Thursday, February 15, 2007

JJ Abrams Nabs "Dark Tower" to Direct? Also: TVM's Website and Rogan V. Mencia: Plagiarism Smackdown!

I read a depressing and widely-reported rumor the other day on (who was in turn reporting it from 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.

More tomorrow.


David said...

I watched that video. I have never liked Mencia he is just not funny...but this is pretty hilarious. He gets owned in a big way. Awesome.

I'm surprised you didn't post about Juliani intentions to run...I always said since 9/11 and how he handled the situation that if he ever ran for pres...he would win.

And with our "wonderful" line up of dems...I'm predicting another republican in the white house.

blankfist said...

The VanBeater site is pretty cool. The BUD Brigade is a cool take on Powell Peralta's Ripper design - and I like anything that gives a shout out to old skool skate.

You should check out for a complete scoop on what happened from Joe's point-of-view. Joe was banned from the Comedy Story over this, and according to Joe he was banned but not Carlos, and he thinks it's political: Carlos brings in more money. The confrontation didn't happen from Rogan being called out by Mencia for heckling. Rogan was introducing an act and at some point either because Mencia just got off stage or because the next act was friends with Mencia, but Rogan mentioned him as "Carlos Menstealia". Later, Mencia came out and dared Rogan to say that to his face - and the rest is history.

I always thought Rogan was a huge douchebag. I never liked him back in the Fear Factor days, but I never had a reason to dislike him - I guess I just thought of him as another crappy Ryan Seacrest reality TV host. Then, once I started watching more UFC shows, which Rogan is an announcer for, I started appreciating the amount of information about Mixed Martial Arts that guy knew. Since, he's no longer a douche in my eyes, and now that he (and it appears only him) has stood up to a potential hack comedian for stealing material, I think he's pretty freaking cool.

noahkey said...

Check this out....

And thanks for the notes, bro. Extremely helpful.


harwell said...

I've never read any of the Dark Tower series (though I know that it's why Nathan uses "Roland" in his email and stuff - nerd!), but I think you've made a pretty compelling argument against JJ Abrams as the man at the helm. Personally, I like to write without really knowing where I'm going; I'm with King on that one. But the problem with that on LOST is that it comes at the expense of forgetting shit that was a huge plot point early in the season. Plowing ahead blindly is all fine and dandy, but it doesn't mean you shouldn't always be considerate of what's in the rear view mirror either. There are so many elements on LOST that have fallen off the face of the earth (Michael and Walt? Hello?) that it's frustrating as a viewer. I'm no aficionado but the only King movies I've ever really enjoyed were directed by Kubrick and Frank Darabont. So that's what - 3 out of about 168? If Abrams screws the pooch, he'll merely be following in the footsteps of countless others as you point out. Just stick with the books, dude!

I have a newfound respect for Joe Rogan after seeing him call out Carlos Mencia like that. But here's the sad part: the joke that they get so adamant about Mencia stealing from that Ari guy wasn't really funny or original to begin with. I'm sure I've heard the same joke about Mexicans being the ones who would build the proposed wall at the border on at least four or five different TV shows. It's about the most obvious joke in the world. Carlos should set his sights on stealing from better comedians, but then does anyone even really know Joe Rogan as a comedian? I sure don't. Watching that clip kind of felt like watching a game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans. Neither are of any consequence in their league. So kudos to Joe for calling him out, but he'd probably be better off focusing his energy on being funny himself. And if Carlos weren't successful do you think they'd be having that argument? I'm not so sure...

If you're interested in the sub-culture of comedians you should check out a podcast hosted by Jimmy Pardo called "Never Not Funny." When he has comedians on they talk shop and you get a good glimpse of just how terrible a life it must be to be a mid-level traveling comedian. Sounds like a tough gig and no wonder so many of them seem kind of personally miserable.

blankfist said...

Yeah, I've heard every comic is a miserable person. Sad. Also, you may have heard that joke about the Mexicans and wall four or five times before, but I think Rogan's point was to point out that Carlos stole it from Ari - whether true or not. Also, the footage from Joe's video claims Ari came out with that joke three years ago. Since then, you probably have heard it four or five times, because it's become a hot topic recently.

JudgeHolden said...

