Looking back, looking forward

(The following are the proceedings of a press conference held January 1, 2004, in my living room. Transcription courtesy of the National Association of Transcribers of Fictitious Events.)

SPOKESMAN: Mr. Dauber will be taking questions from all of you; he's only asking for no flash photography, since he's just sat through the entire "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the extended version, and his eyes are still a little light sensitive. Oh, and no questions about the canoodling with Britney, okay? Then we can get started.

DAUBER: Happy new year, ladies and gentlemen. What can I do for you today? Yes, Rita.

RITA: Thank you. What do you think was the most overrated media event of 2003?

DAUBER: It would have to be a toss-up for either the ink spilled about Demi and Ashton or the ink spilled about Ben and Jennifer. They're celebrities, they're dating, we should try to move on. Well, it could also have been almost all of the "event" movies of the summer: the sequels to "Tomb Raider" and "Charlie's Angels" come to mind, but there was also the "Hulk," the final nail in the coffin that was once a great movie called "The Matrix." You know, there was a lot of overrated stuff in 2003.

RITA: Follow-up?

DAUBER: Go ahead.

RITA: The least overrated event?

DAUBER: Anyone who says that seeing Saddam Hussein as an American prisoner on CNN is anything less than remarkable has something deeply wrong with them. That's more than a media event, of course, but it's also a media event. Yes.

MATTHEW: What was the best movie in America last year that no one saw?

DAUBER: I'm not sure how many people saw "Spellbound" or "Capturing the Friedmans" or "The Fog of War" -- it's hard for documentaries to get the play in local cinemas that they deserve - but I'll make it a three-way tie.

SHEILA: The best movie in America that everyone saw?

DAUBER: Look, everyone knows it's "Return of the King." But let's just remind ourselves that "School of Rock" was remarkably entertaining, too.

LARRY: Couldn't you have found a better way to deliver these opinions without resorting to the mildly odd and, let's face it, a bit sad method of making up a fake press conference?

DAUBER: I'm not going to comment on that. Next question.

REBECCA: This is a two-parter. Did anything come out on television that you see as the next "Friends" or "Law and Order," and if so, what would you tell the creators of those shows?

DAUBER: I'm glad you asked that question. I think that both "The OC" and "Arrested Development" have the energy, the cast, and the writing to become great shows, and possibly long-lasting ones - I assume that's what you meant by the Friends and Law and Order reference. But I think they're both in danger of burning through all their plots and ideas pretty quickly and falling back on repetition, given, in some ways, how narrow their settings are. I hope I'm wrong and I'm certainly praying I am - right now, that's about the most sheerly entertaining ninety minutes on television - but you get worried.

ARTHUR: Do you have any new year's entertainment resolutions?

DAUBER: I'm going to try out more reality television. I was kind of hoping that it would be a passing annoyance, like the XFL or bad Chinese food, but it looks like it's here to stay. "The Simple Life" had its moments, and "The Apprentice," which I haven't yet seen, looks like it might be good. So I'll report back.

LANA: Do you have any regrets about your previous columns?

DAUBER: Well, I would like to say that one of my readers, Katie, turned me on to fametracker.com, which I didn't know about before I wrote the fourth banana column, and which is a great site. I probably would have used that had I known about it. Thanks, Katie.

MICHAEL: Who is the person in the industry you'd like to see working now?

DAUBER: Billy Wilder. But you probably mean people who are alive. I hope that Stephen King will reconsider his decision to retire and write more non-Dark Tower books. And I'd like to finally see Denis Leary get a leading role in a major film or television show that's a) worthy of his vitriol and b) stays around for a decent length of time, unlike the late and lamented "The Job." It would be great to see Garry Shandling do something else ... I'll have to think more about that. It might be worth a column of its own.

ISABELLE: What's the saddest trend you've seen recently in the entertainment world?

DAUBER: Hmm ... I'm not sure if it's the saddest, but certainly seeing great comic actors slum it in family movies which are insults to their talents comes close. Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Steve Martin - when you compare "48 Hrs.," "Austin Powers," and "The Jerk" to "Haunted Mansion," "Cat in the Hat," and "Cheaper by the Dozen," I think that something inside you dies a little.

BRETT: Is there any truth to the rumors that you and P.Diddy will be entering the studio to record together?

DAUBER: My agent has told me not to comment on that.

TIFFANY: And those sightings of you and Britney

DAUBER: I thought the ground rules were quite clear. This press conference is over. Thank you all very much.

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