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JLA ANIMATED

The web has been buzzing with talk of a JLA animated show since last August when the 4 Color Review website broke the story. Comics2Film’s source in the know has confirmed that the show is in development at Warner Animation, the show is Bruce Timm’s baby and it is in development for the Cartoon Network.

C2F’s inside source has also provide fans with the first look at the roster for the animated super team. According to sources in the know the team roster will be the “magnificent seven” team, with some tweaking here and there. These are the characters and a description of what roles they’ll play in the new show:

  • Superman: Portrayed as a natural leader. He’s a bit of a boy scout, but without being cheesy about it.
  • Batman: The show will play up the Dark Knight’s detective skills as opposed to the brooding, somber creature-of-the night take that’s been used in the other animated shows.
  • Wonder Woman: The Amazon princess angle will be emphasized. Wonder Woman is new to man’s world. She sometimes displays a condescending attitude towards others.
  • The Flash: The Flash is Wally West under the mask. The character is more a mix of West and Bart Allen/Impulse. The Flash is seen as a fun-loving, impulsive guy.
  • Green Lantern: This Green Lantern is John Stewart. He’s been hand-picked by the Guardians to be the Green Lantern for this sector. Stewart has spent a number of years in space and only recently returned to Earth. He sees himself as a very experienced cop and tends to look down on the rest of the JLA as amateurs. He has little understanding or tolerance for earthly prejudices and petty injustices.
  • Martian Manhunter: The last survivor of an underground Martian race. Martian Manhunter is the only one who lives in the JLA watchtower full time.
  • Hawkgirl: A member of the Thanagarian police. Hawkgirl is transported to Earth by a mysterious beam (we’re told it’s not called a zeta-beam in the show, but it’s basically the same concept). She has deductive skills that even Batman is impressed by, but also has that warrior woman side to her.

The aforementioned JLA Watchtower is a satellite that is in geo-synchronous orbit with the Earth. Aquaman will be included in one of the early stories, but not as a regular member of the team. The Manhunters will also make an appearance early on.

Our source was unsure about the villains of the piece. Despero and Vandal Savage may show up in the series.

POWERS

[Powers]

Work on the Powers movie is proceeding rapidly according the David Engel, Director of Development at Mace Neufeld productions. Comics2Film spoke with Engel about the big screen version of Brian Michael Bendis’ and Michael Avon Oeming’s hit comic book.

Engel told us that Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard have just been hired to write the screenplay for the movie. Miro and Bernard are “highly sought after writers who had a great feel for the material and wanted to keep the spirit of the source material intact,” Engel said. The pair previously worked on a script called Motor City.

Bendis is enthusiastic about the signing of the writing team. “I’m pretty excited. I read Motor City and I love that script. I’m not just saying that. There was other writers and I was like ‘ehh’ — but these guys I like. Like them a lot!”

At this point neither Bendis nor Oeming have talked to the writers. “I know that I will though. I hear they’re really big fans of the comic I’m sure that me and Mike will be talking to them,” Bendis said. “But this [the signing] just happened. I’d be more than happy to talk to these guys. I’m a real big fan of theirs and I’m a huge snob as you know.”

Engel informed us that current plans are to adapt the Retro Girl story arc from the first issues of the comic. “We’re going to try to follow the story as close as we can,” the producer told C2F. 

“Brian created a tremendous concept,” Engel said. “It’s a very high-priority project on the lot at Sony and here at Mace Neufeld Productions. [Sony sees] it as the next Men In Black.”

The movie is on the fast-track at the studio. Current plans are to have Powers in production around Fall of 2001.

In related news, Bendis tells us that an charity auction is currently underway on the Jinxworld message boards. Comic related goods have been donated by the likes of Greg Rucka, Jim Mahfood, Scott Morse, Guy Davis, Jim Valentino, Oni Press and more. “Readers are donating their stuff and all the money is going to the charity foundation.”

The foundation is The Ari Berman Charity Project, a charity established by Bendis and his wife Alisa. The charity is named for Alisa’s brother who passed away last year when he was 19 years old. Much of the money donated goes to a non profit organization called Doctors Without Borders.

The auction runs through the end of the day Thursday. For more information about The Ari Berman Charity Project and to participate in the auction check out the Jinxworld message boards.

KABUKI

[Kabuki]

Over the weekend, Brian Michael Bendis announced to fans on his message board that comic creator David Mack had some good news to share in regards to the animated Kabuki movie that’s in development at Fox.

Over at his own message boards Mack did come forth with an announcement. 

“What Bendis is referring to on his board, is that: Fox had previously bought an eighteen month option from me. That means that for that period of time, they have the exclusive right to develop Kabuki into a film. And we have been doing just that for the last year and a half,” Mack explained.

“The news is that the option time period just expired, and they have renewed the option by buying another 12 months of exclusive rights to develop the film,” Mack told fans. “This is good news because options don’t often get renewed. Often, if things aren’t completed in the first option period, the studio drops the project. Bendis was telling me this is great because I’m the only person he knows whose option got picked up.”

Mack continues to be enthusiastic about the movie. “So far it has been a great experience working on the film project. I’ve learned a lot writing for a new medium and working with other talented professionals whose work I admire and am learning from.”

Back on the Bendis boards, a poster there reported talking to one of C2F’s favorite writer/directors: John Sayles (Limbo, Lone Star). Sayles reportedly told the poster that he was working on the Kabuki screenplay.

Mack responded to that post by saying, “Due to confidentiality clauses I’m not sure I could comment on his involvement or the Kabuki film stuff that has happened so far. But I’m fascinated that he mentioned it to you.”

GEN13

In an interview with Mothership, director Courtney Solomon (Dungeons and Dragons) revealed some strange twists for the live-action Gen13 movie, to which he is attached as producer. Solomon revealed that the project is in the hands of Disney President Nina Jacobsen and the movie is one of her personal favorites. Disney hopes to put the movie into pre-production early next year.

However, the studio has made some changes to the concept. While the original concept had sexy Gen-Xers in the role of superhero, the big-screen team will apparently be younger. According to Mothership Disney is renaming the movie Seventh Graders and has reworked the concept ” to fit the squeaky clean image of Disney Studios.”

“For me personally, I think [Disney] should have stayed more with the comic book,” Solomon told Eric Moro of Mothership. “They’ve moved it slightly away from the comic book. What I loved about that in the first place was that it was sexy. It was good and I loved the first six issues — the setting up of the whole thing. That was all great. The premise was great and you could go anywhere with the story.”

SPIDER-MAN

Two of the actresses who have been recently rumored to be up for the part of Mary Jane in the Spider-Man movie may have scheduling conflicts that would prevent them from taking the role.

Variety reports that model turned actress James King (Pearl Harbor) is set to appear in Lone Star State of Mind with Dawson’s Creek star Joshua Jackson. The movie, directed by Dave Semel and written by Trevor Munson, is set to start filming at the end of January, the same month that Spider-Man is to lens.

Spider-Man Hype points out that Mena Suvari (American Beauty) may also have a conflict. The sequel to American Pie is also set to film in January. Although it hasn’t been confirmed, Suvari is presumably going to appear in that movie.

In other casting news, Sony has made an official announcement confirming the casting of actor James Franco in the Spider-Man movie. Here is last week’s announcement for your reading enjoyment:

“James Franco is in final negotiations to join the cast of Columbia Pictures’ live-action feature film Spider-Man, the studio announced today. He will play Harry Osborn, the high school pal and college roommate of Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire).

“Franco is currently filming a co-starring role opposite Robert De Niro in Franchise Pictures’ City By the Sea for director Michael Caton-Jones. He recently completed shooting the title role in TNT’s James Dean, directed by Mark Rydell, and the Martin Scorsese-produced independent film Deuces Wild, starring with Stephen Dorff, Fairuza Balk, Brad Renfro and Matt Dillon. He was last seen starring on the big screen in Columbia Pictures/Phoenix Pictures’ Whatever It Takes.

“Last season, Franco starred in NBC’s critically acclaimed series Freaks and Geeks. In 1998, Franco co-starred opposite Drew Barrymore in the 20th Century Fox hit Never Been Kissed.

“Spider-Man is helmed by Sam Raimi (The Gift, A Simple Plan), a self-confessed fanatic of the web-slinging superhero. Laura Ziskin (As Good As it Gets) and Oscar nominee Ian Bryce (Saving Private Ryan) produce. Avi Arad (X-Men) serves as executive producer.

“The film centers on student Peter Parker who, after being bitten by a mutant spider, gains superhuman strength and the spider-like ability to cling to any surface. He vows to dedicate his life to fighting crime. Harry Osborn, Peter’s friend, is haunted by the relentless desire to live up to his father Norman’s (Willem Dafoe) expectations. Unbeknownst to both Harry and Peter, Norman is the Green Goblin, Spider-Man’s arch-enemy.

“The screenplay for Spider-Man was written by David Koepp (Stir of Echoes). The creative team includes Oscar-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (Cast Away), production designer Neil Spisak (The Gift) and costume designer James Acheson, who has won Academy Awards for Restoration, Dangerous Liaisons and The Last Emperor.

“The film is slated to begin shooting in Los Angeles in January. The production will then move to New York. Spider-Man is being readied for a May 3, 2002 release.”

Sony followed that report up with another release making the signing of Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin officially official. Here’s the release:

“Willem Dafoe has joined the cast of Columbia Pictures’ live-action feature film Spider-Man as the Green Goblin, the arch-nemesis of the cagey comic book icon, the studio announced today.

“Dafoe will star opposite Tobey Maguire, who plays Spider-Man. Dafoe, who earned a 1987 Oscar nomination for his portrayal of `Sergeant Elias’ in Oliver Stone’s Platoon, recently starred in Steve Buscemi’s Animal Factory. Upcoming films for the actor include Shadow of the Vampire, Pavilion of Women and Edges of the Lord.

“The Green Goblin, a.k.a. Norman Osborn, Spider-Man’s arch-enemy, assumed his ghoulish persona after an experimental formula blew up in his face. The formula increased his intelligence and strength but also drove him insane.

“Dafoe has made a name for himself working with some of the most critically acclaimed directors in the world: with his turn as `Caravaggio’ in Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient; his starring role in The Last Temptation of Christ for director Martin Scorsese; his memorable turn in David Lynch’s Wild at Heart; his performance in Wim Wenders’ Far Away, So Close; and his role as a civil rights activist in Alan Parker’s Mississippi Burning.

Other feature credits for Dafoe include Boondock Saints, eXistenZ, Lulu On the Bridge, New Rose Hotel, Speed 2: Cruise Control, Tom & Viv, Clear and Present Danger, Affliction, Light Sleeper, Born on the Fourth of July, To Live and Die in L.A., Triumph of the Spirit, White Sands, Body of Evidence and Off Limits.”

SPIDER-MAN FAN MOVIE

Fans who have seen it describe it with a sense of awe. Word of mouth has spread on the internet like wildfire. It currently stands as the best live-action adaptation of Spider-Man ever made. We’re speaking, of course, of The Green Goblin’s Last Stand by Dan Poole.

Poole’s been getting plenty of press on the Internet for his no-budget, independent film based on the classic Spider-Man story. More recently, Poole and his movie have been written up as part of an L.A. Times Article. Fans can currently see the movie online at the Local Origination website.

The Times article correctly points to the hair-raising stunt work as one of the strengths of the movie. Poole (who did most all of the Spidey stunts and some of the other characters’ stunts) can bee seen swinging on web lines, climbing up the sides of buildings and even getting hit by a car! It’s indicative of the passion and dedication that set Green Goblin’s Last Stand apart from other live-action takes on Spider-Man.

Because it is based on copyrighted material, Poole cannot sell copies of The Green Goblin’s Last Stand. He prefers that they be copied and distributed for free among appreciative fans. Poole told Comics2Film that he is in the process of doing a “making of” video about the movie. That tape may feature clips from Poole’s past Marvel adaptations. Sales from the making of video will help Poole fund his future films.

THE CROW: LAZARUS

Corona Coming Attractions reports that music video director Joseph Kahn is now attached to direct The Crow: Lazarus. This rumor comes from two separate sources, both of whom are unnamed. Kahn is said to have directed videos for the Backstreet Boys, Sisqo, Janet Jackson and Britney Spears.

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

[Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker]

James Harvey of the World’s Finest News Page continues to shed light on just how much the animated feature Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker has been altered in the two months that it’s been delayed. Harvey has set up a web page detailing the cuts, even more so than he did for us last week.

Even more interesting is the report Harvey contributed to on the IGN FilmForce Website. That report lists out the changes that Harvey has identified. It also provides screen grabs from the film, illustrating what was cut. The write-up neatly summarizes the story  of the cesoring of this movie and fan reaction to that.

Thanks to Kenneth Plume for the lead on the FilmForce story.

Ain’t It Cool News, who has led the charge in online protests of the editing of the film, recently contacted Warner Bros. Animation in an attempt to get the latest status on the issue. Harry Knowles of AICN spoke with Jean H. MacCurdy, head of WB Animation.

Knowles asked MacCurdy about the possibility of WB releasing an uncut version of the movie. MacCurdy replied that there is “definitely STILL a chance, we won’t have an answer till after the first of the year. We already have meetings scheduled to discuss this issue with Warner Home Video and that hope is still very much alive. I really hope we can do something with the original version and we should know right after the first of the year one way or another.”

MacCurdy also told Knowles that the relationship between WB Animation and Batman Beyond creator Paul Dini is still good. MacCurdy credits Dini, Alan Burnett and Bruce Timm as being integral to the success of WB Animation.

The Batman Beyond is also said to be doing well on Kids WB!, in spite of rumors to the contrary. MacCurdy could not say for certain that it would be back for another season. That decision would be left up to the network.

