At any rate, welcome back to the much anticipated conclusion of the 2017 Sammy Awards!! Our host Andy Cohen is rested & ready with some lame jokes and ample complaints about the cold weather.
To present our next award please welcome a former Sammys host and the straw that stirs the drink on the long running syndicated game show Family Feud…Steve Harvey!! And the nominees are:
Michael Keaton stars in a biopic about McDonald’s “founder” Ray Kroc. However, the thing is…Ray Kroc wasn’t truly the founder of America’s most beloved fast food chain. The Founder details how Dick & Mac McDonald were running a popular & efficient burger joint in California when Kroc, an ineffective but ambitious traveling salesman, inserted himself into the mix. The McDonald brothers were happy with the status quo and had little ambition to grow the business. They had very rigid standards for running their restaurant and were unwilling to sacrifice their ideals. Kroc had a vision of McDonald’s franchises in every corner of America and was willing to do whatever became necessary to make it happen, including eventually freezing out the McDonald brothers from the very business they created. Watch this movie and you’ll never look at a Big Mac the same.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Some people love it, a lot of people hate it. I’m somewhere in the middle. There are two overriding themes in The Last Jedi…”out with the old & in with the new”, and subverting expectations. While the cherished original Star Wars trilogy had three different directors just like the sequel trilogy will have, creator George Lucas seemed to have a unifying vision, whereas this new trilogy feels like it lacks any kind of cohesive guidance. The whole point of The Last Jedi is to toss aside decades of lore and destroy everything we always thought we knew about Star Wars. We live in an age of fan theories, online debates, spoiler alerts, & paralysis by analysis when it comes to entertainment, and in an effort to thumb their nose at all of that the filmmakers make a lot of questionable decisions. There’s an old 70’s R&B tune called Give the People What They Want, but the powers-that-be seemingly have no interest in doing that with this trilogy. Having said all of that, I don’t hate The Last Jedi. It is better than The Force Awakens, but that’s about as complimentary as I can be.
Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, & John C. Reilly lend their voices to an animated tale about an anthropomorphic singing competition. Essentially it is American Idol for animals. Cute but forgettable.
The Boss Baby
Alec Baldwin voices a baby with the mind of an adult who has been sent undercover by a corporation to figure out why people love puppies more than babies, or something like that. Animated films are tricky. Some…like the Toy Story trilogy…are written on a level that appeals to all ages, while others are the children’s film they appear to be. The Boss Baby is the latter.
A Dog’s Purpose
Based on a 2010 novel, A Dog’s Purpose uses doggie reincarnation as the jumping off point for a story in which a retriever named Bailey goes thru several lives and has an impact on multiple owners before eventually (spoiler alert) landing back in the life of Ethan, who had Bailey as a kid but is now an aging & lonely man. If you’re a dog lover you’ll enjoy the film and maybe even get a little misty.
Going in Style
Three elderly & financially challenged pals played by Morgan Freeman, Michael Caines, & Alan Arkin decide to fight back when a bank screws them out of their pensions. How?? Well, by robbing it of course, and you’ll find yourself rooting for them to get away with it despite the unscrupulous nature of armed robbery. There are some funny moments, and the charm of the three leads is undeniable, but the movie just doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
Will Ferrell & Amy Poehler star as suburban parents of an intelligent college-bound daughter who’s headed for The Ivy League. But when the municipal scholarship they’re counting on to pay the bill is pulled by the town’s crooked mayor the couple & their goofy best buddy hatch an absurd plot to raise the money by turning his house into a neighborhood casino. The plan goes hilariously awry, or atleast it’s supposed to be hilarious. I had higher expectations.
You may remember the 1990’s TV show that became a syndicated phenomenon. At one time Baywatch was one of the most popular dramas in the world, despite corny scripts & bad acting, and made Pam Anderson into an international superstar. The film adaptation subs in The Rock for David Hasselhoff, and borrows a few characters from the original television program. The plot is completely inconsequential, but the result isn’t as terrible as one might expect.
