UPN monkeying around

Network goes ape for McFarlane skein

Renewing its vows with the Maxim/Details crowd, UPN has a number of testosterone-fueled projects in the works for next season –including a new sci-fi take on talking apes from producer-director Todd McFarlane.

With a nod to the “Planet of the Apes” franchise, McFarlane’s new spawn (tentatively titled “Gorilla World”) will explore a post-apocalyptic world where gorillas have evolved to rule the earth and humans are an endangered species. UPN has ordered a premium script of the project.

Also in the hopper at the weblet:

  • A claymation skein for UPN that Greenblatt-Janollari is developing with producer Eric Fogel (MTV’s “Celebrity Deathmatch”);

  • A half-hour based on the comic book “Rat Bastard.” Ed Neumeier (“Robocop,” “Starship Troopers”) at Imagine Television is developing. Barry Jossen will exec produce the film noir/detective style series, which will be produced in the style of Japanese anime. UPN has given the project a premium script order with a small penalty attached;

  • A new TV adaptation of “The Saint” from ATG and exec producer John McTiernan (“The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Die Hard”); and,

  • An hourlong drama described as an urban take on “Dawson’s Creek,” on which Imagine is working with “Love Jones” scribe-helmer Ted Witcher. Cast will feature primarily black and Latino parts.

As for the McFarlane project, the producer is a self-proclaimed “Planet of the Apes” fan who says the script is not a knockoff.

“When was Fox (which owns the rights to the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise) granted the rights to be the only people who talked about Darwin?” he said. “If they’re dumb enough not to do anything with that franchise, it’s up to me.”

McFarlane, best known for creating the animated series “Spawn” and directing the Korn video “Freak on a Leash,” will exec produce “Gorilla World” with Terry Fitzgerald. McFarlane is writing the script with partner Steve Niles. No studio is yet attached.

McFarlane said his team has already developed some preliminary designs.

“The apes will look like apes,” he said. “They won’t look like humans with masks.”

UPN Entertainment president Tom Nunan said his primary interest is to get into business with McFarlane. “He seems to understand the mind of 14-year-old kids and what would get them excited and glued to the set,” Nunan said. “I think this is going to be one of the most original shows produced for next season.”

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