THE NEWSROOM 1.6: “Bullies”

This week it was finally time to see Olivia Munn’s Sloan Sabbith (Let’s see Sylvester the cat pronounce that name!) in the spotlight. Let’s see THE NEWSROOM try to redeem its reputation for depicting women poorly.

Sloan is an interesting character: She’s the smartest person on the show, but she’s much better with numbers and economic theory than people. If she were a male character, she’d be a nerd or a geek that the other characters make fun of. (Neal almost faces this problem, but the show pulls back from outright ridicule.) Instead, creator Aaron Sorkin prefers to show Sloan repeatedly put into situations in which she is very uncomfortable; and she’s not very adept at wriggling out of them. She didn’t want to be Mackenzie’s galpal, but she couldn’t avoid it.
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The Hobbit Movies — Too Much of a Good Thing?

And you thought a battle of five armies was crazy!

The news that no one in fandom wanted to hear has been confirmed: Peter Jackson’s two-film adaptation of The Hobbit has now grown another appendage and will be spread over the course of three movies. Yes, it’s a Hobbit triple-play.

It was surprising enough when the 310-page novel was split into The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again, but now, with three movies (no, there was no name announced), Jackson plans to incorporate much of the reams of extra material J.R.R. Tolkien included in various appendices alluding to action that didn’t take place in the novel.

I’ll quote Jackson’s release at length after the jump…
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Tour the Cloud Atlas

The Wachowski Brothers are returning to the science fiction genre in a big way with this fall’s ambitious Cloud Atlas, based on a sprawling, dense 2004 novel by David Mitchell. The Wachowskis are producing, and Run Lola Run’s Tom Tykwer is directing.

Clocking in at just over five minutes, this trailer feels just as big and ambitious as the film itself, a time-travel story with a number of entangled narrative threads that reach from the 1880s to a post-apocalyptic future. The movie stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugh GrantHugo Weaving and a host of others playing multiple roles in the various story lines.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good time-travel story, and this one looks pretty good.  The premise seems to have a bit in common with The Fountain, but hopefully this will be more accessible. The flick’s visuals are lush and have a real European flavor. (I was reminded a little of The Fifth Element by the city scenes.)

Cloud Atlas opens Oct. 26.

Battle Royale — the TV Series?

Adapting the 2000 Japanese cult movie Battle Royale into a one-hour weekly drama series for broadcast on American television channel The CW sounds like a great idea! For about 8 seconds. Then, one realizes that the series would have to be so bowdlerized that it would barely resemble its progenitor, so why bother?

Kinji Fukasaku’s superbly brutal, highly polarizing movie (based on Koushun Takami’s 1999 novel) about Japanese school children pitted against one another in a fight to the death would be perfect for HBO or Showtime — premium cable networks that have the creative latitude to depict the ultraviolence necessary — not needed, necessary — to maintain the original Battle Royale’s satire and social commentary.
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Olympics Open Under a ‘Cloud of Suspicion’

The Games of the XXX Olympiad, London 2012, get under way today, and that’s mostly good news – except that I recently became aware of a grave injustice that was perpetrated just days before the opening ceremony: The competition to choose the official cheer squad for the UK Olympic squad, or Team GB, was rigged!

Yes, the bombastic squad of hard-working and highly talented young ladies known as The Crystals – who cheer for the Crystal Palace Football Club – won two public votes to select the squad, but the voices of the people were overruled by the person in charge, Alesha Dixon, who is a judge on BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT, who selected another group of girls – the North London Wildcats, who perform a more modest and stunt-oriented routine. (Does this have anything with the Roman numeral for the 30th Olympiad being three X’s?)

Needless to say, we should not let this tyranny stand! In solidarity with The Crystals, I present their audition number, set to Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” so that these young professionals can get the proper exposure they deserve!

The Crystals showed what a class act they were by Tweeting to their supporters:

“Thanks everyone who voted for us to be Team GB cheerleaders. Despite winning both votes, we did not win. Congrats to North London Wildcats! We won the public vote but unfortunately didn’t get chosen.”

Big DOCTOR WHO Doings

First of all, the biggest news for DOCTOR WHO in America since… well, probably since the show was first imported here: DOCTOR WHO is the cover story on the next issue of Entertainment Weekly, a big, glossy mainstream pop-culture magazine!

The feature goes “Inside the Cult of Doctor Who,” and features interviews with Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, as well as the Grand Moff, who says, “It’s not an obscure show anymore,” says executive producer Steven Moffat. “It’s not even a ‘British import.’ It’s just Doctor Who.”

I don’t think the importance of this (long-overdue) honor can be overstated; this is a powerful acknowledgment of the influence of DOCTOR WHO on pop culture in America. We devotees have long known that fans of the Doctor are legion, and now a mass-market magazine is validating it. (Not that we geeks ever need validation, but it’s nice to have.)
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Finally Official: Jena Malone Is Johanna Mason

After weeks of almost-cruel teasing, Lionsgate has finally confirmed the casting of Jena Malone as Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — as well as the two movies adapting Mockingjay. And I could not be happier! I love Jena and think she will be a hit with fans of the books.

Johanna, the Tribute with “a wicked ability to murder,” is a fan-favorite character, and the hiring of Jena, a serious actress with top-shelf fighting skills, sends a strong message about the filmmakers’ intentions to do right by the book and the fans. Jena is perfect for the role — when I was reading Catching Fire, I was personally imaging either Jena or Emily Browning in the role. Jena can convey both the vulnerability and the savagery that Johanna used to manipulate and then kill her fellow tributes and win her Games.

For a little taste of the kind of action chops Jena is bringing to Johanna, check out this short clip of Jena as Rocket from Sucker Punch:

Did you notice that little smile before Rocket stalked down the trench, and then how she wielded her pistol like a hatchet?
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