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Could J.J. Abrams Become The Guiding Force Behind Everything Star Wars?

AbramsAs Disney is busy plotting the future of the Star Wars franchise, it seems like they are following the same sort of approach as with their Marvel Cinematic Universe. When Disney acquired Marvel Studios in 2009, they began constructing an interconnected universe of new movies, TV series, and animated series. One of the reasons why the Marvel Cinematic Universe works as well as it does is because it has producer Kevin Feige and director Joss Whedon overseeing every piece of development. It’s why DC Comics is still having a hard time catching up to Marvel with their own burgeoning expanded universe series of films. If Lucasfilm plans to follow in the footsteps of Marvel, who will take the role of the Star Wars universe’s new mastermind? Rumor has it: J.J. Abrams.

According to StarWars7News.com, director J.J. Abrams would fill the creative consultant role for every piece of the new Star Wars expanded movie universe. The site continues to say that Abrams’ involvement will not stop with Star Wars: Episode VII, but will continue on for the foreseeable future. Considering the unproven source, we suggest swallowing this with a good amount of salt. StarWars7News.com writes:

I heard from sources close to Abrams that his involvement with Star Wars will be huge. For now he may only be directing Episode 7 but also he will supervise and consult all other side projects from the franchise — games, spin-off movies, TV series etc. And while Kathleen Kennedy will be the managing core of the franchise Abrams will be the creative core through which everything will pass.

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Google Admits What We All Knew Was True—Gmail Isn’t Private

gmail-watchingOh, Google. You’ve gotten so good at pissing people off. In a court filing, Google has admitted that anyone sending email to one of the 425 million Gmail users has “no reasonable expectation” of confidentiality. Consumer Watchdog calls it a “stunning admission,” but I’m thinking, “No shit, people! What did you expect?”

Google has taken some heat for its possible role in the NSA surveillance scandal — I bet Edward Snowden has deleted his Gmail account — but this recent admission stems from Google’s response to a class-action lawsuit filed in July alleging that the company has broken wire tap laws by scanning email from other accounts to better inundate Gmail users with targeted ads. The lawsuit also alleges that Google hasn’t been upfront about disclosing the extent to which they harvest information.

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Vin Diesel Joins Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Action Flick Soldiers Of The Sun

Vin DieselActor Vin Diesel has seen something of a renaissance in his recent career, with his 2009 return to The Fast and the Furious film franchise. Before Fast & Furious, Vin Diesel seemed to want to break away from the über-macho, tough guy persona, shifting to lighter fare such as The Pacifier and Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty. Lately, Diesel is back in the badass business with Furious 6 and the upcoming Riddick sequel film. Now he’s added another science fiction action film to his resume, signing on to star in Soldiers of the Sun, based on a new screenplay from writer Arash Amel.

According to THR, Diesel is set to star in and produce Soldiers of the Sun for Universal. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic future world and follows a squad of soldiers searching for a fabled city of gold while on a tour of duty in Mexico. During their search, an alien raced called “The Orcs” (no relation to the brutes from Lord of the Rings, surely) ambushes them.

Diesel recently confirmed that he would voice Groot, the treelike alien member of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Considering his super-busy schedule with promoting Riddick, shooting The Fast and the Furious 7, and now producing and starring Soldiers of the Sun, it seems like he could only fit a limited voiceover session into his schedule, so Guardians of the Galaxy seems perfect for him.

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X-Files Creator Chris Carter’s New Series The After May Become An Amazon Original

Chris Carter X-Files imageFor a guy who created one of the most iconic and influential series of the last two decades, X-Files mastermind Chris Carter has been surprisingly off the radar in the years since Mulder and Scully’s adventures wrapped up in 2002 (although they’re now continuing in comics form). He resurfaced in 2008 with the forgettable The X-Files: I Want to Believe, but it was unclear if Carter would ever wow us with another new project or if he was just going to settle into a comfortable retirement swimming laps inside his Scrooge McDuck-style money vault. Last year we first got word of a new science fiction series he was developing called The After, and now there’s finally more news about it: it may skip broadcast and cable and instead become an Amazon original series.

At the time, The After was even more vague and mysterious than it is now, being described only as mixing “science fiction, suspense, and real-world fear and paranoia.” Well, that certainly sounds like a Chris Carter joint. A new report from Deadline reveals that Amazon is currently greenlighting its next crop of pilots, and The After is near the top of their list. The story also provides one more tiny morsel about the show’s concept: it’s said to be set “at the moment of apocalypse.”

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New Breakthrough Sheds Light On Cancer’s Origins

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that cancer sucks. I know all too well. The thing about cancer that is most scary, and also most impressive from a scientific standpoint, is its ability to adapt and mutate, to figure out how to beat chemotherapy and the body’s defenses. Once cancer spreads to another organ, it starts to behave differently, as though it’s an alien that has just given birth inside the body, loosing more lethal entities into the system. Cancer mutates, quickly and, at least it seems, intelligently. And while cancer has largely remained a mystery, we know that cancer is caused by genetic mutations. Now, we know more than ever about what underlies those mutations, thanks to scientists from the UK’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, home of the Cancer Genome Project, which has charted 21 mutations that cause 97% of the most common cancers.

In a nutshell, a cancerous tumor starts when something goes wrong in a cell. Cells acquire mutations over time, and while some causes, such as smoking and exposure to UV light, have already been identified, many remain unknown. Pinpointing the causes of the mutations is key to developing new treatments.

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Orphan Black Adds Two New Non-Clone Characters For Second Season

orphan black clonesOrphan Black fans, can you believe how long it’s been since the first season ended, especially knowing that we still won’t see the second season for another eight months or so? Seriously, it’s enough for me to want to clone myself and drop it down a well, just so I’m not the only me suffering. On the plus side, we do get another eight months of news tidbits and casting announcements. The quality of this is relative to your enjoyment of such things. The latest reveal comes in the form of a casting notice for two new characters for season two. And since the addition of a clone wouldn’t call for any other casting beyond the amazing Tatiana Maslany, you know new faces are entering this fairly dangerous fray.

Pastor Johanssen is the more important-sounding of the two, and hopefully everyone refers to him by both names every time they speak to him. Introduced in the second episode, Johanssen is the leader of the Proletheans, of whom Helena’s “master” Tomas was a devotee. As over-the-top as that character was, I can’t imagine getting to meet the top dog of that backwards organization. He’s also described as being “fervently anti-science and views GMOs and synthetic biology as a modern affront to God’s work.” So in other words, he’s like six out of the ten strangers I meet. I hope he becomes fully involved into the story though, and isn’t limited to creepy dungeon scenes like Tomas was. This show’s various villains all wound up becoming the good guys’ allies at different points, so there needs to be a definably evil person to root against all season.