Green Hornet nests at Columbia

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Columbia Pictures has felt the sting of "The Green Hornet" and is optioning the rights to the classic crime-fighting hero with the aim of adapting his story for the big screen. Neal H. Moritz is producing via his Original Film banner.

"Hornet" follows the adventures of Britt Reid, a bored playboy who inherits his father's crusading newspaper, the Daily Sentinel. By night he is a masked hero, fighting crime with his sidekick Kato, who has incredible martial-arts skills.

The characters might be best remembered for the short-lived 1966 ABC series that starred Van Williams as the Green Hornet and introduced American audiences to Bruce Lee, who played Kato.

"Hornet" was born during the golden age of radio, making its debut on Jan. 31, 1936, on Detroit's WXYZ. He was the creation of the station's George W. Trendle and Fran Striker, who also created the Lone Ranger. The series ran until 1952 on the Mutual and NBC Blue radio networks, in comic books and in two films from Universal Pictures in the early 1940s.

Columbia optioned the rights to "Hornet" from Moritz, who acquired the rights from Green Hornet Inc.

Moritz was a huge fan of the show when he was young and had spent the past year chasing the rights.

"I've been waiting, waiting, waiting for long time," Moritz said. "From the first time I saw that show, I just loved it. I loved the characters. And I love the idea of a guy who is indebted to another guy for life because (the latter) saved his life."

The deal makes it the second buzzworthy character Moritz is bringing to the big screen in as many weeks. He also is producing a remake of "Escape From New York," which centers on the adventures of Snake Plissken.

For Columbia, the Green Hornet joins the Shadow in the ranks of pulp heroes it is trying to bring to the big screen as it searches for new franchises to complement its blockbuster "Spider-Man" series.

The project will go out to writers immediately.

Original Film's Ori Marmur will oversee on behalf of Moritz's production company. Columbia president of production Matt Tolmach is overseeing for the studio.
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