Thursday, March 31, 2011

New "Doctor Who" season six trailer; April 23 can't get here soon enough

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge "Doctor Who" fan. One of the highlights of my time at the Sun-Times was having the opportunity to interview the 11th (and current) Doctor, Matt Smith. Heck, I even own a sonic screwdriver (thank again, Thomas Conner).
So, pardon me for geeking out. New "Doctor Who" trailer! New "Doctor Who" trailer!

BBC America also has an web-exclusive prequel. Original link is here.

The new season (or series, as the Brits say) premieres on BBC America April 23.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Songs in the key of "Grey's Anatomy": ABC show goes musical

March 31 is the night when "Grey's Anatomy,"  ABC's doctor drama, joins the ranks of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Scrubs" and "Oz" to present an episode done as a musical.
In the case of the ABC show, the tunes happen after Tony-winner Sara Ramirez's character, Callie Torres, has a car accident.
The doctors have some big shoes to fill. "Once More With Feeling," the musical episode of "Buffy," hit all the marks. The episode featured original music, script and direction from show-creator Joss Whedon. Whedon managed to create a great homage to musicals with a score that was both modern and golden age Broadway.

The show's opening, "Going Through the Motions," has the title heroine disillusioned and disenfranchised to a backdrop of occasionally humorous lyrics.

The show even managed a nod to "Les Miserable" with the rousing "Walk Though the Fire."

The episode also managed to push the season's overall plot arch forward, too.

"Scrubs" musical episode, "My Musical" was done for laughs, natch. The premise had a patient (played by Northwestern alum and "Avenue Q" star Stephanie D'Abruzzo) who saw and heard the world around her as a big Broadway musical because of her brain tumor.

The most memorable song in my book was the ballad of bromance, "Guy Love."

In HBO's gritty prison show "Oz," writers needed a device to explain away the absence of the show's narrator (Harold Perrineau Jr. who was shooting "The Matrix" films). Their solution? A variety show.
Like "Scrubs" and "Grey's Anatomy," the show benefited by having Broadway talent in the cast. In this case Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winning actress Rita Moreno in the role of Sister Peter Marie.

No matter how "Grey's Anatomy" musical experiment works, it can't possibly be worse than the canceled-after-two-episodes "Viva Laughlin." You can thank me for not posting a link to any of the music from the show.

Mike Catherwood gets the boot on "Dancing with the Stars."

It was hardly a shocker. The "Dancing with the Stars" judges and the voting public showed no love for "Loveline" co-host Mike Catherwood. Catherwood was the first celebrity to be eliminated from season 12 of ABC's popular dance show on Tuesday night.
Catherwood was in good spirits on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday.
"I just feel terrific; being voted off first it's a real boost to my ego and makes me feel good about everything in life," Catherwood said.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A trio of kings score 23 on "Dancing with the Stars" week two

It was anything but "ladies night" on the second week of ABC's hit celebrity dance show, "Dancing with the Stars."

Celebs and their professional dance partners had the option of dancing either the jive or the quick step. Three of the male celebrities each drew the top score of the night for their quick step dancing, 23 out of 30: Chris Jericho (with Cheryl Burke), Romeo Miller (with Chelsie Hightower)and Hines Ward (with Kym Johnson).

Judge Len Goodman, who host Tom Bergeron ribbed for being grumpy for most of the night, singled out Miller (left, with Chelsie Hightower) for high praise. "That was the best dance of the night," Goodman said.

Of Jericho's footwork, judge Bruno Tonioli said "I like a man who responds well to strict discipline. And the dominatrix --she has transformed the beast into a gazelle."

Ward, who danced to a version of Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Lover,"  was told by Tonioli to "forget part-time lover, more like full-time dancer."

Last week's top scoring pair, Ralph Macchio and Karina Smirnoff, scored a 21 for a jive. "You attacked the dance a little bit too much and it got a bit frenzied," Goodman said. Macchio and Smirnoff are still at the top of the leader board as their score this week was combined with the 24 they received last week, for a total of 45. 

Miller, Jericho and Ward had combined scores of 42, 42 and 44, respectively.

Ward's moves were enough to bump last week's second place couple, Kristie Alley and Maxsim Chmerkovskiy, to third place. Tonioli said Alley's footwork on the quick step "started beautifully and started to wilt in the middle." They scored a 20 for the night, for a combined score of 43.

Monday night's most unbelievable moment came from Disney star Chelsea Kane and her dance partner Mark Ballas. The pair performed a freakish jive to "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" by Panic! at the Disco.

 "I love choreography like that, but there is a time and a place for it and I don’t think it was right now," said judge Carrie Ann Inaba

Tonioli liked it though, saying "Very creative. Marcel Marceau desperately seeking Lolita in a 'Clockwork Orange." 

The pair scored an 18, for a combined total of 39. 

There was less movement at the bottom. Though he shared the night's lowest score of 17 with fellow dancers Wendy Williams and Sugar Ray Leonard, because radio talk show co-host Mike Catherwood scored last week's lowest score of 13, he heads into tomorrow's elimination with the lowest combined score, 30. 

"I’ve got good news: it’s better than last week," Goodman told Catherwood and his partner Lacey Schwimmer, "But don’t get excited it’s still a little bit rough. You were flying about like a wasp at a picnic."

One couple will be sent home tomorrow night. My money is on Catherwood and Schwimmer hanging up their dance shoes.

Richard Simmons loves to fly...and it shows

This one is too strange for words. Fitness guru Richard Simmons for Air New Zealand. Please to enjoy:

Ready to Waltz with Alley on "Dancing with the Stars"

It's still too early for me to care about "American Idol," but for some reason I'm all about "Dancing with the Stars" this season. I can't wait to see what Kristie Alley (bellow, with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiye) have cooked up tonight.

I'm also looking forward to the train wreck that is certain to be Ms. Wendy Williams. Which dance partners are you looking forward to? I'm all ears...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ben Brantley agrees with me..."Mormon" is a hit

I happened to catch "The Book of Mormon" in one of it's first previews last month and loved what I saw. Now that the show has officially opened,, the reviews are starting to come in.

From Ben Brantley's review in the New York Times (complete review can be found here):
This is to all the doubters and deniers out there, the ones who say that heaven on Broadway does not exist, that it’s only some myth our ancestors dreamed up. I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air if not on water. So hie thee hence, nonbelievers (and believers too), to “The Book of Mormon,” and feast upon its sweetness.

Over at the New York Post, Elizabeth Vincentelli also raved (complete review can be found here):

Told the creators of “South Park” were making a Broadway musical, you’d naturally expect a broad, foul-mouthed, juvenile, scatological, irreverent satire.
Sure enough, “The Book of Mormon,” which opened last night, is all that — and much, much more. It’s a fiendishly well-crafted, hilariously smart — or maybe smartly hilarious — song-and-dance extravaganza.
The show’s a hoot. The show’s a hit.

The show is my front-runner for this year's Best Musical Tony. This is the show to see this season on Broadway.

Nintendo 3DS jumps on the 3D craze

In stores March 27, 2011; $249.99

Nintendo jumps into the 3D craze with its latest handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS. Should you be a first adopter or wait to jump into the fray?

Reviewing a new system is always difficult. Your impressions are ultimately formed by the usually limited amount of games that are out at launch. For the 3DS, my review unit came packed with "Madden Football," "Super Street Fighter IV -3D Edition," "Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars," "Pilotwings Resort," "Nintendogs & Cats: Toy Poodle and New Friends," and "Steel Diver."

