Apparently, Fox is planning to make a TV version of the classic musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The original 1975 film—and cult classic—starred Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Meat Loaf and a host of others. And it permanently imprinted the dance steps to the Time Warp in the minds of anyone who watched it.
Now Fox thinks we need a new version? Give me a break.
I suppose my worst fear is true: Hollywood is out of original ideas. And I shudder to think what classic film or television show they plan to “relaunch” next.
Gilligan’s Island, anyone?
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
I can’t believe he’s gone.
Around noon yesterday, police found the lifeless body of beloved actor Robin Williams in his Tiburon, California home. According to the most recent reports, he died of asphyxiation, the victim of an apparent suicide.
Like millions of other fans around the world, I am in complete and utter shock.
I mean, I knew Williams struggled with depression after surviving addictions to both cocaine and alcohol. I just didn’t know things had gotten so bad that he would take his own life as a result. And now the world he once filled with joy and laughter seems a little darker and more depressing now that he’s gone.
Robin Williams first endeared himself to me in the television show Mork & Mindy, a spin-off of one of my other favorite shows of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Happy Days. He was quirky, energetic and downright hilarious. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have the sexy, high-waisted Pam Dawber at his side, either. I give her credit for planting the seed that eventually turned me into an ass man, but that’s neither here nor there.
During his career, Williams starred in some of the greatest and most entertaining films ever made, including Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook and one of my personal favorites, The World According to Garp—an adaptation of my favorite John Irving novel. After being nominated for three Academy Awards, he finally took Oscar home for his performance in 1997’s Good Will Hunting—a film that also won golden statuettes for screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.
Of course, it was Williams’ role in 1989’s Dead Poets Society that inspired me the most. As English professor John Keating, Williams encouraged students at an elite all-boys school to “seize the day” and to “suck the marrow” out of life. At the time, I had just graduated from high school and planned to attend college as a criminal justice major. However, thanks to Professor Keating and some other influential instructors, I soon changed my major to English and have never looked back. Thanks for that, Robin.
Oh yeah… it didn’t hurt that Williams and I shared the same home town, either: Chicago, Illinois.
Losing such a great talent is never easy, even though none of us really knew the man behind some of our most beloved characters. Robin Williams brought laughter to everyone he encountered—both on- and off-screen—and for fans who grew up with him—like me—it seems as if a family member has passed. Life just won’t be the same without him—and for now, the joy and laughter he once provided have been replaced by tears and sorrow.
Rest easy, my old friend. I miss you already.
At the recent Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California, Warner Brothers debuted footage from the upcoming film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and, for the most part, its reception was quite good.
Yes, there are still people who doubt whether Ben Affleck can play the Dark Knight effectively, but there will always be naysayers.
Of course, one thing that might shut the naysayers up is Wonder Woman, who will be played by Gal Gadot in the 2016 film. Warner Brothers released an image of the Amazonian princess and one thing is for certain: she can tie me up with her invisible lariat anytime she likes! Hubba hubba…
When I first heard that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in the 2016 sequel to Man of Steel, I was as skeptical as the next guy. Batman has always been one of my favorite comic book characters and honestly, Affleck didn’t seem like the best fit. I’m willing to give him a shot, though, and judging from this photo from the set of Batman vs. Superman, it looks as if he could be a good fit after all.
When it was announced that actor Ben Affleck would play Batman in the upcoming film Batman vs. Superman, many denounced the casting decision and claimed Affleck wasn’t good enough to assume the coveted role—a role vacated by Christian Bale following The Dark Knight Rises. This film and the Batman franchise of films are two different things, of course.
Personally, I think Affleck is good enough to give Batman a shot. Whether or not I’m right remains to be seen, but I can say this for Ben: when it comes to playing blackjack, he leaves “good enough” in the rear-view mirror!
On Friday, a source close to Affleck said he had been “banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas” for arguably the best reason to be banned: he is too good at the game!
Yes, almost those exact words were spoken to Affleck, but he wasn’t banned from Hard Rock altogether. He can play any other games that he likes, just not blackjack.
Normally, things like this happen to players caught “counting cards,” which isn’t illegal but certainly pisses off casino owners. This means Affleck may have been counting cards and, believe me, it isn’t easy. If he was, then he’s clearly more intelligent and crafty than people give him credit for… and correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t intelligence and craftiness Batman’s so-called “bread and butter?”
Maybe Ben will make a great Batman after all!
Few things are better to a cinephile like me than to wake up Monday morning and learn that two of your favorite films—or film franchises—will be returning to theaters in the near future.
