Entertainment Weekly's
Tortuous Sentence Structuring

This page may seem to be an exercise in silliness, but EW's corporate writing style is so twisted and labyrinthine, no human can follow one sentence from beginning to end. Each article may have its own byline, but I imagine EW writers growing in pods, replacing humans with unholy clones, as in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. How else do you explain this total uniformity of style? I can imagine the EW Style Guide: You might think they were writing copy for matchbook covers, or Cracker Jack prizes, the way they compact so many ideas into such little space. Presented below are the most tortuous single sentences offered weekly by EW...
I have singled out Lisa Schwarzbaum a couple of times in the selections below. I will try to spread my scorn around so all EW writers receive the roasting they deserve.

EW 713 | June 6, 2003 | Movie review by Lisa Schwarzbaum
"There is little to analyze about about Gallo's staggeringly self-absorbed road-trip fantasy, during which a dull guy (Gallo, oui) drives cross-country to forget the pain of a lost love and finally--the many who bolted the screening must not have known this was the reward for sticking around--demands and gets hardcore oral sex from that same love, played (if played is the right word) by Chlo Sevigny."
NOTE: Schwarzbaum's masterpiece.

EW 712 | May 30, 2003 | Movie review by Owen Gleiberman
"The bandmates, plumpish, bespectacled John Flansburgh (guitar) and lank-haired John Linnell (accordion and keyboards), are Ur-ironic geeks who springboarded off the faux-naf ditty rock of Jonathan Richman to do some infectious ditties of their own (like the single "Don't Let's Start")."
NOTE: Encapsulating a music style as "faux-naf ditty rock" is classic EW writing.

EW 708 | May 2, 2003 | Television Review by Ken Tucker
"As the walking, talking, young-demo-grabbing subplot necessary to keep some viewers tuned in to ripped-from-tomorrow's-terrorism plots and Kiefer Sutherland's macho lockjaw, Jack Bauer's daughter lives out the scripted-drama version of When Animals Attack."
NOTE: Shorter than most, but still deliciously convoluted.

EW 706/707 | April 25, 2003 | Profile by Tim Carvell
"He's been working especially hard lately; this year, in addition to House (where his nasal delivery of the line "You got me straight trippin', boo," uh, brought down the house), Levy has roles in a pair of summer sequels-- When Harry Met Lloyd: Dumb and Dumberer (opening June 13) and American Wedding, the third American Pie movie (Aug. 1)--and one de facto sequel, the just-released A Mighty Wind, the latest mock-documentary from director Christopher Guest."
NOTE: I think the phrase "the third American Pie movie" modifies both American Wedding and When Harry Met Lloyd, but I'm not sure-- trying to edit these sentences gives me a headache.

EW 705 | April 18, 2003 | Movie review by Lisa Schwarzbaum
"An underappreciated underling at a New York company where he designs knitted clothing for fat cats--literally, for large kitties--he's on a business trip, wedged next to an insufferably boorish fellow flier, when his old life ends and a new one is forced upon him: Mild-mannered Dave is preposterously accused of assaulting a flight attendant and finds himself inexplicably sentenced (by Lynne Thigpen, compacting every imperious-black-woman-judge act on TV into one perfect glower in her last role) to a court-ordered term of attitude-adjustment therapy."

EW 704 | April 11, 2003 | Video review by Michael Sauter
"At an epic 11 hours--nearly twice what was seen on ABC--it's a chronological assemblage of interviews, concert footage, news stories, and home movies, exhaustively documenting the Fab Four's rise from Liverpool youths to struggling club band to global pop phenomenon to world changers on the brink of implosion."

EW 703 | April 4, 2003 | Awards review by Daniel Fierman
"Take Adrien Brody, who kicked off the shocking string of awards for The Pianist (see sidebar on page 25) by going goggle-eyed, muttering 'Holy s***,' charging up to the stage, and doing what every right-thinking straight male in America (and no small number of gay women) has dreamed of for years: planting a big fat kiss on Halle Berry, who presented the trophy."

EW 702 | March 28, 2003 | Profile by Chris Nashawaty
"But if none of this rings a bell or, more likely, if the only thing you can recall is the dewy Michael Jackson ballad 'Ben' that went with the 1972 sequel, it doesn't matter: With Glover in the lead role, the just-released Willard is its own uniquely freaky thing."

EW 701 | March 21, 2003 | Movie review by Lisa Schwarzbaum
"I would feel more inclined to ponder the deeper themes that the director and writers propose if the movie weren't so obviously turned on by the fetishism of the story: This is a parable of Thou Shalt Not Kill that's boyishly aroused by the ingenious ways a person can kill--and the more special-ops the method, the more excited the filmmaker."

EW 700 | March 14, 2003 | Music feature by Holly George-Warren
"From '88 to '94, their frenetic live shows and recordings influenced numerous alt-country acts, popularly known as 'No Depression' bands, an appelation taken from the title track of UT's 1990 debut album (originally recorded by the Carter Family in 1936)."
NOTE: I love this sentence. What exactly was "originally recorded by the Carter Family"? The whole Uncle Tupelo debut album, or just the title track?

EW 699 | March 7, 2003 | Television feature by Jeff Jensen
"Even then, the cast didn't truly jell until the end of Season 2, when the gang was transported to the topsy-turvy realm of Pylea--a winningly whimsical saga suggested by Whedon after botched guest-star negotiations brought a premature end to that year's major story lines."

EW 698 | February 28, 2003 | Movie review by Lisa Schwarzbaum
"The search to find out what happened to its author, Dow Mossman--who never published another book--launches Moskowitz on a quixotic cross-country adventure, simultaneously self-regarding and indefatigatble, talking to editors, agents, and other writers about the terrors and pleasures of reading and publishing."

EW 696/697 | February 21, 2003 | Movie review by Owen Gleiberman
"Affleck, unlike Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man, hasn't been given a compelling daylight character to play, and so when Matt puts on his Daredevil costume and begins to leap around like a ninja, dodging razory pinwheels or throwing his stiletto walking stick like a deadly javelin, we're left with the dispiriting sensation that special effects are accomplishing what the film's hero--and indeed, any live actor--could not."

EW 695 | February 14, 2003 | Stage review by Lawrence Frascella
"Directed by Marion McClinton (who did a superb job with Wilson's Jitney in 2000), the play takes place in 1927, inside a Chicago recording studio where real-life blues diva Ma Rainey (Whoopi Goldberg) and her band have assembled, under the scrutiny of Rainey's white agent and white producer."

EW 691 | January 17, 2003 | Oscar Race Preview
"It will surprise absolutely no one that Jack Nicholson, three-time winner and grand not-so-old man of the Academy, is--unless he confesses to having caused the collapse of Enron--going to become the first man ever to score a 12th nomination, thanks to his performance as a circumspect Midwestern retiree in About Schmidt."
NOTE: Did they scrape off that dried-out
Enron joke from the bottom of the "STALE JOKES" barrel?

EW 690 | January 10, 2003 | Video review by William Stevenson
"Playing a sad woman trapped in a drab job at the Retail Rodeo and a dreary marriage to a housepainting pothead (John C. Reilly), glamour girl [Jennifer] Aniston is surprisingly believable--and surrounded by an equally terrific supporting cast, including Gyllenhaal as the mopey young checkout guy she falls for and Zooey Deschanel as a sarcastic coworker."
NOTE: Not the worst sentence in the bunch, but now that I read it again, note all the cast members have repeated letters in their names? jeNNifer, reiLLy, gyLLenhAAl, zOOey? It's bizaRRe!