May 27, 2005TV)
Pastor Greg may very well be the world's first Christian sitcom. It's being shot in HD format and will air in October on the Cornerstone satellite network and more than 100 secular stations.
Somehow, I think we can thank (or blame) Mel Gibson for this.
May 23, 2005TV)
In case you missed it, last week the Simpsons coverted to Catholicism. Well, sort of. In classic Simpsons style everything will return to normal, but in the course of the episode Bart started attending a Catholic school and Homer was sucked in with a pancake supper and bingo. Marge worried about her divided family and in the end there's a general swipe at religion and a reminder that Protestants and Catholics are both Christians. It was another episode poking fun at religion in a season of poking fun at religion, though despite the potential this episode seemed pretty inoffensive.Trailers)
One of the most promising trailers shown during Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (well, aside from the obvious) was a sci-fi flick starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson: The Island. Or at least I thought so. I heard scoffs on either side of me, but the Orwellian action flick looked pretty cool. We'll see come July 22.
May 19, 2005Commercials)
He taunts you the entire time and then with a little help from the Burger King King guesses what you were thinking. He pulled a yo-yo out of my feeble mind after 17 questions.Reality TV)
Morgan Spurlock, the man behind the anti-fast food documentary Super Size Me (and the new Don't Eat This Book), has a new reality show coming to FX—30 Days. The show puts people in strange circumstances for 30 days to see how they respond, much like the McDonald's fueled binge Spurlock went on for Super Size Me.
One episode features a "fundamentalist Christian" who lives as a Muslim for 30 days to experience prejudice in America since 9/11.
"One of my favorite episodes is ... what's it like to be a Muslim in America ... who is seen every day as a threat to our freedom simply because of their color, their race, their religion. [It's] something we deal with every day in America, and we hear about it with terrorism threats every day. ... He dresses as a Muslim, eats as a Muslim, he prays five time a day, he studies the Koran daily, he learns to speak Arabic, he works with an imam, a Muslim cleric, to learn the history of Islam, what are the five pillars, why are they important. And the transformation this guy goes through in 30 days is miraculous, it's incredible," says Spurlock
Other episodes include a conservative straight man living with a gay roommate, a mother turning to binge-drinking to teach her daughter a lesson, and Spurlock himself living on minimum wage (which sounds a lot like the reality TV version of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich).
Update: David Stacy, the fundamentalist Christian, and the Muslim Haque family share what it was like to be on the show.
Super Size Me Sermons
God has fallen silent. At least according to CBS. The once-hit drama Joan of Arcadia was cancelled after only two seasons. It gets the ax along with Judging Amy, apparently for not attracting the coveted young adult crowd (though what self-respecting young adult stays in on Friday night to watch network TV?).
On Friday nights Joan will be replaced by Ghost Whisperer, a "paranormal family drama" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt.
May 18, 2005Business)
Why am I even surprised any more? I just stumbled across another frightening Star Wars product tie in, this time it's Frito-Lay's Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Cheetos. You just can't make this stuff up:
New this year, and for a limited time only, Frito-Lay is launching Star Wars-inspired Twisted Cheetos snacks that temporarily change the color of your tongue. Star Wars fans who bite into the ordinary looking Cheetos cheese flavored snacks will be surprised to discover that they are crunching on either "Darth Vader Dark" or "Yoda Green" colored Cheetos snacks. While Star Wars fans' mouths will mysteriously turn either black or green, fans from both sides of the Force will get the same dangerously cheesy taste.Business)
It's all about the DVD. Theater releases and the big weekend sales figures we hear all the time from Hollywood mean squat. Less than 20% of Hollywood's profits come from theater releases.
The marketing involved in scoring big weekend numbers eats up most of the profits. In essence, Hollywood studios are buying the number one movie spot in theaters and waiting to cash in on home entertainment, which accounted for 82% of 2003 revenues.
May 17, 2005TV)
Amid all the buzz about Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith some of the most exciting news (for geeks like me anyway) is that George Lucas is planning two TV shows:
Lucas made a rare appearance at a Star Wars fan convention, Celebration III in Indianapolis, on Saturday. There, he described the two forthcoming TV series. One is an expansion into a 30-minute series of Clone Wars, the series of animated shorts shown on Cartoon Network that chronicles space battles that take place between Episode II and Episode III. "We're going to take that and turn it into a 3-D animated version full series," he said, according to the official Star Wars website. The other, he said, was a live-action drama that would take place between Episode III and Episode IV (i.e., the story told in the original 1977 film). "We're probably not going to start that for about a year," he said. "Like on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, we want to write all the stories for the entire first season all at once. I'm going to get it started, and hire the show runners and all of that, then I'll probably step away." (Entertainment Weekly, subscription required)
TheForce.net gives details/speculation about more the live-action series (on TV in the fall of 2007?), as well as more life after Sith news.Buzz)
Kevin Smith, the potty-mouthed man behind Dogma and Mallrats, gives an early review of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and it's packed with spoilers. Bottom line? He says it's what Star Wars fans have been waiting for since the disappointment of Phantom Menace.
May 15, 2005Reality TV)
ABC's hit reality show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has been noted for its overwhelming acts of kindness. In the midst of such grace the Christian faith has been getting the spotlight. Several of the families featured have been Christians, and their faith has been witnessed on primetime TV as they thanked God, prayed, and in some cases took cast members to their church.
"We're making this show the only way I'd be comfortable making it—by finding great families we want to help, and then turning on the cameras and letting them be them," says Tom Forman, the show's creator and executive producer. "If they choose to pray, then they pray. Whatever their response is, it's what we put on TV."
(link via YS Update)
May 14, 2005Extracurricular)
Lego is getting in on the Star Wars act with Revenge of the Brick, a short online Star Wars film featuring the toy bricks. Mostly it's a bunch of corny gags, though the best is when Obi Wan uses the force to disassemble and reassemble his Lego starfighter to avoid a missile.TV)
Being a television success doesn't always mean becoming a phenomena. And being a phenomena doesn't equal success. Case in point: Two shows that sign off the air this year, Everybody Loves Raymond and Star Trek's latest installment, Enterprise.
Raymond lasted nine years and creator and star Ray Romano is the highest paied actor in television. Yet the series hasn't spawned any catch phrases, spin-offs or cultural milestones. It simply soldiered on as the number one sitcom by letting couples commiserate over their in-laws with the same handful of jokes.
Enterprise, on the other hand, languished until cancellation and is only making news because it marks the first time since 1987 that there hasn't been a new Star Trek series on TV.
May 13, 2005Commercials)
As if yesterday's Star Wars commercials weren't enough, how about a giant, inflatable Darth Vader towering over your local Burger King? The same company that made the inflatable SpongeBob SquarePants balloons (many of which were stolen) is making the 9-foot inflatable Darth Vaders.
It's all part of the endless Revenge of the Sith merchandising, worth an estimated $20 billion in revenue. It's also the first time Star Wars characters have appeared outside their fictional film environment, interacting with people in commercials, according to Lucasfilm. In addition to the commercials, there are Legos, the dreaded Darth Tader Mr. Potato Head (and worse toys--can you say "Wrestling Buddy Vader"?), a Time cover story, an Organic Trade Association spoof, even a Darth Vader blog (which, interestingly enough, is posting journal entries from the climax of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi just as Revenge of the Sith opens). Some of the more enterprising are even trying to sell "May the Force Be With You" T-shirts (OK, I admit that's me).
Star Wars is actually credited with making movie merchandising the profitable arena it is today. For the holiday season in 1977 toy-maker Kenner sold 600,000 empty IOU action-figure boxes. In 1978 they'd go on to sell 42,322,500 action figures (Entertainment Weekly, subscription required).
And with two TV shows in the works, it's not likely this is the end of the Star Wars marketing juggernaut.
May 12, 2005Business)
Query Letters I Love is a blog devoted to the worst Hollywood queries ever. And there are some doozies. My favorite is What Would Lucifer Do?, a change of heart tale where the devil tries to tempt people to be good in order to get back into heaven. It's so different and so stupid I can't help but laugh.
The site gives no background as to who's behind it, which is annoying (who links to their Blogger profile but then doesn't enter a profile?). But it's still funny.Commercials)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith opens next week and the marketing tie-ins are everywhere:
- We've mentioned Yoda and his Diet Pepsi before, but here it is again.
- Then Chewbacca records ringtones for Cingular.
- Next Darth Vader gets the M&Ms to join the dark side and introduces dark chocolate M&Ms. Get it? Whoo, they're clever.
- In a U.K. commercial Darth Vader is mocked by the Orange Film Funding Board.
- In another UK spot a can of Pringles turns into a lightsaber and Chewbacca breaks it. I think.
- Then Darth Vader has to take it outside aftering dueling with a kid weilding a light-up saberspoon from Kellogg's.
- And in case you didn't get the message, George Lucas himself shows up in an episode of The O.C.. Lucas and O.C. creator Josh Schwartz talk about the appearance.
And if all those special Star Wars commercial tie-ins are too much, the Organic Trade Association wants to promote organic foods with their Store Wars spoof starring Cuke Skywalker and Darth Tader.Business)
Thanks to the $370 million take for The Passion of the Christ, Hollywood has learned how to gear movies for the church-going crowd. While Mel Gibson's success is drawing attention to the phenomena, it's not the only one. It's been happening with films like Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Raising Helen, Diary of a Mad Black Woman and The Polar Express.
