Winners & Losers Of 2007 (Part One)

Winner:  Seth Rogen
The lead role in Knocked Up.  Co-screenwriter of Superbad.  A voice part in Shrek The Third. 
It’s been quite the year for this 25-year-old Vancouver native.  After small appearances in films like Donnie Darko and Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, not to mention recurring supporting roles in overlooked TV gems like Freaks & Geeks and Undeclared, he graduated to bigger parts in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and You, Me & Dupree.  Thanks to his long association with writer/director Judd Apatow (who directed him in Virgin and certain episodes of Geeks and Undeclared), Rogen had a major breakthrough when he starred as Ben Stone, the slacker who impregnates Katherine Heigl, in Knocked Up.
Not only was it a commercial smash (earning about 150 million domestically), it received rave reviews (it has a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes).  Superbad, which was based loosely on his high school period (Rogen also has a small role playing a cop), has an 87% fresh rating and accumulated over 120 million in North America alone.  And even though he’s not one of the main characters in Shrek The Third, that film also found a large audience (over 320 million in domestic box office).
The young character actor will be back next year in a whole slew of films, according to his updated filmography on The Internet Movie Database.  Regardless of what happens next, he became the most surprising movie star of 2007.
Loser:  Rachel Marsden
This notoriously inept and long discredited ultra-conservative commentator received her overdue comeuppance not once but twice in 2007.
She was hired by the Fox News Channel in January to co-host Red Eye, a daily, hour-long, late-night chat program hosted by Greg Gutfeld.  Espousing her views on “dolphin rape” and the hygiene habits of Pakistani citizens, she furthered her reputation as a deeply disturbed individual.  But after nearly four months with the program, she was suddenly fired.  Marsden claimed that she was told the show was going in a “different direction” and as a result, she was the “first casualty”.  An anonymous source gave The New York Post a decidedly different reason:  “She’s out of her [bleeping] mind. She was doing crazy stuff.”.
What exactly is meant by “crazy stuff” remains a mystery.  However, the website Gawker claims she was ousted for trying to cozy up to both Shepherd Smith and an unnamed gay anchor, actions which they assert “freaked them both out”.  Whatever happened, it was not an amicable parting of the ways.  Marsden had to be physically removed from the Fox building by security (she downplayed the incident by arguing that Fox considers this “standard procedure” for departing employees) and despite releasing a statement on her website that was uncharacteristically diplomatic, she was far angrier about the dismissal in The Toronto Sun.  In her July 10th column, a thin-skinned rant defending her alleged credibility on American politics and history, she ended the piece thusly:

“Heaven forbid that an entrepreneur with international experience and a global perspective wants to come to the U.S., pay taxes, and reinvigorate the national debate. Apparently in this industry, those types of people are only allowed to sign our cheques.

Nowadays, even if the U.S. government certifies someone as one of the top political commentators in the world, you’re more likely to end up talking about Britney Spears’ crotch. If the winning strategy for the war on terror was in there, you can bet we’d have it by now.”

This is what she meant by being lamented by The Bush Administration.
Then, after the publication of her November 5th column defending the torturous practice of waterboarding, The Toronto Sun had enough.  Without much fanfare, she was quietly dropped by the city’s lone tabloid.  (As of this writing, there hasn’t been one letter published from a reader wondering what happened to her column.  Very telling.)  More bitterness followed on her website where she lashed out at the paper’s new editor-in-chief and the readers of the Daily Kos blog which had been organizing a write-in protest to the paper.  Despite the fact that Lorrie Goldstein and Rob Granatstein vouched for her while talking to Rebecca Traister of Salon, all she could offer was unprofessional whining about a supposed left-wing conspiracy stacked against her.  In truth, she greatly annoys both sides of the political spectrum who continually question her presence in mainstream media.
Although she’s moved on to guest appearances on CNN’s Situation Room and continues to post items and columns on her website, it remains uncertain how long she’ll maintain this sham of a career she’s got going.  One thing’s for certain, however.  Fox News and The Toronto Sun actually have standards.
Winner:  Movie Franchises
Hollywood has never resisted the lure of the sequel and this year was no exception.  Franchises, new and old, found either widespread critical acclaim, huge box office returns or both.  Shrek The Third didn’t wow film reviewers like its predecessors did but it still raked in almost 800 million globally.  Spider-Man 3 was a slightly different story.  Despite a number of bad reviews (including a recent pan by Roger Ebert), it still received a fresh rating of 62% as well as huge international box office (almost 900 million).
Live Free Or Die Hard, the fourth film in the John McClane action series, did respectible business around the world (almost 400 million) and earned an 80% fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes.  Ocean’s Thirteen accumulated over 300 million internationally and received mostly good reviews.  The fifth Harry Potter film, The Order Of The Phoenix, continues to be a vital, commercial enterprise.  It earned over 930 million globally and strong raves from critics.  The third Pirates Of The Caribbean flick, At World’s End, managed to do even better.  It grossed over 960 million globally, making it the most successful film of the year.  (Reviewers, on the other hand, were mixed.)
Even the Saw series, now up to four chapters, remains popular with audiences.  In its first month of release, the latest installment has already made 100 million worldwide.  While Mr. Bean’s Holiday and TMNT weren’t nearly as profitable as other sequels this year (over 200 million and almost 100 million internationally, respectively), they still made money despite mixed reviews for the former and mostly pans for the latter.  The movie franchise enjoyed such profitability this year that even the critically trashed prequel, Hannibal Rising, which covers the early years of the cinema’s most infamous cannibal, made over 80 million in international box office receipts.  Not bad for a Lecter movie with no Anthony Hopkins or major stars and half the budget of the terrible Red Dragon.
As always, there’ll be more of these kinds of movies to come in the near future.  Hollywood’s helplessly addicted.
Loser:  John Tory
It was his election to lose and lose it he did in a significant way.  The Leader Of The Opposition and The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party was in pretty good political shape.  A week after he announced his party’s election platform in June, he was in a dead heat with Premier Dalton McGuinty and the ruling Liberals.  A number of voters were unhappy with McGuinty’s numerous broken promises and were looking for alternatives.  The Tories seemed to fit the bill.  But the former cable company executive made a fatal error during the official month-long campaign when he announced a 500 million dollar plan to fully fund religious schools with public money.  Traditional conservative supporters were aghast at the idea, even though, as Toronto Sun columnist Christina Blizzard noted, when Tory further explained himself to voters on a one-on-one basis he was able to convince them of the validity of his proposed policy.  (The point he was attempting to make was that it’s unfair to fully fund the Catholic system while neglecting other religious schools.  Either you fund them all or support none of them.  As he found out the hard way, neither option has any real chance of happening right now.)  But unfortunately, as Blizzard also pointed out, there wasn’t nearly enough time for the Ontario PC Leader to change every skeptic’s mind in that manner.  As a result, The Liberals were able to hammer away at Tory’s proposal right up until the election. 
Although, inevitably, Tory tried to soothe angry voters with the idea of a free vote on the policy if he became the Premier, the damage was done.  Dalton McGuinty sailed into reelection with his party only losing one seat in Queen’s Park.  (The Conservatives gained a measly two, if you can believe it.)  As for Tory, not only did his party blow a huge opportunity at forming the next provincial government, he lost his own bid to stay in the Legislature.  Instead of running for reelection in the Dufferin-Peel-Wellington-Grey riding (where he won nearly 60% of the vote in a by-election in 2005), he took on Education Minister Kathleen Wynne in Don Valley West, his old stomping grounds.  Wynne beat him by a 10 percent margin.  Even though he’s still technically the leader of the Ontario Tories, Bob Runciman has replaced him as Interim Leader.  Hard to be an effective Leader Of The Opposition when you’ve not only lost the privilege to sit in Queen’s Park but are also unable to make any direct criticisms to the Premier and The Ontario Liberals.
One wonders what would’ve happened if that one proposal had never seen the light of day.  The election results might’ve been very different.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, December 1, 2007
12:06 a.m.
Published in: on December 1, 2007 at 12:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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