Gnome Liberation!
Bush In America! Dog Genome,
Whoopi Sacked! Earth's Acid Seas!
Moving Asteroids & More!
Gnome Liberation - 2004!

Where is the Gnome Liberation
Front today?

Free the Gnomes!
By FLAtRich

July 18, 2004 (eXoNews) - Fact: "Every six seconds on eBay in Germany, someone buys a garden gnome..." (International Herald Tribune - June 30, 2004)

Worldwide slavery of innocent gnomes is definitely on the increase in 2004. Shameless gnome slavers even sell the little guys and gals directly on the Internet. Some even pose as gnome abolitionists to hide their vile commercial ventures. Others, like Free The Gnomes, make big bucks from the liberation movement.


Gnome Dog T-Shirts
Free The Gnomes states categorically that they are not "affiliated with the Gnome Liberation Front", but that doesn't stop them from selling all sorts of products that might encourage gnome libbers to action.

The popular Free The Gnome online store includes such must have items as Free The Gnome Dog T-Shirts, Mouse pads, and, of course, lunchboxes and classic thongs.

Check out their store at Free The Gnomes - http://www.freethegnomes.com


Free The Gnome classic thongs

Gosh! I wonder who wears those Free The Gnome thongs? Possibly the most elite members of the insidious Gnome Liberation Front?

And where have those dark minions of gnome justice been hiding anyway? It seems the once proud network, the underground railroad of gnome liberation, has fallen back into the shadows. 

Unfortunately, the lapse in real gnome political action by the GLF has confused and corrupted supporters of the movement.

With a recent growing gnome presence in US TV commercials, some copycat criminals have even used the just cause of Gnome Liberation as an excuse to perpetrate crimes against innocent gardeners across America.


Innocent gnome couple!

Here is some Recent Gnome News:

Gnomes Kidnapped by Teens

Munster Indiana July 16, 2004 (eXoNews) - The Northwest Indiana Times reported this week that thieves robbed Beverly Bassett, a 92-year old grandmother in Munster, of "a couple of gnomes, a gazing ball and other lawn ornaments."

She called police, but the thieves struck again the next night.

"It was teenagers in a van," Bassett said.

Lt. Kurt Matz of the Munster PD said there have been other similar thefts reported in Munster recently, but didn't cite any GLF implications.

"It's probably some kids messing around," Matz said. "We'll probably find everything in a vacant field somewhere."


180 gnomes captured by French police

Freed Gnomes Rebuilding Their Lives

Italy July 18, 2004 (eXoNews) - According to the European Gnome Sanctuary, at least some gnomes have been able to put the shock of enslavement behind them. The EGS, known gnome liberation sympathizers, reports:

"For a number of months gnomes have been moving into a small valley in the Province of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy. These intrepid gnomes have found a green wooded valley, far away from all the problems and pollution of modern life and have started to rebuild their lives with their new found freedom."

European Gnome Sanctuary - http://www.barganews.com/gnomes/index.html

Roaming Gnome Spotted


The so-called roaming gnome aboard a vacation flight

Dallas July 13, 2004 (DBJ) - A chubby, short, smart-alecky, plaster garden gnome, who surreptitiously left his garden home this winter, has turned up at D/FW International Airport, airport officials say. 

The roaming gnome, who was reported missing from the garden of a guy named Bill in January, has been spotted at various sites around the world -- not to mention on TV -- as he makes a whirlwind trip booked on Travelocity, a Southlake-based travel reservation company. 

Now, he's turned up at D/FW, where he already has made history by sneaking a ride on the SkyLink Automated People Mover, which is currently being testing for a February 2005 opening. 

The gnome plans to stay at the world's third busiest airport for the next four weeks, according to a note that was found with him, D/FW officials say. Visitors to the airport will have a chance to meet the gnome throughout July, as he roams baggage claim areas across D/FW's four terminals and rides Terminal Link and Express parking vehicles with passengers. 

D/FW has hired a "gnome sitter" to keep an eye on the gnome and travelers crossing paths with them will get to take vacation photos with the small jetsetter, although he still refuses to utter a word, airport officials said.

Gnomes as Pop Icons
By BARBARA NACHMAN 
Gannett News Service


Gnomes must be protected

July 16, 2004 (Gannett) - Once they led bucolic lives.

Now, the stocky little garden gnomes with bushy beards and pointy hats have landed on the A-list. And you know what that means - tony malls, hip galleries and all the right resorts.

Some think the statuettes offer relief in troubled times. Others believe they play into a fondness for kitsch. Still others say they're riding the coattails of books and movies that focus on fantasy.

What were once mere lawn ornaments are now turning up in the most unlikely places.

"They do pop up everywhere," says Julian Hibbard, a photographer who embraces their "cheeky, sort of slightly perverted quality" and is responsible for some of the most exotic sightings.

It was the discovery of a human-size gnome mask that set him off on a photo-snapping spree in South America and ancient English forests.

While his mask photos sell for $800 and $1,200, Hibbard has turned one into a $40 puzzle for gnome-lovers with shallow pockets.

Gnomes are igniting wanderlust in Travelocity's new advertising campaign, which kicked off this year with movie, television and print ads. The online travel site's Roaming Gnome first made an appearance in January. Photos captured him cliff-diving in Mexico, skiing the Alps and dining in Quebec. Since then, he's been reporting back to former owner Bill, offering travel tips in clipped Britishese. 

A recent ad shows him standing beside a froufrou cocktail.

"Order a tropical drink and get a perfectly good umbrella free," he tips.

"He's really loving his experience," says Susan McLaughlin, a company spokeswoman.

Free The Gnomes - lunchboxes and mouse pads

All this gnome activity is good news for retailers like Lillian Vernon. This year, 14,000 of the little guys have marched out of the company's headquarters in Rye, N.Y. Spokesman David Hochberg says sales of the hand-painted statuettes are up 25 percent. He attributes their popularity to the recent movie adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, which spotlights another group of little creatures - hobbits.

Today gnomes usually come in concrete, plastic or English stoneware and in a variety of fanciful poses. On Krupps.com, they range from 8 inches to 3 feet, are priced from $24.95 to $369 and are accompanied by mushrooms, birds, mice, wind chimes, flutes, playing cards or lanterns.

These days, they're as likely to be found with designer handbags, snappy skiwear and Hawaiian drinks. But that doesn't mean life is all fun and frivolity.

Martin Elliott, founder of freethegnomes.com, is more than a little dismayed by the "recent spike in gnome activity."

While some enjoy gnomes for their charm and whimsy and others revel in their kitsch, Elliot considers them "gentle woodland creatures" who must be protected.

Unlike the more militant European-based Garden Gnome Liberation Front, which is responsible for "freeing" - some say stealing - hundreds of gnomes, Elliott prefers "to negotiate for the release" by sending letters to those who sell, display or use them for financial gain. Travelocity is on his list.


Gnomes battle against evil
garden gargoyles!

GNOME LORE

According to gnome mythology, these close cousins to Snow White's dwarfs can live to be 400 years old and rarely marry before 200. They first surfaced in Germany in the early 1800s and migrated to England around 1840, setting up residence on the posh estate of Sir Charles Isham, the 10th Baronet of Lamport Hall.

Perhaps the baronet knew they were no ordinary garden accessories. Gnomes are considered symbols of hope, luck and goodwill.

Travelocity - http://www.travelocity.com

The Travelocity Roaming Gnome site - click here!

More Gnome news at Gnome Tales - http://www.gnometales.com


We asked this French Gnome Liberation
Front spokesgnome for further information,
but he replied in a foreign language!

Kimmel Gnomes - http://www.kimmelgnomes.com

Gnome Books - http://www.foundus.com/jani/gnomes/books.htm

The French Gnome Liberation Front?

July 18, 2004 (eXoNews) - The only true Garden Gnome Liberation Front website remaining above ground is in France and written entirely in French, so if you have a French person handy maybe you can learn more about Gnome Liberation at the link below.

Je ne parle pas français, but aide de Dieu les gnomes! :o)>

Le site officiel du Front de Libération des Nains de Jardins - http://www.flnjfrance.com

Unrelated website - http://freethemonkey.com

Bush In America!
Bush Approval Ratings at Low Levels

WASHINGTON July 18, 2004 (Angola Press) - A latest poll published on Saturday found that US President George W. Bush's approval ratings were at low levels for an incumbent at this point in a presidential campaign, and that for the first time a majority of Americans feel the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. 

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that 48 percent of those surveyed disapproved of the job Bush is doing, against 45 percent approving, a figure that was lightly up from 41 percent in a May poll by CBS News. 

Fifty-five percent of respondents disapproved of the way he is handling foreign policy, and his approval rating on foreign policy stood at 39 percent. 

On Iraq, 51 percent of respondents said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 46 percent in April, May and June, and 45 percent said taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, down slightly from the past several months. 

Sixty-two percent said the war was not worth the loss of American lives and other costs, a figure that has risen steadily over the past few months. 

On the president's handling of Iraq, 37 percent approved and 58 percent disapproved, figures that were little changed from polls in May and June. 

Forty-two percent of those surveyed approved of his handling of the economy, and 51 percent disapproved. 

The poll also found that 41 percent said they strongly favored John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, up 10 percentage points from last month, and 35 percent said they had a favorable opinion and 13 percent an unfavorable opinion about his vice presidential running mate, John Edwards. 

The poll, like other recent polls, found the presidential race to be close. In a head-to-head matchup, the Kerry-Edwards ticket was supported by 49 percent of registered voters, against 44 percent for a Bush-Cheney ticket. In a three-way race, Kerry would receive 45 percent of the support, compared with 42 percent for Bush and 5 percent for independent candidate Ralph Nader. 

The poll of 955 adults, including 823 registered voters, was taken from Sunday through Thursday, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

How would you vote if the election were held now? You don't even have to register or be a US citizen to vote your opinion of the US Candidates in The Peace Poll at http://richlabonte.net/peace 

Bush All Talk No Action on Immigration Reform
By ELIZABETH SHOGREN
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON July 17, 2004 (LA Times) - President Bush calls America "the nation of the open door" and promotes immigration reform, a theme with great appeal for Latino voters. But immigrant and labor organizers said Friday that Bush showed himself to be all talk and no action when he recently helped quash a Republican-sponsored bill to provide farm laborers legal status. 

Last week, the White House asked Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, not to offer an amendment that would pave the way for half a million undocumented farm laborers to earn the right to legal status by working in the fields, according to Craig spokesman Dan Whiting.

"They had a real opportunity to make that rhetoric real ... and they actively worked to deny immigrants an opportunity to come out of the shadows," said Maria Echaveste, Washington, D.C., representative for the United Farm Workers of America.

Craig ignored the White House appeal and attempted to offer the amendment, but Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., blocked all amendments to the underlying bill, which was designed to restrict class-action lawsuits.

Republican and Democratic congressional aides said the White House applied pressure to prevent a vote on Craig's bill, which was supported by 63 senators — including 27 Republicans. They said White House officials were trying to avoid antagonizing the anti-immigrant faction of the Republican base.

Bush Gets Donation from Saddam-linked Businessman

Washington July 17, 2004 (Irish Examiner) - US president George Bush says he will return a Republican campaign donation from an Iraqi-American who had business dealings with Saddam Hussein’s government.

"Due to the seriousness of the allegations and due to President Bush’s strong positions, we felt it appropriate to return the funds," spokeswoman Merrill Smith said.

Federal Election Commission records show that Assad Kalasho, a businessman from West Bloomfield, Michigan, donated €1,950 to Bush’s campaign in July 2003.

A spokesman for Kalasho said Kalasho had done nothing wrong and was not the subject of legal investigations.

"There is just a lot of innuendo and misinformation," spokesman Mark Smith said.

The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday that Kalasho negotiated a €15m deal with the Iraqi government in 2000, when international sanctions prohibited most business dealings with Iraq.

The Republican National Committee was returning a €24,000 cheque it received from Kalasho in May, spokeswoman Heather Layman said. And Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said she would donate the €978 she received last year from Kalasho to "an appropriate charity".

Smith said Kalasho understood the decisions and would continue to support the president.

"We’re happy to take the cheque back and take care of everything on the home front," Smith said. "We’re not going to allow the campaign to be dragged down into a local issue that has no merit."

The Treasury Department, which has investigated some sanctions violators, said Kalasho was not on the list of individuals who had their assets frozen for an investigation.

According to documents obtained by the Free Press, Kalasho arranged satellite broadcasts of Iraqi government television to North and South America until shortly before the Iraq war began in March 2003.

Smith said Kalasho sold his shares in the business and never profited from it.

Associated Press Seeks Bush Military Record

WASHINGTON July 16, 2004 (AP) - The Associated Press asked a federal judge Friday to order the Pentagon to quickly turn over a full copy of President Bush's military service record.

The White House has released partial documentation of Bush's military service in the Texas Air National Guard but has not complied with the news service's Freedom of Information Act request for any record archived at a state library records center in Texas, the AP said in a court filing. 

Records released so far do not put to rest questions over whether Bush fulfilled his National Guard service for a period during the Vietnam War, the AP argued in papers filed in federal court in New York. 

Those records came from federal records clearinghouses. Texas law requires separate record keeping for state National Guard service, and those records should exist on microfilm in Austin, the AP said. 

"A significant, ongoing controversy exists over the president's military service during the Vietnam War, specifically whether he performed his required service between May and October 1972," lawyers for the AP wrote. 

There also are allegations that potentially embarrassing material was removed from Bush's military file in 1997, when he was running for re-election as Texas governor, the AP said. 

"The public has an intense and legitimate interest in knowing the facts concerning the president's military service. Reviewing the microfilm copy of the personnel file at the Texas Records center could well answer the questions that have been raised," the lawyers wrote. 

The news service asked U.S. District Judge Harold Baer to hear arguments in the case and to direct the Pentagon to comply with the FOIA request within three days. 

AP first sought the Texas records in March, and sued the Pentagon in June for not moving more quickly to supply the information. 

The administration has said that military payroll records that could more fully document Bush's whereabouts during his service in the Texas Air National Guard were inadvertently destroyed. Microfilm containing the pertinent National Guard payroll records was damaged and could not be salvaged, according to the administration.

Dog Genome Assembled
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute Press Release

BETHESDA, Md., Wed., July 14, 2004 – The first draft of the dog genome sequence has been deposited into free public databases for use by biomedical and veterinary researchers around the globe, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today. 

A team led by Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, Mass., and Agencourt Bioscience Corp., Beverly, Mass., successfully assembled the genome of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). The breed of dog sequenced was the boxer, which was chosen after analyses of 60 dog breeds found it was one of the breeds with the least amount of variation in its genome and therefore likely to provide the most reliable reference genome sequence. 

The initial assembly is based on seven-fold coverage of the dog genome. The NHGRI-supported researchers are currently comparing the dog and human genome sequences and plan to publish results of their analysis in the next several months. 

The dog genome is similar in size to the genomes of humans and other mammals, containing approximately 2.5 billion DNA base pairs. Due to a long history of selective breeding, many types of dogs are prone to genetic diseases that are difficult to study in humans, such as cancer, heart disease, deafness, blindness and autoimmune disorders. In addition, the dog is an important model for the genetics of behavior and is used extensively in pharmaceutical research. 

To best characterize disease in dogs, it is important to have a sufficient number of markers in the genome. Therefore, in addition to the boxer, nine other dog breeds, four wolves and a coyote were sampled to generate markers that can be used in disease studies in any dog breed. A preliminary set of about 600,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which amounts to a SNP roughly every 5,000 DNA base pairs, is currently being aligned to the released assembly.

The reads used to identify the SNPs are publicly available in NCBI's Trace Archive ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Traces/trace.cgi ) and the SNPs will be available shortly at the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism database, dbSNP ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/SNP ).

Sequencing of the dog genome began in June 2003. NHGRI provided about $30 million in funding for the project to the Broad Institute, which is part of NHGRI's Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network. 

Viewing capabilities also will be available in August at NCBI's Map Viewer - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/mapview

Researchers can access the sequence data through the public databases listed below:

GenBank at NIH's National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) - http://www.ncbi.nih.gov/Genbank

EMBL Bank at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's Nucleotide Sequence Database - www.ebi.ac.uk/embl/index.html

DNA Data Bank of Japan - www.ddbj.nig.ac.jp

The data can also be viewed through the UCSC Genome Browser at the University of California at Santa Cruz - http://www.genome.ucsc.edu

and the Ensembl Genome Browser at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, England - www.ensembl.org

To learn more about the rapidly expanding field of comparative genomic analysis, go to: www.genome.gov/10005835

To download the white paper that outlines the scientific rationale and strategy for sequencing the dog genome, go to: http://www.genome.gov/Pages/Research/Sequencing/SeqProposals/CanineSEQedited.pdf

Whoopi Sacked - Bush Critics Continue to Lash Out
Whoopi Only Latest Bush Censorship Victim
By Anthony Breznican 
Canadian Press 

LOS ANGELES July 17, 2004 (AP) - Some may think Whoopi Goldberg's crack about President George W. Bush was no big whoop. But in the latest case of celebrity censure over political remarks, Slim-Fast cut Goldberg out like carbs. 

The diet giant dropped the comedy queen from its advertising campaign because the company's executives were unhappy with anti-Bush remarks Goldberg made at a recent political rally. 

"While I can appreciate what the Slim-Fast people need to do in order to protect their business, I must also do what I need to do as an artist, as a writer and as an American - not to mention as a comic," Goldberg said in a statement Thursday. "It's unfortunate that, in this country, the two cannot mesh." 

Goldberg declined to be interviewed for this story. 

She shouldn't have been surprised by the backlash. Corporate groups - from the Baseball Hall of Fame to Disney and Fahrenheit 9/11 - have taken a back-hand to politically inflammatory stars. 

Goldberg participated at a recent Democratic fundraiser at Radio City Music Hall in New York, joining performers such as John Mellencamp, Jon Bon Jovi, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and John Leguizamo. 

At one point in a speech mocking the Bush administration, Goldberg used his surname as a sexual reference. 

The rally in question raised $7.5 million US for the John Kerry-John Edwards presidential ticket. Both Kerry and Edwards attended, but neither commented about the jokes made by the celebrities toward Bush. 

The Slim-Fast Foods Co. is based in West Palm Beach, Fla., where President Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor. 

The company's decision to drop Goldberg likely has more to do with consumer complaints than the politics of the executives. Slim-Fast is run by S. Daniel Abraham, who has donated large sums to the Democratic party. 

"The conundrum here is advertisers like to be associated with hot stars, but they can't stand the heat," said show-business historian Tom O'Neil, author of The Emmys and Movie Awards. "Stars become hot because they are anti-establishment, they are rebels. The sponsors are the establishment, so they hired these people and then minute they open their mouths, they drop them." 

"The biggest shock is that Slim-Fast didn't recognize what a Bush-basher (Goldberg) has been for years," he added. 

The Walt Disney Co. refused to release Michael Moore's hot-button critique Fahrenheit 9/11, with Disney CEO Michael Eisner saying that the company "did not want a film in the middle of the political process" because he believed that theme park and entertainment consumers "do not look for us to take sides." 

Fahrenheit 9/11 was distributed independently after Miramax chiefs Bob and Harvey Weinstein bought the rights from parent company Disney. 

And in the past year, the Cumulus radio chain temporarily banned airplay of the Dixie Chicks on some stations after lead singer Natalie Maines disparaged Bush at a concert. 

Last year, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., scrapped an event for the 15th anniversary of the popular baseball movie Bull Durham because of the antiwar stance of stars Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. 

Historically, corporate backlashes are not limited to left-leaning celebrities. More than 25 years ago, singing beauty-queen Anita Bryant lost her job as a spokeswoman for Florida orange juice after she mounted a crusade against gay rights. 

Still, left-wing stars seem to be more likely to draw criticism now, especially from the conservative commentators who rally viewers to speak out. 

"In the reality in which we live, there is a 24-hour cable news channel and I don't think anyone would argue Fox is the noisiest," said Gregg Kilday, film editor of the Hollywood Reporter. "One of its favorite ways to fill time is bashing Hollywood celebrities who take liberal positions, and there really isn't any kind of parallel organization on the left." 

[Oooh! My, my! Please don't let the Republicans get mad at me, lord! Remember what happened the last time politicians tried to stifle dissent in this country? We all just marched on DC a few times and they faded away. Big money breeds censorship. Remember this, Mr. Politician: "If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter." - George Washington. US president, general. (1732-1799) Ed.]

Gere Attacks Bush Sex Policies

Bangkok July 18, 2004 (Irish Examiner) - Hollywood heart-throb Richard Gere launched a scathing attack on American President George W Bush's attitude to sex education in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The passionate actor was speaking at the 15th International Aids conference in the Thai capital, after visiting India the previous week with his younger brother David to highlight the Aids epidemic.

Gere took the opportunity to attack Bush's unrealistic approach to sex education after the president proposed in the 2005 budget that $270m (€216.8m) should be put into funding programs which dissuade teenagers from having sex.

During his time as Governor of Texas from 1995 until 2000, Bush ensured sex education in schools taught that abstinence was the only way to protect teens from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy.

Since Bush's abstinence only policy came into force, Texas' teen pregnancy rate - one of the highest in America - has remained the same, while the amount of STDs amongst Texan youths has risen.

Gere fumes: "The most important issue is this one, to this planet, to this time and place is AIDS. We may well have hopefully another administration in about four months in the US and along with that some sanity on this subject."

Gere added the billions of dollars spent on the Iraq campaign, "probably could have eradicated this illness."

Republicans Get Free Fahrenheit 
By DAN LEWERENZ
Associated Press Writer

LEWISBURG PA July 18, 2004 (AP) - Maurice Brubaker probably wouldn't have gone to see "Fahrenheit 9/11" on his own, but free admission helped change the Republican's mind. Brubaker, chairman of the Bush/Cheney campaign team in Union County, was among at least 40 people who went to the Campus Theatre on Saturday to take advantage of a free showing for card-carrying GOP members. 

"I don't think you can consider it a documentary, because I don't think both sides were represented," Brubaker said of the Michael Moore film that criticizes the Bush administration's response to the Sept. 11 attacks. 

"I don't think this movie would have been made if Al Gore had been elected president, and I don't think Al Gore could have stopped what happened on Sept. 11. I don't think anyone could," Brubaker said. 

Eric Faden, executive director of the nonprofit theater, offered the free showing to encourage an informed discussion of the movie between conservatives and liberals. Fewer than 50 seats in the 500-seat theater were filled, but Faden, down $280, said he was happy with the turnout. 

"For a film in its fourth week of release, in a small rural county, to have that many people show up is fantastic," Faden said. "This is what we wanted ... people from all sides to see the movie so that there would be an informed debate." 

One Republican insisted on buying his ticket, as did eight other people who did not show GOP identification. 

Mary Wilt, 87, tried to get several Republican friends to come with her, but they all turned her down. After seeing it, she called the movie "the dumbest thing I've ever seen." 

But another Republican, Douglas Reed, described the film as thought-provoking and interesting. 

"It had some good points, but I didn't always agree with the way those points were made," the Army veteran said. 

Lewisburg is about 120 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Elton Slams Bullying Bush

New York July 17, 2004 (Irish Examiner) - Elton John has hit out at the "bullying tactics" used by the US government to stop artistic dissent.

The millionaire singer said entertainers who criticized the Bush administration or its policy on the Iraq war risked damage to their careers.

"There’s an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious. They’re all too scared," he said.

Speaking to the New York magazine Interview, Elton said: "Things have changed. I don’t know if there’s been a time when the fear factor played such an important role in America since McCarthyism in the 1950s, as it does now."

The singer said things were different in the 1960s when: "People like Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, The Beatles and Pete Seeger were constantly writing and talking about what was going on."

"That’s not happening now. As of this spring, there have been virtually no anti-war concerts – or anti-war songs that catch on, for that matter," he said.

Elton said performers could be put off speaking out because it might be that they are "frightened by the current administration’s bullying tactics when it comes to free speech".

He added: "There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn’t say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American."

He singled out the country singer Toby Keith and the band The Dixie Chicks as two examples of the way pro- and anti-Bush opinions were received.

"On the one hand, you have someone like Toby Keith, who has come out and been very supportive of the Bush administration and the war in Iraq – which is OK because America is a democracy and Toby Keith is entitled to say what he thinks and feels.

"But, on the other hand, the Dixie Chicks got shot down in flames last year for criticizing the president. They were treated like they were being un-American, when in fact they have every right to say whatever they want about him because he’s freely elected, and therefore accountable."

Elton John is in New York playing a series of concerts.

Earth's Acid Seas
UNESCO Press Release

July 16, 2004 - The world’s oceans are absorbing an unprecedented amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is increasing their acidity and possibly threatening the long-term survival of many marine species, especially calcifying organisms including corals, shellfish and phytoplankton.

According to research presented recently at a symposium organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the International Council for Science’s Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), this in turn could disrupt marine food chains and alter ocean biogeochemistry in ways that are not yet understood or predictable. 

The symposium brought together scientists from the world’s leading oceanographic institutions to discuss how the ocean might be affected by higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and to develop research priorities to study these future effects.

They were also called upon to discuss potential environmental consequences of proposals to use the ocean to sequester excess atmospheric CO2, which is one of the most important greenhouse gases. 

A report on the meeting’s conclusions, now available online*, points out that the ocean is one of the Earth’s largest natural reservoirs of carbon and each year absorbs approximately one third of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activities.

According to research** led by Christopher Sabine of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States (NOAA, an IOC Member State Agency)* the ocean has taken up approximately 120 billion metric tons of carbon generated by human activities since 1800. The IOC reports that some 20-25 million tons of CO2 are being are being added to the oceans each day. 

The absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans is considered a beneficial process that reduces the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and mitigates its impact on global temperatures. However there is growing concern over the price of this service.

For the symposium participants, it is now well established that by the middle of this century, the accumulating burden of CO2 entering the ocean will lead to changes in pH or acidity of the upper layers that are three times greater in magnitude and 100 times faster than those experienced between ice ages. Such dramatic changes in the CO2 system in open-ocean surface waters have not been observed for more than 20 million years of earth’s history, concluded the meeting. 

The initial findings of limited observation, research and modeling conducted to date and presented to the symposium indicate that in a high CO2 world: 

· the ocean would be more acidic globally, and would also be more stratified in the high latitudes. In addition nutrient concentrations in surface waters of high-latitude regions would be lower, subsurface waters would be less oxygenated, and phytoplankton would experience increased exposure to sunlight. These changes would affect many species and change the composition of biological communities in ways that are not yet understood or predictable. 

· many calcifying organisms, including certain species of plankton and corals, and also non-calcifying organisms, would be unable to grow and reproduce effectively at higher CO2 and lower pH levels. Rising temperatures – combined with elevated CO2 and decreasing pH – pose a serious threat to coral reefs, possibly leading to the elimination of some reefs by the end of this century. 

Participants at the symposium stressed that although the impact of climate change on the ocean has been much debated, the direct chemical and biological impact of CO2 itself has largely been neglected. However, they concluded, changes are clearly underway and their effects may be large and may seriously destabilize marine ecosystems.

Their report signals the need for more research and identifies research priorities, in a bid to increase understanding of the changes taking place and their consequences, and to allow for more informed policy decisions in this area.

*The report is accessible on the internet at http://ioc.unesco.org/iocweb/co2panel/HighOceanCO2.htm

** A report on Dr. Sabine’s research and findings appears in the July 15 edition of Science magazine, along with a report from fellow NOAA scientist and participant at the UNESCO meeting, Dr. Richard Feely - http://www.sciencemag.org 
Navy Sonar Use Continues to Kill Whales
LOS ANGELES July 16, 2004 (Reuters) — Animal welfare groups Thursday threatened to sue the U.S. Navy over the use of mid-frequency sonar linked to mass whale strandings, internal bleeding, and death.

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a coalition of three other environmental groups sent a letter Wednesday to Navy Secretary Gordon England saying they would go to court unless the Navy agreed to curb the practice.

The coalition says that mid-frequency, high intensity sonar systems used on 60 percent of Navy ships and submarines to detect enemy submarines interferes with the ability of marine mammals to navigate, find food, avoid predators, and communicate with each other.

"Without reasonable limits, the proliferation of high intensity sonar will cause excruciating pain, injury, and death for an increasing number of marine mammals," said Frederick O'Regan, president of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

A Navy spokesman in Washington, D.C., said the letter would be "carefully reviewed and considered" and noted that the Navy already has several programs aimed at protecting marine mammals.

The letter was prompted by what the coalition called a stampede of about 200 melon-headed whales during a U.S.-Japanese naval training exercise off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai two weeks ago.

The pod of normally deep-water whales crowded into shallow waters near the shore in such chaos that one of the whales was stranded and died. The warships shut off their sonar on learning of the stampede, but the coalition said the exact sequence of events was unclear.

The letter cited 10 cases of mass stranding and whale deaths associated with mid-frequency sonar in the last nine years in places ranging from Greece to the Canary Islands.

Citing the journal Nature, the coalition said that intense sonar blasts can give marine mammals decompression sickness similar to "the bends" sometimes experienced by surfacing divers. Post-mortem examinations on some whales exposed to sonar showed hemorrhaging around the ears and the larynx.

Last year the Navy agreed to scale back the use of a different kind of sonar system using low-frequency waves after losing a lawsuit brought by the coalition under endangered species and marine mammal protection legislation.

The coalition said the Navy's use of mid-frequency sonar violated the same laws but on a much larger scale.

"We'd rather not resort to litigation, so we are once again asking the Navy to sit down to discuss this in a spirit of co-operation," said NRDC lawyer Joel Reynolds.
Moving Asteroids?
European Space Agency Press Release

July 14, 2004 - On 9 July 2004, the Near-Earth Object Mission Advisory Panel recommended that ESA place a high priority on developing a mission to actually move an asteroid. The conclusion was based on the panel’s consideration of six near-Earth object mission studies submitted to the Agency in February 2003.

Of the six studies, three were space-based observatories for detecting NEOs and three were rendezvous missions. All addressed the growing realization of the threat posed by Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and proposed ways of detecting NEOs or discovering more about them from a close distance.

A panel of six experts, known as the Near-Earth Object Mission Advisory Panel (NEOMAP) assessed the proposals. Alan Harris, German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Berlin, and Chairman of NEOMAP, says, “The task has been very difficult because the goalposts have changed. When the studies were commissioned, the discovery business was in no way as advanced as it is now. Today, a number of organizations are building large telescopes on Earth that promise to find a very large percentage of the NEO population at even smaller sizes than visible today.”

As a result, the panel decided that ESA should leave detection to ground-based telescopes for the time being, until the share of the remaining population not visible from the ground becomes better known. The need for a space-based observatory will then be re-assessed. The panel placed its highest priority on rendezvous missions, and in particular, the Don Quijote mission concept. “If you think about the chain of events between detecting a hazardous object and doing something about it, there is one area in which we have no experience at all and that is in directly interacting with an asteroid, trying to alter its orbit,” explains Harris.

The Don Quijote mission concept will do this by using two spacecraft, Sancho and Hidalgo. Both are launched at the same time but Sancho takes a faster route. When it arrives at the target asteroid it will begin a seven-month campaign of observation and physical characterization during which it will land penetrators and seismometers on the asteroid’s surface to understand its internal structure.

Sancho will then watch as Hidalgo arrives and smashes into the asteroid at very high speed. This will provide information about the behavior of the internal structure of the asteroid during an impact event as well as excavating some of the interior for Sancho to observe. After the impact, Sancho and telescopes from Earth will monitor the asteroid to see how its orbit and rotation have been affected.

Harris says, “When we do actually find a hazardous asteroid, you could imagine a Don Quijote-type mission as a precursor to a mitigation mission. It will tell us how the target responds to an impact and will help us to develop a much more effective mitigation mission.”

On 9 July, the findings were presented to the scientific and industrial community. Representatives of other national space agencies were also invited in the hope that they will be interested in developing a joint mission, based around this concept.

Andrés Galvez, ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team and technical officer for the NEOMAP report says, “This report gives us a solid foundation to define programmatic priorities and an implementation strategy, in which I also hope we are joined by international partners”.

With international cooperation, a mission could be launched as early as 2010-2015.

Genre News: Star Trek: New Voyages, Lois Lane, Angel, Popeye, Atlantis, Wicked West, Monty Python & More!
Star Trek: New Voyages Due in August
By FLAtRich

July 18, 2004 (eXoNews) - This August, the USS Enterprise will be lost with all hands!

No, UPN hasn't changed its mind and shoved the cast of Star Trek: Enterprise out an airlock. As many of you may have already come to suspect, Paramount and UPN actually have little to do with what's really happening in the Federation.

Now we can look to the past with Cow Creek Films for a hope of a better Roddenberry future, and Cow Creek's intrepid band of renegade Trekkers is back on the web with a brand new Star Trek episode next month.

Imagine, if you will, a Star Trek where Mr. Spock is young and not played by Leonard Nimoy! Blasphemy? A Romulan plot?

No, it's Star Trek: New Voyages!

The second episode of STNV, In Harm's Way, is now orbiting post-production and the "teaser trailer" is available for download on the Official New Voyages site in Windows Media Player (7MB) and High Quality Divx (30MB) formats.

And it is fascinating, Jim. Boldly commanded by James Cawley as Kirk, the original crew of the Enterprise returns looking better than ever.

Series Director/Executive Producer Jack Marshall explains the New Voyages project on the official site board:

"We believe in the type of future envisioned by Gene Roddenberry. We love TOS in varying degrees as it means something different to each of us.

"New Voyages" is our vision of Star Trek. A Star Trek set in the 23rd century and created in the 21st. It's a Star Trek with a familiar look, a familiar crew, but something new, and we think, something special...

"New Voyages is not the Trek of the 60's. It is the Trek of the future; a Trek that looks as modern and flows as fast as any action adventure show on TV today."

The trailer moves fast with spectacular effects. It's easy to see that this new blast from the past future is a million light years ahead of that worn Nazi alien cliché Berman saddled to Star Trek: Enterprise at the end of season three.

Take heart, Porthos. There's hope for the Federation after all!

Download the In Harm's Way trailer now at http://www.5yearmission.com

International Federation of Trekkers - http://www.IFTcommand.com

[I think I got the names right this time, Linda :o)> Ed.]

Emmys 2004 - An Exclusive Club
By FLAtRich

Hollywood July 18, 2004 (eXoNews) - The Emmy Nominations were announced last Thursday. Sopranos' Edie Falco and Monk's Tony Shalhoub assisted in the announcements. Fairly cool to have Mr. Monk in on that, (Monk did pick up four nominations this year - Sopranos got 20), but hyping the announcements is typical of the Emmys.

Who really cares? As in previous years, The Primetime Emmy Awards remain an exclusive club reserved for highest rating scorers and therefore biggest advertising returns. Rabid fan favorite Angel got no nominations from the Television Academy despite sweeping the Saturn Awards this year. (Anyone can join and vote in the Saturns for $50. Did you really expect more from the professional side of TV?)

