Wednesday, January 7, 2009

E-Pop! The E-Zine Dedicated to Pop Culture Punditry

E-Pop! was born in a coffee shop on a cold, snowy Saturday in New York, with my friend Cathleen and I laughing at all things “pop.” For two years from 1998-2000, I exorcised my pop culture demons via a jointly produced E-Zine (the once popular but now irrelevant “Sony Walkman” of online publishing), rebuking all those pop culture media characters who live in our heads along with family and friends. They’re there all the time: Paula, Simon, Brad, Angelina, and Jen, Hillary and Bill, Princess Diana even 11 years after her death, Michael Moore, George and the entire cast of Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13, and the celebrities who pepper red carpets, talk shows, and websites where it’s nearly impossible to escape them.

With the fervor of Tonya Harding skating with metal pipe in hand, E-Pop! took on the awards show season, lame politicians, media mockery, and overexposed celebrities deserving of a left hook.

The following posts are highlights from those two years - a “Best of E-Pop!”

E-Pop Issue # 1: The Best of E-Pop!'s New York Post Obituary Headline Spoofs

Remember that old adage that airplane crashes happen in groups of three?

E-Pop! thinks that the deaths of pop culture figures come in three's, too. Dusty Springfield, Stanley Kubrick, and Joe DiMaggio all died during the first few days of March, 1999. Coincidence? Of course! But that's not hot copy.

E-Pop! is not alone in wanting to think they are linked, like some perverse Kevin Bacon game, and that these threesomes make for interesting bus rides to the pearly gates.

E-Pop!’s favorite story about celebrity deaths involves The New York Post headlines and this "three strikes" theory. Several years ago, after two minor celebrities died on the same day, The New York Post started running small 2nd page stories on how death and airline crashes happen in groups of three. But in 1991, after two celebrities died but no third appeared in the offing, we got worried! Would the theory hold? Just as The New York Post was about to be proved wrong, sixty-year-old actress Lee Remick, notable for her films in the 50's and 60s but hardly a household name for anyone under forty, succumbed to cancer. The New York Post headline the next day?

"Now it's Lee!"

That day, I saw plenty of quizzical expressions on New Yorkers who passed by newsstands and muttered out loud, "Lee who,?" But it didn't matter. The New York Post made its point in typically uber-dramatic fashion.

Taking our cue from The New York Post’s eye-catching death headline, E-Pop! started the “Now it’s _______!” pop culture alert system (PCAS) to inform our readers when a notable pop culture icon (or semi-icon) kicked the bucket.

Here’s a few of our favorite obituary listings:

1. Now it’s Mario Puzo! And in honor of him, a special E-Pop! Mario Puzo Haiku:

mario puzo
dead; he received an offer
he could not refuse

godfather author
cotton mouth no more
sleeps with fishes; sounds wet

2. Now it’s Peggy Cass! To tell the truth, we thought she died a long time ago.

Peggy Cass, the character actress best known for her appearances on 1960’s television quiz shows like To Tell The Truth and her award-winning role in both the film and stage versions of ''Auntie Mame,'' died Tuesday at the age of 74. She was known best for her smoky, boozy, raspy laugh as she cackled at everything Kitty Carlisle Hart said.

3. Now it's Ellen Corby! Grandma Walton died this past week, surprising Walton fans who believed that actress Ellen Corby, who played Grandma Walton to great acclaim for years, had succumbed years ago. In the "Peggy Cass-o-meter" of dead celebrites who, to tell the truth, we thought already died, add acerbic Grandma Walton to the list. Corby, who started life as a (gulp, please tell me there's no video) Las Vegas showgirl, now joins Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies in the great skinny, little-old-cranky-bitch section of heaven.

4. Now it’s David Letterman’s Announcer! Another pop culture icon fallen. The announcer on the David Letterman show, always second to Don Pardo his entire life, also died this past week..No more Daaaaaaaavid Letterman. When asked to give the eulogy, Ed McMahon responded, "YEESSSS!!" No, we don’t know his name. He never announced that. Don’t ask us.

5. Now it’s Anthony Newley! He meant it this time. Anthony Newley, singer and rancoteur famous for his show, "Stop the World I Want to Get Off" died last week at the age of 67.

6. Now it’s the Mars Candy Patriarch! Forrest Mars Sr., who invented M&Ms candies and built one of the biggest fortunes in America as head of the Mars candy empire, has died. He was 95.
The reclusive billionaire, one of the richest men in America, died of natural causes in Miami. On his deathbed, Forrest called a priest to confess what we long suspected was true: the red ones really do kill you. And that whole "melt in your mouth not in your hands" promise was just a cheap lie.

7. Now it’s Gladys Kravitz! Sandra Gould, who played nosy neighbor Gladys Kravitz on TV's ``Bewitched,'' has died at 73. Miss Gould died of a stroke July 20. As Gladys Kravitz, she was forever peering into her window and seeing strange doings at the home of Darrin Stephens and his witchy wife, Samantha. She played the role on the ABC series from 1966 to 1972. When reached for a comment, her husband Abner responded with a resigned, "Yes, Gladys. Whatever you say, Gladys. Here's some aspirin for your sick headache, Gladys."

8. Now it’s Screaming Lord Sutch! E-Pop! leaves you with the sad news that David Sutch, who brought a chuckle to British politics as leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party with the slogan: “Vote for insanity - you know it makes sense,'' died of apparent hanging. He was 58. Known as Screaming Lord Sutch, he was Britain's longest- serving party leader. England apparently hasn't heard that failed politicians have lucrative second career opportunities hawking Viagra and making speeches to Japanese businessmen who can't understand a word they're saying.

E-Pop! Issue # 2: The Oscars-Awards Shows are a Gateway Drug

The Oscars 1999. The last shot before the millenium. My reaction? Yawn. The minute I read the nominee list, it was though I'd just sat through the entire debacle, survivable thanks to the screechy reprieve from skeletal, self-titled fashion critic Joan Rivers and her scary, genetic-defect daughter.

To me, the real race is for best song. Check out these gems:

"I Don't Want to Miss A Thing" from Armageddon (Even though the idea of seeing Steven Tyler and those lips, and the hair and the bad clothes on the Oscars is kind of intriguing in a gross, class- clash way, I think this number calls for Debbie Allen style "footloose" choreography with astronaut costumes);

"The Prayer" from The Quest - (if it's the Andrea Bocelli thing, well OK, but I don't think it is. And if I am confused that it could possibly have some merit by being that new age song recorded by Anrdea Bocelli and not some dumb animated movie theme song sung by repeat has-been Donny Osmond, then I think the older academy voters might be confused, too);

"A Soft Place To Fall" from The Horse Whisperer (I read this song title twice thinking it was a joke title. Who even knew there was a song with this endless film..but, come on, a movie about a horse getting creamed by a Mack Truck and this is the song you come up with? Hello? Why not call it "A Horse Had To Die For Us To Love" or how about "What's It All About, Wilbur - Love Theme From Horse Whisperer");

"That'll Do" from Babe 2 (how about "Well Done Pig" or "Bright Lights, Pig

"When You Believe From The Prince Of Egypt" (One of my personal "E-Ppp!" favorite sound-bytes this year was the Oprah Show where Whitney and Mariah screeched out this song like two cats sitting on a fence, then proceeded to talk some major New Jersey street talk. Whitney opened her pretty mouth and Newark fell out. Whitney should get a Mini Oscar for setting a new record of using the word "girl" in one sentence).

OK, onto the other awards...

Best Film:

Saving Private Ryan, even though I won't see it. Why see it? I already know it's well done, well acted and that I don't need to see bloody arms flying across the sandy shores to cast this vote. Besides, I signed a petition that reads "War Is Bad And I Don't Support It" that is currently circulating among all of us "Anti-Bloody Limbs" people who nevertheless want to further the annual acknowledgment of Spielberg and his causes.

Best Actor:

Ian McKellen for an extraordinary performance in Gods and Monsters. Nick Nolte is a long shot because Oscar hasn't rewarded a raging alcholic on film since Susan Hayward in "I Want To Live!"

Tom Hanks-it's not his year; he must be punished for bringing the insanely catchy and
stupid song "That Thing You Do" into public consciousness.

Roberto Ben-whatever would have been a great candidate if he hadn't gone on every talk show from Today to The View and made such an ass of himself. Edward Norton is too
young and dated Courtney Love.

Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett for Elizabeth because it's happened before. Bette Davis already won for this in the 1930's. And come on..a drama (plus) about a British (the Brit card) Queen (Royalty, another plus) who ages (makeup), fights foes (heroine!) starring a woman who no one knows at all but who seems fierce? Sounds like a show-in. It's not Gwyneth's year, though her impersonation of Sharon Stone on Saturday Night Live last week should get her at least a little prize. But Gwyneth, like Tom, must be punished for A Perfect Murder and (worse!) Hush.

Meryl Streep is great but one more stoic yuppie momma dying of cancer who lyp syncs with her kids and comes to term with her younger female counterpart and I'm outta here.

Emily Watson is a dark horse - just a little obscure, kind of a wispier, more neurotic Helena Bonham Carter. And who the hell knows the other one? Fernanda what? Oh yeah, the one who talked way too long when her film won Best Foreign Language Golden Globe. Not on Oscar she won't.

