popular thinking

hopelessly devoted to deconstructing popular culture and conventional wisdom, one blog at a time

David and Chris Walsh, The Walsh Brothers Posted by Picasa


Here is what Judi Brown-Marmel, Levity Entertainment Group partner who signed David and Chris Walsh to her management firm, had to say about the Charlestown brothers who are heading to the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen... (and this weekend, at Jimmy Tingle's place in Davis Square)

"They're exactly what Aspen is looking for -- they've been able to work out their show off the radar."
"They're not contrived in any way."
"They are doing it for the pure comedy."
"They don't sound like anybody else I've ever seen or heard."
"Their career could ultimately take them a million different ways."
"I think it's refreshing."
"It doesn't feel overproduced."

Here is what Rick Jenkins, owner of The Comedy Studio, had to say about the Walshes getting national success...

"It's all a question of them finding the right venue."

Here is what Lainey Schulbaum, half of The Steamy Bohemians, had to say about them...

"I hate them because they're that good."

Here is what I wrote about them in today's Boston Herald.

Here are three videos the Walshes have uploaded online at vSocial.com...
http://www.vsocial.com/video/?d=12589 (Chinatown)
http://www.vsocial.com/video/?d=8665 (Skiing)
http://www.vsocial.com/video/?d=8662 (Swimming)

Make friends with them on MySpace.

Managed to make my way over to Hynes Convention Center on Tuesday for the final day of NACA's National Convention. Didn't see comics Kyle Cease or Kelly MacFarland -- who reminded me about the confab a couple of nights earlier at The Comedy Studio -- but did see plenty of comedians, musicians, magicians and other oddities begging for bookings from college campus activity directors. The strangest thing I found wasn't so much the company that rents out toilets on wheels for "toilet races," although that was strange enough, but seeing three different booths with agencies representing former cast members of MTV's "The Real World." So that's where my story went. Danny and Melinda from the Austin cast seemed friendly and courteous, both to me and to the many college students who wanted to meet them and get photos with them. Crazy to think how much they live off of that show -- 28 speaking appearances lined up just for this month and March. But they told me that going to college campuses isn't about making money. Rather, it's about sharing their experiences from the show with students. Er, um, right.
Melinda: "Ours was different because we had real issues we had to deal with. It wasn't just about who was hooking up with whom or who could drink the most."
Danny: "That's why I do it."
Two rows of booths behind them, fellow cast members Wes and Johanna. Again: Er, um, right.


For those of you who claim to have never watched Lost, this is your chance. ABC is rebroadcasting the two-hour pilot episode tonight. Right now, actually (9 p.m. Eastern). If you have time, click over and watch it. You'll be hooked. Just as we are. In fact, I started watching and got pulled right in all over again myself, even though I've been watching every episode since. It's that good.


Some people believe any PR is good PR. Not the spokesman for Teradyne, an electronics equipment manufacturer with headquarters across the street from the Boston Herald. He doesn't watch 24, but he certainly heard a lot about it Monday night when the Fox show name-dropped his company as the source of the deadly nerve gas! Get the scoop here with my story in today's Herald.


How else to explain the scene that played out during Sunday night's telecast, when Bob Costas took several minutes to interview Jerome Bettis (yes, the Jerome Bettis who just retired from the National Football League) about football and the announcement that Bettis would join NBC's NFL team next fall? No wonder people would rather tune in to American Idol, House, Survivor, Dancing With the Stars, 24, and almost anything else.

Technology -- and an outdated broadcast philosophy -- finally have caught up with NBC's Olympic coverage. We're so used to getting our information now that we'll call up the results online and decide for ourselves whether it's worth tuning in for the tape-delay. But NBC also does itself a disservice by not adapting to the changing results and conditions by showcasing events and people we might actually want to see in primetime. Which makes the alternative -- going online to watch video clips or even watching highlights on other news stations -- enough. Remember back in 1992, when Summer Olympics TV coverage seemed so revolutionary with three different channels providing anything we wanted to see? How did NBC fall behind? Tonight, they're showing me aerial freestyle skiers. Um, why? I'd rather watch curling at this point. At least tomorrow they're promising "wall-to-wall hockey," which should be worth watching.


