Monday, February 18, 2008

News - 02/18/08...

'Astro Boy' Has Found Its Writer

Timothy Harris is writing the screenplay for Imagi Studios’ upcoming CG-animated feature film Astro Boy, it was jointly announced by Cecil Kramer, Executive VP of Production, and Maryann Garger, producer of Astro Boy.

Writer of such box office hits as Space Jam, Kindergarten Cop, Twins and Trading Places, Timothy Harris has been authoring screenplays for almost 30 years. His credits also include three acclaimed noir novels. In addition, Harris produced Falling Down, selected for the official competition at the 1993 Cannes International Film Festival.

Cecil Kramer stated: “I am thrilled to have the respected and gifted screenwriter Tim Harris on board. His proven track record in writing great entertainment makes him a perfect fit for bringing the timeless saga of Astro Boy, one of the best-known characters in the world, to the big screen.”

Maryann Garger said: “We warmly welcome Tim Harris to our team. I have been a longtime fan of Tim’s writing, and it’s enormously exciting and inspiring to be able to work together on such a grand-scale motion picture as Astro Boy.”

Commented Timothy Harris: Astro Boy is a dream animation project. It’s a classic, as timeless as Oliver Twist, set in the most incredible futuristic world. It’s one of those stories that moves you emotionally while being funny and entertaining at the same time.”

Astro Boy, the iconic character created by the “god of manga”, Japan’s Osamu Tezuka, has enjoyed great acclaim and success around the world as the hero of an animated television series which originally aired in the 1960s, with subsequent versions delighting new generations of fans.

Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist to replace the son he has lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving father’s expectations, our hero embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the man who had rejected him.

David Bowers (Flushed Away) is the director of Astro Boy, slated for worldwide release in 2009.

No Bats OR Supes In JLA Flick???

No Superman or Batman in the JLA movie?!?! What the hell?!?!?!

Well Blockbuster Australia said they had a casting agent send them a synopsis of the now-delayed Justice League flick and here's what they had to say, "The film is about Green Lantern, Green Arrow and others of the Justice League of America, an organisation made up of the world's greatest superheroes. They must deal with the expulsion of Batman and the death of Superman at the hands of the monstrous Doomsday".

Really??? Superman dead when they are still trying to figure out that franchise and where it's going? And the expulsion of Batman from the Justice League when we don't see him in the organization in the first place in his own movies? No wonder Christopher Nolan was pissed off.

And that means we are getting a Justice League movie WITHOUT two big heroes? So we get a big screen adventure with...Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and The Flash?

WHEN is that Avengers movie coming out?!?!?! I'm looking a thousand times more forward to that...

Current JLA UGGGGGGH Factor: 10 (out of 10 UGHs).

Craig Armstrong to Score The Incredible Hulk

Upcoming Film Scores reports that Craig Armstrong will score The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth, William Hurt and Tim Blake Nelson. Louis Leterrier directs for a June 13 release.

Armstrong has also composed scores for World Trade Center, Fever Pitch, Ray, Love Actually, Kiss of the Dragon, Moulin Rouge! and The Bone Collector.

Pick SCI FI Wire's Best SF Films

The American Film Institute has come up with a list of 50 SF films that it deems among the best ever; it will pick 10 as the best SF movies of all time for a TV special that will air on CBS in June.

But readers of SCI FI Wire don't have to wait until then to come up with their own list of the best SF movies of all time.

Pick from the list below of your top 10 and send it to SCI FI Wire before March 1 with "Top 10" in the subject line. Editors will post SCI FI Wire's Readers' Choice list of the top 10 that week.

If your favorite movie isn't in the list below, feel free to add it to your choice and SCI FI Wire will run a separate list of the top 10 most underappreciated SF movies of all time.

