By any stretch, this should be all-around good news.
In a move long, long overdue, Disney has tapped Anika Noni Rose ("Dreamgirls") to voice the lead in the animated musical fairy-tale romance "The Princess and the Frog," making her (I believe) the first black character at the center of a grand Disney musical (unless, of course, you count the great James Baskett in "Song of the South.")
Even better, the movie, with a story by helmers John Musker and Ron Clements, will be set in New Orleans' French Quarter, giving lots of opportunity for animation and storytelling fun.
So, what's wrong with this picture? For this grand musical animated tale, its first in years, Disney has turned to one of the most boring songwriters in movie history, Randy Newman, to compose the songs and score. This is just wrong in every possible way.
There's a great "Family Guy" joke in which the Griffins are on the road looking for a new home after Quahog was destroyed by Y2K. On the way, they run into Randy Newman, who simply starts making "songs" about everything he sees ("Lois picks an apple/I think she's gonna eat it") until someone mercifully bludgeons him to death.
Now, I don't wish Randy Newman any bodily harm, I just wish he worked a lot less often, because that "Family Guy" joke was dead on. To use a technical term, his songs have simply sucked for many years now.
And, though I understand that he is N'awlins native, aren't there so many more interesting choices they could have made to take on this project? If you want someone from the Crescent City, the great Allen Toussaint comes to mind, and there are many others you could mention.
Given the good intentions going into this project, I don't think this is a matter of racism, simply sloth. Disney couldn't bother to look beyond the face they're so familiar with, and this could-have-been-great project will surely suffer for it.
A quick, and early, ray of "Sunshine"
According to Fox Searchlight, via the great Filmick blog, the company has once again changed the release date for Danny Boyle's "Sunshine," this time moving the U.S. release back up to July.
How in the world will this sci-fi tale fare in the thick of July? No idea, but I'll definitely be there to see it. And, in even better Fox Searchlight news, "Waitress," the last movie by Adrienne Shelly, is finally coming to one theater in my little corner of the world this weekend, so I'll definitely be there to see that too (before "Pirates," even.)
What "Veronica Mars" could have been?
I'm still suffering from the loss of "Veronica Mars," and will be for some time, but here's something of interest from the good folks at TvSquad.com.
According to them, this is a synopsis of what show creator Rob Thomas pitched to the tin-eared miscreants at the CW (remember, from here on out, just say no to this excuse for a "network.") I'm hoping the video pitch will make it on to YouTube very soon, but here's at least a description of what me might some day get to see:
SYNOPSIS: We start out with Veronica on her first day of work at the Los Angeles FBI offices. She has just graduated from the Academy, already with her snappy little suit. Her voice-over sounds competitive, and we get the sense that she's not always going to be the smartest person in the room here. There's also lots of sexism for her to overcome. We're introduced to another hot-shot female rookie and a guy named Sean, who Veronica either slept with at some point or embarrassed at the FBI Academy through her superior sleuthing skills. He tells her that everything is OK, that they are both adults in the professional world now, yadda yadda.
Veronica goes into a staff briefing where she's essentially given the option of going undercover as a pole dancer or a high school student. Much to her dismay, she ends up with the high school assignment. She goes undercover as a juvenile delinquent to catch the principal who's a sex predator. It's a funny but kinda gross scene, where the guy unzips his pants and tells her to give him a blowjob to get ahead. Once Veronica gets him to state that aloud, she tells him that she's with the FBI. The guy flees but is caught by the other FBI officer on the stake-out -- some hot guy who thinks Veronica is an idiot rookie.
Back at FBI headquarters, Veronica's boss tells her she did a good job, but asks why she wasn't at drinks last night with the rest of the team. "Hot shot" was supposed to spread the word among the rookies. Veronica assumes the other hot girl agent didn't tell her.
Cut to Veronica and the hot guy on a stake-out later that night where we find out that he didn't want to be paired with Veronica, who he refers to as "Barbie." They're staking out a mail bomber, a college professor, but hot guy says that they're staking out the wrong guy. He explains that the mail bomber would be more "meticulous, patient, etc." We learn that hot guy is a very talented profiler.
Cut to a scene where Veronica and said hot-shot girl rookie are questioning one of the professor's students in his apartment. The student leaves the room for a minute, and Veronica confronts hot-shot girl rookie about not relaying the "drinks with the boss" information to her. It turns out it wasn't her. Sean - the guy who told Veronica that they're "professional adults" now - neglected to tell her; apparently he's still hurting. Veronica then starts poking around this kid's apartment, when she notices how "meticulous and patient" this guy is. It dawns on her that this the kid is the mail bomber. We hear a noise, and when Veronica turns around with her gun withdrawn, we see that the kid has a knife to hot shot rookie girl's throat. The end
Even if it would have been a slimmed-down version of "Veronica," with all my other favorite characters jettisoned, you can tell from that short synopsis that Thomas put great care into this retooling. The folks at the CW can just go straight to hell.
"The Golden Compass" trailer
And now something to wash away that bit of bile. Here is the trailer for "The Golden Compass" that will be shown before that "Pirates" movie you may have heard about. New Line's whoring of "Lord of the Rings" at the outset is atrocious, but the rest of the trailer looks great, and if you stick around long enough you even get Sam Elliott. Enjoy!
Thursday, May 24, 2007
By any stretch, this should be all-around good news.