Dept of Fallen Icons: Corporate Takeover Division.

R Tenenbaum

Here’s an unlikely equation for an icon: Publicly crash out of professional tennis, fall in love with your (adopted) sister, move into a tent in your childhood home, and ensconce yourself in a camel hair coat. That, of course, is a description of Richie Tenenbaum. At a distance of nearly a decade–yes it’s been that long–Richie is seared into our memory, at once recognizable and esteemed.

Richie retains his decency even in the face of one of the classic paternal putdowns: ‘Why’d you choke out there that day, Baumer?’ Our sympathy to Richie extends to Luke Wilson, whose portrait is understated and affecting.

So it is with great regret that we confront the new spectacle of Mr. Wilson as a televised corporate shill. He is not promoting Brooks Brothers sport coats, alas, merely a modest telecommunications giant. Worse, the actor who did more for the headband than anyone since Bjorn Borg is adorned in, of all things, business casual attire. For a nationwide campaign that is doubtless a highly calculated act of non-offensiveness. For those of us who fondly remember the house on Archer Avenue, it’s a rough sight.

The man who memorably said ‘I’ve never been so depressed in my life,’ is now discussing coverage maps for a network that is as unreliable as one of Raleigh St. Clair’s patients. We don’t begrudge anyone their moment in the commercial sun. Like everything it’s a question of execution. If Wilson wants a master class in the convergence of style and commerce, he need look no further than a credit card ad from a few years ago. It stars and is directed by somebody quite familiar with all matters Tenenbaum: Wes Anderson himself. –DAVID COGGINS

Comments on “Dept of Fallen Icons: Corporate Takeover Division.

    Kirk Bray on January 11, 2010 3:19 PM:

    Ah, Mr. Coggins hit the nail on the head with this. Sad to see Luke Wilson seemingly ‘throwing in the towel’ on all standards of style and message…

    Tom Ran on January 11, 2010 3:24 PM:

    Nice one.

    mike on January 11, 2010 3:28 PM:

    well said… sad to see luke so “bloated” both physically, and stylistically too. come on luke, we know you’ve got more in you than that.

    ben on January 11, 2010 3:31 PM:

    Not that I give a shit, but this kind of reminds me of the time I saw scott schuman – the sartorialist – in a gap ad. Laughed out loud and without any ill-will toward him

    ChetHondo on January 11, 2010 3:33 PM:

    Wow. I couldn’t have explained this any better.

    Winthrope III on January 11, 2010 4:51 PM:

    That was just a character he played in a movie ten years ago. He should not be held to a Baumer standard. We all love Luke Wilson, but I don’t think he has the easiest time finding work in Hollywood. And the pay on a Wes Anderson film cannot be tremendous. The man did what he had to do, whether it measured up to our aesthetic criteria or not.

    tween_spirit on January 11, 2010 4:52 PM:

    pretty sure richie tenenbaum was a creation of wes anderson and owen wilson, not luke. the man is just an actor. he also had a role focused on stunning mediocrity in Idiocracy. I think he is doing just fine for himself being in commercials that air on all networks at every commercial break. although it sucks he got so fat.

    tween_spirit on January 11, 2010 4:53 PM:

    Damnit Winthrope III beat me to it by a minute.

    Diana on January 11, 2010 5:00 PM:


    Steven on January 11, 2010 5:04 PM:


    JohnD on January 11, 2010 5:05 PM:

    Can’t fault the man when they back up the Brinks truck. Hell, I think ‘Old School’ gives him a lifetime pass.

    The Bruce on January 11, 2010 5:07 PM:

    I have to say, it’s pretty unanimous that everyone is sad to see Mr. Wilson in those ads. Every time one comes on the tv everyone in the room seems to groan.

    In his defense, I have heard he’s looking a little chubby in the face due to preparation for a role in which he plays kind of a slacker, like The Dude or something to that effect. Also, as you sort of allude to in the post, the pay-to-effort ratio on a commercial shoot is way way better than working on a movie. You only have to put in a few days work and you get very well compensated, so I don’t hold it against him.

    Jim WVB on January 11, 2010 5:09 PM:

    Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.

    FOG Lite on January 11, 2010 5:25 PM:

    I assumed he was in the ads since Wes Anderson had done a series of AT&T ads a couple years ago and told ol’ Luke about the crazy money to be made. Or perhaps those ads were only Wes Anderson ‘inspired.”

    Michael Williams on January 11, 2010 5:44 PM:

    Look, I just want to talk on the phone and use the internet (this is a joke — no one does this), which is why I made the switch from Verizon. I really like my iPhone because when I go where ever there are more than two people clumped together I don’t have to worry about getting phone calls or emails because the network is so over loaded.

    In all fairness to Luke, he seems to be a good man. It is just that AT&T sucks so bad and he is dressed so poorly in those ads. I’m one who can’t talk about gainin a few pounds, but at least get a suit that fucking fits!

    Chris on January 11, 2010 5:46 PM:

    Both of the Wilson brothers need to take a hike, so say Steely Dan:

    Foster on January 11, 2010 7:52 PM:

    i just so happen to be watching this movie when i read this post. washed up and chubby.

    Rick Liebling on January 11, 2010 8:24 PM:

    I’m not a historian of the entire Luke Wilson oeuvre, but I think his work with Wes Anderson is more the exception than the rule.

    Jen on January 11, 2010 8:52 PM:

    He’s an actor. He has to work. Maybe this money will enable him to make some shit you guys approve of. Maybe not. Don’t judge. You’re not in his shoes. How many of you hold yourself to the same standards? Do you work for employer you’re not so crazy about? But you’ve got to pay the bills.

    mike on January 11, 2010 9:01 PM:

    Um, did y’all not notice Bob Dylan sold one of his most beautyist ones to sell Pepsi this weekend while watching football? Luke’s gotta eat. I mean did you look at that gut?

    dave on January 11, 2010 9:20 PM:

    my wife and i make jokes about how fat his head is, and we ad lib the commercials. fun stuff.

    Jeremiah Simmons on January 11, 2010 9:28 PM:

    Anyone know how much good ol’ AT&T is paying Mr. Wilson? I’ll bet they are throwing some serious $ at him, as he surely knows that doing those shitty and shoddy ads will thus shift him from fan favorite indy actor to corporate shill.

    Not to rag on him too much… if AT&T paid me enough I would jam iPhones in my ass for a living, and my backside is exit only.

    Ethan-T on January 11, 2010 10:57 PM:

    I am surprised that you would fault LW for doing a commercial. What I am surprised at was I have noticed all the ACL driven commerce posts on your blog lately and I thought the same about you. (Though I do come back every few days and still enjoy your site)

    roseskunk on January 11, 2010 11:37 PM:

    This is the pot, this is the kettle… oh, wait, is that an ad for Sony Ericsson on the ACL blog? Uh, yeah, it is.

    the duderino on January 11, 2010 11:52 PM:

    Wow, you are such a hack for posting this garbage.

    Get off your high horse, lest not ye forget that you have a blog that sells junk and are sponsored by many a CORPORATION (you’re in this for the money). why else would you charge people 100 bucks for a fitted hat. Besides, the best thing you’ve ever done is write up a “blog”, piss compared to a second of screen time starring in wes anderson film.

    in addition, didn’t you work for ABERCROMBIE AND FITCH!? kettle calling pot black much?

    Go back to making mediocre posts about cliched americana, you of all people have no right to proliferate lazy criticism.

    noah on January 12, 2010 12:05 AM:

    Such a good post.

    Warren on January 12, 2010 12:18 AM:

    where do you exactly drawn the line at selling out? is it only with actors? aren’t most of our popular american actors pitching products across the globe? does that make luke wilson less of a star for doing so in america rather than japan or elsewhere?

    face it, we all have a price.

    Jim on January 12, 2010 1:51 AM:

    Why is everybody so appalled. This is America. Money trumps all.

    Nunya on January 12, 2010 2:29 AM:

    As previously mentioned this is a rather hypocritical post. Back in the day (what like 2 years ago?) there weren’t any ads on this site (that I can remember), even though it was started by someone in PR.

    Luke Wilson isn’t exactly the greatest living actor (basically the predecessor to Michael Cera), and sorry, Wes Anderson makes some pretty looking films (with nice costumes), but as much as I used to like them, as I get older I can’t help but to feel a lack of any real substance.

    Stick to promoting, not criticizing things, maybe MW should only be doing post, but I imagine his life is busier these days, next thing you know he’ll being doing AT&T commericials.

    pally on January 12, 2010 3:36 AM:

    The hilarious thing about this whole situation is that MW would probably bend over at the chance to advertise AT&T on this blog or to make any kind of real money. He’s just a wannabe writer who has received a miniscule amount of popularity shamelessly promoting the success of others and taking credit for their accomplishments. Face it MW, you have a long way to go before you get a free pass criticizing the likes of Luke Wilson. You’d grovel at his feet if you had the chance. The funny thing is that you probably will never get the chance to. You’ll always just be a PR hack with no class talking trash about people who have achieved more in a month than you have in your entire life!

    afrosaxon on January 12, 2010 7:59 AM:

    I’ll reserve my judgement until I see the adds

    mfarris70 on January 12, 2010 8:45 AM:

    You picked an easy target. Who ever believed that actors had morals or standards?

    Thad on January 12, 2010 8:52 AM:

    Also, didn’t I see nearly this same article on a couple of weeks ago?

    Exit Lines on January 12, 2010 8:57 AM:

    For you MW haters out there: Michael didn’t write this post, I did.
    The piece is not anti-advertising, it’s anti-bad ads by good actors in bad clothing.

    Matt on January 12, 2010 9:01 AM:

    Maybe somebody made-off with his loot?

    sam on January 12, 2010 10:45 AM:

    they ARE bad ads and he IS a good actor in bad clothing. those two things are also my biggest beef with it all.

    huh huh i said “biggest beef”

    HOT + COOL on January 12, 2010 10:47 AM:

    My first thought was, “Wow, Wilson got puffy!” Such a horrible ad as well…actors really need to be careful what they put their brand on these days unless it’s well written and well done.

    Nathan Arizona on January 12, 2010 11:26 AM:

    We yell “coke bloat” every time we see these ads at my house. It’s immature and mean, which kind of describes our sense of humor now that I think of it. My girlfriend and I have both worked with Luke in the past and it is sad to see him become a whore and then shake hands himself!…..but you know, as actors, and teamsters! we’d do those commercials too, if asked, and Luke could yell at our images!

    Steve on January 12, 2010 11:32 AM:

    Actors make money by saying things that people tell them to say. Those people also supply the clothes.

    Vince on January 12, 2010 1:03 PM:

    Wow, I’m glad to see that other people think Luke Wilson is or used to be cool. I’m not so bothered by the clothes or lameness as I am by the fact that he hasn’t been in any good movies in ages. The family stone? WTF was that about? Doing tenenbaums and old school should have ensured him a way better career.

    Donald on January 12, 2010 1:26 PM:

    I wonder….if your cross referenced the negative comments from this post with the people asking for a free key chain from a few posts ago, how many would overlap.

    Ry on January 12, 2010 2:18 PM:

    Accusations fo being a “Corporate Shill” from the ACL blog? right. let me back to my ironing.

    ben on January 12, 2010 4:11 PM:

    Is it just ACL, or do other menswear blogs attract catty conversations on the reg?

    Florent on January 12, 2010 4:41 PM:

    I hear you ! That is low. Well, that’s when you have seen and LOVED the movie. But what’s not to love.

    Dr Feelgood on January 12, 2010 5:00 PM:



    me on January 12, 2010 6:01 PM:

    Man, you angry comment-posters (pally, the duderino, etc…) need to stop drinking so much coffee! So pathetically nasty and personal. It would be interesting to know what you bags of hot wind do all day.

    Ulysses on January 12, 2010 7:10 PM:

    This is an awful post. Who the fuck cares what Luke Wilson is doing now, it’s not like he thought he was going to live off the image of Richie Tenenbaum.

    STONER on January 12, 2010 8:23 PM:

    Well said.

    As a former ad guy myself, I thought I was the only one paying attention to this shit. Luke should take a cue from Schwarzenegger: if you want to get paid like like a ho on tax return day, go to Japan and do some commercials that nobody stateside will see. There’s a long, grand tradition there. But no matter what anyone says, AT&Turd hired Luke for the same reasons we love him. Except they don’t really care what their shitty image does to his – they’re the ones who NEED to stand next him like Christian Audigier stealing a press shot with Michael Jackson. “Stole,” I guess, is the correct term…

    Full disclosure: I have an iPhone: love the Apple, fucking HATE the service.

    jean renoir on January 13, 2010 12:42 AM:


    Brian on January 13, 2010 1:30 PM:

    I had a lot riding on that match. Personally and financially.

    Polka Dot on January 13, 2010 2:59 PM:

    From the mind to the mouth.
    Glad to see someone throw this out officially.
    Been entertaining an audience of one (the wife) on this very topic since the spots dropped.
    Mr. Wilson has been given his fair share of attention on this thread therefore,
    I’ll start the pity party for AT&T and more specifically the marcom team who imagined Mr. Wilson to be an architype for the brand.
    Oh the poor things. Like a wet kitten you just HAVE to feel sorry for.

    zissou on January 14, 2010 10:03 AM:

    I think this takes the cake for the worst ACL post ever.

    Justin W on January 14, 2010 11:38 AM:

    I think that It’s a bit strange to attribute some ‘connection’ between Wilson and Tenenbaum…intimating that Wilson has tarnished the name and image of Tenenbaum by ‘selling out’ to AT&T…what? And it’s patently ludicrous to praise Wilson for his performance as Tenenbaum in a movie, which he was paid for…then in the same breath criticize him for getting paid to portray HIMSELF in an ad for AT&T. He’s an actor…who would not have played the part of Tenenbaum for FREE…does THAT make him a sell-out?

    Skippy on January 14, 2010 12:43 PM:

    Michael Williams, aren’t YOU fat?

    Michael Williams on January 14, 2010 12:44 PM:

    I believe I pointed that out earlier Skippy! Yay!

    rj duggan on January 14, 2010 2:57 PM:

    Apparently taking on revenue to pay for servers is against the rules now, I had no idea someone had to run themselves into the ground to be “authentic.” Thank you all for clarifying,

    Yours always,

    The Rational Human-Being

    VM on January 16, 2010 9:02 AM:

    Read this sentence again.

    We don’t begrudge anyone their moment in the commercial sun. Like everything it’s a question of execution.

    It’s not that he “sold out”, that concept died years ago. It’s that the commercials themselves are so bad.

    Emily on January 17, 2010 10:03 AM:

    Exactly! Thank you! Love him, love the movie, love the comment!

    Isaac Buie on January 18, 2010 10:50 PM:

    I’ve spent way too much time thinking about this post…Richie is truly a legend, the commercials probably affect how I view him.

Comments are closed.