Grrr! Who's That Girl?

Ashlee Simpson | PlayStation 3 | Waikiki

Now I've seen it all.

Ashlee Simpson is starring as the fame-obsessed entertainer Roxy Hart in the London production of "Chicago," and there's no doubt in my mind that after all of the publicity the musical has received from this bit of stunt casting, it's only a matter of months, if not sooner, that Jessica Simpson's little sister will be Broadway bound, co-starring with Usher no less.

I tried my darndest to ignore her remarks from London, where she said she can relate to Roxy, but after I stared at the picture on Yahoo! News for so long trying to figure out if there was another woman going by the name Ashlee Simpson, I had to Grrr.

Who is that girl?

She looks nothing like the girl who was caught lip-synching on "Saturday Night Live" two years ago. I guess she really is trying to re-invent herself.

Did our girl Ashlee get a little work done?

Oh well, it's her face, I guess. But I have two words for you, Ash: Jennifer Grey.

Remember when the "Dirty Dancing" star re-appeared in a short-lived sitcom and nobody could place the face with the name? It's like deja vu all over again.

"The play is absolutely all about celebrity and wanting to be famous and having your name in the papers and your picture in the papers," Simpson told AP Radio.

In "Chicago," talent was also optional as long as you could make headlines, so in that regard, she's right.

You're a real method actor, Ashlee. Never mind the fact that it's not a play. It's a musical.

But mistakes like those, while a semantics issue, is really what's wrong with theater these days — and entertainment in general. The people making headlines in and around it don't really deserve them.

There used to be a time not so long ago when an actor had to make it on Broadway before Hollywood came calling.

James Cagney, Katharine Hepburn, Marlon Brando and James Dean all made big splashes on the Great White Way long before they were Hollywood celebrities.

Nowadays it's exactly the opposite, and one doesn't even need to be a good singer or theater actor to grace the famed stages of New York City. One only needs to have a wide fan base so producers can re-coup their investment quickly and perhaps eke out a profit.

And as we've seen, that wide fan base could be from the worlds of music, movies, television, even pornography, with reports that porn-star Ron Jeremy might be hitting the boards in an upcoming play, and Jenna Jameson's best selling memoir "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" is a shoo-in for a musical these days.

The list of Hollywood stars turned Broadway cash cows is long.

Rosie O'Donnell kicked off the stunt-casting trend as Rizzo in Tommy Tune's revival of "Grease" in the early '90s, and it's been downhill from there.

Bold-faced names in no particular order like Christian Slater, Christina Applegate, P. Diddy, Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Melanie Griffith and any number of "American Idol" contestants, such as Constantine Maroulis' upcoming turn in "The Wedding Singer" and Diana DeGarmo's run in "Hairspray."

Of course, when Hugh Jackman starred in "A Boy From Oz," he proved to the world why he's such a big star, as did Antonio Banderas in "Nine." However, their aforementioned compatriots from movies didn't fare so well.

"Stiff and self-conscious" was the best Roberts got from critics. Washington and Griffith didn't fare much better. But at least no one can say that these folks can't act. In movies, they're on top of their games.

But trust me, the critics will not be so nice to Ashlee Simpson when she makes her Broadway debut. But like Roxy Hart, she'll only care that we spell her name right.

Sony PlayStation 3

Is it just me, or are video game consoles way too expensive?

And once the new units are released, having one of its predecessors is pretty much useless since online gamers need to have the latest and greatest versions.

Sony has recently dropped its asking price for PS3 in Japan, but there are no plans to do so here in the States, so video game aficionados will have to shell out $500 for the console (more if you go for more storage), plus all the peripheral gear and game discs that go for more than $50 for anything worth playing.

It's gotten to the point where playing video games at your home can run you just as much as your kid's first car after you add up all of the versions, accessories and games.

Hell, I bought Madden 06 in May and played it twice. Now I need Madden 07 to play my brother-in-law online. Ridiculous.

But what's even more baffling about pricing for PS3 is that it comes with blue laser technology and the ability to play Blu-Ray High Definition discs, a next generation HD technology rivaling Toshiba's HDDVD, which can now be played on Microsoft's XBox 360.

The thing that's baffling is that a Blu-Ray disc player is going for about $1,000.

Why would anyone pay that kind of money when you could buy PS3 to not only watch the new HD format flicks, but to also play the games for half the price? It doesn't make any sense to me.

I just read that some Warner Brothers employees just applied for a patent (on their own) for a hybrid disc player that will play HD, HDDVD and Blu-Ray. Now if they can only figure out a way to play XBox, Nintendo and PlayStation games on it, they'd really have something.


Spent the weekend in Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, and since I'd be the biggest loser on the planet if I had anything to Grrr! about (well, there was the 15-year-old sitting next to me on the plane who asked me to order him a vodka cranberry), I wanted to give some Mahalo shout-outs to the local service industry.

Charlie at the Esprit bar at the Sheraton Waikiki was a friendly face at night; Shannon took care of all of the guests' orders at the pool and Marsha at Ocean Terrace is the grand dame of breakfast.

Meanwhile, John, Joey and Irene at the bar at the W Hotel at Diamondhead were great to hang out with, and Phillip's crew at Michelle's Restaurant is the best on the island.

Siri, our waitress at the Morton's bar, took good care of my brother and me, and watching NFL football at 7 a.m. at Duke's with bartender Troy was pretty cool. Football at 7 a.m. And I thought Hawaii couldn't get any better!

Needless to say, no Grrrs there, and Mahalo to all.

If you're heading to Hawaii, mid-September is the best time to do it. You pretty much have the Honolulu beach scene all to yourself.

As far as the kid on the plane, I was pretty shocked. However, I tried to play it cool, and explained to him how getting arrested at the Honolulu airport for endangering the welfare of a minor would be bad for my career, my family and me, and told him he'd live without the cocktail.

And no, I didn't get a tattoo on this trip.


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