Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wondercon Preview: TV and Spider-Man, at least

Wondercon is two weeks away, and it's taking place in Anaheim this year while San Francisco's Moscone Center is getting renovated.
It's an interesting choice since Anaheim's Convention Center has often been seen as the future home of Comic-Con because of the facility's size. This may be he city's chance to maybe get the big convention someday, even though San Diego officials are finally starting preparations to expand their convention center. It's safe to say fans will at least have some breathing room as they move from one panel to another, but more Southern California fans will be packing the place.

I'll be there for Whedonopolis, hoping that maybe the Man Himself (Joss, who else) will give us a preview of The Avengers, and the long-awaited sneak peak of The Cabin In The Woods after it gets its premiere at the South by Southwest event.
As for March first, though, no word yet. It looks like the big attraction will be Amazing Spider-Man, with a guaranteed Emma Stone sighting (le sigh). As far as TV is concerned, the list of shows will be more optimistic than last year. Remember when the cast of V was optimistic about a third season that never came? Not this year...while one show may be facing the end, others will be announcing big news about a future which will definitely come.

Friday's schedule has 21 Jump Street, which premieres that day. It's still a chance to see Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. There's also a premiere of a new DC animated feature, Superman Vs. The Elite.

Saturday is Movie Day. Fox will have a panel, and it may include Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Prometheus. There'a another one on Snow White and the Huntsmen and Battleship. Sony's panel will talk Spider-Man, but also the latest Resident Evil movie.
Notice anything missing? Yup, no panel on The Hunger Games, which premieres a week later, or The Avengers, which kicks off the summer season. Hopefully, that will change. At least do what happened last year, when people got their own SHIELD badges.
Whedonopolis will be looking at a panel that promotes Felicia Day's new YouTube channel Geek and Sundry. She's going beyond the Guild now, although we hope there's some info about whether we'll have one more season.

TV will dominate Sunday. The main ballroom will have panels on Alcatraz, Fringe, Once Upon a Time, and Community. The last one may get the most interest, because it'll be held just a few days after its return to NBC. The weekend will close with Dr. Horrible, but Jane Espenson, who is now with Once Upon a Time but is one of the major writers of the Whedonverse, has a panel at the same time. I'll probably go to that. I have Dr. H in my iPod on DVD.

It'll be the first time I've stayed in Anaheim. I was at a Wizard World event. While the center is really big, the area lacks several things that downtown San Diego has: public transit, nice local restaurants, more theaters, and at least one CVS within walking distance. While there is a Downtown Disney, complete with multiplex that doesn't meet up to the Metreon, it's not the same as a real downtown. Petco Park si also within walking distance, and it's becoming more of a part of Comic-Con these days. SO, I'll be glad when Wondercon heads back north next year. It's a NorCal thing while Comic-Con can stay a San Diego thing.

Now, the schedule will likely change, and I hope Joss will head down to Disneyland to give us big surprises. It's been years since he's been at Wondercon, and this year he doesn't have to drive very far. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oscar Weekend, Epilogue

As I am typing this, I am hearing Seth Rogan doing his opening monologue at the Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica. If I am dumb enough to try to be in L-A during Oscar weekend, I'd go to Santa Monica first because there's a better chance to see stars than at Hollywood and Highland.

Here's the difference between the Oscars and Independent Spirit Awards: you wish whoever was hosting the ISAs was hosting the Oscars. If it aired live again as it used to be, it would be perfect. Rogan's monologue was really biting, especially commenting about how Brett Ratner lost his Oscar producing gig, and how it wouldn't have happened if he produced the Grammys. This led to a Chris Brown joke that Rogan admitted didn't work with everyone. He also praised that classic silent move....Drive (there were words in that movie, not necessarily from Ryan Gosling). I say in 2018,  the Academy should call Rogan.

Oh, and I'll see your Billy Crystal Oscar movie song, and raise you Garfunkel and Oates' musical tribute to the ISA nominees for Best Picture. It would make Billy quietly leave the stage...and it's an original song, made by goofy musical chicks who were one of the few good things from Jay Leno's 10 PM show! By the way, how come they haven't been invited back?

Anyway, here's when you know the party's over....

Sorry, one day too late

Hey, where are the bleachers? The Red Carpet? That dictator guy?
Yes, they work fast once the show is over. This is about 12 hours after the end of the Governor's Ball, or when Sean Young tried to get in without a ticket.
This, though, really says it all...

Oscars, the day after

Sleep tight, Giant Oscars. You'll be surprised how quickly a year can pass...and how quickly we forget who won the year before.

Another sign: Ryan Seacrest's ultimate nightmare....

Beautiful Downtown Wadiya?

This will be all over L-A until The Dictator is released in a couple of months. Until then, expect Ryan to wear two jackets, dress shirts, whatever until then. You know why.

Now, a few other things...

Envy him!

I met Dee Thompson at Hollywood and Highland, and he had a book about how he got to see the Oscars without a ticket. It was back in 1997, and could never happen now. Still, it's a great story, and here's a link to his book.

Hey, since when is the sign lit?

Had to add this one: the former Pacific Theater, which is now used as a church, usually doesn't have its sign lit. However, on Oscar Sunday, it did.

Nerdist Room

Meltdown Comics on Sunset is one of the new places that has a sometime comedy club in the back. This was my first stop to see Doug Benson try out new jokes for a CD he's supposed to make.

Finally, a billboard we may not see for long...

Read it and week, Saint Louis

This promotes Albert Pujols as the reason why the Angels could be back in the World Series, but they may not use the "el Hombre" slogan for long. It was located on Sunset.

So, next stop in two weeks is Wondercon in Anaheim this year, because the Moscone Center in San Francisco is under construction. I'll have a LOT to say about this soon. I am only going because Joss has a lot of stuff coming, and I'm hoping he'll be there to talk about it. We may even hear about a sequel to Husbands, too.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Oscar weekend, day 2

I will never go to Hollywood during Oscar weekend again unless I have a ticket to the bleachers in my hand well before the event. Of course, getting such a ticket is tougher to get than a winning Super Lotto Plus Ticket worth $5 million. I'll stick to the local Oscar Night America event because at least I can get the program.

How tight was security? The cops stopped people in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard since dawn, and there was a big fence keeping people away, which gave me this view of the event.....

My real view

So while my pictures may not have been the best, they were OK considering I had to shove the lens through the fence links. We also had E! use us as the background to one of their pre-game stories...

E! Reporters Pre-Game

Then again, I shouldn't complain about traveling 400 miles to not get anywhere near the Oscars. Check out these guys from Finland and Wales who came so far to see a glimpse of Brangelina, if they're lucky...

Then again, some fans would travel a long way

Another foreigner, but what's with the BBC Wales flag?

However, people should know it takes a lot of work to get a Red Carpet read for celebrities and those who are just lucky to get a ticket. Check out these carpet installers, and a guy who is vacuuming the carpet...

Oscar morning

Quick! Clean the Red Carpet! Company's Coming!

Despite all of this, I managed to get two decent pictures. In this one, I sort of get Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie at the way far left....

Look way to the left, its Brangelina, almost

The grey edge is from the part of the fence I tried to shoot around. I was much luckier getting Jennifer Lopez....

Yes, it's J-Lo!

Now a few words about the event: Billy Crystal made a good comeback as a host, but the Oscars should prepare for the future. Steve Martin, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway should be on the eternal short list. Maybe add Meryl Streep, too, because she has been a hoot for years, and ought to try hosting one of these suckers.
While I picked the big awards, I screwed up again on the minor awards, especially documentary, shorts and a couple of tech nominations. I knew Hugo would clean up in the tech awards, but not as much as it did. If nothing else, it'll be good news for its DVD sales starting Tuesday. I didn't see Sasha Baron Cohen as Aladeen, but I saw what happened thanks to YouTube. That has got to be the best thing ever according to those who has had enough of Seacrest. Cohen did appear in one of the short films about movies. While he has played weird characters, acting as a guy who's like himself should be tried once in a while. I still can't wait to see him in Les Miserables, though.

Now some commentary through film....
Kodak is taking its name off the theater which has been the home for Oscar for a decade, yet what did we see at Hollywood and Highland?

Nice ad for 1997

It's a nice ad for Kodak...ten years ago. Now it's headed for bankruptcy while filmmakers, big and small, are switching to digital in droves. Just an interesting image.

The Goodyear Blimp was flying above the show, just like it's doing overhead overage at the Super Bowl. I managed to make some surreal pictures, like this one that combines Goodyear with the Golden Arches....

Collision of the icons

and this one near the big Oscar ad...

Glamour and rubber

So, it wasn't too bad, but I really prefer being in the bleachers, if not inside. Next year, I stay home.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Oscar weekend, day one

One thing I have learned from the first day of my Oscar weekend: go as soon as you can, or you'll find out the admission price is slightly less than what you have to pay when the DVD arrives. 16 bucks for a 2-D movie? Nah!

