Comic Harry Shearer is the voice of creativity
He's been a featured player on Saturday Night Live, held the bass chair in comic rockers Spinal Tap and provided more than a dozen voices on The Simpsons. • But Harry Shearer knows his work often sprouts through the cracks in show business: from his long-running NPR program Le Show, to his media essays on the Huffington Post Web site and his collection of satirical tunes about the Bush administration, Songs of the Bushmen.
"I always have gone where the most creativity and freedom have been available," said Shearer, calling from Los Angeles. "It's available at two places: at the top of show business if you make absolutely mindless mediocrities that sell a zillion dollars, or at the dawn of new media, (where) you can do interesting things and then, all of a sudden, the guys come in and say, 'Wait a minute, these are the rules' and then it's time to leave."
That may be a not-so-subtle reference to Clear Channel, which declined to sell Shearer billboard space to advertise Bushmen because it featured a caricature of President Bush with a bone through his nose.
"They're the last people to know that it's okay to criticize Bush now," Shearer said. Songs of the Bushmen features Shearer playing a gleeful Karl Rove and a regretful Colin Powell. A video featuring Shearer made up as Rove is available on MyDamnChannel.com, and the album is available on iTunes and Amazon.com.
"It just seemed to me I'd better hurry up and do this record before these guys became inmates," said the comic, whose last parody record, Songs Pointed and Pointless, won a Grammy this year. "If they were still in office, I think (the songs) would have had a more bitter or angry tone to them but I was able to, as they were leaving, still be savage but in a way get into their heads and imagine their bittersweet point of view."
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Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, finale airs at 10 p.m. Thursday on Bravo: Griffin wraps up her always-hilarious reality series with a visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she tells the liaison, jokingly, "My goal is to get you kicked out and have you lose your pension in one day." When her show rolls around, the ribald comic faces an audience that includes four chaplains and six small kids. Can her R-rated riffs on Britney Spears and penis size build a bridge to America's wounded fighting men and women?
Pam: Girl on the Loose, 10 p.m. Sundays, E!; Luke's Parental Advisory, 10:30 p.m. Mondays, VH1: It's no surprise that so many celebrities think their lives are worthy of documentation on TV. What's amazing is how boring these "reality" series are, from Pamela Anderson's crabbing with ex-hubby Tommy Lee to X-rated rapper Luther Campbell's fitting discovery than his teen son watches porn. They lack two things: a real story and a willingness to make their subjects look stupid when necessary, which is quite often.
TV Guide's annual list of the tube's biggest moneymakers reveals that the star of Hot Shots! is now the highest paid actor on television. Here's how some of TV's salaries stack up to other professions, combining TV Guide's figures with stats from Parade magazine's What People Earn survey:
Charlie Sheen, above left, Two and a Half Men, $825,000 per episode.
Sean Abid, high school counselor in Nevada, $61,400 annually.
William Petersen, CSI, $600,000 per episode.
Jana Landry, language arts teacher in Louisiana, $48,000 annually.
Mariska Hargitay, Law & Order: SVU, $400,000 per episode.
Shirley Cole, adoption recruiter in Montana, $26,000 annually.
Kyra Sedgwick, The Closer, $275,000 per episode.
The average U.S. worker in 2007, $36,140 annually.
If you hadn't heard of FunnyorDie.com when co-founder Will Ferrell started cranking out video shorts for them last year, you surely checked it out last week, when Paris Hilton gave them her rebuttal to John McCain, advising the candidates she would "see you at the debates, b------." It's a clearinghouse for user-generated video clips and original stuff from Ferrell, Will Arnett, Judd Apatow and many other comedy heavyweights, allowing any schmoe from your local comedy club to compete with the writers of Step Brothers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin.