Thursday, June 12, 2008

News - 06/12/08...

Christopher Lee back in Star Wars, animation style

According to, Christopher Lee will reprise his role as Count Dooku in the animated feature film Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Interestingly enough, his scenes were apparently animated before he recorded his lines; says a message board member on the actor’s official site: “Mr. Lee has recorded the voice of Count Dooku for this movie a couple of months ago. It was however, the first time he had to lip synch to a character because they had produced the animation before recording his voice.”

Five Kung Fu Panda sequels on the way?

In news that will surprise noone, Jack Black told AAP while promoting Kung Fu Panda in Sydney earlier today that he was confident there would be a follow up: “My eight ball says signs point to yes.” Jack says he’d jump at the chance to be involved if “all the stars are aligned to make it. It’s easy for me, I just come in and do the acting voice, it’s those animators and directors that have to really make the sacrifice.” In much more surprising news however, Jeffrey Katzenberg stated that there could be up to FIVE more Kung Fu Panda movies if he gets his way. “There is a larger story here of which this is the first chapter. In the same way Shrek had five chapters from the beginning, this has six. Whether we get to tell those chapters or not isn’t something we determine, the movie-goers determine. It needs to be a big hit. It needs to be a blockbuster.” Which Kung Fu Panda is clearly on its way to become… Deservedly so since this timeless action comedy with heart marks a fresh departure for DreamWorks–so why spoil it, especially so early in its theatrical run, with the announcement of endless sequels? You may remember that Jeffrey Katzenberg stated four years ago that Shrek had been conceived from the beginning as a four-chapter story, later bumping up that number to five.

Disney to offer free movies online

Disney will stream full-length movies on its Web site for the first time, as part of its “Wonderful World of Disney” series on ABC, says The Hollywood Reporter. The films are scheduled to stream through August. Finding Nemo is available at through Friday. Monsters, Inc., Haunted Mansion, and Peter Pan also will be available on the site this summer. The movies will be on from Monday through Friday after their ABC broadcast the preceding Saturday night as “Wonderful World of Disney” presentations. Peter Pan will be the last movie to stream, ending its run August 8.

The New Star Wars: The Clone Wars Trailer

Warner Bros. Pictures and Lucasfilm have revealed the new trailer for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, coming to theaters on August 15. The CG-animated sci-fi action-adventure will feature Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padmé Amidala, along with brand-new heroes like Anakin's padawan learner, Ahsoka, as well as sinister villains led by Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous.

You can watch the trailer in High Definition QuickTime and Flash format here!

M. Night Shyamalan Previews "The Last Airbender" at Nick Licensing Show Event

Nickelodeon kicked off Licensing International Expo 2008 Tuesday at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center with star power, including a presentation by special guest M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Happening) and Nickelodeon Movies’ and Paramount Pictures’ executives, where attendees got a preview of Shyamalan's July 2, 2010, theatrical film in the making, The Last Airbender. Also at Licensing Show, iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove was on-hand to sign copies of the brand-new iCarly album, just released today, for show attendees who stopped by the Nickelodeon booth.

During the presentation for The Last Airbender, Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Shyamalan commented, "Casting has begun and we've seen thousands of kids. I believe we've found the next superstars." In recounting his excitement about the project and how he got involved, Shyamalan recalled, "I called up my agent and said I have a movie I want to do. We phoned Paramount and Nickelodeon, and told them that we think they have the next STAR WARS."

Shyamalan also discussed how he came to work on the Avatar film, crediting his daughter as his first introduction to the action-oriented series. "I sat down and watched four television episodes back-to-back with my kids. We were riveted. I said, 'This would make a phenomenal movie!' My wife said, 'This is the one you've been waiting for."

Cyma Zarghami, President of Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group, began the morning's presentation, touching on the strength of the Nickelodeon brand and future plans for the hit property. "We're tremendously excited about the growth potential as new audiences meet our hero in live-action form in The Last Airbender," she said. "[Nickelodeon] is developing initiatives to super-serve the show's hardcore super-fans in anticipation of The Last Airbender's premiere."

