What’s SUP with Fred Thompson?

Fred Thompson has been an actor too long. The man can’t generate excitement unless a writer is scripting him. Over the weekend, the New York Times commented on his underwhelming appearances in Iowa. Having done some public speaking, I can say from experience that if you have to ask a room for applause, you’d better not be charging a speaking fee for the appearance…and Fred Thompson had to ask for that applause.

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Maybe he’d better bring Jeri with him next time. Oh, excuse me, she’s all about substance and not the eye candy the media has made her out to be. Pardon me.

You want more to make you uneasy about this man’s candidacy? Check out his website. Maybe not such a good idea to call your campaign FRED08 – doesn’t quite inspire confidence.

Speaking of which, what’s sup with SUP? Thompson’s tag line under FRED08 – Security – Unity – Prosperity? SUP? Was his campaign communications director cryogenically unfrozen from an earlier administration, say around the time of the third decade of the 20th century? This smacks of a chicken in every pot, Herbert Hooverism, and if you recall your civics lessons from high school, shortly after his election we all enjoyed a little tea party called The Great Depression that had brokers leaping from tall buildings.

So far, looking at his Iowa events, I’d say we’re facing a pretty depressing candidacy.

I just can’t get excited over a candidate who offers me milquetoast slogans and warmed leftovers. Security – Unity – (and especially) Prosperity is NOT a good pledge to make to the voters in this country. There’s too much water under that bridge for people to willingly cross over comfortably.

Prince had a hit with his Little Red Corvette. So too did Thompson once upon a time with his little red truck. Time to ditch the indoor gatherings and hit the road, hootin’ and hollerin’ like one of them Dukes of Hazzard boys all grown up and facing a mid-life crisis. You’ve already got your very own Daisy – what more do you need to spice up your campaign?

Oh, yeah, I forgot – a scriptwriter.

October 9, 2007 at 1:25 am 4 comments

and she married him because…?

You know that disturbing trend on TV that pairs hot wives with homely husbands? Like Courtney Thorne-Smith and Jim Belushi in “According to Jim,” or Leah Remini and Kevin James in ‘King of Queens”? Even Esquire, that bastion of good living for men, noted the ridiculous improbability of it in their September 2004 issue. What truly attractive woman would do this, outside of Anna Nicole Smith, for anything less than millions in the bank? Well, how about a shot at the White House?

Of course I’m talking about Jeri Kehn Thompson, wife of Republican darling Fred Thompson, another Great White Daddy in the tradition of Ronald Reagan. Now here’s a fascinating woman – heavily involved in her husband’s campaign and either smart as a whip or simply in the right place at the right time, depending on who you talk to.

Jeri Thompson

Inquiring minds want to know why she married him – because he was a political mover and shaker, or because he was a TV and film star?

If it’s the latter, then she’s arm candy and we’re all cool with that, because look at all the really gorgeous women married to much older men – from the ridiculous (Tony Randall and Heather Harlan Randall, 50 years between them) to the sublime (Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, 21 years between them, or Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, 25 years’ difference).

But if she married him because of his political aspirations (and some say she fanned those fires prit-tee fiercely) then she’s treading the fine line of gold-digger, social climber, whatever… because we allow our celebrities so much more latitude than our leaders.

Jeri Thompson and Fred Thompson

Yes, this woman is hot. And Fred Thompson is homely. But if it works on network television, why not the White House?

Maybe our expectations of what a First Lady should be are ridiculously outdated. Sure, Laura Bush is more like Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore) on the old “Dick Van Dyke Show” or Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) on the current “Battlestar Galactica” series than she is a desperate housewife. But imagine if the 2008 Presidential race resulted in an “Extreme Makeover: White House Edition” and we ended up with Jeri as First Lady? Instead of “Father Knows Best,” think “Leave it to Cleavage.” And what’s so wrong with that?

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I’m personally hoping that if that’s the case, then a savvy White House press secretary would arrange some interesting cross-promotion with network TV, and Jeri could do a guest shot and visit the gals on Wisteria Lane – or get her own prime-time crime drama – or maybe host a reality show, “Strange Bedfellows,” in which we see the oddest pairings of hot women and homely men the world has to offer, and learn why these women made the choices they did.

Whatever the outcome of all this, Jeri’s made her bed and seems happy to lie in it. Especially if it takes her all the way to a White House bedroom for the next four years.

September 17, 2007 at 12:54 am Leave a comment

pushing programs, or my first fall prime-time date

Promos for new and returning fall shows are running non-stop on network television. Watching them feels like speed dating for potential TV viewers. Will I like what I see in 30 seconds enough to mark my calendar for a real first date?

