Hollywood Grapevine

SHOWBIZ BUZZ AND CELEBRITY SCOOP

B Y   M A R K   S C H W E D

July 21, 1997
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Remember Pee-wee's Playhouse, the brilliant Saturday-morning kids' show, and its star, Paul Reubens, who would likely still be winning Emmys had he not been caught in an X-rated movie theater? Well, CBS is trying to re-create the magic September 13 with The Weird Al Show, starring Weird Al Yankovic, who, à la Reubens, has a cool set and cool visitors like Teri Garr and Dweezil Zappa. "It's very similar to [Reubens's] show," Zappa tells me. "Al lives in a cave with many toys and ridiculous things adorning the walls." Yankovic even has a sidekick: Harvey the Wonder Hamster, who loves chocolate lasagna.

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FALL 1997 FALL PREVIEW

Fall 1997
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The Weird Al Show (CBS, Saturdays at 11:30 A.M.) "Weird Al" Yankovic, writer and performer of pop-song parodies like "Amish Paradise" and "Eat It," hosts a wacky variety show that includes skits, animated shorts, and, of course, musical numbers. Think Pee-wee's Playhouse with a warped jukebox.

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THE FAMILY PAGE

B Y   D A V I D  H I L T B R A N D

LET'S PLAYHOUSE

February 2, 1998
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Tune in to the beginning of The Weird Al Al Yankovic Show (CBS, Saturdays, 11:30 A.M./ET) and you may think you've stumbled on to something wonderful. The opening sequence and theme music for this program, starring kooky song parodist Weird Al Yankovic, explain, in a compressed, chaotic and comical fashion using computer effects and three kinds of animation, how Yankovic got his own TV series. (His zippy saga even includes a stint on a tater-tot farm.) As prologues go, this is boffo. Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there.

Essentially, the show is a threadbare, claustrophobic imitation of CBS's classic Pee-wee's Playhouse. Weird Al lives in a gaudy cave filled with strange gadgets and tacky furnishings. A circle of eccentric friends visits regularly, most notably the Hooded Avenger, an earnest crime fighter who is Al's next-door neighbor. To entertain his guests, our host will often turn on Al TV and flip through channels that spoof kids' shows, sitcoms and commercials. Once in a while at the close of the half hour, a band like Hanson, Barenaked Ladies or All-4-One will drop by unannounced and perform a song. (Jenny McCarthy's brief comedy show for MTV used the same device to try to put a spark in a similarly lame showcase.)

With his home-perm hair, loud tropical shirts, querulous voice and anything-for-a-laugh attitude, Yankovic brings a lot of energy to the screen. But it's more tiresome than infectious. In the series' debut back in September, a visitor (Kevin Weisman) asked, "What do you do for fun on this show?" Five months later, Yankovic has yet to come up with an answer.

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