Tag Archives: TV

The Thursday Morning Memo – more than just a podcast

ThursdayMorningMemo1400x1400The new podcast has arrived. It’s called The Thursday Morning Memo, a stimulating ragbag of motivational thoughts and ideas to make your life better, smoother, and happier.

Topics covered each week will include improving your self-worth, making money without struggle, the Law of Attraction, and so on. New books, new audio, new movies and TV shows, and a ton of tips and sound advice for getting you up to the next level. It’s short, it’s fun, and it’s entertaining. Hear the latest episode HERE. It features an interview with a British hypnotherapist who came up with a fantastic technique for getting the money-making principles contained in Napoleon Hill’s bestseller Think and Grow Rich directly into your mind.  The Life Quiz

This, then, has been the end of a process. If you remember, I put out a series of podcasts called The Life Quiz earlier this year. Those were very well-received too, and season 2 is now up and running, and includes even more amazing, accomplished people talking about normal_arrow-down-red_benji_par_01life and the lessons they’ve learned.

But there’s the thing: I needed something else.

If there’s one problem with that show, it’s that it’s fairly timeless. You could listen today or next century, it wouldn’t matter; the lessons in the episodes would still be meaningful. I love that about it, but it can be a little limiting for me in terms of subject matter. What I needed, I realized, was a second podcast, a weekly rip-and-read show that was up-to-date and dealt with the other things that interest me – health, spirituality, motivation, new ideas, and so on.

Well, hey presto.

Please say hello to The Thursday Morning Memo. Each and every week, I’ll be broadcasting a lively and information-filled 20-minute bulletin from Hollywood, California. So why not give it a listen?

You can subscribe and download it on iTunes, which I recommend, or just click on THIS LINK and listen RIGHT NOW to the latest episode.

ThursdayMorningMemo1400x1400

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Filed under Health, Hollywood, movies, politics, Television commentary

Dead dogs and Englishmen

Well, that didn’t go well, did it? Last night’s BBC thing, I mean.

If you were listening, you’ll know that a relatively light-hearted chit-chat about the quirkery of American television devolved within no time at all into a quagmire of dead dogs, multiple rapists, broken legs on Dancing with the Stars, and Rachel Bilson’s marriage (which, by the way, I put on the same level, interest-wise, as the previous three.)

As a result, I fear my stint on Up All Night may be over. Or, if not over, then drawing to a premature end. One of those premature ends that, quite honestly, is probably long overdue.

After all, it’s been eleven years. In fact, the eleventh anniversary was this very week, though I forgot to mention that in my haste to talk about not one, but seventeen dogs being burned alive in a propane explosion.

Doing TV reviews was not a job I applied for, by the way. I got it by nepotism. A friend of mine used to host the show in the mid-90s and he called me up one day with sad news: the previous guy had died. Or absconded. Or simply not shown up for work and proved himself unreliable. “Will you fill in this week for three minutes? You can do it on the phone.” He made it sound easy, which to me is important, so I said yes, despite the fact that I didn’t watch any television and had to get all my information from magazines in our local supermarket. And when the guy failed to show up the following Monday (the Slot used to be on Mondays) I filled in then, too. And it just grew from there, as these things tend to if you let them. Eleven years later, it’s now half an hour long and broadcast from a real studio in downtown Los Angeles with music and sound-bites and everything. Only one thing hasn’t changed: I still don’t watch television. Well, who has the time?

However, last night’s outing may be, if not the last, then the red flag that signals the beginning of the end. There’s nothing funny about rape or dogs being burned alive. Nothing at all. It just came out that way.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had problems either. Back in January, when I embarked on the Master Cleanser and fasted on maple syrup and fresh lemons for two weeks (the movie of this debacle is on my Facebook page, if you’re interested!), I dared go on the BBC and gush about the benefits of fasting, and the following day almost drowned beneath a tsunami of complaints, one or two of them from doctors who claimed it was irresponsible of me to talk about such ridiculous and dangerous things on air, and thoroughly irresponsible of the BBC to broadcast that kind of holistic drivel. The same doctors who will be dying of blocked arteries, distended colons, and damaged livers years from now, I predict. Though of course you can’t tell them that. Bloody know-it-alls.

Quite frankly, I thought my number was up then. But we soldiered on. Last night, though, was another low, and honestly I’m worried.

My Slot could so easily go the way of the rest of the economy. Cutbacks, downsizing. “Sorry, but we’re taking the show in a new direction, one that involves accuracy and sticking to the topic and not distressing listeners.” At which point that will be it. I’ll be no different to a laid-off mill worker in Ohio or a kennel owner in Pennsylvania whose business  just burned down in a propane explosion.

