Tuesday, February 27, 2007

JJ Abrams To Direct Star Trek Relaunch

Everybody knew he was producing it, and co-writing it, but he had an option to direct, and on Friday night, he exercised that option. This means that a) he's happy with the script and b) Paramount--also happy with the script--has agreed to pony up a budget in the $125-150 million dollar range (similar to MI:III).

In other words, they're basically doubling the budget of the last, most expensive Trek film -- Nemesis -- which flopped miserably at the box office. (Only 'cause it sucked.)

Anyway... Christmas *Day*?

Interesting release date, one usually reserved for Oscar qualification -- but obviously, that's not why they put it there. This is not one of those kinds of pictures.

Maybe they put it there because they wanted a big Holiday weekend to open -- but also wanted to limit their risk by avoiding the competition it would face on Thanksgiving, or Memorial Day of July 4. I'm sure this will be the only big budget genre picture opening on Christmas Day.

Then again, what kind of January will it have?

And I don't know if I can get to the movies on Christmas Day. #*&#$@!! I suppose I'll have to find a way. (It'll be a good excuse to get away from certain family members, that's for sure.)

Still no word on plot--beyond the fact that it will feature Kirk and Spock's first meeting and first mission together--but we should hear about casting in the next couple of months. I'm still hoping for Matt Damon as the new Kirk, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Bones. Spock is a rough one to cast. Christian Bale would be great, but he's a little busy with that *other* franchise. What do you guys think?

Below is the press release.


HOLLYWOOD, CA, February 26, 2007 – “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.

“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.”

Overheard at the Oscars

"Hey--You broke your cherry!" -- Leo DiCaprio to Marty Scorsese, quoting Goodfellas

So...What's Brit Brit On?

According to the Mirror, pretty much everything.

Ecstasy. Coke. Valium. Vicodin.

That girl's a walking hypodermic.

Jason Alexander told the Sunday Mirror of London that Spears almost died due to a fatal "MDMA" overdose while they partied in Las Vegas. After seeing the pop star was having trouble breathing and wasn't coherent, he says he took her to their hotel room and threw her in the shower.

"I remember looking down at her all crumpled in the tub with the water coming down. She looked so white and lifeless. I thought she was dead. I thought, 'This b---- is going to f------ die right here in front of me,'" Alexander said.

And he thought, "I will do the opposite!" Oh, wait. Wrong Jason Alexander...

Alexander also told the Mirror that he and Spears, during a drug-fueled bender, had a sexual threesome with a female dancer. "We used ecstasy at night to party and cocaine during the day to stay awake," he said. "Then we would take downers like Valium or Vicodin to come down and rest."

Go, Brit! What a little pig.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The 79th Annual Academy Awards

I agree with my buddy Chas in the broadest sense that they've just GOT to bring in someone to make the show cool -- and 2.5 hours, max -- or it won't be on a big broadcast network for too many more years.

That said, I think it's easy to knock the Oscars. So even if the show was much better than it's been in recent years -- certainly, far far better than last year's well-intentioned Jon Stewart disaster, or the year before's Gary Shandling fiasco -- people will still slag it.

So let me take the contrary position -- And not just cause I'm a contrarian, but because I actually enjoyed a good two hours out of the total running time of three and a half centuries.

Ellen was a great great host--on a par with Billy Crystal--even if she did play it a bit safer than she does in her stand up, or even on her show.

I could tell everything that was written by her writers, because it wasn't nauseating -- and some of it was actually quite funny (e.g., Leo goading Al Gore into making a "big announcement" only to have him played off).

Conversely, you could tell everything written by Bruce Vilanch and *his* writers, because it WAS nauseating. I think he did almost all the presenter banter -- except for the special cases (Gore/DiCaprio), the ad-libbers (Clooney) or those who apparently wrote their own (Seinfeld).

They should have her back, and make her more prominent next time (and *someone* please just put Bruce Vilanch out of our misery, for christ's sake).

I *loved* Jack Nicholson, just standing there refusing to read that shit -- either because he was too blitzed, or too offended by what he saw on the teleprompter. Diane Keaton's exasperation was perfect.

Also perfect: the tribute to Sherry Lansing, the special Oscar for Ennio Morricone, and the Big Three (Coppolla, Spielberg, Lucas) presenting Marty his first -- insanely overdue -- Oscar.

That man personifies almost everything I love about film. Everything but spaceships. (Can you imagine the spaceship movie by Marty Scorsese?? Hey--It could happen. Yes, he made Goodfellas and Mean Streets... but he also made The Age of Innocence and Last Temptation of Christ.)

Anyway... In a nutshell: if running time and presenter banter were the biggest problems, it was an above average year.

P.S., I was saddened to hear from Jodie Foster (who is always the hottest Power Lesbian in the room) of the passing of her best friend (and possibly the father of her son Charlie), Randy Stone. Stone was a talented casting exec at Fox in the 90s. He discovered and paired little-known David Duchovny with completely unknown Gillian Anderson, which worked out OK.

He also wrote and directed an Oscar-winning short film about a gay teen who attempts suicide (and set up a foundation to help such kids).

He was also a talented actor in his own right (like Foster, he was a child actor).

He was 49. Cause of death has not been disclosed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So... Why Did Brit Brit Shave Her Head?

So, let's not confuse this post for evidence that I give a shit, but I've heard some intriguing speculation that K-Fed, or his people -- who are going to court tomorrow for an emergency child custody hearing -- might've pointed out to La Mega Retardo that her hair could be used to prove that she took drugs while she was pregnant with one or both her children.


And then she ran back to rehab--albeit briefly. Who knows if this is how it happened, but I'd say this speculation has the ring of truth.

Man--I can't wait to see what she does tomorrow (I hear she was spotted scoping out white broncos).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

George Takei Responds To Tim Hardaway

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Most Right Wing Politician...Ever?

So apparently the Republican chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee in Texas doesn't just deny evolution, geological time, and all the other standard Creationist rigamarole -- Nope. That's too librul for Warren Chisum.

This fucker actually denies that the earth revolves around the sun. It's all a big Jewish conspiracy, y'see.

Wow. Just... wow.

Gyllenhaal Replaces Holmes in Batman Sequel

Now, that's more like it.

Latino Review, which scooped the casting of Heath Ledger as The Joker in the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins, is reporting that Maggie Gyllenhaal will take over the part of Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes. Katie Holmes murdered the (very well written) part in the original.

Also, Aaron Eckhart has been cast as Rachel's new boss, Gotham District Attorney Harvey Dent. In the comics, Dent is a close friend & ally of Batman's who later becomes Two-Face, arguably the most interesting heavy in Batman mythology. (It's unknown if Dent becomes Two-Face *in* this film, or if they're introducing him to set up Part 3.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Half-Hour Comedy Hour

Check out these clips from Fox's attempt at a Daily Show clone. Oh, sweet jesus. The canned laughter... The high school A/V club style interplay between the anchors--It makes Oscar banter look witty!

Please, make it stop! OK, maybe just one more: a link to the Rush Limbaugh/Ann Coulter sketch that served as the episode's teaser.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Battlestar Season 4

Rumors are circulating today that Ron Moore told people at the WGA Awards dinner over the weekend that a 13 episode fourth season is a go. The second and third season orders were for 20 episodes each. Take from that what you will.

According to the rumor, there will also be a movie. It's unknown if this is the straight-to-DVD project Universal Home Video is keen to do (for release during the hiatus between the third and fourth seasons) or another project altogether (e.g., a movie that functions as series finale).

Time will tell if some, or indeed, any, of the above is more than just rumor -- though, for my money, it has the ring of truth. It's definitely time to wrap this sucker up.

Bronx Beat

The Dakota Fanning Show

Monday, February 05, 2007

Studio 60 Shelved

In other scheduling updates, NBC will shelve Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip which currently airs on Mondays at 10p for the time being, returning it sometime later this season.

Yeah, like, late June?

I think we just hit the end of the line for S60. There's no bigger fan of Sorkin's West Wing than me, but I gotta admit, I'm not sure I'm even unhappy about this.

It's sort of a mercy killing. There was a great show in there somewhere -- in fact, there were *several.* Oh, well.

I will say this. After West Wing, Sorkin could've created another hourlong set in the world of politics. Or perhaps a series version of A Few Good Men -- JAG, with brains. Something set in a newsroom, or a newspaper. The show would've been received with massive fanfare, and ratings to match. It would've run for 7 years and made all involved even more filthy rich than they already are.

Sorkin wanted none of that.

Instead, he pushed himself. His reach exceeded his grasp. And I will always defend that kind of risk-taking, without-a-net storytelling. So--Good on him!

Meanwhile, don't cry for Aaron Sorkin: he'll get an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Charlie Wilson's War... and The Farnsworth Invention will very probably transfer to Broadway.

Update: I spoke before I knew what I was talking about (nothing new there). This was announced 2 months ago. Studio 60 will remain on the schedule for the remainder of February sweeps, but the final two or three episodes have not yet been scheduled.