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Monday, August 31, 2009

Yada, yada, yada: EW dishes on "Seinfeld" reunion

News about the "Seinfeld" cast reuniting on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" should have us feeling as euphoric as Newman downing dish after dish of non-fat frozen yogurt. But like the portly mailman learned the hard way, reality often has a way of ruining things.

We don't have HBO anymore, so snippets and teasers of the "Seinfeld" reunion will have to carry us until the "Curb" Season 7 DVD set comes out (or we find someone who illegally downloads those bad boys ... not that there's anything wrong with waiting, ahem.)

Anyway, Entertainment Weekly is on top of the latest "Seinfeld" news with a full cover story (and wonderful "They're spectacular" tagline, at right) in this month's issue. Among the interesting bits revealed online at

* The "Curb" storyline, which starts in episode three, is sprinkled over five of the season’s 10 episodes as Larry David recruits the cast, then plans and tapes the big "Seinfeld" reunion (which "Curb" viewers will see in some fashion.) Plot details are thin, but EW reports that “Larry attempts to get (his estranged wife) Cheryl back, and the Seinfeld reunion figures prominently in that.”

* When David approached Seinfeld about a reunion plot, the show's namesake comedian wasn’t worried about tainting the legacy of his critically-revered show. “The idea of working with Larry was just too overwhelmingly appealing to me, and (Curb) is such a great show,” Seinfeld said. “There was a little part of me that said, ‘Do we really want to tamper?’... But to hell with it. How much damage can you really do?”

* "Curb" producers tracked down Jerry’s apartment and Monk’s coffee shop in a nearby warehouse. Some home improvements were required, including replacing Jerry’s apartment door, which Seinfeld had taken as a souvenir.

* Both Seinfeld and David agree that the "Curb" version of a "Seinfeld" reunion will be the only one viewers get. “As far as I’m concerned, we did do it, and in a better way than I ever imagined,” says Seinfeld. “This exceeded my expectations, so there’s no chance I would revisit it now.”

A Jerry-Newman face-off? The revenge of the Soup Nazi? Michael Richards beaten mercilessly by the Van Buren Boys for his racist tirade years ago? Until we snag a copy and share more on this blog, we pose the question to you, Channel Surfing readers: What do you want to see from the "Seinfeld" reunion?

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly -- which also includes the "Seinfeld" gang's picks for their favorite show moments, and what David really thought of Seinfeld’s polarizing series finale -- is on newsstands now.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Friday, August 28, 2009

"Reading Rainbow" closes the book on its storied run

After almost 30 years of encouraging kids to pick up books and "take a look," one of the longest-running children's television program is coming to an end. "Reading Rainbow" will air its final episode today. Funding for the program dried out a few years ago and as the contract comes to an end today, producers are essentially closing the books on a franchise that has been a hallmark of PBS programming for several decades.

As someone who loved -- and still loves -- the show, it's sad to know that future generations of kids won't have the opportunity to hum along to the catchy tune ("Butterfly in the sky... I can go twice as a high...") or be encouraged to pick up a book by host LeVar Burton (aka Geordi La Forge from "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and Kunta Kinte from "Roots"). It's been a while since I've even seen an episode of the show, but "Reading Rainbow" was a staple in my after-school viewing well into my elementary school years. The format of the show didn't change much, but the themes varied from lighthearted topics to often serious issues like death -- and, best of all, it didn't feel like an "educational" show.

I never got to accomplish my dream of appearing on the show to recommend a book, but I'll always remember "Reading Rainbow" for giving my bookworm ways an outlet. Perhaps another show will take its place in the future, but I doubt it. As Burton always said in his signature sign-off, "you don't have to take my word for it."

And, just for fun, here's the opening theme:

--Malavika Jagannathan,

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Top Chef: Vegas" first impressions

Vegas, baby, Vegas.

One episode in and the new season of "Top Chef" has already offered up so many vivid images, you might feel compelled to -- oh, I don't know -- get one permanently tattooed on your neck.

On the heels of the more relaxed "Top Chef Masters," Season 6's initial foray into Sin City has already featured vice, tats, flying donuts, more tats, delicious racks (er, of lamb), beards, brothers, Wolfgang Puck, more tatty tat tat tat-a-roos, kitchen misogyny and lovely ladies who look like dudes.

First impressions so far:

Holy he-she's, Batman! We won't pretend to know anyone's names here. I mean, remember last year's first Quickfire when "Top Chef" eliminated a hapless contestant the minute she hopped off the plane? We're not about to get emotionally invested yet, so we'll just go with the Dr. Suess-like Heshe 1 and Heshe 2 to describe Preeti and Ashley. Or maybe Dev Patel and Ben Lee. We've got mad love for lesbian contestants, but these are two female chefs who could put the "man" in Manwich.

Too many tats: Chefs are rebels. In case we weren't aware of this fact, "Top Chef" felt the need to cram it down our throats by assembling every ink emblazoned chef on the planet in Vegas. Jennifer "We hardly knew ye" Zavala was so hardcore, she even had a tat on the front of her neck. Worried that your kid won't be proud of mommy because you got voted off first? Um, I'd be more concerned about your kid having nightmares because he has to stare at that monstrosity under your chin. To borrow a phrase from our beloved Fabio, "Theeeeeeese eeeees Thoppp Chef, not Thoppp Tattoooooo." Wear some sweatshirts, people.

Brother, can you spare a spatula? In addition to having cool last names, Michael and Bryan Voltaggio are also brothers. So that totally means Michael used to give Bryan noogies, and Bryan got revenge by banging Michael's high school girlfriend. Now sharp knives are involved. Fun!

Look-alikes: Last year was one of those rare seasons when the stars aligned and we were able to find celebrity lookalikes for the majority of "Top Chef" contestants whose names we couldn't be bothered to remember. DJamie Tanner, Mimbo Jeff Tesh, "Follow That Bird" Carla ... man, those were the golden days. This year, I've decided to put "Big Red" Kevin (remember that "SNL" commercial?) side-by-side with Ragnar, the Minnesota Vikings mascot. Winner of the first Elimination Challenge, Kevin seems to be one of the few really likable chefs in the bunch.

Conversely, Michael the Misogynist seems like a natural fit for '80s-era douchebag Andrew Dice Clay. "Hickory Dickory Dock. I'm superior because of my ..." er ... way to show your true colors in episode one, Mikey! Care to thaw your head out of that ice block and join 2009, or are you too busy staring at Padma's cleavage to respect the fact that female chefs do exist in the modern workforce?

As for Haitian Ron, he'll always be Biggie Smalls to me. Also, Eric Ripert's girl, Jennifer Carroll, does "stupid things" after hitting the bottle? Someone call Hosea! Drunk gal on the loose!

Finally, guest judge Wolfgang Puck threw a donut across the room.

Welcome back, "Top Chef."

"Top Chef" airs at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on Bravo. Power rankings to come next week!

