Friday, September 29, 2006

It's coming, it's coming!!
Yes, folks, we're less than a week away from the season 3 premiere of Lost, and could the poster for it be any more amazing? Charlie looks evil, Hurley looks stoned, Henry is peeking out from the shadows, Sayid looks confident, Desmond is ALIVE, Sawyer/Kate/Jack look possessed, Eko's half hidden, and Locke's eye is peering out at us. Claire and Jin are off to the side; I wonder if that means their characters will be, too?

In case you haven't heard, they've announced who the first 5 flashbacks will be, and I'll put it at the end of this post with a spoiler warning, so you can keep reading if you don't want to know, and stop when I warn you to.

My book, Finding Lost, came out in stores last week and my publicist has been getting me interviews everywhere. I've done nooner and drive-home radio shows; print interviews in Canada and the U.S.; and next week I'm doing TV, which should be fun.

David Kronke from the L.A. Daily News did an interview with me that was a lot of fun, and he had some inside scoop on stuff that was upcoming on the show. I told him at the outset that I didn't like spoilers, and when he started to tell me some of them, I'll admit I held the phone away from my ear for some of it. But the stuff he told that I did listen to was pretty cool stuff, and he was definitely a knowledgeable fan of the show.

I did a radio show in Kentucky run by a husband and wife team who bickered through part of it, and I loved them to death. They were HILARIOUS ("Tom's been keeping this book all to himself and won't let me look at it" "That's not true!"). They pushed the book a lot, talked about the show (they both watch it pretty faithfully but had missed a couple of episodes, so I filled them in on what they missed) and allowed me to go a lot more indepth on some answers than just, "Who is your favourite character"-type stuff.

Yesterday I did CFRB Radio in Toronto and it was a call-in show, and it was a lot of fun to answer the pretty tough questions some of the fans had (a lot wanted to know about the numbers, and one asked an interesting question about the Eastern philosophical influence on the show through things like Dharma).

I was interviewed by a guy in New Jersey who was very funny and a HUGE fan of the show. Bill Ervelino writes for The Record, and he also blogs specifically on Lost, and his interview with me ran in today's blog. I'm looking forward to checking in with his blog on a regular basis, especially when the show begins.

One of my favourite interviews was with a woman at the Connecticut Post, because she'd spent the summer reading all of the books related to Lost, so she was a woman after my own heart, since I'd spent months doing exactly the same thing. (Unfortunately, the article was taken down so I can't link to it.)

The LOW point of the interviewing has no doubt been doing the Mancow show. Think Howard Stern, minus the brain cells and sense of humour. Then you've pretty much got Mancow. His producer told my publicist they were all huge fans of the show, and that Mancow had specifically requested me because he wanted to talk about it. My publicist knew he was a shock jock sort of thing and told me to be prepared. I'd dealt with obnoxious morning hosts before, and I knew what this guy was like, so I was prepared for the rudeness. What I wasn't prepared for was the downright idiocy. He was ranting about how some gov't official had called his show stupid and anyone who listened to it stupid (well, duh), and then proved how WRONG that person was by... being... stupid. Turns out the producer wasn't being very truthful -- Mancow doesn't watch Lost, has very little interest in Lost, and frankly, I think the show's concepts would be too far over his head, so it's a good thing. He kept me on hold for 15 minutes ranting about one thing after another, then jumped me on the air, asked me if he could watch the S3 premiere if I'd never seen the show before, I said no, you should watch the first two seasons, and he said, "So I gotta watch 2 seasons of a show AND read a book? No thanks. What's in the hatch?" I said, "I'm sorry?" "What's in the hatch?" "That was a season 2 mystery, and it was an experimental station that's being researched by another station, and..." "All right, enough of that" and boom, I was gone.

If you want to watch a great sneak preview that lasts about 3 minutes, from the show's season 3 premiere, check it out at YouTube. It's very exciting, not only to see something new, but it looks like they've put Sawyer in a cage VERY akin to a B.F. Skinner experiment that I talked about at length in the book (see page 187). So that was awesome for me to see.

And finally, the Spoiler about who the first five flashbacks will be (stop reading here if you don't want to know):
Ep 1 -- Jack; Ep 2 -- Sun/Jin; Ep 3 -- Locke; Ep 4 -- Desmond; Ep 5 -- Eko
I don't know about you, but I am super excited about all five of those! I've heard some speculation that the 4th ep is actually Sawyer, not Des, but I think it'll be more fun if it's Des.

That's it for me. For now. Watch next week when I'll be on eTalk Daily in Canada and G4TV in the U.S.!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Forget The Donald, Give me The Tyra
I'm usually one of the first people to rail against the evils of reality television, but I have my supreme reality pleasures -- Amazing Race, Rock Star: Supernova, and anything starring Gordon Ramsay. But my biggest squeeee comes from the premiere of America's Next Top Model. I don't know what it is about this show that makes me happy, but somehow, having Tyra Banks back on my television (even if I hate her most of the time and just want to reach into the set and throttle her) just makes me a happy person.

The new season began last night on the brand-spankin-new CW network and Tyra was in fine form. There was a bunch of the usual stuff:
-some girl decided to just say no to "takin' her clothes off just because some cotton-pickin' guy told me to, no way, that's not what Jaysus would want of me" and then got booted for it
-Miss Jay (a.k.a. Mushmouth) pranced around looking like a 7-foot-tall moron and wanting people to call him "she." Um, yeah. Please don't do that, Miss Jay. We women don't want you in our club.
-Mister Jay was awesome
-Tyra tried to "debunk" stereotypes while upholding them simultaneously, something she magically does every episode, and we love her for it
-someone broke down in the audition crying because "no one thought I was beautiful (sniff) growing up [sad music begins playing], and... and... my sisters (snort) were all prettier than I was, and... and... people at school laughed at me (SNOORRRRT) and... [music swells]
"... I wear contacts because... oh god, I'm going to cry, I'm so sorry... (sniff)... but in India they believe lighter eyes are prettier, and (snort) and... I'm here to debunk that myth. Dark eyes are beautiful." Uh... and the contacts were for what, to just raise the issue?
-some girl has "stripper" on her resume and Tyra goes into a long rant about how stripping and modelling are VERY DIFFERENT THINGS and the girl ends up being booted even though she was far more model-like than many of the women who made it. And then... the first photo shoot is naked. Tyra, do you listen to yourself talk??

My personal fave going into this competition is whatshername (I never know names the first week) with the really short hair, Megan or Maggie or Minnie or something, who got up, told a story of being in a plane crash when she was 9, and her mom threw her body over her to keep her warm and died of hypothermia... and not one sniffle. Not a single snort. Yet, she's not stone; she cares about her mom, she knows she's standing behind her (Tyra tried to get her to cry by saying, "I bet your momma is in this room RIGHT NOW" and the girl still didn't break, she just smiled). I love her. She's not going to use the sympathy vote, she thinks she can do it on her own. FINALLY.

Twins: They're emaciated, but it also could be a genetic thing, so we're not here to judge. I thought their pictures both rocked. Nigel -- lovely, lovely Nigel -- commented on how his wife is a twin [cut to shots of this gorgeous woman and her gorgeous twin] and said if they're competitive, they'll never make it. Um... Nigel? This is a COMPETITION! If they both stand at the photo shoots and say, "No, you go first" "No YOU go first" "oh you're way more beautiful," "No, YOU are".... they'll never get anywhere, and you'll be bitching next week that they're not competitive enough.

