Thursday, June 18, 2009

Freestyle 6/18/09 - Stephen Glass, Joe Buck Live, Conan O'Brien

This is a new feature I want to try out called "JA1 Freestyle." Lately I've had little opinions that don't fit in the confines of a normal review, so - I'll talk about them here. Whenever a topic or topics grab me, I can do a "Freestyle post" and just riff.

Getting into the DVD extras of "Shattered Glass" and reading more of Stephen Glass' story, I'm just really disgusted by him. I gave Hayden Christensen a bit of flak in my review for playing Steve as too naive and odd. In seeing Stephen Glass interviewed on "60 Minutes," he is exactly that guy. To this day, far removed from the scandal, and admitting to everything, he's playing the wounded. He unflappably told Steve Kroft things he made up, and sounded as if he was owing to something bigger like a mental disorder. Whatever the case, he makes an average reader question journalism, which is a shame. Even my professor admitted to cooking a quote in his younger years. And I can admit to fudging a few words to get the quotes sounding like I want them to for my story.

It reminded me of being "behind the scenes" at a restaurant, working in the kitchen for three years. Little things go on that are not exactly health violations, but not the best for the customer anyway. For example, slicing a hard boiled egg for a salad, putting it on the plate, finding the customer doesn't want it, and cleaning up the evidence to keep it aside for use later. How much money was saved there? My colleagues, and workers from other restaurants, would swap stories like this. It's a parallel to Glass, because, we trust things in life to be on the up-and-up. Ever since hearing a few stories from the restaurant game, and working there myself, I know these little "slip-ups" are just part of the job. I should expect them at any other restaurant, chain or otherwise.

Thus, do I now expect every journalist to bring me the best-sounding version of the truth instead of just using their eyes and ears? I hope not, but all of this gives me pause.

"Joe Buck Live" premiered on HBO, and the biggest news was the appearance of Artie Lange. Artie's been Howard Stern's radio sidekick for the better part of 8 years. Watching the infamous post-show web-clip, it's clear Artie was one of the better things going on for that program. I like Jason Sudeikis of "Saturday Night Live," and I like Paul Rudd - who shared the stage with Lange on the premiere broadcast. But they were resigned to stories about high school, as Joe Buck uncomfortably tried to ignore Artie's R-rated act. Artie was simply filling in a void. Jason and Paul were not working as hard as he was to make the show interesting. Artie said as much on the Stern show this week, saying he would have never went on such a tirade had Rudd and Sudeikis been doing comedy material.

Artie's the consummate talk show guest. He can tell great stories and ad-lib with the best of them. A lot of people are taking his appearance the wrong way. He did not set out to tear down Joe Buck. He merely went the extra mile to make it a good show when the show as planned wasn't getting there. I found it hilarious. You don't book Artie on HBO and not expect cursing and the like. Sure it was awkward, but it was a better awkward than watching Joe try to have a "legitimate" last segment.

I only got to see "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" a couple of times during its first week.
The set is attractive, but not particularly inviting in my opinion. It feels too open in the guest area. The first show was so-so. I was glad to see Conan back, basking in his 11:30 glory. The bits weren't bonafide home runs given all the prep time, and Will Ferrell's appearance was awkward, but it gave me hope for the years to come. Already with a better guest in Tom Hanks, show 2 was a step up. Seeing "In the Year 2000" revived and revamped on Wednesday was great. Hopefully they work in more Classic Conan as time goes on. Hopefully they show viewers at 11:30 why Conan did so well at 12:30. I believed him on his final show when he said he "wouldn't grow up" in his new time slot. People are still worrying that's not the case, but I'll give it some time.

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