The Vice Guide to North Korea

19 03 2008

Vice is a long standing, well recognized magazine that now has a web channel that continues to put out some of the best alternative journalism articles and videos around. They have recently given us a chance to take a peak in to the mysterious (and dangerous) North Korea to get a first hand look on what is happening there. The series created is hosted at now. You can follow the link below for it, too.

Ellen Page and Cillian Murphy To Star In ‘Peacock’

16 02 2008

She just keeps piling the jobs on. Ellen Page is set to star alongside The Dark Knight‘s Cillian Murphy in a psychological thriller entitled, Peacock. This comes from big bad Yahoo:

“The independently financed film is set in the small town of Peacock, Neb., where a man with a split personality (Murphy) fools the town into believing that his two alter-egos are man and wife. Page will play a struggling young mother who sparks a battle between the personalities.

Michael Lander will direct from a script he co-wrote with Ryan Roy.”

Ellen Page is really the hot ticket right now, as this is the third film that she has been cast in over the last month or so, including Whip It and Drag Me To Hell. Like her or not (I do), she’s going to be around a lot in the near future. The movie itself, sounds pretty interesting, and Cillian Murphy, who was also in 28 Days Later is great. I’ll keep my eye on this one.

Neil Young Promoting a New Tour Documentary

15 02 2008

CSNY Déjà Vu takes a look at the 2006 “Freedom of Speech Tour”, a North American CSNY reunion tour on which they played Neil’s newest album entitled “Living With War”. It has screened at Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival recently and has received fairly positive reviews on the internet. Here is a small segment on the film from Sundance Channel.

As a fan of Neil Young and CSNY, I cannot wait to see this. It is startling to see how intense some of the reactions to the songs they played. Clearly many of the fans came into the concert expecting to hear “Our House” and “Teach Your Children” and instead they were hit with politically charged protest songs such as “Looking For a Leader” and “Let’s Impeach The President”. Had he played these songs in my area, I don’t think he would have recieved anything less than positive feedback, but I don’t leave the region often, and it’s jarring to see the way much of the rest of the country feels. The tour also took place in 2006 before the majority of public opinion had turned against the war. He was one of the first mainstream musicians to speak out against the war in Iraq. In any case this looks great and it is Young’s fifth film as director (as Bernard Shakey). I am very excited to see this.

Bill Murray and Jim Jarmusch Team Up Again

14 02 2008

Exciting news, at least for me. Bill Murray has signed on for The Limits of Control, which will be his third film with Jarmusch after Coffee and Cigarettes and Broken Flowers both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. The rest of the cast looks great as well. This comes from the kind souls at /Film:

“Actress Tilda Swinton, hot off Michael Clayton and a Broken Flowers co-star, is also on board alongside Gael Garcia Bernal (The Science of Sleep). Their roles have not been identified as of yet, and a few star cameos are said to be expected.

The film is set in Spain and follows “a mysterious loner as he attempts to complete a criminal job.” Memorable actor Isaach De Bankole, who played the French ice cream man in the director’s classic Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, will play the loner.”

Bill Murray has his plate full for a while, as Get Smart comes out this Summer, followed by City of Ember in the Fall. He is also working on The Fantastic Mr. Fox with Wes Anderson, which is set to come out next year. It is great to see that one of my all-time favorite actors is still getting work, and quality work at that.

New Line Cinema Sued, No Hobbit Movies?

12 02 2008

Hold onto your butts, New Line Cinema is being sued for $150 million in damages by the Tolkien Estate. They say they haven’t recieved a penny of the $6 billion+ that Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy grossed. Furthermore, they are threatening to take any further Tolkien projects, including the upcoming “Hobbit” films, elsewhere. This statement was released by the estate by way of Bonnie Eskenazi, its U.S. counsel:

“New Line has brought new meaning to the phrase ‘creative accounting.’ I cannot imagine how on earth New Line will argue to a jury that these films could gross literally billions of dollars, and yet the creator’s heirs, who are entitled to a share of gross receipts, don’t get a penny.”

Rough. I was not a fan of the “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, but I was more interested in the “Hobbit” films as Guillermo Del Toro was the main candidate to direct the films. It would be a bummer for that prospect to fall through, but I’m sure the films could be produced elsewhere just as well.

I could live without another version being made:

Roy Scheider Dies at 75

11 02 2008

Sad news today, Roy Scheider who was most famous for his role as the police cheif in “Jaws”, died today. This comes from The AP by way of Google:

“Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said. The hospital did not release a cause of death.

However, hospital spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said Scheider had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital’s Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy for the past two years.”

While he was most known for “Jaws”, when I think of Roy Scheider, I think of “All That Jazz” and “The French Connection”, both of which earned him Oscar nominations. “All That Jazz” is one of my favorite movies, and it is a bummer to see him go. Best wishes for his family.

WGA Strike Is Over

9 02 2008

WGA officials release that they at least reached a tentative agreement with the AMPTP.

Here’s the letter:

To Our Fellow Members,
We have a tentative deal.

It is an agreement that protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery. It creates formulas for revenue-based residuals in new media, provides access to deals and financial data to help us evaluate and enforce those formulas, and establishes the principle that, “When they get paid, we get paid.”

Specific terms of the agreement are described in the summary on our website and will be further discussed at our Saturday membership meetings on both coasts. At those meetings we will also discuss how we will proceed regarding ratification of this agreement and lifting the restraining order that ends the strike.

Less than six months ago, the AMPTP wanted to enact profit-based residuals, defer all Internet compensation in favor of a study, forever eliminate “distributor’s gross” valuations, and enforce 39 pages of rollbacks to compensation, pension and health benefits, reacquisition, and separated rights. Today, thanks to three months of physical resolve, determination, and perseverance, we have a contract that includes WGA jurisdiction and separated rights in new media, residuals for Internet reuse, enforcement and auditing tools, expansion of fair market value and distributor’s gross language, improvements to other traditional elements of the MBA, and no rollbacks.

Over these three difficult months, we shut down production of nearly all scripted content in TV and film and had a serious impact on the business of our employers in ways they did not expect and were hard pressed to deflect. Nevertheless, an ongoing struggle against seven, multinational media conglomerates, no matter how successful, is exhausting, taking an enormous personal toll on our members and countless others. As such, we believe that continuing to strike now will not bring sufficient gains to outweigh the potential risks and that the time has come to accept this contract and settle the strike.

Much has been achieved, and while this agreement is neither perfect nor perhaps all that we deserve for the countless hours of hard work and sacrifice, our strike has been a success. We activated, engaged, and involved the membership of our Guilds with a solidarity that has never before occurred. We developed a captains system and a communications structure that used the Internet to build bonds within our membership and beyond. We earned the backing of other unions and their members worldwide, the respect of elected leaders and politicians throughout the nation, and the overwhelming support of fans and the general public. Our thanks to all of them, and to the staffs at both Guilds who have worked so long and patiently to help us all.

There is much yet to be done and we intend to use all the techniques and relationships we’ve developed in this strike to make it happen. We must support our brothers and sisters in SAG who, as their contract expires in less than five months, will be facing many of the same challenges we have just endured. We must further pursue new relationships we have established in Washington and in state and local governments so that we can maintain leverage against the consolidated multinational conglomerates with whom we bargain. We must be vigilant in monitoring the deals that are made in new media so that in the years ahead we can enforce and expand our contract. We must fight to get decent working conditions and benefits for writers of reality TV, animation, and any other genre in which writers do not have a WGA contract.

Most important, however, is to continue to use the new collective power we have generated for our collective benefit. More than ever, now and beyond, we are all in this together.


Michael Winship
Writers Guild of America, East

Patric M. Verrone
Writers Guild of America, West

It’s about time.

Possible Return of Writers by Monday!?

9 02 2008

The producers are saying that an agreement may be reached over the weekend between themselves and the WGA, who have been on strike for three months. Even further, several late night talk shows have told their entire staffs to be ready to come in on monday. This comes from the NY Times by way of the almighty Google:

“On Saturday leaders of the Writers Guild of America West and the Writers Guild of America East will hold informational meetings with their members in Los Angeles and New York. If reaction to the settlement proposals are sufficiently positive, the guilds’ boards could end the three-month walkout and allow television and movie writers to return to their laptops even before formal ratification.”

This is awesome news. I’m really glad that both sides are finally willing to meet. Hopefully both sides will make reasonable concessions, as that is the only way anything will ever get moving again. Throughout the whole ordeal of the WGA strike, I’ve definitely sympathized more towards the writers, but to be unwilling to even meet with the opposite side for months is pretty ridiculous. I’m sure we’ll have more news on this as it progresses. Keep your fingers crossed, friends.