Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Doctor's Biggest Audience in 28 Years and a Torchwood Preview to boot!

The Christmas Day broadcast of Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned was the most view Doctor Who episode in 28 years, averaging 12.2 million viewers and a peak of 13.8 million. This is the highest viewership of a Doctor Who episode since City of Death in 1979 when it was only The BBC and ITV and ITV was on strike. More details on The Doctor Who News Page and at BBC News. The only thing higher in the UK was Eastenders at a peak of 13.9 million. When it likely airs on SciFi later this year, it will do well to get 2 million viewers. At the end, the BBC aired a trailer for Doctor Who Series 4 and also a short one for Torchwood.

You can see those currently on YouTube below with both the Doctor Who series 4 trailer and the Torchwood series 2 trailer as they aired on the BBC:

The BBC has still not yet confirmed WHEN they will start airing Torchwood, although it is likely starting Wednesday, January 16th on BBC2. BBC America has said it will start airing Torchwood series 2 on Saturday, January 26th and has started airing the following preview...

Note: All photos are copyright The BBC/BBC America

Saturday, December 22, 2007

More Christmas Music Videos (or Music Videos in General)

First up is Paul McCartney's goofy Wonderful Christmastime. Yes, the film quality is that bad and even on the new Rhino collection The McCartney Years, it isn't much better.

Sitting down and watching a lot of the videos on The McCartney Years collection was a lot of fun. From some of the early ones made very cheaply, the simple yet good "Mull of Kintyre", some of the more experimaental ones like "Coming Up", its a neat collection of videos and performances through Paul McCartney's career include extras live his performance of "Let it Be" at Live Aid and his Superbowl halftime performance. Rhino has been doing a lot of good video collections like Peter Gabriel's Play, Devo's The Truth About De-Evolution, and others. There's a lot of music video collections out there, some no longer in print. This link is to a music video on DVD page I've set up on the Magrathea Amazon AStore. There's still a few that have not yet been collected on DVD, such as Kate Bush and Thomas Dolby. Maybe someday they will....

Back to the Christmas Music videos, though, for this one by The Ramones!

And then there's a young Greg Lake with his big Christmas hit...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

SFTV Roundup & News Tidbits for December 2007

Stardust DVD

First of all, the DVD for Stardust is released this week. Pick it up at the SFTV Amazon Store in regular DVD or in HD DVD. If you saw it in the theatre, you will likely be picking this up. If you didn't get around to seeing it, you should definitely pick it up.
On to the SFTV Roundup....
First of all, the Star website has had several brushes with being shut down in the last couple of years with the restructuring of Viacom/Paramount/CBS but it has managed to continue and still be a very good and informative web site for all things Star Trek. Unfortunately, it appears that CBS Interactive, which is in charge of the site has decided to restructure and has fired the entire production team for the site with no warning! The Trek Movie Report website has an article about it and will likely have further updates down the road. You'd think someone would realize that they have this movie called Star Trek coming out a year from now and they might want to keep the site current? My kudos go out to the people who have been keeping the site active and current. Here's hoping someone gets a clue and brings them back on board.
Tin Man's Surprising Success, SciFi Update
As mentioned here previously, the first part of the SciFi's Tin Man miniseries did surpisingly well, setting records for the channel. The other two episodes did pretty good as well as SciFi indicated in their official press release touting it. Of course, the next day SciFi announced their new reality series, Run for the Money, that had everyone going Huh? It is described as "Run For Money is an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat reality competition show that pits a group of contestants against each other in the quest for cash prizes, while being stalked by relentless "hunters." Based on a successful Japanese format from Fuji Television, the action takes place over 60 minutes of real time in various landmark locations. As the clock winds down, the competition gets harder as more hunters appear on the streets, the game perimeter gets smaller, and tasks are assigned that test fraying nerves. Contestants earn money for every second they "stay alive" and may opt out at their choosing. If they keep playing and are overrun by a hunter, they lose everything. The last person standing takes the prize." I guess it will pair up well with ECW...
GHI & Guinea Pig
SciFi is debuting two new shows in January, Ghost Hunters International and Guinea Pig. Ghost Hunters International is a spin-off from Ghost Hunters, which has been very successful of late on SciFi, drawing better numbers and younger demographics than Stargate Atlantis. Guinea Pig is about "In the name of science and adventure, extreme-performer Ryan Stock and his partner AmberLynn Walker, push the frontiers of what the human body can endure. By making the world-class good sport Ryan a human guinea pig." Guinea Pig debuts on Tuesday January 8th at 9 pm ET/PT while Ghost Hunters International debuts at 9 pm ET/PT Wednesday January 9th.
Stargate Atlantis and Flash Gordon Return, Galactica set for March
The holiday break for SciFi Friday ends on January 4 when Stargate Atlantis and Flash Gordon resume their current seasons. SciFi will continue to run Flash at 8 pm ET/PT with a repeat of the previous Atlantis episode at 9 pm ET/PT. SciFi has a marathon of Season 4 Atlantis episodes during the day if you need to catch up. On the following Friday, SciFi will add Haunted to their SciFi Friday lineup at 7 pm ET/PT. It stars Matthew Fox and aired on UPN in 2002 where it was canceled after 7 of the thirteen produced episodes had aired. According to ads they have been running, Battlestar Galactica will begin its fourth season on SciFi in March. With the season finale of Atlantis likely on March 7th, March 14th is a good bet for the return of Galactica.
Strike Schedule Updates
The latest schedule announcements from the networks give us the following start date for some new and returning shows coming up in the new year. With shows like Chuck, Heroes, Reaper, Bionic Woman, Journeyman, and Pushing Daisies having aired all of their produced episodes, there's a lot of change coming in the genre show area.
NBC will have Medium back on the air on Monday nights at 10 pm ET/PT starting January 7th.
CBS has the return of Jericho for its seven episode second season on Tuesdays at 10 pm ET/PT starting February 12th. Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight, and Numb3rs will remain on Friday nights. All three appear to have a few number of episodes left. All three CSI's have a few episodes left as well.
ABC will bring back Lost for eight episodes on Thursday nights at 9 pm ET/PT starting January 31st. They also have Eli Stone scheduled to debut the same night at 10 pm ET/PT.
FOX has Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles on Mondays at 9 pm ET/PT with the first episode debuting Sunday, January 13th at 9 pm ET/PT and the second episode in its regular time slot on January 14th. FOX will also debut New Amsterdam on Fridays at 9 pm ET/PT starting February 22nd.
The CW has run out of Reaper episodes but still has a good number of Smallville episodes left and a few Supernatural episodes.
On cable, ABC Family brings back Kyle XY on Monday, Jan 14th at 9 pm ET/PT. BBC America is currently running Season 2 of Life on Mars on Tuesday nights and, as reported previously, will have season 2 of Torchwood starting January 26th. USA Network has new episodes of Monk and Psych starting January 11th.

Happy Holidays from Max Headroom

Monday, December 3, 2007

Biggest Shock of the Day!

No, I'm not talking about seeing who lived and died on Heroes (or who got better), I'm talking about this press release from SciFi Channel.

The first part of the Tin Man miniseries set records for the SciFi Channel, beating out Taken and anything else that has ever aired on the channel. Whether they will also stick around for Parts 2 and 3 remain to be seen, but the fact that a record number of people actually tuned in to SciFi and watched it live is a very big surprise. Considering SciFi's regular shows have been struggling to get much abouve a 1.0 rating, drawing a 4.2 Household rating is pretty significant. It looks like if SciFi puts together something that catches peoples interest, they can still find the channel. Now if only they were running ads for a second season of Dresden Files instead of a second season of Destination Truth or Ghost Hunters International. They also promoted the second half of Stargate Atlantis' season as well as the eventual return of Battlestar Galactica while not airing any promotional ads for Flash Gordon. Maybe its just as well not that many people have been watching Flash Gordon otherwise when they saw Mings palace in Tin Man and recognized the same Vancouver forest that Flash spends a lot of time in, they might have tuned out.

Tonight, however, it is up against the Heroes mid-season finale (or season finale depending on the writers strike) as well as a special two hour episode of The Closer on TNT (which normally does ratings most broadcast networks would love to have). As it is, SciFi has a new record, which means they will take that as a go-ahead to remake more classics as series and miniseries. I'm not sure if I even want to contemplate what they might do next right now.

Back to figuring out my money picks on TV Big Shot ...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lifetime Stakes Blood Ties, NBC Extends Chuck, ends Journeyman, and BBC America Speeds up Torchwood

NBC's Chuck & Journeyman
Early in the week, NBC announced that it had given Chuck a full season renewal (of course, dependent on what a full season will actually mean with the Writer's strike). They have also announced that the final two episodes of Journeyman will air December 17 & 19th (Mon & Wed) at 10 pm ET/PT.

Blood Ties on Lifetime - Final two episodes online only
Lifetime will not be airing the final two episodes of Blood Ties, making them available online at Blood Ties creator, Tanya Huff, has commented about it on her Livejournal indicating the blogs she has been doing for Lifetime TV's web site will not be posted for the final two episodes in support of the Writer's strike. She will post them on her livejournal when the shows have aired in Canada (the show is currently about halfway through the season on broadcast TV and the cable channel Space. It is not clear if Lifetime dropped the last two due to low ratings or if they didn't think they would go well with the Christmas movies they have scheduled for the next few weeks now that their Psychic shows have ended. They may also be available on iTunes.

Torchwood on BBC America - Season Two on the heels of BBC2!
BBC America has announced that they will start airing season two of Torchwood on January 26th, shortly after the BBC starts airing the series on BBC2. This is an indication of BBC America getting much more aggressive in their programming and acquisition of shows. Having Torchwood being their highest rated series ever is probably a factor as well, and this should make it do even better for the channel with a very short time span between the BBC airings and the US airings. If there's a pre-emption in the UK, BBC America might even get ahead of BBC2. The BBC, as usual, hasn't yet indicated exactly when they will start the new season of Torchwood, but you can likely be certain it will be sometime before January 26th.

Who's Best - People's Choice Awards

This year, the People's Choice Awards has Doctor Who up for best SciFi show.

I think it would be really neat to have Doctor Who win the award over the other shows that are up for it. Here's a handy widget to use to cast your vote while there's still time.

People's Choice Awards
Go to

Friday, November 9, 2007

World Fantasy 2007 - Days 1, 2, 3 & 4

Well, my intention to post daily from World Fantasy 2007 in Saratoga Springs, NY didn't end up happening. So here's a bit of a report with pictures. You can see other pictures from Ellen Datlow and Scott Edelman on their respective Flickr web sites. Theres also reports online, some with pictures, from artist John Picacio, author John Joseph Adams, John Klima, and others I'll ad later.

First up on Thursday, we helped to put books into the duffel bags they got this year for the book bags. There were a few good books, but definitely not enough to fully fill all of the bags. Having a shipment of 4 books from Tor not make it into the bags (due to issues with receving pallets for 4800 books) or a couple of books from Tachyon Publishing be left out made the bags a bit empty inside.

The book bag assembly line.

Lots and lots of filled bags.

Book bags ready and waiting for the attendees to cart them off.

On Thursday night was a group author reading/signing at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, NY, with eight authors seen above in this panoramic shot made from two photos. From Left to right are Toni Kelner, Charlaine Harris, James Alan Gardner, Esther Friesner, Lois McMaster Bujold, Lynn Flewelling, Anne Bishop, and Caroline Stevermer. The cat's name is Amber.

Each did a short reading. Lois McMaster Bujold read from her latest novel, The Sharing Knife: Legacies.

Back at World Fantasy, there were lots of panels during the weekend including this one on Ghosts moderated by Paul Cornell. Other panelists are Esther Friesner, Jennifer Swabach, Maria Lima, Stacey Cochran, and Jennifer Dunne.

Friday night was the mass autographing. Here is the ballroom before everyone arrived.

Here's the ballroom mostly filled by signing authors and fans trying to find all of them. We had a lot of books to get signed and were mostly successful. I probably should have taken more pictures, but running around with a lot of books takes a lot of time. I did get a few pictures of some authors signing or chatting.

Tim Powers

Jay Lake (with some extras of the freebie book of his)

Terry McGarry, Esther Friesner, and Jennifer Swabach

Holly Black and Cassanda Clare

Lisa Tuttle and Patrick Rothfuss

Scott Lynch (in the art show)

The art show was set up with a large open area where some of the artists hung out. On Saturday a lot of them were doing sketches. On the left hand side above are Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell.

Charles Vess working on a sketch.

David Hartwell is known for his loud ties. I'm not sure if loud is the correct adjective for this one. He even wore it to the World Fantasy Awards banquet on Sunday.

On Sunday night we were back at Flights of Fantasy for an even bigger reading/signing. This time they were asked to read a paragraph. From left to right are Patrick Rothfuss, Delia Sherman, Joshua Palmatier, Ellen Datlow, Patricia McKillip, Sarah Monette, Elizabeth Bear, Morgan Howell (Will Hubbell), David Lunde, Jana Paniccia, Julie Czerneda, and Kristen Britain.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

World Fantasy 2007: Day -1

We've made it to Saratoga Springs for the 2007 World Fantasy convention. Nothing official is happening yet other than setup and a lot of people in the bar already. If it is anything like it was in 2004 in Phoenix, the bar will be packed all weekend and they will probably need to restock by Friday.

