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1  Heroic Sagas of Myth & Culture / Lord of the Rings / Why Guillermo del Toro left 'The Hobbit' on: June 01, 2010, 01:24:58 pm
Why Guillermo del Toro left 'The Hobbit'
By Adam B. Vary,
June 1, 2010 11:01 a.m. EDT

Peter Jackson will not take Guillermo del Toro's place directing "The Hobbit."STORY HIGHLIGHTS
MGM co-owns the rights to a feature film version of "The Hobbit" with New Line Cinema

"The Hobbit" films are still slated for release in December 2012 and December 2013

New Line and Warner Bros. executives will meet to decide who will direct the film

Peter Jackson
Guillermo del Toro
The Hobbit
( -- Over the last four years, there has scarcely been another project in Hollywood that has been more highly anticipated -- and has weathered more back-room corporate wrangling -- than "The Hobbit." So when filmmaker Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth," "Hellboy") announced he was dropping out of directing the two films planned for J.R.R. Tolkien's literary preamble to "The Lord of the Rings," the news served as both a shock to fans and yet another possible casualty in the sad ongoing saga of MGM Studios.

As Del Toro and "The Hobbit" producer Peter Jackson explained to"LOTR" fansite, the two "Hobbit" films are still slated for release in December 2012 and December 2013. And Del Toro is still collaborating on the screenplay with Jackson and his LOTR co-screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. But why did Del Toro walk away from one of the most highly coveted director's chairs in modern cinema? And who could possibly step in to replace him?

The answer to the first question may in part be found in the debt-soaked balance sheets at MGM, which co-owns the rights to a feature film version of "The Hobbit" with New Line Cinema, the studio that made the "LOTR" trilogy. Late last year, MGM officially went up for sale with a reported $3.7 billion in debt, a process that has dragged on for months and thrown the prospect of future projects at the venerable studio into question -- including, for example, another James Bond film.

Just last Friday, Del Toro told the press in a conference call promoting "Splice" (which he is exec producing) that the uncertainty surrounding MGM's future means that "The Hobbit" has no official greenlight and cannot move forward. "We have been caught in a very tangled negotiation," Del Toro said. "Now I have been on the project for nearly two years. We have designed all the creatures, the sets, the wardrobe, animatics and planned action sequences and we are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered. We don't know anything until the MGM situation is resolved."

A source close to the production tells EW that MGM's impending sale has had absolutely no impact on the status of "The Hobbit," and stresses that December 2010 has always been the target production start date and is not expected to change with Del Toro's replacement.

When Del Toro signed on to direct "The Hobbit" two years ago, he moved to New Zealand to work with Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens, knowing full well what signing on to direct two giant movies back-to-back would mean. "It's about a half-a-decade of commitment," he told EW in April 2008. "A huge endeavor." Two years later, the production still is not underway, MGM's financial future is in limbo, and several other of Del Toro's commitments as a director and producer are hanging in the balance -- including possible films of "Frankenstein" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Del Toro apparently felt that the endeavor back into Middle Earth would have to proceed without him at the helm. Jackson's manager Ken Kamins tells EW via e-mail that he approached Jackson on Saturday with his thinking and decision.

So who could take Del Toro's place? Not Jackson. "As for Peter directing," writes Kamins from New Zealand, "that's not something he can consider at this time as he has other commitments to other projects. But make no mistake, Peter and Fran's commitment to the franchise is total and will do everything necessary to protect the films and the investment made by New Line, Warner Bros. and MGM." (Studio reps have not responded to requests for comment.)

Kamins says execs from New Line and Warner Bros. will be meeting with him, Jackson and Walsh this week to hammer out who will take on the job of directing "The Hobbit." And until the announcement is made, why not partake in some wild speculation? I'm personally intrigued by the idea of Del Toro's old buddy Alfonso Cuarón taking the reigns; between "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and "Children of Men," he certainly knows how to pull off sweeping spectacle with deep feeling. But who do you think should take the reigns of "The Hobbit?" Sam Mendes? Tim Burton? Michel Gondry? Someone else? Or do you think Del Toro can never be replaced

2  Media & Film / the History of Film / Re: Marilyn Monroe's Writing To Be Released In Collection This Fall on: June 01, 2010, 01:20:20 pm****-as-n_n_595858.html
3  Media & Film / the History of Film / Marilyn Monroe's Writing To Be Released In Collection This Fall on: June 01, 2010, 01:19:05 pm
Marilyn Monroe's Writing To Be Released In Collection This Fall
HILLEL ITALIE | 04/27/10 03:38 PM | 

NEW YORK — Musings about life, literature and other rarely seen writings by Marilyn Monroe will be published this fall. Farrar, Straus & Giroux announced Tuesday that "Fragments" would come out in October. Editor Courtney Hodell said the book would include poems, photographs, reflections on third husband Arthur Miller and other men in Monroe's life, and references to works by Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and numerous other authors.

