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Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2008!
   Assistant Editor:  Terence Nuzum.     Advertising and Promotions:  Andy Lalino.     HOME     ARCHIVES
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our ninth calendar year!
Number 412  (Vol. 9, No. 7). This edition is for the week of February 11--17, 2008.

"Diary of the Dead"
Toy Shop--R.I.P.
Book Review: Full Wolf Moon by K. L. Nappier
Roy The Boy
Roy .... Now There Are Only 5 .... Indy .... Bye Bye Roger .... .... .... .... .... And The Oscar For 1979 Should Have Gone To... o
Writers Strike Ends

Well, the great news for movie industry professionals is that the months-old WGA union writers' strike is finally over.

Members of the Writers Guild of America, 12,000 strong, announced a near-unanimous vote Tuesday night on what some are calling the best contract negotiation in over 30 years.

The main point of contention has always been the share of profits from internet sales. Producers initally balked at their demand, but on the 100th day of the walk-out, a breakthrough was made.

As best as I remember it, the new arrangement is a $1200 flat fee for work distributed on the internet the first two years, followed by 2% of distributors' grosses after that.

TV and movie production will finally resume schedule starting this week, although many productions may be irretrievably lost due to cancellations or delay.

Remembering Roy Scheider   by Michael A. Smith

My friend died this week. We hadn’t spoken to each other in 20 years or had been in the same room together for even longer. If pressed, I wondered if he would have even remembered my name. I certainly knew his. As did most of you reading this. His name is Roy Scheider. He was an actor. And he left this world all too soon this week at the age of 75.

As a teenage fan of the film “JAWS” I wrote the usual gushing fan letters to the cast. I received a note from Richard Dreyfuss’ cousin, Arlene, who asked me if I would like to help her run Richard’s fan club. Good start. It took more than two years for my reply from Robert Shaw. On August 28, 1978 Robert Shaw passed away. That afternoon the mailman brought me an autographed 5”x7” photograph signed, simply, ‘Robert Shaw.’ I also received a note from a gentleman who told me he represented Roy Scheider and that “Roy is not interested in a fan club.” In September 1977 I learned that “Jaws 2” was filming in the Florida panhandle, several hours from my Tampa home. Some detective work revealed where the cast was staying and soon I was dropping a letter off at the front desk, asking that it be placed in Mr. Scheider’s mailbox. 10 days later I received a note from Roy’s publicist, as well as a handwritten message from Roy, authorizing me to start his official fan club. I was stunned.
For the next few years I was granted unbelievable access to a man who not only inspired me with his talent but with his generosity. Whether it was unexpected phone calls from locations (my favorite being the day Roy “killed” the shark in “Jaws 2,” with my stopping him in mid sentence each time he tried to tell me the method used), quick notes to let me know what he was working on or the countless handwritten answers to fan questions for the quarterly newsletter, he would ensure that his fans were treated well. Roy did not take his fans for granted. On the contrary, he often seemed surprised at his popularity. Anytime a fan would send a drawing or photo of Roy that they wanted autographed, he would take the time to not only sign it, but often personalize it. Some of his fan mail came from men that had served with him in the Air Force. When one of those letters arrived I made sure he saw it. Roy always sent his fellow servicemen a note, often sharing stories of their days in the service. In one of my written interviews I noted that he had worn the same watch in almost all of his films. I jokingly added that if he ever got tired of it I knew someone that would take it off his hands. He replied, “IF I ever get tired of it, it’s yours.”

I last saw Roy in January 1985. He was hosting “Saturday Night Live” and had arranged for me to sit in the audience for the dress rehearsal and then hang backstage in the wings during the live show. When I met him at NBC that afternoon I dropped off a pile of items that required his signature. Later that night, meeting up with him after the show, I was surprised that he had found the time to autograph everything. He invited me to the cast party but, as I had a three hour drive back to Baltimore and work on Sunday morning, I decided to say my goodbyes then. We shook hands and in the same motion Roy gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. He then made his way out into the New York City night. Sometime later I turned the fan club over to another longtime fan, but she didn’t have the enthusiasm or time needed to keep it running and the Roy Scheider Fan Club faded away.

I never saw Roy after that night. Of course, as a fan I continued to follow his career. In 1989 he remarried and started a family that includes son Christian and daughter Molly. As the kids grew Roy curtailed his workload, making sure he spent time at home. Sadly, Roy passed the day before his 19th wedding anniversary. This week I have received calls and emails from friends new and old, each of them expressing sincere sadness over Roy’s passing. It’s a testament to the man himself that these people knew how much of an impact Roy had on my life. And that they took the time to express their condolences is a great tribute to Roy’s spirit.

My friend died this week. And while he may have had trouble remembering me I will always remember him.

Hillary in Touble?
I realize I'm running a wee bit behind commenting on this one, but the big news last weekend was Barack Obama's 3-state sweep in the Democratic presidential primaries, handily beating Hillary Clinton, in what is seen as a fairly surprising upset. In fact, Obama has won all eight of the most recent eight contests.

Hillary, apparently furious at her lagging popularity, fired her campaign manager, and a few days later another top official in her organization resigned. I remember saying about a month ago, "what a difference a year makes." Now I feel like redacting that to "what a difference a month makes."

Last year at this time the election was forecast to be basically between Hillary Clinton and Rudolph Giuliani! The hottest political topic deemed to decide the winner was "obviously" going to be whose plan to withdraw troops from Iraq would be the fastest.

ED Tucker talks to George Romero about the 40th Anniversary of Night of the Living Dead
Mike Smith looks at the 80th Annual Academy Award Nominations

The tides have changed. John McCain lept from near-obscurity in the Republican ticket to top numbers. Giuliani dropped out. The next closest favorite, Mitt Romney, as well. Iraq, supposedly in an improving situation, is fading from constant headline territory, replaced by the fading economy instead, which is teetering on recession. Hillary is certainly far from out of the race (although it's been said if she doesn't win both the upcoming Texas and Ohio primaries, she's out), but rival Barack Obama's everyman, easygoing optimism, reminding many of John Kennedy at a similiar time in his career (but if I may paraphrase the late Senator Lloyd Benson, he's "no Jack Kennedy") has diverted the media from continuing to focus on his African-American ethnicity. Despite his never really setting any clear agendas (or maybe because of it), he's got an amazing shot at walking away with this.

It's generally acknowledged John McCain has the Republican nomination sewed up. He's nearing his delegate goals, far ahead of his only opponents, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul (sad to say).

As far as delegates for the Democrats, it's still a pretty close heat....so far. All eyes are on Texas and Ohio.

Readers' Comments

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Crazed FanComments -- We Welcome Reader Feedback on any article(s) on this page.         
It's comin'!! It's comin!!!
Paul Guzzo  
So ... any big news in the world today?
Ha ha! No, guys, it was the Village Inn and there's a really special little story that goes with it. It\'ll be up on the homepage Wednesday. OK, maybe Tuesday.
Paul Guzzo  
I'm on your team here Nolan. For free pancakes, I'd do just about anything ... even have breakfast with a certain professional. MMMM... pancakes ....
Boss, you're not doing the "I'll make you famous for free pancakes" thing again, are you? :-)
Hello, Samantha. I just now got the picture from our friends. I usually don't update my website with new material until mid-week. But I will email you a copy immediately.
teresa basco  
Hi this is samantha from the pancake house last night Nolan canova. I want to know when my pic is going to be put on your website . Plase put it on there soon.
ED, got them below retail at a toy show. Time to make some money!

T, glad you liked "There Will Be Blood" as much as I did (or maybe more since you gave it a star more then I could) I wouldn't want to be accused of giving EVERY movie 4 stars without your agreeing!
There Will Be Blood 5 out of 4 Stars.
Lonnie Dohlen  
Ed,There was a Commercial for BUDDY L during the Sat Oct 30,1993 of DPB's 20th Anniversary on WTOG 44 between the hours of 12 & 2PM.It's on one of the Videos
The news of the shooting/suicide at Northern Illinois University (7 dead as of this writing) is shocking and I'm not ignoring it. There won't be time for me to comment on it this issue, save for this: my heart goes out to the families of the victims, as it does for all the school shootings that seem to have become epidemic in our country. There is no reason for this. There never is.
Mike - don't pitch those issues of Toy Shop, they may end up collector's items in their own right. Also, the American Gladiator series were dogs as action figures but they are very popular with customizers because of their scale and body sculpt. You should at least be able to get your money back on those if you only paid retail.
ED, nice piece on Toy Shop. I've picked up several copies over the years, usually to get a price guide for what I have in boxes! Anyone need a case of "American Gladiator" figures, circa mid 1980s? :-)
Next week I will be doing capsule reviews of the four Best Picture nominees that I didn't reveiw in full last year. With the exception of "No Country for Old Men," I saw the other four prior to their release dates but, because they only opened in a few select cities, chose to submit reviews on films that had opened nationally.

Terrence, did you see "There Will Be Blood?" If so, on a scale of 0-4, what did you think?

Matt, thanks for the note. We've had our share of fun sayings between us these past 30 plus years and "Dear Roy..." is one of the best.
Paul Guzzo  
Doesn't that star Gus Perez?!
By the way when are you going to do a whole review on There Will Be Blood?
i suppose its like Nolan said...you are just generous. i find it hard to like that many films nowadays.
Mike, that tribute to Roy is quite 'emotion stirring'.

I still can't believe he's gone.
These are the films that usually end up on my DVD shelf the day they go on sale. And not that I need to defend my choices, but I will say that the majority of films that I have given high marks to have received them nationally, so it's not like I'm some rogue reviewer. T, you didn't consider Roy Scheider that good an actor. That's your opinion. And probably Billy Corgans. But you're entitled to it as I am entitled to mine. Long story short, I was unimpressed with "Diary of the Dead."
As someone who tries to find something good in every film I see, it does take something really BAD to earn less then 2 stars (The Medallion, Basic Instinct 2, House of Wax). Like Nolan pointed out, I do consider 2 stars below average. If you read my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes you'll see that in their Rotten/Fresh rating system middle of the road is Rotten, a notch above is fresh. Also, though maybe unfairly, I try to consider the filmmakers. Last year I gave Rob Zombie's "Halloween" 3 stars. Though I wasn't that thrilled by it, I elected to put the Carpenter version out of my mind and really didn't want to compare them. What little I did (the backstory, etc) gave a little more credit to Zombie. On the other hand, though I LOVE Steven Spielberg, comparing "Hook" to "Jaws" is unrealistic. I thought "Hook" SUCKED! As for my four star ratings, Terence, I give that rating to films I wish I could watch over again as soon as they end. (see next post above)
Chris Woods  
I also like to see Romero do something else, even though I love his dead series. I like him to do something maybe in the style of Martin (not about vampires, just the vibe and look of that film) I still like to check out Diary, although I heard nothing good about it. I don't think it's even playing around here.
The PCR movie rating system is only exceeded by the hitcounter in terms of things I might've done differently in the beginning to avoid confusion.

The movie rating system I set up is a five-point system (not four) where "zero" is counted as an integer. "Zero" in this case doesn't mean "nothing", it means "worthless", and I did this because I feel some movies deserve zero stars (tho, ironically, it hasn't happened yet since we've been publishing).

HOWEVER.... your point is still valid in that "2" still counts as average (with 2 points above it, 2 points below it).

Until Mike elaborates, I can only surmise that since most movies get at least 2½ stars and up from him, Mike did feel a simple flat "2" was, for him personally, below average.
Kinda wish Romero would move on from the Dead films...Never thought Id say this...But Im feeling a lil zombied out...The genre deserves a rest...
Nolan, My original point was that I thought Mike gave Diary of the Dead a pretty poor review (and deservedly so based on his comments) but his rating seemed to place it in the mediocre category (2 stars out of 4, dead center of the scale). That was why I questioned how additionally bad a film would have to be for him to rate it a 0 or 1 star.
Mike loves movies, and he's usually pretty generous, but it's not true everything gets 4 stars. Just recently, he gave "Rambo" 1½ stars and there are a few 2-star reviews scattered around (like, of course, this issue's Diary of the Dead ED commented on). Mike was admittedly generous with Cloverfield (everyone else's motion-sickness resulted in many bad reviews). I'll admit the lion's share of reviews hover pretty close to around 3 stars, plus-or-minus a half.

To the best of my best recollection, Mike has never given a movie zero or one star. However, when I was writing them more regularly, I thought there was at least one movie I gave either a one or a half-star to, but it's been ages and I couldn't find it when I went to go look for it, so maybe it's just my imagination.
dont even get me started on the Mike Smith review system haha. everything seems to get 4 stars.
ED, thanks. Retrorama must've gotten here after I'd already shut the computer down for the night. I have it now, though. Thanks again.

I also hope the shaky-BlairWitch-cam fad that's so popular in movies now becomes a thing of the past quickly. What the heck caused it to resurrect so pervasively lately? Do producers think enough people have forgotten about its use years ago that it now appears original again??
Oh and sorry Diary of the Dead was such a stinker but I've had a bad feeling about it all along. I hate shakey-cam films. Blair Witch literally made me sick from all the motion. Romero didn't have much nice to say about that film so I am surprised he carried over so many of it's weaknesses into Diary.

BTW Mike - how bad does a film have to be to get one or no stars in your book? Your review of Diary made it sound like a complete stinkaroo but it still gets half points?
Awesome piece Mike! I would have made that cast party though, even if I had to call in sick or quit my job!

Nolan - Retrorama should have been in your mailbox yesterday. I was a day behind due to scheduling conflicts but it's there.
Thanks J. One of my fondest memories of the night at SNL was standing next to Jim Belushi during Steven Wright's bit...for some reason Belushi couldn't hear Wright so I had to keep repeating the joke.

Roy was surely one of a kind.
Mike your rememberence of Roy Scheider was very touching...How cool it must have been to be invited to hang out in NYC for SNL...I bet very few stars would be as kind to their fans...
Paul Guzzo  
Fantastic reviews this month.
The TFR Reviews are up. Time intensive, tho. So I'm running a little behind this week. Where is everybody else?
End of Comments    

"Mike's Rant" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2008 by Matthew Drinnenberg     "This Week's Movie Review" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith    "Oddservations" is ©2008 by Andy Lalino    "FANGRRL" is ©2008 by Lisa Ciurro    "Retrorama" is ©2008 by ED Tucker    "Filmlook" is ©2008 by Paul Guzzo      All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova    
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