Is There Life In Arrested?

‘Ere, he says he's not dead.
Yes he is.
I'm not.

More evidence that Arrested Development hasn’t breathed its last breath. The New York Post’s Page Six said that U.S. network Showtime has not only picked up the (unofficially) canceled show but also ordered 26 more episodes. Meanwhile TV Squad has dug around a bit that they are just in negotiations – which is still better than being D.O.A.

So the question is, should it be allowed to enter the realm called Too Good For TV? It was a fantastic show and had three seasons of brilliance. Is it time to leave well enough alone?

Nah. Let’s have some more, stat! Sure there’s a worry that a show will survive beyond its time but there is no evidence that Arrested is anywhere near jumping the proverbial shark.

Da Vinci Code a Holy Conspiracy

Now if we could only find a way to get some publicity for this film...The Da Vinci Code is under fire. Not from Catholic secret society Opus Dei (though it is none too fond of the mega-selling book) but by the authors of another conspiratorial book about an alternative lineage of Jesus Christ.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, authors of the 1982 nonfiction book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, are suing Random House over the allegation that parts of their work formed the basis of Dan Brown's novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies.

Both books are anchored by the theory that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and they had a child, and that bloodline survives to this day. Holy Blood, Holy Grail adds that Christ did not die on the cross but lived later in France, Both agree that there is a conspiracy to hid the bloodline. (Get many, many legal details here.)

There is indeed a conspiracy here, but it has little to do with the contents of the books. This story was picked up across the world. It was one of the lead items on the national newscast I watched, which devoted several minutes to it. High up in many of the pieces was something about how an injunction barring the use of their material could hold up the release of The Da Vinci Code film – May 19! Starring Tom Hanks! Don’t miss it!

So what did we get out of this? Two books, both published by Random House are in a legal battle. Sales of The Da Vinci Code are unlikely to rise much more, but there may be someone who hadn’t heard about it before. It is already working for Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which was up to number nine on's top sellers list as of Monday night, five slots below The Da Vinci Code, according to E Online!

And how much would it cost Sony to buy the amount of publicity this dispute is generating? I can’t prove any of this is true, but court costs would be a drop in the bucket of a blockbuster marketing campaign.

Never Mind the Hall of Fame

Outside the shit-stem is a real Sex PistolThe Sex Pistols have given the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the finger.

Last year the band, Black Sabbath, Miles Davis, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blondie were all inducted into the Hall, with the ceremonies to take place in March. Many would say the recognition is long overdue.

Well, the Sex Pistols aren’t coming, writing the organizers a polite little note on frontman Johnny Rotten's site:
"Next to the sex Pistols, rock and roll and that hall of fame is a piss stain. Your museum. Urine in wine. We're not coming. Were not your monkey and so what? Fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table, or $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery, goes to a non-profit organization selling us a load of old famous.

“Congratulations. If you voted for us, hope you noted your reasons. Your anonymous as judges, but your still music industry people. Were not coming. Your not paying attention. Outside the shit-stem is a real Sex Pistol."
Nice to see a little of the punk attitude still alive – even if it is over something like a Hall of Fame induction.

Don’t’ Call It A Comeback

I'm Dave Chappelle, bitchThe cover of the latest Entertainment Weekly has a line on the bottom right corner that says Dave Chappelle: His Wild Comeback Explodes With A Thrilling New Movie.

Comeback? Not really. Sure he hasn’t been in the public eye, but his movie Dave Chappelle’s Block Party was shown at the Toronto Film Festival back in September and was filmed long before he:
a) Went crazy
b) Went into rehab
c) Succumbed to the pressure
d) Was forced out by powerful black celebs
e) All of the above

But comeback is how you sell things. Which is why he had to do his mea culpa on Oprah’s show – Oprah being one of the influential black entertainers and politicians who (in a grand conspiracy theory) knocked Chappelle off his perch.

The theory held that these figures weren’t happy with the “negative stereotypes about African Americans” his show was perpetuating. So what did he tell Oprah? “I was doing sketches that were funny but socially irresponsible."