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New 'Kids in the Hall' series sounds like the weirdest thing ever

"It's like a comedy 'Roots.'" That's really all you need to know about the new series from Canadian comedy gods The Kids in the Hall.

Well, OK, maybe a little more background beyond that Kevin McDonald quote would be helpful. Suffice to say that the Kids have begun filming on a new 8-part series titled "Death Comes to Town," a comic whodunit set in Ontario.

The plot, about a series of murders in a small town and the resulting trial that reveals many of the town's darkest secrets, sounds singularly bizarre as far as comedy shows go. But the Kids have proven adept at mining comedy gold out of morbid topics, and in legal settings no less.

The show is set to air early next year in Canada, and presumably later here. For more, check out the article at

-- Adam Reinhard,


Preview time: "Sunny's" back Sept. 17

This clip really needs no introduction.

The "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" gang -- fresh off a season that saw its principal members become cannibals, painstakingly examine mystery feces left on a bed and write a "Night Man" musical that memorably referenced a "troll toll" -- returns with a new shock and awe campaign Sept. 17.

As always, the FX comedy crew aims to stay topical with storylines about Frank Reynolds losing all his money in a Ponzi scheme, the economic crisis taking a toll on the "new poor" and Sweet Dee adopting the Octomom's plan for world domination by renting out her womb. Of Dee's surrogacy scheme, actress Kaitlin Olson says, "Whatever you want to jam in there, she'll hold onto it as long as you pay her."

We can't possibly top that, so just watch the clip.

Also, I can't get enough of this "Kitten Mittens" preview. Couple that with "Birds of War" from above, and yeah, safe to say it's gonna be a banner year for "Sunny."

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,


Monday, August 24, 2009

VH1 shows sound judgment ... for once

What can finally kill off bad reality TV programming? Well, how about -- I don't know -- REAL LIFE MURDER?

A week after pulling any and all signs of "Megan Wants a Millionaire's" existence from VH1 properties, the cable channel known for CelebReality skankfests is also putting "I Love Money 3" on the shelf.

Now, I know what you're saying. There's an "I Love Money 3?" But honestly, this is the best news TV viewers could possibly receive -- and it has nothing to do with paying respect to the dead or any other moralistic quandary the network may have been faced with in light of reality contestant Ryan Jenkins killing his model ex-wife, and later himself upon fleeing to Canada.

Quick recap for folks who stay away from the gossipy garbage heap. Jenkins, a wealthy contestant on VH1 dating show "Megan Wants a Millionaire" (featuring a Bret Michaels' "Rock of Love" reject), was wanted for murder following the grisly death of his model ex-wife. Jenkins, who also made an appearance on the "I Love Money 3" spinoff/cash grab, was found dead this morning after reportedly committing suicide while in hiding.

VH1 is making a habit out of spewing new reality franchises with the same assortment of losers who populate these predictable crap-a-thons. Seriously VH1, if you want to roll out Screech or exhume Boner from "Growing Pains" for your nefarious purposes, that's all fine and dandy. I get the kitsch appeal.

But "Megan Wants a Millionaire?" First off, these people aren't famous, VH1. No matter how many spinoffs you set them up with, they don't deserve their own shows. You have to go through at least three stints of rehab like Danny Bonaduce or have Suge Knight dangle you from a balcony like Vanilla Ice to earn that distinction. And really, could you perhaps do a better screening job of your nutjob contestants so that I never have to make a crass "Megan Probably Doesn't Want a Murderer" joke on this blog again? Small request.

Anyway, stay classy, VH1. Now you can get back to more important matters like Sunday's premiere of "Tool Academy 2."

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Brett Favre: Waffling Traitor or Comedy Genius?

We should probably know better than to toss red meat into the shark tank, but we just can't help ourselves.

Everywhere we've gone this past week, someone has stopped us to talk about Brett Favre suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings, what it means for football loyalties in the city and whether Green on Gold violence will break out in the stands during the Nov. 1 game at Lambeau like this was a Civil War-esque brother vs. brother scenario among Packers fans.

Also, judging by Facebook status messages we spied on the day NFL Jesus returned ... yeah, some folks are looking forward to passing a hardcore jug of Haterade around come Oct. 5.

At Channel Surfing, we're only interested in things we can control. Frankly, that means watching old No. 4 on the big screen for that must-see game in Minneapolis and loving every minute of the over-the-top circus that will ensue during ESPN's wall-to-wall coverage. Chris Berman's Metrodome-sized head might explode from all the excitement. Seriously. We're totally pumped.

Now, if you're so sick of the dude you feel compelled to smash your computer screen right now, Sears is here to further rub your face in Favreapalooza 2009! We noticed this weekend that the Waffle King of Mississippi began appearing in the company's much-buzzed about ads -- the ones that were "secretly" filmed in Schaumburg, Illinois back when Favre was still "retired" in July.

As you can see below, the ad pokes fun at Favre's once-sympathetic, now highly irritating penchant for indecision regarding his pro football career. Pretty cut-and-dried stuff -- or nothing that'll put Favre in the Keith Hernandez Pro Athlete Hall of Fame for Comedy.

According to wire reports, the commercial was originally scheduled to air in September, but it would appear the date was moved to capitalize on all the Favre fervor (or is that fevror?) happening right now. Anyway, the final punchline was sold in AP stories as being a "big surprise," though judging by the outtakes footage (also below) it looks like they went with the safe choice.

For instance, when asked by the Sears sales rep (Brad Morris from The Second City in Chicago) about the TV screen staying green, Favre quips, "I used to like green." Morris follows with, "Well, what if it were purple?" to which Favre responds, "tempting."

Tempting to the tune of a revenge-soaked $12 million, perhaps?

For the record, the outtakes footage was pretty hilarious to us, particularly when Morris gives him the high-pressure sales pitch (causing Favre to crack) and when Favre responds with "poor fella" when Morris tells him that someone else claiming to be No. 4 was in the store earlier. Then again, we can make such bold, heartfelt pronouncements because we don't feel as though a beloved family member just stabbed us in the back because Titletown's Chosen One is now playing for the Vikings.

So Packers fans, what was your first reaction when you watched the commercial? Did you get a hearty chuckle and call it a day? Will you now boycott Sears because they're enablers in this sordid Shakespearean drama? Or did you just curl into a fetal position on the floor and cry into your hand-stitched "Brett + Packers = 4 Life" blanket from 1996?

Let us know below ... you know, as long as you can refrain from calling someone "gay," or use curse words we'll have to delete, or basically do anything that makes you appear to have the communication skills of a second grade bully with an overactive pituitary.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Holy Mole: Rick Bayless, I bow to your greatness

Unless another home disaster strikes (ahem, don't ask), my wife and I are planning a Chicago trip in mid-October. Number one on our list of things to do: eat at Frontera Grill, restaurant of newly crowned "Top Chef Master" Rick Bayless.

I don't care if the wait is 10 hours and he's only serving Volcano Nachos. I will gladly come off like one of those losers waiting in line at the latest "Star Wars" premiere if it means I get a taste of any dish that Bayless touches.

Now, I've made my preference for "Masters" known on this blog and around the newsroom. And while believing that "Masters" is superior won't temper my enthusiasm for the original version's return (No spoilers, people! I could only watch one show on my DVR and I chose "Masters"), last night's finale was truly memorable television.

First off, as MJ mentioned to me this morning, "Masters" didn't let its loyal viewers down. Because of his charm, finesse, good humor -- and most of all -- high character, Bayless was a fan favorite from day one. Heck, I even let out an audible squeal when he topped Michael Chiarello's star count during the final showdown. But after last season's "Top Chef" Hosea debacle -- Sidenote: my wife almost asked during last night's judging table, 'What's Hosea doing there?" until she remembered that Bland Baldy the Leah Licker won -- my faith was feeling a bit shot.

Not that it would have been a travesty had Chiarello won. The man can obviously get his braise on. And Hubert Keller was also intensely likable and worth rooting for.

But Bayless had several things going for him.

One, he came off as a true student AND teacher on the show. His ability to master Mexican cuisine was mesmerizing, particularly last night's revelation that it took him 20 years to perfect the Oaxacan mole that left the judges in a state of pure ecstasy. Also, when he had to use former "Top Chef" contestants as sous chefs in the penultimate challenge, he trusted their instincts -- particularly Richard Blais' penchant for liquid nitrogen -- and deferred when needed. That's a true sign of leadership and respect for one's chosen field.

Two, he's Midwestern based and supports family farms. To embellish on a quote from David Puddy, "gotta support the home team."

Three, I can actually drive to his restaurant and taste the goodness for myself. Napa Valley? I can't afford a plane ticket on my craptastic salary! Keep your wine snobbery and gnocchi on the West Coast, Chiarello!

Four, Bayless was humble in competition and in victory. Again, not that Keller wasn't exceptional. Chiarello? Well, after his whole Slim Shady "What's my name?" routine last week, it's any wonder he collected even 5 percent of the vote during last night's "Top Chef" poll.

No, Rick Bayless was always the man to beat. And last night, he delivered dish after dish of perfection. Even when his Frontera sous chef overcooked the seafood, Bayless didn't have a meltdown. He merely resigned to the disappointment and moved on, smiling the whole way. Seriously. It was like rooting for my dad to win.

Other things I'll miss about "Masters":

The professionalism among chefs. Chiarello might have been a douche to inferior amateurs -- yeah, I'm talking to you, Dale -- but hey, he's earned some butt-kissing. I know respecting your opponent enough not to resort to catty drama or fiery insults isn't the point of most reality shows. But I enjoyed every minute of watching skilled food artisans deliver their best dishes -- and not only encourage others, but actually share and help in the heat of battle.

Though the lollipop noggin and stick body of Kelly "The Human Mii" Choi haunts me at night, I loved the "Masters" judging panel. Sure, Gael Greene's hats don't compare to Gail Simmons' rack, but last night's "can we all just make guttural noises" routine by Jay Rayner was hilarious. Rayner really needs to replace boring Brit Toby Young full time. I couldn't really follow his hyper speed grandma-spandex-wedding jab, but I have to imagine it was about 1,000 times more clever than a "Tropic Thunder" reference. Also, James Oseland deserves credit for dogging Chiarello in entertaining fashion all contest long, to the point where Chiarello got in on the joke and fired up some crispy edges of Saveur magazine. Loved it.

What a finale. Tell your life story with food? That's a Costanza high note if there ever was one. "Top Chef" would never be able to pull that kind of premise off because, quite frankly, no one would care to know an unknown reality contestant's background. Plus, it's just not gimmicky enough.

But viewers cared about Bayless, Chiarello and Keller because they've earned the right to tell their stories. They're true professionals who've cut their teeth the hard way. You have to respect that ladder climb -- and it showed in their food history and preparation. Ultimately, it's always fun to watch the best of the best do their thing -- this time with no ridiculous wrinkles and forced sabotage like making each chef relocate on the fly or serve raw food in the hot sun.

Finally, the right ambassador was chosen. "Top Chef Masters" will always work because the formula is legit. Get the best chefs. Have them compete and have fun. Viewers get to drool constantly and then choose to eat at their restaurants -- and maybe even feel like they know the individual personalities in the kitchen a little more. I mean, who wouldn't want to patronize Bayless' restaurant after seeing how classy and passionate he is? He could sneeze on my plate and I'd still dig in for seconds of the swine flu.

So there you have it. A masterful end to a masterful spin-off.

And after all the kind words, I totally better get a good table if I make the Chicago trip. Just sayin' Rick.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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"Project Runway" is back!

It may be on a new channel (seriously, what channel is Lifetime even on?), but "Project Runway" fans can overdose on their favorite fashion reality show tonight when it makes it long overdue comeback.

Cue the excited squeals, please!

If you're a dude -- or a non-"PR" fan -- you may want to leave the house between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. tonight. We kid you not. To celebrate "PR's" return to the small screen after a contentious legal battle that kept the show on hiatus for more than a year, new host network Lifetime is going all out.

A two-hour all-star challenge -- featuring eight former finalists including Mychael Knight, Santino Rice, Korto Momolu, Uli Herzner, Jeffrey Sebelia -- kicks off the "PR" madness at 7 p.m. Because it's a chance for one of these former finalists to win $100,000 in cash, they'll be bringing their all -- and probably some fierceness to the challenge. If that doesn't whet your fashion appetite, we're not sure what will.

Season six officially debuts at 9 p.m. and a half-hour spinoff called "Models of the Runway" debuts after the premiere where we'll see the episode from the models' perspective. Not everything about the show is exactly the same with the switch in networks and production companies -- L.A. replaces New York, Garnier is the new Tresseme and Neenah Gahcia's Marie Claire takes over from Elle -- but WHO CARES? With the help of fellow "PR" enthusiast Kelly McBride, we've compiled a brief list of things that we're dying to see or hear tonight on "Project Runway."

1. Heidi's use of "auf wiedersehen" to send the loser packing

2. Some good old-fashioned (get it? fashion? we're punny) personalities and talent

3. No Merlin or Harper's Bazaar mini challenge (no offense, "Fashion Show")

4. The return of Papa Gunn and the eternally awesome phrase "make it work"

5. Neenah Gahcia ('nuff said) and a hopefully less tanned but equally awesome Michael Kors

6. Mood! (Kelly: "Will they still go to mood? I love mood! And how they always yell "thank you Mood!")

Catch all the "Project Runway" action tonight starting at 7 p.m. CST on Lifetime and check back with us for a reaction tomorrow. Here's a sneak preview of tonight's fashion fun:

--Malavika Jagannathan,

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Great Lombardi Hunt: Who should play Vince?

