Vaporware no more: 31 lost projects we're hoping to see in the wake of Chinese Democracy
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1. The Watchmen movie
Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy has been the stuff of legends and punchlines for nearly 15 years now; Geffen Records reportedly offered GNR frontman Axl Rose a $1 million bonus if he finally got off his ass and finished it… back in 1999. Now that the album has shockingly appeared on shelves here in the real world, who knows what other troubled, long-delayed pet projects might finally someday surface? For instance, it looks like next year, fans will probably finally get to see the big-screen adaptation of Alan Moore's groundbreaking 1987 graphic novel Watchmen. Producers Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver first acquired the film rights in 1986, before the 12-issue comics series was even finished; the next decade saw multiple screenplays written and scrapped, and the project in the hands of Brazil director Terry Gilliam. He eventually set it aside, calling Moore's book "unfilmable." At various points throughout the late '90s and early '00s, David Hayter, Paul Greengrass, and Darren Aronofsky were each attached as director; the film made it into various states of preproduction, only to start over with each successive creative team. 300 director Zack Snyder has actually made the film, but in August, 20th Century Fox announced that it still held the rights to Watchmen the book, and that it would block the film on copyright grounds. The legal and media battle has been ongoing ever since. Fox's lawsuit is scheduled to see a courtroom in January 2009; the film is optimistically scheduled for release in March 2009. Here's hoping.
2. Alan Moore's Twilight Of The Super-Heroes
Only a year after he changed the rules of the superhero game with Watchmen, Alan Moore—then still working for DC Comics—made his boldest proposal yet. Twilight Of The Super-Heroes was meant to be nothing less than a Gotterdammerung for the capes-and-cowls set: In a frighteningly near future, superhumans would essentially secede from humanity, forming various quasi-royal "houses" that ruled the Earth. On the eve of a union between the houses of Superman and Wonder Woman, something would go violently wrong, leaving the entire future in jeopardy unless John Constantine could crack the conspiracy. For various reasons, DC decided not to go with the story (its franchise-threatening body count seemed scary in those innocent days, for one thing, and Moore's recasting gee-whillikers icon Captain Marvel as a homicidal sex maniac probably didn't help), and the project was ultimately abandoned. Or so it seemed, until Mark Waid and Alex Ross scored big with the disturbingly similar Kingdom Come in 1996. By that time, though, Moore was used to being screwed by DC.
3. Miracleman #25 and beyond Twilight Of The Super-Heroes is hardly Alan Moore's only great never-was. His revival and re-envisioning of Marvelman, a British knockoff of Captain Marvel, was in scope and ambition superior even to Watchmen; astoundingly, when he left the book, it barely missed a step, as Neil Gaiman took over the writing and pushed it into even more exciting terrain. But the book had always been plagued with legal difficulties; it took a while to arrive stateside, and then only with the name Miracleman, thanks to legal conflicts with Marvel Comics. (Miracleman is probably the most lawsuit-plagued comic in the history of the medium.) Issue #24 was the last to be published; the next four issues had already been completed—written by Gaiman, with plot input from Moore—when its American publisher, Eclipse Comics, folded. Since then, it's been 20 years of lawsuits, with Gaiman, Todd McFarlane, Warrior's Dez Skinn, creator Mick Anglo, artist Alan Davis, publisher Len Miller, and collaborator Garry Leach all claiming ownership of the series. It's vanishingly unlikely that the saga will ever continue, and even devoted fans have trouble spreading their addiction to newbies: All the existing trade-paperback collections are out of print, and the comic itself is increasingly rare.
4. The Roxy Music reunion album
After a hiatus of nearly two decades, Roxy Music reunited for a world tour in 2001. Rumors of another album followed, including the 2005 news that long-absent founding member Brian Eno had joined the band in the studio for two tracks. And then… nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Another tour followed in 2006. Then, while promoting his disappointing album of Dylan covers in 2007, lead singer Bryan Ferry promised that the album would be done in a year and a half. We're well past deadline for that at this point.
5. David Lynch's Ronnie Rocket
Like a lot of ambitious creators, David Lynch is no stranger to unfinished projects. There was the Dune movie sequel, Dune Messiah; the Marilyn Monroe biopic Goddess; the surreal comedy One Saliva Bubble; and the Twin Peaks spin-off I'll Test My Log With Every Branch Of Knowledge, starring the Log Lady. But no abandoned Lynch project has been more discussed, by fans or Lynch himself, than Ronnie Rocket. Combining many Lynchian thematic obsessions—idealized 1950s culture, industrial design, midgets, physical deformity—Ronnie Rocket was the film he originally intended to make after Eraserhead. He spent several years working on various permutations of the script (at least three of which can be found on the Internet) before abandoning it in the early 1990s. Still, he's been curiously reticent about whether he's written the idea off completely. In interviews, he refers to it as hibernating, but never dead, leaving open the possibility that he'll return to his surrealistic roots even this late in his career.
6. Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day
Far less chic than Pulp Fiction, and soulless compared to Ghost Dog, Troy Duffy's 2000 vigilante thriller Boondock Saints never should have been a box-office hit, and it wasn't. But there was something about those icy McManus boys—Irish twins who hold their rocket launchers as close as their rosaries—and their God-given mission to slaughter Boston's criminal underworld. Willem Dafoe's turn as a Riverdancin' FBI guy with a fetish for leather boots and svelte twinks solidified the film's cult status, and fans have been eagerly awaiting a sequel, even though the original essentially undid its writer-director. Duffy hasn't made a film since; it seems like his primary occupation over the last eight years has been issuing grand proclamations about Boondock's follow-up, All Saints Day. But the latest news is promising: Duffy has actually started shooting the film, and until recently was keeping up a regular video diary on the production via YouTube. That doesn't mean he'll finish it or actually get distribution, but it's better news than fans have gotten over the last eight years of waiting.
7. The third My Bloody Valentine album
My Bloody Valentine's follow-up to the landmark 1991 album Loveless has been longer in the making than Chinese Democracy, and almost as mythic in its making. (And in certain circles, it's been as much of an it'll-never-happen punchline.) That isn't to say that nobody's been working on it. Kevin Shields built a studio just for the album, then reportedly recorded hours of material he deemed unreleasable. Then, in 2007, Shields announced the band would be getting back together to tour, and told Billboard the album was 75 percent done. How long that last quarter will take remains to be seen—the current pace suggests an April 2012 release date—but Shields and the band did perform some well-received tour dates earlier this year.
Tron was once known for its cutting-edge special effects and popular spin-off videogame; now it's riff-fodder for I Love The '80s. But the 1982 film is still good nostalgic TV-movie viewing. A guy who gets sucked into a computer and has to play jai alai for his life? What a charming concept. So why, more than 20 years later, the world needs a TR2N is a question yet to be answered, but nerd bloggers are already buzzing about the sequel after viewing the trailer at Comic-Con. We'll have to wait for 2011—at the very least—to find out whether revisiting Tron was a good idea. In a real world where people divorce each other in Second Life and convince each other to commit suicide via MySpace, it's hard to figure out how to up the ante on a computer-oriented action flick. Then again, who can ever say no to Jeff Bridges and/or awesome special effects?
9. George R.R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons
When fantasy author George R.R. Martin returned to solo fiction in 1996 after more than a decade of working on the TV series Beauty And The Beast and spearheading the popular Wild Cards shared-world series, he announced that his new book, A Game Of Thrones, was the first of a trilogy. But each of his successively denser, more expansive installments has come with an announcement that his plan for the series is expanding—first to four books, then six, then seven. Technically, fans have been waiting for the "fourth" book, A Dance With Dragons, since shortly after the third installment came out in 2000—Martin spent five years working on it, then announced that it was too long, and his publishers were splitting it in two for publication. In 2005, he published half of it as A Feast For Crows. By that time, the series had built a sizeable, rabid fan base, and the book went straight to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. But readers still set the Internet afire, bitching about Feast's focus on minor and new characters, and the way it left the biggest fan-favorite characters and the key plotlines for what's now supposedly going to be the fifth book. At the time, Martin said Dance was largely completed and would come out shortly, but three years later, he's still writing it, and he's become noticeably surly about questions regarding the book—and about the way his publishers keep optimistically announcing release dates even though the book still isn't done.
10. The Last Dangerous Visions
Speaking of authors who get notoriously splenetic when asked "Where's that book you promised us years ago?" literary enfant terrible Harlan Ellison makes Martin look downright jovial on the subject. Ellison's anthologies Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) were groundbreaking collections that featured the era's biggest names in speculative fiction, addressing sex, violence, and other taboos of the time with unusual directness. A third book, The Last Dangerous Visions, was first solicited in 1973; as of 1979, it had reportedly grown into a three-volume series. And yet almost none of its stories have ever seen the light of day. The Prestige author Christopher Priest, who wrote a story for the collection, then pulled out of the project in 1976, has written what's become the depressing definitive history of the seemingly doomed collection: The Book On The Edge Of Forever, also known as "The Last Deadloss Visions." Ellison has disputed Priest's details and his motives at length. Details aside, though, the whole project has become something of an obsession for the science-fiction fans who have been around long enough to know that it exists, and that they can't have it. Yet.
11. The Secret History movie
In 1992, Donna Tartt's debut novel, The Secret History, became a runaway bestseller. Its tawdry-smart mix of sex, drugs, Greek studies and (spoiler alert) incest, plus an eye-catching Chip Kidd cover, drew legions of readers, inspired reams of fan fiction, and immediately sparked talk of a film adaptation. As Boyd Tonkin wrote in The Independent in 2002, "A long-planned film of the book dropped into one of the most protracted development hells in Hollywood history. The project passed through the indecisive hands of Alan Pakula, Christopher Hampton and Scott Hicks to end up (possibly…) as a Warner-Miramax venture with the sibling duo of Gwyneth Paltrow as producer and Jake Paltrow as director." Paltrow by now is a little ancient to play undergrad Camilla, but she did look pretty damn good in Iron Man, so maybe it could still happen.
12. Francis Ford Coppola's Megalopolis
It's widely agreed upon that the '90s weren't Francis Ford Coppola's best decade: The director himself has admitted that he made three slick studio pictures—Bram Stoker's Dracula, Jack, and The Rainmaker—largely to get his production company Zoetrope out of hock and invest himself in a long-gestating dream project called Megalopolis. Just the name suggests an artistic undertaking of One From The Heart-like proportions (but bigger!), but Coppola worked for many years on the screenplay and could never quite crack it. (His quickie, self-financed project from 2007, Youth Without Youth, was his attempt to brush off the cobwebs of inactivity.) He nearly got the science-fiction behemoth going in the early '00s, but his concept of a society aspiring to utopia was built around New York City as a major character, and 9/11 forced him to go back to the drawing board. Permanently. Maybe.
13. Clipse's Exclusive Audio Footage
Hip-hop is full of CDs from prominent artists that were finished, then put on a lonely shelf somewhere, never be seen or heard from again. Sometimes these sad little projects make it all the way to the promo stage: Many a hip-hop writer has an advance copy of Q-Tip's never-released funk-soul outing as Kamahl The Abstract. 50 Cent's Trackmasters-produced, pre-Eminem, pre-Dr. Dre debut The Power Of The Dollar will probably never see the light of day, though its single "How To Rob" engendered huge buzz and ill will among rappers who didn't find 50's japes particularly amusing. Cultishly adored Virginia twosome The Clipse, meanwhile, collaborated with old pals and future star-makers The Neptunes on their would-be Elektra debut Exclusive Audio Footage, but when the first single proved a disappointment, the disc was shelved, and The Clipse was released from its contract.
14. Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
Few filmmakers live up to the term "quixotic" more than Terry Gilliam, whose reputation for cursed productions includes the notorious budget-buster The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, failed attempts to bring Watchmen and A Tale Of Two Cities to the screen, and a new film, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, complicated by the death of actor Heath Ledger. He seems like the last person on Earth that financiers would trust with a movie about Don Quixote—a project that also felled the great Orson Welles—but Gilliam got his shot in 1999, when a consortium of European investors bankrolled The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to the tune of $32 million, a figure that still left no margin for error. The horrific problems that plagued the shoot are chronicled in the excellent 2002 documentary Lost In La Mancha: The noise from a nearby NATO aircraft testing ground ruined the soundtrack, a hailstorm destroyed equipment and wiped out an entire desert set; and in a fatal blow, Gilliam's Quixote, Jean Rochefort, had to leave the shoot with a herniated disc. The result was a $15 million insurance claim that lost Gilliam control of the material. But miraculously, co-star Johnny Depp has revived the project once more, thanks to his recent box-office-exploding piracy. Tentative release date: 2011.
