Justice League Film in Works?

JLAcart_WThe L.A. Times featured an interview with Warner Brothers Pictures honcho Jeff Robinov, who they say told them a new JUSTICE LEAGUE feature film script is being worked on, with a desire to bring it to the screen in 2013.
As the article reminds us, a JUSTICE LEAGUE feature was well into pre-production in 2008, with leads cast and costumes being fitted, when it was felled by a combo of the WGA strike, Austrailian tax credit problems, and some worry about a different version of Batman affecting the success of the Christopher Nolan / Christian Bale   series.
Robinov seems determined that the end of that trilogy will not be an ending of the character’s movie career, just of that specific phase.  

“We have the third BATMAN, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman…Chris Nolan and  Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is.”

Jeff Rubinov aslso said that FLASH and WONDER WOMAN scripts are being worked on, and he sees no conflict with the WONDER WOMAN TV pilot and potential new series.  
“Wonder Woman could be a film as well, the same way that SUPERMAN RETURNS came out while SMALLVILLE was on.”

Michael Gough, Genre Veteran, R.I.P.

michael-gough-AlfredMichael Gough, most famous for playing butler/aide-de-camp Alfred Pennyworth in the first Warner Brothers BATMAN series, passed away today, March 17th.  He was 94.
He appeared as the kindly and resourceful Alfred in Tim Burton’s BATMAN (1989), amd BATMAN RETURNS, and in Joel Schumacher’s BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN AND ROBIN. He also appeared in character for a series of OnStar commercials.
However, Michael Gough was a versatile actor, often playing flinty authority figures and deep-dyed villains with a sadistic streak, in films such as HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM (1959), KONGA (1961), THE BLACK ZOO (1963), and TROG (1970).
Michael_Gough_youngSome of his genre films include: the proto-science fiction comedy THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (1951), the ground-breaking HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), an alien in THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967), as well as many other roles in THE SKULL, CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR (THE CRIMSON CULT, 1968), CRUCIBLE OF HORRROR, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973), THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL (1978), VENOM, (1981), TOP SECRET! (1984), A CRISTMAS CAROL (1984), ARTHUR THE KING, (1987), THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988), NOSTRADAMUS (1994), THE HAUNTING OF HELEN WALKER (1995), and SLEEPY HOLLOW (1999) . 

Micheal_gough, Toymaker
1st Doctor William Hartnell, Michael Gough

 
On UK television, he was also a familiar face.  His genre credits include SHERLOCK HOLMES (1955),  ROBIN HOOD, THE AVENGERS (first in 1965, as the inventor of the Cybernauts) DOCTOR WHO (playing both the Celestial Toymaker [pictured ]and the in the `80’s Time Lord Councilor Hedin), THE SAINT, THE CHAMPIONS, MOONBASE 3, BLAKES 7, THE LITTLE VAMPIRE (1986), and the ADVENTURES OF YOUNG INDIANNA JONES.
Michael Gough had been retired from on-screen work, but did voice acting for THE CORPSE BRIDE, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, and the soon to be released ALL-STAR SUPERMAN.

Anne Hathaway Confirms Catwoman?

From the Hollywood Reporter comes this item, in which it appears that Oscar presenter Anne Hathaway reveals that her Selina Kyle role in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is indeed Catwoman,
“I was waiting to hear back to hear if I’d been cast as Catwoman, and my manager called me and said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ and I just go, oh my god, here it comes. She’s like, ‘You’re about to hear something you’ll never hear again in your whole life. I’m like, ‘OK.’ And she goes, ‘You’ve been asked to host the Oscars.’ I’m like, ‘I’m Catwoman! What?! Oh, oh, OK. What?’
Clip via Batman-News.com

Tom Hardy on Bane

Batman News.com supplied this video of Tom Hardy (STAR TREK: NEMESIS,  INCEPTION) fron the UK talk show ALAN CARR: CHATTY MAN.
Hardy advised that his interpetation of the powerful villain Bane will not be in the campy vein of BATMAN & ROBIN (1997), and dodged the question of whether the character will wear a mask in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
Tom Hardy did confirm that he will be putting on muscle mass for the part over the next three months, before shooting begins in May for the Christopher Nolan film.

75 Years of The Green Hornet, Pt. 4

GH_75_Header_4

  

Part Four: Another Challenge For
The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet didn’t become a TV series until 1966, thirty years after its radio debut. It was the success of the ABC/20th Century Fox BATMAN TV show that lead to the greenlight for the Hornet.
Producer William Dozier had been chosen to produce the Batman series, and after looking at the source comics he had decided that the only way he could make it work would be to go in the direction of “camp” comedy; a straight-faced satire that coyly played up the absurdities. To be fair, the Batman comics that Dozier had to look at did not depict the character in the best light, as the books had become increasingly juvenile, due in part to censorship worries. This approach turned out to work spectacularly well for the ABC series, giving William Dozier a certain amount of freedom for his next project.

Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee

While Batman might not have been his cup of tea, Dozier apparently remembered the comparatively down-to-earth Green Hornet radio show in a more favorable light.
William Dozier had seen American born martial artist and former Hong Kong child actor Bruce Lee (Lee Jun Fan) demonstrate what he called Gung Fu. He was quite taken with Lee, and wanted to cast him in a TV series to be called NUMBER ONE SON, an update on the Charlie Chan stories, to feature the son of the popular detective character. ABC had passed on the idea of show starring an Asian leading man. However, The Green Hornet’s Kato was a secondary part that could be ideal for showcasing Lee’s talents. So THE GREEN HORNET could be a way of killing two birds with one stone.
GHTV_VanW
Van Williams

While unknowns Michael Lipton and Jay Murray tested for THE GREEN HORNET with Bruce Lee, the lead role went to Van (Zandt) Williams, who had starred in the ABC TV series BOURBON STREET BEAT and SURFSIDE SIX (as the same character, Kenny Madison).
Van Williams and Bruce Lee took their characters seriously, and for the most part, so did the writers and production staff. Still busy with the demands of the BATMAN series, Dozier and Fox put Richard H. Bluel (THE GALLANT MEN, GOLIATH AWAITS) in overall charge as producer.
Wende Wagner as 'Casey'
Wende Wagner as 'Casey'

Wende Wangner (DESTINATION INNER SPACE) played Lenore ‘Casey’ Case, now privy to Britt Reid’s alternate identity from the beginning.
 Lloyd Gough (THE OUTER LIMITS) played a somewhat younger, more serious Michael Axford, still determined to capture the Hornet. Although the radio series had introduced Commissoner Higgins as the Green Hornet’s contact, Dozier and company decided to avoid any comparisons with BATMAN’s Commissioner Gordon, and created the new character District Attorney Frank P. Scanlon, played by Walter Brooke (THE CONQUEST OF SPACE).
GHTV_AX_DA
Lloyd Gough as Mike Axford, Walter Brooke as D.A. Scanlon

Since George W. Trendle (now insisting on being credited as sole creator of the character) had sold off  THE LONE RANGER characters to Jack Wrather, apparently (though perhaps not definitely) including Dan Reid, the Ranger’s nephew and Britt Reid’s father, a new back story and motivation for the Green Hornet’s crusade was created. Although only mentioned fleetingly on the air, the screen tests made it clear that Britt’s father Henry Reid had been framed for a crime by powerful political and criminal interests. The shame of this miscarriage of justice had driven him to an early grave. Britt was determined to fight this kind of corruption, and hopefully uncover the proof of his father’s innocence in the matter.

GHTVGUIDEThe dynamic of how The Green Hornet and Kato operated changed. While the Hornet remained the mastermind and a capable fighter, now Kato provided much of the implicit and  often explicit physical threat towards the villains. Van Williams’ Hornet was more like a masked, sinister Jim Phelps (ala MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE)  playing mind games with criminals to set them up. Kato was the quietly menacing enforcer. To many fans, Kato was more memorable, as nothing like the action moves Bruce Lee could provide had ever been seen on American television before.
However, the Hornet remained the star— possibly to Lee’s frustration. Nevertheless, he and Van Williams had a great sympatico onscreen, their attitudes when alone or with those privy to the secret suggesting a friendly and mutually respectful partnership rather then a “boss” and a subordinate. Oddly, while Kato’s physical prowess was played up, his inventive genius was not touched on (at least as far as I recall).
To the Hornet’s gas gun, the sonic weapon the Hornet Sting was added, using soundwaves to break locks and cause small explosions and fires. The Black Beauty, a heavily modified Chrysler Imperial was turned into a “rolling arsenal” by car customer Dean Jefferies, complete with rocket launchers and aerial surveilance devices. 

The Black Beauty exits the secret door.
The Black Beauty exits the secret door.

An often-repeated sequence featured the Black Beauty rotating into view, hidden under the floor of Reid’s townhouse garage, clamped upside-down until needed. Using a combination of the full size car, and large scale miniatures, the Black Beauty exited the property through a raised wall section, through a courtyard, and out a secret door disguised as a candy mint billboard into a deserted alleyway.
Much to George Trendle’s displeasure, The Green Hornet and Kato would be depicted in eyemasks that covered only the top of the face. 20th Centry Fox had no desire to have to dub their lead character.  The production actually had a very difficult time with the masks, which they decided to fit with earpieces, like eyeglasses.
The Hunter and the Hunted
Programed For Death

A rather sinister mask for the Hornet was featured in publicity shots and the first episode filmed, Programmed For Death. This outing featured both miniature high-frequency sound generators that impelled animals to attack, and a new formula for “perfect” synthetic diamonds –- as well a plan by a ruthless syndicate to flood the market.
However, this show was held back until the third broadcast, and the more prosaic The Silent Gun was the premiere episode, airing September 9th, 1966.
By now plaster casts had been made of the stars’ faces, so that new masks, more comfortable and with unimpaired vision for the action scenes could be made. These were rather less dramatic, and would go through several minor redesigns throughout the season.
The Frog is a Deadly Weapon - No Night Filter
The Frog is a Deadly Weapon - No Night Filter

Some standout episodes are The Frog is a Deadly Weapon, which starred former serial Shadow Victory Jory as one of the men who had framed Britt’s father. Alias The Scarf is an eerie entry, guest starring horror star John Carradine as the curator of a wax museum, and featured the return of a serial killer from years before, not content to be replaced in the public’s memory by the Hornet.
 Bruce Lee fans would choose as a favorite The Preying Mantis, which brings the Hornet to Chinatown, and sets Kato in a Gung-Fu showdown against a young, arrogant and ruthless Tong leader (played by Japanese actor Mako).
Some of the directors of the series were veterans, such as Preying Mantis’ Norman Foster, (SWORD OF ZORRO, JOURNEY INTO FEAR), George Waggner (THE WOLF MAN) and William Beaudine (THE APE MAN). Director of Photography for the bulk of the series was Carl Guthrie (HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL).
One of the most memorable parts of the show was the exciting jazz themes used for the titles and action sequences. Though often identified as simply a jazzed-up version of The Flight of The Bumble Bee, this is not the case. Composer Billy May took motifs from the classic Rimsky-Korsakov piece (and possibly some inspiration from Harry James’ 1941 Jazz interpretation) and wrote a new, brass-driven work used in the titles and in different arrangements as action themes. The title track, The Green Hornet Theme featured trumpet master Al Hirt’s performance, and a slightly different version Hirt recorded is also referred to sometimes as The Green Bee. Trumpet players and brass ensembles often keep the theme as a showcase number in their repertoires.
Despite the popularity of the new theme, George Trendle was annoyed at the substitution, as were a number of vocal fans, as noted at the time in Larry Ivies’ Monsters and Heroes Magazine.
GH_GolD KEYIn 1967 Gold Key produced a comic book series based on the TV show. It ran three issues, written by Paul S. Newman (according to Comics.org), who wrote the bulk of the Dell Lone Ranger Comics, and some of the newspaper comic strip continuity. Pencils were by Dan Spiegle, who did many comics for Gold Key, Including Space Family Robinson, the TV-show based Maverick –- even Scooby-Doo, before later moving on to DC and other companies.
There were two paperback tie-in novels, Whitman’s Green Hornet: Case of the Disappearing Doctor, by Brandon Keith, and Dell’s The Green Hornet in The Infernal Light by Ed Friend (former pulp writer Richard Wormser, based in part on the episode The Ray is for Killing.).  gh_novel_INF_light
Coloring books, Halloween costumes and various toys, including a die-cast Corgi Black Beauty also formed the merchandising. These ancilliary markets would not last long.
The series faced a difficult problem, as ABC had insisted that THE GREEN HORNET be a half-hour action show, like BATMAN. However, BATMAN’s episodes were really one-hour shows cut into two parts, which saved money. They expected similar results from the new series, at essentially half the money— and it showed at times.
This was particularly evident from the need to shoot much of the action “Day For Night”; filming on location in normal daytime working hours with a blue filter, and sometimes the camera stopped down a little. Some directors handled this better than others, but in some episodes this artifice was painfully obvious—or simply confusing.  To try to save money and show ABC the idea, Dozier & crew made some two-part episodes, such as Beautiful Dreamer and Corpse Of The Year.
 
The Nadir of the Series
The Nadir of the Series

Perhaps because THE GREEN HORNET was not the campy fun that audiences  might have expected, it did not do as well in the ratings as its predecessor. Trying to attract more viewers, the last two-part episode, Invasion from Outer Space (produced by Stanley Shpetner, rather than Richard Bluel) was much more gaudy and offbeat, with outrageous villain “Dr. Mabuse” behind the science fiction-y shenanigans.
Van Williams and Bruce Lee even guest-starred as their characters on BATMAN in a two-part episode A Piece of the Action/Batman’s Satisfaction, seeming rather uncomfortable. All this last-minute fiddling was to no avail.
However, William Dozier would insist that the series was not cancelled after one season due to ratings. He maintained that he and 20th Century Fox could only find it worthwhile to continue making the show if it was extended into a full hour-long program and presented this fact to ABC. The network was reportedly open to another season of half-hour episodes, but not a hour-long show. So it was (possibly) mutually decided to end the series after 26 episodes.
This decision served to put THE GREEN HORNET in a bad situation when it came to syndication. With only one season’s worth of episodes, the show could not be easily ‘stripped’; shown five days a week, like a comic strip. Fewer stations ordered it, and for many years few people got the chance to see the program in its original form.
GH_StingEven in the video tape and DVD era the show remains elusive as the complicated rights between 20th Century Fox, Dozier’s Greenway Productions, the character owners, and a third-party (and apparently legally defunct) licensing firm have kept both THE GREEN HORNET and  BATMAN from authorized video release.
However, the series memory was kept alive by the later success and enduring appreciation of Bruce Lee for his martial arts films, skills, and personal charisma.
To cash in on the star’s popularity, two feature films were cobbled together from several episodes, cutting in extra fight scenes from shows otherwise not featured, in a rather clumsy manner. Nevertheless, THE GREEN HORNET (1974) and FURY OF THE DRAGON (1976) seemed to do fairly well, making the rounds of second run theaters for several years and also remaining popular in Far East markets.
GH_weaponsThe rise of the comic book shop, where younger readers could find back issues also gave the character some minor exposure, as did syndicated repeats of the radio episodes, several of which also turned up on LP and tape. 
Thus the short-lived series was kept alive in superhero fan’s minds, becoming almost by accident what’s considered by most the definitive version of the Green Hornet.

 

Catwoman & Bane For 'Dark Knight Rises'

Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Christopher Nolan stated, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story.”

Tom Hardy, BRONSON
Tom Hardy, BRONSON

In addition, Tom Hardy has been set to play Bane. Nolan said, “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”

Nolan will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven. “

The Dark Knight Rises” is slated for release on July 20, 2012. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

So Catwoman and Bane, huh? Could work.
Catwoman has appeared in the `60’s BATMAN television, show, spin-off movie, and BATMAN RETURNS, as well as cartoons.  (A non-Selina Kyle heroic version was showcased in CATWOMAN.)
Bane appeared in a less- than -faithful fashion in the widely reviled BATMAN AND ROBIN, appearing as a scientifically-powered inarticulate brute.
Casting the British Tom Hardy as the character is somewhat unexpected. In the comics, Bane is supposed to be from a Caribbean prision, and speaks with a Hispanic accent, though he is surprisingly intelligent and literate for a long-term inmate. Using the addictive super-steriod Venom,  he was transformed into a inhumanly strong killer.
He’s clever enough to keep the Batman on the run, by releasing crimminal lunatics from Arkham Asylum, while also deducing his secret identity, and eventually breaking the Dark Knight’s back in a fight. (Knightfall)
How this will play out in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is anybody’s guess.

Nolan Steps Back From 'Superman' Film

christopher-nolanAt a party for Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION, plugging it’s Oscar chances to the press, HitFix spoke to the director and his wife and producing partner Emma Thomas about the Superman movie and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
Thomas described Chris Nolan as very single-minded when making a film, and that it would be difficult for him to try to work on another project. Thus, now that he’s sure that David S. Goyer’s concept has been worked into a script that they and Warner Brothers like, they’ll be stepping back and handing off the Superman film to director Zack Snyder (WATCHMEN). Nolan  will have little to do with that movie’s production.
Christopher Nolan expressed surprise that fans think he has all the details worked out on the Batman films, sometimes long before he’s even begun working on them. Apparently, he’s still writing  the screenplay (due in January) with his brother Jonathan Nolan, and has not finished casting the film.
At the same event, Thomson on Hollywood also spoke to Nolan, who will not confirm if  Tom Hardy (STAR TREK: NEMESIS) will be playing a hero or villain in his third Batman film. He did shoot down the internet rumor that he planned to use stock footage of Heath Ledger to insert the Joker into the film.
Also attending the event was composer Hans Zimmer (THE DARK KNIGHT), who is presently set to write the music for Zack Snyder’s Superman re-boot, after doing the latest PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN film, and the SHERLOCK HOLMES sequel.

Nolan Indicates 'Dark Knight Rises' Last

batman_DK1In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Christopher Nolan appeared to confirm that THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will be the final Batman film for  him and star Christian Bale.
The actor recently indicated that the third film would be his last, unless Nolan said otherwise. Happily discussing  the success of his SF thiller INCEPTION, Christopher Nolan said the following:

 
“I feel very glad that I’m doing another Batman film. I think it would have been daunting to sit down and write an original script after INCEPTION. I love working within the realm and rules of our Batman world. It’s kind of nice to have someplace to go that I’m super-excited about.”
 I must say that I’m glad — I’m very, very glad — to be embarking on the last chapter of our Batman saga without any sense of obligation or duty to the studio. They did very well with INCEPTION. So I’m able to go into finishing our story in a very enthusiastic way.”

A trilogy seems to a fitting arc for the n/Bale Batman films, though I can’t  imagine that Warner Brothers would let the franchise lie fallow for too long. Fortunately, the character is strong enough to draw interest in many different interpetations, and  not simply by specific director/actor teamings. However,  it’s hard to imagine a better combination than Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale, who seem so in-synch in their approach.

'Dark Knight Rises' Bale's Last Batman

christian_baleE! Online’s UK site is carrying the completely unsurprising news that THE DARK KNIGHT RISES will almost certainly be the last time that Christian Bale will play The Batman.
  The actor did give some indication that he might don the cape and cowl again if director Christopher Nolan asked. “…  Unless Chris says different, this will be the last time I’m playing Batman,” said Bale in a video interview.
As Chris Nolan has stated that RISES is his last planned film, that will likely be the end of the Nolan/Bale Batman era.
As for the myriad rumors that fly around the franchise, Christan Bale offers the following good advice:

“Until Chris tells me, I don’t believe it…  It’s gotta be from his mouth, or else I don’t really know.”

See the video at the link above for more information, including a bit of chat about THE FIGHTER.

'Dark Knight' Sequel – No Riddler

bbnew14Christopher Nolan revealed to The L.A. Times  that his third Batman film will be entitled THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, and that it won’t feature The Riddler, as many news outlets, both print and online, have speculated.
Not willing to go into detail about plot or characters Nolan did say: ” “We’ll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we’ll be introducing some new ones.”
Christopher Nolan also eliminated Mr. Freeze as a potential villian, although it would be hard to imagine that sci-fi/fantasy character fitting into his more real-world grounded version of the venerable DC Comics character. 
However, he was more open about his plans about how to shoot the THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, confirming that Warner Brothers has agreed to his desire to not make the film in 3-D, and instead focus on image quality and the use of IMAX cameras, which worked quite well in selected scenes of THE DARK KNIGHT.