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Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Not Basic and Not Much Instinct

posted by doug howe

There was something redeeming—or at least potentially redeeming—about the first “Basic Instinct” in 1992. One or two tantalizing scenes could not have been enough to drive all of the $350 million it made, nor would they have sustained celebrity status for an actress who hasn’t done much since. It at least attempted (or pretended?) to offer a story with vulnerability and questions at the boundary of what passes for judgment and, well, instinct.

The second one—I don’t know whether to call it a bad sequel or a bad remake—is just a pure waste of time.

I usually like trying to find something positive about any form of art or expression and certainly about any person. I don’t have anything good to say about this one, and actually hope it hasn’t killed Sharon Stone’s career.

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This film stinks. Maybe it’s because Stone’s Catherine Tramell was more interesting as an unknown than as a re-tread. Maybe it’s because there was something truly vulnerable about Michael Douglas’s performance that’s clearly missing here. Maybe it’s because female characters are intelligent, smart and heroic in just about every crime show on television, and the battle of the sexes is, uh, not at the fever pitch it may have been in 1992. Maybe it’s because the setting is Europe and not the United States.

I’m usually one of the first guys to enjoy telling lawyer jokes, but this joke—the one about the attorneys who couldn’t solve a contract dispute so the studio had to make a movie nobody wanted—isn’t even funny.

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From One Rag to Another …

posted by ellen leventry

Sometimes I find New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams’s Larry King-like meanderings a bit too filled with non-sequiturs. For example, a snippet from today’s column: “B’way’s new show ‘Well’ has the line: ‘In the Midwest, Judaism is an accessory you wear over your Christianity.’ What it implies, who knows, but it sounds clever, no?… Lady on the street to a lady going by: ‘You look like Phyllis Newman.’ Said Phyllis Newman: ‘Impossible. I couldn’t be that old.'”

But, other times the creator of Gossip perfume is spot on. Last night on CNN’s Showbiz Tonight, Adams and host A.J. Hammer were discussing “it-girl” Lindsay Lohan’s much-publicized troubles. Adams, who was plugging her latest book “Living a Dog’s Life,” defended Lohan in a March 31 column, saying that she was a very sweet girl indeed; even if she has, as Cindy told A.J., brought a lot of the paparazzi-plague upon herself.

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“She’s now wearing a red rag around her wrist, you know… Kabbalah,” Adams spilled to Hammer. “And I said, ‘What are you doing that for?'” In response, Adams continued, Lindsay told her: “I don’t know, but I have to find something. I’m always nervous, I’m always scared, I’m always frightened. You need to find some peace somewhere.”

Leave it to Adams, with her poshly perfect articulation, incredulous eyebrow lift, and “Isn’t-that-so-L.A?” hand flip to christen the trendy Kabbalah red string bracelet a “red rag.”

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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Faith Gets Tested in the “Apprentice” Boardroom

posted by kris rasmussen

Battles in Donald Trump’s boardroom have taken a decidedly spiritual spin on this season’s “The Apprentice,” with an ongoing storyline that has highlighted one contestant’s refusal to compromise his religious faith just to get ahead in the show’s competition. (Well, it actually was two contestants, but one’s already been eliminated.) On last night’s episode, Lee, a business analyst and Orthodox Jew, was faced once again with the possibility of being fired because he opted out of working on a task with his team, Gold Rush, to observe a Jewish holy day, Yom Kippur.

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Lee, along with former team member Dan, had declined to work on a different task in a previous episode because it took place on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year–much to the displeasure of teammate Lenny, who is also Jewish but does not refrain from working on the Jewish holidays.

On the surface, it seems as if the other members of Gold Rush respect, or at least accept, Lee’s decision to practice his faith at the expense of his and the team’s welfare in the game, but perhaps not everyone is as understanding as they seem. When Donald Trump questioned Lee about who should be fired for his team’s failure in last night’s episode, Lee refrained from naming anyone, since he had not participated in the task. On the other hand, Bryce–the project manager last night–turned on Lee. Faced with the decision of who to bring along with him to the boardroom, where Donald Trump would rake them over the proverbial coals and choose one to be fired, Bryce seized the opportunity to take Lee, despite–or perhaps because of–Lee’s absence from the task. Once inside the boardroom, Trump scrutinized Bryce’s motives for bringing Lee along–one reason that led to Bryce to be the one fired.

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Don’t get me wrong; when all the religious drama was finally over, I still doubted Trump’s sincerity in the boardroom when he told Lee, “Religion is the most important thing. I dig that.” And I predict that the rest of his teammates, especially Lenny, will find a way to use Lee’s non-participation against him in a future episode. Still, Lee’s quiet and dignified resolve to practice his religion while under pressure has given this season some unexpected heart–as well as a moral conscience. He’s become so popular that a blog called the “Orthodox Apprentice” is tracking his every move. Maybe that’s because Lee doesn’t kvetch, kvell, kibbitz, or do anything else to feed the Jewish stereotypes we often see on television. He just always seems to do the right thing.

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Tony Soprano: Does God Love Viagra?

posted by donna freitas

Last night’s “Sopranos” episode, “The Fleshy Part of the Thigh” was filled with religiously themed moments, including the mysterious appearance of a quotation from Native American spirituality posted at Tony’s hospital bedside.

Paulie also finds out that his mother is actually a nun whom he’s always thought was his “aunt.” When she was young, the nun urgently confesses to Paulie on her deathbed, there was “this sailor,” along came Paulie, and no one wanted a scandal, which is why she is telling him this now, so late in her life, when it no longer matters–at least to her. Paulie handles this news with all the grace we’ve come to expect of his character: He becomes incensed and violent.

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But my favorite religious moment from last night’s episode was when an old evangelical buddy of Janice (Tony’s sister) comes to the hospital to protest on behalf of a doctor who was fired for refusing to prescribe birth control pills. He visits Tony, bringing along another evangelical friend. They show up to witness for Christ by Tony’s bedside, trying to convince Tony to accept Jesus as his personal savior. Tony’s response, of course, is that he’s Catholic, so he’s already good, but they explain that God doesn’t want anybody in the way of Tony’s relationship to Christ–namely priests–so as a Catholic he’s not in that great a shape with God (insert Tony’s eyes rolling here).

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The best part of all, though, is when Tony finds out why these two are at the hospital in the first place. They show him a sign that says, “Womb is God” (what does that mean anyway?). Tony’s immediate response–much to Carmela’s embarrassment–is whether they’re going to be saying next that “God doesn’t like Viagra.” Following Tony’s accidental shooting, he’s a little concerned about having potential “issues” in the bedroom. Well, no, the evangelists answer, Tony has nothing to worry about, because God loves anything that promotes procreation, which includes Viagra!

How high of an endorsement can a product get? Maybe soon we will start seeing commercials that say: “Take Viagra! It’s what God wants you to do.”

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