Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Video of Lego Recreation of World Cup Germany Defeat of England

There's a story about the German teenager who makes these Lego recreations at The Local.

New Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Trailer

This is looking good:

Rifftrax Video Preview of Star Wars IV: A New Hope

The boys at Rifftrax have some fun with a classic scene from Star Wars. Just a little something to help you through the middle of the week.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #133, August 1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Anyway?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a landmark film of the late 1980s, wonderfully mixing live-action with animation. It also was eyebrow-raising because of the use of new and classic cartoon characters – an historic meeting of Warner Brothers and Disney characters, for example. No, I will never work with a duck with a speech impediment, either.

True fact: Bob Hoskins, the star of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was the actor on whom German novelist Cornelia Funke based her detective in her great best-selling young adult novel The Thief Lord.

Starlog #133
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

If you were looking for a new vocation, you could do worse than follow this classified ad on page 71: “CRIME FIGHTERS AMERICA NEEDS PEOPLE, all areas. Receive certificate, procedures, ID, life enrollment, fight crime. Send $3 self-stamped envelope, (4x8) to ...”

Photo caption that isn’t appreciably less humorous when you see the photo: “Running into marauding Martians would drive anyone crazy, which may be why Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson) will be fighting the new War of the Worlds from an insane asylum.”

The rundown: Cover boys Bob Hoskins and Roger Rabbit re-enact for the camera the origins of their friendship. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn gives career advice; Communications letters include an apology from the production company of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future about misidentified characters in some photos published in the magazine, plus readers comment on that TV series, they offer feedback on Beauty and the Beast, Richard Donner’s assistant passes along his thanks for an item in #126 about broadcasting an uncut version of Ladyhawke, and more; and David McDonnell’s Medialog reports the latest genre media news headlines, including a note that Len Wein and Berni Wrightson’s monster hero will make another big-screen appearance in The Return of the Swamp Thing.

War of the Worlds has been seen in print, on radio, on film, and now (that’s a circa 1988 “now”) it’s a weekly syndicated television series, and Marc Shapiro previews the new show; Carr D’Angelo interviews Outer Heat and Terminator producer Gale Anne Hurd; film composer Jerry Goldsmith (Innerspace, Outer Heat, Runaway, Star Trek – The Motion Picture) is profiled by Marc Shapiro; editor David McDonnell interviews Next Generation actress Marina Sirtis; Michael Vane interviews science-fiction author C.J. Cherryh in the first half of a two-part article; Adam Pirani talks with actor Warwick Davis, the star of Willow; the Fan Network pages include an answer to a reader query about the history of Hammer Films, plus short items on a heavily edited Doctor Who episode on video, Star Trek engine designs, and some silly guesses about Star Trek V.

Veteran actor and Who Framed Roger Rabbit star Bob Hoskins is interviewed by Adam Pirani, telling him some great stories (see the block quote below); Kris Gilpin interviews Jane Badler, who talks about her work on V, Highwayman, and other projects; David Hutchison reports on discounted Disney videos and other releases in his Videolog column; Beverly M. Payton interviews Starman actor Patrick Culliton; Marc Shapiro profiles actor Roy Dotrice about Beauty and the Beast; in a three-page “The Guests of Trek” section, Mark Phillips profiles Stewart Moss (“The Naked Time”) and Phillips and Frank Garcia together profile Julie Cobb (“By Any Other Name” and other episodes); Peter Bloch-Hansen (the same gentleman who wrote a letter to the editor in issue #126) goes behind the scenes to preview Short Circuit 2: More Input; and editor David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column is a collection of bits, such as the two or three degrees of separation between actor Patrick Culliton and practically everyone McDonnell knows.
“I was in L.A., doing a bit of publicity, and got a phone call from [director] Brian De Palma: ‘Do you want to meet me at the Beverly Wilshire to have a drink?’ And he sent me The Untouchables script, and he said, look at Al Capone. I looked at it, and I thought, ‘Good part.’ I met him, and he said, ‘Now look, I really want Robert De Niro to do this; I don’t think he’s going to do it, but if he won't do it, will you do it?’ So I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’ He said, ‘I’ll pay you well, I’ll do the business, and I’ll look after you, and it will be a real favor to me if I’m covered.’ I said yes, I’ll do it, a couple of week’s work, terrific. Anyway, I never heard anything else; next thing I see, De Niro’s going to play it. So, I said, ‘Oh, right, De Palma got him.’ But he [De Palma] had no contract with me, nothing was signed, there was no agreement, or anything, and here I got this check for $200,000 as a thank you! ... I wonder if there’s anything else De Niro’s thinking about doing ...”
–Bob Hoskins, actor, interviewed by Adam Pirani: “Bob Hoskins: Animated Investigator”
To read previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #132, July 1988: Everything Old Is New Again

Once again, Starlog breaks its (unwritten?) rule and plasters the same movie on its cover for two consecutive issues. Willow, which last month was featured on the cover with an image of its villian, retains the cover spot this month by featuring its hero. (A different movie will camp out on the cover for the next two issues.)

This is the magazine’s 12th anniversary issue, though as an issue, it’s not really different from the 100-page issue two months earlier. The sole exception would seem to be Kerry O’Quinn’s extra-lengthy special anniversary editorial. It is, however, a nice mix of classic genre fare (with a number of articles recounting what it was like to work with the legendary producer George Pal) and the new (did we mention WILLOW is playing?).

This issue also includes the first ad for Starlog’s officially licensed movie publications for Willow: A movie magazine, a poster magazine, and a theater program. Order all three for $9.70 plus postage!

Starlog #132
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Classified ad of the month: “HORSEMEN RIDING THROUGH THE CITY! Banshee crawling through the hills, shewolves dancing in the forest, Hellhounds baying to the moon! ‘Wulffangel,’ drama/music sound effects ... casette & booklet – Send $9.95 to ...”

My favorite photo caption this issue: “Thorburn and Young never really got to act alongside Russ Tamblyn. Instead, they played to his doll stand-in.”

The rundown: Val Kilmer, rumored to be one of the more difficult actors to work with, is on the cover as Willow’s Madmartigan. Kerry O’Quinn’s From the Bridge anniversary editorial is an extended defense of people who are into science fiction, illustrated with photographs of SF-themed signs (store names, etc.). Communications letters include J. Michael Straczynski, story editor of The Twilight Zone, complaining about an article on his series in issue #127 (with an also-lengthy response/defense from the editors), while other readers write in with further thoughts on Star Trek novels; David McDonnell’s Medialog roundup of news includes news that a TV series based on Invasion of the Body Snatchers is under development.

Tom Weaver interviews Psycho star Janet Leigh, who tells him about the death threats she received after the release of that landmark Hitchcock film; Bill Warren interviews George Pal pal Alan Young about  thom thumb, The Time Machine, and even Mr. Ed; the George Pal remembrance-fest continues with Tim Ferrante and Tom Weaver’s interview with actor Les Tremayne (War of the Worlds, The Angry Red Planet); and Steve Swires talks with actor Russ Tamblyn, another veteran of Pal’s tom thumb.

