Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yes, It's Been Awhile

After wrapping my final (co-written) episode for Heroes season four, I decided to take a break from the entire internet-happy world for a few days (otherwise known as "a vacation"). But I'm back and ready to face 2010 with a smile in my heart and a bottle in my hand...

And I came back to a pile of cool stuff.

*Like District 9 and Paranormal Activity on Blu-Ray.

*A bunch (12!) of live-from-2009, totally authorized Elton John CDs from www.concertlive.co.uk.

*"Metal Box", an exact replica of Public Image's first release. I still have the vinyl version somewhere (three 12" records packed in a metal film-can like container), this is a smaller CD version. It's a great collection, and I love the way the otherwise discordant/throbbing set ends with a swelling, elegant instrumental piece that feels like score from a lost Stanley Kubrick movie.

*Yet another full-color collection of Steve Ditko comics, this one a big coffee-table-type book from Fantagraphics.

*News from Fletcher Hanks fanatic Paul Karasik that two and possibly three "new to us" Fletcher comics stories have been discovered. If you haven't discovered the genius that is Fletcher, rush to Amazon right now, search Paul's name and buy both reasonably priced collections.

*A fantastic piece of original art by DC comics master Curt Swan -- a Batman/Hostess Cupcakes ad/story where Batman tackles "The Crime Director", a film-director villain wearing an ascot who "directs" his goons to rob the "City Bank" by yelling "Roll 'em!" Only to be foiled when Batman distracts the thugs with a handful of Hostess cupcakes. I'm going to try this trick next time I'm faced with an unruly cast! To quote the flummoxed Crime Director, "You guys are breaking your contract!"

And I also came back invigorated and ready to tackle the feature projects on my plate. It looks to be another busy year, always a good thing in the spooky and uncertain world of TV and feature writing.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Name Is Bruce Shares BSG's Network!

Saturday night, 9:00PM, on the SyFy (formally the "SciFi") Channel -- My Name Is Bruce makes it's glorious network television premiere! I'll be curious to see how they deal with some of the more, um, "colorful" language!

http://video.syfy.com/movies_events/syfy_saturday

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's Top TV Shows Of The Decade Time!

Battlestar Galactica comes in at #7 on this "top forty of the 2000's" list...

http://insidetv.aol.com/2009/12/07/feature-page-10-1/

Friday, December 11, 2009

Speaking Of Battlestar (and charity)...

My good friend Kelly Souders, currently executive producer of the fine television program Smallville, is the driving force behind an e-bay auction raising money for the African charity Heshima Kenya, an organization that works with refugee girls in Kenya. I've donated one of the Battlestar Galactica "cruise books", a fancy, full color hardcover book jam packed with rare photos and memories by the BSG cast and crew. This was produced for the wrap party of the series only, so this is a rare chance to grab one of these exquisitely produced pieces.

Bidding ends Sunday 12/13! Bid high and bid often! It's for a good cause!

http://cgi.ebay.com/Battlestar-Galactica-Cast-Crew-Yearbook-Orig-Sig_W0QQitemZ140365869093QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_
DefaultDomain_0?hash=item20ae753025

Proof Of Goodness In The World Vol. 10

So much goodness, so little time...

SCREENERS! You know what I'm talking about, Public Enemies, 500 Days Of Summer, A Serious Man, It's Complicated and Precious (so far)...

Mystery Science Theater 3000 XVI! With packaging designed by my good buddy Steve Vance and complete with a toy Tom Servo, who cares about the movies? This is just fun.

Alter Ego Magazine! Issue #90 just came out, jam-packed with the usual plethora of information on comics old and new. This issue features pieces on Kirby inking master Joe Sinnott, Stan Lee in the 1940's... every issue is an encyclopedic collection of facts and fun. Edited by Roy Thomas, available from TwoMorrows at www.twomorrows.com. In these tough economic times small publishers need our financial support more than ever, so buy subscriptions!

Belgian movie posters! Check out http://www.emovieposter.com for their weekly sales of movie posters/lobby cards and other film related "stuff." Even if you don't buy anything, it's fun to look through the hundreds of different poster designs. I've been picking up a few foreign posters recently, which have the benefit of usually being cheaper than the more famous U.S. versions, but are sometimes way cooler. I just picked up Belgian/German painted posters of The Monolith Monsters (one of my favorite Universal horrors from the '50's), Hammer's Curse of the Werewolf ("La Nuit Du Loup Garou!") and a gorgeous painting for the Geo. Pal War Of The Worlds. But again, it's fun just to look!

Snatch (the movie) on blu-ray! Probably my favorite Brad Pitt performance, babbling incomprehensible jargon to a pack of fairly incompetent gangsters. This is a movie I can watch again and again... I'd love to see an entire feature dedicated to the character "Bricktop."

The Cowsills first CD, from the original masters, with a 24 page color (or "colour" as our overseas friends spell it) with eight bonus tracks. They were the inspiration for the Partridge Family and have since been marred by tragedy (one of the Cowsill brothers died during Katrina), but they sure produced some great, "wholesome" pop...

More goodness soon!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tootin' My Own Horn... Battlestar Edition

Time Magazine has posted their best TV shows of 2009 list, and Battlestar Galactica came in 5th, while my episode "The Oath" (with "Blood on the Scales") made the critic's honorary mention list. Sah-weet...

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1945379_1944142_1944152,00.html

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Next!

Been a little while since I "blogged"... it's been one of those very busy, busy times. I've been wrapping up my work on season four of Heroes and spent some of last week enjoying the exceptional thesping of our cast. Since we are sworn to secrecy on a stack of legal contracts not to reveal plot details, I won't... but I think my final ep of the season, "The Art Of Deception", co-written with the exceptional Misha Green (though she'll probably take exception to that) is looking really swell.

Meanwhile, work continues on rewrites on various feature projects. I read someone somewhere wondering if "Ark", the movie I'm doing with Dark Horse and Neal Moritz, had gone to the great development hell in the sky. The answer is a definite "no." I've been reworking that one for awhile -- it's still active with a capital "A."

And in other news, I'm about to sit down with the inimitable Bruce Campbell to discuss the possibility of more epic collaborations. Probably not a sequel to "My Name Is Bruce" (one's plenty!), but maybe we can come up with some other form of motion picture mayhem to inflict on America. Because the world needs MORE BRUCE...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This Week On HEROES --

"Thanksgiving." That's right, the gang sits down for a lovely holiday meal. I think fans will be blown away by the fourth act twist -- when Angela tries to change the channel from a football game to a Twilight Zone marathon, watch out!

Or maybe I should let the fine folks at NBC explain...

THANKSGIVING UNITES FAMILIES TOGETHER AND BRINGS NEW REVELATIONS - H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) hosts an untraditional Thanksgiving dinner. Elsewhere, the Petrelli family gets a surprise guest at their table. Meanwhile, Samuel (Robert Knepper) continues to hold Hiro (Masi Oka) hostage, as Lydia (guest star Dawn Olivieri) goes in search for the truth. Greg Grunberg, Hayden Panettiere, Adrian Pasdar, Zachary Quinto, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Cristine Rose and Milo Ventimiglia also star. Ashley Crow, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Madeline Zima, Ray Park, Harry Perry, Elizabeth Rohm, Andrew Connolly also guest star.

9:00 PM Monday night on NBC!

Proof Of Goodness In The World Vol. 9!

So much good stuff, so little time...

It's awards season, which means SCREENERS! To quote our former President (in a slightly different context), "bring it on!"

Guitarist/songwriter Jaime Hoover has a new CD, "English Afterthought" with Steve Stoeckel. Hoover was/is a member of The Spongetones, has played often with Don Dixon, and knocks another one out of the park with this classic poppy-rock release. Available from the fine folks at notlame.com.

Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away", a brand new, definitive 6 CD collection of his studio recordings. In large format with an informative book and many photos. A very nice limited edition from the fine folks at Hip-O-Select.com.

Strange Suspense, the Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 1. A 230 page collection of comic artist Steve Ditko's earliest and most demented work, mostly from pre-code horror comics from the mid-50's. (Hopefully most of the folks reading this know Ditko co-created Spider-Man and that he continues to draw to this day.) In full color and shot from the original books, it's a typically elegant production from the folks at Fantagraphics Books.

The Book Of Genesis, illustrated by Robert Crumb. An interesting choice of subject matter, but Crumb's work has never been better. There's an affordable hardcover and a deluxe boxed signed swanky edition, I got mine via Amazon...

More goodness soon!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

HEROES on 11/16/09! Brother's Keeper!

This week on Heroes, an extra special episode, and I'm not saying that just because I co-wrote it with my pal Rob Fresco. Well, I guess I am, but it's still extra-special!

We got your Nathan and your Peter (hence the "Brothers" title), your Matt and your Sylar, we got Tracy, Claire, Hiro, Suresh -- and the nefarious Samuel as well. It's all happening MONDAY November 16 at 8:00PM! Heroes on NBC!

THE TRUTH SETS OUR HEROES ON NEW AND DANGEROUS PATHS.

Samuel (Robert Knepper) learns just how powerful he can become and takes dangerous measures to reach his full potential. Meanwhile, as Tracy (Ali Larter) begins to lose control of her ability, one of her own comes in harms way. Elsewhere, Sylar (Zachary Quinto) continues his battle with Matt (Greg Grunberg).

Kavi Ladnier, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Ravi Kapoor and Andrew Connolly guest star.


In other Heroes-esque news, back the office we're careening toward the season four climax and I can report with some authority that there's plenty of cool stuff still to come. And some intriguing directors and guest stars that Battlestar fans may recognize from that fine program... but no, the Cylons are NOT responsible for Samuel's perfidy. At least I'm pretty sure...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Wish I'd Been There...

From the Backstreets blog, re: last night's Springsteen show at Madison Square Garden...

http://backstreets.com/news.html

November 8 / Madison Square Garden / New York, NY
Notes: Context has always been important to Bruce Springsteen's music, and he reinforced that notion with a galvanizing performance of The River in its entirety for the first time on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. In a precise, exhilarating, and high-energy show, Springsteen faithfully reproduced all 20 of its songs. Most have appeared in shows on various tours since the album's 1980 release, and usually to great effect. But hearing the songs in their original order left many in the building gasping in astonishment.


There's lots more, but you get the gist. Gasping in astonishment indeed... it must have been amazing. Maybe there's an official release in the cards?