Also present were Paramount Film Group's President, John Lesher, and Paramount Pictures' Vice Chairman, Rob Moore, who voiced their anticipation of The Last Airbender. Both Lesher and Moore cited the film as "one of those rare event movies that moves audiences globally and ensures the franchise a long, prosperous future."

Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) President, Leigh Anne Brodsky, closed the presentation remarking about potential future Avatar licensing and merchandising programs. "We're especially optimistic about this movie's prospects given The Last Airbender's already rabid, global fan base. The Last Airbender is a living, breathing, organic brand that's poised to explode, [and] our strategy is to work with partners who want to authentically build the brand around the globe."

Following the Avatar presentation, attendees stopped by an exclusive CD signing by Miranda Cosgrove, star of Nickelodeon's tween live-action hit iCarly, which launches a consumer products line later this month. The series' first iCarly album hits shelves today and apparel, electronics and stationery will all become available at retail later this summer. iCarly follows a cast of characters on and off webcam as they create webcasts featuring everything from comedy sketches and talent contests to interviews, recipes and problem-solving. Kid viewers can interact with the TV characters at real-life companion website

NVCP also announced the debut of new product lines for Ni Hao, Kai-lan - the first animated preschool series to incorporate Chinese culture and Mandarin Chinese language - and Neopets - the world's most youth-engaging virtual world and one of the stickiest on the web. Additionally, NVCP unveiled the first of many Slime! branded products, along with expansion programs for Nickelodeon's most popular characters including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, The Naked Brothers Band and Go, Diego, Go!.

Batch of NY licensing show pics! Animation edition! TMNT! Clone Wars! MONSTERS AND ALIENS! Spaghetti! And More!

Here batches of pics from the New York licensing show! This one has Anime and Animation bent to it, including a look at MONSTERS AND ALIENS, which I'm very much looking forward to from Dreamworks. Also included is a poster for another Dreamworks movie called HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON! Anime fans will find some stuff in there as well, including a new DEATHNOTE poster and lastly, there's maquettes from Clone Wars represented as well! Enjoy!

Beach Says Turok Movie in the Works

MTV talked to Adam Beach (Flags of Our Fathers), who says a movie based on the comic book character and video game franchise "Turok" is in the works:

"We just finished the animated movie and now we're going into the feature film movie [which should lens] hopefully in a couple years. We're about to set up meetings to develop a script and put it out there," Beach enthused. "I'll have to beef up, and be a good guy, and save the world!"

You can read more of Beach's quotes here.

Toon Zone Throwdown Round 4: Top 5 Comedy Fights

Here at Toon Zone News, we firmly believe that non-violent solutions to Real World problems are the ones that should be actively sought out and implemented. These solutions are harder to do, but if done correctly, they will tend to be more permanent, resulting in less ancillary suffering of innocent bystanders and more long-term happiness for all parties involved.

That's why we want our cartoon characters to solve their problems with as much violence as possible.

So, to commemorate the opening of Kung Fu Panda last week and The Incredible Hulk movie this week, and with tongues placed firmly in cheek, the staff at Toon Zone News has pumped up the adrenaline and the testosterone to put together the Hulk-sized Toon Zone Throwdown: our completely subjective picks for the best slugfests in animation, divided into five categories of five fights each. There will be one new Top 5 list per day, starting Monday and running to the opening of The Incredible Hulk on Friday.

In addition to the screenshots for these fights, any title that's a link will take you to a legal video of the TV show or movie in question, either streaming or downloadable for a fee. Nothing brings across a fight like seeing it in motion.

Despite the adrenaline rush of the earlier lists, don't think we forgot about the comedy fights -- the ones that are supposed to be funny. Animation has been used for comedy almost since its inception, but here are our highly subjective picks for the top 5 comedy fights in no particular order.

All these writeups may contain spoilers. Ready? Then let's FIGHT!

Donald Duck vs. Daffy Duck
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis

"I've worked with a lot of wise-quackers, but you are despicable.”

