New releases, 31 May 2005

Full (maybe) list at Here are some highlights. Listen to the podcast for even more.

Boogeyman (2005)

Such a memorable movie. I had to look it up on the IMDB and still had no clue what movie this was.

The Complete James Dean Collection (6-disc set) The Essential Steve McQueen Collection (7-disc set)

There. That’s for you fans of films before 1980. I hope you’re all happy now. ;-)

Danger Mouse: Seasons 1 & 2

And now there’s word leaking about a Count Duckula release. . . It’s Nickelodeon at 3:00 p.m. all over again.

The Dukes of Hazzard: Season Three (4-disc set)

Get it now before the movie ruins the prestige and glamour of the TV series. :: cough cough ::

Harper Valley P.T.A. (1978)

This wasn’t out on DVD already? Hunh.

Jamie Foxx: Straight from the Foxxhole

Cashing in on RAY a bit late, aren’t we?

Jules and Jim: The Criterion Collection (2-disc set) (1962)

I know we have a couple of Criterion junkies reading this…

Moonlighting: Seasons One & Two (6-disc set)

It’s the release of the week, and on sale at Amazon for something like $35. I can’t wait.

Next week: MacGYVER, LOIS AND CLARK, ALIEN FROM L.A. (sadly NOT the MST3K version), and a bunch of re-releases in new special edition form.

Posted in DVD

Star Wars 3 – I finally saw it

OK, the site-wide ban on STAR WARS talk is hereby lifted. Feel free to talk about the movie in the comments section below. Go ahead and spoil it all. I don’t care anymore. Amazingly, I found a couple of new things in the movie that people hadn’t managed to spoil on me in the movie’s first 9 days of release.

I liked it a whole lot. It was definitely worth my time, and I may just go back to see it again.

I loved all of Yoda’s money shots. Every time he lights up his light sabre, the camera is poised for the most dramatic or heroic post. I want my Yoda poster now.

I also want all his dialogue from the movie. Is that somewhere on the web? There’s one line of dialogue that I giggled at. It’s such a simple common sentence, but it made me laugh in Yoda speak as being particularly torturous.

It all ties together nicely, I think, and I definitely want to watch the original three movies again now. So many DVDs, so little time…

The network pilots that missed

TV Industry watchers: This is a must-read. There are a lot of forgotten pilots that people were high on not too long ago that failed to get picked up. Failed projects include a David E. Kelley medical drama, two J.J. Abrams dramas (including the bounty hunter drama that’s been pitched for an eternity now), and anything starring a BEVERY HILLS 90210 cast member.

Zap2it – TV news – Upfronts 2005: The Pilots that Didn’t Make the Cut

It was only weeks ago that industry insiders were buzzing about Alicia Silverstone’s FOX pilot “Queen Bee,” while NBC looked ready to walk the beat with a 1970s-set cop drama based on the same real-life drug bust as “The French Connection.” ABC was stoked to have the “thirtysomething” team of Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz chronicling twentysomethings with “1/4life,” while Bill Lawrence’s (“Scrubs”) “Nobody’s Watching” was going to revolutionize The WB’s comedy line-up. William Goldman’s classic Hollywood maxim that nobody knows anything goes moreso for pilot season buzz, where nearly every available actor, writer and director in town is attached to something and every show is a potential classic until schedules are announced.
Posted in TV

Movie insurance

It’s expensive to shoot a movie. Add to that the cost of insurance for the completion of the movie, which can be in the millions. And the cast ain’t cheap either. Take Nicole Kidman, for example:

Nicole Kidman’s Knee – Or, how the insurance business runs Hollywood. By Edward Jay Epstein

Nicole Kidman is a case in point. Kidman injured her right knee during the filming of Moulin Rouge in Australia in 2000, which resulted in two claims for delays and a $3 million insurance loss. In 2001, she quit Panic Room after three weeks of shooting because of her knee, a decision that almost resulted in the entire production being canceled and a $54 million insurance claim. Fortunately for the insurer, the producers decided to continue with a replacement actress, Jodie Foster. Still, they had to pay $7 million for the delay and additional expenses. As a result of all these claims, Kidman’s acting career was in limbo. When she was proposed as the star of Miramax’s Cold Mountain, Lloyd’s of London effectively turned her down by asking a 20 percent premium, which no movie could afford, while Fireman’s Fund, after noting “we have really bent over backwards and taken risks on this that no one in the marketplace was willing to take,” turned down coverage on the grounds that “the major fact that can’t be changed is our paying three claims for this actress’s knees over the years.”

She ended up putting part of her salary in escrow and using body doubles for anything involving her knee.

The article also talks about the insurance needed for TOMB RAIDER 2. The director wasn’t allowed on certain sets for fear he’d reinjure his leg.

Name that sound. . .

Here’s a great article about a famous sound:

“I set up some synthesis programs for the ASP that made it behave like a huge digital music synthesizer. I used the waveform from a digitized cello tone as the basis waveform for the oscillators. I recall that it had 12 harmonics. I could get about 30 oscillators running in real-time on the device. Then I wrote the “score” for the piece. “The score consists of a C program of about 20,000 lines of code. The output of this program is not the sound itself, but is the sequence of parameters that drives the oscillators on the ASP. That 20,000 lines of code produce about 250,000 lines of statements of the form “set frequency of oscillator X to Y Hertz”.

And what does that all add up to? That’s the THX sound you hear at the beginning of any THX-certified movie. The article includes the sound clip of the SIMPSONS episode that used the sound with permission.

All of that work was done for one long loud noise. Go fig.

When LOST fandom goes too far

When LOST fandom goes too far and gets too obsessive, you wind up with a web page like this.

Admittedly, some of it is pretty neat. It shows that the writers/directors have thought about things and planned things out. Some of it is just reaching.

In any case, who wants to play 4 8 15 16 23 42 in the lottery tonight?

Posted in TV

Rotating your tweels

There is a picture of this thing at the link. Pretty funky. It’s half tire, half wheel. And some engineers say it could be the Next Big Thing. We’ll see. . . – Radical new wheel technology

The heart of Tweel innovation is its deceptively simple looking hub and spoke design that replaces the need for air pressure while delivering performance previously only available from pneumatic tires. The flexible spokes are fused with a flexible wheel that deforms to absorb shock and rebound with ease. Without the air needed by conventional tires, Tweel still delivers pneumatic-like performance in weight-carrying capacity, ride comfort, and the ability to “envelope” road hazards. Michelin has also found that it can tune Tweel performances independently of each other, which is a significant change from conventional tires. This means that vertical stiffness (which primarily affects ride comfort) and lateral stiffness (which affects handling and cornering) can both be optimised, pushing the performance envelope in these applications and enabling new performances not possible for current inflated tires.

We love our e-mail

I’d say this isn’t surprising, but maybe it’s more like I’m just happy to read that I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Addicted to e-mail? You’re not alone | CNET

…on average, people check their mail about five times a day, and a quarter of them cannot go without it for more than three days at a stretch. More than 4,000 people across 20 U.S. cities participated in the survey, carried out by AOL in partnership with Opinion Research. As many as 77 percent of respondents to the survey said they have more than one e-mail account. […] For six out of 10 users even vacation is not the time to take a break from e-mail. Almost all of the respondents felt that it is very or somewhat important to have access to e-mail. About half of the respondents, or 47 percent, said they check their personal e-mail at work, albeit sporadically.

All’s Quiet in London

My Way News

Big Ben, the landmark London clock renowned for its accuracy and chimes, stopped ticking for 90 minutes, an engineer said Saturday. Officials do not know why the 147-year-old clock on the banks of the River Thames stopped at 10:07 p.m. Friday. It resumed keeping time, but stalled again at 10:20 p.m. and remained still for about 90 minutes before starting up again, a spokeswoman for the House of Commons said on condition of anonymity, citing government policy.

WinTel ain’t safe

I admire this piece not just for the anti-Windows aspect of it, but also for the sheer craft in writing. This is how you draw a reader in – grab him by the collar and drag him/her with you.

Mad as hell, switching to Mac

This is my first column written on a Mac – ever. Maybe I should have done it a long time ago, but I never said I was smart, just obstinate. I was a PC bigot. But now, I’ve had it. I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore. In the coming weeks I’m going to keep a diary of an experiment my company began at 6 p.m. April 29, 2005 – an experiment predicated on the hypothesis that the WinTel platform represents the greatest violation of the basic tenets of information security and has become a national economic security risk. I do not say this lightly, and I have never been a Microsoft basher, either. I never criticize a company without a fair bit of explanation, justification and supportive evidence. I have come to the belief that there is a much easier, more secure way to use computers. After having spent several years focusing my security work on Ma, Pa and the Corporate Clueless, I also have come to the conclusion that if I’m having such security problems, heaven help the 98% of humanity who merely want a computer for e-mail and multimedia. Even though I’m a security guy going on 22 years now, my day-to-day work is pretty much like everyone else’s. I live on laptops and use my desktops at home and the office for geeking and experimenting. My two day-to-day laptops (two, for 24/7 backup) are my business machines. I don’t need them to do a whole lot – except work reliably, which is why I am fed up with WinTel.

Wednesday’s TV ratings

Season Is a Success for Everyone Except NBC

The 2004-05 TV season went out with a bang when the two-hour season finales of Fox’s “American Idol” and ABC’s “Lost” drew a collective average of 51 million viewers to broadcast television. The fourth-season “Idol” conclusion, in which Carrie Underwood was named winner of the singing competition, averaged more than 30 million viewers — up about 1.5 million viewers over last spring’s finale. In the same 8-to-10 p.m. time period, the season’s last “Lost” episode logged nearly 21 million viewers. That nearly matched the new hit drama’s best number of the season, which it scored for an episode that aired before “Idol” returned to Wednesday nights. Interestingly, the two highly hyped finales did not cannibalize each other, as some industry navel-gazers had feared. Among all the broadcast networks, viewer levels were up 5 percent Wednesday night week to week.

Ratings peaked in the final half hour for both show. Even MORE people flocked to a TV at 9:30 Wednesday night. Television isn’t dead; it’s just rarely this interesting.

Posted in TV

Gilmore Girls finale repeat

The new date and time has been announced.

Zap2it – TV news – WB Will Re-Air ‘Gilmore’ Finale

Assuming someone else hasn’t spoiled the ending for them, frustrated “Gilmore Girls” fans will get another chance to see the show’s season finale in its entirety. Citing “popular demand from viewers,” The WB says it will re-air the finale at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday (May 31). It will be preceded by the season’s penultimate episode.
Posted in TV

Gargoyles Second Season DVD

From Greg Weisman, a creator and writer on GARGOYLES:

Search : Ask Greg : Gargoyles FiendSite

I’ve been authorized by Buena Vista Home Entertainment to confirm that there will indeed be another release of episodes from Gargoyles on DVD. Obviously, those episodes will come from the second season… and I have been assured that in any case the episodes will be released in the correct order.

Not much else is known yet. Stay tuned. . .