(1) HOARDED GOLD. Amazon’s Rings of Power will cost $1B to make? That nice round number is bringing out skeptics.
Behind a paywall at Business Insider is an extensive analysis of “What Amazon’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Series Means for Its Streaming Future”.
…With “Rings of Power,” Amazon has given Hollywood something to talk about. No single season of television has ever cost as much. On top of the $250 million deal to secure the rights from J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate in 2017 — Amazon outbid rival big spenders HBO and Netflix — it’s been widely reported that the studio spent north of $460 million on production in New Zealand. Add tens of millions of dollars in marketing, promotions, and global red-carpet events and you arrive at the $1 billion total estimated by industry observers — with four more seasons planned.
The show is expected to be a hit, but if it somehow misses the mark, several sources told Insider the studio may face an existential crisis.
“The reason why it’s going to succeed is because the executives at Amazon need it to succeed. If it doesn’t succeed, there’s going to be a big question from Andy Jassy and the board,” said one former senior Amazon Studios exec. “If we can’t take this piece of IP and make it successful, why is Amazon Studios even here?”
“It has to succeed,” this person added. “There’s no option.”…
(2) ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER. Gizmodo points the way to a clip about one of the peoples in the forthcoming series: “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Meet the Harfoots”.
…Since Rings of Power’s ensemble is rather enormous, Prime Video has released this video focusing on just the Harfoots—according to Dylan Smith, who plays Largo Brandyfoot, they’re “arguably the biggest secret of the show,” since J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t write too much about them—to give viewers a sense of who they’ll be meeting when the series arrives….
(3) A LOOK AT VAN VOGT. The Middletown (PA) Public Library’s Science Fiction Book Club has added another to its online archive of Science Fiction Author Interviews. The new one is an interview with Charles Platt about A.E. van Vogt.
John Grayshaw: What makes van Vogt interesting from a critical perspective? What first drew you to his work?
CP: I first read his work when I was reading literally every science-fiction novel that was published. About one book per day. He wasn’t my favorite author, but I did respond to his flood of strange ideas and his unique way of building a narrative. It was utterly impossible to guess what would happen next. I loved that unexpectedness, and still do. (I re-read World of Null-A just recently. Its plot is so convoluted, I felt as if I should be taking notes. But instead I just enjoyed the roller-coaster ride.)…
(4) ERIC HOFFMAN (1944-2022). LA-area fan Eric Hoffman died August 27 after being badly burned in a home electrical fire. Hoffman, born in Brooklyn, came to California, and in 1965 joined LASFS. His deep interest in monster/horror films and sff TV history were reflected in the innumerable programs he assembled about those topics for local conventions, becoming a frequent panelist at Loscon, Westercon and the San Diego Comic-Con. The latter recognized Hoffman’s work as a film historian with the Inkpot Award in 1974. Also a Doctor Who fan, he did presentations at the local Gallifrey One event for thirty years.
Hoffman assisted in providing archival posters and images for movie documentaries, and provided history commentary for several monster and horror videos. He got in front of the camera twice, according to IMDB, first in Don Glut’s short Rocketman Flies Again (1966), and then as a bartender in Sorority House Massacre II (1990).
(5) MEMORY LANE.
1955 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Sixty-seven years ago, “Hyde and Hare”, a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon, was released in theaters as part of a reel with other such Looney Tunes cartoons. One reel would have six to ten minutes of these cartoons. This cartoon was particularly long at seven minutes.
SPOILER ALERT. REALLY, DO WE NEED ONE THIS LONG ON?
Bugs is looking for a warm, comfortable home instead of his hole in the Park, and he meets a Doctor who takes him home. That Doctor turns out to be Doctor Jekyll. Soon Hyde is trying to kill our rabbit. He fails repeatedly. Quite amazingly he fails.
It ends when Bugs leaves after drinking all of the potions. (Yes, there are two potions shown.) Nice take at the end on the Hyde like Bugs.
Yes, I rewatched it just now. Research you know. Not on HBO+ where it’s streaming but off iTunes where I downloaded a copy.
YOU CAN COME BACK NOW. REALLY YOU CAN.
It was directed by I. Freleng who was an animator, cartoonist, composer, director and producer (a man of many talents, wasn’t he?), mostly working at Warner Bros on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series. He’s responsible for over three hundred cartoons.
The story was by Warren Foster, a writer, cartoonist and composer for the animation division of Warner Brothers and later on with Hanna-Barbera. Of special note I think, he was the composer of Tweety’s theme song, “I Taut I Taw a Puddy Tat.” It was sung by Mel Blanc. Yes, I’m weird.
Mel Blanc of course did all the voices. Who else would?
