Thursday, February 21, 2008

News - 02/21/08...

Warners adapting Akira with DiCaprio

Anime classic "Akira" is getting the live-action big screen treatment courtesy of Leonardo DiCaprio and Warner Bros.

Ruairi Robinson has been hired to direct what would ideally be a two-part epic. Gary Whitta is writing the adaptation, which DiCaprio will produce via his Appian Way shingle. Andrew Lazar is also producing via his Mad Chance shingle. Jennifer Davisson, who heads up Appian, will also be involved in some producorial capacity.

"Akira" originated in 1988 as a manga and then as an animated film co-written and directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. The story was set in a neon-lit futuristic post-nuclear war "Neo Tokyo" in 2019 where a teen biker gang member is subjected to a government experiment which unleashes his latent powers. The gang's leader must find a way to stop the ensuing swathe of destruction.

With its mature themes and cutting-edge animation, "Akira" was a milestone movie in anime and even animation circles, and led the way for anime making inroads into Western pop culture in the 1990s.

"Akira" has long been in development at the company, with producers Jon Peters and Basil Iwanyk involved at various times, as well as directors Stephen Norrington and Pitof. The rights lapsed but Warner managed to re-scoop them again for Robinson, who came to the studio with a vision of a two-part adaptation.

The new story moves the action to "New Manhattan," a city rebuilt by Japanese money.

The studio is eyeing a summer 2009 release for the first movie.

Greg Silverman is overseeing for Warners.

Whitta, wrote "The Book of Eli," which the Hughes Brothers are directing for Warners and Silver Pictures.

"Akira" would mark the feature directorial debut for Robinson who was nominated for a best animated short Oscar in 2001 for a sci-fi comedy called "Fifty Percent Grey." He also wrote and directed a sci-fi short titled "The Silent City."

The Hollywood Reporter story doesn't mention DiCaprio doing anything other than producing via Appian Way banner, but I have it on good authority that he is also set to star as the lead, Kaneda, with Joseph Gordon Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun) playing Tetsuo.

PS - If you haven't seen it, check out Robinson's 50% Grey below!

After the Minstrels Left Town

In celebration of Black History Month, Martin Goodman chronicles for Animation World Magazine the rise of positive representations of African-Americans in animated shows.

HD disc war is over — Blu-ray wins

Toshiba, the major hardware backer of the HD DVD format, has announced that they “will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders”. The announcement signals an end to the high-definition optical disc war that has raged between HD DVD and rival Blu-ray for the past couple of years. Atsutoshi Nishida, President and CEO of Toshiba, said, “We carefully assessed the long-term impact of continuing the so-called ‘next-generation format war’ and concluded that a swift decision will best help the market develop”. Universal Studios, one of only two major Hollywood studios that backed the format, quickly announced they will move their releases to the Blu-ray disc format — Paramount (nor DreamWorks) has not yet made any announcement. High-Def Digest has the stories and the press release.

Disney Forms New Game Unit

Disney Online, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group, has created Disney Online Studios, new team focused on building, operating and publishing games, virtual worlds and online social communities. Disney Online veteran Steve Parkis has been promoted to senior VP and will lead the newly formed group. Reporting to Paul Yanover, exec VP and managing director of Disney Online, Parkis will head efforts in publishing content that spans virtual worlds, casual online games, interactive and creative activities, and social communities. The team will publish both internally and externally developed initiatives that utilize existing Disney characters and stories, as well as original intellectual properties.

Talent for the new unit will come from several of Disney Online’s Internet teams, including the creators of the award-winning XD (, an interactive broadband destination that combines games, video and community elements. Disney Online Studios will also include Disney Online’s Virtual Reality Studio, a group that started in Disney’s Imagineering division before moving online to virtual worlds including Disney’s Toontown Online ( and the recently launched Pirates of the Caribbean Online (

Mike Goslin, VP of virtual worlds and one of the lead developers of Toontown and Pirates of the Caribbean Online, will take on an expanded role within Disney Online Studios, guiding the development of online virtual worlds and communities. In addition to tapping its existing talent and resources, Disney will also significantly expand its development, community, operations and publishing teams to take advantage of growing opportunities in the online games and community space.

While expanding Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online, Pirates of the Caribbean Online and Toontown, Disney Online Studios will develop virtual worlds built around the Disney Fairies franchise, which will be launched later this year, and the Pixar animated feature Cars, among others. Disney’s portfolio of Virtual Worlds also includes Club Penguin, which was acquired in August 2007.

Maya Price Cut, Extension

Autodesk Inc. today announced that it has reduced pricing for its Maya Unlimited 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software. In addition, the company unveiled the forthcoming Maya 2008 Extension 2 software, which provides enhanced creative control over polygon modeling and UV texturing, as well as significant improvements to the Maya Muscle toolset.

“The reduced price of Autodesk Maya Unlimited makes its extensive toolset more accessible to new users and existing facilities that want to expand their Maya-based pipelines," explains Marc Petit, senior VP of Autodesk Media & Entertainment. “More artists can now take advantage of the software's professional tools and advanced workflows to meet demands for captivating content created on shorter deadlines and tighter budgets.”

Maya Unlimited contains everything offered in Maya Complete software, plus such innovations as Maya Fluid Effects, Maya nCloth, Maya Hair, Maya Fur and Maya Live. The suggested retail price of a new license has been reduced from $6,995 to $4,995. Pricing for Autodesk Maya Complete remains unchanged, while Maya Network has been reduced from $8,345 to $6,245. Maya Complete 2008 customers can now cross-grade to Maya Unlimited 2008 at the reduced suggested retail price of $2,995.

Autodesk Maya 2008 Extension 2 software is expected to be available for download to Maya Complete 2008 and Maya Unlimited 2008 subscription customers with gold support this March. Key features and enhancements include a superior modeling workflow, faster texturing through streamlined UV workflows, and detailed skin articulation and animation. Maya Muscle enhancements including a new smart collisions toolset, support for three new forces and the ability to displace skin extend the animator’s or technical director's ability to precisely direct muscle and skin behavior. For more information on features offered in Autodesk Maya 2008 Extension 2, go to

Updated: 'Spectacular Spider-Man' To Premiere At Wonder Con

Sony Animation has recently announced that the first episode of the upcoming The Spectacular Spider-Man will premiere in it's entireity at Wonder Con. The convention takes place between February 22nd - 24th. Below is the current synopsis for the episode, entitled "Survival Of The Fittest".

An elder scientist named Adrian Toomes claims that Oscorp stole his flying technology and plans his revenge on Norman Osborn. Otto Octavius also appears

The Spectacular Spider-Man will premiere on Kids WB! on March 8th.

Update: The premiere will be held on February 23, from 3:00 - 4:00, at the Moscone Center South, Room 104, during a a panel with series creators Greg Weisman and Victor Cook. The new voice of Spider-Man, Josh Keaton, and character designer Sean "Cheeks" Galloway will also be on the panel.

It's Around The World For Horrid Henry

Independent producer Novel Entertainment closed an international sales and distribution deal with Little Bird Rights to distribute the popular HORRID HENRY TV animation series around the world (excluding the United Kingdom), the companies announced today.

Commissioned by CITV in the U.K., the 52 x 11 minute 2D series will be available to buyers at MIPTV 2008.

HORRID HENRY is produced by Lucinda Whiteley and Mike Watts at Novel Entertainment, and is now seen as an iconic CITV property and the most successful series for IVT on terrestrial and satellite channels.

Henry and his comic escapades are proving to be a worldwide success, with other recent deals with Disney Channel in France, ZDF Germany, RTE Eire, RUV Iceland, SVT Sweden, NRK Norway and YLE Finland.

Deals are also currently being negotiated for South Africa, Turkey and Portugal.

HORRID HENRY stars a headstrong boy constantly raging against the tyranny of adults, his irritating brother Peter Perfect and infuriating girls like Moody Margaret next door.

