Saturday, December 30, 2006

Battlestar + Superman/Batman + Fletcher Hanks!

Fans of Battlestar might want to check out the current issue of WIZARD (#184), which features an interview with yours truly on the rest of BSG season three (sorry, no real spoilers). Big doings are in store for the ragtag fleet, and as Ron Moore and David Eick have warned in other interviews, there are some significant "difficulties" in store for some major cast members. REMEMBER, the show returns SUNDAY JANUARY 21st, at 10:00PM. New time! New day! New shows!

There's also a blurb on the rest of my first Superman/Batman arc... issue #31 shipped this week but evidently missed big chunks of the West Coast because of the snows in Denver. We're getting toward the end of the six issue epic, so you can still buy in and enjoy the excitement.

However, this issue of Wizard offers an incredible three-fer of goodness, because there's also a two page, full-color piece on the incredible Fletcher Hanks, a 1940's comic book artist currently being touted as the "Ed Wood" of comics. I don't know about that, but as a fanatic who has managed to track down every single Hanks story in original comic book form (and remember, this guy stopped producing stories in 1941, so it wasn't easy OR cheap!), I'm just thrilled to see him finally get his due. As mentioned earlier on this blog, Fantagraphics is releasing a book of "best" Hanks stories in May of '07, and you will NOT want to miss this.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

It's Stan Lee's Birthday!

And I hope it's a happy one! Co-creator of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Daredevil, and Paste-Pot Pete! (Okay, so they weren't all home runs.) Seriously, it's amazing to consider how many stories Stan wrote over his 60+ year career, and more importantly, how many were damn good. Fantastic Four 1-102 (the Lee/Kirby run) is still pretty much the benchmark for superhero comics, and the Lee/Ditko and Lee/Romita Spider-Man are also classics. I also have a great fondness for his work with Kirby on the Tales Of Suspense run of Cappy adventures, and the first issues of Cap's own book in the late 60's. Really fantastic stuff.

I've been fortunate enough to meet Mr. Lee on a couple of occasions, even did a TV appearance with him once, and he was never less than enthusiastic, gracious and... well, he was just like Stan Lee! He was even kind enough to write me a "fan letter" early in my career, when I was just starting out with my comic book THE AMERICAN... talk about making my day! My week! My year! (It's hard not to fall into Stan-speak when talking about the man.)

So Happy Birthday, and keep 'em coming, Stan...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Name Is Bruce - Vague Update

Only an update in the sense of telling folks that the Feb. 2007 date I'm seeing bandied about as a "release date" is wildly inaccurate. It's full speed ahead in terms of post production, but everyone involved wants to do this thing right, so I wouldn't expect to be seeing Mr. Campbell's Opus for awhile yet. DO NOT TAKE THIS to imply that there are problems with the film or that anyone's having second thoughts. Trust me, this is all good! Response to the movie so far has been uniformly positive, so positive that all involved agree it's worth taking the extra time to make sure every ounce of Bruce goodness reaches the silver screen. And if MNIB takes off, expect "My Name Is Bruce - The Quickening" soon after! (That's a joke, folks, but hey, you never know!)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

BRANDED for Christmas

Finishing up some last minute holiday shopping, I came across a box set of the Western TV series BRANDED, and it has been filling the house with holiday cheer every since. Well, as much cheer as you can get from a series about a calvary officer (Chuck Connor as "Jason McCord") who, in the memorable opening credit sequense, is blamed for a massacre and branded a coward. Though (as the lengthy theme song explains), McCord's cowardice was never proven, the title sequense features an especially angry looking officer ripping off McCord's stripes, plucking the buttons off his uniform and finally snapping McCord's sword in half.

So after all that, what's the show about? Well, as the theme song says, "What do you do when you're branded, and you know you're a man?"

In McCord's case, it means you meander around the country side with your broken sword (I dunno, that would have been the first thing I would have tossed) helping folks... folks who inevitably discover you're the infamous Jason McCord. There is some especially tortured reasoning behind McCord's reluctance to speak out on his own behalf (something about refusing to impugn the crazy General who led McCord's unit into the massacre because it would give some craven Senators an excuse to attack the Indians and cause all out war -- okay, whatevah!), so McCord basically takes an enormous amount of abuse week after week after week.

Chuck Connors, whose greatest fame came when he starred in the epic film TERROR SQUAD (story by yours truly, check the IMDB for details if you have the guts!), is pretty good as McCord, and there are a wealth of guest stars, but for a half hour show it can get pretty draggy, and there are only so many times it's "fun" to watch the hero humiliated in front of a crowd/town/church/stable/brigade/sheriff and multiple little kids.

