Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Joker Says, “Happy Halloween”

Yes this is a viral marketing campaign for a movie that doesn’t come out until next year (The Dark Knight – the next Batman movie) but what a cool scavenger hunt. There’s even coordinates for a phone in Washington DC. Check it…

Click on one of the cut photos that boarder the screen for the clues. It looks like the Joker is sending his minions on the hunt all across America today. It starts at dawn.

Brilliant. I wish I could take part but I can’t. Perhaps you can, Gentle Reader. It should be fun.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Southern California is On Fire

Brush fires carried by the Santa Anna Winds are burning Southern California as I type this; three thousand miles to the southwest. It's been going on for three days now.

I have a friend who lives in Los Angeles. We met at the Screenwriting Expo about four years ago. We were singing bad renditions of “Bob and Tom” songs poolside in a bar where one would expect Humphrey Bogart to step around the corner at any moment. He’s a talented guy; a writer, an actor and he’s voiced several different video games too. He’s a good man who helps others communicate for a living. Not a bad existence, BTW.

I haven’t been able to reach him on the phone. If he ever saw that last sentence it would probably make him laugh. Gentle Reader; let me confess to you right here and now… I do NOT like the telephone. I’m horrible with it. Friends will call me but I very rarely initiate verbal contact on a telephone. I’ve even got rid of my landline. Hey, why should we have it? I’ve got a cell phone for the house – it’s clearer and there’s certainly better range. Any way, getting back to my wacky phone issue, I don’t use them apart from at work and when I don’t forget it in the morning while it’s recharging on my microwave.

Well, I made a call tonight. Maria Shriver (Mrs. Arnold Schwarzenegger), the First Lady of California has told the public to stay off of their cell phones to let the fire fighters and first responders have the bandwidth (or whatever they call space in the world of cellular phones) and I didn’t get through. The pictures and video are pretty scary. As of the time that I’m writing this 300,000 people have been evacuated and 1,000 homes have been destroyed.

I have a cousin who lives in San Diego too.

God bless ya Matt. If you can read this know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers; you too Anne.

I really need to learn better phone habits. Don’t wait – reach out and touch someone.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Christopher Pike on the Big Screen

The original Star Trek “The Menagerie” is coming to theaters. Check it – You remember that episode… Captain Christopher Pike was the beeping guy in the wheelchair, Spock highjacks the Enterprise and Kirk has to defend his actions? Sure you have… good times, good times. Well it’s been digitally remastered and new special effects will be in theaters (even New Jersey theaters!) on November 13th AND 15th. Below is a list of theaters here in Jersey that are going to have the goods.

Burlington Stadium 20 Burlington NJ 08016
Clifton Commons 16 Clifton NJ 07014
Hamilton 24 Hamilton NJ 08619
Hamilton Commons 14 Mays Landing NJ 08330
Commerce Center Stadium 18 North Brunswick NJ 08902
Pohatcong 12 Phillipsburg NJ 08865
UA Washington Township 14 Sewell NJ 08080
Hadley Theatre Stadium 16 South Plainfield NJ 07080
Cross Keys Cinema Stadium 12 Turnersville NJ 08012
Cumberland Mall Stadium 14 Vineland NJ 08360

Am I going to be there? BEEP! (if memory serves that’s affirmative.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

4400 Vs. Heroes

My my my… this is a geeks battle. Pure and simple; here’s a word of warning Gentle Reader… if you just don’t care about “Heroes” or the “4400”, skip this particular blog. Trust me – it’s gonna get ugly.

Nuff said? Good.

Here we go. 4400 is better than Heroes. That’s right – I said it; 4400 is better than Heroes. This is not to say that I don’t watch Heroes religiously every Monday night – oh contraire, I love both of the shows but as a card carrying GEEK I’ve got to give the favor to 4400.

Why? The writing. Bottom line. There is a visceral care for humanity with the 4400 (and story) while I’ve been able to guess the last four major plotlines for Heroes (which have been all right) – look, I’m an idiot; but a discriminating one. 4400 is more “real” and Nissan does not sponsor it. Look, I’m a geek from WAY back. I know that Jeff Lobe (DC Comic book god) is the executive producer of “Heroes” and that he’s done a fine job, thank you very much, but “Heroes” is wrote. If you have picked up a book or a graphic novel over the last 5 to 10 years the stuff writes itself.

No… really. It does.

4400 is different. It puts people in extraordinary circumstances within the sights of what would really happen to them. They don’t hide and if they do they are renegades ostracized by both the normal community and their “own kind”. 4400 is an injection of, dare I say, reality into the world of fancy that is portrayed on national television.

That, Gentle Reader, is good TV and, BTW, I HATE TV as a general rule of thumb.

But I digress. “Heroes” represents a world where gods walk amongst us unseen. “4400” is a similar scenario (and was first BTW) but most of them do not care if they are seen or not and besides internal intrigue there is the ever-present threat of just what the government is going to do. That is just how it would be if people could walk through walls, read minds or fly. What would the threat be? That is 4400. Heroes? Not so much.

Both are worth your time but 4400 is worth the rental.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Casting Thus Far…

Zachary Quinto (Heroes) as a certain young Vulcan.

Anton Yelchin (the kid from Hearts in Atlantis) as Pavel Chekov

Chris Pine (Princess Diaries 2) as James Tiberius Kirk [although the ink has not dried yet on this deal.]

Zoe Saldana (Drumline, Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl) as Nyota Uhura.

John Cho (Harold and Kumar go to White Castle) as Hikaru Sulu.

Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek TOS) as an elder Spock.

... And now…

SIMON PEGG (Shawn of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) as Montgomery Scott!

Lest there be no doubt… I will be camping out for this one.

It will be wrapped up for a Christmas release in 2008.

Life is good.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Screenwriting Expo 6

Hey out there! For those of you who have an interest in the craft Screenwriting Expo 6 is coming up. This year it will be running from October 24th – 28th at the Marriott and Renaissance Hotels at the Los Angeles Airport. Here's the details...

The year that I went it was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center (very cool building by the way) next to the Staples Center just down the street from the Hotel Figueroa. I see it show up in movies, TV shows and commercials all the time. If you travel down the street just a little more to the left you’ll be in the same tunnel that Ridley Scott used for Blade Runner back in ’82.

But I digress…

If, by chance, you go I recommend sticking to the “Guests of Honor” section where you will hear from people who make their livings by writing. Conversely, it would behoove you, Gentle Writer, to only attend the classes that you have an interest in or really can’t find out in a book or on the internet. The classes that I took were all well and good but if you are a writer then you are going to write no matter what some self-proclaimed “expert” with no track record has to say on the subject and seriously, how many times can someone reiterate the importance of the “heroes journey”? I’m still having “Joseph Campbell” flashbacks.

Skip most of those classes for the others. The “Guests of Honor” are worth listening to. These are people who are willing to tell you their tales of navigating the industry and are generally there to answer your questions. This year includes William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Hearts in Atlantis – the Princes Bride), Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List – Gangs of New York – Clear and Present Danger), Michael Goldenberg (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Peter Pan) and Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio (the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, The Mask of Zorro, Aladdin & Shrek). These people know what they are doing and are open to questions and conversation. I found this refreshing after sitting through a couple of classes. A few years ago my writing partner and myself spoke with Andrew Kevin Walker (Sev7en – Sleepy Hollow – The Wolfman [in pre-production]); he was accessible and amiable and patiently stayed after his presentation to answer all our questions.

Do go to the “Networking Parties” it’s an interesting experience meeting such a large group of people with the same twisted passion for writing. Be warned; however… this is L.A. and the land of make believe. Fiction is a staple in Southern California. Don’t unveil your master plan for the next summer blockbuster while at one of these parties. Don’t get too tainted by the laid back lifestyle. Don’t forget to stay focused, be friendly and don’t drink too much before you pitch your screenplay(s)… Just don’t.

Speaking of pitching… there’s “The Golden Pitch Tournament”. If you can get ticket(s) you will be purchasing 5 minutes of a studios time to hear an outline of your story. If they like what they hear they can option to buy your script. Of course they can also take your idea and steal it – this is L.A.; remember? Good. Never forget this.

But I digress.

The Pitchfest is always interesting to observe, writers will pimp themselves out just to make an impression. I know that the studios and production companies must really get a kick out of most of the writers that shake their hand and try to sell them their wares. It’s an exploitative town. Jay Leno has started interviewing some of the more eccentric screenwriters as they wait in line. It’s a funny bit that illustrates the fact that while all people can write not all people should. Still it makes me cringe a little; possibly it’s a little too close to home. One never knows, however, I have heard of some things being optioned but realize before going in the odds are pretty bad; still as one of my best friends always says, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you never take”.

Their website states the following when it comes to the Pitches of 2007, “One room with up to 60 of Hollywood’s A-list producers, development executives, agents, and managers looking for new material. No other event will offer writers better access to the people and companies capable of setting your writing career in motion. We’ve provided the venue, all you need to do is bring your best ideas and polished pitches — this is your chance to gain representation, sell your idea and make career-changing contacts.”

The Pitchfest gave me a new and deep appreciation for Independent Filmmakers. But, as I’ve said, one never knows.

If you are in the area and you have an interest you should go. Keep your ears and eyes open, learn and have one of those $3.00 cups of coffee that they sell there on the veranda. The sun is always shining in Southern California and looks spectacular through the glass panels of the Convention Center or the Marriott and Renaissance Hotels at the Los Angeles Airport; I would imagine.

Good luck out there.

“Looks like another perfect day… I love L.A.”.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Joys of Google Earth

I’ve been spending a lot of time playing around on Google Earth recently – do you know what I mean? If you’ve loaded the free program then you do; if you don’t know what it is or if you haven’t had the time to fire it up then please take heed. You’re about to fall in love with geography.

…No – Really…

Download the free version here:

Wikipedia (my favorite second brain) states this; “Google Earth is a virtual globe program that was originally called Earth Viewer and was created by Keyhole, Inc. It maps the earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS (geographic information system) 3D globe.”

Install the program and explore. Start with familiar territory and move onto the fun stuff. Type in your address and fly in – you’ll be impressed. Take a look around the neighborhood and put those nagging feelings that there is no such thing as privacy aside and look at the bright shinny thing!

Oh Gentle Reader, what a bright and shinny thing this program is. The past three days I’ve been to dozens of places around the globe. Where? Well, I’ve been to the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Alberta Canada, Banff National Park, Alberta Canada; Peggy’s Cove, Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada; Urqhart Castle, torre, Loch Ness, United Kingdom; Cherry Plain State Park, NY; Muckle Flugga, UK’s most northerly headland and, of course, Area 51, Uninc Nye County, Nevada.

…But hey, that’s just me. The program actually has some wonderful suggestions on where to take tours under the “Sightseeing” folder. They’ve got Disneyworld, the White House, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Imperial Palace in China and a bunch of others.

Mother Hen says that I’ve become downright voyeuristic she didn’t know that already.

The world is now your playground, Gentle Reader; happy exploring!