I'm pretty conflicted about religion. On the one hand, I'm a huge fan of abortion. I like performing them, getting them, watching them, you name it. Then again, I think Communion wafers are delicious. But there are plenty of people who aren't wishy-washy at all about their godlessness. The Colbert Report featured an atheist lobbyist on Friday in the latest in a long line of segments exploring secularism. Here's that interview, followed by seven other classic heathenish clips from the show.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The final episodes of Season Four of Battlestar Galactica may air as late as April 2009, according to the show’s star Aaron Douglas at a cast panel discussion Sunday at Dragon*Con 2008.
Douglas, who plays Chief Tyrol, said that the SCI FI network has completely ignored arguably their biggest hit, adding “and the SCI FI Network sucks,” which got a big applause from those in the audience.
“Ten episodes is not a season,” said Douglas, referring to the first half of the season, which aired from April to June 2008. In June 2008, the remaining episodes, which will conclude the storyline for the series, had not yet been scheduled.
Michael Hogan, Richard Hatch, and James Callis seemed to echo their castmate’s feelings. In an earlier panel, Edward James Olmos riffed on the split saying, “… of course they didn’t pay us for five seasons.” Season Four was originally slated for 13 episodes, but was extended to 22 (which included a 2-hour movie).
The series finale is said to be a tear-jerker, according to science adviser/consultant, Kevin Grazier.
“I don’t know anyone who hasn’t cried after reading the final episode script,” Grazier said.
Their bond was sealed as soon as she placed the stylus on an LP by the band Broken Social Scene, he said in an e-mail message. “There was this immediate mutual acknowledgment, like we both totally understood what we define ourselves by,” continued Mr. Acklin, who considers his turntable, a Technics model from the 1980s that belonged to an aunt, a prized possession. “It takes a special kind of person to appreciate pops and clicks and imperfections in their music.”
The ranks of vinyl devotees are growing. Lately, the anachronistic LP has experienced an unlikely spike in sales, decades after the mainstream music industry wrote off the format as obsolete. Major labels are expanding their vinyl offerings for the first time since they left records for dead nearly two decades ago, music executives said.
While the niche may still be small measured against overall sales of recorded music, the surge of interest in vinyl — and, particularly, its rising cachet among young listeners — is providing a rare glimmer of hope in a hemorrhaging industry.
“Even if the industry doesn’t do all that well going forward, we could really carve this out to be a nice profitable niche,” said Bill Gagnon, a senior vice president at EMI Catalog Marketing, who is in charge of vinyl releases. He said that people who buy vinyl nowadays are charmed by the format’s earthy authenticity.
“It’s almost a back-to-nature approach,” Mr. Gagnon said. “It’s the difference between growing your own vegetables and purchasing them frozen in the supermarket.”
The category virtually collapsed in the late 1980s with the advent of the compact disc. And despite the efforts of various subcultures of supporters — club D.J.’s, audiophiles, hardcore punks — to engineer a vinyl comeback, sales continued to wither as MP3s joined CDs as competition over the last decade. The industry had shipments of 3.4 million LPs and EPs in 1998 and just over 900,000 in 2006, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
But shipments jumped about 37 percent in 2007, to nearly 1.3 million records. Three years ago Warner Bros. Records returned to the format when it opened becausesoundmatters.com, an online vinyl store stocked with reissues and new releases. At first, any vinyl release that sold 3,000 copies was considered a success, said Tom Biery, who oversees vinyl sales for the company. By comparison, the 2007 Wilco album, “Sky Blue Sky,” surpassed 14,000 copies.
Vinyl is suddenly chic, he said, even among people too young to have grown up with the familiar crackle of a needle carving through the grooves of an album. “I have friends who have younger kids — 13, 15 years old, even 10 — and all those kids want turntables,” he said. “Their parents are like: Wait a minute. What are you talking about?”
Mass-market retailers like Virgin Megastore and smaller record stores like Mondo Kim’s in Manhattan are devoting more floor space to the antiquarian 12-inch disc of late. Newbury Comics, a chain of 29 music and merchandise stores in New England, has sold 400 turntables since it started selling them in June, Duncan Browne, a company executive, said.
Despite the spike, records still represent a sliver of the music business as a whole. In 2007, for example, the industry shipped 511 million CDs. But given the declining interest in compact discs — those half-billion CDs represented a drop of more than 17 percent from the year before — any growth was welcome, executives said.
This year Capitol/EMI is in the process of reissuing its first substantial vinyl catalog in decades. Some of those albums, like “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, are classic rock leviathans aimed at nostalgic baby boomers. But many are albums by contemporary artists, like Radiohead and Coldplay, who appeal to young music buyers, Mr. Gagnon said. Most are pressed on acoustically superior 180-gram vinyl, and many are packaged in gatefold jackets, so they can serve as collectors’ items for young fans who might also have the music in its digital form.
With music so abundant on the Internet, record label executives said they needed to make physical copies of albums stand out as desirable objects in order to get people to buy them. Vinyl albums are up to the task: they are exotic because of their novelty and retro allure, and more physically imposing than CDs. (And the 12.5-inch album sleeve is an ideal canvas for cover art.)
Deluxe editions are trophies of sorts for passionate fans, Mr. Biery said. In September, for example, Warner Bros. Records will release a new Metallica album, “Death Magnetic,” in a five-record box version — each of 10 songs will get its own side — for about $115.
Many new-generation fans of vinyl view LPs as branded merchandise, like band T-shirts or posters, as much as a practical means of acquiring recorded music, said Matt Wishnow, the founder of Insound, an online music and merchandise company. In the last two years vinyl sales have expanded to about 50 percent from less than 20 percent of the company’s business, he said. (The median age of its customers, he added, is 25.)
In an era when “everybody’s music collection is the same” thanks to file swapping, collecting expensive, unwieldy LPs is a conspicuous way for the superfans to advertise their cognoscenti status, he said.
“It’s a customer who wants to have vinyl in their home the same way they want books in their home,” Mr. Wishnow said. For such a customer, he added, the message is, “ ‘When I can have all the music in the world in the palm of my hand, what does it say about me that I spend $15 to $20 for this format that is a pain to store and move and is easily damaged?’ ”
Young vinyl collectors said digital technology had made it easy for anyone — even parents — to acquire vast, esoteric music collections. In that context, nothing seems hipper than old-fashioned inconvenience.
“The process of taking the record off the shelf, pulling it out of the sleeve, putting the needle on the record, makes for a much more intense and personal connection with the music because it’s more effort,” said R. J. Crowder-Schaefer, 21, a senior at New York University who said he became a serious vinyl disciple a few years ago.
Along the way, devotees often cross paths with their parents, who are still upgrading their audio technology. Meghan Galewski, another student at New York University, bought her father, now 56, an iPod for a recent birthday. He bought her a turntable for hers.
“He thought it was stupid that I wanted this old technology,” Ms. Galewski, 21, said. She had to tutor him on how to use his iPod, then rifled through his stacks of records from the ’60s and ’70s to appropriate gems like his original “Woodstock” LP set.
But for Corinne Monaco, 17, who lives in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, her interest in vinyl provides a way to bond with her parents. Afternoons on the sofa listening to Jethro Tull and Jimi Hendrix albums with her father, she said, give her “a chance to see where he was coming from, with the music of his youth.”
INDEED, records force children of the digital age to listen to music in the rigid manner of previous generations, said Scott Karoly, 21, a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a recent vinyl convert.
No longer can they use a click wheel to sample songs from Miley Cyrus, Nas, Black Sabbath, John Coltrane and the Scissor Sisters within minutes. With vinyl, listeners cede control to the artist. They let the music wash over them, in the original order of songs, at the original pace. “I have a ton of music on iTunes,” Mr. Karoly said, “but with that music I get A.D.D. really quick. With my LPs, it’s like reading a book as opposed to clicking through articles on Yahoo.”
“When you put on a record,” he added, “it’s an event.”
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- Jerry Reed, a singer who became a good ol' boy actor in car chase movies like "Smokey and the Bandit," has died of complications from emphysema at 71.
Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Jerry Reed was known for his roles in Burt Reynolds films.
His longtime booking agent, Carrie Moore-Reed, no relation to the star, said Reed died early Monday.
"He's one of the greatest entertainers in the world. That's the way I feel about him," Moore-Reed said.
Reed was a gifted guitarist who later became a songwriter, singer and actor.
As a singer in the 1970s and early 1980s, he had a string of hits that included "Amos Moses," "When You're Hot, You're Hot," "East Bound and Down" and "The Bird."
In the mid-1970s, he began acting in movies such as "Smokey and the Bandit" with Burt Reynolds, usually as a good ol' boy. But he was an ornery heavy in "Gator," directed by Reynolds, and a hateful coach in 1998's "The Waterboy," starring Adam Sandler.
Reynolds gave him a shiny black 1980 Trans Am like the one they used in "Smokey and the Bandit."
Reed and Kris Kristofferson paved the way for Nashville music personalities to make inroads into films. Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers (TV movies) followed their lead.
"I went around the corner to motion pictures," he said in a 1992 AP interview.
Reed had quadruple bypass surgery in June 1999.
Born in Atlanta, Reed learned to play guitar at age 8 when his mother bought him a $2 guitar and showed him how to play a G-chord.
He dropped out of high school to tour with Ernest Tubb and Faron Young.
At 17, he signed his first recording contract, with Capitol Records.
He moved to Nashville in the mid-1960s where he caught the eye of Chet Atkins.
He first established himself as a songwriter. Elvis Presley recorded two of his songs, "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man" (both in 1968). He also wrote the hit "A Thing Called Love," which was recorded in 1972 by Johnny Cash. He also wrote songs for Brenda Lee, Tom Jones, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and the Oak Ridge Boys.
Reed was voted instrumentalist of the year in 1970 by the Country Music Association.
He won a Grammy Award for "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971. A year earlier, he shared a Grammy with Chet Atkins for their collaboration, "Me and Jerry." In 1992, Atkins and Reed won a Grammy for "Sneakin' Around."
Reed continued performing on the road into the late 1990s, doing about 80 shows a year.
"I'm proud of the songs, I'm proud of things that I did with Chet (Atkins), I'm proud that I played guitar and was accepted by musicians and guitar players," he told the AP in 1992.
In a 1998 interview with The Tennessean, he admitted that his acting ability was questionable.
"I used to watch people like Richard Burton and Mel Gibson and think, 'I could never do that.'"When people ask me what my motivation is, I have a simple answer: Money."
Since Fox is being a bunch of assholes—seriously, as the NY Times points out (quoted from Newsarama) "Warner Bros. says that Fox “sat silently” as producer Lawrence Gordon took Watchmen 'to studio after studio with Fox’s express knowledge'"—and Warner has a pretty decent case—I bet this thing is going to trial. And I bet it won't be quick, and if we see Watchmen it'll be in 2010.
So yeah...sorry about that. On the plus side, here's an awesome Lego Owlship:
Reasonably Clever's Chris Doyle made the awesome set, complete with an interior and little Lego figures of the Nite Owl and Rorschach—check it out here. Just try to enjoy and not think about how there's finally going to be an awesome Watchmen movie but you're not going to be able to see it.
Firstly, the $500 million+ gross by the movie single-handedly saves the summer box office, and also means that director Christopher Nolan will find almost every door open to him for whatever his next project turns out to be. Nolan's got what is now being called the second most successful movie of all time (behind Titanic, which is still over $100 million away) by those who haven't really taken that much time to consider that whole "inflation" thing. This will definitely make any and all future deal-making much, much easier.
However, when you do look at the adjusted box office results, the movie isn't even in the top 20, and will, most likely, never even manage to break into the top 10. Not that anyone really seems to care about the facts that much, as it's more exciting to consider a current movie as something about to break a record than surrender yourself to the invulnerability of Rhett not giving a damn (Gone With The Wind's adjusted gross? An astounding $1,430,476,000).
One takeaway that we'll probably see from the success of The Dark Knight is an aping of the marketing campaign behind the movie. If a year-long, multimedia ARG is what it takes to make a movie into a cultural phenomenon, then expect to find your inbox flooded with messages from fictional characters over the course of the next few months. Less likely to be copied is the death of one of your leading actors, although perhaps we're going to see a lot of older actors being given plumb roles just in case . . .
What does a superstar director want after a long summer in the Hamptons? A new studio to call his own.
That's what Steven Spielberg may get this week, according to well-placed industry sources. They say that Hollywood's most powerful director is meeting in New York with, and will likely announce a deal with, India's Reliance Communications to restart the DreamWorks studio that he is relocating from Paramount Pictures (VIAB) in an acrimonious split. Spielberg, who traditionally spends his summers in the Hamptons, is meeting with Anil Ambani, the billionaire chairman of Reliance Communications, to finalize what's expected to be up to a $1.2 billion transaction that would make the Indian conglomerate a 50% owner of Spielberg's new studio.
A DreamWorks spokesman did not immediately return phone calls. BusinessWeek first reported the Paramount and DreamWorks split (BusinessWeek.com, 07/19/07) in July 2007.
Reliance's Star Power
The Reliance-DreamWorks deal has been rumored for two months (BusinessWeek, 6/19/08) and is assumed to include a $500 million equity infusion from Reliance, which has been beefing up its interest in Hollywood production. In May, its Reliance Big Entertainment unit signed agreements to finance projects with the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Will Smith. The Spielberg transaction is expected to also include financing of as much as $750 million for DreamWorks' film production with JPMorgan Chase (JPM).
The deal will almost certainly spell the end of Spielberg's three-year, often stormy relationship with Viacom's Paramount, where he is contractually committed through Oct. 31. Spielberg has agreed to discuss a possible new pact with Paramount, sources say, although he is unlikely to stay. The talks are more likely to involve ongoing Paramount-based projects on which Spielberg and his team have been working, and which Spielberg—even after his departure—will maintain a financial interest. (Under his contract with that studio, after he leaves he will get a hefty percentage of the profits for films in which he serves as producer, which include the megafranchise film Transformers.)
That's why Spielberg is likely to announce a second venture down the road with another Hollywood studio to distribute the films his new DreamWorks studio will make. The lead candidate is Universal Pictures (GE), where Spielberg still maintains his adobe-style headquarters, a gift from Universal after his 1982 blockbuster E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial.
A Tale of Two DreamWorks
Spielberg still considers Universal his second home, say those close to him. The Twentieth-Century Fox studio (NWS) is considered a long shot to house DreamWorks. Whoever wins the contest to house the producer will likely strike an agreement with him to distribute the new DreamWorks' films in theaters, on DVD, and on the Internet. Spielberg's company maintains a long-standing relationship with HBO, which would continue to distribute DreamWorks films on its premium TV channel.
The new DreamWorks will be a private company separate from the publicly traded DreamWorks Animation (DWA), which was separated from the live-action unit in 2004. The newly created company being funded by Reliance would likely be nearly 50% owned by Spielberg, with his top production executive, DreamWorks CEO and Co-Chairman Stacey Snider, owning a small equity piece as well. Snider, a former Universal Pictures chairman, is considered key to the transaction and was also allowed to leave her Paramount contract as part of a "key man" provision that permitted Spielberg to take top executives with him when he left.
It’s not exactly the first thing you look for in a potential girlfriend, is it? You don’t spend a lot of your first dates comparing biceps and arm-wrestling, do you? Do you?! But in Movieland, that’s a different story. We just can’t get enough of them. And if she looks hot while she’s doing it, even better.
Well, Hecklerspray has come up yet another list of sexy movie babes for you to delight over. Now, selecting a list of all the hot women who ever appeared in action movies was always going to be tough call. There are so many action films, and picking some girl who was basically the love interest throughout the entire film and whose sole role was to scream a lot would not be right.
So we tried to restrict them down to ones who are the leading characters and were also hard as nails.
Not so much femme fatales, but lethal ladies. We ask two questions: Are they hard? Do they make you hard? That’s the only criteria. Oh, and are they strong female role models? Or something like that.
The other problem is: how do you define an action movie? Arguably any movie involves some kind of movement. Unless it’s a Gus Van Sant film, that is. Well, we have tried to restrict it to movies which at least needed some kind of rigorous training schedule and martial arts work to prepare for the role. Not the greatest criteria, admittedly, which probably explains why there are lot of selections on this list which could easily settle into other genres.
Terrible film, but Theron looked amazing.
25. Linda Hamilton
Notable action movie appearances: Terminator series (1984-1991)
OK, she looks like she has a small dog on top of her head, but she is certainly one bad-ass mother (of the saviour of mankind).
24. Liv Tyler
Notable action movie apperance: Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
All right, we admit her portrayal of Elvish princess Arwen is not exactly action-packed. In fact, she spends most of it flouncing around in a long dress looking all sincere. But there is no doubt she looks really cute in pointy ears.
23. Natasha Henstridge
Notable action movie appearance: Species (1995), Species 2 (1998)
She plays a really hot alien desperate to mate with any human man as soon as possible. What’s not to like?
Not exactly girlfriend material though. She has a bit of a jealous streak and is prone to ripping people’s spines out as soon as she’s done.
22. Rhona Mitra
Notable action movie appearances: Underworld 3 (2009), Doomsday (2008)
Just the women to step into Kate Beckinsale’s leathers. Simply stunning.
21. Kristanna Loken
Notable action movie appearance: Terminator 3 (2003)
OK, the movie sucked really bad, but the sight of Loken in red leather was worth the admission alone.
20. Jennifer Garner
Notable action movie appearance: Daredevil (2003), Elektra (2005)
Once again, both films sucked, but Jennifer Garner is always worth looking at.
Joint 19. Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore
Notable action movie appearances: Charlie’s Angels I and II (2001-2003)
Now that’s a threesome I think we’d all appreciate. One for everyone’s tastes.
18. Megan Fox
Notable action movie appearance: Transformers (2007)
OK, we admit it, she’s not exactly an all-action heroine in the movie Transformers, but we could not resist sticking her in.
17. Gina Gershon
Notable movie appearance: Bound (1996)
Apparently, Gina boxed Bob Dylan to prepare for her role as Corky, a tough, lesbian ex-con. Not sure old Bob put up much of a fight, but it certainly got her in shape.
16. Leonor Varela
Notable action movie appearance: Blade 2 (2002)
What is it about women who wants to suck you dry?
Joint 15: Jordana Brewster, Sara Foster, Devon Aoki, Jill Ritchie and Meagan Good
Notable action movie appearance: D.E.B.S (2004)
We couldn’t decide which one to put in, so opted for all of them. If you have never seen D.E.B.S it’s about a group of scantily-clad schoolgirls who are trained to be bloodthirsty, gun-toting assassins. Genius.
14. Meiko Kaji
Notable action movie appearances: Lady Snowblood (1973) and loads more
A lady not to be messed with - and hard as nails too. Her films, such as the brilliant Lady Snowblood, inspired Kill Bill.
13. Ziyi Zhang
Notable action movie appearance: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Hero (2002)
Well, she certainly knows how to handle a weapon.
12. Anne Parillaud
Notable action movie appearance: Nikita (1990)
Incredibly sexy French actress is given a license to thrill in Nikita.
11. Rose McGowan
Notable action movie appearance: Planet Terror (2008)
Sexiest thing on, errrr, one leg.
10. Michelle Yeoh
Notable action movie appearance: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
A Bond girl who could actually handle herself - perfect.
9. Carrie Fisher
Notable action movie appearance: Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983)
Gold bikini – need we say any more.
8. Michelle Rodriguez
Notable action movie appearance: S.W.A.T (2003), Resident Evil (2002)
Killing her off in Lost just about killed off our interest in the show.
7. Jessica Alba
Notable action movie appearance: Fantastic Four I and II
Made her name in Dark Angel and has to be one of the sexiest women alive today.
6. Carrie-Anne Moss
Notable action movie appearances: The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003)
Named her after The Hollies‘ 1967 hit song, she certainly hits all the right notes. OK, we know that was terrible.
5. Sigourney Weaver
Notable action movie appearances: Alien series (1979-1997)
Not to everyone’s tastes, but no list about bad-ass action babes would be complete without Ripley.
4. Milla Jovovich
Notable action movie appearances: The Fifth Element, Resident Evil I (2002) and II (2007)
Everyone loves Milla time.
3. Kate Beckinsale
Notable action movie appearances: Underworld I and II (2003-2006)
Kate Beckinsale in a tight leather body suit, need we say any more?
2. Uma Thurman
Notable action movie appearance: Kill Bill (2003-2004)
Is it just us or does she get better and better with age?
1. Angelina Jolie
Notable action movie appearances: Lara Croft I and II (2001-2003), Wanted (2008)
Anyone who disagrees with our choice of number one should take a look ather in the grey swim suit. That’s all that needs to be said.
That’s a stone cold fact. You heard it here first. Why are we so sure that Johnny Depp will play The Riddler in Batman 3? Because Johnny Depp recently briefly mumbled something desperately ambiguous about it possibly being quite fun to maybe play The Riddler during a local radio interview with his band.
See? That’s means Johnny Depp is definitely going to be The Riddler in Batman 3, which is why we’ve already started to manufacture a set of Johnny Depp Batman 3 Riddler action figures. OK, admittedly we just got a load of unsold Pirates Of The Caribbean action figures and Tippexed question marks onto their backs but - face it - that’s probably what he’ll be like in the film anyway.
We know this is a bit premature, but we’re absolutely confident that Batman 3 is going to be the best film ever made. Seriously, ever.
Look at how The Dark Knight ended, with Batman living in fear as a supposed criminal vigilante. Batman 3 is going to have the same feeling of doomy paranoia and creeping dread, but it’ll also have Cher titting around in a rubber doily too. There’s something for everyone there, provided that you’re a manic depressive comicbook fan or a stereotypical homosexual.
But what if you want more from The Dark Knight’s sequel than a fed-up Batman and a terrifyingly expressionless pensionable Catwoman who keeps getting her old lady minge out? What if, for instance, you want to see The Riddler in Batman 3?
Well, frankly, if that’s the case you’re an idiot. The Riddler is rubbish. He’s basically The Joker but with a green hat and a thing for Sudoku. He’s Henry Kelly from Going For Gold with a bee in his bonnet. He’s rubbish. Don’t argue, we’re right. He’s rubbish.
But none of that fierce logic is washing with Christopher Nolan. It’s long been rumoured that he’d like to cast Johnny Depp as The Riddler in Batman 3. So far Johnny Depp has kept quiet over the reports, but during a local radio interview recently, he decided to share his thoughts on the matter:
Host: Hey Johnny, a listener called in earlier said you have to ask about the rumors on the internet of you doing the Riddler.
Depp: Oh yeah, I heard about that. Not that I know of.
Host: You’d be a good choice.
Depp: It seems like it’d be a fun gig for a while, yeah.
“It seems like it’d be a fun gig for a while, yeah.” If that’s not official confirmation of the casting, we don’t know what is. But you know what this means?
It’s obvious. Cher as Catwoman and Sweeney Todd’s Johnny Depp as The Riddler? Batman 3 is going to be a musical!
