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Tag Archive: Lou Ferrigno


Three hundred channels and nothing on television to watch this weekend?  Before John Wesley Shipp played Barry Allen on the original series The Flash, Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno starred in the best superhero television series since The Six Million Dollar Man in The Incredible Hulk.  For five seasons, from 1977 to 1982, The Incredible Hulk broke new ground on television, an early step in the history of superheroes coming to life on the screen.  This weekend Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network is hosting a marathon of the entire series run.

Originally airing Friday nights on CBS 40 years ago, The Incredible Hulk would be nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards, winning one for Mariette Hartley’s performance as Dr. David Bruce Banner’s wife.  Years before Scott Bakula’s Sam Beckett would wander the map attempting to help people in need on Quantum Leap, David Banner was doing similar good deeds, hitchhiking across the country, a lone scientist trying to find a way “to control the raging spirit that dwells within him,” caused by exposure to gamma radiation thanks to the mind of writer Stan Lee and pen of Jack Kirby.

Look for plenty of early performances by actors that would later appear in well-known genre roles, like Simon & Simon’s Gerald McRaney, Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Diana Muldaur and Mark Lenard, Deep Space Nine’s Marc Alaimo, Robert O’Reilly, Andrew Robinson, and Rosalind Chao, Lassie and Battlestar Galactica’s Anne Lockhart, Ghostbusters’ Ernie Hudson, Creature from the Black Lagoon’s Julie Adams, Castle’s Susan Sullivan, and WKRP in Cincinnati’s Loni Anderson and Gordon Jump.

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Wizard World Des Moines 2015 from above

It must be one of the best-attended Comic Cons for a first-time event:  More than 25,000 fans of print and film superheroes and celebrities attended this weekend’s Wizard World Des Moines comic book and pop culture convention at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines, Iowa.  And the show’s management believes the attendance assures Wizard World will return to Des Moines next summer, establishing the next major annual Midwest comic book fan convention.

Fans from Iowa and neighboring states toured the halls and giant celebrity autograph and photo op room, many in cosplay garb.  The highlights include a premiere slate of comic book creators in Artists Alley and celebrity appearances that gave everyone something to be excited about.

Michael Golden Wizard World Des Moines 2015

Star Trek fans barely had to wait in line to meet sci-fi icon William Shatner, who also spoke to a crowded house of fans Saturday afternoon.  If you like superheroes, you could meet the two most popular Green Arrow creators of all time: artist Neal Adams and writer/artist Mike Grell, Superman actors Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) and Dean Cain (The Adventures of Lois and Clark) (Routh also appears as The Atom on CW’s The Flash), DC Bombshells creator Ant Lucia, Rogue creator and long-time Marvel artist Michael Golden (above), and Mike Zeck, artist for Marvel Comics classics like the Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars series:

Mike Zeck Wizard World Des Moines 2015

The Walking Dead fans met series star Michael Cudlitz, and received an exclusive variant Issue #1 from the comic book series, drawn by Iowa artist Phil Hester.  And horror fans got to cross off their list one of the modern Big 3 of horror icons, Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger himself Robert Englund.  Fans of the cult film Boondock Saints met up with star Sean Patrick Flannery.

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Wizard World Des Moines

Convention planner Wizard World is holding its first pop culture convention in Iowa this weekend, introducing Midwest genre fans to sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek), horror icon Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, Arrow), and Jewel Staite (Firefly), plus Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), comic book writer/artist Mike Grell (Green Arrow), Iowa’s own Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, The Flash) and a giant roster of other celebrity guests from film and TV, past and present.

Arrow -- Image AR315C_ATOM_0001 -- Pictured: -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Brandon Routh as The Atom and Superman

Other familiar genre actors scheduled to attend include Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angel), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and both Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco from Boondock Saints.

Alex Kingston River Song Doctor Who

Alex Kingston, River Song from Doctor Who, and Dinah Lance from CW’s Arrow.

Several well-known comic book writers and artists will be featured in Wizard World’s Artist Alley in addition to Mr. Grell: Des Moines’s own Ant Lucia (DC Comics “Bombshell” covers and posters), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mike Zeck (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Iowa-based artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash), Michael Golden (Star Wars, The ‘Nam), our pal Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, El Diablo), and many others.

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Wizard World Des Moines

Convention planner Wizard World will hold its first pop culture convention in Iowa this June–one of dozens of Cons it is holding across the country this year.  Wizard World Comic Con will introduce Des Moines to sci-fi icon William Shatner (Star Trek), horror icon Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Billy Dee Williams (The Empire Strikes Back), and Jewel Staite (Firefly), plus Emily Kinney and Michael Cudlitz (The Walking Dead), and a giant roster of other celebrity guests from film and TV, past and present.

Arrow Manu Bennett

Arrow’s Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, actor Manu Bennett.

Other familiar genre actors scheduled to attend include Manu Bennett (Arrow, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), Dean Cain (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), J. August Richards (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Angel), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk), Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Psych), Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad), and both Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco from Boondock Saints.

Dean Cain Superman

Dean Cain, from Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Several well-known comic book writers and artists will be featured in Wizard World’s Artist Alley: Des Moines’s own Ant Lucia (DC Comics “Bombshell” covers and posters), Neal Adams (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow), Mike Zeck (Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars), Iowa-based artist Phil Hester (Green Arrow, The Flash), Michael Golden (Star Wars, The ‘Nam), and many others.

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By C.J. Bunce

You can spend your weekend at Comic-Con wandering the exhibit floor looking for mass market collectibles, talking with dealers of original art, talking with writers and artists of current and classic comic books, attend panels and see comic and other creators, TV and movie stars and get the low-down on coming projects, go offsite for parties and studio and publisher events–the biggest problem is doing all you want when there is nowhere close to enough time to do it in.  If you’re in for only a few days, you really have to pick up your pace and narrow down what you want to see.  Since I spent a whole day in panels and did not stay for the entire weekend, any encounters I had with creators and studio celebrities were pretty much based on happenstance this year.  Many creators are now friends, others I gawk at like everyone else from afar.  So who did I see?

First of all, in panels I saw the cast of Community, Firefly, and the new series Arrow, including guys I’d love to talk in person someday–Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel from Bones, and the guy you may know as Bud from Married with Children, David Faustino, who is doing voice work now for Nickelodeon, and he voiced the character Mako as part of the Legends of Korra panel.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, waiting in line allowed me to meet and get a photo with Joss Whedon.

The Soup host Joel McHale, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, former Angel star David Boreanaz and Korra’s David Faustino really stood out as funny guys in these panels–surprisingly quick-witted people who got the crowd cheering with everything they said.

I saw the main cast of the Syfy Channel series Haven during their signing session.  They really looked like they were having a good time–like they really get along with each other.  Also signing in the Sails Pavilion were Richard Anderson, who was the classic character Oscar Goldman from one of borg.com’s favorite borg shows: The Six Million Dollar Man, and Cindy Morgan from the original Tron and Caddyshack.  I hoped to run into Bruce Boxleitner, JK Woodward and Scott and David Tipton but my panel schedule caused me to miss meeting them.

On the exhibit floor I watched Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) talk with fans and sign autographs.

Arnold Schwartzenegger was coming into the hall and I staked out a photo op location but his handlers moved him out of the hall so I missed seeing him.

As a Star Trek fan, I was very happy to finally meet and have a nice conversation with Brent Spiner.  He was a great guy who was as nice in person as you’d hope him to be from years of watching his lovable character Data.  I also had a brief chat at day’s end with Levar Burton, also a friendly guy, signing photos of Geordi LaForge for fans.  I’d met Marina Sirtis before so I didn’t chat with her this round, but she was also signing Counselor Deanna Troi photos in the hall.

Earlier this year I reviewed Table Top, a new, fun Web series hosted by Wil Wheaton with the Geek and Sundry creators.  I met him near a Starbucks and shared my feedback with him on his show.  We talked about some of the games and he graciously introduced me to his wife and friends.

Wheaton is truly “one of us” and a really personable guy.  Of everyone at the Con, he is probably my first pick of someone you’d like to wander the Con halls and chat with.  Another show host, Blair Butler was attending the Con from the popular genre cable channel G4.

Of the comic book realm, I met Cat Skaggs, a well-known comic book artist who was signing cover prints to Smallville Season 11 #1 and she sketched a great Green Arrow bust for me.

I also met Neal Adams–a comic book legend who created the look of the Silver Age Green Arrow and I finally was able to add one of his sketches to my folio.  Neal was sketching non-stop for fans just like the newer, younger artists in Artist Alley–a real “working artist” even after all these years.

I ran into my friend Freddie Williams II also, and he also was busy sketching for fans throughout the Con and selling original art from his various DC Comics series.

David Petersen, known best for his Mouse Guard work, was working on commissions for attendees and selling shirts and art at his booth in Artist Alley.  I also lucked into getting a sketch from him and enjoyed talking with his wife, who manned the booth when he was doing signings elsewhere.

I ran into Frank Cho again this year and he said he is still expecting to get Guns & Dinos out soon.  He was selling a great pin-up calendar featuring Brandy and the Liberty Meadows gang.  More on that in future posts.  A nominee for the Eisner in two categories this year, Rachel Rising creator Terry Moore was busy talking with fans.

As with last year, Jim Lee could be found at several panels and signing throughout Comic-Con.

As with Freddie Williams, I met up with several folks from back in the Midwest.  I ran into artist Ande Parks and met his wife, while hanging with Sean and William from Elite Comics and Chris Jackson who runs Planet Comicon.  Parks was chatting with his frequent cover artist Francesco Francavilla, this year’s Eisner cover artist of the year winner, and someone we have talked about here at borg.com all year long for his great cover art.  I ran into Star Trek author Kevin Dilmore twice on the exhibit floor–my third year seeing Kevin at the Con.  It’s crazy how you can be in your hometown and never run into anyone, and then fly to San Diego and see so many people from back home.

The TV series Cops is in its 24th season.  Survivor began its 24th season this month (although its been around half as long as Cops).  Cops began because of scrambling network executives who needed to put something on TV in light of a writer’s strike.  And its all gone downhill from there.  Like Huey Lewis used to say, “sometimes bad is bad.”

Yet someone is watching this stuff.  American Idol and Dancing with the Stars show little signs of fading away.  What part of the collective psyche of the modern TV viewer makes so many of us show up each week for this kind of programming?   And it’s not just an American pastime.  As an example, Survivor variants can be found all over the planet.   Networks love these shows because they don’t need to hire the best, aka most expensive, writers.  They can basically put anything out there and we will watch it.

Back before “immunity” and “voting people off the island” there was an earlier counterpart to shows like Dancing with the StarsBattle of the Network Stars was a series of 19 specials back when we had three networks to watch.  Like Dancing with the Stars, sometimes the celebrities were just barely celebrities, but more likely than not the general population would be able to identify who was competing on the semi-annual show.  Battle of the Network Stars pitted stars from each network against each other in several physical games, such as football, running, biking, golf, volleyball, swimming, and even kayaking.  At the end of each 2-hour tourney the two highest scoring networks would compete in a tug-of-war battle to the death (OK, not really, actually just a good old-fashioned tug-of-war).

Then again, Robert Conrad and Telly Savalas look like they have some serious money wagered on the outcome of this episode.  I hope someone told Ron Howard to get out of Penny Marshall’s way

Overall the shows were successful.  They were fun, generally light-hearted, and only rarely did competitors seem to be fiercely competing or all-out angry when they lost.  The shows weren’t about ostracizing anyone, or making fun of competitors.  They generally reflected what you would see in neighborhood softball games at home.  More like Dancing with the Stars than other current reality shows, you found yourself cheering for someone to succeed more than hoping anyone would fail.

A single race had many celebrities–some still on TV, including David Letterman and Billy Crystal.   MmmA Hulk team-up with Geordi LaForge?  Awesome!

