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FD4 Set Visit Stories

FD4 - Mobile PressRegister

Movie car crashes will be filmed at Irvington speedway

Movie will be released in 3D and 2D versions

Wednesday, May 28, 2008
TV & Media Editor

Safety will be the top job on the movie set of "Final Destination 4" — really the Mobile International Speedway in Irvington — as stunt drivers deliberately wreck specially prepared stunt cars today and Thursday, according to stunt coordinator Buddy Joe Hooker.

"We're going to be doing a lot of crashes. So far, we've been just racing around," said Hooker at the speedway Tuesday.

Minutes earlier, he and other drivers made numerous moderately paced circuits around the track as a black SUV equipped with a state-of-the-art, two-eyed 3D camera at the end of a long, articulated boom captured their maneuvers for the movie.

"Final Destination 4" — the next entry in the popular New Line Cinema horror film franchise that began with the initial "Final Destination" film in 2000 — will become the first release in the series to be filmed in 3D. Expected in theaters next year, the film has been shot mostly in the New Orleans area.

The production came to the Mobile area last week to begin filming the speedway accident sequence that drives the plot this time around. Filming will conclude Saturday during the annual Ronald McDonald House race at the speedway, when the 3D cameras will capture footage of real racing fans attending the 3 p.m. event.

Hooker, whose film credits as a stuntman, actor or second unit director date from TV and movie productions in the early 1970s, described one planned shot this week that will send a race car into a high-speed barrel roll.

"At 80 miles an hour, we're going to pop the cannon and go for a ride," he said.

Another dangerous shot will require great care and meticulous attention to safety, he said.

"We're going to have a pipe ramp that will send the car up into the air, and we're going to crash on pit row," Hooker explained.

His enthusiasm for his work was as plain as the smile on his face.

"This is real stunt work," Hooker said, "not stuff done with computers. It's the stuff we like to do."

Craig Perry, a producer on all the "Final Destination" movies so far, said the series has continued because audiences continue to buy movie tickets and DVDs.

"We keep going," Perry said in the Mobile International Speedway infield Tuesday. "We are the Energizer Bunny of horror films. Ask me in about a year when this one is out, and I will tell you then whether there's going to be another one."

The first "Final Destination" delivered a story about a group of teenagers who cheat fate by avoiding a plane crash after one of them has a premonition about their deaths. In that film, the protagonists then find themselves falling victim, one by one, to mysterious freak accidents.

Sequels follow a similar plot formula, with the invisible antagonist Death determined to fell any victim who escapes his or her intended demise.

"Final Destination 2" director David Ellis, who is back at the reins for the current production, said the new movie will center on a young man who saves the lives of several people who were meant to die in a horrific crash at an auto race.

The cast includes Bobby Campo, Shantel Van Santen, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella and Mykelti Williamson.

The players are all newcomers to the series, since all prior protagonists have been killed off.

"What we learned in 'Final Destination 3' was that we can kill everybody and the audience will be happy," Perry quipped.

The producer said none of the principal players joined the crew shooting in Alabama. They finished their scenes in Louisiana, where a section of the speedway grandstands was recreated for filming the main actors. The shots done there will be joined with the Alabama shots to form a cohesive scene at the fictitious McKinley Speedway.

"It's a very complicated shoot, not just because there's a lot of stunts and special effects, but you are literally shooting the same scene in two different states," Perry said.

Ellis, who acknowledged that "Final Destination 2" enjoys an informal ranking as "the fan favorite," said he expects the fourth installment to be well received.

"This is going to be the best one," Ellis enthused. "It will play in 2D theaters as well, and it will be a great experience. But in 3D it will be really special."

© 2008 Press-Register
© 2008 al.com All Rights Reserved.

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NY Times - Filming 'The Road'

Found through Chud:

At World’s End, Honing a Father-Son Dynamic

Published: May 27, 2008

ERIE, Pa. — Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Road,” takes place in a world that, because of some unexplained catastrophe, has just about ended. The sky is gray, the rivers are black, and color is just a memory. The landscape is covered in ash, with soot falling perpetually from the air. The cities are blasted and abandoned. The roads are littered with corpses either charred or melted, their dreams, Mr. McCarthy writes, “ensepulchred within their crozzled hearts.”

