Friday, July 31, 2009

Bits: Week of July 26, 2009

Dr. Mary Lee Amerian’s skin care line is fabulous. Recently I finished filming a show and found my skin to be tired and dull looking. After two days of using Mary Lee Amerian’s skin are products, I felt the glow return. The products made my skin feel clean and firm. Now Dr. Amerian can reach out to others with her new skin care line, which I highly recommend.”—Tracey Ullman

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tracey Attends The Premiere Of Julie & Julia!

by Marc Malkin

Last night's red carpet screening of Julie & Julia attracted a bevy of celebs, including the movie's costars Meryl Streep, Amy Adams (who, by the way, looked fetching in a white Roland Mouret dress and Tiffany jewels) and Chris Messina, T.R. Knight, Tracey Ullman, Ashley Greene, Kate Flannery, Giada De Laurentiis, and also from the film Jane Lynch and Mary Lynn Rajskub.

Streep stars as the late world-famous chef, Julia Child, while Adams plays a New York City government worker who decides to spend a year making every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Childs' book first published in 1961.

With the movie centered so much around food, we gotta admit we were famished by the time the end credits started rolling. Thankfully, we found an In-N-Out burger just steps away from the theater.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mel Brooks: History of his world, part 1

Friday night's tribute to Mel Brooks at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences was as heartfelt as it was hilarious.

Leonard Maltin was, as ever, a fantastic host. The tributers were extremely qualified to talk about Mel and his impact on the biz, his unique genius and the crazy-funny stuff like how Brooks squeezed an extra $300,000 out of MGM/UA's David Begelman (tip: always hit up a studio chief up after lunch, not before) so that Richard Benjamin and Brooks' Brooksfilms banner could do right by "My Favorite Year" (thank goodness they did).

Carl Reiner revealed that it was Burns and Allen -- George Burns and Steve Allen -- who ensured that "The 2000-Year-Old Man" routine -- something Reiner and Brooks had done for fun at parties for years (as Reiner put it, "for Jews and for non-antisemitic gentiles") -- was put down on wax and mass marketed as a comedy album(s). Burns told them after one party perf that if they didn't record it "he would steal it," Reiner recalled. And then Allen went a step further and booked studio time for them to record a few routines.

Everyone on the stage made a concerted effort to convey love and admiration for Brooks, as an auteur and as a human being. But I submit that nobody made quite as much of an effort as Teri Garr. She demonstrated incredible grace and resilience in walking on stage to join Lesley Ann Warren and Tracey Ullman in a discussion of performing opposite Mel.

Multiple sclerosis has taken a physical toll on Garr, but the neurological disorder has not claimed the exuberant spirit that caught Brooks' eye way back when. After a clip of "Young Frankenstein" was shown, Garr deadpanned, "I haven't changed a bit."

(Pictured above, from left: Richard Benjamin, Lesley Ann Warren, Mel Brooks, Leonard Maltin, Teri Garr, AMPAS' Sid Ganis and Tracey Ullman.)


Another emotional moment in a night of big, big, can't-catch-my-breath laughs came when Brooks himself noted during the Q&A with Maltin how deeply he was moved by the clips of his late wife, Anne Bancroft, from "Silent Movie" and "To Be or Not To Be." They were married for 40 years and had a son, Max, who sat next to his father during Friday night's fete. As my husband observed, Bancroft was immensely talented, and she was a babe.

-Cynthia Littleton

Saturday, July 25, 2009

State of the Union: A Very Funny Show

JULY 24, 2009


Women don’t watch The Simpson’s .....

