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Steven Spielberg bringing ‘Minority Report’ to television

- August 21st, 2014

Steven Spielberg has dug his own butt groove in TV’s couch and he’s not getting up anytime soon.

After the success (semi-success?) of his science fiction show starring Halle Berry, Extant, Spielberg is on the look out for his next project. If reports are true, he’s apparently already found it in the popular 2002 Tom cruise action flick, Minority Report.

Spielberg has allegedly joined forces with Godzilla writer Max Borenstein to write the television adaptation, The Wrap reported Thursday.

Although representatives for both parties refused to confirm or deny their ties to the show, it appears plot details have already begun to leak.

The weekly drama will focus on the “elite PreCrime unit,” the same task force Cruise was a part of in the original film.

The big question is who Spielberg will tap to play Chief John Anderton, a position previously held by the aforementioned Cruise.

Fans may be hoping Cruise will sign on board Spielberg’s next pet project, and while it’s highly unlikely, this is the man that managed to bring Halle Berry  to CBS.

There’s currently no estimated release date for the series.

Connor Jessup asks: Who’s more difficult, the aliens or the humans, in Falling Skies?

- June 14th, 2013

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As if the surviving humans in Falling Skies didn’t have enough to worry about, another race of aliens shows up for season three.

Three’s a crowd,” said 18-year-old Canadian Connor Jessup, who plays Ben Mason. “So it’s a crowded season.

As if it wasn’t complicated enough for these people. Alien threat grows, it’s sort of redundant.

But even if the aliens disappeared, you still have to deal with humans, and we’re not easy.”

Truer words never were spoken. As the third season of Falling Skies debuts across Canada with back-to-back episodes on Super Channel on Sunday, June 16 (one week after its debut on TNT in the United States), it’s hard to tell who’s more bothersome and problematic, the aliens or the humans.

Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Falling Skies follows the human fight against an occupying alien force that is plaguing the Earth. Noah Wyle stars as Tom Mason, father of Jessup’s character Ben.

It really has grown in scale,” Jessup said. “If you go back and look at the first season, it really was just a story about a small group of people, very insular, fighting against a faceless, nameless enemy that we didn’t understand.

But by the third season it has expanded, more people have joined up, we founded a society, new technology, new aliens, there are faces to villains, names to villains, there’s weird phraseology. It has become deeper in terms of the genre element and the sci-fi element.

The show started out strongly attached to the American Revolution. And in many ways it still is. It’s following the path of, say, Tom as a George Washington figure, whose first concern is purely military, how do we win this? But as victory becomes in sight, the political questions arise. After victory, what kind of world do we build? That theme is entering the show, especially in the third season.”

Jessup’s character Ben, a former captive of the aliens, has become a translator for a group of rebel “skitters,” which is the term used to describe the invaders.

Season two was all about walking this tightrope between alien and human for Ben,” Jessup explained. “There’s a transformation happening. It’s not resolved. He’s changing.

Even though at the end of season two Ben fell more on the human side, it’s an ongoing thing. It’s a hard world for Ben to live in, because now that he’s not alone any more in having these abilities and people are starting to appreciate the contribution we can make, it’s still by no means easy.

Again, it begs the question: After the war, will these things be so easily forgotten? The youthfulness we have now, that people appreciate us for now, when that’s gone what will be left? How will we recover?”

Trying to win the war leads to trying to win the peace. It’s a pattern that has been repeated over and over in human history, and the theme continues in Falling Skies, with aliens thrown into the mix.

The war is not over by any means, but it has entered a different phase,” Jessup said.

Wars unite disparate factions. People who would not normally be allies, it forces them to be friends. But after wars, those things are a lot more difficult.”

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv

The actor did it; new TV special Killing Lincoln stars Billy Campbell, narrated by Tom Hanks

- February 13th, 2013

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Abraham Lincoln is the comeback president of the year.

And now even the National Geographic Channel is leaping on the Lincoln bandwagon.

Killing Lincoln, a two-hour historical drama that debuts Sunday, Feb. 17, is the National Geographic Channel’s first original scripted project. Featuring Tom Hanks as the on-screen narrator, it stars Billy Campbell (pictured above) as the title character and Jesse Johnson as assassin John Wilkes Booth.

The 16th president of the United States is everywhere these days, in no small part because of the Academy Award-nominated film Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

But unlike the movie, Killing Lincoln focuses specifically on the assassination.

We really sort of pick up where the Lincoln film left off,” said Erik Jendresen, the writer and executive producer of Killing Lincoln. “I think of (Steven) Spielberg‘s film as the prequel to Killing Lincoln.

Spielberg’s film really focuses on the 13th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution, which abolished slavery). It’s the story of the victory of Abraham Lincoln.

Ours really is the story of the tragedy, and the irony that, with the ending of the Civil War, the signing of the surrender, and the 13th Amendment passed, Lincoln had a moment – literally maybe 48 hours – in which he was able to shed all the grief and pain and responsibility he had been living with. And it was all taken from him.”

Campbell is a veteran actor who in recent years is best known to TV viewers for his role as Darren Richmond on the AMC series The Killing (apparently he likes shows with that word in them). Campbell was asked if he felt any weight on his shoulders playing Lincoln, especially in light of Lewis’ Academy Award-nominated performance.

I felt almost no weight at all,” Campbell insisted. “The script was so brilliant and so deep in its own way that it was all there on the page.

And I felt really, really safe in the hands of some obviously very passionate people who were passionate about doing this the right way. So I felt nearly no pressure.”

Killing Lincoln actually has a Law & Order feel to it, right down to its own version of classic two-note musical tag. But no real-life murder wraps up as neatly and tidily as a Law & Order episode.

Hanks makes the striking observation that 1,500 theatre patrons were eyewitnesses to the murder of Abraham Lincoln, and yet no two accounts matched. Few even could agree on what Booth shouted after leaping to the stage from Lincoln’s private box.

One of the things that struck me emotionally when I was researching this – and kind of hurt my feelings because I’m a real (American) patriot – is that up until this moment, the White House always was known as the people’s house,” Jendresen said. “It literally was open 24 hours a day. Anybody could walk in to see the president.

The security Lincoln had was solely to get him from one place to the next, not to be there with him. And yet, the threats against Lincoln were numerous. Nothing was ever really done about it.

I don’t think anybody could conceive this would happen. Subsequently, of course, it began a trend. It’s as if we invented something in this country.”

Comebacks aside, some things are better left uninvented.

bill.harris@sunmedia.ca

@billharris_tv