Item #1: Sadly, I’m not going to be able to give the great Jim Henson television show “Fraggle Rock” its due justice. It was a magical show that managed to entertain and delight, while delivering a not-so-subtle liberal agenda of anti-prejudice. It was an allegory, before I understood what the hell an allegory was, that actually transcended the void of intelligence created in the adult television world at the time, which consisted primarily of entertaining, though brainless, shows like “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “CHiPs,” and “Magnum, P.I.” “Fraggle Rock,” on the other hand, delivered a Unitarian and conservation message through the use of Fraggles, Doozers, Gorgs, and even trash heaps. And long after every memory of the show escaped my mind but the enchanting theme song, I suspect its social implications stuck with me. In fact, this is one of the few shows from my childhood that I absolutely don’t mind being resurrected for the big screen, so long as Ahmet Zappa (who has been tapped to write a treatment and executive produce) keeps the message of tolerance intact. Not a lot of details have yet been made public (it’s still a work in progress), but the Fraggle Rock film will, of course, feature Gobo, Wembley, Mokey, Boober and Red, who will travel outside the rock and into Outer Space (i.e., the human world). Hopefully, they won’t run into any conservative radio talk show hosts while they are out there. — Dustin Rowles
Item #2: In order for George Clooney, oddly coiffed womanizer of B movies, to become George Clooney, respected filmmaking maverick, he had to earn street cred. After taking steps in the right direction with Three Kings, Clooney found his modern muses in Joel and Ethan Coen and their O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which began to convince many people (myself included) that Clooney just might know what he’s doing. His second film in what has been called the Coens’ “idiot series,” Intolerable Cruelty, didn’t have the same punch, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that the third time brings back the charm: Clooney is reuniting with the producing-directing team for Burn After Reading, a spy caper about a CIA agent who loses a disc full of agency secrets as he’s writing a book about his work. Personally, I hope Clooney decides to gain 30 lbs. and sacrifice a fingernail for the second time around, because nothing says comedic romp like jihadist torture. — Daniel Carlson
Item #3: All right, the great news is this: John Cusack is co-writing a movie he is starring in for the first time since High Fidelity, called Brand Hauser: Stuff Happens. The fact that it’s about a hit man assigned to kill a Middle Eastern oil minister is slightly disconcerting, suggesting that Cusack (who also co-wrote Grosse Point Blanke) doesn’t have a lot of range. It’s curious, too, that Cusack (who is also producing) couldn’t scrounge up a better director for the picture than Josh Seftel, whose current claim to fame is helming a few episodes of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” But the real potential travesty of Brand Hauser is who will be co-starring as a pop star marrying a local politician: Hilary (fucking) Duff. Are you kidding me? Somewhere, the cinematic versions of Lane Mayer, Walter Gibson, and Lloyd Dobler are cursing you, John Cusack, though I suspect they may have exhausted their arsenal of profanities sometime after Must Love Dogs. — DR
Item #4: Speaking of filmed torture that no one wants to see, Eric Bana and Terrence Howard are attached to Factor X, a thriller about the Wichita-based serial killer Dennis Rader, known as BTK, so named for his m.o. of bind, torture, and kill. The film takes its name not from the gene that causes genetic mutation but from the elusive quality referenced by Rader in the letters he sent to police that described his motives for the murders. Ridley Scott will produce, and maybe direct, which is encouraging, since Ridley’s infinitely more talented that his kid brother, Tony. But, despite the presence of Bana and Howard, this thing could well fall apart in the script stage: It’s being written by Gregory Allen Howard (no relation to the actor), who also brought us the cruelly stereotypical and insultingly dumb Remember the Titans, a film so cloying and dishonest it almost guarantees that the memories of BTK’s victims will be all but subsumed as Bana and Howard learn to see past their respective skin tones and get along, preferably as some generic 1960s R&B plays in the background. — DC
Item #5: From the “I’m smarter than network executives department,” NBC has announced that it’ll be putting “Scrubs” (welcome back!!) and “30 Rock” on Thursday nights from 9-10 p.m., starting November 30, something I said, months ago, that it should do. Now that’s all well and good, but what about things you can watch right now, right? Well here are three great little Thursday morning distractions for you. First, Fox has released a trailer for the upcoming season of “24,” which looks quite entertaining (although it’d be better if Jack kept that new beard he’s sporting for the whole season). Meanwhile, I found two great clips earlier this week while digging through YouTube for yesterday’s column. First up is a very well edited video to Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” (a personal favorite song) of clips from the first season of “Battlestar Galactica.” But the real gem, and I’m talking borderline genius here, people, is this clip, which imagines what the opening for “The Office” might look like if done by the “Battlestar Galactica” folks. I’ve literally watched this about six times since finding it; it’s that good. So after you finish reading this roundup, go check it out (or you can go now as long as you promise to come back and finish reading!).— Seth Freilich
Item #6: With a modest $15 million opening, The Prestige defied box-office expectations and debuted at number one, which — according to our review — was its rightful position. Most of the commenters agreed with Dan’s take on the movie, but for the love of Baby Jesus don’t post spoilers in the comments section without adequate warning. That’s wicked uncool. Wicked, wicked uncool.
The Departed continued its box-office success, tacking another $13 million on to its take, bringing its total to $76 million. Flags of Our Fathers managed only a paltry $10 million to come in at number three, and the $7 million gross for Flicka suggests that I’m not the only one who hates horse movies (all right, all right: Seabiscuit notwithstanding). Finally, Marie Antoinette amassed $5 million, decent for a film released in fewer than 900 theaters.
The schedule of releases is surprisingly low-key for the weekend before Halloween, as Saw III is the only horror film to bow. “Horror” is a bit of a misnomer, actually, for a franchise seemingly built around genital mutilation and the amped up destruction of body parts. Fear not, however, for Pajiba will also be featuring a Halloween-themed Guide to What’s Good for You this coming Monday (if all goes well). Catch a Fire is also on tap, for those of you who’d rather watch a film about the “horrors” of apartheid-era South Africa. Running with Scissors expands from eight to 600 theaters this weekend, and our review will follow late Friday night (the local indie theaters, unfortunately, do not have matinees). Babel opens in only six theaters, two weeks before its scheduled wide release. We’ll have that review for you late this weekend. And finally, for those of you (im)patiently awaiting the review for The Last King of Scotland, it’ll be posted (hopefully) later today. Sorry for the delay. — DRLet the Music Play! Down in Pajiba Rock!
Trade News | October 25, 2006 | Comments ()