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MGM taps ‘Rising Star’ Straczynski to pen pic

Trilogy eyed for Top Cow comic book adaptation

In a deal worth upward of $1 million, MGM and Atlas Entertainment/Gold Miller/Third Rail have risen to the chance of turning bestselling comic book “Rising Stars” into a feature film with creator J. Michael Straczynski attached to pen the script.

Pic will be produced and co-financed by Atlas’ Charles Roven and Richard Suckle. Comic book publisher Top Cow’s founder and CEO Mark Silvestri and prexy Spike Seldin are also aboard as producers.

Atlas and MGM are already envisioning a “Rising Stars” trilogy.

Comic book story focuses on the more than 100 people who, following a fireball burst of energy that hits a small Midwestern town, wind up with special powers — each different from the next. Plot thickens when, 25 years later, it is discovered that many of the original people affected by the blast begin mysteriously to disappear.

Hot genre

“This is exactly the genre that is hot now,” said Roven. “It became clear to us that the comic book could become one of the unique films.”

“What I tried to do with this story is take all the tropes and cliches of comic books and turn them on their heads,” said Straczynski, who recently inked a deal with Top Cow to publish his own imprint of comic books.

Straczynski created and exec produced the syndicated show “Babylon Five” and was a writer-producer of “Murder She Wrote,” “Jake and the Fatman,” the new “Twilight Zone” series and the short-lived “Crusade” on TNT.

Straczynski is currently creating a 13-episode radio drama for Scifi.com titled “City of Dreams.” His new novel was published on Bookface.com, which is owned by Warner Publishing.

Milestone for scribe

If “Rising Stars” goes into production, it will be Straczynski’s first produced feature script, though he has penned scripts for Ivan Reitman and others.

In May, MGM announced a strategic production and co-financing alliance between Atlas/Gold-Miller/Third Rail and the studio. The agreement is for four years and includes co-financing from German conglom Helkon Media and Japan’s Toho-Towa.

“Rollerball,” being helmed by John McTiernan, is the first movie to be produced under the new pact. At Warner Bros., the company has set up “Scooby-Doo,” and is hoping to put that pic into production soon.

Straczynski is repped by Justin Silvera and Emile Gladstone at Broder, Kurland, Webb and Uffner and attorney Kevin Kelly at Gendler and Kelly.

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