Television, movies, living vicariously through others, Disney, rare and unique finds, whiskers on kittens and cheap and feeble attempts at humor by parodying Hollywood’s most beloved classic musicals: these are a few of my favorite things. So needless to say I was thrilled when I learned that Syfy would be introducing a new series titled ‘Hollywood Treasure’ in which we followed the path of Hollywood’s treasures from unearthing to ending up on the auction house block. And when Syfy reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing the first two episodes from the 12-episode season, I would have ordinarily jumped at the chance, but what could Syfy (owned by NBC Universal incidentally) possibly offer me, someone who focuses on The Walt Disney Company? Apparently everything (but more on that later).
The series centers on Joe Maddalena, the founder and owner of Profiles in History, a prominent auction house that focuses on Hollywood memorabilia. Profiles in History was the company recently responsible for the recent ‘LOST’ auction and exhibit as well as an upcoming auction to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Back to the Future at Universal Studios (which we’ll give some more information on at a later date). Essentially Joe and his staff act on leads and previously established relationships to find the owners of desirable props and get them to agree to consign the object to be sold at auction. Not everything always works out in Joe’s favor however and fortunately the show doesn’t bury the non-successes and instead offers us the opportunity to experience collectibles we might not have had the chance to see otherwise, or even know to exist.
It’s in the first episode in fact that a lead comes in the form of one of the magic carpet bags used by Julie Andrews in the Disney classic Mary Poppins. According to the bag’s history (which isn’t as detailed in the episode), current owner Erik Rosen’s grandfather received the carpet bag as the result of a company raffle held for the film’s ad agency. Stuffed with cash as a bonus, the original winner wasn’t interested in the bag as much as the cash and gladly passed the carpet bag off to Rosen’s grandfather who gifted it to his wife. Although it was well-loved by Erik and his siblings as children, it eventually ended up packed in a cardboard box in the cellar and there it sat for decades until the family moved out of the home and the grandchildren decided to see who could get the most money for it.
Initially Maddalena is impressed by the carpet bag when he examines it and tells Rosen that he believes the bag could fetch as much as $15,000 at auction if the bag could be confirmed as authentic screen-used, but when Profiles in History has trouble substantiating Rosen’s claims, it’s up to the Profiles in History crew to further investigate into the true origins of the bag and what they ultimately discover will definitely surprise you.
Even the second episode, whose star is one of the Wicked Witch of the West’s hat from MGM’s Wizard of Oz, has a touch of Disney in that it was filmed around the time of the LOST auction and features several of the props from the ABC series. Maddalena also pays a visit to the Sony Pictures Entertainment archive as well as offers appraisals to a private Batman memorabilia collector who not only collects items but built his own functional Batmobile replica solely from photographic references and a Heath Ledger as the Joker life-size figure that must be seen to be believed.
I have but one gripe about the series and it’s probably not all that surprising given the state of reality television nowadays and that is that some of the dialogue between the crew appears scripted and artificial for the sake of enhancing the viewing experience. Fortunately however it’s a rare scenario and the genuine content of the show is compelling enough to forgive it.
The first two episodes of ‘Hollywood Treasure’ premiere back-to-back tonight on Syfy at 10 pm and 10:30 pm.
TRON is, I say with no shame to speak of, one of my all-time favorite films (it’s so me and Al Gore will always have something to discuss). So when Walt Disney Studios decided to revive its viral campaign a second time (the first being San Diego Comic-Con’s reincarnation of Flynn’s Arcade) and combine it with my hometown, I was at the ready.
It all started when Flynn Lives, a grassroots campaign of members unknown, published what was almost immediately identified as a binary clock counting down to February 24 at 11 am ET. Apparently ENCOM CEO Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) had gone missing twenty years ago and hadn’t been heard of since, but the organization is certain Flynn is alive and is doing whatever it can to bring his cause to the nation’s attention.
As the countdown continued, a list of 25 cities worldwide appeared below the clock. Then at 11 AM ET on February 24, the cities were each listed alongside a numbered grid and — throughout the day — cities would become active, requesting than a volunteer operative go to a designated location revealed only when the city opened up (an arcade) and be the first to locate a contact in a FLYNN LIVES tshirt and pass along the secret phrase. In return, the operative received a nylon TRON wallet containing newspaper clippings about the campaign, three TRON trading cards (which then translated into the numbered mosaic of a new image from the film) and a Flynn’s Arcade token.
It was then revealed that a special IMAX event would be taking place earlier today with limited tickets simultaneously becoming available at 9 PM GMT for five cities: Los Angeles and New York in the United States, Toronto, London and Sydney. Based on the audience size, I suspect no more than 50-75 tickets were available (each being a +1), so I was fortunate enough to secure one.
Entering the IMAX theatre (the 8-story tall one in New York), we were handed our 3D Glasses and a free FLYNN LIVES tshirt and found our seats. Shortly after 10 am ET, the lights dimmed and the trailer unceremoniously began. And now, the review/spoilers:
Title: The Muppets Animal Drummer (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: December 15, 2009
Pros: The Muppets; good graphics; great music and sounds; fun, addictive and simple gamplay
Review: From Disney Interactive Studios, Enorbus and the Muppets Studio comes The Muppets Animal Drummer, a rhythm based game that has its roots in the electronic board game Simon in which you must repeat Animal’s drumming sequence in (near) perfect rhythm, so it differs from the Dance Dance Revolution genre in that you must remember the sequence rather than reacting to it in real time.
Title: Phineas and Ferb Arcade (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: December 3, 2009
iTouch?: Yes (WiFi/Internet required for scoreboard)
Pros: Quick, addictive play, free preview available
Cons: Controls sometimes difficult, navigation buttons inconsistent
Review: In a series of 3 mini-games, Phineas and Ferb brings the number one show for kids ages 6-11 (not to mention popular with every other demographic) to the iPhone.
Here’s the plot: While Phineas and Ferb are trying to build a snow mountain so they can snowboard in the backyard (S’no Problem), older sister Candace goes surfing in the backyard tide pool trying to impress Jeremy (Cowabunga Candace!), all the while Perry the Platypus is acting as Agent P, trying to protect the secret hideout from infiltrators (Agent P’s Hideout).
Here’s the thing: If you’re a Phineas and Ferb fanatic, you might find yourself thinking those game names sound familiar — and they should. All three are actual almost-direct ports of existing games you can play online for free. Granted the controls are different given the nature of a personal computer versus an iPhone (and to be honest, in the latter two games, the iPhone wins in this respect), but gameplay is virtually the same which means if you aren’t familiar with them, you can try them out online first before buying the game (see links below).
Just in time for the exclusive engagement of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog in Los Angeles and New York City beginning this week, the soundtrack for the film has been unleashed. With a series of hits and misses over the past 15+ years and Disney taking breaking from its Menken safety net, how does ‘newcomer’ Randy Newman fare for the first Disney Princess in a decade?
Click here for our review.
Title: Prep & Landing (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: November 19, 2009
iTouch?: Yes (WiFi/Internet required for some)
Pros: A couple of entertaining games/features
Cons: Long, frustrating gameplay with little payoff, promoted items missing
Review: On December 1, ABC will air its first ever original holiday special produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. That’s the good news. The bad news is they want to charge you for downloading the promotional app and it falls way short on expectations and even promises.
After watching a surprisingly brief promo for the special, you are presented with two menu options. Kringle Academy is where you’ll find 3 mini-games and P&L Specialized Equipment is where you’ll find the ‘extras,’ which are often more entertaining than the games themselves, unfortunately.
As a general rule with the game, sound effects are nil (Christmas carols are your only source of audio candy) and gameplay is exceptionally long with repetitive movements. There’s also no scoring system so you’re really only competing for ‘distance’ and colored rewards such as gold, silver and red (and other, ‘lesser’ colors) which seem to offer no benefit other than a virtual pat on the iBack.
Title: LUMA (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: November 10, 2009
Pros: Quick, addictive play, good graphics and sound effects
Review: I confess when I first read LUMA’s description and saw the game shots, I thought I knew exactly how the game was going to go. At first glance, the concept seemed like this network type game I had played on a PDA long ago where ‘cables’ had to be rotated in 90 degree increments in order to connect various ‘nodes’ together to complete a ‘network.’ Although LUMA’s premise is similar, Disney Interactive (and its Enorbus subsidiary) have managed to turn the simple concept on its ears and produce a quick and highly addictive logic puzzle game.
Title:Bayou Beats (link)
Publisher: Walt Disney
Released: November 7, 2009
Pros: Free, some replay value, music from the film
Cons: Large installation due to music video
Review: In promotion of Disney’s The Princess and the Frog which opens nationwide December 11 comes this free app which includes a small, quasi-addictive game along with a music video and a lot of purchase links.
The game itself is small and pretty straightforward. Using instrumental versions of one of several songs from the feature film (but sadly not Gonna Take You There) as a backdrop, the game consists of pressing one of several buttons along the bottom as they are lit up by falling crowns passing through them. The game keeps track of how many correct touches in a row you have and then rewards long streaks by increasing a score multiplier. Where it may get confusing is that it looks like you have to ‘catch’ the individual crowns, but while you do have to prevent the crown from passing through without being touched, the key is you’re touching the button while it’s lit which means a single crown can yield you 2 or 3 successful touches if done quickly enough while a few crowns in immediate succession can yield a quick finger upwards of 15 touches or so. Get too greedy by having one of your touches land when the button is no longer lit, however, and the frog croaks and the chain count is reset to zero.
There’s just no beating around the bush about this one: one of the most thrilling action movies this year was written by Charles Dickens in 1843. The only questions that remain are just how good is this movie that Disney has been promoting in over the top ways? And what should you know about this movie before you see it?
Check out our review of Disney’s newest film for all the sordid details.
It’s Christmas Eve and the entire Disney gang is trapped inside the House of Mouse but not a creature is moping — except for Donald that is. Can Mickey help remind Donald of the Christmas spirit and still keep his customers entertained? Or is it just one big snow job? Read our review to find out more.