Monday, August 30, 2010

Seven of Nine was almost whacked—and more!

Writer/producer Brannon Braga is one of the more controversial figures in Star Trek. (Hey, the guy actually received death threats after killing off Capt. Kirk in Generations.) But if he'd had his way—metaphorically speaking, of course—with Jeri Ryan's Star Trek: Voyager character Seven of Nine, believe us, things would have gotten even WORSE.

In a recent interview with SFX magazine, the former Star Trek: Enterprise and Voyager show runner shared his belief that Seven of Nine should have been killed off:

"It was my feeling that Seven Of Nine should have died. If you watch the episode 'Human Error' written by Andre Bormanis, it was not only a heart breaking episode in that Seven Of Nine learns, as she begins to explore her human emotions, that she can't experience them. There's a Borg chip inside her that will kill her if she tries to do so. First of all, that's kind of an interesting 'rape victim' analogy or whatever you want to call it, about a damaged woman who can't get past what happened to her, but I also always saw it as a crucial episode that would set up the finale.
"This was a woman who knew she was neither here nor there. She couldn't go back to the Borg, nor would she want to, but she could never be fully human, so she was doomed. And I wanted to have her sacrifice herself to get her shipmates home."
sci-fi wire...

Sigourney: James Cameron told me I'll be back in Avatar 2

It was great to see Ripley herself, Sigourney Weaver, back in a kick-ass sci-fi movie like Avatar. Too bad they killed her off, though. (Sorry for the spoiler, but it's like the biggest movie of all time—haven't you seen it already?)

Dr. Grace Augustine took a bullet in her human form, so the Na'vi tried to permanently transfer her into her avatar. From what it looked like in the film, Grace didn't survive the transfer, so there's no way she'll be in Avatar 2, right?

"Darling, that's not true," Weaver assured fans in an interview on Aug. 27 in Beverly Hills, Calif., where she was promoting the comedy You Again. "She didn't maybe die. Maybe she's just in the tree."

We can certainly take Weaver's word for it if she was suggesting Grace could come back as a tree. And she's not just guessing. James Cameron's been plotting ideas for a sequel, and they still include Weaver.

"I'm not allowed to say anything, but he certainly made a lot of notes over the last year of where to move on," Weaver said. "I think he really wants to keep the team together as much as he can."

This is Pandora we're talking about, so Grace could come back as pretty much anything Cameron wanted. That suggestion must have struck a nerve. "You stop there," Weaver teased. "I'm not allowed to say anything."

One thing's for sure, it would still be Grace. With the performance-capture technology Cameron invented for Avatar, he could just recast her as a different character and change her look. That would be cool to bring Weaver back, but she's positive it's still going to be Grace.

"I think that would be odd [to play someone else]," Weaver said. "But it's not clear if Grace could have the possibility of coming back in a different form."

If you can't wait to see Grace's return, there is a little more of her in the new extended cut of Avatar released this weekend. "There's a lovely scene where Grace brings Jake and Norm to her old schoolhouse, which is now deserted, when they first meet her. Then there's a little added delight in the Jake/Neytiri love scene."

Wait, they put the Na'vi sex back in? They kept going back and forth about that one. "It's back, it's back," Weaver said.

Weaver saw all the additional scenes and raved about one that doesn't even involve her. "In this version, which Jim took me through, I was able to see all this footage that's going in. There's the most amazing thing called the sturmbeasts. It's like a big buffalo hunt, and you're really in this hunt with these gigantic wonderful creatures called sturmbeasts with the other Na'vi with your bow and arrow. That's the longest sequence, and it's so visceral. You are there."

Then there will even be more Grace in the special-edition DVD. "In the DVD there's a whole series of scenes between Grace and Jake talking about the Na'vi and her relationship with them and his relationship with them. Really, for the original movie I think you didn't need it. It was done without all that dialogue, but it's cool to see. If not in this one, it's going to be in the DVD."
sci-fi wire...

Doctor Who producer promises 'game-changing cliffhanger'

Shocking news in the world of Doctor Who today: The BBC just announced that series six will be split in two for the first time since it started in 2005, with one block of episodes airing over the spring of 2011 and the second one airing in the fall.

Steven Moffat claims that the move will essentially turn series six into two separate series, but more importantly, that there will be a GAME-CHANGING cliffhanger separating the two.

That's what the show runner revealed while speaking during the Edinburgh International Television Festival. And that game-changing cliffhanger—whatever that will be—is what will lead to the series being split in two.

Steven Moffat said:

"Looking at the next series I thought what this show needs is a big event in the middle.
"I kept referring to a mid-season finale. So we are going to make it two series—seven episodes at Easter building to an earth-shattering climax, a cliffhanger we could never normally do because it would be too long before it came back. An enormous game-changing cliffhanger that will change everything.

"The wrong expression would be to say we are splitting it in two. We are making it two separate series."

So what do you think about this news? Any guesses as to the kind of "earth-shattering climax" Moffat could be coming up with? And—what do you think of the idea of having a season split into two separate series?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Inception's dream sequences force X-Men: First Class rewrites

You may have been thrilled, puzzled, moved, bewildered, excited or confused by Inception, but one thing we're willing to bet is that your heart didn't sink when you watched Christopher Nolan's latest hit. No, only one person felt that way—director Matthew Vaughn, who suddenly realized he'd have to make massive changes to the script for X-Men: First Class.

Vaughn, who's working on the X-Men prequel film in London, took a break yesterday to catch a showing of Inception, and was horrified to discover that the film's dream sequences meant he'd have to scrap at least a dozen pages of the script for First Class.

"I saw Inception, which I loved," Vaughn said today. "But my heart sank when I saw that a few of the ideas we had were up [on the screen]. So it's either leave it in and look as if you're copying or change things. We completely ripped out about 12 pages of the script and the storyboards."

According to herocomplex:

The jettisoned sequence was a sort of dream-space combat, according to Vaughn; that reminded me of "psi war" scenes like the one ... from The Uncanny X-Men No. 117 way back in 1979, but the filmmaker said for the film the fight involving Professor X (James McAvoy) and some other mutants was to going to be presented with spinning rooms and other physics-bending imagery—visions that he felt drifted too close to signature moments in "Inception."
Do you think Vaughn was right to react this way? Or should he have left his planned storyline intact?

X-Men: First Class is due to be released June 3, 2011.
sci-fi wire...

Quentin Tarantino may (or may not) direct The Shadow

Remember that 1994 movie about The Shadow? We do, though we wish we didn't. (Sorry, Alec Baldwin!) Luckily, a new big-screen adaptation is coming, one we've known about for a while. But the latest news on the project—one that might be nothing more than a rumor—could bring aboard a new director who'd wipe that earlier film from our minds.

According to pajiba, Quentin Tarantino is currently in discussions to direct:

... the person that is now attached to the project is none other than Quentin Tarantino, who is also attached as co-writer. ... The Shadow has never been mentioned among the 27 dozen projects that Tarantino has always been obsessed with. Maybe he loved original radio show and the pulps (which do seem up Tarantino's alley), and maybe he saw Siavash Farahani's script and decided that, if anyone could erase the memory of Alec Baldwin's atrocity, it'd be him. Maybe Tarantino just loves the challenge. Or maybe he's just added this to the huge pile of future possibilities and has no intention of ever directing. All I know is that, for the moment, he is being discussed (and this is a two-way discussion) and or already attached as the future director of The Shadow.
This is one rumor we're hoping turns true. Whether it does or not, what do you think about a Tarantino-flavored Shadow?

sci-fi wire...

Details about DC's epic Justice League movie you'll never see

Everyone's been talking about the big-screen Avengers movie Marvel managed to pull together. But what about that other epic supergroup movie, the one that couldn't get off the ground? An actor who was going to appear in DC's Justice League tells us about the $300 million blockbuster that might have been.

Jay Baruchel, most recently seen in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, explained what "the single most expensive movie in the history of movies" (his words) would have been like:

"I'll just say this, if we had been able to make the movie that we had gone down [to Australia] to rehearse, if you had seen the production art I'd seen ... it would've been the coolest thing ever. It would have been the neatest vision of Batman and the coolest vision of Superman you've ever seen. It would have been dark and fairly brutal and quite gory and just $#%@-ng epic."
Now that you've heard what Baruchel had to say about the movie that would have been directed by George Miller, are you glad the high pricetag got the project cancelled? Or would you have wanted to see what sounds as if it would have been a Watchmen-like Justice League?

sci-fi wire...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eureka's SARAH smart house is almost here. Want to test it out?

