Here are a couple of new warps in the ever-expanding universe of media and entertainment: Katie Couric is exiting broadcast television for the chance to do an Internet show for Yahoo, and a giant, animated space kitty made Miley Cyrus the buzz-leader at the American Music Awards.
Couric apparently will bow out of her three-year, multimillion-dollar contract with ABC a year early. While costing ABC a ton of money, Couric’s daytime talk show, “Katie,” is not attracting nearly enough viewers, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Because of that, it is less-than-surprising that the perky-but-serious newswoman is taking her act to a very different, experimental stage.
If ABC is interested in replacing Couric with a younger woman who has the knack for grabbing attention, the network could run its own experiment and craft a show for Cyrus. Yes, I’m joking -- mostly -- but it is not that far-fetched to think the former Hannah Montana might one day find a new slot on TV. She’s a sly comedian, as her appearances on "Saturday Night Live" have demonstrated, and an unpredictable entertainer, as evidenced by everything else she has done lately.
A few weeks ago, she was all anyone talked about after her notorious twerking display at the MTV Video Music Awards. Cyrus' nude swing in her “Wrecking Ball” video continues to stir up chatter. And, following last weekend’s American Music Awards, Cyrus got most of the tweets and attention after she performed “Wrecking Ball” in front of an image of a giant kitten floating in space and lip-syncing her lyrics.
Many entertainment media commentators appeared flummoxed by the space kitty. They could not figure out what it meant, just as they cannot quite plug Cyrus into a conventional celebrity slot. If Lady Gaga is the Salvador Dali of pop music, Cyrus is the teasing Andy Warhol. My interpretation: the kitty was there as a provocation -- a silly, kitschy image rendered in an absurd way simply to see how people would react.
Quite a few of the TV chatterboxes come off sounding terribly conventional when they talk about Cyrus. Why the space kitty? Why is her tongue always sticking out? Why can’t she wear a dress? Is she high? Is she bound for rehab? Is this all a plea for help?
Several writers described what she wore onstage at the AMAs as a bikini, even though anyone who watched could see it was a lot closer to a workout outfit. Sure, she was showing a lot of leg, but no more than the night’s three-time award-winning female singer, Taylor Swift, and no one lectured Ms. Swift about the length of her skirt.
Cyrus drives some people a little crazy, which may be her intent. She’s toying with the conventions of celebrity and seems to be having fun doing it. Her act may not wear well over time, but, for now, she has mastered a key precept of the entertainment biz: Be the one people talk about after the show.
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