This is apparently the month when people get fired. After racking up a record $65 million in production costs on their way to the longest preview period in Broadway history (101 performances and counting), the producers of the critically drubbed Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark have parted ways with director/co-writer Julie Taymor. She’ll be replaced by Phillip William McKinley, who directed the Hugh Jackman musical The Boy From Oz and, according to The New York Times , “several Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circuses.” (Sure, why not?) Meanwhile, Christian Dior’s head designer John Galliano was shown the door after not one, but two videos surfaced of Galliano making anti-Semitic remarks (though “anti-Semitic remarks” seems awfully polite language to describe a bon mot like, ahem, “I love Hitler”). Also, to the surprise of no one (including him), Charlie Sheen was officially dismissed from Two and a Half Men. (And we’re going to leave it at that, out of respect for dead memes.)
Unemployment numbers remain depressing in America, but this rash of pink slips was (our own karma be damned) probably for the best. In fact, it could be the start of a valuable trend in popular culture; this could just be the beginning of some much-needed dismissals. We’ve compiled a list of ten more pop culture figures who should be fired. Check it out after the jump, and make your own additions in the comments.
Mike Starr was the bassist for Alice in Chains; he was also a third-season regular on Celebrity Rehab, the VH1 reality show hosted by Dr. Drew Pinsky. And on Tuesday, Starr was found dead, allegedly of a drug overdose. So, ace work there, Dr. Drew! Hold on — it would be silly to hold Drew personally responsible for the fact that his “treatment” of Starr didn’t take; as Salon notes, “If every recovery center had to close down after a former patient relapsed and died, we’d have no facilities left. Addiction is a real disease, and while treatment helps, it is by no means a cure-all.” Fair enough. No, Drew should be fired because Celebrity Rehab is a terrible, terrible show. Aside from the now-commonplace-but-still-infuriating stretch-till-it-snaps definition of “celebrity,” they’re not even bothering to take addiction and rehabilitation seriously anymore. Gary Busey was sober 13 years (or claimed to be, anyway) when he was in the third season cast; mistress-to-the-stars Rachel Uchitel was treated in season four for her addiction to — wait for it — love. Drew, it seems, is addicted to fronting a third-rate reality show. He’s a smart guy, and has been a legitimately positive and helpful influence on young adults during the 15+ years that Loveline has been nationally syndicated. He should focus on that.
So let’s try to put this in perspective: say you’re doing your job, and you’re really, really bad at it. You have some enormous project, and you just screw it up six ways to Sunday. And everyone knows that you did a bad job, and everyone says so, and you keep insisting that no, you’re awesome at your job. And then, a couple of years later, you’re like, “Oh, yeah, that one big thing? You guys are right, that was appallingly bad. Just putrid. But hey, the next huge project you give me? I’m gonna really do an extra-awesome job on that one. I promise.” If we tried to pull that off, we’d probably be fired. And so would you. But not Michael Bay! Yes, Bay made movie news this week for finally admitting what everyone with an I.Q. was saying two years ago: that Transfomers: Revenge of the Fallen was a loathsome pile of excrement. “We made some mistakes,” he says now. “When I look back at it, that was crap.” OH YOU DON’T SAY. However, the third Transfomers film is gonna totally rock, you guys! They’re like, on the moon and shit. And, as Hollywood.com‘s Sam Morgan points out, “it’ll at least be in 3D and that’s always good.” OH IS IT.
Everyone on SNL (except Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader)
Few pastimes are as easy (and durable) as bashing Saturday Night Live — and, in all fairness, if you go back and watch some of the old episodes (even those of the immortal first cast), you’ll find that the show has always been wildly uneven, with plenty of clunker sketches thrown in after the second musical guest, which we’ve conveniently edited out of the SNL highlight reel in our head. But dear lord, they’ve got to do something about this cast. Keenan Thompson? We stand by our original assessment, when he joined the cast in 2003: “The Good Burger guy? Seriously?” Fred Armisen? Yes, Lorne, let’s keep rewarding that weak Obama impression. (Also, it’s clear his heart is in Portlandia. Why not free him up to do more of that?) Seth Meyers — smug and unfunny much? And yes, Samberg just keeps getting funnier. No expiration date on that guy. Every few years, Michaels does a big shake-up and replaces most of the cast. Might be about that time again.
Your author is not the target audience for Grey’s Anatomy; I’ll acknowledge that and refrain from snidely slamming the popular series, lest I get embroiled into some kind of “McDreamy vs. McSteamy” debate or whatever. But I do know one thing: I spent enough time on the old “Jumping the Shark” website to know that the musical episode is a sign that a show is absolutely, completely, and entirely out of gas. Scrubs, The Drew Carey Show, That ‘70s Show, Buffy (according to some fans, though, not this one); it’s right up there with the live episode and the addition of a cute new kid as a red flag that the show’s writers are entirely out of ideas. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that ads have started popping up for Grey’s Anatomy: The Musical Event . Blergh.
We’ll grant Mr. Cent’s skills as an MC. He’s never been among our favorites, and his last studio album Before I Self-Destruct appears to have done just that, but hey, he certainly has his defenders, and was plenty influential, etc. No, we’d like to address the disturbing matter of his insistence on cultivating an acting career — in spite of the fact that he, put simply, can’t act. His dead eyes and wooden line readings have derailed every one of his film appearances, which quickly degenerated from working for Oscar-nominee Jim Sheridan in the autobiographical Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and sharing the screen with heavyweights like Samuel L. Jackson (Home of the Brave) and DeNiro and Pacino (Righteous Kill) to straight-to-video D-movies like Gun, Caught in the Crossfire, and Streets of Blood. And then here is the unfortunate matter of Things Fall Apart, his directorial debut; he also writes and stars, famously losing 50 pounds for the role of a football star struck with cancer. Kudos for the Method dedication. Trouble is, on the basis of the newly-released trailer, this appears to be a sub-Tyler Perry movie-of-the-week melodrama. The best moment of the trailer comes near the end, when the serious-voiced narrator assures us that this is “the most critically acclaimed role of his career.” Two questions: 1) How hard is that to be? And 2) Which critics have acclaimed it? (There’s a grand total of 0 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB.) It may be a cliché, but here goes: 50 Cent — excuse me, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson — do us all a favor and stick to your day job.
Speaking of clichés: there’s no good reason for one more blogger to complain about the ubiquity of Mr. Franco. He’s all over the place, it’s sort of irritating, the end. But for a good long while, the sheer chutzpah of his media saturation and the gonzo performance-art nature of his personality was at least entertaining, and he was still doing interesting work as an actor (he’s quite good in both 127 Hours and Howl). Then came news that he was teaching a master class about… himself. And then came his dead-eyed, half-baked turn “hosting” the “Oscars,” which (as you may have heard) didn’t quite go over. Point is, the bit has run its course. It’s time for Franco to disappear for a while.
Far be it from us to critique Community, which is proving itself, week after week, to be one of the tightest, smartest, consistently funny shows on television. But there is one tiny problem. Ken Jeong is a funny dude (as he proved in Role Models, The Hangover, and several other films), and his Señor Chang was well-used in the first season — as an occasional utility player, along the lines of John Oliver’s Professor Ian Duncan. The end-of-season revelation that Chang was actually a fraud who couldn’t even speak Spanish was an inspired turn. Trouble was, it left Jeong with nothing to do. The show’s attempts to make Chang into a more regular character has been the second season’s only serious flaw — the character is best in small (very small) doses, and while he is certainly meant to be obnoxious and unlikable, that too often translates into irritating scenes that derail the show. As much as we like Jeong, it might be best for Community to let him go (or, at the very least, scale him back).
Cook is one of the most wildly successful stand-up comedians of the past decade, which is more than a little surprising, since he is painfully, depressingly unfunny. Here’s your basic formula for a Dane Cook special: State an obvious, pseudo-Seinfeldian observation. Then say it again, using bigger words, louder and while jumping around. Repeat for an hour or so. Go cash your check! (Also, he steals.) His attempts to translate his inexplicable stand-up success into movie stardom haven’t fared quite so well: audiences and critics alike have sneered at his oeuvre to date, which includes such delights as Employee of the Month, Good Luck Chuck, and My Best Friend’s Girl. So Cook is making his Broadway debut this spring, playing (wait for it) a hateable misogynist in Neil LaBute’s play Fat Pig. Maybe he’s finally found his calling.
How has the host of CNBC’s Mad Money kept his job for so long? His show is a 60-minute barrage of clanging bells, joy buzzers, wacky props, fisheye lenses, and an odd-looking man screaming at you. It’s like a Gallagher special, but every day and with financial jargon. His predictions, while perhaps entertaining to mental patients, are frequently wrong — often wildly so. And then there was his ill-advised war against Jon Stewart, who responded first with the video above, and then by inviting Cramer on to The Daily Show, where he sweated and suffered through the most awkward TV interview this side of James Frey on Oprah. And yet, there he is, every day, getting things wrong and being really obnoxious about it.
Ha ha, we’d say “You’re fired” to the guy who says, “You’re fired,” get it? But yeah, seriously, please fire him, please make him go away, please please please please please. And let’s never, ever let him run for president.
Those are our top picks. Who would you like to fire from popular culture?