After "Old School" and "Elf," can Will Ferrell score a hat trick with “Anchorman"? We’ll find out with this weekend’s opening. There are some big laughs, but to me the storyline felt too much like one of lead character Ron Burgundy’s polyester suits: held together by cheap threads.
The funniest bit of Wednesday’s New York premiere of the film at The Museum of Television and Radio came after the movie: Ferrell’s live Q&A, in character, with former CBS newsman Bill Kurtis. Kurtis, now a host on A&E, also narrates the film.
Ferrell, of course, was terrific, but who knew that Kurtis had such impeccable comic timing!? And he’s daring. He asked Burgundy about his supposed bisexual exploits, and in a hilarious bit, Burgundy opened up about having had a long-term relationship with famed New York sports reporter Warner Wolf.
During a word-association game, Kurtis offered up “nipples.” (Burgundy’s reply: “Men.”) My guess is that in the presence of Ferrell/Burgundy, Kurtis’s attitude was “When in Rome…,” which is a line often used to humorous effect in the film. (See it and you’ll know what I mean.)
At the premiere party, I chatted with Rev. Al Sharpton, who was there with his two daughters, one of whom is working as an assistant to Russell Simmons’ wife, Kimora Lee Simmons. I spoke with Sharpton mostly because I was curious about his becoming a reality TV star. You may have read that Sharpton is shooting a new series for Spike TV called “I Hate My Job,” in which he counsels young men on how to ditch their dead-end jobs and achieve their life-long fantasies. So far he’s only shot one episode; he’s heading to L.A. this week to resume production of the series.
It’s funny, at first we were somewhat (and I say somewhat) surprised when a rich guy like Donald Trump felt compelled to throw himself into what is still widely perceived as TV’s bargain-basement bin of reality programming. Now, even former presidential candidates want to become reality stars to extend their stay in the spotlight.
I can hardly wait for the first installment of “Who Wants to Marry Dennis Kucinich?”!
Remember when ripped-from-the-headlines TV movies had to do with babies falling into wells or Texas cheerleader moms gone berserk? Terrible incidents — but at least they were isolated events that most of us fortunately missed out on in our everyday lives. Now in this age of terrorism, networks have big, dramatic, headlines from which to draw — and plotlines that are sadly too familiar.
TNT network offers a new limited series premiering July 19 called “The Grid,” and if you’re not hiding under your kitchen table waiting for the next terrorist attack, you may want to check it out. The story centers around a sarin gas leak in London, and the fallout is so reflective of real life it may make you shiver (in one scene, members of the CIA, FBI and the National Security Council argue about why their agencies have such difficulty sharing information).
Julianna Margulies (formerly of "ER") and Dylan McDermott (ex-star of "The Practice") star as NSC and FBI workers, respectively. There are also strong performances from Tom Skerritt and Piter Marek as CIA agents, and British actors Jemma Redgrave (Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave’s niece) and Bernard Hill as counter-terrorism agents. (The series is co-produced by the BBC). You’ll even hear direct references to Al Qaeda and bin Laden. A well-done series, but again — you were forewarned.
Some other things to look for, for a variety of tastes: Remember Richard Marx, the pop star whose hits in the ’80s and ’90s included “Don’t Mean Nothing” and “Should’ve Known Better”? Well, he’s giving his career another shot with a new album due in August called “My Own Best Enemy.” (What you become when you disappear for a good decade or so?) The songs aren’t a radical diversion from his previous work — easily digestible, solidly constructed pop songs that seem to find listeners, whatever the decade.
If you were a fan of the hugely-successful Blue Collar Comedy Tour, three of the four comics — Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy (Ron White was the fourth) — will try to recreate their redneck magic for the sketch comedy show “Blue Collar TV,” premiering on the WB network July 29.
And, finally, a plug for my friend Janice Kaplan’s very funny new novel co-written with Lynn Schnurnberger — called "The Botox Diaries," and available from Ballantine Books. In the vein of voyeuristic chick lit, it’s delicious summer reading!