Friday, June 19, 2009



You can’t turn on the TV, radio or computer without being assaulted by celebrity endorsements. They scream at you from billboards, store displays and magazine stands. Celebrity branding’s nothing new, but have you ever wondered how stars decide which products to put their names on?

Did Paul Newman have a run-in with some rancid ranch dressing and decide he could do better? Was Suzanne Somers watching “Three’s Company” reruns and thought, “I dunno what I was thinking when I wore that side ponytail, but boy, my thighs looked great!” Perhaps Jimmy Dean was scarfing down a corndog when it struck him that meat on a stick would taste even better with a pancake wrapped around it.

Why do certain stars shill certain wares? Maybe it’s a career move or a publicity ploy. Maybe they truly love the product and want us to know how great it is. Certainly, some do it because they need the money, but many do it even though they don’t.

From Newman’s Own dressings and Somers’ ThighMaster to Jimmy Dean foods and the Foreman Grill, celebrity-stamped products have woven their way into the fabric of everyday life. Sometimes the endorsements make sense, like Michael Jordan for Nike. Athletes wear sneakers – simple enough. But sometimes it’s a stretch connecting the celebrity to the product, like Michael Jordan cologne. While I trust His Airness to tell me which kicks have the best traction, I’m more dubious about his knowledge of botanic chemistry. His cologne won’t make me 6’6” or give me mad b-ball skills, so I can only conclude it’ll make me smell like him. I’ve seen the guy in action and he sweats. A LOT. Thanks, but I can manufacture my own stink for free.

Of course, Mike’s not the only one to endorse a scent bearing his name. Fragrance fever has infected stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Prince, Cher, J-Lo, BeyoncĂ©, Michael Jackson, KISS, Mariah Carey, Hilary Duff, the Olsen twins, Joan Rivers, Paris Hilton, Derek Jeter and even fictional characters like Barbie, Spiderman, Austin Powers and Avril Lavigne, who describes her new Black Star perfume as “me in a bottle,” so you’ll need to buy a spit-shield before spritzing it on.

Why should I trust uncredentialed non-experts to tell me what to wear, eat or drive? If I want a healthy dessert, I’ll ask a nutritionist, not Sylvester Stallone, though I’m sure his high-protein pudding is quite delicious. Samsonite’s been making suitcases for almost a century, so why do I need Jessica Simpson’s new luggage? If you ask me, the girl has enough baggage already.

I do, however, have faith in Danny DeVito, who’s hawking something called Premium Limoncello, which is not a fine stringed instrument but an Italian liqueur. In fact, it’s what he’d been imbibing before appearing on “The View” in a rather juiced-up state. Any man with enough sense to tie one on before facing that flock of cackling hens is a man I can trust.

Friday, June 05, 2009



In honor of National Children’s Day, which takes place on Sunday, June 14, I’d like to give you parental types a little something to think about. The next time little Billy “discovers” science by putting a raw egg in the microwave or little Susie uses your $25 Color Fever™ lipstick to draw a hopscotch on the hardwood floor, take a deep breath, count to 10 and remind yourself it could be much, much worse. Then thank your lucky stars you’re not raising one of these terrifying tykes!

Henry Evans, "The Good Son"
Macaulay Culkin's Kevin McAllister had a sadistic streak in "Home Alone," but he was a rank amateur compared to Henry, whose idea of fun includes causing accidents by tossing a life-size dummy off an overpass, killing animals with a crossbow and picking off his younger siblings one by one. You’d think it wouldn’t take him trying to push her off a cliff for his oblivious mother to realize she's raising "Henry, Portrait of a Future Serial Killer."

Isaac, "Children of the Corn"

If you ever get a flat in Gatlin, Neb. (population: 968 and rapidly dwindling), don't bother calling AAA; roadside service isn’t much use in a town where most residents are too young to drive. Your best bet is to keep rolling on the rims till you hit the next town. Otherwise, creepy Isaac and his followers will take you directly to "He Who Walks Behind The Rows" – and I’m pretty sure he’s not a mechanic.

Reagan MacNeil, "The Exorcist"
At first, Reagan's acting out is thought to be the result of her parents' recent divorce. I mean, what kid HASN'T crashed Mom's dinner party by piddling on the carpet? When she starts gushing great green gouts of pea-soup vomit, it's obvious there's a darker force at work. To be fair, Reagan (Linda Blair) can't be blamed for her demonic behavior. After all, the devil made her do it.

The children, "Village of the Damned" (the 1960 original)
Rapidly aging blonds with blank expressions – no, not Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, but eerie, mutant spawn of inexplicable origin, capable of mind control that forces adults to do their bidding, including committing suicide. These towheaded terrors will make you think twice before telling “dumb blond” jokes.

Rhoda Penmark, "The Bad Seed"
Thanks to a brilliant portrayal by Patty McCormack of pure evil that's seldom been rivaled and never bettered, this pigtailed preteen set the bar for Hollywood hellspawn. If this murderous moppet has a moral compass, it's undoubtedly stuck on "south of Hades."

Damien Thorn, "The Omen"
He may look innocent, but there's something "off" about this kid. Maybe it's his aversion to churches. Or the way people have a curious habit of dying violently when he's around. One thing’s for sure: This is one instance in which “You’re just like your no-good father” is an appropriate admonishment!