Monday, January 14, 2008

News - 01/15/08...

Protesting Iraq with Animation And Hip-Hop

“Sorrow of the Soldier” is a one-off animated music video released on the Internet today. The video, which protests the US occupation of Iraq, is a collaboration between a global roster of hip-hop artists from the US, UK, Japan and Europe. The animation by UK artist James Harvey achieves a striking look through mixing an illustrative style with bold graphic symbols, all in black-and-white with well-employed spots of color. The video’s website features multiple remix versions—streaming on YouTube and available for hi-res download. Here’s more about the project from its press release:

The track, ‘Sorrow of the Soldier’ by US Rapper Mark Prysler, tells the story of Lucas, a working-class man who runs out of options in his own life and sees the army as an attractive means of escape. Upon deployment he finds the reality of the Iraq war is far removed from the fantasy sold to him by the Bush administration. The story is an analog for the experiences of many young men and women fighting in Iraq today and the lyrics call for direct action from the government.

Uniquely, the video has been simultaneously released in several different versions, each with a separate audio track by a different global collaborator. Each remix artist was asked to choose a ‘flavour’ to represent themselves on the website. The standout ‘mint’ version features production from Holland’s DJ Donor, who has remixed artists such as Pharrell Williams, while ‘Cheese’ flavour is remixed by Takashi Otagiri, the president of Tokyo Fun Party, a Japan-based dance music collective. More remixes are to be added to the website over the coming month from hip-hop artists from France, Germany, and both east and west coast America.

PGA announces nominees

The Producers Guild of America has announced the nominees for their 19th annual awards. Getting nods in the Producer of the Year Award in Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures category are: Bee Movie, Ratatouille, and The Simpsons Movie. Winners will be announced February 2nd.

Alvin Sinks To Fifth

Alvin and the Chipmunks sank one spot to fifth place in the Jan. 11 weekend box office, with $9.1 million for the three-day period, raising its total to $187.7 million after five weeks of release; its combined worldwide total has hit a spectacular $270 million, according to

One Missed Call, meanwhile, was fading fast, dropping two spots to seventh place with $6.1 million for the weekend and a total after two weeks of $20.6 million.

I Am Legend remained legendary, taking sixth place for the weekend with $8.1 million, boosting its total to $240.2 million after five weeks.

The animated Veggie Tales film The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything debuted in ninth place with an anemic $4.42 million.

The Golden Compass led the rest of the pack with its fourth consecutive second-place finish, grabbing $15 million at 5,600 in 54 territories.

"Legend" and "Compass" have kept international business in the pink for the past month with combined offshore grosses approaching half a billion dollars. "Legend" has earned $218 million internationally, trailing the film's Stateside total by $22 million ($240.2 million); "Compass" has hit $247 million overseas, nearly four times the domestic gross.

Disney's National Treasure: Book of Secrets nearly beat "Compass" for second place with $14.7 million at 4,700 in 31 markets, pushing its foreign total to $127.5 million. The sequel's on track to top Disney's expectations by finishing well above the $174 million international total for National Treasure.

Fox's Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem earned $13 million at 4,300. The movie has collected $53 million internationally.

Disney's Enchanted took in $7.7 million to push the fantasy's foreign total to $152.3 million -- $35 million ahead of the domestic total -- and Paramount's Bee Movie buzzed up $6.5 million at 4,391 for an international total of $141.5 million.

Animated Views meets Steve Anderson and The Robinsons

Animated Views welcomes a new kid on the block today, Media Magic’s Jérémie Noyer, who promises to maintain his continuing stream of warm and knowledgeable interviews, kicking off with an exclusive talk with Meet The Robinsons’ director Steve Anderson! Originally undertaken for the promotion of the DVD release of his movie back in October, the remarkably in-depth discussion finds Anderson speaking at length about coming on board a project that was already in production and being fortuitous in how personally the film’s story resonated with him. A welcome new member of our team, look for many more interviews from Jérémie over the coming weeks!

Jackman's Turning Into Wolverine

With filming starting very soon on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, new photos of Hugh Jackman out and about have surfaced online and it looks like he's definitely ready to reprise the role. Hit the link above to check out the pics.

"Wolverine" is scheduled for a May 1, 2009 release.

Final Justice League Decision Today?