Not that I need to worry. I’m plenty busy. New book coming out in April, another book just completed, a TV travel show to shoot in May, plus all the American radio stuff I do. Still, after eleven whole years of showing up for something week after week –  I mean, man, that’s like an addiction. It locks you into a groove you can’t easily snap out of, even though I know the day must come at some point.  

One of the reviewers of my new book Naked in Dangerous Places wrote, “Cash Peters is our generation’s Alistair Cook…”  Seriously? Didn’t he report from America for the BBC for 48 years or something preposterous like that and die at the microphone during a propane delivery?  I’m hazy on the exact details.

Last night, I came home after the show with a heavy heart. You can tell how affected I was: I remained completely unconcerned for the safety of the blind contestant on American Idol. Walk too far in the wrong direction, drop into the orchestra pit – I didn’t care.  (He’s going to be voted off soon anyway; he’s outclassed by almost every one of  his sighted rivals) And I wasn’t even as downright appalled as I should have been by a trailer for the upcoming Osbournes Reloaded, a variety show that promises to be a trashy, calamitous disaster, hosted by Ozzy and Sharon, and which seems to involve Sharon being strident and irritating for an hour and Ozzy shaking and being incoherent. What’s reloaded about that? That’s exactly how I remember them from last time.

No, last night, not even the sparkly baubles on American TV could make me feel superior and better about myself. I turned it off, dimmer and even more depressed.

Now at last I know how the Up All Night audience feels after my Slot.  

NOTE: Inside Out, the short movie I made about the Master Cleanser is available to watch on my Facebook page, and only on my Facebook page.

The BBC Slot is available to hear again on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j2dr7/Up_All_Night_11_03_2009/. Have painkillers ready.

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Rachel Bilson causes BIG problems

As if I don’t have enough to worry about.

We have a celebrity problem in our neighborhood. It’s an infestation really. Too many stars living in a small area. At the top end, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own the big house on the hill. Then there are the also-rans: the guy who played Jon-Boy in The Waltons lives close by, as do Courtney Love, David Hyde-Pierce, and Michael Feinstein. Alright, not stars per se, but certainly performers whose faces you recognize, even though you might not be able to put a name to them if you met them in Target.

Speaking of which, I came across Angelica Huston pushing a cart around Wholefoods a few weeks ago. I guess she saw me staring at her like Freddy Krueger, because she panicked and veered off up another aisle.

Our current menace in the street is Rachel Bilson. Personally, I couldn’t pick her out from a crowd of one, but Howard Stern nominated her as the “hottest chick” of 2008, and I see her drifting around her driveway sometimes with big celebrity sunglasses on, so at the very least she must think she’s a star. All I know is, she featured alongside Hayden Christensen (the guy who played Darth Vader) in the film Jumpers, which hit number 1 at the US box office last year during a very dull week for movies.

As is normal in Hollywood, the two of them then started dating, and now they’re engaged. Well, the paparazzi are very excited about that. I know this, because the entire street is filled with huge black SUVs, their drivers slumped low behind the wheel, all eyes fixed on Bilson’s driveway.  

Normally, not much goes on in that driveway. If this comes up in court, I will happily testify to that. Now and then, Christensen’s yellow Mercedes will be parked there, and I’ve seen the two of them sitting in it at the curbside, chatting. But usually they have the good sense to do whatever they’re doing that’s so newsworthy – talking! – elsewhere, and the media leave them alone. When she’s home, though, photogs love to be on Bilson Watch. There can be up to ten SUVs parked in the street at any one time, engines running, drivers slumped, watching. waiting for this unremarkable waif to go shopping or collect her mail or open a window or, for God’s sake, please, do something, anything, that US Weekly might buy a photo of.   

Anyway, yesterday I came home to find that something new had happened. A limo had reversed into Bilson’s driveway! (Could this be more exciting?)  The middle-aged chauffeur was standing there staring along the road, unable to believe, like the rest of us, that from one end to the other was nothing but parked SUVs filled with paparazzi waiting to take a photo of her climbing into the limo and driving away. Perhaps the more delinquent among them, those with lots of time on their hands, might then follow her to wherever she was going and pitch camp there instead. It’s such a waste of energy. I mean, who is this woman really? Not a single one of my friends has even heard of her!

Last year, our neighbors and I would call the police regularly to have these vehicles moved on. Initially, we didn’t know they were paps, we thought they were burglars casing the house. Seriously. But after a couple of visits, the cops gave up and stopped coming. You get rid of one pap and three more arrive.

