The conversation about Woody Allen's personal and professional lives intertwining continues, but to what end?
Rarely does a TV show arrive with lower expectations than the annual Emmy Awards telecast. It's a given that the thing will suck. Even so, this year's -- the 64th -- managed to come up short and disappoint. And it wasn't one of those "so bad it's good" campy things you can enjoy making fun of, either. It was more like one of those "so bad it's lousy" things that leave you incredulous and drained of the will to live.
August, 2012, marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of "The Larry Sanders Show," episodes of which are available on Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant, iTunes, and DVD. This is the third and final part of Edward Copeland's extensive tribute to the show, including interviews with many of those involved in creating one of the best-loved comedies in television history. Part 1 (Ten Best Episodes) is here and Part 2 (The show behind the show) is here.
A related article about Bob Odenkirk and his characters, Stevie Grant and Saul Goodman (on "Breaking Bad"), is here.
by Edward Copeland
"It was an amazing experience," said Jeffrey Tambor. "I come from the theater and it was very, very much approached like theater. It was rehearsed and Garry took a long, long time in casting and putting that particular unit together." In a phone interview, Tambor talked about how Garry Shandling and his behind-the-scenes team selected the performers to play the characters, regulars and guest stars, on "The Larry Sanders Show" when it debuted 20 years ago. Shandling chose well throughout the series' run and -- from the veteran to the novice, the theater-trained acting teacher and character actor to the comedy troupe star in his most subtle role -- they all tend to feel the way Tambor does: "It changed my career. It changed my life."
I'm writing this the day after first posting this entry. I now regret it. The point I make about artists is perfectly valid but I realize I wasn't prepared with enough facts about the events leading up to the Festival's decision to showcase Tel Aviv in the City-to-City section. I thought of it as an innocent goodwill gesture, but now realize it was part of a deliberate plan to "re-brand" Israel in Toronto, as a pilot for a larger such program. The Festival should never have agreed to be used like this. It was naive for the plan's supporters to believe it would have the effect they hoped for. The original entry remains below. The first 50 or so comments were posted before these regrets.
¶ The tumult continues here about the decision to spotlight Tel Aviv in the City-to-City sidebar program of the Toronto Film Festival. The protesters say the festival is thereby recognizing the "apartheid regime" of Israel. The controversy shows no sign of abating, and indeed on Tuesday it was still big news in the Toronto newspapers, with the Star's front page featuring lineups of those opposing the TIFF decision (including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover) and those supporting it (including Jerry Seinfeld, David Cronenberg, Sasha Baron Cohen, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman).
If there is a King of Comedy right now in Hollywood, that would be Judd Apatow. I have a list here of a dozen comedies he has produced and/or directed just in the last five years, and I left out the titles I didn't like. He has been writing since he was a kid, producing since he was 23, and then he directed "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005) and "Knocked Up" (2007) himself. He is only 41. I think he's hitting his stride.
Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to find a climax unique in the history of war movies. Also trust QT to get away with a war movie that consists largely of his unique dialog style, in which a great deal of action is replaced by talk about the possibilities of action. His "Inglourious Basterds," which premiered Wednesday morning here at Cannes, is a screenplay eight years in the writing, and you can't fill 148 minutes with descriptions of special effects. At least not if you're a motormouth like Tarantino.
My review will await the film's August 21 opening. I know, I wrote a lot about "Antichrist," but with this one I'd like to hold out until opening day. No, that doesn't mean I disliked it. It means it inspired other kinds of thoughts--about Cannes, Tarantino, and the way the movie industry seems to be going these days.
I've been saying for years that I never cry during sad moments in the movies, only during moments about goodness. At the end of "Terms of Endearment," I didn't cry because of Debra Winger's death, but because of how she said goodbye to her sons. Now I've have discovered a scientific explanation for why I feel the way that I do, and there is even a name for my specific emotion.
I wasn't seeking an explanation, and I'm not sure I really wanted one. And, for that matter, I don't really cry, at least not in the wiping-my-eyes and blowing-my-nose fashion. What I experience is the welling up of a few tears in my eyes, a certain tightness in my throat, and a feeling of uplift: Yes, there is a good person, doing a good thing. And when the movie is over, I don't want to talk with anyone. After such movies I notice that many audience members remain in a kind of reverie. Those who break the spell by feeling compelled to say something don't have an emotional clue.
Q: To me, "Beowulf" was one of the most thrilling movies ever. I can't believe you thought people should have been laughing at it.
Q: One of the things that's been bugging my inner biology geek about "Bee Movie" is that Jerry Seinfeld is the wrong sex to be a worker bee. All worker bees are female, and they're the only ones who would ever have to worry about pollination, honey-making and all the other things the movie identifies as being general bee behavior. Last year, "Barnyard" made a similar mistake, by giving udders to male cows, and received widespread derision for it.
Jerry Seinfeld has been known to enjoy the odd bungee jump, but dressing up like a bee and throwing himself off the roof of the Carlton Hotel in Cannes was new for him. This was last May. The studio attached a steel cable to the hotel, 130 feet in the air, and Jerry glided down to the photographers and bee-lovers below. It was a stunt to promote the new animated film, “Bee Movie,” which opens Friday.
Is this guy is incredibly depressing, or what?
So, what was the deal with Jerry Seinfeld at the Oscars, smoothly delivering a chunk of some old act before presenting the documentary feature award? Who does this guy think he is, and why was he invited? What does he have to do with films or documentaries, besides having once starred in a feature-length advertisement for himself (and American Express commercials before Ellen DeGeneres)? Was he auditioning to be Oscar host next year, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Carson or something? What is up with that? Doesn't he have enough money and get enough attention? Next year will they ask Michael Richards to comically complain about how the subtitles, and the amount of dermal melanin in the actors, make him uninterested in seeing some or all of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees? Ho-ho!
John Sinno, the Seattle-based Oscar-nominated director of "Iraq in Fragments," has written an open letter to the Academy about Seinfeld's snide, extended putdown of docs at this year's Oscars: I had the great fortune of attending the 79th Academy Awards following my nomination as producer for a film in the Best Documentary Feature category. At the Awards ceremony, most categories featured an introduction that glorified the filmmakers’ craft and the role it plays for the film audience and industry. But when comedian Jerry Seinfeld introduced the award for Best Documentary Feature, he began by referring to a documentary that features himself as a subject, then proceeded to poke fun at it by saying it won no awards and made no money. He then revealed his love of documentaries, as they have a very "real" quality, while making a comically sour face. This less-than-flattering beginning was followed by a lengthy digression that had nothing whatsoever to do with documentary films. The clincher, however, came when he wrapped up his introduction by calling all five nominated films "incredibly depressing!"
While I appreciate the role of humor in our lives, Jerry Seinfeld’s remarks were made at the expense of thousands of documentary filmmakers and the entire documentary genre. Obviously we make films not for awards or money, although we are glad if we are fortunate enough to receive them. The important thing is to tell stories, whether of people who have been damaged by war, of humankind’s reckless attitude toward nature and the environment, or even of the lives and habits of penguins. With his lengthy, dismissive and digressive introduction, Jerry Seinfeld had no time left for any individual description of the five nominated films. And by labeling the documentaries “incredibly depressing,” he indirectly told millions of viewers not to bother seeing them because they’re nothing but downers. He wasted a wonderful opportunity to excite viewers about the nominated films and about the documentary genre in general. To have a presenter introduce a category with such disrespect for the nominees and their work is counter to the principles the Academy was founded upon. To be nominated for an Academy Award is one of the highest honors our peers can give us, and to have the films dismissed in such an offhand fashion was deeply insulting. The Academy owes all documentary filmmakers an apology.... I have to agree with Sinno. This wasn't like Chris Rock taking a gratuitous swipe at Jude Law (only to be "corrected" by the utterly humorless and pompous Sean Penn). Sure, Seinfeld was doing his obnoxious putz routine, playing the Philistine. His schtick was slick, and his jokes (though hackneyed and predictable) pandered to the prejudices of the crowd in the room and the general audience watching on TV. But his bit was, no question, lengthy and dismissive -- in a year when the documentary nominees were, for the most part, better movies than those in the Best Picture category. The docs deserved so much better.
Sinno's letter continues after the jump...