But still, one of the great title sequenses of all time. I'm off to watch season two!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Kudos Alert - Battlestar Galactica

Entertainment Weekly has just named Battlestar Galactica the third best television series of 2006, after The Wire and Friday Night Lights, and they singled out James Callis' performance as Baltar as another highlight. That's a very nice Christmas present!

And in a tip o' the hat to Battlestar producer and Peckinpah fanatic David Weddle, this year's Sam Peckinpah DVD boxset was named DVD of the year. If you've never seen The Wild Bunch, shame shame shame! Also, David's biography of Peckinpah is required reading for anyone interested in the great director's life and work. Check it out!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Evil Dead the Comic

Some people spend the holidays wrapping presents, listening to Christmas music and getting soppy drunk on spiked eggnog drinks. Me, I'm spending this Christmas staring at a very young Bruce Campbell's puss, watching and rewatching the first EVIL DEAD movie. I'm in the final stretch of adapting and expanding on the movie for an 88 page, fully painted, four issue comic book series due out sometime (I hope) in 2007.

The first movie was never my favorite of the three Ash sagas (EVIL DEAD 2 remains one of my personal top ten movies of all time), but analysing it in excruciating detail has raised my opinion considerably. Coming from a bunch of kids makin' a movie out in the woods, there are some great scares, and a star-making performance from Campbell. There's a sequense where the camera holds on Campbell's face for a long take, reacting to noises outside the house, that is touching, intense and inexplicably comic, all at the same time. (When the noises stop for a moment, Ash breaks into a relieved smile, "ahh, it's over, *whew*", that cracks me up every time!)

John Bolton is the artist on this epic, and I wish I could figure out how to insert pictures into this blog, because his work is really spectacular. If anything, he's made the ghouls even creepier, frozen in rictus stares on the page. Fans of the film will remember a scene where one of the girls-turned-demon starts to chew the stump her her severed hand; John has managed to make this even MORE disturbing than the film version.

As a writer, the "fun" of the adaptation has been in expanding on certain scenes. For the first time, we'll meet Ash and the others before they take off for the cabin, and you'll see that the "friendship" between Ash and his pal Scotty was a shaky ground even before they took to the woods. And we're also see what happened to Scotty when he took powder into the woods, only to stagger back with a torn face and broken arm. (Hint: it wasn't nice.)

Anyway, keep yer eyes peeled, this book should finally come out sometime in late 2007...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

TIMECOP Memories...

Someone below asked about my experiences with Jean Claude Van Damme on TIMECOP... unfortunately, prepare yourselves for another underwhelming Hollywood story. I visited the Vancouver B.C. set of TIMECOP for just a day (welcome to the role of writers on big features!) and only met Van Damme briefly. But while walking the Time Enforcement Commission sets, I was surprised at how I kept bonking my head on the ceiling. Turns out the entire facility had been built low so Mr. Van Damme would look, well, taller. (I'm 6' 5"...)

My only other vaguely interesting Van Damme story came during the Planet Hollywood party in New York, following the movie's premiere. Van Damme was sitting in a front window, smoking a huge cee-gar, surrounded by bodyguards, and I had to be "vetted" by his guys before I was allowed in his presense. I felt like I was asking for an audience with a South American dictator. That said, Van Damme was pleasant in all our brief encounters, so I have no dark tales to tell...

Some may be curious if TIMECOP was always intended as a Van Damme vehicle. The truth is, I wrote the movie with an "Escape From New York" Kurt Russell in mind, but the studio wasn't high on Mr. Russell at the time, and they were wild for Jean Claude after HARD TARGET. Van Damme coming aboard led to the green light for the picture, so I will always be grateful to him for that. Interestingly, a few months later STARGATE was released, and Kurt Russell's star suddenly rose dramatically. So it goes...

Oh, and one more thing... even though I have a "characters created by" credit on TIMECOP 2, I had absolutely NOTHING, ZERO, NADA to do with that project. Dark Horse's Mike Richardson and I worked up a sequel idea soon after TIMECOP was released, but that never went forward. However, a couple years later I was involved in the short-lived TIMECOP TV series on ABC, which is another story for another time...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Makes Time's 2006 Top Ten

For the second year in a row, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA has made Time Magazine's list of the top ten shows on television. Sharing the honor with such august programs as DEADWOOD, THE WIRE, HEROES and THE OFFICE, it's nice to know somebody's noticing!

