Tuesday, January 15, 2008

News - 01/16/08...

Justice League Crew is Preparing for the Worst

Production department heads tell their crews that this week will determine if Justice League will move forward on time or not.

As we reported last week, Justice League is in trouble and was expected to be delayed until at least April/May, that is if it didn’t get scrapped altogether. It appears that "official" news just might be a few days away.

Talking to a couple of friends that are working on Justice League, they tell me that the crews are all aware of the problems, the cast and script with the latter being the biggest issue are about to put the production on hold.

Crews have been told that if problems don’t get fixed within the next few days, pre-production will come to a halt, a decision is expected by mid-week.

Does Justice League have a salvation? The biggest issue for any movie that is in or will be in production during the WGA strike is the limitation on who can tweak a script. J.J. Abrams has mentioned how difficult it has been with Star Trek and as anyone who has been part of a production knows, re-writes of a shooting script is normal, daily thing to do during production. So is there a way around the strike?

For the last few weeks we have been hearing the certain big studio comic book adaptations may be hiring non-WGA comic book writers to come aboard as producers and/or consultants and that will allow for any minor changes to the script to be done by them or by other non-WGA production staff.

I am sure that any move like this will certainly piss off the Writers Guild and you have to wonder if the studio will move forward with such plans but from what we are hearing, the option is on the table.

Stay tuned, looks like we are in store for a busy week!

Knight Has Transformers Vibe

Justin Bruening, who stars in NBC's upcoming Knight Rider movie and backdoor pilot, told SCI FI Wire that the show will have some Transformers-like elements.

"The Transformers aspect is that the car actually morphs into different colors and actually morphs into an attack mode," Bruening said in an interview on the show's set on Jan. 14, adding: "It grows a spoiler and becomes more aerodynamic than a stock Shelby Cobra."

The "car" is the new K.I.T.T., or Knight Industries Three Thousand, a computer-enhanced, 540-horsepower black Mustang Shelby GT 500 KR. SCI FI Wire got a look at the armored version of the vehicle during shooting in the remote Castaic area of Los Angeles County on Monday, where producers were filming the aftermath of a climactic crash between K.I.T.T. and a minivan. The "attack mode" K.I.T.T. had "armored" louvers over the grill, a large spoiler on the back deck, black rims on the wheels and other enhancements.

Adding a morphing capability to the car is only one of the ways producers are updating the 1980s series for a new generation, former soap star Bruening said. "It's got a lot of Bourne Identity kind of stuff," he added, referring to the 2002 Matt Damon thriller movie that freshened up the action-spy genre.

The show is a sequel to the 1980s TV classic that made a star of David Hasselhoff and featured a souped-up Pontiac Trans Am. Bruening plays Mike Tracer, a former Army Ranger and Iraq War vet who has fallen on hard times when he's called to help out Sarah Graiman (Deanna Russo), the daughter of Charles Graiman (Bruce Davison), inventor of K.I.T.T., who has gone missing. Sydney Tamila Poitier stars as an FBI agent. Hasselhoff has a cameo as Michael Knight, the original Knight Rider.

Sharing a scene with "The Hoff" was "amazing, actually," Bruening said. He added: "I watched the original show, and I was a huge fan when I was a kid. And that was the first day of filming, and standing there, you know, I was already nervous just filming in general, and here comes this 6-foot-4 giant that I used to idolize as a kid. And ... it was just surreal, and getting to work with him was just so much fun. It's one of those moments that you get to tell your grandkids, I guess." Knight Rider airs as a two-hour movie on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Persepolis Misses Oscar Cut

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today named the nine films advancing to the next round of voting in the Foreign Language Film category, and the animated French feature Persepolis is not among them. The omission could signify that the Academy plans to have the pic in the running for Best Animated Feature as the 80th Academy Awards ceremony approaches. Nominations will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 a.m. (PT) in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

The foreign films that did make the cut are: Stefan Ruzowitzky’s The Counterfeiters (Austria), Cao Hamburger’s The Year My Parents Went on Vacation (Brazil), Denys Arcand’s Days of Darkness (Canada), Joseph Cedar’s Beaufort (Israel), Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Unknown (Italy), Sergei Bodrov’s Mongol (Kazakhstan), Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn (Poland), Nikita Mikhalkov’s 12 (Russia) and Srdan Golubovic’s The Trap (Serbia). Other notable absentees were Romania's Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days and Spain's The Orphanage.

Foreign Language Film nominations for 2007 are being determined in two phases. The Phase I committee, consisting of several hundred Los Angeles-based members, screened the 63 eligible films and their ballots determined the above shortlist. A Phase II committee made up of ten randomly selected members from the Phase I group will then be joined by specially invited ten-member contingents in New York and Los Angeles to view the shortlisted films and select the five nominees for the category.

Assuming the writers’ strike doesn’t rain on the picnic like it did the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards ceremony will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 24 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network beginning at 5 p.m. (PT).

Harryhausen Faves Colorized on DVD

Two more classic sci-fi flicks featuring the stop-motion animation genius of Ray Harryhausen have been colorized and released on DVD today by Columbia/Tristar. Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956) and It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) are two-disc sets that also offer the original black-and-white versions, as well as some juicy extras including filmmaker Tim Burton interviewing Harryhausen.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers stars Joan Taylor, Hugh Marlowe, Donald Curtis and Morris Ankrum in a tale of alien invasion that has animated space crafts terrorizing the people of Earth and demolishing such national landmarks as the Washington Monument. Bonus materials include commentary by Harryhausen, producer Arnold Kunert, former Visual Effects Society chair Jeff Okun and vfx guru Ken Ralston. Fans can also enjoy the featurettes Ray Harryhausen on Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, A Present Day Look at Stop-Motion, The Colorization Process, Original Screenplay Credits, Tim Burton Sits Down With Ray Harryhausen, David Schecter on Film Music's Unsung Hero and The Hollywood Blacklist and Bernard Gordon. In addition, there’s an interview with actress Joan Taylor, a video montage of the film's advertising materials presented by Kunert, video photo galleries and a sneak peek at the digital comic book Flying Saucers vs. the Earth.

Long before Cloverfield, Harryhausen thrilled audiences with a tentacled monster that crawled out of the ocean to attack a major U.S. city in It Came From Beneath the Sea, starring Kenneth Tobey, Faith Domergue, Donald Curtis and Ian Keith. The movie is accompanied by commentary by Harryhausen, Kunert and visual effects masters Randy Cook and John Bruno; the Tim Burton Interview; video photo galleries; a discussion of the film’s 1955 marketing and advertising campaign; and the featurettes Ray Harryhausen on It Came From Beneath the Sea, David Schecter on Film Music's Unsung Hero and A Present Day Look at Stop-Motion. There’s also a sneak peek at the digital comic book It Came from Beneath the Sea ... Again! Each disc carries a suggested retail price of $24.96.

Chow’s CJ7 Puts China on VFX Map

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actor/director Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle) says his upcoming sci-fi comedy, CJ7, will feature digital effects produced in China that will hold their own against those hatched in Hollywood and elsewhere in the world. The movie is reportedly the first live-action Chinese production to include a completely CG character. Budgeted at around $20 million, it will also be one of the country’s most expensive films.

The second collaboration between Chow's Star Overseas and Sony Pictures Ent., CJ7 will tell the story of a poor laborer and his son, who have their lives turned upside-down with the arrival of an alien that takes the form of a dog. Chow tells the trade that the movie is highly influenced by Spielberg’s E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, which he saw repeatedly as a child. Effects were created by Hong Kong vfx shop Menfond Electronic Art, which contributed to Disney’s 3-D reissue of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Set to open on Jan 31. in China and Hong Kong, CJ7 is expected to break Asian box office records like Kung Fu Hustle, which grossed more than $100 million worldwide in 2004. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the U.S. on March 7.

Stuart Snyder Raised to President/COO of Turner Animation

Three top executives at the Turner Broadcasting System have received promotions, including Stuart Snyder, who has been elevated to the president and COO of Turner Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media. This will give him responsibility over all operational aspects of the broadcast and digital extenstions of Cartoon Network, Boomerang, and Adult Swim. He will also oversee GameTap, Super Deluxe, and the division's animation production facilities in Los Angeles, CA.

"Codename: Kids Next Door" Finale Airs on January 21, 2008

The one-hour series finale of Cartoon Network's Codename: Kids Next Door will air on Monday, January 21, 2008, at 7:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific). It will be preceded by Codename: Kids Next Door marathon starting at 6:00 AM (Eastern/Pacific) which will also include creator Tom Warburton's top 5 favorite episodes.

"Archie's Funhouse" Coming to DVD

The gang from Riverdale is back as Genius Entertainment and Entertainment Rights bring you Archie's Funhouse: The Complete Series for the first time on DVD.

Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Big Moose, and the rest of the gang brings music and comedy, while a "live-action" audience mixed in to get the response. Not to mention the show feature's the Giant Jukebox.

Archie's Funhouse was produced by Filmation Productions, and aired on CBS in 1970. The shows features the voices of Dal McKennon (Gumby) as Archie, Howard Morris (Atom Ant) as Jughead, Dilton Doiley and Big Moose, Jane Webb as Betty, Veronica and Big Ethel, and John Erwin (He-Man and the Masters of the Universe) as Reggie.

The 3 disc set contains all 16 episodes as well as the 7 episodes of "Archie's Funhouse" from The Archie Comedy Hour, the long lost TV special, Archie and His New Friends, the music video to their #1 hit "Sugar, Sugar", and a documentary on the singing voice of The Archies, Ron Dante.

The box set will be in stores on March 4th.

Strong Ratings for CN's "Transformers Animated" and "George" Sneak Peek

Cartoon Network has announced that the series premiere of Transformers Animated has landed at #1 in its time period with boys 6-11 and boys 2-11, based on preliminary Nielsen rating data.

In another story, the network is announcing strong ratings data for the George of the Jungle sneak peek, which aired on Friday, January 11, 2008, with ratings between 89%-115% higher than for the same time period in 2007.

Harvey Dent is the Backbone of Dark Knight

The Los Angeles Times talked to The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan, who says that "Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is a tragic figure, and his story is the backbone of this film."

The Batman Begins helmer also mentioned that The Joker, played by Heather Ledger, "sort of cuts through the film -- he's got no story arc, he's just a force of nature tearing through. Heath has given an amazing performance in the role, it's really extraordinary."

He added that you shouldn't expect a lot of laughs. "It's a dark and complex story and the villains are dark and complex as well."

The Dark Knight opens in theaters on July 18.

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