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January 29, 2010

CSI: NY and Kardashian: Actors, Not Celebrities!

I finally got caught up with my PVR last night, which included watching this week’s episode of CSI:NY. Regular readers know my love affair with Wednesday nights, as Wednesday is the day for Glee, Criminal Minds and CSI:NY. I wait all week for those new episodes, as to my mind, they are the best shows on tv right now, and often the only shows worth watching. (Law and Order: SVU as the exception…it’s on on Tuesdays, not Wednesdays!)

This week’s CSI:NY had two guest stars: Kim Kardashian and Vanessa Minnillo. Viewers will also point out that musician Pat Monahan was also a guest star, but I’ll get to him in a moment. I’d like to start instead with Vanessa Minnillo, whom many will likely know best as either the ex-girlfriend of former boybander Nick Lachey, or as a regular contributor to Entertainment Tonight (as of 2005, according to her information on imdb.com).  She has a few credits to her name; including an 8-episode arc on “The Bold and the Beautiful.” I will give her performance a B+; not amazing but not too bad. I could see why casting directors would consider her, given her beauty and her skills. I don’t think she was the best guest star we’ve seen on CSI:NY, but I thought she did a good job. Presumably, the more experience she gains, the better she will be come.

Moving on to Kim Kardashian, however…she’s another story. Let’s keep in mind that this is the girl who became famous as Paris Hilton’s sidekick, and then having her own sex tape leaked. (or did she leak it herself? Nothing screams “celebrity” these days like a naked video!) If you look at her credits on imdb.com, she has a lot of projects to her name, which initially seems impressive. Look closer – almost all of her credits are on shows where she has appeared as herself. Credits abound on reality-type television shows, with little work being done as other people, a.k.a actual acting. Why might this be? Because, to be perfectly honest, Kim Kardashian is not an actress. She’s beautiful, people like to follow her life, but she is not an actress. She has no discernible acting talent whatsoever, and apparently has no good friends or family members gutsy enough to tell her the truth. Her scenes were so painful that I ended up having to fast forward through parts here and there, just to stop the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Her performance was forced, fake, and awkward to watch. It didn’t work, plain and simple.

CSI:NY lost points with me this week for taking the easy way out with ratings: put a celebrity on, and people will tune in to watch the car wreck. It doesn’t matter if the performance is any good; people’s curiosity will ensure they watch, and CSI:NY can watch the numbers roll in. Instead of finding an actor (gee, aren’t there a few of those kicking around in the business these days?) and putting together a real, stellar episode, they grabbed a reality television show “star” and allowed a sub-par performance on their show.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I’m so tired of “celebrities” being put on television and movies, with studios completely overlooking the fact that these celebrities are not actors. From the moment that Michael Jordan made “Space Jam,” it’s been a downward spiral when it comes to quality of films. Gone are the days of high-quality films and television shows; those days have been replaced by special effects and big names, regardless of whether or not they have any actual abilities. “House of Wax” failed to meet its potential by adding Paris Hilton to the mix. Sure, it got its box office draw, but was it a film creators could be proud of? Probably not, as they took the weasel way out too.

The other night, my friend and I watched To Kill A Mockingbird, starring Gregory Peck. This film is black-and-white, with NO special effects (shooting of the rabid dog excluded) of any kind; in short, it is a film that tells a story. It has a strong cast and a compelling plot, and it works. It worked then and it worked now. Gregory Peck’s courtroom performance far exceeds almost anything being put out today, and why? Because studio heads knew then what they seem to forget now: it should be about the story, and the talent of the people to tell it.

These days, “reality television” people are invading our non-reality television shows, and bringing their crappy non-talents with them. I for one am completely sick of this kind of crap. Celebrities are not necessarily actors! Just because someone plays themselves on a so-called reality show does not mean they ought to be on television taking on actual roles. Save the acting for the actors, and the reality crap for the idiots who are willing to sit through painful, terrible scripted reality.

As for Pat Monahan – he is a musician/singer, who also did a guest spot on the show. I’m not sure if he is a good actor or not, since he did not spend that much time acting. He was there more as a musician, and since that’s what he does best, I though his performance was great. Had we seen more of his acting chops, he might have ended up in the same category as Kim Kardashian; who knows?

Please, writers and studio execs everywhere: stop with this TMZ-driven casting, and return to the art of television and filmmaking. Your audiences deserve better than this. What’s next? A guest spot for Heidi and Spencer?

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