Weekly Obsessions

Things we were obsessing about on Jan. 19, 2005

Except for sports and The Daily Show, we had pretty much given up on TV. Now that people have eaten crickets, gone sky diving with billionaires, and married their cousins on the tube, it's hard to imagine there's anything left worth watching. Then, two Sundays ago, we saw this: a delusional bikini-clad Amazonian out of an R. Crumb drawing getting completely wasted; a 2-foot-8-inch man, also wasted, eating sushi off a naked supermodel's body; said supermodel and the pixie singer of the Go-Go's skinny-dipping; said 2-foot-8-inch man butt-naked and pissing himself; the guy who played Peter Brady getting felt up by the 2-foot-8-inch man. Whoever said there's nothing new under the sun hasn't tuned in to the new season of The Surreal Life on VH1. Damn. G.K.

If I could have only one season pass on my TiVo, it would have to be the addictive Project Runway, Miramax's stylish reality show on Bravo. It's an ongoing soap opera that features a dozen flamboyant, mercurial young fashion designers who have the talent to back up their tantrums. From the first challenge (in which the kids were given $50 each and sent to a supermarket for their supplies -- the winner's dress was made of corn husks), I was hooked. Host Heidi Klum shepherds the designers, the models (also competing for a spread in Elle), and the judges through the weekly runway shows and eliminations (the final three standing will present lines at New York Fashion Week, and the winner gets $100,000 to start a company). Our favorites include the waspish, wasp-waisted Austin, who wears more makeup than the models, and burly rock 'n' roll Jay, who favors wacky hairdos and a multitude of scarves. As fascinating as the fashions and the fashionistas is the fashion-speak: colorful, inventive, and obnoxious. The whole package is FAAABULOUS. M.B.

Damn DIRECTV for dumping Trio, the pop-culture channel, with its signature Brilliant But Cancelledshow devoted to neglected television. Luckily, before it signed off, we taped nearly the entire run of super-cool Johnny Staccato, the 1959-60 series starring John Cassavetes as a private investigator/jazz pianist -- hard-boiled, but with a poetic center. Staccato's home base is the Greenwich Village jazz club Waldo's, where his swinging sidemen include Red Norvo, Shelley Manne, and Pete Candoli. There are plenty of scenes set in beatnik coffeehouses, but the shooting ranged across New York; the intense, 29-year-old Cassavetes makes calls from Times Square phone booths, grabs trains in Grand Central, and takes the subway uptown to Spanish Harlem and downtown to Chinatown. Guest stars include film noir veterans Charles McGraw and Elisha Cook Jr., and young actors just starting out: Shirley Knight, Michael Landon, Martin Landau, Mary Tyler Moore, Dean Stockwell, and the exquisite Gena Rowlands as Cassavetes' wife. There are videotapes, soundtrack albums, and a Frank Kane paperback out there, but we're first in line for the DVD. Please!?! M.B.

 
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