Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Elvis Costello, Juliet Letters and Covers

I've been a fan of Elvis Costello's for too many years, through all his various sound experiments, some good, some not so good. His collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet was one of the most successful of his "outside the box" ventures, in my opinion... an exquisite song cycle that combined the rock intensity of Costello's songwriting and voice with the elegance of a string quartet (!).

Guess I wasn't the only one who enjoyed the effort, because there are a couple of recent CDs "covering" the Juliet Letters album. "The Juliet Letters" with Michelle Murray and David Murray rejiggers the music for solo piano, with Ms. Murray doing her operatic best to croon the tunes. Unfortunately, transposing the music to piano isn't all that interesting, and hearing the song cycle sung "straight" without Costello's growls and intonations sucks a lot of the life out of the piece.

"The Juliet Letters" by Kerry-Anne Kutz and the Abysse Quartet is somewhat more successful, if only because singer Kutz injects a little more fire into the proceedings. But in both cases, the recordings strike me more like interesting curiosities than genuinely successful reinterpretations.

The CD to get is Costello's original. Rhino recently released a remastered, double-disc "Juliet Letters" set from Rhino, which features the entire original song cycle + an entire disc of like-minded extras. I was lucky enough to see Costello and the Brodsky Quartet do the Juliet Letters live, and their hair-raising version of the Beach Boys hit "God Only Knows", previously only available as a promo, is worth the price of the CD by itself.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Battlestar Ratings Are UP

And up significantly, per this report:

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6411697.html

No new show this weekend (it's Super Bowl Sunday, all life as we know it comes to a stand-still), but the Sunday after you'll get "The Woman King", a show that answers the musical question, "hey, is Cottle the ONLY Doctor in the fleet?" And after that, "A Day In The Life", written by yours truly, exploring Admiral Adama's past while, simultaneously, Tyrol and Cally find themselves in a fight for their lives...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Battlestar Guy Wins Slamdance Competition!

Seamus Kevin Fahey, Battlestar Galactica's writer's assistant for the past two years, just won the 2007 Slamdance teleplay competition for his script "Ghost Towns." I don't believe he thanked me personally during his acceptance speech (actually, I don't even know of they WERE acceptance speeches), but I'll let the lapse slide. This time.

Seriously, it couldn't have happened to a nicer or more talented guy. Kevin is also writing a Battlestar Galactica arc for the Dynamite Comics people, so keep your eyes open for that, too. Good work, Kevin!

New MV Interview - Here's A Link

That Comic Book Resources interview with your truly is up, here's the cut and paste link:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/
newsitem.cgi?id=9479#storyContinued

Friday, January 26, 2007

Battlestar Sunday - "Taking A Break From All Your Worries"

Well, good ol' Gaius Baltar is back on Battlestar Galactica, and certain people aren't too happy about it. What did he tell the Cylons, and how far will President Roslin, Admiral Adama and the rest of the crew go to find out? Watch and find out! Remember the new day and time, Sunday night at 10:00 PM on the Sci-Fi channel, and tell your friends for crying out loud!

New Interview With Moi

And I don't mean Jerry Moi, I mean "me." It should appear this Sunday at:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/

Robert Taylor and I discuss Battlestar, comics, My Name Is Bruce and other points of interest. Check it out!

Crowded House Reunion: It's Official!

And their first show is going to be at California's Coachilla Festival. Cut and paste the Los Angeles Times link below for the full update.

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/music/
la-et-crowded25jan26,1,5120175.story?coll=la-entnews-music

Gotta say, this is great news for fans of Neil Finn and C.H. According to Finn, it was drummer Paul Hester's suicide that galvanized the reunion, along with his desire to be in a band again. Some will ascribe cynical motivations to this reunion, but screw 'em! I'm looking forward to some live shows and maybe some more great authorizied fan club releases!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Movies I Have Seen More Than 10x - My Cousin Vinny

I still haven't seen BABEL or LITTLE CHILDREN (and they were sent to me for free, thank you awards season!), but MY COUSIN VINNY make it's umpteenth appearance on cable and suddenly I'm glued to the tube. You probably know the VINNY story (and if you don't, set the TiVo or buy the unfortunately Spartan DVD), but, to recap: when two New York kids are arrested for murder in Alabama (we know they didn't do it), one of them turns to his lawyer-cousin Vinny for legal assistance. Unfortunately, the murder case is Vinny's very first trial, his courtroom manner is less than optimum, and the prosecutor and Sheriff seem to have built a rock solid case.

