A headline that just hit The Star (Mike Hendricks) in the late afternoon: “Mayor asks and Royals agree to pay Kansas City’s legal fees in downtown ballpark talks”
In another sign that negotiations over a possible downtown ballpark are getting serious, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said Thursday that the Royals have agreed to cover the city’s legal costs surrounding those talks.
Lucas made the announcement at the end of the council’s business session. He said he asked the team to pay those fees because he assumed the Royals will be asking for significant taxpayer support in the form of “incentives, potential debt coverage by the city, and other legislative items,” if it builds a new ballpark downtown.
He said he assumed the Royals might put a cap on the amount of those expenses, but that will require negotiation. At its regular legislative session following that announcement, the council authorized City Manager Brian Platt to select an outside law firm to represent the city and to negotiate an agreement with the Royals to pay legal counsel directly.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Business Journal (Thomas Friestad) also reported about lawyers on the stadium project:
Kansas City plans to enlist outside help as leaders continue what they say are good-faith negotiations with the Kansas City Royals over a prospective move to Downtown.
The City Council voted unanimously Thursday afternoon to authorize City Manager Brian Platt to hire third-party firms to provide legal counsel and other professional services relating to the Royals’ potential $2 billion stadium and mixed-use ballpark district in the East Village. Council members also cleared Platt to enter an agreement with the Royals directly, after the team agreed to reimburse the city for its expenses in retaining the outside firms.
Mayor Quinton Lucas, who introduced the authorization ordinance earlier Thursday, told council members that the Royals’ negotiating team expects to submit multiple requests for city incentives, potential debt coverage and other legislative items related to the ballpark project. The team previously signaled that it could seek the city’s support on infrastructure improvements to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Anne Rogers gave us five prospects to watch next year:
2B/OF Javier Vaz - It can be argued Vaz had a breakout year this year as the inaugural Alex Gordon Heart & Hustle Award winner in the Royals organization. But could there be more in the tank for the 23-year-old? Vaz, who was drafted in the 15th round in ‘22, slashed .279/.373/.400 between High-A and Double-A, with 18 doubles, eight home runs, 51 RBIs and 30 stolen bases. He walked (64) more than he struck out (50). Vaz has elite contact rates, but not much power. Still, when he gets on base, he’s not only fast, but also smart and efficient. Vaz’s zone awareness, bat-to-ball skills and defensive ability to move around the field — not to mention his clubhouse presence as a leader — helped him jump onto the Royals’ top prospect list at No. 13. And they’re are all worth watching as he climbs in the system.
Somehow this slipped through the cracks: Ryan Goins retired a couple of days ago:
My farewell to playing the game I love ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/goFJalNvVm— Ryan Goins (@rgoins17) October 9, 2023
Despite playing for Kansas City in 2018, this is his most memorable moment in a Royals game:
In other former Royal news, Coco Crisp and his wife are filing for divorce.
David Lesky writes slightly less frequently in the offseason, but he posted yesterday about Royals free agent fits:
So there you have it. Based on the comments of Picollo last week and what they’re looking for, I picked out 36 free agents who fit in some way what I think the Royals should be doing. It’s a lot and there are probably 75 more guys who could be available via a trade, so the Royals certainly have their options. It’ll be a very interesting winter.
- Mike Gillespie at KOK: One writer’s personal ‘Of the Year’ award choices
- Jacob Milham at KOK: Grading the 2023 KC Royals: Samad Taylor
- Patrick Glancy at Powder Blue Nostalgia: Celluloid Diamonds: My Top 3 baseball movies (not Royals-related, but it is the offseason)
I’m not a horror movie fan. I wasn’t a Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween fan like so many of my peers – it just wasn’t my thing. I’m not into gory deaths or excess tension so Saw is right out. There are some other conventions of the genre that are also less than ideal for me. All this is to say that I’m coming at this from a more “novice” point of view.
However, I accidentally watched Scream VI on a plane, thinking it was Scream IV*. About a half hour in, nothing made sense with what I had seen before. I remember liking the first couple and then realized, in my tiredness and haste, I had skipped a couple of movies ahead. I didn’t even realize there were that many in the series. However, this one was decent enough that I was curious to watch them all as a set. So, yes, it’s a Friday the 13th in October, and, no, we’re not talking Friday the 13th, but this is at least adjacent.
