Is This the End of 'American Idol'?

After 10 long years of big-footing its way through pop culture, it looks like "American Idol" has sung its last note as the country's No. 1 TV show, music ("music"?) source, Broadway feeder school, and all-around entertainment distraction. With the departure of judges Ellen DeGeneres and (reportedly) Kara DioGuardi, there is no way that "Idol" will continue as the well-oiled machine that it was in the hallowed days of Randy-Paula-Simon.

'Jersey Shore': The Backlash Begins

"Jersey Shore" returns this Thursday, and right on cue, the naysayers are piping up—from The New York Times to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. What are they saying about America's new icons?

Angelina Jolie: Spy Master?

Consider: Angie's thriller "Salt" opens in less than a month, and it just so happens that she plays an American woman who is accused of spying for the Russians. Now, if folks are finding it hard to believe that the Russians—decades after the end of the Cold War—had engineered some kind of long-range plan to infiltrate Washington think tanks, is it any less conceivable that yesterday's news was really a ruse created to drum up publicity for a movie?

Isner Over Mahut: So Long, It Hurts

Who says tennis is a gentlemanly game? The marathon, three-day match at Wimbledon between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut—just resolved in Isner's favor, at 70 to 68 games—became something like mortal combat . . . for the fans.

Film Review: '8: The Mormon Proposition'

A good documentary should be like a kindergarten teacher: something that sternly makes you pay attention, and if you're lucky, learn something. By that standard, what grade should "8" receive?

PBS Relaunching Retro Fave "Electric Company"

HEY, YOU GUYS! That's not a desperate plea to read this article (mostly). For children of the '70s, it's the catchiest catchphrase from the hippest TV show this side of "High School Musical." "The Electric Company" was the first show to make a grade-school kid feel like a grown-up. It was basically a sketch comedy—a sort of junior "Carol Burnett"—filled with silly skits, pop-culture spoofs and snappy songs. It was so good that most kids never noticed it was really a reading booster shot....

Film on NHL's Sean Avery and the Fashion World

You might say that Sean Avery is the human equivalent of jock itch. It's his job, as the baddest badass in the National Hockey League, to annoy his opponents, to get under their skin—anything to gain an edge. Like the time he painted his fingernails black. "It was an experiment to see what a guy would do when he saw a fist coming at him and the nails are painted," he says. Or the time he turned his back on a game against New Jersey so he could wave his arms to block goalie Martin Brodeur's...

The Oscars Should Die

Whether or not the Hollywood writers' strike nixes this year's Academy Awards telecast, it may be time to kill the show.

Babs's Stepson Also Rises

You might call Josh Brolin the Rory Culkin (or Stephen Baldwin or Lorna Luft) of the moment. He's one of those actors who are better known for their bloodlines—dad James Brolin, wife Diane Lane, stepmother Barbra Streisand—than for their own work. To the extent it's possible to take pity on someone so blessed, I do feel for the guy: Brolin is talented, but it's hard to avoid the hunch that he's getting work only because he's worked his connections. It's not as though his résumé is...

TV: The End of 'The Sopranos'

One of the perks of being a TV critic is that you get to see all the shows before the public does. So you can imagine what my week has been like. Everyone who knows what I do for a living has asked me: "Does Tony die at the end of 'Sopranos'?" One person framed the question like this: "Do we know what happens at the end of 'Sopranos'?" To which I responded: "We can't know because you obviously do not." I know—bitchiness is never becoming, but I couldn't help myself. The fact is, I don't know...

Television Was UsTube

When "Davy Crockett" debuted on ABC in 1954, the show was supposed to be a flop. "Crockett" was an earnest series of dramas based on the manly exploits of the American adventurer, starting with "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter." The show was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself, who devised it to promote Frontierland at his new amusement park, Disneyland. Yet Disney's faith in the show was so minimal that before the first episode aired, the third one, "Davy Crockett at the Alamo," had been...

Newsmakers

Roseanne is back with a one-hour comedy special on HBO. She spoke with Nicki Gostin.I'm trying to get comfortable with aging. It's hard. Reality is really tough.No. They don't do you any good except make you violent. I've been on everything but now I meditate. Meditation helps calm me down a lot.Yeah, I had my stomach made the size of a walnut and I still maintain my weight at 180.Well, it takes a lot of discipline. I used to just gorge. Now I gorge all day on smaller amounts. I'm still fat and...