Comedy is always tough, mainly because one man's funny is another man's stone faced silence. (Adam Sandler in WATERBOY, anyone?) VINNY isn't packed with belly laughs, but it is a warm, upbeat and clever story with some surprising actors (Joe "Do you think I'm funny?" Pesci?!) doing some of the best work of their careers.

And Pesci really is the core of the movie. His "Vinny" isn't as flashy as the thugs he played in GOODFELLAS or CASINO, but Pesci brings something rare and quite wonderful to this movie: a genuine sweetness. He's playing a semi-tough New Yorker, which suggests the usual slough of witless "big city guy makes fun of the Alabama hicks" story, but VINNY takes an equal opportunity approach toward the comedy. For every joke at the expense of the locals, there is another at the expense of Vinny and his fiance, played by Marisa Tomei (who won an Oscar for this performance!). Just when things could get nasty, the movie plays it "nice." When Vinny is dismantling an elderly woman's ocularly-challenged testimony during cross-examination, it's not some ribald burst of character assassination, but a gentle, even tender moment. The woman is just wrong, and Vinny lets her know that without taking away her dignity.

And in the end, it's a movie about everyone trying to do the right thing. The grumpy Alabama Judge (Fred Gwynne) isn't crooked, he's looking for justice, but he's a stickler for protocol. Even the Sheriff (Bruce TIMECOP McGill!) ends up playing a role in exonerating the two unjustly accused kids. Realistic? Unlikely. Fun to see in a movie? Absolutely!

And then there's my favorite moment in the film. When Pesci finally figures out a way to save his cousin and the case is dismissed, there is a hug between Pesci and his cousin (Ralph Macchio) that starts a little comedically, then becomes heartfelt, and I swear, I choke up every time I see it. The hug just isn't about winning the case, but about Vinny's redemption, and both characters know it.

I had an e-mail exchange with VINNY's writer Dale Launer years ago, and I asked him how he came up with the classic "positronic suspension" bit that solves the case. He said he just knew it, after years of messing around with cars. Which goes to the heart of what someone once said about writers: you don't need to be the expert on a specific subject, but it's sure helpful to know a little about a lot.

Anyway, MY COUSIN VINNY. A great movie!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Variety Likes Battlestar!

Brian Lowry at Daily Variety gave the latest BSG episode "Rapture" a nice rave review. The money quote:

"Already lauded with an unusual amount of critical acclaim and industry recognition for a series in the sci-fi genre saddled with such a clunky title, it's nice to see that the "Galactica" crew isn't content to rest on those laurels. And at the risk of mixing space metaphors, whether the jump to Sunday helps the show beam down more viewers, for its loyal core, the series is still one hell of a ride."

That's what I like to see! More, please!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Battlestar Mystery SOLVED

Well, it wasn't much of a mystery, Susan Getgood in the comments section got it right away. The question was, what scene was moved out of "Eye Of Jupiter" into "Rapture." Susan guessed it was the explosive moment between Sharon and Helo, and she's right. The Sharon/Helo scene was the scripted climax to "Jupiter", but in editting things often shift and flow, especially when you're doing a two parter.

Meanwhile, Jkel asks if I have any comment on an article posted at

http://www.mania.com/53381.html

Cut and paste the link for the article, which will in turn send you to the original piece at SyFy Portal, but here are the money quotes from BSG Producer David Weddle: "In the second half of this season, you can expect many stunning surprises and revelations," said Weddle. "We will experience the devastating loss of a much loved character who is central to 'Galactica,' and it will shake the crew to the core."

"I imagine many fans will be outraged and screaming for our heads," continued Weddle. "But others may take comfort in the fact that every time we upset the chessboard and scatter the pieces, it opens the door to many new provocative and exciting stories in the season to come."

My response is, umm, "what he said!" I suspect there will be a lot of teeth gnashing and anguish as the second half of season three progresses, and there is one heck of a cliffhanger ahead, closing out the year... but trust me, none of this stuff is done lightly or casually or without an enormous amount of discussion, debate and deliberation among a whole lot of folks. All I can say is, prepare yourselves... it's gonna be an exciting, emotional and thoroughly unpredicable ride.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Battlestar Galactica - "Rapture"

You've been left dangling long enough after the cliffhanger of "Eye Of Jupiter", now come the answers! Who will live, who will die, and what will be left of them? (That tagline was good enough for the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and it's good enough for Battlestar!) Written by Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, directed by Michael Rymer, it's a good one. Learn the fate of Dr. Baltar, the mystery of the shrine on the algae planet, and prepare yourself for some MAJOR developments among the Cylons.

Remember the new night and time! Sunday, 10:00PM on the Sci-Fi channel!

And here's a brain-teaser for you. One scene in "Rapture" was originally scripted to be the final scene for "Eye Of Jupiter." See if you can guess which scene was moved...

Crowded House Touring!

I realize this blog is becoming all Crowded House, all the time, but word just broke via an Aussie newspaper that Crowded House has not only reformed, they'll be touring this year behind a new record. Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, Mark Hart and a drummer to be identified...

Wow... what next in the entertainment firmament? Maybe a Rockpile reunion? The return of Fickle Pickle?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Battlestar Galactica & A New Interview

I just did an interview with Robert Taylor over at www.cominbookresources.com, which will be up in a week or so. CBR has a pull quote from my chat up this morning, though, that suggests Battlestar's THIRD season may be in jeopardy. That's just a mistake -- we're currently IN the third season, it's done, shot, in the can, with the next new episode debuting THIS SUNDAY NIGHT on the SCI-FI CHANNEL at 10:00 PM.

Since there seems to be some confusion here, let me try to be as clear as possible about what I "know." BSG hasn't been cancelled. We're waiting to see if the show's renewed for season four. There is a very cool BSG "movie" in the works that will be shot if BSG gets picked up for season four. That, I'm afraid, is the sum total of my "intel."

All that said, it sure would be great if lots of folks tuned in this weekend... new day! SUNDAY. New time! 10:00PM! Tell your friends! Tell your enemies!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Smithereens + Beatles = GOOD

One of my all time favorite bands, The Smithereens, have just released "Meet The Smithereens", which covers every track of the Beatles' "Meet The Beatles" album. Even though the arrangements are straight Beatles goodness, the Jersey boys still add their own flavor to the set, and my buddy Pat DiNizio's vocals are as great as ever. They're going to be touring to promote the record, so here's a chance to catch one of the best live bands around. Check out Pat's website (I'll put the url on the side of my blog as soon as I'm done posting this) for dates, details and other intriguing Smithereens news...

Crowded House Redux

I may have spoke/written too soon in my last post re: the chances of a Crowded House reunion. In the new issue of WORD, the British music mag, C.H. frontman Neil Finn says that despite drummer Paul Hester's tragic suicide, he's considering all options and a Crowdie reunion isn't out of the question. (Incidentally, I got my dates wrong, Hester died in 2005, not 2006). I've been loving Finn's solo work and the CDs he's done with his big brother Tim, but mmmm... more Crowded House. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Old Crowded House

The band broke up in 1996, but devoted fans remain, glomming onto every crumb of new (old) material. In this case, it's the first CD release of "Farewell To The World", Crowded House's final concert. A video of the event has been out for awhile (and has been just reissued on DVD), but now there's also this double CD set. All are worthwhile, though since it's a farewell concert, the Crowdie's aren't quite as loose as seen during some other shows.

How do I know? The Crowded House fanclub has privately released dozens of officially sanctioned, soundboard shows over the years, though they are all long out of print and, with press runs in the three figures, impossible to find. (Yes, I have all 40+ of the fan-club CDs).

With the suicide of drummer Paul Hester last year, it's pretty clear that Crowded House won't be coming back, but releases like this are the next best thing. If people support them, perhaps the tap will open a little wider and more archival material will come spilling out...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kevin Bacon-ish

Work long enough in this biz, you find yourself running into the same faces over and over...

When I started working on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, I kept trying to place Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol). After much consternation, I finally just asked him, and remembered that he played a cop in one of my first-season SMALLVILLE episodes, "Obscura."

Then there's Lorena Gale, who played Priestess Elosha in BSG -- until she planted her tootsies on an especially nasty landmine, that is. Lorena played Lex Luthor's shrink for several eps back in my SMALLVILLE days, where she met an equally nasty, albeit off-camera, demise (car wreck, possibly/probably engineered by that magnificent bastard Lionel Luthor).

And there's more! Robert Wisden, who played Chloe Sullivan's father on SMALLVILLE until he got blowed up good, was "Wallace Gray" on a first season BATTLESTAR ep. For once, a BSG player who DIDN'T die (yet).

And don't forget poor Kat Katraine (Luciana Carro), who left this mortal coil in this season's BSG episode "The Passage." L.C. had two guest shots on SMALLVILLE. Even the Chief's squeeze Cally (Nicki Clyne) played a waitress in Lana Lang's cafe back in SMALLVILLE season one.

