Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anti-Apartheid Writer Penning DreamWorks MLK Biopic

Press release from Business Wire:

Oscar Winner Ronald Harwood to Write Martin Luther King, Jr. Story for DreamWorks Studios

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Acclaimed playwright and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood will write the screenplay for DreamWorks Studios’ Martin Luther King, Jr. bio-pic, it was announced today by Mark Sourian and Holly Bario, Co-Presidents of Production for the studio. As previously announced, Steven Spielberg, Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones will produce the film about the renowned civil rights leader.

“It is so gratifying for all of us at DreamWorks Studios to have a writer as respected and honored as Ronald Harwood to write the screenplay for our Martin Luther King film”

The DreamWorks film will be the first theatrical motion picture to be authorized by The King Estate to utilize the intellectual property of Dr. King to create the definitive portrait of his life. Dr. King copyrighted his speeches, books, and famous works during his lifetime.

“It is so gratifying for all of us at DreamWorks Studios to have a writer as respected and honored as Ronald Harwood to write the screenplay for our Martin Luther King film,” said Mark Sourian and Holly Bario. “His record of achievements makes him particularly suited to portraying this deeply personal story against the background of such a turbulent time.”

One of the world's most critically celebrated contemporary playwrights and screenwriters, the Oscar-winning Harwood brings to this much-anticipated project a career-long fascination with themes surrounding race, conscience and moral choices. Harwood is equally renowned for his revealing recreations of history, as in his Academy Award-winning screenplay for "The Pianist." He also received Oscar nominations for The Dresser, which lifted the curtain on backstage life in a World War II theatre, and for adapting the non-fiction tale of human transcendence, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. A native of South Africa, he has written extensively about apartheid, including the films Mandela, written while the future South African leader was still in prison, and an adaptation of Alan Paton's powerful classic, Cry The Beloved Country. He has also penned two anti-apartheid novels and two anti-apartheid plays (Tramway Road, Another Time.)

Harwood's diverse screen work, which often has simultaneously brought the past to life and enduring issues of human responsibility to the fore, further includes the Soviet gulag drama One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; Taking Sides, the screen adaptation of his play about a conductor in Nazi Germany; and the W. Somerset Maugham story of 1930s revenge, Being Julia. These themes were also at the heart of his 2008 stage revival of "Taking Sides," which was paired with his newest play, "Collaboration," about the conduct of composer Richard Strauss during the Third Reich, in a popular and acclaimed run in London's West End.

Harwood says of his approach to Dr. King's life and impact: "I will not say anything about my approach to this screenplay except to say what I always say: 'I will do my utmost to be true to truth.'"

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929. He became a civil rights activist early in his career as a pastor. He led the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957. His pioneering efforts to deliver racial equality through civil disobedience and other non-violent means led to the March on Washington in 1963, at which he delivered his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1964 he became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. Dr. King was assassinated in April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 39.

About DreamWorks Studios:
DreamWorks Studios ( is a motion picture company led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider in partnership with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The new company is a continuation of DreamWorks Studios which was formed in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. The company expects to put into production 5 to 6 films per year.

DreamWorks Studios can be found on Twitter at [END]

Avatar Beats Angry Mel Gibson Flick at Weekend Box Office

Box Office Estimates (U.S.) for the weekend of January 29 - 31, 2010

1 Avatar 20th Century Fox $30,000,000

2 Edge of Darkness Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution $17,120,000

3 When in Rome Walt Disney Studios Distribution $12,065,000

4 Tooth Fairy 20th Century Fox Distribution $10,000,000

5 The Book of Eli Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution $8,770,000

6 Legion Sony Pictures Releasing $6,800,000

7 The Lovely Bones Paramount Pictures $4,735,000

8 Sherlock Holmes Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution $4,510,000

9 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel 20th Century Fox Distribution $4,000,000

10 It's Complicated Universal Pictures $3,720,000 [END]

Go to Box Office Mojo report for more details.

Review: Hughes Brothers Made a Documentary Classic with "American Pimp"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 25 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

American Pimp (1999)
Running time: 87 minutes; MPAA – R for pervasive sexual content including dialogue, strong language, and some drug related material
DIRECTORS: The Hughes Brothers (Allen and Albert)
PRODUCERS: Kevin J. Messick and the Hughes Brothers.
EDITOR: Doug Pray with Dan Lebental
Black Reel Awards nominee


The Hughes brothers are perhaps the most politically incorrect African American filmmakers as seen in their work, Menace II Society and Dead Presidents. They solidify their positions as the infante terribles of “black cinema” with their documentary film, American Pimp. It’s about the pimps, men (mostly black men in this film) who sell the bodies of women to other men for sexual intercourse.

In this study of “pimpdom,” street pimps discuss their lives and work: getting started, influences, technique, their style, handling their ho’s (whores, prostitutes), making money, pimp philosophy or their personal philosophy. Listening to the pimps, the viewers might get the idea that the Hughes just let the pimps take control of the film. The brothers do allow them total freedom to express themselves, and that’s what makes the film so bracing. From one pimp after another, the viewer gets a wall of information dressed in slang, profanity, and politically incorrect speech. It’s like the Hughes gave them the ultimate freedom in which to sell themselves, their lives, and their ideology.

Still, the Hughes control the tone of this film. They use film footage to illustrate some myths about pimps and prostitution, and they include a lot of personal photographs from the “archives” of the pimps. The Hughes frequently reference blaxtiploitation films, and for many of the pimps, so-called black exploitation films are how-to-manuals for pimps, and for some, maybe the films merge to become some kind of holy text. The Hughes also use the camera to really give the viewer a sense of the environment of the pimps, or players, as they like to call themselves. Bringing in the pimps’ surroundings gives the film an ambience so that the movie is more than just talking heads.

This film will offend many viewers. It’s non-judgmental when it comes to the pimps, and the Hughes really allow the pimps to by hyper verbal, to speak their minds even in the foulest terms. The filmmakers don’t seek to judge them; they leave that to the audience. American Pimp is a document about how the pimps see themselves, not really about how others see them, although the film features many ho’s talking about pimps and, to a lesser extent, their own lives.