The Supporting categories are a wash; the actresses are mostly British, all talented, no one dying or recently dead, no 10 year olds...the actors are all fine, no sentimental favorites. I mean are we all going to go all misty over "screen legend" James Coburn? Or tooth picking sucking Ed Harris? Or, gross, Billy Bob Thornton without that scary cleavage-sporting, stalker of an ex wife. Personally, my votes are with Kathy Bates who rocked in Primary Colors and James Coburn, the Burt Reynolds of 1999.

The only other ones I care about are:

Adapted Sceenplay: Gods and Monsters

Best Original Screenplay: Bulworth

Shakespeare In Love can take everything else

But what about a few that were overlooked?

Best Murderous Couple: You could really believe Michael Douglas and Gwyneth
Paltrow would try to kill each other in "A Perfect Murder". Her dying
words: "He...really"

Best Fake Dog and Bad Tanning Experience : There's Something About Mary

Best Movie That Made You Glad You Really WERE At Studio 54, Because It Was
So Much More Fun: 54

Missing in action are Christina Ricci, Lisa Kudrow and Lyle Lovett from The
Opposite Of Sex! That was the funniest film, with the best line from a
movie this year: "Look for me first in any crowded room." I know they
missed the boat, along with Jim Carrey and a few others.

Due to the fairly bland lineup, this year at Oscar we need some serious
rivalry, some strange pairings to really make it watchable. I mean this is
the America of 1999. We've been through Bill, Hill, and Monica so our
shockometer is more finely tuned. The bar is raised. For pure entertainment value who can compete with a trembling, bloated, WAY overpaid Linda Tripp saying "I am you"?

Maybe if Jerry Falwell shows up with Tinky The Teletubbie
If Elizabeth Taylor pops in
If Gwyneth and Ben and Brad and Jennifer sit near each other
If Redford, Jack, Anjelica, Warren, Shirley, John, Lauren, Julia, Susan and
a few biggies show
If Cher sings the Horse Whisperer song

We'll see...

E-Pop! Issue # 3: Ricky and Grammy's Year of the Woman (Sort of)

The media keeps calling this year's Grammy Awards, "The Year of The Woman."

From where I sit, it was the year of the "staged win". Every artist who performed (except for that sad looking Scottish wench from the group Garbage) received a Grammy within minutes of their performance.

Here's how it worked. After each performance, the category in which that performer was nominated was the next award. We got to see Madonna, breathless after her "Like A Geisha" number, race back to the stage to get her award. The others performed their songs, then dutifully stood in front of a giant Grammy graphic until being called to the stage. Just a word to the wise when you are nominated for your Grammy. Show up and sing the damn song if you want to win, OK?

The performances were varied in style and uniformly excellent, and Lauryn Hill was, as expected, the queen of the night. And her reading of a psalm instead of the traditional speech - "Thank you Momma, Daddy, everyone-I've-ever-known, the "creator", all the little people I stepped on to get here, my lame competition, and Starbucks for that Chai Latte today" - was inspired.

Other impressions of yet one more Rosie O'Donnell-run awards show?

Thanks to the fact that Madonna read the bestselling book Memoirs Of A Geisha about a simple girl who actually likes being a geisha because of the link between her sexual "pearl" and power, and who rebels by saying "who the hell wants to live a traditional life anyway?" - we got to see her Ray of Lightship in six-inch red heels and billowing kimono bleat the song "Nothing Really Matters."

Now we can look forward to a full year of seeing little Madonna-Wanna-Be-Geishas in their red "Gap Kids" kimono knock offs. What next? Baby Ray of "Lite" Yoga? Madonna's Kabbalah For Kids? And just in case anyone thought she was turning into a saint, she turned on the old charm and dissed her toothless Brit Ray Of Light producer William Orbit, while managing to steal his air time.

In addition to Geishas, one of the other Grammy trends was the Who-The Hell-Is-That? syndrome. Is that Sheryl Crow with short, red hair? Since when is Mexican Jennifer Lopez blond? Which one is Brandy? Which one is Monica? Who's the blind guy singing with Celine Dion?

For your consideration, here are a few alternate Grammy Awards that didn't make the airwaves:

Best Stupid Guy Getting Dissed By His Female Co-Presenter:
TIE Jerry Seinfeld & Jennifer Lopez
Billy Corgan And Gwen Stefani

Country Slut Crossover Of The Year:
Shania "Man, I NEED A Man NOW" Twain

Best Genuine Fake Leather Jacket "Shaft" Costume Leftover:
Will Smith

Best Fake Commercial Joke About A Nominated Song:
Rosie O'Donnell touting the new Celine Dion "Near, Far, Cross-Your-Heart

Most Pathetic Moment When An Artist Announced His Own Grammy And No One Clapped:
Brian Setzer

Best Manic-Depressive Duo Of Hits During One Year:
"Thank You" and You're Uninvited", both by Alanis Morrisette

Best Televised 2-Hour Chair Slump While Chewing Gum And Scratching:
Wyclef Jean

Oddest Threesome Presenters Who I Hope To Never See Involved In A "Pamela Anderson Lee" Type Video On The Internet:
Beck, Sara McLachlan and Puff Daddy

Best T-Shirt That Sums Up How All Of Us Feel About "My Heart Will Go On"
Winning Yet More Awards:
"The Boat Sank. Get Over It."

Best Use of Music During A Presenter's Speech
Muzak Accompanying George Lucas

A few final thoughts before the union help starts charging us overtime like they do at real awards shows:

- A challenge: $10 To any E-Pop! reader who can remember one single
lyric from a song by Increasingly-Buff-And- Bouncy-Former-Menudo-Member
Ricky Martin, who rocked the house. But why do I want to call him Rico Suave?

- My favorite story about the Grammy's is about no-show R&B nominee
Aretha Franklin (Re-Re to her friends).

So where, in year of Lauryn Hill, was the Queen of Soul, who is known for hating travel?

"She stayed home in Detroit watching the show and eating finger food and drinking nonfat smoothies," says Barbara Shelley, Franklin's publicist.

"Aretha doesn't fly and she didn't want to drive to L.A. in the middle of winter."

Aretha didn't exactly weep when she lost. Like a true diva, Franklin told Shelley she was happy for Lauryn, but added, 'I'm going to get out the polish and polish my seventeen Grammys.'" Ouch. And pass the barbecue sauce.

E-Pop! did the same thing this year right down to the finger food.

E-Pop! Issue # 4: Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye. Ed? Not So Much.

Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye. Ed, We Knew Ye Too Well

Has-been-second-banana Ed McMahon celebrates his 50th year in show business this week. YESSSSSS!!!!!! Here's a faux-Irish toast to the original, boozy yes man:

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May you be in Bali 40 minutes before you are subpoenaed to testify in any of the 53 "mail fraud" class action suits currently filed against American Family Publishers, the Publisher's Clearinghouse "magazine-hawker-to-old-people" that operates out of Newark.

E-Pop! Issue # 5: Mad Cow Disease at Old Navy

Lordy, the world is consumer with Mad Cow Disease! And the retail store Old Navy has possibly the worst case we've seen of it.

What is up with that new Old Navy Commercial? Is Morgan Fairchild supposed to be a younger Carrie Donovan (oxymoron) as they dance around, dressing and talking alike? Do these people on this commercial go into heavy duty voice training to get that bizarre iambic-pentameter way of talking? Is it going to be like Woody Allen films where all the characters, even the women and kids, talk just like Woody? Are we are all going to talk like Carrie "I'm mad for fleece" Donovan one day? Do male models like Marcus Shenkenberg actually think that strutting around in fuzzy knit caps talking like Bette Davis is going to help them land the next Ralph Lauren ad? Does Magic make more than that Taco Bell "Gidget" dog? Is Old Navy part of some vast right-wing conspiracy? Or is it some far reaching subversive Middle Eastern plot to discredit us as a nation by having us wear multi-colored fleece pullovers with twill cargo pants and thick-colored socks? If Old Navy wasn't our sponsor this week, we'd really have a few Mel Gibson "Conspiracy Theory" tales to spin. But until next week, we're mad for those mad cows in their commercial.

E-Pop! Issue # 6: The Oscars-What Really Happened

Taste took a holiday at this year's Academy Awards. That's what really happened. I love Whoopi, but if ever there was an indication that the world has gone to hell in a hand-basket, her incessant beaver jokes proved it true.

Too bad there wasn't much of what anorexic-wanna-be-designer-hag Joan Rivers referred to as "Glama, Glama, Glama," unless you count "I am the best singer in the world" Celine Dion and her cowgal outfit. Poor old Joan, alone for an hour on her pre-show waiting for someone - anyone - to show up. She busied herself by cursing Geena Davis and yelling into her "E" walkie-talkie, "Back to you Missy-got anything up there?"

Well, she had a lot of hair. The last time I saw a pony tail like that was at The Preakness.

Watching Geena's Stepford Wives pre-show, you had to think Joan was right when she said, "So the bitch isn't talking fashion in her segment?" What's she going to talk about? Bosnia?" If only.

