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June 23, 2003

A Green Giant and a Beach Blanket Bummer

By Howard Rosenberg

American Idiots

It's inspiring to see the big screen embrace those who achieved their biggest fame on little old television. Ang Lee's "Hulk" and "From Justin to Kelly" both arrived in theaters Friday.

According to most accounts, the latter is scarier than the former.

"Hulk" is moviedom's version of a comic-book green giant who became "The Incredible Hulk" on CBS from 1979 to 1982, with average-sized Bill Bixby ballooning into panoramic Lou Ferrigno whenever he got teed off.

Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini are those singing "American Idol" kids, a pair of new-millennium icons whose quickie stardom on Fox gave "clean cut" a questionable name and led to this instant movie meant to capitalize on their popularity with the young crowd, before they flame out. It's being sold in ads promising "the musical event of the summer!"

Which tells you something about this summer.

To say nothing of the dumb-and-dumber descent of the television era that generated these two beach balls who make Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello look like movie-musical Titans.

"Everyone knows we did it in six weeks," Clarkson told Fox News Channel on Friday, sounding almost giddy beside Guarini, whom she edged out in last year's "American Idol" competition. She disagreed that it was a bad omen when the movie was withheld from critics so they couldn't write about it prior to its release.

"We didn't to it for the critics," she said of their movie. "We did it for the fans."
If trailers for a beachfront production number are an indication, she means fans of camp.

Of course, it gets only worse. Hoping to expand the audience-friendly creative void of "American Idol" into a whopper franchise pinpointing all younger age groups (Guarini is 23, Clarkson 21), Fox earlier this month spun off "American Juniors," pitting still-younger performers, and their parents, against each other. And, yikes, its ratings were also impressive.

What follows on this assembly line of look-alikes? "American Infant," with participants wowing the judges, viewers and host Ryan Seacrest by dirtying diapers to pop music? Or perhaps "American Fetus," if Fox can work out the ultrasound.

01/09/2014 22:00:59
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