If this Blog post from Entertainment Weekly is true, we would probably either see a full cast announcement on Tuesday for Justice League or hear nothing at all until after the writers strike. The problem is, if the below is not true and we don't hear anything for a long time, fans are still going to assume the studio didn't give the movie the green light:

Holy work-stoppage, Batman! The ongoing WGA strike now has Warner Bros.' superhero bonanza Justice League of America in its crosshairs. A source tells Hollywood Insider that filmmakers would like another script rewrite and are now debating whether to begin shooting without one. The studio has a Jan. 15 deadline to either greenlight League for a spring production start -- meaning a summer '09 release -- or push it into the post-strike ether. (Warner Bros. had no comment.) All seven superheroes have been cast -- among them, Adam Brody, according to one report -- but it remains to be seen whether they'll get to fly this year.

I'll let you know if anything happens.

Animation Mentor Celebrates Graduates with Pete Docter

Last Saturday Pixar’s Pete Docter delivered the commencement address to the graduating class of Animation Mentor, “the online animation school® by animators for animators®”. The following press release summarizes his inspirational remarks:

For Immediate Release


Pixar Director Pete Docter Delivers Commencement Address

Berkeley, CA – January 14, 2008 —, the online animation school® by animators for animators®, celebrated its third commencement Saturday, January 12, in San Francisco. Legendary Pixar Animation Studios filmmaker Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc. and the upcoming 2009 release, Up) delivered the inspirational address, and was joined on stage by distinguished animators from ILM, Pixar Animation Studios and DreamWorks/PDI, all of whom teach at the school. The graduating class was comprised of students from 20 countries and an equal number of states. Animation Mentor propelled more than 80% of its first four classes into coveted studio positions.

Speaking from the heart, Docter urged the graduates, “to be open to whatever life throws at you,” and that “whatever you do, make it your own.” Docter expressed his belief that an animator’s job was to “find a truth in the world that no one else has found and bring it to the screen.” He also emphasized the importance of story, because “without a good story, you’ve got nothing.”

“Pete is a visionary whose artistry helps set the standard for an entire industry,” said Animation Mentor President/CEO, Bobby S. Beck. “His appearance at our graduation with our great professional mentors speaks volumes about the world in which Animation Mentor lives and to which it aspires.”

A three-time Academy-Award® nominee, Docter began his association with Pixar Animation Studios in 1990, working as the supervising animator and a member of the story writing team on the groundbreaking computer-animated film Toy Story. He was a storyboard artist on A Bug’s Life and the storywriter on Toy Story 2. Docter made his directorial debut on Monsters, Inc., the fifth highest grossing animated feature of all time. He is currently in production on the motion picture Up, scheduled for release in 2009.

Animation Mentor’s nontraditional graduation ceremony included an award ceremony that honored the Best Forum Ninja, Biggest Personality in a Live Q&A (real-time, online class), Best Dialogue acting and more. Graduates earned a Certified Diploma in Advanced Studies in Character Animation from the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education.


Based in Berkeley, California, is an online animation school at which top working professionals teach character animation to students worldwide. Opened March 2005, the school offers an eighteen-month program built from the ground up by its founders, Bobby Beck, Shawn Kelly and Carlos Baena, whose combined credits include Ratatouille, Finding Nemo and Transformers.’s California-certified curriculum includes professional mentoring; expert, rich media lectures; live, real-time, interactive Q&A sessions (classes); eCritiques® and 24/7 creative community. More information at: animationmentor,com.


Pixar Animation Studios, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is an Academy Award®-winning film studio with world-renowned technical, creative and production capabilities in the art of computer animation. Creator of some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, and most recently, Ratatouille. The Northern California studio has won 20 Academy Awards® and its eight films have grossed more than $4 billion at the worldwide box office to date. The next film release from Disney•Pixar is WALL•E (June 27, 2008).

Director Peter Docter (Monsters, Inc.), who calls himself the World’s Tallest Animator, delivers the inspirational address at Animation Mentor’s graduation Ceremony Saturday, January 12 in San Francisco.

Toon Tuesday : Disney's Night School

Disney Legend Floyd Norman reminisces about the after-hours animation classes that used to be offered on the Disney lot back in the 1950s

Did you know Walt Disney Studios once provided what could be considered the finest animation course ever offered? That's right, kids. If you've shelled out the big bucks for an animation education at such institutions as California Institute of the Arts or Sheridan College, you might be surprised to learn that Disney once provided all this and more at absolutely no cost.

What was this animation course? Well, back in the 1950s, Disney's animation staff included 600 talented artists, most of who were laboring away on "Sleeping Beauty." The rest divided their time on the ABC television show, "Disneyland," or the rapidly diminishing shorts program. Yet, even back then when the Nine Old Men and many others were still going strong, Disney came to realize they would soon need to replenish the ranks if animated film making was to continue.

Walt Disney Studios in 1956, when we were young and no one worried about box office.

Ah, I sure miss those days.

Those of you who know your Mouse House history will remember that Walt Disney encouraged his artists to attend night classes at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. Walt Disney even took the time to drive some of his young artists to class in the evening. But now, the Disney Studios was in no need of an outside teaching staff because the company had over time developed one of its own. After all, if you were looking for brilliant animators, gifted layout artists and awesome background painters, where would you go? The Walt Disney Studios had all this talent under one roof.

Though the studio offered this incredible opportunity, few artists took advantage of it. To be fair, most artists were probably beat after a long day at work, and looked forward to going home and being with their families. So despite an animation staff that numbered in the hundreds, only a couple dozen of us decided to attend "night school."

The classes would begin at seven, so that gave all of us a chance to run down to Bob's Big Boy (yes, it was there even back then) for a quick bite. After dinner, we rushed back to the Disney lot to begin another evening of instruction. Most of my classmates were pretty young. The older employees were married and had other responsibilities. The women, as usual, were few in number.

The classes were usually held in one of the large screening rooms on the third floor of the Animation Building. Tonight, our instructor was the talented Joshua Meador, one of Disney's premiere effects animators. Josh was also an accomplished painter, and loved using a palette knife rather than a brush. Meador was also the creator of those wonderful animated introductions preceding Disney's True-Life Adventure series. Josh let us in on the secrets that made Disney's effects animation better than any other studio in town.

We were all smiles back in 1956, because our animation future never looked brighter.
Animator Jack Foster. Photo by Floyd Norman

On another occasion, our instructor was the great layout artist Ken O'Connor who looked more like a science professor than an animation artist. O'Connor was responsible for the incredible design and layout in the "Fantasia" segment, "Dance of the Hours." Of course, practically all of the original artwork was still available, and Ken took us through every step of the design and development of "Dance of the Hours."

Of course, animation was the main focus of this series of classes. The majority of our class members aspired to be animators one day, so a rigorous series of pencil animation tests were required. I still remember being impressed by the work of young John Sparey, who went on to become a talented animator and is regarded by many as one of the industries' finest. However, I still cringe when I remember my early attempts at animation. I was awful, and I'm glad my future wasn't determined by those early tests.

Not all of Disney's Nine Old Men participated in this mentoring program. However, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston seem to excel at teaching. I remember one evening these two animation greats made it clear that not everyone has the chops to become a director. They made their point by screening a short cartoon called "The Golden Touch" that was directed by none other than the boss, himself. I'm still amazed that Frank and Ollie could take a few shots at Walt Disney without suffering retribution.

I thought I was fairly knowledgeable concerning Disney history, but I still had a lot to learn. Animator Bob McCrea took us through the turbulent years of Disney's struggle to survive as a company. World War II lost Walt half of his film market, and being taken over by the military proved to be a blessing in disguise. For decades the Disney company teetered on the brink of bankruptcy, and the famous 1941 strike proved to be a college course in of itself.

As we worked and learned our craft on "Sleeping Beauty," no one saw the massive layoffs that would follow that film's release.
Animator Bill Eigle. Photo by Floyd Norman

As you can imagine, this Disney night course was a master class in animation. Those who took advantage of this opportunity were mentored by no less than the finest animation artists in the industry. In time, the pressures of completing "Sleeping Beauty" brought an end to Disney's night school. Now, being at the studio after-hours meant you were probably working overtime.

Those of us who attended "night school" at the Mouse House were a lucky bunch of kids. A day at Disney in the 1950s was pretty darn good. But, I gotta admit, sometimes the nights were even better.

Perlman Talks Hellboy Game

Ron Perlman, who plays the title role in the upcoming sequel film Hellboy II: The Golden Army, told SCI FI Wire that he also voiced the character in Konami Digital Entertainment's Hellboy: The Science of Evil video game in part because of director Guillermo del Toro's participation.

"I do not play video games, so I am unfamiliar with the finished product of the Hellboy game,” Perlman said in a recent e-mail interview. "I can only judge it on the level of what my experience acting the roles offered to me was like. And I thought the writing for the game was smart and well realized, with the extra added attraction of Guillermo's personal involvement in the project.”

Konami enlisted Hellboy director del Toro, who's an avid gamer, and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola to work on the new game, which ships in June.

The game features a new story not tied to the upcoming sequel film, which continues the adventures of Red and the team from the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

"Anything that contributes to the general public's engagement and interest in as beloved a character as Hellboy is to me is of major concern," Perlman said, adding: "I, too, would like to reach the broadest audience possible."

Perlman also voices the big red demon in the upcoming animated Hellboy TV movie The Phantom Claw, a follow-up to Hellboy: Storm of Swords and Hellboy: Blood and Iron.


Double Double Toil and Trouble? Two DEATHLY HALLOWS?

Word is that the crew of the Potter series have been told to plan for the final book, THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, to be filmed and released as two movies. Apart from an obvious financial angle, this also makes a whole lot of sense considering just how dense and long the final book is. I love it and I love the idea of doing the book justice with more screen time dedicated to the adaptation, just as long as they release the movies MATRIX-like within a few months of each other. I think it'd also make the release of the final chapter of this huge franchise a little more special, too... makes it more of an event.

I've loved the Potter books and movies both, but there hasn't been one that has gotten it completely right. For my money, AZKABAN was the best movie of the series, but there are places I wish even that had explored more (like the origin of the Map). Overall, I love the increasing darkness of the movies so far... and my favorite reads are Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows, both of which are still to come.

It's exciting times and I can't wait to see what develops.

Avi Melman Returns to Discuss Animated Werewolves in Guardians of Luna

In November '06, I spoke to Avi Melman, the CEO of CyberGraphix and the producer of werewolf/action animated series Guardians of Luna. At the time, Guardians of Luna looked like one of the bright spots of the horizon for genre fans who follow animated projects. Since then, Guardians of Luna has evolved, and remained a series that looks like it is worth anticipating. Avi Melman has agreed share an update.

Keri Russell is Wonder Woman!

TV Guide is reporting that Keri Russell has been cast as Wonder Woman... no, not in Justice League or a stand-alone WW movie, but as the voice in Warner Home Video's straight-to-DVD animated Wonder Woman movie coming to stores in late '08/early '09.

The direct-to-DVD titles kicked-off with Superman: Doomsday last September and will continue with Justice League: New Frontier (Feb. 26) and Batman: Gotham Knight.

Clowes To Pen Gondry Father/Son Duo's Animated Feature

Michel Gondry has confirmed that his past collaborator on such films as GHOST WORLD and ART SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL, Daniel Clowes, will pen the script for his and his son Paul's animated feature, reports /

Based on Paul's universe, which Gondry described as a cross between REN & STIMPY and gangster films, the film, MIGEL MUNYA, follows a dictator who kills his people if they create art that is better than his own.

Paul, who is 16 years old, is a published comicbook author, who in 2007 made an animated music video for the Willowz's "Take a Look Around" track.

Terminator Destroys Competition

Fox's Sunday debut of "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" scored the best opening night demographic ratings of any new show in three years, while NBC's not-so-lustruous Golden Globes special barely registered with audiences, reports Variety.

Boosted by strong marketing and a big NFL playoffs lead-in, the Warner Bros. TV-produced "Terminator" notched an eye-popping 7.6 rating/18 share among adults 18-49 and delivered around 18.3 million viewers with its one-hour premiere Sunday at 8.

By contrast, the WGA and SAG-boycotted Golden Globes announcement special on NBC settled for an abysmal 1.7/4 in the demo and 5.8 million viewers. That's even fewer viewers than last-week's star-less "People's Choice Awards" on CBS, though the Globes special did a hair better in the demographic.

The one-hour special even dipped at the half-hour mark, indicating auds didn't even want to stick around to see who won best picture--or maybe realized they could find out the winners faster by tuning to E!, which aired the half-hour official Globes press conference live.

"Terminator" gave Fox its best premiere numbers for a scripted show in eight years, since "Malcolm in the Middle" became an instant hit on a January Sunday night in 2000.

"Terminator" also ended the two-week reign of "American Gladiators" as the season's biggest premiere. Fox’s scripted series outdrew "Gladiators" by 30 percent in the demographic and by 50 percent in overall viewers.

The show shifts into its Monday slot tonight. The network has eight episodes in the can.

'American Gladiators' Animated Series in the Works

Bolstered by the high ratings of the re-launched American Gladiators on NBC, series owner MGM has announced plans for an animated series based on the property working along with Johnny Ferraro, owner of Flor-Jon, Films Inc (producers of the original American Gladiators series).

No other information is currently available at this time.

The 2002 version of "He-Man" Coming to DVD

BCI has announced it'll release the 2002 version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe on DVD. The first Volume is set to be released on February 19th.

The first set will contain all 13 episodes from the first season that aired on Cartoon Network, and each episode will contain a different moral that has never been shown during Cartoon Network's airing.

Also included is audio commentaries with the creative team, scripts for all 13 episodes, a Comic-Con panel, and each episode is available on a widescreen format.

The Box set will be out on February 19.

See the Press Release here.

Jazz trumpeting great Pete Candoli dead at 84

Preeminent jazz trumpeter Pete Candoli, a member of the Dixieland ensemble that played on DePatie-Freleng Enterprises' The Ant and the Aardvark cartoons, has died at 84.

In the 1969-71 cartoon series, Candoli was joined by drummer Shelly Manne, guitarist Tommy Tedesco, bassist Ray Brown, pianist Jimmy Rowles and trombonist Billy Byers.

Though uncredited, he and his fellow musicians were also heard in the 1969 Pink Panther cartoon Extinct Pink.

Candoli began playing lead and jazz for Sonny Dunham's Orchestra in 1941, followed by a long string of other name bands, including Woody Herman's famed "First Herd." He settled into the studio scene in the 1950s after tenures with Herman, Tex Beneke, Jerry Gray and Stan Kenton, among others.

He and his trumpeter brother Conte -- four years his junior -- also co-led a band from 1957 to 1962.

As a preeminent lead trumpeter, he played for the orchestras of Alex Stordahl, Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle, Don Costa, Michel LeGrand and Henry Mancini, as well as Frank Sinatra. He also played lead with the Shorty Rogers Big Band.

Candoli's association with top bands reads like a "Who's Who" of jazz. He was featured with Tommy Dorsey, Glenn Miller, Les Brown, Count Basie, Freddy Slack and Charlie Barnet.

He was born Walter Joseph Candoli in Mishawaka, Indiana on June 28, 1923, and was most recently a resident of Studio City, California.

Equally expert with classical music and pop, he conducted music seminars and concerts at some 30 universities and colleges when not playing a jazz festival, concert or nightclub somewhere. He worked over 5,000 record dates.

Candoli composed and arranged music and conducted for Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee, among others. Having played first trumpet for Igor Stravinsky's "Ebony Concerto," written for the Woody Herman Orchestra, he received much acclaim for his versatility as a solo trumpeter.

He won awards as outstanding trumpet player from Downbeat and Metronome magazines, two of the most prestigious publications in the music business. He also won the Esquire and Look magazine awards as one of the seven all-time outstanding jazz trumpet players (the other six were Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Harry James, Bunny Berigan, Dizzy Gillespie and Bobby Hackett).

With his brother, he was inducted into the International Jazz Hall of Fame in 1997. He was named to the Big Band Hall of Fame in 2003.

"I'm radical! I never play the same jazz thing twice!", Candoli once asserted of hs technique. "I'm like a chameleon and I play what I feel, although I may favor some patterns. Also, I'm a little staccato -- on edge of my fiery type of playing."

His three marriages ended in divorce. He was married to actress Vicky Lane from 1953 to 1958 and Betty Hutton from 1960 to 1964. His last marriage, to singer-actress Edie Adams (Ernie Kovacs' widow), lasted from 1972 to 1989.

Pete Candoli had two daughters: Tara, by Lane (who died in 1983), and Carolyn, by Hutton (who died last March of colon cancer). He is survived by Adams.

His brother Conte died of cancer in 2001.

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