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. 

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