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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Media Man Entertainment News Update: WWE RAW, Casino News, Comic Book Movies, Hollywood...

WWE RAW 1000th Show, Casino News, Comic Book Movies and more...

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Vince McMahon on Why WWE Mints So Many Stars: 'Our Talent Is Taught Not to Be Prima Donnas' (Q&A)...

As the 1,000th episode of "Raw" approaches, the mogul chats about the gritty "show business" of professional wrestling.

This story first appeared in the July 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.


Vince McMahon is not your typical entertainment mogul. The chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, whose wife, Linda, is running for the U.S. Senate from Connecticut, has been laid out by his son-in-law on TV, and his larger-than-life persona Mr. McMahon dispatches rivals with steel chairs. Now McMahon, 66, is preparing for the 1,000th episode of USA flagship live show Raw, the longest-running episodic primetime program in the U.S. Raw, which reaches more than 600 million homes worldwide and contributed mightily to the network's $340 million in revenue from live and televised entertainment in 2011, is adding a third hour and becoming the most interactive show in the business. (Charlie Sheen is scheduled to serve as the "social media ambassador" for the July 23 episode, but his recent Twitter exodus may leave his 7.5 million followers missing out.)

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: You started on USA, moved to another network and then returned to USA …
Vince McMahon: We became the No. 1 show on USA. And they wouldn't be No. 1 right now in primetime if not for Raw. We switched one time to what became the Spike network and became the No. 1 show there. We have proved that we can pretty much make TV networks.

THR: WWE and your performers have started using Twitter more.

McMahon: Back in the early days, our performers elicited a response -- a boo or a cheer. Today, we use all this social media. We are going to do Tout, in which the WWE just invested. With that, you get a 15-second video shout-out that goes straight to our TV programs. Beginning with the 1,000th show, people can participate in terms of the types of matches and what actually happens on air. It will be the most interactive TV programming in the world.

THR: Over the years, you had ups and downs. You had the Monday night ratings wars with WCW, for example.

McMahon: Ted Turner was a bit of a battle [when he bought the World Championship Wrestling circuit]. Ted was part of Time Warner; that was difficult to compete with. But perseverance is extremely important in life and in business. The other guys got tired of traveling each and every week to do TV. They just didn't have the same passion we do. They were working for a paycheck. It was only a matter of time until they burned out.

THR: Why has so much of your talent, like The Rock, gone on to film careers?

McMahon: Our talent is taught not to be prima donnas, to be on time and know their lines. And quite frankly, people in Hollywood, once they see what we do, they are amazed. Our talent doesn't demand the biggest trailer or a certain amount of grape juice or whatever the hell it is. Our talent is extremely flexible and knows how to act, so it's a logical extension for them.

THR: UFC gets big pay-per-view numbers. How do you stack up against them?

McMahon: We're in show business, they are a sport. Their ratings are abysmal. They are in the pay-per-view business, and they do reasonably well there. We just set a record for WrestleMania. We had 1.3 million buys for this year's WrestleMania, and our pay-per-view numbers for our shows have been up 30 percent since then. So, we are looking pretty good.

THR: Are you going to watch the Olympics?

McMahon: I consider our business the Olympics, and it doesn't just happen every few years, but every night. My favorite part will be the closing ceremonies. That means the Olympics are over, and everyone will settle down and Raw, Smackdown! [on Syfy] and WWE will have more prominence.

STORY: ION Enters Pro-Wrestling Ring with 'WWE Main Event'

WRESTLING ROOTS

Dwayne Johnson/The Rock: The third-generation wrestler began his film career with The Mummy Returns. Next: G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Fast and the Furious 6.

Stacy Keibler: Keibler wrestled and managed WWE stars, then placed third on Dancing With the Stars. And, oh yeah, she's been dating George Clooney since 2011.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin: McMahon's beer-swilling adversary appeared in The Expendables.
Hulk Hogan: He's acted in Rocky III, starred on his own reality show and done voice acting for Robot Chicken.

Freddie Prinze Jr.: The She's All That star and WWE fan was hired to help create Raw storylines in 2008. He has guest-hosted on the show as well.


WWE Triple H Talks Talent...

Promoting this coming Monday's historic 1000th episode of Raw, Paul Levesque, also known as Triple H, addressed a number of topics including Randy Orton's ongoing sixty-day suspension for his second violation of WWE's Talent Wellness Program.

Orton, who hails from St. Louis, Missouri, the site of Monday's show, will be unable to appear due to the suspension. Though Levesque won't divulge what Orton did wrong, he notes "The Legend Killer" will be back once the suspension concludes.

"It is important to remember that all of our wrestlers are human but they also have to be accountable," Levesque says of Orton's suspension.

As WWE's Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events, Levesque's corporate role is to discover tomorrow's Superstars. He admits it's a struggle.

"We're trying to teach them to be the Stone Colds and the Undertakers of tomorrow, but the one thing we can't teach is charisma," said Levesque. "You can teach people to do moves and create story lines and the psychology of what we do, but you can't teach someone to be the Rock. It's an innate ability to walk into a room and have everyone pay attention. Put aside the athleticism and what happens in the ring, what our business is really about is connecting with people emotionally. If you are emotionally connected to your character, then people will want to see you. It's true in Hollywood and movies. You don't have to be the best actor, just be a presence."

Triple H, The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin created on-screen personas "fans loved, hated or loved to hate" on Raw in the late '90s. Levesque feels they were the first stars of reality television.

"Every guy we have, whether it's me, whether it's the Undertaker, whether it's John Cena playing the character John Cena, is a performer," said Levesque. "What we did is very much the beginning of reality television. 'Jersey Shore,' whether people want to believe it or not, is a scripted kind-of show. They don't give them every single word, but they give them premises and they set things up. It's not a documentary where you follow them around brushing their teeth. And that's what we are — we blur that line and that's what people find intriguing."

Levesque also offers insight on The Rock and Kane's on-stage personalities, WWE's decision to make their shows "PG" television, critics denouncing wrestling as "fake," and more.




WWE Raw Supershow Results
July 23, 2012 - Episode #999
Live in St. Louis, Mo.
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor


The three-hour WWE Raw era started with a new signature WWE open capturing WWE through the years. "Then. Now. Forever." is the tagline. WWE then aired a video on the origins of Raw in January 1993 followed by rapid-fire clips of memorable moments throughout Raw's history. The video slowed down for Vince's "Bret screwed Bret" speech, Shawn Michaels losing his smile, Edge retiring, Ric Flair retiring, and Triple H tributing Eddie Guerrero. The video picked up again to focus on Stone Cold, the Boom Drop in the Garden, Shawn and Bret burying the hatchet, Batista quitting, and more historical Raw clips.

Live in the arena, Michael Cole introduced the show as WWE went with a slow overhead camera shot to capture the entire arena make this feel like a WrestleMania-like event. The cameras also focused on the new Raw set, which has the same entrance area, but a wider set to the left and right to look larger than the past set. In the ring, Justin Roberts introduced Vince McMahon to star the show. Cue up Cole and Jerry Lawler hyping McMahon. WWE cut to a shot of both men ringside dressed in their WrestleMania suits to sell the importance of the event.

In the ring, McMahon flashed a big smile before announcing 1,000 episodes. McMahon said he would like to thank the audience. McMahon offered his classic "Welcome to Monday Night Raw!" line before introducing DX. After the DX theme song played, Shawn Michaels and Triple H bounced out on-stage sporting their DX camo gear. Cole offered about 15 adjectives to describe DX through WWE history as HBK and Hunter entered the ring throwing green glowsticks into the crowd. Cole and Lawler shared memorable DX moments, with Lawler settling on DX invading WCW during the Monday Night Wars.

In the ring, Michaels asked for the music to stop and sold that he was blown up from the ring intro. He told Hunter he needs to catch his breath. Michaels paced around the ring and said he's feeling this, but he's missing something. He knows he's wearing pants and underwear, but he feels like something's missing. Hunter nodded along. He said something's missing. "What could it be?" he asked. Michaels asked Hunter if he's sporting underwear, which Hunter confirmed. Hunter then noted there used to be more of them. Big reaction for a tease of more DX members coming out. Hunter and Michaels paused, then asked the crowd if there used to be more of them. They pointed to the entrance ramp and the DX music played again.

Out on the DX Army tank came Sean Waltman, Road Dogg Jesse James, and Billy Gunn. The trio fired up the crowd, then hit the ring to hug it out with Hunter and Michaels. Gunn couldn't wipe the smile off his face, then all five did the DX crotch chop pose in the ring. Lawler said they could start another Attitude Era tomorrow. In the ring, Hunter and Gunn posed, which was a sight to see. Dogg took the mic and said they're going on a Missouri boat ride straight down memory lane. Dogg did his standard ring intro for the Road Dogg Jesse James, the Bad (beep) Billy Gunn - the New Age Outlaws.

Hunter took the mic next and reset things. He said he needs to know one more thing. "Are you ready?" he grumbled. Hunter made sure everyone was in their proper place to do the standard Triple H DX intro, then inserted a pause on being the only one left with a full head of hair and this being Raw 1,000, then let's get ready to suck it.

[Q2] Michaels and Gunn then took mics and teased a dispute over who should talk next since Hunter didn't give them much to work with. Hunter calmed down Gunn and told him that if Michaels doesn't get to talk now, he might lose his smile...or pose for Playgirl. Michaels said he was young and stupid...and needed the money. Michaels and Gunn figured out a simultaneous routine, but were suddenly interrupted by Damien Sandow.

Sandow emerged on-stage and ran down DX for their sophomoric and disgusting behavior, which has plagued humanity and brainwashed the masses into buying into this behavior. Michaels said that's true about him, so he's going straight home to church to ask for forgiveness. Sandow ignored HBK and said he understands the five of them could dispose of him like common trash, but if they do so, he will only be a martyr - a martyr for anyone who appreciates a sophisticated mind. Hunter told Sandow they need time to huddle and discuss their strategy. Sandow was shunned from the Planning Process, which he said was very rude.

After DX huddled up, Hunter re-addressed Sandow. Suddenly, HBK popped Sandow with Sweet Chin Music into a Pedigree from Hunter. Gunn, standing over Sandow, then stood over Sandow and told the crowd if they're down with DX, then they have two words for you. The crowd filled in, "Suck it," as Cole called it vintage. Cole welcomed back the NAO, X-Pac, Michaels, and Triple H. DX wasn't done, though, as Hunter removed Sandow's fancy jacket before tossing Sandow out of the ring to the outside.

Still to come tonight: The Rock returns to Raw to address the WWE Title. Plus, will Brock Lesnar accept Triple H's Summerslam Challenge? And, Daniel Bryan and A.J. get married. And, WWE champion C.M. Punk vs. John Cena for the WWE Title tonight. Back live, DX posed one more time on-stage and did their crotch chops for the crowd. Cole said they continue with more after this.

Before Raw went to commercial after a 21-minute opening segment, WWE aired the C.M. Punk-led trailer for "WWE '13" due out this fall.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Jim Ross's music played to bring out Ross sporting his goatee. Cole hyped Ross as a big contributor to Raw and noted he will join them on commentary for the following match.

First out was Rey Mysterio making his Raw in-ring return. Lilian Garcia announced this as a six-man tag match. Sin Cara came out next to join Rey as Ross talked about returning to WWE TV tonight. Cole noted Ross and Lawler have been part of some of the greatest moments in Raw history, then World Hvt. champion Sheamus came out to join Rey and Cara. Ross said he thinks Sheamus can be World champion for years to come.

Suddenly, the lights went out. Cue up Chris Jericho's theme music to bring out Jericho as the first heel opponent. Interesting considering he was in a more babyface sympathetic role last week during a confrontation with Dolph Ziggler. Cole fed to a recap of the Ziggler-Jericho exchange, which ended with Ziggler taking a Codebreaker from Jericho. Ziggler then came out as Jericho's tag partner, which Lawler noted makes for strange bedfellows. Alberto Del Rio came out third for the heels. Del Rio mocked the babyfaces before entering the ring as Raw went to commercial.

[Q3] [Commercial Break]

1 -- World Hvt. champion SHEAMUS & REY MYSTERIO & SIN CARA vs. CHRIS JERICHO & DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero) & ALBERTO DEL RIO

The match was in-progress back from break with the heels dominating Sin Cara. Ziggler and Jericho traded tags and frowns as Cole plugged Tout to begin the social media hype. Cole inserted a stat that Jericho has wrestled the second-most matches in Raw history, second to Triple H, which Arda Ocal of TheScore.com recently documented. Sin Cara eventually made a comeback with a swinging DDT out of the corner. He finally reached his corner and tagged in Sheamus, who teed off on Jericho.

Sheamus landed the Irish Curse once awkwardly, then twice for emphasis. The action broke down with men flying everywhere before it came down to Jericho and Sheamus again. They teased finishers before Sheamus missed with the Brogue Kick. Jericho then tried to follow up as Sheamus was hung up on the top rope, but Ziggler smashed his own partner with an enziguiri kick. Sheamus cleared Ziggler from the ring apron, then measured Jericho and delivered a Brogue Kick for the pin and the win. As the faces celebrated in the ring, Cole thanked Ross for joining them, which suggested this is his only match tonight.

WINNER: Team Sheamus at 4:18. A lot of moving parts and, with only four minutes shown, it was tough for the stories to sink in. Jericho-Ziggler Week 2 was fine but not spectacular continuing to build their feud. Also, WWE continues to ease Mysterio back into action, as Rey only had a few moves during the match.

Still to come: The Rock returns on Raw 1,000.

[Commercial Break]

Announcers: Cole and Lawler briefly talked about things that have changed since 1993 when Raw debuted. Cole then introduced some touts from WWE fans on the Bryan/A.J. wedding. The video package included four 18-34 male fans reacting to Bryan and A.J.'s craziness. Back live, Cole introduced Charlie Sheen appearing live via Skype (since he cancelled Twitter). Sheen said he thinks he would fit in rather smoothly with DX. He also shouted out to Sheamus. Cole said they will check in with Sheen later tonight. Next, Cole introduced a clip of Bryan proposing to A.J. last week on Raw.

[Q4] Backstage: A.J. was talking to someone (or perhaps no one) off-camera. A.J. said the whole thing is going to be amazing. She then noted she was talking to Layla. Layla paused to ask A.J. if she really wants to go through with this. A.J. said she's tired of people asking her that and claiming she's mentally unstable. After all, just look around here. A.J. opened the door and Hacksaw Jim Duggan was shown talking to someone down the hall. Then, Roddy Piper and R-Truth played jump-rope with Little Jimmy. Layla tried to defend Jimmy, but A.J. said he's an invisible child. Suddenly, a random man in a giant hand appeared with Mae Young and said he's Mae Young's child all grown up. Mae wished A.J. best wishes on her wedding, then walked off with The Hand. Layla couldn't defend that one and simply told A.J. good luck tonight. A.J. then went back to brushing her hair and staring at a portrait of Bryan next to her mirror.

[Commercial Break]

Announcers: Cole and Lawler offered a stat on how long it would take to watch all of the Raw episodes back-to-back. Suddenly, a Sonic car hop appeared ringside to provide Cole and Lawler with slushes. Darn you, WWE. Lawler stood up and accepted his drink, but did not appear to provide a tip to the lady. Suddenly, they cut to a shot of Jack Swagger ringside ready for his weekly beating. The disco ball dropped, which meant funky time with Brodus Clay and his dancers. As they danced out to the ring, Cole said this feels like WrestleMania tonight. Cole then plugged entrance themes available on Shazam right now.

Before the match started, Clay - sporting a red, white, and blue singlet - introduced his brother from another mother, Dude Love. Out came Mick Foley trying to dance on the way to the ring. Cole noted Foley is a comedian and is headlining a show in Montreal soon.

2 -- JACK SWAGGER vs. BRODUS CLAY (w/Mick Foley)

Bell, kick, big splash from Clay, and it was over for Swagger. Afterward, Cole said Swagger has really hit rock bottom now. Foley then danced with Brodus Clay as Swagger recovered in the background. Swagger tried to get at Foley, but he took Socko to end his night.

WINNER: Clay at 0:16.

Backstage: Triple H was shown talking to Trish Stratus, who the crowd did not instantly recognize with her brunette hair. Stratus tried to convince Hunter to do her yoga program, which led to some awkward poses in a flashback to the Attitude Era when Stratus and Hunter found themselves in the wrong position during a backstage segment. Suddenly, Dogg, Gunn, Michaels, and Waltman entered the shot to check on Hunter. Everyone except Waltman took Hunter away, then Waltman tried to talk to Stratus.

Backstage: Daniel Bryan was shown in a white tuxedo for his wedding. He was talking to four random men either dressed as wedding servers or to carry out A.J. to the looney bin.

[Commercial Break]

[Q5 - second hour / previous first hour] Back live right at the top of the hour, Cole plugged Cena vs. Punk for the WWE Title later tonight. And, in the ring, the wedding ceremony was set up for the top-of-the-hour segment. In the ring, Jerry Lawler introduced the reverend for tonight, Slick. Cole called him a trailblazer as the first African-American male manager in WWE history. Cole read poll results that the audience voted 74 percent for A.J. to say no to Bryan.

In the ring, Slick noted his method of payment for overseeing the wedding, then said they should get this show on the road. Out came D-Bryan dressed in a white tuxedo "Yes!ing" down the aisle. Lawler offered some unfortunate marriage jokes before a traditional wedding song played to bring out A.J. dressed in white. They cut to a shot of Bryan smiling as he watched A.J. walk down the aisle. Lawler offered another marriage joke before Cole ran through the history of weddings in WWE.

With everyone assembled in the ring, Slick began his speech as the crowd "What?'ed" him in-between lines. Slick was building to a crescendo before A.J. tugged his arm to note it's time to move on. Slick asked the crowd if anyone objects to the marriage, which led to catcalls from the crowd. Slick said he's never heard that before. The crowd followed with "No!" chants as Bryan accepted a wedding ring from Slick. Bryan said he loves her and he will always love her. And, he promises her that once he slips this ring on her finger and they are announced man and wife, a new chapter is going to begin for both of them. And, he will finally have everything he's ever wanted. Bryan placed the ring on A.J.'s finger before they said, "Yes!" to the wedding vows. Slick said that says it all.

Slick said that by the power vested in him ... suddenly, A.J. told Slick to wait. A.J. looked down at the mat, then said she wasn't saying yes to Daniel. She was saying yes to someone else. Bryan sold shock at this revelation. A.J. looked down, then smiled at Bryan. She said it's another man. He said this man made a proposal to her earlier tonight. Bryan sold pain in his heart. Suddenly, Vince McMahon's music played to bring out Vince on-stage. Lawler said he has no idea what's going on here. McMahon told Bryan to hang on. He said it's not that kind of proposal, but a business proposal. McMahon said that in the interest of making Raw 1,001 and every week thereafter the biggest deal every week, the new Raw GM is ... A.J.

McMahon smiled, then A.J. smiled. A.J. walked over to Bryan and threw her flowers in his chest before skipping around in the ring in her wedding dress. On the way out, she lifted up her dress slightly to reveal she was wearing tennis shoes underneath her dress. Very fitting for her character. On-stage, A.J. shouted, "Yes!" over and over as Bryan shouted, "No!" over and over in the ring. Bryan then tore up the wedding set in the ring, helping out the production team. Bryan snapped as they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

[Q6] Back live, Bryan was still in the ring yelling at referees, "No!" over and over. Suddenly, Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk, who was dressed to wrestle. Cole noted Punk defends the title against John Cena later tonight. Lawler also noted Bryan refused to leave the ring during the commercial before Cole recapped the Bryan/A.J./Kane/Punk issues over the past few months.

In the ring, Punk smiled at a very angry Daniel Bryan. Punk got serious, then said he didn't come out here to rub it in his face. But, he did just stood up at the altar. Punk sarcastically said it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy after Bryan treated A.J. so, so well. Punk said he gets why Bryan is upset since his future is in jeopardy with A.J. as new GM. Punk told Bryan he can stay here and continue throwing a temper tantrum, but he'll continue being the Best in the World. Bryan muttered those words, then said Punk isn't even the best in the ring right now. Bryan said not only is he better than Punk, but he is the greatest WWE Superstar of all-time. "You hear me, Punk?!" Bryan shouted in Punk's ear.

Suddenly, The Rock's music played to bring out a returning Rock to a huge reaction. Rock bounced up and down on-stage as Punk and Bryan looked toward the stage. A clean-shaven Rock paced the stage, then turned to walk down the aisle to the ring. Cole and Lawler hyped Rock's contributions to Raw's history before Rock reached the ring and posed in the corner. Rock then locked eyes with Punk, walked past both men, and posed in the other corner.

Once Rock's music stopped, Punk stood off in the corner with arms folded while Bryan continued to act angry. Rock stared at Bryan, flashed a smile trying to find the right words to address him with, and then told Bryan he doesn't get to say who the greatest of all-time is. He said the fans get to say that. Pause for "Rocky, Rocky" chant. Rock then did his trademark intro noting The Rock has finally come back to St. Louis. Rock turned his head, stared at Bryan, and tried to talk again, but Bryan shouted, "Hey!" Bryan said he doesn't know who Rock thinks he is, but Rock cut him off. Rock told Bryan you don't cut off The Rock like that. Rock lowered his mic to stare at Bryan, who was now inches away from him. "Boots to asses" chant from the crowd, which Rock paused to acknowledge.

Bryan decided now was the time to start loosening his tuxedo as Punk stood in the background seeing how this was going to unfold. Rock noted he won his first WWE Title right here in St. Louis, but Rock isn't here right now to talk to Frodo. No, he is here to talk to Punk about the WWE Title. Rock then said at the Royal Rumble, whomever the WWE champion is will face him. And, on that night, the title will be on the line against The Rock. Punk said that's good news and he'll fill in that blank. He said that "whomever" is him. Punk then vowed to beat John Cena tonight, which drew a mixed reaction. Punk said he wishes the Rumble was tomorrow because he wants to jump in head-first. Punk said he's going to end Cena tonight and beat Rock at the Rumble.

Rock locked eyes with Punk and said he's going to make something perfectly clear. Rock noted he won his first WWE Title here in St. Louis, so it's only fitting that he tells him right here, right now that at the Rumble, The Rock will be the next WWE champion. Punk and Rock locked eyes, then Bryan re-entered the shot and said, "No! No! No!" He said this was supposed to be about him and the greatest night of his life. Bryan got within inches of Rock and told him that somehow, someway, Rock is going to fight him at the Rumble. Bryan turned toward Punk and said not only will be the champion, but he will be the face of WWE. Rock turned to face Bryan and said Bryan is not the face of WWE, but the product of a homeless lumberjack and a troll from Lord of the Rings.

Rock then re-addressed Punk and told him to kick ass tonight. He re-addressed Bryan that he's sorry he didn't get married tonight, but he went ahead and got Bryan a wedding gift anyways. Rock then scooped up Bryan and dropped him with the Rock Bottom center ring. Rock signed off, "If you smell what The Rock is cooking." Rock then locked eyes with Punk and slipped out of the ring before heading to the entrance. WWE went to back and forth shots of Punk and Rock one more time as Punk stood smugly and too-cool-for-school in the ring. That was a near-15-minute segment.

Segment Reax: Bryan had a stand-out, break-through performance interacting with Rock and Punk in a big spotlight segment. Also, Rock setting up a Rumble title challenge gives the January PPV a nice bump in addition to the Rumble match itself, as well as future PPVs with Punk in jeopardy of losing the title before the big showdown with Rock.

Still to come: Brock Lesnar answers Triple H's Summerslam challenge and Cena vs. Punk for the title.

[Q7] [Commercial Break]

Back live, Cole plugged a new Twitter poll on who Rock should face at the Rumble for the WWE Title - Punk, Cena, or ... Big Show. Odd third selection despite Show's recent push.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced Bret Hart as special guest ring announcer for the next match. Cole and Lawler recapped Hart's history on Raw as he made his way to the ring to receive the mic from Roberts. In the ring, Hart said one of the best moments of his career was when he won his first Intercontinental Title against Mr. Perfect. (Foreshadowing Michael McGillicutty challenging for the title tonight? Highly unlikely.) Hart said it's an honor for him to be here and introduce the two participants in tonight's IC Title match. First, the current IC champion, Christian. After Christian came out to the ring and shook hands with Hart, Bret paused before muttering The Miz as Christian's opponent. Miz came out on-stage in a giant jacket and locked eyes with Christian on the way to the ring.

3 -- IC champion CHRISTIAN vs. THE MIZ -- Intercontinental Title match

WWE did not acknowledge who booked the first two matches before A.J.'s appointment as Raw GM, nor did the announcers note who selected Miz as Christian's opponent, but could there be something here with Miz receiving the title shot after Miz and A.J. locked eyes on last week's Raw? WWE went to break one minute in after Christian took out Miz on the outside. However, Christian sold a leg injury.

[Commercial Break. A local ad for Smackdown TV in Houston in two weeks included a John Cena local promo noting he's going after Big Show and John Laurinaitis. Plus, Sheamus, Sin Cara, and Alberto Del Rio advertised.]

Back live after a three-minute break, Cole claimed this is the match the audience wanted. Half-right, as the audience wanted an IC Title match, but did not have a say in his opponent. Miz continued to work on Christian's leg injury before Christian slapped Miz across the face and went up top for a cross-body splash. Cole plugged another word with Charlie Sheen after this match as Miz and Christian exchanged control.

[Q8] Christian, now in control, decided it was time to bust out The Spear to tribute Edge, but Miz blocked with a kick to the face. Miz then missed with a corner splash, allowing Christian to set up for, but not connect with the Killswitch. Christian tried again, but Miz countered and Christian sold a leg injury. Suddenly, Miz nailed the Reality Check center-ring. Miz with the cover for the win and he is the new IC champion. Miz sold the moment capturing the title as Cole noted Miz is a triple crown champion.

Post-match: Miz took the mic and noted he is the new IC champion...and awesome. Miz posed with the title belt to conclude his good night at the office.

WINNER: Miz at 7:38 to capture the IC Title. An abrupt end to Christian's IC Title run without much juice to squeeze out of the unhyped match-up.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler brought in Charlie Sheen via Skype to discuss The Rock's return and Daniel Bryan having "anger management" issues. He told Bryan to man up. Cole said they will check in with Sheen again later tonight.

Still to come tonight: Cena vs. Punk for the WWE Title. Cole tried to plug a "tout" item, but the show abruptly faded to commercial.

[Commercial Break]

Raw 1,000 tribute video: Regis Philbin talked in a soundbyte about having pro wrestlers on his show in San Diego when he got his start in the TV industry. He referenced The Destroyer, then Classie Freddie Blasse and The Rock.

In-ring: Triple H's music played to bring out Hunter still dressed in his DX gear. Cole went to a video replay from Raw three months ago when Brock Lesnar attacked Hunter and injured his arm. Back live, Hunter watched the footage and asked the crowd if they're having a good time tonight. Great. See, he's had his fun tonight, so it's time to pick up the intensity a bit. Hunter said he knows Brock Lesnar is here tonight, so he's calling him out. Hunter reminded everyone he wants to fight him at Summerslam, so he wants an answer tonight.

Here Comes The Pain played after a pause, which brought out Paul Heyman instead of Lesnar. Cole said Lesnar is here tonight, though. Hunter was not pleased to see Heyman, who smugly entered the ring. Hunter said he wants to talk to the horse's head, not the horse's ass. Heyman smiled along and said Hunter is right about one thing. His client, Brock, is here tonight. And, his client has authorized him through power of attorney to answer his question right now. Heyman said Brock's answer to Hunter is...no. Heyman smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Heyman said he's tired of this crap, so he'll go find Brock right now. Heyman told Hunter to re-consider since he's already facing two lawsuits and adding a third probably isn't good for business.

Hunter said he doesn't give a crap at this point. He asked Heyman if Brock is really that big of a coward that he won't come out here and tell him to his face. Hunter said Big, Bad, Brock Lesnar is really just a coward. Heyman asked Hunter if he's really going to resort to name-calling. "My God, man, what's happened to you? Are you a child?" Heyman said before asking Hutner if that's what he teaches his children. Hunter slapped the mic out of Heyman's hand and told him not to talk about his family and kids. Heyman backed down and apologized. He said he shouldn't talk about Hunter's children because he feels bad for them being the product of Triple H.

Suddenly, Stephanie McMahon's music played to bring out Stephanie with a mad-face and mad-walk. Stephanie marched to the ring as Heyman put his hands in his pockets and Hunter leaned against the ropes. Steph walked up to Heyman and got within inches of him. She said Heyman better not speak about her children ever again. She then told Heyman the lawsuits aren't about Brock, but about Heyman masking his business failures at WCW, ECW, and WWE. Steph told Heyman that he's just looking in the rear view mirror when compared to Vince McMahon. "We're going to talk about daddy now?!" Heyman shot back. Steph told him to shut up, then said Heyman's children are ashamed of Heyman. She said their children know their father is nothing more than a professional parasite.

[Q9 -- third hour] Steph reached back and slapped Heyman, who decided it was time to exit at this point. Heyman paused on the ring steps, though, as Hunter pulled Stephanie back. Heyman then noted this is what they really want - Brock to destroy Stephanie's husband. Heyman said if that's what they want, then it's on. Heyman said Brock vs. Hunter at Summerslam is on. Heyman paused and said he fell for it because daddy's little girl always gets what she wants. Heyman said it's clearly what she learned from daddy and what they're teaching their children. Stephanie then tackled Heyman and slapped him around as Hunter watched closely in the background.

Suddenly, Brock Lesnar's music played to bring out Brock on-stage. Brock then hit the ring as Hunter tried to get Stephanie out of the ring. Brock tackled Hunter and straight lifted him in the air into the turnbuckle. Brock landed some realistic-looking punches and kicks in the corner before Hunter came back with blows. The two men traded blows center-ring before Hunter rocked Lesnar to the ropes and clotheslined him over the top rope. Lesnar stood up and glared into the ring, selling intensity that he wanted to destroy Hunter. In the ring, Hunter ripped off his shirt and called out to Lesnar, who then ripped off his shirt, cursed Hunter, and huffed and puffed. Lesnar then backed up the ramp with Heyman behind him as Hunter stood tall in the ring. To recap, Cole noted Stephanie goaded Heyman into accepting Brock vs. Hunter at Summerslam. Cole said if tonight is any indication, it's going to be a flat-out fight.

Still to come: Punk vs. Cena for the WWE Title.

[Commercial Break]

Announcers: Cole and Lawler recapped events tonight before introducing a video some touts. Kofi Kingston offered a tout, then WWE showed Tout videos of fans reacting to events on the show. ... Next, the announcers plugged a WWE '13 video game poll on which dream match viewers would like to see. The options were Punk vs. Savage, Sheamus vs. Mankind, Cena vs. Stone Cold, or Andre vs. Big Show. And, the winner is Cena vs. Austin. WWE then rolled footage of a fantasy Austin vs. Cena match-up in the video game setting.

Video replay: Stone Cold vs. Vince McMahon feud. After a clip of Austin stunning McMahon aired, they showed John Cena talking up the feud. As clips from their feud aired, WWE showed soundbytes from Cena, Maria Menounos, Stephanie McMahon, and The Miz discussing the Austin-McMahon moments and impact on the Monday Night Wars.

[Commercial Break]

[Q10] Announcers: Graphics flashed on the screen noting mainstream media coverage of Raw 1,000 as Cole and Lawler talked up Raw's place in pop culture.

In-ring: Santino's music played to bring out U.S. champion Santino and Hornswoggle holding Mattel's new buddy toys. Ringside, Cole and Lawler pretended to fight with John Cena and Rey Mysterio buddy toys. Meanwhile, Swoggle tossed out toys to the crowd as Santino did a victory lap. Longest ring introduction ever. Justin Roberts then announced special guest ring announcer Howard Finkel. In the ring, Fink said the next match is scheduled for one fall. Out came Heath Slater, who ripped the mic away from Fink and said everything that has happened to him on Raw doesn't matter anymore. Slater said the only thing that people will remember is his victory tonight. He said it's going to be *epic.* He challenged any of the so-called, wannabe Raw Legends to a No DQ, No Count-out match. Suddenly, Lita's music played. "What?" Lawler asked aloud before Lita emerged on-stage. Cole called her the greatest high-flying Diva of all-time. Cole recapped Lita's drama on Raw history before Slater laughed at Lita's presence in the ring. Slater asked Lita if she really thinks she can beat her. Slater laughed and called for the bell.

4 -- HEATH SLATER vs. LITA -- No DQ, No Count-out match

The bell sounded, but Lita took the mic and said she hired herself a little protection. Suddenly, the APA music played to bring out JBL and Faaroq. Slater bailed from the ring at this point and decided to head for the entrance ramp. He stood on-stage, but suddenly Road Warrior Animal's music played to bring out all of the returning Legends that have faced Slater in recent weeks. They dragged Slater down the ramp and tossed him into the ring, where Lita was waiting. Lita hit a kick to the gut, then Twist of Fate. JBL then wound up and smashed Slater with the Clothesline from Hell. Lita then finished off Slater with a top-rope moonsault for the pin and the win. Post-match: Faaroq took the mic and stood over Slater, then noted, "Damn!" Cue up a celebration with all of the Legends along with Lita.

WINNER: Lita at 1:55.

Earlier Tonight: Cole fed to a video package on Vince McMahon introducing the new GM of Raw... A.J. Then, Rock got involved with D-Bryan and gave him a Rock Bottom.

Backstage: Sean Mooney re-appeared on WWE TV to bring in Daniel Bryan for reaction to events tonight. Bryan noted the entire night has been tainted. Even Charlie Sheen has jumped in. Bryan said that guy needs more than anger management, but life management. Bryan said if Sheen were standing right here, he would slap on the Yes! Lock faster than you can say, "Winning," which he said with a high-pitched, mocking voice. Bryan stomped off.

[Commercial Break]

[Q11] Ringside: Michael Cole brought in WWE's 100,000,000th social media follower, Alex Guerrero, Jr., to discuss tonight's Raw. Alex noted Daniel Bryan hasn't had a good night, but he has. Cole then said Alex has fulfilled his lifetime dream to be interviewed by Michael Cole, which drew groans. ... On-camera, Lawler introduced a video package on great WWE catchphrases.

Video package: Fozzie Bear from the Muppets introduced the video on WWE catchphrases through the years. Included was an "Excuse Me!" vs. Stone Cold "What?" battle, plus Woo Woo Woo from Zack Ryder vs. Woo! from Ric Flair. Randy Savage's "Dig It!" line was included. Plenty of Rock and Stone Cold moments. "And, that's the bottom line 'cause Stone Cold said so," was the final line.

Backstage: Zack Ryder talked to John Cena and Mean Gene Okerlund that he figured out who was behind GTV - Mean Gene. Okerlund noted he wasn't even working here. Suddenly, The Rock entered the shot, so Ryder and Gene bailed. Cena smiled and said it's been a long time. Rock said he wants to wish Cena good luck, just like he did to Punk earlier tonight. Cena said he's cashing in his MITB briefcase tonight to become WWE champion and get one more shot at the Great One at the Rumble. Rock said he can't tell him ... how much he's looking forward to that. Rock walked off and Cena smiled at the thought of a re-match.

[Commercial Break]

Back live, Kane's pyro shot off to randomly bring out Kane. Justin Roberts announced a match-up as Cole recapped Kane's role in the A.J/D-Bryan love angle. Suddenly, Jinder Mahal's music played before Kane could blast his pyro in the ring. Mahal brought out Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, Hunico, Camacho, and Drew McIntyre following at a distance to note they have been given zero opportunity through 999 episodes. They circled the ring.

Suddenly, the bell tolled. And, a second time. Cole said it can't be. Flames flashed on the stage as the bell continued to toll and Undertaker's theme played on the Titantron. The crowd erupted as Undertaker slowly emerged on-stage dressed in his Super Shredder uniform. Cole noted he's back for the first time since going 20-0 at WrestleMania three months ago. As Taker made his entrance, Cole recapped Taker vs. Triple H at WM28 and Lawler noted Taker was on the very first Raw and now he's on Raw 1,000. Taker slowly approached the ring steps, looked into the ring, and raised the lights before entering the ring as Kane stood by.

In the ring, Taker turned to look toward Kane, who was breathing heavily. Taker then slowly removed his gear as the jobbers stood by ringside. Taker removed his jacket to reveal his shaved head with a Mohawk sitting on top of his head. WWE cut to a shot of the jobbers, then they hit the ring. Taker and Kane landed right hand blows before they cleared the ring of everyone except for Hawkins and Hunico. This seemingly random segment was met by silence before Kane and Taker hit stereo chokeslams. They followed with stereo Tombstones.

Taker came nose-to-nose with Kane and they surveyed their brotherly damage. Taker and Kane then cleared the ring of Hawkins and Hunico before standing tall together to cheers. Taker proceeded to do his pose before Kane shot off pyro behind Taker. Cole said the Brothers of Destruction are back on Raw 1,000. Taker, who strained as he walked, paced around one more time before Kane left the ring.

Segment Reax: Taker interacting with Heath Slater would have seemed beneath him, so this certainly felt beneath Taker, especially compromising some of his mystique. It was appropriate for Taker to appear on this milestone Raw, though, and they didn't give away too much, so Taker can disappear for a few months before returning to TV and no one will remember this segment.

[Q12] Video package: WWE's B.A. STAR event in St. Louis earlier today. WWE showed clips of Stephanie McMahon, Eve, Sheamus, The Miz, and James Durbin at the event.

[Commercial Break]

Smackdown plug: Sheamus has dominated Smackdown as World champion. This Friday, the next #1 contender will be determined.

Announcers: Cole and Lawler brought in Charlie Sheen for a response to Daniel Bryan. Sheen said there's a reason why he's drinking a shake - he held up an In-N-Out cup - because he wants to shake the fake beard off Daniel Bryan and knock around "goat face." Sheen said the next time D-Bryan is in Los Angeles, he will beat him up. Cole took that as a challenge for a match against D-Bryan. And, of course, Summerslam is in Los Angeles. They stopped short of officially announcing Bryan vs. Sheen at Summerslam, but that was the implication.

In-ring: John Cena's music played to bring out Cena for the main event WWE Title match. Cena came out holding his MITB briefcase and he noted it's time for him to make some history tonight. Cena held up the case as he marched to the ring as Cole went back to June 2005 when Cena was drafted to Raw in this very building. Cole said that night changed the direction of this show and WWE forever. Cena then officially handed in the briefcase to referee Chad Patton to make the cash-in official. Cult of Personality played to bring out WWE champion C.M. Punk. Cole then read results of WWE's poll on who should face The Rock for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble - 55 percent for Punk, 35 percent for Cena, and 10 percent for Big Show stealing votes. Punk posed in the ring as Cena watched intently before they cut to break.

[Commercial Break]

Pre-main event PWTorch poll results: No Contest/No Finish/DQ result - 42 percent, Punk retains WWE Title - 33 percent, Cena wins WWE Title - 20 percent, and match will not occur - 5 percent.

5 -- WWE champion C.M. PUNK vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Title match

The bell sounded right as they returned from commercial. Cena and Punk danced around the ring before Punk extended his hand, which Cena slapped before they danced around the ring some more. Cena with a shoulder knock down as the crowd picked up a dueling chant of "Let's Go Cena / Cena sucks mixed with C-M Punk." Cole said if Punk is still champ tomorrow, he will pass Hulk Hogan's 1991 reign and Bret Hart's 1994 reign. Punk and Cena continued to feel each other out before hitting the top of the hour.

[Q13 -- over-run] Punk took the advantage and shoved Cena into the ropes, where Cena recovered and paused to feel things out. Cena then circled around the ring before locking up again. Cena gave a clean break in the corner before they locked up again. Lawler said this come down to just one wrong move. Punk ripped off a round of chops to Woos! before Cena unloaded with right hands to regain control. Punk came back with a back drop before applying a submission. Cena fought out, then the two men started trading right hand bombs. Bombs turned into forearms and kicks, then Cena landed a shoulder tackle and another. Cena tried a sit-out slam, but Punk escaped and hit a leg whip into a high knee in the corner. Punk mocked Cena by doing the handwave before Cena blocked the running bulldog with a sit-out slam. Cena then did his own handwave over Punk, who kicked him in the head to block. Punk followed with another kick, this time to the back of the head.

At 7:30, Punk called for the GTS, but Cena blocked, then shoved Punk into the corner, where the referee was. After the ref was bumped to the outside, Cena nailed Punk with the AA and pinned Punk for a visual three count. Cena then left the ring to revive the ref, and in the meantime, Big Show entered the ring. When Cena re-entered, he walked right into a spear from Show. Show then wanted the KO Punch on Cena as Punk recovered in the corner. Show cocked his hand, then blasted Cena in the head with the KO Punch. Cena fell over as Punk sold confliction crouched in the ring.

Punk recovered to his feet and surveyed the scene, trying to figure out what to do. Punk walked out of the ring and checked on the ref, telling him to wake up. Punk acted unsure of how to handle this as the ref came to on the floor. Punk then rolled the referee into the ring and sold confliction as Cena remained KO'ed in the ring. Punk then made a split-second decision to go ahead and cover Cena, who kicked out just before three. Punk sold frustration over this situation. He then hoisted up Cena for the GTS, but wasn't 100 percent committed to it. Cena countered in mid-air into the STF center-ring. Suddenly, Big Show entered the ring again and blasted Cena, causing a DQ.

WINNER: Cena via DQ at 11:14; Punk retains the WWE Title. A set-up for a major angle to follow...

