News of the Week: Harry Shearer, Harper Lee, and a Whole Lotta Hot Dogs

“Comeback kids” Harry Shearer and Harper Lee plus a new hot-dog champion all in this week’s pop culture roundup.

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Stefanie Mohr Photography /
Stefanie Mohr Photography /

Well, that didn’t last long. Just a couple of months after leaving The Simpsons, veteran voice artist Harry Shearer reached a deal for two more years and will be returning to the show. Sure, they could have probably found someone new to mimic the voices of Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, and Reverend Lovejoy (maybe Ted Cruz?), but it just wouldn’t have sounded quite the same.

We’d know.

‘Go Set a Watchman’

Harper Lee’s sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird will be released on Tuesday, and you can read the first chapter today at The Wall Street Journal. You can also join in a discussion of the books on the WSJ Book Club’s Facebook page.

Lee said at a private luncheon last week that she’s excited about the book’s release and always thought it would be published some day.

Am I Supposed to Like Soccer Now?


Congratulations, blah, blah, blah, women’s soccer, blah, blah, blah, etc., etc.

I don’t mean to be one of those people, but I still don’t like soccer. Hey, it’s great that the U.S. women’s team beat Japan this week for the World Cup, and it’s great that the match got terrific TV ratings, and it’s fitting that they’re getting a ticker-tape parade this morning in New York City but … I still don’t like soccer.

On Twitter I started to feel guilty reading all the tweets congratulating the team, many with more exclamation points than anyone should use when you have a limit of 140 characters. If I didn’t tweet something too, was I being a Debbie Downer? Maybe you feel the same way. I’m happy for the team, and I’m happy that other people are happy for them, but it doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly going to start watching soccer now. Sorry!

The World of Amy Schumer

Is there anyone who’s being talked about more right now than comic Amy Schumer? She was once just another comic but suddenly she’s being treated as a combination of Carol Burnett and Lenny Bruce. She has a popular show on Comedy Central called Inside Amy Schumer; she’s on the cover of Glamour; she’s causing controversy because of some of her sketches and comments; she was asked to be the new host of The Daily Show when Jon Stewart steps down but turned it down; and now she has a new movie with Bill Hader that’s getting good reviews. It’s called Trainwreck. Here’s the trailer.

One note about the movie. One of the cast members is Norman Lloyd. You might know him best as Dr. Auschlander from St. Elsewhere, or maybe as the villain who falls from the Statue of Liberty in the great 1942 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Saboteur. He turns 101 in November.


We found out this week that ESPN host Keith Olbermann was leaving the sports channel once again. Rumors were swirling the past couple of weeks that Olbermann’s contract negotiations weren’t going well because execs at the network wanted him to “tone down” his commentary during Olbermann. Who knows if that was even true (the network says it wasn’t) or if it’s the reason why he and ESPN are parting ways? The news was first reported by reporter Jim Miller on Twitter:

So what will Olbermann do now? Let the betting begin. He could easily show up on another sports program, or maybe we might even see him back at MSNBC, which he left in 2011 after hosting the news show Countdown for several years. Hey, stranger things have happened (like Olbermann going back to ESPN after leaving the first time). With MSNBC not doing too well, having Olbermann go back to where he was successful might be a good thing for both. With Olbermann and Brian Williams at the news channel, things could improve ratings-wise.

Introducing Oreo Thins!

“Thin” and “Oreos” aren’t usually words you’d see next to each other, but this week we had the debut of Oreo Thins, which is a healthier (ahem) alternative to the classic cookie we’ve all loved for over 100 years. They’re thinner than regular Oreos, and they’re healthier (ahem) because four of them have 140 calories, compared to the 160 calories of three regular Oreos. So now Oreo has a cookie for everybody: regular, regular cookies with different frosting flavors, different cookie flavors, DoubleStuf, Oreo Minis, and now Thins.

The new cookies are so thin that you can’t do something you can do with the regular ones: Split them open and lick the frosting inside. You can, but they’ll usually break. So since you’re not taking the time to separate the cookies, you’re probably just going to mindlessly gobble the thinner cookies, which means the thinness and lower calorie count won’t even matter. Though I guess you could dunk them in skim milk and feel better about it. Neil Patrick Harris likes them!

Thank you @oreo for sending me new Oreo Thins and sponsoring this evening's treat. #oreothins #delicious

A photo posted by Neil Patrick Harris (@nph) on

Oreo says the new thinner cookies are more “sophisticated.” I know I always feel more grown-up and sophisticated when I have a bunch of chocolate cookie bits all over my teeth.

National Hot Dog Month


This is the time of hot dogs, a food you can probably categorize as “unsophisticated.” Last weekend we saw a big upset at the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island. 23-year-old Matt Stonie ended Joey Chestnut’s 8-year reign by eating 62 hot dogs (with buns!) in 10 minutes. I’m getting kinda gaggy just thinking about that.

It’s also National Hot Dog Month! How can you possibly do something different in the preparation and cooking of hot dogs that hasn’t been done before? So instead of a recipe, how about taking a look at Serious Eats, where they list 13 signature drinks from various regions to pair with hot dogs? You’ve probably heard of drinking tropical drinks at Papaya King and Gray’s Papaya in New York, but in New Jersey and Virginia you could have one with some buttermilk.

I wonder if there is a Joey Hotdog somewhere, and every year he enters a chestnut-eating contest?

Upcoming Events and Anniversaries

Live Aid concerts (July 13, 1985)
This is the 30th anniversary of the two concerts held in London and Philadelphia to aid in the fight to end hunger in Ethiopia.

Bastille Day (July 14)
Officially became a national holiday in 1880 France.

Billy the Kid dies (July 14, 1881)
This site has an exhaustive amount of information on the famous outlaw, including rare photos and letters he wrote.

“Catcher in the Rye” published (July 16, 1951)
J.D. Salinger’s classic comes in at number 72 on The Guardian’s list of the 100 Best Novels of All-Time.

Disneyland opens (July 17, 1955)
SEP Archives Director Jeff Nilsson on the early days of the Disney dynasty.

Erle Stanley Gardner born (July 17, 1889)
The TV show based on Gardner’s famous character Perry Mason was on the air during the supposed “vast wasteland” of programming in 1961.

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  1. More than likely, Keith Olbermann will head over to MSNBC—-or some other sports program. The man’s amazingly entertaining just being himself.

    At some point I might try out those new Oreos. My own concocted dessert (shhh) was a hit at my 4th of July party last week: honey-cinnamon graham cracker ‘sandwiches’ with white, whipped, Betty Crocker ready-to- spread frosting. It’s decadent, not healthy, so only as an OCCASIONAL treat everyone!

    As for the 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, I have to hand it to Matt Stonie for that ‘accomplishment’ (of sorts). Wow! I’d be dead now, with nothing more to say.


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