Friday, February 22, 2008

News - 02/22/08...

New Iron Man Trailer

Man Fired for Posting 'Dilbert' Comic at Work

'Dilbert' Creator Scott Adams Takes Up Man's Cause and Bases New Plot Around His Plight

An Iowa man fired for posting a "Dilbert" comic strip at work that made fun of bosses is getting the last laugh — with the help of "Dilbert's" creator.

In the fall, Dave Steward posted the comic strip on an office bulletin board at the Catfish Bend Casino in Iowa. In the comic, Dilbert asks, "Why does it seem as if most of the decisions in my workplace are made by drunken lemurs?"

"I wanted to try to boost the morale for the employees," Steward said.

His bosses, however, didn't find the joke so funny. They didn't like the implication that they were the drunken lemurs in this scenario.

Using surveillance video, his bosses identified Steward as the comic culprit and fired him.

Scott Adams, "Dilbert's" creator, got wind of Steward's predicament, and this week Adams launched a plotline for the strip that is very similar to Steward's plight.

In one panel, the boss asks: "Do you think drunken lemurs are like managers?"

"No," the character Wally replies. "Some lemurs can hold their liquor."

In today's strip, the boss says, "Wally, I have to fire you for posting a comic comparing managers to drunken lemurs."

While Adams is clearly defending Steward, he has some advice: "Stick with 'Garfield.' No one ever got fired for loving lasagna."

And Steward, who is still searching for a new job, has this advice for all the bosses out there: "You need to have a sense of humor."

The casino had challenged his claim for unemployment benefits.

Administrative Law Judge Lynette Donner sided with Steward, ruling it was "a good-faith error in judgment," not intentional misbehavior.

"Dilbert" creator Scott Adams said it might have been the first confirmed instance of a worker being fired for posting a "Dilbert" strip in a workplace.

Thoughts, Pics from Brad Bird, John Lasseter & The Nominees Along the Oscar Tour

AWN's Oscar Showcase tour, featuring the Oscar nominees in outstanding short animated film, is in full swing. The Oscar Tour Travelogue is again chronicling their adventure. Hear what John Lasseter had to say, see pics of Brad Bird and Ed Catmull from the visit at Pixar, read about the backstage look of SURF'S UP that the nominees took at Sony, and much, much more. The whole Oscar experience is a rare chance in the spotlight for animated shorts, discover it all in the Oscar Tour Travelogue.


I guess we've gotten to that point. Universal has made a deal with Hasbro to make a ton of their board games into movies. Apparently Hasbro only gives their toy lines to Paramount/Dreamworks (Transformers and GI Joe) and now Universal has a monopoly (zing!) on the board games.

The deal promises at least 4 feature films. It could be anything from CANDY LAND, BATTLESHIP, MAGIC THE GATHERING, MONOPOLY, OUIJA and CLUE... wait... Didn't they already do that one? So, would it be a remake or something more true to the original... umm... source... uh... material? As long as they get Tim Curry back!

And there have been at least two OUIJA horror movies I can remember... Witchboard, anyone?

What the hell... it's Universal's money. And who would have thought adapting a Disneyland ride would have worked out so well?

And, I have to say, CANDY LAND would make one scary kid's horror/adventure movie. Give it to Terry Gilliam!

Wolverine Gets New Company on May 1, 2009 reports that X-Men Origins: Wolverine will no longer face the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced G-Force on May 1, 2009, but instead will have to cope with tween pic The Hannah Montana Movie.

Also, Disney has announced it will release Bruce Willis sci-fi action-thriller Surrogates, based on the graphic novel, on November 20, 2009.

Speed Racer Video Game Trailer Up

Yahoo! has your first look at the trailer for the new game based on the Wachowski brothers' Speed Racer movie, coming to theaters on May 9 and starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon and Matthew Fox.

The game hits stores in May and you can watch the trailer here!

