www.cbr.com

ROBOT BASTARD!

Rob Schrab dreams of making a balls-to-the-wall, action-packed, sci-fi movie featuring a gun-toting robot hero. Not surprising, considering he's the creator of the indie hit comic Scud: The Disposable Assassin. What is surprising is that Schrab may have realized his dream in his low-budget, independently produced short film Robot Bastard!

Schrab threw himself into the project, writing, producing, directing and basically doing a little of everything on the $18,000 movie. "I had no idea how to do any of this stuff when I first started. I just wanted to do it so bad that I just did it. I had no idea how to do green-screens. I had no idea how to make the robot costume," Schrab told Comics2Film.

Last week, the comic-creator turned filmmaker unveiled trailers for the film at the official website: RobotBastard.com. The site is airing the conventional American trailer as well as a "Japanese" trailer that evokes the TV shows and movies that inspired it. Schrab said that he shot the movie "on Super-16 color reversal, which I believe is close to the same film that the old Ultraman TV series was filmed on. I wanted it to have a new/old look to it, kind of like, 'when was this shot?'"

Schrab told C2F that he was involved with everything in the production. However, he did have some help from talented friends. Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame helped Schrab create the robot costume from everyday materials. "I built the robot in his studio with his brother," Schrab said. "They have a experience building stuff out of garbage."

Once he finished the costume, Schrab started using the robot to recruit help on the movie, having it run around a parties to attract attention to the project. Another talented participant is Doug TenNaple, creator of Earthworm Jim. "He did stop animation. Like when the gun comes out of the robot's arm," Schrab said, referring to a scene that can be found in the online trailer. TenNaple also acts in the movie (he's the tar-zombie firing the machine gun in one of the shots).

While the images from the trailer clearly show the Rob Schrab look, fans should be aware that this is not related to Scud. "There's no connection to the two of them. Scud is a more streamlined, hyper kinetic robot where as the robot in Robot Bastard is more like a hulking, bad-ass, riveted, kick-ass robot. He's more like a Schwarzenegger rather than the Jet Li that Scud is."

Although it's a simple story filling out the 13 and a half minute movie, Schrab was clear that he wanted it to be compete. The movie does have three acts and development arcs for the characters, something the filmmaker feels is missing from many online shorts.

The film tells the story of a Robot in a futuristic universe who is sent to rescue the President's daughter who has been kidnapped by terrorists and held on a space station filled with "tar-looking monsters and zombie creatures. It's pretty much just an excuse for a guy in a robot suit to run around and shoot things," Schrab said. "It's a living comic book."

Schrab plans to have the movie posted online in October. The movie is intended to follow on the release of the upcoming feature Zoolander which Schrab did some work on. In addition to second-unit directing, he also co-directed a sequence in the movie in which Ben Stiller's character gets brainwashed.

He also hopes to keep the site populated with behind the scenes information and Q&A from the fans. Schrab will also be working to get the movie air time on Sci-Fi Channel and the Sundance Channel. If all goes according to plan, the filmmaker will be able to develop Robot Bastard further as either a feature film or a TV series.

Of course, Schrab also would like to bring his other gun-welding robot to the big-screen. In the past Scud: The Disposable Assassin has attracted attention from the likes of Oliver Stone, Robert Zemeckis, Peyton Reed and David Goyer (it may be a tip of the hat that Goyer named a character Scud in Blade 2). But with his own directing career in development, it may be Rob Schrab who directs the Scud movie.

"What I'm hoping to do is hang on to Scud as long as I can, because I want to direct it. I've wanted to direct it from the beginning," Schrab said. "Hopefully, it would be a good second or third film. I wouldn't want it to be my first film. I'd like to be able to experiment and develop a style and also prove myself as a director to the studio guys."

If there's anything Schrab's learned from making Robot Bastard it's the joy of following your dream.

"Everyone told me, when I wrote the script and started passing it around, 'your first film is going to be the most expensive movie ever done. There's no way you can do this.'

"I said, 'I'll figure it out as I go,'" Schrab told C2F. "Anyone who has a dream, hope of doing something like...like anything whether it's comic books or movies or dating a girl...just do it. It's fun!"

LENORE

[Lenore]Roman Dirge's Lenore made her animated debut last week on Sony's Screenblast website. The cute little dead girl can be found by clicking the Sci-Fi/Horror button on the Screenblast front page.

The animated short features the gruesome, black humor that is the hallmark of the comic strip. In this episode, the undead youngster searches for a new toy, with comically macabre results.

This is the first of many Lenore shorts that will air on Screenblast. Fans can also download a Lenore screen saver from the site.

Last year Sony picked up the option Lenore for development as a feature film. Caroline Thompson (A Nightmare Before Christmas) and Larry Wilson (Beetlejuice) were tapped to write a screenplay for the movie. No word on how that development effort is progressing.

CODENAME: KNOCKOUT

[Codename Knockout]The DC/Vertigo series Codename: Knockout is apparently garnering interest in Hollywood. Louis Small, Jr., co-creator of the comic told Comics2Film that Warner Bros. picked up the option on the property earlier this year.

Codename: Knockout was created by Small and writer Robert Rodi. It features the adventures of sexy super-agent Angela St. Grace and her sidekick Go-Go Fiasco. The pair are caught in a war between rival the spy shops G.O.O.D. and E.V.I.L.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS ANIMATED

A spokesperson for DIC Entertainment has informed Comics2Film that the company is not proceeding with plans for an animated Josie and the Pussycats TV series. The show had been announced back in march just prior to the release of the under-achieving Josie live-action feature film.

FALLEN ANGEL

Variety reports that comic publisher turned multi-media production house Top Cow has picked up a sci-fi action pitch called Fallen Angel from newcomer writer William Zide. The writer sold the pitch for a mid six-figure deal.

Fallen Angel tells the story of an archangel who is cast out of heaven for helping to start a rebellion there. He must redeem himself with good works on earth.

"This project," Carlisle said, "fits perfectly into Top Cow's model of franchise management: Developing 'high-concept' worlds and franchiseable characters that have commercial potential on multiple entertainment platforms."

The deal is one of many film developments that Top Cow is involved with. Other projects include Inferno, The Cleaner, The A-Team and the cable TV success Witchblade.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

A little over two months ago Peter Laird's Mirage Studios announced the return of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles which included a pact with John Woo and Terence Chang's Digital Rim Entertainment. Now, an article in the Hollywood Reporter sheds light on the latest development efforts, which include a feature film, two TV projects and video games.

The first project on the slate is a new animated series that will update the concept for today's audiences. Although Digital Rim's Rainbow Studios put together a CGI demo short of the turtles, many frames of which have been posted on the internet by Laird, plans for such a show have be scrapped. Instead, the new animated series will use traditional 2-D animation, but will bring a new look to the Turtles, similar to Batman Beyond. The show could be up and running as soon as September 2002.

A project which was not mentioned by the June announcement is a live-action TV mini-series targeted for the Hallmark Channel. Steve Barron, who directed the original 1990 live-action movie is on board to direct the mini for Hallmark Entertainment. Plans call for a two-night, four-hour program that uses live actors, but casts the Turtles themselves as CGI. If greenlighted, the mini would air after the debut of the cartoon, but before the release of the planned feature. Current target dates are between May 2003 and May 2004.

"The Ninja Turtles miniseries that Hallmark and I are developing will be a darker, more streetwise view of the characters," Barron told the Reporter. "Taking its tone from the original comics, it will be an atmospheric and spectacular reinvention of the franchise using today's CGI technology to leap into the 21st century."

Finally, there's the previously announced feature film. Chang told The Reporter that the film would be released within four years and will feature, "PG-rated versions of Woo's trademark action.

"We had to wait for a while for the kids who enjoyed the original Turtles to grow up," Chang said. "We need to reinvent the Turtles. We'd like the film to appeal to all ages, like Shrek, but by using CGI, we'll be able to retain a different feel than the original live-action films and be more faithful to the source material."

HELLBOY

Vin Diesel. Is he or isn't he going to play Hellboy? That's the question on the minds of many fans. That's the question that Empire Online recently put to the rising star.

The answer? "They've told me to keep quiet about it," Diesel told Empire. While he may not be fully committed to the project, which may or may not have a studio commitment, the actor does sound more and more like he's seriously considering it.

"You know why I like Hellboy," Diesel asked Empire. "I like Hellboy for the same reason I liked The Iron Giant. This guy's just ambivalent about his strength, he's like this cool guy who doesn't understand his strength and he goes through life like a bull in a china shop. I love it."

HULK

UpcomingMovies.com reports that filming on The Incredible Hulk is "locked" to start in March of 2002. The site also reports that casting news is imminent. No word is given on where these bits of info come from.

Later, the same site reported Universal Pictures picked up the domain name TheHulk.com for use in promoting the movie. The domain name is currently inactive.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Sci Fi Wire recently talked to director Barry Sonnenfeld about his currently filming Men In Black 2. The movie is the follow up to 1997's hit and reunites stars Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as agents Jay and Kay.

Sonnenfeld talked about bringing Jones' Kay character back for the sequel even though the character had effectively been written out of the MiB story at the end of the first movie. The question posed by the director, "How do you make a sequel and not make the same movie over again, but not screw up what was working?"

Early plans called for Kay to reenter the story halfway through the sequel, but Sonnenfeld worked to get him back in the picture much earlier. The decision looks to be a good one, " Will said, the first day we worked with Tommy, which was about two weeks into the movie, we were shooting in Grand Central Station [in New York], and it was the first day Tommy was on. We got finished shooting, and Will, with a big grin on his face, came up to me and said, 'K makes J,'" Sonnenfeld told Sci Fi." In other words, without Tommy, there is no Will. Without K, Tommy's character, there is no J. Which is why I needed to get him into the movie as early as possible."

Fans may recall that co-star Linda Fiorentino ended up as Smith's partner at the end of the first film. However, Sonnenfeld reports that the actress will not appear in the sequel. With Kay returning, however, there was not much room for Fiorentino's Elle. With only a scene devoted to writing the character out, the actress did not want to do the movie, so Elle is dealt with off-camera.

Rip Torn will return as Chief Zed. Other familiar faces from the original will return as well.

SCARY GODMOTHER STAGE PLAY

What follows is a Comics2Stage special report:

Just in time for Halloween comes the spook-tacularly silly tale of Scary Godmother. Runamuck Productions is proud to present it's world premiere stage adaptation of Scary Godmother, based on the books and graphic novels by Jill Thompson, at the Athenaeum Studio Theatre, 2936 N. Southport. Scary Godmother previews Friday, September 14th , 2001, at 8pm, Saturday, September 15th at 8pm and Sun, September 16th at 4pm. The show opens Friday, September 21st and runs through Sun, October 28th. The show plays every Friday at 8pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm, and Sundays at 4pm. Tickets are only $10.

Scared of monsters? So is little Hannah Marie. But tonight is Hannah's first time out trick-or-treating with the big kids and all her mean cousin Jimmy wants to do is scare her into going home. After getting tricked into the spooky house on the corner Hannah discovers that some kids have fairy godmothers, but she is lucky enough to have a Scary Godmother; A fun-loving witch who appears when Hannah's frightened.

While the big kids worry outside, inside Hannah meets the craziest bunch of friendly monsters the Fright Side has to offer: Mister Pettibone, the proverbial Skeleton in the closet; Bug-A-Boo, the monster under the bed; Orson, the vampire boy, and Harry, the werewolf in sheep's pajamas? But will Scary Godmother's ghoulish group of hysterical fiends/friends, be enough to get Hannah over her fear of monsters?

Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmaster at 312-902-1500, online at Ticketmaster.com, or in person at the Athenaeum box office. This show is appropriate for children of all ages.

Scary Godmother is adapted by Jill Thompson and Heath Corson, Production design by Jill Thompson, directed by Heath Corson.

Scary Godmother features: Thomas Colby, Keith Ellis, Andrea Faklaris, Jennifer Koppa, Ryan Magnuson, Clint McCreery, Renee Prince, Chris Michael Thompson, Ben Veatch, Sara Wehrheim, Philip Winston, and Patrick Zielinski as Bug-a-Boo.

Stage Manager is Kourtney Vahle, Teachnical Director/Lighting Designer is Brandon Wardell, Asst. Set Designer is Vanessa Conway, Costume Designer is Amy Jahnke, Make Up Artist is Kate Mura, Sound Design is Dr. David Sohl, Executive Producer is Kathleen Collins.

WONDER WOMAN

A few weeks back Comics2Film reported that the latest draft of the Wonder Woman script was making the rounds in Hollywood and the talk was very positive.

Now Stax, famous for his superhero script reviews at IGN FilmForce, has written up his impressions of the draft by Todd Alcott (13 Ghosts). Unlike the insiders C2F had heard from, Stax is less-than enthusiastic about Alcott's take on the character. Stax characterizes his review as being "mixed/negative" with minor spoilers.

Check it out if you want to know more about the direction of the Wonder Woman movie.

DAREDEVIL

Popcorn.co.uk recently posted a video interview with producer Gary Foster about the upcoming Daredevil movie. Foster told Popcorn that he expects the cameras to start rolling on the movie in November.

Foster said that the script by director Mark Steven Johnson (Grumpy Old Men) and Brian Helgeland (A Knight's Tale) is "great." He feels the movie is more character-driven, darker and edgier than other super-hero flicks.

Although no one has been cast in the role of the man without fear, Foster did run though his wish list. Foster would like to see Ed Norton, Guy Pearce, Matt Damon or Mark Wahlberg in the part.

SGT. ROCK

Dark Horizons reports that producer Joel Silver likes Vin Diesel for the big-screen version of Sgt. Rock. Silver supposedly said as much to French mag CineLive in a recent interview.

Last we heard Sgt. Rock, which had been developed as a project specifically tailored to Arnold Schwarzenegger, was stalled. Perhaps interest from Diesel could get the movie going again.

FROM HELL

[From Hell]Here's a look at the second sheet poster for the From Hell movie. Thanks to Dark Horizons, who originally ran the poster. Click it for a full-sized image.

TINTIN

According to the Dark Horizons website, Belgian newspapers are reporting that Steven Spielberg is nosing around Herge's Tintin. According to the report, the producer/director is hoping to the property into a CG animated movie. Spielberg is said to have looked into developing Tintin in the past, having acquired and dropped the rights in the 1980's.

SPIDER-MAN

The Official Spider-Man movie site has recently been upgraded with some new features.

The site sports a new intro which integrates some of the images that fans have been seeing throughout the summer. In addition to incorporating some stills from the trailer, the new intro also displays some shots from the 5 minute clip that was shown recently at the San Diego and Wizard World conventions. Stills from the lab where Parker has his accident, as well as a look at the genetically altered spider that does the deed, are part of the site's new intro.

If you did attend the Wizard World convention last month, you may have picked up the Daily Bugle Press badge that was being handed out. If you did, and if you're a member of the Spider-Man Network (the members only section of the site), you have access to exclusive content. Go to "Convention Extras" and enter the top secret code on the back of the badge to see a clip of Tobey Maguire talking about how exciting it is to be the web-slinger. (Don't tell anyone, but the top secret code is "JJJ*050302").

The site will also open it's Spider-Man store on September 14th. Members of the Spider-Man Network will have an early look at the store on September 7th.

MUTANT X

Fans can get another sneak peek at the Mutant X TV show by visiting MutantX.net. Last week the site unveiled another TV video promo. This new clips gives a nice intro to each of the characters and features a number of F/X, makeup and action shots. Lawsuits aside, the clip does put one in mind of the X-Men movie. Regardless, the show does look cool.

The site has also updated its list of cities that will be airing the show. Check it out for your local Mutant X outlet.

FATHOM

Theory: Man-Thing Is James Gunn's Final Guardians of the Galaxy Easter Egg

More in CBR Exclusives