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PARTS UNKNOWN/WYNNONA EARP

Comics2Film recently spoke with Beau Smith, comic book writer and Todd McFarlane Productions big shot. Smith told us that there’s been some interest in Hollywood around his comic book properties Parts Unknown and Wynnona Earp. The latest nibbles on the concepts comes out of Smith’s recent partnership with writer/producer/actor Kevin Bernhardt.

Smith first noticed Bernhardt when he saw the movie The Immortals.  “I got hooked on that movie big time. It’s got action, it’s got humor, it’s got a plot that needs a little bit of thinking to it.” The Immortals starred Tia Carrere and Eric Roberts.

After that, Smith met the screenwriter through their mutual friend Billy Tucci (Shi). “About two years ago at San Diego, Billy and I were just hanging out and he says ‘Oh yeah, we’re going to have Tia Carrere over here at the booth signing,'” Smith told us. “I said ‘Great. She was in this movie that I love,’ and I started going on about The Immortals. He goes ‘Yeah, Kevin Bernhardt. He’s writing my movie.'”

Bernhardt and Tucci have been developing a screenplay for the Shi feature which is to be produced by Franchise pictures.

The pair hit it off and eventually Bernhardt took an interest in Smith’s comic book concepts. “Kevin started reading a bunch of my stuff and went nuts over a bunch of it. He’s pushing Parts Unknown and Wynnona Earp to Franchise and a few other places.”

Parts Unknown is Smith’s alien invasion concept. “It’s Mars Needs Women meets They Live for the new century,” Smith told us. Wynnona Earp features the adventures of a a modern day descendant of Wyatt Earp who serves as a U.S. Marshall by hunting down supernatural threats.

Smith is excited enough about the work he’s doing with Bernhardt to send some good-natured ribbing towards his boss, Todd McFarlane. “I was talking to Todd the other day when I talked to him, I said, ‘We’ll see who gets the next movie made first now.’ It gets his competitive juices up.”

Smith and Bernhardt are also working on a number of original concepts which would be targeted both as comics and movies.

WERNER, TEEN WITCH, ETC.

[Werner]

Comics2Film recently checked in with producer Scott Rosenberg to see what the state of the nation is over at Platinum Studios. Rosenberg told us that they’re developing projects based on a German comic named Werner.

“Werner is Germany’s number one comic book and animated character,” Rosenberg said. “Besides being their best-selling comic book for twenty straight years it was also, in 1999, the number one German originated movie.” The German movie was animated, but it apparently outsold the top live-action features as well. “It’s really popular. It sells 400,000 copies per issue over there.”

“We’re looking at creating webisodes which would also air on television,” Roseberg said. “And an animated feature, both as co-productions with the German rights holder.”

Platinum is also in the early stages of development on a Spanish language feature based on the comic Teen Witch.  Rosenberg told C2F that the concept comes “from an Argentinean creator named Carlos Trillo. He’s the one who created Cybersix which is currently on Fox. The project is called Teen Witch or Broomstick.

“It’s a fairly long-running comic that’s been syndicated in a bunch of different countries,” Rosenberg said. “We’re developing with Dimension. We’re currently at treatment stage for a Spanish language feature, which we think is a really cool way to go because there really hasn’t been that many Hispanic, teen-appeal movies.”

We also learned that Paul Dini is about six weeks away from completing his first draft on Million Dollar Heroes. Walter Beck and Peter Nelson are just as close to finishing their first draft of Nathan Never. Finally, the studio is looking for a director for Ghosting.

MAGE

[Mage]

Matt Wagner told Comics2Film that the screenplay for the Mage movie is undergoing some minor changes. “Disney’s asked John [Rogers] for one last tweek on the script,” Wagner said. The studio claims that the changes are simply the same kinds of things they’d be asking for in pre-production,  but they’re just trying to get the ball rolling early. A search for a director will begin when the changes are done.

Early buzz on Rogers’ script has been good. The latest review comes from the The Stax Report at IGN FilmForce. Stax summarizes his review as positive with minor spoilers.

JIMMY CORRIGAN

In an interview appearing recently on CNN Chris Ware, creator of Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth indicates that he’s been approached by parties in Hollywood about doing an animated version of his graphic novel.

“Yes, there’s been interest,” Ware told CNN. However, Ware is not exactly willing to let Hollywood have its way with his creation. “I can’t imagine not doing all the work on it myself. I’d have to really come to hate it first, before I could turn it over to anyone else.”

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

FAUST

The movie adaptation of David Quinn and Tim Vigil’s Faust was recently screened at the Sitges film festival in Barcelona last week. More than 200 films participated at the festival. Faust’s special effects artist, Poli Cantrero, walked away with the award for Best Visual Effects.

The movie is written by David Quinn and directed by Brian Yuzna (The Dentist, Bride of Re-animator).  The film stars Mark Frost,  Isabel Brook, Andrew Divoff, Jeffrey Combs and Monica Van Campen.

Currently there is no information available about the film’s release schedule.

SPIDER-MAN

[Sam Raimi]

In a talk with Entertainment Weekly, Spider-Man director Sam Raimi reiterated previous comments about casting negotiations. The director confirmed that Alicia Witt is a contender for the part of Spidey’s girl Mary Jane. However Raimi told EW ”there are still other actresses I have left to interview.”

The article also mentions that John Malkovich has not yet signed for the part of the Green Goblin, stating that Raimi is “hoping to snag” the actor.

Finally, a quote that is sure to elicit groans of exasperation from comic fans. Regarding Spider-Man’s classic costume Raimi said, ”I can’t say [it] will be what the kids have seen in comic books.”

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

[Batman Beyond]

Paul Dini recently talked to Ain’t It Cool News about the much-discussed reworking of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. As was reported last week, the animated feature has been bumped from it’s originally scheduled October release to a later December release. Many sources at many websites (including Comics2Film) have reported that the delay is to allow Warner Bros. to re-edit the movie to tone down the violence.

In his conversation with AICN, Dini confirmed that the reports were accurate and the movie is being reworked to curb the violence. Dini recently viewed the reworked version, which, according to the article, has been primarily handled by Bruce Timm. Dini told AICN that the new version still works and is said to be pleased with the new version. Quoting the article: “At one point [Dini] said that a part of him kinda wished they’d written it that way from the beginning.”

The article goes into the specifics of what is actually being cut. AICN also reports that Warner is paying attention to their online campaign, and is considering the possibility of releasing two versions of the film. However, no definitive decision has been reached at this point.

Finally, AICN encourages fans to continue to use the various online protest sites to make a statement to the studio.

In that vein, a new petition site has opened. Visit BB:ROTJ Uncut to voice your opinion. The other protest sites can be found at:

GHOST RIDER

[Ghost Rider]

Over at Mothership, Eric Moro sat down with David Goyer to talk about the Ghost Rider movie. Goyer is in the process of writing the first draft for the movie, which he’s also a producer on. The script is going in some unexpected directions ” As I worked out the story with Steve Norrington [the film’s director], I think we were both surprised at how mythic it’s become,” Goyer told Moro. ” We both remarked that in some ways the themes were similar to those of Blade, but it just struck us as being a much more mature work. Even I was surprised when I sat down to write Ghost Rider with how sort of mythic and serious it’s become. I think people are really going to be pleasantly surprised. We’re definitely highlighting the curse element. It’s not a happy story. The Spirit of Vengeance itself is a really horrific figure.” Although the script certain has horror elements, Goyer also likened to tone of the story to a modern-day western, a la The Road Warrior.

Goyer also talked about the expected changes to the look and demeanor of the character. “He’s probably not always going to be in black leather. What’s interesting about how we’re talking about portraying the Ghost Rider, when he is the Ghost Rider he is a skeleton. We’re treating the flames as if there were still muscle and sinew on his body, but it was translucent and the flames comprise the muscle and sinew. So there’s like a little bit of a three-dimensional quality.”

Goyer went on to say, “He’s probably not going to speak as the Ghost Rider either, or if he does it’s only going to be one line. He’s not going to talk like he does in the comics.” Goyer emphasized that the movie would tell Johnny Blaze’s story.

On a non-story note, Goyer also told the Moro that the upcoming WGA and SAG strikes will likely delay production on the movie.

For more details on Ghost Rider as well as talk about Goyer’s work in comic books, check out the complete interview.

MEN IN BLACK 2

[Will Smith]

Will Smith told TV Guide Online that the three stars of Men In Black are set to appear in the sequel. Returning with Smith would be Tommy Lee Jones and Linda Fiorentino. “Oh, and how they bring Tommy’s character back!… I can’t let it out, but it’s so brilliant.” TV Guide verified the casting of Jones with that actors’ representatives.

Smith is enthused about the screenplay for the follow-up. “It’s great when a sequel can have a better script,” Smith told TV Guide, “because it is so rare that the second film is better than the first one. But this one is ridiculous!”

In spite the enthusiasm Smith expresses above, a more recent report from today’s Daily Variety indicates that problems with Smith’s Ali could have a chilling effect on the comic book sequel. Sony put the Michael Mann helmed biopic of Muhammad Ali into turnaround last week due to the projected budget for the film exceeding $105 million. The studio is meeting with Mann today to try to work things out, but word is that Sony won’t budge on the budget.

What does this have to do with MIB2? Well, the article speculates that Smith, who has been undergoing rigorous physical training to play the legendary boxer, may not be too keen on being deprived of the role of his career. If Ali doesn’t land somewhere else, Smith may decide not to do MIB2 for Sony.

Fans my also worry that Sony’s penny-pinching may effect that biggest of comic book movies: Spider-Man. However, comments from SPE chairman John Calley seem to indicate that Spidey is the kind of film the will spend a wad on. “We’re not going to make movies for audiences that need to be dynamited out of their homes,” Calley is quoted as saying. “I would rather make Star Wars than Man’s Fate.”

SGT. ROCK/DOC SAVAGE

[Doc Savage]

Mega-star Arnold Schwarzenegger recently spoke with the L.A. Times about a variety of topics, including violence in film, the soon-to-be-released The 6th Day, running for public office, future projects and his comeback from illness and bad-box office.

Schwarzenegger told the Times that the Hollywood studios seemed disinterested in him after he had suffered through some health problems. However, the success of last year’s End of Days may have renewed interest in the actor and in a certain comic book project. “When End of Days opened, immediately I got phone calls from people I hadn’t heard from saying, ‘Congratulations and by the way, when do you want to do that Sgt. Rock thing or that other project we’ve been talking about?’ All of a sudden it was that kind of dialogue,” Schwarzenegger is quoted as saying. “And since then, everything is again in the running.”

The article also states that Arnold is still looking to do Doc Savage. According to the write-up, the project would follow after the now-filming Collateral Damage and Terminator 3. Schwarzenegger compared the screenplay for Savage to Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Thanks to Corona Coming Attractions for the lead.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

MTV VJ Carson Daly is the latest to join the cast of Josie and the Pussycats. Comics2Film contributor Joe Hendren heard the news last night on the video magazine Entertainment Tonight. Daly is apparently set to play a villain in the movie. Daly, the host of MTV Live, is also said to be romantically involved with Tara Reid who plays Melody in the film.

Meanwhile, fans who want to see the band perform live and in person will soon have the chance, according to Corona Coming Attractions. CA reports that on Friday, October 20th at 1pm, Vancouver area fans can check out the band and the production. A concert scene is to be filmed at the P.N.E. Pacific Coliseum and the producers are looking for screaming fans to fill the seats. The “concert” is free but you have to pick up passes at Ticketmaster or Rogers Video.

IRON MAN

The October 13 issue of Entertainment Weekly has a brief write-up on the Iron Man movie. Sources at New Line describe the concept as “in the vein of James Bond/Jack Ryan, only with a superhero in the center.” According to the mention, Nick Fury is also slated to appear in this movie. Tim McCanlies (The Iron Giant) is hammering out the script.

IRON FIST

RayPark.com the official website Ray Park (X-Men) has verified that the actor is looking to take on the role of the Marvel martial arts hero with the fist that is like unto a thing of iron. Here’s a quote from the site: “We can confirm that Ray is in talks for roles in The Green Hornet and Iron Fist along with several other potential movie roles. At this time nothing has been decided on any of them.”

