Friday, April 29, 2005

Berman: Trek Needs A Rest

Rick Berman, executive-producer of Star Trek: Enterprise, told SCI FI Wire that he believes the decline in ratings that led to the series' cancellation was the result of an oversaturation of the franchise. "There are a lot of people who criticized us for saying what I'm about to say, but I do believe that there was some degree of fatigue with the franchise," Berman said in a conference call interview. "I think that we found ourselves in competition with ourselves. Enterprise in many markets was running against repeats—whether it be cable or syndication—of the original series, Next Generation, Voyager [or] Deep Space Nine. And I think that after 18 years and 624 hours of Star Trek the audience began to have a little bit of overkill with Star Trek, and I think that had a lot to do with it. And I think if you take a look at the last feature film we did, Nemesis, which I still believe was a fine movie, it did two-thirds the business that the previous films had done. So I think it's, again, another example of the franchise getting a little bit tired."

Berman said that he and the other custodians of the franchise plan to give it a rest for a few years, but are keeping a possible future Trek movie on the back burner. He also rebutted recent statements made by Enterprise star Scott Bakula that plans for a film based on the show were scuttled after its cancellation. "I think that perhaps when Scott first took the job as the lead on Enterprise four and a half years ago there was probably a sense that the show was going to run seven years, as the others had, and that it very well might become the next movie franchise, and it right now seems to not be the case. But I don't think there was ever any formal discussions dealing with an Enterprise feature." Bakula had told SCI FI Wire that any plans for an Enterprise movie were scuttled after the show was canceled.

Berman said that he and co-executive producer Brannon Braga are looking forward to moving on, but will miss the creative team with whom they've formed a bond over the years. "For us, it's a very bittersweet time," he said. "We have dozens of people who we have worked with for 10, 15, some 18 years. And it's become like a family. It's a very rare thing in our business, and we've spent a lot of time working together and learning together, and that family, for the first time, is going to be splitting up. So there's a lot of sadness connected with it. On the other hand, and I think I can speak for Brannon, both of us are looking forward to getting on with writing and producing new things that will take our careers in hopefully positive directions. As far as the next iteration of Star Trek goes, as to whether we'll have anything to do with it, I think it's way too early to tell." Star Trek: Enterprise ends its four-season run May 13 on UPN at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

Radial Nerve Palsy

Radial Nerve Palsy -- eCureMe.com

Hitchhiker's Guide gets a thumbs up

Film reduces the blather but retains the high spirits loved by fans of the novel

By AMY BIANCOLLI
For The Chronicle

Don't Panic: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a brilliant entertainment, a beautifully odd duck and a faithful-in-spirit adaptation of Douglas Adams' iconic sci-fi ramble.

Hard-core enthusiasts should be mollified. Everyone else, including genre snobs who wouldn't touch the novel with a stick, should have a corking good time, for here at last is a science-fiction epic with a sense of humor and a proper British fondness for eccentrics. Everyone is alien in Adams' universe — everyone, and no one. It's hard to say who might be hiding an extra head somewhere.

This Hitchhiker (which began as a radio play and was previously rendered for BBC TV) is not a blow-by-blow account of the source material; it's a movie. Much like the Lemony Snicket adaptation, it absorbs elements from the first few books in Adams' series and pops them out in a bright fandango of non sequiturs and crisply animated visual touches. The original novel is breathless and funny, but (sacrilege alert) it does blather on.

The film, whooshed along by a witty and efficient script (from Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick), reduces the blather but retains that crackpot ebullience so beloved to Adams fans. Director Garth Jennings bangs the whole crazy enterprise like a kid with a drum; he never forgets that he's playing with a huge toy, and we don't, either. No deadly seriousness lurks anywhere in this film. Not even when Earth gets vaporized.

The vaporizers-at-large are the Vogons, a hideously schnozzed race of bureaucrats clearing the way for a galactic highway bypass. The (seeming) sole human survivor is one Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman, of the BBC's The Office), who's whisked away in his ugly green bathrobe by an intrepid Betelgeuseian named Ford Prefect (Mos Def, in a total dither).

They hitch a ride with the Vogons, whose leader tortures them by reciting bad poetry and then expels them into the vacuum of space. In the nick of time they're rescued by the highly blond Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell), who is both the president of the galaxy and a moronic narcissist of infinite proportions. (I don't know where Rockwell got his satin short shorts, but they deserve an Oscar category all their own.)

It just so happens that Zaphod and his fed-up babe Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) have stolen a cutting-edge spaceship, the Heart of Gold. This remarkable vehicle runs on an ''improbability drive and delivers its passengers instantly to any point in the universe, but not before transforming them temporarily into sofas or small knit dolls. Thus yields a brief image of the metamorphosed Arthur puking yarn into a basket.

So Arthur, Ford, Zaphod and Trillian go gallivanting about the universe in search of ''the ultimate question," assuming the answer is ''42," and run into a few problems, one of them being John Malkovich as a politician/preacher who prays to a giant hanky. He steals half of Zaphod's brainpower, making him stupider than usual and requiring him to wear an interactive juicer-helmet so Ford can squeeze lemons into his head.

And one more thing. The dolphins. During Hitchhiker's fantastic and fantastical opening credits, Stephen Fry's plummy voice — the same voice that narrates candy-animated excerpts from the title's celebrated guide — tells of Earth's dolphins, whose attempts to warn humans of impending doom are misinterpreted as hoop-jumping pool tricks devised for our amusement. As opening credits close, the dolphins zoom skyward, but not before joining in a chorus of great robustness and cheese. ''So long, so long," they sing, ''and thanks for all the fish." What an infectious beginning to an infectious film. Two hours later, I was still humming.

HoustonChronicle.com - Hitchhiker's Guide gets a thumbs up

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Constantine voted off Idol - American Idol

Is rocker this season's LaToya London? (Not no but hell no! LaToya should have won it all last year. - Marc)

The danger with depending on the American public to vote for the best candidate for a specific task is that sometimes, given the power of free will and a series of 1-866 numbers, people will do dumb things.

That thought was going through the judges’ minds on Wednesday night, as Constantine Maroulis’ off-night at the mic made him the seventh finalist eliminated on "American Idol." It left the Simon-Paula-Randy trio speechless, and Paula in tears. In fact, Paula looked a whole lot sadder than Maroulis’ mother, and comforted her in the show’s final moments. (That was all an act. - Marc)

Of course, if anything is predictable on this show, it’s the unpredictability. Last year it was LaToya London who was stunningly sent home early; the season before it was Trenyce. Voters clearly focus on factors besides talent, and why not — the alternative is to just let Simon pick the winner, and given his oft-stated allusions to Portuguese nightclubs and karaoke bars it’s doubtful as to whether the record label would get a better option with that approach anyway.

But the fact remains that the past few weeks have seen two finalists that have displayed real star quality, Maroulis and Nadia Turner, sent packing. (In your opinion! Constantine should have left way before Nadia. - Marc)

Granted, neither was the most consistent of performers, but there’s no question that each of them has a better chance at being a genuine star in the music industry than the likes of Anthony Fedorov or Scott Savol.

Maroulis made that perfectly clear with his final number – if he’d sang Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me” as well on Tuesday night as he did once the results were announced, he’d probably still be on the show. (Riiiiiight. He still sounded crappy to me. - Marc)

That having been said, the most telling soundbite of the night came from Randy Jackson, who uttered the illuminating “I’m actually really shocked … but nothing surprises me at this point in the season.”

Reverend Jim in the house

The Constantine decision was notable because he had been coming on strong in recent weeks, but not much about ‘American Idol’ tends to be all that shocking. As if to emphasize that, everything else Fox broadcast Wednesday night highlighted the most annoying aspects of the half-hour results show that is always at least 20 minutes too long.

First came the obligatory Ryan Seacrest this-is-where-it-gets-really-serious-so-VOTE! introduction. Rumor has it that Seacrest just runs the same clip every Wednesday. Whether it’s February or May, he’s as dedicated to getting out the vote as Bruce Springsteen was on the John Kerry tour last year.

To give Seacrest some credit, at least he appears to be having more success at it.

Then, there was the obligatory promo for another Fox show, Pamela Anderson’s “Stacked.” The network may want to rethink its strategy of dragging the entire cast into the audience.

Christopher Lloyd could not possibly have looked less interested if he’d been watching the Yule Log channel — although viewers of a certain age may have gotten through the awkwardness by imagining his Reverend Jim Ignatowski character from “Taxi” auditioning for the show. It would make William Hung look like Mark Anthony.

Skipping over the group sing — because really, the Bee Gees have already gotten enough air time to last several lifetimes — and the atrociously bad video promoting Ford, Seacrest once again split the remaining contestants into two groups. Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice were paired up, as were Anthony Fedorov and Vonzell Solomon. Seacrest asked the remaining two finalists, Savol and Maroulis, to join the group they felt they belonged in.

Faced with a similar choice last week, Bice sneakily stayed in between the two groups and refused to make a selection. Clearly, Seacrest laid the hammer down after that, because both Maroulis and Savol quickly joined the Underwood-Bice duo.

It would have been tough for them to face the other two if they'd guessed wrong ("No really, Vonzell, you were great ... don't take it personally that I scurried over to join the more popular crowd.") But no worries — Seacrest let everyone know that Bice and Underwood were indeed safe — drawing an exaggerated "No!" from Simon in the funniest moment of the night. Most probably thought Maroulis would join them.

Scott Savol, American Idol?

But Savol is too easily underestimated. Whatever his voting block is, it clearly comes out in force every week. Despite being routinely panned and showing the performing ability of a robot without rhythm, he seems to mesmerize people into sending in those text-messages every week.

That having been said, Savol looked more shocked than anyone to see Maroulis voted off. Well, except for Fedorov, who wound up staying onstage with the second-fewest number of votes. He looked like he was expecting Seacrest to add a “just kidding!” after giving Maroulis the bad news.

It’s probably not bad news for Maroulis in the greater scheme of things — his old band has a record deal in place, and he’ll almost assuredly land on his feet as well given his experience and the exposure garnered by the show. (Good luck Constantine. I hope you make millions. There's been alot of other people who can't sing become big stars too. No sarcasm here. - Marc)

It may, however, prove to be bad news for Simon, who has to worry that he may be four weeks away from having to promote Savol or Fedorov as a pop idol while the more talented finalists have to wait their turn.
Constantine voted off �Idol� - American Idol - MSNBC.com

Idol vote leaves audience shocked, judge crying

Associated Press

NEW YORK — On American Idol Wednesday night, Constantine Maroulis, the rocker turned Idol, was eliminated from the show, shocking an upset audience.

Maroulis' long locks and sly grin had helped make him a crowd favorite on the program, but he landed fewer votes than the other five contestants. After host Ryan Seacrest announced the results, boos rained down while judge Paula Abdul looked on in disbelief.

"This seems to happen every single season," Abdul said of the upset, her voice quivering. "I can't even speak, I'm so shocked."

Abdul, who had been Maroulis' biggest supporter, was even shown crying, tears streaming down her face. She had earlier proclaimed him "the one to beat."

A hard rocker from New York, Maroulis was something of a fish out of water on the show, but succeeded nevertheless. Along with fellow finalist Bo Bice, Maroulis had been on a mission to bring rock 'n' roll to American Idol.

"I'm gonna keep rockin,'" the 29-year-old said. "Crazier things have happened in my life, and I'm just really blessed to have gotten this far."

Though he had previously received mostly high praise, Maroulis' rendition of Nickelback's You Remind Me on the Tuesday night performance show wasn't deemed memorable by the judges.

Randy Jackson said it was "high on performance, but low on vocals." The sardonic Simon Cowell thought the choice of tune was wrong after Maroulis' more standard, pop selections.

"It's like Star Wars. Welcome to the dark side — or the light side," Cowell said.

Alongside Maroulis — who Seacrest said had received over 35 million votes over the course of the season — stood Anthony Federov, who received the second fewest votes. His version of Celine Dion's Surrender drew mixed reviews.

"I personally hated it," Cowell said, but added Federov's fans would feel otherwise.

Surprisingly, Scott Savol was not even in the bottom three. Savol appeared to be the most likely castoff given his frequently tepid support and a performance of Luther Vandross' Dance with My Father, after which Cowell advised Savol to pack his bags.

Maroulis' exit came less than a week after Koch Records announced that the label would release his old band's pre-Idol album. Earlier in the season, Maroulis was shown informing his disgruntled bandmates of his Idol intentions.

No mention was made Wednesday of a swirling controversy surrounding American Idol. ABC plans to air next week a report on Primetime Live regarding "explosive claims" about the show.

The remaining contestants are Bice, Federov, Savol, Vonzell Solomon and Carrie Underwood.
HoustonChronicle.com - Idol vote leaves audience shocked, judge crying

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Too Little Sleep Could Cause Diabetes

MSN Health & Fitness - Too Little Sleep Could Cause Diabetes

American Idol 4 - Constantine Maroulis is finally gone!

Constantine really stank last night and the rest of America heard it too because he is gone!

The remaining five can sing.

I think Anthony and Scott are next.

Then Vonzell and Bo.

Carrie should win it all.

Disney's Pirates Going Online

The Walt Disney Co. has announced plans to create a new massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise and the theme park attraction which inspired it, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The game, developed by The Walt Disney Internet Group, is expected to go live in coordination with the upcoming sequel film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in the summer of 2006.

This is the second such venture for Disney Online, which launched Disney's Toontown Online in 2003, the first 3-D MMORPG created for kids and families. The game will be designed with action and humor as players personalize their own pirate characters and form their own crews to engage in swashbuckling adventures, most of which involve battles against other crews or the evil undead, the trade paper reported. A spokesperson for Disney Online said the company expected the subscription-based game to be priced similarly to Toontown, which costs $9.99 a month. It is undetermined which, if any, of the actors in the movies will have a presence in the game.
Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

Producers Defend Enterprise End

Star Trek: Enterprise producers Brannon Braga and Rick Berman told SCI FI Wire that they understood the recent disparaging comments made by cast members about the final episode, but stood by their execution of the series finale. "You have to remember, under normal circumstances, most people probably would have thought this was a very cool episode, because it has a great concept driving it," Braga said in a conference call with reporters. "But when it's the final episode of a series, emotions are running very high."

The most vocal objection came from cast member Jolene Blalock, who plays T'Pol on the show. "I don't know where to begin with that one," she recently said of the finale. "The final episode is ... appalling."

The episode, titled "These Are the Voyages," features Star Trek: The Next Generation stars Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis, who reprise their roles as Commander Riker and Deanna Troi. The pair will view the episode's historic events through a holodeck recreation. Berman said he thought that the opinions expressed by Blalock had to do with the episode's references to the previous Trek series. "The feeling was that if this was going to be the finale of Enterprise, then why bring characters in from another series?" he said. "But I think when people see the episode and realize that to be able to truly pay the respect to our characters that we have, we've couched it in a unique fashion of being able to look back on them, and I think it's going to be a very positive response towards the Enterprise crew."

Braga said that he was aware that the Enterprise cast had some minor issues with the storyline, but there were no serious objections during the production. "There were a couple of people who were slightly uncomfortable with the fact that we have Next Generation characters in the show, and it is a different kind of episode," he said. "But there were no serious complaints. And none of the actors have seen the episode, so they can't be dissatisfied with how it turned out." Star Trek: Enterprise ends its four-season run May 13 on UPN at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

May promises to bring some sweeping changes

Hits wrap up, specials heat up, favorites hang it up
By MIKE MCDANIEL
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Everybody says goodbye to Raymond, the Muppets pay a visit to the wizard of Oz, Britney Spears gets her own reality series, and Quentin Tarantino directs an episode of CSI.

