Marcia Gay Harden will join the cast of the Aaron Sorkin HBO series “The Newsroom” after actress Rosemarie DeWitt bowed out.
Harden is replacing DeWitt in the role of Rebecca Halliday, a lawyer who works for Atlantis Cable News, the company on which the show focuses, after it’s sued for wrongful termination.
DeWitt left the show because of scheduling conflicts, according to TheWrap.com. Halliday will be a recurring character on the show.
“Newsroom” will return for its second season this June, according to Sorkin.
One of the most important movie geek questions for 2013 is whether or not Marvel Studios can build on its post-Avengers momentum with this next round of solo character films, and Iron Man 3 has the distinct (honor? Challenge?) of being the first guinea pig out of the pen.
Never one to hedge their bets, Marvel Studios is taking some additional steps to make sure their flagship solo character franchise sees some good returns at the box office, by releasing the film early, exclusively in IMAX 3D.
Check the choice excerpts from the press release issued by Disney/Marvel:
IMAX Corporation and MarvelEntertainment - a division of The Walt Disney Company - today announced that Marvel’s Iron Man 3™, the latest installment of the film franchise that has grossed more than $1.2 billion at the global box office, will be digitally re-mastered into the immersive IMAX® 3D format and released to IMAX® theaters internationally starting April 25 and domestically on May 3.
The IMAX 3D release of Marvel’s Iron Man 3 will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with IMAX’s customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie. You can learn more about Marvel’s Iron Man 3 by visiting Marvel’s official site.
As noted in the release, it will only be international audiences who benefit from this April 25th IMAX release; U.S. moviegoers still have to wait until Iron Man reaches our shores on May 3rd. For those still unaware about what the film is all about:
Marvel’s Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?
Kofi Outlaw blogs at Screen Rant.
After a season of unwanted Observer battles in a future setting, the Fringe series finale managed to deliver a truly satisfying conclusion to those who followed the series from the beginning. As it turns out, the promise of an “amazing” ending from series star John Noble may not be too far off. That is, if you’re willing to overlook a few things.
With Michael, the child Observer, in the hands of Windmark and the Observers, the true powers that the boy possesses are revealed, as Windmark is harmed while simply trying to read the mind of the anomaly. In order to save Michael from the Observers, the Fringe team decides that their only option is for Olivia to teleport to the alternate Earth. After four injections of Cortexiphan, Olivia reunites with her former (now older) self and retrieves Michael. Now with all the pieces in hand, September begins to put together the wormhole device, while Walter inadvertently reveals to Peter what will unfortunately happen if the plan is successful. As the Observers attempt to retrieve the boy, Broyles’ allegiance to the Fringe team is revealed, and September must ask a favor of an old friend.
Although the Fringe series finale was largely driven by the season 5 Observer storyline, which was essentially rooted in a standalone episode from last season, the amount of depth and range the two-hour finale presented for its characters, and their story, was refreshing and unexpected – at least to anyone who stood by the entirety of season 5. Not only does the finale bring back many familiar elements from past seasons, but it does so in a way which makes you wonder why, if the capabilities of exceptional quality were always there, they weren’t more apparent – or made use of – before the final hours of the series.
Notwithstanding a few select episodes, Fringe season 5 was a mixed bag of Observer-driven stories, many of which were used more as fetch quest time fillers than as any true progression of the overall plot. And even though the series finale of Fringe was essentially dedicated to the current seasonal story-arc, the resulting sentimentality speaks as much to the entirety of the series as it does a proverbial book-end to the Observer storyline that fans were continuously wary of.
After jumps in to and out of the alternate world, Fringe somehow recaptured – if just for its final episodes – the magic that initially drew fans to the series so many years ago. A magic that was, as some would say, somewhat misplaced when the series jumped 13 years into the future for its final chapter. As the finale entered its second hour, the pieces needed to defeat the Observers were quickly acquired, leaving ample time to give fans what they truly wanted to see from Fringe: the goodbyes.
Despite this season of Fringe being driven by the Observer invasion, enough time was committed to allow each of the characters their own moment to shine, whether it be heroically or tragically, before Water finally atoned for all the stolen moments he shared with Peter and reset time, which reset Peter, Olivia and Etta back in the park where the invasion began. This time the Observers never came.
Although Walter never did forgive himself for kidnapping his son from the alternate world, his references to the “stolen moments” he had with Peter revealed that, even though Walter probably shouldn’t have crossed over all those years ago, he cherished every one of them, and he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to make things right for the world – and for Peter. The only question is whether or not by this point, the highly-suspenseful, action-packed finale engaged the viewer to such a level where earlier seasonal contrivances simply washed away – to allow Fringe, the little series that could, to give the impassioned conclusion they’re able to tell. Even if it may not be the one they wanted to from the beginning.
As with any television series, it’s more about the journey than it is the end result. Most shows never get the chance to say goodbye. Thanks to its fans, Fringe had two. So while a jump to the future to battle elite humans may not have been the most ideal adventure, the series still managed to, at times, provide audiences with an exceptional and emotional tale of scientific wonderment. As always, this is where Fringe is at its strongest. Not with Observer battles or high-tech weapons, but with one man’s love and curiosity about the strange and unknown. So it’s befitting that, once again, he used his abilities to save his son, the boy who should not have lived.
Anthony Ocasio blogs at Screen Rant.
After nearly a decade since he headlined Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Arnold Schwarzenegger is back with a starring role in The Last Stand. During his time as California governor, the actor enjoyed only a brief cameo appearance in The Expendables – a role that was later expanded in its sequel, The Expendables 2.
Korean director Kim Ji-woon was tasked with reintroducing the iconic action star (now ten years older) to the leading man spotlight. An especially fitting challenge, given that the primary character in his new film left Los Angeles to live his peaceful golden years in small town New Mexico. Does The Last Stand prove that Schwarzenegger still has what it takes to be a worthwhile Hollywood leading man that can kick butt and spout memorable one-liners?
While some movie fans might have written-off The Last Stand after seeing a generic middle-of-the-road trailer, the final film provides plenty of crowd-pleasing scenes, exciting set-pieces, and an extremely enjoyable performance from Schwarzenegger. In fact, not only does the aging actor hold is own when going toe-to-toe with bad guys, he also wholly embraces his Hollywood persona, which will further endear viewers to the quirks of his character. Out of context, the gags could be mistaken for a film that tries too hard, but scene-to-scene, even the campiest moments are worthy of a solid laugh. Nitpickers will have an easy time challenging plot holes and logistics, but The Last Stand is unrepentant in its action-western ambition – and delivers where it really counts.
The core storyline is pretty straightforward – starting with the bloody liberation of sadistic drug cartel head Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) from federal custody. Instead of attempting a quiet disappearance via private jet or a low-key border crossing, Cortez hops into the driver’s seat of a modified Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 for a mad (and violent) dash to Mexico. Unfortunately for Cortez, his flight from the law is set to take him through the local farming community of Sommerton Junction, and into the path of LAPD Tactical Forces Officer-turned-small town Sheriff, Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzenegger). As FBI agent John Bannister (Forest Whitaker) races to catchup with Cortez, Owens and his deputies – along with the help of local weirdo/gun enthusiast, Lewis Dinkum (Johnny Knoxville) – scramble to stop the drug lord and his team of mercenaries from escaping across the Mexican border.
The Last Stand‘s setup is unapologetically formulaic, and as mentioned before, filled with plot holes that require a hefty dose of disbelief suspending. Any attempts to fill-out the relatively straightforward plot – supporting character arcs, villainous exposition, or an underdeveloped twist – speed past without consequence and occasionally distract from the pacing in the core storyline. The film doesn’t bother with deep or insightful drama; however, The Last Stand presents enough charming characters, clever filmmaking choices, and downright entertaining (sometimes gory) action set pieces for an enjoyable experience. The third act, especially, is full of crowd-pleasing shootouts and brawls that provide just as many surprises and humorous one-liners as there are bullet holes.
Part of the success is owed to a smart mix of side characters – both supporting roles and townsfolk bit parts. Onscreen, Noriega’s Cortez – coupled with that super-powered car – serves as a competent ‘force of nature’ antagonist, even if his overall character is relatively standard. Furthermore, the assembled Sommerton Junction force of Mike Figuerola (Luis Guzmán) and Sarah Torrance (Jaimie Alexander) - along with drunkard war veteran Frank Martinez (Rodrigo Santoro) – provides a good counter-balance to Schwarzenegger’s grumpy-but-honorable sheriff. Enjoying second-billing in the film’s marketing, Knoxville’s role as Dinkum isn’t that big, but his performance provides some of the more humorous moments. On its own, the sheer elation on Dinkum’s face while feeding bullets into a mini-gun is bound to help win-over at least a few cynics.
