On this week’s ‘Not My Job’ segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the guests are Brook Lopez of the Milwaukee Bucks and Robin Lopez Orlando Magic – the first twin 7-footers ever to play in the NBA. Their good-natured chiding of each other – along with their mutual love of Disney – make for a fun interview with host Peter Sagal.
This the full Wait, Wait… broadcast, but you can jump directly to the “Not My Job” segment, it starts around the 18:20 mark.
This is from several weeks ago, so it's not the current story it was at the time, but it's still an interesting discussion. And at least it's timely for being in the final stages of the NFL playoffs. As Team Stewart puts it, "Fantasy football legend Jon Stewart sits down with real football legend Keyshawn Johnson to discuss coach Jon Gruden’s leaked racist emails and how the power structure of the NFL enables such behavior. Jon is also joined by Kris Acimovic and Kasaun Wilson, who don’t hold back on the Gruden controversy."
Most people know Harry Anderson from his starring role in the series Night Court – or perhaps even before that in a recurring role on Cheers as the con man Harry “The Hat” Gittes. (Or even before, from a few appearances on Saturday Night Live.)
To those who know his early work, you know that he actually got his start as a magician. And he not only was wonderful as a magician, but his act was extremely funny.
If you’ve never seen his act – or haven’t for a long time but remember it fondly – this is as good as it gets. It’s a wonderful 1986 TV special he did for Showtime, Hello, Sucker! That was his on-stage persona, which was reasonably close to his Cheers character, a fast-talking street magician, out to scam you, often in as "geek" a way as he could.
Though this shows you his work at its roots, it came from after he hit the big time with Night Court, that premiered in 1984. And in a nod to that, one of his guests is the show's co-star, John Larroquette. (It also features one of my favorite, if lesser-known comedians, the low-key, odd and wonderful Rich Hall, who doesn't do any comedy here but just has a brief appearance as a bartender.)
This runs about 50 minutes, blending stage work and sketches and it's a joy.
On this “Mystery Guest” segment of What’s My Line?, the contestant is Muhammed Ali. It’s fairly entertaining, most notably because of the effort he puts into a funny voice to disguise his – which in fact not only amuses the audience, but himself, as well. And it's obvious he's having a fun time playing the game, though with his competitive juices trying to win.
This comes from September, 1965, about a year after he changed his name, which clearly is still in a bit of flux to all of society, as can be noted in a couple of places here
This is the full broadcast, with commercials. If you want to jump right to the “Mystery Guest” appearance, it starts at the 21:40 mark.
A year ago, I posted an episode here of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! when the guest contestants were the sister rock-group Haim. (One thing I recall is them talking about getting their start as a family cover-band with their parents at Canter's Deli in Los Angeles.) They were absolutely charming -- so when I saw that Alana Haim was going to be a guest last night on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, I thought I’d tune in. She's making her movie acting debut in the romantic comedy, Licorice Pizza, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (who's made such films as Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, and Magnolia.)
She was absolutely adorable, funny and ingenuous, and it’s a joy of an interview. And that shouldn't have come as a big surprise, because when I went back and found videos of several other interviews with the three sisters, they not only were all charming, but she was clearly the most talkative of them...by far. As in -- by far. (In fact, in that Wait, Wait... segment above, only two of the sisters were available -- and yes, she's one of them.)
It's really a lot of fun, so I thought I'd post it here.
The other day, I came across the video that floored me. It's from a British tribute to legendary producer Cameron Mackintosh called, Hey, Mr. Producer. And I've seen the special when it aired on PBS in 1998 -- but I have absolutely no recollection of this segment. Now, generally, I might say it's easy to forget a short sketch from two decades ago -- but this one would be really hard to forget.
It's introduced by Stephen Sondheim -- who is met by thunderous applause -- and I remember Sondheim on the show. In fact, at one point in the evening he introduced someone who went to summer camp with: of all people, Tom Lehrer (who was there people Mackintosh had produced a revue of Lehrer songs, called Tomfoolery). And after Sondheim left the stage, Lehrer sat at the piano and quipped, "I always wondered what happened to that guy."
But this sketch?? Absolutely no memory of it. And it would seem to be so memorable that I'm wondering if it got trimmed out of the PBS broadcast for time. Though why on earth would you trim this??? So -- it's either that, or I just don't remember it.
And "it" is a sketch with Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber sitting together at one piano and playing sort of "Dueling Pianos" with one another!
Yes, that's what I mean by, "This one would be really hard to forget."
For several reasons, none of which I want to get into so that I don't give anything away -- beyond noting that one of those few reasons is that Sondheim (who is very funny here) says "Cameron asked me to devise a little something for this evening" -- I suspect that Sondheim did, in fact, write and arrange the piece, although Lloyd Webber might have possibly tweaked his part after the fact.
It's a lot of fun. With a nice twist.
Okay, I'm about to give something away. So, if you haven't watched the video yet, hold off reading any further and come back to it after the fact.
I'll give you another moment to scroll away, so that your eyes don't drift down to the text below.
Okay, are you back? Fine.
What I want to add is this --
When Andrew Lloyd Webber does appear on stage with Sondheim after the video, I was trying to figure out why he could make it there for his comments, but not to do the musical number live. And the best I can figure is -- as he says, he's working on a show around the corner. And if he was going to perform in the tribute, he'd probably have to show up at least an hour early, and he just didn't have that kind of time, but here he could pop in at the last minute. Doing the video ahead of time, they could schedule that whenever it was convenient for him. Further, if they planned to do the number live at the tribute, and a big problem came up with his work so that he had to cancel, they'd be left without being able to do the number. If that meant he also couldn't show up live for his after-the-video comments, they could easily have just ended the segment with Sondheim, who probably would have added a word or two that Sir Andrew had wanted to say.
There’s an old epigram – If an awards show falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound? Well, the old saying is something like that.
As readers of these pages know, I have been posting a column I wrote 15 years ago about what a scam on the American public the Golden Globes are. Not just utterly meaningless, yet postured as a supposed “Precursor” of the Academy Awards, but coming from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association that has a grandiose-sounding name, but empty in substance and a history of scandal (including being able to buy an award win), to the point of being a joke within the Industry – but it got ratings before movie studios saw it as a free way to promote their films, and by ensuring celebrities would show up to get praised, TV saw it as a great way to get viewers.
All that came to a head last year, with even more scandal, until finally even NBC had enough and pulled the plug, no other major network picked it up, and the HFPA lost its lifeblood. Only days before I posted my annual column, I wrote that an investigation by the Los Angeles Times resulted in a story lead by Josh Rottenberg who wrote --
"...Times reporting revealed the group is still struggling to shake its reputation that the voters are easily swayed by high-priced junkets in exotic locales and cozy relationships with studios, networks and A-listers. Even as the HFPA fended off allegations brought in an antitrust lawsuit by Norwegian journalist Kjersti Flaa, some of the group’s own members have raised mounting criticisms of its alleged ethical lapses and self-dealing. The HFPA has said the allegations are unproven and “simply repeat old tropes” about the organization. (Flaa’s suit was dismissed by a federal judge in November. An amended motion is pending.)
"The Times investigation also highlighted the fact that the group currently has no Black members, further fueling criticism over this year’s Globes picks, which didn’t include any of this year’s Black-led awards contenders..."
Yes, you read that right -- no Black members. By itself, that’s bad enough. But as my annual articles explains, seeing this in context of the HFPA's history makes this scandal all the more Standard Operation Procedure, and all the worse.
To be clear, the lawsuit referenced above was dismissed though was under appeal, and I don’t know the result or if there is one yet. But, of course, just because someone brings up your old problems -- whimsically called "old tropes" – that doesn't mean those old problems weren't very real and didn't exist, nor does it mean that some of them, or most, or all, don't still exist today.
But though I knew of these latest problems, and the concerns of NBC to the point of dropping its broadcast, I was boggled by how far the Golden Globes fell.
I was waiting to repost my annual article this year as soon as I bothered to check when the Golden Globes would be given. At the very least, I figured some basic cable channel might broadcast them, the E! Channel, for instance.
