Thursday, October 20, 2005

Who's Shakira starting this week?

Beats the hell out of me. Moses Moreno? I had NFL Total Access on today as background noise. Rich Eisen was interviewing Nick Bakay, who I think can be funny when he's not trying too hard. The grounds for the interview was Bakay's performance in the NFL Network's "Hollywood Fantasy League."


"Hollywood" implies that the people involved are stars. Nick Bakay, regardless of what I think of his humor, is not a star; he's a niche figure, and it's a pretty small niche at that. I was in the middle of thinking that when Total Access threw up a graphic with the standings in the "Hollywood" league. And suddenly Bakay qualified as a star in comparison:

Wayne Fontes Division: Bakay, Paul Rudd, Guy Torry, Mike O'Malley, Regina King.
Monte Clark Division: Jeff Garlin, Jaleel White, Josh Charles, Larry Joe Campbell, Michael Vartan.

Look, I know I'm getting old. Some of the TV shows today, the movies and the music, they just aren't my "bag." But my wife subscribes to Us magazine. I know Mary-Kate and Ashley. Diddy. I know all about Jennifer and Jennifer and Jennifer. But I had no clue as to who most of these "Hollywood" figures are. Aside from Bakay, I recognized but two: Michael Vartan, who's on Alias and is an actual star; and Jaleel White, who played Urkel.

I had to go rooting around on the Internet to identify the rest of them. I'm not sure you could find a more remote collection of show-biz outliers, stragglers and never-weres in one place. Paul Rudd is a hey-it's-that-guy character actor. Mike O'Malley is an actor, too, but even less recognizable. Guy Torry is some sort of comedian and bit-part actor. Regina King was on 227 about twenty years ago. Jeff Garlin is this guy. Josh Charles was in some stuff I've seen but didn't star in any of it, and I didn't recognize him anyway. Larry Joe Campbell is an utter mystery.

What's funny about this is that our diseased culture has whipped up an entire class of celebrities who are world-famous simply for being famous. You telling me the NFL couldn't get, say, Nick Lachey? Oh, what, Mark McGrath too busy? Kelly Ripa? Sheesh, VH-1 has cultivated an entire stable of Z-list comics who have become ubiquitous cultural commentators. None of them were available? This is the NFL. America's league. My God, if all you can bring in are NHL-level celebrities, don't even bother.

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