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Friday, June 28, 2013

Into the Woods Coming to the Silver Screen

Written by Kyle Slagley

There has long been a crossover between Hollywood and Broadway—whether it be actors like Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Lane, Hugh Jackman, or most recently Tom Hanks jumping from the stage to the screen, or directors like Sam Mendes who flit from behind the curtain to behind the camera. Stories themselves also transcend mediums and anyone who knows anything about theatre can also rattle off a half a dozen shows that are also movies: Sound of Music, Lion King, Big Fish, Legally Blonde, Chicago, and yes, even Shrek.

Although it got very mixed reviews from critics and theatregoers—which are pretty much the same thing since theatre fans are some of the most critical people I know—the box office success of Les Miserables has more than likely opened the floodgates from a steady trickle to what will be a full-out tsunami of shows turned movies and movies turned shows.

One that I am looking forward to in particular is the Christmas 2014 release of Into the Woods, which looks to have a powerhouse Hollywood cast lined up. The show takes the storylines from Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel and weaves them all together using original characters The Baker and his wife, who are pitted against a witch. I mean, you can’t have a good fairy tale without a witch, right?

So far, casting reports are that the following stars are in some stage of negotiation: Johnny Depp playing the Wolf, Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal as the princes of Rapunzel and Cinderella, Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, James Corden as The Baker, Meryl Streep as The Witch, and Anna Kendrick as Cinderella. Quite the lineup if you ask me! Also, Rob Marshall, who directed the Oscar-winning film Chicago, is slated to direct.

It seems to me that films like this—ones that take a very well-known musical with a hyper-devoted following and put it on screen—usually appeal to only one audience, either the film crowd or the theatre crowd, but rarely both. In order to make money at the box office, filmmakers are now padding the cast with Hollywood A-listers. It seems to me that this will further entice moviegoers to see it, but in the long run as the trend continues, it will alienate the theatre crowd. Though there is obviously a lot more money in getting movie buffs to the movies than getting theatre buffs to the movies.

It remains to be seen how much of the original Stephen Sondheim music from the stage production makes it into the film, or how much the actors will sing. Rest assured, though, that if the film makes money (and with a cast like that, it will), it’s only a matter of time before we see Russell Brand taking on the role of Rum Tum Tugger.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Canada Day for Movie Lovers

In honour of Canada Day coming up on Monday, check out this great map of Canada made up of images filmed in our great nation! (Click the image for a larger version.)

Yukon: The Big Year
Northwest Territories: Arctic Air
Nunavut: Ice Pilots
British Columbia: Twilight
Alberta: Unforgiven
Saskatchewan: Goon
Ontario: Cosmopolis
Quebec: Bon Cop Bad Cop
Newfoundland and Labrador: The Republic of Doyle
Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables
Nova Scotia: Amelia
New Brunswick: Still Mine

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Memoriam: Richard Matheson

Written by Jon Williams

Well-known American writer Richard Matheson passed away on Monday. He was 87.

Matheson was a screenwriter and author of novels and short stories in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. He was most recognized for his 1954 vampire novel I Am Legend. He also wrote the notable novels Hell House, What Dreams May Come, and A Stir of Echoes, among others.

I Am Legend, about a lone human survivor of a pandemic that has turned the populace into bloodthirsty vampires, has been adapted into a movie three separate times: The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price (1964), The Omega Man with Charlton Heston (1971), and I Am Legend with Will Smith (2007). Interestingly, it also influenced the development of zombie films, as it served as the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead, which has been a major influence on the horror genre. Matheson himself influenced many horror writers in his own right, among them Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Anne Rice. King and Hill teamed up to write the story “Throttle” in homage to Matheson’s story “Duel”; the two stories can be found together in an audio compilation entitled Road Rage.

In addition to his acclaimed novels and short stories, Matheson also wrote and adapted stories for film and television.  He wrote several episodes of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone, as well as the classic Star Trek episode “The Enemy Within,” in which a transporter malfunction creates an evil manifestation of Captain Kirk. He adapted his own novels into the films The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Legend of Hell House, and Somewhere in Time, while What Dreams May Come came to the silver screen as well. More recently, the movies The Box and Real Steel were based on short stories by Matheson.

Matheson’s most recent novel, Other Kingdoms, was published in 2011. His voice will surely be missed by the genres he worked in and heavily influenced. For a full list of Richard Matheson audiobooks offered by CVS Midwest Tape, click here.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kanye Making Waves with Yeezus

Written by Kyle Slagley

Rapper and hip-hop artist Kanye West is nothing if not unconventional, and his latest album, Yeezus, which hit shelves on June 18, is no exception. Not only did West keep sales (including pre-orders) on the album completely closed until the scheduled street date, even the casing is something we’ve never seen. Below is a photo of what you’ll get when you buy it.

As you can see, there is no cover art on either the front or the back and there is no booklet included, simply the orange sticker that seals the case under the standard shrink-wrap. The back of the case does include a nearly transparent sticker indicating the track listing and various credits. The disc itself has small white print around the outer edge with basic album information.

In an effort to best represent the album as West intended, CVS Midwest Tape customers whose processing package includes digital cover art will receive the album with the cover art pictured below. The spine will show a copy of the barcode sticker so the album is identifiable.

If you have any questions, please contact our Customer Service department at (866) 698-2231 or by email at

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Loss of Giants

Written by Jon Williams

The entertainment world was rocked on Wednesday night by the tragic passing of actor James Gandolfini. He was 51.

Gandolfini was best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano in HBO’s hit series The Sopranos. Playing the part demanded a mix of violence and vulnerability, and Gandolfini was more than equal to the task. He won three Emmy Awards (and was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor each season) for his portrayal of the character during its six-season run. The show itself was recently named the Best Written TV Show Ever by the Writer’s Guild of America.

Gandolfini’s co-stars have expressed their shock and sorrow at the actor’s passing. “He was a man of tremendous depth and sensitivity,” said Edie Falco, who played Tony Soprano’s wife Carmela. Steven Van Zandt, who played the Soprano family’s consigliere Sil Dante, said, “The world has lost one of the greatest actors of all time.” And Sopranos creator David Chase called Gandolfini “…a genius…he was my brother in ways I can’t explain and never will be able to explain.”

Since The Sopranos ended in 2007, Gandolfini kept himself busy, appearing in recent movies such as The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Zero Dark Thirty. For a full selection of titles featuring this talented, beloved actor, click here.

Sadly, that wasn’t the only loss the media industry suffered on Wednesday. Vince Flynn, author of political thrillers featuring agent Mitch Rapp, lost a battle with cancer on Wednesday. He was 47.

Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush counted among Flynn’s fans. In fact, his portrayal of the CIA and its methods were known for being so accurate that President Bush once asked him where he got his information.

Flynn’s first novel, Term Limits (which is not a Rapp story), was published in 1997. His second novel, Transfer of Power, was the first to feature Rapp, and there are currently 13 novels in the Rapp series. The fourteenth, The Survivor, will be published in October.  He also consulted on the fifth season of the Fox series 24. Click here for a complete listing of Flynn’s novels.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Remembering Michael Jackson

Written by Jon Williams

It’s been nearly four years since the passing of Michael Jackson. The intervening years have done little to fill the void left by the silencing of his voice. On June 25, the fourth anniversary of his death, pop music stations will play his songs more frequently, if not all day, and his songs will emanate from car stereos and office cubicle CD players as fans celebrate the musical legacy the King of Pop left behind.

Born into a musical family in 1958, Jackson’s music career ostensibly began at age five when he began playing congas and tambourine for his brothers’ band. By the time he was eight, he was sharing lead vocal duties with his brother Jermaine, and the Jackson 5 was born. The family band signed with the prestigious Motown label in 1968, and their debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, was released in December of 1969. The group’s first single, “I Want You Back,” hit #1 in January of 1970, and a bona fide pop sensation was born.

Michael’s career as a solo artist began with the release of the album Got to Be There (available now only as part of Hello World, the compilation that collects Jackson’s four solo albums for Motown) in 1972, when he was just thirteen years old. He continued to record and perform with the Jackson 5 as well, eventually becoming the group’s primary songwriter. He branched out in other ways as well, starring as the Scarecrow in 1978’s The Wiz, an African-American spin on The Wizard of Oz. Although the film performed poorly at the box office, it wasn’t a complete failure for Michael—it was during this time that he met Quincy Jones, who arranged the film’s score, and asked him to produce his next album.

The rest, as they say, is history. The following year Jackson released the Jones-produced Off the Wall. The album, released on the Epic label, was an evolution from his work with Motown, incorporating elements of rock and disco. Supported by five singles, the album went on to sell over 20 million copies, earned Jackson his first Grammy Award, and eventually became known as one of the greatest albums of all time. Following up such a massive effort would be no easy task, but in 1982, Jackson and Jones teamed up once again on Thriller, an album even more successful than Off the Wall. Known for its title track and the music video that accompanied it, Thriller won eight Grammy Awards and has become the bestselling album of all-time.

Jackson and Jones would team up one more time, for Bad, released in 1987. While it didn’t quite measure up to the standards set by Thriller—how could it?—it still won six Grammys and became the first album to produce five #1 singles.

Jackson recorded and released three more albums (Dangerous, HIStory, and Invincible) before well-documented personal scandals began to take a toll on his career. He was rehearsing for a series of comeback performances when he passed away in 2009. His death at age 50 was a seminal cultural moment, causing crashes of such major Internet sites as Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia as people streamed to the Internet for information.

His passing caused a resurgence of interest in his musical career, which had seen little new output since Invincible in 2001. Later that year, the film This Is It was released (with an accompanying soundtrack), documenting Jackson’s rehearsals for the concert series he had planned. Then, in 2010, the posthumous album Michael was released, consisting of material left unfinished when Jackson died.

Four years later, interest in Jackson’s life and music remains strong. Later this month, a new Cirque du Soleil production (separate from its 2011 Immortal World Tour) will pay tribute to Jackson and his music. In addition, rumours continue to swirl about a huge trove of unreleased music that has yet to (officially) see the light of day. It seems safe to say that the world has not heard the last of Michael Jackson.

Make sure your patrons have access to the wide range of CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays, and audiobooks by and about this global music icon. Head over to our website and SmartBrowse “Michael Jackson” and “Jackson 5” to see everything we have to offer.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Safety in the Summertime

Written by Jon Williams

Summer vacation. The break from school can be a delight for the kids, but it’s not always so easy for the adults in their lives. Here are a few resources your library can offer for parents, babysitters, and other caregivers to learn to keep kids safe during their favourite time of year.

One of the highlights of the summer season is hitting the pool or the beach on a hot day. While it’s good for a fun-filled excursion, the water presents a unique set of dangers. While there’s no substitute for good swimming lessons with a qualified instructor, it’s important for a child to know some general water safety tips. Make My World Safe…Around Water presents some important information in this regard. For patrons who have pools in their own backyards, Swimming Pool Inspection can help them make sure the pool itself is as safe as it can be. And exposure to the sun calls for some safety measures, too.

The pool is by no means the only place where safety is paramount. Another entry in the Make My World Safe series deals with keeping children safe on the playground. If they’re involved in sports (organized or otherwise) there are always some issues to consider. Bicycle safety is important for kids on the go, as is neighbourhood safety. And it’s always important to remember that safety starts at home; that’s especially true as kids advance into their teenage years, when they may occasionally find themselves home (or elsewhere) alone.

Of course, no matter how much safeguarding you do, there’s always the possibility that an accident can happen. If one does, having someone who knows how to respond can be vital. To that end, caregivers should have a basic knowledge of first aid. That covers a wide variety of situations, from cuts and animal bites to broken bones and concussions. For more specific emergencies, CPR training can come in handy, and it’s important to note that the process is slightly different for adults and teenagers than for infants and children.

This is just a small sampling of products offered by CVS Midwest Tape that promote safety and emergency preparedness. For more, head over to our website and search terms like ‘safety,’ ‘first aid,’ and ‘CPR.’