It’s time for the second installment Impact People of the Quarter (IPQs).
Six impact IPQs are selected every three months (by me, of course — this blog is not a democracy) for their contributions to the same categories that define this blog’s Pop Culture Hall of Fame: politics, sports, music, film, television and culture in general.
My picks for the second three months of ’09:
POLITICS: Democrat Nancy Pelosi is not one of those people who appeal to any middle-of-the-roaders. From a Republican standpoint, the Speaker of the House is some sort of the Wicked Witch of the West, the target of venom-like remarks about her alleged Botox and plastic surgery procedures. For the Democrats, she is viewed as a front-line warrior and someone who takes some of the heat off Barack Obama.
SPORTS: His name is Stephen Strasburg, and he’s about to become a very rich young man. He was the No. 1 pick in the recent Major League Baseball draft, a pitcher from San Diego State who can throw a baseball 102 mph. He will receive the largest signing bonus in draft history, probably something around $50 million. That, folks, is making an impact.
MUSIC: It would be hard to find someone in the last three months who has dominated conversation as much as Adam Lambert when it comes to music. The “American Idol” runner-up was a hot topic from the moment he appeared on the nation’s top-rated television show, and to say things heated up again following his “coming out” article in Rolling Stone magazine would probably be an understatement.
FILM: You have to hand it those “Star Trek” guys — J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof. Abrams directed and was a co-producer with Lindelof. The latest “Star Trek” release remains a strong top 10 box office smash six weeks after its release. I enjoyed the original TV show when I was a kid, but was never able to sink my teeth into the movies. Whenever I think about a Star Trek film, my first thought is of the late Ricardo Montalban as that goofy Khan character in one of the early efforts of the series. Remember the crazy wig he wore for that role? This particular movie franchise has an audience that knows no age limit and those in charge milk it for all it’s worth.
TELEVISION: The hottest topic in recent weeks has been Conan O’Brien’s following Jay Leno as host of The Tonight Show. Ratings for O’Brien have fallen more than 40 percent from his first week. I applaud America for turning him off. He’s terrible. He’s not funny. He’s the human equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. What was NBC thinking? O’Brien was barely beating Craig Ferguson (host of “The Late, Late Show” on CBS) in the ratings in his previous gig. I have a better chance of being Mick Jagger’s successor with the Rolling Stones than Conan O’Brien does of being embraced as America’s favorite late night TV host.
CULTURE: We owe a lot to Simon Cowell, the central figure behind the “American Idol” phenomenon.” It’s what America talks about the morning after and it’s been the No. 1 show on television longer than I’ve been confused with being Brad Pitt’s twin brother. “It” is “American Idol,” the Fox talent series other networks not so politely refer to as “The Death Star.” It was still commanding more than $700,000 per 30-second commercial when other shows were giving away air time during the hardest months of the recession back in January, February and March. “American Idol” is a once-in-a-generation phenomenon, and I’m glad it came along in my generation. Thanks, Simon.