"I think the book will show that she was a really thoughtful person with a real interior life," Hodell said. "She was a great reader and someone with real writing flair. There are fragments of poetry that are really quite beautiful, lines that stop you in your tracks."

The book features a long essay about Monroe's first husband, James Dougherty; notes about acting and the roles she was working on; lists of resolutions and a letter to acting coach Lee Strasberg. Monroe wrote on everything from spiral bound notebooks to stationery from the Waldorf Astoria.

The writings date from 1943, when Monroe was a teenager, to near the end of her life. Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home in 1962 at age 36, her death ruled a probable suicide, although theories of murder have proliferated.

Hodell said there were passages by Monroe that "make her seem suicidal," but declined to say what years the passages were written. Hodell also declined to say whether Monroe referred to Joe DiMaggio, her second of three husbands, or President John F. Kennedy, with whom she was widely rumored to have had an affair. But Hodell did say that "there's stuff about all of her relationships here."

The book was commissioned by Anna Strasberg, who manages Monroe's estate and is Lee Strasberg's widow.
4  Alternate Archaeology / Alternate Archaeology / Re: Fingerprints of the Gods: The Evidence of Earth's Lost Civilization on: May 20, 2010, 03:18:37 pm
5  Literature / Book Reviews / "Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" on: May 20, 2010, 03:12:35 pm
A Thom Hartmann Autographed Edition. Newly Revised and Updated "Unequal Protection: How Corporations Became "People" -- And You Can Fight Back." Expanded Edition to be Released on May 14th.
By Thom Hartmann's Review (excerpt)
This is the hot off the presses updated and expanded version of Thom Hartmann's prescient book, which warned of the dangers of corporate personhood, and provides its historical shaky legal grounding dating back to the late 1800s.

Thom Hartmann's Update and Expanded Edition of
Unequal Protection

Includes discussion of the infamous January 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United case allowing "corporate personhood" to more easily buy elections.

Especially Autographed for BuzzFlash Readers by Thom Hartmann for a limited time.

Released on May 14, 2010

The Rise of Corporate Dominance and
the Theft of Human Rights

• By America’s most popular progressive radio host

• Updated throughout, including analysis of recent critical Supreme Court decisions

• Reveals how corporations achieved their current near-imperial status and what we can do to change it

Unequal taxes, unequal accountability for crime, unequal influence, unequal control of the media, unequal access to natural resources—corporations have gained these privileges and more by exploiting their legal status as persons and by winning special protections that enable them to avoid the responsibilities that come with these rights. How did something so illogical and unjust become the law of the land? Is there a way for American citizens to recover democracy of, by, and for the people? Thom Hartmann takes on these difficult questions and tells a startling story that will forever change your understanding of American history.

Americans have been struggling with the role of corporations since before the birth of the republic. Hartmann uncovers evidence that the Boston Tea Party was actually a protest against actions of the East India Company—the world’s first modern corporation—making it the great-great-granddaddy of today’s World Trade Organization protests. But eventually the corporations won. Hartmann tells the astonishing story of how an offhand comment by a Supreme Court justice led to the Fourteenth Amendment—originally passed to grant basic rights to freed slaves—becoming the justification for changing the status of corporations from “artificial persons” with limited rights to persons entitled to the same rights granted to human beings.

Unequal Protection details the deeply destructive results. Corporations now enjoy extraordinary privileges that make them virtually independent kingdoms. This new feudalism is not what our founders intended. Hartmann proposes specific legal remedies that could truly save the world from political, economic, and ecological disaster. It’s time for “we, the people” to take back our lives.

With huge corporations now benefiting from massive taxpayer-funded bailouts, Hartmann’s hard-hitting critique of corporate personhood is more timely than ever. This new edition has been thoroughly updated and features Hartmann’s analysis of two recent critical Supreme Court corporate speech cases.
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6  Literature / Book Reviews / Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire on: May 20, 2010, 03:11:03 pm
Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played With Fire (Paperback, 3/23/10)
Stieg Larsson's Review (excerpt)
Reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire has been one of my recent guilty pleasures. I literally could not put them down. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most fascinating characters I've come across in a long time.
-- Terry Soto,

Stieg Larsson's seething heroine, Lisbeth Salander, once again finds herself paired with journalist Mikael Blomkvist on the trail of a sinister criminal enterprise. Only this time, Lisbeth must return to the darkness of her own past (more specifically, an event coldly known as "All the Evil") if she is to stay one step ahead--and alive.

The Girl Who Played with Fire is a break-out-in-a-cold-sweat thriller that crackles with stunning twists and dismisses any talk of a sophomore slump. Fans of Larsson's prior work will find even more to love here, and readers who do not find their hearts racing within the first five pages may want to confirm they still have a pulse. Expect healthy doses of murder, betrayal, and deceit, as well as enough espresso drinks to fuel downtown Seattle for months. --Dave Callanan

From Publishers Weekly:

Fans of intelligent page-turners will be more than satisfied by Larsson's second thriller, even though it falls short of the high standard set by its predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which introduced crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist and punk hacker savant Lisbeth Salander. A few weeks before Dag Svensson, a freelance journalist, plans to publish a story that exposes important people involved in Sweden's sex trafficking business based on research conducted by his girlfriend, Mia Johansson, a criminologist and gender studies scholar, the couple are shot to death in their Stockholm apartment. Salander, who has a history of violent tendencies, becomes the prime suspect after the police find her fingerprints on the murder weapon. While Blomkvist strives to clear Salander of the crime, some far-fetched twists help ensure her survival. Powerful prose and intriguing lead characters will carry most readers along.
Read The Full Review >>>
Product Description
Buy more progressive premiums to support BuzzFlash progressive news and commentary (we accept no advertising, corporate or otherwise to maintain our complete independence) by going to The BuzzFlash Progressive Marketplace.
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7  Earth Changes / Ecology / Animal Intelligence on: May 20, 2010, 03:05:40 pm
For Those Interested in the Growing Field of Animal Intelligence. Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence--and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process (Paperback)
By Irene Pepperberg's Review (excerpt)
We heard a couple of radio interviews with Irene Pepperberg and were absolutely blown away by her learned discussion of animal intelligence, and how science is revealing how many animals have much more capability for communication and emotion than we have commonly accepted.

Pepperberg's book uses her 30 year scientific and personal interaction with Alex, a parrot, as a point of departure for this insightful discussion of how many animal brains are capable of far more than we ever knew.

Book description:

On September 6, 2007, an African Grey parrot named Alex died prematurely at age thirty-one. His last words to his owner, Irene Pepperberg, were "You be good. I love you."

What would normally be a quiet, very private event was, in Alex's case, headline news. Over the thirty years they had worked together, Alex and Irene had become famous�two pioneers who opened an unprecedented window into the hidden yet vast world of animal minds. Alex's brain was the size of a shelled walnut, and when Irene and Alex first met, birds were not believed to possess any potential for language, consciousness, or anything remotely comparable to human intelligence. Yet, over the years, Alex proved many things. He could add. He could sound out words. He understood concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none. He was capable of thought and intention. Together, Alex and Irene uncovered a startling reality: We live in a world populated by thinking, conscious creatures.

The fame that resulted was extraordinary. Yet there was a side to their relationship that never made the papers. They were emotionally connected to one another. They shared a deep bond far beyond science. Alex missed Irene when she was away. He was jealous when she paid attention to other parrots, or even people. He liked to show her who was boss. He loved to dance. He sometimes became bored by the repetition of his tests, and played jokes on her. Sometimes they sniped at each other. Yet nearly every day, they each said, "I love you."

Alex and Irene stayed together through thick and thin�despite sneers from experts, extraordinary financial sacrifices, and a nomadic existence from one univer�sity to another. The story of their thirty-year adventure is equally a landmark of scientific achievement and of an unforgettable human-animal bond.

From an online reviewer: When scientist Irene Pepperberg wanted to study animal cognition and language, she purchased an African Grey Parrot, who she named Alex. What followed was a thirty-year partnership that rocked the foundations of our understanding of animal intelligence and challenged all previous assumptions of the phrase "birdbrain." Pepperberg writes beautifully, bringing the study of language and cognition to an easily-understood level without dumbing down the impact of her work. Beyond science, however, Pepperberg captures the dignity and personality of Alex, a lovable and admirable creature whose early death was a tragic loss.

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