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Wed, February 6th, 2002 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

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JEREMIAH

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On March 3 Showtime unveils its near-future sci-fi show Jeremiah. While fans in Europe are well-acquainted with Hermann Huppen's comic that is the basis for the show, it will be the first time that many U.S. viewers meet Jeremiah (Luke Perry) and his partner Kurdy (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).

Scott Rosenberg serves as Executive Producer on the show for Platinum Studios, who publishes the Jeremiah graphic albums domestically. Rosenberg recently talked about his first experiences with the book.

"Jeremiah predated Mad Max," Rosenberg said. He was first introduced to the title while he was the president of Malibu Comics. "I thought it had a cool world, and I liked the relationship between Jeremiah and Kurdy. They lived in a future world that wasn't futuristic in the usual sci-fi sense-it was essentially now."

Jeremiah takes place in a world where a virus wiped out everyone over the age of 13, an event called "The Big Death." Now its 15 years later and Jeremiah and Kurdy make their way through a chaotic world pieced back together by children.

Warner, who previously starred in Cosby and Malcolm and Eddie,expressed that the characters' relationship is the key to survival in that world. "I think both characters, to a large extent, serve as each other's conscience. Because of the post-apocalyptic element of the show, everyone is a scavenger, everyone is about survival," Warner explained. "When my character, Kurdy, and Luke's character, Jeremiah, hook up, there's the sense of survival, but there's also a sense of wanting to have someone around to watch your back."

Perry, not only the star of the show, but also an executive producer said of the pair, "These two really compel each other to take action and move to the next place in the story."

"Their relationship with each other is awesome, like it is in the comic," Rosenberg adds.

The show will be short on permanent sets and feature different locations from week to week. "Jeremiah was a particular challenge because Jeremiah and Kurdy are going to new locales on a regular basis-so it's not an inexpensive show to make, but their journey is really a significant portion of the show."

"The characters don't have a home, per se, so we're always going to a new place," Perry said of the production. "We shoot the show outside a lot. We have very few standing sets. You have to sort of make a choice up front, what you're going to do about the weather. And some people, they try really hard and just fight the weather and make it look like it's not raining and blowing light in for sun. And we said, when it rains, it rains, and we shoot it for rain. And when the rain turns to freezing rain, we shoot that, too."

"I'm very used to, obviously, working onstage in a studio for only about 8-9 hours a day. So working, shooting on location all the time in the Vancouver winter has been quite a challenge for a creature of comfort such as myself," Warner added.

The actor also added that being on an edgy, cable show has its perks. "We get to do a good deal of fighting. There's a lot of hand-to-hand combat, things I wasn't able to do on Cosby," Warner said. "I jump at the chance, every chance I get, to have Kurdy involved in a fighting scene or be able to use profanity. So we're trying to tone down Kurdy's use of profanity because Theo, of course, couldn't say "motherfucker." [laughter] And there's a certain ring that it has for me. So I love saying it in every scene I get a chance to."

Jeremiah debuts with a two-hour movie on March 3 at 8:00 p.m. on Showtime. Following that it falls into its regular time-slot on Fridays at 10:45 p.m. as part of the network's Sci-Friday line-up.

THE ELTINGVILLE CLUB

Evan Dorkin, creator of The Eltingville Club told Comics2Film that his animated pilot has been given an air date. "Welcome To Eltingville" will play as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block on Sunday, March 3rd at 11p.m. (ET).

The Eltingville Club focuses on four pop-culture-obsessed geeks who openly despise those who cannot grasp the importance of a M.O.C. Oola action figure. The caustic club has appeared regularly in Dorkin's anthology Dork, published by Slave Labor Graphics.

We've been intently following the progress of the pilot show since Dorkin and partner Sarah Dyer announced it in April of 2000. Dorkin described his role in the show as "creator/producer/writer'-type" while Dyer came on as story editor and eventually took on the role of executive producer. Dorkin and Dyer have a history with Cartoon Network due to their long stint on Space Ghost Coast To Coast series.

