Thursday, August 31, 2006

Karma.

I guess what goes around really does come around:

Trump tells "Apprentice" sidekick "you're fired"

The moral? Never try to trump Trump.

Glenn Ford, RIP

I have to admit, looking back on Glenn Ford's amazingly lengthy catalogue of movie credits, my experience with the late actor, who passed away yesterday at the age of 90, pretty much begins and ends with Superman: The Movie.

Essaying the role of Jonathan Kent, the farmer who finds and raises the infant Kal-El to manhood, Ford effortlessly embodied the earthy, down-home humanity of the man who imbues the future Man of Steel with his moral compass. Just as the movie made us believe a man could fly, so too did Ford make us believe completely when he tells his adopted son, "Now there is one thing I do know, son, and that is that you are here for a reason."

He may only have something like seven minutes of actual screen time, but it says something remarkable about his work in the film that when the character makes a premature exit after having a heart attack (mere moments after reciting the above dialogue), it hits those of us in the audience just as hard as it does young Clark.

Surely a testament to a workmanlike actor who time left by the wayside before he got his full due.

Rumsfeld's Moral Confusion

It's a few days old now, but click here to read about besieged and befuddled Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's speech to the American Legion, wherein he likens critics of the Junta to Nazi sympathizers, going so far as to call them "morally confused." As an aside, I find the notion of Don Rumsfeld deigning to lecture anyone on morality, confused or otherwise, to be the height of comedic gold.

Once you're done there (and you can read the speech in its entirety here -- though let me forewarn that a little goes a long way...), come on back and watch Keith Olbermann on last night's Countdown, as he gives Rummy a much-deserved verbal smackdown.


(If, for whatever reason, you can't watch the video, jump on over to Olbermann's blog to read the complete text of his commentary.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

From THE ONION...

Seeing as how I have a job interview later today, this one seemed particularly apropos. This is the type of thing (no pun intended) that keeps me up nights.

Resume Font Offends Employer

CHARLOTTE, NC—The decision to set his résumé in default-font Times–New Roman "deeply, personally, and irrevocably" offended a prospective employer of Seth Hershey Monday. "I look for quality, pedigree, and competency in the résumés that cross my desk, but I don't care if you founded the Harvard School of Business—if you're going to use a crap typeface like this, you might as well send me a finger painting in your own shit," said HealthBest South Associate Vice-President Dick Scottsfield shortly after hurling the document across his office in disgust. "Did he think we'd accept something like this here? Does he take me for a damn fool? If he had chosen the correct font, why, I could've even overlooked this cheap, 14-lb. cotton stock paper." Scottsfield said he intends to offer the job to the first person who uses a decent 12-point Cheltenham Book with an elegant leading.

Terminal

Are you ready for Terminator: The Series? Well, ready or not...
Warner Bros. TV has hired David Nutter to direct the pilot for The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a potential FOX series based on the character from the Terminator films originally played by Linda Hamilton. The pilot is written by Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds).
That sound you hear? It's the life being squeezed out of this franchise like a balloon (and this is coming from someone who like the third movie quite a bit).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

From THE ONION...

Tide Of War Turns After Rumsfeld's Inspiring Barracks Pep Talk

BAGHDAD—With his highly touted, top-ranked team on the brink of elimination, Secretary Of Defense Donald Rumsfeld delivered an emotional, off-the-cuff barracks pep-talk to his men Monday, inspiring them to mount an offensive surge that just may turn the tide of the contest going into the second half. "Come on, boys, we're getting shelled out there, and I can't believe the shots they're getting through our defense," said Rumsfeld, growing in confidence and passion as the speech went on. "Now, I know they're playing rough, men, and you're hurt, dazed, and demoralized, but there's no way we're gonna let this thing go into overtime, are we! It ain't over yet—not even close! This is our war! Our war! Our war!" The chanting troops immediately charged out of the barracks and regained possession of 80 percent of Iraq.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Cruise News Blues

I went to get my haircut today, and the TV in the corner was tuned to MSNBC. Although the sound was down, I saw a big "Breaking News" banner running across the screen, accompanied by stock video of Tom Cruise at some movie premiere. Immediately I think to myself, "Oh my God, Tom Cruise is dead!" Then, underneath the banner appears the graphic, "Tom Cruise Dumped." Immediately I think to myself, "Oh my God, Katie Holmes just came to her senses!" It wasn't until I got home and logged onto the Internet that I found out the hubbub was in reference to Cruise losing his cushy production deal with Paramount. Apparently MSNBC has a much more elastic definition for "Breaking News" than the rest of us. It was at this point that whatever credibility I may have thought to give MSNBC as a legitimate news organization was scattered to the four winds.

Crying shame about Cruise though.

Mission Emissions

George Bush at yesterday's White House press conference:
Now, if you say, are you going to change your strategic objective, it means you're leaving before the mission is complete, and we're not going to leave before the mission is complete. I -- I agree with General Abizaid: We leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.
But, but, I thought...


(I'm so confused...)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Closing the Gate

The TV landscape is littered with failed attempts to translate big screen successes into small screen smashes. For every M*A*S*H or Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (which, let's face it, wasn't much of a movie hit to begin with), there are a dozen Serpicos and Delta Houses.

Thus it was that one decade ago, when I heard that MGM was in the planning stages of 'porting the modest 1994 hit StarGate, starring Kurt Russell and James Spader as explorers who venture through an ancient gateway to a planet millions of lightyears away, into a television serial, I turned my nose up in the air and thought to myself, "How can they possibly match the supreme cinematic experience of StarGate?" I was fifteen, whaddya want.

Anyway, a funny thing happened when Stargate SG-1 premiered. Turns out, the show was actually pretty good. Then, as it progressed, it went from pretty good to darn good. Now, ten seasons and 200-plus episodes later, not only has SG-1 long since matched its cinematic forebear, but, having recently rewatched the movie (directed by Roland Emmerich, two years before he inflicted Independence Day upon an unsuspecting world), it's safe to say that the big screen 'Gate has been reduced to little more than a curio with a nice music score.

During the course of its run, SG-1, which starred Richard Dean Anderson (in the Russell role) for its first eight years and Farscape's Ben Browder for the subsequent two, spanned two networks (Showtime and Sci-Fi), and, as any cult show must, spawned its own successful spin-off (the currently-airing Stargate Atlantis). In the process, it also secured for itself the record for the longest-running sci-fi TV series of all time, wresting the crown from The X-Files.

Well, as all such things must, the journey has finally reached an end for the valiant crew of SG-1, with Sci-Fi Channel's announcement today that the series' tenth year, now in progress, will also mark its last. I have to say, this came as a bit of a shock, as Sci-Fi had always considered SG-1 one of its bedrock, signature shows since they picked it up after its fifth season, and while the spin-off will still be continuing on its merry way, it'll be odd not having it paired with the "Mothership."

Still, MGM considers Stargate a commodity on par with their "James Bond" franchise (which may be overstating things a tad, but then again this is MGM...), so I'm sure they'll do everything they can to find it another home before throwing in the towel (quoth producer Robert Cooper: "What we want to emphasize is that the franchise is not dying. SG-1 will go on in some way. We're just not ready to announce how.").

Although rumours have floated for many a year that a new movie based on the TV series was in the works (which would mark the first time, I believe, that a feature was adapted to a series, then adapted back into a feature), nothing has materialized yet. On top of that, producer Dean Devlin, who teamed with Emmerich to make the '94 feature, has his own plans to produce a sequel that would follow-up on the original film while ignoring the subsequent series. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but whatever...

Regardless of when or if we eventually revisit the SG-1 team, and in what medium, the series' record-breaking run and immutable place in the sci-fi firmament has made its passing something worth pausing for. No word yet on whether or not original star Anderson will return for the last hurrah, but here's hoping the show goes out with a suitable bang (i.e. the finale of Angel) and not a regrettable whimper (i.e. the finale of Star Trek: Enterprise).

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Recommended Reading

As the race to the midterms begins to heat up, the marching orders from elephantine strategist Karl Rove are for the Republicans to proudly flaunt their supposed credentials in the supposed "War on Terror" (read: play the Fear Card) as a means of maintaining their hegemonic hold on the seat of power. Frank Rich explains to us why this may not be the brightest of ideas to issue from Turd Blossom's shadowed lair.

Many Happy RETURNS?

When Bryan Singer left the X-Men series to head-up Warner Bros.' revival of the Superman franchise, many tongues in tinseltown were left wagging as to who would end up ahead in the superhero rivalry that would inevitably ensue, with Fox's X-Men: The Last Stand in one corner and WB's Superman Returns in the other.

Now, with the summer movie season winding rapidly to down to its conclusions, and both movies having run their first-run course, how did things actually pan out in the end for the comic-based juggernauts? Depends on which standard you measure things by, as this in-depth analysis by Anne Thompson explains to us in excrutiating detail, but it seems to me that things are looking (slightly) rosier for Big Blue. The most relevant bits:
Singer was the creative force behind the X-Men franchise, and now he's gone. [Brett] Ratner is not in the picture; the sense in Hollywood is that Fox scored with Last Stand despite the director, not because of him.
>snip<
The bloom is definitely off the X-Men rose. One could argue that in the long term, the studio would have been better off paying Singer to keep him or waiting to get him back.
And...
"Superman Returns will be profitable for us," says Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov. "We would have liked it to have made more money, but it reintroduced the character in a great way and was a good launching pad for the next picture. We believe in Bryan and the franchise. Clearly, this was the most emotional and realistic superhero movie ever made."
While I don't necessarily agree with all of Robinov's quote, and there's heaping amounts of studio spin in there, the big question remains: Whither the Super-sequel? For an answer to that, we turn to this article from the LA Times on what were perceived to be Warner's less-than-stellar summer returns:
[Alan] Horn expects Superman Returns to eventually gross about $400 million worldwide, more than last year's hit Batman Begins. Nonetheless, Superman fell at least $100 million short of his expectations.

