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Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Video Peek Into Batman Gone Anime

The animated Batman DVD will look amazing, judging from the clips you can see in this promo reel. Batman: Gotham Knight will come out when Batman: The Dark Knight hits the big screen. Click through for details.

Sadly, the above video contains a few boring interviews, saying things like "Most of Batman's adventures take place at night." But the animation itself is great. The direct-to-DVD Batman anime is similar to The Animatrix, the DVD which tied in with Matrix sequels. Warners is also working on a version called Termination in tandem with Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins. The segments are written by Josh Olson, David Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Jordan Goldberg, and Alan Burnett, and will each have their own distinctive look. Just think of it as an animated version of Batman: Black and White except you know, with color.

In fact, it would really be worthwhile to see DC just hand over the reins to anime directors like Satoshi Kon, to see what they could do with characters ranging from Green Lantern to Captain Marvel. In fact, maybe the entire Justice League film that's been put on hold could be saved, just by making a big-budget anime version. As excited as we are about Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier DVD, it's still a very Western style of animation. Bring on the anime heroes.

Original here

FCC plan to let AM stations to use FM at night controversial

Almost everyone has signaled thumbs up on a Federal Communications Commission plan that would allow AM radio stations to duplicate their programming on FM translators. The formal comment period for the proceeding has concluded, but filings keep arriving. The latest came in on February 8th from Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (D-MD), endorsing the remarks of his constituent, Richard Gelfman, owner of Chestertown AM oldies station WCTR, "The Town."

"We strongly urged the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new rules which would allow daytime only stations such as ourselves to better serve local communities by granting the right to use FM translators (or any other means) to operate at night," Gelfman wrote. "As a matter of fact, without this ability, I do not believe that daytime AM stations can continue to survive."

Over 200 comments have been filed in this proceeding, most of them in favor of the idea. But several media reform groups have raised questions about the proposal, especially its impact on communities that hope to build Low Power FM (LPFM) stations in their area.

Filling in "coverage gaps?"

Many AM stations have to dramatically reduce their signal power at night because of "skywave propagation"—in the wee hours the AM frequency can hit the ionosphere and travel hundreds of miles beyond its designated local service area, causing interference. Unless the FCC has designated the station as a "clear channel" licensee, allowed to broadcast long distances at night, or permits it to operate on "flea power"—greatly reducing its signal—the station must shut down.

Since 1970, the Commission has limited the use of FM translators for extending the broadcasts of other FM stations. But in July of 2006, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) petitioned the FCC to allow AM stations to operate FM translators as well. The NAB argued that such a rule change would allow many of the nation's estimated 4,814 stations to fill in "coverage gaps" and provide more local programming.

"For instance," NAB wrote, "daytime stations that currently air tape-delayed coverage of the local high school's sporting events or a local political debate because they must turn off their transmitter at sundown, will now be able to do so live." NAB filings on this issue also point out that women and minorities have a significance presence in AM radio.

And so the Media Bureau of the FCC launched a 90-day proceeding on the question in early November of last year. Their proposal would allow FM translators as long as the night time service does not extend beyond a 25-mile radius of the AM site, or the daytime coverage area of the station, whichever is smallest.

A hodgepodge of smaller, locally-based AM station owners quickly wrote in to support the proposal, among them Virginia's Christian Broadcasting Service, which operates six AM stations, and a consortium of AM "daytimer station" groups in and around Kentucky led by Big River Radio, Inc. Many complain that they have lost audience to the iPod, and satellite and Internet radio. "All daytimer stations are at a competitive disadvantage, and generally cannot provide good nighttime service to their communities of license," the Big River group wrote to the FCC in early December.

Other station filings, such as Gelfman of WCTR's, extol the unique local coverage that they provide: high school and college sports, local government meetings, and agricultural weather forecasts. "In our town, Chesterton, there is one newspaper—a weekly—and we are the only other source of local news and events," Gelfman wrote. "Our service to our local community should not be so seriously limited by rules that require us, a vital community resource, to go off the air."

Giving to AM; taking from low-power FM

But a sympathetic filing submitted by Clear Channel Communications in January probably did not help the cause of these local broadcasters. Clear Channel owns 1,100 radio stations across the US and praised the plan as one that will "enhance competition, foster localism and promote diversity." Shortly after their comment came one of the few statements critical of the proposal, jointly filed by the LPFM advocacy group Prometheus Radio Project and the Media Access Project (MAP).

The Prometheus/Media Access comment reminds the FCC that not all AM stations provide local coverage to their communities; many, in fact do not at all. But the translator proposal could take spectrum space from potential LPFM license owners, whose applicants have to prove to the Commission that they enjoy an "established community presence" and are committed to "local program origination."

"Allocating FM spectrum to AM stations that may or may not provide local content is not an effective way to increase localism," Prometheus/MAP wrote to the Commission on February 4, "a more effective way to promote localism is to allocate spectrum to LPFM licensees who pledge a commitment to localism."

The FCC has launched another proceeding on operation and licensing rules for these community based, nonprofit stations, which can broadcast at a maximum of 100 watts of power. And Representative Michael Doyle of Pennsylvania has proposed legislation that would liberalize the rules for LPFM, since an FCC commissioned study indicated that these licenses do not threaten full power stations, as the NAB and National Public Radio claimed in the late 1990s. In late November, the Commission recommended to Congress that it remove requirements that LPFM stations protect full power stations operating on third adjacent channels.

The Prometheus/MAP filing also notes that while female and minority ownership rates are better for AM than for FM stations, they're still "abysmal," at 6.63 percent for women and 10.65 percent for minorities. "The proposed rule would do nothing to increase the number of minority and female owners," the comment warns, and could make the situation even worse by making AM stations more valuable, "attracting women and minority buy-outs from well funded corporations."

But the statement does suggest conditions for AM to FM translator rules that Prometheus and MAP see as acceptable.

  • AM stations may access FM translators only as a "fill-in"—presumably when some important event requires broadcast coverage in the early morning, evening, or night
  • Only "standalone" stations may employ FM translators. "Many AM stations are owned by large companies," Prometheus writes, "and the interests of large companies should not be allowed to hide behind the interests of survival of genuine small businesses"
  • One FM translator per standalone AM station
  • No translator should go to an AM station that also owns an FM outlet in the same market.

It's unclear when the FCC will make a decision on this issue, but given that even the most skeptical commenters make allowance for the proposal, chances are that we'll eventually see some relaxation of the Commission's FM translator rules.

Original here

And the Grammy for breast cover-up goes to...Amy Winehouse

Janet Jackson famously alienated half of America with her bare-boob "wardrobe malfunction" at the Superbowl.

But sharp-eyed fans will have noticed Amy Winehouse took no such risks with her appearance by video link in last week's Grammy Awards.

Not with her own decolletage, that is, but with the raunchy tattoo of a bare-breasted singer normally visible on her left arm.

For the performance, the depiction seemed to have come over rather more modest, and was equipped with a black bra - added, it seemed, with a felt-tip pen.

Scroll down for more...

Cover up: Amy used mascara to draw over the topless picture on her left arm before her Grammys performance

Perhaps Amy, who left her rehab centre to go to a London studio for the performance, wanted to send out a signal to those gathered for the ceremony in Los Angeles that she was serious about getting her life back on track.

She certainly sounded her best and scooped five Grammy Awards.

But cynics may feel it shows a more calculating side than her normal devilmay-care approach. Maybe the beehive behaves if she has to.

Original here

Story of Jesus Through Iranian Eyes

New Movie By Iranian Filmmaker Tells Story of Christianity From Muslim Perspective

A new movie in Iran depicts the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. "The Messiah," which some consider as Iran's answer to Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ," won an award at Rome's Religion Today Film Festival, for generating interfaith dialogue. The movie will be adapted into a television series, shown on Iranian TV later this year. Filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh spoke to ABC's Lara Setrakian in Tehran.

LS: Why did you feel a movie showing Islam's take on Jesus needed to be made?

NT: I've been witnessing what's been going on in Iran for the past 28 years; I've been living here after I lived a decade in America. Everybody knows Jesus, so why not make a film about something everyone relates to? And made in Iran.

LS: What are the key differences between Jesus through Islam's eyes and Jesus through the traditional Christian perspective?

NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus ... the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation.

LS: So, when it comes to Jesus, the message and the reverence are there.

NT: Yes.

LS: But the virgin birth, the crucifixion...

NT: The virgin birth was the same. The difference in the Koran, God says Jesus was saved. Instead of having him hung and crucified, the person who betrayed Jesus was crucified. This is how the Koran sees it, through the Gospel of Barnabas.

LS: So, you gave the alternate ending.

NT: Yes, two endings. I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it'll be important for them. [In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified].

LS: There's plenty of news today about Christians being persecuted, or even killed, today, in Muslim countries. So, where does the Muslim reverence for Christians go off-track?

NT: It doesn't go off-track. The Muslim reverence is very high for Jesus and Mary. This is the misunderstanding in the West — especially in America.

LS: So, then, why in your mind do Muslims, in some places, kill Christians?

