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October 2007
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December 2007

TV Land Greatest TV Icons

Cherbodies I’m gonna be sporadic with my blog postings in December. Which sucks because I have LOTS to talk about, a veritable backlog of Cher-chat to share. People have been sending me really good Cher stuff I must say: a critical USC analysis of the Bono marriage marketing plan and a DVD full of 60s S&C performances to discuss. But life happens. My ceramics class is ending (much to do) and I just found out I’ll need to move this month (due to rehabbing that will be done to our apartment building), plus I have company in town this weekend and Christmas on the horizon. But stay tuned.

Today I just want to say how disgusted I am with Entertainment Weekly and TV Land’s list of 100 Greatest TV Icons. The list is breathtakingly disorganized and illogical and Cher is ridiculously low in its rankings. At  the turn of the millennium, Cher ended up on many best-of entertainment lists. I felt her rankings were usually fair – even if they weren’t top 30. The fact that she made a music list here or there at all was a good sign of things to come. But on the television list, Cher should have been ranked much higher, in the top 50 at least. Entertainment Weekly and TV Land didn’t even bother to discuss the bottom 50 in the magazine or TV special. So annoying.

Here’s the list. I’m fine with the top ten but I’ve noted rankings that warranted extra comment.

100. Marcia Cross
99. Delta Burke
98. Meredith Baxter
97. In Living Color cast
96. Shannen Doherty – give me a break
95. Richard Dawson
94. Melissa Gilbert
93. Neil Patrick Harris – come ON
92. Judge Judy
91. Dennis Franz
90. John Stamos – why is he even on this list?
89. Robert Guillaume
88. Gavin MacLeod
87. Phil Hartman
86. Jerry Mathers
85. Rod Serling
84. Cartman from "South Park"
83. Isabel Sanford
82. Ted Knight
81. Dick Cavett
80. Adam West
79. Angela Landsbury
78. Art Carney
77. James Garner
76. Candice Bergen
75. Peter Falk
74. Joan Rivers
73. Tony Danza
72. Cher – travesty of justice
71. Rosie O'Donnell – sure she’s making a stir now but I predict she will not have such long-term impact. She is not in the league of Phil Donahue or Oprah and The View fiasco will soon be just a Hollywood footnote.
70. Bob Denver  - Gilligan maybe; Bob no.
69. Barbara Eden – Genie maybe
68. Don Cornelius
67. Tom Selleck
66. Kelsey Grammer – great sitcom actor among other great sitcom actors. He shouldn’t be higher than Ted Knight.
65. Pamela Anderson – you’re kidding me with this
64. Phil Donahue
63. Ed Asner – an no Chloris Leachman??
62. Redd Foxx
61. Pee Wee Herman – should be toward the bottom of the list
60. Merv Griffin
59. Ted Danson – see Kelsy Grammer
58. Don Knotts
57. Charlie Brown
56. Betty White – and no Chloris Leachman??
55. Fred Rogers – should be way higher
54. Florence Henderson
53. Ed McMahon – if he’s here, Jerry Lewis should be here and who wants that?
52. Ron Howard – Opie maybe
51. Bob Hope
50. Larry Hagman – see Kelsey Grammer
49. Calista Flockhart – I bang my head against my keyboard on this one
48. Jimmy Smits – this list is totally un-credible now
47. Simon Cowell
46. Lassie
45. Sarah Michelle Gellar – 90s star; wont last another 10 years I predict
44. Susan Lucci
43. Flip Wilson
42. James Gandolfini – his longevity is possible but remains to be seen
41. Jon Stewart
40. Sally Field
39. Jennifer Aniston – see Kelsey Grammer
38. Bea Arthur - see Kelsey Grammer
37. George Clooney – for Facts of Life???
36. Diahann Carroll
35. Michael J. Fox
34. Bob Barker
33. Ellen DeGeneres – fascinating but no icon yet she isn’t
32. Henry Winkler
31. Sarah Jessica Parker – see Kelsey Grammer
30. Alan Alda
29. John Ritter – I always liked John Ritter but I’m amazed he made it this high…could barely get a good gig while he was alive
28. Howard Cosell
27. Regis Philbin
26. Farrah Fawcett
25. Heather Locklear
24. Michael Landon
23. Barbara Walters
22. Milton Berle
21. Kermit 
20. Carroll O'Connor
19. Andy Griffith
18. William Shatner
17. Bob Newhart
16. David Letterman
15. "Not Ready for Primetime Players" – have sucked longer than they rocked
14. Ed Sullivan
13. Jackie Gleason
12. Dick Van Dyke
10. Dick Clark
9. Homer Simpson
8. Jerry Seinfeld
7. Mary Tyler Moore
6. Carol Burnett
5. Walter Cronkite
4. Bill Cosby – love and respect his comedy albums (didn't hate the Cosby Show but shouldn’t be so high for his 2 television shows; stand-up maybe; if this list is trying to be affirmative action, he still should be higher than Flip Wilson. I'm willing to discuss this one though; did he pave the way for more African American programming? Or did he just end up sending them all to the WB?
3. Oprah Winfrey
2. Lucille Ball
1. Johnny Carson

