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A Weekly Digest Of Sci Fi Wire

 December 5, 2005
 November 28, 2005
 November 21, 2005
 November 14, 2005
 November 7, 2005
 October 31, 2005
 October 24, 2005
 October 17, 2005
 October 10, 2005
 October 3, 2005

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The Staff



Singer Considers Trek Movie

B ryan Singer, an avowed Star Trek fan, told SCI FI Wire that he's thought about directing a Trek movie. "I'm a huge fan," Singer said in an interview at the Nov. 30 premiere of the SCI FI Channel's upcoming original miniseries The Triangle.

Singer added: "We're huge Trekkies. And we've always talked about what we would do, and what would I do, if I were to make a film in that universe."

It's unclear when or if Paramount will mount another Trek film, since its last effort, Star Trek: Nemesis, did poorly at the box office and the last Trek series, Star Trek: Enterprise, was canceled after drawing low ratings.

Singer has kept a strong link with the Trek universe. He made a cameo appearance in Nemesis. He also worked on the last two X-Men films with The Next Generation's Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard). Singer is currently finishing Superman Returns and is working on his next project, an update of the SF movie Logan's Run.

"Again, you know, it's the same thing: X-Men, Superman, Logan's Run, all these things: There are these incredible universes, really," Singer said, adding: "You kind of wish you could play in them all. I mean, I got to do a cameo in the last Star Trek film; that was a thrill. I got to be on the Enterprise when it was under attack."

As for what he would do in his version of a Star Trek movie? "[That's] a longer story," he said. "It would involve ... it would be big. It would be very big."

The Triangle, which Singer executive-produced with Dean Devlin, premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT Dec. 5.

Triangle Sets SCI FI Record

S CI FI Channel announced that its original miniseries The Triangle scored an average household rating of 3.6 over its three-night, six-hour run, Dec. 5-7, making it the highest-rated miniseries on SCI FI since the Emmy Award-winning Steven Spielberg Presents Taken in 2002. The miniseries—from executive producers Bryan Singer, Dean Devlin and Rockne O'Bannon—averaged 4.2 million viewers per night.

The Triangle made SCI FI Channel the number-one prime-time destination in cable among adults aged 25-54 for all three nights. Forty-five percent of those adults were women, marking SCI FI's best delivery among that demographic since Taken.

The third-night episode of The Triangle premiered on Dec. 7 with a 3.3 household rating and 3.9 million viewers and was the top program of the day in cable among adults aged 25-54.

Triangle Cast Faced Real Chills

T he cast of SCI FI Channel's upcoming original miniseries The Triangle told SCI FI Wire that shooting the show for three months in South Africa offered thrills and some literal chills. "Shooting on that continent was rather extraordinary," said Eric Stoltz, who plays skeptical reporter Howard Thomas. "We would be ... sitting in our room, and baboons would come and invade the camp. Seriously. Yeah. Things like that would happen. Or we'd be out in the water, and I saw a great white fin. I mean, things happen."

Bruce Davison, who plays psychic Stan Lathem, expressed surprise at news of the sharks. "You didn’t tell me about that," he said.

"No, I didn't share that with everybody," Stoltz said. "We were shooting in a place called Shark Alley, ... and a woman had just been killed there the month before."

The Triangle centers on a team of experts hired to get to the bottom of the phenomenon of the Bermuda Triangle, a region of the Atlantic Ocean that has been the site of hundreds of supposed mysterious disappearances of planes and ships over the decades. The miniseries required the cast to spend many days in the water off the coast of South Africa and in a special tank on the coast.

"There were three shark attacks and deaths while we were there," said Catherine Bell, who plays deep-ocean resource engineer Emily Patterson, referring to incidents unrelated to the production. "We had to go in the water at one point, but it was a tidal pool, so it was kind of protected. And it was also freezing."

Though the cast was never in real danger of a shark attack, they found themselves frequently chilled by the cold water during the filming, which often took place at night during South Africa's winter. To keep warm they wore wetsuits under their clothing and even employed hot-water bottles between takes.

"There's a shot of all of us standing there like this, holding tea and, like, hot-water bottles on our heads," Bell said. "It’s really glamorous. ... [But] it was freezing."

Added Lou Diamond Phillips, who plays family man and environmentalist Meeno Paloma: "In the last installment of the miniseries, we are all drenched for two hours of screen time, which is a good month's worth of drenching. We're either in the Indian Ocean—I don't even want to fathom, so to speak, how cold that might have been—but if we're not [in the water], we're having to go into the rainstorm. Or you're running into the building, but you're drenched. ... When you're shooting something for 12 hours, you are soaked to the bone all day long, and it's just not glamorous."

To keep warm, Phillips said, "literally, we tried everything. We were trying wetsuits. We were trying wetsuits with dry suits on top. We were trying dry suits without the wetsuits with long johns. I mean, every possible combination to retain your body heat. ... At a certain point, you give up your dignity and go, 'You know what? I just want to be comfortable. I just want to be warm, so I don't care what I look like.'" The Triangle premieres at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Dec. 5.

Jackson Defends Kong Length

P eter Jackson, director of the upcoming King Kong remake, defended the movie's length—three hours and seven minutes—and told SCI FI Wire that it could have been even longer. By contrast, the original 1933 film, which served as the template for Jackson's remake, ran only 100 minutes.

"Three hours," Jackson said with a sigh during a news conference in New York last week. "Ah, the three-hour question. Yes, ... I know. I've got a problem. I feel like I have. No, we thought that movie would be about two hours 10 minutes, two hours 15 [minutes]. And after doing the Lord of the Rings films I really didn't feel that I wanted to make another three-hour film, because they're hard work. It gets to be very intense to have to do post-production on a film that long. And we thought with the original film being one hour 40 [minutes] that we would be okay."

But, Jackson added: "We wrote the script. We shot the script. We cut the movie during post-production. There are lots of scenes that we filmed that aren't in the film. We certainly didn't include everything we shot. There's a lot left for a DVD if we wanted to do a DVD. And we just did the process we normally do. There's no rule book. There's nothing that you can follow other than your instincts. You edit the movie. You watch it. You edit some more. You watch it again."

Jackson said that he and his production team, which included co-writers and co-producers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, chose to forego preview screenings and test audiences. "We trust our instincts," the director said. "We nibble things down. We tighten them up, and you're always trying to get the film as short as you can, because there's obviously a lot of reason why people want it short. We got to the film that you saw last night and didn't really feel like we could trim it down any more. I mean, we could obviously shorten scenes, but we didn't want to do that. We felt like it was the movie we set out to make, more or less, and so that's just what it ended up being. And the way that a movie defines itself, there comes a point that you have to stop interfering and let the movie live and breathe and be what it is. And that's what we ended up doing."