More Iron Man Photos

'Rene' tells us that German distributor Concorde released some more images from Iron Man, which you can find online here, here, here, here and here.

Directed by Jon Favreau, the comic book adaptation hits theaters on May 2.

SPEED RACER Screened This Week, And Aint It Cool News' Spy Was There!

Aint it Cool News

Pirates Director Gets Animated

Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski will direct his first animated feature and team with filmmaker Graham King to produce the project, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The action-adventure film, based on an undisclosed idea developed by Verbinski's Blind Wink Productions and producer John B. Carls, has a projected budget in the $100 million range and a targeted 2010 release. Screenwriter John Logan (Sweeney Todd) is in talks to write the script with future sequels in mind.

"Gore had been talking to John about writing it and was looking for a producing partner," King told the trade paper. "John has worked with me before (on Martin Scorsese's The Aviator) and said, 'Why don't you talk to Graham?'"

King is financing the untitled film's development. Warner Brothers (which has a first-look deal with King) or another studio could come on board the project after the script is completed, he said.

Verbinski is now assembling a team of designers for the project, including visual effects specialist Mark "Crash" McCreery and head of story and storyboard artist James Ward Byrkit, both of whom worked with him on the Pirates films. Co-producer David Shannon will also serve as a conceptual artist on the project. The filmmakers will decide whether to build out their own animation unit or go to an established animation house after they see a finished script.

The Boys To Hit The Big Screen

According to Variety, Columbia Pictures has acquired the rights to indie comicbook "The Boys" and will develop a feature adaptation along with producer Neal H. Moritz and his Sony-based Original Film banner.

Created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the contemporary-set comicbook series follows a CIA squad, known informally as "the boys," whose job is to keep watch on the proliferation of superheroes and, if necessary, intimidate or eliminate them.

Moritz characterized the series as an original take on the superhero genre. "Rather than begin with a romantic idea of superheroes out to save the world, 'The Boys' imagines a world in which superheroes really exist, with all of the flaws that real people have," he said. "The boys are there to make sure that people with superhuman powers don't get out of line."

The comicbook is published by Dynamite Entertainment.

Cartoon Network Kicks Off Chop Socky Chooks

Why did Aardman/Decode’s CG-animated chickens cross the road? To get on Cartoon Network, silly! That’s right, the three Kung Fu-fighting chickens of Chop Socky Chooks will premiere on Cartoon Network in on Friday, March 7 at 9 p.m. after having much success in Canada and Europe.

The new toon follows the adventures of Chuckie Chan, KO Joe and Chick P—known as the mysterious Chop Socky Chooks—who live and work in the vast shopping mall of Wasabi World. The trio dedicates their lives to opposing Wasabi World's owner, Doctor Wasabi, who's set on world domination.

Here’s the back story, courtesy of the Cartoon Network crack p.r. team: Disguised as law-abiding mall dwellers, the philosophical Chuckie Chan, the streetwise KO Joe and the enigmatic Chick P transform into fighting mode at a moment's notice. Raised by Monks, local Dojo owner Chuckie Chan has a very calm, centered, cautious and idealistic attitude for life. KO Joe rents the shop next door to Chuckie's Dojo and runs a small but popular comic book emporium. Joe, orphaned at young age and raised by his grandfather, knows the Wasabi World mall like the back of his hand and has a larger-than-life attitude that is as big as his afro!

Chick P, the most down-to-earth of the three, works as a mall maintenance engineer, which allows her access to the innermost workings of the mall and an unrivaled opportunity to keep tabs on the felonious Doctor Wasabi. Her personal vendetta against Wasabi stems from childhood, when the deranged Doctor bulldozed her home in order to expand his ever growing mega-mall. The Chop Socky Chooks employ a combination of martial arts, espionage and razor-sharp wits to defend the citizens of Wasabi World from Wasabi and his monstrous egomaniacal schemes, be it Bonsai Shrink Rays or deadly Karaoke Zombies.