That’s excellent news, and we’d like to take this opportunity to offer Christopher Nolan our specially-composed pieces I’m Just A Lonely Millionaire With A Creepy Bat Fixation, Butla Rapp and Don’t Kiss Me Catwoman (You Have A Moustache Like My Gran). Don’t be stealing our ideas, Nolan.
Don LaFontaine, the man who provided the sonorous voice for more than 5,000 movie trailers, died Monday at age 68.
LaFontaine died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of complications from a collapsed lung. He had been taken to the hospital Aug. 22 with a blood clot in the lung.
LaFontaine was known as the "king of the movie trailers," having done the trailer voiceovers for films such as Terminator, Fatal Attraction, Cheaper by the Dozen, Batman Returns and his personal favourite, The Elephant Man.
His baritone voice and melodramatic delivery are famously associated with the oft-repeated movie trailer phrase, "In a world…"
He also has been parodied by comedians such as Janeanne Garofolo and Pablo Francisco and even participated in parodies of himself, including a shtick in The Simpsons Movie in which Homer repeats what LaFontaine says right after he says it.
LaFontaine also did thousands of television commercials, network promotions, video game trailers and other spots.
He told Entertainment magazine he did more than 60 such promotions a week, and at one point was famous for having a driver take him from studio to studio to save time finding parking.
With the advent of digital recording that could be sent from a home studio, he began recording spots in his Hollywood Hills home.
LaFontaine worked for every major U.S. network, including NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox and UPN, in addition to TNT, TBS and the Cartoon Network.
He did voiceovers on shows as diverse as the 79th Annual Academy Awards, America's Most Wanted and Entertainment Tonight.
He also did spots for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Ford, Budweiser, McDonalds, Coke and many other corporate sponsors, according to his website.
A 'one-man army'
Born Aug. 26, 1940, in Duluth, Minn., LaFontaine enlisted in the army after high school and learned to become a recording engineer. He began his career as a recording engineer for National Recording Studios and produced his first promo for Dr. Strangelove.
The man he was working with, Floyd Peterson, started a company to produce promos, and the two helped create some of the clichés of the movie trailer, including phrases such as "In a world," "A one-man army" and "Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide and no way out."
While working on the 1964 movie Gunfighters of Casa Grande, he filled in for another voice actor in a radio promo. This led to more voice work, and by the 1970s, he was one of Hollywood's busiest voice actors.
He became head of production for Kaleidoscope Films Ltd., a trailer production house, and in 1976 he started his own production company, Don LaFontaine Associates.
His first assignment as an independent was The Godfather, Part II.
From 1978 to 1981, he worked exclusively for Paramount, becoming the voice of the company. After that, he became independent again and moved to Los Angeles to be closer to the studios.
Among his most recent assignments were an appearance (in person) in a Geico ad, a voiceover for Arrested Development and promos for Borat and the Disney movie Meet the Robinsons.
LaFontaine is survived by his actress-singer wife, Nita Whitaker, and three children.
We've had a lot of posts about newer movies here on GeekDad, but everyone knows it's important to read classic novels in order to properly appreciate modern ones, and, likewise, it's important to watch classic movies. Now, many classic movies are too complicated or too intense for kids, so it seems appropriate to start the discussion with comedies. Here are ten comedies that are essential viewing for every geek:
1. Duck Soup - It's hard to pick just one Marx Brothers movie, but this is probably the easiest one for kids to appreciate. The songs in Duck Soup are all silly ones, unlike in most of their movies. And there's tons of slapstick, like the scene with Harpo, Chico, and the lemonade vendor, and of course the famous mirror scene. The political satire will go right over most kids' heads, but teenagers will love it. The only thing to watch out for is a then-acceptable, now-racist line from Groucho: "The Headstrongs married the Armstrongs and that's why darkies were born."
2. The Court Jester - Danny Kaye was a comic genius, and this is one of his best movies. It's accessible to kids because of the Robin Hood-era setting, and the story is, while not uncomplicated, mostly unnecessary to enjoy the funniest bits. Plus, it's got Basil Rathbone parodying himself, and Angela Lansbury as a self-absorbed princess. You can't miss.
3. Sons of the Desert - Laurel and Hardy's best, with all the lines delivered with their trademark comic precision. While they made at least three other movies with essentially the same plot as this one, it's probably the best introduction to the pair.
4. The General - Probably Buster Keaton's best movie, with some of the most amazing stunts ever performed on film. The movie simply never stops moving start to finish, and has enough slapstick and other visual humor that most kids probably won't care that it's a silent film.
5. Safety Last! - Another silent, this is the Harold Lloyd film where he famously hangs from the face of a clock. It's short, very funny, and amazing to watch the stunts. Plus, if you take our advice and show your geeklings Back to the Future, they'll recognize the homage in the clock-hanging scene in that movie--and you can tell them about the Harold/Christopher Lloyd connection, too (though they're not related).
(More after the jump.)
6. Buck Privates - Show your kids "Who's on First," of course, but that's only four minutes long. As their movies went, Abbott and Costello didn't get much better than they were in their first big movie. It's funny throughout, but is worth it just for the scene where Costello explains to Abbott that 28 divided by 7 is 13, which may possibly not be good for kids still learning early math skills (kidding!).
7. Bringing Up Baby - Cary Grant. Katherine Hepburn. A leopard. One of the best screwball comedies ever made. What more could you possibly want?
8. Modern Times - More slapstick, with its master Charlie Chaplin. Most kids won't get the social commentary, but the Little Tramp is bound to appeal. Worth it just for Chaplin's famous trip through the machinery.
9. The Great Race - The most recent movie on the list (1965), this Jack Lemmon/Tony Curtis film isn't as great as Some Like It Hot, but is much more accessible to kids. It's ostensibly about a car race around the world, but it's really about as much slapstick as Blake Edwards could fit into a movie with a whole bunch of great actors.
10. It Happened One Night - The original screwball comedy, with Clark Gable at his most charming. You can even teach the kids a bit about the time period, mentioning the possibility (unconfirmed) that sales of men's undershirts may have fallen drastically after the scene where Gable takes off his shirt to show his bare chest.
You may not know the name, but you'll have heard the voice hundreds, if not thousands of times. Don LaFontaine, king of the movie voiceover, has died at the age of 68.
LaFontaine, who was known for habitually using the words "in a world" to preface his work on trailers, died at Cedar-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles of complications from a collapsed lung on Monday, according to ETonline. However that cause of death was not official at the time of this report.
LaFontaine's powerful tones appeared on more than 5,000 movie trailers and nearly 350,000 commercials. His website lists voiceovers for Terminator II: Judgement Day, Shrek, Minority Report and Dodgeball among his most famous work, and he had also worked as the in-house announcer at the Oscars and the Screen Actors Guild awards. He was credited as being the busiest ever member of the latter, based on the number of contracts signed in his working life.
LaFontaine had recently parodied himself on a series of US TV commercials for Geico. He was referred to as "that announcer guy from the movies" and stood in the background translating in LaFontaine-speak while a customer revealed her wonderful experience at the hands of the insurance company.
LaFontaine, who was born in Duluth, Minnesota, bgan his career as a recording engineer, but got his big break when he filled in for an absentee voice artist on the 1964 western Gunfighters of Casa Grande.
At his peak, he is said to have recorded more than 60 voiceovers in a week, and sometimes as many 35 in a single day. So busy was he that he employed a full-time chauffeur to ferry him from gig to gig. This, he said, saved him time as he didn't have to worry about parking in between jobs.
In latter years, with the advent of ISDN, LaFontaine recorded almost exclusively from a home studio at his estate in the Hollywood hills.
He is survived by his wife, the singer/actor Nita Whitaker and three children, Christine, Skye and Elyse.