Tuesday, July 29

Gossip Girl Gets Reality TV Show

No, not really.

But it seems that would have been the only reason for the CW to launch its down-with-the-internet, all-TV stunt of last spring.

In April, just as TV writers were ponying up and returning to work after a 100-day strike, the CW announced that it would no longer stream episodes of its most popular series for free on cwtv.com—a pretty brainless move, considering the nature of Gossip Girl, a show named after a tech-savvy blogger, and also antithetical to its original roots, in which the 2007 pilot episode was actually available online before it made its small-screen debut.

But the network feared it was "cannibalizing" its TV ratings by making the eps available online, though it averaged around 2 million viewers per episode, watched largely by coveted 26-year-olds.

It seemed an unusual move, since part of the intrigue of Gossip Girl lay in the fact that its characters echoed its audience, and vice versa: Just as Dan, Blair, etc. checked their cellphones for updates on the scandalous lives of their schoolmates, real-life high-schoolers checked in with their iMacs to watch the same gossip unfold (i.e., the show) anytime they wanted. The accessability of it all was built-in advertising, in a way, and allowed for a larger audience that couldn't be shackled by air times: Namely, an audience in the same age group, with the same interests and tech capabilities as the characters.

Thankfully, the network has seen the error of its ways; it's lost the battle to withhold the show and will bring the Upper East Siders back where they belong—free on the internet—come autumn. Though the CW is being very hush-hush about it (they didn't even send out a generic press release), it seems that their little plan must have backfired, as they will return to their original system the day after Season 2 premieres on September 1. Free Gossip! Whenever you want it! The way life should be.

There is, of course, an easy solution that would keep our beloved shows from being jerked around and imprisoned in airwaves: Disestablish the antiquated, dated, and irrelevant Neilsen ratings!

You know you don't love them.

Tuesday, July 22

Come See the Softcore Side of Sears

Youth of America, be warned: If you are heading back to school in September, Sears will find you.

The middle-America-mall retailer is going balls-out this summer, hoping to erase their near-Ocean State Job Lot status and return to the scope and glory of their Sears Roebuck & Co. days, when they were more like a modern-day Neiman Marcus. Their answer? Target the children, much like they singled out women years ago with their successful "Come See the Softer Side of Sears" campaign.

Sears will be everywhere. They have stopped at nothing to conquer literally every medium they could think of, from print to tv to celebrity spokespeople. But the real cash-cow they're aiming for is none other than the cool kid on the advertising block (or so they seem to think) the glorious social-networking site. So don't get your hopes up: That friend request on your Facebook homepage may not be from the hot goalie you met at soccer camp.

Sears will be all up in Facebook and MySpace, but they're really hoping to steal fans away with their own site, Arrivelounge.com. Nor are they showing any loyalty when it comes to other entertainment venues: They're pimping themselves out in Seventeen AND CosmoGIRL, The Disney Channel AND Nickelodeon, Disney's High School Musical AND MTV's rip-off The American Mall, of which Sears is the official retail sponsor. Read: exclusive product-placement rights. Cute actors wearing nothing but Sears.

Speaking of actually dressing for the camera . . . Sears, whose chairman Eddie Lampert has been bitched out before for not trying hard enough at marketing (again, I'm taking liberties here) has tapped none other than nude photographer/photographee Miss Vanessa Hudgens to be the new Sears postergirl. Vanessa's pre-back-to-school project last summer involved taking naked pics that were naturally seen everywhere.

Either way, Sears has not made a run-of-the-mill call here. Either they are brilliant for launching an interactive site with a girl who's already achieved "internet fame," or they are totally not doing their research and risking having all those women they wrangled with the "Softer Side" campaign desert them for trying to turn their daughters into amatuer, homemade, softcore pornies.

Monday, July 21

I Want (To Control) My MTV!

MTV has recently announced that this year they will be totally lazy and will not choose nominees for the VMAs, which will be given out on September 7.

This means you have to do it for them. But hey, there are worse things you could be responsible for.

To avoid a voting shitshow, MTV has been clever enough to limit the voting to two categories a week, from now until August 13, starting with Best Male/Female Video. The process will work much the way my high school chooses each year's homecoming queen: The kids get to pick who rides on the float, but the final decision is made by those older and "smarter" than us. In other words, the top five nominees in each category will be selected by the masses, and from those finalists, industry professionals will pick a winner.