It turns out that it all not only went way under the wire, it was buried. I was boggled to find out that they actually had the “Golden Globes” this past Sunday. And not only was there not TV broadcast of the event – there was no host. And no celebrity presenters. And…and no actors there to even accept their “awards”!
They just sort of have had a small gathering and announced things. They could have saved a lot of effort and just sent out a press release.
I couldn’t help seeing two “awards,” but honestly I have no idea what all “won.” Nor do I care – or ever care. If you held an office pool, it would have as much substance and likely more voters than the “Golden Globes.”
But still, a tradition remains tradition. And at the very least to explain their disappearance, here again is that
* * *
The PreCurse of the Golden Globes Rides Again
'Tis the season for awards - and that means on Sunday it was time to read and hear (repeatedly) how the Golden Globes matter because they are "precursors to the Oscars," remarkable for their mystical ability to predict the Academy Awards. Of course, if you repeat any mantra enough, people will believe almost anything But then reality rears its pesky head and gets in the way.
Indeed, the dirty little secret about the Golden Globes is that they're the biggest flim-flam scam on the American public today. Okay, other than "Mitt Romney is a far-right conservative."
(And one of the main reasons that keeps it such a "secret" is because most people don't have the slightest clue who in the world the Hollywood Foreign Press is that gives these awards. That's a little sending a congratulations gift to someone who was named "Man of the Year" and not realizing that the honor was given by an online website that sends out the certificates for $18.)
I have absolutely no idea who "won" what last night. Alas, the depth of human caring simply doesn't stretch that low. Mind you, it's not because they're just awards - hey, awards are entertainment, and can be as fun as anything. It's because the Golden Globes are to awards what a Black Hole is to French toast. There's no connection, but at least with French toast you can pour on syrup and not have human existence sucked out of the universe.
When someone said, "The show must go on," clearly the Golden Globes hadn't been invented yet.
Four years ago, I wrote about the Golden Globes, and because they keep coming back unrelentingly like a crazed zombie, I updated and edited it a year later. And now it's become a bit of an annual tradition, the same as one calls in a gardener to stop the crab grass from spreading any further. Because the foolish hype gets more out of control each year - and since if I saw someone crossing the street into an oncoming truck I'd always yell to stop - I figure it's worth revisiting that piece.
Until recently the Globes were so comatose that even a new health care system couldn't have diagnosed them to life. But three things changed: movie studios realized they could get massive free publicity. Television recognized that if celebrities attended, people would watch anything. And actors grasped they'd get to appear on TV and receive awards. It was the Holy Trinity of PR.
Before even attempting to dismiss or defend the Golden Globes, however, it's important to understand what exactly what it is. And it starts with a bit of flim-flammery.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Golden Globes, has always had only one thing going for it - an incredible-sounding name. That name comes across like A-list journalists in trenchcoats from Paris Match, Die Welt and the Neptune Gazette. In fact, however, the HFPA, while representing many fine, individual, full-time reporters, is largely comprised of stringers (part-timers whose day job is other than journalism). And many are neither foreign, nor active in the press. Membership is whimsical: some get permanent status; others are inexplicably refused even entry. (The London Times is not a member. A reporter from the renowned Le Monde has been turned down for years. Happily there is a representative from the movie hotbed of Bangladesh. Honest.)
Yes, of course, movie awards are utterly pointless to all human life forms, except the winners. It's just faflooey. Nothing more than fluff. And the Globes are the fluff on top of the fluff. But before dismissing them further, remember: around 20 million viewers tune in to the Golden Globes. If that many people are going to spend their time on Earth watching the circus, it's at least nice to know who sent in the clowns.
And that's the kicker. At last count, the Globes are voted on by just...get this...86 people. Yes, you read that correctly. 86. For comparison, the Oscars, Emmys, and Writers Guild/Directors Guild/SAG awards are each voted on by about 6,000 professionals of their respective industries.
The good news is that with only 86 people voting it cuts down on the hanging-chad problem.
Any club is entitled to give awards. But most don't get to take over three hours of prime time on national network television.
