Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Countdown to the New Sopranos Season

posted by donna freitas

I’ve been told by just about everyone and their mother (quite literally) that HBO’s “The Sopranos“–starring James Gandolfini as New Jersey mafia boss Tony Soprano and Edie Falco as his wife Carmela–is the best show on television. Better than “The West Wing”? I have to say, I can’t imagine that’s possible. But after many years of resistance and despite the violence and contsant trips to the Bada Bing (a strip club they love to hang in, so not my thing), I decided to take the plunge and take part in HBO’s “Countdown to the Sopranos.” Starting in December, HBO released Season One to On Demand viewers, followed by Season Two yesterday, and so on and so forth until March 2006, when the long-awaited new Season Six finally airs (fans have been waiting almost two years now).

And I have to admit, now that I’m a little more than halfway through Season One and racing to watch all 13 episodes before getting too behind on Season 2’s release, I’m hooked. I’ve decided I’m in it for the long haul, between the utter complexity of Tony Soprano’s character–good-guy/caring family man/guy who’ll “wack” just about anyone who gets in his way–and the growing tension between Carmela and Father Phil, her confessor and the local parish priest, and all the hilarious Italian references and commentary that anyone growing up in an Italian family can’t help but recognize and love (that would be me). A total of 65 episodes, I figure there will be plenty of time between waiting for new episodes of “The West Wing” and the start of “24” once again on Fox to catch up.

One of the highlights so far is in Episode 9, “Boca,” when Tony thrills at a moral milestone in his life: He resists doing serious violence to a man who is hurting his daughter Meadow and her friends–and instead turns him into the police. Perhaps there’s hope for Tony yet.

WWCD: What Would Casanova Do?

posted by donna freitas

It’s no joke: Heath Ledger–in the new movie “Casanova,” playing the absolute antithesis of his role in Brokeback Mountain–actually utters the line, “What would Casanova do?” in an attempt to give an aspiring lover-boy advice and inspiration about how to get women into bed. Whether the allusion to WWJD is intentional or not is unclear, but I laughed out loud in the theater when Ledger delivered it.

Unlike Kris Rasmussen, my fellow blogger who reported going 0 for 2 in Christmas week movies (disliking both “Rumor Has It” and “Cheapter By the Dozen 2“), I had a bit more success. “Casanova” is a fun farce with a fantastic cast (Oliver Platt, Sienna Miller, Lena Olin, Jeremy Irons, and did I mention Heath Ledger?). Since legend has it that Casanova was quite the lady’s man of 18th-century Venice, and his name is known to us only by way of his fame as a seducer, you’d think the movie Casanova would be all about sex, sex, sex. But it’s not. Though there are certainly allusions to a good deal of sex, this movie is more about the romance that Kris complains is lacking in so many recently released movies. And a good deal of ridiculousness, swordfighting, and other fun things to watch on the big screen.

So if you’re looking for romance, Casanova gets an A in my book. (Getting to watch Heath Ledger on screen as a romantic lead for 105 minutes also gets an A as well.)

What Might Have Been: A Look Back at the 2005 That Wasn’t

posted by kris rasmussen

Just in time to start the new year off with a laugh, I stumbled across a funny article from the Associated Press. The writer’s premise was that the major moments in pop culture for 2005 could all be traced back to one significant event: Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch. If that one event had not happened, we would have had a completely different year of entertainment–no Paris Hilton engagement, no Russell Crowe arrest, etc. It’s a complicated theory, so I won’t go into the details, but in the spirit of that idea, I thought it would be fun if I came up with my own list of what could have or should have happened in entertainment in 2005 and how the year might have been different. I invite my fellow bloggers, and all our readers, to offer their own lists.

Instead of “Insider” host Pat O’Brien being interviewed post-rehab by Dr. Phil, he’s interviewed by the Reverend Billy Graham and has a profound religious conversion experience. “The Insider” promptly changes its format to replicate “The 700 Club.”

Jude Law actually attended a Promise Keeper conference in an effort to convince fiance Sienna Miller to reconcile after his, um, indescretion. However, Sienna Miller read my fellow Idol Chatterer Donna Frietas’s book “Becoming a Goddess of Inner Poise” and had a revelation–she doesn’t need Jude Law for anything.

Hoping to demonstrate the need for religious understanding and tolerance, Donald Trump created yet another reality show where people of various religious faiths compete against each other in a variety of tasks to see who can recruit the most converts to their religion and become the next… “Apostle.”

In an effort to shut up “D List” star Kathy Griffin, numerous movie stars such as Nicole Kidman and Brad Pitt got together and unanimously voted to promote Griffin to the ”A List,” causing Griffin’s Bravo series to be cancelled and her career to disappear.

Feel free to add: Ashlee Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Jen and Ben Part 2, and many others are out there….

Is the World Ending? Join the Left Behind Prophecy Club and Find Out

posted by doug howe

The world is closer to its end… or so suggested the press release set to Beliefnet by the Left Behind Prophecy Club (associated with, and intended to increase sales of, the highly successful “Left Behind” series). It pointed to such events as the devastating natural disasters over the last 12 months, successful Iraqi elections that “pave the way for rebuilding Babylon,” and President Putin’s arms deal with Iraq as signs that the apocalypse is upon us.

I suspect this publicist will struggle to generate interest in these spiritual road signs toward heaven, especially since the “Left Behind” novels have plateaued on the charts. Frankly, I think more people will be intrigued by Newsweek’s end-of-year cover story on Tom Hanks and the upcoming “Da Vinci Code” movie and Time’s Persons of the Year award honoring Bono and Bill and Melinda Gates for their fight to end world poverty. Now these sound exciting, fresh, and dynamic… or, at least, interesting.

As a seeker of spiritual truth—and as one knowing I have much still to discover—I am stunned at how often one of the greatest mysteries of all time is reduced to religious rhetoric that fails to capture our cultural and societal fascination.

And it shouldn’t be that way.

The biblical story of the baby Jesus—the Christ of Christmas—coming back as He promised (John 14:3, Luke 18:8) and as the Bible predicts (Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 12:7, 2 Peter 3:10, most of Revelation, etc.) should excite us, fascinate us, captivate us. But it doesn’t. Perhaps it’s because too many Christian preachers and speakers—especially evangelicals—spend too much time threatening those outside their belief system, or preaching at or down to those less knowledgeable, or leveraging what feels like scare tactics to gain an audience–all of which seems like a departure from the way the Apostle Paul spoke of Christ’s revelation as being a great mystery (Col 1:27-29) and encouraged us to be informed (1 Thessalonians 5:13-18). The Bible makes it sound like a wonderful secret to be investigated and a beautiful opportunity to be explored. Somehow, it seems to have lost some of that spirit in today’s culture.

Perhaps if more churches—and those who go by the name of Christ—were recognized more for the Bono-Gates spirit of generosity, or even the adventurous and investigative spirit of DaVinci’s Robert Langdon, our minds and hearts would be captured and our curiosity would be piqued.

Until then, I suspect that the Left Behind Prophecy Club will be challenged to find members outside of the flock, while Mr. and Mrs. Gates and Bono will inspire millions more by living out the message of The Good Samaritan… even if they don’t talk too publicly about its Author.

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