Monday, June 29, 2009

UPDATED: Rumor control--Is Iron Man 2's Downey a real hero? What's Stan Lee's cameo?

[Updated: Paramount confirmed that the story about Iron Man 2 star Robert Downey Jr. is absolutely not true.]

The Web rumor mill centers on Iron Man 2 today, with reports of star Robert Downey Jr.'s reported real-life heroism and comic legend Stan Lee's rumored cameo role. (Spoilers ahead!)

First, the Irish IOL Entertainment site reports that Downey rescued an injured extra during the shooting of a scene:

The 44-year-old actor halted shooting on Iron Man 2 and rushed to help the man, who had been injured during a scene. A source said: "Robert charged into a live scene yelling, Cut! Cut! The extra was writhing on the ground in agony after a rampaging evil robot smashed him flat". The extra had been involved in a sequence which saw a group of people running away from a group of robotic villains. ... Robert called for paramedics and comforted the man until they arrived. The injured extra was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a broken hip.

Now we're big fans of Downey and believe this is just the kind of thing he would do, but given our experience with U.K. Web sites reporting all kinds of outlandish things, not to mention its dubious anonymous "sourcing," we kind of knew this was bogus.
In the meantime, our pals at report a rumor about the cameo casting of Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee. Fans know he's had a walk-on in virtually all Marvel-themed movies. Here's what an anonymous source told Collider:

"Since I hadn't read this news anywhere, I wanted to let you know Stan Lee filmed his cameo for Iron Man 2. I was told Stan filmed earlier this week, and he was dressed as Larry King. The scene has Stan asking Tony Stark when he's going to be on his show."
Iron Man 2 is still in production with an eye to a May 7, 2010, release.
sci-fi wire...

How weird is True Blood going to get this season? A preview

Think True Blood is getting weird with that teenage vampire "intern" or the underground cells? It's only going to get weirder, according to Carrie Preston, who plays Arlene Fowler on the show. Explicit violence and nudity are nothing compared to what's in store for season two.

"It gets more bizarre," Preston said in an exclusive interview last week in Burbank, Calif., where she represented the show for its Saturn Award nomination (it didn't win). "Like, truly dark and bizarre. It was pretty explicit last year, but I guess they have to go somewhere from last season."

So far in the first two episodes of the season, Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is trying to make peace with Bill's (Stephen Moyer) commitment to the new vamplette, and Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is trying religious abstinence camp. Preston told fans to expect even bigger surprises.

"Oh, my gosh, you're going to see characters do things that you would never expect them to do," she said. "You're going to see them do things they would never expect themselves to do. It goes to a pretty crazy place."

As for Arlene's crazy character shifts, "You'll just have to wait and see. Let's just say there are some things that are beyond her control."
True Blood debuted last year and became HBO's newest hit. Based on the novels by Charlaine Harris, the series began with the conflict of a telepathic girl trying to date a vampire in a world where synthetic blood permits "safe" interactions between vampires and humans. After developing all its supporting characters and story arcs, Preston said that work on season two has felt as though it is on a surer footing.
"It's just much more exciting," Preston said. "There's a relaxed feeling. We all know that we're kind of in it now, and people are liking what we're doing, so we can feel free to keep doing what we're doing, because apparently it's working."

Evan Rachel Wood joins the cast at the end of the season as the lesbian vampire queen of Louisiana. Arlene will not get to encounter Wood just yet. "Mm-mm, I don't have any scenes with her, so I haven't met her, but she's shooting right now. We're shooting the final episode right now."

True Blood airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO
sci-fi wire...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

X-Men writer Zak Penn breaks his silence about adapting The Avengers

Screenwriter Zak Penn is already scratching his head about how to piece together and overlap stories from three, maybe four or more movies as he sits down to write The Avengers this summer, based on the Marvel Comics superheroes.

Penn was on a panel Tuesday night called "Graphic Explosion" at the Los Angeles Film Festival in the Westwood Village area of Los Angeles, along with History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson and Radical Publishing co-founder Barry Levine. During the question-and-answer segment, Penn answered some questions he said "I might get in trouble for."

Penn said he ran into frustration while writing the last two X-Men movies because he wanted to include a few of the other characters—the Fantastic Four, for instance—but was prevented by studio executives. That, perhaps, led to the ho-hum response to his Incredible Hulk movie.

But Penn is aware that Marvel movies coming up—with Iron Man, Thor and Captain America—will precede his Avengers film (slated for 2012), so he has to figure out how all the movies fit together. Now that Marvel is itself producing movies as a company, Penn said, "It is a world of difference; it is a lot easier to do things like that, and they encourage it."

Penn said he is meeting this coming week with the team writing the other movies so they can piece together storylines and overlap some of the film plots.

"They're doing Captain American and Thor first, and then Avengers is coming out," Penn said. "They want to see that they're all connected, not like the Fantastic Four can't come into the X-Men world, like I was told. I'm taking a meeting next week with the Thor and Captain America people, and we are all going to get together, and I will see what is going to happen. I'll see where they are leaving the characters; it's pretty complicated. ... There's a board that is tracking what is happening. [We'll see] how this movie overlaps in that movie. ... Marvel is autonomous now. It is night and day:
Everyone has read every comic. They know how to make a cool movie."
And although Penn holds the responsibility for bringing all the characters of the other films together, he remains insecure. "It's hard to make a good movie," he said. "We all have the best intentions, and it still might suck."
sci-fi wire...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why Shyamalan let us on the Airbender set, what we saw and why it's special

After the less-than-stellar critical and box-office reception for his last two films, Lady in the Water and The Happening, director M. Night Shyamalan might have been expected to crawl into a hole somewhere dark and secluded, where he could ruminate over what went wrong.

Well, we're here to tell you he's holed up somewhere dark and secluded all right, but there's not an ounce of self-flagellation. Matter of fact, in the bowels of several massive complexes in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Shyamalan has gone in a direction that would surprise most: The man's gone epic in his new movie, The Last Airbender.
On June 16, SCI FI Wire was among a small group of reporters invited to visit the top-secret set of Night's upcoming live-action adaptation of the popular Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender (the movie loses the "Avatar" to avoid confusion with James Cameron's own upcoming sci-fi epic).
This is no small thing: It's the first time that Night has let the press set foot on one of his locations or soundstages. On his previous films, lockdown was the name of the game.

So on this day it's something special for Night to give our small group carte blanche to observe the shooting of a pivotal character reveal, get a guided tour of the film's massive sets and even chat with him and much of his cast. The new openness is probably a response to the very public hits he's taken, but it's also part of Night's choice to stretch himself to outrageous new heights with some of what may be his savviest creative decisions in some time.

The movie marks a lot of firsts for Shyamalan. The Last Airbender is the first film he hasn't created strictly out of his own head; rather, it's based on the work of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who created Nick's series. It's the first film he's shooting on extensive green-screen stages. And it's the first film for which he left Philadelphia to shoot some scenes (more on this later).

Fans of this engaging animated series will know that the story centers on a fantastical world that is separated into peaceful nations that represent the four elements: Air, Water, Earth and Fire. That tranquility is shattered when the Fire Nation wages a campaign of destruction against the other three nations with the intention of ruling them with an iron fist.

Over the course of a century, the world is nearly shattered by relentless battles until the only hope for peace appears in the form of Aang (Noah Ringer), a bald little boy with some serious kung-fu skills. An Airbender from the Air Nation, Aang discovers that he is the legendary Avatar, the lone human who can harness the powers of each element to restore balance to the ravaged world. Together with Katara (Nicola Peltz), his Waterbender best friend, and her headstrong brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), Aang reluctantly goes on the journey to fulfill his destiny of restoring the world through his remarkable gift of "bending" the elements to his will.

Cast with relative unknowns or up-and-coming performers such as Slumdog Millionaire's Dev Patel as Fire Nation bad boy Prince Zuko, The Last Airbender is nothing less than Night's opportunity to create his own mythic cinematic series, his own Star Wars for this millennium. And the structure is already set up for him, since the animated series is conveniently broken up into books based on each element. The film series will follow suit, with the first film adapting Book 1: Water and subsequent sequels focusing on the next elements. And from the looks of the first film location we're taken to, this is not a franchise that is being created on the cheap.

In the heart of an old, decaying automotive factory about 10 miles outside of Philly, Night's army of 600 craftsman, techies and designers have filled every corner of a massive warehouse with detailed sets that are dizzying in their sheer number, scale and attention to detail. Gone are Night's trademark claustrophobic spaces and intimate environments, traded for the gigantic bow of a Fire Nation warship that serves as a staging area for our group.
Across the way, there's a monastery set with columns of intricate bronze prayer wheels sitting idle in the dark. And along the walls behind everything hang green-screen curtains that will be replaced with computerized set extensions and visual effects for each and every scene.

Before we are allowed to wander the space, producer Frank Marshall references the drapes and says, "We are creating a completely fantastical, make-believe world. A couple of firsts on this film for Night: One is shooting all this green screen. He's never really done much of that before ... at all. And we went out of Philadelphia for the first time. We went and shot in Greenland for three weeks. It's really the first time he's shot on location, and that's another reason Kathy [Kennedy] and I were called [to produce,] because we have a lot of location experience with these big kinds of movies. He's expanding his talent and range, and that's what I find exciting about it. He's taking his filmmaking style and applying it to this fantasy world, which he hasn't done before."

We walk a few yards away from the mouth of a white "ice" cave, carved from foam and plastic and covered in a blanket of faux snow. Its steps lead into the mouth of a darkened bluish-gray cave that twists along for 40 feet before the path opens up into a glorious chamber that looks as if it was plucked from the canvas of a beautiful Asian landscape painting. High walls rise to create a cocooned oasis of (now dry) koi ponds, with green moss banks that lead to the stunning focal point: a towering, twisted-limbed, resplendently blooming cherry tree filled with blossoms. Even with the set not fully dressed for filming, the tree is a breathtaking vision, with 3,500 hand-placed tiny pink blossoms. It's called the Spiritual Place, where Aang will meet the Moon Spirit, and it elicits authentic goosebumps for what this place will look like once captured on film.

Eventually we come to the live set of the Northern Air Temple, where Night breaks away from his star Ringer, the delightfully enthusiastic anchor of this whole film. It's a relatively relaxed Night who ambles up to take stock of what he's creating around us. With about two weeks left of principal photography, Night admits he's coming out on the other side of a humbling process.

"It's been such a great growing experience for me as a director and a human being, because I am a complete control freak," Shyamalan says with a grin. "You know, I feel like a little bit of pain when I look at a frame and it's not right and I have to correct it. This has taught me there are just so many factors going on; it's doing two and a half times a [normal] movie of mine, so it made me go back a little bit and become a student. Any time you can become a student again, that's the way to do it. You learn again, and you are open about everything. I felt like I've become a much better filmmaker, because I have had to go through this process where it's just not possible for me to do that for 400 extras with the action going on. It's overwhelming. I am scared to death."

Shyamalan laughs with sincerity. "There are two and a half weeks left of not being as scared to death, but there were plenty of days where I was scared to death of what I'm doing," he admits.

One can only imagine what Night looked like a few weeks ago in the snows of Greenland or on the first day he shot on the biggest set ever created for a movie on the East Coast (which is inside an old airplane hangar about 15 miles away). But today he's got that famed Night confidence on full display, enthusiastic about how it's coming together.

"It's so original, which has always been my hope: that it's not like anything else," Shyamalan explains about his vision for Airbender. "It's not really Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or The Matrix or Pirates of the Caribbean. But there is a little bit of this and that, with me smothered all over it. There is pathos in it, yet it's really fun. You pray that it will find its own personality and will be its own self and the world will appreciate it for that."The Last Airbender opens July 2, 2010.
sci-fi wire...

Why Johnny Depp worried about being fired from Alice in Wonderland

Johnny Depp made a dramatic switch to play the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland after starring in this summer's historical crime drama Public Enemies, in which he played real-life gangster John Dillinger.

"The Hatter was awfully fun," Depp said in a news conference on Monday in Beverly Hills, Calif. "After doing something like John Dillinger, a performance where it's somewhat restrained because of the responsibility you have to that guy and his memory, that Mad Hatter was like being fired out of a cannon. The Hatter was great fun, and, again, it's one of those things that you're just amazed you weren't fired. I truly am."

Depp plays the Mad Hatter in Burton's vision of the Lewis Carroll tale. Combining practical costumes, motion capture and 3-D computer animation, Burton is adding new levels to an aesthetic that already bears his name, "Burton-esque." USA Today published photos of the characters, including Depp's Hatter.

With orange frizzy curls, pasty porcelain makeup, a frilly black top hat and goth-y circus touches, the Hatter looks exactly as Depp said he intended. "All I've seen, I've just seen the little bits and pieces of it, but, yeah, what I ended up looking like is how I thought he was going to look, how I thought he should look, which was one of the first reasons why I'm surprised I didn't get fired," Depp said.

It's not the first time Depp expressed surprise at keeping a job: He also thought he'd be fired from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film because of studio disagreements with his portrayal of Jack Sparrow.

Alice in Wonderland is due in theaters March 5, 2010. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman and newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice.
sci-fi wire...

Is there no future for the Terminator film franchise? Christian Bale speaks

Is the Terminator film franchise terminated? Star Christian Bale had something to say about it today.

While doing press a while back for Terminator Salvation, director McG and his screenwriters Michael Ferris and John Brancato kept teasing that they had ideas for two more sequels to make a new trilogy. Of course, they would never presume to discuss specific plotlines before the audience gave them the thumbs-up that they wanted more.

Then Salvation opened to a lukewarm reception and saw its box office plummet in its second week. The expected announcements of Terminators 5 and 6 have not come. Yet.

Now Bale, who played a grown-up John Connor, confirmed that there has been no development on his end for a fifth Terminator."We've had no talks about it or discussions about it," Bale said at a press conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., today to promote Public Enemies. Perhaps McG did not get the pat on the back he was hoping for from the audience?

Still, this is the kind of franchise that signs actors for multiple films, especially A-list actors in starring roles such as John Connor. Bale indicated that his involvement was not contractually guaranteed. "It all purely depends upon script," Bale said.

Terminator Salvation took place in 2018, when Connor takes the lead in the human resistance while trying to come to terms with a new kind of cyborg who believes he is human. The film's epilogue suggests that Connor will continue to lead the resistance in other parts of the world after destroying Skynet's San Francisco headquarters.
sci-fi wire...

What Johnny Depp thinks was wrong with earlier Pirates movies and what could be in 4

When Disney announced it was full steam ahead on a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film, the biggest asset was Johnny Depp, returning as Captain Jack Sparrow. Director Gore Verbinski has said he would pass on the fourth film, and the screenplay and its writers are still up in the air. But that apparently doesn't matter, though, because all fans want is more Jack.

Depp—speaking in a press conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting Public Enemies—acknowledged that the previous sequels may have gone overboard with overly complicated stories and plots. "Not that I've seen the movies, but I hear tell," Depp said.

In response to that, Depp says there's no such thing as perfect cinema, but he considers another sequel just another chance at bat. "Call me a glutton," he joked. While he'd like the screenplay to be right, he feels Pirates 4 could be just about anything at this point.

"I'm trying to turn it into a Beckett play," Depp said, adding that perhaps Captain Jack could show up in a geisha costume. He's joking. We think.

The first movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, was based on the classic Disneyland theme park attraction. It introduced the character of Sparrow, a bumbling pirate whom Depp based in part on rocker Keith Richards. The massive success of the film led to back-to-back sequels, Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. The chance to see more Jack brought in the audience, despite complaints about the overly complicated storylines.

Now Depp says filmmakers are free to explore a lot of possible storylines, unhindered by the pesky need to tie up plot points. Pirates of the Caribbean 4 is in development with Jerry Bruckheimer films, aiming for a 2012 release.
sci-fi wire...

UPDATED: Trouble for our Heroes: Bryan Fuller quits the NBC superhero show

[Updated: Entertainment Weekly quotes Bryan Fuller confirming his departure from Heroes and saying that he left to focus on developing new projects for NBC and not because of creative differences with series creator Tim Kring: "I'm crafting two pilots right now, and it's a lot of work. It was just too hard to [juggle] Heroes and my development; something had to give."]

We love TV writer Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls) and were eagerly looking forward to his reviving NBC's Heroes, which we have stopped watching because it seems to have lost its way.

Well, imagine our shock when we heard a rumor, first reported on Ain't It Cool News, that Fuller has abruptly left the series before the fourth season even begins.
Here's what AICN reported, via their TV guy Hercules (can't these guys just use their names? What, are they Cold War spies?):

I haven't been able to confirm this with Bryan Fuller, but a convincing anonymous source tells me Fuller has again left Heroes.

"I believe Tuesday [of last week] was his last day," says our source.
Take it as rumor for now, but I wanted to get this on site before Mike Ausiello and Wanda Two Saints jumped on it.

(That's Ausiello, the TV columnist for Entertainment Weekly, and Kristin Dos Santos of E! Online.)

We've put in a call to NBC to see if this is true. If so, sad news indeed for Heroes and for us.
sci-fi wire...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Producer confirms Indy 5 on its way; here's a few suggestions

Holy smokes my friends! We're so pleased you're not dead!
Mere days after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull star Shia LaBeouf dropped the
bombshell hint that director Steven Spielberg had "cracked" the story for a fifth Indy adventure, producer Frank Marshall is now confirming another movie is indeed in the works.

Though perhaps not as far along as young Shia may have suggested.
"The story for Indy 5 is progressing," Marshall
tweeted. "It is still in the research phase."

Marshall also told Empire Magazine:

"It's really about the script," says the veteran Indy producer. "Once we see that, we'll see. We're not going to wait another 20 years. We'd all love to make another one. I'm anxious to hear the idea!"

But are Mssrs. Spielberg, [Harrison] Ford and [George] Lucas equally sold on a fifth outing for the whip-cracking archeologist? "Yeah. We had a great time making the last one and, as Harrison said, we need to make this one soon. We're not getting any younger."

Time is indeed short (and, yes, we know, it's the mileage). Ford is no spring chicken, though we know Indy lived well into his 90s (judging from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) and might just be alive today. But still ...

To help move things along, and as a public service, here's a quick and dirty list of things we'd like to see in a fifth Indy:
sci-fi wire...

News briefs: 'David Silver' stops fighting cyborgs, becomes one

In a bit of a turnabout, robot-fighter Brian Austin Green (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) will be a guest star on The CW's Smallville, playing a killer cyborg named Metallo, E! Online's Watch With Kristin reported....

This summer, the Force will be with you when Adult Swim releases Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II to DVD on July 21....

DreamWorks Animation is pushing forward with a new untitled ghost project that is competing for a fourth-quarter 2012 release slot, according to The Hollywood Reporter; the project, referred to internally as Boo U., recently picked up writer Jon Vitti and centers on a ghost who is bad at his job and must return to ghost school....
Muzzled!, the third episode of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures video games, is now
available online for PC for $8.95 individually or $34.95 as part of the four-episode Wallace & Gromit bundle.
sci-fi wire...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Bride of Frankenstein is coming together

Universal and Imagine are in talks with Neil Burger to write and direct Bride of Frankenstein, the long-gestating remake of the 1935 monster movie, The Hollywood Reporter's Risky Business blog reported.

Burger, who would write the script with partner Dirk Wittenborn, most prominently wrote and directed The Illusionist, the Edward Norton magician mystery that earned nearly $40 million for Yari Film Group in 2006.

James Whale's Bride of Frankenstein, which starred Boris Karloff as the monster and Elsa Lanchester as the title bride, continued the story that began with 1931's Frankenstein.

A monster, on the run from an angry mob, has a series of adventures and also persuades Dr. Frankenstein to create a mate. The doctor is successful, but the bride (who is not a central character) winds up rejecting the monster at the end of the movie.

The new Bride has had a series of stops and starts. About five years ago, American Splendor writers Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini were attached to write the screenplay for the update. Their concept was to set the picture in contemporary New York, with a young woman dying and then unnaturally brought back to life (Burger's version is expected to differ significantly from that concept).

Jacob Estes, a writer on the Spider-Man spinoff Venom, also at one point had been attached to write a draft, the trade paper reported.
sci-fi wire...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Primeval cancellation confirmed by ITV

BBC News confirmed a rumor that ITV has canceled its sci-fi series Primeval after three successful seasons.
Starring Ben Miller, Douglas Henshall and Hannah Spearritt, the show followed a group of scientists studying prehistoric creatures.

"High quality drama remains a key part of the ITV schedule, although our current focus is on post-watershed production," ITV said in a statement.
The show had an average audiences of about 5 million this year in the United Kingdom. The figure was down from around 6 million for the first two series.
sci-fi wire...

How will the writers of Star Trek approach the sequel film?

J.J. Abrams' newly rebooted Star Trek is still in theaters, but writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman tell SCI FI Wire that they're already thinking about the sequel, and they know their dilemma: whether to come up with an original story or go back into Trek lore to retell a story that's been dealt with before.

In either case, the writers say they learned a few lessons from the first movie, which has become an international hit.

"I think the major lesson we learned is that fans were willing to accept differences and surprises, provided that they were somehow echoes or inspired by canon," Orci said in an exclusive interview earlier this month. He added: "We still have to be true to Star Trek the next time around, but we've also been blessed with being able to be unpredictable. And that doesn't mean we can just be shocking for no good reason and just throw everything away. ... It still has to echo everything that Star Trek has been."
At this point, the writers don't have a story or even a premise. "We have agreed to write another one," Orci said. "We're going to start thinking about it any second now. But we're still just having a mental sorbet before we jump back in. And, you know, just seeing all the reactions to the movie. We want to make sure we take it all in and really figure out what worked and what didn't and proceed from there. But now that we have ... an open canvas, ... anything can happen."

Following is an edited version of our exclusive interview. Orci and Kurtzman also wrote the upcoming sequel film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (with Ehren Kruger); it opens June 24.

Tell me about your reactions to the reactions to Star Trek. What surprised you, what were you pleased with, what were you disappointed with?

Kurtzman: Well, you know, it was sort of stunning for us, actually, because ... we did not know how people were going to react to the movie in general. ... The last version of Trek was fairly unsuccessful at the box office, and, ... in talking to people, there was such a stigma against Star Trek [and] sci-fi: how polarizing it was, it wasn't accessible to women, it was too cold, any number of things that people have to say about it.
So in aiming to make a movie that both reached a broad base and ... satisfied the fans, ... A, we weren't sure we were going to be able to accomplish both, and, B, we just didn't know if people were going to show up. And the tracking for the movie, which we all watch religiously right before the movie comes out, was telling us that the movie was going to do fine but not great.And usually, in our experience, tracking has been extremely accurate. You know? Like within a margin of, like, a couple of million bucks. It's pretty close. So we were told that we were probably going to be on track for, like, a $50 million weekend, which frankly was going to be a disappointment to the studio. And, you know, we were bummed. The movie was a labor of love for us, and we tried very hard to make it work.The night before the movie came out, literally hours before, there was a 36 percent spike in tracking.It was, like, shocking. And all of a sudden, ... everyone went, "Wow. Now we have no idea what kind of a number we're going to have this weekend." So by Friday night everyone kind of knew where we were going.Orci: And they attributed that to word of mouth, right?Kurtzman: Yeah. Orci: It was the fact that people were reacting well, and it was impossible to [predict]. It was the first time we had seen word of mouth in action, so that was fascinating. And we're so grateful that most of the fan base was open about it, and that new people were willing to risk being in a room with people who speak Klingon. ...
I think people were willing to go with you with the time incursion to reboot everything, and they're willing to give you the benefit of the doubt now if you change things. Do you think that's true?Orci: Yes. But ... [you] just can't use old things willy-nilly, you know. There's still an internal logic that has to be followed. ... We could still cross some lines [if] we think, "Oh, we can do anything now." And a savvy fan will go, "Well, technically, [you can't]." ...In thinking of a story, the inclination for a fan would be to see a new version of a story that's been told in some fashion. Or to pick up tropes from one of the TV episodes or the films and maybe combine them. Or is your inclination to do a completely original story this time?Orci: Well, that is the debate, literally. And that is going to be one of the first conversations that we have. But that's exactly the question.Because it's such a rich mythology. I mean, you could pick any villain or situation or whatever and exploit that. But, again, the risk is that you're
going to be compared to what came before.

Orci: Exactly. That's right. That is the question.I don't envy your job, I'll tell you that.Orci: Yup.

Anything else about Star Trek that you want to say about how the first film was received or how it's affected how you think about Star Trek?Orci: We just want to say thank you.
sci-fi wire...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writer reveals Green Lantern movie's progress and a few hints

Screenwriter Marc Guggenheim told SCI FI Wire exclusively that he has just completed a new draft of a proposed live-action Green Lantern movie, based on a script by him, Michael Green and Greg Berlanti.

"In fact, I'm ... delivering another draft today," Guggenheim (TV's Flash Forward) said in an exclusive interview on Friday. "So it continues to move forward."
The film is expected to be directed by Martin Campbell, who stepped in for Berlanti, and is slated to begin production at Australia's Fox Studios in Sydney this summer for a release on June 17, 2011.

Guggenheim confirmed that his script will focus on Hal Jordan, based on the Silver Age DC Comics incarnation of the superhero, and how he became a member of the Green Lantern Corps.

Beyond that, Guggenheim remained tight-lipped. "You know I really can't [say anything]," he said. "I've sworn a blood oath of secrecy in relation to the project. But, you know, the thing I can tell you is that it is a very loving and respectful approach."
Guggenheim added: "The goal here is to do the best cinematic representation of the Green Lantern character. You know, there's no desire on anyone's part to completely change the character and just call this other character Green Lantern and try to ... draft off the name recognition. This is all about 'How do we bring the best version of this character to the silver screen?'"

As for the movie's source material, Guggenheim said, "We've drawn heavily from ... a lot of different sources in terms of the comic books. ... The character ... is several decades old, so ... we've really had an incredible amount of source material to cherry-pick from."

As for casting of the iconic character, rumors have centered on such of-the-moment actors as The Hangover's Bradley Cooper and Star Trek's Chris Pine. None are true, Guggenheim said.

"They're all false," he said. "I mean, they're all false insofar as we haven't chosen anyone yet. They're still in the negotiations, you know? There's a lot of names being talked about, and there's a lot of people being met, and a lot of ... actors reading the script. But if you read online [that] Pauly Shore's been cast as Hal Jordan, I can guarantee you we have not cast anyone." That last rumor was a joke. We think.
As for the process, Guggenheim said, "It remains a lot of fun. It's such a great character, it's been a really great project so far."
sci-fi wire...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wolverine's Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins journey to John Carter of Mars

X-Men Origins: Wolverine star Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins will star in John Carter of Mars, the adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi book series that Andrew Stanton is directing for Disney, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kitsch, who was last seen as Gambit in Wolverine, will play the title character, Carter, a Civil War veteran who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars, where his involvement with warring races of the dying planet force him to rediscover his humanity.

Collins (HBO's True Blood) is playing Dejah Thoris, the heir to the throne of Mars' Helium kingdom. She appeared with Kitsch in Wolverine as Kayla Silverfox, the love interest of Hugh Jackman's Logan.

Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) takes on Mars as his first live-action feature. Stanton wrote the screenplay with Mark Andrews.

Disney has spent months meeting and testing a wide swath of names, from Jon Hamm to Josh Duhamel, during its search.
sci-fi wire...

Why original V star Marc Singer thinks the time is right for the remake

Marc Singer, who starred in the original 1980s sci-fi miniseries V and subsequent spinoffs, told SCI FI Wire that he would love to take part in ABC's upcoming re-imagined series, which is slated to debut after January 2010.

Singer played reporter Mike Donovan in the original miniseries, about an invasion of apparently benign aliens who turn out to be sinister lizard creatures with a nefarious agenda.
The new V is a re-imagining, about the world's first encounter with an alien ra
ce in which the aliens call themselves the Visitors and have a seemingly friendly agenda that may or may not be a cover for something more malevolent. The new show stars Elizabeth Mitchell as Erica Evans, Morris Chestnut as Ryan Nichols, Joel Gretsch as Father Jack Landry, Lourdes Benedicto as Valerie Stevens, Logan Huffman as Tyler Evans and Laura Vandervoort as Lisa, with Morena Baccarin as Anna and Scott Wolf as Chad Decker.

The series is produced by HDFilms in association with Warner Brothers Television. Scott Peters is executive producer/writer, and Steve Pearlman and Jason Hall are executive producers. The pilot was directed and executive-produced by Yves Simoneau.

or someone who was a major part of the original series in all its forms, I'm dying to know what you think of V returning to television.
Singer: I think a good story can always be retold, and I think it is a good story. I think its relevance is as powerful today as it was then. The same forces of subversion and the same sort of fascist tendencies are afoot, and I think it's a cautionary tale that bears retelling.

Everyone who watched the original show knows the ending. Do you think it can work even with that knowledge?

Singer: Well, I do. ... I don't know if they will keep the original ending or perhaps modify it. I think it's more in the telling of the tale of society being subverted. And society being wooed into channels that are disruptive and dumbed down. I believe that those are the ways in which the story's retelling sort of supersedes that plot line, because it's the human interaction. It's the failings and dangers of our own nature that lie at the heart of this story.

