Friday, February 8, 2008

News - 02/08/08...

Boomerang Brings Out the Villains

Evil Tribute on Valentine's Day

The Boomerang network is preparing its viewers for a somewhat special Valentine's Day of programming this year. Rather than dipping into the traditionally lovey-dovey material that sister-network Cartoon Network will deal out this February; Boomerang will be employing all of classic animation's cast of villains for their special day of programming. Rotten, conniving and selfish as they may be, the villains of Boomerang still feel love… even if it's a different kind of love.

Boomerang's Valentine's Day villains marathon will span a massive eleven hours as a tribute to all of the things the bad guy's love. Featured villainy for this marathon will range all of the way from the quite memorable Dick Dastardly (The Wacky Races) to a more contemporary villain, Mandark (Dexter's Laboratory). Starting at 9:00am (ET) and running throughout the entire day without commercials until 8:00pm, Boomerang's "Top Villains" day will be sure to touch on other animation fan favorites, like Gargamel (The Smurfs). A breakdown of the bad guys featured on Boomerang's special day of programming are as follows:

Mandark: As seen in Genndy Tartakovsky's Dexter's Laboratory, a series that follows a boy genius who has a secret laboratory filled with highly advanced equipment hidden behind a bookshelf in his bedroom. Mandark is Dexter's arch-nemesis. Often through fraud or (rarely) by coincidence, Mandark attempts to take credit for Dexter's achievements. It should also be mentioned that Mandark is "secretly" in love with Dee Dee, Dexter's pesky younger sister. Mandark continuously develops diabolical and nasty schemes against Dexter in a plot to see who the real boy genius is.

Gargamel: As seen in The Smurfs, he's a sorcerer and the sworn enemy of the Smurfs. Gargamel is an evil wizard who is actually more of an alchemist since his main ability is to create magic potions. Along with his evil cat Azrael, he spends his time trying to destroy the Smurfs. Although he often catches Smurfs who wander by his home or whom he happens across in the forest, Gargamel doesn't know the location of the hidden Smurf village, a fact that continually frustrates him. The Smurfs made their appearance first in Belgian comics in 1958 but are best known from the 1980s animated television series that was produced by Hanna-Barbera.

Sylvester Sneekly (aka The Hooded Claw): As seen in The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, formerly of Hanna-Barbera's The Wacky Races, this series follows the lovely heroine racecar driver Penelope Pitstop, who is imperiled by Sylvester Sneekly (aka The Hooded Claw), who seeks to get rid of her in order to acquire her inheritance.

Penelope is protected by her legal guardians, a bevy of buffoons known as the Ant Hill Mob, who also appeared in The Wacky Races.

Dick Dastardly: As seen in The Wacky Races, where racecar drivers and their equally zany turbine-driven contraptions enter competitions with the sole purpose of winning the title of the world's "Wackiest Racer." Evil Dick Dastardley and his snickering dog Muttley endanger their efforts. Hanna-Barbera produced this weekly Saturday morning series back in 1968.

EA and Steven Spielberg Reveal Boom Blox

EA's Casual Entertainment Label today announced BOOM BLOX, the first game developed in collaboration between EA and Steven Spielberg. This high-energy game features over three hundred levels, a variety of activities, a cast of over 30 characters, and an easy-to-use in-game editor that allows players to express their creativity. BOOM BLOX will be available in May 2008 for the Wii.

"I am a gamer myself, and I really wanted to create a videogame that I could play with my kids," said Spielberg. "BOOM BLOX features an enormous amount of fun challenges and cool scenarios for your kids to solve or for you to master together."

Players can explore the visceral gameplay that keeps them destroying their way through brain-twisting challenges. They can interact with entertaining characters such as the Blox-laying chickens or the baseball throwing monkeys, who bring personality to the tiki, medieval, frontier, and haunted themed environments. Additionally, players can remix any level of the game in Create Mode using props, blocks, or characters that have been unlocked during the game. Plus, their designs can then be shared with friends or used to challenge others to solve their newly created puzzle via WiiConnect24.

"We developed BOOM BLOX with endless combinations of gameplay in mind," explains Louis Castle, Exec Producer. "With over three hundred levels, built upon a full realtime physics model, your experience can be as easy or difficult as you want it to be -- there really is something for everyone to enjoy."

"My inspiration for this game came while I was playing the Wii for the first time," added Spielberg. "From the initial concept to what the game is today, it's always been built around the innovations the Wii brings to playing games. BOOM BLOX plays on the enjoyment of building and knocking down blocks, something that can appeal innately to kids and adults of all ages."

Developed at EA Los Angeles under the EA Casual Entertainment Label, BOOM BLOX has not yet been rated by the ESRB and PEGI. For more information, visit

BOOM BLOX is also in production for mobile phones and will be widely available this Spring.

In 2005, EA and Steven Spielberg entered a multi-year collaboration that would generate three new original franchise properties. EA owns the intellectual properties and the franchises will be developed, published, and distributed worldwide by EA. Spielberg has been working directly with the EA development teams at the EALA studio in Playa Vista.

Next Tuesday: Patrick Smith Show in NY

Hot on the heels of his first solo art show last September, New York director and animator Patrick Smith is having another solo exhibit of his paintings, as well as drawings from his animated shorts. The show opens next Tuesday, February 12, at RIOT New York, a visual fx and post-production studio that Smith has worked with closely on both his independent shorts and commercial projects. Opening reception is from 6:30-10pm at RIOT (545 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor, NY, NY). More details about the show are available at Pat Smith’s website.

David Levy on The Rise of NY Indie Features

ASIFA-East president David Levy has penned a new column in the ASIFA-East monthly newsletter Anymator about the growth of indie East Coast features. An incredible seven artists out here are working on or have recently completed independent features: Bill Plympton, Michael Sporn, Nina Paley, Paul Fierlinger, Emily Hubley, Dan Kanemoto, and Tatia Rosenthal.

In his article, entitled “Better Late Than Never,” Levy learns more about these features by interviewing four of the filmmakers: Michael Sporn, Nina Paley, Paul Fierlinger and Dan Kanemoto. It’s a pleasure to hear the filmmakers describing the subject matter of their films: the relationship between a WWII pilot and his father, a film based on the memoirs of British author J.R.Ackerley, a biography of Edgar Allen Poe, and an animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Sounds like American animated features are finally growing up.

(Image above from Paul Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip)

UPDATE: 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.

UPDATE: These short animations will be presented each night in four differing themes, matched with a silent live-action film of the same genre and era. Travel back in time to experience silent films as they were once presented in prewar Japan! Silent films will be presented with live narration with Japan's premiere benshi, Midori Sawato.

† With live benshi narration!
*These silent films are presented with music recently added to the films.

7 p.m. Wednesday, February 13
Part 1: Chambara Action & Adventure

Twelve animations; 1 live-action film. Program approx. 95 min. Followed by a reception.
Ghost ships, sword fights and sunken treasures playfully fill the films Over a Drink and Hyoe and Heibe's Tengu Hunt. A monkey reigns in the animal kingdom with his sumo skills in Animal Sumo. More animations are followed by the live-action film with legendary action star Hideto Hayabusa, Fighting in Ashura Town.

The Tiny One Makes It Big* (1929)
1 min 6 sec. Creator unknown.
The Bat†* (1930)
10 min 27 sec. By Yasuji Murata.
Animal Sumo* (1931)
43 sec. Creator unknown.
The Plane Cabby's Lucky Day†* (1932)
10 min 14 sec. By Teizo Kato.
Hyoe and Heibe's Tengu Hunt (1934)
8 min 16 sec. By Noburo Oyama.
Ta-chan's Underwater Adventure* (1935)
1 min 11 sec. By Kenzo Masaoka.
Ninja Fireball in Edo* (1935)
1 min 8 sec. By Yoshi Tanaka.
Hatanosuke Takes Down the Inazuma Gang†* (Year n/a)
1min 34 sec. Creator unknown.
Over a Drink†* (1936)
10 min 29 sec. By Yasuji Murata.
Taro's Early Training Days† (1936)
5 min 26 sec. By Atsushi Suzuki.
The Duckling Saves the Day* (Year n/a)
1 min 8 sec. Creator unknown.
The Underwater Tyrant* (Year n/a)
1 min 7 sec. Creator unknown.
Live action adventure add-on!
Fighting in Ashura Town† * (1938)
36 min. Directed by Takeshi Yashiro.
In this comical and action-packed adventure film, down-and-out news reporter Hayato (Hayabusa) and photographer Debuyama go on a top-secret assignment that could save their careers. When the mission turns into a murder-kidnapping case, they vow to solve it on their own.

7 p.m. Thursday, February 14
Part 2: Horror & Comedy

Six animations; 1 live-action film. Program approx. 80 min.
Beware the one-eyed cyclops and the long-necked goblin hunting down samurai in Hatanosuke and the Haunted House and Taro's Monster Hunt. A drunk fish monger fights a giant octopus in Sanko and the Octopus: A Fight Over a Fortune. More animations are followed by the live action film Kid Commotion, directed by the great king of slapstick Torajiro Saito.

Our Baseball Match†* (1931)
9 min 32 sec, black & beige. By Yasuji Murata.
Sanko and the Octopus: A Fight Over a Fortune†* (1933)
15 min 49 sec. By Yasuji Murata.
Dekobo the Big Head's Road Trip (Year n/a)
1 min 8 sec. Creator unknown.
Danemon's Monster Hunt at Shojoji (1935)
8 min 43 sec. By Yoshi-taro Kataoka.
Hatanosuke and the Haunted House†* (Year n/a)
1 min 17 sec. Creator unknown.
Taro's Monster Hunt (1936)
5 min 12 sec. By Hiromasa Suzuki.
Live action comedy add-on!
Kid Commotion†* (1935), 34 min. Directed by Torajiro Saito.
The Fukudas have a mountain of debt, 6 children, with their seventh ready to burst into the world at any moment. When Mrs. Fukuda goes into labor, it is up to her frantic husband to raise enough money to hire a midwife—for this, he will do whatever it takes.

7 p.m. Friday, February 15
Part 3: Propaganda

Eleven animations; 1 live-action film. Program approx. 75 min.
"Japan Undefeated!" "Populate Japan!" "Run, Japan, Run!" From the 1930s through the '40s, these animations emphasized war propaganda, national policy and Japan's rigorous campaign to host the 1940 Olympics in films such as Animal Village in Trouble, Mabo's Big Race and Momotaro's adventure series. More animations are followed by the live-action propaganda film set in Manchuria (a part of China ruled by Japan from 1931-45), Mother of the Nation.

The National Anthem Kimigayo* (1931)
3 min 5 sec. By Noburo Ofuji.
Momotaro's Sky Adventure†* (1931)
10 min 27 sec. By Yasuji Murata.
Momotaro's Underwater Adventure* (1932)
1 min 49 sec. By Yasuji Murata.
Corporal Norakuro†* (1934)
10 min 34 sec. By Yasuji Murata.
2nd Lieutenant Norakuro Sunday Magic†* (Year n/a)
1 min 42 sec. Creator unknown.
Sankichi the Monkey: The Storm Troopers* (1934)
2 min 36 sec. By Mitsuyo Seo.
The Monkey Fleet* (1936)
1 min 8 sec. By Manzo Miyashi-ta.
Mabo's Big Race* (1936)
1 min 34 sec. Creator unknown.
Sankichi the Monkey: The Air Combat* (1942)
3 min 8 sec. By Yoshi-taro Kataoka.
Dankichi on a Tropical Island* (Year n/a)
1 min 8 sec. Creator unknown.
The Animal Village in Trouble (Year n/a)
8 min 41 sec. By Sanae Yamamoto.
Live-action propaganda add-on!
Mother of the Nation†* (1936)
21 min., silent w/ live narration. Directed by Shiro Nakagawa.
Respected school teacher Shimako and her husband are sent to Manchuria as guards to the railway. Discovering that anti-Japan guerillas plan to attack their train station, Shimako and several men are determined to fight back.

5 p.m. Saturday, February 16
Part 4: Music & Dance

Nine animations; 1 live-action film. Program approx. 115 min.
In The Black Cat vaudeville-esque characters sing to popular songs of the era, and in the comic period piece The Bear Dodger, characters of the Edo period sing a Western-style operetta. More animations are followed by the rare live-action musical Singing Lovebirds.

The Black Cat (1929)
2 min 55 sec. By Noburo Ofuji.
The Stolen Lump* (1929)
10 min 25 sec, black & beige. By Yasuji Murata.
Harvest Festival (1930)
2 min 28 sec. By Noburo Ofuji.
Taro Urashima* (1931)
1 min 10 sec. By Manzo Miyashi-ta.
The Unlucky Butterfly (1931)
8 min 28 sec. Creator unknown.
Home Alone Mice (1931)
1 min 8 sec. By Ikuo Oishi.
Spring Song (1931)
3 min 1 sec, black & pink. By Noburo Ofuji.
Belly Drum Dance at Shojoji (Year n/a)
1 min 11 sec. By Ikuo Oishi.
The Bear Dodger (1948)
929". By Noburo Ofuji.
Live-action musical add-on!
Singing Lovebirds* (1939)
69 min. Directed by Masahiro Makino.
In this very rare samurai musical, Oharu is in love with her poor neighbor Reizaburo from afar, but is instead bullied into marriage to an arrogant lord when her father is unable to pay his debts.

About Midori Sawato

Native to Tokyo, Midori Sawato graduated from the Department of Philosophy, Hosei University, and studied under the late Shunsui Matsuda (Japan's prominent benshi narration advocate, performing and extensively promoting the benshi tradition after the end of the silent film era). Debuting in 1973, Sawato has received numerous awards for her vast contributions toward promoting katsuben (live narration performance for silent films) as a modern form of entertainment both in Japan, and overseas. Her vast repertoire of over 500 silent films includes a wide variety of genres. She is the author of Katsudo Benshi: Sekai o Kakeru (Film Benshi Across the World).

Purchase tickets online at or call the Box Office at (212) 715-1258.

All film dialogue and narration is in Japanese with English subtitles. All films are 16mm or digital video in black & white, unless otherwise noted. Some scenes in these films may be of low image and sound quality due to the age of the prints. Programs are subject to change.

Dawn of Japanese Animation is made possible through the generous support of The Globus Family. Special thanks to Matsuda Film Production and Digital Meme for their assistance in selecting films and subtitling films in English.

For more information, visit

Media Profits: Cable Pulls Time Warner Results Higher

Time Warner Inc. had operating income of $2.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2007, up from $2.1 billion in the same period in 2006, the company reported today. Fourth quarter revenues rose to $12.6 billion from $12.3 billion.

For the year, the media conglomerate had operating income or $8.9 billion, up from $7.3 billion. Annual revenues rose to $46.5 billion from $43.7 billion.

Quarterly and annual gains were largely driven by the company's Cable division, along with significant contributions by its Film Entertainment and Networks segments. AOL continued to be a drag on performance.

Annual revenues at Film Entertainment, which includes Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema, rose 10% to $11.7 billion; operating income rose 8% to $845 million. The company credited the improved performance to the strong theatrical and DVD results from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 300, Hairspray and Rush Hour 3. Time Warner's film studios together captured 20.5% of the North American box office and 20.2% of home video sales.

In the fourth quarter, the theatrical release of I Am Legend helped lift revenues by 13% to $3.5 billion and operating income by 63% to $253 million.

Turner Broadcasting and HBO, which compose the conglomerate's Networks division, saw annual revenues rise 2% to $10.3 billion and operating income rise 11% to $3.0 billion. Subscription revenues at the segment rose but content and ad revenues fell. The cessation of operations at The WB Network contributed to the decline in ad sales, but benefited income through the absence of a one-time goodwill charge in 2006. In the fourth quarter revenues rose 1% to $2.7 billion but operating income fell 2% to $770 million.

Annual revenues at Time Warner Cable rose 36% to $16.0 billion, thanks in large part to the acquisition of cable systems from Adelphia late in 2006. Operating income rose 27% to $2.8 billion. Revenues in the fourth quarter rose 19% to $4.1 billion and operating income rose 26% to $795 million.

Annual revenues at AOL, meanwhile, fell 33% to $5.2 billion, but operating income rose 6% to $2.0 billion. The drop in revenue came from a 52% drop in subscription revenues, which was partially offset by an 18% increase in ad revenues. Income was up due to significant reductions in network and marketing costs. In the fourth quarter, revenues fell 32% and operating income fell 70%, due to the absence of a one-time gain in 2006.

The number of US access subscribers fell by 3.8 million at the end of 2006 to 9.3 million at the end of 2007.

Time Inc. had flat annual revenues of $5.0 billion and a 3% rise in operating income to $907 million. In the fourth quarter revenues and operating income each rose 1%, to $1.5 billion and $362 million, respectively.

Separately, Time Warner said it expects adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization to rise between 7% and 9% in 2008 from 2007's base of $12.9 billion.

Collideascope Team Details Smoke Technique

Ron Doucet and the Collideascope Animation team have provided us with a pair of excellent animation FX tutorials on the studio blog.

First is a step-by-step walk-through on how to build an “energy field cycle.” Not sure what that means? Here’s what it looks like in action (animation by Jake Macher):

More recently, Doucet posted an elaborate smoke tutorial, which covers a variety of different variations.[link]

Slamdance: Bush vs. Bin Laden and Blood Will Tell... and More

Mary Ann Skweres highlights some of the top of the crop of animated shorts from this year's Slamdance Film Festival.

Animation World Magazine

Kilmer In, Arnett Out Of Knight

A carmaker conflict has caused NBC to hire Val Kilmer to replace Will Arnett as the voice of K.I.T.T. on its Knight Rider TV movie/backdoor pilot, Variety reported.

Arnett (Arrested Development) had already completed his part for the film, which is slated to debut on NBC in less than two weeks. Producers Doug Liman, Dave Bartis and Dave Andron--along with the network and studio--were all fine with his performance, the trade paper reported.

The problem is, Arnett had a contractual conflict of interest. For the better part of a decade, Arnett has done voice-over work for General Motors as the voice of GMC Trucks. NBC's new K.I.T.T., however, is a Ford Mustang.

Ford isn't simply providing cars for Knight Rider: It's taking an active role in the marketing and branding of the telefilm. Ford's logo even appears all over NBC's on-air promos.

Not surprisingly, when GM found out about the Ford connection, it asked Arnett to pull out. Knight Rider airs as a two-hour movie on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Chimpunks cover artwork

DVDactive reveals the cover artwork for the standard DVD, the special edition DVD and the Blu-ray release of 20th Century Fox’s Alvin and the Chipmunks while also providing the technical specifications and a detailed list of bonus features for each individual release. All three versions of this recent rodent-feature will hit US stores on April 1st, 2008.

Disney TV Animation welcomes Eric Coleman on board

Animation Insider shares some insight regarding Disney TV Animation’s hiring of Eric Coleman, previously a series developer and producer for Nickelodeon for almost 15 years. Coleman comes aboard Want Disney Television Animation as the new Senior Vice President of Development. Coleman, who oversaw Nickelodeon-hits like Avatar: The Last Airbender, will be responsible in leading Disney’s animated television efforts into a new phase of expansion by spearheading development of short-form and long-form animated series for Disney Channel, Toon Disney and related Jetix programming platforms.

TV to DVD: Garfield and Friends, Drawn Together

TV Shows on DVD provides a full list of the mini-episodes featured on Garfield and Friends: A Cat and his Nerd. The best-of disc features 15 shorts that focuse on Garfield’s “pet human”, Jon. This compilation-DVD is scheduled for a May 13th release. The site also shares the cover artwork for Drawn Together - Season 3: uncensored, also scheduled for May 13th.

DVD Review: DC Boldly Enters New Frontier

The mostly friendly competition between DC Comics and Marvel Comics has yielded some great characters and books over the decades, and its now bringing us some fantastic animated movies. Marvel made a splash with Ultimate Avengers, the first in a series of PG-13 rated, direct-to-video features that has included Ultimate Avengers 2, The Invincible Iron Man and Doctor Strange. DC countered by launching DC Universe, it’s own line of DVD flicks for more mature audiences, with the successful Superman Doomsday. Now the company has raised the bar with Justice League: The New Frontier, a thoroughly entertaining movie making its way to retail on Feb. 26.

Based on the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, Justice League: The New Frontier tells the epic tale of the founding of the Justice League. DC legends Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter and The Flash band together to form the legendary team of costumed crusaders and combat a primordial monster that threatens to wipe humanity from the face of the Earth.

The movie is produced by Michael Goguen and Warner Bros. Animation legend Bruce Timm, the man behind Superman: Doomsday and such beloved superhero shows as Justice League and Batman: The Animated Series. Working form a screenplay by Stan Berkowitz, Warner animation vet David Bullock directed the film, which boasts a voice cast featuring David Boreanaz, Brooke Shields, Lucy Lawless, Neil Patrick Harris, Miguel Ferrer, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeremy Sisto and Kyle MacLachlan.

With that many talented people involved, it’s hard to go wrong, especially when you have such iconic figures to work with. But New Frontier isn’t just about Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. In fact, the big three step aside to let the second string enjoy the spotlight. We see the origins of Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, while The Flash gets a chance to do more than chase after jewel thieves. One scene involving the speed demon and a helicopter is particularly cool. Other DC denizens such as Green Arrow, The Atom and Aquaman also make appearances with the promise of bigger roles in subsequent installments.

The animation looks great and Berkowitz’s script cleverly weaves these various characters and their stories together without getting bogged down in exposition. A lot of good material is lost in condensing Cooke’s graphic novel to 75 minutes, but that can’t be helped. The pic is set in the 1950s and straddles the periods known as the Golden Age and the Silver Age of DC Comics. The story periodically draws on various social issues that plagued the period, issues we’re still dealing with half a century later. The words of John F. Kennedy and references to the civil rights movement and the bomb texture the tale, while violent action, sly humor and dinosaur attacks keep the proceedings moving at a brisk pace.

New Frontier is not a Saturday-morning cartoon. It’s as if Super Friends has grown up with those of us who watched these heroes battle the forces of evil as kids. These characters are more than lantern-jawed, one-dimensional do-gooders who swoop down to save the day with a wink and a smile. They’re complex individuals with powers tempered by insecurities. It’s also awesome to see Batman breaking bones in a cartoon.

Speaking of Batman kicking ass, the DVD features a sneak peek at the upcoming DC Universe release Batman: Gotham Knight, which just may turn out to be the coolest Batman movie ever made. Timm and his Warner Bros./DC collaborators teamed with revered Japanese anime directors to tell six interlocking stories with different art styles and interpretations of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. Warner Bros. took a similar approach with The Animatrix, a DVD feature that expanded on ideas from the Matrix trilogy. Judging by the footage shown in the preview, it will be a shame not to see Gotham Knight on the big screen.

Other bonus features on the two-disc special edition include some great documentaries. Super Heroes United!: The Complete Justice League History chronicles the forty-seven-year history of the Justice League from its inception in the comics to its various animated renditions. The story is told with a myriad of interviews with DC Comics president Paul Levitz, Justice League Unlimited writer Mike Friedrich, DC Comics scribe Denny O’Neil, Marvel Comics co-creator Stan Lee, famed comics writer Marv Wolfman, historians Michael Uslan and Mark Waid, among others. There’s also a featurette on the pathology of the super villain, feature commentary and three bonus episodes from the Justice League teleision series selected by Timm. The standard DVD edition will carry a suggested retail price of $19.98, and the two-disc special edition will list for $24.98. All bonus content will also be available on the HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions.

More Stripperella From Lee

Comic-book icon Stan Lee and his POW! Ent. have entered into an agreement with digital entertainment company uclick to bring all-new adventures of Stripperella to mobile phones. The installments will be available on uclick's GoComics mobile comic book reader at, and through all major carriers. The property started as Spike TV animated series, which starred Pamela Anderson as the voice of Erotica Jones, a motorcycle-riding exotic dancer who leads a dual life as a masked crime fighter.

“The now-legendary Stripperella has always been the most fabulous and fantastic of females," Lee remarks, “so imagine my excitement at having this great opportunity to team up with a truly hip outfit like uclick to bring comicdom's most sensational superheroine back to her millions of fans, more exciting and more exotic than ever before.”

The look and attitude of Stripperella are getting revamped for the mobile phone venture. POW! Ent. has updated the buxom character's design, but she’ll still have her trademark curves and naughty, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. For more information on this and other titles now available for mobile phones through GoComics, visit

Elastic Takes On Mama Mirabelle

Spanish brand management company Elastic Rights has been appointed to handle television, home video, merchandising and licensing rights for National Geographic Television International’s Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. The property made its broadcast debut last March on CBeebies in the U.K., and has been sold in more than 50 countries, airing in PBS Kids in the U.S., ABC and Playhouse Disney in Australia, and TV Nanny in Russia.

Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies is a co-production of National Geographic Kids Ent., BBC/CBeebies and King Rollo Films. This preschool introduces children to the animal kingdom’s youngest members through a combination of animation and live-action clips culled from an archive of thousands of hours of National Geographic and the BBC wildlife footage. The series currently consists of 52 11-minute episodes or 26 24-minute installments. There is also a series of eight two-and-a-quarter-minute interactive puzzle games called Monkey Minutes, and eight three-and-a-half-minute music and videos.

Elastic Rights is a marketing and commercial platform specialized in the integrated management of multimedia brands and animated and live-action content for children, teens and families in Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. Other properties handled by Elastic include Cookie Jar Ent.’s Caillou, Taffy Ent.’s ToddWorld, Alliance Atlantis’ Lunar Jim, Enoki’s Flash Kicker, Toei Animation’s Zatchbell! and Pretty Cure and Televisa’s Patito Feo.

Nick, 2K Bring Diego to the Wii

Nickelodeon has joined forces with 2K Play, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., to release Go, Diego, Go!: Safari Rescue for Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PlayStation2. 2K Play's first Wii game engineered specifically for preschoolers, the title will be available at retailers in North America on Feb. 12. To celebrate the launch, 2K Play, Nickelodeon and Nintendo World will host a special sneak preview for families on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Nintendo World Store in New York City's Rockefeller Center from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

For Go, Diego, Go!: Safari Rescue, we've created an entirely new interactive experience for preschoolers that is only possible on the Wii,” says Steve Lux, VP of business development for 2K Play. “Nickelodeon's intensive study of how two- through six-year-olds experience the new technologies offered by the Wii helped us create an all-new play pattern that extends beyond current games. Physical activity is an integral part of the fun and the new title is perfectly suited for the younger gamer.”

Nickelodeon conducted research with preschoolers and their families to determine how the Wii’s motion-play capabilities are absorbed by younger children and designed the game with 13 intuitive motions that make the most of the engineering of the Wii Remote. Taking on the role of Diego in a race across Africa, young gamers stomp to scare away lions, jump with Baby Jaguar, paint stripes on zebras, climb up ladders and swim across the jungle river by mimicking those actions with the remote.

Also available on Feb. 12 is 2K Play's Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Mermaids for PlayStation 2. In the game, Dora and Boots need help bringing a Magic Crown to Marianna the Mermaid. By swinging, sliding and bouncing through the game, players travel over tropical land and sea to save Mermaid Kingdom. Along the way, Dora magically becomes a mermaid herself.

Both games feature the same voice actors as the popular Nick Jr. animated TV shows. Go, Diego, Go!: Safari Rescue was developed by High Voltage and will be available for a suggested retail price of $39.99 for Wii and $29.99 for PlayStation 2. Dora the Explorer: Dora Saves the Mermaids was developed by TotallyGames and will be available for $29.99 on PlayStation 2. For more information on these and other 2K Play games, go to

Newsarama and Comics2Film on "Turok" and Gold Key Sequels

Two separate interviews about the Turok Son of Stone direct-to-video movie have been published, touching on potential follow-ups . Writer/producer Evan Baily, screenwriter Tony Bedard, and supervising director Tad Stones spoke to Comics2Film in a four-part interview (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4); in the fourth part, Bedard expresses his hopes for a Turok sequel and Baily notes his affection for M.A.R.S. Patrol: Total War, another Gold Key/Dell comic book property.

Meanwhile, Newsarama's Animated Shorts has interviewed Tad Stones separately, who discusses the incredibly short production schedule of Turok, how he worked with the movie's three directors, the casting of actors for the movie, and his responsibility/apology for creating the animated direct-to-DVD market with Disney's Aladdin: The Return of Jafar. At the end of the interview, he confirms that there are currently no plans for another Hellboy Animated movie, and also states that he's about to pitch an action-adventure property to several different networks.

Comedy Central Announces Return of "South Park," "Lil' Bush," & Futurama DTV Premiere

Comedy Central has announced the return dates for several of their series and premiere dates for new series and movies:

- The next season of South Park will return on Wednesday, March 12, 2008 at 10:00/9:00 Central
- The second season of Lil' Bush returns on Thursday, March 13, 2008, at 10:30/9:30 Central
- The broadcast premiere of the Futurama: Bender's Big Score direct-to-video movie on Sunday, March 23, 2008 at 8:00/7:00 Central

Artist John Alvin Passes Away  

John Alvin, passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday, February 6th. He was 59. Considered the pre-eminent movie campaign artist of the past 35 years, Alvin’s career began in 1974 with his creation of the iconic movie poster for Mel Brook’s “Blazing Saddles”. He most recently contributed design ideas for the campaign for Disney Studio’s “Enchanted.” In a career that encompassed multiple projects for such directors as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Blake Edwards, Mel Brooks and Ridley Scott, Alvin was considered by many studios as the go-to artist for movie poster and campaign art. John Alvin said that his work “created the promise of a great experience” and in that he never failed.

Alvin and his wife, Andrea, had recently relocated to New York's Hudson Valley from Los Angeles in order to be closer to their daughter and only child, Farah, a Broadway actress. John Alvin said that as a child he eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Sunday paper so that he could peruse the ads for the new movies playing at the local theaters. He was enamored with the magic of film at an early age and would create art inspired largely by his love of film. That passion led him to the Art Center College of Design where he met his wife, Andrea (also a student at Art Center) from which he graduated in the early 1970s.

His big break came with the job to create the movie poster for Mel Brook’s “Blazing Saddles” in 1974. This campaign led to Alvin creating the images for numerous other Brook's films including "Young Frankenstein". His prominence in this medium was soon after established with his creation of the movie posters for Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner,” Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.-The Extra-Terrestrial” and Blake Edward’s “Victor/Victoria.” Animated films for which he created posters included "The Lion King", "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin". His work on "E.T." won him the Saturn Award for Best Poster Art from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films. Not only did Alvin create the movie posters for those particular films, but he also created many subsequent iconic film posters. In all, Alvin created the posters for over 135 movies in a 35 year career. He is considered to be an innovator in this genre.

Alvin's work is currently represented in several art galleries nationwide where his original paintings, drawings and limited edition fine art reproductions are displayed. In his recent work, he continued to create iconic images for contemporary films like the Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean series. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Food Bank Association of New York State, 235 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210 or to your local Food Bank Association.

Assistant sound editor Maggie Ostroff dead at 73  

Maggie Ostroff, an assistant sound editor whose films included the 1988 Disney feature Oliver & Company, died peacefully Monday after what family members called "a long, well-fought illness." She was 73.

Born Margaret Beck on January 17, 1935, Ostroff represented assistant editors on the board of directors of The Motion Picture Editors Guild (IATSE Local 700).

As an assistant sound editor and assistant editor, she worked on films starring Paul Walker (2 Fast 2 Furious, 2003), Sylvester Stallone (Driven, 2001), Michael Douglas (One Night At Mccool's, 2001), Meg Ryan (Proof of Life, 2000) and Will Smith (Enemy of the State, 1998).

Other films as an assistant sound or dialogue editor included The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (both 1991), Patriot Games (1992), Swing Kids (1993), Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994), The Rock (1996), Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) and Armageddon (1998).

Assistant editor in the 1985 romantic comedy Cavegirl, she had a rare acting part in the film as the mother of leading man Rex (played by Daniel Roebuck).

Four animated films nominated for Quebec's Jutras  

Already nominated for an Academy Award, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski's "Madame Tutli-Putli" is one of four nominees for the annual Jutra Awards in the category of best animated film.

Released by the National Film Board of Canada, Madame Tutli-Putli is the debut film of the two directors. Jutra nominations were announced Wednesday.

Also known as Les Prix Jutra, the Jutra Awards celebrate the best of Quebec film. Organizers will present awards in 18 categories at the March 9 gala in Montreal. The show will be broadcast live by Radio-Canada.

Vying with Madame Tutli-Putli are Claude Cloutier's Isabelle au bois dormant and Patrick Bouchard's Révérence -- also National Film Board of Canada releases -- as well as The Tourists, an independent effort by Malcom Sutherland.

Leading the nominations for the Jutra Awards are Les 3 p'tits cochons, a "dramady" directed by popular Quebec actor-comic Patrick Huard. His debut as a director, it picked up 13 nods -- but not one for best director.

It was nominated for best film and best screenplay, and received four nods for its lead and supporting actors. With ticket sales of about $4.5 million, the film will receive the Billet d'or, the prize given to the film with the year's highest box-office take in Quebec.

Other nominees for best film are Continental, un films san fusil, L'Âge des ténèbres and La Brunante.

Director's Cut of Robert Zemeckis' "Beowulf" Hits DVD and HD DVD on Feb 26, 2008

Paramount Home Entertainment has announced the imminent arrival of Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf on DVD and HD DVD on February 26, 2008. The movie used a motion-capture system to animate the epic Old English poem with stars like Ray Winstone, Angelina Jolie, Anthony Hopkins, and Robin Wright Penn. The movie will be available in three separate versions:

- The theatrical cut standard DVD release, which will only contain a "making of" special feature.
- The unrated director's cut standard DVD release, which will contain extra footage in the movie and several more special features, including the "making of" featurette from the theatrical cut, several more featurettes on the creatures and technology behind the movie, and deleted scenes.
- The 2-disc HD DVD release, which will the director's cut of the movie, and even more special features over and above those on the director's cut standard DVD releases.

"The Batman" Hawkman Images Appear Online

TV Guide has posted two online images of Hawkman as he appears in The Batman. The character will appear on the upcoming episode "What Goes Up... " on Saturday, February 16.

Stan Lee Talks Iron Man and Hulk Cameos

Forbes talked to Stan Lee, who says he will be filming another cameo soon:

I've already done my Iron Man cameo. I think you'll get a big kick out of it when you see it. They shot The Hulk I think in Toronto and other places and I wasn't able to fly there. But they said by the end of this month or the beginning of next month, they'll try to shoot a scene or so in Los Angeles so I can do a cameo, so I'm waiting expectantly.

I was the mailman in Fantastic Four. In the first Hulk I was walking out of a building with Lou Ferrigno. We were two security guards. In the new Hulk I hope I'll do one if they shoot a couple scenes in L.A.

Iron Man hits theaters on May 2, and The Incredible Hulk on June 13.

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