Monday, September 25, 2006

Wither 'Lestat'?

All of this recent hoo-fer-oo about Brad Pitt taking over the Mission: Impossible franchise got me thinking about the last time the Pitt and the Cruise collided: Interview With a Vampire.

Here was a movie that had everything going for it. Two stars in full bloom (and a third, Kirsten Dunst, just waiting to be done with puberty). A devoted fanbase that was both incited to bloodlust by the author (Anne Rice famously decried Tom Cruise's casting) and then mollified by same (she later recanted after seeing the film). And a major studio bankrolling it to the tune of $50 million, with Neil Jordan at the helm.

It worked. When Interview came out in 1994, it was both a critical and financial hit. It made more than $100 million stateside (and this was back when $100 million meant something), and grossed another $120 million overseas.

Now, this is a book that's a first in a series. What's more, the second book, The Vampire Lestat, is even better than the first. So, where was the sequel? Didn't they want to make some more money? When a movie does that well, and the major characters aren't dead, and you've actually subtitled the film with the phrase "The Vampire Chronicles," you all but have to do another, right?

Hell, even Amy Pascal, who greenlit the horrific Godzilla remake knows the name of this tune: "If a movie makes $400 million, you make a sequel," Pascal said to EW a while back, in reference to a rumored Godzilla 2. "It's that simple."

So, why no Lestat? Did neither Cruise not Pitt want to take part? Fine. Recast, especially today, in this world chock full of pretty white boys. I'm sure Rice had to part with the rights to the series as part of her initial deal—why leave that property lying fallow, out back with the unused gardening equipment and rusty lawn furniture?

Money, left on the table. I'm just saying...

Friday, September 22, 2006


There are times, while writing, that I literally bang my head against the wall for want of an idea that is good enough, sharp enough, incisive enough to make it on the air as a network series. And I've finally figured out what my problem is: I was born at the wrong time. See, if I was born 20 years earlier, I could've sold a show like this:

Beautiful crap like this just doesn't have a place on modern television. And that's a damned shame.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mea Culpa

I have been away, and too long, I know. And what's more, I left you with nothing but a Kirk/Spock slash video. Unforgivable. (Unless, of course, you're into that sort of thing. Then, you're welcome.)

Things have been a little crazy. Toronto kicked my ass a bit. (I know you may think it's easy, but seeing 14 movies in 3 days is exhausting. You can play that smallest violin all you want: When you don't really control the programming and have to jockey all over town, from theater to theater, to see movies that, on the whole, aren't good, it'll take some of the punch out of you.)

Got back to the real world to face a little apocalypse at work: One of my mentors is leaving, after being with EW since the very beginning. The news of his departure left a crater-like wound in the week, and its fall-out will color the rest of my year. Then had some writing to do: The second issue of that Wildstorm mini isn't gonna write itself, no matter how much we beg.

Plus, a back-to-school night, a 3am marathon at the office, and, occasionally, seeing the wife and playing with the kids. Been a little busy. But I'm back on the stick, as they say.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Trek on the Wild Side

Thanks to Heidi at The Beat for the heads up...

In Spock's defense, Kirk did look mighty purty in them there combat capris.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And What a 'Feast' It Was

Still in Toronto. Still seeing movies. Nothing I saw today had the same boob-to-running time ratio as yesterday's offerings, in which both Kate Winslet in Little Children and the Dutch Jennifer Jason Leigh lookalike in Zwarzboek spent lots of screen time sans accountrements. But every day can't be Christmas, can it?

Monday night, though, while breast-free, was still pretty remarkable. Before I left the office, I got a call from a Weinstein Co. publicist who told me that they were thinking about screening Feast—the John Gulager-directed product of last year's Project Greenlight 3—in Toronto. And they were thinking about doing it Monday night. I said I'd do my best to catch it.

