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 !

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Log Entries: 08/27/2013

Supes Vs. BatsIN MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL NEWS, the sequel is Superman Vs. Batman.  And yes, that is the title.  And actor Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, has reportedly been cast as Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor.  Walter((As of 09/01, Cranston is currently denying this report.))  Cranston reportedly signed a deal that includes up to 6 appearances as the character, with the intention of him appearing in a variety of films, such as Justice League.  Warner Bros. is reportedly waiting until the finale of Breaking Bad airs to make a formal announcement.  In other surprising casting news, the role of Batman was recently filled by Warner Bros. Execs. with none other than Ben Affleck. Affleck Bats In a prepared statement, Warner Bros. Studios President Greg Silverman said, “We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some.”  Director Zak Snyder released the following statement:  “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.” And Snyder added, “I can’t wait to work with him.”  In any case, as soon as Affleck was cast, the internet EXPLODED with commentary.  Most of it negative.  The most amusing being petitions to stop Warners from using Affleck in the role.  One at Change.org topped 40,000 signatures.  And another went up on the White House website, asking President Obama to “denounce the selection of Ben Affleck.”  That petition has since been pulled from the site, due to violating the White House web-site’s moderation policy.  Very amusing.  The film, slated to be released in the Summer of 2015, takes inspiration from the match-up between the two powerful superheroes within the pages of Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns.”  How, you might ask, can Batman fight Superman.  Well simple, in Miller’s story, Batman has a special suit that increases his strength to the approximate level of Superman.  Dark Knight ReturnsUnder those terms, seems like it could make for a good match.  David S. Goyer is currently co-writing the story with director Zack Snyder, and production is expected to start sometime next year.  All principals from Man of Steel are expected to return. …  AND WARNER BROS. HAVE REPLACED BEN AFFLECK as the director of the remake of Stephen King’s The Stand.  Scott (Crazy Heart) Cooper will now re-write and direct the post-apocalyptic story.  Warner Bros. has teamed up with CBS Films on this project, produced by Roy Lee and Mosaic. … IN JURASSIC PARK SEQUEL NEWS, strange as it may seem given a prior statement by Universal Pictures that the fourth installment of the franchise would be delayed, according to multiple sources, this now doesn’t seem to be the case.  Those sources are reporting that Jurassic Park 4, or whatever it will be titled, is now scheduled to begin production next year.   JP4isComingDirector Colin Trevorrow recently participated in a podcast, wherein he discussed some of the rumors spamming the internet.  Said Trevorrow, “I saw some of the rumors on the internet and I would have all kinds of red flags going off if I heard they were going to muzzle a T-Rex. So I would say don’t believe everything you read, there are way more insiders on the internet than there are in real life.”   Trevorrow also stated, “It’s important to make a movie for the fans but I also have to remember that there’s a lot of people who just couldn’t care less and need me to make a solid case for why the hell there’s a ‘Jurassic Park 4’ in the first place and I want to make a movie for them too.”Steven Spielberg & Sam NeillIN OTHER JURASSIC NEWS, the original Jurassic Park, recently re-released in 3D, has made approximately $90 Million around the world.  In China alone, the 3D version of the film has taken in almost thirty million dollars.  This brings the film’s total lifetime box office gross to just over one billion dollars … ANNNND THE TITLE OF THE NEXT PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN FILM IS … Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.  The title will be familiar to those who’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  Heard here at the 4:16 mark:

It is the first echoing statement heard, and possibly voiced by a ghost, as the boat makes its way into the underground river tunnel.  The film has been written by Jeff (Catch Me If You Can, Rush Hour 2, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) Nathanson, and will be directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.  The film is scheduled to begin production in January of 2014 for a July 10, 2015 release. …  Sean Young in Blade RunnerRESPONDING TO QUESTIONS ABOUT HER FEELINGS ON THE FORTHCOMING BLADE RUNNER SEQUEL, actress Sean Young has stated, “Mmm, let’s see. Alcon –  they’re the ones that own it and apparently they have Ridley to direct it — and when I met with them they didn’t make any offer-plans to include me. And when I called Ridley Scott’s office, he doesn’t call me back. So I guess they’re going to go, like, prequel or…I don’t know what they’re going to do. But my official opinion is that, if they don’t include me in it, everybody should boycott it. Because it’s stupid not to have me in it. It’s really stupid. That’s my opinion! I mean, you try to tell people something sensible in Hollywood and sometimes they just don’t listen, you know. And they usually pay the price too, because everybody’s an expert.”  … IN STAR WARS NEWS, Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek cinematographer Dan Mindel, will lense Star Wars Episode VII for director J.J. Abram.  And although it is good to hear that the movie will in fact be shot on film (Kodak 35mm stock 5219,) and not digital tape, it nonetheless appears that Kathleen Kennedy’s promise that J.J.’s customary lens flares and other photographic effects, will in fact come into play.  Mindel’s next film to be released in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, due in theaters next May.  And while the new Star Wars film is rumored to have been pushed back to a Christmas of 2015 release date, as opposed to a summer release, it has been revealed that shooting will begin on Tuesday, January 21st, of next year. … HALLELUJAH AND REJOICE, WE GOTS THE WILLIAMS !  John Williams recently confirmed that he has signed to score the next Star Wars film.  At the recent Star Wars Celebration Event, Producer and Executive for Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy commented, “I had breakfast with someone very important to the Star Wars family on Friday, and has committed to being involved in the next three films, and that is Mr. John Williams.”  Williams discusses further in the interview recently released to the internet below:

IN CASTING NEWS, THE EMPEROR HIMSELF, actor Ian McDiarmid is currently rumored to be returning for a brief role in the film.  EmperorAnd though the nature of his role or confirmation of the existence of the role, have not been confirmed, speculation is rampant that McDiarmid will reprise the role of the Emperor in the guise of one of the Emperor’s clones.  A scene originally written and storyboarded for Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, but later excised before shooting.  Confirmed by an illustration in the book “The Art of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.” … ObiWanGhost1A SECOND RUMOR involves actor Ewan McGregor returning to possibly play Obi-Wan Kenobi in ghost form, seeing as how Alec Guiness is not available.  ObiWanGhost2The rumor expands upon itself to suggest McGregor will be wearing a partial make-up appliance to help him better resemble Guiness … KATHLEEN KENNEDY RECENTLY ATTENDED STAR WARS CELEBRATION, a convention for all things Star Wars regularly frequented by more than 20,000 people, and she had plenty to say on the progression of the project and the general tools being used to make the film.  Said Kennedy, “The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now,” said Kennedy. “We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing. I do think making huge popular culture – and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot of it – is really hard to do and get right. And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again.” STAR WARS CELEBRATION EUROPE Kennedy also stated that the new film will in fact involve real locations, as well as special effects.  “It’s a conversation we’re having all the time in the development of ‘Episode VII.’ Looking at all the Star Wars movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects – that’s something we’re looking very seriously at. So we’re going to find some very cool locations that we’re going to use in support of ‘Episode VII.’ And I think we’re probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies.” Kathy1Kennedy also affirmed Abrams use of model makers, real droids, and things that the actors can touch and feel, and that she is currently dividing her time between Lucasfilm and Abram’s company, Bad Robot, where she’s having story meetings with the director and writing team.  Please note she did state writers plural. Kathy2 It now appears that Michael Arnt is no longer writing the script alone. The final bit of news from Star Wars Celebration was that Celebration VII will be held in Anaheim, California, April 16 through the 18th, in 2015. …  AND WHILE HE REMAINS MUM ON THE FATE OF HAN SOLO, as far as Harrison Ford is concerned, Indiana Jones ain’t dead yet.  The fifth film, originally expected to be fast tracked after the fourth was so financially successful, has lingered in development hell for several years now.  Reportedly waiting for George Lucas to find a story.  Indiana Jones 4

But Ford isn’t giving up that easy.  “We’ve seen the character develop and grow over a period of time and it’s perfectly appropriate and okay for him to come back again with a great movie around him where he doesn’t necessarily have to kick as much ass,” Ford said “To me, what was interesting about the character was that he prevailed, that he had courage, that he had wit, that he had intelligence, that he was frightened and that he still managed to survive. That I can do.”  SPEAKING OF HARRISON FORD, although this blog doesn’t normally report on straight action films, without a science fiction or fantasy slant, this is of intriguing interest to fans of actors Harrison Ford and/or Bruce Willis.  Actor/director Sylvester Stallone recently tweeted the following in respect to Expendables 3:  “WILLIS OUT… HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!”  Expendables 3 will be directed by Patrick Hughes and will arrive in theaters, August of next year. … IN JAMES BOND NEWS, Daniel Craig has commented on the nature of the next film, mainly it’s similarity to some of the older Connery films.  GQ-UKSaid Craig, “Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony, and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche. I can’t do shtick, I’m not very good at it. Unless it kind of suddenly makes sense. Does that make sense? I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it.”  Skyfall director Sam Mendes has been signed to helm the next film, now being written by John (Gladiator) Logan.  The film is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in November of 2015. …  THE UPCOMING LEGEND ON CONAN, which plans to sequelize the initial outings starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the company producing the film, Paradox Entertainment’s Fredrik Malmberg, just the tip of the iceberg.  And apparently the highly popular cable fantasy show, Game of Thrones, had a big impact on that decision.  Said Malmberg,  “We have a great story.  Everyone loves it. This is a role that’s perfect for [Arnold] and he’s very involved with the whole Universal team. Arnold has been very instrumental to bringing this together saying, ‘We gotta make a good Conan!’ I think if we do this right, we can do two more Conan movies right after.  GofTI think Game Of Thrones also shows a huge interest in fantasy. I’m psyched about it.”  Malmberg also commented on the new film’s storyline, “The idea is that this takes place “after” Conan has been king. But this is the legend of Conan where he has been gone and people say, ‘do you remember the good ol’ days when Conan was around?’ And now it’s time for him to come back. In the stories — and you can also see it when he’s sitting on the thrown and the narration on that last scene of the movie…’with a troubled brow’ …you can tell he’s not really happy being king. So, it’s time for him to go out and do battle.”  Malmberg also expressed the team’s interest in what they can now do with today’s technology that could not be done in the early 80’s, during production of the original film.  “With today’s production values, we can probably do a lot more with what they were doing way back then. I mean we have seen what Peter Jackson has done. I think of course this is probably more grounded and less fantastical with less creatures and CG monsters. Conan, BarbarianWe want to have some of that fantastical world but we don’t want it to become a complete fantasy because what really set Conan the Barbarian apart from all the other fantasy movies is that this feels like our prehistoric earth. Still, we want to make it full of splendor … It’s on the table and it’s a big studio picture and a big event movie. I wouldn’t rule it out but right now, all we’re concentrating on is the story. It’s a working machine with everyone and marketing people. The president over there at Universal Pictures is Jeffery Kirschenbaum, and he’s one of the top two executive producers and he has a huge position there at Universal and he’s always been a huge Conan fan. ‘I want to make Conan,’ he’s said many times. And it was Universal who launched the first film with Arnold. Now the constellation is aligning.”  Malmberg further commented on the creative team involved in bring the film to life.  “We’re doing the script and it’s by the whole ‘Fast and the Furious’ team, which is great for a power position of the studio because they’re extremely successful – it was the biggest movie and if anyone knows how to build a franchise, it is that team. It’s Chris Morgan and Jeffery Kirschenbaum, the head of Universal. Arnold is very excited. It’s just in the phase where it takes a lot of work to get the script just right …” … TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HELD A 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY PANEL FOR X-FILES at the San Diego Comic-Con this year.  The Pilot episode of the first season premiered this years, that’s right twenty – years – ago.  Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one that snuck up on.  In attendance were, of course, series creator Chris Carter, actor David Duchovny, actress Gillian Anderson, and former writer Vince (Breaking Bad) Gilligan.  Two questions were the elephants in the room.  1. will there be a new TV series ?  Scully herself shot that one down, quickly, by stating that she would not reprise her role for a new series.  2. will there be a third X-Files film ?  And the answer …?  Duchovny and Anderson both voiced positive interest in making another film. Said Anderson, “A film would be great.”  While Carter had the following to say, “You need a reason for going on and getting excited,” he said, then adding that the crowd’s response was, “very inspirational.” 2013 Comic-Con International Day 1- X-Files 20th anniversary Anderson later auctioned off one of those cardboard cutouts of herself and Duchovny as their characters.  Whilst doing so, Duchovny deadpanned, “This is how we’re going to get the movie made by the way!”  Anderson quickly added, “This is our Kickstarter.”  A few weeks later, Carter had this to say when again asked about the possibility of another X-Files film.  “I think all of us are interested in putting the band back together. I have an idea for a third movie in my head. The colonization date has passed and that is something we wouldn’t ignore. For the second movie, we only had the budget for a standalone story, but we want to go back to the mythology.”  Carter also commented that he wishes to make an addition to the cast.  Gillian [Anderson] worked with Simon Pegg on a movie and told me that he was a big fan. We actually thought about putting him in the second movie, but there was no part for him. I certainly would think about him if we were to go forward in any way.” … SPEAKING OF X-FILES CREATOR CHRIS CARTER, his new show The After will soon be seen on the small screen — or rather the computer screen.  Amazon picked up the pilot, a post-apocalyptic drama that takes place the moment after the apocalypse.  Carter will write and direct the pilot, which joins several other shows which will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime … IN AVATAR NEWS, James Cameron has hired author Steven Charles Gould (he wrote the book the teleportation sci-fi film, Jumper was based upon) to write four stand-alone novels based upon and expanding Cameron’s Avatar world.Pandora Writer/Director Cameron made an official statement, reading in part, “Steven Gould is one of the shining lights in contemporary science fiction, and I’ve long admired the worlds and characters he’s created in his books and stories. We’re very fortunate to have Steven bring his formidable talents to the ‘Avatar’ universe. He is already working closely with me and the screenwriters to flesh out the expanding world of ‘Avatar.‘”  Cameron himself is currently co-writing not one, not two, but THREE new Avatar movies, with screenwriters Josh (War of the Worlds) Friedman, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Shane Salemo (Oliver Stone’s Savages.)  And Cameron had this to say on his abrupt turnabout from initially announcing two Avatar sequels, then scaling down to only one film, then scaling back up again to THREE films.  Said Cameron: “Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen.”   The three sequels are planned to be shot back-to-back, starting sometime next year.  The first will be released December of 2016, the second December 2017, and the third December 2018. … AND WHAT ABOUT BATTLE ANGEL?  Cameron’s long in gestation adaptation of “Battle Angel Alita.”  Well according to Cameron, he plans to begin development on the project in 2017, and says that the themes of trans-human exploration have haunted him for years.  