I’ve not watched any of the Marvel films. Iron Man. Captain America. The Avengers. Guardians of the Galaxy. I haven’t watched one single second of any of them and have zero interest. I wasn’t a comic book kid and feel like I’m a little old to start with all of that now. However, like any red-blooded American I am familiar with the Big Three superheroes…Batman, Superman, & Spider-Man. Batman is my favorite…I love me some Batman. The other two I can take or leave, but I did enjoy the Tobey Maguire Spiderman movies a decade ago. I thought it was stupid when the franchise was “rebooted” with Andrew Garfield just a few years later, so I skipped those movies. But I was feeling a little frisky and decided to give this latest reboot a whirl. The story doesn’t cover any new territory, but the tone is light enough and Michael Keaton is great as the conflicted & relatable villain. The film is entertaining though not remarkable.
The Big Sick
Based on a true story, The Big Sick is an unconventional yet charming rom-com about a cross-cultural romance that hits a pretty big snag when the young lady falls into a coma. Holly Hunter & Ray Romano are really solid as the woman’s concerned parents.
And The Sammy goes to…..
None. Yep, you read that right. It’s not that any of these are bad films. They are all pleasantly entertaining. But none of them are epic. None are sublime. None are unforgettable. None are deserving of an award. We won’t be watching any of them on a lazy, rainy weekend two decades from now. Hollywood needs to stop being social justice warriors and put their deviant & divisive agendas aside. When a person pays their hard earned money for a ticket and sits down in a darkened theater with their popcorn, candy, & vat of soda they don’t give a damn about inclusiveness, tolerance, awareness, diversity, carbon footprints, empowerment, gender fluidity, safe spaces, or white privilege. Everyone may not agree on what makes a film great, but the desire for a quality, fun, outstanding moviegoing experience is universal amongst all sexes, races, political party lines, economic & educational levels, religious affiliations, & ethnicities. There are talented people out there on The Left Coast…brilliant actors, gifted writers, creative directors. We’ve all witnessed them produce splendid & treasured classics that we watch year after year, decade after decade, thru multiple generations. 2017 wasn’t a good year for them or us.
To present our penultimate award we are pleased to welcome to the stage an actor best remembered for his role as Chachi Arcola in the fabled 70’s & 80’s sitcom Happy Days as well as a 2008 reality show that lasted an epic eight episodes. Please give a delightful round of applause to Scott Baio!! And the nominees are:
Biggest News Story
Vehicular Terrorism in NYC & Britain
On Halloween Day in Manhattan a 29 year old immigrant & ISIS sympathizer from Uzbekistan driving a rented pickup truck ran down almost 20 people who were jogging & cycling on a bike path. Eight people were killed. A few months earlier, on March 22, another Islamist nutjob had run down about 50 pedestrians in London, killing four people, and in June a van containing three Muslims killed eight people and injured nearly 50 on London Bridge. Anyone see a common thread here??
The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive in history, abolishing a million & a half acres of land and doing over $10 BILLION in damage.
Congressional Baseball Shooting
Since 1909 members of the United States Congress have played a charity baseball game every summer. In 2017, while practicing for the annual game, four people were shot by a leftist Bernie Sanders supporter with a history of domestic violence. Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise was shot in the hip and endured multiple surgeries, spending several weeks in the hospital.
The battle over government-run healthcare rages on. In 2017 the House & Senate voted to repeal Obamacare’s individual mandate, meaning that by 2019 American citizens will no longer be forced to purchase health insurance if they don’t want to. So basically President Trump restored the freedom that is the bedrock of American liberty that President Obama arrogantly thought he had the right to take away.
Last spring Neil Gorsuch was chosen to fill the year-long void on The Supreme Court left after the untimely demise of Antonin Scalia. All indications are that Gorsuch actually respects The Constitution and has no plans to further a radical progressive agenda. Perhaps we can get 2 or 3 more just like him on The Court in the next few years.
Terror in Virginia
In August Charlottesville, VA hosted a rally protesting the removal of a General Robert E. Lee statue. Counter-protesters…aka Antifa…inserted themselves into the combustible situation and…to the surprise of no one with a brain…violence ensued. A 20 year old Nazi enthusiast from Ohio drove his vehicle thru a crowd of people, killing one person and injuring 19. But that’s not the end of the story. A statement about the situation from President Trump caused a collective hissy fit in the media because he didn’t say exactly what they wanted him to say in the poetic way that their deity Lord Obama may have said it, so Trump was forced to make further statements, none of which were ever deemed good enough.
Immigration continued to be a hot topic in 2017. Some folks are still stuck on the romantic notion that anyone & everyone should be able to come to the United States seeking a better life, doing whatever they want however they choose while taking advantage of the bounty of opportunities available in America but not being held to any kind of pesky legal standards. Conversely, people with critical thinking skills understand that it’s not 1492 or 1620 or even the early 20th century. The world is very different than it was when Columbus or the pilgrims sailed here, and it’s changed dramatically since many of our great grandparents passed thru Ellis Island. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t still welcome tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, just that there needs to be a process executed properly in order to protect our nation from those that might intend to do us harm. It seems like we’ve done a rather poor job of that the past few decades, and I’m not sure why there is such resistance to tightening the proverbial ship just a bit.
Harvey, Irma, & Jose
Hurricane Harvey decimated Houston, TX in August, causing 91 fatalities and over $125 billion in damage, making it the costliest tropical cyclone ever. Hot on its heels was Irma, which caused catastrophic damage in Bermuda, The Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Cuba, & the Florida Keys. Right after that came Jose, which tore thru The Bahamas & Bermuda, weakened a bit, then did some damage in Canada & the northeast United States.
Texas & Vegas Mass Shootings
On November 5 a mentally ill Texas man walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX (not far from San Antonio) and shot 46 worshipers, killing 26 of them. The shooter had been court martialed for domestic violence while serving in the Air Force several years ago and was therefore legally prohibited from owning firearms, but a clerical error caused this not to show up in the background check. On October 1 a 64 year old former mailman went postal and shot over 600 people…SIX HUNDRED…at an outdoor country music concert from his room at the Mandalay Bay hotel. 58 people were killed, and there are still a lot of unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy. Predictably arguments about gun control ensued in the aftermath of these sad atrocities, but we all know there are more meaningful discussions that need to be had about our violent culture.
Sexual Harassment in Hollywood & Elsewhere
It all began with studio executive Harvey Weinstein back in October. A story broke in which multiple women accused Weinstein of sexual harassment and even rape. Then other women spoke out against Weinstein. Within weeks he was fired from his job and essentially banned from everything in Hollywood. And then the floodgates opened, with a plethora of famous men…actor Kevin Spacey, Today host Matt Lauer, Senator Al Franken, journalist Charlie Rose, comedian Louis CK, TV chef Mario Batali, radio legend Garrison Keillor, talk show host Tavis Smiley, Congressman John Conyers, just to name a few…suffering swift & harsh consequences after being accused of “inappropriate conduct”. How we are defining misconduct, what exactly the burden of proof should be, and whether or not there should be some kind of reasonable statute of limitations on accusations are all ongoing & fluid conversations. Everyone agrees that sexual harassment in a professional environment is wrong, but what I can’t seem to wrap my mind around is why so many people obviously knew about the alleged behavior of these creeps for so long but never said a word. There is no shortage of video & photos out there that prove that the Hollywood elite treated Weinstein like he was a swell guy for many years, so why now?? Did all of these people suddenly grow a conscience, or did it just become really easy to pile on when the alleged perpetrator was no longer in a position to put money in their pockets??
And The Sammy goes to…..
Harvey, Irma, & Jose. It comes down to numbers. Of all the big stories in 2017 these three storms combined to do so much damage, cost so much money, & affect so many people that they simply cannot be overlooked. It is important to remember that just because the news cycle moves on to other stories and these disasters are no longer in the headlines that doesn’t mean that it’s over. Entire lives are destroyed…houses gone, businesses lost, & memories washed away forever. It takes many folks months or even years to get back to any semblance of normalcy. So keep the citizen of Houston, Puerto Rico, Cuba, et al in your prayers, and if you have a few charitable dollars burning a hole in your pocket I’m pretty sure there are still entities taking donations.
