Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Retarded Genius Of Access Hollywood

Lights… Camera… Access!

Some of you may or may not be aware that I may or may not get the majority (if not all) of my current event news from NBC’s killer telezine, Access Hollywood. But what you may or may not be aware of is that this particular show is a news media triumph the pop culture pundits are still trying to deconstruct. And if I’m not mistaken, AH and Slate both shared a 10th anniversary last year. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Let me help you help you.

It comes on at 6:30 PM CST, which, in beautiful Birmingham, Alabama, is the half hour that proceeds what those “in the know” refer to as “primetime television”. Which means in the past, Access Hollywood has been able to piggy back on such awards show extravaganzas as The Golden Globes, The Emmy Awards, and The People’s Choice Awards, beginning their coverage right from the very red carpet it carefully exposes each night itself! No mean feat, to be sure, in a sort of jamboree of fame cum pre-game show.

But it’s not all glamour and glitz. (Just, you know, mostly.) AH has gotten the reputation as the go-to fanzine for all things controversial, when celebs, caught drunk mounting the nanny again, need to “set the record straight”, as they say. E.g., the feud that erupted ‘twixt Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields re: her postpartum “mother’s little helper” snafu was dissected all over AI’s video pages over the course of nearly a month of nonstop coverage.

Therein lies its genius. For, you see, watching AI over the course of an entire week reveals what exactly it is that makes the show so compelling, namely, the fact that the contents of Monday’s show are identical to that of the contents of Friday’s show. It’s just packaged differently, jumbled up, thrown up into the air like a deck of cards and realigned with new bumper music and graphics eerily reminiscent of something you’d see on, say, that harder than hard hitting news show, Dateline. (Is it just me or is Chris Hansen more a caricature of Stephen Colbert’s caricature of himself even?)

You get no new information Tuesday through Friday, and, let’s be honest here, you didn’t really get much new information Monday either, but you get a beautifully rendered summation of the new information you didn’t get for 5 whole days at the end of the week. It’s staggering in its Occam-esque approach to the dissemination of, well, non-ness.

Make no mistake about it, folks. Access Hollywood’s gifted penchant for informing you of things you already knew, but doing so in a manner that convinces you that you actually didn’t already know them, verges on the epic if not the profound.

Oh sure, you’ve got your Entertainment Tonight and your Hollywood Extra. But those shows come with a tinge of smarmy tackiness, leaving you with the feeling that you not-so-accidentally just swallowed a bug, or found a hair in your burrito. AI will have none of that. How do they manage to avoid the “throwing up out in back of the diner in the grease trap” trap so many entertainment shows succumb to?

Meet Billy Bush. All American boy and sometime Trump sidekick. But watch out. Those softballs he’s lobbing at our beautiful people? They’re not that soft, and they’ve got balls. When BB launched into a tirade-like, he said/she said expose about how Nick was holding up after the breakup, Jessica Simpson’s publicist slammed the door on that casting call couch like a steamroller on ice. And faster than she could say, “The interview is now over,” the Bushinator had scored a huge one for the good guys. Way to go, Bill!

Meet Nancy O’Dell. All American girl of the insanely stupid persuasion, perky as all get out, and almost as pregnant. Don’t look now but word on the street is that she’s gonna squirt the little brat right into the welcoming hands of John Travolta wearing a giant hotdog suit in Bakersfield in a publicity stunt scheduled to put JT’s career back on the map, maybe.

Meet Maria Menounos. All American girl of the Greek heritage persuasion. Tall, skinny, beautiful, tall. And what a voice! I’d like to curl up and take a nap in that toothy smile of hers.

Meet that one guy. Generic looking/sounding, with all the makings of someone whose name you’ll never remember, or really ever need to.

Meet that one other guy. No, the one with the British accent. It’s a good thing he’s so good looking; otherwise he’d be blowing some dude out behind the Tasty Freeze for a chili dog.

And there you have it. It’s no accident the show’s such a success. Add the fact that there’s an hour-long broadcast on Saturday nights at 6:00 PM CST that, that’s right, sums up the week’s events highlighted during the week, and it’s not hard to imagine a world where the same news gets spewed forth like a demon-possessed vomit gun at the state fair on every channel.

Still, you might want to cut them some slack, Katie. At least they don’t claim to be real journalists like you do. Come to think of it, wasn’t it Access Hollywood that broke the Valerie Plamegate scandal, and revealed the fact that Ben Affleck is so vain he wears a hairpiece, on the same show? Y’all ought to be ashamed. Oops! You already are?

Which is simply a roundabout way of saying that if we’ve learned anything from our current administration, it’s that when it comes to truth in advertising, it’s all about the packaging. Seriously. The shinier the better, in every sense.