Flogging the pantomime horse he rode in on, founding Monty Python member Eric Idle continues down the path of avarice that he most recently descended in “Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python” (his stage revue of the Python musical oeuvre) with a new Broadway-bound production of Spamalot — a musical redux of classic Brit-flick Monty Python & The Holy Grail.
The latest to join the cast of Idle’s idyll is Frasier star David Hyde Pierce who will trod the floorboards as Brave Sir Robin (the role originated by Idle). Rocky Horror Picture Show alumnus Tim Curry (the sweet transvestite from Transylvania-ah-ah) will don deceased Python Graham Chapman’s crown as King Arthur becoming the only Arthur capable of swallowing Excalibur.
As with Jerry Bruckheimer’s recently released King Arthur (starring Clive “I ain’t Bond” Owen), Idle’s source material, The Holy Grail, lacks a sword-and-stone scene, hasn’t much of a Merlin, and is missing the adulterous love-triangle-betrayal that historically resulted in Lancelot’s also getting poked. Let’s hope that Idle at least picks up a Guinevere this time around (Washington Post critic Stephen Hunter described Keira Knightley’s performance in Bruckheimer?s film as a “blood-drenched pagan Tinker Bell,” in other words, this reporter’s perfect woman).
No word from Hormel Foods, owner of the SPAM brand of canned meat, from which Idle takes his title by way of Camelot and the famed Python sketch in which Vikings croon “Spam, spam, spam, spam,” ad infinitum. The latter inspired nascent internet users to analogize the sketch and unsolicited e-mails. Hence spam. (read Hormel Foods official policy statement “SPAM and the Internet.”
Spamelot opens in December capping a jolly good year for Python fans, who regaled their Judeo-Christian paean to martyrdom The Life of Brian when it was pointedly re-released this year — on the bloody heels of The Passion of the Christ.
Method-man Marlon Brando once remarked, “I don’t want to spread the peanut butter of my personality on the moldy bread of the commercial press.” Following his death from lung failure at age 80 last week, Brando has been slathered, smeared and generally spread thin throughout the press, commercial and otherwise. Those responsible include everyone from celebrities simpering impromptu eulogies into E! Entertainment microphones to President George W. Bush unoriginally declaiming “With the passing of Marlon Brando, America has lost a great actor of the stage and screen.”
This reporter submits seminal Los Angeles punk act The Dickies’ “Stuck In a Condo With Marlon Brando” as a contender for a truly plus-size tribute to the wild one. The track, penned by members Leonard Graves Phillips and Stan Lee, was featured on the band’s 1995 release “Idjit Savant” and highlights key moments in the actor’s professional and personal life.
In a sly reference to “Last Tango in Paris,” the song opens with “I’m stuck inside a condo with Mr. Marlon Brando / He tells me, Get the butter, sounds just like my mother…” Later, detailing Brando’s myriad family foibles, the lyric continues “He wasn’t nice to Connie / His son, he shot somebody /For messin’ with his daughter / Just like the Godfather…”
As for Brando’s celebrated girth, the band observes “Well, I saw him in a movie / He used to be so groovy / Now he’s eating mashed potatoes /He’s a human Winnebago…”
This is topped by guitarist Lee’s agile vamp of The Godfather Waltz melody as a solo. The horror.
Boldly going where no man should ever go again, producers of UPN’s Star Trek:Enterprise are beaming up William Shatner to reprise his role as Capt. James T. Kirk in an apparent effort to aggravate their writing staff. The challenge they face is shoe-horning the septuagenarian actor into a show that is a PREQUEL to the original Star Trek, which aired when he was a spry 34. Expect a patch like “Kirk, there’s been a rip in the space-time continuum ? the only hope you have of returning to your own era is to impregnate someone in the present and become your own grandfather in the future.” Seen it.
Shatner’s portrayal of the swaggering Capt. Kirk has endured countless potshots through the years (the ubiquity of Shatner/Kirk impersonations has only recently given way to the deluge of Christopher Walken impressions), but even detractors must concede the role and the man represent something of a mind-meld. Shatner’s other culturual contributions, including a spoken-word rendition of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (voted “worst Beatles cover ever” in a Music Choice poll last year), and the cult horror film Incubus (which remains the only feature film to have its dialogue performed entirely in the ill-fated “international” language of Esperanto), however, have not fared as well. Incidentally, nor did Capt. Kirk’s predecessor, Capt. Christopher Pike who appeared in Star Trek’s 1965 pilot episode in lieu of the Kirk character. Forever banished to the realm of Trekker trivia, erstwhile actor Jeffrey Hunter is said to have turned down an option to continue his role in the lucrative franchise, opting instead to star in the long-forgotten Dimension 5 as a secret agent trying to foil a plan by Chinese operatives to build an A-bomb in Los Angeles. Choose one: royalty check or reality check? Hmm.
Groping for the golden fleece woven by My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the Cohen Brother’s recent redux of Homer’s Odyssey, Irish auteur and “chix with dicks” avatar Neil Jordan (think: the Crying Game) has also gone Greek. Teamed with producer Uberto “The Full Monty” Pasolioni, Jordan will direct The Return, about the homecoming of Odysseus to his island kingdom of Ithaca after the Trojan War. Disguised as a vagrant, Odysseus returns home having left for Troy some 20 years prior to find his “faithful” wife Penelope entertaining a raft of would-be widow-wooers. Suffering a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder (perfectly understandable given his tangles with Sirens, the six headed Scylla and the monster Charybdis), Odysseus drops his vagabond act and proceeds to slaughter Penelope’s boyfriends. The family pic is set to bow in 2004.
Variety reports that Oscar-winning filmmakers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment will make a feature documentary on the cultural impact of the 1972 theatrically released porn film Deep Throat. Beyond exploring the obvious cultural impact of sticky theater floors, directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato will add to their swelling repertoire of similarly-themed films, (Monica Lewinsky in Black and White) by chronicling the exploits of porn star cum anti-porn crusader Linda Lovelace who died in an April 2002 car crash, possibly do insufficient head room. At $25,000 Deep Throat is still considered the most profitable film ever, having grossed around $600 million. In dating terms, that same cost-benefit ratio would be the equivalent of throwing a penny at a girl’s window and getting blowjobs for the rest of your life. “You might say that Deep Throat was the film that started the independent film movement,” Bailey said. He’s right, independent filmmakers remain on their knees to this day.
George Lucas, the Dark Lord of Marin County, says that when he concludes the utter destruction of his once exemplary legacy with the final installment of the Star Wars prequels, he intends to make “more personal” films. Sure not to conflate “personal” with original (i.e., Hidden Fortress, Lensmen), Lucas says, “I’m going to make a bunch of movies like THX,” referring to his 1971 knock-off of Orwell’s 1984. “If people don’t like it, too bad,” he said, biting the thousands of pre-adolescent hands that have fed his multi-million dollar empire. “I’m going to go from complete success to complete failure,” he adds, blissfully unaware that a $100 million grossing piece of shit is still a piece of shit.