Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mad About You


Above is Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Joan Walsh fired"

Mad About You.
And I don’t mean Belinda Carlisle!
Mad About You was a successful NBC sitcom.
It was hilarious and Helen Hunt won Emmy after Emmy for playing Jamie Buckman.
Her husband Paul was played by Paul Reiser.
That’s where I get confused.
Paul flopped huge. 
No one flopped like him ever.  The Paul Reiser Show.  Rember?

The awful show, if you haven't already guessed, starred celebrity Paul Reiser as celebrity Paul Reiser in The Paul Reiser Show. That's three helpings of Paul Reiser and more than enough to make most TV viewers insist they were already full, thank you.

In its debut outing, the show set a record for worst NBC sitcom debut ever. Ever. Nothing has ever done worse in the network's long, long history. Nothing. And this is the network that aired Four Kings, Double Trouble, Hello, Larry, My Mother The Car and The Michael Richards Show. But The Paul Reiser Show got worst ratings than every other NBC sitcom. Ever. We'd already told one vice president at NBC that the show was a turkey before it aired. But after it aired, he wasn't the only one assuring us it would run through May. There was a whole chorus of NBC suits insisting that (a) the show got better as it went along (were they watching the same episodes we were?) and (b) NBC had invested a small fortune in the show.

That was money wasted. That should have been obvious from the start. And that's the reason we're writing about the just cancelled, only two-episode airing series.

Paul Reiser is annoying. He is to be avoided. Ourselves, we figured that, outside of his being caught in a tranny scandal, nothing could make us stop shielding our eyes to avoid him. And, judging by the ratings, our reaction is fairly common across America.

In the industry? He is infamous for his on set tantrums, for his bitchy nature and for never, ever being happy. He is a nightmare to be around and most who have worked with him will tell you that in much saltier language. He began earning his reputation on the set of My Two Dads shortly after he felt the show was secure (it would run three seasons) and he felt Greg Evigan was no longer playing just the dumb 'dad' but also the sexy one. At that point, Paul Reiser taught NBC the meaning of the term "diva." And though NBC tired quickly of the antics, suits convinced themselves that the problem was Reiser was "too creative" to work under others directions. So he went off to develop his own project.

Which he more or less did solo. Danny Jacobson got a credit but -- ask Roseanne -- Danny was really good about getting credits that others didn't feel he'd earned. As originally developed, Mad About You was all Reiser. And that may seem like a compliment to some people. People with memory trouble or who never saw the show or only saw the show after the first season won't get what a problem that actually was.

Mad About You featured no attractive men in the original cast -- or in the cast at all (guest stars would sometimes be the exception). That's because Diva Reiser wasn't about to have another show where he competed with an Evigan (it was known as the "No Pretty Boy" edict).

"Too pretty" was Reiser's most used phrase when nixing men to play Mark (the role of Paul's best friend) until finally agreeing on Richard Kind.

Mad About You was going to be the story of Paul Buckman. Unlike My Two Dads, there would be no one to steal focus. He wasn't keen even on the idea of Paul having a wife but NBC made it clear that one was needed. Throughout the time it aired and long after it went off the air, My Two Dads was a gold mine for stand up comics who wanted to tell gay jokes or 'jokes.' While that image didn't really stick to Greg Evigan (possibly due to BJ and the Bear or due to the stereotypes we were addressing last week), it did stick to Paul Reiser. And he was informed really quick  that a sister for Paul wasn't going to cut it, the character needed a wife.

A lot of actresses read for the part of Jamie Buckman. Some were hilarious. Helen Hunt was not. Hunt gave a professional, albiet slightly distracted, reading. Not going for the obvious laugh lines was a lucky move on Hunt's part. The women who did were nixed by Reiser who set his sights on Hunt, then primarily known as a dramatic actress -- and a good one at that. Which meant, Reiser thought, that she'd be no competition in the laugh department and Jamie could be straight person and/or butt of the jokes.

For most of the series run, Paul (Reiser) and Jamie (Helen Hunt) didn't have a child. By the time they did, the end was already planned. If it hadn't been, there would have been no child because Reiser didn't want to exchange a dialogue with a child actor. He'd felt upstaged by Staci Keanan (the "my" of My Two Dads) and also didn't like the fact that she and Evigan had a natural connection on air while the Keanan and Reiser connection always felt forced.

All his ducks were in a row, Reiser just knew. But a funny thing happened, Hunt's distracted nature in the reading? It wasn't that she was distracted. It was how she saw Jamie responding to Paul. So she wasn't the nag the scripts were calling for. She was bemused when she was supposed to be a harpy. And Reiser could try the audience's patience as well so they found themselves identifying with Jamie. Jamie was a hit.

At one point, Reiser went to NBC trying to pitch the break up of Paul and Jamie (for good, not just toyed with as what aired did). NBC made it clear that audiences loved Jamie and that the only sitcom where the characters divorced and one disappeared that they knew of was Rhoda and that show (they felt) spent years trying to figure out what it was actually about after Joe was written off the show. Then NBC and Columbia-Tri Star (the studio producing the sitcom) made it clear that Hunt wasn't just staying, she was doing a lot more on the show. At which point, Mad About You got cooking and became a reliably funny show (and, in 1996, four years after the debut, Hunt would finally get a producer credit).

If you think Reiser took comfort in the fact that he was co-starring in a hit show and getting residuals as a co-creator, that he was set for life, you don't know Paul Reiser. He's never happy. And he was unhappy when Helen Hunt won an Emmy for Mad About You. And he was twice as unhappy when she won a second one, and a third one and a fourth one. But what really made him hopping mad was when Hunt became the first sitcom performer to win an Academy Award for lead performance in a film while appearing on a TV series. Nothing made Reiser happy and people took to calling him "Mad About Everything."

That NBC would want to work with Reiser again, let alone spend a ton of money developing a show for him, is only surprising if you don't know that "he would never do that to me" is an industry axiom. The "he" is why it's Paul Reiser whom the networks give more chances to instead of, for example, Roseanne. Men's bad behavior is forever explained away (it's why CBS is still attempting to come to some sort of understanding with Charlie Sheen). So the network that really should have been looking to some of their nineties female comedy stars to see if they wanted to develop a TV show instead went with Reiser.

And he was not funny.
He was so not funny.
And America did not want to watch his show.
So why bring him back?
I love Helen Hunt.  I know she’s focused on directing these days but I’ve always wished she’d come back in a sitcom.
I will gladly watch Mad About You – even with Reiser – just to see Helen.
She’s hilarious and made for comedy.
She doesn’t really have a film career and that’s more due to the fact that they don’t like comedies anymore.
Not romantic comedies.  Not adult comedies.  They just like gross out comedies.
Now she could do one.  She could be as funny as Megan was in Why Him? But that’s not really what we want to see Helen do.
So if she wants to come back in Mad About You, she’s got a viewer in me. 
But Paul better grasp he’s not running things and America hasn’t been waiting for him to return.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, December 27, 2017.

XINHUA insists, "The hard-won victory in 2017 over the terror group Islamic State (IS) by Iraq is overshadowed by a growing conflict with the Kurds [. . .]"

And REUTERS notes that the US government insisted, December 5th, that only 3,000 ISIS members remained in Iraq and Syria but today insists the number has fallen to 1,000.

"Hard-won victory," XINHUA insisted on Tuesday.

That would be the same Tuesday that KURDISTAN 24 reported:

Contrary to the Iraqi Prime Minister’s announcement of the end of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq in early December, the extremist group’s sleeper cells continue to launch attacks and claim lives. 
IS extremists have killed and injured 40 people while attacking the Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi in south and west of Kirkuk. 
 The extremists appear to have been hiding in the Sunni-populated areas of southern and western Kirkuk. 
 According to the statements of the Iraqi army commanders, IS group have launched surprise attacks in Sharia’a, Riyadh, Hawija road and some other areas in southern Kirkuk.


Or something.

In other news of 'success,' . . .

Cycle of violence continues with fighters in 2017 killing families linked to abuses from 2014. Until proper justice is done for abuses in we will continue to see acts of vigilante revenge

Oh, those peaceful Yazidis.

Hard to believe, right, that the Yazidis could ever have teamed up with a neocon p.r. firm.

They're so pure.

And so innocent.

Trapped on a mountain (of their own making) somewhere -- even all this time later.

Turning to US politics, . . .

If Ralph Nader hadn’t run for president in 2000, might Gore have won, his administration not sat on a memo such as “Bin Laden determined to strike in US”, thus avoiding 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ISIS, and so forth?

But Ralph Nader did run -- and had every right to run.

What might have been different if Al Gore had selected a better running mate?

Joe Lieberman?

Defeated in a 2006 Democratic primary.

Joe Lieberman?

Neocon Joe?

And let's not forget that the war on Iraq was also part of Bill Clinton's administration.

Or that Al Gore initially supported the war on Iraq in the lead up (he would denounce it before the illegal war started but he signaled support early on).

In March of 2003, the ongoing Iraq War started.

And let's blame Ralph Nader.

Not the Joe Liebermans.

Nor the Democrats in the Senate who voted for it (Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Dianne Feinstein . . .).

Let's blame Ralph Nader.

Not the media that lied and whored.

And isn't it funny how, all this time later, we pretend that the lying just happened?

We pretend like the owners own wants and desires didn't influence the coverage.

Blame Ralph Nader.

It's his fault for running for president.

I denounced Ralph in 2000.  For a number of reasons.

But I never suggested that he didn't have a right to run.

I never suggested that he needed to drop out of the race.

That's not how it works in a democracy.

But pretending Ralph is the problem allows you to forget how Al Gore couldn't make the case to the American people clearly.

Was he harmed by the media?  Of course.  That's to be expected.

But when he took his message to the American people, it wasn't a good one.  It wasn't strong.

That's on him.

He had enough money to get around the media (I donated to Al's campaign).

But he was a weak candidate.

Blame Ralph, blame Jill, blame this, blame that.

Never hold the losing candidate accountable for their own errors, apparently.

Jackson Lears, in the latest edition of THE LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, notes how weak candidate Hillary was:

This approach animates Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis, a 33-page document whose authors include Norman Solomon, founder of the web-based insurgent lobby ‘The Democratic Party’s claims of fighting for “working families” have been undermined by its refusal to directly challenge corporate power, enabling Trump to masquerade as a champion of the people,’ Autopsy announces. But what sets this apart from most progressive critiques is the cogent connection it makes between domestic class politics and foreign policy. For those in the Rust Belt, military service has often seemed the only escape from the shambles created by neoliberal policies; yet the price of escape has been high. As Autopsy notes, ‘the wisdom of continual war’ – what Clinton calls ‘global leadership’ –
was far clearer to the party’s standard bearer [in 2016] than it was to people in the US communities bearing the brunt of combat deaths, injuries and psychological traumas. After a decade and a half of non-stop warfare, research data from voting patterns suggest that the Clinton campaign’s hawkish stance was a political detriment in working-class communities hard-hit by American casualties from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Francis Shen of the University of Minnesota and Douglas Kriner of Boston University analysed election results in three key states – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – and found that ‘even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump.’ Clinton’s record of uncritical commitment to military intervention allowed Trump to have it both ways, playing to jingoist resentment while posing as an opponent of protracted and pointless war. Kriner and Shen conclude that Democrats may want to ‘re-examine their foreign policy posture if they hope to erase Trump’s electoral gains among constituencies exhausted and alienated by 15 years of war’. If the insurgent movements within the Democratic Party begin to formulate an intelligent foreign policy critique, a re-examination may finally occur. And the world may come into sharper focus as a place where American power, like American virtue, is limited. For this Democrat, that is an outcome devoutly to be wished. It’s a long shot, but there is something happening out there.

The problem wasn't Jill Stein.

The problem was Hillary Clinton.

Who never should have run in 2016.

It's amazing how the tired little Hillary had to rush home every evening.

We criticized Bully Boy Bush for that in 2000 -- or some of us did.  Little boy needed his own pillow and bed.  Wanted to be president but was too weak to campaign.

And then in 2016, we saw the same thing with Hillary.

She never should have run.

Eight years prior, she was branded a racist by Barack Obama and the media.

Eight years prior, he hung her vote for the Iraq War around her neck.  Used that vote to come from behind in October of 2007 and become the front runner.  And was very clear in September and October of 2007 that he was going to do that.

But eight years later, when she was still insisting that (a) her vote wasn't wrong and (b) that Bully Boy Bush had misled her, she's the candidate to go with?

Hillary is the problem.

More to the point, so is Ben Landis.

Oh, Ben, thanks, big boy, for your big old Tweet on Iraq.

Your only Tweet, in fact.

This illegal war has lasted over 14 years (15th anniversary is this coming March).

And you can't pay attention to it, can you?

You can't call for it's end.

But you can suddenly remember the ongoing war to trash . . . Ralph Nader.

Last time I checked, Ralph didn't vote for the Iraq War, didn't cheerlead for it, didn't call for it.

While celebrating the holidays at home, let us not forget the service members spending Christmas abroad. I was fortunate enough to spend this Christmas with some of the brave heroes serving in Iraq from California & across our nation. Happy holidays & thank you for your sacrifice

Oh, look, it's US House Rep Carbajal.  In Iraq.  This week.

Because the Iraq War hasn't ended.

Because US troops remain in Iraq.

A reality that some might consider addressing.

Not Senator Dianne Feinstein, of course.  She didn't go to Iraq.  She still hasn't noted that a Californian died in Iraq last week -- not even on her Twitter feed.

New content at THIRD:

Isaiah's THE WORLD TODAY JUST NUTS "Joan Walsh fired" went up Saturday (she's now got a contract with CNN, to update) and he has another comic that will go up shortly.

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