Thursday, February 7, 2008

News - 02/07/08...

Super Bowl Animated Talking Pandas Ad Pulled Over Complaints of Racial Stereotyping

The New York Times is reporting that an animated ad aired during the Super Bowl has been pulled from rotation over complaints that it is racially insensitive. The ad for depicts two pandas speaking in what were intended to be Chinese accents and has triggered complaints, although the article does not specify where or from who. The chief of the parent company, Vinod Gupta, apologized if the ads gave offense, while also pointing out that his company's other ad, which featured an animated salesman with an Indian accent, would continue to air.

Accidental Pill Overdose Killed Heath Ledger

The Dark Knight star Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

The cause of death was "acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The drugs are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. Hydrocodone is a widely used prescription painkiller.

Borakove wouldn't say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger's blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

"What you're looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together," she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment. Police found bottles of six types of prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, in his bedroom and bathroom.

Ledger was discovered by his masseuse on Jan. 22 after she arrived for an appointment that afternoon. She entered his bedroom to set up for the massage and found him unresponsive, and proceeded to call Mary-Kate Olsen three times over the next 9 minutes before dialing 911. Ledger had been dead for some time, and police say no foul play occurred.

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, Ledger's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

UPDATE: 'Wolverine And The X-Men' Trailer Online

The trailer for the upcoming Wolverine And The X-Men cartoon is now online at Cyber-Animation.

The show will debut in the UK on BBC in the first quarter of 2008, but has no release date or network for the USA as of yet.

Here is how the series is described:

When an explosive event shatters the lives of the X-Men and takes away their mentor, the beaten heroes walk away from it all.

But then they're given a rare glimpse into the future, and see a world in utter ruin, ruled by giant destructive robots. A world that spiraled out of control because the X-Men had given up.

So now the most legendary of all X-Men takes the lead - Wolverine! Reuniting these broken heroes, Wolverine embarks on the ultimate mission - to prevent de world's destruction.

To rescue us from ourselves. To save the future.

Update: If the trailer cannot be viewed at Cyber-Animation, it can be found at

WGA Saturday Meeting Could End Strike

The entire industry is holding their breath awaiting the results of meetings in NYC and L.A. where the WGA top brass will pitch the new contract to the members, hopefully ending the three-month-old strike, reports the trades. Members will meet in L.A. at 7:00 pm at the Shrine Auditorium, while WGA East will hold their meeting at the Crowne Plaza at 2:00 pm.

If the members like the deal, the guilds' boards could start the ratification process over the weekend, which could lead writers returning to work as early as Monday. The ratification process could take as long as two weeks, but if a majority of the rank-and-file support the deal a "back-to-work" order may be issued as a good faith measure.

However, the deal isn't a lock with a group of members unhappy with the streaming deal that was part of the DGA agreement and rumors that the contract would give studios a 17- to 24-day free usage window for online. However on the flipside, there is another group of showrunners and writers who have threatened to go back to work if a deal isn't put in place soon, believing that the longer the strike is drawn out the more harmful it is to the writers' cause.

Over the past two weeks, negotiating committee chief John Bowman, WGA West president Patric Verrone and exec director David Young worked on the contract with News Corp. president/COO Peter Chernin and Disney CEO Robert Iger. Bowman, Verrone and Young will lead the L.A. meeting, while WGA East president Michael Winship will oversee the NYC powwow.

Dr. Toon: Persepolis Who?

In a rare, good old-fashioned rant, Martin "Dr. Toon" Goodman takes to task the distribution of indie animation, which makes NYC and L.A. happy, but leaves the majority of the country asking -- Persepolis who?

Animation World Magazine

Anime Alert!

Japan Society Screens Pre-War Anime in New York City Feb 13-16, 2008

The Japan Society in New York City will be screening rare pre-war Japanese cartoons from February 13-16, 2008, as part of its Globus Film Series. The films from the 1920s-40s are being screened in the United States for the first time with English subtitles, and silent films will have live narration by Japan's premiere benshi (silent film narrator) Midori Sawato. Screenings are $10 a night for regular admission, $7 for Japan Society members and seniors, and $4.50 for students. There will also be a reception following the screenings on the evening of February 13.

Oscar Shorts Getting Theatrical Release

Magnolia Pictures and Shorts International will release a program of this year's nominated short subjects, including the animated ones, to theaters, Variety reports. The program will open in fifty cities on February 15 and expand in subsequent weeks.

"Toy Story 3" Scheduled for 2010 Release

Disney-Pixar will release Toy Story 3 in 2010, Reuters reports. Disney CEO also reiterated plans to release 3-D versions of the first two Toy Story movies in 2009.

More "Horseland" for DIC

DIC Entertainment has ordered 26 new episodes of Horseland, c21 Media reports. DIC is in the midst of giving the series a major licensing and merchandising push across Europe.

"The Mechanics of the Heart" Getting 3D Toon Treatment

Filmmaker Luc Besson, who made a name for himself in action films, such as Le Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element, before venturing into animation with Arthur and the Invisibles, has reportedly acquired another property to be brought to the screen with CG animation. According to Daily Variety, Besson’s EuropaCorp has picked up rights to Mathias Malzieu’s sci-fi novel La Mecanique du Coeur (The Mechanics of the Heart).

La Mecanique du Coeur takes place in 1874 and involves a young man who must avoid strong emotions, especially love, because his heart was replaced by a clock at birth. The author will co-write and co-direct the pic with Stephane Berla and Joann Sfar, who contributed graphic elements for the book and a music album by Dionysos, which was inspired by and released in conjunction with the novel.

EuropaCorp is quickly expanding its slate of animated films. In addition to two sequels to Arthur and the Invisibles, the company is working on a CG flick titled A Monster in Paris, with Shark Tale co-director Eric “Bilbo” Bergeron helming. Stated for release in April of 2010, the film will have a monster attacking the City of Lights in the year 1910.

Weinsteins Capture Wolf Boy

Daily Variety reports that The Weinstein Co. has optioned film rights to the Evan Kuhlman book Wolf Boy: A Novel, with plans to make a feature that combines live action and animation. When the writers’ strike ends, screenplay duties will be handled by Christopher Parker, who co-wrote the script for Disney’s 2004 animated sequel Mulan II.

The title Wolf Boy refers to a comic-book superhero created by a young man as a way of dealing with the tragic loss of his older brother and mentor, who was killed in a car accident. A major theme of the story is the power that art has in healing a broken family. Within the pages of the family drama lies as compelling graphic novel drawn by Brendon and Brian Fraim. The paperback version from Three Rivers Press includes bonus material including a reading group guide and an insider's scoop on creating the comic-book sections of the novel. Kuhlman has set up a blog page for the book at

Published in 2006, Wolf Boy has received critical acclaim, including a rave review by legendary comic-book creator Stan Lee. The film version will be produced by Irwin Winkler and Jill Cutler through Winkler Films.

Fillion to Voice Trevor in Wonder Woman

The World's Finest reports that Nathan Fillion (Serenity, "Firefly") will provide the voice of Steve Trevor in Warner Bros.' upcoming direct-to-DVD Wonder Woman animated film. He'll be joining Keri Russell, who voices Wonder Woman, in the film scheduled to hit stores in late 2008/early 2009.

G.I Joe captures Cover Girl

Czech Supermodel KarolĂ­na Isela Kurková will be bringing Courtney A. Kreiger, better known as Cover Girl, to life in Paramount's “G.I Joe”, according to

Prior to joining G.I. Joe, Cover Girl was a highly successful fashion model from Peoria, Illinois who graced the covers of countless magazines, but she found the world of modeling unfulfilling and joined the army to seek out new challenges in life. She felt very driven to master distinctly unfeminine traits in order to prove that she was not just a pretty face. She is one of G.I. Joe's tank jockeys, specializing in the Wolverine missile tank.

“G.I Joe” stars, among others, Channing Tatum, Dennis Quaid and Sienna Miller. Batteries not Included.

Animation Block Party exposes its shorts in Mass.

This weekend, Animation Block Party heads to the Boston suburb of Brookline, Massachusetts to showcase its best animated shorts from the past four years of summer festivals.

There will be two midnight screenings of this special "best of ABP" program at Coolidge Corner Theatre on Friday and Sunday, February 8 and 9. This is the only stop outside of Brooklyn for Animation Block Party, New York City's premiere animation festival.

This special midnight screening series of 20 short films will feature various ABP festival winners, including Ben Meinhardt's Binge and Purge; Anton Bogaty's Manning; Bob Fox's Breakfast; and films from MassArt and other Boston talents: Becky James (a Harvard alumna), Trevor Piecham and Ashley Holzwasser.

The official Animation Block Party film festival runs at the end of July every summer in Brooklyn and opens for worldwide submissions January 8. Last summer, ABP received over 650 entries from all over the world and screened 88 films during its four-day July summerfest.

Many of the filmmakers will be in attendance at this weekend's showcase.

Coolidge Corner Theatre is at 290 Harvard Street in Brookline. All seats are $7.75 each.

For further details, call (617) 734-2500 or visit For more information about Animation Block Party, go to

Briefly: MyToons Gets a YouTube Channel; Studios Add Software to Animation Systems

* MyToons will get its own branded YouTube channel under a deal announced by the animation site today. [Business Wire]

* Hong Kong's Imagi Studios has chosen PipelineFX's Qube! software to handle rendering tasks in its upcoming feature film projects. [Broadcast Newsroom]

* DreamWorks Animation has added parallel file server software made by Ibrix to its digital animation system. [Computer World]

* Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner will deliver the keynote address at the Adobe Acrobat and PDF Conference later this year. [Planet PDF]

"Ben 10" Complete Season Three to Air in March on Teletoon

Teletoon will broadcast over eight hours of Ben 10 on Saturday, March 15, when it airs the finale of the series' second season and all thirteen episodes of its third, the network announced today. This Ben 10 bloc will then be followed by a broadcast of Ben 10: Secret of the Omnitrix. The marathon starts at 10:00am (ET/PT); the series will air regularly on weekdays at 3:30pm.

Total Drama Island will also get a marathon special during the month. Thirteen hours of the animated "reality show" will air on March 8 and 9 at 11:00am.

March will bring a mix of movies to the animation channel, led off by the Canadian premiere of Re-Animated on March 8 at 5:00pm with encores on March 13 (4:00pm) and March 14 (9:00am). Other animated cinema offerings will include Tom & Jerry: The Fast and the Furry on March 10 (9:00am); Batman: Mask of the Phantasm on March 11 (1:00pm); Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero on March 12 (1:00pm); Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker on March 13 (1:00pm); and Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders on March 13 (4:00pm).

Teletoon will also broadcast the live-action movies Batman Forever; Batman and Robin; Scooby-Doo: The Movie; Scooby-Doo: Monsters Unleashed; and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during the month.

Easter-themed specials Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies and Daffy Duck's Easter Egg-citement will also be shown, on March 20 (7:30pm) and March 21 (7:30pm), respectively. The Fat Albert Easter Special will air on March 21 at 8:00pm.

Superhero Movie Pics

The trailer for Superhero Movie that was leaked onto YouTube and then removed is now available at the spoof action-comedy's official website. We've also received two photos from the pic, written and directed by Craig Mazin. Starring Sara Paxton, Leslie Nielsen, Drake Bell, Christopher McDonald, Kevin Hart, Marion Ross, Ryan Hansen, Jeffrey Tambor and Brent Spiner, it opens in theaters on March 28.

"Panic" in the Theaters by 2009

The Belgian cartoon series Panique au village (A Town Called Panic) will be adapted into a feature film by its creative team, Variety reports. Producers are aiming for a 2009 completion date.

From Aintitcoolnews...

Some of Harry's Favorite Cartoons...

Hey folks, Harry here... A lot of folks ask me over and over and over again about my favorite films of all time. It's an old question - it seems if you write about film - it's the question that rules your life. That and, "What's the best movie out to see right now?" - There's nothing wrong with the questions - or any question, but today I received a one-sheet that I bought this past week and in talking to a friend online - when I sent him the image of WOODLAND CAFE - a Silly Symphony cartoon from 1937 - he wasn't familiar - so I looked it up on YouTube and realized... there's a ton of cartoons online and I decided to see if my favorites were up. These are all non-character based cartoons - meaning you won't be seeing Betty Boop, Popeye, Donald Duck, Daffy Duck or any of the familiar characters of the major studio cartoons. These are my obscure favorites. In most cases - I own these in 16mm and have watched them an incalculable number of times. And I figured, if I was going to do that - that I'd share those cartoons with you. So here we go...

BALLOON LAND (1935) Ub Iwerks ComiColor

The Pincushion Man is just amazing - and a world where rubber trees are the basis for life - then the resulting lifeforms are just primed for warping animated glee. LOVE IT!

ANTS IN THE PLANTS (1940) Max Fleischer Color Classics

This cartoon has some of the oddest vocalizations ever - with these first two cartoons - you can see what led to my love of Godzilla films - the idea of something unstoppable threatening a weaker citizenry. I love the Ants' little song, "Make em cry uncle!" Love this...

FRESH VEGETABLE MYSTERY (1939) Max Fleischer Color Classics

Whoever came up with the idea of potatoes as drunken Irish cops - I just love it. The animation is gorgeous - but I love animated tales where things that can't come to life, come to life - it's high carb fun!

SKELETON FROLIC (1937) Ub Iwerks for Columbia - A Color Rhapsody

I love Ub's original SKELETON DANCE that he did for Silly Symphony and Walt Disney - but this very seldom seen SKELETON FROLIC is so much fun. The colors... the Technicolor is just so vibrant and strange. I love it.

THE TELL-TALE HEART (1953) UPA Production (Narrated by James Mason)

I discovered this cartoon when i was buying a collection of 16mm shorts from a fella - he described it to me as being an old High School Educational film telling of Edgar Allan Poe's THE TELL-TALE HEART. Well, I like Poe - so I risked $5 on it. But what I discovered I had was an unbelievably brilliant UPA cartoon that was conceived for 3D - but their budget got cut - but the voice work by James Mason is just shattering. Unhinged. Love this.

LITTLE BUCK CHEESER (1937) Harman-Ising

I saw this as a very little kid - and it's just stayed with me. I love the idea of a little kid mouse looking up at the moon, having heard it was made of Cheese - having read a thrown away edition of the funnies and deciding to build a rocketship. It's sweet and animated so well. Reminds me of being a kid and dreaming of all the ludicrous things we dream of as kids.

CLOSED MONDAYS (1974) Directed by Will Vinton / Bob Gardiner

I love going to art museums - and I've been to many of the best museums in the world - but no matter where in the world I am - I think about this animated film by Will Vinton. To dream of the painting moving, changing, transforming. A great animated film.

TULIPS SHALL GROW (1942) Madcap Models - George Pal

One of the great Puppetoons from George Pal - Produced as the fear of WWII and the Nazis was everywhere. George made this to express how he felt about the German war machine and what it was doing to his native lands. Great.

PEACE ON EARTH (1939) MGM - directed by Hugh Harman

The idea of the forest animals telling stories about the legend of "Man" - chilling. One of the greatest cartoons of all time.

MUSIC LAND (1935) Walt Disney Silly Symphony

I love the idea of this cartoon. Made in 1935 - when Symphonic music was being assaulted by the popularity of Jazz... it's a theme that continues to today - and throughout the generations that always disagree about the "new" music. The animation is beautiful and the music is dreamy. I love this.

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