A chat with Gale Anne Hurd, producer of “The Walking Dead”

Gale Anne Hurd, producer of There aren’t many producers around these days whose name can help sell a movie or TV show, but Gale Anne Hurd is the rare exception. Probably best known as one of the co-creators of “The Terminator” franchise, Hurd has been an important player in numerous mega- or merely major productions, including both “Hulk” and “The Incredible Hulk,” “The Abyss,” “Armageddon,” “The Punisher,” and the underrated 1999 comedy “Dick,” which starred Dan Hedaya as Richard Milhous Nixon and a young Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams as a couple of teenagers who wind up bringing down a presidency.

Clearly one of the more hands-on producers around, Hurd is pleasant and businesslike when talking to a member of the show-biz press, but clearly has the gumption to deal with the biggest and most difficult of personalities, which is how I segue into the obligatory mention of the fact that she spent the part of the late eighties and early nineties being married to first James Cameron and then Brian De Palma. Moreover, she began her career working for one the most fascinating and effective producers in the history of the medium, Roger Corman, but more of that in the interview.

Still, nothing she’s done is quite like her current project, the zombie horror drama and comic book adaptation, “The Walking Dead.” The AMC television series, adapted from a series of acclaimed comics by Robert Kirkman primarily by writer-director Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption,” “The Green Mile,” “The Mist”) is currently receiving maximum exposure on the web. The publicity train was only just getting started when I spoke to Ms. Hurd at a mammoth new San Diego hotel adjacent to the Comic-Con festivities last summer.

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I had typed my questions on my laptop, which I was afraid might be a little off-putting. So, after a quick greeting, I tried to explain why.

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The un-terminatable “Terminator”

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Time constraints are forcing a short post today — and are also dictating that my movie preview will be delayed to (relatively) early tomorrow. Nevertheless, I will point out that Mike Fleming of Deadline|Hollywood is really on fire today with several noteworthy items.

I however, only have time for one. It’s that the self-described Terminator fanboy has seen a treatment for some new Terminator scripts by screenwriter William Wisher, whose been involved in the franchise since it’s inception. Fleming is quite high on it. What’s interesting here is that it’s not a reboot but seems to continue the ongoing saga and even has roles for such original “Terminator” actors as Linda Hamilton and a certain annoying governor of a very large state where I live. (How Wisher plans to explain how a robot can look several decades older should be interesting to see.)

I’m pro-Terminator but not a huge fanboy for the franchise, myself.  I liked the first two films quite a bit but never got around to seeing the last two. I also have limited patience with time travel stories that never seem completely logical to me. (I expected Eddie Furlong to disappear after the climax of “T-2.” Don’t ask me why now!) Still, you gotta admire the ambition, and I’d love to hear what any really big T-fans have to say about this.

  

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A geeky movie Tuesday

Little time but some big news today in the geekier realms of moviedom (which is pretty much all of big moviedom these days, or so it seems at times).

* The dynamic duo of Finke and Fleming have broken the news that “Dark Knight” helmer Christopher Nolan will be leading — though probably not directing — a new Superman reboot that will definitely not follow on the (in my view) somewhat underrated Bryan Singer/Brandon Routh semi-sequel to the Richard Donner/Richard Lester films of the seventies. I’m sure me and half of everyone reading could probably write a novel length essay about this. From my end, at least, that’ll have to wait.

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* The apocalyptic battle over the rights to “The Terminator” winds on. Last night, Nikki Finke claimed the exclusive that something called Pacifore had purchased the rights for $29.5 million. Today, since Pacificore is a Santa Barbara-based hedge fund with presumably no knowledge of how to make a blockbuster franchise film, they are today reportedly in negotiations with the former bidding adversaries, Sony and Lionsgate as to actually making new Terminator films. Ben Fritz of the L.A. Times Company Town blog has the details. Apparently, if the negotiations don’t go well, legal action may be in the cards. Gotta love show business.

* And a fun casting story to top everything off. Did I ever tell you people I actually know people who’ve actually been on UCLA stages with Tim Robbins back in the day? It’s really true. Well, I just got a few degrees of separation closer to the “Green Lantern” movie since the very talented writer-director-actor-dramaturg and Sarandon-ex (<sigh>) has joined the cast of “Green Lantern” where he’ll be playing the Peter Saarsgard’s dad. Heat Vision has the scoop.

  

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Friday night movie news dump

Because I will it to be so…

* It’s getting mighty meta here. Via Anne Thompson, will show biz blogger/reporter Nikki Finke be in any position to sue HBO over their series about a presumably fictional entertainment blogger/reporter with a “no-holds-barred” attitude? asks THR, esq. She’s apparently already threatened to sue the Gawker. And here’s a quote for you:

So we were delighted when she acknowledged, fully aware that she would be quoted, that in our last off the record conversation she threatened to sue your blogger personally and Gawker corporately for “unfair business practices” related to our coverage of her. When we explained that the lawsuit threat was the reason we refused to speak off the record, she said, “How do you know I won’t? I’d love to own your house and your kids.”

Nikki Finke owning another blogger’s kids? Now there’s a Dickensian tale for you.

And that’s just the beginning of tonight’s useless blogging.

* Another superhero reboot. This time, it’s “Daredevil.” While writer David Scarpa’s resume doesn’t inspire great confidence, it shouldn’t be too hard to top the last attempt.

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* The Weinstein Company has picked up “The Tillman Story,” which is likely to be one of the year’s hotter documentaries.

* Sony has entered the bidding for the “The Terminator” franchise. Joss Whedon’s attempt at snapping up the franchise looking less likely every day. <Sigh>

* Speaking of Mr. Whedon, from time to time someone among his fans suggests some kind of fan donation and/or investment set-up to fund those ongoing “Buffy” or “Firefly” related projects they so crave. The idea is routinely shoot down as unrealistic. Kevin Smith works on a somewhat smaller canvas, but it’s interesting to see him apparently taking the idea seriously.

* James Cameron will presumably be betting against himself in Oscar pools.

* Many reasons to be slightly bummed that I decided not to take the SXSW plunge this year.

* One more Deadline|Hollywood item for the week from Mike “the sane one” Fleming. It’s about the movie moguls taking chances on less well-known directors (as if they aren’t always taking chances regardless, even if they’re trying not to), but all I can get my head around tonight is the idea of remaking “Damn Yankees” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jim Carrey. I’m not Carrey’s biggest fan, but that could actually work. As for the part of the lovable Satanic temptress, Lola, I’m sure there are many great possibilities, but there’s one actress whose proven she’s got the stuff for Fosse-esque choreography.

  

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(500) days of Spidey news?; all together now in the uncanny valley…and a whole lot more

Yes, we ‘ve got movie news…

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* Nikki Finke’s new best friend, Mike Fleming (or someone, it’s written in the third person), writes tonight that director Marc Webb of the very popular indie relationship comedy, “(500) Days of Summer” is right now the most likely director for the just announced “Spiderman” reboot.  Fleming, or whomever, writes that  Webb has “no superhero experience,” which is not really the issue. The issue is that, while he’s quite capable of making an okay indie comedy (I’m not the movie’s biggest fan), he has no action experience and Sam Raimi had obviously quite a bit before attempting “Spiderman.” Still, the choice of Webb wouldn’t be half so strange as another one mentioned by Fleming (or whomever) apparently in all seriousness: Wes Anderson.

I wish we lived in a universe where studio executives would be so weirdly brave. And, hey, if Anderson’s not available, they could try David Lynch. I don’t know about the masses, but I’d definitely pay to see either movie.

Fleming (or whomever), however, is absolutely correct that, if he were just a bit younger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be the guy to play the new Peter Parker. Oh, well.

* Fleming also has it that Daniel Craig is “in talks” to replace a vacating Robert Downey, Jr. on the comic book adaptation, “Cowboys and Aliens.” Interesting transition. Downey seems more alien than cowboy; Craig is definitely more cowboy than alien.

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