It's just like ol' Walt Disney said, "it's a small(ville) world after all!"

Sunday, January 14, 2007

24 is BACK

Battlestar Galactica is the best show on television (sorry, gotta call 'em as I see 'em, bias and all!), but 24 is a close second. The new season is off to a rousing start (Jack's back from China! More terrorists are terrorizing!), but like last year, if you really want to savor the 24 experience, you need to get on board pronto. This is not the sort of show you can jump into late in the game... "stand alone episodes" they're not.

I am struggling to avoid online spoilers, so I won't provide any here. But I continue to be impressed/amazed by the production values on this puppy, and the serial-like twists and turns.

PS: Unfortunately, 24 is going up against Heroes, another great show. It's an embarrassment of riches! Thank goodness for TiVo and multiple cable boxes!

David Milch, Deadwood and Foxholes

Far as I'm concerned, DEADWOOD was one of the top ten television shows of all time, a brilliant, profane, dark meditation on the struggle for people to live together in some sort of peace. Creator David Milch has a new show coming up, JOHN FROM CINCINNATI, which is ostensibly about surfing, probably about as much as DEADWOOD was about gold mining. Milch spoke at the TCA's last week and here's a link to a few of the comments...

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/
2007/01/a_graduate_semi.html

Probably the best news in the whole piece was confirmation that the two, two hour DEADWOOD movies promised to wrap up the series are still being developed. In the article, it was noted that some folks were so upset over Milch moving away from DEADWOOD that they intend to boycott the new show, which is classic cutting off nose to spite face behavior. I'll watch ANYTHING Milch deigns to produce...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Battlestar Galactica Has NOT Been Cancelled

Ain't It Cool News has a "rumor" that the show has been cancelled, interesting since I read the rumor at my desk in the BSG offices, after a day of story discussion. Needless to say, the rumor is false. It has not been cancelled. New episodes debuts SUNDAY JANUARY 21 at 10:00 PM, our new day and time. Move along now, there's no story here, just set those TiVos...

Incidentally, Tricia Helfer, who plays the Cylon Number Six, appears on the cover and inside the Feb. 2007 issue of Playboy. It's a much more pleasant piece than the false one about cancellation.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bruce Campbell, New York Times and Old Spice

All you ever want to know about how the Bruce Campbell/Old Spice ad campaign came together:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/08/business/media/
08adcol.html?ex=1325912400&en=98d9399925d3cd54&ei=
5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Until all this hoo-hah came up, I didn't even know they were still making Old Spice. Can Campbell ads for Brylcreem be far behind?

Battlestar Season 3.5 Updates

Nice juicy interview with Ron Moore and David Eick in yesterday's Chicago Tribune. Cut and paste the following for mucho BSG info (some minor spoilers).

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/
entertainment_tv/2007/01/something_profo.html

Also check out the TV section at http://aint-it-cool-news.com for some lively discussion about the upcoming episodes. I'll just say, I know what's coming (I wrote the season finale!) and *I'm* still assimilating the twists and turns. Prepare yourselves!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bruce Campbell + Old Spice on YouTube

Thanks to anonymous in the comment section, here's the url for the Bruce Campbell Old Spice commercial on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af1OxkFOK18

"If you haven't seen it, people will know..."

PS: Please note the CHAINSAW sitting next to the first fireplace in the commercial. What did I tell you?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

David Caruso x A LOT

Caught this link on James Hudnall's blog... seven glorious minutes of David Caruso teaser punchlines from CSI MIAMI. Pull up a chair and enjoy the sunglasses!

http://gorillamask.net/carusocsi.shtml

Welcome Bruce Campbell Fans!

Evidently Mr. Campbell's Old Spice connection has led to a major league spike in hits on my little blog... all you new folks, feel free to check back in for the latest info on Bruce's big movie for 2007, MY NAME IS BRUCE. Directed by and starring Bruce Campbell, written by yours truly! And yes, THERE WILL BE CHAINSAWS.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bruce Campbell and... Old Spice?!

According to Bruce's website, Mr. Ashleigh Williams himself is the new on-camera spokesman for... Old Spice?! Evidently the commercial(s?) are rolling out this weekend, during the CBS football schedule. If anyone actually catches one of these spots, please let me know!

Battlestar Season Three MARATHON

If you missed any of this season's fantastic episodes, weep no more. Sci-Fi Channel is running a marathon on JANUARY 15 and you can catch up on all the intrigue. What happened to Tigh's eye? Why is Galactica on fire? Why is Jammer's life insurance salesman raising his rates? You've got your "Bulldog", your boxing, emotional tumult and blazing outer space action! So set those recorders/TiVos, and get ready for the return on new episodes on our NEW DAY AND TIME, Sunday, January 21st at 10:00 PM!

