Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The films of Michael Moore

If you want to see some thought provoking, excellent movies, check out these from Michael Moore;

  • Roger and Me This film put Michael Moore on the map. It told about how Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan has been devastated economically by the closing of GM plants. In the movie, Moore tries to track down GM CEO Roger Smith and ask him about the rationale behind closing down the factories. It demonstrates how the ruthless business tycoons will do anything to increase profits, even if it means putting thousands out of work.
  • The Big One This film is the least prominent of Moore's works, but it has some great moments. Moore confronts Nike CEO Phil Knight and tries to find out why Nike employs underpaid, underage workers in Indonesia to make their shoes. It also deals with workers at Border's book stores forming a union to get better working conditions. Moore visits the factory where Payday candy bars are made to discuss recent layoffs.
  • Bowling for Columbine Moore won the Academy Award for this documentary which deals with violence in America and the NRA. It dealt with the Columbine High School shooting and asked the question-"why is there so much gun violence in America?" Moore compares America with Canada and it turns out that Canada has just as many guns, but has much fewer gun related deaths.
  • Fahrenheit 9-11 This brilliant work exposes many facts about the Bush administration and the war in Iraq that had been censored by the press previously. Moore talks about how the Bush family and the Bin Laden family have been friends and business partners for years. He also shines a light on how Bush and his buddies are profiting from the war in Iraq. The longer the war lasts, the more Bush profits, due to his investments in defense stocks. The band Megadeth has an album called "Killing is my business-and business is good". This could be the slogan of the Bush administration. The movie tells about how 9-11 acts as a tool used by the current administration to keep Americans living in fear. When people are scared, they will be much more willing to give up their liberties guaranteed by the constitution. Bush is willing to sacrifice the lives of American soldiers to further his agenda, which is deplorable. He calls himself a Christian? He's far from it, and as Michael Moore said in his Oscar speech-"Shame on you, mister Bush!" I couldn't agree more.

Also check out Moore's TV series The Awful Truth, now available on DVD. He also did a series called TV Nation.

For factual evidence of the claims made in Fahrenheit 9-11, check out

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Show biz pioneers

I admire the current crop of actors, actresses, and musicians out there, but they all owe a debt of gratitude to those pioneers in TV, music and movies who paved the way for them. Therefore, I present a list of the best old school entertainers who have stood the test of time. These are people we will still be talking about 50 years from now.

  1. Johnny Carson
  2. Bob Hope
  3. George Burns
  4. Frank Sinatra
  5. Jackie Gleason
  6. Milton Berle
  7. Dean Martin
  8. Sammy Davis Jr.
  9. Jerry Lewis
  10. Elvis Presley

All of these greats are gone now, with the exception of Jerry Lewis. And as the MDA Labor Day Telethon nears, I recall fond memories of the days when Jerry would have many on the list on his telethon. I especially enjoyed seeing Sinatra and Davis Jr. One year on the telethon there was a reunion between Jerry and Dean Martin, who hadn't spoken in years. Most on the list lived long lives, especially Hope and Burns who lived past the century mark. This was probably attributed to the fact that they made a living doing what they loved.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The state of network TV today

For the week of August 1-7, 2005, the top 5 rated shows were all from CBS. CSI, Without a Trace, CSI: Miami, NCIS and Two and a Half Men led the way respectively. This seems to be the era of one hour crime dramas. The Law and Order franchise has kept NBC afloat, since their sitcoms seem to be struggling. Everybody Loves Raymond and The King of Queens, both from CBS, were the only sitcoms to make the top 25. The success of Friends has not proven to fuel another hit for its spinoff, Joey. One has to wonder how much longer NBC will keep Will and Grace on the schedule too. The Tuesday and Thursday versions of Big Brother are doing well, even though it's the 6th go around for the reality show. It is hosted by The Early Show's Julie Chen, who is the wife of CBS CEO, Les Moonves. With American Idol on hiatus and Desperate Housewives losing its momentum, FOX and ABC have few shows that are thriving.

*Source for some material in this article:Entertainment Weekly magazine

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Must see TV no more

Remember the days of must see TV on NBC? The peacock network used to rule the ratings, especially on Thursday night. Shows like Seinfeld, Friends, and ER garnered monster ratings for NBC, but the best lineup on NBC had to be in the 1980s. Will this lineup ever be matched again?

  • 8:00PM The Cosby Show
  • 8:30PM Family Ties
  • 9:00PM Cheers
  • 9:30PM Night Court
  • 10:00PM LA Law
  • 11:30PM The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson
  • 12:30AM Late Night with David Letterman
  • 1:30AM Later with Bob Costas

Now the #4 network out of 6, I'm sure NBC wishes they could recapture some of the magic from the 1980s. Thursday nights are now ruled by CBS with the #1 show, CSI.

Goodbye to the king of late night

Earlier this year we lost Johnny Carson, who in my opinion, was the best entertainer in the history of television. For 30 years, from 1962 to 1992, Johnny was part of our lives and he captivated us with his wit and charm. Unlike many hosts today, he actually listened to his guests and cared about showcasing them, rather than himself. Countless young comedians got their start by appearing on Johnny's show. David Letterman, Roseanne, Ellen Degeneres, Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling and many others credit The Tonight Show for launching their careers. The boisterous Ed McMahon and the trumpet virtuoso Doc Severinsen were great sidekicks who added a lot to the feel of the show. Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska and had an interest in entertaining at a young age. As a child he put on magic shows and would sometimes do card tricks on The Tonight Show. When Carson retired, he wanted David Letterman to take over. But he was overruled by the NBC executives who instead hired the unfunny, but non-controversial Jay Leno. It's a shame that a show that had been hosted by Jack Paar, Steve Allen and Johnny Carson would be turned over to someone like Leno. He doesn't listen to his guests, he's not funny, and he mercilessly kisses up to his guests. David Letterman would have been a much better choice for Johnny's replacement. Letterman has had a late night show on NBC from 1982 to 1993, and he has been on CBS since 1993. So, he's 7 years shy of Johnny's 30 years in late night. Conan O'Brien, who has had his show on NBC since he replaced Letterman in 1993, will take over for Leno in 2009. Conan was previously a writer for Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons, and he should be a good replacement for Leno. A Harvard graduate, O'Brien has a flair for comedy and he makes his interviews entertaining with his funny observations.

Rock Star INXS

Executive producer Mark Burnett hoped to create another hit with Rock Star INXS for CBS, but he's come up short this time. CBS was counting on Rock Star to be their American Idol, but ratings have been disappointing. Burnett struck gold with Survivor and The Apprentice, and networks love reality shows since they're cheap to produce. Rock Star seeks to find a replacement for Michael Hutchence, the former lead singer for INXS, the Aussie pop group which had hits like "Devil Inside" and "New Sensation". CBS has done well ratings-wise with reality shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race and Big Brother. But they have had misses like The Will, Wickedly Perfect and the horrible "The Cut" with fashion maven Tommy Hilfiger. The catch phrase on "The Cut" uttered by Tommy Hilfiger when a contestant leaves the show was-"You're out of style". It's not exactly in the same category as"The tribe has spoken", or even Trump's "You're fired". When someone gets booted off Rock Star INXS, the phrase is-"Sorry, but you're just not right for our band, INXS." Sorry INXS, but you're just not right for CBS. Still the most watched broadcast network, CBS gets a large share of their viewers from their many hour dramas, like CSI, CSI Miami, Cold Case, Without a Trace and NCIS. Rock Star INXS had been airing 3 days per week on CBS. But due to low ratings, CBS is taking the show which had aired on Monday, and they are showing it on Sunday on their sister cable station, VH1.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Welcome to my show biz blog!

I decided to post my thoughts here regarding movies, music, TV, theatre, etc. I've always loved the arts and respected those who make a living doing something creative and artistic. Many don't have an appreciation for good music, concerts, or Broadway musicals but I always have. I like making lists of my favorite movies, TV shows, musical groups, and the like and I'll do lots of that here. I recently submitted a top 5 list to a local newspaper of my favorite films by a great film director, Woody Allen. While I don't condone what he has done in his personal life, I have always respected his writing and directing talents.

Top 5 Woody Allen films-

1. Annie Hall (it beat out Star Wars for the best picture Oscar!)
2. Manhattan (great score featuring the music of George Gershwin!)
3. Play it Again Sam (not directed by Woody, but it showed off his chemistry with Diane Keaton!)
4. Everyone Says I Love You (Woody's only musical, featuring an all-star cast including Julia Roberts and Drew Barrymore!)
5. Hannah and Her Sisters (a great tale filled with comic angst and one of Woody's best performances along with Mia Farrow!)

When discussing great directors, one has to include Martin Scorsese. If you haven't seen these, check them out.

Top 5 Martin Scorsese films

1. Taxi Driver
2. Raging Bull
3. Casino
4. GoodFellas
5. Cape Fear

The Aviator and The King of Comedy were great Scorsese flicks also.

Not many 3 hour films can hold my attention, but here are 3 that I loved and they left me wanting more.

Top 3 three hour movies

1. Scarface ("Say hello to my little friend!")
2. Casino (Brilliant, from the first frame to the last, with flawless performances by DeNiro and Pesci).
3. The Godfather ("I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse!")

Someone in their mid-30s like myself looks back on the 1980s with fondness and nostalgia. How great is VH1's "I Love the 80s"? Therefore, I must include the following list.

Top 5 1980's era teen comedies-

1. The Breakfast Club
2. Sixteen Candles
3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
4. Ferris Beuller's Day Off
5. Say Anything

That's a hard list since there are so many others, such as Weird Science, Better Off Dead, Risky Business, Back to the Future, Pretty in Pink and more.