NT: Well, those are not Muslims. They're murderers. First and foremost, they're murderers, and they dress as Muslims. Today, we have that problem. There is an evil strain in those people. They're, first, evil, and then they find a religion to address that evil, or to explain it, or as an excuse. But that's a minority that is aggrandized, and it's elaborated — it's constant. So, when you hear the word "Islam," you get a shock. Every time you hear "Islam," you get a little shock. What we lack is communication.

LS: While production on this movie was happening, Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" came out. What did you learn from watching that film?

NT: We were almost finished filming when Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film, and it's the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have ... according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?

LS: What kind of response have you gotten from Christians? What kind of feedback and interchange has there been since the movie was released?

NT: Many thought this film is a good step for serious inter-religious dialogue. Many of them liked it — seeing the Koran-based ending. And I was very happy that the practicing Christians were very happy with the film. I have never found one case among practicing Christians who are offended [by the movie].

American Christians, I respect them very much. I think these Christians, the born-again Christians, especially, are a very interesting group that Iran is not aware of, because a whole generation of Iranians haven't been able to travel to America. And those who do move to America, stay in America. So, how to create serious communication, not at the political, but at the religious level? I thought this would be a shortcut.

LS: Any plans for a movie that would help the dialogue between Muslims and Jews?

NT: This film is about Jesus, who is the last Jewish prophet. The audience has to realize that Iranians have been living with Jews and Christians for centuries. Jews were saved by Iranian kings. This was always their home, and it still is their home. Also, the first Christian church was built in Iran. The first Christian tribe that became Christian, the first tribe — was the Armenians. Armenians were part of the Persian Empire ... they found comfort living with the Iranians.

LS: What is your hope for the movie?

NT: The film is an excuse to sit down and talk. Iran is so consistently demonized. Once an American visits Iran, they know it's a different story. So, how do we export our thinking? It's the movies. This is a film for students and for practicing Christians, for people to become curious, and go investigate more.

My hope for the movie was, and is, and will be, to make people think about how God sees the prophets, how God talks about Jesus in the Koran. What was the main message of Jesus? And what was censored out of history? Part of the message of Jesus was censored out, which was the coming of the next prophets.

If you listen to what Jesus said, Jesus talked about the Prophet Mohammad, many, many times. And it was eliminated in the Gospels and the Bibles that [made it through] history. In 325, the Council of Nice was out to destroy all the other Gospels. One of those Gospels was the Gospel of Barnabas, which I used in great detail.

LS: And what did that say that was left out?

NT: It had a lot of sermons of Jesus that you do not see in the Bible; miracles, and at least a hundred references to the Prophet Mohammad, about his coming. It's one of the biggest censorships of history. So, I thought somebody should say this, and then others might disagree, say, "Ahhh, this could not be! This is blasphemy!" But it's OK — this is the 21st century. It's time for information. It's time for communication. They can go check it out.

NT: I thought about Americans when I was shooting this ... I was thinking that I have very good memories of the '90s, living in Virginia, remembrances of kindness. The misunderstanding of the past three decades really burns my heart. There's so much misunderstanding about Islam today. And one of those key missing links, that would bind the chain together, is Jesus Christ.

I thought, we should work on talking through something that's much more dear to us than other things. I thought that, through art, you could do a lot more than with the politics.

Theo May contributed to this article.

Original here

Best Of - Indiana Jones 4

Woo hoo! We finally get to see the new trailer!

I thought I'd also share a classic article of mine in which I regurgitated all the ridiculous Indy 4 rumors that I chronicled over the years. I had wanted to start a filthy, dirty rumor to call my own and had mentioned in some of my earlier Indy articles that the Ark was going to return. As the rumors trickled out about Crystal Skulls, I couldn't think of a way to connect the two artifacts, so I didn't put much passion behind it. But ya know, it certainly looks like we'll be seeing a big action sequence in the (now famous) government warehouse...

Lucas said
in an interview that the MacGuffin had always been the Crystal Skulls but I'm not entirely sure that's accurate. How do you explain the Jeb Stuart script? Was it real? I think so, because the wedding was very well written, and in old interviews, they repeatedly referenced the scene following the wedding where Indy's ex-girlfriends show up. By the way, there is also a new article over at Deadbolt on The Scripts That Weren't, which was a lot of fun.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.




Harrison Ford revealed at the Venice Film Festival that he was considering playing his most famous character one last time. (It's been long acknowledged
and reported that Spielberg and Lucas were DONE with the Indiana Jones series, but Harrison Ford has been the one pushing for the fourth film.) A couple of months later, that “bastion of investigative journalism,” the Daily Mail, ran a story (titled "From Speed to Ford Escort") claiming that Sandra Bullock would play Indy's "sparky" sidekick in Indiana Jones And The Lost Continent, which allegedly concerned the fate of Atlantis, a rumor that Variety put to rest. "While Nazis and various cultists couldn't stop Indy, the lack of a suitable script has pushed back the fourth installment in the series for the time being," the article said.


By Oct, we knew that Jeffrey Boam was working on scripts for Indiana Jones IV and Lethal Weapon 4. In
an article in Variety, Boam was quoted as saying that Spielberg wanted the pic to be shot almost entirely in L.A. Only one week will be on location, probably in Honduras. Russia had first been planned. "And," added Boam, Harrison Ford will play his own age, "so he can limp and/or wear glasses!" Apparently, Boam had been asked to flesh out the MacGuffin that Steven and Harrison didn’t want to do. Empire reported that the story concerned an attempt to foil a Soviet plot to establish a missile base on the moon, or had something to do with the UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico, or both. I can’t imagine why Ford and Spielberg wouldn’t want to do THAT. Poor Jeffrey.


In a Drew Babcock interview (which I can't find anymore - only referenced here), Spielberg assured the world that Atlantis had not been considered as part of the scripting process and mentioned that the script "had to do with Adam and Eve." After Babcock did some digging, a source at Paramount told him that the title Indiana Jones and the Garden of Life was being tossed around. In May ‘96, a script entitled
Indiana Jones And The Sons Of Darkness, which was credited to Boam, hit the web from someone who claimed to have lifted it from Lucasfilm's offices. As reported by Empire, “The script, which concerned a race by Indy to beat the Russians to the remnants of Noah's Ark, was removed from the web a day after its initial posting, fuelling rumors that it was genuine.” Fans were invited to post feedback because "Lucasfilm is monitoring the Web to assess what Indy fans do and don't want to see." In truth, the folks at Lucasfilm had nicknamed this script "Indiana Jones and the Sons of Plagiarism." Four months and several cease-and-desist notices later, ambitious Indy fan, Robert Smith, fessed up to having written a bogus script. Later, Kevin Costner and Tom Selleck were rumored to play Indy's 'bad seed' brother.


This is the year that brought us Chris Columbus’s
Indiana Jones and the Monkey King. At the time, Columbus was known for writing and directing Goonies. He would later go on to direct a couple of Harry Potter films. In any case, the story of Monkey King had Indy, Marcus Brody, English anthropologist Dr. Clare Clarke and 'Scraggy', a Portuguese guide, on the trail of a legendary Chinese artifact, which was believed to hold the secret of eternal life. We would learn later that this was in fact, a rejected Indy 3 script. (The absence of Henry Jones Sr. would’ve been your first clue, and sadly, the actor who played Marcus Brody had passed away in ’92). Of this story, Justin Clark (Ugo Screenwriter’s voice) wrote, “Where Columbus commits his most cardinal sins is with the characters. Long story short, they're cartoons. Indy is an asympathetic womanizer, with only fleeting hints of confidence, and constantly being made the fool by his situations. Screwing up Indy right off the bat should've been where Columbus put the pen (well, nowadays, keyboard) down, and handed over script duties to someone else, but sadly, it doesn't stop there. He also sees fit to saddle Indy with a virtual army of stereotypes (particularly, the stiff, British female scientist who guides him to a stray member of the lost city, and the superstitious African who drives him and his crew around while spouting words of wisdom from his many gods) and annoying sidekicks, none more so than Betsy, a clinging, pain-in-the-ass harpy who, somehow, we're supposed to think has chemistry with Indy. If you thought Willie Scott's perpetual screaming was a problem, she'll look like Katherine Hepburn by comparison. Some of the script's most cringe-worthy moments come from her. And the second I realized the characterizations weren't getting any better, that's when I realized this script, no matter what came later, wouldn't work. And believe does get worse, especially once Sun Wu Kung shows up.”

Also in ’97, there was the rumor (from the now defunct Corona site) in which Lucas told a Dutch TV magazine that Indy will have a son. In May '97,
Spielberg told Variety that he, Lucas, and Ford are "tenacious" about a fourth "Indiana Jones." "We are totally committed to one -- if the story is right, of course." Speaking of tenacious, the rumor about his brother just would not die. Posted on the web was a note from an anonymous Paramount source who said that Indy would not only have a brother but he would also be cast by an unknown. In late '97, Corona got word about a minister and a theologian who were asked to do some historical accuracy checking on the Indy IV script. Apparently, the script dealt with the Garden of Eden and was very "religious in tone." Also in '97, Aint it Cool News spread the rumor about Indy being in his 50's searching for Noah's Ark and that Lawrence Kasdan was the writer. They also reported a rumor about a quest for Shangri-la, which was utterly baseless.


