(1) CALL FOR CLEANUP ON CHANNEL 3. TechCrunch has an eye-opening story — “Walmart’s Vudu shows off original content and shoppable ads, hints at interactive shows”.
…[Vudu Senior Director Julian] Franco had more details to share when it came to Vudu’s plans for non-interactive, original content. He announced that the service is producing (in partnership with eOne and Bell Canada) “Albedo,” a science fiction detective series from “Rampage” director Brad Peyton that will premiere next year, and will mark “Lost” star Evangeline Lilly’s return to TV. In addition, the first three episodes of Nickelodeon’s remake “Blues Clues & You” will premiere on Vudu before they air on linear TV.
Also in the works are unscripted shows like “Turning Point with Randy Jackson” and “Friends in Strange Places,” a travel show with Queen Latifah.
In total, the service will be premiering around a dozen original movies and TV shows later this year, Franco said.
As for those shoppable ads, Vudu Chief Operating Officer and Head of Product Scott Blanksteen said the service is already testing them. These are ads that allow you to purchase the featured products through a pop-up window. He added that these ads are dynamic, changing based on viewer preferences.
(2) WESTEROS SPINOFFS. Although Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman told The Hollywood Reporter in April that his time with the franchise is over for now—because the spinoff series he was attached to is officially scrubbed, George R.R.Martin had this to say on his blog.
Oh, and speaking of television, don’t believe everything you read. Internet reports are notoriously unreliable. We have had five different GAME OF THRONES successor shows in development (I mislike the term “spinoffs”) at HBO, and three of them are still moving forward nicely. The one I am not supposed to call THE LONG NIGHT will be shooting later this year, and two other shows remain in the script stage, but are edging closer. What are they about? I cannot say. But maybe some of you should pick up a copy of FIRE & BLOOD and come up with your own theories.
(3) WILDE MOVES INTO ACADEME. Western Colorado University’s “Graduate Program in Creative Writing” has appointed writer Fran Wilde as Director of their Genre Fiction MA / MFA Program.
(4) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born May 5, 1908 — Pat Frank. Author of Alas, Babylon. also wrote a 160-page non-fiction book, How To Survive the H Bomb And Why (1962). (Insert irony here.) Forbidden Area, another novel, he wrote, was adapted by Rod Serling for the 1957 debut episode of Playhouse 90. (Died 1964.)
- Born May 5, 1926 — Richard Cowper, penname of John Middleton Murry Jr. Christopher Priest in his obit says ‘His best SF is found in the novel The Twilight of Briareus and the books in the White Bird of Kinship series, but most of his short stories were also remarkable. His work always stood out in the SF genre: he was anachronistic, but he dazzled with his elegant, precise, bountiful prose.’ (Died 2002.)
- Born May 5, 1942 — Marc Alaimo, 77. Best known for his role as recurring villain Gul Dukat on Deep Space Nine. He was also a security officer in Total Recall named Captain Everett, and the human form of an alien in The Last Starfighter.
- Born May 5, 1942 — Lee Killough, 77. Author of two series, the Brill and Maxwell series which I read a very long time ago and remember enjoying, and the Bloodwalk series which doesn’t ring even a faint bell. I see she’s written a number of stand-alone novels as well – who’s read deeply of her?
- Born May 5, 1943 — Michael Palin, 76. Monty Python of course. I’ll single him out for writing Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life and co-writing Time Bandits with Terry Gilliam. Though decidedly not genre, I going to single him out for being in A Fish Called Wanda for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
- Born May 5, 1944 — John Rhys-Davies, 75. Known for his portrayal of Gimli and the voice of Treebeard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, General Leonid Pushkin in The Living Daylights, King Richard I in Robin of Sherwood, Professor Maximillian Arturo in Sliders, Macbeth in Gargoyles, Hades in Justice League and Sallah in the Indiana Jones films.
- Born May 5, 1979 — Catherynne M. Valente, 40. The list thing I read by her was The Refrigerator Monologues which is a lot of fun. Space Opera is in by TBR pile and I’d like to know what y’all thought of it. My favorite work by her? Oh, by far that’d be the two volumes of The Orphan’s Tales which I go back to fairly often — stunning writing. If you’ve not read them yet, here’s her telling “The Tea Maid And The Tailor” as excerpted from In the Night Garden which is from Green Man.
- Born May 5, 1983 — Henry Cavill, 46. Best known portraying Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. He appears next in Mission: Impossible – Fallout. He did early in his career as Mike in Hellraiser: Hellworld and was The Hunter In Red Riding Hood, an interesting musical.
(5) COMICS SECTION.
- Free Range tells a story about Noah that was left out of Genesis.
- Frank and Ernest have questionable advice for scientists searching for extraterrestrial life.
(6) STARFLEET CREDENTIALS. SYFY Wire introduces the new recruits: “Felines join Starfleet in Chronicle Collectibles’ cool new line of Star Trek Cats”.
“To Boldly Go Where No Cat Has Gone Before” is a motto that Texas-based Chronicle Collectibles has taken to heart with its wonderfully whiskered new line, the Star Trek Cats Collection, which is based on the whimsical feline artwork of Jenny Parks.
(7) YODA, HOW YOU’VE GROWN! Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia dressed up as Yoda on Star Wars Day and helped give out bobbleheads at the park before the game.
(8) FAN MAIL FROM A FLOUNDER? Galactic Journey has reached the publication date of a fan letter by one of its contributors — [May 2, 1964] The Big Time (May 1964 Analog).
Many people harbor a desire for fame — their face on the screen, their star on a boulevard, their name in print. That’s why it’s been so gratifying to have been given plaudits by no less a personage than Rod Serling, as well as the folks who vote for the Hugos.
But it wasn’t until this month that one of us finally made the big time. Check out this month’s issue of Analog, for in the very back is a letter whose sardonic commentary makes the author evident even before one gets to the byline. Yes, it’s our very own John Boston, Traveler extraordinaire.
Bravo, Mr. Boston. You’ve got a bright future.
As for Analog… there the outlook isn’t so clear….
(9) WHEN THE TRAINS RUN ON TIME. John Scalzi weighs in with his (spoiler free) “Review: Avengers: Endgame”.
With that said, “watchable” and “entertaining in the moment” are not precisely the same thing to me as “fun” and “enjoyable.” Watching Endgame to me felt like being on a forced march through a checklist of plot points and character moments, and after a (very short) time I began to be rather conscious of all the scenes that existed not to be an organic moment of story but to be fanservice for a particular character (or set of characters), or to make sure some barely-remembered loose end was tucked in. By the third act and its climactic and overstuffed battle scene, it stopped being clever and started being exhausting. I felt like a kid on vacation being dragged to all the sights on a tour, with no time to really enjoy any of them because look, we’re on a schedule here.
(10) HEAVY METAL. Camestros Felapton returns from his mountaintop experience with a series of Hugo nominee reviews, such as — “Hugo 2019 Novels: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik”.
…Spinning Silver is not “Uprooted 2” but it shares common features: based on folk tale tropes and using a (sort of) Eastern European setting to tell an original story with familiar aspects. Instead, we get a story of multiple characters navigating a world of promises, oaths and bargains and the consequences of ambiguous terms.
(11) GETTING READY TO LAUNCH. Astronaut Scott Kelly advised a New York Times reporter about “How to Prepare Yourself for Space”.
“You’ve been trying not to pee in your pants your whole life,” says the retired astronaut Scott Kelly, who wore a diaper for liftoff and landing on all four of his space missions. Going into orbit will require you to confront your body in ways you don’t have to on Earth. Get over decades of conditioning by rehearsing basic bodily functions on land: Put on a diaper, lie on the floor with your legs up on the couch, and practice urinating without shame or gravity’s assistance. (Don’t, and you’ll risk damaging your bladder when your body won’t relieve itself in space.)
Leaving Earth is dangerous; you might die, and you should acknowledge and grapple with that before you go. Kelly has spent a total of 520 days in space. Before departing, he always wrote letters to his loved ones to be opened only in the case of his death. Seek help beforehand. Don’t step foot in a spacecraft without some counseling….
(12) AN APPEAL FOR MORE MASSIVE MEDIA. The opening of BBC’s article “Why David Cameron set Tina Fey a secret mission to change British TV” is followed by interesting nitty-gritty discussion of differences in approach and economics.
It’s not unusual for TV fans to wish that their favourite shows would carry on (Fleabag anyone?). But it seems viewers who long for more have an unlikely ally – former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Speaking on David Tennant’s podcast, US writer and actress Tina Fey revealed that, while leader, Mr Cameron implored her to lobby the British TV industry to churn out as many episodes as US shows do.
“Come and convince our showrunners that they can’t just make six episodes of things. Like you guys, they should make 200 episodes,” she recalled him saying.
Fey rejected the request, however, explaining that US writers were, in fact, jealous of the less-is-more British approach.
(13) FUSSIN’ & FEUDIN’. The cold opening of last night’s Saturday Night Live is a Family Feud episode pitting the Game of Thrones against the Avengers.
[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Carl Slaughter, Andrew Porter, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]