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donderdag 7 februari 2013

New Thunderbirds series pushes ahead

Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds are set for a 2015 return to ITV, courtesy of The Lord Of The Rings' Weta workshop...

Almost two years ago to the day, we first heard talk of Gerry Anderson's plan to revive Thunderbirds for ITV, and now comes confirmation that the project is pushing ahead. Six weeks after Anderson passed away, ITV has officially announced pre-production on Thunderbirds Are Go! (a working title, but a good'un).

Anderson's promise that the revival would use "all mod-cons" is being kept to, thanks to the involvement of New Zealand's Weta Workshop, which is to collaborate with ITV Studios to produce the twenty-six-episode series. The Tracy brothers will be brought back to life using a combination of live-action models and CGI animation, in an alternative to the CGI and motion-capture techniques used to produce New Captain Scarlet. So that'll be super-hyper-marionation then?

ITV's Thunderbirds Are Go! press release has plenty of respectful references to retaining heritage and paying tribute to legacy while bringing the much-loved property to a new audience (of toy-buying tweens and nostalgic adults).

Just as long as the new take is miles from the 2004 live-action film, we'll be happy to see its return.

Is HBO planning a Game Of Thrones prequel?

HBO has signed a two-year deal with Game Of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, sparking rumours that a prequel is under consideration...

A Song of Ice and Fire creator George R.R. Martin has recently signed with HBO for a further two years, news that cements the idea of there being no end in sight for the network's superb adaptation.

With the forthcoming season three covering events from the first half of A Storm of Swords (the third book in Martin's planned seven-novel series), there's plenty of scope for seasons four, five, six, seven and beyond, should HBO choose to make them. Good news, we're sure you'll agree.

What's of interest about Martin's recent deal with HBO though, is its explicit reference to his developing and producing "new series projects for the network". Not a continuation mind, but new projects.

One project that Martin's manager Vince Geradis has confirmed was raised in past discussions but shelved for a couple of years at least, is an adaptation of Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire prequel novellas: Tales of Dunk and Egg. Set in Westeros ninety years before the events of the main saga, the series follows the exploits of Ser Duncan and Aegon Targaryen.

With up to twelve Dunk and Egg novellas promised by Martin, any potential adaptation could be as long-running as Game of Thrones.

Of course, HBO and Martin may well have non-Westeros projects in mind, and with his previous experience on geek-favourites The Twilight Zone and the original Beauty and the Beast, we'd bet that anything stemming from a collaboration of his imagination and HBO's production values will be worth getting excited about.

Theo Paphitis to leave 'Dragons' Den': "Thank you Auntie, I'm out"

Theo Paphitis has confirmed that he is leaving Dragons' Den.

The entrepreneur, investor and former chairman of Millwall Football Club is leaving to spend more time working on his retail chains, including recent acquisition Robert Dyas.

"After nine intense and fun packed series working with the BBC and the Dragons' Den team, sadly it's time for me to say for the final time, 'I am out'," said Paphitis in a statement issued on Thursday morning (February 7).

"This has not been an easy decision or one that I have taken lightly, but with the workload involved in growing my exciting, successful new lingerie brand Boux Avenue both in the UK and internationally, along with my recent purchase of the Robert Dyas retail chain and the running of the 240 Ryman stationery shops, the time felt right to give up my seat, stop breathing fire and allow someone else to enjoy the wonderful experience of being a Dragon on the BBC hit TV show, Dragons' Den.

"So, it just leaves it for me to say thank you to all past and present Dragons, the brilliant production teams that made the show what it is and of course the BBC for allowing me to participate in the first place.

"Thank you Auntie. I am out. P.S: A big 'good luck' to the new Dragons!"

Paphitis has been with the BBC Manchester-produced show since its second series launched in November 2005.

His departure leaves Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne as the longest-standing Dragons, and the only two to have served on all ten series of the show.

The news appears to have come as a surprise to Bannatyne, who tweeted: "Theo I don't believe you are leaving & have not told me. Ten yrs together & u divorce me on Twitter!!!!"

Hilary Devey also left the show recently after two series. Her replacement has not yet been announced.

'CSI' Creator Anthony Zuiker Lands Murder Reality Series With ABC

Anthony Zuiker is about to get real.

The "CSI" creator has landed a nine-episode order at ABC for his maiden journey into unscripted television, a murder-themed offering called "Whodunnit?"

The series will feature contestants using crime scene investigation techniques to find out who among them is a killer, with a $250,000 prize at stake. As with other reality series such as "Survivor," alliances will be formed. The players will receive a new murder to solve every week, with players meeting their demise if they fail to crack the case.

Finally, with the contestant pool narrowed down to three, one player will unmask the killer and receive the prize.

The series will air in the summer.

Zuiker will executive produce the series with 51 Minds' Cris Abrego ("The Surreal Life). Zuiker's Dare to Pass is producing the series with 51 Minds. Dare to Pass' president Matt Weinberg will also produce.

“I’ve built a career telling crime stories, and if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, especially from ‘CSI,’ it’s that the audience loves to solve the mystery,” Zuiker said Wednesday. “‘Whodunnit?’ allows everyday fans to be in the show themselves and get the chance every week to do what they love best, which is ultimately solve the case.”

In addition to "Whodunnit?" Zuiker is also working on the ABC pilot "Wonderland," based on the Lewis Carroll classic "Alice in Wonderland."

'Top Chef' Renewed for 11th Season; Casting Kicks Off Feb. 11

Time to sharpen the knives, for both culinary endeavors and back-stabbing purposes -- "Top Chef" has been renewed for an 11th season, Bravo said Wednesday.

The hit cooking competition will also begin casting for the upcoming season on Feb. 11 in Austin, Tex. before moving on to casting calls in Brooklyn, Las Vegas, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles. (Click here for full casting details, if you think you can cut the mustard along with your competitors' throats.)

The series, which is hosted by Padma Lakshmi, is produced by Magical Elves, with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz serving as executive producers.

The current tenth season airs its newest episode Wednesday at 10 p.m., with the contestants trying their hand on King Crab in Juneau, Ala.

Rita Ora turns down 'X Factor' judging role: "There were talks"

Rita Ora has revealed that she has turned down a chance to judge this year's X Factor.

The 'RIP' singer has said that she will "never say never" to the idea, but that it is a "no" for the time being.

"There were talks," Ora told The Mirror. "But if I were to take on that role, it would have to be at a point when I could give it my full attention.

"I have so much to accomplish first and it's kind of a full-time job being on X Factor. It's not like a nine to five. It's constant, for months."

Ora appeared as a guest judge on the show in the 2012 series, and has reportedly been negotiating a full-time role over the past few months.

"Not that I have anything against it," Ora added. "I love it, but if I was to take on a full-time role it would be at a point when I'm loads of albums in.

"Being a guest is easier – you can say, 'Yes' to people and not have to mentor them."

Ora's negotiations to become a new judge could indicate that at least one of the current panel will be leaving the show in 2013.

Tulisa Contostavlos recently dismissed claims that she had quit The X Factor upon hearing that Nicole Scherzinger had already been asked to return.

Sharon Osbourne was also recently rumoured to be making a return, while Gary Barlow has hinted that he wants to focus on Take That.

Lance Armstrong Facing $12M Lawsuit Over Doping Admission

The truth will set you free? Maybe not in Lance Armstrong's case.

Disgraced bicyclist Lance Armstrong, who admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last month, is now facing a lawsuit that could cost him at least $12 million.

SCA Promotions, which paid Armstrong big bonuses for winning three Tour de France races, plans to sue Armstrong for its money back, the company's attorney, Jeffrey Tillotson, told Ashleigh Banfield on "CNN Newsroom" on Wednesday.

Also read: Lance Armstrong Confession: Did Anyone Actually Believe Him?

Tillotson, who told Banfield that the suit could be filed as early as Wednesday, said that the company will try to retrieve its $12 million in bonuses, and with interest and legal fees the damages could reach "close to $15 million."

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year after he decided not to fight the allegations from the U.S. Anti Doping Agency against him.

Tillotson said that the decision to sue came after Armstrong ignored SCA's demand that he pay the money back.

"We've made our demand for the return of the money we gave him," the attorney said. "Mr. Armstrong and his legal team have not complied with that demand, and have publicly said he's not going to return with prize money. So we're left with little choice but to institute legal proceedings, which my client plans to do."

The back-and-forth extends beyond that; Tillotson told Banfield that Armstrong sued SCA after the company questioned whether it should pay Armstrong the bonuses, in light of the doping allegations, and that Armstrong received a settlement from that suit.

At the time of that suit, Tillotson said, Armstrong and his lawyers "almost taunted us, saying, 'If we're ever stripped of those titles, we'll give you the money back.' I think at that time Mr. Armstrong thought that he'd never be caught."

Obviously, a lot's changed since then.