So for those waiting for Battle Angel, don’t hold your breath. …  DIRECTOR JON M. CHU (G.I. Joe Retaliation) recently commented further on his forthcoming Masters of the Universe movie for Mattel and Sony.  “I think that what helps us is knowing what we do in ‘Joe’ (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and knowing that ‘Masters’ has to be very different and has to feel very different, but the script for ‘Masters of the Universe’ is what really hooked me,” said Chu, “I love ‘Masters of the Universe,’ but I didn’t know necessarily how to make it into a movie until I read the script and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I totally see it. I get how this is going to shake it up, I get how this is different from any other thing,’ and it got me really really excited. We’re still working on that one and ‘Joe’ has momentum right now. He-Man and BattlecatThe audience has been great and they want another one, so we’re rushing to get that done and Dwayne has a certain time period so it may end up that ‘Joe’ goes first in all those things and I don’t know if ‘Masters of the Universe’ will wait for me or where that’s going to end up. But right now it’s been great. We’ve been designing a ton of stuff for ‘Masters of the Universe’ as a really beautiful, grounded, honest world – that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s everything you want ‘Masters of the Universe’ to be in terms of the fantasy but not in a way theatrical crazy way. It is actually a gorgeous world that we’re doing in the initial visual concepts that we’ve been making.” … IN MARVEL NEWS, actor Bradley (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) Cooper has been hired to voice Rocket Racoon for Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film.  And actor Vin Diesel has been recruited to voice the character of Groot.  Racoon & GrootShooting on the film has been well underway for a couple of months now, and the big budget science fiction comic book spectacular is scheduled for release on August 1st of next year. Composer Tyler Bates (Watchmen, 300) has been hired to score the film, written and directed by James (Slither, Super) Gunn. … MARVEL’S CREATIVE CONSULTANT, and comic book writer, and general guru, Mark Millar, recently made an interesting statement regarding the possibility of a future X-Men film featuring The Fantastic Four. Said Millar, “Without question I think you have to see some of these guys showing up in each others movies. Fantastic Four #28 I think the most exciting thing in superhero movies, until The Avengers came along, was when Nick Fury showed up in Iron Man. Even though it was a guy with an eye patch it was really cool – and I expect we will see more of that.”  X-Men: Days of Future Past unveils its wonders May of next year, and the Fantastic Four reboot is currently targeted for release in March of 2015. … WRITER/DIRECTOR JOSS WHEDON has been talking a lot about Avengers: Age of Ultron lately.  Regarding the film’s tone, he had the following to say, “It’s a little bit darker than the other film, because Ultron is in the house there’s a science fiction element that I think is a little bit stronger than the other film. Getting the team together was so rousing, but seriously, keeping the team together is a completely different problem.”  Avengers Age of UltronThe film’s writer/director also added, “It’s very much a global Avengers film, a lot of the movie has to do with their place not only in America but in the world.”  Whedon has also commented on Black Widow, and how she fits into the ensemble of the Avengers sequel.  Said Whedon, “Natasha (Black Widow) is a huge part of the sequel because you do want to concentrate on the people who don’t have their own franchises. Although she is in ‘Cap 2,’ [and] she’s great. She was the most fun for me because she’s not a hero, you know, and it’s something that I read—and I feel bad that I can’t remember who wrote the book—but it’s in one of the books explaining, ‘These guys are heroes, you are a spy. It’s a different thing—it’s a different skill set—and you don’t have their moral high ground or any of that good stuff.’ And that just makes her so interesting to me. So yeah, the stuff I’ve got going on with her in the second one is killer.”  BWidBlack Widow can next be seen in the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier, due April 4, 2014.   Regarding Scarlett Witch (rumored to be played by Elizabeth Olsen,) Whedon had this to say about making the character’s awkward costume work on screen: “She might wear a headband or something that might echo it. The guys at Marvel, the conceptual artists, are phenomenal, and they are so good at taking the essence of what works and interpreting it for the actual human body, and when they paint something you can not only tell how it’s gonna work on a person, you can even tell what fabric it’ll be. They are very specific, very talented. So I’m excited to see the designs. Obviously we want to echo the look that people know, but there’s the classic look and the Ultimates look, but you have to do it in a way that will work. But it can’t be too old school… she can’t wear a leotard.”  Scarlett WitchAnd regarding Agent Phil Coulson, who died in the The Avengers, and yet lives on in a new TV Series soon to be seen on ABC, Whedon had this to say: “He could (return). Right now it’s not something I’m pursuing because I have so much going on in ‘Avengers 2.’ Finding out that Coulson is alive would be an entire B story. And I already have too much movie. That’s better than the other thing.”  In the end, Whedon left the return of Coulson up to Marvel Studios and their new show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Where Coulson’s return will undoubtedly be explained on ABC, Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m.   And according to Whedon, Avengers: Age of Ultron begins shooting, “End of February, beginning of March. We’ll be shooting in London, London will be the base for Avengers 2.”  