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The Forty-two-Year-Old Mother of the Thirty-Year-Old Male Lead

If you think about the backstory of a typical mother character in a romantic comedy, you realize this: when “Mom” was an adolescent, the very week she started to menstruate she was impregnated with a baby who would grow up to be the movie’s likable brown-haired leading man. I am fascinated by Mom’s sordid early life. I would rather see this movie than the one I bought a ticket for.

Mindy Kaling

"Flick Chicks", The New Yorker

http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2011/10/03/111003sh_shouts_kaling?currentPage=1

Starting in 2013, a whopping four years after the dang movie came out, Walt Disney World will begin construction on a whole “land” based on the movie Avatar, an indie film about the troubling underground world of dragon rape. Oh goodie! Avatar rides! Everyone loves and remembers Avatar. Totally seeped into the culture in a big way, that one. I can’t wait to do all those Avatar things, like have hair sex with a giant blue meerkat and eat glowbugs or whatever they eat and smoke cigarettes with Sigourney Weaver. I can’t wait to spend all my Na’vi Bucks™ on “Unobtainium Ice Cream” and “frosted hair dildos.” It’s just going to be so much fun. Everyone totally remembers everything about that movie and is really excited for the sequels, so this idea makes total sense. “Come experience what Jake felt as we smash your legs and then strap you to an old Virtual Boy and push you down the stairs! Only at Disney’s Avatar Land, based on a movie Disney had nothing to do with. Coming 2014!” So excited.

Richard Lawson

Gawker

http://gawker.com/5842258/the-playboy-flub

It’s time for NYTimes Mad Libs!

"Sitting at a [Room That Most NYC Homes Don’t Have] table festooned with papers, colored folders and laptop and [Apple product] screens in his [Expensive NYC Neighborhood] [Apartment/House/Townhome/Brownstone/Loft], [Trendy First Name] [Jewish Surname], 13, [Needless Gerund Clause]"

Commenter: OMG! Ponies! on Gawker

http://gawker.com/comment/32109308/

http://gawker.com/5684546/feckless-teens-demand-never+ending-parade-of-paid-assistants

Can Wilhelmina fix Wisteria Lane?

First came Season 4 with its anti-climactic reveal (ZOMG! Katherine Mayfair’s daughter is really an adopted Romanian girl, and her real daughter was accidentally killed by a heavy bookshelf!)  Then came Season 5 when there was no reveal because the writers decided to let us in on the whole uninteresting secret way too early.  (Edie’s new husband wants to kill Susan and her whole family since she accidentally killed his whole family with her atrocious driving!!!)  I’m not even sure how to describe Season 6 except to say that it involved Drea de Matteo (!!!!) in a weird eco-terrorism (!!!!!!) plotline.  However, no amount of flashy marketing (or metaphorical exclamation points) was able to compensate for the show’s downward spiral.

After the unbearable shit-show that was Season 6, I was fully prepared to abandon Desperate Housewives just as Bree abandoned Andrew by the side of a highway in Season 2 after he had wronged her one too many times — by seducing her hot new formerly sex-addicted boyfriend.  (Remember when this show was awesome??)  Anyhow, just when I was ready to end this unhealthy, six-year relationship for good, I came across this:

Now Desperate Housewives and I have not been happy together for several years, and I know that after so many failed attempts to rekindle the passion in our relationship, I should just dismiss this stunt as another one of DH’s empty promises.  Yet after the demise of Ugly Betty, I find myself missing the lovely Vanessa Williams.  And I find myself wondering if Ms. Williams’ brand of bitch is exactly what this show needs to get it back on track.  Her prominent placement in this poster suggests to me that Wilhelmina Slater got so pissed off at the decline of ABC’s scripted dramas over the past few years that she had to take action.  It was too late to save Ugly Betty, so she decided to make her first stop on Wisteria Lane to whip those aging housewives back into shape like it’s 2004 again.  I’m pretty sure that Desperate Housewives is so far gone that not even the ruthless editor-in-chief of Mode Magazine will be able to save it.  But I am curious to see how this plays out.  I’ll give you one more chance Marc Cherry, but THAT IS IT.

Side note: Gotta wonder how the other housewives felt about being so dramatically upstaged in this poster by Vanessa Williams after that disastrous 2005 Vanity Fair photo shoot.  Actually, they’re probably just happy that Teri Hatcher is not in the middle anymore.

Kids these days are just dying to “take a little bite of the fame machine”