I really like this movie, and I’ve seen it several times. I didn’t think I’d like it. Sometimes I laugh, and sometimes I find some of the material to be pretty rank. However, I was kind of sad when it ended. I was really curious about a lot of these men’s futures. I think most people who really like documentaries will be fascinated and, maybe, repulsed by this, but I think American Pimp is a testament to the power of film to communicate everything from the broadest cultures to the smallest, ugly corners of human life, both of which have been with us forever. You might not like that this film exists because you think it “glorifies” pimps, but you can’t deny the blunt force of its story.

8 of 10


Sam Worthington to Play Dracula

Latino Review first reported and Entertainment Weekly confirmed it; Sam Worthington is negogiating with Universal Pictures to star in the planned-2011 tent poll movie, "Dracula: Year Zero."  Directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City; I, Robot), the film traces Dracula's roots.

I love me some Sam Worthington, who got really hot this past year because of Terminator: Salvation and (of course) Avatar.  But my initial reaction is that this Dracula movie is a joke.  I have a feeling that this will be in the vein of Van Helsing, which was a loud, obnoxious, mediocre movie.

Kathryn Bigelow Makes History; Oh Snap!

Kathryn Bigelow made history last night by becoming the first woman to win the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film, for The Hurt Locker.  Obviously, a woman winning isn't the only shocker.  Bigelow won the award intead of James Cameron for his behemoth hit, Avatar.  Cameron had momentum after winning a Golden Globe for directing Avatar just two weeks ago.

Since the DGA Awards began in 1948, only six times has the DGA winner for feature film directing not gone on to win the Oscar for Best Director.  The last time this happened was in 2002 when Rob Marshall won the DGA Award for Chicago, but Roman Polanski won the Oscar for The Pianist.

Here's the press release from the DGA for last night's awards:

Press release from the Directors Guild of America:

Kathryn Bigelow wins DGA Feature Film Award for The Hurt Locker. Other winners of 2009 DGA Awards announced. (January 31, 2010)

LOS ANGELES, CA: The winners of the 2009 Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement Awards and the recipients of the Guild's 2010 Career Achievement Awards were announced tonight during the 62nd Annual DGA Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles . Kathryn Bigelow won the DGA's Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for The Hurt Locker.

Following the welcome by DGA President Taylor Hackford to an audience of more than 1,600 guests, director/actor Carl Reiner hosted the ceremony.

Presenters included (in show order): Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Julie Bowen (Modern Family), Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker), Lea Michele and Matthew Morrison (Glee), DGA Board Member Jesus Trevino, Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington (Avatar), Jodie Foster (The Beaver), DGA Board Member Donald Petrie, Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire), President and CEO of Disney Robert Iger, Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Anna Kendrick and Jason Bateman (Up In The Air), Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds), DGA Secretary/Treasurer Gil Cates, Robert Zemeckis (A Christmas Carol), Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds), Jane Alexander (Terminator Salvation), DGA President Taylor Hackford, and 2008 DGA Feature Film Award winner Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire).

The DGA's Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film has traditionally served as a near-perfect barometer for the Academy Award for Best Director. Only six times since the DGA Award's inception in 1948 has the winner not gone on to receive the Academy Award for Best Director.

This is Ms. Bigelow's first DGA Feature Film Award. [END]

Here is a list of the 2010 Director's Guild of America winners:

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film:
The Hurt Locker (Summit Entertainment)

Ms. Bigelow's Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Tony Mark
First Assistant Director: David Ticotin
First Assistant Director (Canadian Unit): Lee Cleary

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Feature Documentary
Winner: Louie Psihoyos, "The Cove"

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Movie for Television
Winner: Michael Sucsy, "Grey Gardens"

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Dramatic Series Night
Winner: Lesli Linka Glatter, "Mad Men," "Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Comedy Series
Winner: Jason Winer, "Modern Family," Pilot

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Musical Variety program
Winner: Don Mischner, "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration"

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Reality Program
Winner: Craig Borders, "Build It Bigger Season 3": "Hong Kong Bridge"

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction of a Daytime Serial
Winner: Christopher Goutman, "As The World Turns," "Once Upon A Time"

DGA Award for Outstanding Direction in Commercials
Winner: Tom Kuntz - Eyebrows, Cadbury; Tailor, Skittles; Scents For Gents, Old Spice; Tips, Career Builder

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Must be Able to Portray Caucasian

Paramount Pictures is casting the next Coen Brothers movie, entitled "True Grit."  They are looking for a 12 to 16 year old girl to play the scappy lead, Mattie.  Contact if you are able to play a white girl.  I got a press release about this movie, and there is an actual line in it that says, "Must be able to portray caucasian."

James Cameron Inspires George Lucas - A Bits & Bites Extra

According to Entertaiment Gather, George Lucas says that after seeing Avatar, its success with 3D technology has him thinking about at least one future Star Wars film in 3D.  Yea, me!


Review: Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto Rev Up "Truck Turner"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 172 (of 2004) by Leroy Douresseaux

Truck Turner (1974)
Running time: 91 minutes
DIRECTOR: Jonathan Kaplan
WRITERS: Michael Allin and Oscar Williams (from a story by Jerry Wilkes)
PRODUCERS: Paul M. Heller and Fred Weintraub
EDITOR: Michael Kahn


Starring: Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto, Alan Weeks, Annazette Chase, Nichelle Nichols, Sam Laws, Paul Harris, John Kramer, and Scatman Crothers

With its whacked-out violence, splashy sex, foul language, preening ho’s, and funky costumes, Truck Turner is one my best experiences with so-called blaxploitation films. The early Jonathan Kaplan (The Accused, in which he directed Jodie Foster to her first Oscar) directorial effort stars Isaac Hayes as Truck Turner. Turner is a bounty hunter who with his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks) is tracking a vicious and powerful pimp named Gator (Paul Harris). Turner kills Gator after an extended chase scene and huge shootout. Driven by revenge, Gator’s main squeeze, Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols), puts a hit out on Truck. After Truck easily dusts off the hit squad, Dorinda convinces Gator’s old rival and nemesis, Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto), to go after Truck in what turns out to be a bloody finale.