To present our final award please welcome the First Daughter of the United States and a lively & bellicose former White House press secretary. Give a cordial yet pensive welcome to Ivanka Trump and Sean Spicer!! This is a special first time ever award and there is only one nominee & recipient.
Person of the Year
President Donald Trump
Some people voted for him, some people didn’t. A good many people really like him, while just as many seem to despise him with every ounce of their being. There have always been political divisions in America. Just in my lifetime Republicans have insulted, differed with, & opposed the accomplishments of Carter, Clinton, & Obama, while Democrats have belittled, thwarted, & disputed the ideas & principles of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, & two Bushes. But never have I seen a President treated with such malice by everyone from political opponents to actors & athletes to the not-even-pretending-to-be-impartial-anymore news media. Does he bring a lot of it on himself?? Probably. Donald Trump has never been a shrinking violet. He’s politically incorrect & not afraid to stand up & fight. That kind of take-no-prisoners attitude & his abrasive personality are both his greatest strength & his biggest flaw. Whether you love him or hate him, one cannot deny that President Trump was the center of attention in 2017. Entities from all walks of life were intent on derailing him from the moment he announced his candidacy a couple of years ago, but few thought of him as a serious candidate at the time. Then he went out and won the Republican nomination. Suddenly things got real very quickly, but even then the prevailing assumption was that he could not defeat Hillary Clinton in the election…until he did. Then finally he was inaugurated & took office in January 2017, and as the kids used to say, it was on like Donkey Kong. Even the inauguration was controversial, with various singers refusing to perform and disputes over the size of the crowd, as if that’s what matters to anyone with a brain. Right after the inauguration there was a Women’s March in DC where actress Ashley Judd and several others put their mental & emotional problems front & center for the world to see. There’s been an ongoing investigation trying to link Trump to alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, with no legitimate results…just the continued inane ramblings of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others of her ilk. Then of course there was President Trump’s attempt at a “travel ban”, something that has been done before by other Presidents but was clumsily executed by his administration and predictably mocked by the media. I stopped paying attention but I’m pretty sure repeated attempts to put the ban in place have failed. Trump is criticized for almost everything he does, and his social media presence doesn’t help. A President being able to bypass the press and take his message directly to the people on a daily basis is fairly new for everybody, and the fact that he has no filter (and apparently no one in the White House to gently steer him away from trouble) has been entertaining, though not always in a good way. I’ve also never seen so much turnover in an administration in its first year. I’m sure it’s not unprecedented for a person to accept a job at the White House or in the cabinet and then resign within a few months, but it happened A LOT in 2017. At any rate, whether you love him or hate him it is indisputable that Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States, dominated the news cycle in 2017, and for that he has earned our first ever award for Person of the Year.
