Christopher Guest's new TV series Family Tree, which premiered last night on HBO, is similar to but less pointed than his best known works. Starting with 1996's Waiting for Guffman, the director-actor has orchestrated a string of improvised farces in a mostly pseudo-documentary format that roast specific, unexamined cultures: Midwestern community theater geeks (Guffman), dog-show people (Best in Show), folk singers and their groupies (A Mighty Wind) and indie actors with Oscar buzz (For Your Consideration). Repeatedly, you get the feeling that Guest thinks he is smarter than the people that he and his repertory hypothesize, but these characters feel so lived-in that they are endearing regardless. Their doofiness is an asset for everyone involved, at least until they're punished for it in Guest's characteristically dark codas of dashed dreams and ruined lives.
Alright, I guess.
Laura Linney turns 46 today. Actress Jennifer Jason Leigh is turning 48. Retired New York Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Sr. is 84. Writer/director Christopher Guest is turning 62. Baseball legend Hank Aaron is 76. Movie director Michael Mann is turning 67. Documentarian Errol Morris is 62. Michigan's governor, Jennifer Granholm, turns 51. Videogame pioneer Nolan Bushnell is 67. Former SNL stars Chris Parnell and Tim Meadows are turning 43 and 49, respectively. And Mr. Bobby Brown turns 41 today. A few people celebrating birthdays this weekend are below.
Jennifer Jason Leigh turns 47 today. Sulzberger family patriarch and former Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Sr. is 83. Former Morgan Stanley co-president Bob Scully is 59. Actress Laura Linney is turning 45. Writer/director Christopher Guest is 61. Baseball legend Hank Aaron is turning 75. Film director Michael Mann is 66. Oscar-winning documentarian Errol Morris is 61. Bobby Brown is turning 40. And two former SNL stars are celebrating today: Chris Parnell is 42 and Tim Meadows is 48.
The rapier wit and steam-engine mind of Jamie Lee Curtis has long been a going concern around Defamer HQ, especially since her uniquely immersive brand of social criticism (e.g. "I Have A Terrorist's Mind") found a dedicated outlet at The Huffington Post. The actress unloaded another philosophical blast on Wednesday, when the concerned mother in her tied on an apron and got to work in defense of American education — in particular, our endangered home-economics tradition:
· Richard Meier says his proposal for Ground Zero got slammed by New Yorker critic Paul Goldberger because Meier refused to bend the LMDC's rules and give Goldberger the plans in advance. [Page Six]
· Possibly coming to New York: "J Edgar! The Musical." (Starring the actors behind the Simpsons, Kelsey Grammer, John Goodman and Christopher Guest.) [NY Daily News]
· Harper's Bazaar Editor Glenda Bailey on rumors of her impending demise: "If people want to waste time gossiping, that's up to them. I couldn't feel more secure." [The Word]