Fox Cancels Human Target, Passes On Locke & Key

11 05 2011

Amid a flurry of pickups and cancellations, Fox dropped the ax on Human Target and passed on the pilot Locke & Key, an adaptation of the acclaimed horror comic by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the network also chopped the new Christian Slater comedy Breaking In, Shawn Ryan’s freshman police drama The Chicago Code, the Tim Roth drama Lie to Me and the buddy comedy Traffic Light. Deadline points out that Fringe may have gotten lucky with its early renewal, as no other bubble shows received a reprieve.

Fox did, however, pick up four series: Alcatraz, J.J. Abrams’ crime drama revolving around a team investigating the reappearance of the prison’s 1960s inhabitants in the present; The Finder, a Bones spinoff about a military-trained “finder” who locates lost people and items in the Florida Keys; The New Girl, a comedy starring Zooey Deschanel as a quirky teacher who moves in with three guys; and I Hate My Teenage Daughter, about two women whose daughters act just like the girls that picked on them in high school.

The cancellation of Human Target — an action drama loosely based on the DC Comics property — while not exactly surprising, still became an overnight trending topic on Twitter. The series premiered in January 2010 with 10.12 million viewers, a figure that dropped to 7.2 million by the season finale. The decline continued in Season 2, until it was buoyed in its final three episodes by an American Idol lead-in.

Locke & Key, a supernatural thriller produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Fringe), had generated plenty of buzz — the pilot was described as “beautiful” and “magical” — but there were indications in the past couple of weeks that Fox had cooled on the project. All is not lost, though: The Hollywood Reporter indicates the pilot, which starred Miranda Otto, Jesse McCartney, Nick Stahl and Sarah Bolger, could be shopped to another network.


Warner chief sets sights on team-up film and ‘reinventing’ Batman

29 03 2011

Ben Fritz sat down with top Warner Bros. executive Jeff Robinov for a profile piece that ran Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times business section. Fritz also brought back this Hero Complex report on the future of key DC Comics properties at the studio.
Jeff Robinov is already thinking about DC Comics movies for 2013 and beyond, and he’s got “Justice League” and a reinvented Batman on his mind.

The president of the Warner Bros. motion picture group, who recently sat down for an extensive interview with The Times, discussed his long-term strategy for DC beyond movies already in the works, such as June’s “Green Lantern” and next year’s “The Dark Knight Rises” and Superman movie.

Jeff Robinov (Liz O. Baylen/Los Angeles Times)
The first priority for the man with the ultimate say on what films get made at Warner Bros.: Finally getting the Justice League, DC’s team featuring all its top characters, on the big screen in 2013. The picture had been very close to production in late 2007 and early 2008, but was killed by the Writers Guild of America strike, tax credit issues in Australia, and concerns by some at Warner about presenting a competing (and conflicting) version of Batman while director Christopher Nolan’s films were breaking box office records.

But Robinov said a new Justice League script is in the works. Also being written for Warner are scripts featuring the Flash and Wonder Woman, who could be spun off into their own movies after Justice League. Though Wonder Woman is also in the works as a television pilot for NBC produced by Warner, Robinov dismissed that as a sticking point. “Wonder Woman could be a film as well, the same way that ‘Superman Returns’ came out while ‘Smallville’ was on,” he said, referring to the 2006 film that put Brandon Routh in the cape and the television show starring Tom Welling that is now in its 10th and final season.

Robinov knows that the most bankable part of his superhero empire has been Nolan and his Gotham City films – the studio has yet to deliver a 21st century superhero blockbuster hit without Nolan in the director’s seat. Batman will continue to be a centerpiece property beyond next year’s “The Dark Knight Rises” and Nolan’s departure from the franchise. “We have the third Batman, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman…Chris Nolan and [producing partner and wife] Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is.”

Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Trailer 1 Official

24 03 2011

Supernatural PaleyFest Panel Breaks Down The Fourth Wall

15 03 2011

Once you’ve averted the apocalypse, where do you go next? If you’re Supernatural, there’s still plenty of territory left to explore, from sinister fairies and killer mannequins to virgin-abducting dragons and the sparkling mystique of Twilight.

