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SPIDER-MAN

[Kirsten Dunst]
Kirsten Dunst

Sources at Sony Pictures have informed Comics2Film that Kirsten Dunst has officially been cast as Mary Jane Watson in the Spider-Man movie. The actress beat out a list of rumored contenders that included Mena Suvari and Alicia Witt.

The actress has recently been featured in such films as Dick, Bring It On and the aptly named Drop Dead Georgeous. Dunst will be seen in next year’s direct-to-video comic book movie The Crow: Salvation.

In other casting buzz, a source close to the production of the movie has told Comics2Film that Cliff Robertson will be playing Uncle Ben. Our source tells us that Sony is preparing an announcement of the casting which should be distributed soon.

Some fans love comic book movies like Spider-Man. Other’s waking up at night shrieking in blood-curdling terror over Hollywood’s plans to mangle their favorite character.

Now loyal C2F’s pal Michael Mason has tapped into his fanboy anxiety and recorded The Spider-Fan’s Lament. Mason is a talented stand-up comic and a musician as well, the kind of musician that has Weird Al hearing footsteps.

Squedge’s song The Spider-Fan’s Lament can be heard at his MP3 site. If you’re concerned about the important issues, like organic webspinners, Mena Suvari or whether or not John Malkovich is a snob, or even if you just need a good laugh, give The Spider-Fan’s Lament a listen.

ASTRO ACES

[Astro Aces]

Comic creator and animator Shannon Denton stopped by to give us some exciting news about his Astro Aces animation concept. The project, one of many under Denton’s Meteor City Productions banner, is moving through the early stages of development and has attracted some big-name talent as well.

“Things are proceeding great on the development end for the Astro Aces animated series for Fox Kids,” Denton told Comics2Film. “Our story editor, the extremely talented Marsha Griffin has turned in an awesome first draft for episode one. Marsha previously acted as story editor on Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers animated series as well as the Men in Black animated series so we’re extremely lucky to have such a super talent on the project.”

Several noteworthy comic creators are set to do design work for the show. “Bernie Wrightson, Keith Giffen, and Ladronn are just a few of the many artists who’ve committed to contributing to the show,” Denton said. “I’m so excited because some of these people were heroes of mine growing up.”

Denton hopes each artist will leave his distinctive mark on the series. “I’ve been working real hard to make sure that each artist’s strength will be showcased on the particular episodes they will be contributing to. This way, a show about an intergalactic school for junior superheroes learning to use their powers can go from one end of the galaxy to another and constantly feel new and different.”

The show will be done in computer-rendered 3D animation. “My wife, Kristen Denton, is a talented character modeler and an actor for the amazing Emmy award winning Foundation Imaging and she’s been doing some incredible 3D tests to make sure this show has a look like no other.”  Denton’s designs for the core characters will help the show maintain a consistent feel. The 3D animation and sci-fi settings will allow the other creators to blend their own styles in a cohesive manner.

Denton told us that with Griffin, Foundation Imaging and a host of top-shelf comic creators on board, “we are confident that getting a green light from Fox Kids will be a no-brainer.”

JEREMIAH

A few weeks back Lions Gate Television announced its upcoming development slate which included a pilot based on Hermann’s long-running comic book Jeremiah. The pilot is to be directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers), written by J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Rising Stars) and produced by Scott Rosenberg and Ervin Rustemagic of Platinum Studios with Gregory Noveck  of Platinum co-producing.

Lions Gate provided this description for the show: “The series is set in the near future when a society of children attempts to rebuild the world after a catastrophic virus annihilates everyone over the age of 12.”

However, after reading that description, fans of the comic were concerned. This didn’t sound much like the Jeremiah they knew. Comics2Film spoke with Rosenberg about the development of the pilot and what necessitated the changes in the storyline. 

“We’ve discussed the kind of changes that would be necessary to make it work for Showtime,” Rosenberg told C2F. “[Hermann] is very pleased with the changes.

“What happened in the comic is that the catastrophe was different, which stemmed out of things that date back like 20 years ago,” Rosenberg explained. “There was some racial wars and other such things. They just don’t work for modern 00 audiences. So we basically needed to change the catastrophe that happened.”

