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Friday, September 03, 2004

And the Award for Worst TV Awards Show Goes To ...
Best-value television in a long time Tuesday night: The Fifth Annual Latin Grammy Awards on CBS. It started on a high note in the opening number, with David Bisbal grabbing onto the giant belt buckle of his white jumpsuit in his solo and then, just a few minutes later, dry-humping Jessica Simpson with this shit-eating grin on his face, like they were having real rather than fake sex. Jessica Simpson looked like she was on the verge of laughing right in his face, so immense was the provocation of his ridiculous hair, clothes, and facial expression.

George Lopez was dreadful. The constant wardrobe changes I could take—not understand, but take; I know short guys can be insecure—but the patter? Unforgivable. CBS bleeped several of his “jokes.” If only they’d bleeped the rest of them. (Actually they just silenced the sound, which is a much more effective way of leaving listeners with no idea what was said than bleeping; when you get an aural cue, you can look up quickly and try to read lips—you don’t have to have worked in a mill to understand the most frequently used expletives deleted.) I couldn't figure out how CBS decided what to bleep. According to MSNBC, “Lopez said he understood that President George W. Bush speaks some Spanish. He then uttered some of the language [which CBS bleeped] in a phrase that, politely translated, means: ‘Don’t lie to me.’ In English, he joked that it meant: ‘Good luck in your future endeavors. ’ ” So, a lame political swipe they censor, but referring to William Hung as “the little chinito” they kept? (Lopez must’ve known that he’d gone too far on that one—he repeated the phrase “little chinito” referring to Ozomatli’s percussionist, who’s of, erm, Japanese descent, but pretty unconvincingly.)

I felt worst for the non-musicians who were called upon to present the awards (for one thing, they would have at least three people for each one—but they usually didn’t even have any lines of humorous dialogue, and it doesn’t take that many people to say, “And the nominations for Best Album are …” and then after the tape had run, “And the winner of the Latin Grammy is …” I felt particularly bad for Wilmer Valderrama, who I was shocked to hear really does speak like Fes in That ‘70s Show. He was stuck with some egomaniacal rapper with a political agenda—his parting shot was that he hoped a Latino rapper could be president one day. Let’s hope so, but please Allah, not that one. Wilmer’s girlfriend, Lindsay Lohan, also had a cringe-inducing exchange with her co-presenter, Carlos Santana. She thanked him for his music, and he wished her the best of luck in her future endeavors. Carlos took away the “Worst Reading From Cue-Cards” award, and believe me, he had competition (including from craptacular G-Lo, who at one point started to read his own introduction and had to step away superquick).

I also couldn’t figure out how they chose which awards to put in the telecast—a lot of the ones they elected to televise were won by artists who weren’t present (including two Spaniards—Alejandro Sanz, the night’s big winner, and Rosario—the matadora from Talk to Her, for anyone who doesn’t know her shockingly catchy music). The other big winner was Maria Rita, who I’d heard for the first time that morning on NPR's Morning Edition and who, for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on, I’d immediately taken against. Let’s see: very unimpressive audio samples and what felt like excessive self-reverence. I guess I don’t care for contemporary MPB—I’ve now given Bebel Gilberto two chances, having bought both her albums, but I can’t bring myself to like them.

There were some good bits—the number with Bebo Valdes and Diego el Cigala, with Paquito D’Rivera guesting; having people speak Spanish on prime-time network television; seeing Spanish-language ads on prime-time network television—in fact, the whole campy train wreck was irresistible, but it was one of the most amateur awards shows I’ve ever seen, up to and including several late Saturday night “image” award shows (always MC’d by Jimmy Smits for some reason) on the UHF channels.

PS: I was SHOCKED to see an ad for the next Adam Sandler movie, Spanglish, because the lead actress appears to be Paz Vega. Judging from the trailer, I thought Vega’s character was married to Sandler’s, but the IMDB summary suggests otherwise. Phew!