American Idol and Survivor will crown new winners, as will America's Next Top Model, The Apprentice, The Contender and The Amazing Race. The Bachelor may or may not meet his match. And Rob and Amber's marriage vows will be sealed by a CBS kiss.

Elvis lives in the talented hands of young-Presley lookalike Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Bend It Like Beckham), Fox brings back Family Guy, Hercules flexes his muscles, and Dr. Phil makes two prime-time house calls.

Summer is more than a month away, but May looks like a scorcher for TV.

Need more evidence? Between April 28 and May 23, we'll face the finales of JAG, Third Watch and Enterprise; a movie that purports to take on Donald Trump; the 40th annual Academy of Country Music Awards; the 32nd annual Daytime Emmy Awards; and The West Wing's Janel Maloney portraying Amber Frey in a movie about the Scott Peterson case.

Oh, and did we mention the season finales that wrap up yearlong story lines on Lost, 24, Veronica Mars, Alias, Smallville and Desperate Housewives?

All this fuss is less about the enjoyment it gives viewers (however grateful we might be) and more about ratings, which can be translated into advertising rates. May is a "sweeps" month, when local stations use Nielsen Media Research's audience measurement to set future prices for commercials.

May is also the networks' backloaded way to win bragging rights for the 2004-2005 season. This year, CBS is running away in the total households and total viewers categories but is in a dogfight with Fox for age 18-49 supremacy. ABC is in position to finish in third place for the season, and NBC is in danger of finishing fourth in the 18-49 category for the first time ever.

With so much at stake, it's no wonder that the May sweeps, which starts Thursday, is looking like gangbusters. The most vicious confrontation comes May 25, last day of the sweeps, when the finale of Fox's wildly popular American Idol will compete with the finale of ABC's Lost and CBS' Amber Frey movie.

Or it could be "Fallen Idol," a May 4 Primetime Live report that ABC says will explore "explosive claims" about behind-the-scenes activities at American Idol.

Here's a network-by-network rundown:

ABC: Four fresh episodes of Desperate Housewives and Lost begin Sunday and May 2, respectively. Housewives' season finale is May 22. Lost concludes May 25 with a two-hour finale.

The Bachelor finale airs May 16.

Lena Olin returns for the season's final two episodes of Alias May 18 and 25.

Ashanti is Dorothy, Queen Latifah is Auntie Em, and Jeffrey Tambor is the wizard in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz May 20. Playing to her strengths, Miss Piggy fills four roles: the Wicked Witch of the East, West, North and South. Kermit stretches as the Scarecrow, Gonzo is the Tin Thing and Fozzie Bear plays the Lion.

Justin Louis stars in Trump Unauthorized, based on Gwenda Blair's Donald Trump biographies, on May 24.

CBS: The finale of JAG airs Friday.

Rosie O'Donnell plays a mentally challenged woman and Andie MacDowell is her sister in Riding the Bus With My Sister. The movie, directed by Anjelica Huston, airs Sunday.

The last episode of Everybody Loves Raymond airs May 16, preceded by a one-hour retrospective.

Dr. Phil McGraw hosts two prime-time specials, May 4 and 20.

Elvis, a two-parter, airs May 8 and 11. Randy Quaid is the King's manager, Colonel Tom Parker; Camryn Manheim is his mother, Gladys Presley; and Antonia Bernath plays wife Priscilla Presley. Elvis by the Presleys, an entertainment special promising never-before-seen performances, airs May 13.

The finale of Survivor: Palau airs May 15.

Academy of Country Music awards are handed out May 17, and the Daytime Emmys are awarded May 20.

CSI concludes its season May 19 with a two-hour episode in which one of the CSI team is buried alive. Quentin Tarantino directs, and Tony Curtis and Frank Gorshin make cameos.

On the May 23 season finale of CSI: Miami, Dean Winters (Oz) appears as Horatio's brother Ray.

Rob and Amber Get Married, including video of the Survivor and Amazing Race couple's recent wedding, is set for May 24, two weeks after the May 10 finale of Amazing Race. (Go, Uchenna! Go, Joyce!)

Fox: Family Guy bows Sunday along with another animated series, American Dad. The Simpsons' 350th episode, featuring guest voice Ray Romano, also runs Sunday.

24 concludes with a two-hour finale May 23.

Brace yourself: Four more episodes of The Simple Life will air beginning Thursday.

In addition to the last episodes leading up to the May 25 finale of American Idol, a special, American Idol: International Best of the Worst, is set for May 19.

Tate Donovan returns for the May 19 season finale of The O.C.

NBC: Third Watch comes to an end May 6.

Noah Wylie exits ER May 19. Danny Glover guest-stars.

Sean Astin, Leelee Sobieski, Elizabeth Perkins and Timothy Dalton star in the three-hour movie Hercules. Paul Telfer plays the lead in this latest Robert Halmi Sr. production.

Dr. Richard Massey (Bill Pullman) tries to stop the birth of the anti-Christ in the finale of Revelations, May 18.

The penultimate episode of The Contender, May 22, will determine who will fight in the million-dollar live finale May 24.

UPN: Britney Spears and husband Kevin Federline share their lives in a series premiering May 17.

Another new series, The Bad Girls' Guide, starring Jenny McCarthy, premieres May 24.

Veronica Mars solves who killed Lilly Kane in the May 10 season finale.

Star Trek: Enterprise goes into mothballs with a two-hour finale May 13.

America's Next Top Model crowns a winner May 18.

WB: Blue Collar funnyman Ron White gets his own comedy special, airing Thursday.

Comedian Bill Engvall leads an extreme makeover of a mobile home on Mobile Home Disaster, also on Thursday.

The May 11 season finale of Jack & Bobby reveals why Bobby, not Jack, embarked on a road to the presidency.

Clark begins to understand the reason for his being on a 90-minute season finale of Smallville, airing May 18. An eight-minute preview of the movie Batman Begins will be part of the telecast.
HoustonChronicle.com - May promises to bring some sweeping changes
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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

American Idol banter from TV Guide

American Idol
So I was hoping the new Pope in town would inspire maybe like, a Hymn Night or maybe a Latin Incantations theme. But no, we got something even more heavenly: '70s Dance Music! I mean, come on. Donna Summer. The Brothers Gibb. The entire Roller Boogie soundtrack. All the proof of God I need, right? And even though the final seven probably only know Studio 54 as a crappy Mike Myers flick, it turns out most of them still knew how to turn the beat around. Which made for a far less hellacious experience than I'm apparently headed for when the saints come marching in, you know?
Constantine Maroulis: OK, was a little worried about Con trying to replicate those freakish Bee Gees falsettos for "Nights on Broadway," especially under the weight of all that eyeliner. But the boy done good. Now all I have to worry about is that lady friend of his in the audience. Cyndi Lauper called, hon. She wants her entire shtick back. OK, OK, I admit Constantine has done well the past couple of weeks, I even thought he could sing, he proved to me again on this song that he cannot sing. And what about that eyeliner? Ewwwww. Get this fake off the show. - Marc
Carrie Underwood: Forget Simon's jab about her Barbie-meets-Stepford-Wife getup. First off, it was clearly Baby Jane on methadone. And second, even with the pageant hair and prom dress, the powerhouse hit the heights with a "MacArthur Park" that sounded like it was written just for her. Fabulous, despite those ridiculous lyrics. I mean, who leaves a cake out in the rain, anyway?
Scott Savol: What sucks more than the fact that this one is still around is that his "Everlasting Love" didn't suck. At least not enough to get him voted off. No, we'll leave that to...
Anthony Fedorov: How ironic. He does the Tavares' "Don't Take Away the Music" and all I'm thinking is "Please, take it... now!" Bottom three guaranteed. Zzzzzzz.
Vonzell Solomon: Rockin' the Chaka Khan like that, you are every woman, Baby V! And like Paula (only without the sloe-gin fizziness), I love you, too. Now call me, OK?
Anwar Robinson: Again with the shaky notes! Dag. "September" is too much fun to be wobbling around like that until the big ending. Come on, pull it together. You and Anthony are making it way too easy for Scott to stick around!
Bo Bice: Holy hotness! Up until about 94 seconds ago, I thought my buddy Neil's band knew how to give good "Vehicle." Then Bogart came along, tore into the Ides of March classic and kicked my hopes of a Bo win into high gear. If only so there can finally be an Idol album I won't be ashamed to be heard bellowing to in the car. Damn you, Kelly Clarkson and your "Hazel Eyes"! — Damian J. Holbrook
The Watercooler - [TV Guide Online]
TRU BLUE: As if those crazy Tru Calling fans haven't suffered enough at the hands of Fox, the network has decided to pull the serial thriller off the air after this Thursday's episode — effectively cheating them out of seeing the show's sixth and final original installment. Adding insult to injury, Fox is replacing next week's Tru finale with The Simple Life: Interns! I'm beginning to think someone at Fox really hates Eliza Dushku.Entertainment News - [TV Guide Online]

Fox Assholes - Tru Calling Dead Again

Fox has again pulled the plug on Tru Calling, taking the supernatural series off the air after the April 21 episode, meaning that viewers who were trying to catch up with the canceled series' last six episodes will miss the final one, TV Guide Online reported. Fox had been airing all second-season episodes completed before Fox decided the first time that it wanted to kill the series, which stars Eliza Dushku as a young morgue attendant who can rewind time.

Fox was burning off the remaining Tru Calling episodes in the timeslot originally occupied by its ill-fated Point Pleasant. Next week, Fox will air The Simple Life: Interns instead of Tru Calling in the Thursday 9 p.m. ET/PT slot. Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

Monday, April 18, 2005

Is Charmed's End Near?

Brad Kern, longtime executive producer of The WB's Charmed, told SCI FI Wire that the upcoming season finale, "Something Wicca This Way Goes?" could also serve as the series finale—with a big surprise—should the show not get picked up for an eighth season. The finale builds on the events of "Death Becomes Them," the penultimate seventh-season episode, Kern said in an interview.

"The girls [Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs and Rose McGowan] have to figure out how to get the book back before Zankou [Oded Fehr] can use it to be able to tap into the power of the spiritual nexus and then become unstoppable," Kern said. "Over the course of the episode the girls have to wrestle with whether the fight [to protect innocents] has been worth it, whether they want to carry on or not, what they're willing to give up."

Kern added: "But they also realize that if they don't stop Zankou then all of the good they've done over the past seven years will have been for naught. That's just not acceptable, but the more they try to stop him, one by one he takes their powers. Halfway through the show they end the act by saying, 'I don't think we're going to get out of this one alive.' And that sets up a surprising ending that is so surprising and so top-secret that even in the episode outline that I've sent to the studio and the network, I've not included that scene. It will only be distributed on the day we shoot it. The idea is to not let spoilers spoil things for the loyal fans."

Still, Kern isn't giving up hope for another year of the show about the Halliwell sisters. "The network loves Charmed creatively and have been especially happy with it this season," he said. "But whether we come back or not still all boils down to ratings—which means it's up to the fans. If they all tune in and watch the last couple of episodes, I believe that'll raise our numbers enough to push us over the edge and force The WB to pick us up for an eighth season."

The WB will announce in May whether or not they'll pick up Charmed for another, presumably final, season. The season finale will probably air on May 22.
Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel

Bakula: Enterprise Film Is Dead

Scott Bakula, star of UPN's canceled Star Trek: Enterprise, told SCI FI Wire that plans for a movie based on the show were put on hold when the regime changed at Paramount and the network pulled the plug on the show earlier this year. Bakula said he's willing to reprise the character of Capt. Jonathan Archer in an Enterprise film. "It's something I would be interested in doing," Bakula said in an interview at the show's wrap party in Hollywood last week. "They haven't [asked], but the reality is that Paramount has been under such internal upheaval in the last year that right now there's really nobody that's there that is a fan of Star Trek."

Bakula said that recent turnover of several key Paramount executives has dampened enthusiasm for future Trek projects. "It's all turned over, so I don't know what's going to happen with Star Trek as a franchise," Bakula said. "Obviously it's been very important to that studio for a great number of years and brought a lot of revenue for them. But I'm not sure how they will re-address or kind of re-approach it as the dust settles. But we'll see."

The nearly 40-year-old Trek franchise will find itself next year without an original TV series or future movie on the calendar for the first time since 1987, owing in part to the disappointing box-office performance of the last film, Star Trek Insurrection, and the poor ratings of Enterprise, which winds up its four-year run in May.

But Bakula said that he thinks Enterprise could make a successful jump to the big screen. "I don't think there's any question about that," he said. "It's just, again, you've got to have interest from the studio, and that doesn't exist right now to my knowledge. It did before. You see, when we started, there was always the idea that we would be the next movie cast and movie ship. But all the people who were interested in that are gone." Enterprise airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Sci Fi Wire -- The News Service of the Sci Fi Channel: "Bakula: Enterprise Film Is Dead"

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Nexus: The Jupiter Incident

With its stellar graphics, space game in a higher orbit
By DWIGHT N. ODELIUS For The Chronicle

Once in a while, a really good game falls under the radar, overshadowed by the heavy hitters with big advertising budgets. But fans of space-based strategy games won't want to miss Nexus: The Jupiter Incident. Its tactical depth and top-notch graphics make it one of the better science fiction games. Players take on the role of a celebrated spaceship captain and war hero whose father disappeared while trying to travel through an interstellar wormhole. The basic game play involves commanding one or more spaceships against enemies in a variety of battle scenarios. The ships are huge, slow-moving things and have more in common with the battlestar Galactica than with the starship Enterprise. The game design emphasizes strategy over simulation, freeing the player from the burden of learning a bunch of complicated ship controls. A brief on-the-job tutorial shows players how to issue specific commands to the ship and fleet, while the computer decides exactly how to carry them out. This gives the sense of being in command of a fleet, rather than micromanaging it, and allows a focus on high-level strategy without being distracted by inconsequential details. At first, the space battles play out slowly, and much of the time in the early missions is spent just getting into firing range of enemy vessels. As faster and better ships are introduced, and as battles get larger, the pace of the game quickens dramatically. In addition to a huge variety of weaponry and other equipment, each ship may also have a complement of fighters or a squad of commandos that can be directed to perform specific tasks like engaging other fighters or boarding a disabled vessel. Easy-to-use controls allow players to switch views from ship-to-ship and rotate their view of the action around any way they choose. HoustonChronicle.com - At Home

Monday, April 11, 2005

Disney online service targets preschoolers

April 11, 2005, 7:57AM

Disney to offer online service to preschoolers
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — The Walt Disney Co. is expanding its broadband offerings for kids, adding activities for preschoolers and planning a second multiplayer online game aimed at teens.

Disney's Internet Group will launch a paid preschool broadband service this summer, featuring guided activities and games hosted by the lead character from "Bear in the Big Blue House."

The service, called "Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online," is meant for children ages three to five and their parents. Activities will center on a weekly theme or "episode," such as "friendship" or "sharing."

The service will include puzzles, games and learning activities designed to prepare kids for kindergarten, the company said. It will also include an area for parents that allows them to track their child's activity. The service will be offered at $49.95 per year.

The offering is part of a larger strategy to expand the company's high-speed Internet offerings for kids of all ages.

Disney already has free games and activities on the Web fashioned after its popular "Playhouse Disney" block of programming on the cable television Disney Channel. That part of Disney's Web site attracts about 1 million unique visitors each week, said Ken Goldstein, executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online.

Disney launched "Toontown," its first multiplayer online game, in 2003. The game is written for children 8-year-olds and older and pits cartoon characters against a race of evil robots, called "Cogs," who are out to take the fun out of Toontown.

The game costs $79.95 for one year or $9.95 per month.
HoustonChronicle.com - Disney online service targets preschoolers