Thursday, April 06, 2006

THURSDAY Star Wars (including pics)






The New Force at Lucasfilm
The tech convergence has George Lucas’s gaming and movie divisions working hand-in-glove. R&D honcho Steve Sullivan and project lead Chris Williams explain how it’s working

There's a natural affinity between the fantasy worlds created in movies and video games.

At Lucasfilm Ltd., George Lucas' privately held entertainment company, the convergence of technology and manpower is hastening that collision. The ultimate goal is to boost collaboration between Industrial Light & Magic, the vaunted effects shop and biggest Lucasfilm unit, and its smaller game division, LucasArts.

The payoff is two-fold.

ILM's legendary technological prowess helps improve the next generation of video games.

Exposure to LucasArts is expected to help imbue ILM with some of the game unit's faster-paced culture -- and it will yield more video-game-like tools for use in movie-making.

The core technology driving the convergence is a proprietary internal software platform called Zeno, which both ILM and LucasArts will now use. Having a common technology lays the groundwork for each division to access the other's work and -- the hope is -- will lead to increased collaboration and borrowing.

The convergence is also aided quite literally by Lucasfilm's new facility at the Presidio in San Francisco, which brings together units previously separated by geography and corporate culture.

LucasArts moved in last July, and most of ILM was in house by October.

On Friday, Mar. 24, Steve Sullivan, ILM's head of research and development, and Project Lead Chris Williams, a LucasArts producer, spoke to the Game Developer's Conference in San Jose about the convergence between the two units.

BusinessWeek Corporate Strategies editor Brian Hindo caught up with them by phone.

Here are edited excerpts of their chat:
What was the impetus of this drive for more collaboration between LucasArts and ILM?Sullivan: I think George [Lucas] has intended this for quite a long time. It was hard before because we were geographically separate. The technology wasn't far enough that ILM and LucasArts could actually trade all that much. Computers had to get to a certain speed before it could really be meaningful to use film graphics in games. The consoles had to be powerful enough to support that kind of thing. We really had a sweet spot where the companies have co-located in the same building. And George is really strongly dedicated to this now that Star Wars is done.

What's the hope for all this collaboration?
Williams: George views LucasArts as a company that can do things very, very quickly and in real time. But we still have a lot of room to grow in terms of our visual quality and our visual target. And ILM is a company that can do things with very high visual quality. But that takes them a lot of time.

So this is not just ILM helping Lucasarts make our games look better. It's really a shared benefit.

Sullivan: We're definitely not real time. We're more concerned with "can we do it," rather than "how fast can we do it." Because our pipeline is built on taking a long time to get a perfect image, it slows down that period of iterative process, where you're looking at something -- "Is this right? Now, let's change that."

The game engines they're building at LucasArts and the way they're pushing their tools, they're going to provide us with techniques that are maybe approximate, but really fast -- like real time. You can converge very quickly to 95% and then send it off to the render farm (where computer generated images are rendered).

So that can save you time and money?
Sullivan: Yeah. It also changes the content of the projects, because you can iterate very quickly through ideas, brainstorm things. You might get two or three stabs at some big idea.

What else might more collaboration with LucasArts enable ILM to do?
Sullivan: Pre-visualization, which is a big thing that George has been pushing lately. It's a tool that directors would use to quickly mock up the ideas of a story and see what's going to work. It's really like building up a preview of a movie in a video game world. Instead of using static story boards, you can really just get in and create 3D content and camera moves directly. It's the best example of the kind of collaboration we've got going on.

It came from George -- it didn't come from either division. But it requires things that both divisions have expertise in.

What's different about movie people vs. game people?
Williams: Fundamentally, movie people are all about shots. How they get to the shot, and the process that they go through, is new and different and there are unique challenges associated with that. But at the end of the day the final output is something that goes on film. In game development you're making a software application. It's code that needs to run on a piece of hardware. So that's a very fundamental shift in terms of what your output is. You also just have to do a shot once, while a game has to work over and over again, in different ways.

Sullivan: Quality assurance (QA) is a fundamental part of their culture and we don't have it at ILM. They have to have QA, and it's really rigorous, because it's not just for their development process. The product going out the door is going to be judged on whether there are bugs in it.

As a result of the convergence, moving into new offices and using a new software platform, Zeno, what sorts of cultural shifts have been going on at LucasArts?
Williams: What LucasArts needed to do, from a cultural standpoint, was really embrace this notion of developing a cross-company tool with a pretty well established code base. And obviously not everything about that code base is going to be optimal for what we want to do, so there were certain concessions and compromises that we made early on.

But now we're in a really good place where the tool's working really well for us. That was a challenge. The history of game development is one of small groups of engineers growing it from scratch. And this was us embracing a huge set of already established code. This collaboration seems to imply that the traditional way video games and films are made will change.

Sullivan: An example would be, ILM is doing a shot for a film, but LucasArts artists can have that exact shot sitting on their desk, and they can start building a game environment around it or incorporating that somehow.

Is that happening already?
Williams: It's not happening right now, in that there's no project that ILM and LucasArts are both collaborating on right now. But there is full intention that we get to that place. That's certainly a key part of the vision. We're not in a space right now where we just want to be cranking out movie games. To the extent that we did that with the Episode III game, we're kind of done with that. We want to be telling new stories, new experiences, and really taking advantage of the interactive medium. And not just rehashing or serving up a film experience in a sort of interactive way. We're not sitting here right now waiting for ILM to come to us with some big film project so we can just crank out a movie game of it. The goal is use these tools, techniques, and knowledge to make a really exciting, innovative, next-gen product.


More Lucas In Hi-Rez

For your viewing pleasure, here are some high-resolution images of the Lucas Collector's Set. Featuring characters that were played by the Lucas family in Revenge of the Sith, these figures are exclusive to and are due later this month.


Custom Star Wars Tees Now Available at StarWarsShop
StarWarsShop is now offering an exclusive array of customizable t-shirt designs paired with some cool phrases and slogans new to the Star Wars galaxy.

"SWF Seeking Scoundrel" might adorn your Princess Leia tee, while "Pass the Cough Drops" makes the perfect tag for Grievous.

How about "Nobody Likes a Whiner" for Anakin or "I got Jedi skills!" for Obi-Wan?

Of course, these phrases are optional -- you can create a slogan-less tee with any of the 1,500 Star Wars-related images available, or customize for sports with numbers on the back and/or names on the front.

There's also the ability to choose your t-shirt's color and style -- from a pink Leia camisole to a traditional white/black Vader ringer. The possibilities are endless! EDITOR'S NOTE: WELLLLLL...TECHNICALLY, THEY'RE NOT ENDLESS. BUT LOTS.


Here's what you'll find at StarWarsShop's custom tee studio:
Over 1,500 authentic Star Wars images to choose from

Over 20 characters, starships, locations and more represented from all Star Wars movies including the Clone Wars series

Customize the shirt by adding your name, or select from hundreds of phrases

Over 20 shirt styles including men's shirts, women's fitted shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts, kids shirts, and infant clothing

Over 90 colors and style combinations to choose from

Sizes from infant and youth small all the way up to 5XL (3XL-5XL are available in the basic t-shirt style, while 2XL is available in both men's and women's styles)

Head on over to StarWarsShop and start creating your own customized Star Wars t-shirts today! EDITOR'S NOTE: I'M GUESSING THEY WON'T LET YOU USE BAD WORDS OR STUFF LIKE THAT.




Battle of Endor Figure Preview
Following the Battle of Coruscant, the fifth wave of Star Wars 2006 Saga Collection 3.75"-scale figures from Hasbro features characters from Return of the Jedi's climactic Battle of Endor.

Here's a first look at the figures available everywhere this fall, each with a base and randomly-selected bonus hologram figure. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHAT'S WITH THE RANDOM HOLOS? I JUST BOUGHT A ROTS KI-ADI MUNDI AND GOT A TPM QUEEN AMIDALA. IT'S JUST WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Chief Chirpa

Chief Chirpa is the wise, gray-furred leader of the Ewok tribe that befriended a Rebel strike team sent to the forest moon of Endor to destroy the Imperial shield generator. After some initial hostilities, it was he who accepted the Rebels into his tribe. A fierce defender of his people, he had been looking for a means to effectively resist the Imperial occupation, and did not hesitate to assist the Rebels by committing his forces to battle. EDITOR'S NOTE: TURNS OUT, HIS 'PEOPLE' WERE SO DURNED CUTE, THE IMPERIALS ALL WENT INTO SUGAR-SHOCK, AND THE REBELS AND THEIR FUZZY LITTLE FRIENDS OVER-RAN THEM WITHOUT A FIGHT.

Moff Jerjerrod

A capable but arrogant officer, Moff Jerjerrod commanded the second Death Star during its construction. His first priority was to complete the powerful superlaser, which was used to destroy several key Rebel cruisers and nearly turned the tide of the battle. He perished when Rebel ships managed to detonate the space station's reactor core. EDITOR'S NOTE: FINALLY! AN ACTION FIGURE THAT SNIVELS!

Death Star Gunner

The immense weaponry of the Imperial fleet was operated by these highly skilled gunners. They were easily recognizable in their large, distinctive helmets, which were designed to protect them from the dangerous flashback of turbolaser batteries. Accustomed to the vast power under their control, they operated with smooth, calm precision, even during the fiercest battles.



No one was more surprised than C-3PO by the sudden manifestation of godlike powers brought on by the golden droid's frustration at being unable to convince the Ewoks to free his friends. Then his sudden short, Force-induced flight around the village drove the superstitious Ewoks into a panic. After that, he was able to make his lack of interest in a delicious meal made up of Han, Luke, and Chewbacca fully understood.

Emperor Palpatine


A powerful and diabolical Dark Lord of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine very nearly succeeded in turning young Skywalker to the dark side of the Force. It was his focus on Luke, however, that caused him to miss the doubt growing within his original apprentice, Darth Vader. So confident was he of victory that he engineered his own destruction at Vader's hand. EDITOR'S NOTE: EVIL CAN BE SOOOOO SILLY SOMETIMES.


Senators Chi Eekway (Katie Lucas) and Terr Teneel (Amanda Lucas) stand with various extra Senators in front of a greenscreen to fill out newly acquired shots late in production.

Kurt Kaufman develops the interior of the Slave I for Attack of the Clones, based on what little we saw of it in The Empire Strikes Back.

Even a Grand Moff needs a SPIFF now and then.

ILM Modelmaker Danny Wagner puts the final touches on the ornate markings on Shaak Ti(played by ILM Production Operations Manager Maria Brill).

One could imagine the awkward silence between Skywalker and Vader in this environmental study of the interior of the Imperial shuttle, as illustrated by Norman Reynolds.

Ed Natividad illustrates a noble statue that might be found on Coruscant in Episode I.



OOTP out on July 13, 2007
It's official: Warner Bros. has announced that the Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix movie will hit theaters on July 13, 2007!

Warners gets 'Ruined' by Nussbaum
Joe Nussbaum, who co-wrote and directed "George Lucas in Love," has sold the comedy spec "Brad Cutter Ruined My Life ... Again" to Warner Bros. Pictures for Donald De Line to produce.

The story centers on a successful young man whose life is turned upside down when Brad Cutter, the cool kid from his high school, is hired at his company and begins to re-create the man's miserable teenage experience. The script explores the idea of how easily it is to regress into our high school selves and how people are forever working out the issues inflicted on them during their teenage years. Andrew Haas brought the script into De Line Pictures. EDITOR'S NOTE: RETURNING TO HIGH SCHOOL....SHUDDER. ALTHOUGH, IT HELPS TO HAVE SOME PERSPECTIVE?

Joanou preps 'Sharky' redo for Warners
Phil Joanou is attached to direct Warner Bros. Pictures' remake of "Sharky's Machine," being produced by Basil Iwanyk.

The original movie, released in 1981, was directed by and starred Burt Reynolds as Sgt. Tom Sharky, a vice cop who puts together a team to hunt down a group of brutal bad guys. The movie was based on a novel by William Diehl.

Chadha treks to 'Dallas' for Fox, Regency
Gurinder Chadha is in negotiations to take the helm of "Dallas," Regency Enterprises/20th Century Fox's big-screen version of the '80s primetime soap.

Robert Luketic was prepping to direct the picture that had a Nov. 10 release date, but will now direct Columbia Pictures' "21," the adaptation of Ben Mezrich's best-selling nonfiction book "Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions."

'Drake & Josh' duo Bell, Peck set for big screen
Drake Bell and Josh Peck, stars of the hit Nickelodeon series "Drake & Josh," are graduating to the big screen. The duo will star in an as-yet untitled feature being produced by Nickelodeon Movies and the Collective.

Written by Emmy-nominated kids TV show creator Dan Schneider and Steve Molaro, the film will tell the tale of a wealthy but extremely sheltered young man (Peck) who is thrust into the real world and quickly finds himself in over his head. To make up for lost time, he receives a crash course in life experience from a jovial slacker (Bell).

The Collective's Sam Maydew and Michael Goldman will produce, and the company's Aaron Ray and Michael Green will executive produce. Julia Pistor will oversee production on behalf of Nickelodeon Movies

24 : The Movie in theatres 2008
A few weeks back our own Gossip Monkey reported on his column that a “24” movie was happening sooner-rather-than-later. He’s half-right – just the peel of the banana this month, that means, OK? – A “24” movie is indeed coming soon.

From what I gather, ‘Monkey’, whose a screenwriter, may have heard the rumour from one Bruce ‘Bruno’ Willis – who he’s been talking to about a film recently, I’m assuming for something at FOX? - , but candidly, I don’t know where he gets his info, we just 1) trust his judgment b) promise to print everything he reports because he’s promised us a percentage of the merchandise returns on his next movie…. :)

But I digress… “24 : The Movie” won’t be out until 2008. At which time, Kiefer Sutherland will probably be off the show.

Virginia Virtucon caught a radio interview with Joel Surnow, the creator and executive producer of the TV show (which, by the way, still hasn’t even returned to air here in Oz!) on the Rush Limbaugh program, and summarised a few points.

Says the former, “The big news out of the interview is there will be a "24" movie filmed in the summer of '07 with a release in '08. The movie will still take place over a 24 hour period, but will consist of three 40-minute real-time parts allowing for Jack Bauer to travel greater distances during the course of the story and bring him to more varied locations.”

Ah, cool.

Meantime, TV Guide also has an update on the film, with an insider telling the site that "It's definitely not shooting this summer….the earliest it could theoretically be shot would be after the 2007 season."

'Farm' rocks for D'Works
DreamWorks Animation has acquired the rights to develop and produce the computer-animated feature "Punk Farm," inspired by Jarrett J. Krosoczka's children's book.

The story was developed by Kevin Messick, who will serve as executive producer on the project, and Jim Hecht, who will write the screenplay. They also will share story credit on the film.

"Farm" tells the story of a group of farm animals -- a sheep, chicken, pig, goat and cow -- who form an underground rock band. EDITOR'S NOTE: LAMBIES ROCK! (REALLY, IN THIS CASE)!

Warner Receives HEART SHAPED BOX from King's Son
Warner Bros. has picked up the right to the thriller novel HEART SHAPED BOX by Joe Hill -- Stephen King's son.

The novel, which will be published next year, centers on a singer obsessed with the occult who buys a ghost on eBay in the form of a man's burial suit. He's ultimately forced to confront both the ghost and the demons of his own past.

Akiva Goldsman will produce. No screenwriter has been set yet.

Lindelof, Cuse re-up at 'Lost'
Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse will stay "Lost" for another season.

Lindelof and Cuse have signed new seven-figure deals with the hit series' producer, Touchstone Television, to continue as executive producers/co-showrunners during the 2006-07 season.

Lindelof wrote the pilot for "Lost" with J.J. Abrams, and Cuse joined the series in October 2004, shortly after the show debuted to big numbers. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND DID ANYONE SEE "LOST" LAST NIGHT???!!! (WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN!!!!?????)

Goldberg set for 'Criminal' role
Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg is set to guest star on the NBC drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" in a potential recurring role.

In pilot casting news, "Joey" co-star Paulo Costanzo has been tapped as a lead in CBS' untitled Tom Hertz comedy pilot, and Lacey Chabert has joined the cast of the CW comedy pilot "She Said/He Said."

On "Law & Order: CI," Goldberg will play Chesley Watkins, a foster mother gone bad.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hump Day (April 5), all the REST of the Dweebing


Online film sales become a reality
In a groundbreaking development, five of the six major movie studios have agreed to let consumers download movies to own for the first time. EDITOR'S NOTE: OR, FOR THE SAME PRICE (GIVE OR TAKE) YOU CAN OWN A ALREADY-PRODUCED DVD WITH TONS OF EXTRAS. THEY HAVEN'T QUITE WORKED OUT WHAT WE WANT YET, HUH?

In separate deals set to be announced today, Movielink and CinemaNow are set to offer download-to-own sales of feature films concurrent with the home video release window, in addition to the download-to-rent option that the two digital distribution services already provide.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, MGM and Lionsgate titles will be available on CinemaNow. Movielink has agreements with those studios as well as with Paramount Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video and 20th Century Fox.

Prices will be roughly comparable to DVDs -- $20 to $30 for new releases, $10 to $16 for catalog titles.

"This really is a transformative moment in the distribution of filmed entertainment content," EDITOR'S NOTE: UMM...YEAH....NOT SO MUCH, REALLY. BUT THANKS. Paramount Digital Entertainment president Thomas Lesinski said. "Hollywood has finally made a real commitment to sell films online and embrace the digital consumer."

Starbucks steeped in film biz
Starbucks officially will launch its first foray into the movie business Tuesday with a unique experiential marketing campaign for Lionsgate's "Akeelah and the Bee" that the premium coffee retailer hopes not only will boost the film's boxoffice revenue but also transform the way studios market their movies.

In a groundbreaking deal with Lionsgate that gives Starbucks a percentage of the movie's profits for promoting "Akeelah" in its 8,300 locations in the U.S. and Canada, Starbucks will work to build buzz for the film by subtly integrating elements of its story line into the Starbucks experience.

An estimated 30 million customers will be challenged to expand their vocabulary and spelling prowess with such words featured in the film's spelling bees as pulchritude and prestidigitation.

More than 25 words will be printed on in-store signage, cup sleeves, coasters, flash cards, magnets, and on lanyards worn by Starbucks' staff of baristas EDITOR'S NOTE: SOME OF THOSE BARISTAS CAN BARELY HANDLE BASIC COFFEE-ORDERING WORDS. BUT IT'S A FUN IDEA. (ALMOST ANYTHING SEEMS FUN TO ME ..... WITH ENOUGH CAFFEINE IN MY SYSTEM).

Primate Actor Retirements Plus High Demand Push Costs Skyward
Jeremy Mullman
CHICAGO ( -- Screen Actors Guild members take note: A group of commercial actors secured an across-the-board, 25% to 30% pay increase last year without so much as a union meeting or strike threat.

The cost for using chimps in CareerBuilder's ads has increased as much as 30% since the campaign first began in 2004. EDITOR'S NOTE: BOY, THE PRICE OF BANANAS, HUH?

Primate shortage
Chimp compensation is on the rise, animal trainers and ad agency creatives said, because a recent surge of retirements has created a primate shortage. And that-paired with marketers' still potent urge to tap chimps and orangutans to hawk job listings, light beer and stock brokerages-is driving prices up.

The highest-profile campaign of that ilk -- CareerBuilder's office chimp spots that broke on the Super Bowl -- had a shoot delayed a month last year due to talent availability. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE CHIMP DIVAS! (GIGGLE) And Marshall Ross, executive creative director at CareerBuilder's agency, Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, said the cost of using chimps has risen as much as 30% since the popular ads started running in 2004.


Animal rights protests
Animal-rights activists disagree. And there's some evidence that years of protests against their use contributed to the current shortage, both by dissuading some marketers from using chimps and encouraging trainers to retire them.

"People are beginning to realize that they use fear and beatings to keep [the animals] on cue," said a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has conducted an online campaign at and persuaded marketers such as Honda and Puma to pledge not to use chimps in commercials. "It's become passe to use them."

But the biggest blow to the acting-ape supply came last year, when Hollywood's largest trainer, Bob Dunn, retired his 11 chimps and six orangutans to a Florida animal sanctuary. A spokesman for Bob Dunn's Animal Services said they were retired because "there was an opportunity to keep them together as a family." Patti Ragan-who runs the sanctuary housing Mr. Dunn's retired chimps-said he told her he'd grown wary of being targeted by protestors.

Cost of working chimps
And then there's the cost. Chimps, for instance, can only act until about age eight, at which point they become too large and erratic to be controlled on film sets. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE TIME-FRAME IS A LITTLE LONGER, BUT I FIND MOST PEOPLE ACTORS ARE KINDA THE SAME WAY. (SNICKER....) But they can live to age 60, at a cost of more than $10,000 a year at an animal sanctuary such as Ms. Ragan's. "We're seeing fewer and fewer people willing to take on that commitment as the working chimps retire," said Cramer-Krasselt's Mr. Ross. "They're not being replaced at the same rate they're leaving."

Whatever the reason, the retirements created a minor windfall for those still working, at least in the short-term. A spokeswoman for Steve Martin's Working Wildlife, now Hollywood's largest ape handler, said the cost of using its chimps rose 25% last year, to $1,000 per day from $800. "They're working more, too," she said. EDITOR'S NOTE: THE QOTD IS NOW RAISING HER HAND....HEY, I COULD PLAY A CHIMP! (MY LAST JOB WAS KINDA LIKE LIVING IN A ZOO. AND I'M VERSATILE...REALLY!)

But she doesn't expect the price increases to continue, considering advances in computer animation that make it possible to create realistic animal effects on screen.

"That's disappointing," said Ms. Ragan, an opponent of chimp ads. "I'm hoping they become so expensive nobody wants to use them anymore". EDITOR'S NOTE: SOMETIMES, IT'S REALLY BORING BEING A LIBERAL.

Next stop L.A. for Gaul's Jules Verne fest
(Event will have a sister edition in October)
PARIS -- Before giving the world cinematic trailblazers the Lumiere Bros. and Georges Melies, France provided visionary author Jules Verne. EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT TO MENTION GOOD WINE, GREAT CHEESE, AND THAT WONDERFUL CHOCOLATE SHOP ON THE CHAMPS D'LYSEES. (WAIT....I NEED A MINUTE TO REMEMBER HOW HAPPY MY TONGUE WAS.....)


For 14 years, the Jules Verne Adventure Film Festival (March 22-27), headquartered at the largest surviving historic cinema in Europe, has built a following that ranges from devoted to rabid.

On opening night of the competitive six-day selection of docs and features devoted to ecology and exploration, Duke Collister, general manager of Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium (built in 1926) took the stage of Paris' Grand Rex (built in 1932) to confirm the event will have a sister edition in L.A. in October.

"We have spoken with the mayor of Los Angeles and founded an advisory committee," Collister told the 2,700-person capacity crowd.

"Amateur night" might describe most French premieres and awards ceremonies, but the Jules Verne folks know from showmanship: An impressive replica of Indiana Jones' Temple of Doom welcomed producer-turned-director Frank Marshall, there to showl "Eight Below" complete with live huskies and pic's star, Paul Walker. EDITOR'S NOTE: DOGGIES!

A giant monolith materialized to welcome thesp Keir Dullea and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who exchanged their views, respectively, of working for Stanley Kubrick vs. moon-walking for all mankind, before a showing of Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Christopher Lee accepted the lifetime achievement honor in witty, slangy French,EDITOR'S NOTE: OLD BRITS ARE JUST BETTER THAN THE REST OF US. THEY JUST ARE. while Ernest Borgnine was there to accept the Jules Verne trophy.

The fest, whose founding members included Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Thor Heyerdahl and whose advisory board includes James Cameron and Jane Goodall, also nabbed a reigning monarch, Prince Albert II of Monaco.

In 1906, Prince Albert I (the current prince's great-great-grandfather) set out from Monaco to reach the northernmost reaches of the Arctic.

Next month, Albert II will try to reach the North Pole using non-motorized dog sleds, as the journey would have been made 100 years ago. "We'll set out from base camp on April 12 or 13 and hope to reach the Pole on the 16 or 17," the soft-spoken prince told an appreciative crowd.

Jury member Rod Roddenberry, whose father, "Star Trek" creator Gene, died in 1991 when his son was only 17, showed a sampler from "Trek Nation," the doc he's been making about Trekkies around the globe.

Meanwhile, Marshall, in response to auds wanting to know if there would be an "Indiana Jones 4," said: "Yes, of course. We're definitely working on the script right now. I think we'll start shooting next year." If that prediction is as prophetic as some of Verne's flights of fancy, maybe the L.A. edition of the fest will have its opener. EDITOR'S NOTE: BUT OH YOU TEASE...

After hours with the '9 to 5' gang
By William Keck, USA TODAY

Years after being fired for refusing to sleep with her boss, Jane Fonda — empathizing with harassed women everywhere — developed a popular 1980 film called 9 to 5, about sexism in the workplace.

The comedy arrives on DVD Tuesday (Fox, $20) in what is being marketed as the "Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot Edition," with commentary from stars Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. EDITOR'S NOTE: NOT SURE IF I NEED TO OWN THIS, BUT I BET WATCHING THIS WITH THE COMMENTARY WOULD BE GREAT FUN, HUH?!

Calling from her Atlanta home before catching a plane to L.A., thrice-married Fonda, 68, chuckles when asked whether she has experienced sexism since making the film. "You've got to be kidding," she says, aghast. Sexism, she says, is something she has experienced in "my marriages. Maybe that's why I'm not married anymore."

Even so, Fonda is careful to differentiate her last ex, corporate mogul Ted Turner, from 9 to 5's similarly tough, mustached boss, Franklin Hart (Dabney Coleman).

"Mr. Hart was a terrible character," says Fonda, while her relationship with Turner was "much more subtle. Sexism can be almost invisible."

"Jane was married to very strong, aggressive men," reminds Tomlin, 66, calling in from the L.A. set of The West Wing series finale. "(In the '70s and '80s), there was all that machismo."

At 60, Parton says she still welcomes the occasional whistle from construction workers on the street. "I take all that as a compliment," Parton says from her Beverly Hills home, where she's whipping up macaroni and cheese. "And if someone gets vulgar, I can put them in their place, but still do it in a fun way." EDITOR'S NOTE: GOD BLESS SOUTHERN LADIES.

Mishearing a question about unwanted sexist encounters, Parton says, "I've only had sexual encounters that I've wanted. But not as many as I'd like," then laughs when the question is clarified.

After all, Parton went right from 9 to 5 to shooting The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, "and I made a better whore than I did a secretary."

Parton, who says she grew up in a family of sexist men, often jokes about her rarely seen real-life husband, Carl Dean, but she turns uncharacteristically sentimental when asked if he is a sexist. "In all seriousness, I have a very fine husband — a true gentleman who respects women," says Parton.

"I've met Carl, and I couldn't agree more," Fonda echoes. EDITOR'S NOTE: LIKE FONDA IS SUCH A GREAT JUDGE OF MEN?

Dean, Parton says, has encouraged her work on a Broadway musical version of 9 to 5, for which she has already written several songs for an anticipated fall 2007 opening. "It's still set in the '80s, and we gave Violet a boyfriend," Parton says. Her favorite new song: The One I Love, in which the three women wax eloquent about their loved ones.

Parton and Dean will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary May 30 with an annual ritual: They take a trip to Ringgold, Ga., where they got married. "We drive our RV through a drive-through and load up on food," Parton says. "Then we visit a park and get our picture taken on the steps outside the little Baptist church where we said our 'I do's.' "

Tomlin and producer Jane Wagner have been a couple for 35 years, but with no plans to marry. "I don't know that we ever will," she says. "(Coordinating) our wardrobe is complicated enough."
Jokes aside, Tomlin believes it is probably easier for a woman to be in a relationship with another woman. "Especially a woman of consciousness," she says. "And if you are married to a man with any consciousness, I think that would probably be all right, too." EDITOR'S NOTE: ASSUMING SUCH A MAN EXISTS?

As for Fonda, she remains single and says, "I'm enjoying the way I am, but if I met someone I liked, I would love to date."

And she, too, would welcome a whistle on the street. "I should be so lucky. At a certain age, you become invisible, so a whistle would be great. And I'd whistle right back."

"Yeah," Tomlin adds. "If I looked as good as Jane, I would, too!"

What a way to make a living
What happened to the 9 to 5 secretaries after they sent sexist Mr. Hart packing for Brazil?

We may never find out. While Jane Fonda was working on a sequel to be called 24/7, 20th Century Fox, the studio that owns the original's rights, had already struck a deal with Jada Pinkett Smith to remake 9 to 5 under the title 24/7.

But for fans who want to catch up with the characters, Fonda, Tomlin and Parton tell USA TODAY what they think happened to Judy, Violet and Doralee.

Judy Bernley (Jane Fonda)
Movie postscript
: Married a Xerox representative.
Fonda's update: "The Xerox guy didn't last. Judy has fallen in love with someone else and is living with somebody. She never wants to marry again. She has starch in her spine now because of her experience at the corporation."

Violet Newstead (Lily Tomlin)
Movie postscript: Promoted to Consolidated Companies vice president.
Fonda's update: "With her kids all grown, Violet went out on her own and created her own business. Maybe she became an event planner. And she became a council person."

Doralee Rhodes (Dolly Parton)
Movie postscript
: Became a country singer.
Fonda's update: "I think Doralee self-educated herself and is very much into computers. And she probably baby sits her grandkids."

French writer calls 'Syriana' plagiarized
PARIS -- Jordan-based French writer and lawyer Stephanie Vergniault has filed suit against Warner Bros. Pictures and Section Eight, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh's production company, alleging that their film "Syriana" plagiarized entire scenes and characters from a script she wrote in 2002.

Stephen Gaghan, writer-director of the political thriller, also has been named in the case, which comes up for hearing Monday at the Paris High Court, Vergniault's attorney Jasna Hadley Stark said Tuesday.

The filmmakers are being sued for €2 million ($2.4 million) and damages, Stark said.

Executives at Warner Bros. France said they were aware of the case but declined comment.

