Tag Archives: Chris Rock

Did Chris Rock go too far with his monologue about Hollywood diversity:: a guest blog post from my friend Diana

jacob-tremblay-abraham-attah-zoom-c081a176-8a12-402a-b420-5086e8616f69

Hope you all enjoyed the Academy Awards Sunday night; always one of my favorite nights of the year.  This year’s telecast, though, wow, I thought it was pretty dreary. Lot of long, boring speeches and silly skits. I was, however, elated and shocked that “Spotlight,” a movie about newspaper journalists doing huge, important work won Best Picture, and  I thought host Chris Rock, who had a huge amount of pressure on him this year given the #OscarsSoWhite stuff and the boycott, did a fantastic job with his monologue (Best line: “This year it’s going to be different. The in memoriam segment is just going to be black people shot by the cops on the way to the movies.”)

As I’ve done occasionally in the past here on Oscar night, I’m turning today’s post over to my hilarious, awesome and witty friend Diana, who’s a much bigger pop culture maven than I am and who graciously agreed to file a report on the Oscars.

Diana, take it away…

It’s been 20 minutes since the Oscars ceremony ended, and I’m still trying to absorb all that happened. It was not the light-hearted event I used to watch; the most difficult question tonight wouldn’t be “Did Angelina Jolie stick her leg out like that to draw attention away from her possibly pregnant tummy?” a la 2012. (The answer, it turned out, was no. She was just, well, being Angelina.)
No, tonight I’m battling with whether Chris Rock was helpful or hurtful to the diversity problem in Hollywood. Tonight, I’m thinking about Lady Gaga and the dozens of men and women on the Oscars stage whose pain you could see and hear so clearly. Tonight, I’m pondering “Spotlight’s” win for Best Picture and if there will ever be another newspaper movie again, if the industry I’ve poured my heart into will continue to have chances to make a difference in the world.
Heavy stuff.
Thank God for Jacob Tremblay. The pint-sized star of “Room” saved the Oscars for me. He was charming on the red carpet, smoothly slipping his hand inside his tux as he walked up to reporters and mentioned how his view on the red carpet was “lots of legs.” He was adorable as he stood up from his seat in the auditorium, wide-eyed, to get a better view of C3PO, R2D2 and BB8 on stage. And he was both polite and cute as can be when Chris Rock brought him a box to stand on when he was presenting and called out, “Thanks Chris. I loved you in ‘Madagascar’!”
So, yes, thank goodness for Jacob Tremblay. Because the rest of the Oscars wasn’t so easy to form an opinion on.
I’m a huge fan of Chris Rock. And I was thrilled that he would be the host this year, the year of #OscarsSoWhite, which came about after no minority was nominated for an acting award and, while it wasn’t the first time, it wasn’t the first time. I couldn’t wait to see how Rock would approach the Oscars ceremony.
Rock approached it head-on. His opening monologue was solely about race. Many  jokes landed, but some did not (suggesting that they fill the “In Memoriam” with black people who were killed by cops on the way to the movies). And he carried the theme throughout the ceremony. There were the movie clips with black actors inserted and ignored (funny but I felt like I had seen it before — and had in a similar “Saturday Night Live” sketch). There was the Black History Month Minute segment. The Stacey Dash spot. The movie theater commentary in Compton (which I enjoyed for the most part). And the Oscars beginning and ending with the song “Fight the Power.”
Rock was a one-note. And while some may say that by addressing the issue so forcefully he made Hollywood pay attention, I think that when you push something so hard, so much, people start to tune you out. They don’t listen. Had he sprinkled other jokes into his performance, the race jokes and commentary would have had a greater impact.
Another thing that bothered me was the reinforcement of stereotypes. When talking to a black woman outside a Compton movie theater about why she didn’t protest the Oscars by looting, he said, “This was your time to get that TV.” As in, if you’re black and you’re protesting, rioting and looting must certainly be involved.
But I felt like Rock really set back his mission with the introduction of PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants, bringing out three Asian kids (bad enough) and then adding that they were the same kids who made your iPhone. So racism is bad, but not when it’s involving Asians?  Could he see what he was doing?
I don’t think he could. After all, his entire commentary about race involved the black race. Not Asians, not Hispanics, not Native Americans – all of whom were also missing from the acting nominations.
That said, I thought a few other people who took the stage did a much better job at addressing the issue. Kevin Hart was both funny and serious and it worked. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs eloquently explained the steps the Academy was taking to be more inclusive. And Best Director Winner Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu gave one of the most beautiful speeches on race, issuing a call to “our generation to really liberate ourselves from all prejudice.”
Oscars So White was the dominant theme of the night, for sure. here are some of my other views from the night:
brie-larson-435
Oscar Dresses So White: It appeared that white was a dominant color on the red carpet. Purple, too. My personal best-dressed award goes to Brie Larson, who I think was perfect from head to toe in dark blue. I also thought Tina Fey in purple, Charlize Theron in red, Jennifer Garner (whom I mistook for Angelina Jolie on more than one occasion) in black and Naomi Watts in metallic were quite beautiful. I wasn’t a fan of Heidi Klum’s dress (the draping and light purple color were beautiful, but I hated the one big sleeve and the appliqués). Ditto for Cate Blanchett. She looked like a craft project to me. And I really disliked Kerry Washington’s black and white dress, particularly the black hip lines.
—  I also hate it when presenters pretend to be drunk, a la Tina Fey tonight.
— I’m starting to like the black and blue tuxedo.
— Lady Gaga’s performance of “Till It Happens to You” was spellbinding. It came from such a deep place and you could feel her pain, as well as see it on the faces of all the sexual assault victims on that stage. To me, it was one of the most powerful moments of the Oscars.
— The idea of having a list of names scrolling on the TV screen (so award recipients didn’t have to recite a bunch of people) seemed smart in theory. But in execution, unsuccessful. People still recited names on stage. They still got played off. The scrolling list just seemed to offer them a way to list a million names they would have never otherwise said. And it went way too fast to be effective.
— I thought it was funny a few years back when Ellen ordered pizza and then collected money from the audience for the pizza delivery guy’s tip. This year, Chris Rock brought his daughter’s Girl Scout troop in to sell cookies. Sure, it was cute, and it’s always fun to watch who pulls money out of their pockets and waves it around. (Also fun to imagine how much those starving actresses must have wanted a Samoa.) But I just hate when a shtick is repeated.
— My second-favorite person of the night: Louis C.K., whose made us laugh when he announced the winner of the Documentary Short Film award as “‘Mad Max’?!”
— I quite enjoyed those Kohl’s commercials with past Oscar speeches dubbed in – clever and kept you wanting more as you tried to figure out who the people were.
—  Almost as adorable as Jacob Tremblay? Morgan Freeman and Michael Keaton grabbing Girl Scout cookies from Chris Rock as the Oscars ended. I’m pretty sure that’s something we can all agree on.