In January, Dark Horizons posted what it claimed to be the opening pages of another script, entitled
Raiders of the Fallen Empire, which sounds like a reference to the Roman Empire, but apparently it had to do with Indy's discovery of the Garden of Eden. No matter. It was a hoax. (According to Corona, this debacle stressed out a few Paramount execs. Rumor has it that Lucas was very interested in “Fallen Empire,” but it was an unsolicited spec script, and he had not yet decided whether to purchase it. Even though there is still very little known about this script, the mere leaking of the title is said to have been enough to send blood pressures rising.) Later, rumors flew from Corona that Mark Hamill was being considered to play a villain in the Indy sequel. Hamill's "people," however, assured Cinescape that the rumor had no basis in fact. In May, Mr. Showbiz spoke with Jeffrey Boam about his rumored Lost Continent script. He said that he hadn't heard of anything called that, and in fact, he was told not to place a name on the script he turned in two years prior and had not heard anything about it since. In November, Lucas told those at the Screen Producers' Association conference held in Australia that the Indy IV script had been completed. He cited the availability of Ford and Spielberg as the remaining obstacle. However, later interviews with Ford and Spielberg would indicate that all were not in agreement with this script. Then there was the "Law of One" rumor in which Cinescape was handed a script where the action took place in 1953 and involved a "race to harness the power of the ancient device which was responsible for the destruction of Atlantis." Uh huh. Willie Scott also appeared in this script. '98 also brought us a new legitimate script, Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men From Mars, which came out of the blue and was apparently written by The Fugitive scribe Jeb Stuart from a story by Stuart and Lucas. Saucer Men From Mars concerned an alien artifact that constantly changes hands between Indy, Russian baddies, and a group of extra-terrestrials. Indy gets married to beautiful linguist Dr. Elaine McGregor, but the ceremony gets interrupted by the arrival of Elaine's ex-husband, Bolander who takers her away to White Sands, New Mexico. There, a spacecraft has crash-landed, killing its alien occupants and sparking a race between the Americans and Soviets to discover the secrets of the alien ship's fuel supply, a stone cylinder covered in hieroglyphics. The wedding was great fun.


There was the rumor that Dennis Lawson, the guy who played Wedge Antilles in Star Wars, was set to portray Belloq's brother seeking revenge for the events of Raiders, which was flatly denied. And then there was the
Sword of Arthur script, which was a hoax. However, the pranksters cleverly peppered their pages with "Property of Lucasfilm Ltd," which made it almost feel real. The story had to do with the search for King Arthur's magical sword, Excalibur, which was reputedly hidden on Enigma Island, a small isle off the Spanish coast, six centuries earlier. The Nazis are after it, too, as are the surviving descendants of the original Knights of the Round Table. Indy and his companions - Including Anthony Brody (Marcus' son) and Arianna Smith (a kind of female Indy, as might be guessed from the name) - recover the sword, only to have it snatched from their grasp by the arm of a woman who reaches up from the Atlantic Ocean to reclaim it forever. (Indy loses an eye during one fight and has to wear an eye-patch the rest of the film.) The “aspiring writers,” Steven Frye and Michael Prentice, claimed to have been duped into parting with the script, unaware it would be touted as the real thing.

Lest we forget, 1999 also brought us Indiana Jones and the Red Scare, which hit the web on July 17. This 12-page treatment,
as reported by Empire, “allegedly seen by someone working at Industrial Light & Magic, was set in the early 1950s, as Indy is retained by Eisenhower's administration to find out about the Russians' retrieval of artifacts found in Hitler's bunker. No one has ever owned up to the treatment.”


There was the rumor that Natalie Portman, while on the set of Star Wars, asked Lucas if she could
play the role of Indy's daughter, Idaho. Spielberg told an Italian newspaper, “Actually, I have to answer that same question all the time: 'Dad, when are you going to film a new Indiana Jones movie?' But tonight I want to make a promise - Indiana Jones is coming back soon.” That was seven years ago. Then there was M. Night Shyamalan, who, fresh off his success from Sixth Sense, admitted on The Howard Stern Show that he'd met with Spielberg, was in early talks to do something with Indy, and that he would love to write the script. Shortly thereafter, Variety reported that Shyamalan was on board to write the new script and that filming would begin in 2002. But then we’re told scheduling didn’t work out. Uh huh. Harrison Ford described his departure as "the failure of George and Steven to attend to him." Lucas admitted he would not be able to give the project his full attention until he completed the new Star Wars trilogy… in 2005.

