The 'True Blood' victim and 'Party Down' server talks unexpected on-set crackups
You may not know this yet, but Lizzy Caplan is kind of a big deal. In several months, after her starring turn in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours," she'll be the sort of red-carpet commodity that has suddenly usurped yesterday's film-mag cover girls and infiltrated Perez Hilton's BFFs list.
Although today, the 27-year-old actress is merely exhausted. Between the grueling hours she endures filming "Hours" with James Franco (whom she says "does not have it easy on this movie") and doing the PR rounds for her returning role as upcoming comedienne Casey Klein on Starz' craft-service satire "Party Down" (new episodes premiere April 23 at 10 p.m.), it's not surprising that she could use a bit of catering to.
But alas, the former "True Blood" (she was Jason's hallucinogenic-crazed, strangulated girlfriend in Season 1) and "Cloverfield" star perks up when the topic turns to some of the wittier, weirder or just downright pleasant colleagues she's worked with on some of her least topically humorous TV shows and films. And, of course, who was the coolest among the impossibly awesome cast and crew of "Freaks and Geeks," on which Caplan had what she recalls as a "harrowing" four-episode arc, her first major Hollywood part.
DWIGHT YOAKAM (CO-STAR, "THE LAST RITES OF RANSOM PRIDE"; 2009)
"He cracked me up a lot. Everything that guy said made me laugh really really hard. He played a character who was coming to kill me the whole movie, and we would stay in character and he would turn it into this weird pervert killer guy."
"TRUE BLOOD" CAST AND CREW (2008)
"Most people on that show are hilarious. Michael Raymond James made me laugh a lot. The guy [Rene Lenier] who killed me. That was funny. It was funny until it happened, and then I was jobless. I was not anticipating the job would be so fun. It was awesome, and ended up being kind of hard to walk away from."
DANNY BOYLE (DIRECTOR, "127 HOURS"; 2010)
"I didn't expect him to be as warm and kind and amazing as he was. I know that he's ridiculously talented, so for some reason I pictured him to be this stoic, serious guy, and this is not the case. He is one of the friendliest, nicest guys ever. It's a very dramatic movie, and everybody on that set was whistling while they worked."
T.J. MILLER (CO-STAR, "CLOVERFIELD"; 2008)
"T.J. and I became very close on that movie. He played the cameraman [Hud Platt], and he's a standup comic so he's a funny dude. The hours on that were ridiculous, and that was another one of those jobs that was fun every single day, even on no sleep covered in grime and doing 60-plus takes."
PAUL FEIG (DIRECTOR, "FREAKS AND GEEKS"; 1999)
"He is a very sweet, smart, funny man. It's one thing to get tortured in high school, and it's another thing to see the comedy in that and then create what is quite possibly one of the most brilliant shows ever. And when I say that, I take zero credit, because it was my first job and I was so scared the whole time. But I am so happy that it happened, because it's the coolest calling card that you could possibly have."
Double elimination takes out California native Andrew Garcia and teenager Katie Stevens
At least for this week, two is the loneliest number. Garnering the fewest of the over 34 million votes cast, Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens were the latest to be eliminated from "American Idol" Wednesday night. The atypical double elimination came as a result of the judges' decision last week to use their Save on Michael Lynche. Because of this, neither Andrew nor Katie were given the chance to sing their way back into the contest.
Andrew Garcia's elimination was the first to be announced. And it was not unexpected. The 24-year-old California native had initially impressed the judges during Hollywood Week with his inventive acoustic reimagining of Paula Abdul's "Straight Up." But after that, he was never able to match that showing, as he served up one disappointment after another. His most recent offering, a half-hearted rendition of "Hound Dog" Tuesday night, was among his worst. The uninspired version, oddly tinged with bossa nova-like rhythms, had Randy branding Andrew's effort "not good karaoke" and Simon declaring it "lazy and forgettable."
Katie Stevens herself had been no stranger to difficulty, having landed in the bottom three twice this season. She also struggled with conflicting feedback from the judges, with Simon and Kara having differing ideas about what musical style the teenager should pursue. Nevertheless, the 17-year-old Connecticut native had seemed to find her groove with a self-assured "Let It Be" just last week. Tuesday night, Katie offered up a fun, though decidedly less impressive, performance of "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" in what was largely perceived as a direct strike at the judges and their often confusing messages. While Randy lauded her "sassy" and "entertaining" stagecraft, the number did not sit well with Simon, who found it "loud" and "annoying."
And so, the competition tightens considerably. With Alicia Keys slotted to serve as guest mentor, there's much to look forward to next Tuesday. The theme? Inspirational songs. In the meantime, here's a breakdown of the remaining contestants:
- A cut above: Janis Joplin-slash-Melissa Etheridge sound-alike Crystal Bowersox just keeps chugging along. And nothing, short of a disastrous turn on stage, can derail this Ohioan's eventual march to this season's finale. No contestant has been as consistently good. And certainly, no other singer in the contest has received as much positive feedback from the judges as this guitar-totin' single mother. Frankly, Simon and company have treated Crystal with kid gloves. It's clear that she's the producers' favorite to make it to the finals. And unless someone seriously steps up to shake her off her perch, she'll remain the heavy favorite in the coming weeks. In the meantime, keep your eye on Lee Dewyze, who's slowly, but surely made up some ground. No stranger to guitar-infused rock himself, this 24-year-old Illinois native has made good use of his raspy, gusty vocals. His version of "A Little Less Conversation" Tuesday night held up well against Crystal. If Lee can keep things rockin' and can keep firing on all vocal cylinders, he could make this quite the barn burner.
- A little more charisma, please: In hindsight, it was rather unfortunate that Kara made such a big deal out of Casey James' looks so early in the competition. Her calling him "eye candy" detracted from his singing ability and set up the expectation for viewers that he'd have a natural charisma to match the rock 'n' roll hair. Well, this far into the competition, a seemingly naturally shy Casey is still finding his onstage persona. Despite that, the talent is there. He's vocally capable of hanging with front-runners (and fellow guitar-rockers) Crystal and Lee. Once he gains a little more confidence and learns to maximize his on-camera strengths more effectively, Casey just might make things interesting.
- Most improved: Let's be honest: Given some of the extra attention he's received in the "Idol" blogosphere (namely from the folks at VotefortheWorst.com), it would have been so easy for Tim Urban to go the way of Sanjaya Malakar. But, to his credit, this teen-friendly Texan has resisted the temptation to make a caricature of himself and, instead, committed himself to taking the contest seriously. Even in the face of some unremitting criticism about his camera-friendly looks and vocal shortcomings, Tim has taken the judges' feedback to heart and has worked diligently to improve his weekly performances. And as a result of his persistence, Teflon Tim has not only managed to survive in the competition, but he has also managed to actually generate some momentum for himself these last two weeks. Now, I still don't think there's a chance in "Idol" hell (can you even imagine such a concept?) that Tim's going to win this thing, but I won't be surprised if he stays a week or two or three.
- Go big or go home: I'm going to go against conventional wisdom and declare that now is the time for Michael Lynche to double down on the melodramatic theatrics. I don't particularly like Big Mike's milk-it-for-all-its-worth approach to delivering ballads, but I do think that, at this point, it's the Floridian's best way of standing out from the crowd. I mean, if you're going to be relentlessly compared to former winner Ruben Studdard, you may as well "do" Ruben to the hilt. And, to me, that includes bringing every onstage performance to a stirring, bring-it-to-church conclusion. If Big Mike wants a refresher on how that's done, he should hit up Danny Gokey. As for the other contestant who needs to go whole hog, Siobhan Magnus should toughen up a bit, stop taking the judges' comments so hard and get back to her wailing ways. The Cape Codder's lost a bit of confidence and fun these days. It's time for her to trust her own instincts, not care so much about what Simon and Kara have been saying and let that inner geek-goth-weirdo-theater nerd out. Siobhan has got some of the most impressive pipes in the contest. Now is not the time to play things safe.
- Next to go: Teenager Aaron Kelly should feel lucky to have escaped elimination, especially considering how underwhelming his effort was this week. His decision to perform "Blue Suede Shoes" Tuesday night was genuinely perplexing. The Pennsylvania native shouldn't have attempted something so iconic and clichéd. His young voice came off as, well, too young and, therefore, unconvincing. Aaron should take a cue from Big Mike and stick to a repertoire that showcases his particular vocal strengths: slower tempo fare with a little less flash and more straightforward melodies. This, of course, could all be moot by next week. It's a matter of numbers now. The remaining contestants (save one) are better singers, so the die looks cast. Of course, the tween set could have something to say about that.
