Saturday, September 10, 2011

Inexplicably, a Monkey

In today's New York Times, a review of a reality show about "four dogs and, inexplicably, a monkey... You learn a lot about dogs from the clips... You learn, for instance, that they are close to figuring out how to drive cars." That's what it says in the New York Times! Way to bury the lede. But the dog news doesn't end there: the New York Times gossip columnist attended the Hero Dog Awards. I am starting to feel sorry for her! Back to TV: I watched Dick Cavett interview Mel Brooks on HBO last night. Sometimes Dick Cavett forgot to do the interview! He might suddenly tell a rambling story about Tallulah Bankhead, for example, while Mel Brooks sits there waiting for the question that never comes. Mr. Brooks was sprightly and entertaining, of course, although at one point he did a George Arliss impersonation (!) which even Dick Cavett realized was obscure. Cavett advised the live audience to hurry home and "google" George Arliss - a thrilling prospect. Let me put this in perspective: the other day I taught a college class in which not a single person had heard of Jessica Lange (pictured, with, explicably, a monkey). (By the way, yes, Dick Cavett indulged in the infamous Dick Cavett cliché of bragging in a particularly annoying offhand way about how he used to hang out with Groucho.) The show started with a Bob Hope anecdote and ended with a Jerry Lewis reference, so I should have been the happiest boy on earth, but all I could think about was a roomful of HBO executives: "Tallulah Bankhead AND George Arliss? This is gold!" At one point, Dick Cavett referred to Mel Brooks as "an exploding supernova of humor" (!) proving that mind-boggling Jerry Lewis-style cosmic celebrity glad-handing is not dead.