OK, so were lots of upsets. But everyone in the world has already gone on about that ad nauseum. Poor old Steven Spielberg is running out of world tragic events to commemorate, so how many more Best Picture Oscars can there be? Is it right to thank families of dead soldiers? Remind me why you'd "thank" them? How about "empathize," or "acknowledge." It's all about verbs, people.

The big question for me is when Oscar Campaign reform will take place, and will it mirror Political Campaign Reform? Can we modify H.R. 5685 on Political Campaign Reform, currently before The House, and apply the trusty "find and replace" feature to the document, changing all key words to reflect the film industry?

If we do, will Al Gore take credit for that too, in addition to his discovery of the Internet last year? Forget reports that the Pentagon founded the Internet in 1969, the truth is that Al, while searching his computer last year for his missing monthly status report to Bill, "found" the internet. But I digress...

Miramax has long drawn the jealousy of competing studios for its ability to rack up Oscar nominations, and their ire for spending like mad to promote its films and actors. Harvey and Bob Weinstein went nuts this year pushing "Shakespeare in Love" and "Life Is Beautiful." They spent a reported $30 million of parent company Disney's money buying ads for "Shakespeare," and suffered negative press reports that Miramax was badmouthing "Saving Private Ryan."

Everybody badmouths this excessive spending, but it worked, just like it works for our political campaigns. I think for both film and politics, we should get back to Town Hall Meetings and strictly regulated and moderated television debates.

That way, next year, we'll see Stone Phillips moderating a debate in New Hampshire between Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman. Jack Nicholson and Ben Affleck will duke it out via their podiums in conference room C ("You can't handle the truth!"). I can see Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench crustily critiquing each other's technique. And taping the debates will be Elia Kazan and his new girlfriend, Linda Tripp.

As in politics, the rest of Hollywood will have no choice but to follow the trail Harvey and Bob Weinstein blazed. It's the old "Primary Colors" theme - if we don't do what they do, we'll lose and then our winning ideas won't be presented. Look for the "For Your Consideration" ad pages in every publication from Variety to Pet Fancy go through the roof next year.

That's the 1999 lowdown. Truly.

E-Pop! Issue # 7: Live from Booth 11 of Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper West Side

This week, E-Pop! comes to you live from Booth 11 at Cafe Luxembourg, which for the two of you who don't know is located on the currently embattled Upper West Side (more on that) of Manhattan. E-Pop! is drinking wine to ease the shock of newspaper headlines.

Kosovo! Shark Attacks on a honeymoon couple in Australia! TV actor suicide in Las Vegas! Post Clinton malaise! Worst of all, Susan Sarandon getting arrested while holding hands with Al Sharpton!

We couldn't explain this week to you if you paid us. And you don't.

Still, from out of the darkness comes a little light. This is E-Pop's Kosovo Denial Issue, live from New York (beating Oprah and Jay and Dave on their "road- tour-to-boost-May Sweeps- ratings" by about a month).

E-Pop! felt it necessary to send in air troops to support the Upper West Side (UWS) after Amanda Hesser, a reporter for the New York Times, published a scathing attack in last Sunday's "Styles" section which referred to the UWS as "one big mall."

She said it is too suburban, the people are cheap and there's no place to go out.

From his perch atop the most exclusive apartment building on the UWS, Jerry Seinfeld, the master of his domain, wrote a rebuttal to the editor defending his part of town.

Coincidentally, E-Pop! spotted Jerry walking down Broadway with his married girlfriend (not that there's anything wrong with that). Anyway, Jerry looked like he went to the Jerry Seinfeld shop and told them to supersize it. He wore a crisp clean new baseball cap, clean white sneakers and jeans. Bizarro Jerry.

After spotting Jerry and then quickly surveying the Barnes and Noble, Eddie Bauer, Tower Records, Starbucks, Disney Store, Banana Republic, Baby Gap and Fotomat which all converge on Lincoln Center, E-Pop! had no quibble with Amanda Hesser dumping on the still beloved West Side.

Not only do we agree with her, we don't think she went far enough. The problem with Amanda Hesser is she once dissed someone she shouldn't have.

Emeril Lagasse.

One of the E-Pop! founders is an obsessed chef stalker, just so you know and don't pull that again.

Now for our bad pop culture segue of the week.

How Do You Handle A Hungry Man?

With glorious Swanson, of course. This month marks the 45th anniversary of the Swanson TV dinner, with over 160 million served in one year alone. Creator Gerry Thomas will commemorate the event by pressing his handprints into cement, alongside an aluminum tray, outside of Mann's Chinese Theater.

This event celebrates Swanson for all of eternity, which is slightly longer than the shelf life of the Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes dinner, the one with the birdnest of peas and carrots in the center.

E-Pop! Issue # 8: How Now Tae Bo?

It must be the end of the 90's. I just tried to enter a password on my microwave. I have 10 passwords: bank card, 401 K account #, grocery store discount card, gym membership, AOL account, "day job email", cell phone, home phone, home computer, and one accounts known only to me and that "Melissa computer virus" hacker in Camden, New Jersey, or wherever the hell he's from. I am no longer in control of my life.

So with life being so complicated, and with summer around the corner, E-Pop's only answer was to search out new ways to exercise.

What's on the current pop culture fitness radar?

How Now Tae-Bo?

Imagine the illegitimate black offspring from the unholy alliance of Bruce Lee and Richard Simmons. Then get really angry. Then throw in some Mike Tyson without the falsetto lisp. Take your bottled Evian with you because this is way trendy. Ignore the Cher-like infomercial that runs on continuous play on cable. You'll have Billy Blanks, Tae Bo pitchman extra-ordinaire. Now you're ready for Tae Bo, the new exercise craze sweeping the nation.

Billy's infomercial informs you that some of Hollywood's top celebrities are staying in shape with heavily aerobic Tae-Bo: Sinbad, Carmen Electra, Brooke Shields, Paula Abdul, Goldie Hawn, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'neal, Lisa Rinna, Erik Estrada, Alfonso Ribiero, Rebecca de Mornay, Neve Campbell, Jack Scalia, Connie Selleca, Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'neal, Valerie Bertinelli, Justine Batemen, Shannon Tweed, Lela Rochon, Gail O'Grady, Emmanuel Lewis, Rae Dawn Chong, Sugar Ray Leonard, Wayne Gretzky, Bruce Jenner and Pamela Anderson.

Clearly a group you want to be part of, right? I mean, take out Goldie Hawn and you're looking at an episode of "Love Boat."

We checked out the Web site to see what the fuss was about. It's a very interactive site with testimonials, video samples and ordering options as well as extensive message boards, which are divided into groups such as "Workout Tips" and "Are There Any Guys Who Do Tae-Bo?"

E-Pop!'s favorite message board was the "I Would Love To Buy Clothes Not In The Plus Sizes For Once." Most of the messages are from woman 200 pounds and plus who now call Tae-Bo their God. The following are a couple of examples of "Tae-Bo Tubby" fervor from two who appear to have lost interest in the required blubbering and intense math of the Richard Simmons' "Deal a Meal" plan:

By Lil on Monday, February 22, 1999-11:58 pm:
Until I started college was a fit 150. a comfy size 10. That freshmen fifteen sooned turned into a sophmore sixty. Yes i do weigh 210 ibs. I never thouht that this would happen to me. I hate the frito lay corperation. Also I was just dumped after what I thought was a three year solid relationship, and although I am not a vengeful person, the thought of my ex's mouth dropping if he sees me when I hopefully lose the weight just might be motivation enough.

By Shades on Thursday, February 25, 1999 - 06:44 am:
Since last Last Thursday I did the basic tape three times a night for like 4 days. Then school started again and I realized that three times a day was too much because it made me fatigued more than anything.

Well, buy E-Pop! a vowel because "O" My God. What a revelation.

Billy Blanks Tae-Bo TM Video Library, which was introduced last year, has become the bestselling fitness video on the market.

Naturally, E-Pop! had to try it. Watching these people scream on TV did nothing for E-Pop! We stretched. We "kicked butt!" as we were endlessly shouted at to do. We twisted our torso and kicked as high as we could in a direction God clearly hadn't OK'd. Most of all, getting yelled at and jumping up and down so quickly made our heart race faster and gave us what Carmen Electra referred to as the "endolphin rush" we crave. But bottom line, getting yelled at and moving at a heart rate of 150+ is E-Pop!'s day job.

Anybody wanna buy a Tae-Bo tape cheap?

E-Pop! Issue # 9: Lost in Translation-Madonna's Hungarian Sex Interview

The following are extracts from an interview with Madonna by the Hungarian magazine Blikk. Don't ask us. We didn't name it.

Madonna's questions were asked in Hungarian, then translated into English. Madonna's responses were then translated back into Hungarian. The interview was then published in Hungarian and, finally, translated back into English. Time Magazine states, "to say that something was lost in the process is to be wildly ungrateful for all that was gained."

