Tuesday, February 12, 2008

News - 02/12/08...

"Spectacular Spider-Man" to Debut on March 8, 2008, with Back-to-Back Episodes

Sony Pictures Television has announced that The Spectacular Spider-Man animated series will be debuting on March 8, 2008, on the Kids WB! programming block on the CW network. The premiere will consist of two back-to-back episodes starting at 10:00 AM (Eastern/Pacific). The newest animated incarnation of Marvel Comics' famous wall-crawling superhero has Greg Weisman (Gargoyles) as supervising producer, with Victor Cook (Tarzan & Jane, Hellboy Animated) as producer/supervising director.

"Rock the Boat" Getting 3-D Treatment

France's Gaumont will produce its upcoming animated feature Rock the Boat in digital 3-D, Variety reports.

The CG-animated comedy, which is scheduled for a 2010 release, is about a porcupine and a cheetah who try stealing away on Noah's Ark by disguising themselves as the hybrid "porceetah" species.

Gaumont's announcement follows the strong recent performance of Disney's 3-D Hannah Montana.

"Chowder" Creator C.H. Greenblatt Interviewed by Cartoonist Joe Meyer

C.H. Greenblatt, creator of Cartoon Networks' new series Chowder, has been interviewed by cartoonist Joe Meyer at the kittysneezes.com website. The article covers subjects as diverse as the origins of the show, the plans in place if the lead child voice actors' voices change during production, the use of stop-motion animation and puppetry in the show, and whether a gun that fires dogs or a gun that fires cats would make a better weapon.

Greenblatt has also posted images of the puppets used in the end-credits gag sequences on his weblog.

Rhino Buggies to be Featured in Wolverine

According to this announcement from Rhino Buggies, the company's Hammer will be featured in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You can check out the Hummer replica models here.

Classic Hasbro Games To Get EA Treatment in 2008

Game night will be forever changed with the advent of classic Hasbro games on Nintendo Wii, DS, PC and mobile phones later this year.

LITTLEST PET SHOP and NERF ’N-STRIKE will be available on Wii and DS this fall, with development of MONOPOLY, SCRABBLE and other titles on multiple platforms underway, EA Casual Entertainment announced Monday.

EA Mobile will add MONOPOLY HERE & NOW, TRIVIAL PURSUIT, RISK and YAHTZEE ADVENTURES this spring to their slate of first-generation mobile games like SCRABBLE and YAHTZEE DELUXE.

An online, multiplayer TRIVIAL PURSUIT should launch this fall on EA’s Pogo.com.

Pogo.com is also developing multiplayer online experiences for MONOPOLY and YAHTZEE, as well as launching OPERATION and PICTUREKA, which can be played offline or on Pogo.com for bonus features and a social experience.Italic

“Bringing the spirit of these games to life as video games has allowed us to create really unique and creative experiences for families and friends of all ages to enjoy together at home or online,” said Chip Lange, Vice President and General Manager of EA’s Hasbro Studio

EA will unveil LITTLEST PET SHOP on Wii and DS, NERF ’N-STRIKE and EA Mobile’s SCRABBLE, YAHTZEE ADVENTURES and MONOPOLY HERE & NOW at Hasbro’s Toy Fair showcase in New York Feb. 17-19.

Southern China Prepares for Animation Revolution

According to AnimationInsider.net, the city of Guangzhou is putting into action a series of optimistic investment deals, international co-productions and domestic animation projects that will, according to cultural ministry reporters, give the city as well as the nation a solid foundation for a working animation industry. With few artists skilled enough to guide their own studio and not enough original content to entice foreign producers, Guangzhou, China is fit to refocus all on its own.

Weekend Box Office: "Persepolis" Up, "Alvin" Still in Play

Alvin and the Chipmunks grossed $1.8 million in North American box offices over the weekend, giving the CG-live action hybrid seventeenth place and $209.9 million domestically, according to data at Box Office Mojo.

Persepolis added screens and $431,000 to its take, giving the critically praised feature a cumulative gross of $2.4 million. The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything grossed $388,000 for a $11.7 million total.

Clone Wars gets theatrical release

According to Ain’t It Cool News, the US will get a theatrical release of Star Wars: Clone Wars on August 15 to kick off the CGI animated television series. The Clone Wars storyline takes place between episodes 2 and 3 in George Lucas’ Star Wars film saga.