Post-match: Show decimated Cena as Punk stood in the background. Punk sold confliction over what to do. Lawler pleaded with Punk to do something. Meanwhile, Show continued to assault Cena. Suddenly, The Rock's music played and Rock stormed the ring. Rock ran right past Punk, who appeared to exit stage left. Rock blasted Show with right hands, then dropped Show center-ring.

Rock proceeded to set up for the People's Elbow, but Punk stormed the ring to blast Rock with a clothesline out of nowhere. The crowd gasped as Punk stood still selling inner conflict with his eyes. Punk held his hands out, then measured a recovering Rock and delivered GTS center-ring. Some of the vocal males applauded while other fans booed Punk, who simply stood center-ring with sort of a faraway look in his eyes. Punk then accepted his title belt as Rock writhed in pain and Cena remained out cold in the corner. And, the seed planted in Punk's ear by Eve a few weeks ago has produced fruit.

Punk slowly left the ring to a mixture of boos and cheers. Lawler said he thinks Punk has turned on the fans. Back in the ring, Rock slowly recovered while Cena blinked his eyes. They cut to a shot of Punk slowly walking up the entrance ramp with a faraway look in his eyes and the audience unsure what to make of this. Cole signed off 14 minutes past the top of the hour.

FINAL THOUGHTS: WWE certainly planted the seeds for the big matches the remainder of the year with an apparent C.M. Punk heel turn after becoming tired of Cena, Rock, and others over-shadowing him as WWE champion. It looks like an immediate Punk-Cena re-match at Summerslam, then perhaps Punk-Rock at the Rumble, and perhaps Rock-Cena II at WrestleMania, this time actually for the WWE Title. All of this remains to be seen, but that appears to be the direction. (Pro Wrestling Torch)


New X Men, Wolverine 2 Film Revealed Possible New Viper Actress...

New X Men, Wolverine 2 film revealed possible new Viper actress. According to a new report from Collider, talks with Jessica Biel to play character Viper in the new Wolverine 2 flick, did not workout,so now, this new Russian actress Svetlana Khodchenkova is currently in talks to play Viper instead. It’s also reported that Svetlana is expected to close a deal with the studio pretty quickly.

The character of Viper is said to be of Eastern European decent, and has a complex relationship with Wolverine that includes, at one point, a sham marriage. Svetlana is mostly known for her work in Russia, but she appeared last year in the espionage flick “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”

On location work on The Wolverine will be done in Japan, while stage work will be shot in Australia in August. The movie stars: Hugh Jackman, Will Yun Lee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Brian Tee, and is scheduled to hit theaters on July 26th,2013. Stay tuned.


Wolverine sequel: Jessica Biel out...

Just days after Jessica Biel was announced to play Viper in the forthcoming Wolverine sequel, The Wolverine, it has emerged that the actress has now walked away from the project after contract talks broke down.

James Mangold has taken the reins for this installment with Hugh Jackman returning to play the titular title role. It will hopefully stay faithful to the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller series which sees Wolverine transported to Japan in one of his darkest storylines.

Biel had been cast as Viper, a character who has a tempestuous relationship with Wolverine/Logan, including blackmail, a forced marriage and the odd wound – both physical and mental. Viper is also known as Lady Hydra, a high ranking officer in the Hydra network, but this may not be referenced in The Wolverine as the rights to Hydra are with Disney/Marvel Studios and Hydra was used in Captain America: The First Avenger.

The Wolverine has had a bumpy ride so far getting to the big screen, with Darren Aronofsky leaving the project very early on. This caused a delay in filming, which then grew as Hugh Jackman had commitments to film Les Miserables.

It’s another setback for the production that commences in Australia this August before filming on location in Japan. Sources say that Fox are now talking to other actors about the role as they look to move quickly to replace Biel.

The film is scheduled for release July 2013.


Marvel Entertainment movies; Thor, Spider-Man boost popularity of online slot games...

The Media Man agency reports that Marvel comics themed games such as Amazing Spider-Man, Thor, Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk have received a boost thanks to recent and upcoming movie releases tied in with Marvel Entertainment. For the gaming world that Excelsior! (as Marvel legend Stan Lee would say). Check em out at PartyCasino, as featured across the Media Man network.


Comic Book Movies News Update...

DC Comics:

Director and screenwriter Quentin Tarantino will soon be scripting for DC Comics. The announcement, made at San Diego Comic Con, was nothing short of cryptic, and we are waiting on more details to be divulged.


Marvel Comics:

The Marvel NOW! Point-One teaser sequentially revealed the heroes that will be strongly implicated in the special issue to be released this Fall. The characters are Nick Fury, Jr., Cable, Ant Man, Loki, Wiccan, Miss America, Nova and Starlord.


Film and Television:

Dreamworks recently entered a bidding war for Classic Media film and television rights to properties like He-Man, Godzilla, Voltron, Turok, Dick Tracy, Archie, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and many more.

Marvel Studios is investigating the leak that uncovered the production of a Guardians of the Galaxy film weeks before the film's planned announcement at San Diego Comic Con.

The Dark Knight Rises has reportedly earned $162 million at the box office in its opening weekend despite tragedy. The gross puts TDKR third behind Marvel's The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, both of which had inflated grosses due to 3D ticket sales.


O'Neill formally takes over as Echo chairman - 23rd July...

Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill has officially taken over as chairman of casino operator Echo Entertainment Group's board.

Mr O'Neill takes over from John Story who stepped down on June 8 following a campaign to remove him by James Packer, head of rival casino operator Crown.

Mr O'Neill, a non-executive board director and chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, subsequently assumed the role of Echo's acting chairman.

His appointment received Mr Packer's support.

Mr Packer, seeking a presence in the lucrative Sydney gaming market, wanted to to increase his influence on Echo, which holds the city's sole casino licence.

Crown took a 10 per cent holding in Echo.

Echo operates The Star in Sydney, the Jupiters casinos on the Gold Coast and in Townsville, and the Treasury casino in Brisbane.

Crown operates the Crown casino in Melbourne and the Burswood casino in Perth.


Steven Spielberg Wants Chris Hemsworth for Robopocalypse...

Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth was a relative unknown Stateside only a couple years ago, but he has become the go-to guy for roles requiring a handsome badass who fights inhuman threats. Hemsworth has battled Frost Giants in Thor and alien invaders in The Avengers as Thor — and Thor's wicked brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), in both movies — and trolls as the Huntsman in Snow White and the Huntsman, and it looks like he will soon be battling robots for director Steven Spielberg in Robopocalypse.

The three-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker has been trying to put together an adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson's best-selling novel of the same name since before the book was completed, and now it seems he's finally ready to start moving forward with it. According to Deadline, Spielberg recently met in secret with Hemsworth to discuss starring in the movie and has chosen him to lead the resistance against the artificial intelligence Archos, which seeks to annhiliate the human race.

Further details on the adaptation are scarce at this point. Goddard wrote the initial screenplay adaptation of his book, but Deadline reports that Kario Salem (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) has been hired to rewrite Goddard's script. Here's the synopis of the book from Random House's website:

Not far into our future, the dazzling technology that runs our world turns against us. Controlled by a childlike — yet massively powerful — artificial intelligence known as Archos, the global network of machines on which our world has grown dependent suddenly becomes an implacable, deadly foe. At Zero Hour — the moment the robots attack — the human race is almost annihilated, but as its scattered remnants regroup, humanity for the first time unites in a determined effort to fight back. This is the oral history of that conflict, told by an international cast of survivors who experienced this long and bloody confrontation with the machines. Brilliantly conceived and amazingly detailed, Robopocalypse is an action-packed epic with chilling implications about the real technology that surrounds us.

It's the robots' world, we just live in it...for now.

Random House also has a one-minute video short set in the world of Robopocalypse on its site. The director of the short, Stephen Lunsford, is no Spielberg, but the short is worth watching solely for the creepy, child-like voice of Archos declaring itself humanity's god.

Robopocalypse will be a joint Dreamworks-Fox production distributed by Disney. It is slated for release on April 25, 2014.


Hugh Jackman echoes sorrow over massacre...

Australian actor Hugh Jackman has expressed his sadness following the mass shooting at a US screening of The Dark Knight Rises.

'All I can echo is the sorrow I feel for the families, the community, for everybody,' he says.

'It's an issue that goes way beyond, obviously beyond acting, beyond film or anything like that.

'This is just a tragedy on a level that we have experienced in Australia many years ago in Tasmania and it's devastating and I can't comment on (it) anymore than as a human being and my feelings for those people involved.'

Jackman was speaking in Sydney at a press conference on Tuesday for his new film The Wolverine, alongside its director, James Mangold, and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Jackman was sporting a red right eye, but it wasn't because of training for the action movie, but rather 'a very energetic game of tag with my kids', which he thinks burst a blood vessel.

Jackman says it wasn't easy getting back into shape for the part, particularly coming from his last role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.

'That was a particular challenge because Les Mis, I had to start at 83 kilos and I finished at about 97 kilos by the end of the movie,' he says.

'We did have a holiday recently, but it was more like boot camp for me. But the kids and Deb (his wife, actress Deborra-Lee Furness) were happy.'

Shooting of The Wolverine is scheduled to start in Sydney on July 30, after a number of setbacks for the sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Last March, director Darren Aronofsky left the project, and Mangold stepped in to replace him. Then the shoot, which was originally meant to be in Japan, was postponed last October because of weather conditions.

Mangold says The Wolverine is based on a series of comics that detail the mutant's journeys in Japan and he refuted reports that Jessica Biel had turned down the lead role of Viper.

'The story couldn't be more of a fantasy frankly, in terms of what I was reading, so it was nothing more than a list of people we were considering and still are,' he says.

Jackman, who has played Wolverine now in five different movies over the past 12 years, says he takes the movies on one at a time.

For The Wolverine, he saw the screenplay and was sold.

'I feel like a golfer, always looking for a hole in one and I thought this was the best script we've had,' he says.


Hollywood declares box office truce after massacre...

The Hollywood studio behind the Batman movies has decided not to publish weekend box office figures after the Colorado theatre massacre.

Twelve people were killed and 58 injured when a gunman dressed in full body armour opened fire at a packed midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises in Denver.

James Holmes, 24, was taken into custody outside the cinema after the attack. He is in solitary confinement and is due in court on Monday morning.

Within hours of the attack, Warner Brothers had cancelled the movie's Paris premiere, which was to have been accompanied by a press junket with the cast and crew including director Christopher Nolan and main star Christian Bale.

The company also cancelled red carpet events for the film in France, Japan and Mexico, although screenings will go ahead as planned.

Warner Bros has now confirmed it will not publish weekend takings - a form of crowing about box office success - until Monday.

This was despite the fact that unofficial figures cited by industry daily Variety suggest that it made $US75 million on Friday alone, the third biggest opening day ever at the US box office.

The move was swiftly followed by major Hollywood rivals including Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and Universal.

After initial radio silence from most of the cast and crew, Nolan issued a statement lamenting the "senseless tragedy," and expressing "our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community".

On Saturday Bale, who plays Bruce Wayne aka Batman, also expressed his sadness.

"Words cannot express the horror that I feel. I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them," he said in a statement.

In a separate move Warner Bros scrambled to pull a trailer for another film, Gangster Squad, including a scene in which mobsters shoot at theatre audiences. (AFP)


Christian Bale: My Heart Aches for Victims

The film is expected to be among the most lucrative movie openings and possibly contend with the record $207.4 million brought in by "The Avengers."

"The Dark Knight Rises" star Christian Bale said Saturday that his heart goes out to the victims of the Colorado shootings, a tragedy that brought Hollywood studios together in a rare show of solidarity as they opted to give the weekend box-office a rest.

"Words cannot express the horror that I feel," Bale, who plays the caped crusader in the film, said in a statement. "I cannot begin to truly understand the pain and grief of the victims and their loved ones, but my heart goes out to them."

Meanwhile, Sony, Fox, Disney, Universal, Fox, Paramount and Lionsgate said Saturday that they are joining "Dark Knight Rises" distributor Warner Bros. in withholding their box-office numbers for the weekend.

Warner Bros. announced Friday that it would forgo the usual revenue reports until Monday out of respect for the victims and their families in the Aurora, Colo., shooting that killed 12 and wounded 58 at the midnight show of "The Dark Knight Rises" earlier in the day.

The other studios said they also would not report numbers until Monday. Box-office tracking service Rentrak, too, said it would not report figures this weekend.

Sunday box-office estimates are a weekly routine for Hollywood, with studios jostling for bragging rights as the No. 1 movie and always aiming to break revenue records.

Before the shooting in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater at a midnight screening of the new Batman film, the box-office performance of "The Dark Knight Rises" had been eagerly anticipated. The film is expected to be among the most lucrative movie openings and possibly contend with the record $207.4 million brought in by "The Avengers."

But that now appears unlikely, even though "The Dark Knight Rises" earned $30.6 million from midnight screenings alone. Hollywood trade publications Variety and Hollywood Reporter reported estimates of roughly $75 million to $77 million for the film on Friday, based on box-office insiders.

That would put it on track for somewhere around $165 million for the weekend. Such a total would be the second highest weekend opening ever, after "The Avengers."

Any projections, though, are bound to be rough approximates given the atypical nature of the situation. Many of Friday's tickets were presold before the shooting. Moviegoers making their way to theaters also faced increased security and, in some places, bag checks. AMC Theaters, the country's second-largest movie chain, said it would not allow costumed fans or face-covered masks into its theaters.

Warner Bros. rushed to react to the tragedy, immediately canceling a Friday night premiere in Paris. On Saturday, it also canceled the other remaining red-carpet extravaganzas in Mexico City and Tokyo.

The studio, a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., also moved to pull trailers from its upcoming film "Gangster Squad" from theaters. The trailer of the film, which stars Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling in a ruthless war between Los Angeles police and the mob, includes a scene of mobsters firing into a crowded movie theater from behind the screen.

Christopher Nolan, the director of "The Dark Knight Rises" earlier responded to the tragedy, expressing his sorrow for the victims and their families.

Said Nolan: "The movie theater is my home and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me."

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