Welcome to The Morning Read.
Another late start over here, but there's so much out there that's worth reading that I wanted to make sure I had a column for you, even if it's essentially the Bedtime Read at this point. Make sure you check out our story on the scheduling change for Universal's "The Thing," which took up some of my morning. And I had to get a couple of other things ready for the week ahead, which includes screenings of some of the biggest films of the fall.
The smoke has finally settled, and it looks like Mike White is going to be the director on "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies," one of the top-priority projects for Lionsgate. I confess… I'm still not sure this one's going to work. I think it's a joke that gets old about the moment you first hear of it. The title is the best thing about the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, and I'm curious to see if this turns into another "Snakes On A Plane," or if there's really an audience out there for a Jane Austen movie with dismemberments thrown in.
There was a very smart comment Jon Favreau made during our visit to the editing room of "Cowboys and Aliens," in which he talked about how he used the hook of the alien invasion to get a studio to let him make a real Western. "I could have walked into most studios and pitched a film called '… and Aliens,' and I could have walked out with a deal. But even with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig attached, I don't think I could have sold 'Cowboys' anywhere." He's right, of course. Right now, there are roughly 9,748,261 alien invasion films being prepped for release in the next three years, and another one has been added to the line-up, called "Year 12," and it now has a director. Fredrik Bond is a commercial filmmaker who is attached to several films around town, and now he's set to direct this story of how humanity fights to reclaim the Earth over a decade after the beginning of an alien invasion.
And now that he's off of "Ouija," Pierre Morel has moved on to developing "EDF: Earth Defense Force," which is set after our first engagement with alien fighters, as Earth scrambles to find a team who can stand up to the menace when it returns. Sam Raimi is one of the producers of the film, and it sounds like it's a priority for all involved.
Tim Gunn's a crazy person, but this is a very funny image anyway.
Tina Fey is great, and this is a wonderful acceptance speech:
This is a lovely, kind piece, and as much as I love the sentiment, I am baffled how anyone ever took anything Gene Shalit wrote on film seriously. Did he actually write? Or is he just an on-camera personality? He has been reviewing films as long as I've been alive, literally, and he has been a consistent barometer for me of how not to treat the conversation about movies. Still, like I said, Maltin is a lovely guy and this is a nice goodbye to his friend.
Would you live in Googletown?
Did you know Eric D. Snider was a time traveler? Well, he must be, because he has an excellent look back at the year 2020 in film that you should check out. "In happier news, Katherine Heigl lost the ability to speak." Indeed.
Mick Garris is doing some of the best genre interviews anywhere right now with his "Post Mortem" series, and this week, John Landis is his subject. Part one is excellent, and available now.
There's a new black hole in town, and it's got astrophysicists in a tizzy.
Did you get the new Girl Talk album today? Because it's so much fun.
Harsh words for Harrison Ford, especially since "Morning Glory" is one of the most enjoyable things he's done in a while, and the first act of "Cowboys and Aliens" suggests that Ford is about to have his first non-"Indiana Jones" megahit in a while. Now is not the time to count him out, as I think he's finally become comfortable with the idea of playing an older version of his iconic persona.
Hey, speaking of film critics, does this seem like a wee bit of an overreaction to anyone else?
Peter Sciretta of /Film, who just celebrated a birthday, posted a picture in his Twitter feed the other day of what scientists believe today the T-Rex actually looked like. I love the way our understanding of dinosaurs continues to evolve, and this picture is quite striking.
Sean Connery is not a fan of idiots.
You want to see what a hero looks like? Check this kid out.
The scholarly dissection of Tarantino's career has just begun, and I think it's going to be fun watching people dig into his work in the future. Here's a preview.
And speaking of Tarantino, this is a great piece by the always-smart Matt Zoller Seitz about the state of the art of modern stuntwork.
This should worry me, right? This should worry all of us, right?
Tell me what you think… if the NY Times starts a best-seller list for self-published eBooks, that is going to change the face of publishing in general, right? Or am I just being optimistic?
I didn't realize my co-writer Scott Swan used the pseudonym "Westwood." Duly noted.
An iPhone Viewmaster? That's mighty cool.
I already hate clowns. This just proves I'm right.
One of the particular pleasures of being a genre nerd is the monster movie, and there is a special corner of my personal fandom dedicated to the hard-working men and women who wear the suits and the make-up that make our favorite monsters come to life. When I was working on "Pro-Life," the second "Masters Of Horror" episode I did with John Carpenter, one of the joys was watching the design of our demon by KNB and then getting to know Derek Mears, the performer who brought the creature to life. Derek's since played Jason Voorhees in the most recent "Friday the 13th," and he's constantly working, just like Doug Jones, who we collaborated with for "Skin and Bones," our episode of "Fear Itself." I love these performers, and now the new documentary "Men In Suits" will be celebrating them and looking at this particular discipline in film. Here's a teaser-trailer for the still in-production film:
Have you ever noticed that getting high on film is a real drag?
This whole "Point One" idea is very shrewd on Marvel's part. Curious to see what difference it makes in sales.
I remember the early hype on Spielberg's EA video game "LMNO," and this story of what happened to derail the project is very interesting.
I love that the news about ActionFest's return dates was leaked on a blog by The Beer Guy. I went for the festival's first year, and I'll be back again this coming April 7-10, looking forward to seeing what new festival director Colin Geddes has cooked up.
I haven't seen "Carancho" yet, but now that it looks like they may set up an English-language remake of Argentina's entry for Best Foreign Language Film this year, I think I'm going to have to check it out soon so I can experience the original for myself.
Oh, boo-hoo, Cooks Source had to cancel their Facebook page. That's okay, they can just use someone else's. After all, it's online, so it's public domain.
Finally, this is becoming a real sticking point for me, but I think I'm not alone finally. I've spent the past six or seven years saying that TSA was out of control, but the installation of these scanning machines has become the flashpoint for a lot of people. I know that Janet Napolitano, the head of Homeland Security and the former lead singer of Concrete Blonde, claims that these scanners are safe and that the pat-downs you can ask for instead are discrete, but she is, frankly speaking, out of her damn fool mind. I'm not even a fan of my microwave in my house, and I get nervous about my cell phone usage. Why would I want to add one more device that beams waves into my body that I'll have to confront ten to fifteen times a year, minimum? Why not just inject me with cancer cells before you let me on a plane? How can anyone speak accurately to the long-term health impact of these scanners? And how can anyone claim that the pat-downs are anything less than intrusive and punitive? And would it make anyone feel safer to know that I went through a scanner on my way to London and forgot to take a mini-torch out of my pocket, and the scanner didn't see it, and no other failsafe was in place to take this "weapon" from me or identify it? And stop trying to make me feel bad if I have a problem with you cupping my family jewels. Mark my words… this is the tipping point. People aren't going to take this anymore. And why should they? If you really think those machines make you safer or that we've beaten terrorism because we've made air travel awful, you're delusional, and you're complicit in this dehumanizing process that impacts millions of us both personally and professionally.
I've got a lot of stuff for you this week, including a new podcast in a few hours with special guest Paul Haggis, and interviews for "Tangled," as well as reviews of movies like "The Next Three Days," "13 Assassins," "Tangled," and more. Keep checking back all week, and I'll see you for the next Read at a far more reasonable hour on Wednesday.
The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, except when it doesn't.