Ripped by the headlines
Tragedy or sensationalism?
By Todd Leopold
Dean Cain in "The Perfect Husband."
|ON CNN TV|
Eye on Entertainment" talks about the weekend's happenings on CNN's "Live Today"
between 10 a.m. and noon EST Thursday.
(CNN) -- This weekend gives you a choice between a feature film starring Adam Sandler and a TV movie about Scott Peterson.
Put another way, this weekend gives you a choice between a shrewd actor who often stars in annoying, lazily directed comedies and an annoying, over-sensationalized tragedy about a man who might be a shrewd actor.
Have you considered picking up a good book?
Eye on Entertainment ponders what to do.
What is it that makes some cases mundane, everyday affairs and turns others into Crimes of the Century?
Perhaps it's personalities -- shiny people with messy secrets. Or novelty -- quiet settings and strange twists.
Or perhaps, nowadays, it's simply the media beast, which refuses to let go of a story until it's wrung every last tear (and dollar, and ratings point) out of it. Everything becomes part of a never-ending TV show.
Which brings me to USA Network's "The Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story," which airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET.
The story is a tragedy, no question. But by now, the tragedy has been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of media coverage -- including that of the pretrial preparations going on this week. USA adds to the endless hum with its movie, starring Dean Cain, who bears an eerie resemblance to Scott Peterson.
The movie may be a cut above the average ripped-from-the-headlines TV movie. And yes, "ripped-from-the-headlines" is as old as the printing press.
But there's something wearying about wallowing in such a case, something not far removed from crowds gathered around the guillotine or waiting to stone the accused to death. "The Perfect Husband" may well be a good film, but the timing leaves something to be desired.
But then again, it's just a TV show, right?
• Then there's Sandler. In "50 First Dates," he plays a confirmed playboy bachelor who falls for Drew Barrymore. Whoops! Barrymore's character has memory problems, so Sandler has to woo her over and over again. As one colleague described it, "It's 'Groundhog Day' without the laughs." Opens Friday.
On the tube
• Never a network to miss a trick, Fox is hopping on the popularity of the National Spelling Bee with "The Great American Celebrity Spelling Bee." Contestants include Corbin Bernsen, Sherman Hemsley, Carol Leifer, Alan Thicke and Alice Cooper. Allen Ludden -- uh, John O'Hurley (Mr. Peterman on "Seinfeld") hosts. 8 p.m. ET Friday, Fox.
• If you haven't memorized all the episodes yet, the Hallmark Channel is presenting a "Gilligan's Island" marathon. Remember that one where Gilligan messes up and the castaways are stuck on the island? See it again ... and again ... Starting at 8 a.m. Monday, Hallmark Channel.
• "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" finally returns with new episodes, so the Fab Five can get to work on the rest of the country. 10 p.m. Tuesday, Bravo.
• Indigo Girls -- they're very particular about not using the "The" -- put out a new album, "All That We Let In" (Sony) on Tuesday.
• In this age when rumors of laboratory-created germs and viruses can send people into a panic, the true story of "Lab 257" (William Morrow) might not be the most comforting reading. Turns out, according to a new book by Michael Christopher Carroll, the U.S. government runs a germ lab and research center just off the coast of New York's Long Island -- and it hasn't always been smooth sailing. Comes out Tuesday.
• Author Tom Holland takes a look at the last years of the Roman Republic -- before Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar created the Roman Empire -- in "Rubicon" (Doubleday). Due Tuesday.
• One of Oscar's most surprising contenders, "City of God" -- up for four awards, including best director and best screenplay adaptation -- comes to DVD on Tuesday.