It's time for you to chime in now. Did America get it right Wednesday night? Who's the next to go? And what was up with those lasers during Adam Lambert's performance?
The 'Will & Grace' alum has emerged as a standout regular on TV's best comedies
As all you loyal TV Buzz readers know, only one female actress has thus far been anointed with my very-special "Kind of Amazing" honorary MSN achievement award, and that would be the affable and talented Mary McCormack of "In Plain Sight" renown. But humble as Mary is, I highly doubt she would mind making space on the awesomeness mantle for one-time "Will & Grace" sidekick Megan Mullally, who's suddenly a go-to ensemble player and guest star on TV's most heeeeelarious half-hours.
Her appearance opposite real-life husband Nick Offerman (aka Pawneer Parks Director Ron Swanson) on "Parks and Recreation" last fall was both a work of deft comic interplay and an impressive obliteration of her chirpy-voiced "W & G" persona.
And starting April 23 at 10 p.m., Mullally will make her debut on Season 2 of Starz' critical favorite (i.e. not-yet-as-highly-rated-as-it-should-be) catering-business satire "Party Down" (look out for my interview later this week with her co-star and "True Blood" casualty Lizzy Caplan). In the Paul Rudd/Fred Savage/lots of other sorta-interesting-people-produced comedy, Mullally joins the cast as aspiring Hollywood mom and part-time appetizers server Lydia Dunfree, a well-meaning but chronically gossipy sort with a delirious uptick in her delivery reminiscent of Amy Sedaris in "Strangers With Candy."
While "Party" is generally very sly, good-natured and laugh-out-loud sharp, Mullally brings a deranged likeability to Lydia that instantly makes her the breakout character, and cements her newfound niche as the TV equivalent of basketball's sixth man: a go-to veteran who can take the lead when necessary, but will always at least add to the existing team chemistry.
Daytime star Aiden Turner gets eliminated
This week's elimination was a bit of a nail-biter. It seemed like almost anyone's game to lose, but in the end, former "All My Children" star Aiden Turner was the one to turn in his dancing shoes. The rumba isn't an easy dance, and it's hard to watch someone struggle through it. In Aiden's case the rhythm just wasn't there, plus he had a lot of trouble with his arm and shoulder movements. Obviously we'll miss Aiden -- he was a good sport.
Photos: See performance pics | Also: "Dancing" fansite | Twitter: Follow MSN TV
Here's how our remaining celebrities fared this week. As usual, they're listed in the order that they were called safe by Tom and Brooke:
His rumba was poised but oh-so passionate. The judges were as thrilled as the audience with his improved performance. If Chad keeps turning in dances like this he could be a real contender!
From a technical perspective, Jake's tango was a disaster. The eagle-eyed judges didn't miss a beat and docked him quite a bit for patchy footwork and even a stumble. Jake and Chelsie were in the bottom two last week, but their fans must have rallied. Let's hope they cook up something special for next Monday's show.
The tango is a difficult dance, and Evan nailed it. His technique was more than solid, and his mastery of those tricky Viennese Crosses won him lots of praise from the judges. For the second week in a row, Evan is at the top of the leaderboard. USA! USA!
The elegant, understated choreography of this week's rumba was a good change for Nicole and Derek, but Nicole did have trouble with some of her steps. Of course, a so-so performance from Nicole is still fantastic. She's hot on Evan's heels in this week's standings. Will we see her back on top next week?
Her rumba was sensual and yet quite moving, which could be why it was the judges' choice for this week's encore. Pam has given memorable performances throughout the season, but at this point she's exuding poise and precision rather than just sexuality out on the floor. Look out, front-runners!
This week's tango didn't lack for passion. Are Erin and Maks dating or not? But the technique wasn't quite perfect. Erin is a quick study, but she hasn't turned in a breakout performance yet this season. Well, there's always next week.
The judges praised Kate's tango as an improvement over previous routines. I'm still not convinced. She was stiff and totally disconnected from Tony, her frame was poor and her rhythm was pretty spotty. Kate has escaped the bottom two three weeks running, so somebody out there must like her.
This week's emotional rumba served as a tribute to Niecy's brother Michael. It was a lovely idea, but the execution was somewhat flawed. Niecy's technique was poor and the flow of the routine was off. I'm glad she's still in the game, but boy does she have some work to do if she wants to stick around.
Who won the week: Evan and Nicole
Who needs to step it up: Kate and Niecy
It's memories, Michael and mayhem on the latest episode
Before I formally begin my recap, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding work of "Lost" composer Michael Giacchino. I sincerely do not know why it has taken me so long to realize how integral the music has been to the level of intensity reached during so many scenes over so many years. Kudos.
That said, for those of you who have been reading my "Lost" recaps even semi-regularly, you know that I got what I've been waiting for all season in the most recent episode: The return of Michael! Portrayer Harold Perrineau has always brought a bristling energy to the role, and I felt (feel?) that his son Walt was the key to unlocking the mystery of the island. Okay, so we didn't get Walt -- yet -- but we did get his dad, even if it was in ghost whispering capacity, to Hugo.
Oh, and Libby was back too.
I'll admit it right outta the gate: I forgot all about her. All about her flirtation with Hugo, their flash sideways relationship in a mental ward, and, yes, the fact that Michael killed her.
But here Hugo is one of the last men standing. Ditto, Desmond. The latter is one that I never saw coming. (This, by the way, is one of two things most "Lost" fans are doing these days: Admitting they've gotten it all wrong, or lying that they've known all along who would play a major role in the finale and who wouldn't.)
While Michael was a sight for sore eyes, Desmond and Hugo chatting over fried chicken in Los Angeles made me downright rub mine. A guy who can see the future talking to a guy who talks to dead people. Whoa.
At this stage of the game, we simply have to let go of our tired theories. Our stitched-together solutions that are worn and frayed due to twisting and bending, born halfway through the first season. To that extent, my friend Rich HAS to stop watching "Lost" with his copy of Michael Crichton's "Prey" on his coffee table. Seriously, dude.
What my friend Rich could do, though, is get out his dusty VHS copy of "Total Recall." As mentioned during a recent recap, a page has definitely been torn out of the screenplay of that Schwarzenegger flick. Is Libby truly mentally unstable in L.A.? Is Hugo? Or are memories of the island -- memories that Widmore's contraption zapped right outta their memory banks -- eking their way back in and, as a result, they are being deemed unstable? Round-robin, to be sure, but an added layer to Widmore's already estimable bad guy persona nonetheless.
As a fan of this show (and one who was literally on the edge of his couch for much of this week's episode, particularly its pulse-pounding final frames), the halfway mark of the installment, as Richard coerced Miles and Ben to join him in going one way, and Jack stepped up to stand by Hugo's side, effectively bringing Sun too, three characters from the first season -- three of the Oceanic 6 -- truly hit the timer for me. It's on. Not only was this one of the best single scenes of this final season, it was followed by yet another: Michael revealing the island to be limbo -- for those who did bad things on it -- and then saying to Hugo that if he ever does see Libby again, to tell her he is sorry.
Recapping duties out of the way, please allow me to speculate, even while I assure you my old theories are dead and buried (with gold coins on them), Desmond is obviously an amnesiac soldier fighting his father-in-law's war, largely seeing to it that no one else begins remembering things. Not that Desmond even knows why that's his gig.
I also maintain that what happens on the island is of far more interest than what happens off of it. How Widmore protects it is not nearly as compelling as why, and the how was pretty damn compelling this week. Desmond running over wheelchair-bound Locke was heavy stuff.
But not nearly as heavy as Jack's expression upon seeing Smoke Monster Locke on the island. What did Jack see in the monster's eyes? His father? The devil? Or did I just repeat myself?
