Friday, October 21, 2005

Friday SW Pics....and another BIG DAY IN (Dweeb) History

Unlike his spectral scenes in Empire, Alec Guinness was present on set for Jedi, with his translucency added in postproduction, which makes for these intriguing photos of a corporeal Obi-Wan facing Luke.

A moody Coruscant ensemble developed by Iain McCaig for Episode II.

Agen Kolar (Tux Akindoyeni) had best work on that defense.

This alcove of the Sidi Driss Hotel in Matmata, Tunisia will become the dining area of the Lars Homestead.

In order to separate his image from the background to transform him into a hologram, Silas Carson (Ki-Adi-Mundi) sat on a bluescreen-draped Jedi Council chair.

A throng of loyalist Senators await the safe return of Chancellor Palpatine in this image direct from the HD camera. Note that Ahmed Best's features are visible as a "headless" Jar Jar Binks

This fountain set dressing on Amidala's veranda, though filled with water, did not actually burble. The moving water was added digitally.


Long time no OddBob


We're being subjected to a number of new SF dramas this season on "mainstream" TV.

Here are a few concepts the networks didn't like.

The Top 7 Rejected SF TV Concepts
7> "Doctor Whom": Science fiction for the upper-class British.
6> Pimp My Starship: Captain Picard and the gang add some bling to the Enterprise.
5> "Bay Trek" or "Star Watch": Like "Star Trek" but with bikini- clad hotties running in slo-mo on alien beaches! EDITOR'S NOTE: HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM JUST ABOUT EVERY PLANET CAPTAIN KIRK VISITED ON THE ORIGINAL SHOW?
4> Star Trek - PDU (Prime Directive Unit): A group of Federation scientists, sociologists and lawyers follows in the wake of the USS Enterprise attempting to repair damage done by Kirk and company interfering with under-developed planets.
3> Seven of Nine: Two of the nine Supreme Court justices have secretly been replaced by aliens, and are attempting to weaken the government to make an alien invasion easier. Only the plucky court reporter played by Jeri Ryan knows this has happened and is trying to expose the aliens.
2> Oprah Star Wars: Oprah talks to some of the lesser-known races about life, troubles and losing weight and gives away thousands in fabulous gifts.
and the Number 1 Rejected SF TV Concept...
1> Bluffy the Vampire Pokerplayer: The stakes are real gold.

The Top 8 Ways to Choose the Next James Bond
8> First, eliminate all the blond guys. Uh-oh.
7> Martini-chugging contest.
6> Make them earn it from Judi Dench in a "Bachelorette"-style reality show.
5> Lock the candidates in a room with Portia de Rossi, Jody Foster and Ellen DeGeneres. First one to score is our new Bond. EDITOR'S NOTE: OOO..OUCH. NPC.
4> Hold a toga party, see who needs the biggest sheet, ifyouknowwhatimean. EDITOR'S NOTE: NO. BATTING EYELASHES. WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
3> Who cares? Just make sure his British accent is better than Madonna's.
2> If anyone standing on a ladder reaches Sean Connery's shoulders, he's your man.
and the Number 1 Way to Choose the Next Bond...
1> See who can beat up Tom Cruise. Hire him on principle.

Friday STAR WARS Dweebing

Spike TV has engineered the biggest movie purchase in the net's 22-year history, ponying up between $65 million and $70 million for a six-year exclusive deal covering all six of Lucasfilm's "Star Wars" movies.
NBC Universal's USA Network and Sci Fi Channel and Turner BroadcastingTurner Broadcasting's TBS and TNT were in the bidding, helping to drive the price up much higher than the initial estimate four months ago, which put the George LucasGeorge Lucas space operas at about $50 million (Daily Variety, June 16).

A spokesman for Spike declined to comment.

The blockbuster in the deal was "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," which Spike will get in the first network window in April 2008.

That's the earliest window a cable net has ever landed to a "Star Wars" movie; the first five titles began their TV life on the Fox Network.

Two more recent "Star Wars" pics -- "Attack of the Clones" (2002) and "The Phantom Menace" (1999) -- have had runs on Fox but have never shown up on cable before. Spike will get them and the original three pics in April 2008.

Spike's aggressiveness in nailing "Star Wars" was fueled in part by its need to make up Nielsen ground in the future for the loss of World Wrestling Entertainment's "WWE Raw," a guaranteed ratings winner every Monday nights for two hours. USA outbid Spike for the rights to "Raw" and started running it Oct. 3 to steroid-pumped ratings. The two-hour "Raw" on Oct. 10 was the second highest-rated program on all of ad-supported cable for the week ended Sunday.EDITOR'S NOTE: SO ARE THEY THINKING THE STAR WARS AUDIENCE AND THE WWE AUDIENCE ARE THE SAME? (AND WITH THE SW MOVIES ON SPIKE, DOES THIS MEAN THAT IT IS NOW 'MANLY' TO BE A DWEEB?)!

But paying big bucks for a marquee property is not new to the network.

Five years ago, Spike, then known as TNN (the National Network), coughed up a staggering $364 million for the rights to reruns of three "Star Trek" series -- "Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine" and "Voyager" -- plus the first five "Star Trek" theatrical movies.

When King World, a sister company of Spike, opened the cable marketplace for reruns of "CSI" four years ago, Spike forked over a then-record sum for an off-network hour, $1.6 million an episode.

Two years ago, Spike dropped the ball, allowing A&E to claw its way ahead of all other bidders to capture the rights to "CSI: Miami""CSI: Miami" for what now looks like a bargain price of $1.02 million an hour. But a year later, Spike threw off all restraints to grab "CSI: NY" reruns, anteing up $1.9 million an episode for the privilege.

The first three movies in the "Star Wars" series -- "Star Wars" (1977), "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and "Return of the Jedi" (1983) -- have played on a number of broadcast and cable networks over the past two decades. But Spike expects to chalk up lots more Nielsen numbers through heavily promoted stunts and marathons.

When HBO plunked down $15 million for exclusive pay TV rights to "Attack of the Clones" in February 2003, it also picked up exclusive windows to the previous four "Star Wars" movies.

The biggest price ever paid for an individual "Star Wars" title was the $80 million paid by the Fox Network for a 10-year exclusive license term for "The Phantom Menace." In that deal, Fox even bought out the pay TV window so it could get the movie within 18 months of its debut in U.S. theaters.

Strike Force on Wheels
Jim Doty of Royal Pin Leisure Centers in Indianapolis, Indiana, wanted to attract more attention to the new Star Wars Strike Force Bowling leagues, which were forming this fall at his centers.

To do so he had his car painted with the dynamic images of the Star Wars bowling ball artwork.

The Strike Force Bowling League offers fans a chance to not only bowl with some killer Star Wars gear, but also to have fun with fellow fans.

To find a league, fans can go to

Top Ten -- Your Favorite Technology of the Star Wars Saga:
There are just some things that make the Star Wars galaxy . . . well, make it the Star Wars galaxy.

If the Millennium Falcon never made lightspeed or if General Grievous' guards defended him with non-powered big sticks it simply would not be the same experience.

Bantha Tracks readers weighed in on the technology that makes Star Wars both awe-inspiring and believable for them, and also about some great inventions that would make their lives easier and more fun in this galaxy.

All types of technology, from bacta and breathers to Senate platforms and training remotes, received votes and comments.

A few votes even cropped up for some decidedly un-technical items like Jedi mullets, Jedi boots, and Han Solo's blaster holster. Although Bantha Tracks concedes these latter items are to be admired, they did not fall into the technical category and the votes were not counted.

When all was said and counted, here are your

Top Ten Favorite Technologies in the Star Wars Saga:

10. Cloud City. "A floating, sustainable community above an otherwise uninhabitable planet! How cool is that?"

9. Energy Weapons. From hold-out blasters to super lasers, we can't imagine our GFFA space cowboys without them.

8. Clones. Bantha Tracks might not have immediately thought of them as technology, but cloning expertise certainly made the Grand Army of the Republic a reality.

7. Droids. Some voted for protocol, some for Astromech, some for battle droids, and many for just plain droids. Taken together droids placed 7th.

6. The Death Star. Fan agree there would not have been much for our heroes to do in the original trilogy without the Death Stars.

5. Repulsor technology. Getting those big ships up and away, and propelling landspeeders across Tatooine.

4. The Holonet. Fans find cross-galaxy real-time communications amazing.

3. Darth Vader's suit. Does far more than keep Vader alive, it's a fearsome visage that makes an unforgettable first impression.

2. Hyperdrives. Helped billions on thousands of planets stop fighting with themselves and start fighting with beings from other planets instead. EDITOR'S NOTE: WELL AIN'T THAT A SAD COMMENTARY ON HUMAN NATURE?!

And, your Number One Favorite Technology from the Star Wars Saga:

Lightsabers."I mean...come on!"

ROTS Out At Target Today

Today is the first "offical" unofficial release date for the following Target exclusive Revenge of the Sith toys:

Plo Koon's Jedi Starfighter,

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Duel at Mustafar),

Darth Vader (Duel at Mustafar),

and Clone Attack of Coruscant Battle Pack.

Clone Wars DVD Figure Collections
Later this year, Hasbro commemorates the DVD release of Star Wars: Clone Wars Volume 2 with exclusive figure collections based on the Emmy-award-winning animated series.

Collection 1 includes Anakin Skywalker, Saesee Tiin and a clone trooper.


Collection 2 includes Clone Commander Cody, Obi-Wan Kenobi and General Grievous.


Hasbro’s Plans For 2006
While this list is subject to change, this is what we can expect from Hasbro’s The Saga Collection line.
While many may think this is all for 2006, it is expected that the first couple of waves (ROTJ 1 and TESB waves) should hit retailers as soon as December.
Oddly enough, you’ll notice the stronger presence of background characters that we have grown accustomed to in non-movie years. This time there are even some slightly, almost Expanded Universe offerings. EDITOR'S NOTE: EU ROCKS!
Star Wars Saga Basic figures asst
Listed below are the first seven planned waves. We could see more than these seven, but nothing that Hasbro has commented on as of yet. While ordered chronologically, the waves will not follow a chronological order.
The Phantom Menace
Gungan Rep Been
Naboo Soldier
Podracer pilots 2pk
Gragra: Mos Espa Merchant
Obi-Wan Kenobi
Darth Maul
Attack Of The Clones
Clone Trooper
Sora Bulq: Weequay Jedi
Sun Fac: Geonosian Leader
Poggle the lesser: Geonosian Leader
Jango Fett
Republic Commando
Revenge Of The Sith
Lushros Dofine: Invisible Hand Captain
Commander Cody: Clone Commander EDITOR'S NOTE: GRRR
Anakin Skywalker
Clone Trooper
Obi-Wan Kenobi
General Grievous
A New Hope
Hem Dazon: Cantina Denizen
Garindan The Kubaz
Han Solo
Luke Skywalker
The Empire Strikes Back
General Veers
Major Bren Derlin
AT-AT Driver
General Rieekan
Darth Vader: Hoth Battle
Gonk Droid: Rebel Hangar
Return Of The Jedi 1
Leia Boushh
Han Solo: Jabba’s Prisoner
Bib Fortuna
Barada Skiff guard
Chewbacca: Boushh’s Bounty
Boba Fett
Return Of The Jedi 2
Chief Chirpa
Moff Jerjerrod
Death Star Gunner
Luke Skywalker: Endor Confrontation
Darth Vader: Endor Confrontation
The Emperor
Endor Rebel Commando
SW Force Battlers
Jango Fett
Obi-Wan Kenobi
General Grievous
The Emperor
Galactic Heroes
Palpatine Vs. Yoda (repack)
Count Dooku Vs. Anakin (repack)
Obi-Wan Vs. General Grievous (repack)
Vader Vs. Obi-wan (ROTS?)
Lando Vs. Skiff Guard (repack)
Chewbacca Vs. Clone Trooper (repack)
R2-D2 Vs. Super Battle Droid (repack)
Mace Windu Vs. Kit Fisto (repack)
Dark side Anakin Vs. Shock Trooper (new)
Obi-Wan Vs. Utapau Clone (new)
Vader and The Emperor hologram (new)
Kashyyyk Yoda Vs. Clone Trooper (new)
Hoth 2 Pack (repack?)
Luke w/speeder bike (repack)
Scout trooper w/speeder bike(repack)
Coruscant 2Pk (new)
Geonosis 2Pk (new)
Emperor / Red Schock (new)
SW Titanium Vehicles
The Titanium line is a bit more self sufficient and will branch out into a couple of non-Star Wars assortments.
New licenses to jump on for 2006 are Battlestar Gallactica (PG) and Stargate (SG). Both new licenses will shipped packed out with the Star Wars vehicles.
3inch Speeder bike w/trooper
3inch Jedi Attack cruiser
3inch Clone Tank
3inch TIE fighter (chase)
3inch Clone Tank
3inch Death Star
3inch Slave 1 Jango Fett
3inch Federation Droid Fighter
Vehicle Imperial Shuttle
Vehicle Darth Vader’s TIE fighter
Vehicle AT-AT
Vehicle Republic Gunship
Die-Cast Wookiee Helicopter
Die-Cast Jedi Starfighter
Die-Cast Royal Starship
Die-Cast Battle Ravaged Millenium Falcon
Die-Cast Silver Slave 1 (limited edition)
Vehicle Jedi starfighter
Vehicle Sith Infiltrator
Vehicle Droid Tank
3Inch 1978 Cylon Raider vehicle EDITOR'S NOTE: JUST TO CONFUSE US....FRANCHISE MIXING.....
3Inch 2004 Scout ship vehicle
3Inch 1978 Viper vehicle
3Inch Titanium LTD E3 Millenium Falcon
3Inch Luke Skywalker’s Speeder Bike
3Inch Republic Cruiser3Inch A-Wing EP6
3Inch Executor Star Destroyer EP5
3Inch Sandcrawler
3Inch BG 04 Colonial 1
3Inch BG 04 Raptor
3Inch BG 04 Viper MK VII
3Inch SG Stargate with Stand
3Inch SG Death Glider ship
3Inch Titanium LTD Purple (?)
3Inch Leia Organa’s Speeder Bike
3Inch TIE Interceptor
3Inch B-Wing
SW Titanium forged 3.75" figures
Same rule applies as far as license cross packing.
Darth Vader
Boba Fett (w/ removable helmet)
Clone Trooper
BG Cylon Warrior
General Grievous
SW Titanium forged Ultra Vehicle
Ultra Clone Arc 170
Ultra Droid Tri Fighter
Ultra Diecast Slave 1
Ultra Snowspeeder
Ultra AT-AT
Ultra Millennium Falcon

Friday Disney and the rest Dweebing




An expectant crowd gathers in the small theater at Disney's California Adventure - a bunch of kids on the floor up front to be close to the action, and grown-ups and more kids behind.

A host appears and urges the audience to call Crush the turtle in from the EAC (that's East Australian Current, natch!) and finally he arrives.

Crush looks great - exactly as he does in "Finding Nemo," in fact - and everyone expects a great show. But still, jaws drop as kids start asking Crush questions about life as a sea turtle - questions that he clearly hears, and answers spontaneously.

Crush isn't just a special effect; he's someone you can chat with, who knows what you're saying and always has a surprising answer. That's the experience Guests have every day at Turtle Talk, a groundbreaking experience that goes beyond passive entertainment to let audiences "meet" a character on terms that make him feel real. EDITOR'S NOTE: JOEL...ARE YOU KEEPING A LIST OF ALL THE REASONS WHY WE HAVE TO GO BACK? (OR TO CALIFORNIA, IN THIS CASE?) ADD THIS ONE....HOW COOL IS THIS!?

How does Crush do it?

Imagineer Joseph Garlington isn't telling - that would ruin the magic. And Crush's biggest fans simply don't care.

"Kids have a different sense of the universe than adults do, and they divide reality and fantasy in different ways," Joseph observes. "I think most kids sort of expect that you should be able to talk to an animated character, the same way you can talk to any other performer. So the kids get a chance to talk to this animated character, and they think it's wonderful."

Grown-ups can't help wondering how it works. It's quite clear that it's no illusion - Crush really hears you and responds spontaneously, and Joseph urges Guests to prove this to themselves.

"The thing that is so cool about Crush is how he handles surprise. So think of a funny or interesting question, something that you think nobody might have asked him, and see how he handles those questions. When you ask him something unusual or unexpected and he answers that, the surprise in the audience is great. It's what shows him to be most believably there."

For instance, Crush asked one young guest what he liked to eat, and the little boy responded, "I eat turtles!" Crush immediately fled behind a rock to escape the peril! Things like this, or Crush hearing a Guest's cell phone ring, make it clear the Turtle Talk isn't a pre-scripted show.

Crush is part of a movement to create what the Imagineers call "Living Characters" - creatures that can interact with Guests in new and exciting ways, creatures that seem REAL.

Another Living Character taking a somewhat different approach is Lucky the Dinosaur.

Lucky debuted at Disney's Animal Kingdom in spring 2005; this fall he jetted off to Hong Kong to help celebrate the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, where he'll remain for three months.

Unlike Crush, Lucky doesn't talk. However, he does walk freely around the park, among the Guests.

This amazing nine-foot-tall reptile has a huge repertoire of behaviors - he can sneeze, wink, whimper, smile, laugh, bray - and even get the hiccups! Lucky's not a person in a dinosaur suit, and although a helper walks with him holding a stick for Lucky to grasp, he's not controlled by that helper.

Lucky and Crush are huge steps forward in the Disney tradition of creating compelling characters.

Starting with Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the birds of the Enchanted Tiki Room, characters who feel real have been a Disney hallmark. It's all part of the allure of a visit to a Disney theme park.

Says Joseph, "At Imagineering, we're always interested in pushing the envelope in terms of developing new and exciting ways to entertain Guests. We know that our Guests love our characters and want to be able to interact with them, and we think the work we're doing with ‘living characters' advances the bar. "Arthur Clarke said, years ago, ‘Technology sufficiently evolved is indistinguishable from magic,' and we're in that area with this show, I think." And the magic is what it's all about. EDITOR'S NOTE: IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE THE DISNEY PARKS HAVE VISIBLY UPGRADED THE MAGIC. I'M NOT COMPLAINING, BECAUSE I LOVE THE OLD STUFF. BUT TO STAY AHEAD OF THE ENTERTAINMENT-DOLLAR COMPETITION (THE DVDS AND VIDEOS AND ALL THE REST), THEY NEED TO BE TAKING SOME NEW, BIG STEPS IN THIS SORT OF DIRECTION. BRAVO IMAGINEERING!

Blu-Ray tipped to win DVD format battle
Forrester Research on Wednesday declared Blu-Ray, a new DVD format backed by a group led by Sony Corp as the winner in an increasingly heated battle over next-generation DVD technology. EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY. I THINK.

"Two groups are competing for control of high-definition DVD formats to be launched in the spring of 2006. After a long and tedious run up to launch, it is now clear to Forrester that the Sony-led Blu-ray format will win," said Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler in a report.

Earlier this month, Paramount Home Entertainment said it would release high-definition movies in the Blu-ray format.

Paramount, a film studio owned by Viacom Inc., had previously said it would release titles in a competing DVD format called HD DVD that is endorsed by a consortium of electronics makers including Toshiba Corp..

Paramount's move to also support Blu-ray was prompted by the failure of the two factions to join forces before players went on sale, industry sources have said.

Schadler said only one format can ultimately win in the market.EDITOR'S NOTE: DUH.

"Unless the HD-DVD group abandons the field, it will be another two years before consumers are confident enough of the winner to think about buying a new format DVD player. In the meantime, they will expand their video on-demand, downloadable video, and Internet viewing habits," he said.

Munchkins follow the red carpet to 'Oz'
DVD premiere The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences provided the setting for a special screening of the beloved 1939 musical Wednesday night.

The occasion celebrated the release of Warner Home Video's pair of deluxe-edition "Oz" DVD sets, which hit stores Tuesday.

In attendance at the event: Five surviving actors who portrayed those singing, dancing and diminutive Oz residents, the Munchkins. "There are only nine of the 124 Munchkins left," "Oz" expert John Fricke said. "These people weren't invited to the premiere in 1939. This is their night to howl." EDITOR'S NOTE: NO NO NO....THE FLYING MONKEYS 'HOWL'; MUNCHKINS....ERRR.....SING AND DANCE AND GIGGLE.

Boys' own Indy film adventure
Sophie Tedmanson19oct05
CHRIS Strompolos was 11 when he first fell in awe of Indiana Jones.

It was 1981 and Raiders of the Lost Ark had just been released in cinemas.

From the minute he saw the ruggedly handsome, whip and wise-cracking archeologist on the big screen, he wanted to don a fedora and leather jacket and embark on the same adventures: to battle Nazis, travel to Nepal and Cairo, run away from rolling boulders, even be afraid of snakes, just like Indy.

Raiders - starring Harrison Ford, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas - became an instant classic.

Set in 1936, it tells the story of an archeologist turned adventurer who is hired by the US government to search for the Ark of the Covenant, believed to hold the Ten Commandments, which is also being sought by the Nazis.

The film cemented Ford's stardom after his Star Wars role, made more than $US384million worldwide at the box office, and spawned two sequels (The Temple of Doom EDITOR'S NOTE: FEH. in 1984 and The Last Crusade EDITOR'S NOTE: HI DADDY! in 1989) and a television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, EDITOR'S NOTE:OOOO..AND HELLLOOOO, YOUNG INDY! which ran from 1992 to 1996.

"When I saw the film it just blew me away, I was so overtaken with the character of Indiana Jones," says Strompolos, 35, by phone from his Los Angeles home. "He was a real guy to me, he was accessible, he was an academic ... And he seemed such a well-crafted hero that I wanted nothing more than to inhabit that world, to get into the same sort of trouble - and get out of the same sort of trouble - that he did. And by golly I set out to do that."

Always the show-off in class, the slightly pudgy, dark-haired charmer decided he would re-create Raiders, shot by shot, scene by scene. It was an extraordinary and painstaking process that took Strompolos and his schoolfriends Eric Zala and Jayson Lamb seven years to complete. The project saw them through high school, the angst of puberty, the growth of chest hair and first girlfriends.

It all began on the school bus in small-town Mississippi, when Strompolos showed his Raiders of the Lost Ark comic book to Zala, an older boy, who was also a fan.

During their hour-long bus trips, Strompolos and Zala would discuss the idea of remaking their favourite movie and one day they decided to do something about it. They convened in the basement of Zala's house - a rambling old home built in 1918 - and hatched Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. Playing sound effects albums to get into the mood, the pair began adapting the script and drawing up storyboards.

They soon realised there was a lot more to making a film: props, special effects, make-up, and, oh yes, a camera.

They enlisted Lamb, another local kid, who had a penchant for magic tricks, art and hanging around haunted houses. He became the art department. With Strompolos acting the lead role and Zala directing, the film-making team was complete.

In 1981 there were no video stores in Mississippi, the internet didn't exist and home computers were in their infancy. So Strompolos and his crew set out to learn the basics of film-making: "We kind of just started organically," he says.

They worked mainly from memory - Strompolos estimates he saw the film 20 times in the local cinema, where he and Zala would takes notes and secretly record dialogue - using the comic book for reference.

Self-taught and learning by trial and error, the trio did receive some camera training - theirs was a "a chunky, loud, heavy, ridiculously inefficient old Betamax home video camera" - from a camerman at the local TV station where Strompolos's mother worked.

The other boys' mothers also helped: they chauffeured the trio around (for most of the shoot the boys weren't legally able to drive) and Zala's house became the official Raiders: The Adaptation headquarters.

"We transformed the entire home into one sound stage," Strompolos recalls. "Every room had stuff nailed to the walls and the ceilings, and we had rubber snakes, fire, sand, props, mud and just memorabilia everywhere, we really just dominated the house.

"Our mums were great. They were all single mums and supported us as much as they could. I mean, imagine if an 11-year-old approaches you and says: 'Hey Ma, I want to make Raiders of the Lost Ark."'

The boys paid for the film from their combined weekly pocket money and summer job wages: Strompolos estimates the film eventually cost about $US5000 to make. Props were found, essentials requested for Christmas and birthday presents.

Schoolmates and family were cast - Zala's younger brother Kurt eagerly played many of the extra roles - and a girl from Zala's church, Angela Rodriguez, was cast as Jones's love interest Marion Ravenwood. (In true Hollywood style Strompolos fell in love with his co-star and their on-screen kiss was also his first.) EDITOR'S NOTE: AWWW......SWEET.

Remarkably, the friendships survived the project. "I think that's one of the amazing variables about this whole saga, that the friendship actually managed to stay intact," Strompolos says.
"There were lots of arguments and lots of frustration, cursing, drama and disaster: it was not an easy process. But summer after summer, we all managed to come back to the same location and keep shooting ... not doing Raiders was not an option."

The film has taken on a life of its own. After it was finished, it lay dormant for a decade, apart from occasional screenings to friends. Then the movie website got hold of a copy and posted a glowing review. This led to Vanity Fair running a feature last March, which opened the floodgates.

After various stints in the music and video game business, among other things, the men are finally pursuing the careers they dreamed about as schoolchildren. Strompolos and Zala have formed a production company, Rolling Boulder Films (named after one of Raiders' most famous scenes).

Copyright laws mean they cannot profit directly from screening Raiders: The Adaptation, but they show it at film festivals and to schools as an education tool.

Last year, they were invited to screen the film at Lucas's Skywalker Ranch to many of the LucasFilm employees who worked on the original. Then, a month ago, Spielberg invited them to his office to see the outtakes and gag-reels of the original Raiders and chatted to them about movie-making. EDITOR'S NOTE: BETWEEN THIS AND SKYWALKER RANCH, WOULD YOU NOT BE OVER THE MOON?!

When Strompolos recalls meeting Spielberg, he sounds like the wide-eyed child in awe of Indiana Jones 24 years ago.

"Oh my god," he sighs. "It was just one of those things that you check off your life list of things to do. He was an amazing man, a very kind, very warm, very amicable man. And he gave us probably the greatest compliment that anyone could give. He said: 'Well boys, I watched your movie, and I watched it again, and I just wanted to let you know that it inspired even me.' I was like: 'Well, I could now die a happy man."'

The story of the project is being made into its own movie, written by comic book author turned screenwriter Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) and produced by Scott Rudin (The Truman Show, The Royal Tenenbaums).

Strompolos laughs at the bizarre turn of events. "The levels of circular reference here are just hysterical," he says. "But ours is a very unconventional story. People are constantly striving to figure out how to get their foot into Hollywood and I've worked my ass off in Los Angeles for many years ... [Yet it is what] I did when I was 11 years old that's opened the door to my career." EDITOR'S NOTE: KINDA GIVES YA GOOSEBUMPS, HUH? JUST GOES TO SHOW....YA NEVER KNOW. (THAT, AND HANGING OUT WITH INDIANA JONES IS NEVER A BAD THING).

Pullman attacks Narnia film plans
Author Philip Pullman has attacked plans to turn The Chronicles of Narnia into a movie series, calling CS Lewis' books "racist" and "misogynistic".

The first film in the series - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - is due to be released in December.

His Dark Materials author Pullman said the 1950s stories were "reactionary".

"If the Disney corporation wants to market this film as a great Christian story, they'll just have to tell lies about it," he told The Observer.

Successful adaptations
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the second and best-known novel in the seven-part Narnia book series.

The £62m movie version is expected to be the first of five films, following the success of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and ongoing Harry Potter film adaptations.

Evangelical Christian groups in the US have backed the movie, seeing parallels between CS Lewis' tales and Bible stories.

"We believe that God will speak the gospel of Jesus Christ through this film," Lon Allison, director of Illinois' Billy Graham Centre, told the newspaper. EDITOR'S NOTE: PEACHY. I'D LIKE A LITTLE PROSELYTIZING WITH MY POPCORN, PLEASE. (I HOPE I CAN STILL HEAR THE ACTORS WITH JESUS TALKING THROUGH THE FILM).

But Pullman said the Narnia books contained "a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice" and "not a trace" of Christian charity.

"It's not the presence of Christian doctrine I object to so much as the absence of Christian virtue," he added.

"The highest virtue - we have on the authority of the New Testament itself - is love, and yet you find not a trace of that in the books."

Pullman's acclaimed His Dark Materials trilogy tells of a battle against the church and a fight to overthrow God.

Attacked by some Christian teachers and Catholic press as blasphemous, Pullman's trilogy is also being made into a series of movies. EDITOR'S NOTE: I NEVER READ C.S. LEWIS. (I WAS CLEARLY NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE). I HAVE READ PULLMAN. INTERESTING STUFF, ALBEIT A TAD OVER-HYPED. (IMHO). BUT SOMEONE CERTAINLY TINKLED IN MR. P'S WHEATIES, HUH?

Friday Movie Dweebing

'Deja Vu' all over again with Scott
Tony Scott is returning to direct Walt Disney Studios' "Deja Vu," now that it appears the project will be able to film in New Orleans as originally planned.

The action thriller is being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Denzel Washington.

But its future had been in doubt since Scott left the project this month after its key location, New Orleans, was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. At the time, Scott cited logistical and scheduling reasons in withdrawing from the project. Sources familiar with the director's position said Scott was adamant about shooting in the city for creative reasons -- in part because the script called for a dock and ferry in key scenes

Eisner helms 'Lagoon' redo for Uni, Ross
Breck Eisner has been tapped to direct Universal Pictures' remake of "Creature From the Black Lagoon."

Gary Ross, whose father, Arthur Ross, was a writer on the 1954 original, is producing via his Larger Than Life banner.

Part of Universal's rich legacy of black-and-white monster movies, the original "Lagoon" followed a scientific expedition searching for fossils in the Amazon that discovers a prehistoric creature able to breathe underwater. The creature, named Gill-Man, terrorizes the group and falls in love with the fiancee of a member of the expedition. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO...IT'S A ROMANTIC COMEDY?

The studio began developing updates of its creature features after the success of 1999's "The Mummy." Ross wrote the current draft of the screenplay. Tedi Safarian also wrote a draft

Fanning set as lead voice in 'Coraline'
Dakota Fanning has signed on to voice the title character in Laika Entertainment's animated feature "Coraline."

Henry Selick ("Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas," "James and the Giant Peach") is writing and directing the film, based on the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman. Bill Mechanic will produce through his Pandemonium Films along with Laika's Mary Sandell.

The story centers on a young girl (Fanning) who discovers an alternate version of her life after walking through a secret door in her new home. On the surface, this parallel reality is similar to her real life, only much better. The adventure turns dangerous, however, when the girl's counterfeit parents try to keep her forever. EDITOR'S NOTE IF THE PARALLEL REALITY IS SO MUCH BETTER, WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM? (I WONDER IF I'M TALLER AND THINNER IN THAT OTHER UNIVERSE......)

WB redoing King's 'Creepshow'
"Creepshow," the 1982 horror anthology movie written by Stephen King and directed by George A. Romero, is getting the remake treatment.

Warner Bros. Pictures is developing the remake, which will be produced by Roy Lee and Doug Davison of Vertigo Entertainment along with Taka Ichise of OZ LA and Tony Ludwig. James Dudelson, the original rights holder, also is attached to produce.

Although in the original anthology the stories -- which were written in the old 1950s EC Comics style -- were unconnected, the plan is to structure the new movie a la "Go," where individual stories will have interconnected characters and situations

Cox is getting bigger
Looks like former “Friends” star Courteney Cox won’t have to take that second mortgage out on her hefty mansion after all.

The actress has been signed by Paramount to star in an untitled comedy that Cox and husband David Arquette will produce.

To be penned by Susan Walter, the film centers on a Southern socialite (Cox) whose daughter's transformation from little princess to street hip-hop dancer at first shatters her world, then gives the two common ground.

2006 might be Cox’s comeback year. She’s also in talks with the Weinstein’s to reprise her role as bitchy Gale Weathers in “Scream 4”, and is rumoured to be in negotiations to do a guest-spot on TV’s “Desperate Housewives”. EDITOR'S NOTE: OOO....FUN STUNT CASTING!

Friday Television Dweebing

ABC's 'Chief' commands full season
ABC has elected a full season for the new drama "Commander in Chief," ordering nine more episodes.

"Chief" is the most-watched new series of the fall season, averaging 16.5 million total viewers to lead its 9 p.m. Tuesday slot. While second in the hour in 18-49, "Chief" is still up 10% in that demo from last year's 9-10 p.m. combination of "According to Jim" and "Rodney."

Sci-Fi Puts on RING

The Sci Fi Channel has picked up the rigths to air Germany's most successful TV movie of 2004 -- RING OF NIBELUNGS. RING was loosely based on of the Germanic myth about the magic ring of the Nibelungs and the Nordic Volsunga Saga.

The movie stars Kristanna Loken, Alicia Witt and Benno Fuermann. It was directed by Uli Edel.

RING will air in the U.S. under the title DARK KINGDOM: THE DRAGON KING. EDITOR'S NOTE: GO FIGURE. THEY CHANGE THE NAME FROM SOMETHING SO CATCHY AND PRONOUNCEABLE AS NIBBBLELUGGERS? After it airs on TV, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the film on DVD.


ABC has order a full season of INVASION, by giving the go ahead for nine more episodes.

The series from creator Shaun Cassidy has shown solid numbers in it's time slot.

INVASION has been "averaging a 5.2 rating/13 share in the demo -- is a clear-cut winner, improving on its predecessors by nearly 40% in adults 18-49.

'Shield' for Harring; Hines 'Scrubs' in
Laura Harring is joining FX's "The Shield" in a recurring role for the police drama's upcoming fifth season.

In other TV casting news, Cheryl Hines has been tapped for a guest-starring spot on NBC's "Scrubs," also heading into its fifth season.

In "Shield," Harring will take on the role of attorney Becca Doyle, opposite series star Michael Chiklis. The news follows another recent addition to the show, a co-production of Fox Television Studios and Sony Pictures TV. Forest Whitaker recently signed on as a series regular, playing a detective in the Los Angeles Police Department's Internal Affairs division.

Weaver back with 'Gorillas' in Fossey docu
Nearly 20 years after she starred as anthropologist Dian Fossey in 1988's "Gorillas in the Mist," Sigourney Weaver will return to the mountains of Rwanda for the Animal Planet documentary "Gorillas Revisited With Sigourney Weaver."

The hourlong special, slated to debut in June, will recount Fossey's transformation from researcher to conservation activist to her 1985 murder, which remains unsolved.

The special will be produced by BBC Natural History Unit for Animal Planet

LACKLUSTER network NBC, still in search of a hit after the end of "Friends" two years ago, is turning to some stark subject matter to get it new viewers. EDITOR'S NOTE: YEAH...CAUSE REALLY DEPRESSING STUFF ALWAYS ATTRACTS A BIG CROWD?

The struggling net has quietly turned to writer/director Paul Haggis, writer of such dark dramas as "Crash" and "Million Dollar Baby," to create a hard-boiled series called "The Black Donnellys." EDITOR'S NOTE: ON THE ONE HAND, HAGGIS ROCKS. ON THE OTHER HAND, HAS NBC LOOKED AT HIS TRACK RECORD? HE DOES EXCELLENT STUFF THAT I'M USUALLY THE ONLY ONE WATCHING. ("DUE SOUTH", "EZ STREETS")

Currently filming the pilot on location around the city, "The Black Donnellys" follows the exploits of four present-day Irish street thugs and their involvement in organized crime in the once-notorious Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in the West 40s.

The Irish hoods "somehow end up taking on the Mafia and going to war with the Italians," Haggis, who is Canadian, told the Edmonton Sun.

The dealings of the mob are nothing new for the writer — he created the critically acclaimed (and quickly canceled) CBS series "EZ Streets," the story of two mobsters and a detective searching for the killer of his partner. That series was recently cited by the New York Times as one of the most influential of all time, saying, "without 'EZ Streets,' there would be no 'Sopranos.'

Haggis borrowed the title for the new show from a real family that was massacred in southwestern Ontario in 1880. The original Black Donnellys, Irish immigrants who are still considered Canada's most notorious family, were killed by a vigilante committee over a land dispute.

The needy network has given Haggis, who won two Emmys for his work on "Thirtysomething," carte blanche to create what he wants, no matter how edgy.

"They've given me complete freedom," Haggis told the Edmonton paper, referring to NBC suits eager to find a hit show.

And tough-minded Haggis may be the one to make it happen. The obsessively dedicated director actually had a heart attack during the filming of "Crash" and returned to the set a mere two weeks later, refusing to let anyone else finish his film. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK....DEDICATION GOOD. BUT TAKING IT TOO FAR PERHAPS?

"We have great respect for Paul and his work," an NBC Universal spokeswoman said, "and letting creatives create." EDITOR'S NOTE: ISN'T THAT A NIFTY CONCEPT? WHAT ARE THE CHANCES NBC WILL STICK WITH WHEN THE BIG RATINGS DON'T RUSH IN?

NBC Wants Its Old Favorite Night Back
NBC, which used to own Thursday night lock, stock and barrel, now finds itself wearing the barrel on Thursdays.

The night that defined NBC's dominance in prime-time television for two decades is now a CBS principality, with that network finally winning the 10 p.m. hour in the Eastern and Pacific time zones among the only audience that NBC cares about - adults between the ages of 18 and 49 - with its crime drama "Without a Trace" edging past the most potent drama of the past decade, "ER."

For NBC, this ultimate defeat on Thursday may be the spur to action. Its executives have been thrashing over possible changes on the night, including a return to a Thursday comedy block.

That would almost certainly involve the risky move of transferring the comedy "My Name Is Earl," NBC's bright spot this season, from Tuesday to Thursday, perhaps as early as January. Kevin Reilly, the president of NBC Entertainment, asked about moving "Earl," said, "Anything is possible at this point."

Last season NBC lost the overall Thursday audience in every ratings category for the first time since it began broadcasting "The Cosby Show" in 1984. But "ER" remained a winner in its time period. This season CBS has extended its dominance to every single half-hour - while NBC clings to second place. EDITOR'S NOTE: I HEAR "ER" IS STILL PRETTY GOOD. BUT I BET I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO TIRED OF IT A WHILE AGO. HERE'S A THOUGHT...INSTEAD OF REARRANGING THE DECK CHAIRS ON THE 'TITANIC', HOW ABOUT COMING UP WITH SOME NEW SHOWS THAT ARE AS GOOD AS WHAT'S ON THE OTHER NETS? (JUST A THOUGHT.....)

The significance of winning Thursday night is all about money. It is, by far, the biggest night for television advertising because many advertisers who need to do big weekend business - starting with movie companies, but also including car companies and fast food restaurants - will pay a premium to reach viewers on Thursday night, the last big night of television before the weekend starts.

Leslie Moonves, the CBS chief executive, said last spring that taking control of Thursday would mean hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenues for his network. Yesterday he said that strategy had paid off with CBS adding about $400 million more in revenues this year. "Who would have ever believed we would be winning every half-hour on Thursday nights?" Mr. Moonves said in a telephone interview. EDITOR'S NOTE: GLOATING. NOT PRETTY.

The current NBC lineup - "Joey, "Will & Grace," "The Apprentice" and ER"- has slid precipitously this fall. Now NBC is almost compelled to act. The questions are when, and with what?

"I never intended to stand pat for the whole season with what we had," Mr. Reilly said in a phone interview Tuesday. "Upgrading Thursday night remains the No. 1 priority for the network. It's definitely on the front burner."

Mr. Reilly did not want to tip his hand about the network's potential changes,but he conceded that moving "My Name Is Earl" has to be considered, especially if NBC intends to rebuild Thursday with a block of comedies, always its strength in the good old days.

"Earl," the new comedy that stars Jason Lee as a onetime petty criminal setting out to right all the wrongs of his earlier days, has surprised many in the industry by breaking out as an instant hit on Tuesday nights. Remarkably, "My Name Is Earl" is already the top-rated comedy on television with that 18-to-49 audience.

NBC is accustomed to having television's highest-rated comedy, but in the past it has always been on a Thursday night. That, of course is feeding the speculation that NBC will move the show there.

But any move of a new show is always a risk, and the ratings for "Earl," while impressive, still seem a bit fragile to some, especially NBC's competitors. Mr. Reilly acknowledged the risk. "You can oftentimes make a move and trade down," he said.

And comedies usually have to be judged in pairs. NBC is getting mixed results from "The Office," the show now paired with "Earl." It does extremely well with the youngest part of the audience, those up to 35, but loses a lot of the upper end of the under-50 group. "The Office" did tick up in the ratings this week. NBC also has three new comedies in production, and if one looks especially promising it could try to pair one with "Earl" on Thursdays.

Of course, the network has to decide which shows to replace. "Joey" has seemingly failed as the 8 p.m. entry, though NBC executives note that it still holds onto a core audience. Putting "My Name Is Earl" at 9 means displacing "The Apprentice," which has tailed off further this season, though it still draws a much better than average rating from 9 to 10 against television's most popular show, "CSI" on CBS. And "The Apprentice" retains the most affluent audience in prime time.

Mr. Moonves said, "Those 'Apprentice' numbers are still good; I'd take Donald Trump right now."

NBC has two natural breaks this season when it could at least experiment with Thursday. The first is in January when networks often introduce new shows. That month CBS will have to use some temporary program on Thursday at 8 because its hit, "'Survivor," has about a six-to-eight-week break between its two seasonal editions.

But this season NBC will also have a whole month, February, devoted to the Winter Olympics, so all its shows can be rested then. Presumably it would not want to start a new edition of "The Apprentice" in late January and then pre-empt it for four weeks of sports.

So NBC has an opportunity to try "My Name Is Earl" at either 8 or 9 p.m. on Thursdays, starting in January. That timing has an added benefit. It would mean "Earl" could avoid the invasion of what has been an overpowering ratings force on Tuesdays, "American Idol" on Fox.
That show will return in January with a two-hour edition on a Tuesday night. After that, Fox executives have said, they are likely to add some special 90-minute editions of "Idol" on Tuesdays later in its run. All of those would spill over against "Earl," all but assuring that NBC's ratings would plunge on those nights.

If NBC really wants to get out of the barrel on Thursday nights, the time may be January, and the catapult is the show "My Name Is Earl."

Saturday night is dead
How do you attract viewers to 'loneliest night of the week'?

NEW YORK (AP) -- The state of network television on Saturday nights has become so dire that ABC has essentially put a prime-time slot up for auction to anyone who has a compelling idea -- as long as it's done very cheaply.

ABC has put the word out to Hollywood producers that a Saturday night home is available to a program that can be made for no more than $500,000 an episode, which is about a quarter of what the traditional comedy or drama costs.

"Because it's Saturday night, they're willing to try things that they wouldn't try at midweek," said Jeff Bader, ABC's head of scheduling. EDITOR'S NOTE: HEY GANG, LET'S PUT ON A TV SHOW! (I'D BE WILLING TO KEEP PRODUCTION COSTS DOWN TO 250K, AND POCKET THE OTHER 250!)

Saturday has become the forgotten night for broadcasters, who aren't entirely sure what to do there anymore. They just know it's not worth spending much to seek an audience that clearly has other plans.

"It's the loneliest night of the week for network television and television in general," said Mitch Metcalf, NBC's executive vice president for scheduling.

Except for occasional specials, CBS's "48 Hours Mysteries" is the only original Saturday night program on ABC, CBS and NBC this season. Fox has run "COPS" and "America's Most Wanted" on Saturday for years; the WB and UPN don't broadcast.

Viewers with long memories know it wasn't always this way. "Gunsmoke," "Perry Mason," "Mission: Impossible," "Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," "Golden Girls" and "Touched By an Angel" are among the classic series shown on Saturdays.

You could make a strong argument that during the early 1970s, CBS on Saturday night had the single best night of prime-time TV ever: "All in the Family," "M*A*S*H," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "The Bob Newhart Show" and "The Carol Burnett Show."

Saturday night -- date night -- was never the most popular night for TV. But the decline in Saturday viewership caught momentum with the advent of cable television, particularly when HBO scheduled its showcase movies then. The popularity of home videos and DVDs gave viewers still more options, said David Poltrack, chief researcher at CBS.

Since 2000, Saturday night network TV viewership has dropped 39 percent, compared to 16 percent for the seven nights in total, according to Nielsen Media Research.

'By Saturday, that ship has sailed'

So far this season, the four networks combined average 23.1 million viewers on Saturday, or less than a typical episode of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" or "Desperate Housewives" get on other nights.

Along with viewers, advertisers who are increasingly adept at targeting an audience are shying away from Saturdays, Metcalf said.

"They want to get their messages out before the weekend starts, before people make their purchasing decisions for the weekend," he said. "By Saturday, that ship has sailed."

Lately, it's a classic chicken-or-egg argument: Are the viewers fleeing because the networks aren't offering much, or are the networks abandoning Saturdays because they sense viewers' lack of interest? EDITOR'S NOTE: YES.

Networks began dialing back early this decade. Saturday became "movie night," but even that rarely works because people are impatient watching movies clogged with commercials. With shows like "The District" and "Hack," CBS bragged two years ago that it was the only network still in business on Saturday, but that didn't last.

Now it's mostly reruns.

"I'd like to think we all tried," said Kelly Kahl, head of CBS's scheduling department. "We held out probably a little longer. But the choices at some point just become overwhelming."

CBS wraps its reruns in a nice bow: two hours it calls "Crimetime Saturday." It airs episodes of procedural dramas like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and gets about the same modest ratings as it did with original shows, and even does better among young viewers, Poltrack said. As a result, the network now makes a nice profit on a night where it used to lose money.

Besides movies and NASCAR races, NBC has found Saturday to be a comfortable home for its "Law & Order" franchise. This year it has taken a cue from HBO and is using the night to give viewers a second chance to catch on with its new series. A week ago, NBC ran three straight episodes of "My Name is Earl," and has also showcased "Surface."

"People's lives are so busy and there are so many new shows to watch," Metcalf said. "They key is to pick shows that are showing signs of growth, or that people are talking about and there are good reviews."

For the past few weeks, ABC has given fans of "Lost" a second chance to keep up with that story. It has also aired repeats of "Invasion" and "Commander in Chief." A combination of movies and repeats will fill out the season, Bader said.

'Fresh apple pie'

As the force behind Saturday's island of original programming, "48 Hours Mysteries" executive producer Susan Zirinsky said she's happy to be scheduled there. How many times, she said, have you been home on a Saturday night and surfed aimlessly through the channels looking for something new?

"We're promising a fresh apple pie at 10 o'clock," she said. EDITOR'S NOTE: EST.

They're also experimenting with new storytelling approaches. Often, the first five minutes of her show -- which usually feature true-crime mysteries -- don't feature reporters or any indication that its a news program. The idea is to hook viewers on stories compatible with the dramas they've just been watching.

Experimentation, along the lines of what ABC is planning, might be the only other recourse on Saturday nights. Why can't the networks try out pilots of new shows, even ones executives have rejected, to see if something draws some interest?

ABC has set no boundaries for the suggestions it seeks: the shows could be reality, scripted, news, sports, whatever, Bader said.

"We use the summer to experiment," he said. "Well, Saturday can be our summer every week."

Fox Develops High-Profile Projects
Fox is beefing up its 2006 development slate with some high-profile projects. EDITOR'S NOTE: 2006? EEK. AND WE'RE ONLY JUST DEALING WITH ALL THE NEW STUFF FROM THIS SEASON!

First among them is one from Ashton Kutcher titled 30-Year-Old Grandpa.

Produced through Kutcher's production company, Katalyst Television, with Katalyst partners Jason Goldberg and former NBC exec Karey Burke, the half-hour comedy centers on a young man who marries an older woman with kids nearly the age of her new husband.

Fox also made a pilot commitment for an unscripted project from Katalyst that, like ABC's Supernanny, doles out advice to parents with teens. Hence the title Parenteen.

Also from Katalyst is an untitled drama for Fox about a young couple, both of whom have extremely large families.

Another Fox comedy is Genetically Challenged, about a young man who tries to discard traits handed down by his parents. Produced by Warner Bros. TV, the series is from Two and Half Men exec producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum and written by Steve Leff.

In other development news, ABC has made a pilot commitment for the half-hour comedy A Day in the Life. From King of Queens showrunners Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, the unconventional sitcom will focus the entire season on one day in a young couple's life.EDITOR'S NOTE: DO EITHER OF THEM WORK FOR A HIGH-PROFILE ANTI-TERRORIST UNIT? CAUSE OTHERWISE, I'M NOT THINKIN SPENDING ALL DAY WITH A YOUNG COUPLE IS GONNA BE PARTICULARLY INTERESTING. (ALTHOUGH, THIS TAKES INTO ACCOUNT MY INHERENT BITTERNESS ABOUT COUPLES SPECIFICALLY, AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN GENERAL).

WB Revamps Prime Time
The WB is rearranging its prime-time schedule, beginning Friday, Oct. 21, when it will pull its 9:30 p.m. sitcom Living with Fran from the lineup, move freshman sitcom Twins from 8:30 p.m. to that timeslot and air a repeat episode of its 8 p.m. sitcom What I Like About You at 8:30.EDITOR'S NOTE: ALL TIMES EST.

Starting Oct. 23, the network will now air a repeat episode of freshman drama Supernatural at 9 p.m. on Sundays, replacing sketch comedy Blue Collar TV.

The WB will air first-run episodes of freshman drama Related at 9 p.m. on Monday nights, beginning Oct. 31, replacing the previously cancelled Just Legal, and will air repeat episodes of Related on Wednesdays at 9 p.m., the show's original time period.

The WB also revamped its Sunday 5-7 p.m. "Easy View" repeat lineup, with Charmed at 5 p.m., What I Like About You at 6 p.m. and Twins at 6:30 p.m.

The network has nine episodes of Blue Collar TV that it says it will air later this season, along with eight episodes of Living With Fran. The network said it is moving Twins to lead out of its highest rated Friday sitcom Reba to try to build an audience for the freshman sitcom.EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. WHAT A LOUSY LINE-UP OF BAD TV. HARD TO BELIEVE THEY EVEN BOTHERED TO CANCEL "JUST LEGAL".

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A few more HOT dweeb items


Guess Who's back on Alias?
With “Alias” struggling in the TV ratings, fans of the series will be pleased to hear that Michael Vartan has returned to the show.

Vartan’s character, Vaughn, was killed off in the first episode of the year, but apparently they’ve worked out a way for the actor that played him to return, says TV Guide.

