Ernest Lehman is Dead, Yet Gregory Poirier Walks the Streets a Free Man

on May 01, 2008 by Steve Simels

Sometime in the dim, dark past -- actually, the fall of 1993 -- I found myself in a comedy club watching a performance by one of my heros, the late great Bill Hicks (for my money, the last American comic who might be said to have been inhabited by genius, but that's a subject for another blogpost). It was a strange moment in pop culture history -- the season, you may recall, when just about every sentient mammal in America had or was about to get their own talk show. Apparently, without anybody noticing, some kind of law had been passed somewhere authorizing (hell, requiring) every Z-list celebrity annoyance to host an hour-long syndicated gabfest. I'm not kidding about this; at that very moment, some producer had just marketed a show for Danny Bonaduce, the kid from the Partridge Family whose main claim to fame was that he'd beat up on a hooker after discovering she was a transvestite. (Earth to Danny: At a moment like that, the correct response is to echo Joe E. Brown in Some Like It Hot and simply say "Nobody's perfect." But I digress.)

In any case, Hicks (who was dying of cancer at the time, although nobody in the audience, myself included, had any idea) came out on stage that evening apparently somewhat bemused by the phenomenon. "I'd just like to announce that I'm getting my own talk show," he said. "It's going to be called 'Let's Hunt Down and Kill Billy Ray Cyrus'." This got a pretty big laugh at the time, since Cyrus was at the peak of his post-"Achy Breaky Heart" celeb infamy (although in retrospect, it struck me as a bit of a cheap shot; Cyrus, after all, had appeared at the Country Music Awards wearing an AIDS pin, which was a fairly courageous thing to do in a deeply conservative town like Nashville). More recently, of course, I've begun to wonder if Hicks wasn't on to something. After all, had we taken the show's titular advice to heart, we wouldn't be worrying this week about whether those Annie Liebowitz photos of his Hannah Montana hellspawn have gone too far.

In any case, the joke has stayed with me, and the other day I had an odd flash: Is there anybody currently working in the movies who might deserve to be hunted down and killed -- strictly metaphorically, of course -- on network television?

Submitted for your approval: Gregory Poirier.

Okay, I know what you're thinking -- this guy had nothing to do with Transformers or the Michael Douglas remake of The In-Laws or even The Hottie and the Nottie. True enough, and for that, the thanks of a grateful nation. Nevertheless, the guy did write (and direct) the most reprehensible film of the 21st century to date, the 2001 Jerry O'Connell vehicle Tomcats.

In case you haven't seen it, this is a purported comedy in which a surgeon first removes a major character's cancerous testicle and then (after wacky complications ensue) winds up eating it over coffee.

There are other, shall we say, problems with the film -- frankly, I may never recover from the sight of a Speedo-clad Jake Busey spanking himself -- but let me say this again, both in sorrow and in anger: Writer/director Poirier was willing to give a character testicular cancer -- testicular cancer! -- for no other reason than to set up a dumb sight gag. I understand, of course, that we all currently inhabit a post-Farrelly Brothers world, but really. Some things are just unforgiveable, and this is one of them.

So -- does this mean that we need to (je repete, strictly metaphorically) hunt the guy down like Joel McCrea in The Most Dangerous Game? Well, in 2007, Poirier was in part responsible for the script of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, an epic that is to intelligent action films what Shakin' Stevens is to rock 'n' roll. And as we speak he is currently toiling on the forthcoming Swiss Family Robinson remake, so you tell me.

But if not, some more advice from Bill Hicks may be relevant.

"By the way...if anybody here is in advertising or maketing, kill yourself.

No, no, no, it's just a little thought. I'm trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they'll take root -- I don't know. You try, you do what you can.

Kill yourself.

Seriously, though -- if you are, do."

Tags: Some Like It Hot, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Jerry O'Connell

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