Clawing to escape the belly of the beast here in Hollywood. To commiserate, email my name assistantatlas at yahoo.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

LA Bloggers On Scary Movies/Me On My Costume

Dude, sweet! Everyone- scurry on over to see this post on Dude.Man.Phat. This is the perfect post for you if you're wanting to rent some scary movies on Halloween. Personally, I'll be attending Halloween festivities with Famke [her costume: hot, hot pirate] and the roomie [his costume: actively-decaying undead- he knows a monster make-up/prosthetics guy] and probably some other friends in West Hollywood to check it out for awhile and then probably back to a bar near either of our places.

As we discussed my possible costume ideas, I complained to the roomie that I hated being cold in my Halloween costume. So he suggested I try and think of a warm costume.

Atlas: "What like an Eskimo?"
The Roomie: "Uh, sure. Yeah. Or a sherpa."
Atlas: "As funny as the costume was on Willow, I dunno, it just doesn't seem. . .original enough. Or funny enough."
The Roomie: "Maybe you could be like a certain kind of Eskimo, like a Inuit or something."
Atlas: "Or like the Only Gay Eskimo."

At that point, my eyes went wide and the Roomie busted out laughing. And that was how this year's costume was born. See if you can spot me in WeHo if y'all come down. I'll be the Only Gay Eskimo. Unless some f*cker steals my costume. Then I'll probably be the Only Gay Eskimo with a girlfriend.

It scares you that I'm The Only Gay Eskimo, doesn't it, Katie?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

You Make the Call Game: Weinstein MANIA!

In honor of the Weinsteins raising a bajillion dollars to fund their Ben-Affleck-enabling indie empire, today's "You Make the Call" Game features an amazing, sure-to-be-Oscar-gold indie film in the fine tradition of "Reindeer Games", "Scary Movie" and "Underclassman". [yeah, check out Harvey's IMDB resume while you're at it. It's got like 180 movies on it! Crazy, yo!] Actually, I kinda liked "Reindeer Games"** ya know. What with all the . . . games. And the reindeer.

So about the movie you're doing. . .

This is an expertly-written interracial love story set against the backdrop of the social turmoil of early 1960s San Francisco. The woman is an uptight-but-gets-more-chill-as-the-movie-goes-on ad copywriter exec-ish person and her lover is an aging [well, for the occupation] jazz musician-turning-nightclub-owner trying to kick heroin. It's like that awful Ewan-Renee "Down With Love", but dramatic and not stupid. And since you're the Weinsteins, everything you touch turns to Oscar gold.

Who needs a Best Actress Statuette the most right now? And more importantly, who has the chops to get one?
Scarlett Johansson has her indie cred down pat thanks to "Lost in Translation", but will her recent "Island" flop drag her down? There's one thing I do know. No one is dragging those perky breasts down anytime soon. Not gravity, not anyone.

Mena Suvari had a red-hot career following "American Beauty", but it's cooled somewhat since then. However, as the Official Abbot-Kinney Celebrity Mascot she may experience a resurgence. But I guess that may be up to you.

You'd recognize Anna Faris from the Weinstein-produced "Scary Movie" franchise, and maybe from "Lost in Translation" where she stole some scenes from Scarlett. In my humble opinion, she's among the most underrated actresses in town, but she's done a lot of crap in her time. Will you forgive her? Will Oscar?

And then there's Natalie Portman. I've loved Natalie since "The Professional" and she hasn't let me down since. No, not even in Star Wars. I mean, come on, no one could've made that dialogue come alive. Anyway, Natalie's bankable, she scored a nomination for Best Supporting Actress with Closer, and she's classy and smart for a young starlet. Could you be the casting angel that gets her the Oscar she deserves?

Terrence Howard may not Hustle & Flow his way to an Oscar this year, but what about next? Remember, you've got that golden touch-- choose carefully who you annoint.

Mos Def has been steadily acquiring acting chops since at least "Bamboozled", and was almost universally-praised for his roles until his recent stumble with "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Does Mos have what it takes to be a leading man?

Colin Salmon is one of Britain's most awesome actors, but he's a fairly obscure choice for most American audiences. Or is he? Side note: The roomie has been trying to get me to watch the British series "Hex" that he got from the torrents. I tried watching the first episode of the second season, but I couldn't get past lead Christina Cole's nostrils.

Of these men, Taye Diggs has probably had the fewest opportunities to showcase his acting skills, but he's mostly done a good job in the stuff he's been in. Upcoming, he's got Rent, which, since I've seen twice- once on Broadway, once off- I'm kinda lukewarm about paying $10 to see as a movie. He's also got "Cake", which will suck because The Original Boobs McPhee is in it. So does Taye have the acting cojones to be the next Denzel?

The Bad Guy: Vs. Vs. Vs.
This is the a-hole jerk ex-boyfriend of the female lead. He's a cocky, oily, sumbitch businessman who's both annoying and charming.

Peter Sarsgaard, the young prince of indie cinema hasn't ever done a bad job, that I've seen. He's chameleonic [see his characters from Garden State and Kinsey] and he's due for some major recognition. His tendency to blend does limit his appeal, but remember this is a supporting role so he could blend to shine. Or something. I dunno, but he won't screw up the movie, that's for sure.

Daniel Craig, now that he's got Bond, according the law of the celebrity clusterf*ck, he should get a bunch of other roles, too. But he's on here because he was a perfect evil a-hole in "Road to Perdition" and now he's got the starpower to get a role in an Oscar contender- right?

Mark Wahlberg has a ton of projects on the docket, but I don't see why he can't handle one more, considering it might make him forget to produce Entourage, which I think could only help the show. And he's been after those slightly crazy bad guy roles ever since he got taken over by his evil beard in "Four Brothers".

And though he has the least cachet, Wentworth Miller has gained at least a bit of star traction. Is it enough to back up two dynamos? And does he have the acting chops or is "Prison Break" just his flash in the pan? I guess it's up to you.

Now, those are the three main parts, although the default "Best Supporting Actress" role would fall to the female lead's older sister. So feel free to cast a sister for the female lead if you want, too. Give a shout-out to someone who can act and needs the work. Comment lines are standing by. . .

Tune in later

Tune in later today for a new edition of the "You Make the Call" Game. Until then, I must get me to a nunnery. Or work. Whichever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Jennifer Love Hewitt's Boobs Are Old: 3.39

For a title, I almost went with: "Old People Like Love Hewitt's Rack". Anyway, Jennifer Love Hewitt's new show that no one really cares about except CBS has debuted to decent ratings, to the delight of Les Moonves. Moonves dumped "Joan of Arcadia" when its demographic skewed toward the Depends set and replaced it with Jennifer Love Hewitt talking to ghosts.

But back to her old, old boobies. Seriously, they're testing ancient. Apparently, confused CBS geriatrics, perhaps expecting to find perky Amber Tamblyn talking to God, are tuning in to and her ghost-detecting rack in astonishing numbers. Entertainment Weekly posted the average age of "The Ghost Whisperer" viewers and surprise, it's 88. Just kidding, it's actually 53. Which in demographic terms, is ancient.
J.L. Hewitt & the ladies.

So the median age is 53: that means for every viewer who is actually Hewitt's age [26 if you believe IMDB], there's one who is 80. Yes, that's right. Eighty years old. If Ghost Whisperer has a 13-year-old fan, it must then have one who's 93. God skews older than ghosts, huh Les?

Right now, Ghost Whisperer debuted to about the same good numbers that Joan did: roughly 10 million viewers, which is good for Friday. Joan slipped to about 8-8.5, if memory serves, by the end of the second season. Ghost Whisperer is trending down towards that a lot faster than Joan did, which held up pretty well until the middle of its second season. [which was also when the network started monkeying around with it in an effort to skew it younger] Anyway, at first appeared vindicated with his replacement decision, but is slowly starting to eat some crow as the show sinks lower and trends older.

So basically Moonves ended up canceling an Emmy-nominated show with decent ratings for one with about the same ratings and no chance in hell to get a nod, even a Golden Globe nod. Oopsies. Oh well, I'm sure "How I Met Your Mother" will get a couple, right? Right? Oh. Not even for Alyson Hannigan? No? It's that bad, huh? Oh. Well then.

The twin poles of Jennifer Love Hewitt: precocious school girls and old ladies on crack.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Note to Bob Iger: Chillax, Man: 3.38

I recently met an assistant in the upper echelons of the management structure at the megacorporation known as ABC-. This assistant gave me some insight into how things operate at the Mouse House, both pre- and post-Eisner. This young man, who was introduced to me via Famke, had some gossip about how new CEO and dearly-departed [though still alive] CEO Michael Eisner function, or did function, at Disney. Now keep in mind that all this stuff is supposed to be hush-hush and such-- this info was essentially* tricked out of my unwitting source.

*I found out what this kid did and then I got him hammered so he'd talk. How you like my journalistic integrity now, biyatches?

Look how cartoonish* looks!

*Hmm, which cartoon. . . Towlie from South Park? Old Popsicle Dude from Family Guy?
I'll get right to the good stuff:

The most surprising thing I heard was that both men weren't monsters. I'd kind of expected Bob Iger to be a decent human being, but I must admit that I'd hoped for more from Michael Eisner. Where's the coldly cruel temper? The bursts of inhuman rage? Alas, there were no lashings with extreme prejudice or Trump-style grillings of any kind that he'd noticed.

Generally, my man on the inside has faith in new Disney topper Bob Iger. [say the last part of that sentence out loud-- it's fun!] His background may be more workhorse than showman, but the drunken Diz Assizter thought Iger had the makings of a good Chief E.O. Of course, I sensed a 'but' in there, and pressed on with a shot of fine blue agave tequila paired with a salty lick and a slice of lime.