Warning: There are going to be lots of spoilers below. Considering four of the movies are more than a decade old… well, c’mon.
Scream (1996) – Again, I’ve never liked horror films, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the original movie in the franchise. Scream came about while the horror genre was floundering and had to do something different to stand out. Writer Kevin Williamson came up with the idea of a postmodern slasher pic. This was back when breaking the fourth wall was reserved for comedies and audiences were more than a decade away from mainstream multiverses. It was based on the refreshing premise of main characters explaining the established rules of the genre and then playing with them to keep the audience guessing. While the movie plays the violence for humor, at times, it has to stay serious and loves to draw the tension out to “complement” its gratuitous violence. I’ve seen the first Scream at least a half dozen times so I knew who the villains were. And this isn’t a Poirot mystery where clues are dripped out for the you to solve the mystery. There aren’t bread crumbs left for the viewers – any of the steadily decreasing number of main cast could be the killer and the answer is meant to surprise.
The ensemble casting is spot on: Neve Campbell as competent lead Sidney Prescott; Courtney Cox as slimy reporter Gale Weathers; David Arquette as doofus but honest cop Dewey Riley (Cox and Arquette have good chemistry together and they married soon after); Henry Winkler is a little hammy but works as he’s featured early on when the movie is still trying to get its footing as to how serious it is; Jamie Kennedy’s Randy Meeks is well done as you’re not sure if he’s creepy; and Matthey Lillard’s Stu and Skeet Ulrich’s Billy expertly round out a cast. It’s on the young side and, in the hands of a less competent director or casting director, could have failed. Fortunately, the movie was helmed by horror veteran Wes Craven.
There a trio of unpleasant reminders of its time. First, I didn’t mention Rose McGowan above. Her character’s gruesome death scene basically stars her breasts. About that time you, the modern viewer, realize this is a Harvey Weinstein produced movie and filmed a year or two before he raped her. Secondly, the romance between Sidney and Billy leans heavily into the era’s virginal purity nonsense, downplays Sidney’s trauma from her mom’s death the previous year, and the plot punishes her for having sex with Billy even as it pretends it empowers her. Lastly, the movie is pre-Columbine. The kids are callously dark and a key theme is the line “movies don’t create psychos, movies make psychos more creative”.
All that said, when placed in the correct historical context, it still plays as the seemingly oxymoronic smart horror movie and is correctly viewed as a classic of the genre. I could write more about this movie but better writers than I have gone on at length about it.
Scream 2 (1997) – The sequel doesn’t outdo the original but it’s definitely a worthy successor. The start of Scream 2 is another brilliant intro with Omar Epps and Jada Pinkett (pre-Smith) getting killed in a crowded theater for the Stab movie premier. Stab is the in-universe movie series based on the events of the Scream franchise, setting up the even more meta sequel.
I think this is also where we can talk about how this movie franchise can seemingly pull some names – not necessarily A-listers – but a lot of major names, even if in small roles. Along with Epps and Pinkett, there are cameos from Heather Graham, Tori Spelling, and Luke Wilson who are the Stab counterparts to Scream characters. Then there’s Sarah Michelle Gellar (a year into Buffy), Jerry O’Connell (during the height of his Sliders fame), Laurie Metcalf (the year Roseanne ended), Timothy Olyphant and Liev Schreiber (their first major roles), and even David Warner.
As is noted through the movie, it’s just bigger: the main characters are off to college and the motivations and actions fit that. As Randy says, when laying down sequel rules: “the body count is always bigger” and the scene where Jamie Kennedy’s character dies elicits one of the most emotional responses in the entire series.
It takes until 2/3rds of the way into the second movie to hit our first truly stupid moment from main characters (Gale and Dewey’s search for a VCR in an abandoned film school instead of, you know, somewhere safe like at the police station). And the climax is more frustrating than anything we’d seen so far. However, the dramatic play setting is a good one and Debbie Salt as Billy Loomis’s mom is a nice twist.
On the whole, the sequel is mostly as good as the first with even more creativity but it can’t quite match the freshness of the original because it can’t exist without the first one. There’s less raw tension, which is nice, in exchange for a gratuitously higher body count. The secondary characters are less developed, offset by further developing main characters from the first movie. It’s a really competent sequel that I still highly recommend. After this, it gets a bit sketchy for a while.
Scream 3 (2000) - While the first two movies came out in rapid succession, this one had the most difficult development process. Right before production began, the Columbine massacre thrust a spotlight on violent movies and you can feel some of the push and pull between the studio and creative team. Writer Kevin Williamson was committed to other projects so the writing duties fell to Ehren Kruger, the first such major change in the series. Beyond that, it feels like it really tries to top the first two installments and comes up short. I have a soft spot for ambitious movies that fail and give them credit for trying, even if it doesn’t always work.
First, the good. The intro, once again, has a major impact. But rather than going for raw shock or creativity like the first two, this aims for meta shock with the death of a main character: Liev Schrieber’s Cotton Weary. There’s a really creative Jamie Kennedy cameo, as you can tell they knew they made a mistake when killing his character off. The setting tries to be unique: killings disrupting the filming of Stab 3 with chases on set and around Hollywood. The climax in what is, basically, a haunted mansion felt a little too over the top.
The bad is that if you keep killing off most of your main characters each movie, the deaths have less and less of an impact. They keep getting replaced by less interesting characters who don’t have time to develop and the audience doesn’t even try to connect with them, viewing them as fresh meat. One creative exception here is Parker Posey’s character, Jennifer. She plays the actress portraying Gale (Cox) in the Stab movies and there’s a concerted effort to develop her by comparing and contrasting her with Gale. That way you don’t need a whole character history - just a partial one and significantly less screen time to build her up. This series can still be really sharp, even three entries in. Sadly, it’s also a missed opportunity as they didn’t use this writing shorthand for the actors-playing-the-actors for Sidney and Dewey.
As for the ugly, there’s one notable scene that we have to talk about in a modern context. At one point, Milton (Lance Henriksen), the producer of the Stab films, delivers these lines to Gale when questioned about Sidney’s mom working Hollywood: “It was in the ‘70s, everything was different. I was well known for my parties. Rina knew what they were. It was for girls like her to meet men, men who could them parts if they made the right impression. Nothing happened to her that she didn’t invite, one way or another, no matter what she said afterwards… I’m saying things got out of hand. Maybe they did take advantage of her, you know? Maybe the sad truth is this is not the city for innocence. No charges were brought. And the bottom line is Rina Reynolds wouldn’t play by the rules. You wanna get ahead in Hollywood, you gotta play the game or go home.” It’s about this time that I should remind everyone that this movie was produced by Harvey Weinstein. Holy expletive. Watching it now, I can’t tell if the writer was yelling about what Weinstein was doing or if Weinstein had it added, trying to shrug it off his sins as in the past. Either way, it’s a chilling scene to re-watch today, knowing what we know.
In general, the third film had some good twists, but the franchise is getting tired. Sometimes it’s hard to cap a trilogy and, at times, this felt more like going through the motions with the movie-within-a-movie gimmick and a duty to finish off the set. It’s definitely rougher around the edges with the writer change, the push to lean more into comedy than horror because of Columbine, and the ideas already used up in the previous movies. The ending and main villain seem forced to fit into the formula rather than feeling natural. However, there’s still a decent bit of good to it and if this had been the last Scream movie, it would have mostly done its job.
Scream 4 (2011) - Now we’re into the movies that I hadn’t seen before. This one is difficult to place: a stand-alone outing, neither part of the original trilogy, but not part of the reboot trilogy(?), either. To me, it’s the weakest entry yet. Looking at the Rotten Tomatoes scores for the series, Scream and Scream 2 score in the low 80s. Scream 3 dips 41% and this one comes in at 60%. Metacritic has them 65/63/56/52, which feels like a more accurate order. However, there’s a really steep drop off from the first two to the second two. If I were grading them on a horror movie 10-point scale, it’d be a low 9, a high 8, but then a very imperfect 7, and a tired 5.
While the franchise still continues to get some names: Hayden Panettiere, Alison Brie, Anthony Anderson, Rory Culkin, and Adam Brody with cameos from the likes of Kristen Bell and Anna Paquin, the movie really focuses on Sidney, Dewey, and Gale. However, they all just feel off, likely the product of a 10 year hiatus. I think they were also trying to start a new generation “reboot” but, by the end of the movie, all of our new characters are dead except one. All three of our main characters make bad decisions and are stabbed or shot as much as other characters who died, with the only “logical” explanation being that they survived because of their main character plot armor.
Craven and Williamson are re-united, but this feels more like one last cash grab than a reunion. The meta explanations and wittiness are mostly gone, replaced by a couple of creative kills and a lot of retread ideas. The disappointment with Scream 3’s villain of Roman (Scott Foley) was that it explained a lot but strained credulity: he was both the director of Stab 3 and Sidney’s half-brother. Scream 4’s villain of Jill (Emma Roberts) as Sidney’s cousin was downright disappointing. Prior to this movie, these hadn’t been mystery movies where you can whodunnit, but this one was laughably predictable.
When you strip away the self-awareness that made this series unique and the core characters are not quite right, you’re left with a movie series that mimics that which it mocks. They try to speak to new technology, but with rehashed themes about fame and warmed over plots. The killer is killing everyone in Woodsboro again but this time we can blame it on the internet and media instead of blaming it on the movies.
I’m not trying to do a scathing critique are those are generally just lazy. More, I’m at a loss as to why my experience deviates from some of the consensus. It seemed pretty clear to me what 3 was trying to do but was drug down by development hell and a lack of new ideas. This just wanted to be a comfortable, unambitious cliché-ridden ride where we root for the three main characters from before. Maybe if I had watched it when it came out, I would have a better impression. Watching it 10 years later means that any edge has worn off, but it’s also too new to play as a period piece like the original trilogy.
Then the franchise goes into a dormant period. Scream IV was a dud, with the highest budget (tied with Scream 3 at $40M), lowest box office, and mediocre critical response. The franchise limped along as a TV series on MTV (2015, 2016) and VH1 (2019), loosely related to the film series, near as I can tell. Meanwhile, the world found out just how much of a monster Harvey Weinstein was, which closed The Weinstein Company and the rights were sold off. Was anyone really clamoring for another go from this tired franchise, particularly when horror gets older and more cliche faster than most genres? Adding to the difficulty is that this particular franchise’s calling cards include continuing to outsmart convention and being meta relevant, decreasing the available creative space with each subsequent movie. And then to release one at a time when moviegoers, more than usual, are complaining about the lack of new IPs and lamenting the shameless nostalgia mining of old ones?
Against these odds, it mostly worked. This is the successful warm handoff that so many franchises have wanted, but few have been able to pull off. It looked like it it took the good parts of The Force Awakens: the part where it was highly rated, the highest grossing film of all time, and where we were going from Luke, Han, and Leia to the next generation of Rey, Finn, and Poe. So far it hasn’t taken the part where a lack of planning and inconsistent vision in the next two movies sent Star Wars back to the drawing board for another decade. Also, we’re going to call this one Scream 5, despite the actual title being “Scream”… again - they even make fun of this in the movie.
Gone is Wes Craven (RIP 2015), though there’s a scene that’s a tribute to him. Gone is Kevin Williamson as writer, though he is still on as an Executive Producer. The directors of the new movies are the team of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin & Tyler Gillett while James Vanderbilt & Guy Busick are the writers. The only one of those four with more than a handful of credits is Vanderbilt, but I’m not sure that having my name attached to writing the forgettable 2016 Independence Day sequel and the Amazing Spider-Man movies* is really to anyone’s credit.
*That’s the Andrew Garfield ones, for those who can’t keep all the Spider-Man iterations straight. And I won’t blame you if you can’t since we’ve literally had 4 different major incarnations in two decades
The new friend group is as strong as any since the original. Particular praise goes to two new sets of siblings. Jenny Ortega of Wednesday fame plays Tara Carpenter, a high schooler from Woodsboro who is attacked by Ghostface in the opening scene. Melissa Berrera plays her estranged sister, Sam Carpenter. The big reveal in the first act is that they’re only half-sisters as Sam’s biological father is Billy Loomis and that’s what led to their parents divorce and her running away. Skeet Ulrich even returns in her hallucinations. The other siblings are the Meeks twins: Mason Gooding, Cuba Gooding Jr.’s son, has charisma to spare as Chad while Jasmin Savoy Brown plays his fraternal sister, Mindy. In the reboot, she takes the mantle from her uncle and fan favorite, Randy Meeks, as the movie buff who explains the meta rules to our characters and the audience. They’re all charming in their own way and you’re rooting for them.
