Dalton Ross on Wesley Snipes’ troubles
Wesley Snipes may always bet on black, but it seems his luck may have finally run out. The Sniper, as I like to call him, was indicted last week on eight counts of tax fraud. According to the charges, Snipes didn’t file federal income tax returns from 1999-2004, and attempted to defraud the government of around $12 million in taxes. The best part about this whole story is that Snipes was not arrested, because U.S. Attorney Paul I. Perez said he didn’t know where the actor was! Which is pretty appropriate, considering that outside of the Blade trilogy, Snipes’ career has been pretty MIA for the past decade.
It’s kind of sad, actually, because this is a guy who started his career playing cool characters with even cooler names. He showed up in Miami Vice as a dude named Silk; as Mini Max, he was able to keep a straight face while Michael Jackson danced around a subway station in the surreal video for ''Bad''; and then he absolutely killed as Major League’s Willie Mays Hayes. (His oddest character name, of course, comes from Jungle Fever — Flipper Purify. It makes him sound like a freakin’ dolphin aquarium.)
The point is, my man had it goin’ on: He could do comedies (White Man Can’t Jump), socially relevant films (the aforementioned Jungle Fever), and, of course, truly awesome Die Hard rip-offs (the ridiculously genius Passenger 57). But somewhere along the way, it all went bad. Sure, 1993’s Demolition Man royally sucked, but Snipes’ cool blond dye job did inspire Dennis Rodman to start coloring his hair, so at least that outing retains some sort of historical significance. 1994’s Drop Zone wasn’t any better, but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to dis a movie about skydiving — especially when one of the skydivers in question is none other than Mr. Noodle from Sesame Street (Michael Jeter, RIP).
No, if you had to pinpoint exactly when it all went wrong, I suppose you’d have to look no further than a little something I like to call To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. Playing Noxeema Jackson (again with the fabulous names!), Snipes makes perhaps the least convincing drag queen to ever grace the silver screen. And outside of the Blade movies — which certainly have their moments, none of which are really because of the actor — he has done nothing of note since… unless you consider Futuresport, The Detonator, and 7 Seconds to be quality films, and if you do, might I suggest you upgrade to the Jean-Claude Van Damme or Jeff Speakman libraries?
The good news is, Snipes has been found! In Namibia! Apparently, he is filming something there called Gollowwalker (character name: Kaos). Namibia has no extradition treaty with the U.S., so presumably, as long as this intricate masterpiece keeps filming, he’s safe! Who knows? This could end up being the longest shoot for a direct-to-DVD title since Road House 2: Last Call. (Truth be told, I have no idea how long that took to film, but it is so damn good, it must have taken at least a good 26 months, and that’s a conservative estimate.)
Here’s hoping The Sniper finds a way out of this judicial jam and stops squandering his talent in cheesy action movies. He could serve up to 16 years in prison if convicted on all the charges, but whenever he does end up back in the country and out of jail, I have a script for a bitchin’Wildcats sequel with his name on it.
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
For some reason, sports dramas often do well at the box office, but are pretty much always ignored on TV. It’s likely the latest casualty will be NBC’s Friday Night Lights. Adapted form the movie (which was adapted from the book), Friday Night Lights doesn’t look or sound like anything else on TV. Which is the problem. Whether viewers merely share an aversion to shaky-cam, or find the 318 hours of real football being aired every week more than enough, it seems the Texan teen pigskin drama is facing a fourth and long. There are no conspiracies. No hardboiled cops. No way-too-attractive medical geniuses. Just some normal teens in a normal town, on a show that no one outside the offices of EW seems to be watching. Hell, I’ve barely gotten over ESPN’s Playmakers being canceled and now this? Do yourself a favor and check this show out — while you still can.
Last week I listed The 5 Best HBO Shows Ever There was plenty of feedback on what did and did not make the list. I expect similar comments and complaints as I present this week’s List: The 5 Worst HBO Shows Ever.
1) Lucky Louie (2006)
It’s sad putting this at the top (or is it the bottom?) of the list. Louis C.K. is a funny comedian, but his HBO sitcom was simply excruciating. His attempt was to create a conventional sitcom structure with the twist being that the characters were all potty-mouthed. In the potty is right where this thing belonged.
2) K Street (2003)
Half of the D.C. lobbyists were real, half were fake, all of it was confusing and pretentious. I expected more from Steven Soderbergh. Then again, he did also direct Ocean’s Twelve, so maybe that was my mistake.
3) Arli$$ (1996-2002)
Go rent Jerry Maguire instead. Not that I even love that movie, but as far as sports-agent comedies go, it is a hell of a lot better than this.
4) The Mind of the Married Man (2001-2002)
HBO’s first failed attempt to create a Sex & the City for men, except this was filled with unlikable characters cheating on their wives.
5) 1st & Ten (1984-1990)
Another ”gem” from the HBO sports-comedy canon. How this kooky football comedy lasted seven seasons in beyond me. Bonus points for having O.J. Simpson in the cast, however.