"I thought it was a very successful movie, but I think it should have done $500 million worldwide," Horn said. "We should have had perhaps a little more action to satisfy the young male crowd."

Still, he's betting Warner has firmly reestablished the Superman franchise and is planning another installment for summer 2009.
Of course, as with anything in Hollywood, one should believe it only when they're sitting in the theater watching it. And even then, it's probably a good idea to wait 'till after the credits have rolled...

Tapped Out

In light of this week's circuit court decision proclaiming Bush's program of domestic wire-tapping as unconstitutional, followed predictably by the Figurehead's response that, "Those who herald this decision simply do not understand the nature of the world in which we live," the following quote seemed eerily apropos:
"With sheepish submissiveness the German people accepted that, as a result of the [Reichstag] fire, each one of them lost what little personal freedom and dignity was guaranteed by the constitution; as though it followed as a necessary consequence...more than one [of my colleagues] hinted that they had doubts about the official version; but none of them saw anything out of the ordinary in the fact that, from now on, one's telephone would be tapped, one's letters opened, and one's desk might be broken into." (Sebastian Haffner, Defying Hitler: A Memoir, pp. 121-122)

Monday, August 14, 2006

HIGHLY Recommended Reading

Seymour Hersh, the Elliot Ness of investigative journalism, examines the lead-up to the Isreali/US attack on Lebanon.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Lieberman Report

Jon Stewart shows how, in the wake of his primary loss this past Tuesday, former Democrat Joe Lieberman is proving denial ain't just a river in Egypt:



Meanwhile, here's Lawrence O'Donnell on why Holy Joe won't be able to go the distance in his Independent senate bid.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Democrat No More

...Joe Lieberman, that is (of course, I'm sure some would argue that he hasn't been a Democrat in quite awhile...).

Anyway, in what turned out to be quite the election day nail-biter, Lieberman has been handed his walking papers as a Democratic senator by Ned Lamont, who has just nailed the party's nomination. Here's Jesse Jackson, and here's (of all people) Joe Scarborough with two opinions on why this is a good thing.

However, lest we think ol' Joe has been sent packing indefinitely, he's vowed, in true sore loser fashion, to return to the race wearing a freshly-pressed "Independent" jacket. Here's David Sirota on why this is a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Recommended Reading

Anders Strindberg, for The Christian Science Monitor, reiterates a point that's repeatedly glossed over by pundits and politicos alike in their strident huffing-and-puffing about Israel's "right to defend itself," and that is this:

Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored "blue line" on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah's military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah's leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.

In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon's Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?

Brokebat

Looks like Cesar Romero and Jack Nicholson have some company in the pantheon of those who've played Batman's arch-nemesis, The Joker. This news has been in the pipeline for a few weeks now, but Warner Bros. has just made it official: Heath Ledger, recently Oscar-nommed for his tortured turn as Ennis Del Mar in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain, has signed on the dotted-line to play the Clown Prince of Crime in Chris Nolan's much-anticipated (by me, and presumably many others) Batman Begins sequel, currently titled The Dark Knight.

What you see above is obviously not the real deal, but rather a Photoshop mockup that some enterprising soul online made, but it does give a possible indication of what Ledger will look like once he's duded-up with the Joker's distinctive pallor (assuming that's the route they take). An odd choice, to be sure, but not one I'm altogether opposed to. Fansite Batman-on-Film offers some more insight into the plans for the character as well as the new film:

As rumored and expected, The Joker is going to be nothing like Nicholson’s version from B89. “What would be the point in trying to recreate something that was done so well then?”

Expect to see a back story for The Joker and we shouldn’t expect to see him until the middle of the film. “Like Batman in BEGINS.”

The Joker will not be the only villain in the film. “I know you’ve heard this before but trust me -- Nolan and his brother have a couple of surprises up their sleeves!”

“Heath Ledger is perfect for the role as he has never played this kind of part before which is what Nolan was after. Think about it -- if you see Sam Rockwell or Robin Williams or even Hugo Weaving, you’d know exactly how they would play the role before even seeing the film and that’s not very intriguing for fans is it? I have a feeling Paul Bettany was out of the mix after his performance in The Da Vinci Code.”

“From what I’ve heard about the direction of the film expect The Joker to be very creepy and very extreme.”

Supposedly the character of Oswald Cobblepot (a.k.a. The Penguin) also features in the script, as does Harvey Dent (a.k.a. Two-Face). Should be interesting to see what direction they go in for those roles.