Let me begin by apologizing for my tardiness in addressing the need for a regular post on this blog. For the past several months, I have been busy writing a screenplay that takes place within a theme park in Houston, Texas in 1979, called AstroWorld. And with generous assistance from the park’s former employees, I have created something very funny, and very magical. But it has taken a lot longer than I expected to produce a First Draft. So from here on, I resume my regular monthly posts on this blog featuring entertainment news and tidbits from the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy. **Also, please NOTE: I have a backlog of obituaries over the past several months. And all will be addressed at the end of my next blog post, in April. But for now, I have chosen to only focus on one: Leonard Nimoy. BLADE RUNNER 2 (or whatever the eventual title may be) has been given a green light by Alcon Entertainment and it’s associating partners. As reported many months ago, Harrison Ford will reprise his role as android hunter Rick Deckard, and a new director has now entered the mix, taking over for Ridley Scott; who will now service as Producer. Denis (Prisoners) Villeneuve will now helm the film. The only other details offered were that the film will officially begin production in 2016, and that Harrison Ford believes it to be, “the best script I’ve ever read.” Unfortunately, there is no further word as of yet, on any “definite” involvement on the part of Ford in a potential Indiana Jones 5 (excepting previous statements by Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, and those pesky Chris Pratt rumors,) but Starlogger will keep you posted … HOWEVER, IN OTHER REBOOT-REMAKE-SEQUEL NEWS, director Neil (District 9, Elysium, Chappie) Blomkamp has managed to persuade 20th Century Fox to finance his own Alien film, based upon a personal art project (at left.) As of this writing, the film is said to be a sequel to all previous Alien films, and Sigourney Weaver is in negotiations to reprise her role as Lt. Ellen Ripley, or some variation of that original character. The film, thus far, is untitled. But director Blomkamp made a point to pin down the approximate angle his film will take by stating the following: “I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of Alien. So it’s Alien, Aliens, and then this movie.” Blomkamp later clarified that he will not be revising the current cannon of the Alien franchise. Offering that he will not ignore events depicted in Alien 3 or Resurrection … MARVEL & SONY PICTURES recently made a deal for $0 (that’s right, no money involved; both parties simply agree not to share profits or sue each other,) allowing for appearances of Spider-Man in Disney-Marvel films, specifically including Captain America: Civil War (said to involve cameos of many characters in the Marvel Universe,) and possibly, the forthcoming Avengers sequels, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2. It is not certain at this time if the Spider-Man character will make appearances in any of the other Marvel films planned by Disney, which in part include: Doctor Strange (starring Benedict Cumberbatch,) Black Panther (starring Chadwick Boseman,) Captain Marvel, and The Inhumans. And although Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been effectively cancelled, due to the lackluster performance of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Sinister Six and Venom are still in development at Sony, and Marvel’s own Kevin Feige will be producing a new stand alone Spider-Man film, which is aiming for a summer of 2017 release date. Actor Andrew Garfield will not be returning … ON THE SUBJECT OF CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, the film’s storyline reportedly pits Captain America against Iron Man, due to opposing views over something called, “The Hero Registration Act.” Robert Downey Jr., who will appear in the film as Iron Man, had this to say regarding the nature of his role in the film. “Ultimately, it’s Steve’s (Rogers) story; it doesn’t say ‘Iron Man 4: Civil War.’ I think that’s great, too. I think Chris has been hungry to bring even more of an underside and some shadow to that. I remember the comics — on the surface, you got the sense that Cap was baseball and apple pie, but underneath, there was all this churning stuff of being a man out of time. Now we know he’s made his peace with that. What’s the bigger issue ? It can have a little something to do with the past, but it can be about someone becoming more modernized in their own conflict.” DAREDEVIL WILL SOON BOW on Netflix. The series is said to be set after the events of the first Avengers film, and on the subject of the general plot of the show, Marvel’s Emma Fleischer offered the following: “We are still part of the Marvel Universe, but we are not explicitly in that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. world. We’re in our own corner. So the aliens (of The Avengers ) came down and ruined the city (New York,) and this is the story of Hell’s Kitchen’s rebuild.” Among the cast will be Vincent (Full Metal Jacket) D’Onofrio, who will play Wilson Fisk, a.k.a. The Kingpin … MARVEL’S A.K.A. JESSICA JONES will also begin airing soon on Netflix. The show, already in production, is a 13 episode series starring Krysten Ritter as a former superhero, turned detective. It premiers later this year …THE BEAUTIFUL MORENA (FIREFLY) BACCARIN has been cast as the female lead in the Ryan Reynolds Deadpool film. Having languished in development hell for several years, Deadpool somewhat reboots the character Reynolds first played in the film X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Here he plays an assassin who undergoes a procedure to cure his cancer, but the operation leaves him twisted and scarred while also giving him extraordinary abilities. The film, directed by newcomer Tim Miller, begins filming next month in Vancouver, Canada … BRYAN SINGER’S X-MEN: APOCALYPSE has entered production. The sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past will star a variety of new talent as the young X-Men characters we all know, dealing with the threat of the character, Apocalypse, in the mid 1980’s. Thus far, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, and Even Peters (Quicksilver,) are the only returning actors from previous films of the franchise. As for Patrick Stewart, the plan is for he and Jackman to team up for another Wolverine film. And good news for Jackman-Wolverine fans. Jackman recently stated that he intends to play the character of Logan/Wolverine, until he dies … A MINOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS news item: Jony Ive, a VP at Apple Computer responsible for many of their designs, including the iPhone, iPad, iMac, and more recent iOS platforms, was consulted on certain aspects of the new “crossguard” lightsaber seen in the recent teaser trailer. Specifically, the idea that the light blade isn’t so well defined. Said Ive: “I thought (the lightsaber) would be interesting if it were less precise and just a little bit more spitty.” He also suggested the redesign be, “more analog and more primitive and I think in that way, somehow more ominous.” … MEANWHILE, FELICITY (THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING) JONES has won a role in an as-of-yet unnamed Star Wars spin-off film. The script for that top secret project is now being rewritten by Chris Weitz … AND TARIANA (ORPHAN BLACK) MASLANY has won a separate role in a separate Star Wars spin-off film, set to be directed by Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards. Reportedly, Muslany will be playing the live action version of “Sabine Wren,” a character featured in the animated Star Wars Rebels … ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (scheduled to begin shooting The Legend of Conan this fall,) will yet again reprise his role as “The Terminator” in yet another sequel, scheduled to follow the upcoming Terminator: Genisys reboot. According to Schwarzenegger, the next Terminator film will begin production “next year.” The new Terminator films are reportedly designed to be a trilogy, and production is scheduled to move quickly to take advantage of the Terminator rights, before said rights revert to creator James Cameron; who has no intention of revisiting the Terminator franchise … SPEAKING OF LEGEND OF CONAN, Producer Chris Morgan has stated that the film will be more inspired by the original film by John Milius, than by the work of Robert E. Howard. “We look at all the source material and we love things that kind of speak to that tone. We’re incredibly respectful to Howard. I’m a huge fan of the stories and the books, but I’m a super-huge fan of the first movie; because that crystallized and distilled it all for me. Milius just killed it. He did such a good job. And Legend of Conan is really resonant and it really digs into the legacy of that original film. I’m already very proud of it.” … IN GHOSTBUSTERS NEWS, director Paul (Bridesmaids) Feig recently commented on his personal inspiration for the development up the reboot featuring an all female cast. Said Feig, “I will say, I was very inspired by (The Walking Dead.) What I love is how they play with the danger, they play with the scariness, but also the idea that it’s always about gauntlet run. And that’s something: an element I want to bring to this Ghostbusters reboot is having to get through these various obstacles that are supernatural and all that. I really feed off of The Walking Dead.” … PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES has officially started production in Queensland, Australia, directed by Espen Sandberg & Joachim Ronning. The story: ghost pirates lead by Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea, including Captain Jack Sparrow. His only hope is in finding the legendary Trident of the Greek God Poseidon, which gives its possessor total control over the seas … IN VARIOUS DC NEWS: Gal Godot will reprise her role as Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman in a stand alone film that begins shooting as soon as this fall … Legion of Superheroes (a comic that followed a team of super-powered 20-somethings, in the 30th Century) is being developed and possibly prepped by Warner Bros. as a ‘superheroes in outer space’ story, ala Guardians of the Galaxy … Actress Margot (The Wolf of Wall Street) Robie has been cast as “Harley Quinn” in Suicide Squad, while Jared Leto has been cast as “The Joker,” and Will Smith has been cast as “Deadshot.” The film is being directed by David (Fury) Ayer … The CBS Supergirl series is finalizing casting and will begin shooting soon. The show is described as being about Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, who was born on Krypton, but escaped its destruction the same as Kal-El, by being sent to Earth. Taken in by a foster family, she’s been a “Super girl” in hiding, living in a “Superman” world, until turning twenty-four and coming into her own … Director Zak Snyder has offered this image for his version of the “Aquaman” character, as he appears in his forthcoming Batman Vs. Superman: Jason Mamoa had this to say about the role: “It’s not my movie. it’s the first time in history to have them (Superman & Batman) both on the screen together, and I’m just excited to see those two up there. Justice League is quite a ways away. But I’m looking forward to it.” He added, “There’s definitely a plan in this whole universe that Zack (Snyder) is designing. And it’s amazing to be a part of it. I think everything that you see that is building, there’s a purpose behind the whole plan. What’s great about this is Zack, man. We don’t want to just reinvent it, but he’s got a whole idea of what Aquaman should be and I’m really honored to be playing it. I’m excited for the world to see it.” Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is scheduled for release March 25, 2016. Justice League is tentatively scheduled for release in November of 2017. A potential and eventual Aquaman film is also in the offering … IN BRIEF: A remake of Walt Disney’s Pete’s Dragon (1977) is now shooting in New Zealand. The film is being directed by David (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) Lowery, and stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, and Robert Redford. The film is due in theaters August, 2016 … Steven Spielberg’s film Minority Report (2002) has spawned a television series. Set 10 years after the film, and the end of the Precrime Division, another generation of characters will secretly relaunch the Precrime Division in a genuine attempt to avoid possible Armageddon. Casting is complete and the show begins shooting very soon … Evan Daugherty (Divergent, Snow White and the Huntsman) is writing the Tomb Raider reboot for GK Films and MGM. Warner Bros. will release the film … Director Rob (Parks and Recreation) Schrab will helm the sequel to The LEGO Movie. The LEGO Movie Sequel is due in 2018. This film will follow on the heels of The Batman LEGO Movie, which will be released in 2017 … Michelle Gomez will reprise her role as “Missy,” or “The Master” in the upcoming season of the BBC’s Doctor Who … Ash Vs. Evil Dead begins production very soon (if it hasn’t already,) and will air in half hour episodes on the Starz Channel, later this year. Sam (Army of Darkness) Raimi will helm the initial episode. And it appears that many members of the same team that made that film, are also involved here. Gimme some sugar, baby. … Amazon Prime has ordered a full series commitment after evaluating viewings of the pilot for The Man in the High Castle. Based upon the 1962 novel by Philip K. Dick, the story centers on an alternate history (set in ’62) wherein the Germans and the Japanese won the Second World War, and each control half The United States. When tensions between these two sides rise, things get interesting, creating a highly complex story that won a Hugo Award in 1963. According to Amazon’s VP Roy Price, The Man in the High Castle is the most watched pilot Amazon has yet produced. And they’ve produced a lot of various pilot episodes of various shows. The Man in the High Castle’s subsequent episodes will be available later this year to all Prime Members. … The 1982 comic Dreadstar is headed for television. Benderspink and Universal Cable Productions are producing the live action pilot, without a current Network commitment. The story centers on Vanth Dreadstar, the sole survivor of the Milky Way Galaxy, who teams up with a band of strange characters to stop an ancient war between two evil empires, from spreading throughout the Universe. Jim Starlin, who created the character, will pen the screenplay. Starlin is also the creator of a trio of characters featured in Guardians of the Galaxy: “Thanos,” his adopted daughter “Gamora,” and “Drax the Destroyer” … Writer George R.R. Martin has revealed that Producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones are about to completely mess with both readers, and TV viewers heads by killing off a number of characters on the show, who live on in the books. Martin had the following to say, “People are going to die who don’t die in the books, so even the book readers will be unhappy. So everybody better be on their toes. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are even bloodier than I am.” … 20th Century Fox TV and New Regency are developing what they call an “event series,” based upon the graphic novel, Enormous. The story is set in a near future and involves an ecological crisis that spawns massive creatures. No writers or Network commitment has been announced … David (Jurassic Park) Koepp has been hired by Sony Pictures to pen an adaptation of Sylvain Neuvel’s debut science fiction novel, The Themis Files. The story concerns a covert project to assemble ancient body parts of a giant humanoid relic, buried long ago and all over the world, by aliens … Warner Bros. hasn’t given up on that Space Invaders movie just yet. They’ve hired writer Dan Kunka, author of a blacklisted screenplay that got a lot of attention, to re-draft the material based upon the classic early 80’s arcade game … Warner Bros. is also developing a motion picture version of Adventure Time. Roy Lee and Chris McKay (The Lego Movie) will produce, and series creator Pendleton Ward will co-write. Originally a TV movie was in development in-between the show’s 4th and 5th Seasons, but was cancelled … And last but not least, the 24th Bond film, Spectre has started shooting, with Daniel Craig being joined by series regulars, and Lea Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Christoph Waltz, and Dave (Guardians of the Galaxy) Bautista. The story is said to involve a cryptic message from an unlikely source that sets down Bond inside a maze of a criminal organization. As ‘M’ fights political pressure to shutter MI6, Bond uncovers a hidden truth that could destroy everything he fights to protect. HOW MANY ENTERTAINERS: ACTORS, DIRECTORS, WRITERS, PRODUCERS, DANCERS, SINGERS, what-have-ya, how many can you name (and trust me, you can count them on one hand,) how many can you name right now, without having to research the matter, thoroughly, that showed the integrity, the discipline, the sincerity, the dignity, and the poise that Leonard Nimoy did in his career ? How many ? I can name one or two off hand. Sidney Poitier and George Pal. After that, I start searching my memory, and eventually, I dodge my failing memory for that old Cinemania ’97 program that I have installed on my computer; which I consult regularly for research and the occasional adventurous foray into film history. And while that wonderful tool may lead me to find a new list of potential treasures I haven’t seen, and though I may discover endlessly interesting personalities I was completely unfamiliar with, there aren’t many that stand out with a certain tangible integrity, or that shine with that simple honesty that is a person’s true and own character. Most, are simply people who are paid to be artificial. They keep their true nature to themselves. And besides, who could blame them for getting lost in that unending cycle of publicity, pomp and circumstance, artificial humility, and a certain ‘when in Rome’ mentality, that affects all who work in such an industry. But Nimoy seemed to sidestep all that jazz. How ? The man was the very portrait of how to be a professional actor. ‘Nuff said, right ?. He was also known for being a terrific director. Stop there ? Photographer. Writer. Teacher. Lecturer. All of these are roles that are hard to master. And according to many who knew him, he was also a good friend, a fair man, and a endlessly curious rascal, who most found difficult to hold a grudge against. Was he simply meditating, or did he really learn that much from playing the character of Mr. Spock ? To quote In Search of …, I suggest there must be, “some possible explanation, but not necessarily the only one, for the mystery we will examine.” Leonard Simon Nimoy was born in March of 1931, in Boston. His parents were immigrants from what is now The Ukraine. His father a barber, his mother a homemaker. Their son (Lennie) began acting when he was 8 years old in a neighborhood theater. After high school, he studied drama and photography, and received honorary doctorates from two different Universities. In ’53 Nimoy enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, and as a Sergeant, he served in Army Special Services, helping put on shows for the troops. Then he moved to Hollywood and did more than 50 small parts in various films and TV shows; generally as, ‘the heavy.’ He also took on ‘ethnic’ roles during an era when Hollywood sought out the scarce ethic talent they could find, to play any ethnic role they could accomplish on camera, with said actor. He played everything from Italians, to Russians, to Mexicans, to Native Americans. And throughout, he picked up extra money teaching acting classes, on the side. But Gene Roddenberry’s Wagon Train to the stars, made him first a star, then a pop culture phenomenon, and finally, a legend. Star Trek was almost instantly popular. Although at the time, no one at Lucille Ball’s company “Desilu,” or Paramount, or even NBC knew that. There was press; there was lots of press. But the sponsors just weren’t there. Mainly because the “Nielsen Ratings” weren’t accurate. But it was a great run for him, and he made great money for the term of the show’s run on television. And after the show ended, he kept working. First came Mission: Impossible, playing the master of disguise, “Paris.” Then, the film Catlow (1971,) starring alongside Yul Brynner. Rod Serling’s Night Gallery gave him his first opportunity to direct. And he gave a calm, cool performance as a murdering surgeon in a terrific episode of Columbo, titled, ‘A Stitch in Crime.’ And there were plays, and commercials, and appearances on other television shows. His role as narrator on the mysteries of the unexplained show, In Search of… kept him in the public consciousness for some time. Almost everyone who was alive at the time saw it in syndication, at least once. His role as a psychiatrist in Philip Kaufman’s successful remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, remains a clear standout. And there was more. You can be sure of that. He just – kept – working. And then, somewhere in the early to mid 70’s, Nimoy began spotting his likeness as “Spock” on billboards advertising alcohol. He immediately started looking around and found that his likeness was being loaned out by Paramount to all matter of product placement. Right across the board, “Spock” was everywhere. And he looked just like Leonard Nimoy. So Nimoy began the process of trying to get paid for that. Which was a long, convoluted legal nightmare. Both to get the residuals he was owed for co-opting his image, and as an attempt to influence some element of responsible control over what products the image endorsed. Concurrent to this, Star Trek was coming back to life. First, there had been an animated series. Which, just like the original show, was massively more popular with the public than anyone knew at the time it was being produced. Then, there had been conventions. Small conventions that got BIG turnouts. Thousands showed up. Nobody saw that coming. Including Nimoy, Shatner, Kelley, Doohan, Koenig, Takei, Nichols, et al. Even Roddenberry, who had been attending Star Trek conventions almost since the day after the last episode aired on NBC, had no warning as to the mobs that would eventually begin descending on those later conventions. Then, in 1976, Star Trek went into syndication. And everyone was watching. It was instantaneously one of the highest rated syndicated shows in television history. Nielsen had finally fixed their unique system of establishing somewhat accurate numbers, that matched programs with television viewers. And POW ! Paramount wanted the show back on the air. Which is precisely what Gene Roddenberry had been trying to accomplish for some time. But then suddenly, Paramount did an about face, deciding they would rather try this Star Trek thing out as a film. In theaters, to be precise. Thus, Roddenberry oversaw the initial development of a grand vision of a screenplay, and the studio developed a short list of directors for the project. But when they threw bait into the water, the only bite they got, was from director Philip Kaufman. Kaufman would eventually leave the project after clashing with Roddenberry over the script (he wanted Toshiro Mifune to play Kirk’s arch nemesis in the form of a Klingon Commander,) and once the script was deemed by the studio brass to have been developed “by committee,” it was summarily shelved. But the script cooked up by Roddenberry and his writers, was a unique story idea. Kirk and crew (including Spock,) arrive to investigate a planet sending out a distress signal. The planet is phasing in and out of our dimension, in intervals. After briefly clashing with the Klingons, Kirk and a few Red Shirts beam down. The planet unexpectedly phases away, and doesn’t come back. Through subspace radio, Starfleet instructs Spock, now in command, to wait. A protracted period of time passes, but finally, Spock must leave orbit. Three years pass and Spock and crew are unexpectedly ordered by Starfleet to return to the planet. Passing ships keeping a wide berth of the area, have reported the planet’s recent reappearance. Soon, Kirk is returned to the Enterprise with a whopper of a story about the planet’s human inhabitants, and the bizarre alien race (the Cygnans) that both control the planet, and steal the technology of other races for their own purposes. But Spock intuits that Kirk is not telling them everything. He’s hiding something. And this generates conflict between the two men. When the Cygnans eventually realize they aren’t going to get what they want (the Enterprise,) they utilize technology stolen from another civilization to generate a wormhole singularity, which pulls the Enterprise in, along with their own planet. The scenario resolves with the Cygnans being defeated, but with the Enterprise and it’s Crew in orbit around the planet, in another distant time and place in the Galaxy. The planet is dramatically revealed to be Earth, now relocated to its present location, the solar system we all know so well. Upon beaming down to check on the human inhabitants, Kirk introduces his crew to the ancient civilization of human inhabitants, in residence. And then reveals to Spock evidence of the Sumerian culture, including the history of the Cygnan race’s rule over them, inscribed on tablets. And the kicker … before departing, Kirk and his crew are heralded as Gods by the inhabitants, and its clear that the Enterprise crew are in fact the source of the mythical Greek Titans recorded in ancient human history. Kirk and crew beam up, and head back through the wormhole singularity, to their own time and proper place in history; making calculations and getting ready to contact Starfleet for assistance in closing off the wormhole singularity, for good. The film was to be titled, Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. Nimoy read it, liked what he read, but inquired yet again about resolving the dispute over his likeness being used without his permission, and without being compensated. Paramount were tired of hearing about this. As it turned out, they never even asked legal about it. They didn’t give a damn and assumed the situation would resolve itself without their intervention. Bad judgement call. Without Nimoy, they were dead in the water. A Star Trek movie was never going to be the same without Mr. Spock, anymore than it would be the same without Captain Kirk. But until the legal situation regarding his likeness being used as product placement without his consent, was resolved, Nimoy of course, just kept declining to participate. And without the Spock character, Paramount were hesitant to pull the trigger. So they merely kept Star Trek in development. Languishing. It was a film, then it was a TV series, then there was talk it would be a series of made for TV movies, ala Columbo. Then it was a feature film, then it was a TV series again. The execs at Paramount were just playing with the idea, really. But there was no real momentum. Finally, they pulled the trigger, and began pre-production on Star Trek: Phase II. A television show wherein the Enterprise crew had been away for a short time, and change had come to Starfleet, life had moved on, and the Enterprise had been refit. They contacted Nimoy. He asked them if there was any progress on resolving the dispute over his likeness being used without proper compensation or permission. Paramount terminated contact with the actor, and another Vulcan character was created to take Spock’s place. The show would go on. Supposedly. Paramount kept things moving slowly. And Roddenberry took his time developing scripts. Sets were built, actors were cast. And then … one day … on May 25th, 1977 … it hit. Star Wars. And reportedly, the executives at Paramount were stilted. Both by the vision of the film they were all “required” by the Studio hierarchy to see, as well as by the box office receipts that rollllllled in, week after week. Only days before it was scheduled to begin shooting, Star Trek: Phase II was put into turnaround. The Paramount brass had to think this through. And while almost everyone involved in the production of Phase II suspected they knew why, it wasn’t until Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released, that they found out for sure. The studio now made no secret of what they wanted. They wanted a “big idea.” In fact, many at the studio were chatting endlessly about the dazzling effects in CE3K, as well as the compelling and emotional momentum of the film’s storyline. And the executives were saying, “This could have been us!” Now it was a certainty. There was going to be a movie. From here on, they were only looking at making a motion picture. Finally, Roddenberry understood what they were after. And when Roddenberry turned in a quick rewrite of Alan Dean Foster and Harold Livingston’s script for the pilot episode of Star Trek: Phase II, Paramount felt that this was the big idea they were waiting for, and the project was given a green light. Within days, a young executive asked to meet with Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy acquiesced, but during their lunch, refused to read the new script until the lawsuit was resolved. They parted ways, amicably, and soon after Nimoy got the script, a letter of resolution regarding the lawsuit, and a check for past due residuals for the use of his likeness as Spock — and a promise that it would never happen again. Nimoy opened the larger envelope, read the script, had a meeting with the director of The Andromeda Strain, Robert Wise, and agreed to sign on. It goes without saying, that Star Trek: The Motion Picture not only had production problems, but that the film was never actually completed by the director. (*Star Trek The Motion Picture was finally re-edited by Wise in 2001, utilizing CGI and sound effects that had been recorded by Alan Howarth in 1979, but never used. The Director’s Edition, was much favored by director Wise over the theatrical release, and is currently available only on DVD. Paramount is said to be working to bring it to Blu-ray.) In fact, according to Robert Wise, the film that was released to theaters was in fact his workprint. And according to Leonard Nimoy, when he asked the head of the studio at the film’s premiere in Washington D.C. how long they had to finish the film before it’s release, the head of the studio replied that as far as he was concerned the film was done, and scheduled to open in theaters the following Thursday. Simultaneous to their conversation, employees of Paramount were actually already getting the release prints from the film lab, and lining them up in a large empty sound stage in preparation for delivery to the theaters. Nimoy was crushed. And shocked. He simply assumed, ‘Oh well, on to the next thing, I guess.’ But Star Trek had a funny way of hanging on. Shockingly, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, already nicknamed “Star Trek The Motionless Picture” by critics; and at the time, the second most expensive motion picture ever made — right behind Superman – The Movie … actually made money. With a final budget that had ballooned to almost $46 Million dollars, the film still brought in close to $140 Million. And in 1979-1980 business climate, a film had to make three times it’s budget to clear a profit and be considered a success. Paramount didn’t get a windfall out of it, but the film cleared a profit, and would make them additional money in cable and other ancillary markets, nonetheless. So the consensus among the staff at Paramount, was simply, ‘Let’s get the next one right. And let’s get it cheap.’ Dumber words were never spoken by a studio executive in such ironic conundrum. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan was produced with the assistance of a television crew to keep costs down. Nicholas Meyer, the writer and director of Time After Time (a time travel story about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper to the present in his time machine,) was brought aboard to give the film more life. And he did. He eschewed the tired cliched and boring pacing of early 70’s sci-fi that had dogged the first film, and looked for a fresh approach that would appeal the both Star Trek fans and the Star Wars generation. He screened episodes of the Original Series, and discovered Ricardo Montalban’s character in the episode, “Space Seed.” Then, he made the creative decision to take inspiration from Captain Horatio Hornblower, and instantly, Star Trek II (originally titled “The Undiscovered Country,”) was off and running. There was only one problem. Although Nimoy loved his character, he didn’t want to “only” be associated with it. Spock hadn’t wrecked his career, but the Vulcan had definitely limited his options and opportunities. Due mainly to the stigma inherently associated with typecasting. So Meyer met with Nimoy, and asked, “How would you like to have a really good death scene?” Nimoy was hooked. And when news of Spock’s death leaked, Meyer and the film’s producer came up with a fun solution. Fake the death of Spock early in the film, belaying the audiences expectation of it, and then hit them with that zinger in the last reel. When another obstacle emerged, the producers dodged it with ease, as well. The studio felt “Undiscovered Country” was too vague and irrelevant to the plot, so Meyer and Producer Harve Bennett changed the title to Star Trek II: The Revenge of Khan. However, as soon as that title was announced, Paramount got calls from attorneys for Lucasfilm and 20the Century Fox Film Corporation. “That’s too similar to the title of our next Star Wars film, ‘Revenge of the Jedi.’” So Star Trek II became The Wrath of Khan, and 6 months later Revenge of the Jedi became Return of the Jedi. Yea, thanks for calling. Everyone involved thought the surprises were over. Until they screened the completed film for the first time, and the director saw that his ending had been altered by Paramount. There it was. Spock’s shiny new torpedo coffin, resting on the surface of a planet that was created by a device designed to regenerate life from death. All they could do was laugh. Even Nimoy thought it was hilarious. The movie was a hit. And those who made it accepted that their Frankenstein monster was in fact, a real beauty. And judging by the profits it made in June of 1982, every kid in every neighborhood saw it. More than once, in fact. Nimoy knew there would be a sequel. And he knew what the fans were going to want it to be about. So he moved quickly to get a meeting with Paramount, and told them that he wanted to direct the next film. They balked at that. Although Nimoy had, by that time, been working here and there as a director (mostly in television,) a had acquired a reputation for being a true professional — Star Trek III was slated to be a major feature film. With a sizable budget, to match. They weren’t sure he could handle the responsibility that came with the monolithic task of directing a major motion picture. Nimoy argued that he knew the character of Spock, knew Star Trek, and that he knew they needed Spock to be the momentum of the next story. And Leonard Nimoy direct’s The Search for Spock, had a nice ring to it. But Paramount still had reservations. Finally, Nimoy dropped a bomb on them. Either he directed Star Trek III, or this was the last conversation they were ever going to have with him again. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock wasn’t as much of a critical success as the the previous film, but it was the 10th highest grossing film of 1984. And whereas Star Trek II had made $79 Million, Star Trek III had made $76 Million. Not bad, as far as diminishing returns goes. But it wasn’t really Leonard Nimoy’s film. The storyline was mostly cooked up by Producer Harve Bennett, with generous suggestions from the Studio brass. And as a direct result, it was a very uneven storyline. And while being entirely watchable (certainly for Star Trek fans,) it nevertheless had retained no semblance of spirit of what had made the previous film so incredibly popular. But regardless, Leonard Nimoy’s work as a director, shined through. And Nimoy was immediately asked back to helm the next film. The studio told him, “the training wheels are off. We want your Star Trek film.” Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was one of the most successful films of 1986, generating over $100 Million, and remains one of the most critically and commercially successful films in the history of the Star Trek franchise. But it was something else: the most accessible to non-Trekkies. And that was alllll Nimoy. He wanted to lighten things up. The first Star Trek film was pretentious to the point of boredom. The second one was a bit gritty, and featured the death of a major player. The third was was operatic, and featured the death of Captain Kirk’s only son. Nimoy felt the fourth one should have something to say, but should also be light. Even frivolous. Still dealing with interference from Paramount, the initial draft was a retread on their biggest hit at that time, Beverly Hills Cop. It featured a “fish-out-of-water” team-up between the crew of the Starship Enterprise, and Eddie Murphy. And reportedly, the script came off as a Mad Magazine parody, similar in may ways to comedian Richard Pryor being wedged into the plot of Superman III. Thankfully, Murphy bowed out to do The Golden Child. A film he later regretted making, stating, “I just walked through Golden Child. I would have been better off doing Star Trek IV.” Soon after he departed, Nimoy called the cavalry: Nicholas Meyer. And the rest is movie history. Thanks in large part to screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, and the one and only Leonard Nimoy, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home was the one Star Trek film that everybody saw. No matter who they were. Star Trek had finally generated a story that appealed to the general movie going public. And for a brief moment in time, those cult-like walls had come down, changing the fan base to include just about anyone and everyone. It was a magical moment for Star Trek fans. But it didn’t last. As stated, the fourth film cleaned up at the box office, during the ’86 holiday season. And by January, Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner had requested a meeting with the Paramount studio brass. And as it had been agreed during secret contract negotiations for Star Trek IV, Shatner would indeed direct V. During production of the fifth film, Nimoy serviced as a consultant and confidant to his friend, but the film, and it’s story, was Shatner’s creation. Nimoy had climbed into the backseat and made no derogatory comments about Captain Kirk’s driving skills. The film was about the Starship Enterprise being hijacked by a religious evangelist who believes the intelligent source of all creation lies just beyond a barrier separating the outer areas of our Galaxy, from the large middle interior mid section thingy place, of our Galaxy. Notice how awkward that sounds. I did that on purpose; that’s what it’s like watching the movie. And while fans had high hopes (based primarily on the teaser poster seen at right,) the film was a flop for Paramount. And dependent on what sources you cite, the film cost just over $30 Million (much of it not even on the screen, due to some rather badly produced effects,) and had only made somewhere between $52 and $63 Million. While Paramount’s other big summer release that year, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, cleaned up at the box office, the Studio essentially took a bath in red ink on Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. The cast, including Nimoy, initially thought it was the end of Star Trek, once and for all. Then, Paramount called again. No kidding. Literally days after the failure of the film was official, the head of Paramount called Leonard Nimoy. “We want to do something for the Anniversary coming up.” Nimoy quickly, and wisely, suggested Paramount also contact writer/director Nicholas Meyer (a prime factor in the success of both Star Trek II and Star Trek IV,) and put the two of them get together to toss around some ideas. So, on a long walk on the beach somewhere on the East Coast, Nimoy and Meyer chatted. The Berlin Wall had come down in ’89, and and one of them (Nimoy says it was him, Meyer says it was him,) offered that there could be a Klingon parallel. As originally planned by both men, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Meyer finally got to use his title) was to be an expansive, big budget 1970’s style political thriller in space; with shades of Rod Serling and John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, in the background. But Roddenberry was displeased with the direction and tone of the film. As well as many of the plot contrivances. And Paramount wanted to keep Roddenberry happy for the upcoming Anniversary. On top of that, and for reasons unknown, Paramount quickly began slicing away at the film’s budget. A lengthy scene that came hot-on-the-heels of Captain Sulu’s observance of the destruction of a Klingon moon that was a prime energy producer for the entire Klingon economy, had to be cut. Kirk was to be reactivated and sent to round up his retired crew. He knows where Scotty is, so he tears him away from teaching a class in a Starfleet Academy hanger, utilizing the Bird of Prey from Star Trek III and Star Trek IV. (Storyboard seen above.) Scotty knows that Uhura is commuting to Mars to host a radio program, so they rescue her from utter boredom, leaving the mic open in their wake. Next, they tear Chekov away from a chess game he’s loosing in Russia, and then, the group find Dr. McCoy drunk at a social gathering. This all had to go. And as mandated by Paramount, via Gene Roddenberry, the Seven Days in May subplot had to go, as well. So no reason for the military ribbons on some of the uniforms of some of the Starfleet personnel is ever given. The story behind that was that several months before the events of the film, the Military had re-organized and attempted a political coup to take over Starfleet. It failed and the Military was simply ingested into the Starfleet ranks. It made for great political intrigue and added more ingredients and red herrings to the plot. But it was gone. Then, there were small moments that cast doubt on many members of the Enterprise crew. Did they possibly have a motive to get involved in sabotaging a peace summit between the Klingons and the Federation ? Roddenberry wanted that gone, too. Then, there was the massive battle at the end of the film, that involved a cloaked Klingon ship attacking the Enterprise, only to be set upon by the Excelsior, and then surprisingly, by another Klingon ship, and also a Romulan ship. All four ships playing cat and mouse with a cloaked ship they cannot see, moving about the battlefield freely. The effects for that alone constituted about $11 Million of the films budget. Paramount simply told Nicholas Meyer, you no longer have $35 Million, you have $18, do what you can. The result was a movie that is a shell of its former self. Really. A good film, but not the great film it could have been. Not by far. Nimoy, however, like all involved, enjoyed the reunion, and the chance to build a Trek film that would leave a better lasting impression that Star Trek V. And now, finally, it was over. Right ? Nope. Nimoy rightfully turned down a walk-on in Star Trek: Generations, due mainly to a badly designed script and opening scene. (Shatner did the film and they reportedly shot his character in the back, before Paramount saw the scene and made them reshoot it; giving Kirk a more dignified death.) But between audio book recordings, convention appearances, funny commercials, and even two returning appearances in J.J. Abrams Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness, “Mr. Spock” never really parted ways with Leonard Nimoy. Over the years, he had written two separate books about his relationship with the fictional character. “I’m Not Spock (1975,)” and “I Am Spock (1995).” The first was highly controversial among Star Trek fans, but both sold well. This added ‘Author’ to his colorful resume, and multifaceted career. He even helped produce a comic book: Primortals. And he made regular appearances on both The Simpsons and Futurama. He never stopped working. Even after he announced his retirement, Leonard Nimoy made appearances on Fringe, The Big Bang Theory, and others. He was a constant success, and truly a positive example to anyone wishing to achieve such success. And, he was a man filled with philosophical insight and wisdom. You only had to listen. Without a certain journal, or road map of the man’s intentions in life, I am not certain of his personal goals, or his general target of accomplishment. But I can say one thing for certain. Lennie hit whatever he was aiming at.
STARLOG LIVES !
As you no doubt know if you read this blog, Starlogger is an homage to the “Log Entries” column of Starlog magazine, a now defunct publication that originally hit news stands in 1976, and was unfortunately discontinued as a published title in 2009. And while republication of Starlog magazine in newsstand format seems like a longshot at present — specifically given current competition from the likes of SFX Magazine and Empire Magazine — Starlog has nonetheless fought its way out of retirement, and relaunched as a website, with all new contributors: Ken Hanley, Brittany Vincent, Robert Vaughn, and Josef Luciano. And the current plan is to have a digital version of the magazine bow, later this year ! Starlog was billed as The Science Fiction Universe, and was the premiere magazine to cover sci-fi entertainment in Television and Film, throughout the 1980’s. And while Starburst, Fantastic Films, Cinefantastique, and even Famous Monsters of Filmland, regularly offered plenty of meaty competition — Starlog was King. The magazine would often include some of the most sought after interviews, from personalities working in the various genres associated with Sci-Fi; from Ray Bradbury to Steven Spielberg, and William Gibson to John Carpenter — Starlog interviewed everybody. And Starlog was often a magazine ahead of the curve, printing exclusives provided to them by Paramount on the Star Trek films, and letter writing campaigns to keep beloved genre television shows such as Starman and Beauty and the Beast, on the air. The magazine also included book reviews, comic book reviews, home video reviews, and ever so often, video game and toy reviews. There were even film reviews by some very notable contributors such as Harlan Ellison and Ben Bova. Today, Starlog is a product of The Brooklyn Company, LLC, and remains a sibling publication to “Fangoria” magazine. Different company, different team, but they definitely have the potential, the support, and the financial assets to make that forthcoming digital edition happen. And Starlog fans are rooting for them.
The new site can be found here: http://www.starlog.com/
And the Twitter page can be found here: https://twitter.com/StarlogMag
Starlogger blog wishes the rebirth of “Starlog” nothing but the best, and has high hopes for the future relaunch of the newsstand edition. Good Luck, Starlog !! … JURASSIC WORLD is looking more interesting, with these leaked photos from a brochure designed for guests of the park. If you click on the second photo for a larger version, you will better discern the various species of dinosaur that will be on display to the public, once the park opens, June 12, next year.