Animation was by Gerry Chiniquy, Arthur Davis, Virgil Ross and Ted Ike . I’ll be honest and note that I don’t recognize any of them by name but the style here certainly is recognizable.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 27, 1922 — Frank Kelly Freas. I’ve no idea where I first encountered his unique style on a cover of a SF book, but I quickly spotted it everywhere. He had a fifty-year run on Astounding Science Fiction from the early Fifties and through its change to the Analog name — amazing! Yes, he won ten Pro Artist Hugos plus one Retro-Hugo, an impressive feat by anyone. There doesn’t appear to a decent portfolio of his work. (Died 2005.)
- Born August 27, 1945 — Edward Bryant. His only novel was Phoenix Without Ashes which was co-authored with Harlan Ellison and was an adaptation of Ellison’s pilot script for The Starlost. He won two Nebulas for his short stories “Stone” (1979) and “giANTS” (1980), which also were nominated for the Hugo, as was his novelette “The Thermals of August” (1982). I’m personally familiar his short fiction in the Wild Cards anthologies. Phoenix Without Ashes and all of his short stories are available in digital form. (Died 2017.)
- Born August 27, 1947 — Barbara Bach, Lady Starkey, 75. She’s best known for her role as the Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. One of her other genre appearances is in Caveman which her husband Ringo Starr is also cast.
- Born August 27, 1952 — Darrell Schweitzer, 70. Writer, editor, and critic. For his writing, I’d recommend Awaiting Strange Gods: Weird and Lovecraftian Fictions and Tom O’Bedlam’s Night Out and Other Strange Excursions. The Robert E. Howard Reader he did is quite excellent as is The Thomas Ligotti Reader.
- Born August 27, 1957 — Richard Kadrey, born 1957, aged sixty five years. I’m admittedly way behind on the Sandman Slim series having only read the first five books. I also enjoyed Metrophage: A Romance of the Future and I’ve still several years later got The Grand Dark on my interested to be read list.
- Born August 27, 1962 — Dean Devlin, 60. His first produced screenplay was Universal Soldier. He was a writer/producer working on Emmerich’s Moon 44. Together they co-wrote and produced Stargate, the first movie to have a web site. The team then produced Independence Day, Godzilla and Independence Day: Resurgence. They’re also credited for creating The Visitor series which lasted 13 episodes, and The Triangle, a miniseries which I’ll bet you can guess the premise.
- Born August 27, 1965 — Kevin Standlee, 57. He attended his first con in 1984, L.A. Con II. Later he co-chaired the 2002 Worldcon, ConJosé, in San José. One source says he made and participated in amateur Doctor Who films in the late 1980s. I wonder if he played Doctor Who? And I wonder if we can see these films?
- Born August 27, 1978 — Suranne Jones, 44. Not a long genre performance history but she shows up on the Doctor Who spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures as Mona Lisa. Yes, that Mona Lisa. She’ll be back on Doctor Who in “The Doctor’s Wife”, an Eleventh Doctor story as written by Neil Gaiman. She is Idris, a woman hosting the Matrix of the TARDIS.
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Peanuts / Endless mashup.
(8) THE NEXT EXORCIST. In the midst of a Q&A primarily about her history with Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg, “Ellen Burstyn Reveals Why She Said Yes to an ‘Exorcist’ Sequel” in The Hollywood Reporter.
I just got a scoop. Thank you.
You’re welcome. And I’ve shot most of the picture. The writer-director, David Gordon Green, I like very much. I met with him and we talked about the script and so forth, and I promised him four more days if he needed them. And he’s edited the film and he wants the four days, so I’m going back in November to shoot four more days. And it’ll come out in 2024, on the 50th anniversary of The Exorcist, the original.
(9) GETTING OFF THE GROUND. Francis Hamit urges everyone to contribute to “The All American film organizing fund” at Indiegogo. “I have to raise money to raise more money for this great epic World War Two film. Not just a war film but also a musical. That might not be science fiction or fantasy, but it sure feels like it.”
That image is of a real event that happened on February 1, 1943. A B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber named The All American was returning from a bombing raid when it was struck by a German fighter and almost cut in half. It lost part of its tail and suffered a 16 foot long, four foot wide gash on its left side. Ten men were aboard, all young men who a year before had been civilians and who had volunteered for the most dangerous duty of the war, aerial combat. They were part of the 414th Bomb Squard, 97th Bombardment Group, United States Army Air Force. Originally they were based at Grafton Underwood, England. It was there that Margaret Bourke-White joined the 97th. She was a beautiful, world famous photojournalist for LIFE magazine and determined to tell their story. Part of that meant flying with them on a bombing mission….
To actually make the film will take millions of dollars. I don’t expect to raise that here, but would like your help getting to the next phase. I need help paying for legal, publicity and staff. The next phase is raising the money,
(10) THROWING SAND IN THE GEARS. Variety took notes: “Neil Gaiman Says He Sabotaged Jon Peters’ ‘Sandman’ Movie by Leaking ‘Really Stupid’ Script”.
