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WITCHBLADE SEASON 2, THE DARKNESS

Comic publisher Top Cow has been positioning itself as a major player in Hollywood over the past few years. With many irons in the fire, Marc Silvestri and company have big plans for 2002 and beyond. Comics2Film chatted with Spike Seldin, President of Production at Top Cow about what fans can expect.

Although much of what they are doing is based on the Top Cow comics, Seldin tells us their hottest project right now is not. "The A-Team is our biggest thing. It's going to be an updated version, action/comedy with big-time stars," Seldin said.

The project follows in the footsteps of other franchises that successfully spun out of TV shows. "It'll be a big-budget movie," Seldin told C2F. "A lot like what they did with Mission: Impossible and Charlie's Angels, we're going to do with the A-Team.

Kevin Brodbin, who wrote an early draft of Constantine is writing the screenplay, which is due in soon.

Cameras roll on season two of Witchblade this month in Toronto.

[Witchblade]"The entire cast is back. It all looks good. TNT is behind it with all its support," Seldin said. "We think it's going to be bigger this year than it was last year."

We asked about hints from Comic-Con that the show might gradually change to a look that's more in line with the comics. Seldin downplayed the notion but did say, "I think you'll see gradual adjustments or change as the series grows, but it will stay organic to the story plot as that develops as well."

The other major Top Cow property that's been languishing in development hell should break out soon. Seldin told C2F to expect big announcements on a feature film version The Darkness some time this year.

The project had previously been set up at Sony/Columbia with Andrew Lau (The Storm Riders) attached to direct from a script by Chris Morgan. However, at this point the project is no longer at that studio Top Cow is starting over creatively.

"The Darkness is such a crown jewel for the company, Seldin told us. The reason the project seems to have slowed down is that Top Cow is proceeding cautiously with it. "We're only going to let it go if we think its exactly right property. This is one that if we put it together we want it to go straight into production."

Seldin could not name names but he did tell C2F that they're in talks with a star about headlining the film.

Look for more about Top Cow projects here soon.

MADMAN

[Madman]Madman creator Mike Allred tells Comics2Film that a big-screen version of his snappy character is very much on the radar of filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez purchased the option on the character back in 1999 with the intention of writing, directing and producing the movie.

It looked to be the project he would do following Spy Kids, but the success of that movie had the studio clamoring for a quick sequel while the Spy Kids were still kids. In between those two movies Rodriguez also filmed Once Upon a Time in Mexico, the third film in his El Mariachi cycle.

However, Allred is hopeful that Madman will be the next movie Rodriguez makes. "[Madman is] still on Robert's agenda I'm happy to report," Allred told us. "But he'll be in post production on the two films for most of the new year I'm sure. Spy Kids 2 has an August release date."

Allred also shared a bit of dreamcasting with readers on his message boards. In a recent posting Allred told his fans that he things Viggo Mortensen would be fantastic for the lead role of the Madman movie. "After seeing The Lord of the Rings (the first time) I suggested Viggo to Robert for our dream list (we've fewer than a dozen fellas to consider)," the comic creator wrote. "We've similar lists for Joe and others characters."

Fans won't have to wait for Madman to see an Allred/Rodriguez collaboration on the big-screen. "Our 8 year old daughter, Kelby, will have a brief cameo as a Spy Kid," Allred said. Fans of The Atomics may also recognize Kelby as the creator of "Mook", a character who appeared in later issues of the series.

DOCTOR JUSTICE

Galfo Films Entertainment has announced plans to develop the best-selling French comic strip superhero Doctor Justice for TV and film. Galfo has joined forces with the Canada-based Cinegroupe to develop the concept as either a live-action and animated TV series and a major feature film.

Doctor Justice is based on the strip Docteur Justice by French cartoonists Jean Ollivier and Raphaël Marcello. The title character is a humanitarian hero, an expert in martial arts and a dedicated defender of the human rights and environmental rights. According to the press release, "the adventures of Doctor Justice have inspired millions of young readers for more than two decades all over Europe and is the perfect representation of a new kind of hero."

The character was also the subject of a 1975 French/Spanish film.

Cinegroupe is known for such recent TV fare as Galidor, Big Wolf on Campus and Ripping Friends.

Galfo reports that humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Greenpeace, Unicef, and Doctors Without Borders have already expressed their support for the character and to help make Doctor Justice, "the superhero of the new millennium and a true inspiration for young children and teenagers."

Fans can visit DoctorJustice.com to learn more about the humanitarian superhero.

THE TERROR

Fans who heard last year about the the Todd McFarlane produced TV show called The Terror may be wondering what has happened to the project. The show was in development over a year ago with Paramount TV and the UPN network.

Terry Fitzgerald, President of Todd McFarlane Entertainment, and producer on the show tells us that The Terror is still a possibility. "We are talking about taking it elsewhere while keeping the studio attached," Fitzgerald said. The project is no longer targeted for the UPN network.

LIBERTY MEADOWS

[Liberty Meadows]Will fans of Frank Cho's Liberty Meadows ever see an animated version of the comic? Could be, according to Cho. The comic creator recently participated in an online chat at WashingtonPost.com in which he talked about becoming a new father, moving Liberty Meadows from comic strip to comic book format and the art of cartooning.

When asked if he planned to animate Libetry Meadows Cho replied, "Yes, I do still have plans to animate the characters for television."

However, Cho stated that he is currently not committed to any animation deals. "There were several offers in the past, but the issue of control was a deal-breaker," Cho told his fans. "So it's fair to say that if the right offer came along, I'd take it. If I thought newspapers were restrictive, television is even more so to a certain degree."

Thanks to Michael Rhode of Comics Research Bibliography for the lead.

DAREDEVIL, ELEKTRA

On Thursday night of last week Avi Arad caused a buzz on the internet by telling E! News Daily that the role of Elektra in the Daredevil movie had been cast and announcements were imminent.

Late Friday Comics2Film followed up with Kevin Feige, senior vice president at Marvel Studios. Feige told C2F that the announcement was premature and the role had not yet been filled.

Buzz continued to build this week among internet movie sites. Stax at IGN FilmForce, who has consistently provided reliable reporting on the film ran the recent Jennifer Garner rumor past his sources.

For those who didn't see it, on the weekend Ain't It Cool claimed that Garner has been cast in the part. Garner is the 29-year-old star of the hit TV show Alias.

However FilmForce's sources corroborate what Feige told Comics2Film: the role of Elektra has not yet been filled. The unnamed source did admit that Garner is up for the part. "There is no deal, only interest from both sides. ... Let me reiterate, she has not been set yet."

Further, FilmForce reports that actresses were still being screen-tested as recently as last week.

SUPERMAN

Corona Coming Attractions reports persistent rumors that director Joseph McGinty Nichol (popularly known as McG) will man the helm for the planned Superman movie. The site first floated the rumor months ago. Now, corroboration comes from Premiere Magazine.

According to Corona's latest write-up, Premiere lists McG as having signed to direct the film. The magazine also lists a number of actresses who are supposedly interested in the role of Lois Lane.

Corona was not able to confirm the information with independent sources.

McG scored big with the fun, fluff-fest Charlie's Angels in 2000.

SMALLVILLE

It looks like Smallville fans will have to weather another rerun in January. Although a new episode called "Rogue" will air on the 15th, the WB plans to air a repeat the week after. On January 22nd the network will air an encore showing of "Craving."

The episode features a weight obsessed teen whose diet of kryptonite-infected veggies turns her into an eating machine. Her next meal: Clark's pal Pete Ross!

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

THE TICK

Fate has dealt us a cruel bout of Family Guy this week, but fear not Tick fans: the big, blue bug of justice returns next week with an all new episode.

On January 17th at 8:30 p.m. Fox will air "The Tick vs. Justice". In this episode, when Batmanuel backs into the car of villain Destroyo, he, The Tick and Arthur discover a treasure-trove of weapons in his trunk. The three go to court to testify against Destroyo, and The Tick winds up in jail in contempt of court. Meanwhile, Captain Liberty is asked to guard the villain while he is in custody, and he ends up chipping away at her confidence a la 'Hannibal Lecter' to Clarice in Silence of the Lambs.

Destroyo is played by Kurt Fuller who appeared in Scary Movie and That's My Bush.

Thanks to Evil Eye and mkidera for the info.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

The Comics Continuum reports that the episode of Justice League called "Legends" will have a large cast of guest voices. The episode features the Justice Guild of America, a team of "golden age" heroes that serves at the Cartoon Network surrogate for the Justice Society of America.

Guest voices include Jeffrey Jones (Howard the Duck), William Katt (The Greatest American Hero), Udo Kier (Blade), Ted McGinley (Pearl Harbor), Michael McKean (Clerks: The Animated Series), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London) and Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers).

BULLETPROOF MONK

According to Dark Horizons the cast of Bulletproof Monk begins six weeks of stunt training on Monday. The course will provide fight and flight training for the martial arts pic.

Filming is said to begin on February 18th.

