HITS Daily Double
When the biggest recommendation for a Hollywood film is the sight of Brad Pitt’s butt cheeks in Troy, I’ll be home monitoring ESPN’s hourly SportsCenter, thank you very much. And wondering how we can keep sending troops around the world at the same time as we mourn their loss every Memorial Day. Strange world, innit?


Madonna Rouses the Troops, the T-Wolves Are Barely Breathing, Six Feet Under Honors the Dead, the Angels Walk This Earth, Chris Stamey Keeps Power Pop Alive and Alanis Fights the Good Fight
Have all the great pop culture revolutions already been fought and won? Never has the world of entertainment seemed like such a lame series of high-tech bread-and-circus knockoffs designed squarely at the lowest-common-denominator masses and signifying less than zero. What can we make of a universe in which Madonna has exchanged fellating Coke bottles and playing "Truth or Dare" for drinking 25 liters of Kabbalah water and keeping the Sabbath? Even our beloved Sopranos had an off week with its head-scratching pseudo-Freudian dream sequence before righting itself as Silvio whacked Adriana in last Sunday’s penultimate show of the season. Meanwhile, one depressing white elephant of a summer blockbuster movie follows another into the megaplex and languishes there without any word-of-mouth must-see buzz. When the biggest recommendation for a Hollywood film is the sight of Brad Pitt’s butt cheeks in Troy, I’ll be home monitoring ESPN’s hourly SportsCenter, thank you very much. And wondering how we can keep sending troops around the world at the same time as we mourn their loss every Memorial Day. Strange world, innit?

I have come here not to bury the Timberwolves, but to praise them. They are a nice, little regular-season team, but this ain't the regular season and they are most certainly NOT playing the Sacramento Kings anymore. I'm of the full belief that if Sam Cassell (and. for that matter, Troy Hudson) were both healthy and available for this series, the outcome might not be so preordained. There is much to admire about these Wolves. First, KG is just a plain stud. His game is a wonder. A 7-foot fireball with the wingspan of a pterodactyl, so long, so athletic. He's taken this team on his back for the entire season and brings the kind of passion to this me-first league that is sorely lacking. Flip Saunders is a flat-out great coach. His teams take on his personality: smart, disciplined, patient and tough. Their future is bright... it's just not here yet. As for Laker nation, we're feeling pretty good right about now. Shaquille is defending and rebounding with purpose and determination. Kobe is getting people involved and picking his spots beautifully. Karl brings his toughness and tenacity and Gary is keeping his mouth shut. So far, the surprise of this playoff season has to be the play of Derek Fisher. He had a very inconsistent regular season, but has played with the desire, poise and accuracy that has been a hallmark of previous championship seasons. When he's contributing like this, the Lakers are nearly impossible to beat. The next round will bring a worthy opponent, but that's next week's column. One more win to the "Promised Land" aka the NBA Finals. Tune in to TNT Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. to find out if the Lakers made the trip and brought along the milk and honey. (Joel Amsterdam)

Although I’m still young into my illustrious career as an A&R/ Manager, this weekend will be big for me. My band Nimbus will be showcasing at the El Rey Theater Friday night and I’ve been working very hard over the past year to get them to this point. I am also very thankful that we have a long weekend because it will give me a chance to unwind a bit and relax.

This weekend is the next installment in the blockbuster brigade of summer flicks. The Day After Tomorrow opens this weekend and will probably be a huge draw at the box office. I am still unsure about this one: it could be good, but it could be bad. I have more excitement and anticipation for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third installment of this seven-story tale. I was so blown away by the first two that I went out and read the book because I was so curious to find out what was going to happen next, rather than wait around for the movie. Granted the books have been out for awhile, but if you know me you know I never read. So, it is saying a lot for the Harry Potter franchise. (Je-C)

1. Madonna, The Re-Invention Tour at the Forum, L.A.: Seems like the cultural provocateur can still rankle the old white rockcrit guard even if this PG-13 show is tame by today’s revved-up Spears/Aguilera bopper-slut standards. Maybe it was her temerity in covering John Lennon’s "Imagine" over video screen images of suffering children, not one of her high points, but overall, I admired the show. Rather than a "Re-Invention," it's more a re-contextualization as Madonna straps on electric and acoustic guitar to prove classics like "Like a Prayer," "Burning Up," "Express Yourself," "Material Girl," "Get Into the Groove," "Papa Don’t Preach" and "Holiday" aren’t just dance-floor diversions, but full-fledged pop-rock anthems worthy of Dylan-dom at least as much as divadom. It's staged as a non-stop three-ring circus, Broadway meets arena-rock, a series of "Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy" set pieces which serve as a showcase for the 45-year-old soccer mom trouper’s buff bod, Yoga stretches and impressive stamina. The message seems to be little more than love one another, but not more than yourself, work hard to make your dreams come true and don’t let the critics rain on your parade. Still, the very visible, perspiration-over-inspiration effort put into making the almost-two-hour theatrical extravaganza happen like clockwork every night also saps its humanity and, alas, any palpable eroticism (give us pornography or give us death). And while Madonna eventually does deign to come off her throne to relate directly to the audience—thanking them for showing up 24 hours after a stomach flu forced postponement (hey, what did she expect, they did pay up to $350 a ticket)—such openness was the exception rather than the rule. Of course, it didn’t appear to bother the adoring crowd (many dressed in their favorite Madonna period, from post-punk Boy Toy and lacey Virgin Bride through Dominatrix and Guerilla Warrior), who sure squealed like they were getting their money’s worth. Proving every bit the show biz hoofer, say, Shirley MacLaine is, Madonna showed that, when it comes to pure spectacle, all the other teenpop wannabes still have a lot to learn from her majesty. (Roy Trakin)

2. Six Feet Under (HBO): Alan Ball’s mordantly funny, bleakly satirical modern comedy of manners for the living and dead takes off precisely where it left off last season, with the premiere episode airing June 13. Peter Krause’s Nate, having learned his wife Lisa (Lili Taylor) was found drowned off the Santa Barbara coast, emerges bloodied from a barroom brawl and unable to get it up for Rachel Griffiths’ Brenda, more than ready to take him back despite an incipient romance with her apartment complex neighbor. Matriarch Frances Conroy and James Cromwell are now married and living in the funeral home, while gay couple Michael C. Hall and Matthew St. Patrick have tentatively rekindled their relationship. Lauren Ambrose is still brooding after revealing to her art-school boyfriend she’s had an abortion, Freddy Rodriguez’s Rico wrestles with his infidelities and Rainn Wilson’s delightfully eccentric mortician trainee Arthur tries to handle living under one roof with newlyweds Ruth and George by labeling his yogurt. The first episode opens with a great acid flashback that doesn’t pay off until the surprise ending. It’s all about the difficulties of putting the past behind you and moving on, as Nate argues with Lisa’s family over whether to cremate her remains, per their wishes, or follow her own stated desire to be buried directly in the ground sans coffin. (RT)

3. Anaheim Angels: Ah, to be in first place for the start of the season and, despite so many injuries, stay there! To be an Angels fan this year is a true bilingual experience with the addition of the amazing four—Vladimir Guerrero, Jose Guillen, Kelvim Escobar and Bartolo Colon. While Colon hasn’t quite lived up to his hype yet, they truly have changed the pace and feel of the team. To watch Vladi hit and connect conjures up old Reggie Jackson comparisons. And he does have the best hair in baseball. Guillen, well what can’t you say about him? He played through major injuries and has helped keep the team atop the AL West rankings—as well as keeping things interesting in his post-game comments. The team looks great even with the absence of injured players Troy Glaus, Garrett Anderson, Tim Salmon, Darren Erstad and Brendan Donnelly (talk about a painful injury, the man broke his nose in 30-some odd places). Hand it to catcher Bengie Molina (batting .290), Adam Kennedy, Aaron Sele, Scott Shields, Jarrod Washburn, Chone Figgins (batting .310, this speedster’s a pretty amazing player who hasn’t even peaked yet), Shane Halter and AA’er Casey Kotchman. They continue to add depth to new (and first-ever Latino) owner Arte Moreno’s team. From lowering beer prices to acquiring Guerrero/Guillen, it’s been an amazing season so far and it hasn’t even really heated up yet. After sweeping the Orioles last week, the Halos packed off to Toronto, where it’s been a tough go so far between ejections, a fielding error and Guillen’s vocal complaints about the Blue Jays intentionally hitting him. It should be an interesting end of that series, leading up to this weekend, when they’ll take on the White Sox in Chicago. (KCAL this Friday, Fox on Saturday and Sunday). (Hanna "I Love the Angels" Pantle)

4. Avril Lavigne: She’s naughty and she’s nice now that her sophomore Arista/RMG album Under My Skin arrived in stores this week. The pop poser claims she is not punk—and she’s actually shy. Well, shy girls likely wouldn’t give the middle-finger salute on MTV’s TRL—especially after Janet Jackson’s breastcapade. But Lavigne did just that on Tuesday, when MTV VJ Damien Fahey asked about the labels the media has slapped on her, accentuating the gesture with the f-word. The set immediately went dark, according to Open All Night. Oops. (Valerie Nome)

5. www.awfulplasticsurgery.com: A must for The Swan fans, this fascinating archive of botched celebrity procedures includes J. Lo’s nose job, Courtney Love’s trout lips, Lindsay Lohan’s enhanced boobs, Priscilla Presley’s chipmunk cheeks, Loretta Swit’s kabuki mask, Burt Reynolds’ Asian eyes facelift and Axl Rose’s hair weave, complete with savagely sarcastic critique. Thanks to Bob Lefsetz for the recommendation. (RT)

6. Chris Stamey, Travels in the South (Yep Rock): This North Carolina-based singer-songwriter is a power-pop pioneer who played in such seminal '70 and '80s New Wave bands as the Sneakers and the dBs, where his bandmates included the likes of R.E.M.’s Peter Holsapple and producer Mitch Easter. Not only someone who knows his way around a melody, Stamey is an intellectual, too, as can be heard underneath the Beach Boys harmonies in his tribute to Danish existential philosopher "Kierkegaard," and his "Leap of Faith." Showing off his pop IQ, "In Spanish Harlem" pays tribute to the Ben E. King/Phil Spector classic with a meta-reconstruction that demonstrates (and name-checks) the parts performed by Kenny Burrell, who "doesn't know how to play out of tune," and famed Wrecking Crew drummer Hal Blaine in the original. As the aw-shucks, braces-clad cleancut kid who once played bass for Alex Chilton back when the Big Star/Box Tops cult figure was rocking the punk-rock world from Lexington & Third in New York City in the late ’70s, Stamey has aged gracefully to become one of artful, melodic Southern pop's elder statesmen. (RT)

7. Julia Reed, The Turtle Derby Queen and other Southern Phenomena (Random House): Long a personal favorite, Reed writes about food for The New York Times Sunday Magazine, pens political profiles for Vogue and does whatever Newsweek decides to let her loose on. A true daughter of the American South, she balances with love and reverance the old school with the new progressivism, creating understanding between two seemingly polemic realities. Her essay on Country's True First Lady—and the strange synergy between Tammy Wynette and George Jones and Jones' current wife Nancy—alone is worth the price. Reed is quick to embrace all manner of tradition, including funeral food (cooking for those who suffered a loss), beauty rituals (you can't have an event without a queen) and profiles of several prominent Southerners (like the Governor of the Great State of Louisiana, who beat former KKK man David Duke in a run-off election). (Holly Gleason)

8. Knowing Your Friends Trust You With Their Deepest Secrets: There was a number on my caller ID I didn't recognize—beyond the area code being one of my several hometowns. Hitting re-dial, there was the voice of an old friend who needed to talk, to confess doubts and misgivings, to weigh the tides, check the horizon, seek the far wall. What they shared is something they might well not tell anyone else—and in a world where information is currency and power, knowing this dear soul both trusted my discretion and my insight may've been the greatest gift of all. May none of us in our daily rush to deal with the exponentiating craziness lose sight of these gifts when they present themselves. It's easy to be too busy, but next to impossible to get this sort of integrity validation on command. Whatever we give back pales in comparison to the compliment we're given. Remember that; be there. (HG)

9. Alanis Morissette, "Eight Easy Steps" (Maverick): It’s funny how soon people forget that you once sold upwards of 14 million albums of your debut, but Alanis’ new So-Called Chaos arrives with nary a buzz, unless you watch the Oxygen cable channel, that is. The dour accusatory nature of her debut has long since given way to someone willing to not take herself so seriously, given recent "ironic," self-deprecating appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm, as God in Kevin Smith’s earnest religious satire Dogma and with Howard Stern. And this lead-off track, inexplicably not the first single (which is "Everything"), hoists herself on the petard of any number of social faux pas, though not without a singalong, surging chorus. Several have complained of John Shanks’ overly pop production, but to my mind, he’s given Morissette the same kind of frame for her fury original producer Glen Ballard once did. The angry female shtick may seem kinda ‘90s right now, but Alanis always preferred getting naked to fighting, which makes her our kind of gal. (RT)

10. Gyro (from California Pita Grill): Man, is it good. Half lamb and half beef, and definitely an item worth checking out, unless, of course you are vegetarian, in which case you could always get the soy version from some other restaurant. (Je-C)



TV SHOW I ACTUALLY LOVE THIS WEEK: Shorties Watchin’ Shorties (Comedy Central)

SEEN/HEARD THIS WEEK: "You were funnier than Sarah Silverman." (Said to me after we both did stand-up @ the Improv. I am overwhelmingly obsessed with Sarah Silverman. Therefore, I am now incredibly cocky. But tragically, no closer to being best friends with her.)

FAVORITE PICK ON A MENU THIS WEEK: Fish & chips (Cat & Fiddle)


SONG I KEEP LISTENING TO THIS WEEK: Moby, "We Are All Made of Stars"


COMMERCIAL I AUDITIONED FOR THAT’S AIRING (W/O ME) THIS WEEK: Some dumb office spot. I forgot the product, but I remember eating an entire clove of garlic during my callback. And I got a big laugh, too. Everyone else faked it. By the way, eating a garlic clove was in context with the wacky spot’s context, and not just something I do to impress casting directors on my own accord. Whatever, I’m not in it for the money. I wouldn’t sink so low as to actually book a job. Please.

CONCLUSION FOR THIS WEEK: I was in my car the other night and noticed a bee sitting on the trunk of the guy’s car in front of me. And it stayed there for seven or eight blocks. It got me thinking about when you’re on a plane and you see a fly. And you get all concerned for how confused that fly is going to be when you land. But then I’m like, maybe we’re not giving these ‘lil fellas enough credit. Maybe this particular bee was running late to meet friends at some hip and trendy tree and he was all like, "I’m so not about flying seven or eight blocks right now. I’m just gonna hop a ride on this sweet, sweet Saturn and make up some time." Oh. and by the way, those East Coast cicadas should come out here to L.A. I would totally kick their ass(es). (Jill Kushner)

The Day After Tomorrow (20th Century Fox)
Global warming is resulting in apocalypse now, with tidal waves, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes making it time to pack up and leave.
Stars: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sela Ward, Jared Harris, Perry King and a legion of special effects technicians.
Director: Roland Emmerich
Thumbs Up:
The previews interspersed with the NBA spots have me almost ready to take a flier.
Thumbs Down: Anyone remember Emmerich’s Godzilla? Thought not.
Soundtrack: Varese Sarabande album features score by Harald Kloser.

Raising Helen (Touchstone Pictures)
When her sister and brother-in-law die in a car accident, a young modeling agency assistant takes on the role of guardian of their surviving three children, as she tries to juggle parenthood with the effects on her lifestyle and job.
Stars: Kate Hudson, John Corbett, Joan Cusack, Helen Mirren, Hector Elizondo, Paris Hilton, Felicity Huffman
Director: Garry Marshall
(The Princess Diaries, Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride)
Thumbs Up: Standard premise, the real question is, can Kate Hudson carry a movie in this Reese Witherspoon-styled role?
Thumbs Down: Hudson hasn’t really had a winning performance at the box office since Almost Famous, and that was no smash.
Soundtrack: Hollywood Records soundtrack features Devo’s "Whip It" and "Destiny" along with tracks by Liz Phair, Mark McGrath, Five for Fighting, Fefe Dobson, John Hiatt, Josh Kelley, David Bowie, Dana Glover, Joan Osbourne, Simon & Garfunkel and Haylie Duff.
Website: www.raisinghelen.movies.com

Soul Plane (MGM)
An all-black version of Airplane. After winning $600 million in a lawsuit from an airline after an incident that kills his dog, Dakwon starts his own airline, N.W.A., designed to appeal to an African-American customer base, with Snoop Dogg as the pilot, as a white family ends up aboard the plane in a mix-up.
Stars: Kevin Hart, Tom Arnold, D.L. Hughley, Method Man, Mo’Nique
Director: Jessy Terrero in feature debut
Thumbs Up: Could just be silly enough for a few laughs.
Thumbs Down: How can you improve upon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Peter Graves as co-pilots in the original?
Soundtrack: None
Website: www.soulplane.com

Baadasssss! (Sony Pictures Classics)
Son Mario van Peebles’ loving homage to his father, groundbreaking blaxploitation filmmaker Melvin van Peebles, whose 1971 feature, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, paved the way for African-American filmmakers.
Stars: Mario van Peebles, Ossie Davis, David Alan Grier, Paul Rodriguez, Saul Rubinek, Rainn Wilson (Six Feet Under’s Arthur)
Director: Mario van Peebles
Thumbs Up: Fascinating story told from the inside-out, with good advance notices.
Thumbs Down: Can the son tell the story, warts and all, or will there be a hesitance to show the dark side?
Soundtrack: BBE Records soundtrack features a new song from Zap Mama and tracks from King Floyd, Miriam Makeba, Pete Rock featuring Pharoahe Monch, WAR and Roy Ayers with composer Tyler Bates assembling a band which features Earth, Wind & Fire’s Maurice White

Saved! (United Artists)
When a girl attending a Baptist high school becomes pregnant, she finds herself ostracized, as all her former friends turn on her.
Stars: Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin, Martin Donovan, Patrick (Almost Famous) Fugit, Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse), Mandy Moore, Mary-Louise Parker
Director: Brian Dannelly
in feature film debut, produced by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe
Thumbs Up:
Culkin is getting raves for his role as a paraplegic in this religious satire.
Thumbs Down: Indie satires about religion are box office poison… See Kevin Smith’s Dogma
Soundtrack: None
Website: www.savedmovie.com

www.craigslist.com: "Post of the Week."

will pay for pig farm (and church)

Reply to: [email protected]
Date: 2004-05-20, 4:42PM PDT
I'm scouting locations for a short film created from an award-winning script. It will be shot from June 30 through July 6. It is a "student film" with a very low budget, but the highest production values, as it is being shot and produced by experienced professionals.
We need the use of a pig farm (and a church) for two seperate half-day shoots. If anyone knows of anything within 30 miles of L.A., please respond to this. These are very short scenes and we are willing to work around just about any obstacles, but if you can supply pigs and a place to film them, we will offer to pay a little something plus film credits and whatever else we can do. Thanks, Michael

JILL’S SHAMELESS PLUG: Come See Stand-Up, Wed. June 2 @ The Parlour Club, 8:00 p.m. (No Cover! Good Comics!)

Thanks to Roy Trakin, Joel Amsterdam. Je-C, Holly Gleason, Hanna Pantle and Jill Kushner for helping dedicate this Weakend Planner to those who gave their life to preserve our freedom.