“The Lady in Red” danced (cheek to cheek) onto the soft rock scene 35 years ago this month. Chris de Burgh was inspired by seeing his wife across a crowded room looking gorgeous in a red dress. But it’s not just an ode to a pretty woman. It’s about cherishing an important person in your life and not taking them for granted. His voice and the synths come together to make a beautiful song, so it’s not surprising that this was a huge hit. You’ll never forget the lady in red.
Soapdish is a comedy about the drama that goes down behind the scenes of a daytime soap opera. As someone who read Soap Opera Digest for years, I can attest that the drama offscreen can be more interesting than the fictional stuff that airs. In the movie, Celeste (Sally Field), the star of “The Sun Also Sets”, is at the center of the strife. There’s her newly resurrected love interest Jeffrey (Kevin Kline), aspiring actress niece Lori (Elizabeth Shue), villainous rival Montana (Cathy Moriarty), manipulative executive producer David (Robert Downey Jr.), and head writer/best friend Rose (Whoopi Goldberg). A lot of chaos goes down with this crew. Here are 10 of the funniest moments.
10. Soap opera awards
The movie kicks off at the soap opera awards where Celeste wins for best actress, much to her costars’ annoyance. In the clip package, we see her character Maggie confessing while in prison. “Yes, yes, yes! I’m am guilty. Guilty of love in the first degree.” Powerful. Sidenote, Celeste has won several awards. If this character was truly based on soap diva Susan Lucci, that’s kinda shady. And I like it.
Hunky men are a staple on soaps. On TSAS, Blair (Paul Johansson) plays the studly and very dense Bolt. During a love scene with Celeste, he drops his towel revealing his full… bolt. Celeste implores him to wear a swimsuit next time. Blair: “I can’t act in a swimsuit.” He’s a method actor.
8. Casting couch
Carrie Fisher has a small role as Betsy, the show’s horny casting director. We see her auditioning with a handsome actor. Banging Betsy lands him the part, so ultimately they both score.
7. No turbans
Celeste is having a bad day after getting dumped by her boyfriend via answering machine. It doesn’t help that Tawny (Kathy Najimy), the costume designer, has put her in a turban. “Could you please tell our new costume designer that I don’t feel quite right in a turban? What I feel like is GLORIA FUCKING SWANSON!!” Nobody wants to be dressed like a dead woman. Najimy only has few lines in the entire movie, but she does so much with just her facial expressions.
6. Dinner theater
After getting fired from the show decades earlier, Jeffrey was banished to the dinner theater circuit. A horrible existence. It’s hard to perform Death of a Salesman to an audience of elderly people who are uninterested, busy slurping their dinner, and on death’s door themselves.
Everything about Montana is extreme from her voice, to her look, to her reactions. She steals each scene she’s in as she tries to take the show from Celeste. Moriarty is so good in the role. She also bounces off of (or on top of) Downey well. You don’t know whether she’s going to screw him or kill him.
4. Celeste’s explanation
The big plot twist in the film occurs when Celeste reveals that her niece Lori is actually her daughter with Jeffrey. She got pregnant years ago, hid it from everyone, invented a twin sister she passed off as the mother, and then got Jeffrey fired because she felt he ruined her life. That’s incredibly soapy. Field expertly delivers this monologue. It’s worthy of a soap award and another Oscar.
3. Nervous breakdown
The family drama with Celeste, Jeffery, and Lori spills over onto the show. All three separately go to the head of the network, Edmund Edwards (the sharply funny Garry Marshall), and declare they can’t work like this. They’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown! It must be contagious. The rapid cutting between each character adds to the comedy here.
2. Live show
During the live show everything goes wrong. Either Jeffrey, Celeste, or Lori is going to be fired, but they won’t know the outcome until they read it from the teleprompter. Jeffery is blind as a bat, so he mispronounces all his lines. Except Kopfgeschlagen. Celeste goes off script when she realizes Lori is going to be killed off. She offers to die instead. This leads to prepping for an emergency brain surgery. In a restaurant. Lori breaks character and stops it all, reconciling with her parents. It’s a great convoluted mess.
1. “He doesn’t have a head!”
Death is easy to overcome in soaps since characters come back to life on a regular basis. But some things can’t easily be explained. Like how Jeffrey’s character Rod Randall is still alive after being decapitated onscreen. Or as Rose proclaims, “He doesn’t have a head! How am I supposed to write for a guy who doesn’t have a head?!” Nothing is funnier than Rose’s exasperation and yet she manages to write for him anyways. That’s talent.
Paula Abdul’s 1988 debut album, Forever Your Girl, was a huge success. It topped the Billboard charts, sold seven million copies, and launched four #1 singles (a record for a debut album). There must have been a great deal of pressure to match these achievements with her next project. Luckily, she met critics’ and fans’ expectations with Spellbound in 1991. Paula proved she wasn’t a one-album wonder with this new multi-platinum collection of songs.
11. To You
Too cutesy. It sounds like it was written for a teen act. Could have been left off the album.
10. Rock House
There are a lot of issues packed into this message song. Poverty, greed, war, and hunger. Paula couldn’t just choose one. Her solution is to “shut up and dance”. Sure, ok.
The album’s title track is just alright. Not as spellbinding as the others.
8. Alright Tonight
Paula takes us to Carnival with this upbeat dance track. It’s fun and unexpected.
Prince wrote the sexy “U” for Paula and you can hear his purple influence all over it.
6. Promise of a New Day
I always thought “Promise” was about preserving the environment. Probably because of the nature-filled video and the lyrics about eagles and such. In any case, it’s catchy.
5. My Foolish Heart
Paula’s foolish heart won’t allow her to let go of a guy who’s treating her badly. This is a really good song that could have been a single.
4. Will You Marry Me?
If you’re going to propose to someone this is what you need to play in the background.
3. Blowing Kisses in the Wind
Paula is trying to hold onto a relationship that is falling apart. She’s giving all her love to her man, but he’s cold in return. It’s a very pretty, sad ballad. I love the music box melody.
I’m in a funky way. “Vibeology” is a wild dance track. A mix of 90s club and big brass band. She sings about a man that has her “pumped in the groove” and “horny hard”. Ok then. Go Paula, Go Paula!
1. Rush Rush
Before focusing on singing, Paula was known primarily as a dancer/choreographer, so most of her early music was upbeat. When it came time to put out the first single from Spellbound, she threw a curveball with the ballad “Rush Rush”. Totally unexpected and the perfect choice. It’s a gorgeous love song: her voice, the melody, and those violins. Everything comes together beautifully. The Rebel Without a Cause rip-off music video co-starring Keanu Reeves was the icing on top. Paula cemented her place in the pop music world.
Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary today. The two met on the set of All My Children back in 1995. Kelly played the popular heroine Hayley Vaughn and Mark was brought on as her love interest, Mateo Santos. I remember thinking at the time that they had incredible chemistry. Apparently, that carried over into their real lives since they eloped in Las Vegas the next year. Hayley and Mateo experienced a ton of drama, but Kelly and Mark have remained fairly steady. After they left AMC in 2002, they continued on to successful careers and raised a family. They also have a producing partnership. Currently, they’re in development on a primetime reboot of AMC, taking it back to where their love story began.
Fear walked so hundreds of Lifetime movies could run. You can’t turn on the TV today without seeing films like My Psycho Ex-Boyfriend or Deadly Boyfriend. Different titles with the same premise of a young woman meeting a “good” guy who turns out to be criminally insane. There weren’t a lot of young adult thrillers like that up until the release of Fear in 1996. You had horror and dramas, but not any Fatal Attraction-type films for the high school crowd. There was The Crush in 1993, starring Alicia Silverstone as a teenage girl who becomes dangerously obsessed with an older man, but that was told from the man’s point of view. Fear‘s focus is primarily on the teens, which makes it much more interesting.
Girl meets boy
Nicole Walker (Reese Witherspoon) is a 16-year-old who lives in Seattle (we know this because they show the Space Needle a thousand times) with her father Steven (William Petersen), her stepmother Laura (Amy Brenneman), and her little stepbrother Toby (Christopher Gray). There’s friction at home because Nicole is growing up and her dad can’t handle it. When she stays out past curfew to go to a rave with her best friend Margo (Alyssa Milano), she meets David (Mark Wahlberg). He seems great on paper: good looking, polite, and chivalrous. So, Nicole falls for him pretty quickly. The sexy part of the thriller kicks into gear here. It’s like David brings Nicole out of her shell and causes her, and the director, to lean into her sexuality. There are plenty of closeups of her breasts in lowcut dresses, intense make out sessions, and a fingerbanging scene on a roller coaster (set perfectly to The Sundays’ version of “Wild Horses”). David’s perfect boyfriend veneer soon begins to crack, though, and he proves to be fairly disturbed. Like when he kicks the crap out of Nicole’s friend Gary (Todd Caldecott) for giving her a friendly hug. Or when he purposely injures himself and blames Steven. David continually manipulates Nicole until she finally gets a clue. She dumps him, but he won’t let her go. He even makes a homemade tattoo on his chest proclaiming: NICOLE 4 EVA. It’s fairly ridiculous, but I guess it was supposed to be cool and scary back then.
The overprotective dad
The contentious relationship between Steven & David makes up a large portion of the story too. Steven isn’t fooled by his overly polite façade. Good eye. But even if David wasn’t a bad guy, Steven still would have hated him. He’s extremely protective of Nicole and wants to keep her his little girl. Sweet on one hand, creepy on the other. Throughout the movie he worries about her dresses being too short or that David is too handsy with her. It all comes down to his fear of her losing her virginity. When he discovers that Nicole and David had sex, he freaks out. It’s almost like he’s jealous. For his part, David does anything he can to antagonize Steven. He stares him down, daring him to stop him from screwing his daughter. He even flirts with Laura, so he can really be a dick. Both men want to possess Nicole in their own way and be the alpha male figure in her life. Her narrative almost gets lost as she’s bounced back and forth between these two men.
The best friend
In a thriller, the best girlfriend is the talk-to who helps keep the heroine’s story going. Margo fits the bill here. She’s supportive of Nicole and offers an ear for all of her problems. She even risks her life to save Nicole from being attacked. It’s a wonder she isn’t killed since that’s usually the fate of this character type. Although, I suppose poor Gary, Nicole’s other good friend, being beaten to death by David kinda counts. On the flip side, Nicole is a shitty friend. She sees David forcibly take Margo away to have sex with her, but she’s actually angry with Margo. As if her best friend wanted to sleep with her boyfriend and wasn’t raped. It’s a horrible way to treat someone who has already been traumatized. #JusticeforMargo
The last act is where all the dramatic violent chaos happens. David and his cracked-out friends (how did I miss that he was a crack dealer when I first saw this in 1996?) try to break into Nicole’s house, while Steven and Laura fight them off. The family dog and a security guard are killed, Toby runs over someone, and Nicole is nearly sexually assaulted. In the final moments, Steven saves Nicole by tossing David out of a window. That splat is very satisfying. The ultimate lesson here is if a guy seems too good to be true, he probably is. Even if he’s a hot 90s era Marky Mark.
Back in 1986, “That’s What Friends Are For” was named the #1 single of the year by Billboard. But the history of the track actually goes back a little further. Burt Bacharach and Carol Bayer Sager wrote “Friends” in 1982. At the time, Rod Stewart recorded it for the movie Night Shift. He did an ok job with it, but something was missing. That something being Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Gladys Knight.
The quartet got together to record their own version in 1985 as a charity single to benefit AIDS research. Adding their energy and retooling the arrangement made the song infinitely better. Dionne starts it off with her distinctive vocals, Stevie brings in the harmonica, Elton’s on the piano, and Gladys wraps it up strongly. Their voices and styles mesh really well together. It’s not surprising that this was a huge hit, winning the Grammy for Song of the Year. And even better, it raised much needed funds for a worthwhile cause. Keep smiling, keep shining.
Twenty years ago, “Lady Marmalade” gitchie gitchie gitchie ya-ya’d onto the scene. This was actually a cover of the song that dynamic girl group Labelle made famous in 1974. Flash forward to 2001, where superstar Missy Elliott produced a remake for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. It was an appropriate choice considering both the song and the movie featured prostitutes. And a little bit of French. Missy assembled an impressive lineup of singers for the project and gave each woman a chance to shine. Mya kicked it off with her light silky vocals. Pink followed with her rocker style. Lil’ Kim broke it down with a rap, “We independent women, some mistake us for whores/ I’m sayin’, why spend mine when I can spend yours?” Then Christina Aguilera brought it home with roaring vocals that were bigger than her hair in the music video. When you added in Missy’s bombastic production you had a remake that equaled the greatness of the original. A rarity. Just like in 1974, the track went to #1. It also earned the quartet a Grammy. Hey sistas!
A love song that doesn’t care about “I love you”? It’s not such a crazy concept actually. Extreme’s “More Than Words” is an ode to a show me, don’t tell me kind of love. It’s easy to give someone a verbal confirmation, but to prove how deeply you feel with your actions is more powerful. “More than words/Is all you have to do to make it real/Then you wouldn’t have to say/That you love me/Cause I’d already know.”
Those lyrics matched with a smooth acoustic guitar came together to form a beautiful song. It also marked a departure for Extreme. Up until then they were known as a hard rock group, but going the ballad route really put them on the map. The single went to #1 in the US and several other countries in 1991. At that time, I remember it being played at every middle school dance. I didn’t care much about slow dancing, but I loved hearing that song. Still do.
In 1971, Carole King released her landmark album, Tapestry. It’s the perfect name for the mix of rich beautiful songs she crafted. Up until then Carole was known primarily for being a songwriter, creating memorable hits for other artists. Tapestry allowed her to step fully into the spotlight as a singer. The album stayed on top of the charts for 15 weeks, launched two #1 singles, and won 4 Grammys. Lets wrap ourselves up in Tapestry and take a look back.
Like a fairy tale set to music. You’re not quite sure what she’s trying to say or how you should interpret it. Not a bad thing. The melody is quite pretty.
11. Smackwater Jack
SJ sounds like an old folktale you’d hear growing up about outlaws and lawmen. It’s fun.
An inspiring ode to self-confidence and loving yourself. If you believe you’re beautiful and put that out into the world, the same energy will come back to you.
9. Where You Lead
Carole is so devoted to her man she’ll follow him anywhere. The right person is worth trekking across the world for.
8. Home Again
“Snow is cold, rain is wet”. It’s a simple lyric but you feel the pain and longing in her voice. Wanting so badly to be home and comforted.
7. Way Over Yonder
This sounds like a traditional gospel song you’d hear in church. Carole and the amazing Merry Clayton bring so much soul to it. I want to get to over yonder too.
6. Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow
Carole originally wrote this for The Shirelles in the 60s, one of their biggest hits. This version is stripped down and raw.
5. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Of course, this song is always going to be associated with the Queen of Soul, but Carole wrote it. She pours all of herself into it.
4. So Far Away
We can all relate to pining for loved ones that are miles away. It’s gorgeous and timeless.
3. It’s Too Late
A sad song lamenting the end of a romance. They’ve outgrown each other and the relationship can’t be salvaged. I particularly like the line, “Somethin’ inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it”.
2. I Feel the Earth Move
Love feels like an earthquake for Carole. Everytime her man comes around her world starts shaking. It’s an apt description for a passionate new love.
1. You’ve Got a Friend
A heartfelt song about the power of friendship. I love her vocals and the beautiful piano arrangement. “Winter, spring, summer, or fall/All you have to do is call…”
“The Winner Takes It All” was the first single off ABBA’s Super Trouper album. It paints a vivid picture of the aftermath of a breakup. ABBA isn’t known for the depth of their lyrics (what the hell is “Super Trouper” about anyways?), so it’s interesting how detailed this song is. They find an inventive way of comparing a relationship to a game. “The winner takes it all/The loser’s standing small/Besides the victory/That’s her destiny”.
The music is beautiful, going between a soft piano arrangement and a midtempo beat. It makes you sad and reflective, but you want to dance too. The vocals are also great. My favorite part is Angetha’s soaring “alllllll” on the last verse.
“Winner” went to #1 in several countries. It was the group’s last top ten song in the US, which is odd considering there were strong follow up singles like “Lay All Your Love on Me”. Those people who didn’t get ABBA were the real losers.