Today’s featured event:
It’s Halloween, so celebrate by dressing up, taking your kids trick-or-treating or watching a scary movie.
If you want to go out for All Hallow’s Eve, there are numerous haunted houses, fall festivals and special children’s event to choose from around the state.
For more information, go to www.wimgo.com/halloween.
As a follow-up to my extended Q&A with “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ creator Joel Hodgson, I’d like to note that Satellite News, the official fans site of MST3K, is reporting that Hodgson has revealed the title of “Cinematic Titanic” special Christmas DVD.
According to Satellite News, Hodgson revealed today that the “Cinematic Titanic” crew will riff on “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.”
Joel and robot friends Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo riffed on this bit of Christmas cheer back during Season 3 of MST3K, but Hodgson promises new riffs in the “Cinematic Titanic” version.
The “Cinematic Titanic” DVD of “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” is due out Nov. 20.
Check out the story from Satellite News by clicking here.
This is an extended Q&A version of my recent phone interview with Joel Hodgson, creator of the cult TV show “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” which is celebrating the big 2-0 with the “Mystery Science Theater 3000 20th Anniversary Edition.”
In the interview, Hodgson talks happily about getting to revisit the space-based movie riffing/puppet show he created back in 1988. He also talked about his new movie-mocking project “Cinematic Titanic” with former MST3K cast members Trace Beaulieu, Mary Jo Pehl, Frank Conniff and J. Elvis “Josh” Weinstein.
He also talks about why he left the show in 1999 and describes it as a “personal tragedy.”
MST3K fans (AKA MSTies) may find it tragic that Hodgson doesn’t give much hope for a crossover between “Cinematic Titanic” and RiffTrax, the movie-mocking audio commentaries that former MST3K cast members Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy are creating.
Q: I just got off the phone with original cast member Trace Beaulieu a second ago.
A: Oh, good I’m right on time.
Q: I got the whole scoop from him. Now, I’m going to check in with you and see if your stories match up.
A: OK, I bet they’re pretty close. (laughing)
Q: So where are you calling me from?
A: I’m calling you from Pennsylvania. I’m at a coffee shop in Pennsylvania.
Q: How’d do you end up in a coffee shop in Pennsylvania?
A: I just moved to Pennsylvania.
Q: Oh, OK. So there’s no weird story like you were kidnapped by aliens and left there because you were wanting some caffeine?
A: I can’t talk about that. (laughing) I can’t. Actually, they’re looking at me right now. I can’t say anything.
Q: Well, we’ll try not to say anything that will upset the aliens.
A: All right, sounds good.
Q: Did you ever imagine when you started MST3K that I would be calling you about the 20th anniversary?
A: Oh, absolutely not. It’s so funny. I’m just thrilled and it’s so great. But no, I didn’t have the faintest idea. I mean, it’s funny, when we were doing it, people would go ‘Are you surprised that people like your show and it’s on TV?’ I would always kind of go, ‘No, ‘cause that’s why you make a TV show. You do it ‘cause you think you have a good idea and you think people will like it.’ So that part I saw, but not 20 years later, and we actually every year we sell more DVDs than we did the previous year. It’s kind of like the comic equivalent of Steve Miller Band’s ‘Fly Like an Eagle’; it just keeps getting reinvented and rediscovered by new generations.
Q: What is it about it that makes it like that, that makes it strike such a chord. Because I will tell you that I never had to defend something I got in the mail as vehemently as I did the box set. I was stiff-arming people like Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings.
A: Wow, that’s good news. That’s great. I don’t know, I think that it was kind of like we created a new comic art form and because of that we were able to kind of fill it up. I mean, the real trick of the show is that we did 22 shows locally to really figure it out. We spent a year doing it on a local UHF channel and so when we went and did it nationally, we really had it figured out.
So, I feel like that was kind of the magic secret ingredient. And I think if we would have done it traditionally like oh I go to a network and I have an idea and I go ‘This is what it’s going to be like,’ and then they go, ‘OK, write a script,’ it just never would have happened. It was really about getting it on its feet and kind of roughing it out. And that’s the way I am, too. I don’t like writing scripts; I like making the visual elements and seeing if it all makes sense visually and then all the other things kind of fall into place.
I don’t know, it’s kind of a long way of saying we kind of invented this new kind of weird little thing, and then because we were kind of open-minded we were able to kind of figure out how to master it. It’s a niche, I guess.
Q: Was there any particular moment or little idea or something that kind of sparked the whole thing? Obviously, you’re the creator and came up with the idea, and it is kind of an idea where you think, well how did you come out with that, making fun of movies with robot puppets?
A: I can tell you the exact moment I thought of it. It was in high school. I was at my friend Mike Wilkinson’s house and we were folding flowers for the homecoming float. I don’t know if you did this, but in Green Bay, you made floats out of chicken wire and then you got tissue paper and you kind of crumple it and stuff it in; it kind of looked like a plush toy or something.
But for some reason, we’re all at his house, and we’re making these things, and putting them in garbage bags and hanging out and I was probably 16 and the Elton John album “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was like playing on the stereo. And there was like this image in there of an illustration of this song called “I’ve Seen That Movie Too,” and there’s a silhouette of three characters looking at a movie screen. And I looked at that, and I said, ‘You know, that’d actually be a really great show if you ran a movie and you had people saying stuff.’ And so that’s when I thought of it, and I knew enough about how green screen worked from the weatherman; in Green Bay they stand in front of Green Bay, they’d stand in front of an orange screen and they could superimpose stuff. So technically I knew it was possible.
And then it kind of set dormant until I got to a position where I could actually do something about it, and that’s when I had gotten done doing standup and went back to Minneapolis. And that’s when I kind of pulled together and got to it. So that was really the Gestalt moment, really when I saw that record cover.
Q: You really remember that in like scary detail.
A: It’s really weird but actually yeah, I do remember it. And you know, you just have those moments occasionally where you go, ‘OK I think that’s a genuinely good idea.’ But yeah, high school, I thought of it in high school. (laughing)
In honor of the cult TV show’s 20th anniversary, it’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000″ Week here at the blog. Here’s your giggle-inducing, bad movie-related quotes of the day:
[Dave, one of the movie's characters, is fiddling with the radio as Donna watches.]
Dave: Will you go out and ask Steve to come in here a minute?
Tom Servo [as Donna]: Okay. STEEEEEEEEEEEEVE!
Mike [as Dave]: I could have done that…
[Dave hears something.]
Mike: Not everyone is Steve!
[Steve, Julie, and Dr. Wyman are examining Johnny's body. Donna enters.]
Mike [as Julie]: Yes?
Tom Servo [as Dr. Wyman]: Yes?
Crow [as Steve]: Yes?
[After Dave is attacked, the rest of the scientists rush to the scene.]
Tom Servo: And the Steves are there!
Crow: Steve One, you go that way. Steve Two, come with me!
Crow: Hard to trust somebody not named Steve.
- From “Night of the Blood Beast,” a movie clearly obsessed with the name “Steve.”
Joaquin Phoenix caught the industry and an entertainment reporter off guard recently by suddenly announcing that he is retiring from film acting to focus on his music career.
Check out this video from the recent production of Ernest Hemingway’s “The World of Nick Adams” benefitting Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Camps, where Phoenix, 34, made the announcement. I found the video on Elizabeth Snead’s L.A. Times blog, The Dish Rag. (Note that Phoenix’s best pal Casey Affleck is uncomfortably left to field questions after Phoenix makes his surprise announcement and then bolts.)
Phoenix’s last movie apparently will be James Gray’s “Two Lovers,” co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow and set for Feb. 13 release.
Phoenix has been nominated for two Oscars, for best supporting actor for his role in “Gladiator” and best actor for his starring role in the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” He also won a Grammy for his work on the “Walk the Line” soundtrack, for which he did his own singing, so he’s certainly got musical talent.
Estelle Reiner, mother of director Rob Reiner, who delivered the famous line “I’ll have what she’s having” in this restaurant scene of “When Harry Met Sally,” has died. You can see her on the left in the background of his shot from the movie.
Estelle Reiner, who delivered the famous line, “I’ll have what she’s having,” in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” has died, according to the Associated Press.
She was 94 and died Saturday of old age at her Beverly Hills home.
Reiner was the wife of actor-director Carl Reiner and mother of actor-director Rob Reiner.
She was probably best known for her hilarious line from “When Harry Met Sally,” which she uttered after watching Meg Ryan’s Sally character fake an orgasm in a restaurant.
“When Harry Met Sally,” directed by Rob Reiner, is probably one of the funniest rom-coms ever, and Reiner’s deadpan delivery is classic.
Click here to read the AP story.
As the Associated Press and The Oklahoman reported earlier this week, acclaimed author and Oklahoma native Tony Hillerman died Sunday in Albuquerque, N.M. He was 83 and had been in failing health for the past few years.
Hillerman was best known for the lauded Navajo Tribal Police mystery novels, which focused on Navajo police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. I’ve read some of them, and highly recommend them.
The Oklahoma native wrote at least 18 Navajo Tribal Police novels, two children’s books, four photography books and his 2001 memoir, “Seldom Disappointed.”
Hillerman was born May 27, 1925, in Sacred Heart. He grew up in Pottawatomie County, attended Oklahoma State University and earned his journalism degree at the University of Oklahoma.
He is survived by his wife, Marie, and their six children. Our thoughts are with them.
To read the NewsOK story about Hillerman’s passing, click here.
To read the AP obituary, click here.
For the first time, the music of The Beatles will be featured in a video game.
The Fab Four will enter the lucrative video game market in a deal with MTV Games and Harmonix, creators of the “Rock Band” series, according to this Associated Press story.
The game is set to debut in time for 2009′s holiday season.
“The project is a fun idea which broadens the appeal of The Beatles and their music. I like people having the opportunity to get to know the music from the inside out,” Paul McCartney said in a statement to the AP.
The game will not be titled “Rock Band,” but will work with the existing instruments: guitar/bass, drums and microphone. Game developers were dodgey about whether new instruments, such as a keyboard or perhaps a sitar, would be introduced for the game.
The game will span the Beatles’ diverse musical and personal styles, from the bubble-gum pop and mop tops to the psychedelia and hippie attitudes.
“The Beatles continue to evolve with the passing of time and how wonderful that The Beatles’ legacy will find its natural progression into the 21st century through the computerized world we live in,” Beatles drummer Ringo Starr in a release to the AP. “Let the games commence.”
Giles Martin, son of Beatles’ producer, George Martin, will serve as music producer, with input from McCartney, Starr, John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono and George Harrison’s widow Olivia Harrison.
While we’re on the subject of music games, my son, Chris, received a copy of “Rock Band 2 Special Edition,” and I’ll be bringing you a review in the coming days.
Although it was released only through Walmart, Sam’s Club and the band’s Web site, AC/DC’s long-awaited album “Black Ice” debuted at the top of the U.S. album charts, topping the “High School Musical 3″ soundtrack, according to this Billboard story.
“Black Ice” sold more than 780,000 copies in the U.S.; it’s the year’s second biggest album debut after Lil Wayne, who sold more than a million copies of “Tha Carter III” when it was released.
The CD has topped the charts in 29 countries since its release in the recent days, according to this Associated Press story.
“It’s overwhelming, and quite hard to take in,” the legendary group’s lead singer, Brian Johnson, told the AP Wednesday after learning his group had 2008′s second-biggest album debut.
“Even an old dog like me has a few more surprises in life, I guess,” he said, chuckling.
The group beat out “High School Musical 3,” whose predecessors both became top sellers, for the No. 1 spot.
According to figures released Wednesday by Nielsen SoundScan, “Black Ice” sold some 784,000 copies in its first week of release; the teen-oriented movie soundtrack sold about 297,000 copies.
In making Wal-Mart the only retailer for their album, AC/DC joined the ranks of the Eagles, Journey and Oklahoma native Garth Brooks, who have experienced success with the strategy.
“It was a win-win situation, and they decided to make it into a big thing with AC/DC merchandise and good deals with the other albums with the catalog,” Johnson told the AP. “This has been a wonderful thing.”
AC/DC will its “Black Ice” World Tour Jan. 26 to Tulsa’s BOK Center. For more information, go to www.bokcenter.com.
Carrie Underwood, who performed a terrific homecoming show Wednesday night at Tulsa’s BOK Center, tops the country airplay charts this week with her latest hit, “Just a Dream,” according a news release.
The Oklahoma native announced Wednesday night during the show that the song had become her latest No. 1 hit.
From the BOK Center stage, Underwood said after she won “American Idol” in 2005, she listened to many songs when selecting the ones to record for her albums. In the process, she identified two songs that she knew right away that she had to record: “Jesus Take the Wheel” and “Just a Dream.”
The song, and the powerful music video, tells the story of a woman who loses her solider fiance to war.
In a phone interview last week, Underwood told me that filming that video was an emotionally wrenching experience.
“Yeah, it was pretty depressing,” she said with a little laugh. ”That whole crew that we did the video with, we’ve worked together quite a bit and they’re so much fun. And I had to have a talk with everybody at the beginning of the shoot, and it’s like ‘OK, I have to be really sad, and you guys can’t be fun because that’s not fair.’ I can’t go from like laughing to crying.
“And the director Roman White, he did such a great job, but I just know him being so goofy that even when he was trying to talk to me very seriously and be very somber, that was almost funnier than him actually being funny. But it was a bummer of a day pretty much.”
She also told me she has received a lot of feedback from people who have been touched by the heartbreaking ballad.
“We get e-mail sent to various people that I work with and they always get passed on to me, just about people who can relate to the song. Or I’ve actually got like dedication requests for me to dedicate the song to somebody, a family that’s in the audience that’s lost somebody. Those are always really tough.
“That’s when you really start thinking about everything, while you’re singing this song it’s kind of like this is reality for some people. For me, it’s just I’m telling a story, but for these people they’ve lived it.”
The fourth consecutive No. 1 from the Checotah native’s “Carnival Ride” album, “Just a Dream” marks her ninth single to top a key sales or airplay chart, according to the release. That’s an amazing accomplishment, since Underwood has released only two albums.
“I am just so honored,” she said in the release. “All of the support that I’ve had throughout all my singles is just incredible. And I’m just very appreciative.”
To date, the “Carnival Ride” album has also launched the smash singles “So Small,” “All-American Girl,” and “Last Name,” all co-written by Underwood.
“Just a Dream,” written by Steve McEwan, Hillary Lindsey, and Gordie Sampson, is a song that Underwood said in the release “such a beautiful story, and I feel like those are the songs that are really meaningful,” where a lyric can help listeners to “see things in a different way, or it can make them feel better about a situation that they’re in, or they can empathize with it, or they can listen to it, and the song tells exactly what they went through.
“Those songs, when they get so close, when so many people like them and hear them, and it makes an impact on their life, those are the ones that are really important.”
The only “American Idol” winner ever to achieve nine No. 1 hits, Underwood’s collection of chart-toppers began with the instant success of her post-”American Idol” single, “Inside Your Heaven,” which debuted atop Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in the summer of 2005. It was the first of five No. 1s to top the BDS or Mediabase charts from her seven time-platinum debut, “Some Hearts,” with the others including the Grammy-winning “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Before He Cheats,” as well as “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” and “Wasted.”
During last night’s show, the humble star said, “My goal with the first album was to sell enough that they would let me make a second one.”
“And they let me make a second one,” she said with a wide grin. “And my goal with the second one was to sell enough that they would let me make a third one and guess what.”
She said she would start working on her third CD soon.
Check out the music video for “Just a Dream,” from Sony’s myplay.