FX takes a late night shot with lippy, trippy Russell Brand
PASADENA, Calif. -- Forever and a day ago, the annual winter Television Critics Association "press tour" began with a gentle discourse on cooking by PBS celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich, who once made Pope Benedict XVI eat his soup.
It ended early Sunday afternoon with the wild-eyed musings of Britisher Russell Brand, who will be shepherding the FX network into the late night arena with Strangely Uplifting.
"I'm not from here, am I?" he asked rhetorically. "I'm English. So it's like the perspective of an alien to understand this peculiar time, this peculiar country. I think it's a bit like Mork (from the old ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy). He had to understand he was an extraterrestrial. He was trying, I think, to get a green card. And essentially that's what I'm doing."
It's all due to dawn in April, with a six-episode run for starters. Brand obviously intends to make the show his own. Of that we can be certain.
"It's about authenticity," he said about the riffs he intends to deliver on anything that comes to mind. "We live in a time where we're stupefied by plasticity. Where we have this toxic sequined wave of vapid culture polluting our minds, denigrating our consciousness, distracting us and removing us from our spirituality. So gossip-based stories would have less value, other than in an analytical context. I don't want to further celebrate the overly elaborate brittle plastic structures of nonsense that are constantly fired into our minds."
That apparently would include his recent split from wife/pop star Katy Perry. Or as Brand assessed things, "If I had done something actually newsworthy in some bizarre world, then I would cover it. But if it was just more lacquered nonsense designed to distract us from truth, then I would wisely ignore it."
FX says Brand will delve into politics among other things. Well, he might, although "I don't know much about them," he said when asked by locatetv.com to assess the current Republican presidential candidate field.
He did weigh in a bit on frontrunner Mitt Romney, describing him as "so rich that . . . other billionaires to him would seem like Dickensian street urchins eating gruel with fingerless gloves."
Not that it makes any real difference. In Brand's world view, "we don't believe any more that Mitt Romney or Barack Obama would make any difference at all . . . The whole thing is an illusion.
"So I'm not going to fill my head with data about Mitt Romney or the one whose surname sounds like 'sanitorium.' (Rick Santorum). Because they are part of a meaningless spectacle. It's like describing individual termites. He's just a mound of meaningless nonsense, and it's time for us to disregard it. We know this."
But Brand later worked Republican candidate Newt Gingrich -- "a ludicrously amphibious bizarre name for anyone to have" -- into one of his free-form connecting flights.
"He attacked Mitt Romney because he talked some French. He said that makes him elitist and like a bit of a 'whoopsie.' Like he was sort of speaking French in a boudoir, in a homoerotic fashion. This is so extraordinary to me, that someone would be criticized for that . . . It's vacuous. It's nonsense. It's a sort of pink gas being fired into our eyes. I consider contemporary culture to be like sort of a pink pony trotting through the world (defecating) glitter into our minds."
After the session, Brand noted that "I have a tendency to fly off. I'm tangential. I'm also narcissistic."
Even so, let him entertain you. The overall aim of his show is "for people to feel better than they do now. That's all I want, is to make people laugh and to make people happy. And as long as I stay in alignment with that, then I'm served by great forces."