>My Five — Five Big Late-Night Talk Show Bombs

>The late-night talk show wars rage on, with everyone from Leno to O’Brien to Kimmel taking potshots at one another and everyone speculating as to what will happen next. This is really nothing new, as these talk show wars have been going on for years. Arsenio Hall famously said he was going to “kick Leno’s ass” (he didn’t), and everyone knows about the feud in the early 90s between Leno and Letterman. But Arsenio Hall was quite successful, and Leno and Letterman are both late-night legends. Below is a list of five talk shows (and hosts) that didn’t fare quite as well. Some would rather that we forget about their efforts in late-night TV altogether. No such luck.

5. The Pat Sajack Show (1989).
Some would say that it’s not fair to lump Sajack in with the list of failures. After all, his talk show lasted over fifteen months and performed well for a little while. Given only a two-year contract, Sajack’s ratings slipped pretty soon as people began to realize that his easy-going charm was best suited for game shows and not cutting-edge comedy. During the last remaining months, CBS actually began auditioning replacements on the air by trying out a series of guest hosts once per week. The show’s demise was such a disappointment, CBS didn’t even try another late-night talk show until they snagged Letterman in 1993.

4. The Dennis Miller Show (1992). Known for being the first real “Alternative” talk show, Miller’s program boasted Andy Summers (of The Police) as its bandleader. Many popular alternative bands made their TV debuts on this show, and everyone expected it to be a bonafide hit. With writers like Norm MacDonald, Bob Odenkirk, and people who went on to do Will and Grace, it really should have been. But Miller pissed off as many people as he pleased, and has always been best when he discusses current events rather than pitches movies. The show lasted less than a year, but Miller went on to have a hit show on HBO which better suited his personality.

3. The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show (1997). Remember this one? Not many people do. That was one of the biggest problems with Wayans foray into late-night: his show was pretty forgettable. Undeniably a great writer, Wayans didn’t bring the same humor to his interviews that people grew to love in his sketch writing. More than anything, the show just didn’t stand out from anything else on TV at the time. A ton of stuff was thrown against the wall, but none of it ever stuck. Wayans didn’t struggle or sink into obscurity, however. He went back to being a highly successful actor, writer, producer, and director.

2. The Magic Hour (1998). Oh, wow. What a complete mess. Looking back, you have to wonder who thought that giving a comedic talk show to Magic Johnson was a good idea. A likable guy? You bet. A huge celebrity? Absolutely. A good talk show host? Not even close. There’s a reason that talk shows normally go to comedians. Johnson was horribly uncomfortable on this show and, even though it was obvious that he couldn’t deliver an opening monologue to save his life, he kept poorly reading those cue cards anyway. The show’s sidekick, comedian Craig Shoemaker, was funnier than the host. The lack of chemistry between the two led to Shoemaker abruptly being replaced by In Living Color’s Tommy Davidson. It didn’t help. The show was canceled after only eight weeks.

1. The Chevy Chase Show (1993). Probably the biggest failure in late-night talk show history, this debacle was supposed to be Fox’s one-two punch to both Leno and Letterman. Instead, it was a huge embarrassment, and that network hasn’t had a talk show since. Chase was a household name, and his snarkiness seemed perfect for a talk show of his own. Fox put a ton of money into it, even giving Chase his own theater in LA where the show was taped. Immediately, critics (and viewers) hated the program. Chase was nervous and awkward and wound up resorting to his famous prat falls in order to get laughs. He wasn’t comfortable interviewing guests, either, which kind of defeats the purpose of a talk show. It was canceled after four weeks, but given an extra fifth week to sit and not be watched. To this day, it remains a punchline and the biggest example of how not to do a talk show.

These five shows are perhaps the most memorable failures in late-night, but they are hardly the only ones. Joan Rivers failed at it, as did Rick Dees. As long as the networks continue to put talk shows on during the wee hours of the morning, others will come along and undoubtedly many more will fail along the way. With that in mind, I hope you’ll all tune in this fall and watch “Words With Ward” on The CW.

>Five Problems With Late-Night Talk Shows

>It was announced this week that Jay Leno’s 10pm talk show will go on hiatus in upcoming weeks and that he will soon return to the 11:30pm time slot he used to hold. This will push the actual “Tonight Show”, now hosted by Conan O’Brien, back to the 12:05am slot, and once again turn late-night television into one huge talk-fest, with no less than six chat shows on three major networks alone. “The Tonight Show” has, of course, been a staple of TV airwaves since almost as long as TV has been available, and a slew of shows have always come along trying to equal its success. But is this format really that lucrative anymore? And is the talk show format the only thing that will succeed in that time slot? Here are five problems with late-night talk shows, including some ideas to change things up a little bit.