For the crew that has just finished filming the movie version of “The Road” — a joint production of 2929 and Bob Weinstein’s Dimension Films, set to open in November — that meant an upending of the usual rules of making a movie on location. Bad weather was good and good weather bad. “A little fog, a little drizzle — those are the good days,” Mark Forker, the movie’s director of special effects, remarked one morning in late April while the crew was shooting some of the final scenes in the book on a stretch of scraggly duneland by the shore of Lake Erie here. “Today is a bad day,” he added, shaking his head and squinting.

The sky was blue, the sun so bright that crew members were smearing on sunscreen. A breeze was carrying away the fog pumping feebly from a smoke machine. Even worse, green grass was sprouting everywhere, and there were buds on the trees. Some of the crew had hand-stripped a little sapling of greenery, but the rest of the job would have to be done electronically by Mr. Forker, who was also in charge of sky replacement.

“The Road” began filming in late February, mostly in and around Pittsburgh, with a later stop in New Orleans and a postproduction visit planned to Mount St. Helens. The producers chose Pennsylvania, one of them, Nick Wechsler, explained, because it’s one of the many states that give tax breaks and rebates to film companies and, not incidentally, because it offered such a pleasing array of post-apocalyptic scenery: deserted coalfields, run-down parts of Pittsburgh, windswept dunes. Chris Kennedy, the production designer, even discovered a burned-down amusement park in Lake Conneaut and an eight-mile stretch of abandoned freeway, complete with tunnel, ideal for filming the scene where the father and son who are the story’s main characters are stalked by a cannibalistic gang traveling by truck.



Mike Scott on FD4

Local 3-D production at leading edge of film trend

Posted by Mike Scott, movie writer, The Times-Picayune May 27, 2008 4:30AM

Built out of stacked metal cargo containers skinned with a veneer of Hollywood magic, the race-track grandstand rising out of the weeds and warehouses of the Almonaster Avenue industrial corridor in the shadow of the Interstate 10 high rise is easily the most striking feature of the eastern New Orleans set of the horror-thriller "Final Destination 4."

It might not be the most significant feature, however.

For that, you'd have to look past the green screen that will permit the digital extension of the grandstand, past the racing cars lined up nearby, and past the dozens of oh-so-expendable extras who -- in "Final Destination" tradition -- are about to see their screen lives snuffed out en masse.

Ask anybody on set -- or anywhere in the movie industry, for that matter -- and they'll tell you the real story here has to do with the cameras -- the 3-D cameras.

Forgetting the insider geekspeak -- the $30 million-plus film marks the first deployment of advanced high-definition PACE cameras employing the latest in Fusion 3-D technology, blah blah blah -- "Final Destination 4" is at the leading edge of a forthcoming flood of big-budget 3-D films set to hit theaters.

It all starts this summer, with the fantasy adventure "Journey to the Center of the Earth," starring Brendan Fraser and based on the Jules Verne novel, and it continues with at least 10 digital 3-D features set for next year, according to a recent tally by The Hollywood Reporter.

And that's just the beginning. Partly in an effort to give audiences, with their multiplex-caliber living rooms, a reason to keep going to movie theaters, Disney/Pixar recently announced that with the release of "Up" next year, all of their animated features will be released in 3-D, including re-releases of "Toy Story" and "Toy Story 2." Animation rival DreamWorks will follow suit. George Lucas is still working on 3-D-ifying the original "Star Wars" trilogy.

Keep in mind, these aren't your father's 3-D flicks. You'll still need special glasses to avoid going cross-eyed, but gone is much of the reliance on gimmickery used in, say, Vincent Price's 1953 horror-thriller "House of Wax," or even in more recent 3-D fare, such as 1983's "Jaws 3-D."

Today's 3-D equipment is several generations removed from those earlier films, which allows for more seamless effects. "Final Desination 4," the first 3-D movie shot primarily on location, producer Craig Perry said, includes not only those snazzy Fusion cameras but also a one-of-a-kind mobile post-production facility capable of instant playback in 3-D.

In addition, "Final Destination" director David R. Ellis said filmmakers' and audiences' sensibilities have changed.

