Log Entries: 07/14/2015

IN STAR WARS NEWS … The Force Awakens I guess we should all just learn to swallow that title — had it’s Comic-Con panel in San Diego on Friday, and in addition to a surprise appearance by a slightly limping Harrison Ford, they brought along an all-too-brief collection of behind the scenes footage for the audience.  The next trailer isn’t due until Fall, Star Wars fanatics, so enjoy this in the meanwhile:

STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE will be the next film to be released under the “Star Wars” banner, following Episode VII.  In fact, according to Lucasfilm’s own Kathleen Kennedy, the film begins production approximately three weeks from July 10th.  Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards will helm the film, which involves the elite unit that stole the plans of the first Deathstar; the very plans, in fact, that set the plot of 1977’s Star Wars, in motion.  Reportedly, Darth Vader will have a role in this stand alone prequel film, as well.  And there are also rumors that Boba Fett, and the other bounty hunters featured in The Empire Strikes Back, will play a role in the story THE DIRECTORS OF 21 JUMP STREET AND THE LEGO MOVIE, will helm a stand alone Star Wars film, centering on Han Solo.  Phil Lord and Chris Miller are set to begin production on their film immediately.  Josh Trank was previously slated to direct a Han Solo movie for Lucasfilm and Disney, but bowed out due to creative differences.  This project is said to have no relation to any material developed by Josh (Fantastic Four) Trank.  The film is tentatively scheduled for a May 25th, 2018 release date … IN DC NEWS … a new trailer for Batman V. Superman was unveiled during the recent, annual San Diego Comic-Con.  A trailer which gives much more depth to the plot and plight of Bruce Wayne.  As well as featuring other characters and hints, we finally get our first look at Wonder Woman.  And although brief, she’s worth the watch.

AND IT APPEARS BEN AFFLECK himself will co-write and direct a new stand alone Batman film for Warner Bros. and DC Comics.  He has already reportedly filmed a cameo in David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad, but if negotiations work out, Affleck will co-script with comic writer Geoff Johns his first solo effort, as the brooding caped crusader.  The film would potentially have a release date of 2018 … THERE’S A SUPERGIRL TV Series coming to CBS, this Fall.  Here’s a recent, short teaser they hope will wet your appetite.

WARNER BROS. Studios have announced the title of the Green Lantern reboot, which apparently will NOT involve Ryan Reynolds.  (Reynolds has stated firmly that Deadpool will be his last superhero film.  But based upon a very successful obscenity laden, hard R trailer for Deadpool, played at San Diego Comic Con — Reynolds is going out in style.)  Warner Bros. & DC Comics’ The Green Lantern Corps. has no production date or release date, at this time GUILLERMO DEL TORO has unfortunately dropped out of Justice League Dark.  The film that partnered Sandman with Constantine, Zatanna, Deadman, and Jason Blood.  It isn’t clear if Del Toro passed on directing this project due to scheduling conflicts, or changes within Warner Bros. handling of DC’s Vertigo titles and characters H. JackmanIN MARVEL NEWS … ALTHOUGH ACTOR HUGH JACKMAN had recently stated that he would be willing to play Wolverine, ‘forever,’ he later changed his mind and stated that the next Wolverine film (to be directed by James Mangold [3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine,]) will in fact be his last full performance of the character.  Said Jackman, “One – last – time.”  Clearly, he feels it’s time to move on, and he’s getting a bit too old for the physical regiment required to continue playing the character.  The only hint that has thus far been given as to the last Wolverine film’s intended storyline was another cryptic comment made by Jackman: “Old man Logan.”   However, there are more than substantial rumors that Jackman will cameo in at least two other films before he turns in his claws.  And while director Bryan Singer confirmed at Comic-Con that X-Men: Apocalypse will be one of them, the other has been the source of much debate.  Until recently, it was thought to be Marvel’s upcoming Deadpool film.  However, that has since been debunked.  More on this as further information becomes availableSpidey's jammy'sAS FOR “SPIDER-MAN” CAMEOS … well, due mainly to a deal struck between Marvel/Disney and Sony Pictures, Spidey will indeed cameo in Captain America: Civil War.  He, along with Black Panther, and reportedly many other Marvel characters, will cameo in that film.  And he will additionally make appearances in The Avengers: Infinity War Parts I and II — and according to Marvel, the wall crawler will soon have his own reboot film; which is part of the deal with Sony, as well.  Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) has been cast as Aunt May.  Anyone else feel old now ?  Nineteen year-old actor Tom (The Impossible, Wolf Hall ) Holland will play Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man in the film that will reportedly have, “a John Hughes vibe.” … AND AS FOR X-MEN: APOCALYPSEnew details have come forth since the X-Men: Apocalypse panel at the recent San Diego Comic Con, revealing that the film takes place in 1983, and indeed focuses on the character first established in the book, “X-Factor,” in the late 1980’s.  An immortal born 5,000 years ago in Aqaba, with what may be the very first mutant gene.  ApocA man, creature, or entity that also may be part extraterrestrial, whom secretly harbors no sympathy for either normal humans, or mutants.  But rather, strives for perfection in his quest to refine the evolutionary process into the anachronism of, ‘survival of the fittest.’  Thus making him the literal manifestation of everything humans secretly fear about mutants.  A superhuman antagonist with the clear potential to mercilessly abuse his powers, who may also very well be the devil himself.  Footage shown at Comic-Con reportedly reveals him to be the “literal” Apocalypse, with Magneto, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke, as his corrupted four horsemen.  His scheme and ploy, seems to be made obvious by his initial appearance and dialogue contained in the footage shown: “I’ve been called many things over many lifetimes.  Ra, Krishna, Yaweh …  You are all my children.  And you’re lost.  Because you follow the wrong leader.  Everything they’ve built will fall, and from the ashes of their world we’ll build a better one.” … JOSH TRANK recently announced that he was cancelling the conversion and release of the “3D” version only, of his Fantastic Four reboot.  He cited concerns with quality as the principal reason, but rumors have swirled that a proper conversion would not be possible, given the limited space of time between completion of the film, and it’s release date.  Mainly due to reshoots enforced by 20th Century Fox, who are reportedly, very unhappy with the film … AND FANTASTIC FOUR has a new poster …. which suspiciously markets the film in a similar fashion/color pallet to 2005’s Fantastic Four. 

Fantastic FourNew FF PosterThe earlier version(s) notably starred Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, and Jessica Alba as his sister Sue Storm.  Neither of the previous two films (including 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer) were very popular with fans, or as profitable as Marvel or 20th Century Fox had hoped.  Probably not a good idea to use a poster that brings back that memory … BUT FANTASTIC FOUR does have a nifty new trailer, so maybe that will ofset the negative responses to the poster.  See here:

WESLEY SNIPES has stated for the record that another Blade film might actually happen.  The original 1998 Blade film was really the first of the Marvel films, to actually turn a profit.  Marvel Studios have regained rights to the character and are looking to bring Snipes in to cameo in certain projects, and possibly star in yet another solo film.  “The project is controlled by Marvel and we did have a really productive and wonderful meeting, and we discussed a number of things.  I don’t know where it’s on their schedule at this point; that hasn’t been decided.  I guess it’s still up in the air.”   Snipes went on to hint that he might be chosen to return to the Marvel Universe as another character … MARVEL’S DR. STRANGE MOVIE is coming into focus.  Benedict (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness) Cumberbatch will play the title role of Dr. Stephen Strange.  A neurosurgeon that looses his career due to damage done to his hands in a car accident.  After much soul searching, Strange treks to the Himalayas, in search of a cure — and finds himself the keeper of an ancient magic, bestowed upon he who protects this world from evils from alternate dimensions.  Including one we call ‘Hell.’  Dr. Stephen StrangeTilda Swinton has been cast as ‘The Ancient One.’  Chiwetel (Serenity) Ejiofor has been cast as Baron Mordo.  And actress Rachel McAdams is rumored to play a role in the film, directed by Scott (The Day the Earth Stood Still, 2008) Derrickson.  The script is by Jon (Prometheus, Passengers) Sphaits.  Filming begins in London in the Fall, and is do for release in November of 2016 … AND THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY SEQUEL will be called Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II.  Put that in your pipe and smoke it … AND IF YOU’RE IN THE MOOD FOR A SWANK SUICIDE SQUAD TRAILER, step right up.  Ladies and gentlemen: ‘Rick Flag,’ ‘Captain Boomerang,’ ‘Deadshot,’ ‘King Shark,’ ‘Enchantress,’ ‘Katana,’ ‘Slipknot,’ ‘El Diablo,’ ‘The Joker’ … and the the lady herself, ‘Harley Quinn,’ cordially invite you to an evening of destruction and insanity.