I did get to see comedian Doug Benson at Meltdown Comics. He's trying out some of his new material for a CD he had to make before April 20, or 4/20 (basically Marijuana Day).

The main event, of course, is the Academy Awards, in its final year at the Kodak Theater. No, it's not going to the Nokia just like every other awards show. The Kodak has to change its name because the naming rights have evaporated along with Kodak's financial viability. For a change, I decided to take pictures at night...

Oscar at night, part one

Kodak Theater, the final days

Also a picture of the Oscar statue next to the entrance..

Oscar's final night at the Kodak Theater

Smile for the cameras

Even though the area is protected by a steel fence, it';s still possible to get a picture or two of what is on the Red carpet, such as bleachers and signs...

Oscar bleachers

I was hoping 1iota could get me on the bleachers, cameras or no cameras. However, I didn't make the grade for some reason. I'm just glad that I didn't need a tux this time. I doubt they'll decide to let me in at literally the last second, but at least I want to be somewhat close to the action, fence or no fence. One thing is for sure, I will not do this again unless I get a guaranteed spot in the Oscar Red Carpet bleachers, and even getting that far is tougher than winning Super Lotto Plus.

I will try to be as Oscar-y as possible, and I'll show everyone how Sunday night.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Just Like Going To The Super Bowl Without a Ticket

This morning I was looking at an article from the Associated Press news feed about the Oscars on Sunday. It says that movie fans are treating it like their own Super Bowl of movies. They have their own version of tailgating at home, with champagne and fancy snacks instead of buffalo wings and beer. Then again, there's got to be at least one guy organizing an Oscar Party with Super Bowl-type snacks, plus beer to boot.
Ironically, fans of NASCAR and the NBA will do the same thing on Sunday, as the NBA All-Star Game and Daytona 500 are also scheduled for that day. Sunday will be more action-packed than Super Bowl XLVI was, because there's important stuff for more than 10 hours, 12 if you count The Walking Dead, 15 if you count Jimmy Kimmel's post-Oscar show.

In an attempt to attract younger views, despite the fact the age of the average Oscar voter is close to the average life expectancy, there's been some attempt to treat it like a Super Bowl, or March Madness. We already have several pre-game shows otherwise known as Hollywood's best coming down the Red Carpet. Is it that much different than the two teams in the Super Bowl gathering on the field while 75,000 people wait with baited breath for the game to start? Remember, it used to be that E! had the Red Carpet show. Now there's at least three, including ABC's "pre-game" show.

Keeping that in mind, there must also be examples of people who decide to go to a Super Bowl even if they can't possibly afford tickets. They just want to be part of it somehow. Since that's the case, it's the same for the Academy Awards, especially as it's the first one in a decade that is not from the Kodak Theater, but a facility at the Hollywood and Highland Center that used to be called the Kodak Theater. Thanks loads, digital cameras.
There's bound to be a big group close to the theater, hoping to get a look at George Clooney, Meryl Streep or Christopher Plummer, even if it's from 300 yards away, if that close.

And, through taking a risk that sadly didn't pay off, I'm going to be one of those people. The only upside is that getting a cheap flight and cheap hotel wasn't that tough, and it may help me get really close to flying to Comic-Con for free in July, thanks to Rapid Rewards.

1iota, my usual source for Jimmy Kimmel tickets, had a contest where 100 people would be in a special bleacher section on the Oscar Red Carpet. Sadly, no cameras and phones are allowed, but that's expected. It's a high-class version of a talk show taping. I entered it early, and my request was "pending" for more than a week. However, there were also thousands of other "pending" requests. All but 100, my guess people in their 20s-30s who were locals, were turned down. I was planning to cancel my plane ticket, but found out my hotel reservation could not be cancelled.
So, what the heck? Maybe I'll bump into Jessica Chastain at a Pinkberry's. At least I'll still have time afterwards for a bit of swag-hunting.

My only concern is where am I going to see the main show after the Red Carpet antics are done. I hope there's a friendly hotel where I can snack on happy hour stuff and free wi-fi. That's more than enough.

I'll bring as much Oscar swag as I can get, from the crew passes from 1988 to a hat and Governor's Ball pin. I could bring my ad mock-ups from New York, New York, and hope I meet Scorsese, but that's too delusional. I just hope I can go home with a piece of Oscar, the spirit if not the statue.