Friday, February 29, 2008

News - 02/29/08...

"Teen Titans: The Judas Contract" Animated Feature In Trouble?

According to Marv Wolfman, one of the screenplay writers for the direct-to-video Teen Titans: The Judas Contract animated feature, the DC Universe Animated Movie could be in trouble.

Wolfman states the movie is currently on hold because, according to Warner Home Video, there may not be a big enough audience for the Teen Titans: The Judas Contract animated feature to be successful. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract was originally scheduled to be the third DC Universe Animated Movie before Warner Home Video delayed it, opting to produce Batman: Gotham Knight and Wonder Woman instead.

Wolfman continues, saying that if fans would like to help convince Warner Home Video to make the Teen Titans: The Judas Contract animated feature, then they'll need to let the studio know. Below is the contact information to send your thoughts and concerns regarding the future of the Teen Titans: The Judas Contract animated feature.

Diane Nelson, President, Warner Premiere
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg 2, #103
Burbank, CA 91522

Lisa Judson, President, Warner Bros. Animation
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd
Burbank, CA 91522-0001

Ron Sanders, President of Warner Home Video
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg 160, #12112
Burbank, CA 91522

Wolfman worked on the original Teen Titans: The Judas Contract comic book storyline in addition to writing the screenplay, along with Tom DeSanto, of the animated adaptation.

An Academy Tribute to Tex Avery and Michael Maltese

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will pay tribute to Tex Avery and Michael Maltese, both born a century ago in early 1908, on Monday March 24th at the Linwood Dunn Theatre (on Vine Street) in Hollywood. If we have to tell you who Avery and Maltese are, you shouldn’t be reading this blog.

Crossing paths at the Leon Schlesinger studio in the 1930s and 40s, their collaborations and later individual career achievements are among the greatest moments in animation history. The Academy’s tribute, entitled Putting Looney in the Toons, includes some of the classic shorts Avery and Maltese worked on together, as well as separately from their individual careers. The program will also feature audio presentations of rare recorded interviews with both Avery and Maltese discussing their careers with film historian Joe Adamson.

Tickets are available for advance purchase beginning next Monday (3/3). General admission is $5.00 ($3. for students). The Linwood Dunn Theater is located at the Academy’s Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, 1313 Vine Street, in Hollywood. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. All seating is unreserved. For additional information check the Academy website.
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"Justice League: The New Frontier" Soundtrack Cover Art, Track Listing

La-La-Land Records has provided The World's Finest with the final cover art and track listing for the upcoming soundtrack release for Justice League: The New Frontier.

The following is the complete track listing for the upcoming soundtrack release.

1. Main Titles (2:01)
2. The Centre / Hal Shot Down (2:50)
3. J'onn J'onzz Arrives (0:51)
4. Wonder Woman Recounts / J'onzz Watches TV (2:11)
5. The Flash Saves Las Vegas (3:32)
6. J'onn Becomes John / Church Brawl (3:12)
7. Carol & Hal Banter (0:22)
8. Driving to Ferris / The Real Ferris (1:34)
9. Hal's Mission Revealed / Batman Surprises J'onzz / The Flash Fights Gorilla (2:52)
10. Crazy Scientist (1:37)
11. J'onzz Contemplates / J'onzz is Leaving (1:18)
12. To Space (1:27)
13. Mars Mission Mess (4:13)
14. New Green Lantern (3:56)
15. Superman Ties It Up / J'onzz Bonds (2:41)
16. Island Revealed / Superman Down (5:22)
17. Plan to Action (2:35)
18. Thick of Battle (4:32)
19. The Flash vs Centre / Last Bit of Business (3:37)
20. Victory (3:09)
21. End Credits (3:01)

Total Running Time (57:26)

Music composed by Kevin Manthei. Justice League: The New Frontier - Soundtrack from the DC Universe Animated Original Movie will be available to own on March 18th, 2008.

Ridley Scott, Robert Rodriguez In I'VE SEEN FILMS Jury

I'VE SEEN FILMS International Short Film Festival 2008 will feature Ridley Scott (ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER, THELMA & LOUISE, GLADIATOR, AMERICAN GANGSTER), Robert Rodriguez (EL MARIACHI, ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO, SIN CITY, GRINDHOUSE PLANET TERROR) and Maestro Ludovico Einaudi (DIARIO MALI, UNA MATTINA, LE ONDE, LA SCALA CONCERT, EDEN ROC, TIME OUT) as members of its International Jury.

The deadline to submit short films is March 17, 2008.

I'VE SEEN FILMS and its founder, the international artist Rutger Hauer (BLADE RUNNER), announced that the First Edition will be held from September 22 to 26, 2008 in Milan, Italy.

The festival is linked to the online "Tiscali InShort" contest.

During the awards evening, Hauer will present the awards to the winning authors.

Submission forms, call for entry document and complete information regarding eligibility and entry rules and regulations are available at: or

Dark Knight, Speed Racer Go to Turner

Variety reports that The Dark Knight and Speed Racer have already been picked up for their television debuts down the road:

Cable's voracious appetite for fresh theatrical titles has spurred a mega-sale of high-profile titles, most of which haven't been released yet, by Warner Bros. Domestic Cable TV to Turner Broadcasting's TNT and TBS. Pics in the package include "10,000 B.C.," the "Batman" entry "The Dark Knight," "Speed Racer," "Get Smart," the Jim Carrey starrer "Yes Man" and the Leonardo DiCaprio-Russell Crowe vehicle "Body of Lies."

Hit the link above for more on this.

A Look At The Hulk?

The peeps over at Bad Taste have posted some artwork - they think it is for the new Incredible Hulk flick and I'll tend to agree with them. One is an image we've already seen which leads me to believe the rest go hand-in-hand with it. There is an image over there that looks like it's just a regular old comic book poster - but the rest of these are pretty cool.

Now is it me or is it weird we've seen NOTHING for this movie yet? The flick hits June 13th and we don't have a teaser poster or a trailer or anything!!! The movie is out in near three months with NO promotion thus far. Them thinking, "Oh it is the Hulk and it's got Ed Norton" isn't exactly a clencher especially coming off the bad reception of the last Hulk film.

I guess for now we'll keep on posting pics like these until something official comes about.

"Wild Things" Major Delay

The troubled Spike Jonze-directed adaptation of children's classic "Where The Wild Things Are" will come out October 16th 2009, almost a full year's delay from its original release in early 2009. This would also be almost three full years after the film was originally shot.

Freddie Highmore to Voice AstroBoy

Freddie Highmore has been signed for the title role in Imagi Studios' CG-animated motion picture AstroBoy, it was announced by producer Maryann Garger and director David Bowers.

The announcement of the casting of the award-winning actor as the voice of AstroBoy follows the release of The Spiderwick Chronicles, Highmore's latest starring vehicle.

Maryann Garger said: "I am very thrilled that Freddie has accepted this role. He is one of the most talented and acclaimed young actors today, and absolutely ideal to portray the iconic AstroBoy."

Commented David Bowers: "It's terrific that Freddie has agreed to play Astro. He's a remarkably skilled young actor, whose freshness and vitality make him perfect for the role. AstroBoy is a beloved superhero and has captured hearts around the globe for more than 50 years. I can't wait to see where Freddie takes him."

Just having turned 16 on Valentine's Day (February 14), Highmore has worked with celebrated directors such as Tim Burton, Ridley Scott and Luc Besson, and has starred alongside such top talent as Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Dustin Hoffman, Russell Crowe and Robin Williams, among others. Highmore's credits span live action and animation, including The Golden Compass, August Rush, Arthur and the Invisibles, A Good Year, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland.

Created by the "god of manga" Osamu Tezuka, AstroBoy, has enjoyed great acclaim and success throughout the world, with the original animated television series airing in the 1960s and followed by subsequent versions in the 1980s and again in 2003.

Set in futuristic Metro City, AstroBoy, is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist to replace the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving father's expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the man who had rejected him.

AstroBoy will be released worldwide in 2009.

It's The Final One Sheet For WAAAALLLLLLL*EEE!!

It's the final one sheet for WALL*E.

Can't wait for this movie...Pixar + cool robots = gold in my book. This hearkens back to the cute robot/wacky computer movies of the 1980s - ahh, bliss.

"Pokemon," "Bakugan" Deliver Strong Ratings for Cartoon Network

The back-to-back premiere of two Bakugan episodes delivered strong ratings to Cartoon Network, the studio said earlier this week.

The 9:00pm telecast of the new series drew 788,000 kids viewers in the 6–11 demographic, and among boys in that demo the episode beat programming on Disney. Viewership of the 9:30pm broadcast, however, dropped to 597,000.

The broadcasts followed the premiere of Pokemon 10: Rise of Darkrai, which with 1,435,000 viewers was the network's top-rated program of the day. The movie outperformed Disney and Nickelodeon programming in the same time slot by triple digits among boys 6–11.

Building The New Frontier

An Interview just before the premiere of Justice League: The New Frontier at WonderCon

An Interview with Bruce Timm at WonderCon

Everybody run to get it!

In an hour, The New Frontier would get its world premiere in front of thousands of fans sitting anxiously in Hall A at WonderCon. Right now, Executive Producer Bruce Timm sits at ease in what someone called DC's "Green Room" -- a huge space with a few circular tables. Earlier, Bruce had snagged a water bottle from my table but promised to come back and talk.

So here we are. Clearly more at ease than he was before the Comic-Con premiere of Superman: Doomsday, Timm also gave us a little bit of news about an upcoming project...

Derek McCaw: What would be the difference between your work on Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier?

Bruce Timm: Doomsday I was much more heavily involved in every aspect of the production because I co-wrote it, I produced it, I designed most of the characters and I co-directed it. New Frontier came right on the heels of Doomsday, and I was, frankly, wiped.

I just knew that New Frontier was going to be a monstrously huge show and I was running on fumes. Fortunately, I knew that Mike Goguen was just coming off of a season of The Batman, and he had a bit of window of opportunity, so I asked him if he would be interested in producing the show. He was very excited to do it. At that point, it was easy to let him do most of the heavy lifting.

I was mostly involved in the beginning. I worked very closely with Stan Berkowitz in breaking down the script, working with Andrea (Romano) in doing the casting and doing the vocal recordings. Then at that point, I kind of stood back and let Dave Bullock and Mike Goguen run with it. When the film came back from overseas, I worked very closely with Mike in the editing room and supervising the post-production with Mike.

I was heavily involved upfront, but wanted to let Dave and Mike do their wonderful thing.

Derek McCaw: You were involved in the voice casting, but is that something you normally do?

Bruce Timm: Yeah. Oh, yeah. I'm kind of a control freak (laughs). It's actually very difficult to stand back and delegate and let other people do things. On New Frontier it was easy, because both Mike and Dave were really really talented.

"It's actually very difficult to stand back..."

Derek McCaw: What kinds of things were you looking for in the voices?

Bruce Timm: The tricky thing was that we wanted to find actors that were terrific actors, and because the movie is set in the past, we wanted to find actors that didn't feel too contemporary, too twenty-first century. It was a really tricky thing to do, not just in casting but in the music and what kind of optical effects we used and everything. We didn't want it to feel current; we wanted it to feel period, but not old-fashioned. We didn't want it to feel hokey.

The same thing, especially with the actors. It's an indefinable thing, trying to find somebody who feels appropriate for the 1950's, but doesn't sound goofy. It can't sound like you're doing a parody of old movies or something.

I think we were really successful with that. The cast we got, with Kyle MacLachlan, David Boreanaz and Brooke Shields and all of them, I thought they were just spot on.

Derek McCaw: Brooke Shields didn't sound like Brooke Shields. She was Carol Ferris.

Bruce Timm: That's the idea.

Derek McCaw: What are you proudest about accomplishing on New Frontier?

Bruce Timm: I'm most proud that, amazingly, it retains the feel of the comic. It was not easy to get there. When Stan and I first worked on the script, we made some really mad, major cuts to the storyline, which we knew we would have to do. At one point we had gone too far, and actually taken Wonder Woman out of the movie, and Darwyn (Cooke, the graphic novel's creator) was the one who came back and said come on, man, you have to have Wonder Woman in there. We went back and forth on it, and of course he was right.

Great job casting, Bruce!

There were times during the production where Darwyn would say this is fine, this is going to make a wonderful animated film, but it's not The New Frontier. And when he would say that I would just go, ah, dammit.

Obviously, Darwyn is really close to it, so it's really hard for him to be objective, but at the same time he knows the material better than anybody else. So when he says that, on the one hand I want to make him happy because he's my friend, but really, he knows the material.

Ultimately, I'm proudest that it's a really really good adaptation of the comics. Certainly there are things missing where people are going to go, "oh, why isn't that there? Why isn't that scene there?" There are things like that I regret aren't in the movie.

But at the same time, knowing that we had less than a six-hour mini-series to make the movie, that we only had seventy minutes to cram that whole thing in there, it feels like the comic book come to life in a real dynamic way. It's not cheapened or dumbed down. I think it's a pretty excellent animated superhero film.

But Oh, Those Gotham Nights...

An Interview with Bruce Timm at WonderCon, Part 2

It's been a long day...

In part one, Bruce talked about working on Justice League: The New Frontier. But his days shepherding DC's characters to the screen are far from over, and here he talks a bit about the upcoming Batman: Gotham Knight...

Derek McCaw: When we talked before Superman: Doomsday had its premiere at Comic-Con, you were very nervous. Are you nervous tonight?

Bruce Timm: No.

Derek McCaw: You got over it?

Bruce Timm: That was a learning experience for me. Again, I had different qualms with Doomsday, because we did take some really radical changes from the comic. Here, we stayed really true to the comic, and anybody who loves the comic, chances are they'll love this movie.

Having sat through that screening at San Diego with Doomsday, knowing the kinds of things that they reacted really well to, they're going to love this movie tonight. They're going to go out of their minds.

Derek McCaw: Do you get a break now, or are you rolling into the next thing?

Bruce Timm: It all ebbs and flows. I have slow weeks and I have really crazy intense weeks. Since New Frontier, we finished up the Batman: Gotham Knight project, the anime project. We're actually in production on our next film in the DC Universe line, which I can't talk about yet because it hasn't been announced.

"It's pretty darned cool."

I get little breaks here and there, but I'm keeping busy.

Derek McCaw: Did you find a big difference in working in the anime style for Gotham Knight?

Bruce Timm: Because of the nature of it, we wanted it to be genuine anime. We didn't want it to be like Teen Titans, where it's Americans trying to do Japanese-style animation. We wanted it to be literally anime. We actually hired six different animation teams in Japan, six different Japanese directors to handle each segment.

It wasn't a matter of me adapting to the anime style, it was literally sending it off to them and seeing what they did with it. Again, my job on that production was even more hands-off than on
New Frontier because specifically it was really meant to be an anime project.

