Wednesday, February 29, 2012

‘Finding Bigfoot’ – a guilty pleasure TV show

Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” is a hoot. The reality TV show about a team of researchers trying to find evidence of the existence of sasquatches is sublimely ridiculous. It’s the most entertaining comedy on TV.
The show, now in its second season, features three true believers and one skeptic who go into the woods and howl like big apes and knock wood to try to attract bigfoots. Each episode of “Finding Bigfoot” ends with the group not finding any squatches, but convinced that the “evidence” they discovered proves that bigfoots are there.
The group is led by Matt Moneymaker, president of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. Matt has a crazy look about him and is quick to leap to conclusions that something is bigfoot-related, even when the evidence is flimsy.
The two other believers are James “Bobo” Fay, a giant of a man who could pass for a bigfoot if he were a little more hairy, and Cliff Barackman, who is considered the most level-headed of the three.
Tagging along as the voice of reason is biologist Ranae Holland, who is like Scully from “The X-Files.”
In each episode of the show, the “Finding Bigfoot” team meets locals who have witnessed squatches firsthand. They hold town meetings to hear stories of encounters, then go out on nighttime expeditions in the woods to look for bigfoots.
I’ve been using the show to try to teach my kids about critical thinking. Just because adults believe something doesn’t mean it’s true, I’ll say. Where’s the evidence? Why no remains of dead bigfoot or even some shed hair or squatch feces? How can such a large animal remain so elusive? How can these creatures sustain a breeding population? The true believers are quick with theories, but they’re far-fetched.
My son, 8, calls the show “Not Finding Bigfoot.” And my daughter, 6, thinks Animal Planet’s next show should be “Finding Unicorns.”
My wife thinks Animal Planet, owned by Discovery Communications, is becoming the “redneck channel.” With shows like “Finding Bigfoot,” “Hillbilly Handfishin’,” “Gator Boys,” “American Stuffers” and “Rattlesnake Republic,” she’s got a point.

Photos: The cast of Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” and the show’s title card.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cee Lo Green’s cat, star of ‘The Voice’

For my money, the star of NBC’s “The Voice” is Cee Lo Green’s cat Purrfect. Whenever Purrfect is on camera, the fluffy white Persian steals the scene.
Green looks like James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld when he’s petting the cat while talking to the camera.
I’m a cat lover with a long-haired Himalayan of my own. So I can appreciate the beauty and grace of Purrfect.
I’m not alone in thinking Purrfect is a star. She even has her own Twitter and Facebook pages.

Update (March 6): The March 9 issue of Entertainment Weekly reports that Cee Lo’s cat is just a rental and not his own. Purrfect is owned by Benay’s Bird & Animal Rentals. “I told (the producers) I wanted a nod to iconic villains like Dr. Evil,” Green told EW.

Other articles on Purrfect:

Pawing his way to the top: Cee Lo Green’s cat Purrfect is furry popular after appearing on The Voice (The Daily Mail; Feb. 15, 2012)

Cee Lo Green With Cat animated GIF (Reviler; Feb. 17, 2012)

Access Q&A: Cee Lo Green’s ‘The Voice’ Cat Purrfect Speaks! (Access Hollywood; Feb. 27, 2012)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book cover fail

I recently spotted this book called “12 Steps to a New Career” and wondered who could have approved the cover art.
Obviously an art director sorted through stock photos looking for something artistic that represented the metaphor of taking a “step.” Instead, what the publisher chose was a picture of a guy taking a death-defying leap over a deep rock chasm.
The subject of the photo clearly had to make a running start and it doesn’t look like he’s going to make it.
If that’s the first of 12 “steps” to a new career, then count me out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why you should care about the public domain