Upcoming projects like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and One Night with the King plan to tap the Christian market as well. Though especially with Disney's involvement in the Narnia film, Christians are becoming more and more aware of Hollywood's pandering, and it could prove a dangerous line to walk.Reality TV)
A new reality TV show is turning to God. The Monastery is a BBC show where five men spend 40 days and 40 nights living in a Catholic monastery. The men must abide by the rules of monastic life in an effort to show whether or not St. Benedict's 1,500-year-old rules still have relevance.
The experiment apparently worked, and all five of the men appear to be leaving the show closer to a God who most of them didn't know coming in. One, a Cambridge student studying Buddhism, is reportedly now looking into becoming an Anglican priest.
Another became reunited with the faith he rejected as a child.
According to U.K.'s 'The Telegraph', in one scene, Tony Burke, the 29-year old pornography producer speaks emotionally into a video diary saying, "I didn't want this to happen... when I woke this morning, I didn't believe in this, but as I speak to you now, I do."
(link via Reality Blogs)
May 10, 2005TV)
The UPN breakout hit Veronica Mars finished its season tonight, so if you haven't been watching you missed out. I happened to start tuning in a few weeks ago, soon enough to get sucked into the edgy, whodunit mystery. And what a finish. Now I can't wait for the DVD so I can catch up.
Early reviews (and recent reports) have compared Veronica to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I think that's fair. It's edgy, dark and funny, which is two things most teen dramedies aren't.TV)
The first season of Joan of Arcadia comes out on DVD today, just as the threat of cancellation looms over season two. Part of the problem is the show's milder theology, which was planned in 2002 before The Passion of the Christ made out-right relgion more acceptable.Business)
May 9, 2005Commercials)
"Your drink desire you not," says Yoda as he tries to yoink a Diet Pepsi in the latest cross-marketing commercial featuring Star Wars. It may seem goofy for the Jedi master, but he did steal fish sticks from Luke in The Empire Strikes back.Trailers)
Speaking of trailers, everyone's seen it but the Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith trailers are available—and the online version is much longer than the shortened version that's starting to play on every channel.Trailers)
The teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is now available. It's short and sweet, but does give a nice glimpse at the beginning of how the characters have grown up from the first film to the fourth one. They're definitely not kids anymore (though they better hurry up and film the next three or they won't be teenagers anymore). (link via InFuze)Trailers)
The action looks pretty amazing, though it appears to be trying to compete with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. I wonder if my friend Neal is right: Disney's going for epic and it's all wrong. This is probably sacrilege, but even if they get the feel wrong and it's just not a good adaptation, it still looks like a fun movie. (link via InFuze)
You can also see an older featurette on the Weta Workshop's special effects involvement.
May 7, 2005Extracurricular)
"I did my famous corpse of Mace Windu imitation, which made Fett snort wine through his nose. "This party's over," I quipped, and Fett howled. Long ago Windu was First Speaker of the Jedi High Council, a fierce warrior who slew Boba's father and tried to kill my master. In vain, of course. These days the Emperor uses Windu's purple light-sabre to trim his hedges."
(link via Lake Neuron)
Update: The Darth Vader blog wrapped up just before the release of Revenge of the Sith, bringing the story of Darth Vader to the middle of Return of the Jedi (it's kind of hard to fit a blog entry in between disposing of the Emperor and your own funeral pyre). Now that the blog is over, you can read it chronologically in either HTML or PDF. (link via Dave Hunt)
May 4, 2005Trailers)
The media is buzzing over the trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which will debut across the world on Saturday, May 7 during ABC's showing of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It's a lot of hype for what amounts to, well, hype.
And beyond hype, there's also a lot of pressure. Pressure to make buckets of cash for Disney, pressure to keep the story in line with C.S. Lewis' treasured book, pressure to live up to that other fantasy adaptation, Peter Jackson's film version of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
"You ultimately can only make something that appeals to your own sensibilities," says Auckland-born [director Andrew] Adamson, whose parents were both associate missionaries in Papua New Guinea. "I am not making religion an issue one way or another. It's a story about family. People should take from it what they want to take from it."
(link via YS Update)
May 2, 2005Buzz)
Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith opens May 19, the marketing machine is churning (I saw my first Yoda hocking Diet Pepsi commercial today) and the media are swarming. Time features Darth Vader on the cover this week (Wired did as well with their George Lucas/Vader cover for their story on Lucas) and a host of stories:
- Dark Side Rising - Your basic overview.
- Q&A with George Lucas - His martyr act is a bit lame: "Right now I'm thinking it probably won't make any money and will be considered a failure."
- Star Wars Web Guide - A nice list of links to all things Star Wars, including a link to the 47-minute fan film Revelations you can download for free (though it's a dousie at 240 MB).