The new Chris Rock movie is not as good as the hype (but it’s decent). Darlene Love belts it out for Letterman one more time. And South Dakota’s hilarious accidentally dirty billboard

chrisrocktopfive

I took my 3-month-old to the movies the other day, which some of my family and friends have called crazy and others have applauded (Hey, the kid’s got to get out in the world, it was a rainy afternoon, and it was a fun adventure. He behaved beautifully in the theater, didn’t cry a peep while sleeping through the whole flick, and except for some difficulty on the bus, it was a successful trip.)

Was very excited to see “Top Five,” the Chris Rock movie being hyped as an actual “good” Chris Rock movie, and really funny and smart and sharp. Best movie of his career, the critics I trust said.

And maybe it was. But it sure wasn’t as stellar as I had hoped.

First, the good: There were some genuinely laugh-out-loud funny scenes, the two best being when Rock’s stand-up comedian-turned-actor, Andre Allen, goes back to his old neighborhood and meets up with Tracy Morgan and others, and a hilarious strip-club scene with cameos by Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler (Seinfeld works blue here and it’s awesome; he says a word in this flick that I’m 100 percent certain he’s never said on stage before).

The story itself is not bad: Andre is getting married in a few days to a reality-TV star played by Gabrielle Union, but before that he’s spending a day with a New York Times reporter played by Rosario Dawson, to help promote a new “serious” movie he’s in.

But so much of the movie just felt forced to me; Dawson’s “journalist” was the most unprofessional and ridiculous portrayal of a newspaper reporter since Drew Barrymore played a copy editor with a secretary in “Never Been Kissed,” Rock’s not that good of an actor so his attempts at seriousness fall flat, and the ending didn’t really do it for me.

Still, it did have some laughs, and probably is the best movie Rock has done. Honestly, it’s worth seeing just for the Seinfeld and Sandler scene, truly side-splittingly awesome.

**Next up, it’s Christmas Eve, and I’d like to wish all my readers who celebrate a Merry Christmas. May your stocking be filled with everything you want, and make Christmas dinner make you stuffed and happy.

There are a lot of great Christmas traditions out there, and I’m not about to say one is better than the other. But one I’ve come to love, along with millions of others, is the fantastic female singer Darlene Love coming to the David Letterman show a few days before Dec. 25 every year, and belting out a beautiful rendition of “(Christmas) Baby Please Come Home.”

Love has an incredible voice, she’s been wowing Letterman for more than 20 years, and with his show ending in May, this was the last performance for him.

Just fantastic stuff, gives me chills to hear how beautiful her voice is.

dont-jerk-and-drive1.w529.h352.2x

**And finally, this made me laugh pretty hard, because there’s still a 12-year-old boy inside of all of us.

The state of South Dakota gets a lot of snow and ice in the winter, and is trying to spread the word to drivers not to jerk their steering wheels to avoid accidents, thereby causing accidents.

So they came up with a public service campaign, putting up billboards and commercials, with the slogan: “Don’t Jerk and Drive.”

Somewhere, Bart Simpson is laughing his ass off.

Good News Friday: Chris Rock and Frank Rich have a hilarious, insightful interview. A beautiful tale of a 7-year-old boy who becomes a hero, thanks to his brother. And a Vegas jackpot winner donates $14 million to charity.

garnerprotest

Three stories that made me feel better this week, as I shake my head in absolute bafflement and disgust at the Eric Garner murder non-indictment here in NYC. Truly, how in the hell can there not even be a trial in this case??? Just mind-boggling.

Chris Rock has always been an outstanding stand-up comedian; I have quoted/stolen so many of his jokes over the years, from his riff on white people’s anger over the O.J. Simpson verdict (“I ain’t seen white people this mad since they cancelled M*A*S*H!) to his famous “N-word vs. Black People” diatribe on his 1996 “Bring The Pain” concert special (one of the funniest I’ve ever seen by anybody).

But Rock isn’t just funny; he’s actually a really smart guy, who always has interesting things to say about our society. He’s hyping a new movie now called “Top Five,” and like most celebrities he’s doing a ton of publicity.
The best piece he’s done, that really blew me away with his insights and hilarity, was with the incredibly talented New York magazine writer Frank Rich. It’s long but so worth it.

A couple of excerpts to get you to click through:

On Racial progress in the U.S.: . There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years …  There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

On what he’d do as a reporter in Ferguson, Mo. right now: I’d do a special on race, but I’d have no black people. I’d only interview white people. Just white people. We know how black people feel about Ferguson — outraged, upset, cheated by the system, all these things.

On where he lives, in New Jersey: I’m in Alpine. That’s not Jersey. That’s like Beverly Hills with freaking snow.

Rock’s the best, and I don’t care if all his movies have stunk so far.

**Next up, I loved this ESPN Outside the Lines feature. It’s about a 7-year-old Massachusetts boy named Danny Keefe, who’s the waterboy for the Bridgewater High School football team. Danny suffers from a brain disorder,  and has an unusual way of dressing.

He was being bullied at school, until his brother and some buddies decided to do something about it.

A tear-jerker story, and a sweet one. There’s so much good in the world.

 

slots2n-1-web

**Finally, a really heartwarming story about a jackpot winner  in Las Vegas who so far has chosen to remain anonymous.
The new owner of $14 million decided to do something beautiful with his windfall: he’s donating the whole thing to charity. He’s also planning to help his church build a new facility, since they’ve been holding services in a high school gym (not a very religious place, I can tell you from my hundreds of hours spent in them covering sports events).

Very cool.

Why college students celebrated Osama’s death the most. A Doogie Howser thought. And Seinfeld and Rock brilliant in HBO special


Twenty-four hours after the news came that the U.S. had finally killed Osama bin Laden, I found myself thinking a lot about the college students we all saw pictures of during the wall-to-wall news coverage.
They were deliriously happy on campuses from Maine to California and all places in between; the incredible photo above is from Penn State.
And I got to thinking why above all others, these 18-to-21 year olds were so happy.
I mean of course, college kids want any excuse to party and blow off studying, but I think this goes deeper than that.
I have a theory. For these college kids today, Osama bin Laden ruined their childhoods. They were 8, 9, maybe 10 years old on 9/11, and they had to deal with something at a young age that was so different from anything we as Americans have ever had to deal with before (of course we’ve had wars that have cost more lives, but as far as one single day, with one attack on American soil, this was unprecedented.)
Those kids saw unfathomable pain and suffering, more than any kid should have to see. And for the last 10 years, Osama bin Laden has been their real-life Bogeyman.
He’s not the monster under the bed, or in the closet. He’s the real-life person who caused them such emotional trauma at a time in childhood when they were most vulnerable.
So Sunday night, when they found out he was dead, it was like the monster was finally killed. And they could finally turn the light off and go to sleep.

**On a related note (ha) … so it’s last Saturday night, 2 a.m., and I’m flipping around the dial and stop on “Doogie Howser, M.D.” (Don’t judge. That show ruled). And it struck me while I watched the last scene (it was the episode where the cute nurse picked Vinny Delpino over Doogie), while Doogie typed his two-sentence thought, that Doogie Howser was the world’s first-ever blogger.
Way back in 1991, we had our first blog.

That’s all. I always knew that show was ahead of its time.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

**Finally, sometimes an HBO special is so brilliant you wish it could be a regular series. Someone had the great idea to put Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C.K., Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais in a room together for an hour, and let them talk about comedy, and tell some hilarious jokes.

C.K. in particular comes off as brilliant here (he gets the one-liner in the clip below), but all four of them are awesome. The show is called “Talking Funny,” and it’s on HBO on Demand, and throughout the week airing on HBO’s regular channels.
I’m telling you, it’s laugh after laugh.
And you’ll never be able to hear Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” the same way again.

The Supreme Court does the right thing by kid criminals. And grandma’s selling crack again

I haven’t agreed with a lot of what the John Roberts Supreme Court has done.

Certainly the Citizens United case a few months ago, where the Court ruled that corporations can spend as much as they want on political campaigns, was pretty disgusting.

But I must say I was very pleased that on Monday the court barred sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles not convicted of murder.

Mistakes made when you’re 15, 16, 17 years old should not end your life, as long as you haven’t taken another life. Of course crimes like armed robbery are serious, and teenagers should absolutely pay the price for those offenses.

But now, after ruling on a Florida case before it, the Court agreed that life without parole for juveniles is excessive, and cruel and unusual.

There is hope. There is rehabilitation that can occur, when you’re that young. Now, if we could just get our government to put more money into rehabilitation and treatment, instead of just building more prisons and locking people up for decades for non-violent drug offenses, we might have a different society.

But hey, that’s probably asking too much.

***Hard to top this story for fun. If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times: You can’t trust grandmas to stop selling drugs.

In Pensacola, Fla., last week  an 87-year-old woman named Ola Mae Agee was busted for selling crack cocaine to an undercover police officer. She lives on Martin Luther King Drive (what did Chris Rock always say: “Martin Luther King Jr. stood for peace and non-violence. Yet in every city in America, you don’t want to be on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Bad things happen there.”)

Grandmas selling crack. I’m wondering if hard candy tastes better when you’re high.

The hilarious Brian Williams, a big product endorsement, and a little Barry M.

brianwilliams.squidarnoldbread

When you think of great funny men of our time, we all can agree on the same basic list.

Jerry Seinfeld. Chris Rock. Billy Crystal. Brian Williams.

Yes, the same Brian Williams who hosts the “NBC Nightly News.” Seriously, dude is really funny. I’ve seen him on “The Tonight Show” a few times, and then this past weekend he was on my favorite NPR show, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell me.”

Guy just has great comic timing, is smart and self-deprecating, and just comes off in a funny way. Here, take a listen for yourself.

***My own tennis update! I maintained my undefeated record in the Greater Volusia Tennis League Men’s 4.0 division Monday night. My partner Keith and I, who I’ve only played with a handful of times, totally destroyed our doubles foes, 6-2, 6-2. I’m now 5-0 in doubles on the season, thank you very much. Tennis players out there, you know when you’re in the zone and you expect every shot to go in, and you’re genuinely surprised when they don’t?

I was there Monday night. One other thing: The guys we played seemed nice, but even though we repeatedly praised their good shots, they never once said “nice shot” or anything when Keith or I hit a winner. That’s just poor court manners.

**OK, you may be asking yourself why there’s a picture of Arnold’s Whole Grain bread up there. I’ll tell you why. Not only is this stuff fantastic to eat, but my own accidental little experiment over the last few weeks has proven one more thing: This stuff does NOT go bad.

I accidentally bought a loaf of this delicious bread a day after thinking I was out, only to discover that I had a whole full loaf already in the fridge. Well, let me tell you, I figured it’d be a race against mold (bread’s arch-enemy, like The Joker is to Batman) with my bread. I figured there’s no way both loaves would survive.

But let me tell you my friends, it’s been more than three weeks and this bread is still going strong! I’m nearly finished with it and not one drop of green stuff anywhere.

Arnold Bread people, I bow to your fresh greatness.

**OK, two things in this week’s Sports Illustrated I’m compelled to share. One, Joe Posnanski’s excellent profile of Joe Paterno. I’m biased because I think Joe Pos is the greatest thing since, well, since Arnold 12 Grain Bread, but this truly is a great story about an old lion of a football coach.

The second thing, and this completely cracked me up: Remember the clip of that 9-year-old hockey kid in Boston who scored that crazy goal? Anyway, his name is Oliver Wahlstrom, and he was asked if he’ll honor the sudden autograph requests he’s getting.

“I don’t know. I’m still printing.”

Classic.

Finally, I realize that I’ve been doing this blog for three months and have yet to share one my all-time musical favorites with you. I’ve been roundly mocked for loving this man, but dammit, listen to this and tell me he’s not incredibly talented!