In truth, then, our infestation is not of celebrities, but of photographers. To begin with it was a novelty and quite funny. One time, I walked out of our front door and watched as a black car reversed at high speed from Bilson’s house and screeched to a stop right in front of me, ready to take a picture. In case I was famous, you understand. Then, realizing US Weekly would pay nothing for a snap of me, the desperate driver discarded me like a used tissue, shut his window, and returned to sitting outside Bilson’s house.  

Personally, I wish she’d move. I’m not angry really about the inconvenience this is causing as much as I’m probably jealous that some fly-by-night “hot chick” the majority of people couldn’t put a name to and will have forgotten in two years is getting all the attention and I’m not.

Oh dear, now I feel unimportant.

But hey, wait! Last night, I learned that a guy who worked on my TV show got high on drugs at some point early in the production and committed four vicious rapes in one night. He’s currently in jail for thirty years. Now, I know that’s somebody else and not me, but I chatted with the guy, we hung out a bit at the office before he turned to crime. Doesn’t that make me even a little bit fascinating and worthy of a photo?

Anyone?

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Filed under Cash Peters, television, Television commentary

Homer Simpson’s favorite travel show?

Clips are surfacing on YouTube – mainly because they were posted there by the network – of a new “adventure travel” show set in Peru, called Martin & Olly.

It’s one of those “let’s put these guys in the jungle and make it seem like they’re alone and in peril” kinds of deals, filled with shaky camera work and night-vision shots where tree-branches thrash the lens and people’s eyes are pearls in the darkness, in an attempt to give it at least the appearance of being real and dangerous and like the hosts are out there on their own and not being dogged by a crew of up to five people every step of the way. 

Not surprisingly, some youtubers aren’t convinced. Their comments on the “reality” of the show are less than forgiving, suggesting that the whole thing is set up and therefore “fiction”, forcing the network to jump in and write its own comments defending the series before it’s even hit the screen.

Problem is – and I speak as someone who’s been down this path and knows – these shows can almost never be authentic. Travel programs are by their very nature phony, and it’s the viewers’ fault. They’re idle layabouts. Fact. They can’t be bothered to travel into dangerous jungles themselves; they prefer to stay at h0me and let a TV network do it for them, Not only that but they then have the nerve to insist that the experience should feel real, like they’re walking in the host’s shoes. Jeez.

Well, to accomplish this is not easy, I need hardly tell you. 

From day one the producers are in a pickle. If the show were actually real and shot that way, it would look and sound crap, like Blair Witch mixed with a home skateboarding video. So they have to cheat. For the greater good, they compromise. They go to enormous lengths to make sure the pictures and sound, especially the sound, are vivid and professional. And the only way to do that is to have a full production crew “lost” in the jungle too. Which is where things get tricky. 

Example: in one scene, the explorers – that’s what M and O are, apparently, “explorers” –  suspect they’re being followed through the undergrowth by a mysterious stranger. Oh, and guess what, they are! Otherwise why mention or show that guy we can see lurking in the bushes? 

He comes to their camp in the night – cue night-vision cameras – and tells them in a series of easy-to-read captions that he was about to skin them alive for straying into his territory. Oh, right. Yeah, sure he was. For a start, he’s outnumbered, not only by the hosts but by their entire crew. Trust me, he wasn’t laying a finger on anyone.  But also, my experience in this genre has taught me that natives are better actors than even the host has to be. They’re completely unselfconscious when it comes to filming. All you have to do is tell them, “Walk into shot and start talking,” and have your fixer slip them a couple of bucks beforehand for their trouble, and suddenly they’re Tom Hanks, slick, word-perfect, unshakable. 

Their performance seems incredibly genuine, it’s amazing, but it is a performance, and because it is, somehow, by some invisible means, let’s call it intuition, the viewer smells a rat. Why? Because that’s not how life goes. The cameras might, might,  just happen to catch such a dangerous incident once, perhaps twice over the course of a series, but in every show?Excitement is fickle. It tends to be sporadic and seldom turns up to order.  You think those ice road truckers live in terror of their eighteen-wheelers disappearing through cracked ice into the ocean every single week? Come on!

These are early days, but Martin & Olly feels like old-style travel TV.  The kind of TV that I’d like to think is dying out slowly. Overproduced and vacuous, overplanned and clunky, hosted by dull, two-dimensional non-personalities stuck in inauthentic situations played as real. Pretend dressed up as genuine, in other words, on the premise that we are dimwits and will believe whatever we’re shown because, hey, it’s on TV, right? And TV is god, it never lies. 

Basically, Martin & Olly is the kind of travel show that Homer Simpson would love.

I like things to succeed, and so I hope the series is significantly better than the clips the network stuck on YouTube. But I won’t be setting my TiVo for it.

Rating for Martin & Olly: Two magic carpets out of five.

TV Swami – he say NO.

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Filed under Television commentary