''Heroes,'' ''Shanghai,'' and Jenny Lewis made news the week of February 15, 2008

Heroes (TV series)

+ When we last left Hiro Nakamura and the rest of the super-powered crew of NBC’s Heroes, they had barely saved the world from global pandemic — and had barely survived the barbs from fans and critics alike for an ill-considered start to the show’s strike-shortened second season. (Maya and Alejandro? Shudder.) But those who were looking forward to seeing Heroes prove itself anew might have to wait a little longer. According to executive producer Tim Kring, even if his creative team went back to work ASAP — and assuming that NBC still plans to wrap its TV season at the end of May as usual — Team Heroes would only be able to complete three more (quality) episodes. Why so few? Blame the show’s sprawling scope and complicated F/X (that fantastical time-stopping stuff takes actual time, you know). Moreover, Kring & Co. had been hoping to redeem the show’s shaky second season with a new ”volume” of stories (titled ”Villains”) that would have basically rebooted the series. But when the strike began in November, they had just begun plotting the comeback. In fact, the first episode of that arc, which they wanted to play like a season premiere, hadn’t been fully written. All things considered, Kring would rather relaunch Heroes when he has more episodes to play with. If NBC extends its strike-screwed season into June, that could happen sooner. If not, he’d rather wait, perhaps till fall. ”To come back with just three episodes could be creatively dangerous,” says Kring. ”But that’s my personal opinion. I’m not sure where the network stands in the matter. Hopefully we’ll hear that in a few days.” — Jeff Jensen

+ After years of false starts, Weinstein Co.’s China-based 1940s drama Shanghai has hit another roadblock. The film, starring John Cusack, Gong Li, Ken Watanabe, and possibly Chow Yun-Fat, was set to film in China next month, but sources close to the production say the government pulled permits on seven Western films, including Shanghai, earlier this week. No official reason was given, but it’s believed the political maelstrom over Ang Lee‘s sexy Lust, Caution threw the government into damage-control mode. Shanghai‘s crew is hoping to resume negotiations with China’s film office but is also scouting locations in other parts of Asia. Promises producer Mike Medavoy, who spent the first seven years of his life in the titular city, ”We have the greatest respect for China, and Shanghai will look to capture and celebrate this great country.” — Nicole Sperling

+ Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis is finishing her first solo album since 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat. For the past few months, Lewis and a crew of cohorts, including singer-songwriter boyfriend Johnathan Rice, have been at work on an all-analog production with guest vocals from the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson, Zooey Deschanel, M. Ward, and Elvis Costello. Says a source who’s heard it: ”The album sounds super natural, like it doesn’t belong in any decade. It’s just timeless.” — Shirley Halperin

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Heroes (TV series)
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