What if your house knew how you liked your coffee? Could anticipate what kind of music you'd want to hear given the situation? That's exactly the kind of technology a team at the University of Essex in the UK tests in their iSpace apartment and lab.

It's the kind of easy livin' that's been the driving vision behind stuff such as SARAH from Eureka, pictured above.

The Essex crew use what they call "ambient intelligence" to tie the whole home together. The occupant's patterns are identified: What time do you make coffee? How often do you do laundry? How bright do you keep the lights? The iSpace home would be able to do all these things for you based on your behavior.

It's a wonder if we'll ever get to live in houses like this one day, or if it'll be reserved only for the very rich. For what it's worth, if you're planning a trip to the UK the iSpace team is actually looking for volunteers to stay in the dorm.
sci-fi wire...

New Battlestar Galactica series about the Cylon War coming!

Syfy is working on a new Battlestar Galactica series that will follow the exploits William "Husker" Adama during the Cylon War. According to the Chicago Tribune, the show is called "Blood and Chrome" and will be an online series with about 10 episodes, each around 9 minutes long.

According to Mark Stern, Syfy's executive vice president of original programming and the co-head of original content for Universal Cable Productions, "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica" co-executive producer Michael Taylor will write the the script for the new venture.
"Blood & Chrome" is "about a young man's initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media," according to Taylor.

"Blood & Chrome" would consist of nine or 10 episodes of nine or 10 minutes each, and it would make use of cutting-edge digital technology and special effects to depict the Cylon War. If it is greenlit to production, it will be filmed using green screens and virtual sets, not unlike Syfy's "Sanctuary" or James Cameron's "Avatar." Before "Battlestar Galactica" ended, high-tech scans were made of all the show's sets, so that the special-effects team will be able to re-create them (possibly even in 3D).

Taylor revealed some other details to the Tribune:

"I've seen the virtual, 3D version of CIC ['Battlestar's' Combat Information Center] and it's pretty damn cool," Taylor said. "And yet the movie isn't confined to Galactica. Far from it. It's a story that will take us to new corners of the 'Battlestar' world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I'm thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq--the reality of 'Hurt Locker,' Sebastian Junger's 'Restrepo,' and similar movies--as I am about about the largely implied past of 'Battlestar.'"
If the series is successful, more could follow.
sci-fi wire...

The final scene of Smallville? We WILL get to see that Super suit!

Whether you're addicted to Smallville or your interest in the Kryptonian farmboy waned a long time ago, you'll want to watch as the series says goodbye—because executive producers Kelly Souders and Brian Wayne Peterson told us that its 10th and final year will get to pay off on that long-promised money shot. Yes, that one—Clark Kent putting on the Superman suit for the first time.

"We have all known images and pieces of the finale for years and years and years, starting back with [co-creators] Al [Gough] and Miles [Millar]," Souders said at a small roundtable after their San Diego Comic-Con panel Sunday. "They had ideas that they always talked about being in the final episode, and we love those ideas. We want to also honor the creators of the show, so there will be some images that literally come from Al and Miles, some from us and some from just years of our own wish lists. In a strange sense it's easy, because you know in that final moment he's going to be Superman. We know where he ends, so the pieces just fall into place."

Now just what that final shot will exactly look like—and, more importantly, which suit Tom Welling will adorn himself with—depends on what DC Comics has to say as Souder and Peterson pen the final episode script in spring 2011.

"There are a lot of different factors in that decision," Peterson said. "I think it will literally come down to the last two weeks of the show and if we know what the new movie is doing. There is every intention to get there, but the mandates really change depending on movie or TV developments."

However, Souders said that each episode of the 10th season will really create a purposeful journey to the transformative moment of Clark Kent's life.

"When we sat down to talk about this season, we asked, 'Why isn't he Superman today?'" Souders said. "We really looked at his character, and he's been a leader and certainly developed his skill set as Superman, but he's not Superman. If you watch the episodes right now, he's not that guy yet, so it was about moving him to that final point, and figuring what are the stumbling blocks and the obstacles, which is what we are going to be seeing. And one of the things we talked about was his past, so we'll see some ghosts from his past so he can have his final lessons from them and move on out of the dark mode into the light."

One of the more compelling of those ghosts will be in the form of James Marsters, who has played Clark's archenemy Brainiac on and off over five years. Souders confirmed he will be back in the 200th episode as Brainiac 5.

"It will sort of be an old villain and a new villain all in one," she teased. "There were things that we really wanted to encapsulate in the 200th, and we literally sat around for days trying to bring it together, and suddenly Brainiac 5 popped in and it all fell into place."

Peterson added, "It's the touchstone for the bigger theme this year, which is where we explore the past, the present and a little bit of the future. We get to touch on some memories and nostalgia, but as soon as we do that we explode into something nobody has ever seen on the show. There are some epic moments, but it's also really fun and romantic. I don't think people will be disappointed ... at least, I hope not!"

sci-fi wire...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Two new Superman rumors: One good, one that's just plain ugly

According to the Superman Homepage, it looks like the new Superman reboot currently scheduled for December, 2012 might have a director attached.

The new superhero epic, which will be produced by the filmmaker who was the guiding force behind Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan, has reportedly been offered to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson director Chris Columbus.

The script is by comic book adaptation vet David Goyer, who wrote the scripts for Nolan's two Batman epics and well as other genre mini-classics like Alex Proyas' Dark City.

The downside is that Goyer wanted to direct the Superman reboot, which will be a joint venture by Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures. An unnamed studio insider says, "[N]obody from either studio thinks he's good in that arena.... He's great at coming up with story and ideas, like George Lucas. It's his execution where he's weak which is why people like Chris and Jonathan Nolan [of the Batman movies] and Guillermo Del Toro [who directed Goyer's Blade II screenplay] have had the best results with his scripts."

Given Goyer's lackluster results in the director's chair, which include Blade: Trinity and the badly received horror movie The Unborn, maybe Warner and Legendary are playing it safe.
sci-fi wire...

Darth Vader actor David Prowse BANNED from Star Wars cons

The actor behind the mask of Darth Vader has been banned from the Star Wars Celebration V convention and any other Lucasfilm-associated events, he said on his site:

"It is with regret that I have been informed by my friends at C2 Ventures, Ben and Phillip, that I am not to be invited to C5 this year or any other Lucas Film associated events. After enquiring, the only thing I have been told is that I have 'burnt too many bridges between Lucas Film and myself' - no other reason given...I have also been advised by the promoter of Paris Manga in September that LFL (Lucas Film Limited) have requested no photo opportunities with the 501 Squadron, even though I am commander in chief of the 501"
There is a lot of speculation online about what "burnt too many bridges" means, but no one seems to know and Lucas and Prowse aren't saying. If we find out more, we'll let you know.

sci-fi wire...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Johnny Depp rumored to star in Doctor Who big-budget film

Johnny Depp as a lizard with an identity crisis? That we can get behind. But Johnny Depp as a Time Lord ... that we're not so sure of.

And yet that's what we might be seeing on the big screen a few years from now if the info uncovered by is correct.

An article at pubarticles presented the project as fact and reportedly passed on the following news:

Long-time producer of the television series Russell T. Davies reported that the reason he moved on from the show was due to the opportunity to transform the Doctor to the big screen. "Bringing the Who franchise to the theaters is a regeneration for the character beyond the usual one. A theatrical release has a greater range and can reach millions of more people than just the fans. There will be brand new concepts and the film will be just as adventurous, scary and humorous as the television programme. But none of us working the film will forget what makes the character great and interesting and the long-time fans will not be disappointed because yes, the Daleks make an appearance."
We'd love to provide you with a link to the original article so you can check it out for yourself, but we can't, because it has since been taken down. Which by itself would lead us to believe that this is nothing more than one big, fat rumor.

But the trustworthy did some digging on its own, reaching out to studio sources who said that "the casting of Johnny Depp as the Doctor for a 2012 film is confirmed."

