Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The end of ESPN?

In Oriole news, Daniel Cabrera manned up last night, going seven strong innings, strking out nine and walking only four, but the O's still fell 3-2 to the Twins to maintain their stranglehold on last place in the American League East.

That, however, was the least distressing information about "sports" I woke up to this morning. I had to check the calendar to make sure April Fool's Day had indeed passed us by.

According to Variety, and apparently with all seriousness, producers Eddie October and Al Herman have snatched up worldwide television rights to something called the Pillow Fight League (purely as a public service, of course, I've included the photo provided in Variety.) In October's "defense," I guess, you can at least call him very honest: "I'm gay, and even I know that girls pillow fighting is sexy," he said.

Well, as a dude who isn't, I can't dispute that basic sentiment, and I can't make any promises that I won't flip by during some commercial breaks if and when this finds a home (and, as the title of this post implies, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this ends up as a "sport" on ESPN.)

I'm not even gonna debate the rather obvious piggishness of this enterprise (but anyone else who wants to can certainly feel free in the comments.) My real beef is this is just one more nail in the coffin of actual sports on television.

You doubt it? I let it pass last month when ESPN agreed to air the Rock Paper Scissors League championship, but it now seems that's where were almost certainly headed. What's next? On a network that already considers cheerleading, dog shows and, for about 10 hours a day, poker all "sports," where does it end? I used to play a pretty mean game of paper football, if they're interested.

Geez. I really did wake up a crank this morning if I can't at least smile a little bit about all this, but I just can't bring myself to do it. Well, maybe a little one. October actually seems to see a correlation between his new venture and the revival of the ERA this year:

"The women in the PFL are empowered," he said.

Welcome back, Roger

In much, much better news, film critic Roger Ebert said he plans a "return to action" at his upcoming Overlooked Film Festival in Illinois later this month as he continues recovering from cancer surgery.

"I'll watch from the audience," he said in a posting Tuesday on his Web site, "I think of the festival as the first step on my return to action. Because I will be under scrutiny there, I'll tell you what to expect: a sick guy, getting better, who still loves the movies and the festival."

Last June, Ebert, who recently celebrated his 40th anniversary as the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, underwent surgery for salivary gland cancer, but about two weeks later, an artery burst in his jaw and kept him hospitalized. It was the start of a series of issues that has prolonged his recovery.

His voice is apparently still weak, but a return to TV is surely imminent, and none too soon. I haven't tuned in since he left, mostly because I simply can't stand that dingbat Richard Roeper (and I can't look at him without feeling sad about Gene Siskel.) Though I don't always agree with him, Ebert always presents solid, well-reasoned and very readable takes on the movies he watches.

For that, I can only offer a hearty welcome back.

28 Months Later?

Credit for this has to be split evenly between and a spy over at Aintitcoolnews.

That great photo above of Robert Carlyle on the run - presumably from something very nasty - in the upcoming "28 Weeks Later" comes from Comingsoon, where you can find more pics from the zombie-flick sequel.

Even better, reported on AICN from a Q&A with Danny Boyle in Australia, is that there are now tentative plans for a third chapter, perhaps to be titled "28 Months Later." Even better than that, Boyle said he enjoyed contributing to the sequel, which is directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and is due out May 11, so much that he's considering a return to the director's chair for the third installment. The end of "28 Weeks Later" will apparently leave room for another chapter.

I'm still skeptical about the sequel working without Boyle in charge, but I love zombies so much that I'm cheering for it to succeed. And a grand zombie trilogy? That news is almost good enough to make me forget that the Orioles are still winless. Almost.


jeremy said...

I can't wait for Roger to return to his chair in the balcony. I'm so tired of Aisha Tyler's freakishly huge thumb (and all the other so-so and so-called critics who have been filling in).

Reel Fanatic said...

I enjoyed Aisha when she was the final host of Talk Soup, Jeremy, and think she is a very funny woman, but I didn't realize they were trying to pass her off as a "critic" ... I can't see any way that would possibly work

J. Marquis said...

I liked "28 Days Later" pretty well but the re-make of "Dawn of the Dead" with Sarah Polley is probably my favorite zombie film.

Reel Fanatic said...

I was convinced that would just be terrible, J. Marquis, so I stayed away from it for a long time .. You, however, are right about it ... I always like Sarah Polley, and the movie is just hilariously good

renee said...

Go Twins! (sorry)

I've really missed Roger Ebert and am so excited that he's working his way back into work. Especially over the Oscar season, I just felt like something was missing.

I actually really liked Aisha Tyler on E&R. I like Richard Roeper more than you do, so I've continued to watch faithfully. She and Richard are obviously very close friends and had a great interaction with each other. And she actually was pretty smart and coherent in her film commentary. To me, it was a lot more fun to watch than some of the guest critics who appeared very uncomfortable on television or didn't quite mesh with Roeper.

Eaglewing said...

I totally agree with you on the downward spiral of sports networks. It'd be TSN here in Canada, but with poker, bowling, and pillow fighting as staples, can it really be called a sports network anymore? And what's worse, I've heard poker and bowling get better ratings than hockey in the States. The world is doomed...

Good news on Ebert working his way back. Whether I agreed or not, I always enjoyed his reviews. His movie insight and knowledge has been missed.

Reel Fanatic said...

No need to apologize for cheering the Twins, Renee ... I've seen them play at the Metrodome several times now, and I always cheer for the small-market teams unless they're playing my Orioles

Hockey in the United States is indeed on its last legs, Eaglewing ... The NHL All Star game was broadcast on some boutique cable channell that used to be called the Outdoor Living Network and specialized in cycling and other fringe sports

Marina said...

I share your worries about "28 Weeks Later" and to be honest, when I read that story I got the feeling that this was a lame trick to get people into the theaters.

Reel Fanatic said...

You may well be right, Marina ... Putting Robert Carlyle in a movie about zombies is enough to get me to the multiplex to give it a chance, though

Divinity said...

Dude, I KNOW that you ain't dissing the televised poker. "Lucky You" is just around the corner! Check out the cameo list. Fan-girls go squee!

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll give the fangirls their Eric Bana fix gladly, Divinity ... I might even go see that one myself