The virus that wiped out people over 12 won’t prevent survivors from aging beyond that age. It just means that the current population of the world is younger. Jeremiah will be approximately the same age as his late-teens/early-20’s comic book self. “All the characters are the same age as Jeremiah and his friend Kurdy,” Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg points out that the new catastrophe provides a rich playground for developing the ongoing series, should there be one. “What’s great for storylines: different cities are going to evolve differently. The most technology that anyone would know would be whatever the smarter 12-year-olds know, which might be more than you or I.”

Straczynski is currently writing the two-hour pilot. The producers are currently waiting the get a target air date from Showtime. That date will likely be Fall of 2001 or Fall of 2002.

Hermann is Belgian comic book and graphic art sensation Hermann Huppen. Hermann started his career in 1965 as co-creator of the popular adventure series Bernard Prince and the western Comanche. In 1977 Hermann set out on his own and created his greatest success, the post-apocalyptic epic Jeremiah. Each annual volume of Jeremiah has been translated into many languages and sold tens of millions of copies worldwide, winning such fans as George Miller (Mad Max, Babe) and filmmaker Roman Polanski. Hermann’s other work includes the medieval adventure series Towers of Bois-Maury and the critically acclaimed 1995 bestseller Sarajevo Tango.

Thanks to Skywalker for asking the important questions.

ELTINGVILLE CLUB

Evan Dorkin told Comics2Film that work is proceeding slowly but surely on the animated pilot for the Eltingville Club show. Stephan DeStefano’s recently completed storyboards have been approved by the suits at the Cartoon Network. “Legal has to go thru it to make sure we didn’t use images that weren’t cleared, or besmirched Archie comics or anyone, etc, but from what I’m told the board is ‘the board,'” Dorkin told C2F.

Voice casting is underway, but so far has only yielded candidates for supporting characters. Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, who serves as the show’s Story Editor, will be going out to L.A. soon to interview directors.

“In the meantime we’re working on comics,” Dorkin informed us.

TUTENSTEIN AND JETCAT

Jay Stephens touched base with Comics2Film recently to give us a quick update on two of his comic-based animation projects.

First up is Stephens’ Tutenstein. “Discovery Kids is now aiming for an October 2001 airdate for the Tutenstein pilot,” Stephens said. The show “will now serve as a stand alone Hallowe’en special.”

It’s bad news/good news for Jetcat. It turns out Nickelodeon will not be airing any Jetcat shorts as we reported a few weeks ago. Stephens did say that the fact that Nick has passed on the show, “opens up some new possibilities for a full-length show elsewhere…stay tuned!”

MUTANT X

Hollywood loves to tamper with comic books before putting them on the screen, and fans hate it. When Mutant X hits the small screen next year it will look like the ultimate in concept tampering. Marvel/Tribune’s Mutant X TV show will look and feel nothing like the Mutant X comic. Why? Well, according to a recent article by Michael Doran appearing on Fandom Comics Newsarama, the show isn’t really based on the comic book at all. They only thing the two projects have in common is the title.

Doran spoke with Rick Ungar, Executive Producer of the show and Prexy at Marvel Character Group, along with Avi Arad about the show.

Ungar revealed that they decided on the title without recalling that there had been a comic book with that same name. However, Ungar told Doran, “It was helpful that we already owned the title, needless to say, but that’s kind of where any similarities end. This show really has no relationship to the X-Men, or anything that’s existed in the Marvel Universe before.”

Ungar described the show as being about a society where the government has secretly developed ways to genetically engineer certain traits in people. People with the right connections can have their children genetically perfected at birth, making them athletically superior or more intelligent or whatever the parent wants. 

Things look great for these kids until they hit a certain age. Then the genetic coding goes wrong causing the engineered humans to mutate. Intelligence turns to super-intelligence. These mutants become proof of the secret government program, and therefore have to be eliminated. This is the dramatic premise of the show.

“We really did not want to go back and try and do the X-Men again,” Ungar told Doran. “The X-Men have been done really well, and hopefully they’ll continue to be done really well. I really wanted to come up with a new series idea that had a Marvel ‘feel’ to it for a first run syndicated hour, because I really like that genre. But I really didn’t want it to be an existing Marvel character.” 

Keeping the Mutant X concept separate from existing Marvel mutants also avoids any conflict that could arise with 20th Century Fox and the X-Men movie franchise

(Thanks to Il Diabolo and Cinescape for the lead.)

