Thursday, May 29, 2008

News - 05/29/08...

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" The Complete Book 3 Announced

The third season (aka Book 3: Fire) of Avatar: The Last Airbender will be released on 9/16/08. It has a running time of 8 hours 20 minutes, and will most likely be five DVDs. No other info is yet available.

Also, Paramount and Nickelodeon have designated July 2nd, 2010 as the premiere date for The Last Airbender, M. Night Shyamalan’s live action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Paramount has dropped the “Avatar” from the live action picture’s title to avoid confusion with James Cameron’s 3-D science fiction film, Avatar, which is slated to debut in December of 2009.








The Dark Knight's Got Milk

Batman's getting to don the milk mustache again for The Dark Knight's "Body by Milk" campaign, and along with it comes the opportunity for one fan to be drawn into a "Batman" comic book. Just head to the official "Body by Milk"website for details, as well as a widget, wallpaper and an icon.




















The Incredible Hulk Online Movie Game

Got some time on your hands? The official The Incredible Hulk website has launched the online game titled Hulk Smash 2.0. You can play the game by clicking on the icon at the site's main page. You'll get instructions on how to play the game as it loads.

The Incredible Hulk hits theaters on June 13.






"Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai" Movie Available Now on DVD

VIZ Media has announced that Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai is available now on DVD. The tenth feature-length Pokémon movie puts Ash, Pikachu, and his friends in Alamos Town to confront the mysterious Darkrai, whose combat threatens to tear a hole in the space-time continuum.







The Animated Scene: The New Age of Animation

In this month's column, Joseph Gilland watches hopefully as animation gears up for its next renaissance.
















Joseph Gilland.

Well animation artists, writers, fans, (and executives, you guys and gals, listen up please!), here we go into the next animation renaissance.

With Disney actually making a new animated 2D feature, after the baffling and absurd decision to ditch their 2D studios completely back in that sad, sad, early-21st-century era of CGI obsession, we may see something really special develop in the animation industry in the next few years.

We have seen it happen before. In the late '80s, after a string of relatively dismal feature films, Disney pulled its head out of its rear and in 1991 released Beauty and the Beast, the first animated feature ever to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. With the hugely successful Aladdin being released a year later, and Jeffrey Katzenberg leaving Disney to form DreamWorks Animation just as The Lion King became the highest-grossing classically animated film in history, the animation renaissance of the early '90s was on.

Well, sort of. We did witness an incredible surge in feature animation production, and some memorable films were made in the following years. Problem was, this little "renaissance" was driven by corporate greed, not creative integrity or far-reaching creative vision. And so instead of upping the ante and making better and better films, both Disney and DreamWorks went with extremely aggressive production schedules, in an attempt to cash in, in the short term. Moderation, good taste, and the all-important timing of release dates were seemingly ignored. At the same time, several other feature animation studios were hastily thrown together, both in America and internationally, and before we all knew it, animation artists around the world were making unheard-of amounts of money, and the market became saturated with cookie-cutter formulaic feature films that just got worse and worse as the '90s progressed. We know the story all too well and, to a certain degree, the industry is still reeling from the effects of that massive, misled resurgence.

Fortunately for us, though, while Disney was creating the lukewarm and ultimately forgettable (although admittedly I sorta liked it) Pocahontas, a little studio called Pixar was creating the phenomenon that was Toy Story.

With the incredible box office success of that film, another mad corporate knee-jerk, jump-on-the-bandwagon reaction ensued, and soon every Tom, Dick and Harry in the animation industry was rushing to make the next big CGI feature. That created a kind of secondary animation renaissance, but, regrettably, it was based on the sadly mistaken idea that the CGI technique was all-important and of course, once again -- as earlier in the '90s -- good old shortsighted corporate greed.

While it did lead to a flurry of activity in the industry, and some decent films came out of it, it ultimately went the exact same way as the previous 2D renaissance. Too many films were made too quickly, formula ruled over originality and, regardless of the successes along the way, the market was once again saturated with half-baked remakes of the industry's last successful formula.













