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.


WC11: Terra Nova Cast, Crew On Recreating Past, Saving Future

10 04 2011

The cast and crew of Fox’s upcoming science fiction series Terra Nova sat down with Spinoff Online at WonderCon on Sunday to talk about the scope of the big-budget drama, comparisons to Avatar, and why it’s more like Star Trek than anything else.

Terra Nova is set on a dying Earth in the year 2149, where the future of mankind is in doubt and the only hope for survival is to send people millions of year into the past to rebuild civilization. The catch is that it’s a one-time trip, so once you’ve traveled into primeval history, you’re stuck there. Brannon Braga, who’s written more episodes of Star Trek than anybody else alive, is the showrunner. Jason O’Mara stars as Jim Shannon, a family man who stows away through the portal to reunite with his family. Stephen Lang plays Commander Frank Taylor, the leader of the human colony who went back through time seven years earlier.

“[This human colony] is very much the International Space Station,” said Alex Graves, who directed the pilot episode. “They have a found a place to go where they stand a chance of figuring out how to save the future and also save the human race by migrating there and starting over.”

The time travel-heavy setup sounds similar to O’Mara’s last project, the short-lived U.S. version of Life on Mars, about a cop who is thrown back in time and forced to find his bearings in an unfamiliar environment. “I only do shows now that have time travel in the premise,” he said. “The more far-fetched the better.”

”I try to go for scripts that are interesting and a bit different,” O’Mara continued. “I don’t mind playing a cop as long as that cops in an extraordinary situation. I like it when my imagination gets tested and stimulated.”

Lang is faced with similarities to past projects as well, as he his best known as the hard-edged, militaristic Col. Miles Quaritch in James Cameron’s Avatar, the 2010 blockbuster about a group of humans invading another planet for its natural resources. “One involves a planet far, far away, and this is time travel,” he said. “If it’s my lot at this point in my career to play authority figures who have a military history, I have no problem with that.”

“In both cases, thematically, they are similar. Both things are founded on a second chance, creating a new life out of a life that was not so good,” he said, adding that “both of these seem to postulate living in harmony with the environment.”

Jason O’Mara as Jim Shannon

O’Mara’s character Jim Shannon will also have his own problems. During the course of the pilot, he escapes from prison, sneaks into a time-travel device, reunites with his family and then has to defend them from dinosaurs. However, O’Mara said, “It’s not just the dinosaurs that we have to worry about. There are things going on in the colony itself — human things.” Through it all Shannon is faced with the fact that he “wasn’t welcome, wasn’t invited to the party,” because of his status as a stowaway.

Lang’s character Frank Taylor plays in stark contrast to Shannon. Taylor came through first, helped create the settlement and acts as the overseer of the entire operation. “He’s not a founding father, he’s the founding father,” Lang said. “He’s the first one through the portal. How that operates you in terms of stress, in terms of ego — all the ramifications of that can be really, really interesting. Everything he’s done is based on righteous, and not self-righteous, idealism. He wants to bring about a better world.”

“There’s not one stone that’s been laid in that community, not one timber that’s been put up in that community. that I don’t have a personal relationship to,” he continued. “I’m vested. I’m vested in the success of this place, I’m vested in the history of this place.”

Making a new society in the land of dinosaurs can be tough, although and Taylor may be close to the breaking point before the show even begins. Lang added, “It’s not a pressure you leave behind on the weekends. It’s a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week situation there where everything you do is new and presents an all new series of creatures and challenges you haven’t seen before.”

Because of this, viewers can expect some conflict eventually between the two leads, but not right away. “We start out as allies, I become his deputy,” O’Mara said.

“When the show opens I’ve been there for seven years,” Lang said. “So my antenna is just tuned to things. When Jason gets there he’s jumpy, jumpier then I am. I know what’s what.”

Terra Nova is a show of unprecedented scope and effects, ranging from recreating a prehistoric environment, time-travel effects and, oh, yes, giant dinosaur rampages. When seeing the script for the first time, Graves thought, “This is damn near impossible to do. How do we do this? When do I start?”