Except, that is, for Best New Artist; they can never take that from us. So if you don't want it to be the Jonas Brothers, I suggest you go here and vote now.

Friday, July 18

Literary Whiz Def Not A Psych Whiz

Dear Jess Roy,

Regarding your insightful and successful blog post that took you exactly where you wanted to go: I think you may have underestimated your subjects when penning your obvious, though quite well-written, opus about the insincerity of the New York writing galaxy, where people get famous via shameless self-promotion and kissing up to the right people (though sleeping with them doesn't always work, so make sure you'd actually want to hit that in any other situation.)

J. Ro . . . we kind of know what you're doing. Reverse psychology has actually been done before.

Jess's Dear John letter to New York c/o New York Magazine (highlights of which are reproduced below), namedrops her heroes (who are, undoubtedly, still her heroes) and the ways in which they disillusioned and disappointed her upon meeting them in the flesh.

But the poor thing, who mentions feeling "hollow," failed to mask her hypocrisy. After all, she is doing precisely what she insults those fools for: Calling them out, by name no less, for being self-serving, fake, and egomaniacal. And what could be more so than a college sophomore salivating at the chance to tout her morals and artistry to media's biggest gossip outlet? (I have no proof of Jess's enthusiasm here, only my powers of assessment, seeing as she was so vague on her original blog and detailed every moment, person, and perv for the New York piece, which naturally ended up on Gawker.)

Personal (transparent) faves include:
I felt sad for him, for having all of these assholes in his house who made fun of him . . . He was an empty trust-fund hipster in his parents’ mansion where all the literary kids came to play. Everyone there went to Columbia or Harvard or Yale. They argued over grammar and syntax, the difference between a metaphor and a metonymy. Someone sparked a joint and everyone drank and simmered in their own self-congratulatory pseudo-intellectualism. For the first time in my life I felt intellectually inferior.
Did she just say that never once in 20 years did she ever meet anyone smarter than her?
A guy I am friendly with who used to work for Gawker, Jon, came up behind me, "Do you want to meet Emily Gould?" "No," I said. "I don't want it to be awkward."
This sounds suspiciously like a girl avoiding speaking to someone she considers an equal/competitor than a girl nervous to meet her idol.
I don't understand how people can exist in such a dishonest way and still call themselves writers. Isn't it the responsibility of a writer to be honest?
So Jess is mimicking these actions by pretending she disagrees. In a way, isn't that how everyone builds themselves? She's not putting anything past us. As one Gawker commenter said, this confession screams of "Points finger: 'One of us! One of us!'"

I must, however, give Jess props for this line: "I did not move to New York to return to high school, but that's exactly what it felt like." Yes! You got it! High school repeats itself over and over in life and society. Hence its fascination. I also see I have fallen victim to her tricks, as I keep accidentally typing "Emily" in lieu of "Jess."

And she's totally right about those old guys and the interns.

But my ultimate point is this: The telltale sign. I feel it quite coincidental that Jess needs to flee the shallow pool of New York's literary society right as she begins her junior year of college—the semester when many, many American students choose to study abroad. But I mean, it's not like she'll be leaving in August and coming back right before the second half of school starts or anything. Oh, wait . . . .

Looks as though Jess's sudden desire to "get out of New York," which is "not a place for serious people," isn't so much a product of a grave disheartening, but a sign-up sheet and application turned in a year ago.

I went to art school too, J., and my advice to you is this: Forget the heady intellectualism of Paris.

And get thee to a beer-pong table.
*Photo courtesy of my desire to prevent being sued by people who take themselves too seriously.

SOUNDTRACK: "Reverse Psychology" by Laura Branigan.

Monday, July 7

Cellar Door

It's happening. It's been 7 years since the unparalleled original, starring the near-unknown Gyllenhaal 'blings and Jena Malone in the only role where you don't want her killed off. Official word is out that there will in fact be a Donnie Darko sequel released next year.

The movie, S. Darko, will take place in the summer of '95 and will follow Samantha Darko.

Here's where it gets scary. The sequel will not be written and directed by Richard Kelly, as one can clearly tell from the synopsis: The car carrying Samantha and her BFF breaks down on a trip across the country; they're driving to L.A. to "make it big" when "weird stuff starts happening." Frank is not nearly as frightening as cliches like that. Kelly and his team are very much against the sequel, in which no other actor returns with he exception of Samantha's portrayer. Meaning there were quite a few roles to fill.

