Christian ventriloquists turn down The Ten

The makers of The Ten, an upcoming comedy based on the Ten Commandments, needed a ventriloquist’s dummy for a segment in which Winona Ryder takes a stolen dummy — or “hard figure”, as those in the ventriloquism business call it — and has sex with it. Their first choice was a dummy produced by The Dummy Works in Texas. It turned out the proprietors are Christians involved in various ventriloquism ministries. The dummy makers turned the movie down. The New York Times has all the details.

Star Trek XI to bring back Spock (and Kirk?)

One of the many news items coming out of Comic-Con yesterday was that Leonard Nimoy will reprise the role of Spock in the upcoming Star Trek XI. The part will probably be just a cameo, as it was also announced that Zachary Quinto, of the TV show Heroes, will star as the young Spock. And while the young Captain Kirk has not yet been cast, director J.J. Abrams said he also had not ruled out bringing back William Shatner as the older Kirk.

This raises a couple of questions for Star Trek buffs like me.

First, Spock. My understanding is that Spock and Doctor McCoy were both supposed to witness the “death” of Kirk in Generations (1994; my comments), but both Nimoy and the late DeForest Kelley declined to appear in that film, on the basis that they had already said goodbye to those characters in The Undiscovered Country (1991; my comments); the characters were then replaced with Chekov and Scotty, which was odd, because neither of those characters had ever been particularly close to Kirk, and in Scotty’s case, we already knew that he would one day be rescued from a 75-year transporter loop by Captain Picard and would be under the impression that Kirk was still alive. (I believe the fans have since excused this on the basis that Scotty’s memory was affected by the matter loss he endured while he was stuck in the loop.)

Anyway. Has Nimoy since changed his mind? Has the passage of time softened his resistance to such things, a la the switch he made between I Am Not Spock (1977) and I Am Spock (1995)? Or does his endorsement of the current movie suggest that he may have turned down the part in Generations for other reasons — such as, perhaps, a screenplay that wasn’t quite up to snuff?

Second, Kirk. If the older Kirk were to appear in this movie, when would his part of the story take place? According to the official continuity, the events depicted in The Undiscovered Country and the prologue of Generations took place within months of each other, in the same year. And the latter film ended with Kirk dead. So the Kirk scenes would have to take place no later than then. But by the time Star Trek XI comes out in 2008, Shatner will have gotten 14 to 17 years older, depending on which film you use as your reference point. Could Shatner, who is now 76, conceivably pass himself off as someone still in his late 50s or early 60s?

This takes me back to Spock. Given that Nimoy is also 76, and will also have aged 17 years since the last time he played his character — and given that Vulcans usually live twice as long as humans — when will the older Spock’s appearance take place? After the events of The Undiscovered Country? Or perhaps about a century later, after Nimoy’s guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation (which aired in November 1991, mere weeks before the theatrical release of The Undiscovered Country)?

Of course, the writers have said the new movie will be a reboot of the franchise, not a prequel, so perhaps none of these questions matter. Perhaps there will be no connections to official continuity at all, and perhaps the film will consist of two old guys looking back across a series of life experiences that we have never seen, and feeling nostalgic for a shared youth that they could never have had in any of the other episodes and movies in which we saw these actors playing these roles. But that would be kind of weird.

BTW, regarding the pictures above, each triptych shows the actor in question as he appeared in The Undiscovered Country (1991), as he appeared in his one subsequent performance — Spock in an episode of The Next Generation (also 1991) that took place 76 years later, Kirk in the movie Generations (1994) which took place less than one year later — and as he appears more-or-less today.

Indiana Jones reunites with Marion, again.

MTV Movies Blog reports that it was announced at Comic-Con today that Karen Allen will be back as Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones IV — just as she predicted at a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) over a year ago. Mind you, she also predicted at that time that Natalie Portman might be in the new movie as Indy’s daughter, and that prediction doesn’t seem to have come true — though rumours do persist that the Shia LaBeouf character will turn out to be Indy’s son. (Perhaps the character’s gender was changed in rewrites?) At any rate, what about the other prediction she made, that the Temple of Doom (1984) leading lady played by Kate Capshaw — who now happens to be Steven Spielberg’s wife — might also be in the new film…?

Newsbites: Monstrous! Pope Joan! Caspian!

Time for a few quick quick quickies.

1. If you saw Transformers, then you probably saw the trailer for that mysterious J.J. Abrams movie which looks like a disaster flick shot on a cheap home-movie camera. The trailer does not say what the movie is called, but early rumours said it might have the working title Cloverfield. Now comes word that the movie might be called Monstrous, and the movie might have something to do with beasts from Jewish mythology, namely Leviathan, Behemoth and Ziz — the primordial monsters of sea, land and air. Make of all that what you will; I am sure there will be new rumours soon.

2. Director Volker Schlöndorff has been fired from Pope Joan, the upcoming adaptation of the Donna Woolfolk Cross novel starring Franka Potente. Apparently the powers that be at Constantin Films did not approve of Schlöndorff’s public criticism of their policy re: making extended versions of their films for TV.

3. NarniaWeb and were both invited to the Prague set of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, and have now posted nearly identical versions of an interview with director Andrew Adamson. I wonder if anyone else was at that roundtable.

Canadian box-office stats — July 22

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Sicko — CDN $1,990,000 — N.AM $19,185,853 — 10.4%
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — CDN $20,800,000 — N.AM $207,866,865 — 10.0%
Knocked Up — CDN $13,280,000 — N.AM $142,698,885 — 9.3%
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End — CDN $26,770,000 — N.AM $306,034,458 — 8.7%

Transformers — CDN $22,610,000 — N.AM $262,978,000 — 8.6%
Live Free or Die Hard — CDN $9,960,000 — N.AM $116,267,866 — 8.6%
Hairspray — CDN $2,010,000 — N.AM $27,476,745 — 7.3%
Ratatouille — CDN $10,980,000 — N.AM $165,519,955 — 6.6%
License to Wed — CDN $2,450,000 — N.AM $38,495,133 — 6.4%
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry — CDN $2,110,000 — N.AM $34,233,750 — 6.2%

A couple of discrepancies: Sicko and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End were #9 and #10 on the Canadian chart, respectively (they were #11 and #14 in North America as a whole), while 1408 and Evan Almighty were #8 and #9 on the North American chart, respectively.

Yet another movie not screened for critics.

Lou Lumenick at the New York Post reports that Skinwalkers, a werewolf flick that was going to open this Friday before it got bumped to August 10, will not be screened for critics.