Tuesday, September 16, 2008

William Shatner on comics, fame and missing the 'Star Trek' movie

Communications were down and the captain looked confused. “These computer guys are working in my office,” William Shatner muttered, “so I don’t know where we should go to talk.”

The 77-year-old was standing in the lobby of his Studio City office, which is lined with more photographs from his beloved equestrian pursuits than his interstellar acting career. He looked at the ceiling and then the door. “I know: Let’s go to Starbucks. I don’t have my wallet, though. Will you buy me coffee?”

Wow, Mr. Priceline paycheck can’t pay for a cup of joe?

I'm joking, of course; I was genuinely thrilled to spring for a triple-shot decaf for the man who gave us all James T. Kirk, the bane of the Klingon empire and the master of the strained staccato delivery. I wasn't the only one a little geeked to see the venerable old space cowboy; the barista got the “Star Trek” icon's autograph on an empty cup and then customers kept coming by our table to shake his hand. One gushed about “Boston Legal,” and another, oddly, expressed a passion for those Priceline.com ads. “Maybe coming here,” Shatner whispered, “wasn’t a good idea.”

Shatner is shorter than you think and bow-legged after all those years in the saddle, but the main impression he makes is as a man of fairly intense focus. He brought a stack of notes to the café and scanned them, then looked up like a professor about to start his lecture. “Let’s begin, we have plenty to talk about.” I sat up a little straighter and looked at my tape recorder to make the sure the red light was on.

And there was a lot to talk about. There is a new “Star Trek” film coming, and Shatner is peeved that he won’t be in it (more on that later), but it’s just about the only thing he isn’t in. This past weekend he popped in on “Saturday Night Live” and Sunday night he may well be picking up his third Emmy for his sublimely kooky role as lawyer Denny Crane, the scene stealer on “Boston Legal” (and previously on “The Practice”). “Boston” returns for its final season on Sept. 22.

Kirk_2 There’s also Shatner’s sometime-career in music, his recent autobiography and the deep shelf of sci-fi novels with his name on them, as well as his pitchman work. There’s also a brand new venture: The actor is getting into the comic-book business by partnering with Bluewater Productions Inc on adaptations of his novels about heroic deep-space struggles. Two books, "Man o' War" and "Quest for Tomorrow," will each be given a mini-series treatment, while his far more famous "TekWar" will be an up-ended series. (Darren G. Davis, president of Bluewater, tells me this "TekWar" will also be more faithful to the original novel than the 1990s television series of the same title, which itself yielded a Marvel Comics adaptation.) There will be a fourth title, also, based on a new Shatner concept that is still under wraps.

“With all of these comics, I have final approval," Shatner told me. "This is not a licensing arrangement, this will be me involved very directly throughout the process. They are going to do adaptations of my ideas and also sequels; they will be in the stores in March of 2009. I loved comics as a kid. I used to sit under the sheets with a flashlight and read Superman when I was 6 in Montreal and now, with the comics as they are today, it’s thrilling, really.”

ShatnerShatner kept tabs on comics through the years, and he has a soft spot for the old Gold Key comics based on the original "Star Trek" television series. "Oh, they were great. They always made me look so skinny." He also watches the current rage for super-hero movies with a bit of longing. "I would have loved to have been in a super-hero movie. Any of them. To be Superman? Or Captain Marvel? Who wouldn't love that?"

Shatner will have his name emblazoned in the title of the new comics, and it would have been a nice tie-in if the early issues were coming out amid the hoopla of his appearance in the next “Star Trek” film, the J.J. Abrams reboot set for May, but that’s a party he is not invited to. Only Leonard Nimoy, sharing the role of Spock, will be returning to the cast, which will otherwise feature young actors portraying Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew fresh from Starfleet Academy.

“There is no need for me to know anything because I’m not a part of it. They will have an extraordinary campaign when it comes about, and my dear friend Leonard will be part of that and I would have loved to have been there with him. I am very happy for Leonard, my good friend, though.”

But wait, didn’t Shatner’s Kirk die on screen in “Star Trek Generations” in 1994? He rolled his eyes. “It’s science fiction! If we’re trying to put together the DNA of a dinosaur dead for a 160 million years, why can’t scientists take a molecule that’s floating around and bring back Kirk?” Shatner shook his head and watched the traffic on Ventura Boulevard. “It was weird for me to hand over the movie reins to Patrick Stewart in the last movie. It’s strange to say goodbye. But it isn’t any more strange than saying goodbye to ‘Boston Legal,’ which has been part of my life these past few years in an extraordinary way.”

It was on “The Practice” that Shatner first appeared as Crane, an aging attorney with a slippery grasp of ethics and, at times, reality.

“For me, it has been the greatest fun I’ve ever had as an actor. I’m already in a nostalgic frame of mind. We have about two months left of shooting ‘Boston Legal.’ I will mourn and grieve the loss of this show. I won't miss getting up and driving to Manhattan Beach at 5 a.m., but i will miss the people. And David Kelley: I looked with relish each week when the script came in to see what new madness David had come up with for me. I have worked with very few geniuses, but David Kelley is a true genius. The efficiency of his ideas is perhaps the best in television. 'Boston Legal’ always had dual currents as the main flow of its history. On the one hand it was a comedy — outrageous, farcical, almost demented — and the other one was as a dedicated political treatise in which a very erudite man.”

On “SNL” this past weekend, Shatner spoofed his pitchman work for Priceline by pretending to coach Olympic hero Michael Phelps about maintaining "integrity" when it comes to accepting endorsements. The crux of the gag is that Shatner would do anything for a buck and, well, he was the guy who in 2006 sold a kidney stone to Goldenpalace.com for $75,000. The money went to charity, though, so the real knock on Shatner isn't that he's money-hungry, it's that he's starving for the spotlight. (The kidney stunt got Shatner on “The View,” by the way.) When the aging actor talks about his latest Emmy nomination, it’s clear that for him the platform is more important than the paycheck.

“Look at Lance Armstrong and Brett Favre, these guys that keep coming back. It's the roar of the crowd and being told how great you are. It's like that with the nominations. It makes you part of the happening. When you’re not nominated, when you’re not on the scene, then you’re not happening. No matter what you or anyone else says, when that light is not on, you’re in the dark. You don’t know who you are until someone cheers your name. And spells it right.”