After Elvis-themed night, the pecking order remains unchanged
One week after some manufactured, made-for-television antics (thanks to the timely use of the Judges' Save), "American Idol" served up a comparatively drama-free Tuesday performance episode, where the remaining contestants offered songs from the Elvis songbook. The night had a decidedly bluesy feel to it, but lacked considerable excitement. There were no breakout performances here, folks. Despite the addition of Adam Lambert, the first former contestant to return to serve as guest mentor, the top nine singers did very little to shake things up. Season-long favorite Crystal Bowersox again received the night's most enthusiastic feedback, with Lee Dewyze also turning in a strong performance. But, the overall complexion of the field seems to remain unchanged.
The good news is that two contestants will be eliminated Wednesday night, a move that will instantly make this relatively humdrum season more interesting in the episodes to come. Starting next week, every elimination will land particularly hard. We'll be one step closer to answering the real question facing "Idol" fans: What singer will Crystal face in the season finale? But, there's plenty of time to chew on that.
For now, here's a rundown of how the contestants fared (in the order that they appeared):
- Taking Adam's advice to heart, Crystal Bowersox ditched the acoustic and went electric for her version of "Saved." The gospel-infused ditty was right up her alley, as she threw down one of her most convincing vocals of the season. Bluesy songs sit well with this 24-year-old Ohioan, and she never sounded more like Janis Joplin than she did with this driving, crowd-pleasing performance. The judges were buying it. Randy yelled, "It was dope. I thought I was listening to someone's record." Ellen, again, thought it was "great" and "fantastic." Kara praised Crystal for "another solid performance." She continued, "You did some really good things tonight." And Simon felt Crystal put her "own slant on it." He said the rendition was "original," "sounded great" and was "terrific."
- With his back up against the wall, Andrew Garcia really needed to deliver a showstopper to get back in the game. And sadly, he didn't do it. At a time when he wanted to show confidence and bravado, he mustered only a half-hearted version of "Hound Dog." Of course, it didn't help that he chose a bossa nova-like arrangement. The odd rhythm didn't allow him to settle in any sort of groove. Randy flatly declared, "That was definitely not good karaoke. I didn't get it at all." Ellen was the only one who thought he "pulled it off." She added, however, "I wish you had put a little more swagger in it." Finding the interpretation listless, Kara commented, "It's Elvis. You gotta own it. I wanted to feel more from that performance." And Simon felt it was "lazy and forgettable." He explained, "All of your coolness has been sucked out of you right now. I just really didn't get it." Pack your bags, Andrew.
- In a version reminiscent of Ingrid Michaelson's, Tim Urban sang an earnest, heartfelt "Can't Help Falling in Love," accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. In rehearsal, Adam had encouraged him to finish the song in his falsetto voice. So what did Tim do during his actual performance? Why, of course, he did the exact opposite. And it was just fine. The whole rendition was gentle, sensitive and vocally compelling. Tim's definitely received his fair share of criticism this season for appealing too much to the teen set, but his performance Tuesday night was one that a sizable cross section of "Idol" nation could get behind. Randy said, "I actually liked it." Agreeing, Ellen added, "I really enjoyed it. I thought that that was beautiful." Calling it "authentic," "real" and "current," Kara said, "It was probably my favorite Tim performance ever. And Simon offered, "You have managed to go from zero to hero in two weeks. You're growing in confidence." Zero to hero? Probably not. But Tim looks to be safe this week.
- If Lee Dewyze and Crystal Bowersox ever face off in the finale, it will be an interesting battle of guitar-infused rock. Crystal's got her Janis-Bonnie-Melissa thing going on. But Lee's got something special as well. His version of "A Little Less Conversation" was raspy, intense and definitely hard-edged. As the contest has progressed, Lee has emerged as a genuine rocker. It's why I think he's, at this point, a lock for the top three. Randy exclaimed, "Dude, you are definitely in the zone." Ellen was similarly enthusiastic, saying, "You made that sound so current." She added, "You get better and better." Kara said, "You really went for it, and I loved it." She continued, "The vocal was fire." And Simon loved it. He stated succinctly, "That was on the money. Full stop."