Based on the books written by Francesca Simon and illustrated by Tony Ross (published by Orion Children's Books), HORRID HENRY is a worldwide publishing phenomenon.

With sales fast approaching 11 million books in the U.K. alone, Henry is available in 27 countries worldwide and has been translated into 22 languages, where he has assumed many different national identities including Pablo Diablo in Spain and Rico Le Peste in Italy.

Coraline teaser

The first teaser trailer for Henry Selick’s stop-motion Coraline has appeared on Cineplex. Due out in theaters in 3D on February 6th, 2009, Coraline is the dark tale of a girl who enters a parallel reality that appears to resemble a fantasy version of her own life. The film is an adaption of a best-selling novel by author Neil Gaiman, and will be featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Ian McShane.

FUNimation Acquires Horror Anime 'Claymore'

Defying The Beast Within

Announced in the past week for western distribution is the television anime Claymore, a popular fantasy-horror mix whose tale of a young man's encounter with the demonic and the mysterious, set him upon a journey he won't soon forget. Scheduled for distribution courtesy by FUNimation Entertainment, Claymore brings together the heavily touted interests of a strong female warrior and a curiously adventurous but maturing boy, together in a medieval battle to save humanity. Featuring animation production from one of the most widely recognized pen for hire studios in Japan, this action anime has been on the minds of western otaku for quite some time.

All across the countryside and all through the townships, demons ravage the land. Inhuman and unfeeling, they rip apart their human foe without foresight and eagerly if not enthusiastically devour their guts much like the gloomy, pitiless beings that they are. This is the reality of the Claymore anime. Fortunately or unfortunately, for the people of the villages haunted by the youma, their saviors shall be birthed from the blood of their most feared enemies. A Claymore is a half-human half-demon female hunter, trained to seek and destroy the youma who terrify the countryside. But even for the Claymores, such as silver-eyed blonde Claire, the end game is not to save humanity, but mere survival.

Engaged in a gory war with demon-kind, Claire has a past with the human-feasting devils. While the youma have a shape-shifting capacity to mimic the behaviors and intellects of humanity; Claire herself comes to understand that in this cold, brutal crusade of blood and guts, only the consumption and obliteration of human flesh is the pursuant peace. As Claymore continues, the graphically unpredictable and fiercely violent world of the unknown pervades the hearts and minds of the unsuspecting.

An action anime where wielding an gigantic, ancient blade against your demonic foe is the only means of survival, Claymore blends a boy's adventure story and a nightmarish horror of human degradation. A full-length television program directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka, Claymore is a twenty-six episode anime that aired in Japan as recent as last summer. Scheduled for release at an unknown date in the future by FUNimation Entertainment (Suzuka, The Slayers, Hell Girl), this series is a hotly anticipated drama for fans of Japanese animation with a bit of an edge to it.

Claymore features animation production from MADHOUSE Studios, known more recently for their eye-catching work on the supernatural series Death Note, Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent and the infamous Monster. The anime television series Claymore also sports music from Masanori Takumi, whose credits include a variety of titles where drama is paramount; such as the sibling-centered epic Koi Kaze, the sports-driven character drama Suzuka, and the girls' skewed anime Peach Girl.

L.A. Animation Overview

Steve Hulett, over on the daily must-read The Animation Guild blog, lists all the known union projects currently in production in L.A.

Toon Studio Overviews

A brief ... and semi-comprehensive ... look at what's going on at various studios TAG reps -- and a few we don't -- here in the L.A. area (since we haven't done this for awhile):

Adelaide Productions is producing its new run of Spider-Man half-hours.

Car Talk -- Director Tom Sito has wrapped the initial order of Car Talk half-hours for PBS.

Cartoon Network doing episodes of Chowder, Flapjack and a new order of Ben 10. Foxter's Home for Imaginary Friends is nearing the end of its latest season.

Disney Animation Studios has Bolt scheduled for a November 2008 release, and a sizable animation and tech crew as story and character revisions give way to pedal-to-the-metal production. Early animation has commenced on Princess and the Frog as story work goes on, with Rapunzel also in story. (Joe Jump and King of the Elves are two features in early development...)

Disney Television Animation winding down The Replacements, continuing on Phineas and Ferb, Inspector Oso Yin Yang Yoh!. My Friends Tigger and Pooh Mickey Mouse Clubhouse striding on to new seasons (in other words, still going.)

Disney Toons continuing with Tinkerbells 2 & 3

DreamWorks Animation has Shrek IV, Monsters and Aliens, How to Train Your Dragon and Crude Awakenings (Chris Sanders' new project) in various phases of work. Madagascar II and Kung Fu Panda are pretty close to done.

Fox TV Animation, now that the Writers Guild strike is over, will be pushing ahead with new episodes of Family Guy and American Dad.

Imagi Studios is retooling Gatchaman and speeding ahead with Astroboy. (Of late, Imagi has expanded the square footage of its Sherman Oaks studio).

Nickelodeon has nine series in various stages of work.

Sony Pictures Animation is still working on Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Open Season II, and another feature in early development.

Starz Media will be welcoming back crews now on hiatus to complete episodes of The Simpsons now that the WGA is back to work. Two other series, Bufu and Wow Wow Wubsie continue in work. (King of the Hill, though a WGA show, was able to complete its full order of shows.)

Tom T. Animation working on feature The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.

Universal Cartoon Studios doing the third-season order of Curious George.

Warner Bros. Animation working on series Batman Anime (13 episodes) and a direct-to-video Scooby Doo feature.

And a few tidbits about a few L.A. studios not under our wing: Many Things Productions doing the sci-fi feature Terra, Rough Draft Studios doing direct-to-video Futurama(s). Whatever is going on at Rhythm and Hues is beyond the scope of my knowledge.

DUCK Swims with Hoop

LA.-based indie studio DUCK recently wrapped the innovative partially animated music video for rising star Jesca Hoop’s second single “Money.” Directed by Richard Borge and produced by Mark Medernach, the innovative clip uses a wide range of media to animate Hoop’s catchy song. The music video was animated entirely in Adobe AfterEffectts.

The production lasted about two months and included a one-day green-screen shoot. Borge, who also helmed “Can’t Stop” for L.A. band Ozomatli, animated the video by taking the live action footage and layering it with textures to flat hand-made and computer-generated shapes. He used a similar technique for all the objects in the video, which creates a sense of depth, movement, and layering to these flat objects. Incidentally, Hoop’s style of clothing in the video was inspired by another character, made famous in a live-action/animation mélange, Mary Poppins! Before becoming a full-fledged recording artist, Hoop worked as a nanny for whiskey-voiced rock star Tom Waits’ children.

DUCK president and co-founder Roger Chouinard explains, “Over the last few years DUCK has continued to expand the types of content we produce. We are very excited to be involved in the music video business. Richard has directed a visually beautiful video that compliments Jesca’s unique sound.”

You can watch the music video on or

David Boreanaz tests 'The New Frontier' as Green Lantern

The Green Lantern say knock you out!

Any doubts about David Boreanaz's excitement at voicing the role of Green Lantern were quickly put at ease the moment he walked through the doors of Warner Bros. Animation for his first recording session in late 2006.

Boreanaz quickly confessed that his green t-shirt was a subtle sign of his passion for the character. But, he confessed, purposely donning a pair of green socks that day should hammer home his enthusiasm at being cast as one of world's favorite super heroes.

Not everyone in Korea has learned the war is over as Hal Jordan attempts to ward off an attacker with a knife.

"I like to get into my characters - literally," Boreanaz said from behind a wide grin.

The star of the Fox hit series 'Bones' and the former lead in the cult-classic 'Angel,' Boreanaz heads an all-star voice cast as Hal Jordan and his alter ego, the Green Lantern, in 'Justice League: The New Frontier.' The highly-anticipated DC Universe animated original movie is due from Warner Home Video on February 26.

Hal Jordan lights a flare after landing safely in Korea after his plane is shot down.

"Hal's an interesting character - having been part of the Korean War, he's kind of damaged goods, but yet he's striving to get back to being himself," Boreanaz said. "I think Hal's sense of a duality is fascinating - his holding onto his past, overcoming it, and being heroic with it. It's about coming to an understanding of where your strengths are and where your weaknesses may be - and as an actor, to go into his dark place and work from there. I found that very appealing."

Hal Jordan pilots his specially-designed plane into battle with The Centre.

Boreanaz achieved cult status in the Science Fiction world with his role as the vampire Angel, first on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and subsequently in the title role spin-off series. While Boreanaz said he doesn't intentionally stay within the genre, he doesn't avoid it, either. He said he looks for the most interesting roles, and that it's hard not to like the kinds of stories told within the Sci-Fi realm.

"I think everybody, in a sense, can kind of lose themselves in this fantasy - I know I did," Boreanaz said. "Where else can you partake in this level of adventure, in this amazing way of blowing things up in a fair and simple way without ever actually hurting anybody? It's just so enjoyable."

Hal Jordan gives the "thumbs up" signal to Rick Flagg as the pair rocket toward space.

Boreanaz had just one voiceover experience prior to his role in "Justice League: The New Frontier," and that was as a character in the video game "Kingdom Hearts." To that end, Boreanaz admitted that he did not know what to expect in recording for a film.

"The voice director, Andrea (Romano), was unbelievably fantastic in the way she guided me through Hal's course of emotions, and really helped me get to know the character," Boreanaz said. "Once I got my feet underneath him and really got into character, everything fell into place and we just flew through the script. It was a great journey."

The Green space!

The three-time Saturn Award winner said his favorite scenes in "Justice League: The New Frontier" do not deal with the battle between good and evil, but in the divergence between the super heroes themselves.

"The edginess and the conflict between the characters is what makes this a great movie," Boreanaz said. "Super heroes or not, these characters are going to go at each other at times. There's a fusion of a lot of strong, different personalities, and although they all want to achieve the same goal, they might not have the same approach. And Hal knows how to get the job done. So there's good balance and a nice edge to the story."

New York Anime Festival 2008 Dates: September 12-14

The New York Anime Festival has announced that its second annual show will be held on September 12-14, 2008, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, NY. More details on guests, panels, and features are being finalized.

"NIMH" cel painter Phyllis Barnhart dead at 85

Phyllis Barnhart, a painter for several animation studios, died February 6 in Salt Lake City. She was 85.

Barnhart, whose career began at Disney in the 1940s, was a cel painter for Don Bluth Productions' 1982 feature film The Secret Of NIMH.

She also worked for Filmation, DePatie-Freleng, Bandolier Films and Hanna-Barbera. She was born in Levon, Utah on December 16, 1922.

Her husband Dale, who died in 1996, was a background and layout artist who worked on such Disney feature films as One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Phyllis Barnhart is survived by sons Rhio, Roberleigh and Philo, and by daughter Fontini.

Actor Lionel Mark Smith, 62, worked with Mamet

Character actor Lionel Mark Smith, part of David Mamet's stock company for stage and screen productions, died February 13 at his Inglewood, California home, his friend Paula Fins said. He was 62.

Smith appeared in many Mamet plays, as well as seven of his films, including Homicide (1991) and Edmond (2005).

He was the voice of the bus driver in Robin's Reckoning: Part 2, a 1993 episode of Batman: The Animated Series, and the SWAT captain in Shadows, a 2001 episode of Warner Bros.' The Zeta Project.

"He never made anything up, he always told the truth, and every scene and every project was better for his presence," Mamet wrote in a remembrance of Smith sent to the Los Angeles Times.

He appeared in over 45 films and TV shows over three decades, including Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. His last film performance was as a homeless man in the 2007 farce Stuck.

Smith had a measure of controversy when Mamet's play Oleanna, a two-character drama about sexual harassment on a college campus, was scheduled to debut at the Mark Taper Forum in 1994. Mamet insisted on casting Smith as a professor.

Taper officials refused to stage the play, reportedly alleging that Smith -- who was black -- would lend the play a confusing racial angle. Smith alleged that the Taper was behaving in a racist manner. Theater officials denied the charge, saying that there were other considerations for its decision, including unfamiliarity with Smith's work.

Smith appearing opposite Kyra Sedgwick in another production of Oleanna, soon staged at West Hollywood's 99-seat Tiffany Theater. A Los Angeles Times review opined that casting Smith weakened the play's feminist message, but praised the duo's near mastery "of Mamet's rapid-fire exchanges."

As part of the ensemble cast of the 2000 film State and Main, a satire of Hollywood, he won the Florida Film Critics Circle Award, the National Board of Review Award and the Online Film Critics Society Award.

Mamet handed Smith a good line in State and Main. Asked, "What's an associate producer credit?" Smith's character, Bill Smith, replies: "It's what you give your secretary instead of a raise."

One of two children of Charles and Eva Mae Smith, he was born on February 5, 1946 in Chicago. His nickname was Lonnie.

"My father was a heroin dealer and my mother died of alcoholism.... I had to think my way out of the ghetto," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1994.

Smith served in the United States Army in Germany during the Vietnam War.

He met with writer-director Mamet in Chicago theater, like many regular Mamet players. He appeared in the off-Broadway production of Edmond, later directed a revival of the show in Santa Monica, California. Smith was proud of touring with Meshach Taylor in the Athol Fugard play Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, Fins said.

After two production assistants on State and Main heard Smith's stories of acting in Los Angeles, they made a short film starring Smith -- called Larry -- based on his life. It has not yet been released.

Twice divorced, Lionel Mark Smith had no immediate survivors. A memorial service is planned.

Disney Treasures Wave VIII to Include "Chronological Donald Vol. 4" and "Destino"

Walt Disney Home Entertainment has announced the three titles in wave 8 of the Walt Disney Treasures DVD collection, coming on November 11, 2008. The Chronological Donald Vol. 4 will collect 31 classic Donald Duck shorts from 1951 - 1961. Destino contains the famed collaboration between Walt Disney and surrealist painter Salvador Dali, which began in 1946 but was not completed until 2003. This disc will also include a documentary about the Disney/Dali collaboration and other featurettes about incomplete works from the Disney studios and other famed artists and celebrities who wanted to collaborate with Disney.

The third volume will be the non-animated Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow, a live-action TV show that was also released as a theatrical film in England. All sets will be hosted by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin.

Bumblz Media Offers "Bumblz: The Pirate's Treasure" for Free Online

Bumblz Media has issued a press release noting that they are launching their own children's programming network using the Internet and YouTube to promote their Bumblz franchise of pre-school videos. Parents and fans can watch the complete DVD release of Bumblz: The Pirate's Treasure at the Bumblz website before purchasing.

From aintitcool news...

Spike Jonze wants to tell you exactly what that 'WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE' clip was!

Hey folks, Harry here with the end of intrigue regarding that clip that has been going around online. Here is what the man, THE MAN... SPIKE JONZE has to say about it all...

“that was a very early test with the sole purpose of just getting some footage to Ben our vfx (visual effects) supervisor to see if our vfx plan for the faces would work. The clip doesn’t look or feel anything like the movie, the Wild Thing suit is a very early cringy prototype, and the boy is a friend of ours Griffin who we had used in a Yeah Yeah Yeahs video we shot a few weeks before. We love him, but he is not in the actually film...Oh and that is not a wolf suit, its a lamb suit we bought on the internet. Talk to you later...“ - Spike Jonze is John Wraith in Wolverine

20th Century Fox has cast Black Eyed Peas frontman in his first film role as John Wraith in X-Men: Wolverine.

He'll be joining Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Liev Schreiber (Sabretooth), Danny Huston (William Stryker), Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), Taylor Kitsch (Gambit) and Lynn Collins (Silver Fox) in the film opening May 1, 2009.

Wraith is a mutant who has the power to teleport, and is another test subject of the Weapon X program that created Wolverine and other mercenaries.

Gavin Hood is directing the "X-Men" spin-off in New Zealand, Australia and New Orleans. David Benioff wrote the script.

Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter are producing with Jackman and his Seed Productions producing partner John Palermo. Marvel's Kevin Feige executive produces.

J.K. Simmons Talks Spider-Man 4

Sueprhero Hype! received the following note:

Hi There! This is Thiago Borbolla, from Brazilian Our international correspondent, Fábio M. Barreto, who runs the blog S.O.S Hollywood at our site, just spoke with J.K. SIMMONS about JUNO and asked about SPIDER-MAN 4... Here's what he said:

"There's talking and talking, on the character, on the possible movie. I've received several calls. But nothing firm on that. [...] I do expect to be on the fourth movie, though. I hope so. I'm really able to do it and will be great playing that character again."

You can read the full chat (if you know portuguese!) right here.

300 Leads Saturn Nominations

Zack Snyder's 300 led the field of nominees announced Feb. 20 for the 34th annual Saturn Awards, with 10 nominations by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix followed with nine nominations, and Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street got eight nods.

In television, ABC's Lost dominated, with seven nominations. Showtime's Dexter received five nods, and NBC's Heroes scored four.

The organization also announced two special awards to be given this year: Writer/director Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) will receive the coveted George Pal Memorial Award, and author Tim Lucas has been selected to receive a special achievement award for his 2007 book Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark, a critical study of the film work of the director.

The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films is a nonprofit organization devoted to honoring, recognizing and promoting genre entertainment. It was founded in 1972 by film historian Donald A. Reed.

The Saturn Awards show will take place on June 24 in Universal City, Calif. A full list of nominees can be found here.

The Random Spiel: February 20th 2008

- "Watchmen" has wrapped filming and in celebration director Zack Snyder has released a frame from the film showing Rorschach attacking a thug.

- Photos of the "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" toyline revealing some big spoilers, check out the differences between the US and international cuts of the trailer, LEGO has posted a fun online game, and USA Network has bought the TV first broadcast rights for up to $40 million.

- Several clips from the much hated filmmaker Uwe Boll's next effort - "1968: Tunnel Rats" - can be found on YouTube.

- The Weinstein Company has set an April 18th release date for Morgan Spurlock's doco "Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?"

- Now that the film's out, the "Cloverfield" monster is being released in toy form and photos are up at Hasbro.

- An extremely lengthy response is out from actor Robert Englund about playing Freddy again in New Line's "A Nightmare on Elm Street" remake.

- An aerial shot of the set of "Star Trek". Nothing hugely revealing unfortunately, but interesting nonetheless.

- "Evil Dead" stars Bruce Campbell, Ted Raimi and Ellen Sandweiss are re-teaming on the Addams Family-esque horror-comedy "The Horribleness" says ESplatter.

- "Feast," "Saw IV" and "Saw V" screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton will pen The Weinstein Company's "Clive Barker Presents: Hellraiser" scheduled for January 9th 2009.

- The production of Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins has now moved from Budapest to New Mexico.

David Yates Returning for Harry Potter 7?

Children's and young adult author Lois Lowry says on her official Blog that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince director David Yates will be returning to helm the seventh and last film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:

Bad news from The Giver Movie front. David Yates, the director currently working on the next Harry Potter film, was supposed to begin The Giver film next. But he has just decided he wants to do the final Harry Potter first, thereby postponing The Giver by several years. Maybe the opening of this film could be held simultaneously with my celebration-of-life service after I succumb to old age? Or the producers will decide to get a different director. Stand by. But without holding your breath.

It hasn't been officially confirmed by Warner Bros. Pictures, which is planning a 2010 release date for the film.

From aintitcoolnews...

James Cameron update on AVATAR!

Hey folks, Harry here... in the last 4 days I've been sent the art below from multiple sources claiming that it was promo art from Avatar. Well - I decided to run it by Jim to see what he said and to ask how things were coming along on AVATAR. Here's the latest from the man himself...

Good to hear from you.

This art is not from us. I don't know where it comes from. More overactive fan imaginations? It's not bad though.

Things are going well on Avatar, or at least as well as can be expected on such a ridiculously complex project. We've wrapped principal, and most of the live action portion of the movie is already cut. It's starting to look and sound like a movie. I'm ecstatic with the performances and the look. The cast chemistry worked out perfectly.

I'm in New Zealand right now, working on effects, while Steve Quale shoots some second unit. We've worked together a lot (he did the engine room scenes on "Titanic", plus co-directed "Aliens of the Deep" with me) and he's the only guy I trust to shoot stuff for me, especially in 3D. We still have a little performance capture work to do with Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in March, when we get her back from Star Trek (she's Uhura -- but of course you already knew that.) And we have a couple of days with Stephen Lang in April or May, to shoot his character's last scene, which is so technically difficult it will take us until then to figure out how to do it.

You can see how spread out the schedule is -- it's just the nature of this type of CG animation/live action hybrid. Most of my time now is spent editing, because on this type of film you edit every CG scene twice -- once to edit the raw performance capture, before it goes to virtual camera, and then again when you have the virtual camera shots, you do the final edit of the scene. It's very complex and taxing, but the result is amazing. The Weta animators are ON FIRE, and seeing the world and the creatures come to life is what keeps us going. There's a spirit on this film, an esprit de corps amongst the virtual team, that comes from knowing we're doing something absolutely groundbreaking. It's why people still have good morale after working on this thing for two years or more. And we still have more than a year and a half to go. I don't know if this will be a good film, great film, awful film, but I can say with absolute certainty that you will see stuff you've never imagined, and that the process of making this film will generate a lot of interest within the technical side of the biz. When I edit with some of our early stuff, "shot" using our virtual camera system over a year and half ago, it already looks laughably crude. Our process has evolved so much, just within the making of this one movie. Of course the final standard of photoreal animation will be consistent throughout the film, because it all gets rendered in a big frenzy next year.

It's all very exciting to be doing, and that (usually) compensates for the grind of the seven day weeks. Well, no rest for the weary. Gotta get to the cutting room. Back to Pandora.

Jim out

Also from aintitcoolnews...

Did The Wall Street Journal just give us the plot for TOY STORY 3?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here. I'm supposed to be headed Pixar-way Friday morning and my big game plan is to pull the fire alarm and in the confusion sneak into Lasseter's office and soak up the atmosphere for a minute, become a super creative genius and then find as much as I can on TOY STORY 3.

Oops.. I just typed that in a public forum. Well, damn. That plan's out the window now...

Anyway, while I think up something else to get me banned from Emeryville let's talk about what The Wall Street Journal has to say about TOY STORY 3. They open a story about big media companies keeping video games in-house as opposed to selling the rights to game companies with a description of TOY STORY 3.

Here's what they have to say:

In Pixar's coming movie "Toy Story 3," Woody the cowboy and his toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, leaves for college.

Interesting. Sounds like a direct continuation of the themes of abandonment from TOY STORY 3. Although maybe Andy didn't have a say in the matter and his mom just cleaned house and threw them out. Either way Andy's outta the picture.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen are already coming back (I hope we get Rickles and the rest of the gang, too) and co-director of TOY STORY 2 Lee Unkrich has full directing responsibilities on this project.

NBC Cancels Bionic Woman

TV Guide reports that NBC has cancelled "Bionic Woman":

Although NBC isn't talking, I'm told by multiple sources that Bionic staffers were informed late last week that the troubled reboot has indeed been canceled. That means no spring relaunch under new show-runner Jason Cahill — which is too bad. Cahill's a talented guy (see: The Sopranos), and I was anxious to see what he would do with the show. But I guess it wasn't meant to be.

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