Toy Story spelled doomsday for the classical animation industry, or so the execs in the Mouse House seemed to think! © Disney and Pixar.

And how amusing was it to watch DreamWorks bang out the lackluster Antz in record time, in an effort to beat Disney's A Bug's Life to the punch? As an industry, we were tragically drawn into Mr. Katzenberg's pathetic little game of ego, resentment and retribution with his former employer -- and a few years later? Well, while the Shrek films continue to pull in incredible (sick) amounts of money at the box office thanks entirely to clever writing and highbrow poo-poo humor, and Pixar's offerings are still looking pretty strong, we have watched the market once again become saturated with mediocre content, and animation consumers and critics have grown sick and tired of the same old films, rehashed over and over.

Oh yes, it would be wise, of course, to mention Europe, where, around the same time that Disney's Mulan and DreamWorks' The Prince of Egypt were being released, an interesting and unique 2D film called Kirikou and the Sorceress was being released. What followed in Europe was very similar to what happened in America, and was sometimes referred to as the "Kirikou Effect." As Phillippe Moins wrote in his AWN column of December, 2003:

A "Kirikou Effect"?
What has really happened in Europe in recent years? In France there has been much talk of the "Kirikou Effect." Michel Ocelot, previously known for his short films, alongside his producer Didier Brunner, battled for years to get financing for an unusual story and a personal graphic style for the animated feature film Kirikou and the Sorceress. After many ups and downs, a long and complicated process, which meant the physical production being spread out over several geographical locations, the film was released in French cinemas in 1998. The film was an unexpected success in cinemas, compounded by its triumphant video release. Two million Europeans finally saw the film in cinemas and the film was also sold to many other countries in several continents.













With Mulan, The Prince of Egypt and Kirikou and the Sorceress (above), animation experienced a corporate-driven renaissance. Courtesy of Les Armateurs.

The period immediately following saw a flood of feature film projects developed in France, hence the notion of the "Kirikou Effect." Although the film's strong sales have undoubtedly helped overcome skepticism and encouraged a range of different initiatives, the gestation period required for animated feature films suggests that in fact most of the films attributed to the Kirikou Effect were already in pre-production or even in production before Kirikou was released. Nonetheless, Corinne Jenart, from Cartoon (the European Association for animation film, part of the European Union's Media Program) stresses that Kirikou's success helped her organization to "sell" the industry on the idea for Cartoon Movie, an annual forum held near Berlin which has, year upon year, attracted an increasing number of producers and investors to look at projects seeking funding.

So we saw in the '90s, throughout the Western animation industry, an incredible resurgence of animated films -- 2D, 3D, or 2.5D, the fact is that a vast amount of resources was poured into the industry. The ultimate result? Well, due to a woeful lack of foresight and creative vision, we ended up with a public tired of the endless string of sequels and the industry's extreme reliance on marketing research and formulae. The incredible resurgence and renaissance of the '90s went sour and died before our very eyes.

And so, here we are, poised to enter another phase of animation's evolution. Thank God that the new folks in charge of Walt Disney Animation, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter, were quick to realize what so many of us working at Disney during the demise of their 2D studios knew all along. Classical animation is what Disney does best and what the public really wants to see as well! And all the sequels of previous Disney classics were a big, bad, ugly mistake, regardless of how much money they may have generated in the short term. In the long term, the poorly produced Disney sequels served only to water down and hurt Disney's reputation as a studio that produces nothing but the very best in animated entertainment. The executives formerly in charge of Walt Disney Animation may have thought they were very clever about producing their string of direct-to-DVD sequel feature films, making piles of cash for their ravenous shareholders, but, ultimately, by focusing on what they could squeeze out of their product rather than what they could put into it, they brought on the tragic demise of what was the most talented studio of classical animation artists ever assembled.













Disney's upcoming The Princess and the Frog may very well kick-start a revival of classic animation. © Disney.

With Ron Musker and Ron Clements directing, and Peter Del Vecho and John Lasseter producing, and a hungry crew of classical animators just dying to ply their craft once again, it is highly likely that the Disney Studios are going to produce a gem of a film with The Princess and The Frog.

