Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Kathy Griffin, The Devil

I never thought of myself as a fan of Kathy Griffin. She co-starred on the Brooke Shields show from the 90s called Suddenly Susan that I never watched. As well, she appeared in two Seinfeld episodes as Sally Weaver. Neither episode is among my faves. Apparently, she was in Pulp Fiction but I do not remember her in it at all.

Top 5 Most Memorable Performances from Pulp Fiction
1. Samuel L. Jackson
2. Bruce Willis
3. Ving Rhames
4. John Travolta
5. Eric Stoltz

But as we moved into the 21st century, she suddenly became very funny to me. She has a psuedo reality show called My Life On The D-List which she makes fun of herself struggling to continue to be a name in Hollywood.

Her persona became one where she essentially told it like it was without caring about the Hollywood phoniness. Her show showed her at her best (hosting award shows, going to parties) and her worst (her divorce, the death of her father). For a reality show, it felt honest.

So you are saying to yourself, why am i writing about her? Well, her show My Life On The D-List won Outstanding Reality Show during this past weekend's Emmy Awards.

In her acceptance speech, she said the following.

"A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus. Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now."

Backstage, she still stood by that rather tongue-in-cheek speech by saying, "I hope I offended some people. I didn't want to win the Emmy for nothing."

Well, it worked. The Catholic League is completely enraged by her comments. Catholic League President Bill Donahue has asked TV academy president Dick Askin to denounce Griffin's speech and for Griffin to publicly apologize.

The Catholic League's website has a scathing article about Griffin's comments with a final paragraph that read as follows:

“Finally, while we are pleased to learn that Griffin’s celebrity stock has plummeted as a result of her scripted speech, we also know that there are some very sick people out there who love it every time some bigot takes a shot at Christianity. To wit: the phone calls and messages we’ve received are proof positive of how visceral the hatred is, much of it aimed directly at the Catholic League. No matter, at the end of the day, Griffin lost and we won.”

According to Griffin's publicist, Griffin's reaction was "Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humour?"

The joke is really on all of us because Griffin's comments are really a reference to her latest comedy special Everybody Can Suck It. Meanwhile, her fans have launched a new website called suckitjesus.com which includes a petition to stop the sensoring of Griffin's comments.

All of this should make for an interesting new season of My Life On The D-List. I just hope (nee pray) for the day when certain media and religious groups start realizing that some celebrities are simply using them to further their career and they would carry more weight if they started ignoring comments such as Griffin's this past weekend.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Saturday night was the Pitts

I should also be writing about my Toronto Film Fest experience last night. J-Mac, myself, Jayman and his wife all went to see The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford at the Elgin Theatre. The film stars Brad Pitt and rumours were that he would be at the screening.

As we walked north on Yonge Street to get into the theatre, the street was closed and there were literally thousands of people lined up. Some were just crazed fans, some were real paparazzi, some were lined up to get tickets, some were lined up because they had tickets and some were just trying to find the subway entrance.

If you don't know the Elgin Theatre, it is actually two theatres in one. The main floor is the Elgin Theatre. On the top floor is a smaller theatre called the Winter Garden Theatre.

Even though we were practically next door to the theatre, we were directed to walk east one block, north one block, west one block and south one block just to lineup to get in. Once there, we were directed toward two different lineups, one for people who have VISA gold cards and one for people who don't. Theoretically, the people with cards, would be allowed in first.

As we navigate these two lines, limos are driving up to the theatre

I know we are all to appreciate all the volunteers at the Toronto Film Festival. At every screening I have ever been, there is always a time where you are supposed to applaud all the volunteers. After last night, I really wonder why. Despite the fact that this festival has been going on for over 10 years, they clearly were not ready for the throngs that were there last night.

Top 5 encounters witnessed with TIFF volunteers Saturday night.

1. People leaving the 7 pm showing at the Winter Garden theatre were being let out on Victoria Street and were directed through an alley back on to Yonge Street. As they walked got on Younge Street, a volunteer told them they can't come that way. They crowd said, they were told to come that way so she lets them through. Then another volunteer comes by to stop those same people. I thought a riot was going to start.
2. The volunteer directed us to stay in this one lineup as we had our gold cards while others had to go in the other lineup. However, the couple behind us indicated they "forgot their card". To which the volunteer replied, "you should be alright".
3. While standing in that same lineup, we saw people behind us walk ahead. But they were not coming back! So Jayman and I walked up to see what was going on. First off, the lineup we were in was not really a lineup. It was mostly people standing along a barricade hoping to catch a glimpse of famous actors who really couldn't give two shits whether they were there or not.
4. As we are now standing in front of the theatre, convincing a volunteer that she should let us in...she starts explaining to me that we will be allowed in shortly. She explained she is simply allowing all the VIPs in first. I told her about the two lines we were forced into that clearly have no disbanded and that the volunteers up the street do not know about this change.
She replied those volunteers "don't know anything"...she could see I am about to lose my mind so she quickly added "because it is too noisy and they can't hear anything on the headset.
5. Finally, we are inside and are rushing to get good seats. It appears to be not a problem as everyone who is coming in is still trying to catch a glimpse of Brad or one of the other famous actors. A volunteer sees me and says, "Elgin Theatre? Right up these stairs." I start walking that way when J-Mac stops me. "Where are you going, the Elgin is this way!". To which the volunteer responds, "Elgin? Oh yeah...it IS that way." Shouldn't she know this as she is inside that building????
It turns out there were a number of famous people there...Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck, Casey Affleck, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle. Despite rumours to the contrary....there was no George Clooney.
The movie itself, you ask? Long, longer and longest. Seriously, close to three hours. And seriously, it felt like a Terrence Malick film. Not much action but damn everything looks great. So much so, that Malick should sue. Pitt's performance is one of his best ever but the real revelation is Casey Affleck as Robert Ford. The film is almost more about him than Pitt's portrayel of Jesse James.
The film has the feel of a Ken Burns documentary. And I mean that in the good way. A narrator discusses what occurs with the feel of someone looking back at history as opposed to being a true period piece. However, instead of showing pictures or reading letters from that time, the movie keeps the action going.
Ironically, the film details what fame was like in the late 1800s. The eventual killer of Jesse James (the aforementioned Ford-I am not giving anything away-check out the title of the movie) spent his life being fascinated by both the legend and the actual persona of Jesse James. The film also spends time in the aftermath of James' death and how Ford handled that fame.
If you are looking for a film that shows the hows and whys behind Jesse James...this is not the film for you. It starts just before James' last train robbery and what happens after. If you want the whole Jesse James' story...I recommend the 1939 Tyrone Power film Jesse James.
As I said, the film is long. Funnily enough, the director, when he introduced the film at the festival said, it was "long and slow". Everyone laughed like he was making a joke. After watching it...he was actually warning us.

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