Zack Penn on 'Avengers' & 'Alphas'

AVENGERS_4_WSuperherohype posted an interesting interview with Zack Penn on his work for Marvel’s THE AVENGERS and SyFy’s ALPHAS.

“I grew up reading X-Men. When I first got to Hollywood when I sold my first script, the first thing I said was, “Can I write the ‘X-Men’ movie?” At the time Marvel was… I don’t know if I remember if they were owned by foreign nationals or what was going on, but I’ve always been into comic books, and I’ve always really been into science fiction. But I grew up on  Cameron and Spielberg and a very naturalistic sense of science fiction, and even the comic books I liked were the ones that were the most real. You know, the ones that bled over into reality the most, so that’s kind of where my heart lies.
I always point out to people AVENGERS is the first superhero movie I’ve ever written, because XMEN, THE INCREDILBE HULK,  even ELEKTRA— none of those are really superhero characters. They’re all either science fiction premise, or something like the Hulk is not a superhero at all, and Elektra is an assassin. So THE AVENGERS is the first legitimate superhero movie I ever wrote, ironically.”

On his “real-world” superhero series for SyFy, Penn say he’s working from a “different paradigm”.

Alphas-Syfy“… The show is probably closer to THE MENTALIST or THE X-FILES in its pitch. Seriously, that’s where we started from. And then I kind of got in some of the stuff I always wanted to do in superhero genre. I managed to find the real world equivalent of it.
So as opposed to HEROES, which is completely serialized—I haven’t watched the whole series, but it is a lot like X-MEN. We purposely started from the totally other direction in terms of what the show is actually like. In the same way that LAW & ORDER is nothing like HEAT. They’re two opposite ends of the genre. ”
I think for me I was less worried about that than I was about other procedural type shows that had some overlap with us. But luckily they all got cancelled.”

Read the entire interview at the link above.

'Star Trek: DS9' Producer on 'Alphas'

Ira_Steven_BehrAccording to,  Ira Steven Behr (STAR TREK: TNG, DEEP SPACE 9, THE 4400)  will be the executive producer “showrunner” for SyFy’s “real-world superhero” show ALPHAS.
The show was recently greenlit for 11 episodes, after the 90-minute pilot clicked with the brass.
The series was created by Zak Penn (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) and Michael Karnow. Penn will be a producer for  Universal Cable Productions and the BermanBraun production company, with Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein also on the producing roster.

SyFy Greenlights 'Alphas'

StrathairnAccording to The Hollywood Reporter,  SyFy has picked up Universal’s “real world” superhero/spy series ALPHAS for an 11-episode commitment. 
Created by  Zak Penn (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) and Michael Karnow (TIME SQUAD):

“ALPHAS follows a team of ordinary citizens whose brain anomalies imbue them with extraordinary mental and physical abilities. Taking the law into their own hands, the unlikely team, led by Dr. Lee Rosen (David Strathairn) investigates cases that suggest other Alpha activity to uncover what the CIA, FBI and Pentagon have not been able or willing to solve.
These gifted individuals must balance their quirky personalities and disparate backgrounds with their not always visible powers as they work to solve crimes, stop the ticking time bomb and catch the enemy.”

A 90-minute pilot was directed by Jack Bender (LOST).  Series production is set to begin early next year in Toronto for a Summer 2011 premiere. It’s possible there may be a title change on the production before it airs.

ALPHAS adds Additional Actors

Syfy has announced additional casting for its previously announced series pilot ALPHAS.
AzitaAzita Ghanizada (GHOST WHISPERER) will play a character named Rachel who has the ability to ” ‘hyper-intensify’ her senses, one at a time—vision, hearing, taste, and smell.”

“Her mother and father—who are conservative parents—thought she was cursed and discouraged this unique and amazing ability. Overly sensitive—literally—Rachel has always felt ashamed and rejected. With Dr. Rosen’s (David Strathairn) help and encouragement, she’s learning to appreciate her skill and grow increasingly confident and adventurous.”

Callum Keith Rennie —Cylon Leoben on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA—will play Don Wilson, “a Washington bureaucrat, and Lee Rosen’s superior and contact inside the Pentagon.”
SyFy’s press release describes the pilot as a “wry action-adventure project”.  This kind of qualifier crops up so frequently that I have to wonder if  writers and producers have some kind of fear of actually playing super-heroic productions straight.  Are they afraid no one will take them seriously if they take their own productions seriously? Or is it a basic distrust and/or disdain for the material?  
The 90-minute pilot in currently in production in  Toronto, Canada.

More casting for SyFy's 'Alphas'

Syfy has announced two new cast members for its previously announced pilot ALPHAS.
Laura Mennell
(WATCHMEN) will play Nina Theroux.L_MEnnell

” Seductive, intelligent and confident, Nina’s Alpha ability allows her to influence people into doing whatever she wishes but her power can sometimes spin out of control. Her skill also comes with a personal drawback in that she can never be sure if anyone’s feelings for her are real. Nina was the first team member enlisted by Dr. Rosen ((David Strathairn)  to whom she remains extremely loyal. “

malikyoba1Malik Yoba (DEFYING GRAVITY) has been cast as  Bill Harken, a former FBI agent.

“Harken’s Alpha skill allows him to intentionally activate a ‘fight-or-flight mechanism’ producing a power surge of adrenaline giving him increased strength, speed and immunity from pain.”

Syfy’s Executive Vice President of Original Programming, Mark Stern said:  “Malik and Laura are perfect additions to an already impressive ensemble cast. They both have great intensity and charisma. We look forward to seeing them breathe life into the complex characters of Harken and Nina.”
The screemplay is by Zak Penn (X-MEN: THE LANST STAND), and will be directed by LOST’s Jack Bender.
ALPHAS is scheduled to begin shooting in Toronto next month.

SyFy's 'Alphas' Casting Begins

davidstrathairn_SWCAccording to
David Strathairn (THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES, pictured) is in talks for the lead role in SyFy’s ‘plain-clothes superheroes’ TV movie/pilot ALPHAS.

The 90-minute pilot film, set to be directed by Jack Bender (LOST), was written by Zak Penn (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND) and Michael Karnow.
The long-in-development project was originally called Section 8.
The premise is that otherwise ordinary people that have extraordinary mental and physical ablities are recuited into a team, to be lead by Strathairn’s character. This “absent-minded professor” is actually a sharp, rule-bending manipulator, able to convince the Alphas to help him pursue his objectives.
Also said to be cast for the pilot is Ryan Cartwright (BONES, MADMEN)
as a young man who can read electronic transmissions with his mind. This makes him a kind of human wiretap, without intrumentation. However, his gift is not without drawbacks, as he sufers from with Asperger’s Syndrome— an autisim spectrum disorder that makes it difficult to communicate and interact directly with other people.
Sounds like an interesting mixture of X-MEN, HEROES, and similar shows.
Anyone remember THE CHAMPIONS? That 1960’s ITC series with super-powered spies is (or was) also in development as a movie, with Tom Cruise and Guillermo Del Toro involved.