Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Bright Lights, Big City Redux

April 26, 2009

brightlightsbigcitytadpicConfession time… My all-time favorite book is Bright Lights, Big City written by Jay McInerney. I think I first read it during my first year of college, maybe two years after it was originally published. It’s one of the few books that I’ve read more than once, and I’ve bought multiple copies after loaning it to friends to read. Alright, here’s another confession… I even liked the movie Bright Lights, Big City that starred Michael J. Fox and Kiefer Sutherland. Sure, the movie was flawed — most of the cast and crew involved with the production have admitted as much. The production was troubled, to say the least, and it showed on the big screen. In the end, the film was pretty much considered a bust — but I liked it. My fondness for the film is probably related to my deep love and admiration for the source material, I’ll admit it.

If you’re not familiar with the novel Bright Lights, Big City it was published in 1984 and written in the second person. The main character, who is not given a name in the book — thus essentially making the reader the main character, is a disillusioned writer that spends his days as a fact checker for a New York magazine. At night, he uses alcohol, drugs, and the ’80s party scene to shake off the thoughts of his failed marriage, life back home, and the inability to be the writer he dreamed of becoming.

According to Variety, it now appears that MGM is going to give Bright Lights, Big City another shot at the big screen. This time around, the co-creator of Chuck, Gossip Girl, and creator of The O.C., Josh Schwartz has been tapped to write and make his feature directorial debut with a “fresh take” on McInerney’s novel. My concern is that Schwartz isn’t sure if he’ll set the movie in the original time period of the 1980s or a more contemporary setting.  I’m hoping for the former — the time period is a character all in its self in Bright Lights, Big City. But having created such shows as The O.C. and Gossip Girl, it looks like this next cinematic take on my all-time favorite novel is in capable hands with Josh Schwartz.

Wild Reason That I Wish I Had A Kid Thing

April 11, 2009

wherethewildthingsare200x200My all-time three favorite books from my childhood are Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, and Where the Wild Things Are — also by Maurice Sendak.

In October a live-action motion picture adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are is being released. The film is directed by Spike Jonze (who early in his career directed the brilliant Beastie Boys music video for “Sabotage”). From what I’ve seen in the trailer, I am already sold. The Wild Things look fantastically real — with an emphasis on the “fantastic.” Whenever one of your beloved aspects of your childhood emerges into your adult life as a “remake” or “adaptation” or “re-imaging” you can’t help but have at least a slight sense of dread that it’s just not going to turn out as well as you remember it. I strongly believe that this will not be the case with the Jonze directed Where the Wild Things Are.

The Where the Wild Things film has a vibe to it that has me feeling that if I had a kid, this would be the movie that we would share the experience of seeing together. Sure, I’ll be certain to introduce my kid to the other classic films — such as the Original Star Wars, Trilogy (IV, V, VI), King Kong (1933), To Kill A Mockingbird, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (with Gene Wilder, not Johnny Depp), The Iron Giant, and the movies by Pixar (except maybe Cars). But, dammit, if Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t look like the perfect movie for a parent and kid to hit the cineplex for.

Of course, my kid would already have a familiar knowledge of the works of Maurice Sendak, having owned dogeared copies of much read and much loved Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen books.

This is one time that I’m truly jealous of my friends that are parents who have kids that they can take to go see this film. I’m sure I can talk at least one set of parents to loan or rent me their kid to take to go see Where the Wild Things Are — but it won’t be the same.

And, my kid will definitely wear Max’s footie/hoodie wolf type pajamas. If not, dad will — so damn cool.

Counting Down To Star Trek

April 8, 2009

startrekcountdowntpbIf I was excited about seeing the new Star Trek movie directed by J.J. Abrams — which is warping onto the big screen next month — then my former colleagues (as well as a few newer individuals that have joined the team since my departure) at IDW publishing have only amped the anticipation with the release of Star Trek: Countdown.

I’ve got a month’s wait — May 8th — for the release of the latest Star Trek flick. I have eagerly awaited the release of each and every Star Trek movie since the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture back in 1979 — three decades ago… Wow! And sure, not every Star Trek film has been exactly stellar, but for the most part they have been enjoyable. And, there’s no denying that the anticipation of each release was always exciting for Trekkies and/or Trekkers like myself.

Now, when I first heard that the eleventh Star Trek movie was going to be a sort of a “re-imagined” or “re-tooled” of the original series featuring such iconic characters as Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Scotty, et al. there was some uneasy concern that they messin’ with the wrong guy’s favorite science fiction franchise. But, the more I saw by means of photos and trailers, and the more I read via web sites such as TrekMovie.com, the more I began to realize that, “Hey, maybe I won’t be heartbroken after all.”

What IDW Publishing’s Star Trek: Countdown — story by Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman,  script by Tim Jones & Mike Johnson, and art by David Messina (who I miss receiving regular deliveries of fresh art in my inbox from) — was able to do was cast aside any concerns that I might have had by neatly and smartly tying Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek movie into the already well-established, and heavily ladened with years of canon, continuity. IDW’s Star Trek: Countdown is really as much of a Star Trek: The Next Generation story as much as it is a prequel to the upcoming movie. Yeah, the new movie will have a different “glossier” look than the original series. Yeah, my beloved Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov will be played by a cast of fresh faces that would seem to be at home in a United Colors of Benetton ad. But, you know what? It’s still Star Trek.

Thirty days to go — and counting down…

Major Matt Mason To Soar Again

March 26, 2009

majormattmasonsoarsBefore there was G.I. Joe (Adventure Team), before there was Big Jim, before there was Action Jackson… There was Major Matt Mason — the very first action figure that I ever owned. I couldn’t have been more than three or four years old, but I remember the day that Major Matt Mason first soared into my life. I had just awoke from a mid-day nap (wish I could still take those) and staggered out into the living room to find just about every Major Matt Mason and the “The Men In Space” action figure and accessory strategically and carefully laid out on the floor. An older kid that lived in the same apartment complex was moving and he was leaving all of his Major Matt Mason toys to me. Score! And thus begun my long time addiction to action figure. (If only I still had every action figure I ever owned. I have to admit that I don’t own many nowadays.)

But, why am I bringing up Major Matt Mason now? On Tuesday, Variety reported that Universal will be developing Major Matt Mason, a live-action motion picture to star Tom Hanks.

If you’re not in the know (or haven’t clicked on the Major Matt Mason link above), Major Matt Mason was one of the first action figure toy lines. Created by Mattel, the line was based on an astronaut and his crew and their adventures on the moon. Who better than Tom Hanks, who starred as astronaut and commander James Lovell in Apollo 13 and served as executive producer, co-writer, and co-director of From the Earth to the Moon?

Now, if there were only a Major Matt Mason comic book…

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No Heroics Happy Hour

March 21, 2009

noheroicscastukWell, it was bound to happen, the British comedy series No Heroics is flying over the Atlantic to the U.S. — capes and all — to be adapted for a comedy pilot for ABC. The initial announcement was back in February when The Hollywood Reporter announced that ABC picks up comedy pilot ‘No Heroics’. The show is to be co-written by Jeff Greenstein (Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Friends) and the British series creator Drew Pierce. The two are also executive producers, along with Andrew Zein. ABC Studios is producing the show.

But, this last week the news was heard a little louder when it was announced that Freddie Prinze Jr. was cast to star in the U.S. adaptation.

“Sigh.” Those of you that are familiar with me and my work know where I’m going to go with this…

As far back as 2002, shortly after the second issue of (Super) Hero Happy Hour — the self-published comic book co-created by myself and Chris Fason — was released I found myself with “Hollywood” representation and I was meeting with various producers and production companies about turning our little comic book about super heroes hanging out in a bar into a TV show about super heroes hanging out in a bar. This was really the first foray into comic book creating and publishing that either Chris and I had ever made. (Super) Hero Happy Hour (Huh? I just found out that Hero Happy Hour has a Wikipedia page. Neat!) It was exciting times. I found myself making the forty minute to an hour drive up to L.A./Hollywood for meetings that I felt completely out of my league with. Back then, the plan was to do Hero Happy Hour as an animated series with big-name talent providing the voices. I was amazed at some of the names that would be thrown about — Bruce Willis, Pierce Bronson — it was crazy. It was almost dreamlike. I thought I had it the jackpot right off the bat with my very first comic book.

But, it was about that time that I received an overnight letter from both Marvel and DC, and I thought, “Hell, yes! I’ve been noticed.” Well, I was noticed alright. I was noticed for trademark infringement. Marvel and DC co-own the trademarked term “super hero” and they weren’t to thrilled with me using it in the title of my self-published comic book that was starting to get a little Hollywood attention. I was served with a cease and desist letter. That is when we changed the title from Super Hero Happy Hour to Hero Happy Hour. Whether there was a connection or not (I doubt it), after a couple of years the Hollywood talks began to slow down to a crawl and eventually dried up altogether.

Then about a year ago or so, I heard about the new British comedy No Heroics — about super heroes hanging out in a bar. Now, I’m the last person who’s going to argue that it’s the most original idea in the world. But, the similarities between Hero Happy Hour and No Heroics caught me a little off guard. And, it was a little show over in Britain — some 5,448 miles away. Now No Heroics is coming over here to my neighborhood, and I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed. It’s an opportunity lost. An opportunity that had it happened could’ve changed my entire life.

But, there’s no point in crying over spilled beer at a bar where super her– Oops. My bad. Sorry Marvel and DC. There’s no point in crying over spilled beer at a bar where heroes hang out at. I still do hope to publish more Hero Happy Hour comic books. I have scripts in the can, and notes and ideas for numerous more issues. Unfortunately, my partner in crime, Chris Fason is unable to belly up to the bar and tackle the artist duties due to being a good father, husband, and providing for his family with a paying solid job. (You go, Chris!) If I’m able to find the right artist to help out there will be more Hero Happy Hour comic books.

In the meantime, until No Heroics makes its U.S. premiere feel free to check out these issues and collections of Hero Happy Hour that you can find and/or order online…

gpnk-00001_sHero Happy Hour #1 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Scott Morse. Imagine pulling up a stool to the bar and sipping a frosty pint of your favorite beverage as you listen in on the conversations of the “regulars” that frequent the neighborhood tavern. But, this establishment is unlike any other bar. The Hideout Bar & Grill caters to the super heroes of First City, and provides more than just a place to wash away the troubles of serving and protecting society as crime-fighting crusaders. For these regular heroes it is “a place where everyone knows your name” — secret identity or not. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00002_sHero Happy Hour #2 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Jim Mahfood. It’s Tuesday night, and it’s Ladies’ Night at the Hideout Bar & Grill, the local watering-hole for the super heroes of First City. Join a quartet of super heroines as they let down their hair, deconstruct the “boys club” of being a super hero, and unwind after a hectic day of saving the world from madmen, maniacs, and monsters. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00003_sHero Happy Hour #3 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art and cover by Chris Fason. It’s time for “Another Round” at the Hideout Bar & Grill, the local watering hole for the super heroes of First City. The evening starts out quietly enough with the crime-fighting duo of Night Ranger and Scout joining Guardian and new-super-hero-in-town, Randal. But, that’s all about to change when a less than desirable clientèle shows up to ruin the heroes’ happy hour. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00004_sHero Happy Hour #4 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Ragnar. Could it possibly be last call at the Hideout Bar & Grill? Phantom Dread and a band of super villains show up to crash the Hero Happy Hour. Add six parts super villains, five parts super heroes, one part nervous bartender, shake well, and you’ve got… the ultimate barroom brawl. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-00005_sHero Happy Hour #5 — Written by Dan Taylor. Art by Chris Fason. Cover by Dave Crosland. Worlds collide when reality television invades the Hideout Bar & Grill in “Reality Shots.” The loyalties of the “dysfunctional duo” of Night Ranger and Scout are put to the test when they’re personal agendas, as well as their own unique (if not skewed) perceptions of reality clash with one another. Available for free at wowio.com.

gpnk-ssf01_sHero Happy Hour: Super Special Flashback — A bunch of comic book creators walk into a bar… The Hideout Bar & Grill. Join Tom Beland (True Story, Swear To God), Dave Crosland (Everybody’s Dead), Scott Morse (Soulwind, Southpaw), Todd Nauck (Wildguard, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man), Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Batman: Gotham County Line), Gail Simone (Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman), Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night, Wormwood Gentleman Corpse), Dan Wickline (1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad), and many other comic book writers and artists as they belly up to the bar to offer their take on patrons of every super hero’s favorite hangout. This collection contains all of the original stories from the Hero Happy Hour Super Special 2004, as well as an additional healthy pour of bonus material. Available for free at wowio.com.

idw-00006_sSuper Deluxe Hero Happy Hour: The Lost Episode — Available at last–the long-lost episode, “The Fall and Rise of Kingfish,” with bonus material and special features! Return to every hero’s favorite watering hole, The Hideout Bar & Grill, and join Guardian, Night Ranger, Scout, Rusty the Bartender and the rest of the regulars as they defend First City from the marauding Shadow-Soldiers from Dimension Z. Happy hour turns sour as one of their own loses their life in the line of duty and the group has to come to terms with the loss of a colleague. This re-mastered “lost episode” includes never-before-seen specially enhanced scenes, interviews with the cast, outtake and blooper scenes, and additional bonus material. Available for purchase at IDW Publishing.

ind0omni_sHero Happy Hour: Omnibus 01 — Did you miss any (or, dare we say, all) of the first five issues of Hero Happy Hour? Well, unlike missing out at “last call,” you’ve got the chance to partake in all five of the original rounds with the super hero gang from the Hideout Bar & Grill. This special digest-sized collection contains the “super” feature stories from the first five fan-favorite issues. “I actually wish I would have thought of it.” – Brian Michael Bendis. “With a concept that’s as ingenious as a two-for-one happy hour and laughs that hit faster than a shot of Wild Turkey to your dome, HHH won’t leave you skunky.” – Wizard Magazine. Available for purchase at Indy Planet.

Oh, and to Jeff Greenstein and Drew Pierce… Feel free to pick up a couple of issues for yourselves. Let me know if there’s anything in there that you like. I’ve got more, plenty more. And, to be honest with you, I would might writing for a television show with a subject matter that I’ve already done years (not to mention pints) of research on as well as being very dear to my heart.

Cheers!

Comic-Con Registration, Check!

March 17, 2009

comicconlogoHow did I spend my St. Patrick’s Day (well, night actually)? I took care of my 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International Professional Online Registration. The letter showed up over the weekend and registration opened up on Sunday. Friends and colleagues have mentioned that they’ve begun the process of getting ready for the “big show” — a process that does take four months to get prepped for.

If there is one thing that always rings true in regards to the San Diego Comic-Con, it’s that it somehow shows up before you know it. Like many other “professionals” I’ve spent the months before previous Comic-Cons getting ready to promote and pitch. When I’ve had a table or booth in the past months of preparation would take place in regards to the look and function of the set up — including building an authentic-looking mini-bar with a bank of four beer taps in order to promote Hero Happy Hour. I’ve had t-shirts and stickers printed to offer as giveaways. There are the countless printings of mini-comics — both constructing xeroxed copies of ash-cans as well as keeping your fingers crossed that your print-on-demand order shows up on time. And, of course, there are the business cards — do not forget the business cards.

But, this year I’m doing things a bit different. Although, I’m all signed up as a “professional” I’m going more as a fan, as well as using the opportunity to see old friends. The last couple of years I’ve prepped to promote myself, armed myself with pitches, and busted my ass to arrange meetings with editors and publishers. Then there were the years that I worked at IDW Publishing and had a booth to attend to. The three years before that, I had my own table/booth to manage to promote GeekPunk and Hero Happy Hour. Now, while those may have been the most rewarding years, I’m looking forward to going to this year’s con with more of a vacation state of mind.

And, let’s not forget about the hotel room. Any regular attendee that has made the pilgrimageto San Diego for the Con know that securing one’s lodging for the show can often be more challenging to obtain than the most exclusive of convention-only exclusives. You think getting your hands on that ultra-rare, limited only to 500, repaint action figure that you have to enter a raffle for and get your pass punched is a challenge? Luckily, this will be the third year that I’ve arranged to bunk with friends at a condo, as opposed to a hotel room.

Odds are San Diego will be the only comic book convention that I’ll be attending this year. And, now that I’ve got my lodging taken care of, my professional registration done, and not having to worry about all that prep work in order to promote myself to publishers and/or editors that would have a cigarette outside or be in their own pitch meeting trying to sell their latest property to Hollywood.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in San Diego in July. And, of course… There will be drinks.

Wrong Turn On The Way To The Land Of The Lost

February 4, 2009

landofthelost200x200Alright, let’s get this out of the way… I’ve seen the Land of the Lost Super Bowl XLII TV spot. Though, I’m glad that I didn’t actually see it that day. It could’ve — No, it would’ve ruined what was generally a pretty good day spent with friends.

