Lionsgate links with Comic-Con for streaming service

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For anyone unable to get badges to San Diego Comic-Con this year, Lionsgate and Comic-Con are giving subscribers unprecedented access to the pop culture mecca with the launch of Comic-Con HQ.

The ad-free subscription service, which launches Free Beta Access on May 7 (Free Comic Book Day) will feature live and exclusive coverage from San Diego Comic-Con July 20-24. It will also include original and unscripted series, daily and weekly entertainment commentary.

“For nearly half a century, Comic-Con has served as the definitive common ground where the fans of genre entertainment come together to express their passion for comics and pop culture,” said Seth Laderman, EVP and General Manager for Comic-Con HQ. “Comic-Con HQ aspires to extend that exchange 365 days a year, bringing everything we love about Comic-Con to the world in ways never before seen and experienced. The new platform will provide a year-round destination to enjoy all facets of the community and access the vast diversity of content the world has come to expect from the largest and longest-running pop cultural celebration of the year.”

Since SDCC attendees often wait hours (or days) for a coveted seat in Hall H or Ballroom 20, panels won’t be live-streamed. But, CCHQ will offer other exclusive programming and live-streams, including airings of select Comic-Con panels, and immersive access to the convention floor and sanctioned events never before available to the public such as the Masquerade and the Eisner Awards. Members will enjoy interviews and previews available only on CCHQ in a growing library of new and archival panels, bonus features, behind-the-scenes previews and more. 

Programming will include: A 1:1 interview series from G4 alum Adam Sessler (“X-Play”); fellow G4 star Kevin Pereira (“Attack of the Show”) and his company Attack Media will executive produce an entertainment pop culture news show and a late night talk show format; and the scripted comedy show “Kings of Con,” is inspired by real-life fan convention experiences and features “Supernatural” stars Richard Speight and Rob Benedict.

“CCHQ is welcoming both attendees and fans new to the Comic-Con phenomenon to join our community and enjoy all aspects of the experience in ways never before imagined,” said David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer for Comic-Con International. “Lionsgate is a terrific partner in this venture and uniquely qualified to provide quality programming that speaks directly to our fans. We’re excited to see what we can accomplish with a dedicated Comic-Con channel 365 days a year.”

More news about upcoming programming and partnerships will be announced in the coming weeks. Anyone can now pre-register for free beta access on www.Comic-ConHQ.com to enjoy a full platform of programming starting May 7 via their browsers and iOS/Android devices. The paid subscription service will roll out across more connected devises in the months to come such as Roku, AppleTV and Xbox One, with additional devices and distribution platforms becoming available throughout the year.

‘Once Upon A Time’ Winter Finale — Season 5, Ep. 11

At the end of the last episode, we saw Hook summon all the Dark Ones who ever lived to Storybrooke. Each of the Dark Ones mark all the residents for a trip to the Underworld so that they may stay in their place. Emma is faced with the challenge of saving her family, the town and eliminating the darkness for good for reclaiming Excalibur. And hopefully saving the man she loves before it’s too late.

The mid-season finale begins with a flashback that Killian (Hook) and Regina vowed never to speak of — where we learn that Killian’s father abandoned he and his brother, Liam, and sold them into servitude.

As an adult, still waiting for his revenge on the Crocodile, Hook agrees to kill Regina’s mother, Cora. To prove he’s up to the task, Regina tells him he must first kill a man in a tavern. He is shocked when he sees the man is his father. He expresses his remorse and tells Killian he was under a sleeping curse and was only awakened when his nurse gave him true love’s kiss.

Instead of killing him, Hook agrees to provide transport papers so his father (and his young son) can leave the town. When Hook goes to deliver the papers, he hears his father talking to the boy, Liam (the name of Hook’s dead brother), and ends up killing his father in a fit of rage. As his father dies, he tells Hook, “It’s never too late to change.”

Back in Storybrooke, everyone has been summoned to the lake for the trip to the Underworld. As Nimue begins to choke Emma, Hook decides the man he really wants to be — a hero. He stops Nimue and uses Excalibur to evaporate all the Dark Ones, channeling the darkness inside himself. He begs Emma to kill him so the darkness will finally be gone. She reluctantly does so, and is transformed back to her normal self and Hook dies.

The following day, Emma realizes she can still hear the call of the Dark One’s dagger and confronts Rumplestiltskin. He confesses he never gave them the real dagger to forge with Excalibur and is now, once again, the only Dark One. Realizing that Hook’s sacrifice was in vain and with leverage that she can tell Belle of his trickery at any moment, she makes Rumple promise to take her to the Underworld to save Hook.

They return to the lake to make the journey, only to be joined by Snow, Charming, Regina, Robin Hood and Henry who refuse to let her go alone. And off to the Underworld they go.

“Once Upon A Time” will return in March. 

‘Nimue’ — OUAT Episode 7 recap

This blog contains spoilers from “Nimue” — Season 5: Episode 7 of “Once Upon A Time”

We learned the identity and backstory of the very first Dark One — Nimue. Meanwhile, the rest of the heroes continued to try to reclaim Excalibur.

The episode begins with a flashback “1000 years before the age of Arthur” as Merlin and another man are stranded in a desert and find the Holy Grail. Merlin is able to drink from the grail and attains immortality. After gaining these powers, Merlin uses them for good for hundreds of years, healing people, until he meets a woman (Nimue) whose village is burned to the ground by a masked man.

As Once Upon A Time has taught us, all magic comes with a price, which Merlin has learned in the most painful way — seeing everyone he loves die one after the other while he continues to stay young. He decides he doesn’t want to live forever without Nimue, so the two go on a quest to turn the Grail into a sword so they can live their lives together.

But, just as the sword is forged, the masked man reappears and stabs Nimue. Although, unknown to Merlin, she had drank from the Grail, she pops back up, grabs his heart and exacts her vengeance for her village. The decision to kill blackens Nimue’s heart and turns her into the first Dark One.

Back in the Camelot, Merlin asks Regina and the others to recover the piece of Excalibur from Arthur while he and Emma go in search of an ember of the fire of Prometheus to forge it back together.

Merlin brings Emma to the site of Nimue’s fateful encounter to summon her since she is now the keeper of the ember. After resisting the darkness and the urge from Nimue to kill Merlin, Emma takes the ember and heads back to Camelot with Merlin until he mysteriously vanishes.

Zelena had helped Regina, Robin, Hook and Charming sneak into Arthur’s castle to steal Excalibur. When they make it to the Round Table, Zelena emerges with a kidnapped Snow, frees Arthur and helps him tether Merlin to Excalibur, allowing it to become like the Dark One dagger.

As the episode closes, we return to present-day Storybrooke, where Dark Emma retrieves the ember she took from Nimue and uses it to re-forge the sword in her basement while the spirits of all past Dark Ones look on. Ignoring Merlin’s warning years earlier to leave Excalibur alone, she reaches forward and is ready to wield its power.

Take a Walk on the Dark Side

Members of Garrison Carida, local chapter of the 501st Legion, discuss costuming and giving back at Steel City Con.

Members of Garrison Carida, local chapter of the 501st Legion, discuss costuming and giving back at Steel City Con.

One of the best parts of going to comic book conventions is finding like-minded people who share a passion for your particular fandom, whether it be comic books, manga, television show or movie. I’ve found it’s much easier to strike up conversations with fellow convention-goers than most people I come across in everyday life. Ever since the Millennium Falcon first soared through a Galaxy far, far away and onto movie screens, fans have been captivated by the “Star Wars” universe. With “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens” slated for a December release, interest in the series is at an all-time high.

Going to various cons, we’ve seen our share of mediocre “Star Wars” cosplay, but one group always stands out with their commitment to the fandom and attention to detail. The 501st Legion has members all over the world and ensures costumes’ authenticity through strict guidelines to guarantee every weapon and rivet are screen accurate. We recently had the chance to attend a panel at Steel City Con hosted by members of the Garrison Carida Imperial Academy, the local chapter of the 501st Legion with members in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia.

FullSizeRender-2The 501st Legion is the world’s premiere charity-focused “Star Wars” costuming organization. Garrison Carida was formed in 2002 and currently has more than 170 members. Not only does Garrison Carida strive for spot-on costume accuracy, the group also combines their love for “Star Wars” with the desire to give back to their communities. The group has volunteered with many charitable organizations including the Special Olympics, Walk for Autism, Cystic Fibrosis Walk, Hoops Family and Children’s Hospital and Relays for Life.

Because of the 501st Legion’s commitment to accuracy, members of the group are often asked to participate in official Lucasfilm events such as movie premieres, toy launches and other special events. One Garrison member was one of a few dozen who received the build kit for the new Stormtroopers’ armor featured in “The Force Awakens.” Garrison Guard Jason Romanoff, one of the group’s founding members, said although he’s had the chance to meet various celebrities, appear on the “Today Show” and visit the vault at the Skywalker Ranch, the most rewarding part of “trooping” has been giving back to the community. He said his favorite memory was presenting a custom 501st Stormtrooper helmet to a young Make-A-Wish recipient in Pennsylvania.