Why: The stage is set - quite literally - for the biggest comedic battle of them all - the honest irritability of Donald Duck verses the unstoppably looney Daffy Duck. In this short cameo from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the pair hammer out melodies on two pianos and taking pot-shots at each other while Bob Hoskins watches in awe. And so he should, for this is certainly one of the best comedic fights.

But why? Is it the great fusion of animation and live action? The fast and furious collective of classic comic gags ranging from the popular boxing glove to the fuse sizzling cannon?

No - it’s because it was a fight you never expected to see, but always dreamed about. Naturally it wasn’t rare for cartoon icons to face off each other, but rarely two characters from rival studios. And for it to be Donald and Daffy makes it even better. Irritable, aggressive and unsporting, these pair were just begging to be put on the stage together so the audience could watch the sparks fly.

And fly the sparks did. A fun, well executed and much anticipated contest between two of animated histories ill-tempered underdogs. The fact that they're the born losers of their studios also means one of them will finally end up on top, but you really have no idea which one until the end. Short, but very sweet.

Peter vs. Chicken
Family Guy: "Da Boom" (1999)
Directed by Bob Jaques

Chicken... gave me a bad.. coupon - AGH!

Why: Taken from the bizarre "Da Boom" of season two, this has to be one of the great comedic fight homages. A ridiculously long and continual fight sequence takes all the swipes it can muster at Hollywood.

The event happens in the form of one of the show's many flashbacks. Following the discovery that he has been given an expired coupon by a chicken, Peter takes this affront personally and the two wage a battle that takes them across town, on top of trains and through offices.

It's an abstract, bloody, and over-the top affair, poking fun at Hollywood's super battles. The hilarious over-emphasis on the necessity of such destructive confrontations rarely balances up to their requirements. Nevertheless, Hollywood action films get the audience rooting for the hero's agenda, regardless of whether it's really worth the damage they cause in the process. Here we have Peter crushing the chicken's head in the Xerox machine - a quite nasty moment, but its message is clear: heroes swipe cars, blow up bridges, and destroy property for their own personal crusade...and the audience doesn't care.

On the surface, it's ridiculous, vicious, and crazy, but beneath the surface there is quite a clever swipe at the film industry.

Bender vs. Zoidberg
Futurama: "Anthology of Interest I" (2000)
Directed by Chris Louden and Rich Moore

This battle just tops the other Zoidberg focused duel in "Why Must I Be a Crustacean in Love?" when the giant lobster takes on Fry in a unashamed take on Star Trek’s "Amok Time." This one scores for the epic nature of the encounter as Zoidberg and robot Bender are enlarged to five hundred feet tall and proceed to decimate a city in their wake.

In one corner we have the inept Doctor Zoidberg now over-sized to become a city threatening mighty monster crustacean. In the other corner we have beer guzzling robot Bender playing a city devastating metal menacing mechanismo. Not only do we have a battle between two of the show's popular comedy characters, but also a face-off that plays a light nudge/wink to the giant-menacing city genre using two of the typical building trouncing archetypes - the enormous monster and the huge robot.

The event not only covers a wide range of Godzilla orientated homages but manages to throw in some more gentle contemporary nods - watch out for the neat segment between Fry and Bender that mocks the humanity of the Iron Giant.

The fight also remains creative and hilarious all the way through. Watch out for Bender’s brilliant boiling Zoidberg in a stadium of hot water, the human dart gun, and the final death the world's favorite - and only - humongous robot pimp, pierced through the metal heart by a mighty spire. It’s all big, it’s all silly, and it pits monster against robot with humans as ammunition. What more can you want from a fight?

Bugs Bunny vs. Elmer Fudd
"What's Opera Doc?" (1957)
Directed by Chuck Jones


Because he has a speaw and magic HEWL-met!

Magic helmet?

Magic HEWL-met!

"Magic" helmet...

Suit vs. Suit
The Tune: "Push Comes to Shove" (1992)
Directed by Bill Plympton

This deadpan comic animation is almost totally out of place in the movie it's in, to the point where the lead character of The Tune ends the scene by asking, "Why am I watching this?" It can run as a short film all on its own, but either way, it's both riotously funny and completely strange. Just what we've come to expect from the quirky imagination of indie animator Bill Plympton.

The setup for this short is entirely irrelevant. It's just 5 minutes of two guys in suits whose difference of opinion ultimate results in a hilariously deadpan fight, starting with fists in faces, and slowly escalating to increasingly insane nasty things. Cannons get shoved up noses and fired. Dynamite is inserted into someone's neck socket and exploded inside the head. A tongue is placed in a glass of water right before a live electric wire is applied to the head. The old Bugs Bunny trick of applying plant fertilizer to someone's noggin produces a new and novel way to use a lawn mower. One character is even force fed a dog, a cat, and a mouse to endure a three-way animal chase inside his head.

Neither character says a word throughout the whole thing, or even seems to be all that upset at something like getting his head painted like a baseball so it can be swatted off his neck to bounce around the room a few times. We're never learn anything about these two characters or what they have against each other. If nothing else, your mind boggles to see just what they'll pull out next, and the gleeful impermanence of the damage inflicted allows us to laugh rather than cringe in horror. "Squash and stretch" is a cornerstone technique of animation, and this short is a marvelous object lesson on how to use squashing and stretching as a cornerstone of a good fight played for laughs.

Coming up in the Final Round: Top 5 Takedowns.

Green talks Robot Chicken movie

So had a chat to Seth Green – yep, he of “Buffy” and “Austin Powers” fame – this morning about his new “Robot Chicken : Star Wars” Special which is about to be released here on the discal device.

Naturally, they asked Seth whether or not there’s any chance “Robot Chicken” – be it as a “Star Wars” spoof, or not – might one day hit the big screen. The actor says it’s been discussed.

“We’ve talked about that. Thing is, we wouldn’t necessarily want to make like a Monty Python movie that’s all sketches.”

A film just wouldn't work if it were made in the same fashion - back to back sketches - as the series, says Green, so they'd have to come up with something a little more linear.

If Lucasfilm come to Green and partner Matt Senreich with an offer to bring action-figure Vader to the big screen, it’ll be a different story.

“If they ever wanna do that, we’re open to it”, states Green.

Meantime, the guys are continuing work on the fourth season – and hinted that a character from Green’s past may be making a re-appearance on the show.

“I don’t wanna tease it too much, but we have a bit [of Buffy] as our fourth-season opener that Joss Whedon is in”, says Green. Matt adds, “Without giving anything away, Oz may or may not show up in that same episode.”

As for whether Green is involved in the upcoming “Without a Paddle” and “Austin Powers” sequels? One of them he’s dead-keen to be involved with, the other he’s not.

“I’m pretty sure it’s a direct-to-DVD sequel”, laughs Green when asked whether he’ll return for the recently announced “Without a Paddle 2”. “Yeah, I’m totally busy!” [Laughs]

He’ll definitely be available though if “Austin Powers 4” eventuates beyond the ‘rumour’ stage.

‘’Yeah, I’ve heard a ton – from the press, but none from nobody’s who associated with making the movie. I love those movies though, and I’d love to see one [happen]. Everyone’s asking about it. ‘’

Iron Man 2 may proceed without Favreau

Tuesday, ‘’Iron Man’ director Jon Favreau mentioned on his MySpace page that he’s yet to officially sign on for the sequel – in fact, he hasn’t heard from anyone at Marvel for 5 weeks. Considering ‘’Iron Man 2’’ has already got a release date (April 2010), that’s a bit unsettling.

According to IESB, the reason Favreau hasn’t been contacted in so long about the film – despite the fact he’s supposedly ‘in negotiations’ (according to Marvel) – is that they might be forging ahead without him.

“About a week ago, the IESB was tipped off by a junior source at Marvel Studios that there had been some delays with Jon's negotiations regarding the sequel. When asked why I was told that Marvel and Favreau hadn't been able to come to terms regarding money.

At first I thought my source was full of shit and I dismissed it as a rumor. This last Friday I was contacted by another source at Marvel and this one, let's just say, is much higher up on the food chain, and told me that the chairman of Marvel Studios David Maisel who has been in charge of negotiating new terms with Favreau is being cheap and not willing to pay a fair directors' fee.’’

Brett Ratner is no doubt waiting in the wings.

More on the Favreau/IronMan/Marvel debacle from aint it cool news...

Regarding the rumors that Marvel won't bring back Jon Favreau for IRON MAN 2...

Hey folks, Harry here... broke a story about how they're hearing that the reason Jon Favreau isn't secured to direct IRON MAN 2 is that Marvel Studios Head Honcho - David Maisel is skimping and being cheap regards to making Jon Favreau's deal.

I wish I could come on here and say I know otherwise, but sadly I know otherwise. There is a very very strong chance that unless David Maisel pulls his head out of his ass and work on this deal - you'll see Jon Favreau directing anything but an IRON MAN 2 or an AVENGERS movie.

While the details of Favreau's deal on the first IRON MAN are not public knowledge - he was paid an upfront fee - with real backend participation. Given the success that is clearly happening with IRON MAN - this deal is going to reward MARVEL STUDIOS greatly.

That said - MARVEL should look back at their own Comic History - their history of f@#*ing over the talent and artists that created much of their library often resulted in those artists leaving the company... creating incredibly profitable characters for other companies and for themselves - resulting in lost revenue for MARVEL, that had they treated their artists fairly and justly - rewarding those that brought in the rewards for the company... well, maybe Marvel's comic branch wouldn't have been through such a grotesque roller coaster ride.

Jon Favreau wants to do more IRON MAN movies. He would love to play in the Marvel Universe. Sadly... David Maisel is penny pinching his own company into a malignant purplenurple.

MARVEL STUDIOS has - officially two movies under their belt. IRON MAN & THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Both of which are outstanding films that do a better job of exploiting their characters than anything the Studio system has done so far. However - MARVEL INVESTORS - watch carefully what happens here. If you see MARVEL unwilling to do what is necessary to keep the talent in play - then forget about MARVEL STUDIOS becoming the Pixar of Superhero films.

PIXAR is the model of how to do this. They not only developed internal talent, but hired great talent from other companies - and they're doing everything in their power to keep those incredibly talented and creative people happily working in house.

Running a studio and creating franchises is all about Talent management - and if MARVEL doesn't step up and do the right thing - then all our dreams about a great MARVEL UNIVERSE will begin to wash away.

When I brought this up with Kevin Feige at the Austin screening of THE INCREDIBLE HULK - he said they would be working with Favreau - but that isn't what I've heard from other sources - and it isn't what IESB is hearing either.

The dream of MARVEL STUDIOS is that we don't see stupid decisions like what we saw happen with Fox on X-MEN - where they resort to bringing in "talent" to take over and destroy the work that was already in play.

MARVEL has the opportunity to create franchises that last - not for a few years, but for decades. But they have to make the right decisions and be willing to work with the artists that will grow and evolve the properties into franchises that are worth existing. When an artists' run grows stale, that's when you change horses - not after the first win.

So Where's the Captain America scene, Letterier?

Collider have some good news for "Incredible Hulk" fans - there will be up to 70 minutes of deleted scenes included on the Blu-Ray edition of the DVD (which I assume will be released just before Christmas?).

''I’m not the kind of guy that likes to keep the stuff for myself", explains director Louis Letterier. ''I’m like, okay you student filmmakers, here’s what I did right and here’s what I did wrong and in some of the stuff, in the 70 minutes, there’s some great stuff and there’s some really horrible stuff, but you’ll see it all, you know?''

One of those deleted scenes is a moment where Hulk meets Captain America!

Letterier tells, "There’s a point when Bruce Banner gives up on his quest for the cure and decide to kill himself. So he travels far north and reaches the Arctic Circle. You might have seen bits of it in some of the promos. The result was a very dark and strong scene, which Marvel, me and everyone else’s considered to be too hard to young audiences to take, so we’ve cut it. Having that said, when Bruce arrives at his destination he meets up with Captain America! At some point this week, we will make it available on the internet – but I cannot tell you where or when – and the material will definitely be on the DVD.”