I think Giuliani's entry into the race was important -- I think he'll be a big contender for the nomination -- but these days it's impossible for me to be in any way for a Republican nominee, even in a disinterested observer sort of way, because every single one of them has to kowtow to the religious right so much that they make themselves completely unpalatable as candidates. In order to get their votes, generally level-headed guys like McCain, Giuliani and Romney all have to make the worst kinds of promises to guys like Dobson, Richard Land and Robertson/Falwell (and they have to mean them, despite what the candidates' moderate supporters say) and they become unacceptable. Of course, the Democratic candidates have to make some promises they'd rather not to secure the nomination, but they don't have to make them to dangerous people, which is how I see these Christianist leaders. So even though Giuliani's been pro-choice his whole life, he's already said he'd appoint pro-life judges to the courts if he were president. McCain's an easy guy to like but his mindless support of this war (among other things) has just sunk him as a moderate for me.

I'd say the line-up of Dems is actually pretty strong. I like Obama but I recently discovered he voted for the bankruptcy bill a couple years ago that was a real sweetheart deal for the credit card industry, so my support for him has waned accordingly. I like Hillary, but I worry about what the fact of her being a woman will have on her foreign policy. Will she, like Thatcher, feel she has something to prove about her "toughness", and take us into another war? This is something that seems to haunt all modern Democrats (though I'm not sure why given Dems ran all of our wars since WWI), but might really stir up Hillary. I'm still hoping for an Al run, but that's looking less and less likely.

But I don't think for one second the Republican lineup is in any way stronger than the Democratic lineup.

And BOC: you're welcome for the notes. Happy to help.

In regards to the Mencia/Rogan dust-up, it is pretty funny that they're fighting so passionately over some really shitty jokes. Particularly the Mexicans building the wall to keep Mexicans out joke. If ever there was a case for a bunch of comedians coming up with the same tired joke independent of one another rather than plagiarism, than it's for this joke. But I guess Mencia made a policy of stealing many jokes. I'd like to see Rogan go after Dane Cook, but in light of Cook's superstardom, he'll never get close enough to have words. (Has anyone seen the trailer for "Mr. Brooks"? Dane tries his hand at a dramatic role). Anyway, I'll have to check out that podcast -- the life of a working comic seems like a rough life filled with scared, desperate folks.

Speck said...

I've never found dane cook funny either.

harwell said...

Heath, you're right. Rogan's point was that Carlos stole from Ari and I agree completely based on the footage. The guy's delivery, right down to the dramatic pause, was pretty much ripped from Ari beat for beat. That's inexcusable.'s a lame joke.

Crane - how about some love for Joe Biden???? I know he's probably going to come across as too tough and Howard Dean-like to get the nomination but for my money there isn't a more genuine candidate in the race at this point. And isn't he the one who came up with the plan to divide Iraq into three separate states? He doesn't believe peace or democracy is possible there otherwise and so far there hasn't been any evidence to contradict this belief. Not to mention his own son fought over there. I'd love to see the Repubs attack him for not supporting the troops...

blankfist said...

Wyclef for Prez!

JudgeHolden said...

Biden's all right. I like his partitioning idea for Iraq, but I don't know how it would work in Baghdad where Shiite and Sunni both live in large numbers and for which no group would relinquish a claim. I haven't totally dismissed Biden, though I probably should for his out-and-out support of the bankruptcy bill and his undying support of the credit card lobby (he is from Delaware after all), but he's far from an exciting candidate for me. I think one of these Dem candidates is going to have to start touting ideas that really capture the imagination if they want to start finding voters. Right now it seems all anyone's doing is parsing their stance on Iraq and talking about all the same Dem talking points. Bill Clinton broke through in 90-91 with a "middle-class tax cut". I know that's not a responsible proposition in '07, but something "outside the box" like that could have a similar effect. Right now Obama's telling the nations public school teachers that he'll give them more money, but that there will also be higher accountability. Not popular with the teacher base but he'll say it anyway because he thinks it's true. Contrasted with Hillary's seeming calculation and pandering, Obama still manages to seem like fresh air.

blankfist said...

John Edwerds is running on the global health care ticket which he says will continue to raise taxes. Yes, the government needs more of our money, I agree. Let's give them more, because they're so responsible as is. By the way, Crane, I picked up Dawkins' The God Delusion just yesterday, and I'm really excited about cracking it open and giving it a good read. I think I'll go door to door and pass this book out to christians, you know, just so I'm spreading the word of godlessness. Or if I ever see another Johavah's Witness peddling his white-shirt wearing self up to my front door, maybe I'll give him a copy in trade for one of his lesser interesting, repentful-laden books of suffering.