Members say they’ve really become family and often get together for “armor parties” to put together costumes. In order to stay active, members must “troop” — or participate in an event — once a year. In 2011, West Virginia members organized to form Squad Corellia, in order to provide more localized, and personal service to the citizens of West Virginia.

For more information on Garrison Carida and the 501st Legion, visit www.501stgarrisoncarida.com or email info@501st.com. For those aspiring padawans not wishing to join the Imperial forces, visit www.RebelLegion.com.

The Name Behind Your Childhood

If you grew up in the 1970s or 1980s, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with his work, even though you may not know his name and have never seen his face. You’ve probably doodled or sketched the characters he made famous, or maybe had their likeness on your pillowcases. The toys you grew up playing with were based on the characters he had a part in bringing to life.

His name is Tom Cook. No? Doesn’t ring a bell?

Tom animated and directed some of the most incredibly popular animated cartoons of the 1970s and 1980s. His work includes everything from “He-Man” and “She-Ra” to “Brave Starr” and “Ghostbusters.” Now retired, Cook was a recent media guest at Pittsburgh’s “Steel-City Con,” where he was welcomed by thousands of happy fans, excited to finally put a face to the name they saw on every closing credit of their youthful Saturdays and weekday afternoons.

Tom Cook discusses his animation during a panel at Pittsburgh's "Steel-City Con"

Tom Cook discusses his animation during a panel at Pittsburgh’s “Steel-City Con”

Cook was a bus driver, content with his job, before he became an animator. He saw an ad for a college art course at a local school and thought he would like to expand his talent for sketching into something a little more substantial. In a short time, the teacher told him that they were looking for animation assistants for cartoons that were being developed for network television. Cook kept his bus route, but decided to take the step of faith into following his passion, or at least an attempt to test the waters.

Cook’s first animated sample was “The Flintstones.” Prior to his career change, he would draw Fred Flintstone from different angles, seeing how the positioning and movement would look. He began familiarizing himself with how muscles and bone structure can look by studying the work of Jack Kirby and the characters created by Stan Lee in various comic books. He saw that animating could show a level of human realism and still work as a cartoon-type of character.

Because he wanted to be a full-time animator and work as much as possible, he went to Filmation Studios, which supplied us with his most well-known years of work. He did the animation for “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” and “Heathcliff,” as well as most of the Saturday Morning cartoons that were popular in the 1970s and 1980s. He says the most difficult to animate was “The Smurfs,” because there were so many of them in every scene. “It’s not that I disliked them,” he said, “you just always had to draw so many.”

Cook worked on movies, like “The Cunning Little Vixen” and the “Roger Rabbit Short: Tummy Trouble,” which was associated with the movie, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” He says his favorite character to animate was always “Thundarr the Barbarian,” which aired on both, NBC and ABC. Cook enjoyed the realistic look and movement of the character.

Cook has made appearances at conventions all across the country, sometimes appearing with the actors who gave voices to the characters he animated. Although he misses 2-dimensional animation, when it made way for the digital animation we see today, Cook was able to transition smoothly, because he was familiar with computer animation programs and was able to help in the training of other artists and animators.

“Many of the animators,” Cook said, “ignored the change and went from making more than $100K a year to having to take jobs as security guards because they were unable to learn to adapt.”

Since retiring, he began playing drums for a worship team at his local church and got married. His wife knew he was an artist, but wasn’t married to him during the time he was animating. She was surprised when she attended a convention with him recently and a fan came up to tell him he was a legend. He has since used that to his advantage with her in saying, “Legends shouldn’t have to take out the garbage around the house.”

A rare look at Hollywood history

PHOTO BY DUANE MADDY Original X-Fighter from "Star Wars: Episode IV -- A New Hope" from McCune Masterworks

PHOTO BY DUANE MADDY
Original X-Wing Fighter from “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” from McCune Masterworks

Profiles in History, one of the world’s largest auctioneers of Hollywood memorabilia, gave fans a rare opportunity to see screen-used and production models from “Star Wars” and “Spaceballs” as well as other pieces from visual effects master Grant McCune and his Academy Award winning team.

Profiles in History President and CEO Joe Maddalena and his team have auctioned off some of the most iconic pieces of entertainment history. The Profiles staff was featured on two seasons of “Hollywood Treasure” which aired on the SyFy Network from 2010-2012.

Among the standouts of the display was the “Blockade Runner,” which was the first flying ship audiences around the world saw hurtling through space in the opening sequence of “Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope” carrying Princess Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 among its crew.

PHOTO BY DUANE MADDY Lone Starr's winnebago from "Spaceballs" courtesy of McCune Masterworks.

PHOTO BY DUANE MADDY
Lone Starr’s winnebago from “Spaceballs” courtesy of McCune Masterworks.

Other items on display included Lone Starr’s winnebago filming miniature from “Spaceballs” and a selection of four incredible musical automata: “Survival of the Fittest” (Dodo Bird Evolving), “Confusion” (miniature Art Deco Theater plays movie), “Wired Exports” (Brass Armillary) and “Tender Credibility” (miniature Gold Mine Mountain) and a number of other original McCune Masterworks creations.

McCune was the chief model maker on “A New Hope” and won the Academy Award for his work on the film. The X-Wing, Millennium Falcon, TIE fighter, Sand Crawler, Blockade Runner and Death Star were built under his direction, and he also personally worked on many of the robots in the film, including R2-D2.

“We are thrilled to promote McCune Masterworks at our booth at Comic-Con this year. The public debut of Princess Leia’s Blockade Runner – the first spaceship seen in the original Star Wars film – will be great for all the fans to see. In addition, we want the world to know about Grant’s legacy and the fantastic creations of McCune Masterworks. Their creativity and craftsmanship is beyond reproach – they can literally build anything that you can imagine,” Maddalena said.

Kathy McCune, Grant’s wife and president/owner of McCune Masterworks, said the company is planning an auction and Kickstarter campaign to fund the Nova Docking Station. The station is a customizable modular display system for collectors of miniature scale spacecraft created by McCune Masterworks. The docking bays will include lighting and power jacks. The Profiles in History auction featuring “The Blockade Runner” will be from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1. For more information, visit www.profilesinhistory.com or www.mccunemasterworks.com.

The Art of A Movement

When I was in the fifth grade, I drew a picture on a sheet of notebook paper during my free time after our lesson. A cranky substitute teacher, Mr. Ball, walked around the class and saw that I was using my time to draw. He crumpled the paper in his wrinkled hand and threw it in the waste basket by his desk. I don’t remember what his lesson was on, but to this day, I remember that moment. I remember it every time I start work on a painting that someone is paying me to do, or whenever I finish designing art for a musician’s album.

Art and music programs are often considered expendable when it comes to school budgets. For years, they’ve been cut, trimmed, downsized, or left for dead by bureaucracy and politics.

Flash forward to a beautiful 70 degree July morning in California, 2015.

San Diego Comic-Con 2015 held a large panel, teeming with a crowd of educators, children, cosplayers and people of all ages, with Congressman John Lewis. Lewis is a civil rights icon who actually cosplayed as himself to the convention, only himself 50 years ago as he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. He wore a replica of his trench coat, a backpack with the same contents he had that day and the same style of khaki pants he had worn when he made his historic and march and was met with violence and hatred.

Congressman Lewis, along with artist Nate Powell and co-author Andrew Aydin, has written a series of graphic novels depicting his unbelievably powerful life story and a first hand telling of the civil rights movement. The books are being used in schools as a way to allow students to see more than just the few talking points that the civil rights era is generally given. The stories cross a broad range of emotions and time periods, from his childhood and beyond. Powell’s art delivers a first-person view in the second book, from a point of view of the ones who were throwing the punches. The art is driving, the stories are powerful, the history comes alive.

“You can’t sugarcoat history, or the way people were treated. White people were arrested right beside me and put in a separate jail. You have to tell that.” Lewis went on to say the actions of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired him to get into trouble in a good way. “Good trouble” as he called it.

Co-author, Andrew Aydin, approached Lewis about a graphic novel of his life in passing in 2008. Other members of congress laughed at the idea, but Lewis saw it as a great way to reach young people, offering hope. Aydin said that this was actually not the first time the civil rights movement was addressed in the form of a comic book. In 1957, Martin Luther King was a part of editing a comic book of his own life.