Just tonight we ran into Arizona author Adam Niswander, Brit Paul Cornell, Charles Vess, John Picacio, Gardner Dozoi, Locus editor Liza Trombi, and Locus publisher Charles Brown. Those were just the ones I easily recognized.


Hogfather is coming, as well as Colour of Magic

Its getting to that time of year when the Hogfather shows up to hand out toys to all the good boys and girls. At least in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. The TV miniseries adaptation of Hogfather will be broadcast in the U.S. for the first time on Sunday night, November 25th on ION TV at 7 pm ET/6 pm CT as part of the RHI Movie Weekend. ION Television (formerly the PAX Network) airs on many local stations and is also available on cable and satellite TV. To find out where the network is in your local area, go to the ION TV website and click on "Find us by Zip Code" in the upper right corner of the screen.

The full press release about the airing can be found here. Youtube has the trailer for the premiere The RHI Films Hogfather page has some information an pictures for the US broadcast. The Sky One TV page for the UK broadcast of Hogfather last year has a lot of good behind the scenes information. Sadly, at this time the video portions cannot be viewed by U.S. viewers. If you can't wait for the TV broadcast, a Borders Exclusive DVD release will hit Borders stores on Tuesday, November 13th. The DVD will contain the miniseries and an interview with Terry Pratchett. It apparently will not include the additional material that is on the U.K. DVD which includes several Making of Hogfather segments as well as The Twelve Days of Hogswatch that were made availabe on the Sky One web site. The general release of the DVD to the rest of the U.S. is planned for March and will likely be a 2 DVD set with the extra material.

The Hogfather miniseries is just the beginning, though. Currently in production is a miniseries based on the first two Discworld novels, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. It stars David Jason as Rincewind, Sean Astin as Twoflower, and Tim Curry as Trymon. Sky One has an official production site for The Colour of Magic. It is expected to air in the UK around Easter and likely will air in the US later in 2008.
Yes, I will be chairing the first North American Discworld Convention coming up in September of 2009. Full details will be announced soon.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Schedule Lists Updated, TV BIg Shot

The latest schedules have been updated at I've also got a good bit of news in the Upcoming Schedule update as well. Things have been a bit busy as I get ready for a busy month of conventioning with World Fantasy Convention, TusCon 34 (still a maybe) and LosCon 34. I did make it out to the Horror/SciFi Film Festival and got to see Claudia Christian.

As for TV Big Shot, after some problems getting things working properly, things have settled down a bit. My SFTVPlus network is in the top 60 and moving up fast. I missed out on some of the initial ratings gains that garnered bonus points for those that caught on in time for the first week of ratings, but I've managed to keep pace to some extent. The main issue is that one of the users did make the right choices in the first couple of weeks and has several networks heading up the top of the heap. I think its still possible to catch him by making the best use of your budget during the heavy repeat weeks and if there's a writer's strike, trying to guess what will do well in the filler shows will not be a simple task. If anything, I've picked some shows this week that may garner significant bonus points if they do as I expect them to while the leader appears to be playing things safe this week.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bloodsuckers, Zombies, and Horror/SciFi Film Festival

Blood Ties Is Back.

First up, this weekend is the return of Blood Ties to Lifetime on Friday night at 11 pm ET/PT, following their new psychic shows. This is the back half of the first season production order of 22 episodes. Lifetime originally committed to 13 episodes when they aired it back in March and it did well enough for them they picked up the back 9, and also held back the last episode of the first block to make it an even ten episodes.

Tanya Huff, the writer of the book series the TV series is based on, has been continuing to blog about it on her livejournal, especially since it recently started airing in Canada as well. At this point, Lifetime has not indicated if they want more of the series and producers are encouraging Canadian Fans to write to CITYTV and Space.

Phoenix Zombie Walk

This past weekend as part of the Phoenix Cactus ComicCon and International Horror/SciFi Film Festival Promotion, they held a Zombie Walk during the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Phoenix. Lots of pictures can be found at Amy Black's flicker archive. She's the Zombie Beauty Queen and organizer of the walk. They will be having a Zombie beauty pageant at the Comic Con in January.

Horror/SciFi Film Festival in Phoenix - with Claudia Christian & Linda Blair

Coming up next weekend, Oc 19-21, is the International Horror/SciFi Film Festival in Tempe, Arizona. Brian Pulido judges the Horror films and Michael Stackpole judges the SciFi Films. In addition to the various films that were submitted and judged, they've got some special screenings with Linda Blair, Claudia Christian, some Star Wars Fan Films, and others.

If you want to catch a lot of films at the festival, the best way is to get the VIP pass, which normally costs you $100, but since I'm involved with Leprecon, Inc., which is a sponsor of the festival, if you use the code PARTNER, you can get the VIP pass for $80.

Monday, October 8, 2007

SFTV Network Ratings Update

The second week of the new season has come and gone and none of the new genre shows have been cancelled yet!

That doesn't mean that a few dropped off a bit in the second week and they better not keep sliding, though.

First up, NBC's SciFi Monday has some legs, although Journeyman's are getting a bit wobbly, in part due to losing a good chunk of the lead-in provided by Heroes. The first week's total ratings for Heroes were bumped up a bit due to a new Nielsen rule that allows a network to show the same episode twice in a week and add the ratings points together if all of the commercials are the same. Thus the second week of Heroes dropped quite a bit from the first week but in actuality was close to the same. Both Chuck and Journeyman dropped a bit over 10% from their first week, which isn't too bad compared to some of the other new shows in their second week.

On Tuesday, Reaper did OK, dropping about 15% from its debut, but not losing any of its Beauty and the Geek lead-in.

Wednesday saw a big drop by The Bionic Woman, about 18% in ratings and 27% in the adult 18-49 demographic. Wednesday also saw Pushing Daisies debut very strongly with an 8.3 overnight rating.

On Thursday, Smallville held fairly close to its season debut and Supernatural returned at about its season average.

Friday saw CBS's lineup hold fairly steady, with Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight, and Numb3rs dropping only slightly from their season debuts.

Thanks for The Futon Critic for the ratings info...

On the cable front, Stargate Atlantis returned to SciFi on Sept 28th and drew a 1.2 rating. Definitely better than Painkiller Jane or Flash Gordon had been doing. This past Friday, SciFi started airing the Battlestar Galactica Razor flashbacks during Flash Gordon, which in turn delayed the start of Stargate Atlantis. If you don't want to sit through Flash Gordon, SciFi is making them available online as well. Also, it appears that the Friday night before the Razor movie airs, SciFi will air all of them during the 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm time slot during an Enterprise marathon.

In other SciFi news, they announced that Ghost Hunters International will debut in January. It looks like between the original Ghost Hunters, the Ghost Hunters International, and the upcoming UFO Hunters, they'll be having something new each week year round.

As for my TV Big Shot Network(s), I've done fair the first week (didn't realize how significant the points were for a ratings gain, which really paid off for shows that debuted strong versus the network's average last year) but I hope to take advantage of the gains in budget I made selling sliding shows and buying rising shows to start to make progress. That's why there isn't much SFTV in SFTVPlus because most of the genre shows dropped in the second week. Yes, I have no clue about the image for my network, it keeps showing up even when I have replaced it with something else. There's still a few bugs to be worked out of the system.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Season Ratings Report

Network Ratings Update

We're at the end of the first week of the new season with somewhat surprising results from the new crop of genre shows. Here's a quick rundown using numbers reported on The Futon Critic.

Monday - NBC's lineup of three back to back genre shows fared relatively well. The second season debut of Heroes had ratings comparable to the season average for the show and about 10% above the show's debut last year.

Both Chuck and Journyman debuted with OK numbers, although compared to year ago ratings of previous time slot holders, they were both down. NBC may be willing to give both shows a chance to be found or at least see where the ratings level out to in the next couple of weeks. Last year, Studio 60 debuted strong but dropped quickly and nothing else NBC aired after Heroes was a success.

Tuesday - The CW's debut of Reaper did slightly better than Veronica Mars season opener last year in the time slot, especially in the male demographics.

Wednesday - In probably the biggest surprise so far, the debut of The Bionic Woman drew very good ratings for NBC, handily beating the year ago ratings and giving NBC its best ratings in the time slot since The West Wing in 1999. This was up against the debut of the highly promoted spinoff of Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice. Bionic Woman didn't have the top overall ratings, but did beat Private Practice in the adult 18-49 demos.

Thursday - Smallville's return was 13% lower than last season's debut. It may pick up a bit this week with the episode fully introducing Kara Zor-El.

Friday - Moonlight debuted with ratings pretty much on par with Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs, providing a pretty good link between the two shows. However, both Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs were down close to 20% in total ratings and the adult demos from a year ago.

The other thing to keep in mind is that DVR penetration has gotten higher since a year ago, so once live + 7 day ratings are added in, the overall ratings will likely improve. If anything, none of the new genere shows had debuted with weak ratings which would get them pulled right away (ala Nashville on FOX).

Still to come for its series debut is Pushing Daisies on ABC this coming Wednesday, which will likely benefit from lots of promotion during Dancing With the Stars. The CW's third season of Supernatural returns on Thursday.

SciFi Notes

SciFi Channel has renewed Eureka and Destination: Truth for new seasons, both of which will air next summer.

The Battlestar Galactica minisodes from Razor will start airing next week during Flash Gordon. These feature a young Bill Adama during the first cylon war and preview the Razor TV movie debuting on SciFi on November 24th.

SciFi also reported that the return of Ghost Hunters on Wednesday drew its biggest numbers ever at a 1.44 rating and over 2 million viewers, doing very well against new shows on cable and the networks (even beating The CW's Gossip Girl in the adult demographics). It will be interesting to see how Stargate Atlantis fares in its return without SG-1 as a lead-in and low ratings for Flash Gordon.


Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm a TV Big Shot!

TV Big Shot!

Television Without Pity and Bravo have launched a new Fantasy TV competition called TV Big Shot which allows users to buy and sell current TV shows, gaining points on how well they do in the ratings and other factors. It launched early this week and appears to be having some growing pains (as well as some confusion about how it all will work, especially with shows going on hiatus or in limbo). Since they do have a grand prize of $100,000, there will be a lot of people trying to win and right now it isn't clear what is the best strategy. You are limited to a budget of $300 million and the way shows are priced, that will get you two hit shows and one or two other lower priced shows. My network, SFTVPlus will likely not win overall, but I figured I'd try a mostly genre strategy. No one will actually get
any points until after next weeks ratings are in, so it's currently a list of 6000+ networks all hoping to do better than the others. With the limited budget for each network, it may make it difficult to have one single one break ahead of the pack.
SFTV Schedules Updated
The SFTV Schedules have been updated and the upcoming schedule file will be emailed out this weekend. In the meantime, you can check things out to the right of the page.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

WorldCon, The Mini Doctor, Flash Fizzles Even More

A few quick things to post here after a bit of a lag due to CopperCon last weekend.

Paul Cornell's WorldCon report - A report by Paul Cornell on his trip to WorldCon and Japan.

Which includes a link to the Mini-Doctor's trip. "She had good buns, indeed!"

As a followup to the post about Flash Gordon and Bonnie Hammer. This week's SciFi top ten did see Flash Gordon in its third week, at a .8 rating. That means almost half of the people who tuned in to the debut episode have not come back. No sign of Doctor Who, Who Wants to be a Superhero or Painkiller Jane, either. Repeats of former Saturday night movies such as Mega Snake and Ice Spiders still have legs.

1 ECW 1.7
2 Eureka 1.7
3 In the Spider's Web 1.0
4 Mega Snake 1.0
5 Ghost Hunters 0.9
6 Sasquatch 0.9
7 Ice Spiders 0.9
8 Flash Gordon 0.8
9 Marabunta 0.8
10. Earth vs. Spider 0.8

Source: Nielsen Galaxy Report, 8/20/07 -- 8/26/07

Monday, September 3, 2007

Long Range Dr. Who Plans for the BBC, Galactica to be Strung Out?

BBC Commits to Doctor Who Through 2010

In an official BBC Press Release, the BBC has announced their plans for Doctor Who into 2010. Recently, it was announced that David Tennant was committed to a lengthy run for the Briitish Shakespeare company that would obviously overlap with what the normal filming schedule for Doctor Who would be. In the BBC Announcement, they indicate the Doctor Who schedule will be as follows:

Christmas 2007 - New special
Season Four - Spring 2008
Christmas 2008 - New Special
2009 - Three specials (with Tennant and Russell T. Davies)
2010 - Full Fifth Series of 13 episodes

The BBC doesn't indicate any more details about the fifth series, which has already led to speculation on if Tennant or Davies will continue. This does make some sense when you look at the production of other BBC series, most of which don't do more than a few series and then end. The fact that Doctor Who has done four series in four years plus three Christmas specials is pretty remarkable and giving the actors and producers a bit of a break will probably help (plus they still have Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures to produce and who knows what else they might come up with for other productions, be it a Doctor Who related spinoff or something completely different).

Battlestar Galactica Final Season Being Stretched into 2009?

In a report on some of the Battlestar Galactica actors at DragonCon this weekend posted on Ain't It Cool News, the actors indicated that SciFi currently plans to run the first half of the 20 episode final season in January 2008 and hold the remaining ten episodes until early 2009! SciFi appears to want to get as much mileage as they can with the final run of BG, and this will likely mean a split season release (or calling them season four and season five). Of course, if Sky TV in the UK gets to run all 20 episodes straight through and airs them before SciFi, it may be a moot point for a lot of fans.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Quick Note to NBC Universal

Dear NBC Universal,

Don't you think its about time to admit that Bonnie Hammer doesn't really need to oversee two networks and let someone have a shot at running the SciFi Channel that might be able to either come up with something people will watch or let something that people do watch and has potential to grow its audience stick around?

Cases in Point...

1. Painkiller Jane - Debuted at a 1.3 rating, settled down at maybe a .6 or .7 rating. That has already been canceled. Maybe it was a good deal since you did a co-production arrangement so the people who produced it could sell it in weekly syndication and it didn't cost SciFi that much. At least they let the viewers who were watching it know that it will end at the end of the season and it isn't being renewed.

2. Flash Gordon - It debuted with the highest numbers of any new series on SciFi this year. At a 1.5 rating it was slightly better than Dresden Files' 1.4 debut. Dresden Files did manage to keep most of its viewers though. Looking at this weeks SciFi Wire report on the top 10 SciFi Channel shows we see no sign of Flash Gordon, which means it at best was a .9 rating, which means over 1/3 of the households that tuned into the first episode didn't come back the next week.

3. Tin Man - SciFi appears to be concerned about this year's big miniseries. A recent survey done with the NBC viewer survey board was primarily to see if a different name might encourage people to watch it. Things like "Behind the Brick Road" or "Battle for Oz!" were asked opinions of. How about "Oz ReImmed" to reflect the reimagining of The Wizard of Oz to the point where no one wants to see it? Of course, that appears to have not worked very well with Flash Gordon.

SciFi in general is suffering from a lot of ratings erosion, whether its due to people using their PVRs, buying them on Itunes (which NBC Universal has pulled the plug on for the new season, reportedly because Apple wasn't willing to charge more for the episodes), or just downloading them off the internet. Down the pike they don't have anything really exciting in the works for new series and coming up this fall, to go with repurposed episodes of The Bionic Woman, they will be showing Odyssey Five as a lead in to Flash Gordon and Stargate Atlantis. Granted, O5 was an interesting series, but it has been out on DVD for a while but its not likely to do gangbuster ratings, either. I have a feeling that Stargate Atlantis will have trouble keeping its viewers with the lousy leadin it will have with Flash (assuming Flash makes it to October).

I noticed that Who Wants to be a Superhero apparently isn't doing that well, either. It's season debut was at best a .8 rating and it hasn't made Scifi's top ten so far. Mind Control with Darren Brown hasn't cracked the top ten in its short run, either. WWTBASH is a fun show, and I'll have more on it later this week, but its not going to save the SciFi channel in the ratings wars. In fact, SciFi has moved up the finale a week, airing the final two episodes this week and dropped a planned marathon of the rest of the episodes that would have aired on September 13th. Unfortunately, the Skiffytown Superheroes may not have a show to try out for and Stan Lee can concentrate on his turning Paris Hilton into a superhero. Says Stan "The plan is to make an animated cartoon show with her on TV. A hip comedy in the superhero comedy-adventure genre. We get on very well. This is a charming, very likable person. Sophisticated. Great comedic sense. A fine voice. And seriously, hard-working. Totally unlike whatever the public is led to believe."

FYI, there is a petition at petitionsonline to have Bonnie Hammer replaced. A lot of their demands on the petition are a bit misplaced or not possible, but the sentiment is good.

New Star Trek Worth Catching

Last week saw the debut of the latest episode of the fan produced Star Trek New Voyages series, "World Enough and Time." This is the third full episode of the series and sets a new standard for "fan" produced episodes. There's been a lot of attention given to the Star Wars Fan Films and the prior New Voyages episode, "To Serve All My Days" featured Walter Koenig as Chekov in a script by D.C. Fontana, got a bit of publicity. There's also the ongoing Star Trek Hidden Frontier fan film series that has produced seven seasons worth of episodes.

For the latest Star Trek New Voyages released, Marc Scott Zicree approached the producers with a script based on a story originally developed by Michael Reaves for the Star Trek Phase II TV series that was scuttled in favor of the first Star Trek movie. Zicree directed and co-wrote the script and enlisted George Takei to play an older Sulu, seen on the Excelsior with Janice Rand (played by Grace Lee Whitney) as well as Sulu after he was stranded for 30 or so years on an alien planet. Zicree also enlisted a lot of well regarded people for behind the scenes and also worked with the regular cast to improve their acting (Zicree's wife, Elaine, ran acting workshops for the cast). When I talked with Zicree last year at WesterCon and again at CopperCon (just a couple of weeks before filming was done), he was excited about putting it together and wanted to make it the best production it could be.

For the new episode, they did a hollywood premiere and set the episode up to be streamed online but found out that they grossly underestimated the demand for it and had a lot of problems getting it streamed. They do now have it streaming for the most part and also have set the episode up on their official Star Trek New Voyages Bittorrent site.

The episode tells a good story, bringing Sulu to front and center early in the episode and putting him through an emotional wringer by the time the episode is done with. The acting by the regular cast has improved over the prior episodes and the guest cast is very good. Takei definitely enjoys getting a chance to play Sulu again and makes the most of it.

What's next for the Star Trek New Voyages crew? They've already filmed the next installment this summer, "Blood and Fire" with David Gerrold directing his own script, which was adapted from his original script done for Star Trek: The Next Generation. On David's blog, he goes into detail on the genesis for the story and the original script, why it didn't get made back then and what he hoped to accomplish with it now. This doesn't have any of the original crew reprising their roles, but he does have Denise Crosby (ST:TNG's Yar) and Bill Blair (The Alien Actor) taking part and a good crew behind the scenes including Rick Sternbach and Daren R. Dochterman (currently working on remastering the original series for HD). After that, they have a Harry Mudd centric episode, "The Sky Above, the Mudd Below", written by Howard Weinstein, and starring J.G. Hertzler (DS9's Martok) as Harry Mudd.

Until we get the new Star Trek movie next December, we've got some good efforts to watch continuing the Trek legacy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BuboniCon 39 in Albuquerque

You want Authors? We got Authors! and some Green Slime, too!

I made it to Bubonicon for the second time last weekend, which is a small, but growing, convention that's been going for quite a while. The majority of the local authors come out to take part and they usually have a good number of authors coming from nearby areas as well as a few from out of town. It is a fairly relaxed convention and a lot of the authors hang around to chat with fans and each other, or sit in the audience for panels with other authors.

This year's Author GoH was Vernor Vinge, with William Stout as Artist GoH and Jane Lindskold as Toastmaster. Other authors participating included Connie Willis, Daniel Abraham, Walter Jon Williams and more. Check out the Bubonicon site for the full list. George R.R. Martin wasn't scheduled to participate, but did show up to hang out and participate in the group signing.

Highlights for me included Connie Willis' "50 Minutes With" where she discussed the current state of her new novel and also read from her new novella,"All Seated on the Ground", being published in the December Asimov's. It is a pretty funny story and I'm glad we won't have to wait too long before being able to read the rest of it. It's about a group of aliens who land in Denver, come out of their ship, and just stand there. For months. Without anything getting a reaction from them, until they all sit down when hearing a christmas carol. Connie left us with the line "Whatever you do, don't play them any more christmas carols!".

They had their mass autographing on Saturday afternoon with almost all of the participating authors taking part. Here's just a few of them....

They also held a remembrance panel later in the day on Saturday, with Connie Willis and Melinda Snodgrass talking about Jack Williamson and Fred Saberhagen, who passed away in the last year. Members of Williamson's family were not able to attend due to services for Richard A. Hauptmann, a friend of Jack who passed away on August 20th. Connie, Melinda and other authors and fans related stories about Jack, Fred and Richard.

During their Sunday auction, one of their annual traditions is auctioning off a copy of John Lymington's Froomb!, a really bad novel that is auctioned off each year with the winner having to read it and write comments in the book. This has been going on for several years and they have recently added a copy of Lymington's other novel, The Green Drift, to the package. This year it went for $100!

To close out the convention, the Green Slime awards is presented by Kathy K. Kubica. There wasn't a really outstandingly bad movie this year, but Underdog was awarded for being a movie that really wasn't needed, SciFi for mucking with the Dresden Files and then canceling it without giving it a chance, Laurell K. Hamilton for her continuing decline as an author, The Creation Museum, and a Superman toy with sound effects and glowing eyes when his heat vision comes on that looks demonic.

There's some con photos uploaded to the Bubonicon Flickr group (which will soon include some of mine).

If you want to get some signed books from some of the authors, you shoudl contact Who Else? Books. They do not have online listings, but most of the authors signed new and used books for them.

Monday, August 27, 2007

SciFi October Preview

SciFi Goes Halloweenie this October

SciFi's October schedule is now visiable via SciFi's schedulebot or via their cable info PDF file. With October being the month of Halloween, SciFi is going overboard with a 13 days of Halloween promotion in addition to a week of horror tinged episodes during their daytime blocks.

First up, as indicated previously, Doctor Who and Eureka end their current seasons on SciFi early in October, with Eureka having an all day marathon leading up to its season finale on October 2nd. New episodes of Flash Gordon and Stargate Atlantis run each Friday night during the month along with repurposed episodes of The Bionic Woman at 7 pm ET/PT (with no sign of repurposing for Chuck, Journeyman or Heroes). Joining the SciFi Friday lineup on Oct 13th at 8 pm ET/PT will be Odyssey 5, starring Peter Weller and Christopher Gorham (Jake 2.0 and Ugly Betty). When originally aired on Showtime in 2002, Showtime stopped airing the series with eight of its 20 episodes left to air and finally screened them two years later in October 2004. It has been released on DVD and SciFi's airings will likely have some bleeping going on (or alternate audio).

For Halloween, SciFi starts things off the week of October 15th where their daytime rotation will feature horror tinged shows (Night Stalker, X-Files, Kindred: The Embraced, Wolf Lake and Tales From the Darkside. Starting on Friday, October 19th, SciFi goes into full "13 days of Halloween" mode with their schedule being pretty much nothing but horror and monster movies aside for their Friday night original series, Tuesday's ECW, and a block of Ghost Hunters with The Haunted on Wednesday nights (The Monday Enterprise/Ani-Monday blocks air on Oct 22nd, but are pre-empted on Oct 29th). This all culminates in a six hour live episode of Ghost Hunters starting a 9 pm ET on Wednesday, October 31.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

SFTV Catchup

A few various things from the last week to catch up with....

SciFi Channel Roundup Jane Cancelled, Flash Debut So-So, Fall dates for BG: Razor and Atlantis, NBC repurposing

The SciFi Channel announced that they will not be renewing Painkiller Jane for a second season due to low ratings. They will continue to run the series through the season finale in September.

The debut of Flash Gordon on August 10th did a 1.5 household rating and around 2.1 million viewers. This was the highest debut for a new series in 2007 for SciFi, which was slightly better than when the Dresden Files debuted with a 1.4 rating back in January.

SciFi also announced some airdates for their fall shows.

Stargate Atlantis returns on September 28th for its fourth season, airing at 10 pm ET/PT and will run pretty much straight through until the mid-season finale on December 7th.

The Battlestar Galactica special "Razor" will air on Saturday, November 24th. Leading up to the broadcast will be the "Razor" minisoded that will air during Flash Gordon starting in October.

Ghost Hunters will resume its third season on Wednesday, Sept 26th and will also have its second Halloween special that will air from 11 pm to 5 am ET/PT on October 31 and will be broadcast live from one of the most haunted places in America, Waverly Hills Sanitarium in Louisville, Kentucky. Being paired up with Ghost Hunters on Wednesdays, will be the 2002 UPN series, Haunted, starring Matthew Fox, who seems to have done better with his next series, Lost. UPN pulled the series after seven episodes, leaving six episodes unaired.

SciFi looks to be planning to repurpose NBC's Journeyman, Bionic Woman and Chuck, but do not appear to have Heroes on their schedule. The last week of September shows Journeyman airing at 7 pm on Thursday with The Bionic Woman at 7 pm on Friday. On Sunday night, they have Chuck scheduled at 11 pm with Journeyman at 12 midnight. Once Doctor Who ends its run in the 8 pm Friday time slot, it may be that one of the NBC shows will take over that time slot on Oct 11th.

SciFi also last week dropped their two hour block of Tru Calling on Tuesday nights, replacing it with one episode of Dead Like Me and a repeat of a Eureka episode. That is how the schedule looks through the end of September.

Canadian TV Updates

I've found a website, TV Eh?, that is specifically about Canadian TV shows, networks and news. It looks like things will be getting a bit busier this fall for SF TV on Canadian channels, which may include some things airing before they do in the US.

Blood Ties - The series will debut this week on CityTV in Canada, with different times depending on where you are watching City TV. The show will also air on Space this fall, at 9 pm Fridays starting September 14th.

Masters of Science Fiction - Space will also air Masters of Science Fiction beginning November 4th, planning to air all six episodes.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Day of Reckoning, or Not.

There's several things of importance happening today or have happened in the past...

First up, Stardust!

The movie adapation of Stardust, the illustrated novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, is released to theatres today. There's been a lot of preview screenings including the one I attended in San Diego during ComicCon and there's been various reviews posted online, the majority of them positive ones. Our local papers, The Phoenix New Times and The Arizona Republic had less favorable reviews, showing that they just don't get it at times.

I enjoyed the movie and plan to see it again this weekend. Neil Gaiman has asked that fans go see it during opening weekend to show your support for good movies, especially ones with a Neil Gaiman connection. What would be really neat is for it to beat Rush Hour 3 in Box office, which likely isn't going to happen since RH3 is probably opening in four times as many screens as Stardust, but if Stardust gets a good per screen average, that will be a good thing.

Yes, there are differences from the book, in part to expand the story a bit more and make it more cinematic. Neil Gaiman is happy with how it turned out and describes the differences as akin to Earth-1 versus Earth-2 versions (or is it Earth 42 or so with the new DC Multiverse, but I digress...). Despite the tone of the movie trailers produced by Paramount, the movie is more than just an action adventure, with a good deal of magic, romance and humour (spelled the British way).

Next Up - Flash Gordon ?!~
As anyone who has watched anything on the SciFi Channel of late knows, today is the debut of the new Flash Gordon TV series. I have not had the opportunity to see the pilot in advance to pass judgement on it myself, but this roll call of critics reviews collected by Hercules of Ain't It Cool News definitely leads me to believe it is going to be the train wreck I was expecting. First of all, when SciFi announced back in January (completely out of the blue), that they were making a Flash Gordon series to debut in July of this year, I had my doubts they could pull it off. At the time of the announcement and even a few weeks afterwards, it was apparent that they didn't even have a concept on how to remake it or had any casting. When the casting was announced of Eric Johnson as Flash, it definitely wasn't anything to get many fans excited (Lana Lang's jock boyfriend from Smallville?) and the rest of the cast are pretty much standard spot-the-Canuck actors we've seen turn up on a lot of Canadian produced TV shows. When they finally admitted who was running the show, Peter Hume (Charmed, South Beach), there was yet another big yawn. When the biggest news about the start of filming was that they were able to reuse sets from the Tin Man miniseries to represent Ming's palace on Mongo, it was apparent they were stretching to find something to try to get people's interest up. Then, when we started to get actual information on their take on modernizing the show, expectations were lowered even more (no rockets, just a wormhole/rift to travel between Earth and Mongo, Ming is a blonde Canadian with no real apparent alienness - who knows, maybe it will work), and with seeing actual clips form the show, it looks pretty much standard made in Vancouver show. SciFi has been struggling with their first run dramas, Battlestar Galactica and the Stargates have all declined in the ratings, Painkiller Jane has hardly made their top ten for the week, likely averaging about half what Galactica and the Stargates were getting in the ratings, The one show that held some promise and had halfway decent ratings during its 12 week run, The Dresden Files, Scifi seemed to disown it and only just recently admitted they had no plans to renew the show. This after stringing fans along for months without anything more than a "no decision has been made" response. I expect there will be some curiosity tune-in for Flash Gordon tonight, but I will be surprised if it manages to hang on to much of a loyal audience.

August 10th Birthdays and other Happenings
Famous people born on August 10th include Claudia Christian (of Babylon 5 fame and apparently isn't enough of a celebrity anymore to make the "Celebrity Birthdays" list in the papers today), Rosanna Arquette, Antonio Banderas, Kate O'Mara (Dynasty and Doctor Who's The Rani) and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. It is also my birthday, number 50 (ack!). It is also the date that the Babylon 5 pilot started filming in 1992, and the date I first visited the Babylon 5 set in 1995. I also use this date as an annual request for donations to help support gift certificates or paypal donations can be sent to .

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

NeilCon, or the Neil Gaiman Subset of ComicCon International 2007

As I've seen mentioned a few times, the San Diego Comic Con International is so big that you basically need to decide what convention you want to make for yourself. This year, I elected to make my Comic Con experience focus on Neil Gaiman. I didn't see everything he was one, but made it a point to catch his spotlight panel and two of the three movie presentations he was part of at the Horton Plaza theatre.

First off, a somewhat organized report on the screenings:
One of the highlights of this year's Comic Con International were some special screenings arranged for three movies based on Neil Gaiman works. First up was one for Beowulf, for which a screening was held on Wednesday night with Neil Gaiman and co-screenwriter Roger Avary. With it happening on Wednesday night, there was confusion about who could actually get in to see it, though. The people at the Paramount booth either didn't know about it, claimed it was for press only, or later claimed it didn't actually happen. It did happen and Paramount did screen a taping of it on Thursday afternoon a couple of times. I was not able to make any of those screenings, but did see Gaiman and Avary talk about the movie in the big Paramount presentation on Thursday afternoon in Hall H. Gaiman first took the stage to talk about Stardust with screenwriter Jane Goldman, showing an extended clip from the film. When they were done with that segment, Neil walked off stage as he had been told to do, and then came back on stage with Roger Avary. You can see video from those panels on Youtube. First the Stardust segment with Jane Goldman and then the Beowulf panel with Roger Avary.

Thursday night was a preview screening of Stardust, with Neil Gaiman and Jane Goldman introducing the movie and holding a short Q&A session afterwards. For this screening, there were 50 VIP passes made available via the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund for which those who sprung for it got a limited print by Charles Vess (1 of 50) signed by Gaiman and Vess, a set of the Stardust frangrances by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and a VIP ticket to the screening. Paramount also handed out passes at their booth, having them snatched up very quickly by fans eager to see the movie early. Of course, they handed out more passes than there were seats and those who arrived late weren't able to get in. Having sprung for the CBLDF VIP package, I was able to bypass the line outside and take a seat in the reserved section.

As it grew nearer to the start of the Stardust screening, the theatre filled up and sitting down the aisle from me was Charles Vess and, I assume, some other people involved with the movie. Neil and Jane were introduced and did a short introduction for the film and then did a Q&A session afterwards. I'll be posting a detailed review of the movie later this week, but I quite enjoyed it and the audience gave Neil and Jane a standing ovation as they went back to the front of the stage for the Q&A session. As Neil had indicated onstage earlier in the day, the movie is different from the book in such a way as to describe the book as the Earth-1 version of the story while the movie is the Earth-2 version. The story was restructured a bit so that we actually met up with Tristan Thorne much earlier in the movie and he has a much quicker journey to where the star has landed. When asked about the role of Captain Shakespeare and if it was expanded for the movie because the signed up Robert DeNiro, Goldman indicated that the role had been expanded as part of creating the movie script and that it grew a bit more when DeNiro was brought on board. Gaiman talked about when he visited the set and was able to walk around on the full size flying ship set. He recounted that he put a flying ship in the story because he thought it would be neat to have Charles Vess draw a flying ship as part of the illustrations. It took him a few minutes to write it, and probably a few hours for Charles to draw it. When he was standing on the set that took workers two months to build and several million dollars, he started to feel a bit guilty about it, though. For those wondering why it is Tristan Thorne in the movie while in the original book it was Tristran Thorn, Gaiman said that when director Matthew Vaughn was getting things written down, he referenced a British paperback edition of Stardust that had the character name as Tristan Thorne on back of the book and once Michael had it written down that way, it stuck. Thus probably perpetuating the Earth-1 vs. Earth-2 analogy.

