First and Only Weekly Webzine Devoted to the Life and Works of Edgar Rice Burroughs
Since 1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages in Archive

Visit our News Archives to see older news events 
Readers in more recent years will note that
some of the reference links I've given with these news items
are no longer accessible.
This is a common problem we've found when promoting off-site links.
For this reason I've become a bit more hesitant to promote links from off-site
since our ERBzine pages back to 1996 are all active 
and are still being visited by our readers.

Reading works brain, feeds soul, 
but try convincing public of that 
Karen Sandstrom ~ Plain Dealer Book Editor ~ August 29, 2004
 As book sales fall flat and a national study suggests fewer people than ever read literature, the benefits of pleasure reading are far from obvious to overscheduled Americans with MTV attention spans. 

Teachers and public-service announcements pound the reading-is-good-for-you message into children from an early age. But by the time many people reach adulthood, they've lost sight of what marketing gurus might call the "takeaway value" of books. The value of reading can be hard to articulate even to enthusiasts. Then there are those who don't read, don't care that they don't read and don't worry that they're missing out. 

"It makes sense to recognize that for some people, reading isn't the game, and they'll achieve self-awareness through other means," says author and literature professor Mark Edmundson. "But most people stand to grow quite a lot through reading. Words have a magic. If you change the way people talk to themselves and to the world at large, you change the way that a person lives. Words have amazing power." 

In his new book, "Why Read?" (Bloomsbury, $21.95), Edmundson argues that books are more than just vitamins for the brain. They literally can change the direction of a person's life. "A liberal education uses books to rejuvenate, reaffirm, replenish, revise, overwhelm, replace, in some cases (alas) even help begin to generate the web of words that we're defined by," he writes. "But this narrative isn't a thing of mere words. The narrative brings with it commitments and hopes. . . . A new language, whether we learn it from a historian, a poet, a painter, or composer of music, is potentially a new way to live." 

During a telephone interview, Edmundson mentioned examples from his own reading life. A high school discussion of Ken Kesey's book, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," gave him insight into parallels between institutions often thought of as "bad," such as the novel's mental hospital, and those considered "good," such as his own high school. He suddenly understood that even good institutions have problems, and that protesting them was a justifiable way to fight the bad - while, say, breaking windows wasn't. 

At about the same time, he read "The Autobiography of Malcolm X." Edmundson, who is white, lived in a Boston-area town with a "small but significant race war problem," he said. Edmundson said he had no clue what life was like for black Americans; they were just the people he and his friends fought with. The book showed him life on the other side of the color line. "I stopped getting into fistfights," he said. "It didn't turn me into an angel or anything, but it was a step in the right direction." 

"Why Read?" is less a guide for generalists than a focused appeal to students and teachers at the college level to use literature as a springboard into discussions about what matters deeply in life: questions of love, honor, heroism, work and spirituality. College, he said, is "the time when you're making decisions of who you're going to be and what you're going to do. If you're converted by a book as a sophomore, it's a little bit easier than if you're married with two kids and a mortgage. But it can happen at any time." 

Or, if you're Joseph Psarto, it can happen all the time. The septuagenarian from Westlake said that while reading "has nothing to do with whether I'm a republican or a democrat or a communist or a socialist," books absolutely have played a role in the person he has become. 

His first "aha" reading experience happened at age 10. He used to read Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Tarzan" books while sitting beneath a tree on land owned by a wealthy family who lived near where he and his mother lived in a cold-water flat. 

"One day I was reading, and I said to myself, 'This isn't about the jungle. This is about an English gentleman and what it means to be an English lord. Everything he does is honorable,' " Psarto said. That trick that fiction has of seeming to be about one thing while illuminating another made a lifelong reader out of Psarto. 

"I realized that's what a novel does," he says. 

© 2004 The Plain Dealer. 

Blade Runner named best sci-fi film
Scientists surveyed name Asimov as favourite writer
Canadian Press ~ Thursday, August 26, 2004

LONDON (AP) -- A newspaper survey of top scientists has chosen Blade Runner as the world's best science fiction film. The 1982 movie was the favourite when 60 scientists were questioned by the Guardian, including evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, the newspaper reported Wednesday. In the film, a retired cop played by Harrison Ford hunts down renegade human replicates in a dark futuristic vision of Los Angeles. 