”I read the script and thought, ‘There’s no way we are gonna be able to pull this off!’ and that’s what makes me excited,” Lang said. “In the end, it comes down to do you care about the people. You can love the creatures, but if you don’t care about the people, if their fate is not really important to you on a week-to-week basis, then we won’t succeed. If you do care about the people, we’ll be in good shape.”

But don’t expect Terra Nova to turn in to an epic soap opera the way that shows like Lost and Battlestar Galactica became in their later seasons. The show will, according to the producers, be focused on a tight done-in-one episode treatment where problems are introduced and solved in the span of an hour. “One thing the writers tried to avoid was the Fringe/Lost dynamic of ‘this is a cult thing for a core group of people who watch it every week,’” Graves said. “This is not like that at all.”

“We will answer those questions right away, but we will answer them in an unorthodox way that we think is really cool,” Braga added. “It’s closest to Star Trek than anything else I’ve done since Star Trek in that it’s a very humanistic show. It’s about second chances for humanity, it’s about bettering humanity, and the episodes will be mostly standalone episodes that tell metaphorical little sci-fi parables in this frontier Western post-modern town.”

Stephen Lang as Commander Frank Taylor

Don’t expect everything to be laid out, though, as O’Mara’s character will still hold some mysteries about his background, such as just why he was in jail in the first place. “Some of the stuff they told me, some of the stuff they couldn’t,” he said. “They had to say ‘trust us, we know what we’re doing,’ which always makes me nervous. It’s Hollywood after all.”

Terra Nova shoots in Queensland, Australia, an area the cast and crew hope is able to convey the beauty and majesty of the age of dinosaurs. “It looks absolutely stunning,” O’Mara said. “We all agreed as a cast, it makes you feel like you’ve gone on a journey to arrive at a place that’s out of this world.”

Brisbane serves as Chicago in the year 2149. “It was sort of our version of Blade Runner,” Graves said. The set for both future Chicago and the technology, weapons and outfits for the prehistoric age all had to be created from scratch. “There’s nothing that exists for Terra Nova that we could use,” he added. “I’ve never seen a television show with production design like this ever.”

Terra Nova is executive produced by none other than Steven Spielberg, whose connection to dinosaur-themed fiction is obvious. Spielberg isn’t a silent producer, however, and was very active in the production of the show. “He riffs on ideas like comics riff on jokes,” Graves said. “It’s fun to sit there and watch his brain unravel.”

One specific idea of Spielberg’s that Graves discussed was that the air of the distant past is so clean and free from pollution, that it literally poisons many colonists when they first arrive. They get oxygen poisoning and are forced to wear the gas masks they use in the future because of pollution, but this time because of a lack of it. Spielberg is also bringing with him Jack Horner, the paleontologist he consulted for Jurassic Park. Horner is helping to ensure the creators get the dinosaurs and animals right, but also to make sure the environment and plant life are accurate.

”Every new show I do feels like a terrifying first experience,” Braga said, conceding that not even his experience running Star Trek for more than a decade could help him cope with Terra Nova. “[Terra Nova] is also very Gene Roddenberry-esque in that it’s about leaving behind greed, ignorance, the emotional components, the more corrupting components of human beings and their behavior; we are hoping to leave them behind in the dystopian future and start again.”

Terra Nova debuts this fall on Fox.-by Karl Keily

WC11: “Human Target” Panel

10 04 2011

The stars and executive producer of Fox’s action drama “Human Target” took center stage in the Esplanade Ballroom at WonderCon on Sunday afternoon. Sitting down to talk about the past two seasons, as well as ruminate on a possible third, were Mark Valley (Christopher Chance), Jackie Earle Haley (Guerrero) Janet Montgomery (Ames) and executive producer Matt Miller.

Jenna Busch, moderator of the panel, kicked off the hour by asking Miller to recap what happened during the show’s second season. Miller said he tried to grow the world while developing both old and new characters further.

“I got a Green Lantern ring. Its free, its WonderCon; what are ya gonna do?” said Valley when asked what he’s been up to lately. Shifting to the show, he said, “I got to do a lot more talking during the second season. Talking to other people. The first season I did a lot of explaining and exposition, but this time I found myself doing scenes with a lot more people.”

Haley joked that if they get picked up for a third season, the infamous scene where Ames has to squeeze through an air duct in nothing but her underwear and oil would be repeated with an even smaller duct.

“I got in my underwear a few times in season two,” Montgomery said. “Ames did, not me, it was all character. It was interesting because I asked what the oil was for when we shot the scene. It looked big enough for me to squeeze through with my clothes on. They said, ‘No, you’re gonna need to undress and use the oil.'”

“Janet would now like to perform for you, live!” Haley interrupted, with Montgomery saying she was game if anyone in the audience had any oil. Sadly, they did not.

Montgomery said it was fun joining a mainly male cast. “They kind of took me under their wing and looked after me,” she said. “In her underwear!” added Valley.

Miller credited the amazing production values to the crew in Vancouver. “I think everyone who comes on the show, deep down wants to be an action director, so they really get up for it. As far as I’m concerned, we are doing the best action out there on television.”

Valley said despite the action scenes, he’s never been hurt on the show. “I get hurt all the time!” said Montgomery. In the last episode of the season, she recalled how she was hanging on a ledge about a foot off the floor and fell right off.

Mark Valley jokes with a fan

“I’m not sure whether I like working on the show more or being a fan of the show. I find watching the show, I am completely invested in all of the characters,” said Haley, admitting to geeking out over script readings where he gets to find out what happens to all the characters.

“I read the script like it’s a comic book, without the comics obviously, without the pictures. Then we shoot it, and I’m kind of a fan of the show myself,” added Valley.

The moderator asked the cast to drop clues as to details in the story people may not have picked up on. Valley and Haley pointed out that their characters both have the same tattoo, the origin of which hasn’t been fully explained. “Next season, she gets the tattoo,” joked Valley to Montgomery.

Miller said the next season will feature more on Baptiste’s relationship with Chance and Guerrero’s history. One specific storyline will feature Guerrero hiding from his ex-wife who gets released from jail. “Even Guerrero has his kryptonite,” said Miller.

Busch asked Miller what he would like fans to send to Fox as part of a campaign to make sure the show gets picked up, to which Miller responded, “Guns!” He then quickly specified that he meant water guns and not real ones.

Miller went in to what might happen Chi McBride’s character Laverne Winston if the show gets picked up for a third season, saying they went in to some of Winston’s back-story in season two and season three will feature him trying to save his nephew in order to get back in his wife’s good graces. “It doesn’t work out so well for him,” said Miller.

Characters that might come back for a potential season three include Baptiste, Roger Bart and Harry. “I have to think, did they die? No, they didn’t die. Which ones died, which ones are in jail,” asked Valley.

Haley said the only real difference between TV and film is that TV is a lot quicker. “TV has caught up to movies,” he said. “I feel ‘Human Target’ looks like an action movie of the week.”

At this point Busch opened up the panel to questions from the audience.

A season two DVD will be released towards the end of the summer, featuring behind the scenes bonus footage, said Miller.

Jackie Earle Haley discusses his character, Guerrero

A fan asked the panel to comment on Guerrero’s change from a computer nerd character in season 1 to a badass action hero in season two. “He’s sort of like the gimp in the box, and once in a while you bring him out,” said Miller. “I don’t know if he’s more of a bad ass, but he is morally questionable with some of the things that he does. That’s sort of the fun of the character.”

Miller admitted that changing the theme song in season two was a mistake and that if the show is brought back for a third season, they would bring back the composer from the first season. “I had no idea the backlash that replacing the opening theme music would have. Mea culpa. In hindsight perhaps things would have been done a little differently,” said Miller.

Miller said shooting Vancouver and treating it as though it were San Francisco was a lot easier in season 1, since Chance was in hiding and not out in the open. In the second season, while they have shot more scenes to resemble San Francisco, that is weighted by the fact that the show frequently leaves its home city in the course of the narrative, meaning there are less San Francisco shots to be made overall. “I would love it if we got to shoot in San Francisco!” said Montgomery. Haley said he partly took the show because it was shooting in Vancouver, pointing to the Vancouver hat he was currently wearing as proof of his love for the Canadian city. Haley had first fallen in love with the city while shooting “Watchmen.”

A fan pointed that the same actor was used for two different walk on roles in back to back episodes. “The guy who looks like John Legend, right? Yeah, one of them was John Legend and the other was him,” joked Valley.

The next fan to take the mic asked if the producers were doing anything, such as cutting the budget, to give “Human Target” an edge over other potentially renewed shows like “Fringe” and “Lie to Me.” “You seem to know more about the numbers, maybe we should ask you! What are our chances?” asked Montgomery. “I think the question is, ‘Why are we here?” said Valley. On a more serious note, Miller said negotiations are currently going on and they would do whatever it takes to get a season three. “You may have to do some more work in air ducts with oil,” Miller told Montgomery.

Janet Montgomery looks forward to a third season of the series

Haley commented on his relationship with the character of Ames in the series. He said that it was tough to pin down exactly what type of relationship they have.

Valley said that he saw the character of Christopher Chance as Keen Eddie’s older brother that beat up on him sometime.

Miller said that Baptiste would frequent the show more often in a season three, but he would never join the crew full time. “You don’t want to ever see Baptiste completely defanged.”

The scene where it snowed in San Francisco happened almost accidentally. Originally, the scene was meant to be shot in the rain, but the day they had the rain machines it was so cold they couldn’t use them. They shot the scene without rain, but it didn’t have the same visual impact, until it suddenly started snowing Vancouver. Even though they knew it doesn’t snow in San Francisco, Miller said, they just went with it because it looked so beautiful.

The last questions of the event asked the panel what fans could do to ensure a season 3 of the show happens. “We really appreciate the support that everyone has given us so far towards a season three. It wouldn’t be a show without the hardcore fans and I just wanted to make sure I said we really appreciate that,” said Valley.

“Be as vocal as you can, we would really appreciate that,” said Miller, noting that in today’s world of Facebook and Twitter, Fox really does pay attention to what fans say about the show online.

Haley added, as the last comment from the panel, that he encourages fans to oil up and film their own air duct scenes, than post them online to protest the show getting canceled. With the audience in stitches, the “Human Target” panel officially ended.-by Karl Keily,

New Image Of Mystique And Beast From X-Men: First Class

23 03 2011

ECCC | The Faces Of Fringe

8 03 2011

Was it Walter who addressed the crowd at Emerald City Comicon, or Walternate? Was it Astrid, or … well, we’ll get to her name in a minute.

The answer in both cases: neither. Fringe actors John Noble and Jasika Nicole were their own charming selves for an hour-long panel Saturday afternoon, opening up about their approach to their characters, their navigation of the alternate universes presented by the Fox series, and — to a limited extent — what fans can expect in a few upcoming episodes.

“We just finished an episode, and to be honest, it’s the most unusual thing I’ve ever done,” Noble told the near-capacity crowd. “When you see it, you go, ‘What?’”

But true to form for a show steered by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Alias), the cast members had to observe a certain secrecy. “I can’t really tell you much more than that,” Noble concluded, “but when you see it, it’s so interesting.”

Fringe centers on a special government team that breakdowns in the fabric of the universe — singularities that allow elements of a parallel universe to invade this one, and vice versa. As resident mad scientist Walter Bishop, Noble plays a man whose own work contributed to these fractures. Nicole’s character Astrid Farnsworth is an assistant to Walter who’s also his greatest friend and caregiver.

Moderator Jackson Holtz, pop-culture writer for the Everett Herald newspaper, noted the universe shifts that Fringe characters must negotiate — sliding between parallel worlds and meeting versions of themselves who don’t always share their views of right and wrong. Is that a challenge for an actor to keep track?

“I would say that for Astrid, and the alter-Astrid, its not difficult at all, because they are so polar opposites from each other,” Nicole said. “You have the Astrid from this universe, who is really empathetic. She’s kind and she has emotional attachments to everyone that she works with. Then you have your alter-Astrid, who is autistic and doesn’t quite come equipped with the social graces that most people have.”

As one audience member noted, she also doesn’t have her own alt-world name, unlike the parallel versions of Agent Olivia Dunham (“Fauxlivia”) and Walter Bishop (“Walternate”).

Jasika Nicole (photo by Andre Tan)

Nicole had a suggestion: “‘Kickasstrid?’”

Part of Walter’s role is explaining the “fringe” science at play in each episode — string theory, bioelectric fields, protein modeling and so on. Noble said he tries to study up on current theoretical science, just so he has the grounding to get Walter’s science-factional dialogue across to the audience.

“Generally, we try to make things that are theoretically possible happen in Fringe,” he said. “… When you read that stuff, it just opens up the horizons for a show like Fringe forever. The material is really there in the world.”

The actors revealed they’re often allowed a role in the shaping of that material, even before they step in front of cameras. They sometimes suggest script changes in order to remain true to their characters, and they’re listened to.

“If it’s something that doesn’t make sense for Walter, I get a bit edgy about that, and send long e-mails down to Los Angeles,” Noble said. (The show is filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia.) “At the beginning of the year, I said, ‘Walternate should have a mistress,’” he continued. “And they gave me one!”

When the show geared up for its musical episode “Brown Betty,” the musical theater-trained Nicole realized she hadn’t been given a song. Astrid wound up with a number from A Chorus Line.

Nicole is also an artist and illustrator, and spent part of ECCC selling artwork from the guest table she shared with Noble. “I’ve been getting into making comics for about the past four years,” she said, “and the fact that I ended up on a sci-fi television show that brought me to comic cons was like a weird dream come true.”

While refraining from too many specifics about upcoming episodes, Noble did say that the future of the show itself appears secure. He quoted Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly as saying, “If these people can maintain 1.5 (ratings) points, then they’re not going anywhere.”

“Well, we’ve not only done that, we’ve exceeded it,” Noble said. “And we set a record last week for what they call DVR Live +7,” which tracks time-shifted viewing among people who record a show to watch later. “We increased 71 percent in the +7s, which has never been before done by anyone. So based on those figures, I think we should be fairly safe. Unless Kevin breaks his word, and I don’t think he will.”

Fringe airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Nick Stahl Joins Locke & Key

13 01 2011

Carnivàle star Nick Stahl has joined the cast of Locke & Key, Fox’s adaptation of the acclaimed horror comic by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, Deadline reports. The series, originally planned for summer, is now targeted for the network’s fall lineup.

Debuting in 2008 from IDW Publishing, Locke & Key centers on Nina Locke (Miranda Otto) and her three children Tyler, Kinsey (Sarah Bolger) and Bode who, after the murder of Nina’s husband Rendell, return to Keyhouse, the family home in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. There they encounter a manipulative entity named Dodge, and numerous doors that can transport the mansion’s residents to other worlds or bestow them with supernatural abilities. Written by Hill, author of Heart Shaped Box and son of Stephen King, and illustrated by Rodriguez, the series won the 2009 British Fantasy Award for best comic or graphic novel.

Stahl (Terminator 3, Sin City) will play Rendell’s younger brother Duncan Locke, an art teacher who lives near Keyhouse and who has few memories of growing up in the house.

Locke & Key is produced by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Fringe) through their first-look deal with DreamWorks TV. Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go) is directing the pilot from a script by Josh Friedman ( The Black Dahlia, Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles).