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 Fx news bits

 Duncan Praises Apes Costume
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) told the Daily Radar Web site that his Planet of the Apes gorilla suit is realistic. Duncan plays an ape warrior in the Tim Burton movie, an update of the 1968 SF film of the same name.
"These [costumes] look real," Duncan told the site. "I'm a silverback gorilla in the movie, and these look like silverback gorillas. The only thing you'll be able to tell are my eyes. ... Everybody is so good in this movie that they're making my job really easy. [Director] Tim Burton is making my job easy." Duncan added that the movie will contain a twist. "It's very good," he said. Apes is currently in production.

 Columbia Develops Automata
Columbia Pictures will develop the SF thriller movie Automata from special-effects maven Stan Winston and producer Brian Gilbert, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Mike Jones will write the script, about a disgruntled telephone tech support worker who stumbles on an underground fight club for robots, the trade paper reported.
Winston will produce the movie and develop special effects.

 Episode II To Re-Shoot In March
Cast and crew of Star Wars: Episode II will return to Fox Studios Australia in March to shoot additional scenes, according to the official Star Wars Homing Beacon newsletter. "It's not typical for a film, but it should be," producer Rick McCallum told the newsletter. "It's not typical, because there's two or three things that happen. For example, some directors get very embarrassed because they think it's a weakness if they have to do additional shooting. Which is absurd, because an audience doesn't know how much you shoot or when. This is like writing on a word processor. You cut and paste, and you change right up to the minute you hand it in."
The new footage will be inserted into the developing cut of Episode II, which is in post-production, the newsletter reported. The need for new angles, scenes and elements could necessitate further shooting later in the year.
"We believe in making that process very fluid, so we change the very nature of how we set up a movie in terms of our talent," McCallum said. "If an actor wants to be a part of this movie, he has to know that he's going to be around and has to be available."

 Smith, Jones Cut Deal For MIB2
Sony has struck a deal with Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and other key players to work on the sequel to 1999's hit movie Men in Black that will give them an unprecedented 50 percent share of all profits from the sequel until it makes $200 million, and E! Online reported. The arrangement is called the most lucrative profit-sharing deal ever, the sites reported.
Smith reportedly gets 20 percent and Jones 12.5 percent. Director Barry Sonnenfeld will get 10 percent and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald will snag 5 percent. Steven Spielberg, who executive-produced the original film, will also get 5 percent. Profits beyond that will go to the studio, which hopes to recoup its initial investment from foreign box office, video and DVD sales and other ancillary markets for Men in Black 2.
The deal surpasses that struck among Universal Studios and the makers of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Universal agreed to divide 34 percent of that film's profits between star Jim Carrey, director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and the estate of the late Dr. Seuss, aka Theodore Geisel.

 Stewart, Short To Voice Neutron
Patrick Stewart and Martin Short will voice characters in the upcoming computer-generated SF movie Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius for Nickelodeon and Paramount, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Director John Davis is slated to start production on the project in January, with plans for a holiday 2001 release, the trade paper reported.
Jimmy Neutron tells the story of a young genius who must travel to outer space to rescue all of the parents in his town after they are kidnapped by a group of aliens, the paper reported. The project is designed as part of a planned franchise for Nickelodeon. The network plans to launch a series of TV shorts slated for a January rollout to introduce the character. Nickelodeon will then debut a Jimmy Neutron Web site in July and, later, a video game. An animated series is scheduled to bow in fall 2002, the trade paper reported.
In the feature version, Jimmy Neutron will be voiced by Debi Derryberry. Neutron's best friend in the feature, Carl Weezer, will be voiced by Rob Paulsen. Stewart will voice King Goobot, the leader of the alien Yokians, with Short as King Goobot's sidekick, Ooblar, the trade paper reported.

 F5 Heads For Screen
Paramount Pictures will develop F5, a high-tech action film based on a pitch by brothers Tim and Dave Douglas, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie--about a super-elite team of crime-fighters--is based on the Image Comics series of the same name by Tony Daniel, the trade paper reported. Daniel will be a consultant on the project.
The Douglas brothers previously set up For the Cause, an SF action movie they wrote, directed and produced for Nu Image and Dimension Films, the trade paper reported.
Daniel recently set up his Image SF comic series Adrenalynn with Warner Brothers, to be developed as a movie by producer Joel Silver and actress Christina Ricci and her producing partner, Andrea Sperling, according to the Reporter.

 Company Halts Who Cassettes
Big Finish, the British company that produces audio cassettes of the BBC's Doctor Who series, said it will stop making the cassette versions of the series after the December release of "The Mutant Phase," according to the company's official Web site. "Starting with 'Storm Warning,' the first play to star Paul McGann, the productions will only be available on CD," the company reported.
Big Finish attributed the decision to declining sales of cassettes. "We are sorry to let down those who prefer the cassette format to CDs, especially those of you who have subscribed," the company said. The first 15 Doctor Who titles will remain available on cassette until stocks run out.

 Returning To Robocop Roots
Julian Grant, director and producer of the upcoming Robocop: Prime Directives television movies, told the IGN Sci-Fi Web site that he wanted to recapture the bite and wit of the first movie. "We, being [co-writers Joe O'Brien and Brad Abraham] and I, were adamant that the old-school fans have something to cling to," Grant told the site. "We were disappointed with all onscreen adaptations, as they lacked the biting sardonic wit of the first picture. So we used the tone of the first picture, ignored everything else, and constructed our own sequence of events a decade after the first affair."
Prime Directives, from Fireworks Entertainment, tells a new story in four two-hour movies set 10 years after the events in the first film. Paige Fletcher stars as Robocop. "The Alex Murphy/John Cable story was constructed as a 450-page screenplay," Grant said. "We needed four movies. This was our epic western, and, with that in mind, the timing, tone and acts are designed to maximize this. Plus, it's a ton of fun to work on a canvas this big. All other movies now seem small."

 Andromeda Tops Sweeps
Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda was the No. 1 new first-run weekly syndicated television program during the November sweeps rating period, Variety reported. Andromeda averaged a 3.9 rating during the all-important period, during which advertising rates are set.
Among other new first-run weekly genre shows, Sheena ranked No. 3, with a 1.9 rating; Queen of Swords ranked fourth, with 1.6; and The Immortal came in sixth, with 0.8, the trade paper reported.

 Beltran Would Do Voyager Film
Robert Beltran, the occasionally grumpy second-in-command on Star Trek: Voyager, told SFX magazine that despite his recent criticism of the show, he'd play Chakotay in a Voyager film. "Sure, I'm all for keeping the fans happy," Beltran told the magazine, according to a transcript on the Star Trek Central Web site. "If that's what the producers think will keep the fans happy, then I'm happy to do it."
Beltran added, "I've always said that this has been a good gig, and the fans have been very loyal to me. I appreciate them very much. I've done things where I've played the same character regularly, and that's a different kind of fulfillment that you get. I appreciate the fact that the fans of the show enjoy it. I don't put them down for it."
Beltran has been vocal in his criticism of the show's writing staff, arguing that they ignore suggestions by the actors and give him little to do. Such comments have drawn the ire of series star Kate Mulgrew. "My analysis of Star Trek is that it gives the appearance of being very complex, and it's all done with smoke and mirrors," Beltran told SFX. "The storylines are about as thin as the thinnest wafer you can possibly eat."



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