5. Too Many “Tonight Shows”. Let’s face it. Pretty much every single talk show is trying to be “The Tonight Show” of the past 50 years. Host does monologue, sits at desk, introduces guests who sit beside desk, etc. It’s a format that has worked for decades and it seems to be the format everyone is still trying to ape. But it’s simply not necessary anymore. How about a three-hour talk show? Sounds crazy, right? Well, that’s pretty much what we have now anyway. Sure, the hosts are different…but are they really? A succession of clever white guys in suits is still clever white guys in suits. And why the suits, anyway? People love Jimmy Fallon for being child-like and silly. Why put him in a suit just because he’s got a talk show? If you’re trying to change things up, then really change them up. And that means more than just hiring a cool band (The Roots, for instance) to front you. Isn’t what we liked about Arsenio Hall in the first place was that he wasn’t trying to be exactly like every other talk show? The minute he was gone, everything went back to the way it always was.

4. Boring Guests Pitching Over-Hyped Projects. I honestly can’t say I regularly sit down and watch late-night talk shows anymore. But do people actually go out of their way to tune in because they hear that someone from “Desperate Housewives” is going to be on? There was a time when people needed “The Tonight Show” or “Late Night” because it was one of the only chances they would get to see their favorite celebrities anywhere but in their chosen medium. It was also one of the only places to pitch upcoming projects or things you might not normally hear about. But it’s the 21st century, there is this thing called The Internet and another called “Cable TV”. Celebrities are everywhere and not hard to find. You can see the cast of your favorite TV show on countless programs and magazine covers and websites. Why tune in to watch Lady GaGa on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” when she’s already everywhere else? And our obsession with celebrity has gotten so out of hand, the conversations are as bland as the people sitting on the couch.

3. Not Enough Variety. The shows have turned into gushfests, with hosts worshiping entertainers rather than interviewing them. And with so many talk shows, it has become a war of “Get the Bigger Name”. Gone are the days of quirky stories. Gone are the rare bands and lesser-known actors. Even worse is that, in a format that used to rely on discovering new talent, hardly any of these shows showcase comedians like they used to. No one gets “called over to the couch” anymore, either. Instead, we get to see Paris Hilton get her ass kissed…again. And, honestly, did no one know about Avatar or the latest blockbuster until it was on a late-night talk show? How about more sketches, like Johnny Carson used to do during the golden years of “The Tonight Show”? That’s what shows up on all the “Best of” DVDs, not clips of celebrities getting their egos stroked. What’s wrong a little more variety in what was originally a variety show?

2. Not Enough “Talk”.
Sucking up to a celebrity isn’t really the same thing as talking with them. Nowadays, most talk shows have just become one big commercial for whatever product is being pitched by celebrity spokespersons. There was a time when an actor briefly spoke about his project, then spent some time having truly interesting and humorous conversations with the host. With today’s habit of shoving the guests down the conveyor belt, there’s not conversation as much as there is an extended movie trailer. And we can see those anywhere. Much more interesting are the “panel” shows like “Real Time with Bill Maher” or “Chelsea Lately”; You know, a talk show where people actually talk. Make the product pitch the smallest part of the interview and people might just tune in no matter who the guest is, rather than seeking out the ones they already like.

1. Too Much “Talk”.
Ironically, one of the biggest problems with late-night talk shows is…talk shows. There was a time when there were sitcoms that actually aired late at night, and not just reruns in syndication. There were also music programs, sketch shows, and all kinds of different programming that didn’t involve some guy sitting at a desk interviewing celebrities. Why not again? Anyone remember “Friday Night Videos”? Now that MTV no longer shows videos, why not bring them back to network television? I’d just as soon see something akin to “Headbangers Ball” on at night, and I don’t even like Metal. And I’d rather watch an actual sitcom than watch an actor talking about a sitcom. In an effort to get the ratings of “The Tonight Show”, too many networks seem to think the only thing that will work is something exactly like it. They overlook the fact that some late-night viewers might not want to watch a talk show at all.

The Late-Night Talk Show has been the mainstay in “after the local news” viewing for decades. But, as watching the local news becomes less and less relevant, the same old talk show format should maybe go with it. Prime-time TV changes all the time, yet everything after 11:30pm seems to essentially stay the same. The numbers show that millions of people are still up, still flipping through the channels, and still looking to be entertained, even into the wee hours of the morning. If we can’t find something new and original, we can always go with the tried and true. Unfortunately, these days, that’s not necessarily a talk show. Sometimes that just means watching reruns of “Frasier” instead.

>My Five – Five Great Movies of 2009

>A new year is upon us, so I decided to take a look back at 2009 and at all the flicks I saw over the year. Every year has it’s share of disappointments for me, but there are often little gems I discover, even in the worst of movie years. I’m happy to say that 2009 didn’t suck do badly in terms of movies, and I actually had a hard time coming up with five favorites. That why I decided that I would simply name five movies (in no particular order) that I thought were great movies, and not necessarily “The Best”. Since I’m an entertainer and not a movie critic, I managed to miss what many would call “The Best” anyway, so I have these five movies that entertained me, no matter if they were tops on any other lists.

