‘The Prisoner,’ ’24′ and ‘Watchmen’ all in Everyday Hero headlines

Jan. 09, 2009 | 9:14 p.m.

It’s time for a Finally Friday edition of Everyday Hero, your daily roundup of handpicked fanboy headlines from across the fanboy universe…

The_prisoner"THE PRISONER," BACK IN CUSTODY: The best news you’ll read today comes to us from Maria Elena Fernandez, the Los Angeles Times television reporter who is covering the Television Critics Assn. tour events here this week. Fernandez reports that "The Prisoner," that strange classic of British television, is being revived by some impressive talent: "On a high from its award-winning, critical darlings ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad,’ AMC is remaking ‘The Prisoner,’ the TV cult classic from the 1960s. The original series, co-created  by Patrick McGoohan, was influenced by Cold War politics. The new version, produced by Trevor Hopkins (‘Dracula’), reflects 21st Century issues, such as liberty, security and surveillance, while keeping the original’s paranoid, tense tone. The six one-hour episodes begin with a man (Jim Caviezel of "The Thin Red Line") who resigns from his job and wakes up to find himself trapped in a mysterious and surreal place called The Village, with no memory of having arrived there. The Village residents are identified by number and have no memory of a previous existence.  The Village is controlled by ‘Two’ (Sir Ian McKellen) who is locked in a battle of wits with ‘Six’ (Caviezel) throughout the miniseries. Caviezel said he was initially interested in the role — his first TV series — because McKellen was a part of it, but then was taken with the entire project when he read the script. ‘This blew everything out of the water that I was thinking about doing,’ he said. McKellen said he watched some of the episodes of the original in reruns because he was busy doing theater when it first aired on TV in England in the 1970s, and reminded the TV press that there were no VCRs back then." [Los Angeles Times, Show Tracker blog] (Want to see some scenes from the classic series? Go to the bottom of this post…)

24WE HAVE WAYS OF MAKING YOU TALK: The two-hour premiere of "24" is this Sunday on Fox and for a show that is famous for edge-of-your-seat action, there is plenty of armchair analysis about the political subtexts of the show. Take the review by television critic Alessandra Stanley on the cover of today’s Arts section in the New York Times — the piece mentions Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney before Jack Bauer’s name even comes up. Stanley writes that sometimes the torn-from-today’s headlines stuff can make for windy television: "Jack is summoned by subpoena all the way from Africa to a Senate hearing and scolded by a pompous senator about taking the law into his own hands. Undaunted, Jack fires back with a laconic blast of fresh-from-the-front-lines realism that echoes some of Mr. Cheney’s more recent statements on the subject. It’s not a coincidence. Torture and the moral debate that surrounds it have been a leitmotif on ’24′ for several seasons now. Last season in particular the show’s creators, Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, turned it into a cause célèbre, not just by depicting prolonged and gruesome scenes of torture but also by having characters voice their opinions about torture with labored, even cartoonish intensity.  Scenes like the Senate confrontation may be cathartic for conservatives upset that the Cheney doctrine is likely to be reversed by the new administration. (Mr. Obama’s choice to lead the C.I.A., Leon E. Panetta, has argued passionately against it.) But it’s kind of a buzz kill for fans of the show who eagerly wait for a new installment of torture, nuclear explosions, biochemical mass destruction and the latest nerdy computer surveillance techniques. In an action-adventure show, torture should be seen and not heard about. And that pedantic streak makes the first hour of the season premiere a little like being in a bar with a football superstar, eagerly awaiting tales of gridiron glory, only to have to listen to him drone on and on about the hypocrisy and injustice of steroid testing. Fortunately, and predictably, the Senate sanctimony is interrupted by an urgent threat to national security that only Jack Bauer can handle." [New York Times]