I loved that the MOST CONTROVERSIAL PHOTO SHOOT EVER consisted of stereotypes of models. O...kay. If you'd done a religious or political theme, I could see that generating some controversy. But first Tyra swoops in dressed as a she-devil and shrieking like a banshee to show them what the real stereotype is, and then asks them all to pose in those stereotypes. And in doing so, they uphold them -- they choose the anorexic twins to play an anorexic and a bulimic. They send one girl out for a diva treatment, get her back to the set 10 seconds before she's supposed to perform and then they all yell at her for being late and say she's being a diva, yet also complain she's a bad actress. Jay tells her to NOT act like a diva on his set, so she gets into her pose and refuses to act like a diva, and he complains to Tyra that she wasn't acting like a diva enough... argh. And the person they voted off -- whose name escapes me -- was asked to do a moronic picture of the "model who acts" (which is apparently a stereotype... ok... could someone tell Tyra that??) and of COURSE she couldn't nail it, because it was a silly picture to have taken, and she had almost no direction.

Unfortch, they've kept on Twiggy, who is lovely, but vapid and she seriously went, "Oh I love that picture" when one photo went up, and afterwards during the voting, said, "I really don't like this picture." And I've heard Janice 'the freak' Dickinson is coming back for MORE damn cameos (someone get this woman her own show so she can stay off THIS ONE).

But my favourite line stayed in the show, and I was thrilled. "So now, the judges are going to debilerate... debilitate... debooberate.... uh.... we're going to think about it and make a choice." Tyra trying out her polysyllabic words... it's what I live for.

Ah, Tyra, thank you for coming back to my TV. It's going to be a very quick 12 weeks, but I will love every minute of it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hawksley, hast thou forsaken me?

I was going to post on the new fall TV season, and I'll do that next, but first I had to rant about a show I went to last Friday that almost broke my heart. It was a gig at the Phoenix in Toronto with Hawksley Workman, one of my all-time favourite live acts. This guy is amazing -- whether on CD, live, or chatting to in person -- and I couldn't imagine having anything bad to say about him. Until Friday's show.

For anyone who doesn't know who he is, think Lukas Rossi's older, far more talented brother. Hey, I love Lukas, and was sorta sad when he won Supernova (because that meant he wouldn't be coming back to Toronto to do solo shows and now if I want to see the guy I have to suffer through Gilby Clark's bad songs). But he's no Hawksley.

On Friday we arrived at the Phoenix at 7, and the lineup was all the way up the street. Any other time we'd been there to see shows an hour after the door opened, we walked right in. Something was clearly going on inside. We lined up for half an hour, walked in when the opening act, Carmen Elle (who was actually quite good) was almost finished her set, and then had to suffer through the Canadian Justin Timberlake. Without the dancing.

But that wasn't the worst part. Apparently this gig -- unbeknownst to us, and mentioned NOWHERE on the ticket -- was being sponsored by Fido, that awful cellphone carrier that tries to market to "the kids." They had a giant screen RIGHT next to the stage, angled so the performers could see it and be constantly distracted by it, where they perpetually flashed ads for their new Fido phone package. In addition, the entire upper section of the Phoenix contained "VIPs" (very ignorant persons) who had won tickets through some phone Fido thing on the street or something, and they'd been given free Fido phones so they text each other witty (read: not) statements that were then broadcast on the big screen. So while I should have been enjoying Carmen Elle and contemplating buying her album, I was instead bombarded by, "Yo SALLY! I'm getting beer at the bar but I still love ya!" and "Where are the elephants?" "There are elephants in my pants." "Yay, I love Fido and their free phones!" "Dude, that Bonaduce guy is here and I just got his autograph! That guy from the Partridge family!" "Yo, dude, I want a free phone. FIDO RULES!" Every once in a while some obnoxious "moderator" would post ads for Fido and saying he was loving the show and "somebody get this Justin guy a record contract! He is rocking my world!" And finally, they had Fido "street crew" who walked through the audience with large cameras, taking photos, so not only were you elbowed constantly as these people seriously pushed their way past very rudely and brusquely throughout the entire show, but these really bright flashbulbs were going off everywhere and you couldn't focus on the stage.

By the time Justin was finished, I was so angry I would have left if the ticket hadn't cost me $35. I just kept thinking, Hawksley, how could you have agreed to this?? Am I going to have to suffer through these morons through your entire set? How much money did they pay you?

Was it enough to completely sell out??

