Friday, August 04, 2006


Editor's Note: Too late. You obviously didn't run far enough or fast enough.

And speaking of "Die Hard" (which we were, earlier today; OB is now not just psyCHO, but also psychIC) ----

At the most recent Cannes Film Festival, Bruce Willis let slip that they are to start shooting "Die Hard 4" very soon... Editor's Note: As we reported earlier.....

The Top 8 Plotlines for "Die Hard 4"
8> Actually, the dying is pretty soft until the Viagra kicks in.
Editor's Note: naughty naughty naughty.....

7> Bruce Willis blows away the bad guys with his shotgun-toting sidekick, Dick Cheney.

6> Florida voters confuse John McClane with John McCain and elect Bruce Willis president.

5> Bruce teams with Danny Glover, Harrison Ford and Sylvester Stallone to free their Social Security checks from a vengeful government agency. Editor's Note: giggle. (oh....guilt. Someone spank me)

4> Aging cop John McClane's plans for a quiet evening at home are thwarted when he falls, breaks a hip, can't reach the remote and misses his favorite episode of "Punk'd."

3> Policeman John McClane is just trying to have a quiet vacation in Lebanon when he finds out Gunter Gruber, Hans's long-lost son, is the new head of Hezbollah.

2> Law enforcement officer John McClane is just trying to enjoy a quiet vacation in Iran....

and the Number 1 Plotline for "Die Hard 4"...

1> This time, he dies really, really, really, really hard.
Editor's Note: I don't write em, I just post em. (And why do I DO that, you ask? yeah....not sure.....EXCELLENT question......)

End of Week STAR WARS

Editor's Note: Given my determination to actually WORK at the office today, it is with great relief that I note that there is very little Star Wars news this week.

Thanks, Uncle G! Phew!

Thanks a Latte, Javva the Hutt
Look closely in the end credits of the Star Wars prequels and you might spot an unusual tribute.

Listed amongst the cast and crew is Javva the Hutt, the employee-adopted cafe that has been fueling artists at Industrial Light & Magic since May 23, 1997. Since relocating from the Marin County facility to the new San Francisco campus, Javva proprietor Michael Smith brews coffee not only for ILM, but for employees at LucasArts and Lucasfilm, as well as George Lucas himself.

"George's preferred coffee drink is a large mocha," Smith smiles. "But most people here live for their lattes."

While working at Skywalker Ranch 1989 to 1992, Smith became friends with corporate facility manager Ralph O'Rear who asked him if he'd like to officially caffeinate the visual effects artists responsible for the prequels. Smith jumped at the chance and has been the ILM barista ever since.

"My daughter Lily actually came up with the name Javva the Hutt," Smith recalls. "She was six years old at the time. It took about three months to get approval from Lucasfilm to use the name and image of Jabba." Editor's Note: Cause Uncle George LOVES you, and wants you to be caffeinated!

Since then, fictional Javva the Hutt cafes have popped up in comics, cartoons and even films. But Smith doesn't mind a bit.

"I don't care because I know there is only one real Javva the Hutt."

Having the cafe immortalized on the big screen wasn't too shabby either.

"Along with all the great support I received over the years from ILM employees, one of my biggest patrons is producer Rick McCallum," Smith says. "He was the one who pushed for me to be put in the end credits." Editor's Note: Yeah. Rickie DOES seem the high-test-caffeine sort of fellow.

When the company relocated to the Presidio, Lucas made sure Javva the Hutt was part of the move, much to the employees' delight.

Smith warns, however, that you probably shouldn't thank the filmmaker by insisting on a free cup of Joe.

"One time someone who had ordered a drink told me to put it on George's tab," Smith laughs. "The guy didn't realize that George was standing right behind him. I don't think I've ever seen anyone turn red so quickly."

Editor's Note: The Pics ----

Another gorgeous 2007 sneak pic: These location studies show unfamiliar angles of a familiar home world.

In this early production painting by Ralph McQuarrie, four humanoid figures march towards Princess Leia, because in this version of the story, Obi-Wan Kenobi lived to the end. Editor's Note: Tough luck, old dude! (pretty pic, though)!

Not sure WHAT this is all about, but I wonder if he does windows?

The cult of LOBOT?

Joe Johnston illustrates a wide-eyed alien design for Empire, which at one point was to be a denizen of Bespin. Editor's Note: Sort of reminds me of a cross between my dog and my dad. (Who has now written me out of what is LEFT of his will.....)

SO much catching up, and SO little time - TV

Editor's Note: MORE catching up on the fly. The QOTD's work is NEVER done. (hand to forehead, much dramatic pausing......)

Julianna Margulies joins THE LOST ROOM

Editor's Note: You'd think the website I stole.....umm COPIED....this item from would be able to come up with a more recent pic of the lovely Ms. Margulies. (I should find better folk from whence to PURLOIN).

Julianna Margulies, formerly of ER fame, has signed on to star in Sci Fi Channel's limited series THE LOST ROOM.

Margulies will play a mysterious woman who contacts a detective (Peter Krause) claiming that her brother was killed for a seemingly innocuous motel room key, one that actually has the power to unlock a door into a room full of unimaginable power. Editor's Note: Maybe the hotel staff should CLEAN the room more often? After he comes into possession of the key and his daughter (Elle Fanning) vanishes into the room, he forms an uneasy alliance with the woman.

Margulies will join Roger Bart in the series. Editor's Note: Creepy Roger Bart notwithstanding, anything with Julianna Margulies is on my watch-list.

THE LOST ROOM will be six-hours total and is set to premiere this December. Production is currently underway.

Sci Fi Channel acquires STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE

Editor's Note: Wow. They really don't make Vulcans like they USED to, huh?!

According to, the Sci Fi Channel has acquired the rights to multiple made-for-television movies and series from CBS Paramount Domestic Television, including Star Trek: Enterprise, the prequel series starring Scott Bakula and Jolene Blalock, as well as the series Haunted, Jake 2.0 and last fall's short-lived Threshold. The deal also includes exclusive cable rights to the classic series The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Darkside, several Stephen King miniseries and made-for-TV movies including Primal Force and Trilogy of Terror II.

ENTERPRISE is scheduled to debut early fall on the Sci Fi Channel. Editor's Note: This must be some sort of mistake. The SciFi Channel has accidentally purchased a bunch of.....urrr....SCIENCE FICTION! (Maybe they plan to run it on their sister-net USA?)

Fox developing vampire show
Editor's NOte: At the risk of being accused of being a pinko-liberal (not that I would MIND), WackyRupert's bullypulpit network putting on a VAMPIRE show seems very appropos, eh?

According to Variety, Fox has picked up AMY AFTER DARK from writer John Scott Shepherd and director Todd Holland.

The show will focus on a young New York attorney who discovers she's a vampire. Editor's Note: Again...a lawyer who is a vampire....Redundant? (apologies to attorney AND a Dweeb, so one mitigates the other).

Fox also picked up another untitled drama from Allan Loeb and Christian Taylor which is centered around a police detective who is secretly centuries old. Editor's Note: Except for the detective part, I'd say they know our dweebpal OddBob!

Shepherd, who is writing Amy, created and executive-produced ABC's short-lived drama The Days. Holland, who executive-produced and directed Fox's Wonderfalls, won an Emmy for his work on Malcolm in the Middle.

James Horner, a two-time Academy Award-winning composer, has composed the new musical theme for the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC, which debuts on Tuesday, Sept. 5 (6:30-7:00 PM, ET).

The musical theme will also be integrated into other CBS News programs over time.

Horner is one of today’s most successful composers of music for film. He won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“My Heart Will Go On”) for “Titanic” and has received seven additional Oscar nominations for his scores from “Apollo 13,” “Braveheart,” “Aliens,” “Field of Dreams,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “House of Sand and Fog” and the song “Somewhere Out There” from “An American Tail.”

He is the recipient of six Grammy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. Among the more than 100 film scores Horner has composed are those for “Legends of the Fall,” “The Mask of Zorro,” “Glory,” “Patriot Games” and “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.” Editor's Note: So even if Katie isn't doing well, we can all HUM along with the news and be mollified I guess?

Williams is transplanted to TNT pilot
Treat Williams has signed on to star in "Heartland," a drama pilot for TNT from Warner Horizon Television.

Williams will play Nathaniel Grant, a surgeon in the medical drama set in the high-stakes world of heart transplant surgery. Editor's Note: If Treat Williams plays a doctor often enough on TV, does he actually get to practice medicine for real?

The project hails from David Hollander, creator and executive producer of the CBS drama "The Guardian." The project was developed by Warner Bros. Television but will be produced through the newly formed Warner Horizon unit designed for cable and lower-budget series.

Williams' character is described as an intense, sleep-deprived surgeon whose devotion to his work takes a toll on his relationships, including his estranged wife, who works at the same hospital as the organ-recovery coordinator.

Many 'Masters' set for ABC show
Judy Davis, Sam Waterston and Anne Heche are among the long list of actors who have signed on to star in episodes of ABC's upcoming anthology series "Masters of Science Fiction."

Malcolm McDowell, James Cromwell, John Hurt, Sean Astin and Brian Dennehy also have signed on to star in installments of the six-episode series, which is based on short stories by some of the sci-fi genre's top writers.

The hourlong show is set to air during the 2006-07 season.

Other actors starring in episodes are Terry O'Quinn (ABC's "Lost"), Elisabeth Rohm (NBC's "Law & Order"), Clifton Collins Jr. (ABC's "Alias"), Kimberly Elise (CBS' "Close to Home") and James Denton (ABC's "Desperate Housewives"). EDitor's Note: WOW! I mean, incREDible list of people, huh? I hope the writing is as good as the star power! (based on top scifi short stories...I wonder which ones?) Wow!

SO much catching up, and SO little time - MOVIEs

Editor's Note: ARRRRgghhhhh! And that's all I have to say about how busy this week has been. (August ain't really DOG days. I mean, MY dog mostly lies around all day. August feels more like TIGGER days).

Bouncing along....

Upcoming DIE HARD film gets release date and title

Editor's Note: $%#%^&&! (insert favorite bad words here) ##$$%%^!

The upcoming DIE HARD film will be called LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and is set to be released on June 29, 2007. Editor's Note: Why wait for a script?! Bring it ON, dudes!

Pixar's upcoming animated film RATATOUILLE has also claimed that date for it's own release. The 4th of July falls on the following Wednesday.

DIE HARD's story centers on an attack on the U.S.' computer infrastructure that begins to shut the country down on the Fourth of July. The mysterious figure behind the scheme has figured out every digital angle but never counts on an old-fashioned, "analog" McClane.

"Our villain is high tech, but the way McClane deals with him is low-tech," said director Len Wiseman. "A fistfight still solves a lot of problems." Editor's Note: And yet, I am constantly being told NOT to hit people! It's SO unfair. (I love John McClane; He ROCKS)! He added that the fourth outing "will be a more epic movie. It's on a much grander scale. The threat is nationwide." Editor's Note: So that whole JM-in-the-Amazon thing went away, I guess? (Some previous incarnation of the script)?

The last DIE HARD film was released in 1995. Editor's Note: Ahh...but who's COUNTING!? (And that's why god created young side-kicks, right?)

Jon Turteltaub talks NATIONAL TREASURE 2

Director Jon Turteltaub talked with the LA Daily News about the upcoming film NATIONAL TREASURE 2, the sequel to the hit film NATIONAL TREASURE.

"We are just about to start pre-production," the director revealed. "We'll have Nic [Cage], Justin Bartha, Diane Kruger, Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel ... Everyone's back except anyone who's in jail or died." Editor's Note: Alas. No Sean Bean, then?

Turteltaub continues, saying there will be "exciting destinations within America as well as around the world. As we were shooting the first one, it kept changing, so I'm scared to commit to anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if Mount Rushmore made an appearance."

The sequel is said to focus on another treasure hunt which will take the characters to various historical sites throughout the US and abroad.

The film looks set for a November 29, 2007 release day while production should begin sometime in October via Jerry Bruckheimer Films. Editor's Note: And our man Jerry wouldn't let us down, eh?!

Christian Bale to star in 3:10 TO YUMA

Editor's Note: There ya go, Joel. All dressed up juuuuuuuuuust for YOU.

Christian Bale is in negotiations to star opposite Russell Crowe in the upcoming film 3:10 TO YUMA.

3:10 TO YUMA is based on the 1957 film that starred Glenn Ford as captured outlaw Ben Wade, who finds himself in the custody of small-time rancher Dan Evans. The rancher is secretly trying to take the outlaw to a railway station to catch a train to Yuma for the outlaw's court date. A battle of wills ensues.

Bale will play the rancher, while Crowe will play the outlaw. James Mangold is set to direct the film which will be financed by Relativity Media.

Both Tom Cruise and Eric Bana were rumored to be in contention for the role a few months ago, but Columbia recently put the film into turnaround, and neither star attached himself to the film. Editor's Note: Crowe and Bale are very good casting. Glad the Cruise/Bana thing didn't work out.

Relativity has taken hold of the film, it is now on track for a fall shoot.

Universal Pictures options comic THE LEADING MAN

Universal Pictures has optioned the rights to the comic book THE LEADING MAN from Oni Press.

The comic follows the adventures of the world's biggest movie star, Nick Walter. Walter uses his celebrity, access, lifestyle and his films' international location shoots as a cover for his real job, that of an international spy.

The comic, published on July 13, is written by B. Clay Moore and illustrated by Jeremy Haun. Editor's Note: Sounds like a Cary Grant film. Were he not already deceased. Casting ideas?

Agnieszka Vosloo will write and direct AFTER LIFE
Editor's Note: I just sprained my tongue trying to pronouce this person's name. Poooor fellow. (or girl?)
Agnieszka Vosloo has signed on to write and direct the upcoming film AFTER LIFE.

The film will follow a young woman in a transitional state between life and death who fights to avoid being buried alive and the funeral director who holds her fate in his hands.

Production on the film is tentatively set for this winter and will be Vosloo's feature debut.

HELLBOY 2 finds a home at Universal

Editor's Note: I don't really CARE about this movie, but the dude is so shiny and RED, I just HAD to post it. Shiny. And RED.