Ready for Prime Time?

One of the disadvantages of being the last TV show to debut on the fall schedule is that your show has already been discussed, dissected and, in some quarters, dismissed before it's hit the air. By now, you've probably heard about "30 Rock," the NBC sitcom created by "Saturday Night Live" alumnae (and "Mean Girls" writer) Tina Fey, and you probably think you know all about it—that it's an "SNL"-inspired comedy, not to be confused with Aaron Sorkin's "SNL"-inspired drama, also on NBC. It turns...

Killer Serials

There's a rule of thumb for writers that goes, if you introduce a gun into your story, it had better go off. In the first episode of ABC's "The Nine," the gun appears before the first commercial--and is never seen again. It belongs to a nerdy guy named Egan Foote (John Billingsley), who arrives at a bank in Los Angeles to ask for a loan. When he's turned down, he heads to the bank's bathroom, apparently to commit suicide. But someone knocks on the door, and Egan, loser that he is, drops his...

Starting to Feel 'Lost'

I'm reluctant to question the way that "Lost" unlocks its secrets. The show has changed directions countless times in its first two seasons, and each of the zigzags—discovering the hatches, the second set of survivors, the "Others" and of course the whole mysterious "Dharma" initiative—has only deepened the story and fed fans' obsession with this most willfully inscrutable show. In other words, the producers know how to tell a story. But last night's premiere was an exercise in extreme...

Televsion: Shark

James Woods has never been Hollywood's most subtle actor--which makes him perfect for "Shark." Sebastian Stark, a.k.a. Shark, is the legal equivalent of flesh-eating bacteria, a high-priced defense attorney who devours anyone standing between him and victory. Until the day that Stark exonerates an accused wife-beater, who leaves court, goes home and kills the woman. Stark suddenly discovers his conscience and joins the D.A.'s office, and that's when "Shark" starts to drown. Woods is wonderfully...

Race Baiting

"Survivor: Cook Islands," which premiered Thursday night, received much more than the usual preshow buildup thanks to a controversial gimmick: the four tribes are segregated—and we do mean segregated—by race: black, white, Asian and Latino. When CBS revealed this twist a few weeks ago, many people around the country were incensed that the show would pit races against each other as entertainment (though, curiously, no one has ever complained about women competing against men). A group of New...

Falling for Fall: What's Cool and Coming Your Way

When we say that Aaron Sorkin's "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" is this season's big newTV show, that's not "Fall Preview" hype. We mean that literally. Did you see that title? Or the cast? Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet, D. L. Hughley, Sarah Paulson, Steven Weber, Timothy Busfield, Nathan Corddry --combined, they've got to cost almost as much as Perry made for "Friends." "Studio 60" takes place behind the scenes at a show like "Saturday Night Live," only glitzier. The set looks...

Oh Brother

This is a good time to be a bad guy. Tony Soprano, Dr. House, "The Shield," "Deadwood"—the badder the lead character, the bigger the ratings and acclaim. So it's not surprising that someone has taken the anti-hero worship to the next level.Showtime's "Brotherhood" (debuting July 9) is a drama that orbits around two bad-boy polestars. Tommy Caffee (Jason Clarke) is a conniving state assemblyman in working-class Providence, R.I. His brother Michael (Jason Isaacs) runs the neighborhood mob. You...

Putting a Spell on Us

Aaron spelling was the McDonald's of TV producers--no one ever accused him of being a master chef, but he sold more shows than anyone. Spelling, who died last week of a stroke at 83, was never deluded by where the likes of "The Love Boat," "Dynasty" and "T.J. Hooker" would leave him in history. "We often have to make the choice between 150 critics and 150 million Americans out there," he once said, "and I have always felt that my job was to please the viewers." He may not have reinvented...

Chappelle: A Dozen Skits, a Million Questions

On July 9, Comedy Central will air what it's calling "Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes," but that must be a typo. These are really the last episodes, as in the dozen skits Dave Chappelle had filmed before he went crazy or to Africa or wherever he went after he walked away from his $55 million (or so) contract. Chappelle himself had nothing to do with this salvage job; in fact, the two blues guys who croon the "Chappelle's Show" theme stop, hilariously, and say: "I don't think he's comin'."...

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