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TUTENSTEIN, ICKY ANIMAL

Jay Stephens told Comics2Film that the animated Tutenstein series is moving forward again.

"We finally have a definitive pilot script, written by Mark Seidenberg, who is hard at work on more episodes," Stephens said. Seidenberg was the story editor on Warner Bros' history-themed animated sketch show Histeria!

"The current game plan is to deliver the first thirteen scripts to Discovery Kids in early 2002, and get busy with the visual end of things... finally heading into full production for a 2003 launch," Stephens continued.

Stephens said that the tone of the show is decidedly more action/adventure than the comic book Tutenstein, and more than a little darker. Plans are to use computer generated 3D animation. Tutenstein currently appears in Jetcat Clubhouse published by Oni Press.

[Icky]Stephens also tells us that he has partnered up with Atomic Cartoons to develop an animated version of his Icky Animal strip. Atomic recently released the Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys, a CGI sequel to the puppet-mation holiday classic, and the Chuck Jones' Timber Wolf webtoon which runs on the Warner Bros. site.

The Icky Animal project is in the very early stages and no details are available.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, GHOST RIDER

[The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen]Fans may be wondering where Stephen Norrington's commitment to the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie leaves the Ghost Rider project. Comics2Film asked Norrington just that.

Norrington told us he hopes to be able to manage both projects. "Although LXG is still a little hazy, and these things can evaporate as quickly as they appear, I obviously won't be able to commit full-time to Ghost Rider again until LXG is in post-production, assuming it goes 'full-term,'" Norrington said. "For the record, though, I'm keen to stay involved in GR, and I'll work with the producers to develop the project further if that's what they elect to do - so far I've heard no news either way."

Norrington continues, "For my part, I hope they continue to develop my 'vision' of the movie because [screenwriter/producer David Goyer] and I worked our asses off to work up the story - and it rocks! That said, I've yet to be able to conclude my arrangements with the producers, and the feasibility of making a fully independent big screen action movie, featuring cutting edge VFX and a major movie star is still very much a source of debate."

The director does expect work on League to move rapidly. "We already have designers and producers doing preproduction and plan to ramp them up substantially after the New Year, so getting started is no problem," Norrington told us. "I'm looking forward to it!"

GHOST WORLD

[Ghost World]Ghost World continues to draw critical praise in the form of award nominations. The movie is the recipient of two more nods with the announcement of the 2001 Golden Globe Awards.

Thora Birch is nominated in the "Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy." She faces Cate Blanchett (Bandits), Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge), Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde) and Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones's Diary).

Also nominated is Steve Buscemi for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture." Buscemi's competition is Jim Broadbent (Iris), Hayden Christensen (Life As A House), Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast), Jude Law (A.I. Artificial Intelligence) and Jon Voight (Ali).

Last week, the Toronto Film Critics Association announced the recipients of their 5th annual awards. Thora Birch walked away with the "Best Female Performance" prize while Scarlett Johansson collected the "Best Female Supporting Performance" award. Steve Buscemi, Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes were also nominated for their work on the film.

The movie picked up the "Best Picture" award from the San Diego Film Critics Society, who also announced their winner last week. Once again, Birch won the award for "Best Actress". Zwigoff collected the "Best Director" while he and Clowes also picked up the "Best Adapted Screenplay" award. Buscemi was again nominated for his supporting role, but didn't get the trophy. He was, however, awarded a "Body of Work" ward by the San Diego Film Critics.

The Golden Satellites Awards for 2001 were announced last week by the International Press Academy. Birch is nominated for "Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical". Buscemi gets another nod for "Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical".

Buscemi has already collected one award for his role as Seymour from the New York Film Critics Circle. He's also received a nomination from the American Film Institute who recently announced its nominees.

Thanks to Salvador of Thora Birch News for the lead.

The DVD release of Ghost World is set for February 5, 2002. ICv2.com recently featured a write-up the disc's release. The DVD has a suggested retail price of $26.98, but it can be pre-ordered from many online vendors at less that $21.00 shipped.

The DVD will contain extras like deleted and alternate scenes, a "making-of" featurette, interviews with the cast and crew, and a rare music video.

Fans who haven't gotten on the DVD bandwagon may be disappointed to learn that the VHS edition will carry a hefty $32.00 price tag. This odd pricing is much higher than standard priced-to-own tapes, but well below the $100 ballpark of priced-to-rent tapes.

Fans in the U.K who are hoping to see Ghost World in a theater soon are directed to Daniel Clowes' GhostWorld-TheMovie.com. The site has been building a list of British theaters showing the movie.

BIRDS OF PREY

Casting is underway on the Birds of Prey TV pilot. LanternG slipped Comics2Film a look at the casting sides that have recently been distributed to agents in Canada. The pilot is slated to shoot in Vancouver or Los Angeles in Spring of 2002.

The breakdowns include casting calls for Oracle (a.k.a. Barbara Gordon), Huntress (a.k.a. Helena Kyle) and Black Canary (a.k.a Dinah Lance).

The description provided for Oracle is spot-on with the comic book character and even makes reference to her previous career as Batgirl.

Departing from the Birds of Prey comics is the description for the Huntress. By our reading, the show's creative team has taken the personality traits of Black Canary and inexplicably transplanted them into this character. The Huntress is described as "Oracle's partner...the eyes, ears and legs in the field." The Huntress doesn't take thinks as seriously as Babs and is always looking to "find the bad guys, kick some ass, then go get a margarita." This is not the dark, driven character from the comics.

Finally we have Black Canary, who is not the highly-trained agent from the books. She's a 16 year old runaway from Iowa who finds herself in Gotham City. She uses here telekinetic and telepathic abilities to establish he place as a junior member of the team.

The storyline suggests that the show will take-place in a post-Batman Gotham. Batman (who isn't named outright) is in "bitter, self-imposed exile" and the city is facing a new wave of crime. It's up to the Birds of Prey to confront the problem. The breakdown said there are no costumes or mask but instead "body armor, cutting-edge weapons [and] occassional metahuman powers."

Comics2Film has checked with sources in-the-know who have verified this description is accurate. Work on the pilot episode is moving quickly, with the initial announcement on the show only occurring a few months ago.

The show is a production of Tollin/Robbins, the makers of the current hit Smallville. Our source warns that Warner Bros. or The WB Network are not involved contrary to what recent reports have indicated. Unlike Smallville, which had a series order before any shows were filmed, Birds of Prey is strictly a pilot in production by Tollin/Robbins. Our source said the pilot could go the way of many pilots and never even get on TV.

THE HULK

The Hollywood Reporter reports that Sam Elliot and Nick Nolte have both officially signed on for Marvel/Universal's The Hulk.

Elliot will fill the army uniform of General Thunderbolt Ross, the military commander who becomes the Hulk's nemesis. As previously announced Jennifer Connelly plays Betty Ross, the General's daughter and science colleague to Bruce Banner.

Nolte will play father to Eric Bana's Bruce Banner. Nolte's character is "a brillant scientist who unwittingly passes on a tragic legacy to his son."

Elliot will next be seen in We Were Soldiers with Mel Gibson. Nolte stars in Neil Jordan's Double Down and Alah Rudolph's Investigating Sex

OPUS

Last week Dimension Films co-chairman Bob Weinstein announced the studio has acquired the rights to develop and produce an animated feature based on the famous "Opus" comic strip character created by Berkeley Breathed. The project is the first to come from the newly established first look deal between Dimension and Storyopolis Productions. Breathed, a Pulitzer Prize winner, is attached to write and direct.

The character of Opus, a penguin, appeared in the first year of Bloom County in 1980, and eventually appeared in his series of 11 best-selling cartoon collections, children's books, an animated television special, and an exclusive line of collectible items created with American Greetings.

"Opus and the great folks at Dimension Films are made for each other," said Breathed. "Think of it: Opus is sweet, funny, smart and doesn't wear any pants at work."

Breathed just completed directing an animated short film based on his book Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big. The film features the voices of Frances McDormand, John Cleese, Haley Joel Osment and a live action cameo with Jonathan Winters.

"Bloom County was one of my favorite comic strips and Opus is great material for an animated feature," said Bob Weinstein. "Berkeley is such an original voice and we look forward to working with him."

"Berkeley is an enormously talented creator with a passion for both animation and live action filmmaking who offers a unique take on storytelling from his years as an author/artist and cartoonist," said Fonda Snyder, President of Storyopolis Productions. "Opus is wickedly funny and cynically affectionate and should appeal to the kid in everyone."

Fonda Snyder and Dawn Heinrichs, co-founders of Storyopolis, brought the project to Dimension as part of their first look deal. Michael Helfant, sr. exec vp, and Michael Zoumas, svp of development and production, will oversee the project along with co-presidents of Dimension, Andrew Rona and Brad Weston. Lori Sale, svp of worldwide promotions, will work closely with the production to coordinate a promotional and licensing campaign for the film.

Helfant and Andrew Gumpert, svp of business and legal affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of Dimension. Cliff Gilbert-Lurie of Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca & Fischer negotiated on behalf of Breathed.

JUSTICE LEAGUE, BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

The ToonZone.net website has announced that April 23, 2002 is the release date for a slew of Warner Bros. animated DVDs. The release slate includes Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero, Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker (original cut), Batman/Superman Movie, Batman: The Animated Series - The Legend Begins and Justice League.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - The Original Cut will feature the original version of the film that was set to be released in October of 2000. Around that time Warner Bros. got jittery about violent content in the film, delayed the release and reshot many scenes.

Batman: The Animated Series - The Legend Begins will contain the first five episodes of the series in production order. The episode included on the disc will be "On Leather Wings", "Christmas With the Joker", "Nothing To Fear", "Pretty Poison", and "The Last Laugh". If sales are strong, Warner Bros. may release additional volumes.

Justice League: The Movie will present the "Secret Origins" 3-parter. Some extras are expected.

In other news, it looks like we won't have to wait until February for new episodes of Justice League after all, according to the Comics Continuum. That site reported Monday that part one of the "Paradise Lost" story arc would air on January 21 at 9:30 p.m. Cartoon Network had previously announced that an encore of "The Enemy Below" would air at that time.

"Paradise Lost" will focus on Wonder Woman. Susan Sullivan (Dharma & Greg) lends her voice as Hippolyta while Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise) appears as villainous sorcerer Felix Faust.

Part two of "Paradise Lost" will debut on Monday, Jan. 28 at 9:30 p.m. (ET).

JEREMIAH

[Jeremiah]SCI FI Wire recently spok e with J. Michael Straczynski about his new ShowTime series Jeremiah. The show is due to make it's debut either in March or June 2002.

The show is based on the long-running comic book by Belgian creator Hermann Huppen. It takes place in a world where a virus has killed anyone over the age of puberty.

"It's now 15 years later, and the kids who survived the big death are now coming into their own," Straczynski told SCI FI. "They've been riding, if you will, on the ashes of the old world, through clothes they'd grown into and food still in cans. Now they're at a point where they can keep on declining and running out of things, or they can begin to rebuild the world. It's at that cusp of the rebuilding where our story takes place. So it's a story not about endings, but beginnings."

The show stars Luke Perry in the title role and Malcolm Jamal-Warner (Malcolm & Eddie) as Kurdie. The pilot episode is directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander).

MUTANT X

Look for the action on Mutant X to be faster and more furious according to top mutant John Shea. In a rece nt interview with SCI FI Wire the actor revealed that starting January, shows will become less reliant on slow-motion photography to carry the action scenes.

"What we've done is bring someone in from Jackie Chan's organization to work with us here as one of our stuntmen. Our fight coordinator works with Jet Li and comes from Hong Kong," Shea told SCI FI. "So what we've decided is that when we shoot a fight scene, we're going to devote much more time to it."

Shea also describes a battle scene he was involved in from an upcoming episode called "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

"We devoted an entire day, 10 hours, to shooting this one sequence. It's really cool, and there's no slow motion."

MEN IN BLACK 2

Sony opened the official website for Men In Black 2 late last week. Like many recent websites, the MiB2 page is currently under construction. However it does feature the teaser trailer for the new movie. The trailer does reveal how Tommy Lee Jones' Kay character re-enters the story, so if you're concerned about spoilers: beware.

At the website, fans can also register their e-mail addresses and stay informed about future site updates.

Coming soon on the site are sections for Agent Training (online game), Agent Resources (alien study guides), Field Research (gadgets), Disinformation (MiB propoganda).

SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man Wallpaper]If you recently squandered your employer's Internet bandwidth in order to view the Spider-Man trailer online, don't feel guilty. You weren't alone.

The Internet audience measurement service Nielsen/NetRatings reports that traffic on Apple.com, the repository for numerous QuickTime movie trailers, jumped 101 percent the week the Spider-Man trailer made its debut. The site had 839,000 visitors the week ending December 16, up from 418,000 visitors the week prior.

Sixteen percent of that audience went straight for the spider.

Fans who want more Spidey for the holidays can visit the official site this week. They're offering a new download in the form of romantic, holiday wallpaper featuring stars Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2, DEADMAN

Over a year ago the Hollywood trades reported that the TNT cable net was looking to develop DC Comics' Deadman as an original movie. The movie was said to be on the fast-track and could serve as a series pilot.

Little else was heard about the project until last week when the Variety announced that the project may be heating up again. According to Variety's report Deadman is one of TNT's top candidates to serve as a companion show for the highly-successful Witchblade. Sources for TNT and Warner Bros. TV confirmed the report, but said that the project is still in the early stages of development.

Variety also states that show will follow the traditional action-adventure format and be "laced with special effects."

When the project was announced in August of 2000, Jason Pomerance was named as the writer. The new report gives no information about any creative attachments.

BLADE 2

A teaser trailer for Blade 2 debuted last week on Blade2.com. The 35 second trailer plays on the characters mystique, giving us a few glimpses of Wesley Snipes in action, driven by a techno-metal soundtrack. The final frame of the clip shows the film's release date to be March 29, a week later than what was previously reported.

Also available for download on the official Blade 2 site is a screen saver for both Mac and PC users.

BABY BLUES

[Baby Blues]Cartoon Network has announced that Baby Blues, the animated series based on Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott's comic strip is the latest addition to the network's "Adult Swim" lineup. The show is set to debut in its regular timeslot on Sunday, January 6 at 10:30 p.m. (ET, PT). Encore showings will air Thursdays at the same time.

Baby Blues is an animated half-hour comedy series that tells the story of a young couple, Daryl and Wanda McPherson, who find themselves comically handling the challenges of parenthood. Adult Swim is Cartoon Network's block of animated programming aimed at adults ages 18-34.

In Baby Blues, Darryl and Wanda handle the daily challenges of raising their two kids, loud and cranky Zoe and easy-going infant Hamish, with wit, intelligence and perspective. But sometimes things get outrageously out of hand. Adding to the mix are the rambunctious family next door, a ditzy teenage babysitter and a co-worker who has all the answers about handling "domestic situations."

Fans may recall that Baby Blues was initially developed for the WB network and had a short run there this past summer. In August the network announced they were pulling the show, in spite of the fact that there were still 19 unaired episodes in the can. The costly decision by the network was predicated on new programming policies that didn't include prime-time animated shows.

Baby Blues joins shows like Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Home Movies, The Brak Show, Harvey Birdman, Attorney-at-Law, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021 in the Adult Swim lineup. Since its launch in September 2001, Adult Swim has built a loyal audience especially in the 18-34 year-old age bracket.

THE TICK

Prevue Magazine recently sat down with the big, blue bug of justice himself, Patrick Warburton better know to fans of fine TV shows as The Tick.

Warburton continues to express enjoyment about bringing Ben Edlund's comic book character to life. "It's really fun. It's so full of possibilities. It can go so many places," Warburton said. "I love doing the show, it's very clever, so full of double entendres."

As one might imaging, having one's entire body covered in latex for an entire workday is fairly difficult. "It can be pretty demanding physically. It sucks your energy," the actor told Prevue. "I have to drink a lot of vodka basically, (laughing) actually H2O or Gatorade because it's a long day of sweating. It's kind of hard to sit in that thing and pick up a newspaper and read, because the suit is very restrictive."

Warburton also said he enjoys the interaction with his co-stars. "We definitely goof on each other a lot. Liz Vassey, who plays Captain Liberty, and David are really good friends. They're very close and they like to sing with each other a lot. They love to sing show tunes," Warburton explained. "Nestor and I like to get on Liz's case and tell her that we're really concerned that she's turning our friend gay. That's some of the silliness that goes on."

Warburton sees big things in store for viewer, should The Tick catch on. "I know we've only scratched the surface with these nine episodes. You give us 100 episodes and I can guarantee you we will give you the most truly creative show ever, because we have no boundaries," he said. "We just started realizing, after episode seven or eight, all the ideas that come to mind and we want that opportunity."

The star also told Prevue that he hopes to direct an some episodes of the show, should it get picked up for additional seasons. For more comments check out the complete interview at Prevue Magazine.

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