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Top Newsmakers Of 2011: David Yates Wows, Angers Fandom

PLUS: Casting a film like ‘Akira’ has become much more difficult

It’s not easy choosing the top newsmakers on Airlock Alpha every year.

The entire GenreNexus of sites (which also include Rabid Doll and Inside Blip) publish hundreds of stories each year, and it’s sometimes tough to decide which was the most important, and which are worthy of forgetting.

As we have done in past years, the staff at Airlock Alpha has looked for trends in the news. What was a storyline that kept on giving this year? What generated a lot of interest? What might we still be talking about in 2012?

So here is our list, as subjective and unscientific as you can get. Do you agree with our top newsmakers? Who did we miss? Who doesn’t belong? Register and tell us in our comments section.

10. Crew of ‘Star Trek 2’
Filming isn’t even set to begin until January, but that didn’t stop the story mill involving “Star Trek 2” to churn all year long.

Most of the cast is set, but most of the chatter centered around who would be the Big Bad for the next movie, with most of those rumors almost completely settled on the character of Khan first played by the late Ricardo Montalban. But if it is him, who would play him?

Oscar winner Benicio del Toro got the first crack at the new movie, but he decided to pass.

More recently, the attention has turned to a potential del Toro replacement: Edgar Ramirez.

Who will play the Big Bad or who won’t, that can’t be as bad as director J.J. Abrams giving in to one last Paramount Pictures demand: Making ‘Star Trek 2’ 3-D.

No matter what happens, we still have a little while to wait. The next Star Trek movie is not due in theaters until May 2013.

9. Andy Serkis
If you saw Andy Serkis on the street, you might not even recognize him. Yet, he has been a powerful Hollywood acting force behind some of the silver screen’s best CGI characters, including the title one in “King Kong” and the infamous Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series.

This past year, he played Caesar, the soon-to-be smart primate leader in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Fans of Serkis are so impressed with this work, they are pushing for the Oscars to recognize the actor for his role, even if he did portray a CGI character.

But it’s not like Serkis played a stand-in. He had to develop all of Caesar’s mannerisms, not just as an intelligent ape, but as a regular ape, too. He also need to be realistic, even wearing a funny suit, so that the rest of the cast could properly interact with him. Otherwise, “Apes” could’ve fallen flat.

Instead, “Apes” made some great box office noise, and there appears to be a sequel in the works. But in the meantime, fans have made it clear: Give Andy Serkis an Oscar already.

8. Syfy
It’s been a great year for Syfy in terms of viewers. While it would be nice if we could give all the credit to the cable channel’s original series, it’s more because of solid outings of Syfy’s campy Saturday original movies and wrestling. Viewers love it, and it is getting them to tune in to a channel that is supposed to be more about serious science-fiction.

Syfy does have some loyalty issues, and “Eureka” got to experience that first hand. First, Syfy had to play catch-up on the news that “Eureka” had been cancelled, promising at least a shortened season wrap-up. But then Syfy yanked the carpet out.

Filming for “Eureka” has wrapped, and the series will be missed. But there is some silver lining: Syfy renewed both “Warehouse 13” and “Alphas,” and has already ordered a spinoff series of “Warehouse 13” based on Jaime Murray’s H.G. Wells.

However, that show won’t come about until 2013 at the earliest.

7. Game of Thrones
Based on the bestselling fantasy novel series that makes even the Lord of the Rings seem juvenile, HBO celebrated a smashing success with “Game of Thrones.”

While it didn’t take home a lot of Emmys as had been hoped, there was plenty to celebrate with the honors bestowed on actor Peter Dinklage.

Author George R.R. Martin made news himself when he decided to take on another sci-fi franchise with a large cult following: ABC’s “Lost.” Martin aired his dislike for “Lost’s” ending, which itself re-ignited some fan debates on whether “Lost” had an appropriate exit.

6. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan & Arthur Darvill
This is the trio that has made “Doctor Who” very fun to watch. It was tough to grasp life after David Tennant, but Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill proved that the axiom of change when it comes to “Doctor Who” is perfect, and welcomed.

Yet, there have been a lot of questions about what the franchise of “Doctor Who” will look like in coming years. First, we hear about the BBC splitting up last season of the show. Then we start to hear whispers of the departure of Smith.

But the worst? The confirmed report that Gillan and Darvill are leaving “Doctor Who.”

How will fans cope with such changes on the show? Just like we’ve always had — with excited anticipation of the future.

5. Akira
It would have been nice if “Akira” made this list because there was so much excitement over finally getting a live-action version of this classic anime.

But it’s not. Instead, most of the chatter around this project has been over the fact that the film has been completely anglicized from its Japanese roots.

One major genre name has already loudly spoken out against this. Japanese-American George Takei might think it’s OK to be Takei, but it’s not OK to replace what should be Japanese characters with non-Japanese characters. It’s a story that is famous for its connection to Tokyo, and that’s where it should remain, the “Star Trek” legend says.

That hasn’t slowed down Akira. Despite reports at one point that production had come to a halt, casting has continued again, and there’s still not a single Asian in sight.

4. Bryan Singer
It’s been a while since we’ve heard too much from the director who brought us some solid X-Men movies, and a not-so-great Superman film.

But Bryan Singer is back, and this time he’s picking up where he left off — that is, pre-Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He wants to revive his work that was originally intended to be a “Battlestar Galactica” revival for Fox. Now he is planning a big-screen adaptation of the classic show (and we mean classic, it’s going to ignore the critically acclaimed Syfy re-imagining).

It’s not clear what fans did to Singer to force him to make such threats against them, but he means business, especial now that his Camelot movie is a goner.

3. Harlan Ellison
It’s good to know that famed genre author Harlan Ellison is still alive and making waves. He’s always been great about speaking his mind, sometimes too much.

But he also has a tendency to act before he thinks. And that happened with the Andrew Niccol film “In Time,” starring Justin Timberlake. Ellison saw a trailer and maybe read a few rumors on the Internet, and decided that the film had to be derivative of one of his short stories. So he sued.

Ellison eventually saw the movie, and dropped his suit. But not before there were reports that later proved to be wrong about a settlement that gave Ellison screen credit. The sad part was that it took the Writers Guild of America and Niccol’s attorney to set the record straight. When Ellison was confronted with the false news, he just ignored it, making people believe it was true.

Interesting enough, “In Time” didn’t do too well at the box office anyway, despite the hype generated from Ellison’s lawsuit.

2. Wonder Woman
NBC almost fell for this dud, but only because it seems to be so attached to nostalgia from the 1970s and 1980s, it just couldn’t help itself.

David E. Kelley, who is amazing behind shows like “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Legal” and “Harry’s Law,” thought he would step outside his strong areas, and take on an iconic comic book character: Wonder Woman.

Problem is, the stench from this stinker could be smelled before Kelley could head to Macy’s to buy a lasso.

The first clue came when every single network turned down the series. But NBC decided to order a pilot, especially with McG behind the camera and beautiful actress Adrianne Palicki in front of the camera as the Amazon Princess herself.

NBC got a clue and eventually passed on the project — despite the work of “Caprica” pilot director Jeffrey Reiner, who took over on the project once McG departed.

Maybe there will be a Wonder Woman project again someday. But probably not soon.

1. Steven Moffat and David Yates
Steven Moffat is a celebrated writer and television producer thanks to both “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock,” but it seems like this guy cannot catch a break.

What’s happening now is not just concerns over the future of “Doctor Who,” but now who will be in control in the near future.

David Yates has earned his stripes as well, bringing the Harry Potter franchise to an amazing conclusion. However, he now wants to take on Doctor Who, and that has created a lot of debate, not just with fans, but also with Moffat.

Moffat is a huge opponent of the idea, and has been spending a lot of time telling fans that what Yates has been saying on red carpets and in interviews is simply not true.

Yet, Yates isn’t backing down, and BBC isn’t taking sides. So what’s the deal? Is Yates really attached to a “Doctor Who” movie?

Guess we’ll have to wait for 2012 to find out.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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