These seemingly disparate elements and more fit comfortably, if creepily, into the shadowy world of The CW series, which follows the often-frightening, and frequently funny, adventures of demon-hunting brothers Sam and Winchester as they protect humanity from the things that go bump in the night.

The cast and creators of Supernatural, now well into its sixth season, gathered Sunday in Beverly Hills for a PaleyFest tribute moderated by television critic Maureen Ryan.

A Supernatural super-fan, Ryan kicked off the panel by introducing Executive Producer Sera Gamble, who in turn set up a video clip that featured extended footage from this season’s hilarious meta episode “The French Mistake,” in which Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) are thrust into an alternate world in which they’re the stars of a TV show called … Supernatural.

Gamble also provided an enticing sneak peek at the April 15 episode “Frontierland,” which send the Winchester brothers back in time to the Old West in search of the show’s powerful MacGuffin, the Colt — a supernatural pistol crafted by Samuel Colt himself to kill virtually any entity (save for Lucifer and the Four Horsemen). The episode’s opening sequence tips its Stetson to the classic TV Western Bonanza, and in a rather brilliant wardrobe decision, fans get to see Dean in a poncho and cowboy hat, a la The Man With No Name.

Eric Kripke and Sera Gamble (photo by Keri Luna)

Ryan wasted no time in asking about the rule-breaking, fourth wall-destroying “French Mistake,” and wondered whether the cast and crew worried they were giving fans too much of a peek behind the curtain. Series creator Eric Kripke confirmed there had been a great deal of concern, especially from The CW legal department, which said, “We’re not sure — we’re checking right now, but we’re not sure you’re allowed to depict the ‘behind the scenes’ of a CW show.”

Initially, stars Ackles and Padalecki weren’t too excited about playing themselves. When Ryan pressed Ackles about his initial reaction to the idea, the actor replied, “Wait — What? You want to do what?”

Misha Collins, who plays the gravelly voiced angel Castiel, had just one request for producers: “Can we please make the Misha character a total douche-bag?”

When it comes to how much notice the cast receives about major character arc changes, Jim Beaver, who plays the Winchesters’ crusty father-figure Bobby Singer, explained, “Well, with the wheelchair thing, I showed up on set and they said, ‘Sit down.’ Next season they said, ‘Stand up.’ I’m a pretty good actor, so I did it.”

When Ryan asked whether fan-favorite Castiel would receive help in his brutal war in Heaven against the forces of the archangel Raphael, Gamble revealed that a trusted lieutenant named Rachel will soon be introduced.

Executive Producer Ben Edlund spoke a bit about his first Supernatural directing assignment, and announced that the episode in question would actually be centered on the enigmatic Castiel. In a nod to the infamous “Small Time” episode of Angel that Edlund wrote and directed, Ryan wondered whether there would be any puppets.

“No puppets,” Edlund laughed.

Misha Collins, left, and Jim Beaver

Kripke and Gamble clearly appreciate Edlund’s creative ideas. “He comes in and he says, ‘leprechauns,’ and I think there’s a lot more trust. We say, ‘All right, let’s do it,’ because he delivers every time … until the day he won’t,” Kripke joked.

Speaking of writing, Kripke announced he had just turned in the script for the two-hour season finale, which will begin shooting next week.

When the conversation turned to regrets, it was clear there had been a few. Kripke said he recently cringed through a repeat viewing of the show’s 2005 pilot episode, in which the Winchester brothers spout an inordinate amount of exposition.

“They’re talking about nothing that two human beings would ever talk about,” he said, adding, “It’s six years later and you can tell I’m not over it.”

Collins said he had come to regret his choice to give Castiel such an unnaturally low voice. “I may be running into medical problems,” he joked.

Padalecki and Ackles seized the opportunity to make fun of their co-star, with Ackles joking that his first reaction to Collins was to ask the crew, “Did he audition?”

Since the Winchesters have already faced both Lucifer and the apocalypse at the end of Season 5, one audience member brought the panel to a close by wondering what the series finale might entail. “There’s a very specific coda that we have in mind,” Kripke said, adding, “We didn’t use that [in the Season 5 finale]. We didn’t go near it.”

Supernatural airs Fridays on The CW. New episodes resume on April 15 with “Frontierland.”

Interview | Star Jason Statham Talks About The Mechanic

28 01 2011

Some actors might have been intimidated by the prospect of stepping into a role made famous by the legendary Charles Bronson, but The Mechanic star Jason Statham viewed the challenge differently.

“Obviously trying to do anything that has been done well before has a certain amount of expectation and you’re always going to get people that are going to compare it,” he said at a recent press junket in Beverly Hills. “But you know, this is many, many years later.”

Thirty-nine, to be exact.

Like the 1972 original, director Simon West’s remake examines the relationship between a methodical assassin and his emotionally unstable protege. Statham stars as Arthur Bishop, an elite hit man who sets aside his strict professional code to discover who killed his mentor Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland). But his mission is complicated by Harry’s son Steve (Ben Foster), who seeks to learn the trade so he can avenge his father.

The project languished in development for nearly 15 years as the script passed through the hands of several screenwriters. Ultimately, producers were able to bring Statham on board by sending him the original 1972 production draft written by Lewis John Carlino.

“I said yes to the exact word-for-word original screenplay,” Statham said. “There was no rewrites or anything. Then I went away, did a film, came back and it was completely different.”

During that time, West and screenwriter Richard Wenk updated Carlino’s to appeal to a modern audience.

Known for playing isolated, introspective characters in movies like The Transporter, Crank and now The Mechanic, Statham joked, “I get paid by the word now. There’s a lot less to say, so it’s soothing on my vocal chords.”

For The Mechanic‘s explosive action scenes, Statham worked closely with a large but tight-knit crew of stunt professionals: “I’m involved every step of the way with all the stunts and, you know, my opinion counts for a lot because I’m the one that’s going to be doing them. So, if they don’t sound too good, then we’ll change it up.”

One of the jaw-dropping sequences had Statham and Foster, who suffers from vertigo and a fear of heights, propelling 350 feet down a high-rise building.

“Those kinds of situations are full of adrenaline and they’re very exciting to execute,” Statham said. “You always question whether they’re safe. There’s no guarantees that, you know, something can’t go wrong so there’s always a thrill to it.”

He was quick to praise his Foster’s bravery in confronting his fear, but joked that he helped his co-star to prepare by saying, “3,2,1 — Go!”

Staham also spoke highly of Sutherland, who plays Harry, the father to Foster’s character and a mentor to Bishop. “I think you’re only as good as the people opposite you,” he said. “If I get an opportunity to work across from someone like Ben Foster or Donald Sutherland it just raises the game for sure.”

He’s also pleased to be starring alongside Robert De Niro and Clive Owen in the upcoming remake of another ’70s thriller The Killer Elite.

“Once you work with these people you just go, ‘Wow’,” he said. “You can’t screw it up with these guys because they’re just so good.”

Statham smiled when the discussion turned to the inevitable sequel to The Expendables, the Sylvester Stallone-directed ensemble action film. “We’re trying to do another one. Yes, we certainly are,” he said. “I think the reason to do a sequel is because people, you know, have enjoyed the first one to a point where it has made a lot of money and I think the inspiration comes from that.”

He also explained why he isn’t actively looking to do a breezy romantic comedy. “Usually the good stuff that comes from that genre is always going to the right people: Ben Stiller and all the people that are so good at it,” he said, admitting, “The stuff that comes my way from those areas, it’s not so good, so we tend to stay away from it.”

Before becoming an actor, Statham was a member of Britain’s National Diving Squad, and placed 12th in the world in 1992. He also sold perfume and jewelry on the street, which is how he met writer-director Guy Ritchie and won the lead in 1998′s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

“He was casting people from areas that were not, you know, the traditional place, such as drama school or RADA [Royal Academy of Dramatic Art], and, you know, I fit the bill for one of the characters that he had written about,” Statham said. “The opening scene was about a guy selling wares out of a suitcase, so I gave a certain amount of authenticity to that, and that’s how I got the part.”

As the roundtable discussion broke up, one reporter voiced concern that like so many of the character he plays, Statham might be a loner, too.

“No, I’ve got quite a lot of friends,” he replied. “I’m not as lonely as the characters I play. Thank God!”

The Mechanic opens on Friday.