Posted by Adam Wills
He was the sci-fi fan to beat all sci-fi fans. In fact he coined the term “sci-fi,” in addition to discovering Ray Bradbury.
I was hard at work this afternoon when I got a text-message that Forrest J. Ackerman had died on Thursday. As a fellow LASFS member it’s sad to lose one of the founders. But we can take solace in the fact that he will always be with us; the club’s unofficial motto: “Death does not release you.”
Here’s John Rogers’ obit from the Associated Press:
LOS ANGELES – Forrest J Ackerman, the sometime actor, literary agent, magazine editor and full-time bon vivant who discovered author Ray Bradbury and was widely credited with coining the term “sci-fi,” has died. He was 92.
Ackerman died Thursday of heart failure at his Los Angeles home, said Kevin Burns, head of Prometheus Entertainment and a trustee of Ackerman’s estate.
Although only marginally known to readers of mainstream literature, Ackerman was legendary in science-fiction circles as the founding editor of the pulp magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. He was also the owner of a huge private collection of science-fiction movie and literary memorabilia that for years filled every nook and cranny of a hillside mansion overlooking Los Angeles.
“He became the Pied Piper, the spiritual leader, of everything science fiction, fantasy and horror,” Burns said Friday.
Every Saturday morning that he was home, Ackerman would open up the house to anyone who wanted to view his treasures. He sold some pieces and gave others away when he moved to a smaller house in 2002, but he continued to let people visit him every Saturday for as long as his health permitted.
“My wife used to say, ‘How can you let strangers into our home?’ But what’s the point of having a collection like this if you can’t let people enjoy it?” an exuberant Ackerman told The Associated Press as he conducted a spirited tour of the mansion on his 85th birthday.
His collection once included more than 50,000 books, thousands of science-fiction magazines and such items as Bela Lugosi’s cape from the 1931 film “Dracula.”
His greatest achievement, however, was likely discovering Bradbury, author of the literary classics “Fahrenheit 451″ and “The Martian Chronicles.” Ackerman had placed a flyer in a Los Angeles bookstore for a science-fiction club he was founding and a teenage Bradbury showed up.
Later, Ackerman gave Bradbury the money to start his own science-fiction magazine, Futuria Fantasia, and paid the author’s way to New York for an authors meeting that Bradbury said helped launch his career.
“I hadn’t published yet, and I met a lot of these people who encouraged me and helped me get my career started, and that was all because of Forry Ackerman,” the author told the AP in 2005.
Later, as a literary agent, Ackerman represented Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and numerous other science-fiction writers.
He said the term “sci-fi” came to him in 1954 when he was listening to a car radio and heard an announcer mention the word “hi-fi.”
“My dear wife said, ‘Forget it, Forry, it will never catch on,’” he recalled.
Soon he was using it in Famous Monsters of Filmland, the magazine he helped found in 1958 and edited for 25 years.
Ackerman himself appeared in numerous films over the years, usually in bit parts. His credits include “Queen of Blood,” “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” “Amazon Women on the Moon,” “Vampirella,” “Transylvania Twist,” “The Howling” and the Michael Jackson “Thriller” video. More recently, he appeared in 2007’s “The Dead Undead” and 2006’s “The Boneyard Collection.”
Ackerman returned briefly to Famous Monsters of Filmland in the 1990s, but he quickly fell out with the publisher over creative differences. He sued and was awarded a judgment of more than $375,000.
Forrest James Ackerman was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 24, 1916. He fell in love with science-fiction, he once said, when he was 9 years old and saw a magazine called Amazing Stories. He would hold onto that publication for the rest of his life.
Ackerman, who had no children, was preceded in death by his wife, Wendayne.
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November 8, 2008 | 10:19 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Brett Ratner, who was recently profiled in The Jewish Journal, has turned down an opportunity to direct the fourth “Beverly Hills Cop” installment in favor of reviving the 1980s Arnold Schwarzenegger film franchise, “Conan,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
By the end of Friday, Ratner had made his choice. He has committed to take on literature’s most famous barbarian and is in final negotiations to helm the picture, which is aiming for a release in early 2010. Eddie Murphy and the Pointer Sisters will have to wait.
Ratner jived to the “Conan” script by Gersh-repped Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly, who looked to Robert E. Howard’s original pulp stories of the 1930s to create their take on the character. The writers are doing a quick polish to incorporate some of Ratner’s ideas.
Joe Gatta and Avi Lerner of Millennium Films are producing, along with Paradox Entertainment president and CEO Fredrik Malmberg.
The film will be a Conan origin story, and Millennium and Lionsgate expects it to become an R-rated, big-budget franchise (think boobs and blood). Preproduction is under way in Bulgaria.
Considering those who liked the cartoonish/video-game-style action of the third “X-Men” film are roughly the same audience that would like the Schwarzenegger “Conan” films, this Hollywood match will likely destroy box-office records in 2010.
October 31, 2008 | 5:43 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
First The Shat slammed J.J. Abrams for not including him in the next “Star Trek” film, and now he’s released a video through his Shatner Project claiming he wasn’t invited to George Takei’s wedding (“Star Trek” castmates Nichelle Nicols was maid of honor and Walter Koenig was best man, and even Leonard Nimoy attended the ceremony.) In the video, the Captain says he “feels badly” for Takei because the “poor man” suffers from a “psychosis,” and mocks his co-star coming out so late in life.
Shatner says he doesn’t know Takei very well, but then pulls from various sources in an effort to prove his co-star has some kind of jealous actor’s vendetta against him for hogging the spotlight so many years ago. Why is The Shat getting so worked up if he barely knew the man? It’s not like he’s 12-year-old girl who didn’t get invited to a friend’s bat mitzvah. But he comes across that way—so jealous, so jilted…
“You’d think he’d have this epiphany and say, ‘God, I hope that…’—because he and I don’t have many years left in this world ‘—…I wish him well. I’m so happy that I wish him well.’ But instead, what he does is make this big deal about not inviting me to his wedding.
“If I was such a terrible force in his life, even 40 some odd years later – because I haven’t seen him – that I affect his marriage, where he has to isolate it and say…. What kind of sickness is going on the man?
“There must be something else inside George that’s festering and makes him so unhappy that he takes it out on me, in effect a total stranger.
“Why would he go out of his way to denigrate me? It’s sad that the man can’t find enough peace in his life, to either say … be positive and say, I forgive him for whatever those hurts were, or shut up about it. It’s sad. I feel nothing but pity for him.”
Calling it all “silliness,” Takei said this week that Shatner did get an invitation, but that he never responded.
Takei extended another invitation to The Shat this week: support the “No on 8” campaign.
No word yet on whether Shatner has sent in his RSVP.
When the LA Times Dish Rag caught up with Nimoy and The Shat at an L.A. Philharmonic event and asked about Prop 8 earlier this month, here’s how it went down…
Nimoy: “Absolutely NO on Prop 8 because I believe that gay people have every right to get married and share their lives. George and Brad have been together for many years. They have every right to be together in any way they choose. Prop 8 is completely unjust.”
Shatner: “That’s not about music. That has a dissident sound to it.”
October 4, 2008 | 11:37 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
What a far cry the 2008 E for All is compared to last year, which was already a shadow of the original E3 trade show. (E for All was spun off from E3 to give the public a chance to play with upcoming games, and now game development news comes out of E3 Media and Business Summit, along with the Leipzig Games Convention and the Tokyo Game Show.)
E for All 2008, which was organized by IDG, pulled in EA, Ubisoft and Microsoft to the Los Angeles Convention Center. But noticeably absent at the Oct. 3-5 event were Nintendo, Sony, THQ, Activision Blizzard (which has BlizzCon next weekend), to name a few.
Although a large crowd waited to get into the L.A. Convention Center on Friday morning, the numbers over the weekend didn’t exactly overwhelm the convention floor. E for All organizers said last year’s event drew 18,000 attendees. And while exact numbers for this year have not yet been made available (GeekHeeb was given the runaround when they were requested), few should expect a high score.
The U.S. finals of the World Cyber Games were a draw and it was cool to watch Steve Wiebe (one of the featured subjects in the 2007 documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters”) attempt to break the world record on the classic “Donkey Kong” arcade game at the Allgames.com booth. But Samsung products, Intel computers, DeVry, Gamer Grub, energy drinks and Fatal1ty products are not why people paid $35 (or $60 for two days, or $75 for all three) to get in. They wanted to check out upcoming games.
Target’s “Guitar Hero World Tour” display dominated the expo, but the retailer gave short shrift to “Star Wars” fans by setting up one perfunctory XBox to play “The Force Unleashed.” Other games that drew eyes—and sore thumbs—included “Gears of War 2” (great display in a dark area with ammo boxes, camouflage and moody red lighting), “Lego Batman” and “Mercenaries 2: World In Flames.” But most of the major games featured at the expo have already been released, leaving little for people to actually preview.
IndieCade to the rescue!
The Santa Monica-based group—founded by Stephanie Barish, former producer/director of multimedia publications and creative director of Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation— organizes international events to showcase independent games and their developers.
Some of the games featured at the IndieCade booth this year included:
• PMOG (The Passively Multiplayer Online Game)
• “Super Energy Apocalypse” (learn about sustainable energy use while fighting zombies)
October 3, 2008 | 7:00 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
This week, The Shat:
• is slated to voice Santa in a messed-up animated teleflick that combines quantum mechanics and X-mas cheer. Should be out this December. (MTV)
• is gaining weight because he keeps eating at his favorite Italian restaurant. (Cinemablend) Some fanish friends fessed up they’ve seen him at Café Firenze in Moorpark, which happens to be owned by Top Chef season 5 contestant Fabio, who also works as The Shat’s private chef. Might have to Trek on by…
October 1, 2008 | 10:36 am
Posted by Adam Wills
The city of Cleveland declared the childhood home of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel to be a landmark in 1986, but the place is falling apart 22 years later. An online auction that ended Tuesday has raised more than $100,000, double the amount needed to fix up the Man of Steel’s birthplace.
Siegel and artist Joe Shuster created the character together more than 70 years ago in the Glenville neighborhood house, which is now owned by Jefferson Gray, who wasn’t aware of its significance when he bought it.
“This was easily the most humbling spectacular project I’ve ever been part of, and showed just how much people care about this character and why today Superman still matters,” said novelist Brad Meltzer, who organized the auction.
Meltzer said $101,744 was raised in the month-long sale of art, memorabilia and other donated goods, more than double the $50,000 goal. The extra money will allow organizers to fix up not just the outside but also the inside of the Cleveland house where an elderly couple now live.
Meltzer, who discovered the deteriorating house while researching a novel, said at first he wasn’t sure people would care about restoring the red-and-blue house where the superhero who wears the red-and-blue suit was dreamed up in 1932.
But the response has been overwhelming.
“The house where Google was created is saved. The farm where Hewlett-Packard was founded is preserved. We protected the house where Dr. Seuss lived, where Elvis lived,” noted Meltzer. “So the idea that Superman’s house was just rotting away struck everyone as inherently wrong.”
Meltzer, who offered the naming rights to a character in his next novel as part of the auction, takes no credit for saving the home, saying loyal fans of the comic book hero came to Superman’s rescue.
“We’re all Clark Kent. We all know what it is like to be boring and ordinary and we all want to be able to rip open our shirt and do something beyond ourselves. That’s what happened here. Ordinary people made a difference.” (Reuters)
September 25, 2008 | 1:05 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Two planets orbiting a sun-like star some 300 light-years from Earth suffered a violent collision.
“It’s as if Earth and Venus collided with each other,” said Benjamin Zuckerman, UCLA professor of physics and astronomy and a co-author on the paper. “Astronomers have never seen anything like this before. Apparently, major catastrophic collisions can take place in a fully mature planetary system.”
The report will appear in the December issue of the Astrophysical Journal, a publication of the American Astronomical Society.
Zuckerman, along with researchers from Tennessee State University (TSU) and the California Institute of Technology were studying a star known as BD+20 307, which is surrounded by a shocking 1 million times more dust than is orbiting our sun. The star is located in the constellation Aries.
“If any life was present on either planet, the massive collision would have wiped out everything in a matter of minutes — the ultimate extinction event,” said co-author Gregory Henry, an astronomer at TSU. “A massive disk of infrared-emitting dust circling the star provides silent testimony to this sad fate.”
Carnegie Institution of Washington astronomer Alycia Weinberger announced in the May 20, 2008, issue of the Astrophysical Journal that BD+20 307 is actually a close binary star — two stars orbiting around their common center of mass.
“The planetary collision in BD+20 307 was not observed directly but rather was inferred from the extraordinary quantity of dust particles that orbit the binary pair at about the same distance as Earth and Venus are from our sun,” Henry said. “If this dust does indeed point to the presence of terrestrial planets, then this represents the first known example of planets of any mass in orbit around a close binary star.”
The astronomers believe the collision took place within the past few hundred thousand years and perhaps much more recently.
August 5, 2008 | 8:52 pm
Posted by Adam Wills
Rachel Goldberg, whose camera was used to snap an image of the Montauk Monster, spoke with GeekHeeb and confirmed a Fox News report that the creature is now in the possession of Montauk resident Paul Davis.
Eric Olsen, a real estate agent and surfer, had originally removed the Montauk Monster from the beach last week, according to the East Hampton Star, which reported that he’d left the rotting carcass in the woods near a friend’s house to decompose. Goldberg says the body has since decomposed and that it’s basically a skeleton at this point.
Olsen had planned to sell the bones, but when he returned to the woods Sunday the mystery monster’s carcass was gone.
“He wants to make some money on it,” Goldberg said of Davis.
She echoes the statements made by her friend Jenna Hewitt, who took the photo, that it’s probably a raccoon.
But she’s still hedging her bets that it could be something else: “The Plum Island thing is not a total departure. I don’t know … maybe some unidentified deep-sea creature,” she said.