Monday, April 30, 2007

"Magneto" next X-Men Spinoff

Goyer Drawn To Magneto

David Goyer will direct Magneto, the X-Men spinoff movie that will center on the villain played by Ian McKellen, for 20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios, Variety reported.

Magneto is the second X-Men spinoff to go into production; the first was Wolverine, based on a script by David Benioff, which will star Hugh Jackman as the steel-clawed mutant.

Goyer will develop a Magneto script that was written by Sheldon Turner.

McKellen's participation in Magneto will likely be limited, since the film is an origin story. In a storyline hinted at by the original X-Men films, Magneto comes to grips with his mutant ability to manipulate metal objects as he and his parents try to survive in Auschwitz. Magneto meets Professor Xavier (played as the wheelchair-bound mutant leader by Patrick Stewart) when the latter is a soldier liberating the concentration camp.

Magneto hones his powers by hunting down and killing Nazi war criminals who tortured him, and his lust for vengeance turns Xavier and Magneto into enemies. Both characters will be played by actors in their 20s.

Goyer—who directed Blade: Trinity and whose new film, The Invisible, opens April 27—wrote the Blade films for Marvel and Batman Begins for Warner Brothers.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Scotty sent into space

As I have blogged before about the death of our beloved Scotty from Star Trek, today, his ashes were sent to space:

Doohan's ashes to be shot into space Saturday
Cremated remains of ‘Scotty’ from ‘Star Trek’ will sail into suborbital space
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:16 p.m. ET April 27, 2007

EL PASO, Texas - If all goes as planned Saturday, the cremated remains of the actor who portrayed “Scotty” aboard Star Trek’s starship Enterprise will sail into suborbital space aboard a rocket launched from the southern New Mexico desert.

Actor James Doohan’s remains, along with those of Apollo 7 astronaut Gordon Cooper and about 200 others, are aboard the second private rocket scheduled to be launched at Spaceport America, a commercial spaceport being developed in Upham, N.M.

UP Aerospace Inc. of Farmington, Conn., launched the first rocket from the desert site in September. But that Spaceloft XL rocket crashed into the rugged desert after spiraling out of control about nine seconds after liftoff.

Company officials blamed the failure on a faulty fin design. A Spaceloft SL-2 rocket, with a fourth fin added for stability, will carry the cremains, which were loaded into the rocket last month.

Family members paid $495 to place a few grams of their relatives’ ashes on the rocket. Celestis, a Texas company, contracted with UP to send the cremated remains into space.

Charles Chafer, chief executive of Celestis, said last month that a CD with more than 11,000 condolences and fan notes was placed on the rocket with Doohan’s cremains.

Doohan died in July 2005, at age 85. The remains of Gene Roddenberry, who created “Star Trek,” were sent into space in 1997.

Scotty and Gordo get a space send-off
Ashes of ‘Star Trek’ engineer and NASA astronaut go into space and back
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 7:03 p.m. ET April 28, 2007

UPHAM, N.M. - The cremated remains of actor James Doohan, who portrayed the engineer Scotty on "Star Trek," and of NASA astronaut Gordon Cooper soared briefly into space Saturday aboard a rocket.

It was the first successful launch from Spaceport America, a commercial spaceport being developed in the southern New Mexico desert. Suzan Cooper and Wende Doohan fired the rocket carrying small amounts of their husbands' ashes at 8:56 a.m. MT (10:56 a.m. ET).

"Go baby, go baby," said Eric Knight, chief executive officer of Connecticut-based UP Aerospace, the company that staged the launch.

Since it was a suborbital flight, the rocket soon plummeted back to Earth, coming down at the White Sands Missile Range.

"We nailed it. We stuck the landing," said Knight.

Knight told that the rocket reached an altitude of 72 miles (115 kilometers), well beyond the internationally accepted 62-mile (100-kilometer) boundary of outer space.

UP Aerospace launched the first rocket from the desert site in September, but that Spaceloft XL rocket crashed into the desert after spiraling out of control about nine seconds after liftoff. Company officials blamed the failure on a faulty fin design.

Remains on ‘memorial spaceflight’
More than 200 family members paid $495 to place small samples of their relatives' ashes on the rocket. Celestis, a Houston company, contracted with UP to send the cremated remains into space.

Charles Chafer, chief executive of Celestis, said last month that a CD with more than 11,000 condolences and fan notes was placed on the rocket with Doohan's remains.

Doohan, whose portrayal of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott became a signature role on the 1960s TV series "Star Trek" as well as the movies that followed, died in July 2005 at age 85. The remains of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry were sent into space in 1997.

Cooper was the last astronaut to fly in the Mercury space program, orbiting Earth 22 times during his Mercury 9 flight in 1963. That made him the first American to sleep in space, and the last American to fly alone in space until SpaceShipOne's private-sector astronauts did it in 2004. Cooper was also the command pilot for Gemini 5 in 1965. He died in 2004 at the age of 77.

The samples of cremated remains from each "memorial spaceflight" client amounted to just a few grams each, or a fraction of an ounce, enclosed in a container roughly the size of a lipstick tube. Celestis says the tubes will be returned to the families on keepsake plaques. Additional samples are due to fly into orbit this autumn as a secondary payload aboard a SpaceX Falcon 1 rocket.

Ashes of "Star Trek"s Scotty found after space ride
Fri May 18, 5:44 PM ET

They beamed him up -- and on Friday, after a three-week search, they found the rocket that had carried ashes of "Star Trek" actor James Doohan briefly into space.

The remains of Doohan, whose "Star Trek" character Scotty inspired the television catch phrase "Beam me up, Scotty," were blasted off to the edge of space from New Mexico on April 29, two years after his death at the age of 85.

The payload also included ashes of astronaut Gordon Cooper, who first went into space in 1963, and another 200 people.

But the UP Aerospace Spaceloft XL rocket carrying the capsules with the ashes back to Earth got lost in rugged terrain and the search for it was hampered by bad weather.

"Now we can all say 'mission accomplished,"' Rick Homans, executive director of New Mexico's Spaceport Authority, said on Friday.

Organizers said the rocket and the individual capsules containing the ashes were in good condition and would be mounted on plaques and returned to the families.

Canadian-born Doohan played the starship Enterprise's chief engineer Montgomery Scott in the original 1966-1969 "Star Trek" television series.

Houston-based Space Services Inc. Space Services Inc. charges $495 to send a portion of a person's ashes into suborbital space and return it to Earth.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tolkien's "The Children of Hurin" considered prophetic for our times

Tolkien Book Hailed as Prophetic
A Review of New Edition of "The Children of Húrin"

ATLANTA, Georgia, APRIL 27, 2007 ( With the release of a new edition of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Children of Húrin," fans of this deeply Catholic author may be surprised by its biblical tone, says a Tolkien expert.

Jef Murray, artist-in-residence at the St. Austin Review, speaking with ZENIT, said, "'The Children of Húrin' has a more biblical tone than 'The Lord of the Rings.' It is a story of human fallibility and sin and may be prophetic for our times."

Painstakingly reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien from his father's manuscripts, the new publication released by HarperCollins last week is close to two versions previously published. The elder Tolkien died in 1973.

Christopher Tolkien corrected some contradictory elements, updated the chronology, and made the writing tone more accessible.

The book is illustrated by Alan Lee, one of the two conceptual artists for "The Lord of the Rings" movies.

Hollywood studios are already interested in the film rights.

The tale

"The tale itself has much to say of the nature of evil; how it manifests itself in the actions of angelic/demonic beings and, more importantly, in the foibles and sin of fallen man," said Murray.

The Narn i Chîn Húrin, as it is known in Tolkien's "Unfinished Tales," is an almost Job-like story of one family's struggles in Beleriand long before the tales of "The Hobbit" or "The Lord of the Rings."

Tolkien's satanic figure, Morgoth, curses the family of Húrin. And, just as with the story of Job, Húrin's wife, son and daughter all bear the brunt of that curse.

But unlike Job, the protagonist of the tale, Túrin, does not humble himself and seek God's grace and redemption.

Rather, Túrin attempts to flee his doom, but pride coupled with an attitude of self-righteousness drives him to commit greater and greater acts of sin and folly.

Murray explained, "The tale ends badly, but, as with all great tragedies, there are lessons here for our own times."

"We, too, often trust in ourselves rather than in God," says Murray, "and like Túrin, the world believes itself invincible and capable of meeting all challenges."

Murray concluded, "But sin taints all things, and without humility and trust in the grace of God, we are all in grave danger of following Túrin's path."

Labels: , ,

Aronofsky's Biblical Epic story announced

A while back, I blogged about more faith-based/religious movies coming down the pike in Hollywood, one of which was going to be about an unnamed Biblical Epic to be directed by Darren Aronofsky. Well, he has finally divulged the biopic he wants to tackle: Noah.

Aronofsky Builds an Ark
The Fountain director plans to bring Noah and the Ark to the big screen; says film will be "unconventional" biblical epic.
by Josh Hurst posted 04/30/07

Steve Carrell and his Evan Almighty troupe aren't the only ones keen on bringing Noah and the Great Flood to the big screen. Director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain) expressed interest in bringing a new biblical epic to your local Cineplex—a new take on the story of Noah's Ark.

Aronofsky recently told The Guardian that he's "several drafts" into a screenplay about Noah. The director says that the story has always interested him [From The Guardian: Aronofsky and Noah go way back. When the writer-director was 13, he won a United Nations competition at his school in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn; it was for his first poem, a little effort about the end of the world as seen through Noah's eyes. "That story has interested me ever since," he says, squinting through his yellow-tinted shades and pulling a striped woolly hat on to his head.], and that audiences shouldn't expect a conventional biblical epic. "Noah was the first person to plant vineyards and drink wine and get drunk," he says. "It's there in the Bible—it was one of the first things he did when he reached land. There was some real survivor's guilt going on there. He's a dark, complicated character."

Labels: ,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spider Man's Raimi to helm Hobbit?

'Hobbit' Forming?
Sam Raimi says he's open to directing the ''Lord of the Rings'' prequel, which could leave ''Spider-Man 4'' without a director -- and, perhaps, its Mary Jane
By Adam Markovitz

On the eve of what is expected to be the biggest Spider-Man yet, Entertainment Weekly learns that director Sam Raimi is seriously interested in directing The Hobbit, a choice that could potentially leave Spidey 4 without a director — and, says Kirsten Dunst, a leading lady.

Raimi's name has been floated in connection with The Hobbit ever since a very public dustup between Peter Jackson and New Line chairman Bob Shaye left the Lord of the Rings prequel without a director. Raimi went on the record for the first time about his potential involvement in the project during an exclusive interview with EW's Steve Daly for the magazine's Summer Movie Preview issue, on newsstands Friday: ''Peter Jackson might be the best filmmaker on the planet right now. But, um, I don't know what's going to happen next for me right now. First and foremost, those are Peter Jackson and Bob Shaye's films. If Peter didn't want to do it, and Bob wanted me to do it — and they were both okay with me picking up the reins — that would be great. I love the book. It's maybe a more kid-friendly story than the others.'' (If Raimi were to take on a complex, intense project like The Hobbit — the rights to which New Line/MGM only has for a limited amount of time — it could force Columbia to either push back its production schedule for Spider-Man 4 or find a new director for the franchise.)

Dunst says she hadn't heard any rumors about Raimi and The Hobbit until EW raised the subject in an interview. She says she can't imagine returning for Part 4 without both her director and her costar: ''It's disrespectful to the whole team, I think, to do that. And audiences aren't stupid. It'd be a big flop without me, Tobey, or Sam. That would really not be the smartest move. But they know that already. [Sony chief] Amy Pascal would never do that.'' Maguire has already expressed his ambivalence about returning for another sequel.

