- "Trekkies" break world record at London convention
- Creepier and darker zombies
- Designing contestants
Posted: 20 Oct 2012 08:51 PM PDT
LONDON: Star Trek fans made history on Saturday by breaking the record for the largest gathering of people dressed as characters from the TV series at the "Destination Star Trek London" convention.
An estimated 1,083 costume-clad "trekkies" assembled at the event at London's ExCel centre, narrowly beating the previous record of 1,040 characters, which was set at the bigger, annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas in August.
The achievement will be officially verified by Guinness World Records within a few days, but organisers were confident they had topped the Las Vegas record.
The majority of record-breakers dressed in the colour-blocked uniforms of the Starfleet, with Vulcans, Klingons and Romulans peppering the crowd.
Trekkie Mark Whitfield went to extreme lengths to participate, wearing a full-body suit to emulate a mugato, a beast from "Star Trek: the Original Series".
"It looks silly, it's just a gorilla suit painted white with horns on it. It's very, very hot. In fact, I was on the verge of collapse when a very kind person gave me a bottle of water because I dehydrated quite badly," he said.
"Destination Star Trek London" is the first live Star Trek event in Britain for over a decade. Around 17,000 fans came to London to celebrate the 46-year-old TV and film franchise, which has spawned six television series and 11 feature films.
Dawn Harris, 26, who had created an Orion slave girl costume and painted herself metallic green, said there was great enthusiasm for the world record attempt.
"There just hasn't been a convention in the UK for so long. So I think everyone wants to be involved in everything as much as they can. Everybody saw that guy jump out of a plane in space so people are drawn to things like that," she said, referring to Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking jump from a balloon near the edge of space last Sunday.
"Nerds like achieving missions. We've been set a quest and it must be achieved," Harris's fiancé, Ryan Croft, added.
Outlandish costumes were ubiquitous at the event, which saw Britain's first Klingon wedding on Friday. Swedish couple Jossie Sockertopp and Sonnie Gustavsson tied the knot in full Klingon attire and exchanged vows in the fictional and guttural-sounding language of the Star Trek characters.
The three-day convention also saw all five captains from the TV series appear on stage together for the first time.
The captains played by actors William Shatner (Captain Kirk), Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard), Avery Brooks (Captain Sisko), Kate Mulgrew (Captain Janeway) and Scott Bakula (Captain Archer) joined forces to officially open the convention on Friday night.
Speaking ahead of the opening ceremony, 81-year-old Shatner appeared moved when discussing the show's loyal and sometimes obsessive fans in an interview with Reuters [ID:nL3E8LJ5KR].
"It's an accumulation of a lot of work and a lot of people travelling from all over the world here. It's sort of monumental in its worth," Shatner said.
The veteran actor turned filmmaker has released the documentary "Get a Life!", which examines why fans attend conventions.
"The conclusion that I come to is that it's (Star Trek) mythological," Shatner told Reuters. "It's a desire for mythology that we don't have in this age." - Reuters
Posted: 21 Oct 2012 02:26 AM PDT
The third season of The Walking Dead promises to be its darkest yet, as it ventures into one of the comic book's most pivotal and iconic story arcs.
FIGHT the dead, fear the living. That's the tagline for season three of zombie apocalypse drama The Walking Dead, which premieres on Malaysian TV tonight. And judging from the finale of season two, this new season promises to be the series' darkest and most devastating one yet, living up to every word of that ominous tagline.
By the end of the last season, two series regulars – Dale and Shane – lay dead, the latter at the hands of his best friend Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who then declared that their little group of zombie apocalypse survivors was "no longer a democracy".
As the episode ended, the camera panned out to reveal a sight that fanboys of Robert Kirkman's critically acclaimed comic book series have been clamouring for since the TV show began – a huge prison in the background.
Yes, the TV series is finally heading to "The Prison", the stage for one of the comic's most important and pivotal story arcs. It is also the arc that established The Walking Dead comic series as not just another zombie story, but one where the humans are a lot scarier than the shuffling undead – hence the tagline.
Having spent the last two seasons on a very long road trip to nowhere, Rick's motley crew of survivors finally find a place to call home ... well, sort of. The fact that the safe haven they eventually settle in happens to be a prison is a great example of the sort of twisted irony that The Walking Dead comic is well known for, and which has been translated exceptionally well into the television medium.
For the cast and crew, the location is a welcome respite from the previous two seasons.
"It's nice that we have sets this year! The last two years, we never had a set, and were always shooting outside. Now that we have a covered set, whenever it rains, we can go somewhere instead of shooting in the rain," said Greg Nicotero, co-executive producer, director and special effects make-up designer on the show.
"The interesting thing about the prison is that it is probably full of dead prisoners, so if the gang wants to hole up there, they'll have to take it by force and fight for it," he said when we met him before a special San Diego Comic Con press breakfast cum conference on the rooftop of the Andaz Hotel.
"For the past two seasons, they have always been on the road. But now they'll have to hone their skills, otherwise they're not going to survive."
The level of intensity and horror has also been amped up on every level, according to Nicotero.
"We ended the last season with a big finale, and a lot of people responded to the fact that there was some action and a lot of jeopardy. This season, we've picked up on that, so there is even more action and suspense. We want to make sure the show feels scary and creepy on top of all the good character bits," he said.
"The show has three main components – a great monster, a great storyline and great characters. It's a delicate balance, and if you throw one of them out, it all goes out of sync. The whole thing would just collapse."
With his background in makeup and effects, Nicotero started out on The Walking Dead solely handling the "zombie stuff", for which he won two Emmy awards. Later, he started becoming more involved creatively, and his role soon expanded to executive producing and also directing a few of the episodes.
"Shooting the zombie stuff is second nature to me, but what's more important is getting the dramatic bits right, which is the hardest thing on the show," he said.
With the prison arc, the drama certainly looks set to be even more intense.
During the press conference, Lincoln teased that this will be the season where Rick reaches his breaking point and snaps.
"Rick gets pushed and pushed, and this season there's a point he reaches ... where he breaks. I believe the expression is 'bat-shit crazy'," he said.
This season also introduces two of the comic's most popular characters – fan-favourite, katana-wielding zombie killer Michonne (played by Danai Gurira), who appeared in the season two finale as a hooded figure accompanied by two armless and jawless zombies; and one of its most chilling antagonists – The Governor (David Morrissey), a dictator-like figure who runs Woodbury, a small town that at first appears to be a safe haven for apocalypse survivors, but soon turns out to be something more disturbing.
"People who know the graphic novel will know The Governor's sinister side, and having him as part of the storyline this season means that Rick's group has to face a whole new scenario altogether," said Nicotero.
"It's all about survival now, and I love the idea that in his head, The Governor is (doing) what he thinks is right and running the world the way he would want it, just like Rick does."
According to Morrissey, The Governor is not bad, he's just "terribly misunderstood".
"The Governor created this oasis in the middle of this apocalypse, which is Woodbury. He's slowly building a life there that has some sort of normality and certainly has comforts; it has hot water, it has food, it has clean clothing, it has structure," Morrissey explained in the transcript of an interview done on the set of the show.
"He's managed to do that by a mixture of an iron fist and a kid glove. He has to rule with a very strong sense of discipline. People have to stay within the rules of the community.
"But he also has a caring nature. He rules the people there and they see the benefits of living in this way, compared to what it's like outside. He's created a very idyllic life for these people."
Morrissey also reckons there is a slight difference between his version of the Governor and the one in the comics.
"The Governor in the comics arrives fully formed, and we see very quickly that he does crazy stuff; whereas this Governor (on the show) is someone trying to survive in this world. If people threaten that security or act in a foolish way that could endanger the community, then he acts."
Coming to a set with zombie extras shuffling around took a bit of getting used to at first, though.
"On my first day I got slightly lost on the set and I walked into this room and there were two zombies in there having a chat and it freaked me out," Morrissey said.
"You do see sights (like that) all the time ... it's very odd. For a long time Michonne's zombies really freaked me out whenever I bumped into them."
The Walking Dead's zombies have Nicotero to thank for making them look so scary, whether on set or in the show proper.
"While editing the scene where Dale is killed by a walker, every time he (the walker) blinked, I cut it out. So in the end it looked like he never blinked, that was really scary!" Nicotero said.
He reckons that with every season of the show, there seems to be more and more interest in zombies. If the record-breaking 10.9 million viewers who watched the third season's opening episode last week in the United States is any indication, the brain-munching undead horde certainly isn't shuffling off the air anytime soon.
"The Walking Dead made zombie stories much more accessible to a wider audience than any of us anticipated. It's interesting that people who you never thought would watch a zombie show are now watching The Walking Dead!" he said, adding that fanboy response went through the roof after last season's finale.
"The final three episodes were like the launching of a rocket (in terms of fan response). First, Dale gets killed, then Rick kills Shane, and then the finale ..." he said.
"This year, we've already hit the stratosphere, so now we have really got to hit the booster and keep going, because that's the bar we set for ourselves."
The Walking Dead (season three) premieres tonight on Fox Movies Premium (Astro Ch 413) at 11pm.
Posted: 21 Oct 2012 01:17 AM PDT
AFTER its very first episode, on Thursday, The Apartment: Style Edition has already lost a pair of contestants – and the pressure will only get worse on Asia's first interior design reality TV show.
In this second season, participants are expected to show how they develop their styles as they design their dream home, and they have to do it while contending with timed challenges, too. These are not professional interior designers or handymen, mind you, so viewers will surely be able to relate to them as they try their hand at DIY on camera.
There are bound to be skinned knuckles and lost tempers galore! But it will all be worth it to the pair that makes it to the finish and wins a unit at the Veo in Desa Melawati, Kuala Lumpur.
The Veo is a project by Sime Darby Property, which also developed the East Residence where the series was filmed. The East Residence courtyard homes, located within a gated and guarded community, are part of the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club's integrated development.
Which of the remaining seven pairs is going to end up with keys to this dream property?
Here's a quick introduction to the contestants to help you choose who you want to root for over the next nine episodes of The Apartment: Style Edition.
Agri and Clarissa (Indonesian/Singaporean)
OF all the contestants on The Apartment, this pair has the most interesting beginnings to their friendship: "We used to hate each other!" says Agri, 24. But she and Clarissa, also 24, bonded when they were sent to the same detention session at school nine years ago and have been best friends ever since.
The bond must be strong because, personality-wise, they are poles apart. While Agri says that Clarissa is "too systematic ... she has a plan for everything", Clarissa worries that Agri won't be reliable about deadline because "she's a party animal ... and she also has a time management problem!"
What they do share is attitude, as they are both go-getters in their fields. Agri, a fashion blogger who began by advising friends, launched her own clothing line, Agri Velt, in 2010. Clarissa is also in a creative field: she's a makeup artist who particularly loves doing bridal makeup.
With all that creativity in their daily lives, you'd think these women would be confident of sweeping the prize but they are actually worried about choosing the right design concept, they say. They're hoping, though, that determination and solid teamwork will get them to the top.
Design detail: Agri's personal style is "full of surprises and never boring" while Clarissa's is "princess-y and glamourous".
Alex and Chelsea (Malaysians)
THEY only met five months ago but something clicked and they're now firm friends, even though Chelsea has moved with her husband and son to the United States. They catch up whenever Chelsea, 34, returns to Kuala Lumpur, which is quite often, as she's pursuing a career in fashion here.
Alex, 25, a radio host, is practical and down to earth – though not a morning person, he admits. Chelsea, who is accustomed to having her perfectly made-up game face on even at the crack of dawn because of her job, worries that Alex might struggle with meeting tight deadlines.
But the pair believe they'll work well together as a team by sharing the workload and focusing on their respective strengths. "Two versions of me will do no good," admits Alex, who is planning on leaving the more aesthetic elements to Chelsea and concentrating on functionality himself.
Design detail: Colours that neither would ever, ever (ever!) use in a living room are pink (Alex: "If my friends were to visit my place, there would be a laugh fest!") and neon yellow (Chelsea: "Too glaring!")
Cynthia and Paula (Singaporean/American)
WHO would have thought an outgoing performer accustomed to the spotlight would become good friends with a homemaker? But then, both are passionate about the important things in their lives, not to mention fun and feisty by nature, so perhaps it's not so surprising after all....
Cynthia, 33, the performer, worries that she'll have trouble making up her mind when it comes to design decisions but she's hoping she'll be balanced by Paula, 32, who has to make quick decisions daily thanks to two young sons who keep her on her toes.
They have very different approaches to problem solving, too: while Cynthia confesses to being kind of confrontational, Paula prefers to take a step back from the situation and take a walk around the block to think things over. When it comes to working under pressure with tight deadlines to meet, you can bet there will be problems galore on the show – will the women's different styles lead to explosions, we wonder?
Design detail: Cynthia's personal design style is "eclectic or shabby chic" while Paula's is "pretty classic with a tinge of trendy".
Iva and Philippe (Argentinian/French-German)
TALK about your life changing romance: Philippe and Iva met, fell madly in love, and, a year ago, went off to sail the wide seas together!
Yes, that story really is true, though a little more prosaic, as Philippe was already living on a boat when they met; he had been bitten by the sailing bug in 2003 when he took a year and a half off to crew on cruise ships in the South Pacific and, in 2009, he gave up his day job to spend his life afloat.
While it all sounds rather dreamy, the reality is not all roses. "Life on a boat is thrilling but also constant hard work ... and space is limited," acknowledges Philippe. What the hard life has done is give Iva, 25, and Philippe, 32, a lot of training in operating together under pressure, which they are planning to put to good use on The Apartment.
If they win, though, they will have a luxury apartment on their hands – what will the seafarers do with it? While they will never completely give up their ocean view, they say, the condo could begin a new chapter in their lives and perhaps even get them started on the road towards making a family....
Jesper and Killian (Canadian/American)
THESE brothers lived continents apart for years but they're still the best of friends who always have each other's backs. No, they're not twins – Jesper is 33 and Killian, 29 – but you would be forgiven for thinking they are, what with their very similar good looks.
When it comes to their personalities, though, they've very different. Adventurous Jesper, who is a freelance photographer, feels that "creativity comes a lot easier to Killian but I'm more of a risk taker". Killian doesn't dispute that; the graphic designer says "Jesper has embraced a rather free-spirited reality, something that I am quite envious about, as I hold a nine to five job – we have very different lifestyles".
But those personalities will complement each other on the show, the brothers think. Not that won't be arguments! Says Jesper, "I think we will disagree a lot, but constructively. I like to jump right into things and figure them out on the go while Killian is a strategist."
Design detail: His personal style is "constantly evolving" says Jesper, while Killian's is "eclectic".
John Paul and Daniel (American/Malaysian)
HERE'S The Apartment's strangest pairing by far: they were actual strangers before they ended up on the show together! They had both been told about auditions for the show by a mutual friend but turned up alone, hoping to later persuade a friend or family member to join them. When neither had any luck with that, their friend introduced JP (as he's known) and Daniel — and so was born this dynamic duo.
But can two total strangers come together to design a house? Ah, but JP and Daniel think that's actually an advantage because their working styles will be all the better for being unburdened by history and familiarity. "It's an opportunity and a risk," JP acknowledges, "but as long as we can learn to trust each other, we are going to dominate this competition – bring it on!"
JP, 31, is a fashion designer and brings a solid background in the field to the contest, having studied at the prestigious Parsons the New School for Design in New York City; he's also passionate about exploring new ideas.
Daniel, 36, manages a boutique hotel which makes him quite practised at handling stress and the kind of anger that can erupt when people work under pressure. He brings his calming attitude to the team, which should prove useful in The Apartment's high-stress environment – he quips that he always "takes deep breaths, counts to 10 and then counts to 10 again" when he's in a confrontational situation.
But don't look for explosions from this pair because both are hoping to make a lifelong friend out of this experience.
Design detail: Daniel would never use neon colours on walls and JP's ideal colour palette for a bedroom is "greys, from warm to neutral greys".
Paul and Ash (Australian/Malaysian)
JUST as Alex and Chelsea forged their firm friendship in a blink, these two are another pair of contestants who only met recently but made a strong connection – so much so that people often mistake them for a married couple!
Says Paul, 27, "There is nothing I dislike about Ash!" while biology and chemistry student Ash, 23, exclaims that Paul is her inspiration.
Well, with that sort of a foundation for their friendship, we wouldn't be surprised if something happens on The Apartment and these two end up as a couple. See if you can spot the signs over the next nine episodes....
Paul, who manages a wine distribution company and bistro in Singapore, reckons he's quite the experienced handyman; put that together with the flair for design that Ash has, and you have a formidable team here.
Design detail: Ash's perfect leisure room would have "a huge TV, disco balls, cosy couches and lots of room for dancing" while Paul's would be a man cave with "a pool table, computer games, a fridge full of alcohol, a massive plasma TV, and comfortable long couch".
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