Saturday, May 31, 2008

Do You Like The Beatles?

Do you like the Beatles? Have a spare $1 million or so? Then this fellow has some records for you!

New Smithereens - LIVE 2008!

The onslaught of new Smithereens material continues with the release of Live In Concert, a great set taken from a series of shows done in early 2008. Most of the hits are here, in great sound, and lead singer Pat Dinizio has never sounded better. More info and a set list can be found at:

Live in Concert - Greatest Hits and More

Friday, May 30, 2008

It's BSG Friday! What Does "Sine Qua Non" Mean?

"Sine Qua Non" means it's time for another new episode, of course. Besides powerful drama, you'll also be scrambling for your Latin dictionary! That's Battlestar Galactica, FRIDAY NIGHT at 10:00PM on the Sci-Fi Channel!

EUREKA! Weird Nick Roeg Movie Or...?

It's also a fun show on the Sci-Fi Channel! Eureka writer, good guy and former WGA strike Captain Eric Wallace has alerted me that they're putting together an on-going production blog as Eureka's new season commences. Unlike my sad little effort, their blog actually has photos (the Eureka guys are clearly very tech savvy; over on Battlestar we still use corded phones and refuse to network our systems), as well as lots of cool insider stuff on the show. Check it out at...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Battlestar Galactica: Crossroads 2 And Those Fake Scenes...

I was going through my old files the other day and came across the "alternate" (i.e., fake) scenes we put together for the end of Crossroads 2, the season three finale, in an attempt to keep our major revelations from entering internet spoiler-ville before the show actually aired. Now that we're half way through season four, hopefully a discussion of events in season three (going all the way back to what we were doing in November/December of 2006!) won't be considered a spoiler...

The whole process of writing these alternate scenes was interesting. On the one hand, you don't really want to waste much time on something you have no intention of shooting. On the other hand, if the scene isn't at least vaguely convincing, everybody will know it's a ringer and you wind up calling MORE attention to the moment. Further, the cast and crew were going to prep the show, at least at first, off these bogus scenes, so they couldn't be wildly divergent from what we were actually planning.

In this case, we had two revelations to mask. The unveiling of four of the final five Cylons, and the back-from-the-dead reappearance of Starbuck. Now, speaking for myself here, I always assumed that people were more or less expecting Starbuck to come back at some point. But the revelation of the four new Cylons, THAT was going to be the real eye-opener.

So our first bogus scene basically fudged that revelation. Instead of the four realizing they're actually Cylons, they come to believe the Cylons brainwashed them back on New Caprica to (possibly) do bad things. (Remember, this is the bogus version. Tigh, Tory, Anders and Tyrol are Cylons, honest, no foolin'.) The scene between the four in the locked room became a rather expository examination of how this might have been done. It actually made sense contextually, because events prior to this scene (the music) certainly pointed toward SOME sort of Cylon revelation.

Starbuck's resurrection was easier to hide; that scene, which wound up being shot in our Vipers on what we call a "green screen" (special FX) day, just didn't exist in the script. (There were a couple different versions of THAT moment too, but that's a discussion for another time.) However, that left the released script without an ending. So the bogus version closed with a completely invented moment. After the Cylons have reappeared and our pilots are getting ready for battle, Lee rushes back to his quarters to grab a flight suit only to be confronted by Tigh, who promptly conks him over the head with a whiskey bottle (!). Leaving Tigh to wonder if the Manchurian Candidate mechanism had finally been triggered, and leaving poor Lee bleeding out on the floor.

As a season ender, not exactly riveting, but like I said, when you're in the middle of a hectic production schedule, you're scrambling hard enough to get the real script finished, you don't want to spend days crafting bogus material. Anyhow, it's all just a curious piece of BSG trivia now...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Speaking of Steven Seagal...

Just rolled through Pistol Whipped, a direct-to-video "action thriller" from 2007 starring big Steve Seagal. Well, "rolled through" is a little euphemistic, the fast-forward button was employed liberally, but there's still something oddly compelling about this stuff. Maybe it's that the stories in these thrillers are formulaic and yet kinda of crazy at the same time, like they're made without all the filters that tend to process bigger movies.