Even though we're not sure what to make of it all, we thought you'd want to know about it. But whether or not it's true, would you be ready for a Johnny Depp Doctor Who?
sci-fi wire...

It's official! Andrew Garfield IS the new Spider-Man!

Star Trek's Anton Yelchin? Percy Jackson's Logan Lerman? Jumper's Jamie Bell? Sorry those screen tests didn't pan out for you, guys. But after teasing us for months, director Marc Webb and Sony Pictures have FINALLY made up their minds, and the new Spider-Man will be Andrew Garfield, best known for 2009's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Here's the studio's official announcement:

After a comprehensive worldwide casting search, Andrew Garfield has been chosen to portray Peter Parker when Spider-Man swings back onto the screen in 3D on July 3, 2012. The new film will begin production in early December directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.
Today's confirmation culminates what has been one of the most eagerly anticipated casting announcements in recent memory. Bloggers, pop culture speculators, and everyday fans have pored over and analyzed every conceivable online rumor in an attempt to discover the identity of the next actor to play Peter Parker. Garfield will immediately begin preparing for the coveted role.

The Spider-Man franchise is one of the most successful in film history and the three previous motion pictures have collectively grossed more than $2.5 billion in worldwide box office.

On selecting Garfield, director Marc Webb said, "Though his name may be new to many, those who know this young actor's work understand his extraordinary talents. He has a rare combination of intelligence, wit, and humanity. Mark my words, you will love Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker."

Commenting on the announcement, Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Matt Tolmach, President of Columbia Pictures said, "Spider-Man is a classic superhero—a young man who balances his responsibility to serve humanity and crush evil with the shyness and normalcy of someone struggling to find himself. The role demands an extraordinary actor. You need someone who can magically transform himself from Peter Parker into Spider-Man. An actor who will depict the vulnerability of youth and the strength and confidence of a legendary figure at the same moment. We have found that actor in Andrew Garfield. From the first time we saw him in the upcoming film The Social Network, to his glorious screen test, which floored all of us, we knew that we had found our new Peter Parker."

Producer Avi Arad added, "I'm incredibly excited about Andrew Garfield. In the Spider-Man tradition, we were looking for a smart, sensitive, and cool new Peter Parker who can inspire us and make us laugh, cry, and cheer. We believe we have found the perfect choice to take on this role and lead us into the future."

Producer Laura Ziskin said, "We are thrilled to have Andrew Garfield for this new incarnation of Spider-Man under Marc Webb's direction. We were fortunate enough to meet with a group of fantastically talented young men. In the end, we all agreed that in addition to being an extraordinary actor, Andrew had the right mix of humor, youth, and pathos, along with an underlying sense of strength and power necessary to bring Peter Parker and Spider-Man to life on screen."

The selection of Garfield was revealed at a press event in Cancun, Mexico for international journalists attending a media tour promoting upcoming films from Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Garfield is fast becoming one of the most respected and sought-after young actors working in the industry today. In a short career, spanning only five years, he has already been directed by, and starred alongside, some of the greatest names and received a BAFTA for a role that won him international praise.

Garfield most recently worked with director David Fincher on the upcoming film The Social Network. He previously starred for Spike Jonze on his robot love story I'm Here, which premiered at Sundance this year. He plays the lead male opposite Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan in Mark Romanek's Never Let Me Go, due for release later this year.

Other notable screen credits include Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus playing opposite Christopher Plummer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law and the late Heath Ledger, Robert Redford's Lions For Lambs, where he starred alongside Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep; Revolution Films' "Red Riding Trilogy - 1974" directed by Julian Jarrold, where he lead a stellar cast including Rebecca Hall and David Morrissey, and his unforgettable portrayal of a young ex-con in John Crowley's "Boy A," for which he earned the best actor BAFTA in 2008.

Garfield's career began in theatre and in 2006 his performances in "Beautiful Thing" (Sound Space/Kit Productions), "The Overwhelming," and "Burn / Chatroom / Citizenship" (Royal National Theatre) won him the Milton Shulman Award for Outstanding Newcomer at the Evening Standard awards and the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics Circle Theatre Awards. Other notable theatre credits include "Romeo and Juliet" (Manchester Royal Exchange) and "Kes" (Manchester Royal Exchange), for which he received the Most Promising Newcomer Award at the Manchester Evening News Awards 2004.
sci-fi wire...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Jonathan Frakes wants to do a Star Trek: Titan miniseries

This is more wishful thinking than anything else, but one enterprising fan is pushing for a Star Trek Titan miniseries that would star Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis. It would follow the adventures of Frakes as a captain of the U.S.S. Titan, a ship that was mentioned in Star Trek: Nemesis but never seen.

Although there is nothing officially happening around this that is known, the fan personally asked Frakes about it at a recent Phoenix Comic-Con and reported that Frakes "must have said 'I WISH' about seven times." Now this writer is wishing too.

The adventures of the Titan already exists as a series of novels that take place in the world of Star Trek after the events of Nemesis. They feature Comander Deanna Troi as Riker's wife and the ship's chief diplomatic officer/counselor, and also Comander Tuvok as a tactical officer.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

V's Valerie on lizard babies, mouse-eating and more!

What's a mother-to-be to do when she finds out her baby daddy has been lying to her from the start of their relationship and, beyond that, he's not even human? Actress Lourdes Benedicto (ER/24), who plays Valerie Stevens on ABC's V, told us in an exclusive interview that everything her character has been going through will come to a head in tonight's episode, "Heretic's Fork."

"What happens in tonight's episode is the climax of the relationship between her and Ryan and is what the audience has been waiting for, 'cause the audience has known all along that Ryan is a V and he has been keeping it from her," said Benedicto. "She's going to find out the truth of many truths tomorrow night. I think that's going to be really exciting and seeing her have to make decisions and deal with those decisions and repercussions. It is a good episode."

One of those truths involves the fact that Ryan (Morris Chestnut) actually slipped Valerie phosphorus from the mothership that was needed to insure the survival of the baby hybrid ... a pregnancy that wasn't supposed to be possible. And the baby's growing at breakneck speed, and the ultrasound pics show a tail.
"She won't be able to go back from [what he did], no," said Benedicto.
Trust may be a hard thing to come by when Valerie discovers what he's done, she admitted. "It's a sci-fi show, but ultimately what's great about it is that it really focuses on and tries to deal with real human emotions and real human situations," she said.
According to Benedicto, while Valerie's innocence will be lost, she'll gain something else. "I think what's great about this situation is that we'll get to see her really take command of her own fate, as much as she can, and really become a part of her own destiny and decide what she's going to do with this baby. And is she going to forgive Ryan? Is she going to trust him again? We'll see her struggle with those choices, and we'll see her make those decisions and the repercussions of that. I think that's the beauty of it. That's what we really want to see with our characters is how they deal with everything that life throws at them—especially lizard babies," she said with a laugh.

In the promo for tonight's episode, when High Commander Anna (played by Morena Baccarin) discovers that the pregnancy exists, Anna orders that the human woman carrying the "mongrel" baby and the Visitor who impregnated her be found and dissected. Then Anna releases one of her new supersoldiers to go after them.
Yes. They're pretty badass. The stakes are getting higher for everybody ... all the characters, the stakes are getting higher. The life-and-death situations are getting a lot more real and scary. These soldiers, they mean business. And there's going to be some pretty cool special effects in this episode, too. So it should be really fun to watch," said Benedicto.

Something else that was fun to watch this season was pregnant Valerie's ravenous appetite and her reaction to a dead mouse. In what was likely a nod to the original series, where the Visitors downed rodents as snacks, Valerie sees the dead mouse in a trap, picks it up, and for just a moment we think she might eat it.
"My character has definitely been the one that plays a lot of homage to the original, being that she has the alien birth and then with the rat and everything. So it is kind of nice to serve that purpose. ... As far as doing the scene, I was really afraid they were going to use a rat, as opposed to a mouse, and that I don't know if I could have actually, physically picked it up without probably hyperventilating. So once they decided it was a small mouse and a little mouse, it was lot easier to shoot," said Benedicto with a laugh. "And I just sort of had to jump in with both feet and not think about it too much."

V airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
sci-fi wire...

Iron Man 2 cast reveals behind-the-scenes secrets!

