I Suppose If I Had Suggested Liam Neeson Day, You’d All Be Patting Me on the Back!

Links today:

there still hasn't been a liam neeson day at yankee stadium, by the by.

Fascinating box office weekend because for me, Liam Neeson has had one of the most interesting movie careers of this generation of movie stars. Up until 1999, Neeson had about a 20-year career playing ordinary guys. Good actor, good parts, Oscar nominated for Schindler’s List in a role that could have defined his career, but never able to break through to the A-plus list and never, ever was thought of as an action star. Then he nails Phantom Menace and he starts the second phase of his career — the mentor stage. He somehow became the go-to actor for anything where a young up-and-comer needed philosophical/spiritual guidance (Phantom Menace, Batman Begins, the Narnia series). Then in 2009 he made Taken, and suddenly he became a bankable action star to the point that action movies are all he makes anymore. I’m still in awe of it. The guy chasing Mallory Keaton in Satisfaction? He’s a top-10 action star now? Doesn’t compute. But it looks like anytime there is a so-so action script that has the potential to be released in January or February, Neeson’s agent will get a call.

hot, yeah. interesting, no.

The other two releases of the weekend didn’t work out so well. Apparently we have Hollywood’s permission to start talking about Katherine Heigl being washed up at the ripe old age of 33, five years after she was everyone’s it girl. I think I speak for all men when I say I haven’t seen her in anything since 27 Dresses (yes, I watched 27 Dresses, and it was as bad as you would think). And I hated her in Knocked Up, she played a pretty big part in dragging that movie to the sixth circle of Hell. So I wouldn’t care if she stuck around, went away or did a little of both. I’ve managed to ignore her this long, I’m pretty sure I can continue to do it, Groupon special or no Groupon special. Apparently Groupon beats movie reviewers since this movie had a big fat zero on RottenTomatoes on Saturday until some guy threw up a lukewarm review that was deemed positive.

What’s more surprising than the toilet-bowling of Heigl’s career is the failure of Man on a Ledge. Sure, we’ve seen this kind of movie before (Phone Booth, Inside Man), but it got a pretty big marketing push. You couldn’t avoid the commercials, and it even got its own SportsCenter feature for last month (“Let’s see … who’s on the edge!!!“). But in every one of those ads, the only person you saw for more than a split second was Sam Worthington. And until he started showing up on talk shows the last week, I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out of a police lineup. Yup, I’ve still managed to avoid Avatar, thank you very much. So depending on how you view Worthington, Man on a Ledge was a starless movie that we’ve already seen. That equals an $8.3 million opening these days.

I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU IT WAS A DUMB IDEAD!!! AHHHHHHHHH!!!

No, no, Rainn Wilson, you had it right the first time — a show about Dwight as the manager of the Schrute Farms bed and breakfast is pretty dumb. It was in 2008 when they said they were talking about it, and it is now. If they were talking about it in 2008, then it would seem the episode where Jim and Pam stayed there for a night would have served as the back-door pilot to the spinoff, the episode of a show that introduces the new show. It also gave us one of the 10 funniest Office moments — Mose racing Jim and Pam’s car up the driveway. It also set off a fake Trip Advisor site dedicated to Schrute Farms. But the ratings on NBC’s Thursday comedy lineup are just horrible, and it’s been that way for a couple years now. The only show that has managed to keep getting good ratings is The Office. There have probably been people at NBC saying, “It too bad we just couldn’t play The Office all night.” Well, now you can if you make a Dwight spinoff. I imagine it would kind of be like Frasier was to Cheers. With The Office now in its seventh season, it’s got to end at some point. A Dwight show would be the logical choice to take its place when it’s gone.

TV has changed. You just can’t make the same kind of money you did 20 years ago because there will never be a show like Seinfeld again where you were guaranteed to have 20 million viewers every week. Even American Idol is coming back to earth. You just can’t charge as much for advertising anymore, so you have to make that money up somewhere else. The avenue most TV shows are going to — product placement. It’s cold, manipulative and heartless — but it’s also what’s keeping your favorite shows on the air. It’s getting more and more extreme and in-your-face, and at some point, it will become blatantly obtrusive. But there are times you’re not even going to realize it, like the example cited in The Middle. I watched the episode, but until I read someone pointing out about how bad it was, I didn’t even notice it. What I took from that episode was what turned out to be the most damning evidence so far that I may actually be Mike Heck (“Colt’s aren’t in the Super Bowl? Then I don’t care.”). And even though I have a new Volkswagen Passat sitting in my driveway that I didn’t need and can’t afford, what’s the harm? (I don’t really have a Passat, btw). The hope is the creative process of any show won’t be stifled by sponsor/network/corporate interference, instead just making it one big ad. I don’t think The Middle crossed the line.

At least some people aren’t bothering to allow for any questions about whether their intentions are for money or integrity. Matthew Broderick wants everyone to know — if you come up with a bunch of dough, he’ll do the Ferris Bueller thing again.

So what’s worse in the eyes of the Integrity Police? Someone like Will Smith who has made moves to make seuqels/prequels of all his biggest characters for full-length movies? Or Broderick who takes probably about $500,000 (total guess) to make a two-minute commercial starring Broderick as an adult version of Ferris Bueller? I’m going with Will Smith. At least Broderick is making it clear he’s out for the money. When Independence Day 2 comes out five years from now, Smith will say things like, “The fans wouldn’t let this movie die, and I wanted to give them what they want.” He, however, won’t be able to hear the actual fans as he cleans out his ears with Q-Tips made out of $100 bills.

Big night for The Help at the SAG Awards, getting the best cast award and two actresses winning their categories. Not sure if this puts The Help in the discussion for best picture, but I’d still keep it at best as a distant third (15-1 odds) behind The Artist (3-2) and The Descendants (5-1). Just checked an odds-making site, and  Hugo is actually in third position, but The Help may have surpassed it Sunday night.

I’m pretty much not trusting TV comedy people anymore, but this has potential if it ever gets made. Louis CK meets Seinfeld? Yeah, I can get in to that.

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