Chuck Sheetz directed "Welcome To Eltingville". Sheetz has previously directed episodes of King of the Hill and The Simpsons.

Cartoon Network will make an official announcement of The Eltingville Club soon.

SOME TROUBLE OF A SERRIOUS NATURE

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Post production work is underway on Shi creator Billy Tucci's indie short film Some Trouble of a SeRRious Nature.

Tucci's been busy editing the movie as well as working up promotional materials. "I have three more days of shooting. I keep expanding it," Tucci told us. The comic creator and filmmaker sent over the post artwork for both Some Trouble and the making-of documentary Any Damn Fool.

"The documentary's coming together nice," Tucci said, "and the trailer's funny as hell. I showed it at a Long Island Film Foundation meeting and everyone started cheering."

Tucci plans to have the film completed on April 1. He then hopes to screen it at air shows and all the major film festivals. "We're gonna make a DVD out of it and a video tape. The DVD will have some stuff from the comics in there, storyboards. We want to load it up with as much stuff as possible."

Both the VHS and DVD copies will have the film itself as well as the documentary.

Tucci shot Some Trouble late last year on Long Island. It stars Brian Finney (The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) and Andrew Finney (Let it Be Me) as two hapless country boys who come into possession of a F4U-4 Corsair war plane and the misadventures that ensue.

SPIDER-MAN

Comics2Film contributor Joe Hendren writes in to share his recent brush with Bruce Campbell with us. Hendren saw the actor at a screening of his documentary short "Fanalysis" in Minneapolis last week.

Campbell did some Q & A with the fans and, naturally, was asked about his role in Spider-Man. Campbell told fans that his role as the ring announcer was a "cheesy three-day gig" but also said that his character plays an integral part in the film.

Campbell's wrestling ring announcer asks Parker (who is wearing a shabby, throw-together precursor to the Spidey suit) what his name is, but the kids hasn't thought of one yet. So Bruce dubs him, "The Amazing Spider-Man!!!"

Joe tells us a newly restored The Evil Dead was also shown at the screening.

In other Spidey news, the dotmusic.com website reports that Alien Ant Farm will be among the artists contributing music to the movie. According to the music site the group recorded a track called "Bug Bytes" that will appear on the soundtrack.

BLUEBERRY

Vincent Cassel has been cast to play the lead role in the movie version of Moebius' Blueberry. The news comes straight from the actor's official website.

Cassel can currently be seen in Birthday Girl and also has the title role in Brian Helgeland's upcoming film The Sin Eater.

Blueberry will be directed by Jan Kounen. Kounen and Cassel previously worked together on Dobermann.

Thanks to Paul for sending in the scoop!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Variety reports that Twentieth Century Fox is in Prague this month scouting locations for the big screen version of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Cameras are slated to roll in June for 12 or 13 weeks. Morocco and Iceland are also potential locations.

Sean Connery is looking likely to star in the movie. Stephen Norrington (Blade) is set to direct from a script by James Robinson (Starman). The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is based on the comic by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill.

FANTASTIC FOUR

The BBC Buffy website reveals that Doug Petrie, a "top writer" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer has signed on to do a draft of the Fantastic Four movie.

According to the site, Petrie met director Peyton Reed (Bring It On) through mutual friend Christophe Beck, composer of Buffy's incidental scores.

Thanks to Corona Coming Attractions for pointing the way!

BIRDS OF PREY

The Hollywood trades reported that the WB network has formally picked up Birds of Prey. The show is based on the DC comic of the same name and has links to the Batman mythos.

SMALLVILLE

Clark loses his powers to another and Lex turns on him on "Leech", the February 12th episode of Smallville.

When Clark (Tom Welling) rescues his classmate Eric (guest star Shawn Ashmore of X-Men fame) from harm during an electrical storm, they are both struck by lightening, resulting in all of Clark's superpowers transferring to Eric. While Eric relishes his new life as "Superboy," Clark is torn between his happiness at finally being normal and his growing concern for the town's safety as Eric starts to abuse his powers. Meanwhile, Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) believes he finally has undeniable proof of Clark's superpowers and confronts him. Greg Beeman directed the episode written by Tim Schlattmann.

Leech airs Tuesday, February 12 at 9:00 p.m. ET on The WB network

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

Also in Smallville news: In the Wat ch With Wanda column on E! Online, Wanda reveals that former Doogie Howser, Neil Patrick Harris is shooting a guest sting on Smallville. Harris plays the villain of that segment. The episode should air in April or May. He's currently set to do just the one show, but his story arc reportedly allows for the character's return.

Thanks to Zentertainment for the lead.

JUSTICE LEAGUE

Next Monday night Cartoon Network airs an encore showing of part two of "The Enemy Below" storyline of Justice League. "The Enemy Below" introduces Aquaman to the cartoon's continuity. The story arc features the voice of Scott Rummell as the sea king.

"The Enemy Below Part 2" airs Monday, February 11 at 9:30 p.m. on Cartoon Network. Encore showings are 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 16. The widescreen presentation airs Sunday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m.

Cartoon Network has also released the March schedule for Justice League. Look for the conclusion of "War World" which pits the league against Mongul, the world dominating villain who drove Hal Jordan to mass murder (in the comics anyway) and "Brave and the Bold" featuring Green Lantern and Flash. Rounding out the month are repeats of the Wonder Woman vehicle "Paradise Lost."

Mar. 2

12:30 p.m.

War World Pt. 1 (episode 12)

Mar. 2

10:00 p.m.

War World Pt. 1 (episode 12 - Widescreen)

Mar. 3

7:00 p.m.

War World Pt. 2 (episode 13)

Mar. 9

12:30 p.m.

War World Pt. 2 (episode 13)

Mar. 9

10:00 p.m.

War World Pt. 2 (episode 13 - Widescreen)

Mar. 10

7:00 p.m.

The Brave and the Bold Pt. 1 (episode 14)

Mar. 16

12:30 p.m.

The Brave and the Bold Pt. 1 (episode 14)

Mar. 16

10:00 p.m.

The Brave and the Bold Pt. 1 (episode 14 - Widescreen)

Mar. 17

7:00 p.m.

The Brave and the Bold Pt. 2 (episode 15)

Mar. 23

12:30 p.m.

The Brave and the Bold Pt. 2 (episode 15)

Mar. 23

10:00 p.m.

The Brave and the Bold Pt. 2 (episode 15 - Widescreen)

Mar. 24

7:00 p.m.

Paradise Lost Pt. 1 (episode 10 - Repeat)

Mar. 30

12:30 p.m.

Paradise Lost Pt. 1 (episode 10 - Repeat)

Mar. 30

10:00 p.m.

Paradise Lost Pt. 1 (episode 10 - Repeat - Widescreen)

Mar. 31

7:00 p.m.

Paradise Lost Pt. 2 (episode 11 - Repeat)

WITCHBLADE

Season 2 of Witchblade is currently in production in Toronto. TNT has announced that Joe Butler has been cast in an episode of the new show. Butler happens to be the drummer for The Lovin' Spoonful, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is also the real-life dad of Witchblade star Yancy Butler.

Thanks to Dex for the info!

Next week, TNT's re-airing of season 1 continues with episode #3: "Diplopia".

When a Manhattan art collector is murdered, a witness to the crime fingers handsome young artist, Isaac Sullivan. Sara seeks help from Internet artifacts dealer, Gabriel Bowman, and Dominique Boucher, who feeds her clues that the Witchblade's blinking eye deciphers.

"Diplopia" airs Monday, February 11th at 9pm ET on TNT. An encore airing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 12th at 11pm ET. The encore showing is presented in widescreen format.

Fans who can't wait for season 2 for their fix of new Witchblade TV materials can check out the new novel by by John De Chancie. The book, simply titled "Witchblade" is based on the TV version of the character. It is availble this month in book stores everywhere.

Thanks to Jessica for the info.

SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

The Comics Continuum published a nice write-up about what fans can expect when the Spider-Man animated show hits the airwaves. The Continuum recently toured Mainframe Entertainment in Vancouver and met with Audu Paden, who is producing the show for Columbia TriStar, and Steven Wendland, producing for Mainframe.

The producers revealed that Spider-Man will be CGI rendered, but with a new process that will not look like previous 3-D shows. Paden told The Continuum that the process has everything modeled in 3-D sculpture, but there is a final render process that assigns the colors to the artwork that are like paint colors.

"So the ultimate look will be a prohibitively expensive 2-D feature film - on a TV budget," Paden said. "The characters will always be on model. The range of performance will be something that we can tap into things that worked before, and play them forward again. There is exquisite control over lighting and mood."

The new process will allow the cartoon to have dynamic images of the web-slinger swinging through the city, with the camera moving along with him.

"It's going to be cinematic," Paden said. "All the things that they can do in a live-action feature film, we can do with the disciplines of our model domain."

In a separate write-up The Continuum spoke with Michael Rosenbaum, a name that comic and TV fans should be well-acquainted with. Rosenbaum plays Lex Luthor on the hit WB show Smallville. He also voices The Flash on the hit Cartoon Network show Justice League.

But the actor isn't content to stick to the DC Universe. He told The Continuum that he's been approached about giving voice to none other that Spider-Man in the upcoming animated show for MTV.

Rosenbaum told The Continuum, "If I could be Spider-Man, Flash and Lex, then I would just be a legend."

Indeed.


MEPHISTO

A new Hollywood production partnership bodes well for a Top Shelf Comics title according to today's Variety.

Producer Joe Singer (Dr. Dolittle, Dante's Peak) has partnered with entrepreneur and Hollywood newcomer Janet Jensen to form Singer/Jensen Entertainment. The new shingle has scooped up several properties for development, including Jason Hall and Matt Kindt's Mephisto from Top Shelf.

The screenplay for Mephisto is to be written by Michael Browning (Bad Company, Six Days, Seven Nights). The story involves a couple with a troubled marriage who attend a magic show. The woman volunteers for the disappearing act but the magician (Mephisto) dies in the middle of the trick. With the wife missing the husband embarks on a metaphysical journey to bring her back.

Bruce Berman is set to produce with Jensen and Singer. Alva Entertainment will executive produce.


MEN IN BLACK 2

[Men In Black II]According to The Hollywood Reporter Sony has rung up $35 million in promotional deals for the upcoming Men In Black II. Burger King and Mercedes-Benz are the biggest sponsors of the film. BK is set to cough up $15 million in promo dollars while Mercedes-Benz kicks in $10 million.

Mountain Dew, Sprint PCS, Ray-Ban and Hamilton Watches are also among the sponsors involved with the film.

Will Smith recently talked to Entertainment Weekly about the movie. Smith told the magazine that his objective opinion is that the new movie will be, "bigger than the first one."

Smith also talked up Lara Flynn Boyle, who plays the villainous space invader in this one. "She wants to take over the Earth, so she comes and takes the form of a Victoria's Secret model. It's the first magazine the alien ship comes across."

Thanks to Cinescape for the quotes.

WHITEOUT, QUEEN & COUNTRY

[Whiteout]Comic Book Resources big-shot Jonah Weiland recently sat down with comic and novel-writing big-shot Greg Rucka to talk comics and movies. The result is a Real Audio interview currently running on CBR.

Comic fans know Rucka as one of the voices motivating Batman each and every month. He also pens creator owned titles like Whiteout and Queen & Country, both of which have been optioned for movies.

"Queen & Country has been optioned by Fox for Tall Trees Productions," Rucka said to Weiland. The pic was optioned last June. Part of the deal was that Rucka would write a treatment with a possibility that he'd also do the screenplay.

"They have a treatment. They are waiting on a screenplay decision as to when to begin writing it," Rucka said. "It is moving forward. That's in a stronger position than Whiteout."

