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JUSTICE LEAGUE

AOL Time Warner has issued the following release regarding the previously rumored Justice League animated TV show:

Cartoon Network will enlist the world’s greatest superheroes, bringing them together once more in an all-new half-hour animated series, Justice League, it was announced today by Betty Cohen, president, Cartoon Network Worldwide. The new series is being produced by Warner Bros. Animation under the direction of Emmy Award-winner Bruce Timm.

Cartoon Network has given Justice League an initial order of 26 original half-hour episodes, which will incorporate an all-star roster of popular DC Comics superheroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter. Following the premise and storyline of the DC Comics comic books, members of the Justice League will be called upon to battle against allied villains, supernatural creatures and other powerful forces of evil determined to usurp authority over the world and to destroy the Justice League. Justice League marks the first time in more than 15 years that these characters have come together in a television series since first uniting in Super Friends, which ran from 1973-85 on ABC and later on Cartoon Network.

“We know from our experience of airing Super Friends for years on Cartoon Network here in the U.S. and around the world, that Justice League will have a vast, built-in audience hungry for an exciting new look at these classic characters,” said Cohen. “We’ve built a powerful action-adventure block on Cartoon Network called Toonami that will serve as a showcase for the new series. With Justice League, we’re strategically positioning Cartoon Network to attract an even broader audience of tweens, teens and adults who are drawn to the powerful DC Comics brand and are seeking smart, exciting, action-packed animation at its very best.”

“I can think of no one more appropriate or qualified to bring the JLA superheroes to life than Bruce Timm,” said Jean MacCurdy, president of Warner Bros. Animation. “As he so brilliantly demonstrated with Batman and Superman, he is passionate about creating an entertaining and dynamic series that will thrill the legions of JLA fans everywhere, as well as introduce a whole new generation of fans to these classic characters as they come together in a brand new series.”

“After working on the Superman and Batman series for the last several years, Justice League is a great opportunity to develop those characters a step further and bring more of the iconic DC Comics superheroes to life,” said Timm. “I am looking forward to exploring whole new realms of the superhero world.”

“We’re excited to be working with the great creative team responsible for Batman and Superman,” said Mike Lazzon, senior vice president of programming and production for Cartoon Network. Justice League will be a powerful addition to our Toonami action-adventure franchise.”

Paul Levitz, executive vice president & publisher, DC Comics, commented, Justice League will literally have worlds colliding and the most dynamic action animation ever done, thanks to Bruce Timm and our friends at Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network.”

The Justice League has existed in some form since 1940 when DC Comics’ All-Star Comics introduced the first-ever group of superheroes in a comic book series entitled “Justice Society of America,” which ran until 1951. DC Comics revived the concept in March 1960, renaming it the “Justice League of America.” The JLA superheroes were the stars of the longest-running television cartoon series based on a comic book via Hanna-Barbera Studios’ Super Friends (1973), The All-New Super Friends (1977), Challenge of the Super Friends (1978), The World’s Greatest Super Friends (1979) and The Super Friends Hour (1980) all produced for Saturday mornings on ABC. The Super Friends series began airing on Cartoon Network in June 1996 and moved to its sister network, Boomerang in April 2000, where they continue to air. The monthly “Justice League of America” comic book continues to be one of DC Comic’s best-selling titles, consistently ranking among the top ten in industry sales.

ELTINGVILLE CLUB

[Dork]

Work continues on the pilot episode of Evan Dorkin’s Eltingville Club show for the Cartoon Network. “We’re now actually in production,” Dorkin told Comics2Film. “After our meetings in L.A. a director has been formally approached and we’re in negotiations with this person and hope it all works out.”

Sarah Dyer has been promoted to Executive Producer on the show. “She’s been doing a lot of actual production work on the pilot besides acting as story editor,” Dorkin said. “She’ll also be doing color keys for the character designs once they’re done.”

Dorkin goes on to say, “My character roughs were pretty much all done months ago and I’ll be cleaning those up soon, most likely with Stephen DeStefano’s aid. Right now it’s really all come down to firming up who’s doing what on the pilot, then having them do it.”

Casting has not been completed on the show. The process was interrupted for the holidays but is currently underway once again.

After these steps are completed, the materials will be sent overseas to be animated. Dorkin points out that it’s not certain that pilot will air once it’s complete. After returning from the animators the show, “either gets on the air or sits on a shelf somewhere. In the meantime I’m just hoping for the best, doing my job, and using my spare time to get some comics done.”

TALES OF THE ZOMBIE

[Tales of the Zombie]

Late last November we learned that Marvel was moving quickly on a filmed adaptation of Tales of the Zombie. A screenplay had been written by newcomers Chum Langhorn and Brent Askari and Halloween of 2001 was targeted as a release date.

Comics2Film spoke to Kevin Feige of Marvel Entertainment last week about the probability of making that aggressive timeline. “That may have been a little wishful thinking,” Feige told C2F. Feige also said that they are now seeking new writers to do a polish on Langhorn and Askari’s script.

In the mean time, Comics2Film has heard from an anonymous source who is familiar with the project. When Marvel sealed its deal with Artisan last summer, the deal was said to encompass fifteen properties. At the time only fourteen were named. Our source is fairly confident that Zombie is the fabled 15th Artisan project.

Our source has also read an early draft of Langhorn and Askari’s script. Although many of the plot details were changed in subsequent drafts, we think this provides and interesting peek at the direction of this movie. Here’s the report from anonymous:

“The script’s based on the old Marvel Comics Tales of The Zombie which came out in the seventies (I think there was only nine issues or so…wasn’t too popular.) The script is very action-oriented with a bunch of scares and, reads like a hybrid of Blade, Robocop, and The Crow.

“Anyhow, the movie strays from the comic in several ways. The title character is still Simon Garth. Simon’s secretary Layla (who was also a secretly a voodoo priestess) is now the leader of a Haitian underground army dedicated to fighting zombies. Gyps, Simon’s gardener, is now a guy who works for the main villain, a baddie named Jacques Vernon who runs a funeral home empire and is generally a very nasty dude.

“The main way the movie’s different from the comic is that in the comic, Garth is always under control of whoever holds the sacred amulet of Damballah…but in this script, Garth breaks free, Robocop style, and goes to kick ass and seek revenge, like some zombie Charles Bronson. The zombies in the script are different from the typical Night of the Living Dead zombies who walk slowly and moan a lot…these ones have special powers, can move very fast, regenerate wounds, and rot things that they touch. They’re a new type of zombie, really…and I thought it worked.

“Generally speaking, I thought it was really cool. There’s a lot of intense, innovative action scenes and some good scares, including some that are pretty grotesque. The first scene alone is pretty awesome, involving a zombie prostitute who wreaks some holy havoc on a john. There’s a lot of Hollywoody Simon-with-his-family crap that I wasn’t that into, but I guess you gotta put it in. So be it.

“Anyhow, I’d definitely dig seeing this flick.”

HUMAN TARGET

Screenwriter Frank Cappello has been chatting on the DC Comics message boards. Last week we reported the writer’s comments about his script for the Constantine movie (based on Hellblazer). Now Cappello has revealed that he’s working on a screenplay for another DC Comics character: Human Target.

Cappello told fans, “Lately I’ve been given the opportunity to reinvent DC’s The Human Target, which I just found out was a TV series back 1991 with Rick Springfield. I’m glad I didn’t know that when I started hashing this out or would have run the other way! But what they’re letting me do on it is pretty dang cool. Updating the technology and focusing on a character that is truly flawed and ripe with dramatic potential. But of course they still request the ‘most incredible action scene of all time’ to end the flick. That one has me stumped for the time being.”

GHOST RIDER

Kevin Feige of Marvel Entertainment told Comics2Film that work is proceeding quickly on the Ghost Rider movie. “[Writer/producer David] Goyer and [director/producer Stephen] Norrington are still banging out the script. We hope towards the end of the month to have it and then to go out to cast,” Feige said.

