Category Archives: Television

Amazing Amy Poehler

 

Amy Poehler

 

Today I’m celebrating the funny, classy,  inspirational Amy Poehler. Poehler was recently named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year 2009 for her success as an entertainer and her ongoing projects that engage young women, like the web show Smart Girls at the Party. This ambitious comedian stars in her own prime time NBC show Parks and Recreation as well as voicing ten-year old dynamo Bessie Higgenbottom on Nickelodeon’s The Mighty B! a show she co-created with Erik Weise and Cynthia True.

Clips from Poehler’s interview on \”Inside the Actor\’s Studio\”.

My favorite Poehler sketch, despite numerous classics from her stint on SNL, is still the NYC UCB long form improv sketch from ASSSSCAT with Tina Fey “Monkey Boners”. Watch it below…

ASSSSCAT Improv TV special

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Tina and Amy “Monkey Boners”“, posted with vodpod

 

Katey Sagal

Katey Sagal as Gemma Morrow in Sons of Anarchy

I was having dinner at a friend’s house the other night when the subject of marriage and morality came up. Yeah, it was that kind of dinner party. At one point the conversation turned to media representations of marital bliss and the man next to me said, “you know the single most detrimental media influence on the American marriage?”

Dramatic pause…\”Married With Children\”.

At the time I thought that was a bit of an exaggeration (and still do) but I was reminded of just how popular the show was. The sitcom debuted in 1987 on the nascent FOX network at a time when the highly touted Cosby show topped the Nielsen charts and set the tone for the American TV family. By 1989 the show’s cult following had blossomed into a national obsession and MWC consistently won it’s time slot in the ratings game prompting FOX to charge the same amount for commercials that CBS charged for Sixty Minutes.  Just recently, the show made Time Magazine’s list of  Best 100 TV Shows of All Time.

What struck me as ironic is that the same actress I admire for her grounded performance as the tough-as-nails matriarch of a motorcycle gang in the gritty drama Sons of Anarchy was also the bouffant, bon-bon stuffing matriarch of the dysfunctional Bundy clan, the versatile Katey Sagal.

When I delved a little further I discovered a multi-talented woman who, despite a very successful film and television career, counts music as her first love. Sagal’s musical career includes stints as a backup singer for Bob Dylan, Etta James and she was one of Better Midler’s “Harlettes” in the late seventies and early eighties. She’s also released a couple of CDs of her own including the well reviewed 2004 release from Valley Entertainment, \”Room\”.

But it’s her portrayal of the resilient Gemma Morrow that really resonates with me, a pitch perfect blend of flint and vulnerability. When so many female roles are still confined to “girlfriend”, “wife” or “detective” it’s refreshing to find a character so complex, flawed and imminently watchable. Thanks to the show’s creator Kurt Sutter (also Sagal’s husband) for writing such a great role and to Sagal for tackling it with relish.

Check out the following links for interviews with Sagal on her portrayal of Gemma Morrow…

CNN interview

Chicago Tribune blog

Check out Sons of Anarchy Tuesday nights at 10PM on FX.

Rising Star Zoe Saldana

Ziegfeld Theater

Zoe Saldana

Provenance…Queens, New York with a stint in the Dominican Republic for boarding school. Saldana won a scholarship to Ritmos Espacio de Danza Academy, where she studied ballet, jazz, and modern and Latin dance. In fact, it was her dance skills that led to her first major film role in Center Stage, (2000) but her acting skills placed her opposite Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl.

Point of EntryLaw and Order/\”Merger\”/1999

Sur Les Pointes…Saldana’s star turn in J.J. Abrams successful reimagining of the classic \”Star Trek\” as Nyota Uhura.

Pointless…A lead role in the 2002 Britney Spears vehicle, \”Crossroads\”.

Power Play…Scoring a starring role in the most anticipated film event of the year, James Cameron’s sci-fi thriller \”Avatar\”.

PressA woman men love according to AskMen.com.

Photo Montage…Vanity Fair brings the native New Yorker back to her old stomping grounds for a Harlem Renaissance photo shoot.

Pictures…a Rotten Tomatoes filmography.

ParlayEsquire interview (with expletives)

 

 

 

Nikki Finke Dishes It Out and Hollywood Loves It

Maybe I’m dating myself but do you remember the old EF Hutton commercial…”when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen”? Well, when it comes to the Hollywood establishment, that applies ten fold to Nikki Finke. Author of the fast and furious blog Deadline Hollywood Daily, Nikki Finke has her fingers on the pulse of the L.A. based entertainment industry and she’s not afraid to apply pressure.

She’s been described as relentless and harsh and thuggish but she’ll be laughing all the way to the bank when the check comes in for the multi-million dollar sale of her blog to Mail.com Media Corp.

Finke

I started reading Finke’s blog upon the suggestion of a close friend of mine who works in casting. She mentioned it in that “guilty pleasure” tone, like it’s the kind of thing you read with a giggle and lots of bon-bons. Finke’s pull-no-punches style is a heady mix of investigative journalism (debatable) and Walter Winchell style gossip and I love it. I think the fact that Variety felt the need to attack her personally in a series of “fear the blogger” articles indicates that she probably gets more right than she does wrong.

