I am old enough and wise enough to know that we all have different taste in everything from climate to automobiles, from wine to food to fashion. “That’s what makes a horserace,” some codger older than me said at some point in time somewhere. But when it comes to entertainment, like them or not, there are people whose talent is incontrovertible:
Just to name a few. In the end, we may differ on who we like or don’t, but there exists an elite group of performers, many earning millions of dollars a year, who just don’t entertain me. Make your own list. Let’s see who articulates it better…
If Frank Sinatra came back to life, walked into New York’s Loew’s Regency and heard Michael Feinstein singing “Luck Be a Lady Tonight,” he’d say, “Okay, I lied – I was in the mob,” then filet Feinstein like a brook trout. Why is it “Michael Feinstein’s American Songbook?” Did he write the songs? Did he make them famous? Maybe I’ll put some shit together in one of those 5-subject college-rule spiral notebooks and call it, “Mollie’s Lennon-McCartney Songbook. “ Can he sing? Okay enough, I guess. If I want to hear Cole Porter, there’s Ella Fitzgerald. “Puttin’ on the Ritz”? Benny Goodman, Fred Astaire, even Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle in “Young Frankenstein. “Cheek to Cheek”? I’d rather hear Ricky Ricardo. I know he’s a gay icon and rich blue-haired dowagers who still slug back Apricot Sours and Rob Roys and stain cigarette filters with their Hazel Bishop crimson red lipstick are still convinced they can get him to “play for their team,” hurling tarp-sized panties at him. Strike three. You’re out. Finally, nowhere in the Torah is it written that once a Jewish person becomes rich, famous, or otherwise successful, that he must change the pronunciation of his last name, Michael Finesteeeeeeeeeeeeeen. Amen.
THE COMICS ON “CHELSEA LATELY
I cannot be the only person who’s picked up on the fact that, other than Ross, the gay intern from Jay Leno’s show, the rest of the dregs sitting behind that table are as funny as a colonoscopy prep. Okay, Chelsea – maybe in the beginning you were feeling insecure, so you had to surround yourself with this odd mixture of these mostly homely anorexic white women and fugly men of every race and, pretty much insult them to get a cheap laugh. Don’t get me wrong – I would insult them too, especially if vodka was my favorite food group. But this is like high school, when the cute girl would go to the school dance with the fat girl and the gawky girl and the acne-girl and suddenly “cute” became “Angelina Jolie.” If you’re really confident, Chels, load that table with Chris Rock, Wanda Sykes and Larry David instead of these props with a pulse.
Perdóneme? Mark Consuelos? Mr. Kelly Ripa? An entertainer? As anyone who’s observed the ratings of” Live with Regis and Kelly” since Regis’s “demise,” despite her fame and riches, (some of which come from a TD bank commercial where she pretends to bring her loose change to a coin-counting machine which is, in fact entertaining in a most pathetic way), it’s a stretch to call her an “entertainer. In fact, after all these years, she still hasn’t convinced me. Being famous for saying, “I don’t know what that means, Rege,” is not quite the same thing as being famous for saying, “We’ll always have Paris.” I can hear her grating mouse-voice in my head right now saying, “What do you mean – ‘You’ll always have Paris’? How can you ‘have’ Paris? Isn’t that a country in Europe? Well, I guess the Germans ‘had’ Paris for a couple of years. It was the Germans, right? I get them confused with the Scottish. Was it Hitler who said that, Rege….?”
If someone is one of the world’s best-paid actors but I have to turn away from the screen every time his face is on it or suffer alternating waves of nausea and incredulity, am I truly being entertained? Sorry, but I call dibs on being creeped out by Nicholas Cage since “When Peggy Sue Got Married.” I didn’t have to wait until the IRS was after him or for him to be accused of spousal abuse or finding out he bought a Bavarian medieval castle for no apparent reason, or that he named his son “Kal-El,” or that he claims to have created his own acting method which he calls “Noveau Shamanic.” Any of the above by itself is either reprehensible and/or insane. Is this entertaining? Maybe in a very cruel, giggle-when-no-one-is-looking kind of way, like dwarf tossing or Monique’s “Fat Chance” televised beauty pageant for plus-sized women who she called “ Phat-and-Phabulous.” I just can’t look at Nicholas Cage’s face. He’s unattractive enough to have been a character actor. But he always plays the leading man. I’m not just talking about Coen Brothers leading men, who can run the gamut from George Clooney to John Turturro. He was the leading man in “Moonstruck,” and “It Could Happen To You,” and “City of Angels.” When I want anyone else to “get the girl,” even the lifers in “Con Air,” that’s a problem.
Yes, I know – she whines and says “vagina” a lot. Whining is never entertaining. Vaginas can be entertaining but certainly not by just repeating the word as if one were singing “A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I believe many of you were tricked into thinking she was a brilliant comedian when she was the girlfriend of someone who is truly funny, Jimmy Kimmel. And you used to refer to her as the “really pretty comedian,” which I suppose holds an element of truth in relative terms – when held next to Lisa Lampinelli or Heather McDonald or Corey Kahaney, I guess you can call her the “really pretty comedian.” Otherwise, she looks like every girl I went to sleep-away camp with who had a brother named Ira or Seth, an upper lip she had to bleach at 12 years old, and a habit of asking, “Do these shorts make my legs look fat?” And, 35 years later, may I say, “Yes. Yes, they do,” and “And I don’t give a shit that you don’t have to clean a bunk at home – pick up your filthy laundry until you marry some guy who hires a cleaning lady for you.” Thanks.
Leonard Cohen was old when I was 17 and I am many decades past that age. Now he’s older. He couldn’t sing when he was 70. Oh that’s right – he’s not a singer, is he? He’s a songwriter. I defy anyone reading this to name five songs written by Leonard Cohen. I can name five songs written by Carole King and she’s not looked at as anything but an old hippie with a good voice. If a song falls in a forest and no one hears it, are you still a songwriter? Often, and by only the most pretentious of human beings, I am corrected. “Leonard Cohen isn’t a songwriter! He’s a poet!” Oh. Really? Shelley was a poet. Emily Dickinson was a poet. If she were alive today it’s unlikely she’d be releasing “The Best of Emily Dickinson” CDs. “Now, for the first time on the same album – ‘I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died’ and ‘Because I Could Not Stop For Death’ – the Remix.’” Did you know that Leonard Cohen’s last album, “Old Ideas,” was released in January 2012? Neither did anyone else.
I’ll admit. You had me fooled there for a while. You played Henry Hill’s wife in
“Goodfellas” with such authenticity and ease, I sat in my seat thinking, “Best Supporting Oscar.” But then I watched you in “Getting Gotti” and “Rizzoli and Isles” and, of course, “The Sopranos.” And I finally realized this was pretty much it. You may have been older, you may have worn serious suits and “smart” glasses on “The Sopranos,” but all I could think of every time I saw you was, “Wow – Henry Hill’s wife got her doctorate.” That, and the fact that the camera always focused on your calves and I still don’t know why. It would be like back-lighting Bobby Baccalieri’s stomach or Silvio’s hair. And here’s the thing of it – I know shrinks are supposed to sound calm and objective, but you sounded like you were on Propofol. You are not entertaining me and therefore, you are not an entertainer. You have no range. Okay – wait – that’s cold. You have the range of – well – of a range.
Okay – you have a voice. You may even have THE voice. The voters and the judges goofed big-time when they voted you off “American Idol,” but look who had the last laugh. And that’s what bothers me. Well, the first thing that bothers me is that you have those really crazy eyes. They were crazy-crazy on “Idol,” but maybe one of your managers advised you to take them down to just one-level crazy. But the other thing that bothers me is that you are an incredible entertainer yet what you are going to be remembered for is wailing, “…And I’m feeling good!” on those Weight Watchers ads. Stop! You’re thin. You’re rich. Maybe you lost the weight doing Weight Watchers, maybe you did it by eating grapefruits and steaks every other Thursday, maybe you puked after every meal. Don’t care. Just stop – stop the hawking, stop the singing duets with your “fatter” self. Stop being so elated, especially because the odds of keeping the weight off over a 5-year period is roughly – well – slimmer than you are now.
You are pretty. Beautiful, even. But Beautiful is to Entertaining as Tangy is to Bookworm. In other words, they don’t necessarily have anything to do with one another. Just because you say, “It’s time for the Quick Fire Challenge,” doesn’t make you entertaining. You were hired on “Top Chef” for the same reason the former Mrs. Billy Joel was – you’re easy on the eyes. I’m not fooled into thinking you are anything other than the pretty gift-wrap just because you say “that lime infusion gave the dish just the right bite,” or “I can still feel those chili flakes on my tongue.” Perhaps if you tap-danced while saying, “Please pack your knives and go,” I’d be mildly amused. But until then, nothing you say about food holds any weight for me. Although he’s too old for a glory patch and holds a fork like a spaz, I believe Tom Collichio because at least he’s a chef. Same reason I believe Eric Ripert. I find Gail Simmons mildly amusing, pretty much because she really believes she’s a celebrity chef even though she’s a magazine editor who really should think twice about wearing sleeveless dresses. Marrying famous apostate literary authors who have fatwahs placed on them by the Ayatollah Khomeini also makes you famous. But it still doesn’t make you entertaining.
Please note that there is a difference between “talented” and “entertaining.” There’s no question Ms. Zellwegger can act and kudos for keeping your kooky long last name. But there’s something creepy here and I know I’m not alone. I’m not sure if it’s the squinty eyes or the fact that she thought the weight she put on for both “Bridget Jones” films made her appear “whale-like,” just because she couldn’t see her thoracic vertebrae through her down parka. Amusing? For sure. Entertaining? You decide.
First, let’s change his name to Merlin for escaping all of the bad press and/or blame for the “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” debacle. Okay, okay – we read reams on how Julie Taymor’s “vision” was to blame but jeez – it’s not like Bono was off running Africa during rehearsals, though word has it he thinks he was. He’s been honored by NBC News for “Making a Difference” in the world. What difference would that be? Given the choice between Bono and Sonny Bono, I’ll take the latter every time. He wore furry vests and massive bell bottoms and had shaggy hair. And, a sense of humor. This U2 Bono guy — looks like it would take a lot to get him to crack a smile. Always so serious trying to save the world and humanity and mankind and such. Yes, he co-wrote the Band Aid little diddy, “Feed the World,” back in 1984 but, last time I looked, much of the world was still pretty hungry. I know he talks about Africa a lot and I know that the U2 2007 tour, Vertigo, grossed over $389 million but I don’t think much of that if that money made its way from Ireland to Swaziland, particularly with Bono’s exorbitant sunglasses bill. Bono is extremely wealthy and I know that that must be entertaining to his band members, immediate family and accountants. Unfortunately, I do not fall into any of those categories.