I wonder whether they've actually got an actor playing "Captain America" - if so, he'd be the same chap playing him in the forthcoming movie, no? - or the camera pans down and reveals someone in red and blue tights without exposing his face? Whatever the case, I'm dead keen to see the scene!

Wanted Red Band Trailer

Check out a new age-restricted Red-Band trailer for Universal's new action-thriller "Wanted" starring Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Common.

Check out the all NEW trailer or head over to Apple for a High Definition version of it.

Based upon Mark Millar's explosive graphic novel series and helmed by stunning visualist director Timur Bekmambetov--creator of the most successful Russian film franchise in history, the Night Watch series--Wanted tells the tale of one apathetic nobody's transformation into an unparalleled enforcer of justice. In 2008, the world will be introduced to a hero for a new generation: Wesley Gibson.

25-year-old Wes (James McAvoy) was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. There was little else for Wes to do but wile away the days and die in his slow, clock-punching rut.

Until he met a woman named Fox (Angelina Jolie).

After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits Wes into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his dad's death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself.

With wickedly brilliant tutors--including the Fraternity's enigmatic leader, Sloan (Morgan Freeman)--Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But, slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one could ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny.

Wanted Opens June 27th, 2008

AnimeToday Interviews AnimEigo Founder & CEO Robert Woodhead on "Yawara"

The Anime Today podcast has interviewed Robert Woodhead, founder and CEO of AnimEigo, about their upcoming release of Yawara, the anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa's manga series. He also discusses "classic" anime, his recommendations from AnimEigo's catalog, and their live-action offerings.

NY Times on Giving Bugs, Mickey, and Other Characters Modern Facelifts

The New York Times has taken a look at the efforts to modernize several classic fictional characters such as Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny, and Strawberry Shortcake. The article digs into past efforts to update or refresh franchises (such as Warner Brothers' Loonatics and on-line efforts by Disney), many of which will involve new animated projects for television or direct-to-video.

Episodes of "Pocoyo" to move onto the big screen

NCircle Entertainment announced Wednesday a theatrical distribution agreement with Kidtoons to feature award-winning animated children's series Pocoyo in select movie theaters across the United States beginning in September.

Kidtoons is devoted to bringing parents and kids together by showcasing G-rated animated movies in theaters throughout the U.S. every weekend. In addition to presenting matinee movies on Saturdays and Sundays, Kidtoons theaters also feature cartoon shorts, music videos and singalongs prior to the feature presentation.

Participating theater chains include Abingdon Cinemall, Allen, Atlas, Emagine, Marquee, Neighborhood, AccessIT's Pavilion Theatre, National Amusements, Rave Motion Pictures, Republic Theatre Group, Showplace and UltraStar.

"NCircle is thrilled to collaborate with Kidtoons to bring Pocoyo to the big screen for children and their families to enjoy," said Stacey Yates, NCircle Entertainment's senior director of brand management. "This deal signifies NCircle's commitment to bringing highly imaginative children's brands to a wider audience, expanding beyond the home entertainment industry."

To support this program, NCircle is placing 800,000 inserts featuring Pocoyo's debut at Kidtoons theaters in all NCircle DVD products. These inserts include one coupon for free admission to a Kidtoons showing. Kidtoons is also being promoted on the Pocoyo Web site and Pocoyo's newly launched MySpace page.

"We are excited to work with NCircle, a company that shares our core values of providing quality, family-friendly entertainment," said Michele Martell, chief operating officer of The Bigger Picture. "As we continue our mission of filling the G-rated genre void, we believe moviegoers will fully enjoy Pocoyo."

Co-produced by Zinkia and Granada International, Pocoyo, which targets pre-schoolers, promotes learning through laughter. Pocoyo, the title character, is a fun-loving, friendly little boy with a boundless curiosity, exploring each day's events with his friends. The engaging 3D CGI animated series, which encourages children to sing, dance, interact and have fun, is currently being broadcast worldwide to more than 100 territories.