In anticipation of Iron Man 2's May 7 opening, the entire cast and director Jon Favreau met the press over the weekend in Beverly Hills, Calif., and we were there.
Following is an edited transcript of the entire press conference, which featured stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke and Don Cheadle, director Favreau, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and writer Justin Theroux.
For Robert and Jon, I wanted to ask what pressure you felt doing a sequel to the first, which was such a blockbuster?

Downey: Do you mean, like, feel like it's past tense? I didn't sleep last night. Jon?
Favreau: I've never done a sequel before, unless you count me being ... on Batman Forever as a sequel, as an actor. For me, there wasn't the same pressures that you're used to feeling, especially coming up with smaller movies ... where you're throwing a party and you don't know if people are going to show up. Here we knew people were going to show up. We just wanted to make sure everybody that showed up had a good time and this was going to be as fun or more fun than the last party. So, different kind of pressure. ...

Jon and Kevin, can you talk about the timeline for Iron Man 2 and how it fits in with Thor, Captain America and Avengers?

Favreau: I'll let Kevin field that one.
Feige: The second question, and it's about that? That's nifty. I think Jon has already revealed on his Twitter that Iron Man 2 takes place [before] or slightly concurrently with The Incredible Hulk. But other than that ... It takes place before, but if you're paying attention towards the end of the film, you'll see a little clue that tells you that it's happening before The Incredible Hulk.

Favreau: The whole idea of an easter egg is you don't talk about it. ...
Mr. Favreau, there was a snippet in the trailer where Pepper was in the plane with Tony. Was that meant to be a part of the Stark Expo scene where he's flying down from the plane?

Favreau: Yes. We had different versions of things that we tried. That was something that we tried, that was something that was a great image and a scene that's gonna be on the DVD. But we had two different versions of it, and because of the pacing and the way we reveal Tony Stark, it felt really good to flow into the drop down and reveal him for the first time on the stage. For those of you who haven't seen the movie, this doesn't make any sense. But oftentimes, in the editing room, we figure out what combinations of scenes ...

Downey: Gwyneth is just finding out that that scene was cut, Jon. You might be a little more sensitive.

Cheadle: You're in for a big surprise.
Paltrow: Nothing would surprise me.
Gwyneth and Scarlett, I think the Tony character is surprised that you guys can work together quite well later in the movie. Who do you think can work together better to save the world, you two girls or Tony and Rhodey? And why?
Paltrow: Well, if Scarlett and I were doing it, the body count would be different. Less bloody.

Johansson: More organized. We'd just stack them. I don't know, I mean, I think that we, with the brains and the muscle and the beauty and the blond, I feel like we'd have maybe a better chance, but you guys can fight for yourselves.
Paltrow: We're unstoppable.

Johansson: We are. It's true. Unstoppable. I don't know. I feel like if I could wield the guns and the karate-chop movements and you can, like, be the brains behind the operation. That's your one superpower. I will out-think you. ...
Mickey, that was an electrifying performance. Can you talk about what it was like to play that character and how much fun you had?
Rourke: I had a lot of fun.

Can you elaborate?
Rourke: I just woke up. It was great because I worked with some great people and he's, this one here [indicates Favreau], is real easy to work with, makes it fun. It was nice because I'd just come off working on a film that was no budget and I didn't have a chair to sit in. I remember the first day, I asked for a cappuccino and they said, 'What kind would you like?' ...

Justin and Jon, you guys discovered a lot on set on the first movie. How much did you discover this time, and Justin, how much of your script are we seeing on screen and how much is the group coming together and changing things?

Theroux: It's a heavily improvisational script in that everyone gets to sort of chime in. So my job as the writer was to really just stay on the dance shoes of Robert and Jon and Gwyneth and everybody and just sort of try and rewrite things on the fly. So we did have an extensive development process, obviously, sort of where we actually had a script. And then that ball just keeps rolling into production, and then once we're on set, it gets very frenetic and very fast.
Favreau: The story is very well fleshed out, the actual story; what has to happen in each scene we understand. We leave a lot of room within those scenes and try to do multiple cameras sometimes or stay up and rewrite. And Justin was doing multiple passes, sometimes double-digit passes on scenes, because we learned things from each scene that we shoot. We try to shoot pretty much in order. And what's nice about having the actors you see up here is they're all very good stewards of their characters emotionally and they're used to being in films where you don't have the safety net of all the high technology and the explosions. And so, if they have an issue with something we're asking the character to do for the story, we discuss it and we figure out a way so that it can work for them as a performer and also for the movie.
Don Cheadle, your character was played by
Terrence Howard in the first movie. How did you feel when the opportunity arose to play the role in this movie, and how cool was it for you to put on the War Machine suit?

Cheadle: Well, I don't know why the War Machine suit is actually made of metal and his [indicates Downey] was made of light fiberglass material. (Laughs.) Maybe it was just an initiation. But, you know, I felt very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work in a film like this. Terrence is a friend, and I've known him for a long time. I was one of the producers on Crash, put him in that, so it was good to also kind of see him and put anything to bed that people may have been thinking was a problem. It wasn't. We're cool. Look, it's a lot of fun. We get to play with the best toys and the best technology. It's just kind of doing what you liked to do as a kid, but all fleshed out. A lot of fun.

Downey: The reason Don's suit was heavier is that it's almost impossible to get that mirror-like look of a polished metal with CGI. I would not wish it on an enemy. ...
For the three gentlemen on the end, you've got a rogue's gallery with Iron Man, but it's not as well known as something like Batman or Spider-Man. Were there other villains considered? And talk about the decision to go with Whiplash and Mickey's casting.

Favreau: I met with Mickey at this hotel. Remember? I brought him some artwork and we thought, Whiplash in the comic book is a guy wearing tights with a big plume, big purple feather coming out of the top of his head. That wasn't what we wanted. But what's the tech version of that? ... And so we were thinking of, we were concocting a version of a Russian, thinking of Viggo [Mortensen] in Eastern Promises and the tattoos. That could be a cool in. So it's going to be a Russian, and then we're like, Marv [from Sin City] and The Wrestler, between those two, between the fan boys and the independent film community, he was back with a vengeance. It was like, "My God, there's a lot of people, we're not going to have a tremendous amount of screen time. Who's going to be able to be there, make an impression and you feel like this guy's in trouble?"

So Mickey brought a lot of intensity to both those roles. We did some artwork, and then I met with him, sat down with him, and we talked about everything. It was before all the awards started to happen. We had a nice little connection, and I talked to people that worked with him, and they said great things about him. His talent is undeniable. And so, that started, that conversation ended, and then Robert was on the road with him doing the tour, because he was on the Tropic Thunder awards tour, and he, I think, was lobbying every time they sat together to try to get him to join the movie.

Downey: I really worked you like a rib, didn't I? It was embarrassing. I was literally begging you in public. ...
Rourke: We had a great time. We had a lot of fun. I think we were, we were doing this improvisation where I said, 'Bring me some vodka. This wine is s--t.' And I just moved the wine over, and [Sam Rockwell] took his glass and said, 'Yeah, this is s--t.' (Laughs.) He was fun to work with.
Downey: Mickey, I think we've waited long enough. Can we please talk about the parrot already? (Laughs.) I don't know why the parrot is not on the poster personally.
Rourke: He's home.

Favreau: Yeah, he bought one after. It's the one that's in the movie. ...
For the two of you [Robert and Gwyneth], there's a real Moonlighting thing going on between the two of you, the banter between you is great. But the kiss was, of course, very highly anticipated. How was it shooting that scene?
Downey: I couldn't get her off me. It was embarrassing.

Paltrow: It was great, because both my husband and his wife were right there.
Downey: She said to me that I didn't know what I was doing, like it didn't feel good. And I'm like, you know what? First of all, we're all friends. So what would be creepy would be if I was coming off all sexy to you while we're shooting. ... By the way, I've done that in movies, and it creeps them out. So what am I going to creep you out for? ... Despite what she said on set, she still thinks about it. [Laughs.] ...
And finally, Scarlett was fantastic as Black Widow. There was talk of a spinoff movie. Is that still a possibility?

Favreau: Hell yes.
Feige: Yes. Absolutely.
Jon, we heard about a few of the scenes that might wind up on the DVD. What other cool extras do you have planned?