Next new episode is RAPTURE, which will resolve some of the pesky cliffhangers left over after EYE OF JUPITER. That's Sunday, Jan. 21, 2007, at 10:00 PM. Remember, we're moving to Sunday, that's right, SUNDAY. Mark your calendars, program your TiVos, tattoo your foreheads...

Friday, December 15, 2006


First, I had a great time at the Landmark Theater/TV Guide screening of "Eye Of Jupiter." It was fun to see the episode on the big screen, and I think all the writers in attendence were stunned by the size of the crowd. The line stretched across the entire Westside Pavilion and the theater quickly scheduled a second show to handle the overflow. And the post-show Q&A's were a lot of fun, too. Thanks to everyone who came out!

Those who couldn't make it (and even those who could) -- check it tonight's ep! That's right, it's "Eye Of Jupiter", written by yours truly. Action, intrigue, Cylons, hybrids, Sharon V.S. Sharon, Baltar, Centurions and more. This is the last new episode until we move to our new time and day, Sundays at 10:00, starting January 21st 2007.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An Amusing (?) Hollywood Anecdote (First In The Series)

Early in my so-called career, I was working on a feature project for a very well known producer at a very well known studio. At some point, we wound up involved in some renegotiations because the producer wanted another draft of the script, despite my having already turned in all the contracted drafts. Since a), these producers wouldn't blow their noses unless they were getting paid and b), part of being a "professional" writer involves "money", things got a little sticky, until one of the big producer's underlings got unhinged on me and said, "who do you think you are? A big shot?!! I don't see a Mark Verheiden film festival anywhere?!"

That project eventually fell apart, but I was always struck by the underling's condescending argument. Cut ahead a couple years, and I had two #1 boxoffice movies come out two months from each other, TIMECOP and THE MASK. And in a bizarre bit of synchronicity, the movies played together on a double bill at a second-run theater in Pasadena, CA. Meaning I actually DID have a "Mark Verheiden film festival," kinda. I even took pictures of marquee in the event I ever ran into Mr. Underling again, but alas, it was not to be.

The moral of this story? Hmm. Probably the same moral you get from almost every Hollywood writer's anecdote: "producers can be real jerks!" (But some are great, honest!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sylvester Stallone...

I'm not sure if it's an attempt to rehabilitate his career, promote the upcoming ROCKY BALBOA or simply an exercise in raw self-examination, but is running a series of Q & A's with Rocky/Rambo himself, and they have been both enlightening and very enjoyable. Even if you're not a Stallone fan, you have to admire his honesty and sense of humor. He even brings up his early porn movie, KITTY AND STUDS, and explains how he got the part. Nothing's off limits, and he skewers his own failings relentlessly.

It's too bad a little of the truly funny/wiseass attitude on view in this on-line "interview" didn't make it into his films. I was especially interesting to read about PARADISE ALLEY, a film he did soon after ROCKY. It was drubbed by the critics, but I remember laughing my head off at some of the (intentional) comedy in the movie. Especially a sequense where a wrestler is trying to get his parakeet to talk... comic genius. Honest.

And he made a couple of real gems. The original ROCKY is a darn fine movie, and FIRST BLOOD is really, really good. And CLIFFHANGER wasn't bad. Unfortunately, Stallone's following up ROCKY BALBOA with another RAMBO movie, which doesn't necessarily bode well, but so it goes...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Battlestar Season Three -- That's A Wrap!

Well, almost a wrap... there are still a few scenes and some second unit work to be done, but principle photography for BSG Season Three is just about done. Last weekend's glorious wrap party, held in scenic Vancouver B.C., was another festive affair. The liquor flowed, the music pounded and the gag reel amused.

Thursday of this week, TV Guide is sponsering a theatrical showing of Friday's episode of BSG, "The Eye Of Jupiter", in six cities across the U.S. Written by yours truly, "Jupiter" involves the desperate search for Earth, a remarkable discovery and other surprises. It's also the last new episode this year and the last episode to be shown on Friday night, as we prepare for the big move to Sundays at 10:00PM in January.

Finally, AFI once again put BSG on their list of the ten best TV shows, a "two-peat" after last year's appearance. The critical acclaim just keeps on coming!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


It's been a hectic couple of weeks. I'll have some new fun to announce very soon, but in the meantime, two thoughts:

One, I am in awe of daily bloggers who, well, blog daily.

Two, this week's BSG is another good one. Lots of cool sci-fi action and another gut punch ending. It's called THE PASSAGE and was written by freelancer Jane Espensen, of BUFFY renown. There's action, there's triumph and there's tragedy. Check it out!