5. The Hangover. It’s rare that a comedy movie makes me laugh out loud as much as this one did. Not that I don’t like comedies (duh) or anything. But, lately, so many comedy movies start strong and then fizzle out at the half-way point. The Hangover, on the other hand, managed to make me laugh from beginning to end, and even during the closing credits. A throwback to wacky adult comedies of the 80s, this movie about a group of guys on a Bachelor Party Gone Wrong managed to be gross, slapsticky, and even smart along the way. In this absurd age of trying to water everything down for children, I love the fact that it’s unabashedly adult in humor and rating. The fact that it made a gazillion dollars will hopefully make Hollywood realize that grown adults like funny movies, too, and not everything has to be made for teenagers.

4. The Road. Weird fact about me? I tend to dislike depressing movies, yet love post-apocalyptic ones. It’s a strange contradiction, but it’s true. The Road is both, and yet one of my favorite movies of 2009. The story of a man and his son walking across a dying Earth in order to hopefully find greener pastures and thriving civilization, this movies achieves more impact with no special effects than any CGI-fest has ever delivered. Viggo Mortensen continues his trek at becoming one of my all-time favorite actors, and I find this story so much more engaging than the also-great No Country For Old Men, which was written by the same author.

3. 500 Days of Summer. The biggest surprise of 2009 as far as I’m concerned. What could’ve been either a schmaltzy rom-com or insufferable “indie comedy” managed to be the smartest dramady of the year. Truly the first real Chick Flick for guys, this movie shows that it’s not always the man in the relationship who has fear of commitment, and that it’s not always the woman who comes out looking like the hero when things go awry. It’s truly one of the most honest looks at whirlwind relationships ever put on film. A scene depicting simultaneous shots of “Expectations vs. Reality” is one of the most inspiring moments in movies I’ve seen in a long time, and the out-of-nowhere dance sequence (!) had me grinning like an idiot.

2. Inglorious Basterds. Was cautious about this film in the months leading up to its release for several reasons. First of all, it had been hyped for years, which always bugs me about movies. I hate being told I have to love a movie before it has even been made. Secondly, director Tarantino pissed me off with his vanity project Deathproof, a movie that was a direct contradiction of what he claimed it would be. All is forgiven, however, with this absolutely entertaining yarn about WWII. Sure, he totally screws around with history for the sake of giving the audience a great show, but that’s not the point. More than any other movie in 2009, Basterds features some scenes with real edge-of-your-seat tension. Combine that with some intense action scenes and great performances by every single cast member, and we’re left with one of the best movies of the decade, not just the year.

1. Up in the Air. It’s hard for me to describe why this is possibly my favorite movie of the year. Having spent more than a year with no apartment, merely living on the road and going from gig to gig and one hotel to another, I relate to the main character in this film so much more than I thought I would. Anyone who has travelled for a living will likely see parts of himself in this film, and George Clooney manages to make an unlikeable lifestyle (and person) somehow charming. It carefully observes the life of those who spend more time travelling than they do at home, and what it feels like when one realizes that such a lifestyle is becoming stale. Besides that, it’s often very funny and very sincere. Don’t let the quirky soundtrack fool you (it was directed by Jason Reitman, who directed Juno and apparently loves quirky songs played on acoustic guitar), the movie is a very grown-up look at how life can pass you by without you even having the time to realize it. Deserves all the praise it gets.

I’m sure that, if I sit down and think about it, I’ll come up with five more films I think are truly amazing, as well. 12 months is a lot of movie-watching, and I sometimes have to do some serious Google searching to remember some gems that have since slipped my mind. As long as the movies don’t make my “Worst” list, I’m pleased.

You know five of my favorites of 2009. What are some of yours?

>My Five – My Five LEAST Favorite Christmas Movies

>I have to watch Christmas movies. My DVR is set to find them every single year, whether they be under looked gems that I’ve simply never gotten around to seeing or classics that I know by heart. Yes, I have a stack of Christmas movies in my DVD collection, and I’ll catch one in the theatre every year if the buzz is good. Unfortunately, I’m sometimes disappointed in what I see, and not every Christmas movie leaves me feeling that holiday cheer. Below are five examples where I’ve felt more Scrooge and less Cratchit.

5. Fred Claus (2007). Oh, how I wanted to like this movie. I like Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Kevin Spacey, and Christmas movies. It should’ve been a no-brainer. Instead, this movie is a combination of silly gags that go nowhere and sped-up action made to look wacky. It’s a shame, not only because of the great cast, but because it’s also a great idea for a Christmas movie. Unfortunately, it’s only mildly amusing and rather forgettable. When I heard they were making a comedy about Santa Claus’ jealous younger brother, I was excited. Such a shame I got coal in my stocking that year thanks to this turkey.

4. Jingle All The Way (1996). This movie is (in)famous for being the last comedy Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in to date, and being a massively panned holiday flick. Even for people who don’t listen to all the “Christmas is too commercialized” whining will find reason to turn their noses up at this flick. The plot centers around Schwarzenegger going crazy all over town trying to find a specific toy for his spoiled brat of a son, and gives us the impression that he’ll only be a loser if he doesn’t find it. I’ve been told that it’s different when you watch it with kids, and am fully aware that it actually has plenty of fans (it has to date made a ton of cash), but to anyone else over the age of ten, it’s very awkward and silly. And not in a good way.

3. Christmas With The Kranks (2004). Or, as I like to call it, “The John Grisham Christmas Debacle”. Yes, everyone’s favorite legal thriller author wrote the book Skipping Christmas, which was the basis of this awful Tim Allen vehicle. Full of bad prat falls and weird slapsticky moments, this movie is about how a couple wants to go away on a Caribbean vacation instead of staying home for the holidays…and what douchebags they apparently are for feeling that way. As much as it was hated by critics everywhere, it’s somehow another awful Christmas movie that was actually a hit in theatres and on home video. If you like watching Tim Allen fall down, you should check it out. That’s pretty much the plot.

2. Surviving Christmas (2004). The also-bad movie Christmas With The Kranks was originally called Skipping Christmas (from the book of the same name) before this movie was announced to also be in production at the time. A very awkward and uncomfortable film about a man (Ben Affleck) paying another man (James Gandolfini) to help him re-create the Christmas of his childhood, this movie was a screw-up in many different ways. First of all, it was released over a year after it was completed, and found its way into theatres in October! A box office flop, it was then released on home video less than two months later, where still no one cared about it. Yet another movie with a very talented cast, it’s simply not funny and makes the assumption that slapstick is enough to carry a holiday film. It isn’t.

1. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). It’s a bad idea to take a beloved children’s book and classic animated TV special and turn it into a live-action film. To make it a contradiction of itself is even worse. A monster hit in theatres (it stayed there into March of the following year!), a huge hit on home video, and now an annual tradition on TV, this Jim Carrey-starring movie is beloved by people everywhere. But anyone without small children will see it was dumb and goofy, with Carrey managing to mug it up through pounds of admittedly impressive make-up and effects. The biggest problem with this film, besides being an unnecessary remake of a readily-available classic? It preaches against the commercialization of Christmas and is yet one of the most commercialized Christmas movies ever made. This Grinch wound up on everything from fast-food containers to pencil boxes, and you couldn’t go anywhere for months without seeing Carrey’s green face slapped on something.

Luckily, there are few Christmas movies that I despise, and can even tolerate the ones that appear on this list a time or two. Still, with so many wonderful holiday classics to enjoy and new ones being created every single year, there’s no reason to settle for Spam when you can have ham. Sit down and enjoy Jimmy Stewart instead or watch Ralphie pine for his Red Rider BB gun. Either choice is going to leave you in better holidays spirits than anything you’ll find here.

Those are five of my least favorite Christmas movies. What are some that you can’t stand?

>My Five – My Five LEAST Favorite Christmas Songs

>As much as I’m accused of being a fan of all things Christmas, I’m certainly not always that easy to please. In fact, there are many parts of the holiday that I just can’t stand. Below are five examples of “holiday classics” that always manage to be far more grating than festive whenever I hear them on the radio. In fact, a surefire way to get me to zip my hand over the the “Off” switch faster than Mr Myagi catching a fly with chopsticks is to play any of these songs. Bah, Humbug, terrible tunes.

5. “Santa Baby”, by Anyone. Although the original Eartha Kitt version annoys me the least of all, I can’t stand this tune. First of all, while trying to be sexy, most women who sing it come off sounding childish. It’s like watching someone trying to be sexy while wearing clown shoes. Secondly, the song is just plain creepy. It brings to mind a dirty old man being serenaded by a teenager which, unless you’re one of the old broads who somehow doesn’t realize how sick you are for loving Twilight, is not remotely what someone should think of when it’s Christmastime.

4. “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas”, by Gayla Peevy. This 1953 novelty song has thankfully not been one of those songs that gets remade or recorded countless times every year. In fact, I seem to hear it a little less every year, something that fills me with Christmas joy. Besides just being a dumb song about an oh-so-precious kid singing about wanting some crazy gift, there’s really nothing about this song that says Christmas to me at all. You could easily change it to “I Want a Hippopotamus for My Birthday” and no one would even notice. And, by the way, with the exception of “Christmastime Is Here”, listening to children sing isn’t nearly as cute as people like to keep pretending.

3. “Feliz Navidad“, by Anyone. This 1970 gem is one of the top 25 most played Christmas songs of all time. Too bad it’s so damned annoying. It’s not that it’s in Spanish that makes it so; it’s the fact that it’s too freaking repetitious. There’s only something like four lines in the the entire song, which seems to go on and on and on. On top of that, nothing about it sounds like Christmas. It sounds more like something you would hear while sitting on a beach somewhere, sipping pina coladas. Call me a purist, I can’t think of Christmas if I’m building sandcastles and getting tan.

2. “Jingle Bells” By The Singing Dogs. There are people who absolutely love this 1955 novelty song. In fact, it has sold well over a million copies and will probably keep Denmark musician Don Clark’s family pretty financially set for decades to come. But it’s lame, and not even very creative. It’s just samples of dogs barking the perennial classic “Jingle Bells” over and over again. Nowadays, a child could record this on a Casio keyboard but, for some reason, it’s considered a classic. Mostly, however, this song is loved by holiday-hating jerks who like to think the song is somehow “rebellious” or speaks about how much the holiday sucks. No, the song sucks. Christmas rocks.

1. “The Christmas Shoes”, by Newsong. It baffles me that so many people love this awful, manipulative song that masquerades as a Christmas tune. Luckily I am not alone, since it is also cited as being one of the most hated Holiday Songs of all time. Based on an Internet email chain letter that was sent around in the early 90s, this cheesy tune actually took the band Newsong four years to write. How it’s even possible to take that long to suck this bad is an amazing feat all it’s own. The song is about a woman dying on Christmas Eve (HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!) and her bafflingly stupid child trying to buy her shoes in which she can be buried. A lot of people love the song because the singer keeps saying the woman is going to “Meet Jesus Tonight” (Get it? Jesus = Christmas!) instead of saying that she’s going to drop dead on what is normally a festive time of year for kids everywhere. Sorry, gang, singing about death on Christmas just plain sucks. Here’s the biggest irony: Misinformed people always try to say that this song preaches against the commercialization of Christmas when, in fact, it’s one of the most appallingly commercialized Christmas songs ever, having been made into a book and two TV movies.

The hardest (and most hilarious) part of writing about things I think suck is that people will defend to the death their love of the very same thing I despise. I have no doubt that people are already lining up to praise heaps of sugary love on that heinous “Shoes” tune, since nothing says Christmas like the awful emptiness that comes when the parent of a small child succumbs to death. Still, I stand by my hatred for each of these songs as much as I stand by my love for “A Holly, Jolly Christmas”. One of them featured Burl Ives’ majestic voice wishing us a happy holiday and singing of kissing under the mistletoe, and another had dogs barking in tune. Call me a Scrooge for preferring sleigh bells over dog crap.

>A Little "Yes" Would Be Just Fine, Thanks

>Michael Jackson was surrounded by “Yes Men”. So was Elvis. In fact, find a mega-superstar, and he was likely surrounded by “Yes People”. These are people who constantly tell the celebrity that he’s always right, and constantly say “Yes” to anything he suggests or attempts. It’s because of “Yes Men” that so many entertainers are huge narcisists and have a problem believing they could ever come up with a bad idea.

Anyone in show business knows that the worst thing to be surrounded by are Yes Men. In fact, most comedians I know go out of their way to find people who won’t constantly tell them how right they are. It’s Yes Men who told Michael Jackson that The Neverland Ranch wasn’t creepy, and Yes Men who told Elvis that “The Jungle Room” looked good. Yes Men created “Battlefield Earth”, just so you’d know.

I’ve been lucky over the past few years to have my career starting to kick in a little bit and for my star to shine a teensy bit brighter. Think that, along the way, I’ve accumulated a few Yes Men of my own?

Nope. Not at all. Whew.

As nice as it is to not have myself surrounded by people willing to lie to me in the face of my own bad judgement, I have to admit I’ve been craving a little bit of happy, blind faith lately.

Despite what many of my agents would have me believe, I know that–deep down–I’m not an asshole. For that reason, I’m lucky enough to have many friends, family members, and genuine fans around to support me and all of my endeavors in this ridiculous business we call “Show”. Everyone is honest and sincere, and that’s great.

And that often sucks.

Because I accept (and expect) honesty from everyone I know, I get brutal freaking honesty from everyone I know. This means that every person I know freely shares with me his opinion about every last project in which I’m involved. The only part that sucks is that these opinions are rarely the same.

The last TV interview I did, I was told by one friend that I was extremely arrogant. Another friend told me I came off as insecure (?). My girlfriend’s father told me I wasn’t funny. A friend in Ohio told me I was hilarious. Several people said I needed a tan. A few people told me I should dress differently. Others told me I dressed better than in other interviews.

The crititques come full force, and they are rarely the same. It gets to the point where I have no idea to whom I should be listening. Do I take the advice of the person who tells me that I should be less arrogant…? Or the person who tells me to bleach my hair? Should I try to be less funny? Should I crack more jokes? Every person that tells me I’m hilarious is followed by someone who tells me I’m boring.

I cannot imagine being famous. Is it all of this times a thousand? Would I be surrounded by people constantly telling me how I do nothing wrong…or surrounded by people telling me everything I do wrong, like I am now, with me baffled at how each person has something different to say than the last one did? And I’m nobody. Nothing. Not famous. If dozens of people breathing down my neck gives me a headache, what will thousands feel like?

They say that everyone’s a crtic. They aren’t kidding.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to have so many supportive people in my life that everyone wants to see me succeed. After all, that’s the only reason people offer criticism in the first place. No one wants to see me fail, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

But a few “Yes Men” would be great right about now.

See, I’m never trying to fail. Whenever I do a joke, or write an article, or do a TV interview, or appear on the radio…I’m always looking to succeed. I want to have the best show, the best article, the best interview. I don’t go into anything thinking “Here’s my chance to be mediocre…hope everyone is apathetic to it”. I want it to be a smash, every time. But, if something goes wrong, or simply is delievered in a way I didn’t intend, there’s always a million reasons for it, and they’re not always in my control. Trust me, I’m doing my best.

