Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Nip/Tuck goes for new look in Hollywood

Caution! Spoilers ahead.

Popular show gets face-lift by cutting ties with Miami

HOLLYWOOD - Goodbye, South Beach. Hello, Beverly Hills.

McNamara-Troy, the debauched plastic surgeons of Nip/Tuck, have closed shop in Miami and traded up (or so they think) for the reconstructive mecca of the famous 90210 ZIP code.

In last week's season finale of the FX series, Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) decided what viewers have known all along — that he can't live without his business partner and best friend, Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh). In a season of several important goodbyes — Julia divorced Sean for good this time and left town with their two younger children; scalpel addict Mrs. Grubman passed away and nemesis Escobar was shot to death — the doctors shut down their Miami practice to start anew in Los Angeles.

The surprise ending marks what fans have come to expect: Nothing on Nip/Tuck stays the same for long. So the season that began with the doctors celebrating their 5,000th surgery in Miami ended with the two of them glamming it up next to the Hollywood sign.

"I just felt there was nothing else they could do in that office," creator Ryan Murphy said. "They've been through too much. The show has always been about taking big risks and taking big chances and doing things you wouldn't expect. In Miami, these are supposedly the best plastic surgeons. Now, we'll do the flip of that. They'll be the little fish in the big pond, which is fun and shows a struggle and gives us room to grow."

Continued growth

That has not been a problem for the Golden Globe-winning series, which has reigned over the 18- to 49-year-old demographic in basic cable since it premiered in 2003. Even last year's over-the-top, macabre season, which turned off critics as well as some fans, didn't seem to make anyone stop watching. In fact, Nip/Tuck has grown 12 percent this year with adults younger than 50, and it is poised to end the year with its most-watched season ever, a feat uncommon among 4-year-old shows.

Perhaps the show's continued success can be attributed to its restless energy and how in one hour it offers a taste of several different genres, mixing the real with the outrageous.

"I think our signature in the first two seasons was that we could operate on so many levels at one time," Walsh said. "Sometimes it was gothic soap opera. Sometimes it was wicked black humor, and sometimes it was farce. Sometimes the soap opera thing was a parody, like our commentary on it, and sometimes it was full-on earnest. Last year, the humor got lost along the way and I think we really missed it. But this year I feel like we brought back those elements of the first two seasons and brought some new stuff, and for me, it's been the most fulfilling to work on."

It started with the show's new use of guest stars, which included recurring roles for Larry Hagman, Peter Dinklage, Jacqueline Bisset, Sanaa Lathan, Brooke Shields, Rosie O'Donnell and Alanis Morissette, and one-episode turns for Kathleen Turner, Catherine Deneuve, Melissa Gilbert and Richard Chamberlain.

"Ryan has always been someone who has had his own obsession with celebrity, and I just couldn't think of a better way to incorporate characters than to bring in all of those extraordinary people," McMahon said.

There was more: Scientology was introduced as the new religion of Matt (John Hensley) and Kimber (Kelly Carlson); Sean and Julia (Joely Richardson) had a baby with a deformity that provoked the final break in their marriage; the characters were shown 20 years in the future; and Murphy borrowed a trick from the movie Magnolia, turning a four-minute montage in the finale into a music video.

Comic relief and more

Many of the season's high points were comical: Sean's interpretation of Bad Santa, Christian's stint as a ventriloquist's puppet, Christian and Dawn Budge's (O'Donnell) sexual tryst, Kimber's face-off with the Scientology figure Xenu, and the sneak peek viewers got of grown-up, messed-up Annie, the oft neglected daughter of Sean and Julia.

"It's a white-knuckle ride working with Ryan," said John Landgraf, FX president and general manager. "I was worried because Miami has been a significant character in this series. But now I think it's exactly the right creative choice to make."

The move gives Murphy an opportunity to build new offices for McNamara-Troy and new bachelor apartments. "I just got bored with the sets. Now I can create these massively great new sets," he said.

Walsh was a little more introspective about the prospect. After filming his emotional goodbye with Richardson, who had to cut short her time on the show this year to take care of her ailing daughter in England and will come back for only a few episodes next year, Walsh said he was despondent over saying goodbye to her and to Sean and Julia's house.

"Joely and I have had so many intense scenes over the last four seasons in that house," Walsh said. "It's always so much more intimate to play those kinds of scenes with an actress, going through the worst a marriage can go through, than to do a sex scene."

Murphy understands the fans feel that way, too, so Sean and Christian will not be moving alone. Matt and Kimber will have their baby, but Matt will move to Los Angeles to go to college and medical school. Kimber will be closer to Scientology and porn. Liz (Roma Maffia) will join the doctors and serve as their anesthesiologist. Julia and her children will visit.

"There's a funny message in all of this, which is that you can keep trying to change the things around you — your relationships, your clothes and where you live — and in an odd way, these guys always land back where they are," Walsh said.

But does moving to California mean that the doctors and best friends will live happily ever after? Or is "a brighter discontent the best that (they) could hope to find," as the song by the Submarines used in the finale's music video goes?

For the sake of the fans, let's hope for the latter.

On the Blogger home page...

The new version of Blogger in beta is dead!
Long live the new version of Blogger!

(P.S. The old version of Blogger is not dead, but it would like to retire for a little while... maybe go to Hawaii or play World of Warcraft all day? It begs you to let it play World of Warcraft all day.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Astros great Bagwell officially retires

In typical Jeff Bagwell fashion, there was little fanfare and few emotions.

Bagwell, arguably the greatest player in Astros history, announced his retirement from baseball at a press conference this morning, ending a terrific 15-year career that could wind up getting him into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s been a great ride,” Bagwell said. “It really has.”

Bagwell’s retirement has been expected since his badright shoulder forced him off the field during spring training earlier this year. He never played in the regular season, and the Astros didn’t pick up his contract for 2007.

“I wish I could still play and try to win a World Series here in Houston but I’m not physically able to do that anymore,” he said. “That being said, I’m OK with that. Most of you that know me know I had a tough time the last four or five years with my shoulder, which took a lot out of me on and off the field.”

Bagwell will remain an integral part of the organization. He signed a personal services contract through the 2009 season in which he will work with the major league baseball operations staff and player development.

“For me personally, this is a sad day to see officially that Jeff is not going to be part of the Houston Astros playing first base and hitting home runs,” Astros owner Drayton McLane said. “He’s going to be continued to be involved with us. I think there’s more great things to come with Jeff Bagwell and the Houston Astros.”

Bagwell, 38, is a career .297 hitter with 449 home runs, 1,529 RBIs and 202 steals in 2,150 games. The 1991 National League Rookie of the Year and 1994 NL Most Valuable Player, he is the only first baseman and one of only 10 players to hit 400 homers and steal 200 bases.

The news of Bagwell’s retirement was felt in City Hall.

“The greatest hitter in Astros history may have hung up his spikes, but his home run trot keeps replaying in our best baseball memories,” mayor Bill White said in a statement. “As a ballplayer, a team leader and a great community-minded Houstonian we all appreciate having been witness to his career here. We look forward to his continued presence with our team, in our city . . . and in the Hall of Fame.”

Bothered by an arthritic right shoulder since 2001, Bagwell decided to have surgery midway through the 2005 season – a move he said was a last-ditch effort to save his career.

He returned to a pinch-hitting role later that season and started two games at designated hitter for the Astros in the 2005 World Series, but missed all of last season after not being able to endure spring training.

The Astros will head to court next year over the insurance claim they filed to recoup $15.6 million of his $17 million salary for 2006 because Bagwell was deemed disabled. Bagwell will receive a $7 million buyout for 2007.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

PS3 vs. Wii

Do yourself a favor and don't watch any videos streaming from the Google site, go ahead and download them and then watch, the quality is much higher.

PS3 vs. Wii

Danny and Nina

Hey there--welcome to dannyandnina.com. We’ve been together for three years now and are ready to go start a life together somewhere... with a little help from you, that is.

New animated Trek?

TrekMovie.com reported that a new animated take on Star Trek has been pitched to CBS, taking the form of short Webcasts a la Cartoon Networks' Clone Wars series; the network hasn't given the idea a green light yet.

Abrams: Trek XI Aims At '08

Writer/director J.J. Abrams confirmed to Variety that work is on track to release a proposed 11th Star Trek movie in 2008. Abrams, co-creator of ABC's Lost, is producing the movie for Paramount and co-writing it.

TrekMovie.com, meanwhile, reported that Abrams and Paramount have added Stratton Leopold to the growing list of executive producers for Star Trek XI.

Frankenstein's Boyle Is Dead

Peter Boyle, the veteran actor who played a tap-dancing monster in Young Frankenstein, has died, the Associated Press reported. He was 71. Boyle died Dec. 12 at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He had been suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease, his publicist, Jennifer Plante, told the AP.

Boyle, who had made a career playing tough guys, broke out of that mold with Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks' 1974 send-up of horror films. The latter movie's defining moment came when Gene Wilder, as scientist Frederick Frankenstein, introduced his creation to an upscale audience. Boyle, decked out in tails, performed a song-and-dance routine to the Irving Berlin classic "Puttin' On the Ritz."

Boyle last well-known role was as the curmudgeonly father in the hit CBS TV sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, which ran for 10 years.

Boyle met his wife, Loraine Alterman, on the set of Young Frankenstein, when she visited as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine and Boyle, still in monster makeup, asked her for a date, the AP reported.

Boyle won an Emmy in 1996 for his guest-starring role in "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," an episode of The X-Files.

One of his final film roles came in 2004, when he played Old Man Wickles in Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed.

The son of a local TV personality in Philadelphia, Boyle was educated in Roman Catholic schools and spent three years in a monastery before abandoning his religious studies.

He traveled to New York to study with Uta Hagen, supporting himself for five years with various jobs, including postal worker, waiter, maitre d' and office temp. Finally, he was cast in a road company version of The Odd Couple. When the play reached Chicago he quit to study with that city's famed improvisational troupe Second City.

Upon returning to New York, he began to land roles in TV commercials, off-Broadway plays and finally films. Boyle made New York City his home. He and his wife had two daughters, Lucy and Amy.

Torchwood Gets Second Season

The BBC reported that it has ordered a second season of Torchwood, the hit Doctor Who spinoff series, which will air on BBC Two in the United Kingdom. The series is produced by BBC Wales; the first season, starring John Barrowman as immortal time traveler Captain Jack Harkness, has broken ratings records on BBC Three.

Doctor Who creator Russell T. Davies also created Torchwood (an anagram of Doctor Who), which is set in Cardiff, Wales, and centers on an extra-governmental team of investigators who use alien technology to solve crimes, both alien and human.

Filming for the second season (called a "series" in Britain) is due to start in Cardiff next spring, and the programs will air later in 2007 in the U.K.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Building a Robotic Dalek Pumpkin


Video sites

Thanks for the links TC.


Rocketboom is a three minute daily videoblog based in New York City. We cover and create a wide range of information and commentary from top news stories to quirky internet culture. Agenda includes releasing each new clip at 9am ET, Monday through Friday. With a heavy emphasis on international arts, technology and weblog drama, Rocketboom is presented via online video and widely distributed through RSS.


Monday, December 11, 2006

This is hilarious!

Horny Manatee

Thanks to some lame jokes by Conan O'Brien on the December 4 "Late Night." In a series of phoney college mascots, O'Brien mentioned "the webcam manatee" and gave out its website as www.hornymanatee.com.

So then NBC network had to run and buy that URL for $159 before the show aired. And like much unplanned Internet mania, the site is drawing traffic.

Be sure to take the tour!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Feeling full of holiday cheer? Many things to do around here (Houston area)

No snow? No problem.

Houstonians may lack a white Christmas (typically), but we've got plenty of other seasonal markers that make this time of year uniquely festive. Last month, we asked readers to share the local places and events that define their holiday traditions.

Here are some popular ways get in the spirit.

Mood music

Christmas tunes, as heard in every shop you enter, can feel excessive and commercialized. But the live music that fills the historical JPMorgan Chase Bank does wonders getting you in the mood.

The JPMorgan Chase Holiday Choir performs free concerts in the downtown bank lobby (712 Main) weekdays at noon through Dec. 22. The choir started when employees surprised Jesse H. Jones with a performance in 1946. Jones, then chairman of the National Bank of Commerce, requested a repeat the next year.

"It's one of the few traditions in a city that's so new," one that's endured multiple mergers, says Mike Ballases, chairman of the Houston region. "It's not a Chase thing; it's a Houston thing."

"When I was a little girl, my mom and aunt started going," recalls reader Melody Sebastian, who was just 5 or 6 years old at the time. Her group has grown larger, now that the 42-year-old accounting clerk is married with four children and has a grandchild on the way. Sebastian loves the Hallelujah Chorus, which ends each performance.

Costume party

A trip to Galveston may be your first instinct during the summer, but the beach town draws a healthy crowd the first weekend of December, too. Dickens on the Strand, its annual Victorian-themed tribute to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, began in 1974 as the Old English Christmas and Hanukkah Party and evolved into a weekend-long celebration in 1983.

It's a quirky mix of costumed revelers in voluminous dresses, top hats and peasant rags, and food vendors.

"I love the roasted chestnuts," says reader Kaye Hardy, who dresses up for the occasion.

She and her husband, John, have visited every few years for the last 15. When the couple's two adult daughters were younger, they came in costume, too.

Information: www.dickensonthestrand.org.

Historical highlights

Just because the kids will be off from school doesn't mean they can't learn a thing or two. This year's Bayou Bend Yuletide, themed "The Wonderful World of Children," looks at Christmas through the eyes of little ones.

Education director Kathleen O'Connor and an army of volunteer docents have recreated historical scenes from the 17th to 20th centuries in the former estate of Houston philanthropist Miss Ima Hogg. Each of the eight decorated rooms is a vignette of early American life. Hardy's favorite is the depiction of a 1950s Christmas morning in the Drawing Room.

The event runs through Dec. 31. Tickets are $5-$10, or visit 1-5 p.m. Dec. 17 for free. Information: www.mfah.org/bayoubend

Dressy homes

There's nothing like history with a side of hot chocolate. Readers also mentioned the Heritage Society's annual Candlelight Tour from 6:30-9:30 p.m. tonight at Sam Houston Park downtown. It features eight historic houses decorated to suit the different periods in which they were built.

Seven of the homes are dressed up inside and out and staffed with docents. Pathways are lit with candles, and carolers, storytellers and crafters keep you entertained. Bring along a camera to snatch a photo with Santa.

Tour tickets are $5-$10. Information: www.heritagesociety.org

Bright lights

The Galleria area isn't the only place with cool lights. Readers mentioned several spots around town, with Hermann Park's annual Holiday Lights standing out as a favorite.

The free event, organized by the Hermann Park Conservancy, includes lighted pedal boats for rent, live performances and food vendors.

The lights will be on 6-9 p.m. Dec. 15-17, 22-24 and 26-30. Information: www.hermannpark.org.

For festive neighborhoods to cruise, reader Pamela Jarmon-Wade suggests the Shepherd Park Terrace subdivision northwest of downtown. Laura Mendenhall votes for the Quail Valley subdivision in Missouri City.

Only in Houston

Reader Penelope Loughhead considers Lights in the Heights a "funky/unusual" celebration perfectly suited to the neighborhood.

"We started going and just loved it," says Loughhead, who lives near Rice University. "It's just blown us away at how it's grown over the years."

Held tonight, the free blocks-wide party features live music on porches and in yards, jolly open houses and an inviting, pedestrian-friendly feel.

Information: www.woodland-heights.org

'Firefly' fans resurrect canceled convention

Word comes from Burbank, Calif., that passionate fans of the Joss Whedon TV show Firefly from all over the world have ponied up money to help pay to carry off "Flanvention," the fan convention that was scheduled to begin Friday but was abruptly canceled Thursday.

According to Corey Bridges, the executive producer at Multiverse Network, who was in town for Flanvention, people had come to Burbank from all over the place, only to find when they arrived that the event had had the rug pulled out from under it.

But never to be told they can't have what they want, the show's fans, known as "browncoats," scrambled and found a way to make it work.

"It's a remarkable thing," said Bridges, who explained that the local browncoats had found a way to get fans from all over the place to help fund the replacement event. "To me it's the symbolism of this group of people, the browncoats. They've done this before, having something they're deeply passionate about canceled prematurely and having it resurrected."

Indeed, the browncoats are famous for their response to the cancellation of Firefly and the way they've managed to get showings all over the world of Serenity, the film based on the TV show.

And it's not only the fans who showed up despite the cancellation. Many of the show's actors appeared, despite not getting paid to do so. Bridges said actor Nathan Fillion had arrived and was giving away memorabilia from his time on the show to fans.

Anyway, Bridges said that there had been some scuttlebutt in the days leading up to Flanvention that there was trouble brewing. Thus, the local browncoats had begun to come up with backup plans. But at that point, they were told all was well, only to find on Thursday that all was most definitely not.

Flash-forward to Saturday where, absent the hotel ballroom the event was supposed to be held in, the browncoats were organizing replacement events at a "secret" location, Bridges said, and a series of color-coded buses meant to ferry the fans there was arriving.

"Now this is essentially happening for free," said Bridges, "for everyone who shows up. Because we don't have the list of attendees from the organizers."

Firefly Fans

Want to get into the Christmas spirit?

Christmas CDs don't come any better than this.

Heart - Lovemongers Christmas

Check this site out!

"How to go broke saving money."

It is updated daily. This site is very impressive to me.

Firefly Reborn as Online Universe

Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.

Now that's shiny.

Multiverse, maker of a free MMO-creation platform, plans to announce Friday morning that it's struck a deal with Fox Licensing to turn the show into an MMORPG in the fashion of Star Wars Galaxies or Eve Online.

The "Browncoats," as Firefly's most devoted fans are known, have been campaigning to bring the show back almost since the moment it was canceled in late 2002. Now they'll get their wish, albeit in a new form.

"We see virtual worlds as an extraordinarily promising new entertainment medium," said Adam Kline, Fox Licensing's vice president of media enterprises in an e-mail. "We believe Multiverse can deliver an experience that will remain true to the original series, while enabling a whole new level of personal involvement for fans."

Canceled in the United States after only 11 episodes, Firefly has become the Star Trek of 21st-century sci-fi fandom: a show that seemed to remake the genre even as it stayed faithful to the conventions of "hard" science fiction, like engine room problems and menacing hordes lurking on the edge of known space.

What made the show special was the wry, often self-deprecating humor of its characters, from the captain with the checkered past to the unwittingly sexy engineer, the dull hunk of a mercenary with a girl's name, and the mysterious young woman passenger with special gifts.

Read more here.

Pettitte heading back to Yankees

I would think he'd have to move out of Deer Park now.

Money talks I guess. There is no loyalty. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with making as much money as you can for yourself and your family. But Andy is near the end of his career, seems like he would want to stay at home and finish it here.

Damnit Andy.

December the 9th - What the ?!

I can't believe how long it has been since I last posted. I've wanted to post, had things to talk about even. Just haven't found or made the time.