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Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Up Close and Personal
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Tasha, Me and Rein in Megamall

Spent the weekend covering our client Unilever's latest event, "CloseUp to Fame: The Search for the Next CloseUp Couple" at Megamall. I was asked to be on the panel of judges, rating aspirants anywhere from 1 to 10 on their CloseUp smiles, confidence and poise, communication skills and overall appeal.

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Look who's interviewing who! Sikat!

I'll be flying to Cebu this coming weekend to cover (and possibly judge again) the on-ground search there. Simultaneous auditions will be held in Davao and Naga, as well. So if you think you've got what it takes, log on to to find out how to join.

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As you can see, I'm still in denial over Rony's "defection" to the land of the big ears. I have to accept the fact that my old friend has finally been seduced by the bright side of the Force. It was inevitable. Talent like that cannot go unnoticed for long. And now we must share him with the world. May the Force be with him, truly.
posted by The White Rabbit at 3:42 PM | Permalink | 1 Speak Up!
Thursday, May 26, 2005
El Leon, la Bruja y el Ropero
Rony is leaving next Tuesday, Bo lost, and I am having a PR crisis at work. I gotta have something to feel good about! And this much-awaited film is as good as any. If not better!

And so I focus my thoughts on the coming Walt Disney-slash-Walden Media film The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, opening worldwide in December (locally in January because of that dratted film fest!).

This C.S. Lewis classic has such ties to my heart-- it being a memorable cartoon in my formative years (I remember the KLIM milk TV premiere of the cartoon that introduced 3D viewing to my little 5-year old life), and then the monumental, life-changing Trumpets musical that ushered in my theater years 8 years ago. Nothing has EVER been the same since.

Have you seen Shadowlands? It's a film starring Anthony Hopkins as Jack (Lewis' nickname), and Debra Winger as Joy Gresham, his wife and Douglas Gresham's mother. If you haven't, go see it-- in fact, try to get your hands on as many C.S. Lewis works, fiction and non-fiction, before the movie comes around. Your appreciation level is guaranteed to rise a hundred-fold! Take special note of Surprised by Joy, Jack's autobigraphical account of his early years and of the gradual end of his atheism. For those who may not know it, C.S. Lewis is probably the world's most widely read and respected Christian apologist. Pick up a copy of The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, too, if you have the time.

As a matter of special note, Lewis also happened to be J.R.R. Tolkien's barkada. During his life, he established and maintained many close friendships. As reported in the C.S. Lewis Institute archives, one group, "The Inklings," met in Lewis' rooms on Thursday nights during the years 1933-50, and then the meeting place moved to the "Eagle and the Child" pub until Lewis died in 1963. Regular participants were C.S. Lewis' brother, Warren, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dr. R.E. Harvard, and Charles Williams. Other attendees included Nevill Coghill, Hugo Dyson, Owen Barfield, and Adam Fox. The focus of each meeting was a reading from one of the group's works in progress.

Tolkien would read a draft of The Lord of the Rings, Lewis a draft of The Great Divorce or Warren Lewis' work on Louis XIV and so on. None of the group's members were shy to criticize, and lively discussions followed, always punctuated with much laughter.

C.S. Lewis' marriage to Joy Davidman (Gresham) has been powerfully portrayed in the B.B.C. and Hollywood versions of Shadowlands. The latter version starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger contains a number of inaccuracies, but Douglas Gresham, C.S. Lewis' stepson, described it as "emotionally true." When Jack and Joy married, she had cancer, and a long life was not expected. However, when a remarkable remission occurred, they experienced two years of great happiness before the cancer returned and Joy died in 1960.
As Joy herself bravely says, 'We can't have the happiness of tomorrow without the pain of today. That's the deal.'

The Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe (LWW) is the second of seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia. The first one, The Magician's Nephew, tells the story of how Narnia was created. An imaginative account of Genesis, if you will. In LWW, four children from our world escape the horrors of bomb-raided London during WWII and find themselves entering a magical, timeless world beyond the doors of an attic wardrobe. An evil White Witch named Jadis has taken over Narnia, bringing on a perpetual winter to the once green and blooming land. Their only hope is the return of the great Lion, Aslan-- ruler of Cair Paravel and the One True King of Narnia!

Exciting, isn't it? And to think Trumpets managed to bring it all to life live, onstage all those years ago. No small feat, and a wondrous journey for everyone involved. Gresham himself said so. Another victory for Pinoys, even if the rest of the world never hears of it. The last time I spoke (alright, emailed) Douglas was a few months ago. He apologized for not being able to email as lengthily these days for obvious reasons. He happens to be working as creative consultant on the film, with approval authority on script, look, merchandising, and other related matters.

Once a king and queen of Narnia, always a king and queen of Narnia! And so it goes. I particularly like the Spanish equivalent of the title. Especially the bruja bit. Haha.

So, from now on until forever. . .don't let those closed doors fool you. You never know what wondrous lands lie beyond. And keep your eyes peeled for flickering lampposts in the middle of nowhere. Let them be your guide. . .
posted by The White Rabbit at 12:43 PM | Permalink | 1 Speak Up!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Oh Frodo! Say It Isn't So!
Tickets to the new lavish stage musical, The Lord of the Rings, went on sale May 15 — nine months before its premiere — and rang up $1 million within 24 hours, according to The Star in Toronto.

The figure is in Canadian dollars, but is still impressive, especially when added to the reported $3 million in group sales so far. A spokesperson for the show confirmed to that these initial figures are accurate. Interest from U.S. theatregoers was reported by the Star as intense.

The $27 million (Canadian) production condenses the three fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien — "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers" and "The Return of the King" — into one 3-1/2-hour event, premiering at Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre Feb. 2, 2006, toward an opening night of March 23, 2006.

The burst of sales (an exclusive internet offer starting 9 AM May 15 resulted in the $1 million) is an early suggestion that there will be a healthy crossover of the many fans who cherish the trilogy of fantasy novels and its motion picture spinoffs.

Mavens who can recite passages of the best-selling books have been heartened by the news that the show will seek to musically create the otherworldly quality of the quest tale rather than serve up Jerry Herman-esque numbers.

One might cringe imagining a quirky show tune of sweet admonition from Frodo called "Oh, Sam!," about hobbit pal Sam's dogged faithfulness. Don't expect it: Traditional musical theatre is not what India's most popular composer, A.R. Rahman, and the Finnish group Värttinä, collaborating with Christopher Nightingale, write.

What would the elves sing? What is the sound a hobbit dances to? Can an orc carry a tune?

Expect varied Asian- and European-influenced sounds to suggest the many tribes of the story. The book and lyrics are by Shaun McKenna and Matthew Warchus. The international creative team is led by acclaimed director Matthew Warchus (Broadway's recent True West, Life x 3, Follies and Art) and includes award-winning designer Rob Howell (set and costumes) and choreographer Peter Darling.

Casting has been ongoing. International performers are being sought, as long as they can work legally in Canada. Auditions continue throughout the summer, with rehearsals scheduled to begin in October 2005.

The show will boast an ensemble of 65 actors, singers and musicians, and condenses the three "Rings" novels into one 3-1/2-hour event. "Teams of engineers, carpenters, painters, welders, prop-makers, armorers, cutters and seamstresses are focusing their efforts on realizing the design for the stage," according to production notes. "After an eight-month build, Rob Howell's inventive and spectacular stage floor, weighing 30 tons and costing $1.2 million (Canadian), is nearing completion in the U.K., ready for shipping to Toronto."

The Lord of the Rings is a Kevin Wallace Limited Production, presented by Kevin Wallace and Saul Zaentz, in association with David and Ed Mirvish and Michael Cohl. In production notes, director Warchus said, "To read the novel is to experience the events of Middle-earth in the mind's eye; to watch the films is to view Middle-earth as though through a giant window. Only in the theatre are we actually plunged into the events as they happen. The environment surrounds us. We participate. We are in Middle-earth."

Of the casting, which began in recent weeks, producer Kevin Wallace said in a statement, "The ensemble of actors we engage for The Lord of the Rings will come from different backgrounds. The text requires classical actors; the songs demand a unique vocal style from the company. Many of the acting company will be multi-skilled with acting, vocal and/or physical theatre skills. As all the species of Tolkien's Middle -earth — hobbits, elves, orcs, men, etc, will appear on stage, the actors have to be sufficiently physically adept to take on the diverse characteristics of each…

"In addition there are some spectacular sequences that require members of the ensemble to have specialist circus and/or stage-combat skills. Therefore, we are also looking for a core group of these specialist performers to join the company."

As the Hobbits of the tale are child-sized creatures, men who are 5-foot-7-inches or shorter are being sought. To play the warrior folk, men must be 5-foot-11-inches or taller.
"Only Canadian citizens or those eligible to work in Canada need apply," according to a casting notice.

The creative team includes Simon Baker (sound), The Gray Circle (moving image design), Paul Kieve (illusions direction), Laurie Battle (Tolkien creative consultation). Christopher Nightingale (musical supervision). Orchestrations are by Nightingale, A.R. Rahman and Värttinä.
Ticket prices range $56-$125 (Canadian). For ticket information, visit or call TicketKing at (416) 872-1212 or (800) 461-3333. For group inquiries, call (416) 593-4142 or (800) 724-6420.
posted by The White Rabbit at 2:17 PM | Permalink | 0 Speak Up!
Monday, May 23, 2005
Sweat the Small Stuff
Here are a few things to look or listen for when you're watching "Revenge of the Sith":

George Lucas in blue-face at the opera as Baron Papanoida.

