Saturday, February 26, 2005
Bush Determined To Find Warehouse Where Ark Of Covenant Is Stored
WASHINGTON, DC—In a surprise press conference Monday, President Bush said he will not rest until the warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant, the vessel holding the original Ten Commandments, is located. "Nazis stole the Ark in 1936, but it was recovered by a single patriot, who braved gunfire, rolling boulders, and venomous snakes," Bush said, addressing the White House press corps. "Sadly, due to bureaucratic rigmarole, this powerful, historic relic was misplaced in a warehouse. Mark my words: We will find that warehouse." Bush added that, after they are strengthened by the power of the Ark, U.S. forces will seek out and destroy the sinister Temple of Doom.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Click the link to read the rest.
The signs are everywhere that the indecency campaign is failing anyway in the months since "moral values" supposedly became the unofficial law of the land. To see how much so, forget about the liberal Hollywood of Oscar night and examine instead the porn peddlers of the right.
Rupert Murdoch's Fox, always a leader in these hypocrisy sweepstakes, made pious hay out of yanking the second scheduled broadcast of the GoDaddy.com commercial after its initial Super Bowl appearance. But Fox Sports promptly plastered the "GoDaddy girl" alongside Playboy bunnies and other pinups on its "Funhouse Fox of the Week" Web site, where every adolescent teenager could ogle it to his libido's content. No less a bellwether is the decision of Adelphia, a cable giant known for its refusal to traffic in erotica, to change its image radically now that its moralistic founder and former C.E.O., John Rigas, has been convicted of looting the company. Shortly after President Bush's inauguration Adelphia acknowledged that it is offering XXX, the most hard-core porn, to some subscribers - a cable first, outdoing even the XX porn on Mr. Murdoch's DirecTV in explicitness. "The more X's, the more popular," an Adelphia spokeswoman told The Los Angeles Times.
Thursday, February 24, 2005
"Gannon" is currently in the news because the prosecutor for the grand jury investigating just who committed the highly punishable federal crime of leaking CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity to the press wants to know how "Gannon," during an interview with Plame's husband Joseph Wilson (the former official who investigated claims Saddam Hussein was trying to buy weapons grade plutonium from Niger, found the claims baseless and reported that back to the White House, then went public with his findings when the Hand Puppet kept referring to the threat in speeches as justification for war with Iraq), managed to reference an "internal government memo" mentioning Plame as a CIA agent. A note the CIA claims cannot have referred to an actual meeting and must have been forged specifically to name Plame.Interesting.
And for the more comedic bent on this admittedly humorous story, here's Jon Stewart and Bill Maher (both clips courtesty of OneGoodMove.org) with their usual insights. If nothing else, "Gannongate" has been a veritable bonanza for our late night comedians.
Staying in the comedy vein, however unintentionally, is this piece from our favorite knuckle-dragging mouth-breather Ann Coulter, riding cavalry-style to rescue Gannon from the gathering hordes of liberal-dom.
Never let it be said we don't value equal representation here at ZAKI'S CORNER...
Of course, the prospect of the cynically smart, poison-tongued Rock turning his attention to the Bush Administration, a virtual certainty according to his writers, has certain conservative groups pre-emptively up-in-arms. Observe this quote from Concerned Women for America, pseudonymous right wing group, predicting that Rock's presence will drive viewers away, apparently demonstrating, "how far out of touch [Hollywood] is with the rest of America." Shaddaaaap. Geez.
Anyway, read that quote among others in this column from The LA Weekly analyzing the type of material Rock has planned and the uphill battle he's going to fighting.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Monday, February 21, 2005
Eastwood Calls Critics Extremists
Clint Eastwood has acknowledged that a plot twist in Million Dollar Baby that raises the issue of euthanasia "does hit you with sort of a left hook," and that when he attempted to raise money to produce the film "nobody seemed enthralled with that." In an interview appearing in the current issue of Time magazine, Eastwood suggested that he was able to keep the plot twist secret because the movie was made "under the radar. Nobody knew we were making it, and nobody gave a damn that we were making it." Eastwood said that he was surprised that it took so long for the matter to become the subject of controversy. Asked about the fact that the attack on the film comes from his "constituency," Eastwood, generally regarded as a Republican conservative, responded, "Extremism is so easy. You've got your position, and that's it. It doesn't take much thought. And when you go far enough to the right, you meet the same idiots coming around from the left."
The panel promoting the Spielberg/Cruise WAR OF THE WORLDS didn't really offer much more than a teaser, but it at least looked sufficiently non-INDEPENDENCE DAY to pique my curiosity.