In Pistol Whipped (the title doesn't really mean anything), Seagal plays "Matt", a disgraced ex-cop who somehow has racked up $1.3 million (!) in gambling debts. Lance Hendrikson puts in a (short) day as a mysterious figure who buys up Matt's gambling markers then forces the poor guy to murder various bad guys and "do society a favor." Lance has a bunch of agents working for him who seem equally capable of killing "the scumbags", but for whatever reason he'd rather have the thieving, drunk, debt-ridden Seagal do the deed(s). There are the usual twists, a big and rather boring shoot-out at the end, and a screwy happy ending only available in the "deleted scenes" extras.

Seagal seems a little more engaged in this one, though his strategy for killing the bad guys isn't exactly sophisticated. He walks in, shoots or beats everyone in sight, then leaves. Police are mostly non-existent or hopelessly crooked. It seems bodyguards are about as effective as tax accountants when it comes to defending their crime bosses, and they frequently fall prey to the "talking before they shoot" problem. One idiot has the drop on Steven, but waits to tell him "I'm not going to hesitate!", in the process hesitating long enough for Seagal to kick the crap out of him.

I managed to get through about 50 regular speed minutes, better than most of these "thrillers." Kudos for the opening slo-mo scene that has Seagal spinning awkwardly and shooting blindly behind his back (!) with his sixty-six shooter. (Somehow this looks even sillier in exaggerated slo-mo.) Bonus points for actually showing him reload a couple of times. As for the rest:

Let's see, naked hooker straddling bad guy and diving for cover when Seagal starts blasting, CHECK. Lance Hendrikson has his murder meetings in a giant, deserted theater balcony, CHECK! Seagal breaks a guy's arm and twists the (rubber) fake arm to prove he's tough, CHECK! Yep, it's a Seagal movie all right...

But they lose 30 points (and I nearly lost my lunch) for including a Seagal/cute girl kissing scene. I'll have to watch a week's worth of Battlestar dailies to clear THAT image from my mental palate...

Monday, May 26, 2008

JCVD = A Good Van Damme Movie?! Could It Be?

I never did quite understand what happened to Jean Claude Van Damme after he did Timecop... but he went from big theatrical features to crummy theatrical features to a whole slew of really crummy direct-to-video action movies. I always thought that, unlike Seagal (who I love to watch, but jeez, dude, a pony-tail?), Van Damme had genuine charisma. Still, he seemed hopelessly mired in the "he's a cop/secret agent/disgraced military man, they're the terrorists/racists/nut jobs/dope smugglers who killed his wife/brother/partner/dog/, now they've unleashed HELL!" rut. Until now, that is...

JCVD is a French movie that debuted at Cannes, and if the trailer is any indication, it looks great. Van Damme plays "himself," a broken down action star lamenting his career choices, broke, on the outs with his daughter, who finds himself embroiled in a real life bank robbery (!). It's in the My Name Is Bruce ballpark, but there room for two self-referential movies that make fun of the movie business. I hope!

See if you agree about the Van Dammage...


Bruce Campbell will be doing a panel and showing clips from the long gestating MY NAME IS BRUCE at the 2008 San Diego Show. Come see what (some) of the fuss is about!

And for what it's worth, barring unanticipated events, I'll also be at the big San Diego convention. No idea if I'll be doing something "official" or just hanging out, but hopefully I'll be wandering the halls...

Battlestar Galactica & The Ratings

This seems like good news... guess I'd better read the trades more often.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Battlestar: The Rest Of Season Four Part One

Three episodes remain in this leg of season four-the-last. On 5/30, it's Sine Qua Non, 6/6 brings you The Hub and 6/13 (Friday the 13th) is Revelations. Yes, we did consider introducing Jason Voorhees for a cameo when we learned when the show would be airing, but let's face it, Jason's antics are comic fodder next to the machinations of our rag-tag fleet. I guess the real question is, what will Friday the 13th bring to our shaky little alliance? Good luck? Bad luck? Worse luck? Hmmm...

