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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hung

I’d never really thought of Thomas Jane as funny before. At least not intentionally funny, although he does come close to unintentional in stuff like Deep Blue Sea, The Mutant Chronicles and especially 2004’s The Punisher. In HBO’s new series “Hung” he is surprisingly subtle and sly in his humor, much the way the show slips in all the double entendres into the dialogue and backgrounds.

“Hung” follows the path of down and out teacher Ray Drecker (Jane) as he tries to put his life back on track by utilizing his greatest asset – look at the show’s title and use your imagination – and becomes a male escort. The pilot does move a bit slow and it doesn’t seem as though the series will really get rolling until the second or third episode. It should be something Jane is used to, just like a superhero story, you have to do the origin first. This slowness is partially induced by all the hype HBO has been giving the show. Before it aired, we all knew the premise, and now it becomes a waiting game before we actually get there.

That said, I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait for more, even if it’s a while to get to the ‘meat’ (sorry) of the story. Also in the cast is a wasted Anne Heche (unless they plan to give her more to do soon) and Jane Adams who I think has a lot of potential here. And that’s what it’s really about with “Hung,” waiting and potential. I hope it lives up to the hype.


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Monday, June 29, 2009

Fred Travalena 1942-2009




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Gale Storm Passes

Movie and television actress Gale Storm passed away at 87.

The star of "My Little Margie" and "The Gale Storm Show" enjoyed a successful career in the early days of television, and well as being a pop singer and movie actress. She'll be missed.

This has been a bad week for celebrities passing away. I have to wonder - is there something in the water out there?


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays 1958-2009



TV pitchman Billy Mays was found dead this morning in his home. The so-called king of the infomercials was known for his shouting approach at viewers and his miracle products, among them - Oxi-Clean, Kaboom!, Turbo Tiger and the Big City Slider Station. Late night and early morning paid programming will never be the same without him.


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Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP Sky Saxon



While the world was/is mourning the passings of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, we also lost Sky Saxon yesterday morning. Equally a pop music icon of his time, he was the lead singer and founder of The Seeds, a frontrunner of the California garage band sound of the late 1960s.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The King of Pop, Dead at 50

My first memory of Michael Jackson is in third grade when I smuggled my AM transistor radio to school, and tuned in to WFIL as I was walking home from school, and "Rockin' Robin" came on. The kids that were with me were all excited that it was Michael Jackson. Dummy me, I didn't know who that was, but I was quickly schooled that he was one of the Jackson 5, and that he was actually our age - or at least a little kid just like us.

Over the years Jackson continued to be part of the soundtrack of my early life. Whether it was the Saturday morning cartoon featuring him and his brothers, singing the theme to Ben, or his entry into the disco scene with "Off the Wall" and also with his brothers now just the Jacksons - he was always around.

After I graduated high school Michael made a comeback known as "Thriller" In the advent of MTV I was working at a record store during the Christmas that the album was out. It's one thing to say it was one of bestselling albums of all time, it's a whole 'nother thing to be working retail when it was at its zenith. I can remember filling the shelves and walls over and over and over again.

This was also at a time when VCRs were fairly new and at the back of the store we were demonstrating them, and demo-ing them with a very special new videotape, "The Making of Thriller." Every time when the music video for the title song would come on, the back of that tiny mall store would fill up with no less than a hundred people. It happened that way at least once an hour all through that Christmas season. That's how hot Michael Jackson was at the time.

I remember the night of the Motown 25 special, just as I remember the night Fox aired the longform video for "Black or White" when he smashed up a car and grabbed his crotch. I remember the releases of "Thriller" follow-up albums "Bad" and "Dangerous." As his behavior became more erratic and the paparazzi more insidious, Michael became even more bizarre and reclusive. With all the strangeness, it began to affect his popularity, and he retreated further.

It was at this time that allegations of child molestation began to surface. Sadly his fame became infamy as the allegations and rumors mounted and continued. Michael, while a pariah in the States still maintained an Elvis-like fame in the rest of the world. His death earlier today by cardiac arrest, was on the brink of a major new tour.

Despite what may or may not have happened in recent years or before that, Michael Jackson was a gigantic talent, a serious musical force that shaped the world, a phenomenal performer, and he will certainly not be forgotten.


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Farrah Fawcett Passes Away

To the right is the poster that everyone had in their bedroom in the mid to late seventies, or more accurately, the poster. While it sold almost twelve million copies, I didn't have it myself but I did have a miniature version of it as well as pics from magazines up on my door. She was a sex symbol to probably every teenage boy in America in the seventies, and now, Farrah Fawcett has passed away.

Besides being every boy's wet dream, she was also the wife of the guy we all wanted to be - Lee Majors, "The Six Million Dollar Man." While only being in one season, she was the undisputed star of "Charlie's Angels." She also appeared in dozens of other television programs in the decade including her husband's and anything from "Marcus Welby MD" to "Harry O" to "The Partridge Family."

In the eighties she became romantically involved with Ryan O'Neal in a relationship that lasted the rest of her life. She moved on to breathtaking dramatic performances in Extremities and The Burning Bed that resulted in several awards and nominations. Throughout her long career she has remained a pop icon and always in our minds.

Farrah passed from complications of cancer. She was 62, and she will be missed.


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RIP Irv Homer

Legendary Philadelphia radio talk show host Irv Homer passed away last night after suffering a heart attack while speaking at Eastern University. He went out in a way I'm sure he would have liked - talking to the people who loved him.

As someone who became addicted to talk radio as a teenager in the 1970s, Philadelphia's Talk Station WWDB 96.5 FM was the place to be and Irv Homer was the voice, and in many cases, the voice of reason. In an industry today where talk show hosts are either to the far left or the far right, Irv was dead center, and in many cases he shot holes in both sides with logic and common sense.

Before, after and even during the golden WWDB years Irv talked at other places on the dial, always on the air and always fighting the good fight, teaching us all to think for ourselves, read between the lines and be critical of the status quo. He warned constantly of becoming one of the sheeple and told us all to be critical thinkers.

We have lost a crusader, a defender, a friend, and a father - not just a radio legend. I offer condolences to his family and friends everywhere. Irv will be greatly missed, and radio will not be the same again.


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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Arnold Doppelganger

There’s a new Conan film in the works, and it’s possible the studio has found its new Conan - the closest possible thing to Arnold Schwarzenegger without being Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His name is Roland Kickinger and he’s got a rather interesting resume. He plays a Terminator in the latest film in the series Terminator: Salvation, he is an Austrian native and bodybuilder, and he actually played Arnold in See Arnold Run. It goes without say he looks like Arnold too. Talking about on the nose casting.

There’s no word as to whether the new and as-yet-untitled Conan film is a reboot, a sequel to the two from the 1980s or even a film version of one of Robert E. Howard’s novels – only that it’s in pre-production with a hopeful release in 2010.


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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jon and Kate… Again, Now Go Away

High on my list of folks I’d like to see go away are Jon and Kate Gosselin. Up until their marriage troubles, “Jon & Kate Plus 8” was just another one of many mildly entertaining reality shows that populated the higher end of the cable dial. When the crap hit the fan and the media machine started to fill the public in on what the two were really up to when the cameras were off, suddenly they became interesting, and their show –which for the most part ignored these allegations- instantly became The Learning Channel’s number one show.

By the time they started to own up to the fact that there were problems – and yesterday’s announcement of their impending divorce as well as last night’s episode detailing their separation – no one really cared anymore. I know I don’t. Let’s face it. The novelty is gone. Much like Susan Boyle, it’s time for them to go now.

To be honest, I’m surprised Jon has lasted as long as he has. Kate is more than a handful – and I am being sooo nice when I say that. However if the producers are smart, and want the high ratings to continue I think they should immediately take a new tact in the direction of the series. Make it about each of them out in the dating world. Heck, if watching them with each other wasn’t hilarious enough, imagine them interacting with real people...


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Ed MacMahon Passes

After a myriad of recent financial and medical problems, Hollywood legend Ed MacMahon passed away last night.

Ed MacMahon was best known to generations as Johnny Carson's announcer and sidekick on "The Tonight Show." For over thirty years his trademark intro of "Here's Johnny!" was a signal that the show was about to begin, and greatness would follow. In a era of numerous talk shows, and before they became promotional tools and spotlights for trailer trash, "The Tonight Show" was the best. That might be Ed's claim to fame, but that's not all he did.

He was also the face of American Family Publishers sweepstakes, a frequent partner of Dick Clark's on many TV projects and the co-host of Jerry Lewis' annual telethon. Ed hosted "Star Search," a series that launched the careers of Britney Spears and Arsenio Hall among others.

MacMahon also did quite a bit of acting over the years. Of specific interest to me was 1967's The Incident, one of my favorite films. It's a small part in an ensemble film, but Ed is excellent.

We've lost a legend, and he'll be missed. Rest in peace, Ed.


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Monday, June 22, 2009

Tim Burton's Alice


Johnny Depp? Helena Bonham Carter? Seemingly acid-induced CGI? Yep, sounds like a new Tim Burton film is on the horizon. This time he is trying his creepy hands at Lewis Carroll’s classic with Alice in Wonderland.

With Depp as the Mad Hatter, Carter as the Red Queen, and Mia Wasikowska in the title role, Burton describes this as almost a sequel to the 1951 Disney film of the same name, as a slightly older Alice returns to a Wonderland she doesn’t remember.

The film also features Alan Rickman, Anne Hathaway, Stephen Fry, Crispin Glover and Christopher Lee. Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland opens March 5, 2010.


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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fear and Loathing at Wizard World Philly ’09

Saturday. Met up with my partners in crime – Anthony, Andrea and Ray – just after Wizard World Philadelphia 2009 opened this morning. We hung out in the Green Room for a bit, subtly eavesdropping on Marvel Comics’ Bill Roseman giving portfolio reviews to potential artists. Lots of keen insight on what is expected of artists and how comics should be done was overheard. Quite the learning experience.

Also from the eagle eye view in the Green Room over the con floor we spied one lone Suicide Girl, Kyra, staring at her lap and texting on her phone. She was surrounded by comics geeks and fanboys who just appeared too scared or shy to approach her. It wasn’t until her fellow Suicide Girls showed up that people came up to the table. I guess there’s safety in numbers?

On the con floor whilst checking out Artist Alley and hunting for HeroClix and Marvel Super Hero Squad figures, we witnessed quite a nasty bit of poaching between booths. A woman from one booth came up behind me while I was at another to say she had all of a certain action figure line – come on over and see. I was incredulous, and even if she did have what I was looking for I wouldn’t buy it (or anything) from her now.

Something else to add to the list of things that had to be seen to be believed was when I was chilling up on the third floor overlooking the entrance to the con floor, just over the concession stand. Two guys in their twenties were taking pictures straight down Yancy Butler’s (“Witchblade,” “Mann and Machine”) low-cut shirt while she was getting a hot dog. I chastised them and told them they should be ashamed of themselves. It seemed to have little to no effect.

Over the last two days I’ve sat in on a few writing panels, and it seems really strange and enlightening to me that everyone has a different process. From Garth Ennis to Raven Gregory to Jimmy Palmiotti to Alan Moore – everyone has a different approach. Interesting stuff. I also want to add that Buddy Scalara who hosted a few of these panels was very enthusiastic, entertaining and educational. Great stuff, Buddy.

The DC Nation panel hosted by Dan DiDio, editor-in-chief of DC Comics, was intriguing. We got a rundown, followed by asking an opinion of the audience, of DC’s current big projects. DiDio called out Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and when he asked about Wonder Woman, my buddy Ray took him to task saying he didn’t like it, and felt that there was editorial interference on the book – specifically DiDio’s. Ray also mentioned that he thought “Battle for the Cowl” sucked and was one of the worst comics he’d ever read – even worse than US 1. It was made a bit of joke and Dan turned to Ray throughout the panel to ask if certain projects ‘sucked.’

Justice Society was next, then Justice League, Teen Titans, and then a project I’m pretty excited about – Wednesday Comics. Then there was talk of another project that piqued my interest, a series featuring old pulp characters, including Doc Savage, the Spirit, Wildcat, the Blackhawks and maybe a few others, tentatively called First Wave written by Brian Azzarello and penciled by Rags Morales.

A question and answer session followed. There appears to be a surprising amount of support for more of the new Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. There was some talk of Grant Morrison’s “Multiversity,” as well as speculation on two different Flash ongoing series. I was also amazed by an answer given by Bob Wayne, DC’s sales manager, regarding rising prices and titles per month. Apparently he thinks that this country’s current economic crisis is one big joke. Obviously the man gets his comics for free.

As my impression of Mr. Wayne sank, I must admit that my respect for Mr. DiDio rose quite a bit as the discussion he’d had with Ray continued outside the panel room for about fifteen minutes. With this amazing follow up Dan DiDio talked openly about how his job works and offered his thoughts as well as listening to those of others. Hell of a guy, great stuff. This made the con for me, seeing that the man wasn’t a monster at all but someone who is just like the rest of us – just with a much cooler job.




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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wizard World Philly '09 - Friday

This is two years in a row that Wizard World Philadelphia has been scheduled the same weekend as Heroes Con in Charlotte NC. This year, it looks like it may have bitten them in the ass. Just check the guest lists of both events and tell me which one you’d rather be at. Marvel and DC Comics have prominent presence in Charlotte, but not even a booth here in Philly. I think that’s very telling. And looking at the floor, not many people around, even for an industry day – there should be more of a crowd.

One of the first folks I ran into was someone who is definitely worth seeing - Mighty Avengers artist Khoi Pham. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is the nicest, coolest and most modest guy in comics. And he’s one hell of an artist too. Those who’ve read my reviews know I don’t throw out compliments easily. Khoi Pham deserves the praise, just check out his work.

Going to the opposite end of the spectrum, another note on the caliber of guests WWPhilly has been able to snag this year is Lou Ferrigno. Lou is at every con. Now he’s a special guest. Wow. He even has a panel this time. I’m guessing maybe a better manager or agent too. Remember if you do want to see him, bring cash, lots and lots of cash.

On my trip through Artist Alley the dangers of having a press badge once again became clear to me as folks jumped out as if in ambush to push their wares at me. I’ve decided after years of this that I like the quick and to the point approach. I like it so much, here’s a plug - www.kevinbolk.com and www.interrobangstudios.com - the woman handed me the card, said I might like the webcomics at the sites, and to have a great afternoon. I’m sold. The guy who wanted to tell me not only the history of his comic but also his life story – not so much.

I liked the first page cartoon in the convention guide by artist Ryan Dunlavey. It’s all about convention etiquette, and highly entertaining I’m sure for regular con-goers. I especially liked the bits about being lost in Artist Alley and not asking for autographs in the rest rooms. What I didn’t like was the concept that you cannot take off the wristband they tightly bond to your wrist – all weekend. I know what the stereotype is for comics and gaming fans (there are horror stories about this from GenCon) that they don’t bathe – but come on. How am I supposed to take a shower with this thing on? Mine’s coming off. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.

The Bride stopped by at lunch and we hooked up with friends Bryan and Paul. We checked out the autograph area and met Edward James Olmos and Erin Gray who were not only friendly and talkative but they also looked great. Ms. Gray was talking up an independent flick she’s in called Dreams Awake that sounded great.

Overheard at one of the food concessions between two women working the counter…

“That’s Chewbacca.”

“Who’s Chewbacca?”

She points him out to the other, “Over there.”

“That guy?”

“Yeah.”

“Nah, Chewbacca’s got way more hair than that guy.”


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Friday, June 19, 2009

Gary Papa 1954-2009

After a long battle with cancer, local news and sports anchor Gary Papa has passed away.

He joined the Action News on-air staff as a sportscaster in 1981 and was promoted to sports director nine years later.

Papa was also the host of "Prime Time" which he took over from the late Jim O'Brien.

He was beloved in the Philadelphia area and will be missed.

View more here.


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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dead Snow - Sneak Peek

Tommy Wirkola's Dead Snow was a hit at Sundance. And come on now, how can you go wrong with Nazi zombies? Sam Raimi would be sooo proud...



Again, this is another trailer not for the kiddies...

Dead Snow opens on June 19th in limited release. More details can be found here: www.deadsnow.com.


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Wednesday Comics

Print is dead, or so it’s been said. Still, it’s not happy times for newspapers and comic books which may be on their way out what with the dreaded internet and digital comics and such. Some folks give either media less than a decade’s lifespan. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some very innovative and rather incestuous things going on with them.

DC Comics has an ambitious project being readied for July 8th release called Wednesday Comics. The title is a play on the day comics are distributed, and regularly picked up by consumers, and will be weekly in an interesting folded newspaper format. Retro and unique in a way that may make collectors and their mylar bags insane, it also features continuity-free adventures of DC’s greatest characters by some of the best creators in the business. It’s an amazing showcase for what makes DC Comics great creatively.

What could make it better? The Superman feature in Wednesday Comics will be carried in USA Today that same day and then online weekly after that on their website, with heavy promotion in the following twelve weeks. Not only a celebration of what made these two media famous, but also a plunge into the digital age as well. Maybe it will perk up all three in the long run?

Wednesday Comics begins July 8th at a comic shop near you, and also in USA Today and online.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Lawn Chair Drive-In

It's that time of the year again, time for the Lawn Chair Drive-In. For over two decades they have been presenting the best in classic, obscure, foreign, independent and cult films in a fun outdoor environment. Now situated in Liberty Lands Park in Northern Liberties in Philadelphia, it continues that tradition beginning tonight, weekly on Tuesdays for ten weeks.

Tonight's feature is Ken Russell's Lair of the White Worm, a clever, sarcastic and scary farce filled with puns and shocks, based on the short story by Bram Stoker. It's got Hugh Grant, Amanda Donahoe and Sammi Davis in lead roles but believe it or not when it was released they were nobodies - the star was Catherine Oxenberg. The film is an erotic (it is Ken Russell after all) delight and one of my favorites. This should be a fun night for all.

The trailer is below, but don't let the kiddies watch - bad puns, vampiric kinkiness and dirty pillows abound.




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Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain America Reborn

Nobody stays dead in comics. *

It is always both a very exciting and a very disappointing experience when comic book cliches turn out to be true. Well, it happened again today with the special Monday comic book release of Captain America: Reborn. Yeah, as you might guess from the title, Steve Rogers is coming back from the dead.

Two and a half years ago, under mind control, Captain America's secret agent girlfriend shot him in the chest multiple times. We had a body, we had no pulse or heartbeat, and the body was buried in the Arctic wastes - don't ask. Apparently it may not have happened the way we saw it or the way the girlfriend remembers it. As long as Mephisto isn't involved...

Reborn is a five-issue monthly mini-series starting today, with the regular Captain America title taking a hiatus until it's done. Need to find a comic book shop near you? Try here or call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK.

* except for Ben Parker and Thomas and Martha Wayne. For the moment...


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Sunday, June 14, 2009

True Blood is Back

The much anticipated return of HBO’s series based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, “True Blood” debuted its second season starter tonight, and it did not disappoint. When it began last year the flurry of excitement was brought on not just by those who knew the books, but also by HBO’s brilliant viral promotion “Blood Copy.” This time, the excitement is brought on by the pure quality of the first season.

Cliffhangers are tied up immediately, or at least the one that kept most of us losing our minds – that wasn’t Lafayette in the back of the Sheriff’s car. For the rest I’ll leave you guessing, or at least those of you who haven’t seen it yet. And for those of you who haven’t even seen “True Blood” yet – what are you waiting for? Fans of contemporary vampires this is for you, and also fans of the old school – like “Dark Shadows,” this is right up your alley. The first season is on DVD, get on the ball!


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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Have You Voted Yet?

Crossposted from French Fry Diary:

The poll (found here) to find out what your favorite fast food French fries are will be coming to a close at the end of the month - have you voted yet?

