Saturday, July 29, 2006

Schadenfreude Epidemic Hits Hollywood!!!!

Temperatures are up around the country. The Middle East is being torn apart (moreso than usual). Juventus is being demoted from Serie A. Things are tough all over.

Thankfully, if we can't get pleasures of a more legitimate sort, those of us following the entertainment industry are in the middle of a glorious new age of schadenfreude, enjoying a fruitful myriad of celebrity misfortunes.

Shyamalan's New Movie Tanks: It's hard to imagine a filmmaker frittering away a deeper reservoir of good faith without committing an actual crime. However, in eight years, M. Night Shyamalan has gone from being ruler of the cinematic world on "The Sixth Sense" to being a director whose failure is being generally celebrated. It's one thing to make three straight movies as truly awful and artless as "Signs" ("Swing Away!!!!"), "The Village" ("We've diverted air traffic!!!!") and "Lady in the Water" (NARF!!!!!!), but to become more wrapped up in your own ego with each passing movie? That's impressive. Shyamalan invited all of this ire by inviting journalist Michael Bamberger into his life to write a book about how Disney betrayed him, he found a new home at Warner Bros. and his genius was vindicated. Of course, his genius on this new movie was apparently in casting himself as a messianic author whose misunderstood works would eventually change the world. That's a very particular mixture of insecurity and egotism. The Greeks would probably call it hubris. Realistically, an opening week of $18 million isn't awful for a movie starring Bryce Dallas Howard and Paul Giamatti, but get ready for a 60+ % drop in its second weekend. "Lady," as we say, is dead in the "Water."

Lohan's Red Letter Day: Frankly, the media has taken a lot of pleasure in Lindsay Lohan's various catastrophes for several years. I haven't really been interested. Sure, she isn't 21, but if she wants to be out partying and drinking all night and she can still turn in fine work in films like "Herbie: Fully Loaded" and "Just My Luck," well, I'm sure her career is going exactly where she wants it to be going. But if you sign on for an indie movie with respected professionals like Jane Fonda and Felicity Huffman and you can't be bothered to learn a thing or two about work ethic, well, that's a bit of a problem. Hence, the insane pleasure coming the letter written to Lohan by James G. Robinson, CEO of Morgan Creek, which is producing the actress' new film "Georgia Rule." The letter, which takes Lohan to task for unprofessional behavior, is up on and it's just plain fun.

Mel Gibson's Just Plain Nuts. DUH. Drunk driving is never anything to take pleasure in. It's bad, bad, bad. It's even worse when the drunk driver in question, Mr. Mel Gibson, is a role model for many and an admitted recovering alcoholic who seems to have fallen off the wagon. That's just sad. But when the drunk driver in question greets his arrest with an alleged mixture of Anti-Semitism and sexual harassment? Sigh. Maybe Mel Gibson shouldn't have spent so much time before the release of "The Passion of the Christ" insisting on his love for the Jewish people and his complete and total lack of Anti-Semitism. Gibson has put out a statement saying, among other things, "I acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable." But there's a limit to the number of times you can say that you've said things you do not believe to be true (or made accusations in movies that you don't believe to be true) before people might suspect that deep in your heart of hearts, you kind of believe them to be true. In Vino Veritas is a phrase being thrown around a lot today. TMZ did much of the story-breaking on this one, but I prefer Nikki Finke's coverage, personally. We all hope you get help, Mr. Gibson. For many things.

Any other examples of celebrity schadenfreude out there making you feel just a bit better about your own hum-drum life?

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