Of course the theory was all just a joke. Wasn’t it?

Licence to Whine

Stand in front of me and say that.
Daniel Craig just can’t catch a break. After a huge search to find a new James Bond, the iconic British spy, the actor got the nod.

It’s a huge role, vaulting any actor who snags it into the international spotlight. You’d think it would be a time to celebrate, foregoing the shaken martinis and cracking open the champagne.

And perhaps he is, but there is some serious opposition to the “blonde Bond.” A group of 007 fans is seriously unhappy with the choice.

"How can a short, blond actor with the rough face of a professional boxer and a penchant for playing killers, cranks, cads and gigolos pull off the role of a tall, dark, handsome and suave secret agent?" asks the site

The complainers are calling for a boycott of any film with Craig in it and are calling for Pierce Brosnan to be reinstated. I agree that Brosnan was an excellent Bond and he did get unceremoniously pushed out of the role, I also understand what the producers are doing.

Casino Royale is meant to hark back to a younger, harder Bond of the Ian Flemming novels, a more youthful, realistic and cold character, a la Jason Bourne. They are reinventing the franchise by returning to the origins of the character, much like Batman has recently done. It’s a good idea.

The petitioners don’t appear to be complaining about this, just about he physical appearance of Craig, which is a fantastically superficial complaint. They also say there have been five great Bonds. Anyone who says George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton were great Bonds are clearly dillusional.

Previous Bond posts:
Royale Flush
My Gossip Runneth Over
Shaken and Stirred
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The Bond is Dead, Long Live the Bond

When Self Promoters Attack

Those were the days. Can't you feel the love?Martha Stewart and Donald Trump have started up a monumental pissing match in the past couple of days. They are both incredibly rich, middle-aged and WASPy, so no bullets are flying but there is a lot of media bitch slapping.

Martha says the original plan for her version of The Apprentice was for her to fire The Donald on-air during the premiere. "Having two Apprentices was as unfair to him as it was unfair to me," she told Newsweek. "But Donald really wanted to stay on."

The Donald was having none of it. "I'm tired of Martha blaming me for her failure," he responded today. "It's about time you started taking responsibility for your failed version of The Apprentice. Your performance was terrible in that the show lacked mood, temperament and just about everything else a show needs for success. I knew it would fail as soon as I first saw it—and your low ratings bore me out."

Oh yeah, said Martha, who immediately penned (of course) a response: "The letter is so mean-spirited and reckless that I almost can’t believe my long-time friend Donald Trump wrote it. I am very proud of the work we did…” blah, blah, blah, sniffle.

It’s all very entertaining of course, but why now? The Apprentice: Martha Stewart was cancelled back in December and Randal stabbed Rebecca in the back months ago. Oh wait, the next edition of The Apprentice begins on Feb. 27 and now there are over 400 news articles on Google and all the entertainment shows are running the spat.

But Martha and The Donald wouldn’t have started a feud just to drum up some attention for the show, would they? Nah, that would just be cynical.

Don’t Believe Your Hype

It looks like I'm playing this, doesn't it?!There’s nothing more entertaining than a delusional celebrity, especially when there is little basis for that fame to begin with.

This brings us to Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline. Against all probability, both of these b-listers are recording albums. Hilton, famous for being rich and appearing on reality shows and home-made sex tapes, is going the dance route, a la Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Kevin, famous for knocking up the aforementioned Spears, fancies himself an aspiring rapper.

As the two are mostly renowned for appearing in paparazzi photos they seem keenly aware that nobody is actually clamouring for their musical genius. See if you can tell which quote is from whom:
"People will trash it just because it's me, but once they listen, they'll be shocked. I know this is good."

"Sure, there'll be initial shock and awe, but they've already said so much shit about me, it can't get worse."
It amazes me that they can both be so self-aware and completely oblivious at the same time. For the record, the first quote was from Paris, the latter from Mr. Spears.