Also got to sit in on a panel with Joss Whedon and the cast of the upcoming FIREFLY flick, SERENITY, as they previewed the film (it hits theaters on September 30th), and the excitement for this one is definitely palpable. It helps of course that Joss is able to play these convention crowds like a violin concerto, as evidenced by the room breaking into spontaneous applause at almost every word out of his mouth. They also screened a completed scene from the movie, and it looks just as promising as you'd expect. Cooler yet, I won a raffle that gave me a chance to chat briefly with the Whedon himself, along with Nathan Fillion (Mal), Adam Baldwin (Jayne), and Summer Glau (River). There are some pics from this auspicious meeting below.
UPDATE: Read a summary of the Joss Whedon/SERENITY panel here.
Afterwards, I hit the Kevin Smith panel, wherein he discussed his plans for the upcoming CLERKS sequel, PASSION OF THE CLERKS. As is usually the case with Smith, it packed as much vulgarity and obscenity into as short a span as possible and yet, quite paradoxically, was uproariously funny.
After this, Julian McMahon -- Doctor Doom himself -- showed up to do the studio song & dance for the upcoming FANTASTIC FOUR. Best moments in this session: the Fox rep noticeably squirming as McMahon compared the venal, villainous, ego-driven Victor Von Doom to Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch. Most awkward moment: Some idiot fanboy asks McMahon if FF comic villain Galactus is going to be in the film, to the actor's utter confusion. "Who?" They then showed a clip from the movie, with Von Doom, mutated in the same accident that transforms the titular Four, showing signs of a metallic second-skin growing all over his body. When a physician tells him the outlook isn't particularly good, Victor tosses the poor guy into the wall and says he'll get a second opinion. Doesn't look horrible, but not enough to cast off all doubts just yet.
UPDATE: Read a summary of Julian McMahon's Wondercon panel here.
Immediately following, Christian Bale a.ka. Bruce Wayne a.ka. Batman made an unannounced appearance for a Q&A session promoting BATMAN BEGINS. They then premiered for the first time anywhere a 6-minute cross-section of clips that frankly look spectacular. Not that I had any doubts about this one to begin with, but if I did, they would have been utterly eradicated upon viewing of this clip. It seems like they're finally mining the rich, wonderful details of the Batman myth that have remained heretofore unexplored until now. This one is going to be absolutely spectacular, take it from me.
UPDATE: Read a summary of Christian Bale's BATMAN BEGINS Wondercon panel here.
After the high of the out-of-this-world BATMAN footage, we made the mistake of sticking around for the STAR WARS session. What a waste of time. Other than Lucas rep Steve Sansweet telling us about how great the new EPISODE III trailer is without actually showing anything, the hour consisted mostly of lame promotional trailers for the various STAR WARS-related products Lucas has coming out during the course of the year. A mild highlight was at the opening of the session, which saw Sansweet escorted into the hall by a veritable coterie of Stormtroopers, Clone Troopers, and Darth Vader himself, to the strains of John Williams' Imperial March. Like I said, mild highlight.
Last but not least, here's my picture with Richard Hatch, who starred as Apollo in the original 1970s BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and has a recurring role on Sci Fi's new version. He was actually a really nice guy and we ended up talking quite a bit about his now-kiboshed plans to continue the original series from where it left off.
My one regret about the con is that I didn't get to touch base with writer Mark Evanier, whose blog I consider a daily part of my routine (you'll see it linked to on the right), and who was in SF for the con and was hosting several panels over the course of the weekend. Unfortunately the schedule was pretty unforgiving. Still, there's always next year...
Anyway, make of this what you will:
Thursday, February 17, 2005
There's more in the article, including Rich's comments on Jeff Gannon, the "reporter"/Republican-shill who showed up for the better part of a year at White House press events. Interesting stuff.
The pre-fab "Ask President Bush" town hall-style meetings held during last year's campaign (typical question: "Mr. President, as a child, how can I help you get votes?") were carefully designed for television so that, as Kenneth R. Bazinet wrote last summer in New York's Daily News, "unsuspecting viewers" tuning in their local news might get the false impression they were "watching a completely open forum." A Pentagon Office of Strategic Influence, intended to provide propagandistic news items, some of them possibly false, to foreign news media was shut down in 2002 when it became an embarrassing political liability. But much more quietly, another Pentagon propaganda arm, the Pentagon Channel, has recently been added as a free channel for American viewers of the Dish Network. Can a Social Security Channel be far behind?
It is a brilliant strategy. When the Bush administration isn't using taxpayers' money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government. Paul Farhi of The Washington Post discovered that even at an inaugural ball he was assigned "minders" - attractive women who wouldn't give him their full names - to let the revelers know that Big Brother was watching should they be tempted to say anything remotely off message.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Riding to the rescue like the proverbial white horse comes the Warner Bros. marketing department, which has come up with LOONATICS, a "hip" and "fresh" take on the hoary TUNES brand. You can see a pic of the newly re-designed Bugs -- Buzz Bunny -- below, in a scan from The Wall Street Journal.
