Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy 3rd Anniversary to The Colbert Report

Today marks the third anniversary of The Colbert Report, and on last night's show Stephen listed off a bunch of his favorite memories from the past year. So, for your anniversary-celebrating pleasure, I went ahead and dug up clips from all of those classic Colbert moments. After you watch them, make sure you buy Stephen something leathery.

Posted by matt tobey

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Fey, candidates to visit 'Saturday Night Live'

Lorne Michaels, the executive producer of “Saturday Night Live,” predicts that the presidential and vice presidential candidates will stop by the comedy show before the election. He also said in a phone interview Tuesday that Tina Fey will return to play Gov. Sarah Palin.

“I think sooner or later, everyone will come through,” Michaels said of the candidates. He declined to give dates as to when “Saturday Night Live” viewers might see Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, as well as their running mates, Sen. Joseph Biden and Gov. Palin.

“In 2000, both Bush and Gore came on,” Michaels noted. As for when this crop of candidates would appear, he said, “I don’t know when. We’re always talking to everyone.”

Feypalin_2 As for Fey coming back to reprise her role as Gov. Palin before the election, Michaels said, “I think that’s likely.”

Even though Fey’s depiction of Palin has helped drive the show to a 50 percent increase in ratings over last year, Michaels confirmed what Fey said in a recent interview with TV Guide – that she’s done playing Palin after the election.

“She’s gone” after the election, said Michaels. “She has a full-time job” as the creator and star of the NBC comedy “30 Rock,” which returns Oct. 30. Michaels added that “SNL” cast member Kristin Wiig would likely play the Alaska governor should the need arise past Nov. 4.

Michaels also told the Tribune exclusively that Ben Affleck would be the host of the show’s Nov. 1 broadcast. David Cook of “American Idol” fame will be the musical guest.

“Saturday Night Live’s” final pre-election broadcast will air Monday, Nov. 3. That "Election Bash" will not be live but will be a mix of new material taped for the program and older political skits from the past year.

There are a total of six “SNL” broadcasts before the end of the election season: Two additional Thursday broadcasts on Oct. 16 and 23, three Saturday broadcasts Oct. 18 and 25 and Nov. 1, and the “Election Bash” Nov. 3. The hosts and musical guests are as follows: Josh Brolin and Adele on Oct. 18, Jon Hamm and Coldplay on Oct. 25 and Affleck and Cook on Nov. 1.

I will have much more from Michaels soon. I'll be posting a long piece on the resurgent “Saturday Night Live” in the next few days.

Photo: Tina Fey as Palin and Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Sept. 13 season opener of "Saturday Night Live."

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10 Best Protest Songs Of The 21st Century

by J Joyce (Edit)

Every war since WWII has inspired some sort of a cultural backlash against the powers that be. Sometimes it’s a movie like W. but more often than not, these artistic expressions are protest songs. We take a look at the best protest songs of the 21st century:

10. “Let’s Impeach the President” - Neil Young (April 28, 2006)

This is the seventh track on Young’s 2006 studio album Living with War. It starts off with a trumpet playing the first six notes of Taps, then having a chorus sing about various reasons to impeach the current president of the United States George W. Bush. The song is sung to the tune of Steve Goodman’s song “The City of New Orleans,” probably a reference to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, another area of critical views. The “Godfather of Grundge” makes clear that he has no love for President Bush.

9. “Final Straw”- R.E.M. ( Oct. 4, 2004)

This is a politically-charged song, reminiscent in tone of “World Leader Pretend” on Green. The version on the album is a remix of the original version. “Final Straw” was released the week the U.S. invaded Iraq. Michael Stipe is not willing to let Bush invade Iraq without a clear reason, so he keeps asking “Why?” Well, most of us still still don’t have a clue (maybe oil).

8. ”The Day After Tomorrow”- Tom Waits (Oct. 3, 2004)

Tom Waits covered increasingly political subject matter since the advent of the Iraq war, with “The Day After Tomorrow”. In this song Waits adopts the persona of a soldier writing home that he is disillusioned with war and is thankful to be leaving. The song does not mention the Iraq war specifically, and, as Tom Moon writes, “it could be the voice of a Civil War soldier singing a lonesome late-night dirge.” Waits himself does describe the song as something of an “elliptical” protest song about the Iraqi invasion, however. Thom Jurek describes “The Day After Tomorrow” as “one of the most insightful and understated anti-war songs to have been written in decades. It contains not a hint of banality or sentiment in its folksy articulation.” Waits’ recent output has not only addressed the Iraqi war, as his Road To Peace deals explicitly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East in general.

7. “When the President Talks to God” - Bright Eyes (March 21, 2005)

This is a protest song by Bright Eyes, with a very pointed political message directed towards George W. Bush and his policies. Even the Greeks claimed that the Olympian Gods were on their side, when they tried to muster political fervor. It’s good to see that Bush’s is taking cues from ancient Greek warlords. ”When the President Talks to God,” was originally released as a free download on iTunes but has since been released as a promotional 7″ vinyl and as a B-side to “First Day of My Life.” Right away Conor Oberst stuffs the President’s “bullshit,” right back down his throat.

6. “Heard Somebody Say” - Devendra Banhart (December 20, 2005)

This soft and mellow ballad sounds sweet and calming for the average listener. However, if you stop and listen closely to the lyrics, you’ll here the resignation of a sincere and kindhearted war protester. Banhart sings “that the war ended today/ but everyone knows it’s goin’ still” This is a reference to George W. Bush’s premature declaration of victory in Iraq on June 5, 2003. Since then, more U.S. troops died than during the official “war.” Banhart succinctly sums up his message: “oh, it’s simple/ we don’t want to kill.”

5. “16 Military Wives” - The Decemberists (Nov. 21, 2005)

Ever participated in Model U.N.? Colin Meloy, the singer-songwriter of the Decemberists, got his chance to play the role of the U.S. at a Model U.N. General Assembly. Meloy has characterized the song as a “protest song” inspired by the Iraq War. However, it does attack elements of the unilateral American foreign policy under George W. Bush (the lines “Because America can/And America can’t say no/And America does/If America says it’s so/It’s so” in the chorus), “16 Military Wives” focuses primarily on the news media and popular response to the war, particularly levying criticism at infotainment and the surface-level involvement of celebrities in public affairs.

4. “World Wide Suicide” - Pearl Jam (March 14, 2006)

The lyrics depict anger against the war in Iraq, and criticize the US government in a subtle manner. Vedder has said that “World Wide Suicide” was written largely about Pat Tillman. Vedder said:”It’s about him and a bunch of the guys who didn’t get as much coverage - the guys who barely got a paragraph instead of ten pages…The thing about Tillman was, he got ten pages but they were all lies. His family is being blocked by our government from finding out what happened.”

3. “Loose Lips” - Kimya Dawson (Jan. 8, 2008)

Kimya Dawson is one-half of the band Moldy Peaches. With a name like that, it’s difficult to expect anything more than rants and raves about the produce section at the grocery store. However, since the Juno soundtrack was released, Kimya Dawson is recognized as a legitimate singer-songwriter. This song in particular focuses on love, the antithesis of war.

2. “Intervention” - Arcade Fire (December 28, 2006)

Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible contains many oblique protests against the paranoia of a contemporary America ‘under attack by terrorism’. The album also contains two more overtly political protest songs in the form of “Windowsill”, in which Win Butler sings “I don’t want to live in America no more”, and “Intervention”, which contains the line “Don’t want to fight, don’t want to die”, and criticizes religious fanaticism in general. This song is the loudest cultural cry for isolationism in this decade.

1. ”2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm)” - Radiohead (Nov. 17, 2003)

The song’s title recalls the symbol of unreality from George Orwell’s novel 1984. In the book, inhabitants of an authoritarian future state are made to engage in doublethink, replacing their own conscience and beliefs with those imposed from above. At the end of the novel, the protagonist’s individuality is demolished, as he avows that two and two are, in fact, five. With lyrics like “All hail to the thief, but I’m not” and “Don’t question my authority” there have been repeated suggestions from many musical critics that the song is based on the controversial election of George W. Bush in 2000. “2 + 2 = 5″ appears on the album Hail to the Thief, a play on the American Presidential theme: Hail to the Chief.

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The 20 Most Awesome SciFi TV Theme Songs

Neal Hefti, the jazzy trumpeter behind such TV theme songs as the propulsive ditty that introduced the 1960s Batman series, has passed away. His composition—with its singular staccato lyric, itself a paean to Adam West’s be-spandexed superhero—may have been intentionally campy, but it’s proven both indelible and award-winning. (Hefti won a Grammy for it in 1966.) What other title tunes for live-action TV shows rock our world? Below, a list of our 20 favorites. Foggy memory? Click on any title to hear the tune.

Alien Nation (by Steve Dorff)
A chorus swells over bongos that settle into a calypso/merengue beat. Aurally taxing or delightfully ballsy? Discuss.

The Avengers (by Laurie Johnson)
The spy-fi series’ anthem begins with a sexy swagger then moseys into a brass-tickled swinging-sixties delight.

Battlestar Galactica (by Stu Phillips)
We’re talking about the 1978 TV series, with an intro that plays like a wistful film score.

The Bionic Woman (by Jerry Fielding)
It’s an ambling jazz set, man. Because Jaime Sommers is that cool.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (by Stu Phillips)
Token straight-guy narration lends way to aggressive horns, then a delicious orchestral creation straight out of one of those ’80s night-time soaps.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (by Nerf Herder)
What could’ve easily been a goth travesty (given the subject matter) became a rousing, pop-punk track that still smells like teen spirit.

Dark Angel (by Chuck D and McLyte)
As with the Alien Nation intro, we can appreciate the use of unlikely genres in sci-fi theme songs. Admittedly, this rap-inspired endeavor quickly devolves into a low-rent take on Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise.” (Maybe that's because it was co-written by the group's frontman.) However, it’s the only one we can think of that boldly takes on the hippity-hop, so we’ll give it mad props and stuff.

Dr. Who (by Ron Granier)
Dr. What? Dr. Who? Switcha flow, getcha dough. (A little Jay-Z humor to jump off that Dark Angel entry, folks.) The original Who song is the sci-fi equivalent of a galloping Western tune rendered enigmatic by way of a menacing, repetitious guitar riff and haunting synths.

The Greatest American Hero (by Joey Scarbury)
So cheesy, predictable, and pedestrian that it brilliantly straddles the line between sincerity and parody—which is precisely why Seinfeld aped it spectacularly some 15 years later.

Knight Rider (by Stu Phillips)
This slow-burning, pulsating offering from the Hoff incarnation is to auto-centric crime-fighting what the Miami Vice theme song is to motor-boat-propelled sting operations.

Lost in Space (by Alexander Courage)
Best use of flautists (presumably on piccolos), who tango puckishly with their brassy cohorts. Jethro Tull should be so talented.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (by Joel Hodgson, Josh Weinstein, and
Charles Erickson)
Decidedly lo-fi, it plays like an ’80s one-hit wonder. As such, it’s impossible to get out of your head.

The Outer Limits (by Dominic Frontiere)
Kinda like the unsettling Twilight Zone theme— “There is nothing wrong with your television, do not attempt to adjust the picture…” Only a bit jauntier.

Star Trek (by Alexander Courage)
Opera lady’s kooky, high priestess melisma makes for memorable karaoke recreations.

Star Trek: The Next Generation (by Dennis McCarthy)
Ambitious, majestic, and frontier-evoking—just like the show’s raison d’etre. Make it so, y'all!

Stargate SG-1 (by David Arnold/Joel Goldsmith)
Swelling, almost military, orchestrations settle into a soaring, totally hummable instrumental.

The Twilight Zone (by Marius Constant)
Unmatched in its creepiness, the iconic composition sonically spirals as a voiceover (courtesy of Rod Serling, we presume) promises bewildering tableaus of "things and ideas" unknown.

The X-Files
(by Mark Snow)
The eerie atmosphere-setter evokes images of an ominous alien spaceship looming over Earth. Also, it's easy to whistle.

Xena: Warrior Princess (by Joseph LoDuca)
A chanty, percussive world-music offering that mercifully resides in a galaxy far, far away from the Enya/Tesh/Yanni oeuvre.

Wonder Woman (by Normal Gimbel and Charles Fox)
“In your satin tights, fighting for your rights”? Ridiculous lyrics aside, this disco-infused tune here’s a booming classic that’s almost as fun to sing as the Good Times theme song. Almost.

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Is Ozzfest Really The Third-Highest Grossing Concert Of The Year?

