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Before we get into the stories, I just want to remind everyone to set your VCR’s for 10am this Saturday to catch the premier of Static Shock!  Then come back and check out our interview with Static co-creator, Dwayne McDuffie, below.

GOYER ON GHOST RIDER, BLADE, ETC

Comics2Film checked in with writer/producer David Goyer about the various projects he’s involved with that are based on Marvel comics characters.

[Ghost Rider #1]

First up we asked Goyer about the movie on everyone’s minds: Ghost Rider: “I have begun writing the new screenplay. Johnny Blaze is the man in question, but it isn’t an origin story,” Goyer told us. “He’s already the Ghost Rider when the movie begins and we will learn very little concerning his past.”

The demon Zarathos will not be part of the movie. “There might be some versions of some of the other Ghost Rider villains, but no one I’m prepared to comment on at this time. There will definitely be some major supernatural hijinx happening, that you can be sure of.”

Late last week internet rumors surfaced that Nicolas Cage is in talks for a role in the movie. Goyer confirmed for us that there have, indeed, been talks with Nicolas Cage about Ghost Rider. However, he refused to divulge any specifics beyond that simple statement.

Regarding the Blade sequel, Goyer says he’s just turned in the final budget pass of the screenplay. “I’m doing all the writing, though working closely with [director Guillermo del Toro] and will be on the set a great deal as I am also executive producing the film,” Goyer said. Pre-production is set to begin shortly. Goyer estimates that shooting is tentatively slated for February 14th.

Goyer said there has been no specific casting beyond returning stars Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson. However, Dr. Karen Jenson will not be part of the sequel. “N’Bushe [Wright] will not be coming back, nor will anyone be playing her character.”

While we were on the subject of Blade we asked Goyer about the TV show that had been rumored a few years back (shortly after the release of the movie). “I’ve had some preliminary discussions with New Line Television about a Blade TV show,” Goyer told C2F. “This would most likely be developed next year and if it does see the light of day, the show would debut after the 2nd film is released. If an animated show is done, it will probably be darker, in the anime-style.”

As has been reported in the past, Goyer and Snipes are hoping to do Black Panther at some point in the future. However, Blade is the top priority for now. “We both agreed it would make the most sense to table things until Blade 2 is underway. No doubt we will have more discussions during production.”

The Black Panther movie would provide a change of pace from the grim, supernatural themes of Ghost Rider and Blade. “We both would like for it to have a different feel than the Blade films. The Black Panther is a very regal character, with absolutely no shred of self-loathing — the opposite of Blade in many ways.”

Goyer had also been attached to the big screen version of Dr. Strange at one point. That project had been placed at Sony late last year but was abruptly taken back by Marvel this past April. In the intervening time, Chuck Russell (The Mask) had become attached as a potential writer and director for the movie. At this point, the state of the movie is uncertain, but Goyer admits he’d still like to be involved with it, if time permitted. “We’ll see,” Goyer said. “It took a good six years for Ghost Rider to get back on track, so all things are possible.”

STATIC SHOCK!

[Static]

Comics and TV writer Dwayne McDuffie recently spoke to Comics2Film about the Static Shock! animated show. McDuffie co-created the character and co-wrote the original Static comics that were published by Milestone Media in the early 90’s. McDuffie also wrote three episodes of the animated show, which makes its debut on Kids WB! on September 23rd at 10am.

McDuffie told us that the program follows the comics surprisingly closely. “It’s extremely close in tone. It really feels like the comic,” McDuffie said. “There are some details that are different. He’s got a different costume. There are fewer people in his gang of friends, just because the stories are shorter. Things like that.”

Although the Static comics frequently dealt with tough issues, the animated show will to a lesser degree. “The show is definitely aimed at a younger audience than the comic was. Everyone involved in it is committed to making it as real as we can without scaring the very small,” McDuffie said.

“For instance, Static’s origin, remarkably, has not been changed. It’s still the ‘Big Bang,'” McDuffie explained, referring to the gang rumble gone wrong that served as the genesis for many of Milestone’s super-powered characters. “He still goes down to the docks to shoot somebody in a gang.” This element of the character’s story was always the first thing movie and TV producers wanted taken out, whenever Static was pitched in the past. “The fact that it survived this just indicates [the current show’s producers’] commitment to try to keep it as close as they can.”

During the Big Bang, rival gangs in the Milestone city of Dakota we’re lured together on one fateful night and exposed to a gas which killed most, but gave others fantastic posers. The event will remain a significant subplot in the animated show as it was in the comics. “There’s the gas, the mystery of where the gas comes from is a part of the cartoon. But it will not be solved this season.”

So who is Virgil Hawkins, the kid behind the mask? “He’s basically a 14 or 15-year old comic book and science fiction fan who, through an accident gets these incredible electromagnetic powers,” McDuffie explained. “Because he’s a comic book fan he knows what he has to do: he gets a costume and goes out to fight crime.”

McDuffie wrote the episodes entitled They’re Playing My Song, Bent Out of Shape, which features the Rubber Band Man character from the Milestone comics and Junior which has Edwin Alva, also from the comics. McDuffie told as Junior is especially cool “because that episode is directed by Denys Cowan who was my partner at Milestone who co-created Static. It’s the first time we’ve worked together in 5 or 6 years.”

Hardcore Milestone fans will no doubt recognize the name of Edwin Alva from the comics. Alva was prominently featured in several Milestone titles as a formidable figure. “He’s going to be a regular character. He’s probably the main villain in the cartoon. He’s not quite as flamboyant as he was in the comics,” McDuffie said, laughing. “But he’s still a very dangerous man. He pretty much controls the city of Dakota and almost everything around it.”

Of course Alva figured most prominently in the Milestone title Hardware in which we was both employer and nemesis of the title character. Series director Denys Cowan had previously mentioned that Hardware could show up in the cartoon at some point. We asked McDuffie to comment on that possibility. “You can make your own inferences from Edwin Alva being a villain.”

Cowan had also mentioned that Rocket, sidekick to Icon, might also appear. “I don’t believe that happens in the first 13 [episodes],” McDuffie said. “But we’re very seriously discussing her and a lot of other Milestone characters if, God willing, we get picked up.”

McDuffie told us there are some discussions taking place regarding separate movie or TV deals the Milestone characters. However, there is nothing that could be announced at this point.

Fans who missed the boat on the Milestone revolution can pick up of the Trial By Fire trade paperback during the first week of October. The paperback collects the first four issues of Static which were written by McDuffie and drawn by Earth X artist John Paul Leon. This book tells the characters origin story and his first adventure.

Following that, McDuffie and Leon reteam for Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool. “We’re calling the comic Static Shock to help identify the character,” McDuffie said. The comic is a continuation of the Milestone comics. “He’s going to look like his old self. That comic is set in Milestone continuity, not the slightly different cartoon continuity. We’re picking up six months after the last book showed up. A lot of things have changed. It’s the story of Virgil deciding to become a superhero again.”

Become a superhero again? “He’s been down for five or six months,” McDuffie told C2F. “Part of the mystery is why he’s been down and the other part of the mystery is what happened to everybody else, which we will cover at some length.”

If Static Shock! and the new Static comics do well, the Milestone crew has plans to do more. McDuffie and Cowan are currently pitching a graphic novel that would relaunch one of the Milestone characters.

SUPERMAN TV SERIES

A late breaking story from Daily Variety indicates that the WB network has ordered 13 episodes of a new Superman TV show to debut in the 2001-2002 season. The hour drama would detail the adventures of a 15 year old Clark Kent.

If this sounds a bit like the often rumored Bruce Wayne TV show, it should come as no surprise that the same producers are behind both projects. Michael Tollin and Brian Robbins are executive producers. Miles Millar and Alfred Gough (Shanghai Surprise) have been tapped to writer it.

According to the write-up, the series will track young Kent as he “comes to grips with his emerging superpowers.” Lex Luthor and Lois Lane will figure into the show as well.

The article mentions that competition was hot between WB and the Fox network. WB won the day with the 13-episode commitment and what is said to be a record setting per-episode fee for a first-year drama.

WHERE’S IT AT, SUGAR KAT?

While reading through the first issue of Where’s it at, Sugar Kat?, published last week by Slave Labor Graphics we ran across the following message from creators Ian Carney and Woodrow Phoenix:

“Walt Disney Productions…optioned Sugar Kat earlier this year. The property is currently in development as a ‘live action’ television show!”

The comic features the adventures of the Kat sisters. Sugar Kat is a supermodel and the most popular girl in the world. Rebecca is Sugar’s brainy (and sometimes jealous) twin sister. Together (along with Rebecca’s cat Yearbook) they are the Kat and Kat Detective Agency and their specialty is supernatural mysteries.

Phoenix filled Comics2Film in on the deal-making behind the live-action TV version of his comic.

“Early this year [co-creator Ian Carney and I] had a phone call from Roy Price, the head of Walt Disney TV series development in the US, asking if we were interested in optioning Where’s it at, Sugar Kat? for an animated TV show,” Phoenix explained. “Then he called back a week later and said he’d changed his mind – he wanted to option it as a LIVE ACTION TV show!” The negotiations progress very rapidly from there.

A month or so later the comic creators were reading the first draft of the proposed Saturday morning TV pilot. Phoenix wouldn’t tell us the names creative team behind the show, except to say they’ve been involved in some successful action shows.

“So things are hurtling along at a very rapid pace indeed,” Phoenix said. “Ian and I are attached as consultants on the show and I’ll be designing characters, doing visuals and getting in the way.”

The show is tentatively scheduled to air next September.

IRON MAN

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Tim McCanlies has been tapped by New Line Cinema to pen the screenplay for the big screen adaptation of Marvel’s Iron Man. McCanlies may be best known for writing the fan-favorite animated feature The Iron Giant (which is based on a book titled The Iron Man).

BALL AND CHAIN

Daily Variety reports that 20th Century Fox TV has entered into a three year development deal with comic scribe Scott Lobdell. Of primary importance is a potential TV series based on Lobdell’s bickering husband and wife superhero team Ball and Chain.  Molly Newman (The Larry Sanders Show) and Howard Gordon (The X-Files) are working to turn the concept into “an episodic vehicle for two young stars.”

SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man]

Sony’s Spider-Man movie will not debut in November of 2001 as has been widely reported on the internet this week. A hot-off-the-press release from Sony instead puts the date at May 3, 2002. Here’s the entire release for your reading enjoyment:

“Columbia Pictures will begin principal photography on the live-action action-adventure Spider-Man in January and has set the release of the film for May 3, 2002.

“The start date makes possible a production and post-production schedule that will enable the film’s creators to realize their ambitious vision for Spider-Man and bring Marvel’s worldwide comic book icon to life.

“Spider-Man, starring Tobey Maguire, is helmed by Sam Raimi (The Gift, For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan), a self-confessed fanatic of the cagey, web-spinning hero. Laura Ziskin (As Good As it Gets, To Die For, Pretty Woman) and Oscar® nominee Ian Bryce (Almost Famous, Saving Private Ryan, Twister) produce. Avi Arad (X-Men, Blade) serves as executive producer.

“The screenplay for Spider-Man is written by David Koepp (Stir of Echoes, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park). The creative team includes Oscar®-nominated director of photography Don Burgess (Cast Away, What Lies Beneath, Forrest Gump), production designer Neil Spisak (The Gift, For Love of the Game, Heat) and costume designer James Acheson, who has won Academy Awards® for Restoration, Dangerous Liaisons and The Last Emperor.”

Meanwhile, Marvel big shot Avi Arad told Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum that Doctor Octopus will definitely not be featured in the Spider-Man movie. “He’s gone,” Arad told Allstetter. “”I would have liked him, but it just became very difficult to have two major villains in this movie. There was so much to tell in the origin – there’s Peter, there’s Spider-Man, Norman and Harry, the Goblin and Aunt May and MJ. It wouldn’t have done justice to him. So I like the fact that they decided they not to do a throwaway out of such an important character as Doc Ock. But I would have loved it.” 

In related news, an anonymous scooper for Dark Horizons reports speaking to F/X guy Ken Hahn about Spider-Man. According to the scooper Kahn worked on the recent Hollow Man (which sports some awesome special effects). Hahn let on to the scooper that the production team for Spidey may be considering a completely computer generated Manhattan for Spidey’s stunts, and that the costume character may also be done in CG.

X-MEN 2

Corona Coming Attractions reports that Bryan Singer is in negotiations with 20th Century Fox to helm the X-Men sequel. Singer was one of the few players in the original film who didn’t sign a multi-picture deal.

THE CROW: SALVATION

[The Crow]

The Crow’s Loft and CrowFans.com report that the recent test screening of The Crow: Salvation in Spokane, WA yielded disappointing results. Reps from those websites enjoyed the movie and reported that the local media at the press screening applauded the film.

However, the turnout for the actual screening of the movie was said to be low, possibly due to the competing Spokane County Fair. The webmasters also attribute the poor showing to a lack of publicity push on the part of Miramax.

The Spokane, run was launched by Miramax to test the waters for the future release of the movie. Poor numbers in Spokane could mean that The Crow: Salvation will go straight to video.

VENOM

Corona Coming Attractions continued their investigation into the status of the Venom movie. In considering the question of whether or not it would be possible for Eddie Brock, Venom’s altger-ego, to make an appearance in the Spider-Man movie, CCA learned that the option on the character was no longer held by New Line Cinema. Further investigation by CCA has revealed that the rights for a Venom feature have reverted to Marvel. Marvel has not since sold the option to another filmmaker or studio.

X-MEN DVD

[X-Men]

The X-Men DVD is officially set to go on sale November, 12. Many online vendors have already started to take pre-orders for what is sure to be a big seller. The disc will reportedly have the following features and extras:

  • 10 minutes of additional footage and six scenes exclusive to the DVD
  • Mutant Watch special
  • Hugh Jackman’s screen test
  • 4 excerpts from director Bryan Singer’s visit to The Charlie Rose Show
  • 2 creature animatics
  • Conceptual art gallery with over 150 photos
  • Cast filmographies
  • Collectible booklet
  • Theatrical trailer 

BATMAN AUCTION

WHAT: Straight from the Warner Bros. vaults, one-of-a-kind props and costumes from the blockbuster Batman motion picture franchise are now being offered exclusively on eBay. Highlights from early bidding include:

Catwoman’s rubber costume

from Batman Returns

$3,950
Pink tiger-print suit worn by

Two-Face from Batman Forever

$3,550
The Riddler’s green Lycra

jumpsuit from Batman Forever

$2,550
Batman’s cowl from

Batman Forever

$2,025
Ed Nygma’s Brain Drain Hat

from Batman Forever

$1,025
Ice Thug skates from

Batman & Robin

$500

WHERE: www.ebay.com/warnerbros or www.warnerbrosauction.com

WHEN: Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 

BACKGROUND: For more than six decades, the Caped Crusader has protected Gotham City and its citizenry from evil villains lurking in the darkness. Through the use of an arsenal of high-tech gadgets and his keen crime-fighting mind, Batman has become known as the world’s greatest detective. The four Batman motion pictures have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, while the animated television series has set a new standard for television animation, with top ratings on the Kids WB! television network; Batman comic books reach millions of fans every month; and on the Internet, Batman is one of the world’s most recognizable superheroes.

BRUCE WAYNE

Stax, script reviewer to the superheroes, recently turned his attention to the pilot script for the Bruce Wayne TV show. Although there is some debate as to whether or not the show will ever see the light of day, Stax gives the script high marks in his Stax Report column at IGN FilmForce.

MUTANT X

Avi Arad revealed yet another Marvel TV property to Rob Allstetter of the Comics Continuum. Arad told Allstetter, “We are…working very hard on Mutant X.”

The show, based on an X-Men parallel universe spin-off, is in the works with Tribune Entertainment. Arad told Allstetter that the show would likely air on cable TV.

MEN IN BLACK 2

[Men In Black's Jones]

Cinescape reports Tommy Lee Jones recently told  Daily Variety that things are looking good for a Men In Black sequel. “The business aspects are all in place. The team will be exactly the same as in the first episode,” Jones told the trade. “Now we’re just trying to find a time when Barry [Sonnenfeld], Will [Smith] and myself are all free.”

BABY BLUES

Daily Variety reports that the animated version of Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman’s  Baby Blues comic strip has turned out to be a big hit for the WB network. The show’s 6 week debut run scored well in the ratings and hit the right demographics. The net is renewing the program for a new 13 episode run. The new episodes, along with 5 episodes from the first season will air in the 2000-2001 season.

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