Opening this week is the documentary “Page One: Inside the New York Times,” which follows a year in the life of the behemoth of print journalism as it struggles with sweeping changes in the media landscape, captured by director Andrew Rossi. In June, Rossi spoke at the 2011 Investigative Reporters and Editor Convention, also screening his film to a room of prominent journalists. The filmmaker also offered a few moments to discuss his picture and his feelings on the future of the industry.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there was a motion simulator attraction titled “Star Tours,” born from the imagination of George Lucas and his iconic “Star Wars” franchise. For over two decades, the entertainment experience remained unchanged at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, leaving fans to wonder if the semi-dated attraction would ever see a significant overhaul. After all, being an unabashed tinkerer, why would Lucas leave one of the more vividly imagined forays into his ATM-like empire unmolested? Would “Star Tours” remain the same forever? I mean, honestly, how many times can a person do the trench run before a case of the sleeps sets in?
“Soul Surfer” (opening in theaters on April 8th) recounts the amazing true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton (played in the film by AnnaSophia Robb), who survived a horrific shark attack, losing her left arm at the age of 13 but not her will to continue life on idyllic Hawaiian waves. It’s a story of perseverance, faith, and family, capturing a teenage girl as she faces an extraordinary situation with a shockingly sound mind. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Hamilton (now 21 years old) about her experience with the film and her life beyond the waves.
In August of 2009, James Cameron devised a unique way to promote his upcoming movie. The event was called “Avatar Day,” offering the curious and the faithful an opportunity to view 16 minutes of exclusive footage at a nearby IMAX theater, helping to increase awareness of the blockbuster-to-be, while also revealing a substantial look at the 3D artistry of the film, which, up until that point, was mostly a mystery outside of a few trailer sneak peeks. The experience was short, but very sweet, doing its part to build “Avatar” into the box office behemoth it eventually became.
Years ago, I did some P.A. work on a game show set inside the vast home of Midwestern capitalism, Mall of America. I spent roughly four weeks dinking around the set doing menial work while filling my pockets with craft service Twizzlers, but during this magical time I was allowed access to the world of game show production, observing how they’re cast, assembled, and, well, faked. Not “Quiz Show” faked, but enhanced through retakes and intense coaching to make cash and prizes feel like CASH AND PRIZES! The disillusionment was substantial.
Star Wars Celebration is the big show for anyone with a major hankerin’ for sparkly Lucasian action, assuming control of a vast space and filling it with all matters of Jedi and Sith-related material. It’s an astounding presentation of hot-blooded fandom, bringing together a swirl of admirers from all over the planet (perhaps a few alien nations as well) to discuss the infinite “Star Wars” universe, hobnob with aging media stars, and buy gobs of merchandise from excitable, finger-rubbing merchants. Because it wouldn’t truly be a “Star Wars” experience without an opportunity to give George Lucas your every last cent.
For anyone visiting Walt Disney World with little girls in tow, face time with the Disney Princesses is an absolute priority. In fact, the royal ladies are often treated a bit like The Beatles, commanding a large amount of attention whenever they hit the parks, attracting scores of parents and anxious kids seeking an autograph, a picture, and a little insider conversation. Primarily tips on how to keep a tiara clean.
When The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was officially announced in 2007, it sent shockwaves of giddiness through theme park enthusiast circles, J.K. Rowling admirers, and fantasy movie fans. Here was a remarkable opportunity to live the Harry Potter life, not just sit passively while pages turned or images swung across the big screen. The barriers were finally being kicked down, as Universal Orlando proclaimed to the world they were going to build their very own Hogwarts right in the middle of Central Florida.