Sony's President of Production Matt Tolmach tells EW that the studio is cautiously optimistic about retaining the team that launched the Spidey franchise so spectacularly: ''Listen, we're making Spider-Man 4. Our hope, dream, and intention is to do it with Sam. But I don't have a crystal ball.''

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Riverside hopes that Star Trek will boost economy

Iowa town eyes future with Star Trek’s Kirk
Riverside dubs itself birthplace of famed captain, hopes tourists flock in
Updated: 2:02 p.m. ET April 20, 2007

RIVERSIDE, Iowa - A small Iowa town is trying to lure tourists by going where no town has gone before — forward 200 years in time to be the birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk from cult science fiction show “Star Trek.”

Welcome to Riverside, a once prosperous little farming town with a population of 928 that has fallen on hard times, wants to attract tourists and much needed money with a “Star Trek” museum to revive its largely lifeless, boarded-up main drag.

The town has no famous offspring like West Branch, 25 miles away, where former U.S. President Herbert Hoover was born in 1874, and can’t boast the “World’s Largest Strawberry,” a 15 feet high fiberglass fruit, like Strawberry Point, 100 miles to the north.

So former town councilor and self-declared “Trekkie” Steve Miller in 1985 persuaded the council to declare Riverside the future birthplace as Kirk, a main character of the “Star Trek” television series that began in 1966 and following films.

“Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry wrote a book saying Kirk will be born in Iowa, but didn’t say where,” said Miller. ”So I thought ’why not here?”’

Kirk’s birthday was never officially established but the town lists it on a plaque as March 22, 2228. The show’s official Web site, however, says he was born on March 22, 2233. Canadian actor William Shatner who played the captain of the starship Enterprise was born in real-life on March 22.

The future famous son has brought a trickle of tourist money to the town 15 miles south of Iowa City in eastern Iowa but some locals now hope to raise funds for a Star Trek museum to boost that income while enough people remember Kirk.

Life, but not as we know it
“I’m no Trekkie, but Captain Kirk is good for drawing visitors and Riverside needs plenty of those,” said local businessman Ken Wilkinson.

Roddenberry has not objected to the town claiming Kirk, so locals erected a plaque on a site of his birth.

At local bar Murphy’s, a plaque states Kirk was “conceived at this point” — hanging on the wall instead of its original spot under the pool table.

“Regulars got a kick out of seeing Star Trek fans crawl under there to look, but it seemed kind of cruel,” said Becky Laroche, who works at People’s Bank, the town’s only bank.

Riverside has also hosted an annual “Trek Fest” in June every year since 1985, drawing up to 10,000 visitors a year. Apart from a parade and tractor pull, Trek fans can buy glass bottles of “Kirk Dirt” — earth from his birth site — for $10.

But beyond the two plaques, Riverside’s only other Star Trek attraction is a model spacecraft similar to the Enterprise, which is small enough to be pulled behind a car.

Riverside’s part-time Mayor Bill Poch wants a Star Trek museum to attract tourists and retailers to its main street. “If we can get people to come stop here and spend a little money, maybe we can revive our downtown,” he said.

Miller said if Riverside is going to propose an enduring Star Trek memorial, it better do it soon. It’s been 40 years since Star Trek and most youngsters have never seen it,” he said. “Time is running out.”

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 16, 2007

I never thought I'd see the day...

Apparently, Variety has its own "Faith-Based Entertainment" section now to catch up on the latest in religious entertainment.

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Peter O'Toole to play in film about painter Thomas Kinkade

O'Toole puts Kinkade film on his palette

By Carolyn Giardina
April 5, 2007

Peter O'Toole is in final negotiations to star in Lionsgate's "The Christmas Cottage," a feature based on the Thomas Kinkade painting.

The film will be directed by Michael Campus, and production is scheduled to begin this month in Vancouver and Whistler.

"Cottage" is said to be partly biographical and based on events that led American painter Kinkade to become an artist. O'Toole will play a painter Glen Weissler, based on one of Kinkade's mentors.

"Cottage" also will be produced by the Firm and Kinkade's Birch label. Producers are the Firm's Julie Yorn, Michael and Arla Dietz Campus as well as Thomas and Nanette Kinkade. A holiday release is planned for the film, which is part of a production deal between Lionsgate and Kinkade.

O'Toole recently was nominated for his eighth Academy Award for his performance in "Venus."

He is repped by Untitled Entertainment and Steve Kenis & Co. in the U.K.

Labels: , ,

For Easter Weekend...

Here is a video I made--my first attempt at such--for Holy Week.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 02, 2007

Anne Rice's Christ: Out of Egypt begins casting for movie

I have commented before about Anne Rice's conversion back to Catholicism and her subsequent changing of her writing to be exclusively for Christ. Her first book on Jesus' life, covering His young childhood title Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, is being made into a movie, as I 've mentioned before. Here, Variety features some more news on the movie, including the filming being in Israel and looking to cast the boy Jesus.

Occult writer walks new path
Convert Rice devotes work to 'Christ'

You can imagine the pitch: I want to write a series of books. The first one will cover exactly a year in the life of a pre-teen kid with supernatural powers and then follow him as he grows up. He's a sweet boy born into a hostile world where there's a nasty villain obsessed with murdering him. You see, it's really about good and evil, angels and devils, that kind of stuff. And, get this, the kid will be Jesus.

After selling more than 85 million books, Anne Rice is switching heroes to write a new fictional, but heavily researched, series about the early years of Jesus. Book one, "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," covers age 7, drawing inspiration from the Apocrypha and other noncanonical sources (in one such scene, Jesus inadvertently kills, then revives, a bully).

Converted Rice, 65, has given up her long-held atheism and her knack for knocking out steamy novels about cursed creatures, often vampires, to write books that will, in her own words, "draw people to the Lord. It's that simple. If the book doesn't do that, the book has failed."

Rice explains: "It was a long journey for me. I had lost my faith at 18. I think that all the books I wrote reflect a kind of mourning for a lost faith. I think all that was a metaphor for me, outside of religion, kind of grieving for the moral compass. What the novels had in common is that they involved people who were condemned -- witches and vampires, people who were perceived outside the fold. And that's how I felt. My faith was gone. That was the period of questioning, searching. I've passed through that. That's over.

"I feel that I had bought into the idea that there was no God -- that no intelligent person thought there was. Why faith comes to people is a mystery. The ground was laid by writing about God, the devil and the universe. ... What really happened was I really wrote myself back to faith. At some point in 1998, I realized that I believed in God. ... I just got up from the desk and asked my assistant Amy, 'Do you know a priest who could hear my confession?' I didn't even know if they'd take me back. I didn't know whether I was excommunicated."

In 2002, Rice reached another level. "I was sitting in church, and I was talking to the Lord about my work, and I thought: 'I have to do it for You.' I said, 'I'm not going to write any more books except those that reflect my commitment to You.' I had no idea when I walked out of the church that afternoon that everything in my life would be different from then on.

"I think I've gone from Kafkaesque to Capraesque," Rice laughs. "Capra did great Christian entertainment. And Dickens too. I love 'It's a Wonderful Life.' I've seen it maybe 30 times. I would very much like to do a Christmas book that is completely for Him. Something analogous to 'It's a Wonderful Life' or 'A Christmas Carol.'

"Whether it's a stained-glass window or a hymn or a play, the idea is to draw people to the Lord. Look at Michelangelo and the Pieta. It draws people to Christ. If it doesn't, it doesn't work.

"I was swept away by 'The Passion of Christ.' I thought that Mel Gibson took those 12 hours that changed the world and made a magnificent film that brought everybody together. That's what I want to do."

Shooting of "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" is scheduled to begin in Israel in October for a Christmas 2008 release. Producer David Kirkpatrick of Good News Holdings says the toughest challenge will be finding the actor to play the child Jesus. "We have casting going on in Israel. We will probably also look in the U.K. and Italy -- probably not an American child."

And behold, a franchise is born.

Labels: , ,