"Howard the Duck" creator Steve Gerber dead at 60

Steve Gerber, creator of the iconic comic book Howard the Duck and writer for several cartoon series, died Sunday night at MountainView Hospital in Las Vegas following a long struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 60.

"For the last year or so, he was in and out of hospitals there and had just become a 'candidate' for a lung transplant," friend and comic book historian Mark Evanier wrote on his "News From Me" Web site. "Steve insisted that his affliction had nothing to do with his lifelong, incessant consumption of tobacco -- an addiction he only recently quit for reasons of medical necessity. None of his friends believed that, but Steve did."

In 1998, Toons magazine asked its readers to vote for the Top 25 animated series of all time. Gerber served as chief story editor on two of those series -- G.I. Joe (Sunbow Productions) and Dungeons & Dragons (Marvel Productions) -- and won an Emmy for his work as staff writer on a third, The Batman/Superman Adventures (WB Animation).

Gerber was a writer for the short-lived 1981 Ruby-Spears Productions series Goldie Gold and Action Jack, as well as Ruby-Spears' Mr. T (1983) and 4Kids Entertainment's Yu-Gi-Oh! He also co-created and story edited the animated cult favorite Thundarr the Barbarian for Ruby-Spears. His first work in animation was for a script for Ruby-Spears' Plastic Man series.

He was a story editor for Marvel Productions' Transformers (1984). For The New Superman Adventures, he wrote the three-part Batman/Superman Adventures: World's Finest (1998), also known as The Batman/Superman Movie, and the 1997 episode "Father's Day." And for The New Batman Adventures, he wrote the 1998 episodes "Beware the Creeper," "Critters" and "Love Is a Croc."

During a career spanning over 30 years, Gerber put words in the mouths of virtually every major character in the comic book world -- from Superman to Scooby-Doo -- and his work appeared under the imprint of almost every major publisher in the field.

His other comics creations include Nevada (Vertigo Press); Void Indigo (Epic Comics); Sludge (Malibu Comics); Destroyer Duck (Eclipse Comics and Image Comics); Stewart the Rat (Eclipse Comics); A. Bizarro (DC Comics); and Foolkiller, Suburban Jersey Ninja She-Devils and Omega the Unknown (co-created with Mary Skrenes), all published by Marvel Comics. His runs on Marvel's Man-Thing and Defenders titles and his Phantom Zone miniseries for DC are considered comic book classics. Gerber also wrote, edited and supervised the production of Marvel's celebrated KISS comic book, based on the goth-glam rock band.

He was born Stephen Ross Gerber in St. Louis, Missouri on September 20, 1947. During the 1960s, he was a fanzine publisher in the days of dittos and mimeographs, publishing Headline at age 14.

Gerber befriended Alter Ego fanzine publisher Roy Thomas. Years later, Gerber was hired by Thomas, then the editor at Marvel Comics, and made a writer and assistant editor. (Gerber had been writing advertising copy until then.)

Gerber's many titles at Marvel included Morbius the Living Vampire... and Howard the Duck.

"Howard, obviously autobiographical to a large degree, took the industry by storm. The creation was in many ways a mixed blessing to his creator," Evanier recalled. "It led to an ugly and costly legal battle over ownership, which Steve settled out of court."

When Gerber was involved in his lawsuit with Marvel, many colleagues in the comic book business aided him with loans and gifts of cash. As a fundraiser, some of them put together a comic book, Destroyer Duck.

The 1986 movie version of Howard the Duck -- a critical and commercial flop -- was produced with minimal involvement by Gerber, according to Evanier. "Still, the issues (of the comic) he did are widely regarded as classics... and Howard is often cited as a character who only Steve could make work."

Gerber left Marvel in the mid-1970s under what Evanier called "unpleasant circumstances," working with his colleague writing comic books at Hanna-Barbera, many of Marvel published.

"An editor at the company had loudly vowed that the work of Steve Gerber would never again appear in anything published by Marvel," Evanier recalled. "Just to be ornery, we immediately had Steve write a story for one of the H-B comics I was editing, and it was published by Marvel with a writer credit for 'Reg Everbest,' which was Steve's name spelled inside-out."

In collaboration with Beth Slick, Gerber co-authored BBSs for Dummies (IDG Press), a light-hearted manual on computer telecommunications, and an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

His last published work was Hard Time, published by DC Comics. With art by Brian Hurtt, the new series from DC Focus centered on a teenager sentenced to 50 years in prison. While in the hospital last week, Gerber was working on a new Doctor Fate series for DC.

"In the seventies... people knew, first of all, that Steve was fighting not just for his own financial reasons, but for matters of principle relating to how the comic book industry treated its creators," Evanier wrote in his blog. "That some of the more pernicious business practices soon went away had a lot to do with Steve taking the stand he did.

"Also, those who knew Steve knew that when you were in need, he would do anything to help. He was, in every sense of the word, a friend."

Sound editor Mary Ruth Smith dies at 57

Mary Ruth Smith, a sound editor for such productions as Filmation Associates' 1985 A Christmas Special, died January 28 in Los Angeles after a 14 month fight against pancreatic cancer. She was 57.

Co-producted by Mattel, Inc., the syndicated program was also known as He-Man and She-Ra: A Christmas Special.

Smith was a sound editor and member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild, Local 700, for over 20 years.

In 1986, she shared an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series for "Two Easy Pieces," an episode of Hill Street Blues.

She shared a 2000 Golden Reel Award nomination by Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA for Best Sound Editing - Dialogue & ADR for the film The Insider.

Born on April 11, 1950, she had been starting of a new career with Local 800 of the Art Directors Guild.

In lieu of flowers, a donation in her name is requested to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 2141 Rosecrans Avenue, Suite 7000, El Segundo, CA 90245.

Toon Tuesday: Disney's "B" Movie by Floyd Norman

Long before Jerry Seinfeld and DreamWorks began talking about making "Bee Movie," this subject was alive & well at Walt Disney Studios

Back in the 1960s, our morning was interrupted by a special meeting. It was held in a small conference room just off A-Wing in Disney's animation building. I honestly don't recall everyone in the meeting. But I do know that production boss Ken Peterson and Andy Engman were present.

Why this special meeting? Well, Disney's animation department was still recovering from the "failure" of "Sleeping Beauty" at the box office. Disney Studios, and Walt Disney in particular, began to explore the idea of producing less expensive films. Hardly a new idea, Hollywood studios had their A-list productions, along with other shows that became known as "B" movies. These were films produced at a lower cost and provided a training ground for up & coming actors and directors. Live-action produced "B" movies, why not animation?

Disney animation buffs probably remember that the hit film, "Dumbo" could easily be considered a "B" movie in spite of its classic status. Remember that "Dumbo" was produced during particularly rough times at the Disney studio. Picketers gathered outside the studio gates as the film was rushed to completion. Though "Dumbo" could boast of top studio talent in terms of story and art direction, its animation staff, with the notable exception of Ward Kimball, were Disney's second tier animators. Yet, "Dumbo" proved it could hold its own as a top animated movie even though it lacked a big budget and A-list animation talent. The running time barely qualifies "Dumbo" as a feature film, and Disney was pressed to add to the films length. But Walt hung tough, and this short little movie is still beloved by millions today.

By the arrival of the '60s, Disney movies were usually considered top tier motion pictures with large staffs and a considerable budget. However, the Old Maestro began rethinking this idea. There were also projects that did not necessarily require all the resources of Disney Studios, and Ken Peterson actually had a list of stories Walt Disney considered exploring as low budget features.

You're probably wondering what stories were on Walt's list back in the 1960s, right? What were the movies that would compliment the big budgeted A-list feature films at Disney? Well, I wish I had taken better notes, because I can't remember all the stories Ken put on the table as possible feature films. However, I can tell you that one story was based on the Native American, "Hiawatha." This had been an idea Walt Disney had been thinking about for years. He probably intended to make the film back in the 1940s before the advent of World War II suddenly changed things. Another story on the table was a children's novel by Margery Sharp entitled, "The Rescuers."

You might be wondering what was the purpose of this morning meeting at the Disney studio. I'm only speculating, but I think the studio wanted to put to rest rumors of an animation department shut down. Clearly, Walt Disney still had stories to tell whether those stories proved to be big or small. I can tell you that after the disastrous "Sleeping Beauty" layoffs, this good news was extremely encouraging.

This is the very same room where we had our meeting back in the sixties. It's A-wing
on the first floor of the animation building. That's Paul Hartley (father of actress,
Mariette Hartley) on the left. Animation boss, Ken Peterson is seated,
and Andy Engman is standing next to him. Animation
Master Marc Davis is on the right.

The first "B" movie was underway. Writer/artist Bill Berg began developing "The Rescuers" as a feature film. Bill Berg had written and storyboarded the first program for Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color. This show introduced color television and a wonderful new cartoon character, Professor Ludwig Von Drake. Berg worked in a large story room on the west side of A-Wings second floor. On occasion, we young artists made the trip upstairs to view progress on the story. Unlike most features that spend years in development, Bill quickly had his boards completed, and ready to show to Walt Disney.

As luck would have it, I was in A-Wing on the day of the big meeting. Of course, I would not be attending this important meeting, but I was close enough to hear the pitch through the closed story room door. Over an hour had passed and all appeared to be going well until the door opened, and the old guys walked out into the hallway. I moved toward the story room just in time to see the Old Maestro himself walk past me and down the hallway. The look on Walt's face, and his overall attitude told me all I needed to know.

This cartoon drawing of Disney was inspired by the first "Rescuers" meeting back in the sixties.
I was at the door when Walt came storming out. Though Walt didn't care for the story
pitch, this movie resurfaced nearly ten years later, and was finally produced.

Walt Disney put feature storytelling back in the hands of the veteran, Bill Peet, and the idea of doing "B" features was never mentioned again. Oddly enough, "The Rescuers" would make its return to Disney animation nearly ten years later.

As I think back on that early morning meeting back in the sixties, I realize that crazy idea could have worked. Why not make a less expensive feature film? Not every story requires a big budget and a huge crew to tell effectively. In an era of bloated budgets, huge crews, and a schedule that seems like a lifetime, a little restraint might be just what animated filmmaking needs.

The Walt Disney studio never did produce their "B" movie, and I regret that the Old Maestro didn't give the idea more opportunity to prove itself. Such films could have been an opportunity to explore new story ideas and provide a training ground for young animation talent. It could have launched a new era of exploration and - - who knows - - they might have given us another "Dumbo."

International Animation at NYICFF 2008

2008 NYICFF - Animation Highlights

After more than decade in the promotion and exhibition of entertaining, artistic and thoughtful feature film animation and live-action productions, the New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) continues to schedule excellent titles that will intrigue and amaze audiences. Featuring children's movies that have been produced all over the world, from central Europe to all parts of Asia, the NYICFF annually draws tens of thousands of interested moviegoers in the exploration of fantasy, science fiction, action and the everyday as seen through the eyes of quality directors and producers. This year's film festival will be held from February 29th through March 16th, 2008 at multiple theater locations.

Always with a healthy slate of animated properties to showcase, the New York International Children's Film Festival has brought a great deal of unique items produced domestically and internationally.

Having sold out ahead of time for the past eight years consecutively, highlights of last year's film festival included the United States premiere of Mamoru Hosoda's The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and well-received showings of animated shorts from the Pixar animation unit.

This year, the children's film festival somewhat ideally features animated films of all sorts.

Animation highlights follow; but special mentions include the United States premiere of Nocturna, a fantasy tale of what happens when children go to sleep at night.

Also playing is the lauded Korean-produced Yeu Woo Bi ("Yobi: The Five-Tailed Fox) and the highly anticipated Japanese animation three-chapter romantic saga Byousoku 5cm ("5 Centimeters Per Second"), by Makoto Shinkai. Below are festival offered summaries of the tiles screened at the festival with their related credits and showtime information with specific theaters cited parenthetically. Age recommendations are provided by the NYICFF.

Country: Spain/France; 2007, 80 min.
Noteworthy Credits: Adrià García (director, writer, art director, chara. design) / Victor Maldonado (director, writer, art director, chara. design)
U.S. Premiere; in English; Ages 5+
Sat., March 15th, 2:00pm (Peter North Symphony Space)

Visually stunning and wildly inventive, this film explores the mystery of the night in a sweeping nocturnal adventure full of Alice in Wonderland-like characters and moody, dream-inspired landscapes. Have you ever wondered why your hair looks funny in the morning or where the sounds outside your window come from at night? A young boy named Tim finds out when an unusual discovery on the rooftop of his orphanage plunges him into the secret world of Nocturna, inhabited by curious creatures who control the night.

There are hairdressers who specialize in bed-heads, dream writers, and a vast herd of guardian cats led by the gigantic Cat Shepherd. But this world is in danger: the stars in the sky are disappearing, kids are becoming restless at night, and a mysterious shadow creature is haunting the empty streets, extinguishing anything that gives off light. If Tim and the Cat Shepherd can't set things right, nighttime will never be the same!

Bold anime-influenced character design and beautiful, fluid 2D animation help to create a fantastic dream world that balances the magical with a touch of menace. Tim and the audience ultimately learn that the night doesn't have to be so scary, after all.

LOTTE FROM GADGETVILLE (Leiutajateküla Lotte)
Country: Estonia/Latvia; 2006, 81 min.
Noteworthy Credits: Heiki Ernits (dir., writer) / Janno Poldma (dir., writer)
U.S. Premiere; in English; Ages 3-8
Sun., March 2nd, 3:00pm (Cantor Film Center)
Sat., March 15th, 11:00am (Peter North Symphony Space)

This first feature-length animated film from Estonia was enormously popular in its home country, besting hits like The Incredibles and The Da Vinci Code at the box office, winning the prize for best animation, and becoming something of a national treasure— the Estonian government even issued a Lotte postal stamp! An old fashioned crowd pleaser that is "less interested in teaching morals than creating fun," (Variety), Lotte From Gadgetville is a sweet and gentle-spirited film, full of wacky contraptions, silly/happy songs, and a warm and refreshingly uncynical sense of humor.

Lotte is a cheerful girl-dog who lives in the seaside town of Gadgetville, a village crazy about inventing Rube Goldberg-esque machines. Every year there is a competition to show off the best homemade inventions, which Lotte's father Oscar always wins. But at this year's competition, the town is abuzz about the Japanese bee Susumu, who introduces Gadgetville to the concept of judo. After the town becomes obsessed with the sport, Lotte and her three friends try to help Susumu get back to Japan, where they plan to test their new skills in an international judo contest.

SUMMER DAYS WITH COO (Kappa no ku to natsu yasumi)
Country: Japan; 2007 138 min.
Noteworthy Credit: Keiichi Hara (dir., writer),
U.S. Continental Premiere; Japanese with Eng. Subtitles; Ages 10+
Sat., March 8th, 2:00pm (Peter North Symphony Space)

Nine-year-old Koichi unearths an odd-shaped rock by the riverside. Taking the stone back home and washing it, he is startled when green limbs pop out. He soon learns it's actually a kappa that has been trapped underground for over 300 years—a remnant from the samurai era, a time when dragons, sprites and other mythological creatures still populated Japan's natural forests and mountains. A kappa is a mischievous water sprite, a cute combination of a leprechaun and frog
that absorbs water through a little bowl in his head.

Koichi dubs him "Coo" for the first sound he utters, and they soon become inseparable, taking long bicycle rides through the countryside, swimming in the local ponds, and playing practical jokes on the family. But before long Coo and Koichi begin to understand that a Tokyo suburb is no place for a water sprite. So they set out on a journey across Japan to find Coo a new home, looking for the pristine lakes and rivers that might be home to more of the elusive kappa.

A five-year labor of love for master animator Keiichi Hara, Summer Days with Coo combines anime fantasy with a-boy-and-his pet adventure story, all set against sumptuous, hand drawn landscapes. The film is a lyrical and emotionally resonant ode to friendships that unfold over the slow days of summer and the beauty, mystery and fragility of the natural world.

Country: South Korea; 2007, 85 min.
Noteworthy Credit: Lee Sung-Gang (director)
East Coast Premiere; Korean with Eng. subtitles; Ages 9+
Sat., March 1st, 6:00pm (Cantor Film Center)

Furry aliens, the cutest fox creature ever created, and a summer camp for emotionally maladjusted kids collide in this bold and big-hearted animated adventure from renowned Korean director Lee Sung-gang. One hundred years ago, an alien spaceship crash landed into the remote forest home of Yobi, one of the last of a race of mythological nine-tailed foxes. Yobi can shape-shift into any creature, including humans, which becomes useful now that a summer camp has set up right outside her forest. When one of the aliens gets trapped in the camp, Yobi goes in on a rescue mission but stays when she realizes how much fun it is to be a human girl, and even attracts the attention of the shy boy, Geum-yee. There's just one big problem: In order to remain human, Yobi must steal the soul of the one she loves!

The film is literally bursting with vibrant colors and adorable character designs. But like Lee Sung-gang's first film, the critically-acclaimed My Beautiful Girl Mari (2002), Yobi never lets the stunning visuals or sci-fi elements overwhelm the emotional story underneath. Yobi is an instantly sympathetic and lovably precocious young girl, whose curious interactions and tough decisions teach her (and remind us) of what it means to be human.

Country: Switzerland; 2007, 76 min.
Noteworthy Credits: Samuel and Frédéric Guillaume (directors)
U.S. Premiere; French with Eng. subtitles; Ages 8+
Sun., Mar 2nd, 1:00pm (Cantor Film Center)

Brilliantly animated in the stop-motion tradition of Tim Burton, Henry Selick and Aardman Animations, Max & Co. mixes bizarre characters, meticulously detailed landscapes, and catchy tunes to create a biting and gleeful satire of capitalism run amok. Fifteen-year-old Max is on a journey to track down his estranged father, the notorious rock & roll troubadour Johnny Bigoude, when he arrives in a small village centered around the Bzzz & Co. factory, producers of the world's most popular flyswatters. The town is devastated when dwindling profit margins cause half the workforce to be laid off, but the swarms of mutant flies created by the company to inspire more sales soon pose the larger threat.

Can Max save the day and expose the company's scheme, and will he ever meet his father or charm his young coworker Felicy? Max & Co. was winner of the audience prize at the prestigious Annecy Int'l Animated Film Festival and is one of the most expensive and ambitious animated movies in Swiss history. The animation crew includes veterans from Corpse Bride, Chicken Run and Toy Story, while cinematographer Renato Berta is best known for his work with French New Wave legend Alain Resnais.

Country: Japan; 2007, 63 min.
Noteworthy Credit: Makoto Shinkai (dir. writer)
East Coast Premiere; Japanese with Eng. subtitles; Ages 12+
Saturday, March 1st, 2:00pm (Peter North Symphony Space)

Five centimeters per second is the speed at which cherry blossoms petals -- the Japanese symbol of youth's ephemeral flowering -- are said to flutter and fall.

In this beautiful and visually arresting anime film, a series of three vignettes follow the elusive relationship between Takaki and Akari, two friends who try to remain in touch after elementary school, even as their lives take them in vastly different directions.

Created by rising star Makoto Shinkai, this drama of distances and time captures the heartbreak and intensity of youthful romance, told through simple actions and breathtaking landscapes rendered with almost photo-realistic precision. Shinkai spins a "sensitive and achingly beautiful tale of youthful love, loss and longing. To match the bottled-up passions of his characters, he designs his drama in a dazzling palette of vibrant, shimmering hues. Everyday moments are captured in the hyperreal intensity of romanticized memory." (Seattle Times). This is a movie you will not soon forget—a heart-rending visual masterwork.

Starz Animates Raggedy Ann

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing has partnered with Starz Media to develop and produce a series of animated movies based on the publisher’s Raggedy Ann and Me! line of books. The Raggedy Adventures releases will lend an updated look to the classic character, first introduced in Johnny Gruelle's Raggedy Ann & Andy stories and adored by generations of kids.

The films will be produced by Starz Media’s Film Roman unit, which produces such popular animated children’s programs as
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and the Emmy-winning Eloise, as well as the primetime FOX hits The Simpsons and King of the Hill. The company has hired writer Joe Ansolabehere (Recess, Hey Arnold, Rugrats) to help bring this new vision of Raggedy Ann to the screen. Russ Berrie will create a new doll based on the franchise update.

TV sales for
Raggedy Adventures will be handled by Starz Media, whose Anchor Bay Ent. will distribute them on home video. United Media is currently building a licensing program in support of Raggedy Ann and Me!, and will release merchandise in conjunction with the videos, dolls and books this fall.

Star Trek Movie Gets NASA Advice

Space.com reports that J.J. Abrams' Star Trek is getting help from NASA planetary scientist Carol Porco. Here's a clip:

The out-of-this world visuals in the new Star Trek movie will actually be based on science from our solar system. A NASA planetary scientist has joined the film's production team to ensure the scientific accuracy of the movie's astronomical scenes.

As the leader of the Imaging Science team on NASA'S Cassini mission at Saturn, Carolyn Porco has guided a crew of scientists and engineers responsible for illustrating the mission's results.

Porco now will also work on the new Paramount Pictures film as a consultant on planetary science and imagery.

Click here for much more on this! Star Trek opens in theaters on Christmas Day.

From Aint It Cool News:

The News From Berlin: HEROES Grounded For Season!!

Strike or no, Hayden Panettiere says we won’t be getting any fresh Sylar, Hiro, Claire or Noah this spring.

From “Mastidon”:

Hi Guys,

I've been extremely busy here at the Berlin Film Festival having already screened a dozen movies. Full reports on those to follow soon. But first I wanted to pass along some bad news -

Today I got to spend 20 minutes with everyone's favorite cheerleader, Hayden Panettiere. She is promoting her new film FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN. Anyway, she confirmed that even though the strike is over, Heroes is definitely done for the season. New shooting will not start until April which she will arrive a bit late for as she will be finishing up another film in Canada. So I guess we have to wait until at least September. Full transcription of that interview coming after the festival.

Ciao for now

G.I. Joe Starts Filming Today

In an article talking about Hasbro's fourth quarter results, it was revealed that G.I. Joe started shooting yesterday:

Two Hasbro-related live-action movies are scheduled to be released in 2009 — Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe, based on the Hasbro action figure starts shooting Monday, Verrecchia said. Despite a Hollywood writers strike, there were no delays in the movies' production schedules, he said.

Paramount has scheduled an August 7, 2009 release date for the Stephen Sommers-directed action-adventure written by Stuart Beattie. Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arnold Vosloo and David Murray star.

Spider-Man: The Musical Casting Confirmed?

It looks like director Julie Taymor (Broadway's "The Lion King") has indeed cast Jim Sturgess as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and Evan Rachel Wood as Mary Jane Watson in the upcoming "Spider-Man" musical. Back in November, Taymor said, "Jim's certainly interested, but his film career has taken off, so I have to nab him between movies. Same with Evan. They'd be my ideal pairing, though, if they're free."

Read the full details at TheBadandUgly.com!

A Second Generation of "V" Soon?

Talk of a sequel or remake of the 80's alien invasion mini-series classic "V" has long been in the works, now it seems something might be moving again.

In 2004, original series creator Kenneth Johnson proposed to the networks a sequel. He was later asked to write a script for a remake instead and if successful, the remake could lead to a sequel.

Two years later Johnson announced his completion of a four hour script entitled "V: The Second Generation" set 20 years after the original mini-series. Networks however showed little interest at the time.

Then, last week Johnson released the manuscript in novel form in booksellers and this week revealed on his official site that there will be a major announcement soon to be announced "after the writers strike".

This was followed by a short message to a Dark Horizons reader saying "I really hope you enjoy the novel. Stay tuned for the film version. All the best".

Ignoring events of the mini-series and the second mini-series "The Final Battle", 'Second Generation' has Earth still under Visitor domination and the Resistance fighting a losing battle as the majority believe that the Visitors have only helped them.

It's then that the message Julie sent into space at the end of the original miniseries is finally heard and an army of aliens, the long-sought enemies of the Visitors, reinforces the Resistance in their time of need. However, all is not as it seems.

From Collider.com comes an interview with Matthew Fox about Lost and Speed Racer made prior to the end of the strike

Matthew Fox talks LOST and SPEED RACER

Earlier today I attended the press junket for the new Sony thriller “Vantage Point.” With the huge cast of actors in the film, I managed to get a lot of great quotes about a ton of upcoming movies. Even though it’s a Friday night as I type this, I’m going to be working non-stop to pull the best quotes and get them online asap. Up first, Matthew Fox talking about “Lost” and “Speed Racer.”

As most of you might have heard, the writers are voting on a possible contract tomorrow night and if it’s ratified, everyone will be back at work on Monday. The word on the street is that it’s going to pass, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not only will it bring economic stability back to Los Angeles, but it’ll allow the creators of my favorite show on television to start writing again. What show is that… of course it’s “Lost.”

If you didn’t know, the plan was for 16 new episodes to air this season. Due to the writer’s strike, only 8 of those planned 16 got written and completed. So the big question for all the fans of “Lost” has been if the writer’s strike got settled, how many episodes could they complete of the planned 16.

So when I got a chance to ask Matthew Fox a question during the press conference today, that was the first thing I wanted to know about.

He said they are currently in negotiations right now to figure out how many they might be able to do. As you can read below, he thinks they’ll be able to do at least 4 of the 8, and maybe even up to 6 of them. If you’re a fan of “Lost,” this is great news.

Of course, we also talked about his big upcoming summer movie “Speed Racer.”

Question: Is there a cutoff date when they’re going to decide this season is done?

Matthew Fox: I think there is a drop dead date, but…there are some conversations going on right now, there are conversations about us starting back up.

Q: There are a lot of rumors that the strike is going to be voted on tonight, and possibly resolved by Monday, for fans of Lost, assuming that the strike is over on Monday, how long are you contractually obligated to the show – how many episodes do you think you could make prior to the original hiatus?

Matthew Fox: I think they’re in negotiations about that right now, the studio and Damon, and I think it’s possible that we do 4 or 6 of the 8 that we were supposed to be doing right now. I think we would pick back up and maybe shoot another four this spring, which would give this season a grand total of 12.

Q: Can you talk about your experience working with the Wachowski brothers – did you have any expectations when you went into it? Did you love Speed Racer when you were a kid?

Matthew Fox: I didn’t know Speed Racer at all. Again, getting back to that thing about how directors are very important, when the Wachowskis asked to meet with me, I guess they’re fans of Lost and they had an idea that I might be Racer X, and I went into the meeting never knowing anything about Speed Racer. I wanted to work with the Wachowskis. That meeting went great and I went home with a script, and I got the source material and watched a lot of Speed Racer, and the script blew me away and then I went after that role. I went back to L.A. and I really went after that role, I wanted it, and it took like six weeks. Working with the Wachowskis and the cast on this particular film, and what this film is going to be like, how much it’s a game-changer in my opinion, was an extraordinary experience, it was amazing.

Q: Can you talk about working with those new cameras?

Matthew Fox: They’re pretty unforgiving.

Q: You mean every line shows?

Matthew Fox: Every pore. But they’re amazing and the information that they’re capturing and then what can be done with that information in post is extraordinary. I ADR’d the movie yesterday with Larry and Andy and, I mean, it’s just unbelievable what it looks like, it’s just unbelievable.

Q: Does the film have a running time yet?

Matthew Fox: I think it does but I wouldn’t feel safe saying that.

Q: You mentioned with Lost you were going to try to do maybe 4, maybe 6 episodes, does Damon plan to take the 8 episode storyline and push it into 4-6 episodes?

Matthew Fox: I couldn’t tell you. That would be a question for Damon.

Q: Regarding Lost, having moved ahead as well as going back in the story, and now that there’s a time when it’s going to be over, do you know more about the story and what’s going to happen because your character is kind of a mess in the future, do you know why?

Matthew Fox: Oh yeah, I know a lot, I know everything that got him to that point, I know why he’s at that point, that was important to me.

Q: How do you keep your kids grounded when you’re a star.

Matthew Fox: Well they don’t have any contact with the business part of it. They really don’t get to see any of the things I’m in. Speed Racer that’s one of the things that I was just so excited about as well was that I knew that my kids – it’s a PG film and a family movie, and they came to Berlin and they came on set and saw me in the full Racer X thing, and I didn’t want to scare them so I was like, ‘Hey,’ and they were like, ‘Daddy?’ ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s me,’ and I walked on set and my little boy turned to my wife and he goes, ‘I want to be Racer X next Halloween.’

Q: You mentioned PG, but there’s a lot of talk that the movie might be rated G.

Matthew Fox: They might be going for G as well. I’m not sure where that’s going to fall, but it’s certainly going to be in one of those two categories.

Q: Could you talk a little about working for the Wachowskis and if you had any preconceived ideas about them going in and what were they like on set?

Matthew Fox: None, no. They were very private and so you don’t really know much about them until you get to meet them and fall into their world, and they really are artists, they create a world and a big part of your job, particularly on a cartoon being turned into this whole world, is that you spend all of your time trying to figure out what that world that they’re creating in their two head is, and you’re trying to crawl in that and you’re trying to bring that image of X, and that’s what I was doing, X, and this guy and this voice and this presence and this silhouette and find that guy within the backdrop of what they’re doing, which was just amazing. It was a really, really great experience.

1 comment:

lpcyusa said...

#What It’s Like to Chill with the Most Ruthless Men in the World
Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic:
Confessions of a Female War Crimes Investigator

Retrospectively, it was all so simple, natural and matter of fact being on a boat restaurant in Belgrade, sitting with, laughing, drinking a two hundred bottle of wine and chatting about war and peace while Ratko Mladic held my hand. Mladic, a man considered the world’s most ruthless war criminal since Adolf Hitler, still at large and currently having a five million dollar bounty on his head for genocide by the international community. Yet there I was with my two best friends at the time, a former Serbian diplomat, his wife, and Ratko Mladic just chilling. There was no security, nothing you’d ordinarily expect in such circumstances. Referring to himself merely as, Sharko; this is the story of it all came about.