2.NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
3.THE ICS BOARD FOR 2001
4.SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR OUR FEBRUARY MEETING: LE BAD
5.SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR OUR MARCH MEETING: A GAME SHOW!
6.SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR OUR APRIL MEETING: A NEW MEETING DATE
9.BRING IN YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS
10.A NEW FEATURE IN THE ICS FILE
11. FAREWELL TO OUR GUESTS
With news on FUTURAMA, MYSTERIOUS WAYS, SIN CITY, ANGEL, WILLIAM SHATNER'S FULL MOON FRIGHTSHOW and a new deal for Joss Whedon.
13.GONE WITH THE SYND?
Trouble for TV syndication.
14.MORE BABYLON 5?
15.BRUCE BOXLEITNER IS SKEPTICAL OF A NEW B5
16.GILES MAY BE BUFFY'ED-OUT
17.SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR EARNS THE NAME "BUFFY"
18.BUFFY TALKS GET UGLY
19.THE WB STILL WANTS BUFFY
20.BUFFY STILL WANTS THE WB, BUT DON'T QUOTE HER ON THAT
22.THE EVOLUTION OF A CARTOON
23.FIRST WAVE ANSWERS DUE
24.FREAKYLINKS IS HISTORY
25.CHRIS CARTER OFFERS LONE GUNMEN DETAILS AND LINKS ITS FATE WITH THE X-FILES
26.A LONE GUNMAN STAR PROCLAIMS ITS NOT AN X-FILES SPINOFF
27.MUTANT X IS ON ITS WAY
28.THE FUTURE OF STAR TREK: VOYAGER
29.THE FUTURE OF NEXT TREK
30.THE FUTURE OF STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
31.THE FUTURE OF UPN
32.THE WB OPTIONS 'PLANETARY'
33.SOUTH PARK CREATORS' BUSH COMEDY CENSORED
34.AHEAD FOR THE X-FILES
With news on KATSUCON, CREATIONCON, THE JOHNS HOPKINS FILM FESTIVAL, FILMFEST DCand CHILLER THEATER TOY, MODEL, AND FILM EXPO.
37.THE MAN WHO MADE 2001 FAMOUS IS SUFFERING FROM POST-POLIO SYNDROME
38.STAN LEE TO RE-INVENT THE DC UNIVERSE
39.FARMER IS NAMED GRAND MASTER
41.PLAYER: SCREEN ACTORS GUILD
42.PLAYER: WRITER'S GUILD OF AMERICA
43.PLAYER: THE ALLIANCE OF MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION PRODUCERS
44.PLAYER: DIRECTOR'S GUILD OF AMERICA
45.POTENTIAL STUDIO WEAPONS
46.ISSUE: A STRIKE WOULD HELP THE STUDIOS
47.ISSUE: THE STUDIOS CAN'T AFFORD TO MEET THE DEMANDS
48.ISSUE: GUILD MEMBERS ARE MAKING MORE THAN EVER
49.ISSUE: INTERNET RESIDUALS
50.ISSUE: THE POSSESSORY CREDIT
51.ISSUE: WRITER INVOLVEMENT IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS
52.ENGLISH SPEAKING FOREIGN COUNTRIES MAY WELCOME THE STRIKES
55.JACK IS UP FOR MORE JOKER
56.THE BLAIR WITCH LIVES
57.THE OTHER MUMMY MOVIE, BUBBA HO-TEP
58.THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION SOUTH AFRICA DOESN'T WANT TO SEE
59.A "NEW" BRUCE LEE MOVIE'S GETTING RELEASED IN JAPAN
60.BRUCE LEE'S VILLA IS NOW A BROTHEL
61.HANNIBAL WILL FEEL PRETTY AND WITTY AND WISE
62.JULIANNE MOORE AND THE SILENCE OF THE COWS
63.DE LAURENTIS WANTS ANTHONY HOPKINS BACK AS HANNIBAL
64.ANTHONY HOPKINS VOWS NEVER TO APPEAR AS HANNIBAL AGAIN
65.HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY SEEKS A RIDE
66.THE HULK IS TAKING SHAPE IN THE HANDS OF ANG LEE
67.THE TOLKIEN FAMILY DREADS THE RELEASE OF LORD OF THE RINGS
68.LORD OF THE RINGS BECOMES LORD OF THE WEB
69.A MONKEY'S AUNT
70.PLANET OF THE OOPS!
71.THE SCI-FI CHANNEL GROWS A CROP OF NEW SCIENCE FICTION DIRECTORS
72.SAM RAIMI DISCUSSES SPIDER-MAN
73.TREK X WAITS OUT THE STRIKES
74.DIGITAL STAR WARS IS LOOKING GOOD!
75.ANGELINA JOLIE WILL BE LARA CROFT TWO MORE TIMES
76.UA THEATERS AGREES TO INSTALL SEATS FOR THE DISABLED
77.IMAGINATIVE CINEMA FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY
News on the release of VALENTINE , HANNIBAL and MONKEYBONE.
79.MARS COMES TO THE WEB
80.STEVEN SPIELBERG AND RON HOWARD TEAM UP ONLINE
82.MIRAMAX WILL PUT FILMS ON YOUR PC
83.DISH NETWORK WILL OFFER A NEW "ON DEMAND" RECEIVER
84.DON'T LOOK FOR AFFORDABLE RlECORDABLE DVD PLAYERS SOON
85.LOOK FOR CHEAP DVD-VHS COMBINATTION PLAYER
86.iDVD IS SET FOR A SUMMER RELEASE
87.D-VHS WILL FINALLY MAKE ITS DEBUT THIS SPRING
89.BEDAZZLED TO GET A SPLIT VHS/DVD SHIPMENT
90.BRINGING THE DRIVE-IN HOME
|1.THE JANUARY MEETING WAS EXCELLENT
We had fun at our January meeting. We celebrated our 2nd anniversary with a special sheet cake that bore our ICS logo. We had our elections (see details below). We got to watch the Three Stooges short, "I Want My Mummy" and the 1974 film THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, all courtesy of Michael Schilling. We also made some money for the club with the sale of (mostly) old science fiction books to our members. It was a blast!
|2.NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
Our February meeting will be held on Saturday February 24th at 6:00 P.M. at the church hall behind the Perry Hall Presbyterian Church located at 8848 BelAir Road. Take Baltimore Beltway exit 32 north on Belair Road. Turn left onto Joppa Road. Immediately past the miniature golf course turn left into the parking lot. If you miss it there are ample turn-around opportunities. If you get stuck call 410-598-8005. That's Dave Henderson's cell phone. He'll talk you in.
|3.THE ICS BOARD FOR 2001
We had our annual election at our January meeting. Our new Board of Directors looks like this:
|4.SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR OUR FEBRUARY MEETING:
We're trying something a little different for February. We're deliberately bringing in the worst movies that we can find. Here's how this works. We're asking club members to bring in the single worst movie that they own (or have access to). I'll be giving a talk that night on bad movies. Then we'll ask people to tell us why their movie is the lamest in the land. As usual, we'll vote, but this time asking our members to select the most noxious weed from our garden of stinkers.
Below is a list from our growing Hall of Shame. After each title I've got quotes from victims who've actually endured the corresponding title (their comments are excerpted from viewer reviews done for the Internet Movie Data Base).
THE BRAINIAC (1962/Mexico) - Charlie Wittig
" . . . a movie that is so magically, unashamedly bad that it covers you in puppy-dog kisses and dares you not to love it."
HILLBILLYS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE (1967) - Dave Henderson
"This would have made a tasty treat for MST3K to bash, and it would no doubt rival MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE for the most awful, ickiest, dreckiest piece o' crapola ever."
INVISIBLE INVADERS(1959) - Rick Rieve
"The only way to make it through this film is get a bunch of friends, drink LOTS of beer, then watch the movie. You'll probably enjoy it more drunk than sober!"
IT'S ALIVE! (1969) - Vince DiLeonardi
"The terrible acting, inane dialogue, and the hysterically cheap monster costume makes this movie a cult classic."
KING OF THE ZOMBIES (1941) - Joe Plempel
"This is one the worst zombie films I've ever seen . . . "
ORGY OF THE DEAD (1965) - David Willard
"This film actually made me question my heterosexuality. . . . I never thought it would be possible to lower the male libido by viewing semi-nude women prancing around. I was wrong. DEAD WRONG! . . . I think convicted sex offenders should be made to watch this movie every day of their incarceration."
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1958) - David Willard
". . . a . . . movie with a bad plot, horrible acting, unexplained theories and characters, but above all; extremely entertaining."
RAT PFINK A BOO BOO (1965) - David Willard
"... it's an abomination, but you can't tear yourself away from it."
ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964) - Bob Thompson
SCHLOCK! (1971) - David Willard
"Is it great filmmaking? Not by a long shot."
SHE DEMONS (1958) - Sue Feder
TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) - Regina Vallerani
" . . . the actors are so utterly devoid of emotion or understanding, and the script so complex and talk-heavy that after about five minutes, the movie just sits across your chest and crushes the life out of you."
|5.SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR OUR MARCH MEETING: A GAME
In March get ready to play "ICS ACADEMIC!" It will be a lively game show that (we hope) will involve everyone in the club who'd like to play. We'll be playing on teams. It will consist of a series of trivia questions concerning imaginative cinema and television. The questions and rules are being ironed out now. Look for more details as we draw closer to the date.
|6.SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR OUR APRIL MEETING: A NEW
The Board has agreed to move up the date for our April meeting by one weekend (that would make it April 21st). We did this out of anticipation that many of our club members might want to attend the Chiller Theater convention that will be held the last weekend of April. For details on the convention see the "THINGS TO COME" section below under "Events."
With the new year its time to renew memberships once again. Club members who'll be renewing have until the March meeting to renew. Individual memberships are $20. Couples are $30. Below is a list of everyone that our records show as having already renewed their memberships. If anyone feels that their name has been accidentally omitted please contact our new treasurer, Regina Vallerani.
We have booked people to bring in movies until August. Below is a list of people that we have listed for movies:
|9.BRING IN YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS
Coming up later this year the Imaginative Cinema Society will have a table at a convention. We'll need things to sell. As you review your books, replace videos with DVD's or simply find movie-related things around that you just don't care for anymore consider bringing to a meeting. We'll be putting donated items out for sale, allowing our club members to have first crack at them. Later we'll be offering them for sale at conventions. Any movie (or TV) stuff or sci-fi/horror/fanasy books that you can spare will be deeply appreciated.
|10.A NEW FEATURE IN THE ICS FILE
Since the birth of the club in the beginning of 1999, the Internet has emerged as a separate medium. For quite sometime it has offered support for other media, with sites about books, movies, television and other things. But increasingly there are things Online that have no link to the Offline world - they're unique to the Net. It's high time that we gave them special treatment.
So, starting with this issue, we'll have a separate department for "Internet News." It'll cover the parts of the Net that pertain to Imaginative Cinema. We'll also take the occasional detour down some of the many odd tributaries that make up the Web. It should be fun.
|11. FAREWELL TO OUR GUESTS
We have several people who've been receiving complementary issues of "The ICS Files" for the last several months. They had, at some point, expressed an interest in the club. Your complementary subscription is at an end. You've had an opportunity to learn a little about us. We hope that you can drop by some last Saturday of the month. We'll be around.
|12.THE GLASS TEAT
FUTURAMA will be back. Fox has renewed its animated series FUTURAMA, ordering another 18 episodes for next season. It will be the show's fourth season. . . . Even more MYSTERIOUS WAYS. NBC has extended its partnership with Pax TV on MYSTERIOUS WAYS. Pax has ordered a full 22 episodes of the show for next season, and NBC has secured rights to air eight of those episodes on an exclusive basis at least eight days before Pax. NBC is expected to air those episodes beginning in July. . . . Screenwriter About Mafia Is Murdered. In a bid to compete against HBO's mafia sensation, THE SOPRANOS, Showtime has been putting together their own wise guy show, to be titled SIN CITY. Apparently, the show's writer, Susan Berman, got too close to real life. Berman, the daughter of a business partner of slain Las Vegas gangster Bugsy Siegel, was found murdered with a single gunshot wound to her head in West Los Angeles on Christmas Eve. Berman, was famous for incorporating her intimate knowledge of the Mafia into her writings. No word yet on the identity of her killer or the fate of the show. . . . David Boreanaz is concerned about the actor's strike. The impending actors' strike this year could affect ANGEL's (and we assume other shows) new season if it drags on beyond the show's midsummer production start. "If it does go on for, say, three months, then we'll probably only do 16 shows . . . next year . . . just to fit the bill," Boreanaz said. "We won't have a Christmas vacation, we'll just work. That's yet to be decided." . . . You can't keep a good starship captain down. William Shatner will host a syndicated TV series called WILLIAM SHATNER'S FULL MOON FRIGHTSHOW, in which he'll introduce thriller's each week. The sponsor is the direct-to-video company, Full Moon. Full Moon is best known for its straight-to-video PUPPETMASTER, TRANCERS and SUBSPECIES film series. The movies will all be by Full Moon. . . . Joss Whedon signs a deal with Fox. Joss Whedon has just signed an exclusive deal for Fox Television. It will keep him as the executive producer of BUFFY and ANGEL and he'll create and produce new programming for Fox. We'll keep you posted on this as it develops.
|13.GONE WITH THE SYND?
With an almost total shutout by the three major networks, syndicated television has been the savior of the hour-long science-fiction and fantasy show. Since the trail was blazed by STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and, to a lesser extent, by BABYLON 5 and STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE, syndicated TV has been the ultimate haven for imaginative television. That sanctuary is in danger. The era of diverse programming and a groaning board laden with shows that run from good to tepid to downright unwatchable may be coming to a close.
In today's market a show like XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, that still carries respectable ratings, is being axed. Traditional powerhouses like OPRAH and WHEEL OF FORTUNE are losing viewers. A decade ago the number one syndicated series, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was watched by 10% of American households. The current top syndicated show, ANDROMEDA, is watched by 4% of all TV-viewing homes. That's a nose-bleeding drop of 63%. Wary station managers are more apt to book re-runs of FRASER and SEINFELD than to take a chance on an unknown hour-long space show adventure show. So what happened? Who's peeing in the syndicated pool? There may be dozens of reasons. We offer three.
VERTICAL INTEGRATION: imagine little fish eaten by big fish, who are in turn eaten by bigger fish, and so on. That, in a nutshell, is "vertical integration." It's the incestuous devouring of stations by other stations. As a result, loose de facto networks have arisen, compelled to air the shows backed by sister studios. Tribune Inc., for example, currently produces ANDROMEDA, BEASTMASTER and STARGATE SG-1. This fall they're adding MUTANT X (see the story below). Tribune owns 22 stations that cover 75% of the national market. Those stations have limited time slots available and can't over-saturate their markets with similar programming.
SLIPPING QUALITY: Is anyone out there watching all these shows? I'm not. When I ask at meetings there seem to be several shows that no one is watching. The genre' may simply be getting tired. The shows are beginning to look more like rejected network pilots instead of bold, innovative shows that network suits were too timid to try out. Syndication is beginning to look more like the home of the minor leagues in television, peopled by its own "not ready for primetime" players.
COMPETITION: Cable networks used to be a sort of a Sargasso Sea of dead network shows and old movies. Alternative studio-run networks like Fox, UPN and the WB were once too busy scrambling to find some kind of demographic footing via ½ hour sitcoms to pay much attention to imaginative television. That's all changed. HBO's hawking shows like THE SOPRANOS and OZ. UPN is airing their sci-fi show of the week, desperate to find something that will catch. Fox and the WB have solid hits with show like THE X-FILES, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, ANGEL and CHARMED. Coupled with other demands for our attention like the Internet, satellite, video/DVD and the continually growing popularity of sports in America, there is only so much time that we can spend gaping at SHEENA or THE QUEEN OF SWORDS.
BOTTOM LINE: Syndicated television is not dead. We'll continue to see it for some time. As Broadband Internet access increases we may even see some of the more modestly budgeted shows that were once candidates for syndication piping to your monitor. But, as a mass market televised entertainment, the end of syndication may happen in the foreseeable future.
|14.MORE BABYLON 5?
A spokeswoman for The Sci-Fi Channel said that the network has opened discussions with BABYLON 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski and producer Douglas Netter about possible future TV projects. The spokeswoman did not specify the nature of the projects, except to say that they might include made-for-television movies or a new series. Sci-Fi's executive vice president and general manager Bonnie Hammer is involved in the talks.
In the past, Sci-Fi has said it is pleased with the performance of BABYLON 5 reruns. Straczynski is also the creative force behind "City of Dreams," an original audio drama anthology series for scifi.com's "Seeing Ear Theatre."
Straczynski has confirmed that he and Netter are talking with The Sci-Fi Channel about new projects but would not offer details about them. Straczynski said, "To confirm what Bonnie Hammer has stated, yes, there are conversations ongoing between SFC, [Warner Brothers], myself and Doug Netter about some new projects. I'm not at liberty at this point to be much more specific than that. Could be a movie in the B5 universe. Could be a series set in the B5 universe. Could be a combination of those, plus a little something else. Suffice to say that SFC wants to become the new home for B5 in all its parts and pieces, and there are several possible ways to accomplish this currently under discussion. . . . We may have some resolution on these issues as early as next month. To that end, we have verified the availability and interest of those who helped make B5 a success among the crew, and everyone we have spoken to is excited and ready to get going. Same crew, same quality, same dedication. Beyond that, I can't comment . . . except to say that if we get the go-ahead on what I think may be coming, it could be a very exciting opportunity to do another kind of story that no one's ever done before in SF TV, just as no one had ever done anything quite like B5 before."
|15.BRUCE BOXLEITNER IS SKEPTICAL OF A NEW B5
BABYLON 5's hero, Bruce Boxleitner said that he questions whether any new B5 project would get off the ground. "Time/Warner, which is now AOL, [is going to ask,] 'Where is the money to be made?' Just run the old series over and over again," he said. "They don't need to make any more, that's the problem. It's not about what the fans want, or if it would be cool. It's all about profit, and there's no profit in making it. It's past - it's a passé thing. STAR TREK is the only thing that has ever lived on, and we gave them a good run for their money. Businesswise, the market that BABYLON 5 was in is gone and does not exist anymore. Syndication is disappearing. . . . If there was a way for The Sci-Fi Channel to do it again, I think they should do movies. Don't do another series, there's been enough. Continue to do the two-hour telemovies, because I think it's viable. They could sell that. To do a strip series again, I'm not sure that would work in this market right now, which is motion pictures. Believe me, television is heading into a recession."
|16.GILES MAY BE BUFFY'ED-OUT
Anthony Head ("Giles" on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) is feeling the stress of being on the show. The character of the fussy former librarian is nothing like the man who plays him. "I'm kind of a long way from Giles in a lot of ways, which people realize when I walk in the door with my earring and my jeans and everything. But over the years, Giles has gotten a little closer to me, becoming a little hipper and a little funkier."
But more importantly, his family life is still centered in England. This has led to reports that he's considering cutting back his time on the show. Head admitted that he misses his family, girlfriend Sarah Fisher and two young daughters, who still live in England, but he remained noncommittal about reports that he might scale back his role on Buffy. "Yes, and I don't get back often enough. But the kids absolutely love the show. The times when we've talked about maybe me leaving, they've said, 'Oh my God, no, you can't, you can't!' It's very hard, because they're growing up, and Sarah has raised them as a single mother for six, seven years now. At some point, I will have to go and spend some time in England. But we shall see."
|17.SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR EARNS THE NAME "BUFFY"
Sarah Michelle Gellar caused an uproar on the streets of L.A. recently. She drove to work in the buff. To be exact, she drove to her Hollywood studio, with her convertible top down, in her underwear. She forgot to put on a dress! She says, "All of a sudden people started staring. I looked down and realized I'd never put my dress on." The actress isn't losing her mind - she was just exhausted. She adds, "I'd worked all night on Buffy and was at the cracking point."
|18.BUFFY TALKS GET UGLY
Talks between The WB and Fox, producer of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, to renew the hit series may get ugly. The WB will make a proposal to Fox to pick up the show, now in its fifth season. But Fox may not be happy with the network's offer and could shop the series to another network.
The WB pays just under $1 million per episode for BUFFY. Estimates vary on exactly how much the WB is pulling down in ad revenue on the series, though some sources indicate that with revenue from repeats, the network generates about $1.5 million-$1.6 million an episode.
"In all likelihood, where we will come out is that we will say, 'We will take all the revenue we can generate with BUFFY, and we'll give it to you in a giant wheelbarrow,'" WB chief executive Jamie Kellner stated. "'And if that's not enough, then take it to somebody else, and you've demonstrated that you're not the kind of partner we should be doing business with.' . . . We would not go to a place where we would deficit-finance negatives for somebody else."
But Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow responded, "They don't have wheelbarrows at the WB, they have Mercedes. Was [WB publicity executive vice president] Brad Turell whistling God Bless America behind Jamie when he gave that speech?"
|19.THE WB STILL WANTS BUFFY
Jamie Kellner, chief executive of The WB, said that he's still hopeful the network can keep BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, though the word's leaked out that Fox, isn't being friendly about contract renewal negotiations. Kellner said, "We developed the show at the network and delivered it to Fox, in what we thought was a friendly gesture. Now the people at Fox are not friendly anymore."
Kellner added that the network will stay fiscally responsible in its offer to Fox and assured affiliates that even though he would like to see BUFFY on The WB schedule next season, its possible departure won't affect the WB's ratings. "We're well-positioned to be the dominant leader on weekdays," Kellner said.
|20.BUFFY STILL WANTS THE WB, BUT DON'T QUOTE HER
Sarah Michelle Gellar, apparently fed up with the uncertainty hanging over the show as talks drag on, announced that she's ready to walk off the show if BUFFY moves from its home network. "I will stay on BUFFY if, and only if, BUFFY stays on The WB," Gellar proclaimed in an interview. "And you know what? Print that. My bosses are going to kill me, but print that. I want them to know. . . . The WB has been so supportive, such a great network over the past four years," she said. "It feels like home. I don't want the show to move, because I feel that we belong on The WB. It's where our fans are. If BUFFY leaves The WB, I'm out."
She apparently got a paddling over night. The day after she made the declaration of blind loyalty to her home network she was forced to back pedal. "I'm not going anywhere, and I can't stress that enough," a contrite Gellar said, adding that she was "humiliated" over the reaction to comments she made. "I just said it in passing, and it was only meant to show my appreciation and support for The WB. But Fox has been very good to me, too. I intend to stay with BUFFY, no matter what."
Gellar, who has at least one more year on her contract after the current fifth season, added that she "absolutely" hopes to continue doing the show even after that.
I guess the whole idea of a civilization in ruins and billions dead and dying just wasn't funny enough for UPN. Plans by UPN to air DOOMSDAY, an animated series produced by Howard Stern, may be doomed, given UPN chief Dean Valentine's comments about the show. Valentine said that the first group of writers who worked on the script about life in post-apocalyptic America turned in a "decent" script, "but it wasn't great and if you do this kind of show, a show about the aftermath of nuclear war, it has got to be great. And it's got to be incredibly funny, and it just fell short." Valentine acknowledged that his comments reflected "the typical development executive exhaustion and frustration" of not seeing the ideas for the show gel on the printed page. "I'd like it to work, but you can't put it on if it's not great."
|22.THE EVOLUTION OF A CARTOON
The movie EVOLUTION hasn't even opened yet but there is still plans for an animated half hour series based on the film. DIC Entertainment is developing an animated television series to be based on Ivan Reitman's upcoming science fiction comedy. DIC has teamed with Reitman's Montecito Picture Co., in conjunction with DreamWorks SKG and Columbia Pictures, to release the animated series for the fall.
The 26 half-hour episodes of the EVOLUTION series will be based on characters introduced in the upcoming live-action movie that will star David Duchovny, Orlando Jones and Julianne Moore. The movie tells the story of a meteor that crashes on Earth carrying alien organisms that multiply and evolve at an alarming rate.
|23.FIRST WAVE ANSWERS DUE
Chris Brancato, the creator of The Sci-Fi Channel's original series FIRST WAVE, said that the new third season should explore new territory. "With the addition of a new character [played by Traci Lords] and a ramping up of the alien threat, we found a whole bunch of new stories to tell, and that made the season as exciting as the first two. The general consensus is that the third season is the best so far. . . . We've worked very hard to tie up all loose ends of seasons one and two as we move through season three. I can't promise we've got them all, but I think we're pretty close."
Brancato hinted that viewers could expect the return of a familiar face. "I would venture to guess that an alien as forceful as Joshua would probably want to make his presence felt in season three. But watch and find out." As for hero Cade Foster, "All I can say about that is that the mystery of the twice-blessed man will be fully answered in season three."
|24.FREAKYLINKS IS HISTORY
After never fully recovering from a badly reviewed and poorly received pilot episode, the once promising FREAKYLINKS lost much of its network's support. The show was pulled for most of November last year and upon its return has gotten virtually no promotion. Well that never works to help a show recover from a slump, and the show's ratings have gone down each week since its return. Fox has now officially pulled the plug on the show. The last episode to air was on January 26, before February Sweeps rolled around, when I'm sure Fox will have something with police or millionaires to air Friday nights in its place.
|25.CHRIS CARTER OFFERS LONE GUNMEN DETAILS AND
LINKS ITS FATE WITH THE X-FILES
Chris Carter said that his upcoming midseason spinoff series, THE LONE GUNMEN, will be kind of a "misguided MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE." The three GUNMEN, played by Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood and Dean Haglund, will be joined by a new character, Yves Adele Harlow, played by Zuleikha Robinson, Carter added. "She's just stunningly beautiful. . . . She's very young, and she's very green, but she's terrific."
Stephen Snedden will join the show as well as a possible fourth GUNMAN. X-FILES regular Mitch Pileggi will appear as Skinner, but neither David Duchovny nor Gillian Anderson is scheduled to show up.
There is another X-FILES/LONE GUNMEN tie-in that will determine the destiny of both shows. A ninth season of THE X-FILES may depend on how the network treats THE LONE GUNMEN. Carter feels burned by the way Fox handled his short-lived series HARSH REALM last season, and it's a major point in talks about the future of THE X-FILES.
"I'm really interested in their promotion and support of THE LONE GUNMEN," Carter said. "I want to make sure that they are supporting us completely and not just partially. . . . They said they would promote through the first eight episodes [of HARSH REALM]. Well, it didn't go eight episodes. For me, that was a dishonesty." Fox canceled HARSH REALM after airing just three episodes.
|26.A LONE GUNMAN STAR PROCLAIMS ITS NOT AN X-FILES
Tom Braidwood, who you've seen as Frohike in THE LONE GUNMAN, says that his show will be a lot more than just a spinoff of THE X-FILES. "The way the comedy has been happening, and the direction the show has taken, it's really not a spinoff," Braidwood said. "It's sort of like what we do in our life when we're not helping out Mulder and Scully. . . . And this is what we do, this is our life, which is very different than THE X-FILES life."
Braidwood did not originally affiliate with THE X-FILES as an actor. He had joined the crew as an assistant director. "If they run the series, and it doesn't get picked up, I'm quite certain I'll simply go back to focusing on directing and producing. But I would probably also make an effort to do auditions."
Braidwood also said he has no problem with the series' attractive new regulars, Zuleikha Robinson and Stephen Snedden, to bolster the core trio. "Us three are really ugly," he said.
|27.MUTANT X IS ON ITS WAY
MUTANT X, the upcoming syndicated television series from Marvel, will begin filming in Toronto on June 4. Producers have also sent out a casting call for the show, which will spin off Marvel's successful X-Men comic series and feature film.
MUTANT X, which has no relation to the Marvel series of the same name, will reportedly tell the story of five genetically engineered humans who were all victims of the Human Genome Project, a top-secret experiment on fetuses that created children with enhanced gifts.
The New Mutants will be led by Adam Xero and will battle a covert government agency called the Genetic Security Agency, led by Albion Magnus. Each adventure will pit the good mutants against other powerful mutants working for the GSA.
Because the show is being shot in Canada, it is expected to be immune to the impending U.S. actors' strike this summer.
|28.THE FUTURE OF STAR TREK: VOYAGER
Executive producer Rick Berman announced that VOYAGER will end in a two-hour finale May 23, preceded by an hour-long retrospective of the show's 172 episodes. About the end, Berman said, "Resolving the series has a great deal more to it than just the question of does the ship get home or not? And I think to compact it down to a simple question like that is unfair to what we're hoping to accomplish in the final two-hour episode."
Kate Mulgrew got misty while contemplating the show's impending finale. "Seven years is a long time to be, as we say, 'in the trenches' with people who were initially strangers and who have become more intimate to you than those in your personal life," Mulgrew said, her voice cracking. "I mean, it's very deep. I love them. . . . It's been a marvelous journey with these guys."
Robert Picardo, the Doctor on STAR TREK: VOYAGER, has said that his character's future is uncertain once the errant starship makes it home to Earth. "I don't know how they are going to deal with Voyager's coming home, with regard to what it means for the Doctor," Picardo said. "He's the only one who can say that his home is Voyager. We learned last season that all of the others like him - all of the first-generation [emergency medical holograms] - have been recommissioned for waste management use because the program was considered a colossal failure. What will happen to the Doctor when the ship gets home will provide an interesting resolution to his story."
|29.THE FUTURE OF NEXT TREK
Rick Berman has remained coy about the new TREK series still in development to replace VOYAGER. Berman said TREK's franchise owner, Paramount, is in "complex negotiations" for a show as a potential series in the fall, but he declined to reveal the network Paramount is talking with. While UPN would seem a likely venue for a future Trek series, Berman declined to speculate on the chances of that occurring. NBC and Fox also have expressed interest in getting the franchise.
Executive producer Ken Biller has said that the new series could be delayed by the impending writers' and actors' strikes this spring. "They have a script, and there is a concept," Biller said. "I know what it is, but I'm not allowed to tell you. I wish I could, but I can't. Basically, they're waiting to go ahead on making the pilot, but it's a little up in the air because of the whole sort of strike situation - when they're going to make it and when it's going to air. It's just all being held up by the strike. The earliest a new series could be on would be next fall, so obviously there would be at least a summer [without TREK]. But I think it's possible that it'll be made in 2001."
Longtime STAR TREK writer (and now co-executive producer of ROSWELL), Ronald D. Moore believes the proposed next TREK series is on hold for at least one other reason in addition to the pending strikes. He said, "All I know is that, at the moment, [the new TREK series] is on hold, because there are questions about [the future of] UPN . . . At the moment, they're not casting or building sets. It's kind of in a holding pattern."
|30.THE FUTURE OF STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE
Both former cast and producers of the late, lamented DEEP SPACE NINE have been resolute in declaring the show dead. Several former cast members have said that they'd love to do something else with their characters but have been told that it will never happen despite the fans many requests.
For the first time Executive producer Rick Berman has dropped a couple of hints that more DS9 is not a COMPLETE impossibility. Berman said that there is a possibility, albeit remote, that a two-hour television movie could be made based on STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE. "I think that idea has been thrown around a bit, but it's not something that has been focused on greatly. I think it's a possibility, but nothing that's in any kind of serious discussion now."
That is the most optimistic statement on the future of the franchise that anyone in authority has made. I'll keep you posted on further updates.
|31.THE FUTURE OF UPN
At this point UPN will remain an independent network. The talk of closing it down and moving shows to brother network CBS have stopped (for the moment). There is also no longer a move going to re-name it the "Paramount Network."
They have announced several possible shows for the 2001-2 season. Of course the future of these shows depends on the coming strikes. Following is a list of the imaginative TV shows that UPN is toying with.
ALL SOULS will take place in a haunted Boston hospital where ghosts roam the halls and strange experiments take place on patients who come in for otherwise routine surgery. ALL SOULS will debut in the winter or spring.
THE DEAD ZONE will be based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It will be coming from Michael Piller (formerly with STAR TREK).
GHOST IN THE MACHINE will be coming from Wes Craven.
THE MIGHTY THOR is a proposed live-action superhero show based on the Marvel Comics Thor series. THOR is being developed as part of the deal between Marvel and Artisan Entertainment. No deal has been struck with UPN. Artisan has received interest from several parties regarding THOR. A pilot script deal with UPN could be announced soon, according to Marvel executive Rick Ungar. "That means that they pay a writer to do a script, and, if they want to go forward, the script gets shot as a pilot. We are presently in the process of doing the script." Tyler Mane, who played Sabretooth in the X-MEN movie, has expressed interest in the title role.
SPECIAL UNIT 2 is a midseason replacement set for the spring. It will revolve around a secret team of Chicago detectives who track down "missing links" that look like mummies, gargoyles, werewolves and other creatures.
THE TERROR will be a super hero series from Todd McFarlane (the creator of SPAWN, among other things).
|32.THE WB OPTIONS 'PLANETARY'
PLANETARY has been described as "X-FILES to the Nth degree." It's a DC/Wildstorm comic book series about a three-person team uncovering the secret history of a 100-year superhero continuity that the world never knew existed. Its writer, Warren Ellis, has announced that PLANETARY has been optioned by The WB. "[They] now have a period of time in which to develop PLANETARY as a TV show aimed at a 2002 release. . . .The person behind this drive at WB is one of their VP's of drama development. Therefore, this is not an animated series they're looking at, but a live-action series. . . . Understand, that they've simply bought the rights to develop the show. There is no guarantee that a PLANETARY TV show would ever even get in front of a camera."
|33.SOUTH PARK CREATORS' BUSH COMEDY CENSORED
Back in issue #23 we reported that SOUTH PARK creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone were poised to do a satirical live-action show mocking whoever won the last presidential election. The show was to be called FAMILY FIRST. Well plans have evolved a little, though not quite as far as Parker and Stone wanted. The show will now be called THAT'S MY BUSH. It will be animated. But there's one moderation to the First Family that Comedy Central has forbidden.
They had planned to make the Bush twin daughters "hot and sexy" and possibly lesbians. Comedy Central chief Larry Divney "feels it may be inappropriate" to use the girls, according to Tony Fox, a spokesman for Comedy Central. "There will not be a derogatory characterization of the twins, if they're in the show at all." Fox acknowledged that Parker and Stone disagree with the decision. At this point the series is scheduled to debut in May. An Online edition is scheduled to appear in March.
|34.AHEAD FOR THE X-FILES
THE X-FILES creator Chris Carter and executive producer Frank Spotnitz said that four February episodes will reveal much about Scully's pregnancy. Mulder, meanwhile, will make his return in the Feb. 25 cliffhanger episode before the show goes into reruns until April 8. "The pregnancy will be played out through the end of the season, but the episodes in February will explain much more of the context," Carter said. After that, "the finale for this season will be the finale for the eight years of the show," Spotnitz promised. "The ninth season, if there is one, will be a whole new ball game."
Neither Carter nor Gillian Anderson is contracted for a ninth season of the series. "They might be able to do this without me," Carter said. "I just don't know how it'll work out yet. But everything else is set though a ninth season. David [Duchovny] is only obligated for the last half of this season. But we have [new cast members] Annabeth [Gish] and Robert [Patrick] ready to go." Carter added that he still plans on making another X-FILES film, which will be a stand-alone story.
Whether or not David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson appear on the show next season, the two will appear in another feature film based on the series, according to Carter. "Our plans have always been to put David and Gillian in those movies." Nevertheless, he indicated that the decision to make another X-FILES movie may depend on the show continuing to air on television. "I can foresee trying to write a movie in the next year, year and a half, maybe two years, but it all depends on . . . what's going on with the TV series," he said.
We'll also be learning more about Robert Patrick's character, Agent John Doggett. Executive producer Frank Spotnitz said "We sort of hinted at that in one episode that we saw, when he took out a picture of a little boy, and we didn't know what that meant to him. But now we're going to find more about him and people he knows. And we're going to meet this new agent, named Monica Reyes, played by Annabeth Gish, who has some history with Doggett. For us, it's exciting, because it's new things to play with, and it changes the dynamic of the show."
Gish's character will change the balance of the show, Spotnitz said. "She, like Doggett, is completely unlike anybody we've seen on THE X-FILES before. We'd never had somebody like Doggett, a kind of a working-class cop, before. And Annabeth is also a completely different element on the show. Reyes smiles, laughs and is a little off-center; there's a slightly neurotic quality to her. She's an FBI agent from the New Orleans field office; I'd say she's more a believer than a skeptic. So when you have Mulder, Scully, Doggett and Reyes, you've got two and two, if you will - if you still count Scully as a skeptic. While Scully believes in a lot of things, I still think she approaches things from that side of the world, as a scientist."
|35.THINGS TO COME
KATSUCON is coming to the Hyatt Hotel in Crystal City, Virginia on February 16-18. This is a convention dedicated to anime'. Their guest of honor will be Shinya Hasegawa. He is the character designer and illustrator of Revolutionary Girl Utena. In addition, he has worked as an animation producer on Sailor Moon and Neon Genesis Evangelion. They'll also be featuring a slate of other animators, voice-artists, directors and producers. There's a host of other special events and panels and a dealer's room available. Pre-registration is no longer available. The admission is $45.00 for all three days. Day rates are $20 for Friday only, $25 for Saturday only, and $15 for Sunday only. If you'd like more information either e-mail them at email@example.com or write them at Katsucon Entertainment, Inc./ P.O. BOX 577/ DUMFRIES,VIRGINIA 22026.
is coming to the Valley Forge Convention Center on Saturday and Sunday
March 3-4, 2001. This is a corporate-run convention. Because it has big
money backing it they can attract some interesting celebs and offer a large
dealer's room. Because it's operated as a for-profit business everything
is quite expensive.
THE JOHNS HOPKINS FILM FESTIVAL will take place on April 5-8 at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Campus, in Baltimore. The festival will display some of the most surprising and controversial documentaries, features and short films to hit the independent scene. They'll also present the little seen films of budding local, national, and international filmmakers. It will take place at numerous screening rooms on the Homewood campus, including Shriver Hall, the largest screening facility in Maryland. For more information either click on the above link or contact JHFF2001 c/o Wil Ryan/ Gilman Hall PO #960/ JHU/ 3400 N. Charles Street/ Baltimore MD, 21218/ 410-889-9596.
FILMFEST DC will take place from April 21 to May 2 at various sites around the nation's capitol. They'll offer a rich mix of old and premiering films. This year they're offering a special selection of recent films from South America. There will be other films from the rest of the globe as well, including the U.S. of A. Tickets are $7 per film or $60 for a book of ten tickets. For more information call 202/628-FILM.
CHILLER THEATER TOY, MODEL, AND FILM EXPO will be held in at the Sheraton Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey on April 27-29. The guests include Walter Koenig, of both STAR TREK and BABYLON 5. There'll be a BABYLON 5 REUNION with Claudia Christian (Susan Ivanova), Mira Furlan (Dellenn), Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto), Jerry Doyle (Michael Garibaldi), Richard Biggs (Dr. Stephen Franklin), Carrie Dobro (Dureena Nafeel from CRUSADE), Iona Morris, Marjorie Monaghan (Tessa Holloran/Number One), and Julie Caitlin Brown (Na'Toth). As far as non-BABYLON 5 guests, there's Michael Berryman (THE HILLS HAVE EYES) Michael Callan (MYSTERIOUS ISLAND) Joanna Cassidy (GHOST OF MARS, BLADE RUNNER), Yvonne Craig ("Batgirl" from the original BATMAN TV series), Lou Ferrigno (THE INCREDIBLE HULK), Julian Glover (FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), Mark Goddard (LOST IN SPACE), Gunnar Hansen (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), Jonathan Harris (LOST IN SPACE), James Hong (BLADERUNNER, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA), Suzanna Leigh (LUST FOR A VAMPIRE), Yvonne Monlaur (THE BRIDES OF DRACULA), Caroline Munro (GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD), Jon Provost (star of the original LASSIE TV series), Ted Raimi (XENA), Yutte Stensgaard (LUST FOR A VAMPIRE), Edy Williams (BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS), Bernie Wrightson (legendary horror artist), and of course, Zacherley: The Cool Ghoul (T.V. Horror Host Legend). General admission in advance is $10 per day, or $25 for all three days. General admission at the door is $15 per day. Entry for the entire weekend plus ONE HOUR EARLY on Friday OR Saturday is $35 US Funds. Pre-show both days, plus all day Sunday is $45 US Funds. To order contact Chiller Theatre, Inc., P O Box 23, Rutherford, NJ 07070.
|36.STEPHEN KING HITS THE INTERNET JACKPOT
Stephen King's gamble with Internet publishing has proved a $600,000 winner. He serialized his latest novel The Plant on his website six months ago and has watched the cash pour in ever since. King is also overjoyed at having made publishers, agents and printers redundant. He crows, "It's just an electronic mirage floating out there all by itself, like Samuel Taylor Coleridge's stately pleasure dome, with no printing costs, publisher's cuts or agents' fees to pull it down."
|37.THE MAN WHO MADE 2001 FAMOUS IS SUFFERING FROM
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, the writer who's done more than anyone to make our present year a milestone in our imaginations, spent New Year's Day resting as he suffers from post-polio syndrome, a condition characterized by fatigue and muscle and joint pain. The disease can strike polio survivors anywhere from ten to 40 years after their recovery from polio. Clarke had the disease in 1959. He says, "It is really painful. I can't stand up. This is the first time that I have had this severe pain."
|38.STAN LEE TO RE-INVENT THE DC UNIVERSE
When comic fans hear the name "Stan Lee" images of Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and other pillars of Marvel Comics might come to mind. He's been hired by his one-time arch-rival, DC Comics, to come up with a new batch of stories that "re-imagine" DC characters such as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, with the first set of his books to hit stands late next year.
"I wrote the Superman and I wrote the Wonder Woman," Lee said. "I'm starting to write the Batman and the Green Lantern now, and I don't know how I'm going to do them all. But they've got such great artists lined up to do it, so I try to find the time. It's a very exciting project. I don't want to know anything about the characters, because I want to do it as if I just thought of the idea. So I may not make the characters the same sex, the same race, the same anything. I mean, I may just change everything around. It's just going to be 'What if I had thought of Wonder Woman? How would I have done it?' And we'll see."
|39.FARMER IS NAMED GRAND MASTER
Philip José Farmer will be the new Grand Master for 2001, the highest honor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the SFWA announced. Farmer will receive his Grand Master Award at the Nebula Awards banquet in Los Angeles on April 28. All former SFWA presidents and current members of the board of directors voted on the designation.
Beginning with his publication of "The Lovers" in the August 1952 issue of Startling Stories, Farmer has pioneered the exploration of crucial human relationships and dimensions in science fiction and inspired generations of writers from Chip Delany to Jonathan Lethem, the SFWA said. Farmer joins previous Grand Masters such as Robert A. Heinlein, Jack Williamson, Clifford D. Simak, L. Sprague de Camp, Fritz Leiber, Andre Norton, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Bester, Ray Bradbury, Lester del Rey, Frederik Pohl, Damon Knight, A.E. van Vogt, Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Hal Clement and Brian Aldiss.
|40.A LOOK AT THE LOOMING STRIKES AHEAD
Hollywood is not, by nature, a very brave town. It's been placed on the map by stories of great people doing great things but, generally, these aren't the kind of people who hold the reigns of power in the movie industry. If it can be characterized at all it would would probably be as a herd of jittery antelopes, ready to bolt at the first scent of danger. There is a predator stalking the Hollywood plains now, making it blind with panic as it approaches. That animal is called "strike."
This strike could, depending on its duration, have anywhere from a mild to profound impact on fans of film and television. It could obliterate the fall television season and cause movie productions to cease.
In this special section of "The ICS Files" we will look at the strike ahead (it's often referred to in the singular but in fact there are two potential strikes from two different unions). We'll look at the players, the issues and the deadlines.
|PLAYER: SCREEN ACTORS GUILD
The Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) is a large and powerful union. It's part of affiliated union, whose other half is the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). Three-quarters of SAG membership pays its bills as waiters, office temps and other jobs that will be unaffected by a walkout. They may think why not play hardball? They'll have nothing to loose. The recently settled 6-month-long commercial strike has buoyed the union's confidence and probably stiffened management's resolve. "The Screen Actors Guild is somewhat like the Russian Army," Guild-West secretary-treasurer Michael Mahern said. "You know, very large, seemingly disorganized, ill-equipped at times, sometimes badly led. But ask Napoleon and Hitler about the Russian army."
CONTRACT EXPIRES: June 30th, 2001.
AT ISSUE: Mostly it's the payment of residuals cable, foreign and Internet broadcasts. There's also the issue of improved salary compensation for the large middle and lower tiers of actors who earn considerably less than the stars.
|42.PLAYER: WRITER'S GUILD OF AMERICA
There are actually two unions under this umbrella. There's the Writer's Guild of America (or WGA) which represents writers west of the Mississippi. Then there's Writer's Guild of America East (or WGAE) for the writers on this side of the country. It's important to note these two branches. The west coast writers have been seeking an early accomodation through negotiaitions in January. The east coast guild wants no part of it. They feel that the producers dropped the ball last Fall by not seriously negotiating and that their greatest weapon is the threat of a strike. The compromise was to hold two weeks of negotiation. If there are hopeful signs at the end of that they may be extended.
CONTRACT EXPIRES: May 1st, 2001.
AT ISSUE: Creative and economic rights. Writers are generally the lowest paid of all the creative talent with the least power. They want to abolish "film by" credits (generally awarded to directors). They seek more involvement in the production process. They want higher pay. They're seeking residuals or pay increases in programming made for the Internet, cable, foreign and video/DVD.
WEAKNESS: Almost every studio has a backlog of scripts. The 1988 Guild six-month strike didn't affect production at all. It took about six months for the studios to work through their script backlog.
|43.PLAYER: THE ALLIANCE OF MOTION PICTURE AND TELEVISION
The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) is an organization that represents over 350 production companies and studios. Since 1982, the AMPTP has been the primary trade association with respect to labor issues in the motion picture and television industry.
AT ISSUE: They contend that film and television is in a weakened financial state. They want the Guilds to agree to cut their residual payments.
WEAKNESSES: The film and television producers are in a weakened state at the moment. Network television audiences have eroded dramatically. Syndication is dying. No one has figured out the true cost of digital conversion. Studios have seen their margins shrink and talent residuals and participations increase. Costs have increased, while movie viewing has fragmented, making a once sound business very shaky.
|44.PLAYER: DIRECTOR'S GUILD OF AMERICA
The Directors Guild of America (the DGA) has a very secure contract with which they're very happy.
AT ISSUE: They want to keep the writers from becoming too involved in the production process. It would mean someone else to which they'd have to be accountable. They also want to hold on to the "possessory credit." That's the credit that says "A movie by . . . " and then the director's name. Appearing to underscore the conflicting interests between two of Hollywood's most prominent unions, Jack Shea, president of the DGA has told members that contract demands by the Writers Guild of America could have a serious impact on the "creative vision" of directors in the production of movies. Shea wrote in his letter that he had recently met with WGA leaders in an attempt to work out a mutually acceptable creative code but was "extremely disappointed" with the writers' response.
|45.POTENTIAL STUDIO WEAPONS
FORCE MAJEURE: This is a clause that exists in the contracts of virtually all studio executives and talent. It literally means "greater force." It's a backout clause in case of unavoidable catastrophe prohibits the completion of a production. It generally refers to floods, fires, earthquakes and other "acts of God." However, it also covers strikes. It gives the employer the right to stall, suspend or cancel the employment if stopped by a greater force. It could be used as a threat, canceling the contracts of anyone who engages in the strike. This clause has been tested in court and has always withstood judicial scrutiny.
ECONOMICS: One studio exec proclaimed that the strike would benefit the bottom line. "The good news is that from an earnings perspective, it would be almost entirely positive. There are short-term benefits (for lower production costs and accounting charges) and virtually no longer term implications."
WEAKNESS: The studios' greatest liability is memory. If they respond in a heavy-handed way, when the strike is over, people have very long memories. If an exec invoked force majeure, for example, and then needs someone for a vital production, if that person or a friend or relative of that person, was made to feel like a victim of that executive's temper tantrum during the strike, it could be severe enough to end that studio hotshot's career.
|46.ISSUE: A STRIKE WOULD HELP THE STUDIOS
AMPTP: "Because deficit financing is the norm in the film and television industries, many financial analysts and studio executives maintain that in the short-term a production shutdown, and the attendant savings on production and marketing costs, will have a positive impact on their bottom lines.
WGAE: "Companies [say that it] would be more profitable if a strike were to occur, which begs the question, why wait? Get out of the business now and make a fortune!"
|47.ISSUE: THE STUDIOS CAN'T AFFORD TO MEET THE
AMPTP: "Network television audiences have eroded dramatically. We have seen a steep decline in the syndication market for off-network programs. A fractionalized cable television market has not replaced the diminution of the syndication business. There has been a recent and profound decline in foreign sales for our network series. There is confusion and uncertainty about, and added expenses for, the conversion to digital television. We have seen massive increases in consumer usage of the Internet, without a supportable business model for entertainment product. On the theatrical side, we have witnessed a steady decrease in our margins, while talent residuals and participations have increased continuously. The most significant contributing factor that has led to the increase in employment for guild represented employees - increased motion picture output - has also led to a dramatic rise in competition for talent, and for consumers. Costs have increased, while movie viewing has fragmented, adding an indisputable fragility to that business. We now rely heavily on home video. And in the future, we will rely heavily on the growth of video on demand and pay per view services as primary income sources necessary to maintain motion picture production volume.
WGA: "The Companies attempted to justify [a proposed reduction in residual payments] by referring to the fragmented audience for television. They ignored, however, the fact that ad price increases have not only made up for audience fragmentation but total revenue to the networks increased dramatically in recent years, particularly in relation to the increases in our minimums (the amounts upon which our residuals are based)."
|48.ISSUE: GUILD MEMBERS ARE MAKING MORE THAN EVER
AMPTP: "Over the last ten years, the covered earnings of actors and writers have increased by more than 65% and their ranks have swelled considerably. Last year, according to the Screen Actors Guild annual report, guild members reported a record $1.6 billion in earnings, a total that does not include any individual earnings over $200,000. So, for example, when a major star is paid $20 million for a motion picture, only $200,000 of that total is included in SAG’s earnings report. Thus SAG’s numbers are not skewed by the dollars paid to top talent, and are actually considerably understated. According to The Writers Guild residuals report, residual payments to writers have also reached record highs, up 22% over the past year (network license fees went up only 4% in the same period)."
SAG: "Despite the fact the overall earnings generated by the Screen Actors Guild Television/Theatrical Contract have grown fairly consistently over the past decade, many of its "middle class" members have suffered a compression of wages earned under the contract. As production budgets, new windows of distribution and total revenues derived from the exploitation of feature and television products have increased dramatically, the salaries for featured and supporting actors have diminished steadily — in many cases to scale plus ten percent. Seasoned performers were at one time able to negotiate significantly above minimum scale based on their well-established skills and experience. Today there is little, if any, ability for these performers to negotiate above minimum levels set by the contract that have in essence through industry practice, become the maximum."
|49.ISSUE: INTERNET RESIDUALS
SAG: "SAG and AFTRA’s contracts cover the work of their members in all moving pictures, no matter how or where they are distributed. Both unions believe this extends to product made for the Internet. We want to make sure that the Producers do not dispute our jurisdiction in this area. Because direct Internet distribution is in such a nascent stage we will need to work with Producers on terms and conditions that foster production in this area. The Basic Agreement as written may not appropriately cover the Internet because of different revenue models (or the lack of them) and different distribution patterns. It is important that we make clear that this lies within our jurisdiction now, so that a potential market doesn't grow up without us."
