Friday, March 07, 2003


For you kids going out to party this weekend, take a jacket in case you get cold, always use protection, and remember not to overdose.

James Gandolfini is suing HBO in an effort to get a raise. It seems out of character to me. I mean, Tony Soprano wouldn't resort to a lawsuit, he would take matters into his own hands. This scares me though. I really need to see one last season of "The Sopranos." Unlike many critics, both professional and casual, I thought this past season was excellent. Will Tony and Carmela really get a divorce? Please, James and HBO, settle this thing amicably and cap this great show off with a season for the ages.


Wouldn't ya like to be a Piker too?

Hello fellow Piker. My name is Johny Piker. I was very excited to stumble across you blog as I am conducting a genealogical study on the Piker family clan. Maybe you know this already, but the name Piker comes from Pike, a Native American tribe from Eastern Missouri (currently Pike county) and our ancestors were a mix of Pike tribe members and French colonialists who settled in the area prior to the Louisianna Purchase.

I am writing you because you might be a long lost Piker clan member and would therefore be very important to my work.

Please call or email me as I am very anxious to speak with you. Hopefully, we can reconnect you with your roots.


Johny Piker

Thursday, March 06, 2003


Folks, if you could bear with me just a little longer... I know it's been a long day, but if you'll follow me once more into the Salon, we have a fine selection of lovely desserts, some port wine, and an outstanding review of the "Matisse Picasso" exhibit at the MoMA in NYC that actually inspires me to go see some art. Tell me, doesn't that self-portrait of Matisse look a lot like Ken Layne?


One of my favorite filmmakers is making another comedy. David O. Russell, director of "Spanking the Monkey," "Flirting With Disaster," and "Three Kings," is at it again. This time he's taking on existentialism in a movie tentatively titled "I Love Huckabee's". Check out that cast!


Every year I get hooked after watching about a minute and a half of the Scipps Howard National Spelling Bee. I love the poise and personality some of the kids show. The one spelling bee I remember participating in, I got ousted on the word "beautiful," after failing to include the "a." Needless to say, I never spelled it wrong again. When I first heard about the documentary "Spellbound," which follows eight kids on their quest to make it to the national finals, I was really amped to see it. Then I forgot about it. Today I was reminded of it again by David Poland in his Oscar Column for Movie City News. Of course, now I'm beyond amped -- I'm stoked to see it.

Piker's favorite TV critic braved the "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" marathon and lived to write about it. Once again, please follow me into the Salon. Watch your step and keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.

It's rush week for the Mile High Club. Some doubted it would ever happen, but Hooters Air has taken flight, "servicing" a clientele made up mostly of southern gentlemen golfers on their maiden voyage from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach. Hookers Air can't be far behind.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003


HBO is back in the Jack Black business. The premium channel continues to get in bed with the most talented people around. You would think that somewhere somehow another network would take a cue from Home Box Office and offer complete creative freedom to showrunners and writers with vision.

Jack Black is one of the funniest guys around, and now he's really busy too. JB is teaming with Will Ferrell on a film comedy for New Line Cinema, which besides being my occassional employer is also the studio producing the Tenacious D project. If that weren't enough, JB is also co-starring with Ben Stiller in "Envy", a big summer movie directed by Barry Levinson, and "The School of Rock" for "Dazed and Confused" helmer Richard Linklater, which will be coming out in the fall.

My only fear is that with all of these projects scattered around town, Jack Black will become overexposed to the public at large. However, on a personal level, I'm not too concerned because I think he's hysterical and I'll see just about anything he's in. The more JB the merrier.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003


I had one of the best meals of my life last night with one of my best friends in the whole wide world. D-Laz was in town for business and treated me to a night at Matsuhisa, Nobu's original restaurant. It was surprisingly easy to get a reservation. Apparently, Mondays are the way to go if you just want to eat the delicious food and not concern yourself with the star-studded crowd. We ate five mouth-watering courses of delicacies -- Toro Tartare, Kobe Beef, Rock Schimp, Scallops, and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalepeno -- and drank cold sake. I felt like a king.

The Daver and his lovely wife Meg have one of those adorable brand-new babies. Tell me this kid isn't cute. Go ahead. I dare you.


Six Feet Under is back to take its rightful place at the apex of television. I've heard a lot of grumbling that people weren't so keen on the season premiere. I thought it was an excellent episode that expertly lays the groundwork for what I'm sure will be another phenomenal season. I'd like to think that I have some insight into the show, but for a true in-depth take on the pride of TV, kindly make your way into the Salon.


Langerado, the music festival taking its name from one of my screen monikers, put on by my brother's best friend, born out of a company they formed together called South Florida Jams, is going off this weekend. The list of bands reads like a who's who of the jamband world and the event is sure to be something that South Florida has never experienced before. I'm proud of my brother and his best friend for believing in something and building a scene in true grassroots tradition. Kudos.






Monday, March 03, 2003


As Frank the Tank (Will Ferrell) said to his wife at the end of a conversation after a funeral in which she asked for a divorce... "Good stuff." There's lots of good stuff in "Old School", which I saw this weekend with My Girl, The Rats, and My Film Geek Friend. We all laughed a lot and had a good time, but as is the case with most film comedies, most of the "good stuff" comes in the first two thirds of the movie. Overall, it's a pretty funny movie. I would say the funniest since "Rat Race". But, with a big brother like "Animal House" to look up to, "Old School" could have and should have been a lot better. It seemed like they could have been more playful with a bunch of the material, both on the page and on the set. In particular, I was disappointed by the gymnastics competition at the end. Will Ferrell's floor exercise was funny, but it seemed restrained and too short. Vince Vaughn hanging on the rings with a cigarette dangling from his lip was a funny visual from the trailer, but it didn't go beyond that. The scene built to the fat fraternity pledge completing a successful vault, but it was nothing. It wasn't a laugh and it wasn't satisfying. The entire sequence felt rushed. In theory, I don't think it's a bad idea to push the movie in the direction of a fraternity competition, but where is the climactic party scene? How could they not throw a bash in the dethroned dean's residence?

Ellen Pompeo is something special. She sparkled on the screen. She's adorable. But, why wasn't the relationship story worked into the main fraternity arc. It was like a B story that grazed but never quite intersected with the A story. And then she conveniently comes to him at the end, after he's decided to leave the frat life behind, and after she's discovered -- off screen! -- that Craig Kilborn is a prick. I could have told her that after watching one segment of his crappy late-night show. Another subplot which went nowhere fast was Luke Wilson sleeping with the high school girl who turns out to be the daughter of his boss. Where were the stakes in that story? His boss never found out about it, and when push came to shove, Luke stood up to him and told him what was what and where to go, but we never even saw him kowtow to his boss in the first place. No logic. No payoff. No punchline.

Having said all that, I thought there were a lot of strong laughs. Both the casting and the use of music were outstanding. The big party scene and the fraternity rush scene both contained a lot of fun energy and were paced well. The birthday party scene in which Will Ferrell shoots himself in the neck with the tranquilizer gun was hysterical. As was Will Ferrell streaking naked through the streets. His level of committment to comedy is astounding and I really enjoyed seeing him let loose on the big screen. Vince Vaughn was excellent in a part written extremely well for him. This was the best he's come off in a movie since "Swingers". Even as a straight man, Luke Wilson could have been funnier, but he's likable and he didn't hurt the movie. Jeremy Piven as the villian was so-so. His part wasn't written that funny and he didn't seem to find anything to really play with. Had the antagonist role been stronger, I think the main trio would have had to elevate their collective game to another level to defeat him and the plot would have been strengthened. All in all, though, I was pretty satisfied. I've learned to sufficiently lower my expectations in the third act of film comedies. Rarely does a silly comedy build to a third act punchline that is actually funnier than the setup. I laughed enough in the first two thirds of the thing to walk out of the theater thinking it was a funny movie that I would recommend. But, with a more sure-handed presence guiding the comedy, "Old School" could have been one for the ages.

Of course, as soon as I go bitching about the lack of exciting news in the world, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks is captured.

I do love the photo of that bastard on the front of every newspaper in America. Clearly, he's not a morning person. I can just imagine him complaining about his picture in the paper -- "Why couldn't you use the one of me as the sheik? I look so dashing in that one, with the headpiece and the full beard and those cool ass tinted shades. What about the headshot? For allah's sake, you couldn't just use my headshot?!"