December 06, 2006

She's A Little Bit Egotistical Given that I've gone here before, it's safe to say that after revisiting the entire season of the completed Fox vehicle Celebrity Duets, my passion has only grown exponentially. The show, a mix of American Idol and Celebrity Fit Club (minus the cellulite, but with an equally present need for attention from everyone involved, no matter what the context or consequence) played like a Las Vegas take on live karaoke sprinkled with D-list "competitors" and an equally distributed number of legendary artists (Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Patti LaBelle), forgettable Top 40 mainstays (Jeffrey Osbourne, Michelle Williams, Richard Marx), and washed-up has-beens (Taylor Dayne, Macy Gray, Kenny Loggins, many of whose botched cosmetic surgeries come off sadder than they do ugly, although they're pretty damn nasty). In the tradition of American Idol and its endless number of copycat programs, Celebrity Duets employs a panel of judges comprised of Marie Osmond, Little Richard, and record producer David Foster. With Foster poised as the "tough critic," it's difficult to categorize the pre-calculated position into which Osmond and Little Richard are meant to fall, as the former appears like a hyperactive, condescending middle school music teacher, and the latter acts like/is a delirious trannie. Viewers might point to crowd favorites Hal Sparks or Lucy Lawless, or even a demented Little Richard, as the most enjoyable elements of Celebrity Duets. I, on the other hand, cannot take my eyes off Marie Osmond. Osmond, she of the toothy, Mormon-raised, ambiguously incestuous American Sweetheart variety, brings a personality to Celebrity Duets that rivals the fictional Valerie Cherish played with deft insincerity by Lisa Kudrow on The Comeback. It is painfully obvious when the camera pans to Osmond that she is not, in fact, as nice as she thinks she appears. Constantly breaking into forced fits of laughter -- but reverting to genuine, wincing seriousness at the drop of a hat -- Osmond turns to her inner sensei in order to provide "constructive criticism" to non-singing assclowns like Cheech Marin and Lea Thompson [who, by the way, pegs herself as "the mom" whose reason for doing the show is not to get some post-Caroline In The City attention but rather to appease her daughters...riiiight]. Touching her two index fingers together in the shape of a rooftop, Osmond illustrates to the contestants that an actual "duet" is a musical dialogue where two people "come together," something she has done countless times with performers like Kris Kristofferson and Randy Travis (an item she makes sure to announce later, as you shall witness). Osmond's position becomes two-fold in that, besides displaying an egomanical need to repeatedly announce her healthy resume (at one point even proclaiming to the audience, who boo her after she criticizes Alfonso Robiero's improvised dancing, that she's "done this before, people!"), she's outright MEAN. She's clearly self-absorbed, and so motivated to jumpstart her dead career that she stops mid-sentence to profess the brilliance of Celebrity Duets in declaring that "variety [shows are] back!" resulting in a thinly-veiled celebration/advertisement of the fact that she's landed a job not involving Utah-based fundraisers for cats with bronchitis. Osmond is a poor actress and her performance as a knowledgeable expert fails miserably, as she comes off more like the teacher widely despised for her poorly executed "warm" facade that made her impossible grading system sting every time an assignment was given (which, in the end, likely bit her in the ass after she received nary a greeting card when school let out for summer). Plus, the outfit's more or less a dead giveaway that Osmond shops at Chico's and therefore considers herself "fashion forward." (I know, I know, Celebrity Duets probably employs a wardrobe department, but - come on - if you were Marie Osmond, you know you would've been all, "What is this shit, a leftover from the stage version of The Little Mermaid?") The following is a clip of Marie providing feedback to Lea Thompson after she sings a country ballad with Randy Travis. How many douchebaggy things can Marie fit into thirty seconds? See for yourself: "Lea, you look great!" = "Your nonexistant ability to sing sounded like a dying hyena if that hyena had pitch problems." "I have to high five you because harmony is not easy." = "Stay the fuck away from harmony, you talentless embodiment of all things stale." "That's really tough, first time out." = "No, seriously, don't try harmony. You blow. Hard. Like Dizzy Gillespie hard." "I'd love to see you do some more lead." = "Next time, just stand there and let Anita Pointer do her thing. Smile and look marginally pretty." "You sound great. You gave it a great shot." = "You sounded awful. Nice try, Caroline, but I'd stick to hosting blooper specials for Animal Planet if I were you." "I've sung with Randy [Travis, and] he is not easy to sing with!" = "What happened to me?" "He's low, that's right." = "He's low, that's right." One of the most delightful moments throughout all of Celebrity Duets is when host Wayne Brady - continuing his reign as the Ultimate Douchebag - actually pretends to suddenly realize they're live on air. Naturally, he's mid-song when this happens, and while these screen grabs could survive on their own as a showcase of repugnant Hollywood ego, the scale gets tipped when Brady attempts to seduce Marie Osmond into their own duet. (A CELEBRITY DUET?? With host and judge? Get the mop - my brain is about to explode!) But live TV ain't so nice to Marie, after all, when she realizes after trying to hit one note that the song is, sadly, out of her range! Clearly, in Marie's head, this situation poses what could very well be a clear threat of MAJOR humiliation. How does she salvage the situation? As expected, she laughs uncontrollably (visibly frustrated, of course) and repeats several times that the song isn't in her range, even promising Wayne that if the song were, in fact, in her range, she'd be game, illustrated by her grabbing the microphone from Brady after the applause dies down to hammer the point into the ground. (Even better is that the scene follows with David Foster, the producer, getting up from his chair to "conduct" the orchestra onstage despite the fact that they're probably not following the directions of a self-appointed maestro seated beyond the stage. Don't worry, David, we're sure your dick is huge. ...And, ironically enough, Little Richard appears catatonic and/or blind throughout the entire ordeal.) There's plenty more to say about Marie Osmond. Despite the fact that I've reached my conclusions about her through the behavior she displays on national television, nothing could sway my beliefs about the lady. She is clearly an attention-starved, self-absorbed witch. More over, the constant smiling and "funky mom" outfits (are leopard print headbands "back," too, Marie?) act like a fun house mirror, inflating her true character: a heinous, hypercritical she-devil. BONUS: Enjoy these stills of Aaron Neville - whose Indian name might be Snarltoothed Frankenstein - dueting with Cheech Marin. Go ahead and try to tell me this isn't pure fucking gold. Also, when Al Jarreau sings a "nu jazz" standard with Cheech Marin, the stars become perfectly aligned. Prepare for a mindbending trip through a heinously bad song, made worse by a Nash Bridges star who isn't Don Johnson: I am so done with Celebrity Duets, I promise (at least, that is, until Celebrity Duets 2 when Levar Burton sings the theme song to Beauty and the Beast with Haylie Duff, at which point I'm TOTALLY back in the game).
