“SECOND PRIZE IS A SET OF STEAK KNIVES”: Probably because I’m being driven completely insane by covering Idol this season, one of the rare highlights of the show for me is Wednesday’ night’s weekly Ford commercial/music video, starring the remaining Idols. Because I know it’s put together with lightning speed in the hectic period between the last elimination episode and the following performance show, it’s interesting to see what the harassed production team and the exhausted Idols have been able to pull off without the luxury of time. Which is sort of pathetic, I know, but I need something to get me through this horrible ordeal until the final episode in May puts me out of my misery.
I perked up yesterday when I read an Associated Press story that playwright and director David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, Wag The Dog, The Unit) had been hired to direct a series of Ford commercials set to debut during Tuesday night’s Idol performance show. The ads feature two men sitting in their Ford Edge crossover vehicles (a car that looks like an SUV but is built on a conventional chassis), comparing their rides to the more luxurious BMW X-5 and Lexus RX-350. Ad writers at J. Walter Thompson, Ford’s agency, worked hard to duplicate Mamet’s trademark “sparse, choppy dialogue,” and Mamet apparently didn’t change a word.
For those not familiar with the sound of Mamet’s work, just watch any random two minutes of the 1992 film of Glengarry Glen Ross to get the general flavour – it’s the sound of people beating each other up without lifting a finger. Mamet himself said that the roots of his dialogue lie in his dysfunctional family life as a kid: “In my family,” he told Playboy magazine, “in the days prior to television, we liked to while away the evenings by making ourselves miserable, based solely on our ability to speak the language viciously. That's probably where my ability was honed.”
Because – as I said before – I’m becoming increasingly irritable and unbalanced by covering Idol, I couldn’t help but wonder why Mamet wasn’t hired to direct the Wednesday night musical spots, and just what they’d be like. Based on the likelihood that the tension between the remaining Idols is running higher every week, and reports that Sanjaya is resented in particular by his colleagues, I imagined a spot set in the Idol green room, beginning with a close-up on Blake Lewis as he nervously beat-boxes while waiting to go on, unaware of what he’s doing. From behind him on the couch, Phil slouches under his hat and quietly but menacingly threatens to create a new orifice for him to “pop your f**king beats out of.”
He adds that he doesn’t like to make a big deal out of the whole military thing, “but it’s, you know, possible. Like it’s part of my skill set.” Jordin mutters that she wishes they’d do it, that things aren’t moving fast enough, and Sanjaya is about to speak when LaKisha silences him with a hiss, shaking her finger in front of his face. “Enough. What did I tell you last time?” Sanjaya looks away awkwardly, while the rest of the room goes silent. After a moment Jordin mutters “Damn.” Fade to black. Ford logo.