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Spider-MIB sighted

By Editor T. Rob Brown
Online (Feb. 24, 2006) -- It's official -- movie Spider-Man is now an MIB.

According to the official Spider-Man 3 movie website at SonyPictures.com, the webhead will be wearing black in the third installment of Sam Raimi's movie series based on Marvel Comics' famed wall-crawler.

In leiu of singing the Will Smith Men in Black theme song, he might decide to choose Back in Black by AC/DC.

Previously, Sony released a photo (see below) on Oct. 5, 2005, of one of the villains who has a striking resemblance to Sandman from the comics (Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko -- aka Sandman).

"In addition to the on-going relationship between Peter Parker and M.J., these films are driven by the great actors who have brought our villains to life," Raimi told Sony Pictures' website. "Thomas Haden Church will be a fantastic and challenging new nemesis and we all look forward to working with him."

Keeping in mind the addition of the black costume, this leads us to the questions: Will Venom be the other villain? Is the addition of the black costume only a precursor to Venom becoming the key villain for Spider-Man 4? Every avid Spider-Man fan out there knows Venom is a strong enough supervillain to be a one-villain movie, just as were the Green Goblin and Dr. Octopus.

Photo Credit: Merie Wallace for Sony Pictures

Another key cast member, Topher Grace (most famous for That '70s Show), was announced back on May 19, 2005, for Spider-Man 3, by director Sam Raimi and producers Laura Ziskin and Marvel Studio's Avi Arad. Grace joins Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, and Thomas Haden Church in the blockbuster franchise.

"Spider-Man will face double the trouble in our next film and I couldn't be more excited about the direction we are taking Peter Parker and the franchise," Raimi said. "Topher Grace is an extraordinarily-talented actor and will be perfect for the complexities of the role we are developing."

If the rumor mill is correct, Grace will be playing Eddie Brock, who becomes Venom. Even if you don't believe the rumors, Kirsten Dunst, who plays Mary Jane, accidentally let it slip in a media interview that Church and Grace were playing Sandman and Venom. Reportedly, Dunst had not seen the movie's script at that time.

Given all the cameos or tie-ins to the comics, it can be difficult to guess just which supervillains will pop up and when in Sam Raimey's rendition. One thing money can probably safely bet on is that Bruce Campbell will return for a third Spider-Man cameo.

In the past two movies, brief cameos or references were made to Eddie Brock (the Daily Bugle reporter who becomes Venom and who hates photojournalist Peter Parker/Spider-Man for getting him fired from the newspaper), Dr. Conners (who becomes the Lizard), J. Jonah Jameson's son (who becomes the Man-Wolf due to a moon rock that grafts itself to his skin -- and in some versions of the story, brings the alien symbiote -- aka the black costume and aka later as Venom -- down from outerspace), and countless others.

In the comics, Spider-Man was forced to rip the moon rock from Man-Wolf's throat, accidentally killing J. Jonah Jameson's son in the process. For this deed, Jameson was never able to forgive the web-slinger and went on to hire thugs to kill Spider-Man, and even went so far as to create the Scorpion to help fulfill his want for revenge. Will the movies follow the plot of the comics? Perhaps or perhaps only loosely. Marvel has been known to re-write its own storylines, as do many other comic companies, to conform to changes in society and technology.

At this point, only Sam Raimey knows. One thing's for sure: Tobey Maguire returns as Peter Parker / Spider-Man in Spider-Man 3, in movie theaters May 4, 2007.

The Spider-Man film franchise has grossed more than $1.5 billion in worldwide ticket sales to date. Production on Spider-Man 3, which was written by Alvin Sargent, was scheduled to begin early 2006.

For the official photo: http://spiderman.sonypictures.com/

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Galactica Season 2 finale expanded

Photo Credit: Sci-Fi Channel

Online (Feb. 23, 2006) Fans of the Sci-Fi Channel hit show Battlestar Galactica are in for a treat as the Season 2 finale will be shown as an expanded episode.

The Sci-Fi Channel original series, which began with a highly-acclaimed mini series and is now nearly at the end of Season 2, will air a special expanded episode starting at 9 p.m. Central Time (GMT-6) Friday, March 10, 2006, following the season finales of the channel's other hit original series, Stargate SG-1 at 7 p.m. Central and Stargate Atlantis at 8 p.m. Central.

Reports SciFi.com, the official Sci-Fi Channel website: "In the expanded finale cliffhanger, the outcome of the presidential campaign hinges upon a core debate: Whether or not to abandon the search for Earth when the Galactica crew discovers a habitable planet. When the election begins to swing in favor of Baltar (James Callis), a man whom Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) is convinced is a Cylon collaborator, the incumbent president must decide whether or not to take drastic measures for the greater good."

Battlestar Galactica will resume in October with Season 3 while both Stargate programs will resume in June for Season 10 of Stargate SG-1 and Season 3 of Stargate Atlantis.

In gaming-related news, Battlestar Galactica will be turned into a collector card game (CCG) in the near future by the same folks who brought us the Pirates of the Spanish Main and Rocketman construction card games.

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'Man of Steel' curse true?
San Francisco, Calif. (Feb. 23, 2006) While some believe black cats can bring you bad luck if they cross your path, others believe breaking a mirror can bring you seven years of bad luck, still others believe spilling salt is unlucky -- but could being associated with the Superman franchise bring bad luck?

There are some who believe in the so-called "curse of Superman," rumored to have developed because of the mishaps that have befallen people involved in the "Man of Steel" productions, notably the death of original TV Superman George Reeves and the disabling accident of Superman film star Christopher Reeve.

Perhaps yet another piece of evidence in favor of the curse has arisen. Robert Meyer Burnett, one of the crew members on Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, told SCI FI Wire that he was mugged in Sydney last year during the movie's production, but disagrees that it is part of the curse. Burnett, who directed Singer's online production blogs and will produce the forthcoming Superman Returns Special Edition DVD, was mugged while leaving a Sydney bar, he said in an interview at WonderCon in San Francisco.

"I was mugged coming back from a club called Club 77, where I had gone with [Superman Returns star] Kate Bosworth, her assistant Jackie and a bunch of crew members," Burnett said. "And I was talking to my wife on the phone as I was leaving the club, which was about three blocks from where I lived, and four guys jumped me and they beat the $#!+ out of me. ... And my phone was on still and Yelena, my wife, had to hear the whole thing from over the phone."

Police eventually caught the assailants who cracked three of Burnett's ribs in the attack. (Burnett is also known as the writer and director of the Star Trek-themed independent movie Free Enterprise.)

"I don't think there's a Superman curse, I really don't," Burnett said. "But I think that in Australia, which is a hard-drinking, hard-partying kind of [place], sometime you have to just not walk by yourself places. By the way, I love Australia. Love it. I had a great time."

Unfortunately, the Burnett incident was not the only problem related to Singer's production. One member of Burnett's crew fell down a flight of concrete steps while another crew member went through a glass window and punctured his lung. "They're all fine," Singer said in a separate interview at WonderCon. "They all recovered. ... I always joke that the DVD crew [bore] the brunt of the curse, so that we don't have to, hopefully."

Despite his humor, Singer downplayed talk of a curse. "No, I think they're just referring to the tragedy of George Reeves' suicide and Christopher Reeve's accident," he said. "I think that's what people are really talking about. And I think there are other movies that have had a lot more deaths surrounding them than Superman."

Superman Returns opens June 30 at movie theaters.

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Lung cancer ends Babylon 5's Katsulas

Los Angeles, Calif. (Feb. 21, 2006) Best know to sci-fi aficianados as G'Kar on Babylon 5, character actor Andreas Katsulas died Feb. 13, 2006, of lung cancer in Los Angeles, according to a report by SCI FI Wire as confirmed by Katsulas' agent, Donna Massetti. He was 59.

G'Kar, the Narn ambassador who underwent major character changes throughout the Babylon 5 series, was a fan favorite for the cult TV series' five-year run that started in 1993. In addition to that role, Katsula also held his place in the Star Trek franchise as well as on other sci-fi shows. He played Romulan Cmdr. Tomalak in Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well as a Vissian captain on the now-cancelled Enterprise. He also reprised the role of G'Kar on Babylon 5 telefilms during, and following, the series.

Originally a MidWesterner, born in St. Louis, Katsulas held a master's degree in theater from Indiana University, according to his official website. Following a string of play performances in St. Louis, New York and Boston, he went on to film roles including: Michael Cimino's The Sicilian, which brought him to Los Angeles, then in Ridley Scott's Someone to Watch Over Me and Blake Edward's Sunset.

Katsulas moved to Los Angeles permanently in 1986 and found scores of TV and film parts in everything from TV's Alien Nation and Max Headroom to the big screen's The Fugitive, in which he played the infamous one-armed man, and Executive Decision opposite Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal.

In the world of gaming, his characters have appeared in collector card games, role-playing games and board games including: Star Trek Collector Card Game (CCG), Babylon 5 CCG, Babylon 5 Role-playing Game (d20), and Babylon 5 board games.

For many sci-fi fans of Babylon 5, Star Trek, and more -- he will be missed.

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[Editor's Note: Edits for grammar, punctuation, artifacts, and syntax made to press releases by GamingNews Editor T. Rob Brown, http://t-rob.com]

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