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?).

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