Thursday, August 24, 2006

Oh my it Thursday AlREADY!?

Editor's Note: And here's what I want to know...WHY ISN'T IT FRIDAY YET?!

In a burst of circle-of-life (or something), let's being AND end with "Lost" stuff ---

LOST Season 3 poster

ABC has released a new promo poster for the upcoming third season of the hit TV show LOST.
LOST will begin on Wednesday, October 4 at 9pm ET.

USA Renews The 4400

The USA Network has ordered a fourth season of THE 4400 which will contain 13 one-hour episodes.

The series, which garnered an Emmy nomination, will return to USA Network in summer 2007, with production scheduled to begin in Vancouver in early 2007.

The 4400 will air its third-season finale on Aug. 27 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The 4400 was created by Scott Peters and Rene Echevarria. Ira Steven Behr, Scott Peters, Maira Suro and Perry Simon are executive producers. CBS Paramount Network Television produces the show, which stars Joel Gretsch and Jacqueline McKenzie.

Yahoo To Preview New TV Shows
AS A FIRST STEP TOWARD revamping its flagging TV section, Yahoo this week launched a new site devoted to the fall prime-time lineup.

The new area, Yahoo TV Fall 2006 Preview, includes detailed information about 34 of the major networks' prime-time television shows, including summaries, cast pictures, and in many cases, clips from the programs.

The section also will include streams of entire episodes of at least two shows before their network debut. CBS will make the pilot episode of "Jericho" available on the Yahoo site from Sept. 13 until its air date one week later. The pilot of NBC's "Heroes" also will be available from Sept. 18 until its broadcast premiere on Sept. 25. In addition, Fox will make the pilot of "Vanished" and season premiere of "Prison Break" available on Yahoo following their on-air debuts.

The site marks a stepped-up effort to appeal to TV-watchers--a group that no longer flocks to Yahoo the way it once did. "We're trying to create more immersive, engaging and dynamic destinations for TV users," said Karin Gilford, who on Monday began serving as general manager of Yahoo Entertainment. Editor's Note: Ok, so it boosts yahoo visits. But what does it do to TV viewing, I wonder?

As recently as last year, when Yahoo streamed the debut of WB's "Supernatural," the portal was one of a very small number of companies to openly offer streams of TV shows online.

But competition for the TV audience grew far more intense in the last year, as all of the major networks began experimenting with online distribution of their shows. Nost notably, ABC offered ad-supported streams of four TV shows--"Lost," "Desperate Housewives," "Alias," and "Commander in Chief"--for several months earlier this year. In addition, CBS created a broadband channel "innertube," which will offer streams of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: NY," "Jericho," "NCIS," "Numb3rs," and "Survivor."

Last month, Yahoo drew 5.6 million unique users--marking a 14 percent drop since July of 2005, according to comScore.

The major networks, meanwhile, went from no discernible traffic to millions of visitors a month in that time. CBS Web sites, for instance, drew 4.9 million visitors last month, while drew 4.6 million visitors, and ABC drew 3.5 million; none of those destinations were measured by comScore in July of 2005.

Yahoo TV also faces increasing competition from Internet rival AOL, which earlier this year began streaming a host of old TV shows on in2TV. AOL last month drew 8.9 million users to its TV section, marking a 27 percent year-over-year, while's traffic soared 25 percent.

For now, the Yahoo Fall TV section is running house ads, but the company's sales force is talking with marketers about sponsorships, Gilford said. The section also contains links to individual Yahoo pages about the TV programs; those pages currently carry ads.

Gilford added that those individual pages also will likely be tweaked. "We want to make better use of some of the great media assets we have, like photos and clips of the shows," she said.

TBWA\C\D Plans 'Disruptive' Oscar Push

Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day, hired last week to promote the Academy Awards telecast next February, has promised a "disruptive" campaign from Spike Lee, who has been signed to direct the TV effort, said Carisa Bianchi, agency president.Beth Harris, director of marketing at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, said the commercials would also represent the first campaign promoting the telecast to come entirely from a traditional ad agency.

The concept for the Lee campaign came from Jack Fund and Rob Schwartz, creative director and executive creative director, respectively, at the Playa del Rey, Calif., agency.

"The Oscars are one of the great, iconic brands," said Bianchi. "It really fit our DNA as an agency and the kind of prospects we want to work with. We pitched a 'disruptive' idea. We're going to try to create buzz."

Bianchi would not elaborate, and Lee declined comment. Editor's Note: Ah. So the fact that the word 'disruptive' has a negative conotation is either A) something we should be concerned about, or B) Ad talk BS that means absolutely nothing.

Harris said the upcoming campaign would involve "unique media opportunities" Editor's Note: More adtalk BS.... including mobile, interactive and Internet advertising.

"The campaign will be very different than anything we've done for several years," she said. "For instance, it will contain no show footage from previous years. It is conceptual and aspirational, about how film bonds us together and how pervasive it is in our lives."Editor's Note: Oh merciful heavens, do these people ever ever LISTEN to themselves? Wading so DEEP, we are very likely going to DROWN.....

Marketing the Oscar telecast "has evolved over the years, but in the last three or four we've wanted to expand the efforts and start looking off the ABC network—at outdoor [advertising], for example," Harris said.

Past Oscar campaigns were created "mostly in-house" and often focused on the gala's host.

"That was a challenge because that always [was disclosed] too late, especially for the number of stations that carry the telecast," said Harris. "So we've gotten more sophisticated in the things we want to do."

Telecast producer Laura Ziskin is considering in-show branding, and the academy is evaluating proposals for co-branded consumer promotions, she said.The academy spent more than $1 million advertising the show last year, per TNS Media Intelligence.

Editor's Note: We are now leaving the Advertising Malarky universe, and travelling to movies and Harry Potter, things less fantastical and more down-to-earth.

Jessica Stevenson joins HARRY POTTER 5

According to Harry Potter Fan Zone, Jessica Stevenson has been added to the cast of the upcoming Warner Bros. film HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.

Stevenson will play Mafalda Hopkirk, a witch from the Improper Use of Magic Office.

The film synopsis reads: With their warning about Lord Voldemort's return scoffed at, Harry and Dumbledore are targeted by the Wizard authorities as an authoritarian bureaucrat slowly seizes power at Hogwarts.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson will all be back to reprise their roles as Harry, Ron and Hermione. Also signed on to reprise their roles are Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs Editor's Note: Hello sexy evil man!, Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, David Thewlis, Fiona Shaw, Richard Griffiths, David Bradley, Robert Hardy and Mark Williams. Helena Bonham Carter has also signed onto the film. A long list.

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX will be released on July 13, 2007.

Paul Bettany joins the fantasy INKHEART

According to Variety, Paul Bettany has joined the New Line family fantasy INKHEART. He will join Brendan Fraser in the cast of the film.

INKHEART will follow a girl whose father has the power to bring characters from books to life by reading aloud. When a villainous ruler and his band of rogues from a children's fable kidnap the man, his daughter and her friends, both real and imaginary, must rescue him.

Bettany will play the role of Dustfinger, a fire-eating performer. Fraser's playing the father and the young girl has not been cast as of yet.

Iain Softley will direct the film which is based on the book of the same name. The book spent 19 weeks on the New York Times Children's bestseller list.


Scooper Squirrel Editor's Note: Scooper Squirrel? Shucks, I wish I'd come up with such a cool name!!! wrote me today regarding the upcoming DreamWorks movie THE TAILSMAN.

Squirrel wrote, "Michael J. Fox - who was in here recently to meet on a new "Atlantis" project - might be returning to acting. One of the bosses here said he's up for a role in a film called "Talisman", about a man trying to save his mother from a Talisman.

"Steven Spielberg, who he did BTTF with, is apparently involved with it - in some capacity. I have no idea - either do they - whether he's going to be playing the main role, or just a role, it was something he apparently mentioned in a conversation... and nothing more was said of it."

"Never heard of the film, so I don't know whether he's good for it or not, and I don't even think it's happening here at Disney, but thought this would interest."

THE TAILSMAN follows young Jack Sawyer who enters a parallel world known as the Territories in search of a powerful tailsman in order to save his mother from certain death.

The film is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name and will be produced by DreamWorks.

Nolte, Suvari headed to 'Pittsburgh'
Nick Nolte, Mena Suvari and Jon Foster have been added to the cast of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," the first film from independent financier Groundswell Prods.

The three join the previously cast Sienna Miller and Peter Sarsgaard.

Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story") is writing and directing "Mysteries," which is based on the debut novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. Filming is expected to begin Sept. 5 in Pittsburgh.

Foster will play Art Bechstein, a recent college graduate trying to escape the clutches of his mobster father (Nolte). The story follows the last summer of Art's youth as he falls into a love triangle with Jane (Miller) and Cleveland (Sarsgaard), a charismatic couple who draw him into a series of exhilarating adventures that ultimately pit him against his father. Suvari will play Phlox, Art's eccentric part-time girlfriend and boss at a discount book chain. Editor's Note: Phlox....wasn't he a regular character on Star Trek? (giggle).

ERAGON Poster Released

The poster for the upcoming 20th Century Fox film ERAGON has been released.

The film, which has a budget of about $100 million, will be released on December 15, 2006 and is currently in post production.

The film follows a farm boy in his homeland of Alagaesia who happens upon a dragon's egg -- a discovery that leads him on a predestined journey where he realizes that he's the one person who can defend his home against an evil king.

ERAGON was directed by Stefen Fangmeier and stars Edward Speleers (Eragon), Sienna Guillory (Arya), Garrett Hedlund (Murtagh), Djimon Hounsou (Ajihad), Jeremy Irons (Brom), John Malkovich (King Galbatorix) and Robert Carlyle (Durza). Editor's Note; In other words, marvelous adult actors with 'chops', and pretty teens with.....umm.....prettiness.


Chris Wedge (Ice Age) will direct the upcoming animated film THE LEAF MEN AND THE BRAVE GOOD BUGS for 20th Century Fox Animation.

The film is described as an epic adventure centering on ancient elfin magic, the book follows a troop of brave bugs who march off to save a garden, where they encounter an evil spider queen and must summon the mythical Leaf Men to save the day. Editor's Note: And here I thought it was going to be a FANTASY.

The movie is based on a childrens book by William Joyce. Wedge is best known for his work on ROBOTS and ICE AGE.

'Monster' attacks again in 3-D
Sony Pictures is high on 3-D. The company will re-release its summer animated film "Monster House" for a two-week 3-D engagement before Halloween. Editor's Note: You guys who saw this already...worth seeing in 3-D?

Set to bow Oct. 6, the film, from exec producers Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, will have a two-week 3-D engagement on Real D screens nationwide. Sony plans to release the film on more than 100 screens in advance of its DVD release, set for Oct. 24.

"Monster" will come off the limited screens before Buena Vista unveils "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas" on Oct. 20. Editor's Note: Which is most DEFINITELY worth seeing in 3-D!

"Now we get the opportunity to see 'Monster' in 3-D in the theater to remind people what a good movie it is before the DVD comes out," Sony's president of distribution Rory Bruer said Editor's Note: Or everyone can ignore it AGAIN?

LOST Action Figures

McFarlane Toys has announced they will be producing a series of six inch action figures based on the characters from ABC's LOST. Editor's NOte: Maybe I should give these to my dog, and he can bury them somewhere in the backyard......and no one will know where they are! (pretty good sculpt, by the way....on that Jack toy above).

In the first of the series, the figures will include: Jack, Kate, Locke, Hurley, Charlie and Shannon -- plus a deluxe boxed set re-creating The Hatch. Editor's Note: Not that I'm going to buy them (6-inch toys can't play with my 3 and 3/4 inch SW toys), but shouldn't there be a Sawyer in the f irst batch?

LOST Series 1 is scheduled to reach stores in November 2006.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Surprising Stargate News

Editor's Note: Breaking...and Surprising....DweebTV news sent by intrepid dweebpal PlanoKevin ---

Sci Fi closes 'Stargate SG-1'
Show has run 10 years; studio hoping to continue franchise

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- Sci Fi Channel is grounding "Stargate SG-1," the longest-running science-fiction series on U.S. television to date.

The cable network has decided not to order additional episodes beyond the show's current 10th season, but it has picked up a fourth season of its more-popular spinoff, "Stargate Atlantis."Editor's Note: A show every bit as dull and ridiculous as the original Stargate, but without Claudia Black, Ben Browder, or anything else of value. Good. Now I can stop taping this crap. (What we do out of residual Farscape loyalty....)

"Stargate SG-1," based on the 1994 movie starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, spent its first five years on Showtime -- which annoyed the show's producers by demanding full-frontal nudity -- before migrating to Sci Fi. Its 200th episode aired last Friday.

"Having achieved so much over the course of the past 10 years, Sci Fi believes that the time is right to make this season their last on the channel," Sci Fi said.

The show's ratings have softened in recent years and series star Richard Dean Anderson left last season, but it boasts a strong fan base, with as many as nine official conventions taking place worldwide every year. Producer MGM is exploring the possibility of taking the series to yet another outlet.

"MGM has tremendous amount of confidence in 'Stargate,' and we are vigorously working to continue the franchise," studio spokesman Jeff Pryor said. Editor's Note: sigh....oh PLEASE don't.

The final three episodes of "Stargate SG-1" are slated to air on Sci Fi Channel next year. Both "Stargate SG-1" and "Atlantis" also run in syndication.

A Nice Harry Potter Fix

When Harry kissed Cho
By: Noel de Souza

The drive from the Dorchester Hotel in London to the Leavesden Studios is usually scenic, filled with green parks and lawns. But this year global warming has taken its toll and there are expanses of dried brown grass everywhere.

Leavesden Studios is where they manufactured war planes during the Second World War. The Harry Potter series of films was looking for a permanent place to build its sets and shoot the films. Leavesden seemed ideal. They didn’t change much about the structure either, leaving the low ceilings in place, forcing directors to be inventive.

I was dropped off at a tent structure for breakfast; the walls of the tent were lined with story-board drawings of the current Harry Potter film — The Order of The Phoenix — being directed by David Yates, the first English director to direct a Potter film.

Magic at the movies with Yates

What qualities do you have that would enable you to direct the film?
Editor's Note: SPOILERS ALERT!!!.....if you haven't read the book.
David Yates: The core of J K’s book is emotional: we see the death of Sirius; Harry Potter has no mum or dad and the only thing he clings to obviously is friends and his relationship with Sirius Black. I think what the producers were looking for when they asked me to do this was to make sure we had a story that felt emotionally rich and that’s what I’m trying to bring to it.

Were you shocked when you were approached?
I was surprised. It was a great honour to be asked. I hadn’t read the books. I was walking in Cornwall, south England. I was on a coastal walk when I got the phone call from my agent and they said they’d like me to look at Harry Potter and they sent me the book. I read it in a week and I loved it; I fell in love with it. And I suddenly caught up with everybody else. Then I went to see David Heyman the producer who’s a delightful man, and I thought the experience would be fun. And it has proved to be, so far, just incredible fun. Editor's Note: Wonder if he's gone back and read the other books as well? Or just the one he's directing?

What specifically are you doing to make this film uniquely yours?
It’s probably a little more emotional than the others; it’s a little more grown up, inevitably because of the story. And in terms of the reality of magic it’ll feel a bit more raw and edgier, darker and tougher than the others. In terms of my contribution, I’d say it would be to kind of grow the films up as the books are growing up.

Harry gets his first kiss in the film; how did you approach the scene?
Most of the crew working on these films has been working with Daniel (Harry Potter) since he was little and the day we shot the kiss, they gathered around the monitor.They needed to see this moment, experience it, because for them, Daniel was really as much a son, because they’ve seen him go through all these changes as he’s growing up. Editor's Note: a son. They're all pervs, just like the rest of us. Own up! And they got quite emotional watching his first kiss, it was a very interesting experience and I wanted make it feel as real and truthful as possible. We did many, many, many takes and it’s very tender and loving, as the first kiss should be.

Playing Cho!
Wandering around the sets, I discover that the entire production occupies eight stages with three sets on each stage and it takes 1,500 people to work on these sets.

Fifteen people work in the prop department and 90 per cent of the props for the Potter films are made specifically for the film.

Coming upon Grimmauld’s Place, I notice a tapestry with the design of Sirius Black’s family tree; this, I am told, is designed by J K Rowling herself.

The Room of Requirements at Hogwarts is of particular significance in this film, for it is here that Harry has his first kiss with Katie Leung, a young 18-year-old Asian actress who was discovered in Scotland; she’s been playing Cho Chang from the last film. Katie is very soft spoken and unassuming.

Was it easy to act opposite Daniel?
Katie Leung: Yeah, definitely. He’s energetic and makes you feel relaxed. He talks to you all the time and tells you not to be nervous; it’s great working with him.

What happens to her character in this film versus the last; does she get to do magic?
Yeah, Cho Chang actually has a wand in this one, which is great. In the last film Harry had a crush on her but she had a boyfriend so nothing happened. But after her boyfriend died in Goblet of Fire, her relationship with Harry developed in this one. Although, she’s bitter through the whole film because she can’t get over her boyfriend’s death. And that kind of complicates their friendship with each other and it ends in disaster.

Is Daniel a good kisser?
Yes, Daniel is a good kisser, I really enjoyed it. Editor's Note: Bad thoughts....moving on.....

One of the new and unfinished sets is the atrium, a copy of the London Underground, and will be used in the last fight scene between Harry and Voldemort. An English flag left over from the World Cup hangs over this set.

Evanna Lynch plays Hogwarts student Luna Lovegood, a hotly contested role

The dining room is the oldest of the sets – it’s been standing for the last eight years, it seats 350 people, is 40 feet wide and 120 feet long; the floors are made of York stone which was laid for the very first film. This set is impressive.

The second longest standing set is Gryffindor’s common room; the portraits that hang on the walls are of the cast and some of the crew members.

Dumbledore’s office has portraits of former headmasters sleeping, adorning its walls.

The scene being shot is outdoors on a bridge with a blue screen behind; it involves Dan, Rupert, Emma and Matthew and Evanna. The director calls for the 15th take before dismissing the actors. Daniel is the first to walk off the set.

He explains the scene.“It’s all slightly hysterical today because I’ve been back for sort of a month and a half filming but it’s Emma’s first day. And Rupert had about a month or so off, so everyone’s sort of a little bit hysterical that is why we were laughing. I also tripped over Rupert.

We’re doing a scene that leads into the final act of the film where Umbridge has been taken off into the forbidden forest and we reconvene with Ron, Neville, Luna and Jenny. Then we all go off to fight Bellatrix LeStrange and Voldemort. So it’s trying to carry over the intensity from the last scene into this one, but we’ll get there.”

How different is this Potter?
Daniel Radcliffe: Very different so far — this role’s more challenging than the ones I done before. Not physically challenging but in terms of acting, it’s harder to do this one. And then it is different working with David, he’s sort of got a very high quiet voice and he’s soft spoken.This movie is also different because there was a big gap in the middle because we stopped for a month and a half to do school exams and stuff. So the production shut down in the middle, which was very odd because that hasn’t happened before.

Where is he in terms of his academic career?
I’ve just finished my penultimate year at school. So I’ve got a year left. But I’m taking a year out from school next year and then we’re going to sort of look at it all again the year after that.

Is it easy to get back after the breaks?
It might take a couple of days to get back in the swing of things. But because I’ve been playing Harry for so long now, you just sort of get into it very easily now, it becomes less of a challenge to get back into it after time off.

He’s 16. How does he compare his journey to Harry’s?
It’s the same; he has the same pits and troughs as any other kid his age. It’s just that they’re exaggerated in Harry’s story. It’s more than there would be for the average human being, because the average human being does not have magic. And because of the nature of the story, he lives in quite an accentuated world, a sort of heightened reality. I think Harry’s happiest moments are happier than anyone else could ever think of and his saddest moments are again probably more than people could consider.

Could he talk about the romantic aspect in the film?
Obviously it sort of had its beginnings in the fourth film. And this time I would say it comes to fruition. It was great, the kissing scene was great, it was good, and it was a lot of fun.

How does he respond to Katie saying he was a good kisser?
My God. It was fun; me and Katie – we were awkward and nervous at first but once we got it, it was fine.

On which take did he get it?
Probably on the thirtieth.

Is he looking forward to being on stage?
It’s going to be nerve-wracking, but it’s going to be incredibly exciting, it’s a new challenge. It’s something I’ve never done before. I’ve been voice training — learning to project my voice. Most actors go from drama school to the stage and then into film. But I’m sort of doing it the other way around. I’m going from film to stage. And so it’s an unorthodox way of doing it, but it’s going to be quite exciting.

Has playing Harry Potter all these years changed him?
I really don’t know if there has been a huge change in my character as a result of playing Harry. I think I’ve grown up in the way most 10 year olds grow up into 17 year olds; I might have grown up a little bit faster possibly than other people my age simply because I’m around so many adults all the time. Most kids, the only relationship with adults that they have is with their parents and teachers. I’ve been working with adults since I was about 11.

He’s reportedly the sixth richest man in England.
I don’t want to think about that; I try not to pay attention to it, because it’s all speculation really, I think for the most part.

What does he think of Harry’s world and life?
Harry’s life is pretty unfair, because he didn’t ask for any of this. He’s been thrust into this nightmarish world by circumstances and through no fault of his own. I suppose Harry’s situation is the most unfair simply because he doesn’t actually deserve it in the first place; it’s one of the greatest injustices.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Indiana Jones Likes to Tease

Editor's Note: Indy teases. As do his puppetmasters Georgie and Stevie. But we Keep Coming BACK for MORE. Needy suckers that we are......

Spielberg, Ford and Lucas on Indy IV

Getting one of the Indiana Jones triumvirate to talk about the fourth sequel is a rare opportunity, but getting George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford to spill at the same time is as infrequent as finding a needle in a haystack under some hen's teeth on a blue moony night at the end of a month of Sundays.

But Empire Magazine was lucky enough to speak with the trio as part of our massive Indiana Jones 25th anniversary celebrations and it seems that Indy IV is going to be a tad controversial.

“We’re basically going to do The Phantom Menace”, says Lucas (stay with him here, he’s making a point). “People’s expectations are way higher than you can deliver. You could just get killed for the whole thing…We would do it for fun and just take the hit with the critics and the fans...But nobody wants to get into it unless they are really happy with it”.

The ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ situation has freed up an idea for a plot that was originally deemed too incendiary.

“I discovered a McGuffin,” continues Lucas, still reluctant to name said McGuffin. “I told the guys about it and they were a little dubious about it, but it’s the best one we’ve ever found… Unfortunately, it was a little too ‘connected’ for the others. They were afraid of what the critics would think. They said, “Can’t we do it with a different McGuffin? Can’t we do this?” and I said “No”. So we pottered around with that for a couple of years. And then Harrison really wanted to do it and Steve said, “Okay”. I said, “We’ll have to go back to that original MacGuffin and take out the offending parts of it and we’ll still use that area of the supernatural do deal with it”.

Hopefully it will be different in all the right ways and the same in all the familiar ways,” adds Spielberg.

As for timing, Lucas says that filming is scheduled for mid-2007, for a 2008 release but getting the gang back together is a tricky proposition.

“Before I was just working with Steven and Harrison. Now everybody’s a superstar, so it’s a little bit more difficult than it was then”.

But there’s a good chance it will happen,” assures Ford. “There are things left for this character to do”.

For more on Indy IV, plus over 30 pages of celebration of the Indiana Jones series, featuring interviews with every cast and crew member you can think of (except the monkey) pick up a copy of the new issue of Empire, on sale from August 25.

Editor's Note: McGuffin, huh? Controversy? EEEK!!! Just make it good, just make it good!! (and while I'm chanting a mantra, just bring back Karen Allen, just bring back Karen Allen)!

Musicals, Movies, and Witty Brits

Editor's Note: We pause a moment from the sturm-und-drang of scifi dweebing ,to have a musical respite, courtesy of a lovely writer chap from across the 'pond'.

Cheerio, pip, pip, etc.....
We need a song and dance
If only there were a few more snazzy showtunes to distract us from the harsher realities of life, wishes John Patterson
Saturday August 19, 2006
The Guardian
We need the musical back, and we need it now.

Look at the world around us: the Middle East in flames, a psychotic, dry-drunk Jesus-freak in the White House, Editor's Note: Wonderful description. Makes him sound a bit more interesting than he appears from down here in the trenches, though. his compliant rentboy in Downing Street, militant assholes in southern Lebanon, Israeli politicians bent on repudiating allegations of dicklessness by bombing oil depots, airports and ambulances, the world economy on the precipice, and blackest night seeming to impend for the entire planet.

It's like mid-August 1939 all over again. Except no one's around to sing Over The Rainbow.

At least in those waning days of peace you could go to the movies and lose yourself in song and dance and escape utterly into fantasy. Where, pray tell, are our Mickey and Judy, those bubbly, eternally adorable adolescent graduates of MGM's Amphetamine Academy, forever puttin' on that show right here?

Where are our Fred and Ginger high-stepping their way through the Depression by putting on a Top Hat or Flying Down To Rio?

Where's Busby Berkeley when you need him to take your mind off all this looming horror with his dementedly beautiful spectacles of choreographed kitsch?

Where's our Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald? Nah, scratch that last pair - I never want them back, her all barmily a-twitter, him with his goony jaw and imperishably cheesy demeanour and silly Viennese military outfits.

But you take my point: we're sliding into the abyss, hanging onto the devil's molars as he tries to swallow us completely - and ain't no one belting out a showtune to take our minds off it all. You don't have to be a grandma or a gay man to love a little restorative dose of song and dance. Editor's Note: Although I'm told it helps?

Check out Robert Carlyle in Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School: he's not shy about donning his dancing slippers and putting on the Ritz. We need a bit more of that.

And here comes Oklahoma!, in a pristine reissue, made in 1955, the second golden age of the American musical, with Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae yodelling merrily beneath the shadow of The Bomb, back when the Strategic Air Command's fascistic Air Force General Curtis "Bombs Away!" LeMay was more than prepared to nuke every last borscht-stand in the USSR, with racism still seething in the pre-Civil Rights south, polio not yet conquered, and Nixon still just a fledgling uber-creep with a cute dog of dubious provenance.

But people still knew how to sing and dance and laugh in the face of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Frank Sinatra and Bing could gaze upon all this in High Society and belt out What A Swell Party This Is, no problem. Likewise Crosby and Satchmo: the world may be doomed, but they've Gone Fishin'. What do they care?

And what do we get? Britney, Christina, Jessica, Lindsay. We live in a Mickey Mouse era, so I guess all we deserve is Mouseketeers. Let's face it: we're done for. Editor's Note: For heaven's sake people.....START SINGIN AND DANCIN!!!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

STAR WARS....nothing but STAR WARS

Star Wars - Shortened: Online
The compressed Star Wars Saga, which was specially commissioned by Sky TV, is going to be hosted in part online at the Sky Movies website.

From August 21, "60 Second Star Wars" - the climax of the show - will be made live and freely available. Stay tuned for more updates. Editor's Note: Woohoo!!!

'Star Wars' Going HDCinemax to Offer All Six Films
in HD for the First Time
The "Star Wars" universe is about to make the jump to high-definition.
Cinemax has made a deal with Lucasfilm to offer all six "Star Wars" movies in HD for the first time. Editor's Note: More woohoo'ing!!!

The Time Warner-owned, premium movie cable channel plans to premiere the films in November and launch a national marketing campaign.

The release is certain to thrill "Star Wars" fans, who have helped the franchise earn about $4 billion at the box office worldwide. The two most recent "Star Wars" titles, "Revenge of the Sith" and "Attack of the Clones," have separately run on HBO and Cinemax in hi-def. Fox has also aired "Clones" in HD. But the original trilogy has never been available in the format, and offering all the films together on one network is without precedent. Last year, Spike TV announced a deal to acquire all six films in an exclusive basic cable contract, but the run doesn't kick in until 2008. Also, Spike TV does not currently offer an HD channel. Of the various incarnations of the films, Cinemax will run the same special-edition versions that were most recently released on DVD. Terms of the deal were not available, but Cinemax typically plays films several times over three months during an initial run. A run on sister network HBO will almost certainly follow.

Several tentpole titles, such as "War of the Worlds" and "Mr. & Ms. Smith" recently premiered on Cinemax before running on HBO as part of a corporate strategy to help boost Cinemax's profile and strengthen its brand as a movie destination. Editor's Note: Blah blah blah blah HBO corporate stuff....ALL SIX STAR WARS MOVIES IN HD...blah blah blah. That's what I basically took from that article. You?

Boba Fett eNovella Available Now
In case you'd forgotten, the Traviss-penned online-only novella Boba Fett: A Practical Man is now available at

It's also listed on Barnes & Noble's website for August 28th, but for the time being this is the only way to find out what Fett was up to prior to his appearance in The Unifying Force.

How the most famous Brass Bra in the Galaxy came to be

It was Princess Leia's Organa's most memorable wardrobe choice -- albeit chosen by Jabba the Hutt -- the brief brass bikini worn while chained to the bloated gangster in Return of the Jedi. Developed in sketches by Nilo Rodis-Jamero, it was actually the ILM Model Shop that was tasked to construct the real costume worn by actress Carrie Fisher.

"Nilo was doing sketches, and I had seen what he was planning," recalls Lorne Peterson, veteran ILM modelmaker who has worked on all six Star Wars films. "Incidentally, at the same time, someone I went to college with happened to sit beside me at a café who I hadn't seen in something like 18 years. In striking up an old friendship, I realized that he was a sculptor, and many of his own private sculptures were very much like Princess Leia's outfit."

That sculptor, Richard Miller, joined ILM for Jedi, and stayed on to work on many other films, including the Star Wars prequel trilogy.