We would look at their character designs and their storyboards and stuff and it's a real culture shock. The way they storyboard things and their storytelling is really different than Western storytelling. So I'd read the storyboard and I'd be really be tempted to put notes on it, "you need a close-up here, you need to do this here, that's not going to work…"

What new projects bubble in this man's brain?

I had to really stop myself, and say, you know what? I don't know if this is going to work or not, because it's a different language. I just had to say, okay, I will approve this and cross my fingers and hope it comes back great. And it did.

There were some things when we got the film back, my editor and I just looked at certain sequences and said, no, this isn't going to fly. It's just too weird or too different or whatever. We needed to do some trims to make the story a little bit more focused. For the most part, we really tried to stay out of the directors' way and let them do their thing.

I think it's a really interesting movie. It's kind of what it was meant to be. What if Japanese animators did Batman? Wow. It's pretty darned cool.

We hope so, and we'll find out in July when Warner Home Video releases
Batman: Gotham Knight to retailers...

'Sam & Max: Freelance Police!!!' returns to DVD

Remember 'Sam & Max: Freelance Police'? That was Steve Purcell's indie comic that road the comics-to-toon boom of the 1990s into animation and video game fame. We'll, they're coming back to DVD on March 11th with a complete series edition from Shout Factory!

Not ringing any bells? There's a video to refresh your memory!

Here's the press release for the new DVD set provided by Shout!:

Enter into the wild world of screwy quixotic missions, jammed packed with nerve-jangling action as Steve Purcell’s popular comic book series Sam & Max Freelance Police comes to live in Sam & Max: Freelance Police!!! The Complete Series DVD box set on March 11, 2008 from Shout! Factory. Featuring collectible DVD packaging art with original illustrations by creator Steve Purcell, this 3-DVD box set contains all 13 action-packed episodes, hours of exclusive hyper-kinetic interactive bonus features and more! Sam & Max: Freelance Police!!! The Complete Series is priced to own at $34.99.

The adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police!!! is an edgy and often irreverent animated series based on a pair of Purcell’s enormously popular underground comic. Sam is a six-foot tall anthropomorphic dog in detective clothing; and Max is a “hyperkinetic rabbity-thing.” They like to call themselves “freelance police” and often travel to different countries and the Moon to solve the most baffling crime mystery of the day.

Exclusive Hyper-Kinetic Bonus Features Include:

A COMIC-CONversation with Steve Purcell!!!
3 Animated Shorts Originally Seen on FOX Kids
Sam & Max: Our Bewildering Universe – An original animated short written and co-directed by Steve Purcell
A Look at Telltale Games with Dan Conners, Dave Grossman, and Daniel Herrera
Sam & Max Season 2 Playable Demo by Telltale Games
Original Series Bible by Steve Purcell

Starz Goes Inside Pixar

Starz Inside, Starz Ent.'s series of original television specials, will return on April 22 with a look at the history and inner workings of one of the most famous animation studios in the world. Starz Inside: The Pixar Story will kick off a new slate of productions that will take the series into 2009, with renown film critic Richard Roeper returning as host.

The Pixar Story is a documentary from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks, granddaughter of animation legend Ub Iwerks. The film, which enjoyed a limited theatrical release in the U.S. last fall, takes viewers on a dramatic journey behind the scenes of the Northern California-based toon shop and explores how John Lasseter, Ed Catmull and Steve Jobs got together in the mid 1980s to create a studio that would revolutionize the animation industry. Leading up to the special’s 10 p.m. (ET) premiere, Starz will present a night of Pixar films starting with Cars at 6 p.m., followed by Ratatouille at 8 p.m.

Starz Inside focuses on the people and the trends that shape the culture of filmed entertainment. Among the other upcoming specials in the series is the tentatively titled Starz Inside: Fantastic Flesh—The Art of Makeup EFX. Airing on Oct. 28 at 10 p.m., the program will ride along with leading effects shop KNB EFX and examine the creation and execution of some of today's most spectacular Hollywood special effects. With a bag of tricks that includes animatronic critters, prosthetics and character makeup, the KNB EFX group has been creating innovative effects for more than 20 years, working on 300-plus films, including The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as its upcoming sequel, Prince Caspian.

48 Euro Pics Bow at Cartoon Movie

If you happen to be in Germany next week and would like to take a sneak peek of what the European animated feature film community has to offer, you should definitely check out the tenth edition of Cartoon Movie (March 5-7) in Potsdam/Babelsberg.

Kicking off this year’s lineup is a special presentation of Futurikon/Luxanimation’s Dragon Hunters, the CG feature spin off of the animated series, directed by Guillaume Ivernel and Arthur Qwak. Other notable toons unspooling at the confab are director Ben Stassen’s Fly Me to the Moon (nWave/Illuminata’s venture which is billed as the first European film in stereoscopic 3D), Xilam/Dargaud Marina’s Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure(directed by Olivier Jean Marie), Filmax’s Donkey Xote (directed by Jose Pozo), A.Film’s Jungo Goes Bananas (directed by Jorgen Lerdam, Flemming Quist Moller and Anders Sorensen) Rothkirch/Warner Bros.’s Little Dodo (directed by by Thilo Rothkirch and Ute von Munchow-Pohl) and Animation X/Medienfonds GFP’s The Three Robbers (directed by Hayo Freitag).

Overall, ten finished movies, ten films in production and 28 new films in development will be presented during the three-day event. Cartoon Movie will also include a special coaching program, created in 2002 to support new talents. Twenty-five students from various European animation schools are participating in the workshop, sponsored by the German Federal Film Board (FFA).

Cartoon Movie is organized by the European Association of Animation Film. Event partners include MEDIA Program of the EU, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Ministry of Economic Affairs of the Land Brandenburg, Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), Filmförderungsanstalt / German Federal Film Board (FFA), fx.Center Babelsberg and Studio Babelsberg. For more info, go to

Thursday, February 28, 2008

News - 02/28/08...

"Black History" Cartoon by Master P & Romeo (Miller Boyz)

In the video cartoon versions of Master P and Romeo present their homework assignment on African American heritage to the classroom and viewing audience. Read along with the lyrics in the video and discover the true reason for Black History month.

"I wanted to make this song into a cartoon also so that it can reach kids. It's entertaining and is a fun way to learn about our heritage," said Master P.

Master P also acknowledged the two animators responsible for the cartoon, Olatokunbo "Ola" Betiku, and Ryan Hutchinson. "Having Ola and Ryan on the team has been great because they're specialists in graphic art. They have great imaginations."

Additionally, Master P will be releasing children's books, coloring books, and other educational resources as part of his Take A Stand initiative. Already, teachers and educators have been contacting him to say they will be using the video in classroom lessons.

On his reasons behind the positive hip-hop video, Master P said, "I changed my life and I want to see our kids be able to grow and prosper. I'm doing this video because it's the RIGHT thing to do and it's more important to do what's right than what others necessarily want you to do or think you should do. This isn't about money - this is bigger than money. To be honest, I don't even have an outlet for this video. Black History Month is a special time for us to reflect and acknowledge how far we have come and how far we can still go. It only takes one person to make a difference. Put down the gun, stop the violence, it's time to educate our youth so they can be better than us. Let the kids grow."

Cartoons on the Bay Makes Selections

A total of 176 programs from 24 countries have been chosen to participate in this year’s Cartoons on the Bay, a showcase of TV animation taking place April 10-13 in Salerno, Italy. Of the official selections, 40 works have been nominated to compete for the 2008 Pulcinella Awards.

Promoted by Rai and organized by Rai Trade and Rai Fiction, the 12th annual edition of the festival will offer a full program of events, including press conferences and networking opportunities. As usual, the screening schedule will be largely dominated by European and American productions, though China, Japan and South Korea will all have a stronger presence, as will Latvia, Malaysia, India, Slovenia and Colombia.

Among the projects representing U.S. TV animation this year are Walt Disney Television Animation’s My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender and Back at the Barnyard, Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 and Camp Lazlo, Taffy Ent’s Cosmic Quantum Ray, Soup2Nuts’ Wordgirl, and the Bill Plympton short Shut Eye Hotel. Nickelodeon will have the strongest presence among the U.S. networks with 10 projects in competition. Among them are the new series The Mighty B! and a short titled Samsquatch.

Canada is also well represented with a number of programs, including the award-winning National Film Board of Canada short Sleeping Betty from director Claude Cloutier and the Oscar-nominated Madame Tutli-Putli from Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski. Other Canadian participants include Studio B. Prods.’ Ricky Sprocket: Showbiz Boy, Nelvana Ltd.’s The Backyardigans, 9 Story Ent.’s Futz!, Decode’s Franny’s Feet and Cuppa Coffee Studios’ sixth season of Celebrity Deathmatch.

Home-grown Italian programs to be showcased include the Rai Fiction co-produced Everybody Loves a Moose (Trion Picture and Cosgrove Hall), Amita of the Jungle (Lastrego and Testa Multimedia), Gladiators (MondoTv), Uffa che pazienza (Enanimation Motus Motionworks), Stefi’s World (The Animation Band), A Bicicle Trip (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia) and Acqua in bocca (Maga Animation Studio).

Throughout the duration of the exhibition, all programs will be available to producers, buyers, distributors, multimedia publishers, journalists and all other attending professionals at the Digital Library. For a complete list of nominees and addition information on Cartoons on the Bay, go to

TV Loonland To Lose Half Its Staff

German TV Loonland will lay off more than half of its 53 employees at its Munich headquarters.

The news prompted the company's stocks to jump 12 percent to 0.28 euros ($0.42), according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.

Loonland produces and markets children's TV brands, including LITTLE PRINCESS and PETTERSSON AND FINDUS, but is struggling to stay in business.

In 2007, they signed a debt-for-equity swap with creditors, handing over a 10 percent stake in the company to make $30 million in debt disappear.

Loonland is also looking to sell off its U.K. distribution segment Metrodome.

Segal Talks SHAZAM!

During Wondercon this past Saturday in San Francisco, writer Jett had the chance to visit with GET SMART director Peter Segal about what just may be his next film: SHAZAM!.

“Now that the writer’s strike is over, we’ll be getting to work on SHAZAM!,” director Peter Segal told BOF. “John August is hard at work again on the screenplay.”

It was very evident that the director is passionate about the possibility of bringing the iconic Captain Marvel to the big screen. Here’s a few more tidbits that Mr. Segal revealed:

* He and his creative team envision Fawcett City as being a “west coast city.” So I’m thinking it’s going to have an LA vibe to it since Segal is from there.

* While intent on Capt. Marvel’s costume remaining “classic,” it will be updated a tad as well as allowing for the creative team to put their own stamp on it.

* Both Freddie (Capt. Marvel Jr.?) and Mary Marvel are in the mix.

* Mister "Tawky" Tawny the Talking Tiger? “Yep,” says Segal, “well, at least our version of him,” he said with a wink.

* SHAZAM! will definitely NOT be a comedy, campy, or “really light-hearted.” “We’re going about this seriously, but it will have some humor.”

* Segal and Dwayne Johnson, who co-stars in the director‘s GET SMART, have indeed spoken about The Rock playing Black Adam -- who looks to be the villain of the film.

* Segal said he’s looking for his own “Tom Hanks” to play the Captain. Someone who can be heroic, but still convey the fact that he’s really 13 years old. Should we be looking for someone who’s today’s Fred MacMurray? Creator C.C. Beck modeled Capt. Marvel on the actor and Segal said as much during the interview.

It certainly sounds as if Segal, writer John August and the rest of the team behind SHAZAM! are genuinely excited about the project and intend on developing it with a great deal of respect for the source material.

I get the feeling that “BIG in tights” is the goal and I mean that in a good way.

"The Batman" Series Finale To Air March 8th, 2008

A representative for Warner Bros. Animation has confirmed that the current season of The Batman is the last season of the popular series.

The series finale, called "Lost Heroes," is slated to air as a one-hour special on Saturday March 8th, 2008.

Three New Images from "Gotham Knight"

Warner Bros. Animation has released three new images to along with the recent press release that was sent out across the internet yesterday. The three images, each one from a different segment of the film. Those who attended WonderCon this past weekend were treated to the world premiere of the Batman: Gotham Knight trailer following the premiere of Justice League: The New Frontier (now available on DVD and Blu-Ray). Click on each image to see a larger version.

Exclusive: New Wolverine Shot

New pic of Hugh Jackman. Snikt!

20th Century Fox has provided Empire Magazine with an exclusive new image of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Click the image below to see it a little bigger. It also appears in mahoosive dimensions in the new issue of Empire, out this Friday.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
is directed by Gavin Hood (Tsotsi) and tells, naturally, the origin of our favorite grumpy mutant. The film also stars Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, Ryan Reynolds, Will i Am and Dominic Monaghan. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is out next summer.

Galactus Being Saved for Silver Surfer

Possibly one of the biggest disappointments for any comic book fan seeing last year's Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was that the world-devouring entity known as Galactus was barely shown, looking more like a giant storm cloud than the immense being with the spiked headpiece and purple outfit that we've come to know and love since his introduction during Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's run on the characters.

Well, have no fear, true believers, because the planned Silver Surfer prequel movie will give the fans what they want, a much better look at Galactus, at least according to the film's screenwriter, J. Michael Straczynski, who mentioned this at his Wondercon Spotlight panel.

As Newsarama reports from the panel:

For what the Silver Surfer movie entails Straczynski says it will cover the origin of the character. He said it will feature Galactus, noting that the latest Fantastic Four film held off on showing Galactus to reveal him for this film.

Who knows when we might actually see the movie as no director or production start has been announced, but you can read the rest of their report where JMS talks about his other movie and comic book work here.

Heroes Gears Up Soon

James Kyson Lee, who plays Ando in NBC's Heroes, told SCI FI Wire that the show will probably return to produce new episodes as early as June for next fall now that the writers' strike is over.

"Or possibly May, if they want to speed it up," Lee said in a group interview at WonderCon in San Francisco over the weekend, where Lee was promoting his upcoming horror movie Shutter. "And I think NBC is going to do another big push again, right after the Olympics, and we'll premiere season three in September."

The upcoming third "volume" in the Heroes
saga will be called "Villains." "I know they're very excited about it," Lee said. "They had a lot of great ideas that they wanted to incorporate, and obviously our second season got cut short because of the strike, so now they're really happy that they're going to be able to play with some stuff."

The "Villains" theme "opens up a whole new world," Lee said. "Are they going to bring a whole new set of characters that are going to face off with us and whatnot?"

The truncated second season left a lot of loose ends, Lee said.
"[The] assassination of Nathan [Adrian Pasdar] and Nicky/Jessica [Ali Larter]," he said. "Is she alive or dead?'"

But for Lee personally, he's eager to work again with Masi Oka, who plays fan favorite Hiro Nakamura.
"I know people are excited that Ando and Hiro are back together after their little stint away [in] different timelines," Lee said. "I think more adventures and mayhem ensue for us."

Lee will next be seen in Shutter, a remake of a Thai supernatural horror film, which opens March 21. Heroes returns in the fall.

7 New Iron Man Movie shots!

And remember: "Iron Man" comes to a theater near you on May 2!

HORTON HEARS A WHO And Aint It Cool News' Spy Sees It!

There are two new clips from this film on Yahoo! Movies right now, and I think they had the opposite effect from what’s intended.

When I saw the first two trailers for this, I was excited by how close they came to the look of classic Dr. Seuss illustrations, and I was hoping the film would play as a righteous homage to his work in general.

Long-time-spy-with-a-brand-new-name “Ouendaaaaaaaaaaan!” pops in today with a full report on his reaction to Blue Sky’s latest animated offering, and it sounds like he felt the way I did after seeing those clips, which seemed more manic than funny, more loud than entertaining.

Let’s see...

Sigh. It's not much fun laying into one of these films. When you hear the Blue Sky guys talk, they're full of such enthusiasm. When you see the images they've generated for the screen, you're amazed at what they've pulled off. When you have a book and an author as well loved as Seuss, you're really pulling for them to get it right. But when you see the finished product, it's a really underwhelming, even slightly draining experience.

I remember the rush of seeing Toy Story for the first time, and everything came together so beautifully that it took a few more viewings to really take in. A leap forward visually, but more than that, a wonderful combination of imagination, characterization and genuine wit, which managed to entrance kids and adults alike. In the mid-90s, something of a golden age for cinema if you ask me, here was a kids' film that left you dizzy on the power of cinema to enthrall and entertain. And while Pixar produced a series of films (which were nearly as good, and occasionally, arguably better) the other 3D guys arrived, and the likes of Shrek were born. For me, the goodwill generated by Pixar's work carried over onto these other films, createing a feeling that a 3D animated movie would be worth seeing. That then began to wane as Dreamworks in particular shovelled out a series of also-rans, dominated by sequels, stunt-casting, uninspired plots and tiresome pop culture references. (Shrek 3 was, for me, one of the better ones as they seemed to not bother with jokes, so we were spared seeing yet another humorous historical take on a Burger King logo...)

To be fair to Blue Sky Studios, I thought Ice Age was a pretty decent start, mainly thanks to the visual humour they brought with Scrat's antics. Robots was pretty middle-of-the-road in my eyes but with Horton Hears A Who, they seem to have completed their transition from Pixar-wannabe to Dreamworks-style also-ran. It starts nicely, with some genuinely impressive visuals: photo-realistic water drops on a leaf start a chain reaction that dislodges the Whoville speck and sets the story in motion. And then the rot of overwhelming seen-it-all-before averageness starts to set in. Here comes Jim Carrey (as Horton) doing his wacky thing once more, with a script that's not really worthy of the enthusiasm he puts into it. Now we'll introduce a few cute, happy-meal-destined sidekicks, most of whom are voiced by someone you'll have heard of, with Seth Rogen being given the most screen-time. He made me laugh a few times, I'm gracious enough to admit.

Down in Whoville, things are a little more entertaining because there's a little more to look at. On the downside, the humour level seems pretty similar. "Thing X is not going to happen!" [Thing X happens]. And then come my beloved pop culture reviews. There's an eye-rollingly tired 2D bit where (stepping on Kung Fu Panda's upcoming toes) Horton imagines himself as a heroic warrior, complete with that joke where people move their mouth a lot and speak like they're dubbing a 70s kung-fu movie. Bombarded with fruit by monkeys, Horton claims to "love the smell of bananas in the morning". They're jokes that'll go over the heads of a young audience and bore the shit out of the parents. It was the moment when the Mayor's assistant (complete with sassy black woman voice over, but a white face) logs onto and brags about how many friends she has when I genuinely lost all hope, though. NNNNGGAAAAAAARGGHGHGHHGH!!!! You're adapting a book that's loved, by a writer loved even more. A nice story with lovely visuals. Just adapt the fucking thing, keep the voiceover, and drop the references to the internet, which didn't even exist when Seuss died. Or if you have to drag the thing kicking and screaming into the modern era, do it with some ingenuity, wit and originality, and leave the riffs on slow-motion action sequences and brief moments of breakdancing for Meet The Spartans 2. It's simply not good enough to make a reference to something without a genuinely good joke to back it up.

I understand why these moments are there - this is a thin story that needed expanding to fill an animated feature. The end result, however, is a film that's occasionally delightful, when all you're given is some impressive visuals and excerpts from the original Seuss rhyme, then increasingly tiresome as everything in between pads out, or flat out pisses on, the good stuff.

Is there anything to like? The finale works pretty well, and would have been a lot more effective on the end of a better film. The angry mob who try to seize Horton's speck are slightly sinister and the way Whoville reacts is worth seeing on a big screen. But that's certainly not a recommendation for this genuinely lackluster effort.

DreamWorks Animation stays the course with HD DVDs

Although Japanese electronics maker Toshiba plans to quit HD DVD technology, DreamWorks Animation said Tuesday that it's remaining in an exclusive distribution deal using the moribund format.

"We have a partnership with Toshiba and have an obligation to see this through," DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said Tuesday.

"As you know, we have been well-compensated for our support. It really is in their court at this point to really declare what the next step will be. We're poised either way to jump into the marketplace when the conditions are right to do so," he said.

Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks signed exclusivity deals in August to distribute films on HD DVD for the next 18 months.

The New York Times, quoting Viacom executives who knew about the deals reported soon afterward that Paramount and DreamWorks would get a combined $150 million in financial incentives for staying with HD DVD.

Next month, DreamWorks plans to release Bee Movie on DVD. It's waiting to hear back from Toshiba on what to do next.

"We said, we have a release coming up on Bee Movie. What would you like us to do?," Katzenberg said in a Reuters interview.

Toshiba has sold a million HD DVD players and recorders since it went public with the new technology in March 2006. It announced this month that it would halt the format following a tough battle with Blu-ray, Sony's rival, which garnered more support from studios and retailers.

The Blu-ray market remains small, said JP Morgan analyst Barton Crockett, although he expects that DreamWorks is trying to get the issue settled by this year's holiday season.

"It might mean they'll lose the opportunity to sell Bee Movie on Blu-ray, although the market for Blu-ray is still pretty small and the offset is that they'd get money from Toshiba, which may, in fact, be more," he said. "But I'm sure they'll like to have this settled by Christmas."

4Q profits help propel DreamWorks Animation shares

DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. shares rose Wednesday by almost 5% -- $1.21 -- to $25.65, one day after the studio reported a stronger fourth quarter than analysts predicted.

Shares in DreamWorks Animation rose 55 cents to $24.44 even before the earnings were announced Tuesday.

The company said that revenues jumped 42% from the previous year to $290.2 million, helped in large part by Shrek The Third's blockbuster box-office performance.

Net profit reached $94.1 million (98 cents a share) in the fourth quarter of 2007, up from a loss of $21.3 million (20 cents a share) a year earlier.

On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected the company to post earnings of 72 cents a share on revenue of $277 million.

Bee Movie, released November 2, was thought by analysts to be a relative disapppointment. However, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg predicted that the film will become profitable after its DVD release next month. The movie made in $126.6 million in North America and $285.2 million worldwide.

Wall Street expects DreamWorks Animation to write down the value of the movie, said Evan Wilson of Pacific Crest Securities.

Wilson says that the next few years will see stronger DreamWorks releases, including Kung Fu Panda, an adaptation of the book How To Train Your Dragon, and Shrek Goes Fourth. "The content of its upcoming films is vastly improved from the struggles it encountered in 2006, and a much-less-crowded 2008 should allow it to post solid numbers for the year," he said.

Goldman Sachs analyst Ingrid Chung thinks that DreamWorks Animation's four films of 2007 and 2008, including Madagascar: The Crate Escape, will outdo its four offerings of 2005 and 2006.

"We look to strong 2008 results from Kung Fu Panda this June in front of the Beijing Olympics and its Christmas season home video release," Chung wrote in a client note.

Worries about the relatively low North American ticket receipts of Bee Movie and concerns about Shrek DVD sales proved exaggerated, added Chung, who held onto a "buy" rating and a $30 per share price target.

Transformers 2 and Justice League Filming Updates

Variety has published an in-depth article talking about how a posssible Screen Actors Guild (SAG) strike could affect movie productions starting soon. The trade says Hollywood studios are refusing to schedule new start dates on films that can't complete shooting by June 30.

Transformers 2 director Michael Bay said the labor cloud has made the process harder, but not impossible as he tries to keep the film on track for an early June start in order to make its scheduled June 26, 2009 release date.

"If there is a strike, we shut down, but shutting down isn't that big a deal," Bay told the trade. "You make accommodations, you make a deal with vending houses on equipment and on the stages where you are shooting. You hope for the best, but you can't be incapacitated by the possibility that there will be a strike. We've got to get this town back to work. I can't imagine anyone wants another strike, we're all tired. Hopefully clearer heads will prevail."

Bay said that the sequel is still recovering from the writers strike, and that he's playing catch-up after getting back his trio of writers, Ehren Kruger, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

"They did a detailed outline before the writer's strike, and now they are in Michael Bay jail, holed up in a hotel and working feverishly," Bay said. "We're paying for a beautiful suite and they are getting a lot of work done. Hiring three writers was unusual, but it has been a godsend in getting us to where we need to be. Somehow you find a way to get it done."

Warner Bros. is hoping for director George Miller to begin filming superhero extravaganza Justice League in mid-July for a 2009 release. The project has been off-and-on in the last several months, as the script needed work. The minute the strike was over, scribes Kiernan and Michele Mulroney began rewriting the script. The studio is hoping to get a draft in the next six weeks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Newer Stuff...

These are some character designs I did for a, as of yet, untitled live-action/animated anime-style documentary....