We've reached that point in the summertime when our usual Pop Culture Happy Hour crew has shrunk to nearly nothing: Host Linda Holmes is still at the Television Critics Association press tour, Trey Graham is attending a journalism convention in Las Vegas, and producer Mike Katzif is gazing down on us a la Simba's dad in The Lion King. This leaves us with a reconstituted but still formidable crew, in which Glen Weldon and I are joined by Tanya Ballard Brown, Matt Thompson and producer Jess Gitner.
We kick off the week's discussion with the issue of celebrity gossip — namely, whether endless coverage of an entertainer's personal life affects our enjoyment of said entertainer's work. We touch on Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson, of course, but we also look at the history and evolution of celebrity coverage, as Glen Weldon brings up Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor in the same sentence as the words "slattern" and "virago." And I, with the utmost sincerity, name a practical use for the Kardashians, assorted Real Housewives, and everyone who has ever appeared on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.
From there, it's on to a round of an old PCHH standby: People We're Pulling For, in which each roundtable participant names and discusses an entertainer or phenomenon in whose success we revel. Tanya celebrates the looming comeback of a late-'90s soul singer; Glen talks up yet another rising actor who's appeared in a Target commercial; Matt cheers the rise of self-published authors, with an emphasis on a particular writer who explores the ambiguities of gay life; and I praise a comic actor who's made some headway thanks to one of TV's most serious dramatic shows. Said actor just got on Twitter — I'm sayin', is all.
Finally, it's on to a round of What's Making Us Happy: Tanya is excited about the August 13 return of one of her favorite TV shows; Glen highlights a podcast that's growing on him, with an emphasis on a particular interview segment; Matt praises an unlikely pop mash-up before calling out a favorite new adventure game; and Stephen is still giddy from both a recent music festival and the fate of his namesake kitten.
And, as always, we invite you to join us at our Facebook page, which is a veritable gallery of delightful rascals. We're also on Twitter: Linda, me, Glen, Matt, Tanya, producer Jess Gitner, producer emeritus Mike, and absent panelist Trey. Follow us, won't you?