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Posted at 1:30 PM ET, 10/15/2010

From HULK to 'ZITS': 4 Things We Learned This Week About Hollywood's Comics Projects

By Michael Cavna

1. Now that he has his driver's license, Jeremy Duncan is in for one heckuva car chase. Word comes this week that "Zits" has been signed to a TV deal -- with no less than that mega-budget action master himself, Jerry Bruckheimer.


"CBS has ordered a pilot for a live-action -- not animation -- half-hour comedy based on 'Zits.' " strip co-creator Jerry Scott tells Comic Riffs. "We've teamed up with Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Warner Bros. Television, and our show-runner is Don Todd.

As for Scott's and co-creator Jim Borgman's roles, Jerry tells us: "Jim and I will be involved as executive producers. He also notes: "This is a great group of folks, and we couldn't be happier with the way things are progressing."

So, we can certainly see the aptly named Pierce as a Bruckheimerian action star ("Magnetic!" rave critics), but since the show's tone will more likely resemble a "Malcolm in the Middle" (if not "Wizards of Waverly Place"), let the casting of the veteran sitcom "parent" actors begin. David DeLuise and Jimmy Belushi, Jane Kaczmarek and Julia Louis-Dreyfus -- your agents are on the line.

2. Every 40ish male actor will be famous -- as the Incredible Hulk -- for 15 minutes. By the ghost of Bill Bixby (may he RIP), can no one man fill Hulk's shredded pants anymore? Eric Bana made a fair Bruce Banner, natch (and as great as Bana can be, do you get the feeling some casting director just looked up "Banner" and began spitballing from there worthy of Altmanesque satire? But we digress). Ed Norton did his time before apparent "creative differences" arose ("Hulk Norton Make Studio MAD?!?") and he was very publicly stripped of those shredded dungarees -- and the franchise shuffled off to Mark Ruffalo just in time for the Great San Diego Comic-Con Lineup of Aught-Ten, as the Avengers began to resemble Springsteen & the boys, circa 1992.

After much swirling speculation, this week come reports that "The Incredible Hulk" will make its return to prime-time TV. "ABC is in very early stages of development of a live-action series adaptation" by the newly launched Marvel Television, the Hollywood Reporter says. So while Jimmy Belushi might have aged out of this evergreen role, surely this TV project can hold to recent form and employ at least three Bruce Banners over the course of its potential run. (If the role skews mid-40s, our early bet is on, oh, a Rob Lowe/Rob Morrow/Tom Kavanagh trifecta of TV vets.)


Meantime, the new Televised Hulk could at least cut down on the CGI through one last hire. Because judging by his strong-arm antics in "I Love You, Man," Lou Ferrigno is still in fighting shape, cut like an "Expendables" extra and ready to shred some pants.

3. The Brits love their Marmaduke as if he were the Second Coming of Andy Capp. Comic Riffs reported this week that "The Family Circus" had reached a TV deal with Fox and Walden Media that's still in the preliminary/nascent/inchoate/Apes-Around-a-Monolith stage of evolution. Or as the comic's Jeff Keane told us: ""I guess I look at it from the perspective of the quote from 'Annie Hall,' Right now, it's only a notion. But maybe we can get money to make it into a concept. And later turn it into an idea."


In reporting out this item, though, 'Riffs realized that this past summer's "Marmaduke" -- the $50-million live-action feature film that grossed only about $33-mill domestic -- reaped nearly $9-mill in the United Kingdom (and nearly that amount in Germany). We know Britian appreciates the old classics, but blimey, what's the deal?

Our favorite theory comes from comics podcaster Tom Racine, who blames Britannia and tells 'Riffs: They "probably thought it was a new version of 'Hound of the Baskervilles.' "

4. Hollywood's happy to make cartoon characters out of characters that are already near-cartoons. Maybe it's because the leap of imagination requires almost no creative springs whatsoever. Or maybe it's because much of the same audience will follow the project to cartoon form. Whatever the reasons, Fox announced this week that it will also turn the that preciously quirky 2004 hit "Napoleon Dynamite" into an animated show.


Well, as funny as he was in "Blades in Glory," Jon Heder shouldn't be too hard to get to reprise his role, this time as a voice actor. Unless, of course, the little-seen actor is too busy auditioning to play The Hulk, the Keane patriarch or the appropriately little-seen elder brother of Jeremy Duncan.

Until then, we'll make sure to lobby for Ferrigno and vote for Pedro.

By Michael Cavna  | October 15, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Superheroes, The Animation, The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Bil Keane, Jeff Keane, Jerry Scott, Jim Borgman, Marmaduke, Marvel, Napoleon Dynamite, The Family Circus, The Incredible Hulk, Zits  
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