#61 February 2004

CLUB NEWS
JUST READ ALL THE CLUB NEWS

TV NEWS
BORG ASSIMILATE VEGAS 
OLD FRIENDS VISIT ANGEL 
FAMILY SQUABBLES ON JOAN 
LOVE BLOOMS ON ENTERPRISE? 
ALIAS’S SLOANE TO BE BUSY GAL 
DOCTOR IN THE BUFF 
CENTURY EYES NEAR FUTURE 
GLOVER AND REEVE TOGETHER AGAIN 
TREK MOVES TIME TO HELP SPACE
FURST HELMS DRAGON STORM

EVENT NEWS
February 13-15: Farpoint 
February 13-14: Katsucon 
February 27-29: Three Days of 3-D
March 12-14: Super Mega Show 
April: Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2004.
May 28-31: BALTICON 38 
June 4-6: Moonlight Rising 2004
July 9-11: Shore Leave 26.

LITERARY NEWS
WARNER BRINGS OUT THE DEAD 
OUR VERY OWN NORMAN
MANGA NEWS

MOVIE NEWS
TALKING ABOUT SPIDEY 2 
EPISODE III HITS MILESTONE 
THE BOX – A NEW HORROR
MORPHING IN BUTTERFLY 
IS CAMERON RETURNING? 
TAKE NOT THE YODA STATUE, YES?
EPISODE III ENDS IT ALL 
INDY IV ON IT WAY! 
CAT SCRATCH FEVER? 
STARS BONE UP FOR POTTER IV 
KING CONQUERS GLOBES

ACTION FIGURE NEWS
NO NEWS THIS ISSUE

IMAGINATIVE CINEMA
February 6th   LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA 
February 13th  ROBOT STORIES
March 5th       HILDAGO 
March 12th      SECRET GARDEN

DVD NEWS
SOUNDS LIKE AN ICS DVD FOR SURE!! 
DO THE REVOLUTION
BLOODY GOOD SHOW 
COMIC BOOK THE MOVIE
ANIME DVD RELEASES

INTERNET NEWS
MUSIC DOWNLOADING
HOLLYWOOD & DVD’S

FAREWELLS
Ann Miller
Bernard Punsly
Paula Raymond
Uta Hagen
Ron O'Neal
Ray Stark
Jack Cady

THE LAST "WARD"
 

ICS CALENDER
TAKE THIS PAGE, PRINT IT 
THEN POST IT
ON THE FRIDGE!!!

Editor-Betsy Childs 
Staff/Contributing Writers
Regina Vallerani, Taylor Sherblom Woodward,
Mike Laird, Jeanne Matcovich,
Gary Roberson, Charlie Wittig,
Joe Plempel, John Ward

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FIFTH ANNIVERSARY GALA AT THE SENATOR
 On January 24, 2004, 5 years to the day that ICS began at the Enoch Pratt Free library downtown, the club celebrated its fifth anniversary at the Balcony of the Senator Theater with food and favors.  The club lucked out with both the weather (no snow!) and the film (RETURN OF THE KING).  People mingled and snacked in the outer balcony area which overlooked the Senator’s foyer.  And, we had two movie rooms on either side of the balcony level – one was designated “no talking” for serious film watchers and the other was a “talking room” which was relatively quiet save for jokes about the Spiegel catalog mixed with a group rendition of the Banana Splits theme song (you had to be there). 
   Each attendee also received a favor bag which consisted of an ICS refrigerator magnet, an ICS logo iron-on transfer, a copy of the first ICS files, a movie button and trinkets, and a certificate for the Fifth Anniversary Tribute Tape (see below).
 Thanks to the board, Dave Henderson, Joe Plempel, Regina Vallerani, Dave Willard, and Charlie Wittig for organizing and catering!  Also, special mention to Neil Wagenfer (and everyone else) who helped with setup and cleanup!
SEE PICTURES HERE

JANUARY MEETING ELECTION
 The January meeting began with the annual election of officers.  Incumbents Dave Henderson, Joe Plempel, Regina Vallerani, and Dave Willard, were joined by John Ward on the 2004 board.  After 5 years of service, Charlie Wittig, voluntarily removed his name from the ballot.  Thank you, Charlie, for all of your board contributions in the past, including the web-site, and, for your help with conventions and club activities.  You really have helped shape the club into what it is now.

OFFICIAL FIFTH ANNIVERSARY TAPE
    As reported in past issues, Barry Murphy has been compiling a tape of member testimonials and clips from movies we have shown in the past 5 years.  It was finally unveiled on Saturday night.  And was it worth the wait!  Highlights included a fall down funny parody of VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA featuring an Octopus attack on the Seaview, as well as the Crimson Ghost, the Masked Avenger and Minimum Bid Kid, and a morph of a club member into Godzilla (and no, it wasn’t Linda Conrad!). 
 The tape is free to members who attended the fifth anniversary bash and is $3 for all others.  More copies will be available at the February meeting if you have not picked up your tape yet.  Great job, Barry!

WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?
    Once again, Barry Murphy faced impossible odds, like illness and broken PC’s and VCR’s, only to triumph with a presentation on some of Hollywood’s more amusing mishaps.  Poor John Carradine faced an unconventional end for a vampire (parodied in THE SIMPSONS Halloween episode with Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl) in the clip from BILLY THE KID VS. DRACULA.  The next clip came from the little-seen film BELA LUGOSI MEETS A BROOKLYN GORILLA, featuring Martin and Lewis impersonators Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo.  The scene featured Mitchell in a rather feminine Hawaiian shirt “singing” (yes, the quotes are necessary) to a group of natives as Petrillo did his best nasal Lewis voice trying to escape the attention of a love struck island girl.  Plus, there was an incredible trailer for SUPER STOOGES VS. THE AMAZON WOMEN which frustrated several people when Barry did not follow through with the actual film later on. 
 Another superb presentation Barry!  Thank You!

MOVE OVER, JOHN CARPENTER
    In the spirit of “What the Hell Were They Thinking”, Barry Murphy offered a selection of unintentionally funny films.  Of these turkeys, the club voted for the Japanese superhero film, STARMAN. 
     However, a film that initially seemed like a winner - a MST3K classic (as PRINCE OF SPACE) that featured stupid police badges, inane, repetitive, dubbed dialogue, easy to mimic superhero poses and villains going commando under their space suits, ended up garnering some criticism.  Will it replace THE HEADLESS GHOST as the worst ICS film ever?  Only time will tell.
 For what it’s worth, thanks for the film Barry and for being a good sport!  Heck, if Sue Feder borrowed the DVD, you know it has to be at least as good as SHE- DEMONS!

SOUNDS LIKE AN URBAN LEGEND, BUT IT’S NOT… 
 I know an actual person who rented the killer snowman movie JACK FROST instead of the Michael Keaton film of the same name.  As we watched a midnight showing of JACK FROST after the meeting and social time, I wondered at what point did he realize that Micheal Keaton was just not going to show up. 
 Joe Plempel deserves a very big thank you for sticking around to show the film even though he has seen it a scant month ago.

THE ANNUAL AUDIT 
 Norman Prentiss and Tom Woodward were kind enough to audit our books. The audit turned out positive; our books are in balance and we can face 2004 with almost $2000 in our bank account.  Thanks, Norman and Tom! 

WELCOME JOHN WARD!
  That’s not a typo.  John Ward has signed up for a family membership including his wife Terri and son, John Jr.  We can expect to see both Johns over the summer!  (Remember to see Hendo for a badge).  Welcome to the club John!  We’re glad you are joining.

WELCOME JUSTIN PROVEAUX!
  It was a banner night for fathers and sons.  You’ve seen Justin around.  He’s Tom Proveaux’s son.  Now it’s official!  Welcome to the club Justin.  Remember to see Hendo if you want to sign up to show some of those anime movies!

LOOK FOR DAVA’S MOVIE REVIEWS
  Betts announced that the ICS Files has a new writer.  Dava Sentz is doing movie reviews.  Keep an eye out for her work farther down in this newsletter.  Thanks for volunteering Dava! 

FARPOINT PANEL VOLUNTEERS
  It looks like our assistance with a panel at Shore Leave last year paid off.  Farpoint has asked us to help out with a panel at their convention, Feb 13-15, at the Hunt Valley Marriott.  So, if you are free or bored over Valentine’s Day weekend and/or plan on attending Farpoint, contact Dave Willard if you’d like to help out.  Let’s kick some convention butt!

ITEM!  WE’VE DOUBLED OUR SPACE
 Whilst trying to escape STARMAN, Dave Henderson made an incredible discovery.  The here-to-fore unfinished hall basement is now finished and painted.  It will make a great socialization area for those who wish to mingle during the film.  We only ask that people be responsible to clean up any food they take downstairs.  And no ping-pong or foosball or air-hockey playing is allowed.  We do not want to damage the church’s equipment.  Even if you are not up for socializing (after all, perhaps you don’t want to tear yourself away from the latest Capt. Marvel episode), it’s worth the walk downstairs to see the art, including a graffiti wall and a painting of the Garden of Eden. 

SENATOR BALCONY – LET’S DO IT AGAIN!
 Because everyone enjoyed the fifth anniversary so much, it was suggested that we rent out the balcony more often.  The tickets are $10 and they only require a minimum of 15 people.  We will keep our eyes on the Senator schedule and may schedule another event if a genre picture of note plays there over the spring or summer.

YANKEE SWAP FALLOUT
 The annual Yankee Swap faced some criticism after the December meeting.  Some people were unhappy with the quality, cost, and appropriateness of gifts.  After all was said and done, the club decided to continue with the swap in December, but will stress in the preceding months that the gift should be something that costs around $20.  It is absolutely not appropriate to wrap a used item from your private collection or to purchase a $5.99 item from the sale rack and think it makes an appropriate gift when other people are willing to spend the full amount.  As for choice of gift, while one man’s trash is another man’s treasure (or Hulk Hands), try to purchase a movie-related gift that you would like to receive yourself.

