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November 1, 2007 |

By Daniel Carlson | Industry | November 1, 2007 |

Well, it’s been quite a day for Joss Whedon fans. It was announced Wednesday that Whedon — creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Firefly,” and a pretty gifted writer and showrunner — returning to the small screen for the first time since Fox axed “Firefly” in 2002 after a handful of episodes. Ironically enough, his new TV deal is at Fox, which has given a seven-episode commitment to Whedon’s series “Dollhouse,” which will star Eliza Dushku, who made a bit of a name for herself on “Buffy” and “Angel” as Faith, the slayer who is clearly bad because she wears leather pants and has ill-advised and frequent sex. Dushku will play Echo, a member of an elite squad of covert operatives who are imprinted with different personalities for each mission and whose minds are subsequently wiped when they return to the Dollhouse, the giant creepy lab where they all hang out between jobs. Echo eventually sets out to find out who she really is and used to be, which I’m guessing will drive most of the stories.

But here’s the thing: This is Fox. Fox, people. The network is notorious for greenlighting shows and yanking them after one or two episodes if the ratings don’t match whatever tremendously inflated vision of “American Idol”-level success was predicted. And let’s not forget that those sons of bitcas also heinously screwed Whedon over on “Firefly,” airing the episodes out of order and making the whole thing nigh unwatchable until the DVD set. My only hope is that Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly and entertainment chairman Peter Liguori really give this one a chance. Whedon is fantastic at mixing humor and heartache; he brings the funny and the serious in his own unique way, and when he’s on his game, it’s amazing. Then again, the other potential downside is that this thing might not even get off the ground for a while; the looming writers strike could keep Whedon from putting pen to paper any time soon. Whedon is ultimately in favor of the strike, saying, “I think the issues are extremely serious, and I think the studios are extremely entrenched. … No one wants a strike, but it has to happen because they would not listen. I support it and will do anything to fight for the creative rights that people deserve.” Meaning that this is a really cool idea for a TV series, and having Whedon back on the small screen will be a breath of fresh air. Am I excited? Of course I am. But we’ve got some uphill battles to get through first.

Speaking of geeks: It was also announced Wednesday that Fox — the studio, not the network — has set a Dec. 10 start date for production on the new movie based on “The X-Files,” which will reunite David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in a story that’s still being kept under wraps. The only thing really known is that the film will be a stand-alone story, which is pretty obvious, since the show’s been off the air for five years; there are no season-long arcs to bridge like the last film. Series creator Chris Carter will direct the new movie and co-write the script with Frank Spotnitz; the two also wrote 1998’s The X-Files, though that one was directed by Rob Bowman, who also helmed the deeply flawed Airborne, a terrible movie that I’m sure Seth Green and Jack Black would love to scrub from their memories. (Check out the clip if you don’t believe me.) The film is currently slated for release on July 25, meaning it will go head-to-head with Sony’s Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers and arrive a week after Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight hits theaters and officially becomes the coolest superhero movie ever. In other words, there’s plenty of competition for a sequel to a spinoff from a sci-fi show that ended in 2002. But don’t let the man deceive, inveigle, or obfuscate you; this could be one kickass show.

This morning’s trailer watch brings something a little different, mainly because I feel the need to atone for the Airborne clip I just dropped on you. I promise to never show you anything that bad again. The clip is for Shine a Light, a concert film featuring the Rolling Stones and a pretty eclectic list of guest performers. Yes, the Stones’ best days are far behind them, but the documentary is directed by Martin Scorsese, who cut his teeth as an editor on Woodstock and also directed The Last Waltz, which is one of the best concert films ever. So who knows, there just might be something to this one:

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a low-level employee at a Hollywood industry magazine. You can visit his blog, Slowly Going Bald.

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