Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Did Alia Shawkat Do?

"Arrested Development" fans have it tough. They knew, pretty much from the beginning, that they were investing their affections in a show that was perpetually on the bubble. That didn't stop it from hurting when the network would switch its time spots, wait until the last second to renew, reduce the number of episodes each season, and eventually blow off the final four episodes in one two hour orgy on a Friday night when nobody would be watching. The heartbreak is on-going, as fans are tossed scraps of news about a possible movie adaptation; one week it's on, the next week it's off, and repeat.

One of the greatest triumphs for "Arrested Development" fans is the career of Michael Cera. Post-"Arrested," his profile skyrocketed. He's got a great track record of critical and financial hits, and his name is a draw for movie executives and audiences alike. Which leads me to wonder why the same can't be said of his "Arrested Development" love interest (err... cousin), Alia Shawkat.

With every bit the acting talent, comedic timing, and unconventional good looks, there's no reason her post-"Arrested" career shouldn't have taken a similar trajectory to Cera's. Instead, she's been relegated to supporting roles in movies nobody sees, like Bart Got a Room, Whip It, and The Runaways. Do we blame her agent? Or do we blame a studio system that doesn't know what to do with a girl who is neither supermodel hot nor "fat best friend" material? Maybe if she did a couple seasons on "Saturday Night Live," casting agents would know exactly what to do with her.

At least she's working. But she deserves better. Hollywood... let's work on that.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Podcast Rollcall: Comedy and Everything Else

Genre: Comedy, Politics

What It's About: Comedians discuss various aspects of comedy - such as the road, clubs, and fellow comedians; they also delve into politics, finances, religion, and the upbringing of future generations. Think Real Time with Bill Maher, but more conversational.

Why You Should Care: Hosts Jimmy Dore and Stefane Zamorano effectively create the atmosphere of spending time with friends. And as when you're with friends, the conversation is interesting, but especially full of laughs. Dore loads the show with clips, enhancing the points he's making. The rough-around-the-edges aesthetic adds to its charm. The episodes are long, so you want to make sure you have a lot of time carved out to listen... in which case, you're always left wishing it were longer.

Frequency: Weekly

Average Length: Two and a half hours

As always, if you become a regular listener to a podcast that solicits donations, try to find a way to make the occasional contribution.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Podcast Rollcall: The Moth Podcast

Genre: Storytelling

What It's About: The Moth -- and I don't know why it's named that -- is sort of an open mic night, but without the requirement of comedy. Anybody attending a live Moth event can get up on stage and tell a story from their lives. The rules are to keep your time to about ten minutes, and you cannot have any prepared notes. Just get up on stage and tell your story.

Why You Should Care: Although this show can be hit-or-miss depending on the speaker or the subject matter, most of the stories are interesting, well told, and either heartwarming or heartbreaking. In other words, if you like to hear a good story -- and who doesn't? -- then this show is for you.

Frequency: Irregular (usually several per month)

Average Length: 15 minutes

As always, if you become a regular listener to a podcast that solicits donations, try to find a way to make the occasional contribution.