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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin enter the world of comic books

(CNN) -- Move over Wonder Woman and Lois Lane - Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are breaking into the world of comic books.

No capes, no tights: Female Force stars Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Caroline Kennedy.

No capes, no tights: Female Force stars Sarah Palin, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Caroline Kennedy.

Washington-based publisher Bluewater Productions released a series of comic books featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on March 11. The company says it has already sold 7,500 copies of each to distributors.

"We really want to show strong, independent, female role models in comics," said Darren Davis, president of Bluewater Productions.

Another company released comics about President Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain during the presidential election.

Then they decided that Hillary Clinton's story needed to be told.

"She was the first [major] female presidential candidate, so we just started with [her], and there was so much interest in it," said Jason Schultz, executive vice president of Bluewater Productions.

The first two issues in Female Force, already released, feature Clinton and Palin. The next two will feature Caroline Kennedy and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Michelle Obama comic is expected to be released in April, and has pre-sold 28,000 copies.

The next set will feature other "strong, independent women" such as Princess Diana, Schultz said.

Comic fans approve of the idea.

"I think it just says, like, that women are important," one comic book fan told CNN.

Another added, "It shows that comics aren't just about guys in tights beating each other up -- it's about information, it's about understanding people a little better," said another reader.

Richard Laermer, CEO of a public relations firm and author of several books on marketing, said he's not surprised.

"We're in a very politically minded time right now," he said.

The creators expect to expand the comic book world to a larger demographic with the books.

"It's bringing a whole new demographic to comic books," Schultz said. "It just shows little girls, young women, that they can be anything they want," he added.

Mary Ellen Balchunis, an assistant professor of political science at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania said "getting girls [interested in politics] at a younger age is brilliant."

"I think it's great that they're doing these comic books," Balchunis said. "In the past, women have shown a low level of political efficacy."

She said the choices are "fabulous," because "these are the women who are at the top of the totem pole right now."

Each comic will be biographical, Schultz said. "With Hillary, it starts with her life and ends up with her as Secretary of State."

"It would be fun to see how the superhero Hillary sort of pushes her way forth and shows people what she did in her life. To me that's just awesome," said Laermer.

Another professor of political science said the way the women are portrayed will be important.

"Comic books, by definition, are caricatures, but there are different ways of doing those caricatures," said Landon Storrs, an associate professor of history at the University of Houston.

"So it's a question of what the artists go for. If they just tap into familiar stereotypes, then they could reinforce negative ideas about powerful women, even as they are trying to do the opposite," she added.

The fact that real, living women are now in comic books is another barrier that Davis and Schultz have broken through, historian and author Trina Robbins said.

"It's about time. They've never done a major living woman," she said. "I think what's good is they're doing women in politics and not Paris Hilton."

Original here

Zucker defends CNBC, Jim Cramer

NBC Universal CEO also discusses Jay Leno, upfront

By Georg Szalai

hr/photos/stylus/75365-zucker_jeff_341.jpg

NEW YORK -- "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart's recent criticism of CNBC, host Jim Cramer and the business media was "absurd" and "completely out of line," NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said here Wednesday.

"I thought it was incredibly unfair to CNBC and the business media in general," he said in a keynote appearance that opened the 2009 Media Summit New York, organized by the McGraw-Hill Cos. and produced by Digital Hollywood. (Later in the day, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman defended Stewart.)

Arguing that people can't blame what happened on the business media, Zucker particularly defended CNBC as having done a "tremendous job." Asked if Cramer would be able to go on the "Daily Show" again, Zucker said that would be up to Cramer.

He also defended the "Mad Money" host's past calls, at least in a couple of key cases. "Jim Cramer was out in front," once with a rant against the Fed and once when he said on "Today" six months ago that people should focus on cash, Zucker said.

The NBC Universal CEO said that while historically, CNBC's ratings have been up when markets do well, "that is absolutely not the case this time."

He suggested that was due to the appetite for news and people's need to understand the financial crisis and its aftermath. "This is not a down market," but a complete change to the traditional finance system, Zucker said.

Asked about Jay Leno's future on NBC in the 10 p.m. slot, Zucker said "this is a way to change the (business) model" of the broadcast network and keep Leno, even if it won't bring in the kind of viewership of original primetime dramas. "This is not a ratings play," Zucker admitted. Showbusiness means that the show and the business must be in focus, although the latter has become much more difficult, he said.

Zucker rejected the notion, though, that NBC is admitting defeat by not programming the 10 p.m. slot beyond Leno. "It's a proactive, exciting attempt to change the model."

Overall, Zucker said that the broadcast industry must be going through the same questions as all traditional media in the digital age. Newspapers and Detroit automakers didn't ask questions fast enough in a changing world.

"We need to be honest about the change that is going on in broadcasting," he said, highlighting that the Internet has changed primetime TV and video viewing overall. "We have to think about the model."

Zucker argued NBC's recent years of primetime weakness may help it see things more realistically and clearly than others.

If executives don't learn how young people consume media and entertainment in the digital age, "we will go extinct, and we will become the Rocky Mountain News," Zucker said in reference to one of the recent newspaper closings.

What media and entertainment firms lose in analog money is "not even close" to being made up by digital money, Zucker also told the Media Summit.

"We're to digital dimes now," he said, though, updating his famous assertion that media has exchanged analog dollars into digital pennies. "We have made progress," but he said he isn't sure if analog dollars will ultimately ever translate into digital dollars.

Zucker also predicted a slow-moving upfront, with broadcast networks likely to sell less inventory. But the cable networks upfront will be strong, "particularly for us," he said.

Asked if online joint venture Hulu.com can make money, Zucker said yes. While he didn't discuss finances in details, he said "it's well ahead of time" and will be a key contributor over the coming years.

Does Zucker plan for a possible future decision by NBC Uni parent GE to sell the entertainment arm? "I hope we will be there for a long time," even though "nothing lasts forever," he told the Media Summit, adding that sales rumors have quieted down after two solid years at NBC Uni. And he lauded GE for letting NBC Uni benefit "greatly" from its resources and famous discipline.

Asked about his boss GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, Zucker said he has been "unbelievably supportive" and he leaves programming decisions to the NBC Uni team.

Discussing MSNBC, Zucker lauded the network's "incredibly strong voices and programs." It could add one more program to its primetime lineup, "which we are actively looking at," he said.

Asked if the news network's opinion-oriented offerings in primetime could pose potential problems, Zucker said: "We're completely comfortable with that." He pointed out that importantly, for example, NBC News has a more dominant position now than it has had in the past. So, the MSNBC anchors' opining doesn't hurt the appeal of the overall NBC news organization, he argued.

Zucker defends CNBC, Jim Cramer

NBC Universal CEO also discusses Jay Leno, upfront

By Georg Szalai

March 18, 2009, 10:38 AM ET

NEW YORK -- "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart's recent criticism of CNBC, host Jim Cramer and the business media was "absurd" and "completely out of line," NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker said here Wednesday.

"I thought it was incredibly unfair to CNBC and the business media in general," he said in a keynote appearance that opened the 2009 Media Summit New York, organized by the McGraw-Hill Cos. and produced by Digital Hollywood. (Later in the day, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman defended Stewart.)

Arguing that people can't blame what happened on the business media, Zucker particularly defended CNBC as having done a "tremendous job." Asked if Cramer would be able to go on the "Daily Show" again, Zucker said that would be up to Cramer.

He also defended the "Mad Money" host's past calls, at least in a couple of key cases. "Jim Cramer was out in front," once with a rant against the Fed and once when he said on "Today" six months ago that people should focus on cash, Zucker said.

The NBC Universal CEO said that while historically, CNBC's ratings have been up when markets do well, "that is absolutely not the case this time."

He suggested that was due to the appetite for news and people's need to understand the financial crisis and its aftermath. "This is not a down market," but a complete change to the traditional finance system, Zucker said.

Asked about Jay Leno's future on NBC in the 10 p.m. slot, Zucker said "this is a way to change the (business) model" of the broadcast network and keep Leno, even if it won't bring in the kind of viewership of original primetime dramas. "This is not a ratings play," Zucker admitted. Showbusiness means that the show and the business must be in focus, although the latter has become much more difficult, he said.

Zucker rejected the notion, though, that NBC is admitting defeat by not programming the 10 p.m. slot beyond Leno. "It's a proactive, exciting attempt to change the model."

Overall, Zucker said that the broadcast industry must be going through the same questions as all traditional media in the digital age. Newspapers and Detroit automakers didn't ask questions fast enough in a changing world.

"We need to be honest about the change that is going on in broadcasting," he said, highlighting that the Internet has changed primetime TV and video viewing overall. "We have to think about the model."

Zucker argued NBC's recent years of primetime weakness may help it see things more realistically and clearly than others.

If executives don't learn how young people consume media and entertainment in the digital age, "we will go extinct, and we will become the Rocky Mountain News," Zucker said in reference to one of the recent newspaper closings.

What media and entertainment firms lose in analog money is "not even close" to being made up by digital money, Zucker also told the Media Summit.

"We're to digital dimes now," he said, though, updating his famous assertion that media has exchanged analog dollars into digital pennies. "We have made progress," but he said he isn't sure if analog dollars will ultimately ever translate into digital dollars.

Zucker also predicted a slow-moving upfront, with broadcast networks likely to sell less inventory. But the cable networks upfront will be strong, "particularly for us," he said.

Asked if online joint venture Hulu.com can make money, Zucker said yes. While he didn't discuss finances in details, he said "it's well ahead of time" and will be a key contributor over the coming years.