After picking pieces of lime from his teeth, my unwitting source revealed that he was a bit concerned about Iger. See, running a global media conglomerate requires a certain je ne sais quoi. Frankly, the assistant couldn't exactly put his finger on the 'quoi', but he was able to specify that it meant hugging cartoon animals. When needed, Eisner could throw himself into the job with the enthusiasm of a sugared-up six-year-old, dispensing carefully-orchestrated hugs to legions of Mickeys. The insider was worried about Iger's ability to loosen up and display a similarly fuzzy veneer. After all, entertainment companies have, what, at least 10-20% of their wealth at any one time pegged to the ability of their leader to put on a carefully-calibrated dog-and-pony show. Right now, Iger's handlers are glowing at having him just masterminded simple conversations with Mickey, let alone heavy petting.

And speaking of hugging animals. . .

The new Hong Kong Disneyland isn't as successful as Disney hoped it would be. So far, guest attendance seems to be running around 30-35K per day. They'll need almost 50K to turn the tidy profit they were projecting. That said, it's a beautiful, stunning location, prettier than any of the other parks by a longshot, prompting lengthy drunken elocution by my guy on the inside. One thing of special note that he seemed pissed about was the "undeserved" [his words] flack Disney got for euthanizing a bunch of stray dogs. Of course, The Doris Day Animal League seems to see it a bit differently. (that's the third item down: "Yowls to the Walt Disney Company")

You tell 'em, Doris.

But here's the assistant's view on what should change, and maybe is changing, at the top of Disney. Now he was pretty wasted at this point*, so you'll excuse me if I don't quote him exactly.
*Disney people like their liquor.

To wit, Iger needs to chillax. By chillaxing, he just needs to learn to be himself being the CEO of the friggin' DizneyHizzey. He's got the top job and he's got huge, clown-sized shoes to fill. But Eisner could do it, so Iger's gonna have to. Wake up to the realities of the job, Bob, you're a high-visibility figure now and unless you act like it, the shareholders are gonna toss your highly-pedigreed a$$ to the curb.

Oh, and don't kill puppies. . . unless you're gonna go all the way and strew their shredded corpses all over the grave of Bambi's mother. And Iger just doesn't seem to be the corpse-strewing type. Not that there's anything wrong with that. After all, Disney's first leader, despite his creativity and cultural impact, could be fairly called a bigoted, paranoid quasi-psychopath. Even Eisner was usually a step above that. So relax, Bob, and settle in. You're going to be running Disney Global Empire for a little while. Settle into your big chair, steeple your fingers, cackle at the night, and have a ball man. F8ck 'em.

You should see him without the tie.

I Hate Long Commutes

....because they mean I couldn't get this morning's post done in time to make it to work. So I'll just have to finish it when I'm done with this most gloomy Monday. Here's a hint: it's about the big guns at the Mouse House.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Shark-Jump Watch, Fall 2005: 3.37

In a new seasonal event, I present the Shark-Jump Watch for the fall television season of 2005.

What can we say about a television show that has jumped the shark?

We can pine for the lost days or we can mock the current state of the show. Guess which one I'm going for?

Television Without Pity has resorted to calling Rachel Nichols "Boobs McPhee" in her latest efforts on Alias. It is the leader among the jumped-the-shark shows. But let's race through TV Land, shall we, gentle blog viewers? A quick tour of the shark tank.

Yes, I'm Boobs McPhee.
And now, Shark-Jump Watch:

Yes, jumped the shark:
ALIAS- My problems began this season on Alias with the very first episode and I've been mostly disappointed since then. What events prompted this? Surprisingly, not the unnecessary killing off of Vaughn, but the fact that Boobs McPhee was able to outhack Marshall. In the world of Alias, Marshall is the undisputed tech king. Bad Alias writers, bad.

Not yet, but maybe this season:
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES- Despite apparent critical pans [which I say are still unsubstantied, especially if you actually look at the ratings] I'm still on the fence on the season so far.

Not yet, probably won't jump this season:
LOST- It pushes credibility to the brink and yet I keep watching. Why? Because it makes my pulse race, even in 'calmer' episodes like this week's Sun/Jin-centric episode.
SURVIVOR- If Jeff Probst leaves after this season, Survivor will jump. As it is, I kinda like this intensity-in-ten-cities version. But it's on its last legs, that's for sure.

Not this season:
VERONICA MARS- What's harder than making an amazing first season? Making a second that's even better. Yet Veronica Mars is on track to do just that. And is it just me or has Veronica gotten sassier this season? Me likee.
NIP/TUCK- Holy God this show is good. 'nuf said.

And the 'put it out its misery already' award goes to:
SMALLVILLE & CHARMED[tie]- Both WB shows started with promise [Clark Kent in high school, Shannon Doherty as a witch] but never quite coalesced. Especially Charmed. Man that show sucks. Except for Alyssa Milano. I could watch her grate cheese for an hour.

So that's my quick jaunt through TV Land. Feel free to comment and add other shows to each category, as I didn't really have the time to touch on every show. And I am curious to know what other viewers out there are thinking.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Can Someone Please Fire Jeff Zucker Already?: 3.36

Let's say you have a nice life and get paid millions of dollars to be the president of a television network. All you have to decide, basically, is what shows go where. Yeah, sure, it's harder than it sounds, but let's not forget the millions of dollars in pay part. Plus really great dental.

Let's say, during your tenure as president of, oh, I dunno, NBC/Universal TV Group, your flagship channel's viewership plunged. Like, say, 60% in the prime 18-49 demographic in the three years you've run the entertainment division.

So let's say you're . Don't you think you should be fired?

Whaddaya say, Jeff? Would you fire you?
Then I'd wear an open-collared shirt to work.

Zucker's relentless cost-cutting has kept from sinking too far, but, surprise! It's also the reason nobody watches NBC and why NBC's cable allies have seen development and promotional funds slashed. By focusing resources on building shows with strong concepts, strong characters and real potential to be sustainable megahits, ABC seems to have secured its near-future. Ironically, ABC is resurgent thanks to the strategy that made NBC rule the ratings during its heyday-- strong scripted series with interesting and sympathetic characters. Now trying to play catch-up, Zucker's throwing money at the problem- or in this case, into Aaron Sorkin's crack pipe.

NBC's young shows are weak, the old ones are fading fast and continues to stink to high heaven.

Continuing with the biblical imagery, a stroll through NBC's lineup is like a walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Behold, the desiccated viscera of "Will & Grace". Look there, coughing and dying, it's "E-Ring"! Are those buzzards circling "The Apprentice"? How many lambs must die to keep "ER" in the top 20 of the Nielsens?

Okay, so NBC ain't doing so hot-- why can't Zucker be the one to turn it around?

Zucker can't lead the net back to success because his pride and blame-shifting have cut short his supply of allies [Katie Couric, most of the good tv execs] and his marginal hit-making talent [compared to say, ] can't make up for it. Besides, Moonves has earned his grizzled respect, while Zucker's hit parade is fast running out of balloons and colorful streamers. His biggest achievement- turning The Today Show into a morning ratings juggernaut- was what made his reputation and allowed him to work his way up at NBC. But since taking the reigns of NBC, Zucker has failed to produce anything that could even remotely be termed a 'ratings juggernaut'.

It's time that Zucker, for perhaps the first time in his life, took some responsibility for his mistakes. But since that won't happen, he needs to be fired. He's alienated Ho'wood and a good chunk of his senior execs [not to mention the assistants], sent ratings into the crapper, and micromanaged his company to the point where no one feels any semblance of independence. Please, for the love of God and all that is holy, someone fire Jeff Zucker*.
*For the record, the person that can fire Jeff Zucker is , CEO of General Electric and [hopefully] ruthless corporate overlord. Oh, and Mr. Immelt, if you're looking for a replacement, NBC prexy Kevin Reilly developed shows that people actually watch during his tenure with F/X.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Fog Swallows Orlando Bloom: 3.35

While the film biz continues to suffer from lower returns than in years past, opening the #1 movie in the country-- bar none-- is still a tough feat. After all, just this weekend, we've discovered that putting Orlando Bloom in your movie or having Kirsten Dunst as the co-star isn't enough to guarantee the #1 spot.

So that's why I'd like to extend my hearty congrats to The Fog's Associate Producer Shane Riches. Congratulations, Shane Riches, you've just opened your first successful movie as a producer! Obviously, the opening was a direct result of Shane's making a guest appearance on my blog Friday. Click here if you're too lazy to scroll down.

So "The Fog" is now officially a hit. Why do we know this after just one weekend? Let's crunch some numbers, shall we?

Box Office Mojo sez "The Fog" opened at $12.2 million. This puts it on track to make, what, $30 million domestic? And it should have a profitable DVD afterlife thanks to its attractive, popular, cool-kid cast.

IMDB Pro puts the budget of "The Fog" at $18 million. So we're talking at least $10 mil in profits, plus a long stream of residual value from DVDs and television licensing.

Just for comparison's sake, let's run the numbers on runner-up Elizabethtown with the well-featured Orlando Bloom and the ubiquitous Kirsten Dunst.

Box Office Mojo sez "Elizabethtown" opened with $11 million, but had a budget of $45 mil. While this might not equal a colossal flop, let's just say it looks like Cameron Crowe won't be installing a fountain in his infinity pool anytime soon.

So kids, Hollywood dreams do come true.

With my help, Shane beat Orlando Bloom's eyes, Kirsten Dunst's dimples and Cameron Crowe's precocious charm to land at #1.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Shane Riches, Savor the Hope: 3.34

Today's post was written by Shane Riches, who you might remember as Executive of the Week #2. I asked Shane to pen me a little piece to try and give you assistants out there some hope. Because as Shane demonstrates, it is not impossible to make the voyage from assistant to producer.

