This month the Disney Channel renewed is highly rated children’s animated series Phineas and Ferb for a fourth season. The pickup guarantees new episodes of the musically-inclined adventure series through the year 2014. I’m a sucker for kid’s programming that likes to acknowledge an older audience, so this is really great news. Though series creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh recently pushed out a made-for-TV Phineas and Ferb movie titled Across the 2nd Dimension, the ingenious duo are ready for an entirely new level of popularity. In August they signed a multi-year, multimillion-dollar deal with Disney Television Animation to develop a feature film based on the show. They are currently writing the script. Rumor has it that the movie will be a mix of live action and the animation viewers are used to. More on this as details surface. In addition to the movie attachment, the Disney deal also has Povenmire and Swampy imagining a new animated show for the Disney Channel, likely a spin-off series based in the Phineas and Ferb universe. According to a NYT article, it will follow the adventures of Isabella and the Fireside Girls. No word on when such a series will make it to air. Expect the movie to hit theatres summer 2013. Celebrate the news with some “Gitchee Gitchee Goo” as perfomed by Phineas and the Ferb-Tones featuring Candace after the break!
Big, big news for fans of The Dark Tower. Deadline reports that Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment have been granted the rights to the enormously epic Stephen King book series (there are seven in total). It is going to be adapted for the big and small screen with director Ron Howard at the helm. He will be joined by his A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code cohorts Akiva Goldsman (writer, Fringe) and Brian Grazer (producer, 24, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development).
The unprecedented plan to adapt The Dark Tower to the screen has me choked up in excitement. A feature film will introduce the characters and universe to viewers. A TV series will follow the first movie and act as a bridge to the second movie. Next the sequel will hit theatres, then a second season will air on TV. Instead of acting as a bridge to the final movie in the trilogy, season 2 will focus on the backstory of a young Deschain (the main character). The last movie will pick up where the sequel left off, following a mature Deshain completing his journey. Whoever is going to play Deshain (rumor has it it’ll be a big name star) will be required to carry on his role in both the feature films and the TV series. Deadline points out that by using the same sets, cast, and crew on the movies and TV series the production team will contain costs on what promises to be an expensive undertaking. It’s been confirmed that Howard will direct and Goldsman will scribe the first feature film and TV season. Goldsman, Grazer, and King will serve as producers.
King originally approached JJ Abrams and Lost executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse with the idea of adapting The Dark Tower for the screen. According to Deadline they “never cracked the sprawling plotline and all the characters”, so Goldsman wasted no time contacting his partner-in-crime Howard with the notion of helming the project. Howard recalls Goldsman’s pitch: “Akiva said, ‘Stephen will not let go of it, but it’s like nothing else you’ve ever read.” Howard continued, “It was frustrating because it’s one of those works where you read it, and then at odd times, the imagery and sensations just pop up in your mind. This is going to be an amazing life experience for us, trying to do justice to the story and the universe.”
Howard shared with Deadline his thoughts on how his approach with adapting The Dark Tower compares to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Ring series: “What Peter did was a feat, cinematic history. The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.”
King also commented on today’s news: “I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world. Ron, Akiva, Brian along with Universal and NBC have a deep interest and passion for the The Dark Tower series and I know that will translate into an intriguing series of films and TV shows that respect the origins and the characters in The Dark Tower that fans have come to love.”
A shooting schedule has not been mapped out yet, but you can be damn sure I’m keeping my hear to the ground and will report back any and all information regarding the plans moving forward for The Dark Tower adaptation. For a major studio to sign on and agree to telling a story on two vastly different platforms is a rare, unprecedented feat. With Howard, Goldsman, and Grazer on board, I have no doubt the upcoming epic will impress.
Update: Stephen King sat down for an exclusive interview with EW and shared more thoughts on the project. Look after the break for the goods.