Microsoft representatives have shot down rumours suggesting director Sir Ridley Scott is set to produce a big screen adaptation of hit video game Halo. The Alien filmmaker became linked to the role after a writer for industry publication Production Weekly shared the news via Twitter.com earlier this week (beg13Jan14), stating, "The HALO project is a live-action feature-length digital produced by Ridley Scott... very limited info as of today, but (Paul Scheuring) is writing the project."
The rumours quickly spread online, but now Microsoft bosses, who develop the futuristic Xbox games, have dismissed the movie speculation.
A statement released to Eurogamer.net reads: "The Halo franchise encompasses many elements, including games, action figures, novels and more.
"As always, we have many projects in the works that offer us the opportunity to bring in new audiences to the franchise, as we did in the past with Halo Legends and Halo: Forward Unto Dawn.
"We plan to continue telling the Halo story through innovative channels, but there are no plans for a Halo motion picture at this time."
It isn't all bad news for Halo fans - Steven Spielberg signed on to executive produce a new live-action TV series based on main character Master Chief last May (13).
A previously-planned movie version of Halo was due to be directed by District 9's Neill Blomkamp and produced by Peter Jackson, but the idea fell through in 2007 and was shelved indefinitely.
While ABC is trying its hand at another nighttime soap in Mistresses, the network's two other prime-time dramas are much more serialized and mythology-driven in nature. Red Widow, based on the Dutch series Penoza, stars Radha Mitchell as a woman who becomes a Russian crime boss after her husband is murdered in a drug deal gone wrong. Zero Hour is much more ambitious in nature, and revolves around a conspiracy theory somehow involving clocks, Nazis, and kidnapping.
Stars and producers from both series gathered to discuss their shows at ABC's presentations during the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Here's what they had to say about Red Widow, which premieres Sunday, March 3 at 9 p.m. before moving to the 10 p.m. time slot, and Zero Hour, which debuts Thursday, Feb. 14 in the 8 p.m. hour.
Twilight screenwriter and former Dexter executive producer Melissa Rosenberg adapted Red Widow from Penoza, a Dutch series. "What drew me to the project in the first place was this character," she explains of her desire to do the show. "This is a flawed female character, as all human beings are. It's a very human character. And I think that's something that has been really exciting to bring to network television."
Flaws are usually reserved for males, Rosenberg says, while women are supposed to have it together. "We've had on cable and then on network these male characters that are very flawed and complex, like Tony Soprano [The Sopranos] and Dexter [Dexter]and Vic Mackey [The Shield]. And then we've just begun to have that on cable for women in the form of Edie Falco on Nurse Jackie and [Mary Louise Parker on] Weeds. And now I think this show is bringing that kind of a character to network. It's a very tricky character to sell to an audience, because women are held to a higher standard. But as played by Radha, you have compassion for her. You are with her. Her experience is universal."
ABC ordered eight episodes of the series, something Rosenberg, whose past TV credits are in cable, appreciates. The original Dutch show is "very cablesque in its tone and its edge in terms of the characters and the moves that they make. When I went to meet with Paul [Lee, ABC Entertainment president] and everybody, I was wary because I said, 'I don't want to pull back on the edge for this or the storytelling for network.' I also felt that because this is a very character-driven show that it's not something that lends itself as well to 22 episodes. The one advantage that cable has over network [has] nothing to do with censors or violence or sex or any of that. It is time. If you have time to write a good show and you have time to develop it, you get good storytelling."
While Red Widow deals with more of an overarching story, Zero Hour is a multilayered mystery series with former ER star Anthony Edwards at its head. Edwards plays a magazine editor who must debunk a worldwide conspiracy when his wife (Jacinda Barrett) is abducted from her antique clock shop. But although it is packed with different elements, creator Paul Scheuring says he doesn't think it's too complicated to follow.
"I have a great amount of respect for the audience. Especially the new generations that are coming up beneath us — they're steeped in such narrative. They know narrative construct. They know all the tropes," Scheuring says. "So if you deliver them the cop show where the cop seems to smell odors better than other cops, it's like, nobody cares. If you give them something where they're like, 'Wow, this is different and new and they're treating me with a certain amount of sophistication,' then they're more liable to watch. And I may be wrong about that, but that's my philosophy. I'd rather go down swinging like that as opposed to go to the lowest common denominator and go 'Hey, man.'"
Because of that respect, Scheuring and his team don't plan to leave viewers hanging on for too long. Scheuring explains, "One of the things I've learned from Prison Break and making a serialized show was that if you're a single conceit show — like Prison Break or Lost or such — sooner or alter you star flapping your wings because a story needs to end. ... I kind of applied that wisdom to the construct of this show, which is it's like the 24 model where you reset every year. This entire Nazi conspiracy thing will be done in Episode 13 this year, but we have a group of investigators headed by Anthony at the magazine who can then apply those skills to the next investigation next year."
Adds executive producer Zack Estrin, "We're not going to make you wait until the end of the year to find out your answers. Specifically, Episode Four you know what that thing is that we're saying was hidden beneath the church. That's not the big mystery. That's just one of many mysteries. In each episode you will find out a piece, we will turn a card, there will be a cliffhanger."
Follow Jean on Twitter @hijean
[PHOTO CREDIT: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Rick Rowell/ABC]
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Revamped Pride and Prejudice: It seems like Jennifer Love Hewitt’s world now revolves completely around Lifetime programming. The busty brunette is currently teaming up with the ladies’ cable network to develop Darcy’s Town—a modern twist on the literary classic Pride and Prejudice. Sheryl Anderson (Charmed) has been tasked with writing the upcoming drama, which is said to be set in a small town in Virginia. Here’s hoping that the future Elizabeth Bennet’s acting skills will make Jane Austin proud. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Comedy Central Sends Out The Save-The-Dates: Web-clip lovers rejoice! Daniel Tosh’s hit series Tosh.0 will return for a fifth season Tuesday, Feb. at 10 PM. In addition, a whole slew of newbies are set to join the Comedy Central mix. Here’s the breakdown: Nick Kroll will debut his sketch comedy series Kroll Show Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 10:30 PM while Roast comic Anthony Jeselnik launches his take on the week’s worst news in The Jeselnik Offensive premiering Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 10:30 PM. Ben Hoffman’s sketch/man-on-the-street hybrid series The Ben Show debuts at 10 PM Thursday, Feb. 28, followed by Nathan Fielder's docu-reality series Nathan for You at 10:30 p.m. Rounding out the male-heavy programming is lady comedian Amy Schumer with her new program Inside Amy Schumer premiering Tuesday, April 30 at 10:30 PM in which she will be exploring the perils of sex and relationships. [The Hollywood Reporter]
Mommy Dearest: Comedy master Chuck Loore is looking for a few good moms. The showrunner is currently expanding his relationship with CBS with a new multi-camera half-hour pilot bluntly tittled, Mom. Loore co-wrote the comedy with two member of his Two And A Half Men team, executive producer Eddie Gorodetsky and story editor Gemma Baker and is aiming to launch the show in the fall 2013 schedule. Mom will center on a single mom (crazy right?!) who is newly sober and trying to pull her life together in the Napa Valley. [Deadline]
The Newest New Girl: Move over Zooey Deschanel, there’s a new new girl coming to the loft, and something tells us she’s a lot less neurotic that you are. Disney darling Brenda Song has been cast in a recurring role on the FOX comedy as the newest love interest. But just who will be sharing scenes with the Suite Live on Deck star? Lamorne Morris—aka Winston—will soon meet Song’s character Daisy, an extremely competitive and determined girl who dislikes quitters. We’re happy about this news as long as Song doesn’t clap her hands and scream, “Yay me!” every other minute. [EW.com]
Discovery Goes Scripted: Following the success of Discovery Channel’s hit docu series Gold Rush, the network is hoping to strike it rich with Klondike—their first is a specific gold rush that took place in 1895. Klondike (also known as delicious ice-cream bar) was a specific gold rush that took place in 1895. Written by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring, Klondike centers on childhood friends Bill and Epstein in the story of six strangers and their collective fight for survival and wealth in a small frontier town. [Deadline]
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Two former fugitives are suing 20th Century Fox, alleging the hit TV show Prison Break is based on the story of their life.
