Saturday, October 31, 2009

What really happened to Sanctuary's Ashley

Syfy's Sanctuary did it: Last Friday's episode killed off Ashley (Emilie Ullerup).
Or did it? "Nobody dies in sci-fi," creator Damian Kindler said with a laugh. "No body. Habeas corpus."

In last week's ep, "Eulogy," Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) and Will (Robin Dunner) failed to find Ashley's body after she apparently gave her life to avoid killing her mom, and everyone accepted that Ashley had truly gone to that big abnormal zoo in the sky.

But why kill her off? Did Ullerup want more money? Have another job waiting in the wings? Were there personality conflicts behind the scenes? Maybe she wanted to go off to college or work for Obama?

"To be very honest about it, it was a decision we arrived at with our two major networks in the U.S. and Canada creatively, and we really felt it would have the deepest, most dramatic impact on the series and the characters," Kindler said. "We felt it was a very bold, kind of brave choice to make, and the more we looked at it, the more we felt it was a really strong choice, ... the strongest choice. We did it. We are also very aware that people don't necessarily have to die in sci-fi, the characters. But we felt one of the things that makes shows so attractive is when their characters' journey are hard, but they continue to strive no matter what."

As for Ullerup, Kindler vows that he adores her. "Emilie did an amazing job, embracing the direction and in playing that part in that scene so well," he said. "It wasn't easy for anyone, least of all Emilie, but it definitely was handled with the utmost grace and professionalism. Hats off to her for that."

As we all know by now, there's a new girl taking Ashley's place: Agam Darshi's Kate Freelander. Kindler acknowledges she may rub some people the wrong way. And he wanted that. At least so he says.

"I absolutely know there will be a backlash of people who will not like Kate," Kindler said. "I think people already don't like Kate, and it's absolutely by design. She's not likable yet. But I can absolutely guarantee you that 99 percent of the people who don't like Kate, by the end of the season will like Kate." Her moment to shine will be in the episode called "Penance," which guest-stars Stargate SG-1's Michael Shanks.
Tonight's episode, "Hero," deals with a man who thinks he's a crime-fighting superhero (it was written by Alan McCullough and directed by Martin Wood). And it's funny.

"It's an absolutely heartwarming and hysterical, action-packed tale, with the wonderful Chris Gauthier from Eureka in the guest-starring role," Kindler said. "I'd like to say you're going to see a new tone of humor in Sanctuary, and that's good. It's important. It's just as important as the heavy epic stuff. It's very heartwarming, too. Ryan Robbins [Henry] is lovely in this episode. I think there's just some lovely, funny and touching moments, and also a f'in great monster. A really great monster."
What about Ashley?

"Once we know for sure about a third season, there is definitely an Ashley story in there that we're developing, and I think it's very true to what we've done with the character," Kindler said. "The intention was to never kill her off with any finality. It was always to kill her off in a way that was dubious at best and fraught with inconsistencies and fraught with mystery and isn't completely solved even when they have to put her to rest and move on. I didn't want to milk that horse more than three episodes. I think that gave that arc its due, and then we had to move on to business as usual. We only have 13 episodes."
sci-fi wire...

'Hannibal Lecter' will be Thor's daddy

The cast of director Kenneth Branagh's upcoming Thor movie just gets more interesting: Captain Kirk's dad is going to play Marvel's hammer-wielding Norse god, and now comes news that Hannibal Lecter himself, Anthony Hopkins, will play Thor's big daddy: Odin, king of Asgard, Variety reports.

Makes sense: Hopkins has played kings before, notably Hrothgar in Bob Zemeckis' cartoon Beowulf.

According to Variety, Hopkins will pay father to both Thor (Star Trek's Chris Hemsworth) and his brother, the trickster god Loki, played by Tom Hiddelston. Queen Amidala, Natalie Portman, is Thor's love interest, the mortal human Jane Foster.

The film tells the story of Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior of Asgard. After his reckless actions reignite an ancient war, his father banishes him to Earth to live among humans. He learns the meaning of heroism when he stands tall as his arch-enemy from home sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.
The script was written by Mark Protosevich and Fringe writer/producers Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller.

