Tag Archives: Time

How I almost appeared on The Tonight Show.

Casual Friday. It’s already hot and sticky in L.A., and I’m writing this naked. Those are the facts, people. Just accept them.

On Casual Fridays I like to bunk off work and hand the Swami over to someone who writes better than I do, or at the very least has something better to say. Today that honor falls to a guy whose name I will have to cut and paste, because I can neither pronounce it nor spell it: James Poniewozik.

LenoHe’s written a fantastically informative article for Time magazine about the future of television. And right now, he posits, the future seems to rest on what happens next week when Jay Leno launches his new show five nights a week on NBC, replacing their old, costly, lumbering, expensive dramas that nobody was watching.

Most people are expecting this experiment to be a flop. The bulk of variety shows do, after all, go into a rapid tailspin and disappear. In the 1950s, we used to enjoy watching a mixed bag of crap. Nowadays, less so. Unless there’s a talent show element to it at least, such as American Idol, in which case we’ll watch crap forever.

Witness the Osbournes variety special – The Osbournes Reloaded – which Fox was extremely cockahoop about at the time, and which was meant to be the first of a series of six. Unfortunately, the premier was so mind-numbingly dreadful that the rest of them were never shown. Here’s a taste.

leno picSo now we’re getting Jay Leno, trying to salvage his post-Tonight Show glory.

I once received a phone-call from The Tonight Show, inviting me to be on as a guest. Somebody had dropped out, it was late in the day, and I lived close to their Burbank Studios. This was when I used to do handwriting analysis. One of Leno’s producers had seen me on The View, apparently, and thought I’d be fun. But first they needed me to do a quick audition please. “Sure,” I said. “Easy.”

I didn’t drive in those days, so I traveled to Burbank by bus. And I bet not many of Jay Leno’s guests ever did that!

When I arrived, I was taken into a small room by the producer who had me analyze her handwriting. The girl in question was a mess. She had huge emotional problems, I recall, and somehow it didn’t seem right or responsible, even for an audition, to make light of them. So I gave her a straight reading, which was pretty damn accurate, just not especially entertaining.

Midway through, the room darkens. This taller, older woman walks to the door, stands there with her arms folded, listens for five seconds, then blurts out “No” in a stern voices and strides away.

That was it. I was promptly shunted out, given a handshake – “Sorry.” – and told to leave. Clearly, I wasn’t Tonight Show material.

To make matters far worse, when I got home I took off my trousers and found a massive brown skid-mark down the back. Seems I’d sat in something on the bus! One of the many hazards of using the L.A. public transit system. Most times you spot it before you sit down; but sometimes you’re preoccupied with an audition and possibly appearing on The Tonight Show and you forget to look. Oh god. Nothing could have been more embarrassing. I’d walked around their offices, meeting people, saying hi, doing quick handwriting analyses for anyone who asked…and all the while I looked like I’d shat my pants. I still cringe even now.

Anyway, who knows if I’ll be invited onto Leno’s new show. Maybe that old bag who said no to my gifts before has retired now.

Of course, I don’t do handwriting stuff any more, but that’s okay. I have other talents. Yesterday, for instance, a producer emailed me, asking if I’d like to do the voice of the lead character in a cartoon for the web. A fun character. He’s a talkshow host. “The guy has a gun for a nose,” the producer explained, “and explosives for a chin….it’s called Gun Nose.”

Of course it is. What else?

I said maybe. But I’m not hopeful for it. Gun Nose? Really? Why on earth would a producer dream up a character called Gun Nose, then automatically think, “You know who’d be good for this? That guy who does reports on NPR. I forget his name…the idiotic one.” Weird. And a hoax, I’m sure.

In the meantime, take a look at the Time article. All very interesting. And don’t forget to watch when Jay invites me on his new show later this year as a guest. “Next we have a very funny and original man. Author, handwriting analyst, NPR contributor, and the voice of Gun Nose….Cash Peters.”

I thank you.

www.cashpeters.com

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Goodbye, brain-paralyzing garbage, we’ll miss you.

I read over the weekend that the upcoming season of the worst and possibly fakest reality show ever, The Hills, will be the last.

It’s okay, you can stop cheering now.

Not that I tune in to The Hills myself or anything. I can’t, unfortunately – I made a deal with MTV: “You continue to make this absurd, atrocious, vacuous rubbish, and market it under the guise of quality entertainment, and I won’t watch it.”

We’ve both stuck to our side of the bargain so far and it’s worked pretty well.

So, while “the kids” in America have remained oddly involved for five seasons with the flatlining intellectual world of Lauren Conrad and her fashion friends at Teen Vogue in Los Angeles, California, I’ve had to find other things to do. As a result, my life putters ahead quite adequately without  understanding to any great degree who Lauren and Heidi and Lo and Audrina and Spencer are, or what their lives are about, or why anyone would think it a good idea to give such apparently hollow shells a TV series in the first place.

Then I got the good news – I’m going to be spared the effort of ever finding out. The fifth season will be the last. Ratings are not as good as they were – fans are becoming less fannier and tuning out; Lauren, the lynchpin of the whole thing, is leaving the show; and the producers are pulling the plug.

Of course, there’ll always be an audience for bland nonsense like this, and something else just as bad will leap up soon to take its place, I’m sure. Cuz here’s the truth. Due to:

a) an underfunded school system that emphasizes individuality and being the best you can be, but without specifying what at; and which lets pupils emerge at the end claiming to have an education, even though they can’t spell or talk coherently or add up numbers or point to Europe on a map; and

b) a society morally and intellectually on the ropes, where too many kids believe that, if the whole studying thing doesn’t work out, they can always become rappers or TV stars…

a large part of today’s youth audience remains hardcore dim. They’ll happily sit for hours in front of the television watching tanned morons stare blankly at each other as they struggle to form complete sentences, then they’ll go out and, like the robots they are, mechanically buy without question all the products and silly fads and services that greedy networks promote in the commercial breaks, knowing their audience is not smart enough to figure out that they’re being manipulated.

Actually, I had the privilege of eavesdropping on a group of teens in Starbucks yesterday. Drawing inspiration from The Hills, no doubt, their conversation was a series of blank thoughts and long gaps connected with ten million combinations of ‘totally’ and ‘like’ and “so I go, ‘you’re kidding me’ and he goes ‘no’ and I go ‘what the hell? I mean, dude, come on, like, chill, alright?’ Y’know what I’m saying?”

And the other kids nodded. They knew exactly what he was saying. Because he was saying nothing. Which was about all they could handle.

Indeed, the only reason I feel comfortable telling you all of this is because I happen to know that none of the people we’re talking about has the mental capacity to read this far down the page. I guarantee they checked out after the headline.

“Like, wow. Seven of those word-things at one time is, like, totally enough, thank you.”

The reason I’m so cheered by the end of The Hills, though, is because it gives me hope. The world is in flux right now. Everything’s changing. Our very expectations about life and how to earn a living and what a secure financial future might mean are going through  a tumble-dryer of transformation. This, believe it or not, is good news.

Now that the economy’s down the toilet, I suspect we’re reaching the end of a cultural era too.

With any luck, it signals the demise of witless “reality” shows shot in Hollywood mansions, promoting the Beverly Hills lifestyle of celebrity and fame and glamour as aspirational, when in truth it’s  just an invention of TV and the movies. If you don’t believe me, go there. In the real Beverly Hills right now, people are hurting. The recession is biting hard. Businesses are struggling. Restaurants are failing. Life savings have been lost. Glamour and fame and celebrity are taking second place in a lot of cases to strategies for everyday survival and not losing their house and how to pay for college fees.  

Now, that’s the Hills they should be making reality shows about, because in the years ahead, it’s the only one that’s going to make any sense. A new era is coming, one in which the dim children of America are going to wish they’d spent less time watching frothy, mind-numbing confectionery about frothy, mind-already-numb people on TV, and actually studied and learned to speak and done something useful with their young lives when they had the chance. Karma has a reputation to maintain. She’s known to be a diva bitch. And the youth of this country is about to find out how much of a diva bitch that is.

Finally, in the spirit of Friday’s blog, which generated massive amounts of traffic and even made it on to the website of Time magazine, may I just say Rachel Bilson, Hugh Laurie, Jim Cramer, Homer Simpson,  and Jon Stewart?

Thank you.

The Hills gets no magic carpets out of five.

TV Swami – he say NO.  And good riddance.

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