King Kong, which stars Naomi Watts, Adrien Brody and Jack Black, opens on Dec. 14. Universal Pictures is distributing the movie; Universal is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Brody Is Kong's Love Rival

A drien Brody, who co-stars as Jack Driscoll in Peter Jackson's upcoming remake of King Kong, told SCI FI Wire that he was fascinated by the love triangle that emerges among Driscoll, Kong and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts). Darrow is the beautiful actress with whom Driscoll and Kong both fall in love in both the original 1933 film and the remake. By the time Kong has been shipped to New York as a money-making venture by Carl Denham (Jack Black), Darrow appears to have chosen Kong over Driscoll.

"I think what's interesting is that Kong's relationship with Ann ... I think the three of us are very lonely people in a way," Brody said during a press conference in New York last week. "It's more apparent to me after seeing the movie than even in my own interpretation as I was making the movie, how well that plays."

Brody (The Village, The Jacket) added: "The interesting thing about me playing somewhat of an intellectual is I have the capacity of empathizing with him. He is my competition, but at the same time I understand what he sees in her. And I also see the tragedy of it all. But he's very endearing, and gorillas are endearing. They're lovely. It's a different type of relationship. He represented the father figure, so to speak. But I think it works. She didn't choose [Kong] as a lover. She chose him over the brutality that was being inflicted upon him, and there was no alternative, which drove us apart, because I couldn't protect him. But my objective was to protect her, so ... dilemma."

King Kong opens on Dec. 14 and is being distributed by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

New Kong Restores Spider Pit

P eter Jackson, writer/director of the upcoming King Kong remake, told SCI FI Wire that couldn't resist the urge to resurrect the legendary "spider pit" sequence that was excised from the original 1933 movie by director Merian C. Cooper. Footage from that movie vanished, and the only traces of it that remain are in the script, in detailed drawings and in assorted photographs taking during the original production.

"The spider pit scene is, obviously, [speaking] as a King Kong fan, ... a mythic scene that was a sequence in the original film that was cut at the last minute," Jackson said during a news conference last week. "It's become mythic because no prints of it survived, and there's a couple of still images. I wanted to put it in [the new film] as a Kong fan, because I thought it would be really cool to see King Kong and have a version of the spider pit scene in there."

In the scene, Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody) and Carl Denham (Jack Black) find themselves with other survivors at the bottom of a deep canyon, beset by giant bugs and disgusting slug-like creatures. "It was also a rare opportunity for us to show a little bit more of Skull Island, because one of the things that I really like about the story of Kong is the island and all the creatures and all the inhabitants of the island and the way that it's sort of [a] hell-on-earth kind of jungle that's survived over the years," Jackson said. "As much as I like the tyrannosauruses and brontosauruses and classical dinosaurs, I wanted to make sure we put in a few original creepy crawlies on the island as well. So the spiders gave us a chance to do that."

Jackson also helped re-create the original spider pit scene as an extra on the current DVD release of the original King Kong, using 1930s-era film techniques. Jackson's King Kong opens on Dec. 14 and is being released by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Watts Dodged Kong Injury

N aomi Watts, who stars as Ann Darrow in Peter Jackson's upcoming remake of King Kong, told SCI FI Wire that she felt a new pain or endured a new bump nearly every day while shooting the film in New Zealand, but added that one "near-major" accident left her fearing for her life. "I fell down a hole backwards," Watts said during a press conference in New York. "It was a 5- or 6-foot drop. I was a little terrified, because I was in this hole, ditch kind of thing, and my legs were in the air, ... and I was physically jammed."

Watts (The Ring) added: "I couldn't move right away, and I instantly thought, 'Oh, dear, I'm paralyzed or something really bad.' And all I could see is everyone looking down at me going, 'Oh, my God! Is she OK? Is she OK?' And I was going, 'Ohhh, ohhh.' And the medic came over, and he was telling me not to move, and all I wanted to do was move. He was being careful to make sure I hadn't broken anything, but mostly what I could think about was, 'My underwear is on display, and everyone up there is looking at it.' So I knew once I had that thought I must be OK."

In Jackson's remake of the classic 1933 SF movie, Watts plays an actress in the 1930s who joins a filmmaking expedition to a remote island, where she has an encounter with a giant ape, a role that required her to do a lot of physical action. Watts said that when actors shoot action films it's as if they're athletes, and athletes injure themselves all the time, despite every precaution they take themselves and that is taken on their behalf. And she added that she knew going in that King Kong would be a long, physically grueling production.

"All the action stuff ... took about half the time [of] shooting the movie," Watts said. "And it had to happen in a consecutive stretch, so [that] made it very debilitating for me. It's the hardest thing, definitely, I've ever done in film. At times you felt really defeated by it, because you want to be able to do everything, but your body's not up for it. It frustrated [me], because my will was stronger than my physical ability. We stopped shooting for that day, and then I was fine. I attribute it to doing yoga. I'm very flexible, and my body literally went up into a very strange shape."

King Kong opens Dec. 14 and is distributed by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Harryhausen Inspired Kong Crew

R ichard Taylor, visual-effects supervisor on Peter Jackson's upcoming King Kong remake, told SCI FI Wire that he and his team at New Zealand's Weta Workshop were visited during production by legendary F/X master Ray Harryhausen, who served as an inspiration for their work.

"Ray is a very unique and wonderful individual," Taylor said during a news conference. "In our lives, we have had some wonderful opportunities to meet with some very special people, and probably without question Ray is the primary person in that role."

Harryhausen, 85—who won a special Academy Award for his stop-motion animation work in such films as Clash of the Titans and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad—visited Weta for two weeks with his wife, Diana. The visit was arranged as a "thank you" to the crew, which has worked on such films as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

"Both [fellow visual-effects supervisor] Joe [Letteri] and myself were very fortunate to be recognized with Oscars for Lord of the Rings," Taylor said. "But, of course, you never win an Oscar. You go and collect it for a group of people that managed to get us all to that place. We tried to think of a lovely present for our crew, a gift we could give everyone. ... We could buy them a crew jacket. We could throw a big party, and everyone gets smashed. Or, in this case, we came up with something [special]."