Still there, would be no Last Stand without Schwarzenegger’s larger-than-life persona. Despite a few scenes of overly-sentimental dialogue, where the action star comes across as a bit stiff, Schwarzenegger carries the film. It’s not a career-changing performance, since Owens is mostly an aged riff on characters we’ve seen the actor portray in the past. Nevertheless, he’s the perfect protagonist for the situation depicted in the film. It’s clear that to help separate Owens from the list of memorable Schwarzenegger roles, the actor plays the character to his strengths – even incorporating some interesting self-referential banter about his history with Los Angeles. Instead of distancing this movie from his public persona, Schwarzenegger smartly embraces it – especially when the action ramps up.
A few set pieces of vehicular manslaughter keep the plot moving for the first half of the film and some viewers will likely find the overarching plot to be stretched too thin upfront. However, the second half of the movie provides one explosive setup after another – making smart use of main street Sommertown Junction and surrounding areas. Most notably, a sequence about two-thirds of the way through ups the ante – providing a quick succession of crowd-pleasing moments that lead into a slick (albeit campy) finale.
Director Kim Ji-woon finds a solid balance between cheese and stylized action with his American debut – while making smart use of a likable and quirky roster of characters. Ultimately, The Last Stand is a fun throwback to the days of formulaic but immensely entertaining Schwarzenegger-led films. After the actor’s ten year hiatus, the gamble pays off this round, but with a healthy does of in-development action roles ahead of him, audiences may be less excited about similar performances down the line. Yet, for now at least, watching Schwarzenegger fire shotguns and body slam bad guys is as enjoyable as ever.
Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.
There has been plenty of speculation regarding the upcoming Joss Whedon S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series – specifically in regards to the show’s plot and whether or not well-known comic book characters will make an appearance; not to mention the question of how the series will be linked to the Marvel movie universe.
While Marvel has previously stated that the pilot will be part of their “Phase II” storyline, they have now officially confirmed the that series will take place after the Avengers movie timeline – but will consist of its own self-contained stories.
“There is no question that it is part of the Marvel Universe. In fact, the story takes place after the battle for New York.This is S.H.I.E.L.D. They’re following their own particular stories. There are characters in it, Coulson, who clearly come from Avengers. So it’s part of the world, but we’re going to be very, very careful that we don’t tread on the toes of the features and build a whole new world. And that’s what Joss Whedon does better than anybody else. He’s built a world for us.”
That being said, the real question on fans minds is this: If the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot takes place after the Avengers and deceased fan-fav Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is set to return, how will the character be resurrected?
Bringing Back Coulson: How It Could Be Done
With all the options of bringing a character back to life Hollywood and comics have to offer, we took the time to compile a list of the most-likely options ABC or Whedon might use for Coulson:
Flashbacks: Possible, but it would kind of defeat the purpose of having the series take place “after the Avengers.” The flashback idea also lacks the token Joss Whedon flare for the obviously complicated, but we’ll see.
A Ghost \ Helpful Sprit: Ummm, seems a bit unlikely (or at least we’re really hoping it is), despite Joss Whedon’s penchant for the supernatural and Marvel’s use of spirits in the past. The idea may sound cheesy at first (mostly because it is), but perhaps under the creative eye of Whedon it might actually work. Come to think of it, a ghost would make an excellent spy.
A Deathlok: Zombies are totally “in” right now, and a Zombie Cyborg is definitely a step up. Deathloks are dead soldiers\agents reanimated with future technology by the US government (or S.H.I.E.L.D.) to serve as the perfect military operative. The downside to a Deathlok operative is that they often end up at odds with their organic and cybernetic brains, which usually resorts in the Deathlok going crazy and turning on its masters.
Life Model Decoys and Other Various Types of Robot: Marvel and Whedon LOVE robots (just ask the Vision and the BuffyBot) but the favorite of S.H.I.E.L.D. brass is the Life Model Decoy. LMDs are androids designed to function as an exact body double of the humans they’re based on.
The near-flawless mimicry of their subject’s outer appearance - i.e., fingerprints, hair, skin, retina patterns, speech patterns, scent, body language and thought patterns – have even fooled the acute senses of Wolverine and high-level telepaths. Apart from any invasive medical examination or strong EMP, LMDs are indistinguishable from the original.
(PS: We’re also including a living computer based on Coulson’s brain patterns in with the “robot” category.)
