Friday, June 08, 2007
Random thoughts on 'The Sopranos'
  • No television show -– and very few movies –- have ever used music as well as "The Sopranos," from the opening theme ("Woke Up This Morning" by A3) to incidental background bits, right through to the music over the credits. I want David Chase's iPod.

  • Much has been made of the show’s violence, but for me the most powerful –- and often shocking -- scenes are the ones between Tony and his family. The interplay in the arguments between Tony (James Gandolfini) and Carmela (Edie Falco) in Season 4's closer "Whitecaps" was as brilliant -– and draining -– as anything I've ever seen.

  • David Chase has long said he wants to make movies, but I hope he realizes he may never top "The Sopranos." Indeed, a movie is almost certainly a step down; on "The Sopranos," Chase (and his staff) had the time and the space to create the equivalent of a first-rate novel, complete with colorful incidental characters, loose threads and layers upon layers of meaning.

  • I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to how the show will end. Which makes it all the more enticing.

  • And for those (like me) who will undergo "Sopranos" withdrawal, consider "The Sopranos: The Book" (Time Inc. Home Entertainment), a beautifully designed and well-written history of the show; or watch the "Law & Order" marathon Monday, which will feature shows starring "Sopranos" cast members. (Or, of course, you can watch the DVD collections.)

    Sleep well, Tony.
  • Thursday, June 07, 2007
    Paris out of jail?!?
    If you haven't growled it yet, let me do it for you. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!!!

    The news that Paris Hilton was let out of jail after only three days first came in on my BlackBerry as I was heading into the office. And to my surprise, it triggered a BlackBerry-generated message on-screen that read: ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!!!

    OK. Maybe not. But those words did come out of MY mouth. Loud. Instinctive. Visceral. Primal. Guttural.

    Matter of fact, I am still shaking my head so hard in disbelief I have a kink in my neck that will require a massage, for which I will send the bill to Paris for collateral damage.

    So why was Paris sprung from the pokey after spending just three days of her expected 23 days in the L.A. jail? The sheriff's department cited a "medical condition," didn't say what it was, but took pains to point out that she would now serve out her original 45-day sentence in her house and will wear an electronic monitoring bracelet.

    Oh.

    Hold on just a second. Let's take this one at a time.

    Medical condition? Do they not have doctors in the jail? When other inmates get sick, are they also let go?

    Did some sleuth sneak into the L.A. Sheriff's Department overnight and remove the computer chip that regulates reason? Do they not realize the outrage this will provoke, the claims of special treatment?

    So Paris will be under house arrest. Her house. The mansion she lives in. Her reward for getting arrested for DUI, then violating probation by not once -- not twice -- but three times driving with a suspended license.

    On "The View," Joy Behar observed "This girl can get out of more things than David Copperfield." Great analogy. Because like a master magician, it would appear that Paris has, indeed, pulled a rabbit out of her hat.

    And I'll bet you that even the rabbit is pissed.

    (Update: As of 3p ET, we've received more than 1,200 messages. We can't publish them all, but thanks for the input.
    (10p: 3,000 messages! If this were one of those old telegrams-to-Congress situations, the place would be overflowing.)
    Wednesday, June 06, 2007
    Paris before and after
    Now that Paris Hilton is settling into her expected 23-day stay in jail for transgressions against mankind, one can only hope that her stay in the pokey will erase, or at least dilute, the delusional and masochistic qualities that seem to swarm in her DNA.

    Rewind the clock to Sunday and the MTV Movie Awards. In fact, note it in the history books. I can't swear by it but I think it may have been the first -- and hopefully only -- time in recorded history that someone who was headed to the lockup first walked the celebrity red carpet at an event, went to the event, then checked themselves into jail. Because, incredibly, that's exactly what Paris did. But not before making our heads spin in disbelief like the Aflac duck who walks out of a barber shop apoplectic after listening to Yogi Berra-babble.

    On the red carpet, here's what Paris told us: "I feel like the media portrays me in a way that I'm not." (Watch Paris on the red carpet)

    Huh? How's that?

    Oh, you mean the sex tapes? Or the party tapes featuring Paris spewing ugly racial and homophobic epithets? Or did she mean the let's-humiliate-Lindsay Lohan "firecrotch" tape? Or was it the new season of "The Simple Life" in which the opening episode featured her and Nicole Richie as camp counselors at a so-called "Fat Camp" where they squealed in seeming delight as they administered enemas to overweight campers?

    Now let me ask a question. Or two. If YOU were already facing public humiliation and disgrace, would you not want to slink away and do everything possible NOT to bring attention to yourself? Would you really want to go in front of some of the most aggressive reporters in the business and subject yourself to questions? Would you then want to THEN go into an event (the MTV Movie Awards) that was being broadcast nationwide, a show that was guaranteed to zoom in on you repeatedly while the host of the show made relentless and biting fun of you, a host (Sarah Silverman) known for taking no prisoners?

    And served a softball, Silverman cranked her bat like a propeller and knocked it out of the park. After announcing that Paris was going to jail, a roar of cheers went up from the crowd as Paris squirmed in her seat. And then came Silverman's crack of the bat. "As a matter of fact, I heard that to make her feel more comfortable in prison, the guards are going to paint the bars to look like penises."

    As we count down the days till Paris gets out of lockdown, we will wait to see if a new and improved Paris will emerge from the pokey. Wanna bet?
    Tuesday, June 05, 2007
    A cuppa joe -- and Paul
    I wonder where Paul McCartney's new album is going to lead Starbucks.

    If you haven't heard, the former Beatle's new record, "Memory Almost Full," is his first with Starbucks' label, HearMusic. As part of the album's rollout, Starbucks is playing it nonstop Tuesday in its thousands of locations.

    Talk about exposure -- and talk about another nail in the coffin of the record industry as it's currently constituted.

    Sir Paul didn't get to be one of the richest artists in the world by doing things in conventional ways, and he's making the most of current marketing methods with "Memory Almost Full": taking advantage of Starbucks' muscle, releasing "Memory's" songs on iTunes (all his solo albums are also now available), getting an XM channel devoted to him for the day.

    (Incidentally, the album's pretty good. Entertainment Weekly gives it an A-minus; I'd rank it above average, not as good as "Band on the Run" or "Tug of War" but ahead of late-'70s Wings or the uneven "Chaos and Creation in the Backyard.")

    It'll be interesting to see where Starbucks takes things from hear -- uh, here. There's little reason for Starbucks to become a CD outlet -- why fill up limited space with records? -- but it probably won't be long until they add listening-downloading stations to their wi-fi. Like the song that's playing with your coffee? Turn on that laptop (or, more likely, phone) and purchase away.

    And the old-style middleman, the corporate label, will keep becoming less necessary every day. Few will miss that; about the only thing I miss now is being able to physically handle a booklet and lyric sheet. But I miss 12-inch LP covers, too.

    Anyway, it'll do until we start having chips inserted in our heads.
    When Paris went to jail
    A day after reporting on Paris Hilton I'm reminded of what this heiress is really famous for: being reported on.

    I counted 12 live trucks at the site. There were media outlets from Australia, Japan and Germany, not to mention local, national and entertainment news venues from the U.S., all to report the incarceration of the media Svengali we've come to know as Paris Hilton.

    Correspondents were quick to pepper their reports with puns, predictable and otherwise. I heard one reporter start her story with "From 'The Simple Life' to the prison life." And I can't tell you how may times I heard "the hotel heiress is trading in her designer duds for prison duds."

    The day had the occasional surreal moment, as when the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department released not one but two mug shots of the newest inmate. Apparently the first one was taken after her 2006 arrest. Oops! The department quickly ordered a retraction.

    My surreal moment came Sunday during the jail's visiting hours, when I went to use the restroom. A young girl handed me a paper napkin with some scribblings on it. It said, "Everyone has been cleared to make way for Paris. She has fresh clean sheets and her cell is close to the TV."

    Apparently, some of the inmates were not happy with the hotel heiress' impending arrival, thinking she might be getting preferential treatment. As one woman who was there to visit an inmate hollered at the crowd of reporters, "Why are you all here? She's not so special!"

    The "not so special" Paris Hilton is expected to be released on June 26. And, as usual, the paparazzi and dozens of media outlets will more than likely be in tow.
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