Reel Life: Who is Cuba Gooding Sr. and other riddles of life

When I was young, I thought I had all the answers. Then I began to realize I had more questions than answers. Now that I’ve watched “Jeopardy!” I realize I have to put the answers in the form of a question.

And living in L.A., I am plagued by constant mysteries, wondering about the meaning of life, about the nature of reality, and about how so many actors are out of work while Jake Steinfeld has two TV series. But there are other riddles that I need answers to:

Why do audiences feel obliged to applaud every time dancers start doing high kicks in a chorus line?

Why do studios like to put out trailers that tell the whole story of the film?

Who is Cuba Gooding Sr.?

Since film is a collaborative medium and since directors already are guaranteed on-screen acknowledgement, why do we need the “a film by —” credit?

Since I’ve had cable, why has no pay service carried “The Lady Eve” or “Chinatown,” yet all of them seem to air “He Said, She Said” and “Ski School” daily?

In its ratings, is the MPAA implying that “sensuality” is a bad thing in movies?

Is Aaron Spelling aware that once you come up with a good idea for a series –“The Love Boat,””Dynasty,””Beverly Hills, 90210”– the next five series don’t have to repeat that same idea?

Why do people in theaters seem to think cellophane will make less noise if you unwrap it slowly?

If I defend Robert Mapplethorpe, do I have to defend Ice-T?

Are you and I the only people in America who are not planning our own syndicated talkshows?

How many series are on TV because the producers and the network really believed in them and how many are on to fulfill contractual obligations?

When did banging your head against an opponent’s forehead become a staple in movie fights?

Can’t somebody do something about Robyn Astaire?

Who is Lou Gossett Sr.?

Is it just me, or does Barney the Dinosaur look like some foam rubber costume your mom threw together at the last minute for a school play?

For someone who still harbors ’60s sensibilities, what is one to think of Niggaz With Attitude and Queer Nation?

Why are there so many Dockers-style commercials where the camera roams around , never showing the actors’ faces and never quite focusing on the product?

When Madison Avenue whizzes continue to add the words “New! Improved!” to products, are they aware that standup comics have been making fun of this for decades?

Which would you rather make: a Victoria Jackson cosmetics infomercial, an appearance on Home Shopping Club, or a commercial for Depend adult diapers?

How much would they have to pay you to do your first choice? How much would they have to pay you to do your third choice?

When did a kick to the crotch become a standard part of fight scenes, a guaranteed laugh-getter in comedies and a cute thing to do in family films such as “Beethoven,””Three Ninjas,””Sister Act” and “Cop and a Half”?

Who is Gus Van Sant Sr.?

Why do standup comics and guests on talkshows pause after announcing “I just got married” or “I’ve lost 20 pounds”– as if these events were so unprecedented , the audience should applaud heartily?

And why do audiences oblige them by applauding heartily?

If Martians landed and the first people they saw were Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bob Newhart and Linda Hunt, would they recognize them as being from the same species?

Why do character actors like Jeff Goldblum and James Woods try so hard to be leading men when leading men like Christopher Reeve and Tom Selleck are trying so hard to be character actors?

Has Robert Urich ever been out of work?

Has there ever been a “Saturday Night Live” host who didn’t hug and kiss cast members at the end and say they’d had a great time?

How much more news could fit into the telecast if KTLA’s morning news team stopped trying so hard to make each other giggle?

At what point were you first aware that Liz Smith had gone out of control?

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