Does Zucker plan for a possible future decision by NBC Uni parent GE to sell the entertainment arm? "I hope we will be there for a long time," even though "nothing lasts forever," he told the Media Summit, adding that sales rumors have quieted down after two solid years at NBC Uni. And he lauded GE for letting NBC Uni benefit "greatly" from its resources and famous discipline.

Asked about his boss GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, Zucker said he has been "unbelievably supportive" and he leaves programming decisions to the NBC Uni team.

Discussing MSNBC, Zucker lauded the network's "incredibly strong voices and programs." It could add one more program to its primetime lineup, "which we are actively looking at," he said.

Asked if the news network's opinion-oriented offerings in primetime could pose potential problems, Zucker said: "We're completely comfortable with that." He pointed out that importantly, for example, NBC News has a more dominant position now than it has had in the past. So, the MSNBC anchors' opining doesn't hurt the appeal of the overall NBC news organization, he argued.

Original here

SCI FI Channel to become Syfy; “Imagine Greater” is new message

SCI FI Channel to become Syfy; “Imagine Greater” is new message

Building on 16 years of water-cooler programming and soaring ratings growth following its most-watched year ever, SCI FI Channel is evolving into Syfy, beginning this summer, Dave Howe, president, SCI FI, announced today.

By changing the name to Syfy, which remains phonetically identical, the new brand broadens perceptions and embraces a wider range of current and future imagination-based entertainment beyond just the traditional sci-fi genre, including fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure. It also positions the brand for future growth by creating an ownable trademark that can travel easily with consumers across new media and nonlinear digital platforms, new international channels and extend into new business ventures.

"Imagine Greater" will become the new brand message and tagline, inviting both consumers and advertisers into a new era of unlimited imagination, exceptional experiences and greater entertainment.

Syfy more clearly captures the mainstream appeal of the world's biggest entertainment category, and reflects the network's ongoing strategy to create programming that's more accessible and relatable to new audiences. Syfy will continue to celebrate the traditional roots of the genre, while opening the brand to accommodate a broader range of imagination-based entertainment.

"Without abandoning our legacy or our core audience, we needed to cultivate a distinct point of view with a name that we could own that invites more people in and recognizes our broader range of programming with literally something for everyone," Howe said in a statement. "Syfy allows us to build on our 16-year heritage of success with a new brand built on the power that fuels our genre: the imagination. Syfy ushers in a new era of unlimited imagination, exceptional experiences and greater entertainment that paves the way for us to truly become a global lifestyle brand."

Syfy—unlike the generic entertainment category "sci-fi"—firmly establishes a uniquely ownable trademark that is portable across all nonlinear digital platforms and beyond, from Hulu to iTunes. Syfy also creates an umbrella brand name that can extend into new adjacent businesses under the Syfy Ventures banner, including Syfy Games, Syfy Films and Syfy Kids.

Additionally, as the channel's footprint expands rapidly around the globe with the launch of more international channels, Syfy meets the need of a globally relevant, trademarkable brand that stands for something unique to the brand in each territory.

The new brand evolution will launch in July, in tandem with the premiere of the new scripted drama Warehouse 13 on air and at SCIFI.COM, backed by an aggressive marketing campaign, which will kick off this spring.

(SCI FI Wire's name will not change as a result of this new branding.)

Original here

"Family Guy" wins court battle over song

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Creators of the U.S. television show "Family Guy" did not infringe copyright when they transformed the song "When You Wish Upon a Star" for comical use in an episode, a U.S. judge ruled on Monday.

Music Publisher Bourne Co., the U.S. copyright owner of the song made famous in Walt Disney's "Pinocchio," sued Fox Broadcasting Co., creator Seth MacFarlane and producers in October 2007 for copyright breach.

The lawsuit said the song "I Need a Jew," featured in one of the animated show's episodes, was a thinly veiled copy of the music from 'When You Wish Upon a Star' coupled with "new anti-Semitic lyrics" and had done damage to the original.

But U.S. District Judge Deborah Batts ruled that the lyrics and tone of the song used in "Family Guy" were "strikingly different."

The judge also said it was fair for it to be imitated for humorous effect since the music publisher had benefited from the song's association with other more "wholesome" shows like "Pinocchio."

"It is precisely that beneficial association that opens the song up for ridicule by parodists seeking to take the wind out of such lofty, magical, or pure associations," she said.

The song, by composer Leigh Harline and lyricist Ned Washington, was introduced in 1940 in the movie "Pinocchio" and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song that same year. It has been recorded by more than 100 artists and orchestras.

Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, initially did not distribute the controversial "Family Guy" episode in recognition of how offensive it was, the suit claimed.

It was eventually broadcast on the Cartoon Network in 2003 and has run at least 36 times in syndication and reruns.

