July 31, 2007


Geek Gods: Baby's First Comic-Con



I've had the pleasure of visiting San Diego several times in the past four years. Two excursions to Sea World to say hi to Shamu. A day trip to Sycuan Casino to watch my mother and grandmother throw dollar bills at a couple of uncooperative slot machines. Pride weekend 2006...

This year, my journey to the eighth-largest city in the U.S. brought me to the San Diego Convention Center where I lined up with geeks from across the Southwest to pay tribute and respects to superheroes, superproducers, and super shiny toys adored by all fanboys.

If you don't know what Comic-Con is, then you clearly have never:

a) been a follower of the Jedi philosophy.
b) fantasized about sleeping with that hot Cylon chick.
c) wished you were a part of the Scooby Gang.
d) pretended you were a student at Hogwarts.
e) blown your wad over a scaled-down replica of the Batmobile.
f) worshipped the ground J.J. Abrams walks on.
g) understood what it means to be a part of the Fellowship of the Ring.

...and for that, I feel sorry for you. Truly.

One of the largest conventions in the world, and a hotspot for Hollywood types looking for the newest property to buy and adapt into mediocre feature films, Comic-Con started on Thursday and ended on Sunday.



Matt, knowing me so well, got us free professional passes from his office at Mattel. We arrived shortly after noon on Saturday, the craziest day of the convention, and we paid the price for our tardiness. Every discussion panel was filled. Every raffle to win an autographed anything was depleted. Every Smallville giftbag had been snatched up from the Tom Welling meet-and-greet.

We were left to sit on the convention center floor, watching every freak and fanboy walk by, some donned all in black, some dressed to the nines as their favorite characters from the wonderful world of sci-fi-fantasy-horror. I was suffering from sensory overload as we walked through the overcrowded Exhibit Hall. Look here! Look there! Take a picture with the polar bear from The Golden Compass! Sneak a peak at the Iron Man suit! Get the new Buffy: Season 8 comic signed by Joss Whedon himself (You really didn't need to tell me twice).

The rest of our day consisted of getting a glimpse of a scruffy Matt Dallas at the Kyle XY booth, sitting in on a Lost fan podcast, grabbing a few teaser posters for Indiana Jones and the Untitled Thingamabob, debating which Nintendo T-shirt was dorkier than the other (we bought none), and maneuvering our way past countless Jack Sparrow impersonators.

And impersonators there were aplenty. The 35-year-old Harry Potter and his just-as-old Hermoine girlfriend got some looks near the Battlestar Gallactica room. A group of buffed-up warriors and their scantily clad princesses passed out flyers announcing the arrival of Pathfinder on DVD. A pair of hobbits was seen taking digital snapshots of the pimped-out displays at the Sci-Fi Channel booth.

"Look at these freaks!" Matt exclaimed.

I shot him a look.

This coming from the boy who later purchased the Halloween 25th Anniversary DVD and poster print and spent 14 hours on Monday waiting in line to audition for the seventh season of American Idol.

I'm just saying.

H.P.M.

July 30, 2007

L.A. Moment #467



Overheard outside Border Grill in Santa Monica last night...

Nipped-and-tucked 40something Brentwood housewife to her blonde counterpart: "I was going to tell you something about Socrates relating to what we were talking about, but I totally forgot what it was."

July 27, 2007

The Kingdom



Finally, a great summer movie...but it doesn't come out until September 28 (yours truly got a sneak peek).

My buttcheeks were clenched the entire time. Also included in the brilliantly eclectic cast: Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven (doing his best while on an Entourage hiatus), Kyle Chandler (practically repeating his Grey's Anatomy fate), Frances Fisher (in a wicked cameo), and Richard Jenkins.

Dare I say, it's Peter Burg's Munich.

Bravo.

H.P.M.

July 23, 2007

Sin City



Just got back from Vegas, a weekend full of NBA stars, pina coladas by the pool, and uncooperative roulette tables.

H.P.M.

July 17, 2007

Obsession



It is rare for me to find someone in the public eye who warrants such a near-psychotic obsession to the point where I'd practically burst from the seams with excitement and admiration.

The grand fabulousness of David and Victoria Beckham is working its magic on me.

First things first. Whatever preconceived notions you may have? Kindly throw them out with the rest of the rubbish.

After watching Monday night's NBC special, Victoria Beckham: Coming to America, I have come up with several reasons why their fans love them so and why those of you who have never given them the light of day or dismissed her as an "evil robot with gigantic breasts, sent to earth to obliterate the human race" should drop the grudge and embrace the mania.

1. They're self-deprecating. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Victoria reveals to Perez Hilton (who was equally won over) during a coffeehouse interview why she never smiles for the paparazzi - she has to maintain her "I'm Miserable" reputation, dahling. She even dares the fushia-haired webmaster to feel her breasts to see just how non-gigantic they are. After the brief meeting, the self-proclaimed Queen of All Media was more than happy to clean up any insulting Photoshopped pics of Posh on his website.

2. They show genuine care for their children. While shopping for houses in the Hills, Vic inspects every detail to make sure their new home is safe for their three boys. One home featured a terrace with no railings, exposing a dangerous cliff. Vic walked right out. Would Britney be as sensible? Also, notice how the couple rarely allows their children to be photographed or quickly thrust into the spotlight.

3. Their overall, articulate conversational banter puts all of our American one-note celebs to shame. You won't get any lifeless, one-word answers from them in a Larry King interview. They actually elaborate on their soundbites.

4. She knows they're extremely fortunate and doesn't complain. You won't hear any woe-is-me ballads on Ms. Beckhams pop albums.

5. Victoria wears underwear (Upon learning about the no-panties trend in LA, Posh shakes her head: "They don't wear any knickers? I don't understand it." And finally...

6. Anything British is just...well, frickin' awesome.

The one-hour special did miserably in the ratings, and that's a shame; it would have made a delightful reality show (Bravo, where you at?). More and more Americans need to meet the Beckhams, not just to fawn over another tabloid powercouple but to appreciate and see what a breath of fresh air they are. Call it a failed publicity stunt, but this NBC show perfectly demonstrated how there's just something damn irresistible about these two.

Come to think of it, their BBC documentary, David and Victoria Beckham's World Cup Party, is an even juicier, flashier one to watch (and there's more of David for you Beckheads out there). The editors at YouTube have graciously added the entire thing to their megasite:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=jfiRftzbh9o (sorry, no embedding).

Back to the Monday night's guilty pleasure: A welcome-to-the-neighborhood luncheon with the dames of Beverly Hills worked in Vic's favor, making her stand out as a humbler, more grounded woman (who just happens to own a Bentley). "These women are major," was how she described the lavish experience. The hostess of the gathering was a nipped-and-tucked housewife straight out of a gaudy Jackie Collins novel. There wasn't a single face in the room besides Vic's that never saw the flash of a plastic surgeon's scalpel. Victoria loved them, and you could tell she never met people like them back in the homeland. She was careful with her words while describing the experience, succeeding in balancing out the bullshit with sincerity.

At the end, bloopers and extra footage (DVD special features perhaps?) played while the closing credits rolled by. See Posh awkwardly test out her new stilettos! See Posh get excited over the prospect of celebrating American holidays! "When is Thanksgiving? I can't wait...do you know what they do to pretzels? They mash 'em up and stick 'em up a turkey's bum."

It's refreshing to see Brits living it up Dynasty-style. As Americans, we were usually fed images of poor, cockney-spouting Englishmen who had no class and favored a jaunt to the neighborhood pub. Now, we're more likely to see them as red carpet staples wearing Gucci and favoring pomegranate martinis. Just look at the enormous popularity of Footballer$ Wives on BBC America. Viewers grew tired of watching the middle-class melodrama of EastEnders, shoving it aside for the glitzy, wealthier bitchiness of the upper class.

The British seem to be loving the dysfunctions of the rich and powerful more than ever.

How...American.

H.P.M.

July 16, 2007

July 02, 2007

Transformers



Tonight Michael Bay helped me channel my inner 14-year-old.

But before I get to the goods, I want to talk about the insane teaser I witnessed along with half of downtown Hollywood at the Arclight Cinemas on this steamy July evening.

The first preview opened with a flicker of the logo for Bad Robot, the production shingle founded by my Great Producing Idol, JJ Abrams. Neat, I thought. A new movie from JJ, perhaps a teaser for Star Trek 11? At first it seemed like a commercial of some kind, but remembering we were sitting in the upscale Arclight, where seats are reserved and annoying ads are banned before trailers, we knew this was...something.

The entire teaser was shot in a camcorder point-of-view at a New York City apartment during a rooftop going-away party for a young guy named...Jeff...or Jack...or whoever. Young twentysomethings smile at the camera, wishing their friend good luck with his future endeavors. Woo-hoo, party on.

Then, a rumbling. An earthquake? The camcorder catches some partygoers screaming, a ball of fire coming from downtown Manhattan. A roar fills the air. Everyone runs down a staircase and onto the street where pandemonium takes over. A giant explosion from downtown sets everyone into a greater frenzy. Suddenly, a flaming object falls from the sky and crashes into cars - it's the freakin' head of the Statue of Liberty.

FROM PRODUCER JJ ABRAMS...

The words appear when everything cuts to black.

1.18.08.

I nearly wet myself. What just happened? What the hell?

We just saw the BEST. DAMN. TEASER. OF. THE. YEAR.

According to Firstshowing.net, it's a top-secret project our Boy Wonder has been working on, a monster movie in the vein of Godzilla that is entirely shot home-video style...The whole film will consist of first-person accounts during an attack on New York City, a la Blair Witch Project. Do we see the monster or not? Who's the star? Is Cloverfield really the name of this movie that won't hit theaters until January? Apparently not; just a working title.

I can't remember the last time I was this strongly affected - by a friggin' movie teaser.

So, back to Transformers...

I get it. Boys love their toys, and grown-up boys love to see their toys come to gleaming CGI life and square off in a downtown metropolitan area - smashed cars, rubble and all.

In what appears to be an alien invasion movie that makes Independence Day look like Braveheart, Michael Bay seems to have created the Abercrombie & Fitch of action movies - sweeping, colorful Americana shots, hot Aryan bodies, and patriotic grandeur accented by a thundering score that's been recycled and remixed from his previous blockbangers.

In other words, it's the definition of cinematic eye candy, an onslaught of action sequences that slightly raises the bar for special effects. This is a movie during which the audience giggles when the token hot chick opens up about her "troubled" childhood, growing up with a car thief for a dad (a laughable attempt at establishing unnecessary character background). It's a movie in which the good aliens adopt the English language (more like lingo) in order to communicate with humans (one Autobot crushes a parked car and utters "My bad."). It's a movie in which helpless government officials run around the Pentagon and hesitate to put their trust in a wise-beyond-his-years teenager who happens to be the descendant of an Arctic explorer and holds the key to stopping the bad aliens (Shia LeBeouf, practically carrying the entire film as he dodges bullets and his sitcomy parents).

Then there's the trademark Michael Bay freeway chase, and this one's an eyeful. Robots rumble and tumble off a ramp onto oncoming traffic. It's hardcore metal-on-metal, and everyone in the theater, mostly fanboys and new recruits, ate it up.

While watching this on the big-screen I couldn't help flashing back to twenty years ago when Masters of the Universe opened in theaters, and the joy I experienced seeing my childhood fantasies fleshed out on screen. It felt as if I were transported back to the 80s last night, soundtrack and all (Deja vu is about to hit big time; Warner Bros. is already developing a live-action He-Man).

Transformers is loud - and proud of it. It knows it's dumb, you know it's dumb, yet there you are, sitting in your seat, fingers covered in popcorn grease, gleefully yelping during the crazy battle scenes.

It's unapologetic junk ready to be consumed by red-blooded, prepubescent boys and twentysomething manboys, and that's the genius of Michael Bay, the biggest manboy of them all. If you blow it up, they will cheer. No wonder Dreamworks teamed him up with Optimus Prime.

It's a match made in Hasbro heaven.

H.P.M.

P.S. - Thanks to JJ Abrams's little teaser for dwarfing the entire main attraction.