Dalton Ross on the obsession with celebrity babies
I am a horrible person. Horrible because I’m a baby-hating monster. Of course, that’s not entirely true. I have two kids. They’re pretty cute, I suppose — except when you spend an hour making them a nice dinner and they refuse to stay in their seats and eat a single bite, and then they start STICKING THE PEAS UP THEIR NOSES AND DRIVE YOU UP THE F—ING WALL WITH THEIR CONSTANT… Okay, okay, sorry about that. Got a little off-topic there. The point is, kids are cool enough. I like mine. I like my friends’. I like when that cute boy on the train always sticks his hands on his nose and starts wiggling his fingers at me. Good stuff, all around. But do you know what I want no part of? Celebrities’ kids. You’d have to be living under a rock (or in North Dakota) to not have been assaulted the past week with information about Madonna’s adoption of a 13-month-old boy from Malawi. Good for Madonna. Lord knows she has the means to take in a needy child, so I give her a big Glutton high-five (the specifics of which I still need to work out with No. 1 homie Stephen King) for doing so. Does that mean we need paparazzi chasing the baby through airports to sneak candid photos? Apparently so. It appears our obsession with celebrities now extends beyond the actual celebrities themselves to their children and even their pets. (Can we just pause for the cause and consider the fact that Paris Hilton’s dog, Tinkerbell, has written a book?)
At least Madonna to this point seems like she is trying to remain rather low-key about the entire affair. (A first for her, perhaps.) Of course, I thought Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were doing the same thing. For months, I found myself in the somewhat bizarre position of actually defending the couple. I’d constantly hear about what freaks they were for keeping their baby in hiding and how Suri must have four eyes and no nose, but I always felt that if I were some famous person who got paid millions of dollars to battle CGI aliens that I would want to keep my offspring as far away from that soul-sucking spotlight as possible. (Of course, this is coming from a guy who pimped his children out to do record and TV reviews in a national magazine, so take that with several tons of salt.) In any event, I thought Tom and Katie were being noble by actually allowing their daughter a modicum of privacy. But then came the Vanity Fair photo spectacular. The 4-month-old baby was on the cover! And then everywhere inside. (So much for nobility and modesty.) And that’s all everyone could talk about. Hell, I’m still writing about it! I’m not sure what’s more depressing: the baby-stalking paparazzi, the celebs who not only allow but sell pictures of their children to the highest bidder, or those of us who encourage such behavior by constantly obsessing over it. I suppose we’re all at fault. But in this day and age, it is a lot easier to just blame things on Cruise, isn’t it?
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
Paul McCartney recently applied to trademark his name for food and apparel items. What does this mean? It means if you try to put out your own brand of delicious Paul McCartney Meatless Chicken Nuggets, not only would be you responsible for an oxymoron of epic proportions, but you could also get yourself sued by the living legend. That would actually be kind of cool. I’ve been working at Entertainment Weekly for almost seven years now. In that time, I have — hmmm… how should I put this? — written a few things that have ruffled a few feathers. There have been some angry phone calls from network publicists (especially back when I was writing What to Watch), a bizarrely tense conversation with Gary Busey, and let’s just say Mischa Barton and Amanda Peet are probably not gonna be having me over for tea and cookies anytime soon. But so far I have managed to avoid having the ultimate Hollywood action taken against me, which is to say, I haven’t been sued. Maybe it’s because I’ve just been lucky, or maybe it’s that not-so-inconspicuous army of Time Warner lawyers lined up behind me just waiting to do battle. Whatever the reason, I have managed so far to come out lawsuit-free. But if you’re gonna get sued, getting sued by a Beatle is the way to go. I mean, something for the scrapbook at the very least. Of course, I wouldn’t need to steal his name for a line of succulent soy products to get sued. I could also…I don’t know, spread lots of nasty little lies, like that he has a bizarre gnome fetish, has been known to break-dance naked, or even that he — horror of horrors! — enjoys the occasional bacon cheeseburger. (And sometimes even rubs the meat over his naked, break-dancing body!) It’s become my new obsession, in fact: Get sued by Paul McCartney! (Falling somewhere on the obsession list between ”Buy Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum” and ”Shine Rudy Ray Moore’s shoes.”) With any luck, it may be happening as you read.
”It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” I never understood what that stupid slogan meant. Guess what? If it’s a TV channel, and I’m watching it on my TV, then — ta-da! — it’s TV. Still, HBO has put some truly fine programming on the air, most of it in the past decade. (They’re also responsible for some serious swill, which we will get into next week.) So let’s pay tribute to The 5 Best HBO Shows Ever:
1) The Sopranos
To make this list, shows must not only be great, but great for a long period of time (which is why you won’t find Six Feet Under on it; loved the first few seasons, couldn’t watch it again after the horrible David carjacking episode). True, the first 12 episodes of The Sopranos‘ season 6 were not so hot, but the first five seasons still hold up remarkably well. The ultimate touchstone show.