This year, Neil Gaiman’s comic book series “The Sandman” was finally adapted on screen in Netflix’s popular television series. But this is far from the first time that Hollywood tried to put the sprawling fantasy world to film.
In fact, Gaiman declined several movie offers for “The Sandman” throughout the last three decades, but the author recently revealed that he went as far as to sabotage an idea from “Wild Wild West” and “A Star Is Born” producer Jon Peters by leaking the script to the press.
“It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody,” Gaiman said in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“A guy in Jon Peters’ office phoned me up and he said, ‘So Neil, have you had a chance to read the script we sent you?’ And I said, ‘Well, yes. Yes, I did. I haven’t read all of it, but I’ve read enough.’ He says, ‘So, pretty good. Huh?’ And I said, ‘Well, no. It really isn’t.’ He said, ‘Oh, come on. There must have been stuff in there you loved.’ I said, ‘There was nothing in there I loved. There was nothing in there I liked. It was the worst script that I’ve ever read by anybody. It’s not just the worst Sandman script. That was the worst script I’ve ever been sent.’”…
(11) BACK TO THE MOON. While we’ve done a lot of Artemis Program stories, have we ever linked to the NASA: Artemis I website where all kinds of information and educational resources are gathered?
And here’s an update: “Our Artemis I Flight Test is “Go for Launch” on This Week @NASA – August 26, 2022”.
[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Jeffrey Smith, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day John A Arkansawyer.]
Scroll is here, Scroll is here
Life is Worldcon, life is Bheer”
6) I believe Kelly Freas’ widow has recently announced a big shiny compilation of his work, to be released within the next year or so.
Alas, it will not include the caricature of a much younger me which he made one Sunday morning at a Kubla Khon, not least because it’s never been published.
Darrell Schweitzer also worked with George Scithers – IIRC, helping edit the first six years of Asimov’s, and as an agent. And was involved in the revived Weird Tales. (ObDisclosure – he’s an old friend.)
I always loved Freas’s style. There’s a couple of works out there that I think I may have liked a little more than they deserved, simply because they came with Freas covers.
Is it worth mentioning his ten Pro Artist Hugos (plus one Retro-Hugo)?
6) Devlin had a minor role in the classic Real Genius.
1) Vaguely related. Yesterday I attended the wedding of my eldest daughter. After she and her husband to be exchanged rings, I’m proud to say I resisted the urge to jump up and proclaim: “But both of them were deceived, for there was another ring, a ring that held the others in thrall,” and place a ring on my finger with a theatrical flourish.
I did instead manage an “on this the day of my daughter’s wedding” quote during my toast, however.
9) I looked this one up (Wikipedia, but they’re generally accurate on military history). Amazingly, the airplane made it back to base and landed safely, with none of the crew injured. The gunners aboard the All American shot down both fighters attacking them, but the second lost control (possibly because the pilot was killed) and collided with its target.
(6) There are perhaps two pieces of art in the world that I would sell a piece of my soul to own. Kelly Freas’ cover illustration for The Green Hills of Earth is one of them. I saw it a number of times when Freas exhibited at southern conventions and stood in complete awe in front of it each time. He’d raised the asking price every time I saw it, always keeping it outside what I could convince myself to pay.
I was an idiot.
I’m sure I could’ve found a way to borrow the money. Heck, we even talked about installment plans. I cry just a little when I think it could be hanging in my living room right now.
I hope whoever owns it loves it as much as I do.
(1) So Tolkien’s lifetime project is a piece of IP to be monetized. Not surprising, that’s how the world works now. Is it wrong of me to wonder if that’s really what he had in mind?
(10) see above
Those words about the need for success sound awful panicky. @Jim Janney – yes, absolutely. I was going off on a screed until I read your succinct summation. Everyone here on the Scroll should be thanking you for your unintentional act of screedus interruptus.
(Creatives, beware: Or rather, warn your agents. The interest in your work is probably only an IP-centered one, and the studio negotiator’s don’t think anyone else realizes this. They aren’t trying to buy your stuff, they are trying to keep competitors from controlling it.)
@Orange Mike: I read that too recently – the new retrospective Kelly Freas art book.
Nicely encapsulates the relationship – that the originator of the work has to sabotage others in order to get decent results.
Jim Janney says So Tolkien’s lifetime project is a piece of IP to be monetized. Not surprising, that’s how the world works now. Is it wrong of me to wonder if that’s really what he had in mind?
I seriously doubt that he was thinking of his work as a product at all. It was just something he liked creating.
Most musicians I’ve worked as a promoter yes, needed to make a living but first were creative folk and very happy doing that.
When doing a concert with Dougie MacLean some decades back, he was asked by me to bring his fiddle, the joy in his voice was amazing as he was never, as he said, got asked to do that. He loved to play it and and he did for over an hour. He even played dance numbers, so he told the audience to get up and dance.
(Not my idea by the way, but a violinist with the local orchestra who wanted to play with him. And did that night to his great delight.)
(1) There are many SFF stories they could have adapted for less money. But the geniuses behind streaming are proving themselves to be not so smart. Or maybe they’re just looking for tax loopholes…
Maybe if they screw things up often enough, consumers will decide buying physical media isn’t such a bad idea.
(3) I’m finally reading “Slan” now. (I started it last year, but a shiny light attracted my attention.) I can’t imagine how anything could have distracted me from it the last time. Every time I turn the page, something terrible is about to happen. Again.
(6) I first learned about Frank Kelly Freas because my library had a copy of “Frank Kelly Freas: The Art of Science Fiction.” One of my favorites was the one with the pirate holding a slide rule with his teeth rather than a knife. Yes, it was dated even then, but it worked!
No plus sign in my name this time?… Hmm.
Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little, whose idea it was to play around with Tom Lehrer songs, should get an assist on today’s title. I wouldn’t’ve thought of it otherwise.
@Steve Davidson: actually I might enjoy a good screed. It seems to me, based on what I’ve heard and seen, that the Amazon project is somehow fundamentally missing the point in ways that I don’t know how to articulate. But I haven’t even read The Silmarillion, much less the later works, so I’m not in a position to say much.
Amazon is going to be Amazon: Rings of Power is probably best thought of as a transformative commercial reimagining. And with $250 million in hand, the Tolkien literary estate will be able to threaten lots of publishers of transformative feminist reimaginings, not that I have anything particular in mind. If I think of them as lying coiled on a hoard of gleaming IP inside of a burnt-out mountain, that probably isn’t quite fair either.
Jim Janney says Amazon is going to be Amazon: Rings of Power is probably best thought of as a transformative commercial reimagining. And with $250 million in hand, the Tolkien literary estate will be able to threaten lots of publishers of transformative feminist reimaginings, not that I have anything particular in mind. If I think of them as lying coiled on a hoard of gleaming IP inside of a burnt-out mountain, that probably isn’t quite fair either.
I long ago decided that I didn’t need to see any adaptation of anything that I love.
That’s why I’ve not seen the the much lauded BBC The City & The City series though I’ve listened to the John Lee narrative oh so many times now.
I saw the Peter Jackson The Lord of The Rings film. Well the first one. I wasn’t all that impressed, and stopped there. I love the books, and have read them a number of times. The new Serkis The Lord of the Rings audiobook reading is quite awesome.
RIP Eric Hoffman
Sorry to hear of his passing.
Eric heavily involved with the local Doctor Who group in the late 1970’s. He used to do his “Doctor Who Talk” at Bjo’s Equicon conventions, and was still doing an updated version of the talk the last Loscon I attended, somewhere between 2010 and 2015.
I do recall one incident that he related to me with a mischievous gleam in his eye. At his workplace one day, a particularly devout and religious co-worker approached him, and asked him if he’d “found God.” Eric was not religious, and turned to the man, put on his most sardonic and menacing face, and said, “I AM THE DEVIL INCARNATE!” The man never approached him again.
He was a quite a character. Condolences to his friends, and family.
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John A Arkansawyer on August 28, 2022 at 7:00 am said:
Well, I’m sure someone would have! No, you did the heavy lifting, you get the credit – and well deserved, too.
There’s somebody who’s read the book.
10) It doesn’t seem that any of the articles bothered to look up that AICN article, but it has some good bits: http://legacy.aintitcool.com/node/2571
It’s really remarkable to me that Warner Bros. continues to throw such high-profile, potentially profitable franchises at Jon Peters, a con artist and hack of the highest degree. The man hasn’t had an original idea (or a hit) in a decade. He is poison. I can’t say this in strong enough terms. Take this project away from him. Eat whatever costs have already gone into development. Wait for Brad Bird and his team to finish IRON GIANT, then give them this property. Have Gaiman write the script for the animated film. He’s practicing right now with the American translation script for PRINCESS MONONOKE. Do the film right, and you will be rewarded.
The Zombie Legions (see also Part 2 and Part 3) and its sequel, Those Darn Daleks (see also Part 2 and Part 3).
You may be surprised what you see, particularly in Part 1 of Those Darn Daleks.
Thanks for the Birthday listing. I couldn’t answer at the time because I boarded Amtrak’s California Zephyr for a three-day/two-night trip to Chicago for Worldcon, (arrived this afternoon) and internet connectivity for much of the trip (particularly the part traveling through the Rocky Mountains), is poor.