I saw Hawksley a couple of months ago at Massey Hall, and it was practically a religious experience. He got 6 standing ovations and did 5 encores. He'd packed the place to the rafters. He had the audacity to sit on the edge of the stage with a banjo and sing without a mike, yet everyone in the top could hear him. He told stories. We felt like we were in his living room. I'd seen him a gajillion times before this (I'd seen him only a month earlier in London), including a time when he opened for Morrissey and no one knew who the hell he was, but this was the most amazing show I'd seen.

This show at the Phoenix? Pretty much the opposite of everything that Massey Hall show was. He wasn't alone, he was with a full band. It wasn't just him, it was FIDO blasting at us. He looked awful, unshaven. He had no stories to tell.

But then... I started noticing the subtle things. The screen had turned off just as he went on (thank Christ), as if he'd said there was no way he'd go on with it (at one point Carmen Elle had been so distracted by it she went, "Look. Fido. Yay."). He stood on the stage, staring at us, no smile, like he was so pissed off he could barely speak. And then he grabbed the mike and practically spat out the words to the first song, "FUCK YOU, YOU'RE DRUNK, and ACTING TOUGH!" and pointed to the balcony of Fido worshippers. For a moment I thought, YES, Hawksley is back!

And then he just went through the motions for the rest of the song. It was like he'd given up. Was he upset that Fido had taken over his show? Did his publicist force him into this? Did they say, "Oh, come on, Hawks, your audience has the attention span of a toddler after 7 cups of black coffee, we need to give them something OTHER THAN YOU to focus on!" and despite his protestations, he caved? "The kids'll love it," chirped some 45-year-old guy in a suit who'd never heard his music. "Why, they'll not only buy our phones, but they'll call all their friends to tell them how... uh... GROOVY your music is!"

And Hawksley had no choice but to give in.

At least, I'd like to think that's what happened. Because somewhere in the fifth song, he grabbed a guitar, and started screaming "ANGER IS BEAUTY!" and the show suddenly came to life. Until that moment, I thought, this was Hawksley's "Hey I need the cash show" and he was just going through the motions. But he came to life on that song, and it just got better and better as the night went on.

Then, as the ultimate fuck you to Fido, they said during the encore that the imbeciles in the VIP lounge (who were taking pictures of each other's asses and publishing them to the Fido site) would be able to vote on the encore. The idea was, Hawksley would come out, 3 choices would be on the board, and they had to vote until there was a clear winner and he would play that one. Hawksley wandered out, and the 3 choices went up, including my favourite, "No Beginning No End." He just had his piano player, which is always how he plays that song. Before a single vote had been cast, he looked at the screen, said, "Ah, 'No Beginning No End,' that sounds like a good one" and launched into it. He wasn't going to play their stupid game, and I thank him for it.

So, my faith in Hawksley was restored. And I'd like to think he was badgered into allowing the Fido folks to invade his show and ruin it. Please Hawksley, next time just raise the ticket prices a smidge and we'll pay it. But don't let those people back into your show. We paid to see you, not to read those borderline retarded comments on a giant board while people hired by Fido walked through the crowd "documenting" the evening. You're so much better than that.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Book is Here!!
I haven't posted in about a week because I've been at the Toronto International Film Festival (more on that in the next post) but just before I left for it, my book arrived from the printers! You know, it doesn't matter how many books you work on; when you hold something in your hand that you've been working on for so many months, it finally feels real. Kinda like motherhood. No wonder so many editors refer to themselves as midwives. :)

I am thrilled thrilled thrilled, and so far haven't found a mistake. Gulp. So far... ;) And now my baby ventures out into the world...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Apology is Lost on Me
Last Sunday Conan O'Brien hosted the 2006 Emmy Awards, in which Lost wasn't nominated, so I didn't bother watching. (For years I watched my favorite shows -- most notably, Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- be constantly overlooked at the Emmys when anyone who knows television could tell you that it was by far the best thing on. Then Lost came along, and it WON the major award last year, and I thought finally, someone at the Emmys has finally woken up and thought, "Hey, let's not give awards to shows just for longevity; let's actually base it on how good it is!" And then they went and overlooked it entirely, despite Lost turning in a killer second season. So... whatever.

That's not actually what I'm blogging about today, though. What has overshadowed the awards show is not who won or lost, but a skit that Conan O'Brien did that opened the show. I've since watched the skit on YouTube (I tried to post the actual video here, but after 10 minutes of listening to it clicking while it tried to find my blog, I realized on a Saturday this site will be slow as molasses) and it's brilliant. It opens with Conan on a plane, sipping champagne and saying, "What could possibly go wrong?" before the plane hits some major turbulence, throwing Conan around the cabin before he hides in the overhead luggage compartment. He crashes to an island, where Hurley is standing, and they run through the jungle to get back to the Emmys. Conan finds a hatch and says he's going in. (He invites Hurley to come along, but Hurley hilarious retorts, "We weren't exactly invited.") In the hatch is . . . The Office, where Conan lands on Dwight Schrute's desk. From there we watch sendups of 24, House, South Park, and DateLine, all using the actual cast and filming techniques unique to each program. It was brilliantly done.

But the only thing that mattered to the people out there who need something to bitch and complain about every day was the segment devoted to Lost. Why? Because a commuter plane had tragically gone down earlier that same day in Lexington, Kentucky, killing all but one of the 50 people on board. Almost immediately, people were yammering about how insulting and disgusting and immoral and thoughtless it was that NBC had run a sequence where a plane went down on the SAME DAY FOR GOD'S SAKES that this tragedy occurred. Tim Gilbert, the manager of the Lexington, Kentucky, NBC affiliate, was SHOCKED by the Emmys opening like this, and said he couldn't believe NBC had done it, and had no time to actually censor it from the Lexington broadcast: “It was a live telecast — we were completely helpless. By the time we began to react, it was over. At the station, we were as horrified as they were at home.”

The following day, the media reported on NBC issuing an apology, saying they'd never meant to hurt anyone, and that it was meant to spoof a television show, not hurt people.

Exactly. They were doing a send-up of a fictional television show. Not only that, but it was LIVE. How could they have possibly pulled that opening, especially when they probably only heard about the crash a couple of hours before it aired? Maybe they gave people a little more credit, and assumed their skins were paper-thin.

If the Emmys had aired the following day, and they'd still run the footage, I would understand people being upset. Twenty-four hours would have given the station enough time to have re-edited the thing, removed the actual crash, and started the opening with Conan falling off a boat or something and crawling out of the water. But they didn't have that kind of time. A few days after Columbine happened, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was about to air an episode where a student was about a shoot up the school (or so she thought), and they made the wise decision to pull it, and air it several months later. The episode actually would have been better had it aired -- when Buffy realizes that the student wasn't going to kill anyone, but was going to kill himself because he felt like an invisible loser to the world, so she tells him everyone feels pain, it's just a different kind, whether it's a jock or a beauty queen or the school geek, and everyone's pain will feel like the worst pain in the world. Isn't that the sort of show people NEEDED to see right after a horrific event such as Columbine? But the WB's decision was the right one, because they knew 90% of the people would have a knee-jerk reaction to the subject matter, not taking into account what was being discussed. Of that 90%, 2% would have actually watched the show, while the other 88 would have just argued endlessly about a show they'd never heard of prior to it. The WB knew that, and pulled it, thereby avoiding major controversy.

But what if the episode had been slated to air two hours after Columbine? Would they have been able to pull it? Could they have contacted all of the affiliates in time? Probably not, and then there would have been hell to pay from the public that would have roared, I DON'T CARE IF THERE WAS NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE DONE, I NEED TO BLAME SOMEONE, SO I'LL BLAME YOU.

The same thing is happening here. What happened in Lexington was a terrible, terrible thing. But NBC is not the entity to blame. What's next, should we pull Lost from the schedule altogether because they keep referring to a plane crash?