2) The Wire
What can I say that I — and every other critic — have not said before? It doesn’t matter: You’re still not watching!
3) Mr. Show
So twisted. So genius. Find me a sketch show as consistently funny as this one and I’ll buy you a Mr. Pibb.
4) The Larry Sanders Show
The program that started the whole inside-the-industry phenomenon (a well HBO has gone to time and time again with Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, The Comeback, Unscripted, and Extras). Has there ever been a character as hilarious as Hank Kingsley?
Any show that uses the word c—sucker 38 times in a single episode simply can not — and will not — be denied.
Honorable mentions: Da Ali G Show, Entourage (tons of fun, but a little too uneven from episode to episode), Oz (everything pre-advanced aging drug testing), Curb Your Enthusiasm (everything pre-Producers arc), and Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel (everything except Gumbel).
I remember while writing last week’s column about the closing of CBGB at one point thinking to myself, I wonder if anyone besides me gives a crap about this. The answer, it turns out, is no, as people were much more interested in writing in about Battlestar Galactica and my list of the Top 5 Secondary Superheroes of the Challenge of the Superfriends. We’ll get to those in a bit, but first, a brief word from a witness to history…
Back in the ’70s I hung out at CBGB often. I have seen many a great show there, the Ramones being my faves. The one show that blew my mind was when I and some friends went to see a new group called Blondie, and the lead singer did the whole show in a see-through negligee and pretty pink panties!!! A young man’s dream come true!! To this day I have a huge crush on Debbie Harry. Goodbye, CBGB; there will never be another. — Neil
Neil, I think it is safe to say that I have never been more jealous in my entire life as I was reading your letter. I mean, to see the legendary Ramones at CBGB is truly… Oh, who am I kidding? I am all about Debbie Harry in a see-through negligee! Interesting side note: I remember getting into a huge fight with someone in third grade because I kept insisting that her actual name was Blondie, not Debbie Harry, and my foe kept insisting I was an idiot.
I am a total Battlestar Galactica geek! And there is another one in my office. And guess what — we are both women! And we came to love it independently — i.e. one of us did not get the other to watch. Why do we LOVE Battlestar Galactica? We are really, really cool and smart. Which makes me think — maybe there are only be 2.2 million cool, smart people in the U.S.? Must be. — Stacey DeRoche
Stacey, anyone who goes with a capital letter in the middle of their name is cool in my book. Honestly, I don’t get why more people haven’t gotten into the show. I know I get funny looks around town when I sport my Battlestar hoodie, but then again, I get those pretty much no matter what I wear. I suppose not everyone can be a fan. Stephanie Montgomery certainly isn’t…
The Battlestar Galactica issue marks the first time I’ve not read an EW cover story in the 10 years I’ve been a subscriber. That show is for l-o-s-e-r-s. — Stephanie Montgomery
Really, Stephanie? That’s too bad, because I thought it was a fantastic story (written by Jeff Jensen) on a fantastic show. But on the flip side, I’m happy to hear you have taken such pleasure from our in-depth cover stories on Hanson, the Backstreet Boys, and, of course, the incomparable Dean Cain. Carry on!
Are you kidding? You have Gleek on your Superheroes list, but you leave out Samurai? You leave out “Kaze no Yoooooo ni Hayaku!” and he turns into a raging tornado? You leave him out for a friggin’ MONKEY? Shame on you. — Neil
Ah, Samurai. Rest assured, Neil, he was considered for The List, but I figured that in between Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, and El Dorado, we already had our ethnic-stereotype superhero quota pretty much covered. Plus, all he could do was manipulate wind. Kinda weak, in my opinion.
Just as a FYI, since I offer no intriguing insights into ’80s metal nor Superfriends, milkmen indeed do exist! I married mine and we still have milk delivered. So quaint… — Angela Anderson
Here, Angela, is the point in the column where I try my best to refrain from asking you if your milkman husband made a ”special delivery,” if you know what I’m sayin’. In any event, I love that milkmen are still out there and marrying up all the Glutton readers they can find. So to all you single fellas lookin’ for love, try packing a little 2%.
Can’t get enough of celebrity babies? Have any suggestions for ways to infuriate Sir Paul? Think I flubbed my HBO list? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill out the handy-dandy order form below. See ya next week!