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...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Confirmed: New Spider-Man will be 3-D

In case anyone doubted it, Sony confirmed that its proposed reboot of Spider-Man will be in 3-D and will hit theaters on July 3, 2012.
Here's the full announcement:

Spider-Man will swing into theaters worldwide in 3D beginning July 3, 2012, it was announced today by Jeff Blake, Chairman of Sony Pictures Worldwide Marketing & Distribution. The new film which is still untitled, will begin production later this year directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt. Avi Arad and Laura Ziskin will produce the film from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios.

Commenting on the announcement, Blake said, "Spider-Man is the ultimate summer movie-going experience, and we're thrilled the filmmakers are presenting the next installment in 3D. Spider-Man is one of the most popular characters in the world, and we know audiences are eager and excited to discover Marc's fantastic vision for Peter Parker and the franchise."
sci-fi wire...

Medusa, Kraken, scorpions: New Clash of the Titans!

The posters give us a great new look at some of the creatures in the new 3-D fantasy movie, which opens April 2, including Medusa, giant scorpions, the Kraken, Pegasus and the Stygian witches.
sci-fi wire...

Could Stan Lee's new superheroes be the next X-Men?

Stop me if you've heard this one before—a wise older man takes a group of misunderstood outsiders under his wing and teaches them to become superheroes. Is that Professor X and the X-Men? Not necessarily. According to today's Hollywood Reporter, it's Stan Lee and the Super Seven!

Lee has teamed up with Archie Comics and A Squared Entertainment to tell the story of seven aliens who are stranded on Earth after their spaceship crashes and are then befriended by none other than The Man himself. Lee becomes their leader and helps turn them into heroes.

"Although I've briefly appeared in other comics, Super Seven is the first time that I'll actually be a continuing character in a far-out, original superhero series," Lee said.
If all goes as planned, Archie Comics will publish the print version of Super Seven in the fall, and A Squared will develop the project as a TV series and online property.
So what do you think? Will lightning strike again? Can Stan Lee still deliver?
sci-fi wire...

Caprica's Alessandra Torresani is HOT in NSFW Maxim pics

Alessandra Torresani may play a teen fembot in Syfy's Caprica, but as you can plainly see from these new images from Maxim magazine, she's really a full-grown woman.
The 22-year-old posed for a series of risque images for the current issue of the men's magazine; click over to see more.
Torresani is only the latest of Syfy's
girl robots to be featured in the pages of the mag.
So does Alessandra make you feel all funny inside?
Check her out on Caprica, Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Syfy.
sci-fi wire...