Stephen Minger, a stem cell biologist at King's College, London, said Blade Runner was the best movie he had ever seen. "It was so far ahead of its time and the whole premise of the story -- what is it to be human and who are we, where we come from. It's the age-old questions," he said. 

Stanley Kubrick's epic, 2001: A Space Odyssey, came in a close second, followed by the first two films of George Lucas's Star Wars trilogy: Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. The others chosen, in descending order, were Alien, Solaris (1972), Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds, The Matrix, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 

Asked to pick their favourite authors, the scientists chose: Isaac Asimov (I, Robot); John Wyndham (Day of the Triffids and Chocky); and Fred Hoyle (The Black Cloud).  The other writers chosen, in descending order, were Philip K. Dick, H.G. Wells, Ursula Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert and Stanislaw Lem. 

Conran Courts Princess 
SciFiWire ~ 25-August-04 

Writer/director Kerry Conran (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow) told SCI FI Wire that his next project, a proposed film based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, is one of the classic SF tales that has influenced many other books and movies. "I think Burroughs was sort of the father of the pulps, or at least one of them," Conran said in an interview. "If you read the whole John Carter series, in particular A Princess of Mars, you can see a lot of what came from it."

Princess is based on the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-volume John Carter of Mars series and centers on an American Civil War veteran who is mysteriously transported to Mars, whose inhabitants call it Barsoom. Mark Protosevich (The Cell) wrote the script. Conran stepped in after original director Robert Rodriguez had to drop out after he resigned from the Directors Guild of America in a dispute over his upcoming film Sin City.

Conran added that Princess of Mars has been influential. "I think George Lucas was certainly inspired by that story for Star Wars," Conran added. "And I think [J.R.R.] Tolkein, to some extent, was inspired by that for Lord of the Rings. You can see the references in there. So there's a little bit of everything in the story. The ingredients and the world that Burroughs created is pretty rich. What intrigues me as fun is [that] the scale is almost unimaginable. Just the complexity that's involved in trying to bring this to screen is enormous. So from that challenge and just building this very classic story from it, it's very appealing. It sounds like a lot of fun." A Princess of Mars will be released in 2006. Conran's Sky Captain, starring Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, opens Sept. 17.

Conran said he is looking at other scriptwriters for a new adaptation. "We won't be reinterpreting it but adapting what Burroughs wrote in screenplay form. John Carter is sort of immortal and where it would begin is sort of approaching modern day, but he is still a Civil War veteran and all that would be intact. Obviously there are certain things that have to be done to translate it to the sensibilities of today's audience."

Stylistically, Conran is still working out the details with his brother, production designer Kevin Conran. "We're really looking to do something that we haven't really seen before -- taking the notion of an alien world and embracing it, creating vistas and a backdrop and an environment that will be pretty remarkable."

While PRINCESS OF MARS won't contain such an elaborate use of bluescreen compositing as SKY CAPTAIN, it will certainly be an ambitious hybrid of live action and CG animation, drawing upon many of the technical lessons he learned on his first feature.

I think it's going to draw upon some of the references in WORLD OF TOMORROW. I don't think you want quite the dated quality of that, but without a doubt, there will be that sentiment involved to some extent."

Conran added that Paramount has committed financially to a lot on the front end so that he can do the necessary preproduction (including previs) to tackle a film of this scale.

If you missed ECOF this year here is another chance to obtain a valuable new ERB reference book
"Edgar Rice Burroughs - 
Bibliography of 'Pre-War" Grosset & Dunlap Books 1918-1941"

A "must" for collectors and booksellers, the new EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS - Bibliography of Grosset and Dunlap editions 1918-1941 is the first fully-documented bibliography of the G&D reprints that flooded a thirsty market in the years between world wars. 

