March 17, 2002 |
Ever since Robert L. Johnson launched Black Entertainment Television in 1980, BET has come to mean many things to the many African Americans the cable network targets. To its hundreds of thousands of viewers, BET means, as its snazzy slogan proclaims, Black Star Power. But to its many vocal critics, who decry its abundance of lecherous music videos and lack of quality programs, BET still stands for Bad Entertainment Television. Many detractors hoped that BET's sale last year to mega-media conglomerate Viacom for a staggering $3 billion would make things better.
September 22, 2001 |
Glitter, the eagerly awaited, twice-postponed A Star Is Born revamp featuring Mariah Carey in her film debut, is so bad that you can write its epitaph. A star is stillborn. It's not entirely a failure of the story. This yarn about a backup singer who soars to the top while her famous discoverer and lover watches his career plummet has always worked before, for Janet Gaynor and, spectacularly, for Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. It's not entirely a failure of direction.
August 5, 2001 |
Was it really 20 years ago this week that MTV aired its first music video, appropriately titled "Video Killed the Radio Star"? Don't ask me. I didn't "go on the cable," as a neighbor quaintly put it, until 1996. How did I live sans 6 billion channels of programming? Pretty well, thank you, as did many Philadelphians in a city not completely wired for cable access in the years following MTV's launch. Maternity leave, when my daughter's sleeping habits seemingly revolved around the magnetic pull of Jupiter, was trial by VHF. I soaked up lot of syndicated drek and projectile-vomited baby formula in those no-man's hours between 2 and 6 a.m. Under sleep-deprived duress, even reruns of Hogan's Heroes develop a certain twisted charm.
July 9, 2001 |
When Virgin Records America wanted to promote a song by the British pop band Blur in 1997, blasting it in arenas during National Hockey League games helped to do the job. "Song 2," in which the main vocal hook is "whoo-hoo," became a hit in the United States and continues to be known as an NHL anthem of sorts. "There are a lot of puzzle pieces to making a record successful, but that exposure to audiences all over the country was invaluable," said Kate Tews, vice president of advertising and merchandising at Virgin.
April 27, 2001 |
Genre-bending is an honorable practice that occasionally yields a pleasant surprise such as Naked Gun, a detective slapstick, or Pennies From Heaven, a musical melodrama. One Night at McCool's, a curious screwball noir, doesn't so much bend established genres as blend them into an unappetizing cocktail, where they curdle before pouring. More or less a Femme Fatale Attraction, the film stars Liv Tyler as Jewel, a ruby-lipped seductress falling out of her red velvet mini-dress and into the lives of bartender Randy (Matt Dillon)
February 10, 2001 |
When it came to light this week that a Neshaminy High School girl had videotaped two classmates having sex in the auditorium - and proudly showed the tape in school the following day - parents and teachers were aghast. Students, however, were barely atwitter. "I guess they were trying to express themselves," said senior Lauren Moore. "People were shocked, but really it was nothing big. " After all, Neshaminy is the school where shock-jock Howard Stern himself spoke on the loudspeaker last year to endorse the winning candidate for student body president.
December 15, 2000 |
'N Sync is on holiday hiatus. Steely Dan's dynamic duo are probably sunning themselves in Maui. The Eurythmics' brief reunion tour came and went with only a couple U.S. dates. Carlos Santana ain't ever gonna tour with all the guest talents who recorded on his hit comeback album. But if you want to delight a music fan this holiday season, give them a magic wand to summon up the sounds and sights of these artists (and others) performing on VHS videotape or DVD videodisc. Music fans can't help but connect better with the DVD versions.
July 15, 1999 |
We've all heard the dirt on Comedy Central's The Man Show, USA Network's Happy Hour, and The X Show on FX, the current spate of dirt-cheap variety-show- style cable programs that glory in booze, babes, third-tier celebrities, and jokes about bodily emissions. Critics hold their noses. Fans - or at least the rowdies recruited for the live studio audiences - seem to revel in the shows' in- your-face political incorrectness, and the bevy of gyrating, rump- shaking, bikini-wearing dancers.
April 26, 1999 |
Befitting her status as a Kosovar pop star, Eleonora Jakupi lives in one of Albania's finer apartment buildings. In poor Tirana, though, this means only that the steps inside her building are uncracked, the railings are in one piece, and the small elevator is still working. If it were not for the Kosovo crisis, the beautiful, dark-eyed Jakupi might be singing a different tune. But war touches all here, from the oldest rural peasants to the most high-spirited urban youths. Today, like hundreds of thousands of other Kosovo residents now seeking refuge in this impoverished land, Jakupi finds herself longing for a home she may never see again.
September 28, 1998 |
Camcorder in hand, Todd Shuster towered above his cast of wide-eyed characters. His instructions were simple, and the actors had no problem taking direction from the man wearing a Snoopy tie and a coordinating pin-striped shirt with Charlie Brown on the pocket. "I need the sourpuss faces to not look so sour for a little bit. " "See this right here," he said, pointing to the camera, "that's Mom. Smile. " "Don't lean on the chairs. Show us your best, nicest standing.