Disney will pull strings for spy sprig

Original show ran in U.K. during Cold War

HOLLYWOOD — Disney is readying a nine-year-old boy as the world’s newest secret agent, fast-tracking “Joe 90” — a live action feature film based on husband-and-wife team Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s cult British TV puppet skein.

Don Murphy, whose Angryfilms banner just produced Sean Connery-starrer “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” at 20th Century Fox, is pairing with U.K. producer Susan Montford to make the pic. Rights were acquired from British broadcaster Carlton TV, and the project is going to screenwriters imminently.

Skein ran at the zenith of the Cold War, from Sept. 1968 through March 1969. It followed the adventures of a boy agent for the World Intelligence Network — an organization which, reflective of the era’s nuclear brinksmanship, maintained the balance of power in the world by any means necessary.

Original “Joe 90” was penned by Anderson, who also produced and co-wrote the 1965-1966 puppet skein “Thunderbirds” and the features “Thunderbirds are Go” (1966) and “Thunderbird Six” (1968). A remake of “Thunderbirds” is now lensing as a feature at Universal Pictures under the helm of Jonathan Frakes (“Clockstoppers”).

Thanks to an electronic device that looks like a pair of eyeglasses, Joe 90 can transfer the brain patterns of the greatest experts in the world to help him accomplish almost anything to finish his missions. He can become the world’s greatest pilot (he steals a Soviet 242 MiG in the first episode), a champion auto racer, a peerless surgeon or whatever else is necessary. Joe is above suspicion because he still looks what he really is — a schoolboy.

Buena Vista Motion Picture Group VP Brad Epstein brought the project into the studio, and will oversee its progress to production under prexy Nina Jacobson.

With Montford, Murphy is also producing “At the Mountains of Madness” based on the H.P. Lovecraft novel at DreamWorks Pictures and “Speed Tribes,” a remake of the cult film “Hell’s Angels ’69” at Sony’s Columbia Pictures.

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