That worked well. Read for yourself:

BLIKK: Madonna, Budapest says hello with arms that are spread-eagled. Did you have a visit here that was agreeable? Are you in good odor? You are the biggest fan of our young people who hear your musical productions and like to move their bodies in response.
MADONNA: Thank you for saying these compliments (holds up hands).
BLIKK: Madonna, let's cut to toward the hunt. Are you a bold hussy-woman that feasts on men who are tops?
MADONNA: Yes, yes, this is certainly something that brings to the surface my longings. In America it is not considered to be mentally ill when a woman advances on her prey in a discotheque setting with hardy cocktails present. And there is a more normal attitude toward leather play-toys that also makes my day.
BLIKK: O.K. here's a question from left space. What was your book Slut about?
MADONNA: It was called Sex, my book.
BLIKK: Not in Hungary. Here it was called Slut.

E-Pop! Issue # 10: The Top 10 Overexposed Pop Culture Icons Plus Cher Does Not Lip-Sync

It's only mid-April yet E-Pop! is compelled to offer a top 10 list. This one, The Top 10 Overexposed Pop Culture Icons, comes at a time when awards shows and lists are, themselves, overexposed.

We can't take more from the famous and overexposed. All we ask is that a publicist insist that a client refrain from more than four major TV appearances in a week, avoid endorsing offshoot product lines of initial products that were tired in the first place, and try to avoid giving interviews about how intrusive interviews really are.

If the star/pseudo star/wanna-be-star with a stolen rolodex doesn't have a publicist who will do these things, all we ask is that the major networks and cable stations (yes, even the WB and E!) agree to a boycott. It's as simple as that.

Many of these icons are famous just for being famous..the Zsa Zsa syndrome. Or they keep adding chopped potatoes to the dry turkey called "their career," giving us endless hash and rehash. Or they had a moment but just won't get off the stage. So month after month, year after year, we have to listen to them hawk their latest lame exercise video, butt-flexer, one-hit-wonder-of-a-song-or-film, or even their kids, in a compulsive attempt to follow the key spot.

The list this year includes both people and iconic programs, events, and trends:

1. Pamela Anderson. With big boobs. Without big boobs. With Tommy Lee. Without Tommy Lee. With a show that foreigners and Americans with teletubby IQ's watch (Baywatch). With a show that nobody even knows about (VIPs on the WB).

2. Televised Wrestling especially the WWF and Stone Cold Steve Austin.They keep feeding us this crap with the tag line that "35 million people can't be wrong!" Yes they can. Large groups can be idiots. Buyers of the Edsel. The Holocaust. The people who paid to see "The Man In The Iron Mask." American voters. I rest my case.

3.Kathie Lee. Frank and the big-tittie-ho who set him up. Cody and his crayon-written fundraising pleas and unxious TV appearances. "Kathie Me"-label polyester dresses that she wouldn't be caught dead in, made by migrant twelve-year-olds in Haiti. The annual Christmas special.

4. The Whitney and Bobby Show. Who announces on national television that, "contrary to popular belief, I beat Bobby, he doesn't beat me!"? What happened to the elegant Whitney of yesterday? The quietly elegant ex-model with the voice and style? When did a Newark mud wrestler "soul project" into her body? We want the old closeted lesbian without the street attitude back.

5.Cindy Crawford. This modern day girl Narcissus can't take a pee without finding something media worthy in her own reflection. Now we have Cindy Crawford's mid- pregancy workout and style video. All of this from a woman who started a meeting with an ad agency that E-Pop! knows by announcing that "all Cindy campaigns should reflect the fact that men want to sleep with me and women want to be me."

6. Pulp Fiction knock-off films. "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels." "Two Heads In A Duffel Bag." "GO!" These movies are fun for the actors, not as fun for the audience who's paying. And we like these pointless movies about low life losers and petty drug deals gone awry why?

7.Shania Twain and her sad family life. Still the one who sings that damn song you'd have to be on a submarine to miss. Still the one who hasn't had another hit anyone can remember. Still the one who wins this year's "Jewel" ("I slept in a car for a year") award for bitching about her poor upbringing.

8.Celine Dion. When E-Pop! retires, we have decided to go on TV two years prior to announce it. The woman who attends the opening of every envelope keeps telling us that she hopes her fans will allow her the rest she needs and that she really must slow down. If E-Pop! ever gets so tired that it wears it's suit on backwards like Celine did at the Oscars, maybe E-Pop! will take it as a hint. Go already. Our heart will go on.

9.Suzanne Somers, the Pamela Anderson of the 70's will not leave our consciousness as long as there are infomercials and parts of the body to use as a prefix to the word "master" - Thighmaster, Buttmaster, Facemaster, Absmaster, Careermaster.

10. Leonardo Dicaprio. The clubs. The baseball cap. Titanic the film. The
clubs. The baseball cap. Titanic the video. The clubs. The baseball cap. Titanic the body wash.

And one induction into E-Pop!'s overexposed hall of fame:

Old Navy Ads with Carrie, Morgan and Marcus. Now that Kervorkian is behind bars, Old Navy ads seem to be the latest incarnation of career suicide. E-Pop! hears that David Chokachi from Baywatch is the next B-celebrity scheduled for the Old Navy Death Van. BYOKC. Bring Your Own Knit Cap.

Dishonorable mention to the following who have one foot on the last remants of their dignity and the other foot on a banana peel:

Roberto Benigni
Lisa Marie Presley
Mariah Carey
The View especially Joy Behar and Star Jones
Christie Brinkley
Oprah's Yo-Yo Dieting
Talk Shows
Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman


Plus, Cher doesn't lip sync. Much. No, not really.

Based on the VH1 Live special, the three greatest lies:

1) The check's in the mail.
2) We have no plans to restructure the division right now.
3) "Cher sang 'Believe' live."-Cher's publicist.

E-Pop! Issue # 11: It Takes Denial to Live in This Village

Employing an unusual tactic in her "exploration" of a Senate campaign, Hillary Clinton, "author" of "It Takes a Village" and "Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Letters to the First Pets.'' has announced her newest book project, "An Invitation to the White House'', to be published this fall. Is Hillary so consumed with becoming a superwoman and making everyone feel insecure that she needs to challenge Martha Stewart? Or is this a bizarre, pathetic attempt to prove to Bill Clinton, Sally Quinn, the Washington Establishment and E-Pop! that she is indeed a worthy traditional wife, or that the
Clintons really, truly aren't tacky?

Mrs. Clinton's book will showcase more than 20 White House events in detail and will present more than 30 recipes of dishes served at the White House. E-Pop! looks forward to trying these in particular:

* Missing Billing Records Bean Dip: This dish disappears quickly, but comes back when you least expect it.
* Buffalo Right Wings: Jack Kemp's favorite.
* Enabling Egg Salad: Served when the only thing left in the kitchen are excuses.
* Humiliation Hummus: A favorite of Queen Noor and other Middle Eastern wives.
* $100,000 Miracle Cake: So easy, you can make it with one glance at the Wall Street Journal.
* Travel Office Fire-Roasted Potatoes: Feeds 14: 7 Arkansas cronies and 7 former loyal, lifelong
* Monica and Linda Chirpy Chicks Dessert: Take 2 Marshmallow Peeps, chop off their heads, pull their
bodies apart and roast them in microwave until they explode.

As for White House events, we know all we need to know about throwing an Oval Office Pizza Party.

As we continue our focus on 2nd tier celebrities, remember E-Pop!'s motto: no
mind too small

So let's cut right to the chase. Patty Duke - who has not been most everywhere, from Zanzibar to Barclay Square (that would be Cathy) - is back. Patty, as you may recall, has only seen the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. But little Patty, who went on to star in Valley Of The Dolls, ended up seeing plenty of other sights before going out of sight.

Call her Patty, or call her Anna, but just CALL HER. It's been thirty-three years
since the eponymous TV show was canceled, and Patty Duke is back for a TV reunion movie this week. In a case of life imitating art, Patty discovered, after six years of playing identical cousins ("two of a kind"), that - surprise, surprise - she was manic depressive. So it's going to be lithium and tears when the twins reunite on ABC.

To get you in the mood, for those of you who remember TV tie in books, here's a Patty treat: timely excerpts from "The Patty Duke Show" Book No. 139:

Patty Goes to Washington, by Frances Spatz Leighton (Ace Books, 1964).

Yes, move over, Monica! When America's favorite identical cousins hit DC, it's strictly "Panicsville on the Potomac." And if you think a hot dog makes Patty lose control, wait'll you see what happens when she gets a load of what's inside the Oval Office!


It was Cherry Blossom Time in Washington.

The day dawned sunny and the girls were in ecstacy.

"This year's will be a great festival. The greatest ever," said Patty.

"How do you know? You make like a native and you've only been in Washington a
week," scoffed Ross. "You're just a square tourist." Patty ignored him.

"I see by the papers there are about 750,000 tourists in town for the
festival," said Cathy.

"Wow!" exulted Patty. "And to think I'm part of it. I, Patty Lane, girl

"Girl goon," grunted Ross. He still couldn't get a rise out of her...

All morning Patty primped, just in case the TV cameras might be trained on
her. Ross had finally struck pay dirt. "Boy, when she tears herself away from
the mirror," he told Toni, "it's like two sweethearts parting."

"Since you're not coming with us and have no interest in this, why don't you
get lost, Brother dear?" Patty suggested in acid sweet tones.

