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Monday, December 2, 2002


Warner Bros. Animation producer Alan Burnett told The Continuum that voice recording for the Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman movie was completed last month.

Burnett wrote the story for the direct-to-video animated movie, with Michael Reaves handling the script.

"I can't tell you who the Batwoman is, because the title is Mystery of the Batwoman, so I think people will be surprised by that," Burnett said. "It's a mystery, it's part of the whole story."

Burnett couldn't confirm speculation that Kelly Ripa is doing the voice of Batwoman.

"But she's in it. And she's wonderful," Burnett said. "And I was so very excited to get her in the show because the character that had been written in the show that she did was so very much like her, such a very sweet blonde, actually. It was a thrill to have her on the show. As soon as I heard that she was available, I told my casting director, 'Yes, go get her!'"

Asked if the Batwoman character will be the same as the one from the comics of the 1950s and 1960s, Burnett said: "I can't tell you. But I'm sure people who have read the comics who will see this video when it comes out will see the parallels going on.

"I can tell you this. In this video, I set out to tell a fun story, a story that had some humor to it, too, and I think we've accomplished that."

Burnett told The Continuum that the movie is being produced and directed by Curt Geda and that Robin will also be appearing.

Burnett, who is currently producing Static Shock and Ozzy & Drix at Warner Bros. Animation for Kids' WB!, talked to The Continuum after a panel devoted to him at the Mid-Ohio-Con in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.

There, he also spoke of an Aquaman animated series in development.

"They're interested in his younger days, as he becomes Aquaman," Burnett said. "The show will be called Aquaman, but they're interested in developing how he became Aquaman.

"It's for The WB, but it could be end up also on Cartoon (Network). They're starting to work together on programs, so they like to have shows that are applicable to both."

Burnett said Aquaman is another case of taking a comic-book property geared for an older audience and making it for a younger television audience.

"One time I asked Jeanette Kahn of DC Comics, 'What's your median age for comic-book readers?' And she just floored me when she said it was 25," Burnett said. "I thought, 'My God, this is past college graduation.' And on Saturday morning they're after 6-11 year-olds because that's the advertising they have there, so they want to attract that audience. They also want to attract girls as much as they can. They want some sort of girl element so that girls can stay with a super-hero show throughout the thing.

"So, we're struggling with two different animals here. So Aquaman, in the development that we've been doing, we're trying to get them to come together - and we have. It's finally happened, where DC likes what Warner Bros. likes. But it took three or four bibles to finally get to it."

Burnett said that Kids' WB! series Batman Beyond in some ways ended an era of super-hero animation.

"We started to get lighter and more juvenile shows to hit the 6-11 year-olds," he said. "A pendulum not only swung, it thwacked all the way to the other side. And now it's sort of coming back a little bit.

"We've done two years of Static Shock, which I enjoy doing a great deal. But I always realized it needed to be darker than what it was. They wanted 14-year-olds and stories for 14-year-olds and 14-year-old villains and only now are we starting to shift to a little bit darker in the third season and it's making a great deal of difference.

"The shows for the third season which starts in January, when you see them, you're going to think it's a completely different show. It's still the same show, but there's a real tonal difference."

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During the panel, which was moderated by Mark Evanier, Burnett offered the following observations:

* His comics inspirations for Batman: The Animated series:

"The whole thing. For me, strangely enough, I was very much inspired by Steve Englehart's books, which were something I hadn't read until I started on Batman: The Animated Series. I just like the feel of them, the grandeur of them. The sense of Bruce Wayne being a big shot and having romances. That was influential for me.

"But we took from everything from the beginning of Batman. We just borrowed what we liked the most about it. There's no one person, no one Batman."

* Dealing with Superman as opposed to Batman:

"At first, I didn't want to do Superman and I don't know why. And I don't know how I got back in on it. I guess there was nothing else going on at the studio. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm were developing it and I was look at some of the stuff they were doing. And I started making suggestions. And suddenly I was on that show. My big thing was that I wanted Brainiac to come from the planet Krypton. I thought that would be neat, that would be different. And that it would not hurt the whole Superman story, in fact, it would help put things together a little bit more.

"And suddenly, I was on Superman, which I didn't expect to enjoy. And I really enjoyed Superman. I really had a good time with it. At one time around episode 40, Bruce Timm asked me if I would rather go back to Batman or do more Superman, and I told him I'd stay with Superman.

"We did 54 of those. But he's a tough cookie. I don't know how you'd shape him, but he's still a boy scout. He's an all-around good guy. And in the end, what we were trying to do, we did an episode where he went crazy because Darkseid took him over. In the last season, we wanted some tenseness between him and society. Society didn't quite trust him after that episode and he had to reprove himself. But we never got the last season, so the show sort of ends on a dark note - that's how it goes."

* The episode he was most happy with:

"If there's a time capsule and I could put one thing in it, it would be the first Superman/Batman thing - 'The World's Finest' three-parter, which was great fun. And it took a long time to do because it was really difficult. They really don't work well together. One mortal and one is a god.

"It was a tough thing to do, but once we were done with it, we really felt like we accomplished something in that story."

On the animation writers writing the Batman or Superman franchises for live-action movies:

"They did come to us on Batman Beyond. It wasn't they who came to us. It was a young director named Boaz Yakin, who wanted to write Batman Beyond. He was a big fan and he wanted to write with Paul and myself. So the powers on the lot said, 'OK, you guys can go write together.' Actually, we had to go get approval through the writers' guild because three-writer teams have to get approval.

"Boaz had a definite vision of the show. He was the director of Remember The Titans - a really talented fellow. He kept pushing the envelope on the script. It was pretty violent and pretty sexy and in the end, we knew we were dealing with an R-rated script, but we rode along with it. We handed it in, and the lot was just shocked, completely shocked, and wanted us to start over essentially. And he saw that he was going to be going through a long process that he didn't want to go through, and so he bowed out.

"Paul and I stayed in the game for a little while, but we just stepped out, too. I don't know how movies get made. It's such a long process, so many notes, so many worries about if it's going to fly. They don't tell you to go out and write. They have to feel comfortable with you step by step."

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