Comics2Film

Wed, August 28th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

R.I.P.D., FORT: PROPHET OF THE UNEXPLAINED

[Fort]Filmmaker and comic creator Peter Lenkov tells Comics2Film that there's been Hollywood interest in his new Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained comic series from Dark Horse comics.

The comic features the fictitious exploits of Charles Fort, a real-life 19th century investigator of the paranormal. In the initial mini-series Fort runs afoul of a malevolent alien creature. He's aided and abetted by a young street urchin who later goes on to become a prominent author: H.P. Lovecraft.

Lenkov says he's been in talks with a "major filmmaker" about the property. A deal could be announced shortly.

Issue #3 of Fort was published this month, with the mini-series wrapping up in September.

Lenkov also tells us to watch for a new announcement about the movie adaptation of his R.I.P.D. comic. In the mean time he's starting a new project for Dark Horse as well as writing and producing the TV series The District for CBS. He also co-produced the action flick Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever, starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu. Ballistic will be in theaters September 27th.

MAGE

[Mage]Comics2Film checked in with Ross Richie, producer on the movie version of Matt Wagner's Mage to see how that movie is coming along. The production signed director Zack Snyder early in August and word has been that Disney is enthusiastic about getting the project moving for a 2004 release.

"Right now we're real happy," Richie told C2F. "John Rogers is back on the project."

Snyder and Rogers are currently working on a rewrite of the screenplay. Rogers has been attached as screenwriter since early on in the project's genesis and has been an enthusiastic participant and a fan of the comics.

Richie tells us that Spyglass Entertainment is also "very, very excited" about the project and is talking about a February or March 2003 production start.

No casting has been started yet. Richie tells us, "We're challenged to find to cast an actor who has a good physical presence for the fight scenes and good acting talent for the character, while at the same time being mindful of commercial concerns. We want to be true to Wagner's work, but also get the best actor we can."

BLADE III, THE FALL

What new surprises are in store for the big screen's baddest daywalker? Filmmaker David Goyer gave Comics2Film a progress report on Blade III and a couple of other projects of interest.

"Marvel has just approved the story for Blade III. I'm working on a treatment as well," Goyer told us. "If things work out as planned, we may see a couple of other somewhat obscure Marvel characters making an appearing in the film."

Goyer also commented on reports that Geraman director Oliver Hirschbiegel was being considered for helming duties on the third installment of the popular comic franchise.

"I met with Oliver -- liked his work and we discussed the film a bit -- but it's no more than that, at the moment," Goyer said.

The filmmaker also commented on a movie version of Ed Brubaker's indie comic The Fall. Brubaker is writing the script for the film, which Goyer is producing. "Brubaker just turned in his draft of The Fall. We'll be doing some revisions after Labor Day -- but he did a great job," Goyer reports.

Goyer also told C2F that his next movie as a director will be Darksiders for New Line, a film he describes as "comicbook-esque." The film is due to lens in January or February.

HULK, IRON FIST, SPIDER-MAN 2

Comics2Film checked in with Marvel executive vice president Kevin Feige about recent rumors surrounding Marvel movies.

Internet reports from a last month claimed much stress on the set of Hulk. Those rumors were denounced loudly by the film's producers and director at the recent Comic-Con in San Diego.

More recent internet rumors have again cast doubt on the Hulk movie, claiming that the movie could be delayed due to arguments over the design of the title character. The rumors claim that nobody is happy with the way the character looks so far.

Not so, says Feige.

"There had been many different incarnations of what the Hulk should look like. We all decided which one we liked best and that is what we and ILM have been working on for months," Feige, who is executive producer on the movie, told C2F. "In fact, we have just seen some things that would make your jaw drop."

In other Marvel news: if recent comments from Ray Park are any indication the Iron Fist movie is moving along at a brisk pace. Feige wouldn't comment on the specifics of that project except to say, "Iron Fist is one of the big priorities for Artisan and Marvel. We hope to have some exciting announcements to share soon."

Finally, we asked the Marvel v.p. about recent rumors linking actor Christopher Walken to the Spider-Man 2 movie. Feige told us that there is no truth to that one.

SUPERMAN

Monday's Variety reports that Rush Hour and Red Dragon helmer Brett Ratner is among the list of directors being considered to shepherd the solo Superman movie to the big-screen.

In an article discussing Ratner's next move the Variety report confirms rumors that McG, who has previously been attached as director, may be too busy with Charlie's Angels 2 to do the Superman relaunch. According to the article Ratner is eager to take on the Man of Steel, but Warner is looking at other directors as well, and the movie still does not have a budget.

Ratner is also negotiating to direct the Philip K. Dick adaptation Paycheck for paramount and is hoping to reteam with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker on Rush Hour 3.

CREATURE TECH

[Creature Tech]Variety reports that Regency Enterprises has picked up the feature film rights to Doug TenNapel's upcoming graphic novel Creature Tech. The deal comes after what is described as "a fierce bidding war" and is worth high-six against low-seven figures.

The book is due out next month from Top Shelf Comics. Top Shelf describes Creature Tech as, "an outrageously adventurous graphic novel that subtlely examines the interplay between science, religion and family. Come witness farm-town America, where the ghost of an evil sorcerer uses the Shroud of Turin to resurrect a giant space eel in an attempt to destroy the world. … And the only thing standing in his way is an atheist with an alien strapped to his chest no, really!"

TenNapel is probably best known for creating the Earthworm Jim franchise.

Wendy Finerman is producing. Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Peter McHugh, both of The Gotham Group, are also producing.

Director of production Stacy Maes brought Creature Tech into Regency, where it will be overseen by production prexy Sanford Panitch.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, AKIRA, COMIC BOOK VILLAINS

Recently Dan Epstein sat down with comic creator-turned-filmmaker James Robinson and did an in-depth interview for UGO.com. Robinson talked about a variety of subjects, including his upcoming movie Comic Book Villains and the currently filming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Robinson makes his directorial debut next month with the direct-to-video Comic Book Villains, a movie he also wrote. The film features Donal Logue (Grounded for Life) and Michael Rappaport (Boston Public) as two scheming comic collectors bent on separating an old lady from her recently discovered stash of funny books.

Robinson told Epstein that the movie was a way to do comic books, without having to do comic book characters. "I had just begun to write films scripts professionally. I was almost immediately typecast into doing superhero movies, which are the jobs I was being offered all the time," Robinson said. "So at the same time I decided to get into films, I also got the inspiration to direct. I wrote a script, which became Comic Book Villains, that was the kind of material I was interested in writing, knowing that I was going to direct it."

The movie takes place in and around comic book shops. Wanting it to feel authentic, Robinson set about securing the rights to display actual product in the movie. Marvel and Image agreed to let the director use products featuring their characters on screen. The shops were filled out with other book covers.

"I had compiled a list of public domain comic books for the covers so they wouldn't all be Marvel. That was something Marvel requested. They said I could use all their characters, but they didn't want it too look like the house of Marvel," Robinson said.

An assist from a comic veteran helped locate those public domain comics. "We had to use other golden age characters. I wanted to do that anyway. [Jim] Steranko got back to me with a list of companies and the characters within those companies that he thought was safe to use."

Robinson also revealed that comic vet Mike Vosburg storyboarded "the bulk" of the picture.

Robinson also wrote the screenplay for the currently-filming The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. He told Epstein he's been in Prague recently doing tweaks to the script. The scribe penned 20 drafts of the script and made some controversial changes.

"It's truer to the comic in spirit than in plot," Robinson said. "I added two characters: Dorian Gray and Tom Sawyer."

He went on to explain his creative decisions. "I added Dorian Gray because he actually helped the story, I won't reveal the twist," the screenwriter said. "and, because of commerce, I think 20th Century Fox felt more comfortable making a movie that was very expensive knowing that there was a young American character."

The movie is currently budgeted at over $80 million. The budget is apparent in the sets. "They're fantastic. Stephen has reconceived the look. He hasn't been stringently true to the comic, and he has made it his own. But it looks absolutely epic," Robinson said. "The Nautilus is absolutely epic. I think people will be more than happy with it."

It's not surprising that the comic creator has additional comic based films on the docket. Robinson revealed that he is writing the screenplay for the live-action Akira movie, which is to be directed by his League collaborator Stephen Norrington.

Read Epstein's extensive interview with Robinson at UGO.com for many more insights into Comic Book Villains, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, future comic book projects, collecting and more.

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Due to the recent disastrous flooding in Prague, production for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has packed up and moved to the Maltese Islands in the Mediterranean, according to IGN FilmForce.

According to the site, the hope is that once filming is complete in Malta, the flood waters will have subsided enough back in Prague to allow production to continue there.

The Maltese Islands are located about sixty miles south of Sicily and will reportedly be used for scenes depicting Africa and the Far East. Another scene, reported by the site, to be shot while in Malta is the character of Allan Quartermain (Sean Connery) "bonding with young detective Tom Sawyer (Shane West) by teaching him how to shoot skeet... with an elephant gun."

FilmForce also references a report from Malta Media claiming that filming has already begun there.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from director Stephen Norrington and Twentieth Century Fox is scheduled to be released in June of 2003.

X-MEN: EVOLUTION, STATIC SHOCK

Kids WB! has announced their new fall schedule. The Saturday morning schedule kicks off on Saturday, September 14, with a "Scoob-Tacular-Saturday Sweepstakes" which offers kids the chance to win one of thousands of prizes throughout the morning (8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. ET).

Not surprisingly, the hit show X-Men: Evolution is returning. According to the press release, "the excitement and drama escalates to a whole new level this third season in X-Men: Evolution (11:30 a.m. ET) as the X-Men team must now face the world after their true mutant identities have been exposed."

Another comic-based super-hero show is not on the announced fall line-up. However Kids WB! assures readers that Static Shock will return later in the season. Although it didn't appear in the press release Comics2Film has word that the Justice League will be making a guest appearance when Static Shock enters it's new season.

Here is the complete Kids WB! 2002-2003 Season line-up:

Saturday (* indicates a new series)
8:00 AM - YU-GI-OH!


8:30 AM - WHAT'S NEW SCOOBY-DOO? *


9:00 AM - JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES


9:30 AM - OZZY & DRIX *


10:00 AM - POKMON: MASTER QUEST


10:30 AM - MUCHA LUCHA! * (Premiered Saturday, August 17)


11:00 AM - YU-GI-OH!


11:30 AM - X-MEN: EVOLUTION

Monday - Friday
3:00 PM - SCOOBY-DOO (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday)


3:00 p.m. RESCUE HEROES: GLOBAL RESPONSE TEAM (Wednesday)


3:30 PM - JACKIE CHAN ADVENTURES


4:00 PM - POKMON


4:30 PM - YU-GI-OH!

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

Toon Zone confirms the news that Static Shock will meet the Justice League in the upcoming season. The two part cross-over will be called "A League of Their Own".

Check out Toon Zone for more details on the upcoming seasons of Static Shock and Justice League.

GALAXY GIRL

File it under the heading of "flew under the radar" but a reader named Caitlin recently pointed us to a June Variety article that indicates another Rob Liefeld comic book property has been optioned for the big screen.

The article runs down the recent dealings of Mutual Films. According to the write-up, the filmmaking company has struck a deal with Paramount Pictures to create an action comedy based on Liefeld's Galaxy Girl.

The article indicates that it's reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and features "a seemingly normal 16-year-old Midwesterner who is told by her parents that she's from another planet even as her otherworldly powers begin to assert themselves."

Now, we've never heard of a comic named Galaxy Girl. Perhaps it was printed under one of Liefeld's many publishing entities. Or maybe it'll be published by his soon-to-be-launched Arcade Comics.

SMALLVILLE

Fans of Smallville can now take another step towards unhealthy obsession and actually pretend to be students at Smallville High School.

The Smallville High School Student Store has been launched. Fans can buy everything from notebooks and pencils to backpacks and letter jackets.

Thanks to the fine folks at KryptonSite for pointing the way.

MEN IN BLACK 2

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment announced Men In Black II will be coming to VHS and DVD in the fourth quarter of 2002 with a number of DVD extras including a never-before-seen alternate ending, blooper reel, and alien creature featurettes.

Other extras will include: Intergalactic production featurettes Alien broadcast Commentary by director Barry Sonnenfeld Theatrical trailers and one-sheets Filmographies Will Smith's "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Your Head)" music video Multi-angle scene deconstruction DVD-ROM features: MIBII game, screen saver, concept designs, MIB II script, weblinks.

Men In Black II will have competition from the release of Spider-Man on VHS and DVD during the fourth quarter also from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment.

TEEN TITANS ANIMATED SHOW

Toon Zone reports that voice auditions are underway for the upcoming Teen Titans animated show. The site has no additional information but cautions readers that this does not necessarily indicate the show has been picked up for series, but may simply mean that they are moving forward with the pilot.

BIRDS OF PREY

[Birds of Prey]The WB released a new image from the 70 minute premiere episode of Birds of Prey. The pilot is set to run on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 9 p.m. (ET).

In the image shown here, which comes from late in the episode, The Huntress (Ashley Scott) encounters Ketterly (Chris Ellis).

If you want to see more images from Birds of Prey look no further than Gotham Clock Tower. GCT managed to dig up additional publicity stills of co-star Rachel Skarsten (Dinah Lance) and Ashley Scott.

BLACK PANTHER

Latino Review sat down and chatted with big-screen superhero Wesley Snipes recently. In the interview Snipes commented on the Black Panther movie.

The actor said he's slated to do the film. "We're trying to get it prepared for production next year, so we'll see," Snipes told LR. "You know how this movie business goes. Will Smith could be in the role, I could wake up tomorrow… 'Will's doing Black Panther!'"

Thanks to SuperHeroHype for the lead.

SPIDER-MAN + POWER RANGERS = TEAM HERO

Spider-Man animated fans will want to tune in the weekend of September 7th and 8th as cable's ABC Family Channel will be presenting the animated version of Marvel's secret wars storyline.

The show, along with multi-part segments of Power Rangers (1993, season 1) will be presented in a special Team Hero Weekend -- a double feature highlighting the triumph of good over evil.

Saturday, September 7 - Spider-Man (1995)
9:30 a.m. Secret Wars, Chapter 1


10:00 a.m. Secret Wars, Chapter 2: The Gauntlet of the Red Skull


10:30 a.m. Secret Wars, Chapter 3: Doom


11:00 a.m. Blade, The Vampire Hunter


11:30 a.m. The Immortal Vampire

In this Spider-Man saga, the all-powerful Beyonder conducts an experiment to determine which is stronger, good or evil, by pitting two teams of heroes and villains against each other for the salvation of an alien world. Spider-Man is chosen to lead a group of Earth's mightiest champions: Captain America, Iron Man, X-Men's Storm and the Fantastic Four. Together, they must reclaim the planet that has been defiled in the clutches of villains Doctor Doom, Dr. Octopus, The Lizard and The Red Skull.

Then, a special two-part Spider-Man adventure showcases Marvel hero and feature film star, Blade. In the episodes, Blade tracks a vampire to New York and mistakes Spider-Man for the fanged monster.

Sunday, September 8 - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993)
9:30 a.m. Green With Evil I: Out of Control


10:00 a.m. Green With Evil II: Jason's Battle


10:30 a.m. Green With Evil III: The Rescue


11:00 a.m. Green With Evil IV: Eclipsing Megazord


11:30 a.m. Green With Evil V: Breaking the Spell

Green With Evil, a five-part storyline from the first season of the popular Power Rangers franchise -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers -- marks the introduction of the legendary Green Ranger. The villainous Rita Repulsa casts an ancient spell on one of the kids' new classmates, Tommy, turning him into one of the Power Rangers' greatest adversaries. Yet as things look the most bleak for the team, Tommy's true spirit of goodness enables him to break free from Rita's spell, and he becomes the newest hero within the ranks of the Power Rangers.

HE-MAN & THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE

Cartoon Network has announced that He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is a ratings success.

The return of cartoon superstars from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (Friday, 4-5:30 p.m.) proved their ratings strength remains powerful, particularly with male viewers.

The original 90-minute movie special, which set the stage for the all-new weekly half-hour series premiering Friday nights at 6 p.m. starting Aug. 30, scored as the highest-rated program on all cable in its time period among boys 6-11, boys 9-14, men 18-24 and all viewers 12-24.

Highlights of the movie’s ratings and delivery growth among key demographics vs. the same time period last year are
noted below:

Boys 9-14: 4.2 rating (up 45%), 405,000 delivery (up 59%)
Boys 6-11: 4.7 rating (up 15%), 458,000 delivery (up 29%)
Men 18-24: 1.4 rating (up 1,400%), 132,000 delivery (up 4,300%)
Tweens 9-14: 2.7 rating (up 29%), 491,000 delivery (up 34%)
Kids 6-11: 3.0 rating (up 3%), 552,000 delivery (up 12%)
Viewers 12-24: 1.5 rating (up 150%), 552,000 delivery (up 160%)
Adults 18-34: 1.0 rating (up 233%), 472,000 delivery (up 278%)

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is the prequel of how Prince Adam became He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe defend Castle Grayskull and all of Eternia from the tyrannical Skeletor and his Evil Warriors. The He-Man series was introduced to television audiences in 1983 and became one of the most successful kids entertainment properties in history.

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

Starting next week, fans of the Witchblade TV show will have a chance to score some collectibles and help out a charitable cause at the same time.

Actors Eric Etebari and Anthony Cistaro, who play Ian Nottingham and Kenneth Irons respectively on the show, have lent their support to the "Hollygrove & Habitat - Champions for Charity Auction," the first-ever joint fundraising event organized by each actors’ Web site. The online-only auction kicks off the same night Witchblade airs its season finale "Ubique"- Monday, August 26, 2002. The auction will start at 7:00 p.m. PDT. and run for four consecutive weeks.

Etebari’s charity of choice is Los Angeles-based Hollygrove, which provides abused and neglected children a safe and nurturing environment where each child can heal and develop emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Etebari grew up near Hollygrove and went to school with many of the center’s children. He continues to support the organization through fund raising activities, especially the performing arts center.

"Hollygrove is a safe place for kids to grow, be educated and find a new home with a foster care family who will give them love and a chance to be successful in life," said Etebari. "I am thankful that my fans reach out to support this effort which sends a very powerful and inspirational message to these underprivileged children that people do care."

When a bidder wins an item with Etebari’s signature, they will be making a donation to Hollygrove.

Cistaro's charity of choice is Habitat for Humanity - Los Angeles, which supports the entire community as each Habitat home provides stability in neighborhoods, reduces crime, and increases hope that the opportunity to own a safe, affordable home is attainable.

"I selected Habitat for Humanity because a large part of the fund raising effort goes directly to aid," Cistaro said. "Shelter is one of our fundamental needs. Habitat for Humanity makes it possible for families who wouldn't otherwise have homes to have them. I also like the fact that the volunteer work is community-based. I hope to participate at the end of the summer in a building effort."

When a bidder wins an item with Cistaro’s signature on it, then a donation will be made to Habitat for Humanity.

Auction organizers Jessie Smith, President, EtebarIAN Fan Club, along with Tamara Tsang and Heather Tsang of AnthonyCistaro.com have gathered over 70 autographed items from Etebari and Cistaro. The massive selection includes original photos, trading cards, comic books, clothing, storyboards, and more.

Bidders will need to register for an online account prior to accessing the auction Web site at http://pub83.ezboard.co m/bwitchbladetheseries. The auction is scheduled** as follows:

Week 1:
Start: August 26, 2002, at 7:00 p.m. PDT (10:00 p.m. EDT)
End: August 31, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT)

Week 2:
Start: September 1, 2002 at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT).
End: September 7, 2002 at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT).

Week 3:
Start: September 8, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT).
End: September 14, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT).

Week 4:
Start: September 15, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT).
End: September 21, 2002, at 1:00 p.m. PDT (4:00 p.m. EDT).

**All times are based upon the message board's automatic time stamp.

THIS WEEK ON JEREMIAH

Dig into Kurdy's past before the Big Death in "City of Roses," this week's repeat airing of Jeremiah. Please note this one airs at a special time so adjust your VCR accordingly!

A brutal assault on a young woman triggers memories for Jeremiah and Kurdy, who then take separate paths: Jeremiah to find a mysterious vaccine, and Kurdy to find his past. The episode is written by Emmy-award nominated Sam Egan (executive producer of The Outer Limits) and directed by James Head.

"City of Roses" airs Friday, August 30th at 10:55 P.M. (note special time) on Showtime. There will also an encore on Sunday, September 1st on Showtime Beyond East at 10:45 PM (ET & PT).

Preview clips of the show are available online at Showtime's Jeremiah site. Click "Episode Preview" from the site's nav.

Check out Showtime's Behind the Scenes feature -- a virtual tour of Thunder Mountain -- go to sho.com/jeremiah and click "Behind the Scenes" (you'll need to have a Java and Flash-enabled browser to play the virtual tour).

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