Bourne Co. did not return a call seeking comment.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Daniel Trotta and Paul Simao)

Original here

Trent Reznor Explains Scalping Controversy

By Stephen Chilton in Up On Sun

TRENT.jpg
Last week I told you about a story in the Wall Street Journal about Artist approved scalping. Well over the weekend Trent Reznor of NIN posted in the NIN forum on his website a long explanation of the current situation from the perspective of some one in the middle of it. His explanation is brilliant, straight forward, to the point and nails the complexity of the problem in a way only he could.

"Now we get into the issue of secondary markets for tickets, which is the hot issue here. The ticketing marketplace for rock concerts shows a real lack of sophistication, meaning this: the true market value of some tickets for some concerts is much higher than what the act wants to be perceived as charging. For example, there are some people who would be willing to pay $1,000 and up to be in the best seats for various shows, but MOST acts in the rock / pop world don't want to come off as greedy pricks asking that much, even though the market says its value is that high. The acts know this, the venue knows this, the promoters know this, the ticketing company knows this and the scalpers really know this. So... " - Trent
This sums up the whole problem as simply as can be explained. later in the post Trent explains the stance NIN has taken on this issue.

"NIN gets 10% of the available seats for our own pre-sale. We won a tough (and I mean TOUGH) battle to get the best seats. We require you to sign up at our site (for free) to get tickets. We limit the amount you can buy, we print your name on the tickets and we have our own person let you in a separate entrance where we check your ID to match the ticket. We charge you a surcharge that has been less than TicketMaster's or Live Nation's in all cases so far to pay for the costs of doing this - it's not a profit center for us. We have essentially stopped scalping by doing these things - because we want true fans to be able to get great seats and not get ripped off by these parasites.

I assure you nobody in the NIN camp supplies or supports the practice of supplying tickets to these re-sellers because it's not something we morally feel is the right thing to do. We are leaving money on the table here but it's not always about money. Being completely honest, it IS something I've had to consider. If people are willing to pay a lot of money to sit up front AND ARE GOING TO ANYWAY thanks to the rigged system, why let that money go into the hands of the scalpers? I'm the one busting my ass up there every night. The conclusion really came down to it not feeling like the right thing to do - simple as that." - Trent (emphasis mine not Trents)

It is understandable why other artist are not explaining to their fans how this works if they have decided to embrace this new scalping system, like the acts we mentioned before, it can be hard to come out and say that to the people who will never be able to buy the good seats. But there should be more transparency in the system. More acts should be honest like Trent with their fans.

It is also noteworthy that Trent didn't issue this explanation through the press, through a publicist, he gave it straight to the fans on the bands own message board where all the fans could see it and comment on it directly. (As always we at Up On The Sun would love to hear your comments as well).

Original here

7 Musicians Who Need a Hug

7musicianshug

A month ago, we caused a bit of an uproar with a piece that had us doling out punches to musicians that we felt deserved them [8 Musicians Who Need a Punch in the Face] and we sort of felt bad (for a second or two, that is). This time around, we just want to spread some love, so we’ve come up with our choices for the musicians we’d most like to share a hug with.

A few weeks back, during a recent Radio Exile huge chain email, we started kicking around the idea of creating a new list and having our active staff members contribute one artist that they were interested in hugging. They weren’t told if it was a nice hug, a friendly hug, a “sexy time” hug - there were no restrictions, just hugs. And once again, this list had to be extended to 7 when one of the writers desperately wanted to hug a set of twins.

Without further ado, I would like you to introduce you to 7 Musicians Who Need a Hug.

chriscarrabba
chriscarrabba-1

Do you have that friend that speaks it terrible cliches each time he goes through a breakup? Maybe you got a glimpse of his terrible poetry on his blog or scribbled on some napkins next to a bottle of Zima in his bedroom? Well, this friend is Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional [MySpace]. Does Chris really want to be “anywhere, with anyone, making out”? Does he realize that he could mean with me, making out with me? The first time you hear the never ending strings of cliches Modge Podge’d together with the tears of a 15 year old girl who was just dumped by Facebook status message, it’s kinda cute. They’re kinda clever, but the more you listen, the more you’ll wonder if this guy exists a reality besides the one of a 33 year old shut-in where every girl broke his heart. If you were ever wondering who the phrase “Hug it out, bitch” was written for, it’s Chris Carrabba. – Rob Blatt

Watch more MTVM videos on AOL Video


morrisseyhug
Morrissey

I’m not a Smiths fan by any stretch of the word. In fact, I pretty much despise most of the music Morrissey [MySpace] and company wrote. Considering his style is so slit-your-wrist dismal, it’s amazing so many are in love. So sad. For this reason, the Moz needs the biggest of all hugs, someone to tell him that everything will be okay; and to stop being a bitch. Lighten up, dude. – Elie Z. Perler


Morrissey - “Something is Squeezing My Skull” (Live on Jimmy Kimmel)

jeffmangumhug
mangum_b

I want to hug Jeff Mangum, the reclusive genius behind Neutral Milk Hotel [Official Site] who disappeared after the release of his masterpiece, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (until making an appearance at a Pinkberry, that is). Jeff needs a hug. He couldn’t take the intense passion Aeroplane inspired in his fans so he split. Disappeared. Went all Kerouac on us. But it’s okay Jeff. We still love you. Even if you never give us another song, we love you. And us uber fan boys, we’re not all that bad. Sure, we’re passionate about your music but we’re not going to go all Mark David Chapman on you. So I want to hug you and let you know that we, your fans, we’re all right. We’re nice people. All we want to do is just hug you. So come back into the public and hang out with us. We can all hug it out.

I also have a second, ulterior motive for hugging Jeff Mangum. Like the biblical begger who believe that she would be healed just by touching Jesus’ robe, to hug than man who created Aeroplane would undoubtedly convey to me the genius that resides in the man, forever setting me on the narrow path of musical brilliance. So come on Jeff/Jesus, can I just touch your robe? Please?

On second thought, maybe this is why Jeff Mangum doesn’t appear in public anymore. – Tom Williams


“In the Aeroplane Over The Sea” (Live)

charliefinkhug
charlie-fink-noah-whale

Ever since the first time I heard “5 Years Time,” I’ve wanted to give Charlie Fink of Noah and the Whale [MySpace] a nice big squish. It may not be the whistling of PB&J’s “Young Folks,” but this song is ridiculously catchy and should be everywhere by now. And it’s definitely not your parent’s folk music.


Charlie delivers each Noah song sweetly in his occasional off-key, warbling voice. I adore his imagination and hypothetical, completely relatable lyrics. Rather than conveying a screaming infidelic Dashboard Confessional “pleeease hug me!” the band has more of a shoving your feet awkwardly into the pavement, lower lip biting “can I have a hug?” vibe. Sign me up.

But let’s get to the juice of the matter - why Charlie Fink would want a hug from me. Well, the obvious would be “Why not?” (has anyone ever passed up a hug?) But in the rare instance where that didn’t work, I could try using his lyrics against him, saying, “if you give a little love, you can get a little love,” or reasoning with him that a hug could help solve his problem of maybe needing “a new cologne.” I would also assure him of the following:

Assurance # 1: I will not ask him the story behind “Second Lover,” even though it’s the song that really makes me want to cuddle him up. Evidence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgY-DhlhkfE

Assurance # 2: I will not morph into groupie-chick and gush all over him… or pick lint off his apparel.

Assurance # 3: I will not morph into indie-chick and start talking really fast about how his songs have totally influenced my life, mahhn, and like are totally relevant in today’s turbulent society

Assurance # 4: Upon hugging, I will not start quoting David Lynch movies (ie. “BABY WANTS BLUE VELVET!”), even though the band likes Lynch, because that would just be creepy.

Assurance # 5: Post hug, I may or may not ask him if he could go for a bowl of mac and cheese. I feel like he could be all about this.

Reasonable, yes? Just a thank you hug for being so awesome.

Oh, and for the record, my wanting to hug Fink has nothing to do with his uncanny resemblance to my favorite character from the O.C., Adam Brody. Promise. - Holly Perry

rihannahug

EXCLUSIVE: Radiohead Accuses Miley Cyrus of "Entitlement" After Insult


From left: John Shearer/WireImage.com; Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

A war of words has erupted between Miley Cyrus and her former rock Gods Radiohead.

The argument started when Miley tried to use her clout to meet her heroes backstage at the Grammys. The notoriously shy band refused.

See photos of Miley's biggest celeb fans.

Miley then blasted the group on a syndicated radio show as “Stinkin’ Radiohead!” and said, “I’m gonna ruin them, I’m gonna tell everyone.”

But the band aren’t taking the insult lying down.

A spokesperson for the band responds on their behalf, “When Miley grows up, she’ll learn not to have a sense of entitlement.”

Look back at Miley's biggest scandals.

Miley says the Radiohead dis was a huge disappointment to her, “I was so upset.”

But Coldplay exceeded her expectations. “Coldplay was so nice. Chris Martin hung out with me the whole time,” she gloated.

Original here


Edge Wise: Zack Snyder, Yea or Meh?

by Phil Pirrello

Opinions are like excuses and pogs, everybody has them. In a pop-culture where trends are currency, and remakes, sequels and prequels are, well, also currency, it might be difficult for IGN's readers to get a word in edge-wise. IGN Stars' Edge Wise makes those opinions easier to be said and heard. Stars' new column will editorialize on the state of pop-culture, and what – and how – it affects you. Remember, this is a column for you, the reader, so if you have a topic you would like to see us tackle, send it in!

