From MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20439282/site/newsweek/
NYC to Pay Poor Parents to Help Their Kids
Sept. 3, 2007 issue - Paying kids for good grades is a popular (if questionable) parenting tactic. But when school starts next week, New York City will try to use the same enticement to get parents in low-income neighborhoods more involved in their children's education and overall health. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has raised more than $40 million (much of it from his own money and the Rockefeller Foundation) to pay families a modest amount for small tasks—$50 for getting a library card or $100 to take a child to the dentist—that could make a big difference.
The experimental program, called Opportunity NYC, is modeled on a 10-year-old Mexican program called Oportunidades, which has been so successful in reducing poverty in rural areas that it has been adopted by more than 20 countries, including Argentina and Turkey. International studies have found that these programs raise school enrollment and vaccination rates and lower the number of sick days students take. Bringing this idea to Harlem and the South Bronx may not make a radical difference, concedes Linda Gibbs, the deputy mayor for Health and Human Services. But, she adds, "It makes these activities matter in a new way." Gibbs thinks that the money could also make parents more active in asking for services that might not exist in their neighborhoods. "A mother might demand an early-intervention evaluation [to look for developmental or learning disabilities] for a child" to get the $150 payment, Gibbs says. "If she can't find a doctor to do it, the cash incentive might make Mom more likely to ask why those services aren't available in her community." Schools chancellor Joel Klein says he hopes that the money will "get our students more interested in performing well at school, and the positive reinforcement they receive as well will, in turn, get them excited about the learning."
The idea behind Opportunity NYC is called conditional cash transfer, and the program is the first of its kind in this country. It's also the exact opposite of traditional social services for the poor, which hand out money without demanding much in return. In order to find out whether this reversal works, the city is enlisting 5,000 families to take part in the social experiment. They are being chosen randomly from lists of people getting housing assistance from the city. Half will receive the incentive money and the other half won't but will function as a control group, similar to clinical trials where some patients get a drug and others get a placebo. Eligible families earn just above federal poverty guidelines, or about $22,321 for a family of three.
Since the initial announcement in March, conservatives have denounced the program as a waste of money that should be given to teachers willing to work in tough schools, while liberals have called the idea insulting and patronizing to the people it aims to help. But some skeptics are hopeful. "At first blush, this offends every sensibility I have," says James Oddo, the Republican minority leader of the New York City Council. "But then the fiscal conservative in me takes over and I think maybe it will cost me less as a taxpayer to pay a little on the front end."
At this point, taxpayers aren't being asked to pay anything. Bloomberg decided to roll out Opportunity NYC with private funds in order to evaluate the program for two years without having to endure what could have been a bruising political battle. One potential foe, Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, says she generally opposes any pay for good behavior, even giving teachers more money if their students do well.
But if it can help families who live in the city's poorest neighborhoods, it may be a risk worth taking. Some of the Opportunity NYC participants will come from East New York, a predominantly black and Hispanic corner of Brooklyn where half of the residents live below the poverty level and only half of all adults are high-school graduates. The local high school was shut down in June after years of abysmal academic performance and a graduation rate hovering around 29 percent. Other poor Brooklyn neighborhoods have benefited from an influx of professionals looking to escape Manhattan rents, but East New York is still desperately seeking help—and hope. "The lack of education and of significant wage earners are the biggest challenges," says Bill Wilkens, coordinator of East New York's Local Development Corporation. "This is the last frontier." A bold experiment could be just what East New York needs.
With Jeneen Interlandi
Personally, I think it's a great idea. Obviously, a lot of the programs currently out there haven't really helped, so why not try something new? I would even like to see families rewarded for their children doing well in school...any kind of motivation could only be seen as a positive in this case.
Read some very interesting thoughts and comments here: http://reddit.com/info/2js9i/comments
Current Sale at BurnTees.com - Act Now!
Save $10 off $50
use the code CABINTEE at checkout
Save $5 off $40
use the code SRV159G at checkout
Save $15 off $75*
use the code FALLTEE2007 at checkout
*excludes buttons & magnets
Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to a Texas base, U.S. officials said.
The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show.
The owners of C&D Distributors in Lexington, South Carolina -- twin sisters -- exploited a flaw in an automated Defense Department purchasing system: bills for shipping to combat areas or U.S. bases that were labeled ``priority'' were usually paid automatically, said Cynthia Stroot, a Pentagon investigator.
C&D's fraudulent billing started in 2000, Stroot, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service's chief agent in Raleigh, North Carolina, said in an interview. ``As time went on they got more aggressive in the amounts they put in.''
The price the military paid for each item shipped rarely reached $100 and totaled just $68,000 over the six years in contrast to the $20.5 million paid for shipping, she said.
``The majority, if not all of these parts, were going to high-priority, conflict areas -- that's why they got paid,'' Stroot said. If the item was earmarked ``priority,'' destined for the military in Iraq, Afghanistan or certain other locations, ``there was no oversight.''
The scheme unraveled in September after a purchasing agent noticed a bill for shipping two more 19-cent washers: $969,000. That order was rejected and a review turned up the $998,798 payment earlier that month for shipping two 19-cent washers to Fort Bliss, Texas, Stroot said.
The Pentagon Defense Logistics Agency orders millions of parts a year. Stroot said the agency and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, which pays contractors, have made major changes, including thorough evaluations of the priciest shipping charges.
Dawn Dearden, a spokeswoman for the logistics agency, said finance and procurement officials immediately examined all billing records. Stroot said the review showed that fraudulent billing is ``is not a widespread problem.''
``C&D was a rogue contractor,'' Stroot said. While other questionable billing has been uncovered, nothing came close to C&D's, she said. The next-highest contractor billed $2 million in questionable transport costs, she said.
C&D and two of its officials were barred in December from receiving federal contracts. A federal judge in Columbia, South Carolina, today accepted the guilty plea of the company and one sister, Charlene Corley, to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder money, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald said.
Corley, 46, was fined $750,000. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years on each count and will be sentenced in the near future, McDonald said in a telephone interview from Columbia. Stroot said her sibling died last year.
Corley didn't immediately return a phone message left on her answering machine at her office in Lexington. Her attorney, Gregory Harris, didn't immediately return a phone call placed to his office in Columbia.
Stroot said the Pentagon hopes to recoup most of the $20.5 million by auctioning homes, beach property, jewelry and ``high- end automobiles'' that the sisters spent the money on.
``They took a lot of vacations,'' she said.
I recently read news that NBC is talking about creating an Office spin-off centered around Dwight Schrute. I’m not sure how good an idea that is (we all know that many spin-offs are disasters), but I also probably wouldn’t complain about more Office on TV. We’ve still got a long month and a half to go until Season four starts, but here are ten great Office scenes to tide you over.
1. Prison Mike
The worst part of prison? The Dementors.
2. Jim as Dwight vs Dwight as Jim
“Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.”
“Yeah, who wants to come in on a Saturday?”
4. Call of Duty
“I’m going to kill you for real.”
5. Dwight’s Pepper Spray
“You know who’s a hero? Hiro, from Heroes. That’s a hero.”
6. Jokes About AIDS
“I hate so much about the things that you choose to be.”
7. Jim and Dwight Conflict Resolution
“Everyone has called me Dwayne all day. I think Jim Halpert paid them to.”
8. Jim Slaps Dwight
“Seven out of ten attacks happen from the rear.”
“Shalom. I’d like to apply for a loan.”
10. Exercise Ball
“It is a fitness orb, and it’s changed my life.”
1"There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded."
— Princess Diana, in a 1995 BBC interview, on her marriage to Prince Charles. They divorced in 1996, and she died a year later. The third party, Camilla Parker Bowles, became Charles’ wife in 2005.
2"I’m tough. I’m ambitious. And I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, OK.”
— Madonna in People, July 27, 1992. It was a big year for her, with the movie A League of Their Own, her Sex book and her Erotica album.
3“Why can’t you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone.”
— Michael Jackson, defending his practice of letting boys share his bed in a Feb. 3, 2003, interview with BBC/Granada’s Martin Bashir. The interview led to molestation charges; Jackson was acquitted in June 2005.
4“I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you ... I bid you a very heartfelt goodnight.”
— Johnny Carson, saying his final goodbye on The Tonight Show, May 22, 1992. The late-night legend died in January 2005.
5“Well, I can wear heels now.”
— Nicole Kidman to David Letterman on Aug. 2, 2001, after her split from Tom Cruise. Both have since remarried, he to actress Katie Holmes, and she to country singer Keith Urban.
6“In the end, you have to come clean and say, ‘I did something dishonorable, shabby and goatish.’.”
— Hugh Grant to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show, July 10, 1995, explaining his June arrest for lewd behavior with a Los Angeles prostitute. Grant pleaded no contest. Girlfriend Elizabeth Hurley stuck by him, but they split five years later. They remain friends.
7“This town is a back-stabbing, scum-sucking, small-minded town, but thanks for the money.”
— Roseanne Barr, in an ad she took out in The Hollywood Reporter for the magazine’s 60th anniversary in October 1990, two years after her sitcom Roseanne launched. The show ran until ’97.
8“I never wanted to be the lesbian actress. I never wanted to be the spokesperson for the gay community. Ever. I did it for my own truth.”
— Ellen DeGeneres in Time magazine, April 14, 1997, just before her Ellen sitcom character came out as gay, too.
9“This moment is so much bigger than me. This moment is for Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll. It’s for the women that stand beside me ... And it’s for every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened.”
— Halle Berry, at the 2002 Oscars, in her best-actress acceptance for Monster’s Ball. She’s the first black woman to win the category.
10“The heart wants what it wants. There’s no logic to those things. You meet someone and you fall in love and that’s that.”
— Woody Allen in Time in 1992, about his relationship with Soon-Yi Previn, the daughter of former girlfriend Mia Farrow. Allen and Previn wed in ’97. The age gap: 35 years.
11“Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. OK? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is whack.”
— Whitney Houston in 2002 on ABC’s Primetime. Houston has since been through rehab several times, and last year split from husband Bobby Brown. She has been working on a new album.
12“Retire? I’m going to stay in show business until I’m the only one left.”
— George Burns, at his 90th birthday tribute, George Burns 90th Birthday Special, taped Jan. 11, 1986. He died 10 years later.
13“I’m too much of an erratic moody baby! I don’t have the passion anymore, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
— Kurt Cobain’s suicide note from April 5, 1994. The lead singer of Nirvana was 27.
14“Psychiatry is a pseudoscience. ... You don’t know the history of psychiatry. I do. ... Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt, you don’t even — you’re glib. You don’t even know what Ritalin is.”
— Tom Cruise to Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today, June 24, 2005, one of several uninhibited expressions from the actor that summer.
15“For an actor, there is no greater loss than the loss of his audience. I can part the Red Sea, but I can’t part with you, which is why I won’t exclude you from this stage in my life.”
— Charlton Heston on Aug. 9, 2002, revealing he has Alzheimer’s. Heston has not made a TV or film appearance since 2003.
16“I’m in shock. And I’m so in love with my brother right now.”
— Angelina Jolie, thanking brother James Haven while accepting the supporting actress Oscar for 1999’s Girl, Interrupted. Since then she has become Brad Pitt’s companion and an upstanding citizen of the world.
17“I am sorry if anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime of the Super Bowl. It was not intentional and is regrettable.”
— Justin Timberlake, in a statement after the 2004 Super Bowl spectacle with Janet Jackson. His career is booming, hers has faltered.
18“And if they want to hear that I’m dead, sorry, folks. I’m not. And I don’t plan on it.”
— Elizabeth Taylor on Larry King Live, May 30, 2006, responding to rumors she was dying. She turned 75 in February.
19“What are you looking at, sugar-___?”
— Mel Gibson, to female deputy last summer after being pulled over for speeding and drunken driving.
— Paris Hilton’s trademark, dating back at least to the first season of The Simple Life in 2003. She eventually had the expression copyrighted.
21The jury “was not my class of people. There was not a producer, a press agent, a director, an actor.”
— Zsa Zsa Gabor to People in October 1989, after a jury found her guilty of slapping a Beverly Hills cop.
22“I just want one day off when I can go swimming and eat ice cream and look at rainbows.”
— Mariah Carey on MTV’s TRL in 2001, before entering rehab for exhaustion. Glitter bombed that fall, but in 2005 she put out a Grammy-winning hit album.
23“The virginity issue. There are so many emotions involved that I would like to be able to wait until I know I’m with the right person and I’m married.”
— Britney Spears in a 2002 interview with Britain’s Daily Star. She’s now 25, has married twice, split up twice (one annulment, one divorce) and has two kids.
24“These people are not parenting. They are buying things for their kids — $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics.”
— Bill Cosby, addressing a Washington, D.C., crowd in 2004.
25“You only lie to two people in your life, your girlfriend and the police. Everybody else you tell the truth to.”
— Jack Nicholson in the April 1994 issue of Vanity Fair. He’s now 70, and no doubt it’s still his motto.
Hollywood is a slaughterhouse where cool movie ideas go to die. Here are ten films that were tragically cut down before their time, simply because they were just too friggin' awesome.
Fans of the popular video game wept tears of joy when a Halo film was announced in 2005. Other bodily fluids escaped when it was announced that the Lord of the Rings guy (Peter Jackson) was on board to produce and Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy) was in talks to direct. But suddenly, in the fall of 2006, both of the studios financing the film bailed out.
Why it didn't get made: The rumored budget offered about 200 million reasons, with a dollar sign in front. To break even, every single person who bought the last Halo game would have to go see the film version seven times. Also, Microsoft's deal included demands that Gates & Co. have creative control over the project. If you don't see why that would be a problem, then you've apparently never heard of Microsoft.
Sure, somebody will make a Halo movie some day (Twentieth Century Fox re-acquired the rights in June of 2007), but it won't be the beautiful love child of Lord of the Rings and Aliens that fanboys dreamed of the moment the heard "Halo" and "Peter Jackson" in the same sentence. It's more likely come back as a bargain basement $60 million production, most likely with a wrestler in the lead. And no matter how bad it is, the geek crowd will give them a big opening weekend and the studio will make a tidy little profit. Direct-to-DVD sequels will surely follow.
And while we're on the subject: We won't be seeing Peter Jackson's The Hobbit any time soon, either. New Line booted him from the project, their revenge for a lawsuit he brought over some disputed Lord of the Rings profits. Let us grieve for all the great movies that would get made if Hollywood wasn't full of greedy douchebags.
Whether or not you think Unbreakable was a great movie, you almost have to agree it was a great idea for a movie. It's a grown-up superhero film, without the silly costumes or CGI monsters or preposterous plans to take over the world… Just a taut battle of wills between extraordinary men, both of the roles played by charismatic superstars. But right as the story reaches its crucial apex, where the hero tracks down the evil genius and realizes he must Stop Him at All Costs, the film abruptly ends. Credits.
That there was supposed to be a sequel (in fact, a trilogy, according to Willis) is obvious. What is not obvious is what in the holy hell M. Night Shyamalan was thinking.
Everyone knows the reason superhero sequels are usually better than the original (think X-Men 2, Superman 2, and Spider-Man 2) is because they don't have to devote half their running time to the tedious origin story. The origin story is always boring, with the pre-superhero protagonist stumbling around like an everyday dumbass for an hour. Shyamalan, for reasons science may never unravel, decided to make Unbreakable nothing but the origin story, stretching that part across the entire running time and saving the actual awesome Good vs. Evil super-battle for the next film.
Why it didn't get made: Not enough people went to see the origin story part. Not after the first weekend, anyway, when crowds of moviegoers sat blinking as the lights came up, thinking someone had stolen the last reel. The Sixth Sense-esque word-of-mouth producers had been banking on turned out to be literally one word: "Ass."
And while we're on the subject: Did you know Shyamalan was in talks to direct the first Harry Potter movie back in 2001? Even those of you who don't like the director have to admit that he probably could have made a more interesting first film than Chris Columbus crapped out. Plus, at the end, maybe we would have found out Harry was actually DEAD THE ENTIRE TIME.
Dan Aykroyd has been desperately pushing for a Ghostbusters sequel for over a decade (yes, we're refusing to acknowledge that Ghostbusters 2 exists). He wrote a script years ago called Ghostbusters: Hellbent (later changed to the more descriptive Ghostbusters in Hell when co-conspirator Harold Ramis got involved) where the ghostbusting crew wind up in a version of New York that exists only in Hell. As the original actors aged and the film continued to not get made, the script was changed to accommodate new, younger group of comedy all-stars to play newly-hired ghostbusters—which, for better or worse, was going to include Ben Stiller.
Why it didn't get made: Because "Billy" didn't want to get within ten feet of the thing, according to Aykroyd. "Billy" is Bill Murray, who didn't like how the second movie turned out (what second movie?) and has since dedicated his life to making more serious films. To be fair, special effects are fun to watch but not so much fun to act in. Murray, now in his late 50s, probably didn't want to spend half a year in front of green screens, covered in slime and getting thrashed around by hydraulic monsters, with Aykroyd and Ramis calling him "Billy" and giving him big thumbs-up signs the whole time
And while we're on the subject: Before the original Ghostbusters came around, Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd were in talks to make Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was scrapped when Aykroyd came up with the idea for Ghostbusters.
If at the mention of "Fletch" you groan and say, "That '80s Chevy Chase movie?" then we're very, very ashamed of you. Long before that film came along, the Fletch character appeared in a dozen very smart, funny novels by author Gregory McDonald. You should read them. No, not right now.
In 2000 Kevin Smith and Miramax got the rights to Fletch Won, a McDonald novel about a young Fletch that takes place before the Chevy Chase movies. It seemed like a perfect fit: It saved Smith from the burden of coming up with a story, and it let him focus on writing the crude, rapid-fire dialogue that is his one unique talent.
Pretty much every young male actor in Hollywood was mentioned in connection with the role (Matthew Perry, Brad Pitt, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon, many more) but we'd have rolled the dice with Chris Rock, who apparently wanted the part very badly. The difference in race from the original Fletch shouldn't have been an issue. At worst, they could have just digitally added Chevy Chase's face and had Chris Rock dub the dialogue.
Why it didn't get made: Smith said he wouldn't direct the movie unless his best friend for life Jason Lee got the part. Shortly thereafter, Miramax announced that Smith wouldn't be directing the movie. Once again, Smith's career was evidently set back by his insistence that he only work with actors he's had at least one drunken pillow fight with. Since this limits his choices to Lee and Ben Affleck (and we're thinking the latter would not only have ruined the franchise, but would have incited fans to pile up all the copies of the novel and hold a Nazi-style book burning) the studio is wisely developing Fletch with another writer and director.
So everything's back on track! On the other hand, apparently the lead in talks to play Fletch is now—brace yourself—Zach Braff.
And while we're on the subject: Maybe Kevin Smith shouldn't take over other people's franchises after all; his Superman Lives script (widely available online) had the potential to be one of the worst movies ever made.
Sci-Fi fans seem doomed to choose between silly action movies (like Transformers or Independence Day) and slow, existential lower-budget fare (like Solaris). What we want is more films like The Matrix, goddamnit, where they can delve into metaphysical ideas and still get a solid hour of zero-gravity kung fu. (Seriously, Hollywood, why is that so hard?) Fans saw a ray of light a few years ago with word that none other than Fight Club's David Fincher was on board to direct a big-budget adaptation of Rendezvous with Rama, an Arthur C. Clarke classic about a mysterious 30 mile-long cylinder that comes humming toward Earth like Gaia's lost vibrator.
Why it didn't get made: Money. If you want to make a Rama film you'll need nine digits just to get a seat at the table (remember, Fincher is the guy who needed a $90 million budget to make a movie about two guys fighting in their basement).
Merchandising on Rama wouldn't exactly be a gold mine, either. Little Timmy isn't going to spend hours with his 100 foot-long plastic Rama mothership, contemplating how it symbolizes man's eternal struggle against the cosmic unknown. While the producers hunted in vain for funding, Fincher's schedule filled up with other, less interesting projects (Panic Room, Zodiac).
And while we're on the subject: Fincher was supposed to direct Mission Impossible III as well. If he had taken the job, he could have simultaneously saved both that franchise and the TV show Lost, which languished without JJ Abrams (who had to basically abandon it in order to direct MI:III).
It was Jim Carrey, before he got older and started making serious movies. It was Matt Stone and Trey Parker, before South Park got all preachy and libertarian. Their paths nearly intersected in a way that could have made, yes, we'll say it, Poop Joke History.
Forget about the terrifyingly bad film that did get made, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Stone and Parker were hired to write a Dumb and Dumber prequel back in the late '90s, right after the first film became a hit. Had they followed through, the result could have been a film so crude that society itself may have been in danger of total, immediate collapse (people eating each other on the streets, fathers clubbing sons to death with family dogs, etc.).
We can only guess at what the plot would have been. Perhaps it would have involved a terrorist plot to unleash a chemical bomb that causes every victim within a mile to become inflamed with ravenous homosexual lust. Maybe Harry and Lloyd could have stolen that bomb from the terrorists and realize the only way to keep it from detonating is by continually farting on it (it has a voice-activated detonator and, by sheer chance, Lloyd's farts sound exactly like the phrase "delay timer" in Arabic). Then maybe at the climax of the film they accidentally detonate the bomb at mid-field during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
Or, you know, not. We'll never know.
Why it didn't get made: When a hot, young talent hits it big, there's invariably a period where they're tempted to say "Yes" to every offer that comes in, for fear that people will stop asking. Stone and Parker were in that stage when they took this on, before they realized they'd be working 22-hour days meeting South Park deadlines.
Another factor: Jim Carrey decided he was too good for sequels right around the time of Ace Ventura 2, so chances are he wouldn't have come on board anyway (at which point the studio started talking prequel instead of sequel). Thus, the horror that was Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd was born. hoisted onto an unsuspecting populace, and then quickly forgotten, peace and reason returning.
And while we're on the subject: It's just as well that Dumb and Dumberer bombed. If the director (Troy Miller) had been given more movies, he may not have gone on to make the superb Flight of the Conchords TV show.
Three of the greatest films of all time were made by one guy, in one seven-year span. In 1974, two of the nominees for Best Picture were directed by that same guy. Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now, The Godfather films, come on, you know who he is) has been coasting on it ever since.
That's why no list of unmade masterpieces would be complete without Megalopolis, Coppola's pet project about a futuristic New York that's had pretty much every Oscar winner of the last decade attached to it at some point or another (including Nicolas Cage, Russell Crowe, and even some talented actors like Robert De Niro, Paul Newman, and Kevin Spacey). This, dear readers, was the mythical Good New Coppola Movie that Hollywood, and America, had been waiting three decades for. They've probably already etched the name of this thing onto a whole box of awards, just waiting for Coppola to actually make the damn film.
Why it didn't get made: Too ambitious, too expensive, maybe too much to undertake for an aging, talent-atrophying Coppola. They did some shoots in New York at some points, but were put on hold by 9/11; then the film's distributor went broke. It just seems like one of those cursed projects.
And while we're on the subject: George Lucas, not Coppola, was originally hired to direct Apocalypse Now. Considering what a drawn-out torture the Apocalypse production turned out to be, there's a good chance that in that alternate universe, Star Wars never happened. Dude.
Ah, Fartman. Hey, don't look at us like that. Shouldn't a well-rounded renaissance man be able to long equally for a Francis Ford Coppola epic and for a film about a superhero who can propel himself through the air using only his own gas?
Fartman is Howard Stern's Megalopolis. He's been trying to make a movie about the character since 1992, and he's serious about it. They had a writer and director lined up at one point, with a budget of $10 million or so from New Line. Writer J.F. Lawton spoke of the screenplay as if it was a 120-page excuse for a series of gratuitous lesbian love scenes.
Could this have been the worst movie ever made? Sure. But knowing Stern, the odds are good that every member of the audience would have left the film changed in some way.
Why it didn't get made: The studio wanted it PG-13, which ran somewhat against Howard's vision for the film. So instead we got 1997's autobiographical Private Parts, a pedestrian, friendly movie which mostly existed to prove to the world what a nice guy Howard is.
And while we're on the subject: If you think this sounds like the superhero movie that would kill superhero movies once and for all, picture this: Larry and Andy Wachowski wrote a Plastic Man script back in 1995. The star, according to internet rumor, was going to be Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens.
While 300 was tearing up the box office, somewhere Arnold Schwarzenegger and Paul Verhoeven were glancing at each other and rolling their eyes, maybe making a sarcastic jerk-off motion with their hands.
Back in 1995 Arnold was set to star in the sword-in-guts epic Crusade, on a budget of $150 million with director Verhoeven (Robocop, Total Recall). The script (by Walon Green, who wrote The Wild Bunch) is considered one of the most brutally violent things ever put to paper.
Why it didn't get made: The studio, Carolco, wanted to make a big-budget pirate movie first. The result was Cutthroat Island, the biggest financial bomb in Hollywood history. Meanwhile, Verhoeven went off to direct Showgirls, one of the worst films in Hollywood history. The Cutthroat Island losses then forced Carolco into bankruptcy. Arnie went on to become governor of California, where his first act was to rope off the whole scene and declare it an official disaster area.
And while we're on the subject: To this day comic fans bemoan the loss of James Cameron's Spider-Man project from the early '90s. Well, if it had gotten made, Arnold was set to play Dr. Octopus.
Probably no single project in Hollywood history has been attempted as many times, by as many people, as A Confederacy of Dunces. For 26 years, directors, actors, producers, writers and studios have come and gone. So why, in a Hollywood where thousands of quickly-forgotten projects wash in and out like the tide, do they keep coming back to Dunces?
It's because the book, by John Kennedy Toole, is the funniest thing ever written. Don't try to argue. Scientists have proven it (they have a computer or something). The novel is one big, intricate clockwork of a joke, plot threads converging in ways so ridiculous it's almost impossible to grasp it all with one reading. You don't think of them awarding Pulitzer prizes to balls-to-the-wall comedies, but they gave one to Dunces.
Will Ferrell was all set to star in this one as recently as a year ago, with Lily Tomlin and Drew Barrymore and Mos Def (fans of the book will have an easy time guessing who plays which character). But, once again, the studio pulled the plug.
Why it didn't get made: Will Ferrell has said it's the movie everyone in Hollywood wants to make, but no one wants to finance. They're right to have doubts. Anyone who saw the Hitchhiker's movie knows how hard it is to translate a funny novel to the big screen. Too much of the comedy lies in the language, in pages of narration that won't be in the film. Whenever it's time to write the checks for Dunces, somebody always gets cold feet.
This film will always be the weird girl at the book store, the enigmatic one who listens only to bands you've never heard of and who just rolls her eyes when you try to make a joke. Hollywood doesn't need that girl, not with a line of slutty cheerleaders right behind her.
And while we're on the subject: Did we mention the project is cursed? John Belushi was set to star in the film in 1982, but just days before he was to meet with producers, he died. Then John Candy was on board, before his death in 1994. Then Chris Farley, before he died in 1997. Then, all plans to film in New Orleans were halted after the city was devastated by hurricane Katrina. Don't get us wrong, we want to see Dunces on the big screen. But there is a significant chance that, upon release, the sky itself will burn with unholy fire and the rivers will flow red with the blood of the innocent.
For the past 24 hours, Baghdad has had virtually no running water. Major parts of the city of six million people have lacked running water for six days, while daily high temperatures have ranged from 115 to 120 degrees.
read more | digg story
Check out the link above to see a comprehensive chart on where the current candidates stand on various issues.
Still unsure? Check out this great page: http://www.dehp.net/candidate/ - You choose what's important to you, what you support, oppose, etc and it shows you which candidates match your views. You might be surprised by the results.
From the site itself: "Okay, here's a really simple way to find out which candidates share your views. This script is composed entirely of data collected by www.2decide.com. Enter your choices below and hit GO to rank the candidates.
Here's how it works, if you want to know. If you agree with a candidate, he gets point(s). If you disagree, take point(s) away. Unkown/other results in no points. The number of points given or taken depends on the weight you set. "Meh" is worth 1 point, "important" 2, and "key" is worth 5. The items you disagree about will be listed directly underneath each candidate (if they score greater than zero).
Anyway, this is not meant to replace the 2decide page and I hope you check it out. I would assume that most of you would have already seen it before this, anyway. Also, it is entirely possible that there are bugs in the script, so take it with a grain of salt. If for some reason you are inclined to contact me about this, go ahead. If you want to inspect my code for bugs, feel free. I don't care if you improve upon it and/or repost it somewhere else."
1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."
3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.
5. You should not confuse your career with your life.
6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
7. Never lick a steak knife.
8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.
9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.
10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.
12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.
13. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)
14. Your friends love you anyway.
Thought for the day: Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.