The public domain is a fairly obscure topic, but one in which Americans should take an interest.
It involves who owns and controls ideas and our shared culture.
Patents and copyrights used to be on equal legal footing. Patents protect inventions. Copyrights protect works of art. The government gives each a limited period of exclusivity, during which time it enforces a legal monopoly for the patent and copyright holders.
When the protection period is over, others are free to improve upon those ideas.
With patents, this is well understood. When patents expire on drugs, computer technology and other things, creativity flourishes and the public benefits.
The same holds for creative works. Artists are able to freely explore the concepts in off-copyright works without fear of reprisals from the original rights-holders. It provides opportunities for young filmmakers, theater groups, cartoonists and others to present familiar stories in fresh ways.
Human culture has been built over time by the works of others. That includes all forms of ideas – scientific, creative, political, legal, etc.
The website Everything Is A Remix has an ongoing project to show how copyrighted stories like “Star Wars,” “The Matrix” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” are not as original as they seem. Movies, music and other modern creative works build on the ideas of others and borrow elements from them.
Everything Is A Remix is the work of New York-based filmmaker Kirby Ferguson. He’s done a terrific job explaining a complex issue.
The website TechDirt also is a good resource for pointing out problems and issues with modern copyright laws.
While term lengths for patent protection have remained stable. Term lengths for copyright protection regularly get extended by acts of Congress.
If you want a clear example of how lobbying interests control Washington look no further than the entertainment industry’s sway over Congress on copyright term extensions.
Originally, copyrights in the U.S. lasted 14 years, with the right to renew for another 14-year term if the copyright holder was still alive.
Now, for works created after Jan. 1, 1978, U.S. copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For works created for hire (such as for Disney), the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication.
When Walt Disney’s first Mickey Mouse cartoon “Steamboat Willie” (1928) approaches the end of its copyright protection, you can count on Disney to push for another extension.
Public domain works today are those published before 1923. Everything after that is locked down by copyright extensions.

Here is a recap of my recent posts on copyright and the public domain:

Hollywood hot for fairytales (Jan. 29, 2012)

Pop culture artists love to reimagine fairytale characters (Feb. 1, 2012)

Science fiction, horror and fantasy stories in the public domain (Feb. 6, 2012)

More public-domain adaptations: Peter Pan, Mysterious Island and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Feb. 7, 2012)

Hollywood loves free stories like Robin Hood, Tarzan and Pinocchio (Feb. 9, 2012)

Hollywood’s cheat sheet: Public domain works (Feb. 12, 2012)

Public domain tapped out? Try making movies based on historical figures (Feb. 14, 2012)

The dark side of fairy tales (Feb. 15, 2012)

Get ready for 9 new ‘Frankenstein’ movies and TV shows (Feb. 19, 2012)

How Hollywood remakes public domain stories and characters (Feb. 20, 2012)

Photo: Publicity art for actor-director Ralph Fiennes’ “Coriolanus,” based on a play by William Shakespeare.

Monday, February 20, 2012

How Hollywood remakes public domain stories and characters

When Hollywood decides to make a movie or TV show from a book or story in the public domain, it rarely produces a straight adaptation.
Filmmakers are free to put interesting spins on classic works because they are free to use and they don’t have to get permission from authors to adapt them, sometimes radically.
Here are some of the approaches filmmakers take to freshen up public domain works:
  • Make the material darker for adult audiences
  • Make the story more suitable for kids and families
  • Change the sex of the lead character or characters
  • Change the race of the lead character or characters
  • Portray a younger version of the main character or characters
  • Set the story in the present day
  • Set the story in the future
  • Change the genre of the story (i.e., make it an action movie, comedy, musical or science-fiction tale)
  • Make a sequel to the original story
  • Make a prequel to the original story
  • Do a mash-up, combining characters and stories from different public domain works
  • Tell the story from a different character’s perspective
  • Go back to the source material for a more authentic version than people are used to
  • Make the film in a different medium such as animation or 3-D
Did I miss anything?

Photos: Publicity photos for “Snow White & the Huntsman,” a darker, action-filled take on the original fairytale.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Get ready for 9 new ‘Frankenstein’ movies and TV shows

Among the many public domain works of literature that are being developed into movies and TV shows now, some are more popular than others.
“Frankenstein” tops the list with nine movies or TV series now in development or production. Second place is a tie between “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Beauty and the Beast,” each with six movies or TV shows in production.

