A classic “THE TWILIGHT ZONE” episode involved a little man peddling obscure items that people will need in the future, from a scissors to a leaky pen. In that spirit of off-the-beaten-track gifts, let’s look into the holiday grab bag for Hollywood’s elite:
Fox: A used copying machine. Fox’s duplicates have been coming out a bit too clearly, prompting litigation over “The Next Great Champ” and “Wife Swap.” Granted, everyone does it, but there’s something to be said for blurring the template just a little.
Marc Cherry: Knitting needles. The “Desperate Housewives” creator will face his own temptations as networks clamor for his services. Here’s one vote, then, that he stick to his knitting and keep that nascent money train on track. Staying with “Raymond” certainly worked out for Phil Rosenthal, who backed out of a lucrative overall deal at Disney to continue steering the series.
Donald Trump and Mark Burnett: A feather duster and a crescent wrench. The mega-rich are always hard to shop for, but after “The Apprentice’s” bloated finale it’s time to do some tidying up and tightening. The third edition could go a long way in determining whether the show’s future entails “Survivor”-like legs, a “Temptation Island” flameout or the kind of belated swoon experienced by “The Bachelor.”
Oh, and if there’s one more high-strung African-American villainess and boring white guy winner, I’m outta there.
Brian Williams: A set of headphones. Rest assured, as soon as evening-news ratings show any sign of fluctuation, the Chicken Littles will be out en masse. Tune out the babble, Brian. And for credibility’s sake, pray there isn’t a rash of husband-murdering-wife stories in ’05.
Christian TV watchdogs: A large pacifier. Almost no one likes the way their race, religion or even occupation is depicted on TV, but to paint Christians as persecuted media victims — comparing a majority group to Jews before the Holocaust and African Americans under Jim Crow — is patently absurd.
With all due respect to Parents Television Council chairman L. Brent Bozell, TV doesn’t “reflect reality,” unless someone kidnapped all the desperate housewives on my block. Despite the PTC’s recent study charging that Hollywood disses Christianity, in point of fact the current glut of crime drama limits every subgroup to three basic choices — cop, murderer or chalk outline.
Eva Longoria: A pair of sunglasses. A few media outlets went nuts over the Golden Globes’ predictable oversight of the sultry “Housewives” co-star, who is the youngest and least known of the bunch. Yet in the long run, Longoria’s future is so bright — well, you know the rest. The real challenge will be finding the right film offers given the dearth of meaty minority roles, before some dope suggests a prequel to “Maid in Manhattan.”
As for the alleged snub, thanks to the Globes’ significance as a potential Oscar bellwether, TV is a decided afterthought at the ball, if not quite the ugly stepsister. Should Longoria still require additional consolation, she can find a sympathetic ear at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry, that’s actually what I need.
SHERAK AND SHERAK ALIKE: Writers regularly use character names to stroke friends or seek vengeance against old boyfriends and former agents, which is why I grew suspicious when upcoming episodes of Fox’s “24” and Sci Fi’s “Battlestar Galactica” featured terrorists named, respectively, “Tomas Sherek” and “Tom Zarek.”
Those sounded suspiciously like Tom Sherak, the Revolution Studios partner and one-time Fox exec, who, last I checked, isn’t on any terror-watch lists.
Oddly enough, both shows said it’s just a weird coincidence, though “Galactica” exec producer David Eick did quip that he planned to identify a future heavy as “Barry Dillet.”
A bemused Sherak said he’s holding any calls to his lawyer, a spirit of generosity sure to be tested when Fox introduces its next reality concept, “Trading Sheraks: Meet Your New Boss.”