The AFI defines "science fiction" as a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation. It has selected the following 50 movies as contenders for the best, in alphabetical order (in the case of movies that have been made more than once, we've designated by date which version the AFI has selected):

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Alien, Altered States, The Andromeda Strain, Back to the Future, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, Blade Runner, Children of Men, A Clockwork Orange, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Cocoon, Contact, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Destination Moon, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Escape From New York, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Fantastic Voyage, The Fly (1986), Forbidden Planet, Frankenstein (1931), The Incredible Shrinking Man, Independence Day, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Invisible Man (1933), It Came From Outer Space, Jurassic Park, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, The Matrix, Men in Black, Minority Report, Planet of the Apes (1968), Repo Man, RoboCop, Rollerball (1975), Silent Running, Soylent Green, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Star Wars: Episode IV--A New Hope, Starman, The Stepford Wives (1975), Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Them!, The Thing From Another World, The Time Machine (1960), Total Recall, Tron, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The War of the Worlds (1953), Westworld.

Shields Talks Justice League

Hey, Justice League fans. Warner Bros. has sent us another interview with one of the stars of the fantastic new animated feature Justice League: The New Frontier, and we thought we’d share it with you. This time we hear from Brooke Shields, star of NBC’s new primetime drama Lipstick Jungle, who lends her voice to the role of Carol Ferris in New Frontier. The latest entry in the DC Universe series of PG 13-rated movies arrives on home video on Feb. 26.

Shields says she’s always wanted to play a superhero on screen and go through all the training and preparation involved with a big, physically demanding role. With her athletic stature and strong features, she would no doubt have made a great Wonder Woman at some point. However, her role in Justice League: The New Frontier isn’t exactly super-powered, at least not yet. She provides the voice of Carol Ferris, who gives Hal Jordan his shot at outer space and ends up falling in love with the handsome and cocky test pilot, who becomes Green Lantern in the film. Later on in the DC Comics mythology, Ferris becomes the super villain Star Sapphire.

“There’s nothing silly about animation to me,” Shields states. “I’m always impressed with the artists and the technology. It’s also really nice to be behind the scenes, but still be an actress. The characters themselves precede you, but you’re still right with them, supporting them. There’s a wonderful thing that happens when you have the cans (headphones) on and there’s time and place to sort of infuse these characters.”

Shields’ one regret was not getting to see her character earlier in the production. She and the rest of the all-star cast recorded dialogue in late 2006 and returned for additional dialogue recordings in the latter half of 2007, this time looping their revised dialogue to the finished animation.

“I wish the animation process was done in reverse—it was such a different experience to record to picture versus just recording without the visual reference,” remarks Shields. “I didn’t really know who she was as much without the picture. When we were initially recording it, before the animation, sometimes it felt flat. We worked on modulations, but I was not as clear on her character. I think I needed the picture in my head for it to take on a life unto its own. When we recorded to the animation, that made it much clearer.”

Though she didn’t get to see the physical look of Carol Ferris until nine months into the project, Shields was initially attracted to the character’s strong sensibilities and absolute determination to succeed in what was then a man’s world. She says, “I think the thing that I responded to with Carol as a character is that, if you think about the 1950s, people were not sympathetic towards women in any position other than the very traditional homemaker. There's a strength in Carol. She’s not willing to lose her sexuality by being in a man's world, and she’s determined to be respected for having the same intelligence and ability to stay on course, and be par for the course, with the men that she's surrounded by. I admire her character from that perspective for that period of time, and I would admire her in this day and age.”

As a mother of two, Shields was also attracted to working in the animation genre for the sake of her children. “There’s an added joy to acting when you envision your children watching something and being engaged by it, and having that something be mommy,” she comments. “You’re always trying to be cool in your kids’ eyes, even when they’re young. To me, I have much more of a connection to do that sort of thing.”

Shields is proud of her work on Justice League: The New Frontier, but also acknowledges that she played a small role in the hard work and dedication that went into bringing this film to fruition.

“I always appreciate how seriously this is all taken,” she says. “There’s such a commitment on everyone’s part. It’s not just a cartoon—it’s very real. It’s a very, very dedicated, smart, hard job that these people do. I’m so impressed by it. It’s all these things you don’t get to see that make these films great. It goes way beyond the voice actors. the people that make these animated films are just complete geniuses.”

To view more pictures of Justice League: The New Frontier please click the following link:

Plympton In Spotlight At Aspen Shortsfest

Leading independent animation figure and two-time Oscar nominee Bill Plympton will be the featured special guest for this year's Director Spotlight at the 17th annual Aspen Shortsfest. He will conduct an animation master class demonstrating his creative process and premiere a brand new short titled Hot Dog at the event, which takes place April 2-6 in Apsen, Colorado.