Top 10 most popular public domain works today based on movie and TV show adaptations in the works

1. “Frankenstein” – 8 movies and 1 TV series
2. (tie) “Dracula” – 5 movies and 1 TV series
2. (tie) “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” – 5 movies and 1 TV mini-series
4. (tie) “Beauty and the Beast” – 2 movies and 2 TV shows
4. (tie) The Bible – 4 movies
6. (tie) “Peter Pan” – 3 movies
6. (tie) “Pinocchio” – 3 movies
6. (tie) Sherlock Holmes – 1 movie and 2 TV shows
6. (tie) “Snow White” – 3 movies
10. (tie) “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” – 2 movies
10. (tie) “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” – 2 TV series
10. (tie) King Arthur and Merlin – 2 movies
10. (tie) Robin Hood – 2 movies
10. (tie) “Sleeping Beauty” – 2 movies

Photo: Title page from Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (1818)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The dark side of fairy tales

As I’ve pointed out many times, artists love to play with themes and characters from fairy tales to find new things to say about them.
Photographer Thomas Czarnecki has posted a series called “From Enchantment to Down,” which puts a dark spin on Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Pocahontas.
The eye-opening photos have a cruel, misogynistic feel to them. They present sinister endings for the beloved Disneyfied princesses.
Check out the series at his website.
Gizmodo has a good write-up and reader commentary as well.

Photos: Samples of Thomas Czarnecki’s fairy tale princess series “From Enchantment to Down,” including Cinderella (top) and Sleeping Beauty.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Public domain tapped out? Try making movies based on historical figures

The beauty of works in the public domain is that audiences instantly recognize them. Familiar names, stories and ideas help sell movies and other ventures.
But when the public domain doesn’t tickle a moviemaker’s fancy, they can use historical figures and events as the starting point for new works of art.
Like public domain works, public figures are free for moviemakers to portray.
Often studios seeking to portray a public figure accurately will license a biographer’s non-fiction book as the basis for their movie. But when filmmakers simply want to have fun with an historic figure, they don’t have to pay anyone.
Consider two upcoming movies on Abraham Lincoln.
Director Steven Spielberg wants to do an accurate portrayal of the nations’ 16th president for his movie “Lincoln.” So, his team bought the movie rights to Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals.”
Then there’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” from director Timur Bekmambetov. The fantasy-horror-thriller is described this way: “President Lincoln’s mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers.”
I didn’t see that in the history books.
Another movie in production has Lincoln fighting a different kind of undead, Shock Till You Drop reports. It’s called “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies.”
Fanciful takes on historical figures are a booming subgenre in the movies today.
In “The Raven,” John Cusack plays author Edgar Allan Poe, who’s brought in by authorities after a killer begins mimicking crimes from his horror stories.
Starz has ordered an historical fantasy series from screenwriter David S. Goyer (“The Dark Knight”) that re-imagines Leonardo da Vinci as a Renaissance-era Tony Stark. The show is titled “Da Vinci’s Demons.”
In another film production, London serial killer Jack the Ripper helps detectives solve a series of murders with supernatural overtones. It’s described as “From Hell” meets “Silence of the Lambs.”
But faithful biopics are still in vogue.
Most recently director Clint Eastwood did a biopic on the FBI’s first director J. Edgar Hoover called “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
Other biopics in production or development are about adult movie actress turned anti-porn crusader Linda Lovelace, Egyptian queen Cleopatra and outlaw couple Bonnie & Clyde.
A film in the works called “Elvis & Nixon” will tell the story of Elvis Presley’s famed meeting with President Richard Nixon in 1970.
The History Channel is planning to air the mini-series “Hatfields & McCoys” about the legendary feuding families. It stars Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton.
Ron Howard plans to produce a Western drama series about Doc Holliday for HBO.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hollywood’s cheat sheet: Public domain works

When Hollywood makes movies, it doesn’t need to start with a blank sheet of paper, it can simply go to the bookshelf and borrow from well-known, free-to-use stories in the public domain.
Recently I’ve been documenting on this blog the many public domain stories being adapted by movie and TV studios.
The list continues here.