A spokesman for Warners in the U.S. said, "While we have not seen a copy of this suit, we believe it is without merit and (we) will defend our position in court." EDITOR'S NOTE: IF THE CLAIMS ARE TRUE, IT MIGHT EXPLAIN WHY THE MOVIE WAS A TAD CONVOLUTED; IT'S THE FRENCH INFLUENCE, PEUT ETRE? ON THE OTHER HAND, COULDN'T THEY STEAL FROM SOMEONE WHO WROTE SOMETHING MORE LINEAR AND DECIPHERABLE?

Mister, will you help us fix this show ... for $5?
From Tuesday's Globe and Mail
Some theatregoers who attended this weekend's production of The Lord of the Rings at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre may have been surprised by an offer -- extended as they exited -- of $5 or a Rings souvenir if they filled out an on-line marketing survey about the show.

It was the third in a series of questionnaires compiled by Camelford Graham Research Group, the same firm that has conducted similar exit surveys for productions at the Stratford Festival.

According to LOTR producer Kevin Wallace, the surveys are principally intended to determine the show's demographic -- who's coming, and where they're coming from -- in order to target media and public relations campaigns more precisely. But it also asks respondents to cite elements they liked and didn't like about the production.

The tactic has never been tried before by Mirvish Productions, one of Rings' associate producers, but is widely used in London's West End and on Broadway to test audience reaction to new shows.

The results of the third survey have not yet been tabulated, but Wallace says the two earlier surveys, conducted during LOTR's seven-week preview period, showed that the audience consists of a higher percentage of people who don't usually go to the theatre and that they tend to enjoy the show more than traditional theatregoers. An average of 84 per cent, he says, have said they would recommend the show to friends. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO DWEEBS...WHO WE WOULD HAVE HOPED WERE MORE DISCERNING THAN THIS...LIKE IT. BUT PEOPLE WHO KNOW BETTER...THEATER FOLK...DON'T.

Their criticisms have been consistent: The three hour and 30-minute production was considered too long, there was concern about the storyline's lack of clarity, and there was some feeling that the part of the wizard Gandalf, played by veteran Brent Carver, was not sufficiently dynamic.

On the other hand, they have been full of praise for Michael Therriault's Gollum, and for the show's sets, lighting, and multilevel mobile stage. Wallace says that as a result of the surveys, the team will tinker with act three, to deliver "more of an emotional impact."

He said that depending on what the results of the latest survey indicate, he's prepared to make further changes as well. "However, we don't want to react merely to hearsay. We really want to know what the audience is thinking. And if they are telling us they are confused, we will listen."EDITOR'S NOTE: I WONDER IF THEY HAVE SUR-TITLES FOR THE SONGS IN ELVISH.

What's the most successful movie ever, adjusted for inflation?

Right now, the average cost of a movie ticket in the United States is around $6.40 (according to Box Office Mojo).

Sadly, it will never be this low again. Inflation, like time, waits for no one.

Most film buffs know that if we were to "pull a government" and ignore inflation, "Titanic" would be king of the worldwide box office. "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" is number two, followed by "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Of course, all those movies are relatively recent.

If you adjust box-office grosses to reflect the rising cost of movie tickets, who's the champ? We'll give you a hint: It ain't "Pluto Nash." EDITOR'S NOTE: PHEW!

After adjusting for inflation, The Movie Times ranks "Gone With the Wind" the top-grossing film in the United States. The original "Star Wars" (now known as "A New Hope") is second, EDITOR'S NOTE: WE'RE NUMBER 2, WE'RE NUMBER 2!!!! and, brace yourself for a shock, "The Sound of Music" takes the bronze.

Keep in mind these rankings are for the United States only. Worldwide, "Gone with the Wind" still rules the plantation, but "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is in second place, while "Titanic" surfaces at number three. EDITOR'S NOTE: SOMEWHERE IN EUROPE, THAT DARNED SHIP IS STILLLLLLLL SINKING.

Estimates vary on the exact windfall from "Gone With the Wind," but the way we see it, after a flick passes the billion-dollar mark, who gives a damn about Scarlett, Rhett, or exact figures?

Kermit the Frog Photo Puppet

Master Replicas will soon be releasing the official replica of the Kermit the Frog puppet used for still photo shoots. It was made from the original Kermit pattern and stitched to replicate Hansen Stitch Sewing. The puppet was created from the same fleece, micro fiber and froggy green felt used on the original Kermit.

It is fully posable, with mouth expression and full articulation in neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles and fingers. The the figure also comes with a custom display stand and numbered plaque.

Used for still photo shoots, puppets like Kermit were built without hand openings and with wire armatures that allowed posability, so as to capture that unique Muppet attitude. The item measures 8” x 7” x 24.5”.

It will ship in June 2006 with a price tag of $169.

Hump Day (April 5) Disney News

Walt Disney's first animated hero is back in the Disney Family

The Walt Disney Company family recently got one member larger -- and what an important member it is! On February 9, 2006, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first big cartoon star, returned to the Disney fold, thanks to an agreement with NBC/Universal, the company that previously owned the rights to Oswald since his theatrical debut in 1927.

"As the forerunner to Mickey Mouse and an important part of Walt Disney's creative legacy, the fun and mischievous Oswald is back where he belongs, at the home of his creator and among the stable of beloved characters created by Walt himself," said Walt Disney Company President and CEO Bob Iger, who had devoted himself to recovering Oswald.

Oswald holds a distinguished place in Disney history, as Disney Archivist Dave Smith explains: "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was Walt Disney's first fully developed cartoon character to star in his own series. Previously he had made a combination live action/cartoon series, the 'Alice Comedies,' but the live Alice was the star. The popularity of Oswald started Walt on the road to independence."

Oswald's cartoon shorts were big box-office draws!

Oswald was also the impetus for the creation of Mickey Mouse – at least, indirectly.

When Walt lost control of the rights to his successful character to cartoon distributor Charles Mintz, he was devastated. But he quickly realized he needed another cartoon series to replace the Oswald shorts – and on the train trip home to Hollywood from New York, where he had received the news, he conceived the idea of his new star, a plucky little mouse.

As Dave Smith explains, "Walt lost the rights to Oswald because he had signed a contract giving all copyrights and other rights to the series' distributor. He learned his lesson. As soon as he began with Mickey Mouse, he ensured that from then on he owned full rights on everything he produced." EDITOR'S NOTE: KINDA LIKE UNCLE GEORGE. CERTAIN STUBBORN CREATIVE TYPES GET MESSED-AROUND WITH JUST ONCE. AND THEN, THEY USE THAT FRUSTRATION TO MAKE BAZILLION-DOLLAR EMPIRES. (MAYBE I SHOULD BE HAPPY EVERY TIME SOMEONE TICKS ME OFF? GUESS I'D HAVE TO BE A CREATIVE GENIUS FIRST?)

The many faces of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

It has been said that Oswald was a model for Mickey – the Insider took a look at the Oswald shorts to see if Walt’s most famous creation was evident in Oswald.

Although the plucky rabbit wears shorts that look a lot like Mickey’s, and is drawn with similar panache, we found their personalities to be quite distinct.

Mickey’s a plucky, friendly everyguy with a circle of friends and a true love in Minnie Mouse.

Oswald, on the other hand, tends to the mischievous and romances various cartoon lovelies in different films.

The greatest difference between the two, however, is voice – Oswald is silent (like all his cartoon brethren of the mid ’20s) and his personality comes through only in his slapstick antics. Mickey has a richly expressive voice, thanks to Walt Disney himself, and to the two voice actors (first James Macdonald, and now Wayne Allwine) who carried on the tradition in his wake.

The Oswald cartoons are funny, highly energetic, and full of terrific sight gags – it’s not hard to see what made Oswald a hit.

However, it was characteristic of Walt to turn a defeat like the loss of his first character into a triumph. He recognized this about himself, saying “You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” EDITOR'S NOTE: ALTHOUGH, LIKE SAY, IT DOES KINDA HELP TO HAVE CREATIVE GENIUS MOTIVATING YOUR UP-AND-ATTEM.

We had to conclude that starting over with a fresh inspiration allowed Walt to create, in Mickey, a true classic with both more personality and more heart than Oswald.

However, Oswald is a valuable slice of Disneyana, and he was instrumental in the creative growth of Walt Disney.

As Dave Smith says, "Oswald may seem only a footnote in Disney history, but his significance was far greater than one suspects. With Oswald, Walt began learning how to instill real personality into his cartoon characters."

And the Osward shorts are still terrific fun to watch, just as they must have been back in the ’20s. So it’s fitting that Oswald is receiving a resounding welcome home.

"When Bob was named CEO, he told me he wanted to bring Oswald back to Disney, and I appreciate that he is a man of his word," said Walt Disney's daughter Diane Disney Miller. "Having Oswald around again is going to be a lot of fun." EDITOR'S NOTE: MICKEY'S MUTE OLDER BROTHER. (WONDER HOW MICKEY FEELS ABOUT IT?!)

Words of (Hump Day) Wisdom from J.K.Rowling



For Girls Only, Probably...
Being thin.

Probably not a subject that you ever expected to read about on this website, but my recent trip to London got me thinking...It started in the car on the way to Leavesden film studios.

I whiled away part of the journey reading a magazine that featured several glossy photographs of a very young woman who is either seriously ill or suffering from an eating disorder (which is, of course, the same thing); anyway, there is no other explanation for the shape of her body. She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy and having the world's fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off (hooray! Another couple of ounces gone!), but her concave stomach, protruding ribs and stick-like arms tell a different story. This girl needs help, but, the world being what it is, they're sticking her on magazine covers instead.

All this passed through my mind as I read the interview, then I threw the horrible thing aside.

But blow me down if the subject of girls and thinness didn't crop up shortly after I got out of the car.

I was talking to one of the actors and, somehow or other, we got onto the subject of a girl he knows (not any of the Potter actresses – somebody from his life beyond the films) who had been dubbed 'fat' by certain charming classmates. (Could they possibly be jealous that she knows the boy in question? Surely not!)

'But,' said the actor, in honest perplexity, 'she is really not fat.''

"Fat" is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her,' I said; I could remember it happening when I was at school, and witnessing it among the teenagers I used to teach. Nevertheless, I could see that to him, a well-adjusted male, it was utterly bizarre behaviour, like yelling 'thicko!' at Stephen Hawking.

His bemusement at this everyday feature of female existence reminded me how strange and sick the 'fat' insult is. I mean, is 'fat' really the worst thing a human being can be? Is 'fat' worse than 'vindictive', 'jealous', 'shallow', 'vain', 'boring' or 'cruel'?

Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I'm not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain...

I went to the British Book Awards that evening.

After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn't seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? 'You've lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!

''Well,' I said, slightly nonplussed, 'the last time you saw me I'd just had a baby.

'What I felt like saying was, 'I've produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren't either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?'

But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!

So the issue of size and women was (ha, ha) weighing on my mind as I flew home to Edinburgh the next day.

Once up in the air, I opened a newspaper and my eyes fell, immediately, on an article about the pop star Pink. Her latest single, 'Stupid Girls', is the antidote-anthem for everything I had been thinking about women and thinness.

'Stupid Girls' satirises the talking toothpicks held up to girls as role models: those celebrities whose greatest achievement is un-chipped nail polish, whose only aspiration seems to be getting photographed in a different outfit nine times a day, whose only function in the world appears to be supporting the trade in overpriced handbags and rat-sized dogs.

Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it's really not. It's about what girls want to be, what they're told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I've got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don't want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I'd rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before 'thin'.

And frankly, I'd rather they didn't give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do.

Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls. Rant over.

Hump Day (April 5) TV News

SUPER Lawsuit
Variety reports that the widow and daughter of Jerome Siegel, originator of the comicbook series SUPERBOY, is suing the WB over SMALLVILLE.

A federal judge in Los Angeles has found that WB's show may be infringing on the copyrights held on the Superboy character. The summary judgment also found that Joanne Siegel and Laura Siegel Larson had successfully recaptured the SUPERBOY rights as of mid November 2004.

The lawyer for Siegel and Larson told Variety, "Jerry Siegel's SUPERBOY focuses on Superboy's relationship with his parents and his adventures with school classmates in a small town which, by SUPERBOY #2, was named Smallville."

Warner Bros. said in response that it "respectfully disagrees" with the rulings and will pursue an appeal EDITOR'S NOTE: AND HERE, 'RESPECTFULLY' MEANS IN ASSOCIATION WITH OUR CADRE OF LAWYERS.

AMC's 'Mad Men' Set in Ad Agency Golden Days
Abbey Klaassen and Lisa Sanders

NEW YORK ( -- If you’re nostalgic for interoffice affairs, three-martini lunches, selling cigarettes and sexual liberation, EDITOR'S NOTE: AND, REALLY...WHO ISN'T!? “Mad Men” will be your kind of show. In the one-hour pilot AMC has commissioned about Madison Avenue in the '60s, TV is new media and the Pill and Valium have just hit pharmacy shelves and office desk drawers.

Matt Weiner, the writer-director who created the dramedy, has a more blunt description: “A lot of f**king and drinking and very, very wry and funny.” And ironic, he said. “The people are aware of the fact that what they’re doing is bulls**t.” EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. SOUNDS A LOT LIKE ADVERTISING IN 06...EXCEPT FOR THE AWARENESS PART.

Onset of 'creative revolution' The show follows Don Draper, the 30-something creative director of the Sterling Cooper agency, “a white, old-fashioned advertising firm that’s about to be left behind” when the likes of DDB, Mary Wells Lawrence and David Ogilvy launch the “creative revolution.”

I was interested in writing something about American men and their complexity, some of which is ugly,” Mr. Weiner said. “There are two conflicting drives: one, to be an ideal father on the PTA ... and, two, to get drunk, laid and smoke as much as possible.” EDITOR'S NOTE: HE'S MAKING ADVERTISING SOUND WAY MORE INTERESTING THAN IT REALLY IS.

If it sounds a bit “Sopranos”-like, there’s a reason. After years of passing around the script to no avail, it landed in the hands of “Sopranos” creator David Chase, who hired Mr. Weiner to write several episodes in seasons five and six of the HBO mob drama.

Real-life admen Radical Media’s Jon Kamen, whose firm is handling production, has read the script as has Hal Riney. And on a recent cross-country flight Mr. Weiner found himself sitting next to the sister of DDB chief Ken Kaess who suggested he show the script to her brother. Unfortunately, said Mr. Weiner, he never got the chance. But he offers an appraisal of advertising that would make the late adman smile.

If you’re into media and idolize business, there are very few things more American than advertising,” Mr. Weiner said. EDITOR'S NOTE: AND YOU 'IDOLIZE' BUSINESS? HOW SAD.

Rob Sorcher, AMC’s exec VP-programming and productions, started out as an advertising copywriter at Benton & Bowles -- “a place that still had all those guys from a previous era.” Despite its setting, he said the show offers a social commentary on today. And AMC is optimistic “Mad Men” will elicit high interest among advertisers.

“I just know that everybody in the mafia’s watching ‘The Sopranos,’” Mr. Sorcher said.

Astin one of 'The Guys' for ABC pilot
Hot off his stint on "24," Sean Astin is in negotiations to star in ABC's comedy pilot "The Guys."

