Simon Cowell Knocks Up His Best Friend's Wife: Cowell, 53, once said "God, no, I couldn't have children. With kids, you've got a routine you can't escape from." Looks like he had an accidental change of heart/affair with his best friend's wife! Cowell is unexpectedly "expecting a baby with NYC socialite Lauren Silverman! She's 10 weeks along." Trickily enough, the 36-year-old mom-to-be is "still married to Cowell's close friend, NYC real estate mogul Andrew Silverman — but plans to leave him to be with the Brit." Good luck with that.
It's not that rare for even a healthily successful band to be mildly haunted by the specter of their first big joint. Franz Ferdinand, though, have forever been outrunning just the first 53 seconds of the first time you ever heard them — that perfectly yearning intro bit on "Take Me Out," before the track switches over to the band's more recognizable disco-punk, and never, ever, as much as you'd want it to, ever goes back. Next month, they're back with their fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions, which will surely be another collection of underrated, deceptively seamless dance jams. And, still, we'll pine for those 53 seconds.
Forget all the eye-rolling surrounding the release of A Good Day to Die Hard this Valentine's Day weekend — no cynical money grab of a fivequel can change the fact that Bruce Willis is an undeniable gift to American cinema.
Before we get into this, let's be up front about something: We have not checked the math ourselves. We have day jobs, and thus are unable to scour 238 episodes' worth of data, as much as we'd like to be doing exactly that right now. OK? Are we on the same page? So here we go: Some guy on Reddit claims to have totaled up the number of sexual partners for the characters on Friends, arriving at a figure of "138-ish." (The inexactness of the final number is baked into the methodology; at times, your Chandlers and your Rachels were maddeningly oblique in their mentions of their romantic lives.) Anyway, here is the carnal breakdown by individual Friend:
Younger readers — or readers of my Friday Morning QB columns — may not realize it, but there was a time when Thursdays on NBC were the premier night in all of television. From The Cosby Show and Cheers to Friends and Seinfeld, "Must See TV" was the rare promotional slogan that also managed to be factually accurate: There was no better collection of programs anywhere on the network dial. As entertainment president of NBC from 1991 to 1998 (and before that, the executive in charge of comedy), Warren Littlefield had a front-row seat for all of the drama behind the scenes of the most beloved sitcoms of all time. (He also had the privilege of being affectionately mocked on his biggest hit when Seinfeld cast Bob Balaban as the weak-stomached, Elaine-loving exec Russell Dalrymple.)
In 2012, Littlefield wrote an immensely entertaining oral history/memoir about his experiences called Top of the Rock, and it was that book that brought him to the Grantland studio last month. It was a real pleasure having the chance to talk with a guy who was in the room when the Charles Brothers pitched Cheers and has gone golfing with Larry David and survived the experience. This is a must-listen for those who remember how high the Peacock once flew — as well as for those curious for how it might just get itself airborne again. I should warn you, though: With so many classics to cover, there simply wasn't enough time to discuss Veronica's Closet.
Last night's episode of Happy Endings revolved around Penny's "thirtieth" birthday, which wasn't quite a success not only because she lies about her age, but also because Penny's birthday is cursed. In a series of flashbacks, we see the evidence: a clown getting CPR when she was 7; the ill-advised gift of a pet going nuts and terrorizing the gang. This year, the curse has manifested itself in a series of misadventures involving several different choices of restaurant for the birthday celebration; finally, the group ends up at their usual hang where a gypsy woman either reinforces the existing curse or hits Penny with a new one.
Happy Endings is a show that doesn't shy from calling out its pop-cultural ancestors, and last night's episode had a lot: "Character Who Always Has a Terrible Birthday" is a classic TV trope.
It's December, which means all over the dial TV characters are learning the true meaning of the holiday season. Below, a few of Grantland's favorite Christmas specials.
"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"
Michael Weinreb: I don’t know how many television sitcoms have ever started their run with a Christmas special (other than South Park, which did it on the Internet, but not on the airwaves), but this is why The Simpsons is The Simpsons: They shattered so many rules about television that this episode — which originally aired December 17, 1989 — doesn’t even seem particularly good anymore (even when some mysterious dork remixes it in sepia tones and speeds it up to 78 rpm). I have a distinct memory of watching it as a teenager and thinking I’d never seen anything quite like it, but now it comes across as so earnest and slow-paced that it doesn’t even feel like parody. All of which is further proof of The Simpsons' colossal brilliance: No writing staff has ever lapped itself this many times over the years.
And so it’s fair to say that there may be Christmas specials on this list that hold up better over time, and there may be Christmas specials that are funnier or more endearing, but this is still the most culturally important Christmas-related program ever to air on television. Even the dumbest greyhound on earth can see that.
If corporations can be people then so too can networks have personalities. Fox, for example, is youthful and brash, rife with protagonists who refuse to play by the rules, be they doctors, ten-year-olds, or megalomaniacal Brits. ABC has long been the Secret of networks, strong enough for a (sensitive) man but ph-balanced for women. While CBS is essentially what everyone down in Lower Manhattan is currently protesting: rich, old and crushingly successful. (#OccupyStudioCity!) NBC, however, is a bit more complicated.
It’s been ever so for the peacock, or at least since Chandler Bing snarked his last back in 2004. Back then, NBC was top bird in the demographics that mattered: hip young urbanites (and the strivers that wanted to be like them). Seinfeld, Friends, ER were all massive hits that projected an air of confidence and cutting-edge cool. Then somebody Zucked it all up: the last half decade has been a near-satirical spiral of dud shows, ill-advised “reinventions” and a crippling Leno addiction so powerful it would leave Charlie Sheen shaking his head and recommending rehab. In the midst of the macro, “NBC is a disaster” narrative, though, a smaller micro trend emerged: we media types mocked NBC with abandon but it also quietly became home to our most loved, least watched shows, comedies like Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock and touchy-feely hours Friday Night Lights (RIP!) and Parenthood. If you were to ask any casual industry watcher what NBC’s identity was, the answer would probably still involve the words “cool” and “Tina Fey.” But here’s the thing: making a show precisely for the commenters on the AV Club isn’t exactly profitable. This generous, art-endorsing era that bought The Office time to succeed and gave Coach Taylor five seasons of pep-talks and uplift was, in reality, an aberration, an almost accidental flowering of excellence while corporate eyes were busy putting out larger fires and taming wilder white tigers.