Source: TV Guide On-Line
Last week Sci Fi Channel made the out-of-nowhere announcement that the dearly departed cult favorite series Farscape would be coming back with all-new webisodes. In an exclusive interview, executive producer Brian Henson gave TV Guide some scoop about the upcoming revival, and also indicated that bigger plans for the franchise lie ahead.
A dozen new webisodes of the irreverent 1999-2003 live-action/puppet science-fiction adventure could launch as early as this fall on Scifi.com. Scripts have yet to be written, but Henson says the installments will be three to six minutes long, and “each one is a cool little cliff-hanger scene that takes you on a mind-twisting adventure.” He expects some of the series’ actors and writers to return, but as of yet no deals have been signed. As to whether stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black will come back, Henson hints that their characters’ son, D’Argo Sun-Crichton, will likely be featured in the project. “The story will definitely take place in the Farscape universe,” Henson says, “and there will be some characters that the audience knows and some characters that will be new.” (All of the show’s Creature Shop-designed animatronic puppets will have to be re-created, he says, “because all of their molded foam skins have rotted.”)
Although webisodes may not be as glamorous as a TV pickup, Henson is enthusiastic about the chance to bring back the show in any format. Scifi.com “seems like a great place for us to play with new ideas. What we’ll be doing is trying to explore where the next generation of Farscape goes. By that I mean the next series.” That’s right, Henson hopes the webisodes will lead to a TV sequel.
Look for more news on Farscape’s future to be announced at Comic-Con later this week.
UPDATE: TV Guide just learned that Browder has talked with Henson about appearing in the webisodes. Browder’s spokesperson says, “there’s nothing concrete,” but, if asked “Ben will absolutely try to make time. Ben has always been in love with the character John Crichton and the Farscape series.”
No official word yet, but TV Guide is reporting that Zachary Quinto (Sylar on “Heroes”) will be Spock in the next “Star Trek” movie.
Bad Robot, J.J. Abrams production company has issued no official word yet, but word on the street has it that Quinto will don the famous ears and the official word will come at this weekend’s “Star Trek” Comic Con panel.
No word on if any of the other iconic characters from the original series have been cast, though the rumor that Matt Damon would play the young Kirk appears to be just that–a rumor. Abrams is reported to want someone younger to fill the shoes of William Shatner.
Fellow “Heroes” co-star and Abrams favorite Greg Grunberg is actively lobbying for a role in the upcoming “Star Trek” film as well, saying he could possibly play Scotty.
We’ll have more details and the official confirmation of this news when it becomes available.
Source: Scott Bowles of USA Today
Who is Fanboy? And more importantly, what does he want with Hollywood?
Studio executives know he’s out there, somewhere. Stealing scripts. Pirating films. Firing off reviews before a movie opens. Befriending Snakes on a Plane on the Internet, only to crush it in theaters. Quietly marshaling forces behind 300 to make it the surprise hit of the year.
For all the alter egos and caped conventioneers who will populate this weekend’s Comic-Con gathering in San Diego, only Fanboy’s true identity gnaws at the movie honchos who annually prowl the nation’s largest comic-book convention looking for the next pop hit.
Each year, the suits follow his trail, trying to determine what Fanboy will champion, defend or vanquish. Usually, they come back empty-handed.
“I know he’s real, because he makes my job harder,” says Marvin Levy of DreamWorks, which had the geek smash Transformers. “But trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to see will keep you up at night.”
It could be a long weekend, then, for the execs who will again try to gauge the taste of the fanboy â€” the moniker of legions of rabid pop-culture consumers devoted to their podcasts, MySpace pages and nerd-friendly movies. Sometimes.
“It’s impossible to really cater to fanboys, because they’re passionate about so many genres,” says Zack Snyder, director of 300. “You have to be really careful making movies for them, because they don’t like the stink of Hollywood on them. And if your movie is bad, you’re dead.”
To be sure, fanboys (and, to a lesser degree, fangirls) are changing the way Hollywood does business.
Studios are hiring marketers just to monitor movie fan sites. If a screenplay is leaked onto the Internet â€” once an offense that could land the culprit in jail â€” studios now find themselves asking fans what they think of the stolen goods. And if fanboys still don’t like the script, it gets reworked.
There’s good reason to court â€” and fear â€” the elusive demographic. While their full numbers remain unclear, Internet and comic devotees can add $25 million to $50 million to a movie’s box office take, according to some estimates
How’s this for respect: Fanboy is getting his own flick. Fanboys, a comedy about four young men who try to break into the Skywalker Ranch to see an early version of Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace , opens next year and will get its push â€” where else? â€” at Comic-Con. Other films, including Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, will get early peeks and star appearances to persuade Fanboy to join the cause.
“They’ve created a whole new world for people to be heard,” says comedian and actor Dane Cook, who rose to fame on the shoulders of Internet fans. “But they’re not easy to define, and they’re hard to read. You’re either a god, or you’re scum. If you’re uncertain about who you are or what you’re doing, they’ll screw you up even more.”
Indeed, studio execs concede they’ve made little progress in cracking Fanboy’s identity.
He doesn’t frequent malls much, so he’s impervious to the ultimate studio weapon, the tracking-poll questionnaire. He blogs, texts and instant-messages obsessively but usually under a pseudonym. He is slavishly devoted to his superhero of choice but will turn on him if he goes too Hollywood.
His tastes can be obscure. “You know the movie they quote me most often?” says Matt Damon. “Not the Bourne movies. Not Oceans. But Rounders. I can’t figure it out.”
And Fanboy’s got disposable income. Lots of it. For Xbox, iPhones, comic books â€” and movies that studio execs still can’t figure out.
Fanboy, says Fantastic Four star Jessica Alba, is a little like pornography. You can’t define him, but you know him when you see him.
“A fanboy doesn’t ask me for a picture or for a date,” Alba says. “He wants to know what it’s like to meet Victor Von Doom. It’s a little strange, but cute.”
The force of Fanboy
Fanboy, say those who know him, was born in the mid-1970s in Marin County near San Francisco.
Conceived by George Lucas, the fanboy emerged from the fringe of basement comic-book swap meets and poorly attended sci-fi conventions to become a force at the box office when Star Wars hit the big screen in 1977.
“They became part of the mainstream then,” says Fanboys director Kyle Newman. “There had been Star Trek fans, but Star Wars made studios respect sci-fi and showed them that the community wasn’t as small as they thought.”
More fantasy and science-fiction fare followed: Blade Runner, the Alien franchise.
But it wasn’t until the Internet that fanboys began exercising clout.
“I think the Internet galvanized the community,” says Amy Powell, a vice president of interactive marketing for Paramount. “Fanboys tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and the Web allowed them to communicate, rally behind a movie, see how big their numbers clearly were.”
But if the numbers are clear, fanboys’ tastes are not. Where studios once went to shopping malls and made blind phone calls, they now are monitoring a half-dozen movie fan sites that get as much traffic as mainstream news sites.
Powell says a handful of film sites have become the new tastemakers in Hollywood, including DarkHorizons.com, ComingSoon.net, joblo.com and, of course, AintItCoolNews.com , which she calls “the grandfather of the movie sites.”
“If you can get a sense of what’s happening on those sites, you’ll know if your movie has buzz,” she says. “Usually. Sometimes.”
Ain’tItCool’s Harry Knowles says he understands the studios’ frustration in identifying fanboys. (He sometimes acts as a consultant for film executives.)
But he says some studios still aren’t beyond the stereotype of Fanboy: a kid who lives at home and whose social circle consists of Dungeons & Dragons opponents.
Nor have studios learned the language of fanboys, he says.
“They didn’t realize that the fanboys were making fun of Snakes on a Plane, not saying they’d go see it,” Knowles says of last year’s camp film that was considered a box office flop with $34 million.
“Just because the Net is talking about your movie doesn’t mean it’s good,” he says. “You have to pay attention to what’s being said, and who is saying it.”
So who is saying it?
Knowles and others offer a rough sketch of Fanboy:
â€¢Male. Typically 18 to 36. “He has a 9-to-5 job,” Knowles says. “Maybe a family. He’s a stable guy.”
â€¢A gamer. “He still likes his toys, video games, computers,” 300’s Snyder says. “He may be an adult, but he hasn’t completely grown up.”
â€¢An “early adopter.” “He’s on iTunes on Tuesday, the comic book store on Wednesday and the movies on Friday,” Knowles says. “He’s first in line for the new thing.”
â€¢A skeptic. “He’s enthusiastic at the mere prospect of something he loves being brought to the screen,” says Kevin Feige, head of production for Marvel Studios, which has translated dozens of comic books to movies. “But he’s cynical until he sees the goods. He’s been burned the past 20 years with movies that aren’t faithful to the source material he loves.”
Fanboy is a thief, Knowles says.
Despite protestations from most movie fan sites not to leak scripts or pirate films, “the truth is they will read a script early,” Knowles says. “They’ll watch a movie once in theaters, then get their hands on a pirated DVD to watch at home. Fanboy likes to get his toys first.”
Transformers was a hot property. Last year, after the first 70 pages of Transformers leaked onto the Internet, fanboys were livid. Their beef: The movie included humans.
Instead of making an example of the pirate who leaked the movie (no one has been identified), Paramount Pictures made the risky decision to host a question-and-answer session on the Transformers website so the writers could bargain with fans.
‘Like a hostage negotiation’
“It was like a hostage negotiation,” says co-writer Roberto Orci. “There were certain things we couldn’t mention on the Web, like that any decision was a marketing one. That would have made them angry. The script was already out there, so we weren’t getting it back. All we could do was explain ourselves and hope they’d be kind.”
They were. Transformers has taken in $263 million so far.
But that still doesn’t do much to help studio execs find out exactly who these people are and why they’ll turn a critically panned franchise such as Fantastic Four into box office gold or the critical darling Grindhouse into ground chuck.
“In the final analysis, the answer is, we don’t have the answer,” says Bert Livingston of 20th Century Fox, which distributed Fantastic Four.
“They need their movies to be treated a certain way,” Livingston says. “We don’t know exactly what way that is. There are a ton of these fanboys. We don’t know exactly who they are.”
And asking who is Fanboy is a little like asking who is Spartacus.
“I am Fanboy,” says Transformers’ Shia LaBeouf.. “I post as many comments as anyone on AintItCool.”
“I’m Fanboy,” says comedian Cook. “I was just on the Net reading a debate about who could beat up the other: Batman or Superman.” Cook won’t say how he voted.
“I am Fanboy,” argues Tobin Bell, who plays the villain Jigsaw in the Saw franchise. “Just because I act in horror movies doesn’t mean I’m not a huge fan of them, too.”
“Well, I’m not Fanboy,” Alba says. “But he’s saved a couple of my movies. So whoever he is, I’m glad he’s out there.”