Monday, April 20, 2009

New Dan Brown book coming in September

Dan Brown is a great popcorn novelist. I've read three of his four books, and found that the structure and twists of each are reliably unpredictable, if that makes any sense. I wish I knew how to craft a page-turner as well as he does. Today comes news that Brown has apparently finished his next novel, which will be published in September. The novel will feature The DaVinci Code's Robert Langdon character (played by Tom Hanks in the film and in the upcoming Angels & Demons), although it is unclear where the mystery will be set (at one point it was rumored to revolve around U.S. history and/or the Masons). The new book will be called The Lost Symbol (a rather dull and ambiguous title if you asked me).

Update: Columbia Pictures has apparently already begun preliminary work on a film adaptation of The Lost Symbol, weeks before they know if Angels & Demons will be as lucrative to the studio as was The DaVinci Code.

I don't comment about books as often as I should, but I've been in a bit of a reading rut lately. I have at least four abandoned books sitting on my nightstand, just waiting to be finished (including Corman McCarthy's The Road and John Grisham's The Appeal). Last week Wendy and I decided that we'd reserve Tuesdays as a TV-free zone, and I actually got into a new book called The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. It has been whimsical and creepy so far; I hope it doesn't end up in the wasteland that is my nightstand anytime soon...

If The Graveyard Book doesn't do it, what book would you recommend to break me of this literary drought?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Final "Harry Potter 6" trailer

I know I've posted a bunch of these, but this appears to be the official final theatrical trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I'm curious to know how this movie got away with a PG rating, considering all the dark stuff covered in the book. Everything I've seen so far looks fantastic, so I'm really hoping the movie will capture the creepy/emotional tone of the book's final third.

It was announced a few days ago that HP6 will be released in theaters on July 15, two days earlier than its previous release date. By my calendar, that's less than three months away!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"24" heads to NYC next year

It's been a great year, overall, for 24. Even last night's return of Kim Bauer didn't ruin the season for me (although the twist at the end of the episode makes absolutely no sense). We've still got six hours left in the current season, but details are already emerging about Jack Bauer's next horrific day. According to, 24 is headed to NYC. I think it makes perfect sense, since the show has found a renewed energy this year in large part to its new location in Washington D.C. (all previous seasons had been set in Los Angeles). To have a series of potential terrorist attacks take place in NYC is a no-brainer. The article also reports that Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) will be back as Chloe (yeah!).

So if Jack will live to see an 8th terrible day, I guess this means the "experimental procedure" worked...

Monday, April 13, 2009

"New Moon" casting news; "Friday Night Lights"

Although I sincerely doubt that anything could make me want to watch the Twilight sequel, New Moon, I am curious about some of the casting that has recently been announced. I previously reported that Dakota Fanning had been cast as Jane, but now comes news that acclaimed British actor Michael Sheen (Tony Blair from The Queen, David Frost from Frost/Nixon) has been cast as Aro. Either there is some unseen substance to this teeny-boppy vampire saga, or these actors are looking for a paycheck. In any case, their casting elevates the sequel ever-so-slightly above the original. Let's hope producers get a larger visual effects budget this time around.

Now for the bait & switch: I'd like change the subject to declare that I'm a bit of a closet fan of NBC's critically-acclaimed Friday Night Lights. I bought the first season DVDs when I found them in a bargain bin a year or so ago, and recall watching them during late-night Lily feedings when she was first born. While the show isn't always as squeaky clean as I would like, I am blown away by the first-rate acting and thematic depth from a show that I once blew off as a cheesy teen soap.

I realize it's a tough show to market, but NBC's marketing has completely mischaracterized Friday Night Lights. If I had to categorize the type of show it is, I'd say it's 20% sports drama, 10% high-school soap, 50% family drama, and 20% small-town drama. As funny as it sounds, it often reminds me of a modern-day Little House on the Prairie with a better-looking cast (with the caviat that it is grittier than Little House, but then what isn't?) That may be the oddest selling point I've ever made for a show I'm recommending, but I tell you, FNL gives me the chills almost every week.

FNL ended its stellar third season last Friday. I won't give anything away, in case any of you actually starts watching the show as a result of my recommendation. But let's just say that the show does a masterful job of respectfully sending off some of its beloved characters while setting up some interesting conflicts for the remaining cast. It's such an authentic, easy-going show that it's hard to believe the Dillon Panthers are an imaginary team, and that Coach Taylor and his family are fictional. It's really just great TV.

The best news here is that NBC and DirectTV have worked out a deal to continue their unprecedented partnership that funds the low-rated show for an additional two seasons. So while we get a more abbreviated season (13-episodes) than we're accustomed to from network dramas, at least we're getting more of this terrific show. I own the first two seasons, so if you'd like to RedBox them from me, just let me know; it would be great to have someone to talk about it with when the show returns next season.

I think I can authoritatively say that even Edward Cullen himself would be a fan of Friday Night Lights.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lost "Pushing Daisies," "Eli Stone" episodes get airdate

Although ABC has canceled the low-rated (but beloved) shows Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone, the network will air the remaining new episodes of those shows on Saturday nights starting in the summer. Pushing Daisies returns on May 30 for three weeks, followed by Eli Stone on June 20 for three weeks.

By the way, Pushing Daisies' complete second season (all 13 episodes) will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 21. I bought the first season a few weeks ago, and it looks fantastic on Blu-ray. May it rest in peace.