Archive for the ‘Desperate Housewives’ Category

Bridges shines then — ‘My Three Sons’ — and now — ‘Desperate Housewives’

January 19, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And with Beau Bridges, that’s a good thing.

The veteran actor appeared twice in my home Sunday night: first in an  episode of My Three Sons which my wife and I happened to be watching via the Season One Volume Two DVD set from CBS/Paramount, due out Tuesday. (OK — so I’ve got connections.) And right afterward, there Beau was again — almost 50 years older — playing perhaps the strongest guest role ever on ABC’s Desperate Housewives, a once tediously negative show that’s hit its stride this season with richer characterizations and stronger stories.

Bridges’ one-shot was as Eli Scruggs, beloved handyman of Wisteria Lane. Via flashbacks, we saw how Eli greatly impacted the lives of the series’ principal women, often in warm and meaningful ways.

For too long, “warm” and “meaningful” weren’t terms you could use in the same breath with Desperate Housewives, but the show is now a far better balance of the darkly desperate and the spiritually hopeful.

As an actor, Bridges, too, has been affecting people since he first ventured into telly, around the time dad Lloyd Bridges starred on his Sea Hunt series. When Beau began emerging as an actor circa 1960, he was a natural to play clean-cut youths on shows such as My Three Sons, where he appeared three times, or Mr. Novak. It was only later that he segued to adult roles for the big screen (The Landlord being a strong early example).

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Beau several times in Houston, where he worked on shoots for a TV movie (Without Warning: The James Brady Story) and a theatrical film (Sidekicks). He was always a down-the-earth gentleman who seemed to enjoy the process. Brother Jeff Bridges, coincidentally, also was in Houston on a movie shoot, for Arlington Road, when their father passed away.

If you missed it, Housewives’ superb 100th episode, in which Beau guest starred, won’t be on DVD until next year. But in the meantime, beyond his many more recent movie and TV roles, you catch his work on the aforementioned My Three Sons, where he’s forever young — about 19 — while playing a young fellow, in sharp contrast to so many productions since then which have high school kids played by actors in their mid-20s. (Take 1978’s Grease.) Bottom line: Wherever you find Beau, you’ll find a fine actor who’s still enriching our lives as he eases into retirement age — and thank goodness he isn’t retiring.

Back to My Three Sons: Is there any more distinctive vintage sitcom? And I’m not talking about its then-new element of having a single parent (Fred MacMurray) raising offspring, a setup that’s since then become cliche. I’m talking about the show’s widely varied stabs at storytelling in terms of style, tone and narrative elements. While comedic and amusingly chaotic on the surface, My Three Sons also often involves mystery, romance, strongly dramatic plots and then-topical themes. The show’s creators didn’t settle for a set narrative form. They experimented.

With most sitcoms, you know exactly what you’re going to get: Jed and his country bumpkin family will experience — and spur — more culture shock on The Beverly Hillbillies. McHale and his misfit crew will indulge in more shennanigans on McHale’s Navy. Randy New York young adults will lie about something — over and over — thus sparking comic complications on Friends.

But in My Three Sons, you never know what’s going to happen, which makes the show more surprising and even challenging than TV series’ usual easy-to-swallow version of comfort food. And in a medium known for so much galling repetition, that, in itself, is a blessing.

Is Nicole Kidman kidding about her kid’s origin? Sunday Rose knows

July 8, 2008

OK, so Will Smith had another July 4 blockbuster with Hancock. Is that news? I mean, in these troubled times, do most people truly care about per-screen averages or a percent of the gross? And does it really matter if one studio’s production and marketing budget virtually requires them to have a blockbuster or risk going out of business? I mean, is that our problem, too, along with sky-high gas and all the rest?

No, what people care more about — as a distraction, a diversion — are the celebs themselves: their lives, their loves and their livers, if they’re hard drinkers (and who isn’t?). That’s why this week’s biggest news isn’t – yawn – Smith scores yet again, but rather:

Christie Brinkley’s nightmare in divorce court. Well, what did she think would happen if she didn’t settle quietly?