Critically acclaimed, Pocoyo has received a host of accolades including a BAFTA for Best Pre-school Animation, the top TV award at the Annecy International Film Festival, Best TV Series at China's International Animation and Digital Arts Festival, the Pulcinella Award for Best Pre-School and Best European Program, and the Zapping award in Spain for Best Animation Series.

A full listing of participating Kidtoons theaters can be found at

Five New Judges Join Animag’s Pitch Party

Animation Magazine now have placed all their high-powered judges for this year’s Pitch Party contest. Karen Toliver (VP of Production at 20th Century Fox Animation), David Wiebe (Director of Content at YTV, Corus Entertainment) and DreamWorks Animation’s triumphant development trio of Alex Schwartz, Damon Ross and Chris Kuser will be picking their favorite ideas along with Daniel Wineman (Director of Original Series and Co-Pros at Jetix Europe), Julie Kane-Ritsch (Exec VP, The Gotham Group), Roland Poindexter (VP of Current Series Animation, Nickelodeon), Rob Renzetti (Supervising Producer of Cartoon Network’s Cartoonstitute) and Matt Harrigan (Head of Program Development, Adult Swim). The winners of this year’s event will get to pitch their project to the judge of their choice.

Karen Toliver,
VP of Development, 20th Century Fox Animation

Karen overseas the development and production of animated projects at Fox Animation, home of Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Horton Hears a Who! and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. Before joining the studio a year ago, she was the production executive at Disney Animation, overseeing feature such as Brother Bear, Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons. She also acquired the upcoming Disney feature The Princess and The Frog, which will be released in 2009. Earlier, she was VP at James Pentecost Prods., focusing on developing family properties for both film and television, including the Roger Rabbit sequel. Toliver also helped develop the Curious George franchise for Universal.

David Wiebe
Director of Content, YTV, Corus Entertainment Inc.

David Wiebe is the Director of Content for YTV. In addition to overseeing the development and production of creative content for YTV, David also reviews all commissions, acquisitions and interactive initiatives. David began his career in animation at Nickelodeon as a Network Coordinator, managing the hit series SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents and The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron. Prior to joining Nelvana, David was the Director of Development and Programming for Kids' WB! in Los Angeles, where he oversaw acquisition and original development for both animated and live-action properties. While at Kids' WB!, David supervised programming for Johnny Test, Legion of Super Heroes and the Emmy-winning series The Batman.

Alex Schwartz
Head of Development, DreamWorks Animation

As Head of Development at DreamWorks Animation, Alex oversees the development of all projects on the DreamWorks Animation slate. Schwartz began her entertainment career in 1990 at Walt Disney Studios’ Touchstone Pictures, where she oversaw such hit movies as What’s Love Got to Do With It, Sister Act, Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and Rushmore. After a two-year stint at Bel Air Entertainment, she joined Walden Media in New York as exec VP in charge of features and oversaw films such as Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Charlotte’s Web and Bridge to Terabithia, Nim’s Island and Journey 3D to the Center of the Earth, Schwartz holds a Master’s degree in journalism from NYU.

Damon Ross
Senior VP, DreamWorks Animation

Damon Ross has been a DreamWorks Animation senior VP for just over a year. Before DreamWorks, he served as Vice President of Development & Production at Nickelodeon Movies. In his 12-year tenure (6 years in New York City and 6 years in Los Angeles), he brought the Nickelodeon brand credibility and integrity in movies by identifying smart, original, character-driven material that attracted visionary creators and filmmakers. As the team’s key “book guy,” he spearheaded the feature film development of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging and the award-winning picture book, Sector 7 (Jim Carrey attached to star). In 2006, Damon co-produced the hit Jack Back comedy, Nacho Libre.

Chris Kuser
Senior Development Executive, DreamWorks Animation

Chris Kuser is a Senior Development Executive at DreamWorks Animation. He has been with the company for eight years. Prior to that, he was managing director of The Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Chris is a graduate of the American Film Institute and Fordham University.