Really? Third-best? That seems a bit high, no? (Roger Caldwell)

So the Morning News' main music blog posted this item earlier this week, and I've been trying to wrap my head around it ever since. Basically, it says that the top grossing North American concert of the year so far was September's ACL fest, which apparently grossed a whopping $11,767,838 in September.

But, even more surprising is the show that checks in at No. 3: Ozzfest, which grossed some $3,335,362.

Those numbers sound fine, I guess--a big jump in earnings from 1 to 3 notwithstanding--but I'm a little miffed by the fact that other big festival shows, namely Coachella and Bonnaroo and others like them, are nowhere to be found on this list, which is otherwise made up of Farm Aid and Neil Diamond (hey, he's here tonight!), Elton John and New Kids on the Block (hey, they're here on Sunday!) shows.

Unfortunately, the DMN blog didn't link to the Billboard list it's using as its source. And, even more unfortunately, I can't find another version of that list anywhere.

I get that Ozzfest was successful. Hell, I'm glad it was--honestly! I pretty much openly hoped that it would be (although I had my doubts). I'm a little taken aback by these stats. They seem off, no? --Pete Freedman

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Playboy to stop making DVDs

By Charlotte Bailey

Playboy bunny Sheila Levell, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunny Holly Madison
Playboy bunny Sheila Levell, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunny Holly Madison Photo: GETTY

The multi-million dollar glamour empire, which publishes the world's most widely read adult entertainment magazine, is to stop production of the DVDs in order to save around $12million (£7million) a year.

Playboy Enterprises Inc have said they will now focus on distributing their content online.

The move will cost the company 80 jobs and $2m (around £1m) in restructuring charges.

Playboy said that it expects to see some benefits from the cuts in the fourth quarter of 2008, and the full effects next year.

Last month, tycoon Hugh Hefner was advised to cut back on staff as his empire struggled to cope during the deepening economic gloom.

The 82-year-old was told to lay off some of his staff at his Los Angeles and New York offices as soon as possible or go bankrupt.

The company has recently seen shares fall from £6.20 to £1.55.

And his financial woes have not been the only thing troubling Hefner.

Only last week his "No 1 girlfriend" Holly Madison walked out on him.

The tycoon said his failed efforts to have a baby with Madison, 28, contributed to the split.

Despite the 54-year age gap, Hefner said he had "planned to spend the rest of my life with Holly", adding that he was "down in the dumps" about the break-up.

However, he does not have to contemplate singledom just yet. He still has two other live-in girlfriends, Kendra Wilkinson, 23, and Bridget Marquadt, 35, installed at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills. Hefner has scaled down his coterie - a few years ago the mansion was home to no less than seven Playmates.

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`Porno' proves a five-letter word for movie's ads


LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kevin Smith made a movie with such a bothersome title he cannot even place ads for it in some places.

Some newspaper, TV and outdoor ads for Smith's comedy "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" have been rejected because of their content or the five-letter word that ends the title, said Gary Faber, head of marketing for the Weinstein Co., which is releasing the film.

Among those refusing to carry ads are about 15 newspapers and several TV stations and cable channels, Faber said. Commercials for the film during Los Angeles Dodgers games on Fox Sports were dropped at the team's request after some viewers complained, said Dodgers spokesman Josh Rawitch.

One complaint came from a man watching a game in September with his young son, who did not understand a suicide-squeeze bunt the Dodgers tried, Rawitch said.

"He was explaining to his son what a squeeze bunt was. Commercial break, the ad comes on, and the kid asks, `Dad, what does porno mean?'" Rawitch said. "Dodgers baseball has always been about family, and we've always been sensitive to the type of advertising that runs on our games."

The city of Philadelphia refused "Zack and Miri" posters at bus stops. Similar posters at Boston bus stops have drawn complaints from a child-development expert who said they are inappropriate for children.

Smith found it ironic that the posters have been a problem. Some playfully risque ads with images of "Zack and Miri" stars Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks were forbidden by the Motion Picture Association of America, which called the ads "highly sexually suggestive and not suitable for general audiences."

So Weinstein came up with posters using stick figures to represent the actors.

"The whole idea was, our hands were so tied on all previous entries we'd given them that this ad was meant to be the innocuous one that would get approved everywhere," Smith said.

Rina Cutler, Philadelphia deputy mayor for transportation, said the stick-figure posters were cute and clever but unacceptable for bus shelters where schoolchildren would see the word "porno."