He did better than expected with Dawn of the Dead. He took ancient combat and excessive ab shots to new levels in 300. And now, Zack Snyder tries to make fans happy and prove naysayers wrong with his much-anticipated, please-don't-suck adaptation of Watchmen. But is the director any good, or just another student of the Michael Bay school of making things shiny?

This week's Edge Wise tackles a director who seems to be as hot as Christopher Nolan in certain circles, a director who may have to give back a lot of his recent geek cred, depending on how the masses react to Dr. Manhattan and company's story. But is the guy just hype? A fanboy who got lucky and confuses storytelling with making things look cool? Edge Wise asks:

- Warner Bros.
"One small step for man, one giant leap for geek kind."
Is the Watchmen director overrated?


Full disclosure: I have read Watchmen. And I have seen the film adaptation. Reviews are for IGN Movies, but I will say that fans and typical moviegoers will be, divided, to say the least. But like most Hall H attendees last year, I, too was impressed with Zack Snyder's presentation; with his take on the unfilmable. After all, the guy has made a career telling the stories of those that told them before. 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake delivered more than expected, and showed that Snyder had a knack for juggling genre and some character development.

300, while pretty to look at, didn't do anything other than show us that yep, one can slow down an action scene, and then speed it up, ad nauseum, for fanboy effect. Regardless, Zack Snyder became the cool director, a guy who seemed to effortlessly please the toughest audience of all: Us. He took that trust, that geek street cred, into his latest film. and in doing so seems to prove that he is quite confident in working on telling someone else's original material, with more loyalty to translating panels to the screen than applying his own personality signature outside of overdone stylistic choices.

- Warner Bros.
Snyder directs Tricky Dick.
Does Snyder have it in him to tell an original story, just as good - or at the very least, just as compelling - as those of the films he has remade or adapted? If the story Movies recently ran regarding Snyder's next film is any indication, then all signs might point to "shoulder shrug".

Here's the thing: The word visionary has been thrown around a lot in Snyder's direction, in all of the Watchmen ads. That's fine, but just because a guy can shoot around green screen well and slave faithfully to source material that should be adapted freely (with respect to the whole, with respect to the fundamentals fans love), doesn't mean he is a visionary. The visual aspect is only a part of that title. Would we call Bay a visionary? Or McG?

I don't believe Zack Snyder is without talent, or that he is not a good artist. But his forte seems to be in enhanced mimicry of sorts; he has let to prove himself as a personal, individual filmmaker. He has yet to earn the title fans would readily apply to Nolan, Spielberg or Scorsese. I do believe that we have yet to see his full potential, as a wholly original storyteller. And come the release of Watchmen, we may see just how good of a visionary adapter he really is.

- Warner Bros.
No witty caption here. This still is just badass.
Is he overrated? Maybe... Is he capable of telling an original story, worth being both told and seen? Fans hope so.

Original here

Watchmen: How It Could Have Been A Lot Worse


By: Chris Bucholz

So I got around to seeing Watchmen this weekend. I don’t think I have any particular insights that you haven’t read elsewhere–I was pleased to see that they didn’t dumb down the plot too much, although I still found the whole movie somewhat sterile and unconvincing. In particular the acting was woefully uneven, rendering many of the critical characters unbelievable. The Silk Spectre in particular felt incredibly flat, except for the bosoms, which–if I recall correctly–weren’t.

I mean it wasn’t a disaster, but there’s honestly not much to recommend about it. I wasn’t exactly surprised by this either–there was no reason to suspect a novel as dense as the Watchmen would ever make a satisfying film that clocked in under four hours. Either the plot would be changed entirely, or the character development would get cut down, or the brilliant parallels and contrasts would be lost. And it’s not just me, some wild-eyed nutcake, who thought this would be the case. The original wild-eyed nutcake, Alan Moore, himself once said, “I didn’t design [Watchmen] to show off the similarities between cinema and comics, [...] It was designed to show off the things that comics could do that cinema and literature couldn’t.”

And when you think about it like that, the fact that Hollywood made a Watchman movie and it came out actually recognizable as the Watchmen is pretty amazing. Considering the sort of turd burritos that often come out of Hollywood, this could have been worse. Like thus, perhaps:

__

INT. DAN DREIBURG’S APARTMENT - NIGHT

RORSCHACH is sitting at the kitchen table, eating BEANS. DAN enters, turning on the kitchen light.

RORSCHACH:
Hello Daniel. Helped myself to some beans. Hope you don’t mind.

DAN:
Not at all. What brings you here?

RORSCHACH:
The Comedian’s dead.

RORSCHACH flicks the blood stained button onto the table. Daniel examines it.

DAN:
You don’t think…

RORSCHACH:
That’s right Daniel. The Russians. The Crimson Discharge are on the move. We’ve got to get the team back together.

DAN punches the wall.

