And, Fannie Flagg!! That’s how I hear her name in my head. Fannie sat in the last panelist seat on The Match Game, so she was always announced as the “and”. From 1973 to 1982, she was a semi-regular on the game show, cracking jokes next to Richard Dawson. Beyond Match Game, Fanny appeared in several roles on TV and film while also putting out comedy albums. Her biggest accomplishment was writing the beloved novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. The book would later be turned into a hit movie, garnering the author an Oscar nomination for adapting it. Fannie continues to write and released her latest novel in 2020. Today she celebrates her 77th birthday. Happy Birthday Fannie…and many more!!
On this day in 1986, One Life to Live supercouple Tina (Andrea Evans) and Cord (John Loprieno) got married for the first time. There would be three other trips down the aisle. The couple was always experiencing some sort of drama that tore them apart. Typically it had to do with Tina’s lies and schemes. But there was also a crazed mother-in-law, jail time, baby switches, interlopers, and a presumed death or two. Thankfully the writers got them back together before OLTL went off the air. We had to have one last Tina & Cord wedding.
Soap opera queen Erika Slezak celebrates her 75th birthday today. For 41 years she amazed us as Viki Lord on One Life to Live, winning six Emmys. She honestly could have won six more. She brought so much warmth, dignity, and passion to the role. I need Erika and OLTL back on my TV screen!
Three episodes in and I’m starting to enjoy the reboot of Gossip Girl. It took some time, but the show has started to gel and grab my attention.
The reboot picks up a decade after the original ended. We’re back at super rich Upper Eastside private school, Constance Billard, but things are different. The students run things and the teachers are at their mercy. A small group of the burdened teachers learn about the legendary Gossip Girl. The blog kept the kids in line back in the early 2000s because they were afraid of her exposing their secrets. That’s not exactly how I remember it, but ok. Kate (Tavi Gevinson), the faculty’s leader, prompts them to pick up where GG left off and take the school back.
Their main targets are the popular kids, led by Julien (JordanAlexander). She’s a gorgeous influencer with an army of Instagram followers. Julien is dating “I hate being rich” boy Obie (Eli Brown). Her power lesbian friend Monet (Savanah Lee Smith) handles her PR while icy Luna (Zion Moreno) styles her. Then there’s the school’s beloved couple, Audrey (Emily Alyn Lind) & Aki (Evan Mok), and pansexual bad boy Max (Thomas Doherty). Into this world comes sweet earnest Zoya (Whitney Peak), Julien’s half-sister. They shared a mother who cheated on Jules’ father with Zoya’s father, leading the two men to hate each other and keep their daughters apart. But the sisters found each other on social media and formed a secret bond. Jules engineered it so that Zoya and her dad left their modest home in Upstate NY for the glitz of NYC. GG posts stories on Instagram (blogs are out…ouch) about all of these goings-on, provoking anger and, yes, fear. So, the plan is working. For now. The fact that the viewers already know who’s behind GG is a plus, even better that it’s disgruntled teachers messing with their entitled students.
The pilot spent a lot of time establishing this new GG world without bringing much depth. It’s was just set up with clunky dialogue. It took two more episodes for showrunner Joshua Safran to get into a groove. Zoya is the most interesting multi-faceted character of the bunch. She even makes dopey Obie come to life when he dumps Julien for her. Max stands out, as well, with his wit and voracious sex drive. I only wish Julien and the rest were as compelling. Right now, they’re just pretty faces in amazing clothes. The Aubrey/Aki/Max triangle has potential, but Elite already did it better. Back to the positive, the diversity on the show should be recognized. The original was whiter than a bag of marshmallows, so it’s nice to see more color this time around. And we have queer teens that aren’t tragic stereotypes. They’re just living their (bitchy) lives. I think that as the show goes on the characters and stories will become more compelling, possibly living up to the legacy of OG GG.
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.
Russell T. Davies’ It’s A Sin centers on a group of young friends contending with the AIDS epidemic in 1980s England. Ritchie (Olly Alexander) has left his family, whom he is not out to yet, on the Isle of Wight to explore his sexuality in London. He meets Jill (Lydia West) at Uni, where they share a passion for performing. Jill introduces Ritchie to the studious handsome Ash (Nathaniel Curtis). Along the way they meet Roscoe (Omari Douglas) who has run away from his overly religious Nigerian family. Rounding out the group is shy sweet Colin (Cullum Scott Howells), a Welsh tailor. The friends rent a large flat where they throw wild parties, entertain a revolving door of sexual partners, and enjoy a genuinely happy life together. As a viewer you quickly grow to care about these characters. That makes it difficult to watch as the shadow of AIDS falls over them.
In the early days, there was a lot of hearsay and misinformation about the disease. News outlets weren’t covering it and doctors weren’t informing their patients. Plus, in England, it was considered to be an American disease since it seemed to originate there. It makes sense that in an age without the internet, information wouldn’t be able to get out easily. Most films or TV show about the beginning of AIDS only focus on how people in the US dealt with it. I found this UK perspective to be very interesting. I was also surprised about the denial. Ritchie claims the disease is a hoax and there couldn’t be a “gay cancer”. He is soon proven wrong.
Davies does a great job of balancing the harsh reality of the era with five coming of age stories. You see these characters trying to figure out who they are and what they want out of life. In some cases, a brief life. Ritchie and Jill strive to become actors, Colin desperately wants someone to love, and Roscoe has a secret affair with a politician. Ash doesn’t have much of a storyline though. He should have been given more to do. On the flip side, I could have done with less of Ritchie. Yes, he’s the main character, but he’s also incredibly self-absorbed and infuriating. It made him hard to root for at times. Another complaint is that Jill is often reduced to the role of the supportive caretaker for the guys. She doesn’t have much of a personal life and never has a love interest. She deserved more development.
Despite these faults, Sin is a well-done series. The writing and direction are sharp and all of the actors are perfectly cast. There’s also a soundtrack full of 80s gems that enhance each episode. It’s a beautifully heartfelt show about a tragic period in history.
The legendary Cicely Tyson has passed away. She leaves behind a prolific award-winning career in film, TV, and the stage. She was a trailblazer who opened the door for other black actresses that followed. Moreover, she used her work to show how multidimensional black women are and their deserving of respect. I’ll remember her most for the dignity and poise she possessed. Like a regal queen. She always seemed sure of herself and what she wanted from the world. Recently, Miss Tyson completed her memoir, Just As I Am. I’m looking forward to reading it and learning more about this incredible woman.
Thirty years ago, my all-time favorite show, Beverly Hills 90210, premiered. This was the OG teen drama that opened the door for all the rest. It had soapy storylines, very pretty people, and a mythic zip code that everyone wanted to live in. The fish out of water premise focused on the Walsh family moving from their comfy normal Minneapolis home to the glitzy Beverly Hills. There was stern patriarch Jim (James Eckhouse), his loveable wife Cindy (Carol Potter), and their dynamic twins Brandon (Jason Priestly) and Brenda (Shannen Doherty). B&B enrolled in West Beverly Hills High School and met brooding bad boy Dylan McKay (Luke Perry), queen bee Kelly Taylor (Jennie Garth), clotheshorse Donna Martin (Tori Spelling), spoiled rich boy Steve Sanders (Ian Ziering), brainiac Andrea Zuckerman (Gabrielle Carteris), and dorky David Silver (Brian Austin Green). Immediately, I was drawn in and made Thursday nights at 9pm (and then Wednesdays at 8pm) appointment viewing. My walls were decorated with posters of the cast. I even had the dolls. Really wish I had held onto those. 90210 was my adolescence. I was 11 when the show began in 1990 and months way from turning 21 when it went off the air in 2000. It will always have a special place in my heart, so for its anniversary I thought I’d celebrate the best things about the show. And some of the worst.
Best Character – Brenda
You can’t get any better than Brenda. Beautiful, smart, and headstrong. Plus, she usually had the most compelling storylines. You wanted to watch every week as she navigated the rough terrain of Beverly Hills. Shannen’s performances were always on point, making her the best actor in the cast. When she left at the end of season 4, I stopped watching…for a few episodes. I may have come back, but the show was never quite the same without Brenda.
Most Boring Character – Andrea
Andrea wasn’t necessarily setting the screen on fire. Her trajectory was running the school newspaper while crushing on Brandon, getting knocked up and married her freshman year of college, and studying to be a doctor. Blah. Yeah, she cheated on her husband, but it was a tedious affair. Really, the most interesting thing to happen to her was getting run down by a car in season 3.
Best Couple – Brenda & Dylan
Brenda and Dylan were an intense couple. They loved hard, leading to several fights and breakups. But no matter what, they were always there for each other. Also, Shannen and Luke had amazing chemistry.
Worst Couple – Donna & Ray
Ray was an abusive cheating douchebag who threw Donna down a flight of stairs. Luckily, she gained the courage to end things with him before it was too late. On a positive note, he did write a catchy song, “How Do You Talk to an Angel”.
Best Rivalry – Brenda vs. Kelly
Brenda and Kelly started off as best friends before quickly becoming frenemies. The minute Brenda turned her back, Kelly was scamming on Dylan, leading to the final B&D breakup. Even though Brenda got over it, I couldn’t forgive Kelly. #NeverForget
Best Parent – Cindy Walsh
Cindy was always there to listen to her kids’ problems and offer good advice. It’s funny how Carol Potter quit acting to become a family therapist. Life kind of imitated art.
Worst Parent – Felice Martin
Donna’s mom (Katherine Cannon) never failed to be the worst. She was the typical Beverly Hills snob, looking down on everyone around her. Turns out she was a big hypocrite, preaching about abstinence while cheating on her husband.
Best Villain – Amanda
Amanda made a brief indelible villainous mark on the show in the “Slumber Party” episode. From the get go she thinks Brenda’s pajama party is beneath her and isn’t afraid to tell them all. Then she suggests they play “Skeletons in the Closet” where each girl has to confess secrets about themselves. This ends in tears and humiliation. Later, it’s revealed that Amanda has been taking diet pills that are killing her personality. She finally lets her guard down and eats something. Bitchiness cured.
Best Kelly Tragedy – Cocaine Kelly
Drama stuck to Kelly like white on rice. Speaking of white stuff, Kelly getting hooked on cocaine was her best tragic moment. She spiraled downward into the bottom of a coke vial, enabled by Colin (Jason Wiles), her boyfriend at the time. After hitting rock bottom, she checked into rehab. That led to her meeting fellow addict, Tara (Paige Moss), a complete psycho who went single white female on her. Never bring home friends from rehab.
Dumbest Tragedy to Befall Kelly – LAX Drive-by Shooting
The gang was coming back from a trip to Hawaii when they found themselves gunned down by a pair of car thieves in the parking lot. Kelly took a bullet and immediately went into a coma. Then she woke up with amnesia. Seriously.
Best Exit – Dylan takes off
Dylan’s arc for season 6 involved trying to find the man responsible for his father’s death. That turned out to be mobster Anthony Marchette. In a soapy twist, Dylan fell in love with Marchette’s daughter, Toni. They got married and planned to leave Beverly Hills. Unfortunately, Marchette put a hit on Dylan, but the assassin accidentally killed Toni. A grief-stricken Dylan left town, riding off into the sunset on his motorcycle.
Most Annoying Character – Clare
Clare (Kathleen Robertson) came in during season four as Brandon’s stalker, basically. When she got over him, she moved onto David and then Steve. None of the pairings were great, but Claire was consistently annoying. Judgy and always ready to blame someone else for her problems. It didn’t help that she had a bad case of resting bitch face.
Best New Character – Valerie Malone
After Brenda left BH, Valerie Malone (Tiffani Thiessen), a Walsh family friend, was added to the canvas. She was no Minnesota twin, but she did a fine job. In Valerie, the show finally got a straight up bitch (with a heart). She was sneaky, deceitful, and full of snark. Her main target was Kelly, so I took to Val pretty quickly.
Worst New Character – Gina
After Tiffani left the show in season 9, producers rushed to replace her with Vanessa Marcil, a popular daytime soap star. She played Gina, Donna’s cousin (but actually her half-sister, long story). Unlike, Val, Gina was one-dimensional and lacked chemistry with any member of the gang.
Funniest Character – Steve
Steve provided a lot of comic relief. Intentional or not. Those loud silk shirts he wore in the early seasons were quite laughable. Not to mention his curly mullet.
Biggest Waste of Talent – Hilary Swank
In year 8, Hilary Swank was cast as Steve’s girlfriend Carly. She was fired mid-season. The rest is two-time Academy Award winning history.
Best & Worst Fashion – Donna
Over the course of a decade, Donna followed every 90s fashion trend. She wore clothes well, like the red & black sweater and short-shorts set she had on when she found out her mom was a big cheater. Or her low cut, yet tasteful (thanks to a cross) sparkly black prom dress. Sometimes the clothes wore her and showcased her insane boobs too much. But she always made an effort, however misguided.
Sexiest Man – Dylan
The late Luke Perry was as hot as he was talented. You can’t resist a bad boy with a lot of forehead.
Best Track from the Soundtrack – “Love Is”
The show came out with a soundtrack in 1992 filled with a bunch of great songs. Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight duetted on the beautiful ballad “Love Is”. It’s the track I like to play over and over again…and usually sing the Vanessa parts.
Best Musical Guest Stars – Color Me Badd
In “Things to Do on a Rainy Day”, Brenda, Kelly, Donna, and David run around the Bel Age Hotel trying to meet Color Me Badd, who are staying there. Hijinks ensue. At the end of the episode, the Badd guys serenade Donna with “I Adore”. It’s delightfully cheesy.
Best Musical Performance
In the “Wild Fire” episode, new girl Emily Valentine (Christine Elsie) sings “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” at the Hello Day talent show. Brenda, Kelly, and Donna assist with some mean lip synching and Robert Palmer backup dancer realness.
Dumbest Line – “I choose me”
Faced with a marriage proposal from Brandon and a trip around the world with Dylan, Kelly went with “I choose me”. Wrong choice, girl.
Most Character Growth – David
David started out as a skinny little geek in season 1 who was obsessed with girls and being popular. He grew up quickly (emotionally and physically) and became more secure with himself. Plus, he won over Donna and joined the group. There were dramatic lows, like his drug addiction and mental illness issues, but he overcame them. By the end of the show, David proved to be a good friend, brother, and partner.
Heart of the Show – Nat
Nat (Joe E. Tata), the owner of the Peach Pit, was like a second father to everyone in the group. He provided a shoulder to lean on and a delicious burger to eat.
Best Trip – Paris
In the summer episodes of season 3, Brenda and Donna traveled to Paris for a study abroad program. Brenda pretended to be French (complete with a bad accent) while being romanced by cute American tourist Rick (Dean Cain). Meanwhile, Donna tried her hand at modeling. That didn’t go far. The trip overall was a fun retreat from the usual Beverly Hills stories, plus the girls grew closer as friends.
Best Event – Spring Dance
At the end of season 1, the gang gathered together for West Beverly’s spring dance. Brenda and Kelly wore the same little black and white dress. Brenda did it better. Donna wore a ridiculous dress with a hoop skirt no less. Steve was a jerk because everyone forgot his birthday. Andrea nearly missed the whole thing. And Brenda and Dylan made love for the first time. It was a night to remember. Btw, the senior prom in season 3 is a very close second. Donna getting drunk and nearly getting tossed out of school will never get old. #DonnaMartinGraduates
Worst Event – Brandon & Kelly’s almost wedding
Viewers were prepared for longtime couple, Brandon and Kelly, to get married in the season 8 finale. They’d been through so many dramas and this was the natural next step. Instead, they both got cold feet and called it off. Wtf?? Not cool, show.
Best Season – Season 2
Fox was thinking out of the box when they started airing the second season in the summer. Kids at home had nothing else to watch and quickly latched onto the fledging show, making it a hit. Brenda and Dylan’s drama took center stage. She had a pregnancy scare and they broke up (in Dylan’s vintage Porsche while R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” played). Meanwhile, Brandon diched his job at the Peach Pit for a run as a cabana boy at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. To remind you, Beverly Hills is landlocked. How did we not question this alleged beach? When school started, we met wild girl Emily, who introduced us to U4EA. Scott (Douglas Emerson), David’s former best friend, accidentally killed himself. Everybody was talking about sex. David’s dad Mel (Matthew Laurence) and Kelly’s mom Jackie (Ann Gillespie) got together. Jim and Dylan waged WWIII with Brenda stuck in the middle. And Kelly had a brief romance with older man Jake Hanson (Grant Show). A handyman who lived over on Melrose Place.
Worst Season – Seasons 9 & 10
One thing is clear, 90210 stayed too late at the party. The show could have ended with the gang graduating from college in season 7. Or with Brandon and Kelly’s wedding in season 8 (if they hadn’t called it off). But instead they dragged it out for 9 and 10. Brandon left town, leaving no Walshes in Casa Walsh. There was too much focus on newer characters like Gina, Noah (Vincent Young) and Matt (Daniel Cosgrove). Eternal playboy Steve suddenly married his girlfriend Janet (Lindsay Price) and had a kid. Donna developed a pill addiction. Kelly was raped. Yes, Dylan came back, but he was on yet another booze spiral. Nothing was really clicking in those last two years. The show lost its spark.
Best Moment from the Series Finale – Donna & David’s Wedding
As mentioned above, by the time we got to season 10 it was REALLY time to end things. But it was still a sad moment. I was going to miss this show that I grew up with. In the final moments, soulmates David and Donna got married. Their friends and family gathered on the dance floor to dance to Kool and the Gang’s “Celebration”. It was a bittersweet moment.
Ryan Murphy’s latest project, Hollywood, concentrates on the infamous movie industry town in the post-WWII 1940s. But this isn’t a straight up version of what happened back then. Instead, Murphy takes a detour and imagines “what if”. What if a black woman could have been the lead in a major motion picture? What if a woman ran the studio? Or what if a gay man was able to come out and still have a career?
A variety of characters bring this vision to life. Jack Costello (David Corenswet) is an actor who dreams of making it big in the movies. Unfortunately, he can’t get work and needs to support his family. That leads him to Ernie (Dylan McDermott) a colorful character who runs a gas station that is front for a prostitution ring. The attendants are all hot guys who fulfill the needs of customers looking to go to “Dreamland”. Jack’s first client is Avis (Patti Lupone), a former actress who is neglected by her brash studio boss husband, Ace (Rob Reiner). We also meet longtime Ace Studio executives Dick (Joe Mantello) and Ellen (Holland Taylor). Then there’s black aspiring ingenue Camille (Laura Harrier), her Filipino director boyfriend Raymond (Darren Criss), and Archie (Jeremy Pope), a gay black screenwriter. The show also includes real people from the era. Anna May Wong (Michelle Krusiec) was an Asian actress who never got the chance to break out of the stereotypical roles Hollywood put her in. Murphy seeks to rectify that. Henry Wilson (Jim Parsons) was one of the slimiest talent managers in town. He sexually abused his clients, young men who trusted him with their careers. Parsons is fantastic at playing this reptilian character. Henry’s most famous client was debonair matinee idol Rock Hudson (Jake Picking). I’m a big Hudson fan, but this particular portrayal is horrible. He’s written as a clueless buffoon, stumbling in every scene. It’s a weird choice.
After the first few episodes, the new reality begins. Ace has a heart attack and is sidelined in the hospital. This allows Avis to step in and run the studio. She greenlights Meg, a film directed by Raymond, written by Archie, and starring Camille. None of these people would have been able to reach these goals in the actual 1940s, but in Murphy’s world all of the “others” can finally win. It’s an exciting concept to push aside the old straight white men and let someone else have the power. The problem I found, though, was the execution. Murphy hits us over the head with how monumental these fictional events would have been. Think of what it would have meant to a little black girl to see Camille on the big screen. And then he cuts to that girl. The same thing is done with a black gay man and an Asian family reacting to Archie and Anna’s successes. He doesn’t just show us, but also continually puts it in the dialogue. You can only hear people go on and on about their previously unattainable dreams before it begins to sound trite. I get it, this is a big deal. The other thing is that these triumphs are reached with very little pushback. It comes too easy, eliminating any tension in the plot.
On the plus side, the production is gorgeous. Murphy and crew meticulously recreate the decade through the sets, costumes, and music. Lupone’s hats deserve their own special Emmy. The younger actors are very charismatic, particularly Costello and Pope. I also liked the inclusion of the veteran actors who get to do a lot of heavy lifting. Seeing Mantello, Holland, McDermott, and Lupone in scenes together is captivating. I only wish that the story matched the strength of the other elements in the series.
Yesterday it was announced that actor Roscoe Born had passed away. He was known for his roles on soap operas like One Life to Live, Ryan’s Hope, Days of Our Lives, and The Young and the Restless. Being an OLTL fan, I remember him as the villainous Mitch Laurence. I missed his first run in the 80s, but caught him when Mitch returned from the dead (wouldn’t be the last time) in 2002. Mitch lied, cheated, blackmailed, kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered his way through Llanview. At one point he started a cult and called himself The Messenger, seducing followers into doing his bidding. He really was a son of a bitch. Yet, he was very entertaining. The success of the character was because of Born. He was an incredible actor that made you love to hate Mitch as opposed to plain despising the guy. Of course, you wanted the heroes to win, but you enjoyed seeing Mitch torture them a bit. It takes a smart charismatic actor to pull that off. It helped that he was quite handsome and had a delicious voice. I’m glad I got to see Born in one of his defining roles. He’ll be missed.