Media Relations / 24 january 2012 / oscar, oscar, oscar! nominations and predictions, 2012

The thing I like about this year's nomination is that every single major category contains at least one "WTF?" moment. For all the predictability of the Academy Awards, you don't get that quite this consistently in the nominations process.

Overall, the entire nominations slate has a certain WTF? feel. Seldom has comedy been so well or frequently represented in all the major categories. The Academy generally prefers its ART to be VERY SERIOUS, dont'cha know.

So, as a complete outsider who frankly doesn't care about film that much, but loves awards shows and award show politicking, let's take a whack at this predictions stuff for the major categories, just for the hell of it, shall we? Let's shall....

Three entries, two weblogs, one week, more or less. Apparently, on a roll or something. Don't get used to it.
Media Relations / February 6, 2011 / Red
So I finally got around to watching Red, the Bruce Willis movie theoretically made from the comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer. And I will tell you right now that the only surviving part of the comic is the "retired agent yanked out of retirement because people are trying to kill him" part of the story; the rest of it is pretty much an original story. Oh, and the mayhem. Not so much the specifics, just the general quantity. Oh, and the CIA building caper, sort of.

NOTE: FROM THIS POINT FORWARD, HERE BE SPOILERS. I don't think you can reasonably spoil a film that's been out for four months, and out on DVD for one, but consider yourself warned. Any road, there's nothing major revealed...

Read the rest of this entry at Media Relations.
iainpj: two men (duet2)
( Apr. 7th, 2010 01:03 am)
So ... I was in the mood to watch one o' them there gayboyvids tonight. (No, no, no, not one of THOSE gayboyvids. There was no nekkid cavorting ... which, come to think of it, is really unusual. Oh, there was nekkid buttage here and there, and one -- and only one -- very brief full frontal, and that actually served a story purpose. So did the nekkid buttage, for that matter. Apparently, gayboy film has grown beyond gratuitous nudity. Whoda thunk? But I digress, already.)

Anyway. The one I rented was Boycrazy, a series of shorts from Wolfe Video. The collection is bracketed by two very different musicals: "Fairies", which became the feature Were the World Mine, and the titular "Boycrazy". Structurally, they're very different; "Fairies" is a bit more traditionally structured, while "Boycrazy" is very nearly through-sung. But this isn't a comment on those.

There are two other films in the middle besides the ones below: "Dish" and "Teddy". "Dish" involves some Hispanic teens in Los Angeles; everyone seems to be very very out and clear about their sexuality, which makes me wonder what high school in LA is like these days. Israel, one of the teens, is figuring out what he does and doesn't like -- at his age, sex sounds both terribly fascinating and thoroughly icky ("I'm not sticking it up someone's butt!"). "Teddy" is about leaving old things behind, shall we say. Despite the fact that "Teddy" is the best reviewed film of the ones in the collection, it honestly made almost no impression on me.

"Frequent traveler" is the tale of an airport security agent and a frequent traveler, as the title implies. And all I can say is, by the end of this very short (8 minutes) video, you're hoping that one of them gets the courage to talk to the other and ask for a more regular date. Not just because people like romances, but because this, as a method of not-getting-acquainted is truly kind of icky. This, by the by, is the film with the moment of frontal nudity. Apparently, when confronted with unexpected screening beeps, airport security agents will take you to another room and strip and cavity search you. Other security agents will stand behind one-way glass and ogle wistfully. So ... see what I mean about an icky way of not-dating?

"The Back Room" is not at all about what the title would imply to your average gay guy. It takes place in the back room at a used book store. That guy comes in, asking for a book on a particular artist. The clerk helps him with his request, and is clearly very attracted to the customer, who may or may not be somewhat oblivious -- it's a bit hard to tell. They're very different; the clerk is long and lean and clearly more educated than the customer, who is beefy and burly and has a hard time martialling the vocabulary to describe what he's looking for. It turns out that they've been to the same town in Italy, where the customer came across the work of this artist. They bond over the rembrances of this place, and you can see them growing closer, and it's really a lovely, very emotional scene. The clerk finally tells the customer the correct name of the artist he's looking for, and gets him the a book of the artist's work. (At which point, it should be blindingly obvious to the customer that the clerk has been deliberately keeping information from him for some reason -- the only way the clerk could have laid hands on that book when and how he does is if he'd known what to look for the whole time -- but it's not at all clear whether that guy gets it or not.)

And then ... things happen.

And honestly, I wish that film had been about 10, 15 minutes longer. It didn't need that, you understand; I just wanted it. I wanted to see the rest. To be sure, given where it ends up, what we see would have been followed by a bit more romance, which would have been followed by sex, which hopefully would have been followed by more romance. (What? ... What? Hey, I'm a sap, OK? I freely admit this! One of these days, I will write about my excursions through the land of Ravenous Romance. Some of which has gone well, and some of which ... really really hasn't. Stay away from some of the movie remakes is all I'm saying. But I digress. Again.)

Any road, said film may be viewed in its entirety at Logo, should you so desire.

Anyway. For no reason that I can explain, I wound up looking up the principal actors from the film. The lead actor, Greg Ivan Smith, the clerk, was also the director and not very hard to find at all. (My inner geek and former web designer wants to tell him to change the title attribute on that page, and to get rid of the scrolling text at the bottom that is very 90s, but is at least also relatively unobtrusive, as those things go. But I shall resist manfully, because to do otherwise would be kind of assholish. But I digress. AGAIN.) And it turns out that "The Back Room" is also a very personal story for him. (I now find myself intensely curious as to what his partner looks like, for no apparent reason.)

And then I looked up the other actor, Dan Sturges, whose character is actually credited as "That Guy". And ... well, you absolutely never know what you're going to find, do you? Seriously, that could not have been more unexpected. (No, it's not porn. Alas. Yes, it's entirely worksafe.)

