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COMIC-CON 2008: ‘Hamlet 2′

By | Sunday July 27, 2008 @ 12:14pm PDT

(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.) 

Now, when it comes to movies not really appropriate to the Con, there’s HAMLET 2. A comedy from Andrew Fleming (DICK) about a despondent high school drama teacher prone to staging pathetic stage interpretations of big-budget movies like ERIN BROCKOVICH, he’s driven to the edge when drama is cancelled, and decides to go out in a blaze of glory with an original work, the titular seuel, which is a musical that involves Jesus using a time machine to save Hamlet.

One of the musical numbers is called “Rock Me Sexy Jesus,” and that angle is being pushed hard here, with various Sexy Jesuses walking around in costume, presumably looking to appeal to fans of DOGMA or SOUTH PARK (co-writer Pam Brady is also a SOUTH PARK writer). Had this been a cartoon, perhaps it would have a better shot. But the problem is that it doesn’t commit to its cartoonishness. Though Fleming and Brady talk a lot about grounding it in reality, Coogan’s character is a walking Saturday Night Live skit. The kids he mentors are very real, but it’s impossible to care much about their moronic maestro. With that said, there are moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, notably any time … Read More »

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COMIC-CON 2008: ‘Mutant Chronicles’

By | Sunday July 27, 2008 @ 12:11pm PDT

(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.)  

THE MUTANT CHRONICLES is the perfect kind of movie to screen at Comic-Con. A sci-fi actioner that makes the maximum use of its limited budget, as-yet undistributed, but with actors popular in geekdom who all show up (Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, and Devon Aoki). Fill up a room or four (Room 6CDEF is basically four with all the barriers removed), pack the house, get ‘em cheering, and you can make a good case that your film is saleable.

And it’s no classic — though it follows the ALIENS template, more or less (team of soldiers on a mission who get picked off one by one by monsters), it shouldn’t be compared to higher budget things. Instead, think of it in comparison to similar direct-to-video flicks, and notice how much more solid it is than most. The script maybe could have been punched up — it starts with an interesting premise that isn’t fully explored. In the year 2707, the world is ruled by four corporations, which fight wars against each other in WWI trench style with massive artillery cannons. But when the wars break open a seal in the earth and awaken something called The Machine, mutants begin appearing, nasty dudes … Read More »

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COMIC-CON 2008: Day 4

By | Sunday July 27, 2008 @ 11:24am PDT

(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.) 

Miscellaneous Musings
When you start Day 4 with LOST and TERMINATOR 4, where can you go from there? Not too far, as it turns out. Used to be that Saturday was the big busy day for Comic-Con and Hall H, but today, there were seats available for most of the panels.

Disney gave us a look at BOLT, in which John Travolta voices a celebrity dog who thinks he has super-powers — but doesn’t. Hmmm, I seem to recall Travolta believing he can lay hands on people and cure them, so could this be typecasting, like PHENOMENON? Maybe. The Disney folks showed about 20 minutes of the movie, including an elaborate action sequence from the TV show Bolt where he tries to escape a styrofoam container in the real world, and an action sequence where he and a hamster break a cat out of the pound. Best of all were scenes on the set of savvy cats who costar in the show taunting Bolt by pretending to be super-villains. It’s funny, but after watching 20 minutes, I feel like I’ve seen all I need to.

Then there’s Pixar’s UP, from MONSTERS INC director Pete Docter, in which an old man attaches balloons to his … Read More »

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July 25-27: No. 1 ‘Dark Knight’ $75.6M, ‘Step Brother’ $30M, ‘X-Files 2′ $10.2M

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 10:58pm PDT

Fri   $23.2M (-65% from a week ago)
Sat   $28.2M (-41%)
Sun  $24.1M (-45%)

Weekend Total = $75.6M (-52% from a week ago)
Cume: $314.2M in 10 days (new record)

For full numbers and analysis, see:
‘DARK KNIGHT’ $311+M IN 10 DAYS: Keeps Smashing Record After Record
‘Step Brothers’ Big; ‘X-Files 2′ Bombs

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SAG National Board Reaffirms Jurisdiction Over All New Media Productions And Residuals For All Made-For-New Media

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 8:32pm PDT

SAG’s National Board met today and issued as statement.
(The AMPTP’s reaction is below it):

Los Angeles, July 26, 2008 — The National Board of Directors of Screen Actors Guild passed the following resolution at its meeting today:

It is a core principle of Screen Actors Guild –That no non-union work shall be authorized to be done under any Screen Actors Guild agreement and;

That all work under a Screen Actors Guild contract, regardless of budget level, shall receive fair compensation when reused.

Passed unanimously 68-0.This resolution represents guidance from the National Board of Directors to the National Negotiating Committee.  It reaffirmed the importance of these issues in these negotiations.“For some time, we have been telling the industry how important it is for all new media productions under our contract to be done union and how important residuals for made-for new media programming are when programs are re-run on new media,” said SAG National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen.

“I am very pleased that our National Board today unanimously confirmed these essential principles in support of our National Negotiating Committee,” Allen added.

And the AMPTP responded:

“The continued refusal of SAG’s negotiators to accept AMPTP’s final offer means that actors will continue to work indefinitely under the expired contract – an old contract that contains none of the $250 million in additional compensation provided by AMPTP’s final offer, and an old contract that provides none of the new media rights and residuals that other Hollywood Guild members have now been enjoying for months. SAG

Read More »

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COMICON 2008: ‘Terminator 4′ Panel

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 5:30pm PDT

(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.) 

With Christian Bale away in Japan to promote THE DARK KNIGHT, the spotlight at Comic-Con’s TERMINATOR SALVATION panel was stolen by a fan with a dead-on Arnold impersonation, who cracked up director McG so much that he invited the guy instage. “That was awesome, and if you’re Asian, that was fuckin’ unbelievable!” he said to the fan, a fellow named Tim who has a job in tech support. Flanked onstage by a seven-foot robot endoskeleton from the upcoming movie, McG introduced cast members including rapper Common, Moon Bloodgood, Bryce Dallas Howard (following in Claire Danes’ footsteps as Kate Connor), Anton Yelchin (playing a younger version of Michael Biehn’s Kyle Reese; kid’s got the prequels cornered, also playing young Chekov in STAR TREK), and Sam Worthington.

Considering his press-shy reputation, McG seemed very comfortable with public speaking. He got the crowd up by calling Bale’s voicemail and getting the entire crowd to cheer as loudly as they could so the star would hear it.

McG consulted James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to production, and hired the late Stan Winston to create new robots, some of which are apparently quite huge. He promises that the movie won’t be cut … Read More »

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Here’s The NY Times Profile Of Endeavor

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 5:00pm PDT

As promised, I’ll dissect it on Sunday Monday…

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“Take Back The LA Times”: Back To What?

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 4:41pm PDT

This shows just how much the Los Angeles Times is at war with itself. This 3-story-high banner (below) showed up on the side of the LA Times building before it was quickly removed security guards. Here is the explanation for why people risked their careers, and arrest, to put it up. “It’s big. It’s bold. It’s a first step toward prying the LA Times out of the tight, greedy fingers of billionaire Sam Zell,” according to the website TellZell which, along with LAObserved, has been chronicling the newspaper’s demise. (I’ve given up trying to cover every twist and turn. It’s a full-time job. And I already have one covering the business of Hollywood.) It sucks that real estate mogul Sam Zell so far has laid off or fired over 200 reporters, photographers, copy editors and editors. Few of the cuts have affected the TV and movie departments — yet. But I’m sure the time is coming soon when the moguls dictate their own coverage, and the reporters and editors merely act as stenographers. Oh wait: that began happening before Zell took over.


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COMIC-CON 2008: ‘Lost’ Panel

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 3:40pm PDT

(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.)  

LOST Panel
Caution: may make no sense at all to non-LOST-ies. And there’s way too much backstory for me to give you full context here. Though I got in late to the LOST panel after waiting in line for an hour, I don’t think I missed anything: it began with a fake recruiter from the Dharma Initiative explaining that they’d been trying to find new recruits all convention, but that “the results were abysmal.” He then shows footage of fans answering queations at the Dharama booth like “What would you sacrifice to stay alive?” (Best fan answer: “Carlton Cuse!”). The four best recruits are brought onstage — they look like stereotypical geeks. Recruiter says they’re exactly what he needs, and that he’s taking them backstage to see an exclusive video no-one else can see.

With that done (for the moment), LOST writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof took questions, giving out appropriate gifts to the people who asked them. A Hurley lookalike gets a big tub of ranch dressing. A fan asking about Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) gets an “I asked a Richard Alpert question and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” shirt. And … Read More »

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COMIC-CON 2008: Best Fan Costume

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 2:56pm PDT

Luke’s pick for Best Fan Costume: “Davy Jones” of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN


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COMIC-CON 2008: Watchmen’s Dr. M

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 2:19pm PDT

Here’s the newly unveiled 13″ action figure of Dr. Manhattan from WATCHMEN, followed by the smaller 7″ figure. Photos by Luke Y Thompson.



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COMIC-CON 2008: Sick Twisted Toons

By | Saturday July 26, 2008 @ 1:41pm PDT

(Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.) 

Spike Kids
Warning: If you’re not into gross stuff, even described in a discreet fashion, please skip this post. But every Comic-Con, “The King of Tasteless Toons,” solo-monikered Spike, shows close to two hours worth of animated shorts that all deal with explicit violence or sex (albeit in cartoon form). In a presentation called “The Gauntlet,” he solicits cheers and boos from the audience. Enough boos, and the film is immediately stopped and repalced onscreen; what’s left becomes that year’s official traveling “Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation.” It’s not quite scientific, and the process inherently discriminates against anything that has a slow build-up to a big finale. Not to mention that, if Spike personally likes something, he won’t yank it unless the audience is louder than a leaf-blower at 9AM.

This year, the audience seemed to be in an ornery mood, harder to predict than usual, as even cartoon erections displeased them, as did a short that presented Paris Hilton, who is apparently repugnant to this crowd even as an object of satire. Any cartoon that hinges on an annoying baby crying is always booed. Weird is fine — the big finale, was “Dr. … Read More »

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‘DARK KNIGHT’ $314.2M IN 10 DAYS: Keeps Smashing Record After Record; ‘Step Brothers’ Big; ‘X-Files 2′ Bombs

By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 11:37pm PDT


SUNDAY AM: Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight continues to power drive the North American box office and grossed a whopping $23.2 million Friday and $28.2 million Saturday from 4,366 theaters. That’s down only 65% and 41% respectively from its record-smashing debut a week ago. With a $75.6 million weekend, down only 52% from the best-ever Fri-Sat-Sun, the Christian Bale-Heath Ledger actioner directed by Chris Nolan broke the record not just for the best first week of all time, but also the biggest 2nd weekend of all time. The PG-13 pic will make $314.2M in just 10 days, the fastest ever (beating Pirates Of The Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest which did it is 16 days). All anybody can do at the studios is keep repeating the word, “Amazing”. And it is. There are even whispers starting whether Dark Knight can beat the incredible worldwide numbers posted by the all-time $1.8 billion benchmark of Titanic. ”It can be the first movie that has a real shot,” one rival studio bigwig told me cautiously. Because not only do people like the movie, but it’s getting incredible repeat business. Even occasional moviegoers are curious to see what all the fuss is about.

Once again Sony Pictures is able to open a low-brow comedy big at the box office – this time the Judd Apatow-produced Step Brothers from the Talledega Nights team. The Adam McKay-directed reunion … Read More »

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COMIC-CON 2008: Day 3 — ‘Spirit’ Panel

By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 8:10pm PDT

the_spirit_002.jpg (Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.)

“Will Eisner and Frank Miller.” That’s all the SPIRIT panel moderator had to say to elicit loud cheers from a jam-packed Hall H crowd. While Hollywood-ites may recognize Miller’s name from SIN CITY, Eisner, despite being so iconic in the comic world that the annual comic-book awards are named after him, is probably less familiar. And no, he’s not Michael’s brother. Eisner is the creator of The Spirit, about a murdered detective who returns from the dead as a justice-seeking crimefighter and ladies’ man. He was also a close friend of Millers until the day he died; Miller characterizes their friendship as “a 25-year argument.” His voice quavering as he remembered his friend, and his face full of character lines straight out of one of his own drawings, Miller came to the table with a dark beverage likely containing alcohol, caffeine, or both. He told the crowd that when he was offered the chance to make a movie version of Eisner’s signature character, he dropped everything else he was doing, including several unfinished comic book projects.

Then we watched the current theatrical trailer of SPIRIT, full of various gorgeous babes (among them Scarlett Johansson, Eva … Read More »

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MembershipFirst Submits SAG Board Slate

By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 4:52pm PDT

I was just given this to post in connection with the Screen Actors Guild’s upcoming September 18th election. This is the “MembershipFirst” slate opposing the already announced “United For Strength” slate, and it looks now as if both sides are ready for a campaign battle since they differ on many issues:

July 25th, 2008 – We are pleased to announce that MembershipFirst, a group of proud and galvanized professional actors, dedicated to ensuring that the Screen Actors Guild remain the strongest and most respected talent union in the world, has submitted its list of 33 potential candidates for the 2008 Hollywood Division of the Screen Actors Guild National Board Election. Some of MembershipFirst goals for the coming year are to; unite all actors under the Screen Actors Guild banner, protect actors wages and working conditions in all areas, fight for residuals in all media platforms, protect the right of every dues paying member to vote on SAG issues and to secure complete jurisdiction in new media. Putting the concerns of Screen Actor Guilds members first has been and will always be priority one for MembershipFirst. There are and will be many challenges facing the Guild and these determined actors, who are prepared to volunteer hundreds of hours of board service, are ready, able and more than willing to serve.

The potential MembershipFirst SAG National Board candidates are: Scott Bakula, Joe Bologna (incumbent), Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine, Joely Fisher, Lainie Kazan (incumbent), William

Read More »

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NY Times Profiling Endeavor on Sunday

By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 4:43pm PDT

Why Sunday instead of Monday Biz? (And why does New York Times writer Michael Cieply keep warning the Hollywood folks he writes about “not to tell Nikki”?) Anyway, Endeavor talent agency toppers hope it’s going to be a blow job on them just like that piece on CAA was. But as I always say, be careful what you wish for. Check in with DHD on Sunday when I’ll tell you a lot the newspaper’s business section didn’t about Endeavor.

  • NYT/CAA: Be Careful What You Wish For
  • NY Times’ CAA Story To Front Monday Biz
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    Ovitz And Burkle Settle Their Lawsuits

    By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 4:02pm PDT

    When I last left this litigious twosome, a judge had just dismissed billionaire Ron Burkle’s lawsuit against Michael Ovitz after ruling that the duo had been more friends than business partners on some Internet ventures. Which gives new meaning to the term “frenemies” considering the pair absolutely and positively loathe each other now. But Ovitz being Ovitz, the Hollywood has-been pressed on with his multimillion-dollar countersuit against Burkle seemingly to punish the supermarket magnate for dragging him into court in the first place. (Hey, what else has Mike got to do? Not much, especially after the Pellicano trial. Unless you count trying to peddle his last remaining client Tom Clancy around the world. And that takes, what, two minutes a week?) Ovitz was pissed he had paid all those fat legal fees defending himself. But the scheduled August 4th trial would have cost him even more billable hours. So last weekend Ovitz and Burkle came to an agreement whereby Ovitz dropped his countersuit, Burkle dropped his appeal, and the last 3 years of litigation ended.

  • Judge Dismisses Burkle Suit Against Ovitz
  • There’s A Mike Sucker Born Every Minute
  • Burkle vs Ovitz: Together Again In Court
  • Read More »

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    The Reality Of This Year’s Emmy Hosts

    By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 3:32pm PDT


    EXCLUSIVE: A reliable source just told me that this year’s Emmy hosts are going to be all 5 nominees in the Reality Host category. So that means: Tom Bergeron of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, Heidi Klum of Bravo’s Project Runway, Howie Mandel of NBC’s Deal or No Deal, Jeff Probst of CBS’ Survivor, and Ryan Seacrest of Fox’s American Idol. This was the first year reality TV hosts were eligible for an Emmy Award now that a category recognizing “outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program” was created by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. The award recognizes that reality TV has become “an integral part of television and our culture,” John Shaffner, chairman and CEO of the TV academy, said in a statement in April announcing the new honor. Eligibility was open to hosts of programs entered in the reality program and reality-competition categories. So clearly this Emmy hosting gig is a sop. (It’s been pointed out to me that these are all AFTRA shows and AFTRA hosts. Is this Big Media giving the finger to SAG?)

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    COMIC-CON 2008: ‘Wolfman’ Panel

    By | Friday July 25, 2008 @ 3:12pm PDT


    (Regular DHD readers know I don’t do geek. But frequent LA Weekly film reviewer and comic book expert Luke Y Thompson does. He spends all year waiting for Comic-Con and this time he’s covering it for me. Here’s his latest report.) 

    WOLFMAN Panel
    Benicio del Toro just made an unannounced appearance alongside Emily Blunt and makeup maestro Rick Baker to talk WOLFMAN. Actually, Baker did most of the talking, saying that, unlike his late pal/rival Stan Winston, “I’m probably the only guy in Hollywood who doesn’t wanna direct!” He was offered PUMPKINHEAD before Winston took it. Many cheers from the crowd when Baker said the Wolfman was a man in makeup and not CG. The trailer makes clear that the movie is set in the 1800s, and has all that olde spooky charm – misty woods and moors, fancy mansions, masked balls, Anthony Hopkins as del Toro’s dad, addressing his blood-covered son with the phrase “You’ve done terrible things!” And Wolfman has some big claws. Emily Blunt says that when she heard del Toro and Hopkins were attached, she said to herself, “I can run, I can scream — I can do that!” So will there be any direct nods to the Lon Chaney original? “The whole movie’s a direct nod!” says Baker.

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