Plympton has directed more than 30 films, including such memorable shorts as How to Kiss, 25 Ways to Quit Smoking and recent Oscar nominee Guide Dog, as well as the features I Married a Strange Person, Mutant Aliens and Hair High. Marked by a signature hand-drawn style and a twisted sense of humor, his cartoons have won top accolades at festivals around the world, including Cannes, Sundance and Annecy.

Before becoming the face of independent animation, Plympton was an illustrator and cartoonist, contributing to such publications as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and The Village Voice. He segued into filmmaking in 1983 when he was asked to animate a short film based on Jules Feiffer's song “Boomtown.” Four years later, his short Your Face was nominated for an Academy Award. For his first full-length feature, 1992’s The Tune, Plympton drew and colored all 30,000 cels himself. He has also directed commercials and music videos, and his shorts frequently appeared on MTV. His latest anmated feature film, Idiots and Angels, is nearing completion.

The Aspen Shortsfest’s Director Spotlight recognizes influential filmmakers who began their careers by making shorts. Past honorees have included Jason Reitman (Juno), Todd Field (Little Children) and Oscar-winning Australian animator Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet). The complete Shortsfest program, including this year's Oscar-qualifying international competition line-up, will be available online March 15th at

"Tekkon Kinkreet" wins at Brussels' Anima festival

The Japanese anime film "Tekkon Kinkreet" won the Audience Award for Best Feature Animation at Brussels' Anima international cartoon festival, which ended Saturday.

Distributed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, the film (also known as Tekkonkinkreet) is based on Black and White, a 1993-94 manga series. Taking place in the fictional city of Takara Machi, Tekkon Kinkreet focuses on streetwise kid Kuro and the childish Shiro.

It defeated fellow nominees Nocturna (Victor Maldonado and Adrian Garcia, Spain), Desmond and the Marsh Monster (Magnus Carlsson, Sweden), Little King Macius (France/Germany/Poland) and El Arca (Juan Pablo Buscarini, Argentina/Italy).

The Tale of How, by South African collective the Blackheart Gang, won the Grand Prize Anima for best short animation. It was cited "for its originality and because it offers its spectators a new graphic perspective within the world of animation."

Other awards:

Best Short Film Award
The Pearce Sisters
Luis Cook (Aardman Animation, United Kingdom)
For its high quality script and direction, and its graphical skill. This short film proves to be funny, sarcastic and touching, all at the same time.

Best Student Short Film Award
La Queue de la souris
Benjamin Renner (La Poudrière, France)
For perfect command of minimal graphics and mastering of animation.

Best Short Children's Film Award
Une Journée ensoleillée (Ein Sonniger Tag)
Gil Alkabetz (Sweet Home Studio, Germany)
For the absence of dialogue and its excellent direction, which contribute to its universal appeal.

Special Mention
Madame Tutli-Putli

Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (National Film Board of Canada)
For having brought the use of puppets in animation to a new level, thanks to a new innovative technique.

International Competition – Music Videos and Commercials

Best Music Video Award
The Horrors, "She's the New Thing" (United Kingdom)
Corin Hardy

Best Advertising Award
Lloyds TSB, "For the Journey" (United Kingdom)
Marc Craste (Studio AKA)

National Competition

Grand Prix of the French Community for a film of the French Community
Le Pont
Vincent Bierrewaerts (La boîte Productions)

SACD Award
Le Voyageur

Johan Pollefoort

Terzo Mondo

Tom Van Gestel (RITS)

ACE Digital Group Award

Arnaud Demuynck (La boîte Productions)

Awards Given by the Public

Audience Award for Best Short Film
La Queue de la souris

Benjamin Renner (France)

Audience Award for Best Short Children's Film
Une Journée ensoleillée (Ein Sonniger Tag)

Gil Alkabetz (Sweet Home Studio, Germany)

Audience Award for Best Children's Feature Animation
Le Petit Roi Macius

Sandor Jesse and Lutz Stützner (Saxonia Media/Home Made Movies/Studio 88/Orange Studio, France/Germany/Poland)

Audience Award for Best Belgian Short
Le Pont

Vincent Bierrewaerts

Awards Given by the Partners

BeTV Prize for Best Feature Film
Toki wo Kakeru Shôjo (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)

Mamoru Hosoda (Kadokawa, Japan)

BeTV Prize
Le Voyageur

Johan Pollefoort

RTBF Prize
Le Pont

Vincent Bierrewaerts

Cinergie Prize
Le Voyageur

Johan Pollefoort

"Johnny Test" nominated for $50K Shaw Rocket Prize

Season 2 of Cookie Jar Entertainment's cartoon series "Johnny Test" is one of three TV shows named Thursday as finalists for this year's Shaw Rocket Prize, which comes with a $50,000 award.

