Friday, June 27, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
Carlin started doing stand-up comedy in the early '60s and had fashioned a successful career by the middle of the decade: a short-haired performer with skinny ties, well known to TV audiences for his sharp parodies of commercials and fast-talking DJs and a "hippy dippy weatherman." But as he watched the protest marches of the late '60s and absorbed the new spirit of the counterculture, Carlin decided that he was talking to the wrong audience, that he need to change his act and his whole attitude.
So he grew long hair and a beard and began doing different kinds of material — about drugs and Vietnam and America's uptight attitude toward language and sex. Fans of the old George Carlin weren't ready for it. Carlin got thrown out of Las Vegas twice for material that today would seem tame (one offending routine was about his own "skinny ass"). At the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, Wis., he so riled up a conservative crowd with his jokes about Vietnam that he nearly caused an audience riot. Even Johnny Carson banned him as a Tonight show guest for a time because of his reputation as a drug abuser.
But by the early '70s Carlin had completed a remarkable change, opened up a new audience for stand-up comedy and helped redefine an art form. Like Lenny Bruce — whom he idolized and who helped him get his first agent — Carlin saw the stand-up comic as a social commentator, rebel and truthteller. He challenged conventional wisdom and tweaked the hypocrisies of middle-class America. He made fun of society's outrage over drugs, for example, pointing out that the "drug problem" extends to middle-class America as well, from coffee freaks at the office to housewives hooked on diet pills. He talked about the injustice of Muhammad Ali's banishment from boxing for avoiding the draft — a man whose job was beating people up losing his livelihood because he wouldn't kill people: "He said, 'No, that's where I draw the line. I'll beat 'em up, but I don't want to kill 'em.' And the government said, 'Well, if you won't kill people, we won't let you beat 'em up.'"
Most famously, he talked about the "seven words you can never say on television," foisting the verboten few into his audience's face with the glee of a classroom cut-up and the scrupulousness of a social linguist. While his brazen repeating of the "dirty" words caused a sensation (and prompted a lawsuit that eventually made it to the Supreme Court, resulting in the creation of the "family hour" on network television), his intention was not just to shock; it was to question our irrational fear of language "There are no bad words," said Carlin. "Bad thoughts. Bad intentions. And woooords."
Fuzzy language and fuzzy thinking were always among Carlin's favorite topics. He marveled at oxymorons like "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence," and pointed out the social uses of euphemism: "When did 'toilet paper' become bathroom tissue'? When did house trailers become 'mobile homes'?" He reminisced about his class-clown antics and Catholic upbringing in the rough Morningside Heights section of New York City. He took on all the taboos, even the biggest one, God. How could the Almighty be all-powerful, mused Carlin, since "everything he ever makes ... dies."
In the 1970s Carlin was selling out college concerts, releasing bestselling records (his breakthrough 1972 album, FM & AM, spent 35 weeks on the Billboard pop charts, revitalizing a comedy-record business that had fallen on hard times). When NBC introduced a new late-night comedy show in 1975 called Saturday Night Live, Carlin was the comedian they turned to as the first guest host. And when HBO began rolling out its influential series of "On Location" comedy concerts, Carlin was among its most popular stars, headlining a record 14 one-man shows for the network, the last just a few months ago.
Carlin was a product of the counterculture era in lifestyle as well as comedy. His drug use became so heavy in the mid-'70s that it began to affect his health (he had a heart attack in 1978, the start of heart problems that eventually killed him) and his career as well. "I really wasn't being as creative," Carlin admitted years later. "I lost years. I could have been a pole vaulter in those years, and instead I was kind of like doing hurdles."
But in the early '80s, after kicking his drug habit, he revived his career, becoming a kind of curmudgeonly uncle, with small-bore "observational" humor and an aphoristic style. Then, in the '90s, he tacked back to harder-edged political material, railing against everything from the environmental movement to the middle-class obsession with golf. Even in his late '60s, Carlin could be as perceptive on the cliches and buzzwords of the era as ever: "I've been uplinked and downloaded. I've been inputted and outsourced, I know the upside of downsizing, I know the downside of upgrading. I'm a high-tech lowlife. A cutting-edge, state-of-the-art, bicoastal multitasker, and I can give you a gigabyte in a nanosecond..."
Carlin's material grew increasingly dark in later years, to the point where he was cheerleading (with only a trace of irony) for mass suicide and ecological disaster. "I sort of gave up on this whole human adventure a long time ago," he said a couple of years ago. "Divorced myself from it emotionally. I think the human race has squandered its gift, and I think this country has squandered its promise. I think people in America sold out very cheaply, for sneakers and cheeseburgers. And I don't think it's fixable."
But Carlin's career, and his comedy, was anything but a downer. He was unique among stand-ups of his era in remaining a top-drawing comedian for more than 40 years, with virtually no help from movies or TV sitcoms. His influence can be seen everywhere from the political rants of Lewis Black to the "observational" comedy of Jerry Seinfeld. He showed that nothing — not the most sensitive social issues or the most trivial annoyances of everyday life — was off-limits for smart comedy. And he helped bring stand-up comedy to the very center of American culture. It has never left.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
While Amanda Peet, fresh off the X-Files: I want to Believe set, has landed the female lead role in Roland Emmerich's movie 2012, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton and Oliver Platt are in talks to fill roles in the disaster epic film.
The story revolves around a global cataclysm and the heroic struggle of the survivors. John Cusack plays a divorced father trying to become a writer while holding a job as a limo driver.
Peet is playing Cusack's ex-wife, newly married to wealthy, Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Glover is in talks to play the president, with Newton in discussions to play his daughter. Platt is in negotiations to play the president's chief of staff.
Emmerich is directing a script he penned with his 10,000 BC co-writer Harald Kloser (Seems they like movies with years in the title). He is serving as an exec producer with Michael Wimmer and Ute Emmerich. Barring an actors strike the movie will shoot in July, with a planned release date of July 10, 2009.
2012 was shopped around with a $200 million budget, but Columbia said it will be made for less than that.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Amanda Seyfried of the recently completed Mamma Mia said she really hopes to land the role of Alice, but then what role would Johnny Depp play, the Mad Hatter?
Tim Burton is set to begin work on a live, 3D action version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for Disney. The films release date has already been set for March 05, 2010.
Amanda had this to say to The DailyMail:
‘she whispers. ‘Tim Burton’s shooting Alice in Wonderland in London and I think I’m a real candidate for that. I mean, I’m not even close [to being cast] and it’s very far away, but I want it really badly because I respect him so much as a director. He likes weird-looking people for his movies,’ she grins, ‘so I’m really hoping. Plus it would mean coming back to London. I’m a real Brit at heart. I even want my child to be British!’
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Victoria's own Atom Egoyan has set his next project as a writer-director: Seven Wonders, a love triangle that blends reality and fantasy.
The project centers on a woman named Pandora who, after her own relationship goes south, becomes consumed by a relationship between a commercials director and the director's boyfriend, even following the helmer as she shoots commercials at the Seven Wonders of the World.
"It's an intimate story that I think can be harnessed on a larger canvas," Egoyan said. "The Seven Wonders are an escape from our lives, places where we can believe in something larger."
Continuing Egoyan's recent interest in technology -- a topic that figures in his recent Festival de Cannes premiere Adoration -- the two women of Wonders meet online, leading to ambiguity over whether some of the interactions might be taking place only in Pandora's imagination.
The director will produce Wonders through his Toronto-based Ego Film Arts.
With its exotic locations, the budget is likely to be higher than it would be for a traditional Egoyan film. Several financing options are said to be under consideration.
In addition to Wonders, Egoyan -- who was nominated for an Oscar for best director and best adapted screenplay for The Sweet Hereafter and exec produced Sarah Polley's 2007 directorial debut Away From Her -- is considering one of several projects based on others' scripts. He also is set to direct Eh Joe at New York's Lincoln Center this summer, based on Samuel Beckett's play, and Adoration, slated for release by Sony Pictures Classics, has yet to receive a release date.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Corey Feldman returns to familiar turf in the Warner Premiere event, Lost Boys 2: The Tribe, the direct-to-DVD sequel to the 1987 cult hit The Lost Boys that also features his fellow Frog Brother, Jamison Newlander, along with Tad Hilgenbrink, Autumn Reeser and Angus Sutherland.
Principal photography began in late August 2007, on location in Vancouver, BC, under the direction of P.J. Pesce. This sequel takes us to the shady surf city of Luna Bay, California, where vampires quickly dispatch anyone who crosses their path. Into this dark world arrive Chris Emerson (Hilgenbrink) and his younger sister, Nicole (Reeser). Having just lost their parents in a car accident, the siblings move in with their eccentric Aunt Jillian and become new prey for the locals’ way of life. When Nicole unwittingly falls for a local vampire, Chris must locate and destroy the gang’s lifeline before his sister’s transformation is complete; to do this Chris finds himself relying on the expertise of none other than Edgar Frog (Feldman). Subtle references to characters from the original film, and cameos from returning actors offer homage to the Lost Boys legend and set a sinister tone of impending doom.
“Last year when Warner Premiere (a direct to DVD division of Warner Bros.) was established, we knew we wanted to engage with fans of The Lost Boys and have this title on our slate because the original is a favorite film of so many people,” said Nelson. “With Hans Rodionoff’s strong script, and PJ onboard to direct, we were able to realize this project quickly, casting up-and-coming talent like Autumn, Tad and Angus, as well as key players from the original with Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander returning as the infamous Frog Brothers. We have tremendous respect for Joel Schumacher’s original film and are striving to maintain the tone and integrity of the original, while offering something fresh to old and new fans alike.”
Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander are set to reprise their original roles of Edgar and Alan Frog, respectively, in the vampire-centric sequel. Feldman shot to fame in the mid 1980’s starring in a number of successful films like The Goonies, and Stand By Me. Following the success of The Lost Boys, Feldman also had a successful run with several television and music projects. Currently, Feldman is headlining a reality series on A&E called The Two Coreys, with former Lost Boys co-star Corey Haim.
“I am truly excited to be on board for this sequel,” says Feldman. “After reading the latest script I genuinely believe we can deliver a sequel the fans can sink their teeth into. I also commend Warner Premiere on their choice to include Jamison Newlander. Edgar Frog has been laying in wait for 20 years to stake some more vampires and that is exactly what he intends to do with his brother Alan by his side.”
Jamison Newlander is back as Alan Frog, the other half of the vampire-slaying Frog brothers, in the sequel. Newlander most recently wrote, directed, starred in and produced a comedy short called The Rooster.
Autumn Reeser stars as Nicole, a teenager who moves to Northern California and finds herself entangled with a gang of vampires. Reeser most recently starred on Fox’s hit teen drama The O.C. Her additional television credits include It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Cold Case, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Grounded for Life and George Lopez. Reeser also appeared in The Girl Next Door, opposite Elisha Cuthbert and Emilie Hirsch.
Tad Hilgenbrink portrays Nicole’s brother, Chris, who – along with his sister – falls in with the dangerous gang of vampires. Hilgenbrink is best known for his role as Matt Stifler in American Pie Presents: Band Camp. He was most recently seen in the horror film 30 Days of Night.
Angus Sutherland, half-brother of Lost Boys star Kiefer Sutherland, stars as the leader of the gang of surfing vampires, echoing Kiefer’s ‘David’ from the original film. Sutherland appeared on the CBS political drama Commander in Chief and will next be seen in Familiar Strangers, due out later this year.
Screenwriter Hans Rodionoff is no stranger to the vampire genre, as writer and director of 1998’s Sucker: The Vampire.
Monday, June 02, 2008
The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory team of director Tim Burton, actor Johnny Depp, and screenwriter John August are now working on a big screen version of the cult-classic TV series Dark Shadows.
Burton will direct/produce, Depp will star, and August will write the script. Depp would play the lead role of vampire patriarch Barnabas Collins, played on the original 1966-71 series by Jonathan Frid and in a short-lived 1990s revival by Ben Cross.
John August also wrote Big Fish, and Corpse Bride for Buton and Dark Wonderland for American McGee and Wes Craven.
As he was wrapping shooting on Sweeney Todd, Depp came into possession of the rights to Dark Shadows last year for his Infinitum-Nihil Productions set up at Warner Bros.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
A three alarm fire is currently blazing on Universal Studios back lot.