Last time I spoke to Robert Englund [who played Willie in the original series], he said he'd like to do a cameo in the new series. Would you be interested in doing one?
Singer: Oh, sure. I think it would be fun to do a cameo. I think it would be fun to do more than a cameo and see where that leads us. The nice thing about a program like V is that it's open to all sorts of add-ons and interpretations. The possibilities are definitely there. I am certainly an admirer and friend of Kenneth Johnson, so it's possible that that sort of thing might actually occur.

sci-fi wire...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ronald D. Moore updates Caprica and what he thought of your reaction to Battlestar's finale

Ronald D. Moore told SCI FI Wire that his upcoming SCI FI Channel series Caprica—a prequel to Battlestar Galactica—is on track, with scripts written and production set to commence this month. Moore also said that he's no longer involved with the proposed big-screen remake of John Carpenter's The Thing.

Moore, speaking in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, also shared his thoughts on the reaction to Battlestar Galactica's series finale, "Daybreak." The following are edited excerpts from the conversation. The pilot of Caprica is now available on DVD; the series debuts in January. (Spoilers ahead!)
Let's start with Caprica. What did you make of the idea of putting Caprica's premiere out on DVD months before the series actually debuts?

Moore: It was a decision of the network. They presented it to me and asked me what I thought about it. I thought, "Well, that's a ballsy way to go." I think their internal reasoning was that we were going to have the pilot done so far in advance of when the series would premiere, and they wanted to capitalize on the end of Battlestar Galactica, with all the attention and press that would come with that. And it gave the audience something immediately, to sort of say, "And here's the next one," to give them time to watch it, time for word of mouth to spread, and then set the table for the show to premiere in January.

Where are you with the series?

Moore: We're working on the scripts. We start shooting in mid-June. We've got almost half the season written. Our biggest problem at the moment is money. We're just battling budget, but that's nothing new. So it's going very well.

Now that you've had a little time and distance from Galactica, what are you thoughts on the finale? And what did you make of the fan reaction to "Daybreak"?

Moore: I'm very satisfied with the finale. It's one of things I'm proudest of out of the whole run of the show. And I'm happy with the reaction of the fans. There was certainly some controversy and people who wanted to argue about this or that and the other thing, but I think by and large the reaction I got was tremendous satisfaction and people feeling like we did justice to the show by the end. I know all of us that worked on it feel very proud of the way that the series ended.

What's your current involvement with The Thing? You did a draft, and now the studi
o has brought someone else in, right?

Moore: It's the feature world, baby. I'm off. I've done my draft. They brought in another writer. And we'll see what happens. I wish them well. It's a great universe and a great homage to Carpenter's version of The Thing, and I look forward to seeing it.
sci-fi wire...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What Richard Hatch thinks a proposed Battlestar movie can learn from Star Trek

Richard Hatch—who played Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica and Tom Zarek in SCI FI's re-imagining—told Moviehole that he's watching the recently proposed feature film closely, though he's not involved, and has ideas of how to reboot the franchise.

"I think they saw the success Paramount had with their Star Trek reboot," Hatch told the site. "But unlike Paramount, who seems to know the Star Trek audience, I don't think Universal ever quite got Battlestar. I just hope they hire the right people and make a good movie."

Universal Pictures quietly entered into negotiations with Battlestar creator Glen A. Larson to produce a big-screen version of the property he created, which would be unrelated to the recently concluded SCI FI series headed by Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, according to The Hollywood Reporter in February.

The film would reportedly preserve the premise—a ragtag fleet of human survivors runs from the murderous Cylons while seeking a new home on the mythical planet called Earth—as well as the characters of Adama, Starbuck and Baltar, but insiders told the trade paper that the movie will otherwise be a complete re-imagining of both series.

Hatch told Moviehole that he believes Universal "should go further back, like Star Trek" in terms of the setting for the film. With Trek, Hatch said, it "was still the characters we love, but they went back 20 ... 30 ... years to when they were just kids. But with Battlestar, they're just going to go back to the same timeframe we saw in the series and recast those roles. I don't think Star Trek would've been successful if they had recast the Star Trek characters at the same age as they were in the previous films. By going back, it gave that film a window so fans could expect a change of cast."

Hatch added: "I don't know what they're going to do, but I love Battlestar, and I think there are so many more wonderful stories to tell. And as much as I think the original series deserves the big treatment I think the new series deserves a series of movies as well."
sci-fi wire...

SG-1's Michael Shanks will guest-star in an episode of Sanctuary

Former Stargate SG-1 star Michael Shanks will appear in an episode of SCI FI's Sanctuary in its upcoming second season, Shanks' managers at JDS in Los Angeles told SCI FI Wire.

Shanks reunites with his former SG-1 co-star Amanda Tapping, who stars in and produces Sanctuary, in episode 209, entitled "Penance," which begins filming next week in Vancouver, Canada; he'll play a character named Jimmy.
Shanks will also be seen in an episode of SCI FI's upcoming Stargate Universe, reprising the role of Dr. Daniel Jackson.

Sanctuary follows the adventures of the beautiful, enigmatic and always surprising Dr. Helen Magnus (Tapping), a brilliant scientist who holds the secrets of a clandestine population—a group of strange and sometimes terrifying beings that hide among humans. Along with forensic psychiatrist Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), they seek to protect these threatened phenomena as well as unlock the mysteries behind their existence.

Sanctuary returns with 13 new episodes in the fall.
sci-fi wire...

First look: Mickey Rourke as Whiplash in Iron Man 2

USA Today has posted the first image of Iron Man 2 star Mickey Rourke in costume as the villainous Ivan/Whiplash (click through to see the full image).

Whiplash sports a power pack on his chest that looks similar to the repulsor tech used by Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).

"The technologies are definitely related, and that's part of the core theme of the film," director Jon Favreau told the newspaper.

The character's alter ego, Ivan Vanko, is a Russian who has constructed his own version of a suit. Among the creative alterations: a pair of whips, powered by the suit's glowing chest piece, expected to keep Iron Man cracking.

This first image of the character shows the villain making an appearance at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix.

Iron Man 2 opens May 7, 2010.
sci-fi wire...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Colin Morgan, NBC's Merlin, on talking to dragons and casting spells

Colin Morgan, who plays the title character in NBC's upcoming fantasy series Merlin, told reporters that a new Merlin also means a new Arthur, Guinevere and Morgana. The BBC-produced series portrays young Merlin learning to hone his magical talents and get along with prince Arthur to fulfill their roles as wizard and king.

"Of course I interact with the other characters within the show as well," Morgan said in a conference call last week. "Arthur being the arrogant [one] and the young prince, who you see over the series, actually, develops in surprising ways. You see he actually has a good heart and his intentions are in the right place. Also we see Morgana and how she develops, and Gwen, her relationship as we've never seen her before. We normally see Gwen as the future queen, whereas [now] we see her as a maiden next door. Everyone's character, we've all got something new to show."
Merlin arrives in Camelot just as King Uther (Anthony Head) reinforces his ban on all magic, thinking there is no good use of mystical powers. Still, Merlin manages to secretly display his talents, particularly in a fight scene with Arthur (Bradley James) in which Merlin's spells save him from Arthur's sword.

The following Q&A features edited excerpts of Morgan's interview. NBC will air Merlin on Sunday nights at 8 p.m., starting June 21.

So we're dealing with a world where magic is outlawed and magicians are persecuted. Is that a metaphor?

Morgan: I don't think [so]. I think it is very much contained within that world. I think when you see the show and you see the look of it and the feel of it, especially, being inside of the castle, you completely buy into that world. You believe everything in it. Magic is a thing that just is there and is accepted. I think you become enthralled with that without, I think, being caught up in any sort of metaphor. It is very much within that world, and I hope the audiences will be connected with Merlin and against the villains that come into play and try to overthrow Camelot.

In the first episode, in your fight with Arthur, that's Merlin using all his magic, but, as an actor, you don't really get to do anything. Can you talk about shooting that scene, waiting for post-production to make you look good?

Morgan: When it comes to special effects and things of that [nature] within the show, for me, it was very new and very different but also quite exciting, because you just get to use your imagination. You get a bit of free rein with it, although you have to be quite technical in terms of where you look and how you look and what way you do it. It's kind of limitless. It's great to just sort of experiment with that and to have a bit of fun.

But, yeah, speaking to the dragon voiced by John Hurt is like, you're speaking to a green screen but in a room that looks like a cave. You've got one idea in your head of what you shot, and then you see the final product, and it's something that really wouldn't be out of place in a film.
What turned you on to this role and this project? What was it that made you want to be part of it?

Morgan: One of the things is many of the guest artists that were part of the stories as shown in the stories and the script, because they're constantly changing and evolving. That's one of the things that really works about it, is the variety that the show presents, because when you think Arthurian legend and you think about Merlin and Arthur, you think ... about that period in history. What's great is just an idea started with that and twisted it and turned it on its head and made it into something completely new and different. So I think that's what was so exciting about it. Plus, I get to do magic every day and sort of go through adventures. You find yourself in different places all the time, seeing things that you would never see under any other circumstance. The challenge of playing such a historical character as Merlin presented in a way that we've never seen before, all those factors just made it a really exciting project to be a part of.
Were you also attracted to the show's irreverent humor?

Morgan: Yeah. That's one of the great things in it. As soon as you hear the name Merlin, the immediate sort of image that will pop into most people's heads is a little guy with a beard or a little serious guy. Then when you get the opportunity to play Merlin like it's never been seen before, with a quirkiness and a clumsiness, then it was a trip.
sci-fi wire...

Sarah Connor creator Josh Friedman on why the show won't be coming back

Of all the shows that got canceled last season, one of the hardest to lose was Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The series was canceled after two seasons of action, complicated mythology, rich characters and plenty of surprises, not the least of which was the series finale, in which John (Thomas Dekker) goes into the future, leaving Sarah (Lena Headey) behind in the past. The cancellation was all the more difficult to take considering that the lower-rated Dollhouse was picked up by Fox, while TSCC wasn't.

If you read creator and executive producer Josh Friedman's blog, you begin to realize that the viewers aren't the only ones having a hard time.
Friedman writes: "Everyone says having your show canceled is like a death, but I've been dead before, and at least when you're dead you don't get thrown off the Warner Brothers lot for haunting your old parking space." He goes into much more graphic detail about his exit from the studio.

Earlier, Kevin Reilly, Fox's president of entertainment, offered an explanation as to why the network didn't renew Sarah Connor Chronicles.
"It was a good show," Reilly said. "It was not an either/or [with Dollhouse]. We did see it tailing off a bit. It had a nice creative core, but ultimately we made the bet on Dollhouse for the night." He added: "[It] was not an inexpensive show" and said that Fox had to "make some choices on the night. But, ultimately, we looked at the ratings track on Monday, where it had a pretty consistent run, and then on Friday, where it moved to. And that trend line was not pointing in the right direction."

While Friedman isn't any too happy about the loss of TSCC, he did offer some insight into the series when talked to SCI FI Wire in an exclusive interview via e-mail last week. Below is an edited version of our Q&A with Friedman about his favorite TSCC moments, the series finale and why he doesn't know if we'll see more Sarah Connor in the future.

In your mind, how does TSCC fit into the Terminator mythology? As an independent piece or part of the bigger whole?Friedman: I think it would've been a mistake for me to get caught up in what is canon and what is not canon. I always felt TSCC owed a great debt to T1 and T2, and I was going to do everything I could to honor that. Over time, however, you also find yourself owing a debt to the work you're doing, the material right in front of your face. So you've got to make good with that and still try to maintain an integrity with the work that's inspired you. TSCC is an expression of the Terminator universe. But it's four years of creative decisions distilled into 31 hours that will probably not jibe with everyone's idea of the Terminator puzzle. That's OK. I go with the "uncanny valley" theory on this, as in most things: The closer you get to making one thing like another thing, the more the ways in which it differs stand out.

For you, over the two seasons, what storylines took on their own life, maybe in a way you didn't expect?Friedman: I was pleased by how much we got out of Cromartie/John Henry [Garret Dillahunt]. Most of that is due to the genius that is Dillahunt—there's a reason David Milch couldn't leave him dead in Deadwood. I always knew we'd have a Terminator body aiding in the A.I. development, but I'll admit it wasn't always the Cromartie body. We explored other ideas there, but ultimately we couldn't stand removing Cromartie from the chessboard.
On the flip side, what storylines never quite developed the way you hoped? Friedman: Well, the most obvious answer involves all the things that we dropped due to the strike in season one. The high-school intrigue re the suicidal cheerleader and the guidance counselor was a chunk of it. We had a character who was blackmailing various students and teachers, and John would have run afoul of him/her. We never got that far, and by the time season two rolled around, I think everyone just wanted to move past it. Obviously that's an annoying attitude if you've invested time into that storyline, but for everyone who wanted to continue that, there [were] probably 10 who were happy to get the hell out of high school.

You made some controversial story choices at the end of the second season, like killing off Riley [Leven Rambin] and Derek [Brian Austin Green]. Why go there? Friedman: I don't think killing Riley or Derek was particularly controversial. I think both events were organic outgrowths of the choices they made and the lives they led. Both of their deaths are among my favorite moments on the show. And we do see Derek again, albeit a different Derek.

What are you most proud of when it comes to The Sarah Connor Chronicles? Friedman: What am I most proud of? Most weeks I was just proud we got a show onto the air. It's f--king difficult. But I guess I'm proudest that we never took the easy way out of a story problem, and we gave the audience credit for being able to follow us no matter where we went.

The ending could be looked at as an actual end to the series or as a cliffhanger. Was it difficult to come up with the finale? Why did you want to end it on such a big note?Friedman: The finale wasn't really any more difficult than any other episode. Frankly, "Adam Raised a Cain" almost f--king killed the writers' room, so the finale was a vacation compared to that. I'd known for quite a while where we were headed, so once we got to that point it was pretty organic. I don't think I set out to end "on a big note," but I knew I wanted John Henry to be attacked, and the drone seemed the most dramatic way to hit that beat. I needed to drive people to the future, and making the present an extremely dangerous place to be seemed like an important part of the equation. ...

Do you ever see the story continuing, perhaps in a comic book or another format? Friedman: I don't own this franchise or control it in any way. I can't just go make a deal to do a comic book or a DVD movie or anything like that. The people that control the franchise need to be interested in another iteration of not just Terminator, which clearly they are, but TSCC, which at this point they are not. I've tried to pull this proverbial band-aid off as quickly as I can, but I don't want that confused with me giving up on the show. It's been my entire creative existence for years, and nothing strokes my ego more than hearing about people clamoring for more TSCC and e-mailing network executives to that effect. But I want people to have a realistic understanding of what's going on. I owe them honesty.

Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans? Friedman: I don't think there's much I could say to fans that I haven't already said. TSCC has been my life for almost four years, and the fans have been a huge part of that experience. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and television is nothing if not a social compact—I'll try to make something worth watching, and you'll try to watch it. It's a handshake, and you don't want to leave the other guy hanging. Hopefully, we'll try again soon.
sci-fi wire...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

20+ People Want To Know What Happens To Jason!!!

20+ People have shared with me that they can't wait to find out what happens to Jason Tredmore. He is the main character in my upcoming novel "Strolok".
Currently the book is going through its final edit and will be unveiled by the time I attend Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia in September. (link on this page)
The Prologue is here for your enjoyment and to my loyal visitors I am going to share the Synopsis with you. Here it is:
This is the story of a planet named “Strolok”. The inhabitants of this planet are far advance in literature, culture and education. The scope of the planet includes lush vegetation, beautiful, futuristic buildings, and scientific advancements that would challenge your hunger for knowledge. These are a peaceful people who whenever called upon to assist another planet’s population, never shy away from lending a helping hand.
Unfortunately the time for Strolok to request assistance has arrived in the form of a future threat by a warrior faction known as the Traguul. The members of this race are despicable and care not for the well being of others. When they inhabit a planet they decimate its natural resources until there is little left to support and feed their race. As soon as their planet reaches almost critical levels, they search for a new planet to take over where they can begin their life process all over again. If the chosen planet is inhabited then they develop a virus to unleash on the unsuspecting people, which cause their internal organs to fuse, leading to death by suffocation.
With the leaders of Strolok having been alerted to this potential destruction, they send an emissary to Earth in the form of a young boy to gain the assistance of their people in developing an antidote to the virus.
If you have any questions that I can answer for you pleae feel free to email me at
Best Wishes,

New images of Sam Worthington from Clash of the Titans

Warner Brothers has released high-quality versions of images for Clash of the Titans, which originally appeared in Empire and Entertainment Weekly; see them after the jump.

The images show Sam Worthington as Perseus, who goes on a quest to save a princess and defeat Hades, the god of hell. Liam Neeson is playing Zeus, the wise yet sometimes ill-tempered king of the gods and father of Perseus, while Ralph Fiennes will play Hades, ruler of the underworld, who aims to overtake Zeus and rule over all. Mads Mikkelsen, Gemma Arterton and Alexa Davalos have also been cast.
Clash of the Titans, directed by Louis Leterrier, is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name, which starred Harry Hamlin as Perseus and featured an all-star cast including Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom and Maggie Smith. The remake opens in March 2010. (Click the thumbnails for larger versions. The photos are by Jay Maidment for Warner.)
sci-fi wire...

Friday, June 5, 2009

TV roundup: Every sci-fi and fantasy show to watch this summer

The summer television season officially kicks off tonight with NBC's The Listener, but that's only the beginning as several beloved series return and a few new shows pop up hoping to win our affections. Here's the complete summer lineup in the order they premiere, after the jump.

Primeval, BBC America. Premiered May 16 and airs Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PTYes, Primeval actually jumped the gun and made its American debut in May. But there's no denying it's a true summer series in the best sense in the way only a dino/monster mash like this can manage. The ITV show (which airs in the U.S. on BBC America) killed off a main character last week, and it's only three episodes into the season. Primeval will complete its third season on July 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, just as the BBC's new import, Being Human, begins.

The Listener, NBC. Premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. and airs Thursdays at 10 p.m.This Canadian/NBC production explores the life of Toby Logan, a 25-year-old paramedic who is also a telepath. Toby suddenly begins to "hear" people in trouble and decides to try to help people in crisis by using his gift. The Listener was created by Michael Amo and stars Craig Olejnik, Ennis Esmer and Colm Feore. The series kicks off its American debut on NBC with a two-episode premiere tonight and then moves to its regular timeslot on Thursdays at 10 p.m.

True Blood, HBO. Premieres June 14 and airs Sundays at 9 p.m.Alan Ball's sexy and spooky vampire series returns for its second season as telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse once again finds herself up to her pretty neck in adventure when she and Bill head to Dallas to hunt for a missing vampire. This season is loosely based on the second novel in Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse book series, Living Dead in Dallas. Twelve episodes are being produced.

Saving Grace, TNT. Premieres June 16 and airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m.Grace is back for a third season, in which she will once again face some big issues as she tries to help one of Earl's other charges. The personal lives of Butch and Rhetta will also be more deeply explored. TNT is producing 15 episodes of Saving Grace.

The Othersiders, The Cartoon Network. Premieres June 17 and airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m.This new live-action half-hour reality series from the Cartoon Network offers up a little ghost hunting for the teen set. Five California teenagers take a scientific approach as they check out some very scary locations, complete with Ghost Hunters-type equipment. At the end of each episode the teens vote as to whether they feel a location is haunted. Fourteen episodes have been ordered.

Merlin, NBC. Premieres June 21 and airs Sundays at 8 p.m.What would happen if Merlin and Prince Arthur met in Camelot as young men before they became legends? This English series explores the making of the legends as the two men discover their destinies. Merlin stars Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Anthony Head and John Hurt. Thirteen episodes were produced and have already aired in the United Kingdom, where a second season is in production.

Impact, ABC. Premieres June 21 and 28 at 9 p.m. Let's call this one When Worlds Collide. The moon's orbit is altered after a collision with a brown dwarf star. When scientists realize the moon is actually on a collision course with Earth, they race to save humanity in this four-hour miniseries, which will air over consecutive Sundays. Impact stars David James Elliot, Natasha Henstridge, Stephen Culp and James Cromwell. The mini was written by Michael Vickerman and directed by Michael J. Rohl.

Doctor Who: The Next Doctor, BBC America. Premieres June 27 at 9 p.m.You've got to love a Doctor Who Christmas special in June! David Tennant returns as The Doctor for another battle with the Cybermen. It's Christmas Eve 1851, and the Doctor arrives in London to investigate some mysterious deaths only to find another Doctor (David Morrissey) with his own sonic screwdriver. And it looks like this time it may take two Doctors save the Earth and stop the rise of the CyberKing. The Next Doctor is the U.S. premiere of the first of two Doctor Who specials we'll see this summer.

Warehouse 13, SCI FI. Premieres July 7 at 9 p.m. and airs on Tuesdays.This new dramedy from the reinvented SCI FI follows the adventures of two Secret Service agents, Pete (Eddie McClintock) and Myka (Joanne Kelly), who end up tracking down mysterious artifacts for the super-secret government facility known as Warehouse 13. Saul Rubinek plays the Warehouse's quirky caretaker, Artie. The premiere kicks off with a two-hour pilot and is from executive producers Jack Kenny and David Simkins. Thirteen episodes have been ordered.

Ghost Hunters International, SCI FI. Premieres July 8 at 9 p.m. and airs on Wednesdays.The globe-trotting ghost hunters begin a second season that will include investigations in Austria, Ireland, Northern Italy, Chile, Argentina, Australia, Tasmania and Vietnam. Six episodes will air this summer, with the remainder of the season continuing in 2010. Ashley Godwin joins the team as a replacement for Angela Alderman.

Eureka, SCI FI. Premieres July 10 and will air Fridays at 9 p.m.There's plenty of challenges for the residents of Eureka when the series returns for its fourth season. Allison's pregnant with Stark's baby, and Carter was fired as the town's sheriff. The 4400's Billy Campbell will pop by for a guest turn, and Jaime Ray Newman will star in a recurring role as Tess Fontana, a character who plans on reopening Section 5. SCI FI is producing 10 episodes for the fourth season.

Meteor, NBC. Premieres July 12 and 19 at 9 p.m.NBC isn't going to let ABC have all the Impact fun. The network has its own four-hour miniseries, this one about two massive rocks that collide in space and head toward Earth. Meteor is from RHI Entertainment and executive producer Robert Halmi Jr. The mini stars Billy Campbell, Christopher Lloyd and Jason Alexander. It will air over consecutive Sundays.

Torchwood: Children of Earth, BBC America. Premieres July 20 and will air five consecutive nights at 9 p.m.Finally! Yes, Torchwood is back, but it's going to look a bit different to viewers. The special third season is only five episodes long, but those episodes will air over consecutive nights and tell one complete tale. In the story all the children on the Earth suddenly stop, and Torchwood discovers an alien threat is behind things. Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles), Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd), Rhys (Kai Owen) and PC Andy (Tom Price) return for the third season. Torchwood: Children of Earth will be the first series on BBC America to be simulcast in HD. Being Human and Doctor Who will also be premiering in HD.

Being Human, BBC America. Premieres July 25 and will air Saturdays at 9 p.m.It sounds like a joke. What happens when a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost share a flat? They end up with their own series, of course. Being Human explores the housemates' lives as they try to live normal lives with their abnormal conditions. The six-episode series stars Aidan Turner, Russell Tovey and Lenora Crichlow. A second eight-episode season of the BBC/BBC America co-produced series has been ordered.
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead, BBC America. Premieres July 26 at 8 p.m. The U.S. premiere of the first of the last four Doctor Who specials featuring David Tennant will have the Doctor joining forces with the mysterious Lady Christina (Michelle Ryan) when a London bus ends up on a detour to an alien world. The strange planet has secrets hidden in its sand and a deadly Swarm headed toward the bus passengers.

The Storm, NBC. Premieres July 26 and Aug. 2 at 9 p.m.RHI Entertainment's second big disaster miniseries shows what happens when you mess with Mother Nature. Treat Williams stars as a billionaire who funds a project that attempts to control the weather. Things don't go well. James Van Der Beek, Teri Polo, John Larroquette, Luke Perry and Marisol Nichols also star. Like the other miniseries this summer, The Storm premieres on consecutive Sundays.

Ghost Hunters, SCI FI. Premieres Aug. 19 and will air Wednesdays at 9 p.m. The ghost-hunting plumbers are back to continue their fifth season with an investigation of the Mudd House in Maryland, the Union County Courthouse in New Jersey and the Edgewood Plantation in Virginia. There promises to be more debunking and more shocking moments that even the seasoned investigators will find difficult to explain.

sci-fi wire...

Mark Sheppard reveals Warehouse 13 secrets and his guest role

Mark Sheppard, who is well known to sci-fi fans for roles in Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, told SCI FI Wire that he shot a quick-turnaround guest appearance on SCI FI's upcoming original series Warehouse 13.

"A while back, I got a lovely call from my friends at SCI FI, nine and a half pages of dialogue, to do in a day," Sheppard said in an exclusive interview Wednesday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, where he was promoting
The Conduit, in which he does a voice. "I was actually out doing publicity for The Conduit on the East Coast. And they called and said, 'Can you go to Toronto to rehearse on Sunday to shoot on Monday?' I'm like, 'I'm in New York. It's not that hard.' So it was perfect."
In the show, two Secret Service agents (Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly) find themselves abruptly transferred to Warehouse 13, a massive, top-secret storage facility in windswept South Dakota that houses every strange artifact, mysterious relic, fantastical object and supernatural souvenir ever collected by the U.S. government.
Sheppard will guest-star as Mr. Valda, the enigmatic representative of the Regents, the mysterious organization that controls Warehouse 13. He disapproves of Artie's (Saul Rubinek) methods as the team leader of the Warehouse and isn't afraid to let him know it.

Following is an edited version of our interview with Sheppard. Warehouse 13 premieres on July 7 and will air on Tuesdays. The Conduit comes out on June 23. (Possible spoilers ahead!)

You flew to Toronto?

Sheppard: I went up there and got to meet Jack Kenny, the executive producer. Amazing guy. There are really good people up there. I love what he's doing. SCI FI has been great to me. NBC and SCI FI. ... I went up and did several scenes with Saul Rubinek, who is one of my favorite actors, and CCH Pounder. They're just two powerhouse actors. They created a role for me, and I would like to think that the role will come back.

So tell us more about your character.

Sheppard: Well, Warehouse 13 is the repository of all supernatural stuff that has existed through time, and, as I understand it, tends to exist in the dominant superpower's realm. So one time it looked the Nazis were taking over, and it managed to burn itself down and reappeared a little later in America, who seems to have had control of it for a little bit. I've always liked the analogy that it's like the warehouse where they would have put the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. But it's a little cleverer than that. It's funny and witty, and it's got some great acting in it, and I think it's something that could be really exciting for SCI FI. We're dealing with Lewis Carroll's mirror and James Braid's chair. Some interesting stuff there, you know? It's very clever writing and very, very good acting all the way around.
I've been brought in as spokesperson for the Regents, who are the organization who look after the Warehouse. Sort of a Knights Templar for the Warehouse, if you will. It's an interesting position. It will be an interesting time. We shot our scenes in a very strange location for what it is that we were doing. It's going to be very interesting to see how this unfolds.
So where was it?

Sheppard: No, no, no. I'm not going to give that away. That's the good stuff. It was a lot of fun. I'm on Leverage, where Saul Rubinek played the guest in the pilot. I kept crossing paths with him, and never actually meeting him. I'm a huge fan of his. He's a fabulous actor, and he plays the guy who's really in charge, who runs the scene but looks after the Warehouse. It's a really good story. ...

You've worked more than once with Joss Whedon, first in Firefly and now in Dollhouse.

Sheppard: Joss is special. I don't always know what he's doing. I don't always understand what he's doing. I don't know that he always understands what he's doing [laughs]. But he's still brilliant. He's a lot of fun to play with. He likes to mix it up a lot. I play a role in Dollhouse called Agent Tanaka. You want to work out why I'm playing an agent Tanaka as a character in the show?

I was wondering ...

Sheppard: Well, hopefully someday we'll actually explain it to you. If we ever get to it. And he likes to mix stuff up. I mean, I'm such the obvious bad guy when you bring me into something. But he put me in this role where you're never quite sure what I'm going to end up as. It's a lot of fun for me, and I'm sure it makes him giggle a lot. ...
So you're here at E3 promoting the Wii game you do voice work on, The Conduit.
Sheppard: I love these guys [High Voltage Software, the game developers]. These guys are straight up and dead honest. It's the same thing to me. A great storyteller is a great storyteller. They've had 16 years of building other people's games. They go to build their own game, and they decide to make a first-person shooter for the Wii. I mean, how insane has that got to be?

Until you play the game and you go, "Wow, this is the smartest thing I've ever seen. ... They made it for us." I mean, we all have Wiis, so we all want something to play on it. ... But they brought me in real early for this. ... And I'm a gamer, and I love to play, and there's nothing better for me than to go sit in a Conduit booth and say, "Hey, I'll play multiplayer with you guys. I'll play with you all day."
sci-fi wire...