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A Weekly Digest Of Sci Fi Wire

 September 9, 2002
 September 3, 2002
 August 26, 2002
 August 19, 2002
 August 12, 2002
 August 5, 2002
 July 29, 2002
 July 22, 2002
 July 15, 2002
 July 8, 2002

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The Staff



Farscape Fans Protest

Fans of the SCI FI Channel's original series Farscape have organized rapidly to protest the network's decision not to renew the series for a fifth season. In addition to a number of online petitions, fans—some of whom call themselves "Scapers"—have created Web sites devoted to the "Save Farscape" campaign and inundated SCI FI offices with e-mails, faxes and telephone calls. Fans of Farscape star Ben Browder started collecting money to take out a $2,000 ad in Variety, the Hollywood trade paper, in support of the show.

Some fans have taken to sending in boxes of crackers or empty cracker boxes as part of a campaign strategy, with the slogan "Crackers DO Matter," a reference to an episode entitled "Crackers Don't Matter." The strategy is borrowed from that employed by fans of Roswell, who swamped the offices of The WB and, later, UPN with tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce in an effort to get that show renewed. (The ploy had mixed success.) A planned Sept. 9 protest in front of SCI FI's New York offices was rescheduled for Sept. 12.

The remaining new episodes of Farscape's fourth season will return, beginning January 2003.

Farscape To End

The SCI FI Channel confirmed that it will not pick up its original series Farscape for a fifth season. "There are no bigger fans of Farscape than we here at SCI FI Channel," the network said in a statement. "It was one of SCI FI's first original series and quickly became a critical and fan favorite. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to reach a broader audience, Farscape has been unable to grow beyond its core fan base. That, coupled with the extreme and growing cost of production, has led to the difficult decision to end the series at the conclusion of season four."

The remaining new episodes of Farscape's fourth season will return in January 2003. ADV Films will release "Into the Lion's Den (Part 1)" on DVD and VHS as part of the upcoming Farscape: Season 3 home video release, scheduled for 2003. Previous seasons of Farscape episodes are currently available on DVD and VHS from ADV Films; the newest release, Farscape: Season 2 Volume 2.2, was released last month.

Farscape was created by Rockne S. O'Bannon and produced by The Jim Henson Company, in association with Hallmark Entertainment. The series featured Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Wayne Pygram and Raelee Hill. David Kemper, Juliet Blake, Robert Halmi Jr., Brian Henson and Richard Manning executive produced the show. O'Bannon served as executive consultant.

T3 F/X Break Ground

Pablo Helman, the visual effects supervisor on the upcoming Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, offered SCI FI Wire a glimpse of the ground-breaking effects that will be on display in the much-anticipated sequel. In particular, expect radical new computer-generated effects for the TX, the female Terminator played by Kristanna Loken, Helman said in an interview on the Los Angeles set of the film.

"Well, we are doing some really interesting visual doubling on the TX, on the female Terminator, and also on Arnold [Schwarzenegger]," Helman said. "And it's mainly for safety concerns, stunt cinematography. We're also doing a lot of fluid simulation, which is basically [that] we're taking the skin of the TX and making it into basically liquid metal, but peeling [it] off and revealing a bunch of surprises."

For Schwarzenegger's cyborg character, Helman added that the computer will enhance makeup effects, similar to those used in Steven Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence. "Yeah, what we did is we covered half of Arnold with green screen, basically," to reveal his character's endoskeleton, he said. "This is all new. It's kind of funny, because the last Terminator movie was about 11 years ago, and there were only 47 visual-effects shots. [In this one, there are,] I'd say, probably between 350 and 500."

Helman said that filmmakers developed proprietary software to animate the effects. "I think it will be revolutionary from a scientific point of view, because, like I said, we're developing a lot of fluid simulation, computer simulation stuff that hasn't been seen before. However, the public has such a sophisticated eye that, after everything that we've been doing with visual effects, it's going to be very difficult to make that kind of an impact, although we try."

Helman's team will also work with effects master Stan Winston and his company, who are creating the mechanical robots and other physical effects for the film. "We have rescanned everything, although oddly enough, it actually is our responsibility to take a look at the Terminator franchise and what has been done on T1 and T2," Helman said. "We do think that a lot of fans will want to see some of the things that were begun on T1 and T2, so we're really respectful of that kind of heritage, so we're always looking at T2." Terminator 3 is aiming for a July 2, 2003, release.

T3 Fight Details Leaked

Arnold Schwarzenegger, star of the upcoming Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, revealed to SCI FI Wire details of a key fight between his cyborg character and a new female Terminator, played by Kristanna Loken, during a visit to the Los Angeles set. Schwarzenegger and Loken shot the fight scene, which takes place mainly in a modern public bathroom, over the course of a week at studios in downtown L.A., just before film production wrapped last weekend. Warner Brothers also released an exclusive image from the upcoming film to SCI FI Wire.

