devil ain’t got no new tricks
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Not before — and scarcely since — has television created a pop culture phenomenon on the level of CBS’ classic prime-time soap Dallas, which ruled Friday nights around the globe and, in many ways, epitomized and perfectly encapsulated the American ethos of the 1980s for much of its unprecedented thirteen-season run. (Indeed, at its delirious peak in the early part of the decade, some ninety million viewers sat glued to their television sets captivated by the scandalous exploits of the Ewing family and their friends and foes, and salivating over the ever-churning plot’s next wickedly delicious twist.)

Only two cast members stayed aboard the Dallas express for the entirety of its run: Larry Hagman, whose dastardly, devilishly charming oilman J.R. Ewing would become an instant classic television character; and Ken Kercheval, who, as J.R.’s ever-embattled bitter rival Cliff Barnes, often gave the audience someone with whom they could relate amidst the larger-than-life backstabbing and brilliant chicanery. And as brought to life by two astoundingly fine actors, the fabulously frothy feud between J.R. and Cliff helped lure the audience back to Southfork week after torturous week.

After a two-decade hiatus, TNT has commissioned a ten-episode reboot — or, as Dallas principals prefer to call it, a “continuation” — of the classic series, which premiered last week to stellar ratings and uncommonly glowing critical notices. And though the updated Dallas now focuses primarily on the impossibly gorgeous (natch!) Ewing offspring, Kercheval — who returns as Cliff in episode three, airing this week — advised me when we spoke by telephone recently not to count out the so-called “old guard” quite yet.

BRANDON’S BUZZ: For the five people out there who never saw the original Dallas, or who have slept in the past twenty years, give us a quick primer on the hows and whys of Cliff Barnes.

KEN KERCHEVAL: He’s a nice guy. He’s a real nice guy, Cliff. People would say I was a bad guy, but I’ve always contended that if it weren’t for J.R. and all of his devious ways, Cliff wouldn’t have to — Cliff only defends himself as best he can. I just [never saw] Cliff as a bad guy. But then again, I don’t know; with this new show, I’m not so sure I’ll [still] be able to say that.

You know, I heard – I think it was Linda Gray — say that when she was back on set, it was only as if she had worked with everyone just six months ago or so — did you find that to be the case as well?

Oh yeah. Yep, it was almost like we had had a holiday, a Christmas vacation, and then came back to work. Seriously!



“I’m really happy that Ke$ha exists. I think that there should be pop stars that, when you listen to their music, you’re slightly concerned that you’ll catch a venereal disease through your headphones.”

— comedian Jake Fogelnest, making a case for pop’s most titanically trashy tart, on VH1’s The Greatest Songs of the ’00s. (Later in this same segment — in which Ke$ha’s boorish breakthrough “Tik Tok” was nonsensically judged to be one of the program’s titular tunes — Fogelnest would go on to add: “It’s like a bunch of glitter had sex with a pile of dirty clothes, and Ke$ha was born somehow! It’s awesome!” Not sure awesome is the word I’d pick there, Jake, but it sure is something.)


“Well, you know, human beings don’t change very fast. You have to keep telling these stories over and over again until we get it. We’re a rather thick group.”

— legendary actress Tyne Daly, speaking with MetroSource about the fact that the topics which “Cagney and Lacey” attacked with such vigor back in the ’80s — abortion, racism, sexism in the workplace, etc. — are still very much hot-button subjects in today’s society.


“That’s who I am. I’ve got a King James in one hand and a Crown and coke in the other. I think we all know Jesus didn’t turn the water into Dr. Pepper.”

— country artist John Rich (of Big and Rich fame), explaining the title of his brand new solo record, Son of a Preacher Man. (And, no, don’t get y’all’s knickers in a twist: Rich does not cover Dusty Springfield on this album, although, if he had decided to, it certainly would’ve lended severe credence to Sherry Ann’s long-standing belief that both Big and Rich, umm, play for my team.)


stop the insanity

posted at 11:12 pm by brandon in devil ain't got no new tricks

“New rule: Don’t pretend Twinkies are healthy now, just because you can get the 100 calorie size. Here’s the miracle: They’re smaller. And here’s how to make your own at home: Cut an old Twinkie in half. And here’s how to make it healthy: Throw both halves in the toilet and eat a carrot.”

Bill Maher, peeling back the truth on the world-famous Hostess snack cake, which is now claiming to be a waistline-friendly dessert choice, on his HBO series “Real Time.”


I spent a goodly portion of Saturday fearing that Gavin DeGraw — the most commercially successful, if not the most talented, of the latest wave of twenty-something singer-songwriters taking popular music by storm — had perished in the same South Carolina plane crash that killed four people (two crew members and two civilians) and critically injured artists Travis Barker (formerly of Blink-182) and DJ AM, both of whom had performed a free show with DeGraw the previous night.  The NTSB initially refused to release the names of the two civilians who had died (presumably until they could properly notify the families involved), which was all well and good, except nobody had heard from DeGraw all morning; you start connecting those dots, and you’re on the fast track to Basketcase-ville.  (I even got Sherry Ann all worked up when I sent her a panicked text message inquiring what she had heard on this matter; heroically, she solved the case by going to, whose front page blared the magnificent headline:  GAVIN WAS NOT ON THE PLANE!)  I was inconsolable, wondering how in the hell I was gonna eulogize DeGraw here on the Buzz — seriously, it would have been like Buddy Holly dying all over again! — and while I’m not quite sure what’s appropriate to say now — “Hey Gav… glad you’re still alive, buddy”? — I’m sincerely happy that, even though four human beings tragically lost their lives, the survivors are well on their way toward a full recovery, and we didn’t have to endure another day the music died.


“In the end we shall have had enough of cynicism and skepticism and humbug and we shall want to live more musically.”

Vincent van Gogh, in an 1888 letter to his brother Theo


easy as 1-2-3

posted at 1:45 am by brandon in devil ain't got no new tricks

“Lose the refined white sugar, refined white flour, and refined white men.”


Susan Powter, explaining her new credo to Elle magazine in 2006.