Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Falling Skies - Skitters Taste Like Chicken?

I've actually been asked by two different writers if there are any plans for the hearty members of the 2nd Mass to, well, eat the alien skitters. Food is scarce in their post-invasion world and what the hell, right? I hate to give any advance "spoiler" type info, but in this instance I think it's okay. NO. There are no yum-yum roast skitter feasts in season one. I doubt even the Pope character could make those grisly looking things appetizing, though maybe with some chili and a little salsa...

(Evidently there is already a blog post up that suggests they "taste like chicken." If you say so!)

Also I understand there is going to be a Falling Skies panel at the San Diego ComicCon this year, with previews of some surprises to come. I haven't missed an SD Con since 1983 and this won't be the first, barring disaster, so I hope to see you there! And no, TNT will NOT be serving skitter!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Peter Falk Parking Stories

I thought Peter Falk was one of the great performers of the 60's, 70's and 80's. He was funny as hell in Mad Mad Mad Mad World and The Great Race, absolutely perfect as Columbo (one of my all time favorite television series, ever) and fascinating in his John Cassavetes performances.

I had an office on the Universal lot for several years, overlooking the parking lot where Mr. Falk, well, parked. So I saw him and his Range Rover on many occasions, and he was a familiar presence at the studio. One day I was having lunch in the studio dining room with an executive, who asked me what I liked best about being at Universal. I told her that truthfully, I loved that I had actually seen Peter Falk in person. She blanched and made a "over your shoulder" gesture. I turned and Peter Falk was sitting about three feet away. He had clearly overheard the conversation and he smiled. That was it, no chat, just the smile. But that was enough!

Second anecdote: I was in my office staring into space (a frequent habit!) when I noticed a messenger parking in Peter Falk's space. Moments after the messenger left to make his delivery, Peter Falk arrived in his big ol' Range Rover. Seeing someone in his spot, Falk simply parked behind him, blocking him in. The messenger ran out and was flummoxed to see the car behind his. He was trapped! Someone in the same office had noticed what happened and I asked if Falk would eventually move. "After two or three hours", said my office pal. "He really doesn't like people parking in his spot." Sure enough, after a couple frantic hours, someone finally came from Falk's office and moved the Rover.

Third anecdote: I was giving my friend John (check out his Beatles blog, listed to the right!) a tour of Universal and as we were pulling into my parking spot, I saw Peter Falk pulling out of his. I told John, "hey, look, there's Peter Falk!" We watched Falk pull out, out, out, until BAM! He hit the car parked behind him and broke out the tail-light! While glass was still tinkling to the pavement, Falk gunned it and tore out of the parking lot. I parked as a woman ran outside and asked if I'd seen the guy who just smashed into her car. "It was Peter Falk", I said. She withered, realizing there probably wasn't anything she could do about it.

Fantastic performer, but probably someone to avoid on the highway. RIP, sir!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ruining My Hearing With...

In between being sick this week and, well, being sick, I've been catching up with a stack of "new musical arrivals." Among them:

THE SHAGGS/Philosophy Of The World: I ordered the 2011 remastered CD from the folks currently staging the Shaggs musical and I can report: it's definitely as good as the Shaggs are gonna get. Which is pretty darn good, for those with, umm, "adventurous" tastes. I hesitate to make this a wholehearted recommendation until folks actually sample a song or two, but i-tunes makes that easy. Give the samples a listen, then if you're converted, rush to and buy the cool new remaster. $16 and worth every foot-footin' (as in their biggest "hit", "My Pal Foot-Foot") penny.

CHICAGO/Live In '75: What can I say, Chicago was my second concert ever (after Linda Ronstadt!) and I've always enjoyed their 70's music. The fine folks at Rhino Handmade have released a limited edition, 2 CD set of a concert culled from their 6/24-25 1975 shows in Largo Maryland. If you have any interest whatsoever in early live Chicago, eschew the crappy PD stuff that's flooding the market and get this set. Amazing sound, all the hits, booklets, liner notes, the whole Handmade deal.

DON DIXON & MARTI JONES/Living Stereo: Their latest 2011 release, a set of duets from these extremely talented and tasteful musicians. Self-released on the D.A.R. label (Dixon Archival Remnants), music like this needs to be supported with $$ so there will be MORE music like this. Dixon produced REM and the Smithereens (their first album and their most recent) and has released a whole bunch of great Southern pop over the years. Don's better-half Marti Jones sings real good and has her own catalog of classics. Samples can be heard at Amazon, but don't get a lossy Mp3 of this, buy the CD. has them!

MICHAEL CARPENTER/SOOP#3: Carpenter has been putting out great power-pop-ish music for years, but the SOOP (Songs Of Other People) has been especially fun for moi. Great covers of great songs, ranging from Nick Lowe to the Beatles to the Brady Bunch (!). His stuff's available at i-tunes and some on Amazon, but Carpenter is also soliciting subscribers/benefactors to help him put out five CDs worth of material this year. If fans don't support these artists, nobody will, so I coughed up -- check out his site at and maybe you will too.

ROBERT JOHNSON/"The Complete Recordings": Yes, "the" Robert Johnson, bluesman and inspiration for Clapton, Zeppelin and who knows how many others. All of Johnson's catalog has been long available, but this new 2 CD release is a digital remaster and something of a revelation. Basically, this material has never sounded so good. Much of the 78RPM hiss has been eliminated without peeling away at the essentially high end, leaving the clearest sound yet. I've probably bought ten different versions of this material over the years, but this one is a distinct improvement.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Falling Skies Fun Facts!

It was a real thrill to see the reaction (both reviews and ratings) to the big two hour premiere of Falling Skies. In pursuing some of the comments, a few things seemed to come up over and over, so in no particular order:

WILL THE SHOW EVER FLASHBACK TO THE INVASION? The short answer is no, at least not in season one. The decision was made early on not to use flashbacks at all, meaning character development and info about the aliens has to come from forward story momentum. (Not that I have anything against flashbacks, mind you! We just didn't do them here.)


WILL WE KNOW EVERYTHING BY THE END OF SEASON ONE? Since that would more or less defeat the idea of a season two, no. But major hints? You betcha.



Incidentally, it's been fun watching the various teaser trailers put together by TNT and trying to spot where they pulled footage. For what it's worth, numerous scenes are from the big season finale... but YOU have to guess which ones!

Finally, how about some writing/directing credits?

LIVE AND LEARN (hour one premiere): Written by Robert Rodat, directed by Carl Franklin
THE ARMORY (hour two premiere): Written by Graham Yost, directed by Greg Beeman.
PRISONER OF WAR (ep 2): Written by Fred Golin, directed by Greg Beeman.
GRACE (ep 3): Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor, directed by Fred Toye
SILENT KILL (ep 4): Written by Joe Weisberg, directed by Fred Toye
SANCTUARY PART 1 (ep 5): Written by Joel Thompson, directed by Sergio Mimica Gezzan
SANCTUARY PART 2 (ep 6): Written by Melinda Hsu Taylor, directed by Sergio Mimica Gezzan
WHAT HIDES BENEATH (ep 7): Written by Mark Verheiden, directed by Anthony Hemingway
MUTINY (ep 8): Written by Joe Weisberg, directed by Holly Dale
EIGHT HOURS (ep 9): Written by Mark Verheiden, directed by Greg Beeman

More info as the season progresses!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Falling Skies - At Last!

The Falling Skies adventure started for yours truly on April 15, 2010, when I made the trek to Universal Studios and the DreamWorks campus. I was there to watch the pilot for a show that was then called "Untitled Steven Spielberg Alien Invasion." I had read the script in advance, but seeing is believing and to say I was impressed would be an understatement.

And now, many months later, you get to see what got yours truly and so many others excited about this series. Join us Sunday on TNT, at 9:00PM for the two hour premiere on 6/19, then at 10PM after that.

You got your aliens. You got your resistance fighters. You've got the talents of series creators/executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Rodat.

Plus! You've got the amazing Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, Drew Roy, Sarah Carter, Colin Cunningham, Jessy Schram, Seychelle Gabriel, Maxim Knight, Dylan Authors, Connor Jessup, Mpho Koaho, Peter Shinkoda and Dale Dye... plus guest stars Steven Weber, Henry Czerny, Blair Brown and a whole bunch more!

And! There's writing by series creator Robert Rodat, along with Graham Yost, Fred Golin, Melinda Hsu Taylor, Joe Weisberg, and Joel Thompson. And, well, me. Exceptional supervising/producing by Greg Beeman, exceptional line producing by John Ryan, superlative direction by Carl Franklin, Greg Beeman, Fred Toye, Sergio-Mimica Gezzan, Anthony Hemingway and Holly Dale!

Plus Noah Sorota's music! The incredible post crew! Our amazing FX guys! I could go on and on and probably will as time rolls ahead...

This amazing site is a list of links to a plethora of reviews, most good:

I'll be posting as the mood strikes after the show's debut. And keep watching this space for updates re: my other projects (*cof Dark Tower *cof) as the Summer continues...

Friday, June 17, 2011

So THIS Is Amazing (comic book wise)

Author Barry Pearl has released an 1147 page (!) history/index/compendium-of-info covering Marvel Comics from 1961 to 1977. I've only just started to crack into this incredible research piece, but if you have any interest in this era of funnybook history, for $35 you can't go wrong. You can read all about it at Barry's website, where he's selling the book as a downloadable PDF. All the info's at:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Falling Skies - 6/19/11 9PM TNT

Well, we're finally closing on the big debut. Reviews have been mostly excellent (check out the Hollywood Reporter's rave or the love from the Chicago Tribune if you don't believe me!) and so now many fingers are crossed in hopes folks gave Falling Skies a shot. Like all shows, the first episodes tee up a lot of story, so stick around and watch as character and "alien" revelations build with each successive episode. Things get pretty hectic toward the end of season one...

I had a blast at the TNT premiere party, where I got to catch up with the cast and crew and just generally chatter. Meanwhile, I've been doing what I can to spread the word, doing interviews (37 in a row last Saturday in Sedona Arizona!) and "etc." Later this week I'll be blabbing on the "Slice Of Sci-Fi" radio show and the "Tomorrow Will Be Televised" Blog talk show.

But now it's coming down to the nitty gritty... so watch! Tell friends to watch! Tell enemies to watch! Heck, maybe the show will bring you closer together!

Monday, June 06, 2011

The Shaggs Are NOT The Worst Band Ever!

Someone's created a musical around the magical Wiggins sisters, whose band The Shaggs are best known for their album "Philosophy Of The World." If you haven't heard it, you need to hear it RIGHT NOW. Some damn the Shaggs with the faint praise of "so bad it's good," but I'm sorry. I've listened to "My Pal Foot-Foot" dozens of times and you couldn't pay me to sit through an Ozzy Osbourne disc. I really like their music, honest, no caveats.

And now there's a musical dedicated to them! If it brings their music to more listeners, great!

Horribly, it appears the Shaggs catalog is out of print on CD, but you can download their magnificence if so inclined! AND you should be so inclined!!!

ADDED 6/7/11: Check out the comments for info on a remastered edition of "Philosophy Of The World" from the same folks doing the musical. I ordered mine!

Andrew Gold - RIP

The singer/songwriter Andrew Gold died of a heart attack at age 59. Son of movie composer Ernst Gold and singer Marni Nixon, he had a long and wonderful career. Besides his great session work with Linda Ronstadt and his own hits ("Lonely Boy"), he was putting out cool music recently, including "Copycat", a CD of Beatles/Beach Boys/etc. covers that was on "repeat" in the MV car player for a long time. Well worth hearing!

78 Cents Or I Piss On Your Flowers! *

Tom Spurgeon of the Comics Reporter blog features an interview with David Boswell, writer/artist of Reid Fleming, World's Toughest Milkman. Always loved this book back in the day, and now you can love it too, since IDW's released a super fancy hardcover collecting the early strips and comics. Personally I think adding Reid's character to the next Expendables movie would create the greatest meta-movie of all time...

*Heading is a classic Reid Fleming line. You don't mess with the Fleming!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Falling Skies Round-Up!

As we approach the big premiere, figured it was time for a quick round-up of FALLING SKIES news and etc.

The show itself debuts here in the U.S. on TNT, June 19 (Sunday) at 9:00PM. The first episode is a two hour behemoth, after that the show airs at 10PM.

The Dark Horse graphic novel offering a peek at what happened pre-show will be out in early July. But many chapters are currently available online at and the Dark Horse website.

I have joined twitter and will probably be blabbing online as the shows unspool, offering behind the scenes nonsense and whatever else I can think of. Fortunately I will be forced to hold it down to under 140 characters. You can find me at #markverheiden.

And I will continue to blog as the mood strikes, so check back here from time to time for even more... something!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Falling Skies - I Talk To Zombies!

Television Zombies, that is. They have a new podcast up where I discuss Falling Skies and REVEAL EVERYTHING! (Not really, but it's a good podcast anyhow). Check it out at:

Also, check out the New York Times this Sunday (6/5), for a big article on Falling Skies and more palaver from yours truly. And the current issue of TV Guide ("Summer Preview") also has a two page spread on the show and another MV interview. The onslaught continues!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Big Departure: Why I Love Dragnet

My friend John (see his Beatles blog, on the blog-list to the right) and I were traveling this weekend and to pass the time we discussed our favorite Dragnet scenes. The one quoted below, from the season two episode "The Big Departure", was not an obvious choice but quickly became a favorite as we tried to remember the very detailed dialogue. In the show, Officer Bill Gannon (Henry Morgan) and Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb) of the Los Angeles Police Department are discussing a rash of robberies by painstakingly reading inventory list(s) of all the stolen items. They manage to burn off a couple minutes of screen time by literally reciting a grocery list (every writer's dream!), but it's Joe's palpable disgust at the criminals involved in the heists that elevates this to masterpiece status. AND it ends with a classic "f'ing hippies" Dragnet 1968 payoff!

BILL: Roll of bandages one inch, roll of bandages two inch, butterfly closures, adhesive tape, antiseptics… looks like mostly medicine cabinet stuff. Triangular bandages, elastic bandages, suntan lotion – case of that – aspirin, eight transistor radios, four cartons transistor batteries, twelve flashlights – two cell – four cartons D batteries, four snakebite kits… oh, here’s one. Codeine, 50 30 milligram tablets. Don’t see any hard stuff outside of that.

JOE: Yeah.

BILL: Couple antibiotics, some penicillin. Hardware store list, four axes, two shovels, two saws, six hammers, two rakes, two hoes, gardening stuff, 300 feet of quarter inch manila rope, some galvanized chain, one butcher knife, paring knives, spatula, cooking utensils, pots, pans, one kettle, one coffee pot, four frying pans, plastic plates, cups, knives, forks, spoons – sounds like they’re planning a camping trip!

JOE: Or an expedition. Vollmer’s list here. They took 200 lbs of potatoes, fifty pounds of onions, string beans, eight cases, peas, eight cases, chili, four cases, spaghetti and meatballs, four cases, canned corned beef, canned stew, fifty pounds of flour, sugar, salt, pepper, a case of shortening, rice, macaroni, tea, coffee, cocoa, canned milk, powdered milk, an assortment of prepared cake mixes and a case of canned icing.

BILL: Right here. Three cake pans, wire cooling rack, one egg-beater… what do you figure?

JOE: I wish I knew. Two cases of cookies, six cases of assorted candy, five, ten, thirteen, seventeen, twenty cartons of various kinds of soft drinks.

BILL: Just the staples, Joe. Pretty good list, they got just about everything.

JOE: No, not quite, and they’ve had two shots at it too. The drug store and the market.

BILL: What’s that?

JOE: Soap.