Kaplan directed a breezy and smoothly moving, violent action feature that would fit right in with current hyper-kinetic action flicks. Michael Kahn, who would go onto to be Steven Spielberg’s editor-of-choice and win three Oscars for editing Spielberg films, showed why he is so highly respected and graced with so many awards and nominations. Kahn’s editing created the sense of urgency, desperation, danger, and fear that was necessary to sell this particular kind of urban thriller. He actually raised the sense of looming disaster that hides around every corner in the urban setting.

The stars of this show, however, were the stars. Isaac Hayes gave a great performance as the kind of relentless and destructive protagonist that Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Harrison Ford would become so famous and so wealthy for playing. His Truck Turner is every bit the unstoppable force that the Arnold’s Terminator is. Hayes also provided the cool score for this film. Nichelle Nichols bold, foul-mouthed, Dorinda alone is worth the cost of admission, especially since we get to see her brick house form squeezed into her tight and sexy futuristic ho outfits. Yaphet Kotto is always a welcome sight, and he was so smooth and sensible that it’s almost a shame that Harvard Blue wasn’t the star.

7 of 10


New People Anime and Sci-Fi Flicks for February

Press release from VIZ Media:


Theatre Scheduled To Present A DEATH NOTE Film Marathon, 20th CENTURY BOYS DVD Release Party And A GURREN LAGANN Encore Double Feature

VIZ Cinema, the nation’s first and only movie theatre dedicated to Japanese film, gives Bay Area anime, sci-fi and pop culture fans a variety of special movie events to look forward to throughout February.

VIZ Cinema leads off with Death Note movie marathon on Saturday, January 30th in support of the Animation On Display convention (January 30th–31st) taking place at the nearby Hotel Kabuki. On February 9th, the theatre will screen 20th Century Boys 2: The Last Hope to celebrate the release of the second DVD of the exciting live-action film trilogy from VIZ Pictures. Rounding out the month’s anime-related events will be an encore double-feature presentation of Gurren Lagann: The Movie 1 & 2 – for one night only – on Sunday February 21st. VIZ Cinema offers special combo tickets for $15.00 for the Death Note and Gurren Lagann double-feature showings. Preview trailers and screening times for all films are available at:

Saturday, January 30th, 7:30pm

Sample the action and suspense of the live-action films based on the bestselling supernatural mystery manga that sold over 15 million copies! The story begins when ace student Light Yagami finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue “Shinigami” death god named Ryuk. Any human whose name is written in the notebook will die. Upset with the justice system, Light takes matters into his own hands and vows to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of all evil. Special discount combo tickets available for $15.00 for films 1 & 2! Regular admission is $10.00 when purchased separately. Animation On Display attendees receive $2.00 off the regular price with attendee badges. No additional discount will apply to $15.00 combo tickets.

Saturday, January 30th, 10:00pm

Death Note 2: The Last Name begins on the heels of the first movie as Light Yagami joins the investigation team in pursuit of the serial killer known as “Kira.” While L still strongly suspects that Light is “Kira,” Light tries to uncover L’s real name so he can kill him with his Death Note. But things get complicated when a new rash of murders all around the world take place, with a “Second Kira” claiming responsibility. Light learns the identity of the Second Kira and suggests they join forces to get rid of L. Will L be able to catch “Kira” before he is killed?

Tuesday, February 9th 7:30pm

Don’t miss the exclusive event preceding the long-awaited DVD release of 20th Century Boys 2 from VIZ Pictures. It’s now 2015, and Friend rules a disturbing new world. Kenji’s niece, Kanna, is now in high school and her textbook contains a fabricated story about him being the terrorist behind the horrific events of 2000. Kanna, knowing the truth, openly resents this, and as a result she is marked as a problem child and sent to Friend Land, a facility where people with rebellious anti-Friend behavior are re-educated. There Kanna learns a crucial secret about Friend. Tickets for this special screening are $25.00 and will include a copy of the 20th Century Boys 2 DVD, a postcard, and NEW PEOPLE pin buttons to all who attend. $10.00 tickets are also available for regular admission.

Gurren Lagann: The Movie ~ Childhood’s End
Sunday, February 21st 5:00pm

Based on the hit animated television series, this sci-fi feature takes place in a fictional future in which human beings have been forced to live in closed-off underground villages. Kamina and Simon are constrained by the limits imposed by the village elder. Yet, all this will change when Simon stumbles across a fantastic mechanized device – just as the village’s peace is broken by a violent intrusion. Special discount combo ticket is now available for $15.00 to watch films 1 & 2.

Gurren Lagann: The Movie 2 ~ The Lights In The Sky Are Stars
Sunday, February 21st 7:30pm

Overcoming the loss of loved ones, Simon survived mortal combat with the Beastmen leader Lordgenome. Seven years later, humans have returned to the surface to build a flourishing civilization. But, the peaceful times don’t last forever as humans begin developing beyond their world into outer space and encounter an unknown enemy.

VIZ Cinema is the nation’s first movie theatre devoted exclusively to Japanese film and anime. The 143-seat subterranean theatre is located in the basement of the NEW PEOPLE building and features plush seating, digital as well as 35mm projection, and a THX®-certified sound system. Tickets and schedules are available at [END]

Saw 3D versus Paranormal Activity 2? - Negromancer News Bits and Bites Extra

Mike Fleming at Deadline Hollywood writes about what looks like the beginning of a Lionsgate vs. Paramount Pictures war, with the Saw franchise and a Paranormal Activity sequel as the soldiers.

Review: Superb "Baadasssss" Recounts Landmark Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 185 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Baadasssss! (2004)
First released as How to Get the Man’s Foot Outta Your Ass (2003)
Running time: 108 minutes; MPAA – R for pervasive language and some strong sexuality/nudity
WRITERS: Mario Van Peebles and Dan Haggerty (from the book by Melvin Van Peebles)
EDITORS: Nneka Goforth and Anthony Miller

DRAMA with elements of a documentary

Starring: Mario Van Peebles, Joy Bryant, T.K. Carter, Terry Crews, Ossie Davis, David Alan Grier, Nia Long, Paul Rodriguez, Saul Rubinek, Vincent Schiavelli, Khelo Thomas, Rainn Wilson, Len Lesser, Sally Struthers, Adam West, Ralph Martin, Robert Peters, Khalil Kain, and John Singleton

Baadasssss! is writer/director/actor Mario Van Peebles quasi-documentary/part tribute film dramatization of his father, Melvin Van Peebles’ struggle to direct and get distribution for his quintessential blaxploitation flick, Sweet Sweetback Baadasssss Song. Mario Van Peebles seamlessly weaves a film that is both a riveting drama and a searing document and testimony of the struggle of the black artist to get his work to black people, in particularly black filmmakers, who still struggle (though not as much as Melvin Van Peebles did in the early 70’s) to get black visions before not only a black audience, but all filmgoers.

Maybe what makes the film really get into the soul of the viewer is that the co-writer, director, and producer, Mario, is playing his father Melvin Van Peebles. Mario did play a part in the Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, so his memories do color the film’s recollection of history. However, Van Peebles seems able to view his father’s artistic and commercial struggles as a filmmaker because Mario has also struggled to get his directorial vision on film. The work, as both Mario’s own film and the movie about his father’s trials on his own film, makes Baadasssss! double personal to Mario. Thus, Baadasssss! is both film as the history of filmmaking and a film about filmmaking, and it does both of them quite well.

Mario, however, like his father, didn’t make a film alone, and though Mario conveys the intensity of the filmmaker’s struggle with a bravura performance, the supporting cast expertly creates an atmosphere of contention, support, financial and logistical chaos that makes the version of Melvin’s war that Mario puts on film seem so damn real. Standouts include David Alan Grier, Joy Bryant, Rainn Wilson, and Khelo Thomas as young Mario Van Peebles.

A film of such powerful inspirational force, Baadasssss! is a must see for fans of movie history in general and of African-American cinema, in particular. Most of all it’s a perfect portrayal of an artist going through the fire for his work.

10 of 10


De Niro, Daniels to Unite on Civil Rights Film

In her blog, Deadline: Hollywood, Nikki Finke’s is reporting that Robert De Niro is set to star in Lee Daniels' next film, “Selma.” Daniels’ most recent film is Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire, for which he earned a Directors Guild of America nomination. Daniels also produced Halle Berry's Oscar winning movie, Monsters Ball, and directed Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Helen Mirren in the 2006 drama, Shadowboxer.

De Niro, a two-time Oscar winner (Godfather II, Raging Bull), will play Alabama Gov. George Wallace in the civil rights era film. Wallace’s unwillingness to give blacks their rights even while the rest of the country started to dissolve segregation, lead to three famous marches, led by Martin Luther King, Jr., between Selma and Montgomery, Alabama.

Daniels told's Edward Douglas in October. "It's a snapshot of the march. It's really Lyndon Johnson's story. Martin Luther King is a part of it, but it's really the arc of a man that starts out as a racist who is forced to look at himself in the mirror and then ultimately side with King. It's really a journey of a white cat and how he sneers at tradition."

The main focus of Finke’s piece at Deadline: Hollywood is about switching talent agencies. The focus of Douglas’ piece is about Daniels’ attempts to make a film based upon the musical Miss Saigon. Thanks to AOL’s Black Voice Movies for the heads up.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Indie Superhero "Hero Tomorrow" on DVD in February

From Business Wire:

‘Hero Tomorrow’: First Time Writer-Director Ted Sikora’s DIY Punk Rock Version of the Big Budget Superhero Film is a Worldwide Film Festival Hit

This Trippy Comic Shop Romance With A Superhero Twist Made Its World Premiere At Comic Con International And Has Wowed Audiences Everywhere From New York And Montreal To Rome, Santa Fe And Sydney

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hey, superhero film fans, listen up—the genre that you love is no longer the exclusive domain of the corporate studio culture! With the worldwide festival success and DVD release of first time director Ted Sikora’s quirky and compelling, DIY Indie film Hero Tomorrow, it’s now anyone’s ballgame.

A trippy comic shop romance with a superhero twist, the film was conceived, written and produced by Sikora and Milo Miller, who thought it would be cool to try a new spin on the superhero genre and came up with a comically dark new idea: Spidey meets Taxi Driver.

The result of this labor of love by these two lifetime comic book readers and Sikora’s brother Kurt (co-director of photography and associate producer) can be summed up in a tagline on the film’s multi-media website: “From the suburban jungles of Cleveland comes the most TEMERARIOUS crime fighter of all! It’s the punk rock version of the big budget superhero film.”

For Ted Sikora and Miller, the world premiere of “Hero Tomorrow” at Comic Con International in San Diego was a surreal dream come true. It was the only narrative feature selected in the group of 50 films and G4 Network’s “Attack Of The Show” ran clips when critic Chris Gore included the film in his “cream of the crop” picks at the event.

The film’s been a hit everywhere, from Sikora and Miller’s hometown of Cleveland (two jam-packed showings at the Cleveland International Film Festival), and New York (Comic Con 2009, the only indie narrative feature film shown) to Santa Fe, Rome and Sydney, where it was one of ten feature films from around the world shown at the Fantastic Planet Film Festival.

The DVD, which has over four hours of material, is available for purchase on the film’s website and One of the first films to get a deal on iTunes without a major distributor, “Hero Tomorrow” will be available on the site for purchase and downloading on February 16 [END]

Jamie Foxx and T-Pain Join Slash and Doug E. Fresh for Grammy Performance

GRAMMY® Nominees Jamie Foxx and T-Pain to Perform with Slash and Doug E. Fresh

Nominees Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne in a Special Performance with Travis Barker

Special Les Paul Tribute to Feature Jeff Beck and Imelda May

Cast of "American Idiot" to Perform with Green Day

Roberta Flack, Elton John, and Jennifer Nettles Added to Stellar Lineup for 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards

Simon Baker, Stephen Colbert, Alice Cooper, Sheryl Crow, Kaley Cuoco, Placido Domingo, Robert Downey Jr., Wyclef Jean, Juanes, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Jennifer Lopez, Lea Michelle, Chris O'Donnell, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, Ryan Seacrest, Seal, Quentin Tarantino, and Keith Urban Are Latest Presenters Announced for Music's Biggest Night® Jan. 31 Only on CBS

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Current GRAMMY® nominees Jamie Foxx and T-Pain with Slash and Doug E. Fresh; nominees Drake, Eminem, and Lil Wayne with Travis Barker; a special tribute to guitar virtuoso Les Paul featuring Jeff Beck and Imelda May; the cast of "American Idiot" appearing with Green Day; four-time GRAMMY® winner Roberta Flack; five-time GRAMMY winner Elton John; and three-time GRAMMY winner Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland all will perform on the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards. Actor Simon Baker ("The Mentalist"), comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert, rock legend Alice Cooper, nine-time GRAMMY winner Sheryl Crow, actress Kaley Cuoco ("The Big Bang Theory"), seven-time GRAMMY and three-time Latin GRAMMY® winner Placido Domingo, actor Robert Downey Jr., three-time GRAMMY winner Wyclef Jean, GRAMMY and 17-time Latin GRAMMY winner Juanes, country artist Miranda Lambert, six-time GRAMMY winner John Legend, actress/singer Jennifer Lopez, actress/singer Lea Michelle ("Glee"), actor Chris O'Donnell ("NCIS: Los Angeles"), pop singer Katy Perry, four-time GRAMMY winner Lionel Richie, TV and radio host Ryan Seacrest, four-time GRAMMY winner Seal, Academy Award®-winning writer/director Quentin Tarantino, and two-time GRAMMY winner Keith Urban are the latest presenters announced for Music's Biggest Night®.

The music industry's premier event will take place live on Sunday, Jan. 31, at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast in HDTV and 5.1 Surround Sound on the CBS Television Network from 8 – 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The show also will be supported on radio via Westwood One worldwide, and covered online at and, and on YouTube at For GRAMMY coverage, updates and breaking news, please visit The Recording Academy®'s social networks on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter:,, and

Previously announced performers include Beyoncé; the Black Eyed Peas; Bon Jovi; the Dave Matthews Band; Green Day; Lady Antebellum; Lady Gaga; Maxwell; P!nk; Taylor Swift; the Zac Brown Band; Celine Dion, Jennifer Hudson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood, and Usher in a special 3-D GRAMMY tribute to Michael Jackson; and Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli in a special fund-raising segment for Haitian relief. Previously announced presenters include actress Kristen Bell, pop/R&B singer Justin Bieber, actor Jeff Bridges, pop singer and actress Miley Cyrus, actor Josh Duhamel, pop sensation the Jonas Brothers, nine-time GRAMMY winner Norah Jones, pop singer/songwriter Ke$ha, two-time GRAMMY winner LL Cool J, GRAMMY winner and three-time Latin GRAMMY® winner Ricky Martin, 10-time GRAMMY and three-time Latin GRAMMY winner Carlos Santana, and nine-time GRAMMY winner Ringo Starr.

T-Pain and Keith Urban each have four nominations: T-Pain with Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for "Blame It" (with Jamie Foxx), Best R&B Song for "Blame It" (with James T. Brown, John Conte Jr., Jamie Foxx, Christopher Henderson, Brandon R. Melanchon, Breyon Prescott & Nathan L. Walker), Best Contemporary R&B Album for Thr33 Ringz, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "I'm On A Boat" (with The Lonely Island); and Keith Urban with Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Sweet Thing," Best Country Collaboration With Vocals for "Start A Band" (with Brad Paisley), Best Country Album for Defying Gravity, and Best Long Form Music Video for Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy World Tour Live.

Jamie Foxx and nine-time GRAMMY winner Eminem are each up for three awards: Foxx with Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals for "Blame It" (with T-Pain), Best R&B Song for "Blame It" (with James T. Brown, John Conte Jr., Christopher Henderson, Brandon R. Melanchon, Breyon Prescott, T-Pain & Nathan L. Walker), and Best Contemporary R&B Album for Intuition; and Eminem with Best Rap Solo Performance for "Beautiful," Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group for "Crack A Bottle" (with Dr. Dre & 50 Cent), and Best Rap Album for Relapse.

Drake has two nods: Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song for "Best I Ever Had" (the latter nomination with D. Hamilton & M. Samuels).

Four-time GRAMMY winner Jeff Beck, Stephen Colbert, Katy Perry, and Seal are each nominated: Beck for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "A Day In The Life," Colbert for Best Comedy Album for A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift Of All!, Perry for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Hot N Cold," and Seal for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "If You Don't Know Me By Now."

So that viewers at home can enjoy the unique 3-D tribute to Jackson, CBS and Target have partnered to provide millions of free 3-D GRAMMY Glasses. From Sunday, Jan. 24, through Sunday, Jan. 31, Target stores nationwide will exclusively offer these 3-D GRAMMY Glasses so that fans have the opportunity to see the film that was very personal to Jackson. Additionally, the audience at STAPLES Center will share the 3-D experience, wearing the same glasses as those being worn by viewers at home.

Blige's and Bocelli's once-in-a-lifetime performance (audio and video) of the Simon & Garfunkel classic "Bridge Over Troubled Water" will be made available for download at following the telecast, and all proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, benefiting ongoing earthquake relief efforts in Haiti. This year marks the 40th anniversary of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" receiving GRAMMY Awards for Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, and Song Of The Year, and the song will provide a moving tribute to the survivors of the tragic events in Haiti.