ICS PR COMMITTEE
 Dave Willard brought up the topic of a publicity committee.  Its function is to get the word out about the club to the local film scene so we can benefit from screening passes, interviews and other perks of recognition.  The committee will consist of non-board members who will have a budget, meet once a month and will report to the club.  So far, Betsy Childs and Mike Schilling have expressed interest on being on the committee.

DUES ARE COMING
    This is just a reminder that 2004 dues are, well, due.  Individuals are $25. Couples are $40. Extra family members who reside at the same address are $15 each added the primary membership.  We hope that you decide to join us for an exciting year ahead.
 

The following list of people have renewed for 2004. 
If you are not listed, please see Regina.
 

Donna Burke 
Lisa Casper 
Betsy Childs 
Jim Childs
Suzanne Cooper
Vince DiLeonardi
Sue Feder 
Heather Fleming (honorary)
Tim Fleming (honorary) 
Dave Henderson 
Andrew Kent
Jeanne Matcovich
Barry Murphy 
Tom Noll 
Skip Phillips 
Joe Plempel
Justin Proveaux
Tom Proveaux
Rick Rieve 
Gary Roberson 
Ruth Roberson
Mike Schilling
Dava Sentz 
Sue Ellen Sherblom 
Blake Sherblom-Woodward
Taylor Sherblom-Woodward 
Patricia Smith
Richard Smith 
Courtney Spies 
Jack Tydings 
Regina Vallerani
Neil Wagenfer
John Ward
John Ward, Jr.
Terri Ward
John Weber 
Michael Wilder 
Paula Wilder
Dave Willard 
Charlie Wittig 
Tom Woodward

CALENDARS ARE STILL HERE!  PLEASE BUY ONE…
 The theme for the 2004 calendar is TV Shows of the 60’s and is now available.   The calendar is $15 and while most of them are reserved, we have 2 or 3 extras.  If you want one, please see Regina.  It’s worth it for the cover alone.  See how many ICS members you can spot!  Or if not for the cover, it’s always good for answers to ICS Academic questions.

NEWS OF OUR NEXT MEETING
 Our next meeting will be held on Saturday February 28th at 5:30 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 443-570-6455.  That's Dave Willard’s cell phone.  He'll talk you in. 

SEA TALES 
  Dave Henderson has been waiting for over a year to do another presentation.  While he dressed up in groovy vampire garb for his presentation on 70’s Vampires, who knows what to expect for his presentation on Sea Tales in February!  Maybe flippers and goggles or a mechanical shark or a memento from that Voyage to the something TV show…

ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT ALERT
2004 ICS Oscar Pool

 Due to a fluke of the scheduling calendar, we actually have two meetings that fall between the Oscar nominations and the Academy Awards. 
          So, for those of you who weren’t at the January meeting, you’re in luck.  There’s still a chance to enter the 2004 ICS Oscar Pool.  It costs $5 a ballot, just like last year. 
You have one of two options.  First, study the Last Ward column in this issue for Oscar tips, then come to the February meeting with your five bucks.  We will have ballots on hand.  The Oscars will be telecast the night after our February meeting.
 Your second option is to go to www.Oscar.com, where you’ll find a printable ballot, suitable for completion.  (Geez, where did you think we got ours, anyway?)  Fill it out, and bring it to the February meeting. 
Unfortunately, we will not be able to accept ballots via email.  You must turn in a hard copy to participate.
 Good luck!

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BORG ASSIMILATE VEGAS 
   Borg Invasion 4D, an interactive entertainment at the Las Vegas Hilton, will open March 18.  The multimillion dollar attraction is being billed as the most ambitious 4-D-style ride ever, combining live actors and special effects to create a realistic Star Trek experience.
   In Borg Invasion, visitors will tour a futuristic research facility when drones of the Borg Collective attempt to capture and assimilate them using 24th-century cybernetic technology.  The attraction features sensory effects choreographed with a 3-D film and a live-action Steadicam stereo shot with real-time 3-D onscreen playback.  Visitors will be able to access the attraction at the Hilton via the new Las Vegas monorail.

OLD FRIENDS VISIT ANGEL 
   Joss Whedon, co-creator of The WB's vampire series ANGEL said to expect familiar faces as the current fifth season winds up, including Andrew (Tom Lenk from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) and the possible return of Connor (Vincent Kartheiser). Kartheiser's character—the son of Angel (David Boreanaz) and Darla (Julie Benz)—left the series at the end of last season after Angel made a deal with the nefarious law firm of Wolfram & Hart.
   Whether Kartheiser returns depends on scheduling and other issues, Whedon said. "We do have every intention of seeing him again and seeing the Connor who did grow up happy, who had everything that he never had and what that person would be like and what it would be like for Angel to deal with him knowing what Connor can never know." 
   And, as previously reported, Carpenter's Cordelia will return to wrap up her character's storyline in the series' 100th episode, "You're Welcome!" which is schedule for Feb. 4. 
   "That's very much kind of an opportunity to sum up and sort of go, 'Good lord, we've been doing this for a while,'" Whedon said. "And without being sly and post-modern about it and winking at the audience, really using it as a milestone and having her—because she was there at the beginning—come and say, 'Well, where are you now? Where were you when we started, and where are you no and how do you feel about that?'"
   One face that definitely won't appear on ANGEL this season: Sarah Michelle Gellar's Buffy, Whedon said. "Sarah last year said that she would be interested in coming on the show," he said. "And then this year, she ... said that it felt too soon.  And that's something that I actually understand.  It's very difficult when you throw something off that's sort of taken over your life and your public persona for years and years and years, ... it's very difficult to just sort of say, 'OK, I'm going to throw that back on on somebody else's show and dive in again.'  And I think that's probably what happened."
   Whedon added, "I don't know that it's a never. ... It was more just like, 'Now's not the time.'  And as writers, we have to go to our own characters and care more about that.  And so it isn't ... bad, I don't think. ... I would love to see her on the show, and she's welcome anytime she decides she is ready.

FAMILY SQUABBLES ON JOAN 
   Amber Tamblyn, star of CBS' hit supernatural series JOAN OF ARCADIA said that she just finished shooting a scene with her real-life father, actor Russ Tamblyn, and some family dynamics spilled over. 
   "I think everybody was really excited, because they were like, 'What's the scene going to be like?'" Tamblyn said.  "And I stepped on a couple of his lines, and he, like, yelled at me, like he does at home.  Like, 'No, you wait!' And we totally started bickering at each other.  The first [assistant director] was like, 'OK, no family feuding on the set. Let's just take a breather.  Calm down,'" she added with a laugh.
   In an episode to air in February, the elder Tamblyn appears as God in the form of a hippie dog walker, Amber said.  "He actually grew his beard out so that he could look scruffy, like a hippie," she said.  "It was a lot of fun.  He was walking six dogs, these big dogs, and they started wrapping around us and tying us up together.  It's going to be a really funny scene."
   Off the set, Amber said that longtime actor Russ (West Side Story) doesn't have much advice for the rapidly rising young star, who was just nominated for a Golden Globe Award.  "My dad is terribly way too laid back for me," she said.  "Like, when I start stressing over something, he's so laid back. ... He just says, especially for things like award shows and things like that, he's, like, 'Look at it as a three-ring circus.  Just have fun.  Look at how fun and funny people are and just enjoy yourself.'"
   Will Russ Tamblyn be back on Joan? "It was just one day," Amber said. "It was short. But it's my dad. They'll probably bring him back for something else.

LOVE BOAT ENTERPRISE? 
   “Expect more surprises in the budding relationship between my character and the Vulcan T'Pol” (Jolene Blalock) said Connor Trinneer, who plays Cmdr. Tucker on UPN's Star Trek: ENTERPRISE. "Whatever's going on now in that relationship, I think that relationship is going to have so many different levels," Trinneer.  "I think that relationship is going to go all over the place."
   In the current third season, Tucker and T'Pol have grown close as they spend evenings engaged in Vulcan touch therapy.  "There's a relationship there that, again, will change," Trinneer said.  "They kind of, I think, just throw s--t at us, because it's like, 'Hey, maybe she's in love with the captain, that's great.  Wait, let's see what they do.  See what happens.'"
   Beyond possible romance, Trinneer said that the new season's storyline, which puts Enterprise on a mission to prevent the Earth's destruction, has reinvigorated the series. "You can just feel it," he said. "I think it starts with story.  You get a consistency in the stories being of high quality, and you get one and then another and another, and you start to feel like you're building momentum.  And it's also helpful to have an arc that you're doing for the whole year, which helps you, I think, build momentum in that. 
   So you start from a place and hopefully build up steam to tell that story and its climax. And I think we're doing that. I think we're doing that very well, actually. I think we're building to a climax of this season that I think will be really cool." 

ALIAS’S SLOANE TO BE BUSY GAL 
   Ron Rifkin, who plays Arvin Sloane on ABC's spy series ALIAS says that viewers will soon see a more romantic side to his character. "I get to have sex with someone," Rifkin said. "That's all I'm going to say."
   Rifkin, whose character has morphed from evil to ambiguously good in ALIAS' three-year run, lost his beloved wife last season.  Rifkin added that Sloane may have more to do with the nefarious Sark, played by David Anders. "His character gets to have sex also," Rifkin said playfully.

