Friday, February 1, 2008

News - 02/01/08...

Cartoon Network Valentine's Day Marathon 2008

Love is in the air, whether they like it or not for Chowder, the Eds and the guys at "Foster's." Cartoon Network is planning a five-hour marathon on Valentines Day this year, featuring network originals in romance-themed episodes or television specials. Episodes of 'Out of Jimmy's Head,' 'Camp Lazlo' and 'The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy' are also in the line-up. The marathon will be hosted by Chowder. Full schedule inside.

Anime Network Hits 35m Households

A.D. Vision, Inc.'s Anime Network channel, available as subscription video on demand and online, has found its way into roughly 35 million households across the United States. After inking two deals with Mediacom Communications and Charter Communications in January, the anime culture channel, which now airs '5cm per Second' and 'Kanon,' has an increasingly impressive level of household penetration.

Concert, variety TV producer Dwight Hemion dies

TV producer-director Dwight Hemion, the record-holder for the most Emmy Award nominations (47), died Monday at his Rectortown, Virginia home of renal failure. He was 81.

The recipient of 18 Emmys and five Directors Guild of America Awards, he was a pioneer in televised concerts and variety specials.

"He defined what the network spectacular was in the 1960s and 1970s," said Ron Simon, a curator at the Paley Center for Media, a New York-based museum of radio and TV history. "He was the go-to guy for any established performer to create a special with."

The producer and director of the 1981 Disneyland biography Walt Disney: One Man's Dream, Hemion also directed 1982's Epcot Center: The Opening Celebration.

He was also executive producer of Nelvana's notorious The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978), which included a 12-minute animated sequence (produced by George Lucas as a test for a possible Star Wars animated film). This sequence is considered the prologue of what would become the second installment of the Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back.

One of TV's greatest disasters, The Star Wars Holiday Special featured Bea Arthur in live action as an alien cantina singer. Art Carney, Jefferson Starship and Chewbacca also were cast members. Lucas reportedly disclaims responsibility for this fiasco and will not allow its video release.

Hemion's work with the Mouse House included two 1991 and 1994 specials, both named The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Teacher Awards, and 2000's Lifetime Presents: Disney's American Teacher Awards.

He was executive producer of three TV specials in 1993, 1994 and 1998 -- each titled Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra -- as well as 1999's Disney's Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra in Concert.

For the 1993 production, he received Emmy nominations for outstanding individual achievement in cultural programming and outstanding classical program in the performing arts. For the 1994 special, he was nominated for outstanding individual achievement in cultural programming and outstanding cultural program.

And the 1999 production earned him a shared Emmy nomination for outstanding children's program.

For much of his career, he worked closely with producer Gary Smith. He worked opposite such stars as Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

Hemion won Emmys for such shows as Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music (1965), Bette Midler: Ol' Red Hair Is Back (1977) and Baryshnikov on Broadway (1980), as well as awards for directing the Kennedy Center Honors in 1989 and 1990.

He created such TV memories as Barbra Streisand's "Second Hand Rose" from her famed My Name is Barbra concert and Liza Minnelli and Baryshnikov singing "One" from A Chorus Line. He directed a concert of Phantom star Michael Crawford on PBS, and directed presidential inaugurals of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Among Hemion's producing credits were Dorothy Hamill in Romeo & Juliet on Ice, Las Vegas: Palace of Stars and The 17th Annual People's Choice Awards.

He directed The Cheryl Ladd Special, The Television Academy Hall of Fame, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Neil Diamond: The Christmas Special and Christmas in Washington.

Working with George Stevens Jr., the founding producer of the Kennedy Center Honors, he produced such projects as the "Christmas in Washington" shows, taped annually at the National Building Museum.

Born Dwight Arlington Hemion on March 14, 1926 in New Haven, Connecticut, he was raised in Verona, New Jersey. Hemion began as a gofer at ABC-TV in New York.

Hemion received two Emmy nominations in 1965. He won for shows featuring such luminaries as Broadway's Ben Vereen, composer-lyricist Burt Bacharach and Goldie Hawn, then just starting in Hollywood. He won Emmys for directing Barbra Streisand... and Other Musical Instruments (1973) and Barbra Streisand: The Concert (1994).

Dwight Hemion's marriage to the former Joyce Hogue ended in divorce. He is survived by Katherine Morrissy "Kit," his wife of 34 years; two children from his first marriage, Katherine E. Hemion of London and Dwight G. Hemion of Alma, Wisconsin; stepchildren Anne Brady of Far Hills, New Jersey, Katherine Vanoff of Upperville, Virginia and Peter Lusk of Pound Ridge, New York; and six grandchildren.

Stop, Look and Listen on TCM

Back in April, we posted to a YouTube link of Chuck Menville and Len Janson’s Oscar nominated live-action pixilation short, Stop, Look and Listen(1967). Warner Bros. keeps removing it from the ‘net (it was a MGM short), but you can capture it on video via TCM tomorrow night (actually early Saturday morning). It’s being broadcast Friday Feb 1 (really the wee hours of Feb 2) at approximately 4:13 AM, as part of their 31 Days of Oscar programming. So set your TiVo or DVR’s.

More "Animalia" Books Coming from Penguin

Penguin Group will publish a line of story and activity books based on the Animalia TV series, World Screen reports. The CG-animated series is based on the Graeme Base book that Penguin itself publishes.

The first books to be released under the deal will be available in Australia and New Zealand in August, and in the US in the fall.

Newsarama Interviews "Phineas & Ferb" Co-Creators and "Mr. Men Show"'s Kurt Mueller

Newsarama's Animated Shorts column has posted a double-set of interviews: one with Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, co-creators of Disney's Phineas & Ferb; and the other with Kurt Mueller, one of three creators of Cartoon Network's The Mr. Men Show. Povenmire and Marsh talk about how the pair have come through the industry together, the long gestational period of Phineas & Ferb, and the importance of music to the show. Meanwhile, Mueller discusses how he turned Roger Hargreave's Mr. Men series of children's books into a TV show by way of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.

Bulk Up Like Wolverine!

Australia's Health Brands has posted an interesting article on how Hugh Jackman's personal trainer Michael Ryan bulked up the actor to reprise his title role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Check it out here!

Segal's Shazam! Is Serious

Director Peter Segal revealed details about his upcoming comic-book adaptation Shazam! during an interview with IGN Movies. Segal, who is currently in post-production on the big-screen version of Get Smart, said that while Shazam! may have some light moments, it won't be an all-out comedy like his previous films.

"I think in even some of the best dramas there's always a sense of humor that you can bring to it," Segal told the site. "I've read some people who've said I'm trying to make a lighter, funny Shazam!, which is not true. I want to stay very faithful to the source material there."

But that doesn't mean that Segal won't bring his trademark sensibilities to the project.

"It is a 13-year-old boy who becomes a superhero, and I think there is an element of Big in that, and I think there always was in the comic book," he said. "When Stan Lee came to me many, many years ago about doing Fantastic Four ... I asked Stan: 'Why me? Why Chris Columbus originally before Chris handed it to me?' And he said, 'Because all of my heroes have flaws and in those flaws there's a sense of humor and humanity.' And that's what he saw in some of my work. So I think that would be the common theme, no matter what the story is. If I could bring some of what I learned over the past decade or so to those kinds of stories, I think I can help tell those stories even better."

Segal also said that he's considering Get Smart cast member Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson for the role of Shazam's arch enemy, Black Adam. He plans to let Johnson read the script after the writers' strike is over and another draft can be written.

"I just started telling him the story and I thought that he might be a great Black Adam," Segal said. "And what's fascinating now is even though the comic book was created and born in 1939 with Captain Marvel as the star, today Geoff Johns has made [Black Adam] one of the preeminent bad guys in several comics. And so that puts even more pressure on Dwayne for that role, in a good way."

Kit Kat’s Ultimate Break

This nicely crafted, character-driven viral advertisement, The Ultimate Break, was produced out of Paris based Akama Studio.

I don’t know about you, but I can go for a Kit Kat bar right now.

Essential Viewing: Art Babbitt Documentary

Mathieu Vierendeel has posted onto YouTube the fascinating 1987 documentary Animating Art which examines the life and art of legendary animator Art Babbitt. The 40-minute film includes commentary from Babbitt himself, as well as interviews with Richard Williams and Andreas Deja. It’s a terrific intro to Babbitt’s work that leaves one wanting to hear and see more about the master animator. Part 1 is below, the rest of it can be viewed here.

Koch Vision Announces To The Universe The Long-Awaited "Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers" Return to DVD!

The first 32 Episodes of the 1980's syndicated series will be released in chronological order for the very first time ever in highy-collectible 4-Disc set which is packed full with bonus features will be available on May 13, 2008 for around $39.98(SRP).

So hitch a wagon train to the stars with Zachery Foxx, "Doc" Hartford, Niko and Shane Gooseman - The Galaxy Rangers - a team of courageous pioneers committed to the highest ideals of justice and dedicated to preserving law and order across the new frontier. For the very first time ever, experience the The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers (episodes 1-32) in chronological order with all continuity and stroylines intact, plus exclusive, never-before-seen bonus features. No Guts, No Glory! Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers Collection: Volume 1 will be released as a 4-DVD set, with over 11 Hours of action-packed adventure. as well as cool bonus features.

Box Image and Pre-order information can be found here: BCDB DVD RELEASE FORUM!

Ruby-Spears supervisor Gordon Bellamy dead at 70

Animation artist Gordon R. Bellamy, unit supervisor for Ruby-Spears Productions' 1980s series Alvin and the Chipmunks, died Tuesday in New York at 70.

Bellamy was an assistant animator on the Warner Bros. feature films Space Jam (1995), Quest For Camelot (1998) and The Iron Giant (1999).

On September 11, 2001, Bellamy was living in a Lower Manhattan loft so close to the Twin Towers that they were visible from his skylight. His account of that day -- and of the effect of 9/11 on the New York animation community -- ran in the March and April 2002 issues of The Peg-Board, the monthly newsletter of The Animation Guild.

Only eighteen when he started at Walt Disney Studios in 1956, Bellamy resigned after a year and a half. He had a long and varied career on both coasts of the United States, as well as in his native Texas.

In the 1980s, he did layouts for both Ruby-Spears and Hanna-Barbera, and was unit supervisor for the 1984 Ruby-Spears special The Cabbage Patch Kids' First Christmas.

With Jimmy Murakami and Chris Ishii, he directed Format Films' The MAD Magazine TV Special. Though made in 1974, it was never aired, nor was the half-hour show officially released.

elementFX Animates Iron Chef

Visual effects studio elementFX has created an animated spot that employs the anime style in promoting the popular Food Network series Iron Chef America. In the piece, five top chefs duke it out with knives and other kitchen implements, transforming raw materials into culinary food masterpieces with ninja-like aerial moves.

“As huge fans of the show, we were thrilled to work on this project and give our favorite chefs their unique animated personae, especially the highly revered Morimoto”, comments elementFX animation director Marjolaine Tremblay. “The Food Network gave us full creative license to produce a superlatively fun spot within a really tight budget.”

The spot can be viewed on The Food Network and Discovery Channel throughout the coming year. It was directed and produced by Julio Cabral, with Arin Finger serving as vfx/animation producer. Other elementFX crew members wo worked on the promo include 2D animator Jorden Oliwa, storyboard artist Robert Valley and color/paint artist Tyne Delwiche. The studio is located in Marin County, Calif.

Superhero Movie Trailer Now Online

Yesterday I gave you new details about Dimension Films and MGM's Superhero Movie, and you can now watch the trailer below. Written and directed by Craig Mazin and produced by David Zucker, the comedy looks mostly like a spoof of the "Spider-Man" movies. Opening March 28, the film stars Sara Paxton, Leslie Nielsen, Drake Bell, Christopher McDonald, Kevin Hart, Marion Ross, Ryan Hansen, Jeffrey Tambor and Brent Spiner. The official site is also online at

Speed Racer Lego Pics!

Yesterday I brought you the news of Lego making Speed Racer toys and today I bring you actual photos courtesy of Collider.

Damn lil Speed Racer looks cute, doesn't he??? And below we have little Trixie and Chim-Chim!

“The popularity and universal appeal of “Speed Racer” has engaged generations of loyal and enduring fans,” said Jill Wilfert, Vice President, Partnership and Alliance Management for LEGO Group. “Combined with one of our most popular lines in LEGO Racers, SPEED RACER has become an awesome proposition for our business and consumers.”

And a little Racer X!!!! SO COOL! I can't wait to build my own Mach 5!!! You can click here to see bigger photos, an additional playset, and information about all the playsets!

Aardman’s The Pearce Sisters Online

After being denied an Oscar nod for Best Animated Short, Aardman has posted Luis Cook’s award-winning short The Pearce Sisters onto AtomFilms. The film’s official website is here and the site offers some interesting details about how the film’s unique look was achieved. Well worth a view.

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