Lemony Horseradish the sci-fi plasmaball

Lemony Snicket's
A Series of Unfortunate Events
(2005)

At last a holiday movie without all that pesky hope and joy.
We are very concerned

"This is the story of the three Baudelaire children. Violet loved to invent; her brother, Klaus, loved to read; and their sister, Sunny... she loved to bite. My name is Lemony Snicket and it is my duty to tell you their tale. No one knows the precise cause of the Baudelaire fire, but just like that, the Baudelaire children became the Baudelaire orphans."

In 2006, on Friday the 13th, the 13th and last book the Lemony Snicket series was released. The first 12 had already sold over 50,000,000 copies worldwide in 7 years and spawned a movie. Daniel Handler created the pen name Lemony Snicket because he didn't know what people would think of a children's novel about terrible things happening to a family of orphans. He still thinks it's odd to "get off a plane in Italy or New Zealand to find that there are people there who have very specific questions about books that you have written. That's a strange feeling." He warns the readers that they should "find something nicer to read," then hides literary and historical allusions for those who stay. Entire websites are set up to mine for the hidden clues and their possible meanings.

In the 13th book for example, the three Baudelaire children (Violet, Klaus and Sunny) end up on an island after a harrowing ocean journey with the vicious Count Olaf. When they meet the island leader, he says, "Call me Ish," which of course is short for Ishmael. "There are people who get these references and...people who don't... One of the delights of touring around for the 12th book ("The Penultimate Peril," the next to last) was hearing the number of children explain to adults what the word 'penultimate' meant." The 13th book ("The End") has a first printing of 2,500,000 copies. A bookstore in Berkeley, CA, has a simple plan for selling them: "Stack the books up high and get out of the way." Meanwhile, Handler has also released his third non-children's book "Adverbs," a collection of "stories of love and other dark emotions." The advance edition of the 13th Lemony Snicket was sent to reviewers with the final two chapters missing (just as the children face a situation involving poisonous mushrooms). When the author was asked how it ends, he considered the question gravely and told the Associated Press interviewer, "Ambiguously."
There aren't plans for a movie sequel as of 2007, and this one barely got made. Daniel Handler says, "Well, for a while, it seemed like it was going to be the most exciting motion picture ever made, and then there was a huge changing of the guard in which I was more or less fired as a screenwriter, and the producer quit, and the director was either fired or quit, depending on whom you ask. If you ask him, he says he was fired. So then for a while it looked like it was going to be the worst movie ever made, hopelessly embarrassing, and by the time it was finishing up, I was so grateful that it wasn't the worst movie ever made that I overlooked many things that might have otherwise upset me."
But if you thought that #13 was the end of Lemony Snicket books, all he has to say is Horseradish (that's his voice narrating this press conference). At book signings or public appearances, he usually apologizes for Lemony Snicket's absence and presents himself as Mr. Snicket's representative. Singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt wrote the themesong for each of the 13 audiobook versions, and plans to compile them into an album released under the moniker "The Gothic Archies." If you are planning to read book #13 without first reading the first 12, please allow Tim Curry to tell you what's happened so far in just 2 minutes


Lemony Snicket availability on DVD and books from Amazon.com

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (2007)

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Who will survive the final showdown between Harry, Dumbledore and the seemingly immortal Lord Voldemort? Rowling will say only that Harry James Potter survives book 7, and has no plans for a book 8. Even if there were, she says it would definitely not be a prequel. "It is all George Lucas's fault... I am sure that Mr. Lucas is doing it only for artistic reasons, but in my case I think that by the time you have had the 7 books you will know everything you need to know for the story." She says that you should ask yourself a question: why didn't Dumbledore kill Voldemort when he had the chance in Order Of The Phoenix? The reason he gave was "not the real reason." Dudley is a bit more prominent in the final story, but not much. "I think you need to look at your priorities if it is Dudley that you are looking forward to." And you can forget about that internet rumor that Harry and Voldemort will "merge" into one person. Remember, "neither can live while the other survives." Remember, too, that Neville's past is almost identical to Harry's, with one major difference. But prophecies "are usually open to many interpretations. That is both their strength and their weakness." The prophecy that Harry heard in Dumbledore's office suggests that both he and Voldemort have to die. Rowlings will say only that the prophecy was worded "extremely carefully." Remember that mirror Harry was given in Order Of The Phoenix and then hid away and forgot? He will remember it in this book. And Mark Evans will not be an important character in book 7. Really. He won't. 784 pages, a number which is of course, divisible by 16.

