Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Curious Case of Jimmy Johnson

I was watching a NASCAR race on television recently when former Dallas Cowboys' coach Jimmy Johnson appeared during the commercial break wearing a driver's suit and promoting a male enhancement product called Extenze. Talk about a guy who must be -- excuse the expression -- hard up for money.

Can you imagine the agent who had the cojones to pitch male enhancement to Jimmy Johnson? “I've got an offer here for you, coach. It's going to be really big."

That's certainly a game changer when it comes to your personal brand. With this spot, Johnson has essentially gone from a coach who won championships in both the NCAA and NFL to a guy who has some issues south of the border. Ditto for Johnson's former NFL colleague, Mike Ditka, who previously pitched Levitra, an impotence drug.

I yearn for the good old days when sports personalities appeared in beer ads screaming "less filling" and "tastes great." If Dick Butkus had problems below the belt, he sure didn't bother to share it with us.

The Extenze commercial is the second curious decision Johnson has made lately. Johnson also has been taking part in this season’s "Survivor." Let's hope his stay in Nicaragua is not too short.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Who Will Fill the Boss’ Seat on The Office?

There is a rumor that Harvey Keitel is being courted to replace the departing Steve Carell as boss of “The Office.” I have a few better ideas.

Whoever replaces Carell has to be a blustery, clueless, loveable lug … or at least able to play one on TV. With that mind, I have come up with the following short list.
  • Matthew Broderick tops my list. He has a dry sense of humor like Carell and was talking directly into cameras before talking directly into cameras was cool with “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” He’d probably take the gig if for no other reason than being tired of playing second fiddle to his wife, actress Sarah Jessica Parker of “Sex in the City” fame.

  • Ted Danson played a lovable letch on “Cheers” and he’s terrific in the unscripted “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He seems to work well in an ensemble cast. While I never really watched “Becker,” I guess somebody did.

  • Brad Garrett played the perpetually put upon brother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It’s easy to imagine HR guy Toby as Garrett’s new Raymond-like foil.

  • Janeane Garofalo would mix things up as the female boss on the office. She’s a comedienne with an understated wit and I’ve never seen her in anything bad.

  • The actor who played “PC” in the popular “Mac-PC” commercials. I hear he’s funny and he wouldn’t even have to change his wardrobe.

If I were swinging for the fences, I’d call Jim Carrey or Ben Stiller.

However, Keitel wouldn’t be my pick even if I were choosing only from the cast of “The Usual Suspects.” In that case, I’d go with Ray Liotta. I saw him on a cooking segment with Martha Stewart once and he looked as clueless as Michael Scott.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Obama Speech Not Without Flaws

I watched President Obama’s speech on Iraq last night for my speech class so I might as well share my impressions. Obama is obviously an accomplished speaker and he struck the right tone. There were a few solid lines, but the speech was not without its flaws.

The setting was right: in the Oval Office surrounded by family pictures and wearing a power tie and an American flag lapel pin. There were strong lines, such as, “Our combat mission is ending, but our commitment to Iraq’s future is not.” He also made news for the press corps with a pledge to be out of Afganstain by next year.

With all that said, I have two main criticisms. First, Obama tried to cover too much. Second, he sometimes sounded more like a candidate than the president.

Obama’s speech had three main topics: Iraq, Afghanistan and the economy. It was natural to tie together the first two topics since both are Middle East hotspots. However, the speech unraveled when Obama turned to the economy. The president tried to convince us that forwarding his domestic agenda is somehow a way to honor the troops.

This leads me to my second criticism. Although subtle, Obama was too partisan for my liking, particularly for a speech of this nature. There was no need to rehash his disagreements with Bush or remind us of his campaign pledge. He also set expectations for continuing violence, saying, “As we speak, Al-Qaeda continues to plot against us. “ I’m sure this is the president’s way of trying to insulate himself against future criticism from the opposition party.

Obama was at his best when he eschewed politics for more universal themes. He spoke of his grandfather’s use of the GI Bill and talked about the last combat battalion leaving Iraq on the very road in which it had entered the country, but this time “no shots were fired.” He said they had “fought in a faraway place for people they never knew.”

Good stuff, but it could have been better if it had been a little more focused and a little less partisan.