Posts Tagged ‘a-team’

The A-Team movie trailer, and my immense fannish squee

January 12th, 2010

Post by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

In the last two decades, many old television action/adventure favorites have been resurrected for the big screen with varying – but often poor – results. I Spy, Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch, The Mod Squad, Wild Wild West…the list goes on and on. Very rarely do fans of the original series find much to celebrate in the movie adaptions, though occasionally (such as with Mission: Impossible and The Fugitive), they manage to launch a new franchise or find success by presenting something different enough from the original to avoid too close comparisons.

So now it’s finally The A-Team‘s turn. There have been attempts to bring the series to the big screen since at least the mid-90s but never did the project make it off the ground before. As a die-hard fan of the original series, I’ve always been incredibly skeptical of the potential for a movie adaption to work. So much of the show’s original charm was due to the perfect cast and their on-screen chemistry, as well as its perfectly ’80s camp sensibility. So how could a modern-day adaption have a chance to succeed?

I began to come around to the idea of the new movie, however, after seeing some early cast photos. The new cast seemed to have the look. You couldn’t not find it at least a little campy, with the van lurking in the background, and Liam Neeson’s Hannibal grinning around his cigar. When I heard Dwight Schultz was on board for a cameo and had given a thumbs-up to Sharlto Copley’s interpretation of Murdock (my favorite character), my hope grew further.

And then last night I got to see the Teaser Trailer for the film for the first time, and I have to confess, I got goosebumps from the opening familiar – yet just slightly different – drummed intro. I felt myself grinning in a strange kind of fannish delight and excitement I haven’t felt for a long time.

Because this was my fandom – in many ways my first fandom – and here it was, coming back. Not as it had been in 1983, no, but there was Hannibal and Face grinning and scheming; B.A. and his van (and welding! And the van bursting through fences!); Murdock’s familiar drawl, and I felt for a moment like that ten year old kid who first fell in love with that show and those characters all those years ago. It was actually not unlike the fannish “squee” I felt upon first seeing The Police hit the stage again, after so many years, that other early but crucial fandom of my teenage days.

I’m not saying I’m 100% sold on this being the best movie ever or anything like that. But I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I feel a bit like I imagine many long-time Star Trek fans may have felt in anticipation of the 2009 movie which re-imagined the series and seemed to bring life back into the fandom. I want to see the same thing happen for The A-Team. Now I can’t wait until June to see how their plans come together.

An A-Team movie finally coming together?

September 20th, 2009

Post by sockii.

Proposals and scripts for an A-Team movie have been going around for over a decade, but now it finally looks like it’s going to happen for real. The main cast seems set: Liam Neeson taking over George Peppard‘s role as Hannibal Smith; Bradley Cooper in Dirk Bennedict‘s role of Templeton Peck; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in Mr. T‘s role of B.A. Baracus, and now Sharlto Copley in Dwight Schultz‘s role of H.M. Murdock. Jessica Biel is also apparently in the cast as an ex-fiance of Peck now hunting the team, and Watchmen‘s Patrick Wilson will play a CIA operative on the hunt for the team.

The story and characters will be updated so that they will be Iraq War veterans instead of Vietnam vets; what else will change or stay the same remains to be seen, though early pictures show an A-Team van much like the original’s.

As a die-hard A-Team fan for many decades, my feelings about the project have been mixed from the start. I read an early script for the project back in the 1990s which was truly dreadful, bearing virtually no resemblance to the characters and tone of the original series. But at this point I have to admit to at least a little curiosity of what will come about now that the film is genuinely going to happen, with an expected release date of June 11, 2010. I’m a big fan of Liam Neeson, although I don’t quite see him as Hannibal Smith without some major changes to the character. Murdock was always my favorite character so I’ve always been highly resistant to the idea of anyone other than Dwight Schultz in the role (Jim Carrey was long a rumor, but apparently “too expensive” for the project and I’m glad for that). Yet Sharlto Copley seems like a potentially good choice based on what I’ve seen of him so far after his breakout performance in District 9. That said, a lot of the longtime A-Team fans I know are decidedly not enthusiastic about the project, no matter who is cast in the roles because it won’t be the team they know and love.

If the film is successful – which of course is no guaranty – I’ll be curious about the effect on the fandom, which has been steadily chugging along for decades with a low profile but fairly continual stream of fanworks production. Will there be a separate fandom that develops for these new interpretations of the old characters, much as what happened with the Star Trek movie this year? Will the popular slash pairings change or be the same (if there are any slash pairings that take off?) Will there be conflict between the new and old fandom, or will the old fandom try to capitalize on the newfound interest in the A-Team and try to welcome new fans in to explore the world of the original series?

It should be interesting to see, and l’ll be following news about the new film with great interest as it develops.

