Monday, July 31, 2006

Kidman to Golden Compass

The trades are reporting that Nicole Kidman is thisclose to inking a deal to play Mrs Coulter in New Line's long aborning, $150M adaption of my favorite fantasy novel, The Golden Compass.

Chris Weitz is set to direct his own script when "The Golden Compass" begins production this September in the United Kingdom.

After a lengthy series of open casting calls throughout England, newcomer Dakota Blue Richards was selected to play Lyra Belacqua, a young orphan living in and around Oxford University in a reality that mostly resembles our own, but also includes some unusual twists like friendly daemons, armor-clad polar bears and a mysterious Dust which may hold truths about physics, humanity and some kind of divine power.

New Line has already staked out a Nov. 16, 2007 release date for "The Golden Compass," which is expected to have a budget in the $150 million range, making it the largest undertaking for the company since the "Lord of the Rings" films.

What's that? Oh, that's just the sound of me wetting my pants.

So what's the downside? Looks like Pullman's exquisite satire of the Catholic Church has been cut... and how they could do that without gutting the story, I don't know. But it looks like we're all gonna find out.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Military Intelligence (and other oxymorons)

A decorated sergeant and Arabic language specialist [who enlisted in a patriotic fervor in the days after 9/11] was dismissed from the U.S. Army under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy
Right, well done, US Army. After all, it's not like there's a pressing need for "Arabic language specialists" at the moment. Oh, wait...

Think it's a one-off? Shearight.
[T]he GAO also noted that nearly 800 dismissed gay or lesbian service members had critical abilities, including 300 with important language skills. Fifty-five were proficient in Arabic, including Copas, a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in California.

... Shortly after Copas was appointed to the 82nd Airborne's highly visible All-American Chorus last May, the first [anonymous] e-mail came to the chorus director.

"The director brought everyone into the hallway and told us about this e-mail they had just received and blatantly asked, 'Which one of you are gay?'" Copas said. Copas later complained to the director and his platoon sergeant, saying the questions violated "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"They said they would watch it in the future," Copas said. "And [then] they said ... 'Well, you are not gay are you?'
He seems to have misinterpreted: what they actually said was they would watch him in the future. And they totally did:
On Dec. 2, investigators formally interviewed Copas and asked if he understood the military's policy on homosexuals
Look who's talking. What part of "Don't Ask" do these gomers not understand?

And it gets better:
if he had any close acquaintances who were gay, and if he was involved in community theater.
Aha! A clue! And they just knew they were on to something when Copas was forced to admit he'd attended a Beyonce concert in 2002.

And here's the part even the most vehement homophobes should feel queasy about:
Discharging and replacing them has cost the Pentagon nearly $369 million, according to the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Have none of these brain trusts ever seen Catch 22?

Hat Tip (for comprehensive coverage of this issue, and an all-around smart, awesome blog): Towleroad. This is the part where you go there.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A More Perfect Union

So... I agree with everyone who says that, in a more perfect union, the government would simply stop calling it "marriage" and start calling it "civil unions," thereby allowing anyone to "buy in."

It makes sense. Divorce it (so to speak) from the issue of gender or religion for a minute. Two people are stronger than one, more productive, more profitable, and that's better not just for them, but for all of us. It's better for the general welfare.

But--as may be apparent from the news--we don't live in a "more perfect union." And it’s not union singular. We're not dealing with just one government here. Matrimonial law is state law. Marriage licenses (which, as a practical matter, no longer have any reason for being) are issued by counties, municipalities--local governments.

So when we talk about reforming marriage laws, we're talking about getting hundreds of governments and their competing laws to agree.

Plus, "45 states have laws banning gay marriage or limiting marriage to between a man and a woman."

So the only way this is ever gonna happen is with a SCOTUS ruling--which seems less and less likely despite the fact that the landmark Lawrence v Texas was handed down just last year. That ruling declared unconstitutional the practice of having one set of sodomy laws on the books for gays (criminalizing it) and another for straights (declaring it hunky-dory).

Think about it--one set of laws for gays, another for heteros--'cause that’s what’s wrong with civil unions: it's the colored water fountain solution.

Though... (and I hate myself for what I’m about to say)... as an interim step... if that's what gets us equal protection under the law... if that’s what gets us next of kin status so bigoted relatives can’t keep our loved ones from our sick beds, et al... Isn't that more important than what they call the law?

After all, no law is gonna foce me to call my wedding by anything other than its proper name. I don't get homos who have "committment ceremonies." Just call it what it is. (And I especially don't get the idea that doing so is somehow less offensive to bigots--as if bigots need a reason to be offended.)

So--for now--can’t we all just agree to fuck semantics, so long as the force & effect is the same?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Lance Bass is Gay

In related news, the Pope is Catholic, Michael Jackson's a child molester, the earth revolves around the sun...

People Magazine

Washington State to Gays: We Agree With New York

Drop Dead.

I remain convinced that proponents are arguing this in the wrong terms. The issue is not whether the state should "allow" gay marriages. The state has nothing to do with whether my church decides to marry people like me or not.

Tens of thousands of gays have already gotten married in this country. They stand before their clergyperson and their community, take vows identical to those taken by their hetero counterparts, and are pronounced wed. QED.

All the government has to do is decide if they want to recognize those already extant marriages--and the Fourteenth Amendment has some pretty specific things to say about that.

Apparently, some of the highest ranking judicial figures in this country could give a shit less about that.

Related Story.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

opus, 7/24/06

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Singer Talks Superman Returns Sequel

Bryan Singer told the audience at Comic Con in San Diego this weekend that, while the deal is not yet in place, he does intend to make a second Superman film (for release in 2009). He said it would give him the chance to "go all Wrath of Khan." (It's clear that he saw X-Men 2--which is, IMO, the best superhero film ever made--as a similar opportunity.)

In an interview with, Singer indicates that the film will harvest many seeds planted in Superman Returns (duh). He expects it will feature more action (yeah, OK) and that it will be shorter (*whew*).

Superman II: The Donner Cut

In related news, the old Superman II has gotten a long-awaited face-lift. Hat tip: Chas
Burbank, CA (July 21, 2006) -- On November 28, in celebration of the year of Superman, Warner Home Video will release a host of DVDs, all starring the late Christopher Reeve in his landmark portrayal of the Man of Steel. Leading the way will be the long-awaited Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut ($24.98 SRP), directed by Donner and representing Superman II as it was originally conceived and intended to be filmed. An overwhelmingly requested title, the movie features Donner's original footage, shot but never used before, including a never-before-seen beginning, a never-before-seen resolution, with 15 minutes of restored footage of Marlon Brando as Jor-El and much more.

(wetting pants)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Lost, Galactica tidbits

Ausiello has an interesting interview with Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse.

Any firm plans for J.J. Abrams to write/direct any episodes?

Cuse: J.J. is going to cowrite the premiere with Damon, and our hope is he will direct Episode 7, which will be the first episode [in January].

Abrams says in an interview in this week's TV Guide that he may write (more likely, co-write) several scripts this year. He hasn't had a writing credit on the show since the pilot, and had no involvement at all last year, as he was making Mission Impossible: III and two pilots--Six Degrees and What About Brian--both of which debut on ABC this fall.

But it looks like his third season work may well be Abrams' last meaningful contributions to Lost, as Bad Robot, Abrams' prodco, has "ankled" its relationship with Touchstone (which, like ABC, is owned by Disney) for a rich new deal at Warner Brothers TV.

So, while his company will continue to produce all three ABC shows, Abrams has acknowledged that the Warner Brothers deal will make it difficult to continue contributing creatively.