What I found more interesting than the character design, which isn't horrible, I don't think, was this article posted by The Denver Post about the thinking that went into the show's development by the corporate honchos at the WB. Needless to say, this is yet another example, regardless of how clever and interesting the show may or may not turn out to be, of marketing gone wild, as nicely summed up here:
"Loonatics" is part of a wider effort by Warner Bros. to boost classic franchises: A new Batman movie and a remake of "Superman" also are in the works. The potential revenue is massive: If "Loonatics" is a hit on Saturday morning, for example, it is likely to ripple through the company's merchandising, home-video and movie divisions.
"That's the ultimate goal of all kids programming," says Janollari. "If we score, it's a gold mine."
Man. That's about as cynical as it gets. Read the rest of the piece at the above link.
Monday, February 14, 2005
Saturday, February 12, 2005
Thursday, February 10, 2005
Certainly there is sadness in this news. There has been a Star Trek production either in prep or being filmed on Stages 8 & 9 on the Paramount lot since 1977, when Star Trek: Phase Two began initial construction for a second series featuring all the original characters but Spock (these sets were then revamped for Star Trek: The Motion Picture). An entire infrastructure has been built around the productions, staffed by people whose involvement in the Franchise goes back over two decades. The dedication, passion, and talent of these artisans and craftsmen cannot be overstated. The unsung heroes of Trek, the people who sweat every detail, who take the time to think through continuity and try to make the vast universe consistent, people like Mike and Denise Okuda, Dave Rossi, Michael Westmore, Herman Zimmerman, Bob Blackman, and many others, are about to leave and take with them an enormous body of knowledge and talent that cannot be and will not be replicated again. That is cause for both tears and eulogies as the close of Enterprise signals the true end of an era.Read the full blog entry at the link above.
Yes, Eastwood. The same registered Republican who recently said of Michael Moore, only half-kidding: "Michael, if you ever show up at my front door with a camera - I'll kill you." He then deadpanned, "I'm serious."
Now, you'd think this verbal bitch slap would be all that was needed for the Limbaugh brigade to ship flowers and bottles of cologne in Eastwood's direction, but such is not the case. According to the gathered might of the lunatic right, Eastwood's Oscar-contender MILLION DOLLAR BABY, starring Hilary Swank as a young woman trying to make it as a boxer, is yet another drop in the drip-drip-dripping down the drain of America's moral values. It's difficult to discuss the plot point of the film that has these guys so up-in-arms, but let's just say the film is being labeled as an endorsement of euthenasia.
Frank Rich recently spoke to Eastwood, who seemed as flabbergasted as every other rational human being on the planet would be, as evidenced by his response: "What do you have to give these people to make them happy?" That's a good question. My guess? Nothing. The world could miraculously come to resemble their vision of a global panacea overnight, and they'd still find something to complain about. Still, Rich finds something very interesting in their overstated reactions to BABY. Says Rich:
What really makes these critics hate "Million Dollar Baby" is not its supposedly radical politics - which are nonexistent - but its lack of sentimentality. It is, indeed, no "Rocky," and in our America that departure from the norm is itself a form of cultural radicalism. Always a sentimental country, we're now living fulltime in the bathosphere. Our 24/7 news culture sees even a human disaster like the tsunami in Asia as a chance for inspirational uplift, for "incredible stories of lives saved in near-miraculous fashion," to quote NBC's Brian Williams. (The nonmiraculous stories are already forgotten, now that the media carnival has moved on.) Our political culture offers such phony tableaus as a bipartisan kiss between the president and Joe Lieberman at the State of the Union, not to mention the promise that a long-term war can be fought without having to endure any shared sacrifice or even too many graphic reminders of its human cost.Bingo.
Read the entire article here.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
"Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate—the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."Wow.
Monday, February 07, 2005
The difference though was that this time Ann wasn't conversing with the usual dead-headed Fox news pundits, gleefully aw-shucksing every word out of her mouth, and she didn't have Sean Hannity by her side to slap her high-fives after every venomous dig at those treasonous "liberals." No, this time poor Ann had to face-off against someone who actually , y'know, had command of the facts. She never stood a chance. As the exchange continued...well, here's the transcript (thanks to Doug Ireland):
Coulter: "Canada used to be one of our most loyal friends and vice-versa. I mean Canada sent troops to Vietnam - was Vietnam less containable and more of a threat than Saddam Hussein?"
McKeown interrupts: "Canada didn't send troops to Vietnam."
Coulter: "I don't think that's right."
McKeown: "Canada did not send troops to Vietnam."
Coulter (looking desperate): "Indochina?"