Mini-reviews of the games will be posted over the weekend. I'll keep this limited to a review of the unit itself.
What I liked:
The 3D. The game delivers the 3D experience without having to wear those dorky glasses. A slide switch on the 3D screen enables you to lessen the 3D effects or shut them off all together.
The circle pad: The joystick-esque circle pad is an upgrade over the DS' direction pad. Running diagonally has always been a challenge with the direction pad, but the circle pad handled it with ease.
Backward compatibility: The 3DS plays all DS games, which means I don't have to carry both with me.
Mii-Maker: The facing camera can snap a picture of you and the system will create an avatar (called a Mii) based on the picture. Mine is below:

3D pictures: two cameras in the forward-facing lid enable you to snap 3D pictures.
Street Pass: While I wasn't able to fully test it, the "Street Pass" software that comes built-in with the console shows promise. When enabled, it allows your 3DS to communicate with all other enabled 3DS units in wireless range. You collect each other's Miis, creating a virtual neighborhood of people from your neighborhood. In the Street Mii Plaza, you are able to swap puzzle pieces and gain characters for the built-in role playing game "Find Mii." In the game, you control other Mii's you've collected as they embark on a quest to rescue you.
"AR Games": The console came with a pack of six "AR GAMES" cards (augmented reality). In a brightly-lit area, you place one of the cards on a surface and then aim the forward-facing camera lenses at the card. The game literally springs to 3D life from the card. Granted, the games are simple target games, but the concept is pretty cool.
"Face Raiders": Another of the built-in games, it puts your face (or the face or your friend or family member) onto the form of a propeller-wearing alien trying to break through their realm into your world.

What I didn't like:
I hate the size of the stylus (the pen-like object used to manipulate things on the touchscreen). I frequently lost the Nintendo DS stylus and the 3DS stylus is even smaller:

The Nintendo DS stylus is on top. The 3Ds stylus is below. I give it a week before I've lost it.

The 3D: I learned the hard way that watching 3D images on a moving L train is a one-way ticket to motion sicknessville. Sure, you can turn the 3D off, but that just negates one of the reasons to buy the 3DS in the first place. As it has been used in the games, the 3D effects haven't really impressed me.

Bottom line: As launches go, it's a nifty piece of technology, provided you don't already own a DS. I just haven't seen a killer app that would make you want to rush right out and be a first adopter, though.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

79 year-old Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor dies

Oscar-winning screen legend Elizabeth Taylor died today in Los Angeles. She was 79-years-old.

She had been hospitalized for the past six weeks with complications from congestive heart failure.

"My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love," her son,Michael Wilding, said in a statement. "Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."

My first memories of the legendary actress are ironically from one of her most campy films: 1980's "The Mirror Crack'd."

Though the film version of the classic Agatha Christie mystery The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side starred Angela Lansbury as master detective Miss Jane Marple and also featured Hollywood legends Rock Hudson, Kim Novak and Tony Curtis, it was Taylor's performance as Marina Rudd, a mentally-unstable actress staging a comeback despite death threats, that is perhaps most memorable.

"Spidey" Musical Claims Another Victim

Oh, what a tangled web "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" weaves...

T. V. Caprio (left), who plays the designer shoe-wearing supervillain "Arachne" in the troubled Broadway Musical, has been sidelined for two weeks after sustaining an injury during a performance.

America Olivo will be taking over the high-flying role while Caprio recovers.

Caprio was a permanent replacement for Natalie Mendoza who originated the role but left the production after suffering a concussion.

For those keeping score, Caprio is the fifth actor to report she sustained an injury while performing in the $68 million musical that has been in previews since November.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The other Spider-Man musical

Sometimes a piece of theater comes around that reaffirms your belief in the artform. "The Spidey Project" might not have a $68 million budget or a score by a Grammy Award-winning rock band or a complex flight rigging system.

And yet, despite this (or, perhaps, on account of it), they managed to create a musical that succeeds at telling a funny and occasionally touching piece of theater far more than the much-delayed Broadway musical. "The Spidey Project" certainly remains truer to the comic book origins with regard to Peter's Uncle Ben and the comic's core philosophy that "with great power comes great responsibility."

Don't believe me? Take a gander at the YouTube clip below.