The first will be a sequel to the awesome 1985 adventure film The Goonies, which easily ranks as one of my favorite childhood movies. Rumors about a sequel have been floating around Hollywood for years—some involving a possible Broadway musical based on the film (which thankfully have stopped)—but no one has been able to get this thing done yet. Of course, it now looks as if this could change thanks in large part to director Richard Donner, who spoiled the surprise in a recent interview with TMZ.
“We’re doing a sequel,” Donner said as he signed autographs for his fans. This actually confirms what Goonies actor Sean Astin said when asked about a possible sequel in 2012: “It will happen. I’m 1000 percent certain there will be a sequel. I will bet my children on it.”
That’s good enough for me. And I can’t wait until Goonies 2 hits the Big Screen!
Of course, my excitement for the next film knows no bounds since I have been a science fiction geek for most of my life. And no science fiction franchise fuels my excitement more than… you guessed it… Star Wars!
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on April 2, Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn indicated that shooting on Star Wars: Episode VII had begun in earnest and should be ready for release in December 2015. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t reveal much else—especially about casting, which Horn claimed was nearly complete—but he did mention a few tidbits worth recounting here.
The first is that the screenplay was co-written by two very talented Star Wars fans—Lawrence Kasdan (who penned The Empire Strikes Back) and J.J. Abrams—following an early draft by Michael Arndt. And if you ask me, only die-hard fans can produce a film worthy of carrying the Star Wars moniker.
The second tidbit likely isn’t new information, but Horn also mentioned that the new story would pick up “where 6 left off—and where 6 left off is 35 years ago by the time this is released.”
In other words, it won’t be easy to “connect the dots” between 1983’s Return of the Jedi and this new chapter—or the new trilogy, for that matter. I’m sure George Lucas is still receiving hate mail for his prequel films, which some fans feel should be viewed separately from the original trilogy. Granted, I feel he did the best he could to “set the stage” for the middle three episodes—aside from including Jar Jar Binks and casting that annoying, talentless kid as young Anakin—but this new trilogy should have much less work to do in this respect. After all, it won’t be limited by its connection to the Star Wars canon, or forced to tie up any loose ends, and can instead focus on new characters, new worlds and—most importantly—new ideas.
And this, dear readers, has me more excited about going to the theater than I have likely ever been. Now all we have to do is wait!
Yesterday morning, the world lost a truly amazing talent, a comic genius and an all-around great person—actor, writer and director Harold Ramis—who passed away from complications resulting from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a condition he battled for years. He was 69 years old.
Many remember Ramis as the quirky and nerdy Dr. Egon Spengler from two of his best known films, Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II. Others remember him as the foil to Bill Murray in Stripes, another Ramis classic. But the man who appeared on-screen was only a small part of who Ramis really was— it was his off-screen success that truly changed the face of comedy.
Ramis’ journey to comic greatness began in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After working a variety of jobs—as a substitute school teacher, freelance writer for the Chicago Daily News and joke editor for Playboy magazine—he began studying and performing with Chicago’s Second City improvisational comedy troupe. Ramis left the troupe briefly and was replaced by another famous comedy performer—the great John Belushi—but returned in 1972 with friend and collaborator Bill Murray.
Together with Belushi, Murray and others—among them Christopher Guest and Gilda Radner—Ramis starred in The National Lampoon Show and eventually became a performer and head writer for SCTV, a direct competitor of another well-known comedy show, Saturday Night Live. And though acting would always have a place in his life, it was writing and directing that truly showcased Ramis’ talents.
Among the films Ramis is best known for—aside from those already mentioned—are some of my favorite comedies of all time: National Lampoon’s Animal House, Groundhog Day, Meatballs, Back to School, Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation and Club Paradise, to name a few. And with a resume like that, how could he not be great?
Ramis’ long-time friend and colleague—Dan Aykroyd—reacted to the news of his death on Facebook: “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of my brilliant, gifted, funny friend, co-writer/performer and teacher Harold Ramis. May he now get the answers he was always seeking.” Steve Carell worked with Ramis on The Office and described him as “funny, gracious [and] kind-hearted,” all words that only scratch the surface of this great man and the joy he brought to so many.
Yes, Monday was a sad day for entertainment, but I feel an even deeper sense of loss since I grew up with Harold Ramis and his films. And I’m sure there are plenty of others who feel the same. It’s always sad to lose a great talent—especially one who brought laughter into the lives of so many—but it’s worse to lose a great human being… and that’s precisely what Harold Ramis was.