"An interesting aside is that one of the moldmakers, when he realized he was going to get to do the body-casting of Carrie Fisher... he talked about it every day," recalls Peterson. "And somewhere in Production, at the last minute, they changed and had another moldmaker do it, much to his chagrin. If he had just kept his mouth shut and not been so enthusiastic, they would have let him go through with it!"

VES slates date for f/x kudos
(Muren to receive lifetime achievement award)
The Visual Effects Society will hold its VES Awards on Feb. 11. Venue shifts to the Kodak Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.

Society also announced that nine-time Oscar winner Dennis Muren will receive lifetime achievement kudos.

Muren, a veteran of George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic, took Academy visual f/x honors for "The Empire Strikes Back," "Return of the Jedi," "E.T.," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Innerspace," "The Abyss," "Terminator 2" and "Jurassic Park." He has also received a Sci-Tech Oscar.

Society executive director Eric Roth said demand for tickets has outstripped the capacity of the previous venue, the Hollywood Palladium.

The Visual Effects Society presents awards in 21 categories. Rules, voting procedures and timetables for this year's kudos have yet to be announced.

Editor's Note: mini toys! ooooo......

Star Wars Miniatures: Bounty Hunters

Get ready to hire some of some of the most inventive and fearless bounty hunters (and other scum and villainy) from across all eras of the saga with the Star Wars Miniatures: Bounty Hunters Booster Pack due to hit shelves this September.

The Booster Pack components include seven randomized miniatures with statistics cards, including one huge figure. This exciting set focuses on fringe non-aligned characters including characters like Dengar, 4-LOM, Jango Fett and Tamtel Skreej, and includes huge figures like the Rebel Snowspeeder and Basilisk War Droid.

There are 60 unique miniatures in the Bounty Hunters set. All miniatures packages are randomized and made up of figures of varying rarity: very rare, rare, common, and uncommon miniatures. These miniatures can be used to play skirmish-level or mass-battle combat scenarios or to add dimension to Star Wars roleplaying games.

Release Date: September, 2006

Editor's Note: Ok...this next one is fairly odd. Even by OUR standards. But it IS about toys and it IS about Star Wars so.....

Toy Laundry Day

To many, customizing is like Western medicine. Invasive. The job can't be done without a sharp knife and a piece of thread. This is the popular approach mostly because of conditioning. Let's face it; we've spent the last decade buying $20 Hasbro figures, so who cares what you do to it, right? No one can argue that permanently destroying $20 mass-produced action figures in an attempt to create movie accurate 1/6 scale representations of characters we all love is a feasible option considering what we had to work with.

Let's not beat around the bush here.

While not everyone is willing to say it aloud, the Hasbro 12" line left a heck of a lot to be desired. Sure they were great children's toys that had enough quality to interest adult collectors, but at the end of the day they were just great children's toys that had enough quality to interest adult collectors.

That all changed when Sideshow Collectibles introduced us to their interpretation of the 12" Star Wars figure. Astute readers will notice that the sentence said "figures" not "action figures". That's a very important thing to remember when looking at the Sideshow collection. They aren't creating $20 mass-produced action figures meant to be played with by kids between the ages of 3 and 8; they are making collectible figures for adults. What's more, they are making high quality 1/6 scaled replicas of the Star Wars characters we love. Granted, as such, these figures are a bit more money. In some cases they are three times as expensive as Hasbro's toys. That said, do you really want to do something invasive when tweaking them, or do you want to look toward the world of alternative customizing. Not unlike alternative medicine, we can replace the sharp knives and pieces of thread we've grown up with and find a way to alter our collectibles without damaging them.

These tutorials are meant to allow collectors the freedom to tweak their 1/6 scale figures without doing anything that will damage them. Basically speaking, you are altering them, not customizing them.Editor's Note: Altering, customizing....quibbling. And because of the quality already being offered by Sideshow Collectibles, you can truly turn an excellent figure into the quintessential 1/6 scale character replication you have always wanted!

There are a total of three tutorials below - one for folks who will be using "low" sinks, commonly found in bathrooms. The second tutorial is the same as the first, but tailored for people who will be using "high" sinks, or those typically found in kitchens. The final tutorial is a look at how you can make your 12" Anakin even more movie-accurate!
Editor's Note: The REAL fun is to go check out these links. It's sort of like toy PORN. (it's basically pictorial demonstrations of how to play with naked dolls). Enjoy.

But not too much?

Hasbro's Comic-Con Follow-Up: Star Wars Toys Revealed
For those that missed some of the Hasbro displays at Comic-Con a few weeks ago, here's a recap of some of Hasbro's toy reveals:

3.75" Figure Battle Packs
Back by popular demand, the 2007 3.75" Figure Battle Pack assortment will be launched in Fall 2006 with three memorable Star Wars scenes (look for these in stores in November):

Battle Above the Sarlacc

Luke Skywalker has escaped his scheduled execution in the Great Pit of Carkoon, home of the terrifying Sarlacc. Boba Fett temporarily captures Skywalker using his rope-firing wrist gauntlet. The Jedi and his friends, however, have luck on their side, especially when Han Solo accidentally activates Fett's backpack and sends him tumbling into the Sarlacc's digestive system!

Sith Lord Attack

Editor's Note: Lookie Lookie, Oddbob, another Mauliesweetie for your collection!
Never in its long history have such powers clashed within the walls of the ancient Theed Royal Palace. Three warriors, each a master of lightsaber combat, contest for victory at the heart of the palace, their battle raging along the treacherous edge of a melting pit hundreds of meters deep. For the first time in a thousand years, the light and dark sides of the Force have joined in conflict.

Jedi vs. Darth Sidious

Here, in a lavish Senatorial office atop one of the tallest buildings on Coruscant, the endgame of the conflict between Sith and Jedi begins. Revealed as a Dark Lord of the Sith, Chancellor Palpatine vaults across his desk with the uncanny speed of a master in the Force, his lightsaber blazing to life. Its blade carries the swift death of no less than three Jedi. Even the great Mace Windu will be fought to a standstill in this, the first battle in a conflict that will end with the extermination of the Jedi.

Star Wars Commemorative Tin Collection
Also received with great excitement, Wave 1 of the Star Wars Commemorative Tin collection was revealed (including a sneak-peek at the Wal-Mart exclusive Cantina Band Tin which will be available in December). There will be six tins available at most toy stores beginning this October, the first three of which are available now for pre-order at StarWarsShop. Each one commemorates one of the six Star Wars movies and includes four 3.75" figures plus a collector tin.

Episode I: The Phantom Menace Commemorative Tin Collection

Episode II: Attack of the Clones Commemorative Tin Collection

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Commemorative Tin Collection

Unleashed Battle Packs
For those that have fallen for the Unleashed 2" figure Battle Packs, there are four more packs to look forward to in 2006; look for these in stores starting in October:

The Master Jedi

The New Empire

Darth Vader's501st Legion

Palpatine's Shock Troopers

New Lightsabers
Finally, a lightsaber that operates just like the ones in the movies -- springing to life at the touch of a button. Editor's Note: Ooooo! But can it slice thru stuff? Huh???!!! Each lightsaber comes equipped with the spring-activation feature as well as lights and sounds:

Force Action Luke Lightsaber

Force Action Obi-Wan Lightsaber

Force Action Darth Vader Lightsaber

Also revealed at Comic-Con was the new Republic Commando figure 7-pack, which is currently available at StarWarsShop by itself or bundled with the exclusive Lucas Family Collection.

And don't forget the 25-pack of StarWarsShop-branded Star Cases for just $29.99!

Your Top Ten Favorite Females of the Star Wars Saga
Princesses and queens rule, but not your typical "damsel in distress" girls, thank you very much. Bantha Tracks readers love tough heroines. Editor's Note: YESSSS!

It might not surprise you that your fellow readers voted the ever-cool Princess Leia as their favorite female of all Star Wars time, and that Padmé Amidala is a not-too-distant second place.

However, the ranking of the third, fourth, and fifth place winners might surprise you, not to mention Femme Fatale Number Nine!

Your Top Ten Favorite Females of the Star Wars Saga:
Adi Gallia. Her exploits in the Clone Wars cartoons, more so than the movies, helped earn the Jedi Master a place on the list.

Jira. You love her, and we won't argue. Editor's Note: Ok. Umm..... ???

Barriss Offee. Padawan or not, you're fans of this lovely Jedi.

Shmi Skywalker. Anakin's mother and friend of Qui-Gon Jinn. Editor's Note: I wondered about that last bit. "Friend"? (Qui-Gon, you sly one. The Living Force INDEED)!

Jaina Solo. You wisely included heroines from the Expanded Universe, and Jaina's courage and talent helped her score well. Editor's Note: What's not to like? She's a perfect blend of all the snarkiness of BOTH of her parents.

Aayla Secura. Thought she'd score higher, didn't you? We did.

Shaak Ti. The Jedi Master not only knows how to get things done, you describe her as "so darned cute."

Mara Jade. The kick-butt, Skywalker-wannabe assassin from the Expanded Universe.

Padmé Amidala. Voters felt almost as passionately for Padmé as for our number one female.Editor's Note: She might have gotten a few more votes if she hadn't abandoned her kids and the galaxy there at the end?

Your Number One Favorite Female of the Star Wars Saga:

Princess Leia Organa Solo.

The majority of readers agree that the diminutive Leia not only kicks butt, but also gives fans, female and male alike, a great Sci-Fi role model. Editor's Note: Yes she does. And for girls/women of a certain age (number withheld at QOTD's request...ahem...) she was very important in presenting a strong female character that more than kept up with the boy characters.

EDITOR'S NOTE: And now....yep.....the pics ----

Sneak Peak 2007 - No Way Out But UP - Sometimes, you can never have enough manpower to surround a Jedi.

The character of Montross appeared in the earliest iterations of the Star Wars story but was discarded. He resurfaced, decades later, as part of Jango Fett's expanded universe backstory.Editor's Note: OddBob lives in his neighborhood! (oh..wait....that's MonTROSE).

Some of the earlier sketches of the space slug had it appear more reptilian in nature, as in this piece by Joe Johnston.

Wookiee Water Craft -A Wookiee flying catamaran comes in for a lake landing in this painting by Ryan Church.