Dalton Ross on Prince's new gig: the Super Bowl!
Well, it's December, and that means a few things it means it's time to spend ungodly amounts of cash for a Christmas tree that will stay in my living room for a mere two weeks. It means it is time to be assaulted by a barrage of holiday specials, but I already got into that last week. And it means that my beloved Washington Redskins have already been eliminated from playoff contention. So, for the 15th straight year, the Deadskins will not be playing in the Super Bowl. But you can bet I'll be watching, because it was just announced this week that the halftime musical act will be none other than... Prince! And all I can say is, have the folks at the NFL lost their minds?!? We are less than three years removed from the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake Nipplegate, and now the league not to mention CBS, the same network responsible for the cheese nip is signing up Prince to entertain an audience of approximately 1 billion people from more than 230 countries? When exactly did the National Football League get so damn funky?
Don't get me wrong. I love Prince. I saw him on the Purple Rain tour when I was a youngster and convinced myself I got a contact high from all the people smoking weed around me, even though I didn't really know what weed and contact highs were. I own not only a ridiculous number of Prince albums, but singles, boxed sets, B-sides, and bootlegs as well. But Prince is... well, how should I put this?... a tad unpredictable. This is a guy who threw a big middle finger to big business by changing his name to a freakin' hieroglyphic and writing ''Slave'' on his face. And in case you didn't notice, it doesn't get more big-business than the NFL. And whatever happened to the kinder, gentler halftime entertainment in the aftermath of the Jackson-Timberlake fiasco? I believe the answer is Paul McCartney. The former Beatle was the safe choice in 2005 for the halftime act, and he played a predictable, safe set that was almost as boring as watching the New England Patriots win another championship. (Sorry, Pats fans, but c'mon share the wealth!) Even the league realized what a downer it was and tried to get all edgy the following year by signing up the Rolling Stones, whose hipness and danger were last spotted hanging out with the Hells Angels at Altamont.
So how do we get from there to Prince, a singer who once promised to and this is where it's about to get a little blue, ladies and gentlemen, so if you are easily offended by song lyrics, I beg you to go elsewhere on the site ''f--- the taste out of your mouth''? (Interesting side note: On the way to that Purple Rain show, we were listening and singing along to ''Let's Pretend We're Married'' in the car, and I thoroughly embarrassed myself by assuming the lyrics to be ''I wanna f--- the toast out of your mouth,'' which, truth be told, I kinda like more.) Of course, this lyric was no isolated incident. Might I direct your attention to Exhibit A: ''Erotic City.'' You know what, I don't even need to reprint the lyrics here. Suffice it to say Prince and Apollonia are talking about doing things to each other which I'm pretty sure CBS doesn't want to broadcast on national television. And then there is ''Darling Nikki,'' in which Prince talks about a woman who spends a little quality time with herself while perusing the pages of a certain periodical. And then there is ''SMF'' the first two letters of which stand for sexy and mother. I'll let you figure out what the third is short for. And then there is ''Come,'' which climaxes, if you will, with a woman simulating an orgasm. At least I hope she is simulating. With Prince, you never really know.
I could go on and on. The basically naked pull-out poster of Prince in the shower that came as an insert on Controversy. The promise to perform ''23 positions in a one-night stand'' on ''Gett Off.'' (As anyone who's ever attended a Prince show will tell you, the man does have stamina.) The infamous Black Album, which was so dark and twisted that he actually declined to release it (opting to put out Lovesexy instead, which featured you guessed it a picture of him absolutely naked on the cover). Of course, my favorite Prince moment of all was when he performed on the MTV Video Music Awards in a pair of buttless pants. (And how do two Prince ass cheeks stand up against one Janet nipple, anyway? Sort of a draw, I think.)
Of course, I feign shock over the league's decision to sign up the Purple One, but having such an unpredictable presence as the musical act is actually pretty exciting. Truthfully, I don't expect him to bust out tunes like ''Dirty Mind' or ''Sexuality,'' especially considering his new kinder, gentler image since becoming a Jehovah's Witness. But you know what? I'll have the toast ready. Just in case.
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
Some of you may recall me writing a few weeks back about wacky Wesley Snipes and his trouble with the law. Well, it seems The Sniper has run out of ammo... or at least African nations in which to hide. Snipes who was a fugitive for two months after being charged with trying to cheat the IRS finally turned himself in to authorities in Orlando and then pleaded not guilty before being released on $1 million bond. He then flew back to Africa to finish making some film called Gallowwalker, which I can pretty much guarantee will not even make back the bond money. ''I look forward to clearing my name and resolving this issue post haste,'' said Snipes. It's hard not to like a guy who uses the phrase ''post haste,'' so I'm still rooting for The Sniper, and will continue to follow both this case and Gallowwalker obsessively.
Pretty soon, in our year-end issue, you will get to see what critics Gillian Flynn and Ken Tucker consider to be their Top 10 TV shows of the year. I'm only half as important as they are, so I guess I'll have to keep my list to five. So without further ado, I present The Top Five TV Shows of 2006.
1) Battlestar Galactica
To all the non-believers and holdouts: Yes, it is a show that takes place in outer space get over it! It's also the only show that deals with both sides of hot-button topics like abortion, political corruption, and suicide bombing. No other program tackles as many off-limits subjects, except maybe...
2) The Wire
I don't know if I agree with everyone else that this was the best season yet seasons 1 and 3 are also pretty sick but putting the education system under the microscope was a gutsy move that paid massive dramatic dividends.
3) Broken Trail
Call me crazy you wouldn't be the first but this could be Robert Duvall's greatest acting yet. This AMC miniseries actually meant that the incredible Deadwood was only the second-most gripping Western on TV in 2006. Catch it on DVD if you missed it. You won't be sorry, pardner.
4) The Office
Yes, the whole Jim & Pam thing kinda hijacked the show for a while there, but this is still the biggest gut-buster on TV.
5) Rescue Me
After suffering through a way-too-dark and depressing season 2, the Denis Leary firefighting drama got back to having some fun along the way in season 3. The proper laugh-to-cry ratio has always been key to this show's success, and it was right on the money with the funny. But as Tommy's ''rape'' of his ex-wife demonstrated, the show still wasn't afraid of tackling the tough stuff.
Honorable mentions (or: My Way of Cheating and Getting Up to 10 like Gillian and Ken): Heroes, 24, Friday Night Lights, Deadwood, Brotherhood
Sides have been taken, people! A lot of you sounded off on both good and bad holiday specials. Even more of you had opinions to share regarding my list of The Five Worst Comic Book Superhero Movies Ever. Several people took me to task rightfully so, I might add for leaving the David Hasselhoff epic Nick Fury: Agent of Shield off my list, but I suppose I can skate on the technicality that it never actually played here in theaters. (Then again, neither did Captain America, or the first Punisher.) In any event, let's move on to more important topics, like the sexual preference of elves!
How dare you diss Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, co-staring Hermey the elf with the fabulous hair who taught kids all over the world that it was okay to be gay, and gave the gay tween set their ''I Will Survive'' in ''I Am Not Just a Misfit''? It was and always will be the best holiday movie ever. Bryan Pippin
You know, I did sort of wonder if Hermey and Yukon Cornelius did a little extra cuddling in that dollhouse sleepover on the Island of Misfit Toys, but that is pure speculation, my friend. Pure speculation.
I wholeheartedly agree with your putting It's a Wonderful Life on your list. People may disagree with me, but I've always categorized it as the perfect movie, since absolutely every moment, every scene, every line in it leads up to the one line in the end: ''To my brother George Bailey, the richest man in town.'' It is a movie about friendship, which is an abstract concept as it is, and difficult to define because it is made up of things we don't do rather than do. This movie defines it perfectly for me. Thank you for your wonderful and very funny thoughts on it. Jessica Rouke
I agree, Jessica. I have watched this film 100 times and will watch it 100 more. The interesting thing about it, and something that EW.com head honcho Jay Woodruff was pointing out just the other day, is that the movie isn't just cutesy and schmaltzy. It's also really dark. That scene in the bar where they start squirting seltzer in poor old Mr. Gower's face is just plain nasty, and when you see Jimmy Stewart after not being recognized by his own mother running down the front steps to within inches of the camera and turning his head slowly from side to side... well, that's about as creepy as it comes. Plus, let's not forget that this is a movie about a guy trying to kill himself! It's what makes that happy ending all the more powerful.
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hate the movie Hellboy. Despise it. You couldn't pay me enough to see it again. (Okay, the truth is that I'd watch it again for a quick $500. So I'm cheap. But I still despise the movie.) I commented to my comic-geek husband that you put it on your list of best comic superhero movies and how you must be smoking crack, only to discover that he feels the same as you that it IS one of the best! He says, ''Regardless of whether or not you liked the film, it IS a great adaptation of the comic.'' Whatever. Clearly I know more than he. Joni
What's wrong with smoking crack?
How could Superman IV not make that list of worst comic book superhero movies? Even Ned Beatty decided that this film was beneath him. Nuclear Man? How lazy could the writers possible get? Then again, how did Lois Lane survive in outer space? Maybe is was stupidity and not laziness. This definitely beat both Punishers and Elektra. Zach Zimmer
You mean you're not down with the Quest for Peace? Okay, that movie is pretty horrible even worse than Superman III but if any Super title deserves to be skewered it is definitely Supergirl. That really was the beginning of the end for Faye Dunaway.
I am OFFENDED by your worst superhero movies list. As bad as they all were, none of them can match the awfulness of the 1986 bomb Howard the Duck, which made several ''worst movie of the year'' lists and even won a Razzie for worst picture of the year. The movie actually featured Leah Thompson kissing a DUCK. Bestiality vs. a poorly done, straight-to-video Captain America? Bestiality vs. The Punisher? Bestiality, I'd argue, was even worse than the unwatchable Elektra. How could you leave out one of Marvel's first (and worst, I'm talking ''worse than The Hulk) attempts at a comic book movie? Enrique Fernandez Roberts
Howard the Duck remains the only film I have ever voluntarily walked out on in my entire life. But it's hard to consider a stupid duck as a true superhero, so I eliminated it on technical grounds. I'd like to eliminate that piece of garbage in a million others ways as well.
Speaking of things ending, this week's Glutton marks the last column of the year. Thanks to everyone for playing along. It's been a blast writing this and getting all your intelligent and humorous e-mails. By all means keep 'em coming. Even though I only get a chance to respond to a few each week, they are all read and appreciated. I'll be back in January, at which time we'll have a special, super-secret Glutton surprise to announce a surprise that is possible thanks to your support. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back... even though you have no idea what the hell I'm talking about. If you have a comment about Prince, The Sniper, or my Top 5 TV Shows of 2006, you know what to do shoot an e-mail over to email@example.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. I'll respond to those and reveal the surprise! on Jan. 3. Happy Holidays!