Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Avatar and Star Trek up Oscar buzz in the air - producer's guild

The Producers Guild of America announced its ten nominees for the Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award and three of them, Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek have the Sci-Fi World buzzing in the hope that a film representing that genre will earn a Best Picture Academy Award.

The Producers Guild award takes on a special significance this year for two reasons: first because its an important (not perfect) "precursor" in predicting which film will get the coveted Best Picture Oscar, and second, because there will be ten nominees competing for the prize this year.

Here's the overall list from the Producers Guild of America's website:

Darryl F. Zanuck Producer of the Year Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures:

Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Producers: Carolynne Cunningham, Peter Jackson
Producers: Finola Dwyer, Amanda Posey
Producer(s): Awaiting final credit determination.
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Producers: Clint Eastwood, Rob Lorenz, Lori McCreary , Mace Neufeld
Producers: Lee Daniels, Gary Magness, Sarah Siegel-Magness
Producers: J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Producer: Jonas Rivera
Producer(s): Awaiting final credit determination.
Will Star Trek and District 9 cause Avatar's elimination from a win?  Avatar's a beautiful movie but Star Trek and District 9 have tight story lines. Star Trek, of course, has a multi-generational legion of fans.  

Stay Tuned.  

Casey Johnson's death like Brittany Murphy's appears linked to diabetes

Johnson and Johnson Heiress Casey Johnson, who was in the news for a reported engagement to reality TV show star Tila Tequila, died tragically at the age of 30, Monday.

According to CNN, Johnson's passing was first reported on Tequila's Twitter page, then confirmed by police. As of this writing there's no official cause of death, but like that of Actress Brittany Murphy, Casey Johnson's problems appear to have been related to a battle with diabetes and according to TMZ, not suicide or fowl play as of this writing.

Casey Johnson has a history of diabetes which she allegedly did not handle well. Fox411.com reports, "Casey had very severe diabetes and was not taking care of herself properly. With her condition she should have been closely monitoring her health, taking insulin, monitoring blood sugar levels, and she wasn't."

After Brittany Murphy passed away on the Sunday just before Christmas, it was revealed that she too was fighting a battle with diabetes.

Stay tuned.

President Obama's Hyde Park, Chicago house and neighborhood

While President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were enjoying their "vacation" house in Hawaii over the holidays, I was in Chicago with my Mom and her friend, who's daughter and husband are friends of the First Couple and live not far from the Obama's other home in Hyde Park, Chicago.

Chicago is my hometown, so the area around Greenwood and Hyde Park, where the Obama's home is located is familiar territory for me. Because of that, it was heart-warming for me to walk the grounds near their home because there's is such the American success story.

To be acquainted with someone who becomes President of The United States and to know people who really know that person and for everyone to be either alive and in essentially the same generation or forward of it, is just plain exciting and affirming of a life path - in this case, mine. I had to capture the moment in my video blog.

What's weird about the neighborhood is what's necessary: the security. There are barricades, government cars, and the overall feeling of constantly being watched. Overall, massively cool; that's the way it should be.

In another weird way that feeling of a presence lends itself to Hyde Park's newfound uber-coolness. I know Hyde Park, but not this Hyde Park. It's buzzing with people, stores, shops, and eateries. Real estate prices have increased to reflect the demand to live in the area, even in the lousy economy and all because of Barack Obama's assent to most powerful person in the World.


Google Nexus One Phone draws a lot of reviews

Google's Nexus One Phone is officially out and thankfully it's not exclusively on the iPhone-user-hated AT&T Network (cheers!).   It's already drawing a lot of reviews, some comparing it to the iPhone, others to Droid, or just by itself.

The Nexus One Phone's on the T-Mobile Network, and the best news is that existing T-Mobile customers like me are eligible for an upgrade to what I will now call "The G-phone". Verizon mobile users will have to wait until spring of this year for service activation.

There are a slew of reviews of the videoblogger-ready Google Phone by everyone except Iron Man 2's Robert Downey, Jr, as "Tony Stark".

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington explains that he's (like Fred Wilson) had a G-Phone since mid-December and has used it as his primary mobile phone. That's quite a switch for Arrington, who could be seen using an iPhone as his primary mobile device for some time before the introduction of the G-Phone.

Arrington says that while the G-Phone looks like the iPhone, it's better "in most ways" and is the fastest and "most elegant smartphone" available to date. Michael's main reason is the Google Voice provision in the G-Phone. With it, Google Voice users can use their number and use it to make outbound calls and messages. And the phone comes with something called Google Voice Keyboard.

Google Voice Keyboard is such that according to Michael Arrington, you can talk into the phone and it converts your speech to text. He says it's "90 percent accurate".

Engadget is less excited about the G-Phone, stating "it's not in any way the Earth-shattering, paradigm-skewing device the media and community cheerleaders have built it up to be" and in some cases prefers Droid over it. Yikes. But in reading Engadget's review, it seems as if authors Joshua Topolsky and Chris Ziegler were so, well, nit-picky, that they left themselves without a way to escape with anything other than a somewhat negative assessment.

The New York Times' David Pogue, channeling Engadget, writes that "the Google news this week is not quite as earth-shaking as Google seems to think it is".


Sometimes this is done as a way to achieve what the writer feels is a certain element of "cool" but the approach has grown tired of late. It's OK to be genuinely excited, guys.

A lot of video about the Google Nexus Phone

The Google Nexus Phone is already the subject of a slew of videos, some of which are below:

Official Google Video:


Even kids get into the act:

Stay tuned!

Rory Markas dies but lives on in movie, The Yankles

The main play-by-play man for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and a broadcaster for USC Basketball, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Los Angeles Clippers and Pacific Coast League baseball , Rory Markas, passed away this week, but he's immortalized in a new movie called The Yankles.

The Yankles is about Charlie Jones, a washed up, ex-major league baseball player, and an Orthodox Jewish academy who lets him start a new baseball team.

According to ESPN, Rory Markas died suddenly Monday, the cause of his passing not known as of this writing. He was just 54 years old. Markas is survived by his mother, Billie, and brothers Gary and Troy Markas.

Markas graciously provided his vocal talents for The Yankles when its producers wanted a big-name play-by-play announcer. According to the LA Times, film producers Zev and David Brooks sent an email to Markas asking if he would help them in such a role; he responded and was more than helpful. Markas' voice is the first one and the last one in the movie.

tpempir at YouTube made this moving video tribute to Rory Markas:

Chicago plane crash at Chicago Executive Airport

A LearJet cargo plane has crashed near Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, Illinois, outside of Chicago, and just north of O'Hare International Airport. According to the Chicago Tribune, both the pilot and co-pilot were killed, but their names have not been released as of this writing.

The aircraft was reportedly making an approach to a runway at 1:30 CST when it crashed near Euclid Avenue and fell into a forest preserve surrounding the Des Plaines River just south of the airport. Airport spokesperson Laura Witlox said the plane belonged to Royal Air.

If that is the case Royal Air Freight, based out of Waterford, Michigan runs a fleet of small planes for cargo-only use, including six LearJets.

According to CNN the flight was on its way to Atlanta, from Pontiac, Michigan with a stop in Chicago.

Stay tuned.

Google Nexus One phone to be released; better than iPhone?

Google's much anticipated Nexus One phone "iPhone killer" is to be released today, which happens to be the week of CES 2010. (In fact, TechCrunch's MGSigler is already rocking out at the "Android Press Gathering" as I write this. And oh, does TechCrunch answer emails anymore?)

But the phone is already out and used by a select few in the public. Just ask Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist who received his Nexus One phone last December as a Christmas gift. Wilson took to his blog Musings of a VC in NYC to brag about his good fortune and share the advantages of having a Google Phone:

In mid December as holiday gifts and cards were arriving daily in our office, I received a gift from Google. It was a Nexus One. I have been using it since that day as my primary phone. In the box was a note from Google asking me to keep quiet about the phone until Jan 5th. Well today is Jan 5th and so I can tell you what I think. So here goes

This is not going to be a hard core review of the phone. Engadget has one of those up this morning. Thus is about how I use it and why I'll most likely stick with this phone for a while longer.

Then Wilson explains the advantages and disadvantages of the Google Nexus One Phone. He praises its effortless connection to available wifi transmissions and observes that you can run multiple apps in it, which isn't true for the current iPhone. However Wilson then lists the Google Phone's disadvantages to the iPhone, namely the onscreen keyboard which he writes is "good but not as good as the iPhone" and notes the lack of an iPhone-like "multitouch" feature.

Beyond that, he praises the phone for being able to remember passwords and how well Google apps run on it.

Stay tuned.