Saturday, July 12, 2008


I love Rihanna as much as the next guy. Maybe more. She seems to get more stunning with each single, which is pretty stunning, considering that she always seems to have a new one on the charts. And if you ask me (I know, I know, nobody has), "Umbrella" ranks as one of the 20 best pop singles of the '00s. But am I the only one who was misled by the tribal beats and dubby vocals of her 2005 debut hit, "Pon de Replay," into thinking that she'd be a totally different kind of artist? Like, perhaps, a sort of distaff Sean Paul (only sexier--and better)?

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon have only been married for one hot minute, and already the gossip columns are spreading rumors of trouble in paradise (link). You'd think they would have learned from the examples of Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, and Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro. Rampant PDA and public declarations that you're "soul mates" (could they be any cornier) are harbingers of romantic doom. Who doubted that Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica, Britney & Kevin: Chaotic and Carmen and Dave: An MTV Love Story would end in tears? The moral of the story: Some things are better left unsaid.

Where in the world is partyholic Tara Reid? Maybe I'm just a sucker for an underdog, but I've always felt that Tara was a pretty good actress (she was, after all, in Robert Altman's Dr. T and the Women, left, and the late director did not cast no-talent bimbos in his films) who was unfairly maligned by the sexist media. Several years ago when the tabs were reporting a one-night fling between Britney and Colin Farrell, Britney came out looking slutty while Colin came out smelling like...a stud. Matthew McConaughey can play the bongos nude and wander around a party in Mexico, drunk off his ass, searching for a missing flip flop, and his box-office continues to soar. If Tara were a guy, she'd probably have an Oscar nod and a Golden Globe by now.

Are Alicia Keys' As I Am (she really needs to work on her album titles) and Mariah Carey's E=MC squared (ditto!) already over after just one No. 1 single and a Top 20 "flop" apiece? As I Am's "No One" was simply a too-tough act to follow. But poor Mariah (sorry to keep picking on her). It's time for her to freshen up her sound. She's been more or less singing the same old song since "Honey." The breathy vocals and mid-tempo hip-hop-lite grooves that seemed semi-fresh in 1997 have gone stale. "We Belong Together" notwithstanding, I miss the good old "Vision of Love" and "Fantasy" days when Mariah used to actually sing.

Angelina Jolie was lauded at Cannes for her performance in the Clint Eastwood-directed Changeling. And Brad Pitt's still-unscreened David Fincher-directed The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is generating Best Picture Oscar talk based on its trailer alone (link). Will the Academy finally embrace the couple after snubbing them last year for their respective deserving performances in A Mighty Heart and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, or will their personal lives get in the way again? Will somebody please remind me, what it is about their personal lives that everyone finds so objectionable? Presumably wronged woman Jennifer Aniston clearly has moved on (so should we), and since when did adopting orphan babies become anything less than noble? Do we hate them because they're beautiful?

Speaking of the Oscars, when will Meryl Streep get her second Best Actress Oscar to bookend the one she got for learning Polish and emoting her butt off in 1982's Sophie's Choice? Sure she also won Best Supporting Actress back in the Pleiostene Era for Kramer vs. Kramer, but for God's sake, Hilary Swank won Best Actress twice in five years! And you heard it here first: Next year's Amelia Earhart biopic, Amelia, will put Hilary in the frontrunning for a third. Meryl's Proof (left) seems promising (Mamma Mia!, not so much), but then, so did Rendition and Lions for Lambs last year. And since we are on the subject, when will they finally make the movie version of the Sunset Boulevard musical so that Glenn Close at last can snag the Oscar that everyone seems to think she already has. (I've already given up on Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Pfeiffer, and Julianne Moore's chances are waning fast.) A further Oscar note: Here in Buenos Aires, I recently saw a poster for the just-out Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (aka Antes Que el Diablo Sepa Que Has Muerto) that touted Albert Finney as an Oscar winner (aka Ganador de Oscar). Glaring error, hint or both?

I'm no Guy Ritche fan, but I do hope that the state of his union to Madonna is as solid as they keep insisting it is. Despite her protestations to the contrary, I am not convinced that some of Hard Candy's romantic angst wasn't inspired by him. Still, I can't help but feel a twinge of excitement over her stirring up a little controversy for something other than botched adoptions and dissing George Bush after years of playing the devoted missus and, if her brother Christopher Ciccone's new tell-all (link) is to believed, dropping her gay pals to appease her supposedly homophobic hubby. Madonna, NY Yankee Alex Rodiguez, his wife and Lenny Kravitz? A rumored quadrangle that makes me feel like it's 1994 all over again.
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