So that’s the atrocious list. Here is a sketch of my alternate rankings

1. Johnny Carson - dork but okay – he’s Mr. Television
2. Lucy  - and Desi – stupid to leave off Desi when many of the I Love Lucy conventions were his ideas
3. Oprah – has virtual control over our souls
4. Phil Donahue – father of the talk show
5. Walter Cronkite
6. Carol O’ Connor – redefined acceptable sitcom characters
7. Ed Sullivan – father of variety
8. Kermit - symbol of children’s television programming
9. Milton Berle - – hate him but he’s a TV pioneer
10. Barbara Walters - ick but you think of woman reporter on TV and there she is
11. Homer – longest running television show
12. Jackie Gleason – helped define TV sitcoms
13. Dick Clark – helped define half-hour music programming
14. Bob Barker – the face of game shows
15. Howard Cosell – the face of sports

Basically, the top 20 should be for the ultimate TV pioneers or those who symbolize a genre of television.

The 20-30 range should be for landmark shows: Roseanne, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Dick Van Dyke represent the classic show.

The 30-40 range can be reserved for celebrities who were iconic style figures, people who influenced fashion or TV style for a goodly time. Cher would fall toward the top of this range; Farrah to the bottom (as she was just a poster of good hair when all is said and done). I feel Cher conquered 70s television and for that she deserves to be ranked near Flip Wilson. I’d put her in the top 30 for sure. No kid in the 70s wasn’t enamored by Cher on TV at some point in the 70s: budding feminists, the toddler gay community, and aspiring baby divas.

Workhorses who excelled in more than one show should appear in the 50-75 range: Ted Danson, Heather Locklear, Ed Asner.

Odds and ends who we somehow love but really didn't display much discernible talent should fall in the 75-90 range: Ron Howard as Opie, Bob Denver as Gilligan.

Late breaking favorites should be relegated to the bottom because they may have promise but they haven’t exhibited longevity yet: James Gandolfini, Rosie O’Donnell. Ellen DeGeneres

Please, send me your thoughts.

   


Thanksgiving Couture

Turkeylamp I’m watching TV Lands Greatest TV Icons tonight to start off my very exciting Dead Turkey Day plans for the weekend. For some odd reason, my bf and I our unseasonably festive this year and have decided to decorate our digs this weekend, bake cookies and generally be cheery. This is most unusual.

To keep you busy over the weekend if your family is tormenting you with discussions of embarrassing childhood moments involving Thanksgiving leftovers of yore, retreat to your room and play with Eddie Kent's 60s Cher paper dolls. You can play with them online!

Turkeysc_2 I couldn't find a particularly Thanksgiving Cher photo but here is a video of S&C singing in Thanksgiving colors: Just imagine them coming over to your dinner party dressed like that with some giblets and boxed wine.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving - adopt a turkey next year: http://www.adoptaturkey.org/.
   


Cher Charitable Foundation Says Hello

Chercastle Great news: Cher issued a press release Monday!  Her new Charitable Foundation is doing a fundraiser...finally. :-)

(photo right: Cher at a Charity at LA's Magic Castle in 1973; taken by Kim M. Lynch)

The shindig will go down November 28 in Century City and will include a VIP reception, dinner and a short film screening.  The movie will be Love Sees No Color (here's the 4 minute YouTube version) – which is described as something like a music-based peace film running at 12 minutes. I hope discussions will follow because that short program might send you to bed before Letterman comes on.

The press release alludes to “the screening and celebrity performance” but what exactly that celebrity performance is or which celebrity will be performing seems vague at this point. Remember Cher sometimes doesn’t show up to her own parties. I guess I know a hyper (and set-up) Cher fan or two who will post bank to find out. The event costs $500 for a plebeian ticket and 1k for the V.I.P. treatment.

Although I live here I must pass. If I had $500 spare dollars I’d own a third of a Bob Mackie sketch right about now. I propose five of us pick a presentable Cher fan to sponsor for $100 each. Their only obligation will be to obsessively report on the event to other poverty-stricken (in a relative European-US sense, that is) fans.

But seriously, this is really great news. Cher is amping up her charity profile and not making it Cher-centric – which fulfills a requirement that her charity work not be self-celebrity-obsessed. It’s perfect!

The movie actually highlights musician and peace activist Nassiri. You can read his vision statement and you can listen to his music online. It sounds uplifting. Allmusic.com describes it as lush, literate, hypnotic world fusion.

