I sometimes joke when I do something particulary wrong or mean that I'll be riding in the school bus to hell. But I know I won't be driving. That job will go to Mehmet Ali Agca, who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981. Agca was recently released from prison and declared himself a messenger from God. Trust me my friend, when the time comes, you'll get the message.
Until this year, in it's entire history, only three women have been nominated for an Academy Award for directing: Lina Wertmiller, Jane Campion and Sophia Coppola. In that same time, the Director's Guild of America has nominated four - the three mentioned above and Barbra Streisand. Until this year, no woman has won either prize. Of course, I said "Until this year." Congratulations to Kathryn Bigelow, who took home the top prize this week for her work on "The Hurt Locker."
It should also be noted that only six times in the past has the winner of the DGA not won the Oscar. And two of those times, the directors who won the DGA - Steven Spielberg for "The Color Purple" and Ron Howard for "Apollo 13," were not even nominated that year for the Oscar.
Though he turned down the chance to helm "Spiderman 4," it appears Sam Raimi will keep his hands in the genre. He is in talks to direct the new installment of "The Shadow."
"Star Trek" and "Heroes" star Zachary Quinto is director Steven Spielberg's first choice to star in a proposed bio-pic of composer George Gershwin.
Taylor Lautner has signed to play the starring role in "Stretch Armstong." I know, I know. According to the press release from Universal: ôIn the past two years, Taylor has emerged as a real star at the global box office. He brings the perfect balance of energy and athleticism to the role of an unlikely super hero with a fantastic super power.ö Yeah, that makes sense. Let's see...global box office revenues from the 13 projects Lautner did that did not have the word "Twilight" in the title: $121 million, most of that thanks to "Cheaper by the Dozen 2." Total box office take for the movies that HAD "Twilight" in the title: $484 million. I should also add that the total box office take of ANYONE that has been in the two "Twiligh" flicks also equals $484 million. Good luck Universal stockholders.
So intrigued by his inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp is currently following Keith Richards around with a camera for a documentary he is making about the Rolling Stone guitarist. The film will be titled "Happy."
The powers that be at 20th Century Fox have greenlit a remake of "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" to be the new beginning of the series. The idea is that the film will show the rise of Casear, the first intellegent ape, and then follow the series through it's original paces. Only problem is that no one wants to direct it. Several directors, including Robert Rodriguez and Kathryn Bigelow, have said no.
In sequel news, the same braintrust at Universal that thinks Taylor Lautner is a global star (and hey, if "Stretch Armstrong" makes money I'll be the first to apologize) has begun production of "Fast Five." Yes, kiddies, it's the FOURTH sequel to "The Fast and The Furious," starring those great thespians Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. The Walt Disney Company is hoping to produce a sequel to "Enchanted," while Warner Brothers is talking to Russell Crowe to star opposite Beyonce' in the FOURTH version of "A Star Is Born."
The month of February is turning out to be a bad one for "Jaws" fans. In 2006, on February 11th, we lost the book's author, Peter Benchley. In 2008, on February 10th, we mourned the passing of the great Roy Scheider. Now this month it saddens me to report the passing of producer David Brown, who died at his New York home on February 1. He was 93. Brown was not your typical film producer. He was a movie fan and his taste in films was reflected in the films he made. He began his career at 20th Century Fox, reading scripts and making suggestions. It is rumored that, when he read the script to "Love Me Tender," that Brown suggested it be a pefect vehicle for Elvis Presley. The studio agreed and Presley made his movie debut. He worked his way up the ladder at Fox, helping guide such films as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" to huge box office profits. In 1973 he teamed up with former Fox head Richard Zanuck to form the Zanuck/Brown company. One of their first projects as executive producer was "The Sting," which went on to win seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Brown was married to Helen Gurley, who was the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. Often she would receive "galleys" of upcoming novels to be considered for highlighting in the magazine. While at her office one day, Brown saw a bundle of papers with the simple word JAWS on top. Intrigued, he took it home and read the book overnight. The next day he had his partner read it. Two days later they had bought the movie rights. Brown later stated that if he'd read the book a second time he never would have bought it because he would have realized there was no way you could make a movie out of it. The team had produced "The Sugarland Express" and hired that films director, Steven Spielberg, to direct "JAWS." Despite going months over schedule and millions over budget, the film was a boxoffice and critical success, becoming the first film to gross over $100 million in it's first release. Other films produced by Mr. Brown, both with and without Zanuck, include "The Eiger Sanction," "Jaws 2," "Neighbors," "The Verdict," "Cocoon" and it's sequel, "Driving Miss Daisy," "A Few Good Men," "Deep Impact" and "Chocolat." He received four Academy Award nominations for Best Picture ("Jaws," "The Verdict," "A Few Good Men" and "Chocolat"). Though both "The Sting" and "Driving Miss Daisy" did win the Best Picture awards, Brown was an executive producer on them, not the line producer, which is why he did not receive Oscar credit. In 1991 he and Zanuck were honored with the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Award.
Aaron Ruben, writer/producer of such television classics as "The Andy Griffith Show," "Gomer Plye U.S.M.C." and "Sanford and Son" passed away this week due to complications from pneumonia. He was 95. A gifted writer (he wrote or co-wrote 150 episodes of "Gomer Pyle" alone), Ruben got his start on Sid Caesars' "Comedy Hour" and "The Milton Berle Show," working his way to "Andy Griffith" and then it's "Gomer Pyle" spin off. Mr. Ruben earned three Emmy nominations for his work on "Sanford and Son."
"Some Girls" by the Rolling Stones
"Flash Gordon" Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Music composed and performed by Queen
Remember a few weeks ago when I recounted how I won the Gerry Rafferty album? I mentioned that I was working the graveyard shift at a Farm Store. I bring that up now because pretty much every night I worked there I was blasting "Some Girls" from my cassette player. I was introduced to the Rolling Stones by the Drinnenberg brothers, Mark and Matthew. Yes, I knew who they were but only the hits. Mark and Matt showed me the band that created them. I will always associate the summer/fall of 1978 with the Stones and with this album. As you can see by the cover, the album stood out when it hit stores. With more then 6 million copies sold, it was the Stones' biggest selling album in the states. The album was a cool die-cut design which featured the band and several famous women with garrishly painted lips, among them Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball, Farrah Fawcett and Raquel Welch. Representatives for the actresses, as well as Liza Minelli on the part of her mother, Judy Garland, threatened legal action for using their likenesses withou permission. It should be noted that Garland's photo is untouched and on the rear of the album sleeve. The album contains such radio staples as "Miss You" and "Beast Of Burden," as well as rockers like "Respectable" and "Shattered." It also includes the bands foray into country music, a little ditty titled "Far Away Eyes." The album was nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy Award, losing out to the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack.
"FLASH! AHHHHHH! Savior of the universe!"
December 9, 1980. I remember clearly the day I saw "Flash Gordon" because it was the day after John Lennon was murdered. I was stationed at Fort Leavenworth and a fellow soldier friend of mine, who had seen it over the weekend, suggested I go see it to clear my mind. The film did it's part, at least up until the part where Dr. Zarkov begins recalling all of the things he did to keep his memory from being cleared, ending with "I even remembered songs from the Beatles." At this line my friend elbowed me in the ribs, kind of a smart ass way to say "ain't no more Beatles buddy!" Nice guy. I'd like to say I got my revenge on him by sleeping with his wife after he was sent to Germany but that would be indiscreet.
Many bands get their "sound" from their guitarists. The music of U2 is unmistakable because of the Edge. And Queen carries the distinctive sound of Brian May. What is great about the "Flash Gordon" soundtrack is that the band divided the film into sequences and then each member wrote the music to those scenes. Brian May handled the main theme and the majority of the flying sequences, while Freddie Mercury, John Deacon and Roger Taylor worked on others. They all then came together and put together a pretty kick ass score.
I actually enjoyed the film, though I wasn't impressed with Sam J. Jones, who played Flash. Prior to this film he was best known as Bo Derek's husband in the film "10." In fact, I used to sing my own lyrics to the theme song:
He's saved every one of us
Acts better then none of us
He's nobody's friend
He was better in "10"
'cause at least in "10"
He didn't have to act...
Thank you very much.
Much to my chagrin, Sam J. Jones still continues to act.
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya.
"Mike's Rant" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.