Universal Pictures has elected to fully finance and distribute HELLBOY 2, the sequel to the 2004 film HELLBOY. Guillermo del Toro will be back to direct the comic book adaption.

Universal picked up the film after it was left in limbo with Revolution Studios out of business. Revolution Studios made the original film via it's distribution deal with Columbia Pictures.

In a script by del Toro, Ron Perlman returns as Hellboy, the humanoid creature born in the flames of hell who was deposited on Earth's doorstep as an infant and battles otherworldly evil for a covert government agency. Editor's Note: I've always SUSPECTED the Postal Service was up to bigger things! Selma Blair returns as the horned hero's pyrokinetic love interest. Editor's Note: Why do they put Selma Blair in movies? It seems such a HUGE hurdle for any movie to have to overcome. (Not quite as bad as the Josh Hartnett hurdle, maybe, but still an uphill battle).

The film will aim for a summer 2008 release.

Liv Tyler joins STRANGERS

Liv Tyler has signed on to star in the upcoming film STRANGERS for Rogue Pictures. Bryan Bertino will write and direct the film.

STRANGERS is a suspense thriller revolving around a couple in a remote suburban house who are targeted by three dangerous masked strangers. Editor's Note: Which is why I bought MY house inner city!

Tyler will play the female half of the couple, the male role is still being cast. The film is aiming for an October 2007 release date.


Editor's Note: Despite the fact that I really don't care, this poster makes me care just a little bit LESS. ("it ain't over till it's over"? I'm thinking it was over a WHILE ago?)

Here is the poster for the upcoming film ROCKY BALBOA.

The next installment of Rocky will be headed back to theaters on December 22, 2006. The movie will be titled ROCKY BALBOA and stars Sylvester Stallone as Rocky.

In the film, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has now been retired for some time, but hard-up for money, he decides to step back into the ring against a few small-time boxers. Everything changes when Rocky is offered the opportunity to step in with the reigning Heavyweight Champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon. Does Rocky still have what it takes to make another Championship comeback?? Editor's Note: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The movie is being produced via a three-way deal between Revolution Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM.

"All three partners involved in this project are tremendously excited with this new film and Sony is thrilled to be handling international distribution of the motion picture as well as home entertainment on a worldwide basis," Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution Jeff Blake said. Editor's Note: And now, the audioanimatronic PR guy!

MGM will be handling domestic distribution for the film.

Terrence Howard in IRON MAN?
According to, Terrence Howard has been offered the role of Iron Man's friend, Jim Rhodes.

IRON MAN follows troubled billionaire Tony Stark who creates a life support suit to assist him after a life threatening accident, he ultimately decides to use its technology to fight evil and crime. Editor's Note: Yeah. I was going to do that on my lunch hour, but then I decided to BLOG instead. Rhodes would often don the Iron Man armor himself when Stark ... succumbed to his alcoholism.

Favreau has also posted on the MySpace for IRON MAN to address concerns over the films villain.

"We live in a different society than when the Mandarin was originally conceived. We in no way want to perpetuate any ridiculous stereotypes. The aspect of the Mandarin that is appealing to us is his mysterious and formidable nature," Favreau explained. "He is the most powerful and definitive of the Iron Man villains. He also allows us to weave in other fan pleasing 'personalities' as he is a mastermind and not simply a brutish thug. The Mandarin presents the best opportunity to write a complex and colorful character." Editor's Note: Plus, all the snide British actors, and all the good Middle-Eastern actors were already doing OTHER baddies, so they HAD to branch out.

Favreau added, "I happen to think that any portrayal of this villain similar to the early books would be comical at best and offensive at worst. Neither result is what we are going for. I hope to update the paradigm and create a character who is a villain because of what he does, not where he's from or what he looks like."

IRON MAN is set to hit theaters on May 2, 2008.

Weta Digital and Joe Letteri doing visual effects on AVATAR
According to The Hollywood Reporter, James Cameron has signed Joe Letteri and Weta Digital to create the visual effects, creatures and enviorments for his upcoming film AVATAR.

"Weta has proven themselves a leader in visionary effects, especially in the area of performance capture based character animation, which is a big part of my new film," Cameron said.

AVATAR, which also has gone under the cover title Project 880, follows a paraplegic war veteran who is brought to another planet inhabited by a humanoid race at odds with Earth's citizens.

Letteri is a three-time Oscar winner, along with his Wellington, N.Z.-based team, for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and King Kong.

AVATAR will debut in theaters sometimes in the summer of 2008

McMahon only the voice of Dr. Doom?
According to, Julian McMahon may only be providing the voice of Dr. Doom in the upcoming film FANTASTIC FOUR AND THE SILVER SURFER.

Chris Showerman may play the man in the Dr. Doom suit, leaving McMahon only to provide the voice. Dr. Doom will be totally masked throughout the film.

Rumors have said Showerman recently met with Twentieth Century Fox regarding the role. Editor's Note: Kind of a lazy day at the office for McMahon, if true.

Warner Bros. acquires SLEEPER CODE

Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to SLEEPER CODE, a novel by Tom Sniegoski. Jason Keller will adapt the novel into a thriller for the studio.

In SLEEPER CODE, the lead character suffers from an extreme form of narcolepsy, forcing him to be home-schooled and to work out of the house. When his psychologist is murdered and his files go missing, he discovers he hasn't been sleeping at all. Editor's Note: I'm confused. Narcolepsy is when you fall asleep at the drop of a hat. So he just THINKS he has narcolepsy, but he's really awake? Huh?

SLEEPER CODE was published last month by Penguin. It is the first of a series of novels which will be refashioned as an adult franchise.

Peter Donaldson, Stacy Maes and Jay Sanders will produce the film.

Pullman likes Dick
Editor's Note: I don't write the titles. This one is NOT my fault.

The always versatile Bill Pullman (“Independence Day”, “Casper”, “Zero Effect”) will play legendary author Philip K.Dick (“Minority Report”, “Bladerunner”) in the film “Panasonic”, says Production Weekly.

The Matthew ‘Break My Stride’ Wilder directed film will be quite exceptional, by the sounds. It’ll fix on how the lines between reality and perception blur in the mind of the infamous Sci-Fi writer – who’s constantly determined there are conspiracies plotting against him and experiences drug-fueled interdimensional shifts.

Clooney starring in Pet Sematary redo?
George Clooney is about to raise some hell.
The actor will front a remake of horror classic “Pet Sematary”, says Bloody Disgusting.

Clooney will play the Dale Midkiff role in the film, a father so distraught after the unfortunate death of his son that he buries him in a Pet Cemetery, originally an old Indian burialground, which encompasses the power to resurrect dead animals. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of cemetery you want to bury kids at, as he and his wife soon discover. Editor's Note: Why would Clooney do this movie? Seems an odd choice given where his career has been of late?

Dave Kajganich wrote the redo.

Chris Noth In A Frame Of MindA conspiracy thriller

Another day, another innocent person stumbling into a giant government conspiracy on film. People really shouldn’t leave those things lying around. Editor's Note: Giggle. REALLY! (at least there are hunky guys to figure it out and save the day when they DO leave them where anyone can trip over them)!