TONIGHT on HEROES -- Shadowboxing!

Monday night, 8PM, NBC, in living color!! Tonight's episode is "Shadowboxing", and here how the fine folks at NBC describe it!

CLAIRE LEARNS THE TRUTH BEHIND THE ATTACKS AND SYLAR TAKES MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS.

Claire (Hayden Panettiere) is determined to get to the bottom of the Sorority Rush attacks on her own, until H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) intervenes only to realize he may be the source of her troubles. Meanwhile, Peter’s (Milo Ventimiglia) new ability is a perfect fit for his job and gives him the opportunity to help Emma (guest star Deanne Bray) accept her new life. Elsewhere, Sylar’s (Zachary Quinto) battle at gaining full control over Matt’s (Greg Grunberg) body escalates — with potentially dangerous implications at stake.

Kat Purgal, Carlease Burke, Danica Stewart, Candice Patton, Sally Champlin and Assaf Cohen guest star.


Next week, my first episode for season four, co-written with the ever-talented Rob Fresco, "Brother's Keeper." I just got back from the final mix, and I'll just note that this one looks cool, sounds just dandy, and deals big time with the ever-loving Petrelli family...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Proof Of Goodness In The World Vol. 8!

So much goodness, so little time!

Hard Times, the first movie directed by Walter Hill, starring Charles Bronson and James Coburn, now in high-def! The MGM-HD channel has been showing some great 70's movies, including incredibly gritty stuff like Hickey & Boggs (with Robery Culp and Bill Cosby as two of the seediest private eyes ever!) and Across 110th Street, which practically requires a shower after viewing.

Silverado is out on blu-ray! A great Western with an excellent cast and a stand-out performance by Brian Dennehy as the bad guy you kind of like except for the "killing innocent people" thing.

The original Prisoner, starring the late, great Patrick McGoohan, is out in blu-ray! I have no idea if the new series will work (the promos look pretty great), but the original is still fun and chock full of 60's paranoia/insanity.

Bright Midnight, the special "Doors only" label from Rhino, is releasing a bunch of great live Doors material! Sound quality is great and that Jim Morrison was kind of wacky...

Reggae great Fred Locks has a new CD out called Glorify The Lord that brings him back to the sound of his first and best release, Black Star Liners. And that's good!

Bruce Springsteen is STILL on tour, and he's breaking up his set list and doing entire albums on this last lap. Last night in Madison Square Garden, it was his second record, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. Tonight he's doing the entire double album, The River. I am now in favor of a nationwide supersonic bullet train that could get from me the West Coast to the East Coast in time to see this... but alas...

The House actually passed a health care reform bill!

More goodness soon!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

HEROES Tonight + Ratings...

For those who are curious about Heroes and it's place in the ratings firmament, here's an interesting piece from the 11/2 New York Times --

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/02/business/
media/02ratings.html?_r=1

Key section:

Individual shows have gained substantially. “House,” second among all shows in its live program rating (to “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC), became the top show in terms of commercials viewed within three days with a 5.68 rating (about 6.53 million), gaining almost 18 percent. NBC’s comedy “The Office” had one of the single biggest gains — 26 percent from its live program rating — to 3.92 (4.5 million) for its rating including playbacks.

The supposedly struggling NBC drama “Heroes” jumped 22 percent, as did another apparently flagging drama, “Fringe” on Fox. And a new ABC drama, the appropriately named “Flash Forward,” looks even more like a hit than it did with its original rating because its rating increased 14 percent with playbacks.


MEANWHILE --

TONIGHT ON HEROES -- a very special episode featuring Hiro, our old pal Sylar... and a women named Charlie. "Once Upon A Time In Texas..."

HIRO GETS A SECOND CHANCE TO SAVE THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE.

When Hiro (Masi Oka) travels three years into the past, he has a second chance to save Charlie (guest star Jayma Mays) from the hands of Sylar (Zachary Quinto). However, Samuel’s (Robert Knepper) presence serves to complicate Hiro’s mission even further. Elsewhere, H.R.G.’s (Jack Coleman) past with his Primatech partner (guest star Elizabeth Rohm) is revealed.

Danielle Savre, Sally Champlin, Dawn Olivieri and Jayma Mays guest star.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Heroes! Yes, Heroes!

Here's the NBC blurbs for the next TWO, count 'em, TWO episodes!

First, coming on Oct. 26, "Strange Attractors!"

Matt (Greg Grunberg) goes to extreme measures to extinguish Sylar (Zachary Quinto), who continues to torment him. Elsewhere, H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) calls in a favor from Tracy (Ali Larter) to save a troubled young boy whose misfortunes resemble her own. While Claire (Hayden Panettiere) and Gretchen (guest star Madeline Zima) are being hazed by their new sorority sisters, they realize pledging might not be their biggest problem.

Lisa Lackey, Tessa Thompson and Rick Worthy guest star.


The week after, a very special episode featuring Hiro and our old pal Sylar... and a women named Charlie. "Once Upon A Time In Texas..."

HIRO GETS A SECOND CHANCE TO SAVE THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE.

When Hiro (Masi Oka) travels three years into the past, he has a second chance to save Charlie (guest star Jayma Mays) from the hands of Sylar (Zachary Quinto). However, Samuel’s (Robert Knepper) presence serves to complicate Hiro’s mission even further. Elsewhere, H.R.G.’s (Jack Coleman) past with his Primatech partner (guest star Elizabeth Rohm) is revealed.

Danielle Savre, Sally Champlin, Dawn Olivieri and Jayma Mays guest star.


For those counting, after these comes "Shadow Boxing", and then "Brother's Keeper", co-written by yours truly and Mr. Rob Fresco. Not to give anything away, but "Brother's Keeper" throws a few of the pieces in the air for some of our most popular characters. In a, you know, good way!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Proof Of Goodness In The World #7

So much goodness, so little time...

The amazing, six hour Monty Python documentary that's been running on IFC this week! It puts the "d" in definitive. And I'm reminded just how tenuous this crazy show biz racket can be... both Holy Grail and Life Of Brian nearly derailed at the last minute when their financing disappeared.

Tim Finn's North South East West, an Anthology. A new 2 CD compilation of Tim's greatest, from the Split Enz years through solo, Crowded House, Finn Brothers and "etc."! Great stuff.

Elvis Costello's Live At The El Macambo. Actually, not this CD so much (the concert was released with a EC box-set years ago), but the promise of more live Costello shows to come in a new "performance" series of releases!

The Unforgiven on CD! Not the Clint Eastwood movie, but a short-lived band from the 80's that did a strange amalgam of power-pop crossed with Morricone-styled spaghetti Western music. Gee, wonder why that didn't catch on? But I like it!

Bonanza (the TV series) is finally being released "authoritatively" on DVD! Season One is out now!

More goodness to come...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nothing But The News...

Like laughing at the news? I do! From Mark Evanier's fine site, a collection of screen-shots showing chirons gone wild.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/21-news-caption-fails/

Thursday, October 15, 2009

You Know You Want It...

It's still up for bid! And if they really spent $300K making this thing (!), that may explain why a movie that cost $26M to produce and made $150,000,000 in worldwide theatrical release (forget video, DVD, TV, etc.) was still $20M in the hole last time I got a profit statement...

http://cgi.ebay.com/Jean-Claude-VAN-DAMMEs-
TIMECOP-TIME-TRAVEL-MACHINE_W0QQitemZ140351319218QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_
DefaultDomain_0?hash=item20ad972cb2

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stuff You NEED - My Name Is Bruce ACTION FIGURE

According to Amazon these babies ship in a week, but I got my fresh-from-the-factory toys yesterday and they are... totally Bruce. Accessorized with gun, "Shemp" Whiskey and angel/devil Bruces that magnetically attach to the big figure's shoulders, THIS is the one toy you need!

About Those HEROES Ratings...

Well, what do you know... a little ray o' sunshine from the Oct. 12 New York Times...

Hold the farewell parties for “Heroes.”

The NBC drama looked as if it were about to fade into oblivion based on the same-day ratings for its first couple of episodes this fall. But when results from the playback of the show over a seven-day period on digital video recorders were released Monday, the picture for “Heroes,” as well as almost half of the shows on network television, brightened considerably.

The overall audience for “Heroes” grew by 26 percent from the numbers that were reported the day after its premiere episode was shown two weeks ago; more significant, among the viewers NBC most cares about, ages 18 to 49, “Heroes” jumped from a 2.8 rating to a 3.7, well above the average for network programs.


Read the entire article at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/business/media/13dvr.html?_r=1

Sunday, October 11, 2009

This Week On HEROES - Oct. 12! Monday! 8PM! NBC!

As always, the crack NBC promotional team offers a far more trenchant summary than I...

SELF-DISCOVERY ROCKS THEIR WORLD AS OUR HEROES ENCOUNTER NEW ABILITIES, TRY TO RECALL PAST LIVES AND STUMBLE UPON AN UNEXPECTED KISS.

Samuel (Robert Knepper) prepares for new additions to his family, while Lydia (guest star Dawn Olivieri) warns him of the consequences. Claire (Hayden Panettiere) discovers that her roommate Gretchen (guest star Madeline Zima) may have a hidden agenda. Meanwhile, Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) finds an unexpected way to connect with Emma (guest star Deanne Bray), who would prefer to stay distant. Elsewhere, a different side of Sylar (Zachary Quinto) emerges as he desperately tries to remember the person he used to be.

Rachel Melvin and Jack Wallace guest star.


Given the rather wide release of a photo of that "unexpected kiss", I'm not sure how unexpected it'll be -- but that's okay!

MONDAY NIGHT at 8PM on NBC! Before Trauma! Before Leno! Before the late night news! Not 9PM, but 8PM!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Proof Of Goodness In The World #6

Time flies when you're... working a lot. Suffice to say the Verheiden beak has been to the grindstone, irons are in the fire, coffee's been spilling down the throat, "etc." But that doesn't mean there still isn't goodness in the world. To wit --

Meeting up with most of the BSG writing staff at Musso and Franks! We see each other frequently, but this was fun...

...especially considering the thirst-quenching Manhattans (as in the mixed drink) at Musso and Franks! Extra bonus, Jane got to eat all the cherries!