The film is scheduled to open in theaters, May 1st, 2015. … Cap AmCAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER CO-DIRECTOR JOE RUSSO spoke about how the new film fits into Marvel’s Phase 2, and leads right into Avengers: Age of Ultron“There’s a very strong connection in the narrative between the events of the end of “Avengers” that drive this film — and there’s a very strong hand off to “Avengers 2″ at the end of this movie. And Kevin Feige’s whole thing is that this is the biggest bridge of all of Phase 2 movies; it really is. It does involve the most amount of Avengers of any of the films in Phase 2, and it has sort of a, you know, there’s a very big shift in the universe at the end of this movie.”  Co-directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Captain America: Winter Soldier arrives on April 4th of next year. … AND SAMUEL L. JACKSON spoke recently about Nick Fury’s place in the new Captain America film. “You see Nick Fury the office guy, him going about the day-to-day work of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the politics as opposed to that other stuff. It’s great to have him dealing with Captain America in terms of being able to speak to him soldier to soldier and try to explain to him how the world has changed in another way while he was frozen in time.  Nick Mutherf---in FurySome of the people who used to be our enemies are now our allies — him trying to figure out, “Well, how do we trust those guys?” or “How do we trus the guys that you didn’t trust who don’t trust you? And explaining to him that the black and white of good guys/bad guys has now turned into this gray area. Nick lies to him all the time, too. But he’s trying to help him navigate the waters of the new sharks that he doesn’t know anything about.”  Jackson also commented on Robert Redford’s character in the sequel. “He’s part of that World Security Council I was talking to in (The Avengers), just he wasn’t there. We also know each other because we’ve been comrades for a very long time. There’s some stuff that’s said that gives you an idea of how he’s been part of that environment for a long time and the kind of guy he was.” … BRYAN SINGER sought to clear the air on where his upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past really fits within the timeline established by previous films.  Said Singer, “It takes place about ten years, give or take, after X-Men 3; and in the past it takes place about ten years after First Class.  I’d say it’s not a sequel to one of the others. It’s an inbetwequel — that’s what I call it, for lack of a better word.”    Singer added that the film, “…takes place in the future and the past and then all over the world, from Russia to China, then France, and Washington, New York.  It’s got scope, but most of the scope is in the breadth of the story.”  The film opens May 23, next summer.  By the way, Singer also tweeted an image of Trask Industries initial Sentinel design.  Which in the comics gets bigger in iterations over the years, until the massive 50 foot versions are sent back through time to wreak havoc.  Whether or not that aspect of the Sentinels, that larger version of the robots that comic fans have been familiar with since the 1960’s, will factor into Singer’s film is still unknown.  However, here is the Sentinel as Bryan Singer sees it.  In all its majesty.

AND SPEAKING OF MARVEL, Stan Lee will soon be appearing on his own Mars Attacks! card, courtesy of The Topps Company and Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.  Only available at Comikaze in Los Angeles, the card, painted by Joe Jusko and titled, “Stan Strikes!” will be given out free on a first come, first serve basis.  They are limited to 2,500 and I’m sure they’ll go fast, so get there early.  Topps will actually be on hand to promote “Mars Attacks: Invasion.”  A revival of the classic card series, featuring an all-new story, based on the original card series.  Mars Attacks !  Stan Lee Fights Back !The new set will be on sale at the Topps booth, along with a limited edition print of Joe Jusko’s Stan Lee card.  As Stan would say, “Get ’em while the gettin’s good, Marvelites!”  For more info on Comikaze in Los Angeles: www.comikazeexpo.com.  For additional info on the new Mars Attacks card series: www.facebook.com/MarsAttacks…. WELL GODZILLA IS COMING … AGAIN.  And director Garth (Monsters) Edwards had this to say in a recent interview about the film, written by Frank (The Shawshank Redemption, The Myst) Darabount.  “Not many people have seen Monsters, but if anyone who did see it and liked it and came to see Godzilla, I hope when they left they’d say, I can tell it’s the same filmmaker.  When we did Monsters, I was doing all of the visual FX myself so there was a limit to how many creatures I can show, to the benefit of the film.  Godzilla, I don’t have that limitation and will be a lot more epic.  But it was really important to me, at the heart of this film, there were characters we cared about. Godzilla“We tried to find the right story and path through this Godzilla universe where the characters were connected to the events in the movie where it didn’t feel forced and would also get you to the places in the story you wanted to experience.  They were tagged on but embedded in the journey of the movie.  I’m really pleased with what we came up with.  A lot of the actors, I think, got on board because they had an emotional connection with the people which was one of the goals when we set out to do this.” …avengelyne #3COMIC BOOK ARTIST ROB LIEFELD’S AVENGELYNE is steadily headed toward a big screen adaptation.  And Haywire star Gina Carano has singed on for a series of films based upon the character.  The film is being developed into a franchise similar to the Underworld films, featuring Carano as a fallen angel fighting off demons and monsters.  Agengelyne made her first appearance in Image Comics in 1995. … AND LIEFELD HAS ONE OTHER PROJECT IN DEVELOPMENT.  A little something called X-Force.  Oh, yea, you read that right — Cable is coming to the big screen.  Jeff (Kick-Ass 2) Wadlow is attached to write and direct the film.  X-Force #1Part of the Marvel universe, the militant group was designed as a distant future version of the X-Men in the early 1990’s by Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, and quickly became very popular.  The roster included: Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Warpath, and Deadpool, etc.  On a recent publicity tour for Kick-Ass 2, director Wadlow had this to say about X-Force: “Tonally it will fit in, quite well with all the other movies… but then I think the other movies cover a wide range of tones. It’s certainly not going to be tonally similar to Kick-Ass…I hope it will have what fans of X-Force will expect. I think it will be a little edgier, I think you’ll see some characters with different takes on what it means to be a mutant. There will be some grey areas that the movies haven’t yet been explored. It won’t be as “overt.” This movie is more about the grey areas in between. I’m going to take some big ideas from the X-universe and flip them, I think in an interesting way.” JOSEPH (TRON: LEGACY, OBLIVION) KOSINSKI will next helm a feature film based upon Rod Serling’s The Twilight ZoneTwilight ZoneLeonardo DiCaprio, who controls the rights, will co-produce along with Davisson Killoran, under the banner of their Appian Way production company, based on the Warner Bros. lot.  Scott Bloom will executive produce the film.  A screenplay by Anthony (Sherlock Holmes) Peckham, has been discarded in favor of re-developing the project from scratch.  However, this is after Kosinski finishes work on his remake of Disney’s 1979 sci-fi flick, The Black HoleThe Black HoleAnd possibly even Tron 3.  Kosinsky had this to say on the subject of these projects: “Both projects are being written right now by two really talented writers. Jon (original draft of Prometheus) Spaihts is writing Black Hole and Jesse Wigutow is writing TRON 3. Both scripts are in progress, I’m really excited about both. The fundamental ideas of both are really interesting. The TRON sequel kind of takes where we left off with ‘Legacy,’ that idea presented in the last few minutes of the film and really expands on it in a really exciting way.”  Kosinski also stated that The Black Hole is not a remake as they are only using the “fundamental concept,” and then taking the film in their own direction. … YET ANOTHER VERSION OF FRANKENSTEIN is headed your way.  That’s right, in addition to all previous versions, notably the classic 1931 Frankenstein, Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein, Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound, Kenneth Branaugh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and even the soon to be released I, Frankenstein, someone has decided to make yet another Frankenstein.  James McAvoy is slated to play Victor Frankenstein in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film.  doc and igorHe will join Daniel Radcliffe, who fills the role of Igor.  And no, I’m not kidding.  Paul (Wicker Park) McGuigan is attached to direct, and the script was written by Max (Chronicle) Landis, as a direct adaptation of Shelley’s 1818 novel.  Said Landis, “I began to pick apart our knowledge of ‘Frankenstein’ and discovered that the public’s idea of this myth comes from a million different places … I became committed to recontextualizing it all so it all worked in one story. By the end of the day, it’s a period piece and yes, it’s from Igor’s perspective, but man it’s cool. It’s the best thing I’ve written.” … IN ADDITION TO OBLIVION, AND EDGE OF TOMORROW — formerly known as All You Need Is Kill — Tom Cruise has now joined the production of yet another Sci-Fi film.  Yukikaze, based upon Japanese author Chohei Kambayashi’s novel documenting the day-to-day duties of a soldier in a war against an alien race that attempted to invade Earth, is being written by Dan (Wrath of the Titans) Mazeau.  Yukikaze was published in serial form, starting in 1979, and tells a story of a hyper-dimensional passageway, that suddenly appeared over the continent of Antarctica, over 30 years ago.  Fighters from a mysterious alien force known only as the JAM exited the passage in wave.  That wave attempted terrestrial invasion.  Humanity united and forced the invaders back through the passageway to a very bizarre planet nicknamed, Fairy.  YukikazeA newly commissioned combat force called FAF is now tasked with traveling through the passageway and eliminating the JAM bases.  The battle is ongoing, and Second Lieutenant Rei Fukai carries out missions in the skies above planet Fairy.  He’s attacked to a tactical combat and surveillance unit of the Special Air Force, and is tasked with gathering intel.  His only companion is his sentient fighter plane, call sign: Yukikaze.  A previous anime series also adapted the story.  Erwin Stoff and Tom Lassally will produce this American version. … THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN may soon be coming to television in a form closer to the original source material than the 2003 film starring Sean Connery.  The one hour drama, based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s graphic series will feature the same characters and scenario as the former film, but with more of what made the source material work.  League of Extra GentsMichael Green will serve as Executive Producer and Showrunner for Twentieth Century Fox, with Erwin Stoff also listed as an Executive Producer.  Hopes are high that the series can capture some of the spirit of other popular fantasy shows, and eventually generate a fan base large enough to keep the show on the air for multiple seasons.  There have been to date, several sequels and companion books to the original “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” graphic novel.  All very popular with readers. … UNDERWORLD DIRECTOR LEN WISEMAN has dropped out of Universal’s reboot of The Mummy.  Producers Sean Daniels, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci are searching for a replacement director, still hoping to get the film in theaters sometime next year.  The script was written by the original writer of Prometheus, Jon Spaihts.  The producers are going for a darker scarier take on this project, and have drawn inspiration from the work of Michael Crichton.  Interesting mix. … THAT POLTERGEIST REMAKE IS GOING INTO PRODUCTION WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT.  Actress Rosemarie DeWitt has been cast as the female lead in the MGM/Fox 2000 film directed by Gil (Monster House) Kenan, and written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire.  Abaire most recently typed up Oz the Great and Powerful for director Sam Raimi, who is a producer on this project, along with Rob Tapert, Roy Lee, and Nathan Kahane.  This revisionist take on the classic horror film, focuses on a family struggling to make ends meet that relocates to an outdated suburban home and is confronted by an angry spirit who kidnaps their youngest daughter and challenges them to band together to rescue her from the clutches of evil.  You see what I mean ?  Another pointless remake. … IN TV NEWS, THE SYFY CHANNEL (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel) has a television film coming up called High Moon.  The movie will take place in a future where the Earth’s countries have each established colonies to mine the Moon’s resources.  But chaos erupts when new forms of life are discovered.  The script was based on a novel by author John Christopher called, “The Lotus Caves.”  ruth about its existence.  Production reportedly began on August 26th, in Vancouver, British Columbia. … AND SYFY ARE ALSO WORKING ON A SERIES BASED UPON Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film, 12 Monkeys, which is itself based upon a foreign short titled, La Jetee.  Like the film, the television pilot will focus on a time traveler from a post-apocalyptic future who appears in the now on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a plague that will eventually destroy most of humanity.  Production begins this November from a script by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett (Terra Nova, Nikita). … IN HOME VIDEO NEWS, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and MGM have officially announced that Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD, November the 5th.  The new cut of Peter Jackson’s first film in The Hobbit trilogy, will include 13 minutes of extra footage, and nine hours of new bonus features.  There will be a 5-disc 3D set, which will retail for $54.98, a 3-Disc Blu-ray standard set, which will sell for $35.99, and a 5-disc DVD only set, which will go for only a dollar less at $34.99.  The Blu-ray sets will include an UltraViolet download option to watch the film on your computer, tablet device, phone, or internet connected TV

Hobbit ExtendedAND NOW FOR THE SAD NEWS …  Gail Kobe Pulicity shotFilm and TV actress Gail Kobe has died at the age of 82.  She starred in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic The Ten Commandments in 1956, before moving into television, appearing in the likes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, Mission Impossible, Tarzan, and The Outer Limits, along with many, many more.  Gail Kobe Keeper of the Purple TwilightBorn in 1931 as Gabriella Kieliszewski in Hamtramck, Michigan, Kobe moved to Los Angeles, changed her name, landed a small walk on role in East of Eden, and eventually found herself with a promising career as a Television actress.  Then, in the mid 1970’s her journey led her behind the camera, and into a lucrative career producing daytime Television.  But her work will live on forever in the form of excellent episodes of both the original Twilight Zone and the original Outer LimitsAND ACTRESS KAREN BLACK has also died.  Black was nominated for an Oscar for her work in Five Easy Peaces, but as well as being an actress, she was also a screenwriter, singer and songwriter.  Born Karen Blanche Ziegler in a suburb of Chicago, she moved to New York and trained at the Actor’s Studio under Lee Strassberg, before making her debut in Off-Broadway shows, and thereafter, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1966 romantic dramedy, You’re a Big Boy Now.  Karen Black Capricorn OneThree years later, she had a role in Easy Rider that led to a role in Five Easy Peaces, and her performance in that film garnered her widespread acclaim, and shot her to stardom.  Black went on to star in numerous films, including Airport 1975 (she got to fly the plane,) The Day of the Locust, Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot, and Peter Hyam’s Capricorn OneFamily Plot posterIn 1986 she appeared on screen with her son, Hunter Carson, in Tobe Hooper’s remake of Invaders From Mars, and both mother and son reportedly had fond memories of working together.  Black died after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer.  And even a successful Kickstarter-like crowdsourcing campaign to save her life (which brought in almost $62,000, by the way,) couldn’t save her.  But the money did help place her in the Motion Picture and Television Fund facility in Woodland Hills, California, which notably eased her suffering.  Actress Juliette Lewis paid tribute, saying “Karen Black was my mentor and a second mother to me. She inspired everyone she came in contact with.”   Karen Black was 74 years old.Karen Black publicity stillVETERAN TV ACTOR HENRY POLIC has also passed away.  Polic had a long career on camera as a game show host, actor, and also doing voiceover work.  In addition to appearances on The Bionic Woman, Mork & Mindy, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, and Sheena, Polic also did a vast amount of work in voice-over for animation. Polic as DraculaHis role as Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. The Scarecrow on Batman: The Animated Series, was one of his last well known roles, along with playing the live action part of Dracula on the 1976 TV series, The Monster Squad.  And he did plenty of other work in animation as well, including The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The Dukes, The Smurfs, Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Disney’s Tail Spin, and many more.  Polic was also a frequent celebrity auctioneer for the Adam Walsh Foundation, Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, American Diabetes Association and the Leukemia Foundation and taught acting and performance at the Emerson College Los Angeles Center and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  He was 68 years old. Henry Polic publicity still AND VETERAN ACTOR OF NUMEROUS SCI-FI TV ROLES, MICHAEL ANSARA has died.  Ansara played Klingon warrior and commander Kang on three separate Star Trek TV series, the Blue Djinn who originally imprisoned Jeannie in her bottle on I Dream of Jeannie, Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and he also provided the voice of Mr. Freeze on Batman: The Animated Series1146482_790317400984767_1684444045_nBorn in a village in Syria, Ansara’s parents immigrated to the U.S. when he was two, and lived in Massachusetts until Ansara was 12.  After moving to California, Ansara initially chose the profession of physician before getting the acting bug.  He studied at the Pasadena Playhouse with Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones, and Aaron Spelling.  And later, after obtaining an Associates of Arts Degree from Los Angeles City College, he got work in the 1950’s on multiple television shows, starting with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Bewitched, Land of the Giants, Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, and many more.  He appeared as Qarlo Clobregnny in the episode of The Outer Limits, “Soldier.”Ansara Solder  The episode, featuring two soldiers who appear in 1964 still fighting a battle they were in the midst of one hundred years into the future, would many years later be the partial subject of a lawsuit brought by writer Harlan Ellison against Hemdale films, Orion Pictures, and director James Cameron, for plagiarism, i.e. appropriating material from said episode for Cameron’s film, The Terminator.  In between his television appearances, Ansara also had major roles in films such as 1953’s Julius Caesar and The Robe (as Judas); 1961’s Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaThe Comancheros (1961) with John Wayne; The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969); The Bears and I (1974); The Message (1977); and It’s Alive (1974). Michael Ansara Hollywood Walk of Fame Ansara was so well known, and did so much, he garnered a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Michael Ansara, who was once married to the beautiful Barbara Eden, died July 31 at his home in Calabasas, Calif., after a prolonged bout with Alzheimer’s disease.  He was 91 years old. Ansara, Eden, & SonVERY SADLY, FILM DIRECTOR TED POST has also died.  Remembered most prominently for his work with Clint Eastwood on the films Hang ‘Em High and Magnum Force, Post worked rather prolifically in both television and film for several decades before retiring.    Beneath the Planet of the ApesScience Fiction fans will recognize his name for having helmed Beneath the Planet of the Apes, as well as several episodes of the original Twilight Zone, and the Saturday Morning live action Filmation production, Ark II.  Born in Brooklyn in 1918, Post first job was as a theater usher at Loew’s Pitkin Theater in 1938.  Then he dabbed in training to be an actor, before directing summer theater plays. In 1950 he found himself teaching Acting and Drama at New York’s High School for Performing Arts.  And his success there led to Post directing television in the early 1950’s.Ark II  A World of Difference 1He started with westerns, helming episodes of Gunsmoke, Rawhide, and Wagon Train, but over time, he branched out into directing everything from Peyton Place to Columbo.  And he did enough good work to last a long time in pop culture.  n 1996, in his late seventies, Post formed Pro Bono Productions to showcase the talent and expertise of older union and guild members in Hollywood.  “Today we’re living in an era where it’s a sin to be old,” said Post.  “It wasn’t true years ago. They were looking for people with experience to guide them. But, these days, you’re discarded like Kleenex. It’s a very serious problem.”  Ted Post, director, passed away at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California.  He was 95.PBDTEPO EC001AND THE LENSMAN OF THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS, HAS DIED.
Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor had an amazing career as a director of photography/lighting technician/all around cameraman guru.  A Hard Day's Night 2And he worked on several notable films, Including The Bedford Incident, Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day’s Night, Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, The Omen, John Badham’s Dracula, Flash Gordon, Lassiter.  And even though “Gil” Taylor was one of the most expensive cameramen in the business, he frequently worked in television on shows like The Avengers.  But as George Lucas himself has stated in previous interviews, Taylor and Lucas did not get along.  Gil Taylor on Star Wars setGeorge avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture.  I took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia.”  Once they got to the location in Tunisia, the weather was horrible, and according to Taylor, “You couldn’t really see where the land ended and the sky began, it was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur.”  Then, when Lucas requested Taylor use a diffusion technique, Gilbert balked.  “I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean; also, I was mindful that there was an enormous amount of process work to be done in America after we finished shooting in England, and I knew a crisp result would help. But George saw it a differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn’t work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused.”  Taylor started out in 1929 as a cameraman’s assistant, and later spent six years during the Second World War as an officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.  His job?  A cameraman in an Avro Lancanster, shooting the damage caused by night-time raids over Germany.  Later, he would become a founding member of the British Society of Cinematographers.   Taylor was 99 years old when he died.


“Gil” Taylor, a name that will be remembered well along with Geoffrey Unsworth, Robert Krasker, Oswald Morris, Stanley Cortez, Charles Rosher, Gordon Willis, Freddie Young, James Wong Howe, Gregg Toland, and Jack Cardiff, and that’s just to name a few, off-hand.  Yes, the great Gilbert Taylor was and remains a legend in the art of motion picture cinematography.  Rest well, Sir, you earned it.Strangelove