31 January 2006

Bored Tuesdays

Lifted from Naked Boy and also seen at Spider's:

The rules are as follows:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 3 sentences (#5, 6 & 7) on your blog, along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet!

Sharon pointed over Clay's shoulder and said, "Look! Telepaths!"But when he turned that way, he saw nothing but a flock of crows, one so huge it blotted out the sun. Then the tinkling began.

From: Stephen King's Cell

30 January 2006

Richard Donner's Superman II to finally see the light of day; Superboy coming to DVD.

In what I guess is not a really a surprise move, Warner Bros. is getting ready to take advantage of the come back of the Superman franchise. With Superman Returns scheduled to open in late June, the studio is going back into the vaults to offer spiffed up editions of the four previous Superman films and now plans to release the Superboy TV series of the late 80s.

Much like last years Batman Anthology, original producer of the first three films, Ilya Salkind, is working with Warners on a boxed set that will offer up special editions of Superman, Superman II and Superman III (and one can guess, Superman IV will be included). While the studio did put out a “special directors edition” of 1978's Superman, which director Richard Donner added some footage to film that was incorporated when ABC aired the film on TV, I’m wondering if they are planning to add even more (as Donner did not include all the stuff that aired on ABC ).

Still, after a many years of bitterness between the Salkind’s and Donner, Warners has also appeared to finally approved Richard Donner to go back and give us his verison of Superman II. How can there be two versions, you ask? Well, due to the then cost of producing the first film, Warners decided to make two films simultaneously, this way the cost could be spread over two films. So, Richard Donner and his team made Superman and Superman II together. As production problems where adding up, and they were facing a possible delay release of the first film, the Salkind’s and Donner stopped working on Superman II (with about 80% or more of the film finished) and worked on getting the first film in theaters.

Donner and the Salkind’s were reported to have a very tenuous relationship, as both were seeking to bring the best possible film to the screen. After Superman was finished and Donner ready to head back and finish Superman II, he was abruptly fired by the Salkind’s. Director Richard Lester was brought in to complete the sequel. But since Donner had completed so much of the film, according to Directors Guild of America rules, no matter who finished the film, Donner would still need to be credited with it. So instead of doing that, the Salkind’s scrapped much of Donner’s work, reworked the script -adding some the cheesy humor that took over the film - and re-filmed others with Lester behind the camera.

Lester was credited as director, yet some of Donner’s work was present -which, while a good film, did give it an unevenness that -at times - was distracting. And add the fact that Gene Hackman refused to re-film any of his scenes with Lester added further to its problems.

Flash forward to 2003 when Donner was allowed to reincorporate the ABC footage into his version of the first film for its 25th anniversary. It was then that word began to get out even more that Richard Donner’s version of Superman II did exist, but because of all the animosity that existed between the Salkind’s, Donner. Lester and Warner Bros., the studio had no plans to allow that version to be released.

Yet, now that it appears that Superman Returns is the film of summer 2006, and that Bryan Singer’s new film is more or less a continuation of Superman II (which will include John Williams original score plus footage of the late Marlon Brando that was never used in the first two films), and that Singer has such high regards for Donner’s work, Warners seems to - along with Ilya Salkind - finally capitulated and will allow Donner to show his version of Superman II.

Also, the Salkind’s are also preparing a boxed set of Superboy: The Complete First Season. Unlike Smallville, this 1988-1992 syndicated series has Clark Kent donning the supersuit to save Lana Lang and the rest of Samllville from Lex Luthor and other evils. John Haymes Newton played Clark during season 1, and was replaced by Gerard Christopher for seasons 2 through 4. Stacy Haiduk -who would go onto to star in SeaQuest DSV - played Lana Lang and was only one of the main cast to survive all four seasons.

At this time, Warners has yet to announce when the special editions of the Superman films (including Donner’s new version of the second one) or when Superboy will be out, but June seems to be logical tie-in date.

26 January 2006

A Million Little Lies; Oprah asks for the truth

Back after Oprah first announced that Million Little Pieces would be her next book for her revived club, I did a bad review of it on Amazon and got lambasted by people. First off, having worked for major booksellers over the last 18 years, this new genre -the memoir - has grown in leaps and bounds. And the drug recovery memoir seems to be one of better selling titles. I have a problem with these because at most, I know these people are embellishing their story.

James Frey has now admitted that he changed some events in his book, and now I don’t know what to believe. What I would like addressed, is why a 12 year-old started drinking in the first place. Of course, this goes with my theory that the richer and more influenced you are, the more dysfunctional you are. Its like the kids of preachers who turn out to be the more wilder of any kid anyone has ever known. Frey’s family has money, and he had no real reason to fall this way and not only his he at fault, but are his parents.

These memoirs -along with Koren Zailckas’ Smashed and Augusten Burroughs Running With Scissors - generally never come under a lot of scrutiny and publishers are more concerned aboutthe narrative flow than any sort of journalistic truth. Since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (the John Berendt bestseller that most reviews claimed read like a novel), most publishers only care about the story. Even Frey himself admitted on the a recent Larry King Live that he originally shopped the book as a novel and had been turned down (and to be fair, it was also turned down as nonfiction). Once it was finally purchased, the editors eventually decided to publish the book as a memoir.

And while Frey has now acknowledged that there were embellishments, that he changed things (the names and places changed to protect the innocent, blah, blah, blah) he made no mention of this in any part of the book (like he has now done with Pieces’s sequel, My Friend Leonard).

So how much of Pieces is truth? I mean he admitted on today’s Oprah show that the story of a girl who cuts her recovery program short, then relapses and eventually kills herself is not true. He lied about that. He misled people and that -no matter how great his recovery from drug abuse is - and that will bring into question everything he writes.

He and his publisher owe many people a good explanation, and please don’t blame it on the marketing people. Frey went forward with Million as a memoir when he knew that was not true and his publishers and editors should be fired for hoisting a work of bad fiction as a work of real life experiences.

While there have been many who’ve supported this book - and continue to do so on Amazon - all I ask the reading public, that now that we’ve seen an author unveiled for the liar, please take these “memoirs” a little more serious. I enjoyed Running with Scissors, but do I believe all that Burroughs writes in there truthful and real?

Not for a minute. At best, he was an alcoholic with an abnormal upbringing who created a fantasy world to cope with the boundaries he so needed. Obviously, so was Frey.

But next time try a disclaimer.

24 January 2006

Actor Chris Penn, brother of Sean and singer Michael dies at 43

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Actor Chris Penn has died in a Santa Monica residence, with no signs of foul play, a local ABC television affiliate reported Tuesday. Penn, 43, was the brother of actor Sean Penn and starred in dozens of films. He played baby-faced criminal Nice Guy Eddie Cabot in director Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" and starred along with his brother in the 1986 film "At Close Range." He also played Willard Hewitt in "Footloose" in 1984. Recently, Penn voiced Officer Eddie Pulaski in the video game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." Santa Monica police and the Los Angeles County Coroner were not immediately available for comment. (Reuters)

UPN and The WB will fold in the fall; will become one network called The CW

After a decade and more of playing second fiddle to the big four networks, struggling mini-nets The WB and UPN will fold this fall and merge into one network called The CW. Both networks have never shown a profit and have struggled to reach masses the way ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC do. This merger will now have a network that will reach 98% of the total viewing audience, making them now a larger player in the broadcast network arena.

The new network will be a 50-50 partnership between Warner Bros. and CBS. It will be carried on the 16 stations owned by the Tribune Company and the 12 owned by CBS, and there is hope new affiliates will be added by the time the new CW launches in September. The Tribune Company -which has three stations in the biggest markets, WGN in Chicago (my home town), WPIX in New York and KTLA in Los Angeles (my new home), will diverge its minority ownership of The WB in return for a 10 year affiliation agreement with The CW. It is expected that The CW will broadcast 30 hours of programing seven days a week, with 2 hours in prime time Monday through Friday (8-10 EST/PST) and three hours on Sunday (7-10 EST/PST), along with a two-hour block on Sunday outside of prime time (5-7 EST/PST). The CW will also continue The WB’s Monday-Friday afternoon block (3-5 EST/PST) and a five-hour animation block on Saturday.

This will also doom shows on both networks, though expect UPN to get hit the most. The new network will now exclusively go after the demographic age of 18-34, making most of UPN’s ethnic programming a thing of the past. Expect the new team heading up this revamped fifth network -Dawn Ostroff from UPN and John Maatta from the WB - to cherry pick the best shows from the current crop on both networks. From UPN, expect Everyone Hates Chris and Veronica Mars to stay, along with (probably) America’s Next Top Model. The odds of anything else surviving is slim to none (say bye-bye to the Monday urban comedy line-up) though the WWE’s Smackdown has a chance because its been a linchpin in UPN’s schedule for a decade, but its contract is up this September, and there is a possibility it could move to USA. Meanwhile, expect Gilmore Girls to stay (even though next season will be its last), though genre shows like Smallville and Supernatural are hard to call. While Smallville has gained viewers this season in its tough Thursday timeslot, it is aging (along with star Tom Welling). I have speculated since last May that season five would be its last, especially since Warner Bros. is relaunching the film franchise this June with Superman Returns (which while a quasi sequel to Superman II, the production crew of Smallville will feature a ship in its season ender that is the same ship Superman uses to leave earth). And, if the already announced Aquaman does get picked up, this could doom it. Supernatural has done very well for The WB, but its future will remain muddled. Charmed is already expected to end this season after 8 years, along with 7th Heaven, ending after 10. Reality show Beauty and the Geek should also survive -and creator Ashton Kushtner is expected to do a spin-off of that show, featuring hunks and geeky women. The fates of One Tree Hill and Everwood is also nebulas at this point, but don’t expect The WB’s Friday comedy block of Twins, Reba or Life with Fran to survive.

22 January 2006

Digging for the Truth

Okay, one of the reasons I like about the History Channel is this cute 34 year-old guy named Josh Bernstein. He's sexy, with perfect teeth, cheekbones and hair I would kill for; plus he's smart which makes him even hotter in my book.

The shows are always interesting and while the history has a tendency to be "light" -which might be for the audience -it still keeps me watching.

Plus, my fetish for guys in sandals/flipflops gets going even more. Josh wears sandals when he can, and I love it.

The genetic perfect. I hate them, I love them.

X Men 3

Movies are subjective. Obviously, what one calls a piece of crap, another loves. Movies such as Hostel, where in his own words, director Eli Roth said he wanted to “make the sickest, most disturbing film I can.” And there are many folks out there -but mostly men in their early 20s, who like films like Hostel, Underworld, Saw II and other films of the horror genre, because they feed into their secret fantasy of seeing people get killed in the most goriest sort of way. Plus these films have a tendency to be very misogynist, with women seen as only as subjects to torture and ogle at as objects of boys fucked up views of sexuality. This is why -despite what will be a bad script and pedantic direction from Brett Ratner - X Men 3 might actually be a success. Less we forget why Singer left this franchise, and it was mostly because Fox wanted more action, less story. Singer is a story orientated director, while Ratner -based on the two Rush Hour films and Red Dragon -just thinks violence, explosions and a plot (with Velveeta Cheesy dialogue) thinner than Lara Flynn Boyle is what makes a movie. I have no faith in this film what so ever, and after being a huge fan of comic books and the first two films, I’m sorry to say this rushed production -which was done by Fox because they were pissed at Singer’s defection - will smack of it. Still, it will be sad to realize, that the film will open big (but I’m thinking it will not be previewed by the critics before its release; just a feeling) but even the most idiotic film goer will eventually see its not worth jacking off to. As for quantity over quality, well, lets be realistic. The horror genre -much like the fantasy genre - will always be over looked by any major awards group (with the exception of Lord of the Rings, duh!). Besides, as it was pointed out by Panterarocks, the people behind Underworld spent 80% of their budget on visual effects. So, its what you have, or as Shakespeare wrote, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But, as cynical as I can be, there will be an Underworld 3, if only because if there is one thing certain in this world, is dumb, despicable, sick, women-hating films with their Easter Peep (full of nothing but air) type movies will make money and straight guys, full of masturbation fantasies of killing, will line up and see them.

21 January 2006

Books of 2006, part 1: State of Fear

First book of 2006 finished. Actually, started it in December, but I won't talk about that.

Anyway, finished State of Fear by Michael Crichton.

Arrested Development's end of days

ABC Entertainment chief Steve McPherson said this Saturday that he does not "foresee" Arrested Development moving to his network when FOX officially cancels the show in the next few weeks. This is the third statement about the show coming out of the winter Television Critics Association press tour in LA. Earlier in the week, FOX head Peter Ligouri acknowledged that the shows return was "highly unlikely", which left ABC and the cable-network Showtime -who both expressed interest in picking up the show - its only saving grace.

Showtime's Robert Greenblatt said this past week that they are interested in the show and have had some discussions with 20th Century Fox, but they would only pick it up if series creator Mitch Hurwitz remains in charge, and according to reports, he's yet to make that decision.

I remain conflicted about the the future of the best comedy shows in years on broadcast TV. On one hand, I think the show should remain on TV, if only because TV is littered with so much anaemic, predictable slop. With reality TV still posting high ratings -the season opener of American Idol scored 35 million viewers on 1/17 - the fate of shows like Arrested, with its intelligent scripts that are not dumbed down, and that assume its viewers gets their jokes, seem to be all but doomed. While pulling an average of 4.2 million viewers, I realize the economic value between Idol and Arrested is great, it still seems logical to keep a show that may not pull in a huge audience, if only because it reflects an intelligence that is greatly missed on TV.

But, also, if the show was to remain on broadcast TV -such as ABC - it would need to lose some its large cast, plus Mitch Hurwitz would be forced even more to water down the humor, making the jokes more obvious and probably add a laugh track and make the show multi camera, i.e. cheaper to produce.

Anotherwords, Full House type show that is empty as unused diary.

Then, I would more pleased to see it go, than find it compromised like that.

Showtime has 20 million subscribers, meaning Development's broadcast average would make it a huge hit. And if the cable-net would pick up the show, while it would be expensive, it could help spur more subscriptions. It would also help the show, as it would no longer be restricted by language and other content that broadcast TV forces shows into. That does not mean that the F word would be used more (and which I always thought meant that the writer was poor; I mean its easy to swear). I just means the scripts could be more bold and not forced to pander to people who think TV Guide is the only "book" they read.

19 January 2006

Former Doctor Who Production Manager Gary Downie dies

His name was Gary Downie, and for many newer fan of Doctor Who they don’t know who he is. For fans of conventions that he attended during the 80s and 90s, he became a huge staple and was well liked. He also a production manager on the classic series during the Davidson, Baker and McCoy era, along with his long time companion, the late classic series producer John Nathan-Turner. It’s being reported on Outpost Gallifrey’s web site that Downie passed away today after a long battle with cancer. I met him at a few conventions during the eighties (and never connected the dots that he and JNT were partners) and he had a great sense of humor.

17 January 2006

Arrested Deveploment and King George's Oligarchy America.

Why is it such a crime to be even half intelligent?
According to some on the Right, the “intellectuals” are ruining the world, threatening such things as religion and freedom to let Bill O’Reilly tell them the real story, with no “spin.”
I’m no intellectual. I hold no degree, but I think for myself. I don’t need O’Reilly and his fascist and probably, racist network, to tell me a damn thing. Besides, what can you believe from good old Bill? Twice in the last month, O’Reilly has been caught short of the “truth.” Back in December, when O’Reilly was doing his War on Christmas (where retailers such as Wal Mart - a very Christian organization, requested that its workers refrain from saying “Merry Christmas” and just wish the patrons a “Happy Holiday”), O’Reilly sited Comedy Central (or as he called it, Secular Central) for making fun of this, and showed a clip from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. There, one of the shows performers gave a mock commentary on how Christmas is the only “religious holiday that is a Federal holiday. That way, Christians can go to their services and everyone else can stay home and reflect on the true meaning of separation of church and state.” The clip ended and went back to the smug SOB and he wished a Merry Christmas to Jon Stewart.
Not to be out done, Stewart fired back. He asked Samantha -the girl who gave the joke - to come out, as Stewart could not remember them putting out this. And suddenly it becomes clear where Stewart is going with this. The comedian is obviously pregnant and looks due almost any minute. Upon reflection, if anyone was paying attention to the clip that O’Reilly played, Samantha was not pregnant. So this clip was at least a year old, long before the Billster began his War on Christmas.
The a few weeks later, O’Reilly was on Late Night with David Letterman, where the the host of the CBS show confronted O’Reilly about his War on Christmas. O’Reilly sited a school in Wisconsin that changed the lyrics to the classic Christmas song, Silent Night. That they “knocked out the words and told the kids to sing...” and O’Reilly rattles off this song, which is very different to the song I grew up with. Letterman felt, while a stupid move on the school’s part, was just, essentially, nothing; that he felt there was no threat, that, at most, these were isolated incidents and that O’Reilly and his cohorts at Fox “try make us think it’s a threat.”
Of course, Bill said David was wrong. And while Letterman admits he can not debate O’Reilly point to point on all thing, such as the US involvement in Iraq, Letterman did get the best line by telling O’Reilly that he felt that “60% of what you say is crap.”
Later its learned, that the lyric change to Silent Night mentioned by O’Reilly had nothing to with “secularization” or political correctness. The author of the song, a church going Christian, said that he used the theme music of the song and changed to the lyrics because they were preforming a play that involved a lonely Christmas Tree. He used the familiar music to help the kids understand the plight of this last tree.
So, O’Reilly and Fox took something out of context -along with the Comedy Central bit - and tried to pass it off as some kind of War on Christmas. And Letterman - with his comment -just pointed out that you cannot have a debate with a person who has no respect for facts and who continues to take things out of context.
So, just how much is Fox altering the facts to make its news seem “real?” And why do people devour this like a Christmas turkey?
What galls me the most, is that many Americans watch and get their news from O’Reilly and the duplicitous Fox Network -and just for the record, I think CNN is just as bad - and brilliant shows like Arrested Development gets cancelled, which was what this article was really going to be about.
In some ways, it does dovetail.
FOX announced that they will air the final four episodes in a two-hour block on Friday, February 10. While the show has suffered low ratings, FOX, in their infinite wisdom, does not seem to put it in a slot where anyone can see it. For February 10 is also the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics, which is always high rated. This will, rest absurdly, make sure the ratings for Arrested Development to be even lower than the 4.2 million it’s been averaging.
Today, FOX Entertainment president Peter Ligouri articulated what fans have known for some time, that it’s "highly unlikely" the series will see another season on FOX. And while there seems no wiggle room in that “highly unlikely”, he regrets the series, which won the best comedy Emmy in 2004, never found "the audience it deserved.”
Still, the network has not officially cancelled the show and will not confirm anything until after the network finalizes its fall slate, and begins assigning pilots. But, as posted a few weeks ago, when FOX does officially cancel the show, expect 20th Century Fox to shop the show to both the cable network Showtime or the broadcast network ABC, who’ve expressed interest in picking up the show.
Ligouri says he's not involved with any discussion about relocating the show, but "it is in fact a studio property. If there's interest at other networks, it's the studio's right and [creator Mitch Hurwitz's] right to move that on and put that up to bid."
The demise of the show -and even sadder if no network does pick it up -is a sad comment on the state of TV in general. The show is smarter than the average TV show and does not dumb down its scripts and pander to lowest common denominator. It expects -much like Gene Roddenberry did with Star Trek - its audience to have brains.
But, as its been pointed out, this type of intellectual humor is bad. And -to some extreme - even bad for the US of A. Some how, being smart, understanding that what is printed in the papers, what’s broadcast on TV is not the complete truth. Its slanted to pander to American’s who cannot read for themselves and cannot find information that is out there.
I realize that America presidency was hijacked by religious zealots, also. That the Right -in what all I can say was a brilliant strategy - bussed these religious fanatics to the voting booths and basically let them pull the lever for the wrong man, wanting some kind of “good Christian,” I guess to a good president.
And with the recent wiretapping issue, President Bush -like Kenneth Lay who has convinced himself that stole no money from Eron or its investors - he thinks he’s done nothing illegal and the Republican controlled Congress backs him up.
And if someone steps up and calls him on his illegal maneuvers, he has the gall to say they are “helping the enemy.” I believe however, this hurts the enemies. It shows that America is still an honest democracy, that we are a people of honesty and that we will and can admit we make mistakes and are willing to correct them.
On one blog I read from New York, he said Bush is leading the country into a oligarchy -a small group of people who have control of the state. And that is something I can agree with.
I cannot say that nothing can be done, but I fear people like George Bush, Bill O’Reilly and Fox News will continue to manipulate the news to show the world how great they are and how Bush believes he has “divine right” to do what he does. And believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.
Anyway, in conclusion, watch the final episodes of Arrested Development on February 10 and pray to what ever TV God you believe in that someone half intelligence still works in Hollywood. Because while I know it’s a business and the networks are in it for the money, sometimes its more illogical to stick with a show that shows that not all Americans think American Idol is quality TV.

12 January 2006

Sci Fi Channel will air the new Doctor Who

It took nearly a year, but the new Doctor Who TV series will finally be aired here in America. In a new deal, the Sci Fi Channel (a division of NBC/Universal) has picked up the first season of the new show that starred Christopher Eccleston as the ninth Doctor and Billie Piper as companion Rose. The cable net announced it will begin airing the show in March, most likely beginning on the 17th, after the March 10 season finales of Stargate: SG1, Stargate: Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica. The show then would air for 13 weeks leading into the summer premiers of all three shows.

This now explains why the DVD release here in the States was delayed from its original February 14th announcement . However, since the show has already aired in Canada, it appears the show will make that previous release date. So, fans here in the States still can get the show on Region 1 DVD, they’ll just have to order it from Amazon.ca, the Canadian version of the popular US retailer. Warner Bros. and BBC video have now moved the American DVD release of the show to July 4th.

One thing curious was the status of the TOS. My guess is one of the stumbling blocks that prevented the sale a year ago was that any network picking up the new version had to buy the TOS. And while there are many in America who have not seen every episode of the show, American’s still have a problem with black and white shows. The original series did not broadcast in color until John Pertwee -the third Doctor - debuted in 1970. And realistically, most Doctor Who fans in the States know of the show when Tom Baker was playing the famous Time Lord, and consider anything before him to be unwatchjable. So, it seems a good bet that to finally get a US distributor (and NBC/Universal was interested in at the time), the BBC most likely dropped that clause.

And what about the recent Christmas episode of the series and its impending second season launch this spring with 10th Doctor David Tennant? Well, Sci Fi does have the option of picking up those shows (and could air them between the fall finales of their hit Friday night line-up), but ratings will be the barometer.

But while we’ll have to wait until July for the American DVD release, I am pleased that the show is coming to broadcast TV. It’s just about time, though.

10 January 2006

New Doctor Who delayed

So, I was kind of excited that the BBC was reversing their decision to release the new Doctor Who on DVD here in the States. They had already said that they were going to put the region 1 version on sale in Canada -because the CBC was also airing the show - on February 14. And after not finding a network -cable or broadcast - to air the show here, they said that they would also let Americans have it on that same day.

Now, for weeks, I've been watching and waiting for the Amazon.com to actually put the set on pre-order. But every time I went there, I saw this:

Availability: NOT YET RELEASED: The studio is currently not producing this title, but to be notified when it is available, enter your e-mail address at right. You'll also be voting for this release; we'll let the studio know how many customers are waiting for this title.

So, I went to the Canadian version of Amazon, but saw they didn't even post a thing about the release.

And now I know why. Thanks to tvshowsondvd.com, I discovered that the DVD release will be delayed here and most likely in Canada. No reason -as of yet - has been given for this delay, however there are two potential scenerios: 1), maybe that there is some manufacturing problem that is causing this change. 2), it is possible that a US sale of the show is near, and the release will be suspended as not to interfere with its sale.

I'm sure in the next few days, we'll have a clear picture. But, its still a disappointment.

09 January 2006

The WB will launch Aquaman this fall.

His name is Will Toale. And if everything goes right -and why should it not with those looks - this new, brightly shiny guy with the new car smell will take on the role of Aquaman for the WB. And while the WB has a tendency to hire these way too beautiful men to play teenagers (hello, Tom Welling) Toale will play closer to his real age, which is 28.

Variety reported the news which is found via AquamanTV.com. "In the search for Aquaman, we saw over 400 people in England, Australia, Canada and several U.S. cities," series co-creator Alfred Gough told Variety. "We saw Will's tape over Christmas, and he was the only guy we took to the network. We call him 'the much-maligned Aquaman,' but when we first pitched Smallville, Superman was considered cheesy," Gough said. "In the comic, Aquaman's the lost king of Atlantis, but in our version, he is Arthur Curry, this twentysomething who owns a dive shop."

The writers sold the Aquaman pitch after a Smallville episode featuring the character -- played by one-time American Idol contestant Alan Ritchson -- drew strong ratings in October.

Little is known about Toale, but he was born in Florida, modeled (which must be a prerequisite for working on the WB) before landing a supporting role in A Streetcar Named Desire at Broadway's Roundabout Theater along with Natasha Richardson and John C. Reilly.

The pilot is expected to film this March in Miami, though there is no doubt the show will be picked up.

08 January 2006

Daniel's book of TV problems

I guess the biggest problem that the Christians have with The Book of Daniel is that the Jesus portrayed here makes no judgment call on any of Daniel and his families sins, for a lack of a better word. This Jesus says nothing to Daniel about his pill popping habit, except "I thought you were cutting back." He says nothing about the gay son, the drug selling daughter or the hot to trot son who thinks with his dick. And not a peep about Mom’s need to have a martini at the drop of the hat.

But, that, is not what I would expect of Jesus, to be honest with you all. Sure, maybe a nudge here, a sly comment maybe, but Jesus - I’m assuming - is not going to judge me. That is -if there is something beyond this mortal coil - God’s territory.

I want to believe that there is something beyond this human existence. I remember back at the turn of the millennium, when a science guy was explaining in the grand scheme of the Earth’s existence, humans are a minor blimp on its course through the cosmos. It got me to thinking -and still does 6 years later - that I hope there is something - a heaven or a paradise - beyond here, and not like my brother who thinks this is it; that once you die, you become worm food. While there is some logical thought to it, that we are only here a short time and our only goal should be to reproduce and die out, like any other species on Earth.

However, through religion, we are told that there is a purpose for our existence, even beyond reproducing. Which is the heart of their argument about gays. Most gay men and women will not reproduce, which is an apparent sin in their eyes, vis through God. And their belief -and something they must cling to despite scientific evidence that supports it - that we gay people choose this "lifestyle."

The brain is a complex machine, and it will be decades or more before humans will fully map it, and in the end, it could still remain a mystery. This is not a liberal thought that persuades me that I did not choose this life. I know this is who I am. God, in His infinite wisdom, made me this way. How do I know? I don’t know, it’s just something that I feel with in every fiber of my being. It’s not like I convinced myself that this who I should be. My brain responds in a different way when dealing with men and females. Sure, I can appreciate the beauty of a woman, but they certainly don’t crank the engine.

Since they don’t, for some religious leaders, it is the evidence that I am sick, depraved, and given into the flesh. It’s like a Christian reviewer by the name of Jeffrey Oversteet gave his opinion on Brokeback Mountain on his site called closer look. Basically, while he liked the film from its technical style, his views on the subject matter became a cold, and calculated dissertation on sin.

"Brokeback Mountain" he writes, "is a film in which all kinds of people engage in all manner of wrongdoing. Yes, there are two men who hastily plunge into an intimate sexual bond, and as a result, their relationship narrows to become an unhealthy sexual obsession rather than a flourishing friendship and love — they become enslaved to their lust, and it disrupts the rest of their lives."

Which is true, from a perspective. And while even I can accept that - as he says in his personal beliefs -that "there is meaning in design, and that men and women were designed for each other in quite obvious ways, that the union of two fundamentally different sexes is the fulfillment of a purpose, and that the union of man and woman often bears fruit is a sign of that blessing."

I also -in my personal beliefs - that there is a randomness in everything and gay people are part of that randomness. That not everything is what its suppose to be. Humans are flawed creatures, and we do make choices that are not healthy for us. But while it would be nice to have a chorus of people to bounce issues of every time we need to make even a minor decision, we generally go with our first thoughts. Sometimes it works, other times it fails.

Of course, in the context of the film Brokeback Mountain, its time setting prevented these men from having a healthy life. They created a duplicitous world which is wrong. They ended up hurting themselves and their loved ones. But, again, the 60s was still a difficult time to be gay and as history has proven, it is thousands times more difficult in small towns and where religious activity drives people further into their own personal Hells.

Today, despite what religious leaders will lay claim to, being gay is more easy. Still, we have seen that these "leaders" can cause problems.

Such as Rev. Donald Wildmon, who is the chairman of the American Family Association. He did not sit through an episode of The Book of Daniel. Instead, just based on the promotional material and articles in trade magazines, he passed judgment on this show. It was attacking Christianity, and that would portray Jesus in "very unconventional"

But what I saw, while not Eric Camden of 7th Heaven, was a person caught up in all sorts of "TV problems." No family has this much going on, but that is what drama is all about. Most of 7th Heavens drama came from their kids - and outsiders - mistakes. Eric and his wife were -unlike a lot of parents I’ve known - so good and perfect. I posted earlier that the biggest problem with shows like 7th Heaven (and others like Highway to Heaven and Touched By an Angel) was that their stories became simplistic and were generally resolved by the end of the hour. It was as if they knew their metaphor was too complex, so they had to quickly resolve it, loess the viewing audience begins to think.

The Book of Daniel is not perfect, as I see no reason to continue to bring up Adam being Asian. Yeah, I understand that some exposition is needed in the pilot of a show, but I felt it was unnecessary, along with the mentioning he was adopted. It was obvious.

Is the show stereotypical? Yes, by goodness. Does that make it bad? No. I think all people have to realize that when the bright light of day is shown in all our hidden corners, we have things people don’t want to see. I can believe that there could be a pill popping priest out there, as much as I can accept that there could be a mother so overwhelmed by grief over the death of a son from leukemia that she needs a few dink to get through the day.

Still, while I guess its possible, I did find the female bishop, Beatrice Congreve (played by the impeccable Ellen Burysten) and the father of Daniel (Bishop Bertrum) a bit hypocritical -especially after the dinner sequence when the grandfather was quizzing Peter (the gay son) on why he was not seeing girls. I mean hey, his wife may have Alzheimer, but sleeping around with another women will seem just as bad as Peter being gay (at least in the context of Bible).

The other thing that bothered me was Grace’s passion for manga. I see no real good reason for her to do what she did, as having the talent to draw should not be considered a sin. Sure, historically, artists have always had a burden of no one understanding their passion. But as accepting as the family is of so many things -like no one realizes that Daniel is addicted to Vicodin or that nobody -including the maid - sees that Judith drinks too much, the gay son -that they would have problems with Grace drawing manga seems stupid.

And I won’t even touch the Catholic priest and the mob connection. Jebus, as Homer Simpson would say.

Still, we are a society divided not by important issues like food, environment, taxes, homelessness, health care and what not. No, what drives this United States is sexuality and abortion. Two important issues, in some respects, but ones that do not deserve the huge pie of problems we have.

Ronald Reagan helped dumb down America in the 80s with his blending of fact and fiction (and author Richard Reeves notes in his new biography of Reagan, that the former president "believed that a story repeated five times became truth", a dangerous idea that we still live with today). Religious leaders continue to do this today, going after "regular" Americans, as they call them, using fear, hatred and intimidation to accomplish goals that are in no way Christian. Entertainers like Pat Robertson and FOX News are shock jocks, just another form of Howard Stern they attack due to his ability to talk to people in a clear, no bullshit sort of way.

Wildmon attacked Daniel before he saw it, which just lessens my opinion of him. How many times have we been told not to judge things, people, until we "walk a mile in their shoes?" Sure, now that the show has aired, I expect him to condemn it even more.

But at least his opinion will mean something now.

The Book of Daniel does have flaws, but it also tries to show a more realistic look at a family. As I said, no family is that dysfunctional, but it also not far out of being impossible, either. TV is a great medium to explore these possible family situations. If they were perfect or if they resolved every thing in an hour, it does betray the non-fantasy aspect of the show.

To a certain point, I will try to ignore the more stereotypical aspects of the show, but underling the whole concept is that this is all a possibility. If life was like 7th Heaven, while that would be nice and all, it would also be boring.

Someday, I will talk about my sister-in-law. She is a sweet girl, but who was brought up so sheltered from the real world, that she sees everything in absolutes; all black and white. Even my dad, who was a hairs breath from becoming a priest, disagrees with her "moral" compass.
It will be a hoot.

05 January 2006

Book of Daniel causes 2 NBC affiliates to drop show. Sigh.

Declaring he has never seen 7th Heaven or Joan of Arcadia (a drama that had God revealing himself to a high school girl in a variety of human visions), The Book of Daniel creator Jack Kenny insists his show isn't about religion."This is about a family," he told the Associated Press."The fact that Daniel is a (Episcopalian) priest is secondary. The church is the backdrop. This is no more about religion than Six Feet Under was about mortuaries."

However, burdening Daniel with a Vicodin habit, a gay son, a wife who drinks to hide her feelings about her dead son, another son who is bedding every girl he sees and a daughter who sells pot to make extra money is putting off some NBC affiliates."Daniel faces the same relatable problems that every father has to deal with," says Kenny. "And if the problems seem heightened because of what he does for a living, then that just raises the stakes. And that makes better drama."

So, once again, there are people on the Right are passing judgment on something they’ve yet to see. There is a man named Rev. Donald Wildmon, who is the chairman of the American Family Association who have been “attacking shows” that he disagrees with since the 1970s. He is using his web site to send e-mails to NBC Universal chairman Bob Wright complaining about The Book of Daniel. Wildmon is assailing NBC, also, for its very unconventional inclusion of Jesus himself, who is depicted in Daniel as having regular conversations with the priest.

Someone wrote that most Christian critic are quick to condemn a film or TV show because they object to certain “lifestyles” of its characters. But they also seem quick to judge anything that does not show a pious existence of Christianity. And to further show that people can be misguided, two NBC affiliates will pre-empt the Jan. 6 premiere of Daniel. KARK-TV of Little Rock, Ark., told TV Guide Online that it ordered the pre-emption after "careful consideration" of viewer feedback. But WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Ind., said the decision has little to do with the series itself, according to The Hollywood Reporter. WTWO-TV said it would pre-empt Daniel to protest what the station views as the network's strong-arm approach to affiliates, as well inconsistent federal oversight of indecent content, the trade paper reported. Also, like the silly lambs they are, people have been calling and sending e-mails, at the AFA’s urging mind you, to NBC objecting to the series. But NBC stands by the show.

Again, beyond a few critics, no one has seen this show. So talk about judging a book by its cover.

"I think it's a pretty down-the-middle, wholesome show," says Aidan Quinn, in the AP article. ”I honestly don't think it's going to be nearly as controversial as some people may now be afraid of. It just has the courage to deal with some of the real issues that go in on people's lives."

"He is caught up in the modern malady of extreme busyness and stress," Quinn says. "But he can have moments of great lucidity and humor, and he cherishes his moments of quiet in the church, and in prayer.” Quinn adds that “ he’s a good man who wants to do right by his family and flock, keep up necessary appearances, and cleanse his soul." Communing with his inner self takes the form of those tete-a-tetes with Jesus -- a loving, good-humored comrade whose robes-and-beard style stands apart in the starchy, posh suburb just outside New York City.

The Book of Daniel is created by Jack Kenny, who was the executive producer of the sketch-comedy series Wanda at Large the creator of Titus, producer of Caroline in the City, and a staff writer on Dave's World. He wrote the pilot on spec, and according to him, “it took on a life of its own."

A gay man raised in the Catholic Church, Kenny says he drew on the WASP-y, emotionally guarded family of his life partner. "Michael," he says of his mate, "came from a world that is all about what is not said -- the hidden meaning in the words and sentences."

Meanwhile, WTWO's web site says it's pulling the show "due to e-mails and calls from viewers." In a statement, station general manager Duane Lammers says, "Our relationship with NBC always provided for the right to reject programming. I am reaffirming that right to let them know I will not allow them to make unilateral decisions affecting our viewers." He also takes a shot at the current regulatory climate in television: "I want to draw attention to the worst offenders of indecency on television -- the cable industry, which faces no decency regulations, nor a license renewal."

The affiliates' pulling of Daniel and the AFA's campaign against the show has not surprisingly drawn the fire of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. "It doesn't surprise me that the American Family Association would be afraid of this series -- it shows a family that's both deeply religious and loving and accepting of their gay son," says Damon Romine, entertainment media director for GLAAD.

It’s all about drama folks. 7th Heaven was more fantasy than anything, with all its problems wrapped up neat and tight. But it’s stories could never get really complex, if only because you could easily see the holes in their metaphors. Joan of Arcadia was great, because it did attempt to show a more realistic teenager with family problems. And even though the show had that same problem of neatly wrapping up everything in a so unrealistic way, it had it charms. The show did try to go in a different direction in season 2, only to find people wanted the same.

That was sad to see.

The Book of Daniel will use religion as a jumping board for other dramas in a family. While all might not be realistic, but no family is perfect including the family of Episcopalian priests.

04 January 2006

Futurama to return?

In what could be only considered a late Christmas present, word has come from Variety that 20th Century Fox is in early discussions to bring back Futurama, the FOX animated show that ran from 1999 to 2003.

Like Family Guy, which was cancelled by FOX and then found a new life on DVD and The Cartoon Network so it was revived, the Matt Groening created series is seeing the same thing happening to it. Since its departure from FOX in 2003, the show has found a new life -and, more importantly - new fans, due to the DVD’s and repeated high-rated airings on CN (and to prove there is still life in those repeats, Comedy Central has stolen the show from CN and will begin airing them in 2008).

Despite winning three Emmy’s (including one for Best Animated Show in 2002), the show had a nomadic life on the network, with short seasons and late launches (the show ran five seasons, though technically only four were produced). With those long gaps between airings, the show never scored new fans beyond the ones who already adored the show.

In the meantime, the studio is interested in creating a “limited number” on new episodes, though at this early date, its too soon to know where they will air. Plus, they will have to negotiate with series voice stars Billy West (Fry), Katey Segal (Leela) and John DiMaggio (Bender) and the production team that produced the show.

01 January 2006