Monthly Archives: April 2008

First Look at Will Smith’s Hancock

There are heroes… there are superheroes… and then there’s Hancock (Will Smith). With great power comes great responsibility — everyone knows that — everyone, that is, but Hancock. Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock’s well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough — as grateful as they are to have their local hero, the good citizens of Los Angeles are wondering what they ever did to deserve this guy. Hancock isn’t the kind of man who cares what other people think — until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman), and the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a vulnerable side after all. Facing that will be Hancock’s greatest challenge yet — and a task that may prove impossible as Ray’s wife, Mary (Charlize Theron), insists that he’s a lost cause.

 

Hancock will be in theaters on July 2, 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dean Kamen’s new invention

This one has been making the rounds for a little while now (including a recent appearance on The Colbert Report, viewable after the break), but it hasn’t received anything near Segway-like coverage, which is all the more curious given that it’s potentially a far more important device.  Dubbed the Slingshot, Dean Kamen’s latest creation promises to do nothing short of producing clean water from virtually any liquid source (without filters) and generate enough electricity to power about 70 energy efficient light bulbs. What’s more, Kamen estimates that the machines would cost between $1,000 and $2,000 which, given the number of people a single one is likely to help, is certainly quite the bargain.

 

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iTunes & Starbucks create Pick of the Week

Apple and Starbucks announced the Pick of the Week. It’s a new program that offers Starbucks customers free music and music videos each week, downloadable through the iTunes Store.

The music will be available through Pick of the Week download cards provided at more than 7,000 company-owned Starbucks locations in the United States. The card will enable customers to get a complimentary song or music video picked by Starbucks Entertainment and iTunes. Customers have up to 60 days from the date the Pick of the Week is available to redeem the free song.

The promotion is kicking off with “Washington Square” from Counting Crows.  Starbcks says that artists lined up for future Picks of the Week include Carly Simon, Duffy, Adele, Sia, Hilary McRae and more.

This is the latest extension of a partnership between Starbucks and Apple that first took shape back in October, 2006, when the iTunes Store first launched the Starbucks Entertainment area — a specially-branded portion of the iTunes Store. Since then, Starbucks has begun to roll out access to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store at select locations, where patrons can download music and get more info about what that Starbucks happens to be playing at the time.

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Make the Watchmen watch your video

An awesome Watchmen contest just launched on YouTube, and the winner gets an opportunity to appear in the feature film. It may require a few video skills to enter, but the fact that the movie takes place in 1985 may work to everyone’s advantage.

In a nutshell: As director Zack Snyder explains in this video, folks can enter by making a short commercial for Veidt Enterprises and uploading it to YouTube. Here’s one sample ad, and here’s another.

Interested? Go here to download some logos and images you can use. Go here to read the rules. Upload your video to youtube.com/watchmenmovie by June 2. Good luck!

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22 announced films from graphic novels or comics

Want some screenwriting advice? Add drawings to your script. And then put your dialogue in bubbles.If recent studio acquisitions are any evidence, then the fastest way to get a movie deal these days may just be to turn your next Big Idea into a graphic novel. In a faddish frenzy, no fewer than 22 film projects born of graphic novels or comics have been announced in the last six weeks.

“It’s accelerating because right now it’s fashion,” says Frank Miller, who created the graphic novels behind “Sin City” and “300,” and whose early-’80s series “Ronin,” about a reincarnated samurai battling evil in a futuristic New York, is being adapted by Joby Harold (“Awake”) for Warner Bros. “I think we can expect it to calm down. Comic books have always been this vast mountain range that gets strip-mined and left behind.”

 

Universal recently partnered with Dark Horse Entertainment to produce and distribute movies derived from its independent stable of comics. Meanwhile, Paramount has its partnership with Marvel, Warner Bros. owns DC Comics and every other studio is looking for new material.Meanwhile, comic icon Stan Lee is planning to reverse the process; he just partnered with Disney to go straight to the big screen with three original ideas — “Nick Ratchet,” “Blaze” and “Tigress” — which may then be turned into comics.

For nervous studio greenlighters, having a graphic novel in hand makes script development cheaper and faster, since essentially the book is a screenplay and detailed storyboard wrapped into one. It can be beneficial for the writer too, since he’ll likely retain more rights than he would by selling an original screenplay.

But most important, they’re much more fun to read.

“I don’t think there’s a single worse story form than the screenplay,” says Miller, who’s finishing his directing debut, “The Spirit,” based on a classic work by graphic novel progenitor Will Eisner.

“They’re unreadable. Just about everything makes you want to put the thing down! Whereas a graphic novel is full of pictures . . . and you get a much clearer idea of what you’d have to spend to make” a film.

 

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Jimmy Kimmel Grills the Lost Bosses

On a Monday morning earlier this month, the late-night talk-show host arrived on the Disney Studio lot in Burbank tasked with a mission: Grill Lost‘s executive producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, about their massively dissected drama, which returns April 24 to round out its critically hailed fourth season.  Kimmel, a diehard fan since the pilot, has frequently championed the series on The Jimmy Kimmel Show .

 

 

Kimmel: The island heals some people and doesn’t heal others. For instance, Ben needed an operation from Jack to beat cancer, but it seems like Sawyer gets injured every sixth episode and by the next, he’s fine. Is that just a TV thing?
Carlton Cuse:
Wow. [Laughs] Where are the softball questions, Jimmy? What about the warm-up?


Damon Lindelof: The short answer is, it’s not arbitrary. Yes, there is a certain degree of compressing story. The idea that everything you’ve seen has really happened in 110 days of real time feels fantastical, but that’s the convention of the show. However, who gets sick and how fast they heal is something we talk about. In the second episode back [airing May 1], that becomes a major issue in the story. One character gets sick and another who has had experience being healed voices exactly that question: Is there any rhyme or reason to it?
Cuse: The healing is related to the degree to which you are in communion with the island at any given moment. Perhaps Ben getting sick and needing surgery had to do with the fact that he had fallen out of favor, that his connection with the island was maybe not what it had been in the past. Kimmel: How do cast members find out they’re getting killed off?
Cuse: We call them ahead of the publishing of the script. So whenever we actually call a cast member, they’re always panicked. Even if it’s like, “No, we’re just calling to say you were great in this episode.”
Kimmel: Did you call Mr. Friendly beforehand to tell him he was gay?
Lindelof: [Laughs] No.

Kimmel: Do all the show’s writers know Lost‘s overarching secret, if there is one?
Lindelof: They all know what the island is and what the history of the island is. But if Carlton and I were kidnapped, and the kidnappers said, “We will not release them until you divulge the last episode of Lost,” I don’t know if the writers would be able to provide that.

Kimmel: I see. So you don’t trust your writers. [Laughs] But you do actually know the final specific scene?
Lindelof: We absolutely, 100 percent know what the last scene of the show is and could put [the pages] in a safe deposit box. But there is an asterisk next to that, which is that we’re slaves to fluctuations in reality. If one of the actors in that scene decided to stop being in Lost
Cuse: Or, perchance, got a DUI, the entire ending of the show could change. Basically, the show is in the hands of Hawaii law enforcement. [Laughs]

Kimmel: People come up to you all the time with theories. Has anyone come close to cracking the code?
Cuse: I think there are two assumptions that people make that are incorrect. One is that the whole answer to Lost reduces down to a sentence. It’s not like searching for Einstein’s Unified Field Theory. And the second is that you have enough information to “crack the code.” The flash-forwards completely changed your notion of the show. So how could you do some accurate theorizing before you even knew those existed?

Kimmel: Has anyone made a really lucky guess?
Lindelof: In certain areas. Last season, when we showed what happened when Desmond turned the key in the hatch and he went on this little jaunt back in England, people started saying, “Maybe the electromagnetism on the island is related to space and time.” But that’s just one road on the map that is ultimately gonna be the entire show. The longer it goes on, the harder it is to construct a theory that basically answers everything you’ve seen so far.
Cuse: Even though we get asked a lot of questions about the mythology, Jimmy, we’re really trying to write a character show. We spend about 80-90 percent of our time talking about how the characters are lost in their own lives as people. The mythology is kind of the frosting on the cake.

Kimmel: Do you have one jerk on staff whose job it is to come up with all of Sawyer’s nicknames?
Cuse: I wouldn’t call him a jerk. [Laughs] I’d call him one of our most valued writers, and his name is Eddy Kitsis.
Lindelof: And Adam [Horowitz], too. They both come up with a whole cavalcade of them.

Kimmel: What happened to the smoke monster? High winds?
Cuse: We’ll see the smoke monster in the April 24 episode.

Kimmel: [Laughs] Do people find clues that surprise you guys?
Lindelof: In the pilot, there’s a still frame of Walt, and behind him, burnt into the fuselage wreckage, is what looks like a Dharma symbol. We’d talked about the idea that there had been a group of hippies on the island, but the phrase “The Dharma Initiative” or the design for the logo didn’t come along until much later. But it’s there and it’s not Photoshopped. Suddenly, you understand how hundreds of people can show up and see…
Cuse: The Virgin Mary in a piece of toast. It’s a mystery that’s even greater than our understanding.
Lindelof: We would love in moments like that to go, “Yes. We knew we’d be introducing the idea of the Dharma Initiative in the second season premiere and we wanted people to go back to the pilot and see that the symbol had been burned into the fuselage.” But if we had known, we wouldn’t have done it in such an oblique way. Sawyer would’ve went [adopts Southern twang], “Hey, what’s this?” We want people to see our Easter eggs.

Kimmel: Something I noticed early on is that many of the characters have issues with their lousy fathers.
Cuse: Is this the part where we have to cry?

Kimmel: Jack obviously. Locke. Sun’s father is a killer. Kate killed hers.
Cuse: You’d be better off just listing the people who have healthy relationships with their fathers.

Kimmel: Is that a coincidence?
Cuse: No. We’re sort of working out our own psychological traumas in front of 15 million people.
Lindelof: Look, there’s a certain aspect of the hero’s journey, whether it’s Luke Skywalker or Hercules or Harry Potter, where they’re either orphans or have incredibly dysfunctional relationships with their fathers. They haven’t been told what to do. They have to find a mentor character outside of their own family. The show’s called Lostand we always imagined it from the beginning as a show about characters trying to be better people and evolve past their own petty insecurities and problems. And if you’re gonna do flashbacks, some of them are gonna be about stuff that was put on them by their parents.

Kimmel: Is the person in the coffin someone who’s not from the island?
Lindelof: [To Cuse] Tread lightly.
Cuse: You will know who’s in the coffin before the season is over, and it will not be like, “Who’s that person?”
Lindelof: The only people you can rule out, based on what you saw in last year’s finale, are Kate and Jack.

Kimmel: And the baby, just based on the size.
Cuse: Yeah, it’s too big a coffin for a baby.
 

 

 

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Cover to McSweeney’s 27

McSweeney’s 27 comes to you as three separate books in a windowed slipcase, presenting six different possible faces to the world, in order to best match your home décor.  Book One plunges into the grayish, faintly understood area of the art world involving oddly drawn objects coupled with uncertainly spelled text.  Book Two is a never-before-seen 72-page sketchbook by the legendary Art Spiegelman.  Book Three collects new stories by Stephen King, Jim Shepard, and fiveish others.   

It is due to be published in May 2008.  The cover was illustrated by Scott Teplin.

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Iron Man Trailer

From Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures comes Iron Man, an action-packed take on the tale of wealthy philanthropist Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who develops an invulnerable robotic suit to fight the throes of evil.  In addition to being filthy rich, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark is also a genius inventor.  When Stark is kidnapped and forced to build a diabolical weapon, he instead uses his intelligence and ingenuity to construct an indestructible suit of armor and escape his captors.  Once free, Stark discovers a deadly conspiracy that could destabilize the entire globe, and dons his powerful new suit on a mission to stop the villains and save the world. Gwyneth Paltrow co-stars as his secretary, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, while Terrence Howard fills the role of Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes, one of Stark’s colleagues, whose military background leads him to help in the formation of the suit. Jon Favreau directs and the film is due in theaters on May 2, 2008.

 

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Trailer

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Trailer will be in theaters on May 22, 2008.  Everyone’s favorite archeologist adventurer returns for another globe-trotting trek as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg team with screenwriter David Koepp to bring Indiana Jones back to the big screen after nearly 20 years.

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Author Joe Hill

Joe Hill’s first book, 20th Century Ghosts was first published in 2005 by PS Publishing.  Due to popular demand it was recently reissued in the US.  This brilliant collection showcases fourteen of his short stories and won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, together with the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story for “Best New Horror”.

                                                                                                             

Joe Hill is an exciting new voice in horror fiction and by the way…he just so happens to be Stephen King’s son.

 

 

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The Spirit Teaser Trailer Revealed

Here is the first teaser trailer for Will Eisner’s The Spirit, which will be released on January 16, 2009. Click below to get your first taste of this new film, which was written and directed by Frank Miller.

 

 

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Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger

Hotel rooms and airport terminals never seem to have enough power outlets to charge all the devices today’s traveler brings along. Now you can add outlets and peace of mind on business trips and vacations with the Belkin Mini Surge Protector ($24.99 Retail).This new design features three AC outlets and two powered USB outlets – perfect for MP3 players and mobile phones. 
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The Pixar Story

A reminder for all of  you that have access to the Starz channel. The Pixar Story, Leslie Iwerk’s Eddie Award nominated documentary, will be airing on Starz, 10pm ET/PT on April 22.

 

You can watch the trailer below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

It has a bad title but it’s a funny movie in the vein of 40 Year Old Virgin or Superbad.  I was pleasantly surprised.  It stars Jason Segal, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Bill Hader and Jonah Hill.

                     

PLOT:            

 

Devastated Peter takes a Hawaii vacation in order to deal with recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah.  Little does he know Sarah’s traveling to the same resort as her ex … and she’s bringing along her new boyfriend.

 

 

 

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Batman: The Killing Joke Special Edition Hardcover

The classic Batman tale by two of comics’ great legends, Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, returns in an all-new special edition. This edition – celebrating the 20th anniversary of the landmark work – features all-new coloring by Bolland and includes the story “An Innocent Guy,” previously featured in Batman: Black and White.This tale is short but packs a real punch as the Joker escapes from Arkham once more – as Commissioner Gordon and the Batman try to track him down, tragedy strikes close to home as the Joker breaks into Gordon’s home and shoots his daughter Barbara – the former Batgirl –crippling her for life before kidnapping a distraught Gordon and attempting to drive him as insane as the Joker himself. Alan’s on top notch in this self-contained tale while Brian’s glorious artwork demands going back for re-reading time and again. Superb!

DC, hardback, 64 pages, published March 2008

 

 

 

 

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The Spirit Teaser Poster Debuts

Here is the new teaser poster for Frank Miller’s The Spirit, opening in theaters on January 16, 2009. Based on the Will Eisner comic book, the action-adventure stars Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Paz Vega, Jaime King, Dan Lauria, Stana Katic, Johnny Simmons and Louis Lombardi.

 

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ABC Launches Lostscape

ABC.com today launched LOSTscape, a unique, engaging, immersive environment where fans can explore and interact with iconic items from the hit series “Lost.” Fans can also view 34 clips from the show in which the items were used, as well as enjoy sneak peeks of upcoming original episodes not available anywhere else. In addition, they can enter for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con to attend the “Lost” panel in person.

Participants will instantly be immersed in the setting of the island and its immediate surroundings, discovering and collecting objects along the way. As visitors scroll across the LOSTscape, they’ll encounter various items, some obvious, some not. Most items trigger a popup window containing a brief video clip from the episode in which they first appeared, along with textual, story-related information about it. There are 34 items to be found, but once fans have identified seven, they’ll be invited to enter for a chance to win a trip to Comic-Con for themselves and a friend.

The Comic-Con trip will consist of round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations and transportation for two people to San Diego, CA to attend the “Lost” panel. In addition to preferred seating, there will be a meet-and-greet with special cast members and executives from the show. Entry deadline is June 30. No purchase necessary. Go here for official rules.

 

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Lala.com – CD Trading Web Site

LaLa.com is a web site for trading used CD’s.  You can trade your second-hand CDs with other members of the site.  LaLa charges $1.75 for each CD you receive, and that includes the shipping costs, so it’s a great way to convert your old CDs that you are tired of into better ones rather cheaply.

 

It works like this: you list the CDs you have on the LaLa site, and also the CDs you want.  If another LaLa member wants a CD you have, a “Ship It” button appears next to that CD when you visit the site.  If you click Ship It, LaLa gives you the address of the person to ship it to.  You fill out the provided mailer with their address, and send them the CD.

When you ship a CD, your account is credited one CD.  LaLa will then show your address to members who have the CDs that you want, and so other people send you discs that you have requested.  When you receive a CD, you’re even again.  LaLa keeps track of how many discs you send and receive.  When you receive a CD, it is yours to keep.

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Trophy Cupcakes & Party, Seattle

Chocolate Graham Cracker with Toasted Marshmallow

 

Trophy Cupcakes are to die for! I know this may sound a bit extreme but it’s true. I first heard of them on a recent episode of Martha Stewart where the owner spent some time baking with Martha. They looked great so naturally they were on the list of “musts” when we took a little road trip to the Emerald City. The store itself is in a converted schoolhouse with a vintage feel. I found they had a huge variety to choose from- Triple Chocolate, Red Velvet, Vanilla on Vanilla and some unusual flavors as well- Lemon, Triple Coconut and the Chocolate Graham Cracker with Toasted Marshmallow. They were moist and delicious cupcakes with decadent frostings. A perfect combination for an individual indulgence! 

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Clock of the Long Now

The Clock of the Long Now, also called the 10,000-year clock, is a proposed mechanical clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years. The project to build it is part of the Long Now Foundation.  I was involved with this initiative in providing them with Pro/ENGINEER software to build the mechanism.

The project was conceived by Danny Hillis in 1986 and the first prototype of the clock began working on December 31, 1999, just in time to display the transition to the year 2000. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, the date indicator changed from 01999 to 02000, and the chime struck twice, to ring in the “third millennium“. That prototype, approximately two meters tall, is currently on display at the Science Museum in London.

As of December 2007, two more recent prototypes are on display at The Long Now Museum & Store at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

The Long Now Foundation has purchased a mountaintop near Ely, Nevada, surrounded by the Great Basin National Park, for the permanent storage of the full sized clock, once it is constructed. It will be housed in a series of rooms (the slowest mechanisms visible first) in the white limestone cliffs, approximately 10,000 feet up the Snake Range. The site’s dryness, remoteness, and lack of economic value should protect the clock from corrosion and development. Hillis chose this part of Nevada because it is home to a number of dwarf bristlecone pines, which the Foundation notes are nearly 5,000 years old.

 

 

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LOST “The Shape of Things to Come” Extended Promo

LOST (One of the best shows on TV) returns to ABC on Thursday April 24, 2008 at 10 PM.  Here is the extended promo video:

 

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Zach Galifianakis

Zach Galifianakis is one of my favorites comics.  Check out his Comedy Central Special here:

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Madonna 4 Minutes Video

Madonna is 50 years old and still creates infectious relevant music:

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Dave Eggers: 2008 TED Prize wish: Once Upon a School

Accepting his 2008 TED Prize, author Dave Eggers of McSweeney’s fame asks the TED community to personally, creatively engage with local public schools. With spellbinding eagerness, he talks about how his 826 Valencia tutoring center inspired others around the world to open their own volunteer-driven, wildly creative writing labs. But you don’t need to go that far, he reminds us — it’s as simple as asking a teacher “How can I help?”

Watch the video here.

 

 

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