Beginning in 1918 with A PRINCESS OF MARS Grosset and Dunlap became Burroughs' primary publisher, with a total of 47 titles printed. Joe Lukes' project had roots in the pages of TARZINE back in 1982. This current effort is based on those findings and the resources of three collectors who kept in communication for well over a year while adding around 200 hardcover editions and 100 dust jackets to bring the book up to it's current level of 450+ books and about 300 jackets. 

Some differences, like the dozen-odd bindings for A PRINCESS OF MARS are obvious, while some titles require patience, a magnifying lens and other copies of the same book to compare them to. Over 130 pages decorated with covers, title pages, dust jackets and advertising blurbs from many of G&D's 47 ERB books. Four color pages of books and jackets highlight this meticulously researched bibliography. Each title is prefaced by Lukes with a brief account of it's chronological place and publishing history prior to Grosset and Dunlap. 

There's never been a Burroughs book devoted exclusively to the G&D's, but they sold more books than any of ERB's other publishers, including himself. To the millions of us who have read and loved those uniform-sized editions with the incredible illustrations and dust jackets this is a chance to re-visit those books. For the collector it's a chance to put their books in proper publishing sequence for the first time. For the bookseller it's a chance to identify your Burroughs reprints and provide a reference source. Years in the making, this book is available here for the first time. Limited to 350 copies, 250 currently available for sale. 

Here's your chance at an invaluable reference book on one of the world's best-loved authors. Dick Lupoff provides the preface for this ground-breaking work. Please check the 2 pictures carefully and email questions if interested in purchasing a copy of the book. 

A copy is available for $20.00 using Paypal, money order or personal check. Checks may delay shipping while they clear. Please include $2 for media rate, $4 for priority postage. 

Contact: Tom Tolley at

Acquanetta leaves in Hollywood style 
Films, photos recall her life
Kate Nolan ~ The Arizona Republic ~ Aug. 22, 2004
See the mini-bio in ERB Heroines: ERBzine 0607

ACQUANETTAAcquanetta, the Valley's first television diva, had a great life. And she left behind the makings for a great funeral on Saturday.The B-movie actress died Monday of complications from Alzheimer's disease. She was 83. Services were held at Ascension Lutheran Church in Paradise Valley. 

The Acquanetta legacy includes a treasury of 1940s Hollywood B movies, a hefty stack of magazine covers, local television stardom, plus philanthropic gestures that ranged from financing Mesa Lutheran Hospital with her husband to mentoring local teenagers. She also left four adoring sons, whom she called her greatest success. It was her sons who decided that movies like Tarzan and the Leopard Woman would make a fitting backdrop for the funeral service, along with movie posters and a full-length portrait of their mother in a low-cut peasant dress.

"It was the brothers' idea," said Jack Ross Jr., 45, fingering fellow siblings Lance, 50; Tom, 47; and Rex, 43. Rex put together the twin-screen production that loomed over the altar as the funeral began. First came glorious orchestral music with jungle scenes of Acquanetta in animal skins getting the better of Tarzan. Then a segue to a steamy poster from Jungle Woman and on to more film clips and memorabilia from Hollywood in the '40s when Acquanetta consorted with Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles and Ronald Reagan. The soundtrack flipped to Louis Armstrong's Beautiful World for slides of a young Acquanetta with a baby in arms and other photos of her with husband, Jack Ross Sr. 

In 1956 the couple moved to Phoenix, where Ross opened a Lincoln Mercury car dealership. Acquanetta soon achieved fame for the glamorous television ads she did with Jack for the dealership, and for Acqua's Corner, her own TV segment that accompanied Friday night movies. In Rex's video, the screen filled up with more children, and showed the former starlet in the kitchen or goofing off at the pool. A clip caught her doing a crazy dance beside a giant fish tank. In some shots, she'd swing her trademark braids and sport silver and turquoise Native American jewelry, which was no affectation. 

Born in Wyoming as Burnu Acquanetta, the Arapaho beauty grew up in Pennsylvania and became a top New York fashion model in her teens. Modeling led to the movie business, where she played a series of exotic roles that later gave her a cult status that lured her to autograph sessions at B-movie conventions. By the 1960s she was a full-time mother and an activist for charitable causes like the Heard Museum and the Phoenix Indian School, but Acquanetta was leaving a mark on the generation that was growing up with television.

"I knew her first from local TV, and in my mind she was the biggest star in town," said Susan Bitter Smith, 47, now the director of the Arizona Cable Television Association, who attended school with the star's sons. But to them, she was "just mom," Jack said. 

Each son read from The Audible Silence, Acquanetta's volume of poetry. She had penned surprisingly appropriate selections for the event, titled Death, Life, and The Good Life. "Life is action. By their actions, they will be remembered," she wrote. Family friend and Valley broadcaster Pat McMahon reflected on Acquanetta's life. He said he liked the brothers' show and complimented the church for its forbearance.
"I don't know many parishes that would have allowed some of those posters up there," he kidded.

Songs were sung and a Native American blessing was read. Then Acquanetta's casket was rolled out of the sanctuary past the six-foot wide floral arrangement that spelled out "happiness," a word Acquanetta used the way Hawaiians use "aloha."  Outside, after the service the diva's 85-year-old brother, Horace Davenport, a retired Pennsylvania judge, said he'd never seen his sister's movies before.  "Now I'm going to rent the videos," he said.

From the Sacramento Bee News Column
by R.E. Graswich ~ August 11, 2004

Me Tarzan: Sacramento politicians are forever talking about ways to bring bigger and better conventions to town. Well, one of the world's unique conventions arrives Thursday, without a peep from City Hall. It's the Edgar Rice Burroughs "Chain of Friendship" gathering. It celebrates the remarkable writer who invented Tarzan. Grandson Danton Burroughs and Lydie Denier, who played Tarzan mate Jane in a TV series, will swing through the Vagabond Inn on Arden Way. Among the organizers is local Burroughs expert Tom Tolley, who hung around the Burroughs compound while growing up in Los Angeles. Tarzans came and went, but Tom agrees the best was Johnny Weissmuller. "He was a wild man," Tom said. ...

And finally: When retired Sacramento City College administrator Ruth Heitfeld died last month at age 97, the legend of the Sac City alligator died with her. Twice in the 1960s, jokers stole an alligator from the Land Park zoo and dumped it into the college pool. Daughter Dorothy Pierce said her mom never stopped telling the gator story. Edgar Rice Burroughs would have loved it.

Manhunt for 'Tarzan' 
August 17, 2004

Police will meet angry Limpopo villagers to coordinate a manhunt for an eccentric environmental crusader. The unidentified hermit reportedly lives in the wild near Edinburgh village, and is accused of hiding in trees, "like Tarzan". He then ambushes unsuspecting passers-by and wood collectors to "save the bush". The attacker is described as wild-haired and "obviously mad". Police said they will meet community leaders to ensure the crusader is not lynched or harmed and brought to justice the normal way.  "I thought he'd fallen out of the tree," said Nyathi, an attack victim. "But he landed on his feet and began threatening me." - African Eye News Service

Online eText Edition of War of the Worlds
Spielberg's upcoming movie War Of The Worlds is poised to make history in Hollywood as the most expensive film ever made - surpassing Titanic 's $198 million budget. The Oscar-winning director and actor Tom Cruise who first teamed up in Minority Report , will pocket a fifth of the box office profit from the film based on HG Wells ' classic story about Martian invaders. A source says, "No expense will be spared. Spielberg wants to make it the film of the decade."

Former Tarzan can't have more big cats
Associated Press: Aug. 13, 2004 

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A former Tarzan actor whose pet tiger escaped and was shot by wildlife officers won't be allowed to get any more big cats, a state agency ruled.Steve Sipek, who lives on a compound about 10 miles west of West Palm Beach, has a permit for Class I wildlife possession that allows him to have the Bengal-Siberian tiger, Bobo, and five other big cats.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission officials told him Thursday that his permit only applies to the animals he already owns and he can't get more animals under that license. Previously, the state had said license holders could have as many animals as they wanted. The letter was hand-delivered to Sipek because he was planning to get more tigers to replace Bobo, wildlife officials said. Sipek was the only one to receive the explanation of the state's ruling.

