Tracy Morgan joins Cousin Sal and Bill Simmons to describe his alter ego, Chico Divine, and what he can remember from the time he was naked in Jimmy Kimmel’s green room. He also chats about the time he was kicked out of Prince’s house, his Saturday Night Live audition, and his favorite memory from 30 Rock. Plus! His new TV project and much, much more.
The cult of TV brilliance, like a runner on third with less than two outs, demands sacrifice. What unites classic, obsessed-over shows like Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and Arrested Development isn't just their sparkling dialogue; it's their martyrdom. All three were shows that had plenty of time to be great but not nearly enough to disappoint. The unrealized promise of all the jokes and seasons we, as fans, were denied helps prop up the legend and maintain the purity of the sect. It's not enough to love the episodes we did get; one must also burn with resentment for all the ones we were denied. Like James Dean, Kurt Cobain, or Four Loko, the most fiercely beloved TV shows tend to be the ones that died too soon.
But not 30 Rock. Despite ticking all the boxes for early cancellation — too smart, too funny, too New York (at least it wasn't burdened with Justin Bartha) — 30 Rock is the rare cult show that survived. No — it thrived. For seven seasons it churned out brilliant jokes with the efficacy and precision of a finely calibrated fart machine. It invented holidays and catchphrases. It tangled bravely with race and ludicrously with celebrity. Snakes were tamed and sharks were loosed. Ghostface Killah rapped about muffins. Muppets sang at a funeral. At its worst it was good. At its best it was transcendent. It's not enough to say that 30 Rock didn't die. Its whole life was thunder.
Scarlett Johansson Is Depressed: "She was totally out of control in Moscow recently" at a champagne brand's promo event. "She was drinking nonstop and barely slept. It was obvious that she was trying to numb her feelings." She's sad about her breakup with ad exec Nate Naylor. "She's not used to going home alone — it's a shock to her system. The fact that Ryan Reynolds is happily married while she's single again has done a number on her. And the drinking is taking its toll — she's been crying because she feels so fat." She got a lucky horseshoe tattooed on her ribcage "because she's feeling a bit unlucky." A rebound with ex-boyfriend Jared Leto quickly went south. "She thought a fling with Jared would make her feel better, but since it was only a hookup, it only made things worse." Time for Lost in Translation 2? I know I'd pay good money to watch Scarlett be sad in Russia.
Last night SpikeTV aired Eddie Murphy: One Night Only, a star-studded tribute to Eddie. And even if it wasn't SpikeTV, where every programming decision seems vaguely nefarious and inexplicable, it felt like kind of a strange time to do it. At any other point after, say, Dreamgirls, it would have made sense: Sure, Eddie's mostly fallen off, but let's celebrate all the awesome stuff he did back when he was on top. But then we got last year's false-start adult-comedy comeback, encompassed by the lukewarmly received Tower Heist and the canceled plans to host the Oscars. So now it's like we can't help but think about how, at some point in the last decade, Eddie either lost his nerve or decided he didn't really feel like trying anymore. It was an odd thing to see comedian after comedian come up and praise Eddie with what you could tell was genuine devotion, respect, and, sometimes, straight slobbering fandom, and to think, "but what about Norbit? Isn't anyone gonna give this guy shit for making Norbit?"
As an excuse to get a lot of funny people together and to watch a lot of prime Eddie footage, though? It was pretty good.
Our “Postracial All Stars” are politicians, personalities, artists, athletes, etc. who are best at helping us deal with where we are on race relations today. They keep it real, when others can’t. A Barack, a Jon Stewart/Daily Show, a Chris Rock, a South Park, a Lorne Michaels, a Modern Family, a Louis CK (mentioned below), as past and current examples, don’t ignore the “race” elephant in the room. Nor are they cornered by it. They show us old racial profiles in new contexts (i.e. rappers using the n-word, who are young white females). Or a new wrinkle in the current conversation (NBA millionaires premised as "plantation workers"). They are actively engaging, often embracing the nuanced scenarios of today. And making it fun for us to keep tabs along with them.
See, now you get it! This week in order to kick off 2012 proper we’re honoring some of the new blood: herewith, a lineup of Postracial All Stars from 2011.