I don’t know if my feelings in this matter really make any sense. My father was an aeronautical engineer. He worked with brilliant minds and can still do Calculus in his head. I often wonder if he had forty different mathematicians around him giving him forty different opinions on how he designed the left wing on a jet plane. If so, I can finally say that–other than a love for George Carlin–we have finally found that one thing we have in common.

Of course, if he took the wrong opinion, an engine on a plane might fall off. If I take the wrong opinion, I wind up with bad hair on “Good Morning America”.

>Here We Go Again…

>Well, my promise to blog more seems to have already been broken. Not intentionally, mind you. It’s just that I got terribly sick for a week and then spent the next week just playing catch-up. My apologies for anyone who felt they were missing out on something exciting.

I’m still holding a “Name Ward’s Book” contest, from now until the end of the year. Put quite simply, I’m looking for people to come up with names for my new book, which will be a collection of interviews, articles, and essays. A few random stories will be thrown in, as well. Currently, the title in the lead is “Musings of an Insomniac”. If you can best that title, you will win a free autographed copy of the book, as well as YOUR NAME on the “Acknowledgements” page. Not too shabby, eh?

In the meantime, please know how pissed I am at vampires. Yes, vampires. You know why? Because every third writer out there (thanks to Stefanie Meyer) has decided to write about teenaged vampires. Now the book market is completely flooded with teenaged vampire stories. On top of that, every chick lit author has churned out a “quirky romantic vampire” book to toss on shelves everywhere. Know that that means? No vampire book from yours truly.

Yes, I was actually working on a pretty neato vampire book. It was NOT some gothic horror story or Anne Rice lovefest. It was NOT about teenagers who are pale and lonely and brood. It was NOT a romantic comedy about a quirky woman with a cat who somehow never gets laid and yet meets an adorable vampire. It was supposed to be a satirical story about the entertainment industry, with some vampires and demons thrown in who just so happened to be dripping with utter sarcasm.

But, since there are now way more vampire books than anyone could ever want, there is no agent, editor, or publisher in North America interested in another vampire story. So, my fully-fleshed-out and outlined novel will sit unwritten (and undead…HA!) on my shelf. At least for ten years, until people finally come back to vampires….when all the teenagers are grown up, I guess.

So, thanks a lot, angst-ridden bloodsuckers. Because you sad, brooding teens couldn’t get enough of being pale and being forever 17, I’ve got to toss aside my clever little jab at show business.

Unless, of course, I can re-write it to center around mummies. They aren’t overexposed yet, right?

>Welcome to Sick

>Feeling fine and healthy, I suddenly wound up sick today out of nowhere. Yay. It started with one sneeze. An hour later, I sneezed again. An hour after that, sneeze number three let me know I was well on my way to Sick Town. See, I rarely sneeze. To do it more than a couple of times a day is all I need to clue me in.

I used to never get sick but apparently my constant travel now makes me an easy target to evil infections everywhere. I know, it seems hard to believe that a life spent sleeping in hotels, constantly shaking hands with strangers, and keeping irregular hours would somehow subject me to questionable health, but it’s true.

So, I will sit here in my room in Louisville, eating chicken soup and drinking orange juice until I begin a week of shows and interviews. That’s the worst part, of course: I never get sick at home when I’ve got nothing going on. I’m always sick when I’m on the road with a billion things I need to be doing.

The “Home Remedies” have already started pouring in, but I’m sticking with the chicken soup, orange juice, and generic cold medication. Thanks to everyone for the suggestions, but I’m not going to be sticking my hand in a glass of parsley juice while humming. Not again, at least.

>The Endless PR Machine Continues

>It’s a fabulous Monday and, as I sit here enjoying a smoothie at a Panera Bread in Kentucky, I’m surprisingly chipper for a guy who slept only a few hours and then drove three hundred miles earlier this morning.

I’m appearing all week at The Comedy Caravan in Louisville. I’m excited about the shows for a number of reasons, not just because I like being in one place for several days, but because this will be my first visit to this particular comedy club. I’ve always heard great things, so I’m looking forward to finding out for myself. Perhaps some of my Cincinnati friends will make the way across the border and come check out a show? We shall see. As always, I hope to see ANYONE who has seen me once come check out the show a second time.

In my quest to conquer daytime television, four minutes at a time, I’ll be appearing on “Louisville Live This Morning” on The CW network this Thursday (September 17th) around 10am. By all means, tune in and check out the show. Otherwise, wait until I post the clip, like I always do.

The TV network’s site is here:

http://www.cwlouisville.com/index.html

Honestly, though, I do enjoy doing these morning show interviews. It’s always a bit different and I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. Perhaps I should try to get a show of my own? I’m getting used to doing them, so maybe that’s the next call I should be making to my agent.