There are only three spots left for this year’s Pitch Party. To find out how you can be a contestant and get your idea reviewed by a top list of industry professionals, visit

To find out more about our past winners, go to

Thursday Block Posts Ratings Gain for CN

Cartoon Network's "New Thursday Nights" block posted double-digit ratings gains over the same period last year, fueled by the premiere of the original series The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack.

Overall kids delivery for ages 2-11 grew 20 percent to 868,000, with ratings up 22 percent to 2.2. The kids 6-11 delivery rose 12 percent to 622,000 and ratings rose 13 percent to 2.6. Flapjack posted the highest growth, with a 47 percent gain in kids 6-11 delivery and a 42 percent gain among kids 2-11.

Ratings also were up for the Saturday morning "Dynamite Action Squad" block, with kids 6-11 delivery up 9 percent and ratings up 10 percent. Kids 2-11 deliver rose 16 percent and ratings were up 18 percent to score a 2.0. Leading the block was Ben 10: Alien Force, which improved kids 6-11 delivery 42 percent and ratings to 3.2, up 45 percent.

Adult Swim continued to claim the total day ratings for young adults and young men, ranking No. 1 atop all ad-supported cable networks in total day deliver of adults and men in the 18-34 and 18-24 age brackets.

Bakugan DVDs Arrive in August

Vivendi and Nelvana have teamed up to bring anime series Bakugan to DVD in Canada. The first DVD release will feature the first five episodes of the series and is due for release Aug. 26. Warner Home Video will release the first Bakugan: Battle Brawlers DVD on the same day in the U.S. The single-disc release will sell for $14.98 and include trading card pack-ins.

Based on a hugely popular strategic card game played with magnetic, spring-loaded marbles (from Sega Toys and Spin Master), the toon is about small spheres from a distant universe that morph into powerful warriors. Young Dan and his friends use the Bakugan to fight for the future of mankind.

Bakugan is a co-production of Nelvana Enterprises, Spin Master, Sega Toys, TMS Entertainment, Japan Vistec and Sega. The series airs on Teletoon in Canada, and on Cartoon Network in the United States. Bakugan debuted in Japan on TV Tokyo in 2007. To date, 51 episodes of the show have been produced.A Spin Master spokesperson recently told The Boston Globe that the company expects to sell $100 million worth of the games, cards, and characters in the U.S. this year.

"Dramacon" Creator Signs Animation Deal

Svetlana Chmakova, creator of the successful Dramacon manga published by Tokyopop, has just signed a deal for a 52-episode animated series to be released in the fall of 2009. Titled My Life Me, the series will follow the ups and downs of a group of four tweens. The comedy series will be aimed at kids 8-12 and will be targeted for mobile and video-on-demand platforms.

Own a Piece of the Hulk!

With The Incredible Hulk hitting theaters this Friday, Marvel has opened several auctions for costumes worn by Edward Norton (Bruce Banner) and Liv Tyler (Betty Ross) in the movie. You can check out the auctions via this link where soon they will also be auctioning off two Humvees!

The Incredible Hulk, directed by Louis Leterrier, also stars Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell and William Hurt.

'Brendan and the Secret of Kells' Animation Film at Annecy '08

An international co-production guided by Cartoon Saloon (Ireland), the feature film animation 'Brendan and the Secret of Kells' tells the 9th Century adventure of one young man to fulfill his destiny to complete Ireland's legendary book of illumination. Directed by Tomm Moore, "Secret of Kells" will be one of many interesting productions on display at the 2008 Annecy Int'l Animation Festival. Read more here. An unofficial teaser video is below.

"Popeye: Volume 3" & "Popeye & Friends: Volume 2" Coming to DVD reports that Warner Bros. will release Popeye the Sailor - Volume 3: 1941-1943 and Popeye & Friends: Volume 2.

Popeye the Sailor - Volume 3: 1941-1943 will be a 2 disc set featuring 32 digitally remastered and unedited shorts. Many of the toons will consist our favorite sailor during World War II.

Popeye & Friends: Volume 2 will feature four cartoons from the 1987 CBS aired Hanna-Barbera produced cartoon Popeye & Son.

Both sets will be in stores on September 30th.

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