Pop Culture Princess
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Project Runway loves the nightlife,Shear Genius clipped a few Angels and The Next Food Network Star is...
Another celebrity judge on Project Runway appeared on Project Runway this week(Bravo is certainly making a good case for PR to stay with them,getting famous folks like this!),Sandra Bernhard who was considered an "expert" on chic New York night club style.
For their challenge this week,the designers were taken on a double decker sightseeing bus around to certain sections of NYC(Greenwich Village,Times Square,etc)at night and given cameras to take photos for inspiration. They had to choose one picture as representative of their take on New York City nightlife and make a evening wear outfit based on that.
Terri made a strong showing this week with her eye catching dress and pants combo was inspired by a blurry picture of a metal bin plastered with stickers and graffiti.
Her outfit had a modern flair with a good retro vibe that Sandra described as "the kind of chick that if she was walking down a dark street and someone was tailing her,she'd pull out a knife and say"I'm going to cut you up!" It was taken as a compliment and I really thought the judges would give Terri the win here,all of them were blown away by this ensemble.
Instead,they chose Kenley's retro in a bad way dress. Sorry to disagree guys,but frankly my dears,I don't get it. It was well made,I grant you,and Kenley did put some real thought into the dress but that weird mix of tulle and fabric for the bottom half of it was some even you judges joked about there.
My favorite outfit of the night was Leanne's sculptural skirt with the basic black top-she based the skirt design on a planter grate,of all things,and really came up with a subtly chic outfit.
I would've been happy if either Terri or Leanne had been given the win but I'm not very annoyed about Kenley's triumph. Kenley seems like a nice person and I do like her "calendar girl" sense of style.
At least she's not a constant whiner like Stella(who drove everyone in the workroom crazy with her loud hammering on her precious leather) or wacked out like Blayne with his weird"I'm gonna eat you" bit when he's not trying to teach Tim Gunn hip-hop phrases like "Holla atcha boy!" or Suede's persistent talking about himself in the third person. Dude,it's not endearing,it's stupid,okay?!
On to the clunkers;Keith tried hard to make his inspiration(a damp and stepped on magazine)work for his tattered fabric fringe dress but all of those pieces of white cloth did make it look,in the words of Michael Kors,"like tissue paper caught in a fan". Also,the dress was very shapeless and did nothing for the model wearing it.
Since Keith's original model had to drop out of the competition and had to fit the dress onto a last minute replacement girl,I think the judges were more inclined to give him a break on this one.
No such mercy was given to Jennifer,who used a clock as the basis for this dour dress and claims to have a "Holly Golightly meets Salvador Dali" type of fashion sense. This outfit looked like something a Victorian schoolgirl would wear,not a grown woman going out for a night on the town.
I have no trouble imaging Violet Baudelaire putting this on before planning another escape from the clutches of Count Olaf with her smart siblings and tying up her hair with a matching ribbon to help her think.
Fortunately for Jennifer,Emily's misguided version of shimmering lights across the darkness of the city screamed out for dismissal much louder. Tim Gunn told Emily in the workroom that her dress looked like it would disappoint the judges but did she listen? No,no,no-it would've been easier to pull Amy Winehouse away from a case of Tanqueray than to get Emily to change her course of action.
That godawful zigzag of ruffles was so bad that Nina had "no comment" about it during the deliberations. WOW! That's as rare as winning the lottery twenty times in a row for Nina to be so nonverbal about such a bad outfit. Cheer up,Emily-you did make Nina speechless,a Project Runway first,I think!
Shear Genius also had a celeb judge this week-Kate Jackson,to help her former fellow Angel with the big Charlie's Angels challenge. The stylists had to take the trademark hair of those "three little girls from the police academy" and do a modern day spin on those legendary locks.
Before jumping that hurdle,they had to face the Shortcut challenge,which was all about color. I loved Dee's Birds of Paradise hair that layered the colors very well but for some reason,Charlie won this round.
He started out going for a "flame" look but ended up with what he called "carousel horse" instead. Even My Little Pony wouldn't want to look like this,dude. It's very Beauty School Drop Out,in my opinion.