Manhattan_2_2RORSCHACH TEST: Is the Doomsday clock ticking for "Watchmen"? Or is the legal squabble between two studios just posturing? We told you yesterday that producer Lloyd Levin vented in a public letter that took Fox to task for trying to make a buck on "Watchmen" and now John Horn, one of the savviest of the veteran reporters covering the film industry, has a summation of that letter and a tidy appraisal of the conflict to date: "Fox sued Warners in February, claiming the studio and ‘Watchmen’ producer Larry Gordon never obtained the necessary movie rights from Fox. U.S. District Judge Gary Feess ruled in Fox’s favor on Dec. 24, saying that Fox, not Warners, owns a copyright interest in ‘Watchmen.’ Fox, the judge said, controls at the very least the film’s distribution rights. Warners was set to release the $130-million film on March 6, but Feess will convene a mini-trial in the coming weeks to decide who gets to release the movie. Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Levin’s letter. Levin did not return a telephone message. Levin, an established producer with credits on ‘United 93,’ ‘Hellboy’ and ‘Boogie Nights’ among many others, recounts in his letter the film’s long and often troubled path to the screen. He says that Fox dismissed the film’s basic screenplay with an expletive. ‘Conversely, Warner Brothers called us after having read the script and said they were interested in the movie — yes, they were unsure of the screenplay, and had many questions, but wanted to set a meeting to discuss the project, which they promptly did. Did anyone at Fox ask to meet on the movie? No. Did anyone at Fox express any interest in the movie? No. Express even the slightest interest in the movie? Or the graphic novel? No,’ Levin writes." [Los Angeles Times] (NOTE:Check back today about 3 p.m., we’ll have another story on the latest news in this studio conflict…)

Amazing_spiderman_101MORE VAMPIRES?: I have nothing against the fanged undead but it’s getting a bit much don’t you think? We’re obviously going to have the "Twilight" franchise in theaters for the next few years, then there’s "True Blood" on HBO (of which I am a fan) and about a half-dozen other bloodsucker projects in recent months or on the horizon. Now, there’s a ripple of a rumor that director Sam Raimi will put a vamp in "Spider-Man 4," namely Morbius the Living Vampire, who first popped up in the comics way back in 1971 and is fairly cool but less important in Spidey lore than the Vulture, Electro, the Lizard or Mysterio. Where are the rumors coming from? Raimi himself. He spoke to Empire Magazine and said this: "I like it in the Marvel comics when Spider-Man fights Morbius. He’s really cool. A vampire! I like that combination of superhero plus supernatural.” (That quote is not online yet at the Empire website, so I’m taking it second hand from Slashfilm’s brief mention of it.) Now Raimi didn’t exactly say he was out casting for a Morbius but that’s how it’s being presented in the breathless blogosphere. I’m guessing Lizard will be the next villain (or one of them), considering the careful set-up of his character in the previous Spidey films and also Raimi’s love of the Steve Ditko-era villains.

Jk_simmons_mug_2ON THIS DATE: Speaking of Spidey, today is the birthday of actor J.K. Simmons, who is absolutely pitch-perfect as the flat-topped, abrasive J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of The Daily Bugle. Simmons, born 54 years ago today in Detroit, is currently a key part of the cast of "The Closer," and I especially enjoyed his nuanced work as Dr. Emil Skoda, one of the memorable recurring characters from "Law & Order." In honor of his birthday today, let’s be righteously indignant and keep an eye on our kids who just might turn out to be werewolves.

Keep reading for that vintage footage from "The Prisoner"…

A resignation in London begins the mystery of "The Prisoner"…

Beware the Rover!

"I’m a fool, not a rat…"

Have a great day, thanks for reading…

– Geoff Boucher

CREDITS: "The Prisoner" image from the Los Angeles Times archives. "24" photo by Kelsey McNeal\Fox. "Watchmen" image courtesy of Warner Bros. J.K. Simmons photo courtesy of the Gersh Agency.

More in: Uncategorized, Sam Raimi, Spider-Man, Watchmen

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