Vartan returned to the set yesterday to film more episodes of the spy series. No word on who he’s playing. EDITOR'S NOTE: HE'D BETTER BE BACK FOR THE DURATION, AND THEY'D BETTER HAVE HIM END UP WITH SYDNEY. (OR...UMM...ELSE).

Waters put on 'Death' watch by Court TV

Court TV is trying its first original scripted series, ordering a pilot for a murder-mystery anthology featuring filmmaker John Waters. EDITOR'S NOTE: YES...THAT JOHN WATERS.

The cable channel expects to order 12 more episodes of " 'Til Death Do Us Part," which will dramatize real-life cases of spousal murder.

Waters will take on a regular role as the "Groom Reaper" in "Death," setting the story for the viewer from his vantage point as a guest at the tragic couple's wedding, where each episode begins.

Shooting in New York this month, "Death" will begin airing in the first quarter in Court TV's primetime entertainment block, which previously was filled with unscripted fare including "Forensic Files" and "Psychic Detectives." But seeing how "Psychic" influenced hit dramas like NBC's "Medium" helped persuade the network to take a chance on scripted series.

Carter's not signed for X-Files movie
Frank Spotnitz, producer of “The X Files”, dropped in on a podcast over at TV Guide and offered an update on the long-planned “X Files” movie.

My deal is done, David and Gillian’s deal is done, and Chris Carter’s is not. I don’t know why it’s taking so long. It seems like it’s been a stalemate for many, many months”.

He continued, “Chris and I have a story, which is kinda dusty now – it’s been a while since we broke it and pitched it to the studio, and I remain hopeful that whatever is holding things up will get resolved and we’ll still do it”. EDITOR'S NOTE: HURRY HURRY HURRY. (AS IT IS, WE WILL ALL HAVE TO ATTEND REMEDIAL PICK-UP CLASSES IN XFILES MYTHOLOGY TO BE ABLE TO TRACK ANY MOVIE THEY MAKE AT THIS POINT)

Ron Perlman is the new Conan
Arnold Schwarzenegger not available? Get Ron Perlman!

Well, not normally (Arnie’s got bigger pecs and less hair), but in the case of a “Conan” cartoon – as long as the voice fits, why not?

The “Hellboy” star will voice the Barbarian in "Conan: Red Nails," the first animated film featuring the mythic barbarian, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Perlman joins Marg Helgenberger, James Marsden , Clancy Brown, Cree Summer and voice-over veteran Mark Hamill for the film. EDITOR'S NOTE: LUKE SKYWALKER ROCKS!

The film will be directed by Victor Dal Chele, with a screenplay by Steve Gold and Timothy Dolan. Gold and Jonathan Bogner are producing.

Still no word on that rumoured live-action “Conan” movie – which Robert Rodriguez was linked to at one stage – but if the toon hits big and the DVD sales go off, then chances are the big guy will be gracing a multiplex screen sooner rather than later.

Shatner examined after back complaint
"Boston Legal" star William Shatner was taken to a hospital from the set of the ABC series Tuesday after complaining of lower back pain, a spokeswoman said.

Shatner had completed filming for the day at the Manhattan Beach studio when the problem occurred, series publicist Stacey Luchs said. He was being checked out at a nearby hospital but had not been admitted by early Tuesday evening, she said.

The expectation was that he would return to work Wednesday, Luchs said.

The actor, who played Captain Kirk in the original "Star Trek" series, received an Emmy Award last month for his portrayal of attorney Denny Crane on the ABC series. It was his second Emmy for playing the character, who was first introduced on ABC's "The Practice

Breaking Harry Potter News (WEDNESDAY edition)

Dolores Umbridge cast for OOTP movie
Imelda Staunton appeared today on ITV's "This Morning" show and confirmed that she will indeed play the part of Professor Dolores Umbridge in HP 5.
She also said that she has not yet received a script and will begin work on the film next year.
New Emma scans
Here are scans from the Girls' Life Outtakes by Jason Joyce:

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Wondeful World of New Technology


Now Playing on a Tiny Screen
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 - When Eric Young directed his first episodes for the cellphone serial drama "24: Conspiracy," it was the bullet holes that vexed him most. Mr. Young, hired to create 24 one-minute mobile episodes for a spinoff of the hit series "24," learned that making video for a pocket-size screen is far different from making it for a 27-inch television set. EDITOR'S NOTE: AHEM...OR BIGGER.....(NOT THAT SIZE MATTERS. SNICKER).

About 70 percent of the images he used were close-ups of actors, because panoramic shots appeared blurry. He said he used tiny speakers to hear what "the sound of a neck cracking" would be like on a cellphone after one of the episode's characters died from a snapped vertebra.

But for gunshot wounds, the director was forced to make the bullet holes extra large and to double the amount of blood so they could be easily identified on the small screen.

"We are all experimenting to see what works," Mr. Young said. "Every new medium finds its own way and rules. It will be true for this one, too."

In the past year, media companies have begun experimenting with broadcasting original programming made specifically for mobile phones to increase awareness of their television shows and movies. And interest in such programming may grow further: last week, Apple introduced a video iPod, which, while not a mobile phone, is another test of consumers' interest in portable entertainment.

So far, efforts by media companies are modest, limited largely to games, ring tones and wallpaper. But interest is growing, particularly in "mobisodes," short series that are already popular abroad.

In the United States, the News Corporation has been at the forefront, creating "24: Conspiracy," based on a 20th Century Fox Television serial; another serial based on "The Simple Life," a reality show that starred Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie; and two other serial dramas not tied to television shows. But other entertainment companies are entering the fray, focusing on comedy and animated shorts.

The MTV Networks division of Viacom is developing "Samurai Love God," an animated series that will be introduced on mobile telephones in February. It has described the series as "Austin Powers meets Akira Kurosawa," referring to the popular film character and the Japanese director. The Walt Disney Company, which has created made-for-mobile serials in Japan since 2002, has begun developing animated shorts based on non-Disney characters.

And Warner Brothers, a Time Warner unit, is in talks with several mobile phone companies to distribute an animated short series based on the comic books created by Seth Cohen, the aspiring comic book writer who is played by the actor Adam Brody on the hit show "The O.C."

"This is going to be a situation where we all try a bunch of different things because we are trying to figure out what is the right business model," said Kevin Tsujihara, an executive vice president of Warner Brothers Entertainment. "It will take time to evolve."

Greg Clayman, vice president of wireless strategy and operations at MTV Networks, added: "There are a lot of interesting things that are not being done yet. But we are taking the first steps."

Indeed, many entertainment executives compare mobile's expanding market for video to the Internet five years ago - promising, but only if media companies figure out how to make money.

It is unclear, too, how willing Americans will be to watch longer programs on a small device.

Mobisodes are more common among teenagers in Europe and Asia, largely because the advanced technology makes it easier for them to be viewed. And much of the original video programming now being produced is short - less than five minutes - and derived from youth-oriented television properties.

"Marketers thought they lost out on the Internet, and they don't want to lose out on mobile phones, too," said Linda Barrabee, a senior analyst for wireless mobile communications at the Yankee Group, a research firm in Boston. "There is a lot of interest on the part of studios to do something different in mobile."

Ms. Barrabee places the number of mobile video viewers at about 500,000 in the United States, a tiny number given that there are 193.6 million mobile phone subscribers. To watch video now, consumers must own a phone with video capabilities and pay a service fee to receive broadcasts. A Yankee Group survey found that only 1 percent of those who subscribe to video service on their cellphones watch it monthly. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THOSE FIND THAT THEY ARE RUNNING INTO THINGS OR FALLING DOWN A LOT CAUSE THEY ARE SO BUSY STARING AT THEIR PHONE THAT THEY DON'T WATCH WHERE THEY ARE GOING?

Entertainment executives are not the only ones hoping to extend brand names. Cellphone makers are, too. At the Toronto International Film Festival recently, Motorola sponsored a mobile movie category. And last month, the mobile phone maker Nokia and one of Taiwan's largest telecommunications company, Chunghwa Telecom, said they would organize a mobile film festival as part of a promotion for Chunghwa's advanced wireless service in Taiwan, known as third generation.

So far, Fox has been the most active promoter of mobisodes. Lucy Hood, president of Fox Mobile Entertainment, said she decided to pursue the idea in February 2004 after hearing that cellphone companies were gearing up to introduce third-generation wireless service. She suggested that Fox create a video pilot for "Sunset Hotel," a 26-episode serial of one-minute episodes based on characters living in a hotel. The pilot had its debut at industry conferences last year and was well received.

Instead of just running edited versions of previously aired television shows, Ms. Hood said Fox sought to produce original content. Fox did create a 26-episode serial based on "The Simple Life," deriving the twice-weekly mobisodes from extra footage from the reality series. The episodes, introduced in March, were sold for 99 cents each, and Ms. Hood said consumers who bought them purchased three, on average.

By mid-2004, Fox was in production on two original series, including "Sunset Hotel" and "Love and Hate."

"We were flying a little blind," said the producer, Daniel Tibbets. The first episode of "Love and Hate," he said, "looked like a trailer" and was edited four times. As a result Fox devised the format for a minute-long story arc that started with a conflict, continued with dialogue and ended with a cliffhanger to entice viewers to watch the next episode.

It was the same format Fox used in making "24: Conspiracy." After getting the go-ahead from the producers of "24" less than a year ago, the creators of the series shot the episodes digitally over three days, Ms. Hood said. Fox also tested how best to send files to Vodafone, the cellphone carrier in the United Kingdom where the weekly mobisodes began last Jan. 13, at the same time as the opening episode of the fourth season of "24."

"24: Conspiracy" did not feature "24's" cast or story line. Instead, Fox hired nonunion actors to keep the cost for the serial under $500,000. "With television, one of the things you have to deal with is the guild and union issues, and we said, 'Go ahead and do this nonunion and on the cheap,' " said Joel Surnow, a producer of "24." "It is not a '24' thing." EDITOR'S NOTE: OOO. I BET THE UNIONS (AND THE CAST OF "24") LOVED IT WHEN THEY HEARD ABOUT THIS, HUH?!

Mr. Surnow said he was not concerned that the mobisodes might hurt the "24" brand name.

"In a minute, how bad could it be?" he said. Besides, he suggested, few consumers would abandon television for the really small screen. "At the end of the day, my 14-year-old may play with her phone," he said, "but she will sit down for an hour and watch the 'Gilmore Girls.' "

After the debut of "24: Conspiracy" in the United Kingdom (where the series sold for $10.60), that show, along with "Sunset Hotel" and "Love and Hate," appeared in the United States as part of the Vcast video service from Verizon Wireless.

Ms. Hood said that "24: Conspiracy" and "The Simple Life" were three times as popular as the two dramas not tied to television shows.

Now, Fox is in early discussions on a serial tied to "Prison Break," a new television series. Ms. Hood said Fox had learned three things in its early experiments: short mobisodes are better, consumers want brand-name actors and episodes should be frequent - more than once a week.

If actors begin demanding movie star salaries, using them in mobisodes could be a challenge. In the wake of last week's video iPod announcement, for instance, five Hollywood unions called on television producers to begin discussions about how members would be compensated for shows transmitted on portable devices.

Still, one thing is almost certain, Ms. Hood said: It is unlikely that actors or directors will have their mobile series canceled midseason. "I told my boss we are the leading supplier of mobisodes," she said. "We have 100 minutes in the can!"


CBS To Distribute Via iTunes
by Gavin O'Malley, Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005 6:00 AM EST
CBS WILL DISTRIBUTE ITS FREE podcasts, from "60 Minutes" to the long-running soap "Guiding Light," on Apple's iTunes Music Store, CBS Digital President Larry Kramer said Monday. The extensive suite of CBS podcasts includes news, entertainment, and sports programming on television, radio, and CBS Digital media sites including,, and CBS

The content can now be accessed from the iTunes Podcast Directory, as well as CBS Digital media sites, and will be highlighted in customized iTunes pages promoting the full offering of CBS podcasts for each respective CBS Digital Media property.

Other audio offerings include CBS's public affairs show, "Face The Nation;" "Survivor Live," which focuses on "Survivor: Guatemala;" the soap opera roundup "CBS Soapbox;" "NFL Hot Topic;" and "Fantasy Football: Roster Trends."

As is standard practice with podcasts, once users subscribe to a particular show, iTunes will automatically check to see when there are new episodes, and download them onto the users' computers, so they may then sync them to their iPods.

In his announcement, Kramer did not address the question on everyone's minds: When will CBS begin distributing more than audio content to Apple? The company, of course, just last week debuted a new iPod, which can play streaming video. On the same day, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs announced a deal with Disney to offer five of its premiere television shows, including "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives," through iTunes. Has Talent Spin Blogging Marketing Support
by Wayne Friedman, Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005 7:00 AM EST
CBS.COM WILL HAVE ITS STARS, writers, and producers do some extra marketing spin by offering up weekly blogs for a number of CBS' prime-time shows. is now featuring blogs from "CSI: Miami," "Survivor: Guatemala," "How I Met Your Mother," and "Ghost Whisperer."

In the coming weeks, will unveil blogs for "Threshold," "NCIS," and "The Amazing Race: Family Edition."

Larry Kramer, president of CBS Digital Media, said in a release: "We're confident these blogs will help drive traffic to our sites, while also increasing the visibility of these series on a whole new platform--and build an even stronger relationship with the viewers."

For instance, "The Ghost Whisperer" co-executive producer and famed medium James Van Praagh writes a blog providing behind-the-scenes information and goings-on in the spirit world.
And for "Survivor: Guatemala," the whole cast of contestants will contribute, analyzing the action and game strategy in Guatemala. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK, BUT ARE THESE TRUE BLOGS? OR JUST PR MALARKY GHOST-WRITTEN (NO "GHOST WHISPERER" PUN INTENDED; THE SHOW TAKES ITSELF MUUUUUUCH TOO SERIOUSLY FOR PUNNING) BY SOME CBS PUBLICITY HACK?

Going Digital In 2009 Means Chaos For TV Customers, Research Groups Say
by Wayne Friedman, Tuesday, Oct 18, 2005 7:00 AM EST

TWO TV AND MEDIA RESEARCH groups warn that the Federal government's push for digital television by the year 2009 will wreak havoc with TV customers.

Research companies Points North Group and Horowitz Associates say a proposed U.S. Senate digital TV bill, which would terminate analog TV service in 2009, could mean a backlash from consumers. EDITOR'S NOTE: WE CAN'T SEEM TO GET OUR BLOOD STIRRED BY A PRESIDENT WHO LIES TO US AND THEN SENDS US INTO WAR, BUT BY HEAVENS YOU'D BETTER NOT MESS WITH OUR FREE TV!!!

The researchers say 55 percent of TV homes, which have cable, have no digital signal--and have no intention of getting it.

In U.S. homes, while the primary TV set may be connected to a digital set-top box, second and third TV sets in the home don't have digital set-top boxes. Instead, those TVs get cable signals directly from coaxial cables that run into homes. The research group says this represents about 67 percent--or 180 million television sets--in the United States.

"Who is going to pay for the extra box that you are going to need?" asks Spencer Wolpin, senior analyst of Points North Group. "Will the cable company be forced to give you a box?" EDITOR'S NOTE: YOU MEAN TIME WARNER ISN'T A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION? (BATTING EYELASHES....)

The bipartisan bill was conceived because of emergency facilities that failed in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies. Federal administrators are pushing to give all analog TV signals--ones that broadcasters currently use--to these emergency services because this spectrum is more robust, and won't fail in times of emergencies.

This was designed in reaction to the events that occurred on 9/11, when radio signals were too weak to alert emergency workers--which would have directed them to quickly exit crumbling World Trade Center buildings. Digital signals will be given free to the private sector. But Wolpin says not all broadcasters are ready to spend the money to abandon analog and switch to digital--especially in a short three-year time span, according to the bill's time frame. EDITOR'S NOTE: SEE CONGRESS MANDATED THIS IN A SORT OF VAGUE, 'MAKE IT HAPPEN' KIND OF WAY. TERRIBLY EFFECTIVE. (KINDA LIKE THAT "LEAVE NO CHILD BEHIND" THING).

From a point of view where Republicans typically let the marketplace decide, this bill baffles analysts. "It's surprising the Republican administration is forcing these changes," said Wolpin. The bill has a lot of weight behind it because of its bipartisan effort. The bill's sponsors are Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). The bill also has major support from Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona).

Cable operators could be adding to the confusion. Right now, 25 percent of cable subscribers have digital set-top boxes, said Wolpin. But while cable operators claim digital is the future, he says, companies are still giving customers analog set-top boxes. Says Wolpin: "It stuns me, from a business point of view, that they are still doing this."EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT TIME WARNER IN HOUSTON. I HAD TWO BOXES, AND ONE WAS DIGITAL AND ONE ANALOG (I DID THIS ON PURPOSE FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS), AND TIME WARNER MADE ME GIVE UP THE ANALOG BOX. (WELL....I GUESS I COULD HAVE KEPT IT, BUT THEY WERE CEASING TO SEND ANY SIGNALS TO IT).