Rest in peace, my friend. I miss you already.
On Saturday, the world lost one of its premier actors and one of my personal favorites, Irish-born Peter Seamus O’Toole. He died peacefully at the ripe old age of 81.
O’Toole was a classically trained Shakespearean actor whose career began on the stage before shifting to television in 1954. He first appeared on film in 1959 when he accepted a small role in The Day They Robbed the Bank of England. This would mark the beginning of a long and illustrious acting career spanning more than 50 years. And let me tell you that it was quite a trip.
On screen, O’Toole played some of the most notable characters in film history, including the lead role in one of my favorite movies of all time, the David Lean epic Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. And his filmography includes titles recognizable to nearly any fan of the genre: Becket, The Lion in Winter, Casino Royale—the original, not the recent remake with Daniel Craig—Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Man of La Mancha, Man Friday, Caligula, The Stunt Man, My Favorite Year, The Last Emperor and Venus, to name a few.
He also had a minor role in another favorite film of mine, albeit kind of a cult classic: Club Paradise. Sadly, I’m still trying to forget about O’Toole’s role as King Priam in Troy, which to me seemed grossly over-acted. He was pretty old at the time, though, so I certainly don’t hold it against him.
Oddly enough—and despite all his accomplishments and accolades—O’Toole was nominated for an Oscar eight times but never won, making him the most nominated actor to never win the award. He was presented with an honorary Oscar in 2003 for his entire body of work—which was a nice “nod” from the Academy—but never received one for a single performance… and he had quite a few that were worthy.
Fortunately, O’Toole did collect awards from all sorts of sources throughout his long and productive career, including Golden Globes, David di Donatello Awards, Sant Jordi Awards, National Board of Review awards, National Society of Film Critics’ Awards and more. He even won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 1999’s Joan of Arc.
In other words, Peter O’Toole had a long, successful and unforgettable career entertaining millions of people across many generations. I count myself among his many fans and, like them, appreciate the joy he brought to my life. He will be sorely missed, but at least he will live on as one of the world’s greatest performers. And I cannot wait to introduce my son to his body of work, starting of course with Lawrence of Arabia.
Rest well, my friend. And thanks for the memories.
In the film Bruce Almighty, Jim Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a special interest television news reporter who longs for the lead anchor job, which is eventually given to his nemesis, Evan Baxter (played expertly by Steve Carell, I might add). Dissatisfied with his life, Bruce complains to God once too often and is suddenly visited by the Almighty himself, who endows Bruce with his powers and sets him loose on Buffalo, New York.
If you’ve seen the movie, then you know that Bruce soon realizes the error of his ways and comes to appreciate the Lord. His life suddenly has meaning and by the end, he starts to appreciate the little things, including Jennifer Aniston, who plays his girlfriend.
Personally, I wouldn’t have any trouble appreciating Jennifer Aniston, so that’s the one plot point I never connected with. It certainly didn’t prevent my enjoyment of the film, though, because I watch it nearly every time it’s on television.
The sequel to Bruce Almighty focuses on Evan Baxter, Bruce’s one-time foil who now finds himself elected to Congress. In this film, God contacts Evan and tells him he must build an ark to prepare for the coming flood. Evan initially resists, but gives in once animals start following him around and his physical appearance suddenly transforms into Noah—complete with a beard that can’t be trimmed and flowing robes that replace any outfit Evan attempts to change into.
The message in Evan Almighty is, of course, that one man can make a difference and change—or even save—the world. Again, this is a movie I catch myself watching any time I come across it while channel surfing. It never ceases to entertain me, and I have loved Steve Carell since his first appearance on “The Office” all those years ago.
The movie idea that I have is kind of in the same vein as these two films, albeit with slightly more drama and more serious undertones. Yes, there will be comedic elements throughout and a thoughtful message will be delivered by the end, but my movie will lean more towards the dramatic side of the coin, at least in its final act.
Bruce had God’s powers and Evan built an ark. For my film—the working title of which is Come Again (as I’m sure you gathered from the title of this post)—the religious, Biblical event will be… wait for it… the SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST!
You think that might get people talking?
I’ll be honest. All I have so far are some general ideas, a few character possibilities and some tentative scenes in mind. Nothing about this idea has been fleshed out, despite it being locked in my head for a number of years. I can’t remember when it originated—perhaps as early as 1988, when The Last Temptation of Christ was released, or as late as The Passion of the Christ in 2004—but one or both of these films played their part and inspired me.