15. The Deadwood and Carnivàle movies
Over the past decade, HBO has become the channel of choice for ornately executed TV series with ambitious, complicated story arcs—and also the channel of choice for shows cancelled before they get to finish their arcs. Two particularly frustrating cases: the dust-bowl Depression-era Carnivàle, which ended on a cliffhanger in 2005, two seasons into what creator Daniel Knauf was hoping would be a six-season run, and the profane historical drama Deadwood, which wrapped up in 2006 after three seasons in a frustratingly low-key way that did nothing to release the tensions that creator David Milch spent the whole series ramping up. Knauf and Milch both repeatedly suggested in interviews that HBO might spring for a TV movie or a film series to wrap up loose ends and give viewers some payoff, but so far, that appears to be wishful thinking. Fans haven't been waiting nearly as long for those films as they have for many of the items on this list, but due to the shortness of modern news cycles, the whiplash effect of the news stories—the series have been cancelled, no they haven't, yes they have but they'll be back, there will be movies, no there won't, the series will wrap up the stories, no they won't, the movies are on, no they're off again, they're on but we don't know when, etc. etc. etc.—it seems like we've been listening to the back-and-forth yammer of nothing actually happening for a decade now.
16. Neil Young's Archives
In 1977, Neil Young released the triple-LP set Decade, turning 10 years worth of hits, misses, and collaborations into one consistent narrative, and making the case for himself as one of the premier artists to emerge from the acid-rock era. In the late '80s, after another up-and-down decade of oddball experiments and fluke successes, Young talked about releasing a follow-up anthology, but nothing ever turned up. A decade later, Young started making plans for a career-spanning collection of live performances and rarities called Archives, but blamed the poor audio quality of CDs as one reason for dragging his feet. Finally, in 2006, Young released the first Archives project: a 1969 live concert, confusingly titled Volume 02 (followed by two other live discs: Volume 03, and the soon-to-be-released Volume 00). But Young's biggest Archives-related announcement came in January 2008, when he claimed that in February, he'd release a 10-disc set exclusively on Blu-Ray, containing material recorded between 1963 and 1972. Then the date was pushed to November, with a CD version promised alongside the Blu-Ray. Now Archives is reportedly scheduled for "early '09." Young fans will believe it when they hear it.
17-18. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series and Ripper
We all give Joss Whedon credit for creating some of our favorite TV of the past two decades in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly. At the same time, it's sometimes frustrating how much his creative efforts have been focused on spin-offs and retreads of those shows, instead of on new things. And then again, two of his unproduced plans for Buffy spin-offs sounded like a lot of fun, and it's a shame they never found a home. Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Animated Series was first planned back in 2001, when both Buffy and Angel were still on the air and flying high; it was meant to tell stories from the middle of the first season, back when everyone was still in high school and Cordelia being bitchy was more a concern than Buffy's death-craving, Spike-fucking super-angst. Scripts were written and promo art was created, but the show was never picked up for production, and it died on the vine. Around the same time, Anthony Stewart Head left Buffy in order to move back to England and spend more time with his family; Whedon conceived of a BBC series called Ripper that would let Head continue to play his Buffy character Giles in a new, more adult-oriented setting. Given that Giles was always at his best when he was at his darkest, rather than being used as a comic foil, the series sounded like a terrific idea, but it too came to nothing at the time. The Animated Series remains dead, but as of 2007, Whedon thought Ripper would resurface in 2008, now as in film form. Other projects have sidetracked him for the moment—presumably getting Dollhouse together for Fox is eating up his time—but given how Fox folded, mutilated, and spindled Firefly, chances are good that Dollhouse won't last long and that Whedon will have free time for Ripper again in the near future.
19. The Day The Clown Cried
For lovers of kitsch and bad taste, the 1972 Jerry Lewis Holocaust comedy The Day The Clown Cried represents the Holy Grail, a fabled, oft-whispered-about pop-culture legend that cast director Lewis as a disgraced circus clown who runs afoul of the Third Reich and ends up leading children into the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Alas, litigation rather than taste kept the film from shocking and offending moviegoers the world over. Lewis initially bristled at the prospect of playing the lead role. In his autobiography, Lewis writes of asking producer Nathan Wachsbeger, "Why don't you try to get Sir Laurence Olivier? I mean, he doesn't find it too difficult to choke to death playing Hamlet. My bag is comedy, Mr. Wachsberger, and you're asking me if I'm prepared to deliver helpless kids into a gas chamber? Ho-ho. Some laugh—how do I pull it off?" Legal and financial battles between Lewis, the producers, and the screenwriters led to the film being shelved, perhaps permanently. Lewis is rumored to possess the only existing copy of the film, and he refuses to discuss it publicly, though veteran comedy writer/actor Harry Shearer has seen it and insists it's just as mind-bogglingly offensive and tasteless as its reputation suggests.
20. Song Of The South on DVD
Disney's 1946 musical Song Of The South—its first live-action film, though it incorporates animated segments—has never been available for home purchase, and it got noticeably less play in revival theaters in the pre-home-theater days, when other Disney kids' movies were cycled through on a regular basis. Granted, that's because its central character doesn't particularly fit the wholesome, clean-cut image Disney wants for itself: It's essentially a story about a step-n-fetchin' magical Negro whose folk tales help solve the problems—and eventually save the life—of a white kid in the antebellum South. Granted, it's a little creepy today to contemplate children being exposed to the film's reductive stereotypes—Uncle Remus is servile and embarrassing, while the stuff, high-handed whites in his area act like emancipation never happened—but that's no reason to withhold it from adults, who are capable of seeing it as a historical document, a quaint piece of old-timey kitsch, and a typically stilted Disney live-action movie that just happens to feature some marvelous animation and songs, including the Academy Award-winning "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah," which has frequently been excised and played out of context as part of other Disney releases.
21. The Decline Of Western Civilization series on DVD
Penelope Spheeris has examined the tribal aspects of Los Angeles youth culture in three outstanding documentaries: The Decline Of Western Civilization (about the early-'80s punk scene), The Decline Of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (about the mania for success in the late-'80s Sunset Strip scene), and The Decline Of Western Civilization III (about runaways and squatters). All three were released on VHS, and still appear regularly on cable and on the college cinema and festival circuits. But none are available on DVD, for a complicated combination of reasons related to how the rights should be split. (Strangely enough, the music rights don't appear to be the holdup, just the ownership of the films themselves.) As late as last year, in a Los Angeles Times article about cult movies not yet on DVD, Spheeris claimed that the Decline discs would be coming "soon." One year later, her website still says that she's "currently working on" it. Meanwhile, western civilization continues to decline, undocumented…
22. Holy Terror, Batman! (a.k.a. Holy War, Batman!)
In 2006, comics writer and artist-turned-movie-director Frank Miller announced he was working on a graphic novel called Holy Terror, Batman! The plot: Batman takes on al-Qaeda after the terrorist group sets its sights on Gotham. Intended, in Miller's words, as "propaganda," it sounded like an unusual project for Batman and his parent company DC Comics, which rarely lets its characters participate so directly in real-world events. And in fact, that might be why it has yet to appear. Miller told The New York Times that it "became something that was no longer Batman. It's somewhere past that, and I decided it's going to be part of a new series that I'm starting." Most likely, when the comic-book Osama bin Laden gets a well-deserved punch to the jaw, someone else will be doing the punching.
23. The second Black Star album
Mos Def and Talib Kweli's clumsily titled collaborative 1998 debut Mos Def And Talib Kweli Are Black Star was a ray of hope and optimism in the bleak, Diddy-and-Master-P-dominated hip-hop landscape of the late '90s. It made stars out of Def and Kweli and helped transform Rawkus into an underground hip-hop powerhouse. Talk of a follow-up circulated wildly while Def went on to become a popular, prolific actor and sometimes musician, and Kweli pumped out a string of well-received albums that never matched the prestige or recognition of his work with Def. Def and Kweli continue to collaborate on scattered songs and do shows together, but Black Star's fabled second album doesn't seem likely to be released any time soon.
24. Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk
A highly touted project in Marvel's Ultimate line of comics, the miniseries Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk paired popular, quirky artist Lenil Yu with writer Damon Lindelof, one of the comics-enthused creators of Lost. Premièring in 2005, it turned out two clever, gory issues that pitted Wolverine against the Hulk. Then the third issue saw delay after delay after delay. An end might be in sight, however: Lindelof turned in the script for the final issue in full sight of a Comic-Con audience earlier this year.
25. Neutral Milk Hotel, official demos collection
The official Neutral Milk Hotel website hasn't been updated in years, but the last thing its news section teased sounded tasty: "There are currently plans to release a two-volume set of early Neutral Milk Hotel, featuring music from the early, self-released cassettes, live performances, and unreleased recordings. The band wants to do this as a result of the excessive prices at which bootlegs are currently selling online and elsewhere. No date has been decided upon for release. It could be awhile in the future." Maybe the availability of that material via file-sharing (instead of overpriced eBay bootlegs) caused Jeff Mangum to reconsider. A quick Google search will turn up everything from the band's early cassettes (Beauty, Hype City Soundtrack) to the songs referred to as "Shannon's Monroe House Demos," a collection of spare tracks that a person who lived in the same house as Mangum discovered a few years ago and made available.
