Monday, January 21, 2008

News - 01/21/08...

Allan Melvin (1922-2008)

Character actor Allan Melvin - the voice of Magilla Gorilla - has passed away at age 84.

He provided numerous voices for Hanna Barbera characters, including Punkin' Puss on The Magilla Gorilla Show, as well as significant parts on The Banana Splits, Hong Kong Phooey and Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. He was also the voice of the title character in Sid and Marty Krofft's live-action/puppet show, H.R. Pufnstuf, as well as Bluto on Hanna-Barbera’s All New Popeye Hour and Popeye and Son. On camera, Melvin is best known as Sam The Butcher on The Brady Bunch and Cpl. Henshaw on The Phil Silvers Show. He died on Thursday January 17th of cancer, said his wife of 64 years, Amalia.

'Cloverfield' pulls down monster $41M

The creature-feature "Cloverfield" became the first monster hit released in 2008, debuting with $41 million, a record opening for January, according to studio estimates Sunday.

Paramount's tale of a giant reptile causing chaos in New York City surpassed the $35.9 million premiere weekend of the "Star Wars" special edition in 1997, the previous best for January.

Opening in second-place was 20th Century Fox's romantic comedy "27 Dresses," starring Katherine Heigl as a perpetual bridesmaid. It pulled in $22.4 million.

The weekend's other new wide release, Overture Films' crime comedy "Mad Money," with Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes plotting a Federal Reserve Bank heist, opened at No. 7 with $7.7 million.

Featuring a cast of unknowns, "Cloverfield" tells its monster story from the perspective of a partygoer's hand-held video camera, which captures the mayhem as the creature tears through the city.

The film benefited from cryptic marketing that sent young moviegoers on a scavenger hunt to decode clues about the movie's plot, images and even its title, which was not confirmed until shortly before its release.

"As we started it, we asked, how do we draw people in and have them say, `Hey, I want to know more about that. That looked cool, that looked intriguing,'" said Rob Moore, Paramount vice chairman. "Then fortunately, they delivered a movie that was as unique and engaging as people had hoped from the marketing campaign."

Following Heigl's success with last summer's hit "Knocked Up," "27 Dresses" solidifies the "Grey's Anatomy" co-star as a big-screen star.

While "Cloverfield" was more a movie for young males, "27 Dresses" sewed up the women's audience, the two films giving Hollywood a huge lift during what is normally a sleepy time for new releases.

"This is almost like a summer weekend," said 20th Century Fox distribution executive Chris Aronson. "It's almost a counter-programming move where you have two pictures aimed squarely, at least initially, at different audiences, and they both succeeded."

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released Tuesday.

1. "Cloverfield," $41 million.
2. "27 Dresses," $22.4 million.
3. "The Bucket List," $15.2 million.
4. "Juno," $10.3 million.
5. "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," $8.1 million.
6. "First Sunday," $7.8 million.
7. "Mad Money," $7.7 million.
8. "Alvin and the Chipmunks," $7 million.
9. "I Am Legend," $5.1 million.
10. "Atonement," $4.8 million.

Individuality VS Standardization

An old, yet interesting post on John K's blog, which still rings true today...

Curious Pictures Changes Direction

Curious Pictures, animation producer for such series as Sheep in the Big City, Codename: Kids Next Door and Little Einsteins, has made some changes to its commercial directorial roster. Mary Knox, exec producer for commercials, announced today that the team of Disney-trained animators Saul Blinkoff and Elliot Bour will be embarking on solo directorial careers. In addition, Inner Circle Collective, formed by directors Dennis Go and Kevin Robinson, is disbanding.

Curious Pictures will continue to represent and produce for Blinkoff. His reel includes award-winning animation work for such brands as Dunkin’ Donuts, Mercedes, EA Sports, Best Buy and MTV. The last project he and Bour directed together was animation for a new American Legacy Foundation anti-smoking campaign for Arnold in Boston. That spot is scheduled to air soon.

Work produced by Inner Circle Collective includes spots for Citibank, retailer A. J. Wright and Ronzoni pasta. Their last job was a new branding campaign for Turner Classic Movies and its 30 Days of Oscar broadcasts. Curious Pictures will represent and produce for its successor team, which is dubbed Fresh Paint and consists of Robinson and director Mike Papagni.

French Shows Have Madrid Rendez-Vous

Organized by TV France International, this year’s Madrid Rendez-Vous kicks off on Monday, Jan 22, putting 29 French companies together with program buyers from Spanish television channels. Presented in collaboration with the French Embassy in Spain, the two-day event is expected to draw more than 50 acquisition execs to the Miguel Angel Occidental Hotel.

In 2006, the Spanish market represented more than 12.7% of French television sales in Western Europe, with acquisitions totalling approximately $9.14 million, That compares with roughly 8% and 5.34million in 2005. In the kids' programming category, Taffy Ent.’s Code Lyoko achieved a 46.7% market share on TV Galicia and on K3-33, while Xilam’s The New Adventures of Lucky Luke managed a 44.2% market share.

Among the significant sales made during the Biarritz Rendez-Vous in September of 2007 were Catalan channel TV3’s purchases of Tafy Ent.’s Growing up Creepie, season two of Futurikon’s Chasseurs de dragons (Dragon Hunters), and Mediatoon International Distribution’s Time Jam. Xilam, Futurikon and Mediatoon are returning for this year’s event, joining 1such other top French production and distribution companies as Marathon International, Carrere Group, Celluloid Dreams, Europe Images International/M5 Films Distribution, MK2, RFO, ZED, Upside TV and Zorn Production International.

Yes, But is It Animation?

All images © 2007 Paramount Pictures and Shangri-La Ent., LLC. All rights reserved.

With the growth of motion/performance capture, Oscar-winning animator Gene Deitch contemplates the future of animation.

AWN Headline News

George of the Jungle: Hey, Watch Out for that Revamp

All images © & ™ 2008 Cartoon Network.

Joe Strike swings through the jungles of production (misses a tree) and finds the details behind Classic Media's revamp of the TV classic, George of the Jungle.

Lawmaker claims boy took his own life for Naruto

Claiming that an elementary schoolboy committed suicide because of Naruto, a parliamentarian has called on the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (also known as the KPI) to be more vigilant when it comes to evaluating Japanese anime films.

"Look at Naruto. The story contains violence and caused a boy to take his own life," said Indonesian lawmaker Mutammimul Ula, of the conservative Prosperous Justice Party.

"Many people still don't realize that comics are not necessarily for children," the country's Antara news agency on Friday quoted Ula as saying. "That very much depends on the substance."

Mutammimul urged the KPI to be stricter in monitoring and controlling TV programs. "The question is why the KPI was so powerless in responding to the situation," he said.

Violent cartoons worry parents in India -- study

Violence in TV cartoons concerns parents in India who want it cut back, according to a study by Manisha Goel of Delhi's Lady Irwin College.

"Most parents said violence in cartoons should be reduced. Children aspire to be like the characters, imitate their actions and language," said Goel in the study, "Animated Cartoons: Capturing Children's Imagination."

Many parents in India have turned off popular cartoon channels because older children have fought their younger siblings in imitation of cartoon characters taking on the villains. Also imitating the toons, children have also teased classmates, threatening revenge, and talked like such characters as misbehaving youngster Shin Chan, star of anime series Crayon Shin-chan.

"After watching the cartoons, my son begins to act like the characters, making filthy comments and arguing," said Shalini Oberoi, mother of two boys. "It has been five months now since I blocked the channel," the Hindustan Times, an English-language New Delhi paper, quoted her Friday as saying.

Her friends have blocked some cartoon channels, as well, Oberoi said.

Some staff members at Hans Raj Model School decided collectively to block certain cartoon channels and programs at their own homes.

"There is a rise in aggression," said child psychologist Geetanjali Kumar, who conducted a study on how cartoons affect children's behavior.

Kumar said that cartoons affect language, concentration and dietary habits of children, who are learning to tease and take revenge.

Kirti Iyer, a social worker at Springdales School, said that parents have told her about increasing cartoon violence.

"The superhero shows are especially violent. Parents are concerned about rising levels of aggression among children," she said.

Charity blames "Ratatouille" for abandoned rats

"Ratatouille" is bringing out unwanted rats, alleges a British animal charity that's received 40 of the abandoned rodents since Christmas.

Released just before Christmas in Britain, Ratatouille features an animated rat called Remy, who lives in the French countryside, and who travels to Paris in hopes of becoming a chef.

After seeing the Pixar-Disney film, children wanted pet rats, but they dumped them later, said Animals Need Nurturing and Adoption, based in Irthlingborough, Northamptonshire.

The charity is caring for abandoned rats at its center.

The animals need to be cared for, and not just at Christmas, said spokesman Petrina Alderman.

"I think some of it [the increase in the number of rats being handed to the shelter] is due to the film Ratatouille," the BBC quoted her Friday as saying. "They are alive, and they deserve more than people are giving them."