I’ve never really liked David Arquette but I don’t think I have a good reason, other than some of the roles and public persona from when he was younger. In the Scream series, his character has always been wholesome and his acting has always fit the character. Scream 5 finds Dewey is down on his luck: he followed Gale as she chased her career ambitions, but couldn’t stand living in New York so they divorced and he moved back to Woodsboro. He quit the police force and was living much as I picture David Arquette living: overly paranoid, in a trailer in the middle of nowhere, disheveled, and with a phone always at 30% (probably). Sam and Tara seek him out and he gets to dish out more meta advice, including correctly guessing one of the killers.
After he kicks out our new protagonists, not wanting to be almost killed (again), he calls the old protagonists, Sidney and Gale, bringing the whole band back together. Being the good guy he is, he goes back to protect the new characters. This leads to his death, the most emotional scene in the entire series. His actions were not well thought out but were believable, Gale’s phone call being the last thing he saw was touching (albeit controversial), and Ghostface stared into the camera and said “It’s an honor”, acknowledging the gravity of the moment. It was a fair death and a perfect bridge between the old and new.
The third act is weaker than the first two, though it brings us back to the original Woodsboro party house from the first movie. The motives of the two killers were reasonably meta, but relatively weak by the franchise’s standard: other members of the friend group who were disgruntled fans of Stab and wanted to give the series new, fresh material. They also continued a couple of trends from Scream 4 that made it more difficult for viewers to suspend disbelief. Sidney and Gale team up to beat the antagonists in a way that’s just a bit too “movie-ish”. Similarly problematic was that the main character armor in the series keeps getting stronger. Once again, Sidney survives a fatal injury by virtue of being Sidney and the twins were each stabbed repeatedly in vital organs. In past movies, this has meant certain death, but they somehow survived. The writers also continue with the tradition of lionizing Sidney for being able to repress everything she’s gone through. You’d think maybe that mental health message would be massaged in 2022, but I guess not.
Those weaknesses aside, the movie is still much more good than bad, more well-crafted continuation than cash-in. The writing is playfully parallel to the original, but the character and plot structure are different enough to keep series veterans guessing about the who, what, and why.
Scream VI (2023)
While the new creative team was still working out their take on the franchise in the last movie, this one shows them much more comfortable. Maybe it’s recency bias, but the 6th movie is easily the best in the series since Scream 2 and there’s an argument to be made that only the original is better.
It’s just a really well designed horror movie. Our “core four” (yes, they cheesily call themselves that) main characters are back from the previous movie. The sister dynamic helps ground the movie: Tera is still in denial about her trauma from Scream 5 while Sam is acutely aware of hers and she’s having a hard time not being over-protective. The early scene where Sam tasers “(attempted) date rape Frankie” in the nuts is satisfying and helps you sympathize with Sam, even as she keeps seeing more and more of Billy Loomis in her head. Meanwhile, the twins provide much of the comic relief and exposition.
If I had gone through what they did, I don’t think I’d make the decision to head off to New York City for college. That said, it allows the city to be a character as does the “few days before Halloween” timing. Sidney does not return for the movie, but Gale is back. Also, Hayden Panettiere’s Kirby Reed returns as an FBI agent who tracks down Ghostface killers after she nearly died in Scream 4. It looks like the killer is revealed in the intro, a series first, as Tony Revolori’s character kills Samara Weaving’s, but then he is killed by another Ghostface.
Though there’s often splashes of both, the primary motivations for the main Ghostface(s) alternate between random society-based sociopathy (Scream, Scream 4, Scream 5) and family revenge (Scream 2, Scream 3). There was a nice misdirection pointing towards Kirby’s trauma, before it was revealed that our trio of villains, another series first, was out for revenge instead. Revenge plots just feel more organic as it’s easier for the audience to identify with the killers. Sam’s boyfriend, Richie, was one of the Ghostfaces in Scream 5 so his father and siblings want to avenge his death. The kids are just portrayed as crazy but Dermot Mulroney’s Wayne Bailey (Richie’s father) has to navigate his character’s grief and revenge. The blend doesn’t quite work in the finale, but I don’t think this is on him, so much as a bad writing choice: he just needed to monologue less.
The film is filled with Easter eggs. One of the recurring locations is an abandoned movie theater where Richie had build a shrine to the Stab movies and “real life” Hillsboro murders. The artifacts and lore of the series are mentioned repeatedly. However, they’re not just shamelessly mentioned for nostalgia mining, but used as clues and plot devices. For instance, our killers keep using the masks of older Ghostfaces, but a subway murder is committed by someone in a newer mask, hinting at multiple killers. The subway scene is wonderfully creepy (Whovian, even), laden with tension, and beautifully shot so you almost forgive the dumb decision making from the characters that got them there. Similarly, no one would be able to collect all of that evidence, unless their dad was a crooked cop (probably even not then, but at least it’s an attempted explanation).
My only real complaint is that, in previous reviews, I noted the structural problem of killing off too many interesting characters, particularly when it just needlessly raises the stakes or misdirects viewers. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, the reboots address this by making the main character armor too strong. They had a scene that looked like it was going to be Gale’s death scene, but wasn’t. Same with Chad. When a main character suffers a quick stab where they get away or friends bust in and save them or the attacker is clearly injured and can’t deliver a kill shot, the victim is expected to live. However, it’s dramatically different than when a character is left defenseless with the killer for a couple of minutes, been stabbed repeatedly, and Ghostface has left them to die. The death logic is always going to be a little inconsistent, but the writing has to address with plot changes or re-sequencing. Otherwise, the stakes always feel lower because the audience knows your main characters can’t die.
While the previous movie was mainly a warm handoff reboot, this is an homage and an attempt at a magnum opus. Only the conspicuous absence of Neve Campbell due to a contract dispute (read: the studio lowballed her) keeps it from being so. If this ends up being the last movie in the series, it would be a fine ending. However, this was the most successful series box office to date and Scream 7 already had a (new) director named in August. I wish this same creative team would take one last swing at this series, bring back Campbell, and send everyone off into the sunset in a fitting grand finale.
In the end, if I were to rank the movies, it would be something like 1 > 2 > 6 > 5 >> 3 > 4. You could sell me on 6 being better than 2, but other than that, there’s a definite hierarchy: First two > Reboots >> Middle two. Honestly, the reboots were the most enjoyable but the first two, especially the original, hold a special place in movie history for their originality and launching of the franchise while also being well constructed horror movies.
Maybe I like the reboots because they’re not full of raw tension. Many horror critics didn’t like the lack of scares. Though, I think some of this is world weariness with the difference between 1997 and 2022. The first movie was made in a post-Berlin Wall, pre-Columbine world with a roaring economy and the backdrop of a Presidential impeachment over oral sex. Now, we’re in a post-9/11, post-pandemic world with Russia invading Ukraine, two generational economic collapses later, and a President impeached for leading an insurrection to overthrow an election.
There is something disconcerting to me about slasher movies celebrating the lack of value of human life. It’s never resonated with me, but they feel more “real” about the deaths, rather than comically absurd like an action movie. I’m likely done with the franchise after the next movie and I’m really not up for watching Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Saw, or whatever – again, it’s just not my genre.
I’ll leave you with this little fun fact: Ghostface’s VA, Roger L. Jackson, is a veteran of the industry with many animation and video game credits. One of his first major roles was as Mojo Jojo from The Powerpuff Girls. The movies would have been a lot different if he had read the phone calls in that character’s voice: “What is your favorite scary movie? The movie that you think is scariest? What movie scares you the most? You will never find where I am hiding. It is not the pantry. It is not the kitchen. Do not look in the living room closet. And you will not guess who I am. Because I am smart. Because I will defeat you. Because I am Mojo Jojo!”
We’ve already done the Kingdom Hearts rendition of This is Halloween back in 2019 (wait - what? that can’t be right). This time, the other Nightmare Before Christmas inspired song, Spooks of Halloween Town: