[In this feature, we periodically check in to see what is up with Topher Grace.]

Earlier this week, comedian Ken Ober, most famous as the host of the MTV game show Remote Control, died at the age of 52. Ober helped to launch the careers of other comedians, like Adam Sandler and Colin Quinn, and anyone who grew up during the show’s 1987-1991 run (or who was in their mid-50s but maintained a powerful interest in “the youthful culture”) will always remember the show as something irreverent and new. The New York Times, in memorializing Ober called the show “sarcastic” and “self-mocking,” and pointed out that Ober “ran the program like a late-night talk show (or frat party) and gleefully teased players who gave wrong answers.” It’s true! The show was like a late-night talk show, or a frat party, or somewhere in between. After hosting Remote Control, Ober went on to host some other game shows, but I do not think I am alone in having lost track of his career. And so his death stands as a painful reminder of both the fragility of life on this Earth that someone could be taken so young (and I don’t know if you know this, but some people die at even younger ages sometimes! Without ever having been on TV at all! This world is really kind of a nightmare) and also of the fickle nature of fame, as a man who brought so much joy to so many people could so easily recede into the shadows. R.I.P. Ken Ober. You are in heaven now, gleefully teasing the angels who give wrong answers.

But if there is one bright moment* to take from Ken Ober’s unfortunate passing, it is my strengthened resolve to continue doing the important work of What’s Up with Topher Grace?, to ensure that we don’t lose another of our beloved celebrities to disease-filled (or drug-overdose filled, do we really still not know what happened to Ken Ober?) obscurity.

So, what is up with him?

Obviously, most of Topher’s time these days is spent working out with a personal trainer and undergoing intensive ballistics training for his upcoming role in Robert Rodriguez’s Predators. Probably. Good luck, Topher Grace!

Meanwhile, in a recent review of Beau Willimon’s play Farragut North, playing now through December 13th at the Unicorn Theater in Kansas City, MO, a young critic described the performers this way:

You need characters at different points in the life cycle to make this story work, and the partnership between the Unicorn and UMKC’s graduate student program developed for FARRAGUT NORTH delivers on that score. Grad student Thomas brings a Topher Grace enthusiasm and innocence to his performance as Stephen Bellamy. You think the fresh-faced kid can do anything, which makes his fall from grace the more compelling. Bellamy spins and spins until he’s caught in a cocoon he’ll really only understand years later, when he’s become a wizened operative himself.

Sounds great! Of course, it was only a matter of time before Topher Grace’s distinctive acting style became a useful way to describe other, less developed actors. He’s basically a brand now, if the word “brand” wasn’t so over-loaded with negative connotations that do no justice to his work as an artist. Let us just say that Topher Grace is a role model (ROLE model! LOL!) and maybe even the founder of a new school of American thespianism.

And, of course, That ’70s Show remains popular in syndication.

And there you go. That is what is up with Topher Grace. See you next time!

*There is no bright moment to take from Ken Ober’s unfortunate death, least of all a sarcastic pop-culture blog post. My apologies to Ken Ober’s friends and family, and also to the Department of Good Taste.

Comments (49)
  1. It was nice of you to apologize to The Department of Good Taste, but they already have their hands full with Sofia Vergara… pun intended.

  2. anyone else catch the play on words? “his fall from GRACE…”
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  3. Great read, Gabe brought almost a Topher Grace enthusiasm and innocence to this blog posting.

  4. Topher is my LOL model.

  5. Image and video hosting by TinyPic

    Seriously though, I wonder what’s up with Joaquin Phoenix. Please get on that Gabe and see what you can find out.

  6. Not to be all seriousgum over here, but that was an honest and pretty lovely piece of writing about the passing of Ken Ober. Well done, Gabe.

  7. Mark my words, I will be first to sign the “Topher Grace should play Ken Ober in the upcoming Remote Control – Behind the La-Z-Boy film” poll.

  8. woozefa  |   Posted on Nov 18th, 2009 -14

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  9. Wait, the “What’s Up With Topher Grace?” feature is SARCASTIC? But I genuinely read it to keep up with the career of the star of ‘Win A Date With Tad Hamilton.” Don’t you guys? I’m so confused.

    • I actually like Topher Grace a lot. To me, he seems like the least douchebaggiest actor (well, one of the ones with a lower dbag quotient). I dunno. Don’tunderstandgum.

  10. Coincidentally, Topher Grace would like to know what’s up with TWMOAT this week.

  11. Topher Grace would be reading the recap of last night’s V right now if it had been posted.
    Missed an opportunity Videogum.

  12. “This world is really kind of a nightmare.”

    Sorry to get all seriousgum, but I think Gabe’s overwhelming, naked discomfort and punctuated weariness for not just pop-culture, but the world in general, is really what keeps me coming back here every day. Every so often, something slips through that tells you he’s so overwhelmed by everything shitty about this planet, that all he can do is shrug and make a joke. I suppose if it was my job to point out everything awful about modern culture, I would lose faith in humanity, too.
    To me, Gabe seems like a scaled-down version of Morgan Freeman’s character in Se7en:

    “Do you like what you do for a living? Things things you see?”
    “No, I don’t. But that’s life.”

  13. These things you see”.
    “Things things you see” seems like it was written by a semi-illiterate Dr. Seuss.

  14. Sounds like someone could use-

    The Colbert Bump.

  15. Seriously though, no “Heaven Just Got a Little More Ken Ober?”

  16. Obituaries and Topher Grace. They go together like pickles and mayonnaise. They don’t seem like they go together, but then, tartar sauce.

  17. My favorite part of this feature every single week is this:
    “And, of course, That ’70s Show remains popular in syndication”
    With no period at the end, like an unfinished thought. Like at some point every week, Gabe intends to look up some figures or something to more fully describe or quantify how popular That ’70s Show is in syndication, but he forgets every time, because DUH of course it is popular.


    • Walt Whitman did the whole omitting the period thing in one of his poems, the idea being that it is a never-ending poem that takes on new life every time a new reader picks it up. It’s on them to continue the journey over the coming years. Basically Gabe is Walt Whitman of the blogs. And “That 70′s Show” is “Leaves of Grass”. METAPHOOOOOOOORES!

  18. T-t-t Topher Grace,T-t-t Topher Grace
    mum mum mum mah,Topher Grace, mum mum mum mah Topher Grace

  19. Do you guys think that we and Topher Grace could bond over memories of Remote Control and become friends and we would always know what was up with Topher Grace because most times it would be what was up with us too?

  20. don’t care where Topher is but I do know where Gabe is. Puuting food on his family for Details magazine.

    oh noes.

  21. I’ve been reading Videogum for months and finally found something important enough to force me to make a profile for comment, sharing Topher stories, perineum, etc.

    Somehow, we missed something that was up with Topher Grace. Last week, Lifetime premiered the sure-to-be-an-award-winning film, Personal Effects starring the serious actor (not serious actor) Ashton Kutcher and Cougar-tastic Michelle Pfeiffer falling in love as they bond over shared grief of murdered loved ones. In the film, Pfeiffer’s character has a deaf teenage son. The opening scenes have a voice-over narrating his thoughts as he reflects on his dead father. It only took a few words for me to recognize Topher Grace’s heavenly voice in this uncredited role. How could we have missed this????

  22. I was going to write something funny but I can’t stop my self from buying Ugg boots. Apparently they are “must have.”

  23. finally! ive been looking everywhere for uggs!

  24. UGH boots.

  25. Forget the Uggs, do you know how long I’ve been looking for an ed hardy handbag? Now finally my purse won’t clash with my boyfriend’s t-shirt when we’re out and about.

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