Please also note below a photo of a damaged tour vehicle, provided by an unnamed insurance company for reasons of corporate compliance with laws of transparency, we won’t go into. Note the damage to the vehicle, reportedly caused by a “minor incident” within a “contained area,” the public will not have access to. Clearly, these animals are the real deal. Legal Representatives of Jurassic World have given assurances that this is merely evidence of a common occurrence, wherein their own “animal handling experts” have not followed proper protocols. They insist that this photographic evidence has been divulged to better advise and educate the public on the purpose of adhering to the park’s strict safety precautions, while visiting the island …
IN STAR WARS: EPISODE VII NEWS, the production was set back a few weeks due to a severe leg injury suffered by actor Harrison Ford (Han Solo,) when a part of the Millennium Falcon set fell on his lower leg and ankle. And while rumors about the film’s supposed plot have been spamming the internet non-stop for many months now (most centering on two key elements: Solo and a small band of youths searching for Luke Skywalker, and additional characters referred to as “Jedi Hunters”) the unforeseen accident, has inherently revealed that Ford’s character will in fact be central to the plot of the film. Attempts were made by Disney to juggle the schedule, but in the end, the Studio was forced to admit that Ford’s injury put the production of the film behind schedule, and by a substantial margin. The good news is that Ford is on the mend, and according to various sources, eager to get back to work as soon as possible …
AND WRITER/DIRECTOR KEVIN SMITH recently paid a visit to the Pinewood Studios set of the film, and afterward gave his own colorful impressions of what he saw. “So we go to the set, and they’re actually shooting, and they’re shooting — and this is what I can’t tell you, what they were shooting — but what I saw I absolutely loved. It was tactile, it wasn’t a series of f***ing green and bluescreens in which later on digital characters would be added. It was there, it was happening. I saw uniforms, I saw artillery that I haven’t seen since I was a kid. I saw them shooting an actual sequence in a set that is real — I walked across the set, there were explosions — and it looked like a shot right out of a f***ing Star Wars movie.” … MOVIE POSTER ARTIST DREW STRUZAN has not confirmed this yet, but he is rumored to be the only artist Disney and director Abrams want for the job … JOSH (CHRONICLE) TRANK will helm a Star Wars spinoff in-between Episodes VIII and IX. Slated for release in 2018, the focus of the story has not been revealed by Disney at this time. This announcement comes hot on the heels of director Gareth (Godzilla) Edwards being hired to direct yet another Star Wars spinoff, scheduled to be released in 2016 … AND FOR THOSE INTERESTED, Episode VII will include sequences filmed in the IMAX format … IN OTHER STAR WARS NEWS, director Rian (Looper) Johnson was recently hired, then quickly removed from his position as director of the eventual sequel to the forthcoming Episode VII. Normally, studios choose not to comment on these situations, but in this case, Disney CEO Bob Iger had this to say, “It is with sad regret, we have had to part ways prematurely with Mr. Johnson. Although I am a fan of his work, his current passion to add an unwelcomed character to this future production, cannot happen. There’s too much baggage accompanying it.” Shortly thereafter, director Rian Johnson responded to Iger’s statement during an interview, and it was a response that quite simply astonished a lot of people. “It’s simple, really. I want to bring back Jar Jar Binks. What? You think I’m kidding? He’s actually one of the strongest characters ever created by George Lucas. He had so much potential, but unfortunately George decided that he would give Jar Jar the speech impediment of a bullfrog. I was going to change that! I wanted to redeem Jar Jar’s honor and make him a strong reliable character. Unfortunately the higher ups were heavily opposed to him being written into the story. We had a disagreement, and now here I am – at a sidewalk food cart. One day you’re a director of one of the biggest franchises in movie history, the next, you’re sitting in the middle of New York waiting for your felafel to cook. I guess, MEESA OUTTA DA JOB!” … DIRECTOR J.J. ABRAMS POSTED A RECENT UPDATE to the “Force for Change” initiative to benefit UNICEF. The “contest,” ongoing for about two months, grants the winner the chance to participate in the production and be featured in Episode VII. Abrams’ update was in the form of a video, wherein he stands against a Tie Fighter with a blue stripe. A revealing set piece to be sure. Take a look-see:
MARK HAMILL recently attended Star Wars Weekends, and was asked to voice a short exchange between The Joker and Luke Skywalker. The dialogue produced a hilarious moment.
… IN MARVEL NEWS: say hello to the new Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man ! Marvel has made some interesting, if timely changes to the Avengers roster that will soon be appearing within the pages of Marvel Comics. Thor will now be a woman, the Captain America costume will now be worn by “The Falcon” (a character portrayed in the Winter Soldier by actor Anthony Mackey,) and Iron Man will now be “Superior Iron Man.” Which appears to involve an extraordinary upgrade in Tony Stark’s armor design, and according to Marvel, this is NOT in fact Tony Stark. They say comic readers will find this new Superior Iron Man hard to root for. And so far, no word on the character’s true identity, which could mean that a foe has taken over the role of Iron Man in the comic … THOSE PLANET HULK RUMORS have been denied yet again. Previously Marvel’s Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Feige, and Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo, both emphatically denied the Planet Hulk rumors. But still, the rumors wouldn’t die. So this time, an unlikely ally has come to their defense: director James (Guardians of the Galaxy) Gunn. “I can answer that question very easily: it is absolute, 100% bulls**t. It feels like a great relief to finally say this after all the dumb stuff on the Internet. There’s not going to be a ‘”Planet Hulk” movie, there was never going to be a “Planet Hulk” movie, there was never plan for the Hulk to team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy – I wouldn’t want the Hulk to team up with the Guardians of the Galaxy. And it’s all a bunch of complete bulls**t.” … So there’s that. … SPEAKING OF GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, the film recently had its first press screening, and the responses were reportedly fantastic. They loved it ! Here’s a look at the theatrical poster:
LUCY (B.S.G., XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS) LAWLESS will have a recurring role on Season Two of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. … STAN LEE has revealed that he will have a cameo in the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron … AND VARIOUS OTHER BITS of info have also been revealed by Disney. As opposed to the comics, “Ultron” is reportedly a robot built by Tony Stark, which goes haywire, and at some point grants “Jarvis,” Stark’s personal sentient computer intelligence, physical form — as The Vision … X-MEN: APOCALYPSE, the direct sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past, will be, according to screenwriter Simon Kinberg, a disaster epic … THE FANTASTIC FOUR REBOOT will not be utilizing material from the comic books. It will instead be a total reinvention. A possibly ironic revelation, given that just a few months ago, Marvel tried to reacquire the film rights to Fantastic Four from 20th Century Fox, and were unsuccessful. Marvel’s response ? They pulled all “Fantastic Four” comic book titles from the shelf. Seriously. And while reportedly, the characters will be free to make appearances in other titles, there will be no further FF issues on stands. Marvel even pulled FF signage down from the walls of its offices, until further notice. Marvel is said to have done this because it doesn’t want to help the production or release of the Fox film in any way … WRITER’S ROBERT ORCI AND ALEX KURTZMAN (Amazing Spider-Man 2) recently revealed that the future of Sony’s current Amazing Spider-Man franchise is uncertain. No doubt due in part to the lower than expected returns and profits of Amazing Spider-Man 2 only earlier this summer. Rumors have been swirling for some time now that the Marvel/Sony Amazing Spider-Man spinoff, The Sinister Six, may also be in trouble. Though it should be stated for the record that rumors of that future production’s demise, have been unconfirmed by Studio, or creative sources. And to be fair, it has been speculated that The Sinister Six will merely be the title of the next Amazing Spider-Man film, and that said film will refocus its attention on the villains, as opposed to Spidey. Stay tuned, true believers! … ANT-MAN has recently received negative publicity for Marvel’s falling out with writer/director Edgar Wright. When questioned during a press junket for Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel CEO Kevin Feige offered the following explanation: “We sat round a table and we realized it was not working. A part of me wishes we could have figured that out in the eight years we were working on it. But better for us and for Edgar that we figure it out then, and not move it through production. We said ‘let’s do this together and put out a statement.’ What do we say? ‘Creative differences’. I said: ‘That’s what they always say and no-one ever believes it.’ Edgar said: ‘But in this case it’s true.’ The Marvel movies are very collaborative, and I think they are more collaborative than what he had been used to. And I totally respect that. [But] the notion that Marvel was scared, the vision was too good, too far out for Marvel is not true. And I don’t want to talk too much about that because I think our movies speak to that. The biggest disappointment for me is just the relationship, because I like Edgar very, very much and we were very close for many many years. But the perception that the big evil studio was too scared at the outside-the-box creative vision is just not the case.” … AND DOCTOR STRANGE is looking more and more like a soon-to-be Disney release. Director Scott (Sinister, The Day The Earth Stood Still) Derrickson was recently hired to helm the film. Several names have been mentioned as being courted to play the lead character, and according to Marvel, none of those names are off the table. They reportedly include Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Tom Hardy … IN DC NEWS, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may have recently revealed that he has been cast as Captain Marvel (not to be confused with any characters in the Marvel Universe,) otherwise known as Shazam. Johnson has been negotiating with Warner Bros. for months, and rumors have swirled as to which character he was in discussions to play, with Lobo being the front runner. However, Johnson himself gave a fairly telling description of the character he’s planning to portray. “I will say this. There’s a character out there that we’re going to announce very soon that I’m going to play, and I’ll just say this: This character has the power of Superman… and it’s not Green Lantern by the way… he can throw down. Just say the word. That’s all I’m going to say.” The announcement will reportedly be made at this years San Diego Comic-Con. … BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE — what a awkward mouthful that title is — is well into production, and rumors have spammed the net that actor Ben Affleck is having serious trouble dealing with his constricting and claustrophobic bat-suit. For reference, please see photos below of both the Man of Steel, and Dark Knight, as featured in the new film. “Click” for larger.
DIRECTOR RIDLEY SCOTT will film The Martian, a script centering on an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars alone. So Castaway on the Red Planet. This, according to director Scott, will film “before” the sequel to Prometheus, and “before” the sequel to Blade Runner. And apparently before any of those projects, he will also shoot his own version of the David and Goliath story. Ladies and gentlemen, the King of multitasking, Ridley Scott … SPEAKING OF BLADE RUNNER, actor Harrison Ford was “officially” offered the role of Rick Deckard in the forthcoming sequel, back in May. The film is being produced by Alcon Entertainment, and they sent out a press release, reading in part, “We believe that Hampton Fancher and Michael Green have crafted with Ridley Scott an extraordinary sequel to one of the greatest films of all time. We would be honored, and we are hopeful, that Harrison will be part of our project.” … AND SPEAKING OF RIDLEY SCOTT, a new video game based upon the director’s original film, Alien, “Alien: Isolation (Nostromo Missions)” portrays the original cast of the film, and additionally features voiceover work by said actors. And even though much of the game focuses mainly on Ripley’s daughter searching space for her mother, the exclusive “Nostromo Missions” version of the game, includes specific play levels where players recreate sequences in the film. The game doesn’t hit shelves until October 7th, but has already amassed a reputation among those who’ve tested it, as “authentically terrifying.”
… SPEAKING OF THE ALIEN FRANCHISE, JAMES CAMERON recently gave an update on the Avatar sequel scripts he has been working on. And it sounds like a complex procedure, involving multiple writers, aside from just himself. Said Cameron: “We tried an experiment. We set ourselves a challenge of writing three films at the same time. And I could certainly write any one of them but to write three in some reasonable amount of time – we wanted to shoot them together so we couldn’t start one until all three scripts were done and approved.” He added, “So we put together three teams, one for each script. The teams consist of me and another writer on each one of the three [films]. So I’m across all the films and then each one of them would have their own individual script they were responsible for. But what we did that was unique was we sat in the writing room for five months, eight hours a day, and we worked out every beat of the story across all three films so it all connects as one, sort of, three film saga. And I didn’t tell them which one was going to be there’s individually to write until the last day. So everyone was equally invested, story wise, in all three films.” Cameron also commented on the research he did in association with the new Avatar films. “… the first thing I did was sat for a year and wrote 1500 pages of notes of the world and the cultures and the different clans and different animals and different biomes and so on. And had a lot of loose thematic stuff that ran through that but I didn’t a concrete story. I wanted to approach it more like, ‘Guys we’re going to adapt a novel or series of novels.’ Because I felt that kind of detail, even if movies can’t ever be that detailed – it can be visually detailed, it can’t be that detailed in terms of character and culture. But you always get this tip of the iceberg kind of thing. You sense it’s there off camera or in the past of the moment that you’re seeing. So I felt that was the way to do it.”
IN REMAKE NEWS, PARAMOUNT HAS HIRED WRITERS Geoff Moore and Dave Posamentier (Better Living Through Chemistry) to pen a remake of Joe Dante’s 1985 cult hit, Explorers. The original film centered on two kids who have identical dreams about flying above a giant computer circuit board. One is a computer genius, and decides to build the board, just to find out what it does, and surprise surprise — it generates a force field bubble that withholds inertia from the occupant. Joined by a third kid, the three boys scavenge a junk yard for parts for a flying machine, and eventually wind up traveling into space, and making contact with extraterrestrials that aren’t exactly what they had in mind. Paramount’s low budget label is behind this one, so no one is expecting very much in the way of large scale effects (thankfully.) The producers will be Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, ABC’s Life on Mars.) The project has been likened to the new wave of low budget, p.o.v. shaky-cam teens and S/F flicks that are now headed our way. Perhaps it will work, perhaps it won’t, but either way it’s a great excuse to post this beautiful poster imagine what could have been.
… AND SCREENWRITER SETH GRAHAME-SMITH (Dark Shadows, Beetlejuice 2) will make his feature directing debut with a new version of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, for Disney. The original, much maligned film, starred Jason Robards, Jonathan Price, and Pam Grier, among others, in a story featuring a dark character who arrives in town and begins privately bartering for people’s souls. His name is “Mr. Dark,” and he is the perennial ringleader of a traveling carnival at the turn of the last Century. Grahame-Smith had this to say: “I have been so crazy about this book, and it was such a formative title in my life that I actually wrote a piece on NPR about why it is so important for young males to read. It is a classic coming-of-age, father-son story about the transition from childhood to adulthood and how kids can’t wait to be adults and adults romanticize their childhoods. I’m not remaking the movie; I want the haunted atmosphere that makes the book so chilling, and I want to reinstate some of the classic scenes from the book that were missing from the ’83 film.” Grahame-Smith will write the treatment, and the studio will assign a writer to the project. David Katzenberg (upcoming Gremlins reboot, Beetlejuice 2) will produce the project … UNIVERSAL HAVE RELEASED some concept art for their upcoming tent-pole sequel/reboot, Jurassic World. Looks like a resort in Dubai, see for yourself: 20’TH CENTURY FOX released a second full trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past … and, well … now you’re talkin‘.
THERE’S ALSO A FRESH TRAILER OUT for Jupiter Ascending. That film from the creators of The Matrix. And it’s somewhat more compelling that the previous trailer.
A RECENT RUMOR SURROUNDING INDIANA JONES 5 had Harrison Ford being replaced by Hangover star Bradley Cooper. Thankfully, Disney assures us this was only a rumor, and nothing more. According to Disney Execs, a fifth Indy film is in development for release in calendar year, 2016, and star Harrison Ford is the only actor intended to play the role. Lucas and Speilberg are also said to be on-board for at least one, and possibly two more outings. And on a clearly related note, stages at Pinewood Studios, England have been booked next year for, “Indiana Jones 5.” … IN TERMINATOR 5 NEWS, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently commented on his character’s appearance in the larger plot of the forthcoming storyline. “‘Terminator’ deals a lot with time travel, so there will be a younger T-800, and then what that model does later on when it gets reprogrammed, and who gets a hold of him. So it will be all kinds of interesting twists in the movie.” And in addressing his own on-screen appearance at his current age, Schwarzenegger had this to say: “The way that the character is written, it’s a machine underneath. It’s this metal skeleton. But above that is human flesh. And the Terminator’s flesh ages, just like any other human being’s flesh. Maybe not as fast. But it definitely ages.” … DIRECTOR IVAN REITMAN has left the production of Ghostbusters III. This following on the death of actor/writer/director Harold (Caddyshack, National Lampoon’s Vacation) Ramis, who portrayed Egon in the original 1984 film. As soon as Reitman’s representatives released his statement, Sony Pictures announced that the writers of the LEGO movie had been hired to rewrite the current script. Actor Ernie Hudson, who played Winston Zeddmore, commented: “Well there can’t be another Ghostbusters without Harold. It will be a Ghost- something, but it won’t be… That was always my fear – that something would happen before we all got together.” And Hudson was unfortunately right. Even Dan Aykroyd looks to be sitting this one out, so this now appears to be a complete reboot of the franchise. Very sad. … LUC BESSON’S NEW ONE, LUCY, suddenly has a nifty trailer out:
IN DC MOVIE NEWS, Russell Crowe has revealed that he will not make an appearance in the sequel to Man of Steel, currently titled Batman Vs. Superman. Said Crowe, “I don’t think they’re going to use me again. I think they’re jumping onto a different stream. They’re going with the different superhero worlds colliding.” … IN MARVEL MUSICAL CHAIRS NEWS, actor Chris Evans, star of Marvel’s upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier, has stated that he is soon to hang up his shield as an actor for good, in favor of moving into the director’s chair. And Robert Downey Jr., a.k.a. Iron Man, has also affirmed that he is leaving the house of Marvel. The upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron, and a forthcoming Avengers 3, will be his last turns at Tony Stark. But in a strange twist, Hugh Jackman, who previously voiced his decision to retire from portraying the character of Logan/Wolverine, has signed on for Wolverine 2. The script is now being written for the same director who helmed the last one. And first came word that actress Anna Paquin, alias “Rogue” had been cut from X-Men: Days of Future Past, now comes word that Halle Barry’s turn as “Storm” in the film, has all but been eliminated. This has been Marvel Musical Chairs. Tune in next week when … THE 1980’s GRAPHIC NOVEL & COMIC by writer/artist Jim Starlin, Dreadstar will be headed to theaters soon. Benderspink have optioned the rights and reportedly intend to get the film into theaters as fast as they can. The comic concerns Vanth Dreadstar, the lone survivor of the obliterated Milky Way Galaxy, and his band of misfit cohorts, Syzygy Darklock, Willow, and Oedi, in their strange adventures while caught up in the middle of a war between two alien empires … THAT 2’ND TOM CRUISE SCI-FI ACTIONER, (the second of three he has signed on for, the first was Oblivion) has a new trailer. From the director of The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and formerly titled, All You Need Is Kill – the currently titled Edge of Tomorrow (yes, everyone is well aware that sounds like the title of a daytime Soap,) looks rather intriguing:
IN STAR WARS NEWS, confirmation has officially arrived that Peter Mayhew will reprise the role of “Chewbacca” in the new film, flying in the face of a spinoff novel “Vector Prime,” by author R. A. Salvator, which killed off the character from the Star Wars cannon. In other Episode VII news, the upcoming film will be shown in IMAX. And Disney head honcho Alan Horn has revealed: A) that casting is nearly completed, and will be announced soon; B) that the film is already shooting; and C) that the film takes place 30 to 35 years after Return of the Jedi. Meanwhile, many eagle-eyed internet hounds quickly noticed an artist rendering of The Millennium Falcon in the background of a photo of a recent production meeting with production designer Rick (Jurassic Park) Carter … THE FIRST TEASER TRAILER FOR OUTLANDER, the cable series based on the massively popular books by DianaGabaldon, looks compelling enough. Ronald D. Moore of Battlestar Galactica reboot fame is producing:
AND NOW FOR SOME ASSORTED TIDBITS: Pixar is working on The Incredibles 2 … but Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, is on hold at Disney … Universal has hired the writer of both the upcoming Johnny Depp science fiction vehicle, Transcendence, and Ridley Scott’s forthcoming sequel to Prometheus, to pen a complete reboot of the original Battlestar Galactica (Bryan Singer is no longer attached) … Marvel has confirmed that Captain America 3 will hit theaters in May of 2016 … Actor B.D. Wong, alias “Dr. Henry Wu” in the original Jurassic Park, will return for Jurassic World … James Cameron’s Avatar sequels will utilize something called “Extra Deep 3D” … Nathan (Firefly, Castle) Fillon has revealed he makes a brief appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy … Wreck It Ralph 2 is being written as we speak … SONY will produce a Sinister Six film, based upon their right to use the Marvel characters: Doctor Octopus, Electro, Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Sandman and The Vulture … Frederik Pohl’s classic science fiction novel, Gateway will soon be adapted into a TV series … Screenwriter John (Gladiator, Skyfall) Logan is currently working on the script for the next Bond film, and rumor is swirling that Ernst Stavro Blofeld will make an appearance — also, actor Chiwetel (Serenity) Ejiofor is reportedly up for a role in the film … The Wachowskis are developing a new Matrix trilogy … Warner Bros. is planning a Minecraft movie … Dreamworks has a fifth Shrek movie in development … Jeff Goldblum is back for Independence Day 2, also known as ID4Ever … and finally, Richard Donner has confirmed that Goonies II will soon go into production, but without Donner himself directing … AND NOW FOR THE INEVITABLE BAD NEWS … MICKEY ROONEY has died. Born Joseph Yule Jr., in Brooklyn in 1920, Rooney was one part of a multifaceted vaudeville family. He could do comedy and drama, as well as sing and dance, just like his parents. He was one of the last surviving members of the silent film era, and went on to entertain troops in combat areas for the American Forces Network, during the Second World War. And by then, movie lovers everywhere knew his name. His longstanding professional partnership with Judy Garland became the stuff of Hollywood legend. But said Rooney: “Judy and I were so close we could’ve come from the same womb. We weren’t like brothers or sisters but there was no love affair there; there was more than a love affair. It’s very, very difficult to explain the depths of our love for each other. It was so special. It was a forever love. Judy, as we speak, has not passed away. She’s always with me in every heartbeat of my body.” After the War, Rooney ping-ponged back and forth from the cinema to a new popular medium called Television. And he did so many shows, that Mickey and his talent agents reportedly lost track. Thus, in a situation resembling that of iconic director John Ford, Rooney’s resume on imdb has been termed, “incomplete.” What is known, is that Mickey Rooney was one of the most prolific actors in history — having acted since childhood. From the silent era, into the sound era. From stage, to film, to Television, award winning Mickey Rooney never stopped working. He died in his home in North Hollywood, at the age of 93, but he will be remembered. Among Rooney’s more notable genre appearances are: The Atomic Kid (which he produced,) The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, The Year Without a Santa Clause, Pete’s Dragon, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Erik the Viking, and Night at the Museum … AND MAXIMILIAN SHELL passed away in November at the age of 83. Shell had been hospitalized in Innsbruck, Austria, following a sudden, serious illness. He was an actor with a long, thoroughly distinguished career on both stage and film. Right out of the gate, and as a relatively young man, he won the best actor Oscar for his role in Judgement at Nuremberg. Shell was born in Vienna in 1930, and raised in Switzerland after his family fled Germany’s annexation of his homeland. Eage-eyed Superman: The Movie fans will spot his older sister, Maria, appearing in a key opening scene. Maximilian himself will best remembered by genre fans as Tea Leoni’s dad in the Steven Spielberg produced, Deep Impact, and a two-faced Cardinal in John Carpenter’s Vampires. But many of a certain age, will definitely remember the impressionable Shell, as Dr. Hans Reinhardt, in Disney’s The Black Hole.… THEN THERE’S THAT GUY ALMOST EVERYONE RECOGNIZES … and yet … they can’t seem to remember his name. Known for being a hard working actor, James Rebhorn was born in Philadelphia in September of 1948, and would eventually attend Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. There, he appeared in theatrical productions of Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata” and Moliere’s “Tricks of Scapin.” Graduating in 1970, he moved to New York City, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts at Columbia University, and became active in the theater scene. Rebhorn would eventually act in hundreds of plays, Television shows, and films, throughout the course of his career. And everyone who sees his face, remembers him from something. Whether it’s the guy who obsessively advises the the President in Independence Day, or the College Administrator who presides over the hearing in the last act of Scent of a Woman. Almost everyone has seen his face somewhere. As a prolific actor, he was always, ‘that guy that keeps popping up on TV all the time.’ But Rebhorn had a sense of humor about it, and television audiences never seemed to mind. Rebhorn’s work ethic was such that when in 2010 he got an offer to play a character on a daytime soap called Guiding Light, he took it without hesitation. To Rebhorn, a job was a job. He merely wanted to stay a working actor all his life. And he did. In addition to his aforementioned genre roles, Rebhorn also had parts in Cat’s Eye, The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Real Steel, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green, among others. The cause of his death was a melanoma first diagnosed in 1992. “He had been fighting it ever since but managed to keep working,” noted his Representative. And at the time of his death, he was working on the highly popular cable show, Homeland. He was 65 years old. … AND TWO DR. WHO VETERANS HAVE ALSO RECENTLY PASSED ON: DEREK MARTINUS & KATE O’MARA. Derek Martinus was the British director responsible for a number of well-known early stories in the franchise, from 1965 to 1970. His credits included the serials, Mission to the Unknown, The Tenth Planet, The Evil of the Daleks, and The Ice Warriors, as well as the show’s first serial to be filmed in color, The Spearhead From Space. During his career the Yale-educated Martinus helmed episodes of A Little Princess, Z Cars, Blakes 7, Penmarric, and Spearhead and also directed the 1968 version of Henry James’ What Maisie Knew and the miniseries The Black Tulip. Derek Martinus had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, in his last years. He was 82 years old. Kate O’Mara was best known for her role in the 1980s U.S. soap opera Dynasty, playing Alexis Colby’s scheming sister Cassandra “Caress” Morrell. But she did plenty of other work that made her equally well known in the U.K. Beginning her TV career in the late 50’s, she accumulated an impressive assortment of appearances, including the documentary, Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond (as Ms. Monneypenny’s assistant,) The Saint, The Avengers, Z-Cars, The Horror of Frankenstein, The Persuaders, The Vampire Lovers, the BBC series Howards’ Way, and The New Adventures of Robin Hood. In 1985 she joined the Dr. Who universe, playing “The Rani,” in the serial Time and The Rani. O’Mara passed away in a nursing home in southern England following a brief illness. She was 74 years old. … LEGENDARY SCREENWRITER, LORENZO SEMPLE JR. was born in 1923. As a young man, he had initially enrolled in Yale, but he soon left for France in 1941 to drive an ambulance for the Free French Forces. Somewhere in the middle of that experience, he earned a “Croix de Guerre” after surviving a battle in the Libyan desert. And upon returning to the U.S., he was promptly drafted into the Army and given a Bronze Star. Once out of the service, Semple took some writing classes at Columbia with the goal of becoming a playwright, and he penned several plays, some of which made it to the stage. He also began writing short fiction for The Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s Weekly. But the profession of writing teleplays and screenplays would secure his posterity. And he really made a name for himself. Right off the Bat ! Pun intended. Starting with the 60’s Batman TV series, Semple worked in TV for many years, retooling pilots and doing quick rewrites for any number of shows. Almost all of which went uncredited. But the gig payed well. And he followed with writing or co-writing several notable films, such as: Papillon, Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, The Drowning Pool, King Kong (1976,) Never Say Never Again, Flash Gordon, and Sheena. And those are only the ones we know about. In 2008, he was hailed by the Writers Guild of America as a Living Legend. He died of natural causes one day after his 91st birthday. Holy sadness, Batman …
AND VERY SADLY, HAROLD RAMIS has died at the age of 69. The writer/producer/director was a native of Chicago, IL., who graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, before landing a gig as a joke editor for “Playboy.” From there he moved into radio, as a writer for The National Lampoon Radio Hour, alongside Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Gilda Radner. It wasn’t long before this talented group showed up at Chicago’s famed Second City. From there, some moved on to Saturday Night Live, while others moved on to it’s rival, SCTV. Soon, Ramis himself was hired to pen the screenplay for what would become the first and still best Lampoon of frat house college hijinks, Animal House. Soon after, he typed up Meatballs for friend and director Ivan Reitman, and soon after, Ramis was working with Reitman as a writer and voice actor on the animated film, Heavy Metal. Meanwhile, Ramis had been angling for the director’s chair for some time, and was now getting his chance, with Caddyshack. The film, which he co-wrote, was initially panned by critics and considered somewhat of a box-office failure, but later exploded in popularity once it began airing on “HBO.” But after Caddyshack’s initial failure, Ramis found himself in front of the camera. Working again with friend Ivan Reitman. The Army comedy Stripes, was originally designed as a vehicle for Cheech and Chong. But the comedic duo turned Reitman down. According to Reitman, studios were never really excited about casting them in the film, anyway. When Reitman brought up Bill Murray’s name, he got a warmer response. Casting Harold Ramis alongside Murray, however, proved to be difficult. Until it was proven that a replacement the studio would approve of, could not be found. Voila ! Stripes was a huge hit. In part due to Ramis’s on-set re-writes, working in tandem with Bill Murray’s improvisational methods. Sometime later, came the John Hughes scripted National Lampoon’s Vacation. A script which Ramis himself re-wrote extensively to give the film a much more comic tone. Gone was much of the Hughes material that developed the family dynamic, and as a direct result, the film was an even bigger hit than Stripes. And this time, Ramis was directing. Recovering nicely from his initial failure with Caddyshack, Ramis was asked to play the character of Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters. The script had been originally written with John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and John Candy, in mind. But when Belushi unexpectedly died of a drug overdose, the juggling act began. Murray replaced Belushi, and while several actors were considered for Egon Spengler, director Ivan Reitman and actor Bill Murray heavily campaigned for Harold Ramis. An additional role was written for Eddie Murphy, but when Murphy backed out, he was replaced by a very likable actor named Ernie Hudson. Hudson, who had already amassed quite an impressive resume, had his career noticeably boosted by the monster success of Ghostbusters. His more notable genre appearances included: Leviathan, Congo, and The Crow, and of course, Ghostbusters II. A few years later, Ramis wrote Back to School for comedian Rodney Dangerfield, and thereafter, spent several months in the Caribbean with Robin Williams and Peter O’Tool, filming the island comedy, Club Paradise. But Club Paradise was a riddled with production problems, due mainly to studio politics, and Ramis had a very quiet nervous breakdown, before turning to Buddhism. From this point in his life, Ramis was known to carry a sheet of paper with him, and on it was written, “The 5-Minute Buddhist.” Friends of Harold Ramis have recently commented that this simple piece of paper, gave Ramis the inner peace he clearly needed following the debacle of Club Paradise. Ramis would eventually offer comment on his later work, and the generalized difference between his more recent output, and his earlier days. Said Ramis: “The content’s different, but it comes from the same place in me, which is to try to point people at some reality or truth.” Eventually, he came back to work, reprising his role as Egon Spengler in Ghostbusters II. And while the sequel was nowhere close to the merit of the original, it nonetheless made money for all involved. (Please see the unfortunate news regarding the now defunct Ghostbusters III, above) A couple of years later, Ramis worked with Murray again, directing him in a film loosely based upon the famous student short, 12:01 PM. Both the short, and a later TV remake, both centered on a man being forced by the Universe to repeate the same day over and over again, until he gets it right. But whereas the original source material of 12:01 PM was darker in tone, the Bill Murray vehicle was retooled as a comedy, and titled, Groundhog Day. In the later 1990’s, Ramis would direct the comedy Multiplicity, with Michael Keaton. Moving into a new Millennium, Ramis would direct several episodes of The Office, and make cameos in a slew of high concept comedy films. Among them, Knocked Up. Harold Ramis died from complications of autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis — a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, that began affecting him in May of 2010. It was so bad, that Ramis had to relearn to walk, before suffering a relapse, which he only partially recovered from. Actor/Comedian Chevy Chase had this to say: “I’m shocked and heartbroken to hear of Harold’s passing. He was truly a great friend and a great man who shunned unnecessary Hollywood-type publicity and lived with a wonderful wife, Erica. I’m deeply saddened for Erica, Violet, Julian and Daniel. Harold directed me in Caddyshack and the first Vacation. It was Harold who acted out and gave me the inspiration for the character of Clark Griswold. I was really copying Harold’s impression of Clark. He was a truly funny and highly intelligent man with great honesty and a great appreciation for the best kind of comedy. It’s just awful to lose Harold, there is just no one like him, he was so kind, so caring and so smart. God Bless him and God Bless his family.” And director Ivan Reitman followed with: “The world has lost a wonderful, truly original, comedy voice with the passing of Harold Ramis. He possessed the most agile mind I’ve ever witnessed. He always had the clearest sense of what was funny and how to create something in a new clever way. He was very generous about making everyone around him look better and smarter. Harold had an extraordinary impact on my career and I loved him like a brother. My heart goes out to his children, and his lovely wife, Erica. He will be profoundly missed.”
A public memorial will be held in Chicago, IL this May.
STAR WARS FANS ARE NOW THOROUGHLY CONFUSED. Carrie Fisher recently confirmed that she and Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford have all three signed to film Star Wars: Episode VII, and that they have been instructed to report to work in the United Kingdom sometime between March and April — this would be weeks before the film begins shooting, May 4th. However …. while comments made by Fisher were re-posted on various websites, including TVguide.com, earlier this week, Mark Hamill made a lengthy appearance on Reddit recently, and had this to say, “I’m not being coy, really. When I find something out, I’ll let everybody know. But nothing has been decided yet.” Fisher’s comments were made while doing publicity for a recent appearance on The Big Bang Theory. Here’s what she had to say: “We are expected to report in March or April for principal shooting. I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be fun to work with J.J. Abrams. I’ve never met him before. I’d like to wear my old cinnamon bun hairstyle again for this one, but with white hair. I think that would be pretty darn funny.” No “official” confirmation has come as of yet from either Disney or Lucasfilm, but according to Abrams, himself, casting announcements will be made, “Soon. And I look forward to that so that we can get past it, and we can get on with it.” Perhaps Carrie Fisher is unaware that she is the only member of the original cast to have signed on at this point? Or perhaps she’s just confused about where her representatives are at in the negotiation process … IN OTHER STAR WARS NEWS, Michael Fassbender and Hugo Weaving are apparently in contention for roles in the production. And possibly Judy (Casino Royale) Dench as the older Mon Mothma. That’s another rumor out there. However, it has been confirmed by director Abrams that Jesse (Breaking Bad) Plemons, who has read for a lead role and is currently in negotiation to be cast in the film. The script has reportedly been completed, and accepted by Disney … DARK HORSE COMICS have lost their license on everything Star Wars. As of 2015, Star Wars will return to Marvel Comics, the company that initially held the rights starting in 1977, and continued to publish Star Wars until 1990. After Marvel cancelled the book, Dark Horse picked up the rights, starting in 1991, and has been publishing numerous spin-off titles, since then. Many saw this coming, due to the Disney Studio’s acquisition of both Marvel and Lucasfilm … SPEAKING OF DISNEY, STUDIO CHAIRMAN ALAN HORN was recently asked about a potential fifth Indiana Jones film, recently. He merely commented, “we need a story,” and added that production of that potential film won’t begin for 2 to 3 years. They wait any longer, and they’ll have to make a movie about Indy in a rocking chairAND NOW WITHOUT FURTHER ADIEU, ACTOR PETER CAPALDI as the 12th Doctor!
IN MARVEL NEWS: JOHNNY DEPP is looking at playing the iconic perennial 70’s comic book favorite, Dr. Strange, for Disney. He’s already under contract with Disney to make a certain number of films, and that contract was originally intended to include a sequel to Lone Ranger, which clearly won’t be happening. So Disney and Depp believe Dr. Strange would be a wise choice. They just have to sort out the particulars. The character of Dr. Stephen Strange is that of a self involved surgeon who after having the nerve endings of his hands severed in a car accident, travels to the Himalayas to seek help from an ancient mystic. After passing a test of character, the ancient mystic, revealed to be a sorcerer, grants Dr. Stephen Strange limitless power as a sorcerer himself, and Strange is tasked with protecting Earth from evil magicians, mystics, creatures, etc. from other realms … MICHAEL DOUGLAS has been cast as the original Ant-Man, Henry Pym, in Edgar (The World’s End) Wright’s forthcoming Ant-Man. Douglas had this to say: “I’ve been dying to do a Marvel picture for so long. The script is really fun, the director is really good. Dylan (the actor’s young son) will love it. He’ll have a picture he can see.” Actor Paul (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues) Rudd will play a thief named Scott Lang, who comes into possession of the original Ant-Man’s equipment and suit, which allows the wearer to shrink to the size of an ant, and ironically, additionally grants the wearer massive physical strength. Reportedly, Rudd’s character initially uses this technology for petty crime, before being turned around by the original Ant-Man … BRYAN SINGER recently commented on his plans for X-Men: Apocalypse, the film which will follow his soon to be released, X-Men: Days of Future Past. Said Singer: “[I’m] co-writing the story and I’m producing it. I’m negotiating to direct. We’re in the process. We’re trying to figure it out, schedules. My desire would be to direct it.” Singer added, “[Apocalypse] will also address historical mutant-cy, meaning the deep past, mutant origins and things like that. It’s something that’s always intrigued me when we think about our Gods and our history and miracles and powers.” The film, currently being written by Mike Dougherty and Dan Harris, the writers of X-2: X-Men United, is targeted for a May 27, 2016 release date … NOW WE GET TO THE CONFUSION OVER SINGER’S comments concerning actress Anna Paquin being cut from X-Men: Days of Future Past. Initially, Singer had made this ‘official’ statement concerning a specific sequence that Paquin’s character appeared in: “Through the editing process, the sequence became extraneous. It’s a really good sequence and it will probably end up on the DVD so people can see it. But like many things in the editing process, it was an embarrassment of riches and it was just one of the things that had to go. Unfortunately, it was the one and only sequence Anna Paquin was in, the Rogue character was in. Even though she’s in the materials and part of the process of making the film, she won’t appear in it.” However … after much consternation among fans, and after actress Paquin’s appearance in the initial trailer as her character, as well as being featured on the cover of Empire Magazine, also in character — Singer added this: “[That sequence being cut] does not mean that we won’t see her in the film.” … IN BETTER NEWS, VIN DIESEL has been officially announced as the voice of ‘Groot,’ the tree-like alien in Guardians of the Galaxy … AND SPEAKING OF VIN DIESEL, he recently took to Facebook to announce that because home video sales of Riddick are so good, Universal has opted to allow development to proceed for another “Riddick” film … AND IN DC NEWS, Batman Vs. Superman has been delayed for almost an entire year. Speculation has pointed at a common injury inflicted during training to actor Ben Affleck, but Warner Bros. have stated that there are additional reasons why the film’s release date has been postponed. One of which involves the addition of Wonder Woman, and a sequence that involves traveling to the civilization that sent her here. A sort of Atlantis-like netherworld, populated entirely by women. Another involves a decision coming soon on whether or not Batman Vs. Superman and Justice League will be shot back to back, with a cliffhanger at the end of one that leads right into the other … ALSO OF RELEVANCE, CHRIS (ARGO) TERRIO is now writing Batman Vs. Superman for Warner Bros. and Zak Snyder … AND BY THE WAY, you can forget those potential revelations floating around out there about actor Joaquin Phoenix playing Lex Luthor. Instead, actor Jesse (The Social Network, Zombieland, Now You See Me) Eisenberg has been tapped to play a younger version of Luthor. Yes, the guy who played the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, will play the most dangerous man in the DC Universe. Chew on that. And noted thespian, Jeremy Irons has also signed on to fill the role of Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. The movie is now set to open on May 6, 2016 … HERE IS A NEW 90 SECOND TRAILER FOR MALEFICENT, starring Angelina Jolie as the legendary Disney villain. Awesome, you’re gonna love this:
ACTOR JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT has revealed that he will be involved in the film adaptation of Neil Gaimain’s “Sandman” comic series. There is no confirmation yet on whether he will play the character or direct the film. Gordon-Levitt recently directed his first film, and received very strong critical praise. Gordon-Levitt has this to say: “Well, I love just the basic concept of it – just the concept of personifying Dream, along with all of his brothers and sisters, the seven Endless personifying Death, personifying Destruction and Delirium and Destiny and Desire and Despair. I mean, that’s just a fascinating and, I think, a really cinematic concept. You look at the art of Sandman, and it just looks spectacular. I love big, spectacular movies, but oftentimes big, spectacular movies sort of get stuck in a rut. They go down certain paths that end in big explosions or whatever. Sandman has so much opportunity to do something that’s on a grand, grand scale, but really unlike your average big, grand-scale, spectacular movie. I guess that’s the tip of the iceberg.” Neil Gaimain himself has described the unique Sandman stories as, “The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision.” … THE FULL TRAILER for cinematographer Wally Pfister’s directorial debut, Transcendence, recently hit the net. Take a look:
THREE LOUISIANA PRODUCTIONS ARE ON THE SLATE FOR THIS YEAR: Jurassic World has reportedly lost actor Sam Neil as a cast member, and will not be shooting on the island of Kauai, as erroneously reported, but rather in the State of Louisiana, on June 2nd. The current, official cast listing is as follows: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Jake Johnson, Nick Robinson and Irrfan Khan. The movie is scheduled to be released in theaters on June 15th, 2015; Terminator Genesis begins shooting on April 21st, in New Orleans, for a July 1st, 2015 release date. Arnold Schwarzenegger will return, and new arrivals include: Emilia Clarke and Jason Clarke. Alan (Game of Thrones, Thor: The Dark World) Taylor is helming; and Fantastic Four begins shooting in Baton Rouge on March 31st. Josh (Chronicle) Trank will direct the recently completed script by Simon (X-Men: First Class) Kinberg. That film will arrive in theaters on June 19th, 2015 … PETER (GRUDGE MATCH) SEGAL is looking at next helming the live action version of Jonny Quest. A film that has been in development hell since the mid 1980’s. Said Segal: “I would love to make that my next movie,” Segal says. “…We just hired a writer to do another pass. We already have a very good script. Then we go through budgeting hell and trying to get it into shape.” … JAMES CAMERON WILL INDEED shoot Avatar sequels in New Zealand — three of them, back to back … ACTOR BRUCE WILLIS has joined the production of Vice. The future sci-fi film is described as follows: “[the film] takes place in a future world where the wealthy have the option of visiting a futuristic resort where even the darkest of fantasies can be lived out thanks to a robot staff that is reset every night. One of the robots, thanks to an error, winds up with every memory of her entire experience at the facility, leading her to seek revenge against the resort’s owner (Willis).” … DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES director Matt Reeves, recently announced that he has signed to helm the third, currently untitled, Planet of the Apes reboot film. Meanwhile, the trailer for his initial film in the current series, following up on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, has been released upon the internet, like an angry monkey lookin’ to do some real damage in a china shop. Behold:
… THE TEASER FOR CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S INTERSTELLAR hit the net several weeks back. In the film, humanity has to find another planet where they can grow corn. No kidding. Take a look:
20’TH CENTURY FOX are planning a big budget thriller based upon Daniel Suarez’s soon to be published sci-fi thriller, Influx. The modern day plot concerns the wealthiest among us hiding many technological breakthroughs from the rest of us, and granting them only to themselves. And this has been going on for many decades. Then one day, a particle physicist discovers this conspiracy when he makes an amazing discovery, only to be told by a bizarre organization known as the Bureau of Technological Control, that only the very wealthy will have knowledge of, and be permitted to benefit from it. When he refuses to cooperate, the physicist is thrown into a prison where the rest of the world’s geniuses have been hidden. And with so many powerful intellects, all confined within the same walls — all with the single-minded determination to put a kink in the plans of the wealthy — you know they’re gonna figure something out … ALSO ON THE FOX SLATE: D.J. (EAGLE EYE) CARUSO will direct Selling Time, a story about a man who trades seven years of his life expectancy for the chance to relive a single day, the worst day of his life, over again. Will Smith may star, Davis Entertainment is producing … TERRY (BRAZIL) GILLIAM’S FILM, ZERO THEOREM has a new trailer:
JOE (CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER) JOHNSTON will helm the sci-fi film Extension, a story reportedly about a man trying to protect his family during an alien invasion. (Shades of Spielberg’s War of the Worlds.) No studio was attached as of this writing … AND NOTED SPEC FICTION WRITER TED CHIANG’S SHORT STORY, “Story of Your Life,” will soon be made into a feature film. Scripted by the writer of the reboot of John Carpenter’s The Thing, Eric Heisserer, Story of Your Life is about a linguist, who after aliens arrive, has to decipher their language and figure out their intentions — ala that classic episode of The Twilight Zone, “To Serve Man,” itself written by Richard Matheson. Denis (Prisoners) Villeneuve will direct … BAD NEWS TIME, READ NO FURTHER IF YOU HAVE A WEAK HEART. The Professor, that enigmatic bastion of all-knowing Radio Shack related knowledge from the popular sitcom, Gilligan’s Island, has left us. Among Johnson’s more notable genre work: The Invaders (1967,) The Outer Limits (1964,) The Twilight Zone (1961,) Thriller (1961,) Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1957,) This Island Earth (1955,) It Came From Outer Space (1953,) The Adventures of Superman (1953,) Wonder Woman (1978,) Beyond Westworld (1980,) ALF (1987,) and he even narrated an anime called Robotech II: The Sentinels. Russell Johnson, alias Professor Roy Hinkley, died of kidney failure in Bainbridge Island, Washington earlier this month. Although Johnson himself was not an orphan, he graduated from a school for orphans, Girard College in Philadelphia, before joining the Army during WWII. As a Second Lieutenant, he flew 44 combat missions as a bombardier pilot in a B25. He earned a purple heart after one of those missions had to ditch following a raid on Japanese forces, and Johnson broke his ankles during the ‘landing.’ He was additionally awarded the Air Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one service star, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was then honorably discharged and joined the Army Reserve to utilize the GI Bill and attend the ‘Actors Lab’ in Hollywood. Within no time, Johnson had a lucrative career in both film and television. However, Johnson never made a specific, notable appearance in genre television he actually craved. As he once said to “Starlog” magazine in the early 80’s (the very magazine this blog pays homage to,) he had wanted to appear in the original Star Trek during its run on NBC. Sadly, he was never cast. Johnson’s son ran the AIDS program in Los Angeles until his death from the disease, and Russell himself was consequently an avid supporter for finding a cure. Russell Johnson was 89 years old. Say hello to the Skippy and Gilligan, Professor. AND THE MAN TO FOREVER BE IDENTIFIED WITH EMBODYING THE CHARACTER OF T.E. LAWRENCE, MR. PETER O’TOOLE … has died. O’Toole was born in England in 1932, worked as a journalist and photographer, and later a signaler for the Royal Navy, before attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and thereafter working in the theater. O’Toole believed stringently that the difference between actors today and yesterday can be summed up very simply, “theater, theater, theater.” He was an ardent and outspoken opponent to both the British involvement in the Korean War in the 1950’s, as well as the Vietnam War in the 1960’s. O’Toole almost died of stomach cancer in the 1970’s but survived after part of his stomach and pancreas were removed. Then he suffered another setback with a diagnosis of a developing diabetic condition, and a blood disorder. But O’Toole persevered. O’Toole lived to reach the age of 81, dying this past December of a long illness in a hospital in London. Among the numerous — and I do mean numerous — awards he was nominated for and/or won, O’Toole received the Academy Award nomination a record 8 times — but never won the award until 2003, when the Academy bestowed him with an honorary Oscar. Among his more notable genre performances: Supergirl (1984,) Creator — a film once thought to be science fiction (1985,) The Ray Bradbury Theater (1986,) High Spirits (1988,) Phantoms (1998,) Anton Ego in Pixar’s Ratatouille (2007,) and Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (2007.) The Captain has turned off the ‘no smoking’ sign Peter, you may light up, move freely about the cabin, and loiter and raise hell with intent. Just know, you are missed down here. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, ARTHUR RANKIN JR. has passed on. Rankin reportedly started out as a theater usher at the age of nine. Years later, in the late 40’s, Rankin found himself at ABC Television, working as an art director, painting sets and doing on-air graphic design. Then, in the early 60’s, Rankin and a man named Jules Bass founded a company called Videocraft International. Eventually known as Rankin-Bass Productions, this company would go on to produce, and often direct stop-motion classics such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964,) Santa Clause is Coming to Town (1970,) The Year Without a Santa Clause (1974,) Mad Monster Party (1967). Many of which are said to be primary influences on director Tim Burton. And there were also animated classics such as a Saturday morning cartoon based upon and featuring, The Jackson 5ive (1971). The television special, Frosty the Snowman (1969,) theatrical films based upon the work of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit (1977,) and The Return of the King (1980.) And also the cult cable classic, The Last Unicorn (1982,) and the immensely popular syndicated animated show, Thundercats (1985). Rankin and Bass also co-produced the live action cult classic, The Bermuda Depths in 1978. A film so weird, is has to be seen to be believed. Rankin himself was also reportedly an uncredited supervising animator on Disney’s The Fox and the Hound (1981,) and The Black Cauldron (1985). Rankin died in Harrington Sound, Bermuda on January 30th. What a wonderful place to be when you go, huh. But the influence he had on many of our generation, along with our children, and their children, and their children, and so on, and so on … will endure for a very looooooong time. As a good example, Deadline.com has reported that Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, and again, this film was MADE IN 1964, “beat ‘The Voice’ and Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ in the 18 to 49 demo when CBS aired it Thanksgiving Eve, just this last year.” Arthur Rankin Jr. — described as someone, “born at the time of silent film, who finished life in 3-D” — was 89 years old.
DIRECTOR BRYAN SINGER has revealed that he will helm the sequel to his forthcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, currently titled X-Men: Apocalypse. The film is rumored to be a direct sequel to both Days of Future Past and X-Men: First Class. Hugh Jackman is said to be bowing out, preferring to partner with James Mangold on another stab at a Wolverine prequel, which will this time use an actual storyline from the comic books as inspiration, as opposed to X-Men: Origins – Wolverine, which focused on an independent story idea, reportedly created by development executives. Complicating the intriguing plot of Days of Future Past is a new video circulating on the net, that implicates Eric Lyncher (a.k.a. Magneto) as the second shooter on the grassy knoll, supposedly responsible for the death of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas in 1963. A very bizarre video recently popped up, which can only be described as thoroughly creepy. Have a look:
… HARRISON FORD HAS STATED that he would enjoy returning for another outing as Indiana Jones, and it appears he “may” get his wish. Please note the stress on “may.” Reportedly, actor Harrison Ford recently reached at least a ‘verbal’ agreement with Disney to appear in multiple Star Wars films. He was shown the story arc for Han Solo, and made an agreement to participate on the basis of that material. Commensurate with the agreement, is Disney’s involvement in pushing a fifth Indiana Jones film into development by calendar year, 2014. This is interesting news seeing as how Disney recently completed the acquisition of the Indiana Jones franchise from Paramount. And while this will allow Paramount to retain rights to the four films: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Disney now owns rights to the Indy character, and any as yet un-produced films. Paramount will retain a financial participation in any new Indy films, but everything else, literally everything else, from merchandising and distribution to home video and everything in-between, now officially belongs to Disney. There are only two key problems. A) the press release mentions ‘reboot,’ and B) all sources agree that contrary to previous reports and scuttlebutt, there is no Indiana Jones film actually in development at this time. Stay tuned, Indy fans. Oh, by the by, Spielberg recently confirmed a second time that ‘nuking the fridge’ in Crystal Skull was his idea. Back in October, he made an appearance at a retrospective screening of Raiders in L.A. and had the following to say: “I know in Indy 4, you didn’t buy the refrigerator and the atomic bomb… I know! I know! But we tried! We tried! I was pushing the envelope! By the way, I take FULL responsibility for that – that was COMPLETELY my idea! Even Harrison said to me: ‘Nobody is going to buy this!'” Last year, when Spielberg initially took credit for the scene, George Lucas responded by saying, “It’s not true. He’s trying to protect me.” … SPEAKING OF MOVIES TO LOOK FORWARD TO, Total Film Magazine has just released their list of the “50 Films To Look Forward To In 2014.” Relevant films in the general areas of science-fiction, sci-fi, or fantasy of some kind, are in bold. Note that when you count them up, there are 31 films dealing with some form of S/F or fantasy, and 19 in other genres. Very interesting. And somewhat lopsided.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (duh!)
3. X-Men: Days of Future Past
4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
6. 12 Years a Slave
7. The Wolf Of Wall Street
8. Captain America: Winter Soldier
9. The Hobbit: There And Back Again
10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
11. Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
12. Fifty Shades Of Grey
13. 22 Jump Street
15. 300: Rise of an Empire
16. Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
17. How To Train Your Dragon 2
18. Muppets Most Wanted
19. How To Catch A Monster
20. Transformers: Age of Extinction
21. The Monuments Men
22. Edge Of Tomorrow (formerly All You Need Is Kill)
23. The LEGO Movie
24. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
25. Labor Day
27. Hercules: The Thracian Wars
28. The Maze Runner
30. Jupiter Ascending
31. The Equalizer
33. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
34. Grudge Match
37. The Book Thief
38. I, Frankenstein
40. Minions (characters from Despicable Me)
42. Out Of The Furnace
44. That Awkward Moment
45. Need For Speed
46. Lone Survivor
47. The Expendables 3
49. Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones
50. Dumb And Dumber To
AND SPEAKING OF GODZILLA! — HEAD’S UP ! Awesome new trailer headed your way:
… HAMMER FILMS is set to remake The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas. The perennial 1957 favorite starred Peter Cushing and Forrest Tucker as two men who stumble onto evidence of the elusive Yeti in the mountains of Nepal. One a scientist, the other, an adventurer. One man believing the creature to be of scientific interest, the other believing the creature to be of monstrous intent. When they eventually discover the creature, they unexpectedly find that they themselves are the monsters. The film is being developed with producer Ben (The Woman in Black) Holden, and the script is being written by Matthew Read and Jon (The Woman in Black: Angel of Death) Croker … IN DEVELOPMENT HELL NEWS, an interesting video made its way to YouTube recently. An apparent animatic for an action sequence, said to be used to pitch a Stretch Armstrong movie to Relativity Media. Based upon the popular blonde, stretchable 1970’s wrestler toy, this reinvention didn’t seem to excite executives very much. Development of the project was cancelled. Have a look:
WARCRAFT is inching from pre-production to principal photography. The film based upon the highly popular video game “World of Warcraft,” has now cast Colin (Total Recall) Farrell, Paula (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) Patton, Travis (Vikings) Fimmel, and Dominic (Captain America: First Avenger) Cooper. The production is scheduled to begin filming in Canada sometime next year, and is set for release in March of 2016. Not exactly a production schedule on a rocket launcher, but hey, we’ll take what we can get, right? … MAD MAX: FURY ROAD has gone back for a few weeks of additional shooting in Australia. Director George (The Road Warrior) Miller has commented that these are not reshoots, but rather involve the bookend scenes that start and finish this film prequel to the original trilogy. He also confirms that original Max actor Mel Gibson will “not” be making a cameo appearance in the new film … THE TITLE OF THE FORTHCOMING TERMINATOR 5, is … drum-roll, please … Terminator: Genesis. And there will also be a TV series that connects to the film. The series follows, “a critical moment from the original 1984 Terminator movie, taking it in a completely different direction than the film.” The film and TV narrative will be separate, but will intersect as the release date of the film approaches. Both are due in 2015 … IN OTHER TV NEWS, MTV AND DIRECTOR JON (IRON MAN) FAVREAU ARE PLANNING a show based on a best-selling series of novels by author Terry Brooks, called Shannara. Brooks began writing the ultimately 25 volume story in 1977, and it has since become the best-selling un-adapted fantasy book series in the world. Taking place millennia after our civilization has vanished, the descendants of the family, Shannara, can harness magic. The first season will actually be based on the second book in the series, “The Elfstones of Shannara.” … DIRECTOR PAUL (THE BOURNE SUPREMACY) GREENGRASS is now looking at helming the reboot of Stephen King’s epic novel, The Stand. This after Scott (Crazy Heart) Cooper who reportedly replaced Ben Affleck dropped out … IN THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN SEQUEL NEWS, actor Andrew Garfield has intimated that he might not be returning after the third film in the current reboot of the franchise. Said Garfield, “I mean I’m under contract for another one after this … as far as a fourth one? That’s not anything to do with me. But yea, I think what we’re doing here is we’ve established the world. And now we get to really play inside that world.” Garfield also commented on how the makers of the second film have expanded that established world. “I think there was something missing in the first one because our focus wasn’t on character as much, we were trying to keep a number of plates spinning in the air — how can we reintroduce the character? How do we not upset this guy or this guy? That was a tough wasteland we had to move through. Now we could say, ‘Who is this guy? How can we best serve Spider-Man?'” The sequel, opening in theaters in May of next year, stars Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Colm Feore, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Chris Cooper, Sarah Gadon, and B.J. Novak … NOVAK, (Ryan on the defunct sitcom, The Office) has revealed that he is playing a character known to comic book fans in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Said Novak, “I’m in a couple of scenes. Yeah, I was never told whether or not I could say. I can say that I work at Oscorp. And I am someone from the comic books, someone from the original. So, yeah, I’m somebody. I wouldn’t say I’m pivotal, but I’m not an extra, either.” This has led some to point out that the name Dr. Otto Octavius, appears in a fake Daily Bugle article. And he’s listed as an employee of Oscorp … AND SPEAKING YET AGAIN OF THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, here’s the second trailer released by Sony:
TWO RELATIVELY UNKNOWN WRITERS, J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay, both of which have no credits listed under their names on imdb — have been hired to write the third Star Trek film under J.J. Abrams’ banner. Robert Orci and Damon Lindelof (two of the writers who worked on Into Darkness) will apparently punch up the work done by the novices. Abrams will still only produce the film, and now word comes that Joe (Attack the Block) Cornish, who was rumored to be Abrams and Paramount’s choice to replace him, has turned them down … SPEAKING OF ABRAMS, the helmer of Star Wars: Episode VII has revealed very little about the film, but has confirmed that R2D2 will feature prominently, along with the Millennium Falcon. Which only further hints to the potential appearances of both C-3PO and Han Solo. (Read above for the reported deal between Disney and actor Harrison Ford) This information has surfaced in spite of sources stating that they see no evidence of more than one of the original actors having already signed on, and that it would not be surprising to those on the inside of this production, if each actor only made a brief appearance in each of the three forthcoming films, and perhaps a cameo in one of the spinoffs the studio now has in development. In other Episode VII news, Abrams and Lawrence (Empire Strikes Back) Kasdan, recently took over script chores from Michael Arndt, and this is said to be due to the increasingly tight shooting schedule. And lastly, it has been hinted that a specific planet or world mentioned several times in Star Wars mythology, but never seen on film, will feature prominently in the storyline of the new film, now scheduled to be released during the 2015 holiday season … AND SPEAKING OF SCREENWRITING, it appears that a new round of producers haven’t quite given up on the Chronicles of Narnia film franchise just yet. Life of Pi screenwriter David Magee has been hired to write The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair. The Mark Gordon Company and the C.S. Lewis Company will produce the fourth film. … RIDLEY SCOTT gave an update on the scripts for sequels to both Prometheus and Blade Runner. Said Scott, “Prometheus 2 is written. I thought I’d left science-fiction for too long, that I had better climb back in. Prometheus was a great experience for me. Chasing number two, we can start evolving the grand idea.” As for the Blade Runner sequel, “Yea, we’re working on that right now — that will happen sooner or later.” Scott’s next two films will be, Exodus, a biblical epic starring Christian Bale as Moses and features Scott’s own interpretation of the parting of the Red Sea. And an adaptation of Joe Haldeman’s classic science-fiction novel, The Forever War. “We’ve finally got a very good draft of that for Fox.” … JURRASIC WORLD has pretty much signed actor Chris (Parks and Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy) to play a part in Colin (Safety Not Guaranteed) Trevorrow’s new sequel. And Trevorrow additionally made a point recently to state that the film is a sequel that takes place 20-some-odd years after the events of the initial film, and is “not a reboot.” Very good to know … THE CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF CABIN IN THE WOODS, will be the showrunner on a new Daredevil TV series that will be available on Netflix in 2015 … THE PRODUCTION OF DIANA GABALDON’S OUTLANDER has released a still of actor Sam Heughan as the titular Jamie Fraser. The cable series, based upon Gabaldon’s novel of the same name, follows a married combat nurse from the Second World War, back in time to Scotland in the 18th Century. Once there, she becomes involved with a local man, and eventually, is torn between her lover in the 1940’s and her lover in the 1700’s. The show, produced by Ron (BSG) Moore, will begin airing in 2014 … SCREENWRITER SIMON (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST) KINBERG has been tasked by Twentieth Century Fox with integrating both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four into a single film — i.e. a crossover. Kinberg, currently heavily involved in writing scripts for both the X-Men franchise, as well as the reboot of Fantastic Four, commented, “I have a lot of ideas on how to built those brands and do what everybody is thinking of these days: Be like Marvel. I want to be able to build stories over multiple movies.” … TIM BURTON has reportedly signed to direct the sequel to Beetlejuice. The current draft of the script, written by Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg is said to be the element that got Burton on-board. Soon after, Beetlejuice himself, Michael Keaton signed on as well. And actress Winona Ryder has more or less confirmed that she will return as well. Said Ryder: “I’m kind of sworn to secrecy but it sounds like it might be happening. It’s 27 years later. And I have to say, I love Lydia Deetz so much. She was such a huge part of me. I would be really interested in what she is doing 27 years later.” … FAST AND FURIOUS ACTRESS Gal Gadot has been cast by Warner Bros., DC Comics, and Zak Snyder as Wonder Woman in Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel, Batman Vs. Superman. Jason (Conan the Barbarian remake) Momoa is signing on, Warner Bros. are tight-lipped on the nature of his character. Speculation has pointed to either Doomsday or Martian Manhunter.. And actor Callan (300: Rise of an Empire, Captain America: Winter Soldier) Mulvey is also rumored to be playing the villain Metallo. Now comes word that none other than both Denzel Washington and Idris (Pacific Rim) Elba may very well take on the role of Lex Luthor. The character would reportedly appear in a cameo in the forthcoming sequel, as well as a fully fleshed out antagonist role in the film Justice League … THE OFFICIAL TRAILER HAS BEEN RELEASED FOR 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE, the sequel to 300 that showcases the origin of Persian god-king Xerxes and his relationship with naval commander Artemisia. See here:
IN GHOSTBUSTERS III NEWS, EMMA STONE has passed on a role in the proposed sequel. No further word on whether or not actor Jonah (21 Jump Street, Moneyball) Hill will sign on, however, sources speaking for Sony Pictures have now stated for the record that the new Ghostbusters film will not be a sequel to the original, but definitely a reboot. This due to Bill Murray’s unwillingness to be involved. Prepare to say so long to that ‘III’ in the title … COMIC BOOK CREATOR AND ARTIST ROB LIEFELD has praised writer/director Jeff (Kick Ass 2) Wadlow’s script for the potential X-Force film. Taking to Twitter, Liefeld commented: “X-Force cast/film will please/appeal to fans of all eras. Wadlow carefully, cleverly navigates the legacy. Every film needs a proper script b4 they can cast&shoot. 1st mission accomplished for X-Force. When the casting begins we can scream together.” … ACTOR CHRISTOPH (INGLORIOUS BASTARDS) WALTZ will more than likely be playing Captain Brand in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The story is said to concern Jack, and his team in a search for a Trident, which Keith Richards’ Captain Teague (Jack’s father) holds valuable information to. The villain, Captain Brand, is a ghost that wants the Trident so he can get revenge on Jack for the death of his brother. Captain Barbosa’s daughter also figures into the plot, as a beautiful astronomer. The film begins shooting next Autumn for a 2016 release date … DOING PRESS FOR MAN OF TAI CHI, actor Keanu Reeves recently commented on the still in gestation, Bill and Ted 3. Said Reeves, “Bill & Ted 3 is waiting for a rewrite from the writers, and we’re still trying to find a way to finance the film. We don’t have a director, we don’t have any money, so we’re trying to get a script. Maybe if we have a script, they will come, I don’t know. It still has to come together. It has to find the right producer and director. I think they’ve created a story that is fun and funny and would be very surreal for me to play, so if everything comes together the right way it could be fun.” … RINGLEADER STUDIOS will produce a TV series based upon Colin Wilson’s 1976 science-fiction horror novel, “The Space Vampires.” You may recognize the story of a group of Astronauts who discover a derelict spaceship and return to Earth with three humanoid aliens that unleash a life-sucking plague upon humanity. In 1985, the novel was adapted by screenwriters Dan (Alien) O’Bannon and Don (Blue Thunder) Jakoby, along with other contributions by two additional writers and director Tobe (Poltergeist) Hooper, into the cult-classic, unintentional laugh fest, Lifeforce. Perhaps this new iteration will be closer in spirit to the source material. But sadly, the author Colin Wilson did not live long enough to see it. In fact, his passing was reported while this post was being written. Please see a brief obit on the author at the end the current post, for a little more background info on this accomplished writer … THE FIRST TRAILER FOR DISNEY’S MALEFICENT went on-line a few weeks back. This live action version of Sleeping Beauty, is sure to intrigue Disney fans:
THE INDEPENDENCE DAY SEQUEL(S) ID Forever I and ID Forever II, has/have been delayed for approximately one year. Fox has pushed back the planned production(s) originally slated for release in 2015. The first of the films, if there are still two being planned, will now bow in theaters on July 1, 2016, which will be the 20th Anniversary of the film. Director Roland Emmerich has been hard at work on the sequel with co-writer Dean (Stargate, Independence Day) Devlin and James (Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man) Vanderbilt. Will Smith is not expected to return … GUILLERMO del TORO RECENTLY MADE FURTHER COMMENT ON HIS DC ENSEMBLE FILM, apparently now titled Justice League Dark. The film, featuring Swamp Thing, The Demon, Constantine, Deadman, and the Spectre, has been in development for many months now, but it appears to be getting no closer to actual production.Said del Toro: “We’re still on it, writing, and hopefully it will happen but there are no developments that are new. It’s still at Warner Bros., they are making plans for the entire DC universe. All the superheroes, all the mythologies, and part of that is Justice League Dark. They’re planning on TV, movies, and all the media, so we have to fit into that plan.” … ACTOR JOSH (JOBS, 1600 PENN) GAD, NOW A CO-WRITER WORKING ON TRIPLETS, the sequel to the 1988 comedy, Twins, made a brief statement regarding the project and his work on the film. Said Gad, “We’re very reverential to the original, but have our tongue firmly in our cheek. As it needs to be, it’s very modernized. It’s taking them into the new world and it’s acknowledging that comedy’s changed a lot in 20 years. If you saw Twins and it was released as a movie currently, you’d be like, ‘This is really strange,’ so we honor that and we respect it, but we also play on it.” The original 1988 film concerned two characters from completely different backgrounds and seemingly genetic material, played by Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who find out that they are actually brothers, i.e. fraternal twins. Discovering this, they set off on a journey to find their parents. Triplets would see them discovering and being paired with a third brother: Eddie Murphy … THE WACHOWSKIS GAVE AN UPDATE ON THEIR SCI-FI OPERA, Jupiter Ascending, back in October. Lana Wachowski had the following to say: “It’s a science-fiction space opera. It has a lot of things from a lot of genres that we love. It’s got a lot of original action, it’s got a lot of romance. We seem not to be very good at making small things. We keep saying ‘Let’s go make a small movie.’ But then they always end up being enormously complex. We want to somehow always find something that is different or that no one has tried. People come up to us and just break into tears talking about (‘Cloud Atlas’), even ‘Speed Racer,’ we get people that come up and say it was their favorite movie of all time. We’ve been very lucky that way. We have great fans. … And we keep trying to keep surprising them.” The film is due in theaters next summer. See the new trailer, here:
AND NOW FOR THE BAD NEWS … AND HOLD ON, THIS IS GONNA BE A BAD ONE. STARTING WITH ACTOR PAUL (TIMELINE) WALKER, who was recently killed in a terrible car accident in California. Walker, born in Glendale, California, was a professional actor from childhood (1985) who accomplished memorable turns on TV and in many notable films, including Clint Eastwood’s Flags of our Fathers, Eight Below, and of course, The Fast and the Furious films. But to S/F fans, he will best be remembered for his roles in Timeline and Pleasantville. An avid car enthusiast and marine biologist, Walker was known for being an interesting mix of both a devout Christian, and an daredevil, who always lived life to the fullest. Reportedly, he was planning a second dive to ‘tag sharks’ the week he was killed. Already missed, he leaves behind a fifteen year old daughter, and an extended on-set family from the Fast and the Furious film franchise. He was only 40 years old … SCIENCE FICTION AUTHOR COLIN WILSON’S passing was announced while this post was being written. Colin Henry Wilson, was a very prolific English writer of true crime, philosophy, mysticism, the paranormal, and by proxy, science-fiction. In 1956, at the age of 24 he got his non-fiction book, “The Outsider” published. A Wikipedia entry about the work, reads, “[The Outsider] examines the role of the social “outsider” in seminal works of various key literary and cultural figures – such as Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Hermann Hesse, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, William James, T. E. Lawrence, Vaslav Nijinsky and Vincent van Gogh – and discusses Wilson’s perception of social alienation in their work. The book became a best-seller and helped popularize existentialism in Britain.” Heavy stuff for the guy who wrote the book Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce was based on. But in fact, the film used very little material from the book; the filmmakers instead choosing to pattern the material as an homage to Hammer science-fiction-horror thrillers. A massive alteration to the material that Wilson was reportedly incensed by. In fact, he regarded Lifeforce as the worst film adaptation of an S/F novel in history. But as stated, Wilson wrote frequently in the various areas of non-fiction, and was known for his ongoing fascination with the Jack the Ripper killings, and sex killings and serial murders in general. This, along with his interest in the metaphysical and the occult, gave Wilson’s fiction writing a certain detail and appeal that meany other authors were lacking. Some of his work in S/F included “The Spider World” books, “The Mind Parasites,” and of course, “The Space Vampires.” Writer Colin Wilson died on December the 5th, in Cornwall, England. He was 82 years old. … NOTED CHARACTER ACTOR ED LAUTER also passed away recently. Lauter graduated from Long Island University in 1961 with a B.A. in Literature, and segued into working as a stand-up comedian. He made his Broadway debut in the original 1968 stage production of The Great White Hope, alongside James Earl Jones and Jane Alexander. From there, he moved into dramatic performance and landed a small role in a 1971 episode of Mannix. Alfred Hitchcock found his performance in Family Plot (1976) interesting enough that he cast Lauter in his next film, The Short Night. But it was not to be, the aging director died before shooting began, and the film was never made. Lauter went on to make appearances in so many television shows and films, that it would be ridiculous to list them here. Among the relevant genre highlights were: Satan’s Triangle (alternately known as The Bermuda Triangle, 1975,) King Kong (1976,) Timerider: The Adventures of Lyle Swann (1982,) Automan (1984,) Real Genius (1985,) The Rocketeer (1991,) Stephen King’s Golden Years (1991,) Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992,) The X-Files (1993,) Highlander (1994,) Millennium (1998,) and Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004.) But Lauter did so much more work in non-genre areas, including roles in episodes of Kojak, The Streets of San Francisco, Nero Wolfe, St. Elsewhere, Magnum P..I., The A-Team, Miami Vice, Murder, She Wrote, The Equalizer, Walker: Texas Ranger, E.R., CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, NYPD Blue, Cold Case, Psyche, The Office, etc. etc. And he did roles in so many films in-between, it’s unreal. For example: Hickey & Boggs, Bad Company, The Longest Yard, French Connection II, Breakheart Pass, The White Buffalo, Magic, Death Hunt, Cujo, Lassiter, Death Wish 3, Raw Deal, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, Gleaming the Cube, Fat Man and Little Boy, Born of the Fourth of July, School Ties, Leaving Las Vegas, Mulholland Falls, Thirteen Days, Seabiscuit, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Seraphim Falls, The Artist. The man had an impressive career, and leaves an astonishing amount of posterity. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in May and kept working until October. In a 2003 interview, Lauter recalled: “Someone once said to me, ‘Eddie, you’re a “turn” actor.’ What’s that? He said, ‘That’s when a story is going along and your character shows up and the story suddenly takes a major turn.’ That’s kind of neat.”
Later, in a 2012 interview, he said, “A lot of people say, ‘I know you,’ but they don’t know my name. But I’ve had a great run.” The actors name was Ed Lauter. He was 74 years old. … AND THE GUY MOST OF A CERTAIN AGE WILL REMEMBER FOR PLAYING THE PSYCHIATRIST ON THE TV VERSION OF M.A.S.H. has also passed on. Allen Arbus, a rather prolific actor in television and films, who started out as a photographer for the Army in the 1940’s, before segueing into advertising, got into acting in 1969 and eventually became well known for appearances on Wonder Woman (1978) and Salvage 1 (1979) and The Amazing Spider-Man (1979.) But as stated, most will remember him as Major Sidney Freedman on M.A.S.H. Most notably for being a good listener, as seen here:
He died of heart failure in April. He was 95. … WE ALSO LOST ACTOR CONRAD BAIN back in January. Alias Mr. Drummond on Different Strokes, Bain was born in Canada and moved here to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in the 1940’s. He had some initial success as a theater actor before being cast on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows, in the role of the town innkeeper, Mr. Wells. That lasted for 2 seasons. Afterward, he kept working steadily in both TV and film. In the early 1960’s, he helped organize the Actors Federal Credit Union. In 1978, he made his own indelible mark on TV viewers everywhere when he created the role of an adopting father on Different Strokes. And his work in movies included roles in films like Coogan’s Bluff (1968,) Bananas (1971,) The Anderson Tapes (1971,) and C.H.O.M.P.S., (1979.) The latter, was a Hanna-Barbera produced live-action movie about a bionic dog, that proved very successful on cable. Mr. Bain passed away of natural causes this year, but in life made a solid impression on many viewers. Rest well, Sir. … LISA ROBIN KELLY, best known to S/F fans as “Terry Roberts” in the X-Files episode, “Syzygy,” accumulated a number of TV appearances in her short life, before being cast as Eric’s Foreman’s malicious sister Laurie on the popular sitcom, That 70’s Show. Unfortunately, she developed alcoholism while on the show and was written out after five seasons. In August, she died in her sleep while staying in a rehab facility in the Los Angeles area. Very sad. Additional Sci-Fi entries on her resume included episodes of Charmed and Poltergeist: The Legacy. Rest in peace. ACTOR LEE THOMPSON YOUNG, known prominently for playing the role of The Famous Jett Jackson on the Disney Channel, has also died. He had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and was taking medication for his condition, when he took his own life in August. He was only 29 years old. In addition to roles in films like Friday Night Lights (based on the original non-fiction book,) Akeelah and the Bee, and The Hills Have Eyes 2, Young also worked regularly in television. Making appearances on shows such as Smallville and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Rest well, and in peace, young man … AND LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST, Filmation co-founder Lou Scheimer has passed away. The Emmy award-winning cartoon guru passed away from Parkinson’s disease in his home in Tarzana, California, in October at the ripe age of 84. Together with his partners, Norm Prescott and Hal Sutherland, Scheimer formed Filmation as an animation company worthy of his talents as producer, composer, and voice actor.
Scheimer was a grad of Carnegie Tech University (now Carnegie-Mellon) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1952. After forming Filmation with Prescott and Sutherland, he helped produce animated fare such as The New Adventures of Superman (1966,) Fantastic Voyage (1968,) Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972,) Star Trek (1973,) The Ghost Busters (live action, unrelated to the 1984 film, 1975,) Shazam! (live action, 1974,)
Ark II (live action, 1976,) Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle (1976,) The New Adventures of Batman (1977,) Space Academy (live action, 1977,) Jason of Star Command (live action, 1978,) Flash Gordon (1979,) The Tarzan/Lone Ranger/Zorro Adventure Hour (1980,)
Blackstar (1981,) Gilligan’s Planet (1982,) Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of All (1982,) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983,) and BraveStarr (1987.) An entire generation of adults who grew up watching both Filmation’s cartoons and live action Saturday morning fare, as children, were just a little happier for it. You did well, Lou. And thank you very much for all your hard work. We appreciated every minute of it.
IN MAN OF STEEL SEQUEL NEWS, the sequel is Superman Vs. Batman. And yes, that is the title. And actor Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame, has reportedly been cast as Superman’s arch nemesis, Lex Luthor. ((As of 09/01, Cranston is currently denying this report.)) Cranston reportedly signed a deal that includes up to 6 appearances as the character, with the intention of him appearing in a variety of films, such as Justice League. Warner Bros. is reportedly waiting until the finale of Breaking Bad airs to make a formal announcement. In other surprising casting news, the role of Batman was recently filled by Warner Bros. Execs. with none other than Ben Affleck. In a prepared statement, Warner Bros. Studios President Greg Silverman said, “We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some.” Director Zak Snyder released the following statement: “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.” And Snyder added, “I can’t wait to work with him.” In any case, as soon as Affleck was cast, the internet EXPLODED with commentary. Most of it negative. The most amusing being petitions to stop Warners from using Affleck in the role. One at Change.org topped 40,000 signatures. And another went up on the White House website, asking President Obama to “denounce the selection of Ben Affleck.” That petition has since been pulled from the site, due to violating the White House web-site’s moderation policy. Very amusing. The film, slated to be released in the Summer of 2015, takes inspiration from the match-up between the two powerful superheroes within the pages of Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns.” How, you might ask, can Batman fight Superman. Well simple, in Miller’s story, Batman has a special suit that increases his strength to the approximate level of Superman. Under those terms, seems like it could make for a good match. David S. Goyer is currently co-writing the story with director Zack Snyder, and production is expected to start sometime next year. All principals from Man of Steel are expected to return. … AND WARNER BROS. HAVE REPLACED BEN AFFLECK as the director of the remake of Stephen King’s The Stand. Scott (Crazy Heart) Cooper will now re-write and direct the post-apocalyptic story. Warner Bros. has teamed up with CBS Films on this project, produced by Roy Lee and Mosaic. … IN JURASSIC PARK SEQUEL NEWS, strange as it may seem given a prior statement by Universal Pictures that the fourth installment of the franchise would be delayed, according to multiple sources, this now doesn’t seem to be the case. Those sources are reporting that Jurassic Park 4, or whatever it will be titled, is now scheduled to begin production next year. Director Colin Trevorrow recently participated in a podcast, wherein he discussed some of the rumors spamming the internet. Said Trevorrow, “I saw some of the rumors on the internet and I would have all kinds of red flags going off if I heard they were going to muzzle a T-Rex. So I would say don’t believe everything you read, there are way more insiders on the internet than there are in real life.” Trevorrow also stated, “It’s important to make a movie for the fans but I also have to remember that there’s a lot of people who just couldn’t care less and need me to make a solid case for why the hell there’s a ‘Jurassic Park 4′ in the first place and I want to make a movie for them too.” … IN OTHER JURASSIC NEWS, the original Jurassic Park, recently re-released in 3D, has made approximately $90 Million around the world. In China alone, the 3D version of the film has taken in almost thirty million dollars. This brings the film’s total lifetime box office gross to just over one billion dollars … ANNNND THE TITLE OF THE NEXT PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN FILM IS … Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. The title will be familiar to those who’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the ride at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Heard here at the 4:16 mark:
It is the first echoing statement heard, and possibly voiced by a ghost, as the boat makes its way into the underground river tunnel. The film has been written by Jeff (Catch Me If You Can, Rush Hour 2, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) Nathanson, and will be directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg. The film is scheduled to begin production in January of 2014 for a July 10, 2015 release. … RESPONDING TO QUESTIONS ABOUT HER FEELINGS ON THE FORTHCOMING BLADE RUNNER SEQUEL, actress Sean Young has stated, “Mmm, let’s see. Alcon – they’re the ones that own it and apparently they have Ridley to direct it — and when I met with them they didn’t make any offer-plans to include me. And when I called Ridley Scott’s office, he doesn’t call me back. So I guess they’re going to go, like, prequel or…I don’t know what they’re going to do. But my official opinion is that, if they don’t include me in it, everybody should boycott it. Because it’s stupid not to have me in it. It’s really stupid. That’s my opinion! I mean, you try to tell people something sensible in Hollywood and sometimes they just don’t listen, you know. And they usually pay the price too, because everybody’s an expert.” … IN STAR WARS NEWS, Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek cinematographer Dan Mindel, will lense Star Wars Episode VII for director J.J. Abram. And although it is good to hear that the movie will in fact be shot on film (Kodak 35mm stock 5219,) and not digital tape, it nonetheless appears that Kathleen Kennedy’s promise that J.J.’s customary lens flares and other photographic effects, will in fact come into play. Mindel’s next film to be released in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, due in theaters next May. And while the new Star Wars film is rumored to have been pushed back to a Christmas of 2015 release date, as opposed to a summer release, it has been revealed that shooting will begin on Tuesday, January 21st, of next year. … HALLELUJAH AND REJOICE, WE GOTS THE WILLIAMS ! John Williams recently confirmed that he has signed to score the next Star Wars film. At the recent Star Wars Celebration Event, Producer and Executive for Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy commented, “I had breakfast with someone very important to the Star Wars family on Friday, and has committed to being involved in the next three films, and that is Mr. John Williams.” Williams discusses further in the interview recently released to the internet below:
IN CASTING NEWS, THE EMPEROR HIMSELF, actor Ian McDiarmid is currently rumored to be returning for a brief role in the film. And though the nature of his role or confirmation of the existence of the role, have not been confirmed, speculation is rampant that McDiarmid will reprise the role of the Emperor in the guise of one of the Emperor’s clones. A scene originally written and storyboarded for Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones, but later excised before shooting. Confirmed by an illustration in the book “The Art of Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.” … A SECOND RUMOR involves actor Ewan McGregor returning to possibly play Obi-Wan Kenobi in ghost form, seeing as how Alec Guiness is not available. The rumor expands upon itself to suggest McGregor will be wearing a partial make-up appliance to help him better resemble Guiness … KATHLEEN KENNEDY RECENTLY ATTENDED STAR WARS CELEBRATION, a convention for all things Star Wars regularly frequented by more than 20,000 people, and she had plenty to say on the progression of the project and the general tools being used to make the film. Said Kennedy, “The story and characters are all we’re talking about right now,” said Kennedy. “We have an amazing team at ILM, who can create fantastic effects, but if we don’t have a great story and characters, the effects mean nothing. I do think making huge popular culture – and I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of a lot of it – is really hard to do and get right. And if you don’t spend the time you need on developing characters, and finding stories, complicated stories, the audience gets tired because they think they’re seeing the same thing again and again.” Kennedy also stated that the new film will in fact involve real locations, as well as special effects. “It’s a conversation we’re having all the time in the development of ‘Episode VII.’ Looking at all the Star Wars movies and getting a feel for what even some of the early films did, combining real locations and special effects – that’s something we’re looking very seriously at. So we’re going to find some very cool locations that we’re going to use in support of ‘Episode VII.’ And I think we’re probably going to end up using every single tool in the toolbox to create the look of these movies.” Kennedy also affirmed Abrams use of model makers, real droids, and things that the actors can touch and feel, and that she is currently dividing her time between Lucasfilm and Abram’s company, Bad Robot, where she’s having story meetings with the director and writing team. Please note she did state writers plural. It now appears that Michael Arnt is no longer writing the script alone. The final bit of news from Star Wars Celebration was that Celebration VII will be held in Anaheim, California, April 16 through the 18th, in 2015. … AND WHILE HE REMAINS MUM ON THE FATE OF HAN SOLO, as far as Harrison Ford is concerned, Indiana Jones ain’t dead yet. The fifth film, originally expected to be fast tracked after the fourth was so financially successful, has lingered in development hell for several years now. Reportedly waiting for George Lucas to find a story.
But Ford isn’t giving up that easy. “We’ve seen the character develop and grow over a period of time and it’s perfectly appropriate and okay for him to come back again with a great movie around him where he doesn’t necessarily have to kick as much ass,” Ford said “To me, what was interesting about the character was that he prevailed, that he had courage, that he had wit, that he had intelligence, that he was frightened and that he still managed to survive. That I can do.” SPEAKING OF HARRISON FORD, although this blog doesn’t normally report on straight action films, without a science fiction or fantasy slant, this is of intriguing interest to fans of actors Harrison Ford and/or Bruce Willis. Actor/director Sylvester Stallone recently tweeted the following in respect to Expendables 3: “WILLIS OUT… HARRISON FORD IN !!!! GREAT NEWS !!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!” Expendables 3 will be directed by Patrick Hughes and will arrive in theaters, August of next year. … IN JAMES BOND NEWS, Daniel Craig has commented on the nature of the next film, mainly it’s similarity to some of the older Connery films. Said Craig, “Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony, and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche. I can’t do shtick, I’m not very good at it. Unless it kind of suddenly makes sense. Does that make sense? I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it.” Skyfall director Sam Mendes has been signed to helm the next film, now being written by John (Gladiator) Logan. The film is scheduled to be released in the U.S. in November of 2015. … THE UPCOMING LEGEND ON CONAN, which plans to sequelize the initial outings starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the company producing the film, Paradox Entertainment’s Fredrik Malmberg, just the tip of the iceberg. And apparently the highly popular cable fantasy show, Game of Thrones, had a big impact on that decision. Said Malmberg, “We have a great story. Everyone loves it. This is a role that’s perfect for [Arnold] and he’s very involved with the whole Universal team. Arnold has been very instrumental to bringing this together saying, ‘We gotta make a good Conan!’ I think if we do this right, we can do two more Conan movies right after. I think Game Of Thrones also shows a huge interest in fantasy. I’m psyched about it.” Malmberg also commented on the new film’s storyline, “The idea is that this takes place “after” Conan has been king. But this is the legend of Conan where he has been gone and people say, ‘do you remember the good ol’ days when Conan was around?’ And now it’s time for him to come back. In the stories — and you can also see it when he’s sitting on the thrown and the narration on that last scene of the movie…’with a troubled brow’ …you can tell he’s not really happy being king. So, it’s time for him to go out and do battle.” Malmberg also expressed the team’s interest in what they can now do with today’s technology that could not be done in the early 80’s, during production of the original film. “With today’s production values, we can probably do a lot more with what they were doing way back then. I mean we have seen what Peter Jackson has done. I think of course this is probably more grounded and less fantastical with less creatures and CG monsters. We want to have some of that fantastical world but we don’t want it to become a complete fantasy because what really set Conan the Barbarian apart from all the other fantasy movies is that this feels like our prehistoric earth. Still, we want to make it full of splendor … It’s on the table and it’s a big studio picture and a big event movie. I wouldn’t rule it out but right now, all we’re concentrating on is the story. It’s a working machine with everyone and marketing people. The president over there at Universal Pictures is Jeffery Kirschenbaum, and he’s one of the top two executive producers and he has a huge position there at Universal and he’s always been a huge Conan fan. ‘I want to make Conan,’ he’s said many times. And it was Universal who launched the first film with Arnold. Now the constellation is aligning.” Malmberg further commented on the creative team involved in bring the film to life. “We’re doing the script and it’s by the whole ‘Fast and the Furious’ team, which is great for a power position of the studio because they’re extremely successful – it was the biggest movie and if anyone knows how to build a franchise, it is that team. It’s Chris Morgan and Jeffery Kirschenbaum, the head of Universal. Arnold is very excited. It’s just in the phase where it takes a lot of work to get the script just right …” … TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HELD A 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY PANEL FOR X-FILES at the San Diego Comic-Con this year. The Pilot episode of the first season premiered this years, that’s right twenty – years – ago. Don’t feel bad, you’re not the only one that snuck up on. In attendance were, of course, series creator Chris Carter, actor David Duchovny, actress Gillian Anderson, and former writer Vince (Breaking Bad) Gilligan. Two questions were the elephants in the room. 1. will there be a new TV series ? Scully herself shot that one down, quickly, by stating that she would not reprise her role for a new series. 2. will there be a third X-Files film ? And the answer …? Duchovny and Anderson both voiced positive interest in making another film. Said Anderson, “A film would be great.” While Carter had the following to say, “You need a reason for going on and getting excited,” he said, then adding that the crowd’s response was, “very inspirational.” Anderson later auctioned off one of those cardboard cutouts of herself and Duchovny as their characters. Whilst doing so, Duchovny deadpanned, “This is how we’re going to get the movie made by the way!” Anderson quickly added, “This is our Kickstarter.” A few weeks later, Carter had this to say when again asked about the possibility of another X-Files film. “I think all of us are interested in putting the band back together. I have an idea for a third movie in my head. The colonization date has passed and that is something we wouldn’t ignore. For the second movie, we only had the budget for a standalone story, but we want to go back to the mythology.” Carter also commented that he wishes to make an addition to the cast. “Gillian [Anderson] worked with Simon Pegg on a movie and told me that he was a big fan. We actually thought about putting him in the second movie, but there was no part for him. I certainly would think about him if we were to go forward in any way.” … SPEAKING OF X-FILES CREATOR CHRIS CARTER, his new show The After will soon be seen on the small screen — or rather the computer screen. Amazon picked up the pilot, a post-apocalyptic drama that takes place the moment after the apocalypse. Carter will write and direct the pilot, which joins several other shows which will stream exclusively on Amazon Prime … IN AVATAR NEWS, James Cameron has hired author Steven Charles Gould (he wrote the book the teleportation sci-fi film, Jumper was based upon) to write four stand-alone novels based upon and expanding Cameron’s Avatar world. Writer/Director Cameron made an official statement, reading in part, “Steven Gould is one of the shining lights in contemporary science fiction, and I’ve long admired the worlds and characters he’s created in his books and stories. We’re very fortunate to have Steven bring his formidable talents to the ‘Avatar’ universe. He is already working closely with me and the screenwriters to flesh out the expanding world of ‘Avatar.‘” Cameron himself is currently co-writing not one, not two, but THREE new Avatar movies, with screenwriters Josh (War of the Worlds) Friedman, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and Shane Salemo (Oliver Stone’s Savages.) And Cameron had this to say on his abrupt turnabout from initially announcing two Avatar sequels, then scaling down to only one film, then scaling back up again to THREE films. Said Cameron: “Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen.” The three sequels are planned to be shot back-to-back, starting sometime next year. The first will be released December of 2016, the second December 2017, and the third December 2018. … AND WHAT ABOUT BATTLE ANGEL? Cameron’s long in gestation adaptation of “Battle Angel Alita.” Well according to Cameron, he plans to begin development on the project in 2017, and says that the themes of trans-human exploration have haunted him for years. So for those waiting for Battle Angel, don’t hold your breath. … DIRECTOR JON M. CHU (G.I. Joe Retaliation) recently commented further on his forthcoming Masters of the Universe movie for Mattel and Sony. “I think that what helps us is knowing what we do in ‘Joe’ (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and knowing that ‘Masters’ has to be very different and has to feel very different, but the script for ‘Masters of the Universe’ is what really hooked me,” said Chu, “I love ‘Masters of the Universe,’ but I didn’t know necessarily how to make it into a movie until I read the script and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I totally see it. I get how this is going to shake it up, I get how this is different from any other thing,’ and it got me really really excited. We’re still working on that one and ‘Joe’ has momentum right now. The audience has been great and they want another one, so we’re rushing to get that done and Dwayne has a certain time period so it may end up that ‘Joe’ goes first in all those things and I don’t know if ‘Masters of the Universe’ will wait for me or where that’s going to end up. But right now it’s been great. We’ve been designing a ton of stuff for ‘Masters of the Universe’ as a really beautiful, grounded, honest world – that’s the best way I can describe it. It’s everything you want ‘Masters of the Universe’ to be in terms of the fantasy but not in a way theatrical crazy way. It is actually a gorgeous world that we’re doing in the initial visual concepts that we’ve been making.” … IN MARVEL NEWS, actor Bradley (The Hangover, Silver Linings Playbook) Cooper has been hired to voice Rocket Racoon for Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. And actor Vin Diesel has been recruited to voice the character of Groot. Shooting on the film has been well underway for a couple of months now, and the big budget science fiction comic book spectacular is scheduled for release on August 1st of next year. Composer Tyler Bates (Watchmen, 300) has been hired to score the film, written and directed by James (Slither, Super) Gunn. … MARVEL’S CREATIVE CONSULTANT, and comic book writer, and general guru, Mark Millar, recently made an interesting statement regarding the possibility of a future X-Men film featuring The Fantastic Four. Said Millar, “Without question I think you have to see some of these guys showing up in each others movies. I think the most exciting thing in superhero movies, until The Avengers came along, was when Nick Fury showed up in Iron Man. Even though it was a guy with an eye patch it was really cool – and I expect we will see more of that.” X-Men: Days of Future Past unveils its wonders May of next year, and the Fantastic Four reboot is currently targeted for release in March of 2015. … WRITER/DIRECTOR JOSS WHEDON has been talking a lot about Avengers: Age of Ultron lately. Regarding the film’s tone, he had the following to say, “It’s a little bit darker than the other film, because Ultron is in the house there’s a science fiction element that I think is a little bit stronger than the other film. Getting the team together was so rousing, but seriously, keeping the team together is a completely different problem.” The film’s writer/director also added, “It’s very much a global Avengers film, a lot of the movie has to do with their place not only in America but in the world.” Whedon has also commented on Black Widow, and how she fits into the ensemble of the Avengers sequel. Said Whedon, “Natasha (Black Widow) is a huge part of the sequel because you do want to concentrate on the people who don’t have their own franchises. Although she is in ‘Cap 2,’ [and] she’s great. She was the most fun for me because she’s not a hero, you know, and it’s something that I read—and I feel bad that I can’t remember who wrote the book—but it’s in one of the books explaining, ‘These guys are heroes, you are a spy. It’s a different thing—it’s a different skill set—and you don’t have their moral high ground or any of that good stuff.’ And that just makes her so interesting to me. So yeah, the stuff I’ve got going on with her in the second one is killer.” Black Widow can next be seen in the upcoming Captain America: Winter Soldier, due April 4, 2014. Regarding Scarlett Witch (rumored to be played by Elizabeth Olsen,) Whedon had this to say about making the character’s awkward costume work on screen: “She might wear a headband or something that might echo it. The guys at Marvel, the conceptual artists, are phenomenal, and they are so good at taking the essence of what works and interpreting it for the actual human body, and when they paint something you can not only tell how it’s gonna work on a person, you can even tell what fabric it’ll be. They are very specific, very talented. So I’m excited to see the designs. Obviously we want to echo the look that people know, but there’s the classic look and the Ultimates look, but you have to do it in a way that will work. But it can’t be too old school… she can’t wear a leotard.” And regarding Agent Phil Coulson, who died in the The Avengers, and yet lives on in a new TV Series soon to be seen on ABC, Whedon had this to say: “He could (return). Right now it’s not something I’m pursuing because I have so much going on in ‘Avengers 2.’ Finding out that Coulson is alive would be an entire B story. And I already have too much movie. That’s better than the other thing.” In the end, Whedon left the return of Coulson up to Marvel Studios and their new show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Where Coulson’s return will undoubtedly be explained on ABC, Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m. And according to Whedon, Avengers: Age of Ultron begins shooting, “End of February, beginning of March. We’ll be shooting in London, London will be the base for Avengers 2.” The film is scheduled to open in theaters, May 1st, 2015. … CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER CO-DIRECTOR JOE RUSSO spoke about how the new film fits into Marvel’s Phase 2, and leads right into Avengers: Age of Ultron. “There’s a very strong connection in the narrative between the events of the end of “Avengers” that drive this film — and there’s a very strong hand off to “Avengers 2″ at the end of this movie. And Kevin Feige’s whole thing is that this is the biggest bridge of all of Phase 2 movies; it really is. It does involve the most amount of Avengers of any of the films in Phase 2, and it has sort of a, you know, there’s a very big shift in the universe at the end of this movie.” Co-directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Captain America: Winter Soldier arrives on April 4th of next year. … AND SAMUEL L. JACKSON spoke recently about Nick Fury’s place in the new Captain America film. “You see Nick Fury the office guy, him going about the day-to-day work of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the politics as opposed to that other stuff. It’s great to have him dealing with Captain America in terms of being able to speak to him soldier to soldier and try to explain to him how the world has changed in another way while he was frozen in time. Some of the people who used to be our enemies are now our allies — him trying to figure out, “Well, how do we trust those guys?” or “How do we trus the guys that you didn’t trust who don’t trust you? And explaining to him that the black and white of good guys/bad guys has now turned into this gray area. Nick lies to him all the time, too. But he’s trying to help him navigate the waters of the new sharks that he doesn’t know anything about.” Jackson also commented on Robert Redford’s character in the sequel. “He’s part of that World Security Council I was talking to in (The Avengers), just he wasn’t there. We also know each other because we’ve been comrades for a very long time. There’s some stuff that’s said that gives you an idea of how he’s been part of that environment for a long time and the kind of guy he was.” … BRYAN SINGER sought to clear the air on where his upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past really fits within the timeline established by previous films. Said Singer, “It takes place about ten years, give or take, after X-Men 3; and in the past it takes place about ten years after First Class. I’d say it’s not a sequel to one of the others. It’s an inbetwequel — that’s what I call it, for lack of a better word.” Singer added that the film, “…takes place in the future and the past and then all over the world, from Russia to China, then France, and Washington, New York. It’s got scope, but most of the scope is in the breadth of the story.” The film opens May 23, next summer. By the way, Singer also tweeted an image of Trask Industries initial Sentinel design. Which in the comics gets bigger in iterations over the years, until the massive 50 foot versions are sent back through time to wreak havoc. Whether or not that aspect of the Sentinels, that larger version of the robots that comic fans have been familiar with since the 1960’s, will factor into Singer’s film is still unknown. However, here is the Sentinel as Bryan Singer sees it. In all its majesty.
AND SPEAKING OF MARVEL, Stan Lee will soon be appearing on his own Mars Attacks! card, courtesy of The Topps Company and Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo. Only available at Comikaze in Los Angeles, the card, painted by Joe Jusko and titled, “Stan Strikes!” will be given out free on a first come, first serve basis. They are limited to 2,500 and I’m sure they’ll go fast, so get there early. Topps will actually be on hand to promote “Mars Attacks: Invasion.” A revival of the classic card series, featuring an all-new story, based on the original card series. The new set will be on sale at the Topps booth, along with a limited edition print of Joe Jusko’s Stan Lee card. As Stan would say, “Get ‘em while the gettin’s good, Marvelites!” For more info on Comikaze in Los Angeles: www.comikazeexpo.com. For additional info on the new Mars Attacks card series: www.facebook.com/MarsAttacks…. WELL GODZILLA IS COMING … AGAIN. And director Garth (Monsters) Edwards had this to say in a recent interview about the film, written by Frank (The Shawshank Redemption, The Myst) Darabount. “Not many people have seen Monsters, but if anyone who did see it and liked it and came to see Godzilla, I hope when they left they’d say, I can tell it’s the same filmmaker. When we did Monsters, I was doing all of the visual FX myself so there was a limit to how many creatures I can show, to the benefit of the film. Godzilla, I don’t have that limitation and will be a lot more epic. But it was really important to me, at the heart of this film, there were characters we cared about. “We tried to find the right story and path through this Godzilla universe where the characters were connected to the events in the movie where it didn’t feel forced and would also get you to the places in the story you wanted to experience. They were tagged on but embedded in the journey of the movie. I’m really pleased with what we came up with. A lot of the actors, I think, got on board because they had an emotional connection with the people which was one of the goals when we set out to do this.” …COMIC BOOK ARTIST ROB LIEFELD’S AVENGELYNE is steadily headed toward a big screen adaptation. And Haywire star Gina Carano has singed on for a series of films based upon the character. The film is being developed into a franchise similar to the Underworld films, featuring Carano as a fallen angel fighting off demons and monsters. Agengelyne made her first appearance in Image Comics in 1995. … AND LIEFELD HAS ONE OTHER PROJECT IN DEVELOPMENT. A little something called X-Force. Oh, yea, you read that right — Cable is coming to the big screen. Jeff (Kick-Ass 2) Wadlow is attached to write and direct the film. Part of the Marvel universe, the militant group was designed as a distant future version of the X-Men in the early 1990’s by Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, and quickly became very popular. The roster included: Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Warpath, and Deadpool, etc. On a recent publicity tour for Kick-Ass 2, director Wadlow had this to say about X-Force: “Tonally it will fit in, quite well with all the other movies… but then I think the other movies cover a wide range of tones. It’s certainly not going to be tonally similar to Kick-Ass…I hope it will have what fans of X-Force will expect. I think it will be a little edgier, I think you’ll see some characters with different takes on what it means to be a mutant. There will be some grey areas that the movies haven’t yet been explored. It won’t be as “overt.” This movie is more about the grey areas in between. I’m going to take some big ideas from the X-universe and flip them, I think in an interesting way.” … JOSEPH (TRON: LEGACY, OBLIVION) KOSINSKI will next helm a feature film based upon Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Leonardo DiCaprio, who controls the rights, will co-produce along with Davisson Killoran, under the banner of their Appian Way production company, based on the Warner Bros. lot. Scott Bloom will executive produce the film. A screenplay by Anthony (Sherlock Holmes) Peckham, has been discarded in favor of re-developing the project from scratch. However, this is after Kosinski finishes work on his remake of Disney’s 1979 sci-fi flick, The Black Hole. And possibly even Tron 3. Kosinsky had this to say on the subject of these projects: “Both projects are being written right now by two really talented writers. Jon (original draft of Prometheus) Spaihts is writing Black Hole and Jesse Wigutow is writing TRON 3. Both scripts are in progress, I’m really excited about both. The fundamental ideas of both are really interesting. The TRON sequel kind of takes where we left off with ‘Legacy,’ that idea presented in the last few minutes of the film and really expands on it in a really exciting way.” Kosinski also stated that The Black Hole is not a remake as they are only using the “fundamental concept,” and then taking the film in their own direction. … YET ANOTHER VERSION OF FRANKENSTEIN is headed your way. That’s right, in addition to all previous versions, notably the classic 1931 Frankenstein, Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein, Roger Corman’s Frankenstein Unbound, Kenneth Branaugh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and even the soon to be released I, Frankenstein, someone has decided to make yet another Frankenstein. James McAvoy is slated to play Victor Frankenstein in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming film. He will join Daniel Radcliffe, who fills the role of Igor. And no, I’m not kidding. Paul (Wicker Park) McGuigan is attached to direct, and the script was written by Max (Chronicle) Landis, as a direct adaptation of Shelley’s 1818 novel. Said Landis, “I began to pick apart our knowledge of ‘Frankenstein’ and discovered that the public’s idea of this myth comes from a million different places … I became committed to recontextualizing it all so it all worked in one story. By the end of the day, it’s a period piece and yes, it’s from Igor’s perspective, but man it’s cool. It’s the best thing I’ve written.” … IN ADDITION TO OBLIVION, AND EDGE OF TOMORROW — formerly known as All You Need Is Kill — Tom Cruise has now joined the production of yet another Sci-Fi film. Yukikaze, based upon Japanese author Chohei Kambayashi’s novel documenting the day-to-day duties of a soldier in a war against an alien race that attempted to invade Earth, is being written by Dan (Wrath of the Titans) Mazeau. Yukikaze was published in serial form, starting in 1979, and tells a story of a hyper-dimensional passageway, that suddenly appeared over the continent of Antarctica, over 30 years ago. Fighters from a mysterious alien force known only as the JAM exited the passage in wave. That wave attempted terrestrial invasion. Humanity united and forced the invaders back through the passageway to a very bizarre planet nicknamed, Fairy. A newly commissioned combat force called FAF is now tasked with traveling through the passageway and eliminating the JAM bases. The battle is ongoing, and Second Lieutenant Rei Fukai carries out missions in the skies above planet Fairy. He’s attacked to a tactical combat and surveillance unit of the Special Air Force, and is tasked with gathering intel. His only companion is his sentient fighter plane, call sign: Yukikaze. A previous anime series also adapted the story. Erwin Stoff and Tom Lassally will produce this American version. … THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN may soon be coming to television in a form closer to the original source material than the 2003 film starring Sean Connery. The one hour drama, based on Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s graphic series will feature the same characters and scenario as the former film, but with more of what made the source material work. Michael Green will serve as Executive Producer and Showrunner for Twentieth Century Fox, with Erwin Stoff also listed as an Executive Producer. Hopes are high that the series can capture some of the spirit of other popular fantasy shows, and eventually generate a fan base large enough to keep the show on the air for multiple seasons. There have been to date, several sequels and companion books to the original “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” graphic novel. All very popular with readers. … UNDERWORLD DIRECTOR LEN WISEMAN has dropped out of Universal’s reboot of The Mummy. Producers Sean Daniels, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci are searching for a replacement director, still hoping to get the film in theaters sometime next year. The script was written by the original writer of Prometheus, Jon Spaihts. The producers are going for a darker scarier take on this project, and have drawn inspiration from the work of Michael Crichton. Interesting mix. … THAT POLTERGEIST REMAKE IS GOING INTO PRODUCTION WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. Actress Rosemarie DeWitt has been cast as the female lead in the MGM/Fox 2000 film directed by Gil (Monster House) Kenan, and written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Lindsay-Abaire. Abaire most recently typed up Oz the Great and Powerful for director Sam Raimi, who is a producer on this project, along with Rob Tapert, Roy Lee, and Nathan Kahane. This revisionist take on the classic horror film, focuses on a family struggling to make ends meet that relocates to an outdated suburban home and is confronted by an angry spirit who kidnaps their youngest daughter and challenges them to band together to rescue her from the clutches of evil. You see what I mean ? Another pointless remake. … IN TV NEWS, THE SYFY CHANNEL (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel) has a television film coming up called High Moon. The movie will take place in a future where the Earth’s countries have each established colonies to mine the Moon’s resources. But chaos erupts when new forms of life are discovered. The script was based on a novel by author John Christopher called, “The Lotus Caves.” ruth about its existence. Production reportedly began on August 26th, in Vancouver, British Columbia. … AND SYFY ARE ALSO WORKING ON A SERIES BASED UPON Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film, 12 Monkeys, which is itself based upon a foreign short titled, La Jetee. Like the film, the television pilot will focus on a time traveler from a post-apocalyptic future who appears in the now on a mission to locate and eradicate the source of a plague that will eventually destroy most of humanity. Production begins this November from a script by Terry Matalas and Travis Fickett (Terra Nova, Nikita). … IN HOME VIDEO NEWS, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and MGM have officially announced that Extended Edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and DVD, November the 5th. The new cut of Peter Jackson’s first film in The Hobbit trilogy, will include 13 minutes of extra footage, and nine hours of new bonus features. There will be a 5-disc 3D set, which will retail for $54.98, a 3-Disc Blu-ray standard set, which will sell for $35.99, and a 5-disc DVD only set, which will go for only a dollar less at $34.99. The Blu-ray sets will include an UltraViolet download option to watch the film on your computer, tablet device, phone, or internet connected TV
AND NOW FOR THE SAD NEWS … Film and TV actress Gail Kobe has died at the age of 82. She starred in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic The Ten Commandments in 1956, before moving into television, appearing in the likes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, Mission Impossible, Tarzan, and The Outer Limits, along with many, many more. Born in 1931 as Gabriella Kieliszewski in Hamtramck, Michigan, Kobe moved to Los Angeles, changed her name, landed a small walk on role in East of Eden, and eventually found herself with a promising career as a Television actress. Then, in the mid 1970’s her journey led her behind the camera, and into a lucrative career producing daytime Television. But her work will live on forever in the form of excellent episodes of both the original Twilight Zone and the original Outer Limits … AND ACTRESS KAREN BLACK has also died. Black was nominated for an Oscar for her work in Five Easy Peaces, but as well as being an actress, she was also a screenwriter, singer and songwriter. Born Karen Blanche Ziegler in a suburb of Chicago, she moved to New York and trained at the Actor’s Studio under Lee Strassberg, before making her debut in Off-Broadway shows, and thereafter, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1966 romantic dramedy, You’re a Big Boy Now. Three years later, she had a role in Easy Rider that led to a role in Five Easy Peaces, and her performance in that film garnered her widespread acclaim, and shot her to stardom. Black went on to star in numerous films, including Airport 1975 (she got to fly the plane,) The Day of the Locust, Alfred Hitchcock’s Family Plot, and Peter Hyam’s Capricorn One. In 1986 she appeared on screen with her son, Hunter Carson, in Tobe Hooper’s remake of Invaders From Mars, and both mother and son reportedly had fond memories of working together. Black died after a two year battle with pancreatic cancer. And even a successful Kickstarter-like crowdsourcing campaign to save her life (which brought in almost $62,000, by the way,) couldn’t save her. But the money did help place her in the Motion Picture and Television Fund facility in Woodland Hills, California, which notably eased her suffering. Actress Juliette Lewis paid tribute, saying “Karen Black was my mentor and a second mother to me. She inspired everyone she came in contact with.” Karen Black was 74 years old.VETERAN TV ACTOR HENRY POLIC has also passed away. Polic had a long career on camera as a game show host, actor, and also doing voiceover work. In addition to appearances on The Bionic Woman, Mork & Mindy, The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, and Sheena, Polic also did a vast amount of work in voice-over for animation. His role as Dr. Jonathan Crane a.k.a. The Scarecrow on Batman: The Animated Series, was one of his last well known roles, along with playing the live action part of Dracula on the 1976 TV series, The Monster Squad. And he did plenty of other work in animation as well, including The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show, The Dukes, The Smurfs, Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, Disney’s Tail Spin, and many more. Polic was also a frequent celebrity auctioneer for the Adam Walsh Foundation, Concern Foundation for Cancer Research, American Diabetes Association and the Leukemia Foundation and taught acting and performance at the Emerson College Los Angeles Center and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was 68 years old. AND VETERAN ACTOR OF NUMEROUS SCI-FI TV ROLES, MICHAEL ANSARA has died. Ansara played Klingon warrior and commander Kang on three separate Star Trek TV series, the Blue Djinn who originally imprisoned Jeannie in her bottle on I Dream of Jeannie, Kane in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and he also provided the voice of Mr. Freeze on Batman: The Animated Series. Born in a village in Syria, Ansara’s parents immigrated to the U.S. when he was two, and lived in Massachusetts until Ansara was 12. After moving to California, Ansara initially chose the profession of physician before getting the acting bug. He studied at the Pasadena Playhouse with Charles Bronson, Carolyn Jones, and Aaron Spelling. And later, after obtaining an Associates of Arts Degree from Los Angeles City College, he got work in the 1950’s on multiple television shows, starting with Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, Bewitched, Land of the Giants, Star Trek, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5, and many more. He appeared as Qarlo Clobregnny in the episode of The Outer Limits, “Soldier.” The episode, featuring two soldiers who appear in 1964 still fighting a battle they were in the midst of one hundred years into the future, would many years later be the partial subject of a lawsuit brought by writer Harlan Ellison against Hemdale films, Orion Pictures, and director James Cameron, for plagiarism, i.e. appropriating material from said episode for Cameron’s film, The Terminator. In between his television appearances, Ansara also had major roles in films such as 1953’s Julius Caesar and The Robe (as Judas); 1961’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; The Comancheros (1961) with John Wayne; The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965); Guns of the Magnificent Seven (1969); The Bears and I (1974); The Message (1977); and It’s Alive (1974). Ansara was so well known, and did so much, he garnered a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Michael Ansara, who was once married to the beautiful Barbara Eden, died July 31 at his home in Calabasas, Calif., after a prolonged bout with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 91 years old. VERY SADLY, FILM DIRECTOR TED POST has also died. Remembered most prominently for his work with Clint Eastwood on the films Hang ‘Em High and Magnum Force, Post worked rather prolifically in both television and film for several decades before retiring. Science Fiction fans will recognize his name for having helmed Beneath the Planet of the Apes, as well as several episodes of the original Twilight Zone, and the Saturday Morning live action Filmation production, Ark II. Born in Brooklyn in 1918, Post first job was as a theater usher at Loew’s Pitkin Theater in 1938. Then he dabbed in training to be an actor, before directing summer theater plays. In 1950 he found himself teaching Acting and Drama at New York’s High School for Performing Arts. And his success there led to Post directing television in the early 1950’s. He started with westerns, helming episodes of Gunsmoke, Rawhide, and Wagon Train, but over time, he branched out into directing everything from Peyton Place to Columbo. And he did enough good work to last a long time in pop culture. n 1996, in his late seventies, Post formed Pro Bono Productions to showcase the talent and expertise of older union and guild members in Hollywood. “Today we’re living in an era where it’s a sin to be old,” said Post. “It wasn’t true years ago. They were looking for people with experience to guide them. But, these days, you’re discarded like Kleenex. It’s a very serious problem.” Ted Post, director, passed away at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California. He was 95.AND THE LENSMAN OF THE ORIGINAL STAR WARS, HAS DIED.
Cinematographer Gilbert Taylor had an amazing career as a director of photography/lighting technician/all around cameraman guru. And he worked on several notable films, Including The Bedford Incident, Dr. Strangelove, A Hard Day’s Night, Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy, Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, The Omen, John Badham’s Dracula, Flash Gordon, Lassiter. And even though “Gil” Taylor was one of the most expensive cameramen in the business, he frequently worked in television on shows like The Avengers. But as George Lucas himself has stated in previous interviews, Taylor and Lucas did not get along. “George avoided all meetings and contact with me from day one, so I read the extra-long script many times and made my own decisions as to how I would shoot the picture. I took it upon myself to experiment with photographing the lightsabers and other things onstage before we moved on to our two weeks of location work in Tunisia.” Once they got to the location in Tunisia, the weather was horrible, and according to Taylor, “You couldn’t really see where the land ended and the sky began, it was all a gray mess, and the robots were just a blur.” Then, when Lucas requested Taylor use a diffusion technique, Gilbert balked. “I thought the look of the film should be absolutely clean; also, I was mindful that there was an enormous amount of process work to be done in America after we finished shooting in England, and I knew a crisp result would help. But George saw it a differently, so we tried using nets and other diffusion. He asked to set up one shot on the robots with a 300mm, and the sand and sky just mushed together. I told him it wouldn’t work, but he said that was the way he wanted to do the entire film, all diffused.” Taylor started out in 1929 as a cameraman’s assistant, and later spent six years during the Second World War as an officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. His job? A cameraman in an Avro Lancanster, shooting the damage caused by night-time raids over Germany. Later, he would become a founding member of the British Society of Cinematographers. Taylor was 99 years old when he died.
“Gil” Taylor, a name that will be remembered well along with Geoffrey Unsworth, Robert Krasker, Oswald Morris, Stanley Cortez, Charles Rosher, Gordon Willis, Freddie Young, James Wong Howe, Gregg Toland, and Jack Cardiff, and that’s just to name a few, off-hand. Yes, the great Gilbert Taylor was and remains a legend in the art of motion picture cinematography. Rest well, Sir, you earned it.