I had my heart broken last season by the show anointed the darling of media critics going into fall 2006, “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” And I’m not a Sorkin fan – it was my first venture into his work. But the writing and the characterizations kept me coming back, even when they jerked the show around the schedule and pulled it off the air for weeks. I practically cried for joy when they broadcast the remaining first season episodes, and I cried when I heard it was really, truly canceled. I’m still trying to recover, and I don’t want to get involved on the rebound.

But something on this fall’s schedule is tempting me to try again. It’s “Pushing Daisies.” I like quirky. (I’m old enough to remember and miss “Twin Peaks.”) I like the fantastic and the off-beat, although I don’t care for shows that mine a comic vein. So I’m on the fence.

daisies

Yet “Pushing Daisies” has that Tim Burton Big Fish feel. It’s oh so graphic, oh so stylized. And on the ABC website, when you see people coming out of the previews, they all say it has the look and feel of a movie. It’s even been suggested that if you don’t watch this in HDTV, you’re missing half the show.

On top of that, it’s about love, not sex, but LOVE with no big O. Unconsummated love. And what chick doesn’t secretly adore the idea of unrequited love? Guy meets girl, albeit dead. Guy touches dead girl and brings her to life. Girl is guy’s first love. Guy can’t touch girl or he’ll send her back into death. So guy and girl hover and swoon and spoon inches apart. Yeah, it’s my kind of show.

Add in a whole slew of Broadway greats including Kristen Chenoweth (Glinda in Wicked) and Ellen Greene (Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors) and it’s impossible to say no.

I guess I’m gonna have to get ready for that date in a few short weeks. Already I’m worried about what I’m going to wear.

September 14, 2007 at 3:44 am 1 comment

couple of white dicks sitting around talking

I think Mrs. Rove made a mistake in naming her son Karl. She did him a disservice that he overcame despite all odds. Because when you look at the names of highly successful men, Karl doesn’t even crack the top 50.

Maybe that’s why he became a major player in political circles. He had to work hard to be remembered. It’s easier if you have a name like, say, Richard. Lots of successful, powerful Richards and Dicks.

It’s one of those white names that’s been given to white guys for most of the last century. From 1920 to 1970, Richard has appeared in the top ten most popular boy names. (Don’t ask where Karl comes in at.)

By all rights, Karl should have been Dick. Because look at him – he looks like a Dick. In fact, he looks like a younger, chubbier Dick Cheney. Which begs the question – what’s the difference between these two white guys?
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cheney

Put a bunch of white guys in a room and many look very much the same. Put a bunch of powerful, successful white guys in a room and the similarities are more prominent than the differences.

This is not a political commentary about Karl Rove or his resignation at this specific time in the Bush Presidency and what it means. This is not an astute opinion of his departure from the Bush White House or his role as The Architect for the Bush Administration. It’s just an observation that he looks like any other guy in the room.

And now that he’s leaving, there’ll be one less white Dick sitting around talking and making policy decisions for this country. Good or bad, that’s for you to decide.

Thank goodness we’ve still got Condi. At least she stands out in a crowd. (Ditto for Alberto Gonzales.)

August 14, 2007 at 11:54 am 1 comment

whoopie cushion

So it’s come to this. ABC installs a ‘nice’ black woman to be the moderator (i.e. buffer) of the opinionated TV coffee klatsch euphemistically known as “The View.” What has this world come to?

whoopie I love Whoopie. I love love love her. But even she bristled slightly yesterday at the idea that she could be herself on TV.

She pooh-poohed Barbara Walters’ comment about wanting to see the edgier Whoopie emerge and do some of the characters she made famous in her one-woman Broadway show.

Whoopie, smart woman that she is, knows what will and won’t be acceptable on TV. She told the story of a fan who’d seen “The Spook Show” on Broadway and – meeting her much later – said, “But you’re really nice.” “I’ve always been nice,” Whoopie said, adding that even when she did those provocative characters, she was a ‘nice’ person.

She also says her look won’t change – that she is who she is. I like the look she favors – oversized loose shirts, black jeans or dark pants, and her trademark Converse. If the wardrobe people are smart, they won’t mess with that.

But why why why is the burden placed on her to play ‘nice’ when that media moron, Elizabeth Hasselbeck, can say pretty much anything she wants with that vapid smile on her face and that lovely wardrobe draped across her coathanger body? The only difference between her and Rush Limbaugh is a couple hundred pounds and a bad Oxycontin habit – otherwise, they’re two shills spouting the same old same old.

Love or hate Rosie, the woman felt ethically driven to do something with her celebrity to try and take a stand.

Here’s hoping that Whoopie can be who she is, and not just an ornamental cushion of color on the set of the beigey beige “The View.”

August 2, 2007 at 10:07 am Leave a comment

better off dead? or unhappy and a lohan

Hand in hand with celebrity seems to come a ridiculous obsession with the romantic ideal of self-destruction.

Witness Lindsay Lohan’s latest arrest and her comment, ” I always said I would die before I went to rehab.”

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In response, I offer up a sonnet by William Wordsworth that I read in high school. (You’re zoning out, I can hear you starting to snore. Bear with me.) Here’s why this poem’s stuck with me all these years:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

Wordsworth wrote this exactly two hundred years ago in 1807, and we still struggle with these same petty concerns today.

Our lives are about the stuff. The more we get, the more we believe it will make us richer, powerful, happier, better than everyone else. But when we place ourselves in the center of the universe, we lose touch with what’s real and what grounds us – evidence of our temporal existence within the natural world.

Vast oceans, forests, canyons, skies – next to their timelessness, we see how insignificant we are. But that scares us, so we consume, we cocoon ourselves from reality and we turn away.

Being on the cover of People or OK! or Star magazine is the pop culture equivalent of a popcorn kernel that explodes quickly and goes stale just as quickly. The fops and dandies of a hundred or two hundred years ago – the celebrities of their times – aren’t names any of us recognize today. Yet somehow, Wordsworth still endures.

Lindsay’s fantasy about an early death leaves out the ultimate worst-case scenario for those concerned about paparazzi and image control. Here I go again, quoting poetry, but Wallace Stevens captured how ugly, how exposed we all become through death in “The Emperor of Ice Cream”and I can’t think of a better illustration:

If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream.

Someday, when they pull the shroud over her face, or scrape her remains out of a totaled car and zip them into a body bag, the pictures they print will be the last ones ever taken, horny feet and all. The lamp is truth – the final accounting – and the only emperor, the emperor of ice cream, is the end – death, nada, negation, obliteration, oblivion, buh-bye, lights out.

Nobody is better off dead. Life may be hard, but the other choice is eternal, irreversible, and not at all romantic for those left behind.



	

July 25, 2007 at 12:55 am 1 comment

anchors i weigh, or the case for the great white daddy

I’m a Gibson girl, and have been even before ABC made the monumental mistake of naming Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas co-anchors of World News after Peter Jennings died. From that first day that Charlie Gibson stepped in, I wanted him to stay – and I couldn’t understand why ABC didn’t.

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Yeah, I know – they wanted to ‘usher in the next generation’ as USA Today put it. But that’s what CBS wanted to do with Katie Couric, and look what that’s getting them.

So, CBS and ABC, want to know the secret? You can’t lure to network TV those that watch The Daily Show They aren’t interested, and never will be. The best you can do is bring back those of us who grew up with the nightly news in our homes – the boomers – and what we want to see is a Great White Daddy, not an overpaid White Sistah.

Why?

Simple enough. Great White Daddies reassure us. They can be younger Daddies like Charlie Gibson, or older folksy Daddies like Bob Schieffer, but they’re the guys we want holding our hands, metaphorically speaking, when they deliver the news, be it good or bad.

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Great White Daddies are kind of like a step down from God, and you don’t have to even believe in God to know that the prevailing image of God is that man on a cloud with a long white beard – he’s all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-comforting. That’s what our culture has spoon-fed us, and that’s what we want on the news, at least for now.

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Even if Bob Woodruff hadn’t been injured in a bomb blast in Iraq, and Elizabeth Vargas hadn’t become pregnant, the two of them would not have made it over the long haul. Bob Woodruff looked too much like the guy who wants to sell us mutual funds or long-term care insurance, and Elizabeth Vargas looked too hot for us to have around our husbands or teenage sons.

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These are not people we would have wanted inside our homes each night. Their personalities were too strong and too different from what we’ve come to expect in the anchor chair, and they weren’t soothing in the classic Great White Daddy way. Because when push comes to shove, when the news is bad, Great White Daddy is there to say, “There, there – I know it’s tough to bear, but I’m here and we’ll get through this together.”

As for Katie, why is she doing so poorly? Too many reasons to go into here. Want to be up reading this until 3am? Didn’t think so.

But one big reason is that Katie, as a blonde overpaid White Sistah, isn’t so great, isn’t so comforting, and isn’t so appealing.

What we want to wake up with is far from what we want to start winding down with, and Great White Daddies are the ones who tuck us in and reassure us. White Sistah just reminds us of all our own flaws and we’re so busy worrying about how much money she makes compared to us that we feel insecure and resentful.

Don’t wanna be tucked into bed by a cheerleader babysitter!!!! Want my daddy!!!

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Baby you can drive my car. Just don’t report the network evening news to me. I’d still rather have my Great White Daddy – and yes, the pun is intended.

Oh, BTW, Paris got sprung today, and I haven’t said a word up until now. Aintcha proud of me?

June 27, 2007 at 1:13 am 1 comment

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