There’s also a pretty substantial review in the press release of Cher’s philanthropic efforts to date which include:

  • The Children’s Craniofacial Association, National Chairperson and Honorary Spokesperson, creator of Cher’s Family Retreat
  • Get A-Head Charitable Trust - serves people with head and neck diseases
  • Operation Helmet – support to American active soldiers
  • Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund – support to American military veterans
  • Habitat for Humanity, – Honorary Chair of the poverty initiative “Raise the Roof”
  • Keep a Child Alive, Spokesperson – they serve to reduce the global AIDS epidemic
  • Peace Village School in Ukunda, Kenya – provides food, medical care and education to children

Not mentioned but she has also supported Comic Relief, High Priority - a breast cancer information network, Pediatric AIDS Foundation, PFLAG, The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, United Cerebral Palsy Association and probably others we don’t know about.

For contact information on these charities, visit http://www.cherscholar.com/cherstock.htm and scroll down to Cherities.

Read the press release.

I just hope The Cher Charitable Foundation starts up a website soon so people can mail in some benjamins.

Peace - love - unity - and TV specials!
    


Has Cher lived up to her Oscar? (And is that a mean thing to say?)

Cheroscar I finally got around to viewing this Cher interview from Norway posted by YouTube Master Tyler many moons ago. The picture quality is very fuzzy but the content is pretty interesting.

Cher talks about shopping for clothes in Oslo. I wish I had such a passion for shopping for clothes. Anyone who sees me knows instantly I have no passion for looking put together.

Cher talks about “Believe” being her biggest song to date and how funny it is that the lyrics are so sad but the track so upbeat. Did she really say track? Like it’s karaoke? This reminds me of the Poco song that always bothered me, "Call it Love" - a song that makes you feel very happy until you realize you should be depressed instead.

Cher again comments that her year 40 was her best year – a year when work, love-life and still having the kids at home all aligned in a pleasant manner.

The Norwegian interviewer asked what bores her. A very unusual question. She answered that she has a very short attention span and likes to make everything into a game, that she tends to be childish that way and doesn’t like doing grownup things, like “business crap.” She says she has a rebellious teenager in her and can be very stubborn. Her whole she has fought for the right to do things, she says, and it’s hard for her to know when she’s being obstinate and bull-headed. I wonder if maybe this is why so many projects fall through.

She talked about her first David Letterman appearance, how she needed to pay a 28k hotel bill and the show only wanted to pay scale ($600). They relented only to have Cher call Letterman an asshole on camera. Cher said she was reluctant to appear before because Letterman had a reputation of being mean to his guests. Old story but I find her note of someone else's meanness suddenly interesting in this interview.

The interviewer talked about her movie If These Walls Could Talk and called it “the anti-abortion” movie. What? That movie tried to show multiple view points and I don’t quite understand how it could be construed as anti-abortion...even by Norwegians. In any case, Cher states that none of her actresses wanted to do the script and she asked them to trust her, not as a director but as an actress. She said they could say whatever they wanted to as long as they got the feeling across and Cher admitted to them “I wouldn’t say that crap.” Ouch. That might sound kinda mean to the writer who wrote that script.

Cher also delved into the very real harrows of being famous, having to ensure photographers can’t film through her house windows, having to shred all her trash and papers. One anecdote had Cher visiting Olivera Street in downtown Los Angeles with Chastity and autograph hounds holding them up. Chastity apparently said “I hate going anywhere with you.” I had that same conversation with my mother once but it wasn’t over paparazzi; it was over her chiding me for not having more passion in shopping for clothes.

In any case, another sucky thing about being a celebrity, Cher says, is having interview comments misconstrued and how the media is often mean-spirited. Hmm - that mean word again.

Then Cher called Bill Clinton’s paramour, Monica Lewinsky "a very ugly girl." I don’t think Cher would get many guests if she hosted a talk show either. She can be plenty mean.

Cher did however give a brilliant explanation regarding how annoying America can sometimes be:

“We’re a strange country...we have aspirations that we cannot meet...we’re like a bad teenager, too many hormones raging a lot of the time. We mean well and we have great energy...we’re just not quite soup yet.”

Also of note, Cher talked about the Oscar, about once seeking revenge through fashion after being criticized for the way she dressed and dating men too young, and about the night she won the Academy Award for Moonstruck in 1987, about meeting Audrey Hepburn that night and feeling light on her feet as a result, and about how she lost her earring and said 'shit' inappropriately. An inappropriate shit? I wonder what she thinks about her use of the word Fuck that has caused so much brouhaha lately with US media and courts.

