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Max Headroom Returns

Remember Max Headroom?

Sure you do. If you're old enough.

M-M-Max was a king, once upon a time.



Twenty minutes into the future... thirty years into the past... it was 1987, and Max was the hottest television personality in the world, with the hottest television show. Actually, he had several shows. He started out in the Uk introducing music videos. Then he got his own talk show, also in the UK. And then a ground-breaking British television movie. New Coke made him their official spokesman. Then Max crossed the Atlantic to get his own sf show on ABC. He made the cover of NEWSWEEK, was parodied on the cover of MAD, did a guest appearance with David Letterman.



Alas, alack, Max Headroom's reign as the king of popular media proved as short lived as New Coke. His series on ABC was hailed as innovative, startling, ground-breaking, original... like nothing else on television... the first cyberpunk television show... but it proved to be way WAY ahead of its time, starting strong and falling fast, surviving for only two short semi-seasons, an initial run of six episodes, and a second season of seven. Then ABC pulled the plug, and Max vanished from the airwaves, surviving only in the hearts and minds of science fiction fans.

Thirty years have come and gone since that glorious year of 1987, and once again we're going twenty minutes into the future... in Santa Fe, at least. So mark the dates May 13 - May 20 down on your calendars, and be sure to swing by the Jean Cocteau Cinema.

That's the week we're having our M-M-M-MAXATHON!!!

Yes, that's right. We've having a whole week of Max, to celebrate his 30th anniversary. We'll be screening all fourteen episodes of his show: the original British pilot, "Twenty Minutes Into the Future," and the American remake of same, plus every one of the ABC hours that followed. You saw them once on your little-bitty 1987 tv set. Now see them again on the Cocteau's big medium-sized screen. With our world famous popcorn... and maybe we can even find some New Coke!

Some very special guests will be coming to Santa Fe to help us celebrate the anniversary. Head writer STEVE ROBERTS, who scripted the British pilot and crossed the pond to head the writing staff for the ABC show, will be flying in to join us, and MICHAEL CASSUTT, another of Max's writer producers will be with us start to finish. After thirty years, they're ready to spill all the secrets. But wait, there's more... Max himself is coming too. Yes, MATT FREWER, the one and only Max Headroom, will be on hand for the last three days of the M-M-M-Maxathon.

Oh, and one more thing. We'll also be featuring, for the very first time anywhere, two Max Headroom episodes that have never been seen or heard before anywhere, two episodes written by a guy you won't find listed anywhere in the credits for the show: me.

Yep. That's right. MAX HEADROOM is the great "what if" in my own television career.

For me, MAX came along after my stint on TWILIGHT ZONE and before BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. When ABC first greenlit the US show, they ordered six original scripts to follow the pilot, almost all of which ended up getting assigned to writers just coming off TZ. I was one of those. Mine was supposedly to be... hmmmmm, let me see now... the fourth episode of the series. My title was "Mister Meat." Now, TV writing in those days was a two-step process: "story with option to teleplay," they called it. You wrote a 'story,' a short plot outline with all the major beats and characters. Then, when the showrunners, studio, and network all approved it, you went on to write the teleplay.

"Mister Meat" never got that far, alas. The showrunners and my fellow Maxxies loved it, as I recall, but when ABC saw the story they reacted with horror. Way too disturbing and offensive, they announced, driving a spike firmly through my concept and sending me on my way. Which I why I never got hired onto MAX HEADROOM and wound up on staff on BEAUTY AND THE BEAST instead.

I got a second chance when MAX was picked up for a second season, however. As a freelancer, I got the choice assignment of writing the Christmas episode. And this time I went to town. Wrote the story, rewrote the story, wrote the teleplay, revised the teleplay. "Xmas" was the title of the episode, and it got as far as pre-production...

And then the show was cancelled. Rather suddenly and unceremoniously, I must say. America was spared from celebrating Xmas with Max.

Ah, but with strange aeons even death may die... and like all good writers, I never throw anything away. So as part of our Jean Cocteau M-M-M-Maxathon, the world will meet "Mister Meat" and "Xmas" for the first time. "Mister Meat" is just a short treatment, so I will be reading it myself on the third day of the marathon, in the slot it would have filled if it had been filmed. Come and hear the episode that ABC deemed too offensive and disgusting for Ronald Reagan's America.

As for "Xmas"... hell, we have a whole finished script of that one, so we're going to be performing it, live, on the tiny little stage at the Jean Cocteau. Lenore Gallegos will direct, and the parts of Edison Carter, Bryce, Theora, Blank Reg, Max himself, and all the rest of the gang from Network 23 and the ZikZak corporation will be performed by a fearless cast of local actors... whoever ends up playing Max will HAVE to fearless, to play the part with Matt Frewer in the audience.

May 20. Be there, or forever rue your absence.

Oh, and as usual, the screenings will all be FREE.

((But we will charge admission for the performance of "Xmas"))



May 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20. Don't m-m-m-miss it.

Author, Author, Author, Author

We love writers at the Jean Cocteau Cinema, and April is going to be one of our biggest months ever for author events, with no less than four of them scheduled.

First up, on Sunday April 2, we'll be hosting the editors and contributors for the GUNS, an original anthology about... yes, you guessed it, guns. Editor Gerald Hausman will be joining us for the evening, together with writers Trent Zelazny, Jane Lindskold, M. Scott Momaday, Rebecca Godfrey Poe, Peter Lauritzen, Peter Eichstaedt, Jim Terr, and Alice Carney.



One week later, on Sunday April 9, we'll once again be hosting one of our favorite people, the one and only CONNIE WILLIS. Connie's got a new book out: CROSSTALK, her long-awaited romcom, and as usual it's a delight... as is she. Of course, we'll have her other books as well, the many Hugo- and Nebula-award winners, and the one or two that were only runners-up.



Just a few days later, on Saturday April 15, we will have the honor to host one of New Mexico's own treasures, JOHN NICHOLS, the author of THE MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR. There's never been a writer who captured the soul of northern New Mexico like Nichols, and the Jean Cocteau is thrilled to have him.



Last but not least, JOHN SCALZI will be hitting town on Monday, April 17, with his new novel THE COLLAPSING EMPIRE. (And rest assured, we'll have his older books on hand as well, including his Hugo award winning REDSHIRTS).



Remember, the Jean Cocteau has only 130 seats, and some of these events are already filling up fast. To reserve a book, and a seat, go to the Jean Cocteau website http://jeancocteaucinema.com/ and get in your order now.

See you at the movies... er... the booksignings.

The Martians Have Landed

Well, not really. But our friend Andy Weir did drop by this afternoon for lunch. And Andy, as you all know, is the author of THE MARTIAN. Andy is in the Land of Enchantment overseeing the filming of the pilot episode of MISSION CONTROL, his new series for CBS. Melinda Snodgrass and I had the opportunity to visit the set last week, and I have to say, it's looking great.

Of course, we couldn't let Andy escape our clutches without making him autograph some books. He was kind enough to sit down and scribble his name on forty hardcover copies of THE MARTIAN... which we can now offer for sale through the JCC website, while the supply lasts.



If you want one, move soon... last time Andy came by, we sold out all the autographed copies in a few weeks. It's first come, first served, as ever.

The Jean Cocteau has all sorts of other signed books for sale as well, for all the autograph hounds out there. Here are a few of them.



(And yes, we have a bunch of signed books by the Martin guy as well).

Happy reading.

Lovecraft in the Land of Enchantment

We had a great time last week when H.P. Lovecraft returned from the grave to visit us here in the Land of Yig Enchantment.

If you missed it -- shame on you -- well, it turns out that HPL recorded a couple of segments of his "Ask Lovecraft" YouTube series while he was here in town.





Seeing HPL at Meow Wolf was especially fun, since there are a couple of... ahem... decidedly Lovecraftian touches to be found in the House of Eternal Return.

If you ever get a chance to see Leeman Kessler perform as HPL, do catch him. It's the next best thing to a shuggoth on your doorstep.

Magic Times Three

If you're a fan of magic, we have some great shows in store for you these next few months, right here in River City Santa Fe.

First up, at the Jean Cocteau, the amazing FRANCIS MENOTTI will be returning for three more shows. Francis is the guy who stumped Penn & Teller, and he'll be performing the "stumper" for us as well, along with a host of other tricks, on Friday April 21 and Saturday, April 22.



Next up, all the way from Down Under, will be a pair of young Aussie lads who call themselves... yes... THE NAKED MAGICIANS! The Jean Cocteau is co-sponsoring this one with the Lensic, since our stage is way too small (and way too close) to hold an act as... revealing... as the Naked Magicians. The Lensic, with its big auditorium and huge stage, will do just fine.



The boys from down under will be in town for ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY on Tuesday, May 30. For tickets, you will need to go to the Lensic website at http://tickets.ticketssantafe.org/single/EventDetail.aspx?p=3965

Last, but far from least, one of our favorites returns to the Jean Cocteau for her third time: MISTY LEE, straight from LA's famous Magic Castle. Catch her at the JCC June 9-10, for three shows.



For this visit, Misty has promised to STAB an audience member!

Tickets for Misty Lee and Francis Menotti can be purchased from the Jean Cocteau Cinema website, at http://jeancocteaucinema.com/

Don't miss you, or we'll turn you into a toad!

Wild Cards Gets Wilder

A couple of cool new additions to our Wild Cards website went up today.

On the blog, John Jos. Miller talks about gaming in the Wild Cards universe... and his own life story. Check it out at: http://www.wildcardsworld.com/the-secret-origins-of-the-wild-card-universe/

And over in our video section, our own March Madness... in August. Which is to say, the highlights from the Wild Cards Cage Matches from MidAmericon II:

http://www.wildcardsworld.com/wild-cards-media/

((The Amazing Bubbles still insists that she was robbed)).

Bad Journalism

I am no fan of what passes for journalism on the internet, but I've got to admit, I have been taken aback by the sheer amount of bullshit that's been proliferating all over the web about our Stagecoach Foundation initiative... some of it posted on what I would have previously regarded as reputable news outlets with familiar names, but almost all of it off-base and, well... wrong.

There seems to be some sort of grotesque echo chamber effect going on here. These stories are not only full of errors, but they are the same errors. Rather than checking facts with the primary sources, the writers here (I will not call them 'reporters') are just copying from one another.

When I was in journalism school at Northwestern, we were drilled in the head every day with Joseph Pulitzer's famous maxim, "Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy." That seems to have gone out of favor, at least on the internet.

Instead I am put in mind of Jonathan Swift, who said, "Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it."

So please allow me to come limping up long enough to say:
-- the Stagecoach building is not 30,000 square feet. Someone pulled that number out of their ass, and dozens of other reports have repeated it. That's a rough approximate figure for MEOW WOLF, an entirely different place on the other side of Santa Fe. The Stagecoach building is perhaps a third that size,
-- I did not "build" Stagecoach. David Weininger did that in 1999, as the headquarters for his compnay, Daylight Chemical Information Systems,
-- I am not "opening a film studio." Stagecoach is a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing more film and television production to Santa Fe, it is not a film studio,
-- there are no sound stages at Stagecoach (though there are several here in town, at the Santa Fe Studios and the Greer Garson Studios). It's an office building, and will be used primarily for pre- and post-production purposes,
-- I am not going to be "running" a foundation, much less a studio. That task I've given to a dynamic young lady named Marisa X. Jimenez, who helped open Santa Fe Studios here in town, and who will have total charge of the day-to-day operations of Stagecoach, under a board of directors.

If there are any real journalists out there who would like to do an accurate story about the Stagecoach Foundation and our plans for it, Marisa is the person to contact, at Marisa@stagecoachfdn.org. She'll be glad to send you our press release and answer your questions. In the meantime, hey, can people please stop making shit up?

Meow Wolf at One

Meow Wolf celebrates its first anniversary today.

What an amazing year it's been.

When we opened on March 18, 2016, the hope was that we would draw 100,000 visitors to the attraction annually. Instead Meow Wolf drew more than 400,000 visitors during its first year, and became one of Santa Fe's leading attractions, revitalizing an entire neighborhood.

https://meowwolf.com/2017/03/first-year-numbers-post/

If you haven't been yet, you really don't know what you're missing.

And rest assured... the best is yet to come.

March Madness

No, I'm not talking about basketball. I'm a football guy, mostly. A little baseball on the side. But I don't follow basketball, or hockey, or soccer, or tennis, or golf.

My own March has been pretty damned mad, however. Hard to believe half the month is gone already.

We had two great nights at the JCC with Leeman Kessler and ASK LOVECRAFT. His YouTube videos are a lot of fun, but he's even better in person. If you have a chance to see him at a con, don't miss it. Some of his bits are funny, but he also has moments (as HPL) that are moving and profound.

The HAP & LEONARD premiere was also terrific. It's always great to see Joe Lansdale, and the second season of the show looks to be even better than the first.

And of course on Tuesday we brought together the Santa Fe film community up on the hill, and rolled out the Stagecoach Foundation. That was exciting as well.

(Though I have to confess, reading some of the various reports about Stagecoach on line makes me want to bang my head against the desk and bewail what passes for journalism in this age of the internet. Back when I was a journalism student at Northwestern, some of these clowns would have gotten themselves a "Medill F." They don't even get basic facts right. mutter mutter mutter)

Besides all that, there's been the huge new Wild Cards deal, the Wild Cards reread, lots of stuff with HBO that I cannot talk about yet, and of course -- always, always -- WINDS OF WINTER.

So much to do. And the days go by so quickly. I love my work, all my work, all my projects, all my children, but sometimes it seems as if the harder I work, the further behind I get.

Maybe things will calm down soon. But I am not holding my breath.

Stagecoach Rolls Out

Now it can be told.

On Tuesday everybody who is anybody in the Santa Fe film community gathered up the hill at the former headquarters of the Daylight Chemical Information Systems for the official rollout of the Stagecoach Foundation, dedicated to bring more film and television production to the City Different and the Land of Enchantment. We're very excited.



Stagecoach will be a non-profit foundation. Our dream is to bring more jobs to the people of Santa Fe, and to help train the young people of the city for careers in the entertainment industry, through internships, mentoring, and education.

Once upon a time, before airplanes, before railroads, it was the stagecoachs that brought people to Santa Fe. Our hope is that Stagecoach will do the same.

And none of this would be possible without the generosity and visions of the late David Weininger, who passed away in November... but whose legacy will live on.

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