She’s an ardent supporter of creatives and writers. Her blog served as an up to the minute portal for information during the WGA strike. Nikki Finke is not afraid to take the power elite to task in a company town. Accountability is as rare on Rodeo Drive as it is on Wall Street and that makes Nikki Finke and blogs like Deadline Hollywood Daily a necessary counterbalance to the old media establishment.  One recent post outs the salaries of the major media CEOs which are wildly out of sync with stock performance and shareholder equity. Searched Variety.com. Couldn’t find anything on it.

It’s true, she can be a little harsh at times. In one post she describes Nicole Kidman; “she has zero charisma onscreen: women don’t like her and men think she’s sexless”. Ouch. Except, I kind of agree. And that’s the great thing about Nikki Finke and blogs in general, they’re opinion portals. You should always take the information you recieve from them with a grain of salt. In fact, with the current state of journalism and media we should be taking all of our information or “news” with a grain of salt. Hello! FOX “News”? Not so much.

Hammer’s Time

USA Network CEO, Bonnie Hammer

USA Network CEO, Bonnie Hammer

Let’s start with the good news. On July 1st something truly historic happened in American business, Xerox became the first Fortune 500 company to be helmed by an African American woman. When former CEO, Anne Mulcahy passed the mantle to Ursula Burns it was the first woman to woman CEO handoff.

The bad news is that Burns became only the 15th female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. That’s right, out of the top 500 companies, only fifteen of the CEOs are women. That’s sad. Despite the fact that current statistics hold that women receive six out of ten college degrees and “in 2006 and 2007, (Executive) performance of men and women was almost identical” according to an article in USA Today women just aren’t crashing through that glass ceiling. When they do attain the top position they’re not paid as well as their male counterparts, about 1.7 million on average which is about 85% the median range salary of a male CEO in the Fortune 500.

So, I’m damn glad and happy any time I read an article about an astute and successful female CEO. In this case it’s the CEO of USA Network, Bonnie Hammer. The article is in the latest issue of Newsweek and it details Hammer’s career path and her strategy for choosing the innovative and character driven shows that have made USA Network the most watched cable network. One aspect of her management style, inclusion, is considered a more feminine approach but one that has benefited the corporate culture at USA. “Bonnie’s management style is inclusiveness,” says Jeff Wachtel, the network’s top Hollywood exec, who concedes he’d wondered at first, “Why are all these people in my business?” But he’s a believer now.”

Hammer’s inclusive approach works well and she’s been known to go out on a limb budget wise for shows she believes in creatively. Personally, I think it’s this combination of inclusion and vision that makes her successful in the entertainment industry. Interestingly, in the USA Today article I found this quote…

“The January Harvard Business Review includes a 360-degree feedback study by Herminia Ibarra and Otilia Obodaru. It finds that female leaders are seen by all around them to be strong in such traits as tenacity and emotional intelligence, but trail men in one important aspect: Their superiors, peers and subordinates say that women leaders lack vision.”

I don’t think that business women lack vision or talent. I sometimes wonder though, if the women who rise to the top are the ones that tend to conform the most. This may sound really sexist, but one of the articles I researched had photos of seven of the top female CEOs and out of the seven, only two have long hair. In fact, most of them looked, well, sexless. Not exactly masculine but with short hair, not a lot of makeup etc. I’ve always thought that being charming and sexy was more of a liability in the workplace but that’s a whole ‘nother post.

In the meantime, congratulations to Bonnie Hammer for a job well done, taking the USA Network to a whole new level and giving the viewing public quality, character driven entertainment. And ladies, keep tapping!

Carol’s Got Talent

AGTlogosmall Sixty two year old Carol Lugo is my mom’s new hero. When she told me to check out Carol\’s audition on YouTube I was wowed by this woman’s ferocious energy. Apparently so were the judges and the audience that gave her an almost immediate standing ovation.

Dance really is ageless. Amazing talent!

Ice Queen

Lisa Kelly, Ice Road Trucker

Lisa Kelly, Ice Road Trucker

Petite, beautiful blonde with paper cut cheekbones and a winsome smile. An accurate description of a new reality tv star but this isn’t the latest addition to the “Housewives of Orange County”, this is Lisa Kelly, ice road trucker. History Channel’s third season of the hit show “Ice Road Truckers” welcomes young gun Lisa as the first female trucker in the cast. I’ve just started watching the show and the hold-your-breath moments come fast and furious as big rigs hurtle north up the treacherous Dalton Highway in Alaska, delivering goods to the oil rigs on Prudhoe Bay. Having been to Fairbanks and Anchorage a few times I know it’s cold, the kind of cold that burns your throat as you inhale and numbs bare fingers in moments. I can’t imagine jumping out of my cozy cabin to put one hundred and fifty pounds of chain on the tires of my big rig to navigate through an Arctic storm but that’s what Lisa does. She’s pretty badass.

So far she’s driven through a complete blizzard whiteout with an oversized load, chained all her tires in under an hour, lost her brakes as she slid unmercifully toward and oncoming truck. Through it all she held it together and stayed on her game with a bright sense of humor and far less drama than one sees on your average episode of “The Hills”. I love dangerous jobs reality fare but so far the casts of the shows in this vein, “Deadliest Catch”, “Ax Men” are mostly male. It’s refreshing to see a woman in danger and on point, or thin ice in this case. But that’s ok, I think she can handle it.

Check out a video about Lisa.

And definitely watch the show!