Friday, March 7, 2008

News - 03/07/08...

Disney Producing New "Lilo and Stitch" for Japanese Market

Walt Disney Co plans to produce a Japanese version of its "Lilo and Stitch" animation program, its Japanese unit said, underscoring efforts to broaden its global reach by catering to Asian tastes.

The U.S. entertainment firm will team up with Japanese animation company Madhouse Ltd to produce a TV version of the animated film for the Disney Channel available on Japanese satellite and cable TV, a Walt Disney Co Japan spokeswoman said.

"Japan is an important market with a huge Disney following, especially because we have a Disney resort here," she said, referring to the complex that includes Tokyo Disneyland.

Disney also plans to team up with Asia's top animation producer, Toei Animation Co Ltd, to make a robot adventure computer graphics cartoon to go on air this year, Toei and Disney said.

Shares of Toei ended 3.2 percent higher at 2,320 yen ($22.36), compared with a 1.9 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei.

While Disney has sought partners in Japan, it does not plan acquisitions at this point, the local unit's spokeswoman said.

Disney Channel Worldwide's entertainment president, Gary Marsh, told Reuters last month that the company aimed to form creative teams around Asia to come up with local content that could then be fed to a global audience.

Disney has already localized some TV series, including one that began in Italy and now has versions running in Britain, the United States and Australia.

The company last month reached a deal worth around $200 million with Indian TV and movie content maker UTV to raise its holding to 32.1 percent.

China Animation: TV Quotas and Cultural Prosperity

According to government officials, the door is open for Chinese animators and comics artists to expand their influence over domestic audiences, but only within the limited if not profligate sanctions imposed on the entertainment sector. The restrictions of foreign animation on China television has had a ripple effect over the past eight years -- an effect that highlights quality and finance issues within the China animation community that lie much deeper.

"Tak," "SpongeBob" and "Pinocchio 3000" Highlight YTV Schedule in April

Yellow and green will color the YTV schedule in April as the channel marks Earth Day and premieres a SpongeBob SquarePants special.

First, though, the channel will premiere the new Nickelodeon series Tak and the Power of Juju on Saturday, April 5, at 10:00am. The series is about a fourteen-year-old boy who discovers he has magical powers but can't fight the temptation to use them to make mischief.

Later in the month, on April, 14, YTV will air SpongeBob SquarePants: Pest of the West in its The Zone bloc.

And YTV will mark Earth Day, April 22, with the green-themed episodes Danny Phantom: Urban Jungle at 4:00pm and Hey Arnold: Save the Tree at 4:30pm.

During the month the channel will also premiere Pinocchio 3000, a sci-fi re-imagining of the classic story, on Saturday, April 12, at 4:00pm. Other cartoon movies airing during the month will include Balto III: Wings of Change on April 5 at 4:00pm; Rugrats in Paris: The Movie on April 19 at 4:00pm; The Ultimate Avengers on April 25 at 8:00pm; Pokémon 4Ever on April 26 at 4:00pm.

New Trek Movie DVDs Mulled?, citing blogs, reported rumors that Paramount may be mulling new DVD releases of the 10 Star Trek movies.

Based on a post on "Troubles With Tribbles" writer David Gerrold's blog, the site reported that Paramount is planning to re-release all 10 Star Trek movies on DVD with a bonus disc of extra material, including interviews with Gerrold and others who performed as extras on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, such as fan Bjo Trimble and Chris Doohan, son of James "Scotty" Doohan.

The site also passed on a report from Digital Bits, citing anonymous sources, that Paramount may be preparing new high-definition transfers and a good digital scrubbing of the movies to prepare them for future Blu-ray release.

HIV-Prevention Animated Shorts Off To Asia

The Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) will now distribute THE THREE AMIGOS, a series of 20 animated Public Service Announcements designed to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS, throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The ABU will distribute the series in multiple languages under its Media Awareness Exchange (MAE) banner to more than 120 broadcasters in 53 countries.

It could potentially reach an audience of more than 3 billion people.

The MAE involves a monthly satellite delivery mechanism of pro-social content to broadcasters across the region.

Global Media AIDS Initiative supports the distribution of the HIV and AIDS-specific content under the MAE.

THE THREE AMIGOS is a series of short comedic sketches, featuring three animated talking condoms. Eighty volunteers in Canada, India and South Africa created the spots, which always end with a voiceover saying, "Use a condom. Stop the spread of AIDS."

The series has been adapted into 41 languages, enabling around 80 percent of the world's population to see the series in its own language.

Already in use in more than 100 countries, the campaign continues to reach across cultural barriers to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS.

THE THREE AMIGOS has been used in countries ranging from liberal democracies to conservative theocracies, from countries in southern Africa where AIDS is rampant, to countries on the threshold of a possible AIDS crisis in Asia and Eastern Europe.

Broadcasters have donated millions of dollars worth of free airtime to broadcast the series, in some cases up to 20 times a day.

Thousands of health clinics, hospitals, non-governmental organizations and universities across the world currently distribute the DVDs free of charge.

The series has received 30 international awards, including the Peabody Award, and hundreds of articles in many languages have been written on its creation and impact.

Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a principal supporter, called the series in an open letter "a powerful communicating tool to encourage people to change their behavior."

Series creators have received hundreds of testimonials from government officials, AIDS educators and ordinary people whose behavior has been influenced by the series.

A detailed FAQ page and PSA's in each language can be seen at

DRAW Exhibit at London Gallery

DRAW, a must-see exhibit featuring original drawings by 300 artists in the animation, tattoo, design, literature, illustration, skateboard, music, and contemporary art worlds will be on exhibit in London at Stolen Space gallery from the 6-23 of March 2008. The show is a tribute to the building-block of visual and graphic arts: the Drawing. Can't get to London--no worries! Check out these great drawings at

BRB Brings Papawa to MIPTV

BRB Internacional is heading to MIPTV in Cannes next month with the animated series Papawa. Introduced at MIPCOM Jr. last October, this latest creation from the producers of Bernard, The Imp and Angus & Cheryl will be presented to prospective broadcasters in 104x7 and 52x13 packages, and is secheduled for delivery this fall. The series has already been sold to Fairmaid in Africa and Horizon Internacional Film in Turkey.

Like Fantasy Island, the series is set in a place where visitors can make their dreams come true. However, the islanders have the uncanny ability to turn any dream into the worst nightmare. Each of the island inhabitants has a special power and emits peculiar Papawian sounds in lieu of spoken language.

Papawa is produced by Catalonian company Screen 21 and Frence’s 2 Minutes, in co-production with Televisió de Catalunya. For more information on the property, go to

AniMadrid Calls for Entries

The call for entries is out for the 9th annual AniMadrid International Festival of the Animated Image. Taking place Sept. 26 through Oct. 3 in the town of Pozuelo de Alarcón, the event will recognize with work of animators in feature films, shorts, television programs and student films. All entries must have been produced after Jan. 1, 2006.

The section dedicated to productions made by animation schools, first introduced last year, has been consolidated with an international competition that is open to all schools that offer animation courses. There is also a national competition for shorts under two minutes in length made by animation schools to promote the festival.

The fest is organized by the Municipal Board of Culture of Pozuelo de Alarcón and the Council of Culture and Tourism for the Community of Madrid. The deadline is June 27 for short films, television programs and school films, and July 28 for feature-length entries. For more information, go to

Ann Arbor Fest Program Set

The 46th Ann Arbor Film Festival, taking place March 25-30, will offer more than 36 film screenings, along with other daily events including live film-based performances and multiple world premieres. Acclaimed independent animator Bill Plympton will be on hand to premiere clips from his latest feature, Idiots and Angels, and will also discuss his career through film clips, drawing demonstrations and anecdotes. Animation will also be spotlighted in a special program titled “All That is Animated.”

This year’s lineup of shorts in competition includes Josh Raskin’s Oscar-nominated animated John Lennon film I Met the Walrus, as well as Micahel Langan’s experimental comedy Doxology and Osbert Parker’s Your’s Truly, which combines animation and footage from film noir classics. Other toon seletions include Crank Balls from Devin Bell, For the Love of God by Joe Tucker, Milk Teeth by Tibor Banoczki, A Painful Glimpse Into My Writing Process by Chel White, Shut Eye Hotel from Bill Plympton and Mermaid by Lisa Barcy.

Some of this year’s most memorable shorts in competition with screen during the Opening Night Gala on Tuesday, March 25. In all, more than 100 films from 20 countries are competing for more than $18,000 in prizes at the fest. For full program details, go to

What word is Bosko using?

Below is an excerpt from a new documentary Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood which aired the other night on TCM. Jerry Beck from Cartoon Brew appears briefly (the clip below is his entire appearence) to point out a line of dialogue from one of his favorite cartoons, Bosko’s Picture Show (1933).

This mystery has been dogging him since he and Will Friedwald first pointed it out in their 1981 Scarecrow Press book, The Warner Brothers Cartoons. To this day he still can’t quite make what word Bosko is using. “The dirty Thug?” “The dirty Fox”? “The dirty F-ck”?

Thou Shalt Not is the best documentary on pre-code Hollywood films I’ve ever seen. It’s available on DVD as bonus feature on Warner Home Video’s Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. 2.

Neil Patrick Harris on Being The Flash

Somewhere between the Emmy Award nominations and the critically-acclaimed stage performances from Broadway to Los Angeles, Neil Patrick Harris still finds room in his busy schedule for his guilty pleasure: comic books and the super heroes within.

Harris is now back on the set of "How I Met Your Mother," but he had time during the industry's recent "vacation" to enjoy the transition from comic book reader to super hero actor as the voice as The Flash in the DC Universe original, animated direct-to-DVD release, "Justice League: The New Frontier." In its first week of release, reviews and sales of the new film from Warner Home Video, Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics have been equally stellar, and Harris has been particularly well received in his key role.

"To voice a super hero is phenomenal," Harris said. "I could've been the sixth-super-hero-on-the-right and I'd have been happy, but Flash actually gets to help save the day, so this is great."

Harris continues to peruse his local comics stores, even taking a moment during a recent interview to voice his dismay when he thought Los Angeles standard Golden Apple Comics had closed – and relief when he discovered the store had simply moved from its location of nearly three decades.

"I like the impressive art designs of comics," Harris said. "I'm not so keen on outer worlds and strange proper nouns, but I like Alex Ross and some of the artists like that, so I find myself at the comics store every three or four months doing some shopping. I have a secret comic that I love, a historical comic called Super Magician Comics that Harry Blackstone actually did. I believe they made 12 or 14 of them. But once you start collecting comics, it's not enough to say 'Oh, I found issue #8' – you have to find issue #8 in mint condition, etc. It's a bad habit."

Harris started his career quickly in film at age 15 and, within a year, was starring as the title character in "Doogie Howser, M.D." He has managed to avoid any strict pattern in his roles, bouncing from sitcom to drama, television to film to stage, live action to voiceover. He's had roles in numerous animation series, including the lead in MTV's incarnation of Spider-Man. Voicing The Flash presents new challenges.

"This medium isn't entirely technical – they hire you because they like the flavor and color you provide to the pallet," Harris said. "Actually I find recording the script is very inflection based, so you have to sort of leave your individuality and ego at the door and do what they tell you to do. You do a great grunt that's supposed to start with an "o" and you say "raaaar" and they say 'yes, but you started with an "r" so do it this way.' It's very interesting because you have to be very specific to whatever the script calls for.

"When you're acting on stage or film, it's your interpretation of the notes that are given to you, so they can get as specific as they want in the direction, but if they get too specific then you feel like you're not even acting. But in animation, we record the voices much earlier then they animate the characters, so they have to be very specific in their direction – and then when you come back for pick-ups, they've already animated the characters and there's no room for interpretation. You do a two-second ugh or a four-second ugh, depending on how the character has already been animated."

Still, voicing a character for an animated film offers Harris a measure of enjoyment he isn't afforded in live-action roles.

"For me, the most exciting part of being a voice in an animated character in anything is that the lag time is so long that by the time you see it, you're an audience member like everybody else," Harris explained. "When I finally get to see the animation, I barely remember what the lines were – which is great because not only do I get to be in it, but I get the fan perspective on it, too. "

Animation isn't the only voiceover gig for Harris. He's also very popular on the books-on-tape casting circuit.

"Voicing Flash was fun – animation is fun – but books on tape are hard," he said. "It's just you in a booth with a manuscript, and you have to be technically perfect. You can't pop a "p," you have to have every word spot-on, and after about 45 pages your eyes are just crossing. You have to come up with characters and have everyone stay interested. Some of them take 30-40 hours or recording, and there's not a lot of visual stimulation in those experiences."

Harris has spent his time dabbling in science fiction, guest starring in TV series like "Quantum Leap" and "The Outer Limits" as well as his best-known role in the genre as Colonel Carl Jenkins in "Starship Troopers." For his part, he knows his roles in the science fiction world might be limited by his physique, but he still enjoys a good Sci-Fi film – whether he's acting in it or just watching.

"I'm the agile, young, exuberant guy – I can't ever expect to play Batman," he said. "Batman has that dark, gravelly voice. (Jeremy) Sisto is a great Batman voice. I guess I could be the Robin to Sisto's Batman. Someday I think I'd like to play some really iconic science fiction guy – you know, like (David) Boreanaz does. That'd be cool."

How Does Crispin Freeman Prep for Playing Electro in "Spider-Man"?

Crispin Freeman steps away from his luminary status in the world of anime and video game voiceovers to assume the animated role of Electro, a featured member of the rogues gallery of recurring villains in "The Spectacular Spider-Man."

An all-new animated television series, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" premieres Saturday, March 8 with back-to-back episodes airing at 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on Kids' WB! on The CW. Electro is the spotlight villain in the 10:30 a.m. episode entitled "Interactions."

To say the least, Freeman loves his job – and he's particularly enjoying his latest run within "The Spectacular Spider-Man."

"It's a lark to do animated voices for super hero shows because you basically get to be a Greek god," Freeman said. "You're running around with your name on your chest. It's fun, it's inspiring, it's enabling. It's just a trip to be the voice of cartoons that I used to watch."

In "Interactions", Peter Parker and Spider-Man both try to make connections. Nerdy Pete attempts to tutor the popular Liz Allan, while Spidey reaches out to stop a new menace: Electro. Alanna Ubach ("Legally Blonde," "Waiting") provides the voice of Liz Allan. Actor/musician Josh Keaton is Spider-Man/Peter Parker. Troy Adomitis directed the script by Kevin Hopps.

Freeman has spent some time delving into the psyche of his character in order to establish a better foundation from which to work.

"What's different about the voice of Electro is that I try to incorporate the psychological effect of his electrical powers on his sanity," Freeman said. "It never occurred to me before how that would have an effect on his character – to be dealing with that curse and blessing. And when you think about it, that's also Peter Parker's core issue."

And are there any other tricks to creating the voice of Electro?

"Well, when in doubt, I stick my finger in a socket," Freeman said with a laugh.

"The Spectacular Spider-Man" picks up the original web-slinger's mythology at the beginning of his hero's journey as a not-so-typical 16-year-old. Peter Parker must conceal his secret identity and confront the multi-leveled pressures of teenage life at home and school, while combating more menacing super villains than ever before. Based on Marvel Entertainment's popular super hero, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" is produced by Culver Entertainment, a Sony Pictures Television Company.

The premiere episode of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" is entitled "Survival of the Fittest" (10:00 a.m. ET/PT). In the episode, summer is over for Peter Parker and school's ready to start -- both literally (it's his junior year of high school), and in the real world of crime-fighting -- as Spider-Man faces his first real challenge (The Enforcers) and his first real super-villain (Vulture). Victor Cook directed the script, which was written by Greg Weisman.

Two-Face confirmed for DARK KNIGHT (by Harvey Dent himself)!

In case there was any doubt, Aaron Eckhart confirms that you will not only see Harvey Dent as Two-Face in THE DARK KNIGHT, but that his arc will continue into the next BATMAN film. He also has some carefully chosen words about how they're bringing Two-Face to life...

Does Harvey get scarred in this movie or will we have to wait until the next one to see that?

Harvey Dent turns into Harvey Two-Face in this movie. So that answers your question better. [Laughs]

Have you filmed a lot of scenes in makeup?

I have done scenes as Harvey Two-Face. It’s interesting. I won’t tell you exactly what we’re going for, but I think that I can say that it will use all of today’s technology to create this character. He’s going to be interesting, and I think that’s what makes this character important in the movie—you get to see him as he was before, as in the comic books. Harvey is a very good guy in the comic books. He’s judicious. He cares. He’s passionate about what he loves and then he turns into this character. So you will see that in this film.

You can read the rest of the short interview up at

New Iron Man Poster Online!

A new poster for Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios' Iron Man has been revealed. Directed by Jon Favreau, the May 2 release stars Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges.

Based upon Marvel's iconic superhero, Iron Man tells the story of Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist and genius inventor who is kidnapped and forced to build a devastating weapon. Instead, using his intelligence and ingenuity, Tony builds a high-tech suit of armor and escapes captivity. Upon his return to America, Tony must come to terms with his past. When he uncovers a nefarious plot with global implications, he dons his powerful armor and vows to protect the world as Iron Man.

Eriko Tamura on Heroes

Japanese actress Eriko Tamura, who played the 16th-century love interest of Hiro (Masi Oka) in NBC's Heroes last season, offered SCI FI Wire a few spoilers about what's next for her character as the show readies itself for a third season.

Tamura said that her character, Taeko, was supposed to be transported to the present in episodes that were scripted but not finished before the writers' strike commenced last fall.

"I actually had a few episodes' script[s] then," Tamura said in an interview, adding: "Suddenly the strike happened, and we had to stop."

Tamura added that she expects to return to the show for the upcoming third season. 

"We are not ... to that point where they think about the storylines yet," Tamura said.

Taeko appeared last season in episodes in which Hiro, transported to medieval Japan, falls in love with her as he pursues a mission to save Japan.

We won't see any new episodes until the fall - they don't start filming again until May.

Fresno hopes to see Who's enamored of Dr. Seuss

The home of the Fresno Grizzlies will welcome "Whos" of all ages Saturday as Mayor Alan Autry and the City of Fresno attempt to earn a special hometown screening of the upcoming animated feature Horton Hears A Who.

Fresnans are encouraged to come to Chukchansi Park at 2 p.m. to help Fresno's bid to be heard above other competing cities around the United States.

20th Century Fox and USA Today have challenged communities across the U.S. to raise their voices in one designated area and proclaim, "We are here!", just as Who-Ville's Who's do in the film's climax. At the appointed time, all Fresnans gathered at Chukchansi Park, led by Autry, will yell this tagline while special sound meters measure decibel levels.

The loudest city will be announced in next Wednesday's issue of USA Today and win a special screening of Horton Hears a Who on Thursday, March 13 with a cast member from the movie.

"Chukchansi Park belongs to the City of Fresno, and we're looking forward to hosting this show of community spirit," said Grizzlies executive vice-president Andrew Stuebner. "The park was originally intended not just for sporting events, but to be a gathering place for the community, and this is just another example of Chukchansi Park being the most versatile venue in the Central Valley."

Participants are asked to arrive at Chukchansi Park by 2 p.m. and enter through Gate 2 on H Street. The Horton Hears You Hometown Challenge is being presented with the help of the Mayor's Office and Peak Broadcasting.

Toei Animation shares rise on news of Disney deal

News of a TV co-production agreement between the Toei Animation Company and the Walt Disney Company caused shares of the Japanese studio to rise the most in three weeks in Tokyo trading Thursday.

Shares went up 70 yen (3.2%) to close at 2,280 yen on the Jasdaq Securities Exchange. This was the biggest increase since Valentine's Day. Earlier on Thursday, the stock gained as much as 13%.

So far this year, shares in Tokyo-based Toei Animation have dropped 6.2%, compared with a 13% decrease in the national Topix index.

"We have been discussing projects with Toei Animation since August 2006, when we signed an agreement on co-production of animated features," Disney spokesman Akiyuki Tezuka said. The first work will be broadcast on Disney's cable channel, and the two companies said that they have decided to own copyrights jointly, Tezuka added.

With animation and movie channels in over 100 countries, Walt Disney started its TV channel in Japan in 2003.

Working alongside the Mouse House will aid Toei Animation with regard to business expansion and competitiveness, according to Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager at Daiwa Securities SMBC Co. in Tokyo.

"Co-production with Disney will help stabilize the business performance of Toei Animation, which has fluctuated depending on whether the company has a hit film," Takahashi said.

