Online Edition Take a Journey Through Tartarus!

News and Rumors and What Not

Here is a list of news, rumors, spoilers and such about

Last update: 10-20-02

THE SYNOPSIS by Cheryl Ande


Danielle Cormack (Samsara)
Salma Blair (Utma/Cyane)
Karl Urban (Kor)
Claudia Black (Karina)
Monica Mcswain (Olan)
Directed by Michael Hurst

Filmed September 15 - October 19, 1997


Synopsis by Cheryl Ande.

Well I am now only a handful of people who have seen the pilot for Amazon High. A good deal of it was used in the Xena episode Life Blood but to be frank it was a bit confusing at the time. Having seen the whole thing the movie does make sense. This is going to be a pretty rough commentary. I only saw the movie once.

The story opens in modern day Los Angles where high schooler Cyane (Selma Blair) is trying desperately to become a cheerleader. Cyane is an orphan being raised by her uncle, a preoccupied scientist, who is kind but not terribly interested in his niece. Cyane is rather desperate to be accepted in her high school - she is going out for cheerleader and is trying very hard to be in the right group. Perhaps she is trying too hard. When her friend is sexually harassed by a popular jock, Cyane doesn't defend her because she likes the jock's friend. When her uncle talks to her about getting good grades she says it's not wise to be seen as too smart because it turns the boys off. Little does Cyane know her life is about to change.

It a far off land a few millennium back, a young female warrior Samsara (Danielle Cormack) is consulting a medicine man. Her tribe is in trouble and she needs help. She wants him to contact and bring them a legendary warrior, the Atma. So with a bone dagger in one hand and some blood the medicine man begins the spell. Back in LA, Cyane is chatting with her uncle telling him about getting on the cheer leading squad and hitting him up for some money. Her uncle shows her some artifacts he has received including a very familiar bone dagger. When the uncle leaves the lab Cyane picks up the dagger and - poof - she's not in LA anymore. A startled and screaming Cyane appears before Samsara, who is mightily unimpressed by the conjured Atma.

Cyane is taken back to the tribe's cave. There she meets a young girl, Olan (Monica Mcswain), of about her own age that has sidekick tattooed on her forehead (not really). Cyane is of course very confused - she thinks she may have been kidnapped by cultists but when she and her young friend meet up with a saber tooth tiger, she knows she is in the past. Cyane, although wishing to go home, fits rather well into the tribe - there are the requisite scenes where Cyane shows her friend how to chew bubble gum, introduces her to lipstick and saves her friend from the tiger with modern pepper spray . Karina (Claudia Black), the tribe's leader, is the epitome of an earth mother kindly and wise with a gentle sense of humor, she seems willing to accept Cyane as the Atma. The only one not happy is Samsara who finds Cyane woefully inadequate as the Atma. She of course challenges Cyane to a duel - a duel Olan cheerfully informs Cyane she will probably lose and if she does, could she please have her footwear.

Samsara is a formidable warrior but not very bright at times. Cyane cleverly turns the challenge into a foot race much to Karina's amusement and Sam's disgust. During the race Cyane falls into a river and is fished out my Carl Urban, a monosyllabic cute caveman named Kor. Cyane and cave boy are attracted to one another but Sam shows up and tries to kill cave boy. He is saved by Cyane, but since cave boy belongs to an enemy tribe, Cyane is in big trouble. She must face a trial by the tribe.

Karina now explains to Cyane why her actions were so serious. The tribe that cave boy belongs to is composed of vicious cannibals. Karina's tribe once had men in it - they were the beloved husbands, fathers, and sons of the women Cyane now sees. When the woman were off with the medicine man one day, the cannibals attacked the men and killed them all. Samsara who always was with her father saw the whole thing and now is consumed by revenge. The Atma was the one who was to lead them to victory but now she has sided with one of the enemy. Her only chance now is to convince the council to let her live. At the council meeting, Cyane pull out all the stops and using every "can't we all just get along" cliché she convinces the council to let her live. She has however tapped into the tribe's real need to find a way to rebuild its life

The tribe then takes her out on a hunting party to kill wild horses. Cyane not understanding the intent of the hunt joyfully leaps on the back of the lead stallion. The tribe has never seen anyone ride a horse and this confirms his or her belief that she is truly the Atma. She is adopted into the tribe and Cyane becomes concerned about the tribe's well-being. When Olan tells her of the tribe's desire to return to the valley they came from, Cyane devises a plan to give the tribe a tactical advantage. Apparently Olan has a very interesting talent she was the first Pet Psychic, she can talk to animals. So she and Cyane go have a chat with the stallion that leads the horses. The stallion however is not interested in becoming a slave to humans and things get worse when Cyane and Olan are captured by the cannibals.

At the cannibal camp things aren't good. Although Cyane gets a proposal of marriage from cute cave boy her happiness is somewhat dampened by the fact that Olan will be the main course at the wedding reception. Cyane and Olan therefore plot their escape and while Olan makes it Cyane is captured again. Cave boy is ordered to kill her but can't and just in the nick of time Samsara and the female warriors rescue her.

Meanwhile the medicine man, the last male in Karina's tribe, is dying. He gives Cyane the power to return to her home and she does. Although gone for only a moment in present time, Cyane is changed. At cheering leading practice when her friend is harassed by the jock she gives him mean wedgie and makes him apologize. She feels increasingly that she does not belong in the present but that her heart is with the tribe in the past. She decides to return and after thanking her uncle for caring for her, she uses the dagger to return. She is now determined that the tribe will take back the valley.

Once back with the tribe, she and Olan go back to visit the stallion. This time Cyane has a secret weapon - sugar cubes. The stallion now agrees to help Cyane and an ambush is planned. Cannibal tribe now is moving into the valley, and cave boy is now their prisoner. Karina lures the cannibals into battle and just as the women appear to be beaten, Cyane, Samsara, Olan and a host of mounted warriors attack with Cyane shouting "Amazons rule". The cannibals are defeated. Although Samsara wants to massacre to enemy, Karina stops her and Samsara storms off in disgust. Cyane rescues cave boy and sends him off to lead his people in peace. At the celebration that night, Karina declares that from now on her tribe will be known as Amazons and in honor of their dead men folk no man will ever belong to their tribe. The movies ends with Cyane and Olan, sporting a new pair of red sneakers, dancing with the Amazons.

The movie was directed by Michael Hurst and was toughly enjoyable. It had good action sequences and the acting was pretty good. Selma Blair was spunky enough as Cyane, Claudia Black was great, and Daniel Cormack had potential as Cyane's violent rival. The cannibals mostly overacted. It would have been nice to see an action adventure series aimed at pre-teens that emphasized sisterhood and self-reliance but the show didn't fly. I guess there was a feeling that Ren Pictures just had too many similar shows and there is always a concern that boys won't watch action shows with female leads. Also you never can tell how the series would have played out in a half hour format. In my opinion it would have been better than Cleopatra 2525 and Jack Of All Trades.

In all honesty I have to report that other people at the con didn't like the pilot. Others although enjoying the movie didn't think it would fly as a series. I'm just sorry it wasn't given a chance.


Parts of AMAZON HIGH were used in the Xena episode LIFEBLOOD.

06-24-99. AMAZON HIGH has been developed into non-existence. It was completely reworked and amazingly enough came out as CLEOPATRA 2525, a half hour action show that will premiere January 2000, taking over part of HERCULES' hallowed spot.

12-21-98. From R.J. Stewart's (the executive producer of XWP) RealHollywood 12-15-98 chat:

guest1544 asks "What's the latest regarding Amazon High? Will we ever get to see it?"

R.J.Stewart says "There is a success scare about Amazon High, I don't want to jinx it, but you may very well see it soon."

12-21-98. From R.J. Stewart's (the executive producer of XWP) RealHollywood 12-15-98 chat:

ErisGoD asks "What's the deal with 2 Amazon Queens named Cyan? Are they one and the same?"

R.J.Stewart says "Well, this is all explained in Amazon High, however, the original Amazon Queen was named Cyan, so it's a tradition that the Amazon Queen's are "Cyan."...You didn't know that? Ha! It is something we planted in Amazon High and then carried into Xena and not many people have seen AH, so not many understand that."

11-24-98. It's scary...you think the flm is dead and then talk of its existence reappears at a Star Trek Convention -- off all places!!! There was a special presentation about YOUNG HERCULES with producers Liz Friedman and Cynthia Hsiung at a Burbank Star Trek Convention (11-21-98). During the Q&A some information about the mysterious AMAZON HIGH was shared. It had to do with the question of why the name Cyane is common among Amazon Queens. An Amazon Queen in YOUNG HERCULES was named Cyane and the Queen of the Siberian Amazons was named Cyane in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE. Liz Friedman disclosed they were not the same person. Apparently this name phenom is linked to that once and future pilot, AMAZON HIGH. The high school Buffyoid who goes back in time to join in on the formation of the Amazon nation is named Cyane. She at first has a really rough time (as Liz Friedman said, the poor gal no longer has access to a blow dryer), but then eventually matures enough to become the first Queen of the Amazon Nation. And subsequent Queens have taken the name Cyane when they ascended the throne in honor of Buffy, oops, I mean Cyane. Even though, it might be interesting to have an Amazon Queen named Buffy, "My name is Buffy. Does anyone have a problem with that?". Apparently Melosa, Ephiny, and Gabrielle have yet to hear of this hallowed Amazon tradition.

