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SF in film and TV

Hollywood, Media, and the Supernatural
CSICOP, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and the Council for Media Integrity are sponsoring a seminar called ''That's Entertainment! Hollywood, the Media and the Supernatural'' on Saturday, November 14th, at the Los Angeles Renaissance Hotel. Guests include author/entertainer Steve Allen, Justin Gunn, host of Sci-Fi Channel's The Web, and Trey Stokes, a special effects creator whose credits include Starship Troopers. For information call 1-800-634-1610 or email Matt Nisbet.

New York, Radio, and the Movies
Yesterday's New York Times (Sunday Oct. 25th) had several articles of interest:

  • This article about the 60th anniversary of Orson Welles's ''The War of the Worlds'' radio production, and the new radio play, co-written by Terry Bisson, that debuts this coming Friday at the Museum of Television and Radio and on the Sci-Fi Channel.
  • Stephen Holden writes about Hollywood's exploitation of ''mass culture's rampant 'Touched by an Angel' syndrome'' in such films as Holy Man, City of Angels, What Dreams May Come, Simon Birch, and the forthcoming Meet Joe Black and Jack Frost.
    What's disturbing about these films isn't their stories. Who doesn't enjoy a good supernatural yarn with a misty-eyed twist? It's their grandiose air of sanctity that cloys. They are bloated reflections of a narcissistic age obsessed with eternal youth. If love is decreed by magic, you don't have to work at it. All you have to do is gaze into your partner's eyes and "know." If spiritual insight arrives from on high, you don't have to waste precious time in prayer, meditation and study.
  • An article by Neal Gabler, ''Molding Our Lives in the Image of Movies'', is adapted from his forthcoming book Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality (Knopf).
    [W]hat really seemed to illustrate how rapidly personal life was advancing toward theater was the advent of a new profession: self-styled "life coaches," reportedly 1,500 of them as of last year, who advise clients on how to reorient their lives to reach what one coach calls fulfillment but what someone else might call a happy ending. What the coaches do, along with routine ego boosting, is replot the client's life. They tell him how he should organize his time, how he should deal with business matters, whether or not he should host a party or take a trip. "It's like painting a canvas for a 'life assignment,' " said one coach.

(Mon 26 Oct 98)

Psycho Trailer
Universal Pictures has released the theatrical trailer for Gus Van Sant's remake of Psycho today on the web at This is the first time a film trailer has been put online before its being shown in theaters. The film opens December 4th.
(Tue 13 Oct 98)

Frankenstein Meets Y2K
Universal Pictures plans a remake of Frankenstein as a computer-generated film aimed for release on Halloween, 2000. The project received a green light when studio executives viewed a 17-second screen test created earlier this year by Industrial Light & Magic. The effects incorporate real human eyes into the computer-generated character.

The new Frankenstein has been scripted by Brent Maddock and S. S. Wilson (who co-wrote 1990's Tremors) and is being co-directed by Maddock and ILM visual effects supervisor Dave Carson. The budget is $80 million.
(Tue 13 Oct 98)

Groening in Space
Matt Groening, the cartoonist-creator of TV's long running animated series The Simpsons, is developing a new animated series for Fox called Futurama, set in 2999. Groening told a group of TV critics in Los Angeles in July that he and his older brother Mark grew up reading science fiction books and magazines.

I love Star Wars and Star Trek and all the variations on them. However, I wanted to do a TV show in which the problems of the universe are not solved by militarism guided by New Age spirituality.
Groening indicated the new series will have the same irreverent pop-culture sensibility as The Simpsons, which has in the course of its 10 years skewered such SF icons as Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Futurama is scheduled to debut early in 1999.

(Tue 13 Oct 98)

Previous Media Refractions

August - September:
  • Eyes and AI
  • Millennial Movies
  • Lord of the Rings film trilogy
  • Persis Khambatta, 1950 - 1998
  • Music to time travel by
  • Forthcoming Films
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