One injury to a fireman has been reported, assumed to be smoke related. The blaze had destroyed several film sets, including mock-ups of New York and New England streets.
Los Angeles County fire inspector Daryl Jacobs said at least one building had burned down, and as many as three blocks of film sets were consumed by flames. There was at least one explosion.Over 200 firefighters are working to ensure the flames don't spread to nearby brush, but are having some problems with water pressure. Two firefighting helicopters are dropping water onto the burning structures.
Universal Studios spokesman Elliot Sekuler said the theme park would open today, though the studio tour sites and other attractions, such as the King Kong ride, have been damaged by the blaze. **EDIT** Visitors who had waited for hours outside the park gates were turned away after officials decided not to open the area.
Filming was taking place where the fire broke out near sunrise, no further details were offered.
The MTV movie awards, hosted by Mike Myers, will broadcast live from Universal’s Gibson Amphitheater today at 5 p.m. PT without any interruptions expected from the now under control blaze.
This time around, thousands of videos chronicling Universal's movie and TV shows were destroyed in the blaze. But Universal officials said that they were thankful no one was seriously injured at the theme park and that the damaged footage can be replaced.
"We have duplicates of everything," said Ron Meyer, NBC Universal president and chief operating officer. "Nothing is lost forever." Meyer estimated there were 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels in a video vault that burned but said duplicates were stored in a different location. Firefighters managed to recover hundreds of titles.
The videos included film that Universal has produced and footage from television series including Miami Vice and I Love Lucy.
Update 1 @ 8:59am
Update 2 @ 9:38am
Update 3 @ 10:07am
Just like the series, the film will be populated by a mix of human characters and Fraggle Rock puppets. TWC co-chair Harvey Weinstein, who has been steering his company more aggressively into the family film arena, made the marriage with Lisa Henson, who runs JHC with her co-CEO brother, Brian Henson.
Cory Edwards, who directed the animated Hoodwinked! for TWC, will helm the picture and write the screenplay. The Jim Henson Co. will produce and TWC will distribute.
Ahmet Zappa will be exec producer with Brian Inerfeld.
The film will take the core characters Gobo, Wembley, Mokey, Boober and Red outside of their home in Fraggle Rock, where they interact with humans, which they think are aliens. The show premiered on HBO in 1983, ran five seasons and was broadcast in more than 80 countries.
Alternative culture icon Emily the Strange is headed to the big screen, with Dark Horse Entertainment president Mike Richardson coming on board to produce a feature film that would tell the origin of the Gothic figure and her cats.
Richardson's connection to Emily comes from the comic book line Dark Horse publishes. The company began publishing the title in 2005, with Emily the Strange #1: Chairman of the Bored, which was followed by several other popular miniseries.
Skateboarder Rob Reger created the character among a multitude of designs he was printing up for stickers, T-shirts and skateboards in Santa Cruz in the early 1990s. The Emily design took off, with Reger's company, Cosmic Debris, going on to become a multimillion dollar business with toeholds in fashion, books and comics, toys, school supplies, and accessories. The character, often seen with four cats, has also become a figure for female empowerment and anti-conformity. Reger has remained the creative director behind the character and is one of several artists who work on Emily.
"Emily herself is very appealing little girl, there's an edge to her," Richardson said. "There is something very alluring to her image; people see it and respond to it immediately."
Richardson, who's been a producer on such films as Hellboy and its upcoming sequel as well as 30 Days of Night, said he and Reger will be looking for a filmmaker who "gets the character." The filmmaker choice will dictate what format will serve the story best, be it live-action, animation, or a combination of the two. The project is not yet set-up at a studio, though Universal is a contender as Dark Horse has recently a first-look deal there.
The story line is being kept under wraps, though Reger, who concocted it, said it will offer up some backstory and will feature Emily's four cats -- troublemaker Sabbath, schemer Nee-Chee, imaginative Miles and leader Mystery. It will also have 13 new characters with names like Earwig, Umlaut, McFreeley and Officer Summers. The story forms the basis of an Emily young adult novel, which will be published next year by HarperCollins.