Posted by Adam Wills
The new trailer is up for “Wolfman,” a remake of the 1941 classic due out February 12. It features intense action, some gorgeous period sets and lycanthrope-a-rific transformations. But if you think it looks a little goyishe (Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt…), you’re missing all the Jewish subtext, my friend. (And Gene Simmons providing the Wolfman’s howls.)
Here’s Jeremy Wexler on the Jewish aspects of the werewolf:
[The] modern-day werewolf ... is largely a metaphor for being Jewish in the 20th century. Consider the modern werewolf narrative: A hairy young outsider becomes saddled with an identity he doesn’t want or particularly like, the meaning of which is told to him by an old European lady speaking a lot of mumbo jumbo. He is in love with a blonde girl who loves him back, but their love is doomed. Eventually he gets chased and killed by a bunch of peasants with pitchforks and torches. And, oh, yes, he feasts on human blood, but it’s not his fault.
The parallels between Jewish ideas of how non-Jews perceived us and the lifecycle of the werewolf aren’t surprising, considering that Jews effectively created the modern werewolf.
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October 21, 2009 | 10:14 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Joseph Wiseman, the first actor to play a Bond villain on the big screen, died on Monday at his home in Manhattan. He was 91.
Wiseman, a Canadian Jewish stage and screen actor who had roles in “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” “The Night They Raided Minskys” and “Judgment at Nuremberg,” will – much to his frustration when he was alive – always best be remembered as the titular Eurasian evil genius opposite Sean Connery in “Dr. No” (1962).
From the L.A. Times:
The diabolical Dr. No was a formidable foe.
As Los Angeles Times movie critic Philip K. Scheuer put it: “Out pfui-ing Fu Manchu, Dr. No reveals himself to be the head of a vast underworld organization called SPECTER and dedicated to the destruction and domination of mankind. And, by gad, he has the equipment to pull it off.”
Wiseman hadn’t an inkling that he was participating in the launch of what became one of the most successful movie franchises of all time.
“I had no idea it would achieve the success it did,” he told The Times in 1992 with a laugh. “As far as I was concerned, I thought it might be just another grade-B Charlie Chan mystery.”
Although Wiseman was part of movie history, his daughter said he viewed “Dr. No” with “great disdain.”
“He was horrified in later life because that’s what he was remembered for,” she said. “Stage acting was what he wanted to be remembered for.”
October 16, 2009 | 11:26 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Takei has said he is willing to build bridges with his former co-star as long as his friend, radio presenter Howard Stern, is there to mediate.
The row between the actors who played Captain James T Kirk and Lt Hikaru Sulu began a year ago, when Shatner posted a video on his website lashing out at Takei for not inviting him to his wedding to longtime partner Brad Altman.
In the video Shatner said: “It’s so patently obvious that there is a psychosis there.
“I don’t know what his original thing about me was.”
Shatner also attacked Takei’s decision to announce he was gay later in life, saying: “Who cares? Be gay. Don’t be gay.”
Takei maintains invites were sent out to all the main surviving cast, including Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols.
According to Takei, no one was surprised Shatner didn’t show.
“Bill is an energetic guy who likes to be in the spotlight,” said Takei.
“However, strangely, when any of us - the rest of us invite him to things we are doing; throwing a party or one of us are getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or anything that we want to celebrate - birthdays - we’re there to celebrate, congratulate and enjoy each other - except Bill.
“Bill’s never shown up. It’s very strange because he enjoys the limelight and yet he doesn’t like the limelight to be shared with colleagues from Star Trek.”
So, Takei says he and Altman “were absolutely baffled about” the attack.
Until, he says, “about two weeks after we saw that rant on the internet, we were driving down Sunset Blvd and here’s this huge billboard that reads: William Shatner in the talk show Raw Nerves. He needed publicity.”
Since then Takei says he has been invited to talk things through on Shatner’s show, but has declined.
The actor says he thinks he’s found what he calls “neutral” ground for them to settle their dispute - Howard Stern’s Sirius Satellite Radio show, where Takei is a frequent guest.
He says Stern has offered to mediate.
“If Bill accepts, and I would applaud his balls if he accepts and joins me in that kind of discussion with Howard mediating as an interlocutor, I said, ‘I’d be happy to do that’.”
October 16, 2009 | 6:56 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Challenging Wired, Geek Monthly, io9 and variety of other print magazines, blogs and Web sites serving as chroniclers of all things geek, Mandalay entertainment chair Peter Guber, along with Wizard founder Gareb Shamus and Peter Levin announced the launch of a daily e-mail blast—GeekChicDaily—timed with the opening of Wizard’s Big Apple Comic Con. GeekChic will cover video games, technology, comics, collectibles, television and film.
Events like Comic-Con have proved that fanboys are a captive audience and often the first to feverishly follow the latest projects Hollywood has to offer.
Gareb Shamus, the owner of five major Comic-Con conventions and Wizard magazine, has now paired up with Mandalay Entertainment’s Peter Guber and digital entertainment entrepreneur Peter Levin to court that crowd and launch daily newsletter GeekChicDaily.
The free email blast and accompanying website, which officially bows today, timed with the start of Comic-Con in Gotham, aims to serve as a DailyCandy for the nerd herd and deliver short articles on new movies, TV shows, toys, videogames, comicbooks, Web sites and gadgetry, as well as interviews with the creators behind them.
Scott Gramling, former editor-in-chief of FHM and Wizard magazines, is GeekChicDaily’s editor in chief.
Guber and his Mandalay Corporate Enterprises, Japan’s largest talent agency and content producer Kyoraku Yoshimoto Holdings, and Ken Wegner, prexy of Jel Sert Co. (behind Fla-Vor-Ice), are investors.
Levin, who brokered the deal to sell Nikki Finke’s blog DeadlineHollywoodDaily to Mail.com, was instrumental in lining up investors for GeekChicDaily. He was an early investor in Gamespy Industries, an operator of videogame-related websites, and serves as an adviser to Habbo, an online social networking site for kids, and in-game ad agency Double Fusion.
Shamus has experience in launching newsletters, founding Wizard mag in the format 20 years ago.
He also publishes ToyFare and FunFare magazines and owns the Big Apple, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto and Anaheim Comic-Con confabs through Wizard Entertainment.
A number of websites have gone after geeks but typically focus on one sector of the entertainment biz.
By focusing on all areas, GeekChicDaily’s founders believe they can attract a demo that advertisers are hungry to reach with their marketing messages. The site should especially appeal to Hollywood’s studios and TV networks, who have upped their presence at fan conventions around the country to give first looks at their movies and TV shows in hopes of generating positive word-of-mouth.
“We think (GeekChicDaily) is a wanted commodity for an underserved constituency,” Levin said. “We want to give them stuff they would love to read but don’t want to spend the time searching for.”
The focused newsletter concept has been successful for DailyCandy, which has signed 3 million subscribers since it launched in 2000, with brief pieces on shopping, products and dining. Comcast paid $125 million to buy the venture in 2008.
“GeekChicDaily captures the passion and thirst these hardcore fans have for being the first to know what is cool before the rest of the world finds out,” Guber said. “My professional passion is all about storytelling; GeekChicDaily will allow us to tell pop culture stories in the most compelling way possible.”
October 13, 2009 | 10:37 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Greg Grunberg confirmed via Twitter this afternoon that someone is going to die on “Heroes,” and it’ll be big:
“Yes, one of the main characters is getting killed off for realzies!! Sad but true. Really sad. Stay tuned.”
Rumors say it’s a major male character, and no one gave the actor the heads up that he’d be out of a job. Ouch.
Kristin Dos Santos at E! reported on the upcoming death this morning, saying it’s one of the original male characters:
Sources over on NBC’s Heroes confirm to me that a major death is in the works, and this is not one that will go unnoticed by even the most casual fan.
It is huge.
So who is it?
Well, you know how these things go…We can’t come right out and name any names. (Unless someone can hook me up right quick with the Witness Protection Program?)
However, I will tell you that this leading character is a male ... and he is one of the original cast.
I get that there’s no easy way to lay someone off, but, come on, this is ridiculous: A male series regular on a one-hour drama — a onetime ratings powerhouse — learned that he was out of a job only after reading his character’s death scene in the script!
According to my mole, the popular and well-respected leading man — who tapes his final scenes this week — was blindsided not just by his ouster, but by the tacky way in which it was handled. “He was hurt that the producers didn’t tell him first,” says the source. “He deserved better.”
The real surprise is that, well, anyone was surprised at all. The actors on said show have long been frustrated by the lack of communication coming from the front office. Still, as the insider points out, “This was low even for them.”
October 12, 2009 | 9:33 am
Posted by Adam Wills
Last week’s video of “Robot Chicken” creator Seth Green freaking out on camera after getting mugged and a second video purporting to be Green getting mugged in a parking lot has many wondering whether this YouTube sensation is real or a hoax.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Andrew Wallenstein has a theory:
While sources told us this is a staged stunt, the continuation of the hoax begs the question: What’s this all about, anyway?
Here’s a theory: These video are an elaborate viral marketing campaign for Butterfinger. Green signed on as spokesman for the Nestle candy bar just last month. What little is known about Butterfinger’s future creative direction going forward, as spelled out in this press release, is the brand’s intent on reviving the tagline made famous by Green’s predecessor, Bart Simpson: “Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger.” The product was already treated to an online campaign, ProtectYourButterfingerBar.com.
Hmmm, all this talk about “laying a finger” and protecting the bar. Could it be that videos about a pitchman being attacked is a new spin on a familiar campaign? Strange as it may sound to trot out videos that don’t feature the product being promoted, it’s exactly that kind of anti-ad that’s likely to lure Gen Y-ers in, presumably before somehow working Butterfinger into some future installment of this intriguing series.
Just you wait. Either we’ll be eating crow or crispy, crunchy, peanut-buttery chocolate real soon.
October 12, 2009 | 5:56 am
Posted by Adam Wills
“X-Men” and “X2” director Bryan Singer—who is already attached to an Excalibur remake and a Battlestar Galactica feature—is talking with Fox about a possible “X-Men” return, according to AP/Hollywood Reporter:
“I’m still looking to possibly returning to the ‘X-Men’ franchise. I’ve been talking to Fox about it,” Singer said at a talk at South Korea’s Pusan International Film Festival.
“I love Hugh Jackman. I love the cast,” he said, referring to the Australian actor who plays Wolverine.
Singer said he enjoyed making science fiction and fantasy movies because they allowed him to discuss serious issues through entertainment. He said the “X-Men” series, which follows a group of mutants with superpowers who struggle to fit in with humans, is about tolerance and social structures.
He said he likes to “trick audiences into thinking they’re seeing fireworks, but they’re learning about themselves and listening to what I have to say.”
“The excitement about working in science fiction and fantasy is—the stories, if they are good, are about the human condition,” Singer said.
October 5, 2009 | 2:12 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Lois Griffin – a Jew?
That’s the revelation from last night’s episode of “Family Guy” (titled “Family Goy”), which included Stewie in payot and a kippah reciting a “L’hadlik Ner” blessing during a Passover seder (followed by Mola Ram’s prayer from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” before he removes Meg’s heart).
This second episode of the season, written by Mark Hentemann, begins with a geektastic “Super Friends” parody opener and then meanders through some flat gags about Peter falling in love with a Kathy Ireland cutout before moving on to a mostly sharp-witted Jewish plot. As can happen in “Family Guy,” the script’s humor takes a few mean-spirited, dark turns, including one gag that only a white supremacist could love –- shooting at Jews.
The Jewish plotline begins when a breast cancer scare leads Lois (voiced by Jewish actress Alex Borstein) to discover that her mother, Barbara Pewterschmidt, is a Holocaust survivor who gave up her Judaism to help her husband get into country clubs (“It was the right thing to do, dear,” Mrs. Pewterschmidt says).
“So Grandma Hebrewberg is actually Jewish?!” Lois asks.
“Yes, when she moved to America, her family changed their name. It was originally Hebrewbergmoneygrabber,” her mother says.
“Family Goy” includes the brief return of Jewish accountant Max Weinstein, the titular character from the episode “When You Wish Upon a Weinstein,” who reassures Lois she doesn’t need to change her life. (Another returning “Weinstein” character: the congregational rabbi voiced by Ben Stein.)
Peter embraces his wife’s Jewish heritage—donning a tallit, kippah and Star of David necklace (chest hair included), and changing his name to “Chhhhhhhh.” When Lois objects, Peter complains, “Leave it to a Jew to take all the fun out of being a Jew.” His enrolling the kids in day school is good for a few laughs, along with his pushing Lois to dress frum in the bedroom to turn him on and, wanting to be humiliated, says, “Tell me I don’t earn as much as your friend’s husband.”
The episode’s conflict is introduced via the ghost of Francis Griffin, Peter’s father, who chastises him for forsaking his Catholic beliefs. Peter immediately shuns his wife (“It’s the only religion with the word ‘ew’ in it”) and crucifies her on a makeshift cross made from Stewie’s crib. The episode takes a truly tasteless turn when Peter emulates Amon Leopold Göth, the Plaszów concentration camp commandant featured in “Schindler’s List,” sitting shirtless in his bedroom window with a rifle aimed at his wife, shooting at her and the town’s other well-known Jew, Mort. After Lois apologizes for Peter, Mort responds with, “No problem, Lois. That’s just how people say hello to me.” The bit crosses the line and hits with the same thud as the protracted scene from the episode “Long John Peter,” in which Peter is offered up as the real killer of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson and O.J. is portrayed as the couple’s horrified best friend.
As Lois and Peter square off over whether the family will celebrate Passover or Easter, the resolution pulls in Jesus—a semi-regular character on the show—to reach an interfaith bridge of understanding, which seems to offer tepid support for Judeo-Christian belief and indulges mildly funny slights against Islam and faith in general.
My hope is that the series will roast the familial Jewish themes introduced in “Family Goy,” rather than continuing on the Jews-as-targets route. The show has regularly featured some inspiring Jewish gags – both in good taste and bad. And while highbrow community in-jokes would be better received by Jewish viewers, the likely reality is the Holocaust humor will continue to dominate. “Family Guy” voice actor Seth Green—also a Jew—once shared with me something Borstein told him prior to the launch of “Robot Chicken”: “The moment you put a bunch of Jewish writers in a room, you’re going to get a ton of Hitler jokes.”