IF YOU HADN’T HEARD (DUH!) THE NEW GHOSTBUSTERS have been chosen.  And while Dan Aykroyd has confirmed that he is filming a cameo in the new film, rumors point to him playing a role other than that of original Ghostbuster, ‘Ray Stance.’  Anywho, debate on Sony’s decision to take Bill Murray’s advice and remake the original film with an all female cast, rages on.  Here’s a pic from the set of the film, currently in production for a July 22nd, 2016 release.  Decide for yourself.  Was this a wise decision ? GhostbustingTHE FIFTH ELEMENT DIRECTOR, LUC BESSON has decided on his next film.  He’s returning to the science-fiction arena with, Valerian.  A massive $180 Million space opera, which adapts a famous European comic, “Valerian and Laureline;” which ran from 1967 to 2010.  Valerian and LaurelineThe story follows Valerian, a man from 28th Century Earth, and his beautiful, intelligent companion Laureline, a peasant girl from 11th Century France. Both are temporal agents based in a distant future, working for the Spatio-Temporal Service, which  protects Earth-like planets and guards against temporal paradoxes caused by rogue time-travellers.  Their adventures take them through space and time, aboard their astroship, XB982; which reportedly resembles the millennium falcon.  In fact, numerous similarities have been pointed out between the “Star Wars” films, and the “Valerian and Laureline” comics.   The film is currently scheduled to begin shooting this December, for a July 21st, 2017 release … Amazing Stories 1928AND BUCK ROGERS is scheduled to return to the screen.  A company called, AngryFilms, is adapting the original story that the comic and serial character, is based upon, with the intention of bringing that story to the screen.  The 1928 science fiction story, “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” was originally published in Amazing Stories magazine.  In the story, the character was originally named, ‘Anthony’ Rogers.  But the film will apparently use the well known and later altered name, instead.  Originally, Rogers was held in suspended animation for almost five Centuries, before awaking to an Earth caught in Civil War between the United States and Russians and Mongolians.  Ed (RoboCop, Starship Troopers) Neumeier, is co-writing BTTF 1BACK TO THE FUTURE is getting an interesting comic book companion, by way of original BTTF screenwriter Bob Gale, and IDW.  Set to hit shelves this October, the initial issue of the forthcoming anthology book, is said to show how Doc and Marty met in 1982.  The second will deal with Doc’s involvement in The Manhattan Project during the Second World War.  Said Gale of the series: “Much the way Part II showed different, unseen aspects of the original movie, the comic will do the same.  And then there were the fan questions.  Bob Zemeckis and I had been asked many times, ‘How did Marty and Doc meet?’ and ‘How did Doc’s house actually burn down?’  So I thought that a series focused on tales in these areas, dealing with the characters as we know them from the movies, answering some of these questions, would be worthwhile.  Maybe these stories could enhance or fill in things from the trilogy.” … SPEAKING OF STEPHEN SPIELBERG, DREAMWORKS has acquired the film rights to Michael Crichton’s “Micro” (2011).  If you’re a Crichton fan, you may remember that “Micro” is one of the books stolen off Crichton’s computer hard drive by an assistant, on behalf of Crichton’s Publisher, “after” his death.  The other was “Pirate Latitudes,” which was published without several intended illustrations, and a bibliography.  Micro’s story centers on a group of college students studying the microscopic landscape, in pursuit of pharmaceutical discoveries.  MicroAla Timeline, they are lured by a biotech company, and ala Dr. Cyclops, they get miniaturized and thrown into a common Hawaiian rain forest.  “Micro” was an unfinished manuscript, completed by author Richard (“Crisis in the Hot Zone,” “First Light”) Preston.  Problem is, Preston turned out to be not so good at mirroring Michael Crichton’s talent.  And the book quickly developed a really bad reputation upon publication.  Hopefully, Producer Frank Marshall can do something better with the material than Preston did.  This is one book-to-movie adaptation that can only get better.  Be on the lookout for MICROAND SPEAKING OF CRICHTON-ESQUE SCIENCE-FICTION, Ridley Scott’s film of author Andy Weir’s bestselling science-fiction novel, The Martian, has a strong trailer circulating in release, that really speaks volumes for the film’s intention of being a “science fiction” film, as opposed to “sci-fi.”  It’s about a man trapped on Mars, who in order to survive, will have to “science the shit outta this.”  Give it a watch.  The film hits theaters in October.

IN TV NEWS … IT APPEARS THE LAST STARFIGHTER is finally being brought back to life.  Over the years, many people, from Steven Spielberg to Seth Rogan have tried to acquire the remake / sequel rights to the 1984 sci-fi cult classic.  LSFBut none have ever been successful.  At least until now.  Original screenwriter Jonathan Betuel is teaming with Surreal.tv to work on something called, The Last Starfighter Chronicles.  The new production is billed as “the first TV show to embrace virtual reality.”  While the core TV series will air on standard television, viewers owning Virtual Reality headsets designed for cell phones, will get a better look inside the world of the TV show, simultaneous to the show’s airing.  The project is currently at the beginning of its development phase, but all involved are confident that they are generating something ground-breaking … TERRY BROOKS’ “THE CHRONICLES OF SHANNARA” has become more than just a project in development at MTV.  In fact, the network recently released a trailer for the upcoming television series, now retitled The Shannara Chonicles, which should have wide appeal for fantasy fans.

25 yearsDAVID LYNCH & MARK FROST are hard at work on bringing a 25 year Twin Peaks reunion to Showtime.  First it was on, then it was off.  Due mainly to disagreements between Lynch and Showtime over scheduling and budget.  But now, there’s this from Frost: “We had 32 hours back in 1991 and ’92, and with my partner David Lynch, we kind of blew open that genre of the nighttime soap and took it in a whole other direction.  A lot of people always look back at Twin Peaks and say that was the start of this explosion we’ve had in good TV drama, but we did it in a time when there were still only three networks.  The challenge for us is to try and come back and raise the bar above what we did the last time.  We’re coming back with season three of Twin Peaks after a 25-year absence.  We’ve finished the scripts, we start production in September, and that will be coming out on Showtime sometime in 2017.”   Hallelujah ! … AND SPEAKING OF HALLELUJAH … THE X-FILES is returning to Fox for a 9-episode “short season” run (said to be a mini-series designed to get their feet wet,) and is set to begin airing this January.  And Fox have given up a very brief, initial look at the show.  It’s only a few seconds long, and you have to watch closely, but at the tail end of this video, you will see Mulder and Scully, in action.  And both are clearly wearing suits; betraying the fact that they are back working for the FBI, again.  Take a look:

SADLY, THERE WILL NOT BE A NEW STAR TREK show on TV for some time.  Due mainly to issues over a divorce between CBS and Paramount.  This is somewhat of a blow to Star Trek fans; specifically in the wake of a new series being recently pitched to Paramount by Star Trek fan, Michael Gummelt.  Star Trek: Uncharted, an idea Gummelt had been working on for 20 years, is set aboard a new Starship Enterprise, sent to the Andromeda Galaxy, two Centuries after the era of Captain Kirk.  One Century after the era of Captain Picard.  Some years before, a war between the Romulans and the Federation resulted in a collapse of the Romulan Empire, leaving the Federation in charge of the the Milky Way.  And as a result, the Federation has changed quite a bit.  From an exploratory force, to a police force.  Star Trek - UnchartedBut something is brewing within Starfleet.  A signal is being received from the Andromeda Galaxy.  From someone claiming to be the creators of life in our Galaxy.  The signal is inviting us to pay them a visit.  And it’s being broadcast across the entire, vast expanse of the Milky Way Galaxy.  So, after much brouhaha, the first exploratory mission in decades is authorized, and utilizing a new ‘space folding’ technology, the new Enterprise is sent to investigate.  Sounds spiffy, huh ?  Given the ship’s technology, this new Enterprise could clearly travel back and forth between Andromeda and the Milky Way.  Removing the Voyager crux.  Also, a new Starbase was to be under construction in Andromeda, and two additional Starfleet ships would have made their way around Andromeda, during the course of the show.  You can see the entire pitch at StarTrekUncharted.com.  But unfortunately, that is as much as you’re going to see of Star Trek: Uncharted.  In fact, it will reportedly be some time before Star Trek will be on Television again.  The only related good news is that Zackary Quinto and Chris Pine have both signed on for a fourth Star Trek film, intended to follow the forthcoming, Star Trek Beyond.  That film, directed by Justin (Fast and Furious) Linn, is now shooting, and already getting good word of mouth HEROES FANS REJOICE !  Heroes: Reborn begins airing as a limited series, September 24th

AND NOW FOR SOME ASSORTED TIDBITS: The title of the Independence Day Sequel will be Independence Day: Resurgence  Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall recently reiterated, and stated for the record (as of June 11th, 2015) that there are no current, immediate plans for a new Indiana Jones film.  They don’t even have a story yet.  It was all just gossip …  WestworldWestworld, Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams’ retooling of Michael Crichton’s classic theme park gone awry thriller, will not be airing on HBO this year.  Although they just exhibited Westworld at Comic-Con, it nonetheless seems the cable network don’t see how the shows creators can live up to the pilot, so they are recasting certain roles, and tinkering with “other ideas.” Skydance Productions and Universal Pictures are developing a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ film, written by the guys who wrote “Ouija.”  A separate, competing Bermuda Triangle film is in development at Warner Bros, which producer Charles (Rollerball, Batman V. Superman) Roven, is producing Eli (Hostel) Roth is in talk to direct Meg, based on the Steve Alten novel about a giant prehistoric shark, sixty feet long, swimming along the California coast.  btw Warner Bros. are said to be fast-tracking this project, due to the enormous success of Jurassic World 20th Century Fox are developing a remake of John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China, with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson playing the role of Jack Burton (don’t shoot the messenger; I don’t make this stuff up) … Stephen King’s The Stand will be both a miniseries AND a movie.  The Fault in Our Stars writer/director Josh Boone is currently typing up a three hour version of King’s novel for a major feature.  And Warner Bros. and CBS Films are developing an eight part TV mini-series based upon earlier segments of King’s novel — that will lead up to the release of the film.  So, much of the book will air on Showtime, whereas the remainder of the book will have to be seen on the big screen.  Interesting.  Novel approach. Get it ? Novel ? …  A third TRON movie is not happening, so brush it aside in your mind … League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is getting rebooted, though.  20th Century Fox and Davis Entertainment are planning a new film of Alan Moore’s graphic novel series.  The initial film in 2003, was somewhat loosely adapted from its source material, and resulted in a shaky film, at best.  One that sadly proved to be the last performance of esteemed actor Sean Connery’s career.  Producer John (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Blacklist, Predator) Davis will oversee production on this new version Alas !  Jonny Quest might finally make it to the silver screen.  Robert (Sin City, Spy Kids, El Mariachi) Rodriquez has been signed to direct a live action adaptation of the 60’s Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  Rodriquez and Terry (Pirates of the Caribbean) Rossio are currently working out their script … Cinematographer Roger (Skyfall, No Country for Old Men) Deakins has been signed to photograph the Blade Runner sequel for Alcon Entertainment, and the film’s director Denis (Prisoners) Villeneuve.  Filming is scheduled to begin next summer, with Ford returning to the role of Rick Dekard.  The screenplay was written by Hampton (Blade Runner) Fancher, and Michael (Smallville, Heroes, Green Lantern) Green Kate Beckinsale will again star as “Selene” in a fifth Underworld movie And a trailer for the long-awaited Warcraft movie, will premier in November … Director Joss Whedon will not offer up a director’s cut of Avengers: Age of Ultron, on blu-ray, contrary to previous reports AND NOW FOR THE SAD, BAD, AND ALL AROUND DEPRESSING NEWS …Amand Exp AMANDA PETERSON, the young ingenue well-known by many of a certain age from Joe Dante’s film, Explorers, as well as Can’t Buy Me Love, recently died from a possible lung infection.  Known by family and friends as, ‘Mandy,’ Phyllis Amanda Peterson was a native of Greeley, Colorado.  At the age of 7, she got a part in a stage production of “The Sound of Music,” at the University of Northern Colorado.  A year later, she appeared as a dancing extra in “Annie.”  Can't Buy Me LoveEventually, she would book guest spots on a handful of 1980’s television shows, before landing her first big role in Explorers.  She was nominated for the ‘Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Drama Series’ several times, and won in 1987.  But it was the romantic teen comedy Can’t Buy Me Love that cemented her posterity and teen idol status.  Do to it’s unexpected tug on the heart, and some tricky licensing of the classic Beatles tune, the run-of-the-mill teen comedy was uncharacteristically popular with critics and audiences alike, quickly becoming a sleeper hit, and eventually, a cult classic.  In the mid 1990’s, Peterson left the entertainment industry, returning to Colorado.  On July 3rd, she passed away in her sleep, at the age of 43.  Director Joe Dante said of her: “A very sweet girl, fun to work with.  River (Phoenix) had a HUGE crush on Amanda during the making of Explorers, but was very upset when he found out she preferred Ethan (Hawk.)”  Friend, and co-star Meredith (The Journey of Natty Gann, Lake Placid) Salenger tweeted photos of herself and Peterson from their childhood, and stated simply, “Rest in Peace my dear old friend. Amanda Peterson. I loved you.” Amanda flyingOMAR SHARIF was born in April of 1932, in Alexandria, Egypt.  He studied at Victoria College, later graduating from Cairo University, garnering a degree in mathematics and physics.  He later studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.  OmarIn 1955, he changed his name from Michel Demitri Chalhoub, to Omar Sharif, converting to Islam, as part of the matrimonial process to an Egyptian actress.  He performed nobly in a handful of Egyptian films in the late 50’s and early 60’s, before being cast by David Lean, in a role many have called the greatest screen entrance of all time.  A scene David Lean confessed was very much inspired by John Ford’s film, The Searchers.  Sharif had been originally cast in a separate supporting role in the film, but when the character of ‘Sherif Ali’ proved difficult to cast, Lean placed Sharif in the role.  And the director was pleased with the results.  Omar Sharif spoke several languages, was very sophisticated, and had an ambiguous ethnicity that greatly enhanced the realism associated with his character.  Based upon T.E. Lawrence’s autobiographical book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom,” Lean’s film was a grueling shoot, filmed on location the deserts of Egypt and Spain.  'AwrenceBut Sherif reportedly dealt with it like a pro, lifting his reputation and bringing him not only a flood of offers over the ensuing years for even more strong roles, but also an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.  But Sharif was best known for his role in Lean’s next film, Dr. Zhivago.  A film set during World War I and the Russian Revolution, which showcased Sharif as a poet and physician.  Dr. ZhivagoFor this role, Sharif won another Golden Globe.  This time for best actor.  He starred alongside Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl, Gregory Peck in Mackenna’s Gold, Richard Harris in Juggernaut, and with Peter Sellers in, The Pink Panther Strikes Again.  This was probably the first film he made which could be considered close to fantasy.  Oh Heavenly Dog (1980) came next.  Oh Heavenly DogA Benji / Chevy Chase comedy that had little impact on anyone over the age of eight.  It received sour criticism as both a “family” Benji film, and as a film in general.  But, either because of its flaws, or in spite of them, Oh Heavenly Dog maintains a cult 80’s B-Movie status among a certain generation, that has ensured its strange posterity.  In 1984 Sharif starred in David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker’s theatrical follow-up to Airplane!, Top Secret!  A unique parody of both spy films and Elvis Presley films, that was considered a disappointment at the box office, but played well on cable.  In 1999, Sharif would be cast in a small, but pivotal role in John McTiernan’s film of Michael Crichton’s novel, “Eaters of the Dead.”  And while The 13th Warrior didn’t set the box office on fire, it has grown to become a very popular historical action film.  Sharif in 13th Warrior The great Omar Sharif was also well known for being one of the world’s foremost “contract bridge” players.  He played professionally, wrote a syndicated newspaper column for the Chicago Tribune on the subject, authored several books on the subject, and even licensed his name to a video game, “Omar Sharif on Bridge.”  In 2005, Sherif was awarded the Sergei Eisenstein Medal by the “United Nations  Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizaion” (UNESCO.)  An award recognizing the significant contributions made by Omar Sharif to the world of film, and cultural diversity.  The infrequently awarded medal was one of only 25 ever struck.  Omar Sharif died from the effects of a heart attack on July 10th, only months after the death of his ex-wife, and companion of sixty years.  But his numerous great accomplishments as an artist will be viewed long after we are all gone.  OMAR S.AND JOHN STEED A.K.A. PATRICK MACNEE has died.  Daniel Patrick Macnee was born in Paddington, London, England in 1922.  As a young man, Macnee attended Eton Private College, and was a member of the Officer Training Corps., before being expelled from the school for selling pornography and for being a dog track bookie.  He went on to study acting at ‘Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.’  But in 1942, he was called up for duty in the United Kingdom Armed Forces, and thus, joined the Royal Navy.  And he quickly achieved the rank of first lieutenant, becoming a navigator of Motor Torpedo Boats.  In fact, only days before the D-Day invasion, Macnee was diagnosed with bronchitis, and remained on bed rest in a hospital while his boat and crew were lost in action.  He later left the Royal Navy in ’46, with the rank of lieutenant.  Soon after, Macnee began winning small roles in films and TV shows, and thus climbed the ladder of notoriety within the entertainment industry, acting alongside celebrities like Gene Kelly.  Taking a short break from acting in the early 1960’s, he served as a producer of a British documentary on WWII … but soon after, he returned to acting, and was cast in the role that would make Patrick Macnee a household name.  The AvengersThe character of John Steed in the BBC production of The Avengers, was mysterious and suave, and always left audiences wanting more.  Macnee fought his character’s use of a gun in many instances, and won.  HowlingForcing the shows writers to invent new ways for his character to gain the upper hand on any opponent.  Among his many additional roles in the world of science-fiction and fantasy entertainment, included the role of a Doctor with a nasty secret in Joe Dante’s The Howling, a minor, but pivotal role in Waxwork (1988,) a bastardized version of John Steed named Sir Godfrey Tibbett in the last Roger Moore James Bond outing, A View to a Kill — a role which even fellow actor Moore agreed was “a slight, distasteful disrespect” to Macnee.  And the voice of the Cylon’s Imperious Leader in the original Battlestar Galactica; which can be heard here:

Macnee as WatsonYes, Patrick Macnee was known for being an Englishman, and a fine actor.  Among his many other accomplishments — in life and careeer — Patrick Macnee is credited with being one of the only actors to ever play both Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, on screen.  When he passed away in June of this year, Macnee, that quintessential Englishman, had become a United States citizen, and a nudist, who simply referred to himself as, “A retired actor.”  He was 93.
Jamie HornerJAMES HORNER’S DEATH HIT A LOT OF MUSIC SCORE LOVERS HARD.  It’s difficult to know what to say to memorialize such beautiful music.  I mean people were speechless, slack-jawed, and caught off guard.  Said James Cameron, “I think he’s up there with John Williams and Hans Zimmer; firmly implanted at the top of the firmament of the current great masters.”

James Roy Honer was born in Los Angeles, in 1953.  He was playing piano at the age of five, and as a child attended the London Royal College of Music, before relocating to first Arizona, and then finally, back to Los Angeles.  He studied music at UCLA, earning first a bachelor’s, then a masters, and finally a doctorate, in music.  Horner 3After scoring projects for the American Film Institute, he taught a course in music theory at UCLA, before turning to film scoring, professionally.  His first major film scores were The Lady in Red, Humanoids From the Deep, and Battle Beyond the Stars.  Decidedly low budget fair, which shined in part due to Horner’s participation.  A round of scores followed for various, inconspicuous films.  But then there was an explosion of creativity in his work.  Heralded by Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which launched Horner’s career, right into the mainstream.

That same year, he also scored Walter Hill’s 48hrs.  A Nick Nolte / Eddie Murphy comedy / thriller that showed Horner’s true versatility as a composer.  He followed this with a whole host of film scores that will resonate in the hearts and ears of film score lovers, forever.  Something Wicked This Way Comes, Krull, Brainstorm, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Cocoon, The Journey of Natty Gann, Commando, and episode of Stephen Spielberg’s Amazing Stories, Aliens, The Name of the Rose, An American Tail, Project X, *Batteries Not Included, Willow, Red Heat, The Land Before Time, Field of Dreams, Glory, The Rocketeer, Patriot Games, Sneakers, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Pelican Brief, Clear and Present Danger, Legends of the Fall, Braveheart, Casper, Apollo 13, Jumanji, Courage Under Fire, Titanic, Deep Impact, Bicentennial Man, The Perfect Storm, A Beautiful Mind, Avatar — and many, many more.

In 1987, he was nominated for two Academy Awards.  One for James Cameron’s Aliens, and one for the theme song to the animated film, An American Tail; which he composed and co-wrote, and which was sung by James Ingram and Linda Ronstadt.  But he finally won two Oscars for both the score and theme song to James Cameron’s Titanic.

The score for Titanic remains the best-selling score in history, having sold over 27 Million copies around the world.  Horner and his co-writer on the theme song, ‘My Heart Will Go On’ also won three Grammy’s and two Golden Globes.  In 2006, Horner composed the theme for the CBS Evening News, following in the footsteps of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, both of whom had scored themes to popular prime time nightly newscasts.  Horner Titanic winHe spent part of 2007, and much of 2008 and 2009 working on the score for a single film: James Cameron’s Avatar.  And he was yet again nominated for Oscars and Golden Globes, and so much more.  To date, James Horner’s music has become some of the most recognizable in movie history.  Many of us have grown up with it.  And some of his music has become some of the most sampled music in movie trailer history, as well.  And it’s even been reused.  Roger Corman notoriously reused Horner’s score for Battle Beyond the Stars, on a small number of other low budget productions.

The theme to Ron Howard’s Cocoon, ‘Through the Window,’ was famously used in the Superbowl trailer for J.J. Abrams film, Super8.  And one particular piece of Aliens music was even reused during the climax of John McTiernan’s Die Hard.  And while Horner himself was often criticized for borrowing passages from either classical compositions, or even contemporary scores by other composers, the argument can be made that he was advancing the medium by incorporating said passages, and utilizing them in another fashion.  James Horner was an avid pilot, and died on June 22nd, when his turboprop aircraft crashed in a California Forest.  The 61 year old composer was scheduled to score James Cameron’s forthcoming Avatar sequels.  No word on who, if anyone, will ever be available to truly fill his shoes.

AND SADLY, MARY ELLEN TRAINOR HAS DIED.  You may not know her name, but you certainly know her face.  She was the Mom in both The Goonies and The Monster Squad, the police psychiatrist in the Lethal Weapon films, a TV anchorperson in Die Hard, a TV reporter in Ricochet, a cop in Back to the Future Part II, Joan Wilder’s kidnapped sister ‘Elaine’ in Romancing the Stone, a television development executive in Scrooged, a flight attendant in Executive Decision, a mother throwing a birthday party for a group of children in Ghostbusters II … the list just goes on.  Trust me, you know her face.  Trainor also worked in television, and had a recurring role on Roswell.  She died of complications of pancreatic cancer, back in May.  She will be remembered
Mary Ellen TrainorTHAT’S IT FOR THIS POST.  With exception to Leonard Nimoy’s death (which I reported in my last post,) I have neglected to update this blog since … about this time last year, actually.  And as one would expect, I got precisely what I deserved: a list of 34 talented professionals — all having made an impact in the world of science-fiction and fantasy; and all having passed away over the course of the past year.  And while I am currently generating a follow-up post that specifically and only reports on the passing of those remaining 29 individuals not mentioned here, I now find that I just cannot keep going at the moment.  It’s far too depressing.  And I also cannot expect readers to read through my memorializing all 34 artists at the tail end of a single typical post.  So that’s it for now.  Please check back on July 28th for the remaining 29.  In the meantime: life is short, go out and have some fun.
Ocean Ln Dr.

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Log Entries: 03/01/2015

Let me begin by apologizing for my tardiness in addressing the need for a regular post on this blog.  For the past several months, I have been busy writing a screenplay that takes place within a theme park in Houston, Texas in 1979, called AstroWorld.  And with generous assistance from the park’s former employees, I have created something very funny, and very magical.  But it has taken a lot longer than I expected to produce a First Draft.  So from here on, I resume my regular monthly posts on this blog featuring entertainment news and tidbits from the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy.  **Also, please NOTE: I have a backlog of obituaries over the past several months.  And all will be addressed at the end of my next blog post, in April.  But for now, I have chosen to only focus on one: Leonard Nimoy.    BladeRunnerBLADE RUNNER 2 (or whatever the eventual title may be) has been given a green light by Alcon Entertainment and it’s associating partners.  As reported many months ago, Harrison Ford will reprise his role as android hunter Rick Deckard, and a new director has now entered the mix, taking over for Ridley Scott; who will now service as Producer.  Denis (Prisoners) Villeneuve will now helm the film.  The only other details offered were that the film will officially begin production in 2016, and that Harrison Ford believes it to be,  “the best script I’ve ever read.”  Unfortunately, there is no further word as of yet, on any “definite” involvement on the part of Ford in a potential Indiana Jones 5 (excepting previous statements by Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, and those pesky Chris Pratt rumors,) but Starlogger will keep you posted …  Blomkamp's ALIENHOWEVER, IN OTHER REBOOT-REMAKE-SEQUEL NEWS, director Neil (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) Blomkamp has managed to persuade 20th Century Fox to finance his own Alien film, based upon a personal art project (at left.)  As of this writing, the film is said to be a sequel to all previous Alien films, and Sigourney Weaver is in negotiations to reprise her role as Lt. Ellen Ripley, or some variation of that original character.  The film, thus far, is untitled.  But director Blomkamp made a point to pin down the approximate angle his film will take by stating the following: “I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of Alien.  So it’s Alien, Aliens, and then this movie.”  Blomkamp later clarified that he will not be revising the current cannon of the Alien franchise.  Offering that he will not ignore events depicted in Alien 3 or ResurrectionMARVEL & SONY PICTURES recently made a deal for $0 (that’s right, no money involved; both parties simply agree not to share profits or sue each other,) allowing for appearances of Spider-Man in Disney-Marvel films, specifically including Captain America: Civil War (said to involve cameos of many characters in the Marvel Universe,) and possibly, the forthcoming Avengers sequels, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2Heroes and VilliansIt is not certain at this time if the Spider-Man character will make appearances in any of the other Marvel films planned by Disney, which in part include: Doctor Strange (starring Benedict Cumberbatch,) Black Panther (starring Chadwick Boseman,) Captain Marvel, and The Inhumans.  And although Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been effectively cancelled, due to the lackluster performance of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Sinister Six and Venom are still in development at Sony, and Marvel’s own Kevin Feige will be producing a new stand alone Spider-Man film, which is aiming for a summer of 2017 release date.  Actor Andrew Garfield will not be returning … ON THE SUBJECT OF CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, the film’s storyline reportedly pits Captain America against Iron Man, due to opposing views over something called, “The Hero Registration Act.”  Robert Downey Jr., who will appear in the film as Iron Man, had this to say regarding the nature of his role in the film. “Ultimately, it’s Steve’s (Rogers) story; it doesn’t say ‘Iron Man 4: Civil War.’  I think that’s great, too.  I think Chris has been hungry to bring even more of an underside and some shadow to that.  I remember the comics — on the surface, you got the sense that Cap was baseball and apple pie, but underneath, there was all this churning stuff of being a man out of time.  Now we know he’s made his peace with that.  What’s the bigger issue ?  It can have a little something to do with the past, but it can be about someone becoming more modernized in their own conflict.”   DDDAREDEVIL WILL SOON BOW on Netflix.  The series is said to be set after the events of the first Avengers film, and on the subject of the general plot of the show, Marvel’s Emma Fleischer offered the following: “We are still part of the Marvel Universe, but we are not explicitly in that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. world.  We’re in our own corner.  So the aliens (of The Avengers [2012]) came down and ruined the city (New York,) and this is the story of Hell’s Kitchen’s rebuild.”  Among the cast will be Vincent (Full Metal Jacket) D’Onofrio, who will play Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin … MARVEL’S A.K.A. JESSICA JONES will also begin airing soon on Netflix.  The show, already in production, is a 13 episode series starring Krysten Ritter as a former superhero, turned detective.  It premiers later this year …THE BEAUTIFUL MORENA (FIREFLY) BACCARIN has been cast as the female lead in the Ryan Reynolds Deadpool film.  Having languished in development hell for several years, Deadpool somewhat reboots the character Reynolds first played in the film X-Men Origins: WolverineDeadpoolHere he plays an assassin who undergoes a procedure to cure his cancer, but the operation leaves him twisted and scarred while also giving him extraordinary abilities.  The film, directed by newcomer Tim Miller, begins filming next month in Vancouver, Canada … BRYAN SINGER’S X-MEN: APOCALYPSE has entered production.  The sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past will star a variety of new talent as the young X-Men characters we all know, dealing with the threat of the character, Apocalypse, in the mid 1980’s.  Thus far, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, and Even Peters (Quicksilver,) are the only returning actors from previous films of the franchise.  As for Patrick Stewart, the plan is for he and Jackman to team up for another Wolverine film.  And good news for Jackman-Wolverine fans.  Jackman recently stated that he intends to play the character of Logan/Wolverine, until he dies … GrossguardA MINOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS news item: Jony Ive, a VP at Apple Computer responsible for many of their designs, including the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and more recent iOS platforms, was consulted on certain aspects of the new “crossguard” lightsaber seen in the recent teaser trailer.  Crossguard MemeSpecifically, the idea that the light blade isn’t so well defined.  Said Ive: “I thought (the lightsaber) would be interesting if it were less precise and just a little bit more spitty.”  He also suggested the redesign be, “more analog and more primitive and I think in that way, somehow more ominous.” … MEANWHILE, FELICITY (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING) JONES has won a role in an as-of-yet unnamed Star Wars spin-off film.  The script for that top secret project is now being rewritten by Chris Weitz … AND TARIANA (ORPHAN BLACK) MASLANY has won a separate role in a separate Star Wars spin-off film, set to be directed by Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards.  Reportedly, Muslany will be playing the live action version of “Sabine Wren,” a character featured in the animated Star Wars Rebels ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (scheduled to begin shooting The Legend of Conan this fall,) will yet again reprise his role as “The Terminator” in yet another sequel, scheduled to follow the upcoming Terminator: Genisys reboot.  According to Schwarzenegger, the next Terminator film will begin production “next year.”  The new Terminator films are reportedly designed to be a trilogy, and production is scheduled to move quickly to take advantage of the Terminator rights, before said rights revert to creator James Cameron; who has no intention of revisiting the Terminator franchise … Legend of ConanSPEAKING OF LEGEND OF CONAN, Producer Chris Morgan has stated that the film will be more inspired by the original film by John Milius, than by the work of Robert E. Howard.  “We look at all the source material and we love things that kind of speak to that tone.  We’re incredibly respectful to Howard.  I’m a huge fan of the stories and the books, but I’m a super-huge fan of the first movie; because that crystallized and distilled it all for me.  Milius just killed it.  He did such a good job.  And Legend of Conan is really resonant and it really digs into the legacy of that original film.  I’m already very proud of it.” … IN GHOSTBUSTERS NEWS, director Paul (Bridesmaids) Feig recently commented on his personal inspiration for the development up the reboot featuring an all female cast.  GhostbustersSaid Feig, “I will say, I was very inspired by (The Walking Dead.)  What I love is how they play with the danger, they play with the scariness, but also the idea that it’s always about gauntlet run.  And that’s something: an element I want to bring to this Ghostbusters reboot is having to get through these various obstacles that are supernatural and all that.  I really feed off of The Walking Dead.” … PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES has officially started production in Queensland, Australia, directed by Espen Sandberg & Joachim Ronning.  The story: ghost pirates lead by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea, including Captain Jack Sparrow.  His only hope is in finding the legendary Trident of the Greek God Poseidon, which gives its possessor total control over the seas … IN VARIOUS DC NEWS: Gal Godot will reprise her role as Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman in a stand alone film that begins shooting as soon as this fall … Legion of Superheroes (a comic that followed a team of super-powered 20-somethings, in the 30th Century) is being developed and possibly prepped by Warner Bros. as a ‘superheroes in outer space’ story, ala Guardians of the GalaxyHarleyActress Margot (The Wolf of Wall Street) Robie has been cast as “Harley Quinn” in Suicide Squad, while Jared Leto has been cast as “The Joker,” and Will Smith has been cast as “Deadshot.”  The film is being directed by David (Fury) Ayer … The CBS Supergirl series is finalizing casting and will begin shooting soon.  The show is described as being about Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who was born on Krypton, but escaped its destruction the same as Kal-El, by being sent to Earth.  Taken in by a foster family, she’s been a “Super girl” in hiding, living in a “Superman” world, until turning twenty-four and coming into her own … Director Zak Snyder has offered this image for his version of the “Aquaman” character, as he appears in his forthcoming Batman Vs. SupermanAquaman Jason MamoaJason Mamoa had this to say about the role: “It’s not my movie.  it’s the first time in history to have them (Superman & Batman) both on the screen together, and I’m just excited to see those two up there.  Justice League is quite a ways away.  But I’m looking forward to it.”  He added, “There’s definitely a plan in this whole universe that Zack (Snyder) is designing.  And it’s amazing to be a part of it.  I think everything that you see that is building, there’s a purpose behind the whole plan.  What’s great about this is Zack, man.  We don’t want to just reinvent it, but he’s got a whole idea of what Aquaman should be and I’m really honored to be playing it.  I’m excited for the world to see it.”  Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is scheduled for release March 25, 2016.  Justice League is tentatively scheduled for release in November of 2017.  A potential and eventual Aquaman film is also in the offering … Pete's DragonIN BRIEF: A remake of Walt Disney’s Pete’s Dragon (1977) is now shooting in New Zealand.  The film is being directed by David (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) Lowery, and stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford.  The film is due in theaters August, 2016 … Steven Spielberg’s film Minority Report (2002) has spawned a television series.  Set 10 years after the film, and the end of the Precrime Division, another generation of characters will secretly relaunch the Precrime Division in a genuine attempt to avoid possible Armageddon.  Casting is complete and the show begins shooting very soon … Evan Daugherty (Divergent, Snow White and the Huntsman) is writing the Tomb Raider reboot for GK Films and MGM.  Warner Bros. will release the film … Director Rob (Parks and Recreation) Schrab will helm the sequel to The LEGO MovieThe LEGO Movie Sequel is due in 2018.  This film will follow on the heels of The Batman LEGO Movie, which will be released in 2017 … Michelle Gomez will reprise her role as “Missy,” or “The Master” in the upcoming season of the BBC’s Doctor WhoAsh Vs. Evil Dead begins production very soon (if it hasn’t already,) and will air in half hour episodes on the Starz Channel, later this year.  Sam (Army of Darkness) Raimi will helm the initial episode.  And it appears that many members of the same team that made that film, are also involved here.  Gimme some sugar, baby.Amazon Prime has ordered a full series commitment after evaluating viewings of the pilot for The Man in the High Castle.  Based upon the 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, the story centers on an alternate history (set in ’62) wherein the Germans and the Japanese won the Second World War, and each control half The United States.  Man in the High CastleWhen tensions between these two sides rise, things get interesting, creating a highly complex story that won a Hugo Award in 1963.  According to Amazon’s VP Roy Price, The Man in the High Castle is the most watched pilot Amazon has yet produced.  And they’ve produced a lot of various pilot episodes of various shows.  The Man in the High Castle’s subsequent episodes will be available later this year to all Prime Members. … The 1982 comic Dreadstar is headed for television.  Benderspink and Universal Cable Productions are producing the live action pilot, without a current Network commitment.  The story centers on Vanth Dreadstar, the sole survivor of the Milky Way Galaxy, who teams up with a band of strange characters to stop an ancient war between two evil empires, from spreading throughout the Universe.  DreadstarJim Starlin, who created the character, will pen the screenplay.  Starlin is also the creator of a trio of characters featured in Guardians of the Galaxy: “Thanos,” his adopted daughter “Gamora,” and “Drax the Destroyer” … Writer George R.R. Martin has revealed that Producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones are about to completely mess with both readers, and TV viewers heads by killing off a number of characters on the show, who live on in the books.  Martin had the following to say, “People are going to die who don’t die in the books, so even the book readers will be unhappy.  So everybody better be on their toes.  David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are even bloodier than I am.” … 20th Century Fox TV and New Regency are developing what they call an “event series,” based upon the graphic novel, Enormous.  The story is set in a near future and involves an ecological crisis that spawns massive creatures.  No writers or Network commitment has been announced … David (Jurassic Park) Koepp has been hired by Sony Pictures to pen an adaptation of Sylvain Neuvel’s debut science fiction novel, The Themis Files.  The story concerns a covert project to assemble ancient body parts of a giant humanoid relic, buried long ago and all over the world, by aliens …  Warner Bros. hasn’t given up on that Space Invaders movie just yet.  They’ve hired writer Dan Kunka, author of a blacklisted screenplay that got a lot of attention, to re-draft the material based upon the classic early 80’s arcade game …   Warner Bros. is also developing a motion picture version of Adventure Time.  Roy Lee and Chris McKay (The Lego Movie) will produce, and series creator Pendleton Ward will co-write.  Originally a TV movie was in development in-between the show’s 4th and 5th Seasons, but was cancelled … Daniel Craig Lea Seydoux Dave BautistaAnd last but not least, the 24th Bond film, Spectre has started shooting, with Daniel Craig being joined by series regulars, and Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Christoph Waltz, and Dave (Guardians of the Galaxy) Bautista.  The story is said to involve a cryptic message from an unlikely source that sets down Bond inside a maze of a criminal organization.  As ‘M’ fights political pressure to shutter MI6, Bond uncovers a hidden truth that could destroy everything he fights to protect. SpectreHOW MANY ENTERTAINERS: ACTORS, DIRECTORS, WRITERS, PRODUCERS, DANCERS, SINGERS, what-have-ya, how many can you name (and trust me, you can count them on one hand,) how many can you name right now, without having to research the matter, thoroughly, that showed the integrity, the discipline, the sincerity, the dignity, and the poise that Leonard Nimoy did in his career ?  How many ?  Star roseI can name one or two off hand.  Sidney Poitier and George Pal.  After that, I start searching my memory, and eventually, I dodge my failing memory for that old Cinemania ’97 program that I have installed on my computer; which I consult regularly for research and the occasional adventurous foray into film history.  And while that wonderful tool may lead me to find a new list of potential treasures I haven’t seen, and though I may discover endlessly interesting personalities I was completely unfamiliar with, there aren’t many that stand out with a certain tangible integrity, or that shine with that simple honesty that is a person’s true and own character.  Most, are simply people who are paid to be artificial.  They keep their true nature to themselves.  Nimoy NikonAnd besides, who could blame them for getting lost in that unending cycle of publicity, pomp and circumstance, artificial humility, and a certain ‘when in Rome’ mentality, that affects all who work in such an industry.  But Nimoy seemed to sidestep all that jazz.  How ?  The man was the very portrait of how to be a professional actor.  ‘Nuff said, right ?. He was also known for being a terrific director.  Stop there ?  Photographer.  Writer.  Teacher.  Lecturer.  All of these are roles that are hard to master.  And according to many who knew him, he was also a good friend, a fair man, and a endlessly curious rascal, who most found difficult to hold a grudge against.  Was he simply meditating, or did he really learn that much from playing the character of Mr. Spock ?  To quote In Search of …, I suggest there must be, “some possible explanation, but not necessarily the only one, for the mystery we will examine.”  Nimoy Spock out of uniformLeonard Simon Nimoy was born in March of 1931, in Boston.  LennieHis parents were immigrants from what is now The Ukraine.  His father a barber, his mother a homemaker.   Their son (Lennie) began acting when he was 8 years old in a neighborhood theater.   After high school, he studied drama and photography, and received honorary doctorates from two different Universities.  Nimoy ArmyIn ’53 Nimoy enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, and as a Sergeant, he served in Army Special Services, helping put on shows for the troops.  Then he moved to Hollywood and did more than 50 small parts in various films and TV shows; generally as, ‘the heavy.’  He also took on ‘ethnic’ roles during an era when Hollywood sought out the scarce ethic talent they could find, to play any ethnic role they could accomplish on camera, with said actor.  He played everything from Italians, to Russians, to Mexicans, to Native Americans.  And throughout, he picked up extra money teaching acting classes, on the side.  spockBut Gene Roddenberry’s Wagon Train to the stars, made him first a star, then a pop culture phenomenon, and finally, a legend.  Star Trek was almost instantly popular.  Although at the time, no one at Lucille Ball’s company “Desilu,” or Paramount, or even NBC knew that.  There was press; there was lots of press.  But the sponsors just weren’t there.  Mainly because the “Nielsen Ratings” weren’t accurate.  nimoy catlowBut it was a great run for him, and he made great money for the term of the show’s run on television.  And after the show ended, he kept working.  First came Mission: Impossible, playing the master of disguise, “Paris.”  Then, the film Catlow (1971,) starring alongside Yul Brynner.  Rod Serling’s Night Gallery gave him his first opportunity to direct.  And he gave a calm, cool performance as a murdering surgeon in a terrific episode of Columbo, titled, ‘A Stitch in Crime.’  And there were plays, and commercials, and appearances on other television shows.  A Stitch in CrimeHis role as narrator on the mysteries of the unexplained show, In Search of… kept him in the public consciousness for some time.  Almost everyone who was alive at the time saw it in syndication, at least once.  His role as a psychiatrist in Philip Kaufman’s successful remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, remains a clear standout.  And there was more.  You can be sure of that.  He just – kept – workingLeonard Nimoy In Search OfAnd then, somewhere in the early to mid 70’s, Nimoy began spotting his likeness as “Spock” on billboards advertising alcohol.  He immediately started looking around and found that his likeness was being loaned out by Paramount to all matter of product placement.  Right across the board, “Spock” was everywhere.  And he looked just like Leonard Nimoy.  So Nimoy began the process of trying to get paid for that.  Which was a long, convoluted legal nightmare.  Both to get the residuals he was owed for co-opting his image, and as an attempt to influence some element of responsible control over what products the image endorsed.  Concurrent to this, Star Trek was coming back to life.  First, there had been an animated series.  Which, just like the original show, was massively more popular with the public than anyone knew at the time it was being produced.  Then, there had been conventions.  Small conventions that got BIG turnouts.  Thousands showed up.  Nobody saw that coming.  Including Nimoy, Shatner, Kelley, Doohan, Koenig, Takei, Nichols, et al.  Even Roddenberry, who had been attending Star Trek conventions almost since the day after the last episode aired on NBC, had no warning as to the mobs that would eventually begin descending on those later conventions.  Then, in 1976, Star Trek went into syndication.  And everyone was watching.  STTASIt was instantaneously one of the highest rated syndicated shows in television history.  Nielsen had finally fixed their unique system of establishing somewhat accurate numbers, that matched programs with television viewers.  And POW !  Paramount wanted the show back on the air.  Which is precisely what Gene Roddenberry had been trying to accomplish for some time.  But then suddenly, Paramount did an about face, deciding they would rather try this Star Trek thing out as a film.  In theaters, to be precise.  Thus, Roddenberry oversaw the initial development of a grand vision of a screenplay, and the studio developed a short list of directors for the project.  But when they threw bait into the water, the only bite they got, was from director Philip Kaufman.  Kaufman would eventually leave the project after clashing with Roddenberry over the script (he wanted Toshiro Mifune to play Kirk’s arch nemesis in the form of a Klingon Commander,) and once the script was deemed by the studio brass to have been developed “by committee,” it was summarily shelved.  But the script cooked up by Roddenberry and his writers, was a unique story idea.  Kirk and crew (including Spock,) arrive to investigate a planet sending out a distress signal.  The planet is phasing in and out of our dimension, in intervals.  After briefly clashing with the Klingons, Kirk and a few Red Shirts beam down.  The planet unexpectedly phases away, and doesn’t come back.  Through subspace radio, Starfleet instructs Spock, now in command, to wait.  A protracted period of time passes, but finally, Spock must leave orbit.  Three years pass and Spock and crew are unexpectedly ordered by Starfleet to return to the planet.  Passing ships keeping a wide berth of the area, have reported the planet’s recent reappearance.  Soon, Kirk is returned to the Enterprise with a whopper of a story about the planet’s human inhabitants, and the bizarre alien race (the Cygnans) that both control the planet, and steal the technology of other races for their own purposes.  STTMPBut Spock intuits that Kirk is not telling them everything.  He’s hiding something.  And this generates conflict between the two men.  When the Cygnans eventually realize they aren’t going to get what they want (the Enterprise,) they utilize technology stolen from another civilization to generate a wormhole singularity, which pulls the Enterprise in, along with their own planet.  The scenario resolves with the Cygnans being defeated, but with the Enterprise and it’s Crew in orbit around the planet, in another distant time and place in the Galaxy.  The planet is dramatically revealed to be Earth, now relocated to its present location, the solar system we all know so well.  Upon beaming down to check on the human inhabitants, Kirk introduces his crew to the ancient civilization of human inhabitants, in residence.  And then reveals to Spock evidence of the Sumerian culture, including the history of the Cygnan race’s rule over them, inscribed on tablets.  And the kicker … before departing, Kirk and his crew are heralded as Gods by the inhabitants, and its clear that the Enterprise crew are in fact the source of the mythical Greek Titans recorded in ancient human history.  Kirk and crew beam up, and head back through the wormhole singularity, to their own time and proper place in history; making calculations and getting ready to contact Starfleet for assistance in closing off the wormhole singularity, for good.  The film was to be titled, Star Trek: Planet of the TitansInvasion of the Body SnatchersNimoy read it, liked what he read, but inquired yet again about resolving the dispute over his likeness being used without his permission, and without being compensated.  Paramount were tired of hearing about this.  As it turned out, they never even asked legal about it.  They didn’t give a damn and assumed the situation would resolve itself without their intervention.  Bad judgement call.  Without Nimoy, they were dead in the water.  A Star Trek movie was never going to be the same without Mr. Spock, anymore than it would be the same without Captain Kirk.  But until the legal situation regarding his likeness being used as product placement without his consent, was resolved, Nimoy of course, just kept declining to participate.  And without the Spock character, Paramount were hesitant to pull the trigger.  So they merely kept Star Trek in development.  Languishing.  It was a film, then it was a TV series, then there was talk it would be a series of made for TV movies, ala Columbo.  Then it was a feature film, then it was a TV series again.  The execs at Paramount were just playing with the idea, really.  But there was no real momentum.  Finally, they pulled the trigger, and began pre-production on Star Trek: Phase IIPhase_II_Enterprise,_aftA television show wherein the Enterprise crew had been away for a short time, and change had come to Starfleet, life had moved on, and the Enterprise had been refit.  They contacted Nimoy.  He asked them if there was any progress on resolving the dispute over his likeness being used without proper compensation or permission.  Paramount terminated contact with the actor, and another Vulcan character was created to take Spock’s place.  The show would go on.  Supposedly.  Paramount kept things moving slowly.  And Roddenberry took his time developing scripts.  Sets were built, actors were cast.  And then … one day … on May 25th, 1977 … it hit.  Star Wars.  And reportedly, the executives at Paramount were stilted.  Both by the vision of the film they were all “required” by the Studio hierarchy to see, as well as by the box office receipts that rollllllled in, week after week.  Only days before it was scheduled to begin shooting, Star Trek: Phase II was put into turnaround.  The Paramount brass had to think this through.  And while almost everyone involved in the production of Phase II suspected they knew why, it wasn’t until Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released, that they found out for sure.  The studio now made no secret of what they wanted.  They wanted a “big idea.”  In fact, many at the studio were chatting endlessly about the dazzling effects in CE3K, as well as the compelling and emotional momentum of the film’s storyline.  And the executives were saying, “This could have been us!”  Now it was a certainty.  There was going to be a movie.  From here on, they were only looking at making a motion picture.  Finally, Roddenberry understood what they were after.  And when Roddenberry turned in a quick rewrite of Alan Dean Foster and Harold Livingston’s script for the pilot episode of Star Trek: Phase II, Paramount felt that this was the big idea they were waiting for, and the project was given a green light.  Within days, a young executive asked to meet with Leonard Nimoy.  Nimoy acquiesced, but during their lunch, refused to read the new script until the lawsuit was resolved.  They parted ways, amicably, and soon after Nimoy got the script, a letter of resolution regarding the lawsuit, and a check for past due residuals for the use of his likeness as Spock — and a promise that it would never happen again.  Star Trek-TMPNimoy opened the larger envelope, read the script, had a meeting with the director of The Andromeda Strain, Robert Wise, and agreed to sign on.  It goes without saying, that Star Trek: The Motion Picture not only had production problems, but that the film was never actually completed by the director.  (*Star Trek The Motion Picture was finally re-edited by Wise in 2001, utilizing CGI and sound effects that had been recorded by Alan Howarth in 1979, but never used.  The Director’s Edition, was much favored by director Wise over the theatrical release, and is currently available only on DVD.  Paramount is said to be working to bring it to Blu-ray.)  In fact, according to Robert Wise, the film that was released to theaters was in fact his workprint.  And according to Leonard Nimoy, when he asked the head of the studio at the film’s premiere in Washington D.C. how long they had to finish the film before it’s release, the head of the studio replied that as far as he was concerned the film was done, and scheduled to open in theaters the following Thursday.  Simultaneous to their conversation, employees of Paramount were actually already getting the release prints from the film lab, and lining them up in a large empty sound stage in preparation for delivery to the theaters.  Nimoy was crushed.  And shocked.  He simply assumed, ‘Oh well, on to the next thing, I guess.’  Cast members on set of Star Trek: The Motion PictureBut Star Trek had a funny way of hanging on.  Shockingly, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, already nicknamed “Star Trek The Motionless Picture” by critics; and at the time, the second most expensive motion picture ever made — right behind Superman – The Movieactually made money.  With a final budget that had ballooned to almost $46 Million dollars, the film still brought in close to $140 Million.  And in 1979-1980 business climate, a film had to make three times it’s budget to clear a profit and be considered a success.  Paramount didn’t get a windfall out of it, but the film cleared a profit, and would make them additional money in cable and other ancillary markets, nonetheless.  So the consensus among the staff at Paramount, was simply, ‘Let’s get the next one right.  And let’s get it cheap.’  Dumber words were never spoken by a studio executive in such ironic conundrum.  Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan CastStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was produced with the assistance of a television crew to keep costs down.  Nicholas Meyer, the writer and director of Time After Time (a time travel story about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper to the present in his time machine,) was brought aboard to give the film more life.  And he did.  st2He eschewed the tired cliched and boring pacing of early 70’s sci-fi that had dogged the first film, and looked for a fresh approach that would appeal the both Star Trek fans and the Star Wars generation.  He screened episodes of the Original Series, and discovered Ricardo Montalban’s character in the episode, “Space Seed.”  Then, he made the creative decision to take inspiration from Captain Horatio Hornblower, and instantly, Star Trek II (originally titled “The Undiscovered Country,”) was off and running.  There was only one problem.  Although Nimoy loved his character, he didn’t want to “only” be associated with it.  Spock hadn’t wrecked his career, but the Vulcan had definitely limited his options and opportunities.  Due mainly to the stigma inherently associated with typecasting.  So Meyer met with Nimoy, and asked, “How would you like to have a really good death scene?”  Nimoy was hooked.  nimoy and meyerAnd when news of Spock’s death leaked, Meyer and the film’s producer came up with a fun solution.  Fake the death of Spock early in the film, belaying the audiences expectation of it, and then hit them with that zinger in the last reel.  When another obstacle emerged, the producers dodged it with ease, as well.  The studio felt “Undiscovered Country” was too vague and irrelevant to the plot, so Meyer and Producer Harve Bennett changed the title to Star Trek II: The Revenge of Khan.  However, as soon as that title was announced, Paramount got calls from attorneys for Lucasfilm and 20the Century Fox Film Corporation.  “That’s too similar to the title of our next Star Wars film, ‘Revenge of the Jedi.’”  So Star Trek II became The Wrath of Khan, and 6 months later Revenge of the Jedi became Return of the Jedi.  Yea, thanks for calling.  Everyone involved thought the surprises were over.  Until they screened the completed film for the first time, and the director saw that his ending had been altered by Paramount.  There it was.  Spock’s shiny new torpedo coffin, resting on the surface of a planet that was created by a device designed to regenerate life from death.  All they could do was laugh.  Even Nimoy thought it was hilarious.  The movie was a hit.  And those who made it accepted that their Frankenstein monster was in fact, a real beauty.  And judging by the profits it made in June of 1982, every kid in every neighborhood saw it.  More than once, in fact.     Star Trek III The Search for Spock CastNimoy knew there would be a sequel.  And he knew what the fans were going to want it to be about.  So he moved quickly to get a meeting with Paramount, and told them that he wanted to direct the next film.  They balked at that.  Although Nimoy had, by that time, been working here and there as a director (mostly in television,) a had acquired a reputation for being a true professional — Star Trek III was slated to be a major feature film.  With a sizable budget, to match.  Leonard Nimoy Robin Curtis William ShatnerThey weren’t sure he could handle the responsibility that came with the monolithic task of directing a major motion picture.  Nimoy argued that he knew the character of Spock, knew Star Trek, and that he knew they needed Spock to be the momentum of the next story.  And Leonard Nimoy direct’s The Search for Spock, had a nice ring to it.  But Paramount still had reservations.  Finally, Nimoy dropped a bomb on them.  Either he directed Star Trek III, or this was the last conversation they were ever going to have with him again.  Star Trek III: The Search for Spock wasn’t as much of a critical success as the the previous film, but it was the 10th highest grossing film of 1984.  And whereas Star Trek II had made $79 Million, Star Trek III had made $76 Million.  Not bad, as far as diminishing returns goes.  But it wasn’t really Leonard Nimoy’s film.  The storyline was mostly cooked up by Producer Harve Bennett, with generous suggestions from the Studio brass.  And as a direct result, it was a very uneven storyline.  And while being entirely watchable (certainly for Star Trek fans,) it nevertheless had retained no semblance of spirit of what had made the previous film so incredibly popular.  But regardless, Leonard Nimoy’s work as a director, shined through.  And Nimoy was immediately asked back to helm the next film.  The studio told him, “the training wheels are off.  We want your Star Trek film.”  STAR TREKStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home was one of the most successful films of 1986, generating over $100 Million, and remains one of the most critically and commercially successful films in the history of the Star Trek franchise.  But it was something else: the most accessible to non-Trekkies.  And that was alllll Nimoy.  He wanted to lighten things up.  The first Star Trek film was pretentious to the point of boredom.  The second one was a bit gritty, and featured the death of a major player.  The third was was operatic, and featured the death of Captain Kirk’s only son.  Nimoy felt the fourth one should have something to say, but should also be light.  Even frivolous.  STIV Voyage HomeStill dealing with interference from Paramount, the initial draft was a retread on their biggest hit at that time, Beverly Hills Cop.  It featured a “fish-out-of-water” team-up between the crew of the Starship Enterprise, and Eddie Murphy.  And reportedly, the script came off as a Mad Magazine parody, similar in may ways to comedian Richard Pryor being wedged into the plot of Superman III.   Supes coming Supes goneThankfully, Murphy bowed out to do The Golden Child.  A film he later regretted making, stating, “I just walked through Golden Child.  I would have been better off doing Star Trek IV.”  Soon after he departed, Nimoy called the cavalry: Nicholas Meyer.  And the rest is movie history.  Thanks in large part to screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, and the one and only Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the one Star Trek film that everybody saw.  No matter who they were.  Star Trek had finally generated a story that appealed to the general movie going public.  And for a brief moment in time, those cult-like walls had come down, changing the fan base to include just about anyone and everyone.  It was a magical moment for Star Trek fans.  But it didn’t last.  As stated, the fourth film cleaned up at the box office, during the ’86 holiday season.  And by January, Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner had requested a meeting with the Paramount studio brass.  And as it had been agreed during secret contract negotiations for Star Trek IV, Shatner would indeed direct VStar Trek V PosterDuring production of the fifth film, Nimoy serviced as a consultant and confidant to his friend, but the film, and it’s story, was Shatner’s creation.  Nimoy had climbed into the backseat and made no derogatory comments about Captain Kirk’s driving skills.  The film was about the Starship Enterprise being hijacked by a religious evangelist who believes the intelligent source of all creation lies just beyond a barrier separating the outer areas of our Galaxy, from the large middle interior mid section thingy place, of our Galaxy.  Notice how awkward that sounds.  I did that on purpose; that’s what it’s like watching the movie.  And while fans had high hopes (based primarily on the teaser poster seen at right,) the film was a flop for Paramount.  And dependent on what sources you cite, the film cost just over $30 Million (much of it not even on the screen, due to some rather badly produced effects,) and had only made somewhere between $52 and $63 Million.  While Paramount’s other big summer release that year, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, cleaned up at the box office, the Studio essentially took a bath in red ink on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  The cast, including Nimoy, initially thought it was the end of Star Trek, once and for all.  Then, Paramount called again.  No kidding.  Literally days after the failure of the film was official, the head of Paramount called Leonard Nimoy.  “We want to do something for the Anniversary coming up.”  Nimoy quickly, and wisely, suggested Paramount also contact writer/director Nicholas Meyer (a prime factor in the success of both Star Trek II and Star Trek IV,) and put the two of them get together to toss around some ideas.  Trek 6So, on a long walk on the beach somewhere on the East Coast, Nimoy and Meyer chatted.  The Berlin Wall had come down in ’89, and and one of them (Nimoy says it was him, Meyer says it was him,) offered that there could be a Klingon parallel.  As originally planned by both men, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Meyer finally got to use his title) was to be an expansive, big budget 1970’s style political thriller in space; with shades of Rod Serling and John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, in the background.  But Roddenberry was displeased with the direction and tone of the film.  As well as many of the plot contrivances.  And Paramount wanted to keep Roddenberry happy for the upcoming Anniversary.  On top of that, and for reasons unknown, Paramount quickly began slicing away at the film’s budget.  Star Trek VI storyboardA lengthy scene that came hot-on-the-heels of Captain Sulu’s observance of the destruction of a Klingon moon that was a prime energy producer for the entire Klingon economy, had to be cut.  Kirk was to be reactivated and sent to round up his retired crew.  He knows where Scotty is, so he tears him away from teaching a class in a Starfleet Academy hanger, utilizing the Bird of Prey from Star Trek III and Star Trek IV.  (Storyboard seen above.)  Scotty knows that Uhura is commuting to Mars to host a radio program, so they rescue her from utter boredom, leaving the mic open in their wake.  Next, they tear Chekov away from a chess game he’s loosing in Russia, and then, the group find Dr. McCoy drunk at a social gathering.  This all had to go.  And as mandated by Paramount, via Gene Roddenberry, the Seven Days in May subplot had to go, as well.  So no reason for the military ribbons on some of the uniforms of some of the Starfleet personnel is ever given.  The story behind that was that several months before the events of the film, the Military had re-organized and attempted a political coup to take over Starfleet.  It failed and the Military was simply ingested into the Starfleet ranks.  It made for great political intrigue and added more ingredients and red herrings to the plot.  But it was gone.  Then, there were small moments that cast doubt on many members of the Enterprise crew.  Did they possibly have a motive to get involved in sabotaging a peace summit between the Klingons and the Federation ?  Roddenberry wanted that gone, too.  Then, there was the massive battle at the end of the film, that involved a cloaked Klingon ship attacking the Enterprise, only to be set upon by the Excelsior, and then surprisingly, by another Klingon ship, and also a Romulan ship.  All four ships playing cat and mouse with a cloaked ship they cannot see, moving about the battlefield freely.  The effects for that alone constituted about $11 Million of the films budget.  Paramount simply told Nicholas Meyer, you no longer have $35 Million, you have $18, do what you can.  The result was a movie that is a shell of its former self.  Really.  A good film, but not the great film it could have been.  Not by far.  Nimoy, however, like all involved, enjoyed the reunion, and the chance to build a Trek film that would leave a better lasting impression that Star Trek V.  And now, finally, it was over.  Right ?  Nope.  Nimoy rightfully turned down a walk-on in Star Trek: Generations, due mainly to a badly designed script and opening scene.  (Shatner did the film and they reportedly shot his character in the back, before Paramount saw the scene and made them reshoot it; giving Kirk a more dignified death.)  But between audio book recordings, convention appearances, funny commercials, and even two returning appearances in J.J. Abrams Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, “Mr. Spock” never really parted ways with Leonard Nimoy.  ST into darkOver the years, he had written two separate books about his relationship with the fictional character.  “I’m Not Spock (1975,)” and “I Am Spock (1995).”  The first was highly controversial among Star Trek fans, but both sold well.  This added ‘Author’ to his colorful resume, and multifaceted career.  He even helped produce a comic book: Primortals.  And he made regular appearances on both The Simpsons and FuturamaHe never stopped working.  Even after he announced his retirement, Leonard Nimoy made appearances on Fringe, The Big Bang Theory, and others.  Nimoy The SimpsonsHe was a constant success, and truly a positive example to anyone wishing to achieve such success.  And, he was a man filled with philosophical insight and wisdom.  You only had to listen.  Without a certain journal, or road map of the man’s intentions in life, I am not certain of his personal goals, or his general target of accomplishment.  But I can say one thing for certain.  Lennie hit whatever he was aiming at.SpockIt !