You readers are Sex obsessed! Sex & the City, that is. I was predictably blasted by you all for leaving the show off my list of top HBO entries last week. No room to print all the hate mail, so you’ll just have to let Sarah Millar do your blasting for you…
DALTON, WHAT IS WITH YOU??? No Sex and the City on your HBO list — are you daft, man?!?!? I have read your column religiously for weeks, your Survivor TV Watch for years, and even got people to subscribe to the mag after you wrote your article about being on Exile Island… I guess if I ever get my dream internship at EW, my high-fiving homie might have to be Doc Jensen, instead of a certain Gluttonist. Tsk-tsk is all I have to say, Dalton. Tsk-tsk. — Sarah Millar
First off, Sarah, think twice before high-fiving Jensen. Any high-five must be accompanied by a 40-minute lecture on the mythology of either Lost or Heroes. (Your pick. You can also choose a combo swirl option, but that’s a minimum 70-minute commitment, so choose wisely.) As for Carrie Bradshaw and company, I recognize it is a show that was important to a lot of women (even my wife loves it), but I am not a woman, and these characters didn’t particularly seem like the type of women I would want to hang out with. Now, watch me coyly shield myself from any more criticism by deflecting your attention to a woman named Lisa…
In my opinion it’s blasphemous to only give Oz and Entourage an honorable mention, but THANK YOU for leaving Sex and the City off. Overrated, overrated, overrated. A bunch of superficial women obsessed with sex (fine), but apparently who weren’t good enough at it to keep anyone around. Sad. — Lisa
Again, please address all future hate mail to Lisa, c/o The Glutton. In fact, all those other things about this column that have enraged you? She made me do it.
Thank you for acknowledging that Six Feet Under was not the amazing show everyone wants it to be. Although I would go farther than you and say after the second season it became pretentious crap and that the only reason people liked it was because they felt they were supposed to like it. I hope in the future when people watch it they will see the show for what it was. All too pleased with itself without actually moving the plot forward and replacing unique characters with depressed people. — Alec
I basically agree with most of what you say, Alec. I think it was a show that started with great promise but pretty quickly went off track. As I mentioned, that carjacking episode is one of the worst episodes of any series that I have ever seen — and that includes Snoops, Homeboys in Outer Space, and the entire run of Shasta McNasty.
I am deeply wounded by your ”under a rock (or in North Dakota)” line. I have been a faithful EW reader and always enjoy your columns, and I am from (gasp) NORTH DAKOTA! Contrary to popular belief, this is not a black hole for modern civilization and pop culture. We have all the available media that everyone else in this country has! I am assuming that you, like most people, have never been here. So this is my personal invitation to you to come and visit good old ND and see for yourself that buffalo do not roam the (paved!) streets. I will happily act as your tour guide with the hope that the unfortunate stereotype that you have perpetuated may be improved upon a little. Just be sure when making your travel arrangements that you reserve your horse and buggy way in advance. They book up fast!! — Kari Peters
Kari, the amount of effort it takes to get me to leave the NY/NJ area is legendary, so I can’t promise to take you up on your kind offer, but I can promise to never, ever again mock your fair state. So get ready, South Dakota — it is so on!!!
Thank you so much for NOT caring about Madonna and her kids. The rabid foaming over her and her adopted son is WAY over-the-top for me. Maybe it’s because I know that there are thousands and thousands of kids out there waiting to be adopted and so many parents who WANT to adopt but are frustrated by the process and the prohibitive costs. Or maybe it’s just because I really don’t care what kids Madonna has, or what pet Paris Hilton has (just why exactly do we care about Paris Hilton anyway?), or what Britney Spears uses on Sean Preston’s diaper rash. To me, that’s all about as newsworthy as what is IN Sean Preston’s diaper. — Joni Bentley
Great e-mail, Joni! (You’re not from South Dakota, are you?) Celebrity worship is creepy enough. Caring so much about infants (adopted and otherwise) to me is beyond flabbergasting. I just don’t get it, but then again, I didn’t get Sex and the City either.
”Paul McCartney Meatless Chicken Nuggets” is easily the funniest thing I have read, seen, heard, or otherwise ingested in a long time. And so I’ve come out of longtime lurker/non-e-mailer status to join you on your epic ”Get Sued by a Beatle” quest by changing my dog’s name to Paul McCartney Meatless Chicken Nuggets. It’s not much, but I don’t have the start-up capital for a nugget empire right now. If it only gets me sued by you and your team of legal eagles, I’ll deal. — Abby Penning
Thanks for the kind words, Abby, although realize that by naming your dog Paul McCartney Meatless Chicken Nuggets, you run the risk of having people assuming it to be some sort of over-the-top Bob Barkeresque neuter-your-pet campaign. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that ”chicken nuggets” could refer to his?well, you know, and ”meatless” could imply that a little snip-snip had taken place. And it just hit me that I am dwelling on dog genitalia for waaaaaaaaaaaay too long.
Have any career advice for Wesley Snipes? Loving or loathing Friday Night Lights? And which HBO show doesn’t deserve to be in the bottom five? Send all your questions, comments, and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!