A hot rod driven by Sen. Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits). It's based on the front of a Tucker that is parked at Skywalker Ranch. "George is an avid car fan, and when they were designing that car, he actually sent them over to the garage to take pictures of the Tucker," says Rob Coleman, animation director on the film.

A duel between Obi-Wan and Anakin marks the first (and only) time in a "Star Wars" movie that two characters fight each other using the same color light-saber.

A Peter Cushing look-alike. At the end of the film, there's an actor who bears a strong resemblance to the late actor who played Grand Moff Tarkin, the villain in the first "Star Wars" movie.

Anakin's first mechanical-sounding breath as Darth Vader (toward the end of the movie).
Padme's hairstyle, now the bun style like Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars."

Leia's blockade runner, which is attacked at the beginning of "Star Wars."

Jett Lucas, the director's son, as Zett Jukassa, a Jedi.

Jar Jar Binks, with his mouth closed.

Source: The Los Angeles Daily News
posted by The White Rabbit at 5:10 PM | Permalink | 0 Speak Up!
Tale from the Darth side
(I enjoyed reading this well-written, and often hilarious review of "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith", and just wish to share it with you....essentially, I'm just overjoyed that my supremely favorite galaxy far, far away has finally and fittingly redeemed itself in this last installment.)

It's good. I mean really good.

Has this been George Lucas's master plan all along? Make the first two episodes in his new ''Star Wars" trilogy so dramatically inept, so stiffly played, so humorlessly locked into its maker's private mythology that anything would look better in comparison?

No. Even a doubter has to admit that on any terms ''Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" is the real deal, an often awkward but nonetheless terrifically compelling high-stakes human drama. That's right, human, and this from a director who has always seemed more comfortable turning actors into plastic action figures. Is ''Sith" the best of all the ''Star Wars" films? Let the arguing begin. But I'll go on record as saying that it is, without question, the most emotionally powerful of the six.

It's also hard, hard stuff -- a dark, not-for-the-little-ones epic that, as promised, ends with the triumph of fascism over the entire universe. Yes, the original 1977 ''Star Wars" now takes its place as ''Episode IV," leading the series back into the light. But everything in the past decade of ''Star Wars" mania has been a buildup to the climax of this movie, which is, effectively, the appearance of a galactic Hitler.

The situation is exactly as we left it at the end of ''Episode II -- Attack of the Clones," and that's cause for concern, since by common consensus ''Episode II" stunk up the room. Count Dooku (Christopher Lee) is still leading a separatist army of clone warriors against the Republic, assisted by the hulking cyborg General Grievous. Viewers whose minds have not been warped by 30 years of ''Star Wars" will note that these are extremely silly names, but here's the catch: The general himself is a splendidly nasty CGI creation: part bug, part robot, part Soviet field officer having a lousy day.

Lucas also forestalls the inevitable groan-inducing love scene between Padme Amidala (Natalie Portman) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) by filling the first 22 minutes of ''Sith" with a magnificent outer space battle in which Anakin, Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor), and assorted Republican forces temporarily rout Count Dooku's rebels. The sequence is just the sort of thing Lucas does best: visually ingenious, breathlessly exciting, inhuman. But it gets the fanboys primed and keeps the rest of us diverted.

Then, oh dear, here are Anakin and Padme having a squabble and a kiss. They were secretly married at the end of the last episode, and now Padme is pregnant and unsure whether her husband's angry fits should be written off to workplace stress. She's also modeling a fetching new style of hair bun that will have repercussions in the future. As in ''Attack of the Clones," the dialogue and performances in the domestic scenes are just atrocious -- there's nothing any actor, even one as talented as Portman, can do with lines like: Anakin -- ''You are so beautiful"; Padme -- ''You say that because you are in love"; Anakin -- ''No, I say that because I am in love with you." Christensen, for his part, merely sends up flare signals of confusion.

Thankfully, ''Revenge of the Sith" shunts Portman off-screen for much of the running time and concentrates on Anakin's inner struggle. The angel on his right shoulder is Obi-Wan, and behind him all the Jedi: Yoda (Frank Oz), Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson, lacking his customary anarchic gleam), the rest of the clubhouse. The devil on his left is the hooded Sith lord Darth Sidious, who any preschooler could tell you is really Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), although the great intellects of the Republic seem to miss this detail.

The film's emotional motor runs on Anakin's anger and impatience, and his sense of resentment that the other Jedi are shutting him out because he's Palpatine's favorite. In other words, ''Episode III" is office politics on a Wagnerian scale. As Obi-Wan is sent off to deal with the remnants of the separatists, and Yoda and Mace Windu worry about the Dark Side, and Chancellor Palpatine plots to turn the Jedi into scapegoats and silkily fills Anakin's ears with the side benefits of Darthdom, Lucas punctuates the drama with an almost unseemly number of duels. Some are a tad rote, but the best have a windmilling visual cleverness, such as the one in which General Grievous comes at Obi-Wan with four arms flashing four sabers, like a post-industrial Kali.

The heart of ''Revenge of the Sith" is in the film's final half, as all the pieces Lucas has been building for three decades come hurtling toward endgame. Anakin is sucked ever deeper into the Dark Lord's orbit, and while I don't want to spoil what happens, I think we all know that without the helmet going on, there ain't no ''Star Wars." Lucas and Christensen both make this process inexorable and, yes, powerful, especially in one particularly dire sequence in which Anakin goes over to his mentor once and for all.

Is Hayden Christensen a great actor? Not even close, but you could argue that a great actor might have done too much with the role. By setting his chin low and keeping his voice to a truculent whine, Christensen effectively portrays the kind of talented kid whose moral ruin is that it's always somebody else's fault. At the same time, Anakin feels like a legend unfolding in real-time. The actor grows into the role here, and the role grows with him.

In truth, the whole movie grows with him, and maybe the series too. In the first two films of the recent trilogy, Lucas seemed to believe his own press: The dramatic scenes were sludgy with import, and the Joseph Campbell primal-myth stuff hung around the story's neck like a rock. With ''Revenge of the Sith," Lucas finally achieves the sense of epic narrative weight his fans have always claimed for him.

Some may ascribe the improvement to the uncredited assistance of playwright Tom Stoppard, who helped Lucas out with the script. More likely, it's simple momentum -- that and a filmmaker getting to the part of the story that interests him in the first place. ''Revenge of the Sith" dramatizes archetypal notions of good and evil, but the quandary at the heart of it is this: Sometimes we can't see the difference between the two without help.

It's Anakin's fatal mistake to not step back for a larger perspective, and here Lucas (and, I'm betting, Stoppard) rather daringly draws a parallel to earthly political concerns. Plainly put, there are a number of provocative anti-Bush thought bombs woven into the script, and they go off all the louder for being so organic to the story being told. ''Have you ever considered," says Padme to her brooding husband, ''that we're on the wrong side? That the democracy we've been fighting for no longer exists?" Perhaps some of us have, but never as it affects trade relations in the outer galactic rim.

All this intensity comes at a cost, at least where younger audiences are concerned. Anakin's fate and transformation are grisly, and they may be more so to young minds who have followed the character since he was a pod-racing twerp and are hoping for any resolution but the logical one.
Not for young children, then, and maybe not even for grown-ups, ''Revenge of the Sith" is, finally, adolescent in the best and most impassioned ways. Which makes sense, since ''Star Wars" was always a teenage loner's fantasy -- it just happened to be one that conquered the world. In the process, George Lucas remade Hollywood as a playpen for blockbuster triviality, and some of us have always considered him a bit of a Dark Lord for that. With this film he makes amends, and in the process brings not only the biggest film series of all storming to an end but gives closure to a transformative mass-culture experience. Those don't come around very often -- the Beatles, MTV, the Internet -- and they tend to end ugly. George Lucas may still not understand the mysterious wiring of the human soul, but he knows the angry, idealistic dissatisfaction with life that drives us to make up legends in the first place.

(by Ty Burr, Boston Globe 5/18/05)
posted by The White Rabbit at 2:56 PM | Permalink | 1 Speak Up!
A True Jedi, Am I
I've been having a blast with quizzes from this site. Tune in and know why, you will. . .,0,4356461.triviaquiz?coll=mmx-movies_top_heds
posted by The White Rabbit at 1:42 PM | Permalink | 0 Speak Up!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
On Love
by Kahlil Gibran

Then said Almitra, "Speak to us of Love."

And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them.

And with a great voice he said:

When love beckons to you follow him,

Though his ways are hard and steep.

And when his wings enfold you yield to him,

Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.

And when he speaks to you believe in him,

Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.

Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,

So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.

He threshes you to make you naked.

He sifts you to free you from your husks.

He grinds you to whiteness.

He kneads you until you are pliant;

And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.

All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.

But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,

Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,

Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.

Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;

For love is sufficient unto love.

When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."

And think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.

Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.

But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:

To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.

To know the pain of too much tenderness.

To be wounded by your own understanding of love;

And to bleed willingly and joyfully.

To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;

To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy.

To return home at eventide with gratitude;

And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
posted by The White Rabbit at 2:39 PM | Permalink | 1 Speak Up!