Scarlett Johansson declaring that “monogamy is hard.” Actually, Scarlett, believing that you’re monogamous is what’s really hard. Monogamy itself, for some people — those who love each other truly, madly and deeply — isn’t hard at all. It depends on the persons.

Paris Hilton wants to team with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan for a reality show. Uh, Paris, the purgatory of reality TV is your day job, not theirs. At least, it shouldn’t be their gig, though at this point anything’s possible in the career spirals of BS and LL.

And, finally, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman gives birth, in Nashville, to a daughter, Sunday Rose Kidman Urban, with country kicker hubby Keith Urban at her side.

Now that’s the biggest news of all. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not a baby freak. In fact, all those baby stories in People magazine make me want to get myself fixed. Know of a good vet who’ll do it cheap?

But I digress: What’s truly amazing is that Kidman had a kid. I mean, this rail-thin woman is forever fixated on her figure and her appearance. What’s more, Kidman has hardly been “showing” at all, even up until recently. And just imagine what havoc childbirth would play on her trim frame. Why, that’s just not acceptable. In fact, I would not have blamed Kidman if she’d pulled a Bree from Desperate Housewives and faked the whole thing, getting a surrogate mother to take the pregnancy to full term in secret, while she wore a prosthetic in her few public appearances and kept looking beautiful despite the indignity of allegedly impending birth. Then in a short time — voila! — she can be back in movie-star mode, and without any noticeable signs of a true mother’s ordeal.

Now, I’m not saying she did this. But I am saying she could have — and isn’t any conspiracy theory worth entertaining, however briefly?

After all, actors like her are paid enormous sums for their ability to lie — to sell a character or a situation and make us believe it — and they’re all about wardrobe tricks and masquerades, too, including Kidman’s own fake nose in The Hours. So why not extend that to your personal life? I mean, the entertainment media is all too willing and gullible to lap it up. Just ask the third wife of Kidman’s ex-husband. Does she have anything to hide or to fake? If so, you won’t know from watching Entertainment Tonight.

I even happen to know, first-hand, that those pregnancy prosthetics work quite well.

Back when Drew Barrymore was shooting Home Fries in Central Texas, I visited the set for a story. This wasn’t long after Drew had bared her bosom for Dave Letterman on national TV, and so my wife was a little — well, apprehensive.

“Bruce, be careful of her. She might flash you — or do anything!”

“Now honey, don’t be silly. This is a professional film shoot, and I’ll just be doing my job, as I’m sure she will be, too.”

Flash-forward to a winding dirt road near a filming location in wintry Centex, where a trusting Bruce rendezvous with a van carrying Drew and climbs aboard. Gushy if not giddy, she welcomes her visitor while wearing a prosthetic beneath her dress in order to play a pregnant character.

As I sit down, Drew instantly turns talk to her fake belly, which, she insists, “smells like pancakes.” Then, without a wink or a blink, she raises her dress and insists I check it out.

And so, within a minute of entering The Van With The Wanton Woman, Drew was, indeed, exposing herself — sort of, she also wore pants — while your friendly neighborhood trusting journalist leaned down to her midriff and had a good whiff of her smelly belly.

The moment was frozen in time as my life flashed before me — the indignity of second grade! — and then it struck me: “You know, my wife was right!” And then: “But her fake belly does smell like pancakes!”

So perhaps you can understand why I’m not so trusting now, and why wild thoughts whip up a whirlwind in my head when I see a too-thin and too-beautiful Nicole Kidman not long before she supposedly delivers a bouncing baby girl.

You know, it just makes you think — and, as Arsenio Hall used to do, stroke your chin and go “Hmmmmmm.” After all, we have no more reason to believe and know that Nicole was preggers than to believe and know that she wasn’t.

That leaves us with doubt and disbelief — and Hollywood types have it coming. From fanciful characters to overhyped ad campaigns, from “reality” shows that are scripted to celebs who insist they hate paparazzi while announcing their meals at The Ivy, show-biz folks can’t keep selling us lies without expecting us somehow, some way, sometime, to disbelieve. At least, I do — and it’s healthy.

You prefer a steady diet of baloney? I’ll take the pancakes. At least they smell real enough.