Ellis ("Snakes on a Plane," "Final Destination 2") said the goal with his film, scheduled this week to wrap its 60-day local shoot before going into post-production, is to use the 3-D technology not merely as a means of startling audiences, but more subtly, as a way of creating an immersive environment that draws them into the story.

"Traditionally, directors have been overusing the 3-D element and making a gimmick out of it, so they kind of throw things in your face all the time," he said during a recent break in shooting at the grandstand set, near the Crescent Crown beverage distribution center.

"That's cool for its moments," Ellis said, "but for me it's more about the depth you're giving a 3-D film, where you just feel like you're there. It puts the audience in the environment."

At the same time, though, he and his production team are taking steps to make sure the story -- the heart of any good film -- doesn't become an afterthought, lost in the focus on whiz-bangery.

"We're shooting this like a 2-D movie and concentrating on the story, the performances, the action, great shots, and not expecting the 3-D elements to carry the film," Ellis said. "If it's good in 2-D, it'll be great in 3-D."

It makes good sense to focus on story when, because the exhibition industry lags, most people still are going to be watching a 2-D version of the film, and don't want to be reminded what they are missing from the 3-D version.

The upcoming spate of 3-D movies requires expensive projection equipment that the vast majority of theaters don't yet have. Many people likely won't have the option to see Hollywood's 3-D offerings in anything but 2-D until theater owners shell out big bucks for retrofitting -- and who knows how long that will take? Complicating the matter is the fact that competing 3-D technologies require proprietary projection systems incompatible with one another, creating for theaters the equivalent of the late, great Blu-ray versus HD-DVD dilemma.

Locally, only the IMAX theaters at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and at the Holiday Square Cinema 12 in Covington have 3-D projection capabilities (and then only in the IMAX format), and the aquarium doesn't often show Hollywood films.

New Orleans-area movie buffs often have had to travel to Baton Rouge or beyond to get their 3-D fix.

One way "Final Destination 4" -- which stars Mykelti Williamson ("Forrest Gump," "August Rush") -- is like the earliest 3-D films is that it is a horror flick. And like the other three films in the popular franchise -- all of which were shot in traditional 2-D -- it involves a group of young people who, after narrowly avoiding being killed in a massive accident, find themselves hunted by a horribly inventive Grim Reaper bent on correcting fate.

In addition to shooting at its newly constructed Almonaster grandstand, the "FD4" crew has shot at, among other places, a spit-and-polished New Orleans Shopping Centre next to the Superdome, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina.

By shooting locally, the production was able to save a bundle of cash via the state's tax incentives, but local officials weren't the only ones happy to have "Final Destination 4" come to town. When it came time to assemble a local crew, resumes came flooding in.

"A lot of people took this movie because it was a 3-D movie," Perry said. "They were like, 'I want to be one of the few people in Louisiana who've worked on a 3-D movie.' It is an asset when added to the resume."

That would put them ahead of the curve if Hollywood's rapidly escalating flirtations with 3-D takes root -- though to hear Perry talk about it, there's little question that a peek at the "Final Destination 4" set is a peek into a future in which 3-D films are par for the course.

"If, or I should say when, 3-D takes hold the way I think it will," he said, "people will buy their own 3-D glasses and take them to the movies.

"This is the future right here."

All pics by Jim Sheldon, a very, very good and cool guy:

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Pic of the Pheonix Lander

From the Phoenix Lander Mission site:

A telescopic camera in orbit around Mars caught a view of NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander suspended from its parachute during the lander's successful arrival at Mars Sunday evening, May 25.

The image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter marks the first time ever one spacecraft has photographed another one in the act of landing on Mars.



Regional Filmmakers

It is one of those thinking nights. Thank you Phoenix Lander. I have gone from reading multiple articles on space exploration to thinking about the future of filmmaking.

More and more states are adding tax incentives to get films made in their state. Michigan is just the latest. I have heard one line producer talk about how the more films which get made in a state the more of a well trained local crew they have to come back to.

For me this leads also to more chances for local directors and writers to get their projects made (combined with better equipment at cheaper costs coming out more and more). A local director can get a crew trained by those who work in Hollywood and who are just as good. Suppliers are setting up shop in these states. I see the rise of filmmakers who are making movies inspired by and for the regions in which they live.

I also see this leading to distribution more by going theater to theater rather than festivals and hoping that they crack the studio system. These filmmakers and crews don't want to be there. They don't need to play in that sandbox because they have their own. Distribution will also take place online through direct DVD sales or downods through various services.

I can also see this regionalism leading to a revitalism of older theaters by co-ops or individual investors and playing these regional films as well as films from other regions or other countries.

I don't see this as some hippie filmmakers' nirvana. Not all these films will be good. Quite a few will be crap. I just see this as the new model. More connectivity means people from all over can see these films, but people also are becoming more tribal or sectarian, even when it comes to their region.

Who knows what it means for L.A.? I think "Hollywood" is in for a crash in the next 10 years. I think theaters will convert to show Digital/HD/3D, and this will last for a few years until they realize people aren't coming and the megaplexes will crash. TV will keep going for awhile, but really it will stat to go more and more to the cable/foreign model of shorter seasons with all episodes run together which in turn lends itself to indie television creators as well.

Some reading:

Studios didn't build their sales models for you

Indie films coming to a small screen near you

The Next Five Years: Describe It - Whitechapel

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Exploring Asteroids - Air & Space Magazine

The Million Mile Mission

A small band of believers urges NASA to take its next step—onto an asteroid.

By Michael Klesius
Air & Space Magazine, July 01, 2008

It was another brilliantly sunny day for NASA astronaut Tom Jones. In orbit on his fourth space shuttle mission in February 2001, Jones was outside the International Space Station, installing a new laboratory module. He remembers the moment with great clarity: Gerhard Thiele, another astronaut, called from the ground to relay the news that the robotic NEAR Shoemaker probe had just made the first-ever landing on an asteroid, 433 Eros.

“There I was, turning bolts on the ISS,” says Jones. “I was thinking: What a cool job this is. But how much cooler would it be if I were doing this on an asteroid!”

The idea that astronauts might visit an asteroid and explore it up close had long intrigued him. Today, Jones is more convinced than ever that it would be a grand and worthwhile journey. “The asteroids,” he says, “are begging for a visit.”

By “the asteroids” he doesn’t mean one of the rocks circling out in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, but something a lot closer to home: An Earth-crosser, or NEO (near-Earth object). A rogue.

Jones is part of an unofficial group of NASA actives and alums who have been studying, mostly on their own time, the particulars—engineering requirements, mission trajectories, scientific payoffs, and costs—of a human trip to an asteroid. Like the Mars Underground, a larger group of enthusiasts who for the past 20-plus years have been pushing for a voyage to Mars, the asteroid agitators are trying to build support for a mission. The two groups are far from mutually exclusive: Plenty of Mars Undergrounders share the desire to see Constellation, NASA’s human exploration program, send astronauts rock-hopping first.


The Dread Planet (Life on Mars?) - Boston Globe

Found through 3QuarksDaily:

The dread planet

Why finding fossils on Mars would be extremely bad news for humanity

By Nick Bostrom
May 25, 2008

THE IDEA OF life on Mars has been with us for nearly 300 years, ever since early astronomers saw what they believed to be polar icecaps through their primitive telescopes. If NASA's Phoenix lander successfully touches down on Mars this afternoon, it will become part of a long experiment to determine whether the planet was ever habitable, and whether it contains any traces of life, extinct or still active.
more stories like this

Discovering traces of life on Mars would be of tremendous scientific significance: The first time that any signs of extraterrestrial life had ever been detected. Many people would also find it heartening to learn that we're not entirely alone in this vast, cold cosmos.

They shouldn't. If they were wise, they'd hope that our probes discover nothing. It would be great news to find that Mars is a completely sterile planet.

On the other hand, if we discovered traces of some simple extinct life form - a bacterium, some algae - it would be bad news. If we found fossils of something even more advanced, like a trilobite or even the skeleton of a small mammal, it would be horrible news. The more complex the life we found, the more depressing. Scientifically interesting, yes, but dire news for the future of the human race.

Why? To understand the real meaning of such a discovery is to realize just what it means that the universe has been so silent for so long - why we have been listening for other civilizations for decades and yet have heard nothing.



Phoenix Mars Mission - First Fotos


Phoenix Mars Mission

Watching the coverage right now on the Science Channel.

Official Mission site.

I have to say I am scared because the landing seems overly complicated. I like the simple landing of the rovers, basically a big ball.

There is also live feed online from Mission Control.

I wanted Sean Patrick to sit here in my lap and watch this, but alas he is sick with a fever today.

On pins and needles wanting this to succeed.



When We Left Earth

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GeekDad - The New Space Generation

Small, but very good interview from GeekDad:

Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides sees the future of space in the eyes of students. Not as the "coveted 18-24 demographic", but as leaders of the new space industry. To her, space-interested science and engineering students in high school and college right now are "one in a million," and she wants them to train to be the next Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride, Burt Rutan, or Elon Musk.

She should know. As an astrobiologist, Virgin Galactic advisor, Wired blogger, and Zero G flight director, she's seen her share of the Right Stuff. She's followed James Cameron to the bottom of the ocean and led 70,000 people to a party at NASA. Space is personal for her, too: she and her husband, National Space Society director George T. Whitesides, will honeymoon on one of the first Virgin Galactic suborbital flights. Recently she agreed to answer a few Geekdad questions. Read the full interview after the jump.

Geekdad: What is the Space Generation? Who are they?

Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides: Space Generation is a network of young space professionals around the planet. They are passionate about building community, training and developing themselves, sharing their passion for space with the public and using space to make a difference here on our favorite planet: Earth.


Geotimes - Destination Moon

Found through 3QuarksDaily:

Destination Moon
Carolyn Gramling

“As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come … I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record — that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”

On Dec. 17, 1972, Eugene A. Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17, said these words as he took a last look around at the stark moonscape of the Taurus-Littrow Valley on the southeastern rim of the moon’s Mare Serenitatis crater. Then, he and Harrison Schmitt, the lunar module’s pilot and the only geologist-astronaut to walk on the moon, stepped back into the lunar module one last time to return to Earth.

Due to NASA’s shrinking budget and to make room for the space shuttle program, Apollo 17 was the last of NASA’s pioneering manned missions to the moon. But even then, no one imagined that it would be more than three decades before humans returned.

Later this year, however, NASA plans to launch its first new missions to the moon in more than 35 years. The goal: To scope out likely spots to land and create a habitat where astronauts can stay for longer than the Apollo program ever dreamed.

But therein lies the controversy: Mars, with its potential stores of oxygen and water, has the highest potential for long-term human habitation. The moon, even in NASA’s manned spaceflight plans, isn’t supposed to be the primary destination for humans’ return to space. Some scientists are asking why we are working so hard to return to a place where we’ve already set foot.

NASA’s plans suggest that the lunar habitat is, to some extent, meant to be a kind of stepping stone, a field laboratory where scientists can test out new technologies, investigate how to mine the surface and figure out how to keep humans alive in the harsh lunar environment. It’s a classroom and staging ground before taking the much bigger and more dangerous leap to Mars.

Meanwhile, the moon is no longer the finish line in a race between two superpowers; instead, other nations are joining in. In addition to the U.S. and Russia, China, Japan, India and other nations have announced plans or have already launched missions of their own to assess and stake a claim in the new era of the space race.



Benjamin Button Website


Something to use as research for Corruption.

Found through 3QuarksDaily:

During our vacation a week ago, my daughter and I stopped by at the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice. The organization is an advocacy group for workers involved in the reconstruction of New Orleans after the devastation of Katrina. The vast rebuilding effort led the US government to permit recruitment of foreign laborers who were accorded "guest worker" status for the duration of their employment but apparently not the same rights and protection that domestic workers are guaranteed under US labor laws. Lacking safeguards, the foreign workers are ripe targets for exploitation and abuse by contractors.

The Louisiana guest workers group includes citizens of several countries. Among them are a few hundred welders and pipe-fitters from India who were recruited by Signal International, a Marine & Fabrication Company, apparently with the lure of lucrative jobs and immigrant visas. The promise proved to be false and the Indian workers have done the unthinkable - they have launched a strike on foreign soil, demanding justice from the host nation and advocacy from their own embassy spokespersons.


Photo Essay On NASA'S Mar's Mission

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Spanish Trailer


Bad Signal:Night Noises - Warren Ellis

From Warren Ellis' Bad Signal:

bad signal

* It occurs to me that, should you imagine a black-and-white
comic book without ever having seen one, you would not
imagine it having a colour cover.

* Hauntology on paper: at the ends of long corridors,
black-and-white illustrations from pulps and penny dreadfuls,
distorted by age and photocopier to emulate crackle in
audio. Ghost stories haunted by the ghosts of old ghost
stories, 21st Century London haunted by woodcuts of
19th Century London reflected in windows and puddles.

* I'm sorry, small beady-eyed insipid man with a baby
hard-on for Marxist theory, but I'm pretty sure that when
Burial recorded "Raver" he wasn't conducting a critique
of modern capitalism. Not everything is a market. To
attempt to capture the ghost of a scene is not an
expression of the chains of the dominant ideology,
and neither are field recordings of London at 3am. Also,
you have the voice of a eunuch meerkat, the physical
presence of a sparrow fart at dawn, and you have
cunts for eyes.

* The creative commons is all around us. Any creative mind
reaches a point where it realises that its work is part of an
ongoing cultural conversation.

* We are all the product of -- at the head of the notional
genestream of -- generations upon generations of culture.
We all take from what's around us to make our art. We
engage in the conversation. Raise our voices. And we
identify our voice with a copyright mark. That isn't some
hideous, stultifying lock on the culture. The commons
*is* the cultural conversation. You want to join in? Get
up on your hind legs and do it. Get your own copyright
mark. So the next person along knows that they have
to speak for themselves and identify their voice, rather
than using your words and pretending it's them.

* If the fact that Mickey Mouse will be under copyright
control for the next thousand years really bugs you?
Kill yourself. You're no use to me or anyone else.
It's fun when things drop out of copyright, sure. But
it's not *important* to the process of creation. I could
easily cause to be created illustrations in the styles of
penny dreadfuls and woodcuts to achieve the same
hauntological effects. It's just a way to instantiate
an idea. I'm not going to roll on the floor and curse
Western society for a cultural jailer because it turns
out someone still has the rights to the illustration for
an old MR James story or something. The world is
not broken because you can't make your own Mickey
Mouse cartoons (and frankly, if you could, YouTube
would already be broken under the weight of LOLMickeys
and Mickey Mouse Buttsecks and WineMickeyMouse

* If you really need some legal language to help yourself
feel good about the state of being a 15 year old in an art
class making a collage out of newspaper clippings... well,
great. That was great fun when we were 15, right? But
listen. The mark of being an adult is to internalise our
influences and express them through our own personalities
and filters. The last thing our culture needs is a licence
to be 15 forever.

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Urban Exploration

30 sites for urban exploration.

There's a story in all this. Something beyond what David Morrell wrote. Something which will allow me to indulge in my archeology and adventure jones but with a modern slant.


Towel Day is May 25th


Bourre (Boo Ray)

How to play:

This gambling game is popular in Louisiana, USA. Although it is a trick-taking game unrelated to Poker, it has become known to Poker players in North Anerica as an alternative choice in home Poker games. The game is of French origin. It is a descendant of Bourre, a three-card game which was popular in southwest France in the early 20th century, which was probably descended in turn from the Spanish game Burro ("donkey"). In the French game a player who plays and takes no tricks is said to be "bourré", and it is this term that gives its name to the Louisiana game Bourré, which is sometimes spelled with just one 'r': (bouré). Sometimes this is altered to "bourre" or "boure" by American writers unfamiliar with French accents, and often it is written "booray" or "boo-ray" which in American spelling approximates the French pronunciation of bourré.



New York Times Piece - Graphic Novels

Playlist 5.5.08

Some music and some dark night trailers:



David Ellis - Hornets Fan

Guess this is what passes for "film/movie journalism" here. Oh well, at leats they mentioned the film business in New Orleans:

From the Times-Picayune:

Director Ellis develops rooting interest in N.O.