To add to the snickering joy, Federline has the narcissistic belief that the millions of hits he got on his web site when he streamed his first single, PopoZão, had something to do with his abilities and not because bored office workers were forwarding it to each other for a laugh – like we were at work.

Anyway, I can’t wait to fish my copies out of the remainder bin, where they will be keeping William Hung company.

Double Duty
For those that are interested, I'm doing a stint of guest blog editing over at Scandal Sheet for my friend webgrrl. I'll try and keep the double posts to a minimum.

Avalanche on Brokeback Mountain

Heath Ledger is a real character actor, ignoring his wife, just like in the movie.If they are lucky, nobody will be killed by the avalanche of Oscars about to befall Brokeback Mountain in two weeks.

The British Academy Film Awards handed out their big silver faces on Sunday and you’d be forgiven for thinking the Oscars had taken place. Not that anyone watches the BAFTAs or uses it as an Oscar barometer, but no matter. Brokeback Mountain won best picture, director, supporting actor and adapted screenplay. Ok, four isn’t exactly an avalanche, but they are major categories and only Walk the Line and Crash got more than one award.

The rest of the major categories went as expected: Philip Seymour Hoffman took best actor for Capote and Reese Witherspoon was named best actress for playing June Carter Cash.

As far as upsets go, Thandie Newton was a surprise win as best supporting actress in Crash. A surprise not because she isn’t deserving, but a surprise as she didn’t even get an Oscar nod for the role. I also didn’t expect to see Jake Gyllenhaal win for best supporting actor, which just points to the awards juggernaut this film has become.

If you’re hoping to sweep your Oscar pool this year, you’d better be pouring over the short film, documentary and technical awards because the big eight categories are all sewn up.

Royale Flush

James Bond has found his new villain and femme fatale.

Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen will join new 007 Daniel Craig as Le Chiffre, an evil genius known as the Cipher. Mikkelsen, best know to North American audiences for his role as Tristan in King Arthur, is a star in his home country.

Oddly enough, I’ve seen a couple of his Danish films. At last year’s Toronto film festival he played a delusional priest who would turn the other cheek, no matter what in the comedy Adam’s Apples. I also saw him two years (and pre-blog) earlier in The Green Butchers. Both were very funny roles and not villainous in the least. It will be interesting to see how this works out as he’s definitely talented.

With today’s announcement of Eva Green as the new Bond girl, the Casino Royale cast is complete. Beating out names like Charlize Theron and Thandie Newton, the little-known French actress, last seen in the crusades drama Kingdom of Heaven, will play Vesper Lynn. It’s a fine name, but let's face it, no Pussy Galore or Honey Ryder.

Casino Royale is meant to hark back to a younger, harder Bond of the Ian Flemming novels so I’m pleased to see relative unknowns being brought in. The franchise will have a much better chance of success without stunt casting. I’m looking at you Halle Berry.

Holy War, Batman!

The CIA can’t find him. The U.S. Army can’t smoke him out of his cave. So how will we ever capture Osama bin Laden? Quick, to the Bat Signal!

Forget the Riddler and the Joker, the Caped Crusader’s newest enemy is none other than al-Qaeda, in an upcoming graphic novel called “Holy Terror, Batman.” Terrorists attack Bruce Wayne’s hometown of Gotham, and his alter ego decides to even the score.

Batman writer Frank Miller says the novel is "an explosion from my gut reaction of what’s happening now" and "a reminder to people who seem to have forgotten who we're up against," reported The New York Post.
"It just seems silly to chase around the Riddler when you've got al-Qaeda out there," he said, adding that there's plenty of historical precedent for comic-book icons taking on real-life villains.

"Superman punched out Hitler. So did Captain America. That's one of the things they're there for," Miller said during a panel discussion at a comic-book convention in San Francisco. "Batman kicks al-Qaeda’s ass"
Real life slips into our pop culture, so why not comics? If anything is wrong with this is that it makes bin Laden into more of a mythological character. If Batman can enter the real world, does that not mean bin Laden is a cartoon super villain? I’m not sure if that is a good development.

But if it happens and gets turned into a movie, what Batman would be the best to battle The Terrorist? Michael Keaton’s jokey version? Val Kilmer’s sullen crusader? George Clooney’s nipple-suited hero, or the latest, Gotham psycho Christian Bale?

Personally I think it should be TV’s original, played by Adam West. He’s had a revival as the mayor on The Family Guy, why not get him fighting bin Laden? Perhaps he could teach him The Batusi.

Cheney's Got a Gun

Nice shot, Oswald.Last night, while watching the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart gleefully skewering U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney for shooting a wealthy Republican lawyer in the face while the two were out “hunting” cage-raised quail, I had a brainstorm.

It was obvious that this incident was going to enter the pop culture lexicon almost immediately. Three-quarters of Stewart’s show was about the shooting. Said Vice Presidential Firearms Mishap Expert Rob Corddry: “In a post 9/11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak.”

Jay Leno weighed in: "When the ambulance got there, out of force of habit they put Cheney on the stretcher. ... When people found out he shot a lawyer, his popularity is now at 92 percent."

Said David Letterman: "Good news, ladies and gentlemen. We have finally located weapons of mass destruction: it's Dick Cheney. We can't get bin Laden but we nailed a 78-year-old attorney."

So there I was thinking, “This would make a great t-shirt.” Ooop, too late, they are already up for sale. Bless the interweb.

Update: I've been getting so many hits looking for a download of the Cheney's Got a Gun parody of the Aerosmith article that I figured I should go and find it. There is a great version at The Bob Rivers Show. Very funny. Come back soon.

Might As Well Dump

Does Van Halen have a shred of decency left? Do they have any respect for their legacy, back when mulleted-teen headbangers referred to Eddie as a guitar god? Do they remember when they were cool, maybe even dangerous? (I don’t know how dangerous they really were, but my local radio station wouldn’t play Hot For Teacher during prime hours. Dangerous in the sense that they annoyed parents, and that was good enough for me.)

Whatever scraps of street cred they’ve managed to retain will soon be thrown to the wind as the reports are piling up that they are the next band to be featured on Rock Star, producer Mark Burnett’s create-a-star reality show. The show last made a sensation out of Canadian J.D. Fortune as the new lead singer for washed-up rockers INXS, replacing the auto-erotically asphyxiated star Michael Hutchence.

Of course Van Halen has never had any qualms about replacing their lead singers when they have outlived their usefulness, or annoyed Eddie. Gigolo David Lee Roth was the first to go, followed by Sammy 'I Can’t Drive 65' Hagar, who was then replaced by Roth who came back just for a greatest hits album, and now some dude from Extreme is their frontman. He’s probably relieved by the news.

So why can’t they just leave well enough alone? They’ve been together for almost 30 years, they have some great songs and will be remembered fondly. Instead, they are going to go on a reality show and the only person who will gain any fame is whomever wins. They might get some radio play out of their first song and have someone to play nostalgia tours with, but mostly they will annoy their old fans.

Sigh. I hope Roth tries out.

Arrested Development Goes Out Crazy

Arrested DevelopmentBye, bye Bluths. The season and quite likely series finished up last night like they started – fast-paced, quick-witted and outrageous to the end.

It was billed only as the season finale, and Fox hasn’t officially cancelled the comedy, but the chances of the show cheating an early TV death are slim. What seems certain is its time on Fox has come to an end. The network burned off the last four episodes, back-to-back against the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, making room on its usual Monday slot for the inane Skating with Celebrities. Clearly there’s not much love lost.

While there is a glimmer of hope that Arrested Development could be revived on the U.S. cable network Showtime or, even less likely, on ABC, it appears destined to top the list of shows cancelled before its time, including Action, My So Called Life, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Futurama, Sports Night, among others.

I’m not doing well this season, as the networks keep shelving my favourites. Fox has put Prison Break in solitary confinement for so long I don’t know if I’ll recognize it when it gets out. Invasion is being put on the sidelines during March, just as the tension is building up to a fever pitch – there’s nothing like a month-long break to cool off a hot show. While Commander in Chief has not been must-see TV for me, I watched it whenever I came across it, but now that it is also in purgatory its ratings decline will likely become a self-fulfilling prophecy for the network.

Its not just semi-established shows that are suffering the vagaries of network programmers. Love Monkey, starring Canadians Tom Cavanagh and Jason Priestly, has been caged after just three episodes. I didn’t even get a chance to see it, let alone have time to cast judgment on it. Thee episodes! How do you build an audience in that time? I’d already had one friend tell me to check it out, perhaps indicating that there was word-of-mouth buzz growing, and it was even averaging 8.1 million viewers an episode, almost twice what Arrested was getting this season. There is just no patience anymore.

Barbie Come Back!

After a two-year separation, Barbie's boy toy Ken is hoping to win back the heart of his plastic paramour.

Mattel Inc. made headlines in February 2004, when it was announced that after 43 years the couple wanted some time apart. There were rumours that Ken had made a different lifestyle choice than Barbie, but it turns out he just needed a makeover.

"Ken has revamped his life -- mind, body and soul," Hollywood stylist and Mattel consultant Phillip Bloch said in a statement. "Everyone knows how difficult it is to change, especially when you've lived your life a certain way for more than four decades."

The new Ken has packed on some muscle, lightened his hair and apparently turned into a beach bum. It appears to be working as Barbie has given her interim Aussie lover, Blaine, the heave-ho.

Said Barbie publicist Lauren Dougherty: "He really looks great. But we'll have to stay tuned to see whether these two will get back together."

The best part of this is I'm not kidding. This really happened today and Barbie really does have a publicist. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised -- this announcement seemed as plausible as anything I've ever read about celebrities and to be honest, this couple seems a lot less plastic.

Mining Pop Culture

Talking about pop culture mashups and parodies the other day (see Jokeback Mountain) made me remember some of the best versions I'd seen.

Way, way back in the mists of time when I was at university (for the first time, long story) a friend of mine had a daily comic strip in our campus paper. Star Wars, CHiPs, Brit Pop, video games and drugs, Horovitz had it all.

In fact it also had Muslims protesting him when a comic depicted a slacker God calling Allah on the sixth day and asking if he had started his universe yet. The implication that there was more than one god got a few people hot under the collar. Shades of today's headlines.

But we all finally got tossed out of school and Horovitz's creator, Dave Craig, went on to bigger things like dentistry and drawing for Odd Job Jack. Luckily another friend has revived this classic 'toon and you can get one sent to you daily for the low, low price of nothing. Check out the gallery and sign up.

And seeing as I'm plugging old university pals, let me step out of my entertainment world for a moment. My buddy Jason Menard has taken it upon himself to hassle politicians who switch parties and has created a petition asking for a law that would require a by-election be called in any riding where an MP crosses the floor. It's a good idea - give 'em hell Jay.

For any non-Canadians, that probably didn't make much sense and I promise to stay away from the politics forevermore.

Baby On Board, Something, Something Burt Ward

And they say Kevin is the irresponsible one. I'll show them...Car seat, shmar seat. Hopefully that wasn’t what Britney Spears had to say when the LAPD showed up at her mansion to get "contact information" at the request of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.

Seems our favourite young celebrity mom was caught on camera while behind the wheel of her SUV with her infant son sitting on her lap.

But don’t worry, it wasn’t Britney’s fault – the paparazzi made her do it! She had stopped for a Starbucks (just like real people!) and her bodyguard (just like… never mind.) went in to fetch her caffeine hit, when the evil photographers surrounded the unprotected mother and babe. When the wayward servant returned, Britney sped off with her five-month-old still perched on her lap.
"Today, I had a horrifying, frightful encounter with the paparazzi while I was with my baby," Spears said later in a statement. "...I was terrified that this time the physically aggressive paparazzi would put both me and my baby in danger. I instinctively took measures to get my baby and me out of harm's way. I love my child and would do anything to protect him."
Like putting him in harms way, I suppose, missing the irony, as usual. Including the fact that she got caught because of a picture taken while she was escaping from the paparazzi.

Not surprisingly, the lensers didn’t see their role quite the same way. X17, the photo agency representing the shutterbugs who aimed their lenses at Spears' said the pictures were taken "in a very peaceful context, in which photographers exhibited no aggressive behavior."

Lesson learned? Buckle up, especially when there are dozens of people taking your photo.

Paris’ Pandora’s Box

1 Night in Paris - Seriously, best title ever.Pity poor Paris Hilton, she can’t keep anything private.

It appears there are more secrets in the socialite’s closet (or storage locker in this case) and for the low, low price of $20 million you too can have access to Hilton’s private diaries and photos of her in various states of undress.

What more she could be seen doing that you can’t already download I shudder to consider, but it must be some kinda filthy for that price tag.

Before you get the wrong idea, its not Hilton selling the items, but she’ll likely be a bidder. No, it’s a fella by the name of David Hans Schmidt, who is charmingly known as the ‘Sultan of Sleaze’ for handling celebrity porn deals. Seems Paris stuffed a storage locker full of pictures of "wild parties,” 18 diaries allegedly containing descriptions of Hilton’s sexual adventures, as well as computers, clothing, videos and furniture while she was moving between mansions. At some point while out buying monkeys and toying with Greek shipping magnate’s hearts, she forgot to pay the bill and so her treasure trove was sold off for a mere $2,775 to Schmidt. And once he saw it, the price skyrocketed.

Says the man who reveals in the sleaze about what is contained in the diaries to the Los Angeles Times:
"Everything that would be dear to a woman's heart: relationships, personal feelings, sex, love, breakups, sexual experiences, all those little things that make up a little girl's life. Her deepest, darkest secrets."
So, as I said, dirty, dirty, dirty. It must be because Hilton’s publicist says they are considering buying back the material.

Now I have speculated before that the celebutante has courted all of her publicity, good and bad, and never seemed all that upset about the sale of her homemade sex tape – it only appeared to help publicize The Simple Life. This time seems different. She really doesn’t seem to need this kind of publicity anymore so I suspect she may not be behind this one.

Paging Bob Guccione…

Method Actors

“I don’t fucking belong here!Are the actors on Lost taking their characters a little too seriously?

There are reports that Michelle Rodriguez, who plays the aggressive, hard-nosed ex-cop Anna Lucia, is enough like that in real life that the shows producers have had it with her.

"The producers are fed up with the fact that she barely shows up on the set and is always in a bad mood," Us Weekly quoted an "insider" as saying. "They said she was getting killed off as soon as they could write it in."

Rodriguez has been pulled over three times for speeding and once for drinking and driving since joining the cast as one of the Talies. How charming is she? This is what she had to say after being pulled over for weaving all over the road:
“I don’t fucking belong here! Why don’t you just put a gun to my head and shoot me! You’ve already taken my freedom! You might as well take my life too!”
Anyway, if Anna Lucia bites it in the upcoming war against The Others, led by dictator-in-the-making Jack, it will be ok with me. She gets on my nerves.

It looks like Rodriguez isn't the only one getting into her character. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who plays reformed badass Nigerian drug lord Mr. Eko, read a prayer at the Hawaii state Senate last week. What did he read? The 23rd Psalm, which is also the title of the episode during which Eko's violent past and struggle for redemption are revealed.

So what's next? Matthew Fox (Jack) starts showing up in local emergency rooms and helping out and Evangeline Lilly (Kate) starts knocking over banks? We can only hope.

Jokeback Mountain

Grayskull Mountain“I wish I knew how to quit you,” has become the new “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Brokeback Mountain jokes have opened up a whole world of gay jokes as the film continues its roll towards an inevitable Oscar win.

The jokes don’t really do much for me, but there is an offshoot that I enjoy: movie parodies. Its interesting to watch when a piece of entertainment enters into the wider realm of pop culture and people take ownership of it.

I think it is also part of the mashup phenomenon, where two or more disparate elements are mixed together to create a new work, like the Grayskull Mountain poster to the right. Take one part cheesy ‘80s cartoon He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (and its ripe for parody title), add in the zeitgeist film of the moment, mix with Photoshop and voila!

The spoofs are rolling in and I’m sure more are on the way. The gay subtext of Top Gun has longed been hinted at and Quentin Tarantino said as much in his monologue in Sleep With Me. So Bareback Top Gun comes as no surprise.

There is also a great trailer for another love that could never be – that of Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown in Brokeback to the Future.

And for those techie geeks, there is the short but sweet Broke Mac Mountain, which I probably enjoy more than I should.

Survivors Ready?

The 12th edition of Survivor, reality TV’s granddaddy, starts tonight and I’m actually looking forward to it.

I’m not entirely sure why.

I suppose part if it is the familiarity. You know how the show is going to play out and it is fun to try and figure out “the twist.” Much like watching a M. Night Shyamalan film, you know its coming and it’s not that hard to guess.

Of course watching people turn on each other and connive their way to the top while insisting they have told no lies and plunged no knives in anyone’s back makes me laugh. I’m still amazed at the faux hurt on contestant’s faces at tribal councils when they realize they got outplayed. Their only regret is they didn’t think of it first.

Says Jeff Probst: “In the first or second episode, there’s a moral dilemma for somebody who gets offered alliances by two different groups and finds themselves in the catbird seat. Ethically, [this person] is already conflicted and says, `I don’t want to betray anyone; it’s really challenging for me right now, but it’s the best position to be in.’ If you are ethically challenged, and you’re competing for a million dollars, what do you do? That question never gets old.”

Probst also said the show isn’t scripted, but we all know that isn’t exactly accurate. The survivors are carefully picked and placed together in an artificial environment where they are manipulated in Truman Show-esque manner. They are filmed the entire time and then days of footage are distilled down into under an hour of air time after producer Mark Burnett knows who wins. But other than that, it’s just like real life.

This year they are breaking up the teams into four at the beginning: old men, old women, young men, and younger women. Except they use the word “older” as a way to explain why 32 and 35-year-olds are finding themselves on those teams. Old my ass. Anyway, I suppose it’s a way to weed out a few players right off the get go, so I’m interested to see how it plays out.

So forget the Olympics, theses are the real Games.

My name is Haggis. Paul Haggis.

Lots of interesting tidbits about the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, today. Seems that they have started filming in Prague with new 007, Danielle Craig.

I'm a bit of a Bond freak so I've been watching the revival of the franchise with great interest. I liked Pierce Brosnan, but feel that he was more in the Roger Moore mold and they need to go more Sean Connery this time around.

It looks like they have with Casino Royale. It is an adaptation of creator Ian Fleming's first Bond novel and our favourite spy was introduced as a more youthful, realistic and cold character than the films. More like Jason Bourne is my guess.

Of course the reinvention is having some bumps. While the cameras have started rolling, nobody had been cast as Bond girl Vesper Lynn or as the main villain says The Hollywood Reporter. "They're talking to three to four girls right now," Royale scribe Paul Haggis said. "Every week I read there's a new Bond girl, and I call them and they say, No, you idiot."

What was that name? Paul Haggis? Yes, it's the Oscar-nominated director and writer of Crash, who also adapted last year's Oscar winner Million Dollar Baby for the screen. Now I'm really intrigued. Does this really mean there will be character development in a spy movie? Interesting.

Haggis has had an interesting writing career -- seems that he started up writing for some of the most well-known '70s sitcoms: One Day at a Time; Diff'rent Strokes; The Facts of Life; did a stint on The Love Boat (go Issac!) and he was one of the creators of Walker, Texas Ranger (Superman owns a pair of Chuck Norris pajamas.) And he's from London, Ontario which has as good a claim on being my hometown as any.

What does that all have to do with Bond? Not so much, but I can't wait to see how it turns out.

Previous Bond posts:
My Gossip Runneth Over
Shaken and Stirred
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The Bond is Dead, Long Live the Bond