"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 7 June 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run 6.7.01


Hit & Run XXXVII
Aside from the dissemination of party invitations through email, the so-called Digital Revolution definitely hasn't improved any social lives (from the depths of our wallets, those Suck condoms silently mock us).
Five years ago today in Suck.

The Death of the Free continues apace. While companies that ladled on the goodies without bothering to noodle out how they'd be in business tomorrow were first in line at the executioner's block, a host of amateur content providers are finally getting their turn. And while the winnowing of the weblogging ranks is more than welcome and too long in coming — we don't care what you had for breakfast, people, really we don't — it's a shame that the interesting sites, like Tomalak's Realm, have to die, too. Oh, sure, it may sound like the home of a lot of Vulcan fanfic, but the newly-dead TR was indispensable for anybody trying to keep up with the Web without going to the trouble of actually keeping up with the Web. Just as we used to revel in the speedy, no-cost satisfaction whenever an ice cream, pet food or porn craving snuck up on us, it was great getting George-Bush-attention-span briefings on Web-savvy stories without having to stoop to visiting Slashdot. But — and this is a lesson that's bound to sink into our tiny little heads at some point — content is hard, time is valuable and neither love nor money can make the Web matter more than a good night's sleep.

As we ponder life's big questions (Today's topic: What if science could find a way to combine the engagingly breezy humor of Andy Borowitz with the endearingly light comedy stylings of Zev Borow?), one puzzle continues to confront us: Who writes the press notes for Hollywood films? It's doubtful that in the entire history of prosaic sucking up — from Castiglionian courtly sycophancy to The West Wing — a more belly-crawling form of writing has ever been devised. Glaring non-achievements are probed for hints of the miraculous ("For the unique look of Freddy Got Fingered, set designer Cum Laitly turned contemporary style on its ear!"). The deep emotions of non-humans are bared with courage ("The human drama at the center of the story was what really fascinated director Michael Bay, who has won great acclaim as an action director."). The inevitable screwing of the writer masquerades as lightning inspiration ("Although the original script of Gymkata dealt with the plight of California migrant workers, producer Fred Weintraub immediately saw the story's potential as a martial arts/gymnastics adventure."). Here are a few choice exaggerations from the press notes for Evolution a steaming pile of comedy/adventure that will be dumped in a theater near you tomorrow:

Director Ivan Reitman has made comedies about frat houses and haunted houses, boot camp and summer camp, mismatched twins and twin "presidents." However, it has taken him until now to tackle a genre in which he has held an enduring interest...

The humor notwithstanding, the real scientific theories upon which Jakoby had based his original [dramatic] premise remained largely intact...

"It was very collaborative," Tippett remarks...

Jones, who calls Reitman "one of the great comedy directors of all time," is quick to qualify that their inability to slip something past Reitman didn't preclude the director from allowing his cast to stretch creatively...

Despite being involved in the visual effects process from start to finish, Reitman remains astounded by the results...

These are the true first drafts of history, the stuff silver screen dreams and lazy entertainment reporters' deadlines are made of. Look for whole sections of the press notes to show up, without change, in tomorrow's in-depth reviews.

Speaking of which, while we shy from explaining allusions, we received several confused responses to our claim last week that Dan Aykroyd was doing his best work since Soul Man. That mid-90s series, featuring the bloated blues brother as a widowed Episcopal vicar, has vanished with Atlantean speed, banished from both the airwaves and the memory of the American people, who believed that we were referring to the affirmative action-busting C. Thomas Howell vehicle of the same name. Just to update things a bit, though, we must concede that Hollywood has one-upped us: Aykroyd's bit part in Evolution is easily his best work since the speedwalking scene in Dr. Detroit.

Rivaling Dan Aykroyd on the Shocking Return to Fame scale is Mel Brooks, whose resurrection with The Producers' multi-Tony knockout is surely the most inexplicable tragedy since TWA Flight 800. Despite The New Yorker's assurance that the "monster hit" is a "first-rate" effort filled with "high-amperage panache," we're more disturbed than cheered by the continuing phenomenon of beyond-washed-up palookas getting a new lease on life courtesy of Broadway musicals. Blake Edwards, The Who, T.S. Eliot — is there no end of formerly relevant figures who can continue to suck dry the public attention span courtesy of the Broadway musical? What's next? Terence Malick's Badlands onstage? The musical Apocalypse Now? The King of Comedy Live? And then there's always Broadway Danny Rose... on Broadway!

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