Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Abrams Officially Trekking

I first talked about the rumoured relaunch of Paramount's Star Trek franchise here back in April, and now comes official word from the studio that Lost-honcho JJ Abrams has signed on the dotted line to bring new life to Gene Roddenberry's hallowed franchise after its ill-fated big screen flameout with 2002's Star Trek: Nemesis. Here's Par's press release:

“Star Trek,” one of the most popular and successful franchises in the history of movies and television, returns to the big screen under the creative vision of J.J. Abrams, the force behind “Lost,” “Alias” and “Mission Impossible III” for Paramount Pictures.

The team behind the film will include Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (‘Mission Impossible III”) who wrote the screenplay and will executive produce with Bryan Burk. JJ Abrams and “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof will produce. The film will begin shooting this fall for a Christmas Day 2008 release.

One of the most popular film and television franchises of all time, “Star Trek” has encompassed 726 total episodes for television in six different series, beginning with the original 1966-1969 series created by Gene Roddenberry. The 10 “Star Trek” films have grossed in excess of $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The original characters have been named among the 50 greatest TV characters of all time and the Enterprise has lent its name to two proposed spacecrafts.

"If there's something I'm dying to see, it's the brilliance and optimism of Roddenberry's world brought back to the big screen,” said Abrams. “Alex and Bob wrote an amazing script that embraces and respects Trek canon, but charts its own course. Our goal is to make a picture for everyone -- life-long fans and the uninitiated. Needless to say, I am honored and excited to be part of this next chapter of Star Trek."

Brad Grey, chairman and CEO, Paramount Pictures, said, “We could not be more thrilled to be back in business with J.J. Abrams. The revival of the ‘Star Trek’ franchise is an important part of Paramount’s turnaround.”

Since last June, scuttlebut has focused on Matt Damon playing a young Jim Kirk (even though Damon, at 36, is already older than William Shatner was when he first played the role in 1966). In addition to the Damon rumours, IGN has added Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Oscar nominee Gary Sinise to the mix as candidates for Mr. Spock and Dr. McCoy (played originally by Leonard Nimoy and DeForrest Kelley, respectively).

While the IGN piece assures us that these picks are on the level, it has the suspicious whiff of baloney to me. My gut tells me that they're going to go with unknowns for this, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see how this all pans out.

See, Naomi believes!

We now interrupt this blog for a special word from your friend and mine, Brian Hall:

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Unfortunately this isn't an article talking about how beautiful Naomi Watts is, rather how sad Naomi Campbell is:
"I threw a cell phone in the apartment. The cell phone hit Ana," Campbell said at her court appearance. "This was an accident because I did not intend to hit her."

In exchange for her guilty plea, she was ordered to pay Scolavino's medical expenses of $363, do five days of community service and attend a two-day anger-management program.

"I do therapy every day," Campbell tells "Extra," adding that she's also partaking in the healing powers of crystals: "I think they bring great energy. ... You should see how many I travel with."
I am not one to knock anybody's anything, but any person over the age of 9 who believes that a magic rock can prevent them from being a jerk and throwing phones at people needs to be shipped to the sun.

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And that's how we learn. Thanks, Brian!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Wrap

Maybe it was my lack of interest in the nominees, maybe it was my straight-up dislike of Ellen DeGeneres' comic-stylings, or maybe it was because I'm just getting old, but after fifteen straight years of never missing a show, I skipped last night's Oscar-cast. And, I gotta tell ya, it felt pretty good.

Anyway, some thoughts on the aftermath: I was glad to see Alan Arkin take home an Oscar (for Supporting Actor, beating out Eddie Murphy and Mark Wahlberg), if only because he gave the commencement address at my college graduation, so in a weird "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of way I feel "connected" to him.

As expected, Al Gore got his Oscar moment(s), which you can watch here, and one of the great Oscar injustices of all time was finally righted, with Marty Scorcese taking Best Picture for The Departed, and his Best Director award presented (or anointed) to him by the "Holy Trinity" of Spielberg, Lucas, and Coppolla (watch the clip here). I have a feeling that once folks saw that particular trifecta walk onstage, it was all but assured that the award would go to Scorcese.

I have yet to see The Departed, though it's currently sitting (sealed) by my DVD player, so I can't comment on its value as a film, but it is good to see Scorcese get his statue. Took thirty years, but at least he got one (as opposed to, say, Hitchcock and Altman, both of whom went unrewarded during their lifetimes).

Sadly, the same could not be said for poor Peter O'Toole, who lost out to Forrest Whitaker and also earned the dubious distinction of most Oscar nods without an actual Oscar (not including the Honorary "Pity" Oscar he got back in '03).

Highly Recommended Reading

The New Yorker's Sy Hersh lays out how things are going in our ongoing schema for unending war, including the steady drumbeat towards US v. Iran. According to Hersh, it's an unpleasant prospect that seems frighteningly near. Don't miss this article.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Doggone Good Discs

Ah, is there anything sweeter than nostalgia? How about justified nostalgia? When it comes to classic animation, they just don't make 'em like Tex Avery anymore, and what a crying shame that is for all of us who've ever had to endure the spastic, seizure-inducing fare that passes for children's entertainment these days.

This is one of those DVD releases that's been a Holy Grail of mine for as long as I can remember, and it's great to see that it'll finally hit store shelves come May. Apparently this Droopy release is something of a trial balloon to test the market for more Avery classics coming to the platter format, so do your part and pre-order now!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Face the Face

The word is out. After months of extended speculation that included everyone from Ryan Phillippe to Jamie Foxx, actor Aaron Eckhart has landed the plum role of crusading DA Harvey Dent in the upcoming Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight. As any student of Bat-Arcana is aware, the doomed Dent is one unfortunate acid bath away from becoming the duo-toned villain Two-Face.

While there isn't any indication that the Face appears in Dark Knight, Dent's prominent placement in the cast of characters seems to signify some place-setting for the inevitable third installment. Then again, those of you with long memories may remember the last time a good guy Harvey Dent made an appearance in a Bat-film, he was played by a post-Star Wars Billy Dee Williams in Tim Burton's '89 original. Of course, we never did get to see ol' Lando become a villain. Instead, two movies and one race-change later, we got stuck with this:

For all our sakes, I hope things turn out better this time out.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins, RIP

Sad news.

I'd enjoyed reading her work over the years, and as her last column from three weeks ago shows, she was defiant to the end.