So enjoy this nugget of hope written by Shane Riches:

Why do we do it?

Rolling calls… Scheduling meetings… Filling out
FedEx slips… Filing… Drafting coverage…

It’s easy to complain: Long hours, thanklessness,
terrible pay.

If we’re lucky, we get invited to a creative meeting
by the producer. Perhaps we get to know a favorite
writer or director. Or, maybe, just maybe, we get to
pitch a project to a studio.

Maggie Grace & Tom Welling are in Shane's movie.

Ahhhh, the life of an assistant or lower-level
creative exec in the movie business.

So again, why do we do it?

Because it can work.

It’s time to spread a little optimism and let readers
know that all that hard work can actually payoff.
I’ve been in the trenches with you. Hell, not only
was I an assistant/creative exec for a couple of years
-- I was unpaid to boot. Two-and-a-half years is a
long time to go without making a dime.

[ed. note-When asked how he made it for so long without earning any money, Shane gave credit to his strong, loving marriage and thanked his wife profusely for her support. I mean, geez, even the guy's love life is an uplifting story.]

But now, that struggle is over. I’ve got my first
movie coming out as an associate producer: THE FOG.
SHAMELESS PLUG: Go see on October 14.

Plus, I’m closing a deal on another project listing me
as full producer.

So, that’s why I did it -- toiling in administrative
duties and for years while also developing projects. For me, it
worked. It can for you, too. Obviously, there are no
guarantees, but if you have the right idea at the
right time, you can get a movie made.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Whisper Price Game: En Espanol

Today's game features some of your favorite bilingual crossover stars from the world of Spanish-language movies. Well, and Freddie Prinze, Jr. The idea is to guess how much the assistants inform you you'll have to bid for their services. So how much are these amigos* of mine worth?

*Amigo offer not valid on Freddie Prinze Jr.

Spanish siren Penelope Cruz, at just 31 years old [if you believe IMDB] has a long filmography with some interesting, notable roles. She still switches between Ho'wood and Spanish films regularly, and may be forgiven if she's been tending toward the higher-paying American ones as of late. After all, she should get that money flow going before she enters the land of the lost, aka- being a fortysomething actress.

Freddie Prinze, Jr. Yeah, I didn't know he was Hispanic, either. Despite being married to Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie's career makes it look like he's about to become the Nick Lachey of the relationship. Doesn't a string a hit teen movies assure you a solid career at least through your 20's and maybe 30's? Let's ask Molly Ringwald.

Mia Maestro came to my attention playing Jennifer Garner's long-lost sister on "Alias", but she also had a solid performance in "The Motorcycle Diaries" alongside Gael Garcia Bernal. Plus, she gets further indie cred thanks Venezuela's leader, who denied her film "Secuestro Express" a shot at a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, despite its being a critical and commercial success. Instead, Hugo Chavez picked the mediocre, but more politically-palatable "1888". If Mia can helm a successful Spanish-language film and hold her own against America's [former] Sweetheart, that's gotta earn her some dinero, right?

Gael Garcia Bernal & Diego Luna. This duo of long-time friends and now, rising stars, has formed a production company in Mexico City. Both have a long history of working in Spanish-language movies [my faves are Bernal's "Amores Perros" and Luna's performance in "Todo el Poder" or their duopoly in "Y Tu Mama Tambien"] and both have won almost universal critical plaudits. I would like to note that I saw Luna's "Vampires: Los Muertos" in Italy [long story] and it's really, really funny dubbed in Italian and also features Jon Bon Jovi and Eddie Winslow from "Family Matters".

There you have it. I left J. Lo and Catherine Zeta-Jones off the list, but if you feel the need comment and/or bid on them. Offers accepted in dollars or euros or pesos.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

In Defense of Sienna Miller: 3.33

The ravishing beauty that is has taken a lot of unjust slings and arrows in the press. Sienna is on my list of top 5 blondes I wish I could do, in between Kelly Carlson of Nip/Tuck and Anna Faris. . . mmm, in between Kelly Carlson and Anna Faris. . .uh, what? Oh yeah, Sienna Miller.

Okay, so she boned Daniel Craig? First off, at least she had the decency to cheat on Jude with someone famous, instead of the nanny. If there's one thing we've learned from Brangelina it's that celebrity couple homewreckers are only okay when celebrities are the only ones who are hurt. If you hurt regular people, you hurt your case in the court of public opinion. Jude violated that law in the worst way, boinking the woman who was paid to take care of his kids. Sienna's alleged tryst with Craig did no such thing.

Sienna - 1, Jude - 0

Was there a convincing reason spun by the publicists for Jude's affair? No. With Sienna, it's the well-worn, but in this case quite plausible, "crying on someone's shoulder" excuse.

Sienna - 2, Jude - 0

Jude has a small wee-wee and everyone on the planet knows it.

