By Keisha Allisse
Back in the mid-nineties, two networks were launched, the WB and UPN (years later they would merge to form the CW). Their initial lineups were nothing short of exemplary diversity. While other networks (maybe with the exclusion of FOX) used obvious tokenism to add a splash of color to their evening programming, the WB and UPN regularly had shows with predominately African-American casts; some of which were good (Moesha, its spinoff, the Parkers, the Steve Harvey Show) and others (The Wayans Bros, Homeboys in Outer Space)…not so much.
The fledgling networks build their audience (and revenue) on the backs of such shows until they could find and launch a crossover (read: white) success, a series that would catapult them into the bigger leagues garnering bigger advertisers, and hopefully, bigger audiences. For the WB, it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer starring Sarah Michelle Gellar; for UPN, Veronica Mars with Kristen Bell.
The arrival of rave reviews from mainstream critics usually precedes the ushering out of non-white shows, however, the contrary seems to be happening on VH1 where they’ve debuted programs like Fantasia For Real, Let’s Talk About Pep, What Chilli Wants and most recently, Basketball Wives. While the shows aren’t above the usual muckrake that is reality television, they at least offer more diversity within the racial spectrum than their fictional counterparts. For instance, after years of airing on ABC, we have yet to see a non-white Bachelor or Bachelorette; in a few years, VH1 gave us For the Love of Ray J, I Love New York, Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch and the granddaddy of them all: Flavor of Love.
Yes, perhaps thanks for the spike in African-American oriented programming ultimately belongs to he of the gold-toothed, clock wearing visage. The initial installment of Flavor of Love was a ratings hit for VH1 becoming its most watched show ever. And from this series sprang all the other so called celebreality shows we’ve come to ‘love’: I Love New York and its spinoffs, New York goes to Hollywood and New York goes to Work, Rock of Love, Real Chance at Love, Daisy of Love, et al.
The popularity of Flavor of Love ignited the desire to duplicate its success, not just in the same genre (romance and matchmaking), but expanding to include sports (the T.O. Show, Football Wives, Basketball Wives), music (Love & Hip-Hop, Brandy & Ray J, the Salt N Pepa Show) and eventually, scripted television (Single Ladies).
Whether or not the boom continues remains to be seen and while reality show quality has historically been dubious in nature, it’s nice to know that black people on VH1 are being given the same opportunities as white folks to make fools of themselves.
By Keisha Allisse
Naomi Campbell has been called many things, but she draws the line at 'chocolate'.
The supermodel's first name was recently used in a Cadbury's ad promoting their Dairy Milk Bliss. The ad actually reads, 'Move over Naomi! There's a new diva in town!' Ms. Campbell took great offense, claiming that the ad was 'insulting and hurtful' and that 'it's upsetting to be described as chocolate, not just for me, but for all black women and black people.'
Well, Ms. Naomi has certainly cast a wide net with that last comment. To claim offense personally is one thing, but to claim it on behalf of a race of people is inexplicable. I will not diminish Ms. Campbell's feelings. While I admit to not understanding how the use of the word 'chocolate' to describe a brown-skinned person is offensive, I recognize that everyone hurts differently. Now, with that disclaimer out of the way, let me say that I really, really dislike the word racism being bandied about like a ball on the court. Racism is an act of aggression against a whole ethnic group; it is not a word to be used lightly or flounced about when our thin skin is scratched.
I remember a little over a year ago, Lindsay Lohan sued E*Trade for $100 million due to an ad aired during the Super Bowl in which a baby named Lindsay was described as a milkaholic. I remembered the ridicule when word about the lawsuit made it to the press. Many argued that her name was not singular enough, like Madonna's or Oprah's, to claim that the ad was about her. Others said that even if the ad was about her, it was protected under the First Amendment as parody. Most assumed the case would be dismissed (it was eventually settled out of court).
The main difference between these two scenarios is color. Lindsay Lohan makes a similar claim with slightly better reasoning (milkaholic while humorous, was not used endearingly in the commercial), but nobody took it seriously. Naomi Campbell takes offense not at the 'diva' comment (see ad at right), but the 'chocolate' comparison? Confusing to say the least.
Should makeup companies change the name of some of their foundations from Caramel, Mocha, Espresso and Honey for fear of impending criticisms? I said I wouldn't be dismissive of Campbell's feelings, but I'm having a hard time comparing being called 'chocolate' to being called 'nigger'; comparing being 'depicted' as a chocolate bar covered in diamonds to being forced to sit in the back of the bus or being denied an education or medical care because of my skin color.
My biggest concern is that such claims of offense is almost like crying wolf; people will become so overexposed, so desensitized to it that upon its hearing, they won't do much more than bat an eyelash. Granted, in her statement, Campbell did not use the word 'racism,' but the connection for me is quite clear.
By Keisha Allisse
The Tony Awards are coming up, June 12…(that sound you hear are a few dozen people clicking away from this page.) For you holdouts, a real treat: Nina Arianda, the breakout star of Born Yesterday, a play which had its original Broadway run back in 1946. The story follows a back dealing businessman, Harry Brock (played with gusto by Jim Belushi) who brings his pretty, but dim girlfriend, Billie (Arianda) with him on a trip to Washington D.C. In an effort to keep Billie from embarrassing him in front of political bigwigs, he hires Paul Verrall (Robert Sean Leonard), a journalist, to wisen her up, but it's Brock who ends up smarting in the end.
I saw the original movie with Judy Holliday in the Billie Dawn role, so to suffice it to say, Ms. Arianda had big shoes to fill (in a Broadway debut performance, no less) and in my mind, weren't likely to fill them. Billie is one of those parts that actors tend to 'play' the originator of the role playing the part rather than innovating the role and bringing something of their own to it. Without question, Arianda is a rare member of the latter group. I couldn't be more pleased to admit how wrong my assumptions were! What a revelation she was! The play loses steam without her, and giving due credit to Belushi who gives his all, Arianda is the true headliner.
In her hands, Billie becomes more than a kept woman, and after her tutoring with Paul, more than an educated woman; she becomes a voice. When Billie talks about bullies taking advantage of others, I got the sense it was not just Billie's words or even writer Garson Kanin's words, but Arianda's as well.
This young actress' great skill was to infuse this character with believability in a way that was touching and empowering. Unfortunately, most of the show isn't as fabulous as Ms. Arianda's performance. Tony winner, Robert Sean Leonard sleepwalks most of the way and Belushi seems to think the key to playing a blowhard is A LOT of yelling, which is true in part, but there is no nuance.
On a side note: this was the first play I attended where applause was showered before an actor set foot on the stage. The set design was stunning and pleasantly caught me off guard. Accoutrements aside, the rest of the cast were alright, the women though were more than alright, giving effort to stand out in smaller parts: Helen, the maid (Jennifer Regan) and Mrs. Hedges (Patricia Hodges). For a short while, in the beginning of the first act, I thought I was listening to an Aaron Sorkin play; rapid fire delivery (but minus the wit or humor). For this, I'm not sure if the culprit is time (the play is over 50 years old) or delivery. Even the best joke will bomb, if not delivered with precision timing. Part of me though is glad they ran through the dialogue quickly, it gave me back some precious time lost in the dull first and third act.
To be fair, I saw the show in previews, when a production works out its kinks and cuts the fat, but it doesn't appear that there's much that can be done save write a few more scenes for Arianda. Maybe instead of Born Yesterday, they should just call it A Star is Born.
By Keisha Allisse
It was a rough past week for the avant garde pop star; her chart topping single, Born This Way, has been criticized since its debut of sounding a little too much like Madonna's Express Yourself. When asked about the similarities by a journalist from British magazine, NME, she responded, '…I swear to you. I am not stupid enough to put out a record and be that moronic. I'm a songwriter..,why would I try to put out a song and think I'm getting one over on everybody? That's retarded.'
The use of the r-word, along with the n-word and c-word, are terms that have long been locked away in the public no-no box. Gaga has since apologized for its use, but I wouldn't hold something like that against her considering that it was said in a rush of anger (who hasn't said something regrettable in a fit of fury?). The real crime? Not recognizing the clear resemblance between her and Madonna's tune. Are you telling me NO ONE in her entourage had the guts to say, 'Hmm…something sounds familiar?'
- Steer-rike one!
The next day, word gets out that the singer would not approve Weird Al Yankovic's parody, Perform This Way. Weird Al decides not to put the song on his forthcoming album and instead releases a lyric video on his youtube channel. Two million plus views later and after an outpouring of support, Gaga's manager admits that he never played the song for the singer and made the decision himself. Apologies all around and the track gets approved. The true crime? Actually it has nothing to do with Weird Al, but rather that heinous album art for Born This Way. Even fans are hoping it's a joke.
The proverbial 'straw that breaks the camel's back'? The Lady's Judas music video, which features the singer as Mary Magdalene and contains lyrics such as, 'Jesus is my virtue/Judas is the demon I cling to' and 'I am beyond repentance/fame hooker, prostitute wench/vomits her mind/but in a cultural sense.' The video was set to premiere on Easter (!) but was pushed back to a May 2 bow on American Idol (due in no small part to the HUGE uproar that ensued once the original date was announced by the press.)
Mashup of 'Express Yourself' and 'Born This Way'
Weird Al's parody, 'Perform This Way'
By Keisha Allisse
When he walked into the audition room back in 2003, there was nary a raised eyebrow or lip curled into judgmental snicker, but when Clay Aiken finished singing 'Always and Forever,' he not only wowed the judges, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson, but the viewing audience who assumed, based on looks, that he was a pale red-headed nerd who lacked enough friends to dissuade him from humiliating himself on national television. What's more, if you look at a clip of his initial tryout, he had the nerve to have confidence! (You're supposed to be really humble, even desperately insecure if you're an average Joe, right?)
We do it all the time; eye someone up and down and figure their looks give us a window to the depth of their talent. Thankfully, shows like American Idol and Britain's Got Talent have dispelled the myth of beauty being a precursor to ability. Aiken's success post show was due in great part to his vocal ability (which after weekly exposure, came across as more Broadway than Pop) and the amazing work of Idol's hair, makeup and wardrobe crew who took his look from drabby geek to heartthrob chic over the course of the season. At the height of his fame, Aiken even had an eponymous fan base, Claymates.
It's likely that without the show, Clay, no matter how talented, might have been relegated to playing small venues locally, never being given a chance to showcase his singing on a larger scale simply because of how he looked. Aiken's example proves that with the right entourage, looks can be inconsequential. Record companies and A&R execs should take notice: pretty singers with paper thin voices can have careers that only go but so far (Britney Spears is an exception, not the rule), but a plain Jane/Joe with a makeover can make more money in the long run. Case in point, Paul Potts and Susan Boyle from Britain's Got Talent. These two have a story that's even more poignant because not only their looks incited bias, but their ages as well.
Paul, at the age of 36, and Susan, at 47, would have been considered wa-a-y over the hill for developmental record contracts, but fate and forte met at the right moment and afforded them monumental success. Teaching another lesson: looks AND age carry way too much precedence in the arts world where neither have much effect on creativity. Would it be interesting to see someone older than Madonna on MTV or Jay-Z on BET? Imagine how much we're missing out on because we figure that anyone over 30 is irrelevant.
It's a good thing that BGT had no age limits and while Potts' rise from cell phone salesman to pop opera sensation is inspiring, and considering his years in amateur productions, well deserved, Boyle's story is truly affecting. Having lived alone since her mother's death, Boyle never married and as she mentioned in her audition, 'never been kissed.' She made a demo and distributed it to record companies without success until that fateful day when she met Simon Cowell (again!), Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden. Like Aiken, she had confidence, which instead of eliciting admiration, was met with eye rolls, until she belted out, 'I Dreamed A Dream.'
Two years later, Boyle has two successful albums including 2009's best-selling album in THE WORLD.
When all of these former contestants, now stars, walked into the room everyone thought, 'punchline'…look who's laughing now.
