So I’m watching “Dinner for Five”, a show on the IFC channel where various celebrities from the Indepent circuit sit around a table and chat about whatever young talent talks about. The mix of talent is really good and can theoretically be quite entertaining, actually. For reality tv junkies like myself, it offers a refreshing change from watching Project Runway and American Idol Rejects. Enter this series that attempts to engage the viewer by making the famous relatable and hopefully interesting. The fly-on-the-wall concept is good. Every viewer would love to hear what is said at the table at awards ceremonies. The problem is that it doesn’t deliver. At least, not with this group.
Now I’ll admit that this cast involved a rather ennui-ridden panel that left it up to one contributor: Adam Goldberg to offer his views on literally EVERYTHING. Adam, comfortably talkative, was a master at dominating the conversation. We can all stand to learn a lot from him. He was funny, silly, and very outspoken. Not so of the rest of the group he was carrying.
The problem that I saw with this particular installment, was that despite all of this young talent, some stars are too ensconced in the traditional “I’m-broody-don’t-talk-or-look-at-me” attitude or the “I’m-too-important-to-comment-on-such-things” stand. Then there are those who–let’s face it–have NOTHING to say. Those actors/writers/musicians/artists are just happy to have been invited. There was Christina Ricci who succeeded at doing what she does best: appearing wan, puffing away on cigarettes to appear secure. She reminded me of, dare I say, Anna Nicole Smith with her slow, slurred drawl. Maybe she was just drunk. I can’t tell. The highlight of her contribution to this episode? An impersonation of a Mister Rogers puppet in The Land of Make-Believe, which seems fitting considering her line of work. Make-believe. I don’t think she even bought her performance. But she should be given marks for at least attempting to appear normal. Jon Favreau, who should be guiding his “peers” to gain some forward momentum in the conversation, waited to let his peers shine on without him. Sensing that the ship was going down in a blaze of glory, he wisely switched gears toward the end, directing his attention to the only student contributing to the class: Adam.
What I felt the most gypped on, was that I was left with nothing memorable. There was no conflict (save for the little tidbit from Christina about some nasty remarks from Vincent Gallo). Steve Drozd also had nothing to say. They kept placing the description, “Steve Drozd from The Flaming Lips” underneath his name just to remind the viewer of who he was. Likewise, Giovanni Ribisi shyly added that he was not aware of the experience he’d had as Phoebe’s brother on “Friends”. That was a big let-down because I can scarce remember his performances in anything else. Oh, except maybe “Gone in 60 Seconds”, which is just about the length of my attention span whenever Mr. Ribisi mumbled to himself in the corner. Where I wanted to go, they were unwilling to go. I can get more from Inside the Actors’ Studio with James Lipton!
Underneath it all, these artists want to keep working. They cannot be brutally honest for fear that they may be blacklisted. Thus, the conversation is limited to talk of “creative challenges” on various “projects”. In order to succeed, Mr. Favreau needs to make sure that the artists he chooses are present and accounted for. Otherwise, what the hell’s the point?