The shows began in 1976 and ended in 1985.  To add to the spirit of competition, Howard Cosell was the host of the shows, announcing the play-by-play as if he were announcing the Super Bowl, often over-exaggerating and parodying his own animated announcing style.

One of the best parts of the Battles were the networks’ coaches who served to anchor the teams and cheer on the sometimes athletically-challenged participants.  The first captains were Gabe Kaplan, Robert Conrad and Telly Savalas.  William Shatner and Tom Selleck would later serve as popular captains, among others.

For fans of these actors and actresses in the years before most of the country would have access to Fan Cons, this was a rare chance to see that these celebrities were normal people like the rest of us.  Of course, in hindsight it is hard to get past some obvious style changes, especially “short shorts.”  Ultimately the shows were about being good sports, although there was plenty of humorous trash talk between the networks.  You could imagine that these actors, many still on TV and even in movies, would probably not want to go back and watch these shows, celebrities like Bruce Boxleitner, Michael J. Fox, Heather Locklear, Rosalind Chao, Morgan Fairchild, Stephen Collins, Jameson Parker, Cheryl Ladd, Valerie Bertinelli, Howard Hesseman, Lynda Carter, Richard Hatch, Adrienne Barbeau, Levar Burton, Kurt Russell, David Letterman, Lou Ferrigno, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

Kids got to see an even better show, the Saturday morning parody cartoon version

The biggest difference between Battle of the Network Stars in the 1970s and 1980s and reality competition shows of 2012?  Back then Battle of the Network Stars was the exception.  It aired twice per year.  We weren’t saturated with battle shows and celebrities not doing what celebrities were meant to do on TV, like act in dramas, mysteries and comedies.

When you see good TV you know it.  If you’ve watched shows like the popular Downton Abbey and The Hour from BBC TV and public television, shows like Mad Men on AMC, Homeland on Showtime, long-running network shows like House, MD on Fox or the several Law and Order series on NBC, you know a lot of time and effort and creativity went into the formulation of these productions.  We can’t help feel a little guilty when watching a show about a couple guys running a pawn shop.  And maybe we should.

Captain Shatner

Did audiences in the 1970s and 1980s know something we don’t know?  Did the networks?  It may sometimes feel like we will never come out of this glut of reality TV.  But there’s always hope.  Creative and interesting series like NBC’s new supernatural mystery Awake, dramas like The Closer and In Plain Sight, comedies like Psych and New Girl, genre shows like Warehouse 13 and Lost Girl, all make you think there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.  And just for the fun of it, how about dumping all the reality shows and bring back some goofy fun like Battle of the Network Stars?

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

This may be the ultimate blast from the past.

Over the past three years there was talk about Stretch Armstrong, the movie.  Universal Studios signed a deal with Hasbro to create a film about Armstrong based on a screenplay written by Nicholas Stoller, the writer who co-wrote The Muppets film from last year, in addition to Get Him to the Greek, which starred current Oscar nominee Jonah Hill.  In February 2010, Universal Studios announced Taylor Lautner would star as Armstrong and that the film would be made in 3-D.   Blockbuster producer Brian Grazer even said he’d signed on to make the film.  Over time, this was believed to be part of a handful of films pitched for Kenner and ex-Milton Bradley toys and games, to include Clue, Ouija, Magic, the Gathering, Candy Land and Battleship, which actually is a sci-fi movie making it to the screens this May.

Yesterday, Relativity Media bought the rights to the Stretch Armstrong live-action film, after Universal Studios backed out on the project.  And they announced even better news: Taylor Lautner will now NOT be in the movie.

You don’t know Stretch Armstrong?  Stretch Armstrong was an action figure that kids played with alongside their Six Million Dollar Man, Atomic Man, and 12-inch scale G.I. Joes in the mid to late 1970s.  Only where G.I. Joe had life-like hair, Stretch had life-like skin.  And he had weight and mass, as he was filled with… corn syrup.  And he stretched–stretched from 15 inches long to 5 feet.  Of the 40,000 or so original Stretches made, it is expected that most didn’t make it very far beyond Christmas 1976.  Although I witnessed my cousins stretch theirs until he snapped and oozed goo all over their refrigerator, it is estimated by some Stretch experts that roughly 200 remain intact, preserved in their styrofoam “preservation chamber”–in their original boxes.

You couldn’t really play with Stretch outside if you wanted him to live to see another day.  You couldn’t parachute him from the tree like G.I. Joe.  And you couldn’t put him in covert combat gear, as the Joe clothes wouldn’t fit him.  Stretch only wore his wrestling shorts.  And compared to any other figure, he was badass–he was taller and bigger than his counterpart fighting men.  Oh… and he stretched.

In fact stretching was the point.  He came with a plastic sheet to guide you and a friend in how far you could stretch him without snapping.   Could you get a lot of play out of such a fragile toy?  You bet!  As long as he stomped around like the Hulk or the Thing, he did just fine.  But invite the crappy neighbor kid over who didn’t take care of his toys and it was goodbye, Stretch!

So now, 36 years later.  A movie is in its initial stages of production.  So what the heck could it be about?  Between 2008 and 2010 it was rumored that Jackie Chan had made a play for the film, with Chan as the star.  Then Lautner replaced that idea.

The fact is there are tons of places the story could go, and you need only look to a few cousins who also were made into Stretch versions similar to Stretch Armstrong: Elastic Plasticman and Stretch Mr. Fantastic.  Plasticman is of course the DC Comics humorous, sunglasses-wearing, stretchy superhero from the Justice League, and Mr. Fantastic, the serious scientist leader of Marvel Comics’  Fantastic Four.  DC Comics’ other stretching superhero, Elongated Man, never was made into the Stretch series.  But certainly these guys could inspire some ideas for Stretch Armstrong.

   

One of the rare concepts of Stretch Armstrong was that he was at his heyday in the years of these first action figure properties, yet Stretch had no backstory.  So there really are no limits to what you could do with a Stretch storyline.  Ideally the actor to play Stretch would be built like Lou Ferrigno (who played The Incredible Hulk, which was made into a Stretch Hulk).  Is Lou the guy to play the role?  Probably not now, but maybe, if you’re looking for similar looks, someone who looks more like Sam J. Jones, who played Flash in Flash Gordon.  Or better yet, how about someone who could fit the size of a Stretch Armstrong and who has played several light-hearted and mega action roles, and is currently still a big draw in theaters?  Who?  Dwayne Johnson, of course.  Formerly “The Rock.”  Johnson has had roles that have spanned all types of genres, stuff for kids like Race to Witch Mountain, to cool roles in the remake of Walking Tall, Get Smart, and Be Cool, to megahits like Scorpion King.  And better yet, he has a new film coming called Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and the can’t-wait-for-it-to-get-here G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

With yesterday’s announcement by Relativity Media, hopefully we’ll start to hear more about their plans for this character soon, and no doubt we’ll see some re-releases of the stretchy action man himself.

Stretch Armstrong is now scheduled to appear in theaters in April 2014.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

No sign of any new Iron Man suit yet for Robert Downey, Jr., but Marvel Comics revealed some new photos in the past several hours for The Avengers–the megahit where all the key Marvel Comics superheroes finally come together in 2012.  And cooler yet, the Internet Movie Database revealed that Lou Ferrigno will return again as the voice of The Incredible Hulk.  If you have been lucky enough to meet Ferrigno in person, you’ll know this kind of an opportunity couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Here are some of the photos released for the new film, to be directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon:

Raise your hand if you are looking forward to seeing anyone in this film more than Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.  No hands?  I didn’t think so.

Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, reprising their roles from two 2011 blockbuster movies:

Scarlett Johansson reprises her role from Iron Man 2 as Black Widow.  Hey, why didn’t we get a Black Widow movie?

Tom Hiddleston stars as villain Loki:

And here is a look at Johansson and new character Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner:

More photos can be found at the Internet Movie Database.