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Wed, September 11th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rob Worley, Columnist

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SAINT SINNER

[Saint Sinner]Can a man of ambiguous morality save the world from ravening demons? That's the question that'll be explored October 26th when the SCI FI channel presents it's original movie Clive Barker Presents: Saint Sinner.

Comics2Film spoke with Hans Rodionoff, who wrote the most recent drafts of the teleplay, about the movie and his involvement with it.

The writer told C2F that the story starts with "two succubae who, throughout the ages, have been these raveners to the soul of the world, these awful things that have brought about the destruction of numerous civilizations until Saint Nicodemus comes along and finds a way of imprisoning them."

Nicodemus crafts a mystical orb to contain the demons and ships it off to a repository where such things are kept in order to protect the world at large. The film's protagonist, Brother Tomas (Greg Serano) is a monk who has a tendency not to take his responsibilities seriously. His curiosity brings him down to the repository where he inadvertently frees the succubae and allows them to escape into the future. The brotherhood charges the reluctant Tomas with the task of capturing the deadly demons.

"There's only one weapon that can harm these demons, the dagger of St. Nicodemus," Rodionoff explains. "It supposedly takes a saint to wield the dagger against these two demons. So the big question throughout is, will Tomas become a saint or is he too much of a sinner?"

Fans of the Saint Sinner comic will quickly realize that that storyline is nothing like the Marvel/Epic/Razorline comic. Rodionoff tells us that, while Saint Sinner the movie isn't intended to be an adaptation of the comics, it does share the same themes.

"The heart that beats in this movie is the same heart that was beating in the comic books. That's the heart of Clive," Rodionoff said. "One of the things that Clive seems to enjoy going back to is a protagonist who's torn between the light and the dark."

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Rodionoff tells us the project has been percolating with Barker's Seraphim Films for several years, with the horror author/filmmaker developing a treatment for it in 1997. When Barker sold the idea to SCI FI, Doris Egan (Smallville, Dark Angel) was brought on to write the script.

"Doris actually did the bulk of the work," Rodionoff told C2F. "She took Clive's idea and expanded on it."

After many drafts and iterations, producer Joe Daley tapped Rodionoff to bring a fresh perspective to the project. Although he did significant work on the script, the writer likens his efforts to a polish. "I a few revisions but didn't change the core of the story," he said. "I just took the characters they had already fleshed out and made them breath a little bit more."

Rodionoff promises that the movie will have plenty of the scary stuff that Barker is famous for. When he first read some of the more "grotesque and disturbing" elements of Egan's script he thought the reason he was being brought in was to tone it down.

"All the crazy set pieces I thought for sure were going to be taken out were instead marked by the studio as 'absolute must have' scenes. After I read it I called Joe and said, 'What about this? Are they gonna let you do this?' and Joe said, 'oh yeah. We've already made the creature for it,'" Rodionoff told C2F.

Movie monster creator Patrick Tatopoulos, who designed Sony's Godzilla as well as the night-dwelling creatures of Pitch Black worked up the demons for Saint Sinner.

"He's a phenomenally talented guy," Rodionoff enthused. "When you're writing you envision a certain thing in your head and you try and write it out as grisly or as detailed as you can. No matter what I did in terms of my descriptions, he always took it one step further. When I saw the photographs of what these things ended up looking like look like I thought, 'Oh my God. I could never even have imagined that.'"

Rodionoff saw a trailer for the movie screened at a recent "Fangoria Festival of Horrors" show. "It looks great," he said, crediting director Joshua Butler.

"He's had so much passion for this thing from the get-go," Rodionoff said of the director. While the writer had faith in Butler's abilities, he was unsure if anyone could pull off such an ambitious project with the budget and schedule allotted to them. "I saw the trailer and it really just put all those concerns to rest. It's way beyond anything I could have expected."

Another recurring Barker theme is the juxtaposition of horror and eroticism, something clearly seen in Barker's earliest movie Hellraiser. "It mingled truly disturbing, awful images with incredibly sexy, erotic moments. You watch Hellraiser and you think you yourself, 'am I turned on or am I freaked out?'"

Some of that made it into Saint Sinner, although the final cut of the movie will be cable friendly. While a surprising amount of gore passed the network censors, a much greater degree of the sensual content was cut.

