Saturday, October 30, 2010

U.N.E.T.I.D.A. "lost no capability"

The Atlantic reported earlier in the week that last Saturday morning, at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming an engineering fault took 50 ICBMs [almost 10% of the U.S. nuclear missile capability] offline. Originally said to be a power failure [unlikely due to redundant power supplies, auxiliary generators and even temporary battery power] it was later corrected to a fault with old communication cabling deep within the underground complex.

According to people briefed on what happened, a squadron of ICBMs controlled by the 90th Missile Wing suddenly dropped down into what's known as "LF Down" status, meaning that the missile operators in their bunkers could no longer communicate with the missiles themselves. LF Down status also means that various security protocols built into the missile delivery system, like intrusion alarms and warhead separation alarms, were offline.

Commanders at the AFB sent warning notices to the country's two other nuclear missile command centers, as well as the to the NMCC at the Pentagon. At that point, they did not know what was causing the failure, and they did not know whether other missile systems were experiencing similar symptoms.

Engineers noted that hardware failures had triggered a similar cascading failure 12 years ago at Minot AFB in North Dakota and Malmstrom AFB in Montana. That piece of hardware is the prime suspect. An Air Force spokesperson, Christy Nolta, said the failure lasted less than an hour. "There was a temporary interruption and the missiles themselves were always protected by multiple, redundant, safety, security and command and control features. At no time was there any danger to the public," she said. Another military official said the failure triggered an emergency inspection protocol, and sentries were dispatched to verify in person that all of the missiles were safe and properly protected.

Some reports suggest that the missiles were rendered inoperable by UAOs like the ones that former Air Force missile officers describe as interfering with missile systems in the past as they stated to the National Press Club recently:

Brigadier General “Ballista” Jackson, U.N.E.T.I.D.A. Missile Defence Commander [Northern] also answered media questions during the week. "UNETIDA is confident that at no time were we not able to strike against extra-terrestrial aggressors in orbit or implement our scorched earth policy on the ground as a result of the fault. We are satisfied that U.S. Global Strike Command has an efficient infrastructure in place that enable us to protect the planet should it be required."

While UNETIDA has no ICBMs of its own, emergency powers to launch and control the weapons are intended to be granted to them by the heads of state of China, France, the Russian Federation, the U.K. and the U.S.A. should the need arise.

Source: Eamonn / The Atlantic / FOX News

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Stars barred

When Congress returns from it's pre-election break on Nov. 15th, a deep freeze will settle over the confirmation process for flag and general officer promotions and assignments as Sen. Jim Webb [D-Va.] a key lawmaker, uses senatorial privilege to place a hold on the nominations. Usually these holds are done in secret and are of a short duration but Webb, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee, mailed the Defense Department on Monday and issued a public statement announcing what he is doing.

Webb is fighting to try to save the Virginia-based U.S. Joint Forces Command from the closure and subsequent loss of 3000 jobs announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates as a budget-cutting measure but has had difficultly wrestling information from the military to help make its case and will now put a hold on all nominations until the Pentagon answers questions he first posed two months ago.

The information he is seeking is a historical comparison of the size of the defense and service staffs and the size of staffs at combatant commands, which he believes will show that growth in Pentagon-based staff has been far greater than growth in places like the Joint Forces Command.

Webb served five years in the Pentagon, including time as Navy secretary and as the assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs, said he doesn’t understand what is taking so long. “This failure to respond to a request for basic information that should be readily available is indicative of the lack of cooperation that has characterized the proposal to close the U.S. Joint Forces Command,” he said in a statement. “The lack of transparency and consultation stand in stark contrast to how decisions traditionally are made.”

Senate approval is required for appointments above O-6 after being nominated by The President.

Source: Marine Corps Times

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Town, a nice place to see but a bad place to be.

Ben Affleck is certainly not anywhere near my favourite actors list, so when it was suggested that I go to see his latest movie I initially said no, but only because I’d not heard of it and I presumed it was his usual turgid shit. You know the kind; something along the lines of him falling in love with Sandra Bullock or someone playing someone dying of a rare disease but she showed him how to embrace his humanity or something equally “entertaining”. Then it was explained that Affleck was a bank robber along with the excellent Jeremy The Hurt Locker Renner and they’d be taking part in Heat-style shootouts with cops during their bank raids. Then later, I discovered that Affleck had actually directed it and while not my cup of tea, his work on Gone Baby Gone seemed to have been well received. These revelations coupled with a viewing of the trailer successfully changed my mind and the resulting viewing of The Town has forever altered my perception of Ben Affleck, perhaps not as an actor but as a competent and more than adequate dramatic director.

Overall, The Town seemed like a very ambitious project for him, but I’ll be the first to say this stint as a director has produced results I’d have previously reserved for Roger Donaldson or Dominic Sena. His action scenes, while not Micheal Mann by any means, were still perfectly judged, choreographed, lit and shot and it’s not every director, even every action-movie director that can pull that off so flawlessly with such little experience. Affleck did fall into the trap of making himself the star which is not a conceit, but a judgement of what he can do and foreknowledge of the project and it frankly is probably a better idea for an actor without extensive directing experience to do. In the hope that Affleck’s directing career is as least as successful as Sly Stallone’s; eventually Affleck could direct something and allow a superior actor to take some of the limelight as Stallone did with Jason Statham in the sublime masterpiece of action - The Expendables.

While he never brings anything more then the acting chops of a mildly retarded Keanu Reeves to the front of the camera, Affleck's judgement behind it made up for his woeful acting. He added in a pretty good cast to round off this entertaining movie. These included the aforementioned Jeremy Renner who did a brilliant take on the slightly psychotic friend-since-childhood who Affleck is indebted to. Mad Men’s John Hamm as a slightly assholeish and a-bit-incompetent FBI Agent that of course helps “glorify” the nefarious actions of the thieves to some extent. Rebecca The Prestige Hall played the panicked bank manager in a role that sadly lost touch with reality partway through the movie. Rounding out the cast were Chris Cooper and Pete Postlethwaite both looking seriously haggard since I last laid eyes on them and make you hope there’s serious make-up involved in their current appearance.

The story wasn’t too revolutionary. A new take on the bank robbers who have outwitted and escaped the cops who know who committed the crime and have no evidence to convict so are just waiting for a screw up. What makes this different is that our protagonist falls for the assistant manager of a bank they rob and is prepared to leave his life of crime, his family of thieves and neer-do-wells to go build a life with her instead, after one last job of course.

Final Verdict: Affleck is well on the way to becoming an accomplished director and his effort here is remarkable enough that he should consider focusing on it from now on. The movie is quite entertaining if not in any way spectacular. Very realistic shootouts but they're too few and the fluff between them is at times too yawnworthy to warrant a higher rating. A step in the right direction and certainly worth a look.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ***1/2

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Colonel's Bullets - October 25th 2010

Mel Gibson cut from Hangover 2

Mel Gibson's tattoo artist cameo role in the sequel to comedy hit The Hangover was cut and recast with Liam Neeson after the stars and crew protested to the director and producers.

Gibson is in the middle of a bitter custody dispute with singer OksanaGrigorieva. Voice messages in which he threatened her were made public this summer, and she has accused him of hitting her while she was holding their infant daughter. In light of this the crew and cast led by Zach Galifianakis were adamant that it would hurt the movie to include Gibson.

A source close to Gibson was outraged that the same folks who had no problem resuscitating the career of convicted rapist Mike Tyson couldn't stomach doing the same for Gibson. "It's such hypocrisy. They cast a convicted rapist but 86'd Mel," Gibson's pal told TMZ.

