BACK TO WORK

The first letter I read upon coming back from vacation had this to say:
"How come you wrote about the Suns the way you did? How dare you sell out to Colangelo like that?"
Wonderful. Things are back to normal. Let's get a few other things out of the way.

@rule:
@body:The story about Heidi Foglesong's resignation as anchor at KTVK, Channel 3, was front-page news in both local daily newspapers.

I wonder why?
Who'll ever notice she's gone? Would they even recognize Heidi two weeks from now if they passed her at Metrocenter?

Consider the situation. Despite the hoopla, Heidi was a dual anchor at 10 p.m. with Cameron Harper, the Ken doll of local TV. So how much time did either of them have to gain immortality?

Media critic Ken Auletta pointed out something fairly significant about dual anchors in Three Blind Mice, his study of the fall of network television.

"With time subtracted for commercials and station breaks," Auletta wrote, "the half-hour newscast was only 22 minutes long--the script for the entire newscast if laid out would cover only two-thirds of the entire front page of the New York Times.

"Subtract another minute or two for music and credits, then add correspondents' reports, and the anchor was left with about five minutes to read the news and do bridges between stories."
How do you possibly divide the time? How do you allot enough for either of the two readers to make an impact?

Tom Brokaw, who isn't particularly bright, once summed it up fairly well: "This is a situation that can lead only to 'competitive cannibalism.'"

The truth of the matter is that Heidi and all the other women anchors in this town look alike. They all have jobs only because it is considered the politically correct thing for the stations to do.

All of these pretty, young things came out of the same charm school with similar haircuts, the same eyebrows and identical styles of reading the news.

We ignore the fact that it takes little more than a grade-school education to develop the skill necessary to read the news.

And yet we are inundated with so many advertisements about the news-gathering abilities of Heidi and her compatriots that we mistakenly begin to consider them journalists.

They are not journalists.
They are skilled readers who have learned when to pause, how to tilt their heads and how to smile at the end of each news brief describing the latest drive-by gang shooting.

If these young ladies weren't reading the news, they'd be running up and down the aisles of airplanes passing out bags of peanuts.

Incidentally, I was amused by Cameron Harper's fond farewell to his fellow anchor, Heidi.

Harper told the Arizona Republic, "She's breaking my heart, and I'm sure the hearts of a lot of people who have fallen in love with her on TV."

Harper, too, reminds me of one of those male airline stews. I can picture him rushing up and down those aisles, casting those bags of peanuts with the reckless abandon of a Castilian bullfighter.

@rule:
@body:Every time I come across an extremely readable novel, someone else comes along and turns it into an inferior movie.

This is what has happened to John Grisham's The Firm. As a novel, it was a terrific, suspenseful read. I looked forward to the movie.

I should have known better. I should have been warned off when I learned Tom Cruise was to be the film's star. Cruise's name at the top of the bill should be a signal to avoid the vicinity of the theatre at all costs.

Once you have seen Cruise in one movie, you have captured his style forever. It is impossible for him to play any character other than Tom Cruise.

And that character is always so self-centered, self-satisfied and narcissistic that he is guaranteed to give the average viewer a squirming fit in less than five minutes.

Watching Cruise act in a big scene is as relaxing as sitting down in a dental chair for a root canal. But nobody in Hollywood ever learns. They keep pairing Cruise with the best actors in Hollywood, hoping, no doubt, that moviegoers will forget Cruise's erratic presence.

In The Color of Money, Cruise played opposite Paul Newman. In A Few Good Men, he was paired with Jack Nicholson. In Rain Man, he worked with Dustin Hoffman. Now, in The Firm, he plays against Gene Hackman. In each of these films, Cruise's performance is dwarfed by those given by Newman, Nicholson, Hoffman and Hackman. The Color of Money, A Few Good Men and Rain Man were outstanding films despite Cruise's presence. They succeeded because the roles assigned to Newman, Nicholson and Hoffman were outstanding.

The weakness of The Firm stems directly from the fact that Hackman's role as the veteran lawyer who sold his ethical standards isn't powerful enough to carry the script.

They paid Cruise $12 million plus percentages to play the young Harvard lawyer who goes to work for a firm representing the Mafia.

The film's producers were so pleased with Cruise's performance that they gave him a bonus: a $100,000 Mercedes-Benz. What else is there to say?

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