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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Big Inspiration In “Little People”

posted by kris rasmussen

It’s not like I want to invest my time in yet another reality show, but then last weekend I just happened to stumble across one of TLC’s relatively new series, “Little People, Big World”–and now I feel like I am the newest member of the Roloff family. Matt and Amy Roloff are dwarves, standing only about four feet tall, who have four children, some who are average height (the Roloffs do not use the word “normal”), and some who are small-statured like their parents. The series chronicles the family’s challenges as they run a business and tend a 35-acre farm. The show also gives an up-close look at the daily struggles of being vertically challenged in our fast-paced society.

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There are many reasons to applaud this show, from the way it respects the Roloffs’ unique world to the way it balances the portrayal of their challenges along with their truimphs. While most reality shows try to outsleaze each other with outlandish casting and prurient premises, the Roloffs make for engrossing T.V. because they do not feel sorry for themselves, and instead dream big dreams and take big risks because they want to teach their childen to do the same.

The series also succeeds because not all of the challenges the Roloffs face are specific to their height. While they do face obstacles doing simple tasks we take for granted–such as using a hotel bathroom or pulling a traffic ticket off the windshield of their SUV–they also struggle with problems we can all relate to: paying the bills, worrying about how they are raising their kids, and quibbling with each other about the petty stuff of daily life.

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The Roloffs’ faith is also represented on the show, but in a very low-key–dare I say it–normal way. The family prays together at dinner, the kids go to a private Christian school, and they make references to the fact that they believe God created them this way for a reason.

In a culture where “diversity” has become a much over-used buzz word, finally here is a series that actually does celebrate diversity, not in a staged-for-ratings way, but in an authentic way that truly creates a better understanding of a different lifestyle. I was so inspired by this family, after only watching one episode, that I found myself taking time to examine what I complain about but shouldn’t, what is holding me back in my life that shouldn’t, and how I could be just a little more like the Roloffs.

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“Veronica Mars”: It’s No “Buffy”–At Least Not Yet

posted by donna freitas

Tonight, “Veronica Mars“–the show that features a crafty, high school girl P.I.–moves to its new UPN time slot, 9 p.m. What has me excited is the potential implied in the title of this episode: “I am God.”

I fully admit to becoming a Veronica Mars “convert” during this second season. I’m in good company, too, since famous fans like Joss Whedon and Stephen King have voiced lavish praise for the show and its writers. Each week, as the latest episode comes to a close, I am eager to see the previews of next week’s scenes–yet I’m always left with the feeling that something is missing from the series as a whole.

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There’s no doubt that “Veronica Mars” has become the new show of choice for “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans–which is no surprise, given the similarity of its star, Kristen Bell, to Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) both in terms of looks and ability to fire off punchy, sarcastic dialogue throughout each fast-paced episode. But the characters of “Buffy” had a clear sense of a higher calling in this world and potentially the next–not just Buffy herself as the “chosen one” whose destiny was to protect the world from demons and vampires, but also the show’s other vampire characters, who struggled with their longing to kill while at the same time desiring to do good. “Veronica Mars” and its characters, on the other hand, lack soul and an overall moral compass.

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For “Buffy” fans, the show’s popularity was not just due to the literal vampires-with-souls set-up; it was the fact that the show itself aspired to explore a higher meaning of life and purpose in the world.

Week after week, “Veronica Mars,” without fail, delivers incredible, snappy dialogue from all its quirky characters, yet there still is an emptiness behind these words and conversations. Veronica is a person to whom friends and foes alike come for help, and who always offers that help, even if reluctantly so, in much the same way Buffy patroled for vamps night after night instead of going out dancing with her friends. Yet fans never see that same sense of a higher calling from Veronica, which Buffy had as core to her character. And while on “Buffy,” we saw tremendous character development in Xander, Willow, Spike, and even popular girl Cordelia, on “Veronica Mars” we see a steady stream of rich boys who only seem out for themselves, an ethic of selfish laziness and apathy that never seems to change. Funny, sarcastic dialogue and a cool high school setting can only take “Veronica Mars” so far, and for this fan, that sense of emptiness I’m left with each week is starting to become a let down.

So I’m hanging my hopes on tonight’s episode, “I am God,” which has Veronica seeing visions. I am hoping that the show’s writers might begin to add some much-needed deeper layers to Veronica’s character and the show as a whole.

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Holy Hilton!?! Paris & Teresa, Separated at Birth?

posted by ellen leventry

Simple life, indeed.

In possibly one of the most bizarre bids for publicity ever, MSNBC.com–via Access Hollywood via “People Magazine”–reports that Paris Hilton is on the short list to play Mother Teresa in a film set to begin production early next year. Indian director T. Rajeevnath was reportedly struck by the Hotel Heiress’s facial resemblance to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning founder of the Missionaries of Charity and impressed by Hilton’s refusal to do “Playboy.”

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“Although there are several actresses willing to play the role of Mother Teresa, the most widely respected and loved person,” Rajeevnath told the Indo-Asian News Service, “the history of the actress who is finally chosen for the role would have to be analyzed thoroughly before she is chosen.”

Meaning, one wonders, will Rajeevnath have to analyze each frame of Hilton’s notorious sex tape, “One Night in Paris,” very thoroughly?

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Fearless Film Fester Faces Faithful Cinephiles

posted by burb

Richard Herskowitz is a brave man. The director of the Virginia Film Festival has chosen a theme for this year’s 70-film hoedown: “Revelations: Finding God at the Movies.” In a news brief released by the University of Virginia, which runs the fest, Herskowitz says he’s looking for films that “explore the growing role of religion in the public sphere,” including “reverent and irreverent” flicks. (No doubt, he’ll also put together a powerful roster for forums as well: UVA has one of the most innovative and well-staffed religion departments in the country, and past festivals have featured luminaries like director Paul Schrader and politically controversial actress Vanessa Redgrave.)

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That’s not what makes danger Herskowitz’s middle name, however: it’s his plan to air his selection process and invite discussion on a blog called “Revelations of a Programmer.” Does he realize how many religion-and film, uh, enthusiasts are out there, ready to stampede on a blog? Godspeed, Richard.

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