- Poor Aaron Kelly must be feeling the pressure. I know the teenager is trying to show more variety with his song choices, but he's likely better off sticking to simpler, more comfortable fare. Aaron offered up a courageous rendition of "Blue Suede Shoes," but just didn't seem up to the challenge. The song itself was fun and upbeat, but Aaron seemed to be working hard on stage and didn't seem entirely at home delivering such an up-tempo piece. The judges weren't too impressed. "I didn't like the first half," offered Randy. "I thought that was a big song to take on," said Ellen. "I didn't think you got all the way there." Kara was more positive, stating, "You're out of your comfort zone, and I like it" And Simon thought it was "very karaoke." He went on, "It was kind of what it was: someone at a high school doing a concert. You didn't make it young."
- It there was any contestant to benefit from this week's mentor, it was Siobhan Magnus, who has drawn comparisons to Adam at various points this season for her inventive onstage performances and her penchant for vocal screams. Well, there were no vocal screams Tuesday night … or vocal excitement, for that matter. The girl who was lighting things up a few weeks ago has all of sudden lost her mojo. And she seems to be struggling to get it back. Dressed quite prim and proper, Siobhan delivered a very middle-of-the-road version of "Suspicious Minds." It was vocally pleasant, to be sure. But, man, where has the thrill gone? Randy praised the vocals, shouting, "That girl can sing right there." Ellen commented, "You really have a beautiful voice. I liked it a lot." Kara, on the other hand, "wasn't crazy about it." And Simon didn't care for it, either. He remarked, "It was like you were put in a time machine and you came back in twenty years time. It sounded erratic and screechy. You've lost who you were two or three weeks ago."
- One week after singing his way back into the contest, Michael Lynche returned with "In the Ghetto." Clutching his acoustic guitar and sitting at the edge of the stage, Big Mike turned music storyteller and delivered a very contemplative, preacher-like performance. Was it theatrical? Yes, but not overly so. The 26-year-old Floridian certainly loves to pump up the melodrama in his slow-tempo songs. He needs to watch out; he's in danger of becoming a one-trick pony. At some point, he's going to have to show more variety. Randy found the song a "little sleepy," but felt the "vocals were hot." Ellen stated simply, "I'm glad that we saved you." Kara offered, "You definitely sang it well." And Simon said that it was "a million, billion times better than last week" and a "terrific choice of song." It was a definite improvement from last week's performance, but will this be enough for Big Mike to avoid the bottom three?
- Thank goodness that Katie Stevens is back to being a teenager. Showing a little attitude on stage, the pride of Connecticut served up a flirty, fun interpretation of "Baby, What You Want Me to Do." She didn't sound altogether authentic delivering some blues-tinged lines, but it was some of her most self-assured vocals thus far. Keep in mind that she chose this song primarily for its lyrics. So, overall, not exactly the most exciting turn on stage. But, surely enough to keep Katie in the contest for at least another week. Randy loved the "entertaining" and "sassy" side of Katie, also stating that she had "nice vocals." Ellen quipped, "It was a very horny song … A lot of horns in it." She added, "That was great." Kara definitely got the message of the song, saying, "You showed us judges!" And Simon "just didn't like the song very much." He found it "loud" and a "bit annoying."
- Casey James can hang with Crystal and Lee. The Texan appears to be cut from the same musical cloth; you know, he does the whole blues-with-a-guitar shtick. However, he doesn't do it quite as well as Lee and Crystal. His soul-heavy version of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" definitely tried to bring the house down, but fell just short. Maybe it was because the producers were clearly trying to keep things moving and end the show on time, but Casey's performance just didn't wow the audience like he wanted to. The judges liked it, but weren't exactly floored. Randy thought it was "another solid performance," though he added, "I didn't see anything different." Agreeing, Ellen stated, "It wasn't as exciting as I would have liked to have seen. But you're always good. "Kara, on the other hand, said it "really felt short." And Simon considered it "a wasted opportunity" with a song that he found "completely forgettable." He did, nevertheless, think the "vocal was good."
And now for the lists:
Head of the class: Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze
A notch below: Casey James
Needs a hug: Siobhan Magnus
Watch out: Tim Urban
Wild cards: Michael Lynche and Katie Stevens
See ya: Andrew Garcia and Aaron Kelly
Your turn now. What did you think of Tuesday night's performances?