And here's where it gets fantastic: The movie stars Chuck Bass.

I'm not done. Also booked to appear in the film is James Lafferty, a.k.a. Nathan Scott. While the idea that these new directors will turn a truly brilliant, eerie and enigmatic film into a cheap horror movie makes me feel a little ill, there's nothing I can resist less than a star of One Tree Hill.

Friday, July 4

At Least There's A Hot Dad

Happy 4th of July, everyone. Nothing says God bless the nation like good old American shit-talking. So here, a couple days late thanks to the miracle of DVR that allows us to do what we want with our lives and still never miss an episode of . . . anything, are the picked-apart results of what I thought of Secret Life. I'm not talking vague opinions. I mean catty details, kind of like the insanely accurate Gossip Girl blog written by these genius dudes at NY Mag.

  • Best opening line of a pilot, ever: "Once, I held a pint of Ben Covington's blood." Felicity, 1998. Secret Life: "Hey, glad you're home; I was worried you'd marched off a cliff or something." Wow. Provocative.
  • What's up with that guy Ricky's pronunciation of "sterile"?

  • The repetition of "band camp" was just weird . . . I mean, that was practically trademarked in 1999.

  • Honestly, the whole Christian thing rings really, really hollow. Though I'm not a fan of Minka Kelly's high-pitched voice, this storyline was much better executed on Friday Night Lights. Lyla was a sloot sleeping with her crippled boyfriend's best friend as her dad cheated on her mom. She had a reason to look for something outside herself, and she still relapsed sometimes. In other words, she was a kid who believed in being a Christian, not a Christobot like Grace.

  • Kenny Baumann (Ben) is failing desperately in his attempt to play Adam Brody's Seth Cohen. I never though Brody was a good actor until tonight. No freshman would ever be so fucking cocky. . . Seth was incredibly insecure, remember, Brenda?

  • Um. Amy's haircut is amazing. If I had straight hair, I would have already copied her.

  • What is the font on that magazine she's reading in the doctor's office? Wow. Expanding on that, I cannot believe they deprived us of the scene where she finds out she's def pregs! Who the hell is directing this?!

  • Ricky in the therapist's office: His father sexually abused him. This is waaay too heavy for a show like this, and for an 8 p.m. timeslot! Kind of shocking.

  • Little sis's outfit is out of control. Love it!
I give this show about a 4 thus far. But, with most things I believe about love and society, I'm hoping to be proven wrong. I'll keep watching, mostly for the preview scenes of Ben's dad asking if Amy's pregnant and and Amy's sister yelling, "How can you leave us, especially now!" and the hot dad from that Superman show.

Tuesday, July 1

The Secret Life Of Evangelical Propaganda?

I had my suspicions--the 8 p.m. timeslot, a home network with "Family" in it's name, good-girl mom Molly Ringwald still dressed in pink in the promo trailers. I hoped it was coincidence, cleaned-up advertising for the dinnertime watchers. But we can hide behind hope no more.

It's true--The Secret Life of the American Teenager, premiering tonight on ABC Family, is coming at us straight outta the gates of prime-time Sunday school; otherwise known as Brenda Hampton's 7th Heaven.

I had little respect for 7th Heaven as a series . . . it served its own purposes, and therefore there was nothing stimulating about it. In its later seasons, it all but preached teen marriage and pregnancy before 19. Correction: It literally preached that, through a minister patriarch and his screechy wife. The theme song conjured images of Bible Belt children being forced to watch while their parents rallied against Democrats and birth control. (I now realize we were unknowingly picturing the kids from the polygamist cult.) In short, 7th Heaven seemed more an Evangelical political statement than a unique interpretation of growing up, and there was no subtlety in its deliverance; I mean, delivery!

I'll watch Secret Life tonight . . . it's the first major production to cash in on Juno and has at least made its protagonist a "band geek" and not a cheerleader. But do not fear, Pom Pom sect, you will be represented: by--try not to flinch--Grace (please), described on the show's website as a "super-Christian cheerleader."

Can't they put a little more effort into disguising it?

In other news:
FAUX-STUDENT BIRTHDAY: Happy birthday to Hilarie Burton, a.k.a. Miss Peyton Sawyer (One Tree Hill), who turns an un-high-schooly 26 today.
SOUNDTRACK: "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths.