Tread Very, Very Carefully, NBC

Major league catch-up day today, I don’t think I’ve done a links column in more than a week. Sorry about that. If you’re in to the whole better-late-than-never thing, hop on board because you’ll love this one:

why would nbc even want this headache?

Anyone else downright giddy thinking about the possible Dumpster fire that could be the latest NBC late-night succession rumor? If the Conan thing was an unmitigated mess — and that’s probably underselling it — the potential for what can come of pushing Jay Leno out the door, moving Jimmy Fallon to the Tonight Show and then bringing in Howard Stern to take Fallon’s spot on Late Night is just too awesome to brush it off as silly, unsubstantiated rumor. It would be like Christmas to anyone who loves following this kind of thing. Just think about the personalities involved. Stern hates Leno and loves Jimmy Fallon. Leno has little to no credibility left in the comedy world, Fallon is at the top of his game and Stern is somewhere in between. Stern’s fans are ridiculously, overtly loyal, Fallon’s fans are almost hipster cult-ish and Leno’s fans are all over the age of 60. At least that’s what I would presume, since I don’t know one person who’s ever said to me, “Did you see Leno last night? Man, he was ON FIRE!” And amid all of that, Leno is one of the eight or nine most powerful personalities on TV, who obviously won’t be shown the door until he’s good and ready. NBC can want whatever it wants and leak whatever kind of nugget it wants, but this time, Leno won’t be moving anywheres until Leno says it’s time. NBC has two months to figure this out and have a plan that absolutely will not fail or go wrong. It’s got enough to worry about it, it doesn’t need to jeopardize the integrity of its biggest franchise for the second time in three years.

Of all the stories that have been written about this, how come no one went to New York Times critic Bill Carter for some kind of educated guess on what’s going to happen? He’s the expert, right, after writing two incredible books about the last two Tonight Show successions. I Googled “‘bill carter’ stern” in a news search and got nada. And why hasn’t he written about it? Weird.

welcome to the club.

I’m a big fan of the history and tradition of Saturday Night Live, so I’m always up for any talk of the Five Timers Club. I’ve always thought the original sketch is one of the most original ideas the show has ever had and had a strong influence on this whole meta brand of humor so popular now. And I would most definitely put Justin Timberlake in the top 5 of this list. Part of that is because I’m not necessarily a Steve Martin fan and definitely wouldn’t include Christopher Walken on there since all the guy does is read cue cards. Every single time he’s on! And they keep bringing him back! But SNL has helped showcase the other side of JT, the charming actor side and helped us all get over the boy band side. Even though it’s already been done to death, how many guest SNL hosts in the non-cast-alum category now have THREE recurring characters?

I think I’m going to start the Sigh Report now. It will encompass stories that I’m too frustrated at or too angry at or just too thoroughly ambivalent about to even rationally discuss. So you’ll have to click on the links to find out why I’m so flustered.

Sigh Report #1: Kevin Smith. Sigh.

Sigh Report #2: Eddie Murphy and Judge Reinhold. Double sigh.

And the summer movie trailers are starting to roll out in full force now. Waiting for the Wolverine trailer, hopefully we’ll get it in the next couple weeks. Two recent trailer reviews:

I don’t know if Marvel’s goal is to short-sell its movies with average first trailers six months away from their release, then kick the holy hell out of the second ones. What I do know is that every move Disney, Marvel’s parent company, makes is methodically plotted and planned down to Pi-like decimal points of accuracy. So maybe it’s just coincidence the first trailers for Avengers and Iron Man 3 were pretty blah, but the second trailers — each released at exactly the same time of year — were just off the charts good. This is the side of Tony Stark we’ve never really seen, and maybe it was good to keep him from going up against his most popular villain until now. He’s been so broken from his role in what amounted to the destruction of New York City and his vulnerability as the face of the Avengers that maybe now it’s time to explore that part of his mythology, at the time when he is most vulnerable. I like the idea of changing up the story a little bit too. Tony has never really lost anyone close to him what if Pepper died? Or if Roadie was killed? I know they don’t die in the comic book, but who’s to say that has to stay the same in the movie series? One thing I don’t want — cameos, at least not in the movie itself. Keep the rest of the Avengers out of this, they have their own things going on. Yeah, it’s cool when Jeremy Renner randomly showed up in Thor for about two seconds, but those days are over. Avengers is hyped as much as it needs to be, let’s make sure the focus is on telling stories of individual characters. OK? OK. They’re not giving us anything on the whole Extremis plot line other than the multiple Iron Men lining up behind him, but we’ll see how that goes. Oh, and we can start to see if that trend continues when the Thor trailer is attached to Iron Man 3. TRAILER GRADE: A-

The Hangover is up there as one of the funniest R-rated comedies of the last decade with Wedding Crashers and Step Brothers. Hangover II is right there in the conversation for most disappointing sequels with Caddyshack 2 and Speed 2. So I’m on the fence about how I feel about a third anyway. To their credit, everyone involved is saying all the right things without actually saying how much the second one blew. Things like, “We’re breaking out of the Hangover mold” and “This is going to be different than the first two.” Translation: “We know the  second one is just a cheap, formulaic rip-off of the first one that is so ridiculously improbable it makes the first one look like something that happens three times a day to 75 percent of the country.” And from the looks of the trailer, they stayed pretty true to that philosophy, almost going out of their way to show that this won’t be Hangover 2. In fact, heading back to Vegas is the perfect idea. If you’re going to blow up the formula, at least give the illusion that something might be the same — like the setting of the original. When you see a shot of the Vegas skyline and Ed Helms barks out, “Someone needs to burn this place to the ground,” you can almost feel like he’s talking about the second Hangover movie. Or maybe I just wanted it to be. All of it may be lip service to appease the fans of the first (me) that were totally turned off by the second (MEEEEEEEE!!!). All I know is I reluctantly watched the trailer thinking I would be disappointed — and I was laughing pretty frequently by the end of it. TRAILER GRADE: B+

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