In related news, Sci Fi Wire reports that the show has been signed by stations representing 60 percent of the market. Citing Variety as its source, Sci Fi also reports that Tribune’s own 22 major-market TV stations are part of that number.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE

Empire Online recently spoke with Darren Aronofsky who is promoting his recent movie Requiem for a Dream. Once again, Aronofsky was asked about Batman instead.

While the next movie is called Batman: Year One, it may not be a literal adaptation of the comic series of the same name. “It’s somewhat based on that,” Aronofsky told Empire. “Frank Miller is writing the screenplay with me. But it’s gonna be very different than anything in Year One and anything you’ve seen. Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman. We’re starting completely anew.”

Aronofsky reports that he and Miller should begin work on the script after his press tour for Requiem wraps up and he returns to America.

“I’m going to do a very extensive reading of the literature, but it’s going to be very, very different,” Aronofsky said about his take on the Dark Knight. “I liked Tim Burton’s thing. I think all of the films will stand on their own. All I can say is that I want to do something which totally reinvents the franchise.”

Aronofsky also admits that his deal hinges on him and Miller delivering a script that the studio loves. Finally Aronofsky told Empire that he’d love to have a go at Watchmen one day.

MORE BATMAN BEYOND

The much troubled animated feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker hits video shelves this week. Eric Moro of EON Magazine interviewed Batman Beyond creator Paul Dini about the movie and it’s genesis.

Dini also in the early stages of working on another Batman Beyond animated movie. “I’m in the middle of writing up an outline for another Batman Beyond that we are going to look at,” Dini told Moro. “I don’t know if we are going to put it into production, but I know [Warner Bros.] Home Video is really interested in at least looking at the story and a screenplay for another one. As far as release date, there’s nothing set. But you never say never.”

MEN IN BLACK 2

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are rich! Well, we already knew that, but Inside.com reports that the two stars, along with other top talent on the Men In Black sequel, will participate in an unprecedented profit sharing deal on the film. Smith, Jones and Co. are reportedly set to receive over 50% of the box office on MIB2 according to the report. Sony struck the deal with the talent behind the movie in hopes of getting the movie into production ahead of the impending strikes.

According the report Smith will collect 20 percent, Jones 12.5 percent, director Barry Sonnenfeld 10 percent, producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald 5 percent, and Steven Spielberg 7.5 percent. The players collect their percentages on all grosses up through the first $200 million.

Smith reportedly felt under appreciated for his efforts on the first movie. He collected a measly $5 million on that one. Neither Smith nor Sonnenfeld had a profit sharing deal on the original.

THE TICK

[The Tick]

The Tick TV show has a new executive producer according to Variety. David Sacks, who was a writer and co-executive producer on Murphy Brown during the 95-96 season, has joined the show as part of a larger pact with Columbia TriStar Television.

Tom Mazza, CTTV president of network production said that Sacks “has the perfect sensibility for our midseason series The Tick, and we’re particularly happy to have him join Barry Sonnenfeld, Barry Josephson and Larry Charles as an executive producer.”

Sack’s deal with CTTV is a multiyear, seven-figure development and production package. Filming on the first eight episodes of the show is currently underway. The show is targeted for a March, 2001 airing.

SABRINA SPIN-OFF

In their Hollywood Exclusive column Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith report that the spin-off of the Sabrina, The Teenage Witch TV show is set to film next week. The spin-off is reported called Witchright Hall. Beck & Smith write, “The action focuses on Sabrina’s bad-to-the-bone cousin, with students who enjoy such magic mischief as zapping money out of ATMs and zipping into the Pentagon’s computers.”

MONKEYBONE

Fans may want to keep their eyes peeled for the Monkeybone trailer, which may be in theaters soon according to Upcomingmovies.com. That site has been tipped by anonymous sources that the trailer may be run with the upcoming Tom Hank’s flick Cast Away. That movie opens December 22nd.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

Upcomingmovies.com reports that filming on Josie and the Pussycats was completed last month.

STATIC SHOCK!

Static Shock! will return to the Kids WB! next season according to a recent article in Variety. The net has ordered an addition 13 episodes of the Miletstone character’s show for fall 2001.

“We are excited that kids have responded as strongly to Static, a new kind of teen superhero with real humor and heart, as we expected they would,” Kids’ WB! senior VP Donna Friedman is quoted as saying.

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