Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe that trashy cancelled talk shows can come back as new, shiny ones?
Telepictures Productions apparently does. As this column reported on June 12th, and as Page Six updated yesterday, this syndication company is trying to launch Sharon Osbourne's new show in September.
But I can tell you right now that beneath the facade of Osbourne's show is now lurking the cancelled grotesquerie known as "Jenny Jones." That's because Telepictures, in an act of desperation, has rounded up former "Jenny Jones" producers to come west from Chicago to L.A. and start producing shows.
Kerrie Moriarity and her assistant, Natalie Watts, are already installed in the L.A. offices and working their magic on Sharon's show. Moriarity, the former executive producer of JJ's classic chat fest, was responsible for hours of fun that included strippers attached to lie detectors, white teens who said they were black and mothers who entered their five-year-old daughters in beauty pageants.
"Jenny Jones," of course, was the show that became infamous when a surprised guest subsequently murdered his "secret crush," who turned out to be gay. Even though trials and civil suits followed, the brave producers continued to surprise unsuspecting people with potential paramours.
So what does the otherwise outspoken Sharon Osbourne think of this change in direction? Originally she was just going to interview celebrities. But Ozzy's determined wife definitely is not interested in "Jenny Jones" redux. She tells the great writer Gerri Hirshey in the current issue of Ladies Home Journal:
"I detest Jerry Springer. I detested Sally Jessy's [Raphael] and Jenny Jones' shows. They're demeaning to people, just degrading and humiliating."
Hmmm. Maybe Sharon didn't understand that her over-producer at Telepictures, Mary Duffy, was Sally Jessy's long-time producer.
Now that Moriarity has moved in, my sources tell me that she and her staff have literally picked up where they left off on the sleaze train.
"They've gone into their bag of tricks, using materials left over the from the Jones show."
But Jim Paratore, who heads up Telepictures and is responsible for the show, says this is not so.
"We're not doing DNA tests or lie detectors or having surprise confrontations or running Army boot camps," he told me. "Just because a producer has done one kind of show doesn't mean they can't do another. I pulled Kerrie off of a pilot to help me get this show organized."
Paratore cited yesterday's rerun of an Oprah show about a married transsexual as his paradigm. "It's all about how you do it. That could have been sleazy but it wasn't. Our goal is to be respectful and do things in a not sensational way."
Sharon Osbourne's show debuts on September 15th. I guess we'll have to wait until then to see exactly what the future holds for her.
The tsunami of bad press about the new movie "Gigli" is now coming at us fast. Is this column to blame? Yeah, I hated the movie. My comments about it from Tuesday's posting have become ubiquitous.
A couple of postscripts then about what is, indeed, a terrible mistake of a movie. Believe it or not, Jennifer Lopez is not a terrible actress.
Ben Affleck isn't the worst actor in the world either. But the material, the tone, the attitude -- none of it works in "Gigli." Do they chemistry in this movie? No. But no actors could. It's not possible.
Back to Lopez: I actually kind of enjoyed her when she wasn't using four-letter words or vulgarisms more appropriate for Cinemax after dark. She has an odd track record in film, but there's always Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight" on video as a reminder that Lopez can do it. She has a lot of charm when used effectively.
The biggest problem with "Gigli" is how anyone who read that script would want to make the movie. The basic premise, a lesbian hitwoman and a Tony Soprano hitman being thrown together, is not bad. But the minute the guy has to "convert" the woman, we're in trouble. Someone saw this as an Affleck vehicle because of "Chasing Amy." But that movie was a quirky, independent film with no expectations. It was spontaneous, unfettered, and unencumbered. "Gigli" is just the opposite, a massive tick of self-consciousness.
So many ideas in "Gigli" are misappropriated from other films. Why, for example, the whole "Rain Man" rip-off? How could anyone who read the script not immediately flag the business of an autistic kid needing to see "Baywatch" -- and repeating it ceaselessly -- wasn't just the "Wapner" shtick from the earlier movie? And not a cult film either, but an Academy Award winner?
I would also like to know why the main character's name is Gigli? In the movie, Affleck merely states that the word rhymes with "really." Really?
What in tarnation does this mean and why is it important? Is he named for the designer, Romeo Gigli? Or the opera singer, Beniamino Gigli? I suspect neither.
Meanwhile, so as to not to further the fan the flames, I will tell you this here, as a gift for reading all the way to the bottom of this column. If you watch the trailer for "Gigli," you will see two scenes that aren't even in the movie. The longest one is right at the start of the trailer, a conversation between Affleck and Lainie Kazan as his mother.
This was obviously in the film, but cut when the snipping became fast, furious, and frenetic to try and reshape the story. Too bad; it would have been a lot nicer than the scene they did keep with Lainie, of Ben giving her an insulin shot in the rear. That, dear readers, should be rated triple-X.