Friday, July 13, 2007

Can Bill Maher be the next Borat? God help us!

Although it pains me to admit it, I've never much cared for Bill Maher.

Now, don't get me wrong. It was a high crime when "Politically Incorrect" was pulled off the air by ABC (as Lorelai Gilmore put it so well, "the show's called 'Politically Incorrect,' what did they expect?")

If memory serves me right, he was fired from that gig for saying the very evil men who flew those planes into the World Trade Center weren't "cowards." Well, that probably wasn't the wisest thing to say, but in an extremely limited way he was probably right, and he paid the price for it.

But my beef was never with Maher's alleged lack of patriotism. I've just never liked the guy because he always thinks he's right about everything and seeks to prove it by being as big a wiseass as possible, and usually shouting to make his point (it's the same reason I can't listen to most talk radio for more than five minutes at a time.)

And that's a shame, because he usually is right. Maher essentially follows a libertarian path, and I would follow him just about anywhere if it wouldn't make me go deaf along the way.

Which, in an admittedly roundabout way, finally brings us to the point of this post. Larry Charles, perhaps seeking his next "Borat"-style hit, has made a documentary in which he follows Maher around the world as he talks to people about God and religion. The film will be distributed by Lionsgate next Spring.

Maher said: "Comedically, the topic of religion is hitting the side of a barn; it's literally hard to miss. This movie will make you laugh so hard you'll pray for it to stop."

Maybe. And for the record, I'm hoping so. Maher's name alone should get this one a wide enough release to reach my little corner of the world.

There is, however, one key difference between Bill Maher and Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat. When "Borat" worked, and it very often did, Cohen just set people up and let them roll to make asses of themselves. I can't imagine Maher will be able to shut up long enough to let anyone he interviews do that.

But, I've been wrong at least once before, and hopefully I will be here too. One thing I'm fairly certain of, though: At least we won't have to watch Maher bed-wrestling with the extremely hairy Ken Davitian.

Sorkin and Spielberg? Yes, please

One man who is clearly more than a little obsessed with God (or more accurately religion) is Aaron Sorkin. His clear hatred of the religious right, and his inability to get through an episode of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" without putting it on clear display, was one big reason that show was such a nobel failure.

When he's able to focus, however, Sorkin is able to write topical dialogue better than just about anyone in the game. I've just started watching "West Wing" again from the beginning, and for a long time it was at least as good as all the hype made it out to be. And before that, his "Sports Night" was a criminally underappreciated comedic gem.

Now, after being burned by NBC with "Studio 60," Sorkin's getting the last laugh. He's just signed with DreamWorks to write three films, the first of which will be "The Trial of the Chicago 7," probably for Steven Spielberg to direct. The saga of the protestors who tried to take down the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago should be a perfect fit for both of them.

And in case you still had doubts that Sorkin leads a charmed (and well-deserved) life, he recently adapted the George Crile book "Charlie Wilson's War" into a serving of December Oscar bait directed by Mike Nichols and starring a certain man you may have heard of named Tom Hanks.

What will Michael Moore do now?

After "Sicko" finishes its run, Michael Moore has hinted to The Advocate that he might just be ready to take on another hot topic: Homophobia in America. Here, courtesy of the always reliable (and very funny), is what he had to say:

"I am not sure what I am going to do for my next film, but I certainly believe that I have no right to tell another couple whether they can or cannot be married. There is nowhere in the four Gospels where Jesus uses the word homosexual, nor the word abortion. The right wing has appropriated this guy. It makes you think, what someone can do in your name a thousand years from now. [Laughs] And they have used him to attack gays and lesbians, when he never said a single word against people who are homosexual."

I'm not gonna touch that last point because, well, I simply don't want to open that can of worms. That's what we have Michael Moore for, and I can only say thank God for that. And he's clearly been concerned about this subject for a long time. At the end of this post is a YouTube clip I uncovered from his often funny "Awful Truth" TV show in which he takes on the idiot Fred Phelps (be warned, this clip is very long and it contains, gasp!, footage of men kissing men and women kissing women; if any of that offends you, please don't watch it.)

And now I'll simply leave you with the very funny (and, of course, snarky) sentiments of whoever it is that does the writing at Iwatchstuff:

Personally, I always thought homophobia was despicable. But I have to admit, the Hairspray posters give me second thoughts.

I definitely couldn't put it better myself. Peace out.


Lorraine said...

"Sports Night" was a terrific show and The Spouse and I could have sworn we were the only people who watched it. Those new projects sound good!

Mercurie said...

Wow. A movie about the Chicago Seven written by Sorkin and possibly directed by Speilberg? It sounds like it was actually a good thing Studio 60 got canned! I must admit to being a fan of Sorkin's since The West Wing (although Sport's Night was his best show, as short lived as it was), so I'm really looking forward to this.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to confess that I didn't tune into Sports Night on its first TV run, so I guess I was among the masses who contributed to its demise .. I got hooked on it when it ran on Comedy Central, and now enjoy watching the reruns whenever I find them

bill said...

Now, after being burned by NBC with "Studio 60," Sorkin's getting the last laugh.

Wasn't NBCs fault the show was sanctomonius, insulting, and unfunny.

Reel Fanatic said...

I have to agree with you there, Bill .. I thought the first three episodes were really good, but then it just went nowhere

segsig said...

bill, uh yeah, nbc screwed S60. This television show will be a case study in network mismanagement in the near future.
Nbc had the worst over-saturating marketing campaign ever created, "the stars are about to collide". They continually (to the bitter end) cut promos to make it look like a comedy. They put it on at 10PM on Mondays, when market research shows the only dramas to do well at 10PM are FORMULAIC; which is why it had better ratings in Central time (funny considering the red/blue supposed divide of the show). The audience has a ton of options to see it at other times, so of course they're not going to see it at 10PM. It was the 2nd most DVR'd show of the year; it was consistently top ten on Itunes; and this doesn't count Amazon or Rewind viewing. The show takes way too much energy and concentration to watch for the first time at 10PM, so noone does, but the fans are there in masses. Then nbc, when the show was getting bad publicity from basicly two sources, a rival network and a rival show it was kicking the ratings crap out of, bailed entirely.

It can never be said the show was canceled because of ratings, these are the end of regular season numbers:
61. Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip NBC 8.5 3.6/9
61. Medium NBC 8.5 3.0/8
83. The Black Donnellys NBC 6.7 2.7/7
87. Scrubs NBC 6.4 3.2/8
95. Friday Night Lights NBC 6.1 2.3/6
102. The Real Wedding Crashers NBC 5.8 2.7/7
102. 30 Rock NBC 5.8 2.7/7

The early problems of complete ineptitude on the part of nbc killed this show and in trying to cover that fact they want the show to have a bad legacy. The grave mistake made by WB/Mr. Sorkin was in letting nbc bid against CBS.

The story the day of its finale were the classy fans of the show that took out an ad in The Hollywood Reporter in support of Studio 60's charity, Tipitina's Foundaton. Hopefully they raise a lot of money, that should be the show's legacy.

Reel Fanatic said...

All the problems you mentioned are certainly valid, segsig .. The hype for this was indeed way beyond the pale, and they never did, until the bitter end, figure out if they should market it as a comedy or a drama