DAN:
All right. Let’s saddle up.

__

EXT. ROCKEFELLER MILITARY RESEARCH CENTER - NIGHT

A dark and rainy night. RORSCHACH breaks in to visit his old friends.

INT. ROCKEFELLER MILITARY RESEARCH CENTER - NIGHT

A brightly lit research laboratory. Large machines do science in the background. Rorschach walks around a corner.

DR. MANHATTAN:
Hello, Rorschach.

RORSCHACH looks up to see DR. MANHATTAN, two stories tall, wearing nothing but a towel.

manhattan-towel

__

INT. WATCHMAN HEADQUARTERS - NIGHT

A parlor with enormous padded chairs gathered around a large easel. SILK SPECTRE II, NITE OWL II, RORSCHACH, OZYMANDIAS, DR. MANHATTAN and CHESTER are there.

OZYMANDIAS gestures at the easel, looking pensive.

OZYMANDIAS:
We’ll split up into two groups. Doc, you and Laurie will fly into Afghanistan and fight the Russians there. Myself, Nite Owl and Rorschach will search for clues in the sewers of Paris.

CHESTER:
What about me? You can’t leave me behind again!

NITE OWL II:
You’re too young Chester. This isn’t kid’s stuff.

CHESTER:
But I’m not a kid any more.

CHESTER runs at a wall, getting two full paces up it before doing a back flip. He lands on his feet, and makes a complicated movement with his arms that looks martial artsy. OZYMANDIAS watches, stroking his chin.

OZYMANDIAS:
We could use the help…

DR. MANHATTAN:
Agreed. Chester will make a fine addition to our force.

DR. MANHATTAN wiggles his nose. A costume appears on CHESTER. He is now TEEN NITE OWL.

TEEN SILK SPECTRE enters and sees TEEN NITE OWL.

TEEN SILK SPECTRE:
Congratulations little brother!

SILK SPECTRE II glares at DR. MANHATTAN, who is staring at TEEN SILK SPECTRE. An erection is clearly visible in the loose gym shorts he’s wearing.

__

EXT. MOLOCH’S APARTMENT - NIGHT

RORSCHACH comes crashing through the second story window of MOLOCH’s apartment. He is immediately set upon by half a dozen police officers, who manage to take him to the ground after an intense struggle. They tear off the mask, to reveal GARY COLEMAN’s face, straining with anger.
__

crimson-cyborgEXT. BUSY FREEWAY - DAY

SILK SPECTRE II lands atop the moving tractor trailer with balletic grace. Behind her, DRAGO flexes his muscles. They fight, a hyperkinetic ballet of devastating punches and barely parried kicks.

CUT TO - NITE OWL II, flying ARCHIE along the highway, zooming along beneath overpasses, rubbing cars out of the way. Two bright red CYBORGS trail behind him on motorcycles, scattering bullets wildly at him.

NITE OWL II:
Time to turn and burn baby.

NITE OWL II flips the control stick, sending ARCHIE into a reverse 180. ARCHIE flies backwards, colliding with cars left and right. NITE OWL II selects missiles on his control stick and fires. Thirty missiles come arcing out of ARCHIE’s vents, contrails trailing behind them. A cataclysm of explosions obliterate the two CYBORGS.

NITE OWL II:
Lock and load baby!

SILK SPECTRE II and DRAGO continue their fight. SILK SPECTRE II barely ducks an oncoming overpass, and is thrown off balance. DRAGO knocks her to the floor with a fierce punch. She lies winded, as DRAGO advances on her, murder in his eyes. Suddenly DRAGO is cut in two by a burst of machine gun fire from ARCHIE.

NITE OWL II:
Show me the beef baby!

SILK SPECTRE II springs to her feet, and runs to the back of the truck, where the KEYMAKER lies cowering. She scoops him up and jumps to the roof of ARCHIE. The tractor trailer explodes behind them.

__

INT. KARNAK, OZYMANDIAS’S SECRET LAIR - DAY (Everything looks very TECHNO-EGYPTIANY, but not in a Stargate way.)

NITE OWL II:
You’re a goddamned traitor, Veidt! I can’t believe the master of capitalism seeks to destroy it for his red masters. Well, we won’t let you get away with it.

OZYMANDIAS:
Oh really Dan? What are you going to do about it? Did you really expect me to explain my masterstroke if there was the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it 35 minutes ago.

RORSCHACH:
Not without this you didn’t!

RORSCHACH holds up the real MANHATTANITE, which he had switched out on OZYMANDIAS during the deal in MIAMI.

OZYMANDIAS:
Nooooooooooooooo!

__

INT. KARNAK - MAIN HALL - DAY

The two opposing forces square off across the room, the WATCHMEN on the right, the CRIMSON DISCHARGE on the left. At an unspoken signal, they engage in combat with their counterparts.

