Friday, November 30, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 26

No picketing today, and since it's pouring rain in Los Angeles maybe that's a good thing. The blackout on official strike news was finally lifted last night and the news on the negotiating front was not great, but then expectations of a quick resolution were probably unrealistic from the start. Hank Steinberg, creator of WITHOUT A TRACE, sent out an excellent open letter that I've reprinted below. We live in interesting times, indeed!


To my fellow writers,

I'm sure tonight's email from the Writer's Guild was a
tad disheartening, particularly after expectations
were raised this week that we would be close to making
a deal and that the studios were prepared to make
substantial concessions.

I spoke to a member of the Negotiating Committee
tonight to get more enlightened myself as to what the
hell happened: what was the disconnect between the
rumors and expectations and the dismal results of this

The answer, apparently, is that this is precisely the
studios' strategy: raise expectations through
disinformation in the media and elsewhere, get us
feeling comfortable, get us psychologically used to
the idea that the strike will end, and then dash those
hopes. This is essentially what they did on november
4th and they are trying to do it again. That is why
they leaked the news to nicky fink on monday that the
deal was essentially done. If we go soft and get
comfortable, the thinking goes, we'll end up accepting
a shitty deal. Apparently, this strategy has worked
for them in the past but we can't let it work now.

As long as we understand what they are doing and why
they are doing it, we should not be disheartened. The
studios' real mandate is to close this deal by mid to
late december to get the tv season back on track in
january and to save their pilot season. They have no
urgency right at this moment to resolve this. Their
coming back to the table now was part of a p.r.
mislead and was actually meant to raise our hopes,
then thwart them as a means of psychological warfare.
To wear us down. They will, in fact, probably not
negotiate for real until closer to their mid-december
deadline and in the meantime will try to work on our
collective resolve.

So although the idea of picketing for a couple of more
weeks doesn't sound particularly glamorous to any of
us, we're still in good shape to make a fair deal and
we shouldn't allow their tactics to dampen our spirits
or forget what it is we're striking over in the first
place. They need to make a deal, they will make a
deal, they just want to gauge us as much as they can.
I thought it enormously helpful to understand where
they are coming from and hope it will help you too.

The leadership understands that an informed
constituency is a motivated constituency and members
of the leadership and negotiating committee will be
out on the picket lines on monday to elucidate some of
this and to answer questions, but no reason to churn
and stew all weekend til then.

So rest up this weekend and don't despair.

And by all means, feel free to forward this email to
any of our brethren.

We're all in this together!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 25 (early report)

Yes, I'm posting at 5:00AM, if it's Thursday it's time for another early morning of picketing. And coffee... a LOT of coffee...

Odds and ends. First, here's a pretty funny video telling the "AMPTP's" side of the story.

Now, you're probably asking yourself, "Mark, what do you listen to this early to get yourself revved up and ready for duty?" Here is a small list of today's favorite car tunes:

Dexy's Midnight Runners/"BBC Radio One Live", a small label release from 1995, this is a great live show by the Dexy's at their peak.

Robert Gordon/"Reunion 2005." Gordon's manager has released a series of limited edition live shows from throughout Gordon's career, and if you're into rockabilly you'll want every one. Check out for the details...

Squeeze/Extra tracks from 2007 tour. Five live tracks, complimentary to the new live CD, are available for download from Including a nice, 8 minute-plus version of "Black Coffee In Bed", a personal favorite... especially on mornings like this...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 24 + this is post #300 (!)

No weather report or reports of any kind today, since I'm under the weather and trying to recuperate. I suspect my comrades on the Barham gate soldiered on despite my infirmity, and with any luck I'll be back out with them for day #25. Meanwhile, rumors continue to abound about settlements close and yet so far; the scattered reports provide fodder to discuss on the line but otherwise don't mean much.

In other news, this is indeed my 300th posting on this blog. Who could have imagined? If I felt better I'd expound even further, but I'm afraid this is the special "man down! Bring the bloodstopper!" edition of FMVOF. FYI, "Bloodstopper" is nasty medical powder that will be featured in an upcoming season-four episode of BATTLESTAR. Evidently it's something you pour into bad wounds to quickly cauterize the area; i.e., it burns like an S.O.B. This lovely bit courtesy the diabolical medical/military mind of BSG writer/producer Bradley Thompson. Now, whenever someone on staff is feeling sick, the call goes out for "bloodstopper! More bloodstopper!"

Though I don't think it would have much effect on my sore throat, so back off, Bradley!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 23

Another early morning on the picket line. I almost feel like doing a weather report these days, since I'm seeing more of it than usual as I trudge the Barham gate. Enthusiasm continues to be high, rumors continue to fly, and that's about that for strike news. Info gets a little sparse when there's a news blackout on all sides.

On other fronts, the reviews for RAZOR continue to come in and I'm waiting for someone to do the cliche Sally Field riff, "you like us, you really like us!" Fingers remain crossed that the WGA will be able to come to terms with the AMPTP and we can finish BSG as intended, with 20 more episodes for season four.

Monday, November 26, 2007


As in the English rock band, popular in the late 70's and 80's, recently reunited for a tour. Songwriters/singers Difford and Tilbrook have been faves around here since their first album, and so anything unleashed from these folks is welcome indeed.

First up, a new live disc, "Five Live", featuring performances from their 2007 tour. Sound quality is exquisite, performances are great and if you like Squeeze, you're probably already trying to find it. (I got mine from, but I believe Amazon UK also has it on sale).

Next, Tilbrook's releasing the second in a series of five (!) discs of demos. The first bunch, "The Past Has Been Bottled", was from the 80's, the next one is going to be from the early 90's. Don't have this in my greedy paws yet, but if the first release is any indication, it'll be a must-have item.

Finally, and definitely least but what the heck, the entire Squeeze catalog has been reissued in Japan in paper sleeves, as in identical reproductions of the original vinyl LP sleeves. Nothing new about that, there are hundreds of these paper sleeve reissues available for an incredible array of bands (Rubinoos? Rachel Sweet? Raspberries? Check!), but I admire the anal retentiveness of this particular release. The album "Cool For Cats" was original released in five different colored jackets, and the Japanese reissue actually comes with all five sleeves (though just one disc). I guess I just love that someone's actually more obsessive than me when it comes to this stuff!

WGA Strike - Days 20, 21, 22

We're in the middle of day #22, but I've completed my early morning picket duty, and besides, the news of the day is that a settlement is imminent. Or so says Nikke Finke in today's Deadline Hollywood column. Ms. Finke is careful to caveat the report, but she's been pretty good at reading the tea leaves so far, so... I guess we'll see. My idea of a great Christmas present would be a resolution of the strike and, oh, a nice bottle of Hirsch Rye Whiskey. In that order.

We had quite a crowd at this morning's strike line, despite this being week four and some expectation (in "some" quarters) that folks might start peeling off. I don't get that sense at all, in fact, all signs point to the contrary. I'm seeing new faces on the line all the time, and our resolve remains steady.

Boy, it gets cold in the Valley at 6:00AM, but on the other hand there is a beautiful sunrise coming, and NO TRAFFIC (on the way out).

Going back was another story, since I was caught in the middle of a high speed car chase on my way home. Apparently some carjacking lunatic was going 120MPH (!) down the 101 freeway. He passed me, tailed by a caravan of police cars, then evidently took an exit and doubled around, because I saw him backtracking in the opposing lanes a few moments later. I was just mad I couldn't get home and watch it on teevee (talk about a guilty pleasure!), but I guess the lunatic wrecked his car going over some sort of barrier, took off on foot and was grabbed by the cops. A happy ending!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


It's been awhile since I've been able to announce a new episode of BSG, and it's going to be awhile before I can do it again, so...

RAZOR. A double-length slice of BSG history, dealing with the Pegasus, Admiral Cain, young Adama and a significant piece of Cylon history.

I've seen both the television cut and the DVD cut, and it's interesting how the same story plays out slightly differently between the two. The shorter TV version moves a little faster, naturally, and gets you where you want to go. The DVD version, due out Dec. 4, is uncut and unrated and features close to 20 minutes of extra footage, giving the story more scope and featuring scenes with folks unseen in the TV cut, including (for instance) a moment with our good friend Baltar and his ephemeral buddy Number Six.

RAZOR'S also chock full of space battles and combat action, so if you've been pining for that, sit back and enjoy.

It's running Nov. 24 on Sci-Fi Channel and probably multiple times after that, and again the DVD will be available on Dec. 4. Check it out!

Friday, November 23, 2007

WGA Strike - Days 16,17,18,19 + BRUCE CAMPBELL!

I'm spending the week in my hometown of Portland Oregon, usually rainy and cold but this year sunny and REALLY cold. I'm sorry I missed Tuesday's big WGA rally on Hollywood Blvd., which from the photos looked like quite an event, but I'll be back on the picket line bright and early Monday morning.

Most of this trip has been spent with family, but I did spend an afternoon with my friends at Dark Horse Comics and Bruce Campbell, who was up to review some MY NAME IS BRUCE stuff. We discussed everything EXCEPT the BRUCE sequel, since I'm on strike, yes, even against MY NAME IS BRUCE LTD., and can't mull new projects until this mess is resolved. Oh well.

For what it's worth, plans are still afoot to get the first BRUCE epic out in the Summer of 2008. There has been some consternation about how long it's taking to get the picture finished, but welcome to the world of indie filmmaking. Bruce likes to say indie films aren't released, they escape, and that's pretty much the story here.

I did take another look at the soon to be released EVIL DEAD comic pages, and once again I was dazzled by John Bolton's amazing art. This book is finished, done, complete, ready to go, so there will be no delays or late issues... a miracle!

Monday, November 19, 2007

WGA Strike - Days 13, 14 & 15

I can post at 6:00AM on day 15 because I'm away from my picketing post as well as the State of California, dealing with family business and medical emergencies. And also because, with negotiations looming next week, there really isn't a lot to say. I doff my chapeau to my friends on the line today and tomorrow, and, honestly, wish I could be there as opposed to dealing with these other travails.

It's becoming almost a strike cliche to say this, but I've met more writers in the last two weeks than I have in my entire 20 year career, and if there is any silver lining to an otherwise extremely unfortunate situation (nobody likes being out of work, and nobody likes putting anyone else out of work), it's been that. There's nothing like walking in circles in a bright red shirt at 6:00 in the morning to bring people together.

In other, free associative news, I think I forgot how difficult it can be traveling around the holidays. Difficult, of course, is relative, but massive lines and traffic jams definitely = consternation. I'm beginning to think they should stagger holidays, last names A-M get Thankgiving on the second Thursday in November, names from N-Z get the third Thursday. Might be a little complicated with larger families, but that's a small price to pay.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Excellent news from the WGA and the AMPTP, they're going back to the negotiating table on Nov. 26. Let's hope a fair deal can be made and everyone can get back to doing what they love, which in the case of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA will mean getting back into the writer's room and finishing up season four!

WGA Strike - Day 12

Somehow the reporter on KNBC thinks the strike's been going on for 17 days, but no, it's just 12, though that's long enough. Looks like the John Edwards appearance at NBC was a hit, and I'm hearing reports that a lot of fans braved traffic to join the BSG writers. I'm sorry I missed it, but I hope a good time was had by all. Well, as good a time as possible given the circumstances.

Nothing much else to say or report, except to cross the fingers and hope both sides get back to the table soon...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Springsteen, Anaheim, April 2008

Good news for fans of Mr. Springsteen, he's taking another swing through the southland next year. Having seen every tour since (gasp) 1978, I will definitely try to make this next stop, which I think is at a venue that used to be called "the Pond."

Meanwhile, Springsteen's official site has posted some great videos from the current tour. Unfortunately you don't get the complete song, but it whets the whistle AND gives me hope that there are plans afoot to release some sort of official document (DVD, CD, 8 track, I don't care) from the Magic tour.

WGA Strike - Day 11

Another glorious early morning picket at the Barham gate behind Universal. Sure is pretty out at 5:30AM... and MUCH cooler. We've been walking over a peculiar burn-mark in the pavement most of this week... evidently an SUV (as opposed to an SVU, whose writers have been marching with BSG since the beginning) caught fire at that very spot one evening earlier this week. Perhaps scorched by the residual fury of the writers?

Big news is tomorrow (Friday), of course. It is an unofficial "fan day," and here is the poop as best I know it... BSG fans can meet with the writers at the big Universal sign on Lankershim, the one on Lankershim that marks the entrance to City Walk. (There's no gate #). Last I checked, the staff will be marching from 10:00AM to Noon or so, but that's been a little fluid, some may be there a little earlier.

You won't be meeting me, unfortunately, because I have a prior personal committment, but I'll be there in spirit. Hopefully no more cars will erupt in flame, either. Give my peeps a shout-out!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 10

Nothing much to report from the picket line, except boy, that's right, NOW I remember -- we're in the Valley, as in "hot."

The big news is what's coming up for Friday. Here's the straight dope as of this evening: folks/fans interested in joining us should come to Universal Studios, Gate #2, which is on Lankershim Blvd. Walk with us from 9:00AM to 11:00AM, then there will be a rally at Noon. There is also a chance that Presidential candidate John Edwards will come by sometime in the afternoon on Friday... more news as it develops!

Also, fans might want to check out, a site that's devoted to fans and shows and all that fun stuff. Thanks to Terry Moore for the info!

In some fun non-strike news, we had a special private screening of the DVD version of RAZOR, the upcoming BSG film, this evening. It was a stunning high def presentation, a total knock-out. The TV version is great, but the uncut DVD version is really something. Coming VERY soon to DVD stores near you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Excellent Story On The WGA Strike

One of the better pieces I've seen, from today's Los Angeles Times...

WGA Strike - Day 9

Another day, another early morning of picketing. Contrary to most expectations, our group has been gaining more people day by day, and today we had the biggest turn out ever. Besides writers, there were fans, folks from the NY Film Academy and people from SAG (hi there, Jerry O'Connell) and the DGA. This, I believe, is what they call "solidarity." It's a great bunch of people, and hey, more are always welcome!

Afterward, Jane Espenson, David Weddle, Shamus Fahey and yours truly did an video interview for the Canadian Space Channel, which has been a great supporter of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA through the years. I'll post here when the interview goes up on the Space Channel site. You can see three sweaty writers and the ever cool Jane Espenson chat about the strike, BATTLESTAR and "etc."

And finally, I should have definitive times and places for the big "fan day" gathering this Friday very soon, it's still being figured and plotted and planned, but if you pencil in 11:30AM to 1:00 or 2:00 PM, you'll probably be in good shape.

I'm still a little fuzzy today, catching up after driving to Ventura Monday night for an audience screening of the BSG RAZOR movie. The crowd seemed to have a good time, and it was nice to have a vivid reminder of why we love what we do. If you didn't catch RAZOR on the big screen, remember to watch the Sci-Fi Channel on Friday 11/24...

What They REALLY Think About Internet

Check out this short video and maybe you'll understand the frustration of negotiating with folks who claim they need a three year study to better understand the internet before considering a deal with the WGA...

Monday, November 12, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 8

I can post even earlier than usual because I was on a picket line even earlier than usual, 6AM to 10AM. There's still a lot of press (our line was interviewed by Entertainment Tonight, KNBC and CNBC) and much frenzied honking from passing motorists. Our strike Captain, Mick, is an amazing force of nature who keeps our spirits up with his incredible enthusiasm, but we're all motivated. And what a group, from seasoned feature writers to first-timers, staff writers to show-runners, and every step in between.

There's been some confusion about the upcoming "fan day", but it's definitely Friday and it's open to fans of ALL shows, not just BSG. More details as they become available, but keep Friday open! Meet the writers of some of your favorite shows! Watch them walk on aching feet!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 7 Battlestar Edition!

We're hoping to gather up as many devoted BSG fans as possible to join us on the picket line THIS FRIDAY, 11/16. Time, studio and gate to be announced, but most likely outside NBC/Universal. If you're a fan of the show and you'd like to show your support (and maybe add a wee more pressure so we can get back to work and finish the final season!), start making plans now!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 6

First, an interesting article from Media Life Magazine...

Second, a link to Mark Evanier's site and a three minute clip of a remarkable mini-speech that was given at the big Thursday summit meeting just before the strike. A writer named Howard Gould, a self-professed moderate, totally nailed the issues at hand and I remember getting that "yeah, that's right!" feeling as he wrapped up. I wasn't alone, since as Mark notes Mr. Gould got a standing ovation from the writers still in attendance. Well worth a listen.

Once you check Mark's site, read on for his other strike commentary. I've had the same experience that he has; people I never, ever expected to see backing a strike or marching on a picket line have picked up the mantle this time. There is an issue of flat-out unfairness in the studio stance that has trumped the usual, vocal trepidation over taking it to the streets.

Friday, November 09, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 5

Well, THAT was something. 4000 writers converged on Fox this morning, and the street was red with... shirts and signs and passion and all that good stuff. After a few probably interesting speeches and musical performances (I was too far back to hear much of anything), suddenly there was a loud "NOW LET'S MARCH" and brother, we marched. I ran into a lot of friends (old and new, amazing how fast you bond with your picket partners!) and was sort of amazed that 4000 of us could get together and do much of anything as one.

Bottom line? We're not going away. So I end with my customary plea, could we PLEASE get back to the negotiating table and make nice?

Why A WGA Strike?

The WGA's put together a good, short video that explains it all...

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Battlestar Galactica - RAZOR In Theaters!

Just a reminder that BATTLESTAR GALACTICA's two episode epic "Razor" will be getting a one night only theatrical showing at theaters across the country NEXT MONDAY, 11/12. I'm trying to attend the showing in Ventura California, so if you see a big guy with sore feet from picketing, that's me!

WGA Strike - Day 4

Another day, more picketing. The cast from THE OFFICE stopped by our site, so a hale and hearty THANK YOU to them. I got my picture taken with Creed, which some felt only appropriate. I wonder what they're trying to tell me?

Our numbers continue to grow day by day, as we're joined by more writers, friends, family and fans. Enthusiasm remains high while my feet remain sore, but so it goes...

Not much else to say, except to reiterate that I'm proud to be a member of the Writer's Guild, and continue to hope for a quick, fair resolution so I can toss the Dr. Scholls and go back to work!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WGA Strike - Day 3

Another day, another fun filled picket at Universal Studios. The weather continues to cooperate, even if the feet are getting sore and cranky. The sun came out sooner than the last two days, but there was a nice breeze.

Today we had semi-permanent traffic police assigned to our corner(s), all of whom who were very nice and frankly welcome. Again, the vast, vast majority of passing cars and trucks honked and waved and gave us thumbs-up signs (sorry, Mr. Ebert), there was a lot of noise and traffic at our location. Universal security came out in force (well, three guys) at one point, but I'm not sure what that was about and we just kept marching.

No real rumors tore through the line today, just more of the same. A trio of CAA agents dropped by with much appreciated water, and a couple of struggling-to-be writers came by with chow and intend to join us tomorrow in solidarity. Thanks to all of them, sincerely, every ounce of support is appreciated. By the way, ANYONE can join us if you support the writers, walk for an hour or stay through an entire shift, come on down!

There continues to be this assumption that all the writers in the Guild are super rich and spoiled and etc., but the truth is writing is a mercurial business where you can have one good year and then three bad ones. It is not a regular pay day, which is why residuals (for reruns on the air, DVD and internet) are so important. They sustain a lot of writers through the lean years.

And I'll end with my constant refrain -- I urge the WGA leadership and the AMPTP folks to get back to the table as soon as possible and start hammering out a deal that's fair to both sides.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

WGA Strike - Day Two

Another fine day picketing outside Universal Studios. Different location, MUCH bigger reaction, 99.9% positive from passing cars and traffic. Much honking, noise, shouts of encouragement. In fact, the only overt anti-strike sentiment was expressed by some asshole wearing a halloween skull mask as he (I think it was a "he") drove by in a Universal truck flipping us off. So it appears the hellspawn Ghost Rider a), works for Universal and b), has a problem with the Writer's strike.

Went to a nearby restaurant afterward, where we bumped into John Stamos and Maura Tierney, both of whom said they would be joining us on the picket line in the afternoon. Big thanks to them, we need all the help we can get!

Nothing new to report in terms of negotiations, but I continue to hope that the WGA and the AMPTP get back in a room together and get back to finding a solution that works. Until then, "Writers United, Never Divided!"

Monday, November 05, 2007

WGA Strike - Day One

Okay, so it's still mid-day, but I've finished my shift on the picket line, so... it's update time! The entire BATTLESTAR staff worked corners outside Universal Studios, covering a gate a little off the beaten track, but that's okay. Lots of folks honked in solidarity, and a few of Jane Espensen's fans dropped by in support, which was great.

A very friendly policeman dropped by to give us some instruction on how to handle ourselves and to ask if we had had any problems, since a picketer at the Sunset/Gower lot suffered a broken leg after being hit by a car. We didn't have any problems like that, but we were certainly being scrutinized by Universal security.

No celebs at our location, no cameras and no shade. At least the weather cooperated today, it was cloudy until almost Noon and temperatures were mildish.

Not a lot more to say. I hope this isn't a "long haul" situation, and a contract agreement can be reached ASAP, but we are definitely in it for the long haul, if that's what it takes.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Strike Prep Day 0

Barring a miracle of negotiation, WGA writers are hitting the picket lines Monday in full force. I have my red shirt (STAR TREK humor is NOT appreciated), my comfy shoes and perhaps most importantly, a sense that we as a union have that mysterious alchemic ingrediant called "resolve" in spades. I will try to post something every day as the strike goes on, sort of a running journal on these complicated and unsettling times...

Apocalypse End Times Have Arrived

The Sex Pistols performed "Anarchy In The U.K." on the Jay Leno show last week...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Strike One...

As everyone pretty much expected in the wake of the big WGA membership meeting Thursday night, the WGA strike has been called for 12:01AM Monday 11/5. Personal belongings have been packed up, the last bits of work turned in, and now...

Well, now it's time for both sides to try and make a deal. The posturing continues (new drinking game, take a shot every time Nick Counter with the producers/studios calls the WGA "reckless"), but it would be nice to see that end and some actual negotiating begin. Negotiating that doesn't start with "take it or leave it", since obviously at this juncture the writers have decided to leave it.

Oh, and I guess you can expect more blog entries. I've got the time!

Friday, November 02, 2007

WGA, Strikes and "etc."

Guess I'll be able to remove the modifier "potential" when discussing the WGA strike pretty soon. I attended last night's gathering at the L.A. Convention Center, and all signs point toward a walk-out, possibly as early as Monday 11/5. We'll know by mid-afternoon today (11/2)...

Walk-out means walk-out. Shows will stop being written, production will stop soon after, and picket lines will be established.

I've been in the WGA for 17 years, having joined just after the long 1988 strike, so I've seen calls for strikes before, but I have to say, this feels different. There is a real solidarity out there, mostly because we all know how much this negotiation will impact our future. We really need to have some realistic payment structure for internet, webisodes and etc., because that's where the market is going. And our backs are up because we got burned back in '85/'88 by taking a lowball "we need time to study this!" number on home video. (Incidentally, that's no slam on the folks who agreed to that deal back in '85/'88, they paid quite a price to get what they did.)

Now that a strike looks inevitable, my new hope is that it is over quickly and we can all get back to work, not necessarily with big happy smiles, but with a new deal in place that addresses the future of this business...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HOSTEL 1 and 2, Alternate Ending... SPOILERS!!

Maybe it's my grim mood recently, but I recently watched the DVDs of HOSTEL and HOSTEL 2. Reviews can come later, but the new double-dip version of the first HOSTEL film features an entirely different ending, one director Eli Roth shot but later re-considered after some intervention by Quentin Tarantino (!). There are some


DO NOT read on if you're trying to keep the twists and turns of the two movies to yourself.

HOSTEL the feature currently ends with the surviving victim coming across one of his torturers in a train station, following him into a bathroom and killing him. One thing that intrigued me about HOSTEL was that for all it's horrific violence, Roth opted for some version of "retribution" in the end. The tables get turned on the murderous, sadistic killers big time. Unlike so many hardcore horror movies (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE THE BEGINNING, anyone?), there is actually some redemptive comuppance for the evil-doers in HOSTEL, and I appreciated that.

The alternate ending, which is quite clever in a very sick psychological sense, is considerably less "audience friendly." In the alternate, our victim comes across one of his torturers in a train station, just as the torturer greets his young (six year old-ish) daughter. When dad and daughter split up to use the restroom, the daughter disappears and nasty Dad tries to find her, only to spot her in the clutches of our torture victim as they choo-choo away from the station on a train. The clear and unsettling implication from the little girl's struggles is that our victim intends to do her harm, hence becoming as cruel and demented as the torturer himself.

Obviously, the moral triumph deriving from the original ending would have been significantly, umm, "muted", in this version. I'm frankly not sure which ending I prefer, but in terms of "audience pleasing" (if such a term can be applied to a movie that features a kid getting power-drilled), seeing the torturer get his just desserts up close and personal probably trumps the little girl version.

Continuing on the theme of survivors and redemption, HOSTEL 2 opens pretty much where the first movie left off, catching up with the last survivor. And while I think Part 2 has, in many ways, a more compelling story than the first, something happens here that really bugs me. Call it the FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2/ALIEN 3/MANIAC COP 2 syndrome -- it's where the filmmakers wrap up the story from the last film by offing the last "survivor." What bugs me about this story-telling device is that it completely negates whatever sense of triumph the audience may have realized from the earlier chapter's resolution. So our victim survived the horrors of a torture chamber, so what? In HOSTEL 2, the bad guys track him down and take his cabeza off with a chainsaw anyway.

ALIEN 3 opens with virtually all the survivors from Cameron's brilliant ALIENS getting killed off camera. MANIAC COP 2 has the audacity to off Bruce Campbell's character (the BASTARDS), and FRIDAY 2 dispenses with the only survivors of Momma Jason's rampage in a jiffy. Guess it's just a pet peeve of mine, but can't we just leave some of these poor, troubled survivors alone?

More WGA Strike Stuff

As usual, Mr. Evanier interprets the latest machinations between the WGA and the studios better than I ever could...

Various WGA Strike Related Sites Of Interest

As I write this, it's still a "potential" strike, but even playing the eternal optimist, I have to say things ain't looking good. Here are a couple places I go to keep up with the latest: This is a blog formed by WGA strike captains, I believe, to discuss the latest state of the state. Mark Evanier's site, where he has been doing a running commentary on the situation from the perspective who someone who was intimately involved in the 1985/'88 negotiations and strike.