The American plot to take over Russia

Russian state television’s coverage of the Winter Olympics was interrupted–ironically, during the  ice dancing event in which the USA took the gold medal–by an 85-minute program claiming that the United States is involved in a vast conspiracy to take over and occupy Russia by means of instilling “treason.”  I remember being told that they did that to us[Read more...]

Leno kicked out while he’s ahead

Jay Leno is off the Tonight Show as of last night.  NBC wants to hand off the iconic gig to someone of the younger generation, namely, Jimmy Fallon.  Never mind that Leno is going out at #1 in his time slot.  Never mind that Leno is #1 with the younger generation (the 18-49 demographic) that NBC is trying to attract with Fallon.

But ratings are not everything in the television industry.  Nor, despite economic theory, are profits everything in the corporate world.  Those who run the entertainment industry and America’s other businesses want the approval of their peers, feel cultural pressure, and yearn to be cool.  Those things can be more motivating than money and success. [Read more...]

Bob Dylan, Chrysler salesman

So what did you think of Bob Dylan’s Chrysler commercial?  There he was, clear voiced, no mumbling, unobscure, voicing over some great Americana imagery.  (He doesn’t appear until 47 seconds in.)  I’m assuming that he wrote the script.  Though it lacks Dylan’s trademark surrealistic imagery, the commercial sounds like him with lines like these:

So let Germany brew your beer,
Let Switzerland make your watch,
Let Asia assemble your phone.
We…will build…your car.

Compare this with the lyrics to his protectionist anthem Union Sundown.  The only thing is, Chrysler is now fully owned by Fiat, so it’s an Italian company, not American.  They do make some of their cars here, but not necessarily.  Still, I vote this as best Superbowl commercial.

The transcript after the jump.  (You might get the video at the link above, though Chrysler has taken it off YouTube for copyright violations, though I thought going viral was what you wanted in a commercial.) [Read more...]

Stay-at-Home entertainment vs. live theater

What with Netflix, on-demand TV, Hulu on the iPad, and videos on the smart phone, more and more people are staying at home for their entertainment, cocooning unto themselves.  Even going to the movies is too communal and too much trouble for a lot of us, who prefer to wait until we can watch a new film when it comes out on Netflix, rather than getting out of the house.  But this tendency is wreaking worse havoc on live theater.

Thanks to Bruce Gee for putting me onto this column from Terry Teachout, drama critic at the Wall Street Journal. [Read more...]

Update: A&E caves on Duck Dynasty

I guess people are allowed to criticize gay sex after all:

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of A&E’s Duck Dynasty clan who was suspended from his hit reality series on Dec. 18 following some incendiary comments about gay people, won’t be put on hiatus after all. [Read more...]

Best television of 2013

As others have also said, some of the best and most interesting filmmaking, acting, and screenwriting is taking place not in the movies but in the historically-less respected medium of television.   I am appreciating how television can develop a story and characters over many hours and weeks, as opposed to the couple of hours that is all movies and plays have to work with (about the time a human being can sit still).  My pick for the best TV show is limited, of course, to what I’ve seen (and I didn’t watch Breaking Bad), but in my opinion the best television of the year could be found on Broadchurch.

My reasons after the jump.  Make your own nominations in the comments. [Read more...]


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