Anyway, it was, as they say, an interesting way to spend an evening.
Angela Bassett Joins WB's 'Green Lantern' | The Wrap:

"ER" star Angela Bassett will play government agent Dr. Amanda Waller in WB's "Green Lantern," reports Variety.

The character is in an important one in the DC Comics universe, having appeared in several TV series including "Smallville," "Batman Beyond" and "Justice League."

The Playlist speculates that Waller "could be used as a potential 'bridge' character, not unlike Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury in the Marvel films, able to link different DC superhero storylines and universes together." If that's the case, then sign me up for more DC movies! [...]


I mean ... well ... huh.

OK, here's the thing: in terms of actual talent, Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller is just about pitch perfect casting. She can easily play someone that ferociously effective, that dominating, that terrifying as well as someone who can hide all that menace when the situation calls for it. (Seriously, if Amanda Waller notices you, you should probably start immediately investing in extra absorbent undies, because it's not going to go well for you. Not at all.) And on that level, I'm kind of looking forward to seeing how she plays the character.

It's just ... well, on more that one occasion, as part of the way she lets people know who they're dealing with, Waller has described herself as "that fat black woman". Or words to that effect. Her size is really a core part of the character, in a way that's both surprising, and surprisingly effective. And that aspect will completely go away with Bassett, unless they put her in a fat suit, and I really can't see them doing that.

(For what it's worth, I'm kind of scratching my head and wondering what on earth Waller would be doing in a Green Lantern movie in the first place, especially since I've heard that it's at least partly a Hal Jordan origin movie, and she had no place in that story originally. But that's sort of a side issue.)

Pam Grier is playing Waller in several episodes of Smallville this season. That strikes me as slightly closer to accurate casting -- Grier isn't notably heavy, but she is curvaceous in a way that gets emphasized by the camera. Plus, again, perfectly capable of acting the hell out of that role.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Bassett does with the role -- and what the character winds up doing in Jordan's origin story, and how she makes his life miserable. Because she will. She's just that good at being bad.
So I was watching these clips on Youtube of this Italian movie that I'd seen referenced on another weblog. (This NOT NECESSARILY WORKSAFE scene, as it happens) And I thought it looked familiar, and I was pretty sure that one of the video stores I go to had this in stock, so I rented it again. And the more I looked at it, the more I remembered it. I remembered being grateful that it had burned-in subtitles so that I could get through it fast, because it was just interesting enough to want to see what happened but not good enough to want to waste a whole 83 minutes of my life on it. And then I decided to see if there were any reviews out there to help prod my memory.

And what do you know? If you do the search right, it turns out that one of the reviews that comes up on the very first page of results is my very own, of "Uomini uomini uomini."

And I'll tell you what: I was way too kind in that review. It's not that anything I said was wrong; it's that I completely missed what really happens in the first few minutes, which really does tell you everything you need to know about these characters and should set the tone for the film. (It doesn't set the tone, mostly because of the film's lack of any real structure. It immediately goes gallivanting off into unrelated scenes of character exploration in a way that makes you forget how it started.)

These four middle-aged gay guys, with whom we are supposed to sympathize or empathize or whatever, effectively gang-rape a stripper. In the very first scene of the film. One of them gets the stripper into the club's bathroom, where we discover, hey! the stripper's a prostitute! What a surprise! The stripper offers to do the guy for 300,000 lire, and then suddenly the other three guys are there, pretending to be the police in a fairly believable arrest/shakedown to prevent arrest. They all shove him into a stall, saying "You're lucky! Instead of going to jail, you might even have fun!" It's not at all clear how far they go -- it cuts away before anything happens, and afterward, they aren't that specific, saying only, "You can't even have a joke any more!" whatever that means in context -- but seriously, the main characters basically gang-rape a guy to start the film. And I somehow managed not to understand what was going on. I expect that it was meant to be a sort of foreshadowing about what happens with Luca later in the film. Oh, and right after the possible gang-rape, one of them gropes a parking attendant and shoves his crotch up against the guy's butt. When the attendant objects, the guy says that you have to expect such things to happen when you're a guy working at a queer nightclub. Oh, and then the one who happens to be a doctor takes advantage of one of his patients by making him undress when it's entirely unnecessary. All of this happens in the first seven minutes of the film.

Man, I could sometimes be really clueless ten years ago.
Media Relations: nbc and the shadows of the night/ January 8, 2010: ... Here's the question I'd like to see answered: if NBC really does plan to effectively cancel Leno's show as of the end of the Winter Olympics ... what do they do with the rest of this season? They didn't order drama pilots for this season in large enough numbers to cover the space. They don't have enough comedy shows in reserve to shove back their dramas into the late primetime slot. They let Southland go to TNT -- and I would argue, myself, that it should have been either there or at FX in the first place, but that's neither here nor there. They let Medium go to CBS. So far this season, they let Trauma go, period. That's three shows that they no longer have to plug holes with. The question remains: what does NBC do with that last hour of coverage from the beginning of March through the end of August? (And make no mistake: NBC will need to do something to prevent the normal summer viewing doldrums from absolutely killing any momentum they might build up for next fall.)

... (One of NBC's notable decisions back in the day was cancelling an excellent comedy called "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd" because it was damaging their powerhouse Thursday night lineup. At the time, Molly Dodd was something like the 13th highest rated show of the season, and LA Law, which followed, was top ten. They replaced Molly Dodd with, I believe, Family Ties or Night Court or Cheers. The next season, LA Law was the top rated show on television.) That said, the one thing that NBC had at the time, which they don't have now, is time and stability. They could afford to let shows that didn't do well initially have some time to find their audience. They had people who got to hang around long enough to tinker with lineups until they worked. None of that seems to be true today; if whatever they do to make things work doesn't work fairly quickly, those people may not get a chance to try again.

And apropos of the above quote, just because it's there and I can, and also because for some reason, I just miss that show a lot some days, a few clips:

The first scene below is more or less when Molly first really starts dating Moss. Their relationship, prior to that, started off rather badly. He was very nearly pathologically shy with her. And then, on their previous first date, her father died, and she walked out of her own apartment without telling Moss she was leaving or what had happened. So things really had nowhere to go but up.

And now, let's meet Molly's mother, in a scene that winds up being really relentlessly relevant:

The thing to know about the two scenes below is that Molly was dating both Moss and Nathaniel at the same time. Sort of. Actually, she'd mostly broken up with Moss, and started with Nathaniel (I highly recommend clip 3), who was a policeman (and also, black -- vide her mother's "rainbow" remark). And then the elevator thing happened.

And that was followed, somewhat inevitably by this:

We didn't find out until nearly the last episode of the series who the father was. (It turned out to be, shall we say, rather obvious.) And, in what somehow felt like an inevitable development, Nathaniel eventually persuades Molly to marry him ... and then is killed in the line of duty (EDIT: by a rogue shrimp -- see comments) on the day of their wedding.

The below, I think, is a very early scene -- not long after her divorce from Fred Dodd (and the audio is, alas, rather horrible):

Unfortunately, it looks like this show will never see the light of DVD. The music rights are apparently terribly complicated -- between Fred Dodd the sax player and Molly's fantasy sequences, some sort of song was in almost every episode -- and Jay Tarses, the creator and first executive producer, is dead (EDIT: Apparently, still quite alive and in his 70s -- see comments), so untangling things enough to actually get it to DVD is more work than it's worth for a 20 year old series that never had that huge a following.

I did, I will admit, have a mad, passionate crush on Blair Brown back in the day. It started with seeing her in "Captains and the Kings" (I also had a thing for Taylor Caldwell books -- she's really rather perfect for tortured teens -- and that particular character is kind of awesome), continued through Molly Dodd, and even got me to go see Strapless (trailer at Video Detective), a movie she did with Bruno Ganz (on whom I also had a mad passionate -- and, given circumstances, somewhat more understandable -- crush) and Bridget Fonda, who seems to have stopped acting since her 2003 marriage to Danny Elfman and subsequent birth of their child. Strapless is essentially a character study; you watch it to see those actors make those characters work, as the storyline kind of gets in the way. (Roger Ebert's review of Strapless, which is pretty much my reaction exactly.)

I will admit that it's also made me very happy to see Blair Brown playing a nicely ambiguous executive on Fringe. Apparently, some old crushes never quite go away. Who knew?

Media Relations logoMedia Relations: allegory and relevance/ September 16, 2009:
... But on the ... well, not so much an upside as a "gee, wonder if they were paying attention" side, it looks like they're going to be reinventing the better years of Deep Space Nine -- only with characters that weren't quite developed for any story that dark, and putting it in a terribly compressed storyline. After all, one can but assume that they're not going to make war with the Klingons/Romulans any kind of long-running theme through the next and succeeding films; that would hamstring their ability to tell stories that didn't have to do with the wars of the worlds. Any war is likely to be a one-and-done story, maybe with enough time passing between the films to say, "So, right after Nero, the Romulans/Klingons did this thing, and then the Federation finally retaliated, and then we had this war, see?" [...]

[...] Sounds like the new film is going to be all about defining the parameters and ethics of the new Federation....
Just because.

I did in fact get around to listening to the audiobook version of Star Trek: Movie Tie-In (I do love that title so), in which Zachary Quinto narrates Allan Dean Foster's valiant attempt at imposing narrative sense on that story.

It would be fascinating to know what version of the script Foster was working from, because there are differences that are kind of intriguing. For example, although it's touched on only very lightly, you do get the sense of the utter wrongness of the Spock/Uhura relationship -- not wrong because it violates the canons or anything like that, but wrong because he's a Starfleet instructor and she's his best student. For all that Starfleet may be different from our current military standards, he was taking an enormous, and enormously stupid, risk, all for troo luuuuv. The film manages to gloss this by eliding the fact that he's a serving officer, and not some sort of very accomplished student who gets to wear a blue shirt just because. (Aided in this elision by the fact that Quinto just isn't much older, if at all, than everyone else.) One of the strong improvements in the novel -- and honestly, I don't know why they didn't put this in the film -- is that instead of getting held up, and therefore saved, because Sulu forgot to take off the parking brake, Enterprise stops and the bridge crew has a discussion in which they realize that the planetary distress call from Vulcan is a fake -- after all, it would have to be, since the attack on the planet itself didn't start until after Enterprise came into the Vulcan system, right? They try to broadcast to the other ships in the fleet, but it's too late. (Interestingly, one of the finer side points in the novel that might get missed is how Kirk's other future gets foreclosed by the attack -- in TOS, he's supposed to have served on Farragut before going to Enterprise, but Farragut is one of the ships destroyed at Vulcan.)

The novel's got a few deliberate call-backs to other Trek moments. For example, in the final climactic battle, instead of taking place somewhere outside the solar system, everything happens next to Titan, allowing Enterprise to rise out of the mists behind Narada, much as in another Trek film. (That said, I think the film changes were better there; however improbable, Sulu -- one assumes -- shooting all of Narada's missiles down like that was just cool. Also, having a black hole open just above the ecliptic around Saturn, when a much smaller black hole swallowed and destroyed Vulcan, would probably have been just a teensy bit too much bad science for the average Trek fan to take.)

There are a couple of small moments here and there that aren't quite what one would expect. The one disappointing moment in the entire thing comes early on, as Quinto is settling into his reading style; when he says "Live long and prosper" to the Vulcan Science Academy board, he just ... says it. Mind, he was somewhat hampered by the surrounding text which specifically emphasizes how deliberately emotionless he is when he says that, but still, I was hoping for a really good "Live long and prosper, [bitch]," and it's just not there. There are also the moments where he puts on his Winona Ryder, which are just ... weird. I mean ... weird. He tries this falsetto-ish voice that just doesn't work at all. His Uhura is much more successful.

Overall, definitely a worthwhile adjunct to the film. Though I still suspect that reading Star Trek: Countdown would be slightly more helpful in making sense of Nero, at least.

A few random links:

Star Trek: The Abridged Script | The Editing Room
The money quote from the above: "BLACK HOLES MAKE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE!"

Oddly enough, despite being specifically inspired by Editing Room's style and format, Bad Transcript's version of the movie is far more interesting. Aside from the money quote, of course. And this is maybe even better.

Interviews with Orci and Kurzman, the scriptwriters:
Part 1
Part 2
A few things become blindingly obvious as you read through these:
(1) They were not prepared for the obsessiveness of the average Trek fan, let alone the seriously obsessive fanboys. Their befuddlement at certain moments is just ... charming, really. Unintentionally, of course. But really, someone should have warned them.
(2) By scrupulously avoiding a great deal of the previous 69 episodes and 10 films, they managed to be completely unaware, for a very long time, of the fact that Trek had cobbled together a surprisingly coherent view of time (as long as you ignore the end of Voyager and, it seems, Enterprise) -- that there is One True Timeline, and if someone meddles in it, you have to go and re-meddle to make it go back the way it was supposed to. While this may be forgiveable for the youngsters, it makes it more than mildly baffling that Spock doesn't say to young Kirk and friends, "So, what say we take a slingshot trip around Vulcan's sun, warn everyone what's about to happen so that they can just shoot down Nero's lightly protected drill with all the spacecraft that Vulcan, as the oldest spacefaring culture in the Federation, should have just lying around, and prevent Vulcan from getting all crunched in the first place? Hey, maybe we could even slingshot into the future, save Romulus, and prevent Nero from going bonkers in the first place! Howzabout that?" After all, he's done it at least three times himself.

In any event, they are very clear that the TNG/DS9/Voyager timeline continues, and they'd rather like to see a new TNG film. It seems highly unlikely -- I cannot imagine Paramount et al deciding that they would like to simultaneously juggle two different continuities on film, thank you VERY much, especially given that the last TNG film only just made back its production budget domestically, whereas the reboot has been wildly profitable, even against a much increased production budget. Paramount is likely to just invest in the current timeline and explore the changes that have been made possible. (Does Kirk have to go back and fail to rescue Edith Keeler again? Do they need to go back and get another couple whales, or did Narada maybe kinda accidentally blow up that probe for them? Just how much is Spock Prime going to tell them, or not tell them? Inquiring minds want to know!) I do wonder if the still robust book publishing program for TOS/TNG will be allowed to continue, or if they'll shut that off in favor of only working within the reboot universe.

(Purely a sidenote: everyone keeps calling it the reboot, which keeps making me want to shout "ReBoot!" Which will, of course, be meaningless to just about everyone, so here, have a teeny bit of context.)
Information about the New York ceremonies (first of three -- insert eyeroll ... here) can be found at at the bottom of this post on the GLAAD website. I'm glad to see that Suze Orman, Noah's Arc and LZ Granderson won awards. Most of the film and television awards still remain to be announced. The Los Angeles ceremonies promise to be positively littered with celebrities. I will admit that I'll be astonished if anything but Milk wins the best film award. I'm also a bit puzzled at East Side Story being in this year's television awards, since I first saw it in a theater -- admittedly, at a film festival -- two years ago, in a slightly different form.

Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Buffy the Vampire Slayer wins GLAAD award:
Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer has received a GLAAD Media Award honoring its representation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The 20th annual Media Awards were presented Sunday at a ceremony in New York City.

The award lists Drew Goddard, Jeph Loeb and Joss Whedon, who wrote the 2008 stories “Anywhere But Here,” “A Beautiful Sunset,” “Wolves at the Gate,” “Time of Your Life,” and “After These Messages … We’ll Be Right Back.” The artists were Georges Jeanty, Karl Moline, Cliff Richards and Eric Wight.

Other nominees in the comic-book category were: The Alcoholic (DC Comics/Vertigo), Final Crisis: Revelations (DC Comics), Secret Six (DC Comics), and Young Avengers Presents (Marvel).

Given the nominees, probably the best of the choices for this category. Which reminds me...
Comic Related - Race and Gender in Comics
Many of you may know me or have seen me active in the forums. For those who don't, let me introduce myself. My name is Sean Collins and I am an artist/writer as well as the owner of Wild Wolf Entertainment LLC. I have also been a comic collector and fan for as long as I can remember. I became an active comic creator about seven years ago.

What many of you may not know is I am a proud Native American, which brings me to the what I plan to do in this column. As a Native American, I have a natural interest in how all minorities are handled in comics and related media. Here, I will be taking a look at how different races and genders have been handled throughout the history of comics....

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to seeing how that column turns out, especially since "One diverse comic book nation" seems to have ceased again.

And along those lines: "...I think a lot of the issue isn't racism as it's classically known and discussed, but just one of lazy thinking. Why can't the next semi-recurring character to be introduced be a minority?...

5 Absurd Superhero Origins: Actually, the "What would have really happened" bits are the best parts.

Keanu Reeves as Spike Siegel in "Cowboy BeBop": ... Yes. Well. quite. Mind, Spike has a very buttoned-down affect, so there's a level where this kinda sorta almost works. Kinda. Sorta. Almost. I wonder if they'll go for one of the continuity episodes, or write something that would be a sort of stand-alone episode.

RIP, GYWO. (Though, given that the war is still on, one suspects that there'd be a place for it for some time to come. The rhetorical flourishes that will be trotted out to explain why things aren't ending now-ish, or as now-ish as possible, will be legion, and mighty to see!)
My, the things you miss when you go away on vacation.
Judge Says Fox Owns Rights to ‘Watchmen,’ Made by Warner Brothers -
In a surprise ruling, a federal judge in Los Angeles said he intended to grant 20th Century Fox’s claim that it owns a copyright interest in the “Watchmen,” a movie shot by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures and set for release in March. The decision was disclosed in a five-page written order issued on Wednesday. Gary A. Feess, a judge in the United States District Court for Central California, said he would provide a more detailed order soon.

Fox has been seeking to prevent Warner from releasing the film. The superhero adventure, based on the “Watchmen” graphic novel, is being directed by Zack Snyder (who also directed “300”) and has shaped up as one of most eagerly anticipated releases for next year.....

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. v. Warner Bros. Entm’t, Inc. et al.: ORDER RE: CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (PDF)

Basically, there were five major points, including the rights of distribution and ownership, and Warner lost -- badly -- on the two points on which the judge actually ruled. (He didn't need to address the other issues here.) Even more baffling, Warner intends to continue fighting a battle it's extraordinarily unlikely to win.

I wonder what Warner's legal department was thinking during all this? According to what both sides have said, Warner was aware of Fox's prior claim; they were aware that according to the contract, they could have bought it out relatively cheaply (seriously, for a film with a production budget north of $100 million? why would you hesitate to make absolutely certain that you owned it?); they had all of this pointed out to them by Fox before filming started, and still they did nothing. Once they started filming, Fox had no reason to intervene or reassert its claim more forcefully; they knew that there was a decent chance they might prevail on the merits, so why on earth not let someone else sink the production money into the thing? Once it was completed, Fox also had no reason to insist that the quitclaim be exercised -- in fact, they had quite a strong reason to insist that the quitclaim now could not be exercised, as their rights had been violated by the production itself. Even Warner seems to concede that allowing WB to prevail would require a rather novel reading of contract law -- which is, of course, what they're asking for, lest they straight up lose their entire investment. They can appeal the decision, once the other three points have been argued and the final decision is issued, but courts are generally reluctant to overturn decisions unless they feel that the lower court either did something incorrectly, or misapplied the law. Somehow, I can't see that applying here -- and even if that could happen, it can't happen quickly. Unless they get the entire federal appeals chain to hear things on some extremely expedited appeals indeed, I can't see how this film is going to make a March 9 release date, especially with three of the five points from the lawsuit still entirely undecided and not even scheduled for trial until near the end of the month.

Alan Moore must be deeply amused, given his history with Warner and its DC subsidiary, and his intense dislike of having his work filmed.
Jack White ft. Alicia Keys - Another Way To Die - Official Music Video, Quantum of Solace

Yeah ....

OK, look. I've reluctantly come to terms with the idea that, no matter how profoundly radio rejects these themes recently, the Broccolis and whoever else is involved with producing Bond movies will keep trying to get music that's going to both be popular and sound like "Bond", despite the fact that the two types of music have diverged so widely in recent years. But seriously, this is kind of a hopeless mess. It's trying to be jazzy, it's trying to be Bond, it's trying to be hard rock, it's trying to be soulful, and it tries itself into a musical muddle. I get the impression that they really really don't want to go the way of "Die Another Day", which was popular but did not remotely sound like a Bond song -- apparently Madonna has enough clout to keep the Broccolis from seriously messing with her music, and honestly, I'm not sure what you could do to that to make it sound more Bond-like without destroying it. It has been widely reviled as the worst of the Bond themes; despite not being a dreadful song on its own, it does sound wrong for Bond.

What they really need to do is to make the commitment to moving to a completely different sound for the Bond themes. A very hard, edgy rock song would actually be entirely in character for Craig's Bond, who has a lot more ragged, damaged edges showing than any Bond to date. Dump the violins and the rest of the orchestra, and just go with the rock sound.

I have to admit, I do wonder what would have happened had Amy Winehouse not drugged herself out of the theme song. She certainly couldn't have carried off this song; I'm sure that whatever she was going to do would have been much more period-sounding and backward looking, which probably really isn't the direction they should be looking, musically speaking.

All that said, I would like to point out the following: the title of the new song would be a WAY better title for the film than "Quantum of Solace". I get that it's a title actually associated with the Bond short stories, I understand that they wanted to maintain the connection. Nonetheless. Title sucks, and not in the happy fun way, neither.
My goodness. A day full of sorta kinda revelations about the next Bond film.

Producers reveal title of new James Bond -
Producers have revealed some of the secrets about the latest James Bond film, due for release later this year, including the inner turmoil that drives its suave superagent hero and its title: "Quantum of Solace." As titles go, it's not as mellifluous as "From Russia With Love" or "Goldfinger." But Daniel Craig, returning as Bond after 2006's "Casino Royale," says he likes it. "It has grown on me," Craig told reporters on the film's set at Pinewood Studios near London on Thursday. "It doesn't trip off the tongue. But why should it?"

Producer Michael G. Wilson said the title, chosen only a few days ago, was taken from a story by Bond creator Ian Fleming that appears in the collection "For Your Eyes Only." Craig said Fleming defined a quantum of solace -- it means, roughly, a measure of comfort -- as "that spark of niceness in a relationship that if you don't have, you might as well give up."

Filming began earlier this month at Pinewood, the franchise's home since the 1960s. It's a direct sequel to 2006's "Casino Royale," beginning an hour after that film ends, with Bond devastated by his betrayal by true love Vesper Lynd. "He had his heart broken at the end of the last movie and that certainly is a spur for him in this one," Craig said."I'd be lying if I said there wasn't revenge in his heart. But it's more than that. That spurs him on, but that's not what the movie is. It's not a revenge movie. It's about him figuring a few things out." [...]

Bond Girls' Kiss Reveal

One of the new Bond Girls has let slip a smooching secret... So, just who out of Gemma Arterton and Olga Kurylenko will be locking lips with 00-hotness?

Well, actress Gemma Arterton departed some titbits about a smooch at the photocall for the new Bond movie, Quantum Of Solace, at Pinewood studios, west of London. She said: "I do get to kiss Bond. I am an agent, but after a while I become a Bond Girl." Ooh, lucky, lucky lady.

Now, more importantly, will Daniel Craig be sauntering out of the sea in those skimpy swimming trunks? Well, he said: "I'm not going to put them trunks on ever again but there will be a certain amount of nudity in this movie."

Dollars'll get you donuts that "a certain amount of nudity" equals "the bad guys are going to torture him again because nudity makes him look more vulnerable when they're doing awful things to him, and this time we may even see Bond buttock, but we're not doing full frontal Bond because we still want a PG-13 rating in the states. However, we may consider Bond naughty bits for the European market and an unrated DVD release." Though it would be worth trying to find out if an R-rated Bond really would be a lower grossing film. Somehow, I suspect it wouldn't make that much difference.
Barbar-hella! Robert Rodriguez Is Fonda of Rose McGowan in Queen of the Galaxy Role, But Universal Winces | The New York Observer:
Sin City director Robert Rodriguez is letting his heart get in the way of his better judgment with his forthcoming big-budget remake of Barbarella, a source with knowledge of the production told the Transom.

Universal Studios has backed out of backing the movie, whose budget the source pegged at nearly $100 million, because Mr. Rodriguez has insisted on casting his new fiancé, Rose McGowan, in the lead role, famously played by Jane Fonda in the 1968 original directed by Ms. Fonda’s then-husband, Roger Vadim.

The movie depicts a futuristic astronaut who travels the galaxy, seductively conquering everything in her path. More famous names floated for the part included Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Jessica Alba.

“It’s sort of embarrassing for everyone involved,” the source said. “No one thinks Rose can carry the movie, but Robert won’t listen.” [...] Mr. Rodriguez denied this, claiming the issue was simply one of budget. “Universal had initially signed on for $60 million,” he told the Transom, “but then when we were done with the script it wound up at closer to $82 million, and they had just financed a Will Ferrell movie that was a $130 million and they even cut that down to $100.” He said Universal would still be happy to fund the picture for $60 million, but that he was shopping it around to other studios in the hopes of getting more money. Mr. Rodriguez is known for his ability to make movies cheaply, but believes it will be difficult with Barbarella since much of the film takes place in outer space, and “we don’t want the movie to look like the original,” he said.

The director alleges that the people at Universal were in fact thrilled with Ms. McGowan’s screen test, “blown over,” as he put it. “They said, ‘What are we looking at?’” Mr. Rodriguez said. “She looks fantastic in the role. … She was perfect for this part. She just has that daring look, a sort of classic sexiness that is also kind of futuristic.” [...]

...Futuristic sexiness? ... well, whatever.

I don't think Rose McGowan is necessarily a bad actress -- the only things I've seen her in are "Charmed", Devil in the Flesh and Jawbreaker, and frankly, it's hard to judge someone's talent from those -- but I'm really not sure I'd strap a $100 million-plus movie to her back. Especially not one where she'd be following in Jane Fonda's high-booted footsteps. Especially if the desire of both DeLaurentiis and Universal is, as has been reported, to de-campify the story. A woman who just played a role where they stuck a machine gun to a leg stump and had her firing with wild abandon is just not whom I would think of if one of the criteria is "not campy".

Also? Seriously can't imagine Nicole Kidman or Halle Berry playing this role. In any event, assuming that funding is found soon and filming starts in the next few months, Halle Berry likely couldn't play the role, since she's due in March.
"In Contempt": I serve at your pleasure, sir.: ... Well, that would explain what he was doing when all those other people were doing his job, now wouldn't it? And clearly, he's rather bad at it.

My baby mama is a supervillain: And hey! according to Grant Morrison's Batman run, we can now add Bruce Wayne/Batman to the list of guys who has been drugged and used as a big, warm inseminator. If it weren't for the fact that superhero comics are ... what they are, what I would wonder is why all the men are being raped by women. After all, statistically speaking, it's comparatively unlikely. Also when it does happen in real life, it tends to be rather unpleasant, with or without drugs. (And seriously, I don't even want to know what's happening in Jamaica.)

Disturbia' Director Might Reunite With Shia LaBeouf For Woman-Centered 'Last Man': actually, that would be some pretty good casting. Though I do wonder how they're going to condense 60 issues into two hours, or if they're going to leave it open ended in the hopes of coming down with an intense case of sequelitits.
America Jr (Episode 283), or, as I like to think of it, A Boy Like That: I hit the punchline and laughed myself sick. Which is probably terribly wrong of me, but it's Just So Perfect.

The Onion AV Club: Bill Willingham

As Bill Willingham tells it, when he was younger, he chased all across the U.S., trying to break into comics as a writer and an artist, creating barely remembered titles like Ironwood, Coventry, and Elementals. Over the past seven years, he's worked largely for DC Comics, scripting Robin and Shadowpact, writing the limited series Proposition Player and the Sandman spin-off Thessaly: Witch For Hire, and contributing to DC's recent Infinite Crisis crossover. But Willingham became a force to be reckoned with in comics five years ago, when his ongoing series Fables launched. An epic, beautifully written story that places "Fables," familiar characters from folklore, in the mundane world after a mysterious Adversary conquers their homelands, the series has proved tremendously popular, spawning (to date) 10 graphic novels and the ongoing spin-off series Jack Of Fables, co-written with Matt Sturges. Just before the San Diego ComicCon, where DC announced the upcoming Sturges/Willingham project House Of Mystery, Willingham spoke to The A.V. Club about his history, his future, his terrible attempts at pitching projects, and how growing up as an Army brat prepared him for a lifetime of chasing soon-to-be-defunct comics companies across the country.