The series uses a combination of CGI and 2D design. All characters are created in full 3D models, which, in addition to allowing for great range of movement, brings a whole new level of excitement to the action sequences. The setting of Wasabi World is a helter-skelter neon-lit mall which thrusts out of a sea of fog like a re-imagined, futuristic Tokyo-Vegas mall/metropolis. Its many levels, advertising hoardings and surreal details create an exciting, unique and whimsical environment in which to set the Chooks' adventures.

Chop Socky Chooks is created and directed by Sergio Delfino, an Aardman animator who worked on Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit in A Close Shave. The voice cast includes Paterson Joseph, Shelley Longworth, Rob Rackstraw, Paul Kaye and Rupert Degas. Toronto-based C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures also contributed to the animation. For more info, visit

Tyler Perry a.k.a. Madea Talks Toons

Tyler Perry, the man behind such surprise box-office hits as Madea’s Family Reunion and Diary of a Mad Black Woman is getting into the animation business. Helping him bring his unique vision to toon town is Venice, Calif-based Exodus Film Group, which is also in production on the CG-animated feature Igor, slated for a October release this year.

Perry’s yet untitled project will follow his character Madea on her comedic trials and tribulations, and will teach “children about family values, in a way that only Madea could!” “After receiving thousands of letters from parents telling me how much their kids love Madea and realizing that a lot of the plays were not kid friendly,” says Perry, “I wanted to do something more appropriate and this seems to be it. A ‘Madea’ animation looks like the best way.”

Max Howard, Exodus president adds, “We know this opportunity to work with Tyler was highly sought after and we are thrilled he chose to partner with Exodus.”

This is the very first animated project for the successful Madea character. Under the arrangement, Tyler Perry Productions and Exodus will jointly develop and produce the series, with Exodus financing. The idea was first realized 18 months ago by Tyler Perry, William Morris' Charles King, and Exodus' Jerome Williams. Perry is set to create, write and executive produce with Exodus CEO John Eraklis, Howard, and Williams producing.

Exodus has a long-term strategic alliance with The Weinstein Co to jointly develop, produce, finance and distribute a slate of CG-animated movies, including Igor, The Hero of Color City, and Jim Rygiel’s directorial debut, Bunyan & Babe.

Animag Book Signing in Big Apple

Last week, Animation Magazine hosted a party in celebration of our 20th anniversary retrospective art book at New York City’s very cool Animazing Gallery. They were fortunate enough to have several of the book’s talented contributors in attendance at the party. Bill Plympton, John Canemaker, Linda Simensky and Terry Thoren were all kind enough to attend this one-of-a-kind event and sign the book for friends and fans.

Among the scoops they got at the party was that Bill Plympton will be taking his new 2D animated feature Idiots and Angels to the Annecy Film Festival this year (June 9-14) and that Oscar-winning filmmaker John Canemaker is hard at work on an exhaustively researched book about beloved animators Joe Grant and Joe Ranft. The book will be titled Two Guys Named Joe. Judging from their previous efforts, they have a feeling both the movie and the book are going to be fantastic.

By the way, if you happen to be in New York’s SoHo district, you have to stop by and visit Heidi Leigh’s Animazing Gallery (461 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013). Established in 1984, the gallery has a rich collection of limited edition artwork, graphic art and sculptures that will blow you away. You’ll find some remarkable works by Dr. Seuss,Tim Burton, Charles M. Schulz, David Kracov, Tom Everhart and Daniel Merriam to name a few. Animazing is also the exclusive New York distributor of art from the Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., Peanuts, Hanna Barbera and Cartoon Network. For more info, visit www.animazing.doc or call (800) 303-4848. A big animated thank you to Heidi and her wonderful staff who were our gracious hosts that night!

