Monstervision Host Segments for
[steps off spiral staircase, tucking shirt in] Joe Bob Briggs, coming to you from my new Sunset Boulevard pad in Hollywood--
UPSTAIRS VOICE: Darling, put a load of whites into the laundry, would you?
Ignore that--she's not talking to me. Tonight we have one the best neo-noir flicks of the last ten years--or as my colleague Roger Ebert calls it, slacker noir. The great Coen Brothers comedy-thriller "Fargo," with William H. Macy as a Minnesota car salesman who arranges to have his wife kidnapped by Steve Buscemi, and Frances McDormand as the sheriff with a bun in the oven who works on the case while chowing down at the local smorgasbord. By the way, don't I have a great view? If you look close, you can see right into Ed McMahon's bedroom. But let's not dwell on that. Anyhow, Frances McDormand won an Oscar for this performance, and the flick got the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, so let's do those drive-in totals and start it up. We have:
Seven dead bodies.
Two breasts, which we won't see.
One motor-vehicle chase, with crash and roll.
Bullet to the face.
Ax to the head.
Gratuitous Japanese lonely guy.
Four stars. It's a great flick--check it out, and I'll be here with you throughout.
[fading, looking out windows] I think I'm gonna like it here in El Lay. Talk about your beautiful chicks.
UPSTAIRS VOICE: Thank you, dear!
My sister. She's in from the coast. Oh, this IS the coast. She's in from the . . . prairie.
"FARGO" Commercial Break #1
"You're a frozen liar." "You can't say one frugal thing. Just total fruitless silence." I don't think the TNT censors have ever been that creative, do you? This must be one of those flicks where the director purposely had the actors record goofy versions of the lines, to mess with the network. In this case, it's actually directorS, because even though Joel Coen gets the official directorial credit--why am I saying that? "Directorial." That's not a word. Who invented that. Joel gets the director's credit, and Ethan Coen gets the producerial credit. And both brothers get the writerial credit. Frances McDormand is married to one of em. Joel gets the husbandial credit. Actually, Joel and Frances once lived in an apartment with Ethan Coen, Sam Raimi, Holly Hunter and Scott Spiegel. That's why they all pop up in each other's movies all the time. Frances starred in "Darkman," which was directed by Sam Raimi. Bruce Campbell, of the "Evil Dead" movies, babysat Sam Raimi's little brother. It gets pretty incestuous. Keep your eye out for Bruce in this flick. Half the audience just went, "Cool!" and the other half is about to change the channel--and we haven't even seen Frances McDormand yet--so let's run the ads and get back to the flick.
[fading] Joel and Ethan Coen are really from Minnesota. They like to call it "Siberia with family style restaurants." Looks accurate. Hey, you on camera one--you're a frozen liar! I don't want any frugal pancakes! What? Frooz me? Well, frooz you!
"FARGO" Commercial Break #2
Thirty-four minutes into the flick, and we finally meet Marge Gunderson. Like I said earlier, Frances McDormand won Best Actress for this movie, and she's really not even in it all THAT much. But she made this huge impression on people. And William H. Macy shot to stardom when this came out, didn't he? He'd been in at least 45 movies before this, and he played the cranky chief of surgery on "E.R.," but after "Fargo" he was hot hot hot. Had a great part in "Boogie Nights" the following year. Currently starring in "Mystery Men." Started out in Chicago in David Mamet's theater company. I bet you guys don't know Bill's also a writer. Bill, that's what his friends call him. Wrote for "thirtysomething." Wrote some movies of the week, including one for TNT, our humble network. "A Slight Case of Murder," airing tomorrow night. Stars in it, too. Eight p.m. Keep at least one of your TVs tuned to TNT at all times. Because the average American household does have 4.7 TV sets. Some people have em in the bathroom. And you know what? I don't wanna think about it. Okay, let's watch some commercials and get back to it.
[fading] I should point out that the people who drive by and witness the murder and then crash their car were actually the storyboard artist and the craft service girl on the movie. A storyboard artist helps the director plan the shots by sketching them out, and craft service is the table with all the snacks and coffee and Tasty treats for the crew. So on the day they filmed THAT scene, it was just coffee in styrofoam cups and Cheese Doodles, I guess.
"FARGO" Commercial Break #3
[sign: tnt.turner.com/joebob] I love Peter Stormare as the grumpy Swedish thug. Guy goes from doing Ingmar Bergman flicks and directing Euripides to playing crazy pancake-eating psychos. Well, while he and Steve Buscemi "have company," why don't we open up some mail and have our own company. I speak, of course, of the TNT Mail Girl--[knock at door] Come in!
[Rusty sticks her head in]
Rusty, I've told you you don't have to knock.
RUSTY: I'm never sure what's gonna be going on in here.
Like what, Rusty. What's gonna be going on here?
RUSTY: I don't know.
RUSTY: The guy next door told me she was in a soap opera in the sixties--what was it called--"Wilton Park."
Who was in a soap opera in the sixties?
RUSTY: Sure. This is from Jennifer Woodside in Weaverville, California.
"To Joe Bob Briggs:
Well, Jennifer, thanks for the compliment on my bolo ties. Tori Spelling is indeed one of the most underrated actresses in daddy's whole company. Do we have a link to Tori's web page on [holds up sign] tnt.turner.com/joebob?
"Anyhow you're the only guy on TV that has made me accept the bolo tie. Before it was like plumber's pants, or people in the city who follow their dogs around with those little baggies. I just pretended not to notice it, but I've since come to terms with that accessory.
"I'm trying to get my hands on a Joe Bob Briggs autographed picture, indelible ink, bolo tie and all. In its resplendent glory. Hey, every trailer home has to have a symbol of the country that was established by the first trailer homes, yep, those covered wagons. What would better symbolize that than a picture of Joe Bob himself? People might start putting up pictures of David Hasselhoff, and that's just wrong.
"Someday maybe you'll get to host Tori Spelling's 'Mother May I Sleep With Danger.' Probably on the same day we figure out how we all accumulated so many coffee mugs for so few people, and some child says 'When I grow up I want to be LaToya Jackson,' and they auction all Janet Reno's dresses off for millions of dollars.
"Til then, why am I in this handbasket, and where am I going?
RUSTY: Good question. You know, you do have some bolo ties that are very nice. Are they expensive?
Well, some of them are.
RUSTY: You like expensive jewelry, don't you?
Well, I guess, yeah.
RUSTY: Do you insure it?
My bolo ties. I don't know.
RUSTY: You don't know whether you insure them?
They might be insured.
RUSTY: Hmm. [exits]
What's going on around here?
"FARGO" Commercial Break #4
You know, some of the people in Minnesota don't much CARE for this movie. Because they think the accent is a stereotype. Well, people, welcome to what it feels like to BE FROM THE SOUTH. The Coen Brothers are FROM Minnesota, they make ONE movie with the accent that must be SOMEWHAT authentic cause you couldn't make it up, and everybody goes "We're not really like that." "So, you married old Norm son-of-a-Gunderson." I can't do it.
Okay, be back in a few.
[fading] "So, you married old Norm son-of-a-Gunderson." I can't do it. [with Texas accent] "So you married old Norm son-of-a-Gunderson." That I can do.
"FARGO" Commercial Break #5
[clipboard] Yes, that WAS Jose Feliciano, entertaining Steve Buscemi and his escort in the Celebrity Room. And Steve Park as the weird widower who hits on Marge in the Radisson lounge. Remember him as the Asian guy on "In Living Color"? Course, if he wasn't playing an Asian guy, it would've been a stretch, wouldn't it? As I was saying, Minnesotans HATE "Fargo." I found something funny in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune written by a guy who grew up there, Ian Shoales. Some of you may remember that Ian and I used to do commentary together over at The Movie Channel. Anyhow, Ian listed the reasons Minnesotans hated "Fargo." Pretend I'm reading this in a Minnesota accent. [reading from clipboard] "1) The movie was too weird. 2) Why the heck was it called 'Fargo' when most of the movie took place in Brainerd or the Twin Cities? 3) The movie was too violent. 4) The movie made Minnesota look bad. 5) The movie made fun of the way Minnesotans talk, and we don't talk like that anyway. 6) The movie was too darn mean. 7) What was that scene with the Japanese guy all about? 8) There was just something creepy about it. 9) I didn't like that 'Pulp Fiction' movie either. 10) Don't get me started on 'Feeling Minnesota.' What's the deal with that Keanu Reeves anyway?" Pretty funny article. He calls the Minnesota accent "Minnesonics." Okay, let's watch some more, in a minute.
[fading] The Coen Brothers always make fun of the locals. They did it to Texans in "Blood Simple." Arizonans in "Raising Arizona." Angelenos in "The Big Lebowski," with Jeff Bridges as "The Dude." See, I've been made fun of twice, and I'm not mad. But I'm not a citizen of Los Angeles yet. You can take the boy out of Texas, but you can't take the rabbit ears off his TV set.
"FARGO" Commercial Break #6
I guess this is where it gets "too darn violent" for those Midwesterners. Great scene where the guy tells the cop VERBATIM about his conversation in the bar with Steve Buscemi. "And he says, 'So where can a guy find some action? I'm goin crazy down there at the lake.' And I says, 'What kinda action?' and he says, 'Woman action, what do I look like?' And I says, 'Well, what do EYE look like, I don't arrange that kinda thing," and he says, 'I'm goin crazy down there at the lake,' and I says, 'Well, this ain't that kinda place.'" I can't believe Minnesotans don't like this flick. I should point out that that was Harve Presnell as Wade Gustafson, best known for "Paint Your Wagon," the 1969 Clint Eastwood musical. Co-starring Lee Marvin. Needless to say, Harve blew both of em away in the singing department. "They Call the Wind Mariah." Then he disappears from the screen for twenty years, and comes back to play Lois Lane's father on "Lois & Clark," and starts doing all kinds of flicks, including "Fargo," "Saving Private Ryan," basically picking up right where he left off. Okay, exciting conclusion to "Fargo," coming up.
[fading] Nobody really understands the math of exactly how much money Bill Macy needs, right? It's either forty thousand or eighty thousand or a half a million or a million. Watch any Hitchcock film that deals with money--you can never figure out the details. That's because Hitchcock knew the audience didn't care about all those details, they just cared about the characters, and how they were gonna extricate themselves from the danger. Same thing here. But in Minnesonics.
UPSTAIRS VOICE: Joe Bob, honey, would you make me one of your special Ensure milkshakes and bring it up to me? I'm in my boudoir!
Uh, I'll have to run out for that. Be back in a couple of hours! [exits]
UPSTAIRS VOICE: A couple of hours? Darling, go to the place on La Cienega. Joe Bob?
"FARGO" Outro/ "To the Limit" Intro
We got that Anna Nicole Smith movie coming up, the one with the thunder thighs, which reminds me of last winter when I was a judge in the Miss Hawaiian Tropic Contest in Miami Beach. Did I mention that to you guys? Yeah, I spend a certain number of days a year volunteering my time for various charities. Anyway, perhaps you're not familiar with the RULES at a professional bikini contest. You think you're just gonna sit there and quaff a few brews while the high-heeled beach bunnies slink by you? I think not. This is serious business.
"Do not judge on crowd response." That's the FIRST rule on the printout they give you at Miss Hawaiian Tropic. This is a tough one when you have 500 crazed party animals gathered round the swimming pool on South Beach, ready to howl at the slightest imbalance in the halter-top jiggle, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
Second rule: "Judge on OVERALL BEAUTY, not one particular asset or lack of such." I like the way they say that: "lack of such." Fortunately I was sitting next to one of the PAST Miss Hawaiian Tropics, who was also a judge, and she filled me in. It means don't vote for big breasts. And I asked her "So why didn't they say 'Don't vote for big breasts.'" And she says, "It's because the audience will always cheer for big breasts, but big breasts don't look that great in a bikini ad." And I said, "Well, if it's a bikini ad for Melons Monthly Magazine . . ." And then she didn't talk to me anymore.
"Do not count off for cosmetic enhancements as long as it looks appropriate." What does THAT mean? If it looks appropriate, then how do we know it's a "cosmetic enhancement"?
"Do not discuss your scoring with the contestants." Self-explanatory, right? "I thought YOU definitely should have won. I voted for YOU. You are DEFINITELY prettier than her."
And this one was interesting. "Vote the way you feel, not the way your neighbor feels." So, of course, what was I doing? Staring at my neighbor's ballot the whole time, who happens to be Ben Williams of the Minnesota Vikings. Any of you guys ever seen Ben Williams? Shoulders the size of Montana. The man is an Office Building. Anyway, the first thing you have to do is choose the 15 finalists out of the 55 girls. So we've already seen 44 girls, and I'm looking at Ben's ballot, and he's only voted for ONE. And I say, "Ben, you've gotta vote for 15 girls. There's only 11 left. Why aren't you voting?" And he says, "Well, I've only seen one girl who was outstanding. I mean, they're good-looking girls, but I think for Miss Hawaiian Tropic you need to be outstanding. I ain't gonna vote for em unless they're outstanding." And I said, "Life is good in the NFL, isn't it, Ben?"
But here's what was interesting to me about the crowd reaction. There were some girls in this contest who were professional models--perfect body, perfect face, they knew how to walk, had the attitude. MODERATE applause. "Sheila is a full-time model who has appeared on the cover of Vogue and in many other magazines." Clap clap, big deal, right? And then the announcer says, "Kimberly is a part-time aerobics instructor who works at Hooters in Vero Beach." STANDING OVATION--the crowd goes wild. I personally thought these girls from Brazil were the most beautiful. They had those IMPOSSIBLE bodies, waists that were like, eight inches around, and hair that would normally take nine days to get it lookin this good. And the crowd would START to get excited, and then the announcer would say the word "Brazil," or the word "Sweden," or whatever, some foreign country, and it would be back to clap clap, okay, pretty good, no big deal. But then: "Ellen is a substitute teacher in Orlando." CROWD GOES BERSERK. Even if Ellen looks kinda NORMAL, you know? Which just proves, what I think is beautiful and what you think is beautiful are two different things and we shouldn't be so hung up on it, right? Except for, you know, REAL ugly. Some people fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Nothing you can do about that.
Anna Nicole Smith, however, is not one of em. Anna looks like she MIGHT have worked at Hooters. By the way, there IS a connection between these two flicks. Anna had a little part in "Hudsucker Proxy," which was directed the Coen Brothers. Welcome to the logic of TNT Programming.
[fading] So what's the deal with guys who think Heather who works at Kinko's is more beautiful than Astrid who has appeared on "Baywatch" and models lingerie in Paris? Are guys turning into total WEENIES? What cultural phenomenon is going on here? Write in and tell me about it, okay?
Onward to the Real Monstervision double-feature: John Carpenter's "The Fog" Monstervision host segments and Wes Craven's "Swamp Thing" host segments. And that will be hosted, of course, from Joe Bob's trailer parked somewhere in the remote Hollywood hills...
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Man accidentally killed in wood chipper (actual news item, posted at Darwin Awards)
Another man pulled into wood chipper (L.A. Times 4/9/08)
Host segment transcript ©1999 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved