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ELTINGVILLE CLUB

[Dork]

Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer have been hard at work on the pilot episode of The Eltingville Club for The Cartoon Network.  Comics 2 Film spoke to Dorkin about the progress on the 30 minute episode.

“Everything’s pretty much looking pretty good on the pilot,” Dorkin told us. “It’s moving very quickly. It’s only been about four months since we started.”

Dorkin is the creator, writer and producer of the show.  He recently turned in the pilot script to co-producers and Cartoon Network executives Keith Crofford , Michael Lazzo (both from Space Ghost) and Linda Simensky (VP of Original Animation) for review.  The script also had to pass muster with the dreaded “standards and practices” before the pilot could move forward.

Dorkin was able to inform us that he got word of the script’s approval last week.  “To be quite honest, the producers have been terrific. The people I’m working with have been really behind the script,” Dork said. “And standards and practices were really pretty cool.  I think we got out of it with basically a slap on the wrist.”

The comic creator went on to say “We went through very, very minor revisions. We lost one scene which we knew we were going to lose. We just had to change it, but we were able to keep the scene.  It had to be a little less mean and severe.”

Dorkin assures us that the Club won’t be too watered down for television.  “We lost [some] language, but no real rude behavior or meanness or negativity. Basically they asked me to tone down very few things,” Dorkin told C2F. “They lessened any kind of gore, even though it was minimal in the first place, but they said ‘Let’s take it easy, so the kids don’t think characters are dead or anything.'”

One other minor concern is the use of licensed characters that the fanatical collecting club will be pursuing. “We’re still waiting to hear on whether or not we can use certain licensed objects in the script, but it looks like we have verbal OK on a major character, a major image.”  However, Dorkin told us that neither the pilot script or any other script would be written so that having a particular collectible depicted would make or break the story.”

At this point the show seems to be progressing smoothly.  “So far no horror stories,” Dorking told C2F.  “Nobody’s asked me to put a funny robot in there or a cute character for merchandise.  I mean, I don’t know what the hell they’re thinking because, if you think about it, the Eltingville Club’s pretty damned ugly.”

With script approval in place, Dorkin is ready to get the ball rolling on production of the pilot. Frequent collaborator Stephen DeStefano has been hired to do the storyboarding.  Work on the storyboards is slated to begin this month. Voice casting should also begin in the coming months.

In spite of the fact that things seem to be going well on the show, Dorkin emphasized that it is just a pilot. It’s possible that the network won’t pick it up as a regular show, or even air the pilot at all. “That’s why I like comics. No matter what happens you can pretty much get your pages in front of people somehow. You know: print it and get it out there.  In a collaborative multi-media thing like this you have to keep your fingers crossed and hope it gets on and hope it doesn’t suck.”

THE TICK

[Patrick Warbuton as the Tick]
Enlarge
[Cast of The Tick]
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Fox Television has officially announced their Fall schedule.  As expected, the live action version of Ben Edlund’s The Tick was named as a mid-season show.  Fox provides this description for the show:

“THE TICK – Wherever villainy rears its great, big, ugly head, wherever evil sets its giant ill-smelling foot, it is there you will find THE TICK! Evil comes in many forms – be it a man-eating cow or Joseph Stalin, but you can’t let the package hide the pudding. Evil is just plain bad. You don’t cotton to it, you just gotta smack it on the nose with the rolled-up newspaper of goodness! Bad dog! Bad dog!

“For ARTHUR, the accountant-turned-reluctant crimefighter, and THE TICK, the big blue defender of justice, being a superhero means you never know where the day will take you. You may find yourself halfway around the world in the shark-infested waters of true-to-life living. Or you may find yourself going down to the store for a lozenge. You never know. No! You gotta ride that wave, you gotta suck that lozenge! Cause if you don’t, who will?

“Created by BEN EDLUND, the creator of the hit comic book The Tick, as well as the animated series, and directed by BARRY SONNENFELD (Men In Black, The Addams Family), THE TICK brings the never-ending battle of good and evil to new heights of comedic chaos. PATRICK WARBURTON (Seinfeld) stars as The Tick.

“Production Company: Sonnenfeld-Josephson in association with Sony Pictures Television; Executive Producers: Ben Edlund, Barry Sonnenfeld, Barry Josephson.

“Cast: Patrick Warburton as the Tick, David Burke as Arthur, Liz Vassey as American Woman, Nestor Carbonell as Bat Manuel.”

Also, as promised last week by our Tick insider, the cast has made a public appearance in NY Thursday promoting the show.  The cast has reportedly appeared in costume.

Thanks to Noel Curtin

GHOST RIDER

[Ghost Rider]

Marvel Enterprises, Inc. and Crystal Sky Entertainment have entered into an agreement to jointly produce a feature film based on Ghost Rider, one of Marvel’s most successful and edgy comic book characters. The announcement was made today by Avi Arad, President and CEO, Marvel Studios, and Steven Paul, President and CEO, Crystal Sky Entertainment.

Scheduled for production early next year, Ghost Rider is expected to be budgeted at $75 million. Johnny Depp is being targeted to play the Ghost Rider. Arad, Paul and Academy-Award winning actor Jon Voight, who may also play a role in the film, will produce. The Ghost Rider screenplay was scripted by David Goyer, the writer of the acclaimed and successful Blade film.

Ghost Rider, who made his debut in August 1972 in Marvel Spotlight No. 5, is one of Marvel’s premiere properties. The Ghost Rider storyline focuses on a motorcycle stuntman, who, seeking revenge for harm done to his one true love, makes a pact with dark forces to avenge the wrongdoing. By day, the Ghost Rider is a motorcycle stuntman able to perform superhuman tricks; by night he is transformed into a burning demon on wheels as he hunts down those who bring pain to the innocent.

Beverly Hills based MM Media Capital Partners, which recently concluded a $100 million line of credit arrangement with Crystal Sky, will finance the film. MM Media Capital Partners is the new banking consortium headed by Hal Sadoff, Rodney Paine and Myles Nestel, all formerly of Coutts and Co. and National Westminster. Revenues generated from the distribution of the film, as well as from licensing and merchandising will be shared equally by Crystal Sky and Marvel Enterprises.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Avi Arad on this film venture. His creative voice and business acumen will certainly contribute to making Ghost Rider a cutting-edge and exciting film,” commented Paul. “Avi has already had tremendous success with Blade (portrayed by Wesley Snipes), and a sequel is to follow later this year. We are very excited to produce Ghost Rider with Avi and his Marvel team – the same team that just finished X-MEN: The Movie and is currently working on Spider-Man: The Movie for 2001.”

Arad added, “I met Steven while he was producing Baby Geniuses. I watched and admired as he continually overcame obstacles and naysayers. He produced the film his way, brought the print and advertising budget to the studio, and engineered a most successful release. I couldn’t be happier to produce this project with Crystal Sky.”

Crystal Sky’s Senior Executive Vice President Andrew Hersh will oversee the production for Crystal Sky. Hersh will work closely with Arad and Paul throughout development and production of Ghost Rider.

Crystal Sky Entertainment is a leading independent production company that maintains a first look deal with Paramount Pictures. The company struck paydirt last year with the conception and production of Baby Geniuses. Released through Sony’s TriStar Pictures, the film has garnered more than $80 million in domestic revenues. On the heels of that success, the company has been aggressively developing and readying a slate of theatrical projects.

Following Marvel’s announcement, screenwriter-to-the-comic-heroes David Goyer (Blade) spoke with Matt Brady of Mania magazine about the Ghost Rider movie.

“We are talking and there has been an approach discussed, but I have not negotiated a deal with the various parties so it’s a little premature,” Goyer told Brady.

Goyer had written a screenplay for Ghost Rider several years ago. “We may use my earlier script as a starting point, but the direction we’re going with the story would simplify things drastically – more Road Warrior than Marvel Universe.”

The writer could not comment on whether or not the movie version of Ghost Rider would feature circus stuntman Johnny Blaze or…uh…kid Dan Ketch.

MARVEL/ARTISAN

Artisan Entertainment and Marvel Enterprises, Inc., announced today the formation of a joint venture that will bring to life several of Marvel’s world renowned superheroes and villains via original productions created for distribution through feature films, television, home video and the Internet. The agreement marks the most far-reaching deal Marvel has entered into to date with any of the Hollywood studios. Through the venture, Artisan and Marvel will develop, produce and distribute programming on a worldwide basis based on fifteen mutually agreed upon Marvel properties, including the ever-popular Captain America and Thor as well as such edgy characters as Morbius, Deadpool, Black Panther, Iron Fist and Ant Man.

Marvel will also develop licensing and merchandising programs for each production. The announcement was made today by Amir Malin, Co-Chief Executive Officer, Artisan Entertainment and Avi Arad, President and CEO, Marvel Studios.

The pairing of Artisan and Marvel is the perfect fit as each entertainment company is on a burgeoning path of growth and expansion. All productions will be geared to the sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres – areas in which Artisan has made a name for itself and the featured Marvel characters skew toward. Feature film concepts will be developed for both theatrical distribution as well as direct-to-video release, while the television programming will take the form of either television series or made-for-TV movies. The Internet initiatives will appear as short films and videos. Revenue generated from both the distribution of the productions as well as from licensing and merchandising will be shared equally by both companies and each company will also equally own the programming library.

Commented Malin, “As Artisan builds and expands on its core businesses, we continue to break new ground and forge innovative alliances in order to deliver quality programming across multiple outlets. This partnership speaks not only to our corporate strategy but also to my relationship with Avi Arad, one of the most prolific executives in the entertainment industry and one that I respect immensely.”

Arad added, “Artisan has proven itself to be one of the biggest innovators and premiere marketers in the entertainment industry, as evidenced by their success with titles such as The Blair Witch Project. Artisan and Marvel service the same community in film, television and the Internet. Our brands are synonymous with cutting edge entertainment – an area in which Artisan has success and expertise – which makes them the perfect partner for us. Amir Malin is my kind of executive, always seeking to break new ground in our fast changing media world. This joint venture with Artisan is further evidence of Marvel’s commitment to deliver its incredibly popular character brands to a mass audience while also providing our core comic book and sci-fi fan base with a new way to experience their favorite heroes and villains.”

Artisan’s Senior Vice President, Patrick Gunn will oversee day-to-day activities for the joint venture on the Artisan side. Gunn will work closely with Arad on all multimedia productions.

LENORE

[Lenore]

Daily Variety reports that Roman Dirge’s bizarre, dead-girl comic Lenore is in development as an animated feature film. Sony Family Entertainment purchased the rights for the comic. Caroline Thompson (A Nightmare Before Christmas) and Larry Wilson (Beetlejuice) will write the screenplay. The pair previously collaborated on The Addams Family.

Sony characterizes the movie as a “decidedly black comedy with heart.” Thompson is quoted as saying, “We are looking to appeal to adults as much as the sophisticated 10 year old. Lenore means well, when, for instance, she tries to help out by taking the neighbor baby to the park. While she feeds the bird, the baby whines and she says, ‘Oh, you want to feed them.’ She puts the feed on the baby, and the birds begin pecking away.”

X-MEN

Ray Park recently talked to the fans about his role as the evil Toad  in the upcoming X-Men movie via an online chat last week.  The transcript of the chat is now available the Official X-Men site.  Here are some highlights from the chat:

Question: Is Toad portrayed as a mindless lackey as in the early years of X-Men or the evil genius he has more recently become?

Park: “He’s more of an evil, twisted, guy. I tried to make him loopy, nutty, but calculating. Nutty, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. That’s how I tried to portray him. I haven’t seen he finished product yet though.”