Let's Stuff Anne Geddes Into A Pickle Costume And See How She Likes It It's the holiday season, and that means that everybody's shopping! Oooh, what to get, what to get? For Dad? Definitely the new Neil Young album. For Mom? Maybe a gift certificate for a massage. For my sister and my friends, I might as well take advantage of the Threadless sale. And for one particular co-worker of mine - the 25-year-old chick who, oddly enough, acts less like a Manhattan-dwelling production coordinator in television and more like a 47-year-old PTA mom in Rochester - I could cater to my moderate knowledge of her awful cultural taste and buy her one of three things: The Girls Next Door: Season One on DVD, a meal for two at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., or an Anne Geddes calender. Speaking of whom, how can one woman be so artfully horrendous? Sure, the world has seen its share of Thomas Kinkade paintings and Sue Grafton novels, but if anyone holds the title of creating the most vacuous, salaciously commercial "art" this side of Kim Andersen (AWWWWW, they're dressed like adults despite their size and inability to comprehend the concepts of romance and sex!), it's Anne Geddes. The best possible thing to say about Geddes is that she knows her audience, which has afforded her a reliant profit from any product she creates, be it a coffee table book, a day-to-day calender, or a photographic-musical hybrid with Celine Dion. The worst possible thing to say about Anne Geddes, on the other hand, is that there are far too many things to say that you can't choose just one - it's just too hard. Originally adopted almost exclusively by secretaries and nurses, Geddes' popularity has spread far and wide to ...more secretaries, as well as other ladies who find the stuff "cute." Sadly enough, there are, indeed, enough people who have - quite literally - handed over hard-earned money for a soft lens picture of a sleeping infant costumed to look like an zucchini. This blows my mind. As part of the same realm as Precious Moments figurines, Papyrus font, and "Cathy," Geddes' photography takes the consummately cherished - babies (often asleep) - and drowns them in a generically "heartfelt" concept (through costume, color, and lighting). I guess the easiest choice, if asked to choose something atrocious about Anne Geddes, is that her work is highly offensive. Whereas drab inspirational posters hang against off-white walls in the offices of many men across the country (thus its being the natural male equivalent to a baby photographed in a planter), they don't intentionally force an unsuspecting infant into a situation that will undoubtedly result, nine years later, in a long-lasting period of hatred and resentment toward his parents once he finds out that he was, in fact, a "Geddes baby." The pictures are taken - let's face it - in poor taste, and it's no secret that Geddes' subjects didn't necessarily agree to participating because, oh yeah, THEY'RE BABIES. They can't control their bowels yet, but if Annie says to dress up like a canteloupe, Mommy had better be listening. If some lady who looked like Dyan Cannon swallowed by Kathleen Turner asked you to dress like a pea pod and lie on the floor, however, you'd probably say no, right? When my aforementioned co-worker recently changed her desktop from a poster touting the new Mary Poppins revisal on Broadway (again, she's 25) to a picture of several babies peeking out from inside pumpkins (some wearing the top part of the carved vegetable as a hat), no one in the office was left without the feeling one might get if a convicted pedophile moved in next door. I had to take a look around and make sure I was, indeed, working inside a post production house full of excellent [albeit CRAZY] people, and not the nurse's office at my elementary school. Of course, many hints should have told us that her having no problem with staring at an Anne Geddes photo for eight hours a day was only inevitable: her infatuation with our bosses's toddler, her bizarre love for Disney-produced Broadway shows - these were telltale signs. Her tee shirt which reads "University of Rochester: Off Broadway" should have been a red fucking flag. But, like my co-worker, does everyone who takes pleasure at seeing a photo of a baby somehow slipped into an inanimate setting also list on their resume a first job after college as a "child wrangler" for A Christmas Carol on Broadway? Eeeeyikes. Perhaps that's where things start getting really creepy. In the meantime, we've decided that, if we can't find a way to dismember Anne Geddes' digits, our next best option is a small yet resounding one: taping pictures of stillborns to our co-worker's computer screen. ...Well, that or drugging her, forcing her into a giant kiwi costume and taking snapshots, Abu Ghraib style.

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