Sex And The City’s Chris Noth is the latest unfortunate soul who will be discovering government shenanigans in Frame Of Mind, as a cop finds out that things just aren’t what they seem.

The multi-tasking Carl T Evans is not only his co-star, but also the director and a writer on the film along with Charles Kipps.

It’ll kick off in New Jersey this October.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another Quickie (this one from CBS)

Editor's Note: For someone who uses the word 'quickie' a lot, you'd think I'd be having more fun?


No dweebing time to speak of today. (Actually doing some what-they-pay-me-for work at the office today....go figger).

CBS Sets Premieres for Week of Sept. 18
Reality Series Scheduled for Earlier Debuts

By Christopher Lisotta
Broadcaster CBS has set the week of Sept. 18 for 20 of its 22 fall series premieres, with two of its reality offerings debuting the week before.

Longtime reality veteran "Survivor: Cook Islands" will premiere on Thursday, Sept. 14, with CBS's other reality stalwart "The Amazing Race 10" moving to its new Sunday timeslot on Sept. 17 with a special 90-minute broadcast.

With only four debuting series and few schedule changes, CBS has one of the most stable fall lineups among the networks. CBS has claimed the top spot among all viewers for the last four seasons while struggling to gain ground among the 18- to 49-year-old viewers coveted by advertisers. The network last season was ranked third among that age group behind an "American Idol"-powered Fox and a resurgent ABC.

The rest of CBS's premiere schedule is listed below:
Editor's Note: All times EST....of course.

Monday, Sept. 18
8p.m. "The Class" (Series Premiere)
8:30p.m. "How I Met Your Mother" (2nd Season Premiere)
9p.m. "Two and a Half Men" (4th Season Premiere)
9:30 p.m. "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (2nd Season Premiere)
10p.m. "CSI: Miami" (5th Season Premiere)

Tuesday, Sept. 19
8p.m. "NCIS" (4th Season Premiere)
9p.m. "The Unit" (2nd Season Premiere)
10 p.m. "Smith" (Series Premiere)

Wednesday, Sept. 20
8p.m. "Jericho" (Series Premiere)
9p.m. "Criminal Minds" (2nd Season Premiere) Editor's Note: Almost time to go re-watch the very intense and confusing season finale from May. (which I ever-so-cleverly saved!)
10p.m. "CSI: NY" (3rd Season Premiere)

Thursday, Sept. 21
8p.m. "Survivor: Cook Islands"
9p.m. "CSI" (7th Season Premiere) Editor's Note: Time sure flies when you're analyzing stomach contents and examining maggots, huh?
10p.m. "Shark" (Series Premiere)

Friday, Sept. 22
8p.m. "Ghost Whisperer" (2nd Season Premiere)
9p.m. "Close to Home" (2nd Season Premiere)
10p.m. "Numb3rs" (3rd Season Premiere)

Saturday, Sept. 23
8 p.m. "Crimetime Saturday" (two hour procedural repeat block) Editor's Note: A 2 hour block of REPEATS has a premiere date? (Wouldn't the premiere date have been about 3 years ago?)
10 p.m. "48 Hours Mystery" (Season Premiere)

Sunday, Sept. 24
7p.m. "60 Minutes" (39th Season Premiere) Editor's Note: Wow. Older than ME! (ummmm.....anyone buying this?)
8p.m. "The Amazing Race 10"
9 p.m. "Cold Case" (4th Season Premiere)
10p.m. "Without a Trace" (5th Season Premiere)
Editor's Note: So I only have to pretend to have a life for another month and a half! (phew).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Couple of Semi-Breaking Dweeb Items

Editor's Note: First up, We had heard the rumors, but now it's confirmed ---

Heath Ledger to Play Joker in Next 'Batman'

Heath Ledger will play The Joker in the sequel to last year's "Batman Begins," Warner Bros. studio announced. "The Dark Knight" is set to begin production next year.

Christian Bale again will play Batman. Christopher Nolan will repeat as director.

Ledger was nominated for a best-actor Oscar for his role as an anguished gay ranch hand in last year's "Brokeback Mountain."

"Our challenge in casting The Joker was to find an actor who is not just extraordinarily talented but fearless," Nolan said in the Warner Bros. statement issued Monday. "Watching Heath Ledger's interpretation of this iconic character taking on Christian Bale's Batman is going to be incredible."
Editor's Note: Doesn't seem an OBVIOUS casting choice, but I'm sure it will be good.

Don’t kill Harry Potter, authors urge Rowling
Stephen King, John Irving make plea during charity reading event

NEW YORK - Two of America’s top authors, John Irving and Stephen King, made a plea to J.K. Rowling Tuesday not to kill the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter in the final book of the series, but Rowling made no promises.

My fingers are crossed for Harry,” Irving said at a joint news conference before a charity reading by the three writers at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

The author of “The World According to Garp” and a string of other bestsellers said he and King felt like “warm-up bands” for Rowling, who is working on the seventh and last book in the Harry Potter series, and who has said two characters will die.

King, who shot to fame in 1974 with “Carrie,” said he had confidence that Rowling would be “fair” to her hero. Editor's Note: Of course, if it were KING writing the 7th HP book, Hermione and Ron would likely go insane, kill everyone, and eat their raw remains. (Harry included).

“I don’t want him to go over the Reichenbach Falls,” King said in a reference to Arthur Conan Doyle’s effort to kill off the character of fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. Pressure from fans eventually led Conan Doyle to resurrect Holmes, who was found in a later story to have survived.

New book well underway, Rowling saysRowling, a Briton whose books have sold 300 million copies worldwide according to her publishers, said she was well into the process of writing the final book.

“I feel quite liberated,” she said.

“I can resolve the story now and it’s fun in a way it wasn’t before because finally I’ve reached my resolution, and I think some people will loathe it and some people will love it, but that’s how it should be.”

“We’re working towards the end I always planned but a couple of characters I expected to survive have died and one character got a reprieve,” she said, declining to elaborate. Editor's Note: Tease Tease TEASE. (And if we don't all stop nudging her about Harry's finale, SHE's likely to go insane, kill all the characters, and eat their raw remains).

Asked about the wisdom of killing off fictional characters, Rowling said she didn’t enjoy killing the major character who died in book six — for the sake of those who haven’t read it yet she avoided naming the victim — but she said the conventions of the genre demanded the hero go on alone.

I understand why an author would kill a character from the point of view of not allowing others to continue writing after the original author is dead,” she added, leaving the door open to the worst fears of some fans — that Harry could die.

Getting involvedKing recalled that when he had a character kick a dog to death in his novel “Dead Zone” he received more letters of complaint than ever, to his surprise.

You want to be nice and say ‘I’m sorry you didn’t like that,’ but I’m thinking to myself number one, he was a dog not a person, and number two, the dog wasn’t even real,” he said. Editor's Note: Ok. NOW it's official. I want Harry Potter to kill Stephen King (and what the heck, eat his raw remains).

I made that dog up, it was a fake dog, it was a fictional dog, but people get very, very involved,” King said. Editor's Note: May you be BITTEN by a fictional DOG. (you mean, fictional dog, kicker, You!)

Rowling noted that Irving had killed off many more characters than she had.

When fans accuse me of sadism, which doesn’t happen that often, I feel I’m toughening them up to go on and read John and Stephen’s books,” she said. “I think they’ve got to be toughened up somehow. It’s a cruel literary world out there. Editor's NOte: Ah Brit wit. I think perhaps British people are just BETTER than we are.

Monday, July 31, 2006

A MONDAY Gathering of DWEEBing

Editor's Note: First up, big birthday news ----

Happy birthday JKR and Harry!
Today, our favorite author and her brainchild Harry Potter turn 41 and 26 respectively.

A man for all seasons

Editor's Note: In a not-traditionally-handsome sort of way, he is QUITE yummy.

FIGHTING through the crowds spewing out of Sloane Square tube station, I spy Harry Potter's nemesis, Professor Severus Snape, sloping by in the sunshine, chewing on a sandwich. And this, I promise Alan Rickman a few minutes later, will be the only reference to those films and that role over the next hour or so. Editor's Note: this has really NOTHING to do with Harry Potter, but Mr. Rickman is yummy enough to deserve reportage...dweeb-relevant or no. For, sighs the aquiline-profiled actor, who has graced films such as Dogma, Truly Madly Deeply and Sense and Sensibility, and who is famously lusted after by women of a certain age for his effortless ability to exude languorous sensuality, all anyone ever wants to talk to him about is what it's like being a wizard.

Nonetheless, it must make a change from forever being asked how come he's so good at being bad - Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the BBC's Barchester Chronicles, in which he was the slithery Obadiah Slope, a seductive serpent in a cassock. Or, indeed, whether there's any truth in his co-star Lindsay Duncan's claim that audiences used to leave the theatre after seeing him in Les Liaisons Dangereuses wanting to have sex. "And preferably with Alan Rickman."

"Oh, God, it's years since I played the villain," says Rickman wearily. "I haven't played a baddie for ages." Editor's Note: Oh? So what are you telling us? Snape is a good guy!?

Clearly, the 'best baddie' persona and the sultry sex symbol image bore him to tears and bear no relation to the man himself, who comes across as seriously intelligent, thoughtful and amusing, with a nice line in sarcasm. The wickedest man in Britain? It's only acting, ladies, so stop sending him all those mildly obscene fan letters. "I am a feminist, so I don't understand how you can have this effect on me..." is typical.

The bad news for all who write to him in a similar vein is that Rickman is a one-woman man. He has had the same girlfriend for more than 40 years - Rima Horton, an economics lecturer at Kingston University. Clever, very chic, she has stood twice as a Labour candidate for parliament and lost, unsurprisingly, in cast-iron Tory seats. She also lost her place on Kensington and Chelsea's council in May's local government elections. "She was part of the national shift, so she's a free woman - a dangerous thought," says Rickman, flashing a smile.

They met when they were students at Chelsea School of Art. He was 19; Horton a year younger. She was his first girlfriend, to whom he has remained steadfastly faithful, although they've never married or had children. He carefully guards the sanctity of his private life and that of his many close friends, among them the actors Ruby Wax, Juliet Stevenson, Geraldine McEwan and Richard Wilson. Interviews with him, therefore, are few and far between.

Today is an exception, though, because he has both a play and a film coming to Edinburgh next month. And he and I have met before, years ago, when he starred in Tango at the End of Winter at the Festival. As he shakes my hand - with a grip so firm it makes my fingers ache - he mentions that meeting, out of sheer good manners, I'm sure.

So here we are, at the stage door of the Royal Court Theatre, where, looking elegantly rumpled in jeans, navy pinstripe jacket and black shirt, Rickman is still chomping on his toasted panini. He offers me half - which I politely refuse, although certain women of my acquaintance would have accepted and preserved the crumbs like a piece of the true cross.

He charms the stage doorkeeper into making me a cup of coffee - he has brought his own - and finds us a large, empty rehearsal room, where we talk about the play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, and his new film, Snowcake. This is not bad going, given the fact that he later tells me, somewhat mournfully and sounding very Eeyoreish, that every day he looks in the shaving mirror and waves goodbye to yet another major role in theatre or film. "Suddenly, you're 20 years too old for all those roles you planned to do."

He was 60 in February. He has always been guarded about his age, since he was a late-starter - he worked as a graphic artist until he was 25, before going to RADA. In 1991, for example, he told me he thought he was "far too old" for Hamlet. (He went on to play the gloomy prince on the London stage the following year for the legendary Russian director Robert Sturua.) When I asked how old he was then, he refused to tell me, snorting, "It's ridiculous; I don't know why there is this fascination with age. 'Alan Rickman, blah, blah,' in brackets..."

The years may be advancing, but he shouldn't moan. The dark-blond hair may be silvering, but not only does he still get big, meaty roles in movies (he has made three in rapid succession, and in Snowcake he even gets bedded by a vampish young woman), he directs too. His critically acclaimed, pitch-perfect production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the story of a young American peace activist who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip, is tipped to be one of the must-see plays on this year's Fringe. He has refused all interview requests about the play, which is superbly designed by Hildegard Bechtler, the wife of Bill Paterson. It has already had a successful run in London, after the original off-Broadway production was dramatically derailed in New York.

Meanwhile, Snowcake, in which he plays opposite Sigourney Weaver (as an autistic woman) and The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss (as the aforementioned vamp), brings Hollywood glamour to the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Weaver - an old friend of the actor since they made the sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest together - will be jetting in to promote it with him.

All this, plus the release this autumn of a film of Patrick Suskind's bestselling masterpiece Perfume, in which Rickman stars alongside Dustin Hoffman. He has also made a low-budget American indie movie, Nobel Son, a darkly comic tale of a dysfunctional family in which he plays a Nobel prize-winning American physicist. "He's an egomaniac beyond belief. It was terribly enjoyable to play, like going back to panto. All I knew was I needed wonky teeth, so I got my dentist to make me a set. I got on the plane with no character and a set of overlapping teeth." Editor's Note: Wonky Teeth ( a great name for a band, by the by) seems like something that would be more Brit than American?

Currently, though, Rickman is rehearsing the Edinburgh production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, which he has re-cast with 22-year-old Josephine Taylor, fresh out of drama school. Taylor was chosen in March to understudy the Californian-born actress Megan Dodds, who debuted in the role. (Dodds will play Rachel again when the play transfers to New York in October.) "I've never spoken before about My Name Is Rachel Corrie because it's not about me, and I've always been fiercely protective of Rachel's parents, Cindy and Craig, and of Rachel," says Rickman.

He edited Corrie's writings with Katharine Viner, a journalist on The Guardian, the newspaper that published the 23-year-old's e-mail messages home following her tragic death in March 2003. A middle-class student from Olympia, Washington, Rachel joined the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza. Barely two months later she was run over and killed as she attempted to stop an Israeli army bulldozer destroying a Palestinian home.

On the morning we meet, the headlines are dominated by the crisis in the Middle East, so the issues raised by this passionate, poignant piece of theatre could not be more timely.

"This terrible situation simply proves that the play needs to be seen, and to go on being seen," he says quietly, "because it comes from a very human perspective and it's not about taking sides at all."