Question: What certain powers/moves do you have/show in the movie?


Park: “Toad has a long tongue and he can leap and jump and stick on walls and his legs are powerful and he’s got gooey slime!”

Question: Was the tongue mouthpiece you wore very uncomfortable?

Park: “It was weird. I’ve never done anything like that in my life. Imagine being at the dentist and being fit for a mold of your teeth…it was like that. It got a few jokes on the set. I went along with it. :)”

Question: How do you prepare for a part like the Toad?

Park: “Keep physically and mentally prepared. If I’m competing, I’m already prepared. I just have a go and try it. If no one likes it …they’ll say so to me.”

Question: Do you think Toad will return in any other X-Men films?

Park: “Possibly…I don’t know. I’d come back if invited though.”

Question: Did you choreograph any of the fight scenes in the X-Men movie?

Park: “No. I worked with Conrad, the executive director. I gave a little input but mostly it was written already. I just had to jump in and do it.”

Question: How do the stunts you do as Toad compare to the ones you did in Star Wars? Easier? Harder?

Park: “I haven’t seen the finished product yet so it’s hard to say but it was physically demanding working as Toad. I had to be on the ball but it was fun!”

Question: How was it to fight Halle Berry? As we can see in the trailer this particular scene looks to be quite impressive!

Park: “It was nice. I got to know Halle better. It was good fun…she was up for it. The first time I saw her was in Boomerang. I was 15 and when I met her I thought ‘wow!’ She was fantastic.”

Question: As Darth Maul, you had very few lines, but a major character. Is that the same with Toad?

Park: Yes. I have more lines at the moment as Toad and it’s me…my voice, and that’s a big thing for me as well. It’s 4 bad guys this time…not just one.”

Question: How would you compare Toad with Darth Maul?

Park: Toad is evil, slimy, in your face, and out of your face real quick, but Darth is more arrogant, domineering, confident. They’re different characters”

Question: Who do you think could win in a fight: Toad or Darth Maul?

Park: That’s not fair! I’d be fighting with myself then!

In other X-Men news, the Daily Radar website recently published an interview with X-Men Composer Michael Kamen.  Accompanying the interview are two downloadable samples from the movie’s score.  The composer had this to say about the spirit and tone of the movie.  “I was trying to represent Bryan Singer’s filmic tone that he’s made, for a comic book, a quite serious movie, which is about the capacity of humanity to categorize people by race, religion or type, and prejudice people against them based on their innate characteristics.”

Thanks to X-Fan, Dark Horizons, and Corona Coming Attractions.

[Cyclops wearing Oakley's]

Fans interested in ordering a pair of ruby-lensed Oakleys like the ones worn by James Marsden in X-Men may now do so.  Oakley who provided the ruby shades for Cyclops in the movie is now selling the X-Men themed tie in product on their website.  Go to http://www.oakley.com/rubyjuliet/ for details, including some new images of Marsden in character. The specs carry a hefty $300 price tag.

Thanks to Scott Eubanks and Artemisboy for the tips.

G-MEN FROM HELL

[G-Men from Hell]

G-Men From Hell Producer Rick Albert has informed Comics 2 Film that Joann Richter plays the part of Avon (Cheetahman’s girlfriend) in the movie.  Richter may be known to comic book movie fans as one of two Wonder Woman wannabes in last year’s Mystery Men.

We had previously reported that Krista Allen had been cast in that role.  Allen had been considered for the part, but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts.

HULK

A recent write-up in The Hollywood Reporter reveals that new writers have been signed for Universal Pictures project Hulk and Green Hornet.  Michael Tolkin (Deep Impact) is now on board to pen the big screen version of the green goliath.  The article refers to the movie as “The Incredible Hulk” even though previously the working title was simply “Hulk”.

As far as Green Hornet goes, X-Men contributor and The Usual Suspects scribe Christopher McQuarrie is signed for that one.  The article reports that Jet Li will be playing “the title role.”

GHOST WORLD

The latest Fantagraphics e-mailer provided the following report on the Ghost World movie:

“The Ghost World film has wrapped shooting and Terry Zwigoff is now spending his time in the editing room, whittling footage down to a manageable masterpiece. Editing should be completed by the end of August or beginning of September, at which point MGM will set a release date for the picture, which stars Thora Birch, Scarlet Johanssen, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, David Cross, Teri Garr, Bruce Glover and others.

“Birch is currently in Cannes, France, promoting the film at the Cannes Film Festival. A 15-minute preview of the film is being shown to international distributors and interest has reportedly been strong.

“We were so starstruck by our visit to the Ghost World set last month that we basically forgot to take many pictures. We did, however, manage to snap a couple, and we’ve posted them on our website. Click the following link and then click ‘Ghost World Gallery’:

http://www.fantagraphics.com/artist/clowes/ghostfilm.html

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS

Rosario Dawson (Light it Up) has signed on a Val in the Josie and the Pussycats movie according to The Hollywood Reporter. Dawson joins Rachel Leigh Cook (who plays Josie) and Tara Reid (who plays Melody) as the third member of the titular pop band.  Parker Posey and Allan Cumming have also been signed to cause trouble for the girls

Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (Can’t Hardly Wait) will direct the Universal Pictures flick from their own screenplay.

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

In a related story C2F friend Stax just reviewed Kaplan and Elfont’s screenplay in his The Stax Report column.  He summarizes the review as “mixed with minor spoilers.”

SPAWN

Cinescape recently talked to Todd McFarlane about the future of Spawn in TV and Film.

McFarlane reports that work on the live-action sequel to Spawn is approaching a crossroads with New Line Cinema. “I got a call two days ago where they said that if you can cut about $6 million off the budget, that puts us closer to doing a go on this thing. Then, if not, I can trigger in my contract that I get the rights back later this year and I’ve got other studios that have told me ‘The day after you get those rights back, come and let’s talk about doing it,'” McFarlane told Cinescape.

McFarlane also said that he holds the rights to do more work on the animated version of the character.  He expects to begin work on a 90 minute animated feature in about 30-45 days.  The film would be offered first to HBO, but McFarlane is prepared to shop it around after that.

HARVEY

The Harvey Entertainment Company recently issued a their first quarter operating results for the year.  Included in the review were a couple of tidbits about Harvey movies and TV programs. Here are some interesting excerpts:

“Direct-to-Video: Harvey continues production on a new direct-to-video feature entitled Casper’s Haunted Christmas. This full-length CGI-based (computer generated animation) feature film is slated for release in November 2000 and is being co-produced with Mainframe Entertainment. Universal Home Video is the exclusive domestic home video distributor, and Harvey will oversee domestic sales for television, cable, pay-per-view and the Internet, as well as international licensing in all media.

“Television: In February 2000 Harvey entered into a licensing and co-production agreement with Studio B Productions for the worldwide development, production and exploitation of television episodes to be produced based on Harvey’s Wendy the Witch character. Harvey has closed several pre-sale agreements with international partners and is currently in pre-production on this series.”

PUNISHER

Producer Dana Windsor recently informed Cinescape that he hopes to develop a TV version of Marvel’s The Punisher. The producer told Cinescape, “I’ve been lobbying Marvel to get a green light to do a live action Punisher series for well over a year. The Sopranos has made mob oriented material very hot, which is the demographic I want to go after. The great thing about the Punisher is that he’s this pure force of vengeance. To steal a little from Jim Cameron, ‘He can’t be reasoned with, can’t be bargained with and he simply will not stop.’ If given the chance, I will keep the character very much in the Marvel Universe where he can interact with all his classic friends and foe, but the primary focus will be his all out war on organized crime to avenge the death of his family. With all the recent sizzle that Marvel has gotten, anything is possible.”

CROW

According to Dark Horizons, September 1 has been announced as the official release date for the upcoming The Crow: Salvation.  Comics2Film has not been able to verify this information.

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