THERE'S A sucker born every minute," said P.T. Barnum.
And maybe some fans of The Sopranos are feeling likewise, with the "unsatisfying" go-to-black finale to the series on Sunday night. But in a way, the show ended perfectly, if not with the high level of violence, comeuppance or escape devoutly wished for by so many.
There they sat in a restaurant, four not-terribly-bright, craven, greedy, clueless, messed up people - one a violent killer - pondering the possibility of manicotti. Completely ordinary except for the dozens of murders and crimes that littered their past, occupied the present and shadowed the future.
To see Tony (or A.J., Meadow and Carmella) blown away might have made for exciting TV, to see just one of them have an epiphany and call out Tony as the vile criminal he is, might have been deeply satisfying. But David Chase chose a tense/mundane life-goes-on realism. All the characters deserved worse, but in this world, who really gets what they deserve, one way or another?
And I haven't thought once about what happened to them after dinner.
If you ever imagined what it was like when Marie Antoinette rode the tumbrel to the guillotine, you need only survey the intense interest and joy conveyed by the media and most of the public as Paris Hilton in handcuffs was dragged back to court and jail last week. She hadn't escaped incarceration nor shot a dozen cops to boot the way cable TV spasmed gleefully.
Miss Hilton generates a startling level of vitriol, and perhaps that is because she has no clear personality, no fascinating traits or talents. The media elevated her vacuous persona and now she's interesting by virtue of that. Lindsay Lohan is an excellent actress; Britney Spears had a career as a genuine pop star. Paris appears to have nothing more than a drive to be famous for its own sake. This doesn't make her a bad person, but it makes her difficult to defend. In fact, her amorphous status surely encouraged the judge to make an example of her. She is not a person with whom anyone might identify; she is just a symbol of self-indulgence. So it's easy to punish an idea.
I hope she manages to stick it out, serve her time, and never drive again while intoxicated or with a suspended license. And then I hope she can go right on making money for personal appearances, commercials, handbags and perfumes. She can party wildly (but wisely). I don't want her mea culpa on Oprah; I don't want her cradling AIDS babies in Africa.
People say she'll come out of jail a "different person." She'll regret her past and do good works. But then, we've got Angelina Jolie for that.
Idea takes flight
An idea expressed here some months back, that Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson would make a fine young Billie Holiday in a new version of the singer's life, has truly sprouted wings. Producer Jay Weston of Lady Sings the Blues fame says Hudson is definitely intrigued, and now writer James McGrath is fashioning a screenplay. Weston is searching for a hot actor to portray the vice cop who fell in love with Lady Day, but was forced to "bust" her.
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