Produced by Pamela Slavin and co-produced with Warner Bros. Animation, Johnny Test chronicles the adventures of a fearless 11-year-old boy, his genetically engineered super dog Dukey and his 13-year-old super genius scientist twin sisters.

When it comes to adventures, Johnny and his super mutt are a team obsessed with pushing the limits -- speed limits, time limits and physical limits. Johnny is the ultimate test pilot where no mission is too insane.

The winner of the Shaw Rocket Prize -- recognizing this year's best Canadian TV programming targeted for children under 13 -- will be decided by a 700-member National Student Jury.

An international jury of industry experts in children's television and media selected the finalists for the Shaw Rocket Prize. Jury members Adina Pitt, vice-president of content acquisitions and co-productions for Cartoon Network and Boomerang; Finn Arnesen, Turner Broadcasting's senior vice-president and general manager for original series and international development; Frank Dietz, Super RTL's head of acquisitions and co-productions; Marc Buhaj, Jetix Europe's senior vice- president of programming; and CBeebies BBC Children's controller Michael Carrington made the announcement at a reception during the Ninth Annual KidScreen Summit in New York City.

Also nominated were Season 3 of Life With Derek (Shaftesbury Films), a live-action comedy about a blended family of three girls and two boys thrown together in the same house when their parents marry, and Roll Play (Sinking Ship Entertainment Inc.), a pre-school series featuring original puppets from the Famous People Players.

"The three selected finalists are programs that engage and truly speak to their audiences. These Canadian programs are world class and easily compete in the tough international environment," said Buhaj.

"Selecting the 2008 finalists was an enjoyable process for me and my fellow jurors. We don't usually have an opportunity to collaborate like this and we found the process both fun and productive."

"The finalists represent exactly what the Shaw Rocket Prize is about -- engaging, entertaining and positive programming for young Canadian children," said Shaw Rocket Fund president Agnes Augustin. "Many thanks to the international jury who have generously donated their time and tremendous knowledge to select Canada's best."

Each year, the winner of Shaw Rocket Prize's $50,000 award is determined by students from the Royal Conservatory of Music's innovative Learning Through The Arts program. Incorporated as part of the classroom curriculum, more than 700 Grade 3, 4 and 5 students from schools across Canada will participate in discussion, evaluation and selection of a winner from Thursday's finalists.

The winner of the 2008 Shaw Rocket Prize will be announced April 30 in Toronto.

"Aristocats" Bows at Number Three on DVD Sales Charts

The Aristocats debuted at number three on the DVD sales charts in its first week of release, trade journal Video Business Online reports.

Family Guy Presents Blue Harvest fell from seventh to eleventh place in its fourth week of release, and The Simpsons Movie slipped from ninth to fifteenth place.

“Justice League: The New Frontier,”: Jeremy Sisto Describes Playing Batman

A year ago, Jeremy Sisto was starring as a private investigator with deep psychological scars in “Kidnapped.” This season, Sisto joined the “Law & Order” legacy of actors as a detective with a haunted past.

It’s seem only natural that his next starring role would be as Batman. Sisto fills the vocal role of the Dark Knight in the highly-anticipated release of “Justice League: The New Frontier,” the second DC Universe original animated PG-13 film presented by Warner Premiere, produced by Warner Bros. Animation and distributed by Warner Home Video.

Based on the landmark DC Comics graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke and produced by animation legend Bruce Timm, "Justice League: The New Frontier" features an all-star voice cast led by Sisto, Kyle MacLachlan (Superman), David Boreanaz (Green Lantern), Neil Patrick Harris (The Flash), Lucy Lawless (Wonder Woman), Kyra Sedgwick (Lois Lane), Brooke Shields (Carol Ferris), Miguel Ferrer (Martian Manhunter) and Phil Morris (King Faraday). The film will be released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on February 26, 2008. The HD DVD edition will be available March 18, 2006.

“I tend to (get cast) as dark characters, and I'm more drawn to those characters anyway – they’re usually more interesting,” Sisto said. “Plus, I got this deep voice from my father, and the combination of the timbre of my voice and my inflections tends to make people feel that there's some darkness there.”

Sisto particularly enjoys the role Batman takes in “Justice League: The New Frontier,” emphasizing that the character arc of the Caped Crusader gave the job added flavor.

“I think Batman is a great character in that he has a lot of internalization, and his heroics come from a dark place,” Sisto said. “You can have fun with that side of him, sort of showing his dislike for people and yet, at the same time, he's all about helping people and doing good for society.

“Batman is a bit of a loner. He’s very intuitive and, while the rest of the Justice League are using their super powers, he uses his detective skills to get to the heart of the matter and, in this case, help save the world. Throughout the course of the story, though, I think he learns that it's not such a bad thing to have friends.”

Sisto has logged guest voiceover credits on “American Dad,” “Duckman” and “The Wild Thornberrys,” but “Justice League: The New Frontier” puts Sisto in his first animated film and his first super hero role. Unable to join the majority of the cast in the initial ensemble record, Sisto created his vocal rendition of Batman while performing alone in a sound booth in New York City. It was appropriate for the character, a super hero that prefers to work solo … in Gotham.

“When you're doing a voice for an animated project, you don't have the props and the different visual things that make it a bit easier for an actor to make a scene real for you,” he said. “So you're stuck in a booth alone and you're kind of forced to use your imagination a little bit more.”

Sisto enjoyed comic books and super heroes during his youth, but he admits he was eventually led astray from the fanboy path.

“When I was a kid, I liked Superman; when I got a little older, I liked Wolverine; and then I found girls,” he said.

Harley Quinn is in the LEGO Batman Game!

MTV has revealed that Harley Quinn will be part of the upcoming LEGO Batman game:

In the "LEGO Batman" video game, Harley Quinn will have the ability to walk a tight rope, perform super jumps and bypass security for all levels with guards in security booths. Harley Quinn appears in the Fairgrounds Villain level as well as one additional level yet to be announced. stay tuned.

Check out screenshots at the link above!

Huston is Stryker in Wolverine

JoBlo has learned that 30 Days of Night star Danny Huston will play William Stryker in 20th Century Fox's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He joins Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine) and Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed/Sabretooth) in the "X-Men" spin-off directed by Gavin Hood and coming to theaters on May 1, 2009.

In X2: X-Men United, Brian Cox played an older version of the William Stryker character.

This film leads up to the events of X-Men and tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe.

New Incredible Hulk Display Pics!

We've got one word for these... "WOW!"

Click HERE for more!

Batman's Other Ride in The Dark Knight

MTV has posted the following:

Batman has the Tumbler when he's donning his cape, but what does he drive when he's out of uniform? Thanks to Mattel, now we know. We got a first look at Bruce Wayne's super Lamborghini filled to the brim with weapons and other crazy features when we dropped by for Toy Fair 2008.

You can watch it in action at the link above. Also, don't miss these pics of the Batpod and new toys.

Clinton, Obama & McCain Who? Here Pryce is President!

Latino Review is reporting that Jonathan Pryce ("Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy) has been cast as President of the United States in Stephen Sommer's live-action G.I. Joe adaptation at Paramount Pictures.

The site says the President has a small but integral part in the film. Pryce is joining an ensemble cast that includes Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Said Taghmaoui, Marlon Wayans, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Arnold Vosloo and Christopher Eccleston.

The studio is targeting an August 7, 2009 release for the action-adventure.

More X-Men Origins: Wolverine Updates!

In addition to the news that Danny Huston is playing William Stryker in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, we received some more interesting bits on Friday.

First up, and this part gets spoilerish, comes news from that we might be seeing The Blob in the film:

We got a note from someone who was on set this week while they shot test footage of an actor in a huge rubber suit for The Blob. The interesting part is that they made the suit to look like The Blob was about 800lbs, but producers want to make him bigger, something like 1200lbs. I did some research (as I am not too familiar with The Blob's history) and I found that he was around 500lbs. originally.

Also, IESB is now saying that the role of Silver Fox has not gone to Maggie Q or Michelle Monaghan. Instead, expect Texan Lynn Collins (filmography) in the role.

We Know Who’s Paying Tribute To Heath Ledger In DR. PARNASSUS Now!

I think it’s beautiful that the script loaned itself to this sort of idea, that we’re going to see Heath Ledger’s work in Terry Gilliam’s new film, and that we’re also going to see three very interesting actors step up to offer interpretations of him as a way of paying one final tribute to this actor whose career was cut so sadly short.

We’ve heard rumors about who might be stepping in, but now we’ve got the names verified. Count on it.


Nice choices, Gilliam. Can’t wait to see what happens inside the IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS, and I’d love to get a look at the script they’re going to use as they start this next stretch of shooting on the film.

MyToons Celebrates Matt Groening's Birthday with Donut Contest & Spiderwick Chronicles is teaming up with IMAX and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to offer two special contests for artists and fans in February.

MyToons, the premier online animation community, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are serving up sweet treats this month by giving away 100 dozen delicious Krispy Kreme Doughnuts to honor Simpsons' creator Matt Groening on his birthday, February 15th! Contest runs through Feb. 18, 2008.

To salute Matt's birthday, artists and cartoon enthusiasts are simply asked to draw or download a doughnut, decorate it, and upload it to Lucky contest winners will receive a dozen Krispy Kreme Doughnuts or Simpsons' T-shirts for sharing their “Homer Simpson” worthy creation with fans across the globe. Check out full details at

And if delectable doughnuts weren't enough, MyToons and IMAX have teamed up to give away 40 IMAX tickets for Nickelodeon and Paramount's new fantasy adventure movie, The Spiderwick Chronicles. For a chance to win, artists and fans are asked to design their own version of a fantastical creature and upload it to It's that easy! Contest runs through Feb. 21. Full details can be found at

“We're all about providing fun opportunities for our super creative community to show their stuff,” said Paul Ford, co-founder and president of “Designing these simple, yet fun contests with prizes from IMAX and Krispy Kreme is just another way of showing how much we appreciate our talented artists.”

Digital Magic‘s River of Promise makes US DVD debut

It‘s US Ahoy for the Chennai based Digital Magic Visual with the River of Promise. The Indian studio has released the 30 minute 3D animated home video movie in a co-production deal with the US based Family Value Properties. The US launch will be followed by a world wide release.

Digital Magic did the storyboards, character and set models, animation, renders, edits and VFX while the scripting, audio voice over and distribution was the responsibility of Family Value.

Speaking to, Digital Magic MD M. Arul Moorthy shared, "We are targeting the kids in the three to seven age group. For promotion and marketing of the movie, we have tied-up with a leading US kids channel and DVD outlets which will make the DVD available at their store."

12 artists took six months to create the film, which revolves around three bear cubs - Truman, Amy, Duncan. The premise of the story is ‘Never break a promise‘. Explains Arul: "Truman, Duncan and Amy decide to go on a voyage where their wise friend Hootie, an owl advices them against traveling beyond Cherry Falls, fearing for rough waters. On the way they meet a cunning Chameleon who misleads and asks them to go beyond Cherry Falls. Which they do, only to run into several problems which make them realize their mistake."

A highlight of the film is the stereoscopic 3D songs (of three minutes each), which viewers can experience by donning a pair of 3D glasses that are available with every DVD copy.

Moorthy shared that the two partners were confident of recouping their investments. A promising beginning should we say!

Drawing Their Own Map: The Latino Animation Industry

Mary Castillo at Animation World Magazine takes a close look at the groundbreaking creators of Latino animated series now appearing on your TV screen.

Surfers Favor "Surf's Up"

Surf's Up didn't make much of a splash with mainstream moviegoers, but the Los Angeles Times notes it is a major hit with surfers themselves, thanks to its air of authenticity. The film's lead wave animator and its editor are both hardcore surfers, and surfers Kelly Slater and Rob Machado were brought in as consultants. And Surfer magazine picked Chicken Joe as "the most intriguing surfer of 2007."

The article goes on to describe the way surfing itself became a major theme in what was originally just a "cartoony" love story between two penguins.

Brad Bird Profiled by Los Angeles Times

Brad Bird is profiled by the Los Angeles Times in the wake of his Annie sweep. The filmmaker's career gets a brief overview, from his student film days through his takeover of the troubled Ratatouille production. The article notes that Bird is currently at work on 1906, a live-action film set in San Francisco during the year of its last great earthquake.

New York Times Watches Oscar-Nominated Shorts So You Don't Have To

Stephen Holden of The New York Times summarizes and describes the 2008 Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short for those who haven't had a chance to see them.

"Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski’s cosmic film noir 'Madame Tutli-Putli' (from Canada) uses stop-motion animation and sculptured figures with heavy chiaroscuro to evoke the title character’s hellish night train journey," he writes. "To stare into the eyes of this lone middle-aged woman, laden with baggage, wearing a prim little hat and putting on a brave face, is to locate the frightened child in everyone."

None of the shorts were made in the United States, he notes, and goes on to observe that "among the animated films nothing resembles a traditional Disney cartoon."

Fred Seibert: Today's Toons "Dull as Dishwater"

Channel Frederator president Fred Seibert decried the current animation landscape as "dull as dishwater" at the KidScreen Summit in New York City, KidScreen reports.

The former president of Hanna-Barbera thinks the time is ripe to attempt to something new, and hopes that his latest venture, Next New Networks, will help spark a renaissance.

Seibert also criticized the "pilot" model of making cartoons. "Pilots get loaded up with all the things that execs think you have to have," he said. "I just want to make a film that's good and works, and see if works again and again."

"Persepolis" Censored But Screened in Tehran

A censored version of Persepolis, which portrays the Iranian revolution and its aftermath in a critical light, received a legal screening in Tehran last week, Variety reports.

A DVD of the film with Farsi subtitles was given in two different locations with the permission of the cultural authorities. Scenes of a sexual nature were cut from the film, however.

Robert DoQui, 74, was Sgt. Reed in "Robocop" films

Robert DoQui, a stage, screen and TV actor whose rough-edged character roles included Sgt. Warren Reed in three Robocop movies, died February 9 in Los Angeles. He was 74.

DoQui's distinctive voice kept him on dozens of TV shows over his 50-year career. Often in the voice cast of Hanna-Barbera's The New Scooby-Doo Movies, he was Pablo Robinson in the episodes The Ghostly Creep From The Deep (1972), The Loch Ness Mess (1972) and The Mystery Of Haunted Island (1973). He was credited as "Robert Do Qui" when voicing Robinson in Hanna-Barbera's The Harlem Globetrotters (1970-71).

DoQui repeated the Robinson characterization in the 1978 series The Go-Go Globetrotters and the 1980 special The Harlem Globetrotters Meet Snow White.

He was also in the voice cast of the short-lived 1985 H-B series The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians.

In the two-part Batman: The Animated Series episode Two-Face (1992), DoQui was the voice of the Doctor.

He shared a Special Award at the Golden Globes and a Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival, both for Best Ensemble Cast in connection with 1993's Short Cuts, directed by Robert Altman. He appeared in two other Altman films: Nashville and Buffalo Bill & The Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson.

He was former slave Ben in Disney's live-action 1976 movie Treasure of the Matecumbe. He portrayed flamboyant pimp King George in Jack Hill's blaxploitation classic Coffy. Other appearances include Fortune Cookie and miniseries How The West Was Won and Centennial.

He portrayed a fanatical religious cult member in Guyana: Crime of the Century, and an short-tempered short-order cook in Miracle Mile.

DoQui guested a wide variety of live-action TV series, including Gunsmoke, Tarzan, I Dream of Jeannie, Happy Days, The Jeffersons, Maude, E.R., NYPD Blue, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (as a Klingon), Picket Fences, Starman, Webster, The Fall Guy, Punky Brewster, Hill Street Blues, The Streets of San Francisco, Sanford and Son, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Mod Squad, The Fugitive, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Outer Limits.

Born in Stillwater, Oklahoma in 1934, DoQui attended Langston University on a music scholarship and was a member of singing group the Langstonaires. He served in the United States Air Force for four years before going to New York, then Hollywood.

In the 1960s, he began acting in films and TV shows.

He also served for a decade on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild, helping it encourage women and minority groups to participate in the media.

Robert DoQui is survived by life partner Mittie Lawrence, four sons, a daughter, his 96-year-old mother and 10 grandchildren.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Crystal Cathedral, 12141 Lewis Street, Garden Grove, California.

"Lucky Luke" tale wins grand prize at Berlin fest

The French cartoon Western "TOUS A L'OUEST, Une aventure de Lucky Luke" ("GO WEST! A Lucky Luke Adventure") won the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix for the best feature film Saturday at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Young members of the "Generation Kplus" international jury praised Olivier Jean-Marie's take on the comic-book hero as "a rollercoaster ride of laughs and adventures, delivered with great wit, genius and humor. A film full of inventive visual gags combined with an intelligent use of music, mixing historical and modern life elements. A celebration of the joy of cinema."

In Tous à l'Ouest: Une Nouvelle Aventure de Lucky Luke, Lucky Luke sets off for New York with the four notorious Dalton outlaws in tow, but they manage to escape and embark on a new wave of bank raids. The Daltons join a convoy of settlers making their way to California, but Lucky Luke has his watchful eye on the quartet.

A special mention went to the short animated film POST!, by Christian Asmussen and Matthias Bruhn of Germany.

In a tiny village at the end of the world, a postman has a completely original approach to his job. He substitutes the mail he is supposed to deliver with letters he himself has written. The villagers love these missives because they make everyone laugh -- from tramp to policeman, from large lady to vicar, even the grumpy publican -- his letters delight them all. But then the regional post office gets wind of the affair…

The jury praised POST! as "a joyful film with inventive visual solutions, crazy anarchistic humor, and a warm message about one man’s ability to make a whole community happy."

A special mention was given Tuesday by members of the International Short Film Jury to the Irish animation RGB XYZ, directed by David O'Reilly.

The 13-minute film was released this year.

According to O'Reilly, RGB XYZ was discovered late last year when a gardener accidentally dug up a hard drive buried "somewhere in central Europe." The hard drive soon found its way to O'Reilly, who distributed the work online.

"What seemed like incomprehensible nonsense was actually a story of loss and adventure," he said. "Five episodes scattered across the corners of the Internet eventually combined to make the most enigmatic piece of animation ever to leave a computer."

Jury members cited RGB XYZ "for a very contemporary gesture in animation in a wonderful nasty sense of humor."

Millions Of American TV Sets Go Dark One Year From Today!!

One year from today, we will switch on our old Watchmans and nothing will come out. No channel 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 or 13 for that machine unless maybe you make some mechanical alterations.

The TV frequencies we all grew up with – they’ve been around since the Great Depression – are going away.

If your non-digital TV at home is hooked and stays hooked to cable or a satellite dish, you probably won’t have any problems.

But if your analog TV gets over-the-air programming via rabbit ears or a roof antenna, you need to hustle out to Radio Shack or Best Buy or Circuit City or Wal-Mart and get a digital tuner. The government is handing out $1.5 billion worth of $40 coupons (up to two coupons per household) to cover part of the cost of these tuners, which run about $60 each.

Thanks to something called the Digital Television and Public Safety Act of 2005, millions of U.S. television sets will stop receiving over-the-air signals on Feb. 17, 2009.

Less than 15 percent of U.S. households relied exclusively on over-the-air broadcasts in 2004.

The U.S. Senate barely passed the measure a little over two years ago. Dick Cheney had to fly in from the Middle East to cast the deciding vote.

Uncle Sam can afford it because the airwaves being taken away from broadcasters (already using different bandwidths for digital TV and HDTV transmissions) are being auctioned off for about $10 billion.

Learn more about the situation here.

CBS News Explains Superdelegates via Animation

The New York Times notes that the CBS Evening News used an animated segment to explain the role of "superdelegates" in nominating party candidates in the United States. The segments were made by Josh Landis and Mitch Butler, whose "Fast Draw" segments explain recent news stories through animation created using whiteboard markers. The segment quickly became one of the most popular video clips on the CBS News website. The video can still be viewed at the CBS website.

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