Sherlock Holmes

Genius detective Sherlock Holmes has been part of the world’s popular culture since Arthur Conan Doyle published his first story with the character in 1887.
Holmes has been used in countless movies and other media. Most recently the character was featured in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” a sequel to director Guy Ritchie’s 2009 action-adventure movie “Sherlock Holmes.”
A third movie in the series, which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, is being written, Deadline says.
Meanwhile, British television is currently airing a TV series based on the character called “Sherlock.”
And CBS is planning a TV series for this fall called “Elementary,” which is “a modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes, with Sherlock now living in New York City,” EW reports.

Les Miserables

A movie version of the hit Broadway musical “Les Miserables” is in the works, starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried. The musical is based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo.


The works of William Shakespeare have been picked over by the entertainment industry time and again.
A film version of Shakespeare’s tragedy “Coriolanus” is now in limited theatrical release. It stars Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler and Vanessa Redgrave. Fiennes is making his directorial debut on the film.
Actress Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) is staring in a film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Director Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel” and “Firefly”) has shot a film version of “Much Ado About Nothing.” It stars many actors who have worked with Whedon on other projects including Nathan Fillion, Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof, EW says.

Classic literature

Director Mike Newell is doing a film adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel “Great Expectations” (1861). It stars Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, Deadline reports.
A movie adaptation of “Wuthering Heights” by director Andrea Arnold is awaiting U.S. release, according to GeekTyrant. It’s based on the 1847 novel by Emily Bronte.
Actress Keira Knightley is starring in director Joe Wright’s movie “Anna Karenina,” Deadline says. It’s based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy, which was first published in 1877.
A big-budget film based on the John Milton poem “Paradise Lost” (1667) was recently canceled before going into production, Deadline reports. It was supposed to star Bradley Cooper as Lucifer. But it could be resurrected down the line, the website says.

The Bible

The Bible is the source of inspiration for Jews and Christians around the world. It’s also the inspiration for a lot of Hollywood movies.
Director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) is doing a movie called “Noah” from the Old Testament story about Noah and his ark. He reportedly wants Russell Crowe to play Noah, according to Deadline.
Director Steven Spielberg is working with Warner Bros. on an epic biopic about Moses called “Gods and Kings, Deadline says.
Director Chris Columbus (“Home Alone” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”) is developing a movie about Jesus as a kid. It’s based on the Anne Rice novel “Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,” GeekTyrant says.
Warner Bros. is developing a movie based on the Bible story of Samson and Delilah, GeekTyrant says. Screenwriter Scott Silver (“The Fighter” and “8 Mile”) and director Francis Lawrence (“I Am Legend”) are attached to the project, which turns the tale into a futuristic superhero story.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hollywood loves free stories like Robin Hood, Tarzan and Pinocchio

Why does Hollywood love stories in the public domain?
Because they’re free.
Does Hollywood want to contribute anything to refresh the public domain?
Hell no! Media companies want to lock up our culture behind pay walls. They keep successfully lobbying Congress to extend the length of copyright periods, which are supposed to be limited.
Here are some more upcoming movies and TV shows based on works in the public domain.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Director David Fincher (“The Social Network” and “Seven”) is working on a film adaptation of the Jules Verne novel “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” first published in 1870. It is envisioned as a $200 million, 3-D underwater adventure movie, according to SlashFilm and Deadline.
Meanwhile, another studio is making a movie sequel to “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” called “The Return of Captain Nemo.” It stars Hayley Atwell (“Captain America”), Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey”) and David Morrissey (“Red Riding”), Deadline says.

