New Guinea Pigs arrive at the Dr. Phil House

March 19, 2009

Couples argue in The Dr. Phil House

Couples argue in The Dr. Phil House

Dr. Phil has often said that his guests are “teaching tools” (aka guinea pigs) for the viewing public  This week, three fighting couples enter the Dr. Phil House, a virtual Habitrail, to teach us what I learn from most of his episodes–that I am way better off than those guests!  The most notable difference between these couples and past feuding family members is that these three women are as aggressive (if not more) than their husbands and are able to stand up to Dr. Phil without looking too stupid.  Aside from the “teaching tool” motive, is the linchpin of Phil’s calling in this world: To Save the Children.  I side with him on that issue and it is one of the reasons my TiVo is still set to The Dr. Phil Show.

PJ

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Thongate’s a new segment on “The Soup”

December 17, 2008
Mankini and McHale on The Soup

Mankini and McHale on The Soup

Inspired by a viewer’s email last week, The Soups Joel McHale introduced a new and ever more bizarre segment called “Thongate“, a clip from All My Children where actor, Cameron Mathison, turns around and reveals the top a black thong before making a dramatic exit from a room.

Just when I think no one watches this stuff but me, this week The Soup revealed that the mainstream maidens of The View sanctioned a few seconds of their precious airtime to Thongate.  However, The View one-upped The Soup with a “surprised” entrance by Mathison who walked onstage, and stopping next to Barbara Walters, turned around, pointed to his backside exclaiming, “This is how it was–here we go: T-shirt! T-shirt!  It was a T-shirt caught in the pants! T-shirt!”

McHale and his co-stars, Mankini and the Spaghetti Eating Cat, didn’t buy it. “You are a lying freak, Mathison!” said Mankini.   Accordingly, McHale said a viewer survey showed that 94% agreed.

The Soup's Spaghetti Cat

The Soup's Spaghetti Cat

Check Out My Thong

Check Out My Thong

Decide for yourself:  Click here for video clip and story.

Sloppy editing and talent improvisation continue to provide material for The Soup.  Another Soup segment, Is Al Roker Talking About Semen? featured  The Today Show‘s Al Roker exclaiming, “Live on Five: Hold the Mayo!” after Ann “Good morning- Good morning” Curry was cold and had just asked Roker and Lauer to hug her, thus making an “Ann Sandwhich.”

Ann Curry chillin'

Ann Curry chillin'

Producers need to encourage their talent to stick to the script, less they become future fodder for E!‘s  and VH1‘s popular clip shows.

PJ


Is a Real Life Exorcism the Ultimate Docu-drama?{Paranormal State}

October 29, 2008
Ryan Buell and his Freak Force

Ryan Buell and his Freak Force

Sci-Fi (Horror, Mystery and Suspense) is a popular genre, especially around Halloween; there is a thrill in being scared from a safe distance, and as a fan, I watched last night’s episode of A&E’s Paranormal State with the same chilling uneasiness I felt when I watched The Exorcist for the first time. I never thought I would witness (nor wanted to, really )a real life exorcism, let alone one on TV; it’s easier to digest this stuff when it’s made up. However, while I watched with interest, I felt uncomfortable for being “entertained” by the content of this episode.  Paranormal State both blurs the line between life and art, as well as bridges the gap between paranormal hoaxes and true human experience.

The success of Paranormal State is two fold: 1) “I Am Six” was entertaining as a classic horror drama and 2) “I Am Six” appeared to responsibly document the rite of exorcism, with empathy toward the victim. By airing this episode, PRS hoped to encourage open dialogue on a subject that, in the past, has been relegated to the Science Fiction genre“I Am Six” was a story that was presented honestly and edited seamlessly with minimal (thankfully) lame special effects from previous episodes.

Blogger, “Dr. Atlantis,” a skeptic, criticized the producers of Paranormal State for using these effects to up the “scary factor” of the show.  He compared Paranormal State to Ghost Hunters, a Sci Fi Channel hit series, by the ways they both cut to commercial just as the investigators discover something spooky.  The producers have yet to realize that with the invention of TiVo, we can fast-forward to the next segment. Thankfully, these effects were kept to a minimum (with the exception of the annoying reminders that the number “6” is associated with evil). The difference between Ghost Busters (TAPS) and Paranormal State (PRS)is that TAPS sets out to “de-bunk” false claims of paranormal activity, whereas PRS focuses on a client’s personal experience with the paranormal.  Ultimately, both organizations want to help people not to let the paranormal world prevent them from leading happy and productive lives.

What was intrigued me about this particular episode was that the normally stoic Ryan Buell was visibly shaken by

Chip Coffee hanging out with "the other" paranormal guys Jason and Grant of TAPS

Chip Coffee hanging out with "the other" paranormal guys Jason and Grant of TAPS

what was happening to the victim, Lara. On his blog, Buell, director of the Paranormal Research Society (PRS), stated his reservations about airing this episode.   He was smart enough not only to call in his usual reinforcements, but to be humble enough not interfere nor take credit for the process.  Assisting (or “co-starring”) with Buell and PRS were psychic medium, Chip Coffee,an Episcopalian priest, a psychologist, an ENT, and renowned Demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Walden.

For “personal reasons,” Buellchose not to promote “I Am Six” on the media circuit, a decision that surely affected ratings.  To his credit, Buell’s motives are not to achieve celebrity status from the notoriety of PRS, especially in light of last season’s possession episodes “The Name” and “The Devil in Syracuse”  helped to put PRS on the map. Buell clearly states he has a calling to help people and has managed to stay true to his calling amidst the sensational abet  exploitative nature of reality television.

However, it is the impetus, Ryan Buell’s own experiences with the paranormal, that remains a mystery.  A book by Buell, due out in February 2009, will hopefully disclose more about the event(s) that gave him a unique direction and purpose.

On his blog, Buell states in so many words that he did not appreciate the “shit” people wrote about him in their blogs as a reaction to the possession episodes.  He especially does not appreciate bloggers who hide behind their avatars in order to spread negativity.  However, not all bloggers are “haters” and my personal reasons for writing under an avatar have less to do with subterfuge, and more to do with wanting to write from a certain perspective.  Ironically, it is easy for one to tell Ryan, lighten up–you put yourself out there-deal with it, for precisely that reason.  I am interested to see how Ryan Buell handles the ensuing public reaction to “I Am Six.”  Perhaps he will serve as a role model and pave the way for those “shit writing” bloggers to emerge from behind their avatars and stand up to

One of Buell's hobbies is making fun of Paris Hilton.  Here she is "mugging" for the police camera

One of Buell's hobbies is making fun of Paris Hilton. Here she is "mugging" for the police camera

scrutiny.

PJ

p.s. Buell does have a sense of humor and is a fan of the sci-fi genre himself: his favorite pastime is making fun of Paris Hilton, and The Exorcist is one of his favorite movies.


Will Shawn Johnson be happy with Silver Medal?

August 15, 2008
Shawn and Nastia are happy rivals

Shawn and Nastia are happy rivals

Hopefully. She was quoted saying, “I gave my heart and soul out there. Nastia deserved the gold.” But there was sadness in her eyes; maybe not for winning silver, but probably because the All Around Finals are over. Athletic rivals couldn’t ask for a better competition; both were healthy and performed near flawless routines. But leading up to the Olympics, Shawn Johnson was the headliner on the women’s team. She was to be the next Mary Lou Retton. It’s evident the media still wants Shawn in the spotlight because the pair has been called “The Golden Girls.” Well the fact is that there is only one gold medalist, Nastia. I can’t picture both Johnson and Liukin together on the Wheaties box. Honestly, if Johnson won the gold, I really don’t think they would be calling the pair “The Golden Girls” because Johnson had such a good story, and it’s the story that connects the athlete to the audience. Johnson won the last two national and world titles; she is 16; Beijing is her first Olympics; she is from Iowa; she trains only 4 hours a day and attends public school; her coach was born in Beijing and his gym was damaged in the flood. Then there is the legacy angle: Although Carly Patterson was the last American to win the All Around gold medal in 2004, Johnson has been touted as “the next Mary Lou Retton.” Why? Well both Johnson and Retton perform “explosive” gymnastics and both have that All American Smile, and as a bonus, both Shawn and Mary Lou’s smiles are genuine.

Beautiful Nastia

Beautiful Nastia

But Nastia is different: she is not cute, she is beautiful and has beautiful long limbs. Her artistic gymnastics style will not be compared to Mary Lou’s and this is a good thing in my opinion. Mary Lou said in her Today Show interview that Nastia came in as former World Champion and Mary Lou was “an underdog.” (Meow). What Nastia brings the the post Olympic story is an expanded definition of “All American.” Her parents are former Soviet gymnasts who came to America and opened a gym. More importantly, Nastia’s win puts more distance in the Karolyi dynasty. By not being the next Mary Lou, Nastia will in no way be associated with “Bela’s Girls.” I think it is time that Nastia’s father get some credit. It was wonderful to see the individual coaches encourage all the girls on the American team. They seemed so comfortable with each other. They looked like a real team! Marta’s role was that of manager, not coach.

Nastia and Shawn are both good role models, and hopefully they will become better role models as a pair. With a rivalry, only one person can win. From watching Shawn and Nastia I’ve learned that yes, one person will win, but both can help each other do their best. Although Shawn Johnson won the silver medal, she couldn’t ask for a more perfect Olympic experience.

PJ


Will Hillary and Barrack really unite for change? {The Today Show}

June 28, 2008

Saturday morning I watched a segment of the Today Show when Lestor Holt interviewed (via satellite) two campaign face-people who said each camp is putting on a united front against the common enemy, John McCain. Holt’s bottom line was that these two senators have been campaigning against each other for months now, so has either one altered his or her platform? Has Hillary Clinton publicly conceded yet? From the stage in New Hampshire, Senators Obama and Clinton looked like equals on the Democratic Presidential ticket, and honestly I couldn’t tell who was running for president and who would be the running mate. I felt Hillary showed more confidence in herself and her party than with Senator Obama. It was strange because I got the vibe that Hillary felt that she could still win, or that Barack Obama could win only with her support. I guess I was hoping for a show of humility and honesty from Hillary, but from my perspective it was another exercise in the Clinton family’s self-importance in American History. I don’t think Hillary will be satisfied as Vice President, even if she would be the first woman Vice President. She wants a larger role on Capitol Hill, and if Barack Obama doesn’t realize this, he’s in for a rude awakening. I don’t think he’s that naive: offering to help Clinton pay down her campaign debt was a brilliant political move; it highlighted her enormous debt and made him look sympathetic. (I’m sure his gesture drove Hillary crazy) Senator Obama declared, “She Rocks!” in New Hampshire, but I don’t think he’d say that if their positions were reversed. There is so much at stake for the Democrats in the upcoming election and so much opportunity to make history. I will miss Hillary and Barack campaigning against each other. I only wish Jon McCain could have had the opportunity to verbally spar with a strong Republican opponent.

PJ

The following video illustrates why I question if the new “Unite for Change” rhetoric is genuine.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BARACK


Chef Bobby sent home for lack of Beef Skills {Hell’s Kitchen}

June 16, 2008

Communication was key in Hell’s Kitchen last week, and it was Bobby who ultimately failed. The fact that Bobby “cremated” rather than cooked the Beef Wellington, according to Chef Ramsey, didn’t help him either. The final four chefs had an individual “cooking school” challenge–teaching a non-cooking, scantily clad housewives how to prepare homemade pasta with fresh lobster and sauce. Christina came out on top with Corey, a close second. Chrisitina, a Culinary School student, probably had an advantage here. Petrozza and Bobby were too distracted by their students’ large melons to focus on the tasks at hand, and Jen struggled with letting her student prepare the meal without interference.

Neither Jenn nor Corey were happy for Christina (surprise). Jenn said, “I just wanted to booty-bounce her across the room.” Again, cleaning Hell’s Kitchen was the punishment. Hell’s Kitchen is gross, and this week we got to see the black crusty bits in the fryer and the ice cream scoop stuck in chocolate. The chef’s made it through dinner service and Chef Ramsey targeted Bobby to harass, but Jenn also felt the heat. For once I felt that Jenn didn’t deserve the wrath of Ramsey, but she made the mistake of sticking up for herself–a big no-no because to Ramsey, sticking up for oneself means questioning King Gordon.

Both Christina and Corey would have liked to have seen Jen go home, but at least Jen can cook a decent Beef Wellington.

PJ


First family’s ranch could be Ellen and Portia’s wedding venue

May 28, 2008

On May 10th in Crawford, TX, the the first family let Jenna have her day away from the political climate in Washington, safely ensconced at the ranch surrounded by family, friends, and the Secret Service. I thought the first family’s first wedding would be a footnote in the mainstream press, but the May 26th edition of People Magazine featured the festivities on it’s cover. Jenna’s nuptials were given all the schmaltzy reporting schmooze of a celebrity wedding.

Although Jenna chose to have her wedding at the family ranch in Crawford, her plans to offer the ranch for weddings to her celebrity friends could generate the same excitement as White House weddings did in the past.

Check out ABC’s Jack Trapper’s blog post:

Political Punch

Power, pop, and probings from ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper

Jake Tapper is ABC News’ Senior National Correspondent based in the network’s Washington bureau. He writes about politics and popular culture and covers a range of national stories.

Jenna Bush tells Ellen She Can Use the Ranch for Her Same-Sex Wedding

May 27, 2008 10:49 AM

–>People Magazine reports that in an appearance on Ellen to air this Wednesday, First Daughter Jenna Hager (nee Bush), sitting with her mother First Lady Laura Bush, tells Ellen DeGeneres that she can use the President’s ranch in Crawford for DeGeneres’ pending same-sex wedding with actress Portia de Rossi.

“So, the ranch was a great place to get married,” DeGeneres says, “it looked like nobody could fly over and get pictures or bother you, really.”

“Yeah,” says Hager, “that was really nice.”

“So, can we borrow it for our wedding,” DeGeneres asks. “Can we get the ranch?”

“Sure,” says Hager.

“Okay, great,” says DeGeneres.

– jpt

Jenna Bush is either a Republican Repel or an American Ambassador for Equal Rights. Hopefully, W will continue to support his daughter. Jenna’s post-wedding publicity tour for her charitable causes will most likely generate more press (both mainstream and tabloid) than her actual wedding.

It’s been 37 yeas since President Nixon’s youngest daughter, Trisha, had the first outdoor wedding at the White House.Trisha was featured on the cover of Life Magazine in 1971 as well in a multi-paged feature story showing off all her wedding gifts. In July of 1985, Life Magazine also featured Caroline Kennedy on the cover. She beat out Sarah, The Duchess York (aka Fergie) who wed Prince Andrew that month as well. There was synchronicity in both weddings in the same month: America had it’s royal family, too. Life reminisced about Caroline: how she rode her pony, Macaroni, on the White House lawn and how she posed for a wedding photo beside husband Ed Schlossberg on the beach where she “summered as a child.”

You can still get those happy feelings of yesteryear by reading blogs like dallasbrides.wordpress.com and weddingbee.com, whose writers have knit together past and present histories of family celebrations and American Presidents. I found the following links to be interesting:

1) The White House Weddings site

2) Family Life at the White House page at the official White House Website

3 ) NPR weighs in with their article White House Weddings: Fuel for Capitalism

4) Take a look at pictures of past white house wedding memorabilia (Circa. 1966 bag of rice, Circa. 1886 satin covered cake box) in the Life and Death at the White House page at The American Presidency website

PJ


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