Thursday, November 17, 2005

Harry Potter On Pluto

I have two new reviews up over at Monsters & Critics for your reading pleasure. My review of HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE is HERE

While my review of Neil Jordan's latest film BREAKFAST ON PLUTO is HERE

There's another new addition over at Monsters & Critics. Editor James Wray and his lovely wife have a Poppy in their life now. She was born earlier this week. Life will never be the same... in a great way.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Wider, Ken! Wider!

This will be a silly post, but it's an image I've come to love.

Ken Foree, star of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD and Stuart Gordon's FROM BEYOND, came in to be interviewed for the MASTERS OF HORROR / Stuart Gordon tribute. This will forever be the Ken I remember.

Isn't it precious?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Interviewing A Star

Whenever you conduct an interview with a celebrity, you always hope for the best. Celebs come in many different shades, however. After all, they're only people and, as we all know, not everyone is a 'mensch'.

Having worked in the film business for some time now, I've dealt with mostly generous personalities. Most stars are quite approachable and polite. It's their handlers (publicists, assistants,etc.) than can be a rough and rude. That's because their function is to protect the star. If you think about it, the celeb has probably been approached by more than their fair share of nutcases and users. After enough of these encounters, a star can come off as distant when you meet them for the first time even if it is in a professional capacity. Again, you hope for the best.

Consider the case of Dan Aykroyd.

Dan Aykroyd was kind enough to give us some time today so that we may interview him for the MASTERS OF HORROR DVD. As I have said, I am producing a series of featurettes for this DVD that focuses on each of the 13 directors. For Dan (yes, I can call him Dan if I want to), I was going to ask him about working with John Landis.

Due to his schedule (and I'm sure a reluctance to spend his afternoon in the interview chair -- believe me, a movie star spends more time being interviewed than they do acting in movies), Dan's publicist scheduled three back to back interviews. Each was to last 15 minutes. We were the last one to go.

My crew warned me that this was the worst position to be in. When you're the last interview, the celeb is usually tired, cranky or both by the time they get to you. My crew has worked many press junkets and know of this first hand. Still, being a bit green to the whole interviewer thing, I held out hope. We've had many famous people in the chair and they've all been very forthcoming especially once we mad them feel at ease. I've also worked on movie sets where stars are quite chatty with the crew. I know it's in their nature to be good, normal people.

Respect is truly the random element, though. As some of you know, celebs don't always look on the press with kindness. That's because most press types try to milk all they can out of a celeb. True, it's their job, but it's antagonistic to the celeb at best. My crew and I are not press and I hoped this would come through to Dan. Like I said, we're really quite friendly once you get to know us and that is why the stars we interview often reciprocate.

Dan showed up a half hour early... alone. This means he was without his publicist... the one that would protect him from the first crew taking 25 minutes as opposed to the agreed upon 15. The publicist arrived half way through the stolen 25 minutes and was able to keep them from going any longer.

This, of course, put Dan in a bit of a mood. Part of the bargain all three crews made with him was that we would each keep to the 15 minutes he granted us. Dan is very professional and already someone had gone against his grain.

Dan came out looking at two other interviews before he would be set free. If each did what the first crew did, he'd be there for another hour. For all to hear, Dan asked his publicist what we were going to interview him for. "They're here for the Landis tribute piece.", she replied. "Let's keep it short.", was Dan's proclamation as he entered the second interview. Message received.

But the publicist laid down the law just in case we missed Dan's subtle hint. We would only be allowed 3 questions. Her terseness was understandable. She had a potentially grouchy client on her hands and she didn't know us from Adam. Most interview crews have a built in relationship with publicists. A foundation of trust. We hadn't earned that at this point, so we were to be corrected even before we started.

We quickly acquiesced once Dan burst out of the second interview. "We're done! Next!" This was not announced with any sense of relief or joy. The second crew had fully pissed him off. That's because they weren't supposed to interview Dan. They came to tape a simple birthday greeting for Jonathan Winters and tried to sneak in an interview. How rude!

Now, Dan wasn't really all that mad. Shouting (and the occasional hissy fit) is an old celeb trick whereby they can regain control of a situation (or, in the case of certain actresses who play sister witches on TV, a way to hide the fact that they have no idea what's going on). In this instance, however, Dan was doubly laying down the law. He didn't want a third crew to renege on their agreement.

He had no reason to worry. I'm proud to say I was able to ask him my questions succinctly and respectfully. I could visibly see him start to ease up once we got going. He answered more than 3 questions and, even though we were done in 6 minutes, Dan gave us all we needed for the Landis piece. He even gave us a Hitchcock impression that was quite good.

Then he was gone. No goodbye. No handshake (though he did greet each and every one of us when he first arrived). Dan Aykroyd was more than generous with his time. I can't really say it was a pleasant experience for either of us. Next time (if there is a next time) I hope... well, I just hope we get to go first.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

... And On High Was Heard The Sound Of Throwing Up

Every time Pat Robertson opens his yap, it's like putting a huge 'Kick Me' sign on God's back. You'd think this guy would learn to shut up after becoming so familiar with the taste of his own toe jam.

If ever there was an argument AGAINST intelligent design, it would be Pat Robertson.

Need proof? Look no further than this gem from Reuters...


Conservative Christian televangelist Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them on Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck.

Robertson, a former Republican presidential candidate and founder of the influential conservative Christian Broadcasting Network and Christian Coalition, has a long record of similar apocalyptic warnings and provocative statements.

Last summer, he hit the headlines by calling for the assassination of leftist Venezuelan Present Hugo Chavez, one of President George W. Bush's most vocal international critics.

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

The 700 Club claims a daily audience of around one million. It is also broadcast around the world translated into more than 70 languages.

In voting on Tuesday, all eight Dover, Pennsylvania, school board members up for re-election lost their seats after trying to introduce "intelligent design" to high school science students as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

Adherents of intelligent design argue that certain forms in nature are too complex to have evolved through natural selection and must have been created by a "designer." Opponents say it is the latest attempt by conservatives to introduce religion into the school science curriculum.

The Dover case sparked a trial in federal court that gained nationwide attention after the school board was sued by parents backed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The board ordered schools to read students a short statement in biology classes informing them that the theory of evolution is not established fact and that gaps exist in it.

The statement mentioned intelligent design as an alternate theory and recommended students read a book that explained the theory further. A decision in the case is expected before the end of the year.

In 1998, Robertson warned the city of Orlando, Florida that it risked hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist bombs after it allowed homosexual organizations to put up rainbow flags in support of sexual diversity.

It makes you wonder what God fearing areas like those blasted by Katrina did to piss the Almighty off. Maybe they sent donations to 700 Club once too often.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Torture Logic

Today, President Bush stated very clearly that "We do not torture". As reported in the Associated Press by Deb Riechmann...

"President Bush on Monday defended U.S. interrogation practices and called the treatment of terrorism suspects lawful. "We do not torture," Bush declared in response to reports of secret CIA prisons overseas.

Bush supported an effort spearheaded by Vice President Dick Cheney to block or modify a proposed Senate-passed ban on torture.

"We're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible, more possible, to do our job," Bush said. "There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet we will aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law."

Cheney is seeking to persuade Congress to exempt the Central Intelligence Agency from the proposed torture ban if one is passed by both chambers."

We do not torture, yet the President publicly opposes a ban. If we don't torture, we have no need for its existence. Passing a ban on the practice shouldn't curb our style. But Bush seems to be saying, "Don't ban torture. The CIA may need to use it someday." Talk about your mixed messages. Even Bush looks confused...

In related news, am I the only one nervous about Jeb Bush reportedly getting in shape. Could the other White Bush be primping for a Presidential race? If so, I'd like to introduce you to my friends War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. They're here about the coming Apocalypse.

Friday, November 04, 2005

JARHEAD and why the neo-cons are after me

Well, my review for JARHEAD is up on Monsters & Critics and already there's been some knee jerking over in the neo-con camp. I'll admit that I had the date wrong, but as one comment mentions, "this is a film review, not a news report". Still, you give these new kids an inch and they'll twist it into a mile and blame you for even coming up with the whole system of measurement.

One voice of support didn't make it to the site. It came from Catalina Herrerias who said, "One of best! It's articulate, balanced, thorough, and meaningful. Thank you!". Catalina, you just made my Christmas card list. A hearty "thanks" to you, too.

Judge for yourself. My JARHEAD review is HERE