SciFi Weekend: Abrams On The Next Star Trek Movie; Wil Wheton on Big Bang Theory; Shocking Finale for Dexter; Lauren Graham; Olivia Wilde; Kristen Bell; and the PB & J Wedding


J.J. Abrams has talked more about the sequel to his Star Trek movie in an interview with Cinematical:

Since you were able to wipe the slate clean with your prequel, do you plan to come up with something completely original, or is there a possibility you will reference some of the existing creatures or races in the next installment?

Abrams: The fun of this movie series is that we will have the opportunity, given its alternate timeline, to cross paths with any of the experiences, places and characters that existed in the original series. We have to be really careful, obviously, doing that. I don’t want to do something that is so inside that only die-hard fans will appreciate.

Will the first film’s alternate timeline affect what you can leave in and what can’t be a part of subsequent films?

Abrams: The trick in doing any movie, but especially something like this that involves some weird alternate reality-time travel thing is that you don’t want to not explain it, but you don’t want to explain everything. I think you have as much fun with the missing pieces as you do with the pieces you get. So, for me, not knowing every detail, allows me to get inside of the story and start to fill in the blanks. When everything is spoon-fed, typically I feel like you’re being pandered to, or it’s too expositional. It’s always a balance.

You managed to contemporize what was an aging franchise, with your work on Star Trek, and you talked about including more current events in the sequel. Do you think that Star Trek is evergreen, or is it something that needs to be continuously updated for each generation?

Abrams: It’s hard to give a blanket answer to that question. I do think that, whether it’s Star Trek or anything, whatever is being investigated, created or produced now, in movies or TV, needs to consider the context in which it is being distributed. It’s not a vacuum. There are certain universal themes of love, conflict, loyalty or family that are everlasting and that need to be presented in a way that makes it feel relevant, even if it’s a period piece. You need to consider what context that film, that story and those characters are being seen in. But, having said that, with Star Trek, it’s not like we’re looking to make the second movie some kind of heavy political allegory. I think that it’s important that there is a metaphor to what we know and that there is relevance, and I think allegory is the thing that made shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek resonate and still be vital today.

But, because the first movie was so much about introducing these people, and it was very much a premise movie about how to bring these people together, it made it difficult to also have the film go as deep as it could, about certain conflict, certain relationships and the heart of who some of these characters are. I think it was successful in what it needed to do, to introduce these people, but I feel like, now that we’ve done that, it is the job of the next film to go a little bit deeper. It shouldn’t be any less fun or take itself too seriously, but consider who these people are now and grow with them, and just examine them a little more closer, now that we’ve gotten through the pleasantries and introductions.


Wil Wheton will be guest staring on the October 19 episode of The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon holds the role of Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation against Wheton. TV Fanatic reports:

“As much as Sheldon loves Star Trek, Wil Wheaton is the only person associated with the franchise whom Sheldon has sworn eternal enmity toward,” the actor said when asked about by TV Guide Magazine about his role.

So, why does Sheldon have such animosity for Wheaton? The character apparently did not enjoy an autograph experience with Wil many years ago.

“The Wil I play in the Big Bang universe is not such a nice person,” Wheaton said. “But in real life, I go out of my way to be kind and patient. My motto is: ‘Don’t be a d—!’”


The BBC has released the new logo for the upcoming season of Doctor Who, including the use of DW in the shape of a Tardis.

Julie Benz Dexter

Julie Benz, in an interview with CinemaBlend, has revealed that a real shock is planned for the season finale of Dexter:

Your character has really developed into a pivotal part of the show. What can we expect from Rita this season?
Wow, this season. Obviously at the beginning of the season we see Rita has it all. I mean, she has everything she’s ever wanted. She has the perfect husband, the great kids, the new baby, the dream house in the suburbs but you know, just like anything, nothing great lasts forever. We have an amazingly shocking ending this season. I mean, it’s so shocking that – it’s just shocking is all I can say. It shocked the whole cast.

So you’ve already filmed the last episode?
We are in the middle of filming it right now.

Any chance Dexter will let her in on his secret?
Oh! I don’t know about that. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but you know, you definitely see worlds collide; everybody’s world collides in this season.


So far I haven’t been very excited about the new television season. At present the only new shows I’m watching are Flash Forward, Modern Family, and Glee.  There are some new shows to come including remakes of V and The PrisonerParenthood, based upon the Ron Howard movie, has been delayed due to Maura Tierney developing medical problems. She is to be replaced by Lauren Graham, who will play the part of a single mother. She is well prepared for this role after staring in Gilmore Girls. Any chance they can get Alexis Bledel to quest star on an episode and reunite the pair?


Ausiello reports that “Olivia Wilde and Peter Jacobson’s trailers have not been emptied out” and predicts that they will reappear on House.


Kristen Bell has been busy since leaving Veronica Mars and Heroes. Couples Retreat has just been released and she has now been signed to star along with Christina Aguilera in Burlesque:

The story follows a young small-town girl (Aguilera) as she ventures into the city in the hopes of becoming a star. Soon she discovers an L.A. burlesque bar, where the men are fast and the women faster. She quickly uses her amazing voice and burlesque dancing to become the joint’s new star.

Bell plays the club’s big-shot dancer who doesn’t take a liking to the new girl’s sudden success. Also starring are Cher, as the nightclub’s experienced owner, and Stanley Tucci as the man who helps Aguilera find her moves.


Heroes is still struggling to recover, this week resorting to a lesbian kiss between Hayden Panettiere and Madeline Zima. While this has created some buzz for the show, it is doubtful that it will do anything to help the show get back on track. Zima is better known recently for her role along with David Duchovny in Californication.


The big television event of the season so far has been the wedding of Pam and Jim on The Office. While hour long episodes of The Office have often not worked very well, feeling like two stories merged together, this episode worked very well. The episode included take offs of a couple of popular You Tube videos. I’ve previously posted the video of the JK Wedding Entrance Dance which inspired the entrance at the wedding ceremony. The episode also showed Dwight wearing a Three Wolf Moon t-shirt:

White House Communications Director Calls Fox an “Arm of the Republican Party.”

For years Fox has been treated as if it was a legitimate news outlet, even by those who recognized its conservative bias. There is  a considerable difference from the types of bias seen from time to time from all news outlets and the manner in which Fox was established for the purpose of pursuing a specific political agenda. Fox is no more a legitimate news outlet than Pravda was in the old Soviet Union.

We are finally seeing some honest response to Fox’s role. A couple of weeks ago the White House blog outright said that Fox lies. White House communications director Anita Dunn was recently quoted by Time as saying “It’s opinion journalism masquerading as news.” Today, on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Dunn defended this comment, noting how it devotes so much time to stirring fake controversies like Bill Ayers and ACORN (video above). She also said:

The reality of it is that Fox News often operates as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party. And it’s not ideological. I mean, obviously there are many commentators who are conservative, liberal, centrist, and everybody understands that. What I think is fair to say about Fox is — and certainly the way we view it — is that it really is more of a wing of the Republican Party. […]

They’re widely viewed as, you know, a part of the Republican Party — take their talking points, put them on the air, take their opposition research, put them on the air, and that’s fine. But let’s not pretend they’re a news network they way CNN is.

It is good to see a White House which is so open to recognizing reality and stating so.

Posted in Barack Obama, News Media. Tags: , . 6 Comments »

Pigs Were Flying Friday Night As Bill Maher Interviewed Bill Frist

Has anyone checked the temperature in Hell today? Here’s something I didn’t expect to see happen. Bill Maher interviewed Bill Frist on Friday night’s show and I wound up agreeing with Frist and disagreeing with Maher. Of course this is because they discussed medical issues, where Maher is as off the wall as the conservatives he attacks over other matters. It also helped Frist that he has endorsed health care reform and that the interview didn’t get to matters such as his faulty diagnosis of Terri Schiavo based upon video tapes.

Congressional Budget Updates Estimates on Savings From Malpractice Reform

The Congressional Budget Office has updated their estimates with regards to the economic effects of tort reform. (Hat top to Ed Morrissey). A summary of the full report is on their director’s blog:

Today CBO released a letter updating its analysis of the effects of proposals to limit costs related to medical malpractice (“tort reform”). Typical legislative proposals for tort reform have included caps on awards for noneconomic and punitive damages, rules allowing the introduction at trials of evidence about insurance payments and related sources of income, statutes of limitations on suits, and replacement of joint-and-several liability with a fair-share rule.

Tort reform could affect costs for health care both directly and indirectly: directly, by lowering premiums for medical liability insurance; and indirectly, by reducing the use of diagnostic tests and other health care services when providers recommend those services principally to reduce their potential exposure to lawsuits. Because of mixed evidence about whether tort reform affects the utilization of health care services, past analyses by CBO have focused on the impact of tort reform on premiums for malpractice insurance. However, more recent research has provided additional evidence to suggest that lowering the cost of medical malpractice tends to reduce the use of health care services.

CBO now estimates that implementing a typical package of tort reform proposals nationwide would reduce total U.S. health care spending by about 0.5 percent (about $11 billion in 2009). That figure is the sum of a direct reduction in spending of 0.2 percent from lower medical liability premiums and an additional indirect reduction of 0.3 percent from slightly less utilization of health care services. (Those estimates take into account the fact that because many states have already implemented some of the changes in the package, a significant fraction of the potential cost savings has already been realized.)

Enacting a typical set of proposals would reduce federal budget deficits by roughly $54 billion over the next 10 years, according to estimates by CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee of Taxation. That figure includes savings of roughly $41 billion from Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, as well as an increase in tax revenues of roughly $13 billion from a reduction in private health care costs that would lead to higher taxable wages.

A previous CBO report had minimized the impact of tort reform on health care costs. In evaluating this report it must also be considered that the process the CBO uses to estimate savings might very likely underestimate potential savings from tort reform (as they have also likely underestimated  potential cost savings from the proposed health care reform proposals). On the other hand, I also fear that even if the fear of frivolous malpractice suits was immediately removed, doctors would still be slow in changing habits which include increasing costs due to defensive medicine.

The report concludes by looking at contradictory evidence as to whether there would be any adverse impact on patients’ health from limitations on malpractice suits. While the evidence is certainly not clear, I lean towards those studies which show minimal if any adverse impact. The current malpractice system is so flawed that we have both a tremendous number of suits filed which lack merit while those who truly suffer from negligence are unlikely to benefit under the current system. As I’ve argued in the past, rather than the limited reforms being considered, I would prefer to remove the process compensating those injured from the legal system and establish new bodies to handle this.

In the past Barack Obama has expressed willingness to consider tort reform. Malpractice reform was also a component of John Kerry’s health reform plan during the 2004 election. So far we are not seeing this in current legislation. Hopefully the fact that these new estimates were requested indicates that there now is some interest in including tort reform in the final health care reform legislation.

While there is certainly room to question the exact amount of savings which this might represent, and the amount of likely savings is often exaggerated by conservatives, tort reform does present an area where real savings are possible without needing to limit necessary health care. Tort reform is certainly not the sole solution to health care costs as some conservatives claim but should be included in any efforts to reduce costs and pay for more comprehensive health care reform. Other reforms which are not considered by the Congressional Budget Office but which would be tremendously beneficial to society include shipping all the lawyers who run those tasteless commercials to drum up business to Gitmo.