The history of the Golden Globes is peppered with so many scandals about buying awards that Frequent Shopper points should be instituted. The most famous is when Pia Zadora's then-husband gave lavish parties to the HFPA, and she won New Star of the Year - for the ridiculed disaster "Butterfly." For the 2000 Awards Sharon Stone's representative sent gold watches to all then-82 voters. Only after this became a public embarrassment was the plunder returned. And Ms. Stone received a best actress nomination for The Muse.
But the big myth about the Golden Globes - indeed their one false hope to even a wisp of validity - is that they are an impeccable predictor of the Academy Awards.
(Why anyone cares about predicting the Oscars is another matter entirely.)
But the reality is - the Golden Globes as a "Precursor to the Oscars" is not only not close to true, it's worse than not close to true. Which is near-impossible.
Keep in mind that six of the 13 Globe categories are split into drama and musical-comedy - which allows for twice as many chances to be "right." Some categories have had as many as nine nominees. People watching at home eating cheese dip probably get half the Oscar winners right by pure guessing. (My mother correctly predicted Philip Seymour Hoffman's win, and she hadn't even seen "Capote" at the time.) Yet it's almost impressive how wrong the Globes are at "precursing."
Last year, the Golden Globes did well in all the acting categories, picking all four winners (keeping in mind that they give twice as many acting awards as the Oscars, so they have twice as many chances to be right). But they got Best Picture wrong, Best Director wrong, Best Screenplay wrong, and Best Foreign Language Picture wrong.
Going back to the year before, here are all the Golden Globe categories.
Best Picture (drama) - right
Best Picture (comedy) - wrong, not even nominated for an Oscar.
Best Actor (drama) - wrong
Best Actor (comedy) - wrong, not even nominated for an Oscar.
Best Actress (drama) - right
Best Actress (comedy) - wrong, not even nominated for an Oscar
Best Supporting Actor - right
Best Supporting Actress - wrong, not nominated for an Oscar.
Best Director - right
Best Screenplay - right, but the Oscar-winner for Original Screenplay wasn't nominated by the Golden Globes
Best Foreign Language Film - wrong
Best Animated Feature - right
Best Score - right
Best Song - wrong, not nominated for an Oscar.
It is unlikely that these results over the past two years would win your office pool. If you want to be considered a precursor, that would seem to be the minimum requirement.
And these were both pretty good years for the Golden Globes.
In 2006, the Oscar for Best Picture was "Crash." The Golden Globes didn't even nominate it among their 10 finalists!
It becomes scary bad when you delve deeper. But having a limit on my Care-o-Meter, with zero interest to go back and check year-after-every-year, I decided to try an experiment. To be very clear, there is absolutely nothing even remotely scientific about it. Rather, it's the testing equivalent of throwing darts. No scientific meaning. Just picking a totally random year. But in its randomness, it has a separate meaning: it could have been any year.
I closed my eyes, pointed at the screen blindly and grabbed a year. The lucky winner was 2001. It looked good - it even had the name of a movie ("2001") about it. Alas, "lucky winner" turned out to be a contradiction.
The Globe winner in 2001 for Best Picture musical/comedy (Almost Famous) wasn't even nominated for the Oscar. The two Golden Globe winners for Best Actor were Tom Hanks and George Clooney. Swell actors, but the Oscar went to Russell Crowe ("Gladiator") - and Globe-winner Clooney didn't even get an Oscar nomination.
Renee Zellwegger ("Nurse Betty") won the Globe's Best Actress, musical/comedy. Alas, she didn't get nominated for an Oscar either.
It gets worse.
For supporting actress, Marcia Gay Harden won the Academy Award...but didn't even receive a Globe nomination.
In fairness, that was a random choice and therefore hardly definitive, as I said. Not proof of anything. Unfortunately, to be fair, I figured I'd at least go back one more year, and the results were as dismal. The year before, in 2000, the Golden Globes gave their two Best Actor awards to Denzel Washington and Jim Carrey - but the Oscar winner was Kevin Spacey (and Carrey wasn't nominated). Tom Cruise won the Globe for Supporting Actor - but Michel Caine got the Oscar. And remarkably, although there were nine Globe nominees for Best Original Score, their winner didn't even get nominated by the Academy, and the Oscar winner (The Red Violin) wasn't nominated by the Globes!!
Not good as far as precursors go.
Certainly, other years may show better results. Or...okay, maybe not. But the bottom line is not whether the Golden Globes are right some years or really wrong others. It's that if you're doing to be a "precursor," if you're going to be predictive, then you have to have a steady standard that can be relied upon. Every single year. And the only thing steady about the Golden Globes is that they do not "predict" anything. Set that in granite and plant the gravestone, once and for all.
All this said, this year the Golden Globes actually do have a reason to watch. Ricky Gervais is hosting again. It's why God created the DVR and fast-forward button.
Of course, underlying all of this is that the Golden Globes or Oscars are all just awards. They have no real meaning, except to those who win. For the rest of the planet, they're just entertainment. Still, even entertainment is more substantive when we value those behind it. There's a reason TV doesn't broadcast your office pool.
Further, for as little meaning that all awards shows have (including those given out by an industry to itself), the reality is that people watch the broadcasts. And they watch them because there's a perception - as in the Emmys, Tonys, Grammys and Oscars - that the people giving the awards know what they're doing. It's a perception the Golden Globes have falsely milked for decades, scamming the public.
In the end, for those who insist on watching the Golden Globes, watch them and accept them for what they are, and you can live in blissful peace - 86 members of a shaky organization that stumbled onto a goldmine with studios and networks, and who present a lively TV kegger.
And that's why Globe winners appear so goofy on the air. Because they understand what you now know. Everyone loves a good joke.
One day after writing this above, Patrick Goldstein in the L.A. Times, wrote an article about a story broken by The Wrap about the longtime, former publicist of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association suing the organization.
"Michael Russell, who ran press for the show for 17 years, has charged the HFPA with fraud and corrupt practices. He claims that a number of members of the organization accepted money, vacations and gifts from studios in exchange for nominating their films in addition to selling media credentials and red carpet space for gifts. He also says the HFPA accepted payment from studios and producers for lobbying other members for award nominations."
Apparently Jimmy Fallon has been on Sesame Street a few times. And apparently he's had Elmo on as a guest several times. But it turns out that for all that, you can still go too far when making a joke at the expense of a Muppet, and Elmo is just a hoot here taking Fallon to task.
Today we have another podcast with Jon Stewart that's a companion to his new series on Apple TV+. Some are extensions of the Apple show, others are standalone. This is a standalone as Jon talks with Steve Kerr, who he describes as "The Nicest, Whitest Man in Basketball."
As their website describes the podcast, “Steve Kerr thinks he’s here to talk with Jon about his career, speaking out on social issues, and the racial and political dynamics of the NBA. And he does get to talk about those things, but not before enduring Jon’s pleas for him to coach the Knicks. Staff writers Jay and Henrik offer some color commentary as well.”
For what it’s worth, from other books on basketball (and from my years following the Chicago Bulls, when Kerr played with them during the Michael Jordan years), he has always been called as nice as they come. He’s also a bright, thoughtful guy, whose father was the president of American University of Beirut. (Kerr also has a very interesting personal story about this, and I was curious if they'd reference it. Though this conversation doesn’t get into that in much depth, they do touch on it around the 36:30 mark.) If you do tune in, know that although the show begins with a lot of talk about basketball – and much of it is pretty funny -- it eventually gets to a serious, and very interesting conversation about race, so you can jump to that at the 18:00 mark..
On this week’s ‘Not My Job’ segment of the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, the guest is Chance the Rapper, a most-appropriate guest as the show finally returns to its Chicago theater with an actual audience after 20 months away…and a guest from Chicago. His interview with host Peter Sagal is very charming and self-effacing, most especially (and humorously) when talking about plans for his upcoming or perhaps (by the time this is posted) recent 10-year high school reunion, as well as his affection celebrating the Chicago Sky who had just won the WNBA championship.
This the full Wait, Wait… broadcast, but you can jump directly to the “Not My Job” segment, it starts around the 18:30 mark.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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