My Name Is Bruce and Chainsaws

I noticed a thread over at the ever-popular IMDB.com site wondering if Mr. Campbell would be brandishing a chainsaw in the forthcoming epic, MY NAME IS BRUCE. I don't want to get into spoiler territory, but sweet JESUS, did you really think we wouldn't squeeze a chainsaw somewhere in there?! You're not only reading the blog of an true-blue EVIL DEAD fan, but the writer/producer/director (in my college days) of the 16mm student film masterwork, JOHN BOY MEETS THE TEXAS CHAINSAW KILLER. (Yes, I'm serious, much to the dismay of my film professor!)

Truth is, any movie gets better when there's a chainsaw involved. Take STAR WARS. Light sabers? Okay. Chainsaws? Better! Chuck Connors was good as THE RIFLEMAN, but imagine that opening sequense if he were THE CHAINSAWMAN. And I would have been first in line if there had been chainsaws involved in SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS or whatever the hell that thing was called.

So, to answer the question: YES. There will be chainsaw in MNIB!

Friday, January 05, 2007

House Of Freaks & Bryan Harvey

House of Freaks was a great, two man band that released a few criminally under-exposed albums in the late 80's/early 90's. Forgot your White Stripes, these two guys were there first, working up a hellacious yet melodic, bluesey racket. In the early 2000's, Rhino Handmade, Rhino's mailorder-only label, reissued their first two albums ("Monkey On A Chain Gang" and "Tantilla Plus") with tons of live/demo bonus tracks, rekindling interest in their music and whetting my appetite for more raucous live House Of Freaks goodness...

And then singer/guitarist Bryan Harvey, his wife and two children were murdered in their Richmond Virginia home on January 1, 2006. Turned out to be a random act of home invasion robbery (the killer was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death), but the world was deprived of a true original.

In the wake of Harvey's death, friends put together a compilation CD with tracks from six different Harvey bands/performing incarnations, and for folks who want a taste of this guy's talent, it's a great place to start. The CD is in limited "release" and available from www.plan9music.com, and it comes highly recommended. Beware, once you get through the 15 House Of Freaks tracks, you'll be rushing to Rhino Handmade to pick up the two limited edition reissues, still available (last time I checked). Well worth checking out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Superman/Batman #31 Makes The West Coast

Evidently the storms in Denver delayed last week's shipment of Superman/Batman #31 to the West Coast, so hopefully the book will hit the stands on the left hand side of the country today. (In a perverse way, it's nice to have a delay that can be blamed on the weather for once!) New artist Matthew Clark debuts, the mystery shape shifter is revealed to a chorus of "you gotta be kidding me -- it was HIM?!!", and the build to the big-ol' climax continues.

In other news, the big cosmic arc ends with issue #33, and S/B #34 is already in the can (the classic Metal Men are BACK, baby, with art by Pat Lee!) and #'s 35 and 36 are in process, so there will be more S/B goodness and hopefully fewer delays in 2007.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

So it's 2007. Is life easier?

I thought by now we'd be working 30 hour weeks, flying to work in our personal hover cars and living in towering sky-towers. HAH! But I have to admit, the luxury of a 30 hour week thing comes to mind a lot these days. I remember endless experts predicting that techology would free man from his daily grind, but instead the exact opposite has happened. Now we're all expected to produce more, and produce it faster, using our labor-saving gadgets to expedite the process.

One example: before fax machines or the internet, "deadlines" were relatively spongey. If an editor called at 9:00 AM to ask about a script, you could say "it's done!" knowing you had until 5:30 PM to actually write it and catch FedEx. Now, with e-mail, "done" has to mean "done." And since everything can be transmitted electronically, you don't even get the break of jumping in the car and rushing to the Post Office with your last minute package.

There was also a lot of talk about the work at home revolution, the end of the traditional office, etc. Well, a lot of folks DO work at home, but there really is something unique about the comraderie and esprit de corps that comes from gathering and working face to face on a project. Speaking in terms of television, if you luck onto a good writing staff, co-mingling with like-minded scribes can be a lot of fun. (If you happen into a bad situation, the stress can turn you gray in a hurry.)

And nevermind TV... I spent five years doing office work at the Los Angeles Times, and while the work itself was deadly, the people were great. I don't think we're ever going to lose the very human need to interact with one another...

And with that, it's off to work!