Favreau: Well, we have, there's a lot of featurettes. We were running cameras behind the scenes all the time. We don't like to really show too much of it before the movie comes out, to keep some surprises. But everything was very well documented, as you can see, a very interesting group of people. And so, between the interviews, you get a really good sense of ... We're fans of these movies, Kevin and I are always swapping back and forth books and things about the movies that we grew up loving. And so we document it very well, and so there's going to be pretty extensive featurettes and then commentary this time around, and then also deleted scenes that we thought would be interesting for people to see. So it's more a movie-fan set of extras, people who really want to immerse themselves. If you don't, it's going to be boring. If you don't like that kind of thing, it's going to be ... We did overkill on this one.

Gwyneth and Scarlett, can you tell us more about your specific roles in this movie and how, in this movie, you have strong, intelligent women? You aren't just sex symbols.
Johansson: Well, I think that I've never really seen a film of this genre where the female characters were, that they're kind of, that their sex appeal kind of came second. I mean, of course they're sexy characters. When you have a sexy secretary or a girl swinging around by her ankles in a catsuit, that's innately sexy, but these characters are ... They're intelligent, they're ambitious, they're motivated and calculated in some, to some degree. It leaves ... I probably would have, to be just a pawn in a story of a whole bunch of men just fighting it out and, you know, rolling around and getting down and dirty, and there you are to be sort of the vision in a tight catsuit is sort of a boring thing to me. I think that Jon made that really clear in the beginning, that he felt, as far as Black Widow or Natalie was concerned, that she was, you know, mysterious and nuanced and something to kind of peel back the layers to, that there was something there. He wanted that. I think that's why this film is so much more dynamic to me as an audience member. I've never been a huge fan of this genre, really. I think because it was always sort of one-note and very explosive. I think this, because Gwyneth and I are able to be the brains behind the operation in some aspect, there's kind of a happy medium there. It kind of adds to the charm, the charisma, of the finished project.

Paltrow: Oh. I agree with Scarlett. (Laughs.) I think it's a very smart decision, actually, to have women that are capable and intelligent, because it appeals to women. So it's not only a film for 15-year-old boys, it's a film that can relate to a lot people on a lot of levels. Like, a lot of my girlfriends like it because of the romance or Scarlett, the trailer, it's appealing. "Oh, who is she?" It doesn't look like, it doesn't look gratuitous. It looks like there are interesting women in the movie. Certainly from the first one, too. My character is quick, and she's articulate. It makes it so that, when you take your kid, if you're a mom, it's really fun for you to watch as well. It's really fun to see women who are kind of aspirational and smart, sexy all at the same time.
Cheadle: I think 15-year-old boys are going to like that too.

Johansson: It's awfully kind of old-fashioned, actually, in the best sense of the word. These characters are like those fabulous femme fatales of the golden age of Hollywood. That Bette Davis, more than the Jayne Mansfield, you know, which I think is so much more dynamic to watch. ...

Mr. Downey, I'm wondering about the physical challenges and perhaps the emotional and intellectual of this as well and what the boundaries of that were for you. ...
Downey: ... We just labored really hard to say, "OK, we're audience members who made the first Iron Man successful, and we're smart, which is kind of why we were drawn to it, so what do we expect?" We kept putting ourselves into audience seats. So, for me, the mental and emotional aspects and development of Tony were, to me, it's strange to say personal, because it's not necessarily relating to my life, so to speak, but just the mythology of saying you're something and being that thing are something entirely different.

And also this whole idea of Howard Stark and the legacy and the shadow of that legacy that we were always talking about, Mickey and I, about being kind of two sides of the same coin. One who was kind of able to escape that captivity and one who saw his father die in the ruins of improper recognition and having to reckon with that. So really all of the characters, you know, Black Widow/Natalie is bringing me back to an extended family I've always had, and Mickey, as Anton, is telling me that all is not well and people have vendettas for reasons I might not understand but I need to understand. And Rhodey is there saying, "Hey, you've always had me there on your wing, so why won't you really let me help you?" And obviously the Pepper thing is really about love. ...

(At this point, the Iron Man poster backdrop falls off its support frame, and Downey, Feige and Theroux begin clowning around with it until the press conference ends.)
sci-fi wire...

A surprise director for the controversial final Twilight

Summit Entertainment has officially confirmed rumors that Bill Condon, screenwriter and/or director of films such as Gods and Monsters, Kinsey and Dreamgirls—not to mention '80s genre fare such as Strange Invaders and Strange Behavior—has been hired to direct The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, the final entry in the massively successful film franchise based on Stephenie Meyer's novels.
Summit president of production Erik Feig said in the official press release, "Bringing Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn to the screen requires a graceful and intelligent hand, and we believe Bill Condon is exactly the right steward, having shown equal and abundant talents of immense creativity and subtle sensitivity."

Meyer herself chimed in, adding, "I'm so thrilled that Bill wants to work with us. I think he's going to be a great fit, and I'm excited to see what he does with the material."

The press release did not indicate whether Breaking Dawn would be subject to either of the trends that studios are currently enforcing on their tentpole pictures, i.e. being filmed in or converted to 3-D or broken up into two parts, although the latter has also been rumored for the Twilight finale.

The hiring of Condon comes following recent rumors that 30 Days of Night's David Slade—the director of the third installment in the series, Eclipse (out June 30)—had run into trouble with Summit over the tone of his film, with reports of reshoots and a change in editors on the project. The studio has sought to dispel those rumors, telling E! Online that it is "very happy with Slade."

Condon himself said in Summit's press release, "I'm very excited to get the chance to bring the climax of this saga to life on-screen. As fans of the series know, this is a one-of-a-kind book—and we're hoping to create an equally unique cinematic experience."
The filmmaker is perhaps understating the case. Breaking Dawn is the most controversial book in the series, and as reported by last November, its many outrageous plot points—Bella and Edward violently consummating their relationship, Bella's monster baby nearly tearing her apart during childbirth, and werewolf Jacob's unnatural relationship with the child—would present a challenge for David Cronenberg, let alone a more mainstream director like Condon (no word on whether he'll get a crack at writing the thing—regular Twilight screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg is back again).

Condon, however, did start out in genre work and has a feel for it, while his efforts on Kinsey and Dreamgirls also show a flair for the sexually provocative and the theatrical, respectively. He'll get a chance to bring all that to the table for Breaking Dawn, while juggling the demands of Summit, Meyer and, most important, the fan base.
sci-fi wire...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Resident Evil: Afterlife: New monsters, new heroes, new FX

♦The new film, shot in high-def 3-D with the same cameras used in Avatar, will be heavily influenced by the Resident Evil 5 video game, with Wesker as the main villain and brother-sister team Claire and Chris Redfield (Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller) joining Alice (Milla Jovovich).
♦Forget the
crappy 3-D back conversion of Clash of the Titans; this film was conceived from the ground up as a 3-D feature, and it looks fabulous.
♦The new movie will feature new costumes, new locations and new music and will be more global in scope, with a story that ranges from Alaska to Japan to Los Angeles and onto a massive Umbrella Corp. ship.
♦There will be familiar creatures from the games, as well as some new ones, including underwater zombies, burrowing zombies and split-headed zombie dogs.Following the report of our set visit is an edited Q&A with director Paul W.S. Anderson, who steps behind the camera again.
On a day in November of last year, we visited a set that was a giant white room with walls that appear to be braced steel, apparently aboard the Umbrella ship. There are vertical man-sized glass cylinder pods, as well as examination tables on which lie "bodies" of the undead in white jumpsuits.

There's a giant white door at one end.
We're watching the action unfold on a high-def 3-D video monitor; the action is actually being shot in 3-D. "Wesker," played by Shawn Roberts, is in a chair, wearing a black Matrixy-looking outfit. His black profile pops against the stark white background.
In the shot, Wesker dodges something thrown at him (knives, which will be inserted in post-production) by Alice (Jovovich).
In another scene, we watch a fight scene between Bennett (a henchman played by Kim Coates) and Alice. In one shot, Coates—who is dressed in a battered black suit —trains a pistol on Alice. Alice does a roundhouse kick to knock the gun out of Bennett's hand, then kicks him square in the chest.
After one take, Coates shakes his hand: Jovovich has apparently kicked his hand instead of the gun. "That was just the finger," he says with a smile.
In another take, she misses the gun and hand entirely. "I missed the gun. ... It was too high. ... Can you hold it a little higher?" She laughs good-naturedly.

In another take, she nails both the gun and Coates square in the chest. After the cut, she flashes that big famous smile.
Another scene: Jovovich has to act as if snarling vicious zombie dogs have just entered the room, ready to attack. They're not really there, but she acts as if they are: She freezes, backs up slowly, a sharp intake of breath, a narrowing of the eyes, looking around, primed, then quickly dodges to the left, as if something has leaped at her, and quickly runs out of frame.
Later, as a lighting reference for the visual-effects guys, crew members bring in models of the dogs themselves and place them in the white room, then move them around. The zombie dogs are black and bloody, and their heads split open vertically to reveal large ranks of nasty teeth.
To lampoon this activity, Jovovich later brings in a small piece of plastic dog poop, places it on the floor, then moves it around. The crew laughs heartily.
We also toured the art department, where we saw concept sketches and designs of the various locations and props in the movie, as well as the props themselves, including shiny bladed weapons in a leather wrap and a mockup of an Umbrella Corp. nuclear weapon.

Paul W.S. Anderson, talk about coming back to this franchise as a director and what you brought you back and what you want to do with it that's different.
Anderson: I never really thought I went away, because I've written all of the movies, and I've produced them all and certainly provided services above and beyond the average producer on two and three. I was on set most of the films and called "action" and "cut" a lot of times and did all that good stuff. And so I was excited about the fourth movie, I guess, conceptually, because what I felt we should do with it, we should try to make it a conceptual jump, like Terminator did [with] T2. It was still the Terminator franchise, but it was something kind of bigger and grander. That was our idea with this Resident Evil, to make that kind of conceptual jump. It will still be Resident Evil, it will have all the really cool Resident Evil things in it—the characters from the game, the dogs that you've seen—but, you know, the dogs on a new level. These dogs are a massive improvement on the dogs before. I think some of the sets we're building, the locations we're using, are giant. Again, like a big conceptual jump to try and make the movie kind of a bigger and grander event than the first trilogy was.
Was there a particular game? It seems like there's an aura of Resident Evil 5 over this one.
Anderson: Yes. ...
I kind of knew they would tell me that Wesker was in the game, kind of, but they would never really confirm it. And, sure enough, he was the main villain. He was the main villain in the movie as well. And completely by coincidence, a large chunk of this movie takes place on a big ship, and there was the ship from Resident Evil 5. We had the dogs in already. We had an awful lot of stuff that they had already put into Resident Evil 5, so what I did was, I just did a whole big pass on the script to kind of bring it more in line with the imagery of the latest game, because I thought the latest game was fantastic. ...
There's a whole fight scene that we're about to shoot that we start next week with Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller, which is taken almost—well, is taken—shot by shot from Resident Evil 5. ...

It's where Chris is fighting Wesker, ... the two of them are fighting Wesker, and the character from the game, we're putting Claire in there, so it's brother and sister fighting against Wesker.
What's great in the game is it's one continuous shot, where the camera rotates around Wesker fighting the two, and he just kicks their asses. But they never cut, which of course you can do in animation. It's a bit more difficult in live action. So what we're going to do is we're probably going to shoot the fight in 10 different segments and then seam it together in visual effects so the finished effect will be as though the camera never stops rotating around.
It's really cool, because you go around them and then you kind of go underneath. It's going to be a nightmare, and everyone's tearing their hair out on set trying to figure out how to do it, especially with the 3-D rigs, which are huge. You've probably noticed that.
It's a very different experience shooting in 3-D, because the camera rigs are so large. Everything we've become accustomed to in the last 10 years as filmmakers, which is cameras getting smaller and smaller and you can just throw them on your shoulder and stick them in a car and do whatever you want, you can't do any of that now. You're forced to put things on dollies and track and cranes. It's kind of like a throwback to an old-school way of filmmaking. So for this kind of very flexible shoot, we're having to reinvent the wheel a little bit.
In terms of the story, how do you re-conceptualize the Resident Evil movie for 3-D with this change in the way you have to shoot it?
Anderson: I wrote a script that I felt kind of emphasized depth, because I think that's very suitable to 3-D, obviously. But I kind of feel like I've always directed movies a little like they were ride films anyway. ...

sci-fi wire...

Chris Evans doesn't know jack about Captain America

You may have read something, somewhere about this little movie called Captain America and who might be playing the lead role: former Fantastic Four co-star Chris Evans. Did you know he's not even much of a fan?

"I'm not a big comic-book reader," Evans told a news conference at WonderCon in San Francisco on Saturday, where he was promoting the upcoming
The Losers. "You know what I mean? I don't really have a history and a love for comics. I didn't grow up reading them. But they're fantastic for films."

Evans beat out a host of young Hollywood actors for the coveted role, including The Office's John Krasinski.

"The beautiful thing about comic books, even movies based on novels, you have a blueprint," Evans added. "You have a tangible thing to say, 'Listen, this is the story we're going to work.' Especially in comic books. You have a color palette. You have a visual home base to kind of root yourself in. So, as an actor, it's nice knowing the people behind the visual elements of the film have this kind of blueprint to work off of."

So why Captain America? "I don't know," he stammered, as the gathering of reporters laughed. "I don't know. It's just, ... it was, ... I don't know." He chuckled.
"I think Marvel is doing a lot of good things right now," he said. "And it's a fun character. Even if it wasn't a comic book. I think the story of Steve Rogers is great. He's a great guy. Even if it was just a script about anybody, I would probably want to do it. So it wasn't necessarily about the comic itself. It was about ..."
At this point, Evans' Losers co-star Zoe Saldana chimed in: "It was about the tights."
Evans laughed. "Anytime I can get in blue tights. ... He's a great character. He's a great character to play. He just happens to be a comic-book character."

Not sure how comic fans are going to feel about that. Especially after the casting drama. But it certainly doesn't hurt to have the lead character working on, well, the character and not the franchise.

The First Avenger: Captain America will be released on July 22, 2011. The Losers opens April 23.
sci-fi wire...

Cool! New Buck Rogers to get the Iron Man treatment

Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson next takes on the classic sci-fi franchise Buck Rogers, and he told reporters at WonderCon that he's going back to the original concept—a man thrust 500 years into the future (in this case, the 26th century)—with the help of the guys who put the spark in Tony Stark.

Screenwriters Art Markum and Matt Holloway are working on a Buck Rogers script, and that's a good sign: They worked on the script to the first Iron Man movie, so they've done well by comics before.

The writers have hashed out a storyline going back to the original concept. "You take a relatable modern-day man, you put him in the far-flung future," Anderson told a group of reporters in San Francisco on Saturday, where he was promoting Resident Evil: Afterlife. "I think what Markum and Holloway will do—which they did with Iron Man—which is bring a lot of kind of humanity and character to the story. So I think they're going to write a great Buck character in the way that they wrote a great Tony Stark character."

"I always start with a love of the source material," Anderson said. "That's the thing all of those things have in common. I love Aliens and Predators. I used to play and love Mortal Kombat. I love Resident Evil. I love Buck Rogers. I read the comic strips as a kid, the old comic strips. I watched the TV show. I love the source material, and then I take that love and knowledge of the source material and then try and put my own spin on it."

Anderson added: "In the case of Buck Rogers, I'm going to have the help of Markum and Holloway, who wrote the original Iron Man [and] who are terrific writers. It's not just going to be me. They're going to be bolstering my visual vision of what Buck should be with, I think, some tremendous character work."
Buck Rogers was last adapted as a television series in 1979, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Anderson promises a serious sci-fi epic adaptation from his team. "You're dealing with Earth in 500 years' time, so your imagination can run rampant as to what that is," Anderson said. "We're going to do it straight. There won't be the kind of camp factor that you had in the '70s show."
sci-fi wire...

Star Wars: Clone Wars to reveal Boba Fett's mysteries

An upcoming series of Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes promises to fill in the backstory of the young Boba Fett, the bounty hunter introduced in The Empire Strikes Back, the show's creators told us at WonderCon. (Spoilers ahead!)

"I wanted to ask the question: How does he become that guy?" supervising director Dave Filoni said in an exclusive interview in San Francisco over the weekend. "Much like George [Lucas] did with Darth Vader, but Boba's path is already set kind of in a much more direct way than young Anakin, because he saw his father die firsthand at that very early age [in Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones]. How did that affect him? How does that raise questions about the clones that are around him, because they look like his dad? He's a clone, but does he feel like a clone?"

Attack of the Clones explained that Boba was a clone of Jango Fett, with aging slowed down to appear as his son. Now the animated series shows how female bounty hunter Aurra Sing became an important figure in Boba's adolescence. "How does Aurra come in, and what is she doing mentoring him, and what is she asking of this kid?" Filoni said. "Why does she want to work with the kid? Does she see something of herself in him? These are all things that we discussed when we were building to the characters to put into the story."

To voice the animated form of Boba Fett, Filoni got Daniel Logan, the young actor who played Boba in Attack of the Clones. Logan's a little older now, but he's still young Boba. "It was kind of like putting on a pair of boots that you haven't put on for a long time, and trying to fit an 8-inch foot into an 7-inch boot is kind of different," Logan said. "My voice got a little bit [deeper]. I started getting hair on my chest and all the rest of my body, and something happened."

Filoni said Logan's voice still preserves the qualities he needed to portray young Boba Fett. "The voice worked well, though, I think," Filoni said. "When you listen to Daniel as young Boba, it's still young Boba. I think that's the cool thing. Boba Fett iconically is the helmet. We know the helmet. We don't know the guy underneath. So Boba Fett in the prequel era is Daniel. He is that boy. I think that's why it was so important to get him back. If you had somebody else do it, it would just look like him. This time, I think, it really just feels like him, because Daniel's portraying the character."
As bounty hunter Aurra Sing, voice actress Jaime King got to play a vital role in the creation of a Star Wars legend. "Just imagine a very intense bounty hunter like Aurra Sing mentoring Boba Fett as a dark, motherly figure," King said. "That's where it gets really interesting. It's kind of like Mommy Dearest. I grew up with movies like that. Then, all of a sudden, I come across Aurra Sing, who has this dark, motherly quality about her. You get to see that it's really not about taking care of someone at all. It's really just about taking care of herself. It's very fun as an actor to explore those kind of weird things that I don't necessarily relate to but in a way I can explore and understand just through delving into the character. She has very clear intentions on what it is that she wants, and it's not bound by emotions, and it's not bound by things that most females get bound by. It's just really about money, and it's about power. She'll basically do anything to get that. It's fun to be able to play a character like that, that's so single-minded but so manipulative in achieving her desires."
Mommy issues were the way to go with Boba. He had a father figure in Jango Fett, and he's surrounded by male clones. "I mean, he's a clone, so that sets Boba in a different light," Filoni said. "He's one of millions of kids who look just like him, but in his mind, he's his father's only son. He's the one that's special. He's the one that grows differently. In that way, too, with Aurra, she takes him on. Why? Was she a friend of Jango's? What's in it for her? We ask that. It was important that she be somewhat motherly to him, but also she is an adult and she has her own motives. I think she sees a bit of herself in Boba when she was young, when she was kind of on her own, abandoned."

Filoni doesn't answer all the questions. He still wants to keep Boba Fett a little mysterious, like Clint Eastwood in his Man With No Name westerns. "I think it still maintains the mystery of the Man With No Name that Boba Fett's very much based on, because there aren't really definitive answers, I think," Filoni said. "Boba Fett in Empire seems different to me. Even as a kid, I thought Boba's a villain, because he's taking down Han Solo with Vader, but he's paid. He probably needs the money. Jango Fett has a famous line: 'I'm just an ordinary man trying to make his way in the galaxy.' You kind of get that Jango feels that justifies what he's trying to do, trying to make a means to an end, trying to pay the bills. He's that guy. How did Aurra influence Boba for good or for bad to become the Man With No Name, with kind of his own sense of justice, his own sense of law at a time when the Empire is the law? Those are some interesting questions."

Boba Fett first appears in the April 23 episode of The Clone Wars, then again in a two-part season finale on April 30 on Cartoon Network.
sci-fi wire...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How Johnny Depp made his Hatter mad ... and what's 'futter-wacking'?

We love when Johnny Depp plays a weirdo, and the weirder the better—a dude with scissors for hands, a sun-fried pirate—and give Depp a character with the word "Mad" in his name and he could go anywhere. But as the Mad Hatter in Tim Burton's upcoming Alice in Wonderland, Depp said he actually imposed some restrictions on himself.

"The great challenge [was] to try to find this guy and not just be a rubber ball you heave into an empty room and watch it bounce all over the place," Depp said in a press conference over the weekend in Hollywood. "Just to find that part of the character, but also a little bit more of history or gravity to the guy."

Depp, in bizarre whiteface makeup, plays the character from Lewis Carroll's Alice stories.
Doing a little research, Depp found out why old-time hatters actually did go mad. It wasn't just an expression. "There's the whole hatter's dilemma, really, which was where the term 'mad as a hatter' came from," Depp explained. "The amount of mercury that they used in the glue to make the hats and everything was damaging."
Carroll knew this, too, and he buried hints in his text, which Depp uncovered behind passages. "Like, 'I'm investigating things that begin with the letter M,'" Depp quoted. "That took me through a whole stratosphere of possibilities, and doing a little research, [I] discovered that the M is mercury."
So what does this all mean? It means that the Mad Hatter contains the full spectrum of emotion that any bipolar patient has, Depp said. "He can go from one second being very highfalutin' and a lot of levity, and then straight into some kind of dangerous potential rage, and then tragedy," Depp said. "It was interesting. Trying to map it out was really interesting."

It wasn't just the Lewis Carroll legacy or the actual plight of hatmakers that Depp explored. He also had his own legacy of memorable movie characters to keep in mind, and his Mad Hatter couldn't be too much like Edward Scissorhands or Willy Wonka. "Especially because I've played English a number of times, I've used an English accent a number of times, so it becomes a little bit of an obstacle course to go, 'Oh, that's teetering into Captain Jack-ville' or 'This one is kind of teetering over into Chocolat or Wonka.'"

Depp went to great lengths to make sure the Mad Hatter looked and sounded different from any character he's ever played before. He also moves like no one else. The Mad Hatter does a dance that could exist only in a surreal Wonderland, moving his legs and feet in unnatural rhythms. They call this futter-wacking.

"The happy dance was something that Tim had a very curious vision for," Depp said. "I can futter-wack with the best of them."

Futter-wacking is no freestyle exercise. The movements were carefully choreographed, even more so than a standard dance number. "We had to treat that like a stunt," he said.
Alice in Wonderland opens March 5.
sci-fi wire...

Wanna see the Ghost Hunters live? Here's how

Want to help Syfy's Ghost Hunters find spooks in Alcatraz? Well, you can't do that, but if you live in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, you can join them and host Josh Gates for a live broadcast of Ghost Hunters: Alcatraz Live Event on March 3.
Details are here, and you can read the full announcement below.

Join Syfy, the stars of Ghost Hunters and host Josh Gates in 30 Rock's legendary Studio 8H for an exclusive live broadcast of Ghost Hunters: Alcatraz Live Event.

♦Where: Studio 8H, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
♦When: Wednesday, March 3
♦Guests must arrive no later than 7:45 pm and will be released after 11:20 pm.
♦Attendees must commit the entire duration of the event as the studio audience is a key element of the show.
♦Seating is limited, and is only reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.
♦To attend, please enter your name, phone number and email address in the form here as soon as possible.

Only residents of the New York Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) are eligible to attend this event. No one under the age of 16 will be admitted. Photo ID with birth date is required for all guests. Audience members must comply with all security procedures.

Please do not bring any unnecessary baggage or electronic devices, including cameras, backpacks and large shopping bags. Small purses are permitted.

sci-fi wire...

Which of your favorite shows could live, which could die

With The CW officially renewing Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries for next season, it's time to take a look at some of the shows that haven't gotten as much love this early in the TV renewing game. Several of our beloved sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural shows are "on the bubble"—at risk of cancellation—and may not see another season.
Here's our list of already renewed shows and canceled shows and a report card on how your favorite shows are doing.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS) Renewed for a fourth season.Drop Dead Diva (Lifetime) Renewed for a second season to air in early summer.Eureka (Syfy) Renewed for a fourth season.Sanctuary (Syfy) Renewed for a third season.Saving Grace (TNT) Renewed for a fourth and final season premiering March 29.Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz) Renewed for a second season.Stargate Universe (Syfy) Renewed for a second season.Supernatural (The CW) Renewed for a sixth season.True Blood (HBO) Renewed for a third season premiering in June.The Vampire Diaries (The CW) Renewed for a second season.Warehouse 13 (Syfy) Renewed for a second season.
Updated:: Past Life (Fox) CanceledDollhouse (Fox) CanceledEastwick (ABC) CanceledLost (ABC) Series finale airs May 23.
24 (Fox) In its eighth season, this popular series could either see another day or end its run with the currrent one. One reason the series might not make the cut is that, by its very nature, 24 episodes must be made to follow the format. Also, it's got a huge cast and doesn't perform well in syndication. What we do know is that a 24 movie has been pitched; it would star Kiefer Sutherland and might be made in addition to or in place of a ninth day and season for hero Jack Bauer.
James Hibberd's Live Feed reported: "24 is pricey to produce and has little syndication value. Producer Twentieth [Century Television] is exploring the option of spinning off 24 into a theatrical movie, signaling that this might be the Bauer's final, real-time day-long adventure. Another long-shot option would be shopping 24 to another network."
Latest ratings: 8.49 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 50-50
Better Off Ted (ABC) It's so NOT looking good for our favorite sci-fi mad-scientist office comedy. ABC stuck Better Off Ted on Tuesdays and burned off episodes over the holidays. Why it never got a chance on Wednesdays with ABC's other well-performing comedies is a mystery. What we do know is that two episodes of this hysterical comedy have never aired—and we may have to wait until the DVD comes out to see them.
Another sign of its impending doom: Stars Jay Harrington and Andrea Anders have already signed to appear in new comedy pilots, though they are committed to Ted first if it comes back.
Variety's Michael Schneider stated: "Scrubs and Better Off Ted soon will likely learn that resurrections don't happen twice."Latest ratings: 2.55 million viewers

Chances of renewal: Less than 15 percent

Chuck (NBC) For once, Chuck is in the Likely-to-Return category. The coolest superhero nerd show ever is actually the top-rated Monday night drama for NBC, and considering the shambles that NBC's schedule has become since The Jay Leno Show was removed, the network needs good reliable performers like Chuck.
Alan Sepinwall interviewed co-creator Josh Schwartz about his thoughts on coming back after being off several weeks for the Olympics: "Every time you go off for a couple of weeks, you've gotta self-start again when you come back. We always knew coming back in January would be great for us, but it also meant other things would be premiering. NBC's been incredibly supportive of the show in getting us launched, but I would not expect to see a lot of promotion for us during the Olympics."
Latest ratings: 6.61 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 80 percent
FlashForward (ABC) Remember all those ratings everyone was all worried about when the series begin last fall? Well, forget about them. They don't matter one bit considering the long, long break for new episodes to return. The good news is that the series has 13 episodes to prove itself. The bad news is that there's been some trouble behind the scenes with rotating show runners. FlashForward is starting from scratch in more ways than one.'s Bill Gorman reported: "If FlashForward keeps falling when it returns, it has no future. We'll now have to wait until mid-March to see its next ratings."
Latest ratings: 7.29 million viewers

Chances of renewal: 50-50
Fringe (Fox) Despite low ratings, Fringe has managed more or less to hold its own in the most difficult timeslot on television, Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. This has been especially noticeable since Past Life has taken over the timeslot to the tune of 2 million fewer viewers while Fringe takes a break. All things considered—the rabid fan base, the terrible timeslot, the excellent showing in DVR ratings—and it adds up to a solid performance.
James Hibberd's Live Feed wrote: "Boy, this show took a beating on Thursdays this fall, yet along with Bones has given Fox a foothold on TV's most competitive night and recently shown improvement."
Latest ratings: 7.76 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 70 percent
Ghost Whisperer (CBS) Friday's top-rated show so far this season has taken a bit of a hit this year, along with all the Friday shows. But it's very unlikely CBS would be willing to cancel more than one of its Friday shows, and NUMB3RS looks likely to take that hit. It's likely Melinda Gordon will be able to continue her ghostly social work for another season.
CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler stated: "It's clear we have two shows there with Ghost Whisperer and with Medium that have a good flow from one into the other, so we will continue to program there for Friday night. For us, we still see opportunities."
Latest ratings: 8.77 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 75 percent
Heroes (NBC) Believe it or not, despite terrible ratings, Heroes has a chance at fifth season. The ratings have stabilized, and the series gains another million-plus viewers when DVR ratings are counted in. NBC is trying to rebuild its schedule thanks to The Jay Leno Show debacle, and Heroes at least brings in a loyal audience, it does well overseas and it's a high-profile, original series. That said, a very strong case could be made for the show's cancellation as well.
James Hibberd's Live Feed commented: "This season, Heroes continued its decline and is now at a level—around a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating—that would warrant cancellation under most circumstances. The deciding factor here is NBC's internal balance sheet for the production. Don't be surprised if NBC announces a 12-hour 'final chapter' for next fall."
Latest ratings: 4.41 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 40 percent
Human Target (Fox) This new midseason replacement is finally leveling off to some decent ratings. While it's certainly getting a bump from American Idol, the last couple of episodes have been very entertaining, and the series seems to be finding its feet. And considering the series will most likely do well in reruns, given its episodic nature, we're liking its chances for a second season so far.
Media Week's Marc Berman said: "On Fox was recently introduced drama Human Target at a distant second-place finish in both total viewers (7.14 million) and adults 18-49 (2.1/ 6) from 8-9 p.m. Considering Human Target faced The Winter Olympics, this is still a respectable showing."
Latest pre-Olympic ratings: 8.92 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 45 percent
Medium (CBS) This very compatible Ghost Whisperer companion show has done as well as could be expected on Fridays, capturing almost all of its lead-in audience and sometimes outperforming Ghost Whisperer by a smidge. NUMB3RS looks likely to be canceled at this point if anything goes on Fridays, and it's doubtful CBS will cancel more than one Friday show. But with new series Miami Medical taking over NUMB3RS' slot on April 2, there's the unlikely possibility that Miami could do well enough to make a case for Medium's exit. Still, at this point, we're guessing Allison DuBois will likely have a home for one more year.
Variety's Michael Schneider writes: "With Numbers the most likely to exit—so much so that star David Krumholtz has already been cast in a new pilot—it's doubtful Eye would want to drop a second Friday night series, so Medium (which CBS swiped from NBC last year) is probably safe."
Latest ratings: 9.10 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 0 percent
Smallville (The CW) When The CW moved Smallville from Thursdays to Fridays, it looked like it could be the end of this reliable performer. Certainly Smallville didn't quite seem to fit with the younger-skewing shows the network was banking on, such as The Vampire Diaries. Then something strange and wonderful happened: Apparently the fans weren't ready to let Smallville die. The producers are still doing fine creative work, and the series has finally given The CW some ratings on Friday nights. While Smallville didn't get an early pickup like Vampire Diaries or Supernatural, it's looking very good for a 10th season, with Super Clark and his friends. And BTW, don't be surprised if it does get another season and we see one or two additional Smallville movies along the lines of Absolute Justice.
Media Week's Marc Berman comments: "While Smallville, of course, is down year-to-year from its former Thursday performance, it is unlikely anything else would perform better for The CW on troubled Friday."
Latest ratings: 2.48 million viewers
Chances of renewal: 90 percent
V (ABC) Those beautiful alien invaders are in the same boat as the FlashFowarders. The series returns on March 30, and it's airing after Lost in the 10 p.m. timeslot, which is a good thing. With Lost in its final season, V's likely to grab a few viewers, which should help its bottom line. But V is pretty much starting over, and it will only have eight episodes to get you caught up in the revolution.'s Bill Gorman stated: "V's future entirely rests on how its ratings do on its return in March. Its fall episode ratings are meaningless now. No guesses from me."
Latest ratings: 9.20 million viewers
sci-fi wire...