Finally MacCurdy hinted that things may be looking good for the rumored JLA animated show, which would reportedly air on Cartoon Network. “I’m not going to say anything,” MacCurdy told Knowles. “I can say that soon we should be making an announcement that’ll make all of you very happy.”

SUPERMAN

The 4Filmmakers.com database now lists John Woo as the director attached to Superman movie. Woo served most recently as the director of Mission: Impossible 2 and is currently working on Windtalkers, which reunites him with his Face/Off star, Nicolas Cage.

4Filmmakers does not provide any details about the listing. No official announcements have been made in the trades regarding the attachment of Woo to this project.

SUPERMAN DVD

[Superman]

Video industry trades are reporting that the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies are set for release on DVD next year. Video Store magazine and Video Business magazine both report that Superman: The Movie and Superman II are due out with all the bells and whistles in spring of 2001.

Thanks to Delmo Walters Jr. and John Jones.

IRON MAN

The guys at CHUD bring this latest update on the Iron Man movie. The update comes from screenwriter Tim McCanlies via an aspiring screenwriter. The unnamed scooper met McCanlies at the Screenwriters Conference/Heart Of Film Festival in Austin, Texas last month.

According to the scooper, McCanlies is planning to have the Iron Man movie be an origin story. The movie will not utilize a super-powered villain but will instead pit Tony Stark against corporate villains who are after his advanced technology so they can exploit it “to the detriment of mankind.” McCanlies endeavors to make Stark’s high-tech gadgets as realistic as possible.

McCanlies also confirmed that Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. would be part of the story. The scooper alluded to a third act scene that would include the S.H.I.E.L.D. Heli-Carrier. Apparently it’s hoped that Fury’s appearance in the movie could spawn a spin-off.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Everything looked rosy for the Men In Black sequel last week. All the principals were on board and Sony was said to be fast tracking a 2001 production that would work around potential Hollywood strikes.

An article in today’s Variety gives some mention of how the movie got off the ground. The sequel was long believed too expensive to film due to the skyrocketing box office cache of its stars, director and producer.

According to the article, there was some haggling for several years. More recently a stellar script by Galaxy Quest scribe Bob Gordon got everyone to sit down and negotiate a deal. Eventually former Columbia executive Bryan Lee worked out a deal that would allow producer Steven Spielberg to reduce his participation in the movie.

What’s puzzling is the news from today’s Hollywood Reporter. Although Gordon’s script has been consistently raved about, the Reporter tells its readers that Barry Fanaro (Kingpin) has been hired to rewrite it. Fanaro worked with director Barry Sonnenfeld Disney’s upcoming Big Trouble. The scribe also penned MGM’s What’s The Worst That Could Happen.

GHOST WORLD

According to a recent write-up on the CSNsider website, Fantagraphics will be publishing two Ghost World books that will be released in conjunction with the movie version of Daniel Clowes’ story.

Ghost World: The Film Edition, will be an 80-page trade paperback. The two-color story of Enid and Rebecca is due to hit the shelves in March.

The Ghost World Screenplay by Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff (Crumb) will also be released in March. This will be a 144-page trade paperback, designed to fit on the shelf with the aforementioned graphic novel. The 125 page pre-shooting script will be illustrated by numerous photos from the production. “The Ghost World Screenplay is more of a scrapbook of the making of the film than simply a published screenplay,” said Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics.

As with the graphic novel, the screenplay and the move are set for a March 2001 release.

HULK

Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum spoke with Hulk screenwriter David Hayter about rumors that that The Absorbing Man would be the villain in the movie.

“I read that in Entertainment Weekly, but I am not sure where they are getting their information,” Hayter told Allstetter. “As far as I know, NO ONE has read my script outside of Universal yet and therefore I would assume that anything you read until it leaks out is incorrect.”

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

[Josie and the Pussycats]

The Upcoming Movies website tipped everyone off to the fact that the official Josie and the Pussycats website is now up and running at www.josiethemovie.com. The site currently consists of only a splash screen and a brief, one-page synopsis of the production.

MUTANT X

The Hollywood Reporter announced today that the Mutant X TV show is targeted for a fall 2001 release. The show is in development by Tribune Entertainment Co., the makers of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Beastmaster. The artcle states that the show has been cleared on Tribune Broadcasting Stations.

The show will be developed by Philip Segal, who was also recently named senior VP of scripted programming and development at TEC.

CORRECTION: THE TERROR

Terry Fitzgerald of Todd McFarlane Entertainment wrote in to correct some misinformation that appeared in our previous story on The Terror TV show.

Andrew Horne is not the Executive Producer on the show as we previously reported. Horne is the Paramount executive in charge of the show.

Todd McFarlane is, of course, the Executive Producer. Fitzgerald is the producer.

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