DR. MANHATTAN grapples with THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION, the pair of them rolling outside where they grow to titanic size, striding across the Antarctic landscape, exchanging helicopter kicks and ion blasts. They lock in a clench, eyes burning. Suddenly THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION breaks his grasp, twisting his opponent around. From behind, he seizes DR. MANHATTAN by his DIAPER, yanking it violently upward. A CRY emits from DR. MANHATTAN’s mouth that splits the heavens. A sick grin spreads across THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION’s face, as he twists the diaper in his cruel hands. Suddenly the diaper rips, freeing DR. MANHATTAN. He falls to the ground and immediately sweeps the leg, sending THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION to a distant galaxy with his mighty blow.

nite-owl-teen-nite-owl
Proposed costume design for Nite Owl II (left) and Teen Nite Owl (right)

__

INT. KARNAK - DAY

NITE OWL II and TEEN NITE OWL chase OZYMANDIAS, the walls of KARNAK crumbling around them. They round a corner only to be confronted by BUBASTIS, the genetically modified lynx. BUBASTIS pounces at the pair, who cartwheel out of the way. Cornered, NITE OWL II reaches into his belt and produces several LINKS OF SAUSAGE which he throws at the cat. They scramble past her while distracted, only to be deafened by the roar of jet exhaust. OZYMANDIAS has climbed into an his PLANE shaped like a HAMMER and SICKLE, which launches down a narrow runway into the Antarctic sky.

TEEN NITE OWL:
He got away!

NITE OWL II:
Sometimes the bad guys get away Chester.

TEEN NITE OWL:
But it’s not fair!

SILK SPECTRE II enters, her costume torn in the appropriate places.

NITE OWL II:
Don’t look so glum Chester. At least we won the battle.

SILK SPECTRE II:
And we got the girl.

NITE OWL II:
Oh hell yeah!

NITE OWL II and SILK SPECTRE II kiss passionately. TEEN NITE OWL looks on, embarrassed. “IN THE END” by LINKIN PARK begins playing as the credits roll.

Original here

Transformers 3 Set

by Jim Vejvoda

Although the studios say it's not an official announcement, Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks have reportedly scheduled a July 1, 2011 release date for Transformers 3.

Variety reports that studio reps "weren't immediately available to confirm whether Michael Bay and stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox are set to return for the third installment in the franchise, which has fast claimed the July 4th holiday as its own."

There's no direct competition yet for that release date, with the Marvel-Paramount release Thor now shifting dates again from June 16, 2011 to May 20, 2011.

The trade adds that no screenwriter has been hired yet to script Transformers 3.



The second installment, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, opens June 24.

Original here

Top 10 worst Irish accents on film

Julia Roberts and Sean Connery may have won Academy Awards, but that does not mean that they can pull off a believable Irish accent on screen. See who else made the list of worst movie attempts at an Irish accent, including two more Oscar winners.

Kanye West faces misdemeanor charges

By Associated Press

Story photo: Kanye West faces misdemeanor chargesRapper Kanye West attends the Metropolitan Opera 125th anniversary gala at Lincoln Center, in New York, on Sunday, March 15, 2009. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Kanye West faces more than just a "Love Lockdown."

Los Angeles city prosecutors have charged the rapper with misdemeanor battery, grand theft and vandalism over the videotaped destruction of a paparazzo's camera.

West was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport days after performing at the MTV Video Music Awards in September. The celebrity gossip site TMZ shot video that showed West breaking the flash of a photographer's camera inside a terminal, and his manager breaking the camera itself and accosting TMZ's videographer.

West faces 2 1/2 years in jail if convicted.

West's lawyer, Blair Berk, declined to comment on the charges being filed.

West's road manager, Dan Crawley, also faces six misdemeanor charges: two counts apiece of battery, vandalism and grand theft. He faces up to five years in jail if convicted.

The charges were filed by the office of outgoing City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office last year also pursued a misdemeanor against Britney Spears over her driver's license. A jury deadlocked in favor of acquitting Spears and the case was dropped.

Delgadillo's office received the case after county prosecutors declined to charge West and Crawley.

West is just one of a number of celebrities who have had run-ins with aggressive paparazzi. Photographers are suing soccer star David Beckham and actor Woody Harrelson over separate scuffles. And two men face felony charges after a fight between photographers and surfers in Malibu; in that incident, the paparazzi were trying to snap images of actor Matthew McConaughey .

West has been known for his brash attitude, but the Sept. 11 incident at LAX was the first instance his temper seemed to turn physical.

He appeared last week on "American Idol," performing his song "Heartless" from his most recent album, "808s & Heartbreak," which also features the song "Love Lockdown."

The winner of multiple Grammys since he rocketed to stardom with his album "The College Dropout," West has become well-known for his temper tantrums, skewering MTV and former President George W. Bush while the cameras rolled.

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