Last month, we passed along the news that ESPN was moving forward with a TV movie about the life of Vince Lombardi, namesake of that seasonally really busy street in west Green Bay. And we posed the question, who should play him? Who could play him -- a legendary, firebrand coach with a distinctive personality and singular scowl. Well, you guys responded -- in droves. Some very interesting choices were discussed, along with some we hope were just jokes. (Ha ha, Drew Barrymore. Very funny.)

With "Untitled Vince Lombardi Biopic" still listed as "in development" over at the Internet Movie Database, we figure there's still time to influence ESPN's decision-making process. Out of the 30-plus suggestions we got, we've narrowed the list down to six, based on acting ability, likeness, age, etc.

Feel free to disagree with us, vote for your favorite, or name some other actors we haven't thought of yet in the comments section.

Dan Lauria

Where You Know Him From: Venerable character actor, best known as Jack Arnold on "The Wonder Years"

Why He'd Make a Great Vince: Lauria is a Brooklyn-born Italian-American, just like Vince. And just look at that mug -- he's a dead ringer for the guy. With nearly 150 acting credits to his name, he's definitely got the chops. Plus, he's not a "name" actor, meaning he'd be fairly easy (and cheap) to land for the role -- unlike, say, Russell Crowe (who suggested him, by the way, and are you nuts?)

Why He Wouldn't: At 62, Lauria may be a tad old for the role. (Lombardi was 45 at the time of the Ice Bowl, which the movie is supposedly centering on.) But c'mon, he's the dad from "The Wonder Years"! He'll never age!

Rating: Four Lombardi Trophies (out of four)

Michael Chiklis

Where You Know Him From: The critically beloved FX cop drama "The Shield;" played The Thing in the critically hammered "Fantastic Four" flicks.

Why He'd Make a Great Vince: An Emmy and Golden Globe winner, Chiklis is a fiercely intense actor, and could give Lombardi a great physical presence. Also, according to, he doesn't currently have anything in production. He's just famous enough to draw interest to the movie from people not necessarily interested in Lombardi.

Why He Wouldn't: Even if you threw a wig on him, the resemblance is a bit lacking.

Rating: Three Lombardi Trophies

Michael Imperioli

Where You Know Him From: Played Tony's hot-headed nephew Christopher in HBO's "The Sopranos," and more recently was a shaggy detective in ABC's defunct "Life on Mars" remake.

Why He'd Make a Great Vince: There's that Italian connection again, only this time by way of Jersey. His Emmy-winning work on "The Sopranos" shows he can pull off confident/cocky and tough.

Why He Wouldn't: He's about the right age, but he looks too young for the part. He doesn't have that the grizzled, weathered look to him the Lombardi traded in. And he's more known for being the wise guy, which doesn't necessarily translate to wise coach.

Rating: Two and a half Lombardi Trophies

Jason Alexander

Where You Know Him From: Oh, you know where you know him from. "You're killing independent George!"

Why He'd Yadda Yadda Yadda: Although best known and irrevocably tied to George Costanza, Alexander is a highly versatile and skilled actor. He's done extensive theater work, including "The Producers." Still, career-wise, it's been a long time since the height of fame that "Seinfeld" gave him, and he might be hungry for a juicy role like Lombardi (just like Lombardi was hungry for those championships.)

Why He Wouldn't: He's George. He will always be George. In a trench coat and fedora, he will be George in a trench coat and fedora. Simple as that.

Rating: Two Lombardi Trophies

Willem DaFoe

Where You Know Him From: Where don't you? "Platoon," "Boondock Saints," "Mississippi Burning," "Clear and Present Danger," "Spider-Man," "The Life Aquatic" -- dude's everywhere.

Why He'd Make a Great Lombardi: Finally, a local boy! Appleton-born and Milwaukee-educated DaFoe would add a nice touch of Wisconsin to a movie about a man primarily associated with our state's second-biggest export (behind deep-fried cheese curds.) He's also probably the best actor on this list, able to disappear into any role he takes on. Plus ... well, he's just Willem freaking Dafoe. He'd be awesome, OK?

Why He Wouldn't: The balance between big-name star and medium-sized project seems to tip away from snagging someone like DaFoe, who only has three television credits to his name, and one of those was an episode of "The Simpsons."

Rating: Three and a half Lombardi Trophies

Max Casella

Where You Know Him From: Played Neil Patrick Harris' best bud, Vinnie Delpino, on "Doogie Howser, MD," and also did some time on "The Sopranos."

Why He'd Make a Great Vince: Well, he's already played a character named Vincent, for one thing. Plus he's already costarred in an ESPN miniseries, as Dick Howser in 2007's "The Bronx is Burning." He's also part-Italian, which I keep mentioning as if it means anything, but hey, it doesn't hurt.

Why He Wouldn't: Like Imperioli, Casella is almost the right age (yes, Doogie Howser's BFF is 42 -- don't you feel old now?), but still has the baby-face thing going on, robbing him of much-needed gravitas. And if we're not going to cast a "name" actor in this, he'd better be dead-on for the part.

Rating: Two Lombardi Trophies

-- Adam Reinhard,

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Why I Will Watch "Dancing With The Stars"

OK, so we're a little wrapped up in our Favre-a-licious fervor, but the most important television-related news of the past 48 hours isn't the retired-unretired saga of No. 4, but the new line-up for season nine of ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

Now, first of all, a disclaimer -- I've never watched the show, nor have I ever wanted to watch the show. Until now. That's right, the producers of "Dancing With the Stars" have somehow convinced me that I'm missing some amazing television by introducing its latest cast of misfits and forgotten stars Monday on "Good Morning America." Let me tell you, this is no easy feat.

But where else could I find Donny Osmond, Melissa Joan Hart, Mark Dacascos (the chairman on "Iron Chef America"), former Dallas Cowboys' wide receiver Michael Irvin and... wait for it... ex-House Majority Leader Tom Delay on the same show? It's a list I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams. My money is on Delay. The Republican from Texas -- who has been known as both "Hot Tub Tom" and "The Hammer" in his lifetime -- is nothing if not all guile and class. I mean, check out the man's mugshot. Delay is clearly getting into it, too. Already, his personal Web site has been launched as "Dancing with Delay" and although disgraced politicians don't have much of a track record in the reality TV world, it can't stop the "Exterminator."

The rest of the list is no less appetizing: Mya, Macy Gray, Aaron Carter, Debi Mazar, Ashley Hamilton, Joanna Krupa, Kathy Ireland, Kelly Osbourne, Chuck Liddell, Louie Vito and Natalie Coughlin (yes, the Olympic swimmer).

"Dancing With the Stars" premieres on Sept. 21 and I will be watching.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I need a Brett Favre chopper shot, stat!

"This is beyond B.O! This is B.B.O!"
-- The Smelly Car, "Seinfeld"

There are news stories. And then there are news stories.

If ESPN is any guide, then Brett Favre's (yawn) return to football to play for the Minnesota Vikings is President Obama's inauguration, Michael Jackson's death and 9-11 rolled into one.

