Category: Behind the Scenes


CJ Bunce Stawamus Chief Squamish BC 1998

Of all the beauty to be found in British Columbia, from the unreal blue waters along Highway 99, to the European feel of Victoria on San Juan Island, to the gondola ride to the top of Whistler, to the Emerald City of Vancouver, you will hardly find anything as mesmerizing as the mountain that resides next to the lovely town of Squamish called Stawamus Chief. 

At the Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, you can enjoy a great picnic with your family and find yourself transfixed at the incredibly polished striations down the mountain’s face, the result of millions of years of erosion.  Driving the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler you will find your eyes drawn to this monstrous entity as you twist along the highway–almost like Mt. Rainier towering over Seattle as you inch closer–until you find yourself in its shadow.  Under the code name “Euclid” you could find the crew of the next Star Trek adventure, Star Trek Beyond, filming their next adventure there this past week.

Whistler gondola CJ Bunce 1998

Just like Vancouver is one of the most popular shooting locations in North America, it’s no wonder the topography draws studios back to this spot time and time again.  While you’re waiting for Star Trek Beyond, try to spot the mighty Chief in any number of Canadian productions as you watch TV and movies every day.  Once you’ve visited Squamish a few times, you’ll experience another level of enjoyment spotting the town and its landmarks in dozens of movies and TV series.

Here are some shows to check out:

The Returned A&E logo

  • The star-studded and nicely creepy A&E series The Returned is filmed in and around Squamish, and every episode features prominent buildings and easily recognizable natural landmarks.  Catch The Returned season one OnDemand.

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Spade and Farley

Nothing is more infuriating than the untimely deaths of people who make you laugh.  John Belushi.  John Candy.  Phil Hartman.  Robin Williams.  A new documentary by Spike takes a look at another one of these comedic gems, the life and death of the explosive personality that was Chris Farley, one of the funniest comedians to ever hail from that elite squad of comics who made their fame via their work on Saturday Night Live. 

Clips of the comedian’s best work from SNL and movies like Tommy Boy and Coneheads are interspersed with interviews of Farley’s friends and family in I Am Chris Farley, giving us some insight into what made this guy tick, including those who knew him the best: David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, Lorne Michaels, Adam Sandler, Jay Mohr, Bob Odenkirk, Molly Shannon, Tom Arnold, and his brother Kevin.

Farley followed in the footsteps of two of his own idols, Belushi and Candy, dying too early at the age of 33 back in 1997 from a drug overdose.  What can we learn from Farley’s death?  What pressure was Farley under, and how did such a quick rise in fame cause Farley to fall just as fast?  Could anyone have helped him along the way?  Here’s the trailer for the new documentary I Am Chris Farley:

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Jaws-paperback

Reviewed by C.J. Bunce

For the Fourth of July that is arriving on the heels of the fortieth anniversary of the premiere of the blockbuster movie Jaws, what better time for a summer reading of Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel that the movie is based on?

Well it was a good notion.

And it’s the notion in the novel Jaws–the premise–that fortunately inspired scriptwriter Carl Gottlieb, and Benchley himself–to both expand the novel, and more importantly, whittle it down, into such a finely executed, classic film.

But wait, Jaws was a bestseller!  A book that was on everyone’s bookshelf in the early 1970s!  Who doesn’t remember that book cover, and who didn’t sing the praises of that book?

The first third of the novel is quite good, exciting reading that fans of the film will be familiar with:  The death of a young woman at night swimming with her boyfriend in the northwest beach community of Amity, the politics of Chief Brody and the Mayor keeping the beaches open, and the subsequent death of a boy and lambasting of Brody by the boy’s mother for not closing down the beaches after the first death.  The introductory chapters really set up the reader for a wild ride.

Jaws_novel_cover

Unfortunately from there the story drifts off course and never returns to the excitement of the set-up.

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Dumb and Dumber car Wizard World Des Moines 2015

What makes a great Comic Con?

Wizard World Des Moines combined all the right elements this past weekend to create a new annual Midwest destination tradition.  A mix of big name celebrities, comic book creator icons, fanboys and fangirls attending in costume, a variety of vendors, gaming opportunities, current genre properties, the unexpected, taking along family and friends (and meeting new ones and catching up with old ones) and taking in some good food.  And thanks to the success of its first effort, Wizard World will be back again next year at the Iowa Events Center, May 13-15, 2016.

