Friday night movie news dump

Regulars might have noticed a bit less movie news this week. Don’t worry, I won’t try to cover everything that happened in movieland this week tonight. Unfortunately, I have to start with three notable deaths.

* The saddest for me personally, and perhaps for some of you horror fans out there, is the most recent. Dan O’Bannon has died from Crohn’s Disease at age 63. Best known for the horror-comedy hit, “The Return of the Living Dead,” and for writing the screenplay for “Alien,” O’Bannon emerged out of U.S.C.’s film school with his friend, John Carpenter and together they collaborated on an odd science fiction comedy called “Dark Star.” While few remember that film, it set them both on a pretty interesting path.

When I was in the middle of high school and at the height of my geekness  (three terms as president of the Venice High science fiction club!), I actually met O’Bannon in some odd circumstances at a crisis point in his career. Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you the story, but suffice it to say he seemed like a good guy and he was clearly something of a minor genius. He’ll be very much missed.

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* Roy Disney, the nephew of Walt Disney and the son of Roy O. Disney, also passed on at age 79. The younger Disney emerged as a king-maker and king-breaker of sorts, launching insurgent movements that wound up putting Michael Eisner in charge of the studio in 1984 and then deposing him in 2004.

* Finally, if you’re a former film student like myself you’ve probably had to read some of the work of famed academic critic and scholar Robin Wood, who was so respected that almost no one noticed when serious film-criticism aficionado Joss Whedon named a supercool cool high school principal/cum monster-fighter after him on “Buffy.” (How could anyone namecheck him on a mere TV show? It had to be a coincidence.) One of the first critics to approach genre films seriously, he is famous for works on Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, among many others. He has passed on at age 78, and the always interesting Glenn Kenny has a remembrance.

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TCA Tour, Day 2: “Glenn Martin, DDS”

Last month, I had a chat with Kevin Nealon in conjunction with his most recent gig for TBS (he’s the standing host of their funniest-commercials specials), and during the conversation, he dropped a little bit of info about his upcoming stop-motion animated Nick at Nite series, “Glenn Martin, DDS”:

“It’s about a family who’s traveling around the country in an RV called the Molar Express. I play Glenn Martin, DDS, and I’m working my practice out of the RV. My wife is played by Catherine O’Hara, and we have a couple of kids. It’s a dysfunctional family, and it’s along the same lines of ‘Family Guy’ and ‘The Simpsons.’ We go to different parts of the country each week and get into a bunch of trouble. It’s stop-motion animation, and they really did a good job with it. I was really impressed with the results.”

It’s a good thing I was able to get Kevin’s comments on the show during our conversation, however, as the TCA panel dedicated to the series was very much under the control of the show’s executive producer, the one and only Michael Eisner. The show was introduced to the crowd by Cyma Zarghami, President of Nickelodeon and MTV Networks Kids and Family, and we would soon know why she was smirking when she asked Eisner, “Michael, do you want to say something before we start?” Worse, most of the things he had to say really didn’t serve to illuminate us very much about the show…or, at least, no more so than Kevin already had last month.

We did, however, learn at least one new thing: “Glenn Martin, DDS” will have a laugh track.

Co-creator Eric Fogel acknowledged that it was something they had experimented with a little bit before finally deciding to go with it, but “we all just really enjoyed the experience with the laugh track. Somehow it seemed like it elevated the experience, made the characters feel more real in a way.”

“It’s kind of tongue in cheek, too,” said Nealon, “because you know there’s not a live audience watching it. I think it goes with the whole feel of the show.”

“I like to imagine that there’s actually an audience of clay puppets out there laughing at the show,” added Fogel.

Here’s the trailer for the series:

I miss the old days of stop-motion animation just enough to be curious about the series on general principle, and while Kevin Nealon might not be my favorite “Weekend Update” anchor, I do think he’s a funny guy. In other words, I’ll be tuning in when “Glenn Martin, DDS” premieres on Nick at Nite on August 17th.

  

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