DOCTOR IN THE BUFF 
   Star Trek: ENTERPRISE star John Billingsley laughed as he said that his character, Dr. Phlox, takes center stage in the upcoming Feb. 18 episode "Doctor's Orders"—and that he does so in the buff! 
   "We have to traverse a very dangerous part of space if we're to get to the Xindi weapon in time," Billingsley said in an interview at UPN's winter press tour in Hollywood. "And in that amazing way I have of somehow knowing this s--t, I say, 'Well, if we do this, all of the humans are going to be driven mad. I as a Dinobulan won't be driven mad.' So my solution is let's put everyone in a comatose state, and I'll run the ship by myself. And I do that."
   Billingsley added that viewers will see a new side to the doctor. "I have to run the whole ship," he said. "And I walk around naked—sweeps week, baby!—and it turns out I was a little optimistic, and this weird section of space is actually kind of driving me mad, too.  So now I'm mad, all by myself, on the ship.  Mad, naked and all by myself on the ship."
   A UPN spokesman said that Billingsley ended up shooting the episode in his birthday suit in part because producers called his bluff.  For his part, Billingsley said that he had ideas for his character's alien anatomy. 
   "In the nude scene, I was hoping ... you know, it would be like, I walk in the room, and a flower pot gets knocked over all the way [on the other side]. ... They didn't go for that, darn it [laughs]."

CENTURY EYES NEAR FUTURE 
   "The core idea here is to use the future as a way to comment on things that are happening right now and things that are just ... around the corner," Attanasio (Homicide: Life on the Streets) said. 
   Paul Attanasio, executive producer of CBS' upcoming SF drama series CENTURY CITY, said that the futuristic legal show will use science-fiction storylines to deal with current-day issues.  CENTURY CITY, about a law firm in 2030 Los Angeles, will air for six weeks on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT, starting March 16.
   The show extrapolates current technologies and issues to create stories about cloning, about whether a man with a bionic eye will be allowed to play baseball, whether parents can sue over their genetically engineered offspring's inadvertent homosexuality or whether a father has the right to erase his son's memories of an abusive mother, among other things.
   "It take some getting used to.  We are the future.  It is fun like that.  The future we're trying to portray is the preferred future, the future where problems have been solved, but the solutions will often bring new problems in terms of us as a society, so we are looking at our lives and saying, 'Who do we want to be?  How do we want to use the knowledge we have?  What does it mean to live in 2030?'" Attanasio said. "And those are questions that are answered by society through the law.  So that's where we end up with a law show and a science fiction show.”

GLOVER AND REEVE TOGETHER AGAIN 
   SMALLVILLE star John Glover (Lionel Luthor) said his scene with guest star Christopher Reeve, who reprises the role of Dr. Swann in the April 14 episode, isn't the first time the two actors have shared a stage. 
   "I worked with Chris in 1979 at the Williamstown theater festival," Glover said in an interview. "We were in a production of The Cherry Orchard, and Blythe Danner and Chris and I were a love triangle."
   Glover was scheduled to shoot his scenes with Reeve in New York this week.  "I've not seen him since his accident," which left the original Superman star paralyzed, Glover said. "But what he's doing publicly for his organization [The Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Resource Center] and for people who are paralyzed, just for their spirits and things, is amazing.  And the advances with science that he'll be responsible for, he's an amazing man."
   Glover added that he's looking forward to having Lionel spar with Dr. Swann. "What's so exciting, too, is the fact that always before you've seen Lionel with people that he's five steps ahead of," Glover said. "And now you'll see him with somebody who has more knowledge, more power. So it'll be interesting to see Lionel in a relationship with somebody like that."

TREK MOVES TIME TO HELP SPACE
   Star Trek: ENTERPRISE will move out of direct audience competition with the WB's SMALLVILLE, shifting to the 9 p.m. Wednesday hour to take over the slot vacated when JAKE 2.0 was cancelled earlier this year.
   It will also compete with the WB's ANGEL, which usually brings in lower ratings than SMALLVILLE does in the hour before, and with Fox's moderately successful evening soap THE OC.  There has been some rumors that this is just a temporary move.  We will see.

FURST HELMS DRAGON STORM 
   "I just think it's a purely fun movie," Actor/director Stephen Furst said "It's great escapism.  I can't even tell you how much fun I had doing this film.”  He added that he's proud of DRAGON STORM, an upcoming SCI FI Pictures movie.  “The Bulgarian crew turned out to be just wonderful.  In Bulgaria, they'll say, 'We'll go 15 hours, no problem. We'll catch ourselves on fire another four times, no problem.'"
   DRAGON STORM is set in medieval times, with two enemy kingdoms reluctantly joining forces in order to defeat fire-breathing alien dragons.  Furst, the former BABYLON 5 star, directed a cast that included John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings), Maxwell Caulfield (Oblivion 2), Angel Boris (SCI FI's Epoch: Evolution) and Tony Amendola (Stargate SG-1).
   "I'd give John a joke, and he'd expound on it, and then Tony would get in on it," Furst said. "I think you're going to see a tremendous chemistry between John and Tony." DRAGON STORM will premiere Jan. 24 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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February 13-15: Farpoint is a Baltimore-based, Science Fiction Media Convention, held each February at Marriott's Hunt Valley Inn.nbsp We're a Fan-Run, Fan-Friendly Con, with a lot more to offer than your basic Autographs-And-A-Dealers-Room " 

February 13-14: Katsucon is an annual festival of Japanese animation. For our tenth anniversary year, we will return to the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City, where we will bring you the latest anime straight from Japan, plus great guests, panels, dealers, cosplay, gaming and much, much more!

February 27-29: Three Days of 3-D, 3-D Film Expo
THE LAFAYETTE THEATRE SUFFERN, NY
http://www.bigscreenclassics.com/3days3dfilms.htm

March 12-14: Secaucus, NJ Super Mega Show - Sci fi toy, comics, collectibles and more.
http://www.supermegashow.com/

April of 2004: Johns Hopkins Film Festival 2004.
For information about submitting films, check out the submissions page.
Please note that the submission address and JHFF phone number have changed since last year. The fest will be held during.
Exact dates will be posted as April approaches. 
Prices : $3 – Show   $5 - Day Pass   $15 - Festival Pass
*Free admission for JHU students, faculty, and employees with valid Hopkins ID..

May 28-31 2004: BALTICON 38 At the Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel.
Maryland's Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention
Guest of Honor: Lois McMaster Bujold
Artist Guest of Honor: Dave Seeley
Music Guest of Honor: Heather Alexander

June 4-6: Moonlight Rising 2004: A Con for all you Buffy Fans
Split Rock Resort, Lake Harmony, PA
Guests: James Marsters ("Spike"), Anthony Stewart Head ("Giles"), Andy Hallett ("Lorne"), Danny Strong ("Jonathan"), Tom Lenk ("Andrew"), Adam Busch ("Warren")

July 9-11: Shore Leave 26, Hunt Valley, MD

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WARNER BRINGS OUT THE DEAD
   Warner Brothers has purchased feature-film rights to Kevin Brockmeier's story "The Brief History of the Dead," which Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn will adapt.  Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) is attached to produce with an eye to direct.
   "The Brief History of the Dead" ran in the Sept. 8 issue of the New Yorker magazine. The short story is about a blind man who arrives in a new city, telling a story of having traveled across a desert after his death.  The other city-dwellers have their own elaborate and remarkable tales of crossing into this strange world, from which inhabitants depart as mysteriously as they entered.

OUR VERY OWN NORMAN
   ICS’er Norman Prentiss can be found right here on the Internet!  He has a poem featured on Writeronline and published in full web glory.  Here is a direct link to the poem - 
http://www.writeronline.us/poetry/prentiss-1-26-04.htm
   Take a peek and be proud you can say you knew him when…..

MANGA NEWS  MANGA NEWS  MANGA NEWS MANGA NEWS MANGA NEWS
by Taylor Sherbloom-Woodward

“Fruits Basket” volume 1, published by Tokyopop. Release date 02/10/04, SRP 9.99
   The most anticipated and drooled-over release for this month, if not for the entire year. 
   Tohru Honda, an orphan, had been living with her grandfather and his family, but due o unfortunate circumstances, she is now stuck living in a tent in the woods. She doesn’t realize that those woods belong to the powerful and mysterious Sohma family until it’s too late. But much to her surprise, instead of kicking her out, the current resident of the estate, Sohma Shigure  takes her in, letting Tohru do chores in exchange for lodging. It’s then that she stumbles upon their dark family secret.  Certain members of the family carry the family curse: when hugged by a member of the opposite gender, they turn into an animal from the Chinese zodiac.
   Once the cat is out of the bag, many of the Sohmas find themselves relieved to have someone know their secret, especially someone as sweet and caring as Tohru. But what does Akito, the dangerous man who is the head of the household think of all this? And can one kind girl really help to heal the lifetime of pain the Sohma family members have endured?
   “Fruits Basket”, originally published in Hana to Yume, is one Japan’s most popular shoujo manga series, and it was turned into a fan-favorite anime directed by Akitaroh Daichi. The characters are amusing and sympathetic, from the uber-feminine Yuki, possessed by the mouse, to the perpetually angry Kyo, the only member who is possessed by an animal not part of the zodiac, the cat. It’s a sweet story not just about learning to love others unconditionally, but also perhaps accepting the idea that someone who is cursed is worthy of being loved.
   Those who want to read “Fruits Basket” in English, but are unsure about dealing with Tokyopop’s sometimes less than stellar printing quality, have an alternative.  Hakusensha, the original publisher, has recently announced a bilingual release of the manga.  Bilingual mangas are created for the benefit of Japanese students trying to learn English.  The manga has English dialogue in place of the original Japanese, with the original text off to the side, in case the student gets stuck. 

“Getbackers” volume 1, Release date 02/10/04, SRP 9.99
   Ginji Amano can generate electric currents with his body, Ban Mido has the power to create illusions in peoples minds. Together the two of them are “the Getbackers” a duo who can help people retrieve lost or stolen items.
   Also turned into an anime in 2002,  “Getbackers” is one of Tokyopop’s bigger titles for this year. This is a shounen manga, though there a plenty of girls who like the characters of Ban and Ginji. However, some people who have gotten a look at advance copies of Tokyopop’s release are not too wild about the “trippy” dialogue used.