or at least, we don’t admit to it. We sigh and roll our eyes at the crassness of animation, and shake our heads at the men and children parked in front of the set. Come late night TV, however, we grab that pint of mint chocolate chip and sneak off to the guest bedroom to laugh our heads off at the person behind it all. Tracey Ullman was FOX Network’s first real star. She could act, sing and dance – and her impersonations would bring the house down. Ullman rocked the house with the Tracey Ullman Show for years, inspiring the the Simpson family and spawning a series of Ullman shows. She made it big as Britain’s most wealthy comedienne – then became an American citizen and shifted gears. She appeared in the wildly popular Ally McBeal as the self absorbed lawyer’s therapist, made plenty of Ullman specials on HBO, and most recently made the move to Showtime. Tracey is everything women have to secretly admire in another woman. She made it in the old boys club – comedy 25 years ago wasn’t kind to the fairer sex, but Ullman blasted her way in. In her State of the Union (which has been received with thunderous acclaim) Tracey takes full advantage of her citizenship to poke fun at her chosen country – and we can’t help but laugh along. Quietly. So as not to wake our husbands. She was the inspiration for the Simpson’s, after all! Blush!!! Check out Tracey Ullman and catch up on State of the Union.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DVD Review: Tracey Ullman - Tracey Takes On...

Something that's always mystified me about movies is how the term "character actor" signifies a lower class of performer. You see I was always under the impression it is an actor's job to re-create the character that either the playwright or script writer had created. Silly me; people don't want to pay money to see Tom Cruise trying to be someone else, they want to see Tom Cruise fighting Martians War Of The Worlds or being a brave German army officer trying to kill Hitler Valkyrie. In fact, if the character's name isn't in the title of a film, I'd bet most audiences would only know his character as "the guy Tom Cruise played".

Nothing personal against Tom Cruise, you could replace his name in the previous paragraph with that of almost any other current or former movie star and it would be that same story. I say almost because there are some actors out there today who do create characters to play on screen, and aren't content to only play a variation of themselves. However, even when you do get someone creating a character for a movie, you often get more of a caricature than a real person. Most of the time what you'll see is a something along the lines of a few emotions passed off as a person: this is my character angry, sad, happy, and horny. Or even worse, what you see on screen is a mish-mash of stereotypes that identify a type but bear little or no relationship to a human being.

It's been years since I've seen any of Tracey Ullman's television work, so I had forgotten her skill at creating characters and bringing them to life. However, after watching the new release from Eagle Rock Entertainment, Tracey Takes On, her talent is indelibly etched into my brain. The release is a triple-disc DVD set of the third and fourth seasons of her HBO show of the same name, What makes her work so memorable is the fact her characters are multi-dimensional, and the more you see and get to know them, the more human they become.

Each segment of Tracey Takes On features Ullman's characters acting out what everything from "Obsession" to "Hollywood" means to them. Ullman introduces each collection of vignettes by citing an example or two of her own experiences and then we immediately segue to the first of her characters with something to say on the subject. Now I haven't seen any episodes from the first two seasons, but I have to assume that the collection of characters we meet over the course of these three DVDs have appeared throughout the history of the show, so some of you might already be familiar with names like Ruby Romaine the make-up artist; "Chic" Middle Eastern taxi driver; Trevor the gay airline steward; Sydney Cross the loud mouthed attorney; Chris and her lover Midge, a pro on the LPGA tour; Fern Rosenthal a Jewish retiree from Long Island living in Florida; Linda Granger ex star of the television show VIP Lounge; and the rest of Ullman's menagerie of characters.

While her characters cross all boundaries of sex, race, religion, and age not once do they come across like stereotypes. Of course in some people's minds Ullman wearing black face in order to play an African American airport security officer named Sheneesha Turner, or her portrayal of Mrs. Non Nang Ning, the ancient Asian donut shop owner, is probably horribly politically incorrect. However as she's not holding back from skewering anyone or anything, I think these characters have to be taken within the context they are presented, some of the best social satire you'll ever see on television.

It's not just the way in which she tackles each of the subjects being "taken on" in each segment, it's the fact that the opinions being expressed are by characters, who border on being stereotypes, make each scene's sharp edges even keener. For as we watch the characters over the course of the three discs we get to know them far better than we would normally know any character on television. Ullman tricks us on occasion by sliding in something that's not funny, or is very gentle in its humour, which creates a bond between the audience and the particular character by showing them to be more then we had previously thought them to be.

