Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Billy Ray's back, so scandal is the order of the day

Just a few quick notes today, because in a moment truly right out of "Office Space," we have to go through 18 hours of training starting today to learn a new program that changes the way we do .. well .. just about everything.

Even if it goes smoothly, a newspaper changing its operating system about three weeks before the election is just as crazy as it seems. But, since that's not really my concern, I'd much rather traffic in the more pleasant realm of movie trivialty.

Billy Ray, who makes his living primarily as a screenwriter, has also managed to direct two of my favorite movies, and now he's back with something that sounds right up his alley.

The two movies that Ray has managed to direct, "Shattered Glass" and "Breach" (easily one of my favorite flicks of 2007), are psychological dramas of the first order that paint very claustrophobic portraits of very troubled people. If you haven't seen the former, starring Hayden Christensen as journalistic fraud Stephen Glass and a stellar Peter SarsGaard as his "New Republic" editor, I can't recommend it highly enough.

Now, Mr. Ray is set to write and direct "How to Rig an Election," based on the memoir of the same name by disgraced G.O.P. political operative Allen Raymond (see a pattern here)? His plot: To jam phone lines at Democratic Party headquarters in an effort to swing a 2002 Senate election in New Hampshire.

"This is the story of Raymond’s rise to power alongside his friend in the party, Jim Tobin, and how their lives intersect in a way that forces Allen to choose between his ambition and his integrity," Ray said. "He makes the wrong choice at first, and by the time he makes the right one, his wife and kids are affected and his life is going up in flames."

Mr. Ray, who specializes in the motivations of petty schemers, should just have a blast with that.

Murderous muppets? I'm there

The big news in Muppet world, of course, is that Jason Segel and writing partner Nicholas Stoller are developing a new - and hopefully very old-fashioned - Muppet movie (though I can't find anything about it on either of their IMDB profiles.)

At the house of Henson, however, they're also now more actively involved in something made just for me: A puppet show for adults.

The Jim Henson Co. has launched development of the feature "Happytime Murders," a puppet comedy in the film noir detective genre (yes, I did make a little geek squeak the first time I read that.) Jim Henson offspring Brian and Lisa Henson will produce the flick, which will mix humans and puppets and center on a puppet detective forced to solve a string of murders around the Happytime Gang, the cast of a popular children's show.

In my mind, I'm already there. Like I said, short report today, since I have to do my actual job along with a half-week's worth of training (though it does mean a lot of overtime, so I really shouldn't complain.) Peace out.

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