Dating lesbians get U Turned out of the race
Dating couple Brandy Snow, 40, and Carol Rosenfeld, 47, left "The Amazing Race" amidst some serious pyrotechnics this week, as competitor/beauty queen Catie made a mission of U Turn-ing the "mean lesbians" out of the race. We spoke to Brandy and Carol about this controversial label, a sash-and-tiara joke, and where they are now as a couple.
What was it like watching last night's episode?
Brandy: You know, it wasn't as rough as I thought it would be. When the U Turn came down, I was incredibly devastated. There was no feud between Catie and Brent. We never exchanged a negative word. We didn't seek them out as friends, but we were never mean to them directly.
What did you make of Catie calling you a "mean lesbian"?
Brandy: It was stunning to be labelled like that. This was my national coming-out party. While my family knew I had been in a same-sex relationship, random acquaintances and co-workers might not have. We were only the second lesbian team on the show, so we thought, Let's raise some awareness for what strong, intelligent women can do. Let's be competitive and show up and do well. To be labelled a "mean lesbian" ... and yet there's no tape of us being mean. I was very complimentary to Catie about her performance on the steps in Malaysia, her physical ability. To watch this unfold has been stunning.
It seemed at least that when the cops tried to take you out of the race, it was strategic. It seemed very personal for Catie.
Brandy: It was not a strategic movie. We knew who we'd U Turn if it came to that. The cowboys had won the most legs, the cops next, and then Catie and Brent. That was our order.
How do you account for Catie's remarks?
Carol: I would be very hesitant to call her homophobic because that's a really harsh accusation against someone. But when you sit here week after week and you hear "the lesbians" said with such derision...
Can you attribute it to anything you said or did?
Carol: I made a joke on the first day. I said, "Is she racing in her sash and tiara?" It's not a value statement. She chose to be in the public eye. I thought it would have been great if she had shown up that way. The truth is, we didn't know who she was until Jordan told us. And I think Catie was a little envious of Brandy. She said she wanted to be the only woman standing -- but she had to U Turn us, and not compete directly.
Do you think it could been a reaction to the fact that you were, as a team, better travelled?
Carol: Actually, we had a lot of things handicapping us. We knew one another the least of any other couple. And we're not twenty-something years old.
Brandy: In Santiago, we went off by ourselves a bit. We would do that if we had the time and the ability, we'd go off and explore rather than wait around at the airport or the bus terminal. Perhaps that alienated the other teams because we didn't stand around and chat.
Carol: There's an intellectual curiosity on both of our parts. You don't have to be book-smart or educated to be in awe of these things. But by the same token we weren't going to be intimidated somewhere we didn't speak the language.
Are you still together?
Carol [to Brandy]: You want to handle this?
Brandy: We'd known each other for a few months when we went on the race. We recognized we're able to handle stressful experiences well together, and we're honored to have run the race with one another. But since coming back we've been apart for the vast majority of the time. It's more about getting to know each other and building a friendship. But the race was the race -- we'll never not have that experience with one another. It was an astounding thing to share with each other.
Well, at least the network probably won't de-hilarify the late-night host
Despite the best efforts of Keanu Reeves, earth did not stand still until Conan O'Brien announced yesterday that he will be joining TBS. The flame-haired Harvard grad will unveil his latest eponymous gab/skit-fest in November, and the program will air ahead of "Lopez Tonight," which will now be bumped to midnight.
However, it's tough to discern at this early stage if the signing makes TBS cooler by association or is slightly belittling to Conan's legacy. Yes, the network formerly known as "The Superstation" offers viewers their daily "Office" fix, and are still proudly syndicating "Saved by the Bell" every morning. But for every "Seinfeld" re-airing or censored "Sex and the City" appearance, there's aggressively mediocre original sitcoms such as "My Boys" and "Meet the Browns," which are packaged around endless repetitions of humor-free snooze-fests like "According to Jim" and "Two and a Half Men."
And while Conan is certainly better off sidled up alongside George Lopez than credit-and ratings-killer Jay Leno, "Lopez Tonight" is a wildly over-cooked affair with more smoke-and-mirrors edginess than actual variations on the late-night format.
Alas, we shall have to wait till the chilly winds of November begin howling to know if we can give thanks to O'Brien for both his televised return and the resurrection of a nebulously branded network. Either way, at least it probably diminishes the ubiquity of "My Name is Earl" episodes.