POWER AND GLORY

A source at Touchstone has informed Comics2Film that the movie version of Howard Chaykin’s Power and Glory has been placed in turnaround by Touchstone. The project ran into trouble last year when the studio decided it was too similar to the then-in-development Unbreakable from M. Night Shyamalan.

WITCHBLADE

Comics2Film’s neighbor to the north, Kartall, writes in with some information on the Witchblade limited TV series. The following information comes from the Ontario Film Development Corporation’s media list for productions shooting in Ontario (dated January 19th, 2001):

  • Project Name: WITCHBLADE
  • Type of Production: TV Series
  • Production Company: BLADE TV PRODUCTIONS
  • Shooting Dates: Feb.20-June 25, 2001
  • Producer: Vikki Williams
  • Exec. Producer: Ralph Hemecker
  • Director: Various
  • Key Cast: TBA

Thanks Katrall!

THE HULK

Fans have been buzzing with excitement since word broke that Ang Lee is attached to direct the big screen version of The Hulk. Comics2Film spoke with Kevin Feige at Marvel to see where Lee stands with the film. “I don’t know if his deal is closed but he’s on board,” Feige told C2F.

Feige also told us that Lee has already begun working on the project. “We’re doing meetings and we’re starting to get his input into the way he wants the movie to go,” Feige said.

Eric Moro of EON Magazine at Mothership.com caught up with Lee as he collected his Golden Globe award for directing Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon this weekend.

Lee talked about his plans for the green skinned goliath. “I’m developing [The Hulk] and we’re hoping for a 2003 release,” Lee told. “But, it’s just in the beginning stages. We’ve got to do so much research and prepare work and just see what’s happening.”

Although the director was reportedly attracted to the project by David Hayter’s strong script, it appears Lee may have plans of his own for the character. “I’m just beginning on the script and [will] probably be changing it entirely,” Lee said. “I don’t know. I would like to have a new approach to the material. I like to bring drama and character study into a pop-entertaining genre.”

Lee also commented that he’s familiar with the comic, but not a fanatic.

SPAWN 2

Columbia Pictures has acquired the feature film rights to Todd McFarlane’s Spawn according to The Hollywood Reporter. The rights were acquired for Don Murphy’s Angry Films. Murphy is the producer on numerous comic book movie adaptations including Iron Man, Astroboy and the upcoming From Hell.

Spawn is said to be on the “fast track” at Columbia. McFarlane is writing the screenplay with comic and screen writer Steve Niles. Niles writes the Spawn: The Dark Ages comic book and is also writing The Terror TV show for UPN.

McFarlane and Terry Fitzgerald will also serve as producers. Executive VP Matt Tolmach will oversee the project for Columbia.

New Line Cinema made the original Spawn movie, but allowed their option on the sequel to lapse late last year. McFarlane has long said that he hopes to make the next movie darker and more atmospheric then the super-hero oriented original.

Early this week McFarlane spoke with the Toronto Sun in an article reprinted on the JAM! Showbiz website. McFarlane talked about the newly announced deal.

“When New Line’s rights lapsed, it took us like 72 hours to sell it to another studio,” McFarlane told the Sun. “We’re supposed to deliver a treatment in a month.” McFarlane also said the he and co-writer Steve Niles hope to start on the script shortly thereafter and possibly have the cameras rolling by the end of the year.

The new movie will be R-rated, have fewer special effects and have an all-new cast. “To me the real Spawn movie will be the sequel, the one I’ve been living with in terms of mood and attitude. This’ll be one of those sequels that will have nothing in common from the first to the second other than the name and the character.”

SPIDER-MAN

[Spidey in the ring!]

Comics2Film received a pair of e-mails last week from Jason, a fan who served as a spectator on the recent filming of the Spider-Man movie. The first thing that Jason wanted to clear up were the rumors of Macho Man Randy Savage would have an expanded role in a Spidey sequel. Although comments were made by director Sam Raimi during the shooting, those comments were only in jest.

“That was just a joke that [director Sam Raimi] said…because at the beginning of shooting, he thought Randy was overacting a little, so he said something like ‘Don’t over-do it Randy, the name of this film is Spider-Man not Macho-Man. The audience all jeered jokingly at Raimi, and then he jokingly said, ‘However in the sequel…’ to which Randy and the audience cheered. I don’t think he was serious though”

Jason went on to give us this run down of the filming:

“Things actually started about 9:30ish after everyone got to their seats. I’m not a good judge of amounts of people but I’d say there were at least 1,000 at this taping. The studio was basically set up as a wrestling arena with a ring in the middle and bleachers on each side, and a steel cage that would come down from the ceiling.

“They started shooting the scenes where Peter Parker arrives at the match first and then started shooting some wrestling scenes between Bone Saw (Savage) and some unknown contestant. There were lots of ‘Bone Saw’ signs everywhere.

“Bruce Campbell was there playing what looked like the wrestling arena owner, announcing stuff like the winner and who was the next ‘victim’ as he called the contestants facing Bone Saw.

“One of the wrestlers names was ‘The Flying Dutchman’. When it was Peter Parker’s turn, they had him behind a screen silhouetted screen at the top of the ramp that led down to the ring, and Campbell announces something like ‘the horrifying, the terrifying, the amazing Spider-Man’ to which the crowd jeers because they all love Bone Saw.

“The screen lifts and you see Spider-Man in what looks like pajamas: a red long sleeved t-shirt with a Spider-Man emblem on the front and back, blue sweat pants with red stripes down the side, red shoes, and a red hooded mask with the eyes cut out.

“He makes his way to the stage at which point when he enters, the crowd was to start chanting ‘cage’ and then the cage is brought down from the ceiling, which Spider-Man obviously knew nothing about and looks like he’s in for more than he thought he’d be in for.

“The didn’t really film too much of the fight the first day. By the end they had the Spidey double in filming some jumps and leaps over Bone Saw which looked really cool. There will be scenes of him using his web slingers in the cage and climbing up the cage.

“A lot of time was spent mainly preparing camera angles around the ring and cage, sometimes taking panels and ropes off. They were almost finished building another set next to it, this one was the side off a historic-looking building with a terrace. They were making it so that part of the terrace was going to fall off from the building.

“They also mentioned that they would be filming an outdoor ‘New York Times Square’ scene in mid-march, that was going to be ‘crazy’ with fairs and lots of more people. Hopefully I can be a part of that as well.”

Be sure to fill us in if you are!

The Popcorn.co.uk website provided additional coverage of the filming. Popcorn managed to one-up the firsthand accounts of the wrestling match between Parker and Bone Saw that many websites ran. That website was also able to publish four photos of the event taken by one of the spectators.

The photos give fans a pretty good look at the amateurish first costume that Peter Parker makes for himself to disguise his identity. Fans also get a peek at Macho Man Randy Savage (in character as Bone Saw McGraw) and the steel cage in which Spidey takes on the wrestler.

DAN DARE

Comics2Film has now heard from two independent sources that actor Charles Dance (The Last Action Hero, Michael Collins) is not among the cast of the new Dan Dare animated TV show as previously reported. However one source did allow that Dance and other name actors could possibly join the cast at a later date.

SMALLVILLE

An announcement in Monday’s Hollywood Reporter indicates that the lead role in the Smallville TV show has been cast. An unknown actor by the name of Tom Welling will play the 15 year old Clark Kent in the show.

The article indicates that networks are trying to step up production on shows in an effort to outrun the anticipated actor and writer strikes.

TRANSMETROPOLITAN

[Transmetropolitan #35]

Fans who have been hoping for word on the adaptation of Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan may be encouraged by the following posting on the writer’s website (WarrenEllis.com). 

Ellis tells his fans, “There are, once again, plans afoot to develop TRANSMET for other media in ways that would not see it reduced to a PG or prime-time dilution, and an agreement to collaboration has been signed with a famous and well-respected actor. But I’ve been asked to say nothing more at this time. Watch this space.”

Ellis had been developing a screenplay for Transmetropolitan a few years back, but little has been heard about an progress on a movie. The above post is vague in that it refers to “other media” which could mean film, TV or any other media which might use an actor.

Thanks to Corona Coming Attractionsfor the lead.

THE COFFIN

Variety reports that James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment has optioned the screen rights to Phil Hester and Mike Huddleston’s comic book The Coffin. The deal is said to be worth six figures.

Lightstorm is also said to be pursuing Guillermo del Toro for the directing chores. Del Toro has been attached to many comic book movie projects including Blade 2, Hellboy and Domu.

Variety provides this description for the concept: “The story follows a scientist who creates a polymer suit that holds the soul after the body dies. When he’s about to die, the scientist dons the suit, becoming a sort of Frankenstein monster, and seeks a reconciliation with his estranged young daughter.”

SUPERMAN

Dark Horizons reports that a re-release of Superman: The Movie will screen in San Antonio, TX on the weekend of March 23rd. If the test screening proves successful, Warner Bros. will issue a wide release of the film as they did with last year’s The Exorcist.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Does the Men In Black sequel have a release date? An anonymous scooper for Corona Coming Attractions says the movie is targeted for July 3, 2002. The scooper claims to be a movie theater worker and the date comes from “a newsletter.”

STATIC SHOCK

Warner Bros. Has opened a new website promoting the successful comic book cartoon Static Shock!  The animated site features character bios, video clips, online games, trading cards and more.

MONKEYBONE

[Monkeybone]

In spite of our best efforts to anticipate where the Monkeybone website would reside on the internet, 20th Century Fox has rolled out a site at a heretofore unsuspected address. The site doesn’t promote the movie directly, so it’s possible that in the future there might be a more traditional site found at one of the 10 other domain names the company has registered for the film. Here’s Fox’s press release about the new Bite My Monkey website.

The title character from Twentieth Century Fox’s new motion picture Monkeybone — a petulant rascal with a penchant for wisecracks and racy antics — now has his own Web site, bitemymonkey.com, where the animated mischief-maker hurls countless insults (not to mention a steady stream of “poo”), creates outrageous pranks and wreaks assorted other forms of comic havoc. Among the site’s features are:

  • The RIG (Random Insult Generator), in which Monkeybone helps create dozens of custom-made insults to the beat of four different musical styles (rap, country, jazz and techno). These can be sent to friends and foe alike.
  • Postcards that can be customized to a variety of insults (“Let someone know what a loser they are,” is just one of the cheery categories that Monkeybone has fashioned).
  • The game “Flingin’ Poo at Kids in the Zoo” … which is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Prank School, where Monkeybone gives valuable instruction in the latest “monkeyshines,” ideal for use against roommates, siblings and other annoying people who cross our paths.
  • Three original, animated short films starring you-know-who.

In short, Monkeybone does all the things we’ve always wanted to do. Twentieth Century Fox releases Monkeybone, a state-of-the-art combination of live action, stop motion and CGI animation from Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, on Feb. 23. Twentieth Century Fox is a unit of Fox Filmed Entertainment, a unit of Fox Entertainment Group.

BLADE 2

Michael Fleming of Variety confirms that Tcheky Karyo has signed to appear as a villain in Blade 2: Bloodhunt.

THE TICK

[Patrick Warburton as The Tick]

TV viewers with discriminating taste caught an airing of a TV promo for The Tick last night. The promo aired during Fox’s controversial Temptation Island show. The commercial only revealed that the show would be “coming soon.”

Comics2Film spoke with The Tick producer Flody Suarez a little over a week ago. At that time he said he still expected to the show to begin in March. However, Fox had not yet assigned the show a start date or a time-slot.

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