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Monday, February 23, 2009

"The Target"

Dollhouse
Okay, so I was talking to Eliza Dushku earlier today. (How’s that for shameless name-dropping? It’s like we’re old chums or something.) Our discussion will run later in the week, but the line she was pushing on the show was that it really kicks into gear starting with the sixth episode, which is written by Joss Whedon. She was quick to add that she’s not at all dissatisfied with the episodes before it, but the overall impression is that the first five were constructed more as standalone episodes that might hook the casual viewer while the back half of the season unfolds in more serialized fashion. (She also said that Whedon’s voice as a writer comes through more clearly than it has so far, which is great news given how little of it was evident in the premiere.) In the meantime, I think we’re supposed to be patient until the show finally hits its groove—provided that FOX is similarly patient, of course, and the network has spotty history at best. (Looking at the ratings, there’s reason to feel both hope and dread. For more on that, check out a Newswire post I wrote about it earlier in the week.)
If the episodes leading up to #6 are anything like tonight’s very entertaining “The Target,” I for one have all the patience in the world. Once again, the episode didn’t have the feel of a Whedon show, exactly, but advanced the overall story arc further than I expected and the standalone subplot, a twist on The Most Dangerous Game, was tightly plotted, exciting, and full of genuinely unexpected turns. At a minimum, it confirms my belief that the Dollhouse formula is fundamentally sound, flexible enough to go wherever it wants with the one-off “imprints” while constantly posing and addressing questions about the place itself and the varied motivations of the actives and their keepers.
The main thread pairs Echo with an outdoorsman named Richard (Matt Kesslar) who appears at first to be another in a line of extravagantly wealthy men looking for the perfect date, with no attachments. Right away, this raises an issue that I had with the opening of the first episode: That the Dollhouse functions often, if not primarily, as an escort service, which makes it an awfully icky and exploitative operation. For a second tonight, I thought that maybe the romantic aspect of these dates was relatively chaste and that boundaries had been established, but Echo goes all Faith on her client in his tent. Anyway, Echo does what she’s supposed to do and fulfills all the nature-loving fantasies (whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, bow-hunting) that girlier girls presumably wouldn’t do for him. But alas, Richard turns on Echo and makes her his prey.
That’s a solid enough twist, but even better was having Echo’s handler Langdon (Harry Lennix) nearly neutralized by a thug-for-hire posing as a police officer. It was nice bit of misdirection to have Langdon and his partner successfully talk themselves out of trouble by pretending like press members seeking direction, only to have the friendly local cop plug holes in them with a handgun. You expect them to be taken off surveillance duty, not put in the line of fire themselves, and it’s a fun pre-commercial shock. It also underlines a major theme of this episode: The intimate, surrogate father/daughter relationship between an active and her handler, which of course Whedon explored to great effect with Buffy and Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
How clever, then, to intercut Echo and Langdon’s misadventures with the hunter with Langdon’s introduction to Dollhouse three months earlier, in the aftermath of a mass slaughter perpetrated by a former active with the codename “Alpha.” Among other things, we get to see the coding process that bonds Langdon to the childlike Echo; it’s an artificial, machine-dictated bond, of course, but what makes the moment so poignant is that Echo accepts it much like a duckling coded to follow its mother while Langdon reads from a script, uncertain that he’s made the right choice even being there, much less feeling a deep connection to a total stranger. “From this point on, she’ll always trust you,” says tech super-nerd Topher (Fran Kranz) to him. “You’re about to become the most important person in her life.”
So what a great payoff when we see that three months later, in this sticky situation with the hunter, that Langdon’s feelings for Echo have clearly deepened while hers have basically stayed the same. Yes, she’s as (artificially) trusting of him as she was when Topher worked his magic, but she goes “tabula rasa” after every mission, so there’s no real growth on her end of the relationship. But he remembers everything and has already become a father-figure to her; whatever his feelings about the organization itself—and he definitely seems ill at ease—it’s more than a job for him at this point. Echo’s got him hooked.
Grade: B+
Stray observations:
• The dialogue is still mysteriously workmanlike for a Whedon production, save for Echo’s awesome zinger about knowing how to use a gun: “Four brothers, none of them Democrats.”
• Ballard hasn’t shown many layers yet beyond his capacity as super-determined FBI guy, but tonight’s episode did a nice job of thickening the plot on that front by having him discover things about Dollhouse and about Echo’s true identity while also setting up Dollhouse’s all-seeing top brass (Olivia Williams and Reed Diamond) as more active adversaries in the future.
• Very happy to see the show reaching back into the dark history of Dollhouse itself. The “Alpha” arc will be in development all season, I imagine, but there’s plenty of room to get into the origins of the place down the line. I thought the chronology of this episode was handled very well.
• Another ghost in the Echo chamber: The “shoulder to the wheel” move.
• Dushku very much in her element this week: A spunky tomboy who kicks ass? Yep, she can handle that.

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iTunes leaks Kelly Clarkson’s new album weeks before its release

The Norway division of iTunes made a huge blunder yesterday when it accidentally made copies of Kelly Clarkson’s upcoming album, All I Ever Wanted, available for download via iTunes. Norwegian iTunes users noticed yesterday that 30 second previews of Clarkson’s new CD had become available, only to soon find out that full track downloads were possible as well.

The leak, attributed to an iTunes error, has already caused Clarkson’s record label to panic as copies of the soon to be released album have already been unleashed on P2P networks. I wouldn’t be too worried, though. After all, I doubt that Clarkson’s demographic of listeners are the type of people who even know what P2P is.

It’s a tad amusing though, if not downright ironic, that this debacle occurred in Norway. If you recall, Apple had previously run into legal trouble in Norway over its failure to offer DRM-free songs on iTunes, and a consumer advocacy group subsequently initiated legal proceedings against Apple over its failure to open up iTunes to other music players. Of course, these legal proceedings were dropped when Apple announced that iTunes would soon be going DRM-free. But what are the odds that Norway would be at the center of a big music leak involving DRM-free songs after it had spent so much energy crusading against DRM in the preceding months.

Lastly, an album leak is probably the last thing the former American Idol winner needs. Clarkson’s last CD was a bust, and the success of her upcoming album may well determine where her career goes from here. Not that I’m a fan or anything..

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ELO bass player Kelly Groucutt dead at 63

Kelly Groucutt
© All Music Guide
Kelly Groucutt

LONDON (AP) -- Kelly Groucutt, former bass player with 1970s rock hitmakers ELO, has died at age 63.

Groucutt's management said the musician died Thursday in Worcester, central England, after having a heart attack.

Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1971 by local musicians Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood, ELO — short for Electric Light Orchestra — combined rock 'n' roll with orchestral arrangements replete with string sections, choirs and symphonic sweep.

Groucutt joined ELO in 1974 after leaving his previous band, Sight and Sound. He played bass and sang during ELO's heyday as one of the world's biggest rock acts. ELO had a string of British and U.S. chart hits during the 1970s and early 1980s, including "Livin' Thing," "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Don't Bring Me Down."

Groucutt left the band in 1983 but later toured with several successor acts, including ELO Part II and The Orchestra.

He is survived by his wife Anna and four children.

"It is with great sadness that I have to inform the fans that Kelly Groucutt died on the afternoon of 19th February 2009 of a heart attack," a representative for the artist posted on his official website. "Our hearts and thoughts go out to Anna and Kelly's family. He touched all of our lives with his love, kindness and generosity as well as his talent for music and song. He was a true and wonderful friend who loved every second of life and he will be greatly missed by us all.

Funeral details were not immediately available.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press.

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Rant: Really? Slumdog Millionaire?


By Mack Rawden

Slumdog Millionaire is the film with a thousand faces. It’s hope amidst the worst recession in decades. It’s unrepentant love in the time of cholera. It’s sweet, it’s visually stimulating, and it’s the best motion picture made in 2008, at least according to The Academy. Too bad it’s also a forgettable, obvious fairy tale robotically programmed to tug at the heart strings of ignorant philistines. Slumdog Millionaire might be last year’s John 3:16 for most, but it’s last year’s 3 A.M. Lifetime original shitfest for me. It’s a poorly conceived, overly sentimental bitch slap to the face of common sense. It shoehorns in a plot about God out of nowhere, seems to endorse spending lives pining after girls you knew for about a month when you were eight, and worst of all, expects the viewer to sympathize with a character who has no real purpose in life other than to be trampled on by society. For all its unrepentant optimism and contrived emotion, Slumdog Millionaire is hollow and pointless, an excuse for Danny Boyle to show off a few neat camera tricks and prove he can make lonely, shallow moviegoers say, “Awww…”. But it’s the best picture of 2008.

My name is Mack Rawden, and I am here to recruit you. I’m here to separate your intellect from your hormones, usher you away from your hearts and into a forum of scholarly debate. Philosophers and studiers of film have long speculated movies become culturally important not because of their quality but because of the precise moment they were made. I get that, and I understand why, in a miserable, shitty economy, people would want to shell out nine dollars for unapologetic happiness but Slumdog Millionaire has been given an honor denied to Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and The Last Picture Show. It deserves a serious once over, and the truth is, Danny Boyle’s movie is empty, a utopia constructed with shoddy materials. It’s a slum.

The hero of Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal Malik, is a nervous, unlikable shell of a human being. I say he’s unlikable because there’s nothing to him. He has no quirks, eccentricities or qualities to set him apart. All we really know about him is he was orphaned by his mother, abandoned by his brother, and abandoned by the only girl he’s ever considered loving. These are not reasons to like him but reasons to feel sorry for him, and there’s a difference. You know how sometimes milk cartons have the pictures of missing children on the side? Well, when was the last time you really stopped everything to stare at the poor kid and ask yourself whether you’ve seen him? Think about how shitty that makes us all sound as human beings. A kid has been abducted, taken from everything he loves in this world and we can’t spend five seconds studying the picture to help save his life? Yeah, that makes us all sound like shitty human beings, but we don’t spend those five seconds because we have nothing personally invested in that child. He’s just nameless and faceless, unlikeable, merely someone to feel sorry for. Jamal Malik is that kid on the milk carton, except, inexplicably, we‘ve all stopped to randomly obsess over the same picture. Jamal’s face is no different than a thousand others long forgotten, but I guess his picture came along at the right time to be deemed culturally important. Woohoo for the sounds of dumb fucking luck.

Jamal’s brother, Salim, is also without depth, which is why it should come as no surprise he found God just in time to deliver that obnoxious line about the creator’s goodness while laying in a bathtub full of money put there for awkward reasons to forcibly ram home some fable-like symbolism involving simultaneous loss and gain of personal fortune among the Malik brothers. This should not surprise you at all, not only because of the vast dearth which are Salim’s dreams but because of the erratic, isn’t-that-just-convenient nature of the movie as a whole. Isn’t it just convenient Malik found a blind kid to tell him where Latika was and that same blind kid asked him to describe who was on the one hundred dollar bill and who was on the one hundred dollar bill came up later as a question on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Isn’t it just convenient that one of the phone operators left to watch Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but not before Jamal described to him the proper time to get your call through on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and that coworker’s break led to Jamal finding Latika who he would later call for the final question after getting on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Isn’t it all just so goddamn convenient?

Maybe that’s the point, some grand commentary on the revolving, constantly-affecting nature of our relationships with other human beings. We all know a guy who knows a guy who knows that guy. Of course, Jamal was able to track down Latika because that’s just how life works out. Maybe that was the point but it was one made by p.t. anderson far more effectively in Magnolia. But that movie didn’t win any Academy Awards because it was messy, it was real. People had depth. They grew as characters, they’re relationships forced them to evolve. Jamal doesn’t grow as a person. He’s stagnant, lifeless and stupid. He loved Latika when he was six; so, he still loves her now, even after she played house with a wannabe Scarface douche bag. He loved Salim when he was six; so, he still loves him now, even after he slept with Latika and marooned his own brother. He would probably still fall in shit to get that actor’s autograph because goddamnit, he did it when he was six.

My name is Mack Rawden, and I am here to recruit you. Slumdog Millionaire has won Best Motion Picture but that doesn’t mean it necessarily needs to be remembered as the best film of 2008. Forrest Gump won the coveted prize in ’94 and now most people seem to prefer Shawshank Redemption. Perspectives are roving. Watch Slumdog Millionaire again. Question why the movie starts with a cheesy Who Wants To Be A Millionaire question and ends with its equally cheesy answer. Question why Jamal is a sympathetic character. Question why he still loves Latika when her only purpose in the movie seems to be showing up randomly once every few years. Question why you were so moved in the first place. Just because the message was one you wanted to hear doesn’t mean the spokesman delivered it any better than his competitor espousing the antithesis.

Slumdog Millionaire is the film with a thousand different faces. When you stop fixating on the unrelentingly optimistic mugs, you’ll realize there are nine hundred and ninety-five others uglier and more naïve than Milk, Gran Torino and The Dark Knight. Slumdog Millionaire is a sweet little film with gaping plot holes and average acting performances. Let’s not pretend its Annie Hall because we were in the mood for cartoonish happy endings.

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Man Bites ‘Slumdog’

Piyal Adhikary / EPA-Corbis
The Scramble for Existence: From outside, the squalor may seem quaint, but it's a constant struggle for those who live there

By Sudip Mazumdar

On the way to see "Slumdog Millionaire" in Kolkata, I had my cabdriver pass through the slum district of Tangra. I lived there more than 35 years ago, when I was in my late teens, but the place has barely changed. The cab threaded a maze of narrow lanes between shacks built from black plastic and corrugated metal. Scrawny men sat outside, chewing tobacco and spitting into the dirt. Naked children defecated in the open, and women lined up at the public taps to fetch water in battered plastic jerry cans. Everything smelled of garbage and human waste. I noticed only one difference from the 1960s: a few huts had color TVs.

I still ask myself how I finally broke out. Jamal, the slumdog in Danny Boyle's award-winning movie, did it the traditional cinematic way, via true love, guts and good luck. People keep praising the film's "realistic" depiction of slum life in India. But it's no such thing. Slum life is a cage. It robs you of confidence in the face of the rich and the advantaged. It steals your pride, deadens your ambition, limits your imagination and psychologically cripples you whenever you step outside the comfort zone of your own neighborhood. Most people in the slums never achieve a fairy-tale ending.

I was luckier than Jamal in this way: I was no orphan. My parents came from relatively prosperous families in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), but the newlywed couple lost practically everything in the sectarian riots that led up to India's independence. They fled to Patna, the capital of northeastern India's Bihar state, where I was born a few years later. The first of my five sisters was born there in a rat-infested hut one rainy night when I was 3. My father was out of town, working as a construction laborer 100 miles away. My mother sent me with my 6-year-old brother to fetch the midwife, an opium-smoking illiterate. The baby was born before we got back, so the midwife just cut the umbilical cord with a razor blade and left. My mother spent the rest of the night trying to find a spot where the roof wouldn't leak on the newborn.

My parents got us out of the slums three years later. My father landed a job as a petty clerk with a construction firm that was building a dam, and we found a home. It was only a single rented room, but it was better than anything we had in Patna. I went to school nearby. Sometimes a teacher dozed off in class, and a few of us would sneak out the window to steal ripe guavas from a nearby orchard. If we got caught we could count on being caned in front of our classmates. Sometimes it would peel the skin off our backs. By my early teens I was running with a local gang. Membership was my source of confidence, security and excitement. We stole from shopkeepers and farmers, extorted money from truckers and fought against rivals for turf. Many of my pals came from broken families with drunken fathers or abusive stepmothers. Their big dream was to get a job—any job—with the dam-building firm.

Those days ended abruptly when we challenged a rival gang whose members had teased some girls on our turf. Both sides suffered serious injuries before police arrived to break it up. My parents didn't try to stop me from fleeing town. I made my way to Ranchi, a small city then in southern Bihar. I took on a new name and holed up in a squalid neighborhood. A local tough guy befriended me. He and his partners liked to waylay travelers at night. He always kept me away from his holdups, but he fed me when I had no other food. I also fell in with a group of radical leftists. I didn't care much about ideology, but they offered the sense of belonging I used to get from my old street gang. I spent the next five years moving from one slum to another, always a step ahead of the police. For money I took odd jobs like peddling newspapers and washing cars.

I might have spent the rest of my life in the slums or in prison if not for books. By the time I was 6, my parents had taught me to read and write Bengali. Literature gave me a special refuge. With Jack London (in translation) I could be a brave adventurer, and with Jules Verne I could tour the world. I worked my way up to Balzac, Hemingway and Dostoevsky. I finally began teaching myself English with the help of borrowed children's books and a stolen Oxford dictionary. For pronunciation I listened to Voice of America broadcasts and the BBC World Service on a stolen transistor radio. I would get so frustrated I sometimes broke into sobs.

I started hanging around the offices of an English weekly newspaper in Ranchi. Its publisher and editor, an idealistic lawyer-cum-journalist named N. N. Sengupta, hired me as a copy boy and proofreader for the equivalent of about $4 a month. It was there that I met Dilip Ganguly, a dogged and ambitious reporter who was visiting from New Delhi. He came to know that I was living in a slum, suffering from duodenal ulcers. One night he dropped by the office after work and found me visibly ill. He invited me to New Delhi. I said goodbye to my slum friends the next day and headed for the city with him.

In New Delhi I practiced my English on anyone who would listen. I eventually landed an unpaid internship at a small English-language daily. I was delirious with joy. I spent all my waking hours at the paper, and after six months I got a paying job. I moved up from there to bigger newspapers and better assignments. While touring America on a fellowship, I dropped in at NEWSWEEK and soon was hired. That was 25 years ago.

My home now is a modest rented apartment in a gated community in New Delhi. I try to keep in touch with friends from the past. Some are dead; others are alcoholics, and a few have even made good lives for themselves. I've met former slum dwellers who broke out of the cage against odds that were far worse than I faced. Still, most slum dwellers never escape. Neither do their kids. No one wants to watch a movie about that. "Slumdog" was a hit because it throbs with excitement, hope and positive energy. But remember an ugly fact: slums exist, in large part, because they're allowed to exist. Slumdogs aren't the only ones whose minds need to be opened up.

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What Is Happening To Iron Man 2?

By Graeme McMillan

With the cast list seemingly falling apart in public and the studio apparently forcing actors out due to low pay, is Iron Man 2 becoming the movie that'll end Marvel's run of movie successes?

If nothing else, the increasing to-and-fro surrounding the cast of the sequel to last year's best superhero movie (Don't groan, Dark Knight fans, you know it's true in your hearts) is becoming an unexpected black eye on the previously perfect public face of Marvel Studios, which only months ago was looking like one of the most successful independent studios in the business and unable to put a foot wrong. Perhaps we should have seen the warning signs when Terrence Howard was unceremoniously replaced by Don Cheadle, and Howard's public confusion over the move was met by somewhat dirty leaks from studio insiders, but even so; that seemed like a one-time thing at the time, instead of the start of a trend.

Since then, of course, Samuel L. Jackson has hinted that Marvel are not bringing him back to reprise his role as Nick Fury, despite Fury appearing to be central to the planned Avengers movie (especially if it's as close to Mark Millar's Ultimates comic as has been rumored) because of a breakdown in negotiations over money. Just over a week later, Variety announces that the studio has offered Mickey Rourke a stunningly low $250,000 to play one of the two lead villains in Iron Man 2... a move that led, earlier this week, to Rourke saying that he wouldn't be doing the movie after all (The usual anonymous sources are saying that the deal isn't necessarily dead just yet).

Marvel, of course, haven't officially commented on any of these situations - and it's unlikely that they will, particularly as the Rourke and Jackson negotiations are still, officially at least, ongoing - but the fact remains that Iron Man 2 is beginning to look like a movie that's being hamstrung by accountants with their eyes staring a little too intently on the bottom line. This isn't exactly news - director and co-writer Jon Favreau has also complained about being lowballed by the studio in their initial offer to sign him for the sequel - but at this point, it's getting embarrassing for Marvel; the only actor who's not complained about the progress of the movie has been Robert Downey Jr. himself (Gwyneth Paltrow has griped about not having seen a script yet, and the production seems to be having trouble keeping the love interest that they cast... but at least neither of those are money-related).

We're still a year away from the release of the movie - Iron Man 2 is scheduled to open May next year (Although, let's face it, that date may end up being as unrealistic as Favreau publicly declared it when it was first announced) - but that doesn't change the fact that Marvel needs to either start coughing up some more money for this movie - and considering the first made close to $600 million, that shouldn't be too much of a struggle - or else start putting together a more convincing PR push to explain that everything's going to be alright in the end. Because, right now, it's not looking as if Tony Stark's second outing is going to be quite as bulletproof as his first.

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7 Unworthy Best Picture Winners

Dances with Wolves vs. Goodfellas (1990)

Who Won: Dances with Wolves
Who Should Have Won: Goodfellas

Forrest Gump vs. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Who Won:Forrest Gump
Who Should Have Won: The Shawshank Redemption

The English Patient vs. Fargo (1996)

Who Won: The English Patient
Who Should Have Won: Fargo

Shakespeare in Love vs. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Who Won: Shakespeare in Love
Who Should Have Won: Saving Private Ryan

American Beauty vs. The Sixth Sense (1999)

Who Won: American Beauty
Who Should Have Won: The Sixth Sense

A Beautiful Mind vs. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Who Won: A Beautiful Mind
Who Should Have Won: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Chicago vs. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Who Won: Chicago
Who Should Have Won: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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Top 5 Potential Oscar Night Surprises


By Katey Rich

So many of the predicted Oscar winners feel like sure things, that a kind of malaise has settled into the season. Kate Winslet fans would have been thrilled a year ago to hear that she's the likely Best Actress winner, but now we're all dying to hear any other name mentioned. And everyone feels that Heath Ledger deserves his Supporting Actor statue, but wouldn't you be secretly thrilled to see Robert Downey Jr. stroll up there?

Luckily for us, and our likelihood of staying awake through the ceremony, there's still some potential for surprise in some key categories. Below are the five most likely, and who the spoilers may wind up being. But oh, Heath's trophy is still locked down. These predictions may be a little bold, but they're not crazy.

1. Melissa Leo for Best Actress. The idea has been gaining traction on notable awards sites like Awards Daily, with the basic idea that actors are crazy about Melissa Leo, and figure she's a previously unknown actress who might gain sympathy from the members of the acting branch who identify with her struggle to get good roles. Plus, a lot of people are mad about The Reader taking The Dark Knight's slot in Best Picture, and they might retaliate against Kate Winslet by voting for Leo instead. One more thing: Frozen River DVDs were sent to Academy voters before any others, giving them even more time to fall in love with Leo's performance.

2. In Bruges for Best Original Screenplay. A lot of people have this race pegged down to Milk and Wall-E, with the most conventional wisdom going for the biopic. But Martin McDonagh's witty, wordy screenplay for In Bruges is beloved by everyone who's seen the film, and he's got a history with the Academy-- his short film, Six Shooter, won the Oscar in 2006. The robot or the gay rights hero may still be the better bet, but McDonagh is well-positioned for a surprise.

3. Taraji P. Henson for Best Supporting Actress. This may not be a technical surprise, given that statistics whiz kid Nate Silver predicted her as the winner. But Henson is widely considered to be at the back of the pack of nominees, given that she's a relative newcomer and was largely outshone in her movie by the technical effects. Then again, the category is pretty wide open, and a general love for the movie (13 nominations!) could push Henson over the other nominees from much-less-loved movies. If Penelope Cruz really had this in the bag, don't you think Vicky Cristina could have snagged a screenplay nomination? Amy Adams and Viola Davis from Doubt can cancel each other out, and Marisa Tomei's movie is often referred to as "The Mickey Rourke show." Keep an eye on Henson, coming around the outside.

4. Kung Fu Panda for Best Animated Feature. Are you jealous of Pixar? Aren't we all? The studio has dominated this category throughout pretty much its entire existence, except for Happy Feet and that one year, in which Dreamworks' Shrek beat Monsters, Inc.. But since then there hasn't been a high-quality animated film from Dreamworks to challenge Pixar... until now. Kung Fu Panda isn't just beloved around these parts, and if Wall-E wasn't popular enough to make it into Best Picture, it might not even swing the category it was expected to dominate.

5. The Reader for Best Adapted Screenplay. This category is pretty widely expected to go to Slumdog Millionaire, but if the guaranteed Best Picture winner starts slipping in other categories, this award could go to another movie that was shown a surprising amount of affection. Sure, it goes against the theory that gives Melissa Leo Best Actress, but The Reader definitely saw a groundswell of support going into the nominations, and may still be riding that support now.

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The 6 Best Nerd Movies That the Academy Snubbed

OSCAR.jpg
By Zac Bertschy

Say what you will about the legitimacy of the Academy Awards, one thing's for sure: nerds just love to bitch about them. It's tough to find a discussion about the Oscars on the internet that isn't infiltrated by at least one nerd complaining that the latest Stargate straight-to-DVD movie wasn't nominated for Best Picture or how Serenity was snubbed by the Academy. Usually they're wrong, hyping up mediocre genre crap as though it's automatically better than whatever the Academy has selected because there are spaceships or laser guns or aliens.

But this year, the nerds actually have a point - there's no reason The Dark Knight didn't at least get nominated for Best Picture. It was a giant, unprecedented smash at the box office, critics were almost unanimously in love with it, and it featured one of the most memorable performances in a generation. It also happened to have Batman in it, which is presumably why it didn't get the nod. As easy as it is to brush off nerd complaints about the Academy's selections, it turns out they have failed to recognize a fair number of great sci-fi and fantasy movies that at least deserved a Best Picture nomination, and in some cases, even a win.

6) Planet of the Apes, 1968)

There are few sci-fi films more iconic, beloved and recognized than the original Planet of the Apes. So many classic lines and moments and images, it's been part of our pop culture vocabulary for decades, inspiring a TV series, a whole ton of (admittedly worthless) sequels, an (also worthless) big-budget remake, and of course, countless homages in books, comics, video games, TV shows, movies and every other form of media known to man (this being inarguably the greatest of them). The movie still holds up today, 40 years later; it's a very well-written, well-acted piece of science fiction, and if you've never screamed "GET YOUR PAWS OFF ME, YOU DAMN DIRTY APE!" at a police officer while severely inebriated, then you haven't lived.

Unfortunately, the Academy in 1969 were having none of it; they didn't even hand the movie a Best Picture nomination, instead nominating it only for Best Score and Best Costume design, neither of which it won (although in all fairness this was the same year Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey was released, and not even that got a Best Picture nod). Instead, they handed the top prize to Oliver!, a big forgettable musical adaptation of the stage version of the Charles Dickens novel, that notably has only received one bare-bones DVD release, and that was 11 years ago. Meanwhile, not only can you buy every single Planet of the Apes movie meticulously restored on Blu-ray disc, you can also get a version of the collection that comes in a replica of an ape head. It's no secret which film stood the test of time.

Did it deserve to win?: Planet of the Apes doubtlessly deserved a Best Picture nomination, but in hindsight, everyone knows 2001 deserved to win that year, and if not that, then at the very least The Lion in Winter deserved the top prize over fucking Oliver!.

5) Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981

This is one of two movies on this list that actually did get a nomination for Best Picture but lost, most likely because they were genre pieces. Raiders of the Lost Ark - in spite of whatever hideous taint Kingdom of the Crystal Skull may have placed on the Indiana Jones franchise - is one of the greatest action movies ever made, and it came out in a year that was pretty weak for Best Picture nominees. It was up against your dead grandma's betamax cassette of On Golden Pond, Warren Beatty's Reds, a few other movies you've never heard of, and then lost to Chariots of Fire, a movie only remembered because your annoying friend hums the Chariots of Fire theme every time he sees slow-motion footage of someone running, even though he's probably never seen the film.

Did it deserve to win?: Yes. Raiders of the Lost Ark is an icon. If you take it at face value and disregard all that came after, judging it purely on its own merits and setting aside whatever hatred you might have for the sequels or the people who made it, it's a damn fine film and apparently 1981 was a shit year for movies, based on what was nominated. Of the 5 movies nominated that year, there is not a soul who would argue that Chariots of Fire is somehow better than Raiders of the Lost Ark.

4) The Matrix, 1999

Say what you will about the sequels (and there's a lot you can say about the sequels), the original Matrix holds up even today as a great and wildly original action movie. That isn't why it deserved a Best Picture nomination, though; this movie almost immediately changed everything in terms of the visual language of action movies. We've all endured countless rip-offs and parodies of this film at this point; for a few years there it basically overwhelmed popular culture. Even though it didn't get a Best Picture nomination, it did manage to beat Star Wars Episode One for best visual effects, which is pretty goddamn impressive since if this movie hadn't come out in 1999 the fuckers who created Jar-Jar Binks would have a golden statue sitting atop their mantles.

Did it deserve to win? Nope. American Beauty deserved that trophy, unless you're being an 'edgy' internet contrarian about it. However, The Matrix did absolutely deserve a Best Picture nomination, if only for how unique and groundbreaking it was in its day. This was also the year The Green Mile was nominated for Best Picture. Go ahead and repeat that to yourself: The Green Mile (otherwise known as "the shittier, three hours long version of The Shawshank Redemption") was nominated for Best Picture, but The Matrix wasn't.

3) The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001

This is the Lord of the Rings movie that should've won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
It was nominated - along with the others - for not only Best Picture, but a host of other awards. The last one, The Return of the King, won the top prize a few years back, much in the same way Martin Scorsese won his Best Picture trophy for The Departed not because that was the best film of that year or even his best movie but rather because they should've given it to him for Goodfellas. The Return of the King wasn't bad by any stretch, but it was choppy as hell and poorly edited and sorely needed the extra hour of material in the Extended Edition just to make everything connect. No way in hell would any Academy member actually sit through that much nonsense just to get to the point of it all. By the time they awarded Return of the King the Best Picture trophy, they were crying uncle.

The Fellowship of the Ring - the theatrical version, the one that really works as a movie that isn't 4 hours long, the one people really had fun with and to this day is still the most watchable of the lot of those films - is a real classic and should've been recognized as such.

Did it deserve to win?: This was 2001. A Beautiful Mind won Best Picture. That movie was a ripe hunk of horseshit, so sure, why not. You could make a case for Moulin Rouge!, which was also nominated for Best Picture that year, but in a decade - or even two - people will still probably watch The Fellowship of the Ring, be thrilled with how cool it is, get bored 20 minutes into The Two Towers and give up on Lord of the Rings entirely. But they'll still have those great memories of how awesome Fellowship of the Ring is.

2) Blade Runner, 1982

To be honest, there was no way in hell Blade Runner would've been nominated for Best Picture in 1982. The movie was misunderstood and under-appreciated for years after its initial release and didn't become known as a classic until much later, but it's now rightfully hailed as a visionary piece of cinema (not to mention probably the best film Ridley Scott ever made) and had a huge impact on the sci-fi genre. Just in the past decade studios have been raiding the file cabinets of Phillip K. Dick (resulting in some awesome adaptations like A Scanner Darkly and some not-so-awesome ones like Paycheck), and Warner Bros. just dumped a bunch of cash into a huge restoration effort on the film, resulting in a roadshow theatrical screening of the new Director's Cut and a 5-disc DVD edition containing not one but three cuts of the film. It isn't realistic to expect that the short-sighted folks in 1982 would've even considered nominating this movie for best picture, especially consider the original theatricaal version had studio-mandated narration and nonsensically happy ending. However, if time travel existed, it'd still be nice to go back and slap them around like a Replicant prostitute.

Did it deserve to win?: The winner of the Best Picture Oscar in 1982 was Ghandi, the movie so high in prestige and acclaim it apparently gave Ben Kingsley a lifelong get-out-of-total-career-humiliation free card and enabled him to take roles in such films as Thunderbirds and The Love Guru without being ejected from Hollywood with a cannon. So no, Blade Runner probably didn't deserve to win, per se, but it sure as hell deserved a nomination, especially when you consider the Academy chose to nominate E.T. The Extra Terrestrial that year.

1) The Empire Strikes Back, 1980

One of the biggest sins a nerd can commit is bitching about how Star Wars didn't win Best Picture in 1977. Invariably, people who make that complaint haven't seen Annie Hall, which was and still is a fantastic movie that deserved to win. Yes, Star Wars is legendary, but its place in history is cemented enough.

The real complaint nerds of all stripes should be making is that the vastly superior sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, was completely passed over for a Best Picture nomination in 1980. Empire isn't just good for a Star Wars movie, it's widely regarded as an excellent film by both critics and the public at large, frequently mentioned in the same breath as The Godfather Part II when the inevitable 'sequels that were even better than their beloved predecessor' discussion comes up. If any piece of the Star Wars franchise deserved to be recognized by the Academy for any reason, it was The Empire Strikes Back. It's one of those rare genre movies that transcends its required trappings and honestly deserves to be considered among the high-quality fare the Academy is supposed to be all about.

Did it deserve to win?: Heavens no. 1980 was the year Raging Bull came out. It lost to the admittedly very good Ordinary People, but if you're forced to compare The Empire Strikes Back to Raging Bull, Empire isn't going to come out on top. It should've had a nomination, though; of the three other films nominated, not one of them is particularly remembered today.

Original here

Universal in talks for 'Battlestar' movie

By Borys Kit

Just as the acclaimed Sci Fi Channel series "Battlestar Galactica" enters its final episodes, Universal has quietly entered into negotiations with Glen A. Larson to write and produce a big-screen version of the property he created.

"Battlestar," which originally aired on ABC in 1978, was produced in the wake of the success of "Star Wars," which caused a sci-fi revival in popular culture. The premise involved a human civilization living on a series of 12 planets that are decimated from an attack by intelligent robots known as Cylons. The survivors are led by a starship called Galactica in their attempt to find a mythic 13th planet named Earth.

The Sci Fi series, under the direction of executive producer Ronald Moore, took the premise and ran with it, incorporating the politics of war, religion, torture and destiny, becoming the channel's signature series.

The movie effort would have no connection to the series and would relaunch the story in a new medium. However, staples such as the characters Adama, Starbuck, and Baltar will remain.

Larson was one of the biggest names in 1970s and '80s TV and creator of shows like "Switch" and "Magnum P.I."

Original here

Who Will Win (And Who Should Win) at the 2009 Oscars

Posted by CoolerKing in Features

When I spoke to Danny Boyle last October, he was surprised by the positive response that his Slumdog Millionaire was starting to receive stateside after buzz from the Toronto Film Festival began getting louder and louder. Four months later, in the wake of dozens of awards and on the eve of an Oscars in which most people predict Slumdog will win at least half a dozen awards, I often wonder if he's still surprised now. What would surprise him more? A win for best Picture, Director, or Adapted Screenplay? It looks like finally, after a string of Oscar bridesmaids - Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno - Fox Searchlight will finally be the bride, thanks to Slumdog.

And, if Slumdog is the blushing bride this year, then an old-looking baby gets to be the Best Man. If our predictions are right, Slumdog and Button will be the big winners on Sunday night with Boyle's film taking home an amazing seven awards and David Fincher’s three. Other films that won seven Oscars? Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, Out of Africa, The Sting, The Best Years of Our Lives, and The Bridge on the River Kwai. Incredible company. And, if we're right, Slumdog will have one more trophy than The Godfather, Part II and Star Wars. It's been an absolutely amazing, almost unprecedented run, and I don't expect any other movie to get anywhere near that seven-trophy total on Sunday night.

The closest competition for Best Picture this year and the only film that could conceivably take the grand prize from Slumdog is The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but I think that film will only be recognized technically, taking home three Oscars. It almost feels like vindication for a generation that adored Trainspotting and Se7en to watch the auteurs that we knew would eventually be among the greats finally ascend to the throne of Oscar recognition.

If you want to drop some trivia on your Oscar friends on Sunday night – What's the last movie to win Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing, AND Cinematography, as most people are predicting Slumdog Millionaire to do? Schindler’s List. Nice company.

And we're predicting that other multiple trophy winners will include Milk, The Dark Knight, and WALL-E. So, without further ado, here are our picks who will win (and who SHOULD win) at this Sunday's award ceremony, presented category by category with commentary on the big eight...

- Brian Tallerico

**********

BEST PICTURE

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: Milk

You could really call this one a lock. After winning most of the precursor awards - including the Golden Globe and, surprisingly, the SAG ensemble award - and being a near sure-thing for the best director and adapted screenplay awards, it would be really surprising for anything but Slumdog to take this home. You can cross Frost/Nixon and The Reader off the list instantly. Neither even deserved nomination and they would be the most shocking winners in Oscar history. Milk doesn't have enough support. That makes this a two dog race, and the Millionaire is going to win by a lap.

**********

BEST ACTOR

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Sean Penn, Milk

One of the closest contests of the night will be in the lead actor category between two '80s icons - Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke. The comeback kid or someone widely recognized as one of the best actors working today? If Penn hadn't won just a few years ago for Mystic River, this would be a slam-dunk lock for Sean, but winners taking home two awards within a decade is not as common as you'd think. And that opens the door for the great work by Mickey Rourke. On the other hand, if Randy "The Ram" had taken home the SAG Award, which is voted on by the group with the largest number of in-common voters as the Academy, I'd give Rourke the edge, but Penn did and that makes this a 50/50 shot. The last time SAG didn't match up with the Oscar? Five years ago when the Guild went with Johnny Depp instead of Penn. It comes back around this year, and Penn barely edges out Mickey. Don't be surprised if he brings him up on stage. The best possible outcome? A tie and they accept together. That would rule.

**********

BEST ACTRESS

WILL WIN: Kate Winslet, The Reader

SHOULD WIN: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married

Kate Winslet won most of the precursor awards for her work in The Reader, but those prizes were awarded in the Supporting Actress category, creating an interesting race in the lead category. We can eliminate Angeline Jolie and Anne Hathaway, even though the latter deserves to win, in my opinion. Melissa Leo seems to have built steam lately with some people suggesting she could take it if the two more likely candidates split the vote. I don't see that happening. Here's what to think about before you place your bet in this category - Will people who think that Winslet should still be in supporting choose to not vote for her in lead? Will that be enough people to make her lose for the sixth time? If she does, this will clearly go to Meryl Streep with her third win but first in a quarter-century. Like Best Actor, this one is close to 50/50, but I don't think they're going to let Winslet go home empty-handed for the sixth time and they'll want to make sure that Harvey Weinstein goes home with at least one trophy. This is The Reader's only real shot and no one likes an empty-handed Harvey.

**********

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight

What more is there to say? If Ledger loses it would be the biggest shock in Oscar history. Expect a standing ovation. Expect tears. Expect a very deserving win for an actor we will miss for a very long time.

**********

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

WILL WIN: Viola Davis, Doubt

SHOULD WIN: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

What the hell is going to happen here? If Best Actor and Best Actress are 50/50 races between Penn/Rourke and Streep/Winslet, this one is 20/20/20/20/20. No joke. If you do even a minimal amount of web-searching for Oscar predictions, you will find someone picking every single candidate. When Winslet moved up to Best Actress, it left a hole in the precursor awards for this category. The small majority seems to be going with Cruz for Vicky Cristina, but I think the lack of support for that film, as evidenced by no original screenplay nod, makes Penelope less likely to win. I think voters will go with Winslet for lead, making Doubt, a very well-liked film, more likely to go home empty-handed. Voters will then want to correct that here and give Supporting Actress to Amy Adams or Viola Davis. I'm guessing the latter and one of the more heartwarming, genuine speeches of the evening.

**********

BEST DIRECTOR

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire

A lock. The winner of most precursor awards, including the top prize from his peers in the DGA, will go home with his first Oscar. If anyone else wins, it will be David Fincher. If they read Ron Howard, Stephen Daldry, or Gus Van Sant's name on Sunday night, you will hear screams of shock. That could be entertaining.

**********

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Slumdog Millionaire by Simon Beaufoy

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Milk by Dustin Lance Black

I expect the Academy to get these categories right. They often come through in the screenplay categories, and Beaufoy’s and Black’s work were easily the best of the year. Beaufoy took an anecdotal book that could have been a melodramatic disaster in a lesser writer’s hands and made it inspirational gold, and Black took an amazing true story and balanced the political with the personal, crafting a vital statement on the important of gay rights. They are two of the best screenplays of the last several years. WALL-E has an outside shot at original screenplay, but I think the Academy will go with Milk, especially with the specter of Prop 8 still lingering like a bad taste in their mouths.

**********

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST ART DIRECTION:

WILL WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

SHOULD WIN: Synecdoche, New York (I know it wasn’t nominated but it should have been)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

WILL WIN: The Duchess

SHOULD WIN: Milk (How did The Dark Knight and Slumdog Millionaire not get nominated over Australia? That’s ridiculous.)

BEST SOUND:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: WALL-E

BEST EDITING:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

BEST SOUND EDITING:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: The Dark Knight

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST MAKEUP:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST SONG:

WILL WIN: "O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: "Down to Earth" from WALL-E

BEST SCORE:

WILL WIN: Slumdog Millionaire

SHOULD WIN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

BEST SHORT FILM, ANIMATED:

WILL WIN: Presto

SHOULD WIN: La Maison en Petits Cubes

BEST SHORT FILM, LIVE ACTION:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Manon on the Street

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

WILL WIN: Man on Wire

SHOULD WIN: Trouble the Water

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Waltz With Bashir

BEST ANIMATED FILM:

WILL/SHOULD WIN: WALL-E


Original here

"Madea" takes on the Oscars

By Carl DiOrio

Filmmaker Tyler Perry speaks after receiving the award for media at the BET Reuters – Filmmaker Tyler Perry speaks after receiving the award for media at the BET Honors Awards in Washington, …

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Oscar weekend tends to be a bit iffy at the boxoffice, but a strategically targeted release can open solidly.

This year, that movie is Tyler Perry's latest comedy "Madea Goes to Jail," which baits a well-established fan base for the prolific filmmaker in urban markets.

Perry pictures almost never cross over significantly to broader audiences, but most of his recent releases have rung up $20 million during their opening weekends.

By that measure, his previous film represented something of a misfire. "The Family That Preys" bowed with $17.4 million in September and grossed only $37.1 million domestically.

Perry's "Meet the Browns" opened last March with $20.1 million and rang up $42 million domestically. And his "Why Did I Get Married?" opened in October 2007 with $21.4 million and logged $55.2 million overall.

Elsewhere, this weekend is more of a crapshoot. Sony Screen Gems has the only other wide opener, the PG-13 teen comedy "Fired Up!" and early reviews have been less than kind.

But with a negative cost of less than $20 million," "Fired Up!" would be firing on all cylinders if it can climb into the upper-single-digit millions this weekend -- a feat by no means assured from limp prerelease tracking data. As such, it is unlikely to finish high among the session's rankings.

Defending champ "Friday the 13th" should grab the silver medal. After slicing off $43.6 million during the four-day Presidents Day weekend, look for Warner Bros.' horror remake to gross somewhere in the teen millions this weekend.

Original here


10 Celebrity Twitters Actually Worth Following

By Ben Joseph


Every Saturday we have some of our favorite writers from around the web fill in for us. Today, we have producer and writer for CollegeHumor (and defector from Cracked.com) Ben Joseph. Ben wrote some of our favorite early Cracked.com articles and is responsible for some of the best Collegehumor Originals.

Today he explains who you should be following on Twitter ...

Previously, when celebrities wanted to contact their fans, they had three options: press release, personal interview or Internet sex tape. Twitter, however, has shattered this sacred PR trinity, and that may not be an entirely good thing. Constant exposure often reveals even the most interesting personality to be just another member of the dull, laundry-doing, self-Googling masses (read: you). It's the rare celeb that manages to transcend and maintain a truly interesting chronicle of their moment-to-moment activity.

#10.
Rainn Wilson

twitter.com/rainnwilson

Following / Followers

44 / 46,845

Finding out that Rainn Wilson is a lot like Dwight Schrute, only smarter and sometimes (gasp) funnier is like discovering that, not only are dinosaurs still real, but they can also play pretty sick guitar solos. Between honest-to-God laughs, Wilson confirms that, yes, acting in a hit sitcom makes your job suck even more by comparison.

Choice Tweets:

Watching 'Hotel for Dogs' with my wife and son. Kate Winslet plays a Nazi with a lot of books. Still waiting for ONE stupid dog to show up.

Back at THE OFFICE after 6 week hiatus. Had to have a long talk with John K about his favorite game "nipple punch" and its appropriateness,


Nipple punch.



I HAVE 2K FOLLOWERS IN LESS THAN TWO DAYS. AH, THE POWER. I now order you all to kill yourselves by eating your computers.

#9.
John Hodgman

twitter.com/hodgman

Following / Followers

88 / 36,040

It's a shame most still know Hodgman from those commercials that showed all the ways a PC was inferior to a lanky hipster with a bad haircut (answer: PC takes too many showers?). Stodgy appearance notwithstanding, the man's a funny writer and it comes through in his Twitter.

Choice Tweets:

Desk is clear for the first time since beginning of book tour. Apparently it is made of wood.

OK. Everyone should get their replies in about 5-7 business days. I'm sorry I could not overnight them, but they are fictional, so USPS only

#8.
Warren Ellis

twitter.com/warrenellis

Following / Followers

108 / 17,601

Blame modern society, but writing graphic novels with cult appeal (Transmetropolitan, Nextwave) doesn't make one as famous as wearing a blonde wig and singing about pogs (or something) or doing whatever the hell a Jonas brother does. Still, if you can get past his constant replies to other Twitterers, Ellis's insights re: writer's block and alcoholism are always a good read. Always succinct, publishing in 140-character bursts only highlights Ellis's sharpness.

Choice Tweets:

Arguing with people on Twitter about religion is like using your cock to duel with pygmies while balanced on parallel bars-


Penis fight.

-there is some entertainment value for passers-by, but there have to be nicer ways to spend your day.

most of my body died in the night but my brain is still alive. is horrible. trying to rub whisky into pores to reactivate flesh

#7.
MC Hammer

Following / Followers

24,076 / 69,934

twitter.com/MCHammer

I was dubious, since celebrities usually wear their low Following / Follower ratio as a mark of pride. ("Pride" may not be the word I want--how do you spell "fragile ego"?) But apparently twitter.com/MCHammer is, forgive me, legit. Hammer loves Twitter so much he flew cross-country for the Shorty Awards, the first ever "Twitter awards ceremony" (your guess is as good as mine.) The posts aren't hilarious, but, beyond novelty value, Hammer's Twitter is the chronicle of a man who's seen bankruptcy, genie pants and everything in between, and isn't afraid to blow the trials he's endured completely out of proportion ...

Choice Tweets:

The reservoir I draw from runs deep and is anchored in the human experience and diverse cultures... to hell and back is an understatement

I caught the "Red-Eye" and now it's time for "Shut-Eye"!!! I had a little breakfast.... wait.. I might mess up my hair ! oh, Le coconut !!!

#6.
James Gunn

twitter.com/james_gunn

Following / Followers

23 / 3,601

Not familiar? Cliff notes: Wrote Dawn of the Dead, Slither, the Scooby Doo films and nothing else you've heard of (geek/virgin points to the 10 of you that just yelled "The Specials!") What the rest of you care about: He was married to The Office's Pam Beesly, which, for a certain quirky dork demographic, was like Brad and Angelina. His Twitter is just as idiosyncratic and occasionally maddening as all of the above would lead you to believe.

Choice Tweets:

(re: a recent poll) Easily 40 times as many answers to "how often I poop" as there were to "most important mind." I know where my fucking bread is buttered.

Watching
Planet Earth. Pandas incredible cuteness is slightly diminished by the fact that their asses are covered in shit.

#5.
Neil Gaiman

twitter.com/neilhimself

Following / Followers

14 / 26,420

Refreshingly, the Sandman and Coraline scribe seems to have no use for the over-engineered, eyeliner-enhanced quirk to which many of his fans are inclined. Although celebrity self-absorption occasionally sneaks through, the Internet could benefit from more of his subdued Brit charm.

Choice Tweets:

In dublin. Just ordered breakfast. Was whisked thru airport by film vip magic and instead of queueing was given tea. All airports shd be so.

Best bit of the evening: being asked who my hair stylist was and having to explain that this is just what it does & not anyone's fault.

#4.
Britney Spears

twitter.com/britneyspears

Following / Followers

1,181/124,539

Chance it's actually her: 95 percent. Chance that everything she says is run by a manager, a publicist and dictated through two assistants: 9,000 percent (sorry, math was never my thing). Although the Tweets have all the spark of a well-revised press release, their sterility provides an interesting glimpse into the Stepford Wife-esque life of a fallen starlet whose handlers still have a vested interest in her continued visibility.

Choice Tweets:

I love Japan! I think all the tiny cars are so cute! --Britney

Had a great talk with Andre, one of Brit's choreographers, tonight. We're doing a profile on him- stay tuned. ~Team Brit

#3.
Demetri Martin

twitter.com/DemetriMartin

Following / Followers

- 2,994 / 3,399

Another dubious ratio for a celeb, but if Rainn Wilson and John Hodgman think it's worth following someone, that's good enough for me. Martin's comedy is built on meticulously crafted one-liners, so it's interesting to see him a little more unedited. It also helps if you read it with the comedian's trademark deadpan delivery echoing in your head.

Choice Tweets:

Last LA thing. Jamba Juice. Dude asks me what "boost" I want. So I asked if they had "superhero."

Why do celebrities name their kids cool stiff like Kal-el and Inspektor Pilot? Cuz I have 864 Katies/Saras following me. They all have cats.

#2.
Felicia Day

twitter.com/feliciaday

Following / Followers

84 / 62,346

Nerd-icon-on-the-rise Felicia Day (Buffy, Dr. Horrible) doesn't aim to be particularly insightful or hilarious. However, if you spend too much time on the Internet (rhetorical statement, you're here), you will fall in love with her. The savvy PR to reality ratio is still in question, but she's a cute, excitable redhead who posts intelligently about video games, graphic novels and personally knowing Joss Whedon. OK, champ, we're done here, you can put your pants back on.

Choice Tweets:

Cleaning up house, found an unopened copy of Spore, realized I never played it! GAH! Must remedy!

Started my Graphic Novel education, training myself to not speed through the text and appreciate the art is a learning curve, but worth it.

#1.
Shaquille O'Neal

twitter.com/THE_REAL_SHAQ

Following / Followers

380 / 87,931

Like some of his previous forays into mass media, namely Shazaam and Shaq Fu, THE_REAL_SHAQ blurs the line between unintelligible train wreck and sublime performance art. The posts run high on stream-of-consciousness and low on spell check, and range from short words of wisdom (usually self-attributed) to his signature one-liners (always capped with "lol" 'cause, you know, it's a joke). I could go on, but the man's bio says it best: "VERY QUOTATIOUS, I PERFORM RANDOM ACTS OF SHAQNESS".


Random act of Shaqness

Choice Tweets:

Just leavn lebrons party, i have no voice, can u hear this , ................... C i told u , no voice, lol


Random act of Shaqness #2

Ok i admit it i at performance enhancing frosted flakes 2 yrs ago, lol


Random act of Shaqness #3

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