How Lo Can You Go? 

For the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about the summer movie season and about HBO, so this week I’m going to catch up on all the little things I’ve been ignoring lately. First, I’ll start with my most recent object of uncontrollable bile, Jennifer Lopez, whose 15 minutes of fame should have been over a lo-o-o-o-o-ng time ago.

This woman’s overexposure is exasperating. It seems like every three months, some atrocious movie or song or flagrant, attention-starved outfit spreads her name and face around the media like a case of the clap. Apparently not satisfied with this level of ubiquity, J.Lo announced last month that she’ll continue to spread her thin talents still thinner with a one-hour NBC special and a sitcom based on her life growing up in the Bronx.

I’m sure the sitcom will lovingly portray J.Lo’s childhood in New York before hair extensions, stylists, and Versace made her the woman she is today. But I can’t imagine the hellish hour-long variety show that she’ll unleash. This type of unabashed vanity can only be rivaled by Mariah Carey’s upcoming semiautobiographical film Glitter, for which a screenwriter was given the thankless task of tailing the singer for a year.

Far more entertaining than any variety show is the information that J.Lo not-so-wisely revealed when she sued imprisoned rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight last month. Her highness was supposedly trying to stop Knight from selling a videotape of herself having sex with a now former boyfriend. The suit was dropped when Knight made it clear he was in possession of no such tape. But the fact that J.Lo filed the suit means such a tape probably exists.

And why would such a tape exist, you ask? Because, my friend, there is no more breathtakingly beautiful act than physical love—but apparently, it doesn’t mean much until it has been recorded for posterity. Just think: In 10 short years, Jennifer Lopez will have gone from fly girl to movie star to ornament on Puff Daddy’s arm to pop star to TV star to porn star. Her career will have come full circle in such a short amount of time. Truly a remarkable achievement.

Reality bites

The reality of “reality” TV is starting to become crystal clear. But just in case you don’t know about the various lawsuits surrounding Survivor, let me catch you up. Stacey Stillman, a contestant on the first season, sued producer Mark Burnett and CBS, claiming her exit from the show had been manipulated by Burnett. The producer and CBS countersued, claiming that Stillman had broken the clause in her contract preventing her from revealing anything about what happened offscreen during the show’s filming.

Well, it turns out there was much to reveal, much of it discrediting the entire premise of the program. In detailed testimony, fellow contestant Dirk Been, who has also broken his contract clause, testified that Burnett had indeed had a discussion with him on the ninth day of filming. In that discussion, Burnett suggested Been form an alliance and vote Stillman off the island, because she was a less interesting character compared to contestants such as Rudy Boesch.

The fact that Burnett specifically mentioned Boesch is particularly intriguing, given that, according to Been’s testimony, Burnett and Boesch had a prior relationship. It seems that Rudy had been a contestant in 1996 on Burnett’s Discovery Channel reality show Eco-Challenge. Boesch apparently talked openly to other contestants about his friendship with Burnett and said that he was being advised by the producer on how to win the game.

These events are questionable at best, but other revelations in the testimony suggest that the game itself was never as reality-based as producers would have had us believe. Turns out the tapioca root and sugar cane that contestants were eating was not indigenous to the island, but was planted there for the purposes of the show. In addition, Been claimed that one of the lighting technicians told him he’d overheard the producers discussing placing fish in the traps so that contestants would have food. Been also says that he was told to shave his sideburns and goatee for “health reasons,” while Richard Hatch maintained a beard throughout.

On a certain level, none of this should really be surprising. After all, it’s just TV; it’s not as if the producers would actually have let people starve to death. (Well, maybe, if it had meant ratings....) But these revelations still drive home the fact that this so-called reality was always phony, despite the show’s strident assertions to the contrary. Hopefully, this latest news will slow down the stampeding reality-show beast, but I suppose we won’t know till we get the ratings for Survivor’s next edition in Africa this fall. Meanwhile, we’ll still have to suffer through another edition of Big Brother in July.

On a related, and curious, note, Survivor has been a bust in Britain; the airing of the first season has earned miserable ratings. Yet the country’s own edition of Big Brother—which was such a failure here—is practically leading to riots in the streets. British people are outraged at the amount of nudity, sex, and cursing going on between cast members. On a recent hour-long episode, a total of 27 minutes of the program was actually silent, due to the fact that so many curse words had been edited out. And this is in a country where standards for obscenity are much more lax than they are here. Who the hell knew the British were hornier and more foulmouthed than us?

Quotable material

I think I received more answers to “Quotidian Challenge” last week than ever before. I can also say that I was honestly shocked and horrified to find that most answers misidentified the quote as coming from Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Only Wanna Be With You.” Perplexed and disturbed, I was forced to perform the odious task of hunting down Darius Rucker lyrics on the Internet to figure out just what the hell was going on. Turns out, the song does in fact use those lyrics, originally penned by Bob Dylan, and that Rucker mentions Mr. Zimmerman right before quoting him.

People, please, get thee to a record store immediately and buy Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Then take your copy of Cracked Rear View and see how many times you have to drive your car over it before it turns to dust. You’ll be a happier, healthier human being in the long run.

Quotidian Challenge

“They declared me unfit to live. Said into that great void my soul’d be hurled. They wanted to know why I did what I did. Well, sir, I guess there’s just a meanness in this world.”

Be the first to e-mail the origin of this useless bit of trivia to poplife the shame of your name printed in the paper and some free useless crap from the Nashville Scene!

Previous week’s answer: “They say I shot a man named Grey and took his wife to Italy. She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me. I can’t help it if I’m lucky.”—“Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan.

Winner: Greg Cothron.


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