Happily, at least some of TV's biggest sellers were really among the best programs last season.

Angels In America, a play turned star-studded pay-cable mini series got the most nominations (twenty-one in all, one more than the Sopranos, also a pay-cable series.) It was about AIDS and reportedly directed by Mike Nichols and starred Al Pacino and Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson among the firmaments, but I don't do pay cable so I didn't see it. Can't afford it. Members of the Television Academy can. I wonder if AIDS patients can. Oh, well. Maybe they'd rather watch Gilmore Girls or Survivor.

The West Wing got 12 nominations. In a way, this should be a cheering thought to genre fans. As has been noted by other TV writers, The West Wing is essentially set in an alternate reality and is thereby science fiction. On the other hand, The West Wing, which led the 9PM Wednesday timeslot most of the season, helped kill Angel. OK, cheering bad. 

Deadwood and Sex In The City tied with 11 nominations. Both pay cable, although ordinary folk can watch censored episodes of Sex on basic cable in reruns now. Kind of like having sex without the orgasm. You won't get to see Kim Cattrall's nude firehouse scene, which is the only episode I remember from Sex In The City.

(I didn't say that I never had pay cable, I just dropped it because they keep repeating the same movies year after year and because formula shows like Sex In The City and Sopranos get pretty boring after the first couple of seasons.)

Arrested Development, a Fox show that nobody watched and the critics loved, got seven nominations. I didn't watch it either and when I went back to see the first two episodes in reruns I learned that sometimes viewers can be right and TV critics can be boringly wrong. I didn't laugh much at Arrested Development and I don't care what happens to it.

Ike: Countdown To D-Day, starring Tom Selleck as Dwight Eisenhower, got six nominations. FINALLY something I watched this year and liked! In typical Emmy fashion, one of the nominations was for best hairstyling. Yes, somebody got nominated for shaving Tom's head. Doesn't matter, though. It was an excellent movie, you didn't need HBO to see it, and Tom Selleck proved once again that he is more than just a pretty face. (But don't stop doing westerns, Tom. We still like you on a horse.)

A&E In Concert: Paul McCartney In Red Square and Nip/Tuck both got five nominations. FINALLY a series that I watched weekly. FINALLY a music special that I liked! You probably watch Nip/Tuck, but if you missed Paul in Red Square do try to catch it next time around. Delightful stuff, old boy.

Monk and Star Trek: Enterprise both got four nominations, but don't get your hopes up, genre writers. While Tony Shalhoub did get a nomination for best Actor in a Comedy Series, nobody nominated Enterprise or Monk for writing or directing. Enterprise did get a music nomination. A&E's Horatio Hornblower series also got four nominations. That was one another good one you might want to catch the next time around.

Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness and Joan of Arcadia got three nominations apiece. Amber Tamblyn did get a Best Actress nomination for Joan and Helen Mirren did get one for Prime Suspect. Maybe there is a little justice in the Television Academy after all, as these two series would never fly without these two actresses. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart also got three, so there's some real humor left too. (I watch The Daily Show regularly, of course.)

Some other deserving nominees this year (and everybody in this industry deserves a medal, just for surviving) include Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Inside The Actors Studio, Stargate SG-1 and Whoopi. Not to mention William Shatner for The Practice! 

But generally the major nominations went to the usual winners from last year (Fraser, etc.), who will probably win again this year, etc.

I don't care what color tie Kelsey Grammer wears, so I make it a point to boycott the Emmys. I won't be watching when this year's Emmys are televised on ABC, September 19th from the Shrine Auditorium.

In fact, I might just go to the movies that night.

Lois and Smallville Yes - Angel Maybe
By FLAtRich

Hollywood July 18, 2004 (eXoNews) - Michael Ausiello reports in a recent TV Guide Online Insider column that Smallville's newest cast member will be Erica Durance as Lois Lane. Miss Durance is a Canadian actress who has appeared in minor roles on Tru Calling and Andromeda, but she is newbie enough not to be listed in the Internet Movie Database (yet.)

Playing opposite Smallville star Tom Welling may not be the biggest thrill for Durance on one of the WB's two remaining genre series. "I saw all the 'Superman' movies and I was in love with Christopher Reeve," Erica told the NY Post. Former Superman Reeve now guests semi-regularly on Smallville as a scientist who knows Clark's super secret.

According to the Post article, Durance is 26, read Superman comics as a kid, and grew up in a real-life Smallville in Three Hills, Alberta (population 3,541.)

According to Zap2it, Lois will not be allowed to meet Lex Luther (Michael Rosenbaum) in Smallville.

It seems the Superman movie franchise has dibs on Lois and Lex's first meeting. WB chairman Garth Ancier is quoted on the Lois-Lex rule:

"If you bring Lois Lane in, can Lois Lane meet Lex Luthor? The answer is no, they can't meet, because they'll meet for the first time in the movie when he's an adult."

This despite the latest fracas over the "new" 2006 Warner Brothers Superman movie, which once again has no star and no director. Most recent candidates in those super roles were Jason Behr and McG respectively. McG has dropped out of the Superman movie project twice now.

Hey! I've got an idea. How about forgetting the invisible Superman remake and shooting a Smallville feature film instead! That way Lex and Lois can do whatever they want to do. Isn't it time for somebody to ask the fans what they think?

TV Guide's Ausiello reports that WB also says Smallville's star will fly this season - sort of. Chairman Ancier clarified the no-cape super kid's take-off by saying: "The way I understand it, it will be Tom Welling flying, but the actual character will be Kal-El, who is bad Clark."

There was a rumor last season that David Boreanaz was testing for the Superman movie. Nothing to do with the above, but it makes for a good segue. 

WB Chairman Ancier also confirmed last week that WB's lost vampire Angel might still be around if 20th Century Fox (Angel's production studio) hadn't pressured the WB to make an early decision on renewal and that the WB still wants to do special Angel TV movies if they can get David Boreanaz to sign on.

Too late for regrets, Mr. Chairman.

Post-Angel interviews with Boreanaz indicate that he was relieved the series ended on a high-note and was planning to stay home with his new kid for a while. Boreanaz did not see any Angel movies coming in the near future, and neither did Angel boss Joss Whedon, who is busy making the feature Firefly film Serenity for Universal.

Angel fans are not likely to let sleeping vamps lie, however.

Smallville Official - http://www.thewb.com/Shows/Show/0,7353,||126,00.html

Saving Angel - http://www.savingangel.org

UPDATE 07/19/04 - Variety and Hollywood Reporter now say that X-Men director Bryan Singer has inked to direct Superman for Warners. We'll believe it when we see it! Ed.

Popeye Lives!

LOS ANGELES July 16, 2004 (Zap2it.com) Everybody's favorite spinach-eating, pipe-smoking, Bluto-bashing, Swee'pea-raising sailor man is set to make a return to television this winter. FOX has scheduled the half-hour special "Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy" for Sunday, Dec. 19.

The half-hour episode will feature many of the most popular characters from the classic cartoon including Olive Oyl and Wimpy as the sailor travels across the Sea of Mystery to rescue is ornery Pappy.

This, however, isn't your grandfather's Popeye, or even your father's Popeye.

