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SOME TROUBLE OF A SErrIOUS NATURE

Comic creator Billy Tucci is used to wearing several hats. He's been the writer, artist, publisher and driving force behind Crusade Entertainment and his flagship, creator-owned title Shi. More recently Tucci donned three new hats as producer, screenwriter and director of his independent short film Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature.

"Some Trouble is the hysterical tale of one unfortunate Chance Vought F4U Corsair fighter plane and the hillbillies' who are determined to fly it," Tucci said. His script for the film is based on a hoax letter originally penned by Lt. Cmdr. Richard W. DeMott in the 1940's. "To those within the aviation and military circles, the story is legendary. Thousands of copies have been distributed since 1947."

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The filming was a fast-paced, six day shoot that took place in October. "My D.P. Sol Negrin told me, 'this should be a two-week shoot in the summer,' as a opposed to a six day shoot in the fall," Tucci told Comics2Film. "It was the most stressful week of my life, but I loved it."

The live action comedy features Joe Tobul's Korean War veteran F4U-4 Corsair, a full-scale static replica, and painstakingly detailed digital models. Filmed entirely on Long Island, NY, the sets included Brookhaven / Calabro airport, (where a mock county fair was set up complete with an actual Ferris wheel), two farms and the 56th Fighter Group Restaurant.

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"My first day of shooting I had like 100 extras. It was the windiest damn day of the year. It was the day of the county fair. We had a Ferris Wheel and tents and the Corsair flew in," Tucci said. "It was a lot of work but it was a lot of fun."

Actors Brian Finney (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) and Andrew Finney (Let it Be Me) star in the leading roles as the adventurous hillbilly and his buck-toothed partner in crime. Amid the myriad of extras on the set were two very special guests: Ralph Blazer of New England Comics and his daughter, Jessica.

"Ralph was the winner of the Some Trouble contest we sponsored through Diamond - I'm so glad they could be a part of this," explained Tucci. "Their presence was a comforting reminder of my comic-roots in this new venture. Without my experiences in the comic industry, particularly as a visual storyteller, I never would have been able to direct this film."

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An comic book adaptation of the film is due out in stores next week. Tucci illustrated the comic, which is a hybrid of his detailed sequential art with the film's actual digital Corsair by John Vilardi (Burning Blue/The Undaunted), who is also creating the CGI graphics for the film.

Master illustrator Greg Hilderbrandt has donated a special variant cover for the comic. "Greg's generous gift of his beautiful painting 'Made in the U.S.A,' seems to be an act of fate," Tucci said. "The pin-up cover depicts a stunning blonde sitting atop an F4-U, which happens to coincide with a sub-plot in the story. That Greg chose this subject matter is yet another indication that things are falling into place for the film."

Hildebrandt donated the cover as an act of charity. All the profits from the Hilderbrandt variant will go to the American Red Cross to aid the victims of the September 11th attacks. This version is scheduled for distribution is January 2002.

Both Tucci's and Hilderbrandt's versions of the 32 page Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature comic book will contain color pages of Tucci sequential art, a digital diary of John Vilardi's Corsair creation, behind the scenes photos, script notes and more. It is priced at $3.50.

THE HULK

The Hollywood trades report that Jennifer Connelly has signed on to play the female lead in The Hulk for Universal. She'll play Betty Ross, who is described in the Variety write-up as "a scientist who has a close personal and professional relationship with Dr. Bruce Banner."

Connelly joins Eric Bana (Black Hawk Down) who plays the dual role of Banner and The Hulk. The Hollywood Reporter article indicates that Nick Nolte is currently being courted for the role of Betty's father and The Hulk's nemesis: General Thunderbolt Ross.

Connelly recently appeared in Requiem for a Dream and also starred in the comic book adaptation The Rocketeer.

The movie is set to start production in the Spring with a 2003 release planned.

NEXUS

Comic creator Steve Rude told Comics2Film that he's still working to get Nexus going as an animated TV series. The concept had been in development with Sony as an animated show several years ago. However those efforts ran aground after a series of delays.

Rude continues to pursue the project. He told C2F that he was recently in negotiations with a small studio in Glendale, CA. Unfortunately, those talks didn't pan out.

"So the search continues. With scripts and storyboards for the first 6 episodes, and plots for 13 shows, I'm ready to fly," Rude said. "The model sheets for all main and secondary characters have been completed and finalized. Much of the actual animation for many of these episodes is in various stages of completion."

Fans can see some of the design work for the proposed show at SteveRude.com. Interested parties can also download a clip of animation from Rude's webpage at the Hollywood Comics website.

"It's a waiting game that requires a great deal of perseverance as well as direct and honest communication," Rude said.

Nexus was created by Rude and writer Mike Baron. It features an offbeat science fiction hero whose mission is to assassinate evil-doers who are identified in his troubled dreams.

THE FACTOR

Comics2Film checked in with writer Nat Gertler on the fate of plans to adapt his comic The Factor for film or TV.

Gertler tells us that parties in Hollywood are still expressing interest in the concept. However, previous options on The Factor have lapsed.

"As such, the property is again up for grabs," Gertler said. "I'll be hitting the con circuit with a new TPB of the miniseries this summer; that could well ignite some interest."

The critically acclaimed The Factor is a superhero anthology without the superhero. It's a series of stories centering on people whose lives are affected by a superhero that the reader never sees.

SPIDER-MAN

Brazilian pop-culture site Heroi.com.br recently posted some cool new images from the upcoming Spider-Man movie.

The site doesn't state it exactly but these look like images that were recently put on display, and then removed from the net, by photographer Steve Kahn. Kahn has been contracted by Sony to generate artwork that will serve as the action-photos that Peter Parker has taken of the web slinger in the movie.

Heroi.com.br has three images from the set currently on display.

Thanks to Dark Horizons for the lead.

Elsewhere, Figures.com reports that Toy Biz has announced the production of action figures based on the Spider-Man movie. According to their write-up, the first wave of movie toys will include Super-Poseable Spider-Man, Green Goblin, Norman Osborne, Battle-Ravaged Spidey, and J. Jonah Jameson.

The figures are slated to ship in February of next year for $9.99 each.

BLADE 2

IGN FilmForce reports that the Blade 2 trailer may not run with The Lord of the Rings as previously reported. The write-up indicates that running a trailer for the R-rated vampire flick with the PG-13 fantasy pic may violate some of the guidelines set forth by the MPAA.

However, New Line Cinema is said to be ecstatic about Blade 2 and are looking to give the movie the push it deserves. Copies of the trailer will be distributed at the same time as Lord of the Rings, but theater owners can decide when and where to run it.

In other Blade 2 news, Activision, Inc. announced earlier this week that it is entering the world of modern vampire lore with the development of Blade 2 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Blade 2 is an all-new, non-stop action-adventure that allows players to take on the role of Marvel's half-vampire, half-human super hero on a quest to save the human race. The game has not yet been rated by the ESRB and is scheduled for release in 2002.

"Blade 2 takes Marvel's vampire hunter and puts him in an entirely new adventure," said Larry Goldberg, executive vice president, Activision Worldwide Studios. "The advanced technology of Xbox and PlayStation 2 enables us to expand the Blade experience and provide fans with a brand new storyline, advanced combat maneuvers and all-new special effects."

Developed by UK-based developer Mucky Foot, Blade 2 lets players assume the role of Blade, the "baddest" of the vampire slayers. As Blade, players must make maximum use of his special abilities, weapons and martial arts moves to stop the vampire nation's quest to create an all-new form of super-vampires known as Reapers. The game's revolutionary multi-directional fighting system will allow players to take on blood sucking enemies as they attack from all directions. Spectacular visual effects add to the game's realism as vampire foes are obliterated.

SMALLVILLE

The December 11 episode of Smallville will be called "Jitters". In this episode Clark (Tom Welling) and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) team up to rescue Clark's high school class after a janitor (guest star Tony Todd of Candyman fame) takes them hostage in LuthorCorp. He claims his deadly "jitters" were caused by a mysterious contaminant and threatens to kill everyone unless he is shown a secret sublevel - which Lionel Luthor (guest star John Glover, Batman & Robin) denies ever existed. Michael Watkins directed the episode written by Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gottesfeld.

"Jitters" airs on December 11 at 9 p.m. ET.

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

In other Smallville news, the Comics Continuum reports that the show continued to do well in its ratings last week. The Nov. 20 episode ranked #2 in its time period with the 12-34 year-old demographic, scoring 3.6/10 and also with men 12-34 (4.0/12). The show was #3 in its time period for adults 18-34 (3.3/9), men 18-34 (3.5/11) and women 12-34 (3.3/9).

The show did best with the teen demographic. It was #1 for the entire night (4.6/15) and #1 in its timeslot for male teens (5.2/16) and female teens (4.1/13).

MUTANT X

[Firekid]The official Mutant X website has posted a video preview of this week's episode of Marvel's hit syndicated show.

According to the website the episode centers around a young boy who had the mutant ability to control fire. When he gets kidnapped, it's up to the Mutant X team to attempt a rescue.

A future episode of the show is set to feature an as-yet-unnamed special guest star. The "Presumed Guilty" episode, which goes into production soon, will feature an actor better known from the Andromeda TV series. No word on who that might be, but we're told it is not a regular cast member from that show, but "definitely a fan favorite."

John Fawcett, who directed the recent werewolf pic Ginger Snaps is due to helm an upcoming episode called "Blood Ties." In that episode we meet the electricity throwing Jesse's father and learn what his link to the Genetic Security Agency is.

Mutant X producers promise that everything is building up to a season finale that Howard Chaykin is working overtime to write himself.

Videos and photo galleries from all recent episodes can also be found on the site.

THE TICK

Click to enlarge.

Last week The Tick took time off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday and this week the big blue bug of justice steps aside for a Lord of the Rings special.

But it looks like next week we'll have double the Tick action to make up for it.

On Wednesday, December 5th, Fox gives us a special airing of the show at 9:30 p.m. It will apparently be the "Couples" episode, guest-starring Ron Perlman (Beauty and the Beast). In "Couples" The Tick and Arthur befriend Fiery Blaze and Friendly Fire, another superhero duo with a dysfunctional relationship.

Then we find The Tick in its regular timeslot on Thursday, December 6th, at 8:30 p.m for an episode called "The License." When it is revealed to Arthur, Captain Liberty and Batmanuel that The Tick is working without a super hero license, he and Arthur go down to the DMV to obtain one. Only one problem, The Tick doesn't know his date of birth, his social security number or what his real name is. In a quest to find out whom he really is, Arthur does a search, which unites The Tick with a woman who claims to be his wife ­ but is she the real thing?

THE PUNISHER

Recent internet rumors that a slew of writers are being looked at for Artisan's Punisher movie are false according to Marvel Studios' Kevin Feige. Feige told Comics2Film that there is no truth to reports that Dan Gordon, David Greene, Ben Kish, and Zak Penn are under consideration for writing chores on the film.

The Punisher was part of the 15-project bulk deal Marvel cut with Artisan in the summer of 2000. Initial plans have called for the the character to be adapted as a direct-to-video feature.

Things have been moving slowly recently with the Artisan projects, mainly due to the company's recent reorganizations. However, it looks as if Iron Fist is heating up again and may film next year. Hopefully Man-Thing will be close behind.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Will Etrigan The Demon be summoned for a future episode of Justice League? He will according to the FanboyPlanet website.

Unnamed sources have informed FanyboyPlanet that the character is due for an appearance before the first season is done.

The character appeared in 1998 episode of Batman: The Animated Series. At that time he was voiced by Billy Zane (The Phantom, Invincible).

No word is given on when the character is due to appear or who might provide the voice work.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Dark Horizons uncovered the latest image from the production of Men In Black 2. Their set photo is from the MiB garage where a fleet of agency-issued black Ford LTDs are parked in a row as far as the eye can see.

MARVEL TOONS

Unnamed sources have told the Comics Continuum that there may be more Marvel animated shows coming our way in the near future. These sources allege that Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk or Daredevil are all under consideration as cartoon shows for the Fox Kids' 2002-2003 season.

IRON FIST

An anonymous scooper recently gave Corona Coming Attractions a description of what fans might see when Ray Park focuses his chi and makes his fist like unto a thing of iron. The source claims to have access to the Iron Fist production office and was able to sneak a peek at the hero's Iron Fist effects design.

The report could be considered spoiler material, so we're presenting it here in white print. Swipe it with your mouse to reveal the Iron Fist:

According to the scooper the Iron Fist effect is very different from the way it looks in the comic. The Iron Fist apparently involves the character's entire body morphing and going through a transformation that looks "almost as if it's painful."

The spy also spotted a wardrobe design for the Ray Park's Danny Rand character. The character was said to be wearing a black Matrix-esque trench coat although the scooper wasn't sure if this was the Iron Fist costume or just wardrobe for a limited part of the film.

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