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Celebrity guest blogger Michael Showalter: Those nasty British judges

Ms_l_2This is the second post of Michael Showalter’s stint today as PopWatch’s celebrity guest blogger. Keep checking back throughout the day for more from the funnyman.

Why can’t the "snarky/shoots-straight-from-the hip/insults people judge" on these reality shows ever be an American? Just because Simon is a Brit doesn’t mean they ALL need to be Brits. The snarky judge on Next Great American Band is, like, Tasmanian, or Welsh, or something. His name is "Stinko." I’m getting all my details wrong and it would take five seconds to Google the show and find out the truth but I prefer to think he’s Tasmanian and named Stinko. (For what it’s worth his name is "Dicko" and he’s Australian. I Googled it.) Still, as far as most Americans are concerned, Australian IS British. As long as they sound like they could be in a Merchant/Ivory movie we think they’re Brits.

There’s a snarky British judge on America’s Got Talent, too. He shoots from the hip. "Those Brits really shoot from the hip." I think that it’s been decided that Americans aren’t allowed to be honest with each other or we’ll get pissed at them.

The producers of these shows have figured out that non-Americans can be really mean to the contestants and no one will get upset. Like, Paula and Randy can’t say what they REALLY think or else they’re unpatriotic, but Simon can say whatever he wants. Same thing with Dicko. He tells it like he sees it. He called one of the singers on the show an "emo leprechaun." I thought that was brilliant but it saddened me that Sheila E. and the guy from the Goo Goo Dolls would have been booed lustily if they’d said it. In fact, the Goo Goo Dolls guy gets booed everytime he opens his mouth, but when it’s Dicko’s turn to speak you could hear a pin drop. We’ve been trained to get quiet when the Brit speaks on these shows as if his accent alone signifies something very important. "Ssh. The British judge is about to talk. I want to hear what he has to say. It’s going to be more important than what the other judges are saying."

But why? It’s got to have something to do with the American Revolution. It’s like, 300 years later, and we still feel kinda dumb around a British person. Yeah, we have more bombs than they do, and we’re better at sports but they sound much smarter when they talk. Who knows? Maybe it’s got nothing to do with the Brits at all. Maybe it’s because Americans are afraid of each other. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of ever saying the wrong thing. Maybe it’s less about them and more about us.

addCredit(“Michael Showalter: Jim Spellman/WireImage.com”)

Pop Chart Love Lessons

Timbaland_lIf there’s anything I’ve learned from today’s chart-topping music, it’s that love isn’t easy. Especially being in love with you. Being in love with you is just plain god-awful. Ask Rihanna. She hates that she loves you, that’s how miserable you are. Bet you thought being in love was all sunshine and candy necklaces and picnic lunches and butterflies. But guess what?

Being in love with you sucks.

Good Charlotte couldn’t agree more. They’ve in love with you, but it’s become so tedious that they’re throwing fist pumps and screaming how much they Don’t Wanna Be in Love with you anymore. Not to mention the fact that Daughtry’s Over You, when you had no idea he was even interested. Meanwhile, OneRepublic keeps blathering on about how it’s too late to Apologize, not that you were planning on groveling anyway. Then there’s Maroon 5. Oh, they could have loved you, all you had to do was ask, but then you slept with that other guy, so they had to shoot him. Shoot him dead. As far as Wake Up Calls go, I’d say that’s a pretty poignant message. Loving you doesn’t take patience and understanding, all it takes is good aim.

But don’t worry, not all of today’s artists have given up on love. 50 Cent is interested in initiating a relationship via the Internet, and when he’s tired of using technology, you’re invited to sit down on top of him. Can I get an Ayo for online dating? Of course, if that doesn’t work out, give Timbaland (pictured) a call. He likes you juuust the way you is. But so we’re clear, he will not be buying you expensive things, he has some unresolved credit debt, you should be prepared to use public transportation, flowers are out of the question, and correct grammar is optional. He will, however, strip for you. Free of charge. His body, your gift. You might even be his soulmate. With Timbaland, love is free! For him, for you not so much. At least he’s lucid. Justin’s so Lovestoned that he can’t decide what he wants more, your smokin’ body or that bag of Munchos.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress

Dress_lWhen on Monday night’s episode of The Hills Lauren Conrad announced that she had the perfect dress she’s been holding "on reserve" for her next Amy Astley meeting, what fashionista wasn’t foaming at the mouth to see the couture creation she’d pull out? Imagine our surprise when the Teen Vogue-r didn’t show up in an LC Original, or something terribly exclusive, but the same form-fitting Black Halo dress (pictured, top right) that has steadily been making its way across the viewing week. First Amanda sported it in Season 1 of Ugly Betty (left), then Susan Meyer crashed a funeral in it on Desperate Housewives (bottom right). (It’s also made a slew of red carpet showings, pretty much whenever celebs like Kelly Ripa and Jenny McCarthy want to rock the sexy secretary look.)

As for how much it helped Lauren Conrad with her best impersonation of a highly respectable bow tier, that depends on whether you thought Marc Jacobs left their meeting with a stifled giggle or grimace. Still, from Becki Newton to Teri Hatcher to LC? As they saying goes: One Dress to rule them all…

To 'douchebag' or not: that is the question

Douche_lHow many of you caught funnyguy Seth Rogen hosting Saturday Night Live this weekend? I thought one of the funniest skits was the "2007 National Douchebag Championships" (featuring SNL MVP Andy Samberg, pictured) but when I asked my colleague Nicholas Fonseca about it, he revealed he has major issues with the d-word. Here’s how our conversation went down over e-mail:

Lindsay: Dude, did you see the douchebag awards SNL sketch this past weekend — so so funny!
Nicholas: Oh! No, I haven’t had a chance to get through the show on my TiVo yet. Busy weekend. But hang on a second… did I just read that correctly? Lindsay, the d-word makes me break out in hives. It’s so uncomfortable. Did they really use it on Saturday night’s show? Oy, I might have to sit this one out, lest I require being hosed down with some industrial-strength calamine lotion. I can already feel my hands getting itchy as I type.
Lindsay: Really, itchy? It’s so commonplace on TV nowadays, I’m surprised you’re not used to it by now!
Nicholas: But when did this become acceptable? It’s used on SNL, it’s been heard on My Boys, and it’s a favorite on Family Guy. Like it or not, there are young kids watching all of those shows. Can you imagine being the parent who has to explain its meaning to an 8-year-old? Where do you even begin? Aughgh… see? I’m starting to feel not-so-fresh just typing about it.

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Viggo's Eastern Promise: More male nudity?

Viggo_lLots of tongues wagging this week about how Viggo Mortensen‘s naked knife fight in Eastern Promises heralds a new era of male full-frontal nudity on screen. (Exhibits B through D: Emile Hirsch’s nude scene in Into the Wild; Ang Lee’s NC-17-rated Lust, Caution, and over on HBO, that casually explicit handjob on Tell Me You Love Me.) But before you get too excited about this rising trend, remember that we hear similar talk every few years. Back in the early ’90s, indie dramas were showing us every inch of Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis, Jaye Davidson, and Harvey Keitel again. At the end of the decade, we were seeing a lot of Ewan McGregor, Kevin Bacon, and (in prosthetic form) Mark Wahlberg. Each time, however, the trend would deflate after a few movies, and there would be no penis talk for a long while.

Why the up-and-down cycles? It’s not the actors; every time I’ve interviewed an actor and the subject of full-frontal has popped up, they’ve all said they’d be willing if the script demanded it. So either the filmmakers are squeamish, or audiences are. (Or both.) It could be that we’re conditioned (by four decades of female nudity in mainstream films, not to mention the entire history of Western art) to view female nudity as beautiful and erotic and male nudity as awkward and ridiculous. (See Borat.) Will we become more comfortable watching actors go commando if filmmakers make it more commonplace? Are you eager, PopWatchers, to see your favorite actors in the altogether, or would you just as soon have them keep their packages wrapped?

Getting some kicks from Lily Allen

Lily_lRemember last winter, when Lily Allen was the universally acclaimed next big thing out of London? Somewhere along the way she seems to have gotten eclipsed, at least when it comes to mainstream buzz: These days it’s her fellow blighty songbird Amy Winehouse sticking around on the US pop charts, dominating the music-mag cover game, and nabbing nominations left and right. (For the record, I dig both of their recent albums and admit that it’s sorta dumb to pit them against each other, but if I have to choose, I’ll take Lily’s barbed wit over Amy’s self-immolating behavior any day.) Well, forget all that. Word just got out that Allen is putting her foot down, sprinting past the competition, taking one decisive step toward cultural dominance — in short, designing her own line of custom sneakers.

