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Monday, September 15, 2008

Eva Longoria as the Wasp in 'Avengers' movie? A building buzz

Wasp_2Eva Longoria of "Desperate Housewives" fame was photographed leaving the L.A. offices of Marvel Studios clutching a business card and some comic books in her hand. The comic book on top? That would be a copy of the Avengers.

The first thing that popped in my head when I heard this: She's going to be Thor!

No, no, just joking. The first thought is that she wants to be Janet Van Dyne, the winsome Wasp, a founding member of the Marvel super team and eventual wife of Hank Pym, the Ant-Man.

Longoria, at least judging by her prevailing gossip-page persona, does seem to have some of the Wasp's, um, entitlement attitude. Van Dyne was a flighty, sometimes conniving and always spoiled daughter of a wealthy scientist, and after his death she used her inheritance for world-class shopping Talestoastonish_2 sprees.

She pretty much had a new costume on every few pages in the comics. And in the early days, she sure was kidnapped a lot.

Her first appearance in "Tales to Astonish" No. 44 introduced her on the cover as "Ant-Man's gorgeous new partner-in-peril," but it could have been "smoking-hot sidekick in distress."

Eva_3But more than a villain's trophy and a Manhattan social butterfly, the Wasp became an especially perceptive member of the Avengers and a key part of the team chemistry that made it less of a simple boy's club. As the years went on, she was increasingly portrayed as the savvy woman on the team who might have a makeup mirror in her hand but was also more intuitive then a lot of the lab-coat geniuses around her.

Van Dyne could be also pretty calculating, which raises another thought: If you look at these parking-garage photos of Longoria, it sure does seem like the actress is flashing that comic book with a bit of purpose. I wonder if she is trying to stir up a bit of fan chatter that will help her lock in the role...

-- Geoff Boucher

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Just How In Trouble Is Dollhouse?

We told you earlier this week that new Joss Whedon series Dollhouse has shut down production for two weeks, along with passing along the official Fox statement that everything is fine and that there's nothing to see here, move along. But since then, rumors have been sneaking out that more may be going on than meets the eye, so we started wondering: Should we be worried about Dollhouse already?

Despite the official line that the production hiatus is simply to give Whedon a chance to retool scripts to his own satisfaction, Television Week has heard a slightly more believable take on the situation:

A person familiar with the thinking of some Fox executives told TelevisionWeek that there have been concerns raised inside the network about the fundamental underpinnings of the show.

Specifically, because the heroine of the show, played by Eliza Dushku, has no free will or ability to do much beyond what she’s told to do, viewers might find it hard to root for her. In addition, some executives have expressed concerns that early episodes of the series have been confusing and hard to follow.

This is, of course, the second time that Fox execs have voiced concerns about the show. The first time,
the pilot ended up being replaced by an all-new episode, but Whedon himself made great efforts to calm fans down and tell them that this was actually a good thing:

The network truly gets the premise (this is a whole new crew, as you know), loves the cast, is excited about the show – but they’re also specific about how they want to bring people to the show and I not only respect that, I kinda have to slap my forehead that I didn’t tailor my tone and structure to the network’s needs, since that’s something I pride myself on.

So, does this second course-correction - whether you believe the rumored version or the official version, it's clear that the scripts written so far aren't meeting someone's approval - bode ill for those who were looking forward to a creepy, complex show? The Television Week article suggests that that may be the case, noting that Fox executives feel that the problems that forced the filming of a second pilot still exist in later scripts.

It's understandable why Fox are so nervous; Whedon may be your Master Now, but compared with the ratings (and, thanks to Mission Impossible III and Cloverfield, box office) clout of JJ Abrams, he's a nobody; if his much-hyped (and much more straight-forward) Fringe got disappointing ratings for its premiere, then what are the odds of a mass audience embracing a show about the concept of identity where the stars aren't recurring characters as much as recurring faces with brand new characters each week - especially when NBC's My Own Worst Enemy approaches the same MeMePlex personality idea from a much more mainstream angle?

(To make matters slightly more dire for sci-fi on Fox, the premiere of the second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles also underperformed - although Fox's ratings in general have been disappointing so far this season.)

The two-week hiatus isn't necessarily the end of the world - Fox's 24 made a similar move last week - but the show that comes out on the other side of it is either likely to be more dumbed-down to please both Fox executives and a wider audience, or more likely to be taken off the air before it's completed its thirteen-episode run. Either way, it won't be the show that everyone wanted it to be.

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The 5 Most Baffling Spin-Offs in Television History

By Eric Seufert

A TV spin-off is almost bad by definition: it's whatever is left when an executive draws a big circle around the characters people actually care about and says, "let's write a pilot without these people."

But the truly terrible TV spin-offs are awful on a whole different level. They take these characters and wedge them into some pointless or ill-fitting premise that makes us care about them even less. Here are five spin-offs that truly make us wonder what the fuck they were thinking.

#5.
Baywatch Nights

Spun Off From: Baywatch

Premise:

Bored in his position as resident police officer of Baywatch, Sergeant Garner Ellerbee forms a detective agency with Baywatch lifeguard and former Navy Seal Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff) with the intention of solving the apparently countless paranormal mysteries that plague the beaches of Los Angeles.

Ridiculous Because:

Given that 90% of American males envision their retirement from the corporate grind as some variation of an episode of Baywatch, it's hard to imagine that a man whose job responsibilities include "watching breasts bounce" and "confiscating recreational drugs from surfers" would endeavor to transition into a more demanding, more dangerous line of work.


Picture unrelated to article.

But beyond the Baywatch gang's incomprehensible motivation to change careers, the storylines of some of Baywatch Night's episodes are downright ridiculous. For example, take Episode 24: The Creature, wherein the detectives come face-to-face with an amphibious, serial-killing woman hell-bent on procreating. Or Episode 38: Zargtha, in which a man-wolf torments teenaged runaways living in an earthquake-prone abandoned building.

As you've probably deduced by now, the show was a cheap attempt to cash in on the X-Files craze. But there's a reason Mulder didn't wear zinc on his nose and Skully wielded a gun instead of a whistle: otherworldly encounters just don't occur on the beach.


Not pictured: A realistic setting for a show about monsters.

#4.
Golden Palace

Spun Off From: The Golden Girls

Premise:

Rejuvenated by seven years of living in a house together and discussing their unfathomably active sex lives, three of the four Golden Girls (minus Bea Arthur) open an upscale hotel in Miami. Because running a hotel slightly more work than these spunky 70-year-olds can handle, they hire Chuy Castillos (Cheech Marin) to run the kitchen and Roland Wilson (Don Cheadle) to manage the front desk.

Ridiculous Because:

While some projects, like putting together a bookshelf, only require elbow grease and a can-do attitude, we're pretty sure that opening an upscale hotel in one of the most expensive cities in the world takes millions of dollars and years of industry experience.

But that's not to say that these lively gals don't have one thing going for them: the second any of them mentioned sex in front of a guest, they wouldn't have to worry about paying the kitchen staff overtime that day.


"Picture us fucking!"

The show was canceled after one season, and producers resisted the temptation to generate another spinoff where the girls buy and run their own island nation.

#3.
Women of the House

Spun Off From: Designing Women

Premise:

After Suzanne Sugarbaker's (Delta Burke) fifth husband dies, the former Atlanta beauty queen assumes his congressional office and, along with her mentally-handicapped brother, her spry, vivacious daughter, and her sassy administrative assistant, enters the bureaucratic power-labyrinth of Washington D.C.

Ridiculous Because:

We can buy Delta Burke's marriage to a parliamentarian (although in the deep South we think they're called Grand Wizards). But even before the first poorly-scripted one-liner about Congress being full of more nuts than momma's pecan pie can signal to the audio tech that it's time to light up the "APPLAUSE" sign, the show asks us to accept that not a single person would object to a dead senator's elected position being taken over by his sassy wife.

The show lasted just nine episodes, when CBS abruptly pulled it off the air when they saw that episode 10 featured a "montage of women being brutally abused." CBS demanded the scene be cut (whatever for?) and then just decided to kill the show completely.

To be clear, the scene was not of actual women being abused on, like, a hidden camera or something. It was a montage of movies and TV shows, and was supposed to be making some kind of point about the way women are treated in popular culture. Way to stand up for feminism, Show About Wacky Lady Who Marries Her Way Into Congress.

#2.
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart

Spun Off From: The Apprentice

Premise:

In the same vein as Donald Trump's The Apprentice, Martha Stewart vets an assortment of type-A go-getters in an attempt to find an apprentice to run one of her businesses. The contestants compete in business challenges and are dismissed from the competition if they fail to accurately mimic Stewart's emotionless zeal for homemaking and improvised craft design.

Ridiculous Because:

It's a small wonder that NBC executives were capable of casting multiple seasons of the original Apprentice --a series that rewarded its winners with jobs under a man that has declared bankruptcy as many times as he's been divorced.

One should never underestimate the enthusiasm of newly-minted MBAs for putting their death-grip on someone else's coattails. But Martha Stewart's claim to "business tycoon" status during the show's taping was pretty suspect since she was under house arrest after having been convicted of perjury, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice for her part in the ImClone stock trading scandal.

It's tough to imagine that the contestants being told "Goodbye" each week--Stewart's take on Trump's "You're Fired"--weren't silently thanking their lucky stars for not being tapped as Stewart's shower-room wingman. Job training doesn't usually include learning to file a shank out of an old mop handle.

#1.
Knight Rider: 2010

Spun Off From: Knight Rider

Premise:

Knight Rider 2010 was a made-for-TV movie that takes place in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of a little more than a year from now. The story followed Jake MacQueen, a futuristic smuggler whose lover, Hannah, is killed. However, before death she stored her personality in a crystal computer memory storage, which winds up implanted in a beat-up Ford Mustang.

Ridiculous Because:

You may think it's unfair that we mock the show for failing to accurately predict the world of 2010, but that future was only 16 years away at the time the show was made (1994). That means the writers still thought that society was less than two decades away from: 1) developing personality-storing crystals and 2) devolving into a wasteland of human slavery.

But all of that aside, this has to be the most tangential connection to an original show any spinoff has ever had. It's a complete rebooting that takes place in an entirely different, and far stupider, universe. The "KITT" in this show doesn't even show up until half way through, and when it does, Instead of a cool-ass talking car that fights crime we wind up with a shitty car possessed by the hero's dead girlfriend.


"We never just talk anymore."

The concept didn't survive beyond the one movie, which is too bad because we were sort of hoping it would at least last long enough for the inevitable scene where the hero makes passionate love to the car.

Original here

David Foster Wallace Found Dead

CLAREMONT, Calif. — David Foster Wallace, the author best known for his 1996 novel "Infinite Jest," was found dead in his home, according to police. He was 46.

Wallace's wife found her husband had hanged himself when she returned home about 9:30 p.m. Friday, said Jackie Morales, a records clerk with the Claremont Police Department.

Wallace taught creative writing and English at nearby Pomona College.

"He cared deeply for his students and transformed the lives of many young people," said Dean Gary Kates. "It's a great loss to our teaching faculty."

Wallace's first novel, "The Broom of the System," gained national attention in 1987 for its ambition and offbeat humor. The New York Times said the 24-year-old author "attempts to give us a portrait, through a combination of Joycean word games, literary parody and zany picaresque adventure, of a contemporary America run amok."

Published in 1996, "Infinite Jest" cemented Wallace's reputation as a major American literary figure. The 1,000-plus-page tome, praised for its complexity and dark wit, topped many best-of lists. Time Magazine named "Infinite Jest" in its issue of the "100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005."

Wallace received a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation in 1997.

In 2002, Wallace was hired to teach at Pomona in a tenured English Department position endowed by Roy E. Disney. Kates said when the school began searching for the ideal candidate, Wallace was the first person considered.

"The committee said, 'we need a person like David Foster Wallace.' They said that in the abstract," Kates said. "When he was approached and accepted, they were heads over heels. He was really the ideal person for the position."

Wallace's short fiction was published in Esquire, GQ, Harper's, The New Yorker and the Paris Review. Collections of his short stories were published as "Girl With Curious Hair" and "Brief Interviews With Hideous Men."

He wrote nonfiction for several publications, including an essay on the U.S. Open for Tennis magazine and a profile of the director David Lynch for Premiere.

Born in Ithaca, N.Y., Wallace attended Amherst College and the University of Arizona.

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