For many around the country, this week was all about back-to-school. But in the Zone, where reading, writing and arithmetic take a backseat to autograph signing, it was more along the lines of back-to-DUIs, back-to-skeletons-in-the-closet and back-to-New-York, Jon.
Jon Stewart: There's nothing quite like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences running away from its most recent previous Oscar show host, as fast as it possibly can. It happened with Chris Rock, and now it's happened again in the wake of The Daily Show host's stint on The Yearly Show. By rushing out the news of Ellen De Generes' selection as the next MC, a full four months on the calendar before Stewart was announced as savior in 2005, AMPAS is treating him like an Emmy loser rather than the winner that he is. There was no mention of Stewart in the press release that went out to the media late Thursday, just backhanded jabs such as this quote from producer Laura Ziskin: "the show requires someone who can keep the show alive and fresh and moving, as well as someone who is a flat-out great entertainer." Oh well, if early Internet petitioners have their way, Stewart will be in the running in the fall of 2008 for a much bigger MC-ing gig, one that will probably require the adoption of a middle initial.
William Shatner: With a campy pedigree like the one this Canadian ham possesses, he can be - and is - generally forgiven for a lot of things. Another avalanche of Priceline.com ads, check; a sponsored sci fi DVD movie club, seemingly there for no other reason than to add a few bills to the Boston Legal cash pile, check. But when Captain Kirk himself proudly boasts that he's too chicken to take a trip into space, despite a personal invitation from Virgin Galactic chieftain Richard Branson, it immediately relegates the 75-year-old Emmy winner to the category of less than enterprising souls. To make matters worse, Sigourney Weaver has reportedly already booked her reservation for a two-and-a-half-hour 2008 flight. Deep down, we always knew Ripley could kick Kirk's ass.
Carl N. Karcher: It's bad enough that last year's Spicy Hot Six-Dollar Burger TV ad campaign featuring Paris Hilton yielded anything but positive results at the Carl's Jr. cash registers. Now, Founder and Chairman Emeritus Karcher has had to watch his well-paid former car wash gal become indelibly linked with competitor In-N-Out Burger. This is the kind of publicity money can't buy, and although it's still early, the happy heiress' DUI detour may well tilt a legion of six-dollar burger fans towards the double-double. Memo to Jimmy Buffet: if your marketing people aren't already on the phone with Paris' people to pitch a promo campaign for Margaritaville restaurants and gift shops, get cracking.
Sharon Stone: You'd think that becoming a Badgley Mischka cover girl and having your film Bobby in the thick of things at the Venice Film Festival would make it a good week. But lurking in the background for this 48-year-old actress were previews of not one but two tell-all Hollywood tomes, each as painful to her image as a Botox needle. In "Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins," openly gay British actor and one-time co-star Rupert Everett deems her "unhinged," while in The Devil's Guide to Hollywood, Basic Instinct screenwriter Joe Eszterhas reveals that she once so riled crew members on a film set that they happily urinated in a bathtub before she got in to shoot a scene. Then again, when one of your idols is Faye Dunaway, a woman rumored to have driven kitchen staff to salivating distraction, perhaps Stone wears this kind of thing as a badge of honor.
Marc E. Platt: The executive producer of this weekend's $40 million, five-hour ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11 has most painfully seen things come crumbling down around him, well before the symbolic five-year anniversary date of the disaster. Corporate parent Disney caved at the last minute to pressure from former Clinton administration officials and edited out portions deemed inaccurate; Scholastic Books has pulled from its website an educational cross-promotion; and everything from CNN's planned full re-airing of the day's news footage to the lingering success of Oliver Stone's stately World Trade Center may make it all somewhat moot. Taken together with Platt's previous experiences at ABC with the series adaptation dud Legally Blonde, he may want to stick with working at HBO, where he made Empire Falls.