The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
If the actors on Two and a Half Men keep chomping like this, show creators Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn might not have any hands left.
Just over a year after Charlie Sheen’s meltdown that led to his departure from the show and replacement with Ashton Kutcher, half-man Angus T. Jones, 19, is going in the other direction to bite the hand that has fed him for nearly a decade.
In a video recorded in his trailer at Warner Bros. Studios with Christopher Hudson of the Apocalyptic Christian website Forerunner Chronicles, Jones’ denounced the show as “filth” and told viewers not to watch it.
“I’m on Two and a Half Men, I don’t want to be on it,” Jones said in the video. “Please stop watching it. Please stop filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment … Do some research on the effects of television on your brain, and I promise you, you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television, and especially with what you watch on television. It’s bad news.”
The video came out just a few weeks after an episode in which his character, Jake, was engaged in a flagrantly sexual fling with a character played by America’s onetime sweetheart, Miley Cyrus. I don’t watch the show much, but last night I did catch an episode in syndication that sort of proved Jones’ point, from a conservative evangelical viewpoint: Sheen’s character, Charlie, was giving a much younger Jake girlfriend advice using cupcakes as a metaphor for sex.
The clip is part of a larger video of Jones’ testimony on the website in which he talks about going to a Christian school while he was on the show and getting into drugs and materialism until late last year when he was contemplating future endeavors (the half-hour testimony is in two parts).
“I had said, ‘God’s definitely going to be a part of this,” Jones said of his plans. “And it kind of hit me, ‘No, God is the center of all this, God is the reason for all this.’ And right when I said that, I had this feeling of warmth, acceptance, love.”
He said that at that moment, “I felt like I just accepted God into my life.”
He said after that, he contemplated whether to continue doing the show, aware that it was a compromise with his new-found beliefs.
Later in the video, he said, “You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t.”
But will he be?
Jones did not say he is quitting the show, and Monday, representatives of CBS and the show had no comment on the video. According to England’s Daily Mail, Jones’ mother claims he is being exploited by the church.
It has been pointed out in most accounts of Jones’ testimony that he makes $350,000 per episode of the show, which would be a nice annual salary for most people. Numerous commentators have accused Jones of hypocrisy, cashing checks for something he believes is immoral. But remember, he was 10 when he started on the show, pursuing an acting career his mother suggested as a good way to make money for college. And he is under contract.
His beliefs are still forming — I think few of us hold all of the same convictions we had when we were 19.
But now he has declared beliefs and he will have some life decisions to make. In the video, he talked about possibly using his position on the show as a forum for evangelism, though it may be hard to take him seriously if he continues in a show that basically has promiscuous sex as its centerpiece. But if he is no longer on the show, how loud will his voice be? Could he pursue a career like fellow-former child star Kirk Cameron, who is now a speaker and something of a superstar of Christian film? And if he did, would he just be preaching to the choir?
Show producers may be making some of those decisions for Jones. After all, they have written around the loss of a major character before.
From a TV viewers’ perspective, you have to wonder if Jon Cryer has a meltdown in him, and what form it might take.
Or will he just be the last man standing?
Jun2Filed under: Downtown Arts Center, SummerFest, Theater; Tagged as: Charlie Sheen, Downtown Arts Center, Ellie Clark, Henry Layton, James Bond, Jesse Hungerford, Ke$ha, Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory, Nick Vannoy, Osama bin Laden, Oscar Wilde, Spencer Christensen, The Importance of Being Earnest, YouTube
It started with a fight.
Last summer at the Kentucky Classical Theatre Conservatory, fight director Henry Layton choreographed a fight to a scene from the Oscar Wilde classic The Importance of Being Earnest.
“It was really exciting to everyone involved, and they had some idea how they could mount that show and turn it into something else,” writer and director Spencer Christensen says
It turned into something else entirely. Exhausting action is at the center of The Impersonation of Being Ernest. But it is also a big pop culture commentary combining Wilde’s words with James Bond’s sensibility spiked with lyrics from Ke$ha, videos from YouTube, references to Osama bin Laden and Charlie Sheen, all set in Orange County, Calif. – identified here, of course, as The OC.
“We played on every sort of spoof that we can,” Christensen says. “We’re spoofing a lot. And because The Importance of Being Earnest is sort of a social commentary on Wilde’s time, that’s what we’re doing. So we’ve got YouTube videos here left and right. … It’s very up-to-date. And then we’ve got sword fighting in the show and dancing. I mean you watch these people do this for 83 minutes and wonder, ‘How do they survive it?’”
The show, which plays through Sunday at the Downtown Arts Center, is in part a recruitment tool for the conservatory, now renamed Kentucky Conservatory Theatre.
“Trish wanted to mount a show to really showcase the people who have worked in KCT, who have taught in it, who were in the program and have left it and are still working, and that was the idea,” Christensen said, referring to KCT director Trish Clark.
They include Christensen, who actually helped create an early education arm of the Lexington Shakespeare Festival, the event that preceded KCT’s SummerFest as the July theater festival in The Arboretum. (He will also play Victor Frankenstein in SummerFest’s production of Frankenstein.)
Other distinguished faculty and alumni include Ellie Clark, who starred in last summer’s production of Pride and Prejudice and is alumna of the apprentice program at Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Nick Vannoy, who played Collins in last summer’s production of Rent and will play the creature in this summer’s Frankenstein before heading off to the ATL apprentice program. Ernest also stars Layton, the event’s longtime fight coordinator, and Jesse Hungerford, who played Romeo in SummerFest’s age-appropriate production of Romeo & Juliet in 2007.
“It’s done to showcase whatever their talent is, whatever their strength is,” Christensen says. “As I started to know who was in this show, I started to write for them.”
If the show sets a goal of creating physical comedy, rehearsals demonstrate what a hard bar that is to reacg. Before the final dress rehearsal, Christensen and his actors run and rerun scenes trying to nail the timing on lines and actions for maximum comic effect.
“For a long time, I thought about writing sketch comedy, et cetera,” Christensen says, “so there’s a lot of that in here.
“When you create something like this, there are times that you ask, ‘Am I pushing it too far?’ But you have to trust your gut, and I feel like people will want to come because there’s so much in there.”
Once again this year we were told that the Academy Awards were going to be new and different and better. And we will probably hear that again next year.
We can say this for the 2011 Academy Awards: They clocked in at 3 hours and 10 minutes, if you don’t count the 30 minute preshow, and finished well before midnight. That’s something we’d been saying we wanted from the granddaddy of award shows for decades.
This year producers brought in a couple young actors, Anne Hathaway (28) and James Franco (32), as opposed to older comedians, to help make this feel less like your granddaddy’s award show. This did produce some diminution of expectations. While we expect Jon Stewart or Ellen DeGeneres to crack us up, we really didn’t know what to expect from two people we are much more used to seeing on film.
That’s how they started, with a filmed bit based on best picture nominee Inception with Franco and Hathaway popping into best picture nominees guided by Alec Baldwin – the first of several reminders of more successful hosting outings past.
Then they moved into a fairly typical hosting routine, Franco mostly looking smug and Hathaway seeming really, really excited to be there. They had some moments. After The Fighter‘s Melissa Leo dropped the F-bomb during he acceptance speech for best supporting actress, Hathaway quipped, “I thought F was for ‘Fighter.’” And at the end of Hathaway’s production number about how she didn’t have a production number with Hugh Jackman, Franco came out dressed like Marilyn Monroe and quipped that Charlie Sheen had already texted him, the best of many Sheen jokes I’ve heard this year.
Funny thing was, for a production that was supposedly trying to appeal to younger viewers, there seemed to be a strange preoccupation with the wayback machine, including a segment about longtime Oscars host Bob Hope, who set the standard for Oscar hosts.
Hathaway and Franco weren’t great, but they avoided awful and really can’t be blamed for what was a plodding three hours and small change. Oscar is simply a ceremony with a lot to do, and there’s little suspense.
In a way you have to admire an award show that is committed to giving out most of its prizes on the national broadcast, even technical and smaller film categories that are mysteries to most viewers. But they sure do stretch the night, and numerous shows like the Grammys only hand out a few awards on their broadcasts.
The bigger thing is suspense. No awards show is preceded by the long string of preliminary awards that make the outcome of the Oscars pretty much a foregone conclusion. The only surprise last night was relatively minor: The King’s Speech‘s Tom Hooper getting best director when many thought The Social Network‘s David Fincher would get it, creating a rare best picture-best director split. But things went off as normal.
Oscar already made one time change, moving up to February from March, when it seemed to come awfully late. Maybe the Academy might want to make another move, up ahead some of the guilds and other awards so that it can be more of leader and less of a follower.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich