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IRISH MCCALLA: TV'S ORIGINAL SHEENA DIES

[Sheena]Variety reports that actress Irish McCalla, best known for her role as TV's Sheena: Queen of the Jungle in the 1950's died February 1 of a brain tumor in a Tucson convalescent hospital. She was 72.

One Comics2Film reader, said he was greatly saddened by the news. "Irish had great integrity and that is what made her the definitive Sheena to me," Frank said.

Aside from Sheena the acress guest-starred on numerous shows including 77 Sunset Strip and appeared in movies such as River Goddesses, She Demons, The Beat Generation and Five Gates to Hell.

Following her acting career McCalla became a successful painter, specializing in Old West subjects.

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JEREMIAH

Oftentimes with comic book adaptations, the star of the show may be flashy special effects, a hot character or even a well-known star in the lead. With Showtime's upcoming Jeremiah the main attraction is the show's writer/showrunner/executive producer J. Michael Straczynski. Straczynski has long been a fan favorite due to his hit television series Babylon 5 and his work in comics including Rising Stars for Top Cow and Amazing Spider-Man for Marvel.

Jeremiah's executive producer, Scott Rosenberg of Platinum Studios is also among his fans. "I had always been a fan of Joe's since Babylon 5," Rosenberg said. "I had watched every episode of B5, and I loved his work. I started literally chasing him to get him involved in the project."

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As strong as the fan reaction to B5 is, Straczynski promises that Jeremiah is something different. "This is, I think, overall, a much darker show, a much more serious show," Straczynski said. "We can use, thanks to Showtime, language we could never use on Babylon 5."

While the Showtime series will definitely have an edge, the showrunner was attracted to another element. "What brought me to it was a chance to create a series which is a turn on what you normally see: a post-apocalyptic series about hope, which is like trying to design a submersible cat. You know, the two don't work together really well usually."

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The series takes place in the year 2020, fifteen years after an event called "the Big Death": a virus that wipes out everyone over the age of 13. Jeremiah explores the trap of tertiary technology.

"You dig a hole in the ground and bring up water from a well. That's basic level-one technology," Straczynski explains. "You build a steam engine, it breaks down, it's not a problem; it's all fixable right there on the spot: level-two technology.

"Level-three technology is a Palm Pilot or the computer in your car. If you blow a transistor, you can't fix it yourself. You're screwed."

The focus of the show is not simply on technological challenges of survival. What are some other themes of the show? "How is justice meted. Who is developing cultures," Straczynski said. "We have one group that decides we're going to run the world and it's going to go our way; the military, perhaps, what's left over from that. You've got a religious cult over here that wants to do it their way. You've got the Skinheads. You really sort of divide the culture up. And the essence of the show is what will the future world look like, and who will decide that."

The show's star and executive producer Luke Perry adds, "In doing so, we get to raise a lot of interesting questions about right and wrong and why people do the things they do. And what other choices could possibly have been made."

Straczynski wrote about half the episodes of the show. Sam Egan (another executive producer) penned the other half.

"He's a very talented writer with a very distinct voice of his own," Perry said of Egan. "I find that he and Joe really bring a good balance to one another in the show."

However, Straczynski's work on the pilot episode made an immediate impact on Showtime and MGM Television. "They loved Joe's take on the story," says Rosenberg. "Joe then wrote a script for the pilot, which they loved."

In fact, Showtime loved the pilot script so much, the committed to a series order before the pilot was even filmed.

Jeremiah debuts with a two-hour movie on March 3 at 8:00 p.m. on Showtime. Following that it falls into its regular time-slot on Fridays at 10:45 p.m. as part of the network's Sci-Friday line-up.

Although we've received many inquiries from Canadian readers, so far C2F has been unable to determine if and when the show will air in that market. Presumably Showtime has plans to distribute the show internationally, but it appears the current focus is on the U.S. debut of Jeremiah.

Similarly a number of Canadian readers have expressed disappointment that they cannot have their asses kicked in the "win an ass kicking contest" being used to promote the show. A read of the contest rules suggest that Showtime is only interested in kicking American ass. Or could it be that they are not sure if they could kick Canadian ass?

C2F will have more details as they become available.

CROSSGEN

[CrossGen]CrossGeneration Comics, Inc. has announced that they've entered into a contract with Nancy Newhouse Porter, Chair of the Entertainment & New Media Group of the law firm of Weston, Benshoof, Rochefort, Rubalcava and MacCuish, to serve as their entertainment attorney. Newhouse Porter will team with Michael Uslan of Branded Entertainment to represent CrossGen in the areas of film, television and other new media.

CrossGen will bethe only comic book company that Newhouse Porter will be working with inthis capacity.

Newhouse Porter's experience in the entertainment industry includes six years in business development for The Walt Disney Company, and she is most known in Hollywood for her representation of Academy Award-winner John Lasseter in connection with his Toy Story directing deal. She has devoted a significant amount of her practice to representing the key filmmakers of animated hits such as Antz, A Bug's Life, Tarzan, Shrek, and Monsters, Inc. as well as several upcoming animated films from Disney, DreamWorks, Fox, Universal., Sony, Paramount and others.

Newhouse Porter has substantial experience representing prominent talent, such as writers, directors and other high level artists and executives in the animation and digital production field, as well as the traditional live-action medium. She also represents clients in all aspects of the growing field of "new media"; in particular, digital production, visual effects, computer-generated animation and traditional animation in feature film, television, interactive media and Internet-based distribution outlets.

In an article from the August 9, 1999 issue of California Law Week, Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the heads of DreamWorks, SKG commented on his business relationship with Newhouse Porter.

"I love her because she's smart, talented and wise," Katzenberg was quoted as saying in the article. "And I hate her because she's so good at what she does. Nancy has made an extraordinary investment of effort to understand what it takes to make an animated movie and what artists do."

Mark Alessi, CEO and Publisher of CrossGeneration Comics, said he was impressed after only his first meeting with Newhouse Porter.

"We are extremely fortunate to have added Nancy to our exclusive entertainment licensing team to work alongside Michael Uslan and Branded Entertainment, our film development partner," Alessi said. "Together, she and Michael are the A-Team of film and television licensing and production. Between them, they have worked on some of the most successful entertainment franchises in the world, and now they are flexing their considerable muscle for CrossGen. You won't believe what we'll be announcing soon, based in large part on Michael and Nancy's efforts."

Last October CrossGen announced an unprecedented, long-range agreement with Branded Entertainment to shepherd their comic book properties into film and television. At the time Tony Panaccio, CrossGen's vice president of product development called the endeavor, "a flexible agreement that will greatly enhance CrossGen's ability to place projects directly into production and leap-frog the waiting game that plagues many comic book-related properties that are optioned by studios, but never produced."

The CrossGen Comics, The First, Mystic, Sigil, Scion, Meridian, Crux, Sojourn, Ruse, and Negation are available now in comic book specialty stores everywhere, with a different one on sale each Wednesday. Their next monthly title, The Path, will be in stores on February 27, 2002, followed by Way of the Rat, coming in April.

THE ELTINGVILLE CLUB

Comics2Film readers heard it hear first a week ago, but Cartoon Network made it official this week. The net announced yesterday that Evan Dorkin's pilot Welcome to Eltingville will air in March as part of the Adult Swim programming block.

The show features the members of the Eltingville Club (described by Cartoon Network as "comic book lovers, sci-fi geeks, model collectors and role playing game fans") as they engage in a trivia battle for the right to pay an inflated price for a mint-condition Boba Fett action figure.

The 30 minute show will air on Sunday, March 3 at 11:00 p.m. Watch it!

SUPERNATURAL LAW

[Supernatural Law]Development on the movie version of Batton Lash's Supernatural Law continues. Sources at Stampede Entertainment told Comics2Film that Nick Marine has completed the first draft of the script, which has been delivered to Universal Pictures.

Marine came on the project last summer after pitching his treatment on the material.

The movie and comic features Wolff and Byrd, two lawyers who specialize in monstrous and macabre clients.

GHOST WORLD

[Daniel Clowes]The movie version of Daniel Clowes' Ghost World has enjoyed tremendous critical recognition since its release last summer. Now the movie has received a nomination from the most prestigious of all movie awards bodies: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Clowes and director Terry Zwigoff have been nominated in the category of Adapted Screenplay for their Ghost World script.

On Oscar night the pair will be vying with some stiff competition for the award. Also nominated were Akiva Goldsman for A Beautiful Mind, Rob Festinger and Todd Field for In the Bedroom, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman and Roger S.H. Schulman for Shrek.

Prior to the Oscar nomination the writer, director and actors from Ghost World have received 16 nominations from other organizations. Star Thora Birch has collected two awards in Best Actress categories while co-stars Steve Buscemi and Scarlett Johansson have each picked up a trophy for their work in the movie. Clowes and Zwigoff have also collected a screenplay award and Zwigoff has previously taken home a directors award. The movie itself won Best Picture from the San Diego Film Critics Society.

Ghost World was released on DVD and VHS earlier this month.

BLADE II

New Line Cinema has rolled out another new Blade 2 trailer. The new clip sets up the storyline better than previous teasers.

Check it out in crisp, glorious QuickTime at http://www.ap ple.com/trailers/newline/blade_2-tlr2.html. Smaller versions of the trailer are also available on the official Blade 2 website. Likewise, a nice clean copy of last week's Super Bowl ad can be found there.

Thanks to Ain't It Cool for the lead.

BIRDS OF PREY

The new Gotham Clock Tower website reports that they've confirmed the casting of Oracle and The Huntress in the Birds of Prey TV pilot movie.

Dina Meyer is set to play former Batgirl Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Oracle in the movie. Meyer recently appeared in the Secret Agent Man TV series and was also a bat-girl in the feature film Bats. She may be best remembered as the tragic Private Dizzy Flores in Starship Troopers. She'll next be seen in Star Trek: Nemesis.

GCT also reports that Ashley Scott is confirmed as The Huntress. Scott can be seen in the recurring role of Asha in Dark Angel. She was also quite eye-catching as Gigolo Jane in A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Monday's Hollywood Reporter tells us that Rachel Skarsten has been cast in the role of Black Canary in the pilot. The 17 year-old actress has previously been seen in the TV movie Angels in the Infield and the TV shows Twice in a Lifetime and The Famous Jett Jackson.

Thanks to Elfman, Gotham Clock Tower and Zap2It.com for the lead

DAREDEVIL, ELEKTRA

Director Mark Steven Johnson recently chatted up WizardWorld. com regarding the Daredevil movie. The writer/director talked about all the recent casting decisions.

With regards to Michael Clarke Duncan as Kingpin, Johnson said, "The whole point is, that a fight between Daredevil and the Kingpin has to be the ultimate showdown. The audience has to believe that even after fighting Elektra, even after fighting Bullseye, well-you ain't seen nothing yet. This is the main event."

Johnson also praised Jennifer Garner, who recently came on board as Elektra, as "a real actress."

For Johnson's complete comments about Duncan, Garner and Colin Farrell as Bullseye, check out WizardWorld.com.

In other Daredevil news SC I FI Wire chatted with Colin Farrell about the role of Bullseye. "I can't wait," the actor told SCI FI Wire about the movie. "I can't wait. I'm just going

to enjoy that one, man. It's going to be a good time."

About the character Farrell adds, "I'm going to have a laugh doing it. He's a fairly one-dimensional character who is just bad to the bone. I'm just going to get up there, be as bad as I can and enjoy it as much as possible."

Farrell was not familiar with Bullseye, or even Daredevil, before taking the part. Comics aren't as big in Ireland as they are in America, the actor reports.

THE HULK

Corona Coming Attractions got an earful of Hulk movie news from an anonymous scooper yesterday. The scooper visited the Berkley Constitution hoping to get some photos of the sets that will be used on the movie. Although tight security prevented the curious fan from seeing anything of interest, associate producer David Womark did speak to the crowd that had gathered.

Womark could not say much about the movie although he did comment on the music score. Womark revealed that John Williams is not providing the music for the film due to scheduling conflicts. Instead Mychael Danna, who previously teamed with director Ang Lee on The Ice Storm, is said to be taking on the role of composer for the film.

Incidentally Lee and Danna also worked together on the BMW Films online short Chosen which featured a guest-appearance by the green-skinned goliath.

In other Hulk news: Beau Bonneau Casting has posted an announcement on their website calling for extras to appear in the movie. The site informs interested actors that casting will begin on the movie in March.

Thanks to Aint-It-Cool-News for pointing the way.

Meanwhile, Moviehole.net recently excerpted some quotes from Eric Bana's interview with Empire Magazine. Bana is, of course, set to play Dr. Bruce Banner in The Hulk.

"I can't give too much away, but The Hulk is not the size of a human being. I play both but I can't say how we do that. I'm meant to look like a scientist though" Bana told Empire.

Bana also reiterated that director Ang Lee hopes to infuse the movie with a great deal of depth. "I don't know if he's a comic buff. I think he's just incredibly interested in making soulful pictures and I think he sees The Hulk as potentially being that in a comic style and I think he probably figures that it hasn't been done like that before."

The actor feels Hulk doesn't follow the usual super-hero paradigm. "I think that part of the fascination with that character is the fact that The Hulk is the only reluctant superhero," Bana is quoted as saying. "The Hulk has no control whatsoever - and for me that's an awesome prospect."

For more quotes pick up Empire Magazine or check out Moviehole.net

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

IGN FilmForce has confirmed with top-secret sources that Sean Connery has definitely signed to play Allan Quartermain in the big screen version of Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

BULLETPROOF MONK

Last weekend model-turned-actress James King appeared on the E! cable channel's Sizzlin' 16 show. A brief mention was made of King's upcoming comic book movie Bulletproof Monk which also stars Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott.

King commented saying, "It's a Matrix-y kind of movie."

The actors are currently assembled for fight and wire-training. Cameras are set to roll on the film next month in Toronto.

WARNER BROS. PROJECTS

An article from yesterday's New York Times discusses new business strategies at Warner Bros. which involve views movies as product lines. The studio plans to continue, and even accelerate, making big budget franchise pictures and then milking potential toy, TV and other spin-offs as much as possible.

Not surprisingly, the studios stable of comic book properties are mentioned. The article discusses Batman specifically, touching on the Batman: Year One movie as well as Batman Vs. Superman. Interestingly the article also mention that a script is being developed " in which Batman is an older, more embittered crime fighter." This could be a reference to the Batman Beyond live-action movie. The article doesn't provide any additional details.

Also mentioned are Superman, Wonder Woman and Catwoman.

SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK 2, IRON FIST

Fans who enjoyed the Spidey Super Bowl Pre-Game Show Trailer may be curious to know what the music is on the clip. According to Dark Horizons the music from the ad is "Hell above Water," a track from Curve's CD "The Gift."

Dark Horizons also reports that Curve's music populated much of the X-Men movie promos.

The Comics Continuum reports that, as part of their promotion of the movie, Dr. Pepper will hold a sweepstakes. The grand prize for 50 winners will be a trip for two to an exclusive, insider party in New York.

Other prizes include Spider-Man T-shirts and caps, video libraries and movie tickets, and Dr Pepper 12-packs.

In a Friday Hollywood Reporter article on Tinsel Town's aging cast of action heroes, two upcoming comic book flicks are mentioned.

Patrick Gunn, executive VP at Artisan looks to Ray Park to lead the charge with the currently-in-development Iron Fist. "What makes a good action star today is different from 10 years ago. We're looking for people who can play strong, intelligent characters and people who are more identifiable to audiences -- not just buffed-up guys," Gunn told The Reporter. "The characters have become bigger than the stars who play them in many cases, and as a result, it's become less about the actor and much more about the story and character."

The VP continued, "Movies like Iron Fist are not about a dominant super-powerful hero but rather about a guy people can relate to with special skills. Action movies have become as much about watching someone become a hero as they are about what happens once they are a hero."

Not surprisingly, unlikely super-hero Tobey Maguire was also discussed. We probably don't need to mention that Maguire is starring in a little summer pic called Spider-Man.

"Tobey was the perfect Peter Parker because he's such a fine actor," Columbia Pictures president of production Peter Schlessel said. "He was able to play the nerdy-looking high school kid before the spider bite just as well as he was able to play Peter after the bite."

Bring on the new heroes!

There's plenty of cool new content on the official Spider-Man website this week.

First up is a video interview with the film's fight choreographer Chuck Jeffreys. The interview is intercut with clips of Jeffreys and other trainers working with stars Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe on their moves.

Jeffreys reveals that the fighting style he developed for the movie was intentionally not in the style of martial arts. "I'm trying to make a style of fighting for Spider-man, a style of fighting for the Green Goblin that fit their characters. Green Goblin being a little more feisty and in your face and Spidey being a crafty and stealthy."

[Happy Valentines Day]Romantic Spidey fans can also send a Valentine's day e-card to that special someone. The new e-card features an up-close look at the famous upside-down kiss between Spider-Man and Mary Jane.

In other Spidey marketing news: Hot on the heels of their ambitious 2001 release schedule, Serious USA, Inc. announced yesterday their officially licensed CD Cardz 2002 roster based on this summer's hottest filmed entertainment properties. Topping the list are comic book movie adaptations Spider-Man and Men In Black II.

"Serious has acquired the licensing rights to this year's best filmed entertainment properties and we are thrilled to offer CD Cardz based on this prestigious line-up of summer titles, " said Pamela Henning, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Communications for Serious USA, Inc. "We will have additional marquis titles to announce in the coming weeks in the entertainment space as we begin to build our sports and music catalogues."

Serious USA produces collectable, interactive CD Cardz(TM), the latest in portable and affordable digital entertainment products. Serious CD Cardz are packed with image galleries, episode highlights, movie trailers, character profiles, puzzles, and sound effects and they interact with the Internet. The rectangular CD-ROMs -- similar in size to baseball cards -- are both Windows and Mac compatible and mark the introduction of digital collectibles without the headaches of additional software and hardware installation.

Other licensed films included in this year's new CD Cardz sets include The Scorpion King, Stuart Little 2 and Spy Kids 2.

SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

The Comics Continuum reports that Marsha Griffin will serve as story editor and writer for the upcoming Spider-Man animated show. Griffin has previously served on Starship Troopers, Max Steel and (who can forget) Shannon Denton's Astro Aces.

Other writers for the show Brian Michael Bendis (also executive producing), Marty Isenberg and Kevin Hopps.

X-MEN: EVOLUTION

The WB network has given an early renewal to X-Men: Evolution according to today's Variety. Also picked up for the 2002-2003 season were Pokemon: Master Quest, Jackie Chan Adventures, The Mummy: Secrets of the Medjai and Rescue Heroes: Global Response Team.

According to the write-up all the shows outperformed the competition in key demographics.

The net ordered 13 episodes of X-Men.

COMIC MOVIE TOYS

Movie Toys are hot again according to a Reuters article, and Spider-Man is expected to be among the hottest.

Although toy vendors are anticipating good performance from the latest Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings toys, heavy competition will spin out of this summer's movies. Spider-Man, Scoobie Doo, the Power Puff Girls, Men in Black and Spy Kids are all on the way with a host of tie-in products in tow.

Spider-Man toys are expected to perform well based on the high-level of recognition of the character. "Parents grew up with Spider-Man," said Russell Brown, a Marvel spokesman. "They know what he stands for, which is good over evil, and that is a good message for little kids."

The article also reports that more Marvel toys are expected in 2003 to coincide with the releases of Daredevil, Hulk and X-Men 2.

THE ARCHIES, JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS (LIVE BAND)

Archie Comics recently announced plans to create pre-fab music groups based on their comic book character bands The Archies and Josie and the Pussycats.

Lou Pearlman, the music mogul behind Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and ABC/MTV's Making The Band will be working with Archie Entertainment and Strauss Zelnick of Zelnickmedia to create the new comic based combos.

According to the the Archie website these new bands will be making recordings, going on tours, and making live action and animated television shows and movies. A nationwide talent search will begin shortly.

OSAMU TEZUKA'S METROPOLIS

The epic Anime feature Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis opened in limited release this week in U.S. theaters. Sony Pictures is running the film in Japanese with newly-translated subtitles.

In addition, ICv2.com reports that a special edition DVD will be of the film will be released on March 12. The package will contain two discs: your normal sized DVD with the movie and a special 3-inch mini-DVD holding an hour's worth of extras.

Metropolis was created by Osamu Tezuka, who may be best known to American anime fans as the creator of AstroBoy. The film is directed by Rintaro who directed episodes of the AstroBoy TV show as well as the feature Galaxy Express 999. Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame penned the screenplay.

Visit Sony's Metropolis website for more details.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 1 & 2

Michael Steven of the Sneak Peek website recently posted an account of his day of work as an extra on the set of Witchblade.

Stevens was apparently on the set on Tuesday for day 3 filming of episode #202, "Destiny." David Carson (The 10th Kingdom) is the director on that episode.

The shoot took place at a Toronto warehouse that served as a NYC bar called "The Lock and Key Club." Stevens served to break the fall of a thug who gets roughed-up by series star and blade-wielder Yancy Butler.

Check out Stevens' account for the complete story.

Thanks to Dex!

Next week on Witchblade, TNT's re-airing of season 1 continues with episode #4: "Sacrifice".

While investigating a ritual killing, Sara (Yancy Butler) is strangely drawn to her prime suspect, sexy Irish folk singer, Conchobar. Can Sara put aside her feelings and use the Witchblade to unravel the case before the killer strikes again?

Sacrifice" airs Monday, February 18th at 9pm ET on TNT. An encore airing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19th at 11pm ET. The encore showing is presented in widescreen format.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Cartoon Network gives Justice League a small break this week as it transitions over to its new schedule. A repeat of "Paradise Lost Part 2" is scheduled for Saturday, February 23 with the widescreen presentation showing at 10:00 p.m. the same day.

SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH

R&B star Usher guest-stars on the upcoming "I Think I Love You" episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

When Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) can't find her own voice to tell Josh (David Lascher) she loves him, she turns to the Other Realm's relationship guru, the "Love Doctor" (Usher), who instructs her that she must be honest and truthful with Josh about her true identity before she can say the "L" word. Bill Layton directed the episode written by Barry Vigon & Tom Walla.

"I Think I Love You" airs Friday, February 15 at 8:00 p.m. on The WB Network.

Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.

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