Of course there are some characters for whom you're not going to feel any affection like Birdie Godsen, who has annual book barbecues in her gated community for her fellow Devout Christians living on Dan Quail Drive, or Erin McColl the earthy folk singer who you end up wanting to plant under six feet of earth for being so annoying. However, for the most part something of what can only be described as the characters' humanity shines through, allowing us to identify with their situation. It also turns the tables on us as it changes them from being objects of ridicule whom we've been laughing at into people whose feelings we can identify with, leaving you feeling just a little wrong-footed.

It would have been nice if there had been some liner notes with the package, breaking down who appears in which episode alongside Tracy Ullman, or something supplying a little bit more information about the show aside from the blurb on the back cover. True, there is a link to the show's web site where you can find detailed information about each episode, but that's not the same thing as having something you can refer to while watching the show. The special features on the other hand are great as they feature in-depth looks at two Ullman characters we met in this package and one we didn't meet at all. While one skit is a repeat, the rest is all new material and as funny and pointed as anything else in the collection.

It's rare for film and television actors these days who are willing to subordinate themselves to the character they're playing and even rarer to find one capable of creating a character with more depth than a cartoon cut out. Not only has Tracey Ullman created a very pointed, and sometimes poignant, look at modern life with her series Tracey Ullman Takes On, she does so by creating characters who are both funny and very real. As this was a cable television show originally, it comes with the requisite warnings about drug use, nudity, and some language. However it fails to give you two very important warnings that you'd be wise to heed before watching any of the material on this three disc set: Do not attempt to drink while watching this show because of the danger of choking and spitting, and ensure that you have emptied your bladder in advance in order to minimize the risks of pissing yourself laughing.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tracey Takes On…: The Complete Final Two Seasons Arrives on DVD

Eagle Rock Entertainment is proud to release a special THREE DVD set — Tracey Ullman’s, Tracey Takes On…, a hilarious account of the final two seasons of her highly-acclaimed, HBO comedy series including guest appearances by some of the entertainment industry’s top performers, on July 14, 2009 (Pre-book order date June 24, MSRP $26.99).

Now it becomes crystal clear why all these years Tracey Ullman has been advising us after her performances to, “Go home!…Go Home!” She’s wanted us there to pull up a comfortable chair or lie in our beds, turn on our TV’s and DVD players and pop in her Tracey Takes On… DVD. The EIGHT-time Emmy winner knows comedy, knows what we like and knows how to get the most out of her eclectic list of guest stars. Tracey Takes On… includes guest appearances by Hugh Laurie, Bob Costas, Cheech Marin, Julie Kavner, Michael McKean, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Corbin Bernsen, just to name a few.

For those who were unlucky to have missed the final two seasons of Tracey Takes On…, Eagle Rock Entertainment is now making it possible for them to catch the comedic genius that is Tracey Ullman. And for those many, many fans who have seen some or all of these highly entertaining shows, this is the perfect opportunity to not only re-live some of the funniest moments on television, but to also be treated to SEVENTY-TWO minutes of never-ever-before-seen footage.

With each episode focusing on a particular theme (Sports, Love, Agents, Loss, etc,) and a varied guest performer, Tracey Ullman does what she does best…keep her audience thoroughly entertained to the point where we can’t wait to see her again and again.

Eagle Rock Entertainment is an international media production and distribution company operating across audiovisual entertainment programming. Eagle Rock Entertainment works directly alongside talent to produce the highest quality programming output covering film, general entertainment and musical performance. Eagle Rock Entertainment has offices based in London, New York, Germany, France & Toronto.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

2009 Emmy Award Nominations Announced!

Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special

Tracey Ullman's State Of The Union • Episode 205 • Showtime • Showtime Presents in association with Allan McKeown Presents, LLC
Matthew Mungle, Prosthetic Designer/ Special Makeup Effects Department Head
Sally Sutton Craven, Department Head Makeup Artist
Kate Shorter, Additional Makeup Artist

Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-Camera Series

Tracey Ullman's State Of The Union • Episode 202 • Showtime • Showtime Presents in association with Allan McKeown Presents LLC
Martin Samuel, Department Head Hairstylist
Colleen Labaff, Hairstylist

Wednesday, July 15, 2009



This 4-DVD set contains the final two seasons of the HBO comedy series "Tracey Takes On..." based on characters created and performed by Tracey Ullman. Each episode focuses on a particular subject (Sports, Love, Agents, Loss, etc.) in a sequence of hilarious scenes involving a number of Ullman-created characters.

BONUS FEATURES Includes 72 Minutes of Never- Before-Seen Shows!

Special Guests include: Hugh Laurie (House) Julie Kavner (The Simpsons) Cheech Marin (Cars, Cheech & Chong) Michael McKean (Spinal Tap, Best In Show) Billy Connolly (Boondock Saints, The Aristocrats) Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times At Ridgemont High) Corbin Bernsen (Psych, Major League)

Click to purchase your copy NOW!

Side note: Thanks a billion to Allan McKeown and co. It means a lot!


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ullman is a comic (and mimic) genius

Tracey Ullman is the most talented woman in show business.

Not to put too much pressure on her or anything. And, hopefully, not to raise expectations for her new TV show too high — although it's great.

Ullman gives a whole new meaning to the term "one-woman show." An astonishing mimic, she plays pretty much all the parts in her new Showtime series "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union," which premieres Sunday at 11 p.m.

It's a faux documentary, narrated by Peter Strauss, that's sort of a day-in-the-life of people across the United States. One minute, Ullman is an immigrant woman heading off before dawn to make donuts. The next she's a Jamaican caretaker to an elderly Jewish woman. The next, she's former Los Angeles anchorwoman Linda Alvarez (who has fictionally moved to Buffalo).

Ullman isn't not shy about poking fun at TV news. Alvarez's idea of "international news" is that "Paris Hilton has miscarried in Dubai." Former MSNBC newswoman Rita Cosby thinks she's got a big scoop by crawling around the gurney that's about to be used for an execution. NBC newswoman Campbell Brown gives viewers "their daily dose of fear."

It's funny because it's so, um, sort of true.

Ullman also takes aim at celebrities ranging from environmental activist Lori David (ex-wife of Larry David); political pundit Arianna Huffington, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi; actor Tony Scirrico; soccer star David Beckham; and Lindsay Lohan's mother, Dina.

And she creates lots of "regular folks" characters, including the woman with restless leg syndrome; the wife (of three weeks) of a death-row inmate about to be executed; and an executive secretary about to have an affair with her boss.

That's all in the first episode. Which runs 25 minutes. Including the credits.

Some of Ullman's past TV efforts — like her HBO series, "Tracey Takes On ... " — have been good but not great. She's done a fantastic job of creating (or impersonating) dozens of characters, but the shows have been more clever than funny.

No such problem with "State of the Union," which is laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Like when Ullman's Arianna Huffington comments on former presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani.

"You know, it was very smart of Giuliani's campaign manager to make him shave his head. He was having a hard time campaigning in the windier states with his little comb-over flapping and flapping," says the faux Huffington in the faux Hungarian accent.

And there's a wildly entertaining sequence in which Padmah, a pharmacist in Oak Ridge, Tenn., is being robbed by a drug addict — and suddenly she's headlining a Bollywood-esque musical production number.

There's always something unexpected and funny on "State of the Union." Including some footage of Park City in Episode 3 — faux Dame Judy Dench is interviewed about her film at the Sundance Film Festival.

The show airs on pay-cable channel Showtime, so it should come as no surprise that "Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" is not intended for children. There's R-rated language — including multiple uses of the f-word — and sexual references.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Event: Tribute To Mel Brooks

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a tribute to comic legend Mel Brooks on Friday, July 24, at 8 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Hosted by film historian Leonard Maltin, the evening will feature Brooks in person, along with numerous film clips and stories from his artistic collaborators and friends. Special guests will include Richard Benjamin, Teri Garr, Cloris Leachman, Carl Reiner, Tracey Ullman and Lesley Ann Warren (schedules permitting).

Note: Tracey was in "Robin Hood: Men In Tights".