McDonald's seems to have a very clear lead, but still the battle rages on for second. A tie between Five Guys, In-N-Out Burger and Burger King needs to be broken. Or perhaps there's another fry that should be in the lead? Where are the fans of Sonic? Or Checkers? Or my favorite, Fatburger? Come on out and vote!

As for the folks who have voted for the 'someplace other' option - why not send me a note and let me know where to find your favorite fries? I can be contacted here. Looking forward to hearing from you!

And don't forget to vote!


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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Show that Wouldn't Die

Since its debut on Fox in March of 1999, "Futurama" has had a rocky existence on television. The animated series, revolving around an inept pizza delivery guy frozen and released on the unsuspecting 31st century, has been canceled and un-canceled more times that I want to count. The warmness toward the program is probably due to its creators, David X. Cohen and Matt Groening, the latter being the creator of "The Simpsons." Fox wouldn't do anything to tick off the creator of their continuous cash cow, not if they were smart, but eventually dwindling ratings held sway.

After being syndicated on both Cartoon Network and significantly Comedy Central after (and during) its cancellation(s), "Futurama" proved successful enough to have four direct-to-DVD movies made, essentially a 'fifth season.' Ironically enough, these movies separated by months in between was really no more erratic that the schedule Fox was airing the series anyway when it was officially a Fox program. These DVDs were equally successful to merit the return of "Futurama" as a regular series on Comedy Central with twenty-six new episodes for mid-2010. I wonder how hard Fox is kicking themselves now?


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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Nurse Jackie

Showtime has been promoting this for a long time and it finally premiered last night. For the most part, “Nurse Jackie” lived up to the hype.

Edie Falco is no-nonsense, pill-popping, adulterous, know-it-all nurse Jackie Peyton as she fights her way through work at a New York City hospital. She deftly shows off that quirky dark comedic side we all knew was lurking beneath Carmela Soprano and was easily the star last night. She’s mean and abrasive, but I found myself rooting for her.

The dark and sarcastic tone of the show bothered me only because I frequent hospitals due to some health issues. I really don’t want to think of my doctors and nurses doing drugs, having sex and being otherwise apathetic while they are supposed to be caring for me – even though I know it happens. It does make for an entertaining show however.

I think the main problem with the show though is that everything outside of Falco was interchangeable with any run of the mill episode of “ER” or “St. Elsewhere,” only the main character stood out as unique and exciting. While I found (and surely will continue to find) Edie Falco amazing in this role, it will be a test of the actress’ abilities how well this series goes.

It’s dark, it’s silly, it’s got some clever twists and Falco is great. For the moment, I enjoyed last night’s episode and I’m along for the ride.


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Monday, June 08, 2009

2009 Tony Awards

CBS aired the 2009 Tony Awards live tonight. Neil Patrick Harris, Dr. Horrible himself, hosted (my main reason for tuning in), and he did not disappoint.

The opening number was spectacular. "Billy Elliot" took home fifteen Tonys, including best musical and three best actor for the three leads in the title role. "God of Carnage" got best play. Frank Langella and Geoffrey Rush both tried to be funny but failed. Bret Michaels and Poison performed, as did Sir Elton John, but only Bret got hurt. James Gandolfini was unamused. Anne Hathaway had a ball. Angela Lansbury looked good and won her fifth Tony. Liza Minnelli won one too but looked pretty scary. A mispronounciation in-joke proliferated. Lots of fun all around.

And of course, the highlight of the evening was that NPH sang to close out the show. Witness the brilliance:




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Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Big Contour

The change has been gradual over a couple months but now it's fairly complete and I defy you to find the old-style two-liter bottles of Coca-Cola anywhere. In my opinion, this is a bad thing.

The 'contour bottle' (tm) has long been a trademark of the Coca-Cola, for over ninety years as a matter of fact. Whether they ever trademarked it or not, the instantly recognizable package can not be mistaken for anything but Coke. They currently use it for all sizes of their plastic bottled containers - most recently as its two-liter size.

Coca-Cola claims it "offers a significant advantage for consumers beyond its classic good looks -- it is also easier to hold and easier to pour." I must disagree. Among the problems of this new bottle is the much smaller lip under the cap that makes it harder to grip than previously. The contour bottle is only easy to hold when one can grasp it with one hand, in my opinion, and that's just not possible with the two-liter version.