Futuristic takes on classic stories

One tactic that movie producers use to liven up dusty public domain novels is to set them in the future.
Scottish director Lynne Ramsay is working on a big-budget film adaptation of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel “Moby-Dick” set in outer space, according to the Playlist.
Warner Bros. is producing a futuristic version of “The Count of Monte Cristo,” a novel written by Alexandre Dumas and published in 1844, according to Variety. The work has been adapted many times and even was the inspiration for the new ABC drama “Revenge.”
Warner Bros. also has a futuristic Robin Hood movie in the works, according to Deadline. Commercials director Nicolai Fuglsig has been tapped to helm picture, which takes place in a “dystopian London.”
Robin Hood is a character of English folklore, with published versions dating back to the early 15th century.
Meanwhile, the Wachowski siblings (“The Matrix”) are making a modern-day urban Robin Hood movie called “Hood” for Warner Bros., the Hollywood Reporter says.
Director Gore Verbinski (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) is set to produce a sci-fi film that’s described as a futurist “Jungle Book” story, according to Deadline. Author Rudyard Kipling published “The Jungle Book” in 1894.


Director Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow”) is hoping to film a period remake of “Tarzan of the Apes,” the 1912 adventure novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, according to IAmRogue.


Three movies based on the 1883 children’s novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi are in the works.
Director Tim Burton (“Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands”) and Warner Bros. are courting actor Robert Downey Jr. to play Geppetto, the woodcarver who creates the puppet who dreams of becoming a real boy, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Twentieth Century Fox is making a Pinocchio prequel called “The Three Misfortunes of Geppetto.” Shawn Levy (“Real Steel”) is set to direct, Deadline reports.
In addition to those live-action movies, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is working with the Jim Henson Company and Pathe on a 3-D stop-motion animated version of the tale. It’s described as edgier than the 1940 Disney animated classic “Pinocchio,” Deadline says. (See concept art above.)


Director Brett Ratner (“Rush Hour” and “Tower Heist”) is working on a Hercules film for MGM. The movie would be based on the comic book “Hercules: The Thracian Wars,” Vulture reports. (See comic book cover above.) The story of Hercules is from Roman mythology, which is, of course, in the public domain.

The Little Mermaid

Sony Pictures is filming a version of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairy tale “The Little Mermaid” (1837). The movie will be an adaptation of the Carolyn Turgeon book “Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale,” Variety says.

The Nutcracker

Director Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) is directing a new feature film version of “The Nutcracker.” But his version will not include dancing.
“The film will draw from the original story ‘The Nutcracker and the Mouse King’ by E.T.A. Hoffmann, which inspired the famed Tchaikovsky ballet,” EW wrote. Hoffman’s book was published in 1815.

The Invisible Man

Universal Pictures is looking to remake H.G. Wells’ 1897 novel “The Invisible Man,” the Los Angeles Times reports. Writer-director David S. Goyer is involved in the project.

King Arthur and Merlin

The saga of King Arthur, his knights of the round table and the wizard Merlin has been adapted for stage and screen time and again. Mostly recently, Starz aired its one-season series “Camelot” last year.
A couple of movies on the tale are in the works now.
Warner Bros. is making “Arthur & Lancelot,” starring Kit Harington and Joel Kinnaman, the Hollywood Reporter says. It’s pitched as a lighthearted action movie. Production is currently on hold because of budget issues.
Warner Bros. also is adapting the “The Lost Years of Merlin,” based on the first book in T.A. Barron’s 12-book fantasy series. It will be an origin story of the wizard from King Arthur’s time, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More public-domain adaptations: Peter Pan, Mysterious Island and Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Yesterday I wrote about multiple film and TV adaptations of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” “Dracula” and “Frankenstein.” Here are some more adaptations of public domain works on the way.

The Mysterious Island

The Jules Verne novel “The Mysterious Island” (1874) has been refashioned into the family adventure movie “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” starring Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens. It’s set for release on Friday Feb. 10.
“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” is billed as a sequel to the 2008 film “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” which was based on the 1864 novel of the same name by Verne.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

ABC is developing two TV series based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s split-personality tale “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” first published in 1886.
One series is called “Hyde,” which is described as a modern-day take on the story. It’s being developed by “Up in the Air” co-writer Sheldon Turner, Deadline says.
The other series is from producer Mark Gordon and writer Matt Lopez (“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”). It is pitched as “a suspenseful, darkly romantic retelling of the classic tale with a unique sci-fi twist,” Deadline reports.

Treasure Island

Another Robert Louis Stevenson book, “Treasure Island” (1883), is being made into a mini-series for the Syfy channel. It will star Elijah Wood, Donald Sutherland and Eddie Izzard and is set to air early this year, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Peter Pan

Several adaptations of J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” which debuted as a play in 1904 and a novel in 1911, are in the works.
Actor Channing Tatum is set to star in “Pan,” which will tell the origins of Peter Pan, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, actor Aaron Eckhart has signed up to play Hook in a modern update of the tale. In this version, Hook is the hero, “a former detective who is chasing a notorious and childlike kidnapper,” EW says. “Wendy (is) the only kid to survive her abduction by the fiend.”
Disney is considering a Peter Pan prequel movie called “Peter and the Starcatchers,” based on a best-selling novel written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the Wrap reports.
The most recent remake of “Peter Pan” was by the SyFy channel. It made a two-part miniseries called “Neverland,” which aired in December. (See photo below.)

To be continued …

Monday, February 6, 2012

Science fiction, horror and fantasy stories in the public domain

Stories in the public domain are kept alive with remakes, reimaginings, sequels, prequels, parodies and other tools of the creative trade. They ensure an author’s place in history and popular culture and spark interest in the original works.
The same can’t be said of many works locked down by media companies under today’s extended copyright laws.
What follows is a list of science fiction, fantasy and horror movies and TV shows based on works in the public domain.

Wizard of Oz

First published in 1900, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” lives on in numerous adaptations for stage and screen.
“Dorothy and the Witches of Oz” is set for limited theatrical release starting Feb. 17. The cast includes Christopher Lloyd, Mia Sara, Sean Astin and Lance Henriksen. The movie follows Dorothy Gale, now a successful children’s book author, as she moves from Kansas to New York City. Dorothy soon realizes that the dreams on which she based her books were actually childhood memories.
Next up, a computer-animated film called “Dorothy of Oz” is set for release in August. It features the voice talents of Lea Michele, Martin Short, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Belushi, Oliver Platt and Patrick Stewart.
Walt Disney is making “Oz: The Great and Powerful,” starring James Franco as the title character. The movie, directed by Sam Raimi, explores the origins of the Wizard and how he arrived in Oz. It costars Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams as three witches. It’s set for release in March 2013.
A movie version of the hit Broadway musical “Wicked” is in the works as well, according to Deadline. “Wicked” is a “Wizard of Oz” prequel, based on the Gregory Maguire novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” So, Maguire made a proprietary work based on public domain literature.
Meanwhile, ABC and Salma Hayek are developing a miniseries based on the novel “Wicked,” not the musical, Variety says.
Yet another “Wizard of Oz” adaptation in the works is “Oz Wars.” It’s described as a hybrid stop-motion and computer-animated feature that “transforms the Oz narrative into a contemporary, freaky action-packed PG-13 audience pleaser, with Dorothy caught up in a whirlwind of warrior witches, black magic, martial arts and monsters,” according to ComingSoon.


The 1897 novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker gets frequent adaptations because it’s in the public domain.
TechDirt recently posted an interesting article about how early copyright infringement of Stoker’s novel turned vampires into a big business.
Italian horror director Dario Argento is making a 3-D movie of the novel called “Dracula 3D.” It stars Rutger Hauer and Asia Argento and is expected to be released this year.
Then there’s “Saint Dracula 3D” from director Rupesh Paul, which is also due out in May.
Warner Bros. is developing a reimagined film version of Stoker’s novel called “Harker,” which is being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. The studio has approached Russell Crowe to star in the movie, which is told from the perspective of a police detective, Vulture reports.
Universal is making “Dracula Year Zero,” according to Deadline.
NBC is looking to make a dramatic series based on “Dracula,” according to Deadline.
Sony Pictures Animation is making a computer-animated movie called “Hotel Transylvania,” starring Adam Sandler as Dracula. The mashup story includes other famous public domain monsters, including Frankenstein, Quasimodo and the Mummy, EW reports.


Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel “Frankenstein” is another public domain work that continues to get resurrected time and again.
Two movies are in the works based on prequel books that tell the story of young Victor Frankenstein, the mad scientist who created Frankenstein’s monster. The novels are “The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein” by Peter Ackroyd and “This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein” by Kenneth Oppel.
Director Matt Reeves (“Cloverfield”) is helming “This Dark Endeavor,” according to Deadline.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Auburn (“Proof”) is writing the script for “The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein,” Deadline says. Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted”) is in line to direct it.
But, wait, there’s more.
Universal is working with director Guillermo del Toro (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) on a Frankenstein movie.
Sony’s Columbia Pictures has a contemporary re-telling of the tale in development, Deadline reports.
Fox has hired Shawn Levy (“Real Steel”) to direct a revisionist sci-fi Frankenstein movie, GeekTyrant and Collider report.
And former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and his Slasher Films has teamed with Scout Productions on a movie version of “Wake the Dead,” a Frankenstein tale based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”), Variety reports. Haley Joel Osment (“The Sixth Sense”) is set to star in the movie.
Stuart Beattie is writing and directing “I, Frankenstein,” based on the Kevin Grevioux graphic novel, Deadline says. It stars Aaron Eckhart and Yvonne Strahovski (“Chuck”).
Dutch director Richard Raaphorst has a movie in the works called “Frankenstein’s Army,” which takes place in World War II and involves the Germans using the writings of Victor Von Frankenstein, GeekTyrant says.
NBC is working on a TV series based on the legend of Frankenstein, as well, GeekTyrant reports.

To be continued …

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Pop culture artists love to reimagine fairytale characters

Tech-media-tainment previously has covered how modern artists like to adapt fairytale characters and stories for modern times and adult audiences.
Frequently blogs refer to these as interpretations of Disney characters and stories, but they’re wrong. These are characters in the public domain. Artists are free to make Cinderella and Snow White into sexy sirens or turn Sleeping Beauty into a zombie, for instance.
Artists who have tried to do the same things with Mattel’s Barbie dolls have faced lawsuits for violating copyright and trademark laws. Barbie is not in the public domain and may never be.
Here are some recent examples of pop culture artists having fun with fairytale characters and stories.

Sexy fairytale princesses, 2012

Comic artist J. Scott Campbell continues to create sexy fairytale princess pin-up art for calendars. His portrayals include Cinderella (above and top photo), Little Bo Peep, Alice in Wonderland, and Wendy and Tinkerbell of “Peter Pan.”
His 2012 calendar is available for order at his online store.

Realistic versions of Disney princesses

Finnish graphic design student Jirka Väätäinen has created some realistic interpretations of Disney’s animated fairytale princesses, including Aurora of “Sleeping Beauty” (above), Ariel of “The Little Mermaid” and Rapunzel of “Tangled.”

Another sexy Cinderella

Artist Guillaume Poux made the sexy version of Cinderella above. As one commenter on GeekTyrant noted, “I can see why her step-sisters were jealous.”
(More artwork by Poux can be found at CG Hub.)

Tattooed fairytale princesses

Artist Tim Shumate has created a gallery of Disney princesses with tattoos, including Snow White (above). The illustrations themselves look like tattoo art. (See story by GeekTyrant and check out the artist’s work at DeviantArt.)

Modern apparel for Disney princesses

Artist Viria13 at DeviantArt made a set of drawings showing women from animated movies, mostly Disney, wearing modern clothes. Those depicted include Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Belle of “Beauty and the Beast.”
(See story at GeekTyrant and the artist’s website at DeviantArt.)

Minimalist poster art for fairytale stories

Artist Christian Jackson has created an attractive set of minimalist-style fairytale posters. They include Snow White (above), Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood.
(See article at Super Punch.)