Friday, March 30, 2012

Cinematic Disaster!

Human Centipede III has hit a bump in the road. "Creative differences" once again rear their ugly head(s)...

Various Points Of Interest!

BRUCE: Springsteen enjoys a beer in the middle of singing "Raise Your Hand"...!

PAT DiNIZIO: My pal Pat, lead singer of "The Smithereens," released a very cool solo album a few years ago called "This Is Pat DiNizio." Fuel 2000 has just reissued the commercial CD as a 2cd set with a bunch more tracks, along with the original CD's worth of music. Pat covers his own Smithereens work as well as a panoply of songs ranging from the Beatles' "For No One" to "Wichita Lineman" to the James Bond theme "You Only Live Twice." It's great stuff and now there's more of it! And buy all the Smithereens albums while you're at it -- all great stuff.

DAVID MYHR: ...who was one half of the highly recommended and sadly defunct Swedish power pop outfit "The Merrymakers", has just released a solo CD that captures the Merrymaker's style to a "tee." "Soundshine" is just a great record, 12 glorious upbeat tracks. Available from My copy came autographed and there may be more available, just ask Ray at Koolkat, the best one stop-shopping outlet for power pop fans.

REPRINTS: Between the Marvel/DC "Essentials"/"Showcase" series, reprinting giant wads of comics in 500 page chunks (in B/W), plus their hardcover Masterworks and Archives series, there is an astonishing amount of old comics back in print. Some good, some... "interesting." I was plowing through a Rawhide Kid "Essential" last night and enjoying the great Jack Kirby and Jack Davis art, then a DC "Young Love" Showcase that falls more on the "interesting" scale. It's getting impossible to keep up with everything, but I'm really loving Marvel's Golden Age and "Atlas Age" Masterworks books... and looking forward to Dark Horse's comprehensive reprinting of the old Lev Gleason "Crime And Punishment" books. It's probably killing comic book back issue dealers, but I love the affordability...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Killing A Bunny

Herman Cain's new political action group elevates American political discourse by flinging a (fake) bunny like a skeet target and shooting it to pieces.

The little girl at the end of the spot asks "Any questions?" I have many, starting with "what the hell are they smoking over there" and getting more invasive from there...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

HEMLOCK GROVE: And Now For Something Completely Different

So Mark, you ask, what have you been busy with since wrapping Falling Skies season 2? So, says Mark, it's HEMLOCK GROVE! Here's the official press release:

Only on Netflix: Premier Horror Suspense Director Eli Roth Reanimates the Gothic Novel With "Hemlock Grove"

From the critically-acclaimed novel by Brian McGreevy, "Hemlock Grove" updates classic monster archetypes for a post-industrial America in a tale of alienation, adolescence and murder Episodes begin exclusively on Netflix in early 2013

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., March 21, 2012 -- "Hemlock Grove," a gripping tale of murder, mystery and monsters set in a ravaged Pennsylvania steel town, starring Famke Janssen and Bill Skarsgard and produced by Gaumont International Television, will be available for Netflix members to watch instantly, beginning early in 2013.

"Hemlock Grove" starts with the body of a young girl, mangled and murdered in the shadow of the former Godfrey steel mill. Some suspect an escapee from the White Tower, a biotech facility owned by the former steel magnates. Others believe the killer could be Peter, a 17-year-old Gypsy kid from the wrong side of the tracks, who tells his classmates he's a werewolf. Or it could be Roman (Skarsgard), the arrogant Godfrey scion, whose sister Shelley is disturbingly deformed and whose mother, Olivia (Janssen), the otherworldly beautiful and controlling grand dame of Hemlock Grove.

As the crime goes unsolved and outlandish rumors mount, Peter and Roman decide to find the killer themselves, confronting unspeakable truths about themselves and Hemlock Grove as the mystery unfolds.

"Eli Roth is a master of this genre and Brian McGreevy's brilliant novel gives Roth a world where he can create his magic," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer. "'Hemlock Grove' is a sly blend of J.D. Salinger and Mary Shelley and will appeal to a broad base of fans captivated by these rich characters and stunning visuals."

"I've been waiting for years to dive into television, and Eric Newman and I founded Arcade to do elevated genre projects exactly like 'Hemlock Grove'. Brian McGreevy's novel blew me away, and the material lends itself perfectly to long format storytelling. 'Hemlock Grove' is smart, dark, complex, and at times terrifying," said Eli Roth.

He added: "What's most exciting to me is creating the series for Netflix, which as a feature filmmaker is like telling a story in a new medium. Netflix as a platform is the perfect hybrid of cinema, television, and social networking, with the creative freedom to go as dark as the story needs."

The 13 episode first season of "Hemlock Grove" is Roth's first foray into serialized drama as a director and executive producer. Roth created the Hostel franchise, directing seven major motion pictures, producing 13 and appearing in several hit films, including a stand-out role as Sgt. Donny Donowitz in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds".

Janssen (Olivia Godfrey) is an actress, director and screenwriter who played Dr. Jean Grey in the global blockbuster "X-Men" trilogy and starred alongside Kenneth Branagh and Judy Davis in Woody Allen's "Celebrity". Janssen can soon be seen in "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" alongside Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton and in "Taken 2" with Liam Neeson. Her debut film as a director and screenwriter, "Bringing up Bobby", starring Milla Jovovich, Bill Pullman and Marcia Cross, opens in the United States in October.

Skarsgard (Roman Godfrey) is an up and coming Swedish actor, who will soon be seen alongside Keira Knightley and Jude Law in director Joe Wright's "Anna Karenina." Previously, Skarsgard has played a wide range of roles in Swedish television and independent films, including the critically-acclaimed "Simon of the Oaks" directed by Lisa Ohlin.

"Hemlock Grove" is executive produced and written by McGreevy, author of the FSG Originals novel, and Lee Shipman. Other projects they have in development include the Bram Stoker adaptation "Harker" for Warner Brothers and Appian Way, the King Arthur epic "Pendragon" for New Regency, and "Zorro Reborn" for 20th Century Fox.

Also executive producing are Eric Newman, producer of such films as "The Last Exorcism," "Dawn of the Dead" and "Children of Men," Michael Connolly, co-producer of "How to Train Your Dragon," and Mark Verheiden, co-executive producer of "Battlestar Galactica" and other shows.

"It is an honor to be working with Eli Roth, a director whom I've admired for years, along with Brian McGreevy & Lee Shipman and the team at Netflix on this series," commented Gaumont International Television chief executive officer Katie O'Connell. "Netflix is the perfect platform for this exhilarating reinvention of the gothic mystery story. From day one, our mandate at Gaumont International Television has been to the produce high-quality drama programming for the U.S. and international markets and 'Hemlock Grove' certainly fits the bill."

About Netflix:
With more than 23 million streaming members in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) is the world's leading internet subscription service for enjoying movies and TV programs. For about US$7.99 a month, Netflix members can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV programs streamed over the internet to PCs, Macs and TVs. Among the large and expanding base of devices streaming from Netflix are the Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 consoles; an array of Blu-ray disc players, internet-connected TVs, home theatre systems, digital video recorders and internet video players; Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Apple TV and Google TV. In all, more than 700 devices that stream from Netflix are available. For additional information, visit Follow Netflix on Facebook and Twitter.

About Gaumont International Television:
Gaumont International Television is the newly launched production and distribution studio based in Los Angeles and part of Gaumont, the legendary European-based motion picture studio. Gaumont, formed in 1895, is one of the main European production companies with a film library holding over 900 titles. As an independent studio, Gaumont International Television is producing high-quality drama and comedy television programming for the U.S. and international markets with a number of projects currently in the works, including "Hannibal" for NBC and "Hemlock Grove" for Netflix.

SOURCE Netflix, Inc.

