Welcome to a chilly weekend edition of Everyday Hero, your roundup of handpicked headlines from around the fanboy universe…
"Star Wars," conducted: What possible new frontier could be left for George Lucas and his three-decade-old space fantasy epic? Well, going loud and live with orchestral power might do the trick. Jack Malvern has the story in the U.K.: "Lucasfilm has authorised ‘Star Wars: A Musical Journey,’ a retelling of the story that will combine excerpts of the film with live orchestral accompaniment. Diehard fans may dream of Jedi Knights serenading Jabba the Hutt and C-3PO singing ‘Don’t cry for me, R2-D2′ but they are likely to be disappointed. Producers for the show, which will have its world premiere in Britain, emphasised that although actors would be used to narrate the story, it would not be a stage musical. The production, which condenses more than 13 hours of film into 90 minutes, will be more like a classical music concert performed in front of a cinema screen, 27m (90ft) wide. The audience at the 17,000-seat O2 Arena in southeast London will watch key scenes from the film as 86 musicians from the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra play extracts from John Williams’s score. The composer has reworked the music for the show, which will take place on April 10. Other shows may follow, depending on demand. Another Planet, the company that is producing the show, said that the biggest challenge faced by Lucasfilm was condensing the footage so that the story remained intelligible. Spencer Churchill, a producer, said that the running order of the scenes was still being finalised. ‘We’ve worked out most of it,’ he said. ‘We originally thought it would be a chronological telling of the six films . . . but it is not as precise as that.’ He declined to say which scenes had been cut, but insisted that most fans’ favourite moments had been preserved. ‘Because there is so much to choose from there will be Star Wars fans out there who will say, ‘How come that wasn’t in there?’ But overall I think Lucasfilm has done a brilliant job.’ " [Times of London]…ALSO: I did a story on the show’s producer, Another Planet, back in 2003 when the San Francisco company launched as a maverick force in the concert industry. You can read that story here.
Not the droids you’re looking for: Ah, what’s better than debating a photo gallery "best of" list? The staff over at Entertainment Weekly have handed us a doozy with the gallery called "The Sci-Fi 25: The Genre’s Best Since 1982" which is a combo list of television shows and films. Given the parameters, the EW list is for the most part quite good, and has some nice inclusions such as "Brazil" and "V," the great 1983 NBC mini-series. My knee-jerk top four — 1. "Blade Runner," 2. the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica," 3. "The X-Files," and 4. "The Matrix" — ended up being their top four as well (albeit in a completely different order) so it’s hard to complain about that. But I think they put "Star Trek: The Next Generation" too low at No. 8; the show has been gone for a while now but let’s not forget how truly great (and game-changing) that series was at its peak. I am also a big fan of "Children of Men," and it would be much higher than No. 14 on my list. I also seem to be the only person in the world who finds no charm left in "Back to the Future," which would not make my Top 30 much less than land at No. 12, as it did on the EW list. Some of the other EW choices are just silly or, more likely, purposely provocative. I mean, "Futurama," "Starship Troopers" and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (the 2003-05 series) all make it in a Top 25 that has no room for "Twelve Monkeys," "War of the Worlds," "A Scanner Darkly," "Independence Day," "Jurassic Park," "The Fifth Element," "Predator," "Men in Black," "RoboCop," "Return of the Jedi," "Artificial Intelligence: A.I." or "Minority Report"? Come on, seriously? Wow. If "Futurama" and "Clone Wars" were included to give representation to animation, why not go instead with the landmark films "WALL-E," "The Iron Giant" or "Akira"? Looking at the list, I’d also argue that it’s artificially heavy on television entries (11 in total). Does "Heroes," which was not that great for that long, really doesn’t deserve its spot on the EW list ahead of those films I mentioned above? Ok, I’m ready: Tell me how wrong I am and how right you are. That is, after all, half the fun of making these lists, right?
Next "Twilight" director named: One of our Hero Complex contributors, Patrick Kevin Day, has an update on the "Twilight" franchise. "It’s official: Chris Weitz is taking over the director’s chair for the ‘Twilight’ sequel ‘New Moon.’ ‘Twilight’ author Stephenie Meyer confirmed the news on her official website Saturday morning in a post designed to calm the rising anguish among fans who loved the first film adaptation. After bidding a fond farewell to ‘Twilight’ director Catherine Hardwicke, Meyer went on to praise Weitz and to let fans know that ‘torches and pitchforks are not going to be necessary.’ On the one hand, Weitz has shown his skill at adapting popular modern novels for the screen — ‘About a Boy,’ from the Nick Hornby novel, won Weitz and co-scripters Paul Weitz and Peter Hedges an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay. On the other hand, Weitz also directed last year’s ‘The Golden Compass,’ which was an expensive mess that failed to capture the fan base of the books. Weitz seems to be very aware of the tricky situation he’s stepping into and does his best to let fans know that he’s no dummy when it comes to making sure he gives them what they want to see. ‘I promise to remain responsive to your hopes and fears,’ he writes in a letter that Meyer includes in her post." [Entertainment News and Buzz blog, Los Angeles Times]
Sucking the life out of "Near Dark": Remember when cynical observers said "True Blood" was too similar to "Twilight"? It looks like the backers of another vampire project, a remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s "Near Dark," are closing the coffin on their plans because they fear the same critique. Producer Brad Fuller explains to reporter Chris Hewitt: "’Near Dark’ is probably not going to happen….I think that ‘Twilight’ was the same type of thing we were going for, although ‘Near Dark’ was a much darker, sexier, rated-R version of that. But I’m concerned that, conceptually, that ‘Near Dark’ and ‘Twilight’ are too similar in terms of a vampire movie. For now, that movie is on hold.’ Now here’s something new –- usually, when a movie is a surprise hit, you can’t move in Hollywood without bumping into a similar project designed to cash in. It’s not often when the opposite occurs, and a hit movie causes another in development to stall. But that seems to be the case with the remake of Bigelow’s 1987 vampire western, in which a young farmer (Adrian Pasdar) falls in love with a girl (Jenny Wright), only to find that she’s part of a family of utterly demented vampires, played by half the cast of ‘Aliens.’ ‘The concept of "one person’s a vampire, the other person isn’t and they’re in love," with the success of that film, we would not measure up,’ continued Fuller. ‘It’s not the right time to make that.’ " [Empire]
An illegal Verne venture: Here’s a true-crime tale with a bit of a sci-fi flavor. In Columbia, the man they call Captain Nemo is behind bars; Los Angeles Times writer Chris Kraul reports from Tumaco: "Squat, bull-necked and sullen-looking, Enrique Portocarrero hardly seems a dashing character out of a Jules Verne science fiction novel. But law enforcement officers here have dubbed him ‘Captain Nemo,’ after the dark genius of ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.’ They say the 45-year-old has designed and built as many as 20 fiberglass submarines, strange vessels with the look of sea creatures, for drug traffickers to haul cocaine from this area of southern Colombia to Central America and Mexico. Administrative Security officials allege that Portocarrero helped invent ‘semi-submersibles,’ as the narco-vessels are called, because they don’t dive and resurface like true submarines, but cruise just below the surface…Portocarrero’s craft are difficult for counter-narcotics officials to detect on the open seas because their tiny wake creates a negligible radar ‘footprint.’ Also, authorities say, the exhaust is released through tubing below the surface, frustrating patrol aircraft’s heat-sensing equipment. ‘He knew the rudiments of boat design, but probably had help from a naval engineer along the way,’ Borrero said. Portocarrero developed a signature design, police say: a sleek V-shaped hull; a sturdy keel, which is the boat’s backbone; and an exhaust system that makes the boat look like a monster from the deep." [Los Angeles Times]
ON THIS DATE: Lee Remick was born on this day in Quincy, Mass., in 1935 and would go to a long and distinguished career (she was in the sublime "Face in the Crowd" as well as "Anatomy of a Murder," two of my faves), but the late actress will forever be best known to genre fans for her role in the oh-so-creepy 1976 classic "The Omen"…. Also, 532 years ago this month, Vlad III the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia, died although his name still remains alive (or, um, undead?) because he inspired Bram Stoker’s signature character, Dracula… Also, on this day in 1999, Charles M. Schulz announced his retirement from the most famous comics strip of them all, "Peanuts"….So with a nod to history, let’s all go out today and buy a scraggly Christmas tree while keeping our eye open for dark magic.
– Geoff Boucher
Credits: "Star Wars" image courtesy of Lucasfilm. Chris Weitz photo courtesy of Rahav Segev/For The Times. "Near Dark" image courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. Chris Kraul/Los Angeles Times took the photograph of a Columbian navy official inside the seized narco-submersible. Portrait of Vlad III, circa 1560, by unknown artist.