The Hard Lessons of Kwicky Koala

There are certain details of animation history that have always bothered me. For example, how did Tex Avery, arguably the greatest animation director of all-time, end his illustrious career? The answer is that he created a character called Kwicky Koala, who appeared in a 1981 Hanna-Barbera TV series of the crudest variety. Recently a bunch of Kwicky Koala shorts have found their way online and as expected, they are dreadful, though perhaps no more so than any other piece of Hanna-Barbera flotsam pulled from their vast sea of mediocrity. What makes these particular cartoons so painful to watch is the knowledge of who was making them. In what other art form could the creator of genius such as this, this, and this also have his name attached as the creator of these? Only in animation.

What’s troublesome is how the animation world has never bothered to make a distinction between its true auteurs and its workaday hacks, forcing each and every one to work on product of the most degrading sort. In live-action, by contrast, a Robert Altman or Eric Rohmer or Woody Allen can continue expressing themselves artistically right until the very end because there are enough people on the business end who recognize the value (financial though it may be) of supporting these artists.

While I was researching the life of writer and board artist John Dunn, I was granted access to his diaries and gained a good understanding of his feelings about working on the cheap animation of the Seventies and Eighties. Dunn, in fact, worked briefly with Avery at Hanna-Barbera on the “Dino and the Cavemouse” shorts, and he notes in his diary having conversations with Avery about the pitiful state of their industry. The studio veterans of that era certainly weren’t naive; they were aware of the hopelessly Sisyphean task of creating anything of quality or value. And yet artists like Avery and Dunn continued working up until the very end because they loved the art form so dearly. Avery, who passed away while working on Kwicky, was well past the age of retirement at the time—72-years-old.

It makes one wonder: If the animation world can so casually discard one of its most distinguished practitioners and relegate him to working in the trash heap of television, what hope is there for everybody else? It’s a blight on the collective art form and industry that it has never been able to provide decent creative outlets to its artists who truly deserve them. It happened then, and I see it happening with alarming frequency today. Granted, an artist always has the option of charting their own course as an independent, but the fact of the matter is that an industry which consistently fails to recognize the value of the people working within it is an unhealthy industry that cannot be expected to advance or prosper.

There is nothing more depressing than watching the credits of oldschool Hanna-Barbera, DePatie-Freleng and Filmation shows and seeing the names of Golden Age artists scroll by, one after the other, a rollcall of beat down artists who had no option but to submit to the thankless art they had chosen as their life’s calling. Is it any wonder that so many of them, Dunn and Avery included, drowned their sorrows in drink? (Occasionally, a sympathetic younger artist like Richard Williams would throw them a lifeline, such as when he recruited animators like Ken Harris, Grim Natwick and Art Babbitt to work on his feature The Thief and the Cobbler, and boy, did they shine when given the chance, but such opportunities were few and far between.)

So has animation learned from its past? Is our industry diverse enough today to support and utilize the wide range of talents working within it? Twenty years from now, will we be looking at the credits of Bee Movie, Open Season, and Chicken Little with a similarly sad lament? And more importantly, does anybody even know who Tex Avery is in 2008? Questions worth considering as we move forward.

PULSE News Talks to Alan Burnett About Justice League in Comics and "The Batman"'s PULSE News has interviewed writer Alan Burnett about his brief stint writing DC Comics' Justice League of America, comparing the experience to his job writing for animated shows like Static Shock and The Batman. Burnett notes how his animation writing got him the job writing the comic, how he and regular series writer Dwayne McDuffie collaborated, and how writing a comic is different from writing a TV show. He also confirms that McDuffie will return as the main writer for the comic after issue #19.

At the tail-end of the interview, Burnett also states that the February 2 episode of The Batman will be the last non-team-up episode, and briefly discusses who will be appearing in the next few episodes. He also expresses doubt that The Batman will lead up to a new Justice League animated series.

Aussie Government Denies Killing Justice League

Remember that the Hollywood trades said "the studio cited script issues as the one of the causes and the other is that the project needed tax breaks from shooting in Australia"?

That doesn't appear to be the case. Variety reports:

The Oz government is looking for some justice.

Warner Bros. last week cited tax break complications as one reason for putting a hold on the Down Under shoot of "Justice League." But Oz officials say that's not the case, mate.

"We understand the postponement of filming is absolutely confined to creative issues and especially to delays in refining the script due to the writers' strike," says a spokeswoman for arts minister Peter Garrett.

Bay on Prepping Transformers 2 During Strike

Director Michael Bay told Variety that he has been preparing to get the Transformers sequel into production, strike or no strike.

"We knew from early on that the writers strike could get ugly, and this has got to bring a little sanity to the situation," Bay said. "I can't do the movie without my writers, but I have been prepping. I'm not in the guild, but I've been writing every day. This strike (is) insane, and a director's responsibility is to the 50 crew members who depend on you for their livelihoods. We've got battle plans ready for the possibility of an actors strike. Somehow, you've got to keep the ball rolling."

Hopefully the Directors Guild of America's tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers will lead to agreements with the Writers Guild of America and Screen Actors Guild as well.

EXCLUSIVE: G.I. Joe's DUKE Down To Three Choices!

There has been A LOT of really good noise being made on G.I. JOE recently and in due time I will give my thoughts overall on what I think. All I’m gonna say, to borrow a word from Devin’s vocabulary, is that Joe fans are going to have a “geekgasm” with what I hear is cooking in the G.I. JOE pan. I know I have been a mute lately when it comes to all the recent developments on this project, but good things come to those who wait so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I leave you with this…

It's official. SAM WORTHINGTON is out because James Cameron kept pushing the end date for AVATAR. It was a scheduling issue.

They went back to the drawing board and got the role of DUKE down to three choices…

Here they are…




What do you guys think?

Me personally I like the choices in that order above. I’m not really feeling Matthew Fox. Chris Evans was dope in Danny Boyle’s SUNSHINE and showed me that dash of leadership in that film that leads me to believe he can lead the G.I. JOE team.

Alphanim Eyes Future Features

Paris-based animation producer Alphanim, which was recently acquired by Gaumont, is planning to branch out to feature animation and live-action children's programming, reports KIDSCREEN. While it will take some time to restructure the company following the quickly concluded acquisition, Alphanim founder Christian Davin said that they were planning a series of full-length CGI movies to follow the success of their 2006 feature FRANKLIN AND THE TURTLE LAKE TREASURE. However, the new direction won't slow down their series production, which will continue at the rate of five animated series a year. Alphanim also will take advantage of Gaumont's distribution expertise to expand sales of properties such as GALACTIK FOOTBALL and ROBOTBOY.

Cartoons and Brew

Animator Dan Meth is hosting his second annual Drinking and Drawing event in both New York City and Portland Oregon next Wednesday

The sad truth is that alcohol was the vice of choice for many of our animation heroes of the 1930s, 40s and ’50s. And of course, drinking made its way into the cartoons themselves, dating back way before Prohibition was lifted. Scrappy, Buddy, Woody Woodpecker and Betty Boop (to name a few) all made cartoons with beer gags - or about making beer itself. Matthew Hunter recently compiled this clip reel of drinking gags from early 30s Warner Bros. cartoons:

Even the Flintstones did a special Busch Beer promotional episode. Perhaps it’s no surprise that there is a beer in Germany called “Animator” (Hacker-Pschorr Animator) — and there’s even a wine in Europe featuring Goofy on the label (label below)!

But honestly, I don’t think any character drank more than Magoo:

The Drinking and Drawing events commence January 23rd at 8PM. In New York it’s happening at the M1-5 Bar in lower Manhattan (52 Walker St. @ Church St.). To participate in NYC you need to RSVP: savemeaplace ( at ) frederator (dot) com. In Portland it’s being held at the Someday Lounge 125 NW 5 Avenue. RSVP to cascadesiggraph ( at ) gmail (dot) com by January 22nd at noon.

Michelle Monaghan Talks Wolverine

Last week, it was rumored that Michelle Monaghan was up for the role of Silver Fox in 20th Century Fox's "X-Men" spin-off, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, to be directed by Gavin Hood and starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

On Friday, we got a chance to talk to Monaghan on the set of her upcoming thriller, Eagle Eye, and she confirmed that she is up for the role.

"They've asked me to do it," she said. I really like Hugh Jackman and it's areally, really great franchise and stuff. I think we're going to have to work on dates and see if it conflicts. We'll see."

Don't know much about Silver Fox? Click here for a full rundown of the character. The studio is targeting a May 1, 2009 release date for "Wolverine."

Shatner Unveils Trek Tour

Original Star Trek star William Shatner waxed nostalgic about the franchise as he unveiled a multimedia touring exhibition of Trek memorabilia in Long Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17.

"I must tell you I walked in this morning and went to look at the bridge and felt this surge of nostalgia," Shatner told reporters in a news conference in the Queen Mary Dome, referring to a re-creation of the original bridge of the starship Enterprise. "It was quite incredible. I hadn't been on the bridge set ... since I made the last movie."

Shatner is the official ambassador for the exhibition, called Star Trek the Tour, which has its North American debut in the California city through Feb. 17 before moving to San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago and Detroit.

It wasn't all a pleasurable trip down memory lane, Shatner joked. "I looked over at the uniform that I was supposed to have worn back 40 years ago, and I thought, 'That couldn't be me.' [It was] a little small," he said, evoking laughter from the crowd of journalists.

The tour, produced by SEE Touring Productions and presented by Metropolitan Talent, features re-creations of several Trek sets, including the bridges of the original Enterprise and The Next Generation's Enterprise D. The 50,000-square-foot exhibition includes costumes, props, ships and other items from all five Trek TV shows and 10 movies. The tour also features a multimedia theater and several flight-simulator rides.

Shatner was eventually asked about the upcoming 11th movie, a reboot of the franchise by director J.J. Abrams. Will he appear in it? "I think they're about halfway through shooting, something like that, or coming toward the end," Shatner said. "They've got another three weeks to hire me [laughs]. I don't think you'll be seeing me, unfortunately. I would love to have been in it. For some reason, I'm not. I don't know the reason why. But I'm sure it'll be a wonderful film, and I wish them all the best. I only hope that Star Trek continues." Star Trek the Tour opened Jan. 18.

Max Fleischer Getting Spotlight at Anima 2008

The films of Max Fleischer will be showcased at Belgium's Anima 2008 festival, which runs from February 1st through the 9th, AWN reports. Fleischer's work will be represented with a collection of short films and two features.

The festival will also include a look at Polish animation and showings of Le Chevalier d'Eon and The Pixar Story, among other films. Anima 2008 will open with a screening of Fear(s) of the Dark and the children's fillm Max & Co.

Shrek of Arabia: DreamWorks Plans Dubai-Based Theme Park

DreamWorks Animation is partnering with Dubai Holding's Tatweer subsidiary to create a DreamWorks-branded theme park and other DreamWorks-related properties in Dubai, Dubai City Guide reports. The theme park will feature attractions based on Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and other DreamWorks films. Restaurants, hotels, and retail outlets are also planned.

New Line’s Inkheart Pushed Way Back

It’s in the can, but New Line’s family fantasy flick Inkheart is being pushed from its original release date of March 18 to January of 2009. According to Daily Variety, the Brendan Fraser vehicle is being shuffled around because the studio feels it can’t market it properly with TV networks losing viewers due to the writers’ strike.

Based on the young-adult book trilogy by Cornelia Funke, Inkheart is the story of a 12-year-old girl whose father discovers he has the ability to bring storybook characters to life while reading to his daughter. One day, he reads a book titled Inkheart and accidentally brings its villain, Capricorn, into the real world and sends his wife to the storybook realm. Years later, Capricorn finds the man and seeks to harness his abilities for evil deeds, and uses his daughter for bait.

Andy Serkis plays Capricorn in the film, which also stars Jim Broadbent, Paul Bettany and Helen Mirren. The studio reportedly wanted a more bankable star for the role of Mo Folchart, but hired Fraser at the insistence of Funke, who dedicated one of the books in the series to the actor. Visual effects were created by Framestore-CFC, Double Negative, Rainmaker, Cinesite, Peerless Camera Company and Glassworks.

The movie is being pushed back nearly a year because Fraser has two other fantasy films scheduled for release in 2008. New Line’s Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D is slated to hit theaters on July 11, and Universal’s sequel The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor opens in theaters in Aug. 1.

Konami Brings Terror to Wii

Leading game developer and publisher Konami is bringing a coin-operated arcade favorite to Nintendo’s Wii console with the relaunch of Target: Terror. The gonzo 2004 game from developer Raw Thrills features images of George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden, and depicts airplanes crashing into the White House. Konami’s version, which hits retail on March 18, will probably be a bit more reverent.

Target: Terror puts the player in the role of an elite anti-terrorist agent who is charged with protecting the U.S. from all terrorist activities. With a full-scale assault spanning the entire U.S., gamers work to eliminate the seemingly endless waves of enemies with an assortment of high-tech weapons. A special edition titled Target: Terror Gold rewarded arcade players with medals and bonus mini-games.

On the Wii, the shooting action will be enhanced with the Wii Zapper, which stands in for the arcade light-gun. The game will also offer “Justice Mode,” a new, single player experience that allows the use of two guns for gun fights right out of an action movie. Unlockable mini-games will add a humor as they creatively reinterpret many classic games.

Zack Snyder's Watchmen Storyboards

Watchmen director Zack Snyder has posted a new update on the official website for the graphic novel adaptation. He talks about the storyboards he creates and how they play a big role in the production. Snyder even shows you two storyboard pages, so don't miss the update here .

Scheduled for a March 6, 2009 release, the Warner Bros. pic stars Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Matthew Goode, Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Malin Akerman, Carla Gugino, Stephen McHattie and Matt Frewer.

Suzanne Pleshette, 70, was "Bob Newhart's wife"

Beautiful, husky-voiced Suzanne Pleshette, who played Bob Newhart's sharp-tongued wife Emily Hartley onsardonic wife on The Bob Newhart Show, died early Thursday evening at 70.

The star of films and Broadway plays, she died of respiratory failure at her Los Angeles home, attorney and family friend Robert Finkelstein said. Pleshette had undergone chemotherapy for lung cancer in 2006.

She voiced Zira in Disney's direct-to-video sequel The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998), as well as Yubaba and Zeniba in Spirited Away, the English dub of Hayao Miyazaki's 2001 film Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi.

She was also in the live-action Disney comedies The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard's Ghost and The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin.

The Bob Newhart Show ran from 1972 to 1978. Four years later, Newhart moved to Newhart, another successful sitcom in which Bob was surrounded by eccentrics. The final episode in 1990 returned Pleshette to her role from the first show in one of TV's greatest finales.

Newhart woke up in his The Bob Newhart Show bedroom next to Pleshette, and told her of the crazy dream she just had.

The 5'4" Pleshette was born in New York on January 31, 1937. The cousin of actor John Pleshette, she was the only child of Eugene Pleshette, a manager of the Paramount and Brooklyn Paramount theaters during the Big Band era.

Attending the New York High School of the Performing Arts at 12, she later studied at Syracuse University, Finch College, the Neighborhood Playhouse and Sanford Meisner's Acting School.

"When I was 4, I was answering the phone, and (the callers) thought I was my father," she said in a 1994 interview. "So I often got quirky roles because I was never the conventional ingenue."

In 1959, she met her third and last husband, Tom Poston, during a joint appearance in the 1959 Broadway comedy The Golden Fleecing. Though they had a short fling, they didn't marry until 2001. Their marriage lasted until Poston's death last April.

Poston had gone on to marry someone else as well, but both were widowed by 2000, when they got together again.

"He was such a wonderful man. He had fun every day of his life," Pleshette said following Poston's death.

In Broadway and on the road, Pleshette replaced Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker, the 1959 drama about Helen Keller.

Pleshette's film career began in 1958 with Jerry Lewis in The Geisha Boy.

Her early appearances in TV shows included Have Gun, Will Travel, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Playhouse 90 and Naked City. Meanwhile, the early 1960s brought her such youth-oriented films as Rome Adventure, Fate Is the Hunter, Youngblood Hawke and A Distant Trumpet. A more mature role came in Pleshette matured in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.

In 1964, she married teen heartthrob Troy Donahue, her co-star in Rome Adventure. But they divorced after only eight months. Pleshette married Texas oilman Tim Gallagher from 1968 until his death in 2000.

In recent years, she worked in several TV-movies, landing the title role in Leona Helmsley, the Queen of Mean (1990). She also guested recently in episodes of the TV sitcoms Will & Grace and 8 Simple Rules ... For Dating My Teenage Daughter.

Pleshette never objected to doing character parts over glamorous roles.

"I don't sit around and wait for great parts," she once said. "I'm an actress, and I love being one, and I'll probably be doing it till I'm 72, standing around the back lot doing Gunsmoke."

In Strike News...

- January 20, 2008: Top studio executives and leaders from the WGA will meet informally to discuss the resumption of bargaining between the two sides, Variety reports. The news comes days after the producers negotiated a tentative deal with the Directors' Guild of America (DGA). According to the trade paper, studio executives have said that the WGA will be offered terms similar to those settled on with the directors.

Bollywood Plunging Deeper Into Toon Features

Hollywood apparently isn't the only industry town that will jump on a hot animation trend once it develops.

The Hindustan Times reports that in the wake of several successful recent releases, India's film industry—Bollywood—is plunging into animated production, with PPC, Yash Raj Films and UTV bankrolling over half a dozen 'toon features between them. Stories based on mythology have been the most popular recent releases.

In another imitation of classic Hollywood behavior, the studios are also signing up live-action movie stars to voice the films.

Exclusive: New Iron Man Fan Film!

There are less than four months left until the premiere of Paramount's Iron Man movie but in the meantime you can feast your eyes on this fan film created by David Guivant. It's not so much a movie as it is the opening title sequence for an Iron Man TV series, made in the spirit of Sandy Collora's Batman Dead End and World's Finest.

David created this on a shoestring budget over a period of a couple of years and it features Tony Stark as Iron Man, plus it includes Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan, The Black Widow, Ms. Marvel, Nick Fury AND The Mandarin. Not only that, but it's chock full of special effects, which believe it or not are all 2D and not 3D.

It's been a labor of love for him and I encourage you to check it out here!

Megan Gale confirms she is (was?) Wonder Woman

Just as the news comes that the 'Justice League' movie is postponed and actors have been released from their option deals, actress Megan Gale is talking openly about landing the role of Wonder Woman in the feature.

"I still can't believe it,'" Gale told The Sunday Times' Perth Confidential. "I have been infatuated with Wonder Woman since I was a teenager.

"People used to tell me I looked like Lynda Carter."

At the time of the article's writing, Gale had reportedly been getting into Amazonian fighting shape and training with weapons for the part, which she won in October but has remained secretive about ever since.

Given the comments Gale made, it would appear that she talked to the Perth Confidential before Warner Bros. pulled the plug on the project.

"It was always a bit of a fantasy. It was never going to be a reality for me, but it kind of found me and I'm a big believer in fate and destiny.

"Even if the writers' strike goes on forever, for me, the fact that I've been cast as Wonder Woman is enough.''

The model-turned-actress may yet play the role, should the production restart later this year. However, with the current state of things on 'Justice League', it's entirely possible that the role could be recast with another actress.

Spidey, Iron Man and Hulk team up in online toon

Video: Iron Man and Spidey Fight a Robot - Part II

Fans all over the world thrilled to the first groundbreaking Marvel Adventures Animated AdverVideos last week, as your favorite heroes were brought to life like never before! In the second AdverVideo, Iron Man arrives on the scene to take on a seemingly unstoppable foe—but will his genius and amazing suit of armor be enough? Or could a certain “incredible” ally be the key to victory? Visit to experience the Mighty Marvel adventure that has everyone buzzing!

Hulk helps Iron Man and Spider-Man defeat robots - Part III

The first Marvel Adventures Animated AdverVideos series comes to an explosive finale as Hulk joins Iron Man and Spider-Man in their battle against robotic villainy.

William Hurt drops some 'Hulk' spoilers

Actor William Hurt, who plays General Thunderbolt Ross in the upcoming 'Incredible Hulk' movie recently spoke to MTV and dropped several juicy tidbits about the Marvel movie, including the scoop on the 'Iron Man' cross over.

"I have a scene with Iron Man, with Robert Downey Jr.," the Oscar-winning actor told MTV News Friday at the Sundance Film Festival. "It's a funky scene.

"I don't know how it'll work," Hurt admitted, saying it was a thrill to appear as General Thaddeus Ross during Downey's scene. "I know it's weird [to work with a character from another movie], and to know it's a device. We did something; I don't know what that's going to be like [to watch]."

Later comments reveal plot points that may be considered SPOILERS, so read on with caution.

"Liv Tyler, I play her father, General Ross," he explained. "There's a scene, and during that scene there are a number of things happening. [Hulk] has beaten Abomination, and then there's a crowd that gathers around, and they realize that he's beaten Abomination. That Abomination was the one who was killing for just the joy of killing; Hulk is not the one.

"It's the moment of turn," Hurt added, "when society's relationship with Hulk stops being so stupid."

Hurt goes on to describe the core themes of the film and how they relate to the concerns of moviegoers.

"[The story] has to do with the fact that [Banner's] conscience still exists in a body that is a manifestation of power and is greater than his own ability to control it — and how he's learning that relationship," said the actor. "Because that's what's happening to us. That's the central metaphor for all of us, that we're learning these powers — technological powers, whatever — that we don't know if we have enough conscience to control in a wise way yet. And that's what he's doing.

"[Hulk] is managing to save his humanity inside that, while people like General Ross can't. That's a main theme throughout many of the comics, and in 'Hulk,' it seems to be [primary]...I love him."

For more revealing commentary from General Thunderbolt Ross check out the complete interview here.

transculturELLE: How Girls Cross Cultures

Friday and Saturday, January 25 and 26 at McGill University in Montreal, Thomas Lamarre will be hosting a workshop on shoujo anime and manga. Academic papers on gender, genre, and culture will be presented by the likes of Frenchy Lunning, Toshiya Ueno, and Ian Condry. There is no charge to attend. For more information, contact Thomas Lamarre.

Here is a prospective list of papers:


Session 1: 11:30 – 14:00

Anne McKnight, USC. ‘Subcultures and Frenchness’

Brian Bergstrom, McGill. ‘Girliness is Next to Godliness: The Girl as Sacred Criminal in Kurahashi Yumiko’s ‘Seishôjo’

Frenchy Lunning, University of Minnesota. ‘Under the Ruffles: Shojo and the Morphology of Abjection’

Session 2: 15:00 – 16:30

Saitô Satomi, McGill. ‘Genre Convergence in the Digital Age: Shojo manga, sekai-kei, and Shinkai Makoto’

Emily Raine, McGill. ‘Kawaii and Capital in t.o.L’s Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space’

Ian Condry, MIT. ‘Future Anime: Girls and Boys who Leap through Time’

Session 3: 17:00 – 18:30

Livia Monnet, UdM. ‘The Anatomy of Permutational Desire: Perversion and the Artificial Girl in Contemporary Japanese Animation’

Tom Looser, NYU. ‘The Utopic Matter of Women’


Session 4: 9:30-11:30

Toshiya Ueno, Wako University. ‘Matriarchy and Criticism in Japan’

Yukiko Hanawa, NYU. ‘Camouflage Time’

Tom Lamarre, McGill. ‘Nature Girls and Culture Times’

"Gatchaman" screenwriter Jinzo Toriumi dies at 78

Screenwriter Jinzo Toriumi, who planned and wrote such anime series as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman and Yatterman, died Thursday morning of liver cancer at a hospital in Japan's Shinjuku district. He was 78.

A novelist as well, Toriumi worked for Tatsunoko Production until the late 1970s.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, also known as Battle of the Planets and G-Force, was but one of his many projects.

His work in animation scripting began in 1964 at Mushi Productions for Mighty Atom (Astro Boy). Heading to Tatsunoko the next year, he worked full-time in TV animation, contributing to Casshern, Tekkaman and Time Bokan.

He was a planner for the 1967 series Mach Go, Go, Go, better known as Speed Racer.

Later, he wrote for such Sunrise series as Armored Trooper Votoms, Yoroiden Samurai Trooper (Ronin Warriors) and Mister Ajikko.

He was involved in the Gatchaman sequel series Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman II (1978) and Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman F (1979).

Toriumi was a writer for 1969's Kurenai Sanshiro (Judo Boy), as well as 1973's Kerokko Demetan, widely exported to French-speaking countries. He was a layout artist for Kashi no ki Mokku, also known as Mock, Made of Oak and Pinocchio.

Toriumi was born on February 1, 1929 in Takikawa, in Japan's northern prefecture of Hokkaido. He first wrote scripts for live-action films at Nikkatsu before turning to anime.

He wrote the novelizations of Gatchaman, Shin Heiyoden and Dororo. In addition, he wrote the textbook Anime Scenario Nyumon (The Introduction to Anime Scriptwriting), which he used when he taught vocational school to future screenwriters.

Toriumi chaired Ohtori Koubou, a support organization for scriptwriters. In May 2000, he received the (Scenario) Scriptwriting Award from the Japan Writers Guild.

Jinzo Toriumi is survived by wife Kazuyo. A funeral was planned Sunday.

MyToons Launches Bumper Contest is now accepting entries for its international Bumper Blastoff competition, the online animation community announced Thursday. Contestants will have a chance to win $7000 in cash prizes by creating original animated bumpers lasting 30 seconds or less.

Categories open to competition include a student "Rising Stars" category ($500 to six winners, plus a professional portfolio review for the submitter of the best student entry) and three "Super Star" awards carrying $1000 each in prizes. Limited edition t-shirts will go to randomly selected contestants on a weekly basis.

Luis Blanco and Michael Uman of INTERspectacular will judge the entries, with nine winners being announced on March 12. Winning selections will run on and on its partner websites. More information can be had at


If I had a Sony PSP (or played video games for that matter), I’d be looking forward to the February release of Patapon, a visually striking rhythm-based fighting game. The game’s graphics are based on the work of French artist and toy designer Rolito, who also has a blog here.
Here’s a few links that tell you all you need to know about this title:

Game trailer with plenty of animation

Interview with Patapon director/game designer Hiroyuki Kotani

Write-up on about why Patapon is a unique game

The Salaries of Disney Execs

While Disney artists bring their imaginations to life through animation, Disney executives are living a lifestyle that animators can’t even begin to imagine. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Disney chief executive Bob Iger received a 7% pay increase in 2007 for a total financial compensation of $27.7 million. According to the company’s proxy statement, the breakdown is as follows: $2 million salary, which remained the same as 2006; a $13.7 million bonus, which was a decrease from his $15 million bonus in ‘06; stock awards totaling $7.9 million, and $740,000 for personal air travel, security and a car benefit. Other Disney execs who earned healthy sums were CFO Thomas Staggs ($9 million), General Counsel Alan Braverman ($7.9 million), executive vp of human resources Wesley Coleman ($2.7 million) and executive vp for corporate strategy Kevin Mayer ($2.6 million). With figures like these, there’s only four words these guys can be thinking right now: High School Musical 3. (PS: If you’re curious about what the average animation artist makes, download this PDF of the 2007 wage survey by the Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE.)

JJ Abrams Enables One CMU Professor To Check Off An Item On His Own Personal Bucket List!

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