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PRIMATE, PARTS UNKNOWN, WYNNONA EARP

[Primate]Comics2Film recently chatted with comic writer Beau Smith about his various comic book movie projects. Smith has many irons in the fire, the hottest of which is the soon-to-be-released Primate: The Sword of Darwin.

The comic is due out in October as the first story to be published in Image's new title Image Introduces. Smith wrote the story with writer/producer/actor Kevin Bernhardt. Mitch Byrd provides the art.

The comic is part of a multi-media development effort by Idea + Design Works. With the comic complete and soon to be in comic stores, Smith tells us work is underway setting the property up as a movie.

Bernhardt is taking advance preview copies of the book and showing them around Hollywood as part of his pitch on the film. "He's got 28 meetings with different studio people. He's started on that already," Smith said. The pair are confident they can get it set up before the comic hits the stands.

"There's this direct-to-video company called American Film Video. They called two weeks ago and they're real hot and heavy on Parts Unknown," Smith told C2F. Parts Unknown is his sci-fi, invasion actioner that was published most recently by Image.

"They do $1-$2 million budget direct-to-video movies, a lot of action adventure, kung-fu, science fiction, horror -- the stuff that I really meant for Part Unknown to be -- B-movie type stuff," Smith said. The writer previously described the concept as "Mars Needs Women meets They Live."

Smith also reports he has some potential interest in Wynnona Earp. Journalist and producer Giselle Fernandez likes the concept and is working on a web-content deal with Smith. Current discussions call for the character to appear as part of Fernandez's currently-in-development Daring Dames website. The site feature inspiring stories of daring women.

The comic was created by Smith with artist Joyce Chin. It features the adventures of a a modern day descendent of Wyatt Earp who serves as a U.S. Marshall by hunting down supernatural threats. Reprints of the comic will, most likely, but the initial web offering from Daring Dames. Depending on how well received that is, other possibilities may develop.

BALL AND CHAIN

Although the Fox network did not put it on their fall schedule, fans should not yet give up on the TV show based on Scott Lobdell's comic book Ball and Chain. Comics2Film spoke with Howard Gordon, an executive producer on the show, tells us the show "officially still is a midseason contender."

The producers shot a pilot for the show with Dan Cortese and Myndy Crist. Due the the heavy special effects a presentation piece was completed for screening by the networks, rather than a completed pilot episode.

Gordon is currently working on Fox's new one hour drama 24 which stars Kiefer Sutherland. The show is unique in that the entire season takes place in one day, with each of the 24 episodes covering one hour, told in real time.

Sutherland plays a Counter-Terrorist agent protecting an African-American presidential hopeful from an assassination attempt. Fox is supporting the show with a 60 second trailer running in movie theaters through September 13.

ELTINGVILLE CLUB

[Dork]Evan Dorkin told Comics2Film that there'll be little new news on the Eltingville Club show for a few months, while the show is being animated overseas. After that footage will be edited together for the pilot.

Dorkin did say they are in talks with a band to record the theme song for the show, but is currently not at liberty to say who it is. "It's a favorite band of mine, but not a household name combo, although they should be by all rights. The only thing I'll say is that it is a band that I've plugged in my books before"

However, the stateside production team have put together a test reel. "We've seen a short color/dialogue track test and I think it looked promising, although I could have been drunk at the time or just plain fooling myself," Dorkin quipped. "So, it all comes down to the long wait until the footage comes in in a few months, then the excruciating wait while we edit the damned thing, put the music and effects in, and pray someone likes me up there. Or down there, in Atlanta."

R.I.P.D.

[Tracker]Producer and writer Peter Lenkov told Comics2Film that he's just begun work on another rewrite of his screenplay for R.I.P.D. The comic told of the Rest In Peace Department, an afterworld agency policing spirits and demons. It was published by Dark Horse and developed simultaneously as a comic and movie property.

Lenkov is also writing a new title called Fort for Dark Horse comics. The comic is based on the paranormal investigations of Charles Fort during the turn-of-the-century. "Think of it as period X-Files," Lenkov told us.

Finally, the producer sent along a teaser flier for his upcoming syndicated show Tracker. The show stars Adrian Paul as an alien marshal sent to earth to round up extraterrestrial. prison escapees. The flier was distributed at the Comic-Con international in San Diego last month.

HARD BOILED

Variety reports that Warner Bros. is in negotiations with comic creators Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow for the feature film rights to their early-90's comic book Hard Boiled. According to the write up David Fincher (Fight Club) is set to direct and Nicolas Cage is angling to star.

The article points out that both comic book creators have a relationship with the studio, with Miller currently penning Batman: Year One and Darrow doing design work on The Matrix franchise.

The article doesn't mention it, but last week Cage told Cinescape that he was working to get the movie going under his Saturn Films production shingle. Will Cage, the producer, finally help Cage, the actor realize his dream of playing a comic book character on the big screen?

BATMAN BEYOND

Paul Dini recently updated fans as to the status of the Batman Beyond live-action movie, according to a report on the Toonzone.net website. Dini spoke at the recent Wizard World show and told fans that he's completed his screenplay for the film. However, he also said that the production is currently "on hold" Warners Bros. is apparently not pursuing further development at the time.

BIG DADDY DANGER

Matt Brady of Newsarama chatted with comic book artist Adam Pollina about his upcoming projects, many of which straddle the the line between comic books and movies.

Pollina's first entrée into Hollywood came with Hellhole and Image/Top Cow comic he developed with writer Scott Lobdell, which subsequently got optioned for development as a movie. "That first foray with Scott into Hollywood via a creator-owned project helped pave the way for other projects," Pollina told Brady.

After Hellhole, Pollina sold a concept called Shaolin to Disney. "I pitched it as a comic, they picked it up, and I need to create it as a comic in order to fulfill my contractual obligations," Pollina said. "I have my fingers crossed, because the director, Hype Williams really wants to be attached to the project. The screenplay is greenlit, and Stan Winston is doing all the special effects, and I'm heading up the design team with him."

Pollina teamed again with Lobdell on a pitch called Generation Last which got picked up by USA Films. The pair created a mock comic book to use with the pitch and are now developing a screenplay for the movie.

And most recently, the Hollywood trades announced plans for a movie version of Pollina's upcoming DC Comic Big Daddy Danger.

"I had loved for the longest, longest time, since I was a kid, watching WWF and all the James Bond films. I mixed wrestling with James Bond, and came up with the pro wrestler by day/super spy by night idea," Pollina said, describing the concept. DC Comics editors Jenette Kahn and Mike Carlin agreed to publish the comic as a creator-owned series under the DC banner.

"After DC picked it up, I went out pitching it all over Hollywood. It was really difficult, but come the last day - literally the last day I was out there, both Mike DeLuca from Dreamworks and Nina Jacobsen from Disney made a play for the property," Pollina recalled. "Because of my pre-existing relationship I had with Disney, they were able to beat out Dreamworks.

The comic creator reports that he's starting on the fifth issue of the series. "It's nine issues, and we're trying to get the first half done before we solicit it."

With all this going on, Pollina still has other irons in the fire. "I'm already in negotiations with a company to do three, four-issue creator-owned series to follow Big Daddy Danger. All of these series already have some interest in Hollywood, and that helps validate the strength of the idea on both fronts. Both comic book and Hollywood people can see that it's not some ultra dark, super esoteric comic book property that only hardcore comic fans would appreciate. They all have mass appeal."

Check out the complete interview for more from Pollina about his various comic book and movie projects.

SMALLVILLE

Craig Byrne's Kryptonsite.com reports that episode #4 of Smallville will be titled "Hothead". The story is said to involve an abusive football coach who has control over fire. Byrne also tells us that the script for episode #3, "Jitters" was written by Cherie Bennett and Jeff Gottesfeld.

BLADE 2

Ain't It Cool recently posed a video clip of behind the scenes footage for the upcoming Blade 2 movie. The clips was taped from E! News Daily. Fans are cautioned that the clip does contain spoilers in that it reveals the plot device used for bringing Kris Kristofferson's Whistler character back for the sequel.

BABY BLUES

The WB Network as decided not to air any additional episodes of Baby Blues according to Variety. This includes 6 episodes from the first season and the entire 13 episode second season of the animated half-hour based on Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott's comic strip.

All unaired episodes are already in the can, at a cost of more than $15 million to the network. However, accounting rules make it lest costly for the net to dump the show, than to air the remaining episodes as summer filler. WB demonstrated that the show no longer fit into its long-term plans, which no longer include prime-time animation.

"It was a very difficult decision to make,"' WB entertainment president Jordan Levin is quoted as saying. "But from a business and scheduling standpoint, it becomes very difficult to program animation when it doesn't have the potential to break out like The Simpsons."

BARRY WEEN

Over at The Last Comic Site Widgett interviewed comic scribe Judd Winick. Among the many topics discussed, Winick talked about plans to move his Barry Ween comic to other media.

The foul-mouthed boy genius is in development for both film and television over at Platinum Studios. "Platinum's re-upped for another year, so we're still good and going," Winick told LCS. "I can't say who we're going to right now, but we're talking to a major company at this moment."

Winick also said that, if Barry Ween were to go as an animated show, plans would be to clean it up, rather than try to take it to a cable outlet where the rough humor could be preserved.

"It's...and in my opinion you would...having kids cuss in a comic and do all this stuff in a comic is infinitely different than if we did it on television, and different from South Park," Winnick said. "South Park...those guys have this unbelievable balance, and there's something about the kids--the way they look--that it's so crudely animated, that is such a departure from reality. Even though Barry would be still Barry, and blowing things up and making dinosaurs and going back in time and whatnot, it still might have too much of a realistic bent I think, with all the cussing. It might just be weird. And also that...oh, Jeremy talking about sex way too much.

"I'd like to try it a different way," Winnick continued. "I mean, I'd like to see if we could make it for kids. I'll know quite quickly if it won't. And so will the people I'm doing it for, but I think we could make it work."

X-MEN 2

Corona Coming Attractions reports that Hugh Jackman made a press tour of Brazil recently to support the release of Swordfish there. Corona cites a report on Brazil's Terra Networks Cinema website in which Jackman also blabbed about plans for X-Men 2.

Jackman told journalists that the next movie would focus on Wolverine's search for his origins and true identity. The actor also said that filming is set to begin in March 2002.

In other mutant news, Los Angeles Laker star Shaquille O'Neal says he wants in on the X-fun. Variety columnist Army Archerd reports that NBA Star/rapper/actor is looking to do another action movie and is currently in talks with KISS front man and film producer Gene Simmons about a project. Shaq is also said to be crossing his fingers for a guest shot in the X-Men sequel.

SPIDER-MAN

[Spider-Man]Variety reports that California state regulators are looking to assess a $59,000 fine against Sony Pictures for alleged safety violations that caused the tragic March 6 death of Tim Holcombe on the set of Spider-Man.

Holcombe was struck during construction of a set from the movie when a boom extension toppled onto an aerial basket the welder was working in.

The August 15 filing by Occupational Safety & Health alleges that the boom was a shop-made extension which caused a forklift's load capacity to be exceeded. Furthermore the forklift was allegedly modified without written approval from the manufacturers. Each of these alleged violations carries a $25,000 fine.

Columbia/Sony has until September 6 to appeal the fine. The studio has not yet decided on a course of action.

A rep for the studio told Variety, "We deeply regret the accident and continue to cooperate fully with all investigative agencies as we have from the outset. We are doing everything we can on an ongoing basis to assure that crews on all our productions follow very strict safety procedures to minimize the risk of accident."

On a less serious note, fans of cigar-chomping, flat-top-wearing, blow-hard newspaper editors can now put one right on their computer desktop. That's right! The latest addition to the official Spider-Man movie website is a wallpaper image of none other than J. Jonah Jameson (played by J. K. Simmons). Is it just us or is Simmons the spitting image of triple J?

WITCHBLADE

[Witchblade]The TNT cable network announced last week that it was ordering up a new season of their hit TV series Witchblade.

The series finale for season 1 closed with a 2.7 rating on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. (tying its highest rating ever – week one, Tuesday, June 12, at 9 p.m.). The series bolstered TNT's line-up by delivering double-digit increases in rating, household delivery and all key target demos versus the same time period, year to date. During its 11-week run, Witchblade was watched by more than 35 million unduplicated viewers.

"TNT's commitment to the Witchblade series is prompted by the strong performance of the two-hour pilot and our initial series run," said Robert DeBitetto, president of original programming, TNT. "We are thrilled to be able to offer viewers additional hours of a drama franchise they clearly enjoy, while continuing our successful partnership with sister company Warner Bros. Television."

The Witchblade ratings highlights for summer of 2001 include:

  • Versus the same time period 2001, year to date, Witchblade was up 44% (2.3) in rating and up 41% in household delivery (1,849,000).
  • In key demos, Witchblade was up 45% in delivery of men 18-49 (687,000); up 53% in delivery of women 18-49 (657,000); up 63% in delivery of men 25-54 (748,000) and up 69% in delivery of women 25-54 (757,000).
  • Ratings ended on an upward trend, with August episodes averaging a 2.4 rating versus a 2.1 for July.
  • Compared to TNT's performance for the same weeks, same time period, last summer (2000), Witchblade's 2.3 rating is a 64% increase.

August 26th TNT devoted an entire Sunday to Witchblade, featuring the two-hour TNT Original pilot that launched the series, followed by episodes 1-11.

FROM HELL

From Hell has been assigned an R rating for strong violence/gore, sexuality, language and drug content by the MPAA.

The movie is an adaptation of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's graphic novel about the investigation of the Jack the Ripper case. It stars Johnny Depp and Heather Graham and is directed by Allen and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society).

Thanks to UpcomingMovies for the lead.

DAN DARE

Andrew Paul of the Eagle Archives website tells us we can add some new names to the cast list on the Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future animated show. According to Paul, Julian Holloway will be voicing the role of Albert Digby, Carole Ruggier plays Professor Jocelyn Peabody and Rob Paulsen vocalizes the sinister Mekon.

MUTANT X

Two weeks ago, New York District Court Judge Allen Schwartz ruled on the lawsuits filed by 20th Century Fox, Tribune Entertainment and Marvel. The suits centered on the dispute over the upcoming Mutant X TV show, which Fox feels violates their rights to develop live-action X-Men properties.

Schwartz ruling's did not prohibit Tribune and Marvel from going forward with the show, but it id allow Fox to pursue monetary damages against the show's producers. At the time, Ted Russell, Fox's VP of litigation threatened, "If Tribune and Marvel decide to use the title Mutant X, they do so at their own peril."

Now Variety reports that Fox is making good on the threats and is filing a new motion to prevent Tribune from using the Mutant X title.

Fox's new action, filed on Tuesday, includes another motion for injunction and a motion of an expedited appeal in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"Fox is confident that it will ultimately prevail," the studio said in a statement.

DAREDEVIL

Corona Coming Attractions reports that Jim Acheson and Warren Manser will develop the costume for the soon-to-lens Daredevil movie. The word comes from an interview with Little Red Hot creator Dawn Brown published on the Digital Webbing website. Brown is marred to Manser.

"He works as a conceptual illustrator in the film industry. Most recently, he worked with the costume designer Jim Acheson developing the Spidey suit for the movie next year," Brown is quoted as saying, "and he just started working with Jim again to develop the Daredevil suit for the upcoming movie."

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