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INFERNO, THE CLEANER, THE PROJECT, MIDNIGHT NATION

Top Cow has many projects on the radar right now. Spike Seldin, President of Production at the multimedia company gave Comics2Film a rundown of various film and TV projects that are further out on the horizon.

The Inferno comic books hit the shelves at comic book stores recently. The "dirty dozen goes to hell" concept was initially pitched as a screenplay by Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman who wrote the movie The Immortals. Top Cow picked the project up last summer to be developed as both a comic and a movie.

"The comic is getting a great response," Seldin told C2F. "We're in the process of writing that now with Joel Silver at Warner Bros."

The Cleaner is another co-development that's been with the Cow for over a year, also in development as both a comic and a movie. John Woo is attached to produce.

Seldin said part of the slowness with the project is the fact that it is one of many that has been on Woo's list to direct. "We're hoping John Woo will do it after the one he's doing right now," Seldin said.

Nick Falacci and Cheryl Heuton are currently banging out the script for that one.

Seldin tells us that Top Cow is still working with Alliance Atlantis on the long in-development The Project. Seldin expects to close a deal with producer Neal Moritz (XXX, Not Another Teen Movie) on that one soon.

Finally, although there's been interest in J. Michael Straczynski's Midnight Nation comic book Seldin reports that they are planning on letting the comic progress before pursuing other options.

"We're letting the issues come out. That's one that develops slowly in the comics," Seldin said. "We want to let the story come out before we go with it."

WONDER WOMAN

Comics2Film has learned that a new writer has been hired to take a pass at the screenplay for the Wonder Woman movie. However, our sources declined to name the new writer. Previous drafts of the script were penned by Todd Alcott (13 Ghosts) and Jon Cohen (Minority Report).

Our source did let us know that the latest writer will be qualified to give the Amazon heroine's big-screen story an appropriate woman's touch.

DAREDEVIL, ELEKTRA

[Jennifer Garner]Official confirmation of recent Daredevil casting appears in today's Variety and Hollywood Reporter trades. The trades report that Michael Clarke Duncan has signed to play the film's heavy: Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. the Kingpin.

Duncan recently appeared in Planet of the Apes, The Green Mile and The Whole Nine Yards.

The Hollywood Reporter write-up also reports that Jennifer Garner (Alias) is on board to play Elektra.

Ben Affleck has long been in place as the movie's lead.

In other DD news, Variety reports that the movie is targeted for a February 14, 2003 release.

LADY DEATH: THE ANIMATION

ADV Films has announced that production on the long-awaited feature film adaptation of Chaos! Comics' Lady Death is now set to begin. ADV has selected the production team that will be responsible for bringing the popular character to life. Co-producers Carl Macek and Andy Orjuela will soon travel to Asia to work with artists at SunMin Image Pictures Co., Ltd. under the supervision of director Young H. Sang, to begin the arduous process of creating the animation for this re-telling of the classic gothic heroine's origin.

The original screenplay, written by Macek, revisits the origin of Lady Death. According to press materials, the resulting script is a faithful adaptation of Chaos! Comics founder Brian Pulido's original story. New plot elements have been introduced and key characters have been re-designed by Orjuela to breathe new life into the property.

Executive Producer John Ledford hopes to create a new production model with Lady Death that redefines the relationship between Asian animation studios and Western creators. To these ends, creative elements such as design and storytelling are the domain of domestic talent while offshore "boutique" animation houses handle animation production services. Where the difference becomes most apparent is in the approach to animation.

"This is not an attempt to clone anime production techniques," Ledford said, "but rather a genuine effort to develop a new working relationship that respects the various talents of the entire creative team."

Macek, who has been a fixture in the animation industry for over 20 years thanks to his work as President of Streamline Pictures and story editor for Harmony Gold's influential eighties series, Robotech, is putting his considerable experience into the construction of this new animation model. The goal for Macek, who also serves as the director of Lady Death, is to define a production environment that draws from the best of both worlds.

"Over the last 10 years, Japanese animation techniques have become accepted norms around the world," Macek said, "thanks to the success of various television programs and video games, not to mention the huge number of animated programming available on home video. But what is apparent in any survey of anime is that, in many instances, it has become a case of style over substance. Working to take projects out of clichéd design cycles and produce a unique vision based on subject matter and core audience is key to ADV's plans."

Orjuela, who also served as co-producer and art director of ADV's first animation co-production, Sin, is a key factor in this process. As co-producer and art director of Lady Death, his responsibility is to fashion an original environment populated by unique characters that are both fresh and familiar at the same time.

"The fun part is getting to create a new world," Orjuela said, "and then having a staff of artists halfway across the globe put their own spin on it, with the resulting work strengthened and enhanced through genuine intellectual co-production. It's an exciting way to work."

Korean based SunMin Image Pictures' previous work includes Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles, The Maxx, and the Grammy award-winning music video "Do The Evolution" for Pearl Jam.

ADV provides this description for the movie: Lady Death tells the story of innocence betrayed and then reborn as a powerful elemental force capable of challenging the very roots of evil incarnate. Set in 15th Century Sweden, the film follows Hope, the beautiful daughter of Matthias - believed to be a skilled mercenary, but who in actuality is Lucifer, the Lord of Lies - who is accused of being the devil's consort following a hellish incident witnessed by a local priest. Ultimately, the mock inquisition sentences Hope to be burned at the stake. Unable to think clearly, she accepts Lucifer's offer of life in Hell - presented by the malevolent Pagan - over a hideously painful death. Lucifer's grand plan to pervert a pure soul meets unanticipated resistance, and Hope soon finds herself transformed into Lady Death. Together with the valiant outcast, Cremator, Lady Death challenges Lucifer's hell-spawned kingdom of darkness. The resulting conflict explores the depths of faith and love as an alternative to the corrupting power of evil.

ADV sees anime as the ideal medium for presenting the dark vision of Lady Death. The film will be produced as an all-digital, wide-screen feature-length film. The production will be designed to appear as traditional cel animation, but the work will be completed in a "paperless" environment. The process will allow the filmmakers to visualize the dark environments of the underworld and the even darker demons that populate with a palate of colors that are virtually impossible to achieve utilizing traditional animation techniques.

The actual production of Lady Death should take a year to complete. Along the way, ADV plans to continually update fans and industry insiders with glimpses of this unique production in various stages of completion.

"It's always interesting to get a peek behind the scenes of any production," Macek said. "It keeps interest high, and it creates a sense that something cool is coming our way."

Comics2Film will bring you more on Lady Death as the production develops.

SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

After months of rumors and hints Ultimate Spider-Man writer Brian Michael Bendis has come clean about his involvement with the upcoming Spider-Man animated TV show for MTV. Addressing fans on his Jinxworld message boards Bendis revealed new details about his involvement with the show.

"It's too early to go into a bunch of specifics, its not airing until the fall, but I can tell you that I am one of the executive producers and have written the pilot," Bendis said. "I am writing a smattering of episodes in the first season but not all of them."

As previously reported, the show will be CGI, but will not have the look of previous computer-animated programs. "You have never seen CGI like this. Forget what you are picturing. It does not look like that," Bendis told his readers. "Its using CGI to create a traditional and really spectacular Spider-man. Great character acting and animation."

The show will be based on the continuity established in the upcoming movie, and not on Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man comic book. However Bendis hopes to keep the Ultimate feel and tone intact. "What it means is that we are being very reverent to the characters, humor, and situations that make Spider-man the character that he is. And if we concocted something in Ultimate Spider-man that we feel worked, like, lets say, Kraven, an adaptation of it might pop up in the series."

The show is currently in production.

SPIDER-MAN, SPIDER-MAN 2

Speaking of Bendis and the web-slinger, Bendis told readers at his Jinxworld Message boards that he was recently treated to a preview screening of the new Spider-Man movie. Also in attendance were none other than Spider-Man creator Stan Lee and director Sam Raimi.

"First off- the movie is amazing," Bendis said. While he could not talk in detail he did add, "I was veeeerrrry happy with it and we all know what a movie snob I am. This is great stuff."

Bendis also reported that Lee seemed to dig the movie as well and talked about it with "gushing emotion."

Raimi told Bendis he's a big fan of Ultimate Spider-Man.

In other movie news, The Comics Continuum reports that Alfred Gough and Miles Millar "might be" the top candidates to pen the script for the sequel to the Spider-Man movie, should there be one.

The typically reliable Continuum cites unnamed sources who say the pair is in the mix. However, the information has not been confirmed with Marvel, Sony or the writers themselves at this point.

In other Spidey news, game maker Treyarch Corporation recently released some new stills and info about the Spider-Man: The Movie Game.

According to the website the game will sport "all-new aerial combat and maneuverability" which will have Spidey duking it out with the bad guys high over the city street. The Green Goblin, the Shocker and the Vulture are set to provide the conflict in the game, as are the all new experiment HK mech units compliments of Oscorp Industries.

Treyarch is a wholly subsidiary of Activision, who will be releasing the game this May. Activision announced last August that Treyarch would be developing the game for Sony PlayStation2, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Last December the Hollywood trades announced that director Stephen Norrington had signed on to helm The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for 20th Century Fox. The reports stated that Norrington wanted to move quickly on the film and cameras could begin rolling as early as March or April of this year.

Evidence of the commitment to move quickly on the project emerged in the form of a write-up in Friday's Hollywood Reporter. The trade reported that none other than Sean Connery is in early talks to appear in the film. There was no indication as to which character Connery is up for, except to say the he is "keen to star in the pic."

IGN FilmForce followed up the story with their own unnamed sources who claim that the part Connery is eyeing is that of Allan Quartermain. Their sources also state that Connery has been offered the part.

Connery appeared most recently in 2000's Finding Forrester and 1999's Entrapment.

BLADE II

New Line Cinema has released a number of publicity stills from the upcoming Blade II. The film looks to be even more action-packed than the original with Blade (Wesley Snipes) allying himself with a high-powered team of vampires to take on a greater evil than either has ever faced -- a new kind of super-vampire that is itself on a vicious hunt to eradicate both races.

The new images give fans a good look at the reapers: the super-vamp villains of the piece. In terms of artwork from the movie, there's plenty more to be had on the newly revamped Blade2.com. The site, which was recently previewed, contains dozens of productions stills, design drawings and commentary from director Guillermo del Toro (Mimic, The Devil's Backbone). You'll also find the trailer, desktop wallpaper and screensavers available for downloads, and a message board where you can chat with other vampire hunters.

A look at the site also reveals that the film's U.S. release date is set at March 22, 2002.

Produced by Amen-Ra films with Peter Frankfurt and Marvel Comics, Blade II is written by David Goyer. Co-starring are Kris Kristofferson, Norman Reedus, Leonor Varela, Danny John-Jules, Luke Goss, Matt Schulze, Daz Crawford, Tony Curran, and Ron Perlman.

MADMAN

Internet rumors that Viggo Mortensen has been cast as the lead role in the Madman movie are false.

Comics2Film did a quick fact check with Madman creator Mike Allred who told us that such casting would be awesome, "but we're no where near casting at this point."

Early this month Allred revealed to readers on his message boards that he and producer/director Robert Rodriguez definitely have Mortensen on their wish list. However, Rodriguez is currently busy getting Once Upon A Time in Mexico and Spy Kids 2 into theaters. Madman is expected to be his next project after that.

THE HULK (1980's TV SERIES)

It's been recently reported that the made-for-TV movies The Incredible Hulk Returns and The Trial of the Incredible Hulk are currently available on DVD in Canada and soon will be in the UK as well. But what about fans of the show in the United States?

Comics2Film has learned that the movies will be released by Anchor Bay Entertainment some time this year. The distributor has not yet set a specific date for the release.

Reportedly the liner notes for the Anchor Bay editions will be penned by our pal Andy Mangels. Mangels is an author and veteran genre entertainment journalist who is well acquainted with superhero fare like The Incredible Hulk. He recently did liner notes for the Elvira and Beastmaster DVDs as well as on disc supplements for Sleuth and Can't Stop The Music.

SMALLVILLE

He's resisted Lex Luthor's advances but it looks as if Jonathan Kent is ready to sell out the family farm to a pesticide baron on an upcoming episode of Smallville. Or perhaps he just needs a hug.

"Hug" is the title of the episode that airs February 5 at 9:00pm on The WB. Here is the synopsis for the episode provided by the frog net:

"Clark (Tom Welling) is stunned when a pesticide magnate who has kryptonite-enhanced powers of persuasion somehow convinces Jonathan (John Schneider) to sell the family farm to make way for a new plant. Clark teams up with the local hermit whose mysterious past holds the key to the town's future."

Doris Egan wrote the episode. Chris Long (Dark Angel) directed.

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

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

Next week on Witchblade, TNT's re-airing of season 1 continues with episode #2: "Conundrum".

The macabre murder of a model leads Sara (Yancy Butler) and Jake (David Chokachi) to fashion maven Dominique Boucher, where Sara discovers a startling connection between a top model and the Witchblade. When the model is abducted, Sara must use the Witchblade's powers to stop the killer before it's too late.

Conundrum airs Monday, February 4th at 9pm ET, with an encore airing on Tuesday, February 5th at 11pm ET.

KING CONAN: CROWN OF IRON

Cinescape recently caught up with Arnold Schwarzenegger who talked about his upcoming projects like Terminator 3 and King Conan. The movie is set to be written and directed by John Milius, who was responsible for the original. Larry and Andy Wachowski, the minds behind The Matrix, are on board as creative partners.

The actor reports that work is proceeding on the barbarian sequel. "I just had a cigar with John Milius the other day," said Schwarzenegger. "He's re-writing as we speak because he had written it; it was 168-page script and then the Wachowski brothers told him that the script would take too much time. It would be a three and a half hour movie and he should cut it down to 120-pages and take certain things out. So that's what he's doing right now. But as you know with John things take time. He's not the quickest guy in town. He smokes a stogie and then he writes a page and then he smokes another stogie."

BIRDS OF PREY

[Birds of Prey]In what looks to be a positive indicator for the Birds of Prey TV pilot, Jordan Levin of The WB Network told Cinescape that fans can look for the show on the fall schedule. Furthermore, Levin, the network's president of entertainment, made a broader endorsement of comic-based projects appearing on the frog net.

"Take Birds of Prey, for example. We're starting to go into casting right now and are [eyeing a] fall premiere," Levin told Cinescape adding, "and there are some other properties that we're playing around with, too."

Fans may have bristled at some of the strange (and seemingly arbitrary) tweaks made to the concept as were revealed by Comics2Film reports in December. Levin commented on the process of adapting comics for other media.

"I think it's important that it's accessible," Levin said. "I mean, I love comic books. I' m a comic book junkie, but that's a niche form of storytelling. I think that for broadcast television you have to balance the ability to not alienate that audience, but also make it accessible and bring in a new audience. I think that Smallville is successful in that largely."

In casting news, FilmJerk.com is the latest website to come across casting sides for the show.

The latest role being sought is that of Detective Jake Reese. The character is described as being a square-jawed, handsome and the youngest detective in Gotham City police history.

SCARY GODMOTHER

The Comics Continuum reports that work is continuing on an animated version of Jill Thompson's Scary Godmother with Mainframe Entertainment. The concept is being developed as a one-hour special that will launch a potential series.

Kim Dent Wilder, vice president, production at Mainframe told The Continuum that they aim to have the special out for Halloween this year.

For an in-depth look at the show, check out The Continuum's full write-up.

X-MEN 2

SCI FI Wire recently spoke with evil mutant Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, who stars in the upcoming Rollerball. Romijn-Stamos talked a bit about returning for the X-Men sequel.

"I'm excited, but I don't really know anything about it," the actress said of her role as Mystique. "I'm very curious to see what they come up with. I'm starting to get in shape, starting to work out a little bit and get myself ready for it. But I am curious to see what they come up with."

CORRECTION: In a recent article on X² filming locations we incorrectly stated that Toronto's Casa Loma was used for exteriors shots of Professor Xavier's school.

Chuck, from Toronto informs us that Casa Loma was actually used for interiors. Parkwood Mansion in Oshawa served as the exterior of the mutant academy.

Thanks for the info, Chuck!

GHOST WORLD

[Ghost World]The Slush Factory recently posted a nice review of the Ghost World DVD. The write up goes into detail about the merits of the film before going over the specifics of the DVD presentation.

Slush Factory gives the DVD high marks in the technical department, praising the wide-screen transfer, "perfectly rendered" colors and the clean soundtrack.

Unfortunately, the disc also appears to be lacking in the DVD extras that movie aficionados have come to expect. Ghost World provides a mere four alternative/deleted scenes, a ten minute-long featurette, a trailer and a music video. Sadly, the disc does not provide a commentary track.

One wonders why MGM didn't include some of the amusing shorts and other materials previously published by Daniel Clowes on his Ghost World movie site

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Although the original January schedule for Cartoon Network called for only encores of previously aired Justice League episodes, the revised schedule saw the airing of part 1 of "Paradise Lost" this past Monday night. The episode focuses on Wonder Woman and features Felix Faust as the villain. Repeat showings of that episode are set to air Friday and Sunday for anyone who missed it.

Here is the current January and February Justice League schedule provided by Cartoon Network. Please note that, after January the Justice League schedule starts to deviate from the previous Monday, Friday, Sunday pattern, with new days and times for both debut and encore showings:

CATWOMAN

In a report detailing the recent career moves of producer Ed McDonnell, Variety reveals that McDonnell is a producer on the Catwoman movie. Ashley Judd is set to star in the film, which spins out of the Batman movie franchise and loosely adapts the comic book character. John Rogers (Mage) wrote the script.

McDonnell is starting his own production company under the name Maple Shade Films. He was previously president of Di Novi Pictures where he produced Original Sin and A Walk To Remember and began the Catwoman project.

McDonnell will have offices on the Warner Bros. lot, where he has a three-year exclusive first-look deal.

BULLETPROOF MONK

Michael Stevens at Sneak Peek tells us that filming on Bulletproof Monk will begin in Toronto on March 2, 2002. The info comes from the Ontario Media Development Corporation Media list.

Stunt rehearsals and choreography work with the actors began last week. The movie stars Chow Yun Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Seann William Scott (Evolution) and James King (Blow).

THE HULK

X-Men Chamber death header
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