Does he not find it ironic, then, that the original production, at New York Theater Workshop, was "postponed" by artistic director James Nicola, "because of the edgy situation", citing the fact that the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, had recently slipped into a coma and Hamas had been elected? Surely, ironically, the theatre was taking sides?

"I don't think so," replies Rickman, who makes no secret of the fact that he is politically involved, a Labour party supporter.

"The real irony for me was that we had a situation where two independent theatres were in some kind of conflict, which, given the world we are living in, was a great pity. I hope that it's resolved now." Nonetheless, when the play goes back to New York, it will be to another theatre, with new producers.

Rickman was quoted as saying that the cancellation of the production was due to "censorship born out of fear", after Nicola revealed the vehement response of Jewish friends and advisers to the play, some of whom regarded it as "a piece of anti-Israeli agit-prop".

"Well, I had to say that about censorship, didn't I?" replies Rickman in measured tones, circumflexing an eyebrow. "We can only guess at the sort of political pressure they were under. I don't feel anything but understanding of their problems. In any case, one of the new producers, Dena Hammerstein, is Jewish herself. Who knows? More rocks may still be thrown in our path, because the subject-matter is a hot potato."

Nicola's decision was condemned by Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and Vanessa Redgrave, a longtime supporter of Palestinian rights. Now Rickman only wants the play to be seen by as many people as possible.

"There are times when a piece of work attaches itself to you in a very deep way. For this important play to be turned into a personality thing would be inappropriate; that's why it's not about me."

Rickman read Rachel's e-mails in the newspaper. "Two things stick in my mind: one was that the writing didn't feel as if it wanted to be trapped on a page for ever, it wanted to be spoken. The second is, I might not have read that paper, just as I haven't got round to reading one today - I might not have known," he says, trying to imagine the unimaginable.

Immediately, he left his home in west London and went to the Royal Court to suggest to Ian Rickson, the artistic director, that they should do something with it.

"Then Rachel's parents arrived in London. They were a bit dazed, not just by what had happened to their daughter, but because this theatre was saying, 'We want to do a play based on her writings.' But they are remarkable people. There was never any bitterness or anger, only reasonableness and a desire for justice - because there has never been an investigation into Rachel's death."

The Corries gave Rickman "everything" - Rachel's school notebooks, jottings, diaries, poems.

"We got 182 pages, from the time she was 12 up to the Gaza e-mails. I went to the Corries' home, in Washington, and spent time with them. 'Don't put her on a pedestal,' they said to me. But I was always concerned that this would not be a 90-minute polemic. You come, you make up your own mind," he says. "Of course, when Cindy and Craig saw the play, they were like human waterfalls."

When I saw the production, I veered between wanting to shake Rachel for her naivety and wanting to embrace this "scattered and deviant and loud" young woman for her intelligence, spirit, honesty and courage.

"I'm so glad you felt that, because that's exactly how I hope audiences will feel," responds Rickman. "This isn't a play about Palestine or Israel, it's about being a citizen of the world."

The play ends with a video of a ten-year-old Rachel galvanising her schoolmates with a speech about world hunger. "People say to Craig and Cindy, 'Who wrote that for her?' Unbelievable! But that's not as bad as the person who said at one after-show discussion, 'It's just a pity you couldn't get a better actress for the video at the end.'

"The crucial thing for me about the play is that it corrects the slanders on the internet about Rachel and the way she has been demonised - such as, 'Did you know she was a member of Hamas?' She was just this normal, all-American girl who cared. Do I know her? I go to their home - what Rachel called 'a doll's house, floral world' - and I realise I don't know the half of it. There are all those family photographs on the piano - another life.

"I know Rachel only as I know any character, the way I know Alex Hughes, say, the man I play in Snowcake, who is probably more like me than anyone I've ever played. He's very close to me, because I enjoy playing somebody who is just doing his best - that's me."

If Rickman is Alex, he's also an honourable man with an enormous hinterland of grief and guilt. A kind man - as Carrie-Anne Moss tells him in the low-budget Canadian film, which opened this year's Berlin film festival - who has "a face with interesting baggage". Or, as Alex responds drily, "In my case, haulage."

Rickman asks me not to give away how he ends up caring for the autistic mother - Weaver's character - of a young hitchhiker. But you'll need the Kleenex as the frozen wastes of Alex's heart thaw and Weaver enjoys the orgiastic pleasures of snow.

"I love that movie; I hope people get it," he says. "It's funny, full of light and hope. Great friendships were made on it. By the time the money needed to make it was eventually raised, it had stopped snowing in Wawa, in northern Ontario, where it's set, but the locals saved snow for us in their sheds and garages."

With Rickman bespectacled and in an anorak, it's all a far cry from the lace cuffs of the vulpine Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, or indeed the truly madly creepy Professor Severus Snape.

HE may have aristocratic looks, but Alan Rickman was raised on a council estate in Acton, London. Of Irish-Welsh parentage, he is the second of four children. His father, Bernard, a painter and decorator, died of cancer when his son was eight. That silkily sexy, languid tone and delivery are the result of a speech impediment he was born with - the award-winning actor cannot move his jaw properly, which gives him a voice unlike anyone else's.

At 12, he won a scholarship to Latymer Upper, a private school in Hammersmith (the alma mater of Hugh Grant and Mel Smith), where his interest in acting was piqued. He and Rima did am-dram shows together until Rickman finally applied to RADA. One of his first major roles was at the Citizens Theatre, in Glasgow, where he was in Giles Havergal's renowned 1980 production of Brecht's Fears and Miseries of the Third Reich. "Layers of authoritarian corruption are laid bare with merciless economy and real glee," wrote one critic of Rickman's performance.

"I can't tell you what it meant to know that the Citizens would give you an audition if you asked - and, if they thought you were pretty enough, a job. I miss it. They changed all our lives," Rickman says, adding that he is planning a return to the stage soon. "It's still under discussion," he says, adding that it will be the first piece of theatre he has done since Private Lives, in the West End in 2001.

In the past year, Rickman has worked and travelled incessantly. Perfume, directed by Tom Tykwer, who made Run Lola Run, was filmed in Barcelona, on a budget of £35 million.

"The malodorous world of 18th-century Paris is brilliantly conjured up in the film, which is very beautiful," he says. "I love perfumes. Every morning when my girlfriend and I come down to the courtyard in our block of flats we're assailed by the most delicious scent - jasmine round a doorway. It almost makes me swoon."

There, I think, you have the contradiction that is Rickman: an actor who can do bad-smell-under-the-nose disdain to the manner born and a guy who makes time to sniff the posies. But, ladies, I beg of you, do not bombard him with bouquets of jasmine. Just carry on lusting in the privacy of a darkened auditorium. Editor's Note: What an oddly-written piece. As much about the author as the subject, I think. Still...Mr. R IS yummy.....

Kidman plots path to NL's 'Compass'

Nicole Kidman is in final negotiations to star in "The Golden Compass," New Line Cinema's adaptation of the first installment of author Philip Pullman's best-selling "His Dark Materials" trilogy being directed by Chris Weitz.

Dakota Blue Richards already has been cast as Lyra, a girl who discovers she is at the heart of a hideous conspiracy and that the fate of many children rests with her. She embarks on a journey to the far north to save her best friend and encounters shape-shifting creatures, witches and a variety of otherworldly characters. Kidman will play Mrs. Coulter, a sinister scholar and socialite with a mysterious past who has a secret link to Lyra. Editor's Note: A PERFECT role for Kidman (who I feel has few roles appropriate to her limited skills). The part is cold and haughty. I think Ms.K can pull that off without stretching too much. (ahem).....

Warner Brothers is BENIGHTED
Warner Brothers and Initial Entertainment have acquired a werewolf novel, BENIGHTED, by Kit Whitfield. Graham King will produce and Andrew Adamson will develop the film with an eye to direct.

BENIGHTED is an alternate reality story in which 90 percent of the population is werewolf. Everyone else must keep the peace during the full moon. Editor's Note: Sort of like PLEDGE week on fraternity row....if 90 percent of the school went Greek. (And had very big teeth). Random House, which published in the United Kingdom, will also publish the book in the United States. The book has core themes of racism and alienation wrapped in a drama with vast visual-effects possibilities.

Adamson has been busy of late, starting the SHREK franchise before directing THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA for Disney. He is currently gearing up to film the NARNIA sequel.

Ryan Philipee is Harvey Dent?

An interesting rumor making rounds around the Internet is that Ryan Phillippe is a possible choice as Harvey Dent in the upcoming BATMAN BEGINS sequel.

This is just a rumor, he has not been confirmed in the role. Another name that has been dangled is Liev Schreiber.

Harvey Dent would likely be a friend of Batman's in the upcoming film, only to turn into Two Face in the third installment.

Ratatouille Cast Announced
Pixar's next film gets voice list

Editor's Note: Rodents are funny!

They’ve teased us with a trailer, but now Pixar is finally ready to reveal the full information about their next film, Ratatouille.

Disney has revealed that the voice cast for the rodent comedy is a typically megastar line-up that includes comedian Patton Oswalt, Brian Dennehy, Brad Garrett, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm and – like it could be any other way – John Ratzenberger.

The plot sees a rat named Remy (Oswalt) dreaming of becoming a top-rated French chef despite the fact that he’s the sort of pest banned from kitchens for health reasons. Still, Remy hasn’t given up hope and when he’s lucky enough to find himself in the sewers of Paris, beneath the restaurant of his hero Auguste Gusteau (Garrett) he sees his chance.

The film will arrive next year, and is co-directed by The Incredibles’ Brad Bird and Geri’s Game short film maker Jan Pinkava. Editor's Note: These animated celeb-fests are all pretty good, but they're starting to blur together, huh?

Justin Long joins DIE HARD 4

Justin Long has signed on to join Bruce Willis in the upcoming film, DIE HARD 4, according to writes, "While the official announcement is expected within the next few days, the IESB can confirm that he is in the final stages of his negotiations. He will either play the son of John McClane, of course, reprised by Bruce Willis or a computer hacker that he teams up with."

"We're as close as we've ever got to getting Die Hard 4 started," Willis said of the film a couple months ago. "It won't be called Die Hard 4 but that will be the story. Hopefully it will be out next summer." Editor's Note: oooo...danger will robinson, danger danger. Sounds kinda iffy on having the act (ie script) together, hmm?

A rumored working title was Die Hard 4: Die Hardest, but that will probably change in the near future if the project gets underway again.

The original Die Hard hit theaters in 1988.

Adams on 'War' path with Hanks
Amy Adams is in negotiations to star opposite Tom Hanks in "Charlie Wilson's War" for Universal Pictures. Mike Nichols is directing the drama, which is being produced by Hanks and Gary Goetzman via Playtone.

The story tells of the CIA's largest and most successful covert CIA operation, the arming of the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan. The covert ops were engineered by Charlie Wilson (Hanks), a charismatic, wheeler-dealer, liberal Texas congressman who teamed with a rogue CIA operative. The two manipulated Congress, the CIA and a host of foreign governments in order to assist the Afghan rebels in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s. Many of the men armed by the CIA went on to become the Taliban's enforcers and Osama bin Laden's protectors.

Melissa George in 30 DAYS OF NIGHT

Melissa George will star opposite Josh Hartnett in the upcoming film 30 DAYS OF NIGHT for Sony. Editor's Note: Not sure if I have forgiven her yet for stealing Vaughn from Sydney Bristow in "Alias". (And then there's the whole problem of any movie with Josh Hartnett having a warning sign on it....)

Based on a Steve Niles graphic novel, the story is set in a sleepy, secluded Alaska town called Barrow, the sun sets and doesn't rise for over thirty consecutive days and nights. From the darkness, across the frozen wasteland, an evil will come that will bring the residents of Barrow to their knees. The only hope for the town is the Sheriff (Hartnett) and Deputy (George), a husband and wife who are torn between their own survival and saving the town they love.

The film will be directed by David Slade.

Stephen David Brooks will direct BREW
Stephen David Brooks (Heads N TailZ) will direct the upcoming horror film BREW for The Ilya Salkind Company, according to

BREW is the story of a self-styled loser who inherits a family brewery drowning in debt. His girlfriend convinces him to restart the family business despite the rumors that the brewery is haunted by his blood thirsty relatives, The Rhineharts.

Larry Kirchner and the late James Dean Schulte penned the screenplay. Joe Majestic will produce the film for the company.

The cast will be comprised of horror veterans, upcoming talent, and unknowns selected from a nationwide talent search. Editor's Note: Well...I always say, if you can't buy a decent script, get a catchy casting gimmick!

Randle passes bar for regular role on 'Intent'
The casting reshuffle on NBC's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" continues, with Theresa Randle joining Dick Wolf's crime drama next season.

Meanwhile, Dan Byrd and newcomer Adhir Kalyan have landed the two leads in the CW comedy pilot "Aliens in America."

Additionally, Julie Gonzalo and Chris Lowell have closed deals to join the cast of CW's drama series "Veronica Mars" as regulars.

Randle has been tapped to do three episodes of "CI" with an option to continue on the show as a regular. She replaces Nona Gaye. Editor's Note: With all the casting shifts, the "CI" cast will need to hold little id signs for the first couple of episodes, so we can figure out who's who.

Polo has 'Legacy' at Lifetime
Teri Polo has signed on to star in "Legacy of Fear," a telefilm for Lifetime.

The project, from writer John Benjamin Martin, centers on JJ (Polo), a thirtysomething female detective in pursuit of a serial killer who 30 years earlier murdered her mother before her eyes.

Also cast in the film is Zachary Bennett. Don Terry is directing the movie, which is being filmed in Montreal. Jean Bureau, Stephen Greenberg and Anne Carlucci are executive producing. Editor's Note: From "The West Wing" to Lifetime chick-in-jep....poor thing.

Singer in pilot deal with ABC

Bryan Singer has inked a rich, three-for-one deal with ABC. Under the seven-figure pact, Singer, the director of such blockbusters as "X-Men," "X2: X-Men United" and most recently "Superman Returns," will develop three scripts for the network, one of which is guaranteed to go to pilot.

Singer, who will develop the projects through his company Bad Hat Harry Prods., will executive produce and direct the pilot.

This is the first formal television deal for Singer, who spearheaded the early development of Sci Fi Channel's critically praised series "Battlestar Galactica," executive produced the channel's miniseries "The Triangle" and directed and executive produced the pilot for Fox's medical drama "House." Singer is an executive producer on "House," which has emerged as a blockbuster hit for Fox and recently landed a best drama series Emmy nomination.

Del Toro goes small screen for deal at Fox
Filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro is crossing over to television with an overall deal at 20th Century Fox Television.

Under the one-year deal, Del Toro, known for such sci-fi/fantasy features as "Hellboy" and "Blade II," will develop and executive produce one-hour series projects for the studio. He plans to write or co-write a drama for the studio. He also is set to direct a one-hour pilot.

"He is the pre-eminent genre writer-director in the feature world," 20th TV president Gary Newman said of Del Toro. "When you sit in a room with him and see how wildly imaginative he is, you know you're going to get projects that are unique." Editor's Note: Ever feel like these studio guys have a refrigerator magnet packet that they rearrange semi-randomly to spew out PR mishegas like that?

Sam Raimi to develop SWORD OF TRUTH mini-series
According to, director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) and his producing partner Joshua Donen will develop a mini-series based on the bestselling SWORD OF TRUTH book series.

ComingSoon writes, "Having been approached by Hollywood a number of times over the past decade, Goodkind was never convinced that his 400,000 word novels could be successfully compressed into worthwhile feature films. In a meeting at the author's home, the renowned director [Raimi] and producer instead conceived [him] of a groundbreaking mini-series. Within two hours Goodkind was sold on the concept and negotiations commenced. Ten months later the deal was finally concluded."

"It's a dream come true to work with someone of such remarkable vision, talent, and ability," Goodkind said. "Given Sam's sincere love for these stories and his determination to only make great films, this mini-series will be a watershed event."

Development is said to begin while Raimi finishes SPIDER-MAN 3, the first mini-series will be based off the Wizard's First Rule novel and production should get underway within the next year.

Dolby Labs likes sound of 3-D
Dolby Laboratories has staked a claim on the emerging field of digital cinema with plans to introduce its own proprietary 3-D system. The San Francisco firm, best known for its high-quality audio products, has made a deal to license technology from Infitec GmbH, a manufacturer of virtual-reality 3-D technologies.

Infitec's 3-D application is expected to allow exhibitors that use Dolby d-cinema servers to project digital stereoscopic movies. Infitec's 3-D server widget will be more cost-effective for theater owners than systems already on the market because images stored on a Dolby server should project directly onto a standard screen and be viewed with disposable 3-D glasses, said Tim Partridge, Dolby Laboratories senior vp and general manager, professional division.

Competing digital 3-D systems in the field today require either a silver screen or costly active stereoscopic glasses. Editor's Note: hmmmmm....I wonder if this might change anything time-table-wise at Lucasfilm (vis-a-vis the Star Wars 3D project)?

And explanation (of sorts) for why the SciFi Channel (yes, one of my favorite whipping boys) doesn't broadcast in HD. (When TNT and some other less obvious networks DO).

For those of you with HD TVs and HD cable (or satellite), who are gluttons for shows you like to look purty....

The Trouble With UHDCatch-All Nets Prove Problematic for Advertising
It seemed like a good idea at the time.

When NBC Universal devised a high-definition strategy for its cable networks, the company opted not to create separate simulcast HD channels for Bravo, USA Network and Sci Fi Channel.

Instead, the company launched a stand-alone network in 2004 that could run content from all three networks as well as repurposed movies and TV shows from the NBC Universal library. But the result, the network called UHD, has become a weak anomaly among HD networks.

It features 1980s relics such as "The Equalizer" and "Knight Rider" instead of NBCU's most popular shows. One member of the online audio-video fan community AVS Forum derided the channel as "a waste of bandwidth."

That's the ultimate insult in a business controlled by cable operators who view HD channels as hogging three times the space of standard-definition channels while delivering scant few viewers. In addition, some fans say popular HD programming is going to waste.

Sci Fi Channel's critically acclaimed "Battlestar Galactica" is shot in HD and is an on-target program for HD's male early-technology-adopting demographic. But episodes don't make their way around to UHD until a year after they run on Sci Fi, much to the frustration of fans.

This tactic might seem odd for a company that's embraced cross-platform programming, airing episodes of "Battlestar" on NBC or Sci Fi's "Ghost Hunters" on USA.

The difference is the cross-platform efforts were promotional. The main problem with regularly running new episodes of NBC Universal's "Battlestar," "Monk," "Dead Zone," "Project Runway" and "Stargate: SG-1" on UHD is that advertisers pay considerably less for a spot on the HD stand-alone network than for a spot on Sci Fi, USA or Bravo, according to media buyer sources. So if the HD version is made available on UHD at the same time as the standard-definition version on a show's flagship network, fans might switch to the HD version, thus cannibalizing ratings on the higher-priced networks. And costing NBC Universal ad revenue. Editor's Note: So very sad. And shortsighted. And typical.

Simulcast networks such as ESPN HD or TNT HD don't have this problem, as both networks run the same programming and commercials.

Other complications exist too.

To get all of NBCU's most popular shows on UHD, many productions would have to be upgraded to HD, and the company might have to negotiate the right to repeat the episodes on the HD channel.

But the primary concern about -- and the main drawback to -- the catch-all UHD channel as it is now, is the lack of available ad revenue. (Of course, this is a Catch-22 because ratings will stay modest, and ad rates will stay low, as long as there's no first-run programming driving viewership.)

Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group, said simulcast channels make more sense from a consumer standpoint. "What's most natural to the consumer is a channel that echoes the schedule they're used to," said Mr. Leichtman said. "Eventually you're going to have HD channels for [all NBCU's networks], but until then I think it would be smart to make UHD into USA HD." Editor's Note: Yep. Duh. Or Scifi HD. Either one.

UHD is not alone in this dilemma. MTV's catch-all network MHD and Discovery Networks' Discovery HD Theater face a similar risk of cannibalization, and both are mostly stocked with programming that's already well-worn from running on their main channels.

But UHD's problem is more pressing, as the company has so many scripted dramas that viewers are increasingly accustomed to finding in the HD format.

Sci Fi's Thomas Vitale, senior VP of programming and original movies, said the company currently views UHD as a separate distribution window, like home video or pay-per-view.

"We really do care about UHD … but first we need to build 'Battlestar Galactica' on the Sci Fi Channel," he said. "But that window [the time between when a show debuts on Sci Fi and appears in UHD] will eventually shrink." Editor's Note: of all the idiotic.....Yes, you need to build the viewership of the show (s) in general. But the Scifi fan is the MOST likely to appreciate...and DEMAND....HD. And these doofusi act like having HD is not important. To the scifi fan, it can even be a reason to NOT watch shows.

Until that window shrinks to the point where first-run HD viewing is a real option, Sci Fi, USA and Bravo fans will have to continue to wait -- and wait -- for the HD versions of their favorite shows.