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June 2001

'Galactica' headed to both Fox and Sci-Fi
Posted Friday, June 29, 2001, 6:57PM CDT by Franklin Harris
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif., June 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Fox has ordered a two-hour pilot to launch a new version of the classic action adventure series, "Battlestar Galactica," it was announced by Sarah Timberman, president, Studios USA Programming.

A-list feature filmmaker Bryan Singer will executive produce and direct the pilot. "X-Men" executive producer Tom DeSanto and Dan Angel and Billy B0rown ("Night Visions") will also serve as executive producers. The pilot will be for series consideration for the 2002-03 television season and in an unprecedented agreement, will have a shared broadcast window in primetime on Studios USA sister company SCI FI Channel. Set after the original series, "Battlestar Galactica" is an epic space saga combining action adventure and family drama.

"Our goal is to take the 'Galactica' franchise and move it forward in both style and character while bringing the scope and sensibility of epic science-fiction filmmaking to the small screen," said Bryan Singer.

"We're tremendously excited to be bringing the originality and immense talent of Bryan Singer, Tom DeSanto, Dan Angel and Billy Brown to bear on reinventing what was clearly such a pop culture phenomenon," said Sarah Timberman.

"As a diehard fan of the original show, I've dreamed of bringing 'Battlestar Galactica' back for over ten years now and could not think of a better home for it than Fox," said Tom DeSanto, adding "There is a huge audience waiting for this show to return. And with over 200 web sites around the world, the phenomenon of 'Battlestar Galactica' is a sleeping giant which is about to awaken."

"We're looking forward to the creative challenge of working on a project of such large scope," said Dan Angel and Billy Brown.

Bryan Singer's directing credits include the upcoming "X-Men 2" for Fox as well as "X-Men" (also co-wrote story); "Apt Pupil" and "The Usual Suspects." He also served as executive producer on "Apt Pupil," "The Usual Suspects" and "Public Access," which he also co-wrote. "Public Access" won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1993. Tom DeSanto's credits include serving as executive producer and co-writer of "X-Men" and co-producer of "Apt Pupil." Dan Angel and Billy Brown's credits include the upcoming Fox series "Night Visions," set to premiere July 12; "The X-Files"; the Fox Family Channel series "The Fearing Mind" and the ABC Saturday morning series "Goosebumps."

New Gaiman novel debuts in top 10
Posted Friday, June 29, 2001, 11:34AM CDT by Franklin Harris
Neil Gaiman's new novel, "American Gods," debuted in the top ten according to the Publishers Weekly bestseller list. Gaiman is best known as the writer of the "Sandman" comics series for DC/Vertigo Comics, and his previous books include "Smoke and Mirrors," "Neverwhere" and "Stardust."

Ray Bradbury busy with adaptations
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2001, 8:05PM CDT by Franklin Harris
From the Sci-Fi Wire: Legendary SF author Ray Bradbury told Variety that he's busier at age 81 than he can recall being in ages. In addition to The SCI FI Channel's upcoming adaptation of his short-story collection The Illustrated Man, Bradbury is working on a new feature-film version of his novel Farenheit 451 with director Frank Darabont for producer Mel Gibson; a new movie adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, also with Darabont directing; an $80 million movie based on his short story Sound of Thunder, starring Pierce Brosnan; and the script for a movie based on his novella Frost & Fire, the trade paper reported.

'Crouching Tiger 2' in the works
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2001, 8:02PM CDT by Franklin Harris
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" star Michelle Yeoh confirmed in an interview with The Sci-Fi Wire that a prequel to the surprise hit film is in the works.

Old faces to return to 'Galactica'?
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2001, 7:58PM CDT by Franklin Harris
Dan Angel and Billy Brown, who are producing the "Battlestar Galactica" revival for the Sci-Fi Channel, say that some characters from the original series will return, but they declined to name which ones. The series is being developed by "X-Men" producer Tom DeSanto and director Bryan Singer.

Source: The Sci-Fi Wire

'Dragonball' delayed until August
Posted Thursday, June 28, 2001, 5:41AM CDT by Franklin Harris
ZENtertainment has learned that the DRAGON BALL animated series didn't make it on the air at The CARTOON NETWORK on Monday as originally scheduled. While the official DB site reports the young adventures of the characters will begin on July 23rd, a spokesperson for the network says they are currently planning for a late August launch.

'Atlantis' = 'Nadia'?
Posted Thursday, June 21, 2001, 11:42AM CDT by Franklin Harris
So, just how similar is "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" to "Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water?" See for yourself at this Web site.

Cinescape Online lives again
Posted Wednesday, June 20, 2001, 7:18AM CDT by Franklin Harris
Cinescape Online has returned at a new URL and with a much less annoying site design.

'Phantom Menace' comes to DVD on Oct. 16
Posted Tuesday, June 19, 2001, 1:09PM CDT by Franklin Harris
Finally, Lucasfilm has announced the DVD release of "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace." It'll hit stores on Oct. 16, and it's loaded with so many extras even I may have to buy it. For the more-or-less complete specifications, see this article at DVDFile.com.

'Gundam' airdates and more Toonami news
Posted Monday, June 18, 2001, 3:01PM CDT by Franklin Harris
Sam Sundersingh e-mailed with Toonami news from Saiyanz-Rage.net.

"Mobile Suit Gundam" will debut on Toonami at 4 p.m. (CT) on July 23. "MS Gundam 08th Team" will also debut that day, but as part of the Toonami Midnight Run, 11 p.m. (CT).

July 23 is also still scheduled as the debut date for "DragonBall," but that date may slip yet again.

"Outlaw Star" is returning (Midnight Run only) on July 23.

"DragonBall Z" season 5 will begin on Sept. 3.

"Pilot Candidate" (a.k.a., "Candidate for Goddess") still has no firm airdate. Expect it sometime this fall.

Supposedly, Batman and Superman have been banished from Toonami (although, presumably, not from Cartoon Network). [Could they be repackaged with the upcoming "Justice League" cartoon to create a new block this fall? --FH]

'Earth: Final Conflict' cast changes ... again
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2001, 7:31PM CDT by Franklin Harris
The Sci-Fi Wire reports that there will be yet more major cast changes on "Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict" in the upcoming fifth season. Leni Parker (Da'an) is out. Anita La Selva (Zo'or) will appear only as a special guest star. Kevin Kilner, whose character, Boone, supposedly died at the end of the show's first season, is returning. Meanwhile, current series star Robert Leeshock is rumored to be leaving.

'Medabot' anime coming to Fox Kids
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2001, 10:25AM CDT by Franklin Harris
According to a report in Canada's National Post newspaper, the Japanese anime series "Medabot" will air on Fox Kids this fall. The series is currently airing on TV Tokyo.

Cinescape is dead for now
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2001, 6:38PM CDT by Franklin Harris
The Sci-Fi Wire reports that Cinescape magazine and Cinescape Online (along with their affiliated Fandom.com Web sites) are dead. The company has closed its doors and fired all of its staff while it seeks a buyer. For details, see the Sci-Fi Wire's story here.

'Yu-Gi-Oh!' cartoon to hit Kids WB this fall
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2001, 8:03AM CDT by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE: NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--June 12, 2001-- 4Kids Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:KDE), a global provider of children's entertainment, and Kids' WB!, the #1 broadcast network for kids, have joined forces to bring Japan's hottest new anime series, YU-GI-OH! to kids in the United States on Saturday mornings beginning this fall. The announcement was made today by Donna Friedman, Executive Vice President, Kids' WB!, and Al Kahn, Chairman and CEO of 4Kids Entertainment.

"We are thrilled to be working once again with the creative team that brought Pokemon to Kids' WB!," said Ms. Friedman. "4Kids Entertainment and the YU-GI-OH! consortium in Japan are bringing us - and kids in the U.S. - the next hit anime-adventure series. YU-GI-OH! will make a great addition to our top-rated fall line-up."

"We are delighted to join with Kids' WB! in introducing YU-GI-OH! to U.S. audiences," said Mr. Kahn. "We are confident this extraordinary property will find enthusiastic acceptance among kids in the U.S."

YU-GI-OH!, based on the comic book series, follows the adventures of Yugi, a smaller than average high school student -- and an easy target for bullies. When his grandfather, a local game shop manager, gives him an ancient Egyptian riddle called the "Millennium Puzzle," and Yugi pieces it together, he unexpectedly becomes the powerful "Game King," an alter-ego. When Yugi gets into sticky situations, the "Game King" takes over and protects Yugi and his friends. The game is on...as Yugi plays games to defeat his monster rivals.

Kids' WB!, jointly launched Pokemon with 4Kids Entertainment on network television in February 1999 with record-breaking success in the U.S. With this success, 4Kids Entertainment was tapped by YU-GI-OH! author, Kazuki Takahashi to exclusively manage the property's entire licensing program in the U.S. and across the international marketplace outside of Asia. Together, they now join forces, once again, to bring all Pokemon fans another adventure-filled series with strong friendships, teamwork and strategic mastering skills, presented in a sophisticated style of Japanese animation.

Currently airing in Japan on TV Tokyo, YU-GI-OH! is a top-rated animated television series produced by NAS (Nihon Ad Systems, Inc.). The multi-media property is also in high demand with such products as videogames, card games and licensed products that have reached more than $2 billion in revenues. To date, publisher Shueisha has sold over 23 million comics and video games created by Konami who have sold 7 million copies for PlayStation and Game Boy platforms, in addition to the 3.5 billion YU-GI-OH! cards that have been sold. Now ready to take on the U.S., 4Kids Entertainment kicks-off the New York Licensing Show with today's formal introduction of the eagerly anticipated property.

Jet Li to be a monk for Miramax
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2001, 9:43AM CDT by Franklin Harris
According to Variety, Miramax has signed Jet Li to star in an as yet untitled action comedy in which he plays a Tibetan monk who wins a trip to New York and brings harmony to an inner-city neighborhood.

The film, based on Li's concept, will be written by Robert Mark Kamen, who wrote Li's "Kiss of the Dragon," which opens July 6. Li's paycheck from Miramax will be in excess of $10 million.

Rose McGowan to be 'Charmed'
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2001, 9:35AM CDT by Franklin Harris
According to Variety, it is all-but a done deal that Rose McGowan will sign on to replace Shannen Doherty on the WB supernatural series "Charmed." This fall, new episodes of "Charmed" will also air on the TNT cable network.

Followup on Cartoon Network's 'Adult Swim'
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2001, 8:51AM CDT by Franklin Harris
On the heels of Cartoon Network's announcement yesterday that it is planning a late-night block of adult-targeted cartoons, I spoke with Cartoon Network spokesman Jim Babcock, who was able to add a few more details.

First, there is no set number of new episodes for "Space Ghost: Coast to Coast." At least six new episodes are already finished, but CN's Williams Street animation facility in Atlanta simply animates new episodes as they have time, Babcock said. The Williams Street facility is also responsible for most of the other "Adult Swim" cartoons: "Sealab 2021," "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," "Harvey Birdman" and "Leave it to Brak." Another "Adult Swim" toon, "Home Movies," was picked up by CN after it was dropped by UPN.

The block begins on Sept. 2 and will run on Thursday and Sunday nights from 9 p.m. to midnight (CT).

If the block is successful, CN plans to expand it to other nights. Babcock said CN would look outside of CN's own animation studios for potential programming, but he refused to say whether or not the adult-themed anime series "Cowboy Bebop," long rumored to be a potential CN acquisition, was under consideration. He did stress that CN maintains a good working relationship with all of its outside animation providers, including Bandai Entertainment, which produces "Cowboy Bebop."

--Franklin Harris

Canned 'Godzilla meat' going on sale in Japan
Posted Tuesday, June 12, 2001, 7:40AM CDT by Franklin Harris
Japan's best-known monster, Godzilla, is coming soon to Japanese grocery stores -- in cans.

Godzilla Meat, actually 3 1/2 ounces of corned beef from Tokyo toy maker Takara Co., is packaged with pictures of the stomping, fire-breathing, radioactive dinosaur made famous by the Toho movie series. It will sell for $4.75 per can, but there are no plans so far to export Godzilla Meat, according to Takara, the maker of the Transformers toys.

Also planned for sale in Japan this fall are Godzilla Eggs, a can of about 15 quail eggs; Rodan Meat, canned barbecued chicken named after the winged monster; and King Ghidora Meat, the same corned beef used for the Godzilla Meat.

Source: The Associated Press

Cartoon Network launches late-night block for adults
Posted Monday, June 11, 2001, 1:23PM CDT by Franklin Harris
PRESS RELEASE: ATLANTA --(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)-- June 11, 2001 -- On September 2, Cartoon Network extends its mission as the world's leader in animated entertainment when it splashes down with ADULT SWIM, a new block of animated programming aimed at adults ages 18-34.

The block will air only on Sunday and Thursday nights from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. (ET, PT) and current plans include five new series and new episodes of the beloved talk show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

"Almost one-third of our viewers are adults over 18, so it's a natural extension of our programming to create new shows specifically for the adult audience," said Betty Cohen, president of Cartoon Network Worldwide. "The humor in ADULT SWIM will definitely be aimed at a more sophisticated audience than our other programming. Our mission for these shows will be the same as for the network at large - to create shows that are enduringly smart, fun, funny and fearless but never antisocial or mean-spirited. ADULT SWIM will truly complement what we already do so well - present the best in animated entertainment."

ADULT SWIM's rotating line-up will be anchored by new episodes of Home Movies, the story of a socially awkward third grader named Brendon Small. A budding auteur, Brendon writes, directs and acts in short films with neighborhood friends as a way of overcoming his shyness and dealing with the recent divorce of his parents. Brendon provides telling insight on the dysfunction of the adults in his life using his third grade lens. Home Movies was originally developed for UPN by Soup 2 Nuts (formerly Tom Snyder Productions).

ADULT SWIM will feature the return of television's crankiest talk show host, Space Ghost. Space Ghost Coast to Coast is the planet's only late-night talk show hosted by a cartoon superhero. Fully costumed and on the scene with an array of superpowers, Space Ghost is joined by archenemies Moltar and Zorak, whom he has enslaved as unwilling members of his late-night crew. The bossy inquisitor grills pop culture luminaries ranging from Al Roker to Beck. And when Space Ghost is really feeling testy, he vaporizes them with a blast from his power bands.

Also pulling up a chaise lounge for ADULT SWIM will be a number of new shows developed at Cartoon Network's Williams St. facility, the launching pad for Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Sealab 2021 is a kitschy update of a Hanna-Barbera production about an undersea city, featuring the voice talents of Eric Estrada. Aqua Teen Hunger Force tells the story of an elite group of detectives who happen to be human-sized food products. Harvey Birdman is the world's first animated courtroom drama, trying the crimes and misdemeanors of the cartoon world, like when Shaggy gets pulled over in the Mystery Machine for "possession." Finally, demented space alien Brak returns in Leave It to Brak, which parodies the beloved tenets of classic family sitcoms but with a wry sensibility and plenty of catchy songs.

"From a programming perspective, we wanted to expand our line-up to offer some innovative new shows for our adult fans," said Mike Lazzo, senior vice president of programming and production for Cartoon Network. "Animation has never been an art that was solely geared toward kids. Space Ghost Coast to Coast was created for an adult audience - and it has developed a loyal cult following. Now, we've created a group of shows that we think will become appointment viewing for fans of smart, funny television."

ADULT SWIM shows will carry ratings of TV-PG and TV-14. The block will be packaged differently from other Cartoon Network programming, and will contain bumps at every break to notify viewers of the adult-targeted content. ADULT SWIM will only be promoted on Cartoon Network late at night.

"We're being very careful to delineate ADULT SWIM from the rest of Cartoon Network's programming. We'll make it very clear that this block is for adults," said Tim Hall, executive vice president of Cartoon Network. "We learned that parents and adults were very receptive to this type of programming from Cartoon Network, provided it was appropriately marketed and differentiated from our other programming. With ADULT SWIM, Cartoon Network is taking a step in a new direction we think both adults who love animation and advertisers will enjoy."

Universial seeks 'Sub-Mariner' deal
Posted Friday, June 8, 2001, 2:25PM CDT by Franklin Harris
Universal Pictures is in talks with Marvel Comics to produce a live-action film based on Namor, The Sub-Mariner, the comic-book publisher's aquatic superhero.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Shatner to host UPN's 'Iron Chef' special
Posted Friday, June 8, 2001, 1:14PM CDT by Franklin Harris
Press release from Viacom: Actor William Shatner will host two one-hour specials of IRON CHEF SHOWDOWN IN LAS VEGAS, UPN's all-new Americanized version of the phenomenally successful Japanese culinary show "Iron Chef." Staged like a sporting event, IRON CHEF SHOWDOWN IN LAS VEGAS features frenetic culinary battles between the world's top chefs who race against the clock to create outstanding original cuisine. William Shatner contributes his trademark sense of humor and entertaining style to his role as "Chairman."

In each show, a Challenger (chef) is sent into the Chairman's "Kitchen Stadium," a giant cooking arena, where he or she competes against one of four Iron Chefs who specialize in American, Italian, French and Asian cooking. The competing chefs are given one hour to prepare an exotic meal in which each course must feature a secret ingredient that is revealed only moments before the battle begins. A panel of four celebrity judges taste and critique the food before determining whose cuisine will reign supreme. Based on format rights of Fuji TV, IRON CHEF SHOWDOWN IN LAS VEGAS is produced by the Larry Thompson Organization and Lions Gate Entertainment. Larry Thompson ("And the Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Story," "Lucy and Desi: Before the Laughter") is executive producer.

The first American "Iron Chef" special is scheduled to air around Labor Day.

'Dragonball' delayed on Cartoon Network
Posted Thursday, June 7, 2001, 6:06AM CDT by Franklin Harris
"Dragonball," the the show the spawned "Dragonball Z," was scheduled to begin on Cartoon Network this month, but now the official "Dragonball Z" Web site reports that it has been delayed until July 23.

Miramax snags 'Ghost in the Shell' sequel rights
Posted Sunday, June 3, 2001, 8:05AM CDT by Franklin Harris
There is a bit of news coming out of the A-Kon anime convention. (See this summary at Anime on DVD for more.) But here is something that caught my eye: According to one source, it seems Miramax, which released "Princess Mononoke," has purchased the North American rights to the sequel to "Ghost in the Shell." That, at least, is what a disappointed spokesperson for Manga Entertainment says. (Manga released the original "Ghost in the Shell" in America, and no doubt was hoping to get the sequel.) Does this mean a potential (limited or wide) theatrical release of GitS 2 is in our future?

'Shrek' sequel in the works
Posted Saturday, June 2, 2001, 6:22PM CDT by Franklin Harris
As is being reported in a number of sources, DreamWorks has started planning for a sequel to the studio's hit animated film, "Shrek." Plans are for the sequel to be released theatrically, not just direct to video.

'Crouching Tiger' cartoon series?
Posted Saturday, June 2, 2001, 6:07PM CDT by Franklin Harris
Variety reports that a Taiwanese media company, SMEC Media and Entertainment, has acquired the rights to produce an animated series adapted from Wang Du-Lu's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" book series, on which the Ang Lee film of the same name is based. The company is currently shopping the cartoon series around Hollywood.


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