I’ve just been lazy in actually dealing with it, which is why I’m sharing it with you today, dear readers. I’m hoping that YOU will provide the insight I need to get this idea off the ground after first determining whether you feel it’s worthy of my attention at all. Yes, I’m asking a lot, but you have always been up to the task and I have no reason to believe this will be any different. Thanks again for being so willing to help.
Before I begin, let me first offer this brief disclaimer: I am not and would never profess to be an expert in the subjects of religion and spirituality. As my blog title indicates—sort of—I am agnostic and do not practice any specific religion. I have studied world religions before—both in college and recreationally, to satisfy my own interests—but certainly hold no academic degrees in these fields. Please excuse any discrepancies you find between my own fictional story and Biblical accounts. Instead, do me a “solid” and point them out by leaving some comments. The more accurate my depiction can be, the better, after all.
That being said, here is the basic premise of Come Again. Please excuse me if some of this drifts into the stream of consciousness, pun intended.
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. –Matthew 24:36, NIV
As I understand it—and given my limited knowledge of the Bible—the Second Coming is when Jesus Christ comes down from Heaven to take true believers and the penitent upstairs while everyone else burns down below. Granted, this is a very rough interpretation, but it covers the basics.
Consider this, though: What if God took a different approach and instead had his Son “reborn” into a human body? This would allow Jesus a firsthand view of the human experience and, in turn, allow for a more informed judgment of mankind later. By living as a human—in this case one who isn’t born with the knowledge of who he really is—Jesus can experience what we experience and feel what we feel. He can truly understand.
What came to mind next was the question of Jesus’ rebirth. The first time around was immaculate—Mary just turned up pregnant and the father turned out to be The Big Man himself. This time, though, I feel like it could go one of two ways. First, the birth could again be immaculate, only this time it’s because his mother is a whore and can’t remember who she may have been with at the time of his conception. Not knowing in this way equates to having no father at all.
The second approach would be to give Jesus both a mother and a father. Yes, God is his real dad, but he would also have a human father in his life. And since he doesn’t realize he’s the Second Coming—at least not until later in the film—this man would actually be his father, and he would love him accordingly.
Personally, I like the second option because it gives Jesus an even deeper, more fulfilling human experience. Would you agree?
Okay, let’s assume that Jesus is reborn and give him a name. I have toiled over what to call this person and tried desperately to find a name that hinted at something Biblical. The working name I’ll use for now is pretty obvious: Jay. Yes, I could also call him J.C., but I have a friend with that name and as much as I hate to say it, he ain’t no Jesus. He’s close, but those shoes are too big for his tiny feet to fill, believe me.
Of course, I did come up with some more creative names, I think. One was Lee—being short for Galilee—and I even toyed with the notion of calling him Nezra—a play on the word Nazareth. With no intention of sounding racist, this name seemed a little black to me since the only Nezras I’ve ever known have been black. It might not be a bad idea to make him black since some believe Jesus may have actually been black. Odds are he had more of an olive complexion, but who knows for sure. This would certainly add some controversy, but that’s not really what I’m after, so why go down that road?
I did consider naming the main character Beth for Bethlehem, but that would also require a change in gender. Granted, this could add a layer to the film and intensify Jesus’ human experience—having to deal with new genitalia and more attention from guys on top of everything else—but I have no idea how I’d write that one. A female partner would help since my depictions of females have always been lacking. Hell, I don’t understand women myself, much less how to write realistic women into my screenplays!
Back to Jay.
Jay is born and lives his life as any human boy would. Maybe he has a home with loving parents or a broken home with a negligent father, who knows. I haven’t really gotten that far yet. We can assume that regardless of his upbringing, Jay is a genuinely good person with a kind heart—he’s the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, for His sake. As such, perhaps he volunteers at a soup kitchen, helps others as a social worker or simply lends a hand to anyone in need. Jay is a nice guy and, whenever possible, he is always looking out for his fellow man.
I kind of envision Jay as an activist… one of those people who are sick and tired of everything that’s wrong in the world and willing to take action while others do nothing. Unfortunately, his activism comes at a cost when it interferes with—and eventually terminates—his actual career and even his relationship with his girlfriend. Jay is on a downward spiral, but somehow manages to “keep the faith”—in more of a spiritual than religious way—and that’s when it happens.
He starts to catch glimpses of who he truly is.
At this point, my ideas get a little hazy and disjointed. I have no idea where the whole “judgment of humanity” plot line will lead—which is basically the entire third act, I imagine—but I do have some scene ideas involving Jay’s awakening. The first comes in his bathroom just after taking a shower.
Jay is standing in his bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist. His hair is wet and water is still dripping off of him as he stands there admiring himself in the small mirror over the sink. Steam still fills the room as Jay decides to check a different mirror: the full-length one behind the bathroom door.
The long mirror is fogged up, so Jay uses his still damp hand to wipe it clear. Just as he does, he notices a rather disturbing reflection that sends him leaping backwards in shock, nearly into the shower curtain and tub behind him. He slowly rises to his feet, never once taking his eyes off the reflection in front of him.
Standing there is Jesus Christ, complete with robes, sandals and that trademark beard. Even more, it isn’t some image of Jesus, like one you might see in a Sunday school book; it’s him made to look like Jesus.
Unable to believe his eyes, Jay immediately slaps himself across the face, shakes his head vigorously and checks the mirror again. This time the reflection is his own: a half-naked man dripping wet with a towel wrapped around his waist. Jay sighs with relief at what he thinks must be some kind of hallucination and just before the scene cuts, his towel accidentally falls to the ground.
That’s the first potential scene I came up with, but the second would come a short time later. By this point, Jay’s had some strange experiences that lead him to believe he might be Jesus reborn, but he still hasn’t accepted the fact completely. Maybe he decides to visit a friend—someone more religious who might be able to help—or to do some other as-yet-determined task, but this scene takes place in his car.
Jay is driving along, minding his own business and sipping from a bottle of water he just bought at a convenience store. Perhaps the soundtrack from Jesus Christ Superstar is playing, he’s typing out a text message on his cell phone or something else is distracting him, but Jay doesn’t realize he’s picked up speed.
A highway patrolman passing by him notices, though, and moments later Jay is pulled over to the side of the road. He knows a speeding ticket is coming his way and despite being a grown man, still finds himself nervous. To calm his anxiety—as the officer slowly approaches his car—Jay takes a few deep breaths and one more swallow from his water bottle. He kicks the bottle back, takes a few big slugs with his eyes closed and then opens his eyes to a damning realization: the water in the bottle is now red because he turned it into wine!
Try explaining that one to a cop with purple teeth and an open bottle of wine in your hand!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is all I have. Granted, there are some other ideas floating through my mind—and I haven’t really devoted the proper time to this idea yet—but for now, that’s everything.
So my questions for you, dear reader, are as follows: Do you think this is an idea worth pursuing? Does it seem like a film you and others would want to see? Or is it total crap and a complete waste of time?
Remember that I am not easily offended—if you manage to offend me at all, which is hard to do—and I welcome any constructive criticism, feedback or suggestions you are willing to offer. Please use the comments section and understand that anyone who attacks me for religious reasons—because using Jesus and the Bible in a fictional story is sacrilegious or something—will have their comments removed since nothing here is intended to mock Christianity or those who follow it. To them I say simply, “Lighten up.”
And who knows? I may even toss in a poll to make responding even easier. Either way, thanks for reading about my latest Big Idea despite its excessive length and my rather verbose approach. Creativity just gets me worked up, you know?
Peace out, peeps. And be good to each other.
I just finished watching a very interesting and heartwarming film and could not resist sharing it with you. It’s called People Like Us and despite coming out in 2012 to decent reviews, it is now available almost everywhere. I highly recommend that you check it out.
The film centers on Sam—an estranged son with lots of personal and legal problems—who returns home after his father dies, hoping to claim a financial inheritance large enough to get him out of trouble. His dad was a famous music producer who knew nearly every artist known to man. Unfortunately, Sam’s father leaves all his money to Josh Davis, the son of a reformed alcoholic named Frankie who Sam soon discovers is his sister.
I would describe the film more if I wasn’t afraid it would spoil something—including the “6 rules of life” Sam learned from his father as a child, which are very insightful. This is one you really need to see for yourself. Granted, it is a little slow to get going, but it also feels more like an independent film, so pacing tends to matter a little less. People Like Us also features an outstanding cast, including Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde and Michael Hall D’Addario as the troubled Josh. And believe me when I say they work very well together.
The end of the film is a bit of a tear-jerker, especially for anyone with siblings, daddy issues, family dysfunction… hell, pretty much everyone. If you find yourself sitting around some night with nothing to watch on television, check your cable provider, on-demand service, Netflix, HBO Go or whatever you choose and see if you can find People Like Us. I assure you it is worth your time to watch it.
Happy viewing, people!