“Les Bijoux” volume 1, Release date 02/10/04, SRP 9.99
   In a world with a rigid class structure, where the Habits rule and the Spars exist to serve, a cursed child is born to a dwarf and a hunchback, a young hero who is prophesized to overthrow the rule of the tyrants.
   You would think a child with a lineage like that would be ugly, but instead our hero is the lovely and androgynous Lapis. Lapis is still cursed of course, apparently he fell into the “spring of drowned girl” (okay, I’m sorry, bad RANMA ½  joke) and occasionally he turns into a female named Lazuli. When Lapis’ parents are killed by a beautiful but cold habit named Diamond, (the same habit that is obsessed with making Lazuli his own) Lapis finds himself bent on revenge. But is there a higher purpose at work?
   The story seems a bit muddled at first, but the art is absolutely beautiful, filled with intricate detail and many lovely bishounen. The art style is draws comparison to a manga “Alichino” by Shurei Kouyu that’s (unfortunately) not available in English, and almost  a touch of Kaori Yuki’s designs (“Angel Sanctuary”, coming in Spring from Viz)

 “Kill me Kiss me” volume 1, published by Tokyopop. Release date 02/03/04, SRP 9.99
   Another Korean title, but in the grand manga tradition of cross-dressing and gender reversal. Tae Yeon Im switches places with her near identical male cousin, Jung-Woo in order to be closer to her crush. It’s just for a week, Tae Yeon will go to school in Jung-Woo’s place and vice-versa. But of course things are never that easy, Jung-Woo learns that wearing a skirt isn’t as fun as it looks especially when confronted by a violent girl-gang, and Tae Yeon discovers that her cousin is being bullied.

“AI Love You”, volume 1, published by Tokyopop. Release date 02/03/04, SRP 9.99
   From the author of "Love Hina", comes a touching fan-service filled story about a boy who’s A.I. Program comes to life in order to be his girlfriend. It’s “Pinnochio” meets “Video Girl Ai”. Note that the title is a pun, “AI” can mean artificial intelligence, but it also means “love” in Japanese.

If any ICS members would like to share their view on a recent book that they’ve read – fiction or non-fiction, please email it  attn betsy at ICSBETSPOTS@aol.com.

We are a cinema club, but many movies we watch were started in book form with our own imaginations creating the images that come to life in the films we love.
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TALKING ABOUT SPIDEY 2 
   J.K. Simmons, who reprises the role of J. Jonah Jameson in the upcoming sequel film SPIDER-MAN 2, said that he gets a bit more to do in the second movie based on Marvel Comics' most famous superhero.  "A little more than the first one, I think," Simmons said in an interview. "At least we shot a little more. ... More fun wacky stuff in the office, and I actually even get to step out of the office a couple of times in this one. ... And there's at least one very fun twist involving my character."
   As in the first SPIDEY movie, Simmons plays the irritable flat-topped editor of the Daily Bugle and the only man in New York who thinks Spider-Man is a menace to society.  "I yell, scream, belittle people," Simmons said. "Be generally curmudgeonly and unpleasant, although, as always, with a heart of gold, really, underneath it all.  There's a lot of very funny stuff like we did with the first one.  We had a good script to start with, but we also came up with a lot of it on our own, [director] Sam [Raimi] and [star] Tobey [Maguire] and I and the rest of the cast."
   But Simmons remained coy about the sequel's top-secret story, which takes place a few years after the events of the first movie and introduces a new villain, Doctor Octopus, played by Alfred Molina.  "He's the new bad guy, and he's great," Simmons said. "And Peter Parker's love life gets a little complicated." 

EPISODE III HITS MILESTONE 
   Director George Lucas turned over the first major action sequence of the upcoming prequel film STAR WARS: EPISODE III to the visual-effects crew at Industrial Light & Magic on Jan. 8.  The film will open with a thrilling space battle that pits the forces of the Republic against the battleships of the Separatists.
   ILM has already completed around 23-25 shots, made up of small scenes of short duration, but the turnover of the space battle is significant, the site added. Lucas has edited the scene together with placeholder visual effects, or animatics, forming a sophisticated starting point for the finished shots to be delivered by ILM.
   "Very soon now, you'll have the first two reels," Lucas told visual effects supervisor John Knoll. "There are two more scenes to cut." EPISODE III will contain an estimated 2,000 visual-effects shots, and producer Rick McCallum has set a goal of at least 160 visual-effects shots to be completed by May.  EPISODE III is slated for a 2005 release

THE BOX – A NEW HORROR
   Camelot Pictures will finance and produce the supernatural horror movie THE BOX, to be directed by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever).  Roth and Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) adapted the screenplay from the Richard Matheson short story "Button, Button," which also served as the basis of a 1986 episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE that aired on CBS.
   THE BOX tells the story of an unhappy married couple who receive a small wooden box on their doorstep.  At the push of a button, the box brings its bearer instant wealth—and instantly kills someone the bearer doesn't know. 
   (do not bring this kind of gift to the next ICS yankee swap please)

MORPHING IN BUTTERFLY 
   “It was like the same girl, but obviously four different realities." Says Amy Smart, who co-stars in the film THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, she adds that her character goes through four different permutations, each with a distinct look and personality. 
   "I definitely approached her with the intent of her being the same person at the core, but of four different realities that happened to her," she while promoting the film.  "So I did a lot of work with my acting coach and research.  And I didn't approach it as if I'm doing four different movies, by any means, because that's not what was going on.  “She was the same, but different.”
   The film centers on a young psychology student (Ashton Kutcher) who discovers he can go back in time and change history in an effort to save his childhood sweetheart, played by Smart.  Kutcher's character soon discovers, however, that every time he changes one event in the past, the present changes drastically as a result.
   In one of the various realities, Smart's character becomes a heroin-addicted prostitute. For that version of the character, the actress said she underwent an extensive physical transformation.  "We had gone, actually, to this little spot in Vancouver [where the movie was filmed] that's just packed full of different junkies and prostitutes, a lot of people on heroin," Smart said. "You could just see the way their skin was and the way their hair was and the way their body language was.  So during the makeup test it took about 2 1/2 hours because of the detail, the splotchiness and then the nasty, ratty wig that I had.  But for me, I was so excited to go there, that I was, like, the more the merrier.  I really wanted to just go for it and make me look as gross or crazy as possible."

IS CAMERON RETURNING TO 3 –D SF? 
   Director James Cameron said he would end a self-imposed six-year hiatus from studio moviemaking by preparing a new SF film he hopes to shoot for 20th Century Fox later this year with high-definition 3-D video cameras.  Cameron announced his plans Jan. 20 at an appearance at the ArcLight Hollywood theater after a screening of TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY.
   "When I see a movie like the LOTR films and I see what's possible with digital effects now, I can't resist," Cameron said. "I've got to come and play, because there are some really cool images that I was never able to do before that I want to do now."
   Cameron said the movie will be shot using the Reality Camera System, the patented 3-D camera rig he used for GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS, his Imax documentary about the Titanic.

TAKE NOT THE YODA STATUE, YES?
   It was reported that a thief stole a 170-pound bronze statue of STAR WARS' Jedi master Yoda from the back of a truck in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 17.  Four of the 36 Lucasfilm-commissioned statues were bolted down to a flatbed truck for transport to Los Angeles to be sold.  The truck's drivers, who had stopped at a Westway Inn, found the statue missing the next morning.
   Lawrence Noble, the artist who created the mold for the statues, valued the limited-edition piece at $15,000 to $20,000.  A reward of $1,000 is being offered for information leading to its recovery. 

EPISODE III ENDS IT ALL 
   Ian McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan Kenobi in the upcoming last prequel film STAR WARS: EPISODE III, said that the movie ties things up. 
   "I hope, I think, I see, that what it does nicely is it ties up all the ends, all the loose ends, and it meets EPISODE IV, with Alec Guinness and the crew, very nicely," McGregor said.
   McGregor reprises his role, which was originated by Guinness in the original STAR WARS movie, in the third prequel in George Lucas' epic saga.  This one sees the final transition of Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) into Darth Vader.
   "I don't think there's anything left unsolved, and there's a huge but enormous fight at the end of it," McGregor added.  "Enormous.  I've never been more exhausted in my life.  We spent weeks and weeks shooting this fight!"  EPISODE III, which is now in post-production, is slated to debut in 2005.

INDY IV ON IT WAY! 
   Hank Darabont said that he has completed the screenplay for the long-awaited INDIANA JONES 4, which may shoot this year with Harrison Ford starring, Steven Spielberg directing and George Lucas executive producing.  Paramount is hoping to distribute the film in 2005.
   "I've finished my work, so now it's in the hands of God, or Spielberg and Lucas, if you prefer," Darabont said.
   Writer-director Darabont, whose Darkwoods Productions just signed a three-year first-look production deal at Paramount Pictures, is also developing the action-adventure film DOC SAVAGE: THE MAN OF BRONZE, based on the 1930s pulp novel series.

CAT SCRATCH FEVER? 
   CATWOMAN star Halle Berry was taken to a Vancouver, B.C., hospital on Jan. 24 after being involved in a minor accident on the movie's set.
   She was treated and released for an undisclosed injury and resumed work on the movie on Jan. 26, as scheduled.  A Warner spokesman said that Berry was "slightly bumped" and "roughed up a little," but was otherwise fine.
   The statement came in the wake of reports in the Vancouver Province newspaper and the Hollywood North Report that Berry had been taken to Vancouver's St. Paul's Hospital after she was struck in the head by a lighting prop.  The Oscar-winning star reportedly fell to the ground and remained prone while being administered oxygen by first-aid attendants, then got up and walked off the set at the Centre for the Performing Arts, where CATWOMAN was filming.
   Berry was driven to St. Paul's Hospital at about 8 p.m. and remained there for tests until about 3 a.m. before being returned to her downtown hotel.
   Berry has a history of on-set injuries. She broke her arm on the set of GOTHIKA last year when co-star Robert Downey Jr. wrestled her onto a bed.  Earlier, while shooting DIE ANOTHER DAY Day, she suffered a minor eye injury when an explosion blew material into her eye.

STARS BONE UP FOR POTTER IV 
   "Yeah, we're all on board for the fourth one," Emma Watson (Hermione) said.  The stars of the HARRY POTTER films said that they are committed to reprising their characters in the upcoming fourth film, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE.  It is to be directed by Mike Newell, and is now in preproduction.
   Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) added, "Definitely. After that, we haven't finished the third yet HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF THE AZKABAN, which is in post-production, so we're kind of like, one step at a time."  Rupert Grint (Ron) is also on board and actor Coltrane (Hagrid)
"I'll certainly do four," Coltrane said. "I'm contracted through four. ... Beyond that, I don't know.  Never say never again, as they say."
   Coltrane added that he has had conversations with POTTER author J.K. Rowling about Hagrid.  "I know all sorts of things about his past that haven't been discussed so far, which will be important," Coltrane said.  "I mean, that's all Jo told me.  I said, 'Well you can tell me everything about his past, which is important, even if it's not expressed to everyone but me.  Even if it's irrelevant to everyone but me, because I think it is relevant if you're going to be a character.'  She was good at keeping it all a secret. 
HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF THE AZKABAN, based on the third of J.K. Rowling's best-selling novels, is due in theaters June 4.

KING CONQUERS GLOBES 
   In a sweep that prefigures its chances at the Oscars, THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING on Jan. 25 won all four Golden Globe awards for which it was nominated, including best film drama.  Director Peter Jackson also won the award for best director in ceremonies broadcast from Beverly Hills, Calif.
   Rings also earned Golden Globe awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for best original film score (by Howard Shore) and for favorite song ("Into the West," as performed by Annie Lennox).
   Jackson and LOTR gained the driver's seat in what had been a wide-open Oscar race, because winners here often go on to claim Oscars and because RINGS and Jackson have figured prominently in early critical and industry honors.  But lets see what John has to say about this…check out The Last Ward this month!
 

"All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you."-Gandalf

"I am Gandalf the White and I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide."-Gandalf

"Your friends are with you, Aragorn."-Legolas

"There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And, it's worth fighting for."-Sam

"I am on nobody's side because nobody is on my side."-Treebeard.

DAVA’S MOVIE DELVINGS
Return to Neverland

   There is almost nothing more refreshing, from a cinematic standpoint, than having an old tale told with a new twist. Remakes are almost never as good as the originals. However, it is always fun to see the story laid out through someone else's view. 
   The 2003 release of PETER PAN served as no exception.  I've always adored the tale of Peter and his gang of misplaced youth.  It was always a treat to watch the lost boys gathering around the old rocker, while the Wendy lady made pockets and told stories. Victorious, was it, when Pan defeated the wicked pirates, casting the infamous Captain Hook to a waiting crocodile. 
   The legendary story will never grow old, gathering n ew followers with every generation.  It was for this reason, that I sneered at the treatment the movie going public gave this latest release. In the weeks that followed its Christmas debut, I'd heard everything from "Why can't they come up with a new idea?" to "Not even Jason Isaacs can save that film."  It was even more disturbing when I came to realize that these comments were justified.
To begin with, I must say that there was nothing wrong with the movie, as far as the plot.  Director P.J. Hogan did a remarkable job of bringing new life to the beloved classic. Everything that one would expect to see in a Peter Pan remake was present on the big screen. 
   Peter lost his shadow in the Darling's nursery, and Wendy sewed it back on.  The lost boys made a house for their "mother" as she napped on the forest floor.  Tinkerbell bravely swallowed the draft of her sidekick's medicine, which had been dreadfully poisoned by the scurvy buccaneers.  Yet, the movie failed, without question, in other aspects of the term. In the first place, the trailers were very misleading. 
   For months before the film's opening, I had heard rumors of the seemingly darker version.  It was to be told through the eyes of Wendy, who had grown beyond her youth, and was recalling her days of fantasy among the stars.  This would, no doubt, give the movie an entirely different perspective.  The mermaids of the Neverland lagoon were frightening, almost vampire like.  And, the role of Peter would be given to fourteen year old Jeremy Sumpter.  I found that news particularly intriguing, as a woman has traditionally always played Pan. 
   It would remain faithful to the original story, of course.  Yet, there were several elements that gave off the impression this was a Pan reserved for adult audiences.  Sadly, this was not the case.  In truth, the film was rather childlike.  It did have some redeeming qualities.  But, when all is said and done, I think I probably would've enjoyed myself more had I'd been 10 years younger.
   In addition to this, I've also been hearing several complaints from friends and family, concerning the performance of Jeremy Sumpter.  It has been noted among them that Sumpter's Pan was "stiff" and lacking emotion.  While I respect the views of my peers, I found Jeremy handled himself perfectly.  Truthfully, whatever feeling Sumpter was lacking was infinitely compensated for by Rachel Hurd-Wood's portrayal of Wendy. 
   If Jeremy appeared to be stiff, it was because Rachel was so overbearing that the scales needed to be balanced.  Her Wendy was so annoying that I began to wish the lost boys had successfully killed her when releasing their arrows.  Indeed, the next person to criticize Pan would do well to consider the source.  If I had to spend that much time with a sniveling, whining, boy crazy, brat, I'd most likely be stiff as well.
   Wendy wasn't the only one in Peter's company to get under my skin, however.  There was also the matter of the sneaky, yet loveable, pixie known as Tink.  Yet, unlike Wendy, my problems with her laid not in the acting, but the matter in which she looked.  Ludivine Sagnier fit the mold of a fairy quite well.  But, the special effects team covered her with such a colorful array of light and magic dust, that one had to wear sunglasses to look upon her. 
   Tinkerbell is supposed to give off a glow.  Yet, Ludivine looked like a cartoon character. This was not Disney Animation, this was a live action remake and the characters are supposed to be realistic and believable.  Julia Roberts was able to do this flawlessly, when she had the role in 1991's Peter Pan sequel "Hook".  She kept her human traits about her, while still living up to her pixie obligations.  I will not lunch into a ranting comparison of Peter Pan vs. Hook.  But, Roberts was a shining example of what Tinkerbell should be. It was a shame, indeed, that Ludivine Sagnier could not give off such an elegant grace.
   It is certainly not my intent to discourage anyone from seeing this film.  Perhaps I am too critical.  Or maybe my affection for the tale is too great.  It is possible that my imagination got the best of me, building up my hopes so high that anything I would've seen in the movies would've proved disappointing.  The young and young at heart should find it a magical journey. 
   Yet, having grown up a long time ago, I guess I am too old to return to Neverland.

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NO NEWS THIS ISSUE
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February 6th    THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA     rating: PG 
Coloring: Black & White  Watch the Trailer: Apple.com   Sound: Mono (yes, really) 
Cast: Larry Blamire (Dr. Paul Armstrong), Fay Masterson (Betty Armstrong), Brian Howe (Dr. Roger Fleming), Jennifer Blaire (Animala), Andrew Parks (Kro-Bar), Susan McConnell (Lattis), Dan Conroy (Ranger Brad), Darren Reed (The Mutant)
Premise: As an homage to the ultra-low-budget, drive-in-friendly, science fiction movies of the 1950s and early 1960s (think the sort of movies spoofed on MST3K), this is the unlikely story of a meteor shower that deposits an ore called "atmosphereum" in the hills outside Los Angeles in 1961. 
   It is attracting the scientific interest of a heroic scientist who hopes to use the scientific value of the ore for his science project (redundancy intended), and whose wife joins him on the expedition. What he soon finds out is that a pair of aliens (from the planet Marva in outer space!) that need the atmosphereum as fuel for their spaceship. 
   Also in the area is an evil scientist exploring the mysterious Cadavra Cave.  Which reportedly is home to the legendary Lost Skeleton.  He discovers he also needs the atmosphereum to revive the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra; and along the way, he uses the Marvan's transmutatron ray to meld four local animals into a beautiful mate for himself... 

February 13th    ROBOT STORIES
Premise: This movie is an anthology of four short films all having to do with interactions between humans and robots (in a world where robots are far more advanced than they currently are). In 'My Robot Baby,' a couple is forced to care for a robot baby before they are allowed to adopt a human child. In 'The Robot Fixer,' a mother tries to get to know her dying son better by finishing his toy robot collection. In 'Machine Love,' an office android worker falls in love. And in 'Clay,' an elderly sculptor must make a difficult decision about whether to continue his life on past its natural expiration date. 

March 5th       HILDAGO   Rated pg 13
Cast: Viggo Mortensen (Frank T. Hopkins), Malcolm McDowell, Omar Sharif (The Shiek), Zuleikha Robinson (Jazira), 
Premise: Set in 1890, this is the story of a Pony Express courier (Mortensen) who travels to Saudi Arabia to compete with his horse, Hidalgo, in a dangerous race for a massive contest prize, in an adventure that sends the pair around the world..

March 12th      SECRET GARDEN     Rated R
Cast: Johnny Depp (Mort Rainey), John Turturro (John Shooter), Maria Bello (Amy Dowd Rainey), Charles S. Dutton, Timothy Hutton, Len Cariou 
Premise: Mort Rainey (Depp), a writer just coming off of a troublesome divorce with his ex-wife, Amy (Bello), finds himself stalked at his remote lake house by a psychotic stranger (Turturro) who claims Mort stole his best story idea 

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SOUNDS LIKE AN ICS DVD FOR SURE!! 
   Making a return engagement in 2004 is Universal Studios Home Video's highly-acclaimed Classic Monsters Collections, which will be reissued in new special repackaged versions. 
   These multi-flick packs will drop many of the extras found on the previous versions, but will include multiple titles and offer plenty of bang for the buck regardless. First up on April 27th will be the two-disc FRANKENSTEIN: The Legacy Collection, featuring the original Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Ghost of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein. Each is presented in their original 4:3 full screen aspect ratios and Dolby mono, and no major extras.   Retail will be $26.95. 

DO THE REVOLUTION
   Neo, Trinity and Morpheus are back in the third and final installment in THE MATRIX, REVOLUTIONS.  Warner Home Video will debut this box office underachiever on April 6th in a two-disc set brimming with extras. 
   Presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround tracks, bonus materials include the documentaries.  "Revolutions Recalibrated" and "CG Revolution," the featurettes "Super Burly Brawl" and "Before the Revolution" 3-D matrix timeline, the "3-D Evolution" multidimensional still gallery, the theatrical trailer.  Retail is $29.95. 

BLOODY GOOD SHOW 
   Quentin Tarantino's latest ode to B-movie exploitation, the bloody KILL BILL VOL. 1 will street on April 13th, just in time for the theatrical premiere of the second installment of this cinematic two-parter. 
   Buena Vista Home Entertainment will present the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, plus the "Behind the Scenes with Quentin Tarantino" documentary and trailers.  Retail is $29.95.

COMIC BOOK THE MOVIE – ON DVD
   It is interesting to see the lengths fans reach to express their passions - spending great sums on collecting, creating costumes and makeup, committing vast stores of trivia to memory - and there have been several movies out there that are dedicated to fandom. Good documentaries like STARWOIDS and TREKKIES, and mockumentaries like SIX DAYS IN ROSWELL don't ridicule their subjects; the filmmakers entertain and amuse without demeaning the fans.  Filmmakers' affection and respect help them avoid any scorn.  In a similar vein and with a delightful touch of self-parody, director Mark Hamill has tapped into the lives and concerns of comic book fans as he brings to the screen COMIC BOOK: THE MOVIE.
   Hamill is, of course, best known as Anakin's kid, Luke. And those who enjoy the animation format are aware of his extensive voice work, most notably as the Joker in the animated Batman series. But until this watched this mockumentary, it was not known to many that he harbors a lifelong passion for the comic book form.  In addition to being a serious collector and amassing quite a bit of knowledge, he's authored a number of them, most prominently "The Black Pearl" for Dark Horse Comics.  Having experienced both the comic book industry and the film industry first hand, Hamill is uniquely qualified to cast a cynical eye on the process of transforming a superhero from the four-color page to the big screen. 
   Hamill's alter ego, the bearded Donald Swan, is a high school teacher who writes and self-publishes a periodical for comic book fans.  His scholarship and enthusiasm are recognized by a Hollywood Studio intent on adapting one of Swan's favorite superheroes, Commander Courage, for film.  Swan is flown to the West Coast and is hired as a technical consultant on the film.  Alas, he's really being hired as a shill, a symbolic figure intended to create acceptance among his fellow fans as the studio reinvents the character.  He's invited to join them to be taped at the San Diego Comic-Con where a publicity event announcing the film has been planned by the studio.
   Swan's enthusiasm is boundless. Since his road trip is being videotaped for posterity, he takes advantage of that opportunity to interview a surprising mix of film and publishing types - from Hugh Hefner, to Matt Groening, to Kevin Smith, to Bill Campbell, just to name a scant few.  He's promoting the concept of staying true to the original character. In fact, that becomes his crusade.  As studio intent and complicity becomes clear, Swan finds himself at war, challenged with winning the hearts and minds of the fans.
   Hamill has tapped into the vast unseen world of voice actors to assemble his cast. Among them are Jess Harnell is Ricky the cameraman, Daran Norris as the actor hired by Swan to appear as the original Commander Courage, and Billy West as the grandson of Commander Courage's creator.  One of the pleasures of this DVD is seeing those people perform in front of the camera and later discover in the supplements which animated characters they've portrayed.  Cameos abound; Stan Lee, Chase Masterson, Paul Dini, Ray Harryhausen, Sid Ceasar, Jonathan Winters... there are so many that a supplement is dedicated to identifying them.
   The film is laugh-out-loud funny, not at the expense of fans, but thanks to the quirky characters and the outrageous situations.  Hamill is particularly self-deprecating, highlighted in a droll scene involving David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, and Jeremy Bulloch.
   There is a distinct impression that much of this mockumentary was ad-libbed.  Oh, there was a general structure, but much of the dialog had to be the creation of the talented and witty players.  Hundreds of hours were taped, so as you'd expect, not all the improvisation worked (the supplementary outtakes prove my point).  But Hamill has managed to edit together a coherent story laced with wry humor that can be truly enjoyed. 
Available Jan 27 

ANIME DVD
by Taylor Sherbloom-Woodward

MEMORIES, released by Columbia/tri-star entertainment, 02/24/04. SRP 24.96
   Also known as KATSUHIRO OTOMO PRESENTS “MEMORIES”, this is a set of three short films that fans figured would never have a state-side release due to the high-licensing cost. If you’re not a hard-core anime person, but you want to check out some anime this month, this is probably the release to pick up.
   MEMORIES has an impressive staff, Katsuhiro Otomo leading the way (director and Creator of AKIRA) and talents like  Yoshiaki Kawajiri (NINJA SCROLL), Koji Morimoto (director of the Animatrix short BEYOND) and Satoshi Kon (PEFECT BLUE, TOKYO GODFATHERS) all contributing.
   The film MAGNETIC ROSE is considered the best of the three films, the story of a salvage spaceship crew who encounters a haunted ship with music composed by the talented Kanno Yoko. STINK BOMB has a more humorous approach to story-telling; an ordinary man accidentally takes some pills that turn out to be some anti-warfare technology, as opposed to the flu medication he was looking for, and CANNON FODDER  takes place in an industrial town- except the town is in the industry of destruction.
   No English dub, just Japanese dialogue with optional English, Spanish and Portugese subtitles.

KIDDY GRADE, volume 1/8. Released by Funimation, 02/10/04. SRP 24.98
Limited edition version (with box and baseball cap) SRP 34.98
   In the future, humans civilization has expanded across space and colonized other worlds.  In order to maintain peace among the settlements, the Global Union was formed, and the Galactic Organization of Trade and Tariffs was created to mediate economic disputes. But the universe is full of criminals and the job of rounding them up falls to G.O.T.T.’s law enforcement division, the E.S. Force. The E.S. Force is divided into teams, each comprised of two people, usually teenagers, with unique powers. Our heroines are Éclair, a teenager with super-human strength, and Lumiere, the eleven year old technological genius.
   Keiji Gotoh, best known for doing the character designs for MARTIAN SUCCESSOR NADESICO, takes on directing in this action and fan-service filled sci-fi story.
   The series is, sadly, going to be released on a total of 8 discs, however Funimation picked up some great extras from the original Japanese release, most notably the original commercials and promotional videos that aired in Japan.

YUKIKAZE, volume 1/2. Released by Bandai,  02/17/04. SRP 29.98
Special edition version (two-disc set) SRP 39.98
   30 years ago, aliens attempted to invade the earth through an inter-dimensional portal opened in Antarctica. The military forces of the Earth united and sent in the most elite pilots and weaponry they had in order to combat this threat and eventually drove the aliens back to their own turf. The war still rages as the Special Air Force attempts to fight the 
aliens in their own world in order to prevent any attacks from happening again. But after thirty years, the world doesn’t seem to care any more and the pilots sent out to fights are no longer the best and brightest, but sometimes maladjusted and depressed. Rei Fukai is one of these pilots, a man who remains silent most of the time and yet maintains a dialogue with his air craft, the Yukikaze, as if it were a sentient being. When the possibility of unmanned A.I. crafts taking over the operation, Fukai finds himself despairing at the prospect of losing the only thing that matters in his life.
   With an entirely adult cast and a dark despondent mood to the show,  SENTOU YOUSEI YUKIKAZE is one of the most anticipated releases of the year. It is also (at the moment) the most expensive OAV ever made. This series is part of Bandai’s Platinum line  and contain many extras that help to provide background into the story. The special edition version has an extra disc that features DTS surround sound and a bonus flight patch.

KINO’S JOURNEY, volume 1/4. Released by ADV Films, 02/24/04. SRP 29.98
Also version with box, SRP 39.98.
   Kino is a traveler, roaming the world on Hermes, a talking motorcycle and staying in towns for only three days, observing the people and their culture. Kino and Hermes observe the world around them, watching events unfold, but choosing not to participate.
   KINO’S JOURNEY is either acclaimed for it’s deep thought-provoking episodic stories or criticized for its pseudo-dramatic and pretentious attempts at social commentary. Well, I say “to-may-to”, you say “to-mah-to”. Its only 13 episodes anyway. (Actually there was a fifteen minute “episode 0” teaser in Japan as well, but no word as to whether ADV licensed that as well)

HAPPY LESSON, volume 1. Released by ADV Films, 02/03/04. SRP 29.98
   There is an abundance of harem-type shows in anime, and HAPPY LESSON is here to help ADV Films reach it’s quota in some of them. Except here, our protagonist is not surrounded by lovely young women out to seduce him, but rather to mother him.
 

Other anime DVD releases for February- some of these may have limited edition pack-ins included. The companies do not usually provide these details prior to the release, (which is strange, because they could probably increase their pre-order numbers if they did).  With Bandai releases, it’s hard to say, the pack-ins are never listed on the case of the DVD, but if they do exist, they are usually included with the entire first pressing. Geneon items are more scarce, but usually marked with a sticker on the outside indicating an LE’s presence. But that is no guarantee, as HAIBANE RENMEI volume 2 and most of the VANDREAD DVDs will prove. It’s hit or miss.