By Keisha Allisse As I write this article, the show’s producers have just confirmed that the show’s opening has been pushed back until ‘early summer’ removing it from contention for this year’s Tonys, and, even more disappointing, Julie Taymor, the visionary director whose imagination gives the show its distinctive look, has stepped down as director, but ‘remains a part of the creative team.’ BOO! I have never read a review for the musical, but I’ve heard plenty about the show’s accidents, many troubles and piling expenses; two phrases you never want to hear in combination when speaking of a Broadway show: ‘troubled’ and ‘expensive’. Initially, I was worried. How did they intend to set this to music? I shuddered as I imagined orchestral arrangements of the theme music I heard as a kid, watching the Saturday morning cartoon. Dancing Spidey? No way! But lo and behold, I had the chance to see the show the other night and quite simply, it’s fantastic. Hospital stays aside, the show is pure spectacle: part rock, part musical, part stepping competition with heaping doses of Cirque Du Soleil and IMAX big screen flourishes. The music takes a backseat to the all encompassing wonder of the show, which is why purists probably won’t enjoy it. The songs by Bono and the Edge are merely sufficient in weaving the story together lyrically. ‘Rise Above,’ ‘Pull the Trigger,’ including other songs featuring Arachne (played by understudy, America Olivo) are personal faves, but that’s still a low ratio for a musical. The show is narrated by the geek chorus, four teens who collaborate on a dream Spiderman issue. The first half moves well, from the myth of Arachne (the mother of all spiders and therefore, Spiderman), then Peter Parker’s suffering at the hands of bullies and Mary Jane’s abusive home life to Parker’s eventual transition into Spiderman in Norman Osborn’s (soon to be the Green Goblin) laboratory. The aerial acrobatics are jaw dropping. From the opening weaving sequence to the gravity defying battles, it is, without a doubt, the coolest part of the show. The maneuvers to my eye (albeit untrained), looked incredible and seamless. And for this, credit must go to Daniel Ezralow who choreographed everything from what’s on the ground to what’s in the air. The second half of the show is more of a mindbender and definitely has too much crammed into it; Peter, pushed by the stress of trying to balance a double life, quits being Spiderman. This incenses Arachne who doesn’t take kindly to her gift being tossed aside. What commences after is a siege of terror that ends in an anticlimactic battle between good and evil. My only other issue, other than the time sucking latter part of the show, is the anachronistic setting of the Daily Bugle. Is this contemporary or period? Every other scene makes me believe we're looking at 2011, but step into the offices of the local paper and suddenly we’re thrust back into the days of dames tapping away on typewriters, irksome, but still, a part not greater than the whole. Truly this is the first musical I’ve experienced where everything matters; the scenic design (George Tsypin) that creates a life sized, pop up comic book set which masterfully lifts and shifts, playing with perspective, creating depth in a 2D world; the colorful costumes (Eiko Ishioka) and the expressive masks (Julie Taymor) to the screen projections (Kyle Cooper) which brighten the stage with live and animated sequences. It all comes together in an appropriately over the top way. Most musicals are about the songs, story, maybe the dancing, but this ain’t your grandma’s musical. It’s a hyperbolic musical collage, one you have to see to believe.
By Keisha Allisse
As I write this article, the show’s producers have just confirmed that the show’s opening has been pushed back until ‘early summer’ removing it from contention for this year’s Tonys, and, even more disappointing, Julie Taymor, the visionary director whose imagination gives the show its distinctive look, has stepped down as director, but ‘remains a part of the creative team.’ BOO!
I have never read a review for the musical, but I’ve heard plenty about the show’s accidents, many troubles and piling expenses; two phrases you never want to hear in combination when speaking of a Broadway show: ‘troubled’ and ‘expensive’.
Initially, I was worried. How did they intend to set this to music? I shuddered as I imagined orchestral arrangements of the theme music I heard as a kid, watching the Saturday morning cartoon. Dancing Spidey? No way! But lo and behold, I had the chance to see the show the other night and quite simply, it’s fantastic.
Hospital stays aside, the show is pure spectacle: part rock, part musical, part stepping competition with heaping doses of Cirque Du Soleil and IMAX big screen flourishes. The music takes a backseat to the all encompassing wonder of the show, which is why purists probably won’t enjoy it. The songs by Bono and the Edge are merely sufficient in weaving the story together lyrically. ‘Rise Above,’ ‘Pull the Trigger,’ including other songs featuring Arachne (played by understudy, America Olivo) are personal faves, but that’s still a low ratio for a musical.