While home for a half hour at lunch, all of ESPN's channels were going wall-to-wall with Favre coverage. In a span of 15 minutes, the network replayed Favre's interview with Ed Werder following his "retirement" from the New York Jets twice, had trotted out former teammate/Packer wide receiver Antonio Freeman for comment, brought on Michele Tafoya so she could tell the story of how while in a Minneapolis grocery store "people began screaming in the aisles" like it was Beatlemania, and showed about a zillion shots of Favre exiting an airplane in St. Paul and making the rounds in an SUV.


We're used to this in Green Bay. I mean, we're a TV blog for chrissakes and we felt compelled to post something on Favre today. But c'mon, ESPN. Act like you've been there before.

Anyway, for TV related purposes, let's just throw out this little nugget since most of the crazies are already lathered up on our Packers News site.

According to my research (thanks Wikipedia!), the highest-rated "Monday Night Football" telecast on ABC was the Miami Dolphins' victory over the previously-undefeated Chicago Bears on December 2, 1985, which drew a Nielsen rating of 29.6 and a share of 46. The highest-rated "MNF" game on ESPN, and the highest-rated program in U.S. cable television history to date, was the Dallas Cowboys' defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles on September 15, 2008, with a rating of 13.3.

Two safe bets: From now until October, Rachel Nichols will be living in a tent outside Vikings headquarters and Favre's first game against the Packers in Minnesota on Oct. 5 will shatter the "MNF" record.

Whether you're sick of Favre or not, football fans have to love how this ongoing drama is gonna play out on a big screen TV. Just keep some perspective about it and avoid any major injuries when the communal jersey burn takes place in front of Favre's Steakhouse, OK?

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

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Friday, August 14, 2009

10 reasons we're mad for "Mad Men"

Fall TV doesn’t get into full swing until September, but you can’t ask for a more perfect return to form than new episodes of “Mad Men." Channel Surfing’s love for the Emmy-award winning drama reached new heights after a scintillating Season 2. If you haven’t gone “mad” yet, here are 10 reasons you should strap on a straitjacket, ‘60s-style. "Mad Men" returns at 9 p.m. Sunday on AMC.

Good Don, Bad Don: The complexity of Don Draper as good father, bad husband continues to be one of “Mad Men’s” most compelling draws. It’d be easy to loathe him for his constant philandering (and many probably do), but that Betty is so emotionally stunted and child-like tends to keep Don somewhat bulletproof. Despite his personal flaws, Don has remained intensely likeable in two seasons. Or maybe that’s just Jon Hamm’s real-life presence and the fact that he makes all the ladies swoon.

“Meditations in an Emergency”: The Season 2 finale did what all great closers are supposed to do -- wrap up loose ends, create new challenges and ramp up drama for next season’s major plot points. The Don-Duck Phillips showdown was a delicious serving of one-upmanship gone awry, while Don-Betty and Pete-Peggy finally addressed the tension between them in profound, potentially life-altering ways.

The most disturbing scene in “Mad Men” history: Joan moved from salacious eye candy as a sexpot secretary to scary, unexpected territory as an abused wife at the end of Season 2. Her marriage to a well-bred doctor seemed to finally give her the stability she long craved (and perhaps deserved). But after a horrific sequence in Don’s office, all that’s left are emotional scars that will change her character forever. Who will she confide in?

Salvatore’s secret: “Mad Men” had largely treated Salvatore’s closeted homosexuality with a wink and a nudge, but not much more in terms of a greater social context. But when a European intern openly came out to the Sterling Cooper office, the slurs and crass jokes made viewers fully understand why Salvatore’s inner turmoil stays exactly where it needs to in the close-minded ‘60s.

Oh, those crazy Campbells: The products of high society, Pete and Trudy Campbell are together because they belong to the same social caste, not because Pete truly loves his wife. A despicable character at the outset who provided far more comic relief in Season 2 than expected, Pete has become more likable even if he hasn’t truly matured. While watching Pete fling a turkey over the balcony proved an eye-opener for how stilted marriages work, ultimately, the big revelation regarding his brief fling with Peggy could create dark waves this season.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

On skinny ties and pencil skirts: Between Betty Draper’s Grace Kelly style (and uncanny resemblance) and hubby Don Draper’s classic, sixties corporate chic suits, “Mad Men” is as much about the fashion as it is the plot or acting. Few television shows have been so influential with fashion — save for “Sex and the City” or more recently “Gossip Girl” — but it’s to "Mad Men's" credit that the artistic touch doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Instead, I’m captivated by the dazzling array of fashion, from Betty’s love of crinoline-and-pearls look to all that tweed that Peggy Olson tends to wear.

Real life and fiction intersect: In two seasons, “Mad Men” has weathered the Nixon-Kennedy presidential race of 1960, the Cuban Missile crisis and the advent of the space race. With Season 3 set in 1963 and future seasons pushing deeper into the turbulent 1960s, the intersections between the real-life events of this tumultuous decade and the fictional realities of the show will only continue. Having the show set in a period so chock full of historical moments is, in a way, a wink at the audience because we — as the watchers four decades later — know the outcomes of the many events the characters are experiencing for the first time. We know the Cuban Missile Crisis gets resolved, we know Kennedy wins and, sadly, we can anticipate his assassination in 1963.

Mad “Women”: The complexity and depth of Betty Draper, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway, each of whom represents a different kind of woman in a predominantly man’s world, remains compelling episode after episode. Housewife Betty survives her husband’s infidelity with a borderline frightening grace that can neither be praised, nor damned. Office vixen Joan understands her place in the man’s world — perhaps even exploits it to her advantage — but you get the sense that she wants to do more. Peggy — who works her way up from being a secretary to an office in two seasons — reflects the changing tides of women in the workplace. Each is unique, each is complex and together, they’re an unstoppable trio.

Paul Kinsey: A wannabe Bohemian writer, who lives in New Jersey and dates a black woman when it was still taboo, Paul is the '60s counterculture revolution at its nascent stages. Although he dresses, talks and acts like many of his colleagues, you sense he’s just a little — how shall we say it — different? Although he’s a secondary character, something about Paul speaks to the flip side of the 1960s the way many of us see it today, and I’m more than a little curious to see how far it will go.

Silence is golden: Talk is cheap, right? Many of the greatest moments in “Mad Men” are those without dialogue — from the sideways glances between Pete and Peggy to a brief touch between Don and Betty — and it’s a testament to the slow pace of the show. One of my all-time favorite scenes from the show is the closing of a Season 1 episode where Betty stands outside her home, wearing a negligee with a cigarette in her mouth, and calmly shoots her neighbor’s pigeons down with a gun. She doesn’t utter a word and it’s brilliant.

-- Malavika Jagannathan,


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Zombie drama lurching slowly toward AMC

Since watching copious amounts of TV turns people into zombies anyway, it's been too long that the undead have gone unrepresented on American television.

But that's all about to change, as reports. that AMC is considering picking up a show based on the popular graphic novel series, The Walking Dead. First published in 2003, the comic book -- and presumably the show -- is about a band of survivors scraping by in a world overrun by braindead, screeching monsters. (Wait, it's set in a town-hall health care forum? Hi-yooo!)