ALIEN LEGION

Carl Pott’s Alien Legion is now set up as a feature at Dimension Films according to The Hollywood Reporter. J.D. Zeik (Witchblade) is on board to write the screenplay. Comic fan Don Murphy is set to produce. Potts will co-producer. Zeik will also have an executive producer cred.

“I like action-adventure projects that have something to say,” Potts told The Reporter. “The Alien Legion universe is a giant extrapolation of the U.S. melting-pot society. Instead of just having dozens of different cultures and races living together, you actually have hundreds of radically different species coexisting, and you also have all of the strengths and weaknesses of that diversity. There are obviously going to be troubles on occasion, but the strengths of the society working together far outweigh the weaknesses.”

WITCHBLADE

[Witchblade]

Yesterday, Turner Network Television announced an order for an eleven episode limited series spinning out of the successful Witchblade TV movie. Here’s the press release:

On the heels of the ratings success of the recent two-hour Original film Witchblade, Turner Network Television (TNT) announced that it has ordered eleven episodes for a limited series based on the best-selling Top Cow comic book of the same name. Yancy Butler (Drop Zone, Hard Target), David Chokachi (12 Bucks), Eric Etebari (The Murder in China Basin), Anthony Cistaro (Angel) and Will Yun Lee (What’s Cooking) will reprise their roles for the series, which is slated for a summer 2001 premiere. Witchblade is produced by Top Cow Productions, Inc. and Halsted Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television. Ralph Hemecker (Millennium, The X-Files) returns to direct, with Dan Halsted (Any Given Sunday, The Virgin Suicides) executive-producing for Halsted Pictures and Marc Silvestri executive-producing for Top Cow Productions.

“TNT’s commitment to the Witchblade series is a response to the strong performance of our two-hour Witchblade original film,” said Robert DeBitetto, president of original programming, TNT. “We are thrilled to be able to offer viewers additional hours of a franchise they clearly enjoy, while continuing our successful partnership with our sister company, Warner Bros. Television.”

“We are delighted that Witchblade has received this well deserved order for production,” said Peter Roth, president, Warner Bros. Television. “We truly appreciate the support of Bob DeBitetto and his terrific team at TNT.”

The TNT Original thriller Witchblade was the top movie for the week of Aug. 21-27, earning a 4.5 rating (3,491,000 households) for the 8 p.m. (ET/PT) premiere performance. The TNT Original also was the top movie among the key adult demographics 18-49 (3,157,000) and the most-watched program among adults 25-54 (3,631,000). WITCHBLADE is currently the number-one original movie among adults 18-49 and 25-54 for the year to date.

Witchblade is the story of a New York detective, Sara Pezzini (Butler), whose search for justice brings her into contact with an ancient, intelligent, living weapon so powerful it can battle Earth’s darkest evil forces. Chokachi portrays Pezzini’s partner, Jake McCartey. Cistaro stars as Kenneth Irons, a billionaire obsessed with possessing the Witchblade, and Etebari stars as Ian Nottingham, Iron’s enigmatic henchman. Lee stars as Pezzini’s slain partner, Danny Woo.

X-MEN: EVOLUTION

Kids WB! has scheduled the premiere for the animated X-Men: Evolution series. The show is not set to debut Saturday, November 4 at 10:30am, bumping Static Shock! into the 11am timeslot. Here’s the complete Kids WB! schedule effective 11/4/2000:

  • 8:00am Batman Beyond (replaces Men In Black)
  • 8:30am Pokemon
  • 9:00am Jackie Chan Adventures
  • 9:30am Cardcaptors
  • 10:00am Pokemon: The Johto Journeys
  • 10:30am X-Men (replaces Static Shock) Premier Date
  • 11:00am Static Shock (replaces Batman Beyond)
  • 11:30am Max Steel

    Thanks to our friends at 4 Color Review for sharing and playing nice with the other kids.

    GATECRASHER

    Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum reports that Greg Johnson will be the story editor of the Gatecrasher animated series. Johnson is also the story editor on the upcoming X-Men: Evolution. The show is based on the flagship comic title for Black Bull comics. It will be produced by Mainframe Entertainment (Beast Machines).

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