So what happens if this film is released to rave reviews and incredible box-office success? As proved by history again and again, the smell of money will travel quickly, the animation predators will smell blood, and suddenly every Tom, Dick and Harry in the animation business will be scrambling to make the next blockbuster 2D animated feature. At least that is a very distinct possibility. And I think it is the hope of a great many animation artists, young and relatively new to the business, who would give their eyeteeth for a chance to actually animate by hand, in the classical manner in which the vast majority of them were trained, before switching over to 3D animation.

This is something that still never ceases to amaze me. In the past ten or so years, working closely with hundreds of young animators who end up working either in 3D or with Flash, it is absolutely incredible to hear how, virtually without exception, they long to put pencil to paper, or, at very least, stylus to Cintiq.

Throughout the animation business worldwide, I meet young animators who have adapted to digital animation techniques not so much by choice, as out of necessity. The career possibilities for classical animators vanished almost overnight, and a lot of young artists feel like they missed the boat, and not all of them are too pleased with spending 12 hours a day chained to a computer monitor. Of course there are many who embrace the technology and come to love it for what it is, an incredible toolset capable of creating absolutely anything.

Will these young animators get their chance? I, for one, certainly hope so! But here is an even more important hope that I have, and the key to what could very well mark the beginning of a real new animation renaissance.

We all know that 2D and 3D techniques have been crossing paths constantly now for quite some time. 3D films are filled with 2D elements, and 2D films are filled with 3D elements. Our abilities as artists to create life with our bare hands, coupled with the incredible technology that has freed us from the severe limitations of hard art, puts us in a position to create animated films staggering in the depth of their visual language. Films that look and feel more alive, more exciting, and more absorbing than anything we have ever seen in the past. As vast armies of technically proficient artists with a solid background in classical animation are set free to be creative with their ideas and their digital tools, we should be seeing a true renaissance in the animation industry.













If Walt had been advised by a large boardroom filled with lawyers and accountants, we never would have seen Fantasia (above). © Disney Enterprises Inc.

It is there, at the animation festivals worldwide, every year. Films that meld various 2D and 3D media into a seamless new creative look. Experimental flashes of brilliance that should be challenging the big studios to think outside their visual boxes, and bring the public something really juicy to look at and devour!

Let us keep in mind always that Walt Disney's vision may have left him in debt up to his ears by the time he was put to rest in the deep freeze, but it did not stop him from pushing the envelope of what was possible at that time. Had Walt been advised by a large boardroom filled with lawyers and accountants, we never would have seen Fantasia, or Snow White, or Pinocchio. Walt took risks. And that pioneering spirit led to where we are today, and gave us all this incredible legacy on which to build the art of animation.

So have you animation executives learned anything yet? Were you paying attention when the last great renaissance was brought to its knees by your shortsighted, ill-advised business plans based on fear and greed? Have you developed a healthy respect for the true nature of innovation and creative risk-taking? Are you willing to push the envelope, thus paving the way for a healthy, growing, abundant animation entertainment industry? Are you willing to let true visionaries take control of the fate of the animation industry, rather than imposing your sadly formulated, lowest-common-denominator, fear-based marketing research from hell and "business plans" on everything that we do in the animation industry?

If the young visionary animation artists of today, with their deep respect for and love of classical animation and their formidable digital skills, can be freed of the corporate shackles that have crippled our industry, the world is in for a treat. A real animation renaissance could blossom from this confusing mess that saw old-school craft pitted against the new technologies for far too many years. But we have to take a leap of faith. We have to take risks like Walt did back in the '20s and '30s. We have to be brave and make films that challenge our ideas about entertainment. The public is hungry for it, the artists are ready to provide it, and the craft and technology have come just far enough to break out of the cocoon, and morph into an utterly magical new age for animated films.

Bring on the next animation renaissance!

In his 30-year animation career, Joseph Gilland has worked with studios as diverse as Walt Disney Feature Animation and the National Film Board of Canada. He has worked on all styles of animation, experimental films, television series, commercials, theatrical feature films, stop motion, title sequences, live-action films and documentaries. He is writing a passionate book about the art of animation.