If you missed it, check out our coverage at borg.com yesterday here.

A comic and pop culture convention is even better when your own favorite character seems to have his own theme at the show.  Take our own favorite, Green Arrow, for instance.  This weekend you could have met the artists for the three best Green Arrow series ever produced, including artist/writer Mike Grell:

Milton Bunce Mike Grell Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Zorro

Artists Milton Bunce and Mike Grell at Wizard World Des Moines 2015 Sunday.

And as luck would have it, Mike found a lost piece of original art he brought to the show, a cover prelim/rough for a 24-year old annual issue he created:

Grell WWDM 2015 cover rough annual 4   Green_Arrow_Annual_Vol_2_4

There’s no place better to pick up original comic book art than a Comic Con, whether it’s a sketch commission or original pages that artists bring to the show to gawk at or even purchase.  (Thanks for bringing this one, Mike!).

And there’s one of the other of the three major artists known for his Green Arrow work (he’s done Batman and a ton of other characters, too), Neal Adams:

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Wizard World Des Moines 2015 from above

It must be one of the best-attended Comic Cons for a first-time event:  More than 25,000 fans of print and film superheroes and celebrities attended this weekend’s Wizard World Des Moines comic book and pop culture convention at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.  And the show’s management believes the attendance assures Wizard World will return to Des Moines next summer, establishing the next major annual Midwest comic book fan convention.

Fans from Iowa and neighboring states toured the halls and giant celebrity autograph and photo op room, many in cosplay garb.  The highlights include a premiere slate of comic book creators in Artists Alley and celebrity appearances that gave everyone something to be excited about.

Michael Golden Wizard World Des Moines 2015

Star Trek fans barely had to wait in line to meet sci-fi icon William Shatner, who also spoke to a crowded house of fans Saturday afternoon.  If you like superheroes, you could meet the two most popular Green Arrow creators of all time: artist Neal Adams and writer/artist Mike Grell, Superman actors Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Dean Cain (The Adventures of Lois and Clark) (Routh also appears as The Atom on CW’s The Flash), DC Bombshells creator Ant Lucia, Rogue creator and long-time Marvel artist Michael Golden (above), and Mike Zeck, artist for Marvel Comics classics like the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars series:

Mike Zeck Wizard World Des Moines 2015

The Walking Dead fans met series star Michael Cudlitz, and received an exclusive variant Issue #1 from the comic book series, drawn by Iowa artist Phil Hester.  And horror fans got to cross off their list one of the modern Big 3 of horror icons, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger himself Robert Englund.  Fans of the cult film Boondock Saints met up with star Sean Patrick Flannery.

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Nerd HQ 2015 logo

The staff at borg.com have made it to several of the Nerd HQ celebrations in San Diego, including the first event back in 2011 where we met Zachary Levi and Scott Bakula.  We’ve been able to see panels since then with some of our favorites, like the Doctor Who panel featuring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, and Steven Moffat.  Nerd HQ takes place each year during San Diego Comic-Con International weekend.  Each year it has been hosted at a facility within close walking distance of the San Diego Convention Center, and this year it will open its doors directly across the street at the New Children’s Museum.  It marks the fifth year for the event.

Don’t confuse Comic-Con with Nerd HQ–Nerd HQ is not affiliated with Comic-Con.  The crew that runs the show–Chuck’s Zachary Levi and his friends–are a bit like party crashers, yet they offer an opportunity for those who missed out on tickets to the Big Show to still have a close-up experience with celebrities in the same town on the same weekend.  It’s convenient for everyone since the celebrities typically have engagements for Comic-Con, so they can just divert some time to Nerd HQ, where for $22 per person per panel Nerd HQ piles up a fair amount of cash for charity.

Flip through the “back-issues” of borg.com here to find several videos of past Nerd HQ panels.  Then check out this preview of this year’s panels with Zachary Levi:

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Wizard World Des Moines

Convention planner Wizard World is holding its first pop culture convention in Iowa this weekend, introducing Midwest genre fans to sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek), horror icon Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, Arrow), and Jewel Staite (Firefly), plus Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), comic book writer/artist Mike Grell (Green Arrow), Iowa’s own Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, The Flash) and a giant roster of other celebrity guests from film and TV, past and present.

Arrow -- Image AR315C_ATOM_0001 -- Pictured: -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Brandon Routh as The Atom and Superman

Other familiar genre actors scheduled to attend include Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angel), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and both Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco from Boondock Saints.

Alex Kingston River Song Doctor Who

Alex Kingston, River Song from Doctor Who, and Dinah Lance from CW’s Arrow.

Several well-known comic book writers and artists will be featured in Wizard World’s Artist Alley in addition to Mr. Grell: Des Moines’s own Ant Lucia (DC Comics “Bombshell” covers and posters), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mike Zeck (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Iowa-based artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash), Michael Golden (Star Wars, The ‘Nam), our pal Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo), and many others.

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Star Trek Costumes Block and Erdmann final cover 2015

Readying for next year’s 50th anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek, Insight Editions has revealed the cover and a new overview of a book about Star Trek costumes that we first discussed here at borg.com back in December.  Veteran Star Trek writers Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann have completed a 256 page hardcover work titled Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier. 

This will be the first book to focus exclusively on Star Trek costumes, covering the Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the ten movies with the Original Series crew and Next Generation crew, Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Enterprise, Star Trek 2009 and Star Trek Into Darkness.  It is also the first book to include a chronicle of photos and behind the scenes information on the Enterprise TV series and the most recent Star Trek film, Star Trek Into Darkness. 

This new book will add an eagerly awaited, missing piece to complete the science fiction and fantasy bookshelves of movie fans, adding to prior great movie costume books for genre properties including Dressing a Galaxy, focusing on the Star Wars prequel costumes (the finest photographic work on costumes to-date) reviewed here, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Chronicles–Cloaks and Daggers, reviewed here, and Brandon Alinger’s 2014 release Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy, reviewed here.

Here’s the new overview of Star Trek Costumes: Five Decades of Fashion from the Final Frontier from the publisher:

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Magic trick Now You See Me

It must be hard to portray the art of being a magician on the big screen.  The latest effort is The Transporter, The Incredible Hulk, and Clash of the Titans’ director Louis Leterrier’s Now You See Me previewed earlier at borg.com here.  It has much to offer by way of entertainment, the best reward being the cast, which manages to nail that very Las Vegas magic act schtick of “showmanship” that you only see in a good magic act.  But can you give a theatrical audience a convincing magic show–actually trick us and surprise us in the same way someone like David Copperfield can make the Statue of Liberty disappear right in front of you, or how Teller distracts as Penn causes the very thing you’re staring at to disappear right before you?

Apparently you can’t do that in the movies–or at least no one has dazzled us in that way yet.  But you can at least give us a good show letting us see different styles in which magicians practice their art.

Magic Act Now You See Me

Two recent contenders for the top of the “movies about magicians and magic” list are not at risk of leaving the top because of Now You See Me.  The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and The Prestige, starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, and Scarlett Johansson released opposite each other in 2006, take on the same themes.  But if you’re deciding between the two we think The Illusionist, from director Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergent) is the better film, over the very typically over-the-top effort by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel, Inception) in The Prestige.  It’s the payoff of Now You See Me that doesn’t quite cut it, despite some fun theatrics along the way.

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Rowlf and Scooter

It’s been 34 years since The Muppet Show wrapped its now classic five season run back in 1976-1981, with its last episode guest starring Singing in the Rain actor Gene Kelly.  It seemed like everyone who was anyone was a guest on the show, from Vincent Price to Don Knotts, from George Burns, John Cleese and Steve Martin to Elton John, Julie Andrews, Debbie Harry, James Coburn, Roger Moore, Sylvester Stallone, Lynda Carter, Christopher Reeve, and even the cast of Star Wars.  The show won four Primetime Emmy Awards and a Grammy.

ABC just announced the full Muppets ensemble will return to Primetime Tuesday nights this Fall.  This time the show won’t be a variety show as the original with guest stars, but will follow a bit of the format from The Office TV series, a “contemporary, documentary style” and probably copy any other show they can spoof for a laugh.  It will have humans interspersed with the cast, as seen in the first trailer released in the past few hours by ABC.  The preview couldn’t be much better.

Fozzie and girlfriend

And the never aging Muppets look just like they did when we first met them: Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf, The Electric Mayhem, Scooter, Sweetums, Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, Statler and Waldorf.  Without the requirements of a two-hour movie as we saw with the recent fun movies The Muppets and The Muppets Most Wanted, the series is going to delve into the private, personal lives of the Muppets.  We can’t wait!

Check out the preview:

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