Which is kind of a bummer... like much of the last season of Lost.

And, on a related topic, it looks like Ron Moore has written the forthcoming, 2-hour season premiere of Battlestar Galactica. Moore had virtually no writing credits on the show last season, which might account for its precipitous decline in quality. Though he was still the nominal showrunner, Moore was simultaneously developing 3 pilots for NBC/U (one of which is a Galactica spinoff/prequel called Caprica.)

Hopefully, season 3 will mark an upsurge in quality for Lost & Galactica, as I remain deeply invested in both.

Lost returns in October for a six episode "pod." (The other 15 begin an uninterrupted run in January.) Galactica also returns in October. (Check out an outstanding trailer for Galactica S3 here.)

Joker Cast?

LatinoReview says Warner Brothers has made an offer to Heath Ledger.

Um... Yeah, OK. I admit, my first reaction was, "Ew." But, on second thought, this could be very cool.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"The Best Message We Can Give To The Middle East"

Some choice quotes from the House floor yesterday as they debated whether to codify antigay discrimination into the constitution:
"It's part of God's plan for the future of mankind," explained Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.).

Rep. Bob Beauprez (R- Colo.) also found "the very hand of God" at work. "We best not be messing with His plan."

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) agreed that "it wasn't our idea, it was God's."

"I think God has spoken very clearly on this issue," said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a mustachioed gynecologist who served as one of the floor leaders yesterday. When somebody quarreled with this notion, Gingrey replied: "I refer the gentleman to the Holy Scriptures." ...

I refer the "gentleman" to those parts of the "Holy" Scriptures which forbid the consumption of pork and endorse the institutions of slavery and polygamy, and inquire what he plans to do to iron out those inconsistencies with US law?

I'd also remind the "gentleman" that his religious beliefs are not necessarily mine, and the law must govern us all, regardless of faith (or lack thereof). So, "because the Bible says so" is not a good enough reason to do ANYTHING. (I think they do things your way in Iran, though.)

But this is my favorite part:
Gingrey, the floor leader/gynecologist, posited that the debate was "about values and how this great country represents them to the world." After the vote, he elaborated: "This is probably the best message we can give to the Middle East in regards to the trouble we are having over there right now."

Ah, yes, we may be in the midst of a great Clash of Civilizations, but at least there's one thing we can all agree on: God Hates Fags. Fred Phelps will be so pleased Congress sees it his way.

Really Quite Scary

I'm feelin the love from The Guardian's Jason Deans, who says:

Some people out there are really quite scary in their frenzied anticipation of [Studio 60], like Scott_EVill and tattooed geek.

I guess that's the story now: look, this show that doesn't debut for another two months (but which does come out on DVD in about 2 weeks) already has a rabid fanbase. Scandalous!

Anyway, thanks for the free publicity, dude. Well done. You may now return to contemplating the social relevance of Big Brother.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Note To Self: Don't Pass Out on Eagle Roofdeck

Barfly left high & dry hours after last call


A man apparently too drunk to hear the bartender announce last call passed out at a fenced-in rooftop Chelsea bar early yesterday - only to wake up hours later to find he was trapped.

"Help!" he cried from atop The Eagle Bar, a leather bar at 554 W. 28th St. "Help! I'm stuck!"

A parking attendant heard Louis Rosano, 39, of the Bronx, yelling for help but didn't immediately react.

"I went to lunch and came back," said Rigo Rodrigo, 29, the attendant. "He was still up there."

Wait. You wanna run that one by me one more time?

A parking attendant heard Louis Rosano, 39, of the Bronx, yelling for help but didn't immediately react.

"I went to lunch and came back," said Rigo Rodrigo, 29, the attendant. "He was still up there."


Hat Tip: Joe.My.God.

'Studio 60': Golden Child and Whipping Boy

From the LA Times. Hat Tip: Sarah

Reaction is already crackling on the Web as bits of NBC's coming 'Studio 60' series get leaked. It's enough to fray even Aaron Sorkin's

By Maria Elena Fernandez, Times Staff Writer
July 19, 2006

IN Hollywood, there used to be a period of time called the "bubble," which described the quiet months between the making of a television pilot and the launching of it as a new series.

That bubble has burst. And no one is feeling the ramifications more than Aaron Sorkin and his new series, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip."

Set designers are still at work building a massive theater inside a sound stage for his drama about a troubled sketch comedy series set in an old vaudeville house. Production on the show begins today. And yet, two months before NBC premieres it, vocal segments of its not-yet-existent audience are divided: Chatter on the Web has declared alternately that "Studio 60" is the fourth-place network's savior and that Sorkin's return to TV is dead on arrival. To Internet bloggers, it is both "the biggest hit of next season" and "an underwhelming disappointment."

For Sorkin, 45, who has been away from television since he left "The West Wing" in 2002, the experience has served as an education in the new, bumpy world of promoting a show.

"It's unusual for backlash to begin before the show starts," said Sorkin, sitting in his office with his longtime producing and directing partner, Thomas Schlamme. "But I'm hoping now that the timing will work out that there will be a backlash against the backlash by the time we open."

"Studio 60" is not alone in such scrutiny. TV is being filtered,analyzed and debated on the Internet like never before, resulting in savvier viewers who feel fully invested in even the smallest of programming decisions. Already there are dedicated fan sites for another upcoming NBC drama, "Heroes," created by viewers who are
hailing it as "the next 'Lost.' " In an attempt to keep up, networks and studios are developing new levels of fan interaction using a variety of digital platforms.

"The Internet has created something that didn't exist five or 10 years ago, a direct dialogue with the creators or actors of a show," said "Lost" co-creator Damon Lindelof. "For fans, they feel they have this access and they are empowered. When we do our podcasts, and we explain what we're doing, they disagree with us and they tell us, 'Well, it's my show too.' "

It would seem to be a network's dream to have people identify so closely with a show, to hear them debating the finer points of a pilot episode around the water cooler. But in the case of "Studio 60," the premature analysis is making an already struggling network's job even harder.

Someone leaked early drafts of the script for the show's pilot to the Web before a single scene had been shot. Casting announcements were disseminated on the Web faster than you can say "Get me Matthew Perry." Things spun further out of the network's control when NBC decided to parade the cast to advertisers at a development session in March, then showed a six-minute trailer to advertisers and reporters at the television preview conferences in May. Those clips hit the blogosphere in nanoseconds, as did a rough cut of the pilot. Reviews popped up immediately.

Even in the age of the Internet, the focus on "Studio 60" seems unusually sharp, undoubtedly because of the involvement of Sorkin, its award-winning creator. "Studio 60" would be just one of dozens of television series launching in the fall if it weren't for the writer whose past is as colorful as the words he puts on paper. A playwright and screenwriter ("A Few Good Men" and "The American President"), Sorkin, a recovering cocaine addict, has stayed away from television since he left "The West Wing" under a cloud of NBC complaints that he was delaying production by routinely turning in scripts late. So intense interest from the media, especially from television critics,was to be expected.

Still, he could not have envisioned that the script he wrote almost entirely in a London hotel while he was there for a revival of "A Few Good Men" last summer would generate this kind of fury from so many pajama-clad bloggers months before viewers get to even see his new show, which stars Perry, Bradley Whitford, Amanda Peet and Steven Weber.

"I try not to look at it," Sorkin said, and then half-joked: "It scares me."

But, like it or not, this modern court of public opinion isn't going anywhere. As NBC President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly warns, "We've only just begun on that front."