Sienna - 3, Jude - 0

If Sienna did have an affair while in that weird, just-found-out-you're-boinking-the-nanny phase, well, that part of the relationship is not bound by the same codes, rules and traditions that have supposedly guided the relationship to that point. So you can't get mad, Jude, you douche bag.

Sienna - 4, Jude - 0

Guess who wins in the court of public opinion? By a score of 4 to nuthin', it's Sienna.

Lovely, lovely Sienna.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Slapping On the Back-End...of TV: 3.32

My how the days seem to fly by. We're maybe three weeks in to Season Premiere Season and already the nets and netlets are slapping the back end. And by that I mean they are ordering the final nine episodes to the 13 they've already made to complete a 22-episode run.

Let's take a look at the winners first. Since they deserve it:

"My Name Is Earl" - NBC gets a half-hour comedy hit, which would be nice if its most other buzzed-about comedy wasn't the much-maligned "Joey". Frankly, the early pickup just makes them look more desperate. But hey, Jason Lee. I'm now voting him as likeliest to succeed in conquering low-budget comedies and catapulting into the ranks of such recent luminaries as Steve Carrell and Will Ferrell.

"Everybody Hates Chris" - Between this and Veronica Mars, is there no longer shame associated with watching UPN? Are we growing up, little weblet? UPN also needs to thank the increasingly-unracist 'people meter' systems being employed for a nice ratings uptick in some urban areas.

"Supernatural"- Okay fine, WB. So Supernatural didn't go down in flames like I expected-- it still might in the course of the season. Since I apparently have no control over how much slack the masses are willing to cut Jensen Ackles, how about pairing it next year with a strong sci-fi companion and building a cool little night out of it? Pair it with, say, Global Frequency?

"Prison Break"- Not quite the ratings suckfest I predicted, so hit-hungry Fox is acting fast.

"Rome"- Yeah, it's not on a network, but I am happy it's assured of a second season. Seriously, you guys, it's like Melrose Place set in ancient Rome-- and since it's on HBO they can show everything. Worth watching and highly recommended.

Getting the ax:
Fox's "Head Cases", WB's "Just Legal" [called it], UPN's "Sex, Love and Secrets" [called it], Fox's "Kitchen Confidential" [hey, it's Will Tippin from Alias. . .tough luck, buddy], and NBC's "Inconceivable". Unannounced but likely to be axed are Fox's "Killer Instinct" and hopefully NBC's atrocious "E-Ring" which I tried to be fair to, but ten minutes in I decided that I would rather eat nails than watch another second.

Looking Likely to Get Slapped for the Back Nine:
David Boreanaz may live down "Angel" with Seeley Booth on Fox's "Bones". Geena Davis will probably get a full season as the President of ABC, er, the United States. Alyson Hannigan looks like she'll be unavailable for a story arc on this season of "Veronica Mars" thanks to the success of "How I Met Your Mother". And "Veronica Mars" fans, don't worry, UPN is set on a full season of the drama and numbers thus far have been reasonably okay. Also- does anyone know if Charisma Carpenter will be wearing fewer clothes than Eva Longoria for the entire season? Because seriously, so far, she's taken off more clothes than she's worn. And let it be known that this is not a criticism in any way. Also, Wallace is easily becoming the best sidekick since at least Willow, and perhaps since Garth.

Jennifer Love Hewitt's jugs have been getting the ratings, but will they hold up "Ghost Whisperer"? Hey, "Stacked" got another season. "Invasion" has been slipping in the post-Lost timeslot after a promising start-- Eddie Cibrian might not be the next Matthew Fox. Whatever the Lost knockoff on NBC is, that one's fading, too, but it could get the back nine from seriously-shouldn't-they-be-more-desperate NBC. "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart", sure, it's down in the ratings cellar, but I guarantee it is one contestant slashing another with a paring knife away from ratings gold. Note to Martha: Use those prison connections, girl.

Calm down, friends, calm down. No, that's what it means. Things are calming down, as they usually do, after an innovative, wrenching year, which has started happening about every other year. Last year it was the resurgence of series tv, led by ABC's crop of new hits. A few years before, it was the total destruction of all series television as reality shows hit their over-saturation point. Before that, it was the start of the reality tv craze with "Survivor". And remember the primetime game show craze? TV is highly cyclical, governed by the patterns of the weather and the Nielsens. For now, just enjoy the good and look forward to whatever the next big thing is. Me, I'm just hoping it's not a gameshow resurgence. Regis doesn't need the work.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Alba's Popularity Revealed!: 3.31

Details after the sexy picture.

I, Assistant/Atlas, have discovered the true secret of Jessica Alba's popularity. It's pretty amazing, but it explains everything about so perfectly. Really, it's uncanny no one's reported on it before now. I imagine it's tough for some to comprehend, perhaps, to maybe even notice what's she doing to them. Why I am I different? Well, assistant superpowers aside, I did see her from kinda afar, so that's probably why her powers did overwhelm me as they might some others.

After all, it's Jessica Alba. She's arresting. Another picture? Okay. . .

Invisibility is not your superpower, Jessica Alba.

Are you ready for it? You really want to know why Jessica Alba is having the career she's having?

Jessica Alba's rise to fame is no accident, aside from the sweet Flying Spaghetti Monster that formed her into such a beautiful shape. No, FSM has nothing to do with Jessica Alba's fame, unless He's into giving hot chicks more superpowers. Which I could see, I guess. I know it's going to sound strange, believe me, I know it will be hard to comprehend, but Jessica Alba has the power to manipulate time. It's true. Anyone who comes within range of her will inevitably suffer what I am dubbing "The Jessica Alba Effect".

"The Jessica Alba Effect" struck me a few days ago [I've only now processed it] when I was just minding my own business, stopping fully at a stop sign on the roads south of Melrose near La Brea. As I patiently waited for the other car to enter the intersection, my attention was drawn to the driver of the car.

She had the slightest of grin as she held a Post-It to the corner of her mouth, just teasing it really, in a gesture that nearly hid her face and made me turn to Famke, and oh, oh sh*t, Famke was there. Um, that's why I was able to ward of The Jessica Alba Effect. I totally forgot about that-- her. Yeah, I turned to her, and I was all:

ATLAS: Is that Jessica Alba?
FAMKE: Yeah, with a Post-It in her mouth.

My eyes flash to her car. Getting Seussical, I wonder would a star drive this car? Yes, by gar, a star would drive this car. White, a sedan, luxury, immaculate, and it moved in slow motion in front of me. I was dazzled. Though her passenger window was definitely up, her tousled hair fluttered in a perfect rhythm and she looked to me as if I might be on to her, as if I were keen to ravage her with my gaze.

Oh, I'm on to you, Jessica Alba, I'm on to you like honey butter. Slathered all over your perfect form.

You can slow down time, Jessica Alba! You've torn the space-time continuum for your own starlet ends and I beg you, stop. Stop before we're all forced into a universe where 'Into the Blue' is critically-acclaimed and that, plus you in a bikini, does $80 mil on opening weekend. You're messing with power you don't understand, Jessica Alba, with your time alterations. Five minutes alone with a casting director is an hour of superpower in which he/she will be helpless before you. It explains your career and the part of your appeal that your hotness doesn't.

Shame on you, Jessica Alba, for not using your superpowers for more good.

And to finish off my oogling for the day. . .

I drove by Amy Smart jogging along Mulholland near Runyon Canyon. She had on sweats and everything, and looked pretty into it, like a serious runner and not some 'starlet out for a jog'. Some I'm gonna give her some props despite, and because of, her sweat. I've decided sweat on girls is okay and doesn't make me not think they're hot, but it might temporarily make me not want to hump them so much.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You Make the Call Game: The Horror, the Horror

For the past several months, whenever a lit agent's assistant called a development person in Ho'wood and asked what kind of scripts they wanted, the answer usually went something like: "We're interested in high-concept, character-driven pieces. . .oh, and horror."

And God help the lit assistant without a solid horror script. You might as well have been humping a dead cow for all the good those other kinds of scripts will do you. Even as I typed that, I got a nasty mental picture. Sorry. But it's true-- many development folks are stuck in the low-cost, high-profit horror genre, and they're only beginning to break out of it.

So today's You Make the Call Game involves one of those horror scripts that did get picked up. And, with all due respect to those involved [and I do love you, guys], it's a giant pile of crap. However, as we Ho'wooders know, crap can make money if the conditions are right. The script itself is a pretty standard affair-- masked baddie pursues good guys, killing them off until the dramatic final stand with the heroine. Of course, they're trying to make it more women-centric [men dominate horror auds] by showing some male skin and having a strong lead actress. So which actress is up to par and which is up to being snuffed out viciously? Plus, you get cast your vote for your favorite pretty boy in this week's You Make the Call Game.

The Heroine
Mischa Barton Vs. Eliza Dushku Vs. Maggie Grace Vs. Devon Aoki
Why are most of these budding starlets from TV? Because TV actresses are cheaper and, theoretically, have built-in fanbases. I won't go into a detailed history on these ladies, as most are now household, or at least, industrywide-recognized, names. If you want a bio, click their name for the relevant IMDB page.

The 'Best Friend' Who Gets Gruesomely Murdered
Paris Hilton Vs. Tara Reid Vs. Jenny McCarthy
For this role, the big question is: who do you want to see killed in a horrible fashion? Killing Paris didn't seem to help "House of Wax" all that much, but maybe it wasn't gruesome enough. I mean, "See Paris Die" [one of Wax's taglines] won't get me to buy a ticket, but "See Paris Be Tortured and Burned Alive Like the Witch She Is" might. Personally, I think Tara Reid could use both the work and the final nail in her career coffin, but that's just me. There's also Jenny McCarthy, who's currently trying to trick us into thinking she's more than a nice rack with "Dirty Love". It won't work.

The Lover Boy
Wilmer Valderrama Vs. Jesse Metcalfe Vs. Eddie Cibrian
According to my sources, "We just need someone who looks good without a lot of clothing for this role." So, essentially, the question for this role is: of these guys, who would you most like to see naked?

So remember, folks, even crappy horror movies need actors. Who would you call for these roles?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Trendspotting: Traffic Calming Programs: 3.30

Hey, Antonio, can we do something about this?

It is a given fact that in LA is a waking nightmare. Necessity being the mother of invention, Angelenos have invented a number of great ways to manage traffic: carpool lanes, on-ramp signals, traffic information systems, etc. But this yen for traffic improvements has also spawned some rather loathsome accoutrements. For example. . .

The other day, I was complaining to Famke about what a crappy job they did on the recent Outpost Drive repairs, which lasted for approximately seventy-four years.
Click for Map of [2762-2799] Outpost Dr Los Angeles, CA 90068, US

ATLAS: Ugh. This road is, like, worse than when they started working on it.
FAMKE: Well, that was the plan.
ATLAS: What do you mean?
FAMKE: I know a guy who was an engineer on the project and basically, they were just repairing water pipes and a few really rough sections. The people in the neighborhood didn't want them to smooth it out, cuz the bumps slow down cars.
ATLAS: Seriously?
FAMKE: Seriously.
ATLAS: So instead of bumps*, they have potholes as their traffic calming program?

*bumps are used to slow down traffic on busy residential streets-- and every once in awhile, they're called 'humps', which still makes me giggle when I drive over them.

Really, it doesn't matter if Famke's story is true or not. The crazy part is that it might be. That road crews might've intentionally left a street in such poor repair that cars would be forced to slow down while driving on it shows that 'traffic calming' is out of control.

It's a problem in my neighborhood [Venice], too. Take the streets behind the Costco on Washington Blvd. just east of Lincoln. They've reconstructed the streets there so that it is impossible to get back into the middle of that neighborhood without going down to Lincoln or up Washington quite a ways. Supposedly, it's to 'calm'/shield these backstreets from the traffic generated by Costco. But people don't go through those neighborhoods unless they live there since the larger streets like Lincoln are usually faster if they're going any sort of distance, anyway. So the only thing this 'traffic calming' program really does is make it a pain in the a$$ to get to and from Costco for nearby residents.

I understand that most neighborhoods usually have input on the types of calming programs that are installed, but local neighborhoods have an important bias-- they just want to avoid as much traffic on their streets as possible. But in taking such a narrow view, they may be distorting traffic patterns on a citywide scale. Bastards.

The point is, traffic controls aren't all good. Usually, they're a nice investment, paying for themselves in saving productivity and preventing grief. But there's only so much these programs can do-- and over-doing them is worse than not doing them at all.

It's time to get smart about traffic. It's time to build more mass transit.

Monday, October 03, 2005

180 Post Clip Show Celebration!

One hundred eighty posts: that's enough for a clip show, right? I mean, Simpsons did a clip show not long after 100 episodes, so I figure, if anything, I'm overdue. So readers, I know many of you are just arriving, especially thanks to recent linkage from Alex at Complications Ensue and John at Kung Fu Monkey.

Here's your chance to take a stroll down the memory lane of Assistant/Atlas.

So here are my greatest hits, from the beginning:

The first post I ever did.

The first-ever Executive of the Week

Characters of My Blogworld, a rundown of the characters in the blog-- at least for the first two seasons.

The Most Popular Executive of the Week. . . ever.

The Post That Made You Love to Hate Sloane

The Poop on Ryan Seacrest's Star Contest! Aka-- I become mildly famous for five seconds.
Thanks, Ry.
The Unbearable Sucktitude of UTA (UTA=United Talent Agency)

The KROQ interview and the Kathy Griffin meet-and-greet.

Celebrity Justice, or as I like to call it, C.J.

The first Whisper Price Game

The Office Plots Thicken

The Season One Obligatory Cliffhanger

Season Two Opener and Superpowers!

The Asstastic Exec of the Week. I guess it wasn't a surprise that it was .

I Write to HBO's Entourage and then they Actually Get Better.

Famke gets an intro while I face a dilemma.

The Roomie Takes Over while I take a vacation.

The Gay Celebrity Guide. Just in case David Geffen invites you for cocktails.

Confessions of a Disloyal Assistant

How Blogging Saved My Career aka- Sloane fires my a$$.

Testimonials From Various People About How They Love Me and My Blog

The Worst Kind of Wasted

Second Season Finale

Desperate Housewives Vs. My Budding Alcoholism

Atlas, Comic Book Hero

The "You Make the Call Game"

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, an ode and smackdown to my homeland.

Shut Your Eyes, It's Hollywood Momentum.

And finally, my new Mission Statement

So there you have 'em-- my greatest posts thus far. Comment on your favorites, bemoan the lack of your personal favorite post on this list, and be sure check our yourselves in the comments sections-- provided you're not a lurker. And, above all, enjoy.