I will post more as we roll along, but suffice to say HEMLOCK GROVE is an amazing project and so far, so good!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dark Shadows

So I just caught a fairly lengthy trailer for the upcoming Tim Burton/Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie. Those who peruse my filmography may know that I wrote and produced a Dark Shadows pilot for Warner Brothers television back in 2004, working with E.R./Southland producer John Wells and series creator Dan Curtis. The pilot had an amazing cast, including Jessica Chastain, Martin Donovan, Blair Brown, Jenna Dewan and many others, but for a variety of unfortunate reasons WB decided not to go ahead with the series.

Even then Dan Curtis, who was in his 70's at the time (and has since passed away) was talking about Johnny Depp's interest in playing Barnabas Collins. Working with Dan on the pilot was quite an experience, one that would require more time to explain than I'm currently willing to invest, but suffice to say that he was a man of... great passion. And I wonder what he would have thought of Burton's clearly comic take on the material. Curtis was very possessive of the franchise (justifiably) with many definitive ideas on how a series should proceed. And I suspect none of those ideas would have involved disco music, a mirror ball gag, 70's music, and comedic moments like Baranbas tooth-brushing his fangs.

That said, I think the new movie looks pretty hilarious, a return to the Burton Beetlejuice era, so I'll be there. But I don't want to be around if there really is an afterlife and Dan C.'s there catching a matinee showing. I'm not sure the universe could take the sundering intensity of his reaction... (Or maybe he'd love it! What do I know?)

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My Woody Allen Moment, Battlestar Edition

...and no, it doesn't involve anything untoward. It's a different kind of Woody Allen moment, the one that involved movie Woody upbraiding a pompous pseudo-intellectual in line for a movie by bringing in Marshall McLuhan to refute some fatuous point.

So, along those lines... a few weeks ago I was very kindly invited to participate in a closing-of-the-exhibit celebration at Seattle's EMP museum. The exhibit was a celebration of Battlestar Galactica, and I mainly wanted to go because I hadn't seen the show yet and the chance to look over the old Vipers and other props was too good to miss. Plus any chance to mingle with the cast and crew is worth the effort.

Anyhow, before me and the other writers David Weddle and Bradley Thompson, director Michael Nankin, composer Bear McCreary and actor Tahmoh (Helo) were introduced to the packed house, I was able to wander the facility in relative anonymity. And while standing at a Cylon exhibit, I overheard the following:

GUY: "You know, the writers just threw darts to pick the final five Cylons..."

To which I turned and replied, "As one of the writers, I beg to disagree."

The look on the fellow's face was kind of priceless. I explained to him that the decision was actually the result of a three day retreat where all the various pros and cons were discussed and debated with considerable passion. No dartboards were injured in the process. So you may disagree with the choice, but the idea that it was some random fit of pique that led to the final decision is WRONG. WRONG WRONG WRONG. And it felt good to say it...

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Jury Duty

No, I'm not on jury duty at the moment, but I did serve a year or so ago and it was an interesting experience. This was brought back by the following blog-post --

-- and a discussion about why people hate serving on juries. I do think there's a little forest for the trees analysis here. Most people don't like serving simply because it's a significant interruption of their regular day, not because of the way they're treated once they arrive.

That said, "my" trial was instructive in many ways. I found the prosecution to be scary-condescending. The trial involved alleged contractor fraud and some of the state's case rested on how much money was involved in the job under discussion. This involved advanced math skills ranging from "addition" to "subtraction" but was presented to the jury like we were recalculating the orbit of the moon. I was also surprised to be one of twelve + two alternate folks on the hook for over three weeks (trial dates were off and on, since the case kept being postponed/pushed) over an issue involving maybe a thousand bucks. Oh, and we acquitted the guy in less than an hour, so maybe the lesson for the State is to pick better battles...

But all that said, I was not turned off by the experience. I like that the defendant had his day in court, and I'm not so hideous selfish that I find the imposition on my time unconscionably onerous... so don't be afraid if called. Embrace the addition and subtraction!