The early feedback was a virtual love fest. One 35-year-old blogger at declared he was "fully prepared for an embolism to hit" after reading a draft of the script. "It's like 'Entourage' meets 'Larry Sanders' meets 'The West Wing' all wrapped up in 'Sports Night.' Good God, this is going to be amazing," he wrote.

Then came the clip presentation for advertisers and a self-deprecating skit that Sorkin wrote for the actors designed to mock their own heady buzz, and the rumbling began.

The characters seemed as smart and as fast-talking as Sorkin usually draws his players, and Schlamme's 360-degree camerawork, with its famous "walking-and-talking" sequences, were on hand too. But advertisers and reporters didn't know what to make of the trailers: The clips were clunky, not catchy. There was Perry falling out of a
chair, a stuffy-seeming rage against reality television and insider-y executive power talks. Was it a comedy or a drama?

Bloggers jumped into the fray: "Every second of 'Studio 60' sounds like Sorkin and looks like Schlamme and thus it's all familiar and reassuring and intelligent and nowhere near as smart-seeming as it was back when 'The West Wing' premiered," wrote Dan Fienberg of Los Angeles on his blog,

Reilly spent a lot of time at the NBC party after the trailer presentation — and in the weeks following — pleading with ad buyers and the media to wait until they saw the entire pilot. But, he said,"I'd rather see some dialogue, even if it's not all positive, rather than no dialogue."

For his part, Sorkin is learning what a few in the industry already know about Internet fans: They may bark loudly, but there's not that many of them. Yet.

Craig Beilinson, a father of two, is the Sorkin fan who predicted he would be struck with an embolism. "The Internet is causing public opinion to spread faster than ever, but it's not clear that it's having an impact on the viewing habits of the general population yet," he said. "Look at what happened to 'Arrested Development.' No amount of rabid blogging about how it was the greatest comedy on TV could get
more people to watch it."

Reilly appreciates the closer relationship with the audience that the Internet affords, figuring it can only help programmers and marketers target more efficiently. But in the case of "Studio 60," viewers may have gotten a bit too close for comfort, he said.

"One of the dangers of the Internet is any sort of work getting out prematurely or any sort of early judgment before anything is ready to be hatched," Reilly said. "When you have perfectionists like Aaron and Tommy, they want you to see their finished product."

Sorkin seems to be a quick study: "We can't let this affect us because if it does it will only affect it badly. So you have to believe in what you start out doing, believe in what you've got and keep going forward."

The characters of Matthew Albie (Perry) and Danny Tripp (Whitford) are best friends and partners, much like Sorkin and Schlamme, who, in addition to "The West Wing," previously collaborated on "Sports Night." Matthew is the offbeat genius writer and Danny is the brilliant director-producer, but it's Danny's — not Matthew's — misstep that finds them running a 20-year-old sketch show that is lagging in the ratings.

"The idea of what happens in the pilot is based on the idea of what would happen if once, just once, it was Tommy who screwed up instead of me. Where would that land us?" said Sorkin, who is divorced and shares custody of his 5-year-old daughter, and who no longer talks publicly about his addiction recovery.

In truth, Reilly wasn't dying to launch a series about show business when others set in the industry were failing or succeeding only marginally, but the Sorkin-Schlamme pedigree tempted him. When he read the script, Reilly said, he thought "Studio 60" would be a talent magnet that could help him revive NBC, which with its falling profits continues to be a drag on parent company General Electric. And so, the bidding began. NBC and CBS were neck and neck, both offering big bucks and promising huge promotional launches.

The producers chose NBC because "it felt a little like home, and we felt it's still the place you'd expect to find a show like this," Sorkin said. The show's budget is big: NBC is reportedly spending between $2 million and $3 million on each episode.

And it did lure in the talent, spurring Perry to return to TV, Whitford to stay in it and Peet to give it a another try. In interviews, most of the cast said they have deliberately avoided reading early reviews of the show because, as Whitford put it, "show business is like dating a schizophrenic: I love you, I ignore you, you're fantastic, you're terrible. I don't need that. I just want to wear makeup and be funny."

But Weber, who plays the chairman of the show's fictional network, NBS, said he has absorbed almost every syllable.

"It's the equivalent of a baby being born and … everyone is shouting at it, 'Come on, grow already!' " Weber said. "The element of time is the most important thing: time to gather an audience or time to repel an audience, time for people to draw conclusions."

While the pilot clearly takes aim at television's current lowbrow factor, Sorkin promises he is not raging against the medium that pays his bills. The characters of Matt, Danny and Jordan are all driven by the legacy they have inherited, the "medium of Sid Caesar and Jackie Gleason, Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and it's ours now, and it matters what we do with it," Sorkin said.

The same could be said for Sorkin and Schlamme, who as they begin toiling on their third series together, are surely mindful of the fact that none of those luminaries had to contend with the Internet.

Ramzi Blah Blah

Jesus. Check out this blog by a kid in Beirut. (Hat tip: Joe.My.God.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Opus, 7/16/06

Monday, July 17, 2006

EVill TV: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip--Pilot

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is the most buzzed-about new show of the upcoming Fall Season, an hourlong, ensemble drama about the struggle between art and commerce (in particular, the sorry state of network television) set behind-the-scenes at a thinly-veiled version of Saturday Night Live. It will air Mondays at 10 on NBC, which won an intense bidding war for the right to be pilloried on a weekly basis.

I've been gushing about Studio 60 here and, for almost a year, in a tracking thread on the Ex Isle message board. I've now seen it a couple (or 5) times, so the haze of Sorkin geekdom has lifted (yeah--OK), and I think I can evaluate the pilot based on its actual merits, or lack thereof.

I'm sorry to report that it's not a homerun. Major, major bummer. Certainly, the bar was set very high. Sorkin & Schlamme's last pilot--for (my beloved) West Wing--is, in my view, one of the two or three best pilots ever made. So I was expecting a homerun.

Studio 60 is more like a stand up triple. With Jose Reyes on deck. (Did I just draw a sports metaphor? And correctly, even? I am so butch.)
"How many of you have been watching Studio 60 since high school?"

The teaser takes place in the moments before a live, national broadcast. Legendary executive producer Wes Mendel (Judd Hirsch)--read: Lorne Michaels--is arguing with the network executive in charge of Standards & Practices, Jerry Jones (Michael Stuhlbarg), over a sketch.

Jones prevails upon Mendel to cut the sketch "to avoid offending millions of Christians," whereupon Mendel has an on-air meltdown reminiscent of Paddy Chayefsky's Network.

This isn't gonna be a very good show tonight, and I think you should all change the channel... This show used to be cutting edge political and social satire, but it's been lobotmized by a candy-assed broadcast network hellbent on doing nothing that might challenge their audience. ...

We're all being lobotomized by the country's most influential industry, which has thrown in the towel on any endeavor that doesn't include the courting of 12 year old boys. And not even the smart 12 year old boys. ...
That remote in your hand is a crack pipe.

Brilliant. A stunning indictment of our out of control mass media, and (I'm sure) a great example of the sort of commentary we can expect from the show on a regular basis. Nice hook.

Michael Stuhlbarg, as Jerry, the Standards & Practices guy, was outstanding. He makes it look easy. Ditto Steven Weber, who plays the CEO of the fictional network's parent company. Loved his hint of a New York accent, too. A lot of backstory in those elongated dipthongs.

And Judd Hirsch was fantastic. He had quite a memorable rant, and he sank his teeth into it.

Mendel, of course, is instantly fired.

Newly minted Network President Jordan McDeere (who is based on Jamie Tarses, the youngest woman ever to run a network) decides the real problem is that Mendel is right.

Was he talking about our shows?

JORDAN (trying not to laugh)
We're not sure which sister-pimping show he was talking about?

"What's required here," she argues, "is a tacit admission of guilt and a silent act of contrition." She wants to bring back a pair of critically acclaimed producers who had been fired from the show within a show 4 years earlier for pushing the envelope a bit too far. She plans to lure them back with both carrot & stick, but mostly with the promise that they'll be able to run the show as they see fit. (Any resemblance to Sorkin & Schlamme's relationship with NBC is... totally deliberate.)

Here's a taste:

When I scerw up, you know about it.

When you screw up, I read about it.

No, I tell you, you're the first one I tell. Now we're
back in the NFL and only one of us can screw up at
a tme and I think we both know that most of the
time, it's gonna be me. You're the big shoulders.

Whitford effortlessly distinguishes Danny Tripp from Josh Lyman. Apparently, NBC didn't want to sign-off on the "double booking." They wanted someone new, and while I suppose I can see why they'd resist--so many people identify Whitford so closely with Josh, it may be hard for people to differentiate. Especially since S60 will have the same auctorial voice as WW. But I'm glad they relented.

(Whitford wrote as well as acted in a couple of the best episodes of WW's post-Sorkin era. I hope he'll have the opportunity to actually collaborate on a script or two with Sorkin this time around.)

Matt Perry... is a little stiff. I think he's still settling in, still finding the character. (And he's not the only talented actor in the cast who is.) I want to like him, and I'm pretty sure I will like him. He was very good in his two WW guest shots, which were, no doubt, seen by Sorkin & Schlamme as an audition for this already gestating project. (He spent the subplot of one episode--"Evidence of Things Not Seen"--doing an extended one-on-one with Brad Whitford... In fact, it was a job interview.)

We'll see.

I had a similar reaction to the Sarah Paulson, the phenomenal actress who plays Harriet Hayes, one of the Big Three stars of the show within a show. She's still fine-tuning her portrait of this compelling character, a Southern Baptist celebrity.

Throughout the pilot, people are asking Harry if she was offended by the cut sketch. Her response?
I was offended I wasn't in the sketch.

The sketch title: "Crazy Christians." And, it turns out, Matt wrote it. It's the sketch that got them fired in the first place.

McDeere tells Albie & Tripp, "open with it next week."

You gotta ask yourself... What if she's for real?

Sounds pretty fuckin good, right?

So, what's my problem? Two words: Amanda Peet.

She does not seem at all confortable here. The role, as written, exudes smart, sexy charm--think: Allison Janney's CJ Cregg. But Peet plays it pretty bland, occasionally like a deer with its eyes caught in the headlights.

It must be said: she's no Allison Janney. (Hell, she's not even Moira Kelly, who played WW's original--abortive--female lead.) And it was weird having Felicity Huffman in the episode (as that week's celebrity guest host), since Huffman was the female lead on Sports Night. By those yardsticks, Peet just doesn't measure up.

Put it this way: when Jordan says she's pleasantly surprised to learn that the news networks have even heard of Paddy Chayefsky, I'm not convinced that she knows who he is, either.

That's my one big beef. The rest is nitpicking (e.g., they should lose the super-titles introducing the characters--"Jordan," "The Big 3," etc.)

OK, here's the caveat: I'm not coming to this cold. I'm coming to it knowing the script so well I'm practically "off-book." So I cringed at each bit that didn't come together exactly as I had envisioned it.

It's also true that the pilot gives very little indication of what the show will be from week to week. I'm sure a lot of structure, a la Sports Night, will be incorporated into the format. Presumably, each episode will center around the creation of that week's installment of the show-within-the-show, so this was one of those "secret origin" pilots. This is what happens when the show goes off the rails--when the shark stops swimming.

But--to reiterate--Studio 60 is not that far off the mark. Maybe Peet will improve--and, if she doesn't, maybe they'll fix that situation. (Jamie Tarses' tenure at NBC was just 11 months.)

In any case, I'm still very much looking forward to this show.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Caveat Lector

It's been brought to my attention that some people expect to be able to read a review without learning anything substantial about the thing being reviewed. Sorry, but that's just retarded.

Any review you see here (or, really, anywhere) will be FILLED with spoilers, and, under normal circumstances, there will be no special warning. It should just be understood. Nature of the beast.

I can imagine circumstances where I would leave spoiler space--Before revealing Luke Skywalker's paternity, that kind of thing.

But, in general, a good rule of thumb is: caveat lector, motherfuckers. (Tennyson?)

Let the reader beware.

The only guarantee I can give about content is that it will always be work-safe--There will be no links to my favorite porn site...s. (Hey, I hear it's what the internet is for.)

Have a nice day!

EVill TV: Doctor Who: Series 2--Sophomore Slump

Well, it took all season, but I've finally gotten used to this goofy bastard, and stopped grieving the loss of Christopher Eccleston. (I'm sure the... pain... will always be with me. Somehow, I'll just have to learn to go on, one foot in front of the other, never be hungry again, & so forth. *sigh*.)

It helps that Tennant is ridiculously talented. (I didn't know until recently that he originated "Katurian Katurian" in the original production of The Pillowman, the part played by Billy Crudup on Broadway).

Still, for whatever gut reason, I will probably always be more willing to buy Doctor Who when it's Eccleston doing the selling. Which is to say: looks like I'll be having a tough time buying what Doctor Who is selling from now on.

With Tennant, I am much more acutely aware of how... fucking... silly it all is, and how little the storytellers actually do to induce us to suspend disbelief.

Which is definitely one of my pet peeves about "the genre" as a whole. Extraordinary plots require extraordinary exposition. (With apologies to the late Carl Sagan.)

X-Files, in its early seasons, understood this. In fact, going the extra mile to get us to buy the most outlandish premises was XF's mission statement in those days. It was the announced mission statement for Lost, as well. They just haven't followed through.

With XF, you could sit there, incredulous, going, "but what about...? but what about...?" and the answers would come at you, almost as soon as you'd formed the questions. By Act 4, you were like, "Sure, there could be a half man-half flukeworm attacking people in their showers. It could happen!"

Those writers (chief among them Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Howard Gordon) covered all the bases. They grounded the show not just in a very "real" world, but in a very realistic format, the police procedural. In the best episodes, there was only ever one tiny little speck of science fiction, but the shadow it cast was massive.

This, to put it mildly, is not how they do it on Who, where it all just comes at you as a fait accomplis, take it or leave it. (Interestingly, we're told to expect a more skeptical POV on Torchwood, the forthcoming spinoff which is said to be targeted to an "older"--aka, "grown up"--audience. Yah--Chance would be a fine thing. Still, I see no reason why Who shouldn't work equally for both kids and adults, but oh, well.)

Anyway, here's a brief rundown of Who S2 eps that, knowing me, will be in no way brief.
"New Earth" by Russell T. Davies--Excellent

"New Earth" is a sequel to last year's "End of the World," and is also Rose's first adventure with the newly regenerated Doctor, so the theme, appropriately enough, is rebirth. It brings back Zoe Wannamaker as a futuristic rich bitch so addicted to plastic surgery all that's left of her is a piece of skin stretched taut on a metal rack. Heh heh. Very clever.

Cool aliens, too, with names like "The Face of Boe," and "The Duke of Manhattan." This is one of Davies' strengths, creating these colorful eccentrics, a nobility of the future. Where "End of the World" struck me as very Douglas Adams-y, this one is quite Neil Gaiman-ish. Both are very high compliments in my book.