"That's stupid - unbelievable. I told them I'm not going to obey the orders," Sipek said. "They change the rules as they go. They have no idea what they're talking about." Sipek, an actor who played Tarzan in B-movies decades ago, could apply for a license as an exhibitor or breeder that would allow him to have more big cats, wildlife commission spokesman Willie Puz said.

A state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer shot the 600-pound tiger twice in the head July 13 after the big cat allegedly at him following a 26-hour hunt for his capture.

Tarzan, King of Apes, still royalty in Acapulco 
By Susana Hayward ~ Knight Ridder Newspapers ~ August 18, 2004

ACAPULCO, Mexico — A flower always lies on Tarzan's grave. Rumor is that a mystery woman places one there every day. It's been more than 50 years since Johnny Weissmuller starred in his last Tarzan movie and more than 20 since he died here. But people still come to his simple grave and monument — with his name misspelled "Weismuller" — to remember the record-breaking Olympic swimmer who became a film hero before slipping into obscurity and poverty in this Pacific resort community. 

Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan Round House in Acapulco: Photo by JANET SCHWARTZSome even make the famous Tarzan bellow. "It's the first movie I saw," said 54-year-old Javier Monroy, recalling Weissmuller's first Tarzan film, "Tarzan, The Ape Man," released in 1932, long before Monroy was born. "Going to the movies was something special then." Weissmuller made 12 films based on the character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The last one, "Tarzan and the Mermaids," was filmed here in 1948 in the endless beaches and lagoons along the Pacific. Weissmuller went on to become the protagonist of 16 Jungle Jim film and television epics. 

While his film career is widely remembered, it's just part of Weissmuller's legacy. An autographed photograph of Johnny Weissmuller at La Perla restaurant in Acapulco. The International Olympic Committee pays homage to him on its Web site, noting that he won five Olympic gold medals and set 28 world records. As the Summer Olympics are held in Athens, Greece, a documentary on Weissmuller's life is being released in Europe. "Such was his margin of superiority over his contemporaries that many authorities still rate him ahead of Mark Spitz as the greatest swimmer of all time," the IOC writes. "The longevity of his records is a testament to his greatness." Spitz won nine gold medals from 1968 to 1972, when he set seven world records, but Spitz competed in many more swimming events than existed when Weissmuller swam at Paris in 1924 and Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 1928. 

Weissmuller was adored in Acapulco, where he filmed many of his movies. He made it his home in 1955 when he bought the Los Flamingos Hotel with John Wayne, Red Skelton, Fred MacMurray and manager Bo Roos. At the time, Acapulco was a sleepy city of 20,000, but Weissmuller and the so-called "Hollywood Gang" helped transform it into a tourist Mecca that's home to 2 million people today. "It was a marvelous era," recalled Adolfo Santiago, who was a young boy selling soft drinks to beachgoers when he befriended Weissmuller. In time he would come to own the hotel. "All the movie stars came," he remembered. "It was a private hotel, only for their friends, artists. Not just anybody could get in here." 

The hotel's walls are still filled with photographs of Weissmuller; his Tarzan mate, Maureen O'Sullivan; "Boy"; and his chimp, Cheetah. Among the visiting luminaries were Wayne, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Jayne Mansfield and Ann-Margret. 

Born Janos Weissmuller on June 2, 1904, in Freidorf, Hungary, he was 7 months old when his parents migrated to the United States. He gave his birthplace as Pennsylvania and used the birth date of a younger brother, Peter, so he could compete on the U.S. Olympic team and get an American passport. He was married five times, the final time in 1963 in Las Vegas to Gertrudis Maria Theresia Brock, a German widow who had come to the United States after World War II. While his healthy years were rewarding, his last ones were tragic. Sick, broke, mostly alone, unable to speak and partially paralyzed, the once-burly 6-foot-3-inch, 230-pound "hunk" died in his sleep on Jan. 20, 1984, in a rented house that friends say he hadn't left in five years. As his condition deteriorated, caretakers placed him on an inner tube so he could splash with his one good arm. "It was pitiful to see him sitting in an inner tube paddling the water. Just pitiful! This man was a machine gun, a swimmer, a fish!" said Mike Oliver, Weissmuller's assistant as a young man, then editor of the Acapulco News and a friend for 36 years. 

Son John, who just wrote a book, "Tarzan, My Father," said his undoing came with his last marriage. Maria was a heavy drinker who would leave Weissmuller alone for days and go bar-hopping. She sold all his assets to survive, friends and custodians said. It's fitting that when she died at 81 earlier this year, some of her ashes were buried at Weissmuller's grave — and mourners poured out a bottle of rum. The final indignity, son John said, was where his father was buried. "Maria buried him in a mud puddle! A garbage dump," he said of the once run-down cemetery then called Valley of the Light. Now the cemetery is well-tended, helped by the growth of the city. New owners changed the name to Garden of Time. Marigolds and other flowers are everywhere. People bring lawn chairs on Sundays to spend time with their dearly departed. 

And Weissmuller's grave gets special care. Julia de los Santos, a cemetery administrator, was a 16-year-old waitress at Acapulco's Sao Paolo restaurant, where Weissmuller often dined with Wayne. "He was so gorgeous. A hunk! I wanted to hug him," she recalled. "And he was so gentle, sweet, a perfect gentleman. Oh, and the tips he gave!" Asked if she's the flower woman, de los Santos coyly shrugged: "I loved him." 

'Tarzan' Star Swings Back to WB
August 18, 2004
LOS ANGELES ( Underwear model Travis Fimmel, last seen swinging into a brick wall as the star of The WB's "Tarzan," is sticking with the network. Or at least the network is sticking with him. Fimmel will co-star in "Rocky Point," a midseason drama for The WB.The sudsy series from Warner Bros. TV has also expanded its cast to include Lauren Holly, Beau Garrett, John Patrick Amedori and the fantastically named Moon Bloodgood. "Rocky Point" stars Chyler Leigh ("girls club") as Cassie, a young woman living on Hawaii's North Shore who reunites with her estranged father (Billy Campbell). Hopefully this won't confuse FOX viewers, who may recall Leigh was a guest star on FOX's "North Shore" earlier this summer.

'Auntie's Attic' a slow, sentimental journey
By Mark Lowry
Star-Telegram Staff Writer ~ Aug. 15, 2004 

Johnny Simons, a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, has adapted several Tarzan tales for Hip Pocket Theatre throughout its history. HPT hasn't staged a script with Tarzan in the title in 16 years, but Simons' latest, Up in Auntie's Attic, is greatly inspired by the famous ape man.

The subtitle, A Gentle Haunting, refers not only to the ghost of eternal love in the story of Auntie Annie (Shannon Atkinson), but also to the spirit of the connection between Tarzan and Jane.

Jimmy (Adam Justin Dietrich) and Linda Faye (Emmy Zabcik, whose pool-like eyes befit characters driven by imagination) adore their great-aunt Annie, not to mention the stories and treasures in her attic.

Throughout, Annie reads passages from Burroughs' Tarzan the Terrible, from 1921. In the previous installment, 1920's Tarzan the Untamed, Jane was believed to have been murdered. In Terrible, the lovers are reunited and return to "the land that is best of all -- home." . . . . 

Virginia Grey
Born  March 22, 1917 in Los Angeles, CA ~ Died July 31, 2004 in Woodland Hills, CA 
Obituary in Time Magazine, August 16, 2004
Died: Virginia Grey, 87,  ubiquitous Hollywood supporting actress, who made her film debut as Little Eva in  Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1927 and went on to star with everyone from Johnny Weissmuller in Tarzan's New York Adventure to Rock Hudson in All That Heaven Allows; in Los Angeles.
Biography in All Movie Guide
The daughter of silent comedy film director Ray Grey, who died when she was eight, Virginia Grey debuted onscreen at age 10 as Little Eva in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1927). She did a few more juvenile roles in silents, then as a teenager she appeared in small roles in talkies before working her way up to leading lady in a number of second features; she also played second leads in a few major productions. 

Grey went on to a prolific, long-lived screen career over the next three-plus decades; she also worked occasionally on TV and for a time was a regular on the soap opera General Hospital. Though she never married, at one time she was romantically involved with actor Clark Gable, whom she reportedly came close to marrying. ~ All Movie Guide

Russian scientists claim discovery of alien spaceship wreck in Siberia
Yahoo News: August 12, 2004
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian scientists claim to have discovered the wreck of an alien device at the site of an unexplained explosion in Siberia almost a hundred years ago, the Interfax news agency reported. The scientists, who belong to the Tunguska space phenomenon public state fund, said they found the remains of an extra-terrestrial device that allegedly crashed near the Tunguska river in Siberia in 1908. 

They also claim to have discovered a 50-kilogram (110-pound) rock which they have sent to the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk for analysis. The Tunguska blast, in a desolate part of Siberia, remains one of the 20th century's biggest scientific mysteries. 

On June 30, 1908, what is widely believed to be a meteorite exploded a few kilometers above the Tunguska river, in a blast that was felt hundreds of kilometers (miles) away and devastated over 2,000 square kilometers of Siberian forest. But the exact nature of the body that exploded and its origin remain a mystery which has spurred countless theories and controversies. 

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Actress Fay Wray of King Kong fame dies at 96; 
Born near Cardston, Alta.
Canadian Press: Monday, August 09, 2004
NEW YORK (AP) - Fay Wray, who won everlasting fame as the damsel held atop the Empire State Building by the giant ape in the 1933 film classic King Kong, has died, a close friend said Monday. She was 96. 

Wray starred in about 100 films. She shot to fame in the 1928 silent classic, The Wedding March, and often played damsels in distress.  She said she had not realised at the time "that King Kong and I were going to be together for the rest of our lives, and longer".

She recalled how King Kong Director Merian C Cooper "called me into his office and showed me sketches of jungle scenes, and told me 'You're going to have the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood'." 

"Naturally, I thought Clark Gable.   But then he showed me this sketch of a giant ape up the side of the Empire State Building, he said, 'There's your leading man'." 

She admitted that at the premiere of the movie, said she had not been "too impressed". Wray was born in 1907 on a farm in Alberta, Canada, but emigrated to Los Angeles with her mother when her parents separated. She hunted for work in Hollywood and from the age of 16 began picking up parts as an extra in various films. She made her name in horror movies like Doctor X (1932) and The Vampire Bat (1933), and went on to appear with such stars as Ronald Colman, Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy. 

But it was King Kong that secured her immortality on the silver screen. In April this year film experts voted King Kong the most terrifying movie monster of all time in UK film magazine Empire. In 1991 Wray was the guest of honour at a ceremony marking the 60th birthday of the Empire State Building. She said that if she were the mayor of New York, "I would want to run the city from this building... and get up every morning to see the sun rise." 

See Obituary

Movies inspiring new round of musicals
NEW YORK - Broadway is getting more inspiration from the silver screen. Several musicals based on movies are headed to the Great White Way within the next two years in a growing trend in musical theater Monty Python's Spamalot, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dracula the Musical and The Color Purple are just four movie-inspired musicals set to debut this year. Although no Broadway dates have been scheduled yet, The Ten Commandments musical, starring Val Kilmer, will premiere this September at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. 

Other musicals that are in the development or discussion stages include Tarzan (based on the 1999 Walt Disney animated film), Catch Me If You Can, Legally Blonde, Spider-Man, Pink Floyd's The Wall, SecondHand Lions, Fight Club and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

Happy Birthday to Bill Ross O.F.C.

Conran tapped for 'Princess'
July 30, 2004
Alphaville's sci-fi adventure-action picture "A Princess of Mars" is closing in on a new captain: director Kerry Conran. Conran, whose "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" is set for release Sept. 17, is in negotiations to direct "Princess," a Paramount-based production, as his next project.

