casI approach my THUD duties with the best of intentions. I would like to have this column to you more often, but the honest truth is that it takes me multiple hours to put one of these together, and I don’t always have a solid block of time to give to the endeavour (thus the sporadic THUD Newsbreaks, keeping you informed between columns).

At any rate here’s the latest column, and once again I am looking for your feedback. Check out the first news item – the call for your thoughts and submissions is at the end. The very next THUD column is depending on you!

Without further ado let’s get to the snark…

cas

IT HAS LOST ALL ITS COOL

This year I could strike up a conversation with random people – some of them attractive women! – about ABC’s Lost and not be stigmatized. While the show has a high geek factor, it also appeals to a mainstream audience, which is why it’s so successful.

Creation Entertainment is looking to put a stop to that ASAP. They’re teaming up with ABC to make the first Official Lost Fan Club, and they already have a Lost convention set for June. And did you know that if you’re a fan of Lost you’re a Lostie? Fuck you, Creation.

vfYou can join the club at www.lostfanclub.com, where you can also buy grotesquely overpriced garbage that you’ll be able to pick up for 1/8 the price at a yard sale in three years. Five more Lost conventions are planned for the year to come.

For ABC this makes sense, because there’s just no way that the show can retain a hold on the popular imagination forever. Say what you like about the viewing habits of mainstream folks but they’ll stop watching this show in maybe season 3 when it’s run its course. People like you and me, though – we’ll be around for the soul crushing finale, buy all the seasons on DVD and maybe even start a petition to have the show brought back on the SciFi Channel. So we’re the people ABC wants to claim immediately, to ensure a level of profitability for a maximum amount of time.

In other Lost news, we’re heading to the finale. Before the last episode of Lost I want to run a column on just your thoughts about the show; your take on the state of the island.

Send me your comments and thoughts to devin@chud.com with LOST in the subject line.

cas

I’M IN SOUTH AFRICA, BITCH!

The Dave Chappelle story continues to grow. The funniest man on television previously shut down production on the third season of his Comedy Channel show and disappeared. Speculation as to what the heck happened to Chappelle ran rampant – he was on a Rick James style crack binge, he was flying randomly around the country, he had flown to South Africa and locked himself in a mental institution.

It turns out the last part was at least partially true – Chappelle is in South Africa, but he says he was never in an institution. According to an interview with Time Magazine, which hit their website this morning, Chappelle is just chilling in South Africa with a friend of the family, getting some time to think.

"Let me tell you the things I can do here which I can’t at home: think, eat, sleep, laugh. I’m an introspective dude. I enjoy my own thoughts sometimes. And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking here."

Chappelle says that his retreat is because of the 50 million dollar payday and the way it changed not him but his closest friends. "If you don’t have the right people around you and you’re moving at a million miles an hour you can lose yourself," he says. "Everyone around me says, ‘You’re a genius!'; ‘You’re great!'; ‘That’s your voice!’ But I’m not sure that they’re right.

"You got to be careful of the company you keep," Chappelle says. "It’s hard to know how much to say. One of the things that happens when people make the leap from a certain vfvfamount of money to tens of millions of dollars is that the people around you dramatically change.

"During my ascent, I’ve seen other people go through that wall to become really big. They always said that fame didn’t change them but that it changes the people around them. You always hear that but you never really understand it. But now that I’m there that makes a lot of sense and I’m learning what that means. You have to have people around you that you can trust and aren’t just out for a meal ticket."

He goes on some more to talk about his search for integrity, and spends some really troubling time talking about his religion. In the end he doesn’t say when he’s coming back, if he even is. And he doesn’t say what the status of his show will be, although he makes a joke about seeing whether he has a job.

I can’t imagine that he doesn’t have a job. Comedy Channel must be torn about all this – on the one hand they desperately want a new season of Chappelle, but on the other the publicity is incredible, and Season 2 is coming to DVD soon. Still, the real question is whether this guy is going to be funny again.

Frankly, there just isn’t much less funny than a very religious person, and Chappelle is in South Africa visiting a religious friend. Is this some sort of deepening of his new Islamic faith? If he had converted to Judaism I would be psyched – those Jews are funny. But your average Islamic dude has the reputation of being about as funny as a Southern Baptist, except you can comfortably laugh at Southern Baptists.

This interview is going to convince a lot of people that Chappelle is doing OK. And maybe that’s what it shows; maybe in 2005 you don’t lie about your big problems to the press. But I’m definitely old enough to remember a time before the confessional style of celebrity, and it’s easy to imagine Chappelle subscribing to that form of celebrity. Only time will tell.

cas

WILL AND TROUSERSNAKE

vfJustin Timberlake is continuing his burgeoning acting career with a guest stint on what will probably be the final season of NBC’s Will and Grace. The former member of N’Sync and current holder of the sobriquet “The Trousersnake” will be playing gay – he’s going to be Jack’s bad boyfriend. Of course I know some people who tell me he wouldn’t be playing gay, but these are the same people who tell me that every single human being who has ever appeared in a movie or on television is homosexual. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Timberlake’s guest spot will be three episodes long. Will and Grace is a weird show in that all of it’s ratings come from the coasts – New York and LA make up the audience for the show, as the rest of the nation seems to hate faggots. Yet they have no problem with Jim Belushi.

cas

THE LIBERAL MEDIA STRIKES AGAIN!

Hey, remember when Dennis Miller was funny? It was a long time ago, young ones, and he was once a reigning king of snark and reference (he was sort of a spiritual godfather to the humor of Nick Nunziata, I would say, but I don’t know if Nick would agree), but now as David Cross so eloquently put it, he’s like President Bush’s court jester.

I guess this all happened some time post 9/11, because Miller was fairly lefty before – lefty enough to invite disaster by naming his kid Holden. But now Miller’s pretty much the yapping dog of Bush supporters, unfunnily rooting for more death and mayhem in the Middle East and completely losing all sense of reason as he backs the most hideous righties in every single issue they have. Of course what’s amazing is how the right will continue to bitch and moan  sdwhen Tim Robbins says something political – who wants to hear the politics of some stupid actor! – but they back the Millers and Schwarzeneggers of the world.

They’re going to have to support Miller on their own dime now – maybe he can get a slot on Fox News. CNBC, the latest channel to give his garbage a shot, is canceling him. The channel wants to replace Miller with more money talk, the godless liberals that they are.

The truth of the matter is that no one wants to watch this guy. It would be one thing if he remained funny after turning to the dark side of extreme conservatism, but he just hasn’t. It’s sort of a corollary to what I talked about with Chappelle above – you just can’t be funny if you’re bowing down to some kind of authority.

cas

TRIAL BY JURY GETS THE DEATH PENALTY

Bad news for those hoping to see Law & Order take over NBC’s schedule like some kind of fungus – sources in NBC are saying that the network’s upfront presentation tomorrow, where they announce their fall line-up, will reveal that the newest show, Trial by Jury, is cancelled.

Which is a pity because I think I genuinely like Trial by Jury the best of all the shows. It seems to be stuck in an awful time slot, though – Friday at 10 – and it may be just a little 888more complex than people were expecting. But it’s that complexity that I love; while I like the formulaic aspects of the other L&O shows, there’s something about the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes of a trial that I just think is cool. It’s also possible that this show was portraying law enforcement and the justice system a little less black and white than the other L&O shows.

I hope they give the show a shot in a new time slot. It wouldn’t be the first L&O to run into trouble with ratings – Special Victims Unit had some shaky years before powering up to be the most popular of the four current series. Trial by Jury has the possibility to bring in a very different audience to the franchise, if given a shot.

Other shows waiting anxiously for tomorrow’s upfront are The Office and American Dreams. We’ll let you know the scoop as soon as we get it.

cas

FAT ACTRESS

So Ben Affleck’s little guys can swim – good for him. But what does Jennifer Garner’s impending pregnancy mean for this little TV show she is on called Alias? Creator JJ Abrams spoke to Access Hollywood about it a little bit.

"It will affect (shooting)," said Abrams. "But I think we have overcome a lot of other issues vfeand things. I think the show will be a little bit different because of it, but Jennifer is so excited about everything right now…"

How different, JJ? "I think every Alias (she plays) will just be a pregnant person. (laughs)"

It’s pretty amazing that her contract doesn’t have some sort of clause built in saying that she can’t get knocked up. I mean, it’s an action show, so it isn’t like they can hide her tummy behind a couch or something every episode.

Fans of Alias have been complaining that the last season was very weak. Who knows, maybe something like this pregnancy will light a fire under the creators’ asses and they’ll do something daring and original. They’ll probably just put Alias in a coma or something, though.

cas

GOOD NIGHT GREENLIGHT

How weird is it that the third season of Project Greenlight, which started out looking like the biggest train wreck ever, was not only the best season to date but also the most inspiring and heartwarming? Who didn’t love seeing that schlubby Gulager rise above and prove Matty Damon right by making what looks like a pretty good movie? This was the Greenlight story America wanted, not the painful crash and burns of the last two seasons (America’s secret shame is that while we like to watch people flame out and break down crying when Donald Trump fires them, we really like it even better when they overcome terrible odds and evil black women to win).

The terrible irony is that this is probably the end of Project Greenlight. "Last night was probably the last new episode of Project Greenlight ever," giant madman Chris Moore writes in his blog at Bravotv.com.

"I am sorry to be reporting this here, but anyone reading this blog is a devoted and loyal Project Greenlight fan. You have been loyal and vocal and true fans of what we have tried to do, so I want you all to know the truth first."

vsaTo make matters worse, Moore has left LivePlanet, the production company behind Greenlight, to start his own company.

Part of what has killed Greenlight is that the show’s rating plummeted as the season went on. Also hurting was the Miramax/Disney divorce – the newly formed WeinsteinCo will be less likely to take big risky chances on dudes who win internet contests without the Mouse House’s coffers backing them up.

At least the show went out with a bang. And maybe with a movie worth seeing. We’ll know about that come December, when Feast should be released.

cas

TAKE DOWN THE BIG TOP

Sad news for fans of HBO’s impenetrable and boring Carnivale – it’s all over. The show, which seemed to have as its mission statement avoiding the forward motion of plot as much as possible, made it two seasons before the network yanked it.

I’m interested in how HBO makes decisions like this. They don’t really care about ratings, since they are a pay network and have no advertising. As long as they don’t think people are quitting the channel you almost have to assume they don’t care. Unless, of course, the s bigwigs think that the show is a ponderous waste of effort for both creators and fans, filled with faux imagery and meaning solely to trick people into thinking that something is going on.

Is it possible that DVD sales play a part in this decision? Did the first season just not sell well, indicating to them that no one cared about the show? At any rate my understanding is that the program didn’t wrap up all their loose ends, so expect an avalanche of fans trying to bring this one back from the dead.

cas

AND THAT CONCLUDES OUR BROADCAST DAY

Don’t forget to send me your thoughts, complaints, guesses and erotic slashfic for Lost so I can lazily build my next column directly from your hard work. And send me email in general (devin@chud.com) – I need to get a letter column running here again, and I am thinking of copying Nicky Nunziata and running some of the fairly amazing mail (sort of all hate) that I get in a column I am thinking of calling Shout at the Devil.

Discuss this in the official THUD thread on our message board!