The SciFi Diner Podcast
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Welcome to the Diner.
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How important is Science Fact in Science Fiction? We’ll be discussing it in one of our next shows.
On the menu tonight:
- Interview Edward James Olmos Part 2
- BSG Trivia
- Stephen King Dark Tower to TV
- NO more Heroes
- Gravity Movie News
- Who is playing Bilbo
- Battleship has landed a big named actor
- A DVD Review: Batman under the Red Hood
- We have Tractor Beam Technology
- TWIST: The sequel and 44th Birthday of Trek
- SciFi Five in Five: Top 5 BSG Moments
This Week’s Trivia:
What was Laura Roslin’s position in the government before she became President?
Prize: First two books in the Autumn Rain trilogy. For more information on the Autumn Rain Trilogy, visit here. “And it seems appropriate that you would give aways books for knowing this, because she doesn’t lend them out. Books are always gifts.” B. Hardin
You will have until September 21 to answer this question. Send your answer with your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 18885084343, or DM us on Twitter at @scifidiner.
Universal Lands Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ And Plans Unprecedented Feature/Network TV Adaptation
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have closed a deal to turn Stephen King’s mammoth novel series The Dark Tower into a feature film trilogy and a network TV series, both of which will be creatively steered by the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code.
Ron Howard has committed to direct the initial feature film, as well as the first season of the TV series that will follow in close proximity. Akiva Goldsman will write the film, and the first season of the TV series. Howard’s Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce, with Goldsman and the author.
When Deadline revealed in April that Howard, Goldman and Grazer planned to team with King, Universal was battling Warner Bros—home of Goldsman’s Weed Road–for the property. The multi-platform deal was so comprehensive, it took months to close. It will be announced later today by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson, co-chairman Donna Langley, NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin, and NBC & Universal Media Studios Primetime Entertainment president Angela Bromstad, all of whom pulled it together.
I spoke with Goldsman and Howard, who have polled enough of their peers to be convinced what they are doing here has never been attempted: using a major studio’s film and TV platforms simultaneously to tell a story. It is reminiscent of when Peter Jackson directed three installments of The Lord of The Rings, back to back, so that they could be released in three consecutive years.
“What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history,” Howard told me. “The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”
Considered King’s answer to JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth trilogy, The Dark Tower revolves around Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, and humanity’s last hope to save a civilization that will crumble unless he finds the Dark Tower. Howard and Goldsman describe the world as “an alternate Americana, one part post-apocalyptic, one part Sergio Leone.”
“Akiva said, ‘Stephen will not let go of it, but it’s like nothing else you’ve ever read,’” Howard recalled. “It was frustrating because it’s one of those works where you read it, and then at odd times, the imagery and sensations just pop up in your mind. This is going to be an amazing life experience for us, trying to do justice to the story and the universe.”
King granted an option—for $19, a number relevant to the plotline–to JJ Abrams and his Lost partners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. They never cracked the sprawling plotline and all the characters. Goldsman pounced when the rights were available, but saw the same problems until Howard suggested using film and TV platforms. Though Howard famously grew up on a TV screen on The Andy Griffith Show, he hasn’t directed TV since the early 80s, but is eager to return. It seems hard to fathom he’d direct a full season’s worth of episodes, but that is the early plan, and who says they have to do 22 to create that bridge to the next film?
The plan is to start with the feature film, and then create a bridge to the second feature with a season of TV episodes. That means the feature cast—and the big star who’ll play Deschain—also has to appear in the TV series before returning to the second film. After that sequel is done, the TV series picks up again, this time focusing on Deschain as a young gunslinger. Those storylines will be informed by a prequel comic book series that King was heavily involved in plotting. The third film would pick up the mature Deshain as he completes his journey. They will benefit from being able to use the same sets cast and crew for the movie and TV, which could help contain costs on what will be a financially ambitious undertaking.
“We will certainly be looking to maximize both creative and fiscal opportunities by creating one enterprise that encompasses TV and movies,” Goldsman said. “Some of the shooting will likely encompass both platforms, and that has never been done before. It’s thrilling, we feel like kids in a candy story.”
Goldsman is writing, and Howard said he and Grazer have cleared the decks to do this quickly. “I’m finishing The Dilemma, and then I don’t have anything scheduled and I plan to work hard on this with Akiva and Brian,” Howard told me. “We will refine our take on the feature and TV shows. We have a clear view of what we want to do, and we’re lucky to have a company with the nerve to back us up on this venture.”
Howard, Grazer and Goldsman will exec produce the TV series for Universal Media Studios. Kerry Foster will exec produce the first film for Weed Road, along with Imagine’s Todd Hallowell and Erica Huggins.
No Resolution for HEROES Fans – TV Movie For Wrap Up Of Series Is Dead http://bit.ly/cfLMIJ
Bad news for Heroes fans. NBC will not be moving forward with a television-movie wrap up of the series as previously thought. Show creator Tim Kring had hoped to bring closure to the four-season series. No official word from NBC as to why the project was killed, but logistically, it became harder and harder to reassemble the original cast for this project. That’s not to say that the series can’t find continued life in comic book, web comic or print form though.
Kring talks about the possibilities of continuing the Heroes brand:
“…the Heroes brand is an extremely broad premise. It was a premise about ordinary people, an undisclosed number of people all over the world, who were waking up to these extraordinary abilities. Any number of stories could happen around that. We never posited a single ending or a single premise. It wasn’t about getting off of an island or stopping something from happening. We told stories in volumes that had a beginning, a middle, and an end. Those volumes could go on and on and on with many different characters. As a result, that Heroes universe is something that can be tapped into again in many ways.”
Kring did sell NBC a script for the 2010-2011 season called III about “a third world war involving the invasion of the United States” but it did not progress past the development stage.
Heroes was canceled this past May.
Hot on the heels of some passionate festival buzz for her turn in the upcoming ballet film Black Swan, Natalie Portman has reportedly been offered the lead role in Warner Bros.’ 3-D drama Gravity, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The $80 million film, which is being directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y tu mamá también), is a survival story about a woman who’s stranded on a space station and her attempts to return home to Earth. The role was previously turned down by Angelina Jolie, and Scarlett Johansson and Blake Lively were later rumored to be competing for the gig. But Cuarón has now reportedly offered the part to Portman without requiring the actress to do a screen test. Portman is expected to make a decision soon after reading the latest version of the script. Robert Downey Jr. has already signed on for a supporting role in the movie, which is scheduled to shoot early next year.
MGM trying again to get Martin Freeman to play Bilbo http://bit.ly/bYhawi
Here’s a quick 101 on the recent Hobbit rumors. Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. Watson in the BBC’s Sherlock series, was allegedly offered the role of Bilbo Baggins but turned it down, although no one was sure if any of that really happened. Today, it not only looks like it happened, but there’s suddenly a very good chance he’ll end up playing Bilbo after all.
Here’s what Entertainment Weekly found out about the situation:
Yesterday, the British newspaper The Sun ran a story saying that Martin Freeman (a.k.a. Tim from the original U.K. Office) had to decline an offer (and seven-figure payday) to play Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies due to a scheduling conflict: The actor was already committed to shoot the BBC series Sherlock, in which he plays Dr. Watson. That’s all true, but according to sources close to the Hobbit production, it’s not over yet. New Line and MGM, the studios backing the Hobbit films, have since come back to Freeman with a proposed schedule that would allow him to shoot both projects. All parties are currently negotiating a deal.
From our POV this is good great news, as we love Freeman in Sherlock and think he’s a great actor who’d make an excellent Bilbo. And he definitely has that Hobbit look, in a good way.
Herne: What? Morgan Freeman to play Bilbo?!
Liam Neeson Coming Aboard “Battleship” – Daemon’s Movies http://bit.ly/9I0kq4
Actor Liam Neeson just keeps landing roles in Hollywood, having now joined the cast of the in production film “Battleship.” The sci-fi film is already in production and is set for release on May 18, 2012.
The sci-fi project is an adaptation of the popular Hasbro board game by the same name. In the film an international naval fleet is gathered together to defeat an invading alien armada. Neeson will join the cast of the film in the role of Admiral Shane. Peter Berg is directing the film for Universal.
Neeson has been very busy since his surprise success with “Taken.” He can next be seen in the films “The Next Three Days” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”
Here’s the opening to Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (spoilerish) http://bit.ly/b2lhhf
There hasn’t been much information about director Rob Marshall’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides movie, but What’s Playing uncovered a few details about how the opening scene will play out (minor spoiler ahead):
Film opens at night. Spanish fisherman spots something in the water. A Shape. He fishes out what he soon discovers is the body of an ancient sailor. The boat’s captain rushes over for a look — before he can make his assessment, the thought-dead sailor’s eyes open. Sailor grabs Captain’s arm… fade out. The Captain and his aide then arrive at the regal residents of King Ferdinand, with said body, who inform the royal that the not-so-dead sailor claims to have sailed on a vessel belonging to the ship of Ponce de Leon, who died 200 years ago. Ferdinand’s first thought is that the sailor has found the legendary Fountain of Youth. He orders ‘The Spaniard’ to hit the seas in search of it.
Although the last two films in the series weren’t particularly well received, this one could give the series new life with a different director and the addition of Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz to the cast. We hope it will, anyway.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides hits theaters on May 20, 2011.
DVD Review: Batman: Under the Red Hood
While a new foe who uses The Joker’s old alias wreaks havoc among Gotham City’s organized crime, Batman finds him disturbingly familiar.
Bruce Greenwood as Batman
Jensen Ackles as the Red Hood
Neil Patrck Harris as Night Wing
Major breakthrough in tractor beam technology [This Is Awesome] http://bit.ly/d16NGl
It’s now possible to move a tiny bead of glass (pictured) five feet using just laser beams. We may not be tractor-beaming humans into spaceships yet, but this is a huge step forward for a technology once called science fictional.
For years, scientists have been using “light tweezers,” or lasers, to move bacteria short distances. But this new device is far more powerful, moving an object hundreds of times bigger than a bacteria several feet. Now Australian National University researchers have a new device that’s much more powerful.
Inside Science reports:
The device works by shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles. The air surrounding the particle heats up, while the dark center of the beam stays cool. When the particle starts to drift out of the middle and into the bright laser beam, the force of heated air molecules bouncing around and hitting the particle’s surface is enough to nudge it back to the center.
A small amount of light also seeps into the darker middle part of the beam, heating the air on one side of the particle and pushing it along the length of the laser beam. If another such laser is lined up on the opposite side of the beam, the speed and direction the particle moves can be easily manipulated by changing the brightness of the beams.
Unfortunately, the technique doesn’t work in vacuum so we won’t see this deployed in space any time soon. But the researchers say they could definitely move the beads farther than 5 feet, though a great deal more research needs to be done before we’ll have a concrete application for the tractor beam.
Trek Sequel Update
In the 200th issue of SFX Magazine, published in the UK, J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman discuss what may or may not happen in Star Trek XII.
As reported by TrekMovie.com, Abrams spoke generally while Kurtzman and Orci described another possible choice for the possible villain.
As he did when Star Trek XI was being made, Abrams didn’t go into specifics concerning the sequel, but noted that there was much potential in the Star Trek universe from which to draw. “The universe that Roddenberry created was so vast,” he said. “And so it’s hard to say there’s one particular thing that stands out as what the sequel must be. Which is on the one hand, a great opportunity. On the other hand it’s the greatest challenge – where do you go? What do you focus on? But I’m incredibly excited about the prospects.”
Kurtzman and Orci have spoken in the past about the possibility of having Khan in the sequel, but spoke about other options. “Introducing a new villain in the sequel is tempting because we now have this incredible new sandbox to play in,” said Orci. “On the other hand, some fans really want to see Klingons and it’s hard not to listen to that. The trick is not to do something that’s been seen before just because you think it will be a short cut to likeability.”
More can be found in SFX Magazine, including an article in which Leonard Nimoy says farewell to Spock. More information on the contents of this issue can be found here and subscription information can be found here.
Star Trek – no hyperbole here — has changed the world, but no one could have seen it coming on September 8, 1966, when The Original Series kicked off with the episode “The Man Trap.” So much of what is commonplace today was introduced, glimpsed, inspired and/or at least hinted at by Star Trek; and yes, before you say it, we know that sci-fi existed before Star Trek.
Still, consider the following:
Faces of color, people of all nationalities in space:
Race relations were at their worst around the time Star Trek debuted, and yet series creator Gene Roddenberry envisioned a future in which an African American – and a woman, no less – would assume major responsibilities aboard a starship. Nichelle Nichols beautifully embodied the role of Lt. Uhura, inspiring countless people of color to achieve their dreams. Uhura would also factor into another groundbreaking moment, as she and Captain Kirk locked lips in television’s first interracial kiss. Later, during season two of Star Trek and at the height of the Cold War, when the concept of American and Russian astronauts traversing the galaxy together was truly pure science fiction, the show introduced the character of Chekov, yet another canny, progressive bit of forward thinking.
Flip phones: You may be reading this article on your flip phone right now and if you are, you have the legendary Star Trek communicator to thank for that.
PDA’s and iPads: Captain Kirk filed his regular Captain’s Logs on a device – think an electronic clipboard — that’s remarkably similar to the PDA’s so familiar to us all today. Perhaps even more prescient was the Star Trek: The Next Generation PADD – or Personal Access Display Device, which could be easily confused with that iPad being sold at the Apple Store around the corner from you.
Bluetooth: Let’s bring Lt. Uhura back into the conversation. Sure, her earpieces might resemble corn holders, but they – and their open wireless technology concept — also set the stage for the Bluetooth and all its subsequent incarnations.
Needle-free injections: Dr. McCoy and the Enterprise medical team had no need for needles. Instead, they used hypospray. Sure, some docs today still use the handy-dandy needle, but now there are needle-free alternatives, including the Glide SDI or PharmaJet’s 0.5 ml device.
Automatic Doors: You probably don’t even think twice about it now as you walk through doors that open as you approach, but those funky whooshing doors on Star Trek were the precursor, right? Right.
Viewscreens: Have you looked at your TV lately? ‘Nuff said.
Phasers: Tasers, anyone? Just saying.
OK, now it’s YOUR turn. What elements of Star Trek do you think have impacted the world – socially, scientifically, gadget-wise – we live in today? Bring it on… and bring on the debate, too.
ScifFi Five in Five:
Top 5 Battlestar Galactica Moments
5. Revelation final five
4. Window in NYC
3. Hyper Jump through planet
2. Razor – orignal cylons
1. Final Jump