Comedy gun locked and loaded, Christopher Guest's aim is normally precise and lethal. In "Best in Show," for example, the world of dog competitions takes a bullet of hilarity right in the temple.
Funny, then, that Guest's latest film, "For Your Consideration," is arguably more scattershot compared with "Show" and "Waiting for Guffman," his take on small-town amateur theater. Everything from its title to its trailer implied it would be an indictment of filmdom's ravenous Oscar campaigning, but what really gets the ruthless Guestian treatment is the television industry that covers it.
Here's the real-life genetic makeup of the fictional TV characters in "For Your Consideration":
* Nancy O'Dell ("Access Hollywood") plus Mary Hart ("Entertainment Tonight") equals Jane Lynch as Cindy Martin; John Tesh ("ET") plus Mark McGrath ("Extra") plus David Beckham's hair equals Fred Willard as Chuck Porter
You see them if you turn on the TV a shade early for the evening news: those swaggery entertainment-news anchors, groomed and shellacked, finishing up a half-hour of celebrity worship. In "For Your Consideration," Lynch meshes O'Dell's severe poses and Hart's winky-wink delivery; Willard wears a sunburned, stony-wrinkled face underneath an age-inappropriate fauxhawk.
The result: "Hollywood Now," a loud, pink burst of infotainment in which Willard and Lynch rev the engine of the Hollywood buzz machine. They play two shameless anchors who hound the cast of "Home for Purim," the film within the film, using an actual "Access Hollywood" set and a lot of boorishness.
"That was my own hair," Willard says of his copper swoop. "I sat in that chair for five hours. They cut and cut, brought in some expert hair guy from outside, bleached it and I said, 'Oh, my God, this is very extreme.' "
"Mary Hart is a classy dame," Lynch says. "Nancy O'Dell's stance is more military and I went more that way. They have this bombastic style of delivering the information."
* Ebert and Roeper plus Carlson and Begala equals Don Lake and Michael Hitchcock as Ben Lilly and David van Zyverden
Lake and Hitchcock play good critic and bad critic on a fictional movie review show called "Love It/Hate It," a takeoff on confrontation-style news programs that substitute finger-wagging debate for actual news. What matters aren't the merits of the movie under discussion but the degree of apoplexy to which each critic can rile himself:
"What a roller-coaster ride!"
"It's about time nothing happened in a film."
* Jimmy Kimmel plus Carson Daly equals Craig Bierko as Talk Show Host.
As the doofus behind a desk, Bierko interviews Catherine O'Hara's newly Botoxed character, Marilyn Hack, with unearned smugness.
* Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa of "Live With Regis & Kelly" equals Scott Williamson and Sarah Shahi as Skip and Sanchez of "Wake Up, L.A."
As flighty morning show hosts, Williamson and Shahi prod O'Hara with off-topic observations while laughing at a joke only they seem to hear.
* Charlie Rose equals Mark Harelik as the Round Table Host.
How does Harelik parody Rose? By sitting in front of a black backdrop and embroidering his questions to infinity. He never lets the screenwriters of "Home for Purim" (Michael McKean and Bob Balaban) get a word in.
* "Total Request Live" plus "On Air With Ryan Seacrest" equals "Chillaxin' "
Rick Gonzalez plays the hip VJ who invites veteran character actor Victor Allan Miller (Harry Shearer) to bump and grind between two hussies to flog his new movie to the teenage set.