Couldn't help but notice this New York Times story about NBC asking YouTube to cease and desist sharing video clips from its programs. The obvious angle gets mentioned by Lost Remote and BoingBoing -- the only reason Americans cared about and read about the "Lazy Sunday" video on Saturday Night Live was because so many people were watching and sharing it online via YouTube, and not because anyone actually bothered to watch it live on NBC. The Peacock Network loved all of the free publicity, then decided to try to capitalize on it by posting its videos online, then decided to try to monopolize it by allowing it for sale only.

The more curious point that the NYT story doesn't follow is how VH1 recently has begun uploading many of its own videos on YouTube (I used one highlight clip last week to showcase the Al Roker and Matt Lauer luge stunt). Why is that significant? Because VH1 also is home to "Web Junk 20," a new and growing in popularity TV show that features and ranks viral videos. And because that show is dependent upon Viacom's other property, iFilm.com, which would find itself lacking in new clips if other networks follow NBC's lead. Somehow, methinks the Viacom nets -- which include CBS, UPN, MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central -- will continue allowing folks to post and share video clips. At least for now.

This ultimately could lead to a dilemma much like the one faced by traditional print media on the online platform. Once consumers know they can or could get clips for free, will they ever learn to pay? Preliminary evidence suggests they might pay for full episodes and bonus features via iTunes. But would the masses follow suit?


Read my interview with the leader of the hippest band in hip-dom these days, who launch a tour across North America on Tuesday at Avalon. Note how my chat with Dave Portner (Avey Tare) manages to avoid the words "freak" and "folk" or even "freak-folk." Of course, this posting just mentioned all three. Sorry about that.

Lainey and Nicole are the Steamy Bohemians! Posted by Picasa


Or did you just want to read about the Steamy Bohemians? If so, click here.

The duo's official site is here. Find them on MySpace here.


Lots to cover. So let's get to it...

A review of Steven Wright's performance at Avalon on Tuesday night from "A Funny Kind of Love" benefit with Lenny Clarke and Tony V. Finally met both Lenny Clarke and his brother, Mike, who runs the local Giggles and books other clubs around Boston, and they literally could not have been nicer guys, the both of them.

In the wake of the Entwistle saga, I talked to various therapists and legal counsel about the propensity of spouses to "cheat" online, and what you can do or not do about it.

When novelist Gary Grossman worked at the Boston Herald American, ATEX computers seemed like an advanced idea. So, too, did the notion of an out-of-control media.


Garet Johnson was never going to be the next American Idol. But he made for amusing TV, so producers kept him around, and then taunted him mercilessly at the end with a mocking trailer called Brokenote Mountain. It really seemed a little much. Especially on Valentine's Day. Then after the trailer ended, and with it, Johnson's hopes, he sobbed in the arms of another cowboy. All that was missing was an "I wish I knew how to quit you" quote.

Watch the trailer here.


Go figure. I hit Google News just after 10 p.m. tonight, and the top story is a full transcript of Vice President Dick Cheney's first interview about shooting a guy on a hunting trip. The interview is with Brit Hume of Fox News. No surprise there. The transcript came up on CNN. How do you like them apples?

Comments from Cheney that jumped out for me (you may have your own favorites):

"We also had an ambulance at the ranch, because one always follows me around wherever I go." (Does that answer your concerns about Cheney's health? An ambulance always follows him around!)
"If it's accurate. And this is a complicated story." (No, not really. You shot a guy. It was an accident. See how simple that was?)
"I do think what I've experienced over the years here in Washington is as the media outlets have proliferated, speed has become sort of a driving force, lots of time at the expense of accuracy. And I wanted to make sure we got it as accurate as possible, and I think Katharine was an excellent choice. I don't know who you could get better as the basic source for the story than the witness who saw the whole thing." (Unless you count the guy who did the shooting...who was that again? Oh, right.)
"But it strikes me that the Corpus Christi Caller-Times is just as valid a news outlet as The New York Times is, especially for covering a major story in South Texas." (Again, notice how he considers this a major story only in South Texas, as if having a vice president shoot a guy isn't a big deal outside the county. Not that it wasn't a nice gesture to tip off the local paper, but that's no excuse for failing to fill in the White House press office on the details.)
"We were scheduled to go out again on Sunday and I said I'm not going to go on Sunday, I want to focus on Harry." (How sensitive.)


Ask, and ye shall receive. For at least a month now, I've been arguing in my news pages that if the Olympics really wanted maximum viewership for the craziness that is two-man luge, then they'd need some stunt casting. And today, on Today, we had just that. Matt Lauer and Al Roker donned the duds, hopped on the sled (Roker on top) and went for a ride. Gawker has the play-by-play and slideshow. MSNBC has the full five-minute clip with appropriately inappropriate soundtrack, comments and close-ups. Or, thanks to VH1 and YouTube, you can get the highlights.


Watch The Daily Show report on Vice President Dick Cheney ... shooting a 78-year-old man ... in the face. (thanks, onegoodmove, via yesbutnobutyes)


Would you pay $20,000 for a shirt worn by Jake "not gay, just playing one on camera" Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain? How about two shirts? Well, at least a couple of people would pony up that kind of dough. And no, I'm not pardoning the pun. Bidding continues through Monday via a special eBay charity auction. That's not the most bizarre Oscar-related thing going on in eBay, though. Take a tour with me, why dontcha? Care for a movie poster, "FOLDED-MINT CONDITION"? Note to self: Read fine print before writing fine print.


Vice President Dick Cheney shoots a guy over the weekend, but the Bush Administration calls Britney Spears "irresponsible." I would have something snarky to say right about here, but Defamer beat me to it yesterday.


No, really. Why is media news and navel-gazing on CNN Headline News' Showbiz Tonight? This is the second time in recent memory that I've seen reporters made out to be the story on this show that supposedly is about show bidness. The first time, granted, the Iraqi attack on ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt could be looked at as newsworthy insomuch as a major network had to deal with an anchorman's injury. But trotting out the reporter from Corpus Christi who had Sunday duty and answered the phone? Um, really? This is Showbiz Tonight? The more interesting story is why the White House waited so long to mention, oh, by the way, the vice president shot a guy. This is no slight against Caller-Times reporter Kathryn Garcia. She is very cute, very telegenic. But she shouldn't be on TV for this. She should be turning down cable network news requests for interviews. She shouldn't be doing in-house videos (or should she? at least that's promoting the paper). Kathryn Garcia is not the story. Vice President Dick Cheney, who couldn't shoot straight (cue the 2006 Democratic ads now), is the story. If you do watch Garcia's in-house video, you learn (yet again, if you're already working in the media) how other journalists want you to do their job for them. Reporters from various outlets -- including the Boston Globe (tee hee) -- called Garcia asking for phone numbers. If you're a reporter, there are situations in which you feel fine helping your colleagues. Dick Cheney shooting a guy? Not one of those situations. The Caller-Times video is a little "hey, look at us, rah-rah," but knowing the smaller Scripps-Howard papers as I do, it's understandable how they might want to show that they matter in the larger scheme of things. None of this, however, excuses Showbiz Tonight. None of this is related in any way whatsoever to show biz.


New York magazine has an extensive look at blogging and bloggers and what makes a few stand out from the rest. Interesting reading. Be sure to click over to the various sidebars. Looks as though Popular Thinking definitely falls in the C-list. Then again, nowhere to go but up, up and away!


Need something to do on Tuesday night so you're not left alone in the house, crying yourself to sleep? Oh, just me? Either way, here are some events in Boston/Cambridge/Allston to get you out of the house on Valentine's Night.


My colleague Sarah kindly offered me her extra ticket to the INXS concert on Friday night. Glad I accepted. Almost didn't, though, for reasons unknown -- because standing there in the Wang Theatre, the Aussies reminded me again and again of how many memories they created for people of my generation, from the mid-1980s (Listen Like Thieves) to late-80s (Kick) and into the early 1990s (X). And what a strategically sound choice the band made last year by picking Canadian J.D. Fortune as the new lead singer. Can you believe I came that close to getting the gig? OK, maybe not. (About a year ago, I attended the open call auditions for INXS: Rock Star in Cambridge) Fortune sounds enough like Michael Hutchence to appease the faithful without coming across like a pale imitation. Plus, he is young, possessing an attractive rock star swagger, as well as a slight crazy streak. Fortune may need to work on his banter -- but more likely, he has spent so much time perfecting the old INXS material that he hasn't had time to figure out what to say between songs (sample: "Many good things have come out of Boston ... (dramatic pause) ... Like the 4,000 people in this building!" Huh?). None of this seems to faze the band. In fact, they all grinned from beginning to end, perhaps because they're ecstatic to be performing in front of packed theaters again, and because even if Fortune goes off on a wild and nonsensical tangent, he nevertheless keeps them from getting bored.

As for opener Marty Casey and his band, Lovehammers -- well, he seemed to want to hammer the audience over the head with his derivative alt-rock grungy tunes and his screechy deliveries, not to mention his bird-man flailing about the stage. But the crowd gave him the benefit of the doubt, and cheered toward the end when Casey performed his written-for-TV song, "Trees." But Casey didn't convince anyone that he should've finished better than runner-up for the INXS job. He should consider himself lucky that he gets to play to these crowds. No wonder Epic signed him -- easy money as thousands of folks buy his CDs at the merch booth, just for the chance at a signature (as promised by Casey, shrewdly enough, at the end of his set).

Read Sarah's review here.

On Saturday night, I discovered that Jim Gaffigan is as sincerely pleasant and gracious in person as he was on the phone. Hung out with him in the Comedy Connection's green room before he prepared to take the stage for his first of three sold-out shows Saturday in Boston. Met his childhood buddy, Rob, who now lives in Portland (Maine, not Ore.) and works as an anaethesiologist. Rob had some amusing tales of his own -- should he not tell them onstage, I might have to steal his one story as a bit! Just kidding. Sort of. Alrighty then. Back to Jim Gaffigan. If you haven't seen him perform, go. He'll be performing theaters later this winter/spring -- and in Seattle and Portland (Ore., not Maine), my old friend from Seattle comedy days Duane Goad will open the shows. Or buy Gaffigan's DVD, Beyond the Pale.

Sunday was snow day.


Had a nice long chat with comedian/actor Jim Gaffigan the other day. Our wide-ranging talk lasted more than an hour. Some of it appeared in print today. Much of it did not. And some topics were better left off the record, as they say. Regardless, check out Mr. Gaffigan this weekend at the Comedy Connection in Faneuil Hall Marketplace if you get the chance, and read up on these other gems from our talk below...

Comparing sitcom work to movies, ads and stand-up:
"I like dry comedy stuff. When you get a role in some comedy TV show, it ends up being sitcommy. Which is funny. But it's not like, it's more servicing a joke than a funny situation. When I was on Ed, that was a blast. But That 70s Show, I was just coming in, being the dumb guy, saying my dumb lines, and leaving. When you're doing a serious drama, it's a fun challenge, because there's a greater emphasis on the reality of it."

On the Comedy Central Stand-Up Showdown:
"You really go into stand-up so you can be elected to higher office. I've talked to other comedians. You can't really compare different styles of comedy. It's always flattering when someone says I'm like Brian Regan. I do think we're alike in that we're silly and we talk about mundane things and don't curse all the time...but how do you measure Lewis Black vs. Dane Cook? They're two different types of comedy....I think Dane Cook makes every other comic who's trying to sell a comedy CD that much easier. (Customers), they're not just buying Jack Johnson. They're buying Jack Johnson and Dane Cook, and that's opening doors for us. Dane, he's like a rock star, where I'm more like David Gray."

On being a father of two kids under the age of 2:
"It's like living with an orangutan. It's chaos. Those babies, I love them, but they're constantly going to the bathroom. It's hard work watching my wife do all that work. It's exhausting!"

On MySpace (we're MySpace friends):
"I am totally addicted to MySpace. If you want to waste 12 hours really quick...It's flattering. You get these messages from people, and then you can let people know you're going to be in Boston. And then they say, Hey, I'm friends with you on MySpace...When my special aired, I got literally 300 messages...MySpace is weird because there's (images of) a guy without a shirt on, and then there's a 13-year-old girl who's practically naked. Hey, I'm just trying promote my show!"
There also are lots of crazy MySpace profiles out there.
"They have the Matrix design going on and there are eight videos playing, and I just wanted to see if you were in Boston. They say, What kind of television are you? I'm a flat-screen TV. Or what girl would you be on Full House. You need to know that kind of thing before deciding to be a MySpace friend. That darned Internet has changed everything."