And so I did. Cabbed my way over to a strangely barren part of Toronto—not a person to be seen on the streets, most of the storefronts were shuttered and gated, like the roadshow version of The Warriors was coming to town--and had the driver stop in front of the decaying theater that had the word "FEAST" on the old-school marquee. Since I was about an hour early, I grabbed a beer at a bar a few steps from the theater. While I'm sitting there, killing time, in walks a young woman who tries to hand be a flier, saying "Wanna see a horror flick?" I reply, "Yeah, that's why I'm here." She proceeded to move on and paper the rest of the bar with Feast fliers.

Then, in walks the man himself. John Gulager. Leading a rag-tag group of rebels that look like members of the cast and crew of Feast. Into the same bar I'm in, maybe the only place in a square mile that's got lights on.

Post beer, I make my way into the theater. I figure I must be earlier than I thought, as it's pretty scarce in there. Maybe a dozen people, tops. I avoid the "reserved seats" and grab a sweet seat right in the middle. I hear a little rumbling and in walks the Gulager posse, who fill a few of the reserved seats. Michael Rooker, of all people (you know, the other driver in Days of Thunder, Rowdy Burns or something), sits in front of me. He's not in the movie, so his presence will remain a mystery.

Gulager, poor Gulager, steps up to a mic right in front of the screen and does a little schtick for the crowd. Of 12. As if he's the Conquering Hero of Sundance, regaling the gathered intelligensia with tales of filmmaking vim and vigor.

And then the film begins. And it's not embarassing. Gulager can make a movie. He knows where to put the camera and he knows how to make the nothing he had to work with look like something. The real problem lies with the script, the writers of which seem to think that just pointing out genre conventions is equal to subverting them, elevating them. And if you're not going to be as unique or polished or inventive as Evil Dead 2 or Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, your people-stuck-in-an-enclosed-space-with-monsters-from-the-pit-attacking-them movie had better be smarter. And Feast wasn't.

But it did have this one fantastic moment. The film establishes, with great humor, that the monsters that are assaulting the people trapped this middle-of-nowhere bar can reproduce in record minutes. A pair of characters have to retrieve something crucial from a part of the bar that they've sealed off. They send one guy (Balthazar Getty, of all people) into the cordoned-off area. Naturally, the monsters see he's in there and attack. Getty runs to the door, beastie hot on his heels. He makes it through, and they slam the door right behind him...catching some part of the monster in the door. And then comes this immortal line, my rallying cry of the Toronto Film Festival, uttered with a frenzied grace:

"Monster cock, stuck in the door!"

Monster cock, stuck in the door. There's wisdom, there. Somewhere. Hidden in the demon pubes, maybe.

Oh, Canada...

I'm in lovely downtown Toronto for the International Film Festival (or as the French Canadiens would probably have me say, un Festival du Film). And so far, since landing yesterday afternoon, I've seen 5 movies. While I can't say any of them were truly good, except maybe Paul Verhoeven's WWII boobfest Zwartboek (Black Book), they were all interesting in different ways.

And, yes, I have seen John Gulager's Project Greenlight opus, Feast. More about that one later...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Boston Creme

I'm a native New Yorker. I'm pretty sure I've established that fact before. I was born in the Bronx, went through puberty on Long Island, started working at EW while I was living in Queens. Sure, now I live in New Jersey, but I'm a New Yorker, always will be.

So, like most New Yorkers, I've got my September 11th story. I was on the ground that day, when the Towers fell. Didn't lose anyone, but felt the loss nonetheless. But my story doesn't take place in Manhattan, or New York for that matter.

My wife has these friends, see, and they're huge Red Sox fans. So, once a year, they take a pilgrimage up to Fenway for beer, dogs, and baseball. Despite being a lifelong Yankees fan, I agreed to go because A) they're good people, B) my wife wanted to go, and C) I love a good ballpark hot dog. We made the arrangements in August 2001. We were set to head up the third weekend of September.

After 9/11, there was a lot of discussion about whether we should travel or not, whether it would be safe to go to another large city so soon after the attacks. It was eventually decided that, like so many other choices that year, if we didn't go then the terrorists have won.

So we got in the car and went to Boston. It was an uneventful trip in that nothing else blew up or fell down. But when we got to Fenway, it was something else entirely.

Now, I'm not a big baseball fan. I like the Yankees because I'm a New Yorker and that's my job. If I go to a ball game I go for lunch. The eats are good, it's a nice day in the sun, and I'm a fat bastard. I'm gone by the 7th inning, as I don't usually give a toss who wins. So I'm in Fenway, with my dog and my beer and ready to watch a team I didn't really care about beat another team I, if possible, cared even less for. The seats were decent enough, and it was a cool night. While all was, clearly, not right with the world, that evening would do.

Then came the 7th Inning Stretch. Usually, I'm gone by now, so actually sticking around was something new to me. So I stood. And stretched. And then the most amazing thing I've ever seen happened.

The announcer said that in honor of those who lost their lives at Ground Zero, they'd be playing a little song. The music began, and those famous vocals kicked in, and not a person in that ballpark was silent, every voice kicked up as high as it could. A shiver ran down my spine, a frog jumped up in my throat, and tears started splashing my cheeks.

We were singing "New York, New York."

Now I can't imagine, given the historic, legendary bad blood between the Yankees and the Red Sox, that that song had ever been sung inside Fenway Park before. Not on purpose, and not with such a palpable sense of love and respect. And remember, this was before Boston finally won a World Series, so those Sox fans were as righteously bitter as ever.

But that night...

That's the story I will tell my children when they ask me about 9/11. So that's what I tell you tonight.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New 'Monster' Hotness

This, from Nima Sorat, our new artist on Monster Attack Network. (And since Larry put it up on the AiT site, I figure it's fair game. So don't yell, Lar.)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


A sweet little webcomic I found the other day, written by Elizabeth Genco—who I've met twice thus far, first at the inaugural New York Comic Con, and again with her husband Leland Purvis while toasting UK writer Tony Lee's stateside visit—called Scheherazade. About, fittingly enough, a woman who tells stories for a living. Literally.

Go see. (Scroll down to the bottom for the beginning.)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This Kid Thinks I'm an Idiot

That's my son, Luc. A little over two. And he thinks I'm a moron.

He's just starting to wrap his mind around speech. Says a bunch of words, but he's not what you would call English. But I'm convinced he's fluent in his own language. And is getting frustrated that I don't comprehend it.

Last night, I walk into the kitchen and he's sitting on the floor in front of the fridge, looking at pictures of family and friends. I ask him "What's up, buddy?" And he stands up, looks me dead in the eye, points into the middle distance, and says "Puw Bowwy."

I run through the 15 things I think he could be talking about. None of them seemed to be it. Then, he spoke to me the same way you speak to a foreigner: He repeated the same thing, just louder and slower, as if the reason I didn't understand was I was deaf and retarded.


Then he gave up and walked away.

He's not supposed to think I'm an idiot until much later.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


My man Matt Fraction is thinking big thoughts. In case you don't know him, what the hell's wrong with you? He's a writer of high talent and high style, one who drops comic book love in lots of flavors. You want a dusty '70s heist book? Last of the Independents. You want scientists getting all scientifical with truth and justice? Five Fists of Science. You want a twisted, wicked smart spy-fi book that's like Our Man Flint on more acid than it already was? Casanova. And he's working with Ed Frikkin' Brubaker on Iron Fist for Marvel.

Yeah, I know.

And now he's thinking about a book on Lincoln.

He's one of those guys who, if I didn't already like him, I'd have to drag him into a dark alley and go to work on him with a pair of pliers and a blow torch...simply so I didn't have to worry about the competition.

It's hard enough trying to break into comics without guys like him walking around, thinking up The Nuts.