The show is narrated by the geek chorus, four teens who collaborate on a dream Spiderman issue. The first half moves well, from the myth of Arachne (the mother of all spiders and therefore, Spiderman), then Peter Parker’s suffering at the hands of bullies and Mary Jane’s abusive home life to Parker’s eventual transition into Spiderman in Norman Osborn’s (soon to be the Green Goblin) laboratory.
The aerial acrobatics are jaw dropping. From the opening weaving sequence to the gravity defying battles, it is, without a doubt, the coolest part of the show. The maneuvers to my eye (albeit untrained), looked incredible and seamless. And for this, credit must go to Daniel Ezralow who choreographed everything from what’s on the ground to what’s in the air.
The second half of the show is more of a mindbender and definitely has too much crammed into it; Peter, pushed by the stress of trying to balance a double life, quits being Spiderman. This incenses Arachne who doesn’t take kindly to her gift being tossed aside. What commences after is a siege of terror that ends in an anticlimactic battle between good and evil.
My only other issue, other than the time sucking latter part of the show, is the anachronistic setting of the Daily Bugle. Is this contemporary or period? Every other scene makes me believe we're looking at 2011, but step into the offices of the local paper and suddenly we’re thrust back into the days of dames tapping away on typewriters, irksome, but still, a part not greater than the whole.
Truly this is the first musical I’ve experienced where everything matters; the scenic design (George Tsypin) that creates a life sized, pop up comic book set which masterfully lifts and shifts, playing with perspective, creating depth in a 2D world; the colorful costumes (Eiko Ishioka) and the expressive masks (Julie Taymor) to the screen projections (Kyle Cooper) which brighten the stage with live and animated sequences. It all comes together in an appropriately over the top way.
Most musicals are about the songs, story, maybe the dancing, but this ain’t your grandma’s musical. It’s a hyperbolic musical collage, one you have to see to believe.
By Keisha Allisse
So the queen of all media drops the mother load with her first single, ‘Jam’. Earlier this year, Kim K released pictures of herself from the music video, looking all ghetto fab’d up: aviators on and hair in beaded corn rows. One could only hope that she sounded as cool as she looked. During the world premiere on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, however, it took seconds to realize that the song wouldn’t live up to my worst expectations.
She sounds bored and monotonous on the autotuned-within-an-inch-of-its-life track. Produced by the Dream, a man who fails to live up to his moniker this time around, but otherwise has an impressive track record which includes hits for Beyonce (‘Single Ladies…’) and Rihanna (‘Umbrella’). If he had sped up the beats a little and encouraged Kardashian to use some (any) inflection in her voice, the song wouldn’t feel an hour long, though it clocks in at just four minutes, seventeen seconds (still long for radio play). Considering this song is for charity, you would think they would have tried harder. Looks doubtful that Kim will best former friend and reality star, Paris Hilton’s debut single, ‘Stars Are Blind’ which peaked on the Hot 100 at #18.
Contrast this steaming pile with Willow Smith, Jada and Will’s daughter, who has put out two solid singles, the most recent being ‘21st Century Girl’ preceded by her Top 20 hit, ‘Whip My Hair.’ Listening to her sing, it’s hard to believe the young vocalist has yet to hit her teens. If she’s this good at ten, what’s twenty going to sound like? Perhaps the Divine Miss Kim could learn a thing or four from a girl a third her age with twice the bravado.
Decide for yourself.
Kim Kardashian’s ‘Jam’
Willow Smith’s ‘21st Century Girl’
Willow Smith’s ‘21st Century Girl’
0:00 - The show begins with a run through of the Best Picture contenders set to a frenetic in the Hall of the Mountain King (perhaps a subtle allusion to the final award.)
0:02 – Inception parody (with a cameo by the consistently funny Alec Baldwin), then the hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco drop into scenes from the Social Network, the Fighter, True Grit (Morgan Freeman makes an appearance as narrator), the King’s Speech, Black Swan and Back to the Future.
0:07 – I’m hoping the hosts don’t stink up the joint the minute they open their mouths.
0:08 – Anne’s enthusiasm is already getting on my nerves and who told James to skip the makeup?
0:10 – Franco’s grandma sees ‘Marky Mark’!
0:15 – 1st Oscar is awarded (Art Direction, Alice in Wonderland). I can’t stand seeing two recipients with one winner talking incessantly while the other’s eyes beg for the remaining 13 seconds of mic time.
0:21 – Kirk Douglas milks the presentation of Best Supporting Actress for all it’s worth, ya know?
0:27 – Annoyingly false surprise from Melissa Leo who’s won every award leading up to tonight, yet was stunned (STUNNED!) to win again.
0:35 – The first time the ominous orchestra strings begin to play over someone’s speech.
0:42 – Did Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem intend to dress alike?
0:48 – Christopher Nolan genius is again overlooked by the Academy, but winner David Seidler is charmingly funny, mentioning that he is the oldest person to win the award.
0:54 – Anne sings (well)!
0:55 – James struts out in a Marilyn Monroe get up. It’s the funniest thing he does all night.
0:56 – Why is Russell Brand here?
1:04 – Did Christian Bale forget his wife’s name?
1:16 – The sound…SOUND…
1:24 – Marisa Tomei looks FABULOUS!
1:25 – Cate Blanchett looks like she’s wearing a bejeweled picture frame on her chest that looks like it was made from infected wood.
1:29 – Worst speech of the night: Colleen Atwood (Costume Design) who reads every…single…word of her speech.
1:31 – Best Movie Song ever? Eminem? Three Six Mafia? Someone’s trying too hard to be relevant to the under 30 set.
1:32 – President Barack Obama gets in on the fun; Kevin Spacey sings (on key).
1:45 – Best Speech: Luke Matheny (Live Action, Short) who mentioned that he should’ve gotten a haircut and thanked his Mom for providing craft services.
1:47 – Hilarious auto-tuned send up of Harry Potter, Toy Story 3, The Social Network and Twilight.
1:49 – Oprah’s upper half of her dress makes it look like her chest is barely being contained properly or comfortably.
1:52 – ‘Three years after a horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail and that’s wrong!’ (I have to see Inside Job.)
1:59 – Bob Hope’s jokes are still funny almost sixty years later.
2:01 – Jude Law plays straight man to Robert Downey Jr.’s arrogant movie star. Funny, quick and snappy.
2:11 – Jennifer Hudson looks FABULOUS!
2:14 – Gwyneth Paltrow sings (nervously). She should just drop an album. This is her third award show appearance where she’s taken to the mic.
2:22 – The best voice on earth, Celine Dion, sings during the Memoriam montage and mercifully keeps people from applauding their favorite dead person.
2:25 – Halle Berry delivers, straight faced, the blandest reference to racism, ‘…that was a different time in Hollywood.’
2:27 – ‘It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.’
2:33 – Doesn’t Tom Hopper look like a younger James Cameron?
2:42 – Jeff Bridges is forced to give sycophantic introductions for each of the Best Actress nominees.
2:45 – Michelle Williams looks FABULOUS!
2:46 – Natalie Portman wins. I liked her Golden Globes speech better.
2:50 – Sandra Bullock is forced to give sycophantic introductions for each of the Best Actor nominees, but manages to inject playful humor.
2:55 – Colin Firth wins and I wished I’d seen the dance moves ‘stirring within his upper abdominals.’
3:00 – Steven Spielberg manages to compliment the eventual Best Picture winner (The King’s Speech) and losers in one sentence.
3:04 – Students from Staten Island, NY’s PS 22 close the show singing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ As a native New Yorker it warms the heart.
By Keisha Allisse
If you’re like me and weren’t emotionally involved in last night’s Super Bowl, you might have had a little more fun watching the 30-second bits than the three hour game. My take on the best (and worst) entertainment under a minute:
Doritos: Great cringe-worthy fun. Decidedly the best of the company’s multiple Super Bowl entries.
Pepsi Max: Physical humor can be funny, but this spot which featured an abusive girlfriend punishing her boyfriend into healthy eating made me throw the penalty flag. And as a black woman, nothing’s more tiring that seeing the ‘angry’ caricature being trotted out on the most watched show of the year.