And they did the whole "body switch" chestbut, which gave both Tennant and Piper the chanceto play Zoe Wannamaker. Cliche? Yes--But well executed, and a lot of fun.

There was an (all too rare) arc element in this episode... one which has yet to be resolved, but promises to be a major plot point in Series 3: the Face of Boe, one of the oldest beings in the universe, older even than the Timelords, has a secret to share with the Doctor -- at their next, and last meeting. (One suspects the secret is that the Doctor is not alone; that his people, the Timelords, aren't quite so extinct after all. After all, they sacrificed themselves to destory the Daleks ... who, we now know, weren't destroyed.)
"Tooth & Claw," again by Russell T. Davies, is "The Secret Origin of Torchwood," a thrilling Victorian romp with Queen Victoria and a (magnificent CGI) werewolf.

Torchwood--here, a Scottish House charged by the Queen with protecting the Empire from supernatural-y &/or science fiction-y threats--becomes the the common thread that binds the season together, much the way "Bad Wolf" did last year: not quite an arc (which is disappointing), but more than just a theme.

I would love to see them do a stronger premise in that regard, something just a bit more serialized. How about a single villain hovering over an entire season? Say... The Master? The old show was too serialized, no doubt about it. But the new show is too episodic. There has to be a happy medium.

"School Reunion," by Toby Whithouse, was the "very special episode" that brought back Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, perhaps the most popular of all the Doctor's companions down through the years. She and her robot dog, K9 were last seen more than 20 years ago when the Doctor left both high and dry. Abandoned.

Boy, is she pissed off.

The episode cleverly mythologizes what, at the time, was a business reality: the producers recast and, as was the custom in those days, didn't do too much on-camera to explain it. This is turned intlo a powerful insight into the Doctor's character, with eye-opening implications for Rose: he can't bear to watch his (mortal) companions grow old and die.

Rose is understandably upset by this revelation. Will he do to her what he did to Sarah Jane?

Criminally, they went nowhere with this potential schism between them. (It's especially wrong given that they knew Billie Piper was quitting at the end of the season.)

Plotwise, though, "School Reunion" pretty much sucked. The Doctor and Rose (and Sarah Jane, for that matter) are all undercover at a school where kids are "getting sick." There are strange lights in the sky, a nefarious plan to take over the universe--MWAH HA HA--and an evil headmaster (the usually wonderful Tony Head) who likes to hiss at the camera for no apparent reason. *Yawn*

Still, it would be nice to see more of Liz Sladen. (It would be great if The Doctor sought her out in his grief over losing Rose--say, in the next Christmas Special--but, sadly, it doesn't look like that's in the cards.)
Then, "The Girl in the Fireplace," by Stephen Moffat, the best episode this team has ever done.

Finally, the Doctor gets a romance... (So, he IS anatomically correct, after all. Good to know.) And with Madame Du Pompadour, no less.

The episode was funny, sad, fantastic -- everything Who does well.

The time travel element is especially well-handled here. The urgency from the Doctor's end is counterpointed with Pompadour's "slow road" -- She's in a different decade of her life each time our heroes encounter her.

The Cybermen 2-Parter. Are we really supposed to find these tin robots at all menacing? Or believable? They can build these fantastic cybernetic bodies, but they need human brains to power them? How... 60s. (I understand the initial idea was to update the concept to something altogether more cyberpunk-y -- I wish they had.)

The whole "mirror-Earth" concept is simultaneously tired (yawn... Rose's dead, loser father is neither dead nor a loser) and underexplored (wouldn't there be a parallel Doctor in this universe?)
And it got worse: "The Idiot's Lantern" is a 1950s adventure focusing on how evil TV is. Billie Piper played it so over the top I actually threw up a little in my mouth. OK, not really, but it was so bad, I did turn it off.

"Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit" by Matt Jones.

A good old fashioned sci-fi movie, it was one part Aliens (blue collar crew in space), one part The Abyss, (with all the attendant, Nietschzean overtones), and a little sprinkling of Star Trek TOS's "Wolf in the Fold" (the "original" evil with many names on many planets--including "Satan," on earth--goes jumping from body to body).

One thing is clear: Davies really digs James Cameron.

Production values on this one were absolutely astounding. (Including a brilliant CGI devil.) The regulars and guest cast were strong, particularly Will Thorpe as Toby.

They should do more stuff like this. A lot more stuff like this, in fact.
This was followed by an episode featuring the winner of a UK kiddie show's design a monster contest. The second one I had to turn off. (I'm not against the concept of doing an episode from the POV of civilians who encounter the Doctor and his companion(s). But this was truly horrible.)
"Fear Her" was set in London on the eve of the 2012 Olympics. Possessed suburban children or something. It may have been great, I dunno... My pallette had yet to be cleansed from the last one, so I ended up watching some bad porn and going to bed.

And, finally, the second series finale. We'd been told at the end of "The Satan Pit" that Rose would "die in battle shortly," and this 2 parter opens with Rose's voice-over casually informing us that this would be the story of "how I died."

Well, OK. By now, Billie Piper's decision to quit the series--which had been rumored for over a year--had been confirmed by BBC press release. And I'm cool with that. I've felt they could do better from Day 1. (Apparently, Piper will next star in a TV adaption of Philip Pullman's brilliant Sally Lockhart novels.)

The premise holds potential. Finally, we meet Torchwood proper in contemporary London. We get a tour of their operations, we learn their mission statement (to safeguard the British Empire from the aliens, ghosts, ghoulies, etc. Jackie: "But there is no British Empire." Torchwood skank: "Yet." Heh).

And we see what the problem inherent in that concept is: Torchwood--in mucking about where they don't belong--are creating as many problems as they solve. In this case, having harnessed some kind of science fiction-y energy, they unwittingly had a hand in bringing millions of Cybermen over from the parallel Earth seen earlier in the season.

Worse: they open a "void ship" containing millions of Dalek refugees from the Time War.

Who promptly go to war with each other, using the Earth as their battlefield.

Sounds good on paper, but on screen it was just unbearably silly. Even getting past how ridiculously unmenacing both the Doctor's archfoes are, their SNIPING was just too over the top to bear. (Hat tip: DWF)

Dalek: Identify yourselves!
Cyberman: You will identify first.
Dalek: State your identity!
Cyberman: You will identify first.
Dalek: Identify!
[Mickey's speaking clock line drowns it out]
Cyberman: Your actions are ??? [three sylables I think] and illogical. You will modify.
Dalek: Daleks do not take orders.
Cyberman: You have identified as Daleks.
Black Dalek (in sphere room): Outline resembles the inferior species known as Cybermen.
Cybermen: We are... [Jackie and Doctor conversation obscures]
Dalek: [Jackie and Doctor conversation obscures] ... inferior technology. [Possibly 'how did you get into this world with your inferior technology']
Cyberman: We followed in the wake of your sphere.
Dalek: Long range scans confirm the presence of crude cybernetic constructs on world wide scale.
Cyberman: [Completely obscured by Doctor/Jackie]
Dalek: [Obscured by Doctor/Jackie/We must protect the Genesis Ark] ....warfare.
Cyberman: Our technologies are similar though your design is inelegant.
Dalek: Daleks have no concept of elegance.
Cyberman: This is obvious. But consider, our technologies are compatible. Daleks plus Cybermen, together we could upgrade the universe.
Dalek: You propose an aliance?
Cyberman: This is correct:
Dalek: [pause] Request denied.
Cybermen: All hostile elements will be deleted [fire enegery weapons]
Dalek: Exterminate! [Cybermen destroyed]
Cyberleader: Open visual link. Daleks beware, you have declared war upon the Cybermen.
Black Dalek: This is not war; this is pest control.
Cyberleader: We have 5 million Cybermen; how many are you?
Black Dalek: Four.
Cyberleader: You would destroy the Cybermen with four Daleks?
Black Dalek: We would destroy the Cybermen with one Dalek. You are supreior in only one respect.
Cyberleader: What is that?
Black Dalek: You are better at dying.

But, more importantly, everything was far too neatly and tidily--and happily--wrapped up for Rose and all the characters connected to her. So convenient.

It all felt forced -- and not just because Billie Piper quit the series, but because they explicitly foreshadowed her death five or six times, and then chickened out, making it a "metaphorical" death--She's "dead" because she's separated from the Doctor. (It's not even that she's separated from the adventures that were so important to her -- because, presumably, she'll still have those as an agent of the parallel Earth's Torchwood.) So it all boils down to lurve. Puke.
All in all, a disappointing season, I thought. I expect a better ratio of success-to-failure from these writers.

Very much looking forward to seeing last season's best character, Captain Jack, in Torchwood. We've also been told to expect him back on Who next season... but I take that with a grain of salt. if Torchwood hits, they'll certainly want to commission a second series.

I'm also looking forward to Who's new female lead, Freyma Agyeman. My initial impression (from her guest spot as an unrelated character in "Doomsday Part 1") is that she's a much better actress than Billie Piper. [snark]But then, it would be hard not to be.[/snark]

Plus, there was something ... weird about having Rose with Tennant's Doctor. The vibe between them just wasn't the same as it was with Eccleston-- though they never dealt with that, they just pretended it WAS.

Oh, well.

Doctor Who returns at Christmas in "The Runaway Bride," and Series 3 drops Spring 2007. Torchwood debuts... Fall 2006?

*Whew* Maybe saving all these up for one big overview wasn't the best idea. Will try to review episodes a la carte when the Fall season starts.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


UPDATE: 7/15, 9PM: Israel now claims that it was an Iranian-made missile, fired by Hezbollah with the help of Iranian soldiers stationed in Lebanon. I fear both Iran and Syria will attack Israel (or vice versa) in the next few days.

One word for all this: oy.

JERUSALEM, Saturday, July 15 — The face-off between Israel and the Lebanese group Hezbollah escalated sharply on Friday as Israeli jets hit its Beirut headquarters and southern strongholds and Israeli news reports said a Hezbollah drone aircraft packed with explosives struck an Israeli naval vessel, causing severe damage.

The Israeli military later reported four sailors were missing.

Crafty fuckers. Give em that: they're not dumb. This is gonna get worse.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Throw The Bums Out

WASHINGTON - Republicans are in jeopardy of losing their grip on Congress in November.


With less than four months to the midterm elections, the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that Americans by an almost 3-to-1 margin hold the GOP-controlled Congress in low regard and profess a desire to see Democrats wrest control after a dozen years of Republican rule.

Further complicating the GOP outlook to turn things around is a solid percentage of liberals, moderates and even conservatives who say they'll vote Democratic. The party out of power also holds the edge among persuadable voters, a prospect that doesn't bode well for the Republicans.

The election ultimately will be decided in 435 House districts and 33 Senate contests, in which incumbents typically hold the upper hand. But the survey underscored the difficulty Republicans face in trying to persuade a skeptical public to return them to Washington.

... A Democratic takeover of either the House or Senate would be disastrous for the president, leaving both his agenda for the last two years in office and the chairmanship of investigative committees in the hands of the opposition party. To seize control of Congress, the Democrats must displace 15 Republicans from House seats and six Republicans from the Senate.

... The AP-Ipsos survey asked 789 registered voters if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. Democrats were favored 51 percent to 40 percent.

Not surprisingly, 81 percent of self-described liberals said they would vote for the Democrat. Among moderates, though, 56 percent backed a Democrat in their district and almost a quarter of conservatives — 24 percent — said they will vote Democratic.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

WW III Update

The Middle East is exploding and what is resident Bush doing about it? Not much.

What do we expect him to do? Personally mediate emergency peace talks?


Let him stay out of it--He'll only make it worse. Course, if it lasts longer than The Six Day War, or if other countries (Syria, Iran) become involved, Bush will inevitably be forced to engage. But, let's remember how much better off America is without Saddam Hussein.

Their arrogance is rivaled only by their short-sightedness. And their disdain for those who predicted the precarious stability in the region would be lost, leading to all out war between nuclear armed Israel and her neighbors. Fools.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli forces struck Beirut's international airport for the second time Thursday, hitting fuel tanks that exploded into fireballs.

The attack came soon after two rockets struck the northern Israeli port of Haifa on a day of spiraling violence and deepening crisis.

Israel Defense Forces said the Haifa rockets came from Lebanon and blamed the strike on Hezbollah, whose guerrillas triggered the violence when they attacked inside Israel on Wednesday, killing eight Israeli soldiers and capturing two more.

Daniel Ayalon, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, said the Haifa attack was "a major, major escalation."

Hezbollah earlier had threatened to hit Haifa, but Lebanese TV reported that the militant group denied launching the attack on the city of 280,000.
Israel has hit hundreds of targets in Lebanon as part of its effort to free two soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas, a top Israeli general said today. Israel also said it has information that the guerrillas who captured the soldiers are trying to transfer them to Iran, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to The Associated Press.

A Confederacy of Dunces

This is why, despite having spent many idyllic summers there growing up, I don't go down the shore much anymore

This great blogpost is about Wildwood. I used to go to Point Pleasant and Seaside, which are in Central Jersey. My impression has always been that the further south you go in Jersey... the further South you are. But, still, we're talking degrees of rednecktitude here.

I'd still like to check out the more progressive, less comercialized areas, like Ocean Grove, though, because the Jersey Shore remains one of the best coastlines in the world.

"That's What You Do"

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham may have a future as a fiction writer.

He's being accused of fabricating a Senate debate and sending it to the U.S. Supreme Court, which didn't think much of the work. The high court dismissed it.

At issue is an account of an exchange that Sens. Graham, R-S.C., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., wrote last year to be inserted into the Congressional Record.

It details what the two lawmakers purported was part of the Senate's debate over why terror detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should not be tried in civilian U.S. courts.

The actual discussion Graham and Kyl inserted in the Record never took place.

But their comments, written more than a month after the actual debate, became part of the terror case filing that went to the Supreme Court.

Reached Tuesday in Washington, Graham said he did nothing improper, contending that senators file amended speeches in debates all the time.

"That's what you do," he said. "You enter it on the record as if it were part of the debate."

Critics, meanwhile, called the Graham-Kyl account unethical.

Well, he's right about one thing: that is what they do, what they've done for the last six years. When reality doesn't suit them, they make it the fuck up. As with:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

At least the press is calling them on it now. (Even if it is only the Charlotte Observer. Ah, well. Baby steps.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

EVill Pipeline

Sorry about the quiet time for the last few days. Vacation ended (grumble), and I returned to a massive shitstorm at work. Also, I literally bought one comic book last week (which I'll review with tomorrow's batch).

There's a bunch of stuff in the pipeline, including a big Dr Who Series 2 overview with blurbs on every episode. (Still haven't seen the season finale, but I plan to watch it tonight.)

Also finally got my grubby hands on a copy of the Studio 60 pilot (as well as a couple of other NBC pilots that were picked up for the fall).

Anyway, polishing a review of that (and the script for the first episode), as well.

Will definitely see and review Pirates of the Caribbean this weekend (though that may be the last big budget summer movie worth seeing), and if I'm feeling ambitious, the Strangers with Candy movie, as well.

Opus, 7/9/06

Click to make it big.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Tomato-y Goodness

Turn, turn, turn.

New York State To Gays: Drop Dead


The Court of Appeals, in a 4-2 decision, said New York's marriage law is constitutional and clearly limits marriage to between a man and a woman. ...

"We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives," Smith wrote. ...

Chief Judge Judith Kaye dissented:"It is uniquely the function of the Judicial Branch to safeguard individual liberties guaranteed by the New York State Constitution, and to order redress for their violation," she wrote. "The court's duty to protect constitutional rights is an imperative of the separation of powers, not its enemy. I am confident that future generations will look back on today's decision as an unfortunate misstep."

Oh, incidentally:
... state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office had argued New York law prohibits issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Yeah, I'm really gonna vote for him now. . .

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Jimmy Knows--Another Superman Returns Review

Yes, I'm actually posting a second review. Yes, I'm totally on the cusp of OCD. And I'm OK with that. Now, if you'll exsuve me, I have to go count the wood grains in my floor.

I really loved Superman Returns the second time. I noticed something awesome that slipped past me the first time. But first, new thoughts on the two pretty significant problems I still have with the movie:

The story & theme, particularly with regard to Superman's arc and the New Krypton plot point, are not fully realized.

My gut reaction to New Krypton in the first review was stylistic. I wished it had more flash, that it had been more like the Fortress of Solitude with sort of an emerald aura--and I still do--but I see now that my problem here goes deeper. It's with the point of view the design element underscores.

Singer & Co clearly decided that Luthor's "dark continent" needed to look the part. It was Luthor's Hell on Earth.

But it would've been cooler looking, and a lot more interesting--weightier--storywise, if this Hell on Earth looked like Heaven. That is, to Superman, who has just returned from a failed, years' long quest to find his "home," only to find a great big piece of it right here on Earth.

His Holy Grail... which, because it has been poisoned by Luthor, must be exised like a tumor. The last living piece of Superman's heritage, destroyed by his own hand.

Mmmm. Bittersweet.

And yet, that act (followed by Lois revealing that Jason is his son) would've lead to the realization that Krypton is not his home--as Martha called it. Earth is. QED.

Mmmm. Corny.

Wow... It really seems like they beat the path to this realization and then... didn't connect the last dot.

Whatever. Disappointing.

What remains, as my buddy Chas pointed out, is the running time. At 2 hours 30 minutes, this movie is at least 20 minutes too long.

They could've cut the old woman and the museum caper/out-of-control car sequences and lost nothing vital to the story. We didn't need to know how Luthor got the yacht. (In good time, the movie reveals how Luthor got out of jail--That's all we needed to know.) That scene was more significant for the cameo by Noel Niell, the original Lois Lane.

We didn't need to know how Luthor got his Kryptonite, either--another in-joke. The car chase was well-executed, but it was also self-indulgent, and that's not like Bryan Singer. (The first X-Men was about 99 minutes, excluding credits.)

And if the intent with the bank robbery sequence was to show us that Supes is back on the job, the banks of TV monitors tuned to news networks in the Daily Planet Bullpen did it better; certainly with more economy.

That's about 15-20 minutes right there.

Even so, I don't think either one of these things sinks the movie any more than the equally serious flaws of the original sank it back then. They both get close enough to the mark. At least, for me. Again, I really enjoyed the heck out of Superman Returns the second time around. I might even be up for a third viewing. Still haven't seen it in IMAX.

(Anybody still unconvinced of my OCD street cred is invited to watch me wash my face 8 times a day. Or, y'know, not.)

Anyway, here's what slipped past me the first time (and I haven't seen anyone else mention it yet, either).

Just after Superman catches the Daily Planet Globe and sets it down, Jimmy snaps a pic, and, as he looks at the display on his digital camera, can be seen mouthing, "Oh. My. God." (No, not Joe. My. God.)

He totally knows.

As Superman's Pal should. (Though I don't think he ever has, in the comics.) This means that, going forward, Jimmy will be more than just comic relief, or someone for Superman to save. This will add new depth to Jimmy's relationships with both Clark and Superman (though, I suppose, now that he knows they are one in the same, it'll be relationship singular.)

Yep--Definitely a good twist, and helpful on the "suspension of disbelief" front, too, given the sheer number of close ups of Superman on TV and hanging on the walls of the Daily Planet offices. At least one of the people who know "both" of them needed to figure it out. That, or Singer & Co. would've needed to contrive some science-fiction-y explanation for why they just don't see the resemblance.

(Actually, two people figured it out: Jason realized instantly, in one of the film's biggest laughs.)

Next step: let's figure out what they should do for the Chapter 2. (Or 4, I guess.)

Here's my take (which, it should be noted, is the result of almost no thought whatsoever. This is just from the gut.)

Obviously, Luthor is left with one card to play: he knows who Jason's father is. He figured it out almost instantly. And he will tell.

Or, perhaps more likely, he will attempt to use that information to blackmail Superman, and this will result in at least Richard, and possibly the world, finding out.

Unless... Are we certain Richard doesn't already know?

As for the heavy, I'm thinking it's time for Brainiac. And where Brainiac goes, Kandor must follow. Might be a place for Kara Zor El, too.

New York State Supreme Court To Rule on Gay Marriages

UPDATE: Well, it's 12 after 5 and no ruling came down. Maybe tomorrow. . .

...Today. *gulp*

Does New York become the second state in the union to grant equal rights in marriage to same sex couples? Or do the haters win again, mwuah-ha-ha? Stay tuned, boys & ... boys. (And girls & girls.)

Monday, July 03, 2006

EVill Preview: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

To say I'm wetting my pants over the new series from Aaron Sorkin & Tommy Schlamme is understatement. I'm practically shitting my pants over the new series from Aaron Sorkin & Tommy Schlamme.

In their 4 year, 88 episode tenure on (my beloved) West Wing, there were maybe--maybe--4 or 5 episodes that were less than absolutely brilliant. Only The Sopranos has a similar track record--though David Chase has only half as many episodes per season (and one season every OTHER year, on average). He also has a full writing staff. Sorkin had a staff, but he also had at least a teleplay credit on 84 of those 88 episodes.

I'm all for quality over quantity, but if you can provide BOTH, you win.

Studio 60 is an hourlong drama (with a large helping of comedy) about "the struggle between art and commerce" set behind the scenes at a thinly veiled version of Saturday Night Live. Bradley Whitford (Josh on The West Wing) stars along with Matthew Perry (finally getting a gig worthy of his talent) as an ass-kicking creative team fired from the show 4 years earlier and brought back to make it funny, and relevant--and dangerous--again after their mentor self-immolates in an on-air meltdown reminiscent of Paddy Chayefsky's Network.

I'm mad as hell, and I'm not
gonna take it anymore!

Here's a couple of pages from the Studio 60 pilot's teaser. (hat tip: Sarah).

(to the audience)
This isn't gonna be a very good show
tonight and I think you should change
the channel.



People are flipping through their scripts--lost--

What the hell?

When did this get put in?

You should change the channel right now,
or better yet turn off the TV.

(into headset)
Does anybody know what the hell is going on?