The braaaaains behind the zombie drama is none other than Frank Darabont, director of a little movie called "The Shawshank Redemption," not to mention the best horror movie of the last five years, "The Mist." There's no studio attached to produce the show yet, but with names like Darabont and AMC (riding a wave of critical acclaim thanks to "Mad Men" -- oh, maybe they could call this "Dead Men"?) behind it, getting this show made should be a no-brainer. (OK, enough with the brain wordplay.)

Anybody else a huge zombie-movie fan like me who's excited for this?

-- Adam Reinhard,

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Monday, August 10, 2009

We Watch It So You Don't Have To: "Defying Gravity"

With the world of cops, doctors, forensics specialists, lawyers and even paper salesman well exhausted on television, it's no surprise that ABC literally looked to the stars for its next profession to tackle on the small screen. The astronauts of the network's newest prime time soap opera "Defying Gravity" -- set about fifty years in a future that doesn't look all that different from today -- are unfortunately as preoccupied with their intricate love lives as they are with exploring the solar system. The show is more "Grey's Anatomy," then "The Right Stuff" -- and that's disappointing because the premise of the show is promising.

Helmed by creator James Parriott, who also served as an executive producer on "Grey's Anatomy," there's plenty of maudlin music, nauseating voiceovers and pointless relationship drama to make the "Grey's" comparison. Despite being turned off by these features (seriously, could they have at least disguised the plot about the rookie who has a one-night stand with her boss just a little better? It's straight of the Meredith-McDreamy playbook on "Grey's"), the sci-fi and fantasy elements of the show are actually quite interesting if only they had a bigger role in the plot.

Background: It's the year 2052. Abortion is illegal. Cash has apparently been replaced by some sort of electromagnetic equivalent. But other than that, nothing much has changed. Beer is still beer. We haven't yet invented transporters or colonized any planets. Eight astronauts aboard a spaceship called the Antares are on a six-year sojourn around the solar system, but there's a deeper mystery about a force that's driving the mission that only a few of the crew members are aware of (it's like "Lost" meets "Star Trek"). Weird things keep happening on the ship and there's something in Pod 4 that freaks the mission commander Ted Shaw (Malik Yoba) out to the point that he starts acting sort of like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" just before the part where he starts going around with an ax. A lot of the show is devoted to flashbacks to the crew's training and how they met, but that's definitely the boring part.

The characters: Ron Livingston (of "Office Space" and "Band of Brothers" fame) plays square-jawed pilot Maddux Donner with the same intensity he brings to all of his roles, silly and serious. In an attempt to redeem himself for a failed Mars mission a few years ago during which he and Shaw left two astronauts behind, Donner plays the role of the tortured playboy for much of the show's two episodes so far. Enter geologist Zoe Barnes (Laura Harris) with whom Donner has a one-night fling that leaves her pregnant and contemplating an illegal abortion. They might be the most boring couple since Meredith and McDreamy but I'll give them a chance to redeem themselves. The rest of the crew is a hodge-podge of nationalities and one-dimensional characters: biologist Jen Crane (Christina Cox), German Nadia Schilling (Florentine Lahme), Israeli doctor Evram Mintz (Eyal Podell) and Paula Morales (Paula Carces), whose main role seems to be videotaping the mission for the millions on earth to see. Also, if they're trying to be all cosmopolitan and stuff, would it have hurt to find a Russian to add to the crew? Seriously, did Russia evaporate or something fifty years in the future because the idea of an international space mission without a Russian cosmonaut on board is sort of stupid.

The good: The only thing to keep me watching through the 2-hour premiere is the promise of a deeper sci-fi mystery. A secret force -- something with the ability to control the mission -- begins to show its shadowy presence by (we assume) giving two of the astronauts identical heart murmurs. Only a few aware of what this force or thing is, including the mission control commander Mike Goss (Andrew Airlie), and they seem deathly afraid of it. Then there are the mysterious incidents -- a hatch blows Zoe out into space without her touching the release button -- that may or may not be related to this force/thing. It's just too bad that the show downplays the suspense angle for a campier, soap opera narrative.

The bad: Between Donner's Meredith Grey-esque voiceovers, the incessant heart-to-hearts between Jen and Zoe about men and just the pointless crescendos of music (not to mention a sex-in-space scene straight out of "Moonraker"), I just kept waiting for the mystery storyline to snap me out of my annoyance/boredom. The best TV romances are the ones that are secondary to the main plot, where the primary characters have chemistry, not forced awkward tete-a-tetes about men and women staying friends after flings. Although there are plenty of science fiction shows out there, I've been waiting for a straight-up drama about the space program in some fashion "The Cape" was on air in the mid-90s. Why sully it with romantic drivel I could get by watching "Private Practice?"

Conclusion: If only this show had pitched itself as "Lost" in space (get it? I'm so clever) rather than "Grey's Astronomy," I might actually continue watching it. The premise is great, but the approach is deplorable. The source material for this show came from a BBC docudrama called "Space Odyssey" about a massive spacecraft that went on a tour of the solar system, but "Defying Gravity" has managed to strip that source of all its educational material and focus solely on the characters to its demise.

"Defying Gravity" airs on ABC on Sundays at 9 p.m.

--Malavika Jagannathan,

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Don't You Forget About Him: Our Favorite Films By John Hughes

Oddly this is Channel Surfing's 700th post -- which isn't really a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but serves as a nice round number for a much-needed tribute to John Hughes. Even though a recent slew of celebrity deaths would appear to have made us immune to sudden shock and loss, Hughes' death on Thursday is pretty significant in our pop culture bubble.

Bloggers Sara Boyd, Malavika Jagannathan and Thomas Rozwadowski definitely feel a little bit older today having rummaged through an archive of childhood memories tied to Hughes writing, directing or producing so many fantastic films. Here are some of their favorites.

"Sixteen Candles," 1984

I still have a giant crush on Jake Ryan. I think I will for the rest of my life. While most movies in the '80s feature "studs" that are in no way studly today (no offense, Andrew McCarthy), "Sixteen Candles" featured one of the best high school crushes of all time.

But that's only one reason I love this famed Hughes movie. Beyond featuring the extremely relatable and lovable Molly Ringwald and uber-dork Anthony Michael Hall (pre-"Breakfast Clubbing"), the movie gave teenage girls something to yearn for and our first taste of "Hey, maybe all guys aren't just into bimbo blondes." The movie was spot on from the note passing gone awry to the scene where Sam gets felt up by her grandma, wondering how things are "developing."

And then there's the endless awesomeness of Long Duk Dong. What starts out as a simple concept of a family who has forgotten their child's 16th birthday quickly develops into a statement about the struggles of the teenage years -- no doubt a subject Hughes was a genius in portraying.

Favorite quotes:

"Donger's here for five hours and he's got somebody. I live here my whole life, and I'm like a disease."


