TV Eye

It Ain't Easy Being Kathie Lee

It must be tough to be Kathie Lee Gifford. Just think about all the jokes. Jokes about her talent (or lack thereof), her errant husband (after years of breathlessly proclaiming she had a happy marriage), how her departure from Regis and Kathie Lee actually boosted the show's ratings, how her line of clothing was made by sweatshop labor (and her ignorance of what a sweatshop is), and, most notably, the constant doting over her children, particularly her first-born, who appeared with her in a forgettable movie of the week, after she swore she had no interest in her children joining show business. All of this coupled with the rumored sharp-as-nails demeanor under that sugar frosting have made her a target for media watchers, critics, and late-night talk show comedians.

My mom loves Kathie Lee. She remembers her from her days as the featured singer on Name That Tune. In fact, Kathie Lee's biggest fan base are the middle-aged women who, for some reason, look past the tabloid headlines, the gossip, and the bad press to support her. I'm not sure what the attraction is. They seem to honestly like (i.e., buy) the girl-next-door image and the peachy-cheeked smile.

Kathie Lee leaves that image behind in her upcoming E! Entertainment Television original movie Spinning Out of Control. She plays a viperous actress named Amanda Berkeley, a successful star of the fictional television series Whaddaya Want Mom? But behind the bright smile lurks a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

This isn't Kathie Lee's first foray into drama. She made a critically praised Broadway appearance in the Stephen Sondheim musical revue Putting It Together in 1999, playing an alcoholic woman who recounts the events that left her bitter and lonely. It would seem that experience would have prepared her for the role of Amanda Berkeley. Unfortunately, Spinning Out of Control is no Sondheim musical.

While it's somewhat enjoyable to watch Kathie Lee play against type as a sloppy, pill-popping, barf-on-her-shoes drunk, her character generates absolutely no sympathy. Kathie Lee's Amanda Berkeley bolts from the gate spitting and snarling, so when she's perched herself on the ledge of Times Square's Trinatron ready to jump, I'm thinking, "Go ahead!"

Robin Givens has a useless role as an actress who signs with manager Marty Levine (Howie Mandel), and Mandel runs himself ragged for Berkeley, cleaning up one PR spill after the next. As a breakout movie for Kathie Lee, Spinning Out of Control misses the mark. But if you're looking for some trashy trifle to burn away a couple of hours, tune in. Spinning Out of Control premieres Sunday, 3/18, 8pm. Check local listings for encore presentations.

That's the Independent Spirit

You won't see Joan or Melissa Rivers on the red carpet at the 16th Annual Independent Spirit Awards. First of all, there is no red carpet, unless you count the rosy hue the sunset casts on the sands of the Santa Monica beach where this proudly unglamorous awards show takes place. Of all the awards shows, this is by far my favorite. Irreverent, untainted by Hollywood glitz, open to a wider circle of filmmakers -- most notably, women and people of color -- and hell, just a lot more fun, the ISA is one of the last bastions of indie spirit. Tom Hanks can leave his tux at the dry cleaners.

Some of the major award categories and nominees include:

  • Best Feature: Before Night Falls; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; George Washington; Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai; Requiem for a Dream.

  • Best Director: Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger), Christopher Guest (Best in Show), Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream), Julian Schnabel (Before Night Falls), Miguel Arteta (Chuck & Buck).

  • Best First Feature: Boiler Room (dir., Ben Younger); Girlfight (dir., Karyn Kusama), Love & Basketball (dir., Gina Prince-Bythewood), The Visit (dir., Jordan Walker-Pearlman), You Can Count on Me (dir., Kenneth Lonergan).

  • Best Debut Performance: Rory Culkin (You Can Count on Me), Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight), Mike White (Chuck & Buck), Candace Evanofski, Curtis Cotton III, Damian Jewan Lee, Donald Holden, and Rachael Handy (all from George Washington).

    For a complete list of nominees, go to The Independent Spirit Awards air live on Saturday, 3/24, 4pm, on the Independent Film Channel. Rebroadcast of the ceremony is at 9pm on Bravo and 10:15pm on IFC.

    All Things Oscar

    For those more interested in mainstream fare, The 73rd Annual Academy Awards Show will air Sunday, 3/25, 7pm, on ABC. In preparation for the big event, the E! Network will feature a week's worth of pre- and post-Oscar programming. Highlights include: Inside the Academy Awards, Monday (3/19)-Thursday (3/22), at 9pm. The 30-minute programs feature profiles of nominees Russell Crowe, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, and Tom Hanks. Inside the Academy Awards Roundtable features a discussion with E! media mavens and industry insiders who make their predictions, Friday, 3/23, 9pm. Countdown to the Red Carpet offers a peek at all the last-minute details necessary to launch the big event, starting at 11am and lasting until the event itself on Oscar day (3/25). The 2001 Academy Awards Post-Show airs immediately following the ceremony. Fashionistas Melissa and Joan Rivers offer comments on the best and worst dressed of the evening on their Academy Awards Fashion Review, Saturday, 3/31, 2pm. Check local listings to confirm air times and for encore presentations.

    E-mail Belinda Acosta at

  • A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

    Support the Chronicle  

    More TV Eye
    TV Eye: That's What She Said
    TV Eye: That's What She Said
    After 10 years in print, 'TV Eye' has its series finale

    Belinda Acosta, July 8, 2011

    TV Eye: Go LoCo
    TV Eye: Go LoCo
    Awards, and a word about what's on the horizon for 'TV Eye'

    Belinda Acosta, July 1, 2011


    spinning out of control, kathie Lee gifford, independent spirit awards

    One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

    Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

    Keep up with happenings around town

    Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

    Austin's queerest news and events

    Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

    Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle