FIRST UP, A SMALL SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE?
A&E Shoots For New Program Franchise: Rock, Paper, Scissors
PROVING JUST HOW FAR CABLE can narrowcast in an increasingly niche television world, A&E Wednesday said it would build its next big programming franchise around the childhood game of rock, paper, scissors. EDITOR'S NOTE: NO, I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP. HONEST.
Planning a tongue-in-cheek approach, of course, A&E also announced that a decidedly un-childhood marketer, Anheuser-Busch, would sponsor a grassroots marketing effort built around the USA Rock Paper Scissors League's national tournament to crown the country's best RPS player. EDITOR'S NOTE: THERE'S A LEAGUE! (AND BEER SEEMS THE PERFECT AD TIE-IN, HUH?)
The USA Rock Paper Scissors League--newly formed as a marketing vehicle--is holding a series of competitions in bars nationwide, giving A&E and Bud Light an opportunity to reach young adults through on-site exposure. The regional battles start this month.
Then, later this spring, cable network A&E will air the national finals from Las Vegas in a one-hour special. Bud Light will receive significant exposure within the broadcast, with A&E selling the ad time. Some 250 finalists will compete with a $50,000 prize at stake.
Rock Paper Scissors is often used among youngsters as a good-natured way to settle a dispute. Participants surreptitiously make hand motions signifying whether they choose a rock, paper or scissors. In a one-on-one battle, rock beats scissors, paper beats rock and scissors tops paper.
The USARPS is the brainchild of promoters Matti Leshem and Andrew Golder. Leshem, a branded entertainment executive involved in the WB show Pepsi "Play for a Billion," got the idea of turning the backyard game into a marketing opportunity when he saw it being played competitively in Canada. EDITOR'S NOTE: I'M THINKING THE 'BRAINSTORMING' SESSION INVOLVED DRINKS?
New SUPER DVDs in the Works
The Superman Homepage has reported Time Warner is working on new DVDs of the five SUPERMAN films released between 1978 and 1987.
Ilya Salkind, who co-produced the first three SUPERMAN films, SUPERGIRL, and the SUPERBOY television series, confirmed that he is indeed working with Michael Thau, the Producer and Restoration Supervisor on the 2001 Special Edition of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, and others who've been retained by Time Warner to produce new versions of the original Superman films (and Supergirl) for DVD release in conjunction with marketing plans for 2006's SUPERMAN RETURNS.
"[T]he five DVDs are coming out," Salkind said in a recent telephone interview. Along with his late father, Alexander, and childhood friend, Pierre Spengler, Salkind produced the original SUPERMAN films (all except 1987's SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE produced by the Canon Group in a one-shot film deal they had with the Salkinds).
Two NARNIAs for DVD
Walt Disney will release two versions of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE on DVD on April 4th.
Both the single-disc version ($19.99) and a two-disc edition ($29.99) will include two commentaries with director Andrew Adamson, one in which he's accompanied by other filmmakers and the other, by children. Both versions will also come with pop-up windows throughout the film with facts on the movie and NARNIA author C.S. Lewis. EDITOR'S NOTE: OOO. THAT'S A COOL IDEA!
The double-disc NARNIA also will come with a booklet, concept art, storytelling diaries of the filmmakers, a "making of" featurette, an interactive map of Narnia and other extras.
DVD Interview : Summer Glau and Sean Maher
With the anticipated release of "Serenity" on DVD next week in Australia (Feb 8, for those that are counting down the days), Moviehole thought it right to catch up with two of the films stars, Summer Glau and Sean Maher, to talk shop - and, well, sequel.
Q: What is so unique about this material that it deserves to be on the big screen?
SM: I think it’s the characters. Just this world that Joss created, people seem to be captivated by it. From the very beginning people who saw the show loved it, this sort of bubbling small group was always there from the very beginning, they were the driving force that inspired us and kept us going, because we knew that there were people out there that really liked it. Then the show is cancelled and the DVD sales went through the roof, so it’s apparent that still people were catching on to it and loved it, so there should have been another venue to tell the story again. And Joss, I think, was sort of a miracle worker in a sense that he kept it alive and fought so hard for this. It’s really his baby.
Q: What kind of training did you go through?
SG: I met my stunt coordinator, Chad Stahelski, months before we started and he watched me move, he taught me some different steps and stuff, and he saw that I was a ballet dancer. He created a kind of hybrid technique for me that was a more “balletic” way of doing martial arts. He said that it was a combination of wuchu, kung-fu and kick boxing. And it was very different from dancing (laughs). I worked hard, we all worked hard.
Q: Did you keep the workout going after the movie?
SG: You know, they offered to let me keep coming to the class and I said no (laughs).
Q: Did you get injuries other than bruises?
SG: Oh, yeah. I have a big scar on knee from one stunt going wrong, and I pulled every muscle in my body - dancers are very strong but it’s a completely different kind of muscle memory. Martial arts is kind of like a snake: it snaps and then it comes back in. Dancing is always up, always lifting and it’s very fluid. I can hold my leg out for a long time as a dancer, but in martial arts you have to get your leg up that high but you have to get it down in one second. So I kept pulling hamstrings, I was limping home, I’d do ice baths where I just had to carry ice bags home and lie in a bathtub because I pulled everything. My body really changed a lot. And I was a vegetarian and I ate meat by the end of the movie. I was eating steaks (laughs).
Q: Was there any improvising or was Joss not allowing it?
SM: No, we pretty much...maybe we finish his words and if it’s rolling and if he likes what goes on afterwards we’d do it.
SG: I’m not that brave. I always do just what Joss says.
Q: Do you have siblings?
SG: I have two sisters.
SM: I have a sister and a brother.
Q: Does that feeling just instinctually kick in when you have to play close siblings on screen?
SM: It does, you obviously draw from your own life. You find similarities between yourself and the character, and they bleed into the way you portray the character.
Q: You have tremendous patience for your sister?
SM: (laughs) Yeah.
SG: Poor guy.
Q: What kind of message do you want the fans to pick up from "Serenity"?
SG: One thing that we keep talking about is believing - whatever you believe, you have to believe it with your whole heart. That’s one theme that keeps running through. And love. Taking care of the people around you, taking care of the people you love, it’s simple. There are many layers and everybody that comes to see it feels something different when they walk away. SM: What I love about the world of Firefly, the world of Serenity, is it’s 500 years in the future but there’s this big ‘what if?’, like, what if we used up the resources of Earth and here we are, people are trying to survive, trying to get by, trying to just eat and get a job. There are these dynamics between these wonderful characters and I think the movie…yes, it’s this huge spectacular, great ride and when you really think about it, for me it instilled this faith in humanity that like yes, 500 years in the future we have this Alliance trying to do this horrible thing to this girl and trying to just change people, and at the end of the day it’s like “OK, let’s just have faith.” There is innate goodness and people will prevail as human beings and there’s just wonderful sense of humanity to it. No matter how far in the future you go, hopefully people are people in how they work and function together. We are trying to rebuild and figure things out, and make adjustments.
Q: Does being a ballet dancer benefit you in acting?
SG: The thing about River that I like, is that she doesn’t have a lot of lines. Especially in the series she had to show what she was thinking just by the way she moved or by how her face was moving. I think that has helped me a lot as an actor. I still have hard time sometimes, expressing my anger with words, I’m better at moving and being in a room and showing how I feel that way. It’s a thing that I had to work on because I was very shy as a kid. I think that’s why I love dancing, because I felt that people were watching me but I didn’t have to connect with them. They were out there and I could feel that they were watching me but I didn’t have to look at them. Now with acting it’s very therapeutic for me, having to actually say and communicate.
Q: When the DVD sales of "Firefly" went through the roof did it give you hope or was it just a consolation prize?
SM: For us it was a reassurance that everybody was out, it was inspiring to us. To executives and people in suits it was like “oh, look at that. There are people, this could be successful”. I think it was a great tool for people who hadn’t had the chance to see the show. There were fans of the box set and they passed it around, and it spread sort of word of mouth in that regard.
Q: What’s happening next with you, are you hoping for a sequel?
SM: Sort of.
Q: Do you collect DVDs and what are your favorite ones?
SM: I have a very small collection. Streetcar Named Desire was my first DVD gift which I like.
SG: I don’t collect them, no. Most of my favourite movies haven’t come out on DVD yet, I like all the old stuff. My favorite is Camelot, the musical (laughs) with Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. I have the old box set.
Backstory: Movie manners - an endangered species
By Peter Rainer Film critic of The Christian Science Monitor
LOS ANGELES - There was a time, I think it was back in the Paleozoic era, when it was possible to go to a movie theater and hear more noise coming from the screen than from the audience. It was possible, once upon a time, to be lulled by the gentle snoring of one's seatmate. Today that same seat filler is likely to be bleating into a cell phone, or text-messaging a friend, who is probably also in a movie theater.
Before I spin out this tale of woe, however, let me quickly insert a faint ray of hope: A recent Los Angeles Times report says that the National Association of Theater Owners, faced with an alarming slide in attendance, is looking into ways to jam cellphone signals, "eliminating the chance that dramatic silences will be interrupted by a 'My Humps' ring tone."
The movie-going experience, especially for those of us who are middle-aged enough to note the difference, has changed catastrophically in the past decade. People have brought their home-viewing habits into the theaters. Actually, it's worse than that: Watching a movie at a multiplex is often a lot yappier and more aggravating than watching one at home, unless of course you live in a kennel.
I happen to be one of those people who don't like a whole lot of hubhub, least of all inside a movie theater. Because I'm a professional film critic and attend hundreds of screenings a year, this presents a distinct problem for me. Many of my screenings are for critics only, so you would think I have a comparatively easy time of it. The press, as we all know, is so well behaved.
For example, there is one group (whose identity I won't divulge except to say that it dispenses Golden Globes every year) that's notorious for smuggling hot and spicy entrees into screening rooms (often poorly ventilated) while pursuing a line of nonstop chatter in heavily accented English. Then there are all those critics who pull out their lighted pens at the drop of an insight.
But that's old-school behavior. New school is bringing your laptop into the theater and typing your insights as you go along. If enough of these typists are in the theater, the collective sound is like a squadron of rats clacking across a linoleum floor. EDITOR'S NOTE: MAYBE HE SHOULD STOP GOING TO CRITICS SCREENINGS. FOR THOSE OF US GOING TO THE MOVIES OUT IN THE 'REAL' WORLD, (AND WE SEE A LOT OF MOVIES OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEAR...ESP. FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN'T PAID TO GO TO THEM) WHILE THERE ARE OCCASIONAL RUDE INTERRUPTIONS, IT SOUNDS LIKE OUR MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCES ARE A LOT LESS DISRUPTIVE THAN WHAT THIS FELLOW IS DESCRIBING.
AND BY THE BY, WHEN I WAS A CRITIC, I JUST WROTE NOTES ON A PAD WITHOUT A PEN LIGHT. IT'S LIKE GOING TO THE BATHROOM....IF YOU'LL EXCUSE THE ANALOGY; YOU DON'T REALLY NEED TO SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING DOWN THERE, TO TAKE NOTES.
Critics also enjoy impressing other critics by venting aloud for all to hear. One famous critic used to belt out an anguished sigh whenever she found a film too drippy; another regularly rocks the room with a laugh pitched somewhere between a croak and a whinny. At film festivals like Toronto and Cannes, the one-upmanship often takes the form of instant mini-dissertations, as in "That tracking shot is so Tarkovskian!"
But at least all this obnoxiousness can be linked, however tenuously, to a love for movies. Worse is when the movie agents and buyers invade the screenings and, within minutes of sitting down, whip out their Blackberries to make a deal. They don't call it the movie business for nothing.
All things being equal - and they rarely are - I like to see movies with real people, as opposed to critics or Hollywood types.
The atmosphere in the room is less rarified and the responses more honest. The bad news is, the atmosphere is also rowdier. And unlike at home, where you can tell your children or spouse or friends to can it and still stand a reasonably good chance of surviving, the multiplex is a cauldron of strangers who do not take kindly to instruction. Note what happens the next time you see one of those trailers telling everybody to please not talk during the movie. Everyone starts talking. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHERE IS THIS GUY ATTENDING MOVIES? DOESN'T SOUND LIKE HE'S GOING TO A METROPLEX IN THE BEST OF NEIGHBORHOODS.
I used to have a prepared comment for the babblers who always seem to sit directly behind me. You know, the kind of people who feel duty-bound to provide a running commentary on the action to their partner, as in "Look, he's opening a door." I would turn around and ever so politely say, "Would you mind speaking a little louder? I can't hear you over the soundtrack?"
But this proved to be too Zen for most people, some of whom actually did speak louder.
So now I do things differently. Rather than provoke confrontations, I simply scope out several empty alternate seats before I take my own. If the going gets rough, I switch. This doesn't work if the theater is packed, in which case you better hope that seated near you is one of those guardian angels with no compunction about shushing down the opposition.
But even when the talkers are compelled to quit it - not, I might add, by the ushers, since there aren't any - they find other ways to make their presence felt. People who are annoying in one way are usually annoying in many ways. Quieted down, these same patrons become foot jigglers or high-decibel whisperers. They rifle through their seemingly bottomless handbags for - what exactly? It always escapes me. Candy, swathed in the noisiest foil, is unwrapped. Popcorn is consumed kernel by kernel.
And of course, the quieted-down rarely stay quiet for very long. First-date couples are the worst - the guy is always trying to impress the girl with a patter of hogwash and she is too polite or intimidated to stop it. Generally speaking, the younger the viewer the more likely he or she is to jabber, but there are numerous exceptions to this rule. Age has no dominion over manners.
Just look at the cellphone noise-pollution epidemic. If you ask someone to keep quiet nowadays, you're likely to get back a look of genuine astonishment. People who are plugged into their own hum don't recognize your right to silence. What they recognize is their right not to be silent. It's democracy in action all right.
Not to put too fine a sociological point on it, the epidemic of bad manners in the movies is part of a much larger ill gripping the land. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK, I'M OLD ENOUGH AND ENOUGH OF A CURMUDGEON TO AGREE WITH HIM ON THIS ONE.
What it all comes down to is this: There are few private zones in public spaces anymore.
Restaurant reviews in many of the big city newspapers now rate the decibel level right along with the food and the service.
Maybe film critics should do the same thing for movie theaters. Not this critic, though. I've heard enough.
* Showing up late and asking people to move.
* Talking during the movie or the previews.
* Leaving cellphones or beeping watches on.
* Kicking the seat in front of you.
* Putting your feet up on a seat, occupied or not.
* Hogging the armrest.
* Eating loudly or making noise with your straw.
* Leaving trash on the floor or cupholder.
* Bringing infants or young children (who have trouble staying quiet) to anything but children's movies.
EDITOR'S NOTE: MY PARENTS HAD A NO-TALKING-EXCEPT-DURING-COMMERCIALS RULE WHEN WE WATCHED TV AT HOME. IT WAS GOOD TRAINING FOR GOING OUT TO THE MOVIES. WHEN I GOT TO COLLEGE AND DISCOVERED HOUSE-MATES WHO TALKED ALL THROUGH SHOWS, THE PHENOMENON OF TALKING DURING FILMS WASN'T SO MYSTERIOUS ANY MORE. MY PARENTS SHOULD RUN A MANNERS BOOT-CAMP, I GUESS.