(06-02-2003) Bono Parodied On New TV Show - The Globe and Mail * - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-02-2003, 08:11 AM   #1
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(06-02-2003) Bono Parodied On New TV Show - The Globe and Mail *


Hey Joel pokes fun at celebrities

Toronto Peering over the Hudson River from a Manhattan Island embankment, Bono exclaims that he's able to see Africa. "I come here sometimes to look across the ocean to Africa with all its problems the politicians can't grasp," says the geographically confused singer an animated version of him anyway.

Bono is just one of many celebrities that the writers of Hey Joel poke fun at.

The new animated series, premiering this week (Bravo on Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m.), spoofs the backroom operations at VH-1, the music station that brought the world the beloved tabloid-style documentaries Behind the Music and Driven. The plot of Hey Joel concerns an ego-centric VJ who hosts an tacky three-minute-long daily celebrity talk show, which graces the bottom of the Neilsen ratings.

Hey Joel is based on the real-life Entertainment Weekly columnist and Time magazine writer Joel Stein. He is also executive producer on the series.

A neurotic wannabe celebrity himself, the character Joel proves to be a pathetic interviewer, asking empty questions and trying to steer every conversation both on and off air back to his life. Joel's absurd three minutes are intended to mock the vacuous nature of music television programming, explains Jacob Tierney, a Montreal-born actor who voices the character of Kevin, a wet-behind-the-ears intern.

"Music television networks, like MuchMoreMusic and VH1, play music that I don't really want to listen to but it's so fast that it's hard not to get hypnotized by it," he says. "You realize that you spent hours upon hours watching something you could care less about, which is how the characters work on the show."

The show a descendent of programs like The Simpsons, Family Guy and Curb Your Enthusiam satirizes society's obsession with popular culture. The humour, which will appeal to the MTV generation of TV viewers, targets benefit concerts, celebrity activism, and a range of other topics the entertainment press unquestioningly applauds. There are musical numbers in every episode, performed by New York-based pop rock band Fountains of Wayne. The series also affectionately mocks Canada whenever possible.

Playing Kevin the show's voice of reason was a breeze for 23-year-old Tierney.

"Kevin's great fun because he's so guileless. The writers really do like Kevin, I think, because everyone's been an intern so they get to put in their own jokes about the stupid stuff they've been forced to do on the job."

Tierney even had the chance to debut his impression of Canadian reggae artist Snow in an episode in which the station's executives try find replacements for Joel.

"They were so amazed that on the first take I could nail the 'Lick your boom boom now.' I said, 'Hey, it's from my childhood. Do you want me to sing a Corey Hart song?"'

Animation director Riccardo Durante, whose work includes Bob and Margaret, said animating the program was the only way to realize the edgy scripts since few celebrities would agree to do the show.

"We were allowed to do some ludicrous things with the characters, as long as it was legal. If there was something going on in the news, we were waiting for it to appear in the script. Like J.Lo." The ample-bottomed diva's reputation is the subject of one episode.

So did anyone ever feel bad about making fun of celebrity culture?

"Good God, no!" shouts Tierney. "The characters always end up being bigger jokes than the celebrities on the show. No one's poking more fun at themselves than Joel."

Besides, adds Tierney, celebrities should be able to laugh at themselves. And that's the point of the series.

"I'd be hard pressed to have much sympathy for, say, Jewel," he says. "Besides we're laughing at a media projection. We don't know what these people are actually like."

The animation style is based on the popular caricatures of Robert Risko, a highly regarded illustrator who was discovered by Andy Warhol in the late 1970s. Risko, whose work frequently appears in the New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair, has drawn over 150 famous people. Toronto-based animation studio Calibre Digital Pictures brought the characters to life.

Hey Joel was produced by Canadian-owned Blueprint Entertainment in Los Angeles and CHUM Television.

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Old 06-02-2003, 08:52 PM   #2
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pretty cool. i'll be sure to look out for it.

hi everyone. i havn't posted for a long while.
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