Humans are very predictable, and aliens observing us while planning an invasion would not need much analysis to wipe us out, or at least enslave us and have us lick the boots of a power-mongering dictator (Is Obama from Mars?). A persistent behavioral element of our human construct is the Icarus syndrome, which occurs when success gathers momentum and the individual riding the updraft thinks “Just a little higher!!” until his wings melt and he crashes to Earth.
Tiger Woods is the latest poster child for this syndrome and I have chosen him as the mascot for the Mastersen Icarus Alert, which the sasoc will sound from time to time in hopes of saving souls and livelihoods.
Today’s MIA call is for the benefit of Jon Stewart, of the Daily Show, and Doug Ellin, creator of Entourage.
Both of these men are flying ever higher in their career success and are showing some signs of mania as they p-push it real good. Can either of them enjoy the ride without giving in to that last bit of megalomania that can rip it all away?
Each of their success is undeniable.
Jon Stewart failed in his late-night talk show stint (I remember Sharon Stone, in the wake of her star-making turn in Basic Instinct, sympathetically offering to ice-pick the executives who canceled his show) but bounced back with The Daily Show, widely heralded as offering better world news in its fake format than network news programs do in their un-ironic real format. Excessive praise is a hallmark of the Icarus syndrome, and Stewart has enjoyed heaps and piles of it. One of my favorite sources is the NYT columnist Frank Rich, whose extremely frequent mentions of Stewart come across collectively as one big homoerotic overture (if unrequited love is painful, I’d say Mr. Rich is in total agony about now).
Of interest with Stewart is his change from being a smart and earnest comedian to being a smart and I love the sight of my own face and sound of my own voice comedian. Yes, the Daily Show requires its host to be snide and mocking, but I submit that Stewart has at this point absorbed the schtick into his very being, and therein lies a big difference. John Wayne reportedly took on in his personal life the mannerisms of the gun-toting lawmen he portrayed in countless movie westerns, and Stewart strikes me as a guy who really thinks he’s as smart as his dozen writers make him sound and that he’s influencing national policy at the highest levels. (I know Jon, I forgot to mention the cultural zeitgeist as well, sorry). Achtung Jon! This is a Mastersen Icarus Alert for you!
Doug Ellin is the highly successful creator of Entourage, a fun show on HBO that entertains a cross section of American culture (older, younger, and everything in between). Personally, I love the show. In keeping with a format originally masterminded and executed beautifully by Gary Shandling on The Larry Sanders Show, Ellin and crew incorporate numerous Hollywood actors and sports celebrities, and even a real billionaire or two, into the fictional show each week. It’s a feel good project all around.
That is, unless you cross Ellin, and then he’ll use the show to take pot shots. For example, there was the Seth Rogen dust-up last year:
“Entourage” chewed up comic actor Seth Rogen in Monday night’s episode. Now Seth is biting back. The writers had their characters referring to Seth’s “ugliness … oddly fascinating” in a comic debate over whether Rogen could get a Katherine Heigl babe in real life. Rogen fired back to E!s Daily 10: “Yeah … I actually ran into Matt … Kevin Dillon in a Starbucks. And he’s like ‘You know, I’ve got to kind of apologize because apparently the guy who created our show doesn’t like you so much.’ “
Apparently Rogen admitted to making some “disparaging comments about the show,” but Ellin, a man with such towering success, need not have lashed out in such a petty way.
Another warning sign for Ellin was his interview with Dan Patrick earlier this year, in which he informed Dan that a promise made by Jerry Ferrara, one of the show’s stars, need not be honored by Ellin because Ferrarra was merely “Chris Chambliss” to Ellin’s “George Steinbrenner.” The air is gettin’ thin….. Achtung Doug! This is a Mastersen Icarus Alert for you!
What does this mean? It means that both of these gentlemen are starting to get the bends, and if they push a bit more, they may nuke themselves with a WMD (Woods Melt Down). With luck, the sasoc can save them.
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