The magazine’s British correspondent, Adam Pirani, interviews director Ron Howard about his new film Willow; Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman talk with actor Colin Baker, “the shortest-lived Time Lord”; the Other Voices guest column is written by legendary author Jack Williamson, who explains “How not to Write a Novel”; David McDonnell previews Who Framed Roger Rabbit; David Hutchison looks at the special effects of Star Trek: The Next Generation; Kathryn M. Drennan profiles “Dr. Science”; and Marc Shapiro interviews Beetlejuice actor Jeffrey Jones.

In another exploration of the implications of a major movie, Michael Wolff (who writes in the tradition of Bruce Gordon's famous article on “The Other Marty McFly” in #108) examines the world of RoboCop, illustrated by cartoons by George Kochell; Evelyn Mayfield interviews veteran novelist Octavia Butler; the Fan Network pages answer reader questions (including “Could you please tell me what other movies besides Re-Animator, From Beyond and Chopping Mall the lovely actress Barbara Crampton has appeared in?”), feature a short item by Jean Airey on a touring Elvis Presley play starring actor Paul Darrow from Blake’s 7, and more; Brazil and Soap actress Katherine Helmond is interviewed by Kim Howard Johnson; David Hutchison’s Videolog reports on the latest genre releases, including the final 18 episodes of the original Star Trek; Eric Niderost looks at the special effects in Date with an Angel; in a two-page “The Guests of Trek” section, Bill Florence profiles Katherine Woodville, and Kathleen M. Gooch profiles Eddie Paskey; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column shares his Willow fascination.
“If I can’t pronounce [characters’ names], I don't write them. They’ve been up on my wall for a while. I make all sorts of notes I hang in front of myself to remind myself to do the right thing with this or that character or the story in general or with this part. If I don’t, I tend to stray. I wander off and find myself doing one page a day and it gets harder and harder and it’s impossible to work.”
–Octavia E. Butler, novelist, interviewed by Evelyn Mayfield: “Patterns of Her Mind”
To read previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Stern Video Report on German Press Reaction to World Cup Victory over England

Sorry, it's in German. But you can still get the point of it without knowing all of the words:

New Trailer for Upcoming Live-Action Space Battleship Yamato

The newest preview trailer for the Yamato live-action movie (based on a classic Japanese anime and manga) is out and worth a look:

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Walking Tour of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade 2010

You meant to show up, but you were watching Argentina beat Mexico in the World Cup knock-out round. Or perhaps your kids took too long to get their stuff together and get in the car. Or you hate crowds and figured you would rather watch it on television tonight. So you didn't go to San Francisco's annual gay pride parade.

Well, here's a short video of what it was like:

And here's a guided tour of the people who walked through at least part of the umpteen-hours long parade.

A view of the crowd on Market Street between Fourth and Third streets.  Lotta people.
Gay marriage remains a hot topic. People also had signs tweaking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about fulfilling promises to end legal discrimination against gay and lesbian employees.
The Backstreet Boys were grand marshalls of the parade, but there are so many of the boy banders that they had to put them in two different convertibles:
The gay pride parade is always a place where young men seem to forget to wear their shirts and long pants. Perhaps because the colors clash with their angel/flower/flamingo costume. Who knows? Who's complaining, anyway?
I'm not sure what group he was marching with, but he took long pauses to allow people to take pictures of him in his underwear.
Perhaps this young man supports a vigorous U.S. space program, you thought? Then you read the other side of his sign, and you realized he was interested in exploring something completely different. And you just said, "Oh."
Really, I don't know.
The local art school pimped out its young students.
This float above, believe it or not, was put together by a local college. What it has to do with college, I don't know, unless it's a classics-only institution. Still.
One of the warmest receptions of any gay pride parade is always reserved for PFLAG, the Parents, Friends, Family of Lesbians and Gays.

I have marched in exactly two gay pride parades. In Chicago in 1997 or 1998, I marched with PFLAG, and it was a very emotional experience (partly because Chicago's parade goes through narrower streets with residential buildings along both sides, so the crowd is both thicker and higher). The second time, I marched with a now-defunct San Francisco group seeking equal immigration rights for gays and lesbians. The sucessor to that group is still around, and still marching (above).
(Above:) I don't know. I really don't know.
Gold's Gym often has the best-organized float and marchers. Certainly, matching their reason for existing, Gold's has some of the nicest-looking marchers.
They just kept coming. I couldn't do anything. I had to keep photographing ...
What's this? More people without shirts? How could this happen???

All in all, if you missed the parade, you'll live. I might not be a big fan of parades in general, but I take some small pleasure in knowing that some people in the crazy Right will be upset by this parade.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #131, June 1988: Weeping Willow

Sometimes magazine editors make something out of nothing – anything – if it’ll help highlight stuff in the magazine. Last issue, remember, was dubbed a “science-fiction comedy” special, even though you kind of had to search hard, maybe squint, to find much comedy-themed articles in the issue. This month, there are three people interviewed separately from the same family: actors Dan O’Herlihy and his son Gavan O’Herlihy, plus Dan’s brother director Michael O’Herlihy, so the interviews are run one after another with the same headline design. As editor David McDonnell notes in his editorial, “this may be the first time in 130-odd issues that we’ve profiled three members of the same family in the same Starlog.”

Not the most scintillating item, but you do what you can to create excitement where there is none. Kind of like me highlighting it at the top of this issue writeup as if it’s the most interesting thing about this issue. Life is funny like that.

Starlog #131
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

My favorite photo caption of the issue: “The main difference between this spirit story and Topper is that in Beetlejuice, the ghosts don’t change their clothes. Barbara Maitland (David) does don an old wedding gown, but it’s not a pretty sight.” Second favorite caption: “What Colin Wilson intended for Princess Aura (Omelia Muti) and the bore-worms in his uncredited rewrite of Flash Gordon was far more erotic than Kala’s (Mariangela Melato) S&M tactics.”

The rundown: The cover is taken over by General Kael (Patrick Roach), baddie from Willow; speaking of which, in his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O’Quinn is more bullish on the movie than audiences will turn out to be, and he relates a chat he had with George Lucas about Willow and why he wanted to make a film starring little people. The entire Communications letters is devoted to belated feedback on Superman IV detractors (they hated it), except for one lone letter writer who claims it “was a terrific movie.” In the Medialog section, Will Murray reports that Sylvester Stallone will be making a film based on The Punisher books, there are photos of upcoming movies Twins and Hot to Trot (both destined to be mysteriously overlooked by the Academy), and David McDonnell reports the latest genre media headlines, such as news that Cocoon II is on the way.

Mick Garris, previously a film publicist and a journalist (including a contributor to Starlog and Fangoria), graduated to filmmaking, so to preview his upcoming directorial effort Critters 2, the editors have him write humorous captions for a three-page photo spread on the film; Michael J. Wolff chimes in with a retrospective on the 1960s’ TV series The Invaders; Steve Swires completes his two-part interview with “Superman’s Pal: Jack Larson”; Howard Gordon, executive story consultant for Beauty and the Beast, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the writing chores on that series; Kathryn M. Drennan interviews Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes, who tells her that he was hired because Gene Roddenberry saw a “Machiavellian glint” in his eye that reminded him of himself; the Fan Network pages include a zillion convention listings, plus Kara Rothman on a Star Trek-supported charity bike ride, an unbylined item on Star Trek designers, and a reader’s query answered (“Whatever happened to the sequel to Godzilla 1985?”).

