John Ostrander: Revamp, Reinterpret, Regenerate, Reinvigorate

On makin’ the old wine new:

Ostrander Art 130303 John Ostrander: Revamp, Reinterpret, Regenerate, Reinvigorate by John Ostrander

There’s been a lot of pushing the reset button in pop culture recently and I find the results interesting. J.J. Abrams rebooted the Star Trek franchise a few years back and, while some fans complained, I think it was successful. Certainly it was financially successful, which is what the Hollywood moguls really care about.

At the start of Daniel Craig’s run, the James Bond movies were also rebooted, culminating in the recent spectacular Skyfall, which – again this may be heresy to some – was the best Bond film ever. It’s visually stunning and takes Bond himself to greater depths and heights than I’ve seen up until now.

Sherlock Holmes has been reinterpreted into the modern age with two versions, the BBC’s magnificent Sherlock and Elementary on CBS. Both are true to the basics and it’s amazing how well the classic fictional detective gibes with modern times.

Of course, we’ve witnessed DC’s rebirth with the New 52. Again, you can argue as to whether it is artistically successful but I don’t think you can argue that it hasn’t been financially successful thus far. This summer will see a movie rebooting of Superman with Man of Steel. The Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy rebooted that cinematic history as The Amazing Spider-man did with that character’s movie version. X-Men: First Class reimagined Marvel’s mutants and so on. The next Star Wars chapter and the announced Star Wars solo films, while they will undoubtedly respect the previous movies, will probably play hob with what is known as the Extended Universe, the complex continuity that has sprung up around the films via novels, comics, games and more. Depending on how they turn out, that may not be a bad idea.

All my professional comic book writing career, I’ve played with and enjoyed continuity. I respect it but I don’t worship it and I don’t think it is cast in stone. Sometimes, continuity becomes like barnacles on the bottom of a boat and need to be scraped off in order to make the boat (or the franchise) sea/see worthy again.

One of the most successful franchises is the BBC’s Doctor Who and part of its longevity (it celebrates 50 years this year) is its ability to change the actor who is playing the Doctor. It’s built into the series; the Doctor is an alien being who regenerates from time to time into virtually a new character, played by a different actor. The new Doctor doesn’t look, act, dress or sound like any of the other incarnations. The re-invention is a part of the continuity and that’s very clever.

I think this is very healthy; characters and concepts can and should be re-examined and re-imagined for the times in which they appear. They have to speak to and reflect concerns that its current public has if they are going to remain vital and alive.

Can it be overdone or badly done? Absolutely. Some remakes get so far from what the character is about that they might as well be a different character altogether. You want to take a look at the essence of the character, what defines them, and then see how you get back to that, interpreting it for current audiences. Some folks revamp something for the sake of revamping or to put their stamp on the character. I don’t think that usually works very well. Change what needs changing, certainly, but be true to the essentials of the character or concept.

Have I always done that? I don’t think so; when I was given Suicide Squad, I didn’t go back to the few stories that were originally published and work from that. I created a new concept for the title. However, I did reference the old stories and kept them a part of continuity, albeit re-interpreting them. I think we played fair with the old stories.

On The Spectre, Tom Mandrake and I took elements from as many past versions of the character as we could while getting down to what we felt were the essentials. Really, our biggest change was not the Spectre himself but his alter-ego, Jim Corrigan. Originally, he was plainclothes detective in the 30s and our version reflected that. I think that was a key to our success.

Even with my own character GrimJack, after a certain point I drop kicked the character at least 100 years down his own timeline into (shades of the Doctor) a new incarnation. I gave him a new supporting cast and the setting changed as well. It made the book and the character fresh again and made me look at it with new eyes.

The old stories will continue to exist somewhere; they just won’t be part of the new continuity. At some point, that new continuity will be changed as well as the concepts and characters are re-interpreted for a newer audience. That way they’ll remain fresh and alive. Otherwise, they’ll just become fossilized and dead. Who wants that?

Angelo Bell: The Original Ride or Die Chick

Harriet Tubman- ride or die

by Angelo Bell

Harriet Tubman, the original “ride or die” chick, coming to a low-budget film screening near you. Boom!

Harriet is the star of my next micro-budget script

As a screenwriter, the here and now is very important. You have to finish what you started. You must complete the tasks given to you. Deadlines must be met. But the future is equally important. the question, “What else are you working on?” comes to mind.

I try to look ahead to what my next screenwriting projects might be. I have a ton of project concepts that have been developed over the course of  the last two years. Should I write a thriller? Another tentpole project? An action joint? Most importantly is what script will be the best use of my time considering the state of the industry.

So why Harriet Tubman? There’s been some recent controversy over the actresses chosen by “Hollywood” to play the African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. Harriet was a dark-skinned woman, yet Hollywood decision-makers have consistently chosen lighter-skinned African-American women to play the role. These actions tend to solidify the pervasive feelings within the African-American community that “Hollywood only tolerated Blacks who are lighter skinned.”  In the absurd film, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the woman chosen to play Harriet Tubman has a notably lighter complexion than any known photograph of the actual woman. But that’s not why I chose Harriet Tubman as the center of my next low-budget project.

Actually, in discussing a possible storyline I came up with a brilliant connection to the film, “Glory,” an ugly piece of American history and a piece of Canadian history that isn’t often told. And, in true indie fashion, this film can be told in micro-budget fashion at a low six-figure budget.

So, that’s my new project: a low-budget alternate history tale of Harriet Tubman. Oh, and she kicks ass too.


‘All My Children’ and ‘One Life to Live’ Premiere Online April 29th

Yesterday, we gave you the news about the end of the current season for CBS. Today, we have a couple of beginnings:


by Michael O’Connell

All My Children and One Life to Live are finally heading online, nearly two years after producers at Prospect Park swooped in to save the axed ABC soaps.

The company announced Monday that both series will be offering daily episodes starting April 29 as a part of its The Online Network. The half-hour formats will be available on Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes.

“We thank the fans whose tenaciousness to see these shows return made this historical moment possible,” said Prospect Park partners Jeff Kwatinetz and Rich Frank. “We are determined to repay their support by delivering new and creatively groundbreaking episodes that both the fans, as well as legions of new viewers, will love. These viewers will absolutely embrace the flexibility Hulu and iTunes provide to watch their shows anywhere, anytime.”

Production began on All My Children on Feb. 25, with One Life to Live set to return to shooting on March 18 at the same Stamford, Conn., studio. In addition to free daily streaming on Hulu, backlogs will be available to Hulu Plus subscribers and users will also have the option of buying episodes on iTunes.

“I am so pleased that our dream of bringing these two series back to life is coming to fruition,” said Agnes Nixon, the creator of both series who maintains a creative consultant status. “I am grateful to Prospect Park for their unwavering commitment to this project and to the amazingly talented casts of All My Children and One Life to Live — their devotion to these franchises has made this moment possible. And to the fans — well, we wouldn’t be here without you.”

Prospect Park also included the most up-to-date cast list for both series, which has seen more additions since the return was formalized.

All My Children
Julia Barr as Brooke English
Ryan Bittle as JR Chandler
David Canary as Adam Chandler
Lindsay Hartley as Cara Martin
Vincent Irizarry as Dr. David Hayward
Francesca James as Evelyn Johnson
Thorsten Kaye as Zach Slater
Jordan Lane Price as Celia Fitzgerald
Jill Larson as Opal Cortlandt
Ray MacDonnell as Dr. Joe Martin
Cady McClain as Dixie Cooney
Debbi Morgan as Dr. Angela Hubbard
Eric Nelson as AJ Chandler
Eden Riegel as Bianca Montgomery
Heather Roop as Jane McIntyre
Sal Stowers as Cassandra Foster
Denyse Tontz as Miranda Montgomery
Jordi Vilasuso as Griffin Castillo
Darnell Williams as Jesse Hubbard
Robert (Rob) Scott Wilson as Pete “Petey” Cortlandt

One Life to Live
Melissa Archer as Natalie Buchanan Banks
Kassie DePaiva as Blair Cramer
Robert Gorrie as Matthew Buchanan
Laura Harrier as Destiny Evans
Roger Howarth as Todd Manning
Josh Kelly as Cutter Wentworth
Florencia Lozano as Tea Delgado
Kelley Missal as Danielle Manning
Erika Slezak as Victoria Lord Buchanan
Hillary B. Smith as Nora Buchanan
Robin Strasser as Dorian Lord
Andrew Trischitta as Jack Manning
Jerry verDorn as Clint Buchanan
Tuc Watkins as David Vickers
Robert S. Woods as Bo Buchanan
Shenaz Treasury as Rama Patel
Nick Choksi as Vimal Patel (recurring)
Sean Ringgold as Shaun Evans (recurring)

That’s right. Both shows will be web series now. The New Paradigm marches on. (Scary…!)

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie – Chapter 5


Penny For Your Thoughts?
by Leesa Dean

Things keep moving. Rollo and I talk a couple of times a week, mostly on the phone. He’s working on another project that just sounds huge. Two VERY MAJOR CELEBRITIES are attached. It’s a movie. It’s sci-fi. It involves a franchise. He got in through the back door because of his connects. What’s his participation?  Well, that’s a little nebulous. Yet, it’s thrilling. He’s like Scheherazade, spinning out tales of hope. If things work out like that for him, how incredible is it gonna be for me!

He admits he’s treading water financially. How does he support himself? I don’t even wanna guess. It would pierce my expectations and I know that. He’s not the only iron I have in the fire, in fact, he’s just one teensy one, but his stories and the potential weight they carry are mesmerizing.

I find out even more exotic things about him and, unbelievably (thank you, Google), they’re all true. Most of them are from back the in day and his exploits are rich with swanky VIP room scandal and excess. Close encounters with Halle Berry, Rza and Rutgar Howard! Tales of opulent tasting dinners in hyper-exclusive joints and crazed illicit backroom escapades. He talks to me like I’m one of the guys. And it’s dope.

And then, I don’t hear from him.

Weeks go by. Meanwhile, I’m working like a psycho. Promoting Chilltown, writing and animating new Lele episodes. Doing a lot of radio. Reaching out to new people every day. It’s intense and crazy and 24/7 (you know when you tell your cat, “Penny for the thoughts!” you’ve been in the hole waaayy too long.)

I break it up by going to a couple of meetups. The web series community in NYC is pretty small and by now, I’ve met a lot of the players (more on that soon.) Everybody’s so supportive and cool. It’s great to be a part of. I spend a full day at a YouTube meetup. They trot out some YouTube celebs and their stories/channel successes are absolutely awesome and inspiring, particularly Charlie Dodd from Improv Everywhere and JR fromJR Sports Brief. As part of the meetup, we partner with fellow creators and write/film on-the-spot collabs that everybody votes on. My team, including Yusef Lateef and Mike Mac, wins! And yes, future collabs with them are in the works. It’s a lot of fun and it takes my mind off everything.

We all retreat to a bar for celebratory drinks and schmoozing. And just as I’m leaving, my phone rings. It’s Rollo.

CBS Season Finale Schedule

Cuz you know you ‘ve got to get yourself ready to say goodbye to Gibbs & Co. for the summer:


Sunday, April 28

Sunday, May 5

Thursday, May 9

Friday, May 10
9-10 PM: VEGAS

Sunday, May 12

Monday, May 13
9-9:30 PM: 2 BROKE GIRLS

Tuesday, May 14
8-9 PM: NCIS

Wednesday, May 15

Thursday, May 16

Friday, May 17

Monday, May 20
9:30-10 PM: MIKE & MOLLY

Wednesday, May 22

(Special thanks to