Jim Gaffigan on MySpace


Before the weekend seizes you. Here are some fun and/or interesting events around Boston today, Saturday and Sunday -- although if the snow arrives as a nor'easter as expected Saturday night and into Sunday, you might just want to curl up in a comfy abode. Note to self: Make sure you have a comfy abode. Another note to self: Double-check to make sure I didn't write adobe.


The Opening Ceremonies begin tonight in Italy, via tape-delay here on the Peacock Network. I've got some tips for you to make it through the next two weeks of Olympics talk.


How is someone supposed to decide what to watch on TV when your choices are the Grammys, American Idol, Bones, Lost and Invasion? Ack! Cue the Comcast DVR (or TiVo, if you've got one).

I decided to watch the Grammys and record AI, Lost and Invasion. Bones, we'll catch you on the rerun rebound.

Also decided to blog the Grammys. Instead of clogging up space here, the braintrust in charge of my central nervous system made a command decision: Time for a new blog! You can find the full-on running commentary on tonight's Grammys at The Big Show Blog. Look for future big show recaps there.


The nation's most popular show came to town last fall, and the damage was recorded for your viewing pleasure, tonight at 8 (7 Central/Mountain) on FOX. I'll be on FOX 25 at about 5:22 p.m. to get you up to speed. In the meantime, read this preview I wrote in today's Boston Herald. I'll probably be at Limelight to watch the show.


Why talk to the cast of Brokeback Mountain when you can read an exclusive interview with the head of Chocolate Cake City, the Emerson College comedy troupe responsible for Brokeback to the Future...as first reported in Saturday's Boston Herald, and now here, only on Popular Thinking.

Troupe's spoof of 'Brokeback' takes the Cake
By Sean L. McCarthy
Last week, Emerson College sketch comedy troupe Chocolate Cake City didn't even have a Web site.
Today, the troupe is the latest Internet sensation, thanks to online fans of its mash-up movie trailer parody, "Brokeback to the Future."
"I swear to God, we put up that Web site and this video link two days ago, and I can't believe the response we've gotten," said troupe president Patrick De Nicola on Friday. "It's exploded."
From its debut on Tuesday, to BoingBoing on Wednesday, the parody bounced all over the Net on Thursday -- including YouTube, the new online video sharing site that logged more than 200,000 viewings of the two-minute clip on Thursday. Friday, iFilm.com and CNN both took notice.
"We're on a rush to put up as many other videos as we can, because we want people to know we've done more than just the trailer," De Nicola said.
De Nicola and Jonathan Ade, both Emerson film majors, took the Oscar-nominated film's story of repressed love between two cowboys and applied it to the time-traveling duo of Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd in the Back to the Future trilogy.
"We watched all three movies in one night because we were so excited," De Nicola said. "Then, the next day, we took the movies and put them on Jonathan's computer and edited them from there."
They had plenty of fodder to choose from, especially since the third Back to the Future film takes place in the Old West.
"That's when we said, 'Wow, this could really work,' " he said.
Last month, another parody using Top Gun clips paired Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in "Brokeback Squadron."
Mark Lisanti, Defamer.com editor, wrote Thursday that Brokeback Mountain has spawned a number of parodies that simply "take another homoerotic big-screen pairing, add the wistful, lingering guitar them, add a few meaningful titles, and voila -- instant laughs.
"But then we saw Chocolate Cake City's 'Brokeback to the Future,' and all the others immediately fell away as we realized: This was the one."
De Nicola's response: "We went crazy when we read that."
In its first four years, the 18-member troupe hasn't strayed far from campus. They have a gig Feb. 12 in New York City and two April shows planned in Boston.
"That's what we're really all about this semester is getting our stuff out there, in Boston comedy clubs and elsewhere," he said.


If you're going to spend upward of $2.5 million for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl, don't you want to make sure people remember it longer than 30 seconds? So many of the commercials tonight simply didn't make a mark. Others were outright duds. Some thoughts: The Burger King Whopperettes ad started out ho-hum, but watching the pile-on finale with Brooke Burke on top, not so bad. Diet Pepsi has a hummable song with "Brown & Bubbly," but could've lost Jay Mohr, Diddy and everything else. Ameriquest's ads were funny, but not as funny as last year's. Same for Careerbuilder.com. Sierra Mist also earned a chuckle, simply by having Jim Gaffigan, Michael Ian Black and Kathy Griffin cracking wise.

Look them up online at iFilm or AOL.

The nicest ad? Disney's take showing several members of the Steelers and Seahawks practicing their "I'm going to Disney World" line.

The best of the night? Perhaps FedEx.

UPDATE: I've switched the video from a direct FedEx link to iFilm. Here is another Super Bowl ad most people liked, Bud Light's magic fridge spot.

For more, go to iFilm.


If your only reason to watch tonight’s Super Bowl was to see the ads, don’t bother.
America Online already has six of the $2.5 million, 30-second TV spots online.
As for the rest? Keep checking at ifilm.com, where “they’re essentially available within minutes” of their first airing, said Roger Jackson, iFilm.com’s vice president of content and programming.
Must-see TV no longer needs to be seen on TV anymore - you can see it online.
Did you miss Isaac Mizrahi’s groping of Scarlett Johansson at the Golden Globes? Want to watch Tom Cruise jump on Oprah’s couch again and again?
Click on iFilm.com to see it all.
“We have to be rather circumspect about what we put online,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to be recycling television shows that we don’t have the rights to.”
But if something outrageous or unexpected happens during a show, it’ll get posted online.
When David Letterman verbally sparred with Bill O’Reilly recently on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” both Letterman and O’Reilly had footage available on their sites the next day.
The “Lazy Sunday” video from “Saturday Night Live” became a sensation not because people saw it on TV, but because someone posted the video online at YouTube the next day, where millions more watched it.
Spencer Sloan, the Atlanta-based blogger behind goldenfiddle.com, has uploaded five TV clips to YouTube in the past month.
“After throwing us over 60 years, we’ve finally broken TV and saddled it with TiVo,” Sloan said. “Sites like YouTube and iFilm are just the next logical step in video wrangling, considering we’re now in front of the computer 24 hours a day, anyway.”
Broadcasters are starting to figure that out.
When Jon Stewart went on CNN in 2004 to chastise “Crossfire,” plenty of sites offered the video footage, but not CNN. Cut to December 2005, when CNN launched Pipeline, an on-demand subscription video service with multiple live streams and archival access.
MTV Networks acquired iFilm.com last fall. Last month, it launched “Web Junk 20” on VH1, showcasing 20 outrageous online clips each week.
“When you can link a similar experience across several platforms you get more traction,” said Brian Graden, president of entertainment for MTV Networks. “The audience builds exponentially.”
UPN made news last fall when it put entire episodes of “Everybody Hates Chris” on Google Video for free, “which I think was brilliant,” Graden said. “The more noise you can make, the more it helps television in the short run.”
“Web Junk 20” host Patrice Oneal said he already has seen most of his show’s clips, such as New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin’s recent speech calling for “a chocolate New Orleans.”
“Guys like me, they stay away from the Internet like the plague,” Oneal said. “But then they see this, and they get addicted to it.”

NOTE: I'll have opinions and links for the Super Bowl ads tonight.


The magician has three more performances today, three on Sunday, at the Opera House in Boston.

This is not David Copperfield’s farewell tour.
So why does it sometimes seem as though the master magician has staged his production that way?
“An Intimate Evening of Grand Illusion” began a half-hour late. This was the first of his eight Boston shows, and perhaps it took longer than expected to set up illusions in Copperfield’s new surroundings (he previously had sold out the Wang Theatre).
Even so, the show itself would have to wait until another eight minutes of promotional video clips unspooled, reminding you again and again of Copperfield’s ubiquity in pop culture - from political cartoons to references in Friends and Family Guy.
It’s the kind of montage that precedes either a hackneyed stand-up comic, an infomercial, or a lifetime achievement award.
Copperfield wisely included clips of David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno mocking his “impregnation” trick, since their bits were far funnier and more entertaining than the actual trick.
Halfway through the show, Copperfield introduced another clip package, this time chronicling his past TV stunts and his 11 world records. “It’s a little self-serving,” he acknowledged. A little?
What’s most shocking, though, is that Copperfield doesn’t need to resort to any of those tactics to prove himself to the audience.
Everyone already believes he is the greatest magician working today, and everyone leaves his show amazed by his illusions.
“The Lottery,” in particular, could stand out on its own.
Copperfield predicts lottery numbers produced live by audience members, then makes a classic automobile appear above their heads. It’ll twist the most logical person’s brain into a pretzel.
He still deftly handles the more commonplace tricks.
However, “Reunion,” otherwise known as make a person disappear onstage and reappear in Hawaii to see his estranged father, would have been more impressive if the son in question didn’t mysteriously take his seat across the aisle halfway into the show.
But Copperfield’s finale, in which he makes a group of audience members disappear onstage, then reappear on the balcony, proves yet again that the man knows his stuff.
If only he dropped the self-serving material, then his 90-minute show would be downright magical.


An update to my earlier post. Last night, ABC did show the footage from cameraman Doug Vogt and anchor Bob Woodruff right before their military convoy came under attack in Iraq last weekend.


Watch this clip, then pick up a copy of Saturday's Boston Herald for my exclusive interview with the guys responsible for this mash-up video.


In today's Boston Herald...
The Tribe dares you to sink to their level as they launch an improvised half-hour episodic show tonight called ‘‘Sea Mission: Aquanuts Prime.”
Set in 2050, with NASA now focused on underwater missions after discovering a new race called Aquaticans, a ragtag crew of nine aboard Sea Lab Alpha confronts a different villain each week. Improvised comedy ensues.
Producer Robert Woo and director Patrick French spun the idea off of a past Tribe project called ‘‘Space Mission.”
‘‘It’s like a new frontier, only it’s not new at all,” Woo said.
Woo, French and the cast built an elaborate back story for the show online (www.seamission.tribeboston.com). The crew includes a condescending doctor, a telepathic weapons expert, a superintelligent clam, a half-man/half-Aquatican and a temp. What, no Aquaman?
French: ‘‘Well, we have the talking clam.”
Each episode will be improvised, but without the traditional audience suggestions.
The ad-libbing comes in figuring out how the crew can defeat each week’s villain and save the world. The Tribe’s Andrew Rhodes is the debut villain, but future weeks will find members of ImprovBoston and Improv Asylum battling the Aquanuts.
French: ‘‘It sort of unites all three improv theaters in Boston.”
Woo: ‘‘I wrote a villain’s handbook that I’m giving to each villain. We’ve been practicing this for three months, but each villain will only have one rehearsal with us.”
One villian is a prankster. Another is a bungler.
French: ‘‘That’ll be mixed with over-the-top villains, like part-fish/something.”
Woo said the crew also will be threatened by other underwater creatures. Do you mean the fish are weapons?
Woo: ‘‘Well, the swordfish, obviously.”
French: ‘‘I think if you put your mind to it, you can use any fish as a weapon.”
The crew should triumph in the end, but they won’t have it easy.
French: ‘‘Of course, like ‘Star Trek,’ each week one cast member is going to die during the show.”
Woo: ‘‘He’s in a red shirt.”
They cite ‘‘Trek,” ‘‘SeaQuest DSV,” ‘‘The X-Files” and even ‘‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer” among influences, and had a viewing party of ‘‘The Abyss” the other day.
French: ‘‘They’re making the water safe for the world.”
Woo: ‘‘You know, the more we talk about this, the more ridiculous this sounds.”
Wait. So is this an educational mission?
French: ‘‘If kids want to get educated with completely erroneous information, then this is for them.”
Woo: ‘‘Exactly.”
‘‘Sea Mission: Aquanuts Prime,” 8 p.m. Fridays through March, at The Tribe Theater, 67 Stuart St., Boston. Tickets: $10-$15.

AROUND TOWN: Rudi Macaggi begins a month of acrobatic comedy at Jimmy Tingle’s; Dom Irrera is at the Comedy Connection; Kevin Knox guests at Steve Sweeney’s; Coxen and Johnson counterprogram Super Bowl Sunday at ImprovBoston; on Tuesday, Simon Lovell of off-Broadway’s ‘‘Strange and Unusual Hobbies” takes over the Mystery Lounge at the Comedy Studio.


It's time again to recount the various ways to have fun around Boston this weekend.


I just want my motorcycle. That's the lyric, right? Regardless, this is opening weekend in Boston for The World's Fastest Indian, starring Sir Anthony (Antony if you're Gwynnie) Hopkins. It's a simple story, but very well told, about an old man living out his dream. And it comes at an appropriate time here, not only because Springfield was home to the Indian Motocycle, but also because the Northeast Motorcycle Expo has roared into the World Trade Center in Southie.


