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The Hollywood Universe -- 11/18/07


1) For those anime and manga fans who can get the U.S. cable channel STARZ, the good news is that the channel has set up a block of anime every Tuesday at midnight, East Coast Time, as a regular series. The first blocks aired in early November with Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Complex and Fullmetal Alchemist, the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa. Other coming movies and series will include: Desert Punk, Hellsing Ultimate and Black Lagoon. STARZ is also planning to air a new special in December, Anime: Drawing a Revolution, dedicated to the anime genre and its influence on Hollywood and impact on wider culture.

2) Star Trek Movie News:


Winona Ryder has signed on to play the half-Vulcan Spock’s human mother in the new Star Trek movie being helmed by director JJ Abrams. This has led to a rash of Oedipal humor in Hollywood as Ryder is only 36, and actor Zachary Quinto, who is playing Spock in the movie, is 30 years old.  

Actor Bruce Greenwood (I'm Not There, National Treasure: Book of Secrets) has also been cast in the movie as Christopher Pike, the Starship Enterprise's first captain. The character first appeared in the original, unaired pilot that Gene Roddenberry created, and was later brought back to the series in a two-part episode.

Chris Hemsworth (Home and Away) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote) have also joined the cast. Hemsworth will play Captain Kirk's father, George Kirk, and Collins will play Ayel, cohort and general to the villain Nero, played by Eric Bana.

There has been no announcement made as to the exact plot of the movie, despite many rumors. The only thing Abrams and Co. have let out is that the movie will include the characters from the original Star Trek television series at an earlier time in their lives, and involve time travel, a Star Trek staple. The movie is scheduled for a Christmas Day 2008 release, barring Hollywood strikes.

The newest rumor is that the Guardian on the Edge of Forever, featured in the classic Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever” might be used as the time travel device in the movie. This news has angered the episode’s original writer, SF author Harlan Ellison.

Ellison famously walked away from the episode after disagreements with the show about changes to the script, but he has held on to the rights to all elements in the script he wrote, except for the Star Trek show characters. Ellison, who is currently walking the picket lines for the screenwriters’ strike, as is the movie’s director J.J. Abrams, has publicly said that he will pursue his rights if Paramount plans to use any of his creations in the movie, including the Guardian. Ellison has also written for the television shows Babylon 5, The New Twilight Zone and the recent t.v. anthology series Masters of Science Fiction.

3) Director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) will write and direct United Artists' feature adaptation of cult British science fiction TV series The Champions. The story involves a trio of secret government agents who were saved after a plane crash by an advanced civilization that gifted them with superhuman abilities. The British series, which ran for 30 episodes in 1968-69, was originally produced by ITC, which also did The Saint, The Prisoner, and Thunderbirds. Del Toro will also produce the movie with Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner's C/W Productions.

4) Ridley Scott will helm the supernatural thriller Stones for Fox 2000. The story was written by Matt Cirulnick and Scott will also produce the film through his Scott Free company. The film deals with the mysterious destruction of ancient religious sites around the world. It is discovered that the Stonehenge monument in Britain is the tie that binds together artifacts at these sites that still contain primeval powers. Scott is also directing the Robin Hood movie Nottingham, starring his buddy Russell Crowe. Stones won’t go into production until the current Hollywood strike and guild negotiations are resolved.

5) Sam Raimi had been rumbling that he probably wouldn’t direct Spider-Man 4. Now he is officially announcing that he will not direct the next Spidey sequel, though he will be involved in production on the film. Sony hopes to be able to release Spider-Man 4 sometime in 2009. No replacement director has yet been named.

6) DreamWorks and Imax have inked a deal for the studio’s upcoming three 3-D animated features to play on Imax’s giant screens. Monsters vs. Aliens and How to Train Your Dragon, scheduled for 2009, and Shrek Goes Fourth, due out in 2010, will play both in Imax 3-D and as digital 3-D in regular movie theaters. Imax is launching their 3-D projection system in June, 2008. Imax will also show Dreamwork’s Spring 2008 feature Kung Fu Panda, but not in 3-D.


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