UPDATED: Ann Curry confirms her departure from 'Today' anchor desk; FX premieres 'Brand X' tonight

Thursday, 28 June 2012 12:48 PM Written by 

UPDATED: Ann Curry tells USA Today she's done as co-anchor of NBC's "Today" and will announce announced her departure on this morning's broadcast.

"I never expected to leave this couch after 15 years, but I am so grateful, especially to all of you who watch," Curry said. "Matt and I and everyone who sits on this couch we often call ourselves a family. But you are the real 'Today' show family. ... For all of you who saw me as a groundbreaker, I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line, but, man, I did try."

After the "Today" show's ratings fell in the past year under her anchorship, Curry negotiated an exit that will make her a roving NBC international reporter in charge of a team of correspondents. That might be better suited to Curry's skill set. I quit watching "Today" years ago before Curry ascended to co-anchor but I was always put off by the way she'd interrupt the people she interviewed. Still, it's difficult not to feel sorry for her given the chatter about her impending departure.

Watch video of her tearful farewell to viewers.

We now return you to today's regularly-scheduled blog post, a review of FX's "Brand X":

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In addition to the debut of Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" and the return of "Louie," FX premieres "Brand X with Russell Brand" (formerly titled "Strangely Uplifting") tonight at 11.

The show is basically a stand-up showcase for the British comedian to stalk a small stage while ranting on topics of the day while bouncing his theories off Matt Stoller, a progressive political consultant. The result is not all that funny but more interesting than what most stand-up TV programs deliver.

Read more after the jump. ...

Brand_X_120622_0010The 30-minute premiere kicks off with Brand complaining about media coverage that suggested he boasted about his sex life in front of the Dalai Lama.

"I did not boast about my sex life with the Dalai Lama primarily because he's a celibate monk," Brand said. "It's like, I wouldn't go up to Prof. Stephen Hawking and say, 'Hey, wanna see me moonwalk?'"

This might seem like a thin topic -- and at times it sure feels that way, particularly when Brand goes on a tear complaining about media reports that include celebrities' ages. But the Dalai Lama talk continues unabated for a full six minutes, culminating in Brand polling the live audience at the taping to see if they'd like to meet the Dalai Lama and then mocking one guy who said he would not because it would be "too much rigmarole."

After a commercial break, Brand returns to ask Matt why there's no U.S. Dalai Lama, which turns into a consideration of who might be the spiritual equivalent in the U.S., from politicians to athletes to business executives to Charlie Sheen (FX synergy!) to Tim Tebow to the Kardashians.

Brand says if given the choice between time spent in a room alone with the Dalai Lama or Kim Kardashian, he might pick Kardashian.

"The thing is, spiritual enlightenment takes time," Brand says. "[Oral sex] can be very brief."

So, yeah, Brand does bring his bad boy image with him to "Brand X."

Brand's interactions with Matt sometimes seem like a set-up for Brand's humor, particularly when Brand asks when he worked on Capitol Hill and Matt replies, "During the financial crisis," which allows Brand to say, "Good work, there." But really, who would ID their time by the financial crisis rather than a year?

After a detour into the topic of circumcision and the prospect of a Muslim holy war, Brand ends the episode declaring that we must only rely on ourselves.

"Divinity is within all of us," he says. "We can never make ourselves happy by consuming or purchasing products. Now please watch this commercial break and buy the products advertised because they paid for this show." 

"Brand X" is one weird show that might be funnier to those who watch in an innebriated state.

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