09-29-98. AMAZON HIGH. Does that name ring a bell? Well, IT STILL LIVES!!! Apparently it is cursed in that every time they get a bite, it bites the dust. But our hardy sellers at RenPic are working at selling this soon to be one year old pilot. It may be "underground" at this point, but we are still getting little bits of info about it here and there. For instance, Danielle Cormack mentioned it at the Cherry Hill NJ Con (08/29-30/98). When asked if she'd ever been injured on the show, Danielle said that in one fight scene in AMAZON HIGH she injured not only herself but Karl Urban (playing Kor, the cannibal) as well. During the fight, they both decided to give it their all. Danielle took a head-butt that gave her a black eye, and Karl ended up with a bloody nose.

06-09-98. AMAZON HIGH has been retooled, scored, and is now officially finished. All they need now do is find a buyer for this spanking new RenPic action/adventure show.

05-22-98. AMAZON HIGH is still unsold although there was talk of some offers made. AMAZON is currently being scored and re-tooled. It may even get a name change (which in this reviewer's opinion would be a smart move!). There were also talk of some cast problems and that some actors in the pilot were not going to continue in the hypothetical series, or might even be completely written out in the re-tooling of the pilot. The rumors state that instead of focusing on a high school Buffyesque storyline with two female teens, the show may focus on a Cagney and Laceyesque storyline with two women cops. Bizarre, either way.

Danielle Cormack at the Burbank II Con (01-17-98) stated that AMAZON HIGH was finished and was now in post -production. Also, heard at the con was that AMAZON HIGH is very close to being sold but they are trying to get the best price they can for it. It seems RP is still smarting from being sold down the river from the USA Channel deal (ouch, they sold a #1 program for #3 prices...if you remember, when they sold it, XWP was number three in the syndicated action hours...within six months of the deal XWP was top dog. We know RP works its tail off to give us XENA and HERCULES and I, for one, hope they get a good deal for AMAZON HIGH. It took a while to sell YOUNG HERCULES, but they persisted. Maybe RP can repeat the magic? Stay tuned! BUFFY is starting to do better so who knows, maybe this young chick beating the stuffings out of everyone is a crispy new genre just waiting to be expoited!).

Karl Urban referred to AMAZON HIGH at the Plano (Dallas), TX Creation Con on 01-03-98 as a "chick flick".

Karl Urban reported at WarriorCon (09-13-97) that he would have a small part as a cannibal in the AMAZON HIGH pilot.

The lead actress of AMAZON HIGH is Salma Blair.

Reported from Michael Martinez (michaelm@swcp.com). Apparently Karl Urban told people at WarriorCon (09/97) this past weekend that he has signed a contract to appear in the pilot episode for AMAZON HIGH. For those who came late to the game, here is a summary of what I know about AMAZON HIGH, thanks to Erin and others:

It's a two-hour pilot movie, to be directed by Michael Hurst, about a 20th century teenage girl who somehow goes back in time to circa 4000 BC. The Amazons either lose their men or have just lost them when the girl links up with them. Danielle Cormack (Ephiny on XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS) is also appearing in the movie.


From Laura Sue Dean, 10/28/97. FILMING FOR AMAZON HIGH ended on Oct. 19, while hiatus ended for XWP on the same day.


Dear Laura Sue-
Since you seem to have all the answers in the Xenaverse, I was wondering if you could answer something for me. I've heard that Danielle Cormack will be in it [AMAZON HIGH] but do you know who they have slated to play the 90's high-schooler who is transported to the time of the Amazons? Surely you were up for the role!
-Cyane Wanna-be

Dear Cyane WB:
Laura Sue is *always* up for almost *anything*, darling, but she must admit she is a little behind in her partying. Even an up and coming star has to get her hair done *sometime*. LSD does know however, that the two lead roles in the show have gone to American actresses rather than kiwis. The starlet that is the lead in the show is Salma Blair. (and, yes I asked! She's no relation to Linda!) Obviously they misplaced my number that day... Or.... perhaps they have me in mind for something even *bigger* (can you say "long-term contract"???) Hey, here's a SCOOP for ya! Aside from Dreamy Danielle, look for a familiar "Liz" (and I don't mean Taylor!) Those who know their XENA stars will see some familiar faces in AMAZON HIGH. Do you think you can pick out Karl "Cupid" Urban as a cannibal? Stay tuned!

From Laura Sue Dean, 09/09/97. BACK TO SCHOOL. To follow up a story reported here in NGR, AMAZON HIGH is a go. Lovely Danielle Cormack (Ephiny) has now signed a contract and will be in the pilot AMAZON HIGH (aka "Buffy Meets the Amazon Wimmins") that Renaissance is shooting in New Zealand from 8 September to 19 October.

From Laura Sue Dean, 08/26/1997. AMAZON? NO, YOU? More details on the upcoming show REN PICS is doing for Universal. The story line is basically a modern girl (can you say 'Find me a Buffy- type!'?) finds herself transported back among the Amazons (don't you just hate it when that happens! Especially right before the Prom?). Rob Tapert co-wrote the script and Michael Hurst is going to direct. Hmmmm. I just had a brilliant idea! Could someone remind TPTB that Laura Sue Dean, the Actress, would be PERFECT for the lead...hello? Hello?

BECAUSE I AM TOO BUSY WORKING ON MY NAILS RIGHT NOW, I am going to save us all a lot of time and just reprint the press release about AMAZON HIGH:

'Amazon' to ride on 'Xena's' success by David Walstad from Studio City, Calif (reprinted without permission, just in case you think I wield too much power)

Determined to milk the success of it's top-rated syndicated hours "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" Universal has commissioned a two-hour pilot movie - "Amazon High" - that begins filming in New Zealand, home base of the first two on Sept.15.

"A 17-year old high school girl (named Cyane) in 1998 is transported back to the early days of the Amazons, 4,000 B.C. "says R.J. Stewart who co-wrote the script with fellow "Xena" writer producer's Rob Tapert and Liz Friedman.

Speaking from "Xena's" studios city offices on Wednesday, Stewart notes casting gets underway next week. In addition to Cyane the three other regulars are female warriors age 17, 28, and 30. Keeping it in the family Michael Hurst {Iolaus on Hercules) who has directed episodes of both "Hercules" and "Xena" will direct, supported by some of the hiatus-idled "Xena" crew. "There's interest right now," says an enthusiastic Stewart. "We will be selling it very, very soon."

"Amazon High's" potential launch date and episode length have yet to be determined. Commenting on the genesis and format, he says " What we learned with 'Xena' is having a female lead can be very exciting." "Here we have a cheerleader in the midst of warrior women," says Stewart. In the pilot episode, Stewart says, their men have been wiped out, and the females are on a mission of revenge for them getting killed. "It's a fish out of water concept, yet she (Cyane) fits in. The warrior women and Cyane are going too be battlers of good." Stewart even sees a little of modern gender politics in the "pre-historic" show "It's taking a traditional male world and making it female. Xena is like Clint Eastwood, but she's female. They're like the Texas Rangers, the Three Musketeers, but they're female," he says.


WHEN WILL MATERNAL INSTINCTS PLAY? Some say February, others say October. Ho hum. And of course we have RJ Stewart's intimations that it would be November in his June WHOOSH interview! Are those cuties at RP playing games with us again? First they say MATERNAL INSTINCT is for the November sweeps and now it is for the February Sweeps, and now others sources are saying it will start after THE FURIES .....then it's Amazon High, then Amazon Nation, and now Amazon High again. And Young Hercules? Duh, WHO'S HE? NEVER HEARD OF THE GUY. These people must buy their caviar at the same place where my producer friend buys his!

From Laura Sue Dean, 08/10/1997. AMAZON ALERT!! The REN PIC project "formerly known as" AMAZON HIGH has been re-titled "AMAZON NATION". YES, Danielle Cormark (Ephiny in XWP) has been pitched the idea, but as of yet has seen NO contract! -- Keep eyes peeled on this space for up-to-the-week news about your fave XWP guest stars!


The following WHOOSH! articles discuss AMAZON HIGH:

Editor's Page, Editor's Page , Issue 12 (September 1997)

"News Gossip Rumor", NGR #05, (08-26-97)

Rudnick, Bret, An Interview with Danielle Cormack, Issue 12 (September 1997).

King, Bevis, An Interview with Michael Hurst, Issue 38 (November 1999).

Bret Rudnick, An Interview with Cynthia Hsiung, Issue 29 (February 1999)

Rudnick, Bret, An Interview with Robert Tapert, Issue 52 (Jnauary 2001)


A synopsis review of Amazon High by Cheryl Ande.

Guide Table of ContentsBack to Whoosh!