Entertainment News 7-28-11
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Editor, The Konformist
Steamshovelpress.com is back! New web content! New book product! New conference information! PLUS: a new, daily, twitterish quip: "Parapolitics Offhand!"
Now available on CD and through US Mail only: Popular Parapolitics, 219 pages, illustrated, of comentary on the nexus of parapolitics and popular culture. $15 post paid from Kenn Thomas, POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121.
Harry Potter: Jo's Other Ending
By Jo (J.K.) Rowling as told to Greg Palast and the Palast twins
19 July 2011
Some of you may recall that, years ago, when I lived in England, writing for The Guardian, when I shared the bestseller list with Jo Rowling (she at the pinnacle, me in the valley), we became buds through my twins' love for her astonishing work.
But Jo knows that I found the conclusion of her series a sorry let-down, a second-rate "Show Down at the OK Corral" for Wizards. In my opinion (and she does not at all agree), Jo was too distracted by a concern for how the ending would play on film.
I bugged her about it until she told me the "other" endings. Every author has them - and we all look over our old drafts, after publication, and say, "Damn! I should have used that version" - then we lock it away before someone sees it and agrees.
No, Jo wouldn't show me typed copies, but she told me a couple of "I could have done this" endings.
One of them knocked me over, and I have to share it. (Sorry Jo, that's the danger of befriending an investigative reporter - if you forget to use the magical words, "This is off the record.") I can understand, though, why she would put aside this quieter, yet far more harrowing, conclusion.
I wrote it down that night in October 2007. I don't claim that this is exactly word-for-word as she told it to me (Jo: please edit!) and I left out all the side stuff about me telling my oblivious kids, "You really should listen to this; years from now you'll want to say you heard this," and the minor mishap with my coffee.
But I just have to put it out here and hope that Jo and her publisher don't slam me with an Avada Kedavra curse.
I'll assume you've read the books - and if you haven't, for shame! - so I won't introduce this at all except to say that this alternative (and quite troubling) ending veers away from the printed and film versions just before Harry's final confrontation with The Dark Lord, Voldemort.
And please: If you want to say that I didn't get her voice and story details exactly, keep in mind that I'm working from mental notes - and that I'm no J.K. Rowling. But then, no one is.
To the Forbidden Forest
Harry marched toward the field where Voldemort waited with his pack of Dementors. Harry's scar burned brutally, saving him the pain of thinking too deeply about his decision, likely to bring him nothing but death.
What special evil, what deadly and devious spell had the Dark Lord prepared for Harry's destruction? Voldemort had hunted after Harry for more than a decade; doubtless Voldemort would arm himself with a special curse far more powerful and final than the Avada Kedavra which had failed to kill Harry as a child.
Harry was terribly right. The Dark Lord, in his clearing in the Forbidden Forest, was preparing a charm as devastating as Harry feared, and far more horrific. As Harry marched to this fated meeting, Voldemort passed his wand among the icy Dementors, commanding each to lay their Kiss upon it.
Voldemort, in those pained, lonely nights of his exile and recovery, had conceived of a way to hurl a Dementor's kiss from his wand, the kiss that would take away the soul of its victim forever. And now he would blast Harry with hundreds of them. Voldemort's reward would be greater than watching Harry's burial. He would have Harry frozen in place, Harry's living being encased for eternity at the moment of Harry's ultimate humiliation and defeat, a terrifying monument to Voldemort's victory for all to see for all time. Voldemort's joy rose with every Dementor's kiss to his wand.
Harry could feel their grave-like cold as he approached and the pull of their despair. It was hopeless, and he was helpless in the face of it. And he knew it.
But then, Harry felt the presence of a young man and woman, though he could not see them. These two ghosts lovingly held his body up and raised his spirit. It was, he was certain, the last remaining life-force of his parents, making one last sacrifice by joining him on his final journey. He allowed himself a moment of peaceful happiness, feeling them so close.
Then he stopped. Harry shivered with a deep chill of recognition. They were not his parents. They were Voldemort's: the young Tom Riddle and his bride who, for this occasion, had taken back her beautiful maid's countenance. They said, using no words, "Our dearest son, we will not allow you to be harmed."
Were their words for him? Or for Voldemort? Somehow, it didn't seem to matter - they seemed so kind when he needed nothing more at this moment than a parent's love.
Harry, and the two warm spirits becoming more visible, approached the edge of the swirling crowd of Voldemort's followers, who parted, preparing to give the victim an easy corridor to his doom.
Voldemort's wand had returned to his white, skeletal hand. The Dark Lord pointed it confidently to where Harry would surely emerge from the crowd, not yet to destroy Potter but to hold him while he prepared to give Harry an oration on the eternal punishment about to strike him.
Voldemort laughed when Harry stumbled through. But when the Dark Lord saw the specters of his parents, he howled as if cut in half. With his furious heart in flames, Voldemort immediately unleashed the deadly Kisses, bellowing, "Oppugno Mortimbessios!" And all the vile terrors of the Dementors, in an unstoppable flash from his wand, rushed toward Harry and the spirits at his side.
It was only a hundredth of a second for Voldemort's curse to reach Harry. But somehow the world seemed to slow down, the Earth ceased to rotate; all on the planet held still, though Harry was aware he was free to move. Harry had planned every shield charm for his defense, but all now were clearly useless. Harry found himself unable to do more than calmly bend to one knee and bow his head, preparing to accept the force of the blow and his death and end.
As he kneeled, in that quiet moment outside time, the two shadows flew from him toward Voldemort. And Voldemort changed. The Dementors' chill wind, and Time, moved backward; and there was Voldemort, growing to his younger, more potent, frightening self.
The curse struck Harry's scar, obliterating it, then, in a loud roar, he felt the crushing pain of his skull opening, and then the shrieking curse rushing from his head - back toward the wand that sent it.
As the curse turned back toward him, Voldemort continued to grow younger still, until he was a little child again with his mother and father at his side. When they realized the full force of Voldemort's own spell was about to strike him, his parents put their reassuring arms around their son to protect him from this ultimate blow.
And then it struck. And now the three entwined souls, Tom Riddle, his wife and young child, would remain forever entombed in that one moment, never able to leave.
And never wanting to.
Hogwarts AD 2130
The headmaster, his stringy white beard uncombed and his wrinkled, bald head topped by a drooping wizard's cap, looked with wistful gratitude at the empty picture frame he'd convinced the Ministry to put up, despite their reluctance. He knew he'd soon be residing in that little square etched with the name, "Harry Potter," separated from Albus Dumbledore's only by the portraits of Headmistresses McGonagall and Chang.
The old wizard could hear below the school abuzz with preparations for his 150th birthday. He shifted Ginny, a bird of paradise, to a perch nearer his desk. His wife, rather than grow old, had turned herself into this beautiful bird, but still insisted on giving un-birdlike advice. "Harry, dearest, you can't miss your own birthday party. And it's so lovely outside."
Indeed, the summer day had brought out scores of picnickers who had come to set their baskets and blankets out near the warm light cast by the living statue of the happy family with the little child. No one but the old headmaster knew who was encased in that glowing sphere. When the Dementors were released from the spell of Voldemort, they, and indeed every wizard excepting Harry and the shade of Albus, were cleansed of all memory of the Dark Lord. Now, after more than a century, curiosity about the family in the statue had long ago ceased. Harry had simply ordered a plaque placed there. It said only, "Riddles."
"I will go," he told his feathered wife, "but I have to keep an eye on the boy for a bit." Harry's great, great grandson, not yet able to walk, silently played on the rug with his chocolate frog. Then suddenly, in inexplicable anger, little Tom crushed the candy animal. Harry watched this, and knew the whole world would soon darken again for generations to come.
Investigative journalist Greg Palast's reports can be seen on BBC Television Newsnight or at www.GregPalast.com. Your thoughts on this other ending for the HP series welcome at the Greg Palast Facebook page. Palast's new book, Vultures' Picnic, will be published by Penguin USA in November 2011.
Family Guy Action Figures (Not Dolls!!!)
Get your hands on Quahog with new FAMILY GUY figures. Facebook fans enter code JSKWMTPK to get $5 off the 6-figure bundle pack, now available for pre-order. Learn more
Must-See HBO Documentary Exposes Myths Behind `Hot Coffee' Lawsuit And Tort Reform
July 2nd, 2011
Every time you purchase a cup of coffee that carries the warning "Coffee is Hot," you probably think about Stella Liebeck without even knowing it. She's the woman whose lawsuit against McDonald's has become the go-to parable for proponents of "tort reform."
The new must-see documentary Hot Coffee powerfully exposes the myths behind Stella's case, and tackles "tort reform" through the compelling stories of alleged rape victim Jamie Leigh Jones, persecuted state Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, and brain-damaged infant Colin Gourley.
The McDonald's coffee lawsuit has become pop folklore since the 1992 incident that started it all, but unlike most folk tales, Stella Liebeck's story began to be distorted immediately, and it wasn't through repetition, but by design. Everyone has probably made, or laughed at, a "hot coffee is hot!" joke at one time or another, but after you see this movie, you'll never laugh about it again. I don't want to spoil the film, so I will just say this: when the narrator asks people on the street if they've ever seen the extent of Stella's injuries, get your kids out of the room.
Hot Coffee also examines the story of Colin Gourley, who suffered significant brain damage at birth due to several medical errors, and whose parents were unable to collect what the jury awarded them for his care because of a legislative cap on damages. It goes on to tell the story of Oliver Diaz, a then-Mississippi Supreme Court Justice who was inundated with attack ads from outside groups, then removed from the bench, for three years, by federal corruption charges of which he was eventually cleared.
Finally, the film tells the compelling tale of Jamie Leigh Jones, the Halliburton/KBR employee who alleges she was drugged and brutally gang-raped by colleagues in Iraq, then imprisoned by armed KBR guards in a cargo container. For years, Halliburton invoked a mandatory arbitration clause in her contract to keep the case out of court. After you watch the film, read about the start of Jamie Leigh's long-delayed day in court, which began late last month.
Hot Coffee is more than just a compelling film. The issue of tort reform is something that I have been engaged with for a long time, dating back to my years as a health insurance consultant, but this film illuminates the subject in ways that were completely new to me. While some will dismiss the personal stories in the film as "manipulative," they serve to illustrate the true consequences behind pithy catch-phrases like "jackpot justice."
They also demonstrate the folly of cost arguments (that are factually unfounded, anyway) in restricting the rights of the people to seek civil redress. The campaign to demonize litigation has been so successful that people have forgotten that the civil courts are as integral to their protection as criminal courts, perhaps even more so. A single undeterred criminal is arguably not as dangerous as an undeterred reckless corporation, or an undeterred, careless doctor.
Whether you support tort reform or not (or even if you think it has something to do with fixing a pie), watch this film. Even if you think civil courts need to be reformed, this film will inform how you think that should be accomplished. There's also a bonus appearance by Mediaite founder Dan Abrams, for good measure.
It's airing on HBO, and is available On Demand.
YouTube Video of the Week: 4'33" for Piano
Thanks to Paul Kimball, here's a live version of John Cage's classic "4'33" for Piano" that's an extended 5:41...
Though displaying quasi-punk qualities, the Police was never a true punk band. Rather, they effortlessly mixed and matched elements of punk, ska, reggae and pop to create a very palatable rock sound that earned the three musicians numerous awards, worldwide fame and oodles upon oodles of money. Let's take a look back.
Drummer Steward Copeland founded the band in 1977 and recruited singer/bassist Sting and session guitarist Andy Summers to complete the trio. Their first album, Outlandos d'Amour, was a labor of love, lacking any semblance of budget or a record contract. Still, the album's single "Roxanne" proved more than catchy enough to earn the band a contract with A&M Records. The single also became a hit in both the UK and America, and the Police headed out on their first American tour.
The next album, Reggatta de Blanc, came in 1979, quickly followed by a world tour that included such far away destinations as India and Turkey. The album generated several hit singles, including the band's first #1 "Message in a Bottle" and the equally popular "Walking on the Moon." The strangely named Zenyatta Mondatta came at the end of 1980, delivering the Police's first American breakthrough hit with "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da." No one knew what it meant but everyone really liked it, paving the way for the controversial single "Don't Stand So Close To Me." The song and its music video told the story of the inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student, a story made all the creepier by the fact that Sting had once been a schoolteacher. The Grammy folks didn't seem to mind that coincidence and named the song Best Rock Vocal Performance.
Things were truly on a roll for the Police, but especially for Sting, who enjoyed special attention as the band's handsome and brooding front man. In the early 80s, he tried his hand at acting, in The Who's rock opera film Quadrophenia and other movies including Dune, Brimstone and Treacle.
Ghost in the Machine came out in 1981 and included some of the band's best known songs, like "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic," "Spirits in the Material World" and "Invisible Sun." After a brief hiatus to pursue solo projects, the Police returned with Synchronicity, widely regarded as their best effort. The album reached the #1 spot and featured enduring 80s classics "Every Breath You Take" and "Wrapped Around Your Finger."
That was to be their last album, as the band had burned brightly, but all too briefly. There were also personal and artistic conflicts that drove the trio apart, though they never made the split official. Each member went on his merry way, a move that made Sting a superstar with a hugely successful solo career.
In 2007, the ex-Police members surprised their fans with the announcement of a reunion tour, a multi-country affair that sold out venues everywhere the band played. They all agreed that this would be the end of Police togetherness but in the music business, never often means maybe.
Humor: Retro Comic Book Artwork of the Week
Holy Too Much Information, Batman!!!
Charlie Sheen: Still Winning!!!
Press release via Deadline.com:
Los Angeles, July 18, 2011 Former Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen is planning his return to series television in Anger Management, a new sitcom loosely based on Revolution Studios' 2003 hit comedy feature of the same name. Lionsgate-owned Debmar-Mercury, headed by Co-Presidents Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, will distribute the series that will be produced by Lionsgate Television, led by Television Group President Kevin Beggs and COO Sandra Stern; Joe Roth and Revolution Studios' Vince Totino; Sheen manager Mark Burg's production company, Evolution Management; and Robert Maron.
Sheen will retain a significant ownership stake in the series inspired by the film, in which a mild-mannered, non-confrontational man is ordered to attend group anger management sessions led by a therapist who could probably use some anger management himself.
"I chose Anger Management because, while it might be a big stretch for me to play a guy with serious anger management issues, I think it is a great concept," Sheen said. "It also provides me with real ownership in the series, a certain amount of creative control and the chance to be back in business with one of my favorite movie producers of all time, Joe Roth."
Roth and Sheen have worked together on five features, including Major League, Young Guns and Three Musketeers.
"Who better than Charlie Sheen to tackle Anger Management," Roth said. "With Charlie's incredible talent and comedic gifts, he remains the leading man of TV sitcoms. I'm excited to collaborate with him once again."
Roth is also currently working with Lionsgate's Debmar-Mercury and Ice Cube's Cube Vision on the TBS hit Are We There Yet? It is one of three hugely successful sitcoms (along with Tyler Perry's House of Payne and Meet The Browns) that are the result of a unique sitcom business model created by Marcus and Bernstein.
Marcus and Bernstein said in a joint statement, "Our sitcom model is all about building well-known brands around extraordinary talents like Charlie that, thanks to their large profit participation, are highly motivated to succeed. It's not every day you can roll out a sitcom featuring the star of the biggest TV comedy of the past decade."
"We always look for series ideas that are noisy, accessible and relevant," said Lionsgate's Kevin Beggs. "Charlie Sheen in Anger Management takes those criteria to a whole new level and we are thrilled to be in business with him, Evolution, Debmar-Mercury and Revolution Studios on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With a star of Charlie's magnitude, a producer as venerable as Joe Roth and a branded property as compelling as Anger Management, this show has unique upside while still adhering to our disciplined business model."
Said Burg, one of the creative forces behind Lionsgate's SAW franchise, the most popular long-running horror franchise of all time, and a former executive producer of Two and a Half Men, "We have been fielding numerous offers for Charlie since his departure from Two and a Half Men, but none were as creatively and financially compelling as the package that Lionsgate, Debmar-Mercury, and Revolution presented us with Anger Management."
The deal was negotiated on behalf of Debmar-Mercury and Lionsgate by Sandra Stern. Sheen was represented by Jake Bloom and Leigh Brecheen of Bloom, Hergott, Diemer, Rosenthal, Laviolette & Feldman. Revolution and Joe Roth were represented by Matt Johnson of Ziffren Brittenham LLP.
Charlie Sheen, who has starred in more than 40 feature films, catapulted to fame in such critical and commercial hits as Platoon and Wall Street. His other feature film credits include Major League, Red Dawn, Lucas, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Eight Men Out, Young Guns, Hot Shots!, Hot Shots! Part Deux, The Three Musketeers, The Chase, Money Talks, Being John Malkovich, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4 and The Big Bounce. He also appeared in the television movies Rated X and Good Advice.
Sheen became known to television audiences through his Golden Globe Award-winning lead role in Spin City. In 2003, Sheen was cast as Charlie Harper in the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, which was loosely based on Sheen's bad boy image. The role garnered him an ALMA Award as well as three Emmy Award and two Golden Globe Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.
In 2011, Sheen set a new Guinness World Record for Twitter as the "Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers," adding an average of 129,000 new followers per day. On March 10, 2011, Sheen announced a 22-date nationwide tour, "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option," which kicked off in Detroit on April 2. The tour sold out in 18 minutes, a Ticketmaster record.
THE VEGAS ROCKS! MAGAZINE AWARDS 2011
Anyone who is in Las Vegas on August 21st, check out the Vegas Rocks! 2011 Magazine Awards, to be held at the Las Vegas Hilton. Vince Neil of Motley Crue will be receiving a lifetime achievement award:
I'll be there supporting my pals Justin & Julian of the band Redeemer, up for best Vegas hard rock band. (You can find how to vote for them at the above page.) You can hear their music at their MySpace page:
Marilyn Monroe Porno Flick
Move over, Pam Anderson, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, the biggest celebrity porn video of them all is allegedly of Marilyn Monroe:
A Spanish collector plans to auction what he claims is a newly discovered 8-mm version of a film purportedly showing Marilyn Monroe having sex when she was still an underage actress known as Norma Jean Baker.
A Marilyn Monroe expert, however, says the actress in the film is someone else, considerably heavier and less feminine than the legendary film star.
"That's not Marilyn. The chin is not the same, the lips are not the same, the teeth are not the same," said Scott Fortner, who has a sizeable collection of Monroe memorabilia, including a belt he said proves how much more petite she was. "Marilyn was a tiny little thing. And I know that for a fact. I own her clothing."
Collector Mikel Barsa said in an interview Wednesday that he wants at least $500,000 for the sexually explicit 6½-minute, grainy black-and-white film, which he says was made before 1947, when Monroe was not yet 21...
"People with romantic notions have denied that it's Marilyn Monroe, and have invented stories" to raise doubts about the film, Barsa said in his Buenos Aires office, which is lined with pictures from his days as a concert promoter. "This film shows the real Marilyn Monroe it was only later that the studios discovered her and transformed her."
The face of the woman in the film looks considerably different from the Monroe who emerged later as a star, but more similar to the Monroe seen in one of her first movies, 1949's "Love Happy," which shows the actress before she lost weight, added a beauty spot on her left cheek and became one of Hollywood's most enduring stars...
A variety of sexually explicit films and pictures have been attributed to Monroe over the years, fostering a long and unresolved debate.
"In the Marilyn community, people have debated this for years and years and for the most part it's widely believed that this is not her," Fortner said.
Still, even Fortner said Monroe's image changed considerably as she became a star that she had some plastic surgery, learned how to hold her face differently in modeling school and adopted a mole on her left cheek. "I actually think it moved from time to time," Fortner said...
Marilyn Monroe alleged sex film surfaces
July 21, 2011