The Mighty Thor, his hammer and winged helmet will arrive in theaters on May 20, 2011.
sci-fi wire...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

ENTIRE MOVIE of The Wolfman (J.K. Sort of.)

A bunch of new stuff for Universal's upcoming reboot of its classic horror movie The Wolfman, including a new trailer at and an image from EVERY SINGLE FRAME OF THE MOVIE!

(Not really ... but it sure feels like it. Click on the images below for larger versions.)
Here's how Universal describes the movie:

Inspired by the classic Universal film that launched a legacy of horror, The Wolfman brings the myth of a cursed man back to its iconic origins. Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro stars as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father (Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins),Talbot sets out to find his brother ... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself.

Joe Johnston (Jurassic Park III) directed The Wolfman, and six-time Oscar-winning special-effects artist Rick Baker brings his design and makeup talents to transform Del Toro into the fearsome title character. The Wolfman opens Feb. 12, 2010.
sci-fi wire...

What will ABC put in the skies over New York to promote V?

Anyone think a large airborne sci-fi stunt over New York post 9/11 is a bad idea?

Well, that was the consensus after Air Force One buzzed Manhattan. So ABC is making sure everyone knows that they are planning something silly in the skies over the Big Apple to promote the upcoming miniseries V.

No, not the arrival of giant UFOs hovering over Central Park, though that would be very cool. Here's how the
New York Post reports it:

Starting Friday, the giant red letter V—written by skywriting planes—will begin to appear over New York landmarks like the Statute of Liberty, the network says, to promote V, a remake of the 1980s miniseries, that begins next month. ...

ABC won't specify which landmarks will be getting the giant V treatment, but it will go on for several days, it says.

New Yorkers can expect to see the sky graffiti overhead early Sunday and again on Halloween.

Four episodes of V will air starting on Nov. 3 before taking a break and returning early next year.
sci-fi wire

Which Stargate star will play Hawkman in Smallville?

You can't keep a good Stargate actor down: First, Atlantis' Jason Momoa gets cast in HBO's Game of Thrones, and now SG-1's Michael Shanks has landed a role as Hawkman in an upcoming episode of The CW's Smallville!

Shanks, whom you know as Dr. Daniel Jackson, is one of two actors cast in the fledgling Justice Society episode on the before-Clark-was-Superman series, according to IGN:
We've known since this summer that the Justice Society would be coming to Smallville, in an episode written by comic book writer Geoff Johns, but so far the exact characters who would be part of the team were not revealed. ...

As it turns out, Hawkman and Doctor Fate will both be part of the Smallville incarnation of the Justice Society. This goes hand in hand with DC Comics, where both characters have notable histories with the team and its various incarnations, dating back to the 1940s.

Another Stargate player, Brent Stait, who guested on Atlantis and appeared in the Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods video game, will play Doctor Fate, the site reported.

The episode is slated to air in January. Not clear whether Shanks will have to put on the beaked cowl/winged hat of the classic Hawkman, but we'd pay money to see it.
sci-fi wire...

Atlantis' 'Ronon' to play a new fantasy warrior king

Last we saw Jason Momoa, he was landing in San Francisco Bay along with the entire crew of Atlantis in the finale of Stargate Atlantis. The good news for fans of the strapping Hawaiian-born actor is that he will appear soon in HBO's upcoming Game of Thrones pilot, based on George R.R. Martin's fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Momoa is reportedly being cast as Drogo, according to the Winter Is Coming blog. Momoa supposedly announced the casting at Armageddon Expo in Melbourne, Australia:

He just got the call the other day, and he said it hadn't been announced. He'll be filming in Morocco and doesn't like horses, so isn't looking forward to the horseback scenes. He also said that it'll be his first nude scene and first sex scene. ...
He also said when he went in for the audition he did a haka, as he thought it would be perfect for Drogo.

(A haka is a traditional Maori dance, so we've just learned.)
Here's how Wikipedia describes Momoa's character:
Drogo is a powerful khal, or warlord, of the Dothraki people, a tribal nation of expert riders and raiders in the steppes beyond the Free Cities. He is an accomplished warrior and has never been defeated in battle.

We're just spit-balling here, but it sounds like a good fit for the man who was Ronon.
The large ensemble cast also includes Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sean Bean, Mark Addy, Kit Harrington, Jennifer Ehle, Jack Gleeson, Peter Dinklage and Harry Lloyd.
sci-fi wire...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Syfy's Alice will premiere Dec. 6!

Syfy's new four-hour movie event Alice has been given a Dec. 6 airdate. Here's the official announcement:

Syfy's contemporary re-imagined spin on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland will premiere on Sunday, December 6th @ 9-11pm ET/PT and air over two consecutive nights. In this modern day spin on the classic stories by Lewis Carroll, Academy Award winner Kathy Bates (Misery) stars as the Queen of Hearts and Caterina Scorsone (Crash television series) as Alice.

Rounding out the stellar cast are Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show) as Dodo, Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) as the King of Hearts, Philip Winchester (Crusoe) as Jack Chase, Matt Frewer (Watchmen) as the White Knight, Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval) as Hatter, Harry Dean Stanton (Big Love) as the Caterpillar, Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica) as 9 of Clubs, Timothy Webber (Taken) as Carpenter, Alex Diakun (Sanctuary) as Ratcatcher, Zak Santiago (Kingdom Hospital) as 10 of Clubs, and Eugene Lipinski (Animorphs) as Doctors Dee and Dum.

For this re-imagined adaptation, writer/director Nick Willing mines the bizarre ingenuity and twisted logic of Carroll's work to create a daringly different, boldly colorful and delightfully skewed dreamscape of his own. Willing also directed the record-breaking, Emmy-winning miniseries Tin Man for Syfy in 2007. Serving as Executive Producers for this ambitious new event are Matthew O'Connor and Lisa Richardson from Reunion Pictures, Jamie Brown from Studio Eight and RHI Entertainment's Robert Halmi, Sr. and Robert Halmi, Jr.

Using the classic Lewis Carroll books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass as a jumping off point, writer/director Nick Willing has created the modern-day story of Alice Hamilton, a fiercely independent twenty-something who suddenly finds herself on the other side of a looking glass. She is a stranger in an outlandish city of twisted towers and casinos built out of playing cards, all under the rule of a deliciously devilish Queen who's not very happy about Alice's arrival.
sci-fi wire...

Leonard Nimoy says Star Trek doesn't need him anymore

Leonard Nimoy may have made his final appearance as Spock in the Star Trek reboot. He says he doesn't think the series needs him anymore. As plans for a sequel develop, Nimoy does not expect to be involved.
"I frankly, frankly doubt that I will be called upon again," Nimoy said in a conference call on Oct. 7 while promoting his appearance on Fringe. "I think I was useful in his last film to help bridge between the original characters, the original actors, and the new cast. They have a wonderful new cast in place, and I'm sure they'll move ahead with them."

Nimoy also joked about the new moniker, Spock Prime, meaning he is the Spock from the original timeline but clearly different from the Spock that Zachary Quinto will grow to be.

"That's right, I'm in the prime of my life, right," Nimoy laughed.
Still, the original Spock's appearance in Star Trek meant more than just passing the torch. Longtime trekkers choked back tears as Spock Prime confessed his friendship to young Kirk. Even though the Quinto, Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, etc. cast is now established as the Enterprise crew, no one would object to another appearance by Spock Prime.

"I don't see, at the moment, why they would need me in the next film, although if they called me, I'd be happy to have a conversation about it," Nimoy said. "My understanding is they're working on a script right now. I expect there's going to be some time before they really know exactly who they need and what they need."
sci-fi wire...

J. J. Abrams may bring back Peter Graves for M:I 4

J.J. Abrams was shocked to learn that original Mission Impossible TV series star Peter Graves was interested in a part in the movie series. Three film adaptations have gone by without him, but now that Abrams is developing a fourth, Graves' representatives have reached out to the producer/director.

"I just got a call that Peter Graves is in great shape, which would be a very bizarre bend in the space-time continuum, for obvious reasons," Abrams said in a press conference in Santa Monica, Calif., on Oct. 8, where he was promoting Star Trek on DVD.
Jon Voight played Jim Phelps in Brian De Palma's Mission: Impossible, in a plot that strayed from the canon of the TV series. In addition to addressing whether Graves would be a version of Phelps, Abrams would also have to address his comedy legacy as Captain Oveur in the Airplane movies.

"I almost feel like you could make him serious again and bring him back," Abrams said.
Abrams brought Leonard Nimoy back as Spock Prime in his Star Trek reboot. Nimoy also played Paris on the Mission: Impossible TV series, so Abrams has an "in" with two series favorites.

"Whether it's Nimoy, who I have an incredible affinity for, or Graves, or anyone, we'll see."

As director of Mission: Impossible III, Abrams had reached out to Martin Landau, who played Rollin Hand in the original series. So he's been open to including original cast members since he took over the series.

"I actually tried to get Martin Landau in Mission 3, in a very small little moment just for fun, and was told that he had no interest in doing it," Abrams shared. "But then, when I met him after the movie came out, it was the greatest thing. We were at this restaurant in New York, for one of the TV up-front parties, and someone introduced me to Landau. They took me over and Martin Landau came over to me, extended his hand and [pretended to lift his face off]. That was the greatest thing I'd ever seen."
Abrams has signed to produce the fourth Mission: Impossible with Tom Cruise. He has not announced whether he would direct it.
sci-fi wire...

We've got juicy details on Sanctuary season 2

Season two of Sanctuary kicks off tonight on Syfy at 10 p.m. ET/PT, and we've got some juicy information for you that comes straight from the set in Vancouver. Executive producers Amanda Tapping (also the star, of course), Damian Kindler and Martin Wood answered a bunch of questions during a press visit, and we learned quite a bit about where the show is going. Warning, some of this is spoiler-ish:
How season two starts and where it goes: "The idea was to definitely wrap up the amazing corner we painted ourselves into in the first season," Kindler said. "Beyond that, the mission was to deepen things and really let the show find its feet."
Meet Kate Freelander: Kate is a new character who joins the Sanctuary team this year. She's played by Agam Darshi and Tapping described her as "this con artist, rough-around-the-edges, swindler, grifter. She knows enough about the abnormal network, knows enough about the Cabal, knows enough about the Sanctuary, to be dangerous."

Tesla is back! And not just as his sarcastic, wisecracking self. Kindler said everyone's favorite inventor/vampire will have some kinder, gentler moments with the rest of the characters on the show. As well as being his sarcastic, wisecracking self, of course.
Something gets out of hand: "We do get a little teleportation-happy in season 2," Kindler admitted. He jokingly justified that by saying it's a really cool special effect, although the consequences of using it get a little glossed over this time around. (Remember, this is the ability that drove John Druitt mad.)
Get ready for Henry: "You'll see a lot more of Henry this year," Tapping said. "He is huge in season two."

Don't expect cookie-cutter bad guys: "I think one of the traps that some TV shows find themselves in is that they create a big bad guy or an organization that can breed more bad guys, and they keep going back to "Oh, now we're back to the bad guy factory. There's a new version." Kindler promised that won't happen with Sanctuary.

Amanda Tapping and Helen Magnus both go crazy: Tapping said she's directing an episode in which Magnus is accused of murder and is slowly going insane. "I was slowly going insane, so no acting was required!" she said about trying to balance her duties as producer, star, mother and director.

Expect more CGI characters: Now that the Sanctuary team has mastered creating computer-generated backgrounds and locations, Wood said they're trying their hands at more 3-D characters. "You have a new character every week," he said.

Going global: You'll get to see other Sanctuaries in exotic locales like Tokyo and Mumbai. Oddly enough, unlike most of Sanctuary's locations, the Tokyo footage is real and not a green-screen effect. Kindler, Wood, Tapping and co-star Robin Dunne were visiting Japan for the launch of the show there, and they decided to shoot some footage.

How the season ends: There's going to be a Bollywood dance number, a 50-foot spider and a situation Kindler compared to being on the tip of the prow of a sinking ship. "We knew we wanted to get to a very very, dire place at the end of season two."
And just a hint about season three: "Should there be a season three, we have a much longer view of where we want things to go for the characters," Kindler said.
And finally, Tapping joined Dunne (@robindunne) and Kindler (@damiankindler) on Twitter. You can follow her at @AmandaTapping. We are.
sci-fi wire...