Talking Turkey

Time again to honor the best in Houston

The Alamo cost $100 million to make. It brought in well over $22 million at the box office, although not more than $23 million.

Some movies released this year that outperformed The Alamo: the equally bloated and unseen Around the World in 80 Days; the indie Napoleon Dynamite, whose $400,000 budget probably equaled what The Alamo spent on bagels; and -- this is really salt in the wound -- even a Ben Affleck film. It's true: More moviegoers wanted to see Jersey Girl than The Alamo.

On the other hand, The Alamo did outperform The Yu-Gi-Oh Movie, if just barely. And it also nosed out NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience.

About the only good thing that can be said about The Alamo is that it embarrassed Texas Monthly. People who don't fawn over George W. Bush would tell you that it takes some doing to accomplish that these days, but The Alamo managed to do the trick. Quaid and Billy Bob Thornton, in historical garb, were featured on a December cover that promised Exclusive! looks behind the scenes of the movie TM assumed everyone was dying to see.

The film eventually hit theaters in April. Not so's you'd notice, though. Sports Turkey: Drayton McLane

Yes, we realize that the Houston Astros actually won a playoff series this year. It was the feel-good baseball story of the year, unless you were part of the 95 percent of America who doesn't give a flip about the Astros.

Enjoy it while you can, folks. Things are about to get dismal in Astro-land, where owner Drayton McLane has decided he's had enough of so-called baseball experts and is going to take matters into his own hands.

Shortly after the season ended, McLane ran off general manager Gerry Hunsicker, who said he "wanted to spend more time with [his] family." Here's an SAT question: Hunsicker's "more family time" means: a) getting pushed out the door; b) finally having enough of his tightwad, Bible-thumping boss; c) knowing there's got to be a better job somewhere; or d) all of the above.

McLane dropping Hunsicker is like Hollywood deciding to go ahead and do that Meatballs sequel without Bill Murray -- only bad things can ensue.

Hunsicker's the one who worked magic under Drayton's arbitrary salary cap; Drayton's the one who decided to keep Craig Biggio for next year. Hunsicker is a forthright guy who stood up for Astros front-office employees; Drayton's the one henpecking those employees with his tired "Be a Champion" shtick, his Scrooge-like managerial style and all the great ideas that come from a lifetime of not giving a crap about baseball until he bought the team 12 years ago.

Now that he has the place to himself, now that he's our version of the Yankees' George Steinbrenner (a tightwad version, of course), we are entering a dark period of Astros history.

And given how un-bright Astros history has been up till now, that could be very dark indeed.

Turkey Actress: Kelly Siegler

Kelly Siegler may look like a Harris County prosecutor, but she's really the Meryl Streep of the courtroom. Actually, given the sleazy direct-to-video thriller feel of her performances, she's more the Karen Black of the courtroom.

If you ever need a prosecutor to bring in a bed, tie a colleague to it and pretend to stab him countless times, Siegler's your gal. If you need a prosecutor to roll around on a table or on the floor to dramatize events, call Kelly.

If you need someone to respect the intelligence of juries and simply present evidence without trying to be the new Matlock, well, you're probably better off calling someone else.

While the bed-stabbing re-creation got the most attention this year, we prefer another Siegler performance, one that showed a softer, non-stabbing side.

It was the trial of a preacher accused of sexually assaulting a woman he was counseling. Instead of simply having the woman testify -- borrr-ingggg -- Siegler played the part of the woman, with a fellow prosecutor in a supporting role as the accused.

The transcript reads like a bad phone-sex call.

"Where would you be positioned? Just like this? This close?" Siegler asked the woman while she stood oh-so-close to her co-star. "Now say out loud for the record -- what did he do with his hands?"

"He just moved his hands down, right in between my legs," the woman testified. And, as visitors in the courtroom all moved to the edge of their seats, Siegler's well-rehearsed co-star moved his hands…only slightly below Siegler's waist.

They went all PG-13 on us! Damn! We guess they save the R-rated stuff for stabbings.

In a move as unsurprising as it is depressing, Hollywood has expressed interest in creating a television series based on Siegler's exploits.

And the wheels of justice roll on -- Houston-style.

Turkey Relative: Neil Bush

Space does not permit us to wallow long in the glory of Houston's Neil Bush, son of one president and brother of another.

We don't have the room that The Washington Post did for its story, which included this: "Ah, it's nice to be Neil Bush, who seems to be living the lifestyle immortalized in those famous Dire Straits lyrics: 'Money for nothing and chicks for free.' "

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