imp As of February, this seventh and final Harry Potter book is already a best-seller at Amazon.com in pre-sales; apparantly no fan wants to take a chance on it selling out in stores when it is released July 21, which is likely. Even the deluxe $65 edition is #2 on their chart, outselling Oprah, Obama and the previous champ ("You," a diet book). The deluxe edition of Harry Potter's previous #6 book sold 100,000 copies, a best-seller for a hard-cover. The deluxe edition of this one includes an extra 32-pages of art and illustrations, a custom-designed slipcase, and a "full-cloth case book, blind-stamped on front & back cover, foil stamped on spine." List price for the regular (non-hardcover) edition is $34.99 but Amazon.com is pre-selling it for as little as $18.89 with no promise that the price may not increase due to demand as the release date nears. Amazon also has a set of Harry Potter books for those who need to catch up on the story so far. Some stores are planning to sell the book as close to cost as possible as a loss-leader to get people into their stores during the hot summer months. So far, the 6 Harry Potter books have sold 325,000,000 copies world-wide in 64 languages. When the previous edition was released, it sold 6,900,000 copies in 24 hours, over half of its entire first-printing of 10,800,000. More on the Harry Potter Harry Potter books and movies

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
fun facts courtesy www.imdb.com
* "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is the name of a series of books.

* The bizarre car seen in the previews is a late model Tatra 603. Built in what was Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) it was designed as a limousine for Communist Party officials and VIPs. Although it was first designed in 1955, this particular model was built between 1968 and 1975.

* The mysterious initials V.F.D., which appear throughout the books, are hidden in the end credits on drawings of zeppelins hovering over the city.

* Director Brad Silberling admitted on the director's commentary that in some scenes the stand-ins for Kara Hoffman and Shelby Hoffman, the Knight babies, often appeared on camera instead of the original twins (but with their faces covered slightly).

* The train scene is full of cameos from the books. First, the store is the 'Last Chance', as seen in Book 8, the Hostile Hospital. The man working there is reading the newspaper 'The Daily Punctillio", as seen in Book 7, the Vile Village, and on. Also, the headline reads 'Orphans to Blame', which is in the books as well. The window of the Last Chance advertises 'Parsley Soda', as seen in Book 6, the Ersatz Elevator. Finally, the magazine Olaf reads advertises a Veritably French Diner, which has the mysterious initials V.F.D.

* In the stairwell where we first meet Count Olaf, there is a portrait of Olaf in Shakespearian garb, reaching out with his hand. This is almost an exact duplicate of a picture of John Barrymore playing "Hamlet".

*When Count Olaf locks the orphans in the car, you can briefly see the words, "Last Chance" painted on the slanted roof. The Last Chance General Store was featured in the eighth book, "The Hostile Hospital".

* The duck that nearly gets a stove dropped onto it is well known to American audiences as the Aflac Duck. He's the mascot for the American insurance company Aflac. Their ads feature a pair of people discussing Aflac insurance, but being unable to remember the company's name while he tries to shout it out but simply sounds like a quacking duck. Paramount and Aflac also ran a series of movie tie-in ads.

* Violet tries to sign the marriage document with her left hand and Count Olaf says "Right hand please". This is a reference to the book in which Violet does sign the document with her left hand, after which Justice Stauss declares the marriage invalid since she did not sign it in her "own hand".

* The car that Count Olaf drives, and leaves the children stranded on the railway line is a 1960 Chrysler Imperial Limo.

* The movie has elements from the first three books, "The Bad Beginning", "The Reptile Room", and "The Wide Window".

* Early in pre-production, Scott Rudin was attached to produce this movie, with Barry Sonnenfeld as director. Rudin later left the project over "budgetary conflicts", and Sonnenfeld left soon after. However, both are still credited as executive producers.

* Christy Carlson Romano was originally supposed to play the role of Violet.

* During production, Liam Aiken grew four and a half inches (11.4 cm), requiring adjustments to his costume throughout. By the end of the movie, he is visibly taller than Emily Browning who portrayed his older sister.

* Jim Carrey's make-up and hair took three hours to finish.

* Triplets were originally cast to play the role of Sunny Baudelaire. But when the trio developed stage fright and separation anxiety and would do nothing but cry, they were replaced by twins Shelby Hoffman and Kara Hoffman.

* The Baudelaire Mansion, according to the letter the children receive at the end of the film, is located at 23 Prospero Place, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

* In the film, Liam Aiken's character's home is burned to the ground. During the movie premiere, Liam got word that his own home was on fire, causing him to immediately return home.

* When the children first meet Count Olaf and Jim Carrey says, "Wait, give me that last line again," was not actually in the script, it was Carrey staying in character and wanting to try it again, but they kept the cameras rolling and felt it worked the way it happened.

