Monday, February 11, 2008

News - 02/11/08...

In Strike News: WGA Posts Tentative Agreement with AMPTP

February 9, 2008: The WGA has finally confirmed weeks of rumors by posting a PDF summary of the tentative agreement that they have reached with the AMPTP, in advance of a meeting with the membership scheduled for tonight at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The major chunk of the agreement will make the WGA "the exclusive bargaining representative for writing for new media (such as Internet or cellular technology)," and the agreement will be in place until May 1, 2011. The agreement is still subject to a final contract and approval by the WGA membership.

UPDATE: Writers Guild of America members gave a resounding thumbs-up to the guild’s new contract agreement at membership meetings held Saturday in Gotham and L.A., clearing the path for the three-month-old writers strike to end by midweek.

At the L.A. meeting at the Shrine Auditorium, WGA West leaders told the crowd of more than 3,500 members that the WGA West board and WGA East council would meet Sunday morning to formally recommend the deal for ratification, and to approve a special 48-hour vote among members about whether to end the strike. The boards are also expected to begin the process of holding a 10-day ratification vote for members to formally seal the new three-year contract with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Word of the 48-hour vote on ending the strike caught many by surprise on Saturday night, given the expectation that the WGA’s governing bodies would vote on a back-to-work order that could take effect on Monday. The guild’s Saturday meetings were closed to the press, and guild leaders would not comment on the specifics of the 48-hour voting process. Many members who attended the L.A. meeting said that the back-to-work order was pro forma and that they would resume work immediately on TV shows and film projects left in limbo when the WGA strike began on Nov. 5.

Attendees on both coasts praised the guild leaders for maintaining solidarity among the membership during the extreme hardship of the strike, and for achieving major financial gains in the new deal – including compensation for new media reuse of TV shows and movies and in securing WGA jurisdiction for writing done for the Internet, within predetermined budget levels.

“I’ve never been more proud to be a member of this guild. I’ve never felt more like I was a member of a real union,” said TV vet Mike Scully after the L.A. meeting. “Anyone who would say ‘Well, we didn’t get everything we asked for’ doesn’t know what a labor negotiation. This is a very good deal for us.”

The article goes ON and ON talking with alot of the industry's leaders so click here to check out the rest of Variety's coverage.

Ratatouille sweeps Annies

Variety reports that Pixar’s Ratatouille was the big winner at 35th Annie Awards, held on February 8, 2008, where it won 9 trophies, including best animated feature. Ratatouille also won writing and directing for Brad Bird, best voice acting for Ian Holm, best character animation, music, storyboarding, and production design.

Other winners include Sony Pictures Animation’s
Surf’s Up which won for animated effects and animated production artist. Full list of the winners and nominees can be seen here with some photo coverage here.

Speed Racer Animated Film Debuting May 6

According to Video Business, Lionsgate on May 6 will release Speed Racer The Next Generation: The Beginning, a 66-minute animated feature that sets up the new NickToons series of the same name.

The title will be broadcast on NickToons May 2, just prior to the DVD release. It also will benefit from awareness around the May 9 theatrical release of Warner Bros.' live-action
Speed Racer feature from the Wachowski brothers ("The Matrix" trilogy).

Toy Pic Reveals Hulk's Abomination!

A photo of toys for Universal Pictures'
The Incredible Hulk gives you a first look at The Abomination in director Louis Leterrier's action-thriller, opening in theaters on June 13. The Abomination, played by Tim Roth, has destructive strength that exceeds even The Hulk's own. Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt and Tim Blake Nelson co-star.

Interactive Academy Hears Call of Duty

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from Activision and developer Infinity Ward was named Overall Game of the Year at the 11 Annual Interactive Achievement Awards, a presentation of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. Recognizing excellence in video games released in 2007, the ceremony was held at the Red Rock Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In addition to taking home the top award,
Call of Duty 4 took Console Game of the Year, Action Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay. The honors cap a successful year that saw the game sell more copies than any other title during the holiday season.

Among the other top winners are
World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade from Vivendi Games and Blizzard Ent, which was recognized as Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year, and Electornic Arts/Valve Software’s The Orange Box, which took Computer Game of the Year. Handheld Game of the Year went to Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: The Phantom Hourglass, while Rock Band from MTV Games and developer Harmonix was named Family Game of the Year.

In the artistic categories, winners include Ubisoft’s
Assassin’s Creed for Outstanding Achievement in Animation, 2K games’ BioShock for Art Direction, Electronic Arts/Crytek’s Crysis for Visual Engineering and The Orange Box for Character Performance and Game Design. For a complete list of winners, go to

UPDATE: 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 Brooks'
“Blazing Saddles” in 1974. This campaign led to Alvin creating the images for numerous other Brooks' films including "Young Frankenstein", "History of the World, Part 1" and "Spaceballs". 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.

UPDATE: At Aint It Cool News, Quint writes a wonderful tribute to Alvin, showing much of his poster art, including many not included here. Check it out.

"Shrek" Leads Toon Nominees at Kids Choice Awards

Ratatouille, Bee Movie, Shrek the Third, and The Simpsons Movie will battle it out for Favorite Animated Movie at Nickelodeon's 21st Annual Kids' Choice Awards, the network announced on Thursday.

Alvin and the Chipmunks and Transformers are competing with each other and with Are We Done Yet? and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End in the Favorite Movie category.

Favorite Cartoon nominees are
Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ed, Edd and Eddy, The Simpsons, and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Cameron Diaz, Mike Myers, and Eddie Murphy, all from
Shrek the Third, were nominated in the Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie category, along with Jerry Seinfeld (Bee Movie) and Kirsten Dunst Spider-Man 3).

BAFTA The Future…

The British Academy of Film and Television Awards were announced this Sunday evening in London’s West End. In the face of the almost concluded WGA strike, the ceremony proved to draw the glittering celebrities who might not have otherwise gotten a chance at walking down a red carpet had the Oscars not gone ahead later this month. In certain categories, the BAFTAS are a fair indication of which way the wind may blow at the upcoming Academy Awards, and this year was kind to La Vie En Rose (four wins, for Actress Marion Cotillard, Christopher Gunning’s Music, Marit Allen’s Costuming and Jan Archibald/Didier Lavergne’s Make-Up) and No Country For Old Men, which picked up nods for Joel and Ethan Coen’s Direction, Supporting Actor Javier Bardem and Roger Deakins’ Cinematography.

In the animation and related gongs, Brad Bird’s Ratatouille was perhaps unsurprisingly found to be the Animated Film winner, with Jo Allen/Luis Cook’s The Pearce Sisters picking up for Short Animation, and The Golden Compass receiving the kudos for Best Visual Effects. The Bourne Ultimatum won in the technical categories of Editing and Sound. Other awards handed out included Best Film (Atonement), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood), Screenplay (Diablo Cody, Juno) and the Rising Star award, as voted by the public, to Shia LeBeouf (most prominently this year for his role in Transformers and vocal performance in Surf’s Up). A full rundown of all winners and nominations can be found at the official BAFTA website.

Coming this week to DVD:


Now this is definitely the most fun item on the menu this week! I just wish this was in Hi-Def. As a fan of animation – it’s utterly bizarre to see MGM and Warner Brothers and Paramount/Fleischer Academy Award nominees all gathered together! So weird. Here’s what is on the discs:

Disc 1:

Academy Award® winning shorts featured on the DVDs:

The Milky Way (MGM),
Yankee Doodle Mouse (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
Mouse Trouble (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
4) Quiet Please (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
The Cat Concerto (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
Tweetie Pie (WB),
The Little Orphan (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
For Scent-Imental Reasons (WB, Pepe Le Pew),
So Much for so Little (a special educational Warner Brothers short),
Two Mouseketeers (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
Johann Mouse (MGM, Tom & Jerry),
Speedy Gonzales (WB),
Birds Anonymous (WB, Tweety & Sylvester),
Knighty-Knight Bugs (WB, Bugs Bunny)
The Dot and the Line (Chuck Jones classic MGM cartoon).

Discs 2 & 3:

Academy Award® nominated shorts featured on the DVDs include

1) Popeye The Sailor Meets Sinbad The Sailor (Paramount/Fleischer)
Superman (Paramount/Fleischer)
Walky Talky Hawky (WB, Foghorn Leghorn)
One Droopy Knight (MGM, Droopy)
plus 12 more un-announced titles.

Those close to the production of this DVD say we can expect these cartoons to be included on the Nominees discs, but they have not yet been officially announced:

5) A Wild Hare (WB, Bugs Bunny)
Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt (WB, Bugs Bunny) new to DVD.
Rhapsody In Rivits (WB) new to DVD.
Greetings Bait (WB) new to DVD.
Swooner Crooner (WB, Porky Pig) new to DVD.
Life With Feathers (WB, Sylvester) new to DVD.
Mouse Wreckers (WB, Hubie & Bertie)
From A to Z-Z-Z-Z (WB, Ralph Philips) new to DVD.
Sandy Claws (WB, Tweety & Sylvester) new to DVD.
Tobasco Road (WB, Speedy Gonzalas)
Mexicali Schmoes (WB, Speedy Gonzalas)
16) Mouse And Garden (WB, The Honeymousers)
The High Note (WB Chuck Jones classic) new to DVD.
Pied Piper Of Guadalupe (WB, Speedy Gonzalas)
Beep Prepared (WB, Road Runner) new to DVD.
Nelly's Folly (WB) new to DVD.
Now Hear This (WB, Chuck Jones classic) new to DVD.
Peace On Earth (MGM, Harmon-Ising classic) new to DVD.
Night Before Christmas, The (MGM, Tom & Jerry)
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Mouse (MGM, Tom & Jerry)
Hatch Up Your Troubles (MGM, Tom & Jerry)
Good Will To Men (MGM, Hanna Barbera Cinemascope remake of the classic Peace On Earth) new to DVD.

BONUSES will include a red carpet-worthy special feature entitled "Drawn for Glory: Animation's Triumph At The Oscars®" which focuses on the history of the Academy Awards® animation short subject category.

Then watch Bugs Bunny try to promote his film
Hiawatha's Rabbit Hunt to the Acadamy for an award.

Oooops: Cartoon Network airs porn in Tennessee

For at least an hour early Thursday, Cartoon Network in central Tennessee aired programming that was even more graphic than usual.

Viewers saw pornography via the network's cable provider, Comcast. Wallace Loveless of Antioch, Tennessee said that his wife saw it between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Thursday. Both are concerned that kids may view adult programming.

"We have a five-year-old grandson and his favorite channel is the Cartoon Network," Loveless told Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF. "What if Christopher had of seen that?"

He and his wife plan to file a complaint. They're also ready to monitor Cartoon Network programming when children are in front of the tube.

In a statement Thursday, Comcast area vice-president John Gauder apologized for airing the apparent porn.

"We apologize for any inconvenience some of our Comcast cable TV customers in Middle Tennessee experienced Thursday as a result of some highly unusual issues," the statement said.

"It appears that a subscription movie channel was inadvertently shown on other channels which normally carry news, sports, children's and other entertainment programming… We are taking the appropriate steps to ensure that this highly unusual incident does not happen again."

In fact, such a "highly unusual incident" happened one morning last May, when Comcast in some sections of New Jersey aired a porno video by mistake in place of Playhouse Disney's broadcast of Nelvana's computer-animated
Handy Manny cartoon. At that time, Comcast spokesman Fred DeAndrea described the error as "an isolated issue."

Following Thursday's fluff, Comcast said that it is investigating the matter. "We sincerely regret and apologize to our customers for the service interruption and any inconvenience this has caused," the cable provider said.

Comcast said that engineers thought they had fixed the glitch at 12 midnight, but it reappeared at about 4 a.m., when the cable company decided to remove the channels from the lineup.

The problem has been corrected and full service restored, officials added.

Wallace Loveless... wife saw wrong kind of love on TV.

New Kung Fu Panda images

A handful of new screen captures from the upcoming Kung Fu Panda have appeared on FilmWeb’s site. To view the images, click the link on that reads “zobacz całą galerię” or any of the four images that appear on the page.

NOGGIN Pens Peppa Pig

Nickelodeon preschool network NOGGIN has acquired U.S. broadcast rights to the first season of the U.K. animated series Peppa Pig. Produced by Astley Baker Davies Ltd. and handled by global rights owner Entertainment One (E1), the show is seen in more than 160 territories, but has yet to debut in the states. NOGGIN has initially committed to 52 episodes, with an option on all future seasons and one-off specials.

Peppa Pig follows the everyday adventures of a mischievous pig and her family. The 2D show has picked up a number of awards since it 2004 debut at market. In 2005, the series picked up the BAFTA for Preschool Animation, was named Best TV Production at Annecy and took both Best Preschool Series and Best European Program of the Year at Cartoons on the Bay.

The show was first broadcast in the U.K. on Channel 5, where it consistently ranks among the top-rated shows on the Milkshake preschool block. Nick Jr. U.K. picked it a month later, contributing to annual retail revenues of more than $25 million from various licenses. There have been more than 100 episodes produced over the course of two seasons, and a third slate of installments is scheduled to go into production this year. The property’s first Christmas special aired in 2007, shortly after it debuted on DVD in the U.S.

TELETOON, Hit Flock to Aardman’s Shaun

Aardman Animations’ hit children’s series
Shaun the Sheep has been picked up for broadcast by TELETOON in Canada, while Hit Ent. nabbed U.S. and Canada home video and licensing rights to the award-winning show. Since its launch at MIPCOM 2006, Shaun has inked television sales and licensing deals in more than 150 territories.

Commissioned by CBBC in the U.K.,
Shaun is a stop-motion children’s show that consists of 40 seven-minute episodes. The show is directed by Richard Goleszowski and centers on a young lamb introduced in Nick Park’s Oscar-winning Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave. Last year, the series received such prestigious accolades as the Cristal Award for Best TV Production at the Annecy Animated Film Festival, the Audience Choice Award at the World Comedy Film Festival and the Age 5-10 Audience and Parent’s Choice Award at the New York International Film Festival.

TV rights for
Shaun have been secured by RAI in Italy, RTE in Eire, RUV in Iceland, RTV in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fox TV in Serbia, Slovak TV in Slovakia, LRT in Lithuania, TV3 in Latvia, RTV in Slovenia, MBC 3 and Emirates Cable TV in the Middle East, RTP2 in Portugal and EBS Korea. Home video rights have been picked up in Korea by KBS Media, in Poland by Media Way and in Portugal by LNK. Elsewhere, video rights deals have been signed with Concorde in Germany, CNR/Tabtoo in the Netherlands and Grand Ent. in Croatia. In addition, merchandise and promotional rights have secured by Biplano Licensing for Spain and Portugal.

Top 100 3D Movies

CGSociety and 3D World present a rundown of the Top 100 3D Movies as selected by the CG community

What marks out a truly great 3D movie? The knowledge that it pioneered techniques that became standards within the industry, as Flight of the Navigator did with reflection mapping?

Or that it raised the bar on the volume of effects work possible in a movie, as with
Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace? Or simply that it told a memorable story? That was the question we posed in our recent poll to determine the most influential 3D movies of all time, organised in conjunction with 3D World magazine, the industry's leading community portal.

To qualify for inclusion on our shortlist, a movie needed to meet three criteria: to have a running time of 60 minutes or longer; to have received a full cinematic release; and to include a significant element of 3D animation or VFX work, as opposed to matte painting or compositing.

Films like
Blade Runner - although undoubtedly influential - were excluded on the grounds that they featured only traditional effects.

Movies that received an Academy Award nomination were automatically included, as did those whose technology reels were screened in the Electronic Theater at SIGGRAPH.

The remainder were chosen from standard reference books such as Isaac Kerlow's
The Art of 3D Computer Animation and Effects, and according to feedback from our own contacts in the industry. Visitors to CGSociety were then asked to pick the 10 films on the shortlist that they most admired technically; that had the greatest impact on their working lives; or that most made them want to work in 3D in the first place.

During the three weeks it remained online, 5,874 people filled out the poll, casting well over 50,000 individual votes. To the best of our knowledge, this makes it the largest survey of its type ever conducted - and the definitive guide to the films that shaped an industry.

You can find a rundown of the 150 films in the shortlist on a special 3D World website
here or the long version here.

"Chuggington" Gets Broadcast, Licensing Deals

Networks in the UK, Germany, France, and Australia have picked up the 3D animated series
Chuggington for broadcast, World Screen reports.

HBO Animating "Tim" for Summer Run

HBO has ordered ten episodes of
The Life and Times of Tim, a new animated comedy series about an offbeat guy who is constantly misled by his instincts, Variety reports.

The series, from Media Rights Capital, is being produced by Steve Dilderian. It will air this summer on the pay network.

Naked Chef Producing Preschooler Cookery Show

TV chef Jamie Oliver will produce a live-action/CGI show about cooking for the UK's Nick Jr., the
Telegraph reports.

The show,
Made with Magic, will be produced by Oliver's Fresh One Productions and designed for preschoolers. Oliver, a.k.a. "The Naked Chef", will executive produce; he is not expected to appear in the show.

The Simpsons' "Kill Gil" wins Writers Guild award

"Kill Gil Volumes 1&2," an episode of The Simpsons penned by Jeff Westbrook, is the winner of this year's Writers Guild of America Award for animation.

The announcement came Saturday in a WGA news release. Due to the guild's ongoing strike against TV and film production companies, a formal ceremony for the 60th WGA Awards was not held.

The Simpsons had received four of the six WGA nominations for animated episodes, with another Fox series, King of the Hill, picking up the other two.

In major awards for live-action films, Joel and Ethan Coen's adaptation of novelist Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men was named best adapted screenplay and Diablo Cody's Juno won for best original screenplay. Both screenplays are nominated for Academy Awards.

For best documentary, Alex Gibney won the WGA Award for Taxi to the Dark Side, an exploration of the use of torture in the war on terror.

In television, Comedy Central's live-action The Colbert Report won for best comedy/variety series. Other awards in TV categories went to The Wire, 30 Rock, Mad Men and The Office, as well as the Hallmark Channel's Pandemic and TNT's The Company.

The Young & The Restless was named best daytime serial.

Battlestar Back With A Bang

SCI FI Channel's Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original series Battlestar Galactica kicks off its fourth and final season on March 28 at 10 p.m. ET/PT with two back-to-back half-hour specials, with the first new episode premiering the following week, April 4, 10 p.m.

Beginning at 10 on March 28, Battlestar Galactica: Revisited will serve up the essential information on the series' past three seasons, providing the uninitiated with an introduction to the characters, relationships and backstory. Executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick serve as guides and hosts. 

Battlestar Galactica: The Phenomenon follows at 10:30 and is a celebrity-studded celebration of the show's effect on pop culture. Interviewees include Seth Green, country music star Brad Paisley and Talk Soup's Joel McHale talking about why Battlestar Galactica is one of the best shows on television.

In the season-four premiere, the last remnants of humanity continue their search for a new home as the thin line that separates them from the rapidly evolving Cylons is redrawn.

Galactica's crew is rocked by Starbuck's (Katee Sackhoff) sudden and mysterious return from the dead, bringing claims that she has been to Earth and can lead them there. Meanwhile, four members of the fleet are still reeling from the revelation that they are Cylons.

Battlestar Galactica will air Fridays at 10 p.m.

Lionsgate Loves Frank Miller's Spirit

Superhero Hype! has learned that Lionsgate is really digging what writer/director Frank Miller is doing with Will Eisner's The Spirit. They've already signed him for two sequels to the graphic novel adaptation and from what the studio has seen, are expecting it to be a blockbuster when the action-adventure opens on January 16, 2009.

"The Spirit" tells the visceral, action-packed story of a man (Gabriel Macht) who fakes his own death and fights crime from the shadows of Central City. The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson) -- who kills anyone unfortunate enough to see his face -- has a different mission: he's going to wipe out the entire city. The Spirit tracks this cold-hearted killer from Central City's rundown warehouses, to the damp catacombs, to the windswept waterfront... all the while facing a bevy of beautiful women who either want to seduce, love or kill our masked crusader.

Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Paz Vega, Jamie King, Dan Lauria, Stana Katic, Johnny Simmons and Louis Lombardi co-star.

Transformers Tops VES Awards!

The Hollywood Reporter says that Transformers on Sunday won four Visual Effects Society Awards, including the top prize for outstanding visual effects in a visual effects-driven film:

It was a big night for Industrial Light + Magic, which was the lead visual effects house on "Transformers" as well as "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End," which collected two trophies. Meanwhile, Pixar Animation Studios' animated feature "Ratatouille" continued to earn accolades with three VES wins.

In addition to the top award, "Transformers" won trophies for single visual effect of the year, for its desert highway sequence; models and miniatures; and compositing. Collecting the top prize were Scott Farrar, Shari Hanson, Russell Earl and Scott Benza.

You can view the complete list of winners here!

New Iron Man and Hulk Footage Shown in Germany!

Ain't It Cool News reports that new footage from Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk was revealed at the Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany (Spoilers ahead!):

For IRON MAN we saw the scene in which Tony Stark tests his Iron Man suit for the first time (in his garage). Of course this almost goes wrong. He speeds into a tunnel, gets out in the open and flies past a Ferris wheel. A malfunction in his suit makes him go higher and higher, almost leaving the stratosphere and running out of air. Then the suit goes completely dead and Stark falls to the earth. Just in time he manages to get his suit working again, making a mess of the traffic in the streets...

It was great to see the first footage of the INCREDIBLE HULK... What we saw looked like the first official trailer. The scene opens with Edward Norton meditating. We see images of a lab, experiments, Banner escaping from the (Russian?) military (led by William Hurt and Tim Roth), running in the streets, kissing Liv Tyler, guns, shooting, more running… The 'trailer' ends with Abomination walking towards Hulk. Remember the end of Rocky III? Apollo Creed wants to hit Rocky in their friendly duel? That's exactly the way the trailer ends. Abomination wants to hit Hulk. Hulk wants to hit Abomination, but before it actually happens the trailer is over. Abomination looks like a Hulk with the Voldemort face from the first Harry Potter movie. A really mean motha. He sure is a great opponent.

The full report is available here!

'Peanuts' Easter Holiday Animation Coming Soon

According to, available soon as a re-mastered special edition is 'It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown,' which finds the 'Peanuts' gang decorating eggs (or at least trying to), rigging easter egg hunts and much more. The Emmy Nominated special is the latest re-release from Warner Home Video. Listed as bonus features are a featurette on Schulz's use of faith in 'Peanuts' and 'It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown' (1976)

FUNimation Eying Geneon

FUNimation has again indicated that they are looking into distributing the titles previously carried by Geneon USA, before that company ceased its distribution and marketing efforts.
Anime on DVD points out an ICV2 article stating "Navarre Corporation CEO Cary Deacon declared that the Navarre (through its wholly owned subsidiary, the anime market share leader FUNimation) was "in very early stages of negotiations to acquire some of the Geneon library of titles." Deacon noted that Geneon had about 10% of the anime market and controlled some attractive titles. Deacon expressed his optimism about the current market conditions, which he thinks will provide lots of opportunities for FUNimation, whose prospects for acquisition of new product "remain very strong.""

Speaking of FUNimation, financials, a
CNN article on Navarre's Q3 results stated "FUNimation's sales and profitability benefited from the resolution of a dispute with Atari, a licensee of interactive video game rights to the Dragonball Z franchise, which resulted in the realization of previously unpaid royalties. FUNimation anticipates that its licenses to Atari will provide an additional revenue stream going forward as a $10 million prepaid royalty advance that was received by FUNimation in 2004 has now been earned out."

Gainax News

Anime News Network

Evangelion: 1.0 You Are [Not] Alone, the first of four movie remakes of the Neon Genesis Evangelion ran a preview showings in 10 South Korean theaters during the January 18-20 weekend and ranked at 15th place. It then expanded to 31 theaters in its official opening weekend of January 25-27, and rose to 11th place.

Evangelion's production studio Gainax placed a
recruitment ad seeking out animation runners and animators for a new project refereed to as "Gonyogonyo (Mada Himitsu)" ["Mumble-mumble (It's still secret)"]. The listings also mention Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, but do not necessarily indicate that a Gurren Lagann follow-up series is in the works.

Worth Checking Out

Same Hat! Same Hat! looks at Vice's Shintaro Kago

Some beuatiful images of Ghibli's Iblard Jikan from
Inoue Naohisa

Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei meets
Final Fantasy VII and dancing Danbot

A preview for
Tsubasa: Tokyo Revelations OVA 3

Old favorites back for
Street Fighter IV

Character shots for the
Fist of the North Star MMO

Publishers Weekly talks to
Amy Reeder Hadley talks to Faust's
Katsushi Ota

Production I.G posted a Q&A with with
Takayuki Hamana

Ghibli World, an English version of Yomiuri Shimbun interview with Gake no ue no Ponyo theme song singer Fujioka Fujimaki here and has an image of previously unseen artwork from the movie here

Pokemon producer's Masakazu Kubo
broad recommendation concerning fansubs

The "season finale" of Bang Zoom! Entertainment's
AnimeTV features an interview with the voice actresses of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Comics Worth Reading recommends
Happy Mania (a personal favorite here)

The Comics Should Be Good Blog looks at
a month in 2001 where DC's super hero comics integrated the title's logo into the coverage. Of note, the piece brings back one of the Kia Asamiya covers that the mange creator illustrated for American super-heros.

Via Alt Japan
Ultramen's Wearhouse and French comic-book colorist Walter's Mecha work
You can still get
Super #1 Robot: Japanese Robot Toys, 1972-1982 on Amazon for $7

comics212 at the
Nakano Broadway Mall
Also Bryan Lee O’Malley’s (Scott Pilgram)
Shojo Beat Cover

on ComiPress,
From Kajiwara Ikki Part 1: The Dangerous Charm of a Dark World

Random photo from

Twitch has an English Trailer For Michel Ocelot’s
AZUR AND ASMAR, also more Robot Taekwon V and a trailer For Miike’s stage version of ZATOICHI

Iron Man and Hulk Movie Bobble-Heads

Funko has released new images of the upcoming bobble-heads for the
Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk movies.

New Superhero Movie Pic and Zucker Talks

USA Today has published this new photo from
Superhero Movie, the spoof action-comedy starring Drake Bell and coming to theaters on March 28.

The newspaper talked to producer David Zucker who explained what movies they are taking aim at: "It's predominantly 'Spider-Man,' but we satirize 'Batman Begins,' 'X-Men,' 'Fantastic Four,' 'Superman,' everything. It's a spoof of the whole superhero genre, like we did with the 'Scary Movies,' but this one probably has more of a unified plot, like the 'Naked Guns' had."

Regina Hall and Tracy Morgan spoof Halle Berry's white-haired Storm and Patrick Stewart's psychic Dr. Xavier from
"X-Men." Meanwhile, Leslie Nielsen plays Bell's uncle, à la Spider-Man's Uncle Ben.

Christopher McDonald co-stars as the villainous Hourglass.
"He's dying of some rare disease, and he invents a machine where he can continue to live, as long as he kills a lot of people," Zucker added.

The Creatures of Hellboy II

Last week, in
Part 1 of Superhero Hype's visit to the set of Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy II: The Golden Army, they gave an overview of what they saw in Budapest in terms of the sets and filming, and earlier this week, they posted an interview with Doug Jones, who plays Abe Sapien and other creatures.

Before they get to the final part of their tour, enjoy this
extended interview with director Guillermo del Toro, who took a lot of time during their visit to come over and chat. As much fun as it always is talking to him, the best part of the tour was certainly saved for last when they were brought to the Hellboy II creature shop and were given their first look at the newest member of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense), Johann Kraus, as well as a half dozen creatures that Hellboy would encounter in his latest adventure, including the wild inhabitants of the Troll Market who would fit in well with the demons of "Hellraiser."

Their guide for the tour was Mark Setrakian, the film's main animatronic designer, and he gave them the run-through of some of the wild things they saw scattered throughout the shop as they walked in, telling them that most of the characters being dealt with in the creature shop had some sort of animatronics involved whether it's the Angel of Death's wings or moving mechanical parts on the heads and hands. All of the creatures were designed using a computer program that would be able to figure out the mechanics before they're constructed in the shop.

Johann Kraus

The primary new character being introduced to the Hellboy Universe directly from Mike Mignola's comics is the German psychic, Johann Kraus, whose ectoplasmic being was preserved within a containment suit after a séance gone horribly wrong.

The challenges are to create a character who is essentially a suit with a glass fishbowl head filled with illuminated gas without resorting to CG, something that Guillermo talked about when we spoke with him earlier.
"The original concept was to go for the old look when the budget was much higher, that empty light bulb look from the comics books. That meant replacing the entire head with a CG head for a thousand shots. That was prohibitive and gladly we went with a more Jules Verne containment suit look, so we used perspective and mirror tricks inside the helmet to keep the head disappeared. We are not using opticals or digital. We just angle the helmet and the reflections, and we created a magnifying glass bubble, so you feel there is more empty space in the helmet than there really is. And then we built the suit to show a fishbowl head and it looks very 19th century."

In the creature shop, they were able to see what Guillermo was talking about when we were shown Johann's mechanical head, which looks a bit like the head of Robby the Robot, his mouth replaced by metal flaps that move mechanically whenever he speaks—his voice being provided by German actor Thomas Kretschmann—but then smoke gets pumped into the glass domed helmet with lights inside to create the illusion of Johann's gaseous state. Controlled by two puppeteers, the heavy head contraption actually sits on top of the head of the actor making it such a challenging suit to wear that the duties had to be shared by two actors, John Alexander and James Dodd, the latter whom they met and talked to while he was being retrofitted with the costume, which was originally designed to fit Alexander's head. The fact that James is playing a
"being made of gas" certainly has made him the butt of a number of jokes, but they could see how it would be tough for him to see and breathe, especially with all that smoke, while playing the part, and they mentioned that Guillermo does like a lot of smoke.

James told us an anecdote of his experience in the suit:
"I have to go and rescue a woman who is semi-freaking out from something, and I have to walk around the car, so I walked around one side, crossed the front and back up the other side to grab this lady, and I go up behind her, grab her shoulder and pull her back. (My helmet) had completely steamed up by the time Guillermo had shouted 'action' so I went 7 steps forward, 3 steps around the front of the car, and 3 steps back to this woman. Went to grab what I thought was her shoulder and it was square onto her breast. Guillermo shouted 'cut' and was killing himself laughing and they pulled me into the tent to watch it on loop. There's rumors that will be on the bloopers at the end."

While Johann started out as a concept drawing, his design mainly came together in the computer using 3-D models in a CAD program, which were then translated into C&C language which generated the molds for different parts of the helmet. (Yes, it's very complicated stuff to make these creatures, requiring as much of an engineering background as an artistic one.) It certainly seems like Setrakian and his team are trying to bring creature design into the 21st Century with so much of what they saw being generated from computers, which is a somewhat different and new approach to creature design than the normal way of getting a cast of the actor and then sculpting onto it from models and maquettes.

Considering that Guillermo wants Johann to play a larger part in the third movie, it's likely that he'll become a fan favorite, much like Doug Jones' Abe Sapien was in the first movie. (At the time, it wasn't clear whether Kretschmann's voice would be mechanized or manipulated, since in the script it states that Johann has a "soft German accent.")


One of the prominent creature baddies of Hellboy II, which had to be realized by the creature shop was Mr. Wink, a giant cave troll that should prove to be a good match for Hellboy, since he looks related in some ways. Looking like a mutated cyborg ape with tusks, Mr. Wink was designed and sculpted by Mario Torres based on the original concepts by Guillermo, and he's played by noted creature performer Brian Steele, whose work some might remember from the "Underworld" movies and who is rumored to play the Gillman in the upcoming Creature of the Black Lagoon remake. Quite literally Prince Nuada's right hand man, Wink's right appendage is a giant metal fist not unlike Hellboy's concrete hand, but it was made out of heavy plastic to keep it light with motors to move the mechanical fingers. On top of that, Wink's entire right fist can be detached and shoot out of his arm barrel like a weapon, while remaining attached via a long, heavy chain so it can be reeled back in after being ejected. Due to the technology used to create it, the hand could still move and gesture even when it's extended out at the end of the chain, and Setrakian told us the very first use of this appendage was a shot of Wink reeling in the hand, which many will assume was done with CG. Wink's left-hand is not radio-controlled but it's an enormous gorilla-like appendage with three large fingers, which in one scene is used to grab Abe by the head, or as Mark stated it, "The fingers wrap around (Abe's) head like it was an orange."

The Chamberlain

This is another one of the fascinating creatures portrayed by the one and only Doug Jones, and it's an odd-looking character with a blobby head that
"looks like a thumb with eyes", but it's an elegant creature fitting of Jones' personality, long and gangly, nearly 8 feet tall, wearing silk and velvet robes. In the creature shop, they were shown the Chamberlain's extended hands with long spindly fingers filled with servos that are controlled using a microprocessor as an extension of Jones' own hands. Because the hands and fingers are so thin, it would be impossible for someone's actual hands to fit into them let alone control the fingers, but Mark told us how they designed the Chamberlain's flourishing hand movements based on Doug's own performances or as he called it, "The Doug Jones Factor."

"The first day that I had these available for Doug to try out, I put one on his left hand and let him act with his other hand. He was playing in front of the mirror, and I saw what he was doing on his right hand and mimicked that on the left side, so when he has both hands, it's a very Doug performance."

Cathedral Head and Friends

Mark introduced them to puppeteer Kyle Martin who showed them the heads of some of the creatures played by Brian Steele and Doug Jones, including the heads for Wink and Chamberlain, and other minor creatures including "Fragglewump," a spider-like creature with dozens of eyes, each individually controlled using servos, and "Croney Troll," who is like the barber in the Troll Market, holding a straight razor.

Easily one of the more unique characters and one certainly in the vein of the creatures from Mignola's comics Is Cathedral Head, the proprietor of a map shop in the Troll Market whose head is literally a giant church with stained glass windows that light up brightly while his eyes are controlled by servos. It's unlikely that Cathedral Head has any sort of big speaking role—he doesn't have a mouth after all—but he's likely to be one of those cool background characters worth freezing the DVD to admire.

Many of these creatures use a combination of make-up and animatronics, so that Doug Jones and Brian Steele's mouths are used as part of the performances when the creatures are talking while other aspects of the heads are mechanized, and though most of the characters are mechanical, they mentioned that they also have CG versions of some of the creatures to use during the long shots and fight sequences.

Obviously, their brief foray into the world of Hellboy probably can't do justice to how amazing these creatures will look when we see them all together on the big screen, but it's obvious that the amount of new creatures being introduced will play a large part in making the sequel an even more experience than the first movie, considering how much work and time has been put into getting every detail just right.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army opens on July 11.

What’s The Story With Rob Zombie And CONAN?!

The story is... it’s not really a story.

It’s true that Lionsgate, NuImage, and Paradox Entertainment are meeting with directors and other potential department heads right now on their upcoming
CONAN film. Whatever this is, it’s not a sequel or a remake. Josh Oppenheimer and Tom Donnelly are working on the script now, and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to put something together soon where we talk to them about Robert E. Howard, the stories that they’re using for inspiration for this new attempt to bring him to bigscreen life, and more.

In the meantime, it sounds to me like someone (coughrobcough) decided to do a little campaigning via a carefully timed “rumor,” a pretty standard tactic for Internet-savvy directors these days. If that’s what did indeed happen, then I hope you guys will be sure to let the companies involved know exactly what you think of the idea of this particular filmmaker working on this particular property.

Trust me... the right people are listening.

There are many filmmakers still meeting on this project right now, so don’t think this is a done deal or that they’re already committed here. Keep that in mind... this is just one name out of several.

Does it do anything at all for you?

BTW... our friends over at Bloody-Disgusting did good work with the initial story... I just think their leak had an agenda of his own...

Are you guys ready for this?! This afternoon we have confirmed 100% that Rob Zombie has been taking meetings with Lionsgate and Nu Image to get behind the director's chair for their upcoming Conan film!

I hope we can keep you posted on all things
CONAN in the months to come as what I hope will be a major relaunch of the character gets underway.

Actor Roy Scheider Dies at 75

Actor Roy Scheider, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for his leading role as the water-phobic police chief in the smash blockbuster
Jaws, died Sunday in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences hospital; he was 75. Though an official cause of death was not released at press time, a hospital spokeswoman stated that the actor had been treated for multiple myeloma at the hospital's research center for the past two years. Born in New Jersey, Scheider pursued a career in boxing before turning to acting, and won an Obie award for his work with the New York Shakespeare Festival in the late '60s. His first major film appearances also began in the late '60s in such movies as Star! and Paper Lion, and it was in 1971 that he truly gained fame for his roles two popular thrillers, Klute and The French Connection; the latter earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. However, it was his role four years later in the Steven Spielberg thriller Jaws for which he became most well-known, playing a local lawman in a tourist beach town who must contend with the sudden appearance of a great white shark; his line, "You're gonna need a bigger boat," became one of the most well-known lines in contemporary film. Scheider also appeared in the ill-fated sequel Jaws 2 (after dropping out of the lead role in The Deer Hunter and in order to be let out of his Universal Studios contract) and the thriller Marathon Man before embarking on his most acclaimed performance, that of Broadway director and choreographer Joe Gideon in Bob Fosse's All That Jazz. The role, closely based on Fosse's life, brought Scheider his second Academy Award nomination in 1979, this time for Best Actor. Though none of Scheider's later films would reach the heights of his movies from the '70s, he continued to work steadily in both film and television, with diverse roles in such films as Still Of The Night, Blue Thunder, 2010, The Russia House, Naked Lunch, The Peacekeeper, The Myth Of Fingerprints (for which he received an Independent Spirit Award nomination) and the TV series SeaQuest DSV and Third Watch. Scheider is survived by his three children and his second wife, actress Brenda King.

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