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Tuesday, May 22, 2001
AVI ARAD TALKS MUTANT X TV SHOW
Marvel's Avi Arad said that Mutant X, the upcoming live-action television series, will take a different approach to genetics and mutation than Marvel has done in the past.
The series, being syndicated by Tribune Entertainment, deals with a group of people who were part of a Genome Project that ultimately goes wrong. These man-made mutants find themselves on the run from the government agency that initiated the project.
"It's definitely not the X-Men," said Arad, who will be executive producer. "It's about genome technology. It's a whole new universe of mutants. You look at the show and think about it, that 20 years ago they were experimenting on babies, with DNA, and to make all kids with blue eyes, all kids tall, this sort of thing.
"Now, there is a product recall. These babies are 18, 20, 25 and so on. They know they are different. They were born different. Many of them were changed in the embryo stage or even pre-embryo.
"It's more like The Fugitive. It's not like the world is against them because the world is really unaware that they exist."
Arad said it is important that the writing of Mutant X is developed with a serious tone.
"This is based on potentially real issues," he said. "I thought it was time to develop another universe that is sort of into the next millennium that in some ways does exist. I've seen experiments on human tissue that are pretty scary stuff.
"You would be amazed at what's going on. I have friends, a woman who couldn't have kids. There is an adoption center in Los Angeles where you take a woman and a man - the egg and a seed - and put it in another woman. Surrogate parents. It's very popular today, with legal papers. And I have a friend who has two kids like that. One looks like him and one looks like her. It's an amazing thing."
Arad, who created the concept with Rick Ungar, said the series was originally called Genome X.
"The thing that prompted me was that it was the right time to do it," Arad said. "You could not open the newspaper without genome mapping or genome testing. Once you can look at it and understand it, it's like rearranging tiles. It's as simple as that."
Fox and Marvel currently have litigation concerning Mutant X's alleged ties to the X-Men franchise. While Arad said he can't get into any legal details, he stressed that Mutant X was not an X-Men spin-off.
"It is absolutely not a spin-off," he said. "There's no reason to do a spin-off."
Production of Mutant X will take place in Toronto, possibly starting next month.
X-MEN IN SPIDER-MAN'S RETURN ON FOX KIDS
The return of the Spider-Man animated series on Fox Kids on Saturday will be an episode featuring the X-Men.
According to information provided to The Continuum by Fox Kids, "Mutant Agenda" will air at 10 a.m. as Spider-Man returns to its original time period on Fox Kids.
"Mutant Agenda" was part of the "Neogenic Nightmare" arc of the second season of Spider-Man. In the episode, Spider-Man's neogenic mutation makes him so ill he seeks the help of Charles Xavier, who is known to help mutants, but has no "cure." Frustrated, Spider-Man bolts, and Beast pursues, telling Spider-Man about Harold Landon and his mutant research. The Beast is captured by Landon, and Wolverine tracks him down.
The episode has a story by John Semper and J.M. DeMatteis, with a teleplay by Michael Edens.
"We're dealing with Spider-Man really meeting the X-Men for the first time," Semper, the show's story editor, told The Continuum. "The X-Men two-parter was by far one of our most expensive endeavors. We didn't short-change anything."
All of the voice from Fox Kids' X-Men series were used for the Spider-Man episode: Cal Dodd as Wolverine, Alyson Court as Jubilee, Alison Sealy Smith as Storm, Lenore Zahn as Rogue, Norm Spencer as Cyclops, Chris Potter as Gambit, Catherine Disher as Jean Grey, Cedric Smith as Professor Xavier and George Buza as Beast.
While Spider-Man was recorded in Los Angeles, the X-Men voices were recorded at Sounds Interchange in Toronto.
"Logistically, it was very difficult," Semper said.
The story also features Hobgoblin, voiced by Mark Hamill. David Warner provides the voice of Landon.
"Mutant Agenda" was also told in the Spider-Man newspaper strip by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and in a comics mini-series by Steven Grant and Scott Kolins. The animated episode gave credit to Grant.
The episode originally aired on Fox Kids on Sept. 29, 1995.
The second part of the story, "Mutants' Revenge," will likely air on Saturday, June 2.
WITCHBLADE TV UPDATE
The first episode of TNT's Witchblade live-action series figures to be one of most effects-laden of the season.
A preview tape of "Parallax" provided to The Continuum by TNT included a high-flying motorcycle chase scene with more Matrix-style effects. In fact, the tape featured a disclaimer "temporary visual effect" as Sara Pezzini is fired upon during a huge motorcycle jump.
The climax of "Parallax" also features many fire effects, and the episode also continues the unique angles and quick edits that were featured in the pilot movie.
The episode, which was actually the third shot, was directed by Witchblade executive producer Ralph Hemecker, who also directed the pilot movie. He also wrote the teleplay, based on a story by himself and Richard C. Okie.
"Parallax" is a favorite episode of the Witchblade cast. "It's pretty rock 'n roll," said David Chokachi, who plays Jake.
"Parallax" will air on Tuesday, June 12.
In other Witchblade news:
* The second episode, "Conundrum," will premiere on Tuesday, June 19.
Here's how TNT describes the episode:
"Sara and Jake are caught up in the world of high fashion when a stunning young model is murdered. Sara's connection to the legacy of the Witchblade becomes more mysterious when she uncovers a link between her past and the dead model's roommate. As the investigation progresses, Sara's instincts lead her to Kenneth Irons, his ex-lover and owner of a prestigious modeling agency."
* The third episode, "Diplopia," will premiere on Tuesday, June 26.
Here's how TNT describes the episode:
"When Sara and Jake investigate the murder of a prominent Soho art dealer, they quickly narrow their search to an artist who turns out to be one of an unknown number of identical brothers connected to the myth of the Witchblade. Sara seeks answers about the Witchblade from the incarcerated Dominique Boucher and Internet artifacts dealer, Gabriel Bowman."
* Look for more on Witchblade, including more interviews with cast members, soon here in The Continuum.
Image Comics has announced that first issue of Creeps - the creator-owned series by writer Dan Mishkin and artist Tom Mandrake - will ship on Oct. 3.
Here's how Image describes Creeps:
"The full-color comic book tells the story of creeps who live on society's margins: lurking in the shadows, but near enough to touch. They used to be content to stay out of the glare of the city's bright lights. But bad things have been happening that only the creeps can see...and only the creeps can stop. There are monsters out there, but the monsters are not the creeps."
Mishkin told The Continuum that Creeps has been in the works for several years. Although he doesn't categorize Creeps by genre, Mishkin said the series will appeal to fans of both the edgy horror of Mandrake's work on The Spectre and Martian Manhunter as well as the offbeat humor of his own Blue Devil.
"But," he said, "the truth is there's nothing quite like Creeps, which is one of the things I love about it."
"I try to give each project I do its own look," Mandrake, said. "I want to give Creeps an uncomfortable claustrophobic feel, a paranoid urban landscape."
A nine-page preview of the book can be found at www.creepscomic.com.
Look for much more on Creeps soon here in The Continuum.
CROSSGEN TALENT CHANGES
As part of its associate artist program, CrossGen Comics has added penciler Fabrizio Fiorentino and colorist Jason Lambert and announced the departure of penciler Kevin Sharpe.
Fiorentino is an artist and sculptor who came to CrossGen from Naples, Italy. In Italy he has had his comic work published in the Italian horror comic Dick Damon #0 and had his sculptures commissioned by many different companies, including one used by the Vatican. At CrossGen he will hone his penciling skills before moving on to relief issues and eventually his own series.
Lambert is a graduate of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art. A good friend of CrossGen colorist Morry Hollowell, Lambert relocated to Florida when Morry was hired. He started by assisting the coloring corps doing flats and was eventually hired as an Associate Colorist. His work can be seen in a Scion back-up story, on the cover of Mystic #12 and in Sigil #15.
After four months as an associate penciler, Sharpe decided the studio lifestyle was not a fit for him and opted to move back to his hometown of Virginia and pursue his freelance career. Sharpe's work was seen in Sigil #7-#9 and Mystic #12.
"Our associate program is working out well," said CrossGen Publisher Mark Alessi. "On the upside, we've seen Steve McNiven develop into a solid full-time penciler, and Andrea Di Vito is improving in leaps and bounds with every page he draws. Jason Lambert was an invaluable resource over the last few months, and we expect that Fabrizio Fiorentino will work out just as well.
"Even though we couldn't keep Kevin Sharpe on board, the program did give him an opportunity to try out the studio life and see if it was a good fit for him. It wasn't, but in the time here he did some good work and it has already helped him garner some new freelance assignments. He left us on the best of terms, and we wish him well in his life and career."
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