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October 8, 2015


Does How I Met Your Mother have anything to be ashamed of?

by Bob Sassone, posted Dec 15th 2009 4:59PM
How I Met Your MotherI didn't know that Slate was keeping a weekly "Shame Index" for How I Met Your Mother, a regular column where they go over each episode in fine detail and list what the show does "awesome" and what the show should be ashamed of. You're probably wondering, what could the show possibly do to be ashamed of?

Basically it comes down to either 1. lame jokes or 2. being too much like Friends. I'm not a regular viewer of How I Met Your Mother (I did love Friends), so I have absolutely no opinion on the matter at all. They do point out the plot from last night's episode where they tried to quit smoking, saying that Friends did that several times with Chandler Bing's character over the years and that was funnier and HIMYM copied too much from Friends.

What do you think?

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Non-breaking news: Larry King embellishes his stories!

by Joel Keller, posted May 22nd 2009 2:02PM
Larry KingAnyone who's seen or heard Larry King over the last quarter-century or so (which includes just about everyone who has cable TV) knows that he's been known to tell tales of his life that are, to put it charitably, less than true. Big surprise from a guy who's been married seven times and pleaded no contest to passing bad checks in the early Seventies, right?

Anyway, with the release of King's new book, which is full of stories from his past, it seems like it's again time for journalists to point out that -- gasp! -- King makes some of his stories up. Jack Shafer in Slate, for instance, has decided to bring up King's claims that he knew Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax when the two of them were growing up in Brooklyn, a story that even Shafer acknowledges was refuted by Koufax himself... way back in 1991.

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Does Big Bang's Sheldon have Asperger's syndrome?

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 9th 2009 11:02AM
The Big Bang TheoryOne of last week's most entertaining web reads was an article in Slate about The Big Bang Theory. In it, writer Paul Collins expends about 1500 words wondering if Sheldon, the genius / social misfit played so ably by Jim Parsons, has Asperger's syndrome.

I can just sense thousands of readers right now smacking their heads with their palms and going, "I knew it!" right now. And I bet right now you're also scrambling to Google the condition and see what the characteristics are. No need; they're right here. Just in that website's brief description, you can see a lot that goes into the character of Sheldon: affected speech patterns, a small and unexpandable circle of interest, and -- most of all -- difficult two-way social interaction. Seems like Sheldon to a T.

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What's with the Fey and Poehler hate?

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 29th 2008 12:25PM
Fey and PoehlerI'm not here to argue for or against the comedic talents of current box-office champs Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. No, what I'm here to ask is: why do people dislike them so much? I'm not talking about people who just say that the two of them aren't funny; I'm talking about people who think that the two of them were the worst thing to happen to SNL, the comedy genre, and the entertainment world in general.

Case in point: this somewhat obtuse essay praising Poehler on Slate.com. In the process of reviewing Poehler's cartoon, The Mighty B!, writer Troy Patterson goes through some verbal gymnastics, like calling the ASSSCAT show she puts on at the UCB Theater "a Dadaist party trick," among other head-scratching terms. But what's interesting is the virulent reaction his review gets in the comments section.

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NBC might show reruns of UK Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 11th 2007 7:06PM

Ricky GervaisNo, this isn't some programming move to get rid of reality shows (though I think it's worth exploring). It's actually a strategy in case there's a strike in Hollywood.

And that strike is looking more and more like it might become a reality. It sounds like hyperbole, I know, but the two sides are really far apart, and we're closer to a strike than we've ever been. Writers want more money for DVD sales and other forms of media. At one point they were going to work under their old deal until the end of this season, but now things have changed. The networks have been stockpiling on scripts and orders for reality shows just in case.

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Sonnenfeld responds to story about Pushing Daisies budget overruns

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 9th 2007 6:27PM
Barry SonnenfeldLast Wednesday, Kim Masters of Slate.com wrote an interesting article about Pushing Daisies, one of the most highly-anticipated new fall shows. In the article, Masters reports that not only is the first post-pilot episode of Daisies over-budget, but the director of both the pilot and the first episode, Barry Sonnenfeld, has been punished for it; his "role as director was curtailed," as Masters put it.

When I was at the premiere for Daisies at the New York Television Festival last night, my main purpose on the event's red carpet (pictures of and text about the event will be posted on Tuesday) was to ask Sonnenfeld to reply to that article. Luckily, the director of Get Shorty, Men In Black, and The Addams Family wasn't reluctant to respond. "You know, the writer of the piece hasn't written a lot about Hollywood, I think," said Sonnenfeld. "Almost every show after the pilot is over-budget, whether it's Bionic Woman, Chuck, last year's Ugly Betty... I suspect they're all over-budget." More after the jump.

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A peek at Offices in Germany and France

by Joel Keller, posted Sep 21st 2006 4:09PM
Scene from StrombergIf you just can't wait until tonight's season premiere of The Office, Slate has a little something to whet your appetite: clips from The Office. Well, more specifically, they have clips from Le Bureau and Stromberg, the French and German versions, respectively, of the original British classic.

The article, written by Liesl Schillinger, examines the reasons why the remakes -- including the American version -- were done, paralleling how each fictitional office is portrayed with how each country views their respective 9-to-5 grinds. For instance, the "Tim and Dawn" equivalent in Germany are even better looking than the American "Jim and Pam," and are already fooling around under the desk. And, the British and French Offices emphasize that life isn't all about work, while the American version reflect our nation's desire to revolve our lives around the workplace, even if we don't actually do much productive work. Not a bad read for a lazy Thursday afternoon at work.

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Is Charlie and Lola the perfect cartoon for kids?

by Bob Sassone, posted Jun 5th 2006 12:07PM
Charlie and LolaI'll have to admit right at the start here that I have no idea what Charlie and Lola is. I mean, I know several Charlies, and I even met a Lola once (she was a showgirl), but I'd never heard of Charlie and Lola until I read this Slate piece about finding the perfect cartoon for your child. Stephen Metcalf even has a conversation with his 3 year old daughter about the show.

There's also a quick history of animation, from Max Fleischer and Walt Disney to Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. Adam, are you reading this?

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Is there really a difference between Gibson and Couric?

by Bob Sassone, posted May 31st 2006 12:02PM
Charles GibsonIn this Slate story about the "real" reasons behind the departure of Elizabeth Vargas from ABC's World News Tonight - you can debate the whole "is she being let go because she's pregnant?" question, because I think it's a shaky argument to delve into and is sort of an insult to Vargas and her pregnancy - there's a quote from a journalism professor about Charlie Gibson (taking over for Vargas) and Katie Couric (taking over for Bob Schieffer):

"Gibson is an excellent choice, and having him start three months before Katie Couric is probably a good strategy. Gibson is a solid newsman, old school, nothing frilly or fancy. The contrast with Couric will be stunningly obvious."

Now wait a second. Isn't Gibson coming from Good Morning America, a morning talk show just like The Today Show? I've seen him talk about American Idol and interview movie stars and help with the cooking segments, so how is that different from Couric (regardless of the years that Gibson has over Couric)? Has anyone who has seen Couric handle serious news - from 9/11 to Columbine to Katrina - really think she can't be a serious prescence on the evening news? It's not like they're bringing in Bozo The Clown or Martha Stewart to do the news, she's been a newsperson for a while. Hell, even Mike Wallace did morning shows and cheesy commercials.

I don't know, the quote seems out of touch.

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The Five: Corporations

by Adam Finley, posted May 22nd 2006 8:28AM

dinosaurs bossHey, check your watch. Yeah, it's time for another episode of The Five where we list stuff in groups of five, and you throw down some more in the comments. It's both fun and educational. Today we're talking about the best fictional corporations on television, so let's get into it:

Acme: Are you a coyote who has devoted his life to catching a single bird? If so, the Acme Corporation has everything you need from anvils to rocket sleds to exploding birdseed. Of course, none of these things come with any guarantee, but I'm sure they'll work out just fine for you. According to Wikipedia, Acme was part of the Warner Bros. cartoon universe early on, having first appeared in "Buddy's Bug Hunt" in 1935.

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Why is YouTube so popular?

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 29th 2006 5:38PM
Paul Boutin over at Slate tries to explain the YouTube and MySpace phenomenas. (Side note: according to Webster, that's the correct plural. Go figure.) Basically, it comes down to ease of use, cool factor, and the fact that they don't tell you what to do. (Personally, I think it's because "you get to see cool videos on the web for free," but maybe that's just me.)

But Boutin does get into something I've been wondering about lately: why is MySpace so popular? It's basically a place where you can put up a web site, but those kinds of sites have been around for years (Tripod, GeoCities, Angelfire, etc). What makes MySpace so popular (besides the whole "friends" thing)? I'm amazed that so many celebs have a site on there, because the designs are pretty crappy, if you ask me. The sites look like the web, circa 1996, from what I've seen. Though I guess like any other site you have to design them well.

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Invasion of the TV News Blondes!

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 21st 2006 8:48PM
Jeez alou, is Rita Cosby blonde or
what?Jack Shafer of Slate presents a very funny slideshow that illustrates the proliferation of blonde hair -- natural and otherwise -- into the TV news business. In the slideshow, he muses on why the women on network and cable news feel compelled to "hit the bottle," causing them to have mounds of unnatural-looking yellow hair atop their heads. Men aren't immune to Shafer's criticism, either: he criticizes sixty-something pundits Chris Matthews and Lou Dobbs (whom he dubs "thinning and thinninger.") for not letting themselves go dignifyingly gray. He even imagines what my girl Campbell Brown might look like if she were asked by her agent to go blonde!

The last panel, where he describes "Fox Lips" as being the new blonde, is a riot.

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Tonight on Anderson Cooper 360: Anderson Cooper!

by Bob Sassone, posted Jan 10th 2006 5:59PM

Anderson CooperHey, I like Anderson Cooper, but even I have to admit this Slate piece is pretty damn funny. Writer Tom Peyer gets Cooper's (and the show's) tone and phrasing and M.O. just right:

ANNOUNCER: Shock. Grief. Outrage. Glee.

One year after a devastating tsunami, four months after the fury of Katrina, mere days after a tragedy underground, which emotions will overtake Anderson Cooper next? Tonight, a special investigation on ANDERSON COOPER 360°.

ANDERSON COOPER: And good evening from CNN studios in New York, where we begin with a picture. Take a look. The man you see is 38 years old. A Manhattanite. A citizen, an employee, a friend, a son. His name: Anderson Cooper.

Most nights, he appears live on CNN to show you the devastation, destruction, disaster, sadness, and pain his countrymen endure.

But not tonight.

Tonight, he will explore Anderson Cooper. How one reporter copes while waiting for news, any news at all. A story of hope, and of prayers, ahead on 360.


ANDERSON: Welcome back. Our topic is Anderson Cooper, so we have a lot to cover in these two hours. We begin at his workplace.



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Nicole Richie loves her paparazzi

by Anna Johns, posted Dec 20th 2005 2:42PM
nicole richieNicole Richie has a book. Did you know that? It's called The Truth About Diamonds. It's being sold as a fictional novel written by Richie, but apparently the storylines are pretty transparent. For example, the main character, "Chloe," has a drug addition, much like Richie once did. And, her wealthy girlfriend named "Simone", who appears in "night vision skin flicks", is obviously Paris Hilton. I did not read the book because it costs more than one dollar, but I did read a hilarious recap of the book on Slate. The author makes fun of Richie's grammar, including this triple-negative: "we were nothing if not un-original." And of her contradictions about the character's dismissal of celebrity gossipers, yet tabloid press is what pushes the plot along. The reviewer says there is not much to be learned from the book, except Richie's dependency on the paparazzi. She appears just as obsessed with the tabloids as the rest of America, and her character obviously courts the gossip reporters in the book. If nothing else, the reviewer says, the book exposes how celebrities (at least, celebrities of Paris and Nicole's stature) need the tabloids.

After you're done reading the Slate review, head on over to Amazon to read the customer comments. There are already 33 reviews, and it appears a war is a-brewing over the literary quality of The Truth About Diamonds.

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