"You can have all kinds of monsters doing all kinds of horrible things to people, but don't show a nipple," Rodionoff quipped. "There's something weird going on there."

The production team is also hoping the movie gets a warm reception and has left the door open for a sequel, or possibly a series. "I think that Clive envisioned it from the beginning to be a platform for many other adventures with this time traveling monk. Who doesn't love a time traveling monk?"

Rodionoff said he also toyed with the idea of putting Philip Fetter, the character from the comic books into the film as a minor player. However he decided not to in order to allow for the possibility of including him in a sequel or episode, should the opportunity arise.

He also hopes for the possibility of Barker's return to comics. "I know Clive loved his run when he was doing the Razorline comics."

Saint Sinner airs on SCI FI at 9PM ET/PT on October 26th, 2002.

HELLBOY

[Hellboy]Mike Mignola, Guillermo del Toro and company are hard at work in Hollywood creating creatures for the upcoming Hellboy movie. Comics2Film got a chance to talk to one of the monster makers, Mike Elizalde, the president of Spectral Motion, Incorporated, who is doing creature effects for the film.

Elizalde has been working in makeup and animatronics since the late 1980's and incorporated Spectral Motion in 1996. His company has worked as subcontractors with major Hollywood F/X names like Stan Winston, Rick Baker and Steve Johnson, working on films like A.I., Batman Forever and the Men In Black movies. Hellboy marks the company's first major project working directly from their own studio.

Elizalde's association with del Toro began with the production of Blade II where he was mechanical department supervisor, subcontracting with Johnson's XFX house.

"We met on that project and we had an instantaneous rapport. I really felt a lot of warmth and generosity with this person," Elizalde said of the director.

He designed several animatronic Reapers that were used in that film. The sequence where the character Lighthammer is mauled by a Reaper was all Elizalde's animatronics.

Another Blade II animatronic that fans are sure to remember is the character Priest's severed skullcap. "That was one of Guillermo's favorite things, that severed portion of the head sitting on the stage at the House of Pain looking around with one eye," Elizalde said. "We did a lot of coverage on that."

Del Toro was sufficiently impressed with the work on that movie to award Spectral Motion the contract to design creature effects for Hellboy. While all the makeup and costume effects for the title character will be handled by Rick Baker's company, Spectral is responsible for any other creature or practical effect in the movie.

"That includes the main nemesis of Hellboy, one of the large creatures that he does battle with," Elizalde said.

Spectral was charged with bringing four or five monsters to life. A few of those were created as maquettes, which are on their way to CG animation houses to make models from. The remaining creatures will be done as practical effects.

Elizalde said that they are beginning work on the full-sized, real-world incarnations of the monsters that have been approved. "This means we're making mechanical systems that'll go inside of those creatures."

Plans are to render the big-screen baddies to look like Mignola creations. "At Guillermo's request and in respect to the designs that Mignola has generated, there is an attempt to make our things look as much like Mignola's designs as we possibly can given the physiognomy of the character," Elizalde said. "We do incorporate, with Guillermo's direct art direction, some of the patterns on the skin to make the legs look smaller, like Mike's drawings."

Elizalde said the production is atypical in that director, producers and art directors are spending a lot of time with the F/X team making sure the vision is clear from the start. "It's really been a great, educational process for me," he said. "They've come to our studio at the very least once a week to see the progress that we're making. Guillermo has a very generous spirit.

"He comes and spends a good deal of time with us and affords us a very rare opportunity to have that presence, that vision that he wants to share with us."

He said the crew also enjoyed visits from Hellboy's creator. "Mike Mignola was just wonderful," Elizalde told C2F. "I think he's happy and satisfied that we're at least approaching his vision with Hellboy."

Look for more exclusive Hellboy reporting here at C2F.

In related Hellboy news, Variety reports that James Costos has landed the job of head of national promotions and corporate partnerships at Revolution Studios, the studio behind the Hellboy movie. Costos' task will be developing national promotions and creating long-term strategic partnerships for the studio.

Product placement and promotional partnerships can add millions to a movie's budget, as was seen in recent comic book fare like Spider-Man (in which Dr. Pepper and Cingular brands could be seen on screen) and Men In Black II (sporting products from Ray-ban and Mercedes).