-- Geoff Boucher

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Metallica, Death Magnetic, and the Glory Days of Heavy Metal

by Reg Seeton

After checking out Metallica's newly released Death Magnetic, I've had it up to my eyeballs with the twenty year schoolyard shouting match fans have had over old Metallica and new Metallica. Thankfully, with the release of Death Magnetic, Metallica has finally put an end to the debate once and for all. Death Magnetic is not only an album that sees the band return to their Metal and Trash roots as much as they possibly could over two decades removed from Kill 'Em All, but it's also a 10-song release that gives fans much more than what they bargained for, this one included. As I write this article, I'm listening to Death Magnetic in its entirety for the fourth time and can safely say it ranks as one of Metallica's best albums.

Initial Reaction to Death Magnetic:

After checking out Death Magnetic for the first time, I set my headphones on my desk and reflected on Metallica's return to form. From start to finish, Death Magnetic simply gets better with each song. The most surprising aspect of the album is that the first single, "The Day That Never Comes", is the weakest song on the roster yet it still kicks ass. There's not one Metallica fan who could convince me "Cyanide", "The End of the Line", "Broken, Beat & Scarred", or "My Apocalypse" aren't as aggressive, tight, and explosive as their early songs. Each song is completely in the "Battery" and "Four Horsemen" wheelhouses with roots in the Black album and heavy layers of Ride the Lightning. Listen to "My Apocalypse" a couple of times and you'll understand why a lot of naysayers are eating their words. To those who continue to whine about how Metallica has never been nearly as great their early days... Grow up already! The days of Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and And Justice for All are gone. They're never coming back, and I'll tell you why...

A Changing of the Guard:

Metallica's sound, songwriting, and style could never ever be the same as their early days because Heavy Metal and Trash died a sudden death with the emergence of Grunge. The dark, epic and melodic anthem aspects of metal (ie: Fade to Black, Sanitarium... even most of Iron Maiden's tunes) gave way to a more uneven and experimental alternative Seattle sound from bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains. Don't the fans of Metallica's early years get it by now? Very few bands of the traditional Heavy Metal and Trash eras survived. Many once unstoppable Monsters of Rock of the glory days of Heavy Metal were kicked to the wayside somewhere in time (<-- Iron Maiden nod for those who care) around 1990, with several fading into obscurity and many never to be heard from again. Dio, Dokken, Sepultura, Exodus, Saxon, King Diamond, Napalm Death, Kings X, Merciful Fate... the list goes on and on into Venom, W.A.S.P. and more. They were all amazing, but the times changed. As a new era of hard and heavy riffs emerged in the '90s amd '00s, bands like Cannibal Corpse, Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, Korn, Deftones, and Slipknot can hardly be called traditional Heavy Metal in the same light as he bigger bands of the '80s. Alternative, Industrial, and "Nu" Metal, sure.

The first concert I ever attended was back in the mid-80s at a 20,000 seat arena to see Iron Maiden on their Peace of Mind tour. Ten years later, after front man Bruce Dickinson left the band only to be replaced by Blaze Bayley, I bought tickets to Iron Maiden who were playing at a venue that held 2000 at max capacity. It was a stark reminder that Metal was dead and how far the mighty had fallen. Yet Metallica was still alive and kicking at one of the best live outdoor gigs I've ever seen when they played headliner to The Ramones and Soundgarden at Lollapalooza. Although the controversial decision to include Metallica on the tour marked the beginning of the end for the Alt-Indie flavored Lollapalooza, there they were in the thick of the hottest tour of the '90s.

Survival of the Fittest:

While most of the Metal bands from the glory days can be found in the "where are they now graveyard", bands like Slayer, Megadeath, Pantera, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden didn't have an easy time of staying relevant over the past twenty years. Although we said goodbye to Pantera's Dimebag Darrell a few years ago, they somehow found a way to survive throughout the '90s and into the '00s. Hell, even Lemmy and Motorhead survived. So too has Metallica, only they've survived as the top heavy metal band in the world in the past 20 years despite the many transformations they've undergone. Some changes were good and some were bad, but Metallica has been selling out the same stadiums and arenas as they were as openers in the glory days of Heavy Metal. It wasn't Dokken, Dio, Megadeath, Maiden or Sepultura headlining Lollapalooza at a time when Metal and Trash were dead, it was Metallica.

The fact that Metallica has been giving fans new music for the past two decades since the death of Heavy Metal, have also found a way to stay relevant in a vastly different music landscape, and are still releasing #1 selling albums with Death Magnetic is something fans should be thankful for. When you stop for a second and think about it after listening to Death Magnetic, it's truly amazing.

The Past Meets the Future:

The more I listen to songs like "Cyanide", "All Nightmare Long", and "The Unforgiven III", Death Magnetic should have been a follow up to the Black album. But at that time, Heavy Metal and Thrash were dead. So would Metallica have died, too? It's certainly highly possible since the evidence is there with other bands of the era. If anything, Metallica has never been predictable. Can you fault a band for trying to adapt to the many changes in music over the years? Although Metallica purists loath Load and Reload, even St. Anger, would a Master of Puppets sound have worked for the band from 1990 to 2008? Should James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich have been forced to write songs as if they were 18 years old when none of us are the same as we were in high school? As its original fan base grew up and entered adulthood, so did the members of Metallica.

Death Magnetic is as close as we're going to get to revisiting the past and Metallica's reign during the glory days of Heavy Metal and Trash. But how does Death Magnetic shape up now that metal-heads of all ages have had time to digest the goods? In simple terms, it's already my pick for album of the year.

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How the Music Business Spent the Summer Killing Itself

Labels Pull Albums off iTunes, RIAA Goes After Internet Radio -- When Will They Ever Learn?

A few weeks back, as I was having dinner with a media-industry colleague at a trendy restaurant in a trendy New York neighborhood, I realized that the music coming over the sound system was transporting me to another time -- specifically, 1986. As song after song by various "it" bands of the moment, such as Black Kids and the Virgins, played, it was as if we were listening to a time-warped or parallel-universe version of the "Pretty in Pink" soundtrack. Because really, the "it" sound of the moment would work seamlessly in just about any John Hughes movie circa the mid-'80s.
'Pretty in Pink': Today's 'it' bands would fit right in.
'Pretty in Pink': Today's 'it' bands would fit right in.

In fact, I suggested to my dinner companion that there might be a niche market in this: Somebody should create a soundtrack titled "Pretty in Pink 2: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Movie That Never Got Made." (Same deal with "The Breakfast Club" and "Sixteen Candles.") Of course, in the iTunes Age, the conventional wisdom is that nobody buys albums anymore -- but they do buy compilations. (Witness the continuing global success of the "Now That's What I Call Music!" franchise; the latest U.S. "Now" compilation, the 28th in the series, was released in June and went platinum last month.)

As it happens, my colleague ended up buying "Partie Traumatic," Black Kids' debut CD, on iTunes. He doesn't really read music criticism, so he didn't know -- and wouldn't have cared -- that Rolling Stone and The Guardian loved the record or that Pitchfork hated it. He just really liked the Black Kids song we heard over dinner ("I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You"), got hooked and became a customer.

All of that got me thinking about the economics of music discovery, whether by hearing new music in a restaurant, in a movie theater or on the internet. Speaking of which, the deeply troubled music industry, rather astonishingly, has been spending its summer making it harder for music fans to encounter new music online. Last month, for instance, Muxtape, which I raved about in this column when it launched earlier this year, went dark. Created by former college-radio DJ Justin Ouellette, the hipster favorite made it simple for music fans to create virtual mix tapes -- short lists of songs your friends (and other Muxtape users) could listen to but not download, because Muxtape used streaming technology. (Muxtape, in fact, offered links to Amazon's MP3 store to make it easy for users to buy songs they had just heard.) But now, a simple, sad message appears on the Muxtape home page: "Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA" -- the Recording Industry Association of America. A brief period? We'll see.

Likewise, the hugely popular internet radio station Pandora is "approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision," as founder Tim Westergren told The Washington Post, because the federal government, prompted by the music industry, doubled the "performance-royalty" rate that internet radio stations must pay (to record companies) to stream music -- twice as much as satellite radio. Traditional terrestrial radio stations, mind you, don't have to pay performance royalties: They pay only publishing royalties to songwriters. The new internet-radio royalty rates kicked in as of July, and they threaten to kill not just Pandora but the rest of the fledgling internet-radio market.

Meanwhile, we're seeing artists and labels pulling music from iTunes in hopes of juicing album sales. Warner, for instance, just pulled Estelle's entire album "Shine" from iTunes because it didn't want fans to be able to buy just its ubiquitous hit single, "American Boy" (featuring Kanye West). It's kind of sweetly principled that Estelle -- and/or the suits at Warner -- think that "Shine" is a complete work of art that must be purchased in its entirety and then presumably listened to from start to finish. Principled but idiotic -- and the proof is that "Shine" and "American Boy" are both now in freefall on the Billboard charts. (Your neighborhood drug dealer wouldn't do so well either if he forced all his customers to buy in bulk.)

All in all, it's been a depressing summer for the delusional record industry. We're seeing a total disconnect between labels' unrealistic, old-school revenue expectations and what the market can bear. On the streaming-music front in particular, the sad reality is that advertising revenue isn't, and may never be, there to fully support the music industry's wishful-thinking profit margins.

As Advertising Age Editor Jonah Bloom said to me last week, labels "can't help looking at what they used to earn from a big band's latest release and wondering why they can't score that. ... The trick is to get your costs in line with your anticipated sales based on current revenue rather than former revenue."

But the music industry, stuck obsessing about exactly that -- former revenue -- would prefer that you only listen to music when and where they want you to. And that's no way to figure out the path to future revenue.

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Floyd founder Wright dies at 65

Roger Waters, Nick Mason, Syd Barrett and Richard Wright
Wright (right) wrote songs on albums including Dark Side Of The Moon

Pink Floyd keyboard player and founder member Richard Wright has died, aged 65, from cancer.

Wright appeared on the group's first album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, in 1967 alongside lead guitarist Syd Barrett, Roger Waters and Nick Mason.

Dave Gilmour joined the band at the start of 1968 while Barrett left the group shortly afterwards.

Gilmour said: "No-one can replace Richard Wright - he was my musical partner and my friend."

Writing on his website, he added: "In the welter of arguments about who or what was Pink Floyd, Rick's enormous input was frequently forgotten."

Wright's spokesman said in a statement: "The family of Richard Wright, founder member of Pink Floyd, announce with great sadness that Richard died today after a short struggle with cancer.

"The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this difficult time."

He did not say what form of cancer the self-taught keyboard player and pianist had.

Live 8

Wright, a founder member of The Pink Floyd Sound - and other previous incarnations including Sigma 6 - met Waters and Mason at architecture school.

Richard Wright
Wright rejoined Pink Floyd for the London Live 8 concert in 2005
Pink Floyd achieved legendary status with albums including 1973's The Dark Side Of The Moon, which stayed in the US album chart for more than a decade.

Wright, known as Rick earlier in his career, wrote The Great Gig In The Sky and Us And Them from the album.

Waters left the band in 1981, performing his last concert at London's Earls Court.

Wright, together with Gilmour and Mason, continued to record and tour as Pink Floyd during the remainder of the 1980s and into the 1990s, releasing their last studio album - The Division Bell - in 1994.

In 2005, the full band reunited - for the first time in 24 years - for the Live 8 concert in London's Hyde Park.

Wright also contributed vocals and keyboards to Gilmour's 2006 solo album On An Island, while performing with his touring band in shows in Europe and the US.

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8 Classic Movies That Got Away With Gaping Plot Holes

By Darach McGarrigle

People hate plot holes in movies. At least, that's what they'll tell you. But sometimes, if a movie is awesome enough, people will overlook even the most retarded gaps in reason and logic.

At least, until some asshole on the Internet points them out and makes a big list of them. Enjoy:

Back to the Future

The Plot:

Marty McFly goes back in time, helps his parents get together, invents rock and roll...

The Hole:

...and everyone promptly forgets he was ever there the minute he leaves.

Nobody notices that a famous clothing brand is later named after him, nobody notices that Chuck Berry releases a song that sounds pretty similar to the one he played at the big dance, and most importantly, nobody bats an eyelid when his Mom has a kid who looks exactly like him.

Now we don't claim to know exactly what first enters the mind of a married man when his wife births a child who looks identical to their old high school boyfriend, but we're guessing it's not "time travel conspiracy." Old George was either the most oblivious, forgiving man on earth, or there were some secret resentment beatings in the McFly household.

Even more disturbing, what must his Mom have thought? The only explanation we can see making sense from her point of view is that Marty was Satan (he did invent rock and roll after all) and the whole thing's some kind of demon spawn Rosemary's Baby type deal. And no one should ever be in a position where the most plausible explanation for their situation implies that they fucked Satan.

This was the most sinister looking picture of Michael J Fox we could find.

Plus, think how chilling Marty's final remark on stage becomes given this context: "I guess you're not ready for that yet... but your kids are gonna love it."

Minority Report

The Plot:

Tom Cruise is convicted of a murder he hasn't committed yet, by a team of psychics called "precogs."

The Hole:

The precogs? They don't work. At all. We're told they predict the future but nothing they predict ever happens. If they actually predicted the future properly, they'd predict the people getting arrested, not committing murders.

In the entire movie, the only precog prediction that actually comes true exactly as they said involves a kid losing a balloon. Chinese fortune cookies have a higher success rate than these guys.

But maybe they're really more telepathic than precognitive, able to see what people's intentions are. Except they can't do that, either. The movie is set in motion by the premeditated murder ball coming out with Tom Cruise's character's name on it. But he hadn't planned the murder at all. The whole point of the movie is that he had no idea who he was going to kill.

The one time they do predict a murder that actually happens, they still manage to fuck it up. The loophole the movie's villain exploits is that if you commit a murder that looks identical to a previous murder, when the precogs' vision comes up they'll just think it was an echo and delete it. But that would only get rid of the image, there'd still be a new ball naming you as the murderer, which would be hard to explain. Seems like a flawed plan right? Well, it would be in any other movie.

Add that to the fact that Tom Cruise was able to continually get past the retina scanners at police headquarters by using the eyes he had when he first became a fugitive (they don't revoke your access when you get accused of murder? What, do they operate on the retina honor system?) and you have to wonder if they weren't just making shit up as they went along.

The Sixth Sense

The Plot:

Spoiler alert: Bruce Willis is dead. The whole time. We totally didn't see it coming and apparently neither did he. He's only able to figure out he's a ghost when he sees his wife drop his wedding ring.

The Hole:

But shouldn't he have figured it out before that? All the other ghosts in the film seemed to be wandering the earth, mindlessly reliving their deaths, with little awareness of the outside world at all. But ol' Bruce was just carrying on as normal, working and going about his day-to-day routine, completely unfazed by the fact no one but a small child had spoken to him in several months.

What kind of lifestyle was he living before his death that would make him fail to notice that no one could see or hear him? He assumes his wife isn't speaking to him because he's "neglecting their marriage." In the days right after he died, did he think she was mad at him for getting shot in the stomach? And what about everyone else? Does he also assume all waiters are suddenly assholes? That the girl at the supermarket check out finds him too hideous to make eye contact with? That taxis won't stop for him because he's balding?

And how does he get the assignment to treat the kid anyway? Nobody hired him, being a ghost and all. Does he just approach random children in churches and start giving them free psychiatric advice? That's no way to run a business, ghost or not, and we're pretty sure it will get you thrown in jail.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Plot:

At the end of another wondrous wizarding adventure, Harry uses a magical time-travel necklace to go back and save himself and his godfather from the evil dementors.

The Hole:

This is actually a problem in most movies that contain time machines. The movie treats time travel like this urgent thing: "We've made it to the past! Now we've only got a few minutes to go back and stop the dementors!" No you don't, you have as much time as you need. It's fucking time travel. If you mess up, just go back and try again.

"OK, thirty-seventh attempt..."

They also seem to feel that they have to do it immediately, that there's no time to wait. Of course there's time to wait, you've got a goddamn time machine. Do it tomorrow, do it in ten years. You already know you've succeeded, you were there when it happened. It's actually the only situation you could be in where failure is impossible. It's the least suspenseful thing imaginable, yet they treat it as the nail-biting climax of the movie.

The power to travel through time still wouldn't be worth
the humiliation of owning Harry Potter jewelry.

We're picking on Harry Potter especially for this because after they use the time machine that one time, that was it. For the rest of the saga, the entire wizarding world is under siege from a magical Hitler, and they never again find the time travel useful? Despite all the people who die in the Harry Potter series (and post Azkaban, they start killing them off like it's a Friday the 13th movie) he never goes back and saves any of them?

Selfish prick.

Citizen Kane

Yeah, even Kane. The greatest film of all time, according to those monocle-wearing types who refuse to even consider Robocop for the title.

The Plot:

A bunch of reporters try to figure out the meaning of Charles Foster Kane's last words. "Rosebud."

The Hole:

No one was around to hear them.

Now, no one's suggesting that journalists in the 40s weren't good at getting scoops. With the chief breathing down their neck and dames left and right trying to play them for saps, they pretty much had to be good. But unless their source was telepathic or invisible, there's no way they could know what Kane said.

Kane's nurse, arriving several minutes too late for the movie to make any fucking sense

And if they really are just that good, you think they'd also know the twist ending, that Rosebud was his sled (what kind of weirdo names his sled anyway? Does he miss his childhood desk chair too?).

So the next time some film critic is getting all up in your face, picking holes in your favorite movie, hit them with that, and watch them curl up into a ball and weep like a child. Then maybe kick 'em a couple of times. If you think we're being too hard on the critics, remember that they get paid to watch movies and be dicks about them. We on the other hand ... never mind.

Fantastic Voyage

You may not have seen this one if you're the type who refuses to watch movies from before you were born. This is from a better time, when men were men, movie titles told you exactly what to expect (hint: an adventure that is fantastic), and Raquel Welch in a catsuit was the closest thing to pornography a man could get without having to go to a seedy-looking theater with sticky floors and Travis Bickle types making gun fingers at the screen.

The Plot:

A team of scientists shrink themselves to go inside a patient's body in a tiny little spaceship, in order to fix a blood clot in his brain. They have only an hour, and then they will return to normal size.

The Hole:

We don't ask that you stay within the bounds of physics, but at least follow the rules you freaking made up. At the end of the movie, the crew's tiny sub gets destroyed, but the team manages to get out of the guy's body just before they grow back to size. Only problem, they leave the wreckage of their miniaturized submarine behind. As clangers go, that's about as bad as you get. Anyone paying attention to the plot of the movie is wondering right up until the end when the giant submarine wreckage will be bursting out of the guys chest.

It's not quite true that no one cared about this plot hole. When one of sci-fi's greatest writers, Issac Asimov, was hired to write the novelization of the movie (something to keep in mind if your son is ever contemplating a career as a sci-fi writer) he pointed out the hole to the producers. The producers pointed out that Mr. Asimov could shut the hell up and kept it the way it was.

Asimov went ahead and changed the ending in the book so it made sense. Hollywood, believing revenge is a dish best served cold, waited 40 years and then turned his book I, Robot into a love story between Will Smith and a pair of converse.

Subtext: Suck it, Issac!

The Lion King

The Plot:

Scar murders his brother and usurps the throne, then Simba returns from exile to avenge his father's death. Also, they're lions.

The Hole:

For someone who wanted to be king so much, Scar was really bad at it. There's being incompetent, and then there's being so incompetent that you cause the rain to stop and all the rivers and lakes to dry up. We know he let the hyenas run the show and eat whatever they wanted, but come on. What, did they drink the lake?

We know what you're going to say. "Why don't you just point out the fact that lions can't really talk, you pedantic dicks!" But think about the environmental message kids get at the ending. The place was basically a desert, the lions were on the brink of starvation and a huge fire couldn't have helped matters. Simba repairs an entire ecosystem and gets everything back to normal in a couple of years.

Obviously a slow and difficult reconstruction period during which most of the tribe dies isn't the most uplifting montage to end a kids' movie with, but it's a little late to spare our feelings at that point, isn't it Disney? Where was that concern when you killed Mufasa, you fuckers?

We like to hit rewind at this point, so then it's like Mufasa gets up and everything's okay.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

We had to make this number one, not because of the size of the plot hole, but because it's friggin' Star Wars. That's right nerds, the indisputably best one of the series has a pretty gaping hole of its own.

The Plot:

You know the plot. Don't play that game.

The Hole:

So there's the famous sequence where Luke gets trained by Yoda on Yoda's shithole of a planet. To break up the sequence, the film cuts to the Millennium Falcon getting chased by the Empire to Lando's cloud city. When they arrive, they get captured, at which point Luke has finished his training.

Well, that doesn't work. Were they chased for months? Or was Luke trained in an afternoon? Either we were spared some extended scenes on board the Millennium Falcon featuring starvation and debates about when they'd have to eat Chewbacca, or becoming a Jedi is easier than getting a cub scout merit badge.

Pictured: The entire Jedi training process

The latter explanation seems more plausible, as it just reveals Luke to be an even whinier bitch than he seemed. Talk about ungrateful, he's getting taught God-like abilities in about six hours, and he complains through literally every single one of them. It also means Yoda's insistence that Jedis start their training as young children isn't because the training's such a long arduous process, but because he's amused by the idea of children knowing how to choke each other with their minds.

Now it's true that when Luke tries to leave, Yoda insists the training isn't over. But when Luke returns to Planet Shithole in Return of the Jedi to finish it, Yoda waves him off and tells him there's nothing else to learn.

Then it turns out the final test Luke has to pass to become a Jedi is to defeat Darth Vader, the most powerful Jedi in the universe which kind of seems like a huge leap in difficulty after his one-day training session. That'd be like if the final stage of your driving test was to win the Indy 500.

So to answer the question, at what point did George Lucas stop paying attention? It looks like it was part way through the second movie.

For more movies that are way more disturbing when you actually think about them, check out The 6 Most Depressing Happy Endings in Movie History. Or for movies that you already know suck, but just don't know why, check out 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes.

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Sylvester Stallone Doing Rambo 5 And 6 And Hopefully No More

This year’s Rambo gave the world just what it needed - an unnaturally jacked-up sexagenarian doing gory murder on millions of foreigners.

And, make no mistake, Rambo worked on every conceivable level - as a flat-out action movie, as a piece of issue-based social filmmaking, as a way of utterly obliterating the Burmese tourist industry, as a warning against the use of HGH at an advanced age, as a reminder that nobody looks good with a mullet. We could go on.

But anyway, that’s why we’re thrilled at the news that Sylvester Stallone has just signed on to direct Rambo 5, due to start filming next year. What’s more, Sylvester Stallone is also thought to be writing Rambo 6. Plus Stallone wants Rambo 7 to be an animated cartoon, and Rambo 8 to be a musical, and Rambo 9 to be a stageplay and Rambo 10 to be a remake of Rambo 6 starring children and puppets and Rambo 11 to be an avant-garde Warhol-style close-up of one of his own eyelashes that lasts for 48 hours.

All true. Except for the last 57 words.

Though easy to mock at the time, when Sylvester Stallone revisited one of his most famous cinematic creations for Rocky Balboa, he crafted an elegant, eloquent finale to the series that dropped the overblown posturing of its previous sequels and let the character go with a respect and dignity that nobody really thought possible.

And, right after that, Sylvester Stallone made another Rambo movie, about an old bloke killing everything and running around going “Aaargh!” a lot. So it all balances out.

And, unquestionably, Rambo was a success. It made money. It regained Sylvester Stallone’s position as the daddy of the gormless action movie. It reminded Americans that diplomacy never works and the only to resolve international disputes is to send a mental old pensioner into the woods to tear out peoples’ throats and shred them to pieces with a minigun.

That’s why it’s nothing short of genius that Sylvester Stallone has just signed up to make Rambo 5, while simultaneously writing Rambo 6. Moviehole reports:

The aging action-hero has already written “Rambo 5” – rumoured to be shooting next year in Bulgaria, though set in the United States - and is about to put pen to paper on a sixth installment of the series. Also, the next two films won’t be War films like the original movies… but just straight-up action thrillers.

That’s awesome news - when it comes to near-silent beefcakes mumbling something vaguely philosophical before firing 600 arrows through a guerrilla’s face, nobody does it better than Sylvester Stallone. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here - we still have our reservations about Rambo 5 and Rambo 6. For instance:

*Action thrillers? That sounds terrible. Scooby Doo is an action thriller. If Rambo 5 is about Sylvester Stallone investigating a haunted funfair we’re going to be deeply pissed off.

*To make Rambo 5 better than Rambo 4, Stallone clearly needs to up the body count. We’re not sure that’s even physically possible, to be honest, unless the whole film is just a fast-forwarded domino line of shifty-looking south east Asian men getting their faces blown off one after another for a full day.

*If Rambo 5 starts filming next year, Sylvester Stallone will be 63, so he could feasibly be in his late sixties by the time Rambo 6 rolls around. Let’s hope that Sylvester Stallone has already factored that into the script and made sure that Rambo’s biggest enemies in that film are incontinence and an inability to eat soup properly.

*Remember that Sylvester Stallone needed vast quantities of Human Growth Hormone to keep him in shape for Rambo 4. We wouldn’t be surprised if, for Rambo 6, Stallone has to resort to drinking babies’ spinal fluid and injecting himself with unicorn semen.

Other than all that, though, great. We can’t wait.

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Shame on you, Scotty Schwartz: 19 child actors who went on to successful, respectable careers

By Donna Bowman, Amelie Gillette, Sean O'Neal, Keith Phipps, Leonard Pierce, Tasha Robinson, Claire Zulkey

1. Jackie Coogan

As the original kid star (literally: He captured audiences' hearts as the titular sidekick in Charlie Chaplin's The Kid), Coogan was also the first Hollywood actor to become an industry through heavy merchandising. His signature pageboy haircut and droopy overalls adorned everything from dolls to peanut-butter jars to toy whistles in the early 1920s, generating millions of dollars in income before Coogan even hit puberty. Unfortunately, his mother and stepfather blew through it to support heroin and cocaine habits, leaving him nearly penniless. He wasn't successful in taking them to court, but California did institute the still-active Child Actor's Bill, or Coogan Bill, in his honor, protecting the rights of child stars for decades to come. Robbed of early retirement in his teens, Coogan remained in show business until his death at age 69; after a stint in World War II, he even landed a second iconic role (and arguably his most famous today) as Uncle Fester on The Addams Family, whereupon he once again found his face—albeit one nearly unrecognizable under pounds of makeup—plastered across the cultural landscape.

2. Dean Stockwell

Dean Stockwell has so firmly established himself as an aging character actor with a line in playing worldly, wise smart-asses who know more than they're telling that it's odd to think he was ever even a young man, let alone a child star. But Stockwell had a dozen movies under his belt before he was a dozen years old. Before he was 14, he'd played the son of Nick and Nora Charles, the lead role in Rudyard Kipling's Kim, and the titular weirdo in The Boy With Green Hair. And as odd as it may seem for fans of his sex-crazed, cynical Cylon in Battlestar Galactica to think of him as the cherubic youth from Anchors Aweigh, imagine how people who grew up watching him in Gentleman's Agreement must have felt when they saw him crooning "In Dreams" to a maniacal Frank Booth in Blue Velvet.

3. Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore, it can fairly be said, was born to be a star. At one point the darling of an acting dynasty that produced Hollywood legends like John, Ethel, and Lionel Barrymore, she got her first screen role when she was less than a year old, and by the time she was 10, she'd already appeared in Altered States, with star-making turns in Firestarter and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Unfortunately, she proved equally precocious at movie-star temptations: She started using drugs when she was 9, and checked herself into rehab at 13. Now that's determination! Since her adult comeback, she hasn't always chosen the best roles—her, uh, biggest moneymaking parts were in the Charlie's Angels remakes—but she's at least showed an interest in stretching, as witnessed by appealing turns in Donnie Darko, Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, and Music And Lyrics.

4. Christian Bale

Many of Christian Bale's memorable youthful roles—Jim Hawkins in a TV-movie adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, his turn as Cowboy Kelly in the inexplicably beloved Disney musical Newsies, his tweener turns in Swing Kids and Little Women—were built on the part that made him a young star: His impressive performance as Jamie Graham, the stand-in for J.G. Ballard in Steven Spielberg's hit-and-miss adaptation of Empire Of The Sun. Only 11 years old when he got the part, and barely 13 when it was released, Bale inhabited the role—only his second big-screen part—as if he'd been acting for decades. Nowadays, Bale has gone on to mega-stardom playing Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, but unlike many child stars, he's never really had any downtime in his transition from child star to adult draw; he's basically been constantly in front of a camera since he was 12.

5. Jodie Foster

Even since her childhood acting days, Jodie Foster maintained a certain dignity that helped her transition from youngster to adult performer without much visible difficulty. Even when she was performing in Disney kid fare such as Freaky Friday, she had a sort of no-nonsense cool that indicated she, like her characters, was already inclined more toward maturity than cuteness. It probably helped that her breakout role at age 14, as an underage prostitute in 1976's Taxi Driver, left very little room for adorability. Since then, an Ivy-League education, a grounded and fiercely-guarded private life, plus good fortune with roles (Oscars for The Accused and Silence Of The Lambs—even Bugsy Malone, one of her kid roles, is a classic) kept her on a track that no one, not even John Hinckley, could distract her from.

6. Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood was acting by age 4, and before she turned sweet 16, she had 20 credits to her name, including a classic role in Miracle On 34th Street and a pivotal turn in The Searchers. When she appeared as James Dean's love interest in Rebel Without A Cause, a performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, she marked the transition from child star to all-grown-up actress, and she never looked back. Before her untimely death at age 43, she received two more nominations and appeared in hits and critics' darlings: West Side Story, Splendor In The Grass, The Great Race, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Her string of turkeys in adulthood earned her a Worst Actress Of The Year award from the Harvard Lampoon in 1966; she had the good grace to show up and accept the award in person, surely proof that not all child actors grow up to be spoiled brats.

