Of Oscar and Charlie and Muammar and Jed

Please enjoy the following highlights from my new mini-blog, http://davisontv.wordpress.com

‘Idol’ voting clouded by controversy

Voting for the finalists to be announced on tonight’s American Idol hit a major snag when ballots being sent via text message started being challenged by some contestants.

The rules require the word “VOTE” to be texted to phone numbers representing each of the 24 semi-finalists. Many viewers, however, have shown they don’t know how to accurately spell the word “VOTE,” so judges are having to decide which selections are valid and which are not.

“We’re trying to look at intent and make liberal interpretations where possible, but we have to draw the line somewhere,” said Idol producer Joe Southwick. “I think it’s safe to say we can accept ‘VOT’ and even ‘VOET’. Whether or not we can say the same thing about ‘VETO,’ however, is yet to be determined. Since the definition of that word is ‘the exercise of the right to reject something,’ we can’t really count that as an endorsement by the voter.”

In fact, Southwick said such “VETO” votes might have to be subtracted from the totals received. He said contestant Jordan Dorsey, who many critics say has turned in the worst performance so far, has lobbied throughout the day for a strict interpretation of the incoming ballots.

“Only if they text the word ‘VOTE’ should it count,” Dorsey told reporters. “Otherwise, I say that I should get all the ‘GOTE’ submissions, because I sing like a goat.”

Producer Southwick said other ballots received include “VAT,” “‘VET,” “‘VOID,” “ROTE” and “MOTE”. He said he’s decided to void the “VOID” votes but feels he should be able to count almost anything else that begins with a “V”.

“We even got one that said ‘VAGINA,’ one that said ‘VUVUZELA’ and another that said ‘VERMONT,’ and I’m thinking the intent there is pretty clear,” Southwick said. “We need to face reality and realize that literacy skills are not going to be widespread among most of the show’s biggest fans.”

Southwick said he’s going to suggest changing the rules next year so that a simple “X” will count as a vote.

“I think most of our viewers know how to make an ‘X’,” he said. “At least, if they know how to sign their name, that is.”

Movie stars gone, but not forgotten

The late Lynn Redgrave barely edged out the late Lena Horne for a narrow victory Sunday night in the annual applause-o-meter competition for dead celebrities at the Academy Awards ceremony.

The “In Memorium” segment of the Oscars shows brief slides of members of the film industry who have passed on in the previous year. Usually, a quiet, reflective melody is played as accompaniment, though in this year’s attempt to appeal to a younger demographic, two songs from Eminem’s latest album — “Space Bound” and “You’re Never Over” — were used. As each slide appears on screen, the audience applauds in appreciation (or at least recognition) and a sound meter records the results.

Close behind actress Redgrave and singer Horne, the remainder of the top five were actor Tony Curtis (83 decibels of applause), actress Patricia Neal (79 decibels) and actor Dennis Hopper (74 decibels). Hopper’s applause was also accompanied by a number of whoops from the audience but these typically don’t register on the applause-o-meter.

Rounding out the top ten were Jill Clayburgh, Leslie Nielsen, John Forsythe, Robert Culp and Barbara Billingsley. In the “Who The Hell Are They?” category, which features mostly off-screen legends like directors, producers and screenwriters, recently departed producer Dino De Laurentiis soundly defeated the late director Blake Edwards, thanks to a coughing fit someone in the third row had during the display of De Laurentiis’ picture.

Lynn Redgrave: Favorite dead celebrity people have heard of
 
Dino Di Laurentiis: Didn’t he have something to do with the King Kong movies?

Qadaffi, Sheen look to mix it up

In an effort to mend strained relations between the two countries, the U.S. and Libya agreed yesterday to a “cultural exchange” that would put Col. Muammar Qaddafi in the lead role of the CBS comedy “Two and a Half Men,” while troubled TV star Charlie Sheen would take over as head of the oil-rich North African nation.

“If you think about it, it makes sense,” said State Department cultural affairs attaché Neal Johnson. “Both men are raving lunatics who obviously need a change of pace and a change of scenery. Shaking up the ol’ routine can do wonders for the typical madman.”