Cloning: To say Marvel loves a good cloning would be an understatement, in fact you haven’t made it as a superhero unless some villain has tried to clone you for nefarious purposes. While LMDs maybe S.H.I.E.L.D.’s go to, clones also play a big part within the organization. The real question of cloning Coulson will be if he’s aware of his duplicate nature and if not how will he react when he finds out.
Mystical Resurrection: We all hate to lose a fantastic employee and S.H.I.E.L.D. is no different. Bringing characters back from the dead is a staple of Marvel comics (*cough* Jean Grey) and S.H.I.E.L.D. has numerous sorcerers on the payroll. The Hand, an order of evil mystical ninjas and longtime adversaries of S.H.I.E.L.D frequently use resurrection to replenish their ranks and have been known to use former superheroes and S.H.I.E.L.D agents including Elektra and Northstar. Perhaps S.H.I.E.L.D’s first TV mission will be to recover Coulson’s body from the Hand’s wicked clutches?
Never Died: Most Likely. Nick Fury has shown he is a man of action no matter what he must do, and faking a man’s death to manipulate a group of super-powered narcissists into playing nice is not above him. Sure, we saw Coulson take the pointy end of Loki’s staff to the gut, but that doesn’t mean he died before making it to the top medical facilities of S.H.I.E.L.D. – or perhaps an unsuspecting Life Model Decoy took that “Red Shirt” hit in place of the real Coulson.
Alien Technology: Why strain your brain about the Coulson issue when there’s perfectly good deus ex machina staring you in the face? The Avengers fought alien hordes of The Chitauri over NYC, and the Marvel One-Shot short film “Item 47″ already chronicled S.H.I.E.L.D.’s collection and cataloging of all the Chitauri technology leftover after the battle; who’s to say they didn’t discover tech that could bring Coulson back to the land of the living?
Scott Stoute blogs at Screen Rant.
The newest episode of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” featured a guest turn by actress Rachel Bilson, who appeared at the end of the episode to offer an important clue about the identity of the titular mother.
The central mystery of the show has long been who narrator Ted ends up marrying – the show is structured as if Ted is telling the story to his children many years in the future. In the past, audience members had learned that the woman that becomes the mother of Ted’s children was at one point the roommate of Rachel Bilson’s character Cindy.
At the end of the newest episode, Ted (Josh Radnor) was on the subway and complaining to Cindy that the band for his friends’ wedding had fallen through and they needed someone immediately.
“Do you believe in destiny?” Cindy’s wife asked immediately.
Cindy told Ted that her former roommate was the bass player for a wedding band that would happily play for free. The show then cut to Ted at his friends Robin and Barney’s wedding, looking at the band playing, while narrator Bob Saget, who voices Ted when he is older, said that the wedding was where he had met his wife.
Bilson first guest starred on the show as a woman who briefly dated Ted and last appeared during its sixth season, when Cindy and Ted ran into each other and Cindy told Ted there were no hard feelings between them. Bilson currently stars on the CW show “Hart of Dixie.”
After years of rumor and speculation about a fourth film, fans of the Jurassic Park franchise understandably wondered if the dinosaur saga was truly extinct. However, Jurassic Park 4 finally got some legs when Steven Spielberg met with writer Mark Protosevich to go over story ideas a couple of years back, and the project really started to take off when the studio hired the husband-wife writing team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to pen the screenplay about six months ago.
Producer Frank Marshall revealed some details about the long-awaited fourth film a few months back and said that it “will be on the big screen within two years.” Well, now we can officially say he wasn’t kidding, as Universal finally announced the film will release on June 13, 2014.
According to The Wrap, the studio made the highly-anticipated announcement Friday and added that the film plans to shoot and release in 3D. Of course, fans of the franchise will get a tasty sample of that experience when the acclaimed Jurassic Park is re-released in 3D on April 5, 2013.
Although the project has a script in development and an official release date, it has yet to attach a director. Spielberg, who directed the incredible original adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel and the not-as-great sequel, was the first and most obvious choice. However, as we learned about a year ago, he is not up for directing JP4 and was instead working intently on 2013 Best Picture nominee Lincoln–which he is also nominated for Best Director– and the sci-fi thriller Robopocalypse, which was recently put on hold. However, he will serve as a producer along with Marshall.
Jurassic Park 3 director Joe Johnston was also being discussed to take over directorial duties for the fourth film, and although nothing has been confirmed on that front, he did reveal that the newest incarnation would take the franchise in an entirely different direction. The film will obviously have to touch on the history of the previous three, but it will almost assuredly involve brand new characters and and a new story.
With no director and no cast members on board at the moment, there is plenty of uncertainty as to how exactly the film will come together, but we can safely assume that Universal will put a sizeable investment into JP4 and considering the advancements in effects technology since the third film, the visual aesthetics on the fourth will certainly be vastly improved–not to mention that it will be in 3D!
So, it’s finally happening. Mark your calendars and set a date to check out Jurassic Park 4 when it hits theatres on June 13, 2014.
Daniel Johnson blogs at Screen Rant.
There’s nothing like an underdog to shake up the Oscar race. (And that sometimes makes it a lot more fun to watch, too.)
After months of pundits predicting that the Best Picture race would be a showdown between “Lincoln,” director Steven Spielberg’s study of the sixteenth president fighting to free the slaves, and “Zero Dark Thirty,” Kathryn Bigelow’s story of how the US government found Osama bin Laden, Ben Affleck’s movie “Argo” took home the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama. Many had predicted the film about a fake movie crew rescuing Americans from Iran in 1979 was losing its award-season mojo after Affleck wasn’t nominated for Best Director for the Oscars.
The Best Motion Picture – Drama prize can be a harbinger of what movie will win Best Picture at the Oscars as well, though sometimes the fact that the Globes divides the prize into Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy has hampered those predictions. (“The Artist,” last year’s Best Picture winner, was declared a Musical or Comedy by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and so won that prize, not Drama.) And, of course, sometimes they don’t match up at all. The winners for Best Drama at the Golden Globes in 2007, 2009, and 2010 were all different from the eventual Best Picture winner.
Another interesting development? Anne Hathaway took home the Best Supporting Actress prize over Helen Hunt for “The Sessions” and Sally Field for “Lincoln,” the two other nominees who are predicted to be her biggest rivals for the Oscar.
While “Les Miserables” snagged the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy award, its chances are probably waning in the Best Picture category, and the fact that the Globes award two motion picture prizes means that one inevitably is not the winner for Best Picture.
To no one’s surprise, Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor – Drama from the Press, meaning that there’s probably little to no chance of an upset for the Best Actor category at the Oscars. Jessica Chastain winning Best Actress – Drama for “Zero Dark Thirty” and Jennifer Lawrence taking the Best Actress – Musical or Comedy award for "Silver Linings Playbook" means that it will probably be a showdown between the two of them for Best Actress on Oscar night.
Tarantino favorite Christoph Waltz winning the Best Supporting Actor prize for "Django Unchained" also gives him the edge in that category going into Oscar night over rival Tommy Lee Jones for “Lincoln,” who is thought to have a good chance of winning the prize from the Academy.
Michael Moore, Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady and others turn out for Cinema Eye Honors documentary awards
On the eve of Academy Awards announcements, the documentary community was out in full force celebrating its own at the 6th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. And what a community it was! From notable presenters such as Michael Moore, to delighted winners like Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia), the word “supportive” was thrown around with gusto throughout the evening.
This spirit of community was embodied by Esther Robinson, the evening’s charming hostess and Cinema Eye co-chair. Not only did Robinson show off a photo of her newly adopted baby to the entire assemblage (would that ever happen at the Oscars?), but she also gave quite a pep talk to the crowd, which included many notable filmmakers. “Everyone in this room is doing something spectacular,” Robinson remarked, “We get up every day and we make something from nothing. It has meaning, it’s important, and it changes the world.”
The love and encouragement continued, pouring out of the mouths of up-and-comers and veterans alike. New filmmaker Jason Tippet accepted his award for Only the Young by expressing that, “It feels nice to be accepted into a community like this, and meet people whose films you’re obsessed with.” Tippet was honored with co-director Elizabeth Mims for Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film.
Documentary film legend D A Pennebaker accepted the Legacy Award for his 1993 film The War Room, which took viewers behind the scenes of the 1992 Bill Clinton campaign. He responded to Tippet’s sentiment by sharing his feeling that, “It’s amazing to see a roomful of people who are like my good friends, [pioneering doc-makers] Albert Maysles and Ricky Leacock. People who want to pick up a camera and make a film.”
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady acknowledged that the documentary community provides more than just good feelings. Ewing and Grady’s film Detropia, the evening’s only nominee to receive two awards (Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Original Score), was a largely self-distributed effort. “We leaned on the community, and you delivered,” helping to raise over $70,000 on Kickstarter toward distribution and landing the film in over 100 cities.
One of the evening’s most emotional moments came during Michael Moore’s impassioned acceptance speech on behalf of 5 Broken Cameras filmmakers, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi. Their film about Israeli settlements encroaching upon Burnat’s Palestinian village was named Outstanding Feature. Moore, who befriended the filmmakers after 5 Broken Cameras screened at his Traverse City Film Festival, said of their work, “You walk into that film, and when you walk out you’re a different person.”
A complete list of Cinema Eye Honors winners can be found here.
ABC Entertainment owns the television airing rights for two lucrative geek brands, now that parent company Walt Disney Pictures controls Marvel and has acquired Lucasfilm from Star Wars creator George Lucas. The network is prepping Joss Whedon’s S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, with production getting underway this month for a Fall TV season debut.
Network president Paul Lee cites the Marvel universe’s cross-generational appeal and Whedon’s storytelling style as reasons to be hopeful that the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot gets picked up for series. Meanwhile, there are plans to re-examine the dormant Star Wars live-action TV show – which is a carryover from Lucas’ administration – and determine whether or not that’s something worth pursing.
Whedon’s show brings together Avengers veteran Clark Gregg reprising his Agent Phil Coulson, with television actors Ming-Na Wen (Stargate Universe) and Chloe Bennet (Nashville) among those playing S.H.I.E.L.D. employees created for the small screen. Speculation points to Samuel L. Jackson showing up as organization head Nick Fury (admittedly, the actor’s stirring that pot himself), but otherwise the series is shaping up as a separate entity that does not overlap with the Marvel Cinematic Universe timeline (e.g. Coulson’s alive and fine).
S.H.I.E.L.D. is expected to follow the template of Whedon’s cult TV creations Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, examining contemporary family identity and moral responsibilities through a pop culture show that breezily see-saws between tongue-in-cheek action and serious drama (a la The Avengers). That is, we anticipate as much emphasis on the (dysfunctional?) team dynamic as the characters’ world-saving deeds.
Lee assures IGN that his fellow ABC executives recognize the series’ potential, in terms of how it meets the network’s “smart with heart” criteria that means they have more shows watched by parents and kids together (known as “co-viewed shows”):
“Absolutely Marvel has the ability to bring the whole family around it. The truth about Joss is he has some great relationships in [S.H.I.E.L.D.] so there are a lot of really funny, male/female relationships – very flirtatious ones that go through it. But it’s also Joss too and it’s Marvel and there’s a lot of action to it.”
The relatively diverse S.H.I.E.L.D. casting has Lee believing the show can appeal to “men and women and kids,” rather than just Marvel’s target male demographic. Hence, ABC heads will be watching the pilot earlier than those for other prospective new TV properties and plan to initiate marketing shortly after giving the series an official green-light (chances are good that will happen):
“By the way, the script’s great. So I don’t want to jinx it, because that may not mean a good pilot or a good series, but we’re very excited about it. Joss is wonderful to work with. And by the way, [he's] thrilled to be on television, which I’m enjoying!”
Whedon’s last small screen foray, Dollhouse, wasn’t exactly a satisfying venture, but coming off Avengers‘ $1.5. billion theatrical returns – and the increased carte blanche creative control that comes with it – has probably buoyed his spirits.
Meanwhile, ABC could be dusting off the 50 hours’ worth of scripts assembled by Lucas, producer Rick McCallum and geek-favorite writers like Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Caprica) for a live-action Star Wars TV series that unfolds during the years separating the prequel and “original” film trilogies. Lee’s informed EW that such an option is being considered right now:
“We’d love to do something with Lucasfilm, we’re not sure what yet. We haven’t even sat down with them. We’re going to look at [the live-action series], we’re going to look at all of them, and see what’s right. We weren’t able to discuss this with them until [the acquisition] closed and it just closed. It’s definitely going to be part of the conversation.”
However, the potential cost may prevent this. Lucas’ original estimates were that the required effects will cost $150-200 million or an average $3-5 million episode price tag; though, before the acquisition, steps were being taken by the filmmaker and Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) to reduce expenses to $50-60 million (or $1 million per episode). Indeed, Lee admits the scale and approach preferred by new Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will affect their decision:
“It’s going to be very much up to the Lucasfilm brands how they want to play it. We got to a point here with Marvel, a very special point, where we’re in the Marvel universe, and very relevantly so, but we’re not doing The Avengers. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of The Avengers. So maybe something oblique is the way to [approach the Star Wars universe] rather than going straight head-on at it.”
Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.