On a side note - Jeffrey Boam, one of the first reported Indy IV screenwriters would pass away this year due to heart disease, sadly. You just have to love Jeffrey Boam. He wrote some fun scripts – Innerspace, The Dead Zone, The Lost Boys, Funny Farm, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and of course, Lethal Weapon 2 and 3. We’ll miss you, buddy.


What? No fake scripts this year? I’m disappointed.


In January, we’re told that they
already have a title. Spielberg said, “Kate is in it.” Ford is quoted as saying that they finally have “the right script.” But then, in February, Empire reported that they approached Stephen Gaghan to write a new screenplay, which didn’t work out. In April, Empire reported that they’re courting Tom Stoppard to write a new screenplay. A couple of days later, Lucas confessed, "There is a scene where a lot of Indy's ex-girlfriends show up, but they are not major characters." This had to have been a direct reference to Jeb Stuart’s script, an idea that apparently everyone still wants to use. In May, we’re given the news that Frank Darabont has taken the helm as the new screenwriter. In July, we learn that the story will be set in the 1950s, and there will be no Nazis. In December 2002, while promoting Catch Me if You Can, Spielberg said he planned to shoot two films before Indiana Jones 4 in 2004 for a release the year after. He also dismissed shooting it digitally.


Frank Marshall said that there will be
no son for Indiana Jones. He said, "We're sticking with Indy on his own. He still gets around pretty good." Really. In June '03, Variety told us that Frank Darabont whipped Indiana Jones 4 into shape for a 2004 start. Woo hoo! In August, Darabont said the words that brought such warmth to my heart: "I absolutely don't want to do things like having him say, 'I'm getting too old for this shit...' I don't want to be slipping and sliding in cliches. This character is no longer in the 1930s. He has to age honestly. He's got to be in the 1950s." Amen to that. In September, Ford told Variety: "Steven Spielberg and myself have reserved time in 2004 to begin shooting." (Some claim that Darabont’s title was Indiana Jones and the City of Gods.) Also in September, the question about the use of CGI came up, and Frank Marshall told Empire: “I think we're going to try and rely, like the first two movies, on realism and not try to do too many things with the computer... When you start getting into computers you get fantastical situations like in the Matrix or movies like that. We don't want that, we want exciting heroism, we want seat-of-your-pants, skin-of-your-teeth action. We didn't have all the money in the world on the first films and we want to keep that B-Movie feel. We want to make Indy 4 like we made the first three.”

And finally, a UK website for women called FemaleFirst
alleged that an insider on the production told them that Spielberg told Ford to "'get off of any and all exercise programs.' It's been 15 years since the last Indy movie and obviously Harrison has got a lot older but that's not a problem for this movie," the "insider" told FemaleFirst. "Steven doesn't want a middle-aged guy trying to look young — he wants to bring a new type of hero to the screen. He's going to be older and wiser and a lot less physical than Indy of old." Oh. Hmm.


In January, Darabont turned in his script. "I've finished my work,” he said, “now it's in the hands of God, or Spielberg and Lucas if you prefer.” But a month later, Lucas
rejected Darabont’s script despite the fact that Spielberg was so excited about this script that he told Darabont this was the “best draft of anything since Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Darabont said, “The project went down in flames. Steven and I looked like accident victims the day we got that call. I certainly don't blame Steven for it. He wasn't in a position to overrule George, and wouldn't have overruled him even if he could. He and George have been close friends for a long time, and they've had an agreement for years that no Indiana Jones film will ever get made unless they both completely agreed on the script. It was just such an awful surprise, after all my hopes and effort. I really felt I'd nailed it, and so did Steven.”

In October, we learn that Jeff Nathanson, writer of Catch Me If You Can, was
brought in to do the rewrite. Not only that, it was a PAGE ONE rewrite. Spielberg would later say in an interview that none of Darabont's script will be used. At all. Zip. All we will know about Nathanson’s script is that he moved it back to the '40s. Later that year, while shooting War of the Worlds, Spielberg met with stuntman Vic Armstrong to discuss three stunt sequences he had envisioned.


