Golden Globe ramblings

Here are some random thoughts on the Golden Globes; please add yours. Bear with me, because I'm doing this while watching the West Coast telecast. It would be cheating to peak at the list of winners:

1) It should be mandatory to have one clever Englishman at each awards ceremony. Two years ago, Sacha Baron Cohen was delightful; tonight, Ricky Gervais matched that.

2) The comment Gevais made was true, incidentally. In a hilarious "Extras" scene, he had Kate Winslett insisting on doing a Holocaust movie so she could win an award. Now she's done one and won one.

3) Not all English folks are great at getting or presenting awards though. Please tell Winslett this: You could have thanked those people afterward, at the party.

4) This is the part I hate. The star of "Happy Go Lucky" spent most of her time crying.

5) As all those awards pile up, remember this: "John Adams" was a good miniseries, but far from a great one. It started wonderfully, then got dragged down in the lethargic nature of its lead character.

6) Then again, also remember: "30 Rock" IS a great show. It's erratic -- all comedies filmed without an audience seem to be -- but often wonderfully funny.

7) Tina Fey had the best line: "If you ever feel too good about yourself, there's this thing called the Internet." I won't prove that here. Fey is a good actress, a fine producer and a terrific writer.

8) Also, letting Tracy Morgan do the acceptance speech for "30 Rock" was a master stroke.

9) Rumor Willis has the rare distinction of being Miss Golden Globesfor two straight years. She was chosen last year, but the strike scuttled everything. NBC's dim-witted presentation, hosted by Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell, was one of the awful moments in TV history.

10) It's easy to make fun of those Miss Golden Globes people over the years, assuming they are dull, big-globed heiresses. Let's not be so sure, though. Laura Dern -- a brilliant and gifted actress who just won her second Globe -- was Miss Golden Globe in 1982.

11) If I understand this correctly, Don Cheadle has gone from "Hotel Rwanda" to "Hotel For Dogs." This is not, presumably, an upgrade.

12) The comments by Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese were terrific, as they urged people to avoid the easy, mainstream way. Still, let's remember this: In all of Hollywood history, Spielberg is absolutely the finest craftsman of popular, mainstream movies.

13) Let me recommend a couple of the non-winners in the movie-comedy category. "In Bruges" isn't quite a comedy, but it is interesting and original. And "Burn After Reading" is a delight.

14) Things get kind of quiet when anyone mentions "In Treatment"; reaction to Gabriel Byrne's win was muted. Very simply, not many people have seen the HBO show. It will be back soon; the first season was subtly written and superbly acted.

15) Hey, "In Bruges" did win something after all. Colin Farrell didn't have to do a lot of acting in it, but he was perfectly cast and gave a neatly subtle performance. It was good to see a former bad-boy type being honored for good work.

16) Winslet won again and was just as bad the second time. She's a great actress, but now she's on my no-more-awards list.

17) You can probably do well, just by predicting upset wins by Anna Paquin. She did that 15 years ago at the Oscars for "The Piano" and did it again now for "True Blood." She's just right in a terrific show.

18) Mickey Rourke AND Colin Ferrell both won? Two self-destructive, crumbling guys have turned it around. Comebacks are great.

19) OK, I get the message. I promise to watch "Slumdog Millionaire" as soon as it gets to town.

20) Last year, "Mad Men" won and nobody was watching. Maybe this year will make a difference. In its own oddly restrained way, this is a fine show.





Hollywood still lures them

Maybe this is re-assuring: We may shrug off Hollywood, but others -- even sophisticated English folks -- still consider it magical.

I've found that during my first few days of Television Critics Association interviews in Los Angeles. Consider:

-- Claire Foy, 24, with all the proper credentials. She's an Oxford grad and a "Masterpiece Classic" star, with the title role in the upcoming "Little Dorrit." She was delighted that the intervews are at a hotel across from Universal City. "I want to go on the rides," she said. "I want to go to a theme park."

-- Aaron Paul, 28, who's terrific as a small-time drug dealer in "Breaking Bad." Poolside, he nodded toward the Universal theaters; that's where he worked after his leap from Idaho to Los Angeles. "I was the guy who would take your ticket at the movies."

-- Luke Pasqualino, 18, who's a charming sort in the upcoming season of "Skins," on BBC America. "I was a huge 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air' fan," he said. "Now I'm actually in L.A. and I saw Bel Air on the map ... I might get in a car and go down there and check it all out."

-- Sharon Small, 41, already a PBS favorite (via the Inspector Lyndley mysteries) and now in BBC America's upcoming "Mistresses." For her, it was a thrill to drive past the Hollywood sign -- or to be driving at all. She's usually in London; "we can drive, but it's quite a mess."

-- And Foy again, with her one complaint. On her first night in Los Angeles, she grumbled that she couldn't find "the big row with the palm trees on it."

Helpful gentlemen soon gave her tips to find palm trees. When you're young and wide-eyed and look like Keira Knightley, gentlemen are helpful and Hollywood is magical.  



A joke, courtesy of RuPaul


I really don't pass along enough jokes from RuPaul, so here's one.

You may recall that RuPaul is the towering drag-queen star. He was in Los Angeles today to talk about "RuPaul's Drag Race," the reality competition show that opens Feb. 2 on cable's Logo Channel. Anyway, here's his joke:

"A black guy walks into a bar with a parrot on his shoulder.

"The bartender says, 'Hey, where'd you get that?'"

"The parrot says, 'In Africa. They're everywhere there.'"

The latest Brett Favre news


So this is the big news I get in a newspaper headline today: "Favre will wait before deciding."

Thanks for that information. In another scoop, it turns out that the sun rose in the East this morning. Also, they're following up on reports that the Pope is Catholic.

Favre has been doing this at the end of each season. Why is it that he takes months to decide whether to play football again, but (during key games) takes zero seconds to decide to fling a football into a crowd of defenders? 


Scoop: Idina Menzel sings well

You probably suspected this anyway, but I wanted to confirm it: Idina Menzel is a really good singer.

That's already obvious to people who have heard her in "Wicked" or "Rent," or who got her recent solo album. The latest confirmation, however, comes with:

-- A "Soundstage" special, next Thursday (Jan. 15) on many PBS stations. "Perfume and Promises," with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, is especially gorgeous. Menzel closes the night by joining Josh Groban for a high-quality, high-decibel "Awake."

-- "Chess in Concert," which PBS is saving for summer. Menzel links with Groban (again) and her old "Rent" mate Adam Pascal, to revive the musical; clips indicate this could be a powerhouse night.

-- And a mini-concert she gave Wednesday night at a Television Critics Association session in Los Angeles.

Menzel showed her ability to have a light, sweet voice one minute, yet reach big, passionate moments the next. She also told stories.

There were the her days as a 15-year-old in Long Island, driving illegally so she could sing at weddings and such. These were cover songs, mostly, bearing bad memories. One man had a heart attack on the dance floor while she was mid-ballad.

And there was her recent performance at the "Kennedy Center Honors," singing in the Barbra Streisand tribute. Afterward, she braced herself for the obligatory praise from Streisand (who was sitting at her table) and Aretha Fanklin (who obsesses on Menzel's husband, Taye Diggs).

The result: Streisand said nothing about her for 20 minutes, then said "Oh, was that you? I didn't have my glasses on."

Franklin simply didn't accept the fact that that Menzel (who had changed dresses afterward) was the one who sang in the tribute. When she was finally convinced, she said to Diggs: "You didn't tell me your wife sings."

It was, she recalled, a memorable stretch -- being dismissed by two of her idols the same day.