Spidey Project - Part 3 of 4

'Dancing with the Stars' debut fizzles more than sizzles

Is it too late to recruit controversial Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker?
ABC's hit celebrity dance competition returned for a 12th season Monday without a polarizing political figure and I can't be the only one to notice the absence of any politicos or Washington beltway figures. Was Helen Thomas not available? I think the White House Press Corp vet is probably light on her feet. But I digress.
No one goes home this week, but that doesn't mean I can't still dish on the highs and (many) lows of the evening.
Tops of the evening?
The "Karate Kid" Ralph Macchio was king of the fox trot with his partner Karina Smirnoff. The baby-faced 49 year-old Macchio was dashing in a Fred Astaire-cum-Ray Romano kind of way.

Judge Carrie Ann Inaba summed things up best when she said "Wow, Ralph. That was an amazing surprise."

The pair drew the top score of the night, 24. 

Though others have been calling 60 year-old Kristie Alley this year's underdog, anyone who has watched her post-"Cheers" career (Jenny Craig commercials, "Fat Actress," etc.) knows she often comes across as a very likable scene-stealer. Such was the case Monday night with her cha-cha with her professional dance partner Maksim Chmerkovskiye. "Stars" judge Bruno Tonioli called it the best cha cha of the night.The pair scored a 23.

Alley also scored the best quip of the night; "If someone told me to haul ass, it would take two trips," she said during the rehearsal segment. I. Love. Her.

So, who sucked? I predict that America won't have too many weeks to wonder "Who?" when it comes to "Loveline" co-host Mike Catherwood.

He and dance partner Lacey Schwimmer scored a 13 for a clunky foxtrot.

"Dancing is movement to music," explained judge Len Goodman. "You did move and there was music, but there was very little dance quality about it."


While Catherwood should coast on his good looks for a couple of weeks, he's going to need to step up his game if he wants to last longer than that.

So, who do you think will be first to waltz off the celebrity dance floor? I'm all ears...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Dixie Longate dishes the Tupperware freshness

“Dixie’s Tupperware Party”
Through May 15
Royal George Theatre Cabaret, 1641 N. Halsted
Tickets, $44-$49
Call: (312) 988-9000;

Trust me. This is not your grandmother’s Tupperware party. I caught up with one of Tupperware’s top salesperson Dixie Longate  (the alter ego of actor Kris Andersson), to chat about her one-woman show, her three kids and practical food storage solutions. The Sun-Times article can be found here. Here's the full transcript of what the Tupperware-selling double-wide trailer-owning diva had to say:

How did you get started selling Tupperware?
Dixie Longate: Well, I got out of prison and my parole officer –she’s so sweet, she’s this adorable lesbian—she said ‘you need a job in order to get your kids back. First of all, I was [laughs sarcasticly]: I don’t want them back! You get out of prison –and they don’t tell you this—you’re all like ‘hey, freedom’ and then they try to give you your kids? What part of that makes sense? Freedom means get the hell out of my business because I want to go have sex with somebody. With your kids there, you can’t ‘cause you have to pretend and you can’t make the same noises or else the youngins will be like ‘Mommy, are you ok? Can I help you’ and you’re all ‘don’t come in here now, it’s just not a good time.’

How many kids do you have?
Three. Oh my Lord. Winona is 16. She’s sweet. She works at the Hooters. She’s such an over-achiever. She’s got that tight, orange t-shirt and her nipples poke through. I’m trying to get her to score me one for church, ‘cause they’re so fancy. I’m gonna put some of those sparkles on it. Wouldn’t that be pretty in church with sparkles? Sparkles means Jesus pays more attention to you. Jesus is like one of those ADD kids. He just goes up to whatever is the most sparkly. So, you should always try to be sparkly at church. I don’t wear sparkles when I’m drinking a lot, ‘cause I don’t want Jesus to see me lying down between the pews. They give you that wine. It’s not very good, but it’s free, so I’m going to drink it.
 Where was I? Dewayne is 10. Absorbine Jr. is 3. He’s such a doll. He don’t speak yet, but I’m lettin’ him learn on his own time.

How did you come up with the name ‘Absorbine Jr.’?
Ok, so he’s my third child. And you know you just get pissed off and bitter by the time you have your third. You don’t want to go through labor again. You just want them to knock you out and wake you up when ‘Bonanza’ is on. They put me out and gave me some drugs and I said ‘that’s fine’ and when I woke up he was born. The nurse was new and wasn’t that bright. She was writing different medications that they put me on and was putting them all over my forms. Writing stuff in any old space to write it and in the box for the name she put ‘Absorbine Jr.’ And I decided they already named the baby, that’s going to save some time. So, I just kept it. Sometimes I just call him ‘Junior’ and other times it’s just ‘shut up.’ You can’t call him a ‘hooker’ yet, ‘cause he’s too young and he won’t understand.

Why Tupperware as opposed to, say, Avon or something else?
Well, it’s funny. My parole officer had a Tupperware bowl on her desk. She used to put candy in it. It was this pretty little one that looks like glass. You can still buy it. You can see it when you come to the party. When I was finishing my last session –you have to check in every week and they ask you stuff like ‘how’s that ankle bracelet working for you?’ and the answer is always ‘it’s getting in the way of my panty hose.’ Anyway, she always knew how much I liked the bowl. She told me she bought it at a Tupperware party and I should sell Tupperware.
At first, I thought she was on drugs. I almost called that Nancy Reagan and said ‘Just say no!’ But my first party was so much fun. All I had to do is stand up and talk about all that plastic crap. People bought stuff and they gave me free drinks at the party! I can go to work and get free cocktails? I’m staying! And now I’m in the back of this theater building in Chicago selling this stuff. I have arrived!

Was there a learning curve or does selling come natural to you?
Look: of course I’m good at selling things. I have a daughter.  I’m also a woman. You go to the bar at night and you ain’t got no money, so you raise an eyebrow. There are things I can do with my legs and a pole that’s always good to score me a couple of coins. So, I guess you can say I’ve always been good at selling things. Selling this came natural. Tupperware is the greatest crap on the planet! Who doesn’t need great food storage solutions?
People would come to a party and would have fun, so they would host a party. Who doesn’t want to have fun? Unless you’re retarded. Or a sadist who just wants to spank people.

You were the top-selling associate in 2008. What was the reaction of your fellow sales ladies when you attended the annual Jubilee to collect your award?
People raised eyebrows, because I’m so pretty. When I first started selling 10 years ago I did sort of ‘rock the boat,’ because I’m not a traditional Tupperware lady. People are more open and accepting to have fun.   They’re so great and supportive. The company gives so many incentives. I won a trip to Hawaii this year. True story. True. Story. It’s a great company to work for. They support women and women’s issues. At the end of the day, yes, we sell plastic bowls. It is so much more than just that, though. They’ve been in business for 65 years.  A Tupperware party is an opportunity to get together and really celebrate and have fun. 65 years and the party is still going on.

Before you started selling a Tupperware party, did you ever attend one?
You know, I never did. The first one I went to was the one where I went to learn how to start selling it. My mama had parties and owned Tupperware.  When I first started selling it, I would see things and think ‘That’s Tupperware? I remember having that when I was a youngin’.” Tupperware still sells that same ladle she used to beat me with. I used to suck on those popcicle makers long after the popcicle was gone. I would suck and suck in preparation for what would come later. Which, it turns out, is selling Tupperware. Who knew?

Is your mama still with us?
It depends on the day. We keep trying to unplug her, but she lives and lives. She’s got a fightin’ spirit. She don’t that much anymore. She drools a lot, though. She’s an angel. We brought her over for Christmas and plugged her in. She perked right up. We told her we had some Christmas cookies for her. Certain types of cookies make her drool more. Not even eating the cookie, just the mention of the cookie.

Is she aware of all your Tupperware success?
I think she is. I say things like ‘Hey, mama: I’m not a whore!’ and she brightens right up. Family, neighbors and church folk are all aware. They’re always coming over asking me for food storage solutions. Just the other day the Reverend came over and asked if I had something for storing his cocaine and I found him somethin’. It’s sweet. I have food storage solutions for everybody.

What’s the best selling product right now?
The company’s best seller is the thing called ‘the quick shake’ ($13).

 It’s a little shaker thing that you grandma might have used to make gravy. Of course, in my grandma’s case ‘make gravy’ meant ‘hit the hooch and she would pour it into the shaker and suck it down. She’d be drunk and say ‘come on, let’s celebrate Thanksgiving.’ Other people use them for their meal replacement shakes. The ‘homosectionals’ use it to make cocktails.

For me, I sell the most can openers ($32).

 Oh, my Lord and Savior. It’s the best can opener in the world. When you come to the party and see it, your jaw will open. It takes the lid off the can with no sharp edges. And there is this clamp on the side that comes down like a little bird sayin’ ‘I wanna take this lid off,’ so you don’t even have to touch the lid. It’s amazing. And if you have arthritis, palsy or you’re doing too much of anything else that makes your hand hurt, you still can use this can opener. It’s my favorite product in the whole wide world. This can opener is better than some of the men I’ve dated.

Another thing is the FlatOut! Bowls ($17 for two-piece set) that fold down for easy storage. 

And you can’t forget my Season-Serve meat marinader ($20).

 During the warm summer months when you go outside and want to stick your meat in something, use the meat marinader. Your meat is going to come out so juicy and tender, why your friends are all gonna jump on your meat.

What Tupperware product do you personally use the most in your own kitchen?
I use the can opener a lot, but because I’m a big party gal, I like to give parties and I love to have people over to the doublewide trailer. So, I use the Chip ‘N Dip bowl ($39.50). It has the compartments for you to put stuff in. You can put your chips in the big bowl and your dip goes into the smaller bowl that clips onto the side. Who is the genius that comes up with this stuff? It’s amazing. You throw both in the dishwasher and your party clean up is done. And it’s also color-coordinated, so the ‘homosectionals’ love it. They always love things that match in color.

Who is the audience for your Tupperware party?
A lot of people think it’s only for ladies, but it’s not true. Sure, the little old ladies who have been goin’ to Tupperware parties for forever and know the brand always show up. They can’t get enough of the food storage solutions. Young gals who want to have fun and have a party also come. Party is right in the title, after all. You want to come to my ‘Party’ and get a little raucous with your girlfriends, you can. Men come, too. It’s a fun date-night thing. The Red Hats always come ‘cause they’re old and not busy. The ‘homosectionals’ also like to come, ‘cause they all love the party stuff. They love to have people over and entertain. And they seem to buy anything sparkly to serve their fancy things out of. So, I guess my ‘Party’ is for everybody. Except kids. They’re sticky. I have nice things and I don’t want ‘em sticky at the end of the party. If you’re thinkin’ about bringing the kids, don’t. They’re just gonna whine, complain and get my nice Tupperware sticky.

Why has Tupperware endured?
When you go to the grocery story and buy disposable crap, you don’t really think about it. You have a relationship with Tupperware. When you use it, you remember the party, you remember the host and you remember the fun you had. That’s why you see so many ladies who scrawl their names on the bottom of their Tupperware. They don’t want nobody stealin’ their Tupperware. It would be like stealin’ their man. You form that kind of connection to it. It means something more to you. And because it lasts forever, you will always remember.

Last word on Tupperware?
Freshness! Tupperware is gonna keep all your crap fresh. And then the second-to-last word is ‘savings,’ ‘cause you won’t be buying stuff only to throw it away ‘cause it went bad. Third-to-last-word is ‘lifetime warranty.’ Ok, that’s two words, but if anything breaks we’ll replace it free of charge. This crap is amazing. Amazing!