WHAT: “A Night of Funny People”: a one-time-only comedy performance that will be filmed for use in Universal Pictures’ upcoming Funny People, from writer/director/producer Judd Apatow. The film stars Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, RZA, Aubrey Plaza and Aziz Ansari.
WHO: Judd Apatow hosts, performing live as their characters in the film are Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Aziz Ansari, as well as Patton Oswalt and other surprise special guests in the line-up.
WHERE: The Orpheum Theatre, 842 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014.
WHEN: Tuesday, January 13, 2009 – 7:00 PM
Tickets are $20 and go on sale through Ticketmaster at 12 PM on Friday, December 19. Call (213) 480-3232 for tickets or go to Ticketmaster. Performances are for audience members over the age of 18.
WHY: The night will benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and 826LA.
826LA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
I Love You, Man is an upcoming 2009 comedy film starring Paul Rudd and Jason Segel, scheduled to be released on March 20, 2009. In the film, Peter Klaven (Rudd) is a successful real estate agent who, upon getting engaged to the woman of his dreams, Zooey, discovers, to his dismay and chagrin, that he has no male friend close enough to serve as his Best Man. Peter immediately sets out to rectify the situation, embarking on a series of bizarre and awkward “man-dates,” before meeting Sydney Fife (Segal), a charming, opinionated man with whom he instantly bonds. But the closer the two men get, the more Peter’s relationship with Zooey suffers, ultimately forcing him to choose between his fiancee and his new found “bro,” in a story that comically explores what it truly means to be a “friend.”
It’s a “mockable emblem of Eisenhower-era family values, a stand-in for geekiness, a pasttime so decidely unhip that it’s hip,” former Wall Street Journal reporter Stefan Fatsis once wrote about the best-selling board game Scrabble, which turned 60 on Tuesday. Fatsis would know: while researching Word Freak, his bestselling 2001 book about the game’s most fanatical players, he became a self-proclaimed word freak himself. And he’s not alone. More than 150 million Scrabble sets have been sold in 121 countries since its creation in 1931.
Madonna and Martha Stewart love it, as do Rosie O’Donnell, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Keanu Reeves and “Junk Bond King” Michael Milken, who organized a Scrabble tournament in the early 1990s at the white-collar prison where he was serving time for securities fraud. Even Queen Elizabeth II is a fan, perhaps in part because her first son was born the very same year that “Scrabble” became a trademark. (That coincidence did not go unnoticed in Britain. An artist commemorated the 60th birthday of Prince Charles and the board game by creating a portrait of the Prince entirely composed of Scrabble tiles.) In countries like Senegal, Scrabble is an official sport. In fact, when Senegal hosted the French Scrabble World championship this summer, its government commissioned a special Scrabble song to mark the occasion.
Scrabble was conceived during the Great Depressioin by an unemployed New York architect named Alfred Mosher Butts, who figured Americans could use a bit of distraction. After determining what he believed were the most enduring games in history — board games, numbers games like dice or cards and letter games like crossword puzzles — he combined all three. He then chose the frequency and the distribution of the tiles by counting letters on the pages of the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune and The Saturday Evening Post. For more than a decade he tweaked and tinkered with the rules while trying — and continually failing — to attract a corporate sponsor. The Patent Office rejected his application not once, but twice, and on top of that, he couldn’t settle on a name. At first he simply called his creation “it” before switching to “Lexiko,” then “Criss-Cross Words.”
In 1948, when a New Yorker named James Brunot contacted Butts about mass-producing the game, he readily handed the operation over. Brunot’s contributions were significant: he came up with the iconic color scheme (pastel pink, baby-blue, indigo and bright red), devised the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles to make a word, and conceived the name “Scrabble.” The first Scrabble factory was an abandoned schoolhouse in rural Connecticut, where Brunot and several gracious friends manufactured 12 games an hour. When the chairman of Macy’s discovered the game on vacation and decided to stock his shelves with it, the game exploded. By 1952, Brunot’s homegrown assembly line was churning out more than 2,000 sets a week. Nearly 4 million Scrabble sets were sold in 1954 alone.
In 1971, Brunot and Butts sold the game’s rights to a company called Selchow & Righter. Butts received a total of $265,000 in royalties; Brunot got nearly $1.5 million. Coleco Industries Inc. took over after Selchow collapsed in the 1980s and when Coleco went bankrupt, Hasbro Inc. swooped in. In 1994, scandal rocked the Scrabblesphere when Hasbro announced plans to remove nearly 200 words deemed too offensive for the official Scrabble dictionary. The list of words ranged from ethnic slurs to playground phrases like “turd,” “fart” and “fatso.” Hasbro eventually compromised and published two officially sanctioned dictionaries — one for “recreational and school play” and the other for official tournaments and clubs; the latter contains a total of 120,302 words, dirty ones included.
Scrabble has been translated into 22 languages, from Arabic to Afrikaans. Oddly, the game is sold outside the U.S. by Hasbro’s rival, Mattel Inc. By the early 1990s, thanks to its acquisitions of Milton Bradley (maker of Life, Yahtzee and Candy Land) and Parker Brothers (Monopoly, Risk and Trivial Pursuit), Hasbro owned more than half of the $1.1 billion U.S. games market. But in 1993, Mattel outbid Hasbro, paying $90 million for the international rights to the game. Hence the game’s weirdly bifurcated homepage at Scrabble.com.
The Scrabble soap opera went viral earlier this year when both Hasbro and Mattel filed lawsuits against two brothers from Calcutta for launching “Scrabulous,” their own online version of the popular word game. Created in 2006 to waste time and wage distant linguistic battles, Scrabulous quickly became the most popular application on the social networking site Facebook, attracting more than 500,000 players each day. But the brothers, Jayant and Rajat Agarwalla, responded to the accusations of copyright infringement with a clever twist of their game. The newly dubbed “WordScraper” now features a malleable board that, if one feels so inclined, can be rearranged to form the original Scrabble board.
Even so, Facebook users were distraught, as evidenced by community groups like “Please God, I Have So Little: Don’t Take Scrabulous Too.” But last week, perhaps as an early birthday gift, Hasbro Inc. announced it had dropped its half of the lawsuits against the Agarwalla brothers. For players in the U.S. and Canada, at least, things are looking … well, Scrabulous. (Reprinted from Time)
The new Palazzo Versace hotel in Dubai wants to provide every luxury to its guests. The latest planned innovation is a refrigerated beach!
The beach will have a network of pipes beneath the sand containing a coolant that will absorb heat from the surface.
The swimming pool will be refrigerated and there are also proposals to install giant blowers to waft a gentle breeze over the beach.
Versace’s plans have shocked environmentalists. Rachel Noble, the campaigns officer at Tourism Concern, which promotes sustainable tourism, said that the carbon generated by such projects would contribute to climate change, whose worst effects would be felt by the poor.
“Dubai is like a bubble world where the things that are worrying the rest of the world, like climate change, are simply ignored so that people can continue their destructive lifestyles,” she said.
The hotel should open in late 2009 or early 2010. (From Neatorama)
In a surprise announcement, Apple said that next month’s Macworld Expo will be its last. The company doesn’t plan on exhibiting at the event after 2009.
Also, Steve Jobs will not be giving the keynote address, handing that honor to Phil Schiller, senior VP of worldwide product marketing. It will be Apple’s final keynote address at the event.
In a press release, Apple said it has scaled back its presence at other trade shows, including NAB, Macworld New York, Macworld Tokyo, and Apple Expo in Paris.
This will be the 25th Macworld Expo. Steve Jobs had given the keynote address since 1997, when he returned to the company as interim CEO.
Burger King is on a roll. Or maybe a bun. Just in time for Christmas giving, they’re offering something special for rude fast-food dudes.
The chain has debuted “Flame,” a new men’s body spray that promises to make the guys on your Christmas list smell like “flame-broiled” meat. Even if their significant others are offended, their dogs will love them. Cats will worship at their feet. A little spritz before that post Christmas hunting trip will attract carnivorous animals from miles around.
The warped BK marketers are actually selling “Flame” online via Ricky’s, a New York-based costume retailer, for the amazingly low price of $3.99. Click HERE to place your order. Not available from your nearby drive through. Makes a perfect stocking stuffer for the olfactory challenged in your life.
Rumors that Burger King will offer a body wash that smells like French fries in time for Valentine’s Day are unfounded.
Still looking for some last minute holiday gifts? Skymall, the complimentary airline shopping magazine has some suggestions for your gift-buying needs!
HERE are the top 10 choices of necessary items that you just can’t live without. My personal favorite is the slanket…
Savage Dragon issue # 145 published by Image Comics marks the first time Barack Obama will appear in a comic book as President of the United States. The comic arrives in stores on February 25th.
The Black & Decker 3.6 Volt Lithium Ion SmartDriver ($40) is a one-handed cordless screwdriver that features a retractable screw-holder with magnetic tip, as well as a 6-position clutch for picking what size screw you’re using (to prevent stripping) and a built-in LED work light.
Here is a new clip from the upcoming fifth-season premiere episode of ABC’s LOST, which airs Jan. 21. I can’t wait!
Here is the Star Trek theatrical banner of the Enterprise crew featuring Scotty, McCoy, Uhura, Kirk, Spock, Sulu and Chekov.
The film stars Chris Pine, John Cho, Ben Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Winona Ryder, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana, Leonard Nimoy, Marlene Forte, and Jimmy Bennett.
From director J.J. Abrams and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, “Star Trek,” featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before. Star Trek will beam into theatres on May 8, 2009.
Jack Black is set to guest-star in the upcoming post Super Bowl episode of “The Office.” The announcement was made by Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios.
In one plot of the special post Super Bowl episode of “The Office,” some of the office workers try to secretly watch a bootlegged Hollywood movie during the workday. The movie stars Jack Black and other notable Hollywood actors.
The special hour-long episode titled “Stress Relief” will premiere immediately following “Super Bowl XLIII,” Sunday, February 1 (10:30-11:30 p.m. ET; simultaneously to all time zones) on NBC. Season five of the Emmy-Award winning series will continue airing in its regular time slot; Thursdays (9-9:30 p.m. ET/PT) on NBC.
Here is the poster for “Race to Witch Mountain” starring Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb, Carla Gugino, Ciarán Hinds, Cheech Marin, Tom Everett Scott, Christine Lakin, and Garry Marshall.
The film is due out March 13, 2009.
For years, stories have circulated about a secret place in the middle of the Nevada desert, known for unexplained phenomena and strange sightings. It is called Witch Mountain, and when a Las Vegas cab driver (Dwayne Johnson) finds two teens with supernatural powers in his cab, he suddenly finds himself in the middle of an adventure he can’t explain. When they discover that the only chance to save the world lies in unraveling the secrets of Witch Mountain, the race begins, as the government, mobsters and even extraterrestrials try to stop them. Race to Witch Mountain is a fun and thrilling adventure featuring incredible special effects.
Fox today outlined the schedule for the eighth season of “American Idol,” which reworks the elimination process to extend the Hollywood round and gives judges the opportunity to send some of their overlooked favorite contestants to the final.
“American Idol” will start airing Jan. 13 with three weeks of audition episodes from East Rutherford, N.J.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Phoenix; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; and San Juan.
The extended Hollywood rounds will last for two weeks, starting Feb. 3. On Feb. 11, the final 36 will be revealed, with audience voting beginning Feb. 17.
The judges — now made up of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and songwriter Kara DioGuardi — will then get a “wild card” round on March 5, after which the top 12 finalists will be set.
“Wherever we can, we want to change things up a bit,” executive producer Ken Warwick said. “[Previously] by the final 8, we’d be living with these kids for weeks already. If any of them don’t have fantastic characters, it got a bit boring.”
Warwick says that of the contestants this season, “there are maybe a couple less bad ones,” although he noted that the auditions in San Juan did not go well. “I have to give a cross-section of that people that show up,” he said. “If I set up this system where all the bad ones never got seen, I’d have a pretty boring show on my hands.”
And while ratings dipped over the course of the show last year, only to rebound for the final, Warwick says it’s all part and parcel of a long-running series.
“When you get to the eighth [season] of any series, you’ve got to expect it, logically, for the ratings to diminish slightly in parts,” he said. “The whole of the television audience last year went down — I believe the average was 12%- and I believe we were 7% down. So really, overall, we didn’t do that badly.”
In addition, Warwick said to look for more behind-the-scenes drama from the contestants as they proceed through the show — an element that was included in early seasons and has since been dropped. “I thought that was good, and I’m not sure if there was a reason we stopped doing it,” he said. “It very definitely is back in this year.”
Warwick said DioGuardi’s addition to the judge’s panel has mixed up the tone of the show a bit, and that DioGuardi and Abdul often find themselves facing off against Cowell. There are also no plans for the oft-embattled Abdul to leave the show.
“There’s never been any discussion that we would want to get rid of Paula,” he said. “America loves Paula. She’s an integral part of this program. I hope she’s there until the show goes off the air. Period.”