Hey, What’s Up With Topher Grace?

Gabe Delahaye | November 18, 2009 - 5:18 pm

[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.