26. The Arrested Development movie
Somebody needs to sit Jeffrey Tambor (who plays George and Oscar Bluth) and Michael Cera (who plays his grandson, George Michael Bluth) down together and let them hash this whole Arrested Development movie thing out. Tambor has twice told reporters—most recently this month, and with a large degree of certainty—that the movie is happening, while Cera (who's had the most Hollywood success since the show ended) told Paste magazine that "I don't really see a need for it." (C'mon, George Michael, don't be a ninny.) Will Arnett, meanwhile, told fans (via EW.com) that if they want to see an AD movie, they should bombard Fox with letters. Tambor's information is most current and seems most believable—he told collider.com that he had spoken to show creator Mitch Hurwitz about it, and that it was on. We won't hold our breath, but we'll remain excited.
27. The Confederacy Of Dunces movie
It's a measure of how long the film version of A Confederacy Of Dunces has been delayed that many of the people bandied about as leads are now dead. Harold Ramis was at one point in talks to direct an adaptation starring John Belushi and Richard Pryor. Later, John Candy and then Chris Farley were rumored to be flirting with the lead role of a pretentious, portly curmudgeon/self-styled intellectual. Most recently, Steven Soderbergh and Scott Kramer wrote a screenplay for David Gordon Green to direct with Will Ferrell in the lead role, though that proposed adaptation went nowhere as well.
28. Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League
W.D. Richter's charming neo-pulp adventure-comedy The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was always meant to be the first in a series. That's clear enough just from watching the elaborate mythology spun around Peter Weller's Buckaroo and his Hong Kong Cavaliers. Unfortunately, though it became a major cult success in later years, it didn't do well enough at the box office to spawn a sequel. And that's too bad, because it means Buckaroo Banzai Against The World Crime League, the sequel promised in the movie's closing credits, remains unmade almost 25 years later. Elements of it can be found here and there (in the novelizations, in 2007 comic-book adaptation, and most of all, in 1986's Big Trouble In Little China, written by Richter and originally envisioned as the Buckaroo Banzai sequel. Neither Richter nor screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch have been especially busy of late, so maybe there's still a chance, but more likely, World Crime League will remain one of Hollywood's great lost movies.
29. Lauryn Hill's studio follow-up to The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill's 1998 solo debut was nothing short of a seismic cultural event, a universally revered hip-hop soul masterpiece whose popularity and influence quickly transcended hip-hop. Miseducation went platinum eight times over and won five Grammies. Hill was hailed as an icon in the making. Then things went horribly awry. Hill was sued by her collaborators on Miseducation for wrongfully depriving them of songwriting credits and royalties. In 2001, a clearly troubled Hill released an intermittently brilliant, often self-indulgent MTV Unplugged CD which combined stark new acoustic songs with stream-of-consciousness rambling. Rumors spread that Hill was under the influence of a shadowy spiritual advisor named Brother Anthony. The Fugees made scattered attempts to reunite, but plans for recording a comeback album fell victim to Hill's erratic behavior and diva demands. Hill has apparently been writing new material all along, but it remains to be seen whether any of it will see the light of day, and whether Hill will conquer her demons or be destroyed by them. Though if Chinese Democracy can be released, then truly anything's possible.
30. Duke Nukem Forever The legendary king of vaporware, Duke Nukem Forever has been in the works almost as long as Chinese Democracy was. First announced in 1997, the game has had half a dozen solid release dates (sound familiar?), all of which passed by without incident. The latest was September of this year, but of course that date came and went without a new Nukem game to speak of. But there's hope on the horizon: Screenshots have been released, and at least one journalist has apparently played the game. But don't hold your breath just yet--this one has been the shamed winner of vaporware awards several times.
31. The second coming of Jesus Christ
Oh, sure, it isn't a pop-culture event, it's a religious one. Sure. That's what they said about The Da Vinci Code. Let's put this in perspective: The return of Jesus Christ has been promised more than 20 times longer than a Cubs World Series win. Currently, the "New" Testament is even more of a misnomer than "New" Coke, but a third testament is so overdue at this point, Jesus of Nazareth has to be the only superstar who makes Axl Rose look as prolific as Lil Wayne. Still, His fans are an incredibly patient lot; while Lost devotees bitch about the five-month wait between seasons, JC's followers have been reading the same old parables since before paper was invented. To add insult to injury, the Bible promises no less than five times (Matthew 16:28 and 24:34, Mark 9:1, and Luke 9:27 and 21:32, you pedants) that the Big Guy would be coming back during the lifetime of the people hearing Him speak. Still, it's probably for the best; if He ever does return, the faithful won't be able to hear Him speak over the shouts of "OVERRATED!"