Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Movie and TV Updates of Note

There's so many updates with TV shows and upcoming movies, so I thought I would sum them up here in one post:

Transformers 2

Transformers 2 Gets 2009 Date

Paramount and DreamWorks are holding the date of June 26, 2009, for Transformers 2, with Michael Bay expected to return to direct the sequel, Variety reported.

The first Transformers, starring Shia LaBeouf and based on the toy robot line, has grossed nearly $700 million worldwide, giving DreamWorks its first live-action franchise, the trade paper reported.

Steven Spielberg, who took an executive-producer credit on Transformers, was closely involved with the film, including bringing Bay aboard to direct and LaBeouf to star. He's expected to be involved in the sequel.

Bay has not yet signed a deal to helm the follow-up but is in the final stages of negotiation. With Bay's involvement, LaBeouf is expected to return as well.

LaBeouf stars alongside Harrison Ford in Spielberg's upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which opens May 22, 2008.

DreamWorks and Par are hoping to at least begin production on the Transformers sequel before a possible strike, even if they have to finish after it.

Transformers 2 More Ambitious

Scott Farrar, visual-effects supervisor and second-unit director of Michael Bay's Transformers, told SCI FI Wire that the recently announced sequel will be more ambitious visually. "We want to improve on some of the processes that we did," Ferrar said in an interview at Industrial Light & Magic in San Francisco, where the film's transforming robots were created. "I think what we're going to do is get faster and know our problems sooner and quicker. And then, of course, I know Michael's always thinking about new, crazy actions. And we're open to that."

After discussing the monumental task of creating the effects for the first film, Farrar groaned and fell off his chair in jest when asked about the sequel, which was announced last week with an anticipated release date of June 26, 2009. "It's a circus, and they're going to raise the tight-wire walker a little bit higher next time," he said. "But it's all going to be dramatic. I think the commitment is not to just chuck out a sequel. The commitment is—and this makes us really happy here—that it's a deep story. There are lots of layers to the story of all these Decepticons, everybody. And so they want to really keep the characters rich."

Farrar added that the filmmakers plan to use the techniques and technology they learned on the first film to make the second even better. "It was difficult and, I think, laborious, and I think we learned a lot by the end," he said. "I think we've learned a lot about lighting, and I think we can go to much moodier lighting. Lots of things. It'll be improved."
Transformers will be released on DVD and HD DVD Oct. 16. —Cindy White

Writers Board Transformers 2

Writer Ehren Kruger and the team of Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are in negotiations to join to write the screenplay for DreamWorks/Paramount's upcoming sequel film Transformers 2, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Director Michael Bay, star Shia LaBeouf and producers Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Don Murphy are back in their respective chairs, as is executive producer Steven Spielberg, the trade paper reported.

The unusual teaming of the A-list Kruger (The Ring) with the equally regarded team of Kurtzman and Orci—who wrote the $315 million-grossing first Transformers movie—may have been necessary because the latter are also busy writing J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie for Paramount and producing Eagle Eye for DreamWorks.

The three writers are also working together on Nightlife, a DreamWorks serial-killer project that sees Kruger adapting a Thomas Perry novel, with Kurtzman and Orci producing, along with Neal Moritz. Kruger also adapted the Stephen King/Peter Straub book The Talisman, which Spielberg is executive-producing for TNT. Kruger met with Bay and Hasbro president Brian Goldner and impressed the duo with his knowledge of the Transformers mythology.

A New "Knight Rider?"

NBC Revs Up New Knight

NBC has tapped filmmaker Doug Liman to produce a Transformers-inspired reworking of the 1980s hit action-drama Knight Rider, Variety reported.

The network is readying a two-hour backdoor pilot for the series, with tentative plans to air it as a TV movie later this season. Liman is open to the idea of directing, assuming his feature schedule allows. If the TV movie clicks, a new-model Knight Rider could be on the air as early as next fall, the trade paper reported.

Dave Andron (Raines) is writing the pilot script and will serve as supervising producer, alongside executive producers Liman and Dave Bartis (The O.C.) for Universal Media Studios and Dutch Oven Productions.

The new show will explore the idea of "evil" cars to offset the heroic talking K.I.T.T. car of the original series, which starred David Hasselhoff.

The original Knight Rider aired on NBC from 1982 until 1986, with Hasselhoff playing crime fighter Michael Knight. Glen Larson created the original series for Universal Television. (NBC and Universal Media Studios are owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.)

All about "Heroes"

Film Writers Tackle Heroes

Superman Returns co-writer Michael Dougherty and Hostel director Eli Roth will each write an episode of Heroes: Origins, the upcoming spinoff prequel series to NBC's hit SF show, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Roth also will direct his episode of the series, which introduces new characters as they discover their extraordinary powers.

Roth and Dougherty, both Heroes fans, join another big supporter of the show, Kevin Smith, who also is set to write and direct an episode of the Universal Media Studios-produced Heroes: Origins.

Heroes returns at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Sept. 24 and will air Mondays. (NBC is owned by NBC Universal, which also owns SCIFI.COM.)

NBC, Monday, 8 p.m. ET/PT
Premieres Sept. 24
In the show's first season, normal people from around the world discovered they had special powers. These "heroes" would eventually come together to save the cheerleader and later New York City from an about-to-explode Peter. That was Volume One. As Heroes begins its second season with "Volume Two: Generations," we'll learn who survived and who didn't. Hiro's story in feudal Japan will play out as he meets his own personal hero; Claire lands back in high school, but she's on the lam with HRG and the family; we'll discover what's happened to Niki, D.L. and Micah; and Suresh begins a mission to find more heroes and protect them. In this 11-episode volume, new heroes and villains will be introduced and the threat will be more "global," according to co-executive producer Jeph Lobe. And then while Heroes takes a six-week hiatus, a new series, Heroes: Origins, will tell the story of one new hero each week. Viewers will then vote on their favorite, and that hero will become a new regular character during season three. And then it's back to the Heroes we know and love as they begin "Volume Three."

The Outlook: Heroes became the new water-cooler show, taking over for Lost. And while Heroes dropped a bit in viewership after taking the standard hiatus for a series, many shows suffered the same fate, and it wasn't enough to damp NBC's enthusiasm for the series. And there's no reason why it should have. The series was downright fun, especially when compared to Fox's glum, if compelling, 24. Yes, Heroes' big finale did seem a little bit anticlimactic, but the ride to get there was so entertaining it didn't really matter. Beyond that, a new great television character sprang up in the form of Masi Oka's Hiro. While Heroes got several Emmy nominations, there was none more deserving than Oka's for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. As for this season, creator Tim Kring has learned from last season's challenges. Instead of a season-long story, he's breaking it up into two or more volumes. And then there's that spinoff experiment that lets the viewers determine a new regular character in Heroes: Origins. Reruns? Forget about it. This all adds up to another very shiny future for a series that showed us that TV doesn't have to be depressing to be good.

Heroes: Origins, NBC, Midseason
Just in case you don't get enough Heroes through the regular series, Heroes: Origins offers up additional heroes during the original show's hiatus. Six hourlong episodes will be filmed, each focusing on a new, never-before-seen hero. Look for occasional cameos by Heroes' regulars. After all six episodes have aired, viewers will vote on their favorite new hero, and that character will be added as a regular during the third season of Heroes. The first episode will be written by Kevin Smith (Clerks).


ABC, Wednesdays
On Hiatus Until Midseason
In the stunning season-three finale, Jack and the gang battled Ben and his Others to make a call off the island. Walt kept Locke from killing himself, Hurley used the van to make a rescue, and Charlie died, but not before stopping the jamming signal. And in the end, the flashback of a drunken and devastated Jack actually turned out to be a flash-forward as Jack told Kate that they had to go back to the island.

The Outlook: While Lost appeared to lose its way in the first six episodes of the season, it returned to its "must-see TV" status with compelling characters, a dynamic storyline and a shocking season finale. As for the show's future, it's all laid out. ABC has decided that Lost will have three more seasons of 16 episodes each. And taking a note from Fox's 24, not to mention the loss in viewership due to the hiatus, ABC will air each season at the beginning of the year uninterrupted. It's a wise move, and although it will seem like a long time between seasons, it will be worth the wait.

Lost Writers Eye The End

Producers of ABC's Lost told SCI FI Wire they know how the show will end, though the series finale won't happen until 2010. The producers even know what the final shot will look like, they said in interviews.

Co-creator and executive producer Damon Lindelof said that the writers will be working toward the end of the series over the next two years. "We always knew the ending," he said. "We just didn't know how much time to take before we got there. So, yes, it still completely fits with where we're at in the storytelling right now."

Lost will become more focused because the end is in sight, the producers added. "With 48 episodes to go, it's exciting to be working towards an endpoint we're already familiar with," Lindelof said.

During a press conference for the release of the Lost season-three DVD set on Dec. 11, executive producer Carlton Cuse said that the show will be using flash-forward scenes, but warned cryptically that "it would be wrong to think that the flash-forward you saw is the end of the series." Viewers got their first glimpse at a possible future in the third-season finale last spring.

Cuse added that he already has the final image of the series in mind. "Yes, we do know what the last image of the show is," Cuse said. "And it won't be a black screen!" he added, alluding to the controversial cut that ended HBO's The Sopranos. The fourth season of Lost starts Feb. 6, 2008. —Mike Szymanski

Lost Season-Four Spoilers Leaked

Producers of ABC's Lost offered SCI FI Wire a few spoilers for the upcoming fourth season and said that more questions will be answered and more flashbacks and flash-forwards likely when the show returns early next year. Executive producer and co-creator Damon Lindelof said the fourth season will continue "to answer and ask a lot of questions." But, he added, "season four is going to be a whole new show in a lot of ways. We're really excited with what we're doing and hope that it'll offer as many surprises as the finale did."

Among the spoilers Lindelof revealed: "Michael [Harold Perrineau] is coming back. Definitely. As for Walt [Michael's young son, played by Malcolm David Kelley], we've always known Malcolm was going to grow faster than we could shoot the show. And we planned for it. Trust us. Please trust us."

The show's producers have already figured out what they will do with the mysterious character of Jacob, who was introduced at the end of season three. Picking his words carefully, executive producer Carlton Cuse said, "Yes, we do know how Jacob will be depicted. Notice the careful wording of my answer. And no, Jacob did not appear before he was met by Locke." Cuse also declined to say whether an actor had been chosen to portray the character.

Flashbacks will continue to explain the backgrounds of some of the characters, but there will also be glimpses into the future, the producers said. (In the season finale, viewers saw what appeared to be a flash-forward to Jack [Matthew Fox] and Kate [Evangeline Lilly] after they had been rescued from the island.)The producers said that it is inevitable that the time-bending story of Lost will continue to use looks both backward and forward. "It's absolutely inevitable, not to migrate completely away from flashbacks, but at least to find a new paradigm for storytelling that changed up the nature of the show," Cuse said. "Moving forwards, you'll get a mix. Every week will hopefully be a guessing game as to not just who will be focused on, but when we're focusing on them. Flash-forwards will be a part of season four, yes."

The reverberations of the death of Charlie Hieronymus Pace, played by Lord of the Rings's Dominic Monaghan, at the end of the last season will inevitably continue at the beginning of season four. "The reverberation of that death echoes right into the premiere of season four," Lindelof said.The fourth season of Lost starts Feb. 6, 2008. —Mike Szymanski

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