AMPTP: "It is hard to separate hype from reality when people are talking about the Internet. However, over the past year, the volatility of the Internet sector of the economy has been widely reported in the media. Plunging stock prices and Web company failures have demonstrated once again that very few businesses are making money in this new medium. This is particularly true in the area of original programming—to date there are no generally accepted economic models or business plans that demonstrate an ability to generate revenue by creating original content for the Web. Thus, the Companies are not currently producing original programming for the Internet. To attempt to negotiate residual formulas with the guilds at this time would be premature at best and perilous at worst."
|50.ISSUE: THE POSSESSORY CREDIT
WGA: "The motion picture is the most collaborative of all art forms. Hundreds of artists and workers participate in the production of any movie. Though some indisputably make more substantial contributions than others, it is absurd and flat out wrong to call any one person the "author" of a movie. Yet that is what possessory credits do. The "Film By" credit implies that one person - the director - is the author of a motion picture. . . . writers are not looking to denigrate or alienate directors nor are we looking to destabilize the filmmaking process. Writers are looking for respect. We seek to put an end to any practice that elevates the contributions of some artists to the detriment of others or that treats writers and everyone else involved in the film making process like second class citizens. The possessory credit is such a practice."
DGA: "The DGA has always supported the position that possessory credits should be freely negotiable for anyone involved in the filmmaking process. Historically, these credits have been given in recognition of the commanding contribution made by a particular person — director, writer, producer, etc. — to a film. These credits have also helped “brand” films, which in turn draws audiences, thereby profiting the studios. Overturning such a system would unnecessarily hurt the industry and deprive the film artists that drive the creative process of moviemaking from the recognition they deserve."
AMPTP: "In light of the potential for conflict, the studios have requested that the Directors Guild and the Writers Guild work out a mutually-acceptable solution of these issues, without imposing mandates through collective bargaining agreements. The Chief Executive Officers of the Companies, through standing committees that address such issues, have offered their assistance in an effort to foster dialogue between the Guilds and with the Companies on these issues. The Directors Guild has indicated that it is willing to try to find some middle ground."
|51.ISSUE: WRITER INVOLVEMENT IN THE CREATIVE PROCESS
SAG: "We seek inclusion and respect. Writers are crucial to the making of every motion picture but are frequently cut out of the process, treated as if we were unimportant, dispensable or interchangeable. We are a resource that directors and companies often ignore or underutilize, and the movies themselves suffer. In many cases, when problems arise, we are the ones who have the answer - and we aren't around to provide it. Our proposals encourage companies and directors to include writers both in the creative process and in certain venues that confer or imply a measure of respect."
DGA: "Part of a director’s responsibility is managing the collaboration which is part of the moviemaking process. It is the director’s job to bring the talents of cast and crew to bear on the screenplay, with the goal of a film representing a unified vision. Mandating the writer’s ability to view dailies, to be on the set, etc., will inject writers into the process when they were not chosen to be invited. Conflict and confusion will often be the result. Filmmaking costs will increase and creativity will be compromised because of disputes, or the fear of conflict, among studios, directors and writers over the activities of the writer. The bottom line is that one person runs a movie set, and that person, by definition, is the director. The WGA is attempting to invent contractual “rights” that would mandate the writer’s involvement in elements of production where his or her presence may be counterproductive to the making of a film."
|52.ENGLISH SPEAKING FOREIGN COUNTRIES MAY WELCOME
As strike deadlines loom, the rest of the English-speaking entertainment world seems to be licking their lips in anticipation of possible windfalls. The Australian film industry is preparing for a greater influx of U.S. TV and film productions. "American productions are realizing they don't have to shoot in California, they can go around the world," Nick Herd, executive director of the Screen Producers Association of Australia, commented. He also observed that the Australian dollar dropped 15 percent against the U.S. dollar last year, creating another lure for Hollywood producers.
British film producers are also speculating that they may be able to benefit from any work stoppage in Hollywood. One unnamed producer said: "Let's face it, with the studios rushing to get films finished before the summer strike deadlines, there's likely to be some terrible s*** around in cinemas come the fall. It's a perfect opportunity for a couple of decent British films to make a breakthrough." Meanwhile a spokeswoman for the British Writers Guild has told the newspaper that it will support any action taken by its counterpart in America. "We are urging writers not to take on work from American production companies if striking US writers refuse to do it," she said.
|53.KURT RUSSELL'S BASIC INSTINCTS TELL HIM TO GET
A BODY DOUBLE
Kurt Russell is demanding a body double for his steamy sex scenes in the sequel to BASIC INSTINCT. In the plot he plays another cop assigned to break pulp novelist Catherine Trammell, played by Sharon Stone. But Russell, who is married to actress Goldie Hawn, doesn't want to go to the same sexual lengths in the movie which contributed to Michael Douglas' marriage problems when he made the original film back in 1992. He told a close pal, "I don't mind getting my clothes off if the context is right but I know when to draw the line. There are scenes I''ll just opt out of." MGM says the $60 million movie is still months away from going into production. A senior source says, "We don't have a problem if Kurt wants to use a body double. These days, through technology, it hardly makes a difference."
BATMAN fans may have a chance to see their favorite crime fighter either at the beginning of his long career, the end of it, or both. Warner Bros. is developing two separate BATMAN movies. One of the films, titled BATMAN: YEAR ONE, would describe the first year of the his existence. Another, BATMAN BEYOND, would be set in the future when a successor takes over the Batman mantle from Bruce Wayne. Neither one has an inside track on getting greenlit first. Both films, it noted, will await the outcome of possible industry strikes this summer, making it unlikely that either will be released over the next two years.
|55.JACK IS UP FOR MORE JOKER
Jack Nicholson has said that he's eager to reprise the role of the Joker in any new BATMAN film. "Baby, I've promoted it endlessly. I've got the title, I got everything going for him, but I can't. They're hung up on I died in the first picture."
Nicholson said playing the supervillain in 1989's BATMAN was no picnic. "On BATMAN, they invented all that kind of makeup," he said. "They'd never seen it before, so I'm looking at an average working day, they're going to want to shoot 12 hours minimum, and I'm going to be in makeup four and a half hours. Plus, I tend to gain weight pretty easily, so I would do a certain amount of time on the treadmill. By the time I left Pinewood [Studios], it was me, my driver and a janitor."
Still, he enjoyed the character. "Did I have fun in and around it?" Nicholson said. "Yes. I don't think there has ever been a character that I had more fun getting inside. He's completely megalomaniacal. You get to let all that out. He thinks the concerns of others are all completely crazy. He has no regard for human life or anybody around. But that's coming in the middle of an 18-hour day, every day. You don't have much time for fun.
|56.THE BLAIR WITCH LIVES
Despite disappointing returns for last summer's sequel, Artisan Entertainment plans to go ahead with a THE BLAIR WITCH prequel that will tell the early history of the witch legend at the center of the first two movies. Artisan head Amir Malin said that they plan to take more time on the third movie, with hopes to get it in theaters by 2002. The third BLAIR WITCH movie will be a prequel and will tell the early history of the witch that stood at the center of the previous two movies. BOOK OF SHADOWS, which was released last October, grossed about $26 million domestically. Though it will turn a profit, it might have done better if the movie had not been such a rush job, Malin said.
|57.THE OTHER MUMMY MOVIE, BUBBA HO-TEP
Next summer, while audiences are standing in line for the expensive effects-laden MUMMY 2, Bruce Campbell will be busy battling his own evil mummy in the upcoming comedic horror movie BUBBA HO-TEP. "I play a geriatric old geezer, a 70-year-old in a rest home who thinks he's Elvis," Campbell said.
He added, "I team up with another old geezer at the home, Ossie Davis, who thinks he's JFK, and together we set out to defeat the evil mummy, Bubba Ho-Tep. Stay tuned." Campbell will also appear in a cameo role in pal Sam Raimi's upcoming SPIDER-MAN movie.
|58.THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION SOUTH AFRICA DOESN'T
WANT TO SEE
Religious groups in South Africa are threatening to boycott cinemas - because they're planning to show THE EXORCIST. Church representative Ron Steel has urged people not to watch the 1973 cult classic as it deals with demonic possession - and it is the church's view that demonic powers can be stronger than Christians'.
Wow. Almost three decades old and this film is still controversial. I don't think that we'll be saying that about most of the crop of present day movies (if we remember them at all in three decades).
|59.A "NEW" BRUCE LEE MOVIE'S GETTING RELEASED IN
Using recently discovered footage that Bruce Lee had been editing at the time of his death in 1973, a Japanese film company, Art Port Inc. has produced a new version of his last movie, GAME OF DEATH, retitled BRUCE LEE IN G.O.D. The new film contains 40 minutes featuring Lee and three other martial artists, "edited in strict accordance to an incomplete script and a series of sketches left by Lee." The original GAME OF DEATH, released in 1978, contained only 13 minutes of footage actually shot for the film. The re-edited movie was screened in Japan in January.
|60.BRUCE LEE'S VILLA IS NOW A BROTHEL
The Hong Kong villa where Bruce Lee lived until his mysterious death in July 1973 has been turned into a brothel. It was nicknamed the Crane's Nest by Lee, who died at the age of 32. The villa on the island of Cowloon is now called the Romantic Hotel. Rooms can be rented for around $30 an hour and guests find condoms already laid out on the beds while the televisions show round-the-clock porn. Although the hotel does not advertise using the star's name, many local men know that Bruce Lee lived there and say they get an extra kick out of it. The star's fan club is now trying to turn the building into a memorial to Lee.
|61.HANNIBAL WILL FEEL PRETTY AND WITTY AND WISE
Director Ridley Scott has said that HANNIBAL may be somewhat different in tone from its predecessor, THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which was directed by Jonathan Demme. He found the original book by Thomas Harris "quite witty" and that he tried to incorporate some of that humor into the film. Scott says the psychotic Dr. Lecter character, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins, is always looking to "get a laugh" even when he's about to pounce on another helpless victim. Scott says what struck him most when he saw the first manuscript for the new film were the humor and charm of the man. He says, "Hannibal's not just a ruthless killer. Absolutely not. Thomas Harris's book is genuinely full of wit and I hope we have translated that into the movie. I shall be very disappointed if I hear that people aren't smiling - when they're not screaming!"
The film will have a massive opening on 4,700 screens on Feb. 9. Scott noted that the film is set to open ten years "to the day" that the original film was released. "That's why we're going out then," Scott remarked. [Actually, the film opened on Feb. 13, 1991] Scott added: "It's also a great time to run because there's nothing around."
|62.JULIANNE MOORE AND THE SILENCE OF THE COWS
Julianne Moore, as FBI agent Clarice Starling, is compelled to confront and stare down death and hideous horrors over and over. She's revealed the thing that scared her most during the filming of HANNIBAL was a herd of cows. She cracked up the film crew with her fear of cows. She says, "They couldn't believe, after all the things I had done - the guns, the boars, the running, the falling - that what scared me most was these big, stupid cows!" However, Julianne had a brilliant time on set, and says she was sorry to wrap up the Ridley Scott film. She says, "This was one of the few movies I've been on where I hated to see it end."
|63.DE LAURENTIS WANTS ANTHONY HOPKINS BACK AS HANNIBAL
Even though his latest film is not yet released, plans for legendary horror character Hannibal Lecter's return to screen are already in place. Screenwriter Ted Tally, who won an Oscar for THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, is now working on the screenplay for RED DRAGON, the Thomas Harris book which first introduced Hannibal Lecter to the world. Tally is altering the plot of RED DRAGON to feature more of Hannibal because he hopes that Anthony Hopkins is willing to return yet again in the role. The writer says his interpretation of RED DRAGON will feature Lecter running loose after an escape from prison, but he will, "never show Lecter eating people. It's just too gross. I just imply it." Some fans are already against the idea of "ruining" the book, claiming there's already a very solid adaptation of RED DRAGON, MANHUNTER (done in 1986), written and directed by Michael Mann, and another is not necessary.
Producer Dino de Laurentiis has been assured that he will be able to cast Anthony Hopkins again as Hannibal Lecter in this prequel, even though the story is set seven years before LAMBS and nearly 20 years before HANNIBAL. The resourceful Mr. de Laurentiis intends to use computer technology to take 20 years off the age of the 63-year-old Hopkins. The technology can reportedly give him a full head of hair and shave inches off his waist. De Laurentiis has reportedly offered Hopkins $20 million to take the role.
|64.ANTHONY HOPKINS VOWS NEVER TO APPEAR AS HANNIBAL
Anthony Hopkins has decided against appearing in the prequel to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL. He's said to close friends, "I think we've gone to the line with Hannibal, with the jokes and the gore. I think people would think we were being greedy if we went on any further." De Laurentiis insists, "Everyone wants to see what happened before Lecter was originally caught. There is room for more than Harris put in his first novel. The entertainment factor is still very high, as is the demand."
Remember that Hopkins denied that he'd return to the role after THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. In Hollywood "no" doesn't always mean "no." We'll keep an eye on how things develop.
|65.HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY SEEKS A RIDE
Director Jay Roach (AUSTIN POWERS) has said that he's still hopeful he can get a movie made based on Douglas Adams' satirical novel HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Roach said he's even begun thinking of possible actors for the film. Roach said his perfect Zaphod Beeblebrox would be Jim Carrey. "We've always thought Jim Carrey would be a good Zaphod, and Douglas has always wanted Hugh Laurie for Arthur."
Though the project has been a tough sell to studios, Roach said Adams remains involved. "He's doing the adaptation himself and producing the film too. So it'll be a Douglas Adams authentic production," Roach said. "The challenge is to keep the quirkiness and visionary irreverence and still allow it to be commercial. The studios recognize that it's an expensive film, so I have to make it funny and cast it well."
|66.THE HULK IS TAKING SHAPE IN THE HANDS OF ANG
Marvel comic's THE HULK is slowly lumbering its way to the big screen. Most of the people working on the film aren't very surprising. Gale Anne Hurd is on hand to produce. David Hayter will write the screenplay (he did the screenplay for THE X-MEN). The surprising participant is director Ang Lee. Lee cut his teeth in this country with arthouse hits like THE ICE STORM and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. His current movie, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, has drawn alot of critical praise. Unfortunately it hasn't given him many material benefits.
Although receiving much praise, including numerous top awards, for the movie, Ang Lee has felt constrained by economic necessity to shoot a television commercial (for BMG). His producing and writing partner James Schamus has said, "Basically, we haven't been paid in two years." Schamus also indicated that, because of the anticipated writers' and actors' strikes, Ang Lee has been unable to capitalize on the success of his current award-winning film. "We were going to make a musical, but there wasn't enough time," he said. "Now we'll just wait and see what happens." What's happened is THE HULK.
Screenwriter David Hayter hasn't exactly been reserved in his reaction to the news of Lee's involvement with the film. He's stated, "It is the most awesome thing to happen since the creation of the Earth," Hayter told the site. "That is a quote."
|67.THE TOLKIEN FAMILY DREADS THE RELEASE OF LORD
OF THE RINGS
The upcoming release of three films based on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy, will devastate his family according to the writer's son. John Tolkien has said that his family will be forced into hiding by the attention of crazed fans of his father's work. The worried 83-year-old says, "The Tolkien family is under perpetual abuse of one kind or another. It goes on all the time. I am anticipating endless bother when the film actually comes out." J.R.R. Tolkien, who died in 1973, was against the commercialization of his work - but the film rights to the Lord of the Rings have not been owned by the family since the 60's, so the film's makers New Line Cinema don't have to consult them on the making of the movie.
|68.LORD OF THE RINGS BECOMES LORD OF THE WEB
Coinciding with the release of the theatrical trailer for LORD OF THE RINGS, New Line Films has launched what is perhaps the most elaborate Internet site ever to promote any film. The site (http://www.lordoftherings.net) reportedly serves up a steady stream of information about the making of the film in advance of its release next December. So elaborate is the site that it can be accessed in 10 foreign languages and will eventually include interviews and videos of nearly every crew and cast member.
|69.A MONKEY'S AUNT
Helena Bonham Carter is one of the stars of PLANET OF THE APES. She's one of many actors who undergo a grueling daily four hour transformation that re-shapes her from (in her case) a beautiful young woman to an ape. It involves everything from acquiring a pelt to wearing prosthetic teeth. Recently, during an interview, as she sat between takes in full ape regalia, puffing away on a cigarette, she confessed, "I shouldn't be doing this, of course," as smoke billowed from her simian nostrils. "I'm extremely flammable, and [make-up wizard] Rick [Baker] gets terribly upset." Carter added of her chimp mask, "My mum thinks I look like my aunt."
|70.PLANET OF THE OOPS!
You might remember Michael Clarke Duncan. He was the big burly prisoner named "John Coffey" that changed Tom Hanks' life in THE GREEN MILE (he was also an astronaut named "Bear" in ARMAGEDDON). As the result of an ankle sprain on the set of PLANET OF THE APES, he gave visitors to a local emergency room a sight that they won't soon forget. Because he was dealing with a medical emergency he didn't have time to take off his gorilla make-up. Emergency room patients and staff gaped at the hulking 6 ft. 5 in. gorilla in full battle armor being wheeled in. Duncan said that the embarrassment was worse than the injury. "There were like 25 people in there, and they all turned around and looked at me like, `What? They got a gorilla coming in here in a wheelchair.' "
|71.THE SCI-FI CHANNEL GROWS A CROP OF NEW SCIENCE
The Sci-Fi Channel announced the creation of Exposure Studios, a new production entity aimed at developing science fiction projects by new filmmakers. Exposure Studios is based at the channel's Sci-Fi Lab in Los Angeles. Exposure will commission films between three and ten minutes in length, from independent and student filmmakers from different artistic fields, as well as Exposure series alumni. Once complete, these works will have their world television premiere on Sci-Fi's short-film series, Exposure, and be streamed Online on scifi.com. Participating filmmakers will also be granted meetings with development executives and agents, allowed to shadow directors of existing Sci-Fi Channel original series and will be given access to industry mentors and guidance.
|72.SAM RAIMI DISCUSSES SPIDER-MAN
Director Sam Raimi is aware of the controversy swirling around his new movie, SPIDER-MAN. He's dealing with both a fictional character and an icon of popular culture. He spoke candidly about rumors around the uniform, the webshooters and the script recently while on the film's set.
To allay controversy about changes in the look of Spider-Man's famous costume, Raimi said, "We've decided to get back to the classical look of the red-and-blue Spider-Man. But [costume designer] Jim [Acheson] has decided to update it, just to bring it into the year 2002, when the picture opens, to add some dimensionality to it, to take a slightly more subtle approach to the coloration of the outfit, [and] to increase the flexibility. . . . What we were really after was to give Tobey an outfit where he could display maximum flexibility, really display his physical prowess. He's really been working out for this thing. And I think that's what the audience loves about Spider-Man. Not the Schwarzenegger look, but rather the fact that he's this graceful dancer. So a lot of Jim's work was in making him look like the classic Spider-Man, updated, but still making it a very functional outfit for a dancer to perform in."
Raimi also defended the controversial choice to give the movie Spider-Man organic webshooters, not the mechanical ones of the comic book. This choice has angered many loyal comic fans. "But what we're trying to do in this SPIDER-MAN picture is not just stick to the letter of the comic book," Raimi said. "We're trying to capture the spirit of the [comic]." Raimi said that if his Peter Parker could invent the steely web fluid featured in the comics, it would undermine the audience's ability to identify with him as a regular kid. "When he can develop a material that even 3M can't seem to develop, it starts to distance him from a real human being," Raimi said. Providing Peter with a physical transformation also serves a character purpose, the director added. "It's another device to create alienation, because Peter Parker has always been an outcast, and Spider-Man a misunderstood hero," Raimi said. "I think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It's a great choice, and it was inspired by James Cameron's treatment."
As for rumors that the film's script remains troubled, Raimi responded, "The script is not in trouble. It's one of the best scripts I've had the chance to work on, actually. . . . It started with a James Cameron treatment, . . . really a fine piece of work. Then David Koepp [JURASSIC PARK] came aboard and did the lion's share of work, turning it into a screenplay and working on it for many years. And that's basically what we're working with, although Scott Rosenberg [GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS] did some work for us . . . and so did Alvin Sargent [screenwriter of ORDINARY PEOPLE and husband to SPIDER-MAN producer Laura Ziskin]. And everybody's contributed a great deal. I'd say David Koepp is really the main writer."
|73.TREK X WAITS OUT THE STRIKES
Director Jonathan Frakes has said that the upcoming 10th TREK movie will get underway once the impending Hollywood writers' and actors' strikes are resolved. GLADIATOR screenwriter John Logan "is on board, and we've allegedly got a script on the way that everyone's thrilled with," including producer Rick Berman and star Patrick Stewart, according to Frakes.
|74.DIGITAL STAR WARS IS LOOKING GOOD!
As Lucasfilms works with post-production on STAR WARS: EPISODE II, which was shot on digital video cameras, they're testing various ways to transfer the digital movie onto traditional film for distribution to theaters. "That's been very successful," producer Rick McCallum said. "We're very excited, because this new process allows us to skip two stages."
Traditionally, a film starts off as an original negative, then is processed to become an interpositive, then an internegative and finally a release print. "Each time you go through another process, there's an enormous amount of degradation to the image. Now we can go from data, skipping past the original negative and the IP stage, and go straight to an IN, and then the release print." The end result is greater picture quality that holds up after repeated printings. "When you normally make a film, you might be able to scratch six or eight release prints, or show prints, off the original negative. And those are the very best, pristine prints out there. We can basically do 5,000 now, so we're really excited about that." So whether you see a version of the film with regular projection, or one of the few who'll see it with digital projection, you'll still see a superior print.
|75.ANGELINA JOLIE WILL BE LARA CROFT TWO MORE TIMES
Angelina Jolie has confirmed that she has been signed to appear in two sequels to the upcoming TOMB RAIDER as Lara Croft. Jolie said, "Quite a few of us are signed up for two more." She added that the film, based on the hit computer game, should become a profitable franchise for Paramount. "Lara's like James Bond and a dirty Indiana Jones. Oh, and absolutely a woman. I doubt you'll forget that."
|76.UA THEATERS AGREES TO INSTALL SEATS FOR THE
United Artists Theaters will be required to install seats for the disabled in its new stadium-style theaters under a settlement reached with the Department of Justice. In the original lawsuit reported on in our prior issue of "The ICS Files," plaintiffs complained that persons using wheelchairs were required to occupy the front rows, generally regarded as the worst seats in the house. In a statement, Bill Lann Lee, an assistant attorney general for civil rights, commented, "Now the experience offered to people with disabilities will no longer be second-best and people in wheelchairs will share the comfortable and enhanced view that other movie patrons take for granted."
|77.IMAGINATIVE CINEMA FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY
FEBRUARY 2ND: VALENTINE starts on a college campus. A group of four girlfriends (Denise Richards, Jessica Capshaw, Jessica Cauffiel, Marley Shelton) ruthlessly humiliates a nerdy kid. Ten years later, physically transformed into a handsome, happening guy, he wreaks his revenge through seduction and unpleasantness. He intends to kill each of the women, one by one, on four successive Valentine's Days. Word on the street is that, if this film is well-received, this could be a potential franchise, with future entries appearing around Valentines each year. This is from the director of URBAN LEGENDS (Jamie Blanks) and the writer of DEEP BLUE SEA (Donna Powers). The film also stars David Boreanaz of ANGEL.
FEBRUARY 9TH: HANNIBAL is a film that needs little introduction (but if you need one, see the above articles). This is about the wanderings of the good doctor after his escape from the last film, and Clarice's fervor to find him. It explores the dark symbiosis that links Lector and Starling together. This will be a very big release. It's directed by Ridley Scott (whose credits include ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER and GLADIATOR).
FEBRUARY 23RD: MONKEYBONE is a fantasy that blends live action and stop-motion animation When a comic book writer (Brendan Fraser) is put into a coma following a car accident, he finds himself waking up in the world he created in his comic book, "Dark Town". He has 12 hours to escape this spooky dream world of his own creation before Death (Whoopi Goldberg) claims him. He teams up with his own creation, Monkeybone, in an effort to return to the real world. The director is Henry Selick, the director of NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. The writer is Sam Hamm, who wrote BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS (and who is now writing THE FANTASTIC FOUR).
|78.SCIFI.COM ADAPTS BUTLER'S KINDRED
SCIFI.COM's Seeing Ear Theatre will feature Emmy Award-winning actress Alfre Woodard in a four-part audio drama adapted from Octavia Butler's science-fiction novel Kindred, starting Feb. 15. Lynn Whitfield will co-star in the drama, which SCIFI.COM will post in commemoration of Black History Month. Part 2 of Kindred will go live on Feb. 20; Part 3 on Feb. 22 and Part 4 on Feb. 27. Kindred tells the story of Dana (Woodard), a modern African-American woman who finds herself transported back in time to the ante-bellum South to protect Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, when he comes face to face with life-threatening situations. Dana is summoned in these instances to insure Rufus will grow to manhood and father the daughter who will become Dana's grandmother, the first free-born woman in her ancestry. With her visits becoming longer and more dangerous, will Dana's life end before it even has a chance to begin?
|79.MARS COMES TO THE WEB
"Life on Mars," a Web-based sci-fi serial, will debut soon on the official site of E4, the entertainment TV network spun off of Great Britain's Channel 4. The daily 28-episode serial will allow browsers a peek at the "video feeds" from a fictitious manned expedition to the Red Planet.
"I suppose you'd call 'Life on Mars' an experimental drama for the Internet," according to the E4 spokesman Mark Gorton. "The aim was to create a daily 10- to 15-minute online experience, and the result is a hybrid that is part sci-fi TV show and part novella. Visitors play the role of an International Space Agency employee, with access to video feeds from the Ground Breaker probe, as well as internal and external communications from various ISA departments and the corporations sponsoring the Life on Mars mission."
|80.STEVEN SPIELBERG AND RON HOWARD TEAM UP ONLINE
Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard will create animated short films for DreamWorks' CountingDown.com Web site, part of the site's new theater section. The first pair of shorts, part of a series of Dreams created exclusively for the Web by Howard, will feature Howard and Spielberg each explaining a personal dream. Both shorts will premiere on CountingDown.com on Feb. 5.
PDI DreamWorks (the folks who did ANTZ) animated the shorts using Flash animation technology. This will be the first time that either Steven Spielberg or Ron Howard have created content specifically for the Web.
IS ADDING NEW FEATURES FOR CUSTOMERS
TiVo, the personal TV recorder, plans to enhance its features for new and existing customers during the first quarter of the year. The features, already available with the DIRECTV TiVo receivers since September, include a programmable WishList allowing you to search by actor names and other keywords, an Overtime Scheduler which adjusts to sudden shifts in programming, a new control panel for any Season Pass programs set to tape whenever they come on, and Parental Control capabilities.
|82.MIRAMAX WILL PUT FILMS ON YOUR PC
In an experiment aimed at determining whether consumers will be willing to pay to watch feature films on their personal computers, Miramax is planning to offer its 1999 release GUINEVERE over the Internet for $3.49. The film, accessible in full-screen, near-DVD quality, will take about 30 minutes to download, provided that users have access to a high-speed Internet connection. An automatic encryption program will allow it to be viewed during a 24-hour period only and will prevent it from being copied or forwarded. The film is being presented as part of Miramax's recent tie-up with SightSound.com, an Internet site that offers a number of short films online for free.
|83.DISH NETWORK WILL OFFER A NEW "ON DEMAND" RECEIVER
EchoStar Communications has unveiled a new satellite receiver that will allow users to record up to 30 hours of television programs from its DISH Network and play them back "on demand." The Pro 501 receiver is the latest introduction in the growing personal television services market that also includes the TiVo and ReplayTV receivers. EchoStar, which is displays the device at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, said that the receiver will have a suggested price of $299 when it hits retail stores this month.
|84.DON'T LOOK FOR AFFORDABLE RECORDABLE DVD PLAYERS
A low-end DVD player can be had for $99. A very good DVD player can be bought for $199. If you're looking for a recordable DVD player you'll have to spend more - over $2000 more. Pioneer is selling a recordable homedeck using DVD-RW for $2,500. Those prices will probably drop, but not out of its nose-bleed heights very soon.
Hitachi, Matsushita and Toshiba are introducing DVD-RAM units. They carry a 30 gigabyte hard drive with up to 29 hours of storage. They shipped in Japan in late December. They ran $2,500 too.
|85.LOOK FOR CHEAP DVD-VHS COMBINATTION PLAYER
They're invading our borders from China and Mexico. That giant sucking sound you hear is the sound of pneumatic doors opening and closing as consumers run into electronic hardware outlets to buy new DVD-VHS combo units. Alco, from its plant in Juarez, Mexico and Oritron, a division of Orient Power of China, are putting out DVD-VHS combination players that some retailers are selling for $99. Many other low-end players with other brand names on them were actually made by either of these two manufacturers on a third-party contractual agreement. Don't expect to be able to crack DVD coding and copy discs onto tape. They're cheap, but not magical.
|86.iDVD IS SET FOR A SUMMER RELEASE
iDVD (interactive DVD) is the latest in upgrades for the consumer market. These will be Internet enabled players, allowing viewers to get online with their TV sets. They'll be introduced for widescale consumer testing with 50,000 units on the shelves by next June or July and expected to be a be a big factor by this coming Christmas. It will enable consumers to access web content tied to movies and other discs. Studios may target consumers who have purchased their titles before to target them for upcoming releases. The price that's being discussed now is a very attractive $99. BUT there's a catch. There's a very unattractive $23.95 a month service charge with that for web surfing. We'll see the way it all shakes out.
|87.D-VHS WILL FINALLY MAKE ITS DEBUT THIS SPRING
Digital VHS (or D-VHS) has been around for some time. It's development actually pre-dates DVD! It's been withheld from the public because of concerns of copy-protection. Those concerns have finally been worked out and D-VHS is finally ready to launch. It will be introduced by JVC, the company that struck gold when it developed the VHS format back in the mid 1970's.
Video on D-VHS tapes is uncompressed, so it's enormous. A 75GB hard disk would only hold around 30 minutes of the video, according to company officials, making the trading of HD content over the Internet impossible. D-VHS can record and play back up to four hours of video in high definition mode - up to 1,080 lines per inch, or more than double the resolution of DVD. It can also record at the standard VHS resolution of 240 lines per inch. With twice the resolution of DVD and a high definition recording option, D-VHS could give DVD a major run for its money since the recordable standard for DVD still isn't set, and now DVD discs are vulnerable to piracy.
"One of the reasons Hollywood studios support this is because the video is uncompressed," according to Dan McCarron, the national product specialist in JVC's color TV division. "By compressing it, it's easier to transmit over the Internet because it's smaller. Because of its size when uncompressed, it's harder to trade or copy."
But don't declare your DVD player obsolete just yet. The JVC D-VHS deck, which should be available around May, will sell for approximately $2,000, while blank tapes will cost between $10 and $15. JVC's only TV to support HDCP is the D'Ahlia system, which will sell for a whopping $10,000 when it ships this summer.
|88.BLAIR 2 DVD/CD COMING
Artisan will release BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 as a combination first of its kind DVD/CD. The new patented technology will allow consumers to view the film, extra material and DVD-ROM extras on one side, then flip the disc and use it to play the film's soundtrack on the other side.
The CD side will be playable in portable and auto CD players as well. The CD will include The Reckoning by Godhead and a live version of the song from the BLAIR WITCH Webfest, among other songs from the film.
The DVD-ROM will also include an "Easter egg," The Secret of Esrever (that's "reverse" spelled backwards), which will allow computer users to play the sequence backward to reveal clues to discovering ghost-like images hidden within the feature film.
The DVD will be released March 13. The VHS is this month (see the next story for split VHS/DVD shipments).
|89.BEDAZZLED TO GET A SPLIT VHS/DVD SHIPMENT
Below you'll notice that BEDAZZLED, the Devilish comedy from last summer, will get a separate split shipping date. Its rental priced VHS will arrive on February 27. The DVD will be out March 13. There are two reason for this. First, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (along with several other studios) has been pondering an earlier release on VHS for some time. The belief is that it will "protect" the VHS rental. If people only have one format to choose from, it will strengthen the VHS rental market during that brief window when that's all that's available. Secondly, the DVD will be the first release that will be specially enhanced to offer special features for NUON players. It will still have all the regular trimmings (commentary tracks, a "making of" documentary, easter eggs, etc.). With a NUON enabled DVD viewers will be able to do things like zoom in and run specially encoded text. The NUON tweaking is taking extra time in the lab. So rather than postpone the release, Fox is running their release date experiment. For a full explanation of NUON, see "The ICS Files" #23, item #84, "NUON IMPROVED."
|90.BRINGING THE DRIVE-IN HOME
Two recent DVD collections ,are seeking to recreate the experience of attending a drive-in movie theater in the 1950s, including snack-bar promos and advice about "the love bug." One is Something Weird Video's Drive-In Double Feature, which features a double dollop of Doris Wishman 60's nudie epics, BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL and ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER MAN. Elite Entertainment's Drive-In Disc offer a double feature of ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES and THE SCREAMING SKULL. Elite's DVD offers an optional sound track called "Distorto." One of your speakers reproduces the distorted sounds associated with the metal speakers that drive-in patrons used to hang in their cars. The other creates a wall of the sorts of noises that you'd hear at a vintage drive-in. One of the best pops up during the National Anthem reel, featuring a ticked-off Bobby Soxer emerging from the trunk of a car. In addition, the track includes such ambient noises as crickets chirping, car doors slamming, and tires whirring on gravel.
Rental titles releasing 2/6: FEAR RUNS SILENT is a "teens vs. the monster" flick. The teens are from the aptly named Susquatch High. On a field trip in the mountains a fang-toothed yellow-eyed ugly is menacing them. One of the teens, with a history of mental problems, isn't sure if the menace is real or in her head. The incompetent guardians of the group are played by Stacy Keach and Billy Dee Williams. The VHS is a rental. The DVD sells for $24.95. . . . URBAN LEGEND: FINAL CUT debuts today. During a contest to determine the best thesis film, student filmmakers at Alpine University are having an unusually hard time. Someone is killing crew members. The VHS is a rental. The DVD is $24.95.
Rental title releasing 2/13: ZERO WOMAN:DANGEROUS GAME is a fast moving piece of Asian pulp cinema. This has a beautiful undercover agent tracking down a killer who slaughters random victims for the medical black market. It's in VHS only. . . THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE is about the resulting chaos when Rocky and Bullwinkle go three dimensional after they've discovered that Boris, Natasha and Fearless Leader have found a way to enter the "real world." The moose and squirrel team must stop the bad guys plan for world conquest. The VHS is a rental. The DVD is $24.98. This title was delayed from its original announced release date, January 23rd. . . . BLESS THE CHILD is the story of a psychiatric nurse who takes on the responsibility of caring for her drug-addict sister's baby daughter. She's no ordinary little girl. Unknown to most people, she has the ability to lead humanity closer to God. Six years later the mother, now married to a cult leader returns and tries to kidnap the extraordinary child. He wants to bend the girl to his dark purposes. The VHS is a rental. The DVD is available for $29.99. . . . NOSTRADAMUS was originally a made-for-cable film from last year. A sexy psychic and a police detective team up to stop a medieval cult from recalling the spirit of Nostradamus and bringing about the final destruction of the world. The VHS is a rental. The DVD are $19.98. . . . Why, why, why do these darned movie scientists insist on messing with the intelligence of great white sharks? Ask the characters in SHARK ATTACK 2. When a biological experiment goes awry (and they always do!), mutant killer great white sharks are found to be responsible for a series of gruesome attacks on humans. People, if you meet a great white shark do not, I repeat, DO NOT attempt to mate with it. Your smarty pants offspring will create so much havoc they'll probably shoot SHARK ATTACK 3. So much pain for a few moments of pleasure. Oy!
Rental titles releasing 2/20: THE CRIMSON CODE has FBI special agent, Jason Chandler investigating the disappearance of two notorious mass murderers. He then makes a startling discovery, that someone is murdering the murderers. There's a serial killer out there who only preys on other serial killers! The VHS is a rental. The DVD is $24.98. . . . THE PRISONER (originally titled HUO SHAO DAO) is a 1990 Chinese film with the rarest of all things in it - a Jackie Chan performance that's not a starring part. He plays a supporting (and non-comedic) role in this movie, which is mostly a drama, with some comedic moments thrown in. The movie, which also features Sammo Hung and Tony Leung, is set in a prison run by a corrupt warden. Someone is faking the prisoner's deaths in order to use them for assassins. The VHS is a rental. The DVD is $24.95. . . . THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, BOOK OF SHADOWS: BLAIR WITCH 2 (wow, that title just rolls off the tongue - if your tongue is as long as Jar-Jar Binks') releases on VHS today. See the above story to get all the dope on this film. . . . THE WATCHER has Keeanu Reeves as a manipulative serial killer. James Spader is a former Los Angeles FBI agent, now in hiding in Chicago, fleeing from his tormented past of tracking psychotic killers. He's pushed out of retirement in a cat-and-mouse game, providing him with photos of the next victims, essentially challenging the man who spent 8 years trying to catch him to finally succeed. The cast also includes Marisa Tomei and Ernie Hudson. It's directed by first-time director Joe Charbanic (who has cut his teeth on music videos). The VHS is a rental. The DVD goes for $26.98. . . . HIGHLANDER: END GAME blends characters from the classic HIGHLANDER movies and its spin-off TV show. They come together for the final installment of the story of immortals who have been walking the earth and fighting for their lives for centuries. The VHS is a rental. The DVD sells for $32.99. . . . CHAMELEON 3: DARK ANGEL is part of a well-regarded UPN Friday night action movie series. Agent Kam (Bobbie Phillips) must save a teen prodigy scientist's experiment from a ruthless terrorist group. It transforms unstable Dark Matter into a black hole capable of killing everyone on the planet Earth. This is only available as a VHS rental.
Rental titles releasing 2/27: LOST SOULS, the movie with Winona Ryder and Ben Chaplin about the Devil and the last days, makes it way to video today. Chaplin discovers that he's an unwilling pawn in a plot to make the Devil walk the Earth in human form. Winona Ryder's trying to stop it from happening. The VHS is a rental. The DVD is $24.98. . . . BEDAZZLED, the cosmic comedy with victim Brendan Fraser being granted constantly derailing wishes by devil Elizabeth Hurley, comes out today. The VHS appears on rental shelves today. As mentioned above, the DVD won't be out until March 13th. . . . SHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE 13TH is, as you may have guessed, a spoof. A sexy reporter teams up with a bumbling mall cop to track a killer intent on killing off the most popular kids at Bulimia Falls High School in a parody of just about every recent horror flick. The VHS is a rental. The DVD is $24.99.
Sell through titles releasing 2/6: STAR TREK VOYAGER has five episodes releasing today. They've got episode 27, "Maneuvers," episode28, "Resistance," episode 29, "Prototype," episode 30, "Death Wish" and episode 31, "Alliances." Each tape sells for $14.95. . . . Fox Video has a group of titles coming out on VHS today. They include the sci-fi action flick, WING COMMANDER; the Tom Hanks fantasy, BIG; the fantasy adventure, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and the thriller with Keeanu reeves and Morgan Freeman, CHAIN REACTION. They sell for $9.98 each. . . . BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS is a Roger Corman space epic with some interesting names involved. The screenplay is by John Sayles (who's gone on to be a crucial figure as an independent director and writer). The art direction is by James ("King of the World") Cameron. The story is straight out of SEVEN SAMURAI, and its American knockoff, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (in fact Robert Vaughn's on hand, essentially playing the same part that he played in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN). A band of seven interstellar mercenaries assemble to protect a farming colony on a distant world. The cast also includes Richard Thomas, John Saxon George Peppard and Sam Jaffe. The VHS sells for $14.99. The DVD is $19.98. . . . FARSCAPE, the Sci-fi Channel's original series, has two offerings today. There's the FARSCAPE: PREMIERE, which set the series up, and FARSCAPE: COLLECTION 1, which contains three episodes in one collector's box. The PREMIERE is $14.98 on VHS and $24.98 on DVD. The collection is $39.98 on VHS only. . . . EROTIC GHOST is a T&A flick under the guise of horror. A bored, sexually repressed housewife gets some erotic attention from a hot-blooded voluptuous demoness. Both the VHS and DVD are $19.98. . . . HARVEY, that gentle 1950 fantasy that stars Jimmy Stewart as tippler Elwood P. Dowd and his invisible companion, a 6' 3½" rabbit named "Harvey," gets re-released today. The video is $14.98. It's DVD debut goes out at $29.98. . . . We got us a mess 'o American International pics making their way to DVD today. We've got THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES from 1971 and DR. PHIBES STRIKES AGAIN from 1972, both with Vincent Price, DIE MONSTER, DIE from 1965 with Boris Karloff, ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE from 1958 with John Agar and THE WILD ANGELS from 1966 with Peter Fonda, Nancy Sinatra, Bruce Dern and Peter Bogdanovich! All of the DVD's are going for $14.95. . . . Today is AMERICAN NINJA day! Today you can pick up AMERICAN NINJA, AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION and AMERICAN NINJA 3: BLOOD HUNT on VHS for $9.95. . . . NORTH BY NORTHWEST SPECIAL EDITION is one of Hitchcock's best. It stars one of his favorite leading men (Cary Grant), has that essential Hitchcock favorite - the gorgeous blonde (Eva Marie Saint) and centers on one of Hitchcock's favorite plot twists - the wrong man being pursued for something of which he's entirely innocent. This special VHS edition has a "making of" documentary, featuring Eva Marie Saint, giving away all of Hitch's secrets. It's available for $14.95. . . . ENTER THE DRAGON: 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION is one of Bruce Lee's best. This is the first martial arts film ever financed by Hollywood. The 25th anniversary edition features additional footage, an interview with Lee's widow, Linda Lee Caldwell, and "Bruce Lee: In His Own Words," a behind-the-scenes documentary. This VHS-only goes for $14.95. . . . We don't usually mention Westerns in "The ICS Files" (unless they're vampire cowboys in it). But we'll make an exception for THE WILD BUNCH: SPECIAL EDITION. This gritty Sam Peckinpah view of the Wild West is a little wilder than the standard fare. Over 30 years have passed since its release in 1969, and people are still arguing over whether the film is a masterpiece or a monstrosity. The story is about a bunch of aging outlaws struggling against the West that's changing around them. It's on VHS only for $14.95. This edition contains a special "making of" documentary. . . . CHERRY 2000 is an odd little movie from 1987. A pre-fame Melanie Griffith plays a MadMax-like character on a mission in dangerous territory to get a replacement chip for a pleasure droid. The DVD release is $14.95.
Sell through titles releasing 2/13: Today we turn the clock back to the year 1986. That's the year that movie audiences first met Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the movie MANHUNTER. In this movie Lecter's already locked away. FBI agent Will Graham (William Petersen), who'd captured him, needs his help to track down another butcher, "The Tooth Ferry." You can buy a regular VHS for $9.99, or regular DVD for $24.98. The "DIRECTOR'S CUT" on video is $14.98. The DVD two-disc set of the "LIMITED EDITION," loaded down with extras, is $39.98. . . . THE SCI-FI FILES features Mark Hamil narrating an exploration of aliens, spaceships and futuristic machines. The VHS is $19.98. . . . INSEMINOID is a 1981 film set on a distant planet. A group of scientists encounters a worm-like alien. It rapes and impregnates one of them. She begins killing her friends and drinking their blood. The VHS sells for $9.99. . . . MADMAN is a 1981 paint-by-numbers kind of horror flick. Combine A) a summer camp; B)a bunch of standard character teenagers [the over dramatic intellectual, the sentimental blonde, the overachieving jock, the curious clown, the feminist and the mustache guy] C) scary stories by the camp fire D) a mythical killer farmer named "Madman Marz," throw in an axe and you've got your standard mayhem. The VHS is $9.99. The DVD is $24.98. . . . NIGHTWATCH (or as it was originally titled, NATTEVAGTEN) is that rarest of all things, a Danish horror film. This 1994 movie was remade as an American film in 1998. The original is said to be a nail-biting classic. Martin, a college student, has been hired to work as a night watchman at a morgue. When a serial killer starts dropping the mutilated corpses of prostitutes there it begins to look like the killer could be Martin. The video is $14.98. The disc is $29.98. . . . TOWER OF EVIL is a 1972 British movie. Some archeologists are searching for an old and mystical Phoenician treasure. But they get surprised by a series of mysterious assassinations by an unseen homicidal madman. The VHS is $9.99. . . . Feel like sticking your head in a toilet and taking a big gulp? You don't have to. There's a way to get that exact same feeling without all that wet mess and mussing your clothes. See the double feature DVD that Something Weird is releasing today - THE DEFILERS/ SCUM OF THE EARTH. This pair of grindhouse gruesomes might lead you to stick your head in the toilet after you've seen them, and just before you say so long to lunch. THE DEFILERS is from 1965. It was written and co-directed by David F. Friedman. Two young thugs kidnap a young girl in the basement of an old warehouse and make her their sex slave. SCUM OF THE EARTH is from 1963. It's from notorious director, Herschell Gordon Lewis. It's about a wholesome college girl who gets sucked into a seedy underworld. You can pick up this DVD for $24.99. But it now and avoid the Mother's Day rush! . . . MANTIS IN LACE: SPECIAL EDITION is another Something Weird DVD. This 1968 film is about a topless dancer who attracts, seduces, then murders the men she sleeps with. She does it with a twist, however; she kills them with garden tools. The disc goes for $24.99. . . . THE DIRECTORS is a 22 part collection from the American Film Institute. Each sixty minute tape or disc focuses in on a single contemporary director with extensive clips and commentary of their works. Both the VHS and the DVD are available for $9.98. You can pick up all 22 DVD's in a collectible box set for just $199.98. . . . THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER is a very dark surreal film from the British director, Peter Greenaway. An ogre-ish restaurateur and his long-suffering wife dine at his elaborate restaurant. She decides to have an affair with one of the regular patrons. And then it gets very, very complicated. We watch an exquisitely beautiful film that is a strange cauldron of food, adultery, violence, murder, urination, betrayal and cannibalism. You can own the DVD for $29.99. . . . For those of you in mourning for the recently deceased Ray Walston, you can work out your grief with MY FAVORITE MARTIAN tapes or disc. You can get the first four shows on two tapes, at $9.95 each, or on a single DVD for $19.95. . . . STAR TREK, THE ORIGINAL SERIES adds two volumes to DVD today. Volume 19 contains "Mirror, Mirror: and "The Deadly Years." Volume 20 has "The Changeling' and "The Apple." The DVD's are $19.99 each. . . . VIOLENT COP is a Japanese movie that gives us Detective Azuma as a Dirty-Harry style rogue cop who often uses violence and unethical methods to get results. While investigating a series of drug-related homicides, Azuma discovers that his friend and colleague, Iwaki, is supplying drugs from within the police force. After Iwaki is murdered and Azuma's sister is kidnapped, he breaks all the rules to dish out his particular form of justice. You can watch the bodies pile up on DVD for $19.98.
Sell through titles releasing 2/20: DRAGON BLUE releases today. It features a beautiful young spiritualist vacationing on a remote island. She discovers that a nightmarish creature is feasting on the lovely young ladies there. This VHS direct-to-video title sells for $14.98. . . . PULGASARI, the hysterically awful North Korean monster flick mentioned in the last issue, darkens our shores today. This "epic" sells for $14.98. . . . FRIGHTMARE is a very disturbing 1974 British shocker. A middle-aged couple has been locked away in a mental institution for 18 years. The authorities don't understand that they're releasing a cannibal out into the world - a very hungry psychotic cannibal. Peter Walker, the director of this notorious British horror film, said that he wanted audiences to leave the cinema feeling angry and frustrated after seeing it. A lot of the people who saw this film think that he succeeded. Judge for yourself. It's on DVD only, at $24.99. . . . Ever wonder what life was like inside a tough all-girl gang in the fifties? Me neither. But if you ever get a hankering to know check out Roger Corman's 1957 TEENAGE DOLL. The Black Widows, a teenage girl gang, find one of their number killed; they suspect Barbara, sometime girlfriend of the leader of the rival gang, The Vandals. While they were shooting an exterior scene in a suburban neighborhood, one of the neighbors turned on their sprinkler system in hopes that director Roger Corman would pay them to turn it off. Corman pay extra for something? Never! Instead, he used the free special effect to make it a rain scene which worked out better for the shoot. This above average B is available on DVD only for $24.99.
Sell through titles releasing 2/27: LEPRECHAUN 3: IN VEGAS and LEPRECHAUN 4: IN SPACE release today. You can only see the evil little man if you've got a DVD player. Each disc is $24.99. . . . THE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS, that wonderfully cheesy sci-fi film from 1958, comes to DVD today. Two brains with dissimilar attitudes arrive on Earth. One is criminal (Gor) and must inhabit the "stupid body" of John Agar. The police brain (Val) takes over the body of a German Shepherd. The brains bob around on clearly visible black wire. Gor has a bad habit of staring at model planes on strings and making them blow up. Then the burning string bits hang suspended in mid-air. If you're in the right mood, this movie can be the perfect balance between lousy and struggling (in vain) to be better. The disc is $24.99. . . . THINGS TO COME makes it debut on DVD today. This 1936 film was directed by William Cameron Menzies and boasts a screenplay written by H.G. Wells. This prescient film saw an imminent world war three years before one started. It's a bit dated and preachy by today's standards but it's an extremely important piece of science-fiction. It set the gold standard for science-fiction epics for decades. The disc is $24.99. . . . BLOOD MANIA is just the ticket if you've yearning for some low-budget sleaze. This 1970 flick has a young sex-crazed lady plotting to kill her surgeon father to give the money to her weird boyfriend. As you may have already guessed, things don't go as planned. The DVD is $9.95. . . . If you're in the mood for mayhem, Troma Video's got it in spades with five tasteless treats from the past. They're offering ANGEL'S WILD WOMEN (1972) about a an all-girl biker gang, BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR (1972) with an evil doctor and a nasty brain implant, DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971) the title says it all, I SPIT ON YOUR CORPSE (1974) once again the title says it all and SATAN'S SADISTS (1969) about a bunch of nasty ol' bikers. You can buy the VHS for $14.98 or savor every delicious digital moment on DVD for $19.98. . . . NAVIGATOR is set in 14th century England. A group of villagers desperate to find a cure to the Black Plague, follow a boy with mystical visions into a remote, mysterious cave. They find themselves transported into the 20th century. The VHS is $19.95. The DVD is $24.95. . . . PET SHOP OF HORROR: SPECIAL EDITION is a collection of four animated tales of horror that center around the exotic creatures that inhabit a unique pet shop. The DVD is $29.95.
MOVIE: VALENTINE debuts today.
TUE. 6TH - VIDEO RENTAL: FEAR RUNS SILENT and
URBAN LEGEND: FINAL
FRI. 9TH - MOVIE: HANNIBAL debuts today.
TUE. 13TH - EVENT: OSCAR NOMINATIONS
FRI. 16TH - EVENT: KATSUCON
SAT. 17TH - EVENT: KATSUCON
SUN. 18TH - EVENT: KATSUCON
TUE. 20TH - VIDEO RENTAL: THE CRIMSON CODE,
THE PRISONER, THE BLAIR
FRI. 23RD - MOVIE: MONKEYBONE
TUE. 27TH - VIDEO RENTAL: LOST SOULS, BEDAZZLED
and SHRIEK IF YOU