A couple months ago, I made my second journey of the year to the glittery fantasy world known as Los Angeles.  Anyone who has ever traveled with me to this pop-Mecca (or its shinier younger sister on the east coast: Orlando, Florida) knows that I possess an indefatigable affinity for the city’s unmatched theme parks (Universal and Disney) and on-the-lot studio tours.  So naturally, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take the excellent Paramount Studios VIP Tour (for a second time.)  This time around, most of the shows were on hiatus, which meant fewer opportunities for celeb sightings, but MORE opportunities to visit actual show sets – a tradeoff that I happily accepted.  At one point, our tour guide led us into a soundstage that housed a very interesting set, consisting of an “outdoor” poolside setting — complete with palm trees, deck chairs, and a canvas sky backdrop.  An entrance off the pool area led into the lobby of what appeared to be an upscale apartment building or hotel.  (Unfortunately, no pics were allowed.)  At this point, our tour guide asked if anyone recognized the set.  The group – consisting of me, my friend, a couple 20- or 30-somethings, and a couple international tourists – stared blankly back in response.  This, our tour guide explained, was the set of a new Nickelodeon show called Big Time Rush about a boy band living in Los Angeles.  (In stark contrast to our group’s appreciative but muted response to this revelation, a couple minutes later, one girl – who appeared to be in her mid-20s, mind you — from another tour group could barely contain her audible excitement when she realized where she was.)  While the name of the show was unfamiliar to me, my brother-in-law later informed me that Big Time Rush is a current favorite of my 8-year-old nephew.

Fast forward to my first week of work this summer:  I’m sitting in my office one morning when I hear screams emanating from Times Square below.  My office is on one of the top floors of a skyscraper in midtown, so I figure something pretty big must be happening in order to justify that much noise.  Surprisingly, no one in my office seems to know, or even notice, what’s going on below.  (This is one of the strangest things I have noticed about living/working in New York.  You can be smack dab in the middle of one of the world’s major financial/cultural/political capitols and yet be totally oblivious to the major events happening around you.)  Not getting any answers from my coworkers, I naturally turned to the omniscient Google for insight.  Google News informed me that the boys of Big Time Rush were holding their first-ever live concert in Time Square that day at 3pm.  Considering that the concert wasn’t for another 4 hours and tween-age girls were already practicing their high-pitched screams at full blast, Big Time Rush was apparently a bigger deal than I had imagined.

The show follows the lives of 4 (unusually attractive) mid-western teenage guys who are recruited to form the next big boy band.  They move to Los Angeles where they encounter various over-the-top Hollywood-types, and hilarity (I’m sure) ensues. I haven’t yet seen an episode of the show, but I’ll admit that I find myself to be somewhat of a casual fan already.  I watched part of the Times Square concert and found myself singing along to one of their songs for the rest of the day.  That song – entitled “Famous” — has now been released as a single.  It’s a catchy, energetic rock ode to living the glamorous life, which teasingly asks the audience if they “want to take a bite of the fame machine.”  A mixed metaphor if I ever heard one.

 

The song’s blatant worship of fame culture was a bit off-putting for me at first.  However, in thinking more about it, I realized that much of the major current kids programming seems to revolve around the theme of escaping everyday life in order to live the celebrity dream.  Hannah Montana is about a girl who is secretly a famous pop star.  iCarly is about a girl who becomes an Internet celebrity through her online show.  And Sonny with a Chance is about a girl who becomes the newest cast member on a comedy sketch show.  Even a show like The Suite Life On Deck, in which the main characters are not aspiring performers, still serves as a tribute to luxury and the high-life.  Considering today’s kids have not known a world without Reality television and the concept of instant celebrity, it shouldn’t be a surprise that these are the types of narratives that resonate with them.  Though it does make me long for the simpler tween-age dilemmas of Lizzie McGuire.  She didn’t have to worry about balancing the demands of her career with being a normal teenager.  Lizzie had real problems.  Remember when she had to wear that hideous sweater her grandmother gave her for her school picture?

"I’m the Marcia Fucking Brady of the Upper East Side…"

Until this summer, the Upper East Side had only existed in my mind as some sort of mythical world of luxury and corruption.  Having never visited the area before, my impression of this privileged environment was drawn primarily from novels (The Nanny Diaries, Academy X, Social Crimes, Bonfire of the Vanities), television (Gossip Girl), and the occasional college acquaintance who had actually attended one the notoriously elite prep schools that have inspired such a wealth (no pun intended) of voyeuristic fiction and chick lit.


Being in New York, it was only natural that I pay a visit to this charming yet mysterious neighborhood that continues to fascinate and intrigue audiences with its exclusivity.  Riding the bus down Fifth Avenue, I noticed a particularly striking building and had another déjà vu moment.  It was my first time on the Upper East Side, and yet this massive French-style mansion seemed intimately familiar to me.  I quickly realized that I had fortuitously stumbled upon the Valmont Mansion – the fictitious home of my favorite fictional villainess Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and her brother Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillippe) in Cruel Intentions, a film that remains near and dear to my heart.  Having recently viewed Cruel Intentions several times while doing research for a term paper, I quickly recognized the wide arched doorway where Sebastian had arrogantly waved off a policeman who had tried to stop him from double-parking in front of the building. 

 

And there above the doorway was the balcony where Kathryn had gazed vindictively below as Sebastian and Annette shared a goodnight kiss.

 

(Screen shots courtesy of On the Set of New York)

In real life, I learned, the building is known as the Harry F. Sinclair House and is home to the Ukrainian Institute of America.  Unfortunately, it was closed the day of my visit, so I didn’t get a chance to see the interior.  But I did manage to get some pics of the outside.

I’ve removed the pic of me channelling my inner Sebastian in front of the building.  (But check it out on Facebook.)  Like Gossip Girl, I gotta maintain pseudo-anonymity…

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