Taylor added: "Ray basically came and involved himself in the process of filmmaking at Weta Workshop and Weta Digital in the traditional and the future of filmmaking. It was lovely. Where he had taught all of us so much, we were able to actually have him come and join us, and he was enthralled, absolutely fascinated, by the process of animation through digital effects. We found a huge endorsement from Ray in what were hoping and aspiring to do, and it really made us feel good about heading off down this journey."

King Kong opens on Dec. 14 and is being distributed by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Del Toro Halo Rumor Confirmed

E mpire Online has confirmed rumors that Peter Jackson has approached Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro to helm the eagerly awaited adaptation of the best-selling video game Halo.

But del Toro, who's in Madrid finishing up the Spanish-language fantasy film Pan's Labyrinth, may have a conflict: He told the site that he is also considering directing Hellboy 2, the sequel to his 2004 hit.

"It's going really good," del Toro told the site about the sequel, for which he has completed a script. "It's about the fairy world and the mythical creatures all rebelling against humanity and saying it's the end of mankind and it's the season for the sons of the Earth. And basically Hellboy has to try to repress or suppress that rebellion."

Hellboy star Ron Perlman is coming back, as are the rest of the original cast, including Selma Blair, Doug Jones, David Hyde-Pierce and Rupert Evans, the site reported. Mike Mignola, who created the Hellboy comic series on which the films are based, is also on board. "He should be reading the screenplay right now," del Toro told the site.

As for Halo, based on the Microsoft alien-invasion game? "Well, Halo is very much an interesting project, because it's so full of monsters," del Toro said. "It's a big temptation. I'm in talks with them [Universal Pictures and Bungie Films] and Peter, but it's not true that it's on and Hellboy's off. Hellboy's on. If everything goes as planned, Hellboy will go." Universal is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Narnia Producer Plays Down Religion

M ark Johnson, producer of the upcoming family fantasy adventure The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, told SCI FI Wire that Disney earmarked far fewer dollars than rumored toward marketing the film to religious organizations and outlets. "Hardly any at all," Johnson said in an interview. "It's not a world that I know about. It only represents about 5 percent of the marketing budget for the film."

Narnia, which is based on C.S. Lewis' classic books, has been reportedly marketed in Christian churches and to Christian groups, in light of the source material's thinly disguised allegory of Christianity.

But Johnson played down such reports. "There was a firm hired to do some grassroots, faith-based awareness for the movie, but truly it's less of a budget than we spent making Boy Scouts and church groups aware of the movie," Johnson said. "Somehow people assumed it was much more active than that."

The film version of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia centers on the four Pevensie siblings (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell and William Moseley), who use a wardrobe to leap from World War II-era London to the magical world of Narnia, a land, according to a messianic lion named Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), they're destined to rule.

"There has been [a lot of talk about Narnia's religious allegories]," Johnson said. "I hope that discussion is over with now that people can see what the movie actually is, and I truly believe, perhaps naively, that it's a non-issue. ... I think there are so many people in this country who have read the book, and nobody read it casually; it was really meaningful to them. With that said, it's ... widely read outside the English-speaking world. [Writer-director] Andrew Adamson, I don't know if he told you this, but he suspects that 80 percent of New Zealand has read these books at some point or another. Obviously that figure in this country is much less. But ... it's read by a lot of people, Christians and non-Christians. I do gather that it's read in a lot of Bible classes." The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opens nationwide on Dec. 9.

Spouses Bite Into Underworld

L en Wiseman, writer/director of the upcoming vampire sequel film Underworld: Evolution, told SCI FI Wire that he and his star (and real-life wife) Kate Beckinsale set rules about how they would work together—then promptly ignored them. "We're s--t on that," Wiseman said with a laugh in an interview at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. "We would say that we have rules about it, but we're both very invested in [the work], and ... we're also a fairly close couple. So on set after a take, if she's sitting on my lap or something, you know, there's a lot of just jokes going around about [it]."

Wiseman met Beckinsale on the set of the first Underworld and began a relationship with her that culminated in their marriage in 2004. Underworld: Evolution marked the first time they worked together as man and wife as well as director and actor. And Wiseman said it was impossible to draw a line between work and life. "We set up rules, but it's difficult, as you know, [to] just shut off and [not] talk about work the next day," Wiseman said. "I would say, yes, we definitely set up rules like everybody else. We just don't follow them."

But Wiseman said working with his spouse has been mostly positive. "We had ... on the first [movie] a very common vision of things, and that has definitely transferred over into this film," he said. "But in terms of being married, what does help is that you can direct in shorthand. You know, ... we're a bit like an old married couple. [I can say,] 'You know that thing that you do with your head?' [And she'll reply,] 'Yeah, yeah, where I turn my eyes?' 'Yeah, and you look up.' 'Yeah, when I turn around and do the thing?' ... So that type of thing is great. The downside is that you're personally invested in that person, so if they feel like they're not doing a good job, or ... if she feels that she's not pulling off a certain take the way that I want it as a director, well, I'm also her husband. So it's 'Well, was I disappointing? Was it what you wanted?' And then vice versa, same thing. That ... if she's in a situation where I feel like I didn't quite pull it off the way that she was thinking about it, ... then there's that personal thing. ... And ... you bring work home, also. ... You go home after a really long day, and it's 'How do we work on this scene for tomorrow?' But for the most part it's such a comfort level, ... because we see eye to eye on so much of this stuff. It takes a lot of that tension [away]. ...I think it's a director's job to make the actors feel comfortable. ... If it's your wife, then it's just easier to do."

Underworld: Evolution, which also stars Scott Speedman, opens Jan. 20.

Wiseman Looking To Underworld 3

L en Wiseman, writer/director of the upcoming sequel film Underworld: Evolution, told SCI FI Wire that he's already got plenty of ideas for a third installment in the werewolves-vs.-vampires franchise, which was originally conceived as a trilogy. "Yeah, we have piles and piles of notes and everything," Wiseman said in an interview at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention over the weekend. "We sort of mapped out an entire history and story that we then went into and decided which ... one will embody the first film, second film, third film. ... What it is, more so than three scripts, it is a massive collection of ideas and stories that we're putting out at certain times."

Wiseman came up with the story of the first film with writing partners Kevin Grevioux and Danny McBride; McBride and Wiseman also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming second film, which takes the story of the age-old blood feud into the future and into the past.

When will Wiseman begin drafting a script for number three? "If I feel like there is a desire and a ... reaction from the audience that they want to see more, then, of course, you really get into it," he said. "And also just seeing how the movie does. ... [When] the studio comes knocking on your door and says, 'OK, we need to start going right now,' [that] puts pressure on as well."

In Evolution, Wiseman said, he had a budget of about $48 million, more than twice the $22 million for the first Underworld. "We had more action, more sets, more effects," he said. He added: "There's a lot more going on and fun things to watch. ... And I think [the audience will] find a bit more of an emotional pull with the characters. I think they will be on board with them more, invested with them more. ... [In the] first movie, ... Selene [Wiseman's real-life wife, Kate Beckinsale,] is quite cold throughout the whole thing. And she's now at a point where she's having to rethink everything, and she's now tapping into a little bit of feelings that she hasn't gone to since she has been human, which was ages and ages ago. So it's a bit more of an emotional movie, too."

Underworld: Evolution, which also stars Scott Speedman, opens Jan. 20.

Wiseman Develops Shell Game

W riter/director Len Wiseman (Underworld) told SCI FI Wire that he's developing a new SF movie called Shell Game, which he hopes to set up at Lakeshore Entertainment (Million Dollar Baby, The Exorcism of Emily Rose). "That's a project I wrote with a couple other screenwriters, before [2003's] Underworld, actually," Wiseman said in an interview at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention. "And it's great. It's set about 50 years in the future, and it's about the illegal selling of immortality on the black market. And it's a really cool character piece, and it's quite an exciting project."

Wiseman is currently rewriting the script before prepping the movie for production, which he hopes to begin in Los Angeles next year. "If everything else ... goes well, and I'm happy with the script and everything comes in OK, then I would ... probably [be] getting into prep ... maybe about summertime," Wiseman said. He added: "I'd love to shoot in L.A. It would be a big stage film. It's a full-on science-fiction future world, so it's all constructed and fabricated."

Wiseman said he hasn't begun thinking about casting, but that he won't be casting his Underworld leading lady, Kate Beckinsale, who also happens to be his wife. "No, Kate wouldn't be in that one," he said. "Castingwise, we haven't even started yet."

Wiseman's next movie, the sequel Underworld: Evolution, opens Jan. 20, 2006.

Corman B Films Due On DVD

B -movie king Roger Corman told SCI FI Wire that he will record commentaries for dozens of his movies that Buena Vista Home Entertainment will distribute over the next year, including Dinocroc, Brain Dead, Big Doll House, School Spirit, Welcome to Planet Earth and Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold. Corman said he won't do a lot of preparation for the commentaries, which will appear on the DVD special-edition releases. "I don't like to prepare for the DVD extras. I think it's better to do [them] fresh," the legendary independent producer said in an interview. "And when I do it with somebody else, it's a lot of fun. They're like mini-reunions or parties. ... I'm thinking of the great time I had with Bill Shatner for The Intruder or Angie Dickinson with Big Bad Mama. ... I hope that the good times we were having comes across on the screen."

The first wave of Corman releases hits stores on Dec. 13 and will include Death Race 2000, with a commentary Corman recorded with star Mary Woronov (Calamity Jane). Corman also hosted a new featurette on the DVD called Playing the Game: Looking Back at Death Race 2000, which includes interviews with actor Martin Kove, writer Charles Griffith and others.

Some of the first planned DVD releases will showcase Corman's wide variety of genre films, including Caged Heat, Suburbia, Beach Balls, Loose Screws and Rock 'n' Roll High School. The latter will include an original recording of the punk band The Ramones.

Big Bad Mama will feature a nude scene by Dickinson, who originally balked, but eventually came around, Corman recalled. "She talked about it a little bit in the commentary, and one time she said, 'Oh, one of the nude scenes is coming up, I think I'm going to go and step out of the room.' And I said, 'You can go, but I'm staying here. I'm going to watch it!' She was a sport."

The DVDs will also show that Corman had a knack for picking future superstars to work with, such as directors James Cameron, Joe Dante, Jonathan Demme and Ron Howard and actors Pam Grier, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Tommy Lee Jones and others.

Corman said that he held the release of Fire on the Amazon, starring a then-unknown Sandra Bullock, for two years as she became a superstar; the DVD will feature a racy scene involving the actress. "She asked to see the scene [before it was released] and said it was fine," Corman said.

Disney acquired the library of Corman's cult films and plans to release the titles over the next year. It's unclear how many will be released, but Corman said it's possible there are films he's never seen since they first screened. Now 80, Corman has produced more than 400 movies and directed more than 50.

DinoCroc 2 In The Works

B -movie king Roger Corman told SCI FI Wire that he's working on a sequel to his straight-to-video monster movie DinoCroc and is preparing a few more monster movies involving Greek and Mexican mythology. With regard to DinoCroc, Corman said in an interview: "The movie performed well overseas and got good ratings, so we're working on DinoCroc 2."

DinoCroc, about an illicit experiment that gets out of control and creates a ravenous giant dinosaur-crocodile hybrid, is a project Corman developed for the SCI FI Channel. It starred Costas Mandylor, Charles Napier, Jake Thomas and Joanna Pacula and is being released on a special-edition DVD on Dec. 13.

Corman added that he will soon be developing another project for the SCI FI Channel called Cyclops and expects the movie to give a new view of the Greek legend. He added that he is also delving into the legend of a Mexican monster for Cry of the Winged Serpent, featuring a creature called Quetzalcoatl, the principal god of the Aztecs.

At the moment, Corman is overseeing special effects for the SF/horror film tentatively titled Saurian, directed by F/X guru John Carl Buechler. "We're finished shooting it, but we're not sure about the name yet, and he's working on the special effects," Corman said about the film, which stars Michael Pare, Tracy Scoggins and Nick Mancuso.

Story Back For Four 2

D irector Tim Story has signed on to return for the sequel film Fantastic Four 2, which 20th Century Fox has slotted for release July 4, 2007, Variety reported.

Story's seven-figure deal triples his quote from the first film, which grossed $320 million worldwide. Mark Frost has returned to write the sequel for Fox and Marvel Enterprises.

Story told the trade paper that his decision to return for a second Fantastic Four, based on the Marvel Comics series, was a no-brainer. Bernd Eichinger, Avi Arad and Ralph Winter are producing, and Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis will return as the superhero quartet.

Segal Helming Carell In Smart

P eter Segal has come on board to direct Warner Brothers' upcoming film adaptation of TV's Get Smart, and TV writers Tom Astle and Matt Ember will adapt the show for the big screen, Variety reported. Steve Carell is set to star.

Andrew Lazar will produce for Mad Chance, with Mosaic Media Group's Charles Roven and Alex Gartner. Carell, Mosaic's Jimmy Miller and Callahan Filmworks' Michael Ewing and Segal are executive-producing.

Segal (50 First Dates) most recently helmed The Longest Yard for Paramount Pictures and Sony.

Earlier this year, Ember and Astle sold the spec script Failure to Launch.

Death Race Remake Stalls?

R oger Corman told SCI FI Wire that the remake and update of his classic campy SF movie Death Race 2000—now optioned by Tom Cruise's company—may have stalled, but added that it's one of his few past projects that he would consider remaking himself.

Death Race 3000 has been optioned by Cruise/Wagner Productions, and Alien vs. Predator director Paul W.S. Anderson took a first crack at writing a screenplay that updates Corman's futuristic deadly road race movie. "I'm supposed to be executive producer of the project, but I'm not sure it will happen," Corman said. "Paul wrote the first draft script, but evidently Tom didn't like the first draft."

The 1975 Death Race 2000 was directed by Eating Raoul writer/director Paul Bartel and starred David Carradine as a heroic driver named Frankenstein in a race where drivers score points by running over pedestrians. It also marked the second movie for Sylvester Stallone, who played the rival driver Machine Gun Joe, and co-starred Mary Woronov as the driver Calamity Jane. The original movie is being released in a special-edition DVD on Dec. 13 by Buena Vista Home Entertainment as part of a year-long release of Corman's titles. This one will include an audio commentary by Corman and Woronov. Corman said Stallone would have done the commentary, but had a scheduling conflict.

"Yeah, he would have done it," Corman said, adding that Stallone isn't embarrassed about the campy cult film. "He's very good in it. He plays deadly serious, but he also plays it for humor." Because of contractual agreements, Stallone's name can't headline the re-release but has equal billing now with Carradine.

With hundreds of titles to his name, Corman said he rarely considers remaking any of his movies, but would consider taking a crack at Death Race again when and if the rights of the movie revert back to him in the next year. "I may remake that, and I probably will remake Grand Theft Auto," Corman said.

The first of the Corman collection, coming out on DVD Dec. 13, includes Rock 'N' Roll High School, Big Bad Mama and Dinocroc.

Scalzi Signs Three-Book Tor Deal

S F author John Scalzi told SCI FI Wire that he just signed a new three-book deal with Tor, which will include The Last Colony, the third book in his Old Man's War series. "Whereas the first two books in the series focused on the military, this one dives into the worlds and lives of the colonists in the Old Man universe," Scalzi said in an interview. "The colonists have been in the backdrop for the first two books, and I thought it was time to bring them up front. This doesn't mean there still won't be action and combat: It's not called The Last Colony for nothing."

Scalzi said that the name of the title community is "Masada Colony," a reference to the first-century mountain fortress in southeastern Judea, where fewer than 1,000 Jews held off more than 10,000 Romans for almost two years before succumbing. "Yes, it's intentionally chosen in the book for its metaphorical weight, although I reserve the right not to have the same ending as the actual Masada siege," Scalzi said. "It will also be the swan song of the Old Man universe, at least for a while, while I focus on other books and universes."

Scalzi said the other two books in the deal will also feature war and combat. But Scalzi's keeping mum on them otherwise. "I'm being intentionally vague about these books at this point," he said, adding: "I honestly want certain elements of them to be a surprise to readers."

Before Scalzi gets to any of those projects, he's got a lot of other stuff on his plate. At the moment, he's putting the final touches on Subterranean Magazine's special "Cliche" issue, which he guest-edited. He'll be doing publicity for his Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies and updating his Rough Guide to the Universe for a second edition. A book comprising the entries from his blog, The Whatever, is in the works, and next year will also see publication of two new novels: in February, the sequel to Old Man's War, The Ghost Brigades, and in October, a stand-alone SF novel, The Android's Dream. "It's nice to be busy," Scalzi said.

Study: In-Game Ads Work Well

A new study from game publisher Activision and media research group Nielsen Entertainment found that advertisements inserted into the storylines or background of video games work and that ads tied to gameplay (such as falling billboards in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game) work especially well, the GameSpot Web site reported.

The study is the fourth part of an ongoing attempt by Activision and Nielsen to quantify the effect of in-game advertising with a standardized set of tools. The big finding is that just having a product in a game is good, but having a branded product tied in to the gameplay somehow (as in the Puma sneaker hunt in Activision's True Crime: New York City) is better. More pervasive advertising like this, the study suggested, improves brand awareness and can actually improve a gamer's perception of that brand.

The study also found that integrated advertising often improved the gameplay experience for players. Activision and Nielsen surveyed 1,350 male gamers aged 13-44, having them play MTX Motortrax, Tony Hawk's Underground 2, Need For Speed Underground 2 and NHL 2K6, some with ads enabled, and some stripped of advertising entirely.

Activision and Nielsen reported that "many" of the study's participants said that advertising enhanced their enjoyment of the games, and that gamers remained generally receptive to the practice.

Buckell Creates Writer's Site

S F author Tobias S. Buckell (Crystal Rain) told SCI FI Wire that he's in the process of launching a science fiction and fantasy community Web site called SF Novelists, which will serve as a "collective mindshare" where genre novelists can discuss promotion, craft, contracts and other aspects of the writing business.

Buckell thought it was time that there was an informational support system devoted to genre novelists. "There are workshops, retreats, message boards, market listings, [etc.], and they all seem to cater to short-story writers," Buckell said in an interview. "And even though I am a proud member of the venerable SF/F writers organization SFWA [the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America], most of its members are short-story writers, and so most of the discussion and assistance the organization provides [is] directed at [them]."

Certain areas of Buckell's Web site will only be accessible to its writer members. But the site's other features—including interviews, a forum and chat rooms—will be designed to draw in readers who want to learn more about and interact with their favorite writers.

One of the password-protected areas of the site is its "wiki," or online encyclopedia. "[The wiki] lets any member contribute knowledge, articles [and] points of interest and [lets] any other member add to it, mark it up or discuss it freely and easily," Buckell said. "This way a large group can band together to create a common pool of knowledge: in our case, knowledge related to the business of novel writing."

SF Novelist's homepage will serve as an online promotional tool, and would feature new books by members, highlight interesting discussions in the forums and draw attention to any author appearances or media publicity.

The site is currently under construction, but Buckell expects to launch in March 2006. Meanwhile, Buckell's first novel, Crystal Rain, debuts in February 2006, and he's hard at work on the sequel, Ragamuffin.

McKinney Makes Scarier Movie

W riter/director Ryan McKinney told SCI FI Wire that he and his brother outlined the plot for his as-yet-untitled upcoming supernatural horror movie after seeing a disappointing scary movie. McKinney didn't identify the movie, but added that it was a box-office hit last February. "My brother and I are fans of scary movies, like Rosemary's Baby and Psycho and What Lies Beneath," McKinney said in an interview during a break in filming on his movie's set near Sacramento, Calif. He added: "We went to see this because it was a box-office hit and got [good] reviews, and [we] thought we could do it better. So on the drive home from the theater we came up with this incredible plot."

McKinney's movie is based on a supposed incident that took place in rural El Cerrito, Calif., not far from where McKinney grew up in Northern California. In the 1920s, people in the town were arrested and declared insane after playing with Ouija boards.

"The film is based loosely on what happened in El Cerrito in 1920," McKinney said. "That was the height of the spirit board craze, and 30 or 40 people were arrested, and they found a young lady naked [on the street] who dabbled [with the board]. And we see a little bit about it [in this movie] and see what happened to one of the participants." McKinney said that he wrote the first draft of the 143-page script in five days.

McKinney found a creepy Victorian house in Camino, just outside of Sacramento, to set his movie. The story follows a young married couple, played by Megan Ward (Joe's Apartment, Freaked) and Victor Browne (SCI FI Channel's Tremors: The Series), who move into a Victorian house and find a "spirit board" in the attic. She gives into temptation and plays with the board, causing all hell to break loose. Literally. The movie also stars Lou Diamond Phillips, Pam Grier, Jacoby Shaddix (lead singer of the band Papa Roach), Ellen Albertini-Dow and Christopher Holly. The movie is being produced by Green Flash Pictures, and McKinney's brother Regan shares writing credit. McKinney's younger brother, Rhett, also has a part in the movie. "My brother had to audition with, like, about 50 other people, but he got the part and deserved it," McKinney said with a laugh.

Spielberg, Sommers Collide

S teven Spielberg will produce and Stephen Sommers (Van Helsing) will direct Paramount Pictures' remake of the classic SF movie When World Collide, Variety reported. Sommers will also write the movie.

Sommers, who also directed the two Mummy movies, was aligned with the project when Paramount first made a deal for it earlier this year.

Paramount released the original 1951 When Worlds Collide, directed by Rudolph Mate.

Sommers came back to Worlds in September, when he dropped out of Fox's fantasy film A Night at the Museum due to creative differences, the trade paper reported.

Sommers is already in business with Spielberg as a producer for the DreamWorks movie The Argonauts. He and his production partner Bob Ducsay also are expected to receive producer credits on When Worlds Collide.

Because Sommers had been involved in the project earlier this year, sources said he could give it a quick script turnaround, possibly having a draft done in the next two or three months. He will start writing early in 2006.

Black Sheep Goes Back To Roots

V isual-effects supervisor Richard Taylor (King Kong) told SCI FI Wire that he and his physical-effects team at Weta Workshop in New Zealand are deep in preproduction on their next project, a horror film entitled Black Sheep. Taylor—who most recently worked on such epic productions as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe—described the film as a throwback to his days working with Rings/Kong director Peter Jackson on the director's outlandish and low-budget horror films Meet the Feebles and Braindead.

Black Sheep is "a movie we've been trying to get off the ground for about a year," Taylor said in an interview. "It's a weird sheep movie, where sheep run amok in New Zealand. When there's 40 million sheep and only 4 million people, imagine how messy that could be. These are werewolf sheep, and it's a real horror movie. We're going back to our roots. It's a real Braindead movie, a splatter movie. It's a small New Zealand movie. It's a first-time director [Jonathan King]. It's a wonderful script."

Taylor added: "It's wonderful for us, because it affords us the ability to go back to our roots, to go back to animatronics. It will be mostly done with puppetry and animatronic work. The script is beautiful, and that's where it all starts. It's funny. It's scary. It's wonderful fun, with crazed, bloody, animatronic sheep. The deadline is very, very short, so we have to bring all of our innovative thought to bear on it, but we're all excited about it."

King Kong opens on Dec. 14 and is being distributed by Universal Pictures, which is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

DC Superhero Stamps Coming

T he United States Postal Service announced that it will issue a series of stamps featuring 10 DC Comics superheroes next summer, the first such stamps ever issued by the service. The DC Comics stamps will feature the classic superheroes Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Plastic Man, Supergirl, Superman and Wonder Woman, the USPS said.

The stamps will be sold in sheets of 20; half of each sheet will feature portraits of the characters, while the others will reproduce classic covers of the heroes' comics.

The featured covers will include Plastic Man number four, from the summer of 1946; Batman number one, spring 1940; The Brave and the Bold number 36, featuring Hawkman, June-July 1961; Green Lantern number four, January-February 1961; The Flash number 111, February-March 1960; Wonder Woman number 22 (second series), November 1988; Aquaman number five, October 1989; The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl number one, November 1982; Superman number 11, July-August 1941; and Green Arrow number 15, September 2002.

Dragon Uses Maine's Reality

A uthor James Hetley told SCI FI Wire that he set his latest novel, Dragon's Eye, in Maine because, to many readers, Maine feels like a real place, yet is exotic enough to be a good setting for fantasy. "Maine is a state of dramatic contrasts, with the extremes of weather, unforgiving shore and sea, deep mysterious forests, rugged mountains and older villages and cities that have had time to develop strong personalities," he said in an interview. "The settings tend to be closer to real places, with Stonefort assembled from two or three existing coastal communities, and Naskeag Falls representing a blend of a couple of Maine industrial cities at tidewater. The events in Dragon's Eye and my other stories are totally fictional, although the background history of decaying cities, smuggling and characters living on both sides of the edge of poverty and the law is real."

Teen characters figure prominently in Dragon's Eye, but Hetley is quick to point out that his work is not aimed at the young-adult audience, other than to keep the stories "fast-paced and tightly written, both attributes that may appeal to younger and less patient audiences," he said. Hetley said that he uses teens to complete a community where multiple generations live, but added that the story also follows older characters, especially Daniel Morgan and Alice, keepers of their families' magic. They come together to battle a more sinister evil. There's also enough violence, language and sex to keep this off any young-adult title list.

Hetley has plenty coming up. A sequel, Dragon's Teeth, will be published next year. The author also has completed a prequel, Ghost Point, which his agent is shopping. "Ace (the publisher) would like to see something in a different direction to broaden and increase my sales," Hetley said. "Along those lines, I'm currently working on Signatures, a dark detective fantasy in an urban setting."

Before In Development

T he Hal Lieberman Co. and Gold Circle Films are partnering on the supernatural thriller Before, from writer Niall Johnson (White Noise), Variety reported.

Lieberman will produce with Gold Circle's Paul Brooks, whose company is handling the independent financing of the film.

Before centers on a therapist who investigates a series of deaths at a psychiatric hospital, only to uncover a world of supernatural spirits, possession and reincarnation, the trade paper reported.

In January, Lieberman will begin production on the fantasy film Bridge to Terabithia for Disney and Walden Media.

Marsden Gets Enchanted

J ames Marsden (X-Men) will co-star with Amy Adams in Disney's upcoming fantasy film Enchanted, Variety reported.

Marsden has signed on to play the prince opposite Adams' princess in the Kevin Lima-directed romantic fable, which mixes live action and classic animation.

The story centers on a princess-in-waiting who is banished by an evil queen from the animation world of Andalasia to present-day New York. Once there, the movie turns to live action, and Adams' character attempts to navigate the city, finding true love in the process. Marsden will play the prince who falls in love with Adams' character and follows her into the real world.

Barry Sonnenfeld and Barry Josephson are producing, from a script currently penned by Bill Kelly.

Battle Angel Moves Forward

J ames Cameron is moving forward on his next helming project, the SF thriller Battle Angel for 20th Century Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mali Finn Casting has placed an open casting call online for the lead actress in the new film, based on the Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita.

Fox declined comment and would not confirm that the project has been given the green light, the trade paper reported.

The casting ad calls for female applicants aged 16 to mid-20s who are athletic and agile with graceful movement and have an ear for languages and dialects. Submissions are due Dec. 19, the firm said.

Battle Angel is set in the 26th century and centers on a 14-year-old female cyborg named Alita.

Cameron has said publicly that he is planning to direct two movies back to back using a virtual-reality production process he refined and developed with visual effects cameraman and second unit director Rob Legato. The process is based on a photo-real version of the performance-capture technology used by Robert Zemeckis in The Polar Express.

Battle Angel is the first project to employ the process and is set to come out in summer 2007. The second, known in Cameron circles as Project 880, is slated for 2009, the director has said.

Taylor Pursuing Neon Genesis

O scar-winning visual-effects supervisor Richard Taylor told SCI FI Wire that he is actively chasing his dream of realizing a live-action big-screen version of the cult-favorite Japanese anime series Neon Genesis: Evangelion. The series, set in 2015, centers on four seemingly ordinary Japanese teenagers destined to save what's left of Earth and its population after a supposed meteorite disaster and the arrival of an alien species called the Angels.

"I've just been to Japan pursuing this," Taylor said in an interview while promoting his latest project, King Kong. "I think that is the great untold story to the world. It is sublime. It is arguably some of the most beautiful and poignant animation ever created, and a huge percentage of the pop culture world now know it, but only through a live-action feature film will it transcend that and receive the recognition for the art piece that it is."

Taylor added: "Now actually achieving it as a live-action feature film is extremely difficult to imagine. Technologically, sure, it's doable. But at an esoteric, universe level, it is an unbelievably impacting and dramatic story concept. [It's got] pseudo-religious overtones, and all these wonderful motifs are woven into it. It's something that you can generate over 26 hours of animation, but trying to encapsulate that down into a feature film would be a massive challenge. But we've got the endorsement of GAINAX, the original creators, and with the right director I think it could be a very beautiful movie. I think it's a story worthy of telling. And that's my big pursuit at the moment. I've put an awful lot of energy into it."

Currently, the rights to Neon Genesis: Evangelion are owned by John Ledford and ADV, America's largest distributor of anime. Taylor said that his hope is that his company, New Zealand F/X house Weta Workshop, might assume some role in co-producing Neon Genesis as a feature. "We'll throw our hearts into it regardless," Taylor said. "We'll be blessed just to work on it. But it would be an opportunity for us to look at it at a different level if [Weta were involved in the production]."

Starship Hero Is Non-Violent

S F author Mike Resnick told SCI FI Wire that his book Starship: Mutiny features an unusual character: a wartime commanding officer who gets results without killing anyone. Resnick said he created Cmdr. Wilson Cole because he'd never seen such a character before. "I thought it would be interesting to write about an intelligent officer dedicated to victory, but if he can't blow up the world, so much the better," Resnick said in a telephone interview from his home in Cincinnati. "I put him in a situation where he doesn't have the power or the command of the guns. He's not the captain, and he's not the first officer. He has to use his brain."

In Starship: Mutiny, Cole is a second officer banished to the Theodore Roosevelt, an older Republic spaceship that would be woefully inadequate against any modern warship it might face. The ship is nowhere near the front lines of a galactic war, which is why Cole has been assigned there. He exceeds orders but gets results, earning him numerous commendations but angering his superiors. On the Roosevelt, the captain is a burnout, and the first officer does things strictly by the book. Cole immediately shakes things up.

"He has a lot more freedom of action" than today's military officers, Resnick said of Cole. "Tommy Franks may have plotted the entire Iraq invasion, but he didn't set foot in Iraq until it was over. Dwight Eisenhower [led the Allied forces in World War II], but his greatest strength was that he made peace with all the other generals who were probably better than him, like [George S.] Patton and [Omar] Bradley."

Resnick said that he wrote this book as a character study on an aspect of human nature he has observed over the years: Bosses don't like when a subordinate disobeys an order, even if the underling's way is better. "It works in the military; it works outside the military," he said.

Readers might also notice a swipe at the modern-day press, which Resnick considered the real villain in the book. Today's media, he said, try to make the news rather than just report it. In Starship: Mutiny, Cole uses the television media to his advantage, only to later have them used against him just as effectively.

Mutiny is the first of five books featuring the Roosevelt. Resnick said he is about halfway through the second book, Starship: Pirate, in which Cole still won't fire a shot or kill anyone.

Fox Hears A Who

T wentieth Century Fox Animation has set veteran animators Jimmy Hayward and Steve Martino to direct its computer-animated film adaptation of the Dr. Seuss classic children's book Horton Hears a Who, Variety reported.

Fox has slotted the film for a spring 2008 release. Blue Sky, makers of Ice Age and Robots, will produce the movie.

Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul adapted the book for the screen, and storyboarding has just begun under the supervision of Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri and Blue Sky's Chris Wedge, both of whom are producing.

Audrey Geisel, widow of Theodor Geisel, who wrote the book under the pen name "Dr. Seuss," will act as executive producer. She sold Fox both Horton and an option for a sequel based on Horton Hatches an Egg.

Fox 2000 Circles Orbit

J ohn Nance's SF novel Orbit will be adapted for the big screen at Fox 2000, Variety reported. The book, which is due for publication in 2006, centers on a civilian who wins the chance to join a space shuttle flight, only to find himself alone and adrift in space when the rest of the crew dies.

Jennifer Klein of Apartment 3B Productions will produce the film, and Sheldon Turner will adapt the book for the screen. Turner previously penned the remake The Longest Yard.

Nance has written 17 books and is a licensed attorney and a decorated Air Force pilot veteran of Vietnam and operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

Gellar Back In Grudge 2

T he Hollywood Reporter confirmed reports that The Grudge star Sarah Michelle Gellar has signed on to reprise her role, albeit briefly, in the horror sequel The Grudge 2 for Columbia Pictures and Ghost House Pictures, Variety reported.

Gellar will return to pass the supernatural curse, which was introduced in the first installment, on to the franchise's next lead victim, an actor to be cast soon. Director Takashi Shimizu, writer Stephen Susco and producers Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Taka Ichise also are on board for the sequel, the trade paper reported.

The Grudge 2 is set to begin shooting in Tokyo next month, with the studio eyeing an October release. The first film was a surprise hit for Sony, grossing more than $110 million domestically.

Worldwired Wraps Trilogy

P rolific SF author Elizabeth Bear—whose new book Worldwired completes the trilogy centered on former Canadian special forces warrior Jenny Casey—told SCI FI Wire that sometimes readers don't catch her dry humor. "I've actually gotten a couple of reviews that commented on the humorlessness of the Jenny books, which made me blink a little, because I tend to think of her [as] if she were real," Bear said in an interview. "I mean, as the sort of person whose friends would take her out drinking just to hear what the heck came out of her mouth. So, yeah, there are definitely people who don't find me funny. I sure entertain the heck out of myself, however."

Bear said that the trilogy developed in less than one year. The first volume, Hammered , came out in January, followed by Scardown in July. Bear said that her publisher, Bantam Spectra, deserves some of the credit for that. After Bear completed Hammered, she started working on another book (Blood and Iron) for a different publisher. She then wrote Scardown, though Hammered had not yet been sold. By the time Bantam Spectra bought it, Bear was working on the sequel to Blood and Iron before turning to Worldwired.

"Essentially, I was a good candidate for this kind of push, because I'm something of a compulsive worker, and I generally have a book in progress," Bear said. "Because of that, having two books completed and already knowing rather a lot about the third one—because they do form a complete arc—I was able to deliver them promptly, and Bantam was able to publish them on the delightfully zippy schedule they've given me. As of next year, however, we're dropping back to one book a year through Spectra, which is good, because I couldn't keep up that rate of production!"

Next out for Bear is a collection of 20 short stories and one poem, The Chains That You Refuse, which will appear in May. Blood and Iron will be released in June, before her new novel, Carnival.

Johansson Joins The Prestige

S carlett Johansson (The Island) has signed on for the lead female role in director Christopher Nolan's supernatural film The Prestige alongside Hugh Jackman, David Bowie and Nolan's Batman Begins stars Christian Bale and Michael Caine, Variety reported.

The project is the actress' next film. Shooting starts in January and continues through March in Los Angeles. The story centers on two rival magicians and is based on the novel by Christopher Priest; Nolan adapted the book for the screen.

Nolan is also producing Prestige, along with Emma Thomas and Aaron Ryder.

Briefly Noted

  • Crossing Jordan creator Tim Kring is hard at work on a new superhero TV series for NBC, about ordinary people who come to discover that they have extraordinary super powers, TV Guide Online reported.

  • Dark Horse Comics announced that Hellboy creator Mike Mignola will write the monthly Conan series, including an adaptation of Robert E. Howard's The Hall of the Dead, after which Timothy Truman will take over as the regular writer on the series, starting with issue number 33.

  • Timur Bekmambetov (the Russian SF movie Night Watch) will helm Wanted, based on Mark Millar's superhero comic book, for Universal Pictures as his first major English-language movie, Variety reported; Universal is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

  • Game show producer-turned-writer Jay Wolpert has been hired to adapt Peter and the Starcatchers, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's best-selling prequel to J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan, which Disney is turning into a computer-animated movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

  • Below the Line magazine reported that the upcoming third Pirates of the Caribbean movie will be subtitled Uncharted Waters.

  • A spokesperson for Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling told the Leaky Cauldron fan Web site that her recent comments saying she wanted to kill off the boy wizard in the upcoming seventh and final book in her best-selling series were taken out of context in a gossip column in the British tabloid newspapers.

  • Dread Central quoted The Grudge writer Stephen Susco as confirming that Sarah Michelle Gellar will return in the sequel film The Grudge 2, which begins shooting Jan. 20, 2006, under director Takashi Shimizu in Tokyo.

  • Jack Colvin, best known for playing tabloid reporter Jack McGee in the 1970s series The Incredible Hulk, died last week of complications following a stroke; he was 71, TV Guide Online reported.

  • SCI FI Channel has struck a deal with sister corporate unit NBC Universal Television Studio to bring old episodes of NBC's supernatural soap opera Passions to SCI FI's morning schedule five days a week, starting Feb. 6, 2006, Variety reported.

  • New Line Cinema has tapped U.K. director Iain Softley (The Skeleton Key) to helm the family fantasy film Inkheart for an Easter 2007 release, Variety reported.

  • Production Weekly reported that Elizabeth Banks (Slither) and Luis Guzman are set to join Vince Vaughn in writer/director David O. Russell's as-yet-untitled fantasy comedy film, in which Vaughn plays a radio call-in show host who starts to become his callers.

  • The new teaser trailer for the upcoming third X-Men movie has been linked through SCI FI Wire's Trailers page.

  • USA Today has posted the first images from Brett Ratner's upcoming third X-Men movie, including the first looks at Kelsey Grammer's Beast and Ben Foster's Angel.

  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit garnered 15 nominations for the 33rd annual Annie Awards, to be presented by the Hollywood arm of the International Animated Film Society on Feb. 4, 2006, in Glendale, Calif., in honor of animation in film, television, short subjects and gaming, Variety reported.

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