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Week of February 5, 2001


Who radio pilot not to air after all? Despite high praise from stars Sylvester McCoy and Stephen Fry, the BBC radio pilot story Death Comes To Time, which many fans hoped would be the launch of a new regular Doctor Who radio series, has been turned down by Radio 4. However, while the BBC's own radio division decided to pass on the show, BBC Enterprises is said to be very excited about it, and will most likely release it as part of the BBC Radio Collection's line of Doctor Who "lost episodes" audio CDs. Producer Dan Freedman is also pushing for a BBC Enterprises-backed audio series in webcast form (which would probably reap a profit from subsequent CD sales), but nothing is yet set in stone. Source: Outpost Gallifrey


Killer DVD of the week. Word had it last week, before a hasty denial from Warner Bros., that Tim Burton would mounting a remake of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory - the 1971 big-screen adaptation of story elements from Roald Dahl's celebrated children's books Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator - with shock-rocker Marilyn Manson taking over Gene Wilder's role as the enigmatic candymaker himself. Now, while I've always been a bit of a critic of the 1971 movie version for straying far and wide, in some cases, from its inspiration, I was ready to weep to think about the new version we would have gotten out of that arrangement. As it turns out, there will be a remake, currently set to be directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville), but the studio has categorically denied any involvement by Manson. So for this week's Killer DVD, I bring you Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory, starring the infinitely talented Mr. Gene Wilder. And better yet, I offer you the original books by Roald Dahl. I love 'em. I recommend 'em. And while I'm relieved that Marilyn Manson won't have any part in this revisionist take on the Wonka tale, I'm not sure that there's anyone more ideally suited to play the part than Gene Wilder.

Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (movie)

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie And The Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl


Foster returns to Star Wars novels. The original Star Wars novelist, Alan Dean Foster, is writing a new book set in the years between Episode I and Episode II. No title has been announced, but a publication date of February 2002 has been divulged; Foster's new novel will debut in hardcover. His last Star Wars tome, Splinter Of The Mind's Eye, was the first non-film fiction set in the Star Wars universe (though the later revelations of Luke and Leia's familial relationship made Splinter decidedly non-canon). Source: Lucasfilm Ltd.


Ding dong, Dreamcast is dead. As reported last week as a rumor, Sega is stopping production of the Dreamcast video game system, and is developing a limited number of in-house software titles for the machine. But all new hardware development has been frozen, and Sega will offer tech support for the next six years - and after that, the company will become a software developer for machines manufactured by rivals Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. In the meantime, however, the Dreamcast will become a good deal for some gamers, as Sega is dropping the machine's recommended retail price below the hundred-dollar mark as of February 4th. The SegaNet online gaming service will be supported indefinitely. In the meantime, Sega already has the third-party software routine down to a science: Virtua Fighter 4, Space Channel 5, Sakura Wars and Let's Make A Sports Team will be available this year for the Playstation 2, while Nintendo's new Game Boy Advance system will be graced with portable versions of Sonic The Hedgehog, ChuChu Rocket! and Puyo Puyo. Sega is also planning to develop titles for palm computers and even Motorola cell phones. Further Dreamcast titles are expected this year include Sonic Adventure 2, Crazy Taxi 2 and - do I sense a trend developing here? - Shenmue 2. Sega will, of course, continue their arcade operations (and will likely reap a nice profit from bringing their arcade titles to all of these home video game systems). Source: Sega of America


Farscape PC game in development. Simon & Schuster Interactive and Red Lemon Studios are hard at work on turning the hit Sci-Fi Channel series Farscape into a complex computer game (with a version also said to be in the works for one of the next generation home video game consoles, which probably means Playstation 2). Plans for the game call for players to be able to choose to be any one of the main characters, with different options, equipment and adventures resulting from that decision. The first public demo of the game is set for this May's E3, but no firm release date has been set. Source: Simon & Schuster Interactive


Farewell to FASA. FASA, the makers of such role-playing games as the perennial favorite Battletech, as well as the original Star Trek and Doctor Who RPG systems, is calling it quits this spring. FASA - short for "Fantasimulation Associates" - will license out its more profitable properties, including Battletech, Shadowrun and its famous Ral Partha gaming miniatures to fellow RPG-maker WizKids (which was started up by a former founding father of FASA - try saying that five times fast), the makers of Mage Knight Rebellion. FASA's remaining inventory will be phased out by the end of April. As a company statement on the closure puts it, "When an item is out of stock, it will be gone forever." Source: FASA, Inc.


Ryan/Braga stalker pleads innocent. 22-year-old Marlon Esracio Pagtakhan has entered a not guilty plea in response to his November arrest on eight counts of stalking, threatening letters and attempting extortion. The objects of Pagtakhan's actions - not to mention numerous bizarrely strident Usenet posts - are Star Trek: Voyager actress Jeri Ryan and executive producer Brannon Braga, who are currently a couple and who took out a restraining order against him. Police reports say that Pagtakhan had been stalking both of them for the better part of 2000. He remains in jail, having failed to make a $405,000 bond. Source: Sci-Fi Wire

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