Missouri brothers Donald and Robert Hughes filed a copyright infringement suit in Jefferson City District Court in Missouri last week, seeking damages and other costs from the production company and the prison drama's executive producer/creator, Paul Scheuring.
They claim their agent sent a manuscript based on their experiences in jail and their subsequent escape from prison to Fox in 2001, but the idea was rejected.
The brothers claim they were stunned when the Fox network began broadcasting Prison Break, starring Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell as jailbird siblings, last fall.
In the 1960s, 16-year-old Robert was wrongfully incarcerated when his mentally ill mother told police her son had threatened her with an ice pick. She later denied the incident had ever occurred, but the teen remained in prison until he was 21.
His younger brother Donald, then 20, entered prison and the pair escaped two months later. They spent four years on the run until they were finally exonerated in 1968.
Robert, 59, says, "If we sold the manuscript at this point to a movie studio or network, they'd think we were copying Prison Break."
The Hugheses claim they've noted over 30 places, names or events in the prison drama which reflect their real-life story.
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A violent and gritty film A Man Apart follows DEA agents Sean Vetter (Vin Diesel) and Demetrius Hicks (Larenz Tate) as they try to stop the drug pipeline along the US/Mexico border. After seven years of surveillance they take down Baja California cartel kingpin Memo Lucero (Geno Silva) whose ominous last words to Vetter are "You have no idea what kind of mistake you are making." Vetter doesn't take the threat to heart--until a hail of bullets kills his wife Stacy (Jacqueline Obradors) as she sleeps. Vetter discovers the man responsible for Stacy's death is Diablo who has stepped in to claim the Baja cartel. A grief-stricken Vetter enlists Hicks's help to avenge his wife's murder but his personal involvement in the case clouds his judgement--and at this point we know for certain that two things will happen. First Vetter will be pulled off the case and second he will go after his wife's killer without the department's authorization. When this ultimately happens Vetter turns to the jailed Memo for help tracking down Diablo. But just when you think you have the story all figured out it comes back at you with a twist.
A Man Apart gives Diesel a chance to play a character with more depth than um Zander Cage in XXX or Dominic Torreto in The Fast and the Furious. He definitely sinks his teeth into the role--a little too much. As Vetter Diesel shares some "tender" moments with his on-screen wife but the chemistry between the two is lukewarm and their oh-so-perfect marriage is too fairytale-like to buy. They drink red wine and dance on the beach at sunset (really). And as a widower Diesel overdoes the dazed and detached thing. In one scene Vetter beats a man to a pulp then slumps down against his car and stares vacantly into the distance a victim of his own misbehavior. But Diesel's performance lacks sincerity. Vetter's DEA partner Hicks is played by Tate (Biker Boyz) who carves out a more grounded and representational character. Tate shapes Hicks into a multifaceted character that is tough streetwise and sympathetic--minus the showboating. Worth an honorable mention is Timothy Olyphant (Dreamcatcher) in the role of Hollywood Jack an obnoxious drug supplier who runs a tanning salon. This two-faced hoodlum steals some of the film's best moments.
If there is one thing that director F. Gary Gray has mastered it is the art of making cheesy material watchable. Like Gray's last two films The Negotiator and Set It Off A Man Apart is a gritty urban drama that is entertaining if you allow yourself to be absorbed in the director's dynamic visual style. There is never a dull moment here and like a trailer it cuts from one action-packed scene to another. But if you stop to analyze what's going on or being said corny lines are likely to pop out and cause you to laugh out loud when you're not supposed to. Imagine a line such as "You alone are trying to bring down a monster. As a cop that's impossible; you must become a monster" reverberating in your head. It's enough to distract you from the film's hair-raising violence. Not all of the dialogue is laughable however and there is one scene in particular that is funny and bitingly genuine where Vetter and Hicks pump a dealer named Overdose for information. It's reminiscent of the wisecracking dialogue in Gray's 1995 directorial debut Friday.