Beauty School Drop out also applies to Nekisa,who blamed a clogged sink on her botched up color job. Honey,if you're having problems with your equipment,it's your responsibility to deal with it and make it work,not just say"Not my fault!" I wouldn't want to make a salon appointment with you,if that's your attitude.
Charlie was granted immunity and made the odd man out for the Angel's challenge. Since there were groups of three to work on,the stylists were paired up and Charlie was made a floater,to help out each team. He also got to chose the teams and deliberately linked up folks who were friendly to each other but whose styles were bound to clash.
Well,his evil plan worked like a charm. All of the hairstyles were so lackluster that the judges couldn't declare a winner. Out of the bunch,I did think that Daniel and Paulo pulled off a decent Farrah but that's like saying a burnt pizza delivery was forgivable because the cheezy bread wasn't stale.
Nekisa worked with Dee but took total responsibility for her flop of a Farrah curl that actually seemed to have holes in the back. Charlie must've been extra pleased at seeing her on the chopping block due to their constant bickering. I swear,if he had one of those old timey villain mustaches,he would've been twirling the ends of it with glee.
It was Glenn,however,who was subject to the wrath of the Angels for creating a pitiful excuse of Jaclyn Smith's classic do. Nicole was her partner but she didn't work on those limp curls for that model which spare her from censure.
Kim Vo pointed out that the standards for this challenge were high,especially since the stylists are exposed to Jaclyn's look on a nearly daily basis. I just hope that they get their act together by the time the next challenge rolls around or more heads will be snipped off.
The winner for this year's Next Food Network Star is...Aaron McCargo,Jr! His new show,Big Daddy's House,will be debuting this Sunday and I couldn't be happier for him.
Adam did have a good concept for his cooking program,Hungry In Philadelphia,which would have him answering e-mail queries for recipes and webcam guests. Lisa's Beautiful Basics show was rather bland and not much of a stand out(I knew she was in trouble when she presented her ideas to producer Gordon Elliot in diorama form). Congrats to Aaron and I look forward to watching him cook in Big Daddy's House:
DESIGN STAR: The voting may be over,but it's still a race to see who will come out on top. I fully intend to find out if either Matt or Jenn wins and I hope you will,too:
MAD MEN: Season Two started off with bang,as the gang at Sterling Cooper celebrated Valentine's Day in 1962 with candy,flowers and a shiny new copier that Joan stuck in Peggy's office as payback for sniping at Don Draper's new secretary(I loved that whole "there's no crying in the break room" conversational bit).
While Peggy is a favorite character of mine(what happened to that baby of hers,I'm dying to know!),Joan is rather a formidable opponent when it comes to office wars. Peggy needs to keep that in mind when the inevitable clash of the titans occurs:
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
With all of this warm weather still simmering around us,there's a real need to find ways to cool off and one of the best is thinking about the charming chilly days of winter. Now,I know that it's not always icy cold by December but hey,everyone else does these "Christmas in July" deals and who am I to buck the system?
So,let's take a look at some of the films that will be out and about as the frost sets in. First up is another classic sci-fi remake,only this one doesn't star Will Smith for once(nothing against Smith,but it's nice to see someone else take the wheel).
Keanu Reeves is the leading man for the new The Day The Earth Stood Still,with Jennifer Connelly as the earth woman by his side to help save the day. To be honest,I've never seen the original(shame on me)but Keanu is pretty good at playing odd man out,so this should be worth a look:
Next, we have Punisher: War Zone,which stars none of the folks who were in the first Punisher movie but I did spot Julie Benz listed amongst the cast. Most likely,she's playing a damsel in distress role similar to the one she did in that last Rambo flick*sigh*.
Hey,Hollywood,is it too much to ask that you put Julie in a movie where she doesn't have to duck from gunfire by hiding behind the beefed-up behemoth hero or at least let her kick some ass in return? Even if you've decided to ignore all of her top notch work in Buffy and Angel,she does have a major role on Dexter,guys! That should give her a little more cred there for a decent movie part,geez! She's probably not even in this trailer,which is like a live action version of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City(you have been warned):
A far better comic book adaptation awaits us in December,with Will Eisner's The Spirit coming to life on the silver screen. I know that I've mentioned this movie a couple of dozen times but this is going to be the one to see before New Year's Day that will set the tone for 2009,mark my words.
For those of you who are saying to yourselves,"What is the big honking deal here?",it's very simple. Frank Miller gets a rare opportunity that many artists in any field would die for: the chance to display the full extent of his talents by showcasing the creations of the person who inspired him to pursue his craft in the first place:
Speaking of 2009,why don't we skip ahead to January and take a gander at Inkheart,which is based on the first of Cornelia Funke's Inkworld books(the third and final book in the series,Inkdeath,is due out this October).
Brendan Fraser stars as Mo,a bookbinder raising his young daughter Meggie(Eliza Bennett)alone but soon enough,their mutual talent for reading characters and objects right out of the books they love brings them plenty of unexpected company and quite a bit of danger.
I know that some folks are sick of seeing Fraser popping up in all of these fantasy action films but his appearance in Inkheart is not just another paycheck here. Fraser has narrated the audio book of the second Inkworld book(Inkspell),along with Dragon Rider(written by Funke but not part of the series)and the author has often said that he is her ideal actor to play Mo and insisted on him being cast for the movie,so there you go:
Finally,we're back to this upcoming November(not winter,but still much cooler outside than it is in June),when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince will be arriving everywhere. This first trailer features a very young Voldemort being recruited by Dumbledore to attend Hogwarts and the kid they got to play Tom Riddle is scarier than Damien from any of those Omen movies,let me tell you!
So,while we enjoy what's left of summer,it's good to know that there is more than one reason to long for the golden days of autumn to return:
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
While many of us are in mourning for such blood drinker friendly shows such as the recently CBS cancelled Moonlight,Lifetime's Blood Ties and Spike TV's Blade:The Series,all hope for a weekly vampire fix is not lost yet.
HBO is pumping fresh money and publicity into their upcoming fall series,True Blood,based on Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels. Anna Paquin plays Sookie,a mind reading waitress who lives in a world where vampires are a reluctantly recognized part of human society and who can truly find peace of mind dating Bill(Stephen Moyer),who became a vampire during the Civil War.
For the PR push,HBO seems to be focusing on the "vampires as minorities" metaphor and the brand of artifical blood commerically sold for vamps which allows them to be somewhat tolerated by humans. The ads have a subtle satire quality that reminds me of a similar campaign for the late lamented The 4400,with such topics as pro and con views on a Vampire Rights Amendment,interspecies dating and of course,TV ads for the "beverage" itself:
This isn't the only growing merger of media and literature involving vampires lately;in a few days,the final book in the Twilight series,Breaking Dawn,will be handed out at midnight gatherings by booksellers still recovering from Harry Potter mania and reviving up for more goth girl intensity this fall when the Twilight movie hits a theater near you.
Now,I know that some of the die hard Twilight fans are not happy with the Entertainment Weekly cover featuring the film versions of Edward and Bella for a number of reasons,but you guys are literally not seeing the big picture here. It's a great sign that the books you love and the movies being made from them are being taken seriously,with such coverage as this. Mellow out and just enjoy the party,people. Watch the new trailer a few dozen times,you'll feel so much better:
The horror genre has seen it's share of high points and low ones as well with many of the key fear figures(werewolves,zombies,Frankenstein's monster)over the decades and yet somehow,someway a new version is reborn from the ashes of old,changing with the times more fluidly than Madonna's career has been able to lately.
Vampires seem to almost be tailor made for cultural transition,with their eternal lure of forbidden desires of the flesh to indulge in,combined with fears about aging,death and tainted blood. As the world around them changes,they never really do at their core,despite the new twists and takes on the legend. They are those creatures of the night that resemble us the most,which is why we love to hate and fear them,and even make love matches with a chosen few.
One of their best survival features is to blend in and adapt,and the new spikes of interest in vamps over the past couple of decades comes from genre mixing.
While Laurell K. Hamilton may have dropped the ball with her vampire hunteress series,gals such as Jennifer Rardin have grabbed it up and given it some real play in the Mr. and Mrs. Smith arena with her Jaz Parks novels. Bitten To Death will be out this August and while it's book #4,unlike Twilight,this is not the end of Jaz Parks and Vayl by a long shot. We will get One More Bite of this paranormal pairing by January of 2009(another reason to look forward to next year).
So,with such a bounty of bloodsucking goodness due to arrive soon,I say to my fellow disappointed vampire lovers out there regarding Moonlight's departure,don't despair. As they say,when one door closes,a window opens. Or,as Buffy said to Dracula just after dusting him for the second time"You think I don't see your movies? You always come back!"
It's also good to keep in mind that all this vampire lore is meant to be entertaining fun and to not get too carried away there with this detail and that not being our ideal vision of what vampires are supposed to be(I do this myself,guys,so I speak from knowledge). After all,in your own personal fantasy world,one doesn't want to play Dwight to someone else's Jim,however funny that can be:
Monday, July 28, 2008
Normally, I would discuss Design Star on Thursday but since the voting for this year's winner ends on Wednesday(you can vote online once a day or text in as many five votes daily on your cellphone),time is of the essence here.
For their final challenge,Matt and Jenn were sent to New Orleans to create new living rooms,kitchens and dining rooms for two families still recovering from Hurricane Katrina. Both families had other things in common-the husbands are public servants(police and fire department)and they're neighbors,just across the street from one another.
Both Matt and Jen were thrilled to be able to help these folks out and they certainly had their work cut out for them:
Design Star is just about the only reality competition show I've seen that always has such good people(creatively and character wise)for the Final Two and so far,it's the one place where nice guys really finish first. We've seen that with David and Kim from the earlier seasons and if either Matt or Jenn wins,I'll be happy. Jenn has proven to both sweet and stylish,a true double threat. Her artistic tastes are very down to earth,which reflects well on her and the kind of room you'd wind up getting out of her:
Matt is a very hands on designer,whose talents are best displayed in the carpentry items that he whips up for his rooms. His personality on screen is infectious and while he may seem stubborn at times,it's his strength of character that shines through to the end results:
Both of them did a great job in remaking the New Orleans homes,but I do have to give Matt a slight edge there. His living room was set up much better than Jenn's(choosing a large setting sectional was good,Jenn,but not in white-stain city alert!)and when picking a partner between two former competitors to help out(a show tradition),he insisted on Mikey V. going to Jenn due to the fact that she's never done a kitchen before and would need him to get it done right. Now,if that isn't an excellent example of real sportsmanship,I don't know what is:
Good luck to both Matt and Jenn,and may the best person win. The finale next Sunday should be a lot of fun,especially since it'll also be a reunion of all of the designers including the annoying Tracee and her arch nemesis,Michael. Hey,even on the nice shows,you gotta have some drama!:
Friday, July 25, 2008
This summer's big song is also the most controversial of the moment;Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl(and I Liked It)". Folks on both side of the argument are freaking out about this,but frankly my dear,I am so not impressed with this.
For one,this is not the first song about girls smooching. Jill Sobule released her tune called "I Kissed A Girl" in the mid-1990s,which was a sweet folksy little number.
The Katy Perry song shares a title with Sobule's but their approaches to the concept are as different as apples and dump trucks. Perry's song is clearly meant to be the typical male orientated fantasy about women hooking up,complete with the whole romping around in fancy lingerie and pillow fights deal(I'm surprised that they didn't throw in a Catholic school girl outfit for good measure):
The Sobule song is more of a lesbian love song,done with subtlety and humor. The 1950's look and feel of the video is charming(almost a precursor to Julianne Moore's subplot in The Hours)and it's the more sincerely romantic of the two tunes:
I also recall the fuss made when t.A.T.u came out with "All The Thing She Said" back in 2002. That song took off like a runaway freight train and played over the place.
It was even the theme song of WWE's bad girl of the moment,Victoria(one of my dad's favorites to watch)and also the background music for the Birds of Prey big showdown sequence in the finale. It's still a catchy little number that will cement the group's place in the One Hit Wonders Hall of Fame for decades to come:
My whole point is that if you're looking to shock,you need to do it with style and soul. That is the reason Prince's best songs are his sexy ones.
He puts forth a real effort into making those suggestive little ditties come to life and you can feel the passionate delight he has while performing them. It's not just a slick artifice pandering to the lowest common denominator(well,maybe a little bit at times)and at least Prince earns his controversies with some originality:
In the end,Katy Perry's ode to lady lip locks will wind up another flash in the pop music pan,right along side Kellis and her Milkshake,with Lil Mama's Lip Gloss tucked neatly away as well.
A suggestion for those wanting to make the world stand up and pay attention to their sexy singing;pick a song that lets the listener paint a word picture and engages more than just their hormones. For your homework,go over the lyrics of Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls" and watch her performance in the video. You don't need to jiggle when you've got the words to wiggle:
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The special guest judge on Project Runway this week was Natalie Portman-why,you may ask? Well,for a couple of reasons,a)being that the challenge theme for this round was going "green" with the fabrics and b)Portman is not only an environmental activist but has come out with a line of "vegan" footwear. I think Portman is a great actress and caring for the environment a nice idea but the term green had been insanely overused and reminds me more of Poison Ivy from Batman than anything else.
The challenge was to make a cocktail dress,with each designer's model as the ideal client,using only "earth-friendly" materials such as jersey,satin,hemp,etc. The kicker was that the models were the ones sent to Mood to shop for materials,which freaked out the designers but most of them managed to do well here.
Stella certainly improved from her trash bag dress mess last week,despite her constant bitching and moaning about how this isn't what she does,and how she wishes she could only use leather all of the time(way to pigeonhole yourself there,honey).
Stella wasn't listening to her client either-her model suggested making the dress loose and drapey but Stella insisted that skintight was better and more to her liking. The finished product did look good on the model(who said she liked it)but all of this attitude from Stella just sets my spider sense tingling for future disaster.
Another good dress came from Kenley,who whipped up a high collar number that really wowed the judges. I thought it was a strong front runner for the win and the special prize,which was having the top dress manufactured and sold online at BlueFly.com(no immunity given today,folks!)but that honor went elsewhere.
Suede took the win here,for his daring decision to use strips of fabric to create an amazing bodice for this dress and for not making the tulle on the bottom half look like "Ballerina Barbie"-said compliment came from Natalie Portman,who was pratically drooling over that outfit and will no doubt get her very version of that bad boy for herself by the time she needs to hit another red carpet event.
And for something completely different;Korto had given a great first impression with her vegetable garnished gown last time but she really stumbled on this one. The dress did look inside out,as Portman mentioned,and the back end had flaps near the rear which were so not flattering to say the least.
Korto took it hard,but was granted a reprieve. That should dry her tears and if she really needs more cheering up,just take a look at some of the other clunkers that your competition made there,sweetie.
Leanne's dress looked like it was created by someone with multiple personalities;it had ribbons and bows and sashes galore,oh my! Portman did find something nice to say about this hot mess but it was the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic to me.
To be fair,the dress did seem to be going for a 1920s flapper style,which could have been very cute. However,Leanne has to learn how to edit her ideas for other upcoming challenges and not present something that resembles,in Heidi's words,"a school project" instead of fashion.
Speaking of school,one thing that we should all learn from Wesley's smooshed bronze dress is that satin has to look as if it was untouched by human hands(like Willy Wonka's chocolate). This thing,however,appears to have been severely manhandled enough to warrant a visit from Benson and Stabler over at SVU.
Wesley was auf'ed and since it's too soon in the game to root for anyone just yet,I don't feel so bad about it. If Stella keeps up her whinging and whining about not having leather for every damn challenge(Blayne mocked her very well for that),I may really,really not feel bad when she gets the boot!
The gang at Shear Genius had to have their Shortcut challenge outdoors this week,as they went to the beach to cut and style some surfer dudes. They were not able to wash the sea salt out of their client's hair,giving the challenge that extra bit of difficulty which all of the Shortcuts have had this season.
Nicole was the winner and gleefully happy to be so,since some of her fellow stylists are using her as their can to kick around,because she isn't as experienced as them yet keeps doing well(isn't that always the way of the jealous and insecure?). Any way,she had first choice of client in the Elimination challenge,along with the power to choose in what order the others went(a very enviable privilege that SG loves to hand out).
This week,the stylists had to work with ladies who have alopecia,an immunity disorder that doesn't allow hair to grow on it's sufferers. They need their wigs to be given flattering new styles that looked very natural. To their credit,most of the stylists took this challenge seriously and worked hard to give their clients a great look.