Children's TV Creator Dies Unexpectedly

Pineapple Squared Ent's Creative Director David Mitton died from a sudden heart attack last week. At the time of his death Mitton was overseeing a number of Pineapple Squared's projects including the animated epic for boys, ADVENTURES ON ORSUM ISLAND.

Television industry stalwart Mitton worked for the THUNDERBIRDS creator Gerry Anderson in the 1960s as a special effects floor technician on THUNDERBIRDS. It was there that he met Pineapple Squared's Supervising Director David Lane.

In the 1980s Mitton started a film company with Ken Turner called Clearwater Films. Clearwater then set up a feature arm, which teamed up with Britt Allcroft to make THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE. Mitton went on to direct and write more than 180 episodes of THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE.

Later, Mitton's imagination led to the creation of ORSUM ISLAND, a series for 7-11 year old children. With the benefit of all the experience he gained on THOMAS, TUGS and THUNDERBIRDS, Mitton was convinced that he had come up with a show that would deliver the sort of pace and variety he recognized today's young audiences are demanding. What's more, he viewed his work on ORSUM ISLAND and other upcoming Pineapple Squared productions as a vehicle by which to hand down his knowledge and experience to a new generation. Happy to be seen as something of an elder statesman, Mitton was keen to nurture the younger team members at Pineapple Squared.

Having been one of the main drivers behind several hugely successful shows, Mitton believed his work at Pineapple Squared would set a new tone for worldwide production focusing on story, plot and quality animation through a proprietary pipeline. The production facility was built as a robust feature of Pineapple Squared and is ideally placed to continue his work and provide the market with a fitting legacy for one of its great contributors.

The producers at Pineapple Squared, Michele Fabian-Jones and David Lane, have paid tribute to their partner, saying in a statement, "David Mitton was one of the greats of children's TV, his loss is a considerable one personally and professionally. The blow is cushioned only by the knowledge that he goes on through the continued success of Pineapple Squared Ent. and in particular of ORSUM ISLAND, about which he was so passionate."





Deluxe Edition "Beetlejuice" DVD to Contain Three Cartoon Episodes

Warner Home Video has announced the details of the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition DVD of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, starring Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Winona Ryder. The movie will be available on standard definition DVD and Blu-ray high definition disc, and will include three episodes of the successful animated TV series among the extras. Both editions will go on sale on September 16, 2008





'The Backyardigans' Go to Camp During Pirate-Week

The Back-yAAR-digans

The young audience and early education television programming block Nick Jr. continues to send springtime adventures to audiences early this year, as it schedules an early June broadcast of a new episode of The Backyardigans sets to air. A fantasy-adventure series that sets its characters' escapades to song and dance, The Backyardigans, during the second full week of June, will accompany other Nick Jr. programs during a week of pirate-themed television cartoons. Nick Jr. is a specially designed programming block airing on Nickelodeon weekdays from 9:00am-2:00pm (ET). The programming block is dedicated to preschoolers, is curriculum based, and best-of-all, commercial free.

Appealing to the preschool interest to sail the high seas, search for buried treasure, and assuredly find a multitude of reasons to yell incoherent piratical musings now and again, Pirate Week for the Nick Jr. programming block is scheduled to air themed episodes of Dora the Explorer and Max & Ruby in addition to other series', from Monday, June 9th through to Friday, June 13th.

The new half-hour adventure of The Backyardigans however, will premiere on Monday, June 9th at 9:00am (ET/PT).

Leading up to the themed-week of Nick Jr. animation programming, Nick Jr.'s online counterpart -- NickJr.com -- will be gearing up its broadband video service to cater to its browsers every pirate-based needs. Nick Jr. Video, starting the first full-week of June, on June 2nd, 2008, will be streaming clips of the episode "Pirate Camp" of The Backyardigans. According to Nickelodeon, a two-minute sneak peek from "Pirate Camp," and pirate-themed clips from other Nick Jr. shows will be available on wireless carriers.

In "Pirate Camp," Uniqua really wants to be a pirate, so she convinces a fearful Pablo to join her at Camp Walk-A-Planka. Under the tutelage of the great pirate captain Austin, the campers learn about "pirattitude" and dance the scalawag to a Garage Band soundtrack. When Austin is captured by pirate captain Red Boots, a fearsome ghost played by Tasha, it's up to the pirate campers to use their "pirattitude" to help set him free. But can they escape being tickled and turned into ghosts by captain Red Boots?

on Nickelodeon: Nickelodeon, now in its 29th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films.





New The Dark Knight Banners

Omelete has posted some great new banners for The Dark Knight. You can view the one below bigger and a second one by clicking here.

In related news, the movie has already won an award, and by no less than a 44% margin of victory! It received the Best Action trailer award in USA Today's Golden Trailer Awards.






Interview :Producer Joel Silver

Talks "Speed Racer", and heaven help us... a possible "Speed Racer 2"...





Other Animation Passings

Jack Hanrahan died last April 28 at the age of 75. He wrote for many animated TV series in the 1960s, and then later in the 1980s, including Birdman, Banana Splits, Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, Heathcliff, Snorks, Inspector Gadget, and The Care Bears. This obituary from the Cleveland Plain Dealer talks about the difficult final years of his life. I was quite saddened to hear about his passing. I’d wanted to interview Hanrahan for a book project I’m currently working on, because he had worked closely with Ward Kimball in the early-1970s. I discovered the name of the Cleveland nursing home he was staying in on Monday, April 28, literally the day he passed away. I had been planning to call him the following day, but that afternoon I read the notice of his passing on Mark Evanier’s blog. Some times things just aren’t meant to be.




Mel Leven (far right) in Babes in Toyland

Lastly, singer-songwriter Mel Leven, passed away last December 17, 2007 at the age of 93. He most famously wrote the classic Disney song “Cruella de Vil” for 101 Dalmatians. He wrote songs for numerous other Disney productions including Noah’s Ark, Donald and the Wheel, It’s Tough To Be A Bird and also appeared in the studio’s live-action feature Babes in Toyland. Also notable, Leven wrote and performed some entertaining songs for UPA shorts such as Miserable Pack of Wolves, Three-Horned Flink and all four of the “Ham & Hattie” shorts including the Oscar-nominated Trees and Jamaica Daddy. Leven was also the voice of numerous animated advertising characters including Crackle for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and the Folgers coffee bean. To read more about him, see this biography or read an interview with Mel’s son, Bill Leven.

(thanks cartoonbrew)






TOMORROW IN SF: Richard Williams Tribute

This Friday, May 30, ASIFA-San Francisco is holding a tribute to animator and director Richard Williams, in honor of his 75th birthday this year. The screening begins at 7:30pm at the Exploratorium in San Francisco (in the McBean Theater). Membership and parking are free, though you may have to be an ASIFA-SF member, which is a bargain at $25/year.

Films that will be screened include:

* His Oscar-winning short A Christmas Carol (1971)
* I Drew Roger Rabbit (1988), a rare British documentary about Williams
* Commercials made for TV in Great Britain, Europe, Canada and the US
* Two clips from the feature Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977)
* Title sequences for Pink Panther features
* Surprise footage

Williams will not be present in person at the event, however, he is a member of the short film jury at Annecy next month, and is also the subject of a tribute/retrospective at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in September. These appearances probably have a lot to do with the forthcoming release of his highly anticipated Animation Masterclass Lecture Series on dvd (shot in front of a live audience at Blue Sky Studios).

(thanks cartoonbrew)






Geronimo Stilton Jumps to Radio-Canada

Radio-Canada has pickes up Geronimo Stilton, the new animated kids’ television series produced by Atlantyca Ent. and Moonscoop Prods., in association with Mike Young Prods. The deal marks distributor Taffy Ent.’s first broadcast presale for the show, which is now in production and is scheduled to air during the 2009-2010 season.

Based on Atlantyca’s popular children’s chapter book series of the same name, Geronimo Stilton chronicles the life and adventures of the famous mouse Geronimo Stilton, head of a veritable media empire and klutz extraordinaire. The intellectual, mild-mannered rodent spends his days reading or playing chess with his nephew, the fearless Benjamin Stilton, until adventure comes knocking and launches them paws-first into capers in New Mouse City and exotic locales around the world. They are often joined in these adventures by Geronimo’s cousin Trap, the ultimate pack rat and consummate prankster, and Geronimo’s sister Thea, who is a daring special correspondent.

Published in Italy by Edizioni Piemme and in the U.S. by Scholastic, the Awrad-winning Geronimo Stilton books debuted in May of 2000 and have sold more than 14 million copies in Italy alone, and have been translated into 29 languages. Atlantyca Ent. is the original rights holder of the brand and all of its character spinoffs.





Robosapian Creator Licenses FOX Sports Robot

WowWee Group Ltd., the Optimal Group company behind the popular Robosapian consumer robot, has been granted worldwide rights to market the CG-animated FOX Sports Robot that appears during NFL games on FOX. The licensing agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising will see WowWee develop and market robotic figures and electronic accessories based on the digital mascot for a retail launch in 2009.

In 2007, FOX Sports and Twentieth Century Fox Licensing and Merchandising launched a licensing program around the FOX Sports Robot. The first initiatives included an on-air "Name the Robot" promotion and an Emmy-nominated CG show opener for FOX's Super Bowl XLII broadcast.

The WowWee group of companies maintains operations in Hong Kong, La Jolla, Calif. and Montreal, Quebec. The company has sold more than 5 million units of its Robosapien, the world's first commercially available biomorphic robot. Interested parties can go to www.WowWee.com to check out the latest product line, which now features the RS Tri-Bot robot, a three-wheeled personality-packed companion launching this summer.





Toon Boom, FableVision Debut Animation-Ish

Toon Boom Animation Inc. and educational publisher FableVision today announced the release of Animation-Ish, an innovative software program that allows people of all ages to create their own animation. The program is hosted by New York Times Bestselling children’s author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, FableVision’s founder and chief executive officer.

Animation-Ish was built around the philosophy that art pieces don’t need to create a mirror image of reality to effectively convey ideas, a notion popularized by Reynolds in his books The Dot and Ish. Published by Candlewick Press, the books have been printed in more 20 languages around the world.

Reynolds remarks, “Too many people say, ‘I can’t draw.’ I constantly remind kids and adults that their creations don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be ‘perfect-ish,’ which is where the name Animation-ish came from.”

Reynolds personally guides users through the program with dozens of video clips featuring drawing tips and samples of his own artwork. Three animation skill-levels are served with a project vault offering Reynolds’ drawings and starter ideas. The program also offers 24 lessons written by teachers for teachers, additional lessons available online, more tutorials by Reynolds and the animators of FableVision and a “share” feature for exporting animations to multiple formats.

Compatible with Mac and PC, Animation-ish is offered in two versions: retail and educational. A single copy of the retail version goes for $59.95. The Educational version, which includes a printed Classroom Edition User’s Guide, is offered at $499.95 for a 10-computer license, or $999.95 for a 25-computer license. Information and a preview of the program can be found at www.toonboom.com/products/animationish.





Star Trek composer Alexander Courage dead at 88

Alexander Courage, composer of the famed original "Star Trek" theme and orchestrator for the 1988 Disney animated feature film Mulan, died May 15 at the Sunrise assisted-living facility in Pacific Palisades, California, the Film Music Society announced Wednesday. He was 88.

Courage, known familiarly as "Sandy," had been in failing health since 2005.

In 1999, Hank Azaria performed the Star Trek theme in the Simpsons episode They Saved Lisa's Brain as "I Am Smart, Much Smarter than You, Hibbert."

Courage wrote a dramatic theme and over a dozen scores in 1967-68 for the Carl Betz legal drama Judd for the Defense. This was his only TV theme other than Star Trek.

An arranger for TV and movies, Courage won a Emmy in 1988 as principal arranger for the ABC special Julie Andrews: The Sound of Christmas. He and Lionel Newman shared Oscar nominations for his adaptation scores for The Pleasure Seekers in 1963 and Doctor Dolittle in 1967.

He was nominated in 1973 for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition For a Series or a Single Program of a Series in connection with the Medical Center episode "Cycle of Peril. He shared a second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction for the opening ceremonies of Liberty Weekend, a 1986 TV special.

Courage wrote the eight-note brass fanfare for the Starship Enterprise, in 1965 for the first of two Star Trek pilots. It was heard during the original show's three seasons. The theme was repeated in all the Star Trek feature films and several TV series, especially Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Besides the fanfare, series theme (the show first aired in 1966) and scores for two pilot episodes, Courage composed the music for only four other hours of the classic science-fiction show -- two in the first season the other two in the third.

Told that more people know the Star Trek fanfare than know Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, Courage said that this must be an exaggeration.

For composer Jerry Goldsmith, he orchestrated the feature films Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection.

Born in Philadelphia on December 10, 1919, he moved to New Jersey as a boy.

Studying piano and horn, he received a bachelor's degree in 1941 from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York before enlisting in the Army Air Corps. He became a bandleader at several California and Arizona bases.

Following the Second World War, he started work at CBS Radio as a composer for occasional conductor for such programs as Hedda Hopper's This Is Hollywood, Screen Guild Theater, The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective, The Camay Hour and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

An orchestrator at MGM from 1948 to 1960, he worked on such famed musicals as Show Boat, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Guys and Dolls, It's Always Fair Weather, Funny Face and Gigi. In the late 1950s, he scored several films, including Arthur Penn's The Left-Handed Gun, Shake, Rattle and Rock and Hot Rod Rumble.

However, TV became Courage's mainstay as a composer. He scored over 100 episodes of The Waltons in the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as four Waltons TV-movies in the 1980s and 1990s.

In the 1950s, he composed various episodes of M Squad, Wagon Train and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour at Universal, National Velvet at MGM, and The Untouchables at Desilu.

Much of his 1960s output was at 20th Century-Fox. Newman had Courage write music for such series as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Daniel Boone, Lost in Space and Land of the Giants.

Courage provided orchestrations for such 1960s musicals as Hello, Dolly! at Fox and My Fair Lady at Warner Bros. In addition, he orchestrated dramatic and comedic scores for colleagues Adolph Deutsch (Some Like It Hot), Andre Previn (Irma La Douce) and Alex North (The Agony and the Ecstasy).

In the 1970s and 1980s, he composed music for the TV series Apple's Way and Eight Is Enough. He was music coordinator for opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti's 1981 film Yes, Giorgio, appearing onscreen as a conductor.

Courage went back to orchestration as the composition business in television fell off. For longtime friend John Williams, he orchestrated Fiddler on the Roof, The Poseidon Adventure, Hook and Jurassic Park. He adapted Williams' themes for Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, writing many orchestral arrangements for the Boston Pops when Williams was a conductor from 1980 to 1993.

He also orchestrated such films for Goldsmith as Basic Instinct, First Knight, The Mummy and Air Force One.

Courage wrote major orchestral arrangements for several recording projects, including Barbra Streisand's Broadway Album (1985), opera singer Kathleen Battle's 1991 Christmas album and violinist Joshua Bell's Gershwin Fantasy (1998).

Courage was a member of the first temporary executive board of the Composers and Lyricists Guild of America, the union that represented Hollywood composers and songwriters between the 1950s and 1960s. He also was a regular adjudicator of the Academy Awards.

An award-winning photographer, his pictures graced such popular magazines as Life and Colliers.

Alexander Courage was predeceased by his third wife, the former Shirley Pumpelly, in 2005. He is survived by four stepchildren and six grandchildren.

Plans for a memorial service will be announced soon.





3rd Hancock TV Spot is Here!

Columbia Pictures has released the third TV spot for Will Smith's Hancock, directed by Peter Berg and co-starring Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman. It hits theaters on July 2. You can watch the TV spot using the player below or in better-quality here!

Yeah, we dig that last shot...


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