Jean Claude Van Damme's Heart Attack

On Wednesday, Jean Claude TimeCop/Universal Soldier Van Damme was reported to have had a heart attack. reported that the Belgian star was admitted to hospital in New Orleans after suffering a mild heart attack.

Van Damme responded on his own Facebook page: "Hours ago, I read a rumor online about me suffering heart attack!!," he wrote. "Please, do not believe all what you read from rumors on any unofficial JCVD sites. Jean-Claude Van Damme is 100% healthy, training well for taking the fight and sending his fans & friends much love."

TwitchFilm later said its original information came off a Van Damme fan discussion board.

Simon MacCorkindale R.I.P.

Simon MacCorkindale, star of Falcon Crest, Holby City but perhaps best known as Dr. Jonathan Chase in the short lived Manimal died October 14th from cancer at age 58.

After a career in theatre, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, MacCorkindale starred in a variety of films and serials, including Quatermass, Death on the Nile, The Sword and the Sorcerer and Jaws 3-D. Through the rest of 80s and early 1990s, he starred in several television shows and also directed and produced numerous stage and TV productions including Relic Hunter and Queen of Swords. In 2002 he joined the cast of the BBC medical drama Casualty as Harry Harper, remaining in the role for six years.

He lived on and ran an Arabian stud-farm on Exmoor with his wife, British actress Susan George whom he met in 1977 and married in secret in Fiji in October 1984. They had no children.

Randy Quaid and wife officially loose their minds

Independance Day actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evi are seeking asylum in Canada, claiming they are being persecuted in the US. The couple were arrested in Vancouver on Thursday on US warrants related to vandalism charges, issued last week after they missed a court appearance. "We feel our lives are in danger," Evi Quaid told an immigration adjudicator. Their lawyer showed the media a handwritten statement, in which the Quaids said they were "requesting asylum from Hollywood 'star whackers'."

Last month the Quaids were charged by US police with illegal occupation of their former home in Santa Barbara, California to which they caused more than $5,000 in damage. When they failed to show up in court to answer those charges last Monday, a warrant was issued for their arrest. The Quaids have been released from custody in Canada and are expected to attend a hearing later in the next week.

At Friday's immigration hearing, Evi Quaid alleged that a number of her husband's actor friends - among them Heath Ledger and David Carradine - had been killed in recent years. "Randy has known eight close friends murdered in odd, strange manners," she said in what the Reuters news agency called a "rambling" presentation. "We feel that we're next."

Sources: CBC / Fox / BBC / Twitchfilm / TMZ

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's new on TV? Part 2

The sequel to my well received What's New on TV post.

Undercovers [NBC, Wednesday @ 8/7c]

An action spy television series created by J.J. Abrams and Josh Reims for NBC. Described as a sexy, fun, action-packed spy drama that proves once and for all that marriage is still the world's most dangerous partnership. Outwardly, Steven Bloom [Boris Kodjoe] and his wife, Samantha [Gugu Mbatha-Raw] are a typical married couple who own and operate a small catering company in Los Angeles. Secretly, the duo were two of the best spies the CIA had ever known, until they fell in love on the job five years ago and retired. When fellow spy and friend Leo Nash [Carter MacIntyre], goes missing while on the trail of a Russian arms dealer, the Blooms are reinstated by boss and agency liaison, Carlton Shaw [Gerald McRaney] to locate and rescue Nash. With assistance from resourceful CIA field agent Bill Hoyt [Ben Schwartz], whose professional admiration for Steven isn't hard to miss, the pair is thrust back into the world of espionage, disguises and hand-to-hand combat. Following leads that take them to cities spanning the globe, Steven and Samantha quickly realize that perhaps this supercharged, undercover lifestyle provides exactly the kind of excitement and romance that their marriage has been missing.

The Colonel says: Oh dear, no this has nothing on Alias or Fringe in the intriguing story department. When you see J.J.'s name attached you have a certain "expectation" but this is little more than a harmless 21st century Hart to Hart. I can't believe there's nothing more to it then that so I'll watch some more to see if J.J. will work his magic again.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *1/2

Blue Bloods [CBS, Friday @ 10/9c][Starts on RTE this Fall]

Blue Bloods, a police procedural television series by Robin Green and Mitchell Burgess of The Sopranos, is a drama about a multi-generational family of NYC cops. Frank Reagan [Tom Sellek] is the NYPD Commissioner and heads both the police force and the Reagan brood. He runs his department as diplomatically as he runs his family, even when dealing with the politics that plagued his unapologetically bold father, Henry [Len Cariou], during his stint as Chief. A source of pride and concern for Frank is his eldest son Danny [Donnie Wahlberg], a seasoned detective, family man, and Iraqi War vet who on occasion uses dubious tactics to solve cases. The sole Reagan woman in the family, Erin [Bridget Moynahan], is a N.Y. Assistant D.A. and newly single parent, who also serves as the legal compass for her siblings and father. Jamie is the youngest Reagan, fresh out of Harvard Law and the family's "golden boy;" however, unable to deny the family tradition, Jamie [Will Estes] has given up law and is now a newly minted cop. Jamie's life takes an abrupt turn when he's asked to become part of a clandestine police investigation even his father knows nothing about, and one that could impact the family's legacy.

The Colonel Says: I thought this was just going to be a bog-standard cop show until Donnie Wahlberg starts smashing a suspects face against a toilet seat and waterboards him with the flush. Then two federal agents ask the youngest Regan what he knows about "The Blue Templars", a secret society of cops within the NYPD for generations - how fucking cool is that?

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2

$#*! My Dad Says [CBS, Thursday @ 8.30ET/7.30C]

I'm not very "open" to comedy shows, there usually has to be an impressive hook to get me to watch, I count Red Dwarf, Major Dad and Father Ted as true classics. Currently Fox's animated comedies and NBC's offering of 30 Rock and The Office are really the only comedy shows peaking my interest but I said I'd give $#*! My Dad Says a go solely on the grounds it has William Shatner! The series was born from a 29 year old Blogger/Tweeter whatever, who created a phenomenon by writing down and posting all the crazy stuff his dad said to him. Unlike some of the morons who get book-deals and TV shows from nonsense they've put on the net, this guy deserves it because the shit his dad says is so funny.

The sitcom itself stars Shatner as the crusty old curmudgeon Edison Milford "Ed" Goodson III, a is a very opinionated 72-year-old ex-Navy physician who has been divorced three times. His two adult sons, Henry and Vince, are accustomed to his unsolicited and often politically incorrect rants. When Henry, [Jonathan Die Hard 4.0 Sadowski]a struggling writer and blogger, can no longer afford his rent, he is forced to move back in with Ed, which creates new issues in their tricky father-son relationship.

The Colonel says: They're are better and worse sitcoms out there, if it wasn't for The Shat, I'd not be interested in this at all.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ***

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dredd will "keep helmet on"

During a publicity tour for Red, Karl Urban was asked about another project, namely his forthcoming Judge Dredd movie, now titled "Dredd".

It's obvious that Urban couldn't be more excited to be playing the character, revealing that he has been a long-time fan of the comics. "I first started reading Judge Dredd comics when I was probably about 15, working in a pizza parlour" he explained. "I really responded to the character and the world, so I'm pretty thrilled to be given the opportunity to take this one on."

It also seems that production is on track, with Urban adding "Things are going great - we've got a really great script and we're putting together a really fantastic cast. Pete Travis is directing and we're going to start shooting in about eight weeks in South Africa."

As for the story, it won't be based on any specific comic book plot. "It is kind of based on an amalgamation of stories" he explained. "It's a day-in-the-life of Dredd as he gets to put his rookie - Anderson - through her paces. It's going to be hardcore."
Urban was asked how his Dredd was going to avoid the mistakes made by Sylvester Stallone's flawed but entertaining 1995 version. "I read an interview that Stallone had given, and by his own admission, he said that he felt that his Judge Dredd movie was a missed opportunity. "It's not really for me to voice my opinion as to what didn't work in the movie for me, but I can say that our version is in no way related to that - it's a different beast. "It's going to be much more gritty, much more real - the environment, Mega City One, is going to feel like a real city. It's not going to feel like a Hollywood back-lot. There will be no gold cod-pieces, and we're definitely going to stay faithful to the way that the character was originally conceived and written. He'll keep helmet on."

So there you have it - a real, gritty, violent Judge Dredd movie coming soon.

Source: IGN

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Official: Star Wars in 3D!

The "space" I asked you to watch at the bottom of a post I made in January concerning the possibility of Star Wars being released in 3D has now been filled. As I predicted, within the past week, Lucasfilm Ltd. has officially announced that work had begin in earnest to rework all six episodes of the saga in the format.

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace will be the first to receive the 3D conversion for a 2012 release date and presumably, the others will follow in subsequent years. Presented by Twentieth Century Fox and Lucasfilm Ltd., the cutting edge conversion will take the immersive experience of the Star Wars saga to the next thrilling level, with Industrial Light & Magic supervising the project.

"Getting good results on a stereo conversion is a matter of taking the time and getting it right," said John Knoll, Visual Effects Supervisor for Industrial Light & Magic. "It takes a critical and artistic eye along with an incredible attention to detail to be successful. It is not something that you can rush if you want to expect good results. For Star Wars we will take our time, applying everything we know both aesthetically and technically to bring audiences a fantastic new Star Wars experience."

It had been reported that Lucas had delayed converting the Star Wars movies into 3D until there were enough screens available to screen them but considering 3D films helped boost UK box office takings by a staggering 8% it appears the time is right now [or will be in 2 years].

The Death Star trench scenes will probably look impressive

Personally, I've not seen first hand what post-processed 3D on a native 2D movie like Alice in Wonderland and Clash of the Titans looks like, but the word from my peers is that it's so far unimpressive. Considering however that ILM have worked flawless magic on screen for many years and the fact that the release of the first attempt is a couple of years away and won't be rushed, I'm prepared to give ILM the benefit of the doubt and assume that while I'm sure it won't look like Avatar or Resident Evil: Afterlife levels of technical achievement, it will be literally the best possible conversion of a movie from 2D that is humanly possible, and yes, that will be enough for me.

Source: Star / BBC News

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Colonel's Bullets - October 5th 2010

Mission: Impossible IV
Mission Impossible IV
is a go with Brad The Incredibles Bird directing Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg with Jeremy The Hurt Locker Renner, Josh Lost Holloway and Michael Nyqvist from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as Ethan Hunt's nemesis. Expect it Christmas 2011.

Warner Bros. have hired Zack 300/Watchmen Snyder - to bring Superman back to the big screen. Christopher The Dark Knight Nolan will produce, presumably after he directs his 3rd Batman movie, which he is now confirmed as doing.

Underworld 4
Kate Beckinsale
will reprise her role as Selene in Underworld 4 to begin filming in March, but comic book writer and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski has rewritten an original draft by The Shield's John Hlavin. Producers are currently seeking a director for the film, as well as an actress to play the role of Selene's daughter.

Alien prequel
Production has stalled on Ridley Scott's Alien prequel because Scott wants a $250m budget and a hard "R" rating but Fox wants to give him less money and to be able to present it to a younger audience. Let's hope Sir Ridley won't compromise and walk rather than succumb to Fox's nonsense.

Sources: AICN / IGN

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Other Guys

-Warning: Not Spoiler Free-

The buddy-cop genre has lent itself to not one but two spoof comedies this year. The first was Kevin Smith's Cop Out which was a more than amusing team out of straight-faced Bruce Willis versus loud and annoying Tracey Morgan, throw in Seann William Scott for a little while and you have a 4-Star comedy movie that, while not terribly original hits it's marks and is funny when it's supposed to be. The second movie, The Other Guys from the Anchorman/Stepbrothers team of director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell on the other hand did not meet it marks and it lacked the humour of their other efforts by embracing gags that were just too... ...silly.

Basically The Other Guys is about the B-Team of cops in an N.Y.P.D. precinct. Will Ferrell plays Allen Gamble a forensic accountant who really shouldn't have a gun, is generally a "nice-guy", he sensibly drives a Prius and is inexplicably extremely attractive to women which has resulted in marriage to Eva Mendez. His partner, in stark contrast is detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who is being disciplined for accidentally shooting a baseball star during an important game at Yankee Stadium. Much to Hoitz' chagrin, the duo are continually outshone by the precinct 'supercops', P.K. Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Christopher Danson (Dwane "The Rock" Johnson). When the supercops unfathomably take a flying leap off a 20 storey building, then Gamble and Hoitz just might have the chance to be the top dogs.

While Ferrell is an accomplished comedian whether on his own as he was on his Broadway show about George Bush or in an ensemble cast of comedians like in Anchorman and will usually get his laughs, but he needs to have a good role written for him and placed with people that he can be silly with on his level. People like John C. Reilly and Jon Heder fit this bill but people like Anna Friel and Woody Harrelson do not which is probably why Land of the Lost and Semi-Pro were such crap. I now think Mark Wahlberg should be added to that list. In The Departed, Wahlberg's unnecessarily foulmouthed and angry Sgt. Sean Dignam was as much comedy relief than anything and he got deservedly nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and a SAG award for it. During The Other Guys, he displayed much of that angry cop, frustrated with being teamed up with Ferell, who was basically a police accountant with a gun [a wooden gun], and had he been directed to maintain that throughout the entire movie it would have been awesome. Sadly, they gave him dum ass dialog about being a peacock and made him do ballet dancing.

Ferrell and Wahlberg sadly do not have as much of the charm and chemistry together that this kind of movie demands of it's leads and don't evoke the sense of "buddy cops" that Willis or Morgan did in Cop Out or Pegg and Frost in Hot Fuzz. The movie sadly does not take full advantage of the disparities between its lead characters often enough, and although the pace is excellent in the first half, it is not sustained and falls flat for this 20 minute over-long movie.

There are good bits, good enough to save this movie from a poor rating. Micheal Keaton's TLC quoting precinct Captain is sublimely comical. The "Pimp's Don't Cry" sequence is legendary. Sam Jackson and The Rock's satirical take on their own action-hero personas in the opening sequence and subsequent glorification by the public will be the most memorable element of this movie for years and would probably be enough to warrant their own prequel movie if only it wouldn't potentially be the most expensive comedy ever made. But the really good gags here would work just as well in McKay's humour anthology website as opposed to in what is designed as a cohesive movie.

The movie also has Steve Coogan, a token Waynes brother - Damon, Lt. Col. Rob Riggle USMC and Ray Stevenson with a dodgy accent.

Final Verdict: It has some truly hilarious moments that remind you of the McKay/Ferrell team's past glories but sadly this fails to rise to be counted with the best of them. Not as good a Kevin Smith's Cop Out and won't wrestle with MacGruber for the comedy crown of the year. Worth picking up on DVD if there's nothing else to see.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ***

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Stephen Joseph Cannell 1941-2010 R.I.P.

Did you ever play superheroes? Myself and my buddy did that a lot. He had a blue shirt so he was Superman and I had a red one so I was The Greatest American Hero and we'd team up. I think I got the better deal because The Greatest American Hero was a lot cool than Superman, because he was on TV every week and wasn't like a "God" and was just an ordinary schmuck without his suit. which made him more interesting. After The A-Team came along in '84, I gave up being a superhero and embraced the world of guns. I wore a plastic gun on my person at all times for years. So to say that Steven J. Cannell, writer/producer and creator of both series had an influence on my childhood is an understatement, and it is with profound sadness I must announce his death at age 69 from melanoma.

Cannell was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in a mansion in Pasadena by parents, Carolyn and Joseph, who owned a chain of furniture stores. He struggled with dyslexia in school, but graduated from the University of Oregon in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism. Cannell spent four years working with the family business before selling his first script to the Universal series It Takes a Thief in 1968. He was quickly hired by the television production branch of Universal Studios and was soon freelance writing for such other crime shows as Ironside and Columbo. Not long after he received his first full-time gig as the story editor of Jack Webb's police series Adam-12.

Cannell subsequently created or co-created nearly 40 television series, mostly crime dramas including but not limited to memorable shows like:
- 21 Jump Street where a group of young looking undercover cops infiltrated life in American high-schools and colleges to fight crime there, the show that launched Johnny Depp.
- Baa Baa Black Sheep an extremely loosely based chronicle of the exploits of real life Marine Corps fighter ace Major Gregory "Pappy" Boyington played by Robert Conrad.
- The Commish, where Michael Chiklis plays an unorthodox police commissioner who balances catching criminals with a hectic family life.
- Hardcastle and McCormick where Brian Keith as a superior court judge enlists ex-con/race car driver played by Daniel Hugh Kelly to help him catch all the criminals that got off on technicalities.
- Hunter where Fred Dryer played a physically imposing, and often rule-breaking homicide detective with the L.A.P.D.
- Renegade featuring Lorenzo Lamas as a cop framed for murder who goes on the run and becomes a bounty hunter.
- Stingray [not to be confused with Gerry Anderson's puppet nonsense] which starred Nick Mancuso as a mysterious man who "helped people in trouble" in a 1965 Corvette Sting Ray.
- Wiseguy with Ken Wahl as an undercover agent of the FBI infiltrating organised crime gangs in a series which was one of the first to present the idea of "story arcs" to audiences and focusing as much on the sometimes unpleasant consequences of the protagonist's actions as on the mechanics of the detective work.
and of course the legendary:
- The Rockford Files, starring James Garner as Los Angeles based private investigator Jim Rockford who only handles closed cases and would just as soon duck a fight as swing his fists.

One of the most memorable thing about Cannell's shows was that his production company logo was very different from his contemporaries but easily the most memorable of all. The famous logo features him typing, before throwing the sheet from his typewriter whereupon it animates to become his company logo against a black screen. It was often updated, the main differences being Cannell's clothes and the constantly growing number of awards on the man's shelves in his office. Early examples are also notable for Cannell smoking a pipe as he types. The arrangement of the logo itself has been parodied on both The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Cannell sometimes tried his hand at acting, he had a cameo as himself in an episode of Diagnosis Murder but he hilariously portrayed himself as an over-the-top producer of action TV. He also had a recurring role on his own show Renegade and more recently made appearances in the Castle TV series along with novelists James Patterson and Michael Connelly, who happen to be Castle's poker buddies. In the 2000s, Cannell turned almost all his attention to writing novels. He wrote 17, half of which featured the character of detective Shane Scully of the L.A.P.D. His 17th and final novel The Prostitute's Ball is due for release on Oct 12.

Stephen J. Cannell has left an indelible mark on the history of action, adventure and crime on the small screen and will be sorely missed but through the legacy of his abundant work he will always live on in thousands of hours of TV broadcast in many countries worldwide daily.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Tony Curtis 1925-2010 R.I.P.

Tony Curtis, easily one of the coolest actors of the 1950s and '60s best remembered for his hilarious turn in drag in Billy Wilder's classic Some Like It Hot passed away Wednesday night at 85 of cardiopulmonary arrest.

Born Bernard Schwartz on June 3, 1925, in New York, the oldest son of Jewish Hungarian immigrants. His father was a tailor, and his mother reared their three boys. His early life was a series of struggles; he said he was taunted constantly for being young, Jewish and handsome.

At 17, he enlisted in the Navy, serving aboard USS Proteus, a submarine tender in the Pacific during World War II. After leaving the service, he used the GI Bill for acting classes and soon found himself in New York doing Golden Boy at the Cherry Lane Theatre. He was noticed there by a Hollywood talent scout and, by age 23, was under contract with Universal for $75 a week. He changed his first name to Anthony and his last to Curtis. Before long, he was known simply as Tony Curtis.

In the late 50's, Curtis starred in two of his best films, The Defiant Ones the 1958 convict-escape film in which he was chained to co-star Sidney Poitier and for which he was Oscar nominated and Some Like It Hot. Curtis got fully into the role of Josephine in Some Like It Hot. Although Jack Lemmon conceded he looked a lot like his mother in female makeup, Curtis went for glamour, perfecting a sexy pout.

From 1956 to 1959 starred in a string of critical and popular hits: Trapeze, The Vikings and Operation Petticoat. His characters varied, with swashbuckling heroes as well as a smarmy press agent, and showed, when the role called for it, a genuine comic talent. And his co-stars were the biggest names in Hollywood: Burt Lancaster, Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Sidney Poitier, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood and — in The Vikings, Houdini and other films — his first wife, Janet Leigh.

In 1960, Curtis starred with Douglas in the swashbuckling Spartacus but in later years, he mostly was reduced to being a celebrity without serious portfolio and combined with his early teen-idol image and a raft of mediocre films, left him with a reputation that was lighter than many of his substantial roles during his prime otherwise would support. In 1984, after family and friends intervened to talk about his drug and alcohol problem, he admitted himself to the Betty Ford Center at Eisenhower Memorial Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Curtis also appeared frequently on television; he co-starred with Roger Moore in the TV series The Persuaders! In the early 1960s, he was immortalized as "Stony Curtis," a voice-over guest star on The Flintstones.

Throughout his life, Curtis enjoyed painting, and since the early 1980s, painted as a second career. His work commands more than $25,000 a canvas now. In the last years of his life, he concentrated on surrealist painting rather than movies.

Daughter, actress Jamie Lee Curtis, said in a statement, "My father leaves behind a legacy of great performances in movies and in his paintings and assemblages. He leaves behind children and their families who loved him and respected him and a wife and in-laws who were devoted to him. He also leaves behind fans all over the world."

Source: Sabrina Forde, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press, The Seattle Times, Wikipedia

Goldilocks' Planet's temperature "just right"... ...for LIFE!

Astronomers say they have found a planet orbiting a star a mere 20 light-years away that has the right conditions for life to exist. They are calling it the first "Goldilocks" planet, as its temperature seems to be "just right" to harbor life.

"The planet has to be the right distance from the star so it's not too hot and not too cold that liquid water can exist," says Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "And then the planet has to have the right surface gravity." The new planet, called Gliese 581-g, is different. But Butler has no direct evidence that Gliese 581-g actually has water. "What we know is that this planet exists at the right distance for liquid water, and that it has the right amount of mass to hold onto an atmosphere and to protect its liquid water on the surface," he says. "And of course, any subsequent discussion about life is purely speculative." But then he couldn't resist speculating: "That being said, on the Earth, anywhere you find liquid water you find life in abundance."

David Charbonneau, a planet hunter at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says the next step will be to try to analyze the atmosphere of this planet and other Goldilocks planets that are probably out there to see if they contain oxygen, another key chemical for life. Those findings are probably some years off, but Charbonneau predicts they will come.

Master Warrant Officer "Chatterbox" Hendrickx issued a statement from the UNETIDA Public Affairs Office in Brussels, Belgium citing that the organisation was aware of the planets in question and the "imminent threat" they posed, but that there was no cause for "immediate panic."

Source: Bruce Russell /