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Tuned In: The trophies don't matter -- MTV awards show entertains

Thursday, June 08, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Unlike the Oscars and Grammys, you don't watch the MTV Movie Awards for the awards. You watch for the show.

Tonight at 9, MTV airs the annual awards show that's more entertaining than its more prominent, long-lived and simply longer counterparts that air on the broadcast networks.

This year's MTV Movie Awards features the typical amount of crudeness you'd expect from the cable channel. The movie parodies aren't as clever as in past years, but even slightly diminished, the MTV Movie Awards is a fun way to spend two hours.

Sarah Jessica Parker hosts this year, so naturally the evening begins with a filmed bit of Parker playing her "Sex and the City" character, who gets sucked into "The Matrix," where she encounters Keanu Reeves, played by "Saturday Night Live" star Jimmy Fallon.

Throughout the sketch, Parker alternates between the world of "The Matrix" and a coffee klatch conversation with her "Sex" co-stars, who all want to know if she slept with Keanu.

Better parodies come later in the broadcast, including an overly long sketch about Tom Cruise's body double, Tom Crooze (Ben Stiller). There's also a short and sweet spoof of awards show jokewriter Bruce Vilanch (he's also on "Hollywood Squares"). The character, played to giddy excess by David Cross (of HBO's "Mr. Show"), is called Bryce, but it's clearly based on Bruce.

"South Park" fans take note: The kids find themselves fighting against Russell Crowe's "Gladiator" in an inspired animated short.

Disappointingly, presenter Mark Wahlberg brings a political cause with him to the podium when handing out the award for best villain: "Let's give it to Charlton Heston for being the head of the NRA." I'm no NRA fan, but political statements are tiresome enough at the Oscars; we don't need them on MTV.

Since this is an MTV awards show, all the presenters and most of the winners are pretty young things. Don't tune in expecting to see Jodie Foster, Susan Sarandon or Warren Beatty. But for those who want confirmation of the rumor that Sarah Michelle Gellar is dating Freddie Prinze Jr., they'll find it here.

I started this column saying the awards don't really matter on the MTV Movie Awards, evidenced by MTV sending out a press release earlier this week naming the winners. But I won't spoil them for you, except to express gratitude that "South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut" got its due, winning for one of the brilliantly profane tunes in last year's best musical.

"I want to thank MTV and all the viewers for not even nominating Phil Collins," said "South Park" co-creator Trey Parker, still smarting over his Oscar loss to Collins (Disney's "Tarzan").

Parker's a sore loser (even though he's right -- "South Park" deserved the Oscar), but the awards show remains a winner.

LATEST "REAL WORLD": This year's crop of "Real World" kids makes a good first impression. They're a lot less odious than last summer's horny Hawaii cast.

The ninth installment of MTV's annual reality series premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. with a one-hour introduction to the cast and the New Orleans mansion where they'll live.

As always, the house is populated by types -- the conservative girl (this time a Mormon), the gay guy (this time dating a guy in the military), the wild girl (although this one doesn't seem to be an alcoholic) -- but already, in the first episode, the New Orleans crew has greater depth. So far, no one is strident. Instead of screaming, they have discussions.

Not to worry. Previews of upcoming episodes show there will be plenty of drama, but it's possible to have conflict without hating everyone in "The Real World."

With CBS's "Survivor" on the air, "The Real World" seems almost quaint in its lack of rat-eating simplicity. If this year's crew maintains its initial cordiality, they might just be the most functional and easy-to-like cast since the London edition.

MORE "FARSCAPE": Sci-Fi Channel has renewed its hit series "Farscape" for a third season of 22 episodes. Currently in its second season, "Farscape" moves to 9 p.m. Friday with new episodes beginning June 16.

GONE AND FORGOTTEN: In a recent conference call with TV writers, ABC Entertainment Group co-chair Stu Bloomberg said the network has no plans to broadcast unaired episodes of failed series from this past season during the summer rerun doldrums.

Too bad. ABC spent millions producing episodes of "Wonderland," "Wasteland" and "Snoops" that viewers will never get to see.

Granted, "Wasteland" was awful, but "Snoops" had begun to improve and never got a chance to find itself (plus, we never got to see the episode where Paula Marshall's character was killed). Worst of all, viewers won't get the opportunity to see further episodes of the dark, complex "Wonderland."

Instead, viewers will see original episodes of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," except in the last week of June and the first week of July when the first seven episodes from last August will be rerun.

REBROADCASTS: WCWB has gotten permission from The WB to air the two programs pre-empted Monday night after a power outage knocked the station off the air for more than an hour.

"Roswell" will air at 11 p.m. Saturday. "7th Heaven" will air at 10 p.m. Sunday.

How could the station get the rights to air these repeats when it couldn't air the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" season finale, which was also partially pre-empted? It's all a matter of proportion.

The station was off the air for only approximately a quarter of the "Buffy" episode. More than 50 percent of "7th Heaven" and "Roswell" didn't air, so The WB affiliate can broadcast the episodes again without triggering residual payments to the shows' casts and crews.

Rob Owen can be reached at 412-263-2582 or rowen@post-gazette.com. Post questions or comments about TV to www.post-gazette.com/tv under PG Online Talk.

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