In updating the franchise for a new generation, King Features Syndicate has allowed the character to become computer animated courtesy of Mainframe Entertainment, which animated the most recent incarnation of Spider-Man. The newly 3-D sailor will also have a new theme song by Devo veteran Mark Mothersbaugh.

The episode was co-written by Paul Reiser ("Mad About You"), a lifelong Popeye fan.

In addition to the participation of Mothersbaugh and Reiser, the producers were able to attract acclaimed voice actor Billy West to play Popeye. West is best known for his multiple roles on "Futurama," but can also be heard on "Ren & Stimpy" and as the Red M&M.

He'll be joined by Oscar winner Kathy Bates, who lends her voice to the Sea Hag, who tries to prevent Popeye from reaching his father.

[Apparently last year's reports of Popeye's suicide death were greatly exaggerated. In fact, we exaggerated them right here in eXoNews. Gee, Popeye. Ed.]

Beowulf
By Borys Kit 

LOS ANGELES July 16, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - One of the oldest poems in English literature is being turned into a Hollywood movie. 

"Beowulf," the epic tale of man vs. monster, is set up at Warner Bros., and will be written by rookie scribe Matthew Sand, a former SoHo art dealer with a background in art history. 

Written in Old English and dating back to the eighth century, the blood-soaked poem tells the tale of Beowulf of the Geats, who is called to slay Grendel, a monster that is attacking a Danish kingdom. After defeating Grendel, Beowulf slays Grendel's mother and then clashes with a dragon. The poem is known to have been an influence on J.R.R. Tolkien, author of "The Lord of the Rings." 

"My take is that this is the first horror story," said Sand. "The first action stories included 'The Iliad' and 'Gilgamesh,' but this is the first time you had a creature coming out of the darkness and breaking into your home at night. It's the genesis of so many of the horror archetypes we see today."

Atlantis Rises

Vancouver July 15, 2004 (Sci Fi Wire) - Robert C. Cooper, executive producer of SCI FI Channel's upcoming original series Stargate Atlantis, told SCI FI Wire that the show will be more than simply a rehash of its predecessor series, Stargate SG-1.

"We want to appeal to the audience of SG-1, and we wanted to capitalize on what we feel has made SG-1 a success and made it this long-running show," Cooper said in an interview during a break in filming on the show's set outside Vancouver, B.C. "And yet we also wanted it to feel like it wasn't SG-2, that it's a new show."

Originally, Atlantis was designed to replace SG-1 once it left the air, Cooper said. "There was a plan to basically have SG-1 come to a close as a television series and maybe roll into a series of feature films, and have that be more of a passing of the baton into the new series," he said.

"But SCI FI asked us to do season eight [of SG-1] and season one of Atlantis at the same time. So that caused us to rethink the concept a little bit for the spinoff series, so that it would exist at the same time."

As a result, Cooper and his team of writers opted to ship the Atlantis team of explorers to the distant Pegasus galaxy, where they discover the lost city of Atlantis—but also find that they can't return to Earth.

"I think that made the spinoff series better, made it stand alone a little bit more," Cooper said. "We decided to set it in a different galaxy, which allowed us to kind of wipe the slate clean and meant that the new team of heroes wasn't going to be running into the same old enemies or crossing over … with SG-1. We didn't want people to wonder, 'Well, why isn't SG-1 coming to save the day?' … And there was also something about why hadn't we discovered where the lost city was? And the fact that it was moved to a whole other galaxy, and there's this other new frontier, so to speak: a whole new network of Stargates that you can't really connect … easily with from the network in our galaxy. And then coming up with a different enemy: That ultimately … set the tone for the show."

The new enemy is the Wraith.

"All of the planets we visit are cultures that are shaped by the Wraith and the context of having this enemy," Cooper said.

"In many ways, the tone of SG-1 was set by the fact that the Goa'uld had taken people from various times in Earth's history and transplanted them in other galaxies, and we kind of went around finding these little pockets of ancient culture.

"The cultures in the Pegasus galaxy are all being shaped by how they've dealt with the overriding presence of the Wraith." 

Stargate Atlantis premiered with a two-hour episode, "Rising," at 9 p.m. ET/PT on July 16. Reruns will be forthcoming, of course.

Official Stargate Atlantis - http://www.scifi.com/atlantis

Unofficial - http://www.stargate--atlantis.com

Enterprise Time Warp

LOS ANGELES July 14, 2004 (Zap2it.com) "Star Trek" fans will be able to move on to their more exciting Friday night activities an hour early this fall, thanks to a small scheduling swap by UPN.

The netlet has moved new episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise" up to 8 p.m. ET on Friday nights and slipped rebroadcasts of the third season of "America's Next Top Model" to the 9 p.m. slot.

UPN plans to acclimate Trekkies to the new time slot with summer rebroadcasts of "Enterprise" moving to 8 p.m. starting on Aug. 6. 

The 9 p.m. hour was populated by such testosterone-heavy shows as CBS' "JAG" and NBC's "Third Watch," as well as FOX's midseason addition "Jonny Zero," leaving 8 p.m. a more friendly home for "Enterprise." Similarly, the "Next Top Model" repeats could befit from the shift away from female-skewing offerings like "Joan of Arcadia" and "What I Like About You."

Airing on Wednesday nights last fall, "Enterprise" averaged only 3.28 million viewers a week. In its eight Wednesday encores this spring, "America's Next Top Model" attracted an average of 2.89 million viewers. Both audiences would represent a dramatic improvement for UPN, which aired a motley assortment of movies on Friday night, pulling in an average crowd of 2.18 million.

[No big risk for UPN. Reportedly the "UnPopular Network" only ordered 12 episodes of Enterprise for season 4. Ed.]

Star Trek Official - http://www.startrek.com

Fox Denies Copying TV Ideas
By Ben Berkowitz 

LOS ANGELES July 15, 2004 (Reuters) - Broadcaster Fox, stung by criticism from rival television networks that it is copying their ideas for new reality shows, shot back on Thursday, calling such accusations by rival network executives "baseless" and "unacceptable." 

In a presentation to television critics at their annual summer meeting, Gail Berman, president of entertainment for Fox, said her network was not doing anything different than what was usual in the business. 

"Just like scripted programming, the unscripted world has reached a point where multiple projects with similar themes are being pitched simultaneously," Berman said. "There is no need to defend ourselves. The baseless allegations of theft and extortion are outrageous and unacceptable." 

Last Saturday, NBC Universal Television Group head Jeff Zucker said Fox's practices were bad for the industry and said it had gone from being an innovator to being an imitator. 

Earlier this week, ABC Primetime President Stephen McPherson also warned creative executives that Fox would steal their ideas. 

After NBC announced a new boxing reality series featuring Sugar Ray Leonard, Fox unveiled its own with Oscar de la Hoya. Similarly, after ABC said it would have a spouse-swapping show, Fox announced its own mate-switching program and now plans to launch that show well ahead of ABC's program. 

But Berman said Fox started development on its spouses show assuming that ABC's would have already run last spring. As for its boxing program, Berman said they were hardly alone. 

"I think it's important that you know there were five other boxing shows pitched around town after they pitched their show," she said, adding that they tried to buy what became NBC's "The Contender" before settling on their series. 

