- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

Busy ‘Lizzie’

“If you are above, say, 17, you may never heard of her, but [Hillary] Duff’s TV series, ‘Lizzie McGuire,’ is among the top-rated cable shows with viewers ages 6 to 14. The show is winding down its 65-episode run, and a movie spin-off — cleverly titled ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ — opened on May 2.

“It is the second of Duff’s four movies this year: She’s already been Frankie Muniz’s love interest in this spring’s ‘Agent Cody Banks’; she’s currently filming a role as one of Steve Martin’s daughters in ‘Cheaper by the Dozen’; and after that, she’ll play the lead in the self-explanatorily titled ‘Cinderella Story.’ On top of all that, her album, ‘Metamorphosis,’ is due in stores this fall, and her makeup and clothing line is scheduled to debut next spring. It is an impressive to-do list for a 15-year-old girl. …

“Duff’s skill at portraying the average, all-American girl has led to her life bearing less and less resemblance to that of an average, all-American girl.”

Tim Carvell, writing on “The Girl in the Bubble,” in the May 9 issue of Entertainment Weekly

Mr. Laughter

“No one was rude enough to laugh out loud when the father of the television laugh track, Charlie Douglass, landed a part in that great sitcom-in-the-sky last month. But, typically, more than a few self-appointed culture mavens and media snobs were snickering under their breath. …

“Canned laughter debuted in the 1950s on the short-lived ‘Hank McCune Show.’ … Apparently Mr. McCune wasn’t getting enough laughs, so the producers spliced in tape of laughter from other live-audience shows. ‘The Hank McCune Show’ — laughs or no laughs — soon faded into oblivion, but the technique lived on, thanks in large part to Charlie Douglass.

“A former radio man and World War II veteran who helped develop radar for the Navy, Mr. Douglass was a technical director for other live shows and soon heard of the laugh-loop technique. An entrepreneurial sort, he immediately saw the value of such a contraption and promptly invented what he called the ‘Laff Box,’ which before long became the industry standard. …

“Like it or not, laugh tracks appear to be here to stay, and for good reason. … Pavlovian as it may be, humans tend to laugh more when they hear other humans laughing.”

Michael Judge, writing on “Charlie Douglass, RIP,” Thursday in the Wall Street Journal

Orwellian culture

“Tammy Bruce depicts a society in which felons are lauded as heroes, murderers as victims, and rapists as liberators. In this society, various groups strive to be more equal than others. Sadly, her book describes not some Orwellian nightmare of the future, but the moral relativism that today’s liberal establishment is already laboring to force on the American people.

“In ‘The Death of Right and Wrong,’ Bruce decries the current subversion of American culture by the Left. …

“As a gay feminist, Bruce was a poster child for the gay movement — until, that is, she began questioning why the gay movement should accept depraved and harmful practices as ‘alternative lifestyles.’ For expressing her opinions, Bruce was accused of being intolerant and a danger to the community. …

“Bruce, as a feminist, laments the usurpation of legitimate movements by the liberal elites. For example, in 1966, NOW sought to bring women ‘into truly equal partnership with men.’ Today there are no positive references to men at all in the statement of purpose. Instead, they write: ‘We envision a world where patriarchal culture and male dominance no longer oppress us on our earth.’”

Meghan Keane, writing on “Bruce’s Tell-All,” Wednesday in National Review Online at www.nationalreview.com

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