J a n u a r y   2 0 0 3

Guest Writer

On the threshold of nearing the development stage ...
'Mel: The Movie'
by Norris Smith

ORTLAND – The latest gossip in this drizzly West Coast art mecca revolves around popular P-Town author Jess Gulbranson, who has reportedly entered into serious talks for options on a movie based on his beloved science-fiction star, "Mel."

Thus, the longtime dream of many a fan may soon become reality.


The hubbub commenced when renaissance man Gulbranson signed on as an actor with infamous Portland director Andy Koontz, whose auteur efforts – "Zombie Dawn" and "Them Damn Zombies" – recently took the zombie-schlock genre by storm.

The relationship apparently blossomed as Gulbranson took on increasing screenwriting responsibilities, according to anonymous independent sources. Koontz was unavailable for comment, but a source close to the prolific director revealed that "Mel: The Movie" is, in fact, on the threshold of nearing the development stage.


One who would go on record was Gulbranson's longtime editor, NW Drizzle's Mark Anderson. "When I first saw the rough drafts of what was to eventually become 'Mel,'" Anderson said, "my immediate gut reaction was, 'When is "Mel: The Movie" coming out?'"

While the serial, open-ended nature of Gulbranson's masterwork poses myriad problems for any filmmaker, the unconfirmed cast-list sheds some small light on a direction the film might take:

MEL / SMITH: Will Patton
ANNE: Olivia Williams
DIDYMUS: Terence Stamp
FRANK BURLEY: Benicio Del Toro
CLAY: Giovanni Ribisi
DIMPE: Oliver Platt


As is typical with Hollywood, none of the casting choices was available for comment. Veteran actor Stamp, however, was overheard to utter in a London Sainsbury's: "Never in this fucking lifetime. It'd be worse than signing on to the bloody Harry Potter series. Good luck, Mr. Casting Director!"

Thus, with rampant rumors and wild expectations already soaring around the Internet, a "Mel" motion picture of any sort will have a public primed and ready to swamp the multiplexes.


In a typically cryptic statement, delivered from a green velvet booth during NW Drizzle's Second Anniversary soiree at Portland's exclusive El Rancho late last month, Gulbranson offered some slight insight on the forthcoming film.

"O Fortuna, every scene," Gulbranson said. "Vats of fake blood. Boobies. VHS and DVD. Foreign box-office take!"

Meanwhile and following an annual holiday hiatus, readers can expect the rough-and-tumble yellow-haired space traveler's saga to continue on its monthly schedule as the 25-month-old Drizzle embarks upon February of its third year.

Which pretty much sums up the crumpet regarding all 22 red-sweatshirted episodes of "Mel" thus far, and the prospects for the upcoming "Mel: The Movie."

– Freelance film correspondent Norris Smith is based in London.

Discover Mel's past adventures, check out last year's interview with the yellow-haired space traveler and e-mail Jess Gulbranson at j_gulbranson@hotmail.com.

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