"This is the way television works. There's nothing new about this. This is a competitive business," Berman said. 

MIXED SUMMER RECORD 

Fox -- more so than the other networks -- has been aggressive about moving to a year-round schedule, launching a whole new slate of shows last month for summer runs. 

Part of that push is rooted in the network's unique scheduling problem -- much of its regular prime-time programming is preempted in October for the Major League Baseball playoffs. In years past, that has meant premiering new shows during the highly competitive "sweeps" ratings periods. 

Some of the new season's programs, like the socialite reality series "The Simple Life 2" and the sitcom "Quintuplets" have been hits, while others like courtroom drama "The Jury" and reality series "The Casino" have faltered. 

"The results of this new 52-week schedule so far have been mixed but encouraging," she said. "We think we'll be better off post-baseball than we ever have been before." 

In particular Berman said the network would bring "Quintuplets" back in the fall and said Fox was negotiating with Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie for more installments of "The Simple Life." 

The network's prize series, "American Idol," will return for its fourth installment in January, and Berman said to expect only minor changes, like raising the upper end of the age-eligibility range to 28 from 25.

Will Says Robots Will

LOS ANGELES July 15, 2004 (AP) - Will Smith figures robots will take over many domestic and menial tasks for humans. He just doesn't expect them to look much like his humanoidlike machine co-stars in the new film "I, Robot." 

Smith, 35, plays a detective in 2035 who suspects a robot has murdered the reclusive scientist responsible for technological innovations that have populated the world with machine servants vaguely resembling humans. 

In real life, though, humans have a psychological barrier against machines that look like themselves, Smith said. 

"Technology is heading away from that, because people don't respond well to human-looking robots, especially if they're over 4 feet," Smith told The Associated Press in an interview last week promoting "I, Robot," which opens Friday. 

"Humankind, we don't react well to the idea that there's somebody bigger than us that thinks on their own."

The Wicked West
Image Comics Press Release

Orange CA July 8, 2004 - Image Comics is pleased to announce the October release of THE WICKED WEST -- the new graphic novel written by Todd Livingston and Robert Tinnell, with art by Neil Vokes.

The trio are the creators of THE BLACK FOREST, an original graphic novel released by Image this past April.

In THE WICKED WEST, Cotton Coleridge is a man on the run from his past. His attempts to settle in a small Texas frontier town are destroyed when the town comes under assault from vampires.

And soon he finds himself fighting off hordes of the Undead.

Asked to describe the project co-writer Todd Livingston says, "Imagine the Outlaw Josey Wales riding into Salem’s Lot. That’s a pretty accurate take on the basic story – though there’s a lot more to it than that!"

"If you loved THE BLACK FOREST you’ll love THE WICKED WEST," says Livingston, "And Neil’s work is going to be every bit as jaw-dropping here as it was in TBF – in fact, I’d say it’s even moreso."

Amid strong critical reviews, THE BLACK FOREST sold out in just a few weeks and is now going into second printing. Randy Lander of thefourthrail.com called it "…a ripping yarn, mixing pulp adventure and spooky horror in equal measure…" while Glenn Walker of Comic Widows pronounce the book "brilliant."

ReelArt Studios recently announced a line of busts based on the book’s characters.

"Our goal with THE WICKED WEST," said co-writer Robert Tinnell, "is a continuation of our efforts on THE BLACK FOREST. Namely, to deliver a quality book for a reasonable price."

To prove the point, THE WICKED WEST will be 96 pages, in color, for only $9.95.

"As successful as THE BLACK FOREST was, we still feel we have to earn the respect of the fans. That’s why we’re willing to take a chance with such a low cover price."

THE WICKED WEST will be available for order in the August issue of PREVIEWS and will go on sale this October.

Image Comics is a comics and graphic novels publisher formed in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Since that time, Image has gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. There are currently four partners in Image Comics (Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino), and Image is currently divided into three major houses (Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions and Image Central).

Image comics and graphic novels cover nearly every genre, sub-genre and style imaginable, offering science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today.

Visit www.imagecomics.com  for more information.

WB Network Hopes to Lure Older Viewers
By Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES July 15, 2004 (Hollywood Reporter) - The WB Network, coming off a ratings slide last season, will shake things up this fall to make sure it "doesn't look the same every hour you turn it on," its top executive said Wednesday. 

To that end, the home of "Smallville" and "7th Heaven" is looking to shed its decade-old image as a teen angst network. While its target audience will continue to be people aged 12-34, it will welcome older viewers too, WB Chairman Garth Ancier said. 

"I think to the degree that we have presented ourselves as just a teenage network, that's a very large mistake on our part," he said during the WB's portion of the summer Television Critics Assn. press tour. 

The decor in the Century Plaza Hotel ballroom where the session was held signaled the new desire, with such actors as Christine Lahti ("Jack & Bobby") and Gerald McRaney ("Commando Nanny") featured as prominently on billboards as the WB's fresh-faced stars, including Chad Michael Murray ("One Tree Hill") and Matt Long ("Jack & Bobby"). 

Ancier also reiterated the network's mistake last season of being "a bit late to the party" on reality programming. The WB will try to change that with its upcoming slate of reality projects, which includes "Big Man on Campus" and "Wannabes." 

"On the other side of the slate, I think we probably got a bit stale as a network, in terms of being a little derivative of the shows we were putting on the air," Ancier said. 

Ancier admitted that the network "may have crossed the line" with its "American Idol" spoof "Superstar," featuring a lineup of talent-free contestants. 

The WB's fall schedule will launch between Sept. 12-22.

[Right. Can't see why older viewers wouldn't want to see Gerald McRaney and Christine Lahti. (Who are they, again? The names are familiar.) And all we need is more reality crap. Face it. Network TV is gonna mostly suck this fall. Ed.]

Monty Python on Broadway!

NEW YORK July 12, 2004 (Reuters) - David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry and Hank Azaria were named on Wednesday as the leading trio for next year's Broadway-bound production of Monty Python's "Spamalot." 

"Spamalot," to be directed by Oscar and Tony Award winner Mike Nichols, is billed as "the musical lovingly ripped off from the motion picture, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail,"' the 1975 comedy directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. 

It tells the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail. A chorus line of dancing divas and knights, flatulent Frenchmen, killer rabbits and one legless knight are featured. 

Pierce, who was Dr. Niles Crane in the long-running U.S. sitcom "Frasier," will play Sir Robin. Curry, known for his star turn in the cult film, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," will play King Arthur.

Azaria, best known as the voice of Moe the bartender on the animated series "The Simpsons," will portray Sir Lancelot. 

The corresponding film roles were performed by Eric Idle, Graham Chapman and John Cleese of the British comedy troupe. 

Idle wrote the book for the new musical and collaborated on the music and lyrics with John Du Prez, whose film scores include the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" series and the hit, "A Fish Called Wanda." 

The show is scheduled to have a world premiere engagement in Chicago from Dec. 21, 2004, to Jan. 16, 2005, before beginning Broadway previews on Feb. 7.

Completely Useless Web Site - http://www.intriguing.com/mp

Official Monty Python Store - http://montypythondirect.com

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