Conran entered the picture after former "Princess" director Robert Rodriguez resigned from the DGA earlier this year, making him ineligible to direct the Paramount tentpole. Based on the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-volume "John Carter of Mars" series, the property is being developed as a major franchise. Alphaville's previous forays into the fantasy and f/x arena include "The Mummy" franchise and its spinoff "The Scorpion King." (Liza Foreman)

The Princess Groom
Sky Captain director replaces Rodriguez on sci-fi film
From Empire Online ~ 30 July 2004 
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow director Kerry Conran must have enjoyed his time fiddling around with greenscreen because he looks set to sign on for the potentially huge franchise A Princess of Mars.  Princess is based on the first book of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 11-volume John Carter of Mars series and Paramount, along with co-producer Harry 'AICN' Knowles - has been searching for a director capable of jump-starting a franchise since Robert Rodriguez left the project due to his non-afiliation with the Directors Guild of America. 

Rumour had it that Alphaville, the production company involved, whose previous forays into the f/x world include The Mummy and The Scorpion King, wanted Stephen Sommers to replace Rodriguez but thankfully the Van Helsing director passed.

Meanwhile, self-confessed sci-fi geek Conran's revolutionary effects work on the relatively low budget Sky Captain has obviously impressed the suits over at Paramount. Sky Captain isn’t released until September 17 and still has to prove itself a hit with the great unwashed. If it fails to live up to expectations, Conran could find himself out on his ear before he has even begun. 

Paramount is anxious for a bang-up job on this one because it believes it has a potentially massive money-spinner on its hands and there’s plenty of scope for a Police Academy style endless sequels if the space project takes off. A Princess of Mars: Assignment Miami Beach, anyone? No? Anyone? 

John Eric Holmes
has suffered a stroke and 
will not be able to appear as Guest of Honour
at this year's ECOF Convention in Sacramento
Bill Shell Remembered
We were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of ERBapa member Bill Shell. 
We will miss his dedication to Burroughs fandom and his encouraging e-mails. 
Our sincere condolences go out to his family.  He will be missed by all who knew him.

Sommers Wooed for Mummy 3 and Mars 
Source: Coming Soon! Thursday, July 29, 2004 has learned that The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, and Van Helsing writer/director Stephen Sommers is being wooed for two big projects, while another possible project for Sommers is not moving ahead at this time.

Sources indicate that the Flash Gordon script writer/producer and Alien co-creator Ronald Shusett was talking to Sommers about writing seems to be in limbo as Universal Pictures does not agree with the "Mummy" director for putting that franchise on hold. The studio is telling Sommers to get back on track with a third "Mummy" as soon as possible. No word yet whether or not Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and Arnold Vosloo would be up for another sequel. Van Helsing was also distributed by Universal.

But we also hear Sommers' "Mummy" producers at Alphaville want the helmer to re-team with them for Paramount's currently director-less Princess of Mars. Robert Rodriguez was previously attached to direct, but his resignation from the Directors Guild of America put those plans to rest.

Princess of Mars is based on the first book in Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-book series, "John Carter of Mars," which centers on John Carter, a Civil War officer from Virginia who is transported to Mars and finds himself a captive of the savage green men from Thark. Eventually, he rises to become the greatest warrior of all time, marries the beautiful Dejah Thoris, raises a family and embarks on numerous adventures.


The Los Angeles chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles (the "SubERBs") had a get-together at Bob Zeuschner's house on Saturday the 17th of July. Attending were ERB artist, Bill Stout, Rob Greer, Tracy Griffin, Jim Van Hise, Jerry O'Hara, Jerry Schneider (publisher of the ERBville editions), Mr. and Mrs. Billy York, Joe Musso and Jerry Hill.
Photos and full story will appear in ERBzine 1150 Motes & Quotes Newzine to be released August 6, 2004.

Swanky cars edge out stars in Bollywood
Subhash K Jha ~ The Times of India ~ July 31, 2004

MUMBAI: Bollywood stars will vie for screen space with swanky vehicles in major releases set to hit theatres in August. 

The August line-up of films include Abbas-Mustan's Tarzan The Wonder Car , which has a Rs 2.5-crore car as its hero with two newcomers Ayesha Takia and Vatsal Sheth vying for the audiences' attention. 

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