Nicole's client wanted a sassy blonde style,similar to the way Nicole's hair is,and despite Nicole's major league doubts,I think she succeeded. Even Rene was moved by her plight during the cutting session that he gave Nicole a much needed boost and some suggestions on how to make it work. The client loved her hair and the judges wound up approving it,too.
Paulo was the winner,with some bright pink tinged flippy hair that Jaclyn Smith said looked very Farrah(in a good way). He was thrilled beyond belief,since he's been in the Bottom Two for several challenges. Alas,he doesn't receive immunity for the next round,rendering his victory a tad bittersweet.
Gail was sent home,due to her giving the client a cut that aged her,with dull coloring that didn't make things any better. Personally,I think Nekisa's heavy handed 80's trim to her client's wig was a lot worse,plus she annoys me to death with her snotty attitude. Oh well,there's another chance to see her get sent home next time!
The Final Three contenders on Design Star had to redesign rooms for their family members,a challenge that was much harder than it looked. Jen had some trouble getting the carpeting down for her sister's living room,Matt took a long time shopping for chairs to complete the gameroom/crafting area for his parents and Trish's carpenter seemed to be learning on the job.
While all of three of them rose above their setbacks,Trish was the only one who didn't add much of her own flair to the room or make any exciting changes so she was dismissed. Matt and Jen are now the Final Two and their big finale challenge takes place in New Orleans,where each of them will makeover a home damaged by Hurricane Katrina. After that,folks will get to vote on the winner at the HGTV website. Both Matt and Jen are good designers and good people,so it'll be hard to choose between them. Guess their work will have to be the deciding factor here:
THE NEXT FOOD NETWORK STAR: Who was kicked off this week? Nobody! That's right,the judges couldn't decide who had to go,so they kept the Final Three together for the finale,something they've never done before.
I'm rooting for Aaron,who was the best in the commercial challenge but bombed during his attempt at comedy during the Vegas buffet round. Lisa's singing for her supper saved her,in my opinion,and Adam's smokey menu rescued him from being shipped out. Aaron seems to have the best of both worlds,a likable personality and killer cooking skills,and with some mentoring,he can overcome his nervousness about performing on camera. So,go,Aaron,go!:
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA: The wacky F/X show that gives Arrested Development a run for it's money in the underrated comedy category(yep,I said it)will be back on September 18 and has a 52 episode commitment from the network. Glad to see that at least one weirdly funny show will be getting the support it deserves:
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
One of the Golden Girls shines no more amongst us mere mortals. Estelle Getty,who played Sophia,passed away the other day at the age of 84. Ironically enough,she was the youngest member of the Golden Girls cast,which almost hindered her from getting the part of Dorothy's wise cracking mother who was not shy about expressing any opinion but did cringe at three little words,"Shady Pines,Ma!"
Getty got her start in Yiddish theater and worked on the borscht belt circuit for many years,which lead her to Broadway. She originated the role of Mrs. Beckoff in Torch Song Trilogy and was still playing the part in Hollywood when she auditioned for Golden Girls.
She received several Emmy nominations(and one win in 1988),plus a couple of Golden Globe ones(and another win in 1986)for her work on the show. Unfortunately,Getty also wound up with a Golden Raspberry award as Sylvester Stallone's co-star in Stop,or My Mom Will Shoot!
Getty made other film appearances that were more appreciated: Tootsie,Mask,even Mannequin-but Sophia Petrillo is the role that immortalized her. The character was so loved by fans that she wound up playing her on more than one show. Sophia popped up on Empty Nest,Nurses and the short lived GG spin-off,Golden Palace.
As a tribute,the Lifetime channel(which reruns Golden Girls on a daily basis)will have a Best of Sophia marathon this Friday. They'll be showing ten episodes,with the fan favorite(that you can vote for at their website)being played last but definitely not least.
I have no doubt that Lifetime will honor her memory well,along with the many fans of The Golden Girls who adored Sophia as if she was one of their family. However,I feel the need to do my own tribute to Estelle Getty,who was like the grandmother I never had and whose on screen relationship with Bea Arthur as her daughter inspires me to further develop the strong bonds of love,friendship and respect within my immediate family circle. So,here's to you,Estelle:
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