"Yes, mawwied!"

"Relax, would you? We have seventy dollars and a pair of girls underpants. We're safe as kittens."

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off," 1986

The fact that to this day when someone doesn't answer you, the typical response is "Bueller? ... Bueller?" should say something about the magnificent presence of this classic '80s film. It should also be noted that I include this gem in my all-time favorite movies list. No matter what Matthew Broderick does, I will always think of him as Ferris Bueller. And I think that's quite the compliment.

Hughes again had such a genius way of taking the most simple concept -- a slacker senior decides to skip school -- and turn it into something so meaningful and spectacular. If you're going to skip school, this is truly the way to do it -- go big, or go home. The characters in this story are possibly my favorite of all Hughes' casts. You have Alan Ruck playing Cameron Frye, the loyal yet sometimes socially inept straight arrow (who's actually taking a legit sick day), Jennifer Grey (pre-nose job) playing the "life's not fair" younger sibling, and Jeffrey Jones as the best-reason-to-skip-school-ever creepy principal Ed Rooney. It seems like a strange concept today, but the element of Ferris talking to the audience adds so much, and in my opinion, has never been successfully done since. I could watch this film over and over again. Truly unforgettable.

Favorite quotes:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once and a while, you could miss it."

"You wear too much eye makeup. My sister wears too much. People think she's a whore." -- Awesome Charlie Sheen cameo, aka: dude at the police station

"You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school."

"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," 1989

Every year at Thanksgiving, my family has a tradition of watching "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." We do it every single year -- and we always, always laugh. We could probably recite the movie line-for-line and yet it still draws a chuckle from us like we are watching it for the first time. Perhaps that's because the Griswold family is much like our own -- dysfunctional, yet lovable.

For me, hands down this is the best "National Lampoon's" movie. It's not even close. No one can come close to the grotesque and oh-so-hickish Cousin Eddie. And sweet Aunt Bethany always cracks me up. It's such a perfect portrait of what can go wrong if half your family should have been locked in a loony bin. And oddly enough, nothing can put me in the holiday spirit quite like "Christmas Vacation." In fact, just thinking about hilarious scenes already has me looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Favorite quotes:

"Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?"

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America ... " -- Aunt Bethany's Christmas prayer

"Curly Sue," 1991

Even though Jim Belushi has ruined his career telling the world about his life "According to Jim," I will always have a special place for him because of his role in "Curly Sue." As Bill, a homeless man raising young Curly Sue, he was completely lovable, even through swindling the rich and scamming the upper class.

"Curly Sue" was one of my early all-time favorite movies. The story had heart, lots of it, and yet kept things light and not too serious. You never feel bad for Bill and Curly Sue, even though they're about as down on their luck as two people could be. Instead, you find yourself feeling bad for the rich, like Grey Ellison, who has all the money in the world but not a fraction of the joy and laughter that Bill and Curly Sue share. It's a super sweet movie that surprises you and gives you a fresh perspective on life -- and what defines true riches.

Favorite quotes:

"Look, no swearing, no gambling, no spitting, no punching, and no kicking, all right?"

"Put a sock in it, I know what I'm doing."

"The harder you hit me the more I'll know you love me."

-- Sara Boyd,

"Planes, Trains and Automobiles," 1987

Eminently quotable – if only for its wonderful Casio watch reference – “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is one of my favorite comedies of all-time. An anti-buddy flick until its heartwarming end, the film matched a surly Steve Martin with the jolly-as-always John Candy when both were in their comedy primes. The basic plot finds humorless Neal Page (Martin as straight man) trying to make it home to Chicago on Thanksgiving, only to encounter one hurdle after another because of a blizzard.

Much to Page’s chagrin, the biggest roadblock proves to be oversized shower ring salesman Del Griffith (Candy) and the giant trunk he lugs around. A more mismatched traveling pair than Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann, Griffith is good-natured and harmless, but drives Page literally to the point of no return thanks to a memorable version of Ray Charles’ “Mess Around” causing their rental car to start on fire.

Other classic scenes include Page ripping a chirpy car clerk to shreds (with 18 f-bombs in just over a minute), Page comparing Griffith’s incessant blather to that of a Chatty Cathy doll with a broken string, and an unexpected spooning session that leads to the immortal line, “Those aren’t pillows!” A departure from his ‘80s high school fare, “Planes” showed that Hughes could pull of an adult comedy with the best of them.

Favorite quotes:

“If I wanted a joke, I'd follow you into the john and watch you take a leak. Now are you gonna help me or are you gonna stand there like a slab of meat with mittens?”

“You're going the wrong way! You're going to kill somebody!”

“I could tolerate any insurance seminar. For days I could sit there and listen to them go on and on with a big smile on my face. They'd say, ‘How can you stand it?’ I'd say, ‘Cause I've been with Del Griffith. I can take ANYTHING.’”

“You want the brownie? He won't give you the brownie. He's got a sweet tooth.”

"National Lampoon’s Vacation," 1983

If you’ve been at a summer barbecue and never used the line “Real tomato ketchup, Eddie?” as someone squeezes a Heinz bottle – seriously, shame on you. However, one scene says it all in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” or the film that should have made Chevy Chase his generation’s biggest comedy star until Bill Murray stole the title. When the Griswold’s finally arrive at the mother of all amusement parks, Walley World, Clark (Chase) parks the car in the far distance and begins a fun loving race with his son Rusty (Anthony Michael Hall) to the entrance doors. “Chariots of Fire” plays in the background as Clark strides with so much glee, you’d think the man had just been touched by the hand of God.

It’s a wonderful scene that defines everything beautiful about this comedy. Or how something so pure and simple as wanting to enjoy a family vacation at Walley World can crumble before a man’s eyes due to cruel twists of fate – and of course, eventually drive a well-meaning father to such drastic and disastrous ends.

Memorable cameos include a smoking hot Christie Brinkley and a super-young Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock” as Cousin Eddie’s (Randy Quaid) delinquent daughter who – brace for it – is really good at French kissing because her daddy tells her so.

Favorite quotes:

“I don't know why they call this stuff Hamburger Helper. It does just fine by itself, huh? I like it better than Tuna Helper myself, don't you, Clark?”

“She breathed on me! A dead person breathed on me!”

We can't close our eyes to the plight of the cities. Kids, are you noticing all this plight?”

"Don't TOUCH!"

"Weird Science," 1985

Much like another ‘80s gem, “Stripes,” one half of “Weird Science” clearly trumps the other. So while a dud ending keeps the teen sex comedy from being a true classic, it’s important in the director’s canon because EVERY high school virgin who stumbles on a cable rerun will wonder how they ever lived without it. The film follows the dream scenario that every horny geek-boy fantasizes about – being able to create the perfect woman out of thin air. And Kelly LeBrock – before she ruined my image of her for life by appearing on “Celebrity Fit Club” – is just that.