As part of Bon Jovi's performance on the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, fans will have an opportunity to decide which Bon Jovi hit the band will perform. For this "You Pick It, They Play It!" special segment, viewers can log on to now and vote in the final round for one out of three of their favorite hit Bon Jovi songs: "Always," "It's My Life," and "Livin' On A Prayer." There is no registration to vote, and fans may vote as often as they wish. Additionally, a 30-second clip of each song may be viewed. Voting will continue until Bon Jovi's performance on the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards on Jan. 31, when the song with the most votes is revealed live during their segment.

Additionally, the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards Pre-Telecast ceremony will take place from 1 – 4 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be streamed live internationally on beginning at 1 p.m. PT. Well-attended by nominees and industry VIPs, current GRAMMY nominees Tia Carrere and Kurt Elling will host the star-studded ceremony, which will feature performances by nominees including Montreal-based duo Beast (vocalist Betty Bonifassi and drummer/composer Jean-Phi Goncalves); jazz vocalist Elling; contemporary R&B singer Lalah Hathaway; classical guitarist Sharon Isbin; and R&B singer Charlie Wilson as well as a special bluegrass performance by nine-time GRAMMY-winning singer Ray Benson, country instrumentalist Alison Brown, two-time GRAMMY winner Jim Lauderdale, singer/songwriter Michael Martin Murphey, three-time GRAMMY winner Bryan Sutton and singer/fiddle player Gabe Witcher. Presenting GRAMMY Awards in 99 categories will be current nominees Colbie Caillat, Mick Fleetwood, LMFAO, and Tonex as well as percussionist Sheila E., four-time GRAMMY winner Roberta Flack, and five-time GRAMMY-winning producer/songwriter and Recording Academy Chair Emeritus Jimmy Jam. The live stream of the Pre-Telecast will remain on as video on demand for 30 days following the event.

The 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards are produced by John Cossette Productions and AEG Ehrlich Ventures for The Recording Academy. Ken Ehrlich and John Cossette are executive producers, Louis J. Horvitz is director.

Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers. Internationally known for the GRAMMY Awards — the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music — The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs. The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers and ensuring music remains an indelible part of our culture. For more information about The Academy, please visit For breaking news and exclusive content, join the organization's social networks on Facebook (, MySpace (, Twitter (, and YouTube ( [END]

Review: Video Game Adaptation, "Venom," is Surprisingly Scary Entertainment

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 12 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Venom (2005)
Running time: 86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong horror violence/gore, and language
DIRECTOR: Jim Gillespie
WRITERS: Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten and Brandon Boyce; from a story by Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten
PRODUCERS: Scott Faye, Karen Lauder, and Kevin Williamson
EDITOR: Paul Martin Smith

HORROR/THRILLER with elements of action

Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson, Laura Ramsey, D.J. Cotrona, Rick Cramer, Bijou Phillips, Meagan Good, Method Man, Pawel, Szajda, Davetta Sherwood, Stacey Travis, Marcus Lyle Brown (as Marcus Brown), James Pickens, Jr., and Deborah Duke

A mixed group of teenagers, led by Eden (Agnes Bruckner) and her boyfriend Eric (Jonathan Jackson), find themselves stalked by a mysterious madman who has a key chain that makes a tinkling sound whenever he’s near. They discover that the killer is a recently deceased man named Ray (Rick Cramer), and his corpse now possessed by evil voodoo spirits. Eden and her friends run to the only one who can help them, their friend CeCe (Meagan Good), whose late grandmother, Miss Emmie (Deborah Duke), was a mambo/voodoo priestess and also the reason these evil forces are loose. As the final showdown looms, six teenagers are trapped in Miss Emmie’s house while the monster that was Ray waits outside for them.

Venom is the latest horror film based upon a video game, except that the game in this instance, named “Backwater,” is still in development. Venom is actually sort of a prequel to the game and explains how the game’s featured villain, “Mr. Jangles,” (Ray in this movie), came to be (He’s called “Mr. Jangles” because of the sound his key chain makes when he walks). Venom is actually a throwback to the horror films of the 1980’s, especially such slasher films as the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises, where a (damn near) supernatural killer stalks teenagers and dispatches them in violently gory and bloody scenes that feature sharp implements and tools piercing or repeatedly slashing young flesh.

Venom is neither bland nor lifeless, and while it may look like a modestly budgeted Sci-Fi original picture (where many obviously have ultra low budgets), it’s fun, and the villain is (mostly) pretty scary. The Louisiana film locations (in swamps and rural areas) add a dreary, fear-inducing, Southern gothic atmosphere. Rarely has a hot and muggy atmosphere seemed so chilling and foreboding. Yes, the writing isn’t very imaginative; virtually every scene is copied or based directly on other horror movies, and in that Venom doesn’t hide that it is hackneyed. The cast stepped out of Abercrombie and Fitch. But as far as horror movies go, this is a straight meat grinder – soft on laughs, but dirt cheap and blunt on blood and guts.

The violence is proudly, rather than shamelessly, gratuitous. I enjoyed this trudge through the mud and muck because Venom is also some of the creepiest Hollywood-style voodoo scares I’ve seen in a while. Venom is like the 25-cent “Little Debbie” brownie that satisfies the chocolate urge when gourmet just isn’t available, and I’d like this brownie. I’d watch Venom again.

6 of 10

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


Review: Hoffman Gives Memorable Performance in "Capote"

Capote (2005)
Opening date: September 30, 2005
Running time: 114 minutes; MPAA – R for violent images and brief strong language
DIRECTOR: Bennett Miller
WRITER: Dan Futterman (based upon the book by Gerald Clarke)
PRODUCERS: Caroline Baron, Michael Ohoven, and William Vince
EDITOR: Christopher Tellefsen


Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins, Jr., Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Amy Ryan, and Mark Pellegrino

In November 1959, Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) reads an article in The New York Times about the murder of the four members of the Clutters, a well-known farm family in Holcomb, Kansas. Something about the crimes catches Capote’s attention, and the acclaimed author believes that he can use this incident to prove his theory that non-fiction can be as compelling as fiction – in the hands of capable author, which he is. He convinces his editor at The New Yorker magazine to send him to Kansas, accompanied by his childhood friend, Nell Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), who was within a few months to publish the Pulitzer Prize winning novel that would make her famous, To Kill a Mockingbird, as his assistant and researcher. Capote wants to write about how the Clutters’ murders affected Holcomb. With that as his focus, Capote initially doesn’t care if the murderers are ever caught.

However, when the two suspects, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), are finally arrested, Capote becomes fascinated with Perry, and decides to expand the story to cover who Perry is and from where he came and what actually happened inside the house the night of the murders. Capote walks a thin line between befriending Perry and using him for what would become Capote’s most famous work, the book In Cold Blood. The film focuses on his obsession with finishing the book, which meant that he desperately wanted Perry and his partner to be executed so that the book would have an end, and his compassion for his subjects, especially his deep feelings for Perry.

In Capote, Philip Seymour Hoffman gives the year’s best performance by an actor – male or female – by a mile. In addition, Capote is easily one of the ten best films 2005 that I’ve seen. Hoffman seems to channel the spirit of the late author, Truman Capote (1924-1984), and constructs a beautiful fictional version of the writer. He climbs so deep into the character that even a physical manifestation of the real Hoffman in the film are rare.

Beyond Hoffman’s brilliant and poignant performance, Capote, a fictionalized account of real events occurring from 1959 to 1965, is a superb film, extraordinary really. The team of director Bennett Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman fashioned a film that allows Hoffman to be the center, but also makes room for a compelling, dramatic thriller that focuses on Capote’s self-interested friendship with two brutal murderers, but also includes Capote’s circle of friends. Catherine Keener makes the most of her part as Harper Lee, although the character exists only as an extension of Capote. If Capote the film has a shortcoming, it is that the script and performances create fully realized characters that are ultimately underutilized in the narrative. That is best exemplified in the film’s closing minutes when Keener’s Harper Lee coolly delivers a harsh judgment on Capote; that scene alone shows the potential of the movie if the it had given a more broad portrayal of the characters.

Still, Hoffman’s landmark performance carries the film past any shortcomings. He gives us a glimpse into the dark heart and cunning mind of an innovative artist who will say anything and use anyone to create his groundbreaking art. Capote is one of the best films in recent memory to deal with what a writer will do to get his story.

9 of 10

2006 Academy Awards: 1 win for Best Actor (Hoffman); 4 nominations: picture, director, supporting actress (Keener), and adapted screenplay

2006 BAFTA Awards: 1 win: actor (Hoffman); 4 nominations: film, supporting actress (Keener), director, and adapted screenplay

2006 Golden Globes: 1 win for actor in a motion picture-drama (Hoffman)

2006 Independent Spirit Awards: 5 nominations: feature, male lead (Hoffman), screenplay, cinematographer, and “Producers Award (Caroline Baron)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


VIZ Media DVD Releases for March 2010

Press release from VIZ Media:

VIZ Media, LLC (VIZ Media), one of the entertainment industry’s most innovative and comprehensive publishing, animation and licensing companies, has announced their list of DVD titles scheduled for release in March 2010. This includes the final box set release of HONEY AND CLOVER, the next installments of the POKÉMON ELEMENTS series, as well as the latest episodic releases of the popular BLEACH and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN series. Also releasing is the live action feature film – HISASHI TENMYOUYA: SAMURAI NOUVEAU from VIZ Pictures. VIZ Media DVD titles are distributed (in English) in the U.S and Mexico by Warner Home Video and in Canada by Allegro.

HONEY AND CLOVER Box Set 3 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSR $59.90 US/ $85.99 CAN • Available March 16

Yuta returns from his journey of self-discovery only to find everyone around him deep in their own struggles to shape their futures. Ayumi finds herself increasingly included in projects involving Takumi and Rika, and the strain is breaking her. Far away in America, Shinobu and his brother's endless quest for money finally helps them achieve their ultimate goal, while back home Hagumi must face the devastating consequences of an accident that could change her life forever. Can the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of art ever be one and the same?

Contains Season 2, Episodes 1-12.

For more information on HONEY AND CLOVER, please visit

SHONEN JUMP releases include:

BLEACH Volume 26 • Rated ‘T’ for Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available March 23

The Bount leader Jin Kariya has obtained the Jokai Crest and is absorbing its immense power. While Ichigo and the others rest and prepare for their next battle, the Soul Reapers are warned by Rantao that there are many Crests within the Seireitei, and all may explode if Kariya's Crest is released. Head Captain Yamamoto mobilizes all Soul Reapers to find and seal the remaining Crests. Then, atop Sokyoku Hill, Ichigo faces Kariya in their final clash! Contains episodes 105 – 109.

For more information on BLEACH, please visit

NARUTO SHIPPUDEN Volume 7 • Rated 'T+' for Older Teens • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available March 9

In their battle with Sasori, Granny Chiyo and Sakura must make life-or-death choices to bring the puppet master down. Outside the Akatsuki hideout, Team Guy have fought the copies of themselves to the point of exhaustion, but Rock Lee's plan sets fire to their fighting spirits. Meanwhile, Naruto and Kakashi have caught up to Deidara, and Kakashi prepares to unleash his newest jutsu--the Mangekyo Sharingan! Contains episodes 27 – 30.

For more information on NARUTO and NARUTO SHIPPUDEN, please visit

New POKÉMON Releases Include:

POKÉMON ELEMENTS, Volume 9: Ghost • Rated 'A' for All Ages • MSRP: $9.98 US/ $14.99 CAN • Available March 23

POKÉMON ELEMENTS, Volume 10: Rock • Rated 'A' for All Ages • MSRP: $9.98 US / $14.99 CAN • Available March 23

Following the POKÉMON All Star series set, the POKÉMON: ELEMENTS collection consists of the most important episodes commemorating the different types of Pokémon characters. Each disc showcases a Pokémon type with three all-time favorite episodes.

From VIZ Pictures (Live Action Feature Films):

HISASHI TENMYOUYA: SAMURAI NOUVEAU, NEW PEOPLE Artist Series Volume 4 • MSRP: $24.92 US / $35.99 CAN • Available March 9

A graphic designer turned contemporary artist, Hisashi Tenmyouya brings his own style of NEO-Traditional Japanese Painting to the art world. Tenmyouya reveals his soul through melding of modern urban subjects with traditional methods of painting.

For more information on VIZ Pictures, please visit [END]

Review: Shia LaBeouf the Real Deal in "Disturbia"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 64 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Disturbia (2007)
Running time: 104 minutes; MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of terror and violence and for some sexuality
WRITERS: Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth; from a story by Christopher Landon
PRODUCERS: Joe Medjuck, E. Bennett Walsh and Jackie Marcus
EDITOR: Jim Page

THRILLER/HORROR with elements of drama and romance

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Aaron Yoo, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Matt Craven, and Viola Davis

For his new film, Disturbia, director D.J. Caruso (Taking Lives) takes a youth-oriented spin on Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window and submerges it deep in the slasher film sub-genre that has thrived on and off since the late 1970’s. Meanwhile, his star, Shia LaBeouf is hitting his stride as an in-demand actor. Although Shia is playing a teen again as he did so famously in the Disney Channel series, Even Stevens (for which he won a Daytime Emmy Award) and his hit big-screen debut, Holes, he’s grown up now.

After his father dies, Kale (LaBeouf) becomes sullen and withdrawn. After he punches his high school Spanish teacher, Kale gets three months of house arrest, avoiding time in prison because of his hard-working mother, Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss). Kale must wear an ankle monitor, and he can’t go beyond a 100-yard perimeter from a sensor in his kitchen. After a while, he grows tired of videogames, surfing the Net, TV, and junk food, so he turns to spying on his neighbors with the help of his best friend, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), and some second hand surveillance equipment. That’s how he meets his hot new neighbor, fellow teen Ashley (Sarah Roemer). She joins Ronnie and Kale in their fun and games, and Kale falls hard for Ashley. Their fun and games takes a really bad turn when they discover that Kale’s next-door neighbor, Mr. Turner (David Morse), may be a serial killer. No one believes them, and Mr. Turner’s secrets may cost them their lives.

While I thought that there were enough skilled filmmakers involved to at least make Disturbia hit all the right notes as a movie thriller, I was still surprised by how much I liked it. The film does indeed hit all the right notes and, with a heavy hand, hit all the right buttons. It’s occasionally heart stopping, mostly scary, and downright nasty and dirty. True, it’s not a thinking man’s thriller because there are way too many holes in the plot and flaws in the logic. Still, it works as an entertaining, escapist horror/thriller.

As Ashley, Sarah Roemer seems a bit too physically mature for just about any character the remarkably boyish Shia LaBeouf could play. She is a hottie, and he’s quite likable, so their relationship benefits the film more than it harms it. David Morse’s Mr. Turner is an old-fashioned slasher – a murderer hiding out in the tree-lined streets of suburbia where beautiful two-story homes hide dysfunctional families. As usual Mr. Turner uses his neighborhood home as burying ground for his large number of kills. He may not be supernatural, but Mr. Turner is just as foul and as dangerous as Freddie, Jason or Michael.

6 of 10

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Author, Activist Howard Zinn Dead at 87 (Negromancer News Bits & Bites)

Howard Zinn, the author, historian, teacher and political activist, died of a heart attack in Santa Monica, California on Wednesday, January 27, 2010. Born on August 24, 1922 to Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn, Zinn served in the Army Air Force during World War II and also participated in the Civil Rights movement. Zinn was Professor of History at Spellman College from 1956 to 1963 and Professor of Political Science at Boston University from 1964 to 1988.

Zinn authored more than 20 books, but his most famous book is the leftist A People's History of the United States. An alternative to mainstream history texts, the book is also a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck. First published in 1980 with little promotion and a first printing of 5,000, A People's History of the United States could be described as a people's best-seller. Through word of mouth, it attracted a broad audience and finally reached one million sales in 2003.

The Los Angeles Times website has this obituary.


Negromancer Movie Review: "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 180 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train (2004)
Running time: 78 minutes
PRODUCERS/DIRECTORS: Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller
EDITOR: Deb Ellis


Starring: Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Marian Wright Edelman, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Alice Walker, and Matt Damon (narrator)

Author, historian, and activist Howard Zinn is probably best known for his landmark 1980 book, A People’s History of the United States. However, he has been anti-war, civil rights, and labor activist for decades, and he has been on the forefront of progressive thought in America for as long. Through archival film footage and photos and with commentary from Zinn himself, the documentary film, Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, chronicles this influential thinker’s life as an activist committed to social change. The film also includes interviews with Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Marian Wright Edelman, and Alice Walker (Edelman and Walker were students of Zinn’s when he taught at Spellman College in Atlanta in the early 1960’s.).

Howard Zinn has taken the position that the American Revolution has served the interests of an elite ruling class and that the resulting U.S. government is as tyrannical (perhaps at least as tyrannical as the British government it replaced). Over time, our governing class and our laws have largely protected the wealth and property of a rich, right wing elite and large corporations. As a historian, Zinn has examined our past from the point of view of the poor and the disenfranchised, and his books on history reflect that. Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train gives us a nice overview of Zinn’s life, work, and beliefs.

However, the life and work of such an activist and intellectual requires a much longer film and certainly a more impassioned one. This is kind of like a class lecture on Zinn, narrated by actor Matt Damon doing his best solemn monotone. Still, this documentary is required viewing for people who want to learn about someone who has revealed the dark side of our democracy.

6 of 10

Thursday, August 17, 2006