The March books are already being used in 40 schools and colleges. The books are breaking barriers and opening doors of opportunity for teachers to address the decades of change that the movement has brought about in a way that is very unique. A teacher from San Diego mentioned during the panel that she is struggling to teach the second book because it is so powerful and emotional. She asked for advice on how to approach the book with her students. Powell said, “The second book is ‘The Empire Strikes Back.’ It’s darker, but it’s necessary to the story.” That resonated with the crowd. There has to be a struggle for there to be an outcome.

Lewis was asked what the most pressing point of struggle is today and how can we address it. He said that there are several, but he saw student loans and education as something that demands our attention. “People are spending a fortune on education in this country, only to graduate and have to work just to cover the costs of that education. Martin Luther King’s dream has not been realized. We also need to raise the minimum wage.” The solution, from Lewis’s perspective, is that people must “continue to cause trouble in a good way.”

This took me back to the story of Mister Ball, the cantankerous old substitute who threw my artwork into his trash can, with no regard for the work I had put into it, or how I would grow up to work in the art field as a professional. Congressman Lewis had his own versions of mean ol’ Mister Ball. Lewis caused trouble, in a good way. Disturbing the status quo can break the chains of traditional hypocrisy, bigotry, or malevolence in any form. It occurred to me that Congressman Lewis prioritized education as one of the most important struggles today. The cost of furthering an education, the educators themselves and the approach to education all were key elements in the panel discussion and a dynamic allocation to the answer of causing trouble is through art.

Art will find a way to live on in schools, as will music and creativity, in spite of cutbacks and budget adjustments. The Mister Balls of the world will come and go, but there will always be a student causing trouble, in a good way.

Team Coco Takes Comic-Con

 

Thursday, the first official day of the convention, was the best day we’ve ever had at a convention. Before we left home, I spent 3 hours getting tickets to a live taping of “Conan” on Thursday. Conan O’Brien moderated the “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” panel and I hoped the cast would be guests on his show that day. Thankfully, I was right. We got up at 2:30 a.m. to get ready and head to the theater and got in line around 4. Our dedication paid off and we were reward with two seats right up front.

Hanging out at Wired Cafe. Amazing time and all free!!

Hanging out at Wired Cafe. Amazing time and all free!!

 

We spent a couple of hours at Wired Cafe, which provided us with free food, drinks, charging stations (the struggle to keep devices charged is real) and plenty of selfie opportunities. They were incredible hosts and an event I definitely would love to attend again.

 

One of the nicest celebs we've met. Total class act and the man responsible for making our trip the best it could be!

One of the nicest celebs we’ve met. Total class act and the man responsible for making our trip the best it could be!

We headed back over to the historic Spreckels Theater to catch a glimpse of Conan arriving. Not only did we succeed, we were the only ones there when he was dropped off! He gladly gave us an autograph and photo. We then settled in to see the “Mockingjay” cast arrive. Seeing Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth was #1 on list of to-dos and our mission was accomplished!

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As if the day couldn’t be better after seeing JLaw and the crew, the taping went above and beyond our expectations. Jimmy Vivino and The Basic Cable Band were on point, Andy Richter was the perfect sidekick and Conan pretty much made our trip. Duane had worn his University of Kentucky shirt to the show. Since Jennifer and Josh both hail from the Bluegrass state, they took notice and during two separate commercial breaks gave props to Duane from the stage. So, Katniss and Peeta talked to my husband! It was unreal. When the show ended, we were also among the few audience members that Conan hugged. We still can’t get over how perfect the day was.

So, even with the miles logged so far, our feet can’t wait to carry us through the rest of Comic-Con 2015.

W.Va. ‘Voice’ contestant misses cut in ‘Knockout’ round

The Voice - Season 8

Beckley’s Cody Wickline performs “Til My Last Day” on Tuesday’s airing of “The Voice” on NBC.

Tuesday night marked the end of the road for Beckley native Cody Wickline on NBC’s singing competition, “The Voice.”

Having advanced through the audition and “Battle” rounds, Wickline was pitted against Corey Kent White in the “Knockout” segment between “team members” under the mentorship of country music star Blake Shelton.

Wickline performed Justin Moore’s 2013 hit “Til My Last Day” while White did a cover of Tim McGraw’s 2004 crossover smash “Live Like You Were Dying.”

Forced to choose between his two proteges, Shelton selected White to move on. Under the show’s format, other members of the celebrity panel — Christina Aguilera, Pharrell Williams and Adam Levine — were free to pick up Wickline for their teams, but declined.

Following the Knockout round are the Live Playoffs and the final live performance segment, where the television audience votes for the winner who receives a recording contract. The show airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m.