Bulletproof Monk stars Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) Seann William Scott (Evolution) and James King. Music Video director Paul Hunter is set to helm from a script by Cy Voris and Ethan Reiff (Demon Knight: Tales From the Crypt).

In related news, the excellent UpcomingMovies.com reports that the movie is tentatively slated for a Fall 2002 release.

SPIDER-MAN

The Hollywood Reporter gives a rundown of the licensing partnerships struck by Sony for the Spider-Man movie.

Dr Pepper, Hardee's restaurants and Hershey's are all on board as promotional partners for the movie. The article states that the deal means an estimated $18-20 million in means support for Columbia Pictures.

Dr. Pepper will run 30-second TV commercials featuring Spidey from April-July. Consumers will also be able to purchase the soda in collectible cans with movie artwork on them. A sweepstakes is planed with the grand prizes being special screenings and Spider-Man party invites. Other prizes include movie tickets, videos and Dr Pepper merchandise.

They'll also support the movie with print ads, a dedicated Internet site, Spidey-related point-of-sale materials and a sweepstakes. Expect cans of Dr. Pepper soda to appear in the movie.

Hardee's replaces Taco Bell as the fast-food sponsor of the movie. Taco Bell dropped out as part of the restaurant chain's efforts to focus on food over promos. The Hardee's campaign will run four weeks beginning April 15. In May, the food chain will offer Spider-Man kids meals. Premium items will include Spider-Man antenna toppers and plastic collectors' cups.

Hershey's candy bars will be available in decorated packaging. They'll be offering three movie-size Spider-Man posters as a mail-in gift with purchase.

According to the article, there's more to come with additional announcements being made in February.

In other Spidey news, fans in Germany are going to have to wait a little longer for their webslinger. Sony pictures recently opened the German version of their Spider-Man movie website. The site reveals that the movie opens in Germany on June 6, 2002.

CONSTANTINE

[Sting]When it comes to who should fill the Hellblazer trench coat in the upcoming movie Constantine, the character's creator Alan Moore says it ain't Nicolas Cage.

"No offense to Nicolas Cage, but they should've gotten Sting," Moore recently told Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Apparently Moore modeled the character after the rock star when he first introduced the character in the pages of Swamp Thing back in the 1980's.

A spokesperson at Warner Bros. responded saying, "No offense to Sting or disrespect to Mr. Moore, Sting is not the appropriate age for the role, nor is he as accomplished an actor."

FROM HELL

The latest e-mail from Top Shelf Comics reports that sales on Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's From Hell graphic novel have received a shot in the arm from the release of the movie.

Following the release of the film, the book became the #1 selling graphic novel in the book trade and hit #200 on Amazon.com's list of two-million plus products it has for sale on the website.

Further, the book has sold over 110,000 copies worldwide, been translated into 10 different languages, and rung-up almost four-million dollars in receipts to date.

The e-mailer also notes that the DVD release of the From Hell movie will have a 10-minute segment on how the movie was based on the graphic novel.

LOTS OF STUFF!

A Variety article detailing last year's slow-down in the movie F/X biz yields some interesting tidbits for comic book movie fans. Apparently effects houses suffered through lean times during 2001 due to schedule jockeying induced by strike fears. However, Variety reports that things have already started to look up.

It's already been reported that Industrial Light and Magic has landed the F/X chores on The Hulk and, more recently, Sony Pictures Imageworks has begun preliminary work on the CGI AstroBoy.

The article also reveals that the French eye-candy factory Buf Compagnie (whose work was featured in Fight Club) is working up special effects for Constantine.

Meanwhile Daredevil and X² are mentioned as in-development projects that are among the most sought-after by F/X houses.

Finally, the article runs down a list of projects that could (emphasis on could) start rolling in 2002 or 2003. Among them are comic book adaptations like 20th Century Fox's Fantastic Four, New Line's Iron Man and Warner Bros. Catwoman, Batman and Superman.

THE HULK

Gale Anne Hurd recently chatted up the folks at Cinescape and talked a bit about her take on The Hulk.

Hurd told the magazine that she doesn't see the project as a superhero movie. "The thing is that the Hulk has never been a superhero, really. When you think about it, it's Frankenstein meets Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He doesn't put on a costume and change into something else. The rage inside of him is pretty metaphorical."

In terms of director Ang Lee and his view of the concept Hurd told Cinescape, "The thing I have to tell you is that it's reversionary. I'm thrilled to be working along side him to bring the franchise to the screen."

Comics2Film is taking a break next week. Surf in on January 23rd for the next installment!

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