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AMERICAN SPLENDOR

[American Splendor]Comics2Film has learned that the directing team of Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini have signed to helm the filmed adaptation of the Harvey Pekar's American Splendor.

The husband and wife directing team have previously directed the Hollywood-themed documentaries Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's and this year's The Young and the Dead.

Word is that casting has begun on film.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Pekar's autobiographical comic, with a recent special published by Dark Horse Comics. Aside from his work in comics, Pekar is well known for his caustic and memorable appearances in David Letterman's old "Late Night" show.

The movie is to be produced by Good Machine (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and HBO Independents. Back in 1999 Good Machine signed filmmaker Chris Smith (American Movie) to the project. However, things quickly ran aground as Smith's schedule promoting American Movie prevented him from continuing with American Splendor.

DAREDEVIL

A week ago Comics2Film was the first to report that actor Ben Affleck would likely take on the role of Daredevil in the upcoming movie. Late last week, an article in Variety confirmed that Affleck is indeed set to star in the Marvel Movie.

Variety reports that the finishing touches are being put on a deal that would sign Affleck to the film. The actor will reportedly grab a low eight-figure salary for the part in the $50 million movie.

According to the report, the movie is scheduled to lens next year, although several recent reports put the filming start in November. Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch) is set to direct. Johnson also penned the script, which then underwent a rewrite by Brian Helgeland (A Knight's Tale). Gary Foster and Avi Arad are producing and Stan Lee is named as an executive producer.

Affleck will be seen next in Surviving Christmas and The Sum of All Fears.

In related news, The Stax Report at IGN FilmForce posted a review of the movie's script this week. Stax sums up his review as being positive and having minor spoilers, although fans even mildly acquainted with the comics won't find any surprises.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Agents Jay and Kay will encounter a number of bizarre aliens in the upcoming Men In Black 2 movie, but pop-meister Michael Jackson won't be one of them.

Last week C2F picked up on the rumor from E! Online that Jackson could make a cameo appearance in the film. However, we've been informed by the MiB2 unit publicist Rob Harris that it just isn't so. Apparently the producers had talked to the king of pop about it, but couldn't work out the scheduling.

In other news, Corona Coming Attractions reports that current plans call for a teaser trailer the movie to roll with Sony's big December release Ali. Both films star Will Smith. Ali has Smith playing boxing great Muhammad Ali under the direction of Michael Mann (The Insider). That film opens on December 7.

However, CA also reports that plans could change and the MiB2 teaser could be released earlier. But they also report that a trailer will definitely run with Sony's other big comic book movie which you may have heard about...Spider-Man.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Cartoon Network has opened up a teaser site for the upcoming Justice League animated show. The new site has dossier's on the big 7 lineup. It also features downloadable wallpaper and a preview of villains, guest heroes and locations in the animated DCU.

The cable network also released its November schedule, which includes the much-anticipated show. According to materials provided by the Cartoon Network, Justice League will kick off with the 90-minute movie "Secret Origins" airing at 7 p.m. on November 17. An encore showing of the movie will air Sunday, the 18th at 8:30 p.m.

The show then moves to its regular timeslot at 9:30 p.m. on Monday evenings, starting on the 19th. Encore showings of the weekly episodes are scheduled for Fridays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 8:30 p.m.

"Secret Origins" counts as the first three episodes of the series. That's followed in November with episodes #4 and 5, which make up parts 1 and 2 of the "In Blackest Night" storyline.

All times listed above are Eastern and Pacific time.

ASTROTHRILL

Comics2Film talked to comic creator and musician Craig Clark about Astrothrill, his animated short movie based on his comic/CD combo. Clark is developing the theatrical short using Flash and After Effects.

Astrothrill started as a short strip in the comic Nemesister, published by Clark's Cheeky Press. The strips were collected under one cover and sold with a CD. "The CD had one song by me and songs by 15 other bands. They were mostly like Los Angels bands, Gwen Mars, Texas Terry, The Bell Rays, they're all moving up in popularity," Clark told us. "It was a fun thing: read the comic and listen to the music."

The short is intended to be used to pitch the concept as a TV series. Clark is talking to outlets like Cartoon Network and MTV, as well as animation producers like Film Roman. He's also ready to rework Astrothrill to feature length should the need arise.

Clark told us he's about half-finished with the movie. A portion of it was recently posted on the Cheeky Press. The completed film is intended to be 12 minutes long. "Hopefully next summer, for San Diego Comic-Con, it will be done. That's the goal," Clark said. If the short is ready, Clark also hopes to bring some of the bands along for a Comic-Con show.

VAGABOND, THE DARK CELL

[Vagabond]The entertainment and production company, Prime Universe Entertainment, Inc. has entered into an exclusive development, production and representation deal with Comic Book and Video Game creators Ryan Benjamin, Sean Ruffner and Dan Norton for the properties Vagabond and The Dark Cell. As part of the deal, Prime Universe will spearhead the development and setting up the properties in the feature film, television, multi-platform interactive game and action figure markets.

"We have been great fans of Ryan, Sean and Dan's work for a good while now and it's very exciting to be able to work closely with them in bringing these two wonderful properties to the next level. Both properties offer extraordinary opportunity for adaptation into feature films, event-level TV/Cable programming and next generation video game content." said Prime Universe President, Adrian Askarieh.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is believed that Askarieh, along with other Prime Universe executives will be attached as producers to any film and/or TV project resulting from the deal.

[The Dark Cell]Vagabond is a Blade meets A Fist Full of Dollars supernatural adventure about a lone warrior who wanders the Earth in shadows. An enigma. Shunned by society, he fights his cause. Is he a hero or murderous madman? It's a matter of perspective. Evil Humans and Supernaturals beware. The Hammer of God is amongst you. Prepare your soul.

The Dark Cell: In the year 2094, America endures the gritty reality of nation divided by a second civil war called the Splinter War. With the North American region in shambles, a new breed of soldiers emerges; battle hardened mercenaries working for the faction offering the highest corporate dollar. They spread through the shadows taking with them the now confused concepts of independence, law and violence, where new rules and a new generation of outlaws come into being.

SMALLVILLE

[Smallville Ledger]Warner Bros. published the first online edition of the Smallville Ledger this week. The paper is the latest faux web site supporting a movie or TV show. In this case the show is, of course, Smallville.

So far the site features a handful of articles which neatly fill in the back story for the pilot episode of the show. The Ledger also links to other sites for make-believe destinations, like The Smallville Torch (the official Smallville High School newspaper) and Luthorcorp.net.

Smallville is set to debut on The WB network next week on October 16th.

Thanks to our friends and neighbors at the ever-vigilant KryptonSite.com for the lead.

ROBOT BASTARD!

[sketch]Fans who are eagerly anticipating the online release of Rob Schrab's short film Robot Bastard can tune their web browsers to RobotBastard.com for another sneak peak.

In addition to last month's trailers for the film, Schrab has now added a ton of production photos from the low-budget shoot. He's also provided a handful of concept design sketches.

The complete Robot Bastard movie is expected to appear online later this month.

Fans can also find Schrab's work in the current theatrical release Zoolander. Schrab directed the bizzaro, partially-animated sequence in which Ben Stiller's character attends a mysterious spa.

SPIDER-MAN

Spider-Man Hype provides a run down of the latest online happenings in the web world of the wall-crawler.

According to the Hypesters, the Mexican website supporting the Spider-Man movie is set to open today.

The Mexican site joins international Spider-Man movie portals in the UK, Brazil and Argentina. Of course, the mack daddy of Spidey sites is the official U.S. site at Sonypictures.com.

Speaking of the official site, SMH also reports that there's a new desktop wallpaper available for download on that site. The graphic sports the new image of Spider-Man clinging to a building, which appeared on the site's front page when it reopened earlier this month.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Dark Horizons recently ran comments from comic creator Brendan McCarthy (Judge Dredd) about various projects he's working on. The comments were gathered by David Kane for a UK fanzine interview.

McCarthy told Kane that he's been working on one of the many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles projects that is currently in development. McCarthy apparently has done design work on the live-action mini-series that is planned for cable's Hallmark Channel.

McCarthy also reports that he developed the storyline for the mini with Steve Barron. Barron was the director of the first Turtles movie and is also directing the mini-series. According to Kane, McCarthy suggested that it was a fairly "adult" treatment of the characters.

MUTANT X

According to a report from online financial news outlet Bloomberg.com, Marvel Enterprises is still feeling the sting of the trademark dispute over the Mutant X TV show. As has been reported in the past, 20th Century Fox filed a suit against Marvel and Tribune Entertainment stating that the Mutant X TV show violated Marvel's agreement with the movie studio to refrain from making X-Men spin-offs.

Now Safeco Corp. is suing Marvel over the legal bills stemming from the lawsuit. Safeco is Marvel's property casualty insurer and is currently on the hook for $952,483.37 in fees as a result of the dispute.

The insurer claims that Marvel did not provide information about the suit. "Marvel's failure to provide timely notice without reasonable justification for such failure constitutes a failure to satisfy a condition precedent and vitiates the policy," Safeco's complaint reads.

Thanks to Comicon.com Splash! for the lead.

AQUAMAN

Rumors began circulating this week about the Aquaman movie that's currently in the earliest stages of developments. The rumors came complete with casting attachments and storyline details. Lest the waters be muddied by misinformation, Stax at IGN FilmForce did some fact checking and published an accurate accounting of what's really up with the King of the Seven Seas.

Stax reports that a movie is, in fact, in development with producers Bill Gerber (American Outlaws) and Bill Todman (X-Men). However, reports about potential cast members and storylines are false. Gerber told FilmForce, "[The] only development on this [project] has been as an animated feature. We are trying to get a live-action version going with Bob Brassel over at the studio."

X-MEN 2

Zap2it.com reports that a recent scheduling conflict had actress Halle Berry choosing between X-Men 2 and a turn opposite Ben Affleck.

According to their report, the actress was signed on for Gigli, a hit man movie with Affleck. That movie was due to lens later this year, but the shoot would have overlapped with the mutant sequel.

Zap2it states that X-Men 2 is set to go before cameras in January. Berry will stick with her commitment to reprise her role as Storm in the comic book adaptation. X2 is the highest-grossing movie that the actress has appeared in. The movie is targeted for a December 2002 release.

BLUEBERRY

Dark Horizons reports that rumors about X-Men star Hugh Jackman starring in Jan Kounen's Blueberry movie are false. The report comes from the director himself.

CHELSEA BOYS

A few month's ago we told you that Glen Hanson and Allan Neuwirth had inked a deal with Film Roman Productions (King of the Hill, X-Men: Evolution) to bring their gay-themed comic strip Chelsea Boys to the small screen. Now, the Washington Blade reports that Film Roman is set to shop the show around to the various TV markets.

The strip's creators are hoping to find a network that will preserve the sexual frankness of the strip, but they're keeping their options open at this point. "Just because HBO and Showtime are number one on our wish list doesn't mean we would turn down anyone else," Neuwirth told The Blade. "If Fox or Comedy Central said yes, we would gladly do it. The only difference being they wouldn't let us be as uncensored as HBO."

The strip stars Nathan, a 40-something native New Yorker, who decides to take in a couple of roommates after his lover dies. He ends up with Sky, a free-spirit, drop dead gorgeous blond, and Soiree, an African-American diva in progress. Miss Marmelstein, Nathan's pooch, rounds out the colorful group.

The strips creators will maintain creative control of their characters. "Glen and I will both produce and write," Neuwirth said. "We also want to hire the tip-top gay writers and gay actors [for character voices] but of course we won't be disclusionary."

Film Roman will be shopping the show to networks in the coming month. Should it get picked up it wouldn't be ready to air for a year or so.

Thanks to Michael Rhode of the Comics Research Bibliography.

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