* After scouring ballet schools looking for a girl to play Violet Baudelaire, the casting director was exercising at the gym when she spotted Emily Browning on television, and decided to get her for an audition.

* At the end of the movie, the children receive a letter. When turning it over, it reads: "Groeten uit Antwerpen", which translates from Dutch as "Greetings From Antwerp".

* Two weeks before the end of shooting, DP Emmanuel Lubezki had to leave due to work commitments for the upcoming movie The New World (2005). 'Robert Yeoman' was brought in for a shot in the last half of the third act (The Wide Window). Yeoman was given a special thanks in the credits.

* Filming had to be stopped on several occasions due to one of the twins playing Sunny (Shelby Hoffman and Kara Hoffman) falling asleep.

* Originally the director considered all-out CG animation for the character of Sunny Baudelaire, because working with infants would pose various problems. While he eventually opted for real child actors to play the part, at least four scenes involving Sunny have a CG baby instead of the real thing because it would be impossible or dangerous for the real child to do. Among these are the shot of Sunny hanging on to a table by her teeth, catching a spindle with her mouth and the scene where she is entangled with the Incredibly Deadly Viper.

* The silhouettes of the Baudelaire parents are actually the silhouettes of production designer Rick Heinrichs and director Brad Silberling's wife, actress Amy Brenneman.

* In the train scene, when Olaf is reading a magazine, the cover has a picture of Lon Chaney in The Phantom of the Opera (1925).

* The strange, menacing-looking engine in the railroad crossing scene very strongly resembles Pennsylvania T-1 4-4-4-4, an experimental engine built around the end of the steam era in 1942 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and used exclusively by the Pennsylvania Railroad. The shots of the train in motion are a testament to well-done special effects, as all of the real T-1's were sold for scrap by the early 1950s, and no longer exist.

* The movie was entirely filmed on soundstages, even the "exterior" scenes, which involved 360 degree sets and lots of blue screens.

* When Aunt Josephine and the orphans look through her scrapbook, there is a photograph of a younger Aunt Jo on safari in Africa. The photograph is actually a still of Meryl Streep from Out of Africa (1985), and the person next to her is her co-star, Klaus Maria Brandauer.

* Because the train scene was filmed on a forced-perspective set, Industrial Light & Magic did something called "lattice deformations "to squeeze the computer-generated train - even the smoke - into the forced-perspective tracks. Industrial Light and Magic did over 505 visual effects-shots for this movie.

* Many scenes of Sunny talking were actually partly virtual. The lower part of the face was replaced and tracked onto the real face.

* The Tatra's reel-to-reel tape machine is a Nagra Kudelski, a brand beloved of sound recordists, but an unusual miniature model

* The beginning of the film features a false-start opening sequence called "The Littlest Elf". This sequence was created in CGI, but designed to resemble the stop-motion animated childrens' specials common in the 1960s and '70s (most famously by Rankin-Bass). Then suddenly, [the Littlest Elf has just come to an abrupt halt] "I'm sorry to say that this is not the movie you will be watching. The movie you are about to see is extremely unpleasant. If you wish to see a film about a happy little elf, I'm sure there is still plenty of seating in theatre number two. However, if you like stories about clever and reasonably attractive orphans, suspicious fires, carnivorous leeches, Italian food and secret organizations, then stay, as I retrace each and every one of the Baudelaire children's woeful steps. My name is Lemony Snicket, and it is my sad duty to document this tale."

* Jim Carrey, in England to promote the movie, got caught in a hotel blaze 12/16/04, prompting him to tell Reuters Television, "I think it's a good sign... The movie's all about fire and disaster... and suddenly, my house [away from home] is burning down."

* Crazy credits:
"Person of indeterminate gender - Craig Ferguson"
There is a credit for 'baby wrangler'
Most of the end credits are composed of cardboard cut outs and Olaf chasing the children. And one of the ads for the movie was simply a series of words on cardboard signs dropped one by one by a man in an alley.
After the end credits roll (and before the credits end), "The Littlest Elf" theme song plays in the background, and then the elf's laugh is heard is the Paramount logo appears on screen.
Jim Carrey sings a sea shanty as Captain Sham towards the end of the end credits.

Movie theatrical trailer for Lemony Snicket
(click twice to play clip)


"Harry Potter" availability on DVD and of course books from Amazon.com (no new DVDs will be made in 2007 due to the new movie & book coming out, but previous ones are still available online)

Harry Potter 2007 movie theatrical trailer
(click twice to play)

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Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. Jim Carrey sounds like the cable guy.
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