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February 2002

Sherilyn Fenn to play Harley Quinn
Posted Wednesday, February 27, 2002, 7:32PM CST by Franklin Harris
Gotham Clock Tower reports that Sherilyn Fenn ("Twin Peaks") will play Dr. Harleen Quinzel in the pilot episode of The WB's "Birds of Prey" series. Quinzel, of course, is the alter ego of the costumed criminal Harley Quinn, as seen in the most recent animated "Batman" TV series.

Animator Chuck Jones dies at 89
Posted Saturday, February 23, 2002, 7:27AM CST by Franklin Harris
From CNN: Chuck Jones, 89, died Friday at his home of congestive heart failure. Jones made his name as an animator at Warner Bros. during the '30s and '40s, working on such characters as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and creating the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Pepe Le Pew. Over 60 years, he directed or produced more than 300 animated films and shorts and won three Oscars.

T3's female Terminator is cast
Posted Friday, February 22, 2002, 8:56AM CST by Franklin Harris
Kristanna Loken, 22, a Norwegian-born model-turned-actress, has been cast as the female Terminator opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines." IGN Filmforce has posted more information on the actress.

'Extraordinary Gentlemen' casting news
Posted Friday, February 22, 2002, 8:47AM CST by Franklin Harris
IGN Filmforce has news today on the movie version of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," based on the Alan Moore-scripted comic book. First, Filmforce repeats what Variety confirmed on Thursday: Sean Connery of officially on board as H. Rider Haggard's "great white hunter" Allan Quatermain. Plus, Connery has signed to appear in one "League" sequel, should it come about.

Next, Filmforce reports that the script includes additional Extraordinary Gentlemen who did not appear in Moore's comic-book series.

The series, of course, features several Victorian Era literary characters who band together to become the world's first "superhero" group. Those characters are Quatermain, Mina Murray Harker (from "Dracula"), the Invisible Man, Capt. Nemo and Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde.

The script adds two more: Dorian Gray (from Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray") and Tom Sawyer.

According to Filmforce, Dorian Gray is to appear in Moore's next "League" comic series. So, the movie is just getting a jump on Moore. Sawyer, however, is a concession to the studio, which wanted to add an American literary character to the mix.

By the time of the "League," Sawyer is an adult police detective, who acts as an American liaison to the "League." The idea of having Tom Sawyer grow up to be a detective comes from Mark Twain, who wrote a sequel to "Tom Sawyer" called "Tom Sawyer, Detective."

PR: Rhino releases Krofft DVD boxed set
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2002, 7:32PM CST by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE:This best-selling three-volume collection, featuring some of the best
creations from Sid & Marty Krofft, comes to DVD for the first time. The wacky set includes selected episodes from The Bugaloos, H.R. Pufnstuf, Sigmund & The Sea Monsters, Land Of The Lost, Far Out Space Nuts, Lost Saucer, Electra-Woman & Dynagirl, Dr. Shrinker, Wonderbug, and Pryor's Place.

WORLD OF SID & MARTY KROFFT selection #R2 02625, SRP $49.95, 390 min.

PR: Showtime launches 'Jeremiah' with a special effort targeting comic book and sci-fi fans
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2002, 7:28PM CST by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE:To appeal to comic book and sci-fi enthusiasts, Showtime Networks Inc. is launching a cross-media, promotional effort to introduce its newest sci-fi series JEREMIAH, debuting on SHOWTIME in March on "Sci-Fridays."

The promotional campaign will showcase a "Win An Ass Kicking" Sweepstakes, which includes an all expense paid trip to the show's set where one lucky entrant will have the chance to rehearse with a professional stunt coordinator and be filmed in an action-packed choreographed fight scene. In addition to the Grand Prize, 50 runners-up will win a Nintendo GameCube(R) game system valued at $200. To enter the sweepstakes, viewers can return registration forms found in their favorite comic books or log on to http://www.winanasskicking.com/ or SHO.com for more information. Sweepstakes deadline is March 31, 2002.

The advertising and marketing campaign consists of major print media buys in sci-fi, comic book and broad based publications, convention sponsorships, and advertising on national cable and entertainment syndication (this includes many of the MTV Networks, Comedy Central, Sci-Fi Channel and Entertainment Tonight). The campaign will also include network, spot radio and outdoor advertising in major markets including Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Denver and Chicago. The campaign will even feature in-your-face promotional graphics on pizza boxes throughout New York.

The cornerstone of the targeted print advertising campaign includes a center spread and 4 page insert in Wizard Magazine and its sister publication IGM (In-Quest: The Gaming Magazine). Showtime is partnering with Wizard and Platinum Studios to obtain retail presence in more then 4,000 comic book stores and hobby shops across the country. Retailers will receive their JEREMIAH promotional packs, which will include: poster, shelf talker, bag stuffer and T-shirt for store personnel displaying the line, "ask me about an ass kicking." Showtime will encourage retailer participation with a $10,000 cash prize if their store is mentioned by the grand prizewinner. SHOWTIME will also be a major sponsor at the magazines' comic book conventions -- WizardWorld Chicago 2002 and WizardWorld East 2002 in Philadelphia. National print advertising will also appear in other specially targeted magazines and comic books including Marvel Comics, DC Comics, MAD Magazine, and Cinescape. The concept and creative for the advertising campaign and Kick Ass Sweepstakes was done by Red Group, Showtime Network's in-house advertising agency. The comic book promotion was developed in cooperation with Platinum Studios chairman/Jeremiah Executive Producer, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

Based on Platinum Studios' award-winning comic book series by Belgian author Hermann Huppen, the series stars Luke Perry as Jeremiah ("Beverly Hills 90210") and Malcolm-Jamal Warner ("Malcolm & Eddie") as his pal Kurdy. The show is set in a future post-apocalyptic world where a decade before, a deadly virus wiped out the world's adult population sparing only those who hadn't reached puberty. Created for television by sci-fi icon J. Michael Straczynski (Creator & Executive Producer of "Babylon 5" and writer of "The Amazing Spider-Man"), JEREMIAH is being distributed by MGM Worldwide Television Distribution and produced in association with Platinum Studios.

J. Michael Straczynski is showrunner and an executive producer for JEREMIAH, alongside Sam Egan. Russell Mulcahy will direct the two-hour premiere. The executive producers also include Luke Perry, Joe Dante, Michael Finnell, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and Ervin Rustemagic.

'Spider Girl,' other Marvel comics saved
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2002, 12:39PM CST by Franklin Harris
During a conference call today, Marvel Comics confirmed that three of its low-selling titles are getting a second chance (and, in some cases, a third). "Spider-Girl," "Captain Marvel" and "Black Panther" should be able to carry on for another year, but Marvel is raising the cover price of each by 25 cents. While all three have devoted core followings, none has been able to grab a larger audience.

Kevin Smith's next Marvel project to be solicited in June
Posted Wednesday, February 20, 2002, 12:35PM CST by Franklin Harris
During a conference call today, Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada said writer/director Kevin Smith's ("Daredevil," "Green Arrow") next project for the company will be solicited in June. The six-issue miniseries, "Spider-Man: The Evil That Men Do," will feature Spider-Man and his former partner, the Black Cat. This is the same Black Cat project that Smith mentioned months ago.

PR: 'Medabots' comes to home video in April
Posted Monday, February 18, 2002, 11:41AM CST by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE: HOUSTON, Feb. 18, 2002 - ADV FILMS has set the street date of April 30, for the home video release of Medabots: Transport Metabee!, the first volume of the mega-popular FOX Kids Network animated series that has already become Saturday morning's must-see television event. ADV plans a concurrent day and date release for both the DVD ($19.98) and VHS ($14.98) formats of this successful children's franchise.

EDITORIAL: Give back the Oscar, Julia!
Posted Monday, February 18, 2002, 10:29AM CST by Franklin Harris
I normally reserve these little news bites for news, not editorial comment (I do enough of that in my weekly column). But I couldn't let this little gem pass without taking a cheap shot:

Julia Roberts tells Newsweek magazine that Denzel Washington deserves to win the best actor Oscar for his role as a corrupt cop in the movie "Training Day." Says Julia: "I cannot absorb living in a world where I have an Oscar for best actress and Denzel doesn't have one for best actor."

Well, for once I agree with the toothy one. I cannot absorb living in a world where Julia Roberts has a best actress Oscar.

--Franklin Harris

Actor Kevin Smith (not the 'Clerks' Kevin Smith) dies in film accident
Posted Monday, February 18, 2002, 9:47AM CST by Franklin Harris
Kevin Smith, 38, best known for his portrayal of the war god Ares on "Xena" and "Hercules," died on Friday in Beijing. Smith was working on a film 10 days ago when he fell from a height of about six stories. He had been in hospital ever since.

Fifth 'Superman' movie gets director
Posted Thursday, February 14, 2002, 9:27AM CST by Franklin Harris
Variety reports that McG is confirmed as the director for a new "Superman" live-action movie. "Alias" creator J.J. Abrams is reportedly writing the script. McG will begin filming once work on "Charlie's Anges 2" is complete.

Warner Bros. picks up Philip K. Dick story
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 8:01PM CST by Franklin Harris
According to Variety, Warner Bros. has acquired the rights to Philip K. Dick's semi-autobiographical novel, "A Scanner Darkly," for Section 8, the production company of Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney.

New 'Amityville' horrors on the way?
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 7:53PM CST by Franklin Harris
Coming Attractions reports that a new sequel to "The Amityville Horror" and a TV series based on the original movie are under consideration at two different studios.

'Six Million Dollar Man' on fast track
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 7:50PM CST by Franklin Harris
Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman in the "Six Million Dollar Man" TV series) told Sci-Fi Wire that a theatrical version of "The Six Million Dollar Man" is on the fast track at Universal. He also said that he is under contract to appear in the film and that Lee Majors may reprise his role as Steve Austin. However, a new lead character will likely be cast.

'Metropolis' DVD gets new release date
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 7:20PM CST by Franklin Harris
The anime film "Metropolis" has been an unexpected success for Columbia/Tri-Star Pictures, leading the studio to delay the DVD release while the film is still a strong performer in limited theatrical release. ("Metropolis" has also received good reviews, including from Roger Ebert.) The new DVD release date is April 23.

Source: Anime News Network

WB's 'Birds of Prey' cast takes shape
Posted Wednesday, February 13, 2002, 7:14PM CST by Franklin Harris
The WB's upcoming live-action series "Birds of Prey" is starting to come together. Dina Meyer ("Starship Troopers") has joined the cast as Barbara Gordon, a.k.a Oracle (the former Batgirl). She joins Ashley Scott (who is playing the Huntress) and Rachel Skarsten (playing a loose adaptation of the comic-book character Black Canary). The series is based on the DC comic book "Birds of Prey" and is set in a near-future version of Gotham City where the Joker is dead and Batman is in retirement. (Early reports are that the Huntress, like the original "Earth-2" version of the same character, will be the daughter of Batman and Catwoman.)

Source: Toon Zone

Clarke's 'Childhood's End' to big screen
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2002, 11:49AM CST by Franklin Harris
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Arthur C. Clarke's science fiction novel, "Childhood's End" is heading to the big screen, helmed by an unlikely director: Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry").

'60s 'Batman' returns to TV Land
Posted Sunday, February 3, 2002, 9:09AM CST by Franklin Harris
Toon Zone has passed along a statement from the official TV Land Web site:

"POW!" "BANG!" "ZAP!" The Dynamic Duo will begin protecting the citizens of TV LAND with a week-long Bat Marathon April 29-May 3 (8:00-10:00pm ET/PT). Each night will showcase a different bat-villain including The Riddler (Frank Gorshin/John Astin) on Monday, The Penguin (Burgess Meredith) on Tuesday, Catwoman (Julie Newmar/ Eartha Kitt) on Wednesday, King Tut (Victor Buono) on Thursday, and The Joker (Caesar Romero) on Friday. Then, beginning Monday, May 6, Batman will assume its regularly-scheduled time slot on TV Land each evening at 7:00pm ET/PT and 7:30pm ET/PT.

PR: James 'Scotty' Doohan at Atlanta's Vulkon
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2002, 8:30PM CST by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE: Vulkon-Atlanta, MAY 24-26, 2002, James Doohan, Bruce Campbell, John Billingsley, Barry Morse, and many others.

James Doohan is retiring this year from the convention circuit. This years Vulkon-Atlanta will be his last appearance in the S.E.. Come to this years shows and help us celebrate the life and career of an actor that has entertained and influenced so many for more than 30 years!

Join us for a great weekend at Vulkon Atlanta at our great Hotel: The Atlanta Marriott Century Center. This show boasts a fabulous guest line-up, featuring the legendary James Doohan "Scotty" from the original classic Star Trek, the Star of Army of Darkness, Evil Dead, Xena/Hercules, Brisco County and Jack of All Trades- "Bruce Campbell", from playing Dr. Phlox on Enterprise the wonderful John Billingsley, and from Space 1999 actor Barry Morse. (Other guests To Be Announced). All guests will be available for Q&A and autographs.

Vulkon has been running fan-friendly conventions since 1987 with activities for fans of all ages. There are Charity Auctions at each show to benefit various charities, including Hospice and the Motion Picture and TV Fund (MPTF). All autographed memorabilia purchased in the Charity Auctions are guaranteed authentic. Art Shows, Costume contests, a dance and party, with a disc jockey, events for children, autographs with the stars, panels, games, and of course the stars, there is sure to be something for everyone.

Please keep up to date with the Vulkon Atlanta 2002 by going to www.vulkon.com. In the center of the screen you will see a drop down menu that says "Select a City". Click on the down arrow and click on Atlanta. Vulkon can also be reached at joemotes@aol.com or (954) 441-8735.

PR: 'Lady Death' film begins production
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2002, 8:18PM CST by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE: ADV FILMS has selected the production team that will be responsible for bringing the long-awaited animated adaptation of Chaos! Comics' popular character Lady Death to life.

Co-producers Carl Macek and Andy Orjuela will soon travel to Asia to work with artists at SunMin Image Pictures Co., Ltd. under the supervision of director Young H. Sang, to begin the arduous process of creating the animation for this re-telling of the classic gothic heroine's origin.

The original screenplay, written by Macek, revisits the origin of Lady Death. The resulting script is a faithful adaptation of Chaos! Comics founder Brian Pulido's original story. New plot elements have been introduced and key characters have been re-designed by Orjuela to breathe new life into the property.

Executive Producer John Ledford hopes to create a new production model with LADY DEATH that redefines the relationship between Asian animation studios and Western creators. To these ends, creative elements such as design and storytelling are the domain of domestic talent while offshore "boutique" animation houses handle animation production services. Where the difference becomes most apparent is in the approach to animation.

"This is not an attempt to clone anime production techniques," Ledford said, "but rather a genuine effort to develop a new working relationship that respects the various talents of the entire creative team."

Macek, who has been a fixture in the animation industry for over 20 years thanks to his work as President of Streamline Pictures and story editor for Harmony Gold's influential eighties series, ROBOTECH, is putting his considerable experience into the construction of this new animation model.

The goal for Macek, who also serves as the director of LADY DEATH, is to define a production environment that draws from the best of both worlds.

"Over the last 10 years, Japanese animation techniques have become accepted norms around the world," Macek said, "thanks to the success of various television programs and video games, not to mention the huge number of animated programming available on home video. But what is apparent in any survey of anime is that, in many instances, it has become a case of style over substance. Working to take projects out of clichéd design cycles and produce a unique vision based on subject matter and core audience is key to ADV's plans."

Orjuela, who also served as co-producer and art director of ADV's first animation co-production, SIN, is a key factor in this process. As co-producer and art director of LADY DEATH, his responsibility is to fashion an original environment populated by unique characters that are both fresh and familiar at the same time.

"The fun part is getting to create a new world," Orjuela said, "and then having a staff of artists halfway across the globe put their own spin on it, with the resulting work strengthened and enhanced through genuine intellectual co-production. It's an exciting way to work."

Korean based SunMin Image Pictures' previous work includes BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES for Warner Brothers, GARGOYLES, TIMON & PUMBA, 101 DALMATIONS, and HERCULES for Walt Disney, THE MAXX for MTV, and the Grammy award-winning music video "Do The Evolution" for American rock group Pearl Jam.

LADY DEATH tells the story of innocence betrayed and then reborn as a powerful elemental force capable of challenging the very roots of evil incarnate. Set in 15th Century Sweden, the film follows Hope, the beautiful daughter of Matthias - believed to be a skilled mercenary, but who in actuality is Lucifer, the Lord of Lies - who is accused of being the devil's consort following a hellish incident witnessed by a local priest. Ultimately, the mock inquisition sentences Hope to be burned at the stake. Unable to think clearly, she accepts Lucifer's offer of life in Hell - presented by the malevolent Pagan - over a hideously painful death. Lucifer's grand plan to pervert a pure soul meets unanticipated resistance, and Hope soon finds herself transformed into Lady Death. Together with the valiant outcast, Cremator, Lady Death challenges Lucifer's hell-spawned kingdom of darkness. The resulting conflict explores the depths of faith
and love as an alternative to the corrupting power of evil.

Drawing on elements of horror and heroic fantasy, LADY DEATH boldly presents a unique and compelling world. This embrace of the dark side has been the domain of literary writers such as Anne Rice and Clive Barker for many years. It is a world that is ripe for visualization as animation. But American animators have typically shied away from this dark vision in favor of super-heroes and comic buffoons. This is where anime comes into play. The use of animation to tell inherently dramatic stories has been a hallmark of classic anime productions for nearly thirty years.

LADY DEATH will be produced as an all-digital, wide-screen feature-length film. The production will be designed to appear as traditional cel animation, but the work will be completed in a "paperless" environment. The advantage of using this process is that the dark environments of the underworld and the even darker demons that populate it can be visualized with a palate of colors that are virtually impossible to achieve utilizing traditional animation techniques. The goal will be to approach the color
palate seen in contemporary comic books and video games. Based on the digital color printing revolution ushered in by software such as Adobe Photoshop®, the ultimate palate becomes denser and more realistic. Limitations exist in traditional animation due to the number of layers required and the lighting necessary to expose film. By going digital, the depth of color and design are limitless.

The actual production of LADY DEATH should take a year to complete. Along the way, ADV plans to continually update fans and industry insiders with glimpses of this unique production in various stages of completion.

"It's always interesting to get a peek behind the scenes of any production," Macek said. "It keeps interest high, and it creates a sense that something cool is coming our way."

'Eltingville' pilot to air on 'Adult Swim'
Posted Saturday, February 2, 2002, 8:07PM CST by Franklin Harris
According to Comics2Film, Evan Dorkin's animated pilot, "The Eltingville Club," based on the Eltingville stories in Dorkin's "Dork" comic book, will air as part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim bloc on March 3 at 10 p.m. Central Time.


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