Off an AUDIENCE laugh--

No, I know it seems like this is supposed
to be funny, but tomorrow you're gonna
find out it wasn't and I'll have been
fired by then. This isn't supposed--this
isn't a sketch.

This is for real.

This show used to be cutting edge
political and social satire but it's
gotten lobotomized by a candy-ass
broadcast network hell-bent on doing
nothing that might challenge their

At the edges of the stage, cast and crew are starting to grow nervous. Just not sure what's happening or what they're supposed to do.

We were about to do a sketch you've
already seen 500 times. Yes, no one's
gonna confuse George Bush with George
Plimpton, we get it. We're all being
lobotomized by the country's most
influential industry which has thrown in
the towel on any endeavor that does not
include the courting of 12-year old boys.

TOM has been silently joined by SIMON, who we saw give him the
low-five backstage. At one point, SIMON will make a gut
reaction move to go out and get WES, but TOM will just hold
his hand out to stop him.

And not even the smart 12-year-olds, the
stupid ones, the idiots, of which there are
plenty thanks in no small part to this network.
So change the channel, turn off the tv. Do it
right now.

JERRY, the network executive we saw before, bursts into the
control room as WES continues.

Get him off!


Get the camera off him!

And put it on what?

Cut the boom mic, then!

It's his show, I take my
instructions from him.

...and there's always been a struggle
between art and commerce, but now
I'm telling you art is getting its ass
kicked, and it's making us mean, and
it's making us bitchy, and it's making
us cheap punks and that's not who
we are.

(to the DELAY MAN)
Are you bleeping this out?

He hasn't said anything you're not
allowed to say.

He's telling people to change the

I don't think you have to worry about
anybody changing the channel right now.

Get him off or you don't have a job

I'm running a live national broadcast,
can you threaten me later?

I'm the network executive in charge here,
and I'm threatening you now.
Get us outta this!

...We're eating worms for money, "Who
Wants to Screw My Sister,"
guys are
getting killed in a war that's got theme
music and a logo. That remote in your
hand is a crack pipe...


I'm waiting for him to say something that
isn't true.

(turning on the room)
Who else in here knows how to do this?

Don't talk to my staff.

Get him off!

(quietly to CAL)
You got two kids in school.


She said you got two kids in school whose
father's five seconds away from never
working again.

...and it's not even good pornography.
They're just this side of snuff films, and friends,
that's what's next 'cause that's all that's left.

(quietly urging)

And the two things that make them scared
gutless are the FCC and every psycho-religious
cult that gets positively horny at the very mention
of a boycott.

CAL'S almost made up his mind. It's like he's a trained and
experienced policeman but this is the first time he's faced
live fire.

All right--I think we're just gonna go to
titles. Stand by VTR.

These are the people they're afraid of,
this prissy, feckless, off-the-charts greed-filled
whorehouse of a network you're watching. This
thoroughly unpatriotic--

Go VTR! Go VTR! Roll titles! Now!

And we




Pretty fuckin awesome, huh? Sorkin vet Tim Busfield (who in addition to his work on The West Wing appeared on Broadway in A Few Good Men) plays Cal, director of the show-within-a-show. He is also a directing producer.

Gotta love the symmetry--and this project is swimming in it. A writer and director brought back to save a fourth place network that fired them four years earlier? Hello?

Female lead Jordan McDeere (played by Amanda Peet) is based on Jamie Tarses, the youngest woman ever to run a network. She also happens to be Matt Perry's ex, and the sister of one of Sorkin's co-execs on Sports Night.

Harriet Hayes (played by the brilliant Sarah Paulson, pictured at right with Peet) is based in part on Kristen Chenoweth. In the pilot, Matt Perry's character--the writer--has broken up with Hayes after she promoted "an album of spiritual music" on Pat Robertson's 700 Club. Sorkin reportedly broke up with Chenoweth after she (yep) promoted an album of spiritual msuic on The 700 Club.

You can tell, in the first two scripts, that they're not done with each other. Likewise, Sorkin and Chenoweth seem to be "on again." (In the picture at left, they're at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, where Sorkin's new play,The Farnsworth Invention, premieres next winter.)

A third female character, Martha Moyer, who was excised from the pilot but will make her debut in the first batch of episodes, seems to be pretty obviously based on Maureen Dowd, another of Sorkin's exes. (I'm still hoping they can hammer out a deal with Mary Louise Parker... Feels like it was written for her.)

Steven Weber (pictured with Peet and Perry) also stars. Co-starring are DL Hughley, Nate Corddry (late of The Daily Show)Michael Stuhlbarg (late of Broadway's The Pillowman), Evan Handler(another West Wing vet) and Carlos Jacott (who played Lawrence in the Firefly pilot).

BTW, Sorkin is having a good year. In addition to having the most anticipated new TV show of the fall season, and The Farnsworth Invention, which may go to Broadway, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Mike-fucking-Nichols are about to make Charlie Wilson's War, based on Sorkin's adapted screenplay.

Ah--Nichols & Sorkin. That has a nice ring to it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Opus, 7/2/06

Click to make it legible.

Superman Returns Box Office

So, the estaimtes are in:

Domestic: $84,208,000 81.0%
+ Foreign: $19,800,000 19.0%
= Worldwide: $104,008,000

Solid, but not spectacular. The budget--which includes $40 million in development costs related to the many false starts that plagued the WB's attempt to revive the Superman brand, but excludes cost of the prints and marketing--is about $260 million, which meansit needs to make about $650-700 million. Looks like it will take DVD sales to get them across the finish line (but that's not so unusual these days).

Still: it's good enough for a sequel.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

EVill Comics, 6/28

Most of the books I love (or love to hate) seem to come out the third Wednesday of the month, so this was a paltry week.

I decided to take a pass on the Civil War tie-ins, a whole bunch of which debuted this week, because none of the writers involved do anything for me. (And one, I actively dislike. I also dislike his work.)

I did get Brave New World, skimmed it, and liked the content more than I thought I would. Which is to say: I'm definitely on the hook for at least one of the new titles sampled therein.

The Freedom Fighters monthly looks really interesting. It's political. It articulates the more realistic, "shades of grey" worldview I was hoping to find the DCU embrace post-Infinite Crisis. And the artwork is fucking awesome. Behold:

The OMAC preview also took me by surprise: it's aimed at an older audience, it takes a bigger bite out of its characters than is typical in a mainstream, superhero comic, and--again--the artwork (by Renato Guedes) is very good:

I was less into the Shazam preview. The retro vibe to the artwork--very cool. But. the. writing. There are no words. (Nor should there have been.)

The Martian Manhunter sample disappointed me. It featured none of the wry sense of humor, or exotic alien-ness of the JM DeMatteis take on the character. And the artwork wasn't so hot, either.

John Byrne's pencils on the new Atom title are his best work in years, IMO, and I plan to take a closer look. Interesting that Grant Morrison gets a "development" credit. "Based on ideas and concepts devleoped by..." They really *are* putting a lot of the DCU revamp on him. (He takes over Batman next month. Hmmmm... No one but Frank Miller and Alan Moore ever really got me interested in Batman. But if anything else came close, it was Morrison's Arkham Asylum.)

And, as for the big reveal... I admit, I find it interesting. Especially the apparent presence of the Anti-Monitor in the background. Interesting, and--I hope--not at all derivative of Marvel's funky cosmic Watchers.
I also hope they're going somewhere with this. The last time The Monitor was watching Earth, it was the year leading up to the Crisis. Are these Monitors doing likewise, setting up next year's big DCU Event Titles?

Got one Marvel book this week--Runaways--and, I must admit, I'm losing interest.