Friday, October 17, 2008


Am I alone here? Does anybody else find it virtually unfathomable that after nearly 10 years of being one of the biggest female pop stars on the planet (second, perhaps, only to Madonna, whom I'll get to later), Britney Spears is only now collecting her second No. 1 hit with the creatively underachieving "Womanizer"? And if that's not enough of an eyebrow-raiser, "Womanizer" is only her fifth Top 10 hit on Billboard's Hot 100! Personally, I think "Toxic" and "Gimme More" were both more deserving of the chart-topping honor, but it seems like the stars are aligned for a spectacular Britney comeback. And to think, just last week, I was dismissing her as the underdog to Christina Aguilera, whose single, "Keeps Gettin' Better," plummets from 7 to 17 in its second chart week.

Speaking of Madonna, why do married celebrities continuously deny split rumors when a simple "no comment" would do, only to do the deed months later? It's not like a Madonna-Guy Ritchie divorce wasn't a foregone conclusion on their wedding day in 2000. And Hard Candy's love-on-the-rocks ballad "Miles Away," which I am convinced is about Guy despite Madonna's protestations to the contrary, only fueled speculation. The timing seems a bit strange, though, considering that she's in the middle of her Sticky & Sweet world tour. Did they decide to break up back stage after a post-concert showdown? Or has it been underway for months, but they are only now getting around to announcing it? I suspect the former, as I have a hard time believing that anyone not pulling a major publicity stunt would see this as the best time to go public with such news. And that Madonna tellingly and bitterly dedicated the song to the "emotionally retarded" before declaring, "You might know a few people who fall into that category--God knows I do," when introducing it in Boston the night after the divorce news broke, makes one think that something major went down between husband and wife.

I have no doubt that Madonna will survive--emotionally, romantically, professionally. As for Guy, it's a good thing he's already signed on to direct Sherlock Holmes, with Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock and Jude Law as Watson, which will probably end up saving his career. How'd he score such an A-list gig? And what about the children? I imagine that Guy and Madonna will share custody of their 8-year-old son, Rocco. But I can't help but wonder what kind of relationship will Guy now have with Madonna's 12-year-old daughter, Lourdes, and their adopted 3-year-old Malawian son, David Banda. Surely the David was a Madonna project. At least he'll get to kiss the macrobiotic diet and all that Kabbalah stuff goodbye. If he even wants to.

How do you know a daytime soap is in top form? You find yourself rooting for both the good guy and the bad guy. That's the case with One Life To Live these days. Here's the deal: Todd Manning is falling in love with his presumed-dead amnesiac former rape victim (only in soapland kids, only in soapland) Marty Saybrooke and vice-versa. While he's nursing her back to health far from the prying eyes of her loved ones and her son, who all still think she's six feet under, Todd is keeping her in the dark about their tortured history and the fact that she has family in town.

Meanwhile, Todd's arch enemy, John McBain, who was sleeping with Marty when she "died" and is now hitting the sheets with Todd's ex-wife Blair, is hot on his trail, trying to find out whom he's hiding upstairs in his secret room. If the chemistry between Trevor St. John and Susan Haskell, who play Todd and Marty, wasn't so red-hot and their performances so on-point, I wouldn't buy any of it for second. But as I watch, I find myself hoping and praying that Todd and Marty will live happily ever after and that John will finally confirm the identity Todd's secret house guest. (Did I mention that Todd is also planning on stealing the baby that his pregnant teenage daughter Starr is about to give birth to so that he and Marty can run away and raise him together?) Only the best-written soap can test a viewer's tolerance for the improbable while creating genuine moral conflict in said viewer. Love. It.

I'm also still totally in love with General Hospital: Night Shift. Tuesday's episode was the first of the two-part season finale, and once again, I laughed, I cried, I wondered why it has to end so soon. This week, I was particularly impressed by Kimberly McCullough, who plays Robin Scorpio, especially during Robin's monologue to her comatose dad, Robert, who, thankfully, snapped out of his deep slumber toward the end of the show. The character of Robin can be infuriatingly preachy, but Kimberly really nails the material week in, week out. If the writers of the parent show would give her such meaty material instead of focusing on all that mob nonsense, which no one but the writers seems to enjoy (the proof is in the ratings), she'd be a virtual Emmy shoo-in.

Guillaume Depardieu, the 37-year-0ld son of Oscar-nominated French actor Gerard Depardieu, died on unlucky October 13 in Garches, France, from pneumonia brought on by a virus he'd contracted while filming a movie in Romania. I panic whenever anyone younger than I am dies suddenly, but Depardieu's death hit me hard for another reason. He was the star of, Tous les matins du monde (that's him, second from the top, and his dad, bottom), the very first foreign-language film I ever saw in the theater. My first boyfriend, Derek, dragged me to see it in 1992.

I'm glad he did, because if I hadn't seen that movie, which I loved, and all the other subtitled films he took me to, I may have missed out on one I saw on my own, Trois Couleurs Bleu, starring my beloved Juliette Binoche, which remains my all-time favorite cinematic experience. I still remember the exquisitely beautiful score to Tous les matins du monde. Derek bought the soundtrack at the Tower Records near Lincoln Square after we saw the movie. He played it so much that it became the de facto soundtrack to our relationship from that moment on. My heart goes out to Gerard and the rest of the family that Guillaume left behind.
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