- - Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Joss Whedon has been hired to continue the adventures of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and their superhero pals in a sequel to “The Avengers.”

The news came Tuesday from Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger, who said during a company earnings call that the filmmaker is returning to write and direct the sequel adapted from the Marvel Comics tales.

Mr. Iger also said Mr. Whedon is helping to develop a Marvel-based TV series for ABC. Marvel is a Disney subsidiary.

No details were provided on a start of production or release date for the sequel to Mr. Whedon’s “The Avengers,” the year’s biggest hit with nearly $1.5 billion in worldwide box office sales. But the film will have to get in line behind a busy schedule of solo sequels featuring “Avengers” co-stars.

Robert Downey Jr. is filming “Iron Man 3” for release in May, while “Thor” star Chris Hemsworth will have his own sequel out in November 2013. Chris Evans’ “Captain America” sequel will follow in April 2014.

The Monkees announce first tour since Jones’ death

The Monkees will perform their first live shows since star Davy Jones died in February.

Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork announced Wednesday that the group will launch a 12-date U.S. tour in November. It’s the band’s first tour since 1997.

Jones died of a heart attack on Feb. 29 at age 66.

The group starred in its own NBC television show in 1966 as a made-for-TV band seeking to capitalize on Beatlemania sweeping the world. Jones rocketed to the top of the music charts with the Monkees, captivating audiences with hits including “Daydream Believer” and “I’m a Believer.”

The tour kicks off Nov. 8 in Escondido, Calif. It wraps on Dec. 2 in New York. It will highlight Jones “in the show’s multimedia content.”

‘Expendables’ cast giving grieving Stallone some space

The cast of “The Expendables 2” say they’re giving co-star and writer Sylvester Stallone space after the death of his son last month.

Mr. Stallone’s 36-year-old son, Sage, died on July 13 in his Los Angeles home — a day after Mr. Stallone was joined by Arnold Schwarzenegger and other “Expendables” stars at Comic-Con in San Diego.

“Something like that is so severe. You can’t really do anything. I sent him a handwritten note. I contributed to a charity for his kid,” said Dolph Lundgren, one of a number of aging action stars featured in the film, which opens Aug. 17.

“He knows we’re thinking about him,” Mr. Lundgren said at a recent media event for the film. “He knows us. He knows our prayers go out to him. But what are you going to do? I have two kids. And all you can do is hug your kids and go thank God it didn’t happen to you.”

Mr. Stallone has not made any public appearances since the death. His publicist said in a statement that the star was “devastated and grief-stricken.” No cause of death has been announced.

Sage Moonblood Stallone was the oldest of Mr. Stallone’s children and co-starred with his father in two films: 1990’s “Rocky V” and 1996’s “Daylight.”

Mixed-martial-arts veteran turned actor Randy Couture said the cast was missing Mr. Stallone during promotion of the film, which includes a European trip and next week’s Los Angeles premiere.

“He is the leader of this group, both on-screen and off-screen. And so we miss him here,” Mr. Couture said. “But we understand. We’re parents. We have kids. We can’t really imagine what he’s going through now. But what do you say? … So we’re giving him space.”

Co-star Terry Crews, a former NFL player turned actor, said the cast would handle publicity for the film to allow Mr. Stallone time to grieve.

“The best thing that we can do right now is hold it down here for him. This is his baby,” Mr. Crews said. “Whatever he needs, we got him.”

Compiled from wire reports.

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