Sunday, December 21, 2008

TV: Twins Anne Slowey and Gwen Ifill

Some times, people have no idea what they have or, more importantly, what they don't. As Stylista wrapped its run last week on the CW and as Gwen Ifill was . . . well, just being Gwen, it became very obvious that some people work with a highly distorted reflection from their mirrors.


Let's start with Stylista because it was just so much cringe-inducing fun. Anne Slowey has been paid to work in fashion for more years than the rings around her neck. And yet, despite the fact that ever damn one of those years shows, they all seemed to have passed without ever introducing Anne to style or class.

Anne wants to be a star. She's always wanted to be a star. But with that nose, she had to go into fashion. Maybe Stylista will turn a pig into a swan?

We know Tyra Banks who produces this show. A mutual friend asked us why we still hadn't reviewed Tyra or any of Tyra's shows? We think Tyra's a natural talk show host and always have that as our back up should everything else fall through. A review of her talk show is our safety school, you might say. Then there's America's Next Top Model which we've never watched because it all just seems like way too much drama to us.

At that point, and this is early November, the mutual friend suggested Stylista. It's about a fashion magazine. Well that sounded interesting. We love the film Funny Face. Then we were told the magazine was Elle and we love Roberta Myers who is as sweet as she is gifted. What could go wrong?


We'd heard of her. We hadn't met her because, honestly, we don't mingle with her kind. But we had heard about her and, for a change, reality TV apparently offered some reality. Every thing ever whispered about Upholstered Anne is apparently true and then some. ("Upholstered Anne" is how she's known at the other fashion mags and don't blame Nina Garcia for that.)

Anne was supposed to be a judge and she thought she could clomp-clomp those excessively large feet of hers into Simon Cowell-type stardom. In that she succeeded but at what cost?

Fashion is about looking good.

That's a basic point.

Those involved in fashion attempt to make themselves look good.

That's a given.

Not Anne.

The big rumor in 1995 was that she had to be taught to sit with her legs crossed. While wearing a dress. While wearing a really short dress.

Whether it's true or not, it certainly will feel true to anyone who caught Stylista.

She is the most graceless woman in the world. She also has Suburban Mom hair. She would insist she has hair like Madonna. Like we said, Anne, you have Surburban Mom hair: Madonna circa 1997. Too old for current and too recent for retro. So Anne just looks like another aging woman who didn't have the sense to grasp it was time to cut the hair (and knock off about ten years in the process). There is the facial structure which we'll just describe as "brutish" and move on to the teeth which could be fixed. Could be and should.

Find another person in the world with teeth like Anne's who wants to appear glamorous on national TV but doesn't have the sense to get braces. You never will.

The body is decidely peasant stock. In fact, hearty peasant stock would be the term. If you've ever wondered what a sack of potatoes would look like if it sprouted legs, meet Anne. Legs? When you insist upon putting your legs on TV repeatedly, you might want to consider wearing pantyhose. You surely would want to do something about tone, if everytime you cross your legs, they flap. In fact, she has what are known as curtain thighs: they drape over everything around them.

Tranlsation, none of it adds up to a "Steal This Look!" look.

Cutting her hair to shoulder length with a side part would not make Anne pretty nor would it make her Anna Wintour. It would make her appear younger and begin to give her a look. Or does she plan to spend the rest of her life in Madonna's faded discards?

Week after week, Anne made Stylista riveting television. We will give her that. The show zipped quickly through less than ten episodes and ten contestants to declare a winner. None of the contestants really became a name or a standout. The reasons was they had to compete with Anne. Anne thought she was the show and, on that, she was correct.

As a reality TV star, Anne Slowey is like a tugboat finally pulling into the harbor. You can almost see her winking at the camera and, through her many facial skin folds, exclaiming, "Home again, home again, jiggety-jig, jiggety-gee."

So why is any of the above a problem? Well, for starters, Anne still has a day job. At Elle. A fashion magazine. And while people may enjoy pointing at -- and laughing at -- a freak show, do they really want to seek out a freak show for fashion?

The model who had the "cocaine honeymoon" saw all the big campaigns dry up as her life became a freak show and, no, big name models don't dream of becoming catalogue models. You go freak show, you lose your luster. So while Anne's wonderful for Tyra Banks, she's lousy for Elle.

Gwen's her own kind of lousy. The loons at Women's Media Center (now trojan ehanced!) were lamenting Gwen being passed over by NBC for Meet The Press. Gwen never stood a chance and we say that as two bound and determined to ensure that reality; however, we were quickly informed, "Don't worry, she's not getting it." She was never on the short-list and she ensured 2008 would not be her year. How did she do that? By refusing to disclose an appearence of a conflict of interest. You know, the story Women's Media Center never said a word about. NBC could not have Gwen as the host, even if she were qualified, because of that little scandal which would find every week resulting in calls of favortism on display by Gwen.

But of course, Gwen's not qualified. She's going to think on her feet with world leaders and not stumble repeatedly?


Gwen participated in an online chat at The Washington Post on Thursday. Here's one example of Gwen responding 'off the cuff:'

Saginaw, Mich.: Gwen,
I love the show, and I would vote for a full hour.
But sometimes I'm busy on Friday nights, and the rebroadcast on Sunday seems like old news by then.
Can I get the whole show online these days?
Gwen Ifill: The entire things is online and available by video podcast. check us out at

So a person in Michigan explained that it's difficult to catch the show on Friday nights from time to time but, by Sunday morning, it's old news. Which leaves us with when? Saturday. Gwen, the question was "Can I get the whole show online these days" and the day needed was Saturday. But Gwen tells Saginaw that the episode is online and "available by video podcast" -- the latter means "also you can get a podcast" to any who know the show's website.

Gwen doesn't even know her own show. You can subscribe to a podcast (it's easiest to do by using iTunes and selecting PBS on the podcast options) and get the show on Saturday. But the video? Video and transcript get posted the following Monday. Monday afternoon in fact. So that point needs to be made. It especially needs to be made, we checked, when those going to the website late Friday or anytime Saturday or Sunday will see the following:

Friday Dec. 19
President-elect Barack Obama's latest cabinet appointments;
The race to fill coveted Senate vacancies;
Updates on the state of the economy;
Why the larger Democratic majority in Congress next year won't guarantee smooth sailing for Mr. Obama.
More on topics and panelists l Podcast -->
Transcript Video Podcast

Oh, great! Click on video and you can watch! (Or transcript and you can read!) Nope. Clicking on those will take you to the December 12th episode.

And if we can stay with the technical for a moment, the podcast? Though Gwen says it's video, there are two options. You can get the audio podcast (which downloads so much faster) and there is the video podcast. Gwen should be able to converse about both. (24.7 MB is the audio podcast for December 19th and 263.5 MB is the video podcast for December 19th.) For those who have never podcast, DSL will allow you to do it quickly. Wireless in most cases will be almost as quick. If you're on dialup, you're looking at a lengthy wait. That's another point Gwen should be able to converse on when deciding to chat on the topic of podcasts.

She's never equipped with the knowledge she needs and the bulk of her answers are facile. Again from her online chat at The Washington Post:

New Albany, Ohio: It seems amazing to me that even as we are suffering a huge financial crisis Caroline Kennedy is promoted as a very attractive candidate because she can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Demorcratic table if she is appointed to the Senate. Does money rule in politics regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world? If we get helpful legislation because of it, is it worth it?
Gwen Ifill: Yes, money rules in politics regardless of what is happening in the rest of the world. Have you checked lately on how much Barack Obama raised and spent to get elected President?

Check out the EZ gas baggery Gwen spits out to one question (she avoids the second). First, she expresses, "Yes, money rules in politics" and she probably feels so proud of herself for that bromide. But note what happens next, when it's time for her to back up her claim. She turns it into a question because she can't make it a simple statement without being expected to provide some hard numbers. Gee, Gwen, you're the news woman, how about you tell us "how much Barack Obama raised and spent to get elected President"?

One of Gwen's topics on Friday's show was, in fact, Caroline. And she and her guest really didn't go any deeper than she did above. Hillary Clinton may get confirmed as the US Secretary of State in January. If so, her Senate seat becomes open. Not only was her seat accepted as up for grabs without question by the gas bags, it was also accepted that Caroline Kennedy would grab the seat. Gwen and the gas bags felt no need to discuss women who have been elected to office and would like to be appointed Senator. It's a done deal, to hear them tell it. And they wouldn't have even mentioned Andrew Cuomo were it not for the fact that they could laugh and giggle about the soap opera.

This is an educated discourse? A refusal to explore women like US House Rep Carolyn Maloney who, yes, is in the running for the seat. A refusal to discuss anyone seriously and passing off 'oh messy divorce for Cuomo and the Kennedy cousin!' as an informed conversation? It was beyond shallow. Access Hollywood offers more penetrating analysis of their subjects.

Discussing the budget issues, a question was asked, "How about near universal health care?" How about it? "That's a whole 'nother subject," Gwen insisted, dismissing it as she rushed to move to the Caroline segment she so wanted to gas bag on. And if she hadn't rushed to that topic we might have missed John Dickerson's gem that Caroline was "campaigning in the proximity of collard greens." That was so funny -- to the panel. It was offensive. It was racist. So, of course, no one laughed louder than Gwen.

In her online chat at the Post, Gwen was lamenting that she would like to expand the show to an hour but "that decision is the hand of the 300+ PBS stations that air us." Pray the three hundred plus scream "NO!" Should she get an extra thirty minutes, know that Gwen would not use the additional time to go deeper. Deeper is as beyond her as attractive and stylish are beyond Anne Slowey. Gwen would merely add four more 'topics' -- tidbits really -- and a lot more gossip.

Gwen goes on TV to play a journalist and Anne goes on to play fashionable. Neither is even remotely credible. To her credit, Anne does hold your attention, but train wrecks generally do. She is, as Anne herself might put it, "a little more hard-core, a little more androgynous, a little more butch." That was Anne explaining why dresses would be dead by last September. Yeah, she's also about as accurate as Gwen.

Her prediction never came true. Bad gas baggery, another trait she shares with Gwen.
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