As I told Maria Stephanos last night on FOX25, this year's crop of Best Picture nominees is an underachieving bunch. Maria quibbled, but I asked her, "How many people do you know who've actually seen Munich?"
Some things to take away from the full list of nominees...
1. When Steven Spielberg decides to make a weighty movie, the Academy will pay attention.
2. When someone else makes a movie that tries too hard to be important with a capital IMPORTANT, the Academy will feel compelled to pay attention. That's you, Crash.
3. Terrence Howard got recognized as much by his full year of work as much as he got honored for Hustle & Flow -- although the story of a pimp just wanting to make it in show bidness certainly rang true for many in the Academy, I'm sure. Howard had great supporting turns in both Crash and Get Rich or Die Tryin' last year.
4. I said from the moment I walked out of Walk The Line that Reese Witherspoon should get Oscar consideration, but Academy voters tend to like gritty, gender-bending or against-type roles like the one Felicity Huffman turned in for Transamerica, so expect a close vote, and don't be too surprised if that opens the door for one of the other nominees to squeak out the Best Actress win. Don't worry, Charlize Theron will look ravishing on Oscar night regardless.
5. Oscar voters tend to reward actors one year late. That means you, Paul Giamatti.
6. Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of the most amazing actors of my generation.
7. As in many years, the Supporting Actress category is most likely to produce a surprising winner.
8. Several categories had only three nominees, most particular among them, Best Song. Is that a political statement that even Academy voters don't want to sit through five songs on Oscar night?
9. I'll go through all the categories when March 5 approaches, so please come back again.

Here was my report in today's Herald:
“Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote,” “Crash,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and “Munich” — not a blockbuster in the bunch nominated yesterday for Oscar’s Best Picture.
Could the mere honor of being nominated help make one a hit?
“ ‘Capote’ stands the most to gain because it has grossed the least,” said Brandon Gray, who runs BoxOfficeMojo.com.
The movie, starring Best Actor front-runner Philip Seymour Hoffman as writer Truman Capote, has earned only $15 million so far, but it’s only been showing in 348 locations nationwide. It will expand to twice as many screens this weekend.
More moviegoers are likely to see “Brokeback Mountain,” too, which moves to more than 2,000 screens this weekend, from 1,200 two weeks ago.
“I don’t think ‘Brokeback Mountain’ has peaked yet, because it is the Oscar leader,” Gray said. “And it will have an even more aggressive marketing and promotional push, which should take it to $100 million. At this point, it’d be disappointing if ‘Brokeback’ didn’t do $100 million.”
“Crash,” meanwhile, already is out on DVD. “And that’s as good a place to be as the movie theater,” Gray said.
He said Universal made as much on “Ray” from DVD sales as it did at the box office.
Last year’s Best Picture contenders also failed to rally popular support at the box office, earning a collective $205 million before their Oscar nominations. The year’s eventual winner, “Million Dollar Baby,” had only opened in 147 theaters by that point; it earned 91 percent of its eventual $100 million after its nomination.
Three years ago, “Chicago,” earned $64 million before its nomination, another $69 million before the Oscars telecast and $37 million more upon winning.
Some moviegoers want to see all Best Picture contenders before the ceremony, scheduled this year for March 5.
But Gray wishes the Academy would pick movies the public already likes.
“This is just about alienating the public. And 2005, look what happened. A terribly lousy year for movies,” he said. “You put in ‘Batman Begins,’ ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ and ‘Walk the Line,’ especially ‘Walk the Line,’ and then you’d have a race that people actually care about.”

Blockbusters need not apply
This year’s five nominees for the Best Picture Oscar have earned $186,285,204 — just as much as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” the movie that coupled Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Here’s how their box-office earnings compared with the Top 5-grossing movies of 2005...

“Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith,” $380,270,577
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” $286,301,035
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe,” $277,867,308
“War of the Worlds,” $234,280,354
“King Kong,” $213,160,170

“Brokeback Mountain,” $51,024,343
“Capote,” $15,305,837
“Crash,” $53,404,817
“Good Night, and Good Luck,” $25,134,582
“Munich,” $40,647,785

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