Speaking of Oscar, in an LA Times article on November 7 entitled “The Oscar Jinks” Cher is listed in a small group of actors who have not lived up to the promise of winning a statue.  An Oscar implies you are the best, the article states. Problems with some post-Oscar careers include:

a. Some actors play the same roles over and over again (Olympia Dukakis and Joe Pesci were cited for this). I think Cher plays tough chick way too often – which is why I like Suspect so much – but I really don’t think Oscar-watchers sense this about Cher. I don’t think it’s a huge issue. I just personally would like to see her take on more vulnerable characters.

b. Some actors have earned a reputation for being difficult and so are not sought out for better roles. All the messy Mermaids press rings a bell here...and Cher’s admission of being obstinate often.

c. Sometimes the parts themselves win the Oscars (F. Murray Abraham as Sallieri in Amadeus, Patty Duke as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoos’ Nest were cited as examples). I definitely don’t think this is an issue for Cher. If anything, I think she won the Moonstruck-era Oscar for her accumulation of great performances in the previous years, her most beloved role being in Mask. I’d almost say it was a delayed win for Mask as much as for Moonstruck. And the character didn’t overshadow her performance in either case.

The article admitted it might be better for one’s career to be simply nominated than to actually win a trophy. In most cases I guess. Wins surely didn’t derail Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep or Katharine Kevinspacey_2Hepburn.

Other disappointing winners according to the list: Liza Minnelli, Roberto Benigni, Whoopi Goldberg, Mira Sorvino, and Kim Bassinger with added mention given to Halle Berry, Helen Hunt, Kevin Spacey, and Cuba Gooding Jr.

A few weeks ago, my bf won a bet with me that he couldn't hand sew his own frontier pants. He threw a party to celebrate the making of his pants. At right is a picture of him at his pants party looking like Kevin Spacey.
   


The Internet, Video and Links

Barilan_internetthumb I don’t feel much like blogging today but here goes. Yesterday as part of a work excursion I attended part of ICANN's (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers) 30th public meeting. You probably don’t know ICANN (and their name isn’t very sexy for sure) but they do things like run the Internet - make sure it works and isn’t hacked into and all that sort of thing. It was fascinating - the three session I attended.

The Internet is one of those things you take for granted but is so crucial to life in the modern world. My favorite quote from the meeting was from ICANN-ite George Sadowsky who said “All forms of human behavior have moved to the net and magnified.” And he went on to say how that included both good and bad forms of human behavior, saints and thieves. Do you consider how important the Internet is to your modern life and how crucial it is that it doesn’t break down?

I definitely feel mentally exhausted today. The energy there was calm but intense and now my brain is completely fried. Just listening to the translations was exhausting but very cool.

I’ll just leave you with these links for thoughts...

Cher single "Believe" was huge. Least we forget how big it was, this Today in Music article coves the basics, how it was the dance record of the 90s and probably the biggest selling dance record of all time.

Here's more news on Cher swearing on TV and whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing according to US courts. Ugh! I wish this story would just go away! I’m so friggin over it already. Grant on Ghost Hunters says "What the Frig!" all the time and I think it's so funny. My bf said yesterday that he was suffering from a bad case of the friggits.

Here's a clip of Sonny & Cher singing "We’re Gonna Make It." Wow! First of all, didn't we associate that song with the Allman and Woman album. Sonny & Cher did it too? Just like "You Really Got a Hold on Me." Was Cher trying to recreate Sonny & Cher with Allman duets? It seems so beyond comprehension - how could we have considered it? Or did Sonny & Cher cover so many friggin songs it would be impossible not to re-cover her covers? Of course, Cher and Allman didn’t make it, Sonny and Cher didn’t make it either but it would be hard to top their version. Bobby Sherman, that ridiculous dance, the screaming kids, the sudden appearance and disappearance of backup singers (if it wasn’t the 60s I’d think they were CGI’d in there), Sonny going absolutely crazy at the end. Wow!

This last clip is about a Joni Mitchell impersonator. It’s tone irked me...a lot. The article begins by indicating how high class it is to be a Joni Mitchell impersonator and how that possibly elevates the act to cabaret. First of all, you could argue that a Joni Mitchell impersonator is even more ridiculous of an act than a Cher impersonator...that is if you think impersonations are ridiculous in the first place which you probably do if you’re a close-minded Joni Mitchell fan. Then there’s the implication that other impersonators are of a lower-caste, being reduced to hand out pamphlets on the streets of Provincetown to their shows because “Ms. Mitchell appeals to far more rarefied tastes.” I can personally attest that you can be both a fan of Cher and Joni Mitchell. (I have her collected lyrics in my library for frig's sake!). This was a subtle Cher-shaft in action and I had to say something.

The picture above is Bar Ilan University's map of the Internet. The Internet. What an awesome thing. Just this one post has brought us a blog conversation, a youtube video, factual information on a pop song and potential opinions blossoming out of billions of brains worldwide.