Of course, getting up that early just once in a while is hard enough. I can’t imagine doing it every single day. I’ve never envied my friends in morning radio, getting up when I’m usually going to bed, heading to work and trying to be entertaining before the sun is up. Being funny on a whim is hard enough onstage in front of drunks. Doing it every day, on the radio, on command is even worse.

Everyone is talking about the MTV Video Music Awards today…except me. I suppose I should some up with something witty to say, but I really couldn’t care less. I’m not concerned with what Kanye West said about Taylor Swift, or how everyone reacts today. Sometimes I just feel like I’m a clueless old man, as I completely ignore what’s going on with popular music and just turning up my iPod and listening to The Beatles all day long.

…and The Monkees, too.

So there.

More PR stuff on the way, too. I’m committing to writing my blog as often as possible. I used to simply write the occasional article or re-print my interviews. Until the next book arrives, I’m going to try to stay in touch with everyone as much as possible. So, by all means, drop me a line and give me something to tallk about.

…yes, even the VMA’s.

>Comic Book Movies That Suck

>Today I took in a matinee of the movie “Watchmen”, based upon a graphic novel I read when I was still in high school. “Watchmen” has been touted as the most-acclaimed graphic novel of all time, and the inspiration for countless comic books and comic book movies. Having seen a well-made (if imperfect) comic book movie, I’m left reminiscing over comic book movies gone by that failed to live up to expectations. In fact, the movies listed below just plain suck. If the road to Hell is, indeed, paved with good intentions, then the road to the Bargain Bin at Blockbuster is paved with copies of these disasters.

  • Batman and Robin. This is too easy, and this movie is typically at the top of the list of bad comic book movies. This movie gave fans everywhere the now-classic mantra, “Nipples on the Batsuit“! Yes, there were nipples on the costume, but that was hardly the problem with this movie. Frankly, those nipples are are almost impossible to see most of the time, much like the point of this awful flick. Imagine if a child consumed a Batman comic book and then puked it onto a cineplex screen for ninety minutes. Bad casting all around make this fourth entry in the Batman series an eye-rolling debacle. The fact that director Joel Schumaker tried to pay homage to the campy 60s series is absurd, given the fact that the movie franchise was started to help people forget it in the first place.
  • Captain America. There was a bad 1979 TV movie about Captain America (followed by an also forgettable TV sequel), but it can be completely forgiven since it was a low-budget backdoor pilot that was a product of it’s time. In 1990, a theatrical version of ol‘ Cap was publicized during the boom following Tim Burton’s Batman the year before. It was featured on Entertainment Tonight, and posters were plastered in theaters everywhere. But it never was released in cineplexes and, two years later, was quietly put on video shelves until it eventually went out of print. Why? The movie sucks balls. First of all, Captain America’s costume is a very dull and bland, complete with rubber ears sewn onto the head. No matter, the character himself is made into a complete and utter pussy, getting his ass repeatedly handed to him throughout the film. The movie even has the audacity to give the audience Cap’s arch-nemesis, The Red Skull, and take away that character’s–you know–red skull. The movie contains almost zero action until the last ten minutes or so, when Captain America suddenly grows a pair and finally throws his mighty shield. By the time that happens, the audience wishes that shield were being thrown at them.
  • Catwoman. Several months before this movie was released, the studio gave the press photos of Halle Berry in her Catsuit. The idea was to show the public how sexy she was dressed as the famous Batman villain/love interest. Instead, the public laughed and started talking about how much that movie was going to chug donkey piss. And, boy, did it. Halle Berry is normally sexy but, in this film, completely laughable. The film, much like the title character’s costume, looks as if it were put together by a high school drama club. Everything about the movie is a joke, including the main villain, played by Sharon Stone. The best part of the movie is that you’ll think you’re just watching Sharon Stone acting like herself for a couple of hours. Aw, did I just say that? You bet! Meow!
  • The Punisher. I know what you’re thinking. There have been three different Punisher movies based on the Marvel comic book character. All three movies have starred different actors, and all three have been completely different in tone, plot, and overall composition. You are correct. Know what else? All three of them have blown. Each movie has managed to get the title character wrong in one way or another, making him everything from a sweaty naked yoga dude to a drunken crybaby who befriends lonely fat guys. If you take all three actors and roll them into one, you might get a decent Punisher. That’s not the worst part, however, when it comes to this Trilogy of Suck. The plots in all three movies are stupid, even by comic book standards, and the villains are absolutely laughable. The secret to making a good comic book villain into a movie villain is to make certain you don’t make him into a cartoon. All three Punisher movies fail when it comes to this.
  • Ghost Rider. People beat up Nicholas Cage too much, and often for things that simply aren’t his fault. Ghost Rider is one of those movies people toss out as a way to smack Cage around a bit, but the movies sucktitude is not because he fails to deliver. He plays the title character just fine, especially since said character is mostly just a CGI effect when onscreen. The problem with this movie is that, first of all, the character himself was never that great an idea to begin with and, secondly, the film itself is nothing but a video game. Seriously, you can take the actual plot and put it into any scrolling game you ever played on your old Sega Genesis. The main character fights a bunch of low lives, beats them, and then has to take on the “Big Boss” at the end of the game–er, movie. The effects aren’t that good to begin with, adding to that video game vibe. The worst effect of all? Trying to convince the audience that actor Wes Bentley is a scary villain. Were you scared of the goth kid who was president of the Chess Club? Didn’t think so.
  • Steel. It’s hard to have a secret identity when you’re a superhero. It’s even harder to keep that secret when you’re the only eight-foot tall black guy in the city, and you’re just as much a pain in the ass to your nemesis out of costume as you are when you’re wearing the stupid thing. Shaquille O’Neil is amazing on the basketball court, but clumsy when it comes to crime fighting. Another example of making a comic book movie out of a character that no one gave a rat’s ass about in the first place. Remember that Steel comic book you so cherished as a child? Of course not. That comic never existed, and this movie never should have, either. The fact that it uses such a stupid and dated catchphrase as “It’s Hammer Time” alone is enough to burn every last copy. The idea of a hero’s catchphrase is that it has to be original, not stolen from another part of pop culture. Imagine if The Hulk said “Who let the dogs out?”
  • Superman IV. This sucker killed the Superman movie franchise until an also-bad (but for different reasons) flick was released in 2006. After making boatloads of money from three other Superman movies, the producers decided that the best thing to do with this 1987 crapfest was to actually decrease the budget. The special effects are terrible, and can now be done with green bedsheets and a camcorder. In fact, they probably were done that way back then, too. Forget the effects, the movie is stupid, with Superman fighting off Nuclear Man, a villain that would normally be used as a filler in some “Don’t do Drugs” issue of a comic book you got for free in a box of cereal. The final nail in the coffin came before it even hit screens. The star of the movie, Christopher Reeve, said that the movie was going to suck before it was even done being made.
  • Superman Returns. This movie is well-made, to be sure, and the effects are snappy to behold. But there are so many reasons to hate it. Brandon Routh is just fine as Superman, but Kate Bosworth is horribly miscast as Lois Lane. It’s rare that a veteran reporter (with a Pulitzer Prize, no less) and single mother of a five year-old looks to be about nineteen, but this movie actually wants us to believe it. On top of that, the usually stellar Kevin Spacey can’t decide whether or not to play Lex Luthor as a joke or completely straight. None of that matters, really, because the entire movie is old hat. Another movie with Luthor as the villain? Snore. Another subplot centering around Superman’s unrequited love for Lois? Snooze. And it’s one thing when no one notices that Clark Kent isn’t around when Superman is, but another to have us believe that no one noticed that they were both gone at the same time…for five years? Also, Superman doesn’t really do much of anything in this movie he hasn’t done before. By the time he wound up in a hospital bed (!) with his costume draped over a nearby chair, I was already done. And for crissakes, Superman, stop being surprised when people get their hands on some Kryptonite. If your one weakness is that stuff, and Lex Luthor shows up talking garbage, guess what? HE’S GOT SOME KRYPTONITE.
  • Judge Dredd. What was a dark and nihilistic comic book was turned into a buddy cop film with Rob Schneider. Ugh. Many people blame Schneider for this film rating so high on the suckometer, but he simply did what he was paid to do, which was be the comic relief. He’s not necessary, really, because the film is already laughably bad. The first mistake was deciding that Judge Dredd needed to take off his helmet, which fans everywhere loved. Seriously, is Sly Stallone known for his dashing good looks in the first place? The second big mistake was thinking that silliness belonged where irony would’ve been just fine. Once again, a comic book movie is made that can’t decide whether or not to be taken seriously or be campy fun. Judge Dredd tries to be both and, as usual, winds up being neither.
  • The Fantastic Four. It’s too easy to beat up on the 2005 film and it’s 2007 sequel. But those movies actually succeeded because they were–for right or wrong–made for families and not loyal comic book fans. Instead, I’m going after the never-released (but often talked-about) 1994 version of The FF that was made for less than 2 million dollars and was shelved for years. Available only a bootleg to collectors and curious fans with a little time on their hands, The Fantastic Four of ’94 was made by cheapo movie producer Roger Corman, and was only made as a sneaky plan to keep copyrights on behalf of the studio. No one involved in the movie, from the cast to the director, knew they were being scammed, and that the movie would never be released. You can’t tell that, however, because the movie looks like a dress rehearsal. The effects are awful, the writing is amateur, and the plot makes little sense. How bad are the effects? The Human Torch, in the final action scene, is completely animated. Not CGI, mind you. Animated. Imagine if, in the final scenes of The Dark Knight, if Batman suddenly morphed into the opening credits of the 60s series. Now you have an idea of what this movie looked like. It sucked ass.

There are plenty of horrible comic book movies that could’ve made this list, of course. Lucky for me, I only included awful movies I’ve actually seen. So, no Electra on this list, thank you very much. I also failed to mention the movies that I actually liked that everyone else seems to think are downright terrible. So, no Daredevil, either. At the very least, when the movies suck, we still have our comic books to enjoy forever. Until they make that Steel sequel, of course.