Every month, Starburst has the latest Sci-Fi news. Here's a few of this month's stories.

Things to Come
Stormy Weather

Hell hath no fury like a critic scorned. The review ‘blackout’ on The Avengers led to an explosion of negative press on the all-important day of release in both the US and UK, August 14. The order to ban preview screenings for critics, which reportedly came from producer Jerry Weintraub, turned into a PR disaster that backfired loudly for the Warner Bros studio. Though not really the worst film of the year, and indeed the Summer, it has certainly been painted that way by a feverish media. Weintraub was especially wary of the British press due to the heritage of The Avengers TV show. “The problem with the movie is that I was worried that the critics would get hold of it before we could show it to the public and they would take me on for being an American producer doing this film,” he said.

A quiet ‘stealth’ opening instead became the subject of a media frenzy. Reporters and camera crews staked out cinemas showing the film for the first time at Thursday evening public previews in the UK and got viewers’ instant verdicts (mostly negative) on the air and into print. The forsaken critics went along too and filed reviews, many making Friday’s papers as normal. Suddenly we had the rare occurrence of a relatively non-controversial film hitting the TV and radio headlines and getting full-page stories in the papers.
Full story in Starburst #242


The American release date for Star Wars: Episode One is now fixed as May 21, 1999. It will have what was termed in the trade press a ‘limited’ opening – a word that conjured up the amusing vision of about 60 prints across the whole US, like many arthouse releases! In fact Lucasfilm intends the first run of the film to appear only in cinemas with very large screens and a THX sound system (or suitable equivalent). “[Worldwide distributors] Fox will not set the film for the widest possible release but bring the film to theatres with the emphasis on quality,” said a statement.

Crusade Begins

Filming on the much- discussed Babylon 5 spin-off series Crusade began on August 3rd. The Needs of Earth will actually air third in the season, giving the cast some time to settle into their characters before shooting the début episode, Racing the Night. Commanding the newly-commissioned battleship-class vessel, the Excalibur, is Captain Matthew Gideon, played by Gary Cole. Gideon is described as capable, intelligent, non-conformist, with a dry sense of humour. No stranger to series television, Gary Cole previously starred in Midnight Caller and American Gothic, in which he appeared as the demonic sheriff Lucas Buck.

The Excalibur’s first officer John Matheson is played by Daniel Dae Kim, who appeared in the recent Brave New World TV movie. Other TV credits include The Pretender, Ally McBeal, Seinfeld and NYPD Blue. Matheson is a telepath, operating under new rules set down following the as-yet-unseen telepath war.

Marjean Holden plays the Excalibur’s medical officer, Dr Sarah Chambers. A long-time actress and stuntwoman, Holden’s TV credits include JAG, Tales from the Crypt, Pacific Blue and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, working with Crusade director Mike Vejar. She appears in the feature films Mortal Kombat Annihilation, Speed 2: Cruise Control, The Lost World: Jurassic Park , the US #1 film (as we go to press),Blade, and John Carpenter’s Vampires. Holden also has a role in the B5 movie A Call to Arms, playing a different character.

Third Millennium

Will there be a crossover between The X-Files and Millennium in the next season, especially as the latter (with the addition of Klea Scott’s FBI character) will now focus more on the FBI as well? Chris Carter hasn’t ruled it out but, speaking to the press to launch the third season of Millennium, he added this proviso: “This would be a good year for a crossover but I think you want to keep the integrity of both shows and you don’t want to just do it as a stunt – and I think I wouldn’t want the actors to do it as a stunt. So, I think you want to keep those shows separate and, if it made sense in a story-telling way to do a crossover, that might be a fun thing to do.”

The Avengers: "Though not really the worst film of the year, and indeed the Summer, it has certainly been painted that way by a feverish media."

For the full eight-page news section, get Starburst #242

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