OWN Takes A Major Gamble On LiLo Series

14 03 2014

Legendary talk show host, entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey shocked audiences across America when she retired from her beloved afternoon syndicate, “The Oprah Winfrey Show” in favor of heading her own network. Harpo Productions teamed with Discovery Communications to present “a mix of original programs, strips, specials, documentaries and acquired movies,” to replace the fledgling Discovery Health Channel.

OWN-OprahWinfreyNetworkOWN has established itself as a network with the sort of dynamic and dramatic content viewers ate up on Oprah’s original show; offering in-depth conversations on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” (now “Oprah Prime”), investigative documentaries on “Our America with Lisa Ling,” and scripted drama on “Tyler Perry’s ‘The Haves and the Have Nots.’
As of Sunday night, the reality program “Lindsay” joined the 2014 line-up, with a production order of eight episodes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade, you know who the titular Lindsay refers to. The circus that is Lindsay Lohan’s personal life raised its tents over Los Angeles over two years, notably between when she was filming Herbie: Fully Loaded (erratic behavior and vague hospital stays for a “kidney infection” held up production) and Georgia Rule (unpredictable attendance and attitude, along with a myriad of doctor’s visits for “dehydration and exhaustion” left co-stars and crew in the lurch).
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A once-promising young star, Lohan has been sidelined from big-name and big-budget projects of late for being an ‘insurance risk—’ the industry’s way of highlighting that the actor/actress lacks credibility and poses a threat to the budget and schedule of a project (Film Insurance covers any unforeseen cost overruns related to the legal hiccups (like an arrest or lawsuit), illness, injury or death of cast and crew members of a given production.) Additionally, a string of poor reviews and financial returns have taken the light out of her star.
In the last decade, Lindsay Lohan has been to rehab six times; been charged with two DUIs, theft, assault, and possession of cocaine; violated her probation twice; and served a combined six weeks in the Century Regional Detention Facility, also known as Lynwood Jail.
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The series began filming in the summer of 2013, during the week after Lohan’s release from her sixth facility, Cliffside Malibu. In an effort to maintain the sobriety that has evaded her in the past, Lohan travels to New York City with a sober companion who is employed by the rehabilitation/counseling center. She states the move is to give her a (deserved?) clean slate, and keep her away from the temptations of L.A. nightlife.

While Lohan says all the right things about her struggles and the uphill battle she continues to face without alcohol or recreational drugs to dull/twist her reality, she continues to lack a certain accountability — despite telling filmmaker Amy Rice, “I know this is my last shot.” There is a fine line between acknowledging and blaming one’s dysfunctional family and upbringing as a source of stress that exacerbated their addictions. Lohan is still full of excuses, at one point foregoing a planned AA meeting because there are paparazzi outside her hotel. Understandably, she didn’t want to bring that sort of prying chaos into the lives of other attendees, but being seen at a meeting could only help her at this point; a fact she remains blind to. Finding a “sanctuary” she can call home is priority number one, when finding a regular therapist in the Big Apple and productive hobbies to fill her time should be.
Regardless of what mantras she spews or plans she alleges, it is difficult to picture Lindsay Lohan riding the subway (like Jay-Z) or walking her kids to school (like SJP). Ever. Jail and rehab have not provided a sufficient bottom, indicated by the “This Season on ‘Lindsay’” clips that followed the show.

Following her stint in rehab, Lohan was given an opportunity to appear on the cult-hit HBO series “Eastbound & Down,” which stars funnyman Danny McBride. Reportedly, the episode filmed without incident, and Lohan was a gracious guest. Recently, dual appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and a cameo scheduled on CBS’ “Two Broke Girls” are about all the work Lohan can hope for. She has a long road back to blockbusters— given that her most recent ‘feature’ The Canyons co-starred an adult figure (James Deen) and grossed a measly fifty grand.

The reality show, or ‘docu-series’ as Oprah is calling it, has elements of established guilty-pleasure programming many of you readers will be familiar with. In the roughly 48 hours since it premiered, I have watched the inaugural episode three times. I can assure bits of murky substance dependence, ála “Intervention;” a kooky cast of oblivious family members, ála “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo;” a misplaced desire for all things luxurious, ála “The Real Housewives of…;” and a borderline delusional self-assurance, ála auditions week of “American Idol.”  It’s damn near riveting, and at times not for great reasons. At one point, Lohan will declare: “Until I fuck up, you can’t assume I am going to.” History repeats itself, particularly in her life, so excuse us while we brace for implosion.

0202123As a former Lindsay (the actress) fan, I will undoubtedly continue to watch the mayhem that is in-store on “Lindsay” (the show).  I admit, I loved Mean Girls and even occasionally rock out to “Rumors” when it comes across shuffle on my iPod.
There’s a fine line between celebrities who genuinely struggle with addiction or mental illness and those who squander their chances and egregiously self-sabotage. Historically, I have given up (interest and/or creative admiration) on people whose personal lives eclipse their professional achievements.
[For example: In my mind, Katherine Heigl is an ungrateful twat who deserves to never work again; LeAnn Rimes is an attention-starved former childstar who knows she peaked at 13; and Justin Bieber is going to end up with a shell of his career and eternally on probation, just like Chris Brown, because nobody tells him ‘no’ or points out that saying ‘Jesus is my homeboy!’ doesn’t negate your moral misdeeds.] I digress.

I want to look at Lindsay in a decade and not even recall the criminal and pharmaceutical issues that plagued her for the last decade. There is no denying her talent, from her mature and intuitive turn as Ali Fowler on “Another World,” to her comic chops in Freaky Friday and emotional range shown in Prairie Home Companion and Chapter 27. Unfortunately, ratings for the series did not start off on a high, with a reported 693,000 viewers tuning in. It would appear that people are so over the hype and the shortcomings of this woman. Even in our 24/7-media cycle, stalkerazzi, fame-obsessed society watching this kind of epic failure loses its salacious glow and becomes just plain sad. 

I hope that LiLo gets herself together, for real, this time and pulls a Drew Barrymore-level or Robert Downey Jr.-level comeback. Those are the ideals for this situation. Seven more episodes to go; we’ll have to wait and see if the woman known for millions of water-cooler moments can work her magic once more, and reform this squandered celebrity into a stable, sober, consistent adult actress.

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Tyler Shields is a raging psychopath

20 06 2012

So I wasn’t really jazzed when E! was promoting the new show Mrs. Eastwood & Company, but I ended up catching bits of the first few episodes… I don’t hate it. I’m not sure who thought up this program (though I suspect Seacrest had a tiny hand in it!), the family seems amusing enough but I doubt anyone in E!’s young demographic was dying to know about Clint Eastwood’s second wife.

Dina Eastwood is a pretty cool lady. 
After growing up in a working-class family in Castro Valley, CA, she received a degree in broadcast journalism from San Francisco State.  She worked at various locally oriented stations through the early 90s, before meeting and marrying Eastwood in 1996. Dina would go on to host an educationally based television program “Quest for Excellence” in 1998.

I find that Dina is full of energy, investing herself fully into whatever task lay at hand. I hesitate to say she comes off as too pleased with her status as A-List spouse, because she imparts very reasonable lessons whilst trying to reign in her privileged daughters.

She seems to have a true journalist spirit, interests across the board and a deep-seeded desire to learn about them all. The project of the moment being manager to South African a cappella boyband ‘Overtone,’ to whom she was introduced while accompanying Clint on location for Invictus (2009).

Also featured on the reality show are Dina’s “company.”
Step-daughter Francesca Fisher-Eastwood (18), daughter Morgan (15), Lisa Thrash (family housekeeper), the 6 guys of ‘Overtone,’ and Francesca’s insane liar of a boyfriend, photographer Tyler Shields (30).

And that brings me to my topic: TYLER SHIELDS.

Within minutes of his first appearance on the screen, I knew he was bad news. And I couldn’t help but wonder why his name was so familiar…  Behold the magic of Google. Shields is a professional photographer/artist, known publicly for his highly controversial pictorials with a gun-toting Lindsay Lohan and battered Heather Morris.

 

The Florida native was previously a ranked vert skater, having participated in the X-Games and tours with the Godfather of Skateboarding, Tony Hawk.
With no formal training to speak of, Shields seems to have fallen into his (current) profession the way so many people caught their breaks in the early 2000s: via Myspace. He has been deemed “young Hollywoods favorite photographer” by several online outlets, including PopEater, Celebuzz and the Daily Mail.

 I am stunned at the number of up-and-comers who pose for/with him. They seek Shields out, perhaps behind the backs of their management, in order to get the thrill of working with the crazy blood guy.

Well this guy is so egomaniacal, on Sundays episode he went so far as to tell Dina Eastwood he was a doctor when one of Morgan’s young friends was injured in the family swimming pool. (Her nose was bloody, though not broken.)  He has Francesca totally under a spell. She stated in an interview for the episode that he is “the one.”
I think he’s “the one” who is going to dump her when he gets where he wants to be. Dating the daughter of one of the most prolific actor/directors alive today, and appearing on the family’s reality show, is a great way to market himself.
And that fact has NOT escaped Shields’ consciousness.  The shock value of his work right now is not going to garner him the staying power of other and historical significance of David LaChappelle or Andres Serrano.