Anybody that knows me knows that I’ve been a fan of the original Land of the Lost since I was the age of six. Way back in the day, when Saturday morning children’s programming really meant something. They’d preview the upcoming Saturday kid fair with a prime time special. And, it was during the the NBC preview that I got my first glimpse of Grumpy — the terrifying tyrannosaurus rex that would relentlessly torment the Marshall family for three seasons. It scared the crap out of me — but I was hooked nonetheless. During my early days of elementary school I’d struggle through the grind of learning my three Rs — reading, writing, and arithmetic — just to get to Saturday and another episode of Land of the Lost. I also dug Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (not so much when Rip Taylor showed up), Super Friends, and Star Trek: The Animated Series.

I’ve kept it no secret that over the last number of years I’ve wanted to adapt (and even update) Land of the Lost as a comic book. When I heard there was going to be a big-budget motion picture based on the Land of the Lost I had high hopes for something glorious. Then I heard it would be starring Will Ferrell — and a piece of my childhood died. Then I heard it would be a “comedy-adventure” and another piece of my childhood chipped off and fluttered away in the wind. Then online I saw the commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. My heart “plunged a thousand feet below…”

If you haven’t seen it yet… Well, here it is…

Sigh. It looks like the only thing they did get right was the raft plunging down a thousand feet below. The original material was so ripe with possibilities and all kinds of probabilities. Instead, we’re apparently getting a hundred thousand dollar budgeted spoof of a true Saturday morning television classic. Sid and Marty Kroft… I hate you.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry 1932 – 2008

December 18, 2008

mbr-chapel-mccoyI got home from work today to find that my recently repaired DSL service working for for the second straight day in a row and was thankful to once again decompress while surfing the web. Unfortunately, my surfing brought me news of the passing of Majel Barret Roddenberry. Known to Star Trek fans like myself as Nurse Christine Chapel from the original series, Mrs. Roddenberry was also featured as Number One in Star Trek Original Series‘ pilot “The Cage,” as well as Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the voice of most of the onboard  computers of the ships of Starfleet — a voice that was often heard on a number of the various computers I’ve owned upon booting up.

Somewhere, someplace, I’ve got a copy of the picture accompanying this post that Majel Barrett Roddenberry autographed for me when I had the pleasure of meeting her at a Star Trek convention years ago. She was always a great ambassador for Star Trek fandom. It was recently announced that she would be  participating in the upcoming J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek movie — once again as the voice of the onboard computer, a steady and reassuring aspect that has remained a constant throughout the various incarnations of Star Trek over the past forty plus years.

I Will Forever Crush On Bettie Page

December 11, 2008

For as long as I can remember I have been enamored with Bettie Page — like so many others. The impact that the sultry, yet sweet, Miss Page made on the world as a pin-up phenomenon cannot be denied. Perhaps it was her seclusive nature over the past half century that added to the mystique of the raven banged beauty. Regardless, she raised “cheesecake” to a bona fide art form with a mixture of innocence and flirtation.

According to her Obituary Press Release posted on the official Bettie Page web site

Los Angeles, December 11, 2008 – Bettie Page, sweet-smiling legendary 1950s pin-up queen with the killer curves and coal-black bangs, died today of pneumonia at a Los Angeles area hospital. She was 85 years old. She suffered a heart attack one week ago and never regained consciousness. Her popularity as an underground, guilty pleasures phenomenon has continued to soar despite the fact that the reclusive Page disappeared almost a half century ago, leading many to believe that one of the most photographed individuals of the 20th century was already dead.

I can honestly say that Bettie Page served as one of my muses on many occasions. Often when writing female characters, especially strong-willed and sultry femme fatales, I would often imagine Bettie Page in the role of the character. While her hair might be a different color and style the character of Alpha Bettie was created with the pin-up queen in mind — right down to her name.

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Hopefully, someday artist and Alpha Bettie co-creator Chris Noeth and I will be able to share the adventures of Bettie Swift of Alpha Squadron with the world. And, when we do it will surly be dedicated to the muse, Bettie Page.

Thank you, Bettie. Gone, but not forgotten.

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Unveiling The New Enterprise

November 11, 2008

It seems as if Entertainment Weekly has the inside scoop with all things related to J.J. Abram’s new Star Trek movie due out next May. Over at their Pop Watch Blog they’re offering up an exclusive first look at all new U.S.S. Enterprise. I know the look of the Enterprise is bound to generate a plethora of debates among the Star Trek united — but, I for one, am digging it. I feel that it definitely retains the “classic look” of the original Enterprise, while at the same time upgrading her to today’s standards while remaining a bit retro sixties-kitschy. Can’t wait to see it on the big screen.

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