actor/comedian/telethon host Jerry Lewis…Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney…legendary comedian Don Rickles…pro wrestling manager & commentator Bobby “The Brain” Heenan…sportswriter Frank DeFord…actresses Mary Tyler Moore (Ordinary People, The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Erin Moran (Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi), Barbara Hale (Perry Mason), Darlene Cates (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?), Dina Merrill, Rose Marie (The Dick Van Dyke Show), Glenne Headly (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dick Tracy, Mr. Holland’s Opus), & Ann Wedgeworth (Three’s Company)…sportscaster Dick Enberg…director Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia)…game show hosts Chuck Barris (The Gong Show) & Monty Hall (Let’s Make A Deal)…pro wrestlers “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Chavo Guerrero Sr., George “The Animal” Steele, Nicole Bass, Ivan Koloff, “Outlaw” Ron Bass, Dennis Stamp, Matthew Anoai, Larry Sharpe, Doug Somers, Tom Zenk, & Smith Hart…actors Adam West (Batman), Bill Paxton (Weird Science, Twister, Titanic, Apollo 13), Jim Nabors (The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle USMC), Stephen Furst (Animal House, St. Elsewhere), Bernie Casey (Revenge of the Nerds, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure), Richard Anderson (The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Forbidden Planet), Sir Roger Moore (James Bond), Miguel Ferrer (RoboCop), Harry Dean Stanton (Cool Hand Luke, The Godfather Part II, Pretty in Pink), Rance Howard (The Andy Griffith Show, Cool Hand Luke, Chinatown, Apollo 13), Earle Hyman (The Cosby Show), Mike Connors (Mannix), Richard Hatch (The Streets of San Francisco, Battlestar Galactica), Michael Parks (From Dusk til Dawn, Kill Bill), Powers Boothe (Red Dawn), Sheldon Berman (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Meet the Fockers), Jared Martin (Dallas), Peter Hansen (General Hospital), Don Pedro Colley (The Dukes of Hazzard), Joseph Bologna (My Favorite Year, Big Daddy), Jay Thomas (Cheers), John Hillerman (Magnum P.I.), Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff), John Heard (Big, Home Alone), Robert Guillaume (Benson), & Martin Landau (Ed Wood, Mission: Impossible)…basketball players Charles Shackleford (NC State) & Fab Melo (Syracuse), …musicians/singers Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Glen Campbell, Greg Allman, Mel Tillis, David Cassidy, Keely Smith, Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave), Al Jarreau, Lonnie Brooks, John Geils (The J Geils Band), Malcolm Young (AC/DC), Don Williams, Robert Walker, Walter Becker (Steely Dan), & Chester Bennington (Linkin Park, Stone Temple Pilots)…football players Y.A. Tittle (Baltimore Colts), Quentin Moses (Miami Dolphins), Michael Jackson (Baltimore Ravens), Terry Glenn (New England Patriots), John Thierry (Chicago Bears), & Cortez Kennedy (Seattle Seahawks), …political commentator Alan Colmes…famed boxing cornerman Dr. Ferdie Pacheco…Judge Joseph Wapner (The People’s Court)…TV announcer John Harlan (Name That Tune)…legendary college basketball coaches Rollie Massimino (Villanova) & Judd Heathcote (Michigan St.)…film historian & TCM host Robert Osborne…boxing trainer Lou Duva…writers Robert Pirsig (Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance), Jimmy Breslin, & Sue Grafton…pro sports executive Jerry Krause (Chicago Bulls)…former baseball players & managers Dallas Green, Don Baylor, Gene Michael, & Ruben Amaro Sr.…NBA referee Jess Kersey…radio personality & wrestling announcer Rhubarb Jones…retired football coaches Spike Dykes (Texas Tech), Frank Broyles (Arkansas), Dick MacPherson (Syracuse), Frank Kush (Arizona St.), Sonny Randle (Marshall), Babe Parilli (Pittsburgh Steelers), Joe Tiller (Purdue), Ron Meyer (New England Patriots), & Ara Parseghian (Notre Dame)…Roger Ailes (Chairman & CEO of Fox News)…Hall of Fame pitcher & former U.S. Senator Jim Bunning…former Nicaraguan dictator Manuel Noriega…retired golfer Roberto DiVincenzo…retired baseball player & broadcaster Jimmy Piersall…Playboy founder & publisher Hugh Hefner…NASCAR team owner Robert Yates…stand-up comedian Ralphie May…former NBA analyst Snapper Jones…former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl…Barbara Sinatra (wife of Frank Sinatra)…legendary horror filmmakers George Romero (Night of the Living Dead) & Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)…Augusta National Golf Club chairman Hootie Johnson…baseball players Lee May, Roy Halladay, Bobby Doerr, & Darren Daulton…gossip columnist Liz Smith…comedian & civil rights activist Dick Gregory…NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer…retired boxer Jake LaMotta (on whose life Raging Bull was based)…pro wrestling announcer Lance Russell…former tennis player Jana Novotná