Francesca Eastwood, who has already posed for Shields in two not-so-safe scenarios (hanging precariously off a bridge and mutilating a $100k flaming handbag with a chainsaw), could end up in jail — as the cast of The CW’s Vampire Diaries found themselves in 2009 after a night romp in Georgia with Shields– or worse, as death threats for the pair have flown in since the artistic incident aired on June 10.

The latest episode also revealed that Shields is not “close” with his own family, therefore excited at the prospect of being accepted by the Eastwoods. His own family probably recognized those sociopathic tendencies and flair for the grandiose that Dina picked up on.
Subsequently, Dina declared that she never wanted to be in the same room with him again. Easier said than done when you’re (literally) on an island.





MTV Is Not The Enemy

23 01 2011

Lately it seems that every time there is a spike in this or that small town’s teen pregnancy rate, the finger is pointed at MTV– instead of the poor quality of this nation’s sexual education program’s.

With the Gloucester, MA “Pregnancy Pact” not yet out of memory, CNN covers a story out of Memphis, TN in which 90 students at Frayser High have (or are about to) become parents.

On the heels of the Frayser story came a sparkling gem of insight from Kim Kardashian’s personal blog, “…shows like ‘Teen Mom’ are all of a sudden making teen pregnancy seem cool in the eyes of young girls. The kids from these shows are all over the news, even on the covers of magazines, and have become almost like celebrities, but girls, these are not people you should idolize!”

Amber Portwood, whose story has been featured on both “16 & Pregnant” and [it’s spin-off] “Teen Mom,” beat me to the punch with her response to this glaring hypocrisy.  “She [Kardashian] made a sex tape when she was younger and she wants to bash the girls on ‘Teen Mom’?” Portwood told E! News.



The statistics on teen pregnancy available through the CDC and The Candie’s Foundation websites are startling, and sort of indisputable, but as a viewer of the MTV programming in question- I can attest to the lessons learned from watching harsh realities that all of the girls are living.

Although the evidence suggests the rate of live births to women under 19 are the highest they’ve been in a decade, I have a hard time believing that any teenage girl- regardless of maturity, economical status, and family history- would want to live the lives of the “Teen Mom’s”: Maci, Farrah, Catelynn, and Amber or Leah, Kailyn, Chelsea and Jenelle.
I tune in (guiltily) each week and no matter how it sounds- I am thankful for what I have, and what I don’t. Whatever happened to me that day that may have been stressful or expensive, is not nearly as difficult to face as what these girls have done to themselves. 

Is there entertainment value to the trials and tribulations of teen motherhood as shown by MTV? Of course. They wouldn’t bother filming if there weren’t 2.5million people watching every week!
I totally realize and acknowledge that there are tricks and bending of truths to any reality show, but “Teen Mom” isn’t “The Hills”- you can’t really script a story for these girls to follow. They’re a little busy with their babies to fake custody issues and near poverty!

I commend MTV for opening the eyes of the ever younger sexually active America, and for encouraging them to educate themselves- as it is clear that our schools and (many) parents cannot or will not.
Their decision to pair up with longtime host of “Love Line” and established practicioner Dr. Drew Pinsky was a stroke of genius. He is medically knowledgable, compassionate, and understanding of the contemporary social climate.





Reality TV “Stars” We Could Live Without

14 11 2010

On Friday, People magazine posted a sneak peek at a new rap tune, soon to be available on iTunes, courteousy of the Staten Island Dump.

Picarnick, 22, at an NYC event

Angelina Pivarnick, who got that nickname from her adoring Jersey Shore housemates, is boldly using up what’s left of her achieved fame- we can only hope those 15 minutes will be up as quickly as her two appearances on the popular MTV show, from which she exited the house early in both seasons.

Pivarnick is just the latest example of reality television participants leeching their way in to an extended stay in our public consciousness. 

 
The New York Daily News compiled a list of the most hated reality TV personalities last month, which included Pivarnick, as well as faces from The Apprentice, Survivor, The Hills, and The Real Housewives franchise.

Frequently hated:
– Omarosa Manigault Stallworth, of NBC’s “The Apprentice” (Season 1)
– Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, of MTV’s “The Hills”
– Scott Disick, of E!’s “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and “Kourtney & Khloe take Miami”
– Jon Gosselin, of TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8”
– Lacey Conner, of VH1’s “Rock of Love with Bret Michaels” (Season 1)
– John Devenazio aka Johnny Bananas, of MTV’s “The Real World: Key West” (and subsequent RW/RR Challenges)
– Chef Gordon Ramsay, of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen”
– Johnny Fairplay, CBS’s “Survivor” (Pearl Island season)
– Puck, of MTV’s “The Real World: San Francisco”

Recently hated:
– Kody Brown, of TLC’s “Big Love”
– Danielle Staub & Teresa Guidice, of Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”
– Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, of MTV’s “Jersey Shore”
– Rachel Zoe, of Bravo’s “The Rachel Zoe Project”