Day Fifty-Seven – One of the Few Times I’ll Watch Oprah

26 02 2010

I have seen Oprah, willingly, only a few times. I can count the times on my right hand, though I can’t even remember specific episodes or reasons why. I just imagine this not being the first time I’d want to watch.

Roger Ebert is going to be a guest on her show, the first time he’s been on TV since he left At the Movies to a slew of guest hosts and two sets of replacements about four years ago. The interview will be airing on March 2nd – this coming Tuesday.

Roger Ebert will be back on the TV for Oprah on Tuesday March 2nd.

I’m a huge fan of Roger Ebert, even when I don’t agree with his taste in movies. His knowledge of film and the art, more so than the business, is admirable. I’ve read his books. I watched his show, with and without him, for years and I continue to read his reviews and blog on his website.

This all seems to stem out of the Esquire magazine article that was really well written. Titles of posts linking to the article, not so much. “Roger Ebert’s Last Words”, “Ebert’s Dying Days” and others like it were scattered throughout my Google Reader. Yes, it got me to read, but “Ebert’s New Outlook” would have generated the same interest from me. It was a little reminder of how disgusting the media can be at times, assuming people won’t be interested without some type of morbid angle. It gives me the creeps, like the Olympic coverage of the Georgian luger, except he actually parished.

The images included with the article, though, didn’t fall under the same category. Yes, they were a little exploitative. Yes, they were hard to look at. The difference is that Ebert agreed to have these pictures taken. It allows people to see it, have their reaction and get over it, much like he has had to. I respect him for having the courage to do so.

The odd time I’ve seen Oprah, her main goal seems to be to get people to weep around her. That’s the main reason I don’t watch most times. Last thing I want to do with my day at 4pm is to get all emotional because someone was bullied in school as a kid. Generally, her guests make the rounds anyway. Why watch Brad Pitt on Oprah, weeping about how great it is to be a father of 39, when I can watch him later on late night, crackin’-wise with Leno?

But it doesn’t seem like Ebert will be making the rounds. He’ll be making this stop here then returning to the website, so I’ll make an exception this time.

If for nothing else, I get to hear Ebert’s voice again – even if it’s not coming from his own mouth.


Day Fourty-Six – Oh, Vancouver

15 02 2010

Canada has finally won Gold on home soil, taking the pressure off most other athletes to break a sad streak.

That’s the highlight of the events so far. Everything else hasn’t been so rosy.

I want to enjoy the Olympics, though the broadcasters make it anything but easy.

Things clearly went beyond awful for the Games when a young Georgian Olympian died during a trial run. What’s disgusting about that entire ordeal is the media’s willingness to show the entire tragedy on the Evening News. The CTV News anchor went as far to say that it’s “necessary to show the footage in order to tell the story”.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. People don’t need to see a young man running into a poll in order to visualize it. Still, whether to spike ratings or simply satisfy a morbid curiosity, the footage was shown all over the place. I’ve managed to avoid it, knowing that it’s something I definitely do not want to see, and I don’t feel that I know any less than those who have seen it. It was a tragic event and out of respect for the family and fellow Olympians, the footage should have remained in the archives and not broadcast around the globe.

Less tragic, but still upsetting is the coverage of the Games thus far. The “Olympic Consortium” of networks seems to be dropping the ball in the coverage of the games. Whether it’s watching the MuchMusic crew do body-shots or “drop your shorts for beer” on live, national television, I couldn’t have been more embarrassed for my generation.

Aside from that, the Games themselves have been extremely hard to follow. The guide on my Rogers box lists five events taking place anywhere between 6pm and 2am. There’s no indication to what’s a live event and what’s pre-recorded. Nor any indication to what I may be missing on other networks. I’m made to guess what’s happening and when it happened.

My TSN app, which I love, on my iPhone has been pushing me to download the CTV Vancouver Olympics app. I did, hoping it would help me follow the goings on at the Olympics. Sadly, it’s completely useless. It tells me what events are coming up for the day, but not any information on when or on what network. There’s no medal count, either, which you would believe to be the first thing you’d have on an Olympic app.

I’ve been forced to “gear up” for the Olympics for the past 3 years and now that it’s here, I couldn’t be more disappointed. I’m really trying to get excited, but it’s hard when I have to guess what’s on and what’s live. Plus, watching the same three commercials every fifteen minutes really doesn’t help matters.

I wish the Canadian Olympians luck, but the Canadian broadcasters really need to get their shit together.

Day Thirty-Six – Misleading Trailers and Ads

5 02 2010

The new Red Band trailer for Kevin Smith’s Cop Out has been released. For those who don’t know what Red Band means, it’s essentially a restricted trailer than can’t be shown in most theatres since all of the swearing, sex and violence is included.

With that in mind, see the trailer below if you can stomach the language and edgy themes:

Funny, right? Now, try and tell me it’s the same movie as the Green Band trailer below.

They look like completely different movies!

The audience that walks into the movie from the Green Band trailer is almost guaranteed to be a different one than the Red Band. That is, aside from those who know director Kevin Smith’s work. I fully realize that the goal of making a movie is to get as many people in the theatre as possible, but there should be some sort of disclaimer if a trailer is going to be that misleading.

Think of all the angry movie-goers who expected PG-13 night at the movies, only to be berated by the lewdness that a Kevin Smith movie brings. I’m a fan of it, but I know for sure my parents wouldn’t be into it.

They would be into the movie the Green Band trailer claims Cop Out is.

This isn’t the only case of misdirection I’ve seen recently. On Tuesday, Amelia was released on DVD. The movie completely tanked in theatres and the marketing changed when Amelia was brought to DVD. It looks like a romantic comedy more than a long, drawn-out drama.

The goal here is to swindle you into buying the DVD, regardless of whether you shut it off 20 minutes in or not. Cop Out has a different goal. They want the word of mouth to create buzz so people will go see it a bunch of times.

Avatar did this some how, and though Cop Out will likely be much more modest, the hope is that people will see it more than once. My mom would probably leave in the first ten minutes and forbid anyone she knows from subjecting themselves to it.

I think in this day and age, with word that can be spread so quickly, you’re better off being truthful to your audience. I want Cop Out to do well and selling the movie for what it is will give it the best chance of doing so.

Day Thirty-One – One Month Later…

31 01 2010

I’ve made it thirty-one days so far, keeping my promise of posting new content every day. Out of it, I’ve had a few talking points. For many of which, there have been a few developments.

Here’s a handful:

Day Seven – Why Does Everyone Love “Avatar”?

After watching Avatar the week it came out, I wasn’t much of a fan. I knew it was going to make money, that was without question, but I didn’t think it had the legs to push as far as it has. Not only has it surpassed Cameron’s other record-setting blockbuster, Titanic, in the world-wide grosses, but it’s making a run for the domestic title.

It begs the question, who is still watching Avatar. I know a bunch of people who haven’t seen it and don’t intend to, yet they were there to partake the mammoth run of Titanic. Still, it manages to top the box office every single weekend. This one included, with a $30 million that a first-run movie would be happy to take home. There’s going to be a push to give Avatar the Oscar for Best Picture. I’m hoping they don’t give into the pressure after passing on The Dark Knight last year.

Day Nine – It’s About Time, But It Still Won’t Work

It took until the day of posting this for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make a move to bring them out of the rut they have put themselves in. Dion Phaneuf and J. S. Giguere will definitely bring some people back to the TV broadcasts and maybe keep the ticket holders in their seats, but it’s just one step in an eventual run to the Cup. They are still far from it, but at least there’s progress. Shocking progress, at that.

Day Eleven – 3D is a Gimmick!

I’m not the only one who thinks so. A bunch of people turned on 3D after the buzz at CES died off. Roger Ebert has always been against it and G4’s Adam Sessler joined the chorus when they threatened to gimmick-up his beloved games.

Day Twelve – Can’t Go Home Again

Jay did the clichéd thing that everyone does when they have a nice guy image to restore: he went on Oprah.

Still no telling if it’ll work, but he’ll have until at least September before Conan comes back.

Day Thirteen – Why Isn’t MMA Legal Here Yet?

I got some insight into why MMA is having such a hard time coming into the city, by way of The John Downs Show on AM 640. (January 25th)

Basically, people think violence is bad, even in the form of sport. They insist that the UFC is vile and the martial arts teach you respect. That just goes to show the lack of education in the subject people have.

My problem isn’t that people don’t like it. It’s not for everyone, but to prevent me from watching it because you think it’s disgusting is just sad.

Day Seventeen – Movie Theatre Etiquette

Sadly, nothing has changed on this front. I went to the theatre the following week and one of the employees walked in and toyed with his phone in the front row, holding it up so he, and I, could see better. How will movie-goers learn the etiquette if the employees don’t follow it themselves?

Day Twenty-One – I Hate the Evening News

This video says it all, and much better than I ever could:

Day Twenty-Three – I Miss the Drive-In

I still really miss the drive-in.

Day Twenty-Five – Movies I’ve Seen Recently and Why Criticker Makes Them Fun

This was my most popular post of all-time, thanks to a link-back from Criticker’s twitter. Thanks again.

Day Twenty-Eight – Over-Hype

Everyone seems to think they’re completely original when they mention that the iPad sounds like a maxi-pad.

It’s not.

I’m looking forward to next month. Hopefully I can still find something to write about.

Day Twenty-Four – The Usual Suspects Ruined in 24 Hours

24 01 2010

24 jumped the shark a long time ago, but that hasn’t stopped me from getting hooked every season. Predicting what’s coming has been worked down to a science. By trying to be too clever, it fell into a weird formula.

Basically, pick the least likely person to be the traitor; the boyfriend, the analyst, the CTU boss – that’s your terrorist. It’s the case almost without fail. Least likely is the most likely on 24.

It’s not just this show that has that routine. Prison Break did it to a ridiculous degree. Is that guard going to see them walking through the hallway? No, he’s not going to see them at all. Is that murderer going to attack them? No, he’s going to hold the door open and pat them on the back with a “good luck” for all.

The most famous example of this theory is The Usual Suspects. I didn’t see it until years after watching 24. My theory was on auto-pilot by the time Keyser Soze’s name was ever muttered to me. The theory took all of the excitement out of the picture. I was almost offended by how clear the twist was.

I realize that The Usual Suspects pre-dates 24, but the twists in 24 at least attempt to add relative complexity. You can be sure of your suspect, and you’d be right 90% of the time, but at least there is consistant misdirection.

Regardless of how easily the twists are dismantled, 24 remains entertaining based on their slight variations to the formula each season. They’ve finally accepted that fact; if the recaps on Fox’s YouTube channel are any indication. See them at the bottom of the post. They’ve fully embraced the ridiculousness of the show, knowing it’s become less the serious commentary on the war on terror and more of the popcorn entertainment it should have always been.

Few shows manage to keep my as on edge, ready to see the next hour as much as 24. Looking to take the mantle of the prime-time action movie is Human Target, which was the lead in for the premiere of this season of 24. The action is gritty and real. The effects are that of a blockbuster movie. Most importantly of all, the theory works to full effect.

Here’s the recap of last Sunday’s episodes of 24:

And the recap of last Monday’s episodes of 24:

Day Twenty-One – I Hate the Evening News

21 01 2010

I hate the Evening News.

This war between broadcasters and providers gets dirtier by the minute. CityTV just laid off a bunch of news people and they’ll surely blame the lack of funding. I would blame it on the lack of something new to offer. They have 4 hours of news per day, not including their morning shows. Is it all really necessary? Was there not a time when the news was no longer than a half-hour? If I wanted in-depth reporting, I’ll move to the net, the newspaper, the radio or the 24-hour news networks, like CNN.

It sucks that people had to lose their jobs over a political battle for cash, but there are things that can improve all networks news ratings and have them bring money in on their own.

1. “News Voice”

“Why fantastic bars may not be so fantastic – for your health.”

It’s hard to portray in writing, but for some reason, everyone on the news feels the need to randomly emphasize words.

CityTV has cut a bunch of jobs from the network, blaming the lack of funding to support their 4 hours of news shows.

It doesn’t add any drama.

It doesn’t add any clarity.

It’s just annoying.

I doubt they talk to their friends and family with such silly voices. Is it because they read in sections? I can watch something like Attack of the Show and they don’t seem to have any problem reading the prompter naturally. Still, there are worse problems than “news voice”.

2. Everything is going to kill me

“If it bleeds, it leads”

But if it coughs and aches, it takes up weeks of coverage. The panic caused every year by some new flu virus is sickening in itself. H1N1, Avian Flu, West Nile Virus, SARS or whatever the hell comes next; watching the news alone, you’d expect the bodies to begin piling up, but almost always less than a couple hundred country-wide contract whatever virus they’re selling this year.

According to the evening news, I have a 200% chance of dying from cancer. Everything I drink, eat and breathe is causing some type of cancer to grow inside me. They don’t seem to understand the concept of diminishing returns. If everything is going to kill me, why should I bother worrying about it?

Regardless, most cases come down to common sense. If I eat a bushel of tomatoes every evening, I will undoubtedly get sick with something, but they don’t tell you that until the last line in the report.

3. Exploitation without shame

Watching coverage of the devastation in Haiti, I’ve seen how sad some reporters could be. Shoving the microphone in the faces of people who just got the news that their family has died, asking “How does that make you feel?”

We don’t need the explanation. We don’t need to see such a private moment to understand that things are terrible in Haiti.

Have a little shame.

4. Blaming technology

If I smash into a pole because I was speeding on the highway, it’ll probably be blamed on my love for video games. Midnight Club doesn’t make me drive like an idiot. Grand Theft Auto doesn’t compel me to steal a car and beat hookers.

Not every 12 year-old is sexting. Most girls don’t have a phone good enough to do so and if they do, that’s easily manageable. You’ll notice when your bill has $300+ in MMS all to some guy’s number.

5. Spending an hour telling me 15 minutes worth of news

When I watch the news, I just want to know what’s going on without being forced to sit through melodrama. What happened where and why. That’s all I want. I don’t want to watch a recent widow crying. I don’t want to know that we all may die of something, that probably won’t even get near us, and watch a five minute video created by some kid who just learned to use After Effects on how it’ll attack my immune system.

I just want an update and to get on with my day.

I doubt that any of this extra padding is bringing in any more ratings than just reporting the news would.

Day Twenty – Am I the Biggest Loser?

20 01 2010

Why do I put myself through The Biggest Loser? It’s probably the cheesiest show on television today. I’m generally not a fan of reality TV, but for some reason I give this show more attention than it ever deserves.

There’s something to the uplifting message they have. The Biggest Loser is selling the American Dream. You can do anything when you put your mind to it. That’s what they’re selling when a bunch of morbidly obese contestants shed weight that they’ve allowed to plague them. It’s the fat version of the Rocky movies.

That is probably its only redeeming quality.

The show should have its slow-motion license revoked. They abuse it more than a prison cellmate. But it wouldn’t be complete without the music trying to make every single moment sound EPIC! Whether its climbing up the stairs or falling over a finish line, the music makes it seem like they’ve out-run an explosion.

Probably one of the worst shows on TV, but I can't stop watching.

But it’s not just trying to make every action seem huge. They make every emotion as huge as possible. Everyone is always crying. All the time. It’s a show of giant babies. They cry because they won. They cry because they lost. They cry because they’re fat. They cry because they’re getting skinny. And if they don’t cry, the trainers yell at them until they cry.

Speaking of the trainers, they sound like they graduated from the University of After-School Specials. The cheese they spew on the contestants would never fly on a written drama, but for some reason, it’s accepted on a 2-hour game show.

It’s not only the contestants that are huge, the show is about an hour too long. It’s not just that it feels long, but they don’t seem to have enough going on in one week. The footage repeats. A lot. Every break, you’re watching what they’ve already shown you.

That, and they love to “leave you hanging”. There’s a reaction to everything that happens in the house. A BIG reaction. It’s all a little suspect though. I doubt the reactions are even to what they attribute them to before the break. Every weigh-in, they zoom in on shocked faces. You think, “Oh no, someone collapsed on the scale.” Instead it’s just that someone lost an average amount of weight.

Even with these problems, I still watch it. Could it be that there is nothing else worth watching on a Tuesday night? Or is it selling the American Dream that sells The Biggest Loser to me?

I don’t know what it is, but I do know I’m really hungry.