In January, Ford
gave a deadline and said that if they didn’t make this movie by 2008, forget about it. Later that month, Spielberg confirmed that Indiana Jones 4 will be his next film, calling it "the sweet dessert I give those who had to chow down on the bitter herbs that I've used in Munich.” He would later say he’s “taking a year off.” In May, Lucas is quoted in Time Magazine as saying that he didn’t plan to make anymore Indy films. In June, Ford made a joke at a press conference that the working title of Indy IV was Indiana Jones and the Opal of the Mer-Man Prince. The news spread like wildfire across the web, and a week later, Spielberg had to issue an official statement to kill the story. A few months later, there was the rumor about Spielberg visiting the set of Memoirs of a Geisha and telling Michelle Yeoh he still wants her for Indy IV. (Her agency reported in '98 that she met with him to discuss her role in Indy IV.) Close to the end of the year, we’re told that Nathanson’s script was "finished" and "approved."


Apparently, Nathanson’s script was NOT "finished" and "approved," because in February,
Entertainment Weekly reported that Spielberg himself was working on the script. May '06, Frank Marshall confirmed that there might be a desert. Oh. Nice. Then, on June 23, David Koepp was hired to polish the script. It would be “due” in a few months. He’s Spielberg’s trusted “closer.” Really. And then came Connery's official retirement despite Lucas' public assurance that he will push him into doing it. In an August ’06 interview in Empire Magazine, Lucas said, “We’re basically going to do The Phantom Menace. People’s expectations are way higher than you can deliver. You could just get killed for the whole thing… We would do it for fun and just take the hit with the critics and the fans.” (I don't know about you, but as a screenwriter, as a lifelong lover of movies and Spielberg and Lucas and Indiana Jones, that sends CHILLS up my spine.) The article went on to say that the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation freed up an idea for a plot that was originally deemed too incendiary. “I discovered a McGuffin,” continued Lucas. “I told the guys about it and they were a little dubious, but it’s the best one we’ve ever found… Unfortunately, it was a little too ‘connected’ for the others. They were afraid of what the critics would think. They said, 'Can’t we do it with a different McGuffin? Can’t we do this?' and I said 'No.' So we pottered around with that for a couple of years. Then Harrison really wanted to do it and Steve said, 'Okay.' I said, 'We’ll have to go back to that original MacGuffin and take out the offending parts and still use that area of the supernatural do deal with it.'” Hmm. In Sep '06, Karen Allen may have reignited rumors that Indy will have a daughter. (That rumor has been recently squashed.) And then, of course, in December 29, 2006, Ford, Lucas, and Spielberg confirmed that they will be shooting the movie, which will be released May 22, 2008. Production will start on June 18, 2007. All we know is that it will be a “character piece” with “very interesting mysteries.”

Do you know what the picture above is? No, it's not the government warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant. This is, in fact, where they store all of the Indy IV drafts. Hehehe...
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Cloverfield Monster Toy Revealed

Hasbro has finally revealed photos of the Cloverfield Monster action figure. The Cloverfield Monster Toy Features:

The Cloverfield monster is available exclusively through for $99.99 Reserve your Cloverfield monster today to have the opportunity to receive it when it ships later this year. Limited quantities are available. Includes 3 “AAA” Batteries.

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The 10 Biggest Oscar Snubs of 2007

First, a little perspective. There's a common thread that bonds such films as Aliens, Blade Runner, Cool Hand Luke, The Manchurian Candidate, The Matrix, Spartacus, Toy Story, The Wild Bunch, and Wild Strawberries. What do those great films have in common? The answer: NONE of them were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. The Academy Awards ceremony is a lavish affair and an entertaining TV spectacle that will never go away, but let's be honest - the Oscars aren't the best barometer for what will eventually become legendary in the annals of cinema history. Of course, that doesn't mean we have to stop trying to analyze the often mysterious decisions on a yearly basis. The fact is that the Oscars have long been divisive, and writing about them is bound to anger someone ... But, as we all know, that's part and parcel of what comes with the Oscars.

One man's masterpiece is often another man's pretentious crap, but that's just part of life. As in past years, 2007's Oscar nominees once again reflect the vagaries of Academy voting. Show me a person who thinks it's a historic tragedy that The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford only landed two nominations and ten bucks says the person next to him probably thinks it was two too many. Much has been made about the incredible failure of the Oscars' Foreign Language Film committee this year, a group that excluded the two most award-winning eligible films - 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days and Persepolis - before they could even be considered. To be blunt - that category is a joke. A select group of nearly-retired Academy members seem to bungle it every year. How and why, who knows for sure? While the nominees might be worthwhile, I'd like to speak to someone who can tell me with a straight face that all of this year's nominees are better than 4 Months, Persepolis, The Orphanage, or even The Host. It can now be seen as an outdated, ridiculously designed category that makes for the perfect bathroom break as it's being awarded.

The same can be said for Best Original Song. With the clever songwriting in Walk Hard, excellent work by Eddie Vedder in Into the Wild, and new recordings by John Mayer, The Flaming Lips, Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Mann, John Legend, Sondre Lerche, and BOB freakin' DYLAN - all who were eligible this year - the Academy chose to nominate three songs from Enchanted. Sure it's a cute Disney movie, but three? A hat trick for a movie as musically profound as Once would be understandable, but did anyone walk out of Enchanted humming the tunes? With Best Foreign Language Film and Best Song out of the way, here are our picks for the ten biggest Oscar snubs from 2007.

10. Best Animated Feature - Anything but Surf's Up... you name it!

The surfing penguins were cute, but one of the three best animated movies of the year? Animated Feature is a category that threatens to devolve into a situation like Foreign Language Film - totally off the pulse of the medium. I'm willing to bet that people heard about the concept of Surf's Up and voted for it sight unseen. Even if the voters wanted to nominate an animated family comedy to offset the adult-driven Ratatouille and Persepolis, they could have picked the more-clever Meet the Robinsons or the much funnier Bee Movie instead of Surf's Up. Still, even those weren't the best. If the Academy really wanted to reward people for trying to move the medium forward, they clearly would have chosen Beowulf, one of the most visually stunning films of the year (although the division between what is animation and what isn't in the world of motion capture hasn't been defined to everyone's taste). Clearly, they should have just gone with the funniest animated movie of the year - The Simpsons Movie.

9. 300 for anything

300 was far from a perfect film, but it was undeniably a technically accomplished work that should have been recognized in one or two the technical categories. Not a single nod was granted to the film that blew out more than a few theater speakers last March, and that's just not right. The sound design, the editing, and the visual effects all deserved consideration. The movie received accolades from the Art Directors Guild, Cinema Audio Society, Costume Designers Guild, and Visual Effects Society, but couldn't land a single Oscar nomination. Sin City also missed out on the Oscar party a couple of years ago, scoring a goose egg for nominations, which makes it clear the Academy hasn't figured out how to deal with, or correctly honor, green-screen films. Don't hold any hope for Speed Racer to have the words "Oscar-nominated" on its DVD case.

The 10 Biggest Oscar Snubs of 2007 Page 2

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> Hi-5: Charitable Women

Every guy wants a woman who's constantly ready to give it up. In this case, of course, the "it" is time and money to various worthy – or unworthy, depending on how Japanese you are in one case – causes. Here are the five women most likely to give you a helping hand when you're down and out.

Angelina Jolie

Love her or hate her, you must admit she has dick-sucking lips. Those feisty eyes and undoubted kinkiness in bed can also draw you in -- or eat you alive, if you’re lucky. She’s done more charity than she has bad movies, which makes her quite ambitious. Angelina is currently helping refugees as an ambassador to UNHCR, and she gives money to just about everyone except Jennifer Aniston. Check her out naked in “Gia.” That’s making the world a better place right there.

Hayden Panettiere

Her antics reportedly got her an arrest warrant from Japan: she jumped in the ocean to stop fisherman from killing dolphins, and you can bet that got her wet in many places. To make her an even hotter giving-goddess, she is auctioning off her clothes to support Save the Whales. If you’re lucky she won’t have anything left to wear. One wonders if this fresh young hero smells like fish.

Natalie Portman

A beautiful stripper in “Closer,” Natalie sweats in real life too. She trekked through a jungle in the Congo to film a documentary about endangered gorillas, one of which she named “Ahazaza.” Just try screaming that aloud in bed. She also works for FINCA, helping give business loans to women in poor countries who otherwise would be forced to work as a much less hot version of her “Closer” role.

Natalie’s hot, generous, and smart enough not to give a lap dance to one of your buddies when you aren’t around. What more could a man need?

Jessica Alba

She raised $260,000 for disabled children at a screening of “Good Luck Chuck,” although it’s a fair guess she wasn’t nude. That may change as she donates to “Clothes Off Our Back,” another charity where celebrities donate their clothes (this time to support childrens’ charities). If you buy enough of her shirts, will she finally go topless?

She also apparently supports RADD, which "creates positive attitudes about road safety." Seeing as how she probably creates more car crashes walking down the street than any other lady, it’s only fair.

Petra Nemcova

This poor young model was stuck in a tree for eight hours during the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. As if she hadn’t already made a tree happy and given everyone else plenty of wood, she created the charity “Happy Hearts” to support children who were victims of the tsunami. Something tells me it isn’t just the hearts that are happy when the males of the species look her up. Would you let her cling to you in a storm? Czech!

She also lost her fiancée in the tsunami, which makes her single.

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