gets back.  She's gonna GET it...!"  But then, unfortunately, Claudia was sent off to the safety of that waiting losers' cab.
I can't wait to see what mincemeat mama lioness Joan makes of those who continue to cross her sweet Melissa!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guiding Light goes to Orlando

All this week, CBS' long-running soap, the 72-year-old Guiding Light, has been getting some sunlight of its own. 

Far from both its New York soundstage and the town of Peapack, NJ, where the show shoots several days a week to capture real-life exteriors, much of the cast has spent the week at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL, for a storyline in which Lizzie Spaulding drags family and friends on a theme park vacation.

At both parks, as well as at the resort's Royal Pacific hotel, fans have gathered to watch their longtime favorite soap actors in this whole new setting.  Filming ends today -- but it's not over.  Tomorrow, Saturday March 21, the cast will be appearing in the main park's Mardi Gras parade, and will also be doing autograph signings at the park from 11AM - 5 PM.  For more information click here for the signing schedule, or call the park's information line at 407-360-8000.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Fake (and how Boring) is this year's Celebrity Apprentice?

On Sunday night's installment of the Celebrity Apprentice, the 14 remaining contestants, on the Athena (women's) and KOTU (men's) teams, were tasked with selling wedding dresses.

It would seem like a task MADE for Dennis Rodman (who ended up being a no-show on the big day, much to Tom Green's chagrin).  And that would seem to make it guaranteed interesting TV.

But that's the problem with this celebrity installment.  As a hater of most reality shows, I used to herald The Apprentice as an exception, because it seemed to impart some actual business lessons (or at least office common sense) to its contestants, who were presented with challenges where their business plan and its subsequent results really matter.

Here, on the Celebrity version, it's all about who you know.  Don't feel like really selling those cupcakes?  Call a famous friend to send you a big fat check.  Not into the wedding gown thing?  Call Girls Gone Wild producer Joe Francis, who'll be happy to fork over 5 grand for a bit of national publicity.  At these (tax-deductible, since it's "for charity") prices, it's TV's biggest advertising bargain.

As a result, no contestant really needs to know anything, or really follow the directions of the task at hand.  Why bother even designing your wedding dress showroom if you know you're just going to hit up other celebs for donations anyway?  And the show suffers as a result.  It's fun to watch Joan Rivers peddle cupcakes.  It's not fun to watch Clint Black man his cell phone.

And here's the other part that bugged me on Sunday night.  We all know that those cab rides at the end, with the "fired" contestant, are faked, right?  That seems like a concession for TV, to give the Fired One time to confess his or her sins.  But on Sunday, here's what happened:  Tom Green overslept/spent time banging on Rodman's hotel room door, whichever version you believe.  As a result, the rest of the KOTU team left in the van without them.

When Tom did step out of the hotel, another van awaited, and he rode alone down to the showroom.  Now here's the thing.  The hotel (which by the way -- they used to stay in Trump Tower.  Since when have they been at the Trump International building, as shown this year?) is on Columbus Circle, on the west side.  The wedding dress showroom was also on the west side.  As far as I could tell, it was in the low 20s; restaurant Elmo, where Rodman and Herschel Walker stop for drinks "in the neighborhood," is at 20th St. & 7th Ave.

So if Tom Green's van was traveling from the hotel to the showroom, straight down the west side, what possible route could have taken it past the distinctive blue facade of 150 E. 42nd Street, which is on the east side between Lexington and 3rd Aves.?  (I'd know that building anywhere -- I worked there for 7 years.)  Something's fishy about that whole thing.  It seems like Tom's van ride was staged, just like those end-of-show confessional cabs.  NBC, what gives?