Wednesday, January 30, 2008

News - 01/30/08...

Lili Chin and Eddie Mort Abandon Flash

Everybody has been jumping on the Flash bandwagon these past few years, but could 2008 be the year that animators begin abandoning the infamously buggy software for a more stable and artist-friendly program? Lili Chin and Eddie Mort, the creators of one of the earliest Flash-animated TV series ¡Mucha Lucha!, have announced on their blog that they’re through with Flash. The creative duo is currently wrapping up a feature in Flash called Los Campeones de La Lucha Libre, but they say that beginning with their next project, a short for Cartoon Network Asia, they’ll be switching to Toon Boom’s Harmony. The statement on their blog reads:

“Goodbye Macromedia Flash. After 8 years we are truly over you. Those buggy filters you tantalisingly tempted us with in Flash 8 were the last straw. And you got an ANNIE AWARD for your inadequate software? We’re looking forward to working in some new kind of HARMONY for Rocquita.”

Is this an isolated incident or has the exodus begun?

Confirmed! Del Toro directing Hobbit

Confirmed? Del Toro doing "The Hobbit"?

seems so!

Check this

(Hope you know Spanish!)

Warren Ellis on 'Transmetropolitan'

It seems Warren Ellis has made a rare appearance on the forums which require a 10 dollar charge for an account (keeps the riff raff out… sometimes). During the Q&A Ellis said some interesting things about the oft-rumored but never-happening 'Transmetropolitan' movie.

Here are the highlights from the Q&A, as the were presented in the forum:

Q: Which of your creations would you be least happy to lose control over?

A: Darick [Robertson] and I have turned down countless approaches to do 'Transmetropolitan' in TV and film, for the simple reason that we are going to exercise control and see it done right or it will not be done at all. I would not be happy to lose control over that book.

Q: Any comments on Patrick Stewart doing Spider Jerusalem for TV/film? [Editor's Note: it had been rumored many years ago that Stewart was interested in doing a web-animation based on 'Transmet'.]

A: It'll never happen.

Q: More generally, who do you have in mind doing Spider so that it gets "done right"?

A: Darick and I both favour the idea of Tim Roth playing Spider.

Q: if you had to (as in gun to the head style "had to") have one of your characters made into a movie, which would it be?

A: HAD to? Jesus. Um... 'Atmospherics'.

'Atmospherics' is one of the numerous Ellis titles available through Avatar Press.

There you have it. For the complete thread visit and check under the "Batman’s Shameful Secret" sub-forum for the “Warren Ellis Q&A” thread. He discusses his opinion on things in the news, the presidential primaries, and status of his books! Exciting for sure.

'Marvel Zombies' Animated Feature Rumored

According to, a Direct To DVD animated feature based upon the popular Marvel Zombies mini series may be in the works.

The series, which follows the events of an alternate Marvel universe becoming infected with a virus that turns the characters into flesh hungry zombies, has been both a critical and commmercial hit for the publisher.

Marvel has yet to officially announce which characters will be featured in future Marvel/Lions Gate DVDs beyond this years Avengers Reborn, Hulk Smash! and next year's Thor features, so the story must be considered strictly rumor at this stage.

Nickelodeon Universe Opens in March

Mall of America, the country's largest shopping and entertainment center, will hold the grand opening of a new theme park dubbed Nickelodeon Universe on Saturday, March 15. Construction is underway on several Nick-themed rides that will be added to the seven-acre indoor park in Bloomington, Minn. Attractions will include two roller coasters dubbed SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge and Avatar Airbender, and a thrill ride named Splat-O-Sphere.

SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge and Avatar Airbender are the first roller coasters of their kind to be built inside a mall. The SpongeBob ride will offer vertical lifts, spirals and 90-degree turns before screeching to a halt at the Bikini Bottom Bus Stop. The Avatar Airbender will reach heights of 70 feet, and the Splat-O-Sphere will launch riders nearly 60 feet high before sending them down again at breathtaking speeds. Construction of the rides requires 45-tons of reinforcement steel, eight tons of structural steel and 4,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Nickelodeon Universe will also feature live shows, shops, games and other entertainment based on such top animated shows as SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Danny Phantom, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius and The Backyardigans. In addition, young fans will get to meet Nick characters in the park, which will host the network’s largest retail presence in the world. The Nick store will occupy more than 4,000 square feet with such items as branded tee-shirts, souvenirs and novelties.

Located minutes from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, Mall of America is a 4.2 million-square-foot complex that opened in August of 1992. Home to more than 520 shops, the tourist destination houses the nation's largest indoor family amusement park, a 1.2 million-gallon walk-though aquarium, a 14-screen movie theater and other attractions. For more information on Nickelodeon Universe, go to

Nick Airing Valentine's Day Romance Marathon

Nickelodeon will air romance-themed episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents, Go, Diego, Go and other series on Valentine's Day, Thursday, February 14, as part of its Crush Week programming schedule, the network says.

The Valentine's Day marathon will run from 6:30am to 9:00pm (EST/PST).

Johnson Heads Animation at Nick, MTVN Kids

Brown Johnson, a 20-year Nickelodoen veteran, has been promoted to the newly created position of president of animation for Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. Previously exec VP and creative director of Nickelodeon preschool, and general manager of NOGGIN, Johnson was the driving force behind such Nick Jr. hits as Blue's Clues, Dora the Explorer, Go, Diego, Go!, The Wonder Pets! and The Backyardigans. In her new role, she will report to Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group president Cyma Zarghami as she spearheads development and production for all animated programming across Nickelodeon, while continuing to oversee development and production for all preschool programming.

Johnson joined Nickelodeon in 1988 as exec in charge of production and, in 1989, was promoted to VP of production for Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, where she oversaw all Nickelodeon production and talent, as well as Nickelodeon Studios’ production staff in Florida. In 1993, she became VP/exec producer of Nick Jr. production and development. She was promoted to exec VP of Nick Jr. in 2001 before taking on the role of creative director of preschool television and general manager of NOGGIN in 2007.

A president of animation, Johnson will oversee the development and production of more than 225 new episodes of Nicktoon series in 2008. In addition to supervising the creative direction of such established favorites as SpongeBob Squarepants, The Fairly OddParents and Back At The Barnyard, she will shepherd the upcoming Amy Poehler Nicktoon series The Mighty B and The Penguins of Madagascar in partnership with DreamWorks SKG.

Based in both Nickelodeon's New York City headquarters and the Nick Animation Studio in Burbank, Calif., Johnson will supervise creative executive teams on both coasts, managing the creative direction and coordination efforts between series production, on-air promotions, marketing and consumer products. Nickelodeon's live action series and TV movie development and production will continue to be led by exec VP Marjorie Cohn.

Adult Swim Picks Up More Bleach

VIZ Media, LLC has announced that the 52-episode second season of the hit supernatural action animated series BLEACH is expected to begin airing on Saturday, March 1 on Adult Swim.

BLEACH follows Ichigo Kurosaki, an ordinary 15-year-old boy who also happens to be able to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo's house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul.

Drawn to Ichigo's high level of spirit energy, the Hollow attacks him and his family, and as a last resort, Rukia decides to transfer part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo. As a result of Rukia’s actions, she is sent back to the Soul Society, where she is condemned to die. In Season 2, a stronger and more powerful Ichigo demonstrates a new resolve to save Rukia from certain death. This culminates in an explosive confrontation with Byakuya Kuchiki, Rukia’s by-the-book brother and his most intense opponent yet! Soon, Ichigo’s journey takes him back to the World of the Living where he must deal with a new assortment of supernatural enemies as well as the rigors of high-school life.

Why We Love Kazuo Umezu

Via Same Hat! Same Hat!, horror manga great Kazuo Umezu..

David Murray Joins G.I. Joe, Too is reporting that theatre actor David Murray has joined the big screen G.I. Joe adaptation to play villain Destro:

David Murray, mainly an actor of theatre, has been described as a cross between Alan Rickman and Clive Owen. A strong, good-looking dark haired actor, it is said he has a bit of an aristocratic snob quality about him.

And although Destro had a minor role in the original animated "G.I. Joe: The Movie," he is the main baddie this time around.

For more on this, hit the link above!

Whedon: Weird Science Is Offensive

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon participated in the weekly Geeks On podcast on Jan. 24 and discussed his upcoming projects, as well as his disgust for the concept at the heart of the '80s fantasy film Weird Science, according to science-fiction blog io9.

"I hate Weird Science not a little," Whedon said during the podcast, which was devoted to the theme of artificial intelligence. "I find it offensive, the boy fantasy of building a girl. Obviously, we were doing the nasty version of it [in Buffy the Vampire Slayer], because I find it grotesque."

He added that his new upcoming series Dollhouse, starring Buffy veteran Eliza Dushku, is "very much about humanity and how much of it is programmed."

Whedon is also working on a film script with former Buffy writer Drew Goddard--whose monster movie Cloverfield is currently in theaters--and a new project involving Internet content. In the print realm, Whedon is finishing up his runs on the comic-book series Astonishing X-Men and Runaways. Finally, he confirmed that his Wonder Woman film is officially dead at Warner Brothers.

The full podcast can be heard in streaming format here.

Wire Has Exclusive Knight Video

SCI FI Wire visited the set of NBC's upcoming Knight Rider and spoke exclusively with the cast and crew about the making of the TV movie. Two new videos (part one and part two), featuring footage from the behind-the-scenes interviews, are now live.

Knight Rider airs as a two-hour movie on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Three cartoons up for television diversity awards

A trio of television series have been nominated by the National Association for Multi-ethnicity In Communications for the animation category of the 14th Annual NAMIC Vision Awards.

Nominated are Cartoon Network's The Boondocks; "A Very Happy Holiday," an episode of Disney Channel's Handy Manny; and "Moustache Kid" and "Puma Licito," two episodes of Nickelodeon's El Tigre.

In the children's category, the four nominees include the animated Nickelodeon shows Dora The Explorer: Dora's World Adventure and Go, Diego, Go! - Diego Saves Christmas.

Presented by NAMIC-Southern California, the NAMIC Vision Awards is the only competition recognizing outstanding achievements in original, multi-ethnic cable programming.

The 14th annual awards presentation, which honors programming diversity, will take place April 16 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.

This year's NAMIC Vision Awards will be presented at a special luncheon held in conjunction with the NAMIC West Coast Creative Summit, which is part of the trade organization's signature conference series focused on the content development aspects of the television industry.

Over 200 entries were submitted by 29 networks competing for top honors in 15 award categories.

HBO dominated the voting by garnering 10 nominations in five categories. Disney Channel received five nominations, and TV One garnered four. TV One's impressive showing marks the largest number of NAMIC Vision Awards nominations earned by the network to date.

"The Vision Awards exemplifies the best of what the cable television industry produces annually in multi-ethnic and cross-cultural original programming that positively reflects the diverse interest of its viewers," said NAMIC president Kathy Johnson.

Oscar-nominated "Tutli-Putli" nominated for Genie

Nominated a week ago for an Academy Award, the National Film Board of Canada cartoon Madame Tutli-Putli is one of three candidates announced Monday for the Genie Award for best animated short.

The winner of two awards at Cannes, the wordless Madame Tutli-Putli is the first film from Montreal filmmakers Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski.

Also nominated for a Genie in the category are two other NFB releases: Diane Obamsawin's Here And There and George Schwizgebel's wordless Jeu -- a co-production with Switzerland's Studio GDS and Télévision Suisse Romande.

The Genie Awards are organized each year by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Canada's top film honors, they're the Canadian equivalent of the Oscars.

The 28th annual Genie Awards will be presented March 3 in Toronto.

Leading the Genie nominations with 12 each are David Cronenberg's Mafia thriller Eastern Promises and Shake Hands With the Devil, a dramatic adaptation of retired Canadian general Roméo Dallaire's experiences in Rwanda.

Eastern Promises stars Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts. Shake Hands With the Devil stars Quebec actor Roy Dupuis. Both films have been nominated for best motion picture.

Also nominated for the top award are L'Âge des ténèbres (Days of Darkness), Away From Her and Continental, un film sans fusil.

Future Film Festival: We Have Seen the Future, and We is Schizophrenic

Russell Bekins chronicles the eclectic mix of films from the East and the West at the Future Film Festival.

Animation World Magazine

Paramount's Spiderwick, Beowulf Coming to Habbo

Habbo and Paramount Pictures Digital Ent. today announced a licensing agreement to create virtual goods based on titles including THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES, BEOWULF and MEAN GIRLS. The deal will provide Habbo merchandising rights throughout the U.S. and Canada for all three properties. The partnership marks one of the first of its kind between a major motion picture studio and a virtual world commodity.

Starting in February with the upcoming fantasy-adventure title THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES, Habbo will introduce items that include themed apparel to accessorize avatars, virtual furniture and accessories, as well as other virtual goods based on the movie. Habbo will follow up by producing themed virtual merchandise for the popular previously released titles BEOWULF and MEAN GIRLS in the upcoming months.

"The Habbo audience demands that their community reflect today's real world pop culture entertainment landscape," said Teemu Huuhtanen, EVP, Habbo business and President, North America. "By establishing a licensing deal with a leading studio like Paramount Pictures Digital Ent., we are able to produce themed virtual goods relevant to the movies our teen audience is watching, while simultaneously implementing impactful promotional campaigns for the studio."

"Many of our movie properties naturally lend themselves to unique and innovative opportunities in the traditional, digital and virtual worlds," said Alex Carloss, EVP/GM of Worldwide Digital Distribution for Paramount Pictures Digital Ent. "This agreement allows us to access Habbo's exceptional virtual community and built-in audience base where users can extend and enhance the film experience with a suite of themed-virtual goods."

There are currently Habbo communities in 31 countries on five continents. To date, over 86 million Habbo characters have been created and more than 8 million unique users worldwide visit Habbo each month. For more information, visit

Fifth of Aqua Teen on DVD

Aqua Teen Hunger Force: Volume 5 arrives on home video today, offering ten more episodes of the absurd Adult Swim animated comedy from creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis. Also hitting retail today is the critically acclaimed video-game documentary King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, and episodes of the popular children’s shows SpongeBob SquarePants and Pingu.

Produced under the Williams Street banner, Aqua Teen Hunger Force follows the exploits of three super-sized fast food items that rent a house together in New Jersey. The fifth season episodes are packaged as a two-disc set that also includes four previously unreleased episodes and other bonus features. Featurettes include Aqua Teens Respond to the Critics, Learn to Shred Like the Master, Tera Patrick Eats a Hot Dog and Granny Takes Her Top Off. There’s also a music video an interactive game dubbed The Worst Game Ever, a full episode titled “Space Ghost Coast to Coast Chambraigne,” the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theaters premiere with Space Ghost, deleted scenes, favorite episode promos and a trailer for the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Zombie Ninja Pro Am video game. The Warner Home Video releases lists for $29.98.

Released theatrically by New Line Cinema over the summer, King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters focuses on Mark Alpiger and Billy Mitchell, two video game fanatics who compete to break world records on classic arcade games. Bonus features include commentary by director Seth Gordon, producer Ed Cunningham, associate producers Clay Tweel and Luis Lopez, an animated short titled A Really, Really Brief History of Donkey Kong and other featurettes.

SpongeBob Squarepants: To Love a Patty is a collection of eight episodes. In addition to the title installment, the episodes include “Le Big Switch,” “Goo Goo Gas,” “A Flea in Her Dome,” “The Donut of Shame,” “The Krusty Plate,” “Pat No Pay” and “Blackjack.” The disc form Paramount Home Entertainment carries a suggested retail price of $16.99.

Pingu: On Thin Ice features eight episodes of the Hit Ent. animated series about a charming and mischievous young penguin who lives at the South Pole with his family. These are the later installments produced by Hot Animation. The property started as a clay-animated show made by Trickfilmstudio in Switzerland in the late 1980s. The disc lists for $14.98 and includes a DVD-Rom game.

Eric Coleman Named Disney SVP

Former Nickelodeon exec Eric Coleman has been named SVP, Development, for Walt Disney Television Animation, it was announced by Gary Marsh, President, Entertainment, Disney Channels Worldwide, to whom Coleman will report. Coleman joins Disney after 15 years at Nickelodeon, where he most recently was VP and Exec Producer, Animation Development and Production, and was the Exec in Charge of Production on the iconic series SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, among others.

Meredith Roberts, SVP, Creative Affairs, Walt Disney Television Animation, has been named to the new role of SVP and General Manager at DisneyToon Studios.

With a mandate to lead Disney's animated TV development into a new phase of growth, Coleman joins the company on Feb. 4 to spearhead development of animated short-form and long-form series for Disney Channel, Toon Disney and Jetix platforms, which are available to over 219 million homes worldwide. Coleman will also oversee Walt Disney Television Animation's Casting and Music departments.

In addition, he will provide development guidance and leadership for global partners of Disney Channel and Walt Disney Television Animation who are engaged in creation of original animation in the U.K., China, Japan and India, among others.

Coleman is credited throughout the industry as being the executive who championed the development and production of SPONGEBOB and AVATAR, two of Nickelodeon's most successful series.

Coleman began his career at Nickelodeon in New York where he worked on the first wave of original Nicktoons: RUGRATS, REN & STIMPY and DOUG. He then moved to Los Angeles and, as Manager of Development, he worked on numerous animated pilots including ROCKO'S MODERN LIFE, HEY ARNOLD! and ANGRY BEAVERS. In recent years, Coleman served as Exec Producer on AVATAR, CATSCRATCH, and EL TIGRE and was the Exec in Charge of Production on INVADER ZIM.

Coleman was raised in Scarsdale, New York, and graduated Cum Laude from Duke University with a bachelor's degree in English literature. He resides in Los Angeles.

Jerry Beck to be honored at this year's Annie Awards

Jim Hill pays tribute to this noted author & historian, who will receive the June Foray Award next week for the positive impact that he's had on the animation industry

Next Friday night, Toontown's top talents will put on their Sunday best and then motor on over to the Alex Theatre for the 35th annual Annie Awards.

Copyright 2008 ASIFA-Hollywood. All Rights Reserved

This is the night that the animation industry honors its own. When the very best work from 2007 in the fields of feature films, shorts, television and gaming finally gets the recognition that it so richly deserves.

And speaking of recognition ... Earlier this year, I was thrilled to learn that Jerry Beck had been selected to receive the 2008 June Foray award. Which is given annually to that individual who has ...

" ... made a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation."

2008 June Foray Award winner
Author & historian Jerry Beck
Photo by Harvey Deneroff

Which describes Jerry Beck to a T.

Now I know that Jerry isn't exactly a household name. Unless -- of course -- you're a Hollywood history nut like myself. If that's the case, then your library already has at least one of the 12 well-written & researched tomes that Mr. Beck has produced over the years.

I mean, never mind about James Brown. To my way of thinking, Jerry Beck is the hardest working man in show business. Hell, just last year between October 25th and November 20th, three new books of his turned up on store shelves.

First up was "The Art of Bee Movie" (Chronicle Books, October 2007), which detailed the convoluted production history of Dreamworks Animation's latest CG feature.

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation

Given the decades that he's been covering the animation industry, Jerry knows story. Which is why he has a great eye for that truly ironic detail (EX: Like how DreamWorks design labored for months to come with a character design that looked just Jerry Seinfeld. Only to then have the acclaimed comedian reject this design because he thought it looked too much like himself) that just makes a show biz anecdote soar.

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation

But what Beck's also great at is explaining the actual process of animation. Breaking the various phases of production down, giving his readers a clear understanding of how an animated feature really comes together.

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation

He's also not afraid to tackle big projects. So when Nickelodeon decided that it wanted a book that chronicled its entire animation output, Jerry jumped in with both feet. Creating "Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!" (DK Adult, November 2007) ...

Copyright 2007 Viacom International Inc. / DK Adult. All Rights Reserved

... this profusely illustrated coffee table book that's just loaded with great stories from the creators of such landmark Nickelodeon animated series as "Spongebob Squarepants" and "Rugrats."

Copyright 1996 Viacom International Inc. / DK Adult
All Rights Reserved

But you know what I like best about Beck? In spite of all the years that he's been writing about animation, all the high profile projects that he's worked on, all the movers and shakers that he's met & interviewed, Jerry has never become jaded. Deep in his heart of hearts, he's still a huge animation fan.

Copyright 2007 Insight Editions. All Rights Reserved

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Beck's third book for 2007, "The Hanna-Barbera Treasury" (Insight Editions, November 2007). Jerry's love for the sometimes schlocky Saturday morning shows that HB churned over the years is obvious, given all the model sheets, miniature comic books and other tchotchkes that he crams into this 56-page hardcover.

Copyright 2007 Insight Editions. All Rights Reserved

It's books like these three which entertain as they inform, not to mention the dozens of magazine articles that Beck's written over the years or the great work that he continues to do over at Cartoon Brew with Amid Amidi that explains why this writer / historian is so well respected by members of the animation community.

So congratulations on your June Foray award, Jerry. Enjoy your time in the spotlight next Friday night. You definitely earned it.

Randall Duk Kim joins 'Dragon Ball' as Gohan

According to his website Korean actor Randall Duk Kim is playing the role of Grandpa Gohan in the live action adaptation of the popular Shônen JUMP Japanese comic Dragon Ball. Readers might remember Kim as being the Key Maker in the Matrix Reloaded, sequel to the popular action film The Matrix.

Dragon Ball is due out this summer, produced by Stephen Chow and directed and written by James Wong.

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