During the Rogue/Focus pictures panel in Hall H on Saturday, Neil Gaiman once again took the stage, this time with director Henry Selick to talk about the stop motion 3D animated movie based on Gaiman's Hugo, Nebula, British Science Fiction, Locus Poll, and Bram Stoker award winning story Coraline. They formally announced a special screening that night with passes being handed out at the Rogue Focus pictures booth later that afternoon. I managed to get by the booth and get a pass, although it appeared that the passes that were more popular were those for a preview screening of Balls of Fury. I imagine that people who were in Hall H that heard about it didn't want to leave the hall to get a pass for fear they would not be able to get back in and those who might have wanted to see it didn't even know it was happening. Those of us who were able to check Neil's blog knew that something was happening and were able to figure it out.

After packing my stuff up from the J. Michael Straczynski spotlight, I caught the comiccon shuttle bus up to the Horton Plaza and found a relatively short line of fans lined up for the screening. I was early enough to have time to get something to eat and relax a bit before heading back to my place in line, seeing that it had grown a bit while I was away. They did have a couple of posters on display outside of the theatre and it was a fairly relaxed crowd when they started to let us in. As expected, they were checking bags and purses to prevent anyone from taping the presentation. They were relatively nice about it compared to other screenings I've been to and since most people had come directly from the convention, they still had their cameras. I was allowed to keep my camera by removing the memory card and putting it in my pocket. After the screening, I was able to take a couple of pictures (really dark, though) of Neil and Henry signing the posters they handed out.

The crowd was a mixture of Gaiman fans (a couple of girls dressed up as Death and Delirium), industry types and Gaiman's family (his daughter Maddy and son Mike) as well as his assistants who had been watching over him all weekend. Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick sat down in the front of the theatre and started with showing various test footage of each of the major characters including Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning), her Mother and the Other Mother (both voiced by Teri Hatcher), her rubbernecked Father (voiced by John Hodgman), the obese Miss Forcible and top-heavy Miss Spink (voiced by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, respectively). Selick noted that French and Saunders had originally been cast with the other roles (French as Miss Spink and Saunders as Miss Forcible) but that when they were doing readings, something seemed to be missing. When they had them switch parts, it really clicked and that is how it has ended up. The look of the character design in the movie is different from the Dave McKean illustrations in the original book and were primarily developed by visual designer Tadehiro Uesugi. We saw test footage of characters walking and moving as well as some test footage with syncing the faces up to the dialogue. In most footage there was still a line below most characters foreheads that is part of the physical puppet. Selick indicated that they planned to remove those for the final film as well as the visible support beams needed for some characters. Gaiman indicated he kindof liked that lines on the face and hope they stay in. I guess we'll find out when the movie is released next year how it ends up. After concluding showing us the test footage, they asked us to put on our 3D glasses and screened a mostly completed section of the film lasting about ten minutes that showed Coraline discovering the door between her house and the Other house and ending with the discovery of the Other Mother with her noticeable difference from her real mother. The 3D is more subtle in the real world and is more noticeable in the Other world. The footage looked very good and the look of the film is really outstanding visually. Selick said that when they decided to do it in 3D, they redesigned and rebuilt some of the sets to make it work better in 3D and it really did look good. It think this will set a new standard for stop motion animation and will be worth catching by viewers of all ages.

After the screening was done, Gaiman and Selick took a few more questions and then it was announced that those with pieces of paper stuck under their seats with stars on them would be getting a special poster made for this event and that Gaiman and Selick would sign. They were numbered and on thicker paper and look really neat.

The rest of Neil Con
In addition to the offsite screenings and appearances on the panels in Hall H, Neil was quite busy the rest of the time. He did one full public signing up in the autograph area on Friday where they did a random ticket drawing for people to be able to be in the line. They had several hundred people filling up about four bays trying to get the few tickets that were available, for which I was not one of the few to get them. That wasn't the only signing opportunity, though. Neil also did a couple of signings on Thursday and Friday for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund where for new or renewal memberships, you were able to get an item signed. Also for the CBLDF, they did a special poster of his poem "Instructions", illustrated by Brian and Wendy Froud, that originally was going to be a signing at the Imaginosis booth where Brian and Wendy were most of the weekend. Realizing the demand for Neil, they made it a ticketed drawing with a notice in the daily paper about it. The mention didn't specify it also required purchasing the poster (with proceeds going to the CBLDF). WIth the late notice, there was a much smaller crowd for the drawing and most people that wanted the ticket were able to get one. During this signing is when Claudia Christian stopped by to tell Neil how much she liked his work.

Neil also made an appearance at the CBLDF Auction (or was supposed to) and also presented at the Eisner Awards on Friday night. It was here that his co-presenter, Jonathan Ross, decided they should re-enact the Madonna/Britney Spears kiss for the audience. It was near the end of a long ceremony and you can see what happened here on YouTube.

Neil's spotlight panel on Friday was well attended and Comic Book Resources has a very good report on it. Neil did cause a bit of a stir during the panel when he removed his leather jacket!
During the panel, Neil's assistant also handed out sample t-shirts from the Neverwear venture.
There's also a few bits of video from this panel online on YouTube. Panel opening, Scary Trousers, ComicCon's Early years & Charles Vess, Imagination, Scandanavian Death Metal.

The other panel Neil did was on Sunday in a Jack Kirby Tribute panel with Mark Evanier, Erik Larsen, Darwyn Cooke, and Mike Royer. This was the panel Neil was most looking forward to doing and CBR has a report on the panel.

Following the Kirby panel, Neil was off and running up to Los Angeles for the star studded premier of Stardust in Hollywood. Photos on IMDB from the premiere can be found here, starting with Neil in the slideshow. Charles Vess also reported on the premiere on his blog with a report and a photo of him and Neil together. (Note that at the time I posted this, the greenmanpress site appeared to not be responding. Possibly overloaded due to Neil having linked to it on his journal).

You can also look back on Neil Gaiman's online journal for his thoughts on Comic Con including a couple of videos from his daughter, Maddy. While waiting in line and in the audience for these events, a lot of people were surprised to hear about the other things happening, all of which they would have known about if they'd read Neil's blog before the con.

I think that about does it for this entry.