Nicol Williamson 1936 – 2011

It has been announced to the public that actor Nicol Williamson died on December 16th, 2011, from esophageal cancer. Williamson was a mercurial actor who brought a tempestuous fearlessness and unpredictability to his many roles. While he starred in high-profile films like Robin and Marian, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and The Exorcist III, he is perhaps best known for playing Merlin in John Boorman’s Excalibur. A retelling of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, the film was praised for its visuals, was a modest box-office hit, and went on to become a cult favorite in the decades since. For many, Williamson as the mischievous (and dangerous) magician Merlin and Dame Helen Mirren as the ambitious power-hungry Morgana served as the true creative and emotional heart of the film.

A Few Quick Notes and a Quick Holiday

I’m taking a personal day today as it’s my wedding anniversary and we’re headed out to the coast for a bit of celebration. But before I go here’s a few quick news notes to tide you over until tomorrow. First off, Stone City Pagan Sanctuary has started a memorial fund for Fay Campagnola, an active part of the Pagan community in California who helped with several important events, and worked for years as live-in caretaker at the Annwfn sanctuary. “Due to the suddenness [of her passing], the family is struggling with funeral costs and Fay’s memorial service, which was planned for earlier this month, had to be postponed due to a lack of funds. Stone City is now collecting donations from the community to raise the funds needed to hold Fay’s memorial and help her family through this difficult time.

The Wild Hunt’s Pop-Culture Round-Up

A brief look at happenings in the world of film, television, comics, and novels.Well, the first episode of the BBC’s new series “Merlin” premiered yesterday, what did the critics think? I think it’s safe to say that Mark Pickavance at Den of Geek hated it.”…it’s all over the place. One minute it’s legend, then slapstick, then panto, then drama, horror and then mystery – they missed out the science fiction and western genres, but we’ve another 12 episodes of this for that to be rectified.”Meanwhile, TV Scoop was far more kind.”…for those of us who were holding our breath and hoping against hope that Auntie’s latest Saturday night blockbuster series wouldn’t be another turkey like Robin Hood, or, worse, another Bonekickers, that bated breath was released in a rousing cheer of appreciation. This time, they’ve really pulled it off.”It seems the more you’re expecting historical realism or accuracy, the more you’re going to be disappointed. Something to keep in mind when it debuts this Winter in America.Speaking of Brits who practice magic, the Los Angeles Times interviews Alan Moore, author of “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, “Promethea”, “V For Vendetta”, and “From Hell” about his upcoming projects and his opinion about the currently-in-litigation film adaptation of his critically acclaimed work “Watchmen”.”Moore has no intention of seeing the film and, in fact, he hints that he has put a magical curse on the entire endeavor.

Merlin Debuts This Saturday (in the UK)

This Saturday, BBC One viewers will get to see the premier of “Merlin”, a new fantasy series featuring “Buffy” alum Anthony Head as Uther, and a veritable “Scooby Gang” of young actors playing the roles of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, and Guinevere.”Merlin, which begins on Saturday September 20, is a new take on the tales of King Arthur. Rather than re-visiting the legend of the knights and the round table, this version goes further back to examine those characters’ formative years. The new series is set in the court of King Uther Pendragon … Something of a tyrant, King Uther has outlawed magic in the kingdom of Camelot, and anyone caught using such tricks will be sentenced to death.”While developing the show, the BBC said they wanted a family production that appealed to “three generation TV”.”Three generation TV – that’s TV you can watch with your grandparents and children. There’s not enough of that about,” Mr Fincham said.