'Naught For Hire' – SF Detective

Naught_PosterAccording to SFX , Ben Browder (FARSCAPE, STARGATE: SG-1) is set to star in NAUGHT FOR HIRE, a web series based on John E. Stith’s (Redshift Rendezvous) SF detective stories.
Nick Naught is a private detective in the relatively near furture, a 1930’s throw-back with a well-earned distrust of the semi-sentient machines that complicate his life and work.
Jennifer Sky (CLEOPATRA 2525) will play Annette Taylor, investigative reporter and Naught’s old flame . Juliet Landau (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) is set to voice Precious, the detective’s fiercely protective AI car/secretary, while Chase Masterson (DEEP SPACE NINE) will portray  Maxine McCormick, the CEO of the company that created the “smart chips” that make the technology self-aware —or close enough.
Producer Jeffery Berman (THE WRITE ENVIRONMENT)  says the mystery-comedy will shoot this summer, but no date has been set as to where and when the ccliff-hanging webisodes will debut.

“I can’t say too much about it just yet, but I like to think that if you put out a good product an audience will find it. What’s great about a project like NAUGHT FOR HIRE  is that it appeals to a large demographic. By airing it on the web, we don’t have to worry about a niche broadcast channel that only airs Science Fiction or Comedy or Drama. We can allow the story to dictate those choices, and not a network.”

The Nick Naught stories first appeared in Analog Science Fiction Magazine in the `90’s and two novelettes have been collected as a book, All For Naught, published by Wildside Press.

An earlier version of this article erroneously credited producer Jeffrey Berman with having worked on STAR WARRIORS, a direct-to-video film whose crew included another person of the same name.

Harry Knowles to run Famous Monsters.com

Congrats to Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News! He’s revealed that he’ll be running Famous Monsters.com for new owner Philip Kim.
HARRY_KNOWLES Knowles has been a devotee of the late Forrest J Ackerman, long-time genre fan, literary agent, and Editor of the original Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, the seminal Horror/Science Fiction publication. Aimed at youngsters, that magazine paved the way for all the genre magazines that came in its wake. You either tried to be like FM or proved you were different than Famous Monsters to make your mark.
What does the AICN guru have in mind for FM?

The types of articles will be different from what you see at AICN… And tonally different from most of what you see in the Horror Blog world. For one, FAMOUS MONSTERS wasn’t just about Horror. I’ve also been talking with a great deal of filmmakers and effects professionals about bringing you some very special content like only FAMOUS MONSTERS should bring us.
What you’ll see is a lot of PASSION for the classics, the faces and names behind the scenes that too often are ignored by a media that is fixated upon Big Stars & Big Directors and don’t celebrate the myriad of artists that contribute to the kind of work that made us geek out to that magazine. FAMOUS MONSTERS taught us to know the names of folks like Lon Chaney Sr, Jack Pierce, Paul Blaisdell, Bob Burns, Rick Baker, Stan Winston, Rob Bottin & on and on. We’ll look back at those and many more even as we focus to find the new creators of Famous Monsters – be they practical, digital or some unique form that I can barely understand.

And that sounds to me like he’s got a good grasp on the Famous Monsters tradition. Best of Luck!

New Green Hornet Pic, Interview

green_hornet_RogenSuperheroHype has an interesting, 5-page set visit and interviews about THE GREEN HORNET online.
Here’s a few excerpts from their interview with director Michel Gondry.
Regarding taking on the script:

What I liked was when I was asked again by Seth and Evan was that they bring back the spirit of the action comedy that I didn’t see for a while now.
There is a sleek and immenseness in the superhero movie that I am not really a big fan of. It’s very much about the attitude and everything is as to be a like super posed. As the approach of Seth and Evan was much human and fun of course.

And on the reality-shifting fight scenes:

I was trying to find a way to enhance the fight and use a technique that has not been used before. So basically we shoot at a higher rate. We shoot with one camera and then we separate and sometimes one guy is going faster and the other guy is going slower and then the guy who gets slower gets faster and etc.
It’s sort of like you buy a time from the future and then you have to reimburse it. So what it does is it really makes the transfer of energy when somebody hits somebody else so the guy who hits the next guy goes very fast and then the guy when he receives the hit he goes faster.

Read the entire article at the link above.

TREK Star in Web Series – Clip

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE’s Armin Shimerman (Quark) has been cast in the new science fiction web series ZIMM.
He’ll be playing Special Agent In Charge Ryan Sutherland, with NUMB3ERS’ Alimi Ballard as Agent Keith Clarkson.
Robyn Hyden (BLOOD AND ROSES) and Michelle Boyd (FLASHFORWARD) will be playing Bailey and Halley Zimm, respectively.
Seems to be an alien invasion premise, and is set to bow at Comic Con

“ZIMM is an original sci-fi, action-thriller created by Gregory Storm. Storm’s writing credits include The CW’s GIRLFRIENDS and ABC’s NIGHT STALKER.
Filmed in HD with a professional, high-caliber cinematic look, this explosive and fast-paced, multi-episode series will be like “24″ with aliens and a “Die Hard” attitude.
The series is executive produced by Maryam Storm and Gregory Storm of Storm Factory Entertainment.”

You can check out the Official Site HERE

'Bleach': Free Online

BLEACHtMovie_WVIZ Media announced that English-subtitled episodes from the most current story arc of BLEACH will begin streaming for free in the U.S. via the company’s premier website for anime, VIZAnime.com.
Starting today with Episode 275, VIZAnime.com will stream a new BLEACH episode one week after it has aired in Japan.

BLEACH is one of the most popular Japanese anime and manga properties in the world and this near simulcast schedule is part of VIZ Anime’s ongoing strategy to bring hit animated properties to a national audience via the web.
BLEACH is a popular manga and animated series (both rated ‘T’ for Teens), that follows the adventures of Ichigo, a 15-year old student with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters Rukia, a Soul Reaper, and inadvertently absorbs her powers. Now, he’s dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping tortured souls find peace.

CYBERSURFING: Did JAWS Ruin The Modern Blockbuster?

In a recent New York Times blog by Ross Douthat, the author provides his reaction to the assertion made by New York Magazine columnist David Edelstein that JAWS & STAR WARS ruined Hollywood. Mr. Douthat strongly defends the original summer blockbusters, stating that they are in no way to blame for the most recent lukewarm summer offerings. A 35-year old movie could not in any way be responsible for JONAH HEX, right?
JAWSYes and no. JAWS and STAR WARS were milestones in modern cinema, movies that drew in crowds and more than recouped their production costs. As studios are very interested in making lightning strike twice – or three or four times – Summer eventually became known as “Blockbuster” season, a time when Hollywood pulls out all the stops and tries to top themselves with even more outrageous fare. As time went on, the films that made it to the screen veered away from the basic foundations of good storytelling and focused more on the sensory aspect of the film. This provided a lowering of quality and a rise in quantity. And still, the audience came. The lack of accountability to provide a well-rounded experience spurred on the “More Is More” mentality, eventually leading to where we are today, with both studios and audience asking the same question but for different reasons – “What happened?”
Yet, despite the point that JAWS and STAR WARS may have kicked off this trend, it is in no way their fault. Both are solid films that focus on the sum rather than the parts, leaving them as pioneers that have a place firmly etched in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere. Rather than innovation, for years the audience has been subjected to imitation. We indulge this because we want to repeat that sense of awe and wonder and we are more often than not left feeling cheated out of our money instead. Yet Hollywood misinterprets this spending as a request for more of the same. So in turn, that is what they give us. It is the bottom line, not the film, which has spurred this on and to blame a successful movie for a bad one seems a tad shortsighted.
Besides, as Mr. Douthat points out, despite the flops that have been put in front of us, the last 35 years has seen a whole slew of now-classic films. These are the films that keep audiences coming back for more and for a while, the good outnumbered the bad. Unfortunately, the rule has now become the exception. Have hope though: this trend seems to be reaching a breaking point as studios flounder and audiences make their voices heard. We may very well be on the brink of a new age for movies. Let’s all hope it’s the start of a new “good old days”.

'Star Trek V' Shatner Mash-up

Found this little gem surfing over to TrekMovie.com. SHATNER OF THE MOUNT by Fall On Your Sword.

Apparently edited from one of the special features of the STAR TREK V:THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989) DVD.
And isn’t it about time Paramount let William Shatner do a Director’s Edition of that film?
By the Shatman’s own admission, STAR TREK V could realy use some improving, some of which there simply wasn’t enough time and money for when it was first released.
The whole ending had to be changed due to FX that just didn’t work. And the writers strike kinda kept them from doing more script tinkering.
It’s never going to be a silk purse, but even a sow’s ear can be fashioned into something useful.
By the way, William Shatner’s going to be directing his first documentary, which will be about — wait for it –William Shatner.
Nothing like getting an expert!

Cybersurfing: Hollywood's Future Rests In The Hands Of A Plastic Few

Toy Story 3In a New York Times article
titled “Hollywood Hopes Toy Story 3 Can Spur Summer Sales,” authors Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes discuss the movie industry and the recent decline in ticket sales. The discussion has been everywhere in entertainment news, having been sparked from the fact that this past Memorial Day weekend – generally one of the highest grossing during the summer – was the lowest it has been for years. The piece looks over the most recent theatrical releases and examines their expectations vs. where they eventually ended up in box office sales. Cieply and Barnes also touch on a number of points regarding the decline and the possible reasons behind it. And while they make several very interesting arguments, their impact is muted, as the article seems to drown in a sea of numbers. Much to its detriment, the key reasons behind the floundering of Hollywood are glossed over.

While mentioned briefly, the fact that perhaps those in the audience are a bit more intelligent and not quite the cattle studios believe them to be bears further examination. It is astounding to think that after decades of movie making, there is still a pervasive “Buyer Beware” attitude in Hollywood. Instead of innovation, it is imitation that still rules in movie land as studios take well-worn plots and redress them as the next big thing. While it is not impossible to take a cliché story and turn it into a fascinating film, it is impossible to pull off when no real effort is put into it. A prime example of this is the recent release of PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME. This property, based off of the video game of the same name, is rife with interesting plots, sub-plots, and characters, all of which could have been combined in any number of ways to bring an exciting and, more importantly, interesting film to the screen. But the studios – in this case Disney – opted for the quick buck, hoping that brand identity, star power, and over-the-top special effects would mask the fact that the film had no real substance. They KNEW the film had no real substance and yet, they were fine with that. They were happy to put it in a theater and ask you to pay $12.50 for the “honor” to see a movie that will most likely go straight to Netflix streaming in a month or two.
But this attitude can’t be placed entirely on the studio’s shoulders. We, the audience, are indeed partially to blame. Perhaps it is a genetic imprint left over from ‘20’s era Hollywood, a time when people had no choice in what to see at the movies. As time went on, studios started to offer more films per year and hence more choices, yet empty spectacle still drew in the crowds. Now, in modern times, we find ourselves at an impasse: The audience has evolved but the studios haven’t. We have seen greatness, those few movies that have made it through the system and come out as beacons of what could be. And we like it. But for the moviemakers, true greatness takes too much time and besides, there are quotas to meet and money to collect…why deviate from a good thing? What has worked in the past will work again, right?
In the end, the relationship between audience and studio must be mutually beneficial. In order for the studios to return to their former glory, they must provide the audience with the quality they demand. And in return, demand we must. It is easy to sit back and criticize studios for lazy filmmaking. But next time you do, keep in mind…they had to have gotten that idea from somewhere. And that somewhere is your wallet.

Christopher Nolan on 'Superman'

Ain’t It Cool News features a Q & A from Geoff Boucher’s L.A. Times Hero Complex Film Festival with Christopher Nolan, where the director’s INSOMNIA and THE DARK KNIGHT were screened.
As Nolan’s films tend to be dark, and about ‘haunted’ protagonists, why did he choose to produce a Superman film, a character often viewed as a very bright & pure figure?
His answer:

“…It’s something I’m doing as a producer. Obviously, I’m not directing it, but my involvement in it is quite specific.
While David Goyer and myself were wrestling with the story for another Batman film as we got stuck he said to me, kind of out of the blue one day, that he had a great idea for how to take on Superman.
I thought it was terrific and I just felt like I didn’t want it to not get done, so I went to the studio and said, ‘Let’s have a crack at this.’ That’s the nature of my involvement.”

Nolan further revealed that he found Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN inspirational; putting an fantasy heroic figure into a realistic setting.

“I literally pitched the studio my take on Batman by saying I wanted to make the Batman film that had never been made in 1978 or 1979.”

Cybersurfing: Salon seeks meaning in Torture Porn

SAW 2Earlier this week, Salon.com posted an interesting article regarding the recent trend in “Torture Porn” horror, in which films like SAW and HOSTEL show graphic depictions of mutilation and gore. Interviewee Thomas Fahy, the director of the American Studies Program at Long Island University, approaches the subject in a scholarly and insightful way, making valid and interesting points about underlying social commentary in the horror genre. However, there are a few points Mr. Fahy overlooked that deserve to be mentioned.
Not every reason for the success of these movies is related to some cultural relevance.
There is the very real possibility that, at the start of this whole thing, audiences were just flat-out bored with the same horror structure. The only twist ever added was that the good guy doesn’t get away. With the first SAW movie, people were shown something that made them squirm again, much as they did during the first horror movie they ever saw. Freddy putting a razor-tipped hand through someone’s chest had become old hat, but a man forced to saw through his leg to escape – the plausibility alone fascinated everyone. The continued success, despite the declining quality, could simply be a result of people being interested to see how the each new sequel will top the previous  one.
Should you want to delve into cultural significance, an alternative theory that at least applies to the American audience is the idea that our world has been turned upside down. From a cultural point of view, the last decade has shown not only a decline in the American image abroad, but also here at home. From being attacked, to the war and its subsequent fallout, to recession – we as a people find ourselves reeling and uncertain of where we will land. These torture porn films provide a focus for this feeling, showing characters trapped in dire situations – without understanding why – struggling to right the ship once more. The end may not be pretty, but there is sometimes a sense of hope that at least things can move on.
History Repeats Itself.
Despite the examples Mr. Fahy makes in the article, it can certainly be argued that the basic horror movie mores are still present. While it may be true that THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake has a female attacker, the fact remains that the victim is portrayed as a helpless girl who must be saved and avenged by her parents. Also, the recent remakes of famously violent horror films aren’t adding and expanding to the message of the originals. It is all about the money, playing off audience recognition of a famous title with the idea that, in today’s society, they can get away with more! And as said before, bloody curiosity may just get the better of moviegoers in that respect.
An important thing to consider is that these movies, for all of their twisted traps and diabolical deaths, are in no way pushing the genre forward. People will, as they did prior to the first SAW, get tired and move on to the next shtick. Torture porn may be here, but not for good.
SALON.COM (Original Article): http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2010/06/07/philosophy_of_horror_movies?source=newsletter
NYTIMES.COM: http://nymag.com/movies/features/15622/
SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE: http://www.spinetinglermag.com/2010/03/31/the-new-six-figure-torture-porn-industry/