They're our latest superheroes, expertly coiffed and outfitted, ready to blaze a path of good hygiene and high fashion through the Animal Houses of America. Grooming guru Kyan Douglas, fashion maven Carson Kressley, food expert Ted Allen, interior designer Thom Filicia and "culture vulture" Jai Rodriguez are the gay miracle workers on Bravo TV's new series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Otherwise known as the "Fab 5," they barrel into a different straight guy's home each week to perform a brilliant, bitchily witty exorcism of their victims' pleated pants, prune butter, nose hair and nasty underpants, just in time for some special event like a wedding proposal.
Cable channel FX has decided to give professional life -- as shown on TV -- a makeover. Literally. FX wasn't about to trot out any of the old gray mares of workplace shows -- the comforting cops-n-lawyers format of Law & Order, the faux drama of ER's doctors, the ludicrous hysterics pumped into The Practice to make lawyering look sexy. Instead, the characters on FX's newest show are practitioners of that most au courant of professions: plastic surgery.
The Iranian regime has its visions of Iran, which it expresses in public art that hangs above Tehran's traffic-snarled streets: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the thunderous-browed father of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, scowls down from a giant mural; young men who perished in the eight-year war with Iraq, barely bearded, gaze out from their martyrs' fields of painted red tulips; protesters throw rocks at an Israeli flag; a Statue of Liberty sports a skull for a head; more mullahs, more martyrs. We Americans have our visions of Iran, too: seething crowds besieging the U.S. embassy, fanatical women in chadors. For us, the images add up to a nation with which we have no official diplomatic relations, only bitter words.
The Carpenters were already strange enough. The brother and sister duo churned out hit after relentless hit in the 1970s, all perk, sweet harmonies and Karen Carpenter's eerily smooth voice. But that contralto seemed to mask a yawning emptiness; Karen crooned about melancholy in much the same way she sang about joy -- with the flattened affect of the medicated.
American Idol had scarcely wrapped up its season before yet another talent show sprang up: NBC's Fame, starring the indomitable Debbie Allen as part judge, part boot-camp instructor, part mom to a group of aspiring singer-dancers. There's not much new in showbiz these days, as Allen's career trajectory will attest. Here she's reprising her art-school teacher role from the 1980 Fame movie, which she followed up by directing a TV series spin-off. You might say this is Allen's third attempt at living forever, and one can only hope the third time's the charm.