Lipton Brisk Iced Tea: The first of two appearances by Eminem (the commercials’ MVP, if you will). In this one, a Claymation version of the rapper glides through a whirling dervish of a set, claiming that he doesn’t do commercials, but this one makes you glad he did.
Bridgestone: Any office drone’s nightmare: an employee sends an e-mail to a colleague only to be informed that he hit ‘reply all’. What results is what any person would do in the same situation…if they could do that in the same situation.
Motorolaintroduces their new tablet with an Orwellian inspired love story, taking their cues from the groundbreaking Apple commercial from 1984 (the year and the book.)
Super 8: the only movie trailer that made me sit up and watch. Steven Spielberg. J.J. Abrams. Nuff said.
Sealy Posturepedic: the sexiest commercial from the Super Bowl (sorry, Kim Kardashian) goes to show that you don’t need a whole lot of skin or suggestion to make your point (with nice vocals from Carmen McRae.)
Audi: what would happen if inmates broke out of Club Fed?
Groupon: I’m not sure this commercial strikes the right chord. Imagine if instead of Tibetans, they talked about how hungry Ethiopian children are, but thank God we get to eat Ethiopian cuisine at discount? Not offensive, just not funny. And what’s Timothy Hutton doing there?
Stella Artois: Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody plays a French torch singer…why?
Chrysler gives an engrossing shout out to Detroit with an assist from hometown favorite, Eminem. The car maker envisions the city as a Phoenix rising from the ashes with fury and fire. Very cool.
Verizon: The ‘can you hear me now’ guy finally answers his own question.
By Keisha Allisse
Wonderfully self-aware, pop-referential and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, RuPaul’s Drag Race arrived on Logo TV for its third season. Now all you naysayers reaching for your Bible to quote Leviticus can unclench. The show is less about being gay (although that is a reality not hidden) and more about the celebration of a transformative art which happens to be practiced predominately by gay men.
RuPaul, arguably the most mainstream drag queen stateside, ushers in a cast of superstar wannabees. As host, Ru is one part Tim Gunn; in the first half of the show, he plays mentor, administering challenges and issuing critiques; and in the second half, he’s the love child of Iman and Carrie Bradshaw, with a fabulous runway entrance, over the top costumes and pointed, pun-y one liners. He is joined on the judging panel by Santino Rice (he of Project Runway fame) and former sidekick from his talk show days, Michelle Visage along with a rotating lineup of celebrity guests (Lily Tomlin, Vanessa Williams, et al).
Truly, the commentary on the main stage is the highlight of the runway presentation, though the humor bleeds blue at times, it’s clear that RuPaul has a handle on pop culture and fashion as he capably culls from different sources in his observations. He knows his stuff and he ain’t afraid to show it or tell it!
The drag queens this season are a step up from last year, though there are conspicuously few black contestants (the previous seasons two winners were both African and African-American, respectively). This, however, doesn’t prevent the field from being crowded with contenders (Delta Work, Manila Lauzon), an impressive frontrunner, Raja, who once worked onscreen as a makeup artist for America’s Next Top Model, and a fan favorite, Shangela, the first cast off from season two, who returns with some of the best lines and catchphrases (perhaps an after effect of being aware that coming across memorably on reality TV leads to a bigger payoff at the end.)
This season is also noted for the fact that it includes three full figured queens, a rare feat on any reality show not related to weight loss. Though one, Stacy Layne Matthews, is clearly obese, his transformation is one of the more believable, fishy (slang in drag for ‘looking real’) interpretations. As a matter of fact, if you like the kind of drag that pushes the illusion, then Manila, Mariah, Stacy and Delta might make you break your neck on the double take.
For those who don’t let assumptions get in the way, the show is a lot of fun. The liberal use of the word ‘bitch’ and pronoun ‘she’ amongst men does arch the eyebrows, but I get the fact that, as a viewer, this is a different world I’ve been transported to and I’m not clicking my heels until the finale airs.
RuPaul’s Drag Race airs on Logo, Mondays @ 10pm.