Officials at CBS, who said last week they would cancel the hit sitcom because of Sheen’s erratic behavior, agreed to resume production. Qaddafi will play the part of the wise-cracking womanizer who learns a valuable lesson about the consequences of his bad behavior by the end of each show, only to resume his self-destructive ways in the next episode.

“I hear that at least Muammar shows up for work every day, that he’s a real professional,” said CBS spokesman Harry Dell. “We’ve screened excerpts from his incendiary speeches of the last week in which he promised to kill all fellow Libyans who oppose him, and, I have to say, he does have a certain special relationship with the camera. Charlie had the same charisma and charm, at least when he wasn’t spewing hateful and threatening speech at us.”

A leading opposition leader in Libya said he would be willing to give Sheen “a tryout” as head of a national reconciliation government.

“He doesn’t have a lock on the role. We’re asking him to go through auditions, just like we do for everybody,” said Abdullah Maraka. “But he does have a certain dark and mysterious aura about him, and our people tend to like that kind of thing.”

A spokesman for Sheen said the actor would consider the move “if he can fall under the influence of the right kind of drug.” Meanwhile, Qaddafi tweeted to his fans “looks like Im headed to hollywood 4 a while — may the blood of executive producers everywhere fill the streets.”

The Hillbillies taught us so much

Most TV critics and historians agree that the era of “rural comedies” CBS created during the 1960s represented a low point for quality television. The three shows that best exemplified this genre were The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.

I’ll agree that Petticoat wasn’t much to look at, especially if you discount the attractive young Billy-,  Bobby- and Betty-Joes. I’d argue that the other two, however, had moments of camp brilliance that is too often unappreciated by people of “book learnin’.”

On Green, a citified lawyer and his high-living wife, played by an indeterminate Gabor, tried to adapt to their new farm home in Hooterville. To this day, I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed harder than I did at the scene where their woeful electricity supply required a system that numbered all their appliances, so they wouldn’t have too much plugged in at one time and overwhelm the fuse box.

“Dahling,” the Gabor would purr after she and her husband barely escaped death by electrical fire, “the toaster is a three and the coffeemaker is a two and the washing machine is a five, and you know we can’t go above nine.”

What other show of that time taught its audience applied mathematics in such a hilarious fashion? And the critics said that Green Acres was stupid.

Beverly also helped a young 12-year-old growing up in Miami, Fla., understand certain principles of geology. After one viewing in the very first season, I learned that having oil reserves on your property could make you a millionaire. Eager for my parents to be able to afford a new Schwinn Sting-Ray bike with banana seat I had my eye on, I figured that they too could become rich with a simple petroleum find in our suburban backyard.

So I rounded up the several half-used cans of motor oil my father had lying around the carport, and poured them all into a sandy patch of ground near the mango tree. It would only be a matter of days, I figured, before a gusher would erupt, granting us immense wealth much like that enjoyed by my new friends Granny and Uncle Jed and Jethro.

In a later time, I would’ve been cited by EPA officials for polluting the water table. But in those innocent days, all I had to confront was my own submoronic intellect.

I waited and waited for the eruption to appear, and yet it never happened.

If only my father had the foresight to own a squirrel-huntin’ rifle that I could use to be “shootin’ at some food” so that “up from the ground come a-bubblin’ crude.” Then, we would’ve been rich, just like Jed and his clan.

Getting my hands on one of these beauties would’ve been well worth poisoning our groundwater for decades to come.
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One Response to “Of Oscar and Charlie and Muammar and Jed”

  1. Stentorphone Says:

    I had one of those Sting Rays with the banana seat when I was 12! Mine was orange with a white seat. Used to deliver the evening paper with my bag slung over the high-rise handlebars. Very Norman Rockwell-esque and quintessentially American, even with the bullies on the other side of the neighborhood who threatened to kick my ass every time I drove down their street just trying to “swiftly complete my appointed rounds”

    Those Sting Rays were great for popping wheelies (even a spaz like me could do it) and for pretending that I was Peter Fonda in the movie, ‘The Wild Angels’. My buddy Steve and I saw that movie 12 times. Seriously. Ah, youth!

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