Whiteout, Rucka's murder in Antarctica comic, was optioned late in 1999 by Columbia pictures. Wolfgang Petersen and Gail Katz (both of The Perfect Storm) are producing under their Radiant Productions partner.

"We're kind of in a holding pattern there. It was optioned. One screenplay was done, then it sort of stalled out," Rucka told Weiland. "The original Radiant [Productions] deal was with Columbia, they are no longer in a deal with Columbia/Sony.

"I actually got a fax a couple of weeks ago of another take on the project and you know, there've been all sorts of vacillations there and alterations made," the writer continued. "One version has Carrie with another guy as opposed to the Lilly character. That seems to be the first thing that everybody says, 'That goes!' Because people won't come to see a movie with two women leads ...'"

Rucka blames the nervousness about female leads on Hollywood's tendency to pigeon-hole concepts. "Hollywood has a real, real long memory for things that have been done badly. For instance, "V.I. Warshawski" has killed, absolutely, any opportunity for a female P.I. story in Hollywood. People are very nervous about female private investigators based on a film that's now well over ten years old."

For more from the extensive interview including many insights into Rucka's comic works, please visit Comic Book Resources.

SHADOWMAN

Dimension Films has optioned the rights to Shadowman according to today's Hollywood Reporter. The movie would be based on the Acclaim/Valiant comic book of the same name, that spawned as successful video game.

The movie had previously been set up at Dimension, so we're assuming that the option lapsed at some point. As of March of last year Barry Levine (Detroit Rock City) was producing for Brigade Entertainment. Ice Cube (Next Friday) was also on board as a producer and a potential star. The article gives no word if these attachments are part of the new option.

THE HULK

[ALS Building]Is the Hulk going back to school? According to a write-up in yesterday's Daily Californian. The Californian, the independent, student-run newspaper which serves the University of California Berkeley reports that filming for the movie may take place on the University's campus.

The Berkley lab is said to be a candidate for a shooting location. According to the write-up Universal is interested in using the lab's distinctive dome-shaped Advanced Light Source building in the Berkeley Hills.

"They like the looks of it from the inside. It's pretty fantastic," Ron Kolb, a spokesperson for the UC-run lab said. "They're looking at us as a prospective place, (but) we haven't made the commitment yet."

The use of the lab building hinges on Universal being able to cut a deal with the city of Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"One of the stipulations if we were to agree to this commitment is that none of the research could be negatively impacted," Kolb told The Daily Californian. That caveat would likely limit filming to weekends or evenings.

The write-up also mentions that Hulk producer and co-screenwriter James Schamus is a U.C. Berkeley graduate.

ASTERIX AND OBELIX: MISSION CLEOPATRA

Variety reports that Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra enjoyed a big, but not record-setting opening in France on Thursday.

The film reportedly sold 629,148 tickets on a record 957 screens making it the #2 opener in the history of French cinema. Luc Besson's Taxi 2 still holds the number one spot, with 759,152 viewers on its first day.

The trade also reports that McDonald's France is on board for product tie-ins with the movie. McDonald's reportedly signed a deal with Asterix license holder Editions Albert Rene to use images of the Gallic adventurers in their French restaurants.

The $46 million Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra is said to be the most expensive French movie ever made.

ANIMATED SPIDEY ON DVD

Buena Vista Home Video announced yesterday a new slate of products, including the release of episodes of the recent animated Spider-Man on DVD.

Buena Vista provides this description of the video: "America's #1 superhero, Spider-Man spins a web of animated excitement in Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown , new to Disney DVD and video.

Featuring the thrilling origin of Spidey's archenemy the Green Goblin, the webslinger not only goes head-to-head with the Goblin, he takes on the sinister Doctor Octopus, the criminal Kingpin and more of his city's most cunning fiends in "The Ultimate Villain Showdown." Then, discover for yourself how it all began for Spider-Man in this special, full-length animated adventure."

Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown is due out on VHS ($14.99 S.R.P.) and DVD ($19.99 S.R.P.) on April 30, 2002. The products will be ready for re-order on March 19.

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