Dragon*Con panel report: Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict

September 10th, 2009

Post by sockii (Nicole Pellegrini)

I only made it to one full panel at Dragon*Con this year, and that was the A-Team “Reunion” Q&A with Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict (actually, it wasn’t much of a Q&A, but I’ll get to that later…)

I had to rush to get to where the panel was located in the Hyatt from my dealer’s table in the Marriott. I was surprised that, when I got there about 10 minutes before the panel was to begin, there was a HUGE line to get inside! I really didn’t expect that for an A-Team panel. Nevertheless, the room was fortunately a fairly large one (seating 200 maybe, and it did fill up) and I was able to score a single seat fairly close, in about the 5th or 6th row. Much to my amusement, as I was sitting down the woman next to me pulled out a blue baseball cap. I then noticed her tan pants and converse sneakers, matching my own, and discovered that I was sitting next to a die-hard Murdock fan, much like myself.

An H.M. Murdock fan at Dragon*Con

Dirk and Dwight came out a few minutes late to an enthusiastic response from the crowd. They were both lively and in good spirits, their off-screen camaraderie as evident as always. Indeed, they talked for some time about their off-screen friendship and how that was rather rare in Hollywood (a place Dwight described brilliantly as being full of “malignant narcissism”), and also how that had been strengthened during a time after the series’ end when Dirk was going through a bit of a personal crisis. They talked a lot about the beginnings of the A-Team: how Dwight was “fired” after the pilot episode and then re-hired after the screening results came in; how Dirk was supposed to get the part of Templeton Peck from the start and what it was like to join the show after the early filming had been done; what it was like first meeting George Peppard and what he and Mr. T were both like off-screen. Much of this wasn’t necessarily new information to anyone who’s seen Dirk and Dwight at cons before, but they are always fun stories to hear them tell: and both Dirk and Dwight do some hilarious Mr. T impersonations!

Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict

They also talked about practical jokes played on the set, and some of the difficulties in the later seasons with Peppard and T that lead them to take on larger parts to carry the action and dialog (Peppard and T would only work 10am – 4pm, so Dirk and Dwight would go on late into the evening to fill in extra screen time as necessary.) On a more personal level, Dirk talked for some time about leaving Hollywood and why he had decided it was more important to be a full-time father to his boys than continue pursuing an acting career. This got a loud round of applause from the audience, as did Dwight’s mention that he had been married to his wife, former actress (now a therapist) Wendy Fulton, for 27 years.

The two of them talked for so long that there was only time at the end for maybe a half-dozen questions or so. I don’t remember the specifics of what was asked too well, although one person did bring up the James Bond-spoof episode The Spy Who Mugged Me, which got Dwight to do his great Sean Connery impersonation for a little bit. There was some mention of the potential A-Team movie but both expressed doubts it would ever really get filmed as there has been talk about it for so long, with so many different scripts proposed, and both were skeptical about the tone it would take. A number of people (myself included!) spoke up with thanks for The A-Team being their “first fandom” and the entire reason they were still in fandom today, which was really nice to hear. I managed to get in a brief question at the end for Dwight as well, asking if his talk radio show would be making a return any time soon, which he answered no, except for some fill-in positions, and deferred from going into any further detail during the panel since he didn’t want to/have time to get into politics there. Oh well; I wanted to ask because I wasn’t sure I’d have a chance to get away from my dealer’s space later in the weekend to catch him on the Walk of Fame.

They finished up soon afterwards and did mention they were heading right over to the Walk of Fame to do some autographs. So after checking in at my dealer’s space to make sure things were going ok there without me, I dashed over to the Hilton to get in line. Dwight recognized me right away and apologized for not answering my question further during the panel, so we talked then a little bit more about his talk radio work, what had become of “Dark Matters” and working with Don Ecker; how he was doing fill-in work at TRN on occasion and was still hoping to get a full-time/syndicated show in the future. I didn’t want to hold up the line too much longer (and later went back on Sunday to talk with him some more about other things) but I did get him to pose with me for a photo.

Dwight Schultz and sockii!

I also went to get Dirk’s autograph and a photo after that as they were seated right next to each other. Dirk’s line moved verrrrrrry slowly as he is quite chatty with people (and a lot of Battlestar Galactica fans were there asking him all sorts of questions.) He was nice as well, though I find Dwight a little more directly engaging and easy to talk to (as you come up to his table, Dwight gives you a big smile and reaches out to shake your hand. He really seems pleased to meet each person that comes to see him, instead of just doing this thing for the money.)

So that was my big A-Team adventure for Dragon*Con! Later on I posed for an official “staged” photo with both guys, and caught part of Dirk’s solo panel, but Friday was definitely the fannish highlight of the con for me. As an A-Team fan who had only had the chance to see Dirk and Dwight separately before, and neither for at least ten years, I was really thrilled to see them both here and hope that they will come back and do Dragon*Con again in the future (and hey, next time give Dwight a solo panel! I’d love to hear him talk more about his other genre work…)

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To learn more about Dragon*Con and attending the convention in the future, check out my Guide to Dragon*Con.

The A-Slash is looking for a new archivist

June 21st, 2009

The A-Slash, a really great little group of A-Team slash writers, is looking for a new volunteer archivist for their website. The list is low volume (less than 20 active members) and dedicated to quality writing. The maintainer would be happy to take on an assistant who would be willing to get the archive up-to-date, as it hasn’t been updated in 2 years to reflect new postings on the yahoogroup. You can contact the maintainer if you might be interested in helping out and learning more about what would be involved.

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