Cheap Trick's latest album, "The Latest", is available on vinyl and, believe it or not, eight track! Yes, that's right, eight track! I expect the Edison Cylinder edition any day now...

Audition the movie on Blu-ray. It's even creepier in high def! "Deeper deeper deeper..."

The song "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty! Love that crazy sax solo.

Lover's Who Wander by the Del-Lords is being reissued with extra tracks! Due out in a week!

Dwight Twilley Rarities Vol. 6! Twilley is a power-popper who's been issuing a blitz of material on his own label, and this is just the latest and greatest! Available from www.notlame.com.

Roger Ebert's blog! Ebert's been writing some wonderful memoir-type pieces about his earlier days in Chicago journalism, along with some hard hitting political commentary.

More goodness soon!

Monday, September 28, 2009

TONIGHT on Heroes... "INK"

The fine folks at NBC say it better than I...

Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) faces unexpected consequences for his heroic acts and encounters a reluctant new hero (guest star Deanne Bray). As Claire (Hayden Panettiere) continues to adjust to college life, she must figure out how to deal with her ability having been revealed. Meanwhile, Samuel (Robert Knepper) moves heaven and earth to recapture the memories of his late brother Joseph. Elsewhere, Matt (Greg Grunberg) struggles with his internal demons as Sylar (Zachary Quinto) mysteriously resurfaces. Jack Coleman also stars. Assaf Cohen and Rick Worthy also guest star.

TONIGHT at 8PM on NBC!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where Are They Now (BSG Edition)

Mo Ryan at the Chicago Tribune talks about a charity project involving Katee Sackhoff, and runs down the current activities of Battlestar Galactica's writers, producers and cast... people are managing to keep pretty busy!

http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/
entertainment_tv/2009/09/katee-sackhoff-24-battlestar.html

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Proof Of Goodness In The World #5

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is stately, elegiac, compelling movie. I've seen it five times and intend to see it again.

The Black Knight Marvel Masterworks (Atlas era) hardcover! Reprints all of the great Black Knight stories from the 1950's, with art by Joe Maneely, Jack Kirby and others.

The brand new CD by pop master David Grahame! It appears to be untitled and has only two very long melody tracks, so there are multiple songs, but you can't skip through them. Hmm!! Only 75 copies (!) produced, order quick from notlame.com!

There is a table at the El Cholo restaurant in Santa Monica where, if you're lucky enough to be seated there, you automatically get free nachos!

The My Name Is Bruce 12" action figure is due out any day now!

Star Trek The Original Series Season 2 - blu-ray! Shipping this week!

There's a brand new Jason (Jellyfish) Falkner CD, All Quiet On The Noise Floor! It's only been released in Japan, but it's also available at notlame.com!

The Psychedelic Furs are touring!

The new issue of Beatlefan is out... I really enjoy the fanzine-ey feel of this mag!

More goodness to come!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun With Steven Seagal

One thing I always admired about the early Seagal movies, in a "gee, how come he can get away with it" fashion, was the way he would break out of various death traps. Sad screenwriters like yours truly spend hours wracking our brains trying to figure out clever and new ways for our characters to evade, escape, discover, unleash and generally "do stuff", but Mr. Seagal often eschewed all that nonsense for the direct approach.

In Above The Law, Steve gets captured by the evil Henry Silva and his henchmen, who bind Steven to a chair with plastic handcuffs (like the zip-ties police use), shoot him full of some noxious drug and quasi-strangle him with a cord. Pretty tough situation, huh?

How does Steven escape? Well, he feigns being dazed by the drug, then, when Henry's guard is down, he summons up super-human strength, snaps the plastic ties and kills everyone in the room.

In Marked For Death, Steven is captured by the unfortunately named "Screwface" and strapped to the floor for some serious killin'. But when the going gets tough, guess what? Steven summons up that super-human strength again, snaps the straps and kills everyone in the room.

But this isn't just limited to old Steven Seagal movies. In the very entertaining Taken, Liam Neeson is captured by the bad guys and hand-cuffed to a metal steam pipe in the bowels of a pleasure cruiser. Liam's about to be strangled when, *whew*, the pipe breaks (!) and he, well, kills everyone in the room.

I guess the good guy deserves a break here and there, but really? The pipe breaks? But I guess we have made some progress, since super-human strength was not employed, but still... I don't think I could get away with it!

Headlines You Don't Want To See...

"Insane Killer Escapes During Field Trip." Things must be exciting in Spokane today!

http://news.aol.com/article/insane-killer-phillip-arnold-paul/676297

It reminds me of the headline I saw many years ago when I was living in the Highland Park area of Los Angeles. "Highland Park - Gang And Satanist Hub Of Los Angeles". At least we were famous for something...

Friday, September 18, 2009

HEROES IS (almost) BACK - Season 4, "Redemption"

Season four kicks off this MONDAY on NBC at 8:00PM with a two, count 'em, two hour premiere. When last we touched base with our intrepid crew, Senator Nathan Petrelli had been murdered by the relentlessly nasty Sylar. Usually that would be the end of the road for a character, but Nathan's Mother Angela was having none of it. She convinced Matt Parkman to use his mental abilities to plant Nathan's personality and memories into a defeated Sylar, who then shape-shifted into Nathan's form. She got her son back, but...

Now, most of the time when you implant another person's memories into a super-powered serial killer, everything works out just fine. But this being Heroes, it probably won't surprise anyone to learn that a glitch or two develops...

But that's just one story! All your faves are back, including Claire, H.R.G., Peter, plus there's an intriguing new "force" in the Heroes world, led by the charismatic Samuel (played by Robert Knepper). And a new friend for young Claire...

I resumed my consulting producer position on the show around episode 7 of this season, so I get to enjoy the first few episodes a (small) step removed. "My" first episode for this season, co-written with my very good friend and fellow Cantina margarita connoisseur Rob Fresco (it's only a block away from the studio, and oh so convenient!), started shooting today. It features some really fun/bizarre/intriguing/emotional scenes. Unfortunately, even running down the cast list might give something away, so... I won't. You'll have to watch it!

That's HEROES! NBC! Monday at 8:00PM! In living color! HD! Be there!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jim Carroll R.I.P.

Poet/novelist turned rocker turned spoken word performer Jim Carroll died of a heart attack on 9/11 at age 60. The Basketball Diaries, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, was based on his life and book, but I was a big fan of his short-lived rock and roll career. His three studio "song" albums, Catholic Boy, I Write Your Name and Dry Dreams, are all sadly out of print, but there's a pretty good "greatest hits" compilation still available. Probably his most famous song was "People Who Died", which I'm sure will be used as a semi-snarky headline on a few obits...

60. WAAAAY too young.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Proof Of Goodness In The World #4

Beatles remastered! I don't like the box the stereo set comes in, but otherwise, the new editions are definitely sharper and cleaner and probably as good as they're going to get until the next wave of sound reproduction technology kills CDs. And that's really good! (The sound, not the death of CDs.)

Magazines like Mojo are full of Beatles articles!

Cinema Retro's new issue is totally devoted to Where Eagles Dare, one of the greatest and most blood-thirsty war movies of all time. Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton!

I'm having my original Argentinean "Plan 9 From Outer Space" one-sheet framed!

A week and a half until Heroes premieres!

Charles Bronson in The Mechanic and Chato's Land have been on the MGM HD channel! I am gaining new respect for director Michael Winner, really! Talk about your downbeat, terse, morally complicated movies! (And not just because Bronson plays the unlikeliest Apache ever in Chato's Land.)

Michael Mann's Thief, also in high-def!

The Yayhoos (a band) covered the O'Jay's "Love Train" on their last album, and it's great!

Green envelopes! (WGA members who get residuals will know what THAT means!)

The paperback novelization of The Werewolf Versus The Vampire Woman, by Arthur Scarm, is amazing!

It's Friday! That means it's margarita night!

More goodness soon!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

My Name Is Bruce and Battlestar Galactica are SCREAMING

The inimitable Bruce Campbell (well, I suppose he IS imitable, on some level, but... oh never mind) has been nominated for "Best Horror Actor" for his fine work in a little movie I like to call My Name Is Bruce. It appears just about any screw-head can vote (I just did!), so feel free to visit their site and make Mr. Campbell the apple o' your Scream Award eye!

http://www.spike.com/event/scream2009/page/vote/category/33657

Speaking of inimitable, Battlestar Galactica is also up for three Screams -- best science fiction project, Katee Sackhoff for Best Science Fiction Actress and the whole darn cast for Best Ensemble! Vote vote vote!

Writing Stuff...

A few days ago I was chatting with a fellow with a long background in "the biz" who had recently shifted more into the writing arena. He was having trouble getting going on a project and asked for my advice.

Mistake number one is asking ME for advice. There's a reason the Wikipedia entry on "well adjusted movie and TV writers" is blank... we're all a swirl of mixed emotions, self-doubt, casual/cocky self-assuredness mixed with grim dark nights of the soul. Anyone who says different is lying. And if they're not lying, I hate them.

(Note: this is not whining. Writing for a living definitely beats spreading asphalt, working at McDonalds and fixing copying machines, just three of my pre-writing jobs. I fully appreciate how fortunate I am to have actually managed a career in this insane field. Though I did get all the free hamburgers I could eat when I was working at Macs...)

Anyhow, my advice to my friend was pretty simple. Just start. Sit in front of the computer, type the title and then write something, anything to get the ball rolling. Fully understanding that those first words will probably never make it to the final script, let alone to the screen.

Breaking the ice is always the hardest, and it doesn't get any easier even after many years and many scripts. In fact it may get a little harder, because if experience teaches anything, it's that writing this stuff is hard. So you're not just looking at the project when you're starting, but you have a full understanding of the amount of thought and butt-in-the-office-chair time it's going to take to finish something worth reading. The trick is to STOP thinking about that and just keep going...

And if you can't get started, you can always kick-start the process by writing on your blog, he said optimistically...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

168,178,179.

That's how many books have entered the world as of last Friday, according to the "metadata" division at Google. How they divined this figure is another story, but as always, there are issues and complications afoot...

http://www.samefacts.com/2009/09/technology-and-society/168178719/

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Proof Of Goodness In The World - #3

The Twin Peaks two hour pilot has been playing on a high def channel and it's as cool as I remember.

Criterion just released a new 2 DVD edition of My Dinner With Andre, with a second disc of commentary. It's still in the wrapper so I can't comment on the transfer or the extras, but I'm still excited. Andre is one of my favorite movies!

Cheap Trick has released a live CD of the band doing the entire Sgt. Pepper album, Cheap Trick style. Me like.

The Bottle Rockets, "Lean Forward." It's a CD, produced by Eric Ambel, and it's darn good in that roots rock/kick ass way.

Glenn Beck is still losing sponsors!

Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield (creepy music from The Exorcist), 2009 remaster/remix, with the original mix included on a second CD.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are still touring!

Under The Covers 2 by Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs. Very cool covers of various 70's-ish songs by two very good singer-songwriters.

The Norton Records company. They put out such amazing stuff, from Hasil Atkins to a 3 CD Benny Joy (!) collection. Buy things from them so they keep releasing stuff -- www.nortonrecords.com.

Not Lame music finds the greatest power-pop music in the world! Support them! www.notlame.com!

Guy Ritchie's Snatch (hmm, that doesn't sound right!) is coming out on Blu-Ray Dec. 1!

Star Trek Season 2 (the Shatner original, for Christ's sake!) on Blu-Ray is coming soon!

Heroes Season Three Blu-Ray is out now!

And finally, there's a 3 day weekend!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Twitter...

I had zero interest in Twitter, tweeting or twitter-ing until I saw this... the url is self-explanatory.

http://twitter.com/shitmydadsays

(I was directed toward this site from Andrew Sullivan's blog "The Daily Dish, at http://www.andrewsullivan.com/)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Inglourious Basterds

Well, I liked it. After studiously avoiding as much press as possible (and yet still having the ending spoiled at some point), I decided to check a few reviews post-viewing to see what the hoi polloi had to say. Most of the notices were favorable, but a few complained about the movie's lengthy running time and meandering pace.

I guess I'm not part of the "cut every two seconds, please" generation, because I enjoyed the leisurely pacing, especially since in this movie, unlike others I shant mention (*cofDeath Proof*cof) the pacing built to some pretty impressive drama and/or violence.

Others have mentioned the opening sequence, which is an amazing piece of writing and staging and acting considering 9/10ths of it involves a couple of guys sitting at a table. But then you're reading the very exciting thoughts of a guy who has seen My Dinner With Andre at least five times, and could handle another viewing right this minute! What's impressive about Basterds is that there are at least two other sequences just as involving and compelling.

And I have to say, without revealing any plot points, that I love the audaciousness of the storyline. Didn't like the way World War Two played out? Well maybe it's time for a rewrite! Next up for Q.T., the Titanic misses that iceberg and Lincoln ducks!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Parking...

This piece by Mark Evanier...

http://www.newsfromme.com/archives/2009_08_14.html#017554

...reminds me of a couple of parking related incidents I noticed while working on various studio lots. I had a great office at Universal for several years that overlooked a lot packed with famous names. I am not ashamed to admit I'm still a star-gazer ("hey, was that Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats?!") so this was a fun place to wile away the writing hours.

I will note that it is always a mistake to park in someone else's marked spot. I used to think this wasn't such a big deal until I got my own spot, and someone inevitably parked there when I was running late and/or was in a bad mood. If I hadn't been a bad mood before, the stolen space would definitely put me there. In his piece, Mark Evanier mentions being blocked in by an *ahem* important movie star who was too busy to leave his keys with the parking valet (now THAT'S busy!), but I've seen considerably worse.

One time a sad messenger parked in a movie star's spot to drop off a package... at exactly the wrong moment. Said movie star rolled in and deliberately parked behind the guy (blocking half the driveway, I might add), caging the messenger in then refusing to give anyone to the keys to move his car for two hours. For the first fifteen minutes I thought the movie star was justified, but after that it was just mean...

The most dramatic incident, involving the same parking impaired star, came one evening when I happened to be giving a friend a tour of the lot. We were coming back to my office when I saw a familiar Land Rover pulling out. "Hey, look," I said, "that's ***** ****!" My pal was suitably impressed and we both watched as ***** backed out, and out, and out -- until he smashed into the parked car behind him! There was a clatter of broken glass, then ***** gunned it and got outta there! Moments later, a woman ran out of the building in disbelief. Her car had taken the hit and she wanted to know who did it. "It was ***** ****," I said, and her face fell. She knew there really wasn't much she could do about the damage at that point.

Ahh... memories...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

More Examples Of Goodness In This World...

Law and Order: Criminal Intent -- marathon!

International Pop Overthrow Vol. 12 was just released. 3 CDs of brand new pop rock, a great sampler (70 tracks! 70 bands!), and CHEAP. Available from notlame.com!

Blu-ray Battlestar Galactica. I finally was able to watch an episode from season 4.5. My jaw dropped, as usual, at the insanely great work by our special FX crew.

Tubular Bells Special Edition. I love the Exorcist-ey feel I get when I put this one. Remastered and rejiggered by maestro Oldfield himself!

30,000 (!) songs on the i-pod!

Talking Points Memo (the website)!

Elvis Costello on August 18th at the Greek!

The Hard Case Crime paperback reissue series. Dozens of classic and new crime novels, with very cool covers!

District 9 looks good!

More goodness as it accumulates...

Sunday, August 02, 2009

More Proof Of Goodness - Battlestar Wins TCA Award

The Television Critics have spoken, and Battlestar Galactica won their "Program Of The Year" award for 2008.

http://www.thrfeed.com/2009/08/battlestar-galactica-tca-.html

Speaking of Battlestar, the packaging on the "Complete Series" box-sets (both Blu-Ray and regular DVD) is pretty amazing. I haven't actually rewatched any of the episodes (hey -- I lived 'em!) but if the high def quality is anything like the HD broadcasts, I'm sure they look swell.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Proof There Is A Goodness In This World

Roadhouse is out on Blu-Ray!

Jerry Lee Lewis, "Live In Hamburg" on CD. One of the best live rock shows EVER!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are still touring!

Russ Heath won a lifetime achievement award at this year's ComicCon (at 85!) and I was able to buy two incredible watercolor comic book cover recreations from the man!

"Little Arrows" by Leapy Lee! (It's a song, he's a singer.)

Crab won-tons at Duke's in Malibu!

Margaritas (straight up, no ice) at El Coyote!

Amoeba Records is only four blocks from the Heroes offices!

Ditto the Arclight Cinemas!

The Battlestar Galactica Season 4 CD by Bear McCreary!

377 days of music on the ol' i-pod!

Dave Brubeck is still touring (at 89)!

Paul McCartney is still touring!

"12 In A Room" by Mark Johnson (it's a CD, he's writes and sings)!

The Daily Show!

Mr. Majestyk with Charles Bronson was on HD-TV!

The new Star Trek movie was good!

A Japanese CD reissue of the Talking Heads "Speaking In Tongues" album complete with the original limited edition (and now tiny!) Robert Rauschenberg graphics!

MORE SOON!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Comicon 2009

Even though I spent a lot of time working (on scripts) at the show, I did venture out into the throng a few times, and a good time was had by all. The Heroes carnival, which happened to be directly across the street from my hotel, was fun and almost always jammed with kids (and parents)... it felt like a small measure of "innocence" in an otherwise sexed up media world.

Since all days of the show were sold out long in advance, there really weren't any "better" or "worse" times to browse... though I will say 9:00AM Friday was amazing. The halls were virtually empty that early and I was able to see a few of the monster booths sans the massive crush.

However, I was turned away from the Sunday Smallville panel because it had filled up immediately and I couldn't locate any (ahem) bigshots to sneak me in. Even the "but I worked on the first three seasons" card didn't work. How soon they forget... oh well. In an amusing coincidence, I was going out to dinner with friends when I got a message from my pal Kelly Souders at Sville inviting me to dinner with their cast and crew. As it turns out, my dinner and theirs were at the same restaurant (!) so two birds and all that...

As usual there have been some postmortem evaluations moaning about the crowds, deriding the "geeks" and all the rest. I guess people have to write about something, but if you don't like that, why go? It's not like any of the news that erupts from the convention doesn't make it on-line instantaneously anyway. And it's not like you haven't been warned that the show is crowded.

The Heroes panel was well attended and the roars from the crowd much appreciated. I've just resumed my part-time consulting duties (the rest of the staff is well into the season) and as usual I am impressed by what's come before and hope to help out with what's coming after...

Ultimately, my only complaints about Comicon this year are that the hotel was pretty darn expensive, and the traffic getting out of town Sunday night was insane. But I knew all THAT going in too, so what the hey...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Harvey Frand

Very sad news... Harvey Frand, the line producer for Battlestar Galactica, passed away yesterday. Harvey kept the production train on the tracks and was hugely responsible for physically making the show. He was also a gentleman, and a gentle man... truly one of a kind. He will be missed.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Basil Wolverton

There's a great article in today's (7/23) New York Times about the wonderful artist Basil Wolverton, whose inspired, lunatic illustrations certainly impacted a young "me" back in the day. There is a gallery show in NYC of Wolverton's drawings and if I had the time I would consider a trip just to take them in.

In a side note, I was lucky enough "as a youth" to actually chat with Mr. Wolverton. He lived in Vancouver Washington, just across the Columbia River from my hometown of Portland, and a relative had met him and mentioned my fascination with all things comics. Imagine my delight when I got a call from Wolverton one evening (this must have been around 1970), where we discussed his art and, as I recall, the details of various wrestlers working the Portland circuit back in the day.

There are several elegant collections of Wolverton's work available, including his truly frightening and apocalyptic Bible series, and they're all worth checking out. Fantagraphics.com is a great place to start. Me, I'm hoping that Marvel eventually gives the deluxe hardcover treatment to Powerhouse Pepper, Wolverton's short-lived (five issues) comic book series from the 1940's.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bear and BSG In San Diego

For those brave enough to risk the congestion of ComicCon, remember to check out the three, count 'em, three Battlestar concerts taking place at the San Diego House Of Blues, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday night's show is being hosted by Edward James Olmos, Friday is Eddie + Grace Park, and Saturday will be Grace's turn. If you enjoyed BSG's music, you will love this concert!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Updates...

Nothing much to update, I've been in head-down, finish some scripts mode for quite some time now, and that's not going to change anytime soon. I'm guessing there will be news on at least one of the feature projects soon, but until it's officially unleashed, I still can't talk. To quote Plan 9 From Outer Space, "I'm muzzled by Army brass!!" Actually, I'm not, but you get the picture.

But on other fronts, I am told that the fine program Heroes will be doing a presentation at this year's San Diego Con, and with any luck I'll be sitting in the crowd with friends and fans enjoying the festivities. The convention is always a fun, though my time there will be circumvented by the realities of the workaday world. (Not complaining, just explaining...) But definitely come by the Heroes adventure if you get a chance...

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sanford/Baltar...

The seductive powers of the Cylon are awesome indeed...

http://crooksandliars.com/bluegal/open-thread-199

Friday, June 26, 2009

What's New...

I'm still in hunker-down writing mode, but I occasionally come up for air (like a mole peeking out of his hole) and here's what I've dragged back to my undisclosed location recently...

NEW SPINAL TAP... "Back From The Dead." For reasons only the great ones understand, the Spinal Tap folks have re-recorded their first album with some new (and some familiar) arrangements, tossed in a couple of jazz improvs and a few new tracks, and sent it out in a cool CD jacket with pop-up dolls of the band. I like it, but I'm not tossing the original CD out. Of course I don't toss ANYTHING out...

NEW (old) REM... "Reckoning." Their second album has been given the ultra-deluxe edition treatment, which basically means a live show circa the era has been included. Being an old geez, I like their old stuff more than their new stuff so this is welcome...

NEW (old) FRIDAY THE 13th PART III in 3-D. Just out on Blu-Ray, it's not exactly classic cinema (in fact it's probably one of the least interesting Fridays, and we're not talking about a high bar in the first place), but the 3-D actually seems to work, more or less, on a larger screen.

NEW (old) DR. STRANGELOVE on Blu-Ray. Brilliant movie, and this is an exquisite transfer. I love wide-screen black and white. General Ripper's glint never looked more demonic...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ketchup...

It's been awhile since my last post... times flies when you're working like a madman! There have been some cool developments on the "active project" front but until it's all official, "move along, nothing to see here."

What else?

- Everyone should watch VIRTUALITY, the sci-fi series pilot by Ron Moore and Michael Taylor. It's on Fox FRIDAY NIGHT, June 26, and though I haven't seen it yet, given the pedigree I'm betting it's pretty darn good.

- San Diego Con is almost upon us (already), and barring disaster I hope to walk the halls again. I haven't missed a show since 1983, which is a little scary. At this point I'm not doing anything "official," but if that changes I'll post it. Otherwise I'll just be enjoying sunny San Diego and an insanely crowded convention center. Incidentally, if you haven't already picked up tickets, you may be out of luck... the entire show sold out a few weeks ago. However, I read an interview with one of the convention coordinators who said tickets sometimes become available closer to the show as folks/businesses cancel, plans change, etc.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Battlestar UNDER The Stars...

I don't get out much these days, but this I refuse to miss. Battlestar composer Bear McCreary's bringing an orchestra to perform music from the series in a lovely outdoor venue, and the best part in these economically dicey times? It's free!

7:00 PM, Saturday night, June 13, in downtown Los Angeles. Details below:

http://www.grandperformances.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/season_schedule.show_detail/s_id/312

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ash Saves Obama...

I'm guessing that when Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell collectively created the Evil Dead series and the character of Ash, not even their devious minds could have foreseen this:

http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/p-C725130125354.html

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MGM HD

I've been checking out the programming on the MGM HD channel recently, intrigued by the eclectic selection. I find myself really enjoying black and white films in high def (Casablanca on Blu-Ray is amazing). I am constantly amazed at the level of detail that was captured on film, but never really savored until now because of the degradation involved in transfers, television broadcast signals, etc. Even movies like Revenge of the Zombies (John Carradine!) or Curse Of The Faceless Man are visual treats. You can see nicks and scratches on the cheap props, the bad make-up, scratches on the vintage cars... just an incredible amount of detail.

MGM HD also has a show called "From The Vaults" that basically cobbles together interviews and "making of's" from DVD releases and voila,, 1/2 hour show. These are fun too, still they distill what can often be many hours of supplemental material into a brief, easily digestible chunk. And the rest of the stuff is still available on the DVDs if one is inclined to dig deeper.

But the fact that Curse Of The Faceless Man is available in high def pleases me no end.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hitler Goes To Springsteen...

First he was upset because Battlestar was ending, now he's confronted by the challenge of getting good tickets to the Boss. What's a murderous dictator to do?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGJpu5AiYoE

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Mega Shark V.S. Giant Octopus

You know, I've long felt that movie titles have been getting too oblique. "No Country for Old Men", "There Will Be Blood", I mean, that's all very nice but you're not selling the sizzle, gents.

No such problem with Mega Shark V.S. Giant Octopus, a straight to DVD release from the fine folks at Asylum Pictures. I guess this might constitute a spoiler, but there is a mega shark AND a giant octopus in this movie.

Unfortunately, there's not a LOT of them. However, there are many scenes of stars Deborah Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas sitting in various submarine looking contraptions looking for/studying/tracking and discussing mega sharks and giant octopuses. And there are two, count 'em, two sequences involving different Naval Captains making lamentably poor command decisions regarding the creatures. If there's a Navy Captain Professional Organization (you know, their La Raza), they might want to lodge a protest. Because according to this movie, military procedure is to fire a few shots at marauding mega-sharks, declare without any proof that the thing is "dead," then get shaky and fearful when it isn't. Not exactly inspiring, especially when it happens twice. And talk about career ending. A mega-shark bites your aircraft carrier in two, I'm guessing that call to join the Joint Chiefs may never come...

Finally, mega-sharks are clearly not very bright, because they like to attack and eat jumbo jets (in flight!), oil platforms, aircraft carriers and the Golden Gate bridge. I am dubious of the nutritional value in any of these "kills," though this dietary faux-pas may explain why the species eventually went extinct...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mark, CNN, Battlestar, Optimism?!

Check the link for a nice little CNN piece on how science fiction deals with technology. Yours truly offers a few comments on BSG's take on tech and "etc."

http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/science/05/29/jetpack/index.html

(thanx for Jake for the tip!)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dinotopia, Light, Concrete, Battlestar...

James Gurney, creator of Dinotopia and former next-door neighbor, has put up a photo of the "crest" from my first apartment complex after moving to Los Angeles. "The Golden Palms." I wish I could say this had me waxing nostalgic, but truth be told, that place was a real dump. And moving out was one of the sweeter moments of my L.A. sojourn... in the hour it took to load up the rental truck, we were "decorated" by a tagger!

Other memories include catching a tenant selling guns out of the trunk of his car, the night a biker gang decided to party in the courtyard, death threats against a very good friend after he caught a gang member stealing a barbecue (!), and several blood-soaked evenings when "things got out of hand" between assorted tenants. I remember fondly the night I walked up the driveway past puddles of blood to find a drunken tenant being restrained by ambulance attendants... he had severed a vein after punching through his ex-wife's front window. Ahh, memories...

http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2009/05/gp-golden-palms.html

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Criminal Neglect...

I was getting pretty good at this blogging thing, but the real world went and smacked me with a ton of work and suddenly blogging is down with "re-grouting the bathroom fixtures" on my daily to-do list. How does a week go by without a single entry? One answer: "easy." When I finally come up for air, I may need a couple sessions with IN TREATMENT'S "Dr. Paul" to straighten myself out.

Speaking of which, I have indeed recently discovered the HBO series IN TREATMENT and find it quite compelling. There's something dreamy and soothing about a show that is essentially all talk. I find myself drifting off at night to emotional tumult about the past, father issues, struggles with cancer and aging... but the tone of the show is so congenial, it's like listening to muzak versions of the Dead Kennedys. This is not a put down, by the way... I think the writing and acting is all top notch. I just find it perversely relaxing...

Oh well. Once I finish the "major project" currently on my plate, hopefully I can get back into the groove of things...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Earthquake!

So there we were, enjoying a lovely Sunday dinner and "silent auction" in support of Homeless Healthcare for Los Angeles, when another rumbler hit. Seems like all I have to do is leave my bunker and the heavens decide to unleash (last time there was a quake, I was trying to watch Gran Torino at a local theater!). Since we were outside in a garden setting surrounded by high rise office buildings, someone wondered if we should duck under our plastic banquet tables. If the quake started taking down fifty story buildings, it seemed unlikely that the tables would offer much protection...

Perhaps most intriguingly, the speakers didn't even feel the shaker and just kept going... a few more Manhattans and I might have been in the same boat!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

City Hall...

I hope Springsteen covers "I Fought The Law" again, because hey baby, it fits! Long time readers of this blog will remember my outrage over a traffic ticket I received for illegally using my cell phone... except I wasn't illegally using it, I had an earpiece in, and the cop refused to acknowledge it. Before you could say "ATTICA, ATTICA", I determined to fight this to my last breath. Or, in this case, with a brief written statement challenging the ticket...

Long story short... actually, it's a short story already... I won! There was no explanation offered (or copious apology from the miscreant police officer), but evidently my terse explanation was enough to warm the heart of the Judicial Officer.

And now, the joy of breathing FREE AIR once more...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Wanna Be Springsteen-adated...

Many fans are suggesting the current Springsteen tour is one of the best runs ever, and I've gotta agree. There's a crazy, anything goes spirit to the shows, totally infectious and uplifting and all that good rock and roll stuff.

Most fun (for me), Springsteen has been doing a lot of wild cover songs in a "stump the band" segment. Some really cool, never before played tunes. For a taste, check out Springsteen's official site. Right now, they've got a frustratingly edited video of the band doing "Expressway To Your Heart," but you never know what's coming next. Other covers this tour included the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated", the Clash's "London Calling", the Troggs' "Wild Thing", Johnny Rivers' "Seventh Son", "Hang on Sloopy" (!) -- the hits just coming!

The videos don't stay up for long, so you need to check back to the site fairly frequently for a full dose of Springsteen-iana. Clearly they are recording every show from the tour, so here's hoping there's another official "live record" to commemorate this stand...

http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New Smithereens - TOMMY Can You Hear Me?

The great band The Smithereens have been releasing new CDs at a remarkable clip the last couple of years, and this latest is another stellar effort. After issuing two CDs of Beatles covers (as well as lead singer Pat DiNizio's tribute to Buddy Holly earlier this year), the Smithereens have tackled The Who is fine form. The new CD won't take the place of the original "Tommy", but it's a worthy adjunct. And a fantastic piece of work from drummer Dennis Diken, who does some amazing stuff here.

Oh, and there's a really cool cover by artist Bill Stout...

I understand the boys are working on an original CD for release this Fall, but until then, this will do...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Martyrs... the mini review... (vague spoilers)

I was in the mood to despair for humanity the other night, so I took a look at the new French horror film Martyrs. It's being hyped as the most horrifying movie ever made, grisly beyond belief, gut-churning, wrenching, etc, etc. The director even shot an introduction where he sort of apologizes for going too far.

Well, okay. "Methinks he doth protest too much." While I'll admit I didn't guess where the movie was going, that speaks more to my lack of interest in the journey than any great revelations. What starts as a variation on Death Wish soon morphs into one of your basic extreme horror tropes. Despite assurances that this isn't just another example of "torture porn", umm, it kinda IS torture porn. Young women doing degrading things, check. Brutal torturers doing brutal torture, check. Chains and weird metal restraints, double check! Over-the-top torture violence, grotesque make-up and ersatz profundity to wrap things up in the now cliche "no hope" finale, you betcha!

I'm thinking this genre is pretty much worn out at this point... like the four or five year spate of Italian cannibal movies that came out in the late 70's/early 80's, eventually it's tough to top yourself. There's only so much to be mined from the "chain 'em in a room and give 'em hell" plot...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Names, names, names...

For reasons too obscure to mention, I was poking around the Battlestar Wiki and found an entry for a character named Stan Gibson. Stan went unnamed on screen, but that was the name we gave the mop-boy at the end of the episode "Final Cut."

One of the fun things about working in television (or comics) is using the names of friends for villains, monsters, heroes or whatever. "Stan" is in fact an old, old friend from Oregon who has turned up one way or another in just about every television series I've done. Perhaps his best appearance was on an episode of The Strip (short-lived UPN show about PI's in Las Vegas) where "Stan," a nice nordic lad from the Northwest, somehow transformed into a Japanese wrestling fan.

But there were other name checks on BSG. The "Shevon" character from "Black Market" was named for a very nice fan up in Oregon named Siobhan (we bastardized the spelling in the script because so many people didn't know how to pronounce it). D'Anna Biers (also in "Final Cut") was a David Eick request, and I'm pretty sure the other writers populated their scripts with equally personal choices. Just a little fun fact as I wile away another day at the computer...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

The Corbomite Maneuver...

The first season of Star Trek "the original series" has just been released on Blu-Ray, in a swanky edition that includes both the original episode and the new, remaster/updated version with new FX. This is now the third time I've bought Trek DVDs, but the Blu-Ray high-def transfer is pretty amazing. (I picked up the one season of HD DVDs released in 2007, but never had a chance to see those transfers.) When you can see every hair on Spock's arm and the pits in Sulu's cheeks (under the make-up), you're getting into some SERIOUS high definition.

I don't have time to go through all the episodes, but I did check out one of my favorites, "The Corbomite Maneuver." Aside from interesting direction by Joseph Sargent and excellent remastered special FX (though the original work was excellent), this one always caught my attention because the crew of the Enterprise gets so darn pissy. When you think of Trek, you usually remember the (mostly) good-natured bickering between the characters, but in Corbomite they're on each other big time.

The conflict begins when Kirk's getting a shirtless check-up in sickbay and McCoy doesn't bother telling him there's a red alert (!). Frankly, I would have been irritated too, but this is TV, aren't they supposed to be nice to each other? But no, Kirk angrily barks at McCoy and storms off to attend to business. (Though on his way to the bridge he decides he has time to change his clothes before dealing with the intergalactic menace.) That more or less sets the tone for the crankiness to come...

This episode also features a quirky performance by Anthony D. Call as "Bishop", a clearly over-his-head navigator who prompts a lot of the emotional angst. Dr. McCoy believes Kirk has promoted this kid too quickly, and when Bishop freaks out on Spock over his emotionless reaction to the death threat issued from a gigantic alien spacecraft, you start thinking McCoy's right. But Bones isn't great at picking his moments. With the clock ticking down to total destruction (the aliens gave the Enterprise crew ten Earth minutes to "pray to their Deity" before blowing them to smithereens) and Captain Kirk trying to sweat out a defense, the Doctor picks THAT instant to give Kirk crap about pushing Bishop too hard (!). Kirk yells at Bones, he yells at Spock, and when Yeoman Rand enters in the midst of all this with a carafe of coffee (!) interrupting yet another moment of decision, you're thinking, wow, even Obama would be tempted to pop off at these guys.

It all works out in the end, of course, and I think audiences excuse the petulance because Corbomite also has one of the great Kirk saves, as in "not Chess, Spock -- poker!" But the oddness is probably why it sticks in my mind...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

THE LAST CHAPTER - HEROES 4/27/09!

Once again, the word-smashers at NBC/Universal say it succinctly! "The Invisible Thread", written by Tim Kring, directed by Greg Beeman, watched by you (and me)!

AS “VOLUME 4: FUGITIVES” COMES TO A CLOSE, THE FIGHT TO STOP SYLAR HAS CONSEQUENCES THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING

Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) faces off against Sylar (Zachary Quinto) to keep him from meeting the President (guest star Michael Dorn). Sylar has his own plans for his new partner. Meanwhile, Hiro (Masi Oka) learns that there are repercussions to regaining his ability. Elsewhere, Matt (Greg Grunberg) is forced to go to extraordinary lengths to protect his future with his family.

Zeljko Ivanek and Michael Dorn guest star.


Some major shocks are in store! MONDAY NIGHT at 9:00PM on NBC!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Somebody's Getting Creative (BSG Related)...

I'm not quite sure why these are being done, but they are oddly compelling...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D72KuDNRos8

Monday, April 20, 2009

TONIGHT on HEROES! 9:00 PM ON NBC!

Tonight - "I Am Sylar." Written by Adam Armus and Kay Foster! Sinister things are afoot as Sylar gets a little... wonky. And since he's a serial-killing mad-man, that's not good! It all leads up to a seriously intense season finale next week...

The NBC PR folks once again create a synopsis with skill!

SYLAR’S NEW ABILITY BEGINS TO TAKE ITS TOLL ON HIM

Sylar continues his unusual partnership and begins to have an unexpected identity crisis. Hiro and Ando take measures toward bringing down Building 26. Meanwhile, Matt’s new found fatherhood changes his priorities. Elsewhere, Nathan sets a plan in motion to right the wrongs of his government operation.

Noah Gray-Cabey, Lisa Lackey, Ellen Greene and Ċ½eljko Ivanek guest star.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Shane Black Is Right...

Creative Screenwriting sends me an e-mail every Friday, usually with a quote from some professional on the movie racket. For some reason today's hit a chord:

"Here's what I didn't know when I was starting out that I now know…I thought when you were starting out it was really hard to write because you hadn't broken in yet, you hadn't really hit your stride yet. What I found out paradoxically is that the next script you write doesn't get easier because you wrote one before…each one gets harder by a factor of 10."
– Shane Black

Yep.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

TONIGHT on CBS - CSI! By guys I know!

I've been in hunkered-down writer-guy mode for awhile now, but that doesn't mean I don't occasionally come up for air. Between plotting how to personally secede from the union (Texas Governor Rick Perry owes me an e-mail!), throwing out my blue jeans (George Will doesn't like them! http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/6375695.htm) and going to see Springsteen (also tonight!), I've got to point out something cool on television!

Tonight, on CSI! AKA "Crime Scene Investigation." AKA, that show that just keeps going and going and going...

But forget all that! Tonight's episode was written by my good buddies David Weddle and Bradley Thompson and directed by the extraordinarily talented all-around good guy Michael Nankin. Battlestar fans will certainly recognize these names, and it appears the apple doesn't fall far from the Galactica tree. Tonight's show is set at a science fiction convention and explodes certain, umm, "tropes" regarding reinventing old shows. Check it out, 9:00PM on CBS! Remember, tonight at least, CBS stands for Certain to Be Sensational!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Warner Brothers Archives - DVD On Demand...

I was reading a soundtrack review and discovered that Warner Brothers has started an "archive" division that sells DVDs of some of their older/less popular/less commercial movies "made to order." The titles they're offering run the gamut, from early talkies all the way to films from the 80's. Among others, I ordered "The D.I." starring Jack Webb (and would someone PLEASE release the 1950's Dragnet movie to DVD!), "Rage" with George C. Scott (who better to demonstrate rage than George?) and the unfortunate "Doc Savage" movie from 1975.

The site notes that the titles aren't remastered, but DVDs are burned from the best video masters. I will report on quality when the first batch arrives. Meanwhile, I hope the other studios jump on this bandwagon and offer their own more obscure goodies to the viewing public...

https://www.wbshop.com/Warner-Archive/ARCHIVE,default,sc.html

TONIGHT on HEROES!!

An episode called "1961." Once again, I'll let the crack NBC promotions folks toss up a teaser:

THE HAUNTING SECRETS OF ANGELA PETRELLI’S PAST CAN’T STAY BURIED FOREVER

As Nathan (Adrian Pasdar), Claire (Hayden Panettiere), Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) and H.R.G. (Jack Coleman) help Angela (Cristine Rose) uncover her past, she reveals the dark secrets that have haunted her for years. Meanwhile, Mohinder (Sendhil Ramamurthy) learns of his father’s involvement in a long forgotten government operation. Diana Scarwid, Alexa Nikolas, Laura Marano, Ravi Kapoor, Casey Kringlen, H. Michael Croner and Edwin Hodge guest star.


You wanted something different in your Hero sandwich? Here's different!

And remember, the Heroes For Autism blow-out is THIS SUNDAY, April 19, at the Avalon Ballroom. Auctions, bands, celebrities -- and it's all for a great cause.

Friday, April 10, 2009

AOL Picks 50 Best TV Dramas Of All Time...

These "top 50" lists are, of course, wildly subjective, but this one actually includes older shows (Dragnet, Gunsmoke, Bonanza)... and any list that has the Fightin' Adamas at #12 (one notch behind Deadwood) is okay in my book.

http://television.aol.com/insidetv/2009/03/11/50-best-tv-dramas-ever/?icid=main|main|dl2|link3|http%3A%2F%2Ftelevision.aol.com%2Finsidetv%2F2009%2F03%2F11%2F50-best-tv-dramas-ever%2F

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Famous Monsters Of Filmland Billy Bob Style

Folks sometimes ask me where I, umm, stole the title of this blog. Well, Billy Bob Thornton explores the joys of "Famous Monsters Of Filmland" magazine in this... remarkable interview. The fun starts about five minutes in...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJWS6qyy7bw

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Beatles -- Finally!

From the official Beatles site (thanks to JG for the tip):

http://thebeatles.com/core/news/7th April 2009

Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music are delighted to announce the release of the original Beatles catalogue, which has been digitally re-mastered for the first time, for worldwide CD release on Wednesday, September 9, 2009 (9-9-09), the same date as the release of the widely anticipated "The Beatles: Rock Band" video game. Each of the CDs is packaged with replicated original UK album art, including expanded booklets containing original and newly written liner notes and rare photos. For a limited period, each CD will also be embedded with a brief documentary film about the album. On the same date, two new Beatles boxed CD collections will also be released.

The albums have been re-mastered by a dedicated team of engineers at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London over a four year period utilising state of the art recording technology alongside vintage studio equipment, carefully maintaining the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings. The result of this painstaking process is the highest fidelity the catalogue has seen since its original release.

The collection comprises all 12 Beatles albums in stereo, with track listings and artwork as originally released in the UK, and 'Magical Mystery Tour,' which became part of The Beatles' core catalogue when the CDs were first released in 1987. In addition, the collections 'Past Masters Vol. I and II' are now combined as one title, for a total of 14 titles over 16 discs. This will mark the first time that the first four Beatles albums will be available in stereo in their entirety on compact disc. These 14 albums, along with a DVD collection of the documentaries, will also be available for purchase together in a stereo boxed set.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Quantum Of Contracts...

Obviously I'm a little behind in my film going, since I'm just catching up with the latest James Bond effort, "Quantum Of Solace." It's packed with lots of action and James Bond witticisms, but there was one aspect of the movie that left me puzzled. I suppose this might qualify as a

SPOILER

...so be warned.

A major plot point hinges on the villain convincing a skeezy South American dictator to "sign over" the rights to a huge plot of desert in said dictator's country, in return for various nefarious machinations to keep El Dictator in power. It turns out that the (rather dull witted) dictator thought the desert land was worthless, but our bad guy had found massive amounts of water under the sand. Water that, if controlled by him, would give him power and leverage and all that villainous stuff.

So the dictator eventually (and reluctantly) signs off on the deal, our villain goes "mwah ha haaa" with his freshly minted documents and I'm left thinking -- huh? That bad guy certainly has an inordinate amount of faith in whatever legal system exists in South American dictatorships. Does he honestly think a signature on some scrap of paper is going to be upheld by whatever courts uphold that sort of thing? Sure, there's some chat about "the Quantum" league or group (or whatever the hell they call their criminal cabal) getting medieval on the dictator's ass if he doesn't fall into line, but if threats were all it took to make the deal, why bother with paperwork in the first place?

There are a lot of people who think getting a "signed contract" makes all the difference in the world when it comes to business, but in my experience, contracts are only as good as the parties who sign them and the courts willing to enforce them. If one side or the other decides to renege on a deal, for whatever reason, then generally the side with the most financial wherewithal will triumph. I've certainly had my share of signed contracts that turned out to be unenforceable, and those were usually with fairly reputable corporations, not murderous South American dictators...

Since it was a James Bond movie, the good guys won the day anyway, so we didn't get the sequel, "Quantum Of Courtcase Docket #324589." But I'm sure it would have been exciting!

TONIGHT on HEROES...

"Turn And Face The Strange." No, the episode does not involve a driving school and/or an appearance by Marvel's Dr. Strange. Rather, our old friend and ruthless agent Danko discovers he's provoked one of our Heroes to the breaking point, while Noah "H.R.G." Bennet looks into Sylar's death and gets a surprise visitor.

Written by yours truly and Rob Fresco, directed by Jennot (Supergirl! Jaws 2! Somewhere In Time! My "Perry White" episode of Smallville!) Szwarc!

That's MONDAY NIGHT on NBC, 9:00PM!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

HEROES Keeps On Hero-ing...

I've been in madcap work mode for as long as I can remember, so there's not much to update at the moment (that I can actually write about). HOWEVER...

Heroes Season Three is still finishing up (post-production stuff mostly, shooting is done done done) and there are four pretty great episodes coming your way, if I do say so myself (and I did, so...)

This week's episode, "Turn And Face The Strange", was co-written by yours truly and Rob Fresco, and digs into some heartbreaking turns for two unlikely characters. Rob and I did a "writer's commentary" on the episode that I'm told will be on the internet by midnight Monday, after the episode airs, so if you're into "backstage stuff", there you go! Rob and I desperately tried to work up a rivalry during the writing of the show but instead we (sigh, no story here) managed to work together well AND remain friends.

And while my good friends at Heroes and NBC/Universal would be loathe for me to reveal any of the twists and turns to come, there's some cool stuff coming up. Week after next is "1961," a great episode written by Aron Coleite that presents another intriguing chapter of Hero-lore. Then we get into the big finale episodes. Episode #24, written by Adam Armus and Kay Foster, explores one of our darker characters in a unique and fascinating way and tees up the season finale, written by Tim Kring, which is a total knock out and a shocker. I will say no more... just be prepared for some, *ahem*, startling twists and turns.

I'll say more as we get closer to each air-date, but I just wanted to whet some appetites...

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Things That Make Me Happy...

I have a steadily dwindling list of "music I'd love to see released officially on CD," and I just saw it dwindle a bit more with the announcement that the first two Del-Lords albums ("Frontier Days" and "Johnny Comes Marching Home") are being released at long last, with bonus tracks. Their third record, "Based On A True Story," is also being reissued, though it had an abbreviated CD release back in the day. The fine folks at Collector's Choice Music are doing the honors, and evidently lead singer Scott Kempner has a hand in picking the extra tracks.

The Del-Lords were a breath o' fresh air in the late 80's, straight forward rock and roll with great lyrics. It helps that I met Scott Kempner a few times when he worked (and maybe he still does) at the Amoeba Records store in Los Angeles. His more recent solo CDs are also worth the $$. Anyhow, check out the Del-Lords fun at ccmusic.com.

Now if some enterprising folks would start issuing official CDs of all those Golden Record cartoon albums ("Huckleberry Hound", etc.), the world will settle back on its axis.

Obama Saddened By End Of BSG...

I know just how he feels...

http://www.theonion.com/content/news/obama_depressed_distant_since?utm_
sour%20ce=onion_rss_daily

Monday, March 30, 2009

ON HEROES -- 3/30/09!

The fine folks at NBC/Universal provide the tease once more:

"INTO ASYLUM": NATHAN AND CLAIRE FLEE TO ESCAPE DANKO'S TIGHTENING NET; ANGELA MENDS OLD WOUNDS.

Now that Nathan's (Adrian Pasdar) ability has been revealed and he has lost control of his operation, he and Claire (Hayden Panettiere) go into hiding in Mexico. With Emile Danko (guest star Zeljko Ivanek) now in control of the government operation, his plan to destroy everyone with abilities is set into motion as he teams up with an unlikely partner. Meanwhile, Angela (Cristine Rose) and Peter (Milo Ventimiglia) seek refuge in a church and begin to mend their broken relationship. Kevin Alejandro also guest stars.


The intrigue continues... and next week, my second episode of the season (co-written with Rob Fresco), an emotional episode that goes into the personal toll the government's Fugitives program is taking on some surprising characters.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tip O' The Hat To...

...Logan at the Galactica Sitrep site for an amazing compilation of reviews and comments on the BSG finale episode. Some fascinating and wildly disparate views, ranging from the beatific to "you don't want to see me when I'm mad." Pretty amazing...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

BSG Is Over...

...except for "The Plan" and "Caprica", of course, and the comics, and whatever other ancillary stuff remains in the pipeline. I keep expecting Ferris Bueller to appear somewhere on the edges of the BSG-verse and say "you're still here? It's over! Go home!" Except the truth is, there's always something else...

For instance, being "a writer," I think it would be interesting at some point for the actual episodic scripts to be released. There was always material that was cut on stage or left on the cutting room floor, and the episodes themselves were sometimes restructured. I'm not sure how the scripts would affect "the canon" of the series, yet another topic for spirited debate. Is the series "the series", or is it the extended DVD cut(s), or what? Personally, I'm not sure it matters... more information is just more information, fun for those interested and easily ignored for those who aren't.

And aside from that, the scripts are a fun read. All the writers had different prose styles and intriguing ways of presenting events and characters. I still remember an action line from an Angeli script that described Col. Tigh as a "wrecking ball with whiskers."

So maybe that's a possibility down the line... who knows?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Signs of the Apocalypse

Sean Penn is Larry, Benecio Del Toro is Moe and Jim Carrey is Curly.

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118001643.html?categoryId=13&cs=1&nid=2854

Monday, March 23, 2009

TONIGHT on HEROES!

Once again the fine folks at NBC promotion do the best summary...

THE IDENTITY OF “REBEL” IS REVEALED WITH CHILLING CONSEQUENCES

HRG (Jack Coleman) convinces Emile Danko (guest star Zeljko Ivanek), a.k.a. “The Hunter”, to release Tracy (Ali Larter) from “Building 26,” in hopes that she will lead them to “Rebel.” As Angela (Cristine Rose) evades capture, she turns to an old friend (guest star Swoosie Kurtz) for help. In Los Angeles, Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando (James Kyson Lee) continue on their latest mission from “Rebel” to protect the newest hero.

Brea Grant and David H. Lawrence XVII guest star.


Major changes are afoot in the Hero-verse as the Fugitives arc continues. FYI, my next episode (co-written with the wonderful Rob Fresco), "Turn And Face The Strange", airs in two weeks.

NBC! Monday nights at 9:00PM! It looks fine in standard def but it looks GREAT in high def!

I'm Just Sayin'...

Most overused derisive/dismissive term seen on the internet: "Meh!" I see it and I want to say "meh!"

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Heroes For Autism Benefit!

My friends at Heroes have put together a very fun, very important fundraiser that will support the Autism Speaks group. Live performances by "Band From TV" (what the heck are Matt Parkman and Greg House doing on the same stage?!) and Wendy and Lisa, the fabulous musicians who do the music for Heroes. I'll be there along with many of the stars of Heroes. It's a worthy cause and promises to be a blast of an evening. Full details are available at:

http://www.heroesforautism.com/

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Springsteen and the Finale Episode...

I did a little clicking around the internet and there seems to be much discussion about the last episode of Battlestar Galactica. The fact that there IS discussion, some pro and some con, is a good thing.

I will not wade into the critical arena or debate various judgments, only note that it's hard to imagine a finale episode that could have pleased everyone (though it appears many were moved and thrilled). Bruce Springsteen, of all people, articulated an interesting take on this. He was on the Daily Show Thursday night, and Jon Stewart asked how Springsteen feels when one of his on-stage political comments is met with less enthusiasm than, say, a rousing version of "Born To Run." Paraphrasing, Springsteen said he realizes he has a collection of "audiences" at his shows. Some are there to hear the oldies, some welcome the political dimension, others just want to dance. BSG's audience has (or had, *sob*) the same dichotomy, I suspect... but we could only do one finale episode!

Anyway, I walk away from BSG proud of the work we did, and in the end, that's about as good as it gets in this biz...

Friday, March 20, 2009

TODAY & TONIGHT on Battlestar Galactica

Talk about bittersweet... this is the last time I'll be able to announce a new episode (well, until "The Plan" debuts later this year!). It's been a long, wild ride, but the roller coaster is coming into the platform and it's almost time to get off. Unless you're in the rag-tag fleet, of course, in which case... but that would be telling!

So tonight is the finale, the wrap-up, the end of the series. Daybreak Part 2. Curious what all those flashbacks were about? What is the "hour of your life" that Adama was discussing? How come Lee is suddenly mad at birds? All that and much, much more, because all good things come to those who wait!

For those with time and/or a lot of DVR room, Sci-Fi (or is it SyFy now?) is rerunning a bunch of BSG episodes today, in "regular" and high def. Great way to get caught up and prepped for tonight's 2 hour and eleven minute spectacular (yes, you read that right, so adjust your recorders appropriately!). If you miss it, it looks like it'll be rerun on Saturday March 27th, too...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This is the End... Battlestar Galactica Style...

The cast and crew and extended family will be gathering at an undisclosed location Friday to watch the final episode together and commiserate, discuss, laugh and probably cry a little over the last act of our little drama. I've been buried with work the last few weeks (a good thing!) but it's been fun dragging myself out of the house for all the screenings and get-togethers over the past couple of months. Hollywood and screenwriting can be a pretty cynical business, but I have frequent "pinch me" moments these days, because I've been awfully fortunate in my so-called career. And Battlestar Galactica is definitely a high point.

Sometimes people ask me, what was my favorite script or produced piece of work? My stock answer has always been "the next one", and that's still mostly true -- I'm hopeful that my best work is still in front of me. But jeez, BSG set a pretty high bar. The freedom to deal with the world around us in a science fiction setting was intoxicating and liberating and all that other good stuff, and even better, the people involved were all great.

I'll probably have more to say after the screening, but for now, sit back and enjoy the last episode and hoist one (or two or three) for Galactica!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ron Silver R.I.P.

I only met Mr. Silver a couple of times, but I admired his work and was thrilled when he came on board for Timecop. He played a great villain and his sarcastic performance definitely classed up the joint.

Silver's post 9/11 ideological/political shift was intriguing. I didn't agree with him on most points, but civil disagreement is the great "joy" of democracy. You certainly had no problem understanding where Silver stood on the issues! But regardless of the political vicissitudes, Silver's work will live on. Reversal of Fortune, West Wing, Rhoda (!), all great stuff.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gomorrah & SHM CDs (together for the last time!)

Varied and sundry that has crossed my path recently...

I had a chance to see Gomorrah, a slice of life gangster story from Italy. Except that description doesn't really do it justice; Gomorrah is relentlessly downbeat and thoroughly unromantic. The thugs in the film are low level worker-bees for the organization, trapped in dreary and scary lives that are almost always cut short by gunfire. They may quote the Pacino Scarface, but none of these guys are actually living that life. Actually, by the end of the movie, very few of the characters are "living" at all. Roger Ebert has a perceptive review at his site, check it out at

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090225/REVIEWS/902259991

There's a new CD format of sorts, mostly available in Japan. SHM CD, or "Super High Material", is supposed to use a super-duper clear poly-whatever that allows regular CD players to better read the ones and zeroes on the disc, resulting in better sound. I don't have a mega-pricey sound system and I'm half deaf from a misspent youth (and adulthood) playing the drums and listening to loud music, but to these ears some of the CDs do sound better than traditional pressings. However, how much of that is because of SHM and how much is because of subtle new mixing, I dunno. I won't be replacing my CD collection with (expensive!) SHM discs anytime soon, but I am a sucker for "technological advances" like this...

Friday, March 13, 2009

TONIGHT on Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak Part 1

Well, only two more weeks left... cast and crew have pretty much scattered to other things, but many of us have been getting together almost every week in Los Angeles to enjoy the last episodes on a variety of big screens. I suspect our gathering for the big finale will be joyous and melancholy and emotional, all at the same time. Kind of like BSG, actually...

Tonight, it all starts coming together. Or falling apart. Welcome to the world that is Battlestar! Candid admission time... I know the story, but while I've had versions of the finale on my desk since last Fall, I still haven't watched them. They were preliminary cuts, so I'm guessing a lot has changed, and selfishly as a fan I wanted to let the last couple hours flow over me. I sure hope they kept the Daggit...

TONIGHT on the Sci-Fi Channel! 10:00PM! Don't miss it!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Frank Miller's Charlie Brown

Sin City goes Peanuts...

http://www.cinematical.com/photos/frank-millers-charlie-brown/1419750/

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who Watches The Watchmen?

Well, I do... or did. Snuck out from a busy workday and caught a screening of Watchmen, the adaptation of A*** M**** and Dave Gibbons' graphic novel. I'm not trying to be cute with Alan Moore's name (well, I guess I am), but he's so utterly opposed to film versions of his work that he had his name removed from the movie's credits. Part of me admires the fact that he puts his money where his mouth is and not only eschews credit on the movie, but refuses and/or gives his share of the proceeds to his collaborators. The more pragmatic part of me notes that you could turn Watchmen into a Saturday morning cartoon (already done, go to http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/485797 and click on "watch the cartoon"!) and the original graphic novel would still exist in all its glory.

But that's someone else's problem! Me, I loved the graphic novel... bought it in chapters when it was first released and probably five different editions since, from the swanky Graffiti box set to the recent Absolute Watchmen. I had drifted away from comics after college, but like countless other fans the Watchmen and Dark Knight books were a one/two punch that suggested there was life left in the mainstream superhero genre...

And the movie version? Well, I more or less loved it. I'm not going to re-read the book to refresh my memory, but it certainly feels like a faithful adaptation. I could quibble around the edges (oh, okay, I didn't really care for the music choices, and hey, Watchtower again?!) but given how far off the rails this could have gone, it's an amazing achievement. I especially like that it doesn't go all PG-13 on us and delivers all of the original stories adult conceits, from Doc. Manhattan's blue johnson to the uncompromising conclusion (albeit that's changed from the original).

(Self deprecating admission -- I was briefly up for adapting Moore's V For Vendetta. Which I actually think is a better book than Watchmen, though both are excellent. The direction being discussed at that time was, in hindsight, so unfortunate that I suspect I would have had Mr. Moore's suicide on my hands had it gone forward. But it didn't. And oddly enough, I still haven't seen the movie that was eventually made from the book!)

Final Watchmen note: there's a Battlestar connection! Don Thompson, aka Figurski, is seen right at the top of the movie as a police officer investigating a murder scene. And I knew him when... *sniff*...

Monday, March 09, 2009

TONIGHT on HEROES -- "Shades Of Gray"

Once again those fine folks at NBC have created a glorious synopsis! Once again I have cut and pasted it!

SYLAR GOES BACK TO HIS ROOTS – JOHN GLOVER GUEST STARS AS SYLAR’S BIOLOGICAL FATHER

When Sylar (Zachary Quinto) comes face-to-face with his long lost father (guest star John Glover), the reunion proves to be what he least expected. Elsewhere, after receiving a tip from “Rebel,” Claire (Hayden Panettiere) must decide if she will help her sworn enemy, Eric Doyle (guest star David Lawrence XVII), evade capture. Meanwhile, as “The Hunter” (guest star Zeljko Ivanek) plans to uncover the Petrelli family’s secrets and take control of Nathan’s (Adrian Pasdar) operation, Matt (Greg Grunberg) finds himself in the spotlight and on the verge of leveling Capitol Hill. Randall Bentley and Ashley Crow also guest star.


In the "small world" department, John Glover, who was Lex Luthor's papa on my old stomping grounds of Smallville, joins the Heroes cast as Sylar's Dad. Clearly Mr. Glover's characters have a proclivity for creating unusual offspring. If you're into the Sylar character and curious how such a nice young man developed so many demons, you'll love this episode!

In other news, I'll be doing another on-camera episode commentary for my second Heroes effort, episode 22, "Turn and Face The Strange." I'll be joined by my co-writer Rob Fresco and Mohinder Suresh himself, Sendhil Ramamurthy. Something to check out a few weeks from now...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Drive Everyone You Know Completely Insane

Start playing with this really loud...

http://ronwinter.tv/drums.html

This Week On BATTLESTAR GALACTICA...

Islanded In A Stream Of Stars... written by Michael Taylor, directed by Edward James Olmos, we're coming to the close, my friends. Galactica's feeling poorly, Athena's a tad cranky after Boomer went bye-bye with Hera, booze, intrigue, just another day on the Battlestar!

After this episode, we're into the three hour finale. Will the rag-tag fleet finally find peace on the casino planet? Will Boxey make his epic return? Did Gaeta survive the firing squad? None of these answers and more are coming...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Your Guide To The BSG-a-verse

There is dedication and there's above and beyond the call of duty. I'm not sure where this timeline/chart of BSG history falls, but it's pretty cool. Incidentally, I've just skimmed it, so I can't vouch for every factual point, but at this remove I'm guessing this chart's more accurate than my (often faulty) memory...

http://www.ackthud.net/jont/2009/Misc/bsgtimeline.jpg