“The Lost, Forgotten & Undersung Projects Of Joss Whedon”

April 11th, 2012 by

Always nice to see features on screenwriters and The Playlist [IndieWire] has one today on Joss Whedon, writer of numerous notable projects including my favorite canceled TV series “Firefly.” The article covers several areas in Whedon’s career:

* His work with Pixar on Toy Story

* His spec scripts

* Script doctoring (most notably Speed)

* Alien: Resurrection

* Animation movies

* TV directing

Here is an excerpt about Whedon’s spec scripts:

Three years before Whedon began to build his television empire with “Buffy,” he sold two high-priced spec scripts entitled “Afterlife” and “Suspension.” “Afterlife” makes the bold move of killing off its main character Daniel Hoffstetter, a married-to-his-work government scientist who is in his mid-fifties and specializes in doing important DNA research. Daniel soon awakens in a new, able body he’s had his brain transplanted into, as a part of a CIA project known as The Tank, which consists of resurrected scientists who work on secret government projects. When Daniel escapes from the shackles of The Tank to reconnect with his wife, he finds himself in the body of a notorious serial killer known as the “Snowman.” The rest of the script makes for a solid thriller as Daniel, battling the subconscious urge to go on a killing spree, eludes both members of The Tank and those who think he’s the “Snowman” in a “Fugitive”-like race to reconnect with his wife. It showcases Whedon’s ability to implant high-concept sci-fi and action with heart, like he later would in his similarly-themed TV series “Dollhouse.”  “Suspension” is a softer sell, basically falling into the category of a “Die Hard”-style flick with the story centering on terrorists seizing control of New York’s George Washington Bridge during a hellish traffic jam. The John McClane-esque lead character Harry Monk is on his way back from spending 15 years in a New Jersey prison for shooting a cop, but finds himself working with the police in an effort to thwart the terrorist’s plot. “Suspension” was acquired for a huge $1-million in 1993 from then 28-year-old Whedon, but not much has happened since. “Afterlife” was set to head into production with Sony and helmer Andy Tennant in 2000, who was then coming off “Anna and the King,” but that film’s failure seemed to kill the momentum. Whedon also sold a mysterious pitch called “Goners” to Universal back in 2005, a mystical fantasy thriller with a female lead named Mia, but the studio never pulled the trigger.

The article mentions a book: “Joss Whedon: Conversations,” published by the University Press of Mississippi. Info on that here.

For more of The Playlist article, go here.

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