The greatest trick the devil ever played was pitting women against one another to benefit men. The second greatest trick the devil ever played is demanding women unite to go against men, and punishing them when they don’t. When Julianne Hough was asked about Gabrielle Union’s controversial firing from America’s Got Talent, she said a whole lot of NOTHING, and even threw in the laughable non-word “integrily.”
It’s not surprising that Howard Stern took aim at Simon Cowell — the man did come for his AGT job after all. And nothing provides greater entertainment than Stern on a tear. In response to Gabrielle Union and Julianne Hough’s firing from America’s Got Talent, Stern rightfully proclaimed:
“He sets it up that the men stay. No matter how ugly they are, no matter how old they are, no matter how fat they are, no matter how talentless they are. What he manages to do on all his shows is he constantly replaces the hot chicks with hotter chicks and younger chicks. Howie’s [Mandel] doing a fine, serviceable job — why don’t they change him? And why don’t they change Simon? … This is the ultimate example of a boys’ club.”
I’ve certainly noticed the revolving door of hot chicks on all the Simon Cowell-produced shows, especially when it’s set up against the long-term reign of his male judges. In short, it’s a gross double standard. Furthermore, if there was any level of diversity in upper management at all, the tone-deaf comments Union alleges were made about her appearance likely would not happen (and let’s not forget what happened to Nick Cannon). Louis Walsh stayed on his X Factor panel long after he groped Mel B. and according to Stern — Mel B. was later fired from AGT while Walsh kept his job.
It is also of note that Stern defended his longtime nemesis Jay Leno over a joke Leno made, which is also the subject of a bitter brawl between NBC and Gabrielle Union. Union allegedly complained to the higher-ups about Leno joking that a painting of Simon Cowell with his dogs looked like it belonged “on the menu at a Korean restaurant.” As Stern rightfully points out, “one million dogs are still eaten annually in South Korea, and if Gabrielle Union wants to effect positive change, maybe focus on the horrors of Korean dog farms and let the old irrelevant comic live in peace.”
Stern fans know that the Leno/Stern beef dates back to Leno “stealing” Stuttering John out from under Stern, in addition to some accusations of joke thievery, including a chicken. Stern recently proclaimed that one particular comedian would not accept his personal apology for his savage attacks, and I’m guessing the comedian in question is Leno.
In response to the allegations that Gabrielle Union’s firing from America’s Got Talent was a retaliatory strike following her complaints about inappropriate, racist jokes, ill-directed critiques about her hair, and general, behind-the-scenes culture issues, Simon Cowell’s company, Syco Entertainment said, “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful workplace for all employees and take very seriously any questions about workplace culture.” They furthered that they “are working with Ms. Union through her representatives to hear more about her concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps may be appropriate.”
I appreciate Jada Pinkett Smith’s efforts to turn T.I.’s horrific “protection” of his daughter’s hymen into a “teachable moment,” but not even Jada can jam sense into T.I’s tiny brain. While visiting Red Table Talk to clear up his controversial comments about accompanying his daughter to the gynecologist to ensure her virginity is intact, he instead doubled down. The most shocking revelation is his insistence that when a woman loses her virginity, she immediately becomes and adult, and with that, comes adult responsibilities. This sounded more like a threat than an education, as if living in T.I.’s house as a non-virgin means more chores, and demanding job, and a clearly defined life plan. When T.I. asked the “purpose of a father,” it was more of a statement than a question, insisting his desire to be “involved” is cloaked with love, and if he doesn’t have a say in his daughter’s choices, he’s then just a man who “donates sperm and pays for things.”
The American Music Awards aired last night, and with the exception of some standout performances, not everyone was at their best. Below is a recap for your reviewing enjoyment.
Halsey first grabbed my attention during her performance at Rihanna’s Fenty fashion show (yes, I’m late to the Halsey party). She’s hypnotic, and her AMA performance is no exception.
Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes
I’m over these two. Sure they have chemistry, but it’s so played up it’s now played out. Also, their chemistry is literally the only element of the performance. The non-kiss tension worked for me at the VMAs, but now it’s just unoriginal.
Shania Twain’s over-the-top fashion choices are almost as iconic as her greatest hits, and it was nice to see her return to form in this crazy pink ensemble. The entire performance felt like a concert-worthy moment rather than a pocket of a larger show. Does anything make you “feel like a woman” more than neon pink? Twain has been honest about her Lyme Disease has impacted her vocals, and she took a layover from the limelight as a result. It’s nice to see her return to the stage.
Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes. I like her music, I like the presentation, and I love that she refused to go the standard sexy route. Weird is always welcome in my world. Plus, this power duo pens their own tunes, and that goes a long way in my book.
Green Day makes the list of bands I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never seen live. I’m most embarrassed because by all accounts their performances are unprecedented. I’m told Billy Joe’s appreciation for his audience shows through from start to finish, which means it always surprises me when they take the stage at an awards show rife with some of a more apathetic crowd. One of the most legendary bands in history is on the stage in front of you, and you’re on your iPhone scrolling (see video below). If only he smashed his guitar and complained about the same way he did on that infamous Bieber moment.
Yes, I love Lizzo, but I almost fell asleep during her performance. She’s not a ballad singer, and this felt like something Adele would do (minus the “passionate” kneeling). The dress is also way off-brand.
Dua Lipa transported me to the 80s with a leotard-driven version of musical chairs amid balloons (white-girl shimmy included). After her fresh, intoxicating performance at the Grammys, this was hugely disappointing. Whose the stylist that got in her ear, told her to dye her hair blond and add extensions? This felt incredibly dated.
I don’t want to kick Selena while she’s down, especially since she had a panic attack immediately prior to her performance. That being said, her range is limited, and it shows. The original video for “Lose You to Love Me” is heavily auto-tuned, and the issue with that is — when you actually sing live — you’re exposed. The second song is better (it’s presumably lip-synced), but she looks so uncomfortable in her risque outfit, it’s hard to watch. She should take a page out of Billie Eilish’s handbook and start dressing in a way that brings out her best self.
As someone who used to cover multiple concerts a week (on school nights), I’m in a unique position to articulate the rage associated with a late start time. At the end of the day, I’m a paying consumer, and that comes with the expectation that I’m getting what I’ve paid for. Apparently, Madonna does not agree. When addressing her notorious late arrivals, she told her audience, “Here’s something you all need to understand. And that is, that the queen is never late.”
While Madonna is indeed a queen, I find her attitude to be especially ironic given her infamous quest for excellence when working with other artists. She demands exhaustive rehearsals, and she won’t take no for an answer. If you’re going to demand that level of professionalism, then practice what you preach. I don’t care how good your show is, if I’m paying for it to start at a certain time, then I expect you to be there at that time.
Madonna is currently being sued by Florida-resident Nate Hollander, who claims to have lost the $1,024.95 on three tickets for Madonna’s Miami Beach show because the start time was changed from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m in an effort to manage her late arrival and inform attendees. That’s too late for Mr. Hollander, and he was unable to re-sell the tickets at its new time. Though his lawsuit is likely going to get thrown out, it certainly has generated press enough press to prove the worth of its filing.
I onced joked to Mark Cuban that the chairs on Shark Tank should be rearranged according to the most successful investors/sharks, and he replied, “Then the women would be sitting dead center.” The clip below brought me back to that moment, as Lori Grenier suggested (in one of the first moments in the history of the show) that the contestant was a “chauvanist.” Though the men didn’t seem to bite on her observation, I think she’s onto something. Furthermore, the contestant’s reaction is telling, as it’s more condescending than contrite.
It’s not easy to be the lone female on a panel of dudes, especially when making an assertion based on nuance only another woman might understand. In fact, any woman whose been to a car dealership (let alone a board meeting) beside a man would know what she’s saying 3.5 seconds into the clip below. Watch and judge for yourself.
Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez are poster children for toxic relationships, but like most of America, I always rooted for their reconciliation and was baffled by his quick rebound with Hailey Baldwin. As for Gomez herself, she was equally baffled, especially given her new song, “Lose You to Love Me,” which will no doubt generate some confusion and cantankerous conversation in Casa Bieber. Gomez’s tune is equal parts prosaic and beautiful. She somehow seemlessly ebbs in and out of the public eye with grace. Listen below.
When Ruth Wilson abruptly exited Showtime’s The Affair, I knew there was trouble. Joshua Jackson followed quickly behind, sending the show into an almost certain death. But since most shows need five seasons to be profitable, the powers that be decided to keep it moving, and they did their very best to make it appear as if the departures were more about the characters running their course and less about the alleged on-set sexual harassment. I don’t know the truth, but I do how television works, and Joshua Jackson and Ruth Wilson were both under contract. They had to be let out of that contract, and since they were so creatively essential to the series, I can only imagine something serious happened.
Now for season five. In short, it’s terrible. To quote one Twitter user, “it feels more like a spin off and not a very good one.” In place of Alison and Cole is the adult Joanie, played by Anna Paquin, who is doing the best she can with a bad role. Because she’s set in the future, what we get is some silly technological advances (including what your toilet might look like in 2020), and a preachy portrayal of an earth that has been ruined by humans. While I agree humans are ruining the planet, this is so far removed from the original tone of the show it feels cartoonish. Her scene partners also don’t help. Her on-screen husband has no depth, and when she’s met with a overly-chatty journalist (EJ) who has an unexplainable interest in her family, it feels more like a cheap excuse for plot explanation than an actual conversation. I’d have loved a far less on-the-nose Joanie. A sweet, loving Joanie who has empathy for her mother’s suicide and doesn’t want to confront the idea that she was murdered because she lives in a utopian bubble about humanity being decent. Instead, I get Alison x 50 minus all the nuance of Ruth Wilson’s acting chops. In defense of Anna Paquin, you can’t polish a turd.
As for Maura Tierney and Dominic West, they are laying brick. They are phenomonel actors who deserve credit for doing their best with a bad situation. Maura might have the only compelling storyline on season five, and she’s carrying the show. Dominic West is still great as Noah, but I simply don’t buy the realization that he wants his family back. While it can be done, the writing is far too one-dimensional and his character has always been extremely complex. Placing sex toys in Helen’s bedroom is so basic I wanted to throw something at the screen.
I realize this review sounds angry, and that’s because it is. I found it appalling when the show’s creator said that Ruth Wilson’s character had run its coarse, instead of praising what she had done with it thus far. She’s one of the best actresses I’ve seen in decades and without her, the show would not have succeeded. Show some respect. Furthermore, the idea that the series could have been ressurrected without its two leads reeks of arrogance. I know people have jobs to keep, but sometimes it’s time to close up shop.