Winners & Losers Of 2009 (Part Four)

 
Winner:  U2
 
It was another productive year for the greatest rock band of all time.  No Line On The Horizon, U2’s follow-up to the Grammy-winning How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, was another solid effort earning a 5-star review from Rolling Stone Magazine.  (Along with The New York Times and The Chicago Sun-Times, Rolling Stone also named it one of the best albums of the year.)  It was their first album to feature no bad songs since Pop.  To promote the record, the band played killer live versions of the first single, Get On Your Boots, on at least two awards shows including The Grammys (which they opened).  When the album was issued in March, the band played five straight Late Shows With David Letterman, offering a preview of all the singles from the record plus Beautiful Day which ended with Bono paying tribute to the much-missed New York punk legend Joey Ramone.  (A sixth song, which never aired, was performed especially for the audience in The Ed Sullivan Theater.)  In September, during the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, the band delivered another typically strong 3-song set.
 
In the fall, The Unforgettable Fire was reissued with a bonus disc of complete B-Sides and rarities which earned the band more good critical notices.  Bono and The Edge appeared on the second season premiere of Elvis Costello’s Spectacle.  Despite the mutual asskissing and lack of revelation, it was an entertaining interview.  Plus, there was a rare live performance of Two Shots Of Happy, One Shot Of Sad, a moving track written for Frank Sinatra in the early 1990s who, sadly, never recorded it. (His daughter, Nancy, covered it on her self-titled 2004 album.  Canadian jazz artist Matt Dusk also did a rendition on his 2004 collection, Two Shots.)
 
Ending off another memorable year, the band contributed a new song called Winter to Jim Sheridan’s latest film, Brothers.  It was recently shortlisted for consideration in the Best Original Song category for the upcoming Academy Awards.  Plus, the band received three Grammy nominations.  No Line On The Horizon is up for Best Rock Album (it should’ve also received an Album Of The Year nomination but I digress) and I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight is competing in the Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals categories. 
 
Here’s hoping it won’t be another 5-year wait for the next studio record.
 
(January 2nd UPDATE:  There’s more good news.  Pollstar.com recently announced that the band were the top grossing concert act of 2009.)
 
Loser:  Jay Leno
 
After ending his 17-year stint hosting The Tonight Show on a weak note in May, the big-chinned comedian took a gamble on a new prime-time talk show in September.  Despite debuting with very strong ratings during his first week (roughly 18 million viewers caught the opener), reviews were less than stellar.  (Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly recently named The Jay Leno Show the worst TV program of the year.)  It also didn’t hurt that the show was initally competing against reruns. 
 
Once new episodes of other programs started airing, however, the ratings dropped significantly.  In the show’s second week, the average nightly viewership was between 6 and 7 million (slightly higher than his Tonight Show viewership).  Great numbers for a late night program but not for prime-time.  Unfortunately, local NBC affiliates noticed that the show was affecting the ratings of its 11 o’clock newscasts.  They’re down by between 20 and 30%.  Despite the hilarity of Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show, its ratings have been affected by Leno, as well.  (Late Show With David Letterman routinely beats it.)
 
If that weren’t bad enough, many in the entertainment industry are openly rooting for its cancellation.  Howard Stern, still steaming over how Leno lured Stuttering John over to The Tonight Show in 2003 as well as signature bits being stolen without credit (Jaywalking, for example, being a rip-off of The Homeless Game), has been revelling in its failure and ER producer John Wells (who’s also the President of The Writers Guild Of America, West) would rather see NBC go back to making episodic dramas at 10 p.m., a common refrain of creative colleagues.  Furthermore, a number of competing networks have banned many of their talent from doing the show.
 
With Comcast now a majority holder of NBC, how long will it stick with The Jay Leno Show?  If the ratings remain lousy for a prolonged period of time, don’t expect a renewal.  
 
Winner:  Lou Diamond Phillips
 
It takes a strong person to put up with Janice Dickinson, Heidi Montag, Spencer Pratt and two Baldwin brothers for any amount of time, but to do it on Television in a rainy and muggy Costa Rican jungle for many, many hours without completely losing your dignity, that’s impressive.  Although one could easily question his decision to appear on the show in the first place, this La Bamba actor (and Tony Award nominee) made the most of his 24-day stint on the second season of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!
 
A serious competitor from the start, the 16-day Camp Leader won 11 of the 24 “trials” and was declared the winner on the 24th and final broadcast, making his charity, Art Has Heart Foundation, very happy. 
 
But it was his remarkable run in The Main Event of The 2009 World Series Of Poker that garnered far more acclaim.  One of 19 celebrities in a field of nearly 3000 overall competitors, he outlasted every one of them finishing a respectable 186 with a cashout of $36,626.  (Not bad for a $10,000 investment, the event’s entry fee.)  To put this in perspective, he finished higher than long established poker greats like 1988 World Texas Hold ‘Em Champion Phil Hellmuth (436), 2000 Champ Chris Ferguson (561) and a whole slew of others with numerous WSOP bracelets to their names. 
 
Forget these silly reality shows, Lou.  Stick with poker.
  
Loser:  Robin Quivers and Gary Dell’Abate 
 
Howard Stern’s longtime sidekick/newswoman and producer have been embarrassed countless times on the long-running morning radio staple and 2009 was no exception. 
 
After beating Regis Philbin and Stephen King on a 1997 edition of Celebrity Jeopardy, the ageless Quivers was hoping for a repeat triumph twelve years later when she battled Julie Bowen and Jane Kaczmarek during an episode that aired in November.
 
No such luck.  Unlike her previous appearance, she had a hard time buzzing in first.  Although most of the few questions she did offer were correct, it was all for naught.  By the time the game got to Final Jeopardy, she lost all but one dollar on an answer related to Film Directors.  Instead of writing “Who is Frank Capra?” (which would’ve been right), she wrote “Who is Pon?”  That response was so out there Wikipedia has a brief entry for it.  (It’s under “Non-Fiction” in that link.)
 
The first half of 2009 was just as bad as the second.  In January, she claimed that Captain Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who safely landed a commercial airliner onto New York’s Hudson River without losing a single passenger, was just doing his job and didn’t deserve to be called a hero.  And in March, during a memorable appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Dr. Drew Pinsky revealed that Quivers scored so high on her narcissism test (which was part of a greater study of celebrity ego for his co-written book, The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America) that her results were higher than 99% of the population.  You can imagine how thrilled she was with that revelation. 
 
As for Baba Booey, he’d like to forget all about May 9th.  That was the day he threw out the ceremonial opening pitch at Citi Field before a game between The Mets and The Pittsburgh Pirates.  Worrying for weeks about how it was all going to turn out (he practiced relentlessly and consulted a sports psychologist), Dell’Abate’s nerves got the better of him as he threw the ball a little too far to the right.  The meaningless, bad pitch nonetheless ignited a comedic shitstorm.  Not only was he goofed on relentlessly by listeners and his work colleagues (especially Artie Lange), his infamous pitch was hammered repeatedly in numerous news and sports reports.  It is considered one of the worst opening pitches ever.
 
Par for the course when you’re Baba Booey.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, January 1, 2010
8:16 p.m.
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Published in: on January 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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