McKeown: "Uh no. Canada ...second World War of course. Korea. Yes. Vietnam No."
Coulter: "I think you're wrong."
McKeown: "No, took a pass on Vietnam."
Coulter: "I think you're wrong."
McKeown: "No, Australia was there, not Canada."
Coulter: "I think Canada sent troops."
Coulter: "Well. I'll get back to you on that."
I don't think I even need to say anything, really. You, however, can view the clip in glorious Quicktime or WMV here.
McKeown tags out in script:
"Coulter never got back to us -- but for the record, like Iraq, Canada sent no troops to Vietnam."
This repressive cultural environment was officially ratified on Nov. 2, when Ms. Jackson's breast pulled off its greatest coup of all: the re-election of President Bush. Or so it was decreed by the media horde that retroactively declared "moral values" the campaign's decisive issue and the Super Bowl the blue states' Waterloo. The political bosses of "family" organizations, well aware that TV's collective wisdom becomes reality whether true or not, have been emboldened ever since. They are spending their political capital like drunken sailors, redoubling their demands that the Bush administration marginalize gay people, stamp out sex education and turn pop culture into a continuous loop of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."Read the entire article here.
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Producer Rick Berman, charged with caretaking of the franchise following the death of creator Gene Roddenberry in 1992, gave an interview to Zap2It wherein he takes stock of the show's cancellation, though it sounds suspiciously like ass-covering to me:
"I've always believe that you can take too many trips to the well. I'm not saying that Paramount has taken too many trips to the well, but they've probably taken enough for the time being. Since 'Next Generation' began, we have produced 624 hours. It's been 18 years with 'Next Generation,' 'Deep Space Nine,' 'Voyager' and 'Enterprise,' and seven of them we had two shows on simultaneously.That's about right. Of course this brilliant insight comes two movies and 12 television seasons too late. He also goes on later in the piece to mention the early stirrings of motion on a new TREK feature. Sounds like a pipe dream to me.
"So it's all part of what some people like to think of as franchise fatigue."
My prediction is that at the first opportunity, Par is liable to give Berman the ol' heave-ho, as he's going to be perceived (rightly or wrongly) as the guy that drove the thing into the ground. And make no mistakes about it, there's not a chance that this cancellation marks anything other than a temporary hibernation for TREK. Paramount makes way too much money off the thing to keep it down for too long.
As Lily Tomlin so aptly put it, "They don't call it 'Show Art'..."
In the "Get a Life" department, a group of rabid Trekkers at SaveEnterprise.com have vowed to keep fighting to keep their show on the air, including protesting at the gates of Paramount. Good to know they've got their priorities straight.
Regardless, The Nation posted this analysis of the speech, which cuts through the tripe to the harsh realities in store for most of us.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
"STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE" TO END ITS CURRENT VOYAGE ON UPN IN MAY
UPN and Paramount Network Television have jointly announced that this will be the final season of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE on UPN. The series finale will air on Friday, May 13, 2005.
"Star Trek has been an important part of UPN's history, and ENTERPRISE has carried on the tradition of its predecessors with great distinction," said Dawn Ostroff, President, Entertainment, UPN. "We'd like to thank Rick Berman, Brannon Braga and an incredibly talented cast for creating an engaging, new dimension to the Star Trek universe on UPN, and we look forward to working with them, and our partners at Paramount Network Television, on a send-off that salutes its contributions to The Network and satisfies its loyal viewers."
David Stapf, President of Paramount Network Television, said, "The creators, stars and crew of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE ambitiously and proudly upheld the fine traditions of the STAR TREK franchise. We are grateful for their contributions to the legacy of TREK and commend them on completing nearly 100 exciting, dramatic and visually stunning episodes. All of us at Paramount warmly bid goodbye to ENTERPRISE, and we all look forward to a new chapter of this enduring franchise in the future."
A prequel to the original "Star Trek" series, STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE premiered on UPN on Sept. 26, 2001, and aired for its first three seasons on Wednesdays (8:00-9:00PM, ET/PT). On Oct. 8, 2004, STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE moved into its current time on Fridays (8:00-9:00PM, ET/PT). Through its four-year run, STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE produced a total of 98 episodes and earned four Emmy Awards.
In January, Paramount Domestic Television sold the rebroadcasts of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE into off-network syndication in over 90% of the country, including 49 of the 50 top markets, and is set for debut in Fall 2005.
The series stars Scott Bakula as Capt. Jonathan Archer, John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox, Jolene Blalock as the Vulcan Sub Commander T'Pol, Dominic Keating as Lt. Malcolm Reed, Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis Mayweather, Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato and Connor Trinneer as Chief Engineer Charles "Trip" Tucker III.
Rick Berman and Brannon Braga are the creators and executive producers of the series. STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE is a Paramount Network Television production.