7. Mickey Rooney

Nobody defines "child star" as thoroughly as Rooney, a tot who entered moviemaking at age 5 as the star of a series of one-reelers. He was a boyish 16 when he was cast in A Family Affair, the first of 14 Andy Hardy movies released in the next nine years. At the same time, he started his longtime collaboration with Judy Garland, and just a year later, he played his first dramatic role, in Boys Town. Although he continued working in television after the war, it wasn't until he became a dwarfish father figure that he returned to popular and critical acclaim, playing wise old coots in films like Requiem For A HeavyweightandThe Black Stallion. As for his yellowface role as Holly Golightly's screechy Japanese neighbor in Breakfast At Tiffany's, we'll just note that the broad ethnic stereotype might have fit his comedic talents, but it certainly wasn't all his idea.

8. Seth Green

Not every child actor gets to jump straight into a John Irving adaptation (The Hotel New Hampshire, 1984) with Jodie Foster. And it didn't exactly happen to Seth Green, who at age 10 appeared in the now-forgotten wacky comedy Billions For Boris,which was released the same year. But Green always managed to land on his feet when bouncing from TV commercials to prestige films like Woody Allen's Radio Days, in which he played a 13-year-old stand-in for Allen's own childhood self. Green segued smoothly from child actor to teenage wisecracker in Buffy The Vampire Slayerand the Austin Powers series, then without missing a beat, reinvented himself as a self-aware adult star (Josie And The Pussycats, The Italian Job) and an auteur (Robot Chicken). It's no accident that he's always seemed smart and in full control of his persona, even as a kid; that impression makes him easy for postmodern viewers to love.

9. Kirsten Dunst

In Interview With The Vampire, Kirsten Dunst played a child vampire, a role that required her to project world-weary experience and frustration through the prism of youth. Not an easy task for an 11-year-old. But Dunst pulled it off, becoming the most memorable vampire in a movie full of them, and not just because of her famous snaggletooth smile. Since then, Dunst has made a career out of balancing roles both light and heavy, straightforward and strange. She can be an excellent comic actress (Dick, or Bring It On), as well as an effectively moving one (The Virgin Suicides). For every misstep (Wimbledon) or turn as Spider-Man's love interest, there's an Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. On paper (or the IMDB), her career almost looks schizophrenic, but it's better to be the actress who's allowed to be all over the place than the one stuck in romantic-comedy purgatory. (Hi, Kate Hudson!)

10. Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci got her start playing Cher's daughter in Mermaids, but she's best known for playing creepy/cute Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family movies (and MC Hammer video). That "creepy/cute" quality has informed most of Ricci's best roles, like her turn in The Opposite Of Sex as a cynical, sharp teen con artist. There's a kind of spacey-ness to Ricci's looks—wide, far-set eyes, round kewpie-doll face, large forehead—that can either be dialed up for maximum creepiness (The Ice Storm, Pumpkin) or dialed down until she appears almost child-like and vulnerable (as the girlfriend of a serial killer in Monster, or as a fairy-tale heroine in Sleepy Hollow and Penelope). Dark, yes. Cartoonish, yes. But Ricci could never play conventional.

11. Roddy McDowall

World War II sent young Roddy McDowall to America, where he achieved stardom almost immediately as the lead in John Ford's How Green Was My Valley, a fond-but-unsparing tale of growing up poor and Welsh. From there, he had a couple of high-profile roles working with animals in Lassie Come Home and in My Friend Flicka and its sequel. After sticking largely to television in the '50s, McDowall worked steadily as a character actor up to his death in 1998. Always fragile and boyish in appearance and politely eccentric in demeanor, he worked especially well in black comedies like The Loved One, Lord Love A Duck, Pretty Maids All In A Row, and the smart '80s horror movie Fright Night, a late-career highlight. His most iconic adult role, however, found him hiding his face behind ape makeup as Dr. Cornelius in The Planet Of The Apes.

12. Ron Howard

After growing up in everyone's living room as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, Ron Howard enjoyed a second act as a young actor thanks to Happy Days. Then he shifted gears for a third act as a highly successful director and producer, first by directing himself in the Roger Corman-produced Grand Theft Auto, then by helming a series of hits that began with Night Shift and have carried on through The Da Vinci Code.

13. Jason Bateman

Howard also memorably provided the narration for Arrested Development, a show starring another former child actor, Jason Bateman. Bateman never really disappeared from acting, working through a fallow period post-child-stardom in the '80s, which found him working onLittle House On The Prairie, Silver Spoons, and The Hogan Family. In the years between, Bateman appeared on one non-starter series after another, but he must have been honing the dry delivery that made him the perfect straight man in Arrested Development, skills he's since brought to work in films like Hancockand Juno.

14. Robert Blake

Young Mickey Gubitosi joined the cast of the Our Gang short series in 1939 when he replaced Eugene "Porky" Lee. It was a time of transition, as the series moved from Hal Roach's studios to MGM. Breakout star Alfalfa soon left, and the quality of the shorts dropped until MGM pulled the plug in 1944. Gubitosi stuck with it, becoming Bobby Blake along the way. Our Gang led the way to parts in Red Ryder Westerns and a memorable, but uncredited, role in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. After a stint in the army, Blake began to rebuild his acting career, cementing his stardom in 1967 as one of the killers in In Cold Blood. Then he, um, lived happily ever after.

15. Joaquin Phoenix

The middle child of the Phoenix clan, Joaquin Phoenix had his first TV role at age 8, appearing in a single episode of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, alongside his older brother River. (That show was River Phoenix's debut as well; he'd just turned 12 when the first of his 21 episodes aired.) River became famous faster, picking up increasingly visible roles in Explorers, Stand By Me, The Mosquito Coast, My Own Private Idaho, and more, while their sisters Rain and Summer had lower-profile careers, and Liberty Phoenix limited her show-biz career to two TV outings. (One was that same Seven Brides episode that introduced Joaquin.) But while River died young, victim of a drug overdose, Joaquin toiled in the trenches, with TV appearances on the likes of Murder, She Wrote, Hill Street Blues, The Fall Guy, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Acting under the name Leaf Phoenix—reportedly inspired by his more nature-named siblings—he gradually worked his way up to larger roles, first in the likes of SpaceCamp and Parenthood (where he played the miserable, furtively masturbating son of Diane Wiest), and then in more adult roles, in To Die For, Quills, and Gladiator. By the time of the M. Night Shyamalan films Signs and The Village, he already had a reputation as a deeply committed, serious adult actor, and his Oscar-nominated lead role in Walk The Line just sealed that rep.

16. Elijah Wood

It may be hard to think of Elijah Wood as an adult actor, considering his signature role as digitally tiny-fied, childlike hobbit Frodo Baggins in Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings movies. In the first of those films, at age 20, he doesn't look much bigger than he was when he got his start at age 8 in Internal Affairs, or the older of two abused brothers in the underrated Radio Flyer. Still, while he's spent years playing Frodo, he's made time for a small number of well-chosen, memorable adult rules, including the playing-against-type serial killer in Sin City, the lovelorn Patrick in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, and author Jonathan Safran Foer in the weird, unloved, but striking book adaptation Everything Is Illuminated.

17. Anna Paquin

Given that she'll always be remembered as the girl who won an Oscar at age 11 (though she still isn't the youngest Oscar winner), it's sometimes a little strange to see Anna Paquin all grown up—and sexified up—in the likes of 25th Hour or the new HBO series True Blood. As with many child stars, it may be tempting to think of her as two people—one, the cute little girl from The Piano and Fly Away Home, and the other, the cynical man-manipulator of The Squid And The Whale.

18. Natalie Portman

The same could be said of Natalie Portman, though she contains such multitudes that a simple dichotomy doesn't work. Is she the threatened little girl from Luc Besson's The Professional? (It was her feature debut; she was 12.) The remote, heavily costumed princess-slash-action-heroine of The Phantom Menace and its sequels? The sexy, slightly trampy, ignorant but determined power-player in Closer? The irritating Manic Pixie Dream Girl of Garden State? The abused victim of V For Vendetta and Goya's Ghosts? The domineering bitch-queen of The Other Boleyn Girl? Does her starring role in Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium explain anything? Portman is another actor who effectively grew up onscreen, but even watching her develop up close year after year since her childhood hasn't made it any easier to predict how good she'll be in a given role, or how good the film around her will be. Still, she's usually an arresting presence, if she gets material worth working with.

19. Elizabeth Taylor

McDowall's lifelong friend Elizabeth Taylor enjoyed an even smoother transition to adult roles. After breaking out at the age of 12 in National Velvet, she inched into grown-up parts incrementally, co-starring in Life With Father at 15, Little Women at 17, and playing a young bride at the age of 18 in 1950's Father Of The Bride. That hit doubled as a coming-out party, and Taylor spent the '50s and '60s as an international star, thanks to films like A Place In The Sun, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, which paired her with her most famous on- and offscreen partner, Richard Burton. By the '70s, however, her most iconic roles were behind her. Growing up onscreen was easy. Growing old onscreen wasn't.

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Ramsay cleared over puffin eating

Gordon Ramsay
Ramsay was featured "sky fishing" for puffins

TV watchdog Ofcom has ruled that an episode of Channel 4 show The F Word featuring chef Gordon Ramsay eating a puffin did not break the rules.

Ofcom received 42 complaints over the show which saw Ramsay "sky fishing" for puffins and eating its fresh heart.

The regulator said the sequence was not in breach as it occurred in Iceland, where the puffin forms a popular part of the national diet.

It also noted the birds were killed in a humane way with minimal suffering.

Viewers had complained that the practice of killing puffins was cruel, the local tradition of eating their fresh hearts was offensive, and that, whilst not protected, puffins were a species under threat.

However, Ofcom said that The F Word had historically contained items featuring the rearing, hunting or killing of a variety of animals for food, including those not usually eaten in the UK.


It ruled that viewers should therefore have been prepared to some extent for an item similar to the one complained of.

Ofcom also noted that the programme began at 2100, and that a verbal warning about the killing and gutting of birds was broadcast at around 2145, immediately before the section showing these images.

The regulator said it appreciated the concern of viewers who were unhappy that puffins should be caught and eaten in this way.

But it added it did not consider the item went beyond the audience's general expectations for the programme, which had consistently challenged conventions in the UK about the acceptability of various foods and ingredients from around the world.

In the same report, Ofcom also noted 31 complaints from viewers over a BBC News report about an incident in Jerusalem.

Footage showed a Palestinian man ramming buses and cars with a bulldozer, killing three people and then the man being shot dead in the cab of the vehicle by an off-duty Israeli soldier.

However, as the BBC later publicly acknowledged that broadcasting the footage of the moment of death was not justified editorially, Ofcom said it considered the matter resolved.

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George Takei Beams Up Marriage

Mr. Sulu is no longer solo.

George Takei has gone where no famous man (but two plenty famous women) has gone before, tying the knot with his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman, Sunday night in Los Angeles in front of 200 of their closest pals, including fellow Trekkers Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols.

Proving itself an equal-opportunity celebration in every regard, the 71-year-old Takei and the 54-year-old Altman swapped self-penned vows at downtown L.A.'s Japanese American National Museum, were married by a Buddhist priest, employed Native American wedding bands and marched to the ceremony courtesy of a bagpipe procession.

So, at least in spirit, Scotty was there, too.

"May equality live long and prosper!" the erstwhile Enterprise helmsman told the crowd on his way out of the ceremony.

"I can add 'my husband' to the list of things I call you," Takei said in his vows, which took place after the couple stepped into a circle of yellow roses. "I vow to care for you as you've cared for me…and to love you as my husband and the only man in my life."

The handsome duo donned matching white tuxes for their big day, which took place three months after they became one of the first same-sex couples, and certainly the first high-profile one, to obtain a wedding license in West Hollywood on June 17 after it was deemed constitutional to do so.

They follow in the footsteps of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, who tied the knot in a home ceremony last month.

The couple plans to honeymoon in South America, after their ceremonial first trip to the airwaves, appearing on CBS' Early Show Tuesday morning to share more details of their wedded bliss.

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