To the left you’ll find a sneak (ha) peek of Lily’s limited edition Nike Air Max 90s. They’re definitely eye-catchers. That red-white-and-blue color scheme (complete with white stars on the laces) feels more Uncle Sam than "LDN," but there’s no denying that this is some pretty spiffy footwear. And having Lily’s familiar lightning-bolt logo emblazoned on your person could come in handy. No more humming "Smile" when you run into a loathsome ex; next time, just point to your brand new Nikes. It’ll be like delivering one of Lily’s patented withering insults… with your feet.

Of course, Allen’s far from the first celeb to dip her toes into the custom shoes market. Jay-Z has his Reebok S.Carter line; the Smiths’ Johnny Marr, his sleek PF Flyers; hey, at this very moment I happen to be wearing a pair of clunky white Run Athletics kicks, authorized by Run-DMC’s Reverend Run. (They were a gift, I swear.) The list goes on and on. Yet somehow Allen feels like a far more appropriate shoe patron than any of those guys. Stylin’ sneaks are a key element in her signature look (which has also inspired a Lily Allen clothing line), even when she’s wearing a formal ballgown onstage. And who can forget the line in "Littlest Things" where she ruefully recalls a bygone love: "You’d take me out shopping and all we’d buy is trainers/As if we ever needed anything to entertain us." Now you, too, can go out with a special someone and buy lots of Lily’s trainers! ("Trainers" being Britspeak for "sneakers.") Point is, if any star is fit to ask fans to walk in his or her shoes, it’s Allen.

Would any of you try Lily’s sneakers on for size, PopWatchers? If not her, then which celeb’s shoes would you most like to lace up?

Getting religion with the iPhone

Iphone_l"Here’s your new life," said the Apple Store clerk, beatifically, handing me the little black bag with my hot-off-the-FedEx-truck new iPhone. The comment was supposed to warm my heart, but I felt a slight chill. I’d just been thinking in line about how waggish bloggers had long since dubbed the long-in-coming device "the Jesus Phone," so the clerk’s sendoff got me wondering what level of spiritual commitment I’d just made. I felt a little like Tom Cruise, finally graduating from the highest level of Scientology (and like I’d paid nearly as much for the privilege). When I ported over my old phone number from my previous carrier, would I also be automatically ported over from my previous religion?  My paranoia was compounded when I got home, activated the thing, hit the "weather" button on the opening interface, and for the longest time couldn’t find a way to bring up a forecast for any place other than "Cupertino." Perhaps, in the fine print about the two-year agreement, there’d been something about having to pack up one’s home and actually move onto the cult grounds.

As I walked out onto a crowded Colorado Blvd. in Old Town Pasadena, though, I felt nearly as enviable as Tom Cruise for a few fleeting moments. Now, back in the ’90s, I once bought a sporty lemon of a car after reading the assertion on a message board that with this automobile I would "have to beat the chicks off with a stick!" — an assertion I soon learned contained some margin of error, depending on the driver. (It was probably  a bad sign that I was taking advice from someone on the soon-to-be-defunct Prodigy dial-up service, and that the celebrity spokesman for my soon-to-be-defunct Eagle Talon was Greg Kinnear. I digress.) Believe me when I tell you, anyway, that with your new iPhone, you might actually require just such a mythical baton for protection, if by "chicks" we mean paunchy middle-aged guys named Phil. I did also get my share of attention from the coveted younger-female demo: Wandering into the 21 Choices Yogurt shop across the street from Pasadena’s Apple Store, I nearly managed to shut down service entirely as the entire line of 20-ish female employees stopped what they were doing to fawn over the shrinkwrapped box. Not since I’d gone out riding in a limo with Bono on Sunset Blvd. a decade and a half ago had I inspired quite so many jealous (maybe hatefully jealous) stares.

I would like to report that, once I got it home, the buyer’s remorse and backsliding set in — no Cupertino Kool-Aid drinkers here, no sir — and that I set my bank account aright by returning it (with a restocking fee) after my test run. But it is with some financial bittersweetness that I tell you I did learn how to change the weather setting to Los Angeles, and that, after 72 hours, I love the iPhone almost as much as life (not to be confused with iLife) itself. Which isn’t to say that I, like everyone else, didn’t find a drawback or three to drive me crazy. There’s a reason why "three and a half stars out of four" has become the default review.  For anyone considering making the leap, let me go through a few of the features, perhaps hitting some angles that some of the more tech-oriented reviews might have skipped. (And I am certifiably a non-techie; my only previous "smartphone" was a Sidekick, and, as they say, how smart could it be if Paris Hilton had one?)

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Who is the most annoying entertainer in the world?

Back in May, EW.com conducted a tournament-style competition to determine the best summer-movie villain of all time. (Your winner? The Joker!) Because the game turned out to be so much fun, and because we’re a bunch of Cranky McCrankenpants, we’re mulling a similar bracket game, this time to determine the most annoying person in entertainment. Cruel, perhaps… but fun, most definitely.

That said, like Velma Kelly in Chicago, we simply cannot do it alone. And so, despite the risk of looking like part of a massive corporate entity pressing our beloved readers into free labor, we’re asking you to help us come up with a list of nominees.

Before we get started, let’s narrow the pool a little bit. We’re looking at actual entertainers, so let’s avoid nominating folks like Paris Hilton, who’s indubitably annoying but has extremely limited impact on the world of music, movies, books, and television. (I’m going to argue against The View‘s Rosie O’Donnell and Elisabeth Hasselbot, too, since they’d rob the competition of any sense of suspense, no?) We’re looking more at, say, the one member of an ensemble cast who is the proverbial fly in your favorite TV show’s soup, or the singer or band whose music always makes you change the station. I’m throwing my support to manic comic Jack Black; every time that dude appears on stage or screen, I feel like I’m being force-fed a ham sandwich. (Was it just me, or did he add an extra hour to Peter Jackson’s interminable King Kong remake?) My editors Jay Woodruff and Jason Adams, meanwhile, are lobbying respectively for Carlos Mencia and Robin Williams, while my husband insisted over dinner last night that a first-round showdown between Sting and Bono would be a nail-biting delight.

Let us know, are we on the right track, or are there far worse pop-culture irritants we ought to be highlighting? Give us your whos (and your whys) in the comments section below!

The shirt that could destroy an army of spoiler-phobes

Are you one of those folks who gasp and covers their ears every time friends or family start discussing the twisty finale of The Sixth Sense, or The Usual Suspects, or The Others? Or Citizen Kane, Donnie Darko, Fight Club, or The Crying Game? Well, then I sure hope you put those spoiler-sensitive flicks on your Netflix list before you run into somebody wearing this perversely awesome T-shirt.

Everything’s Coming Up Pirates

Pirate_lThis week has been pirate overload for me here at EW.com and PopWatch. Last weekend, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (left) opened to predicted box office madness. Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for work, Today had guests on from some feminist pirate musical called The Pirate Queen. And last night was the premiere of what could have only been pitched as ‘Think Survivor, only on a ship, not an island and with long, flowy shirts!!’ — CBS’ Pirate Master (second from right)

After all of this a hoopla in a week, my pirate paranoia got the best of me when I started thinking about fashion and music icons. For one thing, there is Kate Moss’ "pirate" line for Topshop. And lately it looks like Interpol’s Carlos D (right) and the Killers’ Brandon Flowers (second from left) both took "The Road to Looking Like a Pirate" class (a.k.a. Pirate Style 101), as is apparent from their longer hair, mustaches, and one of the more popular pirate accessories, the vest. It’s only a matter of time before their hair is flowing, dread-like, and topped with the ever-present bandana (like their forefather Keith Richards, who not only inspired Johnny Depp’s Pirates character but also has a cameo in At World’s End). Or, yikes, the tri-cornered cap.

I feel like the pop pirates are taking over, and I’m drowning in their sea. I don’t know about you, but my fantasies do not include spending lots of time on a rickety, smelly ship with some dirty men covered in barnacles. However, if Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner wants to jump ship and meet me on an island somewhere… well, that could make me rethink my pirate aversion! PopWatchers, are you too seeing only buccaneers? And are there any pop-culture pirates I’ve left out?

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