Monday, July 30, 2007

Ingmar Bergman, 1918-2007

By Steve Lee

Legendary Swedish director Ingmar Bergman died today (Monday, 30 July 2007). He was 89.

One of the greatest artists of cinema, he made over 50 films, including "The Seventh Seal," "Wild Strawberries," "The Magic Flute," and "Fannie and Alexander."

Read his New York Times obituary here.

Hollywood stories for Monday, 30 July 2007

By Steve Lee

Happy Monday, everyone. Here are a few Hollywood stories from various parts of the internet... many of which originated from this year's Comic-Con in San Diego.

Karen Allen has joined the cast of the next "Indiana Jones" movie. The announcement video from the set of the film has been posted on the official Indiana Jones website.

Leonard Nimoy will once again play Mr. Spock in the next "Star Trek" movie, and he appeared at Comic-Con with the actor cast as young Spock.

"The Simpsons Movie" is #1 this week, and there's a ton of Simpsons news. They have announced what's in store for the TV show next season, including their line-up of guest stars.

There's a Simpsons theme park ride coming to Universal Studios (but it's replacing "Back to the Future," so you'd better say goodbye before Labor Day.)

By the way, "The Simpsons Movie" was edited brilliantly by John Carnochan, with a great sound job by Randy Thom and his crew.

"Futurama," the hilarious animated science fiction series from the people who brought you "The Simpsons," announced several Direct to DVD releases featuring the original series cast.

One of the greatest musicals of all time, "West Side Story," is 50 years old (the film version, as you may know, swept the Oscars for 1961).

A revised version of "Bladerunner," recut by Ridley Scott himself, opens soon for a brief theatrical run (then on to DVD in several editions). I highly recommend you make an effort to see it on the big screen!

Johnny Depp is teaming with Warner Bros. on a movie version of the supernatural soap opera "Dark Shadows," with Depp playing lead vampire Barnabas Collins.

Legendary film critic Roger Ebert will be hosting a live chat on Thursday, August 2nd, to kick off a new feature on his "Ebert & Roeper" website that will feature 20 years of movie review videos available online.

...And finally, we wish a happy 67th birthday to Bugs Bunny.

Have a good Monday, and a great week.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wilhelm Screams Again

By Steve Lee

It's been a real busy month for Wilhelm, as Candie reported earlier... and today he's shown up on the front page of the New York Post's entertainment section.

Ben Burtt was right... I've inadvertently started a cult, and I appologize!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The battle against Runaway Production continues...

By Steve Lee

Here is a story from Saturday's Los Angeles Times and one from Monday's Hollywood Reporter on the efforts to create tax incentives for film and TV production in California.

Let's hope everyone can agree on a plan to help keep Los Angeles as the motion picture capitol...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who is Fanboy?

By Steve Lee

"He doesn't frequent malls much, so he's impervious to the ultimate studio weapon, the tracking-poll questionnaire. He blogs, texts and instant-messages obsessively but usually under a pseudonym. He is slavishly devoted to his superhero of choice but will turn on him if he goes too Hollywood."

I'm quoting from a great piece from USA Today about the fanboy - and how much power he (or she) actually wields in Hollywood.

...And I dedicate this link to all the fanboys gathering this weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con. Have fun, everyone.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Laszlo Kovacs, 1933-2007

By Steve Lee

Laszlo Kovacs, one of Hollywood's greatest cinematographers, died Saturday night (7/21). He was 74.

His lengthy resume includes such films as "Easy Rider," "Five Easy Pieces," "Shampoo," "New York, New York," "Ghostbusters," "My Best Friend's Wedding" and "Miss Congeniality." But his early life was even more remarkable than his body of work.

The Hungary-born director of photography witnessed the beginnings of his country's revolution. He and friend Vilmos Zsigmond risked their own lives by secretly filming the revolt against the Communist regime that started on the city streets. They later smuggled the film to the United States, and became political refugees in 1957. Their historic footage was featured in a CBS documentary.

Kovacs and Zsigmond both went on to become two of Hollywood's most influential cinematographers. They are both subjects of a documentary currently in production - "Laszlo & Vilmos: The Story of Two Refugees Who Changed the Look of American Cinema" by James Chressanthis.