I also see (hat tip to the always excellent Galactica Sitrep site) that my former employer the Los Angeles Times is hosting a Battlestar Galactica pre-Emmy event at the Arclight on June 11. Since that's literally all I know (the jungle drums from BSG central are evidently on mute), I have no idea who from the show might be appearing, but if it's anything like the last Arclight event, I'm sure it'll be fun. Check out Sitrep for the (so far quite limited) details...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Battlestar Galactica - How It Ends

Great teaser, huh? I guess that's something you learn when you write television! Anyhow, there will be zero spoilers here, but since Aaron Douglas went public with his reaction to Ron Moore's script for the season four ender (which viewers probably won't see until sometimes in 2009), I figure it's okay to chime in and say...

It's simply... amazing. The sort of script where, when you finish, you just fall back in your chair in a daze, then call anyone in the loop and spend hours talking about how satisfying and powerful and (pick superlative of choice)... usually I would be a little mindful of raising expectations or succumbing to excessive hyperbole, but that's not going to be a problem here. Of course, I've seen what's coming up for the rest of season four, and I think it's all mighty powerful stuff (not to mention exciting, heart-breaking, "etc."), but to know it all culminates in something so remarkable... well, the bar for great television just got notched up another level. No kidding.

If that doesn't whet your appetite, nothing will... me, I'm on pins and needles waiting to see the first dailies!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Favorite Soundtracks...

I like movie and TV soundtracks. SOME movie and TV soundtracks. Aside from my collection of Bear McCreary masterworks, seems like I keep buying copies of the same thing over and over as the years pass, trying to find the ultimate, perfect, uber-complete version. Life would be simpler if the studios/composers just released the whole nine yards when the movies were first released, but alas, it remains the collector's fate to haunt movie memorabilia shows when that ultimate masterpiece remains just out of reach. Here are a few I've been amassing over the years...

BLADERUNNER. For whatever reason, composer Vangelis decided not to release his original score at first, so for a long time the only official release was a re-scored orchestral version by the "New American Orchestra." I've heard that one so many times, there are actually a couple moments I prefer to the real thing -- specifically, I'm partial to the re-do's versions of the movie's love theme, "One More Kiss Dear" -- but the subtle musicality of the original is still the best. Various gray market types have unleashed versions over the years ("The Esper Edition", whatever that means, was really good), and Vangelis himself put out a truncated single CD edition awhile back, but until recently the very BEST edition has been a two CD "gray market" release on the "Off World" label with every friggin' shred of music from the movie, even the Ladd Company logo, 103 minutes total. However, now even that's been eclipsed by a new 3 CD, legit edition that includes the Vangelis release, all the other music plus a third disc of Vangelis "inspired by the 25th anniversary." Insane...

THE KEEP. An obscure Michael Mann horror film, I saw this at a special screening on a huge screen when it was first (briefly) released, and I was knocked out by the visual look and the moody Tangerine Dream soundtrack. The movie is pretty wild in a "what were they thinking?" way, and just about as hard to find as the soundtrack (I have the widescreen laserdisc version, as far as I know it's still not out on DVD). The soundtrack was never officially released, but that hasn't stopped various enterprising individuals as desperate as yours truly from cobbling together multiple editions from God knows what sources. I must have six different versions, but so far the best is a single CD edition on the Skull and Crossbones "label" which has the cleanest sound.

FLASHPOINT. Another uber-moody Tangerine Dream soundtrack, this saw a limited release on Virgin records way back in the late 80's/early 90's, and that was fine except the CD quickly went out of print and my copy was an early victim of "laser rot". (Sidenote, out of maybe 12000 CDs, I've only had five go bad from laser rot over the last twenty-some years. Of course, they were all stuff I really liked...) This CD also features one of my absolute favorite soundtrack song genres, the "lyrics that tell the story of the movie" tune. These were very popular in Westerns back in the 50's and 60's (my favorite is still the theme for "The War Wagon" with John Wayne, which some punk band should cover!), so the Flashpoint theme feels like a bit of an anomoly this late in the game. But it's great in a really terrible way. Anyhow, One Way Records re-released the bare bones version of the soundtrack in 1995, but that's also long out of print and goes for $100+ on ebay. I just hope my copy of THAT doesn't succumb to laser rot.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Speed Racer Discussed...

I haven't had a chance to catch Speed Racer yet, and considering the reviews I may wait for the DVD, but here's an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the movie's box office troubles and what it may hold for the future. Having seen the excellent Iron Man, I agree with the writer that audiences are more than happy to watch action movies with interesting dramatic scenes between the big ka-bams. It's when the "drama" is dull, cliche or non-existent that you run into trouble...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bruce Campbell Talks Monsters and BRUCE

A nice, new interview with BC hisself, covering BURN NOTICE the series, some new HD network showing all monster movies, and a few words on the upcoming (I mean it this time!) MY NAME IS BRUCE.


Things have gotten a little hectic the last couple of weeks, hence the diminished posting and lateness of my weekly ComicMix gab fest. Besides some personal business and my ongoing BSG chores (today I attended the final mix for the episode airing three weeks from now, "The Hub," which is amazing), as the indicia to the right suggests I'm also writing a feature for Sony Pictures called ARK. This is based on an original comic-book story I created/wrote a few years ago, with some significant alterations, but suffice to say it's a large scope science fiction story that has been a lot of fun to develop. I'm working with producers Neal Moritz (of I AM LEGEND) and Mike Richardson (Dark Horse chief and producer of the upcoming HELLBOY 2) and should be reporting more on this project as it moves along.

Meanwhile, there may be more to report on other fronts in the next few weeks. For now, I'll just say, life can be really interesting... oh, and my other mantra, "it's good to be busy!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bits And Pieces...

It's been a busy week, some of it business related, some not, but that's how it goes. Lots of interesting stuff on the horizon but nothing to talk about yet, that's also pretty common in this crazy movie/TV business.

This week on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, a lovely episode entitled "Guess What's Coming To Dinner." As the title suggests, those pesky Cylons come to visit the fleet and no, they do not stage an impromptu pick-up basketball game to resolve their differences. And there's a whopper of a revelation about half-way through that will likely engender a lot of head-slapping "what?!!!" and/or "Oh my God(s)!!" from faithful viewers.

My comments on last week's episode "Faith" are up over at, too. A word of explanation on these Q & A's... they reflect MY interpretation of the show. I'd like to think it's a fairly well considered intrepretation, since I was involved in figuring out the stories with the rest of the crack writing staff, but if something doesn't jibe with your own personal interpretation -- that's fine! Feel free to disagree. I'm not laying down the law, passing edicts, writing torture memos or anything else, just chatting about the shows as I see them.

More, *ahem*, "news" as it develops...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Battlestar Episode "Faith" Screens, All Is Well...

Another great evening last night at an undisclosed location in Malibu, where the Battlestar episode "Faith" was big-screened for the BSG faithful. It was great to see so many BSG fans at the showing, which was also the premiere/writing debut for a certain Mr. Seamus Kevin Fahey.

It's a great community out there. Many of the folks who came last night were also regular visitors to the picket line, but when things weren't quite so cheerful. And it's always fun to talk about the whole BSG experience, which is gradually drawing to a close for the staff but not for the audience... a bunch more episodes are still to come. And there are some gut-churning stories yet to come in the FIRST half. Let's just say, things never go smoothly when you're talking human and Cylon... (that CAN'T be a spoiler)...

Was Not Was - Live 5/3/08!

I've been raving about these guys for years, and they're finally back on tour after a 16 year (!) hiatus. They're playing small clubs around the country, so if you get a chance to see them live, now is the time! You won't be disappointed. Meanwhile, if you'd like to hear what they're doing on the current tour, a recent concert was posted at:

The Was guys have okayed the taping and dissemination of their live shows, so this is a band-approved download. If you like what you hear, you can support the band more tangibly by buying their new CD, "Boo," which is garnering raves from critics and deserves to do better than the current marketplace will allow.

Need more convincing? Here's a You Tube clip of the boys doing "Walk The Dinosaur", from their recent appearance on the Jools Holland show in England:

Thursday, May 08, 2008

My Name Is Bruce - Finally?

The days-in-the-shooting, years-in-the-releasing comedy epic MY NAME IS BRUCE finally has some honest to goodness release dates, at least for now! (How's that for caveat'ing?) Theatrical release is currently scheduled for October 2008 (Halloween! Spooky!), followed by a glorious DVD release in Jan. 2009.

And even though rumor suggested this was going to happen LAST year, I even posted about it, BRUCE is actually screening this year at Cannes. (No, not in competition. Wise guy.) This time I even saw a screening schedule. Honest. So if you're in Cannes and have a couple hours to kill... well, if I were in Cannes, the last thing I'd be doing is sitting in a movie theater, but maybe that's just me...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Strike News? Oh No!

The SAG negotiations have hit a not-unexpected snag... as usual my pal Mark Evanier has the lowdown on the labor front.

Various New(ish) MOVIES!

* Universal's just re-released one of my favorite 70's horror movies, THE CAR, starring James Brolin and a... well, a killer car. I remember seeing this deadly vehicle/prop parked in a storage lot alongside Columbo's rattle-trap when I took the Universal tour in the early '80's. What makes THE CAR actually work (the movie, not the car) is that everyone takes the insane story at face value. No winks, no snark, just people being terrorized by a big black car with red windows. It's surprisingly creepy, considering many scenes are done in broad desert/Southwest daylight. The logic of a driverless indestructible killer car from hell (and sorry if that's a spoiler, but that's what it is!) is a little dicey, but who cares? Still, I would have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall during those script meetings... "and this is where the killer car terrorizes a kindergarten!"

* Val Kilmer's done great work in the past, but he seems to be falling into a Seagal/Van Damme DTV rut recently. His latest film, CONSPIRACY, is a deadly dull formula action movie about a Iraq vet whose buddy gets offed by some desert-dwelling hardliners (led by "Ricky Bobby's" Dad!), provoking the inevitable and rather tedious "revenge." Unfortunately, Kilmer spends most of the movie staring blankly at the camera and occasionally shooting someone. To clear my palate, I popped in SPARTAN for another viewing, written and directed by David Mamet, where Kilmer plays a similar character but to infinitely better effect.

* I've been trying to find a DVD copy of EXTREME CLOSE-UP, a 1973 movie from a Michael Crichton script, directed by Jeannot Szwarc (who coincidentally directed a SMALLVILLE I wrote called "Perry"), but it's been tough. Websites suggested the movie was retitled and issued in the early 2000's as SEX THROUGH A WINDOW, but even that's hard to find. I finally got a copy of SEX today, but... it sure ain't EXTREME CLOSE-UP. Instead, I received a compilation of people having sex (unknowingly, mostly) in front of surveillance cameras. Wonderful. The original EXTREME was an early exploration of the surveillance society, and I remember liking it quite a bit on first viewing. Ahh, maybe one of these days...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Thanks and a tip of the MV toupee toward Galactica Sitrep for the info:

A nice write up in New York Magazine, especially thoughtful re: Helo...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Road Less Traveled as seen by The Chicago Tribune

Here's the link to a very nice review of last week's BSG episode "The Road Less Traveled" by Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune. Thanks, Maureen!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Two New Don Dixon Releases, And I Feel Fine!

It's always a good day in the Verheiden enclave when Don Dixon and/or his incredibly talented spouse Marti Jones release new music, and this is no exception. "Nu-Look" is available right now as a download, though I believe a CD version will be forthcoming sometime in late May. Doesn't matter, don't wait! It's classic Don Dixon of the "Praying Mantis" variety, solid rockers with Dixon's wit and humor shining through. Don himself says it's "pub friendly" rock, and that's as good a description as any. Dixon produced REM, the Smithereens and a zillion other great bands, but his music gets played as much or more around here than tunes by any of his men-tees. Highly highly recommended.

Also just out, a collection of softer songs and lullabies from Don and Marti Jones. This is a download only release, so don't wait! While I generally prefer the harder-rocking material, this collection is great for those times when you don't need drums pounding 4/4 time in your brain. And Marti Jones' voice remains one of the great treasures of pop music. Samples can also be heard at Amazon, so check them out!

While I'm at it, here's a plea to actually buy this stuff and not steal it off the internet. I doubt Dixon's getting rich off these releases in the first place, but the only way we're going to get MORE good music is by supporting our favorite artists when they make new music.

The Futon Critic, Battlestar and Me...

There is a lengthy interview with yours truly posted today at "The Futon Critic", one of the best TV related sites on the web. This interview was done a couple months ago, hence the lack of spoiler references to season four episodes that have already run. I don't think there are any spoilers at all, actually, just a discussion of how Battlestar works, how I got involved, etc. Check it out at: