Is Howard Stern getting serious, I mean, Sirius? I'm told that Stern visited the offices of Sirius, the satellite radio company, late last week and talked about moving his show onto their system. This would be a brilliant answer to Stern's current problems since he was bounced from six of Clear Channel's major stations for "indecency" on Feb. 25.
His show, thankfully, still runs on stations that belong to Infinity Broadcasting, Stern's syndicate. But Stern has voiced worry that even Infinity will eventually bow to FCC fines and terminate him. Satellite radio is not covered by the FCC or its regulations.
This would be quite a leap forward for Sirius, which prides itself on innovative programming. For example, it recently added a whole channel hosted and produced by Steve Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen and "Sopranos" fame, to its roster. Van Zandt's channel is based on his syndicated "Underground Garage" show.
Several times last week Stern talked about satellite radio during his show, but didn't mention that he'd actually had meetings with either system. (He said he'd "talked" to them.) Sirius would get an immediate jump-start of very calculable proportions if Stern joined because his legions of fans would have to get the Sirius system installed in their cars — which is easier than you think. (You can subscribe to it on the Internet, also.)
Because I've rented cars from Hertz in Los Angeles three times in the last month, I've had the experience of listening to Sirius myself, by coincidence. After being held hostage by regular radio for the last 20 years, all I can say is satellite is a breath of fresh air, and Sirius — with stations playing all kinds of music from R&B to Christian to country, and lots of talk (including from Fox News Channel) — is a hit on the verge of breaking big. If Stern takes this turn, he'll be remembered for launching an entire medium. Interesting, no?
I really feel for Jim Carrey. He tries so hard to make a serious film that will get him an Oscar nomination and the respect he thinks he doesn't have. Of course, what he doesn't realize is that he excels at what he does best, and that his brand of subversive comedy is enough of a contribution to the cinema of our generation.
Nevertheless, Carrey will open on Friday in Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," a movie people will either hate or love depending on what they've seen before and if the marketing folks at Focus Features can erase those memories. Because "Eternal Sunshine" is essentially a long nod to Christopher Nolan's "Memento" with odes to "Bewitched," Wim Wenders and a mishmash of previous movie riffs.
This isn't to say that "Eternal Sunshine" isn't unusual, highly ambitious or worthy of a look. It's all those things. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is adding to his oeuvre, a laundry list of wonderful oddball movies like "Being John Malkovich," "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," "Human Nature" and "Adaptation." Kaufman is a darling right now, and rightly so since he is one of the few members of his generation to bother trying new things.
But Kaufman can be uneven, too, and that's the problem with "Eternal Sunshine." Let's start with the trailer and the commercial for this film: It looks like a goofy comedy. It is not. There are comic moments, true, but "Eternal Sunshine" is essentially a pained and painful exploration of relationships. It is grimly tackled for about an hour, an hour that is fidgety and not fun and tedious beyond description.
In a nutshell: Joel Barish (Carrey), a loner and loser, seems to hook up with Clementine (Kate Winslet) on the beach at Montauk. Their relationship, such as it is, crystallizes on a Long Island Rail Road train ride to Rockville Centre (which isn't even Rockville Centre, but only Long Islanders will care about all those inconsistencies). What follows is a "Memento"-like recantation of their falling in and then out of love, with lots of clues and red herrings laid out along the way as we try to figure out the mystery of their trajectory.
As you have read, Clementine has had her memory erased (they can do this somewhere, Tom Wilkinson is the able doctor) to forget the bad times with Barish. So Barish decides, after being unable to let her go, to do the same. Only, as his painful memories evaporate, Barish wants to stop the process so he can save the good times. Only, it's too late.
As Samantha used to say on "Bewitched": Calling Dr. Bombay! Come right away! The people around Barish actually start disappearing the way they used to in photographs on "Bewitched" when characters went back in time and stupidly toyed with history.
Kaufman is great at breaking linear time, telling a movie story in three dimensions, cutting back and forth. It almost makes you wonder if that's the way he's living. (Let's look at his Palm Pilot.) Often his characters have funny, poignant or sad moments. But they are too few and too fuzzy. I just know this won't matter to a lot of the younger audience. There's a real "Emperor's New Clothes" feel about "Eternal Sunshine." But really, it's an idea that feels only partly put together, relying on other cinematic associations to make it work.
And then there's Carrey. In "The Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon," even "The Majestic," he's done so much work to show that he can act. "Eternal Sunshine" is probably his best work, especially in the second hour when the film leaves the dreary, underlit preciousness of the relationship and turns to sorting out the mystery of what's happened to Joel and Clementine. But even Carrey can't invest this movie with the adrenaline it needs. I just wish "Eternal Sunshine" had been more about the inner workings of the mind instead of the outside mechanism of Wilkinson's mind control.
Gondry is smart, though. He lays in a lot of Jon Brion's melancholy score — the same kind of stuff Brion does so well with Aimee Mann — at the right moments, giving the recapping of the Joel/Clementine relationship a wistfulness it didn't actually have. All love affairs should have this music as they're ending!
By the way, the long, odd title comes from a line in Alexander Pope's famous poem "Eloise to Abelard." (Pope is best known for "The Rape of the Lock," which used to be required reading.) There's a funny line about Pope in the movie, which will probably go over the heads of most of the audience since no one I asked after the screening had any idea who he was.
I don't know if it was intentional, but last night's season finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" could save the Broadway musical "The Producers." Larry David and David Schwimmer did such a good job as Bialystock and Bloom it would seem criminal if Mel Brooks didn't sign them up to replace Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick when they leave the show next month.
And how about "Curb?" Granted, last night's hour was excellent, with Brooks and Anne Bancroft re-enacting the bar scene from the movie of "The Producers" and using the conceit that they cast Larry in order to destroy the show. (Very "meta.") But last week's episode, with the play on "Survivor" vs. a Holocaust survivor, was brilliant and should win David another Emmy award. Let's hope even if he does go to Broadway, Larry will bring "Curb" back as soon as possible.
Nice zinger in today's Page Six about Mariah Carey's version of Def Leppard's "Bringing on the Heartbreak." In fact, the recording brought Carey excellent reviews and a lot of new listeners. She even performed the song live on the "Today" show from the Mall of America and won many kudos. It continues to be a radio hit for Carey ... This weekend, every outlet in the world reported Barbra Streisand would join the cast of "Meet the Fockers" playing Ben Stiller's mom. Of course, we told you that on Jan 25.