To that end Costos will be focusing on finding corporate sponsors for efforts like Hellboy and other studio pics. One example given is Revolution's efforts to work with auto maker Pontiac in showcasing their new GTO in the upcoming xXx sequel.

NEXUS

Nexus fans will recall a July auction held by Steve Rude and company designed to raise funds to develop an animated pilot for a proposed Nexus TV show. The top 50 bidders scored personalized sketches from "the dude" himself.

Now fans can direct their web browsers to SteveRude.com for a look at the first batch of sketches generated in the aftermath. There are currently 15 of the 50 sketches posted on the site with more coming.

The fundraiser has allowed Rude and company to get started on the promo animation. However, Jaynelle Rude told Comics2Film proceeds fell short of the $8,000 needed to produce the. Plans are to assemble the sketches into a book which will be used to raise the rest of the money for the project.

BLADE III

[Blade]Will the tormented mutant vampire Nomak return to menace Wesley Snipes in the upcoming Blade III? It could be according to the UK's Teletext - Cinema site. Luke Goss, the actor who played Nomak in Blade II dropped some sequel nuggets in an exclusive interview with Teletext.

"I don't know how I reappear in the movie - it's possible I emerge from the embryos that you see at the end of Blade II," Goss told the British news feed. "I'd like to appear in less make-up.

"Writer David Goyer is thinking about a Planet Of The Apes type of twist - it's very, very interesting," the actor continued.

Apparently Blade's flirtations with the beautiful Nyssa in the previous movie has Snipes looking to explore new facets of his franchise character. "Wes has his own agenda," Goss said to Teletext. "I want to make Blade III, he wants Blade to get laid."

For more about Goss' upcoming projects check out the complete Teletext article.

Thanks to Knack for the scoop!

THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN

Want a sneak peek at Captain Nemo's submarine, The Nautilus? Then direct your web browser to IGN FilmForce for the latest pics from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

The photos were taken by a FilmForce reader who got close to the shoot in Malta. Actors Sean Connery (who plays Allan Quatermain) and Shane West (playing Tom Sawyer) can bee seen atop a mock-up of the sub's top portal. There's three nice shots there so have a look!

WITCHBLADE SEASON 2

TNT has officially decided not to renew the successful series Witchblade for a third season according to a report in last week's Variety.

The show is being cut in spite of the cable network's admission that it met the four goals that TNT was aiming for: an advertiser- and cable operator-friendly show, a show that differentiated the network from its competitors, a ratings builder, and a show that laid groundwork for the net to be in the summer series biz.

"Witchblade did all of that great for two years," Steve Koonin, TNT's executive vice president and general manager told Variety. "We just felt to stretch it to a third year could hurt some of those areas."

The Variety write-up speculates that star Yancy Butler's summer stint in alcohol rehab, which temporarily suspended production on the show, may have been a factor. And, while Witchblade has been the strongest performing TNT original series, other summer cable shows, like USA's Monk have been pulling down bigger numbers.

Fans have been preparing for the cancellation since early in the season. Fansite Witchblade Central Station picked up on early indicators that a cancellation was likely and preemptively launched an online petition to demonstrate interest in a third season of the show.

According to Carrie Hults, coordinator of WCS the online petition has garnered close to 6700 signatures already. Fans who hope to save the show can sign the petition at this address: http://www.petit iononline.com/Legion11/petition.html .

On a lighter note, The Witchblade charity auction hosted by the EtebarIAN Fan Club and The Anthony Cistaro Page is into its second week and is now adding a third participant to its all-star roster.

John Hensley, who plays "Gabriel Bowman" on TNT's Witchblade, has joined the online charity auction efforts of fellow Witchblade stars Anthony Cistaro (Kenneth Irons) and Eric Etebari (Ian Nottingham).

Hensley, 25, has autographed over 30 items to benefit Beacon House in the charity auction. His items will appear in Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4.

Beacon House provides a halfway house/aftercare residential facility for Louisville, KY-area men and women who have successfully completed primary chemical dependency treatment. It offers a healing, supportive environment to encourage full growth and recovery.

"I believe in the idea of new beginnings for people, and people getting a new opportunity to lead a life that up until that point they hadn’t necessarily given themselves the chance to live," Hensley said. "That’s what Beacon House is all about."

Auction organizers Jessie Smith of the EtebarIAN Fan Club, Tamara and Heather Tsang of The Anthony Cistaro Page, and Tricia Harris of JohnHensley.net, have together gathered over 100 autographed items from the three Witchblade actors. The massive selection includes original photos, trading cards, comic books, clothing, storyboards, and more.

Cistaro's charity is Habitat for Humanity - Los Angeles. Etebari has selected Hollygrove in Los Angeles as his charity. When a bidder wins an item with one of the actor's signature on it, then a donation will be made to that actor's charity. In cases where more than one signature appears, the donation will be split equally.

Bidders will need to register for an online account prior to accessing the auction Web site at http://pub83.ezboard.co m/bwitchbladetheseries. The remaining auction dates are scheduled as follows (all times are based upon the message board's automatic time stamp):

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).

DAREDEVIL

[Daredevil]The Comics Continuum got a progress report on the Daredevil movie from producer Gary Foster recently.

"We are in the midst of editing. It's going very well," Foster said. "We have begun seeing key visual effects shots, which is exciting."

"In terms of marketing, new things should be popping up in theaters around the country very soon," Foster told the Continuum. "I can't be more specific, but there has been a lot of action and what we've seen is very impressive."

There is also a new trailer being worked on for the film, and Fox recently sent Daredevil window clings to theaters. No word yet on when the next trailer will be out.

SPIDER-MAN, MEN IN BLACK 2

Spider-Man is back in the top 10 according to the weekend summary at Box Office Mojo. The comic-to-film double bill of Spider-Man and Men In Black II, released by Sony on Friday, racked up an estimated $2 million in ticket sales, making it the #9 film at the box office.

The comic power couple edged out the surfer girls of Blue Crush (the #10 flick) but couldn't quite top former comic book villain Stephen Dorff's fear dot com, which took in over $2.3 million, making it the #8 movie.

Meanwhile, Variety reports that many domestic smashes have not fared well overseas this year. However MiB2 is bucking that trend with its foreign box office topping its U.S. take.

The sequel's international take topped $215 million as of September 3rd. It enjoyed huge openings in Spain and Portugal, in both cases topping the debut of the first film. MiB2 is also the #1 movie in France for the fourth week in a row. It makes its debut in Italy on the 13th.

Variety also reports that the movie's surging performance, along with strong numbers from xXx and the early summer success of Spider-Man, has been a boon to Sony's extraordinary year. The studio's overall international take topped the $1 billion mark on Sunday. This is the second fastest time for a studio to reach that milestone. The fastest was 20th Century Fox's 1998 run which was powered by James Cameron's Titanic.

Worldwide, Sony's tallied $2.4 billion and aims to break Fox's '98 sum of $2.68 billion.

CONSTANTINE, OTHERS

In a major shift in the power structure of Hollywood Lorenzo di Bonaventura has stepped down from his newly created position as president, worldwide production at Warner Bros. Reports in both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter detailed the move.

Di Bonaventura will instead turn his attention to producing movies and has a first-look deal with the studio he formerly ran.

Part of that deal includes taking on the producing reigns of Constantine, although details of this are made confusing by conflicting reports in the two Hollywood publications.

Variety reports that the di Bonaventura project would be an epic drama concerning the Roman emperor of the same name. The Reporter states that the movie is the troubled adaptation of the comic Hellblazer, although they published the title as "Constantin" dropping the "e". The Reporter also reiterated rumors that Keanu Reeves is now the leading man for the DC/Vertigo based movie.

According to both articles the studio chief stepped down in order to regain a quality of life that the stressful position didn't allow for and to move himself closer to the process of filmmaking.

For better or worse di Bonaventura held the big-screen fate of many DC Comics characters' in his hands. Comic fans will have to wait and see what effect the move has on in-development works like Batman: Year One, Superman and Batman Vs. Superman.

Comics2Film followed up on the story with a source close to the development of the Constantine (Hellblazer) movie.

Our source told us that, as far as he knows, di Bonaventura is not coming on board the comic book movie.

The Di Bonaventura project will be a historical epic concerning the Roman emperor, as was reported in Variety. At this point both projects have the same (or similar) titles. Perhaps the comic book movie could be retitled John Constantine: Hellblazer.

Our source also confirms that Keanu Reeves (The Matrix) whose name has been mentioned in a couple of recent articles is, in fact, attached to the project. However, he has not signed to appear in the movie at this point.

X-MEN 2

[X]Stax from IGN FilmForce is offering a sneak-peek at the script for the highly anticipated sequel to X-Men.

This particular draft of the script runs one-hundred-nine pages and is dated April 30, 2002. Along with giving a brief synopsis of the story, Stax gives his opinions on where this film will stand in the franchise. "With the explanation of mutation having now been provided (in the first film), and the philosophical conflict between Xavier and Magneto established, (X2) offers the spectator a far greater view of the world that the X-Men inhabit."

According to the review, the characters of Storm (Halle Berry), Iceman (Shawn Ashmore), Pryo (Aaron Stanford), and Mystique (Rebecca Romjin-Stamos) have considerably larger roles to play in this film than in the first. But also that Cyclops (James Marsden) and Anne Reynolds (Kelly Hu) are much smaller pieces of the puzzle, until near the end of the film.

Comparing this film with an old movie serial, Stax observes that it seems to be "merely the next chapter in a much larger saga" and that the film’s ending is very reminiscent of that style also, setting up the (hopefully) inevitable X-Men 3.

While the review is low on spoilers, it is high on praise. For the complete review, check out IGN FilmForce.

SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH

Fans of Nickelodeon's new Sabrina The Teenage Witch series will soon be able to play a interactive trivia game during commercial breaks to win prizes.

Part of a larger initiative to increase the interactivity of Nickelodeon viewers, "Sabrina Magic Spell Game" will run for four weeks starting in September 2002.

From 4-6pm every day, viewers are quizzed on multiple choice questions and use their remotes to answer. Top scores are entered into a drawing for prizes. More interactive games powered by the NDS technology are planned for the future.

SPIDER-MAN ANIMATED SHOW

According to Ain't it Cool News, the villains in the new MTV animated Spider-Man series will be voiced by "pop stars."

The site reports that Rob Zombie is providing the voice for The Lizard and that Eve will be speaking for Black Cat. They go on to say that Zombie has completed his voice work for the show and the executives at MTV are pleased with the results.

The new Spider-Man animated series is tentatively scheduled to debut on MTV early 2003.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES - ANIMATED SHOW

The new, animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles now have an official online home. Fans can direct their web browsers to FoxBox.tv or TMNT.tv for a look at the website promoting the heroes on a halfshell's new Saturday morning show.

The site currently features biographies of the four teens supreme as well as a synopsis of episode 1 of the show. In the first installment the Turtles are driven out of their sewer home by the mechanical mousers. Master Splinter goes missing and they heroes afoul of the mysterious Purple Dragon street gang.

If you need more Turtle action check out NinjaTurtlesNetwork.com. This site features the show's television ad and them music, digitized and available for download.

Thanks to Superhero Hype for the lead.

THIS WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE

Our heroes must overcome a cadre of super villains in this week's installment "Injustice For All - Part 2".

When Lex Luthor discovers that he has contracted an incurable case of Kryptonite poisoning, he blames the Man of Steel. Using his vast personal fortune, Luthor hires a team of the world's most powerful super-villains to destroy Superman and The Justice League. he taps Joker, the Ultra-Humanite, Solomon Grundy, Shade, Star Sapphire, Cheetah and Copperhead to assist him in his diabolical efforts. The entire Justice League must assemble to face their greatest challenge.

"Injustice For All - Part 2" airs Friday September 13th at 7pm. Encores air Saturday, September 14 at 12:30pm and 9:30pm. Another Encore airs Sunday, September 15 at 7pm.

THIS WEEK ON JEREMIAH

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What's it like growing up in the world after the Big Death? We find out on "The Red Kiss", tonight's rebroadcast of Jeremiah. Jeremiah and Kurdy encounter a group of children...who think Jeremiah is destined to save them. It's another great episode written by Executive Producer Sam Egan.

When their vehicle is carjacked, Jeremiah and Kurdy find themselves in an abandoned amusement park. There, a group of children is convinced that Jeremiah is the chosen one, sent to thwart the killer who has been preying upon them. The episode is written by Sam Egan and directed by James Head.

"The Red Kiss" airs Friday, September 13th at 10:45 P.M. on Showtime. There will also be an encore on Sunday, September 15th 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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