Thursday, October 25, 2007



Love and marriage might go together like a horse and carriage, but it seems celebrities and marriage go together like Britney Spears and underpants. What is it about fame that dooms a marriage before the ink on the license has dried?

In the time it’s taken you to read this far, a Hollywood starlet has married, divorced, re-wed, had a couple of extramarital affairs and booked an appearance on “Maury” to determine who’s her baby’s daddy.

Once upon a time, celebrity marriages were cause for glad tidings of great joy: “Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward? Lovely couple! They’ll last forever.” (Forty-nine years and counting!) Now, they’re the basis for office betting pools: “Avril Lavigne and that guy from that band? Two years. A year and a half if she writes another song like ‘Girlfriend’.”

The troubled Ms. Spears holds the record for shortest celebrity marriage – 55 hours of wedded bliss to childhood friend Jason Alexander. She beat out Zsa Zsa Gabor, who spent one day in 1982 as Mrs. Felipe Whatever (when you’re on Hubby No. 8, are names really important?), but the union was declared invalid because Zsa-squared was still married to her previous husband.

To be fair, we hear about the marriages that don’t make it because misery sells, merriment doesn’t. Vendors would have to throw in a free Bowflex and home visits by Billy Blanks to unload tabloids boasting, “Couple remains happy and faithful for yet another year!” Unless one-half of the couple was, say, Bigfoot.

We hear about the flops, but many have proven it can be done. Legendary actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee were married almost 57 years when Davis died in 2005. Bill and Camille Cosby, 43 years. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman, 25 years. Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, 19 years. Jon Bon Jovi and non-celeb wife Dorothea, 18 years. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn never legally married, but they’ve been together 24 years. Musician John Lydon has been with his wife more than 20 years – and we’re talking about a guy best known as Johnny Rotten!

Obviously, today’s young stars could take a page from the book of love written by the “old-timers” (with the exception of Zsa Zsa, of course). Susan Sarandon, who’s been with partner Tim Robbins for 19 years, said in 2005, “I'm certainly not an expert, but Tim and I just celebrated 17 years together, which in Hollywood years I think is 45. I think the key is just focusing on this one person and not keeping one eye on the door to see who might be better.”

In other words, the “something borrowed” at a wedding should not be someone else’s husband or wife.

If the kids don’t want to listen to their elders, perhaps they’ll heed the advice of a peer. "You have to keep marriage alive, spice it up. We have something called naked Sundays,” says Christina Aguilera of life with music exec Jordan Bratman, her husband of almost two years. “We don't need to go anywhere, we're just with each other. We do everything naked. We cook

Hmm. Maybe if Britney had shed more than her skivvies, she’d still be Mrs. K-Fed.

Friday, October 12, 2007



From Andy Griffith’s bucolic Mayberry, N.C., to the Simpsons’ where-in-the-world-is Springfield, television is a wonderland of fictional towns. You’d think with it being entertainment and all, they’d come up with more entertaining names.

I’ll overlook drama series in this case; they’re supposed to be serious. But when it comes to cartoons and comedies, I want my made-up municipalities to sound like fun places, places I’d want to visit in real life. Sure, you get the occasional Quahog (“Family Guy”) or Bikini Bottom (“SpongeBob SquarePants”), but even animated towns are becoming anything but. Why can’t “King of the Hill” be set in, say, Bubba’s Rump, Texas, instead of – yawn – Arlen?

Even the melodramatic milieu of soap operas is dominated by drably dubbed burgs like Pine Valley, Pa. (“All My Children”), where I’ve not seen a single pine except at Christmas, though the town does boast its very own ocean – despite being located in the middle of the state. (Apparently, passing geography isn’t a prerequisite for becoming a soap writer.)

If TV writers are running out of ideas for colorful backdrops, I’ve got a solution: Get thee to an Atlas. This timeless book of maps yields more unusual names than you can shake a script at. Wouldn’t you be more intrigued by a show set in Rough and Ready, Calif., than Sunnyvale? Who knows -
maybe “Northern Exposure” would still be on the air if it took place in Manley Hot Springs, Alaska, instead of Cicely.

Picture this: A prime-time roster of programs of with similarly themed settings. You could visit the denizens of Butts, Ga., Fannie, Ark., and Moon, Pa. If you prefer sports-related sitcoms, you could spend an evening with the folks in Umpire, Ariz., Centerfield, Ohio, and Ball Ground, Ga. For legal drama fans, there’d be courtroom battles in Lawyersville, N.Y., and Justice, Ill.

Imagine if the nightly lineup featured shows set in:

* Mummie, Ky., and Egypt, Maine.

* Lolita, Texas, and Vixen, La.

* Opportunity, Mont., and Last Chance, Colo.

* Santa Claus, Ga., North Pole, N.Y., and Big Chimney, W.Va.

* Lickskillet, Ky., and Frying Pan Landing, N.C.

* Intercourse, Pa., and Protection, Kan.

* Energy, Ill., Power, Idaho, and Electric City, Wash.

* What Cheer, Iowa, Happy Corner, N.H., and Carefree, Ariz.

* Why, Ariz., and Whynot, Miss.

* Beggs, Okla., and Panhandle, Texas.

* Chicken, Alaska, and Rice, Kan.

* Peculiar, Mo., and Odd, W.Va.

* Marco, Fla., and Polo, Ill.

* Friendship, Maine, and Social Circle, Ga.

* Rollingstone, Minn., and Moss, Miss.

* LaVerne, Calif., and Shirley, Mass.

* Riddle, Ore., and Enigma, Ga.

* Romance, Ark., and Loving, Texas.

* Gas, Kan., and Belchertown, Mass.

* Mexican Water, Ariz., and Los BaƱos, Calif.

* Cowlic, Ariz., and Brush, Colo.

* Mayo, Fla., and Sandwich, Mass.

* Coldfoot, Ark., and Shoemakersville, Pa.

* Parchment, Mich., and Ink, Ark.

* Mars, Pa., and Jupiter, Fla.

* Coffee, Ala., Toast, N.C., Two Egg., Fla., and Bacon, Ind.

If TV writers insist on sticking with boring, normal town names, let’s hope those names are Boring, Md., and Normal, Ill.