My main gripe with the new two-liter contour is that it is almost one to two inches taller than the old standard bottle used for soft drinks. This makes it impossible to store vertically in my fridge, and I imagine, most refrigerators. It's also too tall to fit in the fridge door.

It's my hope that Coke will go back to the standard bottle, or at least give consumers a choice. After all, they have corrected mistakes before. Remember New Coke? Bottom line, I love Coke, and I prefer Coke, but I don't mind Pepsi... and Pepsi will fit in my refrigerator door...


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Heavy Rain



The trailer for Heavy Rain debuted at E3 this weekend. The eerily realistic dark thriller from Sony for the PS3 is one of the most anticipated games this year. The release date will be later in 2009.


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My Life in Ruins

This has been a good summer for movies so far, between Up and now My Life in Ruins, things are definitely looking 'up.'

Nia Vardalos, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Connie and Carla, returns to the screen with this tale of Georgia, an uptight history professor who ends up as a tourguide in Greece when the teaching job dries up. One particular tour changes her life and hilarity ensues. This is a delightful romantic comedy that the star and cast, including Richard Dreyfuss as well as Rachel Dratch and Harland Williams, effortlessly bring to life.

In a summer also littered with slob comedies and angry robots, this is a breath of fresh air, a fun flick, highly recommended.


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Thursday, June 04, 2009

Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost ~ ”Marshall, Will and Holly, on a routine expedition, met the greatest earthquake ever known…”

And so began the opening of one of the more innovative series ever to grace Saturday mornings. Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, notorious for Saturday morning kids fare that seemed to be acid-induced like “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Land of the Lost” was different.

The series, in the first two seasons at least (we will not speak of the Uncle Jack episodes), featured a solid science fiction premise, which is no wonder with folks like David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, D.C. Fontana, Norman Spinrad, Theodore Sturgeon and Walter Koenig involved in its production.

The premise involved a family on a camping vacation dropped into a place outside of time and space, structured by dimensional portals that controlled every aspect of the world, which was populated by dinosaurs, cave people called Pakuni (the writers even created a 200-word language for them) and hissing lizard-like inhabitants called Sleestak. The world had a very precise internal continuity and logic, and the well-written stories (despite the drinking game that can be had every time someone yells the kids’ names or Dad touches one of them) more than made up for the sometimes less-than-adequate special effects. This was the 1970s after all.

The show is held in high regard by many, including comedian Will Ferrell, who coincidentally played a character named Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, in this 2009 feature film version of “Land of the Lost,” he gets to play the real thing.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Ferrell’s comedy, either on “Saturday Night Live” or in film (although I did like his semi-serious turns in Winter Passing and Stranger than Fiction), so I was a bit distressed when I heard he would be starring in this obviously comedic take on the classic scifi series. It should also be noted, and not forgotten, he also had a hand in another TV remake for the big screen – the better-off-forgotten Bewitched.

The preview was at the dreaded Cherry Hill AMC Loews, where it was sponsored by at least four media outlets. WXPN (the only terrestrial radio station in town worth listening to any more) gave us the passes but they weren’t there. Glenn Kalina, now doing mornings for 97.5 Now, has looked better, and seemed so thrilled doing the pre-show trivia and giveaways. Maybe a bit more caffeine, Glenn.

Vittoria from the ‘CW Crew’ had considerably more energy, as did the nameless dude from WMMR. And props to him too for telling people to turn their damned cellphones off. I also had issue with one of his trivia questions. He asked what MMR stood for and took the answer ‘Means More Rock’ – but really, isn’t the answer ‘Metro Media Radio’?

The film begins (and ends) with the Matt Lauer bit that we’ve all seen in the previews, and thus starts the pattern of every other typical Will Ferrell slob comedy. All my hopes from seeing interviews from Sid and Marty Krofft that this was “a respectable, serious take” on their property are dashed pretty quickly on. When pee-pee and poo-poo jokes are given more screen time than the actual plot or character development, the truth is pretty much splashed on the wall.

There are a couple funny bits, I’ll admit it. Chaka is a hoot, and a far cry from the innocent ape-child of the TV series. And Leonard Nimoy doing his best George Takei impersonation while voicing the Zarn is hilarious. What hurts most is that this could have been a serious adaptation. The effects are here, and so are all the elements. It’s all here. Fans of the show can see all the trademarks of the show – Pylons, Sleestak, the Library of Skulls, the Pakuni language, Grumpy, Alice, the Altrusian moths, even Holly’s Dopey speech. It’s all here.

Anna Friel, of “Pushing Daisies,” using her real accent for once is fun, as is Danny McBride of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down.” And I really liked the revamping of the Sleestak, nice updated design. This film is similar to “Smallville” when compared to its source material, the old Superboy comic books. Some of the names and situations are the same – but it’s completely different.

This was an okay movie for free, and funny and fun occasionally. Will Ferrell fans will love it, unfortunately I’m not one of them.



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David Carradine Found Dead

Award winning actor, producer and musician David Carradine was found dead today in his hotel room in Bangkok. He was on site filming an unnamed movie. It appears to be suicide by hanging. Carradine was 72.

He was one of the sons of actor John Carradine, and probably best known as Caine in the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu." He was a god to us kids on the playground at that time, and doubly so when we became aware of his other work especially as Frankenstein in the original Death Race. David Carradine was the Man.

Despite drug and alcohol issues and a seeming disappearance from the public consciousness, he never stopped working. He was always involved in one project or another. He returned to cult status however in the title role of Quentin Tarantino's epic Kill Bill. We have truly lost a legend, and he'll be missed.


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Beatles - Rock Band


Courtesy of Brad Meltzer and E3 2009, here comes the sneak preview trailer for "The Beatles: Rock Band."

Check it out here.

It just doesn't get any cooler than this. The Beatles. Rock Band. Anime. Pychedelics. And of course, the Beatles. Wow. A shame the actual game (see below) just doesn't look half as cool...

The game releases on September 9th, 2009.




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No Sequel Needed

S. Darko ~ Foregoing the whole how-dare-you-make-a-sequel mess surrounding this film, I need to stress how boring this was at the start. I literally started to doze off before the Whale song during the party woke me up. And my first reaction was – is this a different movie? Nope, it got boring again real quick.

Probably the most offensive thing about this movie is that it seeks to answer questions from the first film that really didn’t need to be answered. Some things should remain vague and mysterious.

In my opinion, S. Darko, subtitled unfortunately ‘a Donnie Darko story,’ suffers from Shock Treatment-it is. It’s one thing to make a film and have it achieve cult status, but it’s something else entirely to set out to make a cult film. It just doesn’t work like that. You cannot create cult status, it just happens. And I guarantee it’s not going to happen with S. Darko. And no amount of teen angst or Johnny Depp look-alikes can make it happen. Even Frank can’t save this one.


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Monday, June 01, 2009

Toy Story 3 - Trailer



This was one of the highlights of seeing Up, seeing this trailer for Toy Story 3.

It opens June 18, 2010.


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Up

There's not really a lot I can say about this one other than wow. Up isn't my favorite movie so far this year, but it's right 'up' there with Star Trek and Watchmen, and that's just a matter of my own personal taste, not quality. Trust me, Up is easily the best movie so far this year.

My only quibble might be that it's not as family or kid-friendly as it might seem from the commercials and previews. There is much much more to this tale than an old man in a flying house lifted by balloons. It's high adventure, it's great fun - and it has its dark moments. For every Skunk and Flower there has to be the hunter that kills Bambi's mom. Up has its share. This is not a bad thing, but it should serve as a heads 'up' to parents and others too sensitive or politically correct. Me, I thought the film was wonderful.

There is an amazing and heart-wrenching and nearly wordless sequence early on detailing the life of the main character and his wife that I believe is some of the best cinematic storytelling ever, period, on a par with what Orson Welles did in the 1940s or Steven Spielberg in the 1970s. It's beautiful. This is not just any summer film, folks. And the score is by Michael Giacchino, quickly becoming my favorite all-time composer. Highly recommended.


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