There’s a kissing scene. There’s a shower scene. Let’s just say LeBrock had a lot to do with the development of adolescent boys everywhere (and no, we’re not talking about a newfound interest in computer science.) Anthony Michael Hall is particularly brilliant as jive-talking Gary, and supporting roles by Bill Paxton (as militant brother Chet) and Robert Downey Jr. (as a Slushie-dumping bully) also add high comedy value.

Favorite quotes:

“Stop hitting people with your Rex Harrison hat!”

“How 'bout a nice greasy pork sandwich served in a dirty ashtray?”

"I'm gonna get to the bottom of this ASAFP, but first I'd like to butter your muffin."

"The Breakfast Club," 1985

If there was only one film title you could etch on John Hughes' gravestone, it'd probably be "The Breakfast Club." Largely regarded as the best high school movie of all time -- and possibly the best '80s film, as well -- there isn't much that hasn't already been written about Hughes' masterpiece starring principal members of the Brat Pack.

Set in fictional Shermer High School, five students from disparate teen social cliques converge for Saturday detention under the watchful eye of ball-busting overlord Richard "Dick" Vernon (Paul Gleason). Together, the five find commonality in sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking fashion, all while doing their best to maintain the essence of who everyone thinks they're supposed to be until the very end. (Well, except Brian, the big ol' honor roll nerd who doesn't really know how to be image-conscious.) There's also a ridiculous impromptu dancing scene -- including a Billy Idol mid-air wrist swivel by Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez roid rage outburst-- that will probably be mimicked by every generation moving forward.

Now, if you didn't watch this film as a teen and relate to one of the characters in some meaningful capacity, well, you're either a compulsive liar like Allison or a neo-maxi zoom dweebie who consciously tries to be above pop culture perfection. Though Principal Vernon and hardcore rebel Judd Nelson had all the best lines, the true essence of this film's fixation on unfair stereotypes comes from custodian Carl and his immortal quip, "I am the eyes and ears of this institution, my friends." John Bender, you just got played, son!

Truly, the impact of "The Breakfast Club" cannot be overstated. It's a movie you HAVE to watch before you turn 18. And if you care to challenge that claim, well, don't mess with the bull, 'cuz you're gonna get the horns.

Favorite quotes:

"That's seven including when we first came in and you asked Mr. Vernon whether Barry Manilow knew that he raided his closet."

"Do you know how popular I am? I am so popular. Everybody loves me so much at this school."

"So it's sorta social. Demented and sad, but social. Right?"

"Screws fall out all the time, the world is an imperfect place."

"Are you guys like boyfriend-girlfriend? Steady dates? Lovers? Come on, sporto, level with me. Do you slip her the hot beef injection?"

"What did you wanna be when you were young?" -- Vernon

"When I was a kid, I wanted to be John Lennon." -- Carl

"Carl, don't be a goof. I'm making a serious point here." -- Vernon

"Uh, Dick? Excuse me - ‘Rich’ - will milk be made available to us?"

"Well, Brian’s trying to tell me that in addition to a number of girls in the Niagara Falls area, that presently you and he are riding the hobby horse."

"The next time I have to come in here, I’m cracking skulls!"

"Two hits. Me hitting you. You hitting the floor."

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off," 1986

It's a little lame to admit, but Ferris Bueller was the reason I skipped school for the first time ever (that and the promise of a delicious Sonic cherry limeade in the middle of a dull school day). Unlike, Ferris, though, I got caught and served a most un-"Breakfast Club" Saturday detention.

On its face, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is a movie about the greatest day off, but like any John Hughes movie, there's a simpler, deeper message about appreciating life that still sticks with me. It's also hands down the most quotable Hughes movie in his repertoire ("Niiiiiine times," "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" "A. You can never go too far. B. If I'm going to get busted, it is not going to be by a guy like that!" The list is endless). Toss in the red Ferrari, the various samplings of Chicago landmarks like the Sears Tower, the Art Institute and Wrigley Field, and a delightful side-plot about Asst. Principal Ed Rooney (before actor Jeffrey Jones' notoriety as a sex offender), and you've got a classic I could watch on repeat.

For a movie about a bad case of senior-itis, "Ferris" is pretty inspirational on many levels. After you see him sing "Twist and Shout" on the parade float, you start imagining what you'd do on a day off from school/work, too.

Favorite quotes:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you might just miss it."

"When Cameron was in Egypt land ... 'let my Cameron go.'"

"You wear too much eye makeup. My sister wears too much. People think she's a whore."

"Some Kind of Wonderful," 1987

Boy loves popular girl. Tomboy best friend loves boy. Boy spends movie chasing popular girl, but finally realizes it's the tomboy best friend he loves. You probably recognize this formula, right?

At the hands of a less-skilled writer, this would be a crappy romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl and Matthew McConaughey. Thank God that Hughes wrote it and "Pretty in Pink" director Howard Deutch directed it. Keith Nelson (Eric Stoltz) spends much of the movie trying to woo popular Amanda Jones (Lea Thompson -- ie. the mom from "Back to the Future") while bff Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) pines away for him in between practicing the drums.

Like "Pretty in Pink," there's an undertone of a class struggle between the haves and the have-nots that's a huge part of the plot. Watts and Keith are both working class, holding down jobs while in high school, while Jones and her dickish ex-boyfriend Hardy Jenns (Craig Sheffer) ride around in sports cars. There's plenty of angst, awkwardness and anger, not to mention some great one-liners, and all-in-all, this is a much more sophisticated take on "Pretty in Pink" that is sadly forgotten.

Favorite quotes:

"Well, I like art, I work in a gas station, my best friend is a tomboy. These things don't fly too well in the American high school."

"Don't go mistaking paradise for a pair of long legs."

"Pretty in Pink," 1986

I will admit that this was a John Hughes movie that had to grow on me. For one, it's got a too-perfect ending with rich guy Blane (Andrew McCarthy) changing his whole life perspective for Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald), the girl from the wrong side of the tracks, when he's pretty much spent most of the movie being a giant turd to her.

But after a more recent viewing, I realized that the "too perfect" ending actually works. Despite my fantasy that Andie would end up with her best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer), especially after he rescues her from having to go to the prom all alone in her hideous pink outfit (Blane ditches Andie, so she decides to go the prom alone, but Duckie's there waiting to escort her inside the ballroom... just thinking about it gives me the girly sniffles). Still, Blane does have a change of heart and you gotta give it up to a guy who's willing to admit he's wrong and tell off his best friend (James Spader in a deliciously vile role). It's a ballsy move. Plus, Duckie gets to dance with Kristy Swanson and try to get it on with Annie Potts, so it's all good, right?

"Pretty in Pink" did have a lot of things you didn't normally see in a teen movie -- a depressed unemployed father, Andie's embarrassment in showing Blane where she lives and her willingness to go to prom alone -- and for that, it stands out as a timeless classic. It's not the most quotable movie (although I do have a few favorite quotes from it), but it's definitely one that I've grown to love.

Favorite quote:

"Andie, hon. Listen, it's after 7. Don't waste good lip gloss."

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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