"If they want to call the movie `Zack and Miri,' that's fine, but Zack and Miri cannot make a porno on my bus shelters," Cutler said.

Opening Oct. 31, "Zack and Miri" features Rogen and Banks as platonic best buddies and roommates who decide to make their own skin flick to dig themselves out of debt.

Diane Levin, an education professor specializing in child development at Boston's Wheelock College, said the posters at city bus stops send a message to children that working in the porn industry is an acceptable occupation.

"It's drawing attention to a movie which is mainstreaming and normalizing pornography, saying if you need money, this is what you do," said Levin, co-author of "So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids."

The stick-figure images are especially appealing to youngsters, since "stick figures are something for children," she said.

Weinstein marketing boss Faber countered: "It's a comedy. It's a joke. We're not advertising a porno. It's not a porno. The word `porno,' it's not supposed to turn you on. It's supposed to make you laugh."

The ratings board of the MPAA initially slapped "Zack and Miri" with an NC-17 rating, a box-office kiss of death because audiences view such films as explicit adult-only flicks. Smith appealed and talked the film down to an R rating.

Faber said the company has been able to place its ads in most of the outlets it has approached. For newspapers that rejected them because of the word "porno," Weinstein might play around with variations that exclude the title, he said.

The company developed a version of the stick-figure poster without the film's name, bearing the slogan, "Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous that we can't even tell you the title."

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10 Best Geek Characters in Mainstream Movies

By Matt Blum

It's easy to find geeky characters in geeky movies. Here, then, is our list of the ten best characters who we think qualify as geeks, but who appear in movies aimed at (and popular with) the general public, not primarily at geeks.

16candles_2 1. The Geek from Sixteen Candles - Yeah, it's kind of a gimme. I mean, the character is officially billed as "The Geek," and he was played by Anthony Michael Hall, who at that point in his career was pretty much playing only geeks and nerds, and this was really his first such role. He gave some serious, if probably unrealistic, hope to geeks in the '80s, by ending up with the prom queen.

2. "Doc" Emmett Brown from the Back to the Future movies - He's an exaggerated geek, of course, as only Christopher Lloyd could play. And he mispronounces "gigawatt," which geeks everywhere cringed at when the first movie came out. But his excitement about his inventions, his habit of naming his dogs after famous scientists, and the way he obsessively builds models in parts I and III, prove his geekiness even if no other evidence existed. He had to be on this list, especially since he ends up as a geek dad himself, even naming his sons "Jules" and "Verne."

Indy 3. Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything... - He's not the traditional geek, and I'm sure some people will claim he's not a geek at all. But I identified with him because he's an outsider, and a sensitive guy, and he admires brains more than anything else. I'd argue that he'd be more of the classic geek if he weren't written as an underachiever, and yeah, he kickboxes, but really, if you're going to do sports, that's about as nonconformist as it gets.

4. Indiana Jones - Obviously he's a geek who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. But he's a college professor, he donates everything he finds to a museum, and he does pretty much everything in an unconventional way. He's the geekiest action hero there is.

5. Belle from Beauty and the Beast - She has to be one of the top two or three smartest main characters in any Disney animated movie, male or female. She loves books more than anything, helps her father with his inventions, and can't stand the boorish Gaston who's handsome but stupid. The sheer joy she feels when the Beast gives her his library is so pure you can feel it, and she falls in love with the Beast despite his appearance. Plus, she's only momentarily fazed by the talking candlestick, clock, dishware, and furniture. It makes one wonder if the producers of "Beauty and the Geek" realized their unintentional irony.

(More after the jump.)

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Lightman 6. David Lightman from WarGames - I don't think this one needs much justification, seeing as how he's a hacker, and a great character. I'm sure some might claim the movie isn't mainstream enough to belong on this list, but I remember when it came out, and it was popular enough that most people who saw it didn't realize how preposterous most of the plot really was.

7. Gordie Lachance from Stand by Me - If you've seen the film you know what I mean. He's a writer and a storyteller. He's very sensitive and doesn't like confrontations, which is why when at the end of the movie he pulls a gun on Ace you know how strongly he feels about what he's doing.

Deskset 8. Richard Sumner from Desk Set - It's not a movie everyone reading this will have seen, but it's such a great film I had to include it. Spencer Tracy's Sumner is the developer of a new computer that a group of researchers, led by Katharine Hepburn's character, is afraid will replace them. He loves his computer (which, since the movie came out in 1957, is huge) more than any human being (until, of course, he falls in love with Hepburn's character), and in one scene sits down in the middle of the library to read a stack of books. If you haven't seen the movie, you should—it's great fun, with great acting, and the computer is really amusing to those of under 60.

9. Matt Farrell from Live Free or Die Hard - Yeah, he's a bit of a cardboard cutout of a hacker, but he's a lot of fun and works well with John McClane. And without him, there would've been no awesome cameo from Kevin Smith. It may be a bit of a stretch to call him a great character, but it's so cool to see a geek help Bruce Willis save the day that he belongs on the list anyway.

10. Andy Dufresne from The Shawshank Redemption - He enjoys being a banker, loves to read, and broadcasts Mozart throughout the prison. He even carves chess pieces and puts up a poster from One Million Years B.C. It's really his geekiness that saves him, since it gets him the job working for the warden, and probably the brains to come up with his plan in the first place.

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Top 5 movies for a financial crisis

It seems likely that in an economic downturn, we’ll buy fewer theater tickets. Instead, we’ll rent more DVDs and continue to watch more online, free as well as pay-to-stream or pay-to-download. We expect that smarter tools for choosing what to watch will be especially important in huge DVD and online catalogues.

But what will we watch? These kinds of things are hard to predict, but here are a few highlights of what Americans enjoyed during hard economic times in the past.

1929: Stock markets crashed worldwide and the U.S. entered the Great Depression.
Top-grossing movie (courtesy of The Numbers): The Broadway Melody

The Broadway Melody had many firsts: MGM’s first musical film, one of the first musicals with a color sequence, and the first sound film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. A backstage show biz love triangle starring two sisters, it’s a light melodrama with plenty of Broadway clichés.

1973: Quadrupling of oil prices by OPEC alongside government spending on the Vietnam War led to stagflation.
Top-grossing movie: The Exorcist

What are those noises in the attic? A young girl is possessed and her desperate mother enlists the help of two priests to exorcise the demon… Very graphic for its time, it was dismissed by Rolling Stone as “nothing more than a religious porn film” – but terrified audiences made it one of the top-grossing horror films of all time.

1987: Black Monday (October 19 1987) was the largest one-day percentage decline in stock market history.
Top-grossing movie: 3 Men and a Baby

Three bachelors find themselves forced to take care of a baby left by one of their girlfriends. With the tagline “They changed her diapers. She changed their lives,” this goofy, feel-good movie was a big hit.

1990: The early 90s recession began as industrial production and manufacturing-trade sales fell off.
Top-grossing movie: Home Alone

An eight year-old is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation, and has to defend his home against bumbling burglars. A feel-good family classic. Those who remember the early 90s recession also remember Macaulay Culkin back when he was young and cute.

: The collapse of the Dot com bubble, along with 9/11 and corporate scandal, led to economic contraction.
Top-grossing movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The first movie about the boy magician, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the fight against Voldemort and the forces of evil. The books became an international obsession among children and adults alike, and the movies stuck close to the original stories and rode the wave to box office success.

There are some notably similar themes among these hits, based on our Movie Genome.

Young heroes * In danger * Feel good * Goofy heroes * Good vs. evil * Sibling relations * Friendship * Lighthearted * Supernatural ability * Mother and daughter
- Inspired? You can search any or several of these on Jinni.

What’s your favorite in this list? And what types of movies do you predict people will choose in the current financial crisis?

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Alan Moore Endorsed Watchmen Movie... in 1987

by Daniel Manu October

Alan Moore Endorsed Watchmen Movie... in 1987

By now, it's been well-documented that the brilliant comic-book author Alan Moore wants nothing to do with the upcoming big-screen version of his most famous work, Watchmen. Just last month, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said he would be "spitting venom all over it for months to come." He also expressed disgust at the film industry in general: "They take an idea, bowdlerize it, blow it up, make it infantile and spend $100 million to give people a brief escape from their boring and often demeaning lives at work. It's obscene and it's offensive. This is not the culture I signed up for." Moore's principled stance (he refuses both screen credit and payment for new films based on his work) stems from years of enduring what he considers shoddy, unethical treatment by both Hollywood and his former publisher, DC Comics.

But as the excitement for the Watchmen movie continues to build, we thought it might be of historical interest to look back at a time when Moore not only supported a film version of his ground-breaking graphic novel, but also endorsed the screenwriter attached to it -- a writer whose adaptation would bowdlerize, blow up and infantalize Moore's work in ways that still offend fans to this day.

In 1987, in a Q&A published in Comics Interview magazine (an excellent, but sadly long-defunct, print publication), issue 48, Moore told interviewer Darrel Boatz about the recently-optioned Watchmen movie:

Alan: I have got as much confidence as it is possible to have in the people who are handling the Watchmen film. Sam Hamm is an excellent screenwriter, he's been signed to write the Watchmen film. I think that it's got, therefore, as good a chance as any of being a good film [snip]

Darrel: I hadn't known there was a film in the works.

Alan: Yeah, 20th Century Fox have optioned Watchmen as a film. The producers are Joel Silver and Larry Gordon, who were the producers of 48 Hours. [snip] I've spoken to Joel Silver, he seems very enthusiastic and has a good track record of getting films actually made. That said, of course, we've been hearing about Silver Surfer and X-Men films for the past 200 years to my certain knowledge. (Laughter.) Whether the film is actually made or not is completely in the air, and how it turns out is beyond my control. But, you know, they've got Sam Hamm as writer of it, who is a very good, promising, new screenwriter, and has also got a good background and interest in comics and is the screenwriter, I believe, upon [sic] the new Batman film, as well. [snip] I've spoken to Sam, I went out to lunch with him -- he came to Northampton and had lunch with me -- and I've got complete faith in him. I believe that he will try his best to make the film as faithful to the experience of reading Watchmen as he can. I believe he's got a lot of respect for the material, and that's all that I can ask for, really, and I'm prepared to sort of stand by what he does.

What did Moore's sincerely expressed faith in Hamm get him? A screenplay that systematically removed all of the poetry, complexity and beauty of the graphic novel and replaced it with a dumbed-down plot, execrable '80s action-movie dialogue and a radically different ending that makes little logical sense and negates the dreadful power of the original. No summary can do justice to this script's awfulness, so you can check out the entire first draft here. But for those with weak stomachs, here are but some of the lowlights:

--The script begins with a prologue about terrorists taking hostages at the Statue of Liberty during the 1976 bicentennial celebrations. Adrian Veidt (never referred to as Ozymandias) leads a superhero team actually called "The Watchmen" to stop them. During the rescue attempt, the Comedian intentionally kills a hostage that's being used as shield by a terrorist. He quips, "The joke's on you."

--Almost all of the comic's back story is gone except for flashbacks to Dr. Manhattan's origin and the night that Rorschach splits the dog's head. Also gone is the sense of a rich alternate history so painstakingly established in the book.

--Speaking of Rorschach, his dialogue -- some of the most memorable passages in the comic -- has been replaced with out-of-character utterances like, "Hiya pardner, long time no see." And, "A doggy. A big old floppy-eared dog." And, "Two things I hate: street mimes... users of recreational drugs." Street mimes? After dispatching Big Figure (needlessly renamed Little Bigger in the script), Rorschach gets into the quip game by telling Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, "Toilet clogged. Big fat turd." Zing!

--Hamm's script ultimately hinges upon the revelation that Veidt's plan all along was to essentially create a hole in time through which he can assassinate Jon Osterman before his transformation into Dr. Manhattan, thereby altering the course of history to prevent a potential World War III and also eliminate superheroes from existence. (This makes little sense, since costumed adventurers existed decades before Manhattan and would presumably have gone on influencing events even if the good doctor ceased to be.)

--After some more ballyhoo, Veidt is foiled, but Dr. Manhattan is able to save his younger self from the fateful radiation blast, so time is indeed changed and Nite Owl, Rorschach and Silk Spectre find themselves -- inexplicably, since they were just in Antarctica -- in the New York City of our mundane, superhero-less reality. The kid by the newsstand is now reading a comic book called -- wait for it -- The Watchmen. And to add final insult to injury, Nite Owl sees a mounted policeman and exclaims, "Oh my God, they still ride around on horses!"

In the final analysis, could anyone blame Alan Moore for swearing off Hollywood?

Original here