You can read Laszlo Kovacs' full obituary here.

Kovacs is survived by his wife, Audrey, and two daughters, Jullianna and Nadia. Our deepest sympathies go out to them.

Monday Stories, 23 July 2007

By Steve Lee

Happy Monday, everyone. Here are a few stories that are floating around the Hollywood side of the internet...

The stars of "Wicked," now appearing at the Pantages Theater, have been sneaking in appearances at Universal Studios.

Although I have yet to see it, the making of John Carney's film "Once" is apparently an excellent example of how to get the most out of a small production budget.

A camera used by Charlie Chaplin will be auctioned off in London on Wednesday.

Ever since 9/11, movies filming on location in Washington D.C. have had a lot of restrictions.

We mentioned last week that "Indiana Jones" is shooting in Hawaii. It's no wonder: they're giving tax credits up to $8 million to productions that shoot there. Why doesn't California do that?

Did anyone else notice that Marlon Brando died in every movie he made in the '70s?

...And here's a story that explains more about the impending writer's strike.

Have a good week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shooting in Downtown Los Angeles

By Steve Lee

Downtown Los Angeles is a popular location for movie, TV and commercial production. The picture above is a common site in L.A. - trailers and other movie vehicles strewn about the parking lots and side streets of the city, with frequent street closures to make way for the parading camera trucks, dollys and the occasional helicopter zooming about.

Residents and merchants are concerned that Downtown has practically become a studio back lot, and they're not happy. They want tighter rules that could limit the area for production.

It's unfortunate that there's such conflict when talking about shooting within Los Angeles, since there is an active campaign to bring "runaway production" back to California. But one can certainly relate to the stories residents are sharing of being kept awake at night because of these crews working.

I'm surprised not to find more coverage on this story... but here is an article in Daily Variety, and one from the L.A. Times.

Its a delicate situation, and one that we'll be following...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Disneyland's Anniversary

By Steve Lee

On this day in 1955, in Anaheim, California - Disneyland opened.

If you don't know what Disneyland has to do with Hollywood history, just think about it a minute.

Besides being created by Walt Disney, who was one of the most influential and prolific producers of films and television ever... almost everyone involved in the park's design came from Hollywood. People like Xavier Atencio, who wrote and designed several key attractions; Special effects artist Eustace Lycett, who helped create "Great Moments with Mr Lincoln" and others; composer Buddy Baker, who wrote the music for several attractions; actor Paul Frees, whose voice is heard in lots of places in the park; and effects artist Peter Ellenshaw, who (as I've mentioned before) painted the first TV view of Disneyland. Just to name a few.

Not to mention that many attractions there are based on Disney's films - and some films are based on their attractions.

There are even more reasons... but since it's the subject of an upcoming "Locations" article for the site, I'll stop now. But in honor of the park's anniversary, here are some secret links to some 360ยบ pictures taken in Disneyland. Enjoy!

Town Square, Main Street
New Orleans Square
The Haunted Mansion

Is a writer's strike coming?

By Steve Lee

Contract talks have started between screenwriters and studio executives, and hopefully an agreement can be reached between the two groups in order to avoid another costly labor strike that would affect the entire Hollywood industry.

The writers hope to expand residual payments to cover when films and television shows are reused on the Internet, cell phones and iPods. Producers want to stop residuals until shows recover costs for development, production, distribution and marketing.

Although early indications show they're far apart after their first day of their discussions, I hope they come to terms soon.

Here's an article on Reuters about the negotiations... we'll be keeping an eye on this story.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday Stories, 16 July 2007

By Steve Lee

Happy Monday! Here are a few things going on around Hollywood...

The famous mural at Hollywood Blvd. and Wilcox Ave. is being restored by the original artist, Thomas Suriya.

Hollywood extends to Hawaii, as the next Indiana Jones is filming there right now. "Raiders of the Lost Ark," as you may know, opened with a sequence shot in Hawaii - which was actually filmed at the end of the film's production schedule.

Speaking of Indy, there's a brand-new brief clip on of the man in the hat himself.

This is a bit distressing: there's a call by some to end residual payments for performers in film and television.

The trailers to "The Golden Compass" look cool. But as many know, I'm partial to talking Polar Bears.

Oh, there's something in the news about a new Harry Potter book on sale Friday. For those not familiar with the insanely successful series of books and films, here are a few facts about it all.

By the way, an update to last week's Harry Potter blurb: according to Bruce Hubbard's website, he will NOT be getting the Nimbus 2000. Tough luck, Bruce.

Film and TV Soap star Eric Braeden gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this Friday (7/20) at 11:30am at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard.

The Queen Mary in Long Beach is hosting a couple Hollywood exhibits right now... "Rockin' Hollywood" is a *free* exhibit of classic rock and movie legends in pictures by photographer Michael Childers. "Spy-Fi" is a display of Danny Biederman's collection of memorabilia from TV and film spies, including Maxwell Smart's shoe phone, Dr. Evil's ring, and Emma Peel's Leather Pants. Admission is included with purchase of a Queen Mary ticket (or $10 for just the exhibit). Both displays run until September.

...One last note... for more current events around Hollywood, including a bunch of free movies around town, check out our aptly named Current Events page.

Have a good week!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Hitchcock's Filmmaking Notes

By Mark Keefer

I've been asked to contribute to this most excellent blog from time to time, and I'm honored. Here's a re-post from my own blog Miscellaneous Creativity.

I ran across this site on that discusses Alfred Hitchcock's filmmaking techniques. This is a very interesting read.

Hitchcock was an innovator, but he was also a storytelling purist. He was careful not to abandon the cornerstones of good storytelling in order to show us a new camera trick, etc. His motto: keep the story simple.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Charles Lane, 1905-2007

By Steve Lee

Most people wont remember the name Charles Lane. But if you've been watching television and films anytime in the last half-century, you'd probably remember him when you saw him.

Character actor Charles Lane, who died Monday (10 July) in Santa Monica, California, was in hundreds of movies and TV shows. First appearing on the screen in 1931 as a hotel desk clerk in "Smart Money" with James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson, he went on to roles in "It's a Wonderful Life," "Arsenic and Old Lace," "You Can't Take It With You," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "The Music Man," and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" - to name just a few. He appeared several times on the "I Love Lucy" show in various roles, including as the expectant father waiting with Ricky in the hospital when Lucy gave birth. Lane continued working until the end, performing narration for "The Night Before Christmas" (2006).

He was 102 years old. He is survived by two children and a granddaughter.

Visit his extraordinary resume on IMDB here.

Monday, July 09, 2007


By Steve Lee

I love watching movie trailers. Old and new. Whether they show you all the best scenes, or just enough to make you curious... they're almost always just as entertaining (if not more so) than the films they're advertising.

TRAILERS FROM HELL is a new website that pays tribute to some classic movie trailers, presented with (optional) commentaries by some film director pals of mine. The premiere episode features Joe Dante (director of "Gremlins") presenting trailers from "The Terror" and "The Unearthly."

Viewers can watch Trailers From Hell on the website, via the Fun Little Movies premium channel on Sprint mobile phones, and on the iPhone. Check it out!

Monday Stories, 9 July 2007

By Steve Lee

Happy Monday, everyone! Here are some links to a few Hollywood stories appearing around the internet...

Jim Carrey will star in a new Robert Zemeckis adaptation of "A Christmas Carol", with Carrey playing Scrooge AND the three ghosts that visit him.

Have you heard all the fuss about that trailer in front of "Transformers" for a film apparently code named "Cloverfield"? This site recently appeared for the film, which is appearently adding snapshots every-so-often... and THIS one contains a puzzle leading to a mysterious video.

I'm not sure if I'm ready or not, but Bart Simpson's gonna be seen naked in "The Simpsons Movie."

Harry Potter fans are rallying to sign a petition to urge J.K. Rowling not to end the series of books.

Speaking of Harry Potter, Bruce Hubbard of Minnesota just aquired his broom.

Allegedly, Chewbacca and Marilyn Monroe are not getting along at all.

...and Disney Music Group's Hollywood Records is alive and well.

Have a good week!