Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rosie O'Donnell; Regency Noir (yes)

Ed here: There was a time when Rosie O'Donnell was actually fun to watch. Way back in the mid-eighties she was one of the faces on VHI and she armed herself with gently sarcastic comments on pop culture of various kinds. She was a very appealing young woman.

It wasn't difficult to imagine her background. She was the Catholic school girl who endured her years surrounded by people who paid her no attention at all. The prettier ones, the wealthier ones, the more accomplished ones. But it's easy to imagine that she kept her daydream burning bright no matter how dificult her personal life became. And by God she became a major star.

VHI, movies, her talk show and then...And then it was as if she became consumed by all the bitterness she must have felt growing up. To be honest I found her talk show cloying but I sure prefered it to the train wreck that was to come. I've always sensed her rage and pain. Even the blandest of her turns on VHI couldn't hide them. But until she left her talk show they were the coin of her particular realm. They were what she had in common with much of her audience, female and male alike. A tough background, a face and figure that wouldn't get her a lot of call backs from casting directors and a self-deprecating humor that showed she was able to rise above her grief. But then her grief became a weapon. She started clubbing people with it.

I didn't watch her show last night. I got tired of her a long time ago. But as soon as I heard she was fronting a variety show I started to wonder what kind of network wizard had come up with the idea. Or greenlighted it. Add one more to the growing unemployment line, in this case well deserved. I feel sorry for Rosie. She is aggrieved and there seems to be no stanching it. She rants on her website, she rants on her guest shots and--as Alessandra Stanley below notes, she even mildly rants on her variety show. It's hard to imagine where she goes from here. For a long time I prefered her to Oprah because she was willing to take risks with her persona. But right now Oprah's sanctimoniousness looks pretty good to me.

Published: November 27, 2008
Rosie O'Donnell's Wednesday night special on NBC, "Rosie Live," was supposed to be a tribute to the variety shows of the 1970s, but she added a Nixonian twist: Christmas songs, tap-dancing twins and an enemies list.

In between skits, celebrity cameos and hokey novelty acts, the legendarily thin-skinned Ms. O'Donnell found time to take potshots at some of her favorite targets, including Donald Trump, Nancy Grace and Bill O'Reilly. She left out Barbara Walters, with whom Ms. O'Donnell has been feuding ever since Ms. O'Donnell left "The View," perhaps reluctant to draw attention to Ms. Walters's interview with Barack and Michelle Obama on ABC the same night. (Even that Barbara Walters special had a '70s feel, as Ms. Walters reprised her famous interview with Jimmy Carter, asking President-elect Obama if he intended to personally turn off the lights in the White House to conserve energy.)

Ms. O'Donnell's self-referential swats at detractors were light, but they clashed with the context, lending a hard, contemporary edge to what was intended to be a corny, heartfelt homage to variety shows of yesteryear, like "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" and "The Carol Burnett Show." So did her bizarre product-placement duet with Jane Krakowski, a star of the NBC comedy "30 Rock," who performed a sultry striptease in front of a giant monitor flashing images of White Castle hamburgers, BlackBerrys and Crest Whitestrips.

for the rest go here:

----------REGENCY NOIR
This piece by sf writer Jo Walton was on I thought it was interesting.

Jo Walton

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Fallen Woman of good family must, soon or late, descend to whoredom.
Sarah Tolerance is a Fallen Woman of good family—instead of making a proper marriage she ran away years ago with her brother’s fencing instructor. She doesn’t want to be a whore, so she makes a living as a private investigator in a Regency London that’s just a little different from the Regency London you think you know.

The very idea is delightful—noir detective crossed with Georgette Heyer.

Point of Honor (2003) and Petty Treason (2004) follow the adventures of Sarah Tolerance as she solves her cases in the Queen Regent’s England. They’re charming, with just the right degree of mystery, adventure, period detail and romance. The mysteries are mysterious enough to keep the plot going as Sarah moves between the underworld and the upper classes. They’re more reminiscent of Kate Ross than anything else I can think of.

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