02/03/04
HEAT GUY J v4/7, released by Geneon. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98, Limited edition 
item included in some packages, should be some mini-shitajiki.INFINITE RYVIUS v3/6, released by Bandai. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98 limited edition may be included, not marked on case, should be one mini-shitajiki (to complete the set started with the first DVD w/box edition).
INU YASHA v14/? Released by ShoPro Entertainment.  75 minutes, SRP 24.98.
KIKAIDER 4/4, released by Bandai. 75 minutes, SRP
LAST EXILE v2/7, released by Geneon. 100 minutes, set of 3 limited edition postcards included in some packages, should be marked with sticker.CYBORG 009, released by Columbia Entertainment. Two different releases- unedited and uncut version, and the edited version, possibly as two disc set containing both volumes.

02/10/04
INITIAL D volume 4, released by Tokyopop. 150 minutes (actually it’s 75 minutes- the uncut and tricked out versions are added together to create the 150 minute runtime listed on the DVD), SRP 19.98
LEGEND OF THE DRAGON KINGS volume 5/6, released by Central Park Media. 94 
minutes, SRP 19.99
LEGEND OF THE MYSTICAL NINJA v2 125 min 19.98
SPIRIT WARRIOR, released by Central Park Media. 55 minutes, SRP 19.99
TINY SNOW FAIRY SUGAR volume 6/6, released by Geneon. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98
BLACK JACK, volume 1/?. Released by US Manga Corps. 100 minutes, SRP 24.99

02/17/04
ANGELIC LAYER volume 4/6, released by ADV Films. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98
SLAYERS GORGEOUS, released by ADV Films. 60 minutes, SRP 19.98
FULL METAL PANIC volume 7/7, released by ADV Films  75 min
NINJA SCROLL TV volume 2/4, released by Urban Vision. 100 minutes, SRP 24.95
PRETEAR volume 3/4, released by ADV Films. 75 minutes, SRP 29.98
SAIYUKI volume 8/12, released by ADV Films. 100 min, SRP 29.98
WITCH HUNTER ROBIN volume 3/6, released by Bandai. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98. 
Limited edition item may be included (possibly another mini-cel), if so it will not be marked on the case.

02/24/04
CORRECTER YUI volume 4/6, released by  100 min 24.98
HAIBANE RENMEI v4/4 released by Geneon. 75 minutes, SRP 29.98, limited edition mini-shitajiki to be included in some packages, should be marked on case. If not, the increase in weight will be noticeable.
INU YASHA volume 15/? released by ShoPro Entertainment. 75 minutes, SRP  24.98
MAO-CHAN volume 3/6, released by  81 min
SADAMITSU THE DESTOYER v2/4, released by Media Blasters.  75 minutes, SRP 29.98
SAINT SEIYA v4/?, released by ADV Films.  125 minutes, SRP 29.98
SAMURAI DEEPER KYO v5, released by Media Blasters. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98.
STEAM DETECTIVES v4/6 released by ADV Films. 100 minutes, SRP 29.98
JOJO’S BIZARRE ADVENTURE, released by Super Techno Arts. SRP 24.99

INTERNETNEWSINTERNETNEWSINTERNETNEWSINTERNETNEWSINTERNETNEWSINTE
Worried about getting “caught” up in the music downloading controversy???
   The court battles rage on in the between the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and several software companies that make Peer to Peer (P2P) software.  P2P software is the stuff that allows users to download almost any kind of files from other participating users….files like music MP3s. 
   For those of you who have had your head in the sand for the past months, the RIAA had subpoenaed the server logs of ISPs like Verizon online to search for folks who’ve used services like Kazaa and Grokster to download copyrighted music from other online users.   What the RIAA wants for now are the really large scale operators, people who download hundreds and thousands of copyrighted music.  There is now a court order preventing the RIAA from doing this. 
   Now what can you do to protect yourself if you still want to download music?  First of all, be forewarned that this is a huge legal gray area.  The following is information to assist folks who do not like the idea of the RIAA snooping around in your computer.  It is not meant to support the act of illegally downloading copyrighted material.
   But there are ways that are available to limit the chances of getting hassled by the RIAA in the future.   An important resource is The Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org/) which is a watchdog group protecting your rights on the internet.  They also have an interesting article called “How not to get sued by the RIAA for file sharing”. 
   If you really want to protect yourself and still want to “share” files on the internet, there are several options available.  One option is to use a version of Kazaa Lite called “Kazaa Lite K+ +”, which has several features that make your downloading experience better and safer by:
1. Eliminating spyware, adware, pop-ups, & banner ads (previous version had these)
2. Most important: Blocking of RIAA and other organizations (by using a list of 'bad' IP Ranges).
A second option to protect yourself : Block the RIAA
   PeerGuardian is a free program that hides your file sharing from known RIAA informants.  It’s not full proof, but if interested,
CLICK HERE.
   The best bet about file sharing services: if in doubt, do the reaseach and make an informed decision by looking at sites like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://www.eff.org/).

Hollywood loves DVD
   FOR most of the people who run Hollywood, the romance of film is bound up with movie-theatres—the matinee performances they skipped school to see, sitting in the dark on a first date, and stars arriving at premieres. 
   The growing popularity of watching films at home on an array of high-tech equipment, including big-screen TVs and booming sound systems, may seem unglamorous. But thanks to the DVD and its ability to store a feature-length movie at high quality on a small disc, Hollywood now earns more money from home entertainment than from the showing of films in cinemas. In 2003, Americans spent $22.5 billion on DVDs and videocassettes compared with $9.2 billion at the box office, where receipts fell slightly for the first time in a decade.   SEE THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

FAREWELLSFAREWELLSFAREWELLSFAREWELLSFAREWELLSFAREWELLSFAREWELLS
Ann Miller, the dancer famous for her long legs and tap-dancing speed, has died in Los Angeles. She was 81.
Miller danced alongside legends Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire in films in the late 1940s and early '50s, including EASTER PARADE, ON THE TOWN and KISS ME KATE.
Other of her movies included STAGE DOOR, YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU, TIME OUT FOR RHYTHM, THE THRILL OF BRAZIL, THE KISSING BANDIT, LOVELY TO LOOK AT, SMALL TOWN GIRL, DEEP IN MY HEART, HIT THE DECK and THE OPPOSITE SEX.
 

Bernard Punsly, the last surviving member of the Dead End Kids, the on-screen hooligans featured in numerous films in the 1930s and '40s, has died. 
He recreated his Broadway role in the 1937 film DEAD END with Humphrey Bogart and Joel McCrea and went on to do others such as HELL’S KITCHEN, ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES and LITTLE TOUGH GUY. 
He left Hollywood after acting in only 19 movies, became a doctor and practiced for almost 50 years. He was 80 years old.
 

Paula Raymond, leading lady and supporting player who played in films opposite Cary Grant, Robert Taylor, Van Johnson and Dick Powell has died at 79.
She also made dozens of guest appearances on television, including GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER, PERRY MASON, 77 SUNSET STRIP, THE UNTOUCHABLES, HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, MAVERICK and WYATT EARP. 
But Raymond is best remembered for co-starring in THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, the low-budget, 1953 science-fiction classic. "It was the first film I did after leaving MGM, and, compared to the production values of a big studio, it was embarrassing," Raymond once said. "Of course, the movie was later bought by Warners, was a huge hit and has become an important cult film."
 

Uta Hagen, renowned for her signature Broadway turn as Martha, in Edward Albee's classic WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?, has died. She was also known as a legendary teacher, who along with her second husband, Herbert Berghof nurtured dozens of future stars at Manhattan's HB Studio. The school's alumni roster reads like a thespian hall of fame, including Jack Lemmon, Jason Robards, Hal Holbrook, Candice Bergen, Lily Tomlin, Geraldine Page, Stockard Channing, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Matthew Broderick. She was 84. 
 

Ron O'Neal, a stage and film actor who rode the wave of blaxploitation movies by starring as Youngblood Priest, the long-haired, ultra-hip pusher in the 1972 hit SUPERFLY, has died. O'Neal's time in the limelight was short-lived.  SUPERFLY  T.N.T.  the inevitable 1973 sequel that he starred in and directed, fared poorly at the box office. By the late '70s, the blaxploitation genre had faded and so had O'Neal's film career. Among O'NeaI's post-SUPERFLY credits were THE MASTER GUNFIGHTER, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, A FORCE OF ONE, RED DAWN, HYPER SPACE and ORIGINAL GANGSTAS. He was 66.
 

Ray Stark, legendary and influential Hollywood producer, literary and talent agent has died at age 88. He was instrumental in bringing more than 250 motion pictures to the screen over four decades. He produced 8 films for Herbert Ross, 4 for John Houston,
3 for Sidney Pollack and an incredible 11 Neil Simon scripts. Some of his movie titles include THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, FUNNY GIRL, THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT, THE WAY WE WERE, FUNNY LADY, THE SUNSHINE BOYS, MURDER BY DEATH, THE GOODBY GIRL, THE CHEAP DETECTIVE, THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN, ANNIE, BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, BILOXI BLUES and STEEL MAGNOLIAS. At the 1980 Academy Awards Ceremony he was presented with the Irving G. Thalberg Award.
 

Science Fiction author, Jack Cady, has passed away at age 71. The winner of the Nebula, Phillip K. Dick, World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards, Cady published 14 novels and short fiction collections. His best known works included The Haunting of Hood Canal, The Night We Buried Road Dog, The Off Season and Street: A Novel. 
For many years, he also taught creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University near Tacoma, Washington.
 

THE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARDTHE LAST WARD
THE LAST WARD…
by John Ward

 The Academy Awards have always been a particular passion of mine.  I can’t explain all of it, but I’m sure it has something to do with my love for movies, my enjoyment of film history, and other connections to lists, contests, and underdogs.  I know it doesn’t have a thing to do with what anyone’s wearing (or baring), unless you count J Lo in that dress, and come to think of it, wasn’t that the Grammys?
 My earliest Oscar memory was the year John Wayne won his long-overdue Best Actor award for TRUE GRIT.  That was the first time one of the candidates was connected to a movie I had seen and loved, so I was really rooting for the Duke.  I didn’t know much about the other nominees, except that two of them were in a movie that was (breathless pause) …rated X!!!
 The year after that, my Oscar thirst was thoroughly and irretrievably stoked; I was hooked.  I followed the nominations in the magazines and papers, and begged my mother for weeks to let me stay up and watch the whole thing, to which she finally agreed.  Then I got appendicitis and wound up in the pediatrics ward for most of a week.  I ran afoul of this battle-ax nurse who refused to let the TV stay on past 9 P.M.  For God’s sake, didn’t that woman realize how important this was?  I had to suffer until the next morning, when I read in the paper that George C. Scott had turned down his Oscar for PATTON.  What a cheeseball.
 After that, I rarely missed a show.  The year THE GODFATHER won, I was on a bus trip to see Jesus Christ Superstar.  The year ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST won, I was working at the local theater that was showing the movie.  Then there were the college years, when we had annual battles in the dorm TV room over whether to watch the Oscars or the NCAA Finals.  I was eternally grateful when they finally moved the Academy Awards to a Sunday night.
 But I haven’t missed a show since college, a streak of nearly 25 years.  In that time, I have been disgusted (GANDHI?  Are you kidding me?  I slept through it), enraged (FORREST GUMP a better picture than PULP FICTION?  In a pig’s eye), confused (Still haven’t seen THE ENGLISH PATIENT), apoplectic (Don’t even mention who lost to A BEAUTIFUL MIND), and flat-out shocked (Where did SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE come from, anyway?  Curse Harvey Weinstein and his crummy Miramax machine).
 But never…never less than fascinated.
And I stopped trying to defend that annual fascination many years ago.  It just gets in the way of enjoying the show.  Because I don’t care how long and bloated the telecast is.  I don’t care how many times they change the hosts (Billy Crystal is still my favorite, with Johnny Carson a close second.  I was too young to appreciate the merits of Bob Hope.)  I don’t care how tired I am the morning after (One of these years I’m going to remember to take the next day as a personal day.)  I just want to fill out my prediction list, tune in to the show, and watch for the inevitable surprises.  They’ll be there.
In the meantime, I’ve put together a rundown of all the categories, with side comments attached.  You can use these comments for what they’re worth, which ain’t much.  That’s okay.  Elsewhere in this newsletter you’ll find information on our third annual ICS Oscar Pool, and I hope you’ll take the time to enter.  Just don’t read too much into my predictions.
Because I’d love to take your money.  (I’m coming for ya, Sue!  You too, Mitch!!  Bwaaah-ha-ha-haaahhhhh!)
 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
There are several “Bet the Farm” categories this year, and here’s one of them.  I just can’t see THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING losing to MASTER AND COMMANDER or PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.  ROTK was a constant visual delight.  Bet the farm, the livestock, the whole damn mortgage.

 ART DIRECTION
This one’s a bit harder to call, although if ROTK turns this into a bandwagon night, you’ll probably see a win here.  It’ll be an early indication of the way things are blowing.  RETURN OF THE KING wins over THE LAST SAMURAI and MASTER AND COMMANDER.

 ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
You got me.  If critics voted, you’d see AMERICAN SPLENDOR win here, but critics don’t vote.  So toss it up between ROTK and MYSTIC RIVER.  I’ll say ROTK by a nose.

 ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
I think this will be the sop award they throw to Sofia Coppola.  And she’ll be damn happy and suitably humbled to get it.  Give this one to LOST IN TRANSLATION.

 MAKEUP
Aww, come on!  Who are we kidding?  The only reason Salma Hayek’s eyebrows won last year was because THE TWO TOWERS wasn’t nominated.  In the second “Battle of the Colons,” ROTK wins big over MASTER AND COMMANDER and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.  Not even close.

 COSTUME DESIGN
This is one I don’t see ROTK winning.  I think it will come down to THE LAST SAMURAI  and GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING.  Why?  Beats me.  But I bet the flowing Japanese robes and battle armor finery of THE LAST SAMURAI will win.

 ORIGINAL SONG
This has to be one of the weakest fields in this category in years.  Most of us haven’t seen THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE to hear its title song, and the others don’t strike a strong chord.  I’m happy to pick “Into the West” from  ROTK in this category, because I loved the way Annie Lennox’s vocals soared over the closing credits, but I have to admit it would lose in almost any other year.  Nothing really stands out.  ROTK in a walkaway.

 ORIGINAL SCORE
Danny Elfman (BIG FISH) and James Horner (HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG) have a lot of support in their respective circles, but I really believe Howard Shore deserves this award for a monumental piece of music.  ROTK is chockfull of signature themes that meld together to create the most sublime of musical  experiences.  A must-win for ROTK here.

 LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
“You got me” category #2, but for a different reason; I really don’t know anything about the nominees here.  Good luck with this one.  I’ll pick TWO SOLDIERS.

 ANIMATED SHORT FILM
BOUNDIN’  is a Pixar short, but I got burned picking those guys last year, and besides, there’s another category they have a much better shot at winning tonight.  (Just ask the fish.)  No, I’m picking DESTINO here, a collaboration between Salvadore Dali and ol’ Uncle Walt himself that’s been in the vaults for the past 35 years.  I agree with an online commentary I read:  I would love to see Roy Disney get up there and accept this award after leaving Michael Eisner and Disney in a huff.

 ANIMATED FEATURE
Here’s that other Pixar category I was talking about.  There is some support for the intriguing THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, but I think FINDING NEMO should win this one, fins down.

 FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Canada’s THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS has been getting a lot of ink for its writing and its performances, so I’ll pick them.  But I haven’t seen anything in this category I’ve cared about since CROUCHING TIGER.

 DOCUMENTARY SHORT
“You got me” category #3.  Who knows?  Maybe CHERNOBYL HEART?  But I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.  Heck, I wouldn’t bet a nipple off Bessie’s udder.

 DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Two extraordinary documentaries have been nominated here.  Forget the other three nominees; I already have.  It’ll come down to THE FOG OF WAR in a tight race over CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS.

 FILM EDITING
In any other year, I would give it to MASTER AND COMMANDER over the horse racing action of SEABISCUIT.  But this should be a bandwagon win for the ROTK team.
 
 

 CINEMATOGRAPHY
Andrew Lesnie won this award two years ago for FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, and the poor guy gets somehow screwed out of a nomination this year for ROTK.  Tell me, what has changed?  In the absence of Lesnie, I’ll give this one to the sweeping epic MASTER AND COMMANDER.

 SOUND EDITING
Another win for MASTER AND COMMANDER here, over the bubble bath of FINDING NEMO and the clanging swordplay of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.

 SOUND
I think ROTK will win another bandwagon award here, although I would not be unhappy to see MASTER AND COMMANDER win again.

 SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Traditionally, this seems to be the category of the upsets.  Remember Marisa Tomei?  Anna Paquin?  But I really believe Renee Zellweger has the goods this year.  Her role in COLD MOUNTAIN as the down-home, tell-it-like-it-is Ruby stole the movie from Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.  And there’s still a lot of shoulda-won support left over from CHICAGO.  I’ll give a broad “dark horse” shot to Shohreh Aghdashloo from HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, if Zellweger tanks.

 SUPPORTING ACTOR
Well, Sean Astin wasn’t nominated.  I’ve gotten over it.  I think Tim Robbins will ride the coattails of his Golden Globes win to another win here.  His role as Dave in MYSTIC RIVER was an understated, heartbreaking gem.

 ACTRESS
There’s some very strong competition here, stronger than many folks would believe, I think.  Charlize Theron is getting a lot of press for her career-defining role as serial Aileen Wuornos in MONSTER, and some are saying she’ll run away with it.  Not so.  I believe this is the category with the best chance for an upset.  I’ll pick Diane Keaton in her comeback role for SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE.  She still has a lot of friends in the academy, and there is strong sentiment on her side.  Many folks might think Theron still has a long career ahead of her; it’s only her first nomination, after all.

 ACTOR
My personal choice here would be Johnny Depp for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, but I don’t think he has the horses.  It’ll come down to Sean Penn and Bill Murray, and in the end, drama will win out over comedy, as it almost always does.  Sean Penn is overdue, anyway, and he was very good in MYSTIC RIVER.
 

 DIRECTOR
Ahhh, the first of two categories I have been waiting an entire column to discuss.  Fernando Meirelles is just happy to be here.  Peter Weir did an excellent job, and in another year, maybe.  Clint Eastwood has already won, thank goodness; otherwise my stomach would be doing the fandango right now.  Sofia Coppola?  Hmmm.  She has support.  But…not this year.  This year belongs to the Barefoot Kiwi.  This year belongs to the genius behind one of the most stirring film experiences of the past 50 years, and no, I’m not just talking about ROTK.  Unfortunately for Coppola, Eastwood, and Weir, I don’t think many other folks will be, either.  Peter Jackson will win this for FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, and especially for THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING.

 PICTURE
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING.  ‘Nuff said.
 

 If you go by my picks, then ROTK will win in a landslide, with 10 awards.  Double-digit awards are almost unheard of, and I cringe to think this film has the Academy support to reach TITANIC heights.  So there’s probably an upset or two lurking out there somewhere.  Who knows?  One thing: I’m glad they shortened the Oscar campaign season to a measly month, because I don’t think I could take the suspense of waiting an extra four weeks.
 See ya on Feb. 29th.