[Willingham:] [...]My personal theory is that we've all got this bucket full of good ideas, and if you just hold onto them, your bucket never gets fuller. There's only so many you can hold at a time, but as fast as you use them up, it fills up again with more good ideas. My notion is to spend everything you've got coming through your head as fast as you can, and you're guaranteed to get more good stuff. So while writing Robin and stuff like that, if I had good ideas, I'd try to pitch them and run with them. Sometimes it backfired. It was my idea to make Spoiler into Robin, just before she died horribly. I thought that would be a good thing for the character, but it turns out that legions of female fans now detest me for doing that....

...OK, no. They don't detest you for making Spoiler into Robin, they detest you for the horrible death itself, as well as the hamhanded storywriting that led into it; if she had stayed Spoiler, and died the same way, with Batman contributing to it in the same way and Leslie acting so severely out of character at the end of it, the people who detest you for that death would still feel the same way about it. Said terribly vicious murder, as you and Didio have said many times in other places, was editorially mandated, so that, at least, wasn't your fault, but going on about it like this and not understanding what precisely people were upset about somehow doesn't help. (And there is, of course, the open question of whose fault the story details leading into the murder were.) But really, you know, most people have moved on, and now hate Dan Didio, because it's clearly his opinion that Stephanie wasn't really a Robin -- and even allowing that she wasn't Robin when she was killed, allowing Bruce to present the attitude about it that he has makes him seem unusually callous, even for him.

The Onion AV Club: Joss Whedon
Joss Whedon has had a long and storied history in Hollywood as a screenwriter, on television as the writer-creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, and back in Hollywood as the writer-director of Serenity. As an enthusiastic, unabashed fan of all things smart and geeky, it was inevitable that he'd find his way into comics, where (among other things) he's written the far-future Buffy spin-off Fray, a well-received run on Astonishing X-Men, and the Firefly miniseries Serenity: Those Left Behind. Currently, he's wrapping up his X-Men run, taking over writing duties for Brian K. Vaughan on Runaways, and scripting future issues of Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, the official comics continuation of his beloved first show.

Recently, Whedon took the spotlight at the San Diego ComicCon, where he announced that he's in negotiations to bring the Buffy spin-off Ripper to the BBC, showcased his online Dark Horse comic Sugarshock, and took five charity auction-winners to dinner, raising more than $60,000 for the worldwide women's-rights organization Equality Now. Just before heading to San Diego, Whedon spoke with The A.V. Club about his current and upcoming comics projects, his film project Goners, the status of Serenity, why spoilers are ruining our culture, and his much-publicized work on—and break from—the Wonder Woman film project. [...]

[...] AVC: Is your Wonder Woman film adaptation irrevocably dead, or is there any possibility of going back?

JW: I loved what I was doing. I mean, it was really hard. It took me a long time to break the story structurally to my satisfaction. When I did that, it was in an outline, and not in a draft, and they didn't like it. So I never got to write a draft where I got to work out exactly what I wanted to do. In terms of the meaning, the feeling, the look, the emotion, the character, the relationship with Steve Trevor, all of that stuff, I never wavered for a second. I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It was really just a question of housing it. I would go back in a heartbeat if I believed that anybody believed in what I was doing. The lack of enthusiasm was overwhelming. It was almost staggering, and that was kind of from the beginning. I just don't think my take on Wonder Woman was ever to their liking.

I wasn't getting them to feel what they wanted to feel. They couldn't describe what that was to me. We're talking about a huge investment. To ask somebody to jump on that, what is going to be a few hundred million dollars these days, if they just don't have that feeling… I had that feeling. I got chills when I think of some of this stuff, but apparently I was the only one who was chilly. Everybody was very gracious about it. It was a blind date, and everybody thought we'd get married, but let's just leave it at the door.

AVC: What would you do on a set with $100 million dollars, having never worked with a budget like that before?

JW: It's the exact same job. The money has never mattered. If you have $100 million, if you have $100,000, you're trying to hit someone in the gut with an emotional moment. If you can back that up with an awesome visual, that's really neat. If you can back that up with a visual that's not awesome, but at least gets it done, tells them what they need to know to hit them in the gut emotionally, that's neat too. If the characters can only talk about it in a room, then the emotional moment has to be really, really good, but it's still neat. That's never really worried me. I've always thought way too big, and then people have gone, "Great. Now you have to scale this way back." In this case, I didn't have to scale it way back, I just had to stop doing it.

AVC: Can you say anything about the plot you had in mind for your version of the film?

JW: Well, I'll tell you one thing that sort of exemplifies my feelings. The idea was always that she's awesome, she's fabulous, she's strong, she's beautiful, she's well-intentioned, she thinks she's a great big hero, and it's Steve Trevor's job to go, "You don't understand human weakness, therefore you are not a hero, and you never will be until you're as helpless as we are. Fight through that, and then I'll be impressed. Until then, I'm just going to give you shit in a romantic-comedy kind of way."

There was talk about what city she was in and stuff, but by the end, she had never actually set foot in America. Wonder Woman isn't Spider-man or Batman. She doesn't have a town, she has a world. That was more interesting to me than a kind of contained, rote superhero franchise. I think ultimately the best way I can describe the kind of movie I was wanting to make—it was a fun adventure, not gritty, or insanely political, or anything like that. There was meat to the idea of, "Well, why aren't you guys better? What's up with that?" Her lack of understanding of how this world has come to this pass.

My favorite thing was the bracelets. I mean, the bracelets are cool, but how do I make that work? In the original comic book, they needed them because they fire guns on Paradise Island. I don't think I'm going there. So, I thought about it for a while, and I realized, "Oh, right, this is how this works." So in my version, she left Paradise Island with Steve, who was a world-relief guy bringing medical supplies to refugees, which is why he was so desperate to get off the island. She goes with him, and the moment she sets foot on land outside of Paradise Island, somebody shoots her in the chest. And it hurts. [Laughs.] She's just so appalled. And obviously, she heals within a few hours. She pulls the bullet out herself, and kind of looks at it like, "What the hell is this?" She heals, but she's appalled and humiliated, and the next time someone shoots at her, she puts her bracelet in the way because she's terrified of getting shot. It's just a reflexive thing. She has these bands that they all wear, just a piece of armor, and she puts it up. And then she gets good at it. By the end, it's kind of her thing, but it's because she got shot one time and didn't think that it was awesome. I think that is probably not the feeling the producers wanted to have. Though honestly, that could have been their favorite thing. I don't know, because when I asked Joel Silver, point blank, "Well, if they don't want what I'm doing, what do they want?" he said, "They don't know." [...]

...You know, here's the thing: they may not have known what they wanted, but it may well be that they knew what they didn't want when they heard it. I'd be willing to bet that the suits were somehow thinking, "Big iconic take on the character," only not really knowing that was what they wanted. And then one of the first things Joss said was, "There will be no star spangled panties." And, well, love them or loathe them (and lately, they seem to be a star spangled thong, so kind of one with the loathing), the star spangled panties really are iconic Wonder Woman, along with the golden eagle clutching her chest, the bracelets and tiara. The only times you get away from them are very early on, when it was in fact a star spangled skirt with star spangled panties underneath, and in the 70s one-piece period. Combine that with her not setting foot in the country, which, frankly, is just a very odd concept, since early WW is really all about the culture clash between her island of origin (I'm assuming they'd have used Themiscyra and not Paradise Island) and the outside world. Thing is, if you look at what's worked with recent superhero movies (Spiderman, Batman Begins, Fantastic Four), what has been done is to reinterpret the characters for the medium, mostly if not entirely as defined by the current comics -- or in the case of Batman, as defined by Miller's "Year One" story. Knowing that he was planning to get away from one iconic thing and the early definition of the iconic character may have predisposed the executives to not liking his ideas, regardless of their merits. Combine that with them not really knowing what they wanted... well. (It's probably worth noting, in this context, that Superman Returns was failing to be the spectacular they wanted just as this was all going down, and that one of the things that the film does is that it takes off as an air on the film series, rather than simply rebooting as a new film, using the comics as a takeoff point. It asks, in short, for the viewer to bring two sets of continuity porn to the table -- and two sets of 20 year old continuity porn, at that -- which is asking one hell of a lot.)

And also: The Terrible Secret of Livejournal: in which the partial and quite savage disconnect between Livejournal and what some of its customers want -- clarity, primarily -- is explained by someone else in a way that makes sense of it.
No, no, not 'ho, HO! As in Westward! or, something like that. - WB booking a scribe for 'Rex Libris':
Warner Bros. Pictures has hired Mark Burton to pen the bigscreen adaptation of James Turner's comicbook "Rex Libris," about an everyday guy who becomes part of a secret sect of librarians who battle forces of darkness in chasing down overdue or stolen books.cover for Rex Libris issue

Mosaic Media is producing the comedic action-adventure. Comicbook is published by Slave Labor Graphics.

Story revolves around head librarian Rex Libris, who must protect the world's knowledge and most dangerous secrets from falling into the wrong hands, such as when a squad of goons storm the library and tamper with the Dewey Decimal System by removing a certain card from the catalog. The library's walls collapse and a secret stack of books is revealed....

I love this comic with a love that is almost, if not quite entirely, pure, and I'm really curious as to how they're going to sell this as a film. For one thing, despite the fact that it's got all sorts of CGI-friendly things happening, it's truly lunatic. Things happen that have no real connection to one another, other than being things that Rex or Circe or Hypatia (assistant librarian; historically, a librarian at the library of Alexandria -- the one burned by the Romans, yes -- eventually killed and dismembered by an angry mob of early Christians because she was a learned pagan) have to hack and slash and possibly catalog. The most recent story arc features Rex trying to fight his way into a book to rescue a patron who sort of ... fell in, and then fighting his way out again, while Circe and Hypatia are out in the greater library, fighting creatures that have come out of that book and others. This is not what you would precisely call a movie-friendly story. It's not movie unfriendly, precisely, but it's going to take a bit of work.

I'm guessing the relative success of the Librarian TV movies, with Noah Wylie, as well as studios looking for usable comic properties, convinced Warner to go for this one. (Mind, the New York Public Library as depicted in The Librarian is rather profoundly unlibrary-like, and rather surprisingly archaeological, for "Indiana Jones" values of archaeology.) It will be interesting to see if they can make Rex Libris work as a filmed narrative.
First, Entenmann's frosted devil's food donuts are, in concept if not quite in execution, the most ridiculously sinful food. They're actually enrobed. It's like a donut surrounded by a semisolid thick candy shell. (Needs more cocoa in both the frosting and the donut to achieve true sin.)

Oh, and Jessica Simpson is going to star in a remake of Working Girl, the movie that featured Harrison Ford and Melanie Griffith.

No, really.

No ... REALLY.


With Willie Nelson. "Loose remake". I should think so.
For an exotic experience, try watching The Sound of Music with a native Austrian. Really, it's a learning experience. (I'll bet most Americans don't know that Austria had a civil war in 1934, for example.)
Media Relations / June 14, 1006 /man of steel, rainbows, and resurrections

As the release date for Superman Returns nears, people reinterpret the character in more spectacular and peculiar ways....


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