Animation Magazine: 20-Year Collection is a 320-page, hardcover book featuring new essays by Pixar's John Lasseter, Aardman's Peter Lord, indie animation icons Bill Plympton and John Canemaker, Nancy "Bart Simpson' Cartwright, ILM VFX guru John Knoll, film critic/historian Leonard Maltin and others. You’ll also enjoy leafing through full-color images and a gallery of magazine cover art going back to the first issue, printed in 1987. Order your copy today at

Photos from their New York City launch party can be seen here:

Variety To Be Sold

VARIETY parent company Reed Elsevier announced Thursday they will sell Reed Business Information, which includes VARIETY and DAILY VARIETY.

Reed Business Information is the magazine publishing division, and also owns BROADCASTING AND CABLE, MULTICHANNEL NEWS, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY and NEW SCIENTIST.

VARIETY reports chief executive Crispin Davis said the move was aimed at "reducing exposure to advertising markets and cyclicality," enabling the Anglo-Dutch group to focus on its core business of "subscription-based information and workflow solutions."

No talks or timetable has been set up.

RBI had an adjusted operating profit of $233 million in 2007.

China Extends Ban on Foreign-Produced Cartoons

China is banning foreign-produced cartoons from airing between 5:00pm and 9:00pm on its television networks, the Associated Press reports. Under the new regulations, which extend a current ban covering the hours of 5:00pm to 8:00pm, only domestic cartoons approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television will be allowed to air during the time period.

The ban, which is designed to protect the country's domestic cartoon industry, will go into effect on May 1.

France fines Toei Animation $3 million

A French commercial court has ordered toon house Toei Animation (Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock, Voltron, Transformers: the Movie, Dragon Ball, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon)to pay $2.93 million to Paris-based Tokyo Business Consultant SARL in compensation for the loss of its agency biz.

TBC sued Toei because it was dissatisfied with Toei's terms for ending their business partnership. The company originally demanded $50 million, including a two-year consulting fee and penalties.

Toei has not yet decided to appeal the ruling, but has earmarked a reserve for the $2.93 million payment.

Toei signed the original agency deal with TBC in 1998, but in September 2003 asked for a revision in line with the company's then current plans for overseas expansion.

The two sides could not reach an agreement, however. On June 28 of 2004, Toei ended the agency arrangement with TBC and in December of the same year launched its own Paris office, Toei Animation Europe.

In April of 2005 TBC filed suit in a Paris commercial court, claiming that Toei had violated the contractual terms for severing their tie-up and demanded compensation.

Barney, Other HIT Characters Getting Dubailand Park

Barney, Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Pingu will be heading to Dubailand under a deal between producer HIT Entertainment and real-estate developer Tatweer, the companies said today.

HIT will develop a group of family entertainment projects at the tourist destination, including a "Little Big Club" indoor/outdoor area that will present live mini shows and screenings of HIT-produced television shows. The attraction will be designed by theme park designer RMA Ltd.

In addition, the HIT and Dubailand plan to develop themed restaurants and retail outlets for the complex.

German, Dutch Companies Enter "Chloe's Closet"

Germany’s KI.KA and The Netherlands' European Film Partners have signed on as co-producers of Chloe's Closet, Animationxpress reports. The animated fantasy for preschoolers is about a little girl who discovers magical new worlds while playing dress-up.

Aardman Producing Green-Themed Shorts for Animal Planet

Aardman Animations is creating Animals Save the Planet, a series of 20- to 40-second comic shorts in which animals offer tips on eco-friendly living, AWN reports, citing c21 Media. The series will begin airing in March.

"Pink Panther," "Woody Woodpecker" Returning to Teletoon Retro

Woody Woodpecker, the Pink Panther, and the Merrie Melodies crew will join the Teletoon Retro cartoon lineup up beginning March 3, the Canadian broadcaster said today.

The Pink Panther Show will return to Canadian television for the first time in fifteen years to air daily at 5:00pm, 9:30pm, and 1:30am. Woody Woodpecker and Friends will air daily at 11:30am, 7:00pm, and 11:30pm. And The Merrie Melodies Show will bring more Warner Bros. cartoons to the network everyday at 5:30pm, 10:30pm and 3:00am.

Monaghan is Beak in Wolverine

Just Jared reports that former "Lost" star Dominic Monaghan will play Barnell Bohusk (AKA Beak) in 20th Century Fox's X-Men: Wolverine. Here's a description of the character:

Beak was a mutant whose bones were light and hollow. His arms had begun to grow feathers, which when fully formed, may have allowed him to fly. He could at the mean time glide and fly for short distances with great effort. Beak also had enhanced eyesight along with talons on his hands and feet. Even though Beak had bird-like qualities, it was extremely difficult for him to fly.

You can read more about Beak here!

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

Kids will see "U" for the first time in Vancouver

Free animation workshops and the local premiere of the French feature cartoon film U are part of the fun at the week-long Reel 2 Reel International Film Festival for Youth, set to begin Friday, February 22 in Vancouver.

The location is the Vancouver International Film Centre and Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour (at Davie).

Directed by Serge Elissalde and Grégoire Solotareff, U will be screened at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24. In French with English subtitles, this hand-painted movie explores the friendship between a unicorn and a small girl who is the object of her adoptive parents' constant scorn and cruelty.

Mona lives in a ruined castle by the sea. She is a princess but lives a life of misery, mistreated by an odious pair of rats. One day, an adorable little unicorn, U, appears and declares that she is there to help her through life and to assure her happiness. The two become inseparable.

One day, U brings home a charming and funny lizard, Lazare. Scandalized by this intrusion to their home, the rats demand that the newcomer leave. In the surrounding woods, they meet Lazare's family, the Wewes, a family of musicians living in a tree. Here, life couldn't be more different than in the castle, full of pleasure, music and merrymaking.

Mona discovers two new things: the wonder of music and a blossoming attraction to the young guitarist Kulka. However, U suddenly becomes aware of a worrying dilemma. What will happen to her if Mona finds happiness, which is the sole reason for her existence? This coming of age fairytale follows the melancholy Princess Mona as she learns about loyalty, love and how to have fun.

U is presented with the assistance of the Consulate General of France in Vancouver.

Free animation workshops will be presented from 12 noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, February 23 and Sunday, February 24. Families are invited to stop by and play. Experiment with cutouts to produce your own short animations. Recommended for ages 7 and up, it's at the Film Centre Atrium on a drop-in basis.

Madame Tutli-Putli and I Met The Walrus -- both nominated for this year's Oscar for best animated short -- and Ryan Larkin's Street Musique (1972) are among the short subjects to be screened before live-action feature films at this year's festival.

Tickets for the Reel 2 Reel International Film Festival for Youth are $6 for children, $8 for adults. The opening night gala and awards celebration is $8 for children, $12 for adults.

An unlimited pass for a family of four is $65.00. The pass is valid at all regular festival screenings, not including the opening night gala. The Reel 2 Real Family Pass is available to members only.

Purchase tickets online at or at the door (cash only). Group rates are available for 10 or more (great for parties); for more information, phone (604) 224-6162.

Worth Checking Out

Via Ghibli World, the cover of the image alblum for Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo on a Cliff

Patrick Macias interviews Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus) about his new Midnight Meat Train

Matt Alt on the Jumbo Machinder display at the Kennedy Center's Japan: Culture + Hyperculture exhibition.

Screenshots for the new Battle of Sunrise mecha confluence game here and via Gunota here

Via ComiPress The Busiest Mangaka Ever: Shinji Mizushima

Blog@Newsarama talks to Pop Culture Shock Manga Editor Katherine Dacey

Another Spring anime preview

A fun look at the Mach 5

Salon on Oscar animated short nominations

Coraline's teaser trailer

Yay tentacles

More of Shintaro Kago in Vice from Same Hat! Same Hat!

Cubicles at Viz

ADV Films is still on run silent mode, but NewType US posted a goodbye.

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