Meanwhile, Jennifer Esposito has been tapped as the lead in Fox's comedy pilot "More, Patience," Lindsay Sloane has landed the female lead opposite Nick Lachey in the CW comedy pilot "She Said/He Said," Roger Bart has joined Tom Cavanagh in CBS' comedy pilot "My Ex-Life," EDITOR'S NOTE: THEY ARE GOING TO KEEP GIVING TOM CAVANAGH SHOWS UNTIL SOMETHING STICKS ,HUH? Emmy winner Cloris Leachman has been added to the cast of NBC's untitled Chris Sheridan comedy pilot, and Paul Michael Glaser has been cast in Fox's drama pilot "Faceless." EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. PAUL MICHAEL GLASER? ISN'T HE A BIG-TIME PRODUCER AND DIRECTOR THESE DAYS? (I GUESS HE'S LIKE HENRY WINKLER, AND JUST WANTS TO HAVE A LITTLE NO-PRESSURE ACTING IN THE MIX)?

In other pilot news, Marsh McCall has come aboard NBC's comedy pilot "Twenty Good Years" as executive producer/showrunner.

Jeffrey Tambor's latest Development
Another indication that the fat lady’s singing the theme for “Arrested Development”EDITOR'S NOTE: SORRY, BOB.... – in other words, that it’s definitely kaput – is The Hollywood Reporter announcing that star Jeffrey Tambor has already been signed for a new series.

According to the trade, Tambor will co-star with John Lithgow in the NBC comedy “Twenty Good Years” about “two men in their 50s who experience personal epiphanies and decide to make the most of their next 20 years”. EDITOR'S NOTE: LITHGOW AND TAMBOR ON THE SAME SCREEN? I DON'T THINK MY TV SCREEN IS BIG ENOUGH!

On Wednesday, FOX announced that, contrary to rumours that Showtime might be interested in picking it up, there were no plans to resume production on "Arrested".

The Bluth family has left the building.

Arc enemy: ABC's 'Legal' retains Posey
Parker Posey has been tapped for a multiple-episode arc on ABC's drama "Boston Legal."

In a three-episode stint on David E. Kelley's "Boston Legal," Posey will play Marlene Stanger, a recent transfer from another firm. Nicknamed "The Squid" after the only animal in popular mythology that can kill a shark, Stanger is a BlackBerry-carrying politico looking to make partner.

Hump Day (April 5) Movie News


Indy 4 Update
While on a promotional tour for EIGHT BELOW, Frank Marshall told OptusNet that the next installment in the Indiana Jones series could be shot in Australia.

Marshall said the film "is still on the frontburner." He also added, "We really have to get the story right. The story has to be really good for any of us to do it and there are three pretty strong-willed creative minds involved in saying yes." EDITOR'S NOTE: BLAH BLAH BLAH. LIPS MOVING. NOTHING IMPORTANT COMING OUT. (ALMOST AS BAD AS WHEN RICK MCCALLUM SPEAKS).

Marshall will produce the film along with George Lucas. Lucas is currently writing the script with David Koepp.

The storyline will follow on from the first three films and "Harrison is going to play the character and it is going to be 10 or 12 years later," said Marshall. EDITOR'S NOTE: SNORT. 10 OR 12 YEARS? TRY 20 OR 25 YEARS?



IMAX Corporation and Warner Bros. Pictures have announced that Superman Returns will become the world's first live-action Hollywood feature to be converted from 2D to IMAX 3D.

IMAX Corporation will use its proprietary 2D to 3D conversion technology to convert approximately 20 minutes of the film into An IMAX 3D Experience, the most immersive cinematic 3D in the world. EDITOR'S NOTE: OK. SO STAR WARS WON'T BE THE FIRST. BUT IF SUPES DOES WELL, IT MAKES MORE THEATERS GET ON THE BANDWAGON FOR UNCLE G TO CONVERT ALL 6 SW PICS RIGHT!!??? (DROOLING ON KEYBOARD.....)

"Releasing select sequences of Superman Returns in IMAX 3D marks a groundbreaking moment in movies," said Dan Fellman, President of Domestic Distribution at Warner Bros. Pictures. "This film is going to give fans an opportunity to be immersed in a major live-action motion picture like never before." EDITOR'S NOTE: I JUST HOPE IT ISN'T IMMERSED IN A BAD MOVIE. (NOT THAT FAT THIGHS ARE NECESSARILY AN INDICATION, BUT....WELL..."DAREDEVIL"?)

The epic action-adventure will be transformed into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience through IMAX DMR (Digital Re-Mastering) technology. The film will be simultaneously released to IMAX(R) and conventional theatres on June 30, 2006. Warner Bros. Pictures will be the exclusive distributor of the film to the growing IMAX theatre network worldwide.

"The test scenes that have been converted into IMAX 3D look, sound and feel absolutely amazing," added Bryan Singer. "The magic of IMAX 3D will envelop audiences in this story, enabling them to feel the emotion, drama and suspense in a completely new and unique way."

During select sequences of the film, a visual cue designed by Singer will indicate when audiences should put on and remove their IMAX 3D glasses.

"Five out of the seven films in our 2006 line up now feature IMAX 3D," said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment. "We are thrilled that moviegoers will be able to experience Bryan Singer's unique and exhilarating vision. Through the magic of IMAX 3D, they will feel as if they are actually flying alongside the man of steel, weaving in and out of Metropolis." EDITOR'S NOTE: SO I SHOULD BRING SOME DRAMAMINE ALONG, I GUESS!

'Simpsons' off sofa to big screen

Homer Simpson has hit the big screen in a short teaser trailer announcing a theatrical feature version of the long-running TV series "The Simpsons."

The "Simpsons" teaser debuted Friday before screenings of 20th Century Fox's "Ice Age: The Meltdown."

The clip announces Fox's July 27, 2007, release date for "The Simpsons Movie."

The animated 28-second clip opens on a giant superhero "S" shield. "Leaping his way onto the silver screen," intones a narrator, "the greatest hero in American history!" Cut to Homer sitting on his couch in his tighty whities and T-shirt. "I forgot what I was supposed to say," Homer says. The narrator continues, " 'The Simpsons Movie,' coming to the screen July 27, 2007." "Uh, oh ...," says Homer, "we better get started."EDITOR'S NOTE: GUESS I'M GOING TO HAVE TO STUDY UP ON SIMPSONS LORE, SO ALL THE IN-JOKES DON'T GO OVER MY HEAD.

Paul Giamatti is Cinema's latest Santa Claus
Paul Giamatti’s going to take a breather from the opaque stuff for a while to do an outright comedy with Vince Vaughn.

The film, previously titled “Fred Claus” (due to a rights issue, they’re no longer able to use the name), centres on Santa’s black-sheep brother, who returns to the North Pole after vanishing a while back. Giamatti will play Santa himself, says Variety.

The film will be directed by Dave Dobkin - who previously worked with Vaughn on “Wedding Crashers”.

Jackson Will Manage 1408
Dimension Films has set Samuel L. Jackson to star in 1408.

Based on a short story by Stephen King, the story cetners on a debunker of paranormal occurrences (John Cusack) who encounters real terror when he checks into the notorious Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel. Jackson plays the manager of the hotel.

Mikael Hafstrom will direct from a script rewritten by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. Lorenzo di Bonaventura will produce.

Elvis,Charmed I'm sure
Former “Charmed” star Brian Krause is going from McGowan to Memphis.

According to TV Guide, the actor (wonder if he’s scrubbed “Return to the Blue Lagoon” off his CV, yet? hmmm) will join media-fave Tom Sizemore (“Natural Born Killers, “Heat”) for a new film called “The Headhunters”.

Says the site, “he'll play Elvis Presley's longtime friend and bodyguard. Tom Sizemore is his costar, so that should be a fun shoot.” Indeed. EDITOR'S NOTE: IF BY 'FUN' THEY MEAN HEAVILY INSURED AGAINST TOM SIZEMORE GETTING ARRESTED? AGAIN.

Various other sites have pegged John Bennett Perry (Yeah, Matt’s dad), Max Perlich (Whistler on “Angel”), Peter Dobson (“The Poseidon Adventure”) and Mark Rolston (“Profiler”) for supporting roles.

Bell, Sturridge & Palmer are JUMPERs

Regency Enterprises has signed Jamie Bell, Tom Sturridge and Teresa Palmer to star in JUMPER.

The story centers on a kid from a broken home who discovers that he has the ability to teleport. In his quest for the man he believes is responsible for the death of his mother, the kid draws the attention of both the NSA and another kid who has the same abilities. Sturridge will play the kid from the broken home, while Bell is the young man he meets, a jumper who shows him the ropes. Palmer will play the love interest.

Doug Liman will direct the film, which is based on Steven Gould's novel of the same name.

Another Rydell High Grad using Hairspray?
John ‘Danny Zuko’ Travolta isn’t the only ex-Rydell High student about to reignite his love affair with the microphone. Apparently, “Grease 2” starlet – who was a class below Zuko, I believe EDITOR'S NOTE: SNICKER. THE MOVIE CERTAINLY WAS.....AHEM..... – Michelle Pfeiffer is also now in talks to star in the musical redux “Hairspray”.

With Pfeiffer now close to singing onboard the New Line comedy, the film’s cast is shaping up to be a more star-sudded event than an MTV Movie Awards after-party. Also in the film are Billy Crystal and Queen Latifah.

Pfieffer has an amazing voice. Yeah OK, so “Grease 2” was about as finely tuned as a discount-store piano, but the gal really proved her singing ability in it (I can still hear her singing daggy hits like “Cool Rider”) Not to mention, how darn – ah, sexy too – fine she performed in the underrated “Fabulous Baker Boys”. Will be good to see her strutting her stuff again on screen. Let’s hope the deal gets made – and soon.


Laika Entertainment has picked up the rights to HERE BE MONSTERS! by Alan Snow. Henry Selick will oversee the adaptation of the book into an animated feature film.

The best-selling British children's novel centers on a young boy who tries to save his town from a dastardly takeover plot. He falls foul of the appalling outlaw, Snatcher, and is trapped alone in the town with every way home sealed. Meanwhile Snatcher and his men are working tirelessly in secret on a fiendish and dastardly plan to take over and destroy the entire town. With the help of Willbury Nibble, QC, some friendly boxtrolls and cabbageheads, a frustrated inventor and the rats & pirates from the Ratbridge Nautical Laundry, the young boy tries to thwart Snatcher's evil plans and find his way home. EDITOR'S NOTE: A PLUCKY BRITISH BOY (SOMETHING THE ISLE SEEMS TO CHUCK OUT LIKE LOLLIPOPS), A HAMMY RADA ELDER STATESMAN, SOME CHARACTER-TYPE BRIT HENCHMEN....AND A BUNCH OF CG STUFF. UMM....YAY.

Paramount Enrolls in H.I.V.E.
Paramount Pictures has picked up the rights to the young adult novel H.I.V.E. by Mark Walden.
The title stands for Higher Institute of Villainous Education, a venue where kids with off-the-charts criminal acumen are educated to become super-villains. EDITOR'S NOTE: I WONDER IF THEY ACCEPT POST-DOC APPLICANTS? (AND WHAT ABOUT FINANCIAL AID?)!

Lynda Obst will produce.

Dinklage is Sinister

Walt Disney Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment have set Peter Dinklage to play Simon Bar Sinister in the big screen version of UNDERDOG.

As previously reported, the live-action adaptation will center on the adventures of a humble dog named Shoeshine Boy who became the superheroic Underdog who spoke in rhymes.

Englund Steps Behind Camera
Robert Englund is set to direct KILLER PAD. Filming is scheduled to begin in late April.

The horror-comedy, written by Dan Stoller, centers on three friends who use money from an insurance claim to move out of their parents' homes. They score a place in the Hollywood Hills and refuse to believe that the house has a dark history.

The film will star Shane McRae, Eric Jungman and Daniel Franzese. EDITOR'S NOTE: WHO?

Wayne Rice and Avi Chesed will produce. Master P will do the soundtrack. EDITOR'S NOTE: OH. RIGHT. I'M NOT THE TARGET DEMO.

Deschanel and Webber among indie 'Life'-ers

Zooey Deschanel, Harry Dean Stanton, Bill Paxton, Chris Klein, Bruce McGill, Deborah Rush and Mark Webber are getting ready for "The Good Life," an indie coming-of-age drama by first-time director Steve Berra. Lance Sloane and Patrick Markey ("A River Runs Through It") are producing, while Paxton is executive producing. Phyliss Laing is co-producing.

Berra drew on his experiences to write the screenplay, which is set in a Nebraska town obsessed with football and tells the story of a mostly normal young man (Webber) who makes the best out of fitting in where he obviously doesn't. Deschanel is a girl who encourages the young man to pursue his own path, while Stanton is a movie theater owner who employs him. Klein is a bully ex-football player living off his high school fame, while McGill is the football coach who is a god in the town. Paxton plays a Judy Garland fan.

Delay saga for Luhrmann '30s project

Baz Luhrmann's untitled 1930s period epic starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, which was eyeing a September start date in Australia, has been pushed back because of scheduling conflicts and budget debates with 20th Century Fox, sources have confirmed. Crowe is set to star with Denzel Washington in Universal Pictures' "American Gangster," and the project will begin filming in July in New York, according to Universal. That film is being directed by Crowe's "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott and is being produced by Brian Grazer, who also produced Crowe's "A Beautiful Mind" and "Cinderella Man."

Because of the "Gangster" shooting schedule, while Crowe is committed to starring in the Luhrmann project, he could be unavailable to start another film in September.

"When Baz is ready, I'm there," Crowe told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Gangster" itself is getting a second incarnation. It originally was to have been directed by Antoine Fuqua with Washington starring as a Harlem heroin druglord and Benicio Del Toro as a New York City detective. EDITOR'S NOTE: LET ME KNOW WHEN LUHRMANN STARTS THE FILM UP AGAIN. I'LL NEED TO RE-UP MY MEDS.

Banderas set to lead trek as 'Conquistador'

Antonio Banderas has signed on to play famed Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes in "Conquistador," a historical epic being directed by Andrucha Waddington.

Conquistador tells the story of the fateful expedition led by Cortes that sailed west from Cuba in 1519, in hopes of expanding the Spanish Empire. Cortes and his band of soldiers came upon what is now Mexico and swiftly brought about the destruction of the Aztec empire, led by the legendary ruler Moctezuma. Nicholas Kazan ("Reversal of Fortune") wrote the screenplay. A September production start is anticipated on location in Spain, Mexico and South America


New Line has picked up the rights to the graphic novel POWER AND GLORY by Howard Chaykin.

The story revolves around a crime fighter who's genetically engineered to be a superhero but fears using his powers and needs to be teamed with a former CIA agent.

FREDDY VS. JASON's Damien Shannon and Mark Swift will adapt. Chris Bender and JC Spink will produce.

The graphic novel was first considered for adaptation to the big screen starting back in May 1998.

The CONAN Report


The Arnold continues to publish reports about a possible deal for Arnold Schwarzenegger to reprise his role as Conan.

In a note from a Warner Bros., an executive (presumably Alan Horn) stated, "The only thing I can tell you at this time is that the WB does want more than one Conan film since the property is seen as a franchise which has spawned toys, comic books, video games etc. I can also tell you that if Arnold wants to make two more Conan films, we will gladly make that deal happen."