E-Pop! Issue # 12: Grace Jones and The Book Expo

Grace Jones and I checked into the Mondrian in Los Angeles last week for a four-day stay. How do I know it was Grace? Well, even for LA, wearing a black veil at 5 in the afternoon might have been clue # 1. Clue # 2 was the subservient Gooch-like assistant circling around Grace's every move like a bee on a rose bush. Clue # 3 was the lobby drunk guy who sloshed his way through a karaoke-less version of "Pull Up To The Bumper."

As I reached for my brand new movie tie-in "Star Wars Darth Maul" binoculars, real binoculars with an audio amplifier and retractable earpiece, to listen into Grace on her cell phone, I looked around at the Ian Schrager-inspired California cool elegance. In the crowd I spotted a woman who onceguest starred on "Dallas" as JR's whore, a waiter who was once Kirstie Alley's younger brother in a failed pilot, and the apparent sister of the cousin of Madonna's former aura adjustor/tailor, whispering to her friend that Asia de Cuba, now open three months, is "over."

Despite the Mondrian 2nd tier celebrity lobby, Los Angeles, for one brief week, was taken over by the Book Expo conference. Irony ruled. Bookish fortysomething and pale women squinting their 2nd tier editors' eyes into the sun light. New York boys in the traditional Eastern blue-gray. It was a five-day immersion into outdoor culture, tattoos and sunstreaks, valet parking at Starbucks, 20 something girls with too much Tori-Spending-Daddy's-Money-Spellingitis, Sunset Strip, and "all the stars who never were, parking cars and pumpin' gas."

At the end of the Millenium this is what we'll have: Grace Jones and Y2K compatibility. Grace has survived. Survival is the true key to 2nd tier celebrities, as common to Los Angeles as bugs in a bayou.

E-Pop! Issue # 13: The Blurry Pop Culture Landscape

The pop culture landscape is a blurry mess right now. It's part segmented
Dali, part cubist and part "Scream." Almost on cue, Tipper Gore felt the
pulse of the nation, and announced her new pet cause: depression. It
couldn't come at a better time for America. In the pop culture balance of
chaos vs. control, chaos reigns supreme.

We are in a war, it's just that no one really declares war anymore. It's
not that simple. Just like in corporate America, where the idot's answer to
every conflict is to schedule another meeting, NATO schedules another
session. Meanwhile, bombs are flying, people dying, conflicts
continuing...sounds like war to me, wouldn't you agree?

We, as a nation, are being stalked by Monica Lewinsky. It's one thing when
she turns up announced on a program like the Today Show. Check the listings.
If it says Monica, practice "Don't Turn It On" TV. But no, now she's
showing up unannounced on Saturday Night Live, like that girlfriend who gets
drunk and shows up on your doorstep three months after you broke up.

Don't you find yourself looking at Amy Fisher getting released from prison
and longing for the sweet, bygone days of Amy, Joey and Mary Jo? Monica
could take lessons from the school of Amy Fisher, who now comes across looking
like a class act.

All the pop news seems like it's on a combination of "CD shuffle" and
"replay". No matter where you go - elevators, airports, car, home - you hear what
seems like the same sound bytes. Teen violence. Former child star OD's. Talk
show mayhem. But the names are different this month. Littleton. Dana
Plato. Jenny Jones.

Even morning TV is scary. The first thing out of bed and I get to see
Bryant Gumbel back on morning TV. Uuggh. Thanks, CBS Morning News. What's
my alternative? Charlie Gibson? Diane Sawyer? I mean, if Joan Lunden ever
gets tired of her "Find Out About Claritin" commercials, then it'll be 1984
all over again. Katie Couric is worth every penny of her $7million dollar a year
contract if, for no other reason than the billions of $$ savings on prozac that perky
little Katie spares us from needing before 9 am.

Now we have chipper Tipper, telling us from her shiny new soapbox how
un-chipper she was 10 years ago, sometime after her son's accident and
before Al discovered the Internet. Nothing concrete in her speech, just "read the
symptons of depression, I had some." As a potential future first lady, she needed
a cause. And from the looks of the pop culture landscape she couldn't have
picked a better one. But come on, Tipper, tell us: Zoloft or Prozac? 25
ml or 50?? And did you do the "anti depressant fade out" or quit cold

And everywhere you turned this week, Camryn Manheim was either on a
magazine cover (TV Guide), talk show appearance (Rosie, Today) or tabloid,
including the now infamous dinner with Monica where the two "Rubens" women
caused a brouhaha at Joe's Pub in Manhattan and ended up at Moomba for
dinner. The latter included, according to an eyewtiness at Moomba, E-Pop!'s
favorite pop moment of the week: Monica and Manheim downing a double platter
of burgers, ice cream and onion rings with cheese, washed down with Diet
Cokes, as an aghast Tori Spelling looked on in wonder.

Camryn is the new poster girl for fat girls' rights. Everyone has a cause
these days, and hers is a good one, but we are being deluged. It's like
when your mother tells you something ten times and you finally yell back, "I GET
it." Pop culture is meant to entertain, not abuse. An entertaining pop culture
demands that, at some point, the pop culture icons step back, give us time to
digest what they're saying, and then let the satirists take over. But in this
landscape, there is no stepping back..The line is crossed and then crossed again.
There is no time to take it all in, and definitely nowhere to take the satire. This kind
of pop culture is no culture at all. It's a Pandora's Box of bad taste gone too far.

To that end, E-Pop! this week brings at least a measure of control. If the
current focus on "Wake Up, I'm Fat!" Camryn Manheim is really emblematic of
the pop franchising of diseases and afflcitions and conditions, then E-Pop! can
chronicle them by God. We can list them. We can be overly compulsive and make
lists and maps and graphs, all in an effort to comprehend, digest, edit and get a
grasp on the images, news and causes we are bombarded with daily.

Who owns what, that's what E-Pop wanted to know. So we did a little
research, and the following is a list of diseases and afflictions, the
celebrities who have co-opted them and the icons they emulate.

* To protect the anonymity of celebrities currently in 12 step programs, in
those instances, E-Pop only lists first names and last initials.

Affliction.......................Current Owner..............Icon (If applicable)

Depression.....................Tipper Gore....................Eeyore
Sad Former Child Star.....Dana Plato.....................Buffy from family Affair
Fat Girl Rights................Camryn Manheim............Mama Cass
Fat Men Who Don't Care.John Goodman................Orson Welles
Funny Fat Man Addict.....Chris Farley....................John Belushi
Sexual Harrassment........Kathleen Willey...............Anita Hill
Skinny Girls Rights.........Calista Flockhart.............Twiggy
Basic Drug Addiction.......Changes weekly..............Keith Richards
Bald Is Beautiful..............Billy Zane.......................Telly Savalas
Widowhood.....................Katie Couric...................Jackie Kennedy
Single Motherhood...........Jodie Foster...................Murphy Brown
Tired Conservatism...........Dan Quayle...................Jerry Falwell
Chronic Fatigue................Open............................Cher
Hepatitis..........................Naomi Judd...................Open but odds are Naomi
Suicide............................David Strickland.............Judy Garland
Weight Fluctuation...........Oprah W........................Oprah W.
"Cheated On" Spouse.......Kathie Me Gifford............Hillary Rodham Clinton
Bulimia............................Paula Abdul...................Princess Diana
Anorexia..........................Tracey Gold...................Karen Carpenter
Trash...............................Bette Midler...................Open
Nymphomania..................Kate Moss.....................Vivien Leigh
Alcoholism.......................Oliver Reed....................Otis from Mayberry RFD
Cocaine/Crack..................Darryl Strawberry...........Marion Barry
Failed Relatives................Michael Reagan's son.....Billy Carter
Sexual Cumpulsion...........Michael Douglas............Vivien Leigh
Lying...............................Bill C.............................Pinocchio
Prescription Painkillers......Matthew Perry...............Liz T.
Hunk Gone Wrong............Jan Michael Vincent.......Lex Barker
Recovery..........................Robert Downey Jr..........Betty Ford
Quadriplegia.....................Christopher Reeve.........George Wallace
Cranial Facial Disorder......Cher.............................Jocelyn Wildenstein (Exhibit A)
Parkinson's Disease.........Michael J. Fox...............Kate Hepburn (needs to be told)
Plastic Surgery................Jennifer Grey.................Ivana, as in "I vant the whole..."
Breast Implants................Pamela Lee..................Jenny Jones
Epilepsy..........................Jackie Joyner Kersee.....Open
Manic Depression............Carrie Fisher..................Patty Duke
Breast Cancer..................Linda Ellerbee...............Happy Rockefeller
Ovarian Cancer.................Liz Tilberis....................Gilda Radner
AIDS...............................Sharon Stone...............Elizabeth Taylor

E-Pop! Issue # 18: Sound Bytes: Rupert Murdoch, Ruth Reichl, and Your Star Wars Name

Sound Bytes: Reading Between The Lines

As Moms Mabley once said, "Ain't nothin' an old man can bring me but a message from a young man."

Putting that to the test, News Corp. chairman and media mogul Rupert Murdoch married a a former TV personality half his age a week ago. Soon after, he issued the statement, "The world is changing very fast.... Big will not beat small any more. It will be the fast beating the slow." A media mogul getting jiggy with talk of the Internet, or an old rooster spinning the sexual dilemma of the aging Viagra man? You decide.

So, what's his next book? "The 60 Second Mogul?"


This week, an E-Pop! reader sent in a surefire way to stimulate your social life - figure out your Star Wars name! This deft reader write to say that it appears that George Lucas uses a formula to create all those names you see in the Star Wars trilogy and Phantom Menace (Jar Jar Binks, Obi Wan, etc.)

According to this person, davekropf, the formula to discovering your Star
Wars name is yours if you follow the steps below:

Star Wars First Name
#1: Take the first 3 letters of your last name.
#2: Add to that, the First 2 Letters of your first name.
Star Wars Last name
#1: Take the first 2 letters of your Mothers Maiden Name.
#2: Add to that, the first 3 Letters of the name of the town or city you were born

There you go! There's your Star Wars name.


Sinda Phwas


Ruth Reichl is Tender to the Bone

Ruth Reichl is delicious, delectable, divine, and a little short on

Now it can be told. The feared New York Times food critic uses a
thesaurus. "When I first started," said Reichl this week in an interview, "I
knew in my thesaurus that all the adjectives for "Delicious" were under
number 298 and my thesaurus just flipped right to it."

According to Brill's Content, other than using "irresistable" 61
times in print, Reichl has been inventive in her use of adjectives,
describing a panna cotta as "trembling," oysters as "coppery" and sausage as
"wimpy." An appetizer with the odd name of "spaghetti vegetables" arrives,
according to the House of Ruth, "looking like an Aztec God of a salad.
filaments of carrots, cucumbers and beets crowned with long slices of fried
plantain. It's a beautiful thing, with all that color. It makes you wish it
tasted better."

A friend of Ruth (FOR) notes that when trying a bite of vegetable
sushi, Ruth chews carefully and quizzically, as if waiting for the vegetable
to announce itself. Finally she speaks "Lotus bulb," she says as she subtly
reaches for her pen.

As Reichl herself claims in her new book "Tender At The Bone," :
"All I can do is say to my readers: This is who I am and this is what

Words for us all to live by.

E-Pop! Issue # 19: Noncommittal Celebrities Piss Us Off

E-Pop! feels like a 15 year old girl waiting to get pinned by her first boyfriend.

As we skip along at school in our tartan plaid, take a drag from our first cigarette, and look around us at the pop culture landscape, at those faces and figures who influence our daily lives, we are consumed by one wish:

Dammit, we want a commitment!

This lack of commitment wafts in the air from the halls of power (will Hillary run for Senate or not?) to that Puerto Rican poster boy who shakes his ass and swings his arms like an orangutan, dressed in Prada as he shimmies his way into our vibe with that damn ambiguously gay Livin' La Vida Loca.

Is Hillary’s listening tour a prelude to some mass media coronation in which her cult-like celebrity will elevate her to Evita status (Don't cry for me, Adirondacks)?

Is Ricky Martin gay or not? Can it be possible that teenage girls look at this man with blond highlights, a blazing tan, flowing silk Prada shirts, and two inch heels and think to themselves - "mama, he wants me bad?" Can denial be so pervasive in the malls of middle America that Ricky can hold Oprah's hand as he says things like "I am single by choice, it is my time to be on my own" and "whenever I think about relationships I go do yoga until it passes" and girls can still swoon with possibility?

Is there any question that we are livin' la vida non-commitmente?

Finally, can we take another minute of the Tom and Nicole show? Their movie should have been called "Mouth Wide Open, Nothing Comes Out." Watching Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman interviewed by veterans Larry King and Diane Sawyer this past week was painful. Larry and Diane usually nail their subjects and get Eyes Wide Shut. An excerpt from Dateline:

Diane Sawyer: "Tell us what the movie is about?"
Tom Cruise: "It is what it is."
DS: "But what happens?"
TC: "It's not what happens, it's how people interpret what happens."
DS: "Well how do YOU interpret it?"
TC: "I interpret it on so many different levels. It's different every time
I see it."
DS: "What will a film goer take away from Eyes Wide Shut?"
TC: "It will be different for everyone who sees it."

Later on Good Morning America, Nicole Kidman added:

"It won't be the same for two people. You will experience it at whatever place you are. You will see whatever it is that you need to see."

Great. And the force will be with us. And Pat Morita, Arnold from Happy Days and later the wise Kung Fu master from The Karate Kid, will remind us to look within. And we will all drift off numbly to "Esoteria Land," where no one ever gives a straight answer.

While Tom and Nicole ponder the mysteries of the sphinx, let's take the mystery out of the multiplex.

I saw the movie! Great lighting! Nicole Kidman's milky white ass is exquisite. The flick is about the effects of relationship secrets on a cocky young man whose world, and relationship, are not as stable as he thinks. 2 1/2 stars.

Any more questions? No? Good. As a goodwill gesture for our commitment, send E-Pop! $8.50 plus popcorn.

E-Pop! Issue # 20: Let's Talk About Talk Magazine and Its Demise

E-Pop! is ready to leave a bag of rocks a la the Blair Witch outside your tent (and you know who you are) if one more conspiracy theorist writes about the strange occurrences surrounding Kennedy deaths, Nerine Shatner, or even the incredibly lame The Blair Witch Project.

But if you can bear one more look at strange coincidences, then consider this: Joe DiMaggio Jr. died very quietly on the anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death, which is the same week that Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency twenty-five years ago. Nixon died the same week as Jackie O. Nixon and JFK were bitter enemies. Kennedy and Marilyn had a well publicized liaison. The new Oliver Stone film has a revived Marilyn pulling the trigger of the missing second gun from behind Oswald at the Book Depository. Gladys Kravitz died the day The Blair Witch Project opened.

But in the spirit of the new Talk magazine, please don't find any interlocking connections between these events. That's not what we do anymore in the age of "Talk" and Hillary.

Since August is a slow news month, there's still fallout from the revelation in Talk that Hillary considers Bill's cheating a "weakness" and that he - separately, mind you - was scarred by abuse at a young age trying to please both his mother and grandmother.

But, what did we learn? Certainly not that people have complicated pasts. We knew that. Give us credit. Maybe what we learned is that America really values silence in this age of spilling your guts. Maybe Fran Lebowitz wasn't so off when she wrote "Spilling your guts is attractive as it sounds" back in the 1970's. Whatever the motivation behind these revelations from Hillary, her stock has dropped only with the media-savvy, educated intelligencia. But we aren't her crucial voting block, are we? Polls from suburban New York State upped Hillary 10 points in the past two weeks.

And you thought the Web site campaign for the Blair witch was good marketing?!

But in general, if the last three years of the Clinton presidency taught us anything, it's that Americans value silence as a rare commodity. We see stoicism in it. And the more Clinton appeared stoic and silent under attack from "loudmouths," the more we liked him.

Now Hillary is talking. Hell, she even revealed that she isn't the "Waspy-shiksa-four-eyed Goddess" from Yale we thought her to be. Nope, she's a Yenta. I am just waiting to see her outside Xabar's handing out free bagels and schmear.

Hillary is like that Calvin Klein Contradiction ad - "She is always and never the same."

But her brief soundbytes about Bill's one-step-up-from-Jerry-Swaggart
-confessional-post-infidelity aren't the only reasons to check out Talk. Famed Algonquin Round Table writer Dorothy Parker once described herself as a mess pretending to be a tragedy.

It's an apt comparison for both Hillary and Talk. Talk, the child of Tina Brown's own post New Yorker "Listening Tour" is full of a lotta talk and not much action.

In fact, it drove me back to a dictionary to make sure I understood the word "talk." In all his wisdom, Webster points out four possible uses of the word "talk":

A) talk back : to answer impertinently
B) talk sense : to voice rational, logical, or sensible thoughts
C) talk through one's hat : to voice irrational, illogical, or erroneous ideas
D) talk turkey : to speak frankly or bluntly

Of these four, the new magazine "Talk" does C) and D) to the extreme, A) moderately, and sadly, B) far too infrequently.

Some of the articles are unusual, such as a very international piece on "The Old London Theatre", and a new point of view, pop-culture stab at explaining the complexity and mentality of the middle east in "Disarming Iraq-Saddam Hussein."

Just as the format of "Rolling Stone" mixed with "Paris Match" meets the sensibility of "Vanity Fair" with a dash of "The New Yorker", along comes "The National Enquirer" to give us the rest of the articles such as:

* The Hip List. Possibly the oddest "Hip List" ever, the only way I can explain the inclusion of "Thick cut bacon, snow cones, chimichangas, and scabby knees" is this: Tina Brown must have been working really late a lot, hungry, and falling down in her quest to fetch dinner from the delivery man at the Hearst security desk.

* The Party Scene. Sad paparazzi photos of a "C" list party scene with a standout photo of the increasingly-grizzled-and-pointless wax figure Tony Curtis with his terrifying "Brigitte Nielsen's-bigger-sister" amazon wife Jill. For a better example of how paparazzi photos can look reasonably interesting with fun captions, check out the last two pages of "Detour".

* The Requisite JFK Jr. tribute article. This one is just a few pictures from Peter Beard. How do you say in French, "Afterthought?" One eerie aspect of the photos, however, is the early relationship between John and his cousin Tony Radziwill, who just died this past week at 40.

* Al Fayed's Revenge. A tribute to conspiracy theory in the form of an open diatribe by Al Fayed basically accusing Prince Philip of killing his son Dodi and Princess Diana. But, by the time of publication, this theory was dismissed even by Al Fayed and knocked off of the pop-culture radar screen by the new Diana book, alleging that Diana had borderline personality disorder (but with the author's general description of it --- "impulsive, charming, perfectionist" - then everyone I know is "borderline personality disorder."

* The Payback Quotient. If there is any question that Tina Brown, the consummate publishing politician, is on the "payback trail", then consider her list of "The 50 Best Talkers", including Jesse Jackson, Alec Baldwin, Barbara Bush, Loud producer of "Die Hard" Joel Silver, Barry Diller, Beck, Arianna Huffington, and "drag queen pundit spouse" Pat Buckley. With the exception of newcomer Beck, who is more notable for his Carnaby street suits than his talk, this list reads like a "Where Were You In The 80's" article from "Vanity Fair."

So after all this, what is "Talk"? If E-Pop! was writing the media kit, what would we say in a positioning statement? How about this:

Talk isn't cheap. It's $2.95. Talk is gun rage, summers at the beach and the "non-child porno" series of Calvin Klein ads. Talk makes you take your clothes off and go dancing in the rain. It's about livin' la vida loca even if you aren't hispanic. Talk is the Algonquin meets a rent boy. It's stoic Republicans, cheating, abused Democrats and funny black people. It's Asians who are living the American dream. Talk is Krispy Kreme doughnuts and Tae-Bo and Balthazar. It's Lorna Luft on her old friend Gregory Peck. It's Martha Stewart flinging her K-mart panties at Puff Daddy. And it's also Puff Daddy catching them in his Ferrari speeding down Further Lane toward his Mansion. Talk is Gwyneth Paltrow visiting Uganda and writing about it in her journal when she's really clear after yoga class. It's what life is like for the receptionist at photographer Patrick Demarchelier's downtown studio. It's Jackie Collins picking her ideal dinner companions, none of whom read her books. It's celebrities who write Haiku, and celebrities who sun unashamedly on the mattresses at Mondrian's Sky Bar. It's British actresses who want to be Cher. And it's Cher revealing that she doesn't know who the hell she is. Talk is gay men and lesbians who love architecture but dispel the commonly held notion that they must love disco. Talk is the "Friends" TV show cast on what God looks like from the Hollywood Hills. Talk is Queen Latifah wearing real fur that she can verify was already dead when she bought it. Talk is Viagra, Botox, and real Ginseng capsules, not that crap you get in a Snapple. Talk is Jerry Seinfeld when he takes off his baseball cap. Talk is two geishas revealing ancient Chinese secrets to Madonna over whispered giggles and lemongrass tea. Talk is the feeling you get when you are on the Jitney, tired and droop-eyed on a Friday, speeding past Commack but not yet in Southhampton. Talk is not Linda Tripp. Talk is a bitch, it's a lover, it's a friend, it's a brother. Do you believe in Talk? Do you believe in Talk after love?

E-Pop! Issues # 21: The 1999 Emmy Awards (Mother! Missy!)

Let's talk "Pre-Show" first. It's the last pre show before the Millennium, as Joan kept yelling at us.

Joan Rivers and her "Mini-Me" daughter Melissa hosted the E! Pre-Show again. Joan brays "Missy, Who have you got???" Missy grabs at, dismisses, and fawns over the steady stream of celebs who venture her way, twirls them around, and sticks her finger down her throat. The amazing part of this exercise in humiliation is how many stars are incredibly gracious to Joan and Missy, despite the awkward on-camera encounters.

This, of course, serves a purpose by making the star feel magnanimous and superior while allowing the rest of us to be voyeurs.

On those days when we are tough on ourselves, don't we all need a Missy Rivers in our face now and then to remind us how fabulous we really are in comparison to her?

The only real joy for TV-watchers is in watching the stars squirm. You don't even care about the clothes anymore. It's much more exciting to witness social awkwardness.

I mean, who cares about the black dress Julia Roberts was wearing? Far more interesting was Joan fawning over Benjamin Bratt and asking Julia (a nominee herself, but this seemed to elude Joan) how it felt "that this is not about you?"

E-Pop! Issue # 22: Flash! Miss America Exclusive!

Saturday was a big night for short-and-sassy-hairdo lover Heather Renee French, Dorothy Hamill's spiritual hair spawn and the new Miss America 2000 from Kentucky! She knocked out two blond muffies, an adopted Asian, and an African-American woman from Illinois who really should have won. According to eyewitness reports, Ms. French, who apparently earned that last name of hers, thanked all the little people she crushed with stiletto pumps on her way to the throne.

She'd neither divorced nor aborted a child at press time, yet Miss French indicated that she would have happily done either, "for harmony on the Miss America set."

In an exclusive E-Pop! interview, Miss French stated, "in the coming year, I look forward to teaching the retarded to sing 'Dixie' and sleeping with Kevin Costner."

E-Pop! Issue # 23: Ronald Reagan and Dutch &, Garth Brooks and Chris Gaines

Did you hear a rumor that the delay in E-Pop!'s latest issue was due to writer's block? Or a lack of good chewy pop culture punditry? Or possibly, due to E-Pop!'s boobs getting frisked at Heathrow airport?

None of these are the E-Pop! True Hollywood Untold Story.

The true story is that, like writer Edmund Morris and his dilemma with Ronald Reagan, we've had trouble penetrating "the alabaster depths" of pop culture these past two weeks, trying to come up with a "final word" on the whole "Dutch" controversy.

Therefore, we have created a fictional character to be part of history at this crucial time. This character will see and interpret the real world through fake eyes. He will explain to us the dark recesses of what could have driven Edmund Morris down the terribly long, bizarre road of reinventing the genre we call "Biography."

Enter Chris Gaines.

Chris Gaines, E-Pop!'s skinny, black-haired "heroin chic," alternative-rock singing friend from college, bears a striking resemblance to the hefty, apple pie-faced, graying country singer Garth Brooks. In fact, Chris Gaines just released a music album that sounds suspiciously like Garth Brooks on percoset singing to a trance beat.

When Chris first told me that his friend Edmund Morris was writing a "fictionalized biography" of Ronald Reagan, we were shocked. Chris flicked his long black hair that falls in his face when he sings, smeared his black eye mascara until his face looked like a gooey black Dali canvas, and told us that yes, it was all true. Twenty-five years ago, he was Watergate's real infamous Deep Throat. That secret haunted him for years until Edmund Morris found Garth's alter ego slumped in the back of the White Horse Tavern drinking Chivas, wondering if his career would ever be more than just "that fake skinny guy who sings just like portly Garth Brooks, but isn't really."

Immediately prior to the release of "Dutch," Morris' fictionalized biography of Ronald Reagan, Chris Gaines and Edmund Morris found themselves at Heathrow Airport getting their boobs and butts frisked alongside Miss Diana Ross.

"Touch Me In The Morning, Just Not There" Diana urged Edmund on, saying that years of denial made her career, and would do wonders for him as well.

That gave Edmund the courage to finish the last, fake chapter of Reagan's life. In the final take on the Gipper, the former President speeds down the Pacific Coast Highway holding the hand of Edmund Morris' "Zelig" character, a la Thelma and Louise, headed toward either the rocky cliffs of La Jolla or the inner recesses of his mind. You E-Pop! reader, might as well take your pick.

Sound incredible? Not if you actually make it through the 600+ pages of "Dutch".

"Is there any there there?"

This is the question Edmund Morris asked of Reagan, but it is also the question E-Pop! asks of Edmund Morris.

The big pop culture message the past few weeks seems to be, "you're nobody if you are actually yourself." Reality is just too boring for the pre-Millenium pop culture-immersed population. We like interesting characters even if they're fake people. We like product offshoots. We like "truthiness." We like options.

Someone apparently forgot to mention to Edmund Morris that, in the event his unparalleled access to one of the most influential Presidents in history did not bear juicy fruit, he had another option. He could (gasp) just write what happened. Write about actual events. Chat about Iran Contra more than just skimming the topic. Or, discuss policy successes and failures and their context in American History.

Call me crazy, but thousand of biographers will back me up on this one, Ed.

Or maybe you should just get your own category at Call it Cinematic Biography.

I suppose that pop culture fans shouldn't be surprised. Other media such as film and TV have been reinventing biography for years.

In the film JFK, Oliver Stone blurred the lines between fiction and real life documentary to the point where some history students are actually studying this film in college. The film Jefferson In Paris made slavery look like a footnote to the plight of star-crossed lovebirds. E! News and NBC's Dateline create, in their words, "recreations of actual news stories," where you see Selena's killer fleeing down steps and shadowy figures robbing gasoline stores. And then, of course, there was what some might say was the ultimate media precursor to the Reagan years, the Jerry Kazinski film called "Being There, Peter Sellers as Chauncy Gardener was the simple-minded gardener who says things like "We must tend the flowers in the winter to have blooms in Spring," and is heralded by a cynical America as a
brilliant leader.

If you read the myriad "Dutch" editorials and op-ed pieces that have inundated us lately, you know that some have griped with the mini-details. George Will, for one, spent too much time dissecting, quite literally, the truth behind Reagan's colonoscopy. He and Morris publicly disagreed about whether Reagan's doctor referred to part of the colon a "white, necrotic ridge, and compared it favorably to a vista of the Rocky Mountains.

Some have said that having a "Zelig-like" fictional character in a biography is a distraction.

But these details seem pretty minute in comparison to the fact that Morris took the "Zelig" concept one step further and constructed a whole family for himself in "Dutch," including a fake son who attended U.C. Berkeley in the 60's. The fake son's political ideology is seen as the backdrop for Reagan's crossover from Democrat to Republican in roughly the same time period.

But editorial mistakes are just the tip of the iceberg. If you think Diana Ross is pissed off lately, stop by the Reagan house in Bel Air. Nancy must be beside herself. Or is she?

As the dust settles on all the errors in "Dutch" (after all, many books have errors), and talk continues about writer Edmund Morris' single-handed creation of the new genre of fictional biography, conspiracy theorists are popping up to explain why Morris would take such a risk.

For example, is it a coincidence that Garth Brooks' new "concept" album entitled "Chris Gaines," apparently, also came out the same week as "Dutch"?

My favorite theory about Dutch is that Morris spent so much time with Reagan that he ended up becoming very close with him, and that the whole "fictional" aspect of "Dutch" was a device to cover up the presence of Reagan's Alzheimers in his final years of office. Remember all that cruising down the Pacific Highway in the "pre" second term debates that a misty Reagan shared with us?

Another theorist proposes that "Chris Gaines" is actually Deep Throat and that, if you take the 4th word in every lyric the fictional singer sings on his album, he is actually sending top secret information to the reforming "Evil Empire." The timing of the album was planned to coincide with the controversial "Dutch" to keep attention off of the subversive actions of that Communist Garth Brooks. I mean, Chris Gaines. Come on.

For fourteen years Edmund Morris trailed Ronald Reagan. Maybe he actually thought
he was there from the start. Maybe Morris has Alzheimer's, too.

That would explain why Morris says he couldn't find the words to explain a man who prepared for his summit meeting with Gorbachev by watching a video of The Sound of Music. What's Reagan supposed to do? Practice saying "Evil Empire" over and over again?

Morris writes about the Reagan pets as if they were humanoids of great historical influence. If this man had written Nixon's biography, you can bet there would have been a steamy "kiss and tell" from Checkers the dog.

In the final analysis, isn't this book the ultimate Reagan irony? Isn't it a perfect metaphor for Reagan that he would have "an imaginary friend"? Has anyone else noted that the first biography of a President known to have Alzheimers is filled with all sorts of "Alice in Wonderland" characters, with Washington, D.C. as the metaphorical looking glass?

Finally, does the public really care about fiction vs. fact? Or in this media age, does it really matter as long as the characters command the headlines?

Early sales of "Dutch' are strong in retail outlets, but their sales figures are tangibly linked to initial pre-orders. Last week's "Chris Gaines, the Television Special" was last in the ratings. And as for "Chris Gaines the CD", Garth Brooks' head-scratching attempt to re-invent himself as an Australian rock star was overshadowed by a real rock band from Florida in the latest record sales derby. For the first time since 1995, a Brooks album failed to debut at No. 1 on the U.S. pop album charts.

Despite the current environment in which they seem to thrive, fake people don't last. History will show that Morris' argument that he couldn't penetrate the "alabaster depths" of Reagan is as pale as Chris Gaines' fake, skinny ass, and probably just as clammy.

E-Pop! Issue # 25: E-Pop!'s Annual POPPIES Awards

Instead of analyzing, mythologizing, and trashing awards show, isn't it time that E-Pop! held its own?

Now that we're in the first month of 2000 (we don't call it the Millennium due to the overwhelming numbers of readers, mostly Virgos, who wrote us saying that the millennium really starts in 2001. Whatever.), E-Pop! looks back with fondness, nausea, and awe at some of the people, places and events that spurred us on this year.

Unlike Life Magazine, which is having a field day performing due diligence on every pop culture happening of the last century (from pop rocks to the hula hoop), E-Pop! is focusing on what rocked our world this year for better or worse. Without further adieu, the 1st annual "POPPIE" Awards:


* The "I smell a Goosebumps-style invasion of product offshoots saturating the kiddie market about to happen" POPPIE goes to…Harry Potter.

* The "Guns and Rosies" POPPIE goes to...The bitching about guns while getting paid by gun supporter K-mart was not such a smooth move Rosie.

* The "Your ass is grass this year" POPPIE goes to… Jennifer Lopez.

* The "Best Impression of Ricky Martin" POPPIE goes to….Chris "Mango" Kattan, who showed Jay Leno in three easy steps the guaranteed trademark Ricky Martin moves that are seeming more and more one-note.

* The "AIDS isn't over till Sharon Stone says so" POPPIE goes to...Sharon Stone, who kept reminding us over and over as if we actually forgot.

* The "Barbara Walters coming out interview about to happen" POPPIE goes to….Tinky Winky the Teletubbie, who will neither confirm nor deny Jerry Falwell's claim that he "models the gay lifestyle."

* The "No thanks, I'll fly US AIR even if I arrive late and hungry" POPPIE goes to…the single engine private plane that claimed JFK Jr and Carolyn this summer, and later, Payne Stewart.

* The "Best cleaning, scraping and painting the walls renovation" POPPIE goes to...(a tie!) The new Radio City Music Hall and…Cher.

* The "Most o-v-e-r awards show" POPPIE goes to…The Daytime Emmy Awards. Now that Susan Lucci won, who cares about daytime Emmy's now?

* "I (Wish I) Saw Dead People" POPPIE goes to...The cast of The Blair Witch Project for milking us all out of $8.50 to see a stack of sticks and hear three untalented actors use "Fuck!" as an adjective, adverb, noun and pronoun.

* The "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" POPPIE goes to...the Fox show Action, recently axed but the best show by far of the last TV season.

* The "Hey, have you looked at demographics, dude" POPPIE goes to...the directors of programming for all four networks who somehow forgot to include blacks, Hispanics, Asians and gays other than Will and Jack, in their 2000 lineups.

* Best "stellar return of two 2nd tier celebrities, can Ken Olin be far behind?" POPPIE goes to…Billy Campbell and Sela Ward of "
* The "Vanished faster than 'A Flock Of Seagulls"" POPPIE goes to…Leonardo DiCaprio.

* The "Hello Dolly, Well Hello Dolly, It's So Nice To Have You back" POPPIE goes to…The Dalai Lama for bringing peace and enlightenment to all during a free appearance in Central Park. That is, until you tried to get home amid gridlock and then it was just back to "get outta my F-ing way."

* The "Get a new name for yourselves and get a shave, too, 'cause you ain't babies anymore" POPPIE goes to…Generation X.

* The "Your 15 minutes is up Dude, I don't care what PEOPLE magazine told you" POPPIE goes to...That guy who won $1 Million on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

* The "Best War Posturing" POPPIE goes to…Madeline Albright who leaned up against Sean Connery at a D.C. function and told him he could "invade her territory" any time he wanted.

* The "Josie And The Pussycats camp value" POPPIE goes to…Pokemon the Movie, whose characters, such as Pikachu, talk like the 2nd string of The Scooby Doo
Adventure Hour

* The "Internet slap on the keyboard" POPPIE goes to...Bill Gates for getting fined the equivalent (to most of us) of a dime or so, for monopoly infringements.

* The "tired song besides Shake Your Bob Bon" POPPIE goes to….Mambo # 5.

* The "inspiration for Mambo # 5" POPPIE goes to..Bill Clinton for "needing a little Monica in her dress, a little bit of Betty in the press, a little bit of Hillary and her slaps, a little bit of Linda with her taps."

* The "Three Strikes and you're out, we will not always love you" POPPIE goes to: Kevin Costner and "
* The "Just when you thought it was safe for middle aged people to stop having sex because no one else does" POPPIE goes to: Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo for looking so awesome at forty-five.

* The "I Smell A Naomi Judd" POPPIE goes to…Garth Brooks, who announced his retirement but do we really believe he won't be doing final concerts for the next ten years? One question, though: does his alter ego Chris Gaines get retired too? Now that would make for a happy new year.

And finally,

The "Now It's Lee Remick!" POPPIES for saddest departures go to...JFK Jr., his wife and her sister, Payne Stewart, Madeline Kahn, Dusty Springfield, sad suicide of the year David Strickland, Peggy Cass, Grandma Walton, Gladys Kravitz, the lady whose voice was the original Cruella De Ville, Doomed Dana Plato, flaming-caftan-wearing "Grease" Producer Allan Carr, Dr. "Bones" McCoy from Star Trek, Mario Puzo (God made an offer he couldn't refuse), and Stanley Kubrick, whose eyes were fortunately wide shut by the time his Tom Cruise movie opened and bombed this year.