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Tuesday Notebook

By admin Published: August 18, 2009

I'm a Weather Channel fan, on TV and online. A true believer in Local on the 8s, which is often the first (and sometimes only) TV viewing I do in the early morning. But that's becoming less and less of a habit because it now involves "Wake Up With Al."

With NBC owning the Weather Channel, the inevitable corporate cross-marketing and promotion has taken place, including having "Today" weatherman Al Roker star in an early-morning show on the Weather Channel. The weather is still there, but it comes surrounded by banter between former Clevelander Roker and the other co-hosts, and a lot of strained joking, and unnecessary features like "Weather in the News."

I want the return of the knowing, blandly pleasant forecasters who delivered the information around Local on the 8's in a precise way, without guffaws or melodrama. I may be unusual in this -- my last favorite early-morning show host, after all, was Hughes Rudd -- but I really hate starting my day with a bang and chatter.

In conjunction with my link Sunday to my DVD column, I mentioned that I had extra DVD info that didn't make the print pages. To wit: Today's DVD arrivals include four TV-movies based on Nora Roberts tales, one of which is of interest to non-Roberts fans. That's "Northern Lights," which stars Eddie Cibrian and LeAnn Rimes; from working on the movie, they reportedly jumped into romance. While denials ensued, their respective marriages crumbled. So you can go clue-hunting on the DVD.

Also today, the ABC movie "These Old Broads," from 2001. My review when it aired was fairly short, so here it is:

The ABC movie These Old Broads has funny moments, though not enough, and not where you might expect them.
Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins play stars of a '60s movie that has become a hit on rerelease. A network executive (Nestor Carbonell, the funniest character and performance here) decides to reunite them for a TV special but has a little problem: The actresses hate each other.
With the help of MacLaine's son (Jonathan Silverman) and a formidable agent (Elizabeth Taylor, awful and over the top), the special gets started. But - in a script by Reynolds' writer-actress daughter Carrie Fisher and Elaine Pope - those old comic mishaps ensue.
The mishaps are weak and predictable. Getting to the inevitable musical finish is labored. Fisher has done better by some of this material in Postcards From the Edge, the 1990 MacLaine-Meryl Streep movie adapted from Fisher's book.
And don't let the early-evening air time - 8 p.m. Monday on ABC - fool you. This is definitely a movie for adults. Tolerant adults with low laugh thresholds.

I'm not a huge fan of Tilda Swinton's work, regardless of her Oscar. But I was intrigued by "Julia," now on DVD, a thriller where she plays a much flashier character than she has in recent better-known films. The movie hasn't made much of an impression in what I have seen so far -- still working through it -- but Swinton is very watchable.

With the news that columnist Robert Novak has died, I went back once again to "The Boys on the Bus" to revisit what that 1973 journalism classic said about Novak. I think the commentator's image had hardened over the years into a grouchy, kneejerk conservative, but author Timothy Crouse gave the earlier Novak his due:

Novak might have been a little short on warmth and general humanity, but he was considered a great notebook and shoe-leather journalist, an incredibly hard-working man, almost a machine, who always seemed to know which lobbyist was with which Senator in which hotel room. During his days on The Wall Street Journal, he had become almost a legend. ... [His column with Rowland Evans was a success because of] its tantalizing unpredictability. It would contain inside stuff on everybody, no matter who was helped or hurt. ... [But] During the Kennedy and Johnson years, it became smart and fashionable in Washington to be liberal. ... So Novak, the maverick, deliberately went off in the other direction.

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