More on the ‘ancient poison gas’ story

The Telegraph has caught up with the Sassanian Empire story today, and its treatment is (to me) much better.

Update Jan 15th: Science Daily is even clearer, with a diagram.

‘Anon’ to write more Asterix stories

Reuters has of course spun this story as a confrontation. The practical outcome ay be more Asterix stories. If there are, will they be up to Goscinny-Uderzo standards?

By Estelle Shirbon

PARIS (Reuters) – Asterix may still be fighting Roman invaders in comic strip adventures that have sold millions of copies around the world, but the plucky Gaul’s author stands accused of surrender — to commercial interests.

The accuser is no Roman but Albert Uderzo’s own daughter.

Uderzo, 81, the illustrator who created Asterix in 1959 with the late writer Rene Goscinny, sold his stake in the Asterix publishers in December. The new owners said last week he had authorized them to continue the series after his death.

His daughter, Sylvie Uderzo, said on Wednesday the decision betrayed the spirit of Asterix, a diminutive warrior who holds off hordes of hapless Romans with help from the druid Getafix’s magic potion that gives superhuman strength.

“I am entering resistance against perhaps the worst enemies of Asterix, the men of finance and industry,” Sylvie Uderzo wrote in a column published by Le Monde newspaper.

“It’s as if the gates of the Gaulish village had been thrown open to the Roman Empire,” she said.

In her view, the besieged village is Editions Albert Rene, the publishers of Asterix, of which she owns 40 percent. The empire is publishing giant Hachette Livre, which has bought the other 60 percent from her father and from Goscinny’s daughter.

Albert Uderzo, who rarely speaks in public, could not be reached for comment. Spokeswomen for Editions Albert Rene and for Hachette Livre, a unit of publishing-to-aerospace group Lagardere, had no immediate comment.

Sylvie Uderzo said her concern was that any Asterix stories written without input from her father would be of poor quality. But the stakes for her are also commercial.

The series is one of the biggest success stories in French publishing history, with 33 comic strip albums that have sold 325 million copies around the world in 107 languages and dialects, according to Editions Albert Rene.

There is also a franchise for merchandise, a theme park outside Paris and eight movies.

Millions of French children have grown up with Asterix for the past five decades and millions more have continued to enjoy the books well into adulthood. With each new generation introduced to Asterix, the market grows.

Editions Albert Rene was created in 1979, two years after co-author Goscinny died suddenly. Albert Uderzo has continued the series on his own ever since, selling millions more books.

At the time of the sale of his stake to Hachette Livre, Uderzo was quoted as saying that he believed the new owners were “respectful of the moral and patrimonial rights of the authors,” according to literary newsletter La Republique des Lettres.

(Editing by Katie Nguyen)

You can ignore this “Spartacus” series

You need read only the first three sentences of this report to see why I say “You can ignore this.”

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Starz is making a play for bloodthirsty fans with its new drama series “Spartacus,” a remake of the Roman slave revolt tale.

The show’s producers promise it will be “a totally R-rated, hard, hard show.”

“There are decapitations, people being split in half,” said showrunner Steven DeKnight. “We don’t want to shy away from violence or sexuality. The beauty of being on premium cable is there is no story we can’t tell.”

The 100% green-screen production will “never go outside” and will take visual inspiration from the comic-book styling of movies such as “Sin City” and “300.” Yet producers said they’ll have to find a fresh balance between realism and style.

“It won’t be intensely monochromatic,” said executive producer Rob Tapert, who described the series as “Gladiator meets “Deadwood.” “We will make sure the process serves the storytelling and not the other way around.”

Another inspiration is HBO’s “Rome,” though the producers said their take on the ancient civilization will include “more testosterone.”

“There’s a gladiator fight in the first season of ‘Rome’ that I leaped off my couch when I saw it,” DeKnight said. “That will be more like what ‘Spartacus’ will be like.”

Starz plans to premiere “Spartacus” in the fall, but there’s one significant element lacking that even the best special effects can’t fix: there’s no lead actor. The producers said they’re searching for the ideal performer and hope to find an “undiscovered action star” to fill the role.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

e many budget-conscious networks are decreasing their presence at the Television Critics Assn.’s press tour, premium cable channel Starz presented more shows than ever as part of its scripted programing expansion.

Starz held sessions for three shows on Saturday, and announced that its first comedy block will premiere March 20.

“Traditionally known for our robust movie lineup, we have taken bold and deliberate steps to expand our original series,” said Bill Myers, president and CEO of Starz. “In 2009, we are committed to expand our presence in originals.”

The network’s comedy lineup includes the second season of improvised series “Head Case” and the debut of “Party Down,” about a Hollywood catering comedy.

The network hopes “Case” could reach a larger audience this year. In the vein of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the show has lined up attention-getting guest stars such as Jerry Seinfeld, Tori Spelling, Geri Halliwell and Hugh Hefner.

Myers said no decision has been made on whether the network’s modestly received first drama series, “Crash,” will return for another season. But Starz’s second drama effort, a remake of the Roman slave revolt tale “Spartacus,” should have little trouble getting some attention.

Producers Rob Tapert and Steven S. DeKnight
Copyright 2009 Reuters

JACT Class Civ Summer School brochure online

Bob Lister has just emailed me the link to The JACT Cassical Civilisation and Ancient History Summer School.

I see that it is being held in Repton. This brings back happy memories of an ArLT Summer School held there in 2003. Beautiful place. Do send your Class Civ students.