Adam Pirani interviews Willow actor and coverboy Patrick Roach; Sandy Robertson provides a Q&A with novelist Colin Wilson about The Space Vampires (aka Lifeforce), Flash Gordon, and more; Carr D’Angelo talks with actress Geena Davis about her work in The Fly and Beetlejuice; Christine Menefee checks in with Starman TV star Robert Hays; Mickie Singer-Werner interviews novelist Nancy Springer (The Sable Moon, Mindbond, etc.); David Hutchison’s Videolog notes video releases of shrunken men – specifically, The Incredible Shrinking Man and Innerspace – among others; Eric Niderost interviews Dan O’Herlihy, the “Old Man” of RoboCop; Edward Gross profiles Michael O’Herlihy, veteran TV director, who’s not too star-struck of the shows he worked on, such as the original Star Trek, Logan’s Run, and Man from Atlantis (“a bit silly”); Adam Pirani completes the O’Herlihy family album with an interview of Willow actor Gavan O’Herlihy; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes column shares his deep inner pain over some humorous typos.
“[A.E. van Vogt] is one of the few [SF writers] I really do admire, and that’s because Van, like me, is always interested in the idea of the superman. His story “Asylum” was a big influence on Space Vampires, the interesting thing being that the hero in that story suddenly realized at the end that he isn’t who he thinks he is. His memory has been erased so that the telepathic vampires in the story won’t be able to read his mind and discover that he’s after them. It’s only at the climax, he realizes who he is and that he can destroy the vampires. This idea of people being supermen under the surface has always fascinated me. I’ve always felt that this is true of human beings – in our best moments, we do the most amazing things, yet we don’t realize we have these capacities within ourselves.”
–Colin Wilson, novelist, interviewed by Sandy Robertson: “Spinning the Writer’s Web: Colin Wilson”
To read previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #130, May 1988: They’re Going to Kill off Tasha Yar?!?!?

If you step into the wayback machine with me to a time before the internet was widely commercialized and fan debates took place at conventions or in the pages of monthly magazines, you can understand how it was interesting to follow a drawn-out rumor of the killing off of a regular character on a leading TV series. That rumor, first reported in Starlog’s Medialog column last issue, is fleshed out in this issue and it becomes clear that the unnamed character is Tasha Yar. Actress Denise Crosby responds to the rumor in an interview and sounds shocked, yes shocked, that her character would be killed off. In a few issues, she’ll be back to talk about her character being killed off.

This issue’s cover is funny if you remember my comments in the writeup for issue #127. The electric pink cover? Remember? With this issue, they use a bright, somewhat jarring green on much of the cover, and it must work at the newsstands, because they would use it again on at least two more Star Trek covers, plus one for War of the Worlds and Darkman. So, despite what my former boss said in #127’s writeup about green being a bad color for newsstand sales, it clearly works for Starlog, which knows a thing or two about retail magazine sales.

Starlog #130
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

Readers of Starlog in the spring of 1988 were pleasantly surprised by a 100-page special issue. For years, Starlog’s extra-page, extra-color specials would only occur in the November issue (either a collection of reviews or some other special reason) and the July issue (for the magazine’s anniversary). But this is the May issue, and here is a 100-pager focused (the text on the magazine’s spine tells us) on “science-fiction comedy.” I think the comedy tag oversells it a bit, but nonetheless... Unlike magazines (such as GQ or Vogue) that expand or contract the number of pages depending on the amount of advertising for that month, Starlog never had much advertising, so its decisions about page count had more to do with a package they thought would sell well that month at a bit of a higher price. And so it is that they feature Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Tasha Yar on the cover of this big issue.

The rundown: Kerry O’Quinn uses his From the Bridge column to argue against people who complain about him sharing his viewpoints in his two-thirds of a page each month; Arthur C. Clarke writes in to the Communications section to comment on the Gary Lockwood interview in #124, and other letter writers include David J. Schow (a future Fangoria columnist) on a recent review of his book, plus numerous readers commenting on Star Trek: The Next Generation (showing that Starlog’s letters pages were truly the SF chat room or online forum of its day), James Bond, and more; David McDonnell’s Medialog includes info on a special Hulk TV movie, a Micronauts TV pilot, and more.

Marc Shapiro talks with Ron Koslow about his creation, TV’s Beauty and the Beast; Jo Beth Taylor interviews former Doctor Who Jon Pertwee, who tells tales of some of the lighter escapades of his days on that show; in the first of a multi-part article, Steve Swires gets the inside scoop from actor Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen in the George Reeves-era Superman; Robert Greenberger previews Splash, Too, the sequel to the surprise hit Splash; in the Fan Network pages, Carr D’Angelo showcases the fan-made short film The Empire Strikes Quack (you can see more here, including a link to the video), Daniel Dickholtz on fan cartoonist Michael Goodwin, an answer to a reader query (about mixed-up signals over who’s third in command of the new Enterprise), and more.

Bill Warren interviews actor Billy Barty (including a quote from Kirk Douglas) about Willow and other films; Kim Howard Johnson goes behind the scenes of the Keanu Reeves-starring film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and Reeves utters the immortal words, “What’s happening, dude?”; Marc Shapiro investigates what would become another landmark film of the time: Tim Burton’s Beetlejiuce; Sharpiro also pens the cover story on actress Denise Crosby, who tells the magazine, “I know I’ve been complaining about Tasha being more involved in what was going on, but I don’t think things have gotten heated enough to where they’ve decided to kill me off”; Kim Howard Johnson profiles actor Judge Reinhold about his newest film, Vice Versa (the third adaptation of a century-old novel), though he also talks Gremlins; last issue the fans of man-flesh got some nice beefcake photos of a Tarzan actor from the 1930s, so this issue fans of women get an interview with SF favorite Caroline Munro – who reveals that she turned down a potentially big role in Superman – in an article illustrated with a large number of photos of Munro in bathing suits; Carr D’Angelo previews Outer Heat, which soon would be renamed Alien Nation.

Bill Warren profiles actor Keye Luke (Dead Heat, Gremlins, Star Trek original series, etc.); in a six-page “The Guests of Trek” section, Diane Butler profiles Arnold Moss, Mark Phillips does the honors for Morgan Woodward and Phillip Pine, Edward Gross does Adrian Spies, Frank Garcia does Hagan Beggs and Elinor Donahue, and John McCarty does John Newland; Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman profile actress Sally Knyvette about her work on Blake’s 7; David Hutchison’s Videolog notes the releases of The Princess Bride, Amazon Women on the Moon, (though he mistypes it of the Moon) and other genre programs; Patrick Daniel O’Neill interviews author Frederik Pohl, who talks about his novelizations based on themes from the real-life Chernobyl nuclear disaster; in the Tribute page, Kim Howard Johnson provides the obituary for 12-year-old actress Heather O’Rourke, who died following surgery, and David Hutchison notes the passing of Milt Kahl, a Disney animator for more than four decades; and editor David McDonnell uses his Liner Notes column to talk about Disney tours.
“When I was back in Hong Kong two years ago making a picture, there were three Charlie Chans [films] showing there. I thought those kids over on the mainland would be surprised at the ‘disloyalty,’ at the lack of comprehension of their so-called compatriots over here, who tend to like the character Charlie Chan. These violent complainers of yesterday have lost their steam, because how long can you keep yelling about a thing that’s not real? This protest always struck me as strange because here’s Charlie Chan, undoubtedly the smartest man in any of these films – number one man and a hero.”
–Keye Luke, actor, interviewed by Bill Warren: “The Many Mysteries of Keye Luke”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Daniel Radcliffe Earns More Points

Not only has he grown to be a good actor and a young man with remarkable social conscience, but Daniel Radcliffe is not afraid to tell the world he's not up on things. Like Justin Beiber. A CNN blogger notes that he wasn't familiar with the tweener singing star until a couple weeks ago, and when he heard Bieber's voice, he thought it was a woman singing.

Now, I don't pass that along to bash Bieber. I have heard the name but don't know of any of his music; nonetheless, who cares? I'm hardly in the demographic of Beiber's feverish fans.

But I do like Radcliffe's remark that, “I'm so out of the loop when it comes to pop culture that I kind of don't even try anymore.”

That's great. You get no points in life for being up on the latest silliness. Some people would probably argue that such an attitude could leave Radcliffites (Radcliffians? we need a word here ...) at a loss in party conversations. But I think instead it means that his conversations are probably more interesting than most people's.

It reminds me of when Playboy's longtime executive editor Arthur Kretchmer said upon leaving his post after decades at the top, "Let me put it this way: At this point in my life, I don't care who Weezer is. And that's not fair to Weezer, that's not fair to Playboy magazine."

Now, I would argue that the fact that he knew enough to know that Weezer is unimportant is exactly the reason he should continue to edit a magazine. But I still applaud him for deciding not to fake enthusiasm for the latest passing fad and instead pursue his own interests.

I suspect Kretchmer and Radcliffe could have a very interesting conversation.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #129, April 1988: Wil Wheaton Conquers the Universe

Wil Wheaton never got a cover story in Starlog, but he gets his first big article in the magazine this issue, plus some prominent placement at the top of the cover. Oh, wait, he’s also co-starring (in a way) in Kerry O’Quinn’s editorial. Consider this the first step in young Wil Wheaton’s takeover of the social scene. Twenty-two years later, Wil Wheaton remains in the public eye as a popular blogger/tweeter.

Wheaton, of course, plays the 15-year-old Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a character that would divide the show’s fans for years; some appreciated having a young person on board the Enterprise with whom they could identify, while others considered Wesley to be the Ewoks or Jar Jar of the 23rd century. The government swiftly obliged these critics and created the Internet chat room to give them a place to complain about it.

Wheaton did, BTW, get the cover of Starlog’s official licensed magazine for Star Trek: The Next Generation (for issue #10, January 1990 of that magazine).

Starlog #129
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

My favorite caption of this issue: “Mauled by a saber-tooth tiger and riddled by police bullets, Shayne, a Neanderthal Man no longer, dies in Doris Merrick’s arms.”

The rundown: Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future is the featured program on the cover of this issue; I figure that if Captain Power is the TV competition, it’s a bit more readily understandable that Star Trek: The Next Generation was able to establish itself as the number-one syndicated television program. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn shares two tales: first, Bjo Trimble fulfills Wil Wheaton’s wish for a real Star Trek phaser prop, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher slams Fangoria magazine for its gory movie photos; in the Communications section, designer Andrew Probert offers some corrections to the recent article about him, novelist Ann C. Crispin updates the magazine on the status of her new novel (Time for Yesterday), Ib J. Melchior thanks the magazine for Tom Weaver’s article on him – and for spelling his name correctly throughout the article, and more; David McDonnell’s Medialog covers the latest genre news, including the rumor that a regular character of Star Trek: The Next Generation was going to be killed off.

Kim Howard Johnson previews one of a slew of adult/kid body-switch films, Vice Versa, starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage; Tom Weaver interviews actor Robert Shayne about co-starring in the George Reeves Superman programs; Beverly M. Payton and Vicki H. Werkley profile actor Michael Cavanaugh (Starman); Edward Gross talks with writer Norman Spinrad about his work on the original Star Trek series; Bill Warren talks with William Windom about his acting career, which includes guest starring in Star Trek’s “The Doomsday Machine”; Kathryn M. Drennan interviews Wil Wheaton, who reveals “why he may never save the Enterprise again”; David Hutchison’s Videolog notes new video releases such as The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, and more; Marc Shapiro profiles Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future star Tim Dunigan; Carr D’Angelo interviews production designer Jack Collis (The Running Man, Splash, Outer Heat).

Okay, you’ve waded all this way through the magazine, and you’re saying to yourself, Can I have some beefcake photos of an athlete/actor from the 1930s? Writer Mike Chapman and the editors comply, with a profile of former Olympian Herman Brix (aka Bruce Bennett), who portrayed Tarzan in what some believe was the truest portrayal of the original character; Kris Gilpin interviews RoboCop co-star Ronny Cox (without beefcake shots); Frank Garcia meanwhile interviews another RoboCop actor, Miguel Ferrer; Eric Niderost comes in with the third RoboCop interview, talking with Kurtwood Smith; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier preview French animation filmmaker Rene Laloux’ Light Years; the Fan Network pages include an answer to a reader’s question (“Is there ever going to be a sequel to E.T.?”), a short item by Richard Gilbert on the stage play What the Morph Brothers Did, and more; and, in his Liner Notes column, editor David McDonnell unveils Starlog’s newest sister magazine, the horror film title Gorezone – yep, if Maggie Thatcher didn’t like Fango, I think we can assume she didn’t send away for a charter subscription to Gorezone.
“We don’t have Klingons hiding under a cloaking device to just come out and whale us. I miss that, because that was so much fun. Unfortunately, we’ve matured past that, and now we’re very peaceful. They kicked more butt in the movies. We’re getting killed, and Captain Picard’s going, ‘Hmmm, I just want to see if we can lose a few more lives, then we’ll do something.’ This is the Enterprise. Fire the photons!”
–Wil Wheaton, actor, interviewed by Kathryn M. Drennan: “Wil Wheaton: Acting Ensign”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #128, March 1988: Loving the Beast

I have a confession to make (don’t tell Kerry O’Quinn): I rather liked Senator William Proxmire. Oh, I disagreed strongly with his Luddite opposition to the space program; that was short-sighted of him. I even once wrote a letter to the editor of the Green Bay News-Chronicle that criticized his anti-NASA views (which resulted in a responding letter to the editor from the senator taking issue with my views). But as a Wisconsinite, I was (and probably still am) a bit proud of the fact that this moderate Democrat took the Senate seat that had been disgraced by Joe McCarthy and served our state in Washington, D.C., as an honest, hardworking, principled legislator (as far as I know) .

He was wrong on space (be patient, Luke, you’ll see why I’m making all this fuss in a moment), but he was otherwise fairly praiseworthy. I recall learning that when he ran for re-election, he spent something like less than $300 – and all of that on the filing fee. He spent his campaign simply going to public places, introducing himself, and telling them he was running for re-election. I now live in San Francisco, where our state’s U.S. Senate seat will probably cost a combined price north of $200 million. And I think we’d be better off if Proxmire were our senator.

So, who cares about William Proxmire today? Aside from my homestate pride (hey, we also gave the world Russ Feingold – not to mention Fighting Bob LaFollette – so the state knows a thing or two about real mavericks, not the fakey kind), it’s because Starlog publisher Kerry O’Quinn knocks Proxmire in his From the Bridge column for his opposition to a U.S. space station. True to his principles, O’Quinn makes the libertarian argument that a free country should welcome the disagreements over such expenditures, and that he shouldn’t be able to force Proxmire to support space programs any more than Proxmire should be able to force O’Quinn to be against them. It’s actually quite a good editorial, ending with the note that a space station has to have a sound purpose to get support. That purpose might be military and/or private enterprise (and I think we’re seeing the latter, thank goodness), but O’Quinn says we shouldn’t sacrifice our freedom of thought just to get to what we consider a greater good: space.

Starlog #128
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

Classified ad of the month: “SCI-FI/MEDIA MAGAZINES! STARLOG, Starburst, Dr.Who Monthly, 007, UNCLE files and more! Send Large SASE for new updated list! Larry ...” I used to daydream over classified ads like this. I imagined saving up my allowance and ordering missed issues of my favorite magazines; perhaps I’d find magazines I’d never imagined before. I know, that makes me a geek of the highest order. But then again, who else do you think would try to chronicle 374 issues of Starlog on his blog?

The rundown: Finally, to the issue. Beauty and the Beast was one of those short-lived TV shows that enjoyed unprecedented success one year, and the next was forgotten; here, it takes the prime cover spot of Starlog #128. In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O’Quinn looks for ways to push humanity into space while being true to his beliefs in personal freedom; Communications letters include praise for Timothy Dalton’s James Bond, reaction to RoboCop, L. Sprague de Camp corrects some photo I.D.’s from his recent article, and more; Medialog includes Lee Goldberg’s brief report of some science-fiction TV series that didn’t see the light of day (such as a Remo Williams spinoff and even a Psycho series), Frank Garcia on Neuromancer author William Gibson being slated to write Alien III, and David McDonnell’s roundup of genre headlines (such as news of a Babar movie).

Lee Goldberg previews The Ray Bradbury Theater anthology series on USA Network; Edward Gross interviews actor John de Lancie (Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation), who quickly became a favorite of Starlog; Robert Greenberger profiles actor William Campbell, whose credits include Trelayne from the original Star Trek’s “The Squire of Gothos”; David Hutchison’s Videolog notes some new genre video releases, such as The Gate and Quest for Fire; Bill Warren interviews RoboCop and Buckaroo Banzai star Peter Weller; Howard Weinstein, himself a novelist, interviews Walter Koenig about the actor’s writing career, including his book Buck Alice and the Actor Robot (with a sidebar by Lee Goldberg, David J. Creek and Weinstein, in which Koenig talks Trek – including the nugget that he had pitched story ideas to the Next Generation team); Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman continue their look at Blake’s 7 with an interview of Paul Darrow; James Phillips sits down for a Q&A with writer Alfred Bester; Marc Shapiro talks with Beauty and the Beast star Ron Perlman (who was also in Quest for Fire, which I hadn’t known); the Fan Network section includes Mike Glyer’s continuing listing of fan clubs, some cartoons, and more; Steve Swires interviews James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader and CNN; then, Adam Pirani interviews the man who portrays Vader on the screen: David Prowse; Jessie Horsting profiles producer Keith Barish (The Monster Squad, Sophie’s Choice, etc.).

In the Tribute pages, Star Trek art director Mike Minor is remembered by David Hutchison and Bob Burns, while Eric Niderost notes the passing of actor Lloyd Haynes (Room 222, Star Trek original series); Juanita Elefante-Gordon interviews actor Mark Strickson about his time as Doctor Who companion Turlough; Marc Shapiro previews a TV show with a title that could only have been made up by a group of 13-year-olds after too much pizza and caffeine: Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future; and editor David McDonnell wraps it all up in his Liner Notes column by relating a story about insulting Ron Perlman’s movie The Ice Pirates – in front of Perlman (it was unintentional, naturally). Perlman, luckily, does not hold a grudge.
“Sigmund Freud, when he first started the whole psychoanalysis bit, spent the first two years psychoanalyzing himself. Now, a good professional writer like myself spends most of his time analyizing himself and saying, ‘Why did I do that?’ Because if I know why I did that – I, me, ich, Alfie B. – then I will understand why other people do what they do. It’s a bit of self-analysis which enables you to understand and sympathize with other people.”
–Alfred Bester, author, interviewed by James Philiips: “Alfred Bester: The Stars 7 Other Destinations”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #127, February 1988: Pretty in Pink

A magazine that lives or dies by newsstand sales will do anything to attract attention from potential buyers. I once worked for a technology magazine whose publisher decreed that the color green could not be prominent on any of his magazine covers, because he’d concluded that magazines didn’t sell if they had green covers. Why this rule pertained to his magazines, I’ll never know; most of them weren’t newsstand magazines at all. But you own the company, you can make cover color edicts.

I wonder what he would think of pink. Electric pink. Shocking pink. Almost obscene pink. Even now, 22 years after Starlog #127 hit the stands, its cover is almost disturbingly bright, shiny pink as it sits on my desk while I write this. It’s a cover that would have jumped up and down on the magazine racks, elbowing the other mags out of the way, shouting rude and provocative things to get the attention of browsers. And if the pink first grabbed their attention, then what made them grab the magazine and buy it is probably the interview with George Lucas.

Also this month, Starlog publishes its annual postal statement of ownership and circulation. The total paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 141,616 (down more than 25 percent from last year's 212,664 ), including the number of paid subscriptions of 18,000 (up a surprisingly amount from 8,747 last time).

Starlog #127
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

In staffing news, there’s no one yet who assumes the title of managing editor following Carr D’Angelo’s exit last issue, but Eddie Berganza and Daniel Dickholtz jointly share the associate editor mantle, which takes a prominent place on the staff listing.

Classified ad of the month: “POTLATCH NETWORK Ancestral and popular folk culture touch the future ...” No, I have no idea what it means, either.

The rundown: Dodging the Pepto Bismol on the cover to take the feature spot is the new film from Steven Spielberg’s production company, Batteries not Included. In his From the Bridge editorial, publisher Kerry O’Quinn continues his exploration of the inspiration he sees in a beautiful Milan cathedral, extrapolating the meaning in atheist terms; Communications letters include lots of reactions to Star Trek: The Next Generation, a reader raises questions about Starlog’s coverage of films for which it also publishes licensed official movie magazines, readers promote the quirky Max Headroom TV series, and more; and David McDonnell’s Medialog wraps up all of the latest blurbs on genre happenings, including a note that “The Blob will ooze again.” You’ve been warned.

Kathleen Kennedy, producer of Spielberg films such as Empire of the Sun, talks to writer Kathryn M. Drennan about that film, plus E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Poltergeist, and others; Lee Goldberg examines the newly syndicated Twilight Zone revival; the Fan Network pages include Mike Glyer’s continuing fan club directory, plus photos from the past year of notable genre happenings (such as Dorothy Fontana at the Academy Awards); Juanita Elefante-Gordon profiles former Doctor Who actor Peter Davison; Lee Goldberg interviews RoboCop screenwriters Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier (plus a sidebar looking at Miner’s Deadly Weapon); superheroes and He-Man take the lead in David Hutchison’s Videolog; Marc Shapiro interviews Gates McFadden about her role as Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation; Harcourt Fenton Mudd! The late Roger C. Carmel, who portrayed the roguish salesman on two episodes of the original Star Trek series, was interviewed by Dan Madsen.

Carr D’Angelo interviews Matthew Robbins, director of Batteries Not Included; Bill Warren writes up a question-and-answer session that George Lucas had with audience members and reporters at the Starlog convention celebrating Star Wars’ 10th anniversary (including the audience question: “Why didn’t you give Luke a girl?” and Lucas’ answer: “You haven’t seen the last three yet.” Still haven’t.); Kerry O’Quinn gives more behind-the-scenes details on the creation and staging of the big Star Wars convention, which included Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry on stage together with George Lucas for the first time; O’Quinn also bylines a collection of fan reaction to the Wars convention, including a sidebar with notes from celebrities such as Carrie Fisher and Howard Kazanjian; in non-Star Wars articles, Eric Niderost interviews Date with an Angel director Tom McLoughlin; Steve Swires interviews Ray Harryhausen, who explains his retirement from filmmaking and discusses his storied career; the Tribute page includes three obituaries: Eric Niderost on Lorne Greene, Lee Goldberg on Quinn Martin, and Patrick Daniel O’Neill on Terry Carr; and David McDonnell resumes writing his Liner Notes column, with more well-wishes to recently departed Carr D’Angelo, an announcement that the recent test issue of Comics Scene proved successful enough to spawn a continuing magazine, and news that CinemagicStarlog’s 10-year-old magazine edited by David Hutchison for amateur filmmakers – is ceasing publication.
“Hopefully, I will someday be doing the next three Star Wars, but I’m not sure when. The next three would take place 20 or 30 years before the films they’re celebrating here today. I’ll do the first trilogy first. There are nine [films] floating around there somewhere. I’ll guarantee that the first three are pretty much organized in my head, but the other three are kind of out there somewhere.”
–George Lucas, writer/director/producer/education-booster, reported by Bill Warren: “George Lucas: Father of the Force”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Anti-Gay Threats Put Spotlight on Valders, Wisconsin, High School

You've never heard of Valders, Wisconsin. Unless you live there or got lost one day trying to drive to Manitowoc, you have gone through your life pleasantly unaware that the world contains a Valders. Even I, who spent five years of my youth living in Manitowoc (population around 35,000), only vaguely knew of its existence. I think I drove past it once or twice, and its name stays in my head like other tiny towns in rural Manitowoc County: St. Nazianz, Mishicot, Francis Creek. My assumption was that they were all seemingly quaint rural farming towns with not enough going on to require my attention.

But now there is. Gregg Udulutch (yes, a very Manitowoc-ian name, but then, so is Zipperer) is a gay teenager at the high school in Valders (population less than 1,000 – for the town, not the high school). Surprisingly, he came out to his classmates a couple years ago, and he met with a fairly good reception. Score one for the Valders teens. But this year, he started getting harassed – called names daily – by two girls at the school, and it apparently escalated to him receiving death threats at his home, according to a lengthy report in the Manitowoc Herald-Times-Reporter. Therein lies a story of complaints to school officials that seemingly went unheeded (until the school psychologist got involved), a police officer who was called in to hear Udulutch's story about receiving the death threats and responded by yelling at him to stop complaining, and counter claims that the offending girls' home was toilet-papered (so it's all even, then?).

I strongly suggest reading the article in the Manitowoc paper, because it does a fairly good job of covering all of the bases, and I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few readers come away with a pretty good idea of who made the death threats. Luckily, there are upsides to the story: Udulutch doesn't take crap from anyone, so he didn't stay silent; he complained to the school, he complained to the police, and he went to the media to make sure his story got heard. Also, Udulutch does have friends at the school who support him; he's not stuck in a 1950s school forced to hide. There was some help from the school administration – arguably too little, too late, but it's frankly better than I would have expected in my admittedly prejudiced views about small-town Valders life. And last but not least, the local paper covered the story in a generally fair and complete way.

The only question I come away with is whether all of those good things would have mattered if Udulutch hadn't been gutsy enough to make a fuss. What if he'd been like some teens who are so bothered by their conflicting sexual identity issues and harassment from others that they end their lives? Then the Herald-Times would have been running a sad obituary. I'd always rather read about a hero who fought back than about a tragedy.

Not that you care, but I delivered the Herald-Times-Reporter for a couple years in junior high school. That has no bearing on Udulutch's case, except that it helps explain why I'm including it in this blog. This is an area I know from a street-level perspective, having walked and biked and driven (well, I was too young, so being driven) around the city and county enough for it to have a special place in my memories. I did not know I was gay when I was in Manitowoc's Woodrow Wilson Junior High School about a quarter century ago (yikes, I'm old), but I would like to think I'd have been as gutsy as he is.

Lets hope the folks of Valders and Manitowoc do right by him – and their other children like him – and make those of us in the Manitowoc diaspora proud.

The Starlog Project: Starlog #126, January 1988: Star Trek – How Believable?

Starlog’s magaging editor, Carr D’Angelo, is headed West, so this issue he says farewell. In his good-bye editorial, he notes the passing of a generation of favorite movie houses in New York. This is, after all, the late 1980s, when grand old movie palaces across the country were still being chopped into smaller boxes, making the movie-going experience ... less of an experience and more like seeing a film in your friend’s rec room.

My time in Manhattan was 12 years later, and I found many places to see movies. Some were classic and palace-like, others were crummy little shoeboxes. Still others were new, apparently built in the 1990s, eschewing the boxy multiplex looks for an update on the look of the large theaters of the past (including one on the Upper East Side where I finally escaped from my apartment three days after 9/11 because I was going crazy watching CNN, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this large theater basically tucked away inside an apartment building). I don’t know how lifelong New Yorkers felt about the new breed of cinemas, but I found quite a few places to catch any film I wanted to see. And that, to me, is a great thing about Manhattan: Unlike anywhere else in the United States, Manhattan hosts every film, and it hosts it first (and sometimes is the only domestic place besides Los Angeles for a film to unspool).

I’ll leave it to a writer more talented than I am to decide whether it’s overkill anyway to sit in a grand old plush movie palace ... and watch Superman IV.

Starlog #126
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

This month we see the first ad for Starlog’s official licensed magazine for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Yes, I still remember seeing it on the magazine rack for the first time at the grocery store in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. Yes, I bought it.

Classified ad of the month: “STAR TREK: HOW BELIEVABLE? $10; Golding’s Star Trek Star Maps $7.50 ...”

The rundown: Three stars of Star Trek: The Next Generation are on the cover, albeit they’re posing with that robotic, emotionless look that exemplified the first season’s initial episodes, before the producers realized people liked seeing their heroes have some blood in their veins. In his From the Bridge column, Kerry O’Quinn goes to church and he likes it – at least the building; Communications letters include Peter Bloch-Hansen (I assume that’s the same Peter Bloch-Hansen who would one day be a regular contributor to the magazine’s pages) commenting on the recent article about Journey to the Center of the Earth, while another Starlog writer – novelist Lawrence Watt-Evans – responds to Michael Wolff’s recent article on “How the Earth Won the War of the Worlds,” plus lots of letters on Star Trek, one on ALF, and more; David McDonnell’s Medialog roundup of genre news tells us, among other things, that Kenneth Johnson will direct Short Circuit II.

Beverly M. Payton talks with star Robert Hays and producer James Hirsch about the future – or lack thereof – for their canceled series Starman; Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman profile actress Jan Chappell about her role in Blake’s 7; in the Fan Network pages, Eddie Bergana reports on opposition to CBS’ plans for airing an edited-for-television version of Ladyhawke, Vicki Hessel Werkley covers fan efforts to revive Starman, Mike Glyer continues his directory to SF and fantasy fan clubs, and more; K.M. Drennan interviews actor Bill Paxton about Aliens and Near Dark; Adam Pirani talks with writer J.G. Ballard, who covers everything from Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg’s film of his World War II experiences) to The Drowned World and more; Juanita Elefante-Gordon talks with actor Patrick Macnee about Avengers (“And The New Avengers was a complete failure,” he tells her); Edward Gross profiles Star Trek episode director Joseph Pevney (“Arena,” “The Immunity Syndrome,” and others).

Kim Howard Johnson interviews Running Man star Arnold Schwarzenegger; Robin J. Schwartz talks with author Lynn Abbey (The Guardians, Unicorn & Dragon); Marc Shapiro interviews Star Trek: The Next Generation actress Marina Sirtis (“I’m not the new Spock. ... She is a completely new character.”); Dan Scapperotti interviews actress Maureen O’Sullivan about her days in Tarzan films, working with Groucho Marx and Woody Allen (no, not at the same time), and more; David Hutchison’s Videolog, for some reason, focuses on Ape movies; actor Michael Praed (Robin of Sherwood, Nightflyer) is interviewed by Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman; Edward Gross previews TV’s Beauty and the Beast, starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman; in a two-page Tribute section of obituaries, Chris Steinbrunner does the honor for writer John Dann MacDonald, Lee Goldberg pens Richard Marqand’s obit, and Patrick Daniel O’Neill says good-bye to Robert Preston and James Tiptree Jr. (aka Alice Sheldon); and exiting managing editor Carr D’Angelo takes over the Liner Notes column this month to mourn the passing of Gotham’s cinema experience and to say so long and thanks for all the fish. (The staffbox in this issue also lists D'Angelo as co-editor with David McDonnell, a tribute to the departing staffer.)
“I liked the whole idea of the modern gladiator, the government being in control of the Network and fixing the contest, and the show being organized to prevent people from rioting and protesting by keeping them glued to the TV set. Many things exist in reality, but the story takes it beyond all of that.”
–Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor, interviewed by Kim Howard Johnson: “Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Very Model of a Modern Movie Gladiator”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Dwindling Ranks of Gay Magazines

On a whim, I decided to update my blog's look at the state of gay magazines, which have been decimated in recent years. A combination of the brutal recession, the ability of the internet to undercut the print publications' market (especially for the adult titles), and some already weak publications has resulted in a steady decline in the ranks of publications targeting the gay audience.

But decimated doesn't do justice to the decline. The word comes from the ancient Romans, whose military commanders would punish mutinous or disastrously performing troops by killing one out of every 10 troops under their command (the deci- root comes from the Latin for ten). A brutal form of punishment, yes; but the rate of loss in the magazine market is likely much more than 10 percent.

Just checking out this list of gay magazines finds that of the 10 listed, five have ceased publication – six if you count The Advocate, which officially became a special section of sister mag Out. (One could quibble with my counting; there are additional surviving and dead magazines not listed, and Echelon, after all, is counted as having ceased publication, but it apparently is still alive as an online-only magazine. An online-only magazine is, to me, by definition an internet product. But such quibbles are what make life worth living, and a disagreement on that particular title doesn't appreciably alter the numbers calculation.)

I've long maintained on this blog – and still do – that print has a healthy future, if it does what print does best and lets the internet do what the 'net does best. I suspect that this market niche is kind of uniquely vulnerable to the internet. That part of the magazines' coverage that was about building community and interaction is exactly what the internet does better than print. And those magazines that offered little or nothing more than adult content have obviously lost their reason for living, in a world where the internet makes videos and pictures of any- and everything ubiquitous and often free.

Hope springs eternal, however. Playgirl (the ostensibly female-oriented but gay-friendly skin publication) is back and is trying to buck the trend, though not well, if you ask me. And on the non-adult side, we'll see how relatively new titles such as the wonderful Winq from the Netherlands fares.

UPDATE 3/27/11: Winq and Mate magazines team up.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Is Harry Potter Dead? Or Just His Merchandising?

While attention this week was focused on (I know you're thinking, World Cup, but ...) the opening of the Harry Potter theme park, I think journalists missed the story: Potter's old hat. At least, that's what I concluded today after my failed Potter mission.

I visited five different stores looking for Harry Potter tchotchkes to have on hand for a Potter movie viewing party tonight. I would have settled for cheap imitation Potter magic wands. Potter-themed candy. Hats. Capes. God, anything. 

But I found nothing at four of the stores, and only some lame and incomplete costume stuff at the fifth, a party supply store. 

What happened? I realize it's Toy Story 3 everywhere, but the Potter craze isn't over, is it? There's still a movie or two to come yet. 

Is this any way to treat the boy wizard???

The Starlog Project: Starlog #125, December 1987: James Cameron Strikes Back

Yep, that’s my governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, there on the cover of Starlog #125. It’s funny, really; when he ran for the governor’s office, I knew he wasn’t the muscle-bound idiot that some people wanted to portray him as, and the reason I knew that was all of the interviews with him I’d read in Starlog magazine over the years. It came through in those articles that he knew about business and politics. One can disagree with what he’s done in office, but I don’t think you can seriously pretend he’s ignorant.

This issue, Starlog raises its cover price from $2.95 to $3.50. This follows the longest period of no increases thus far in the magazine’s history. It rose from $2.50 to $2.95 way back in June 1983 with issue #71. Unlike in some past eras of price increases, there’s no immediate increase in the number of pages or the quality of paper. The paper quality was improved a number of issues ago, and the page count will increase steadily over the next decade or so, as will the amount of color pages in the magazine. But for now, the magazine just seems to be getting caught up with inflation. Or the publishers wanted to buy another racehorse.

Starlog #125
76 pages (including covers)
Cover Price: $3.50

Classified ad of the month: “MUTILATION GRAPHICS – T-SHIRTS Splat movies, Manson, Ann Landers, Two-Headed Baby, Marilyn Monroe in the Morgue ... Dead. Send $1 ...” Ann Landers?!?

The rundown: The future chief executive of the state of California is on the cover of this issue, in a pose from his latest movie, The Running Man. Kerry O’Quinn’s editorial is practically a meditation on dealing with pain and failure, and how to overcome them; Communications letters include a call for more attention to be paid to science-fiction books instead of films, praise for John Carpenter, memories of Blake’s 7, reaction to the articles on the women of Star Trek, and more; in Medialog, Adam Pirani previews Dinosaur – The Film, and David McDonnell reports the latest genre headlines, such as Dorothy Fontana’s scheduled departure from the team behind Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Steve Swires talks with director John Carpenter again (or continues to talk with him since their last chat in issue #115); David Hutchison announces some classic and modern genre video releases in Videolog; Brian Lowry interviews Amazon Women on the Moon co-producer Robert K. Weiss about the SF spoof he and John Landis made; Bill Warren profiles actor Bruce Dern, who discusses World Gone Wild, Silent Running, The Outer Limits, and acting with John Wayne; William Rabkin previews the great Rob Reiner film The Princess Bride; in response to various letters to the editor questioning aspects of Aliens, writer/director James Cameron wrote his own lengthy letter – here printed as an Other Voices guest column – with a forceful and detailed defense of his movie; Edward Gross interviews Steven de Souza, screenwriter of The Running Man and The Return of Captain Invincible, among others; Gross also talks with writer Margaret Armen about her Star Trek episodes (live action and animated), including her rewrite of David Gerrold’s third-season episode “The Cloud Minders”; and Daniel Dickholtz checks in with novelist J.M. Dillard.

Designer Andy Probert holds a special friend-of-the-blog status for me, because he has for years sent visitors from his web site to an interview of mine with David Gerrold about the abortive Starhunt project, so it’s nice to see him – along with illustrator Rick Sternbach – profiled by Marc Shapiro for their work on designing Star Trek: The Next Generation; the Fan Network pages include information about saving the Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers TV show, R.S. Sean O’Halloran on some fans who salvage prop vehicles from science-fiction productions, Mike Glyer’s directory to fantasy fan clubs, answers to reader queries (such as, “What has happened to the Robotech movie?”), an item on the persistence of Star Wars fandom, and more; Mike Clark looks at Gerry Anderson’s Space Police live-action program; Irv Slifkin interviews the legendary Joseph Barbera (of animated “Hanna-” fame); Eric Niderost previews Date with an Angel; in the Tribute page, Kerry O’Quinn writes Polly Freas’ obituary, and Tom Weaver says good-bye to the similarly named but unrelated Paul Frees; and editor David McDonnell, writing in his Liner Notes column, passes along some praise for the magazine from John Carpenter – almost enough to make me feel sorry for dissing Carpenter’s films in that letter to Fangoria years later ...
“I’ll tell you a little story. On Sundays, since I was a little kid in knee-highs, I remember the Sunday paper had the comic strips on the outside, the first thing everybody read when they got the paper. Seven out of 10 people still read the comics first. This need has not gone away. Animation is a relief from what’s going on in the world. You get up in the morning and turn on the radio and you hear a bridge goes out in Albany, a bomb has exploded here and there’s a flood on the East Coast. Then, you turn on the TV and see it all visualized. In living color, no less. Where’s the relief? That’s what we do: Provide relief in fantasy product. It’s important to make people forget what’s really happening.”
–Joseph Barbera, animation producer, interviewed by Irv Slifkin: “The Wonderful World of Joseph Barbera”
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #123, October 1987: Guys with Big Muscles

Oopses! I just realized I posted my writeup for issue #124 before #123 – had forgotten I had #123 written but not posted. So time travel with me back one issue ...

Sylvester Stallone, He-Man, Superman. Starlog is covering a lot of the musclebound hulks in 1987, because they’re the ones dominating the cinemas. Even Robocop, though metallic, is a part of this bulk-up-and-fight-the-bad-guys time period.

In the late 1980s, Starlog was the number-one publisher of licensed movie magazines in the country (probably the world, considering the genre), and the new titles came fast and furious. Sometimes they published movie magazines (Starlog-sized publications dedicated to the movie) and other times they published poster magazines, featuring 10 or 12 posters from the movie plus some pages of editorial content. Rarer is the deluxe magazine, published on better paper stock, featuring an upscale version of the regular magazine, sometimes with some posters added.

So, just to get caught up in 1987, I should note that Starlog published the official movie magazine for The Untouchables (a great movie, and a very nice magazine), Over the Top (a Sylvester Stallone film about – I kid you not – arm wrestling), The Living Daylights, Masters of the Universe, and Star Trek: The Voyage Home (with three publications for that film: poster mag, regular mag, and a deluxe magazine).

Also this month, editor David McDonnell announces the return of the loved-but-previously-dead sister title Comics Scene. It is brought back as a one-shot test issue, and it will perform well enough at the newsstand that the publishers will soon relaunch the title and produce it for eight or nine years, by far the longest of Comics Scene’s three runs.

And on the personnel side, Starlog has a new production director again. This time it’s William Gipp. Don’t get too attached to him, though; Starlog is changing production directors like the rest of us change our socks: often.

Starlog #123
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

Odd classified ad of the month: “WITCHCRAFT harness its powers. Gavin and Yvonne teach you how ...”

The rundown: In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O’Quinn gives a behind-the-scenes peek at George Lucas’ appearance at the Starlog convention honoring Star Wars’ 10th anniversary; Communications letters include a bunch of readers reacting to Star Trek’s 20th anniversary, actor Marc McClure (Jimmy Olson in the Superman films) responding to a recent Superman article in the magazine, reader interest in Starman, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Max Headroom, and more; Medialog includes a photo with extended caption on Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, plus Edward Gross on Eddie Murphy’s interest in being in a Star Trek film, and David McDonnell with a roundup of the latest genre news (such as info on how a directors’ strike had affected science-fiction/fantasy TV productions).

Eric Niderost profiles actress Nancy Allen, who talks Robocop and – in a sidebar by Kim Howard Johnson – Poltergeist III; David Gerrold’s Generations column is his final one, as he announces he’s leaving the Star Trek: The Next Generation fold to go produce his own TV show; Bill Warren talks with producer Jon Davison about Robocop; Brian Lowry interviews screenwriter Jeffrey Boam, who talks The Lost Boys, Innerspace, and more, though it’s still too early for his best film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; the Fan Network section features responses to reader queries (including, “Are there soundtracks for Great Mouse Detective, The Secret of NIMH and Watership Down?”); in what must have been the ultimate Trek fan experience, Carr D’Angelo reports (and Eddie Berganza photographs) on the first Trekcruise (this is your chance to see Nichelle Nichols in a two-person sack race and George Takei posing with his mother); the 25th-anniversary look back at James Bond continues from last issue (featuring more mini-excerpts of past Starlog Bond coverage); speaking of which, Lee Goldberg talks with the new James Bond, Timothy Dalton, who admits, “If I cock this up, it’s going to put a full stop to my career for a year or two.”

He-Man, in the form of actor Dolph Lundgren, is interviewed by Carr D’Angelo; Edward Gross talks with Superman IV director Sidney J. Furie; David Hutchison’s Videolog reports on Superman serials and other video releases; it was a busy month for the managing editor, for Carr D’Angelo is also writing the Comics Scene column, with a roundtable discussion with the creators of the 45th issue of the Star Trek comic book (including Trek comics editor Robert Greenberger, the founding editor of Comics Scene and a former Starlog editor); Faryl M.S. Reingold visits the remote set of the aptly named film Stranded; part two of Dan Scapperotti’s look at Disney animators includes Frank Thomas (no, not the White Sox slugger) and Ollie Johnson; in his Liner Notes column, editor David McDonnell announces the resurrection of the late, great Comics Scene magazine.
“[Timothy] Dalton would have us believe that The Living Daylights is pure [Ian] Fleming, and that Timothy Dalton isn’t a new James Bond, he’s the old James Bond. It’s a pretty nifty strategy, and best of all, it works. Just when it seemed like the Bond series had finally become tired, The Living Daylights takes the character back to his roots, back to the wild espionage stories and the ruthless spy who takes his job very seriously.”
–Lee Goldberg, writer, “Timothy Dalton: The Knight of The Living Daylights
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