This past week The Wife and I journeyed into the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Beverly Hills. There’s a place called The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. It used to be a post office, apparently. It’s been converted into this place with several theaters.
We were at the main one. Up on the balcony, among our tribe. The event was FiLM iDEPENDENT Presents At The Wallis An Evening With… Sir Patrick Stewart (Moderated by Johnathan Frakes.) The Wife was able to get tickets for the event, and I admit, I was indifferent at the time. Watching two actors talk about acting rarely seems like a good use of my time.
Fortunately, I was wrong about this. It was a blast. Much because the universe they re-vitalized was a huge component of who I am and what I have become. Throughout the not-quite one-hour of time they spent on stage, the most obvious thing that came through was that they were truly good friends. They knew each other intimately and could finish each other’s stories.
A few things that still resonate with me from the evening:
- Johnny. Who would ever think to call Jonathan Frakes Johnny? Besides Sir Patrick.
- There was this bit where Frakes talks about one of those shots where the actors pretend to be knocked around as the ship is attacked. Frakes doing a perfect Stewart voice, says that Sir Patrick leans over to him and says, “Twenty-five years in the Royal Shakespeare Theater Company for this?”
- Apparently, one of the producers of TNG was in the audience, and Sir Patrick was riffing about one of the flute props from the episode The Inner Light that he still has. Stewart then went on about he wanted to “liberate” one of his uniforms but didn’t. Frakes mentions how much of the rest of the cast stole uniforms. Then he mentioned that there was a major memorabilia theft. It drew the FBI in, and they recovered not only the props but one of the KITTs from Knight Rider?!?! It was vague, but it sounded like there was an exchange in the desert, and everything was recovered. So weird.
- My favorite was this bit about David Lynch casting Stewart in Dune when he met him at a play. Stewart was in full costume and make-up, which led to some uncomfortable moments on the set of Dune.
- There was this part where they talked about Stewart’s fourth marriage and how Sir Ian McKellan presided over the ceremony. There was a lot of mirth at the wedding, particularly about Stewart and McKellan’s close friendship and how the other guests wondered who actually was getting married–Stewart and his wife or Stewart and McKellan.
I’m glad we got three seasons of Picard. It feels like a great way to say goodbye to all those characters.
There was a flurry of news about CineEurope and Lionsgate’s presentation for the new Hunger Games movie, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
I have a lot of love for that franchise. I released three of the first four films. For Catching Fire, it was a first for me. I had never had the chance to release the fifth highest-grossing film (US Box Office/World Wide Box Office) of a year in my career before that. Haven’t since then, either.
Lionsgate hasn’t had a great past couple of years. Some of that was self-inflicted, but I’ve given a lot of my career to that company, and I hope they can right the ship.
A horror movie franchise based on Ireland’s most famous creature from folklore is to get a Hollywood reboot.
Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group has said it plans to shoot a new Leprachaun movie, with a “new vision” for the low-budget franchise that saw seven films in the series released between 1993 and 2018.
Harry Potter and Star Wars star Warwick Davis played the role of the killer leprechaun in five of the original films, but it is unknown if he will return for the reboot, which will be directed by Felipe Vargas and based on a script by Mike Van Waes.
This franchise has a dual meaning for me. Obviously, one of the reasons is about my time at Lionsgate. There was a funny story I’ll tell one day about Leprechaun in the Hood. Probably after Lionsgate becomes part of some other large corporation. My other connection was writing a comic book mini-series for my friends at Tidal Wave Comics.
Pro-tip to all you aspiring comic book writers: Always ask to proof the lettering because sometimes fonts don’t translate properly, as an example with this comic series. I took some liberties when I delved into the back story. Honestly, the property was pretty silly, and I tried to make some sense of things. One thing I did was give him a name. In the comic, it appeared as LUBDAN. But, my script had it as IUBDAN (pronounced Yub-dan.) Microsoft had some issues with that “I.” Well, it was really the letterer.
It turns out I might have screwed up because Mark Jones, the writer of the first movie, had already come up with a name for him in this great collection of facts:
Jones said that the Leprechaun’s name is Basil, not Lubdan Buttowski. He blames the comic book series for the mix-up and doesn’t understand why they didn’t speak with him first. Also, he said that a circus wagon would’ve revealed the Leprechaun’s name in a previously planned, unfilmed scene.
I didn’t put Buttowski in there. I have no idea where that came from. I would have happily worked with him had I known he was concerned. Also, I take some offense at a thing that never actually appeared in the film. Not that I’m looking to start a web fight with the guy.
Dave Tripet, the executive in charge of production for the first three movies, revealed that Leprechaun 4: In Space was originally a spoof of Apollo 13 (1995). Trimark commissioned an artist to replace Tom Hank’s face on the Apollo 13 poster with the Leprechauns, and they immediately started on the script.
There was additional sad news recently that connected to my career. Word came down earlier this week that actor Treat Willaims passed away after a motorcycle accident in Vermont.
In my early days in the studios, I began my time at LIVE Entertainment (then Artisan, and finally Lionsgate.) I was in the physical production department, and this was one of the films we produced. I can’t say that this was a great movie. I know because I logged ALL of the dailies. Like, all of the dailies. There were easily two dozen films I did this for. I was probably one of maybe four or five people who saw all of the footage shot for those films. It’s not easy to differentiate between multiple takes of a shot. But, you know, it was the beginning of my career. There were some memorable films I did that for, and some not.
The Substitute 2 was fairly forgettable, except for maybe the scenes with the yo-yos. Still, seeing him pass reminded me of how my history with Hollywood is wearing down over the years.