Saturday, December 31, 2005


MUNICH Review:

As I was just saying ...

Now THIS is a movie that is going to make an ideological impact. But more importantly, as a movie, all I can say about Munich is ...


This movie was quite simply a tour de force. From beginning to end, it had me captivated. LEt's get the basics out of the way first. In terms of direction - this is Spielberg at his best. Scratch that, because I don't think we've ever seen a Spielberg quite like this before. Sure, this LOOKS like a Spielberg movie. But as others have pointed out, it feels more mature, more risky, more raw than other movies that he's made before. There's brutal and shocking violence, mature romance, and dark, morally ambiguous characters. In terms of acting, every single performer knocks it out of the park. Eric Bana is amazing as Avner, the leader of the top secret Mossad squad sent to take out those responsible for the abduction and murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic games. Daniel Craig (cool that the Israelis have The Hulk and James Bond on their side ...) is excellent as the hotshot of the group. And the rest of the cast is superb. Each character feels three dimensional and alive, from the self-doubting senior member of Avner's group to the mysterious Frenchmen who Avner uses as his soure for intel. Finally, this is a movie where you really notice the excellence of the script. Tony Kushner's dialogue is sharp and intelligent. Each word counts for something , and this is a script that is so good, so emotionally and intellectually sopishisticated that it's almost enough to turn one off from typical Hollywood action blockbusters for awhile. Because despite all the moral, political, and emotional issues that this movie gets into (and handles exceptionally well), it is above all a classic caper movie. It takes us to numerous exotic locations - spanning the globe from Israel to New York to Lebanon - from Paris to London and of course to Munich. And each new locale is expertly filmed by Spielberg, coming alive and making you feel like you're on the same world-spanning misison as the protagonists. There's tons of action - hard-hitting action, life-or-death struggles, bomb-planting schemes, stealth missions - it's all here. But its based on true events and done under the umbrella of a story that carries with it great emotional and ideological weight.

Because these men aren't action heroes. Sure, they're a colorful cast of characters. But they must actually DEAL WITH the moral reprecussions of everything that they do. Are they accomplishing something, or just helping to perpetuate a neverending cycle of violence? Is it worth the cost of alienating family and friends and even sanity to serve one's country? And on a political scale - what does it even mean to serve one's country in a world where politics is so malleable that the line between friends and enemies can change on a dime. That is kind of what this movie is about - people. That in the end we're all just people trying to live our lives, yet we get caught up in these ideological wars that soon lose their meaning except for "they got us, now we get them back."

And of course, that's why this movie might be offensive to some. They say it's not pro-Israel enough or too sympathetic to characters who are terrorists, criminals, and murderers. And yet, I can't see many people actually SEEING this movie and then, still, thinking of it as being anything but a stunning statement on just what makes Israel great and worth fighting for. I mean, just look at the fact that this movie was even MADE. Could a movie like this come from somewhere where freedom of expression, where moral doubts and questioning of one's own history - is forbidden? No, this movie is a complete and utter testament to the fact that Judaism is a religion that has always CELEBRATED DEBATE. Kushner and Spielberg do a masterful job of porraying the main characters as people who come from this tradition - people with strong, unflinching Jewish identities but who can't help but agonize over how killing people in the name of one's country fits into the equation. As it should. There's a great scene in the movie where the characters allude to the Passover tradition of taking a monet to mourn for the Egyptians killed in the Hebrews' crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus from Egypt. Even though we rejoice at our moment of freedom, we are sad at the price it came at. And that is a profound thing - what separates us from people who have no such moral qualms about killing in the name of religion. Even Golda Meir herself (excellently portrayed in this movie, by the way) said - to paraphrase - I can forgive them for what they did to my children, but I cannot forgive them for what they made us do to theirs. And this is the basic premise of this movie -- the cost of fighting for one's people. And not just the cost for anyone, but for a people who have always taken the utmost care to attempt to do EVERTHING, even fighting and warring and killing when it's necessary - in the most humane, civil, and moral way possible. Of course, morally acceptable killing, even in desperate times, is a bit of an oxymoron for someone with a concious - and that's exactly this movie's point.

From the opening montage of actual news coverage from the Munich incident to the absolutely haunting and profound closing shot, MUNICH does something that other movies this year have tried but failed to do - it makes an undeniable statement on the world we live in today. This isn't a movie that goes out and sets to make us feel sorry for the terrorists. On the contrary it makes us angry at them for the futitily of their goals and the violence that they cling to as a way of life. And it never, ever questions the dream of a Jewish state or the validity or sheer miracle of Israel's existence. What it does though is offer a sobering reality check on the cost of violence - even when one's cause is just, there is a price to pay. And it shows the strong and undeniable bonds between Israel, America, and all free people's who must fight for that freedom. Munich is a must-see. It will affect you, it will move you, it will entertain you, and it will likely make an impact that's hard to shake.

My grade: A



I just don't understand the people who say this was an off year for movies. Sure, the box office was down, but in terms of quality, this was a year to remember. We had serious dramas that pushed the envelope and dared to make relevent political statements. We had blockbusters that rose above past attempts in the genre and could be considered nothing less than serious movies even while being seriously kickass. Comedy was the one genre that was lacking this year, but I guess you can't have everything, right? On the other hand, there were some good ones, and overall, there were a TON of GREAT movies this year - some underrated. We had two great movies from Steven Spielberg, one from his heir apparent Peter Jackson. We had the best Batman movie ever, new films from greats like Sam Mendes and David Cronenberg ... yeah, it was a pretty good year at the movies.

One preface - still haven't seen a couple of possible contenders, including Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Good Night and Good Luck, Capote, Brokeback Mountain, Match Point, and The Squid and the Whale.

So without further ado ...


1.) A History of Violence - I was beginning to doubt my love of this movie, as I've met few others who thought as much of it as I did. But then in the last few weeks I saw it listed in a number of Best Of lists, in publications from Rolling Stone to Entertainment Weekly, and my appreciation for David Cronenberg's masterpiece was reaffirmed. Why is this the best movie of the year? One word: simplicity. This movie tells a perfectly shaped story that trims away all the fat and does its job. But wait, the deceptively simple plot works on about 5 different levels, and what at first appears to be just a story of an ordinary man mistaken for a killer becomes a story about human nature, about modern man, about America. This is a classic, iconic, profound movie.

2.) Munich - Like I said in the review above, this movie was, firstly, a character based thriller - as intense of a globe-spanning action suspense movie as you'll find this side of James Bond. But it
still made the most profound, shocking, and heartfelt political and ideological statement of any movie this year, becoming Spielberg's overall best movie in years. Along with A History of Violence, this year saw a double-dose of powerful, intense, and relevent movies that stand as more than the sum of their parts - on one hand as character pieces, on the other as important commentaries on the times in which we live.

3.) Batman Begins - On the other hand, the story of Batman has been a classic for the better part of the last century. Problem is, past adaptations to film and TV have treated Batman like a clown, a farce, a joke - everything but the dark, grim, and deadly serious avenger that Bob Kane and Bill Finger intended, that Denny O'Neal and Neal Adams brought to life, that Frank Miller and Jim Lee made the coolest comic book icon of all time. Finally, someone GOT IT. Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, and an amazing all star cast got it right and did the Dark Knight proud, and aside from al lthat made one of the best damn movies of the year, not to mention potentially the best superhero movie of all time.

4.) King Kong - Another blockbuster done right, Peter Jackson continued with his golden touch. Some of the best action scenes ever, great characters, stunning visual f/x, and tons of imagination. This was pure entertainment for three straight hours.

5.) Walk The Line - My appreciation for this movie has grown since I saw it, as the story of The Man in Black continues to resonate in my mind. Revelatory performances by the two leads, great music, and an emotioanlly charged story make for a memorable movie.

6.) Sin City - No movie has ever brought a comic book to life like this one. Not only does Sin City capture the style, the characters, the mood of Frank Miller's dark comic book crime fiction - it IS Frank Miller's vision, fully realized. This film hits hard and takes names, and is completely uncompromising in its artistic sylization. Awesome.

7.) Jarhead - This movie transported you to the deserts of Iraq, put you in the shoes of the soldiers, and made you feel like you were stationed in The Suck. Only that's a good thing, because this was a powerful, amazingly-shot, and skillfully acted movie with a number of great scenes. Finally, a modern movie that spoke to the masses about what our soldiers go through on the other side of the world.

8.) Hustle and Flow - This movie took me by surprise. It dared to take unconventional twists and turns - never really glorifying the too often glorified life of a pimp - instead showing it for the futile and dangerous road that it is. Breakthrough performances by Terrance Howard and Anthony Anderson, great writing, and a powerful ending made this movie great, plus totally infectious rap songs thoughout.

9.) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - Yeah, yeah, I know. To the disciplined movie fan, this is by no means a "great" movie. It has obvious, glaring flaws of dialogue, pacing, continuity. But on the other hand, no movie left me as buzzed leaving the theater this year. No movie made me smile from ear to ear like this one did as Yoda fought the Emperor or John Williams' epic score kicked into high gear as Anakin and Obi Wan fought to the death amidst a fiery backdrop. Visually, this movie was amazing, groundbreaking. It put the first two prequels to shame. And it kicked its fair share of ass, haters be damned.

10.) War of the Worlds - Another one that got a lot of backlash, but I contend that this is yet another blockbuster done right. Best set piece action scenes of any movie this year, great acting (yes, even from the much maligned Tom Cruise), and just a completely involving, edge of your seat thrillride from start to finish. Well, almost to finish. The overly sappy ending kept this from being a classic, but forgetting that last scene, this was a pure adrenaline rush from start to finish.


11.) Cinderella Man - Sure, it's been done, but not with this much impact and a great cast - Russell Crowe completes his badass trilogy that started with Gladiator and then Master and Commander, and does so with a bang.
12.) Broken Flowers - Bill Murray does it again in this thought-provoking comedy that sucks you in with its deliberate pacing and careful character examination.
13.) Sky High - Yes, you heard me. I swear to God, this movie was one of my absolute favorite movie-going experiences of the year. It featured comedy and action legends doing what they do best - Kurt Russell, Bruce Campell, the Kids in the Hall. This will be a cult classic.
14.) The Chronicles of Narnia - Classic, straight-up fantasy from start to finish, Narnia does the source material justice and is a lot of fun.
15.) March of the Penguins - I was totally swept away into the arctic by this nature doc, which made me really glad I wasn't a penguin.
16.) The 40-Year Old Virgin - Best comedy of the year. Judd Apatow does it again, bringing his Freaks and Geeks sensibilities to the big screen with a great cast and lots of laughs.
17.) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Another one where I don't quite get the critics at all. I loved this movie from start to finish - as a movie, it beats out the original, and joins the ranks of Tim Burton's best films.

OVERRATED: Syriana, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Wedding Crashers
UNDERRATED: Sky High, A History of Violence, Domino, Cinderella Man
OK BUT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER: Corpse Bride, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Bad News Bears, Doom
SUCKED: Fantastic Four, Aeon Flux



- I really don't think that as a whole, TV has ever been better than it is now. Sure, it takes a little bit of effort to find the good stuff ,what with so many channels and so many good shows buried amongst stiff competition from all the networks, the primetime landscape is impossible to navigate without a TIVO or an old fashioned VCR set to record. Of course, with so much content on TV these days, a lot of what you watch just comes down to personal preference ... and lord knows that a lot of people have terrible taste, to be honest. I mean how else to explain lack of ratings for Arrested Development? Why isn't Veronica Mars in the top 5 shows on TV? Sure sure, network execs will blame it on a variety of reasons - too hard to follow, not enough heart, too dark, etc. But when a show like Arrested Development is making me laugh as much as it is, what the hell do I care about any of those things? Funny is funny. Okay, so most people may not know funny if it smacked them upside the head. So maybe my hope for 2006 isn't that TV gets better (I have enough shows to watch as it is) but just that America gets better taste, dammit all. Then again, this is the same populace that elected George W to a second term, so ... brace yourselves for even more lame sitcoms, depraved reality shows, and more assorted crap. But now is not the time to focus on the bad, let's instead celebrate what was GOOD, nay, GREAT, in 2005. Anyways ...

The Top 10 TV Shows of 2005:

1.) 24 - With Season 5 about to start, it's clear that 24 is on a roll. Season 4 was the most consistently good season since 1, and every week was a nonstop roller coaster ride with cliffhangers that killed, characters that kicked ass, and a counter-terrorism plotline that looked at the current national security situation in a no-holds barrred, uncompromising way. Every week it was on this year, there was no TV more must-see, no hour more exciting, than 24.

2.) Veronica Mars - This show went out with a bang last season, producing a final run of episodes to cap off it's first year that were just incredible to watch. VM proved that it ain't no OC - this is dark noir detective fiction, with a high school as a metaphor for all that is cruel about humanity. The cast is excellent, and the show's momentum has continued into S2, where a new mystery is building that peomises to be as filled with twists and turns as S1. If you aren't watching ,you're missing out.

3.) Arrested Development - The best comedy on TV has been much talked about here, but really, the reason why it's good is easy to pinpoint - IT'S HILARIOUS. Look at crap like The War at Home, Freddie, etc. - these shows suck because the situations are contrived and the jokes are the type that practically beg for laughs despite being old retreads of used-up themes. On Arrested, the humor comes from great charaters and smart writing that weaves funny situation into funny situation and doesn't let up for a minute. Season 3 of Arrested has been comedic gold, and it's just ridiculous that more people aren't watching.

4.) Gilmore Girls - Look, I normally hate sappy stuff. I hate the contived "aww shucks" moments and the eye-rolling melodrama. But Gilmore Girls does drama in such a sincere, funny, and witty way that you can't help but love it. And when the big dramatic moments do come, they mean a lot because the characters have come alive, in a way. This show will make even the most hardened soul smile, laugh, and run through the whole gamut of emotions just because it is so brilliantly written and acted.

5.) Prisonbreak - Following in the footsteps of 24, Prisonbreak mixed over the top comic book sensibilities with sheer dramatic intensity to stand out as the best new show of 2005's fall season. An ensemble of great character actors produced TV's best villainous personalities, like the unforgettable T-Bag, and the charisma of the show's stats carried the show. This was the must-see show of the fall.

6.) Stella - God bless the members of Stella - Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain for continuing to bring their absurdist, surreal, and totally irreverent comic sensibilities to TV. I loved The State, I loved Wet Hot American Summer, and although it only enjoyed a short run on Comedy Central this year, I soon began to love Stella as well. Nobody else is doing crazy comedy like this at the moment, and likely nobody else can do it as well as these guys. Here's hoping Stella returns in 2006, since these guys are just about the funniest thing this side of Ali G.

7.) King of the Hill - The show keeps on ticking, and unlike some of its animated competition, it shows no signs of its age. King of the Hill is, for me, the ultimate comfort show. I watch it, I laugh, I see my favorite characters again, and the episode usually ends with something that just makes you feel good - a lesson learned or a moral taught. But it's never too cheesy, never too contrived - it always comes from the characters first. I love King of the Hill, and wish that this was not it's last season. But man, it's been a good run.

8.) Justice League Unlimited - Man, if you like action-packed, mature animation, then you could not go wrong with Cartoon Network's JLU this year, which absolutely hit its stride in 2005, with a series of ultra-intense, sweeping epics that formed a season-long mini-movie pitting the heroes of DC Comics against the U.S. government! This sure as hell ain't the Superfriends. This was adult, sophisticated, animation jam-packed with action and adventure. Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor - this was a fanboy's dream realized in glorious technicolor.

9.) The Office - The Office got off to a shaky start. It was trying to be the British version but failing, and the humor was just falling flat despite the presence of obviously talented actors. Then, this season, something changed - the writing improved by leaps and bounds, the characters (esp. Dwight), began to really come into their own, and suddenly, The Office was among the best comedies on TV, and was THE watercooler comedy, with every episode producing several memorable quotes and lines of dialogue. I give props to NBC for sticking with it - and it's a good thing, 'cause The Office is your future, Peacock Network. Recognize.

10.) Smallville - Smallville ended Season 4 last summer a complete mess. S4 had been a monumental trainwreck as far as I was concerned, an embarrasment to the franchise. But te producers were smart - very smart - and wiped the salte clean for a fresh start in Season 5. And man, did it work. S5 kicked off with an amazing season premiere, and it's been nonstop coolness from there, with this once-great show doing the impossible and RETURNING to greatness - actually, it's probably better now than EVER, and the sky-high ratings reflect that. Superman Returns indeed, and speaking of which, Bryan Singer and co. are gonna have to pull out all the stops to eclipse Tom Welling and the world of Smallville as the definitive version of Superman in 2006.


BEST OBSCURE SHOW: G4 TV's Attack of the Show
BALLSIEST SHOW ON TV: Family Guy's anti-FCC episode
WORST MARKETING DEPT: FOX (See: Arrested Development)
BEST MARKETING DEPT: NBC (see: My Name is Earl)
WORST NEW TREND: a tidal wave of crappy Lost-esque sci-fi shows
BEST NEW TREND: high concept, quality dramas
BEST RAY OF HOPE FOR 2006: Could SNL's "Lazy Sunday" sketch be a sign that the once-great comedy showcase is making a comeback, or was it just an isolated flash of brilliance?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Year End Wrap Up Begins: Best in Music, and the Syriana Review!


Well 2005 is almost over, and so the list-making begins. And since list-making is so fun, I can't help but partake in my SECOND ANNUAL (!) BEST OF list, counting down the best the year had to offer.

First things first though:

@ Work:

Today business picked up. A far cry from the slowness of yesterday, today much of my day was spent Fedexing stuff to various execs across the country. Still had that surreal quality today though, as me and fellow pages Sean and Abby were literally running NBC, from our solitary perches in our respective offices. See, it is the not-so-lowly pages who wield the true power! Next week things get really crazy, as everyone is back in the office and I get pulled to work Ellen, Leno, and even give a tour ... putting on the polyesta' one mo' time, if you weeeel.

SYRIANA REVIEW (yes, finally!):

Okay, so I really wanted this movie to be good, as its subject matter is something I have a great interest in, and is one of my top political issues that troubles me - our dependence as a country on foreign (particularly middle eastern) oil. Like the producers of Syriana, I see a readily apparent connection between the oil business, terrorism, and the plight of the Arab people. And I think that this is an issue that NEEDS to be brought to the limelight, and in a way that really hammers home the ridiculousness of risking national security, going to war, and compromising our national values just because of our refusal to stand up to Big Oil companies and move forward with new and better fuel technologies.

That being said, Syriana tries very hard to draw the lines from pint A to B to C, much like its predecessor, the excellent movie Traffic. But Syriana doesn't quite succeed. The thing is - is that a movie must succeed, first and foremost, AS A MOVIE, if it wants to effectively make a point. Bad movies can't really make good points, ya know? And Syriana never really picks up steam as a movie. As a lecture, sure, it does its job. But as a movie ... well, it's disjointed, overly long, and SLOOOOW. And by focusing so much on INDIVIDUALS and their respective stories, the movie kind of loses sight of the big picture, never really pulling back to allow one to say "ah, I see, it all makes sense now, this is how it's all connected." Instead, the various interwoven plots - the stories of a CIA agent, an Arab family, an entrepeneur, an oil tycoon, and a corporate attorney - they never really come together, and the connections between the characters all feel tangential and artificial and forced.

Still, the movie has many of the qualities of a top tier motion picture. The acting is superb across the board, for one thing. George Clooney is at his best here. Matt Damon is excellent. Chris Cooper is superb. And the lesser known actors are all uniformly great. But while there are scattered scenes that are excellent, scattered dialogue exchanges that are sharp and memorable ... as a whole this is an excercise in unevenness. And that scattered quality means we never REALLY care about any of the characters. In fact we never even know much about any of them - they are all restricted by being in a cinematic version of a short story, with no room for growth or change, no chance for us to really get attached. No, this movie is almost clinical in how it gets from Point A to Point B, and it makes for a pseudo-intellectual but mostly uninvolving experience.

All this, and, it never really seems to get to the real, underlying politics behind the whole oil crisis. Sure, we see flashes of terrorism, flashes of greedy oil companies. But where is the big political picture? Where is the political relevence? I just never felt like this movie made that profound of a statement. I mean, love him or hate him, after seeing a movie like Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11, you come away buzzed with political thoughts and provocative ideas. In the case of Syriana however, you'd almost be better served just skipping the movie and going straight to the latest issue of Newsweek. More informative, less confusing, and it won't take over 2 hours just to get to the point. My grade: C+


Man, I don't know what it says about me, but I just feel like I don't have much to say about music this year. Sure, there was a lot of new stuff that I enjoyed in small doses, but no one rock group that just lept out and hit me this year, unlike last year where Green Day's American Idiot album felt like such a revelation and proved to be an instant classic in its own time.

Still, some interesting things going on in the world of pop-rock. I have to say that probably my favorite new band of the year is none other than THE KAISER CHIEFS. It all started when I saw them play on The Tonight Show, and I had their catchy rock song "Oh My God" stuck in my head for weeks. That song, along with "I Predict a Riot" are definitely two of my favorite new rock songs of the year. They sound like they come straight from the 70's punk-rock heydey of the Sex Pistols, and are just simple, classic, fun tunes. Definitely a band to watch.

And then there was MATISYAHU, who I guess has actually been around for a bit but really made an impact this year, so much so that he became one of the most played artists on KROQ here in LA! This guy is throwing down reggae beats like he's a Chasidic Bob Marley meets 311, but he's singing about wanting Mashiach Now!, praising God in Hebrew like nobody's business, and kicking some ass while doing it. Who would have ever thought this guy would become such a mainstream phenomena? Whatever the case, "King Without A Crown "has gotta be one of the year's best breakout singles.

What else highlighted (and lowlighted) the year in music? Here's some quick shoutouts:
- Foo Fighters once again delivered with their latest musical output, easily one of rock's most consistently rocking bands.
- The Gorillaz had a great followup to their devut album, and continue to be one of music's most unique, and animated, acts.
- The Darkness' second album, on the other hand, had a few cool songs but overall is a pretty disappointing follow up to their awesome first record.
- With all the Walk The Line hype and promotion, what was old is new again and Johnny Cash reclaimed his place as a bonafide legend and icon. Best musical movie? Definitely Walk The Line. Watching that and then the video to Hurt was this year's must-see musical experience.
- It was sad to see punk-rock princess Gwen Stefani degenerate into a generic pop / hip hop act. Sure, her stuff still rises above most overplayed pop mediocrity, but solo Stefanie, now preoccupied with dance music and all things Harajuku, is no No Doubt, in my humble opinion.
- Pink Floyd came back! So it was for one night only at Live 8, but what an amazing performance. Best musical moment on TV of the year? EASILY, the AMAZING set played by Floyd at Live 8, which by the way was a pretty cool event as a whole.
- Still no sign of the fabled Chinese Democracy.
- Though Velvet Revolver did establish themselves as a solid supergroup, as did Audioslave, whose new album was not too bad.
- Weezer had a pretty darn good new album, and Beverly Hills, thoug annoying after a while, is a pretty fun rock song, as is Perfect Situation.
- And hey, I'll give credit where it's due. In pop, this was the year of Kelly Clarkson. Since You Been Gone is definitely one of the catchiest pop songs to come along in years ... I'll admit it.
- Yep, MTV still sucks.
- Best parody music video: sorry, Weird Al, the winner is SNL's Lazy Sunday, a HILARIOUS rap parody. Surely you've seen it by now.
- Other artist whose new stuff I enjoyed: System of a Down, AFI, The White Stripes (who actually had a damn good year of new music, come to think of it), My Chemical Romance, Queens of the Stoneage, Beck, and oh yeah, can't forget - DEPECHE MODE, whose song "Precious" is maybe their best song ever, and one of the best of the year.

- Some of my musical highlights from working at LENO and ELLEN over the past year, where I was lucky to see a ton of great music live and up close:
BILLY IDOL rocking like it was 1987 - leather jacket and all, AVRIL LAVIGNE belting out "He Wasn't" at an outdoor concert, GWEN STEFANI AND EVE performing "Hollaback Girl" in front of thousands at Ellen's outdoor concert show, meeting GENE SIMMONS and KISS while working CB on Ellen, seeing a legend in action - specifically, LED ZEPELLIN'S ROBERT PLANT outdoors at Leno and actually meeting him, THE FOO FIGHTERS with an awesome Leno performance, THE KILLERS kicking ass at Leno, Americon Idol's CONSTANTINE and the cast of WE WILL ROCK YOU with an amzing rendition of Queen's BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, HILLARY DUFF getting booed at Leno and starting to cry, rounding up screaming teenage girls who came out to see the reuinted BACKSTREET BOYS, seeing one of my middle school idols, ALANIS MORISETTE sing "One Hand In My Pocket" at Ellen, PATTI LABELLE getting a standing ovation after a gut-wrenching, soulful song, MELISSA ETHERIDGE getting one as well for her cancer-beating rock anthem on Leno, being forced to be security for G-Unit's TONY YAYO on Carson Daly, seeing the possibly-evil KENNY G at one of my first days at Leno, AVRIL's double performance on Leno and my earlier backstage encounter with her where she actually SAID HI TO ME, JESSICA SIMPSON WITH WILLIE NELSON and his crazy-ass tour bus!, BIG AND RICH WITH COWBOY TROY, where we were first introduced to the wonders of Tai-Kwan-Flo, VELVET REVOLVER's two performances and my run-in with SCOTT WYLAN, talking with the mom of the lead singer of UNWRITTEN LAW, seeing the KAISER CHIEFS and getting their song stuck in my head forever, as also happened with THE BRAVERY, TOMMY LEE performing the theme from his reality show, CHRISTINA AGUILERA getting soulful on Ellen, as did LISA MARIE PRESLEY and HOPE PARTLOW, though not so much the PUSSYCAT DOLLS, BECK rocked out to E-Pro, and hey, I even endured hordes of crazed country music fans for the now infamous day that KENNY CHESNEY showed me why I should possibly never visit the South - but it all comes back to BILLY IDOL, who showed me what it means to rock the cradle of love

- And of course, aside from what I saw at Leno and Ellen, there was TOM PETTY, who I saw in concert along with the Black Crowes, and who kicked ass classic rock style. He played the hits, and played 'em good. Great concert.

Alright, back later with the best in MOVIE and TV.

Until then ...