HBO's 'True Blood' has oblique local angle


POSTED: Thursday, June 04, 2009

You have to hand it to HBO for its constant stream of fresh, cutting-edge material. “;True Blood,”; a series that will launch its 12-episode second season on June 14, contains a local (sort of) angle. One of the show's regulars is Carrie Preston, who is married to Michael Emerson (Benjamin Linus on “;Lost,”; and a part-time Hawaii resident for one more year). Preston doesn't get the screen time of series star Anna Paquin (Sookie Stackhouse, a waitress who can hear people's thoughts), but when her ditzy, highly sensitive waitress (Arlene Fowler) is on, she often steals the scene.

Like all things vampire, “;True Blood”; has a rabid cult following with popular online discussion threads. But it's also earned favorable reviews with compelling plot lines, unpredictable characters with humor and depth, supernatural elements, shape shifters (who transform themselves from animal to human and back again!), religious fanatics, vampire news updates and provocative sex and violence—sometimes intertwined, always with fangs and typically bathed in blood.

It helps to watch some of the first season, which came out on DVD and Blu-Ray May 19, or catch the series recap narrated by show creator Alan Ball (”;Six Feet Under”;), who explains the characters and plot lines for those new to the serial.

Based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris and set in the backwoods Louisiana town of Bon Temps in the near future, “;True Blood”; revolves around the premise that vampires have exited their coffins and now live among humans. But the night dwellers don't need people for nutrition, thanks to the advent of mass-produced synthetic blood.

Be forewarned, though: We're not talking about “;Twilight”; here, despite the fact that everyone seems to be preternaturally attractive. The shows are extremely graphic and won't appeal to everyone. If you don't like the sight of blood, however fake, forget it ...

Big news from the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii: The Board of Regents unanimously approved its proposal for its own Bachelor of Arts degree in creative media last week, about five years after producer and ACM founder Chris Lee launched the program.

“;This validates the solid and rigorous academic program ACM has developed, reflected by the tremendous accomplishments and dedication of our students and faculty,”; ACM Chairman Tom Brislin said in a statement. In previous years, students graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Specialties include digital cinema, animation, game design and critical studies.

In addition, seven ACM student films were selected to screen their films at the 12th annual Shanghai International Film Festival. Five will travel to China to attend the festival and create short films on location with students from Shanghai University—part of the SMART (Student Media Art) Exchange Program, which facilitates student collaboration in both locations each year. Participating filmmakers are Kevyn Fong, Lauren Cheape, Robert Omura, Nasser Marghalani, Pablo Paz and Thomas Takemoto-Chock ...

Because my teenage son saw the previews for Disney/Pixar's new movie “;Up”; and decided it would be “;so stupid,”; I felt compelled to sing its praises after catching the early press screening. It's a wonderful, sweet family film, and the talking dogs alone are worth the price of admission.