I read a depressing and widely-reported rumor the other day on Aintitcoolnews.com (who was in turn reporting it from IGN.com). It's just a rumor at this stage, but it isn't exactly without credence. The rumor is that JJ Abrams of "Lost" and "Mission Impossible 3" fame, has been tapped to direct Stephen King's 7-volume epic "The Dark Tower". For anyone who has affection for Roland Deschain and this weird sci-fi/western amalgam and looked forward to one day seeing it on the big screen, this is bad news.
The background on this (which I think Aintitcool's Quint talks about in the item) is that King and the writers of "Lost" had a symposium of some kind recently where the empaneled JJ Abrams talked about how much they loved King, and the also empaneled King talked about how much he liked "Lost". Strangely, one of King's primary reasons for enjoying the show (which he talks about in his Entertainment Weekly column) is probably the main reason I think the show's lost a lot of steam: King likes that the "Lost" writers don't know where the show's headed. I imagine this is so because that's how he writes (with at least one exception) and thinks it's the best way to go with novel-writing. So anyway, on-stage and off, Abrams goes on and on to King about the "Dark Tower" and how much he'd love to adapt it and King offers it to him.
I hope it's not true, but if it is, this is why it's depressing: JJ Abrams.
King's a great writer, but he doesn't seem to have a clear idea of what is good and what is bad when when it comes to adaptations of his own work. How else can you explain how he keeps giving Mick Garris his novels to adapt even though Garris has screwed them up abysmally time and time again? How else can you explain why King believes the ABC mini-series version of "The Shining" is superior to Kubrick's? Granted, some of that has to be authorial myopia that comes from being so close to one's own work, but whatever the case, King isn't the best judge of who best to bring his stories to screen. So by choosing JJ Abrams, and this is what's galling, he's decided to reward mediocrity and buckets of flattery by giving JJ, the son of a well-connected TV producer, his magnum opus to adapt as he sees fit. Given both King's and Abrams's long-standing relationship with ABC, my guess is they'll go this route and ABC will be accommodating with millions of dollars to each. Abrams has just one feature under his belt, ("MI:3", a big-budget franchise movie that, despite a 100 million dollar budget, managed to feel like TV), and now he just gets this?
Anyway, I know this is all way geeky and I seem pissed all out of proportion to this story's actual importance, but I really like "The Dark Tower", a story a lot of talented filmmakers would all kill their grandmothers to make, but somehow Abrams gets to be the guy? I'm not saying that there is no possibility that Abrams could make this into a worthwhile film, but why take the chance as the odds are against him? There are a lot of A-1 directors out there sitting on the bench who'd make something worthwhile out of this stuff if they got a chance at the plate, but . . . all right. I'm done talking about it.
In other news, I stumbled over an old high-school classmate's website the other day. Trevor Van Meter was a year ahead of me at Sanderson, and back then he was (and is now) a really talented visual artist. My junior year, he painted a giant, muscly Spartan (he was our school's mascot) on the wall of the gymnasium that was about 20 feet high and ten across and looked not at all like a high-school student's effort at large-scale painting. Anyway, he's good and in the intervening 12 years, he's gotten into professional illustration. Here's a link to his site. Though I like his style of illustration and T-shirt design, I'd really like to see what he's been drawing in a more naturalistic, pencil on paper kind of style. Anyway, popular illustration-themed blog, "Drawn!" like his stuff, too, and has linked to Van Meter here, and here.
Finally, this: Joe Rogan (of "Fear Factor") and Carlos Mencia (of "Mind of Mencia") don't like each other. Rogan has taken it upon himself to end the practice of comics stealing material from other comics. He says, and I paraphrase, "If this kind of thing happens in the recording industry, it's all over the news. If it happens in comedy, no one cares." He cares. Carlos Mencia (along with Dane Cook) are notorious in the comic community as joke-stealers. At a recent show, Mencia called Rogan (who sounds like he was in the audience heckling) up on stage to put the matter to rest. This is what happened. (It's a 10-minute clip and features loads of cursing, in case you're at work). I'm not really a fan of either of these guys, but their on-stage fracas is fascinating.
I'm not sure what it is, but I think the sub-culture of comedians is characterized primarily by stunted emotional development. The conversation they have on-stage resembles more a back-of-the-classroom argument in a 10th-grade remedial English class than it does two ostensibly grown men trying to make their case in front of a worked-up audience. Anyway, it's interesting.