Big Pic of William Hurt as General Ross has posted this new photo of William Hurt as General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross in The Incredible Hulk, opening June 13. You can get a super-sized version by clicking the pic below!

Whew!! The LAND OF THE LOST Movie Has Finally Found Its Chaka!!

The Will Ferrell LAND OF THE LOST movie has thrown SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE's Jorma Taccone into the mix as Chaka. Taccone recently appeared in HOT ROD.
This news per JoBlo.

You can find footage of Chaka from the original LAND OF THE LOST television series HERE. "Embedding disabled by request" says this particular clip; who are they to contain Chaka greatness?

I really, really want to see what a Sleestack looks like in the new movie. I couldn't find a YouTube video of one of them.

New Spider-Man Images

From Marvel Animation comes 3 new images from "The Spectacular Spider-Man" plus an mp3 of the opening theme, which can be heard here.

"The Spectacular Spider-Man" premieres Saturday, March 8 with back-to-back episodes airing at 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on Kids' WB! on The CW. 

Thursday, March 6, 2008

News - 03/06/08...

Interview with Lisa Davis

UltimateDisney has an exclusive interview with Lisa Davis, the voice and reference model for human lead Anita Radcliff in Disney’s classic 101 Dalmatians. As a child, Lisa was discovered and brought from England to America by Walt Disney to play the title role of Alice in Wonderland but after Walt decided to animate the entire film including the main character Alice, Lisa lost the part and was sent back to England. Years later, Walt called on Davis to join the animated classic 101 Dalmatians as the voice and live-action reference model for Anita Radcliff. With 101 Dalmatians returning to DVD in a two-disc Platinum Edition, Davis talks about her most beloved film role and her memories of Walt Disney.

Manga Creator Hee Jung Park To Have Busy 2008

TOKYOPOP announced Tuesday a multi-book publishing deal with Korea's hottest female manga creator, Hee Jung Park.


The company will premiere each of these new series on as well as on its MySpace profile (

The free previews are part of a year-long effort -- which will also include contests and giveaways, convention promotions, and online features -- to promote the luscious artwork and sophisticated storytelling of Park.

FEVER will be released in March. It's about high school student Hyung-in, who has not been the same since her friend committed suicide. Fed up with her prestigious school and the expectations of her family, she just wants out. When she meets an orphan and a strange country-boy on the bus, she begins an unexpected journey into the unknown, at a mysterious place called FEVER.

HOTEL AFRICA is slated for an April release. Alone, in the middle of the Utah desert, lies the Hotel Africa, where anything is possible. A world of joy, heartache, and friendship has traveled through its doors. Follow along with Elvis, our narrator, as he brings the history of this desolate hotel to life, weaving tales of his widowed mother, an unlikely pair of vagabonds, and a strange hotel guest.

July brings MARTIN AND JOHN, three different stories about three different men named Martin and three different men named John. Confused? So are they. Love, relationships and especially their feelings elude them. This collection of stories take place in different places, in different times -- and are all about a man named Martin and a man named John, and the struggle for love between them.

TOO LONG is set for August. A girl who seems to attract suicide victims, a shy record store customer in love with a female employee, the star of a band who's in love with an average girl are just a few of the characters encountered in this collection of poignant short stories.

TOKYOPOP is a leader in the youth-oriented entertainment brand and innovator of manga creation, across multiple platforms.

Nicholson Would Have Talked Joker with Ledger

MTV interviewed original big screen Joker Jack Nicholson, who talked about sleeping pills and meeting up with the late Heath Ledger about playing the villain in The Dark Knight:

MTV: When we spoke last, we talked about Batman, but it was before this tragedy with Heath Ledger.

Nicholson: That was horrible. I had an Ambien experience. I don't react well to sleeping pills. Someone said, "Try this, there's no hangover." And I got an emergency call in the middle of the night and had forgotten I'd taken one. I fell asleep at the wheel about a hundred yards from my house. A couple blocks in either direction and I'd have been in a really bad accident. When the news first came out and I heard [sleeping pills were involved] — I've tried to warn people.

MTV: Is there a lesson to be learned from what happened?

Nicholson: One of the things I'd know doctors would like is good feedback in their direction. If you do take a pill, have the presence of mind to check yourself out and see how it's actually acting so you can give feedback to the medical person.

MTV: How long ago was your incident?

Nicholson: That's got to be three or four years [ago]. I didn't know Mr. Ledger, but the town is very sad on his behalf.

MTV: You'd never met him?

Nicholson: No, I'd never met him. I would have tried to have a fun talk with him about the Joker.

Visit the link above for the full interview.

Hurt on Hulk's Thunderbolt Ross

The Calgary Herald has posted a new interview with William Hurt talking about playing General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross in The Incredible Hulk. Here's a clip:

"He wants Hulk's power, but is humiliated by Hulk's conscience: he actually sees and recognizes that it's more developed than his own, even though he's a patriot and a warrior for his country. He's sacrificed enormously for that purpose, but at the expense at times of his humanity -- which he occasionally recovers."

Check out the full interview at the link above!

HIT Shows Head to iTunes

Starting in April, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, and other titles from HIT Entertainment will be available for purchase through the iTunes Store in the UK, World Screen reports. Half-hour episodes will cost £1.89 will be viewable on a Mac, PC, video-enabled iPod, iPhone or Apple TV.

IFC Has "Fear(s) of the Dark"

Fear(s) of the Dark, a French animated anthology, has been picked up for North American distribution by IFC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The black-and-white film collects six cartoonists' stylized interpretations of nightmares. No release date has been announced.

Allison Janney in "The Pitts"

After turning in supporting roles in the hit films Hairspray and Juno, former West Wing star Allison Janney has joined the voice cast of the upcoming FOX animated series The Pitts. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Emmy-winning actress will play the role of Liz Pitt, matriarch of the unluckiest family in the world, in this cartoon reincarnation of a short-lived, live-action FOX series that appeared and quickly disappeared in 2003. Both shows are created by Simpsons producer Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully.

Janney replaces veteran TV bit player Kellie Waymire, who originated the role of Liz Pitt in the live-action show. Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 3) and Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield) are reportedly on board to reprise the roles of dad Bob Pitt and daughter Faith Pitt. Andy Milonakis, star of MTV2’s the Andy Milonakis Show, will take over the role of son Petey Pitt.

After a table read next week, The Pitts may go straight to series and sidestep the pilot process. Produced by 20 Century Fox TV, the project is one of several new animated shows FOX is trying out. In addition to the recently announced Family Guy spin off centering on the Cleveland Brown character, the network is toying with Relative Insanity from exec producer Jack Black, and Mothballs from Drawn Together creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser.

Relative Insanity follows the exploits of a twenty-something guy whose efforts to get his life on track are constantly being derailed by his crazy family. The show is being is written by Justin Roiland, who also serves as exec producer, along with Black's Electric Dynamite producing partner Ben Cooley.

Mothballs centers on a dysfunctional family living in the nursing home they own and operate. Comedy ensues when the family’s estranged grandfather is put into the tightly run facility and tries to buck the system at every turn.

FUNimation Channel Adds Seven Series

Seven new animated series will join the FUNimation Channel in March, the channel announced yesterday.

Debuting series include Moonphase (weekdays at 7:30am, 10:30am, 3:30pm); Peach Girl (weekdays at 8:30am, 11:30am, 4:30pm, 7:30pm); Suzuka (weekdays at 9:30am, 12:30pm, 5:30pm, 8:30pm); Black Cat (weekdays at 2:30pm, 9:30pm, 2:00am); Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wards (weekdays at 3:00pm, 9:00pm); Record of Lodoss War (Saturdays at 11:00am and 6:30pm; Sundays at 11:00am and 9:00pm); and Ninja Nonsense: The Legend of Shinobu.

Moonphase, Peach Girl, Suzuka, Black Cat, and Shingu premiered on March 3. Record of Lodoss War will premiere on March 8. Ninja Nonsense will premiere on Sunday, March 9, at 4:00am.

Banned "Boondocks" Eps Detour to Teletoon

Cartoon Network said “no way,” but TELETOON says “Bring ’em on.” The Canadian broadcaster has announced that it will air two controversial episodes of Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks, which were pulled from the Adult Swim schedule earlier this year due to edgy content. TELETOON will present the installments during its late-night block, The Detour, which airs The Boondocks and other Adult Swim shows, as well as original animated content.

By dropping “The Huey Freeman Hunger Strike” and “The Ruckus Reality Show,” Adult Swim reduced the long-delayed second season of Boondocks to 13 episodes. In the latter, an African American character named Uncle Ruckus gets his own reality show and uses it as a platform for spouting racist views of his own people. An episode that did make the cut, however, is “The N-Word,” in which the notorious racial slur is thrown out repeatedly and seemingly in the face of crusader Al Sharpton and others who have protested the show for its use of word.

The Boondocks is based on McGruder’s award-winning comic strip of the same name, which he chose to give up in order to focus on the animated incarnation. The Detour on TELETOON started airing episodes from the second season last November and will broadcast the two final episodes on Sunday March 16 and March 23 at 10:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

The Incredible Hulk Trailer Update

A couple of weeks ago,
Marvel announced that you'll be seeing the first trailer for The Incredible Hulk in early March, and we guessed that it might hit theaters with 10,000 BC this weekend and then with the Universal (the studio releasing "Hulk" in theaters) pic Doomsday on March 14.

We've now heard a bit more, and it looks like instead of releasing it this weekend, Universal wants to debut the trailer at ShoWest in Las Vegas next week (we'll be in attendance). Universal will be doing their presentation on Thursday morning (March 13) at 11am, so we assume it will be shown at that time.

We'll have to wait and see when it will come online!

The Visible Body Available For Free

Argosy Publishing, an award-winning interactive, visual content developer, today officially launched The Visible Body (, the first free, Web-based 3D interactive model of the human body.

Initially developed for educators, and health and medical professionals, The Visible Body is a next-generation, professional-grade platform that demonstrates how the human body works.

It will also be of interest to individuals with a deep appreciation for the human anatomy and science.

The Visible Body allows all users to visualize the human body and quickly and easily explore areas of interest to see how more than 1,700 anatomical structures -- including major organs and systems -- work together.

"It can be very hard to explain a specific injury or pathology to a patient or student using the illustrations and descriptions available in the medical text books," said Edward G. Buckley, MD, professor of ophthalmology and pediatrics and interim vice dean for medical education at Duke University Medical School. "The unique 3D approach used by The Visible Body gives physicians and educators the ability to visually demonstrate and explain how the body works to their patients or students in a way that is easily understandable."

Developed by a team with decades of experience in medical illustration and biomedical visualization, The Visible Body consists of highly detailed, anatomically accurate, 3D models of all human body systems.

The clean and simple interface allows physicians, health and medical professionals and educators to: explore different anatomical structures to enhance clarity and to better understand interdependencies between different body parts by adding or removing adjacent structures and isolating specific structures of the body; share a perspective with colleagues, students or patients; explain an injury; examine the location and detail of a specific body part or organ in a 3D, 360-degree view; rotate the body model in any direction, zoom in and out of it and move through it with a few mouse clicks.

The Visible Body has quickly become a popular destination for thousands of students and medical professionals. Since an initial trial release period, more than 150,000 users worldwide have registered for The Visible Body.

In addition, The Visible Body continues to experience high traffic volumes, including more than three million page views per month, with a significant number of repeat visitors.

The Visible Body is currently a free site. The Visible Body's medical visualization and search capabilities provide a platform for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device and other healthcare firms -- through content appropriate advertisements -- to market their services to health educators and their students, as well as medical professionals and their patients, who are exploring the human anatomy and physiology.

"Our next steps are to expand The Visible Body by adding different human models, medical pathology and therapy information, so that consumers can get a deeper understanding of their conditions and available treatments," added Bowditch.

The Visible Body is free and accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. It can be easily downloaded using Internet Explorer with Macromedia Flash and Anark Client plug-ins. Both plug-ins are automatically downloaded and installed.

The Visible Body is currently available in English. Additional language support is expected later this year.

Russia Bans Tree Friends, Big Jeff

The Russian government pressured Moscow-based adult animation channel 2X2 to yank the American-made animated series Happy Tree Friends and The Adventures of Big Jeff from its lineup, according to Daily Variety. Though they’re aimed at adult audiences and aired when kids were typically not watching TV, the cartoons from San Francisco-based Mondo Media were reportedly found to be too violent by government watchdog group Rossvyazokhrankulutra.

Roman Sarkisov, general director of 2X2, told Variety that the short-form programs were close to reaching the end of their licenses, and that viewers had already seen them numerous times. The network pulled the shows without putting up a fight, but made a point to note that most of the crime dramas airing in Russia are far worse than the cartoons.

As a subtle act of defiance, 2X2 will replace the shows with the most childish cartoons they can dig up. The station, owned by Vladimir Potanin’s ProfMedia, also plans to appeal the decision once it has an expert report on the content deemed objectionable.

First Look at Watchmen Characters!!

Watchmen director Zack Snyder has revealed on the official website a first look at five characters from the highly-anticipated movie, which is now exactly one year away from being released on March 6, 2009. Here are Jeffrey Dean Morgan as The Comedian, Patrick Wilson as Nite Owl, Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, and Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre!

Robert Englund is Vulture on 'Spectactular Spider-Man'

Robert Englund expands his legacy of creating engaging, iconic characters within the fanboy realm ("Freddy Kruger" in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies) as the voice of Vulture, Spider-Man’s initial super foe in the premiere episode of “The Spectacular Spider-Man.”

An all-new animated television series, “The Spectacular Spider-Man” debuts Saturday, March 8 with back-to-back episodes airing at 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (ET/PT) on Kids’ WB! on The CW.

In the premiere episode, "Survival of the Fittest,” summer is over for Peter Parker and school's ready to start -- both literally (it's his junior year of high school), and in the real world of crime-fighting -- as Spider-Man faces his first real challenge (The Enforcers) and his first real super-villain (Vulture). Victor Cook directed the script, which was written by Greg Weisman. Based on Marvel Entertainment’s popular super hero, “The Spectacular Spider-Man” is produced by Culver Entertainment, a Sony Pictures Television Company.

Englund said the voice for Vulture came organically from looking at the early designs of the character prior to the cast’s first recording session.

“They gave us test drawings when we first came to record, and I used that for my inspiration, my basis for the choice of Vulture’s voice,” Englund said. “I sort of screech – he is a large bird, after all. Mostly I’ve been doing a lot of screaming as Vulture because, as fans know, he flies – and most of the time I’m chasing Spider-Man across the sky.”

After establishing the baseline voice of his character, Englund has worked with “The Spectacular Spider-Man” voice director Jamie Thomason and producer Greg Weisman to further craft Vulture’s personality and particular vocal inflections.

“So far I’ve been conversational, and we’ve spent some time finding Vulture’s sense of humor,” Englund said. “He’s older and a little frustrated, because he feels he’s just as good as the other villains. He actually has a bit of pomposity about him -- so he can be a smart-ass at times with a one-liner here and there. It’s really coming out more as the season progresses – I’ve only just begun to explore that. I think ultimately I’d like to put in a little bit of Clifton Webb -- there’s a bit of his kind of wit.”

Unlike many animated television series today, “The Spectacular Spider-Man” records most episodes in a single day with massive ensemble sessions – often times split into a morning and afternoon segment. The result is a room of 10-14 actors recording together, a scenario that Englund finds especially appealing.

“Jamie is a great voice director – he’s very funny, and he keeps it all nice and loose, which is important because there’s usually a lot of us around,” Englund said. “This is a huge cast – for every episode – and that makes it more fun for everyone. We all get to participate and work off each other. It’s wonderful to finally work with some of these actors – like Peter MacNicol. I’ve been a fan of his since he did ‘Dragonslayer.’ Peter really gets into it.”

Aside from the usual joys of voice acting (“You can show up in your pajamas,” “You do it until you get it right”), Englund finds the nuances of the medium to be both entertaining and educational.

“What’s interesting to me is that voiceover acting and direction has its own different vocabulary that I’m still learning,” Englund said. “It’s kind of like little short cuts of jargon that the director uses to communicate with the actors. It’s pop culture short-hand to cue us to a certain sound or attitude. It’s a learning process, but I like to learn. And it’s fun.”

Burnett on THE BATMAN Series Finale

With the final curtain closing on The Batman, Alan Burnett sits down with The World's Finest for one final interview on The Batman and the Justice League's final battle on Kids WB!.

The World's Finest: The finale of The Batman airs this season. Over the show's five-year run, what do you consider to be both the major pros and cons the series has brought to the table?

Alan Burnett: The big pro is that the series introduced a whole new generation of grade school kids to Batman. This show was primarily for them, and they responded well to it. The series lasted five years, which doesn't often happen in Saturday morning television. And it's important to keep the next generation aware of him if you want to keep Batman going as a pop-culture icon.

The con for older fans is that this animated Batman precluded a more adult animated Batman from being on the air. At least they'll get some of that in "Batman: Gotham Knight," the new DVD coming up.

What I hope is that someday there'll be a place for an R-rated animated Batman. A really gritty, no-holds-barred, sexed-up Batman. Wouldn't that be paradise?

The World's Finest: Looking at the actual finale, "Lost Heroes," do you find it was a good approach to wrap up the series? Any thoughts on what fans can expect and w hat familiar faces we may see?

Alan Burnett: I think it turned out well. There's lots of action, lots of personality, a big threat, and a big resolution. There are eight super heroes in it, including Robin and Batgirl, and they all have their moments, which is no small feat on the part of the writers, Stan Berkowitz and Alexx Van Dyne.

The World's Finest: Each season, The Batman has added a new twist to the series, whether it's bringing in new characters or redesigning others. Not only that, but the show's tone subtlety changed, as well. Is it normal for a show such as this to add new things (characters, etc.) to keep it fresh?

Alan Burnett: The network always wants to change things and add new elements to each new season, even when you'd rather not. You're always worried you're going to jump a shark. But the changes in The Batman were pretty organic. The first season he was a complete loner. By the second season he was accepted by the police. The third season added Batgirl. The fourth, Robin. This season, the JLA. The fourth season was probably the darkest, blessedly so. We thought it was going to be the last season. When the network gave us the go-ahead for a fifth season, they wanted us to get a little more kid-friendly again.

The World's Finest: Looking back on the fifth and finale season in particular, what do you consider to be the high points, and possible low ones too, of the season?

Alan Burnett: I was happy with the season overall. Sure there's stuff I would have done differently - there always is. I still think about jokes I could've put in Ducktales. But we got our audience, and the crew did an exceptional job. The other supervising producer, Michael Gogeun, oversaw the direction and art, and he and his people did phenomenal work. There was less time to produce this season than others, and more characters to create and deal with. Fortunately we also had a wonderful associate producer, Kim Smith, who helped keep everyone on track. This was a bullet train as far as production goes.

The World's Finest: How hard is it to wrap up a series such as this, knowing that plenty more stories could be told?

Alan Burnett: The main thing that disappoints you is that you're not going to be working with the people you enjoyed working with. Sixty-five stories were told for this Batman. Sure, there're other stories you could tell, but 65's a pretty satisfying number.

The World's Finest: Is there anything you didn't get to do on The Batman that you won't be able to? Perhaps plans for future seasons or plot lines left unresolved?

Alan Burnett: Everyone was pretty much aware that this was going to be the last season. So it wasn't as if I was in the mode to develop further ideas for this show. I just wanted to wrap it up on a high point.

The World's Finest: Finally, looking ahead, what's coming up from you that fans should keep an eye out for?

Alan Burnett: DVD stuff I can't talk about. But it's keeping me busy.

Spoilers and early Pics from 'The Batman' Finale!

LOG has more spoilers and early images from the "The Batman" Lost Heroes finale movie!

Read all about it!

White Makes World Go Around For Meligrove Band

The Canadian indie rock group who call themselves the Meligrove Band have called upon the services of animator Mike White for their latest music video. The track is titled Our Love Will Make the World Go Round, and White designed, animated and composited the entire space-themed video over the last six months. He would chip away at the project about an hour a day, between sleeping and his day job at Collideascope Digital Productions.

You may have seen another music video that White produced for MSTRKRFT (along with Ron Doucet), which also features an homage to Transformers.

Comic-lovers should keep their eyes peeled for White’s upcoming strip Pigtails and Potbellies.

Flinch in Driver’s Seat For Irvine Auto Center Spot

The crew at Flinch Studio recently teamed up with California-based Chota Media to create this TV spot for an LA-based auto dealer. The commercial is for Irvine Auto Center, featuring their mascot Otto (get it?).