Tuesday, August 21, 2007

On the Lot: The End

The blessed day is here. ON THE LOT'S finale has arrived, although the celebratory atmosphere is more like a wake than most season finales. Jason gets a dap from Jerry O'Connell on the way into the auditorium, which has to be as good as an anointing, doesn't it? Stay tuned!

Host Adrianna Costa idenifies this as the season finale, but who are her writers trying to fool? This has to be the series finale, right? RIGHT? Anyway, the red carpet and the shade of Adrianna's dress are a perfect match. Nice job!

After a very brief Q&A with the eliminated contestants expressing their gratitude for being on the show, it's time for some bloopers that aren't funny.

Adrianna gives props to the show theme's composers. Their work earned an Emmy nomination. Here's an abject lesson in why award nominations and wins trumpeted in ads don't mean a thing. Now this is the Emmy-nominated ON THE LOT. No disrespect to the composers, but God forbid this becomes the Emmy-winning ON THE LOT. No statuette can make this show golden.

The final three are asked to name their favorite films from the knocked out finalists. Poor Zach gets dragged on stage to talk about the short Adam picked. Zach certainly seemed like a favorite on the show, and it has to be eating him to be in this position. Will cites Hilary's writing in selecting her sperm bank heist comedy. Have mercy. That ought to get him eliminated on the spot.

Ugh, not quite halfway through this... Jason picks Mateen's action film as his favorite. Then we get a package about the actors, except it's really about them kissing up to the directors. The show kept them working through the summer, so who can begrudge them some professional sycophancy?

You have to love the way ON THE LOT has worked to spin every negative development as a positive for this tailspinning series. Adrianna informs us that internet voting wasn't able to take place last week because of a "severe technical issue", but toll-free and text voting increased 60% over their previous record-breaking week. If so, tens of people made their opinions known!

All right, enough with all the funny business...who won? Adam?! Oh wait, it's that infuriating AMERICAN IDOL trick of "so-and-so...you are not the winner". They have to drag this out another seventeen minutes minus commercials, so what else can they do? OK, seriously, the million dollar movie deal at DreamWorks goes to...one of these guys after the break. It doesn't look like Spielberg will be there to congratulate the winner, though. Why would he want to distance himself from this?

Oh wait, maybe something's changed. We're back from the break with the announcer solemnly telling us the winner will be revealed by...the host of the show. Blah, blah, blah. Cut to the chase. Will wins! The puppy doesn't die, America! Oops, I must have imagined he threatened that last week. It's just his dream that would have been killed if he lost.

I find it hysterically funny how Adrianna called Will the winner of ON THE LOT 2007, as though there will be a successor next year. You know, I'm starting to get scared that Fox might bring this back next summer.

Following the final commercial break Will talks on the ride to the DreamWorks lot to meet Steven Spielberg. This show is supposed to be live, but they wouldn't have shot this portion ahead of time, would they? (It would appear so. In the end credits: "portions of the program not affecting the outcome of the competition have been pre-recorded and edited". I don't think they're talking about the recap packages.) And then the moment we've all been waiting for...the show is over. I mean, Spielberg strolls out the front gate to greet Will.

And that, dedicated readers, is that. As dreadful as this show was, I've enjoyed blogging about it each week...most of the time. Perhaps I'll try to do the same thing for one series when the new TV season begins. I'm also kicking around some other ideas to up the content on this blog, something which took a hit the last couple months with my TV show being on hiatus while the station gets set up at a new location.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On the Lot: two episodes for the price of one

Catching up on ON THE LOT after a week out of town on vacation...

The August 7 show's opening tease gives away who will be eliminated. Which director do we not see prepping a film for tonight's episode? The result: previously presumed favorite Zach, who came close to being knocked out the week before, is sent packing. The other directors try to look sad about him leaving, but you know they're jumping up and down on the inside since Zach was the one they thought would win.

Tonight's films are based on the winning entry in America's logline challenge: a man wakes up and finds himself in a dress but can't remember what happened the night before. Apparently the creativity of those watching the show matches that of those on it.

Will's THE YES MEN is a major departure for him. Dialogue! In the intro package he compares it to the Coen brothers. You can see the influence, although the film only pulled a couple chuckles from me. Since I'm not cheating by looking at tonight's currently airing episode, I'm going to bet this will be good enough to advance him.

Sam admits beforehand that he believes either he or Adam will go home from their efforts this week. His DRESS FOR SUCCESS is a SAW parody/female revenge comedy. Umm. Err. Uh. It's different. If he wanted to stick around, he should have made something funnier. He never finds a tone that makes it work, probably because he works far too hard and long to set it up.

Those musical bumpers are going longer and longer. As the directors dwindle the producers struggle to fill an hour. Oh, here's a package that reveals--surprise!--the remaining contestants want to win. Also, kittens and puppies are cute.

Adam's ARMY GUY has some David Lynch flourishes with it's lack of context for why the soldier in the dress keeps having the women asking to marry him while he chases his Russian nemesis. Does America like surreal? The twist isn't half bad, but like so many of the films on this show, I've lost my patience and interest by the time it arrives. If it is between him and Sam, I'm certain Adam will be back.

Jason's OH, BOY. sort of uses a SAW-like premise, except the man dressed as a ballerina has a bomb strapped to him and is in someone's front yard. Most weeks I haven't liked his films, and this one is no exception. That being said, he has an identifiable viewpoint in his films, something Adam and Sam don't have. Will's chameleon-like ability is what amounts to a distinct style.

Adam's film wins the top approval of all three judges, so I expect to see him advancing when I begin watching tonight's episode in a few minutes. Unless I missed something, there was no pseudo-car commercial film tonight. Did Ford decide their ad dollars could be better spent elsewhere?

Ugh, what a bad show.

All right, it's time for tonight's show. Adrianna Costa is dressed less provocatively than she's been the last couple weeks. Apparently cleavage isn't classy for the two-part season finale. Speaking of clothes, Kentucky boy Jason is wearing an Ale-8-One t-shirt. I'm mildly obsessed with "Kentucky's soft drink", so this is pretty wild to see.

OK, down to business... Sam is the director going home, which comes as a shock to no one. The judges had the harshest criticism for his film last week.

Adrianna explains the challenge for the final week...which is that they should pick their two best films to show and be judged on them?! Can ON THE LOT get any dumber? Look, one more new film isn't likely to change the opinion of anyone who cares enough to vote, but why bother having them select from their body of work? The show's website has all the films, so it's not like the viewing public can't take them into account. If anything, it makes this episode even more irrelevant. Could this be a sign that there was no desire to sink more cash into this money pit?

Maybe I should be thankful. With no new films, I can fly through this episode. For me the only drama left in ON THE LOT is whether Steven Spielberg will show up to congratulate the winner next week. This reality TV show is not his proudest moment.

Jason drew first for tonight's screening order. Blah, blah, blah. Does it matter? Jason picked ETERNAL WATERS and SWEET to represent him. He chose wisely. SWEET was easily his best film and probably one of the best during the show's run. It's heartfelt and relatable, qualities lacking from most of what the directors have churned out. He's playing the aw-shucks-I'm-just-a-simple-guy-from-Kentucky card. Will is probably grinding his teeth into dust since that's his ploy. Never fear, though. I'm sure he'll work the angle about having to give up on his dream and support his family if he doesn't win.

Will selects his bookend films. GLASS EYE, which sounds as though it was made before the show, and THE YES MEN, his last short for ON THE LOT, are plucked from his oeuvre for the masses determining his fate.

Adam goes the same route with his pre-show submission, DOUGH: THE MUSICAL, and his last, ARMY GUY. Adam essentially confirmed what was suspected. We did get films made outside of the show's process.

Of the three finalists, Will is most likely to turn out a feature I might want to see. Jason is most likely to be an auteur with supporters and detractors. Adam could be the anonymous career director. Carrie picks Will as her favorite. Garry sides with Jason. Considering my surprise at him not only surviving the first voting elimination but earning the most votes, I expect Jason will win. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I have no idea why my review was selected for the link, but this Guardian Unlimited Arts Blog entry by Peter Bradshaw points to my review of ZIDANE, A 21ST-CENTURY PORTRAIT. Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have many to pick from. My take on the film isn't positive. Whatever the reasoning, I'm glad to get the link.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

On the Lot: road week

It's road week on ON THE LOT. Out of the gate we learn that Andrew will hit it, Zach almost gets sideswiped by the viewing public's votes, and Jason cruises to the pole position, which earns a ride-along with Jerry O'Connell.

If you can make judgments by what little we know of the results, Jason should be the odds-on favorite to win. (His GETTA RHOOM mystifyingly landed in the top three in the show's early days.) Then again, there's no way of knowing who the public likes because typically all we've learned is who is voted off. For as much dead time structured in the show, you'd think that they would announce who got the most votes and give that director's film an encore.

I expected Zach's short to play well, but since everyone else is utilizing special effects, maybe he's lost his early edge. Computers have democratized FX work to a certain extent--anybody can do it with a little knowledge--meaning that Zach's output doesn't stand out like it did when their submission films were airing.

But enough theorizing...

Adam's DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE features a car radio that makes people dance against their will. So he got the embedded ad assignment this week. He's done this musical/dance thing before, and it feels like been there-done that. It ends on an off note, mainly because I don't think he knew where to end it. Ambitious? I suppose. Interesting? Eh.

Wow, they're really showcasing host Adrianna Costa's breasts tonight. (Sorry searchers, I still can't direct you to any dirty videos you're looking for. Apparently I have the right combination of words to fool the search engines and bring you here.)

Sam's BACKSEAT DRIVING TEST gets points for having a novel concept, which is about the best thing that can be said for these films every week. That was true for his last film, his wedding invitation stamps comedy, although the execution wasn't that hot. Here a backseat driver mother gets her comeuppance. It's not bad. Lin Shaye, part of the show's repertory cast, plays the nagging mother, so he paired the role and actor well. That begs the question of how the directors choose their actors. Is it a fantasy sports-like draft? The behind-the-scenes aspect of this show has to be more interesting than the films.

Zach's BONUS FEATURE TWO is a sequel to the film that almost got him eliminated, and it's a weird effort. The guy has talent, but I'm not sure his strength is screenwriting. His young lovers end up among pirates, a bad sword fight ensues, he gets all meta in his humor with a joke about the soundtrack, and he ends on a CASABLANCA quote. The judges, including Penny Marshall filling in for brother Garry, seem to like it better than his previous film. I don't get it.

Jason keeps the motivation hidden in THE MOVE until the very end. I actually sort of liked it even if it doesn't make the most sense. If we're giving credit for originality and somewhat relatable material--hey, I'm grasping at straws--then I'll pass him. I can't say that Jerry O'Connell gave him any advantage unless people remember the film because of his presence.

Will's ROAD RAGE 101 about a car that gets revenge on its abusive driver has some nice touches. I particularly liked the angry car's stereo display turning red. The car doesn't "fight back" as much as I expected or was needed, but it's hard to dislike the film or the mugging-for-the-camera director. Or maybe I'm a sucker for anything with Satie's Gymnopédie No. 1.

The winning entry in America's logline challenge is about a man who wakes up in a dress but can't remember what happened the night before. The remaining directors will have to use this as the basis for their next films. Oh boy.

Hey, wait a minute! What's this about the finale being on a new day--August 21? I thought we only had to suffer through two more of these? Maybe they're skipping a week. Knowing this show's haphazard production, someone didn't do their math properly.

The ON THE LOT site now hosts full episodes, which means that it's possible for me to keep up with the show while I'm on the road next week. Don't count on it happening, especially since installing a plug-in is required.