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WIRE Buzz: Disney crafts ‘Epic’ new fairy tale; Blumhouse rekindles Firestarter; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Drew Barrymore in Firestarter

Disney has some more small-screen fairy tales to tell — and this time, they’re going to be “epic” — literally.

Deadline reports that Disney-owned ABC is putting together a new “romantic anthology series” titled Epic that assembles “a whole new set of new heroes, villains, princes, princesses and all manner of magical beings” as they find new adventures in a setting inspired by the by-now familiar Enchanted Forest. The Enchanted Forest most recently served as the part-time backdrop for Once Upon a Time, which concluded its seven-season run at ABC last year.

Once Upon a Time’s creative DNA will also carry forward with Epic, according to the report. Once Upon writer Brigette Hales is set to pen the new series, with production from ABC Studios and executive production from ABC Signature Studios alongside Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz — Once Upon a Time’s creators, executive producers, and showrunners.

The “romantic” part of Epic’s description refers to the common theme that’s reported to suffuse each installment in the upcoming series: love, “in all its forms,” according to the report. Even though the characters will be new, the idea behind the series, says Deadline, is to pay “homage to the classic signposts we’re all familiar with from the stories we grew up with.” There’s no early word on when the new series will unfold at ABC, so we’ll be watching the stars for more Epic signs.

Blumhouse’s fresh movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Firestarter may have been smoldering for a while, but it looks like a recent creative change has sparked new life into the long-developing project. 

First reported by Collider and confirmed by Variety, Blumhouse has reportedly drafted director Keith Thomas to helm the reworked version of the King classic, while also landing Thomas’ horror film The Vigil (via Variety) as part of the deal. The director change comes just more than a year after Blumhouse initially recruited German director Fatih Akin (The Fade) to guide the movie. 

Writer Scott Teems, who already was on board under Akin’s direction, reportedly will remain on Firestarter to work alongside Thomas. There’s no early speculation on how the new version might update the 1984 movie directed by Mark L. Lester that starred Drew Barrymore as the telekinetically-gifted, conflicted heroine Charlie — but the Blumhouse movie marks only the second major effort at treating King’s classic horror tale in more than 35 years, whether on the big or small screens. (The other? A two-part TV movie sequel, back in 2002, that appeared on the Sci-Fi Channel.)

We don’t yet know when Firestarter will ignite again in theaters, nor who’s being eyed for the cast. With Barrymore’s child-star performance one of the most memorable movie portrayals of King’s characters, the role of Charlie will be an interesting casting move for sure. Who would you like to see start the fire?

With awards season heating up, the biggest movie award of all is beginning to roll out its early listing of category contenders in the run-up to the announcement of nominees for Best Picture (and all the acting and directing accolades that accompany it.) 

The Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences has just unveiled this year's batch of short-listers, and among them are a couple of categories where genre movies tend to really shine — and this year is no exception. With history’s biggest box office success on the ballot for 2020, it’s no surprise to see Avengers: Endgame appear in two early categories as a shortlist contender for both Best Original Score (from Alan Silvestri) and Best Visual Effects. The other blockbuster-in-waiting to make both lists is a little movie you might’ve heard of called Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, which just makes the cut with its Dec. 20 debut for Best Original Score (John Williams) and — no great surprise here — Best Visual Effects. 

The two films aren’t the only genre (or genre-adjacent) movies to make either list: Also appearing on the Best Original Score shortlist are Frozen II, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, and Us. Joining Endgame and Skywalker on the Best Visual Effects shortlist, meanwhile, are (take a deep breath): Alita: Battle Angel, Captain Marvel, Gemini Man, The Lion King, and Terminator: Dark Fate

As he seems to be doing all around the awards circuit, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho shows up on this year’s Oscars shortlist for the pensive, social role-switching Parasite, which lands among the early contenders for Best International Feature Film. 

Nominees for the 92nd Academy Awards will be revealed on Jan. 13, with the awards ceremony televised on Feb. 9 on ABC.