Sure-fire sign that New Orleans has its hooks in you: You're from Los Angeles, but you root for the Hornets.

That's the case for "Snakes on a Plane" director David R. Ellis, who is in town shooting the horror-thriller "Final Destination 4: 3-D" with actor Mykelti Williamson ("Forrest Gump," "August Rush").

"I went to my first game, and the energy that was in the stands was so infectious that all of a sudden I started buying tickets for every game," Ellis said last week during a break in shooting. "I was going to all the last regular-season games -- and now I've been to the first playoff games here -- but I come to work and I'm hoarse for like two days. I can't even talk!"

Ellis has taken to bringing his co-workers to games -- Hornets fans might remember seeing Williamson on the arena's big screen recently -- but the real measure of his fanhood came when the Hornets hosted Western Conference rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in mid-March. Ellis and his daughter -- movie producer and Kobe Bryant fan Tawny Ellis -- found themselves forced to make a big decision.

"We were going to the game," David Ellis said, "and I'm like, 'OK, who are we rooting for?' And she goes, 'Dad, we've got to root for the Hornets' " -- which is exactly what they did.

He's going to have to make another tough decision this weekend, though. Pal Quint Davis hooked him up with tickets to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival presented by Shell, and he's already made plans to get his margarita on when Jimmy Buffet takes the Acura stage. That's at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday -- the same day, it turns out, the Hornets will open the second round of the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs.

And from Gambit:

People Who Love the Hornets: Early 90s Movie Star Edition

by Alejandro de los Rios

(NOTE: I mean to put this up earlier but, well, I didn’t. Here it is now.)

OK, so this post’s title really only applies to one of the people in this photo (the man in the black fleece jacket). Can you guess who it is?

I’ll give you a hint: think shrimp. You know? The fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

Give up? Well the man with the bemused look on his face is none other than Mykelti Williamson a.k.a. Pvt. Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue of “Forrest Gump” fame. Seeing as how it’s not every day you get to talk to one of the iconic figures of 1990’s cinema, I chatted up Williamson about the Hornets and his current project.

Williamson is down in New Orleans filming “Final Destination 4,” turns out they actually wrapped early so that he and other cast and crew members could make it to the game. One of the other cast members include the blurry-faced chap sitting next to Williamson in the picture. His name is Bobby Campo and is the film’s lead, but was not identified on the jumbotron. I asked Campo what is was like to not be the most famous person in a movie he’s starring in.

“This is a lot more fun,” he said. “He gets bothered all the time while I just sit back and relax.”

Both Williamson and Campo raved about the Hornets, whether or not it was authentic or if they were hyping up the hometown team to a hometown reporter is hard to tell. It was clear though that they were genuinely having a good time. Both Williamson and Campo are from the south (the former from St. Louis, Mo. and the latter from Tampa, Fla.) and both said being down here was like coming up.

I, for one, thought that Williamson was from the Gulf Coast or a southern bayou. That’s either a testament to his acting ability in “Forrest Gump” or to my idiocy (probably a little of both). I did ask, though, if he likes the cuisine over at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

“I’ve never been,” he said. “They owe me money.”

I was a bit confused, forgetting that the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. actually had no affiliation with the movie.

“I’m not going there until they pay me,” Williamson said again. That left me wondering if the rest of the people associated with Forrest Gump hold a similar stance.

With the playoffs starting tomorrow, expect a lot of celebrities to be in attendance as there are somewhere between eight and twelve movies in production right now in the Big Easy. David Ellis, the director of “Final Destination 4″ said that all of the incentives that the city of New Orleans and the film commission are giving companies is making the decision easy for people to come. Ellis told the producers of “Final Destination 4″ that he specifically wanted to shoot in New Orleans.

“I’m bringing my next film here,” he said. “I thought this was a great place to put our money. We’re investing in the city and in the recovery.”

To wit, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of jobs made available through all the movies that decided to film down here. In a way, it’s almost like the NBA All-Star game coming down to the city. They both keep New Orleans in the public eye and stimulate the economy.

So long as it means more pseudo-celebrities from my childhood showing up to Hornets games and talking to me, I say keep ‘em coming.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 18th, 2008 at 2:21 pm and is filed under Sports.


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