"Everything has gone extraordinarily well, except we took a little bit more time, I think, than anyone expected, because there were so many visual-effects shots," Schwarzenegger said in an interview in his trailer this week. He added, "But it's going to be a real spectacle, because we've never really seen a fight scene of two people who are actually machines. One weighs two thousand pounds and one a thousand pounds. So every move you make, towards any piece of wall or door or anything, [it] immediately breaks. So everything has to be rigged. ... Like, for instance, there's a scene where I grab her by the jaw, lift her up in the air and then just throw her down on the ground. So as soon as I throw her down into the ground, the tiles on the ground just break. And then I lift my foot up really high and just step down on her head. And that then makes her whole head crush into below the floor of the bathroom. You have to rig all that stuff, and then you have to cut, and then you have to put the dummy down, because I can't step on her head, otherwise it breaks her nose. ... It's very extraordinary to see the effect it has when two of those machines start letting loose in small quarters like the bathroom area—what happens to the walls, to the ceilings, to the pipes. There's one scene where I throw her against the toilet bowl, and the whole thing just explodes and water shoots out everywhere. Whenever you cause some damage, you have to show also the effects of it. The water coming out, the gas from the gas pipes, water pipes, and all that stuff, sparks flying and all this. It takes a lot of setup and work."

The 5-foot-11-inch Loken, dressed in a short red-leather jacket and matching bell-bottom pants, told SCI FI Wire that it was sobering taking on Schwarzenegger at first. "At first, it was a bit out-of-body in the sense that I am supposed to be overpowering him, and I'm like, 'Yeah, but it's Arnold,'" Loken said in an interview. "But then after a while, you just start believing it, and he's been extremely accommodating and really great to work with, and just such a powerful, wonderful presence. [He's] so skilled in what he does, and it's just been a really wonderful learning experience."

As for the fight, Loken said, "This whole sequence is pretty much the culmination of the big fight. It takes place on three different sets, and the majority of it happens in the bathroom. ... It's different in the fact that you haven't seen anything like it, because it's just sheer force. With the weight of the Terminators and everything, it's a lot of really violent, large-scale things." Terminator 3 is slated for a July 2, 2003, release.

Is Nemesis Journey's End?

Rick Berman, producer of the upcoming sequel film Star Trek: Nemesis, told SCI FI Wire that the latest Next Generation film may—or may not—live up to its billing as "a generation's final journey." "There may be [truth to that]," he said in an interview. "We'll see."

Asked to explain, Berman added, "It's coming from the powers that be. I mean, it's not coincidental. ... This is not happening behind my back. The film is being promoted as 'The final journey is about to begin.' Now there are a lot of ways that one can interpret that, and I'm not about to help you interpret that. You'll have to wait and see."

It's been speculated that Nemesis could mark the final film for the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, though various cast members have previously said they think Paramount would make another one if Nemesis does well at the box office.

As for the film's progress, Berman said, "We've screened it for Paramount. They're crazy about it. We're going to be having some test screenings soon. But the picture's pretty much done." Nemesis heads for theaters on Dec. 13.

Toon Network Nabs Futurama

The Cartoon Network has bought the cable-TV rights to the 72 half-hour reruns of Fox's SF animated series Futurama, Variety reported. Cartoon will schedule Futurama somewhere in its weekly Adult Swim block, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Sundays, starting in January 2003, the trade paper reported.

A Sunday-night success on the Fox Network since it debuted in March 1999, Futurama has slipped in the ratings in the last year or so, the trade paper reported. Fox hasn't made it official, but the show is unlikely to come back after it burns off its final original 16 or so episodes during the upcoming 2002-'03 season, where it's scheduled on Sundays at 7 p.m., the trade paper added.

Fountain Delayed; Pitt Out

Warner Brothers confirmed that production on Darren Aronofsky's epic SF film The Fountain has been postponed and that Brad Pitt has left the movie to play the lead role of Achilles in Troy. The studio offered no indication of when production on Aronofsky's time-leaping movie will move ahead, if ever.

"Although we are disappointed not to be moving forward with The Fountain right now, we remain committed to working with the film's director, Darren Aronofsky, a filmmaker with unique vision and exceptional taste," Jeff Robinov, the studio's president of production, said in a statement.

Pitt added in his own statement, "Given my friendship and respect for Darren and the year and a half we've dedicated to working on this project, I too am disappointed. Still, I remain encouraged that The Fountain will yet have its day."

Reeve Making Super Progress

Superman star Christopher Reeve, who was paralyzed in a riding accident seven years ago, has regained some movement and sensation in his arms and legs, a spokeswoman told the Reuters news service. The news adds to hope that the actor may one day walk again, the news service reported.

Reeve, whose spinal cord was severely damaged when he fell off a horse during an equestrian event, has regained the ability to move his right wrist, the fingers of his left hand and his feet, Maggie Goldberg, spokeswoman for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, said in a statement. "He can now feel a pin prick on the majority of his body and can move some of his joints voluntarily. He can also move other joints against resistance," said Goldberg about the progress made by Reeve over three years in a treatment regimen devised by Dr. John McDonald, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, for each fan who sends Reeve an e-card for the actor's upcoming 50th birthday Sept. 25, one dollar will be donated by an anonymous donor to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation to help find a cure for spinal cord injury paralysis, the foundation's official Web site said.

