Tag Archives: Neil Patrick Harris

Rocky Horror Glee Show

There are some things that I’ll never understand.

I don’t get the fascination people have with reality television and celebretards. Nor do I get why there have been seventy-six editions of the Now That’s What I Call Music series to date, with no sign of stopping.

I also don’t understand how the CD releases from Glee have sold over five million copies so far, presumably to the same people who watch the show religiously. They’re simply collections of cover songs, organized by theme or artist, marketed to the same people who watch the show and buy the DVDs. (And Gleeks, you know that you are buying the DVDs and all the CDs.) Television hasn’t sold music this well since The Monkees.

The songs are well produced and arranged, of course, and the vocals are usually very good but (1) they’re usually straightforward covers, not reinvented arrangements and (2) the thrust of the show is the melodramatic, over-the-top theatrical production surrounding it. You’re not capturing that on an audio CD.

But I soon might have to make an exception.

 In October, Glee will broadcast a Rocky Horror Show episode. After wading through terrible rap tunes, Lady GaGa drivel, overblown Journey crap and an entire episode of Madonna dreck (saved only by the brilliant Jane Lynch performing “Vogue“), I’m thrilled that the majestic, fantastic Richard O’Brien opus will get its due. Hell, thirty five years later it’s still an iconic classic whose songs never fail to get me going…high praise after dozens of post-midnight screenings with props and audience participation.

The full track listing for  ”Glee: The Music, The Rocky Horror Glee Show” is as follows:

  1. Science Fiction Double Feature
  2. Damn It, Janet
  3. Whatever Happened To Saturday Night?
  4. Sweet Transvestite
  5. Touch A Touch A Touch A Touch Me
  6. There’s A Light (Over at Frankenstein Place)
  7. Time Warp

Glee has had three consecutive number one album releases and I suspect this will be their fourth. Hell, I might even have to break down myself and grab one.

I think my cat is reading my diary.

Meantime, tonight I will survive an onslaught of Britney Spears horse shit just for the ability to see the incredible Heather Morris (who plays Brittany, the dimmest bulb on television) get her turn in the spotlight. That should hold me over until Neil Patrick Harris returns for another guest spot.

Admittedly, my initial enthusiasm for the show has waned, but Lynch and Morris are consistently funny and the dynamic between gay Kurt and his dad (Mike O’Malley in a flawless performance) is some of the best work on TV, period.

And please…can Tim Curry make an appearance on October 26th?

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Emmy Time for Neil and Betty

Statue of Limitations

Don’t ask me why they give out four acting Emmys during a ceremony called the Creative Arts Emmy Awards, when the separate ceremony is supposed to be for technical, writing and production categories. Maybe they don’t think these creative folks have enough appeal?

You can watch the entire ceremony this Friday afternoon on E Entertainment Television from 1-3pm EDT. The main Emmy ceremony will be broadcast next Sunday night.

But since the cat is out of the bag, congratulations to Neil Patrick Harris and Betty White! Harris actually won two awards; one for hosting the Tony Awards and another for Guest Actor in A Comedy for his great stint on Glee. He can hit the trifecta if he wins for Supporting Actor in a comedy for How I Met Your Mother.

Amazing that the kid from Doogie Howser has become such an incredibly well-rounded talent. He can do anything. If you doubt me, get a copy of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Case closed.

And what more can be said for and about Betty White? As if her legendary comedic work on television wasn’t enough to cement her reputation, this past year she made one of the most memorable guest host appearances in Saturday Night Live history. Livened up a couple of commercials, too.

Sure, SNL may have gone for easy laughs by writing one skit after another where an eighty-year old cursed a blue streak. But for a show that has stumbled badly in the past few years, repeatedly milking inane characters like Gilly that weren’t even funny the first time, her episode was a wall to wall knockout.

Congrats also to the other two acting winners for guest spots – John Lithgow and the still stunning Ann-Margaret. It’s great to see that television hasn’t forgotten that acting chops don’t disappear when you turn thirty-five.

Emmy website

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It’s Not Easy Being Yellow

Sesame Street

Would...you be...my neighbor? (Oops, wrong show...)

If you think it’s not easy being green, imagine how hard it is to be yellow! Carol Spinney has been playing the part of Big Bird since Sesame Street debuted on television forty years ago today. You may not realize that Spinney started playing the character while in his mid-30s, so the guy lifting that five-pound head with his arm is still doing it in his 70s (and no doubt he could whip you at arm-wrestling as well). Just one of the thousands of tidbits that will no doubt flood the Internet today as we celebrate and appreciate the program.

Sesame Street probably did as much to promote Public Television as those channels did to promote the show, a landmark exercise in combining educational television with entertainment. I was just old enough to be above their target demographic, although later on I’d come to appreciate the many adult moments the show offered (see below). I don’t know anyone today who grew up in the era who doesn’t have fond memories of watching the program.

Big Bird reading

A couple of generations ago most kids had two parents, and one of them was usually home. Mom or Dad could read to them and teach them the alphabet and how numbers worked so when they went off to school it wasn’t as intimidating. But over time the divorce rate started skyrocketing and many households suddenly needed two earners, and time with children became a precious commodity. When Sesame Street came along, for once sitting a kid in front of a television as a babysitting exercise wasn’t a bad thing.

But watching the show with your kids had greater benefits. Eventually, along with basic math and reading skills came life lessons, presented in a way that children could understand and discuss with their parents.

The Count

What imagination went into these characters and the program. Although never the most popular, my favorite was always The Count. That probably explains why I love Greg The Bunny as much as I do. (“Don’t turn this into Abbott and Costello, kid!“)

I also grew to like the human characters who interacted with the Muppets, like Gordon and Susan and Bob, and the list of celebrities who guested is staggering. As a result, just like with Rocky and Bullwinkle and the Road Runner cartoons, Sesame Street has a lot to offer adults, too. Like…

Sesame Street cast

Today’s column was brought to you by the letters D, R and B.

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Emmy (See if I got this straight…)

Doogie nailed it.

Doogie nailed it.

Here’s the list of nominees and winners. I was a miserable 6 of 18 on my predictions, but there were a few upsets. So, attention DVR People – my comments below include spoilers! Now I’ll wait a minute while those people leave the room and seat-fillers take their place…  

Gone? Okay…cue my theme music!

Let’s hear it for the boy! Doogie was great – killing it with an opening number that was acerbic and funny (and props to him for immediately crediting the writers – Scott Wittman and Mark Shaiman from Hairspray) and keeping things moving pretty briskly. Made some great quips and dished out some kudos where and when appropriate without being fawning. Great running gag (with Jon Cryer, among others) after not winning for Supporting Actor, which several critics apparently took seriously. The retort to Academy President John Schaffner in the audience after the latter gave him an Emmy pin (“Yeah, that helps.”) was hilarious. Only the extended “best seat in the house” gag got tired. But really, how can you possibly dislike the guy? He must have a Q rating off the charts. (And if you thought that bit where he breathlessly rattled off the list of networks was great, watch this !)

And speaking of the Harlem Globetrotters – the only time that tired gag was really funny – it was good to see the Washington Generals of the Apple ads get his night. While Justin Long had to sit complacently next to Drew Barrymore, his partner in those hilarious commercials, John Hodgman,  got to zing one-liners from the booth. Between serious voice-overs (“This is her first win and her second nomination“) he peppered the audio with absurdly funny comments (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart is celebrating its 76th year on the air. It began on Comedy Central Radio as Stewart-Brand Chicken-Fat All-Star Baked Beans Half Hour. This is their 900th Emmy, and frankly, that’s too much“). Likewise, Harris often introduced nominees by “obscure” credits from their resumes.

The tables have turned.

The tables have turned.

Splitting the show into segments. Very good idea, albeit risky. Of course, they always have to start out strong to keep the audience from flipping, so Comedy was the appropriate leadoff hitter. Exhausting that category so soon risked weakening the overall show but they pulled it off. Better yet, getting to fast-forward through the Reality segment kept the projectiles off my screen and the vomit off my floor. After last year’s program, where TV almost killed its own Golden Goose by kissing the ass of the most unreal programming on television, can you blame me for avoiding that train wreck of a category? (And please explain how American Idol was included within the “Reality” part of the program, but then the director won in the “Variety” category?)

Three cheers also for the set. The theatre is amazing, and the versatile set was configured to expose the composition of the evening like peeling the skin off the skeleton. The band out of the pit, the production booth in view upstage, the host actually able to host from a designated location. Aside from one obvious technical glitch – which Ricky Gervais turned into gold, of course – the show ran very smoothly.

The mood of the show was also interesting. Fairly egoless – our host was a big part of that. Almost everyone got through their lines and cues without issue, and for the most part the presenters and recipients avoided the usual politicking (Washington and Hollywood) that the Oscars seem to bring in droves. There weren’t enough performance clips for my taste – sometimes none at all – and the gimmick about asking some of the non-performer nominees mostly fell flat because some took it seriously while others didn’t (the clip of the night was from Conan O’Brien’s show, where he predicts “YouTube, Twitter and Facebook will merge to form one super time-wasting Web site called YouTwitFace.”)

And thanks to the network for not picking up that ridiculous gimmick that Fox dropped on us recently where the lower third of the screen is filled with scrolling tweets. Die in Hell for that one, television. Isn’t it enough that you pander to wannabe celebretards by cramming as many of these unreal crapfests onto the air in place of creative and scripted programs? Now you have to let couch potatoes try to tweet their way onto the screen so they can – I dunno – tweet their friends that their tweet was broadcast? (That’s like a snake eating its tail, right?) Then you’ll complain that no one could follow the plot of your show.

Neil Patrick Harris Dr Horrible

Best surprise – an appearance by Dr. Horrible, which was perhaps not as funny for people who have not seen the hilarious webisodes starring Harris, Nathan Fillion and Felicia Day.  Of course, the irony that the program was created on the Internet during the writer’s strike and aired without any network or commercial involvement was probably also too subtle as well. But why fret about those who can’t appreciate it, knowing the zeitgeist of 2009 somehow justifies Leighton Meester and Brooke Lively walking on the same stage as Glenn Close and Bob Newhart? (And folks,  Nathan Fillion rules.)

I always get a little verklempt during the In Memoriam segment anyway, but really – bringing Sarah McLachlan out to drive a nail through my heart? Was that necessary? If you’ve been to a memorial service in the past decade you know that song is as requisite as Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” at a wedding reception…and I experienced both within twenty-four hours this weekend. (She did nail the performance, though).  Maybe a good career move for her, since the last few times I’ve seen her on television she’s been asking me to save abused pets. But between those ads and that song, she’s unquestionably the reigning Debbie Downer.

Eat, already!

Eat, already!

Kristin Chenoweth squeaked and squirted so much during her crying jag that the high-pitched whine probably killed one of Mickey Rourke’s dogs. I was surprised by her win, but she is talented (Wicked on Broadway? Girl, please!) and now can hopefully afford to buy a sandwich. She was the first person that said “this is really heavy” when holding the Emmy Award that I believed. Really – the girl makes Olive Oyl look fat. Great bit pimping for jobs on Mad Men and 24 now that her show is cancelled.

Ricky Gervais. Pure freakin’ gold. I don’t know if he could keep up that pace for the entire program, but I’d sure like to watch him try. As solid as Neil Patrick Harris was – and he was very good – Gervais has the fastest mind I’ve seen since Robin Williams in his prime. Combine that with a self-deprecating attitude and a bold disregard for convention (I’m willing to go there, and don’t care what you think about it) and you get both humor and unpredictability. He is, as the Brits say, brilliant.

"We fixed the glitch"

"Fixing the glitch"

Comedy WTF Award: Toni Collette. Really? Really?? I’ll bet more people lost betting on Tina Fey than the ones betting on these guys or them or (sniff!) them. I remember hearing about The United States of Tara being scheduled but that’s the last time I heard it mentioned. Tina Fey might be getting so many accolades that there’s a backlash, but she was funnier than ever this year. But she nailed the guest appearance as Sarah Palin and won that Emmy as expected, plus having 30 Rock win was probably more satisfying, since it works because it’s an ensemble piece. (Well, more satisfying to me, anyway.)

Loved Brian’s Emmy vote. “Suit up!”

Perhaps it was because they front loaded the comedy, but after all those overt verbose kudos to Lorne Michaels,I figured he either was quietly diagnosed with inoperable cancer or owns a scrapbook with incriminating photos of everyone he’s ever worked with. (Probably it’s just that he’s a nice guy).

There were some repeat winners I can’t argue with – Jon Stewart, Alec Baldwin – they deserve the accolades. Happy to see Michael J. Fox snag a Guest Actor win for Rescue Me; it reminded me of some shows and people who got overlooked entirely.

Really Mad Men

Really Mad Men

Drama kudos: Bryan Cranston. I figured that Jon Hamm would walk off with it as Mad Men gets a lot of Emmy love, but Cranston is unbelievable in his role and well deserving. Can’t knock the win by Michael Emerson, either – here’s a guy who was so good that a guest spot on Lost was transformed into the central character on the show. But I wish the voters showed the love to Aaron Paul, Cranston’s co-lead on Breaking Bad, who had a (ahem) breakout year.

And speaking of breakouts…WTF was up with that “breakout moment of the year” polling? Those were the three most transcendent moments on television this year? Really? Did they limit the voting to people under the age of twelve? Not only was the gimmick itself distracting and juvenile, but the impact was…well, what’s the opposite of buzzworthy?

Some good presenter moments, too. Jimmy Fallon’s dance injury bit was great. Justin Timberlake after Sarah Silverman’s moustache shot (“That’s what hormones will do“). Ken Howard (The White Shadow!!) hoping his speech “doesn’t get interrupted by a Congressman or a rapper”, then cracking an opportune SAG joke. Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus smilingly confirming the end of broadcast television as a vital medium. Jessica Lange -a cougar even at 60-  saying parts (ahem)  “don’t come around that often for me anymore“. The always randy Dana Delaney  topping that with “I like a man who delivers week after week!” Bryan Cranston saying he’s thankful that Glenn Close is actually a woman. Tina Fey taking a well-deserved shot at NBC by thanking them for keeping 30 Rock on the air “even though its much more expensive than a talk show“.

Who would have thought that after their Super Bowl duet, Justin Timberlake would be so much more popular than Janet Jackson’s breast? I’m still not a fan of his music, but the guy is funny as hell and despite incredible fame seems to be pretty humble about it. If only more famous people took themselves less seriously.

Oh, wait. Then we wouldn’t have Award Shows. Never mind.

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Emmy Time! Predictions…

Swope

I previously railed about the unimaginative nominations when the Emmys first disclosed the final choices – click  here for my picks of one to drop from each category and whom to replace them with – but now it’s time for making the predictions.

Granted, I can’t figure out which way the wind blows on this thing better than anyone else. Seems like some people vote to repay a debt from a prior omission, while others try to judge fairly based upon that year’s work. Some nominees try the Putney Swope method by voting for the candidate they least expect to win – theoretically to not give a vote to a serious threat – and we all know how well that can turn out. Then there’s always the Pia Zadora method (bribery) and the evil darkness of studio politics. Whatever.

Here’s tonight’s ballot. Good luck and don’t wager your kid’s trust fund. I’ll be back tomorrow with the winners and some comments on the whole debacle after I speed through the commercials at midnight. Thanks to the wonderful invention of the DVR, I’ll be doing what any adult male should – watching the Giants/Cowboys game.

As for my predictions in the major categories? Note these are my picks for who will win, not who should win:

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series: 30 Rock • Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series: Mad Men • Jon Hamm as Don Draper

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie: Into The Storm • Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series: 30 Rock • Tina Fey as Liz Lemon

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series: The Closer • Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Leigh Johnson

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie: Grey Gardens • Jessica Lange as Big Edie

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series: How I Met Your Mother • Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series: Breaking Bad • Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie: Little Dorrit • Sir Tom Courtenay as Mr. Dorrit

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series: 30 Rock • Jane Krakowski as Jenna Maroney

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series: In Treatment • Dianne Wiest as Gina

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie: Relative Stranger • Cicely Tyson as Pearl

Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series: 30 Rock • Steve Martin as Gavin Volure

Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series: Rescue Me • Michael J. Fox as Dwight

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series: Saturday Night Live • Tina Fey as Governor Sarah Palin

Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit • Carol Burnett as Bridget “Birdie” Sulloway

Outstanding Comedy Series: 30 Rock

Outstanding Drama Series: Lost

***

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