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GIPSY, DAMAGE CONTROL, SHADOWMAN

[Gipsy]

During the 1970’s and 1980’s Barry Levine was known as one of the top rock n roll photographers in the music industry. Levine worked with such big names as Elton John, Queen, Motley Crue and Ratt. Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that Levine did all the major album work for Kiss before the band took their makeup off.

From his work as a photographer, Levine segued into a career of doing music supervision for movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Guilty By Suspicion. Eventually he started working on more action oriented movies like Die Hard: With A Vengeance, Judge Dredd and Street Fighter.

However, working in the music industry didn’t give Levine the kind of creative collaboration he desired. Once again, he changed careers, this time focusing on developing movies. 1999 saw the release of his first effort as a movie producer: Detroit Rock City. Now Levine’s production house, Brigade Entertainment, boasts one of the largest comic book movie slates in Hollywood. Comics2Film spoke with Levine this weekend about the various projects he has in the works.

“We started our company only about three and a half years ago,” Levine told C2F. “But we really weren’t in a position to go out and obtain any kind of script we wanted. So we basically decided to start looking at various comic books because I’ve always loved comic books.”

However, Levine recognizes that it’s not so easy to move a concept from the pages of the comic book to the big screen. “The thing I didn’t like about some of the earlier [comic book] films that were made, they were ridiculous. They weren’t cinematic,” Levine said. “I always feel that one should always keep the essence of the character alive and everything else, one can embellish to make it more cinematic. That’s what comic books do. They get rid of characters, add characters, change storylines.”

One of Brigade’s biggest projects is an adaptation of a French comic. “It’s a major big, big budget project called Gipsy,” Levine told us. “We’re going out with [Gipsy] over the next 10 days. It’s one of our biggest projects.”

The Gipsy comic is published in the U.S. by NBM and originally published in Europe by Dargaud. It’s written by Smolderen with art by Enrico Marini. In the 2040’s the northern hemisphere has fallen into a glacial period, the hole in the ozone layer is growing and the world is becoming increasingly chaotic. Ozone-consuming air traffic has been halted and the world economy depends on a massive, transcontinental highway. A tough road-warrior named Tsagoï pilots his truck, the Gipsy Star, through high-octane adventure.

“It’s pretty amazing. We have Demian Lichtenstein, he’s attached to direct. He just directed 3000 Miles To Graceland starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell,” Levin explained. “He’s been developing this with Christian Ford and Roger Sofer.” Ford and Sofer previously penned Slow Burn.

Gipsy will also be the first project that is part of a co-venture between Brigade and the Rhythm & Hues special effects house. Rhythm & Hues has worked on many F/X features including Stuart Little and 6th Day. “We’re going to produce films together. Having someone like that as my partner, we can look at these big, big, big budget films with a more rational, feasible, economical approach,” the producer told us. “They’re believers and I’m a believer that a lot of this money that’s spent is wasted and if you spend enough time with your effects house in preparation and pre-production that money should be on the screen.”

Another promising project is Marvel’s Damage Control. “It’s an agency that cleans up after superheroes. We’re working on our second draft right now,” Levine told us. Don Calume and Chris Conroy are the screenwriters on this one.

Levine is enthusiastic about the movie. “They love the project over at Village Roadshow. They think it’s their Men In Black.

“We are just trying to establish certain rules. Like with Men In Black: if you create the scenarios that this world does exist and you believe the characters and you believe the dialog, then everything else is acceptable.”

C2F asked Levine if plans still called for Marvel’s JLA knock-offs, the Squadron Supreme to provide most of the damage for this movie. “That’s a possibility,” Levine said. “We’re not sure where that is right now. There are superheroes in it.”

Shadowman is another Brigade project that’s heating up. Dimension Films is looking at the Acclaim comics character as their superhero franchise. “They’re looking to put that into pre-production early next year,” Levine said. “We’re really kicking ass right now because the script will be ready next week. There’s a top director who loves this project, but he just wants to see the script.”

The story for Shadowman was developed by Ari Arad, Director of Development at Brigade. The screenplay for Shadowman is written by Keith Domingue. “He’s written a great script,” Levine said. “it’s an excellent script.”

Rapper/Actor/Writer/Director/Producer Ice Cube is also a producer on Shadowman. It’s long been reported that Ice Cube also had his eye on the starring role in this movie. However, Levine now tells us that the part is not cast. Beyond that, the producer could not comment.

Tune in next week for more with producer Barry Levine as he talks about Marvel, Acclaim and Chaos comics projects.

SPYBOY

Freddie Prinze, Jr.: SpyBoy!

That’s right. A source at Dark Horse Entertainment told Comics2Film that they are closing a deal to bring SpyBoy to the small screen. Freddie Prinze, Jr. is attached to provide a voice for the young adventurer. SpyBoy would be done in animation as a co-venture with Nelvana.

The SpyBoy comic is written by Peter David and drawn by Pop Mahn. The title character is a shy teenager who has a mysterious alter-ego who is an butt-kicking international spy.

Our source also mentioned that Concrete and Hellboy are both projects that Dark Horse is focusing a lot of attention on.

SPIDER-MAN

[J. Jonah Jameson]
Fan art of actor J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson

Comics2Film has confirmed that character actor J.K. Simmons is a strong contender for the part of cranky publisher J. Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man movie.

Our source at Marvel told us that the actor hasn’t signed yet but, “he’s definitely in the running and would be a great, great choice if we went with him.”

Simmons may be best known as the devious Prisoner #92S110 Vern Schillinger on HBO’s prison drama Oz. The actor has also worked with Spider-Man director Sam Raimi in For Love of the Game and The Gift.

Our source told us that Simmons read for the part recently and “had a great, great audition.”

Thanks to Ain’t It Cool News for the lead.

While we’re still almost a year and a half away from seeing the movie, it’s never too early to start talking about movie toys. Spider-Man Hype provides a report on a recent interview with Marvel big shot Avi Arad for Toyfare magazine.

Arad told Toyfare, that toys will include “the Green Goblin in his various incarnations; Peter Parker and Spider-Man, of course; Robbie; J.J.; Mary Jane; and then there will be some tidbits like we did with the X-Men.”

The toys will likely be the 5 inch standard, as with X-Men. The Peter Parker action figures will be designed to resemble star Tobey Maguire. Arad also told Toyfare, “There will be kinds of unique renditions of Spider-Man doing his own thing; the Spider sense, the web stuff, climbing, flying, so on and so forth. There will be great playsets. The movie has some amazing set pieces that I don’t want to give away right now.”

IRON FIST

Following up on recent Internet rumors regarding the Iron Fist movie, Comics2Film has verified that writer John Turman (The Crow: Stairway to Heaven) has been hired to write the screenplay. Our source at Marvel said of the hiring, “there’ll be an announcement in the trades when everything’s officially official, but the deal is closed and we’re just waiting to dot the i’s and cross the t’s.” Turman is reportedly a comic book fan and an accomplished martial artist in his own right.

Our source at Marvel also commented on the rumors that Ray Park is the top contender to star in Iron Fist. “It’s not a done deal but we would love him to be Danny Rand. We’re trying to make a deal with him.”

Thanks to Ain’t It Cool News for the lead.

X-MEN 2

Director Bryan Singer is in early negotiations to direct the sequel to this summer’s comic to film hit X-Men according to The Hollywood Reporter. The director was one of the few players from the original film who did not sign a multi-picture deal.

According to the write up there is currently no script for the movie and no production start date. However, 20th Century Fox is eager to get the ball rolling on the sequel as soon as possible. Singer is also expected to direct Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which could conflict with an early start on X-Men 2.

X-MEN DVD

[X-Men]

The New York Post talked to X-Men director Bryan Singer about the rumored second DVD edition of his smash comic book movie. Apparently Singer does feel much more could be included on the disc to make it a truly special edition.

“20th Century Fox has committed to doing a second X-Men DVD, in which I would use a slightly longer version, including two new scenes which I?d like to shoot, a commentary track and at least a dozen outtakes,” Singer told the Post.

“I would also include hundreds of hours of video-camera footage of the shooting of X-Men, chronicling the experience, which was inspired by Heart of Darkness, the documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now.” (Thanks to Empire Online for the lead.)

In spite of Singer’s remarks, other reports indicate that the disc is not happening. Sources tell C2F that the head of FOX DVD has stated that there are no current plans for another X-Men package. One would imagine that announcing a second edition DVD just weeks before the first edition is set to go to market would have a negative impact on sales.

Yet Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum has word from sources about what may be on the disc. According the Allstetter Singer has footage of the Weapon X experiment and a video diary of the shoot.

Also Bill Jemas, president of Marvel Comics told Allstetter that Ultimate X-Men may appear on the expanded edition. Marvel recently published Ultimate Spider-Man online shortly after the release of the print version.

FROM HELL

[From Hell]

Fans looking for another peek at the From Hell movie can take a look at the December issue of Premiere Magazine. The In the Works column has a brief write up on the film, including this photo.

Based on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell’s Jack the Ripper comic, the movie has been shepherded along by directors Albert and Allen Hughes (Menace II Society) for over five years. The project has jumped from studio-to-studio before finally going into production at 20th Century Fox. The pair have reportedly been focused on the effort for so long that Albert is calling the actually shooting “pretty boring.”

The write up indicates that the set for the film has been created with painstaking detail. A replica of Whitechapel, where the ripper killed five women, was built by production designer Martin Childs (Shakespeare in Love) on a 90,000-square-memter set outside of Prague. Cobblestones were borrowed from the Czech capital for the faux-Whitechapel streets. The murder sites and the mutilated corpses have been recreated in exact detail based on available documentation.

OUTLAW

[2000 AD]

Outlaw will be the next character to jump from the pages of the long-running British comic 2000AD according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fine Line Features has optioned the film rights from software developer Rebellion.

The film is budgeted at $10 million – $15 million with a targeted production start of early 2001. Andrew Upton is expected to direct from a screenplay by Lloyd Foneville.

According to the write up, Outlaw tells the story of “a criminal captured by a weapons design company and turned into the ultimate fighting machine.

2000AD yielded one other big screen adaptation: 1995’s Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone.

BARBARELLA

Cinescape repeated some of Drew Barrymore’s comments regarding progress on the Barbarella movie. According to the write up Barrymore, who is set to star in and produce the movie, told the Calgary Sun “I don’t have anything like a firm starting date yet because I’m waiting until John August is available to write the screenplay and he’s still working with Steven Spielberg on Minority Report.”

Barrymore also commented on what her character in the adaptation might be like telling the Sun, “I’m not going to play Jane Fonda’s character. I might be her granddaughter.”

Barrymore and August also teamed on the current box-office smash Charlie’s Angels.

RAT BASTARD

[Rat Bastard]

Just about one year ago, Cliff Galbraith and Tim Bird announced that they were developing an animated version of their comic book Rat Bastard. The animated TV show was to be written and produced by Ed Neumeier (Robocop) and targeted for the UPN network. Subsequently Kevin Altieri was hired to direct and a five minute test animation was produced.

However, last summer things went south for the project. In June Galbraith told Comics2Film that the show’s producers canceled the deal with UPN. He said that network executives “said the tape was not ‘sitcomy’ enough, and why does he have to be a rat? Ya can’t make stuff like this up!”

Although Galbraith and Bird vowed to find another outlet for the show, the chances of seeing it this year seemed remote. But the excellent 4 Color Review website has come to the rescue. Now, just over a year after the first announcement, 4CR is showing the five minute test animation on their site. The QuickTime movie intros the show’s hero: Rosco Rodent, a genetically engineered humanoid rat who works as a private detective.

No word is given as to whether or not the producers are continuing to search for a net to air the show.

SMALLVILLE

A posting on the WizardWorld website indicates that Warner Bros has issued a casting call for the young Clark Kent show. The show is now referred to as Smallville. According to the write us, agents have been asked to refer actors for the roles of Ken and Lana Lang at age 16. Calls are also out for a 21-year-old Lex Luthor. David Nutter (Dark Angel) is set to direct the pilot from a script by producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough.

Thanks to Joe Hendren for the lead.

WATCHMEN

[Watchmen]

Although some time last year writer/director Terry Gilliam talked about a Watchmen movie as still being a possibility for him, Gilliam is now saying that he’s not doing the movie, and is glad of it.

In an interview with the 6degrees website, Gilliam said, “After Twelve Monkeys I was offered a chance to do Watchmen again. The problem with Watchmen is that it requires about five hours to tell the story properly, and by reducing it down to a two or two and a half hour film, it seemed to me to take away the essence of what Watchmen is about. So I was happy when I didn?t get the money to make it because I would have been embarrassed if we?d done it.”

Many comic fans have questioned the wisdom of trying to adapt Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s 12-issue epic comic series for the big screen.

Thanks to Cinescape for the lead.

SUB-MARINER

Fandom’s Daily Buzz page reports that director Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff, Quills) has his eye on Marvel’s Sub-Mariner as a possible project. The director apparently made the following remarks to Entertainment Weekly magazine, “I love the comic book. I like the idea of ‘vengeance of the deep’: how we piss in the ocean and treat everything so badly and that down there is some little guy with wings on his feet who’s gonna come up and stomp some ass.”

During the summer, Marvel big shot Avi Arad told USA Today that he was looking to attach some talent to the Sub-Mariner concept and then take it around to studios.

JINGLE BELLE

An animated version of Paul Dini’s Jingle Belle is set to hit the web next week according to Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum. Dini told Allstetter, “The first in a series of animated two-minute Jingle Belle shorts will start running on Jing’s web site on or about Nov. 15.”

Plans call for at least three more shorts to run through the end of the year. “We’re thinking of it as worthwhile counter-programming to the usual network holiday treacle,” Dini told Allstetter.

Jingle Belle is the michevious daughter of Santa Claus. Her comic book adventures are published by Oni Press.

GEN13

[Gen 13]

Fans in the UK can now rent or purchase the video that American fans have been waiting for for years. The Gen13 animated movie went on sale at UK outlets on November 6, 2000. It was released by Paramount Video with little fanfare.

Word is that the stateside release was delayed due to differing opinions about who the audience for the movie is. According to some reports, WildStorm wanted a more mature take on the concept, whereas the studio wanted to tone things down for a younger audience. In the UK, the movie carries a classification certificate of 15, which means suitable only for persons of 15 years and over. Certain UK-based online vendors are selling the video for £37.99.

Muchos Gracias to Steve Gerding of the 4 Color Review website!

THE CROW

A few online vendors have started taking preorders for the Crow boxed set that was announced at the summer’s Comic-Con International in San Diego. The boxed set of DVD’s includes The Crow, The Crow: City of Angels and The Crow: Salvation. It’s set to ship March 20, 2001.

Most of the vendors list little information about the set. At Comic-Con, producer Jeff Most told fans the collection will be packed with extras including original scripts, concept designs, storyboards and artwork. “It’ll be a very complete and exciting package,” Most said.

BATMAN: YEAR ONE

Although director Darren Aronofsky has a new movie to promote with Requiem for a Dream it seems the question every interviewer wants to ask is “What about Batman?”

While Aronofsky insists “Nothing is definite yet,” the director did offer some Batman: Year One comments in a recent interview with Stephen Schaefer of Mr. Showbiz.

“They want to do something new with the franchise, they want some edge and a different take to the material,” Aronofsky told Schaefer.

Aronofsky also told Schaefer that the movie is not “Bruce Wayne at 15. That’s one of the things still being decided: how old [Batman is] as the film starts.”

The director did give some insights as to what he hopes to do with his untitled science fiction epic. That project, along with Requiem, seem to be what Aronofsky is most interested in discussing. With Batman, the director leaves his options open by saying, “I’ll only do [it] if I believe in it and can make a good movie out of it.”

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

[Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker]

The official website supporting Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker has been updated and expanded. The site now features a cinema section where fans can download the movie’s trailer, animatic clips, a making of featurette and a music video.

Also available are bios for the different characters in the movie, storyboards for the film, online games and online shopping.

Thanks to Corona Coming Attractions for the lead.

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