McG Eager For Superman

Director McG (Charlie's Angels) told Cinescape Online that he's eager to direct the fifth Superman movie, based on the script by J.J. Abrams (TV's Alias). "Superman is looking good," McG told the site. "I have seen a draft of the script, which I could not possibly be more enthusiastic about. That is ideally the next picture, right after Charlie's Angels 2 to go right into Superman."

McG added, "It's a genesis story, and it tells the story of Superman from day one—Krypton, Smallville—all the way through, the whole nine yards. J.J. Abrams is a fantastic talent, and I'm delighted to be partnered with him on that. ... Right now, my energy is going into the one Superman genesis story, because no one has seen it since the [Richard] Donner pictures in the '70s, and that was sort of in a pre-ILM world. I want to have the opportunity to introduce a Superman that takes advantage of the visual effects that we have at our disposal at this time."

New Turtles Games Due

Game publisher Konami will develop video games based on the upcoming new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated TV series, according to 4Kids Entertainment, the co-producer of the series, and Mirage Licensing, which holds the rights. The TV series, which updates the once-popular franchise, is scheduled to debut on Fox in the first quarter of 2003.

The first new game is slated for release during the 2003 holiday season for multiple game platforms, the companies announced. Konami created a dozen Turtles video games during the franchise's burst of popularity in the 1980s and '90s.

Lucas Gushes Over Hulk

Actor Josh Lucas, who has a role in director Ang Lee's upcoming The Hulk, told the C.H.U.D. Web site that the movie is much more than simply a comic-book film. "Hulk was the greatest experience I've ever had making a movie, period," Lucas gushed to the site. "Because of Ang Lee. Nothing comes close. I hope to God I have another experience like that in my career."

Lucas added, "The man is truly ... a genius, and I've never used that word about a single person in this business. ... The thing about the movie is that it's a meditation on rage and repression. It's not just a comic-book summer movie. It's the Ice Storm of comic books. He's making a movie that's totally different from anything you've ever seen. And I'm the bad guy [Talbot]. I've seen it [the computer-animated Hulk character]. You will never see anything like it. Remember when you first saw Jurassic Park? You were like, 'Oh my God.' This technology is 10 years beyond that now, and it's something that's never been put on film, and they have an extraordinary challenge, because they have a director who's not going to let one moment go by that doesn't seem [as if] you're actually watching a beast. ... Most of my stuff is with him, and the stuff they did in Spider-Man, ... this is an evolution of that by far." The Hulk is aiming at a 2003 release.

Harris Makes Spidey His Own

Neil Patrick Harris, who provides the voice of Peter Parker in MTV's upcoming Spider-Man: The Animated Series, told SCI FI Wire that he's not basing his work on Tobey Maguire's performance in this summer's hit movie. "They want Spider-Man himself to be more of a street-talking, sh-t-talking basketball kind of guy, and for Peter Parker to be much more stammery and a different pitch," Harris (Starship Troopers) said in an interview. "They have specific inflections that they want, and it really doesn't have much to do with the film. It's a cartoon, so it's chock full of one-liners. It's fun that during the battles with the villains, he gets to comment on their wardrobe and their lack of skills."

Harris described some of the new villains that Spidey will face in his weekly adventures and confirmed that some of the characters would be voiced by rock stars. "Just by the nature of there being more than one plot, there's got to be more than one villain and more than one situation that he has to fight and win," he said. "We're on our fourth and fifth show, and they're doing a lot of music crossovers. So one of the villains last week was Rob Zombie, and I think Pink might do one. Since it's on MTV, they're doing the music crossovers as best they can. [Zombie] played the head of a bandit organization, a rogue organization that was trying to disrupt the city."

Harris added that fans can expect to see some favorite comic-book villains amongst the new characters. "They're bringing back Dr. Octopus and some regular characters, but we have to do 22 [episodes], so we have to keep adding new people." Spider-Man: The Animated Series will debut in the fall.

Spidey, Bat Suits Recovered

Investigators have found four stolen Spider-Man costumes, valued at $50,000 each, and one $150,000 Batman suit in a probe that stretched from Los Angeles to Japan, Variety reported. The thefts from four different studios were linked by a former studio security guard, Jeffrey Glenn Gustafson, who worked at both Warner Brothers and, more recently, at Sony Pictures Entertainment, the trade paper reported.

Gustafson and another man, Robert Hughes, were allegedly in possession of the custom-made costumes. Gustafson, 35, of Burbank, is charged with two counts of receiving stolen property, while Hughes, 34, of Los Angeles, is charged with one count of receiving stolen property, the trade paper reported. If convicted, Gustafson could get a prison term of up to seven years and eight months, and Hughes could get five years.

The four Spidey suits were reported stolen in April 2001, during production of the hit movie. The Batsuit went missing from the Warner Brothers lot in March 1996, the trade paper reported.

Culver City police served search warrants at locations in Los Angeles and New York, where they recovered three of the Spider-Man costumes. The Batman suit and mannequin were traced to a New York collector, while the fourth Spider-Man suit wound up in Japan, a Sony spokeswoman told Variety.

Earth & Beyond To Ship

Electronic Arts announced today that its massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Earth & Beyond, will ship to stores in North America on Sept. 24. Westwood Studios developed the game.

Westwood will ship a limited quantity of Earth & Beyond to retailers, because it is controlling the release of the game to make certain that new players will have the best experience possible, the company said.

In Earth & Beyond, players become captains of their own starships and live futuristic galactic adventures as they explore, trade and fight with thousands of others, the company said.

Proyas Eyes I, Robot

Director Alex Proyas (Dark City) told Dark Horizons that he's adapting Isaac Asimov's classic SF book I, Robot for the screen. But Proyas told the site that he's not sure a movie version of the book is feasible.

"The visual effects are really, really challenging, and I just want to know if I go into it, that I can actually pull this stuff off with total believability," Proyas said. "We're trying to push the envelope a little bit technically. ... It looks very positive at this point."

Proyas also said his production company just got a draft for a script called Drive, an SF film based on Harlan Ellison's short story Along the Scenic Route, which is "basically about futuristic road rage," the director said. That project is still in early stages, Dark Horizons reported.

Fishburne Producing Sleepwalker

The Matrix star Laurence Fishburne will take on his first role as a producer of a prime-time television series, the tentatively titled Sleepwalker, an action drama for Paramount Network Television and CBS, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The high-concept show follows the adventures of a next-generation superhero, the trade paper reported.

Alan B. McElroy (Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever) will write the show, which has received a rich script commitment from CBS. McElroy will executive produce with Fishburne, Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards, the trade paper reported. Axelrod and Edwards' Paramount-based Axelrod/Edwards Co. and Fishburne's Cinema Gypsy Productions are producing Sleepwalker with Paramount, with Fishburne's manager, Helen Sugland, serving as a co-executive producer, the trade paper reported.

Fishburne is reprising the role of Morpheus in the upcoming second and third Matrix movies, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, which are slated for a 2003 release.

Apes Star Hunter Dies

Kim Hunter, the actress known best to genre fans for her role as Dr. Zira in the original Planet of the Apes films, died of an apparent heart attack in her New York apartment, the Associated Press reported. She was 79.

Hunter played the chimpanzee psychiatrist in 1968's Planet of the Apes and in two sequels, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) and Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), the AP reported. She endured hours in the makeup chair for the role. "It was pretty claustrophobic and painful to a certain extent," she told a reporter in 1998. "The only thing of me that came through was my eyeballs."

Hunter was a versatile actress who won a supporting Oscar in 1951 as the long-suffering Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire opposite Marlon Brando. She also enjoyed a long and busy career in theater and television, the AP reported. Hunter was also blacklisted during the Red-hunting 1950s, but saw her career revive in the 1960s.

Hunter was married to William Baldwin in 1944; they had a daughter, Kathryn, and divorced in 1946. In 1951, she married actor and producer Robert Emett, with whom she sometimes co-starred in plays. Their son was named Sean Robert, the AP reported.

Lost Souls Hits Stores

Canadian game publisher Strategy First said that its sequel video game Earth 2150: Lost Souls has shipped to stores nationwide, the GameSpot Web site reported. Lost Souls is the third game in a series that includes Earth 2150 and The Moon Project.

The new PC game includes three campaigns and a total of 30 missions. The futuristic real-time strategy series has detailed the consequences of a cataclysm that racks Earth in the year 2150, the site reported.

Osbourne Out Of Freaky

Kelly Osbourne (MTV's The Osbournes) has dropped out of the upcoming supernatural fantasy film Freaky Friday, in which she was set to make her movie debut as the musical best friend of star Lindsay Lohan, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Osbourne will be replaced by Christina Vidal as the lead singer of a girls' band.

Osbourne left for personal reasons, sources told the trade paper. Osbourne's mother, Sharon Osbourne, was treated for colon cancer during the summer.

Disney's Freaky Friday is a remake of the studio's 1976 movie of the same name, which starred Jodie Foster.

Corman Backs Captain Justice

Producer Roger Corman will return to movies with Captain Justice, an action comedy about a criminal who impersonates a superhero and the young boy who believes in him, Variety reported. The $3 million movie is slated to begin production next spring, the trade paper reported. Victoria Lakeman wrote and will direct the movie.

Corman will also resurrect his retired comic label, Cosmic Comics, to publish a Captain Justice comic book in tandem with the film's release, the trade paper reported.

The Captain Justice film will be produced as a joint venture of Corman's Ireland-based Concorde-Anoish production company, along with Lily Tyc-Holms' Munich-based Cinne International and Lakeman's Lakeman Pictures in Canada, Variety reported.

Injustice Appears On Justice

Bruce Timm, producer of Cartoon Network's Justice League animated series, told the Comics Continuum that the show will feature the Injustice Gang in an upcoming episode, "Injustice for All." The second part of the episode airs Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"Once you get on a show like the JLA, there are just certain givens that you just have to do," Timm told the site. "You have to do the Injustice Gang or Legion of Doom or whatever you want to call them. What's cool about the Injustice Gang is that they're cool, but they're uncool. They're kind of corny. We tried not to fight the corniness of it. This is the one show where literally all the super villains team up and fight all the super guys. It's just a really fun episode."

The voice cast for "Injustice For All" includes Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Mark Hamill as the Joker and Solomon Grundy, Olivia D'Abo as Star Sapphire, Ian Buchanan as Ultra-Humanite, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Cheetah, Steve McHattie as Shade and Efrain Figueroa as Copperhead, the site reported. Jason Marsden also returns as Snapper Carr, who is a television news reporter in the series.

Fire Damages Pirates Set

A fire broke out on the Disney studio lot on Sept. 10, causing $350,000 in damage to a soundstage where a set was under construction for Disney's upcoming film Pirates of the Caribbean, Variety reported. No one was injured in the blaze, which broke out shortly after 9:30 a.m. on Soundstage 2 in Burbank, Calif., Burbank fire Capt. Ron Bell told the trade paper. The two-alarm blaze was put out in about 45 minutes. Cause of the fire is under investigation.

Disney spokeswoman Michelle Bergman told the trade paper that it's still too soon to say if shooting for Pirates, a film based on the Disneyland ride, will proceed on schedule. The film is currently in preproduction. Pirates is slated for a summer 2003 release.

Rings Card Game Online

Decipher, the company behind a number of trading-card games, said it will post an online version of its Lord of the Rings card game, the GameSpot Web site reported. The online version will be developed by Worlds Apart, which previously created the online games Eternal City and Grendel's Revenge, the site reported.

"The Lord of the Rings trading card game is easily the best [trading-card game] on the market today," Worlds Apart president Scott Martins told the site. "Its accessibility allows you to learn the game quickly, and the depth and sheer fun of the gameplay keep you coming back for more." The Lord of the Rings Online Trading Card Game is scheduled to go live in early 2003, the site reported.

Astin Emcees 9-11 Ceremony

Lord of the Rings actor Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) took part in a Washington, D.C., ceremony to promote the ideal of community service in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, his official Web site said. The United Day of Service—a response to President Bush's call for volunteerism—took place around the country on Sept. 11, with concluding ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial, for which Astin acted as emcee. The program featured the NorthStar Choir and Kelly Clarkson, the winner of the American Idol television show, who sang the national anthem.

"I would love to have Ringer fans in the D.C. area come out and show their support," Astin said in a statement. "This event is all about the community and is very important to me. These people have asked me to help celebrate the idea of community service. I want to demonstrate with my own actions that community service is important, especially now. It means so much to give back to the community, and I greatly appreciate you all coming to join the spirit of our gathering while we celebrate this idea. I will be at the Pentagon in the morning with the president. Then I hope to see all you Ringers come out to the Mall, where we have our event at the Lincoln Memorial."

Shadowbane Delayed

Ubi Soft and Wolfpack Studios announced that Shadowbane, the upcoming massively multiplayer role-playing game, will arrive in stores early next year instead of in November, as originally scheduled, according to the GameSpot Web site. The companies attributed the delay to an extension of the beta test period through the holiday season and into early 2003, the site reported.

Shadowbane is a fantasy-themed role-playing game that allows players to interact with thousands of other players in an online world full of monsters and treasures.

He-Man Sticks Neck Out

Dean Stefan, story editor for Cartoon Network's upcoming new He-Man and the Masters of the Universe series, told SCI FI Wire that the updated show will explore the struggles of supporting characters, not just He-Man. One episode, for example, deals with Mek-a-Nek's identity crisis, he said in an interview.

"We would joke around that he's surrounded by all these fantastic guys, but basically he has the power to stretch his neck," Stefan said. "How would you feel if you were the guy like the punter on the football team? He's the little guy, all he can do is stretch his neck, how would that feel? So that became the basis of a story. Mek-a-Nek thinks his powers suck. What would he do about that?" The episode deals with Mek-a-Nek's fear that he's obsolete within the group. "A really funny twist is Prince Adam says, 'Mek-a-Nek, you're important. You do reconnaissance. You're like the periscope.' Next thing you know, Man-at-Arms has created a new device and says, 'This does reconnaissance and sees over things.' So the one power he's got is invalidated."

Stefan promises that each episode of He-Man will be based on character needs, not just on action scenes. "All the stories are anchored in an inner need of the character or a story arc, as you'd say," he said. "I think that only makes the kick-ass battles richer, because if you don't care about the characters, it doesn't matter how much action there is." He-Man and the Masters of the Universe airs Friday afternoons as part of Toonami.

Episode II Cloned For IMAX

Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones will screen in the giant IMAX format in 70 of the big-screen theaters, starting Nov. 1, Variety reported. Fox plans to unspool Episode II in about 50 IMAX commercial venues in the U.S. and Canada and another 20-30 IMAX theaters in science museums and other institutions for about seven weeks, the trade paper reported.

There are currently no plans to distribute the IMAX version internationally. Episode II is also headed for home video on Nov. 12.

Goss Back In Blade III

Luke Goss, who played the villainous reaper Jared Nomak in Blade II, told the Teletext Web site that he will return for the anticipated Blade III—even though his character perished at the end of the vampire sequel. "I don't know how I reappear in the movie," Goss told the site. "It's possible I emerge from the embryos that you see at the end of Blade II. I'd like to appear in less makeup."

Goss added, "Writer David Goyer is thinking about a Planet of the Apes-type of twist. It's very, very interesting." Goss said that star Wesley Snipes will also return as the vampire killer. "Wes has his own agenda," Goss said. "I want to make Blade III; he wants Blade to get laid."

Goss also said that he is seeking a part in Angelina Jolie's upcoming Tomb Raider 2. "Director Jan de Bont wants me, but it's down to scheduling," he said.

TNT/TBS Get Signs Rights

Turner Broadcasting's TNT and TBS outbid ABC Family for the cable TV rights to M. Night Shyamalan's hit SF movie Signs, Variety reported. ABC is expected to win broadcast rights to the Touchstone movie; both Touchstone and ABC are owned by Disney, as is ABC Family.

The license fee for Signs is in the $30 million-plus range, the trade paper reported. Signs will likely appear on TNT/TBS starting in June 2006. Signs, starring Mel Gibson, has already surpassed $200 million at the U.S. box office and is still going strong, the trade paper added.

ABC, TBS and TNT have also negotiated an exclusive network-window deal with Disney's Buena Vista for another of its summer thrillers, Reign of Fire.

Bell Rings Up Bruce

TV star Catherine Bell (J.A.G.) will join Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston and Morgan Freeman in the upcoming supernatural comedy film Bruce Almighty for Universal, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Tom Shadyac is directing the film, which is currently in production.

Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a New York television reporter who is discontented with nearly everything in life, to whom God (Freeman) hands over the power to rule the universe. Bell will star as Carrey's co-worker, a fellow newscaster, the trade paper reported.

Ritter In, Renfro Out Of Freddy

The Hollywood Reporter confirmed previously reported rumors that Brad Renfro has left the upcoming supernatural horror film Freddy vs. Jason, to be replaced by Jason Ritter (Swimfan). Monica Keena and Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland also star in the New Line Cinema movie, which pairs horror icons Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) and Jason Voorhees.

Ritter and Keena will play members of a group of friends who team up to spark a battle between Freddy and Jason, the trade paper reported. Renfro's exit was attributed to creative differences, the trade paper added. Ritter is the son of actor John Ritter (Three's Company).

Tooth Pulled For Darkness

The Fangoria Web site reported that the upcoming supernatural horror film Tooth Fairy will change its title to Darkness Falls. Producers had reportedly been mulling other titles, including Don't Peek, The Ghost of Matilda Dixon and Fear of the Dark.

The film, about a killer tooth fairy, stars Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Emma Caulfield and is slated to open Jan. 31, 2003, the site reported.

Roach To Get Used?

The Coming Soon Web site reported a rumor that director Jay Roach (Austin Powers in Goldmember) is eyeing Used Guys, an SF comedy film with Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Mickey Birnbaum reportedly wrote the script, set in a near-future Los Angeles in which women buy and trade men like used cars.

The film was originally written in 1998 and recently put into turnaround at Columbia.

Hall Zones In On Season Two

Anthony Michael Hall, who stars as Johnny Smith in USA Network's original series The Dead Zone, told SCI FI Wire that work is underway on season two, even as the series winds up its first season on the air. "They're already working on storylines," Hall said in an interview. "I received two outlines, which were great."

Added Hall, who also co-produces the show, "One of the things I'm going to do when I get back to Los Angeles [from Vancouver, B.C., where the show is shot,] is spend more time with [head writers/producers] Michael and Shawn [Piller] and the rest of the writers, because I want to get a sense of some of the ideas they have in mind. I want to raise the stakes. I think, as we've seen with hit shows on HBO, for example, that you always have to raise the bar and give [the audience] more than what they expected. And that's a challenge for everybody, the actors as well as the writers. We want to improve upon what we have already." The Dead Zone concluded its first season on USA with "Destiny," at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Sept. 15. Repeats air on the SCI FI Channel at 8 p.m. Fridays. USA Network and SCI FI Channel are owned by Vivendi Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.

Schrader Possessed By Exorcist

Paul Schrader, who steps in for the late John Frankenheimer directing the fourth Exorcist movie, told USA Today that he's ready to begin production in North Africa on the film, which is now set to open July 18, 2003. "I'm leaving in two weeks for Morocco," Schrader (Cat People) told the newspaper. Production begins Nov. 4 on the Warner Brothers film.

Stellan Skarsgard will play Father Merrin, the role originally played by fellow Swede Max von Sydow in the first Exorcist film. Skarsgard plays Merrin as a missionary who does an exorcism in post-World War II Africa, the newspaper reported. Skarsgard stepped in for Liam Neeson, who left to shoot Love Actually.

"I haven't made a studio film in 20 years, and I always liked that Exorcist thing," Schrader added. "It's so rife with metaphors. It seems like a nice chance to work on a big canvas. My salary didn't improve much, but I got about $40 million for the budget."

Ghost Echoes Other Films

Steve Beck, director of the upcoming supernatural thriller film Ghost Ship, told SCI FI Wire that the haunted-ocean-liner movie differs from the similarly themed Virus and has more in common with The Shining and Aliens. Like Virus, Ghost Ship tells the story of a salvage crew that stumbles upon an apparently abandoned vessel. But in this case, the crew—led by Epps (Julianna Margulies) and Murphy (Gabriel Byrne)—finds a 1953 luxury liner, not a modern ship, and the vessel turns out to be haunted.

"I think what we strived to do with this one was essentially create more humanity within the characters themselves," Beck said in an interview. "There's a bit more complexity in what's going on with these persons. It's not just a bunch of folks who find themselves on a ship, and then there's a killer on board that starts taking them out. It has more to do with their wants and their desires and how that manifests itself, and how the human condition reacts to that. So hopefully at the end of the day there's a bit more of a human story involved with it."

Beck added, "In this story we have one sort of set of ghosts—the ghosts that are on this ship—and these ghosts are sort of stuck in this limbo, and so I wanted to present them as such. Not as horrific-looking things [as in Beck's previous film, Thirteen Ghosts,] but as these passengers. Much like the bar room in The Shining. They're there. It was a bit of an homage to Stanley [Kubrick] in that regard. It's a beautiful era we're capturing. We wanted to just basically just let that play itself out and not lose it."

As for Margulies, Beck said, "Julianna is an amazing actress, and essentially looking for the role of Epps we kind of went to initially and looked at Aliens. Why did it work? Well, you believe Sigourney Weaver. From the moment she woke up, you believed her. And as far as Epps goes, she's a cuss-mouth deckhand, a hard worker who just doesn't take sh-t. And there's not too many female actors out there that can actually pull it off believably. In Julianna's case, not only did she do that, but she also showed a very endearing human side, because she loves her crew. She's kind of the den mother to these people, and she displayed all these wonderful attributes under those conditions. You believed her as Epps from the get-go." Ghost Ship opens Oct. 25.

France Honors Cronenberg

The French government will honor Canadian genre filmmaker David Cronenberg (eXistenZ, The Fly, The Dead Zone) with the National Order of the Arts and Letters during a presentation of the director's latest film, Spider, at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Zap2It Web site reported. France's ambassador to Canada, Philippe Guelluy, will present the award to Cronenberg during the gala evening. The award will bump the director from French Chevalier to the rank of officer, the site reported.

The order is given out twice annually to a few hundred people worldwide. The recipient receives a certificate and is entitled to wear an insignia, a medal suspended from a ribbon of white stripes against a green background, the site reported.

Gaylactic Awards Presented

Organizers announced the winners of the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards, created by the Gaylactic Network, an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender fans of SF, fantasy and horror. The awards honor works that deal positively with gay characters, themes and issues.

The Gaylactic Spectrum Awards Foundation was recently created, with the assistance of the Gaylactic Network, to manage and further the mission of the awards to educate and raise awareness of such content in SF&F. Regular awards were presented in three categories for works originally released in 2001.

The 2002 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards were presented at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, Calif., on Sept. 1. A list of winners follows.

Best Novel

The Song of the Earth by Hugh Nissenson

Best Short Fiction

•"Kindred" by Alexis Glynn Latner

Best Other Work

Bending the Landscape: Horror, Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel, eds.

Gaylactic Spectrum Awards Hall of Fame

Alpha Flight, issue No. 106, by Marvel Comics
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany
The Female Man by Joanna Russ
Was by Geoff Ryman

'Ackermansion' To Be Sold

Longtime SF editor and literary agent Forrest Ackerman is selling off his legendary Hollywood house, nicknamed the "Ackermansion," and his collection of SF movie memorabilia to pay legal bills, the Los Angeles Times reported. The two-story, 5,800-square-foot mansion, perched on a winding street in the hills above Hollywood, once had more than 300,000 SF and horror film items crammed into every nook and cranny, the newspaper reported.

Ackerman reportedly led more than 50,000 fans on personal tours of the house and the ragtag collection of memorabilia, including movie posters, paintings and masks of screen legends like Boris Karloff, as well as costumes and props from classic SF movies, the newspaper reported.

Ackerman, the former literary agent for such authors as Ray Bradbury and founding editor of the cult magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, is selling the house, which was listed for $1.3 million and is now in escrow, the Times reported. In addition, Ackerman, 85, said he is liquidating his memorabilia collection to raise money to pay for an expensive legal fight against his onetime business associate, Ray Ferry.

Ackerman now lives in a rented five-room house in Los Angeles with a few of his most-treasured items, including a replica of the female robot from his favorite film, Metropolis.

Briefly Noted

  • The full new trailer for the upcoming sequel film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has gone live on the official Web site. Chamber opens Nov. 15.

  • Colin Farrell, who co-stars in the upcoming Daredevil movie, denied to USA Today that star Ben Affleck wears a toupee, as rumored. "There's really a rumor going round that he wears a toupee?" Farrell asked. "Guess what? I'm supposed to be Batman [in the proposed Batman vs. Superman]. Don't believe anything."

  • The MovieHole Web site reported that Morgan Creek has changed the title of the fourth Exorcist movie to Exorcist: The Beginning. Meanwhile, Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Frank Herbert's Dune) has signed on to the prequel movie, the site reported.

  • Dark Horizons reported that the upcoming straight-to-video sequel film Left Behind II: Tribulation Force is set for Oct. 29 and will include a commentary track, a "making-of" featurette, a teaser for Left Behind III, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, a special-effects demo reel and other features.

  • The new trailer for the upcoming Star Trek: Nemesis movie will be posted to the official Trek Web site at 10 a.m. PT on Sept. 23, not Sept. 18, as originally announced. The trailer for the 10th Trek movie will debut on television during the Sept. 18 premiere of UPN's Twilight Zone, which airs at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Nemesis opens Dec. 13.

  • reported that the upcoming superhero movie Daredevil and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report may both appear in IMAX formats as well as in traditional theatrical releases. Daredevil opens in February 2003.

  • The visual-effects team responsible for the special effects on Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and the upcoming Firefly have struck out on their own by creating a new F/X firm, Zoic Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Executive producer Steve Schofield and creative directors Chris Jones and Loni Peristere left Radium, a digital-design firm based in San Francisco, to form their own self-financed venture in Culver City, Calif., on Sept. 4, the trade paper reported.

  • The Trek Web site posted a summary of UPN's new three-minute trailer for the upcoming second-season premiere of Enterprise, "Shockwave, Part 2," which airs Sept. 18.

  • The premiere of The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius on Sept. 6 was the highest-rated debut in the network's history, both among its target kid audience and in total viewers, the Zap2It Web site reported. About 4.3 million people watched the debut, surpassing ChalkZone's 4 million viewers last March.

  • UPN released details of upcoming stories to be featured on its new Twilight Zone series, airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT Wednesdays, starting Sept. 18. "Shades of Guilt" stars Vincent Ventresca (The Invisible Man) as a man who turns a blind eye to the plight of an innocent victim based solely on the color of his skin. "Dream Lover" stars Adrian Pasdar (Mysterious Ways) as a graphic novelist whose dream woman (Shannon Elizabeth) comes to life.

  • The Web site has posted new images from the upcoming sequel film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which opens Dec. 18.

  • The Gotham Clocktower Web site has posted a new image of Mia Sara as Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn, from The WB's upcoming Birds of Prey series, which debuts Oct. 9.

  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines wrapped principal photography early in the morning of Sept. 9, with a shoot on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in which the female Terminator (Kristanna Loken) arrives from the future dressed in only her birthday suit, Variety reported. T3, which is slated for a 2003 release, shot for 101 days mainly in and around Los Angeles.

  • TV Guide Online reported that Verne Troyer (Mini-Me in the Austin Powers films) had his appendix removed last week.

  • MGM has updated the official James Bond Web site to highlight the upcoming 20th Bond movie, Die Another Day, which opens Nov. 22.

  • The IGN FilmForce Web site has posted what it says are images from the Malta set of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen film, now in production.

  • UPN has released details of the upcoming Enterprise second-season episode "Carbon Creek," slated to air at 8 p.m. ET/PT Sept. 25. The season's second new installment deals with T'Pol (Jolene Blalock) and her revelation to Capt. Archer (Scott Bakula) that her great-grandmother T'Mir and three other Vulcans made first contact with humans in the 1950s, much earlier than believed.

  • Warner Brothers has posted a Flash teaser Web site for its upcoming supernatural horror film Ghost Ship, which opens Oct. 25.

  • The wife of Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton has filed for divorce in a Los Angeles court, seeking to end their 13-year marriage, the Reuters news service reported. Anne Marie Martin Crichton has lived apart from her husband since August 2001, when they moved from New York to Los Angeles.

  • The WB has posted an online store selling items related to its Smallville series, which kicks off its second season on Sept. 24.

  • Signs ranked fourth in the box-office top 10 during the weekend of Sept. 6, dropping from the top slot it held for the last two weeks, the Hollywood trade papers reported. The SF thriller film took in about $8 million, raising its total so far to about $205.8 million, becoming the fourth-highest-grossing film of the year.

  • The Moviehole Web site reported that Amanda Plummer, John Kapelos and Lance Henriksen will star in Mimic: Sentinel, the theatrical sequel film that is beginning production in Romania.

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