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Genre News: Firefly to Buffy, I Robot, Tom Welling, O'Connell as Superman, Matrix Sequels, Willard and More!
Firefly's Nathan Fillion Joins Buffy Cast

Hollywood March 10, 2003 (Variety) - Nathan Fillion is joining the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" taking on a key role in the final five episodes of the about-to-wrap series.

Fillion, who most recently starred in "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon's short-lived Fox television drama "Firefly," will play Caleb, a former man of God who's turned to the dark side and now follows a "Buffy" baddie known as the First.

Fillion's first segment airs next month.

Nathan's jump to Buffy follows Firefly cast mate Gina Torres' trip to Angel, which we reported here.

Buffy - http://www.buffy.com 

Firefly's Tudyk Will Be I, Robot
By Chris Gardner

Hollywood March 07, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - Alan Tudyk (Firefly's pilot Wash) is ready to follow in the footsteps of Andy Serkis and the CGI creation Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."

Tudyk has been cast as the animation reference for the CGI character Sonny opposite Will Smith in the sci-fi actioner "I, Robot" for 20th Century Fox and director Alex Proyas. Shooting is to begin in May on the project, being produced by Laurence Mark and John Davis, with Wyck Godfrey and Topher Dow executive producing.

The project, inspired by the classic story collection by Isaac Asimov, is a futuristic thriller in which a detective (Smith) investigates a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot (Tudyk), even though the three prevailing laws of the robot society suggest that such a crime is impossible. 

Yahoo Movies' I, Robot site - http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hp&cf=prev&id=1808461628 

[Read the Asimov I, Robot stories to be ahead of the game on this flick, due in 2004. Ed.]

Connery Hopes for Scottish Independence

UK March 9, 2003 (BBC) - Sean Connery has sworn not to return to live in his native Scotland until the country is independent. The 72-year-old movie star also told The Herald newspaper that he believed the country would gain independence within his lifetime. 

"I honestly believe Scotland will become independent and I will have a house in Scotland - but not until then," he said. "If I do retire, and I have no idea if I will retire or not, then I'd certainly spend much more time there." 

Connery also said he could not return to his home city of Edinburgh at present because of media intrusion. 

"I couldn't live in Scotland just now with what they would do to me, the media and all that, the tabloids. They crucify people." 

The interview followed revelations that the movie legend had helped bankroll the Scottish National Party in the 1990s. He said he had put £750,000 in an offshore account in Jersey in 1995, and donated the £5,000 monthly interest to the party. He also said he had paid more than £3.7m in tax to Britain in the last six years, despite living in the Bahamas. 

Connery spends much of his time in Marbella, Spain.

Christopher Walken, Glenn Close in Stepford

NEW YORK March 10, 2003 (Variety) - Oscar-nominated "Catch Me if You Can" star Christopher Walken and actress Glenn Close are in talks to join the Frank Oz-directed remake of "The Stepford Wives," and Paramount is also wooing country songstress Faith Hill to play a role in the film.

Walken and Close are eyed to play the municipal leaders of Stepford, and one of them might be behind the campaign to transform the dissident townsfolk into robotized perfect mates.

Tom Welling Makes Feature Debut 
By Chris Gardner

Hollywood March 10, 2003 (Hollywood Reporter) - "Smallville" star Tom Welling and "Agent Cody Banks" topliner Hilary Duff are joining Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt's family in the Shawn Levy-directed "Cheaper by the Dozen" for 20th Century Fox and producer Robert Simonds.

Welling, making his feature film acting debut, is in negotiations to play the family's oldest son, and Duff has closed a deal to play one of the daughters in a role written specifically for her. Shooting on the film begins March 31.

"Dozen" is a contemporary redo of the 1950 feature comedy about the Gilbreth family and its often-amusing struggle to keep it all together with a brood of 12 children.

Welling will shoot the film while on hiatus from his duties as Superman on the WB series, one of that network's top-rated shows. Duff will begin work in late April before segueing to the recently set up "Cinderella Story" for Warner Bros. Pictures.

The original "Cheaper" is based on a book by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey; Sam Harper has penned the update. 

Before "Smallville," Welling had a recurring role on CBS' "Judging Amy."

Hilary Duff next appears in MGM's "Banks" opposite Frankie Muniz.

Jerry O'Connell as Superman? 

Hollywood March 7, 2003 (Sci Fi Wire) - Former Sliders star Jerry O'Connell confirmed for E! Online that he's up for the lead role in the upcoming Superman movie.

"Yeah, I'm definitely right in there," O'Connell told the site. "There is some stiff competition, but I guarantee you I can do more push-ups than all those other guys."

O'Connell reportedly screen-tested for the role of the Man of Steel. The site added that Superman director Brett Ratner served as O'Connell's senior advisor when he was a freshman at New York University.

"There are guys in front of me that have nominations," O'Connell added. "The only thing I've been nominated for is best attendance for physical education in junior high. Whether it happens or not, I'm in this business for the long haul. I know for a fact that I look good in blue Spandex. If it doesn't happen, Space Ghost is always an option."

Meanwhile, the New York Post reported that former Felicity star Keri Russell is in the running to play Lois Lane, according to a report on TV Guide Online.

Bellucci Keeps Mum About 'Matrix' Sequels

LOS ANGELES March 10, 2003 - Monica Bellucci is saying little about the "Matrix" sequels. The only thing the actress will reveal about "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix: Revolutions" is her character's name: Persephone. 

"(She's) dangerous, sensual, with some sense of humor," she told AP Radio. "I have another way to be dangerous ... but you'll see in the movie." 

In Greek mythology, Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter who's kidnapped by Hades to be his wife in the lower world.

Bellucci says there's more acting than action on her part — she doesn't get to walk on the walls like Keanu Reeves. As for her latest film, "Tears of the Sun," she got to work with another action star: Bruce Willis.

According to Bellucci, Willis was a big help when it came time to shoot her close-up. 

"He cried for me, to give me the emotion. He did it for every take," she said. "It was purely professional." 

Such professionalism also came in handy in filming the action scenes.

"In the middle of the jungle, with all the things going on, I was scared because it can be dangerous for us, too," Bellucci said. "It's an action movie — it's always difficult and dangerous to do an action movie. Anything can happen." 

The "Matrix" sequels are set to be released later this year. "Tears of the Sun" is in theaters now. 

The "Matrix" Sequels Web Site: http://whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com 

"Tears of the Sun" Web Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/tearsofthesun 

Violent TV Leads to Aggression?

WASHINGTON March 10, 2003 (Reuters) - Children who watch violent television shows, identify with the characters and believe they are realistic are more likely to be aggressive as adults, U.S. researchers reported on Monday. 

But the researchers found the most violent shows did not have the strongest effects, the shows children liked the best did.

These included shows that by today's standards would not be considered especially violent. 

But if parents watch television with their children and discuss the differences with reality, they may be able to temper the effects of TV violence, the team of psychologists said. 

They interviewed Chicago-area children aged 6 to 10, their teachers and parents, and analyzed their television viewing habits. 

They waited for 329 of them to grow up and marry, then interviewed them again, talked to their spouses and checked criminal records. 

Fifteen years later, the men and women who had most watched, enjoyed and identified with violent television programs tended to be more aggressive, the team reported in this week's issue of the journal Developmental Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association. 

The findings were the same even when a child's economic status, race, parents' personalities and occupations and other factors were taken into account. 

Psychologists Rowell Huesmann and colleagues at the University of Michigan caught up with children first interviewed in 1977 about which violent TV shows they watched. 

Some of the "violent" programs included "Starsky and Hutch," "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "Roadrunner" cartoons. 

Men who really liked such television shows as children were much more likely to have pushed, grabbed or shoved their spouses, shoved someone who insulted them, been ticketed for speeding or convicted of another crime.

Women who enjoyed violent shows, including "Charlie's Angels," were four times more likely to have thrown something at their husbands, shoved or punched someone else, or been caught speeding or committing another crime. 

The researchers did not believe that children predisposed to aggression or violence tended to watch such shows. 

"It is more plausible that exposure to TV violence increases aggression than that aggression increases TV-violence viewing," Huesmann said in a statement. 

"Also, the study suggests that being aggressive in early childhood has no effect on increasing males' exposure to media violence as adults and only a small effect for females." 

The researchers were especially struck by their finding that it is a child's identification with characters rather than the degree of violence that predicts later aggression. 

"Violent scenes that children are most likely to model their behavior after are ones in which they identify with the perpetrator of the violence, the perpetrator is rewarded for the violence and in which children perceive the scene as telling about life like it really is," they wrote. 

"Thus, a violent act by someone like Dirty Harry that results in a criminal being eliminated and brings glory to Harry is of more concern than a bloodier murder by a despicable criminal who is brought to justice."

[Decided to repeat the Willard article this week because it was a little premature. Willard opens violently this week. Ed.]

Willard the Ratman!
By FLAtRich

Hollywood March 4, 2003 (eXoNews) - Willard is back! Directed and scripted for New Line Cinema by Glen Morgan and produced by his longtime partner James Wong, Willard is a remake of the 1971 horror movie based on a much scarier novel (scared the hell out of me, anyway) entitled Ratman's Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert.

Crispin Glover and Laura Elena Harring play the lead humans in the new Willard and over 500 rodents have featured roles, along with technologically improved robots and CGI rats.

Crispin Glover is forever immortalized as Michael Fox's dad George Douglas McFly in the Back To The Future film series. Crispin has also done a lot of excellent character parts in favorite cult films like Nurse Betty (2000), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993), and the incredibly underrated John Boorman comedy, Where the Heart Is (1990). Glover also played a convincing Andy Warhol in Oliver Stone's The Doors (1991).

Laura Elena Harring is best known as Rita/Camilla from David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001), for which she won the 2002 ALMA Award as Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture and Lynch won Best Director at Cannes and scores of other statues and nominations.

Remembering the original book, Crispin is indeed perfect for the role of the socially outcast Willard Stiles.

Director Morgan says on the Willard website that he signed Glover to the part because when Morgan was casting "an agent told an executive at New Line 'Oh, my God, if Crispin Glover plays Willard I want to see that movie 75 times and I still won't be satisfied.'"

Working with over 500 live rats was unnerving for some of the actors, but they got over it. Glover says that he considered his rodent co-stars "acting partners, they really were."

Glen Morgan and James Wong worked together on The X-Files and MillenniuM as writers and Executive Producers. They also co-created and wrote the 1995 Fox TV series Space: Above and Beyond, the lesser know but excellent NBC series The Others (2000), and the film Final Destination in 2000.

Morgan wanted to evoke Alfred Hitchcock for the new Willard, and Director of Photography Rob McLachlan, who worked with Morgan and Wong on MillenniuM, planned the film in that spirit.

"How we used the cameras was very much influenced by Hitchcock," McLachlan says on the film website. "Slow camera moves, slow dollies into closed doors, and camera moves that aren't always perfectly smooth and steady but that sometimes stop and start abruptly during the same shot."

The Willard script also pays homage to the Morgan and Wong years with Chris Carter. The film is reportedly full of inside jokes and innuendoes to keep fans busy, including a cat named Scully.

Music is by maestro Shirley Walker, who also did the score for Morgan and Wong's Fox series Space: Above and Beyond, The Others, and the popular animated series Batman Beyond.

Ultimate trivia notes: Ratman's Notebooks author Stephen Gilbert was a pseudonym for Gilbert Ralston, a TV writer (Land of The Giants and Wild, Wild West) who started his TV career in the 1950s on The Naked City and The Untouchables.

Ralson wrote the screenplay for the original Willard feature and the less satisfying 1972 sequel, Ben.

Morgan and Wong created the X-Files characters Byers, Frohike and Langley, also known as The Lone Gunmen, although Morgan and Wong left the Chris Carter fold before the short-lived Lone Gunmen series appeared on Fox in 2001.

They based The Lone Gunmen on a trio they observed at a California UFO convention.

MillenniuM fans will remember Morgan and Wong among the prime movers behind the rather complex season two of MillenniuM. In defining the two warring factions of the Millennium Group ("Owls" and "Roosters") James Wong said that one of the factions predicted the end of the world in 2060.

Recent news seems to confirm that Sir Isaac Newton agreed with that date

Wong also wrote the season two MillenniuM finale, "The Time is Now", where Frank Black's wife killed herself and the world was left in the midst of a biological weapons holocaust to the strains of Patti Smith's song "Horses". Morgan and Wong did not return to MillenniuM, but writers Chip Johannessen and Michael Duggan managed to bring Frank and the MillenniuM universe back to life in the third season opening.

Willard creeps into a theater near you on March 14th. Bring cheese.

Official Willard site - http://